Monday, December 28, 2015

The Miracle of a Mission

Well, this is it. 

If you're reading this, know that I love you! You've been reading these emails for a while now, I'm impressed! And I'm really grateful for your love and support. It means a lot. So thanks for reading along and being with me these past 18 months. It has been the best. :) 

I have been staring at the computer screen for a while now... trying to decide what to say haha. 

I feel like this past week and these past 18 months have been a dream!
 It has gone by way too fast, but it has been wonderful.
 I never cease to be amazed at the miracles that happen in the mission field.
 It is so exciting and it is so fun to be there to witness them, first hand. 

We saw so many miracles this week and I had so much fun. We had Christmas conference where I was filled with the Spirit and my heart was so happy, spent Christmas and Christmas Eve surrounded by some of my favorite people on the planet reflecting on the life and love of the Savior, knocked doors, street contacted, testified, and just tried to soak up every minute

I had my exit interview with President Wilson yesterday!
It was a bit unconventional because he usually does them at the church, but he offered to drive me down to Richmond before I leave and so we had the interview in the car on the 2 hour drive down to Richmond.
 It was such a blessing to sit across from such a great man and hear his wisdom and council and love. He has blessed my life so much and I will always remember sitting in that car with him and him grabbing my hand and telling me how we will always be best friends.
 I have learned so much from him about what it means to give everything to the Lord.
 To hold nothing back. And to follow your dreams. 

I spent last night and am spending today with the STL's in Chippenham! My very first area! Yay!
 It was so happy.
 Last night we went to VCU and went contacting and I just felt so at home. :) 
It brought back so many memories of myself as a brand new missionary 
taking on the streets of downtown Richmond. 
I didn't know how many happy times were ahead! Its so funny how the Lord brings everything full circle. We taught 3 lessons to random strangers and all I could do was jump at every opportunity I had to bare testimony of the Restored Gospel. I know that it is true. 

That is most precious knowledge I've gained these past 18 months.
 I know that this work is His work. I know that God loves us! 
It amazes me that Heavenly Father knew exactly the mission that I needed, the companions I needed, the struggles I needed, and the miracles I needed in order to grow. He knows us.  

I haven't been perfect, boy have a discovered my weaknesses! Haha :)
 But even though I didn't deserve it, He let me be His missionary.
 He let me come along and experience for myself His goodness and strength and grace. 

In Zechariah 13:9 it says, "And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God."  

Missions aren't easy, they are a refining fire. Someone shared this quote from a missionary with me recently and I really love it, it says:

"Through this fire, He heals us.
 He healed me from my pride by letting me fail miserably. 
He healed me of my lack of faith by driving me to my knees, and then answering my prayers when I called on His name. 
He healed me of my disobedience by withdrawing His Spirit, but promising to forgive me and take me back if I would change.
 He brought me into the sanctifying fire of the Holy Ghost, and cauterized as many of the wounds of my broken heart and contrite spirit as I’d be willing to put on the altar."

I am always reminded of the promise in Ether that says, "...if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

But even as you learn of your weaknesses, and fall short, and are rejected, and are in that refining fire, there is a sacred and almost tangible joy.
 I have never been so happy.
 I still don't know how that happens, but I'm grateful for it haha :) 

I've been reflecting a lot on miracles lately and the miracles I've seen on my mission. I've seen so many in the lives of my investigators and the people I've met. Things that I never thought would happen or work out or ever be possible happened. And that was amazing! But even with all of those things, I honestly think the greatest miracle I have witnessed these past 18 months was the miracle within myself

I have felt His love and I have felt the Spirit work in me. That has been the greatest testimony builder so far. That through Him, any heart can change. Including my own. 

In the talk, "The Miracle of a Mission" by Elder Jeffery R. Holland, he says: 

"I've been your age and you haven't been mine, but I do remember what it was like to sit here and have dreams and fears and hopes and wonder, wonder if you were about to do it, wonder if you'd be happy, wonder if you would work hard, wonder if you could succeed. Now, 38 years and one month later, I tell you that it was the most important thing that ever happened to me in my life, that it's brought so many blessings that have now become important and now take their place in my life, but which would not have happened, I'm absolutely confident they would not have happened, if it had not been for the privilege of a mission." 

I know that my mission will forever be a part of me. I won't wear a name tag every day or go tracting every day, but I will always be His servant. And I will never be the same. 

I'm so sad to leave Virginia. Wow, do I love it here so much! It will always be sacred ground to me. But I am so grateful that I was able to be a missionary here in the Virginia Richmond Mission. I can't wait to see what the future holds and the blessings that are ahead! He has gotten me this far and I know He will continue to lead me. :) 

Alma 26:35 "Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name."

Thanks for all of your support and emails and packages and cards and love. You're all wonderful. 

Its been the best. 

I love Virginia. I love my Heavenly Father and I love my Savior. I love being a missionary. 

I'll see you soon! 


XOXO, Sister Fowers 



The happiest week!









Monday, December 21, 2015

Once a missionary, always a missionary :)

        


Hello! Its me..... again :) 

This week was the greatest. I just love being a missionary a lot, ya know? Its the best. 

On Tuesday we had transfers! It felt so surreal to be in the group of departing missionaries sitting on the stand, instead of a nervous missionary in the pews waiting to here where I would be transferred to. I never thought I would get here! And now I wish I could go back haha :)
 But it was happy because I got to see so many of my favorite people and Sister Canty and I got our new companion! Sister Stoddard! She is so awesome. She is from Sandy, Utah, went to Hillcrest, is super funny, and actually is a convert! Her parents are less active and after taking seminary as a non-member in high school for 2 years, she finally decided to get baptized when she was 17! And then she came on a mission. Pretty awesome right?
 We are all having so much fun living the trio life :) 

We also had lunch with President Wilson this week!
 He is the greatest. 
He drove all the way up from Richmond just to spend some time with us before I go home. 
I have learned so much from him and I will always be so grateful that he was my mission president. We also had a fun adventure after lunch that I will have to tell you all someday haha :) 

We haven't been able to meet with Gabriella and Brandon this week, but we will hopefully this week and I will let y'all know how it goes! Keep praying for them!

We had some awesome miracles this week though! Let me tell you about a few :)

Cordrey and David: So we were driving and we saw this, like, 14 year old boy literally leaping down the sidewalk hahaha. So we were like, "That kid looks super happy! Lets pull over and talk to him!" So we did! And he told us his family is Christian and that we could come teach them that night! So we went back that night and he wasn't home, but his older brother, Cordrey was! So we had an awesome lesson with him about Heavenly Father and His love for us. We asked him what he thought he needed to change in his life and he said, "Everything." So we went back to teach him and he wasn't home, but their dad, David, was! So we taught him the Restoration and the spirit was really strong. They said no to coming to church, but I know as they keep meeting with us they will change their mind :) 

Irene: One day we had an assignment to go to the store to buy some toys for a family we are teaching, who are struggling. We bought some Christmas presents for this little girl, but we couldn't find one thing that we were looking for, so we decided to go to Target to find it. So we go to Target and we didn't end up finding it, but as we were checking out, the girl at the cash register looks at our name tags and says, "Are you Mormons??" We said yes and she told us that she had been meeting with Mormon missionaries, but that she had moved and has been looking for missionaries since! So crazy! So we got her number and we will be meeting with her soon! 

John: We met John tracting and he is an interesting guy! He is used to be Catholic, but hasn't gone to church in years and just isn't religious. He says that he never really worries about God and hasn't though about it much. So we talked to him a lot about having a personal relationship with Heavenly Father and how that can bless his life. We went back a few days later and he told us after we left the first time that he googled, "Why are Mormons so nice?" and it said that members of our church are the nicest people hahahaha. He couldn't believe that we had taken time to be full-time missionaries and was just blown away by it all. But we had a great lesson on the Restoration and at the end he told us that we were wasting our time on him and that he wouldn't ever be able to actually change. So we got bold with him and told him that he needs to have faith in himself and actually do something! He needs to act in faith, not just wait for answers to come. But we are going to keep teaching him and I know his heart will soften. Some people just need a gentle shove in the right direction haha :)

There are more, but I can't remember them all right now! So many miracles. Every day that I get to be a missionary I am so grateful. It is such an amazing thrill to be a part of this great work! There is nothing like it in the whole world. And the crazy thing is, that it will just keep moving forward, but its up to us to decide if we will jump on that train or let it zoom right past us. I plan to jump on board and stay there :) 

“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”

Tomorrow we have our all-mission Christmas Conference down in Richmond! Yay! Its the one time all year that the whole mission gets together and I am so excited! I can't wait to just feel the Spirit and be uplifted and see all the sisters that I love so much :) 

Also, MERRY CHRISTMAS THIS WEEK!!! 
I'm not going to lie, I love being home for Christmas,
 but there is nothing better than being a missionary on Christmas :) 
I am so grateful to be able to testify of my Savior this time of year and have His name over my heart. I know that He lives and that He was born and that everything He did was for us. 
That is why Christmas is the happiest time of year.
 Because our hearts are turned to Him. 

I hope you all take time to remember Him this week 
and be grateful for the ultimate gift that He gave us.

It is super strange that next week will be my last email home, but I am so grateful, looking back, that I have had the opportunity to be a missionary. You've all read it through my emails each week, 
but I'm so grateful that I actually got to experience it each day
It has been the greatest blessing.
 I don't want it to end, but I know that being a missionary never truly has to end.
 It will be forever, and I'm especially grateful for that :)
 I plan on having the best last week ever here in Virginia. 
There is still work here for me to do :)  

I hope you all have a wonderful week and know that I love you so much! 

Christmas wishes and love from good ol' Virginia!
XOXO, Sister Fowers

Lunch with President Wilson!

 the trio

Sisters' p day




Monday, December 14, 2015

Too much happiness for one email? Nah.

 This week was the HAPPIEST WEEK. 

Like for real. So many good things. 

Happiest part? I GOT TO GO TO THE TEMPLE! 
It was seriously such a dream.
 We drove up to the temple, took pictures outside, and then walked in
 and it just took my breath away. 
I forgot how peaceful and quiet the temple was and how much I missed it.
 At the end of the session we walked into the Celestial room and we were each greeted by President and Sister Wilson who gave us a big hug.
 Goodness, I just love them both so much and I couldn't help but think that that is what going to the spirit world will feel like. 
Completely happy and greeted by the ones you love. :) Something I will never forget.

 Then I sat down and just prayed for a few minutes and as I did 
I just felt a wave of gratitude and love fill my heart
It felt like my heart was going to burst haha. 

My mission just kind of replayed in my mind and all I could do was thank my Heavenly Father for the privilege of serving Him. I have definitely been far from a perfect missionary, and I have fallen short so many times, but He has strengthened me and helped me to be better and has loved me through it. 

Then I looked to my left to the sister who was sitting next to me. She was reading in the Book of Mormon and as I glanced over I read this verse:

1 Nephi 9:6 "But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And thus it is. Amen."

I read that, and I just felt overwhelming peace.
 I don't need to worry about going home, or my mission ending, or school, or life, or anything.
 I can trust Him. He has carried me this far and I know He will keep carrying me.

 I thought of the words to one of my favorite songs:

"Consider the lilies of the field
How they grow, how they grow
Consider the birds in the sky
How they fly, how the fly

He clothes the lilies of the field
He feeds the birds in the sky
And he will feed those who trust him
And guide them with his eye"

I love that. I have learned so much these past few months what it truly means to trust Him. 

Then we left the temple, went to the visitor's center, and ate lunch! Then we all packed up in the van and drove to D.C. and went to the Lincoln Memorial and drove around all the sights.
 It was so happy and the best day.
I'm so grateful for the temple. 

Then on Wednesday and Thursday we got to substitute teach seminary! Can I just say how grateful I am that I never had to do the whole early morning seminary thing? Yay for release time! But it was so fun. We talked about some chapters in the Old Testament and all the kids are like... major champs. 
The youth of the church are really awesome and so prepared. We had to wake up at like 4:00 to get there on time though, so we were exhausted haha.
 Then on Saturday we taught mission prep for the stake! That was my favorite :)
 So cool to hear their stories and testimonies of missionary work before they ever even serve. 

We also met with our investigator Sharon this week! She is doing really well :) We finished teaching her the Restoration and she loved it. She is really open and committed to reading and praying to know for herself. At the end of the lesson, she was like, "Can I tell you something?" and we were like, "Sure!" and So she told us that for a while she hadn't been going to church or putting God first in her life, so one day she was praying and told God that she would put Him first if He would guide her in the right direction. Then she said like two days later, we called her and she knew that it was an answer to her prayer! And its crazy because we weren't even actually trying to call her! We were trying to call her dad, who is a former investigator, and she answered and so we just asked if she wanted to meet and she said yes! Crazy miracles. She said she will come to church this week, so pray that she comes!

We also had another awesome miracle with this lady named Nini! We were tracting apartments one night and we almost went home, but then we decided to knock one more building really fast. The second door we knocked on, she opened right up and when we told her who we were she said, "Oh, come in! Come in!" Then she sat down with us and told us that she moved here a few years ago and has been searching and praying to find a church because she hasn't liked any of the ones she has been to. We shared a little bit with her and showed her the new A Savior is Born video and she loved it! She has 3 little kids and really wants them to be involved in a church and to strengthen her family. She is super prepared! 

We also met with Gabriella this week! Brandon wasn't there because he was at work, but we went over the baptismal interview questions with her and she is so ready! The only thing that is a problem is that they need to get married and she doesn't feel ready to make that commitment. We have tried everything to change her mind hahaha. But I know they will be baptized. Just keep praying for them! We committed her to making a decision by December 26th on whether or not they will get married. Ahh! We will see. 

Also, second happy news: SISTER CANTY IS STAYING!!
President Wilson came up and took us out to lunch on Saturday and after some begging he told us early whether or not we were getting a transfer call that night hahaha :)
 He said, "Don't wait up for a call, is that clear enough?" 
We were so happy! So it will be a crazy two weeks, but we will get a third companion on Tuesday and be in a trio until I leave! 
I will be sleeping on a cot because we don't have 3 beds hahahaha. Exciting stuff :) 

Overall, it has been a great week. Every week I say that, but its true.
 I'm so grateful to be here in Virginia as a missionary.
 I read a talk this week called,
 "How Can I Become the Woman of Whom I Dream?" by President Hinckley.
 I love this quote:

"Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eye and a smile on your face, but with great and strong purpose in your heart. Love life and look for its opportunities."

I love that, and that's what I plan to do. Life is so good :) 

Love you all and hope you have a wonderful week! 
XOXO, Sister Fowers 



Sisters' p-day last week! Ugly Christmas sweaters, brick oven pizza, decorating the tree,etc.
Love all these lovely ladies!













Oompa with all the sisters in the zone!  #holla



Visitors Center

THE TEMPLE! Happiest day!








Departing missionaries at the Washington DC Temple




Monday, December 7, 2015

Tender Mercies of the Lord

Hello! 

This week has been so good! 

On Wednesday we had MLC and President asked me if I would give a training on "Why Jesus Christ" to go along the with new Christmas initiative, "A Savior is Born". If you haven't seen it go to christmas.mormon.org and watch!
It was so good to study why we need a Savior and why He did what He did for us. It all comes down to love I think. He loved us so much to come here and suffer for us, so we can be made whole. I have gained such a testimony of His atonement and grace on my mission and I love this time of year that we have to remember Him and share that love with others!
 So get busy doing your missionary work and share that knowledge with someone who needs it! :)

Also, happiest news of my life.
Gabriella and  Brandon aren't moving anymore!!! 
It was seriously the biggest miracle. We were praying so hard that they would be able to stay, and when we went over for a lesson they told us that his co-worker told him of a place here that would be just as cheap that they could live in and its still in the ward boundaries. We were like, "Wait.... for real?" hahaha. But hopefully that all works out and then we just need to help them get married and baptized! I sent of picture of them out to dinner with us and the Ferrell's. Tell me their little baby Elsa isn't the cutest human alive. We taught them about the priesthood the other night and it is just so cool to see their testimonies grow and their lives change.
But keep praying for them!
They are so close and just need a little extra desire. But I know they will be baptized soon! 

We also found a new investigator this week named Florence! She was super sweet and just let us right in. She is from Sierra Leone and told us how she converted from Islam to Christianity because Christ appeared to her in a dream! Pretty crazy. But she is really sweet and we will meet with her this week!

We also had the ward Christmas party, exchanges, zone meeting, etc. this week. 
So busy! But it has been so good. 

News though: I get to go to the temple tomorrow!!!!!! Yay! I am sooooo excited. All of the departing missionaries get to go to the Washington D.C. temple once before they go home with President and Sister Wilson. So we will drive up there and go to the temple and then visit some sites in D.C. and it will be the greatest. I miss the peace of the temple and feeling so close to Heavenly Father. You never realize how great it is until you can't go! So go to the temple often and enjoy it and I will tell you how it goes next week! :) 

Also, transfer calls are this Saturday. Ahh! We are nervous. Since I am going home two weeks after the transfer I will most likely be in a trio for the last two weeks? But we are praying and groveling to President to let us both stay here in Quantico haha. So I will let you know what happens next week! 

This week has been so good, it reminds me of 1 Nephi 1:20 that says, 
"But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." 
I have seen so many of those tender mercies lately and every time I just feel so much of His love. He is so aware of us and He truly cares about our happiness. I am so grateful for that kind of love and the little miracles that He allows me to see each day. 
They have changed everything for me. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week and look for those small miracles because they are always there! 

Love you lots and lots!

XOXO, Sister Fowers 
Elsa

MLC