Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Has This Been Here the Whole Time?

Man, I love my mission. Every dang moment of it. Even when I hated it, I secretly loved it. You know those obnoxious couples (like my parents) who are soooo in love and can't stop talking about how awesome the other is? I'm like that about my mission.

Anyways. First, a funny story. Last p-day, I ditched the blonde. I decided to go for a nice conservative dark brown... in so doing, I managed to find a  secret, concealed burgundy amongst the ashier colours and the burgundy gained the upper-hand in the colour-wrestle that ensued... Long story short, I went from Rapunzel to the Little Mermaid. We ran to the market to grab another box of almost black brown to mute it. A week later, it's subdued to an auburn cast of brown. So I know repentance is real and that the Lord makes a way for our escape.

We started teaching a UTA student (I'll call her Woah.... you'll see why if you keep reading) that we found from an on-campus event last week. As we started talking more, she said that she works summers at a Scout Camp-- and subsequently ran into several Returned Missionaries. They quickly shared the gospel with her and gave her a Book of Mormon. She found us through the LDSSA (Latter Day Saint Student Association) at that aforementioned on-campus event, came to church last Sunday... and now she's our favorite investigator! Have you ever met the elect...? You haven't till you meet Woah. She's always felt there was something more than what her non-denominational friends were teaching and what the world was preaching... She's already living the Word of Wisdom(we didn't even teach her that yet! Go RM friends!!) and has seen the benefits and blessings from it. She prays and reads every night and diligently searches. She's INCREDIBLE. I've never been so blessed to teach and discuss with her!

Our Part Member/Less Active relationship broke up... which is funny because we totally called (prophesied?) it in weekly planning. The Spirit told us to sit back and watch... and told us that we had to work with them separately because their paths and goals were totally different. Sure enough... they broke up, moved out, and now we're meeting with them separately. We also have this habit of texting the Less Active right as he's about to light up a cigarette. We're working really hard to help him keep the Word of Wisdom. He's down to alcohol!!

On Wednesday, we sat down In the foyer before Institute to teach A Work of Salvation.  When he left, a non member and her LA friend came in and shortly therafter, One Month walked in. When she walked out, an RM and his friend came in.  So...  In about 45 minutes, we marathon taught 5 or so different people. It was really cool... the spirit would just direct us to the next person as to what they needed and the questions to ask. I grabbed an Ensign, not knowing why... and used it 5 different times. It was one of the neatest things to sit back with Christensen the 2nd and be all ".... did that really just happen?" And then someone gave us chocolate. I guess the church is true.

Earlier in the week, we had gone to dinner with 2 sweet members. One of them was a convert of 3 years and the other had just started coming back to church a year ago. We started talking about how awesome missions were and I could feel the gears turning... well on Fast Sunday, they both got up, bore testimony, and announced that they would be going on missions!! I ran up there and had to establish their words. I got to bear testimony of how my mission has changed me. The greatest miracle I've ever seen in this process--and there have been many-- has been me. I never thought this would happen, but I am becoming the person I imagined I would be in the MTC.

I got to share my Jacob 5:75 story to Superman and our YSA advisors. I could never have imagined in July of 2008, sitting on the UNLV campus, that I'd be here in Texas.... the advisor started crying and I wanted to cry and the sweetest spirit just PERMEATED the room. I'm so glad I went on a mission.

Final thoughts: IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A SIGN OR ANSWER FROM GOD AS TO WHETHER OR NOT YOU SHOULD SERVE A MISSION, HERE IT IS: DO IT. It is the greatest thing you could ever do. Feel like Heavenly Father is letting you choose? DO IT. You will never regret it.

Woah has lived across the Institute building for about 2 years now, I think. She's driven and walked past it so many times. She finally got into the building and in our first lesson, she said "I can't believe I've walked past this-- has this been here the whole time??" Not only has the Institute been here for a while, but the gospel is here.  We walk into this random gas station food joint called Epic Cones, in walks one of the employees about to start her shift, sees our name tags and shouts across the room "hey sisters!! I'm a Less Active member!!" we say "no way!! come to church!!"  We pass some guy in Target who's been taking the lessons for 9 months with the elders in some other ward and we commit him to be baptized, with journals and pens as our witness and he says "yeah, I think I should do that... I'll tell the elders tonight."  We get hit on walking to our apartment at the end of the night and instead of giving our number, we give a pamphlet, get his number, and send the elders to his door.

You finally see who you are to God. These miracles have been here this whole time. This gospel has been here this whole time. Where are you?

Servin' in Texas, that's where.

Have a great week y'all! Love ya!
Sister Gunson

PS: have some pictures.

My new hair and the back of my name tag

PS from Janet:  Hannah sent me a "before" picture of her hair--it was PURPLE.


So YSA is different.... haha I've been serving in a family ward for so long I forgot that people my age existed. So it's been fun trying to talk to them.... I'm so very very awkward. A sister in the ward started calling me Sister Goober and it hasn't been a full week. 

But other than my supreme awkwardness, it's been AWESOME. It's good to get some change... I needed something new in which to forget myself. It's interesting to see the reasons why I'm here come popping out of the woodwork. I really questioned for a while if YSA was really where I was needed... it was just so out of the blue! But in the past couple of days... I've seen a lot. 

We taught Sweet Soul in a McDonalds. He doesn't have a car so he's limited to the places he can go. (Side note: He lives right past the Ranger stadium... And the Cowboys Stadium... and Six Flags. It was pretty fun driving past 'em) We're in this McDonalds and he's just bearing his soul to us and we're telling him he's a son of God and if he read his scriptures and said his prayers and came to church, his life would build back up.... IN A MCDONALDS. Ah, the sweet vicissitudes of mission life. The best part was after our lesson, we saw 2 teenagers and we contacted them. Taught L1 and L2. The entire time, one of the kids was like "man, I need to be a Mormon. I'm gonna be a Mormon. I'm texting my Mormon friend and telling him I'm joining!!" Sister Christensen and I left McDonalds and doubled over in laughter. We were quoting him the rest of the night. 

We had a baptism on Saturday too!! One Month is SUCH a sweetheart! She was so tender the whole week/weekend... it was good to talk to her. I didn't get to walk this path with her, but seeing the end results was really cool. So proud of her!! And we have another baptism this weekend!! Stay tuned!! 

Last night, we taught Stinker... and he's basically a younger Joker except I don't click with him as much as I did the Joker. Same sort of situation... He was in the military--and saw stuff-- and now has doubts. And I looked at him and said "Do you believe the Atonement is real?" and he said "I don't know, it's hard for me to believe what I can't see." I testified that the Atonement was something you can see and feel. As I said that, I thought about everybody in Euless, everybody in Lantana, everybody in Justin and everybody in River Trails.... Heck, everybody back home, myself included!! I've never had so much conviction that something was true as when I testified of the Atonement in that instance.

So for anybody that doubts whether or not God is real, if He loves you, if Jesus really died to save you, then come to church, partake of the sacrament and watch yourself literally change. You CAN become a better person and you WILL be with His help. He can loose any addiction, climb any mountain, trudge through every swamp and He understands everything you're going through. And He is so anxious to help you that He enlisted me, the goobiest goober in the world to preach His perfect gospel. They let me out of the MTC -- I don't know how-- so that I could tell the world the glad tidings of great joy. This is a message of hope. SO GO SPREAD IT. 

Share your little raindrop of goodness because this world needs it!! You can't completely eradicate darkness... but we can overcome it! Always look to the light and find 5 good things out of any situation!! And be sure to share that with others because everybody needs a reminder. 

Well folks... I'm teaching punks, frat boys, hipsters, just about anything you can find on your average college campus.... and I LOVE IT!!! 


Love, Sister Gunson 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Don't Knock It 'Til You Try It!

Hannah's email if you only have time for a couple lines:
Her address if you can write more:  1500 West Lovers Lane #216
  Arlington, TX 76013

I do not like emailing on not-Mondays.... so if this is a tad hurried... oh well.

SO THIS WEEK WAS KINDA PRETY COOL. We had interviews with President and he and I had a real nice chat. It wasn't a heavy deep doctrinal cry your eyes out kind of interview. We talked like peers about the work. I love President. We had to leave early because we got to go to the UTA campus and do like a freedom of speech thing where all the clubs get on campus in a giant strip-mall kind of fashion. We had an incredible turnout at the on-campus event!! 47 sign-ups and 3 of them came to church on Sunday!! WHOOHOO
One of our (investi)gators, Song.... is..... starting to make progress. He came to institute (DyC went wayyy over his head) but had a good chat with our bishop who made him promise to read the BofM. As we were walking out, one of our convert members grabbed him and told him his story. We drove past the two walking and talking and Sister C the 2nd (Hannah had another companion named Sister Christensen..) and I were like ".... woah." It's the feeling you get when you watch miracles take place.
We made progress with one of our PMLA (part member/ less active families)... well, they're not families (hence the YSA  (Young Single Adult) part of my proselyting demographic) but in a relationship. By himself, he's cut down on so many of his Word of Wisdom issues. This week, he decided to quit smoking hookah and yesterday he stopped the chew. He let us smash his hookah heads (thus rendering them un-usable) as a kind of "get thee hence" party. I really like my mission.
We had a good, real honest conversation with Sweet Soul.... in McDonalds again...  where we laid it all out for him. We drew him a little road map (and I am so stinking proud of that teaching aid!!) of how to get from here to the Celestial Kingdom. We kept no secrets (except for those which are sacred...) and at the end he said "Okay.... okay I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'M GONNA COME TO CHURCH TOMORROW!!!" He grabbed our hands and was kinda shaky. We could feel the spirit just FLOOD his body and he was so giggly and giddy he didn't know what to do with himself. And then HE DID come to church! And stayed for 2 hours! (we thought he'd only make it to the sacrament meeting) and he even spoke up in sunday school!!
So President had set a date with One Month's dad (who's been studying with the elders in the family ward). We get to her house, planning on teaching her when her dad says  "Sisters.... I'm gonna throw a curveball at you" he told us that he had said yes to the date to get them off his back... but then we had an honest conversation with him and at the end, he said "well... I have no fear now! I'm getting baptized!" We just hope it sticks. I love having honest conversations with people. It's my all-time favorite thing to do as a missionary is to just ask people questions, listen and watch the Spirit teach them.
And then we ended the week with a baptism!!! Superman is probably the funniest convert I've ever met... he came to his baptismal interview wearing his Superman onesie because he had worn it to work for pajama day. My kinda convert. Our pictures that we sent into the mission office are PRICELESS-- so I sent them to you. Happy Birthday!  
Twas an excellent week. I love it here. I couldn't even begin to tell you how much I love this place. Or how much I love my mission. Sister Christensen and I have a lot of really good conversations--it's like the companionship study just goes on all day. It's awesome to be able to talk again. She tells me that I motivate her to work and to help her not think of home, that I have a "live like you're dying" mentality.... yeah, well, I do. I hate sitting (unless I'm teaching), I hate the car, I LOVE awkward missionary moments and I LOVE THIS GOSPEL AND HE WHO FOUNDED IT.

This area is gonna teach me a lot about how to not strangle my future kids though.... We get a lot of those just-barely-out-of-their-teens and they say stuff to get a rise and they're not committed, and then they blame stuff on Heavenly Father and they're all 'I'M SO DONE WITH THIS." Dude... you haven't even tried it. You can't quit something you don't start-- so don't do drugs and pick up the Book of Mormon!! Because there's a lot of good stuff in there. You can't say you hate Mormons until you spend time with them! So call the missionaries! And we'll help you figure out if you like us or not ;)

Have a great week!!


Love, Sister Goober (somebody in the YSA nicknamed me as thus.)

Ofa' Atu, Euless

Heeeeeyyyyyyyy ttthhhhheeeeeerrreeeee.... 

Well.... I'm being transferred. Everybody say BOOOOOO. By way of quasi-eulogy for my time spent here, I'd like to say a few things. Euless was HARD. I struggled and stretched in so many different ways but now I'm flexible and buff. Nothing was easy here and it all inched along. But yesterday, our Ward Mission Leader had some kind of fire under him for missionary work and he took over the whole Ward Council and advocated like a boss. He made the auxiliaries take responsibility for finding. There's a family that we've been trying to work with to get to the temple and he said "GET THE MISSIONARIES OUT OF THERE, IT'S OUR RESPONSIBILITY." I looked across the room at our elders and we just about burst into proud tears. I am so immensely proud of the progress we've made, the baptisms we've seen, the miracles we've worked... not just as an area, but as a zone. The Colleyville Zone is NOT the hardest zone in the mission-- it's the hardest-WORKING ;) 

I've had some time to reflect on true success as a missionary... mostly because I've been on my soapbox preaching at Sister Kuli in efforts to improve moral. There are several things I can't stand in life.  #1: the fact that Disney put Ariel-- a REDHEAD-- in a PINK dress (COME ON, REALLY??) #2: Agency (elaboration: when people do dumb things because they have been given agency. Agency is a glorious principle, I picked the right third y'all, don't worry...) #3: the devilish depression that comes from negative thought processes-- especially when they concern your individual worth and self-confidence. DON'T GIVE PLACE FOR THE ENEMY OF YOUR SOUL. 

We've lost You Asked For It as a progressing investigator. Every time she talks, I get these flashbacks of 1Nephi 29. So that was a painful lesson to go through, having her kick dirt on stuff she once praised. Gotye missed church yesterday, so he can't get baptized in August. September is still on the map though!! The Boy that Lived continues to come to church and stay all 3 hours and usually give us a lift home! But the hardest part of this week was seeing the disintegration of True Grit's grit. And it's all because she hasn't been partaking of the sacrament weekly. 

I honestly don't know how people can forget this stuff. Then again, Laman and Lemuel saw angels and heard the voice of God and then went on to teach their children to hate their cousins. But to this, I say "get over yourself, and CPR!!" (Janet's note:  I think that means "Church, Pray, Read")

I'm doing the Bednar challenge (Elder Bednar is a current, living apostle)-- which is when you take one of a million plain blue BofMs, write a question on the spine (or inside cover) and search that book for the answer to your question. President has asked us to do this in preparation for the coming of a general authority (church leader). I've decided to focus on how to make myself (or stay) forever strong and converted to this gospel. And in everything I've read so far (I'm still in 1nephi....) it struck me that hardening your heart is the start of moral disintegration. 

So, my last soapbox stance in Euless is this: DON'T HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AGAINST THIS. If you have a problem, PRAY. SEEK GUIDANCE. Answers do come-- they always come to the humble and penitent learner who seeks with real intent. 

Other than that, no new adventures to report. Stay tuned for the Arlington YSA chapter..... *shudder* YSA..... I shrink to think of the close contact with my demographic I'll be having. Guys, I like primary, okay? Primary is THE PLACE. 

Love, Sister Gunson


Who's Gonna Stop Me?

Ayn Rand once said "it's not about who's going to let me-- it's about who's going to stop me." With that in mind, I open this digital soapbox. 

This week was pretty full of cool stories. Last week was crazyness, this week it's been adventure time with the spirit. We started it off with an INCREDIBLE Zone Council (oh yeah-- we've changed the name from Training to Council. BOOM. More spiritual efficiency.) It cam etime to decide our baptismal goals for August and September.... May I remind you that Colleyville isn't exactly a Brazilian mission (sorry for the could-be-take-as-a-deragatory-remark, I love you Brazil and I'm almost sorry y'all didn't win the world cup, there's nothing wrong with a Brazil mission, I'm just saying y'all have some stereotypes in your statistics....). Our current ZL was serving here in the Tongan Wards and it was a miracle if they were able to get 2 baptisms a month. SO when our ZL writes a huge 8 on the board and says "I think 8-- what do y'all think?" we all were like "........ hm." Here's what was going on in my head: I started to get a little jaded about our area. I was like "yeah, we could baptize in September, I don't know about August though... that'd take a miracle" and I still haven't learned that Heavenly Father answers prayers, dag-gummit!! The other half of our zone was like "that's... impossible, let's not get our hopes too high" and the other half was saying "OH YE OF LITTLE FAITH!!" We went into overtime by about 20 minutes. We said "okay, let's write everybody on the board with any slim chance of making it to baptism in August." Not including the 2 already dunked and the 4 projected.... 10 names were on that board. About 10 minutes later, we were all in agreement that we were gonna move Heaven and Hell to get this goal!! It is a big miracle... but it is doable. Because all things are doable with a limitless God to back you up (WHY HAVEN'T WE LEARNED THIS YET) 

So what's become of that horrible french I've been learning and attempting to speak...? Well, it's invited two people to baptism!! Gotye and our newest investigator are Congo-French speakers and they've both accepted baptism!! AND GOTYE ACCEPTED AN AUGUST DATE!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH See, this is what happens when you believe!! THERREE CAAAAN BEEE MIRRRAAAACCCLLLEEEEEEEEESSSS!!!!!! 

Plus, the Joker came up to me before sacrament meeting yesterday and showed me his preisthood ordination interview form. August 24th is gonna be the best stake conference OF MY LIFE. There is very little stopping me from tackle-hugging this little man and his wife. 

On a sad note (for me-- my mother and Miranda are simply OVER-JOYED) I got my trunky packet this week. My ZL (he goes home with me) texted and said "SISTER GUNSON DON'T GET THE MAIL" right as I got to the mail box and I went ".... no. Sister Kuli, this big white envelope is for you." I was thinking about it that night after I said my prayers.... Guys, I can't imagine a life without these people and this place in my life. I almost cried to Awesomeness the next day cuz I told her that Texas owns some of my best friends and there is no part of my life that won't include them. It's hard for me to wrap my brain around the idea that I didn't know these people.... I remember flipping my mission call over and over in my hands.... not knowing that it contained the greatest blessing, the best decision and the greatest love I would ever know. I feel like these names were tucked away secretly in some pocket in thatr envelope.... Does that make any sense? 

Anyways.... I love Texas. I'm still in denial so y'all can count days but I will gleefully remain oblivious. 

Have a great week! 
Love, Sister Gunson 

PS: HAPPY (admittedly late) 75TH BIRTHDAY PAPA!!! KEEP ROCKIN' IT! 
PPS: Thank you to the Youth Conference kids who wrote letters-- whoever drew the dinosaur is totally making the next planner cover.

I'm Not Going Away!!!

From Hannah:

Heyyyyyyy everybodyyyy...

I got to go to the temple today. I finally felt completely peaceful. And then I left and the world sank in and now I'm like "yeeeeeuuuck get it offa meeeee!!" 

I'm trying to remember everything that happened this week... hm... well, lemme go backwards. 

I went on an exchange to Southlake with our sister training leaders-- that was awesome!! We taught some really cool lessons. I love XC's!! It gives me the chance to get out of my box for a bit, kinda clear my head! Plus my STL's are the bomb!! So I got a lot of great advice for some of my trials and struggles. It felt like I was getting my armor repaired-- if that makes sense. 

We had Zone Conference!! I got to see some of my ol' Lewisville pals!! Sista C found herself in my old town of Justin!! So we had a good talk about that... It's very interesting, she's dealing with many the same things I did when I was there. Zone Conference blew the roof-- as usual. We talked about 3 new finding ideas that aren't actually new: family history, 21 tips for better grades and a new way to use the pamphlets. All of which work tremendously when put ot good use (as directed by the spirit). We're definitely in the process of sifting the wheat from the tares... so I invite y'all to just listen to what the 2 dudes in white shirts and ties (with little black nametags) have to say. (or the 2 chicks in skirts and sensible shoes-- also with nametags) 

We went on an exchange with Ms. Awesomeness to go see a less active member. It was the saddest experience ever. This sister has placed herself so far out of the circle of influence of God's Love that she can't find her way back. She told us she was up to some really bad things and that God doesn't want her back. 



If I could say only one thing to this world, it would be this: God loves you, you little turds. I know it, I know that God knows I know it, and you could sooner turn purple with orange spots than I could ever stop believing in a loving Heavenly Father who's only mad when you forget that He loves you and has made every way possible, devised every means necessary to get your mug back into his presence.He made it possible for you to go back UNASHAMED, with honor and glory!  I know this because of You Asked For It. On Monday, when I have more time I'll tell you her story... but to every one who follows in the footsteps of this unfortunate aforementioned less active member, I say to you:  what makes your sins so special that God-- the creator of all things, Alpha and Omega, Endless is His name, He speaks and the earth melts-- can't forgive you? Who are you to tell God what His Son's Atonement can and can't do? He's limitless in His very nature!! 

Awesomness is the epitome of this. She stood at that sister's door for 5 straight minutes, just knocking. She paused every once in a while, but if you've ever seen the Big bang Theory.... She could rival Sheldon's door-knocking techniques. She knocked and knocked and said "I'm not going away! So answer the door!" 

You think YOU'VE knocked at the door till your knuckles bled? I know someone who's one-upped you. 

I know God loves you because He loves me. He's forgiven my many mistakes. And there's nothing He wouldn't do for you. 

Romans 8:16-17, 35-39. 

Just pray!! 

Sister Gunny