Monday, October 21, 2013

I'll Find A Way

Hannah's address is still:
8299 Small Block Road #622
Northlake, Texas  76262-3332
This transfer's theme was "hot mess" for good reasons. And so, in comparison with other weeks, we had a really nice break. Quite pleasant, one might say.

First of all. Cold front. Coming in nicely. We wear tights almost every day and I have a good reason to wear my scarves. Me likey. We freeze, but I still look fantastic because I'm not dripping in sweat and gross-nast. It feels like CA.

Second of all! I met my 3rd GA! [a "GA" is General Authority, meaning one of the global church leaders as opposed to the local ones]  Elder Rafael Pino of the 70 came into town! It was so cool, he and his wife didn't speak English and so they had translators. It's awesome to have that kind of experience where it doesn't matter what language is spoken, the spirit is the same. I know all my foreign missionary friends are like "psh, n00b" but really! I thoroughly enjoy that experience without having to learn another language myself.

I ended up taking 4 pages of notes with Elder Pino. Everything he said was just GOLDEN! But what I remember most was the love that was felt. You can always tell when someone is truly Christ-Like because they will be the happiest person ever. They'll laugh, be sweet, be funny.... good company to have, really. Elder Pino struck me very hard about what love really means. Everybody thinks that love is something fruity, something hearts-and-flowery. Little do people realize that Love is pretty dang hardcore. When you love something (or someone) you find a way to do what is asked and you're happy doing it. You're happy to burn your ships and bridges to the homeland so that you can stay here and grind away. You're happy to see people who smell like smoke, have scary tattoos, and who manage to find a button-up shirt and make their way to church on Sunday. You're happy to go down scary country roads just to find that one Less-Active. Love takes you miles and miles farther than fascination or even obsession ever could. Look at the Savior's perfect example and tell me that's not hardcore.

I'm really impressed with Trinity and Kaylee. Speaking of miles, they've made lots of 'em in spiritual progression. I'm stunned silent everytime they talk! There are some Less-Active members of that family and it's SO COOL to see the spirit come upon them as they decide to get back into it. Kaylee's fiancé (Shawn) has gotten happier and lighter. He stands up to shake our hands now. He's worried when he comes home late that he might've missed us. Keanu (Trinity's other uncle), at 14, understands how Satan works. He understands WHEN Satan works. And his mustard seed of faith is growing into an impressive tree that I want to take shade in.

When faced with a difficult decision to obey a certain commandment, Kaylee straightway said "Well, I'll find a way." I wonder what would happen if every missionary ever had that mindset.... But tying it all in together, Love makes you find a way. It's so easy to say "mmyyyehhhhhhh well....... I don't want to" and so very difficult to say "well, I'll find a way." Heck, Christ found a way. Joseph Smith found a way. Sometimes that way is reeeeaaallly difficult. But if you really love it, how difficult is it?

I understand how my mom puts up with me now. Well... Kind of.

Have a great week! Love somebody!!!
Sister Gunson

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I Would Walk 500 Miles and I Would Walk 500 More

Hannah has a new address! Send her stuff, if you are so inclined. Letters are her favorite.
8299 Small Block Rd #622
Northlake, Texas
Begin transmission.
Hey Y'all!

So, before I get into this week, I'd like to tell some funny stories. One: I got hit on again. A truck literally pulled us over as we were walking and straight up asked if either me or Napper were single. Single to the glory of God, sir, thanks.

Second: Our favorite family in the ward had us over for dinner and as we were leaving, they took their 4 monstrous pugs on a walk. They were running everywhere and as the husband was trying to corral them, their flock of guinea hens started coming out to join the party and it was a site to behold.

Third: I ate alligator. We found a Cajun restaurant and had some 'gator po boys. So. Good.

Fourth: Dad, I had Babe's and it's nothing to scream about. Just big servings.

So, this week started out with a break-up from Peyton and Tori's mom. She said that they're moving "too fast" and that their dad wants them to wait. A while. All of this by text, no less. It was a harsh blow to see that, once again, Agency is at it's most pill-ish. Our ZL's (zone leaders) even called us and said "WHAT HAPPENED?!" But they left us with the reminder that God deals with this everyday and there are still prophets and miracles. We just have to wait..... I hate wait.

With that dark cloud looming over the week, for some reason, the energy-sucker came to town and left me and Napper void of much muscle-movement. We're eating right, we're sleeping during the allotted hours... what's the deal?! We try and push and power through... by the time we're done planning, we basically crawl to the shower, crawl to the bed... 5 seconds later the alarm clock rings and it continues.... ad nauseum. This leaves us thinking "WHAT GIVES?! We're doing the very best we can, why is this happening? Is this going to be... forEVER?!" We're very confused and I'm left thinking "Am I killing the natural man, or just myself?"

It was a really rough and really really weird week. IN addition to the missionary work, one night, as we were coming home, we saw 3 women, looking for these 2 teenagers. One of them was deaf and we had to communicate through a notebook. The deaf woman saw us and frantically scrawled "I'M A MORMON TOO" on the page. Immediately, we asked her for her bishop and her home-teacher's numbers. Her daughter had run away and, because we're not actually people, we couldn't run out with flashlights and search. We did the best we could, but eventually, her bishop told us to go home and that they would take care of it.

It just reminds me of what we're really out here to do. As missionaries, we have to find those who are hopelessly lost, those who are hopelessly low. Some of them don't even know it. PMG (Preach My Gospel) tells us to "find the elect" and that the elect will be those who will listen, yearn and thirst for the gospel we bring them. One might be so inclined to ask "why in the world would you do this to yourself? What could you possibly get out of this?"

At the end of the week, our littlest investigator, Trinity, brought a friend. Well, her uncle did. We gained a new, elect investigator!! Her name is Kaylee, and she wants to get baptized "really really bad!" At church on Sunday, about half a pew was full of Trinity's Less-Active family, among them her uncle and her uncle's fiancé (this is Kaylee). We asked the gramma (the responsible adult in charge) if we could teach her too. Kaylee jumped at the chance and said "YES! I want to, please teach me, can you come over tonight?" Later that night, as we were teaching both Trinity and Kaylee, the spirit settled so strongly. Shawn (Trinity's Uncle) and Keanu (Trinity's other uncle) were so involved and even supplied parts of the Restoration story that they remembered. They even testified of it's truth! Both Trinity and Kaylee easily identified the Spirit and knew exactly how it testified to them that this was true. By the time we asked Kaylee if she wanted to be baptized, she looked at us like "Why didn't you guys ask me before?!" She said "YES! Please, I want to really really bad! We've been talking about this all day!"

Despite a supreme lack of energy and emotional strength, I would walk over 1000 miles, knocking on door after door for these small moments. They're few and far between and they're worth more than all the bad days in the world.

But do your missionaries a favor and give them a bottle of water while they're walking, okay?

I love y'all! Be good!
Sister Gunson

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Awaaaaaaaaake Myyy Souul

The only thing I'm trunky for is Mumford and Sons, thanks for asking.

Well folks, General Conference, to a missionary, is better than Christmas. You get SOOOO much good loot, spiritually fed, and by the time you waddle out of the house, you're so happy, you don't mind waiting for a forever till it comes again. Texas was even cold this weekend so Sister Napper and I got to break out our boots and socks and cardigans. I never really stopped wearing scarves.....

Well, some good news before I launch into my General Conference findings, we have another new little investigator who, of her own desire, wanted to take the missionary discussions and get baptized!! She's 9 years old, her name is Trinity and she invited us to invite her to be baptized. Man, I love kids out here. They say stuff like "yes m'am" and "pleased to meet you."

Now. Conference.

If you couldn't tell, this theme was "Brace yourselves, storm's a-coming." But because the prophets and apostles are speaking (essentially, Christ) we didn't get talk after talk of "brace yourselves." It was really cool to me because my question to Heavenly Father was "Okay, what do I need to do in order to become who You want me to be?"

A mission breaks a missionary down and builds them back up again the way God wants them to be. Lately, the chink in the armor that the adversary has tried to exploit has been my worthiness, my strength, my ability to endure and my ability to grow stronger. I think a lot of people forget that the final step in repentance is forgiving yourself. I hadn't done that yet and was carrying a needless weight around. This particular conference not only witnessed to me my own abilities and potential, but it gave me all the things I need to do in order to get better, to gain "spiritual stamina" as Elder Maynes said.

The question throughout my mission--and as President Monson says, our entire lives-- is "Shall I falter or shall I finish?" My all-time favorite scripture has been and probably always will be 2 Nephi 4:17-29. That's why I love the Mumford and Sons song "Awake My Soul" so much. Not just the banjo frenzy, but because of Nephi's own personal lament and hope in lieu of.

Sometimes, I think Marcus Mumford must be a Mormon. So many good songs, so many gospel correlations.

So what did YOU learn from conference? (Hopefully to do more MEMBER MISSIONARY WORK)
Love, Sister Gunson
Editor's note for those not of the Mormon faith:
1."trunky" means to miss home (comes from packing your trunks)

2. General Conference happens twice a year.  It's an entire weekend--5 sessions, 2 hours each--when we get to listen to our leaders teach us.  We can go to our chapels and watch on a satellite feed or go in person to the conference center or listen/watch on the internet or cable channels at home.  It is simultaneously translated into I don't know how many languages (a lot).  It is always very inspired and inspiring.  It is on for those of us who like to listen multiple times, in case you would like to hear some of the talks.  The prophet spoke several times.  He can also be quite funny.

3.  The scripture to which Hannah refers is from a prophet named Nephi.  In this particular chapter he is lamenting his own personal weaknesses but then declares his faith and regains strength through Christ.  I personally have relied on the last 3 verses quoted below.  It has given me power when I thought I had none. As follows:

" 17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great agoodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

 18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.

 19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

 20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.

 21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.

 22 He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.

 23 Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.

 24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.

 25 And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.

 26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?

 27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?

 28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.

 29 Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.

 30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation."


Hi!  Sorry I wasn't able to send out Hannah's letter last Monday.  I was in Italy (I know, poor me...).
Hannah also sent me personal letter and is very, very grateful for all the letters she receives.  THANK YOU!!!!!  She even got a card from a friend in Lithuania! (Thanks, Simonas!)
Also, I would like to share this part of her letter to me because it really moved me:
"....I've discovered a love for HIM that propels me forward, to do the things I think are hard and painful.  It's not just swallowed up in Him--my wants just take a backseat and I joyously put them there.  I'm growing stronger and I can FEEL IT!!!!"
Love y'all,
Hey y'all!

Okay, so, um, cool story, PEYTON AND TORI ARE GETTING BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!! I've already started in on the Heavenly deal-making to make sure it's gonna go through. And because that's basically the big event that happened this week, I'm gonna talk about that today.

For the first time in my entire mission, Sister Napper and I went on a split. I took a member, she took a member, and we divided and conquered. She went to re-activate some less-actives, and I went to take on a 13 year old, a 12 year old, and Rocky's rival. When we get there, because I don't have another sister to balance teaching with, the member gravitated towards Zela and I began teaching L3, by myself. Let me repeat: I am, for the most part, alone in this lesson.

L3 is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's the easiest lesson in PMG other than the 10 commandments because it's my purpose: Faith, Repentence, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost, Endure to the End, amen. I taught through an analogy of growing plants, and at the very end, I asked if they wanted to be baptized. They both were enthusiastic!!

Their mom said "Okay, but you guys have to know exactly why you're choosing this church to get baptized in." Tori said "Well, I guess if I can't get baptized in their church, I'll get baptized in another." and Peyton said "That's not how it works. They don't do it right. I'm getting baptized into this church!" and she pointed at my nametag. So I said "Okay guys, how about we set a goal to be baptized on this date, okay? And then you have to read your scriptures and come to church, we'll come twice a week and teach you everything-- that sound like a deal?" Peyton turned to her mom and said (rather forcefully) "Kay, Mom, we're going to church on Sunday."

Now, their mom is an epic woman-- and a less-active who's a little firm in her in-activity. So she's been supportive, but also testing the girls to see if this is actually something they'll do. So she challenged Peyton and said "Why? Why is this church different from others?" Peyton quickly said "I actually feel loved here. I'm happier, the people worship God differently, they mean it. It's better than the other church."

I have never seen more fierce resolve in anybody I've ever taught. I don't think anybody's ever had to fight for it as hard as she has. I am so proud to be her spiritual sister. Every time we dish out a commitment, she says "done." She's on FIYAHHH!!!

I'd really like to be that kind of person... To just say "done" whenever God asks me to do something.  I've come to really learn and love my covenants and the ability we have to make those 2-way promises. God never said the way was easy, but the yoke is light. So that's the way we gotta go.

Dude this is so hard but it's so good.
Love, Sister Gunson