Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hello chilly October!

Dear Family,

I am so overwhelmed this week as I write this... I feel so much love all around me and it moves me to tears! It started right before Sister Walton and I headed to the library to email, when I picked up a package from the Post Office from Jordan. It's a "birthday package"- filled with presents for each day of the week! I was already speechless, and then I came and read all your emails this week and I am just filled with gratitude and awe for all the love and support I have. Thank you for the pictures and emails!!! I seriously must be doing something right because I truly feel like the luckiest girl alive! 

So the weather is FINALLY cooling off here in Lake Havasu. We're in the double digits and I am overjoyed about it. 95 degrees never felt so good. It's a good thing it's cooling off too, because otherwise Sister Walton just might melt - coming from Alaska and all ;) She's adjusting so well and works hard everyday. I am so grateful for her. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

New transfer, new companion!

Dear Family,

What a busy, busy week it has been! It has been exhausting, but I love when it's that way because the work feels so satisfying. My new companion is Sister Bristol Walton from Saldatna (sp?), ALASKA! Is that cool or what? She just turned 19 this summer and is very kind and sweet. I picked her up in Henderson on Wednesday, fresh out of the MTC! It was neat watching all the new Elders and Sisters come in because I was just in their position not too long ago. I reminisced on all the feelings I had when I first stepped foot off the plane in Las Vegas. What an exciting time! I'm grateful to be a part of it again with Sister Walton. 

This was one of our first conversations - 
Me: So what did you do before your mission? 
Sis. Walton: I actually spent a year up at BYU Provo.
Me: Oh, me too! Where did you live? 
Sis. Walton: In New Heritage.
Me: Oh, me too! What building were you in?
Sis Walton: Building 28
Me: Oh... ME TOO! 

Whaaat? Turns our we lived in the same building 2 floors apart, on the same side of the hall. Crazy! We took the same stairwell everyday and probably passed each other a number of times, but never once met! She grew up in Alaska and goes commercial fishing for salmon every summer... seriously amazing. She's big into snowboarding (she hit every ski resort in Utah while up at school), and has Taylor Swift hair, so naturally I like her ;) Haha but really, she is awesome and I'm excited to get to know her better. We're still in the "getting-to-know-you" stage, but we are having fun! She is fearless in diving into the work and is never hesitant to try something new - which isn't how I was when I first got out, so it's been refreshing and contagious to be around her fired up spirit! Lake Havasu/Crossman Peak Ward is the perfect area to train because the ward is so supportive, so I don't feel alone in trying to show Sister Walton the ropes. As we drove back to Havasu from Henderson, I told Sister Walton all about the ward and how lucky she is to serve there. Since Sister Cook has been the driver for the past 3 months, I didn't exactly know where I was going and we ended up getting lost in California for a bit until we finally made it back to Havasu at about 8:45 PM. Ha! We hadn't eaten since 1:00, so we were starving and whooped. The Mundy's called us up and we went over to have eggs, bacon, and toast at their house. It was a perfect welcoming gift for Sister Walton and as we walked out she said, "They were so nice!" I nodded in agreement and said, "See, I told you you'd be taken care of!" She and I have nothing to worry about as we continue to adjust into our missionary service. 

One thing I really wanted to show Sister Walton right off the bat was how important obedience and goal-setting are. They are KEY to our success! We had a long planning session on Friday, during which we made a "Plan of Action", which is basically a blue print for goal-setting that Sister Arnold showed us at Zone training a few weeks ago. In it, you prayerfully plan how many baptisms we want to have in our time together (so, 3 months), what Christlike attribute we individually want to work on, what our part in the work is, what the Lord's part in the work is, and then we say "an intense prayer to seal the deal" (Sister Arnold). After planning out everything, we wrote it up on the huge whiteboard we have in our apartment so that everyday we visualize what we're working towards in all of our efforts. We have so much work and growing to do. 

While in Vegas waiting to pick up the new missionaries, I stayed with another sister - Sister Pantoja - who is also training. During our morning studies on Wednesday, I flipped through a binder of talks/messages she's collected throughout her mission (she's been out 15 months). One of the talks was "Becoming a Consecrated Missionary" by Tad R. Callister. I'd heard of it, and I'd read a few other missionary talks similar to it, but I hadn't actually read that one yet. I was moved by a few passages in particular. I'll share some of them:

"You young missionaries came out here to change the world, to change lives, but there is a cost. It costs everything that you have on the altar of sacrifice - your fears, your pride, your laziness, your disobedience, your weaknesses; we cannot hold anything back. When you came to the mission field, you burned bridges behind you, you burned the ships in the harbor. There is NO RETREAT to your former life. You cannot have one foot at home and one foot in the mission field. That is a certain formula for frustration. The Lord demands our whole soul on the sacrificial altar. That is the price we must pay, and when we do, we then become instruments in the hands of God."
"Each of us might appropriately ask, 'What lack I yet to become a consecrated missionary?' There is no escaping it. God will demand our all. If we are shy or reserved - God will compel us to change, to be bold. He will jerk us out of our comfort zones again and again. If we are lazy or idle, he will push us and pull us even when we are exhausted. If we are disobedient, he will press us until we have child-like submissiveness. He will not let us be content with our weaknesses."  

After reading most of the talk, I felt overwhelmed. It seems I always feel that way after reading missionary talks, because all my shortcomings and weaknesses become so abundantly clear. I see where I lack in every area, and I cringe knowing I haven't reached my potential. I grow impatient, frustrated, anxious. Then I read this last passage, and I felt relief:

"I do not think the Lord expects immediate perfection of us, but I do believe he expects immediate progress, and with that progress comes consecration. I believe that He recognizes and appreciates every step we take forward, however small it may be, striving to put our whole souls on the altar of sacrifice. At first, consecration may seem like Mount Everest, unconquerable, unapproachable, unassailable, but every step we take forward, however minute it may seem, furthers our ascent, until one day we have attained the summit. May we not be content with being good, even a great missionary, when we have the capacity to be consecrated missionaries. Mormon declares with boldness: 'Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of Him to declare His word among His people that they might have everlasting life.' (2 Nephi 5;13) May it be so with each of us."

I feel like these words apply to everyone, not just missionaries. The Law of Consecration is a celestial law. It is the way of Heaven, and if we are to attain that degree of glory, we must live that law with exactness. At times that seems daunting and unachievable, but I am comforted by the promise in the Doctrine and Covenants that we will be "enabled to keep [his] laws" as we live and declare His word (D&C 44:5). 

This week I got 2 packages - one from EG and one from Sister Roaming with letters from all the Young Women. What sweet surprises! I was so touched. And of course she sent a huge bag of nuts with it (how'd she know? :) ). And EG sent some nuts too, with a candle, and socks, and a sweet card, and all kinds of other goodies. I seriously am spoiled. 

I'm so happy you read that talk I told you about by Cleon Skousen! It is such deep doctrine, but so fascinating and eye-opening. I loved it, and I refer to it regularly. I'm also happy to hear you're enjoying nursery. It must be fun to serve together. Keep me updated on house plans and work and everything. And tell Borgs to send me pictures already (!!!!!). I literally have no visuals of your summer or school year, ya chub (you can just email me them off your phone!). That's cool about the new car. But I'm so glad I didn't have to drive it (stick shift, yikes!). I've also been bragging to some members that my brother served as a football captain and that football has been going well down there in Texas, haha! Oh, and as for the "Meet the Mormons" movie that's coming out next month - I am SO thrilled about it! President Snow said we can go see it in theaters if we get an investigator to go and pay for our ticket. AHH, how exciting. Our mission made pass-along cards with the movie logo on it to pass out to people. We're not sure if it's coming to Havasu yet, but we're moving forward like it is anyways :) Haha. Tell people about it! Invite people to see it! Our stake president, President Lundin, has seen it and says it's amazing. Non-members who go to see it will view the church through whole new eyes. I can't wait!

Thank you for all the love and support you show me. It sustains me every day. I get giddy to read your emails each week!

All my love,
Sister Robinson

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Change is coming

Dear Momma,

Oh I have so much news for you! First, transfers are tomorrow! We got word about who would be going where on Saturday - we were on the edge of our seats all day until we finally got the call from our District Leader... Sister Cook is getting transferred out of Lake Havasu to the El Dorado Stake in Boulder City - exactly where she was wanting to go! And I am staying in Havasu and training, which means 3 more months here. Can you believe it - a whole 6 months in Havasu! We're driving down to Vegas tomorrow to meet and stay with Sister Cook's new companion, Sister Bohling. I'll stay with them for the night, then pick up the new sister on Wednesday. We'll stay one more night in Boulder City with Sister Cook and Sister Bohling, go to 12-Week training on Thursday morning, then pack up and head back to Lake Havasu. I feel very anxious about the change, but also excited for the growth that I am sure these next few transfers will bring. It's hard for me to wrap my head around training a brand new sister at this point, because I still feel pretty brand new myself. There's still so much I have to learn about missionary work, and I feel sure that training will be, above all else, a HUGE learning experience. I already feel like I am being completely broken down to become completely dependent on our Heavenly Father for guidance and support. Please pray for us as we begin this new chapter of our service! I am excited to fill you in on the change more next week. 

As for how the week went, it was pretty melancholy for me. I just feel so sad about leaving Sister Cook and the familiarity of working alongside her day in and day out. The ward is particularly sad to see her go, but it will be hardest for me. I just feel like I've had it so easy with her as my companion - I've been pretty spoiled - so I'm nervous to see how this next companionship goes. Regardless of what happens, I will (and already do) feel so much love for the new sister coming in. We will learn and grow so much together, and I know she'll have just as much, if not more, to teach me as I have to teach her! 

Since Sister Cook and I have birthdays just 3 days apart, and we won't be together to celebrate, we decided to have a little party at the Hauck's before Sister Cook leaves. It was supposed to be small, but ended up being a pretty big get-together (about 25-30 people). It was really special to have so many people that have become so dear to us all in one place! The Haucks, the Mundys, the Kalaulis, Bishop and Sister Hansen, the Nelsons, Sister Cawthra, and even one of our investigators, Mikey, and his 5-year-old daughter Olivia (they also happen to live right next door to the Mundys in the same duplex! Perfect fellowshipping). We had pie, cobbler, brownies, cupcakes, and rice krispy treats...  YUM! We felt so blessed. Being a missionary is so rewarding. 
One thing Bishop Hansen has really pushed for in our ward missionary work is having ward dinners. He's made it a point to put a Brother in charge of arranging a dinner in a member's home at least once a week. So, when a new family moves in, or there's a serious investigator who needs more fellowshipping, members will hold a dinner. "We need to get these people in our homes," Bishop always says. "Dinners can solve a lot of problems. Remember, social conversion is important, just as spiritual conversion is." So much of what happens on my mission, I draw back to home. I always think about how what I'm learning can be applied to my own family. As I was at the Hauck's last night, i thought of how much missionary work has been done in the Crossman Peak ward because of the fellowshipping and love of the members, and I realized that these members are just like the ones in the Leon Springs ward at home... loving, humble, kind, welcoming. Who is the ward mission leader in the ward? I can see Dad serving in that calling. I can see us having dinners in our home and being major contributors to ward mission efforts. I hope y'all are taking seriously my requests to get more involved in missionary work... there is so much to do and the blessings are truly worth any cost! 
The baptism on Saturday went well. It was a special experience having Kathy baptized. Nancy (Kathy's sister) and Roxanne (their good friend, who's also a recent convert) gave the talks, and I played the piano throughout the service (what a blessing that i know how... I didn't realize how useful it would be!).  

This coming week will be a crazy one, but change is good and I'm looking forward to working hard with the new sister! Can't wait to hear from you again - I love you!!!
Love always,
Sister Robinson

No growth in the comfort zone

Dear Family,

It's so funny to go back and read my letters from previous weeks because I see how much I sound like a missionary! I guess I've really gotten into this new chapter of my life full swing, haha! 

Will you tell Slade and EG thanks so much for their messages to me? What an incredible experience for Slade and his family to have going to India... I got chills the whole time he was telling me his story on how he felt Heavenly Father confirming his plans to move out there. I have no doubt the Lord will work miracles through him and his family during their stay in India. They are missionaries in every sense of the word!! Whether they realize it or not, they are accomplishing His purposes in the Eastern part of the world. I can't wait to hear more about their adventures! Also - tell EG that Sister Cook and I just saw on our calendar yesterday that there is a Pineapple Festival coming up in Havasu this month! Sister Cook pointed it out and we laughed at how random it was, and then EG mentioned it in her recording and we both giggled some more. Haha! Hopefully whichever of us is here then can stop by! 

I can't believe BYU beat Texas!! Woohoo, 2 years running! That's awesome that y'all got to go. And Morgan and Hannah going on a double date, too??? Wow, y'all are getting so old! 

This week was fun, but also bittersweet. Sister Cook and I know our time is running out, so we're trying to work our hardest and enjoy every minute we have left together. So many people in the ward have told us what a great companionship we make... Brother Hauck told us this week - "You know, it will be sad to see one of you go. You two make a great team and get along so well, anyone can see that. We have loved having you serve with us!" 

Last Monday night we scheduled in to stop by a less-active member's home, Sister Schneider. We drove up to her house to find a huge moving truck and boxes everywhere. We walked up the drive and offered our help, and discovered that Sister Schneider (who is a single mother of about 55) and her 2 daughters - about 15 and 22 - were doing it all themselves! Oh my heavens, it was chaos and there was so much to do.. I don't know how they were doing it alone! They were just at the tail end of packing things into the truck to move drive over to their new house just a few blocks away, but we called up the Elders Quorum President, Brother Duncan, to call some brethren up to come out and help unload. Sister Cook and I thought the chances of many men showing up were slim - it was a Monday evening and Labor Day, no less. "I'm thinking we'll get 1, maybe 2, men out here," Sister Cook said, and I nodded in agreement, starting to feel a little overwhelmed at all that was left to do. When we got to the new house, we begun unloading the truck, and within a few minutes 3 brethren were there to help. And then 3 more came. And then the bishop and his brother. And then 2 more. What?? We couldn't believe the turnout... We had the whole truck (which had taken 2 days to load with just the 3 of them) unloaded in 20 minutes! So many helping hands! Sister Cook and I left that night just beaming. As we pulled away, I said: "Sister, I imagine that it was heaven is like: we make it up there, and then slowly - one by one - our friends and family show up too. And we're just rejoicing and crying with joy and saying 'You made it? And YOU, too? And you? I'm so happy you're here!' We will just laugh and cry and think how incredible it is to be with OUR people, who are just like us, who have worked just like us, who have endured just like us." We both agreed that there is a familiarity that we feel with those who are faithful saints - a certain countenance, certain characteristics that just fall in harmony with how we're striving to live. I realized that it must be the character of Christ growing in each of us; We truly do become like Him, and in that sense, we become united. I love this verse from Moroni in the Book of Mormon: 

   48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

I think someday when we stand before our Savior, those of us who have kept His commandments, and served with all that we have and are, and been changed through His Atonement will be stunned at just how much we already know Him. What a glorious thought!

We have a baptism coming up this weekend for Nancy's sister Kathy. She is mentally handicapped (she is in her 50s, but has the mental capacity of a 7 year old), but she has a strong desire to follow in Nancy's footsteps and be baptized, so we are excited for her! We haven't been able to meet with Jose this week (he started a new job and has been super busy) - it has been a little disheartening, but we are continuing to reach out to him and try and get ahold of him! His baptism will have to be postponed, though. 

Sister Cook and I have made a concerted effort to increase our finding efforts this past week. We have nearly tripled our contacts each day! I'd like to say that it gets easier going up and talking to strangers and declaring the message of the Restoration, but it's still hard for me each day. One night we walked up to a group of people in their garage, and found ourselves in the middle of a gathering of drunk men. They began sneering at us, saying the most vile and vulgar things. I couldn't believe how inhumane they were acting! It was something that you see in movies. Sister Cook and I literally just turned around and began walking away in the dark. One of the men followed us down the driveway, yelling horrendous things about Joseph Smith and something about the Meadows Massacre. When we got to the street corner, we just ran for our car. We were both a little shaken up, but I really feel like I'm developing a tough skin! I just thought, "What sad, sad people. They really don't know what they're missing." I actually think that every time someone rejects our message.

 I like what Sister Browning told me in the MTC: "There's no comfort in the growth zone; There's no growth in the comfort zone." That is so true! I am stretching myself and my Spirit is literally growing! And as you always remind me Mom, I know I can do hard things! 

I am so happy to be where I'm at. The kind of experiences I'm having right now are invaluable, and are preparing me for the rest of my life, and for the eternities.

Here's a whole load of pictures! Enjoy! 

I love you all so much,
Sister Robinson

P.S. I got Jake's letter this week! I love you Jakey! Thank you for writing! What's your new school address? Also, yes Elizabeth can email me :) 

Happy birthday, Dad!

Dear Family,

Happy September! And happy birthday Dad! I can tell the alzheimers is already setting in, you old man you. I love that y'all send me voice recordings. I bet Sister Cook gets annoyed with how much I laugh out loud listening to them while we email, but oh well, haha. 

I'm excited to hear about the Texas v. BYU game! My guess is Texas. Also, it's hard to believe school is starting up again at BYU today. There's a girl in Crossman Peak who just headed up for her Freshman year there and I think I overwhelmed her as I ranted and raved about how much she is going to love it. I still remember the day I flew up to Utah for school so clearly! Where does the time go?

It's been a roller coaster of a week! We went on exchanges again on Thursday - this time Sister Arnold came over to Crossman Peak with Sister Cook. I went with Sister Lowry in Acoma and even just being in their apartment I learned so much! Sister Arnold has her desk covered with mission focused quotes and pictures. She doesn't keep any pictures of her family up - just ones with all her converts and companions at their baptismal services. Here are some of the quotes she has pasted everywhere:
-"10 baptisms by Oct. 28th... Become preoccupied with this. Thoughts prove an effect as literal as physical exertion. FAITH"
-"Thrust in your sickle with your whole soul"
-"Let your minds be centered on your missions"
-"Concentrate now on the souls only you can touch. Rejoice and have tons of fun."
-"Smile focus obedience work"
-"You have 4 months to change as much as possible. Don't waste a second."
-"Next time you pray or meditate, see if you have power and control over your mind sufficiently that you can keep it from wandering when you're attempting to commune with the Lord."
-"Am I doing my best? Am I withholding nothing from the Lord? Am I serving with all my heart, might, mind, and strength? Am I faithful and giving it all I have to give? How to measure success."
-"Sister Arnold, guard your prayers."

Is that dedication or what?? I was taken aback by her absolute focus on the HERE and NOW in her mission. It made me take a step back and reevalute. What more can I be doing? How can I improve? We got back from exchanges and Sister Cook was pumped. She and Sister Arnold had gotten the most contacts and new investigators in one day than she ever had before! "Sister, WE CAN DO THIS. We just need to have more faith. We need to focus more on our daily goals and literally do EVERYTHING in our power to achieve them. If there's no one outside to talk to, drive around until there is! I feel like I'm seeing what missionary work is supposed to be like for the first time since I've been out." I was in shock. And to be honest, at first pretty discouraged because I felt like I couldn't achieve what they had achieved together that day. But the next day I got over that pitty party and decided to apply myself and really test my faith. It's amazing how much I'm learning about real faith is, and seeing how minimal my faith has been up to this point compared to what it could and should be. "Be filled with so much FAITH that there is NO ROOM for FEAR, Sister." Sister Cook was determined to show me how powerful we can be when we really apply the principle of faith and work and diligence and obedience. And that day we met our goals of new investigators and contacts - something we'd never achieved before! As we drove home, I just couldn't wrap my mind around it. Heavenly Father really had heard our earnest prayers and as we worked and labored and put forth every effort throughout the day, the right people fell into our laps. It was a miracle! So exhausting, but we came home that night so satisfied and proud of our efforts that day. The trick now is learning how to dig down deep enough to make that happen every single day. Baby steps. But oh, how I am learning! If you saw Sister Cook and I at the time I got to Havasu up till now, you would see a day and night difference. We have come so far!

I have been thinking a lot about the importance of personal study this week. I love this passage from chapter 2 of Preach My Gospel:
"The Lord has said, 'Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then sahll your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men' (D&C 11:21). To teach effectively, you need to obtain spiritual knowledge. For you to grow in the gospel and stay on the path that leads to eternal life, you need to develop a habit of gospel study (see D&C 131:6)." 
If we are not studying - REALLY studying - daily, we are not growing in the Gospel. And there really is no such thing as a standstill. We're either moving forward or backward on our path to eternal life... where are we at right now? We have every resource to deepen our understanding of the Gospel right at our fingertips. Gospel Study MUST be a priority. Please please please don't take it lightly! I know I sound like a broken record, but one of the best ways to start today is to study out of Preach My Gospel. I love what M. Russell Ballard said in his conference talk in April: "Brothers and Sisters, can you imagine the impact if family and friends included things they are learning from their personal study of Preach My Gospel in their letters and emails to their full-time missionaries? Can you picture the blessings that will come to families when they know and understand better what their sons and daughters will be studying and teaching on their missions? Can you even begin to fathom the extraordinary outpouring of atoning grace that will be ours, individually and collectively, according to the Savior's promise to all who bear testimony in the process of inviting souls to come unto Him- and then following up on those invitations?" Earlier in the talk he says, "...I invite all members, regardless of your current calling or level of activity in the church, to obtain a copy of Preach My Gospel... Read it, study it, and then apply what you learn to help you understand how to bring souls to Christ through invitation and follow-up. As President Thomas S. Monson has said, 'Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord's vineyard to bring souls unto Him.'" It is such a good talk. And he is so right! What blessings will come as we all study the same doctrine together. 

Dustin and Jose are progressing well. Jose has a baptismal date for September 20th! We're not sure if he understands the magnitude and gravity of that decision yet, but his faith is definitely growing and we feel lucky to be teaching someone as kind-hearted and humble as him! 

That is neat that the Cobabes are the seminary teachers now. How are you liking them Borgs? Is it at their house? Does Shane Cobabe have his mission call yet? 

I've been joking with Sister Cook that I bet her letters home are filled with so many more stories than mine are - she writes the funniest things home. I gave her your email, Mom, so she can have her mom forward her emails home to you too (so you can hear how our weeks go from her perspective. Even though we only have 2 weeks left together :( ). Also, the Mundy's first names are Josh and Taleya (sp?). Brother Mundy is my friends on FB so you can look him up there. Also Toni added me as a friend and Sister Sanchez. And I think Sister Kalauli was going to look you up too because she wanted to send you a video of me and Sister Cook at her house. I think her first name is Nikki. 

So glad to hear the first week of school has gone well! Send me pictures please... :) Oh and I keep forgetting to mention, but how fun it must be to have the Fjords there! Hannah gets home in December, right? Are the Rossi's still moving to Boerne? Will they be in our ward? And CRAZY that Cameron is getting married and Jake will be the best man! How fun! 

I love you all so so much!!

With love,
Sister Robinson