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 ... 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."
-"ACOMA WARD IS THE BEST WARD IN THE MISSION"
-"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 ). 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 ! 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!!