Monday, December 30, 2013

Letter 9 -- I am a Disciple of Jesus Christ

Hello Everyone!!!
I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!!! It sounds like there were some pretty amazing things that happened from marriages, to dates, to a relaxing Christmas Eve, to surprise parties, to sleeping in on Christmas day... Glad to hear all is well in the States.
So this Christmas week was amazing. Christmas Eve our zone came to the stake center with blankets, LOTS of unnecessary junk food, and scriptures and read all 4 of the gospels! Such an amazing experience. We had to do a lot of speed reading haha. The spirit was so strong. I gained a much greater testimony and gratitude for my Savior, and the life that He lived. So many times, it is easy to read the account of the Savior's sacrifice and crucifixion as a story, just like any other passage of scripture. Sometime this week, I invite you to go to the four gospels and reread the passages regarding the Savior and the Atonement, and PICTURE yourself being there. PICTURE what He must have went through. Think about all the blessings you have received from the sacrifice Jesus Christ was willing to make for YOU. I challenge you to NEVER read those passages like any other scripture ever again; rather read it with a humble heart and witness your love for the Savior increase :) I love the scriptures.
Christmas Day, we read the first half of the Doctrine and Covenants as a zone. Sister Mendenhall and I then went to the P...'s house for lunch. K... came with us. It was his first Christmas ever and he LOVED it! We gave him a framed "Family: A Proclamation to the World" for his first Christmas gift in honor of his family moving to Canada!! The last time we met with him he said (with a biggest smile on his face), "With my family here, and my knew understanding of Jesus Christ, I am beginning a NEW LIFE".

I GOT TO TALK TO MY FAMILY!!!! So happy I was able to hear all your voices :) It was so amazing getting to be on the missionary side of the phone call! I never would have thought that would be the case - so happy it is now though. I want my family to know how much I love them. I did not express it enough in my phone call, and I regret it. Thank you so much for the support and love that you have shown towards me. Thank you for your prayers, for the gifts and letters. Thank you for the advice, for your examples. I am not homesick, I am never homesick - rather I always have an enormous feeling of gratitude for you :) haha I woke up this morning, and after companion study I told Sister Mendenhall that I was SO EXCITED to get to tell my family how much I LOVED them today!! You have no idea. And although I did not express as much as I wanted to over the phone, please know that it is true. I. LOVE. YOU.
We had skills and interviews this week! I had my first personal interview with President and Sister Scott. Such a great experience. President Scott asked us to prepare beforehand to discuss the weapons of war in our lives that might be holding us back from giving our whole soul to God. And the plan was to BURY it. My weapon I chose to bury is using the word "I". Haha while that sounds impossible since that word is very necessary in speaking, what I mean with that is that I am giving up selfishness. From now on, I am dedicated to focusing all success, all thought, all action, all EVERYTHING on my companion, our investigators, and my God. When I work to improve myself, I am not doing it to please or satisfy myself, but to better help fulfill God's plan in building the kingdom of God. I really have been working on it this week. Many many prayers and study have been going to the cause and it has been miraculous. I know my purpose as a missionary and as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
We had exchanges this week. I stayed in London with Sister Tofa, and Sister Mendenhall went to Brantford with Sister Griffin. WHAT A LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE!!!! Imagine Elder Holland as a Samoan girl from Australia, and that is Sister Tofa. She is amazing :) I learned so much about Charity, patience, inspired questions, listening, and much more from observing her throughout the day. My favorite part about it was Sister Tofa had me take the lead in EVERYTHING and boy was that a blessing because I realized how much I have leaned on Sister Mendenhall's help without even knowing it haha. Especially daily planning. I thought I do a lot in daily planning with Sister Mendenhall... daily planning with Sister Tofa took a little bit longer than usual.. haha so great. At the end of the day, Sister Tofa committed me to taking the lead in Daily Planning as well as in most lessons from now on. I am committed to it :)
Also, yesterday was the fifth Sunday which means MISSIONARY WEEK!! Sister Mendenhall and I got to speak. We shortened our talks to leave time for some of the members who have been coming out with us to share their testimonies as well. It went really well. Sister Mendenhall talked about charity, Holy Ghost, and obedience in missionary work. I recounted the experience of Christ and Peter walking on water, and related it to missionary work and how we are "stepping out of the boat" when we are sharing the gospel. I also got to sing "Because I Have Been Given Much"! Haha we didn't know what song I was going to sing until that morning, and we didn't have a pianist. Thankfully someone was visiting in our ward for the holidays who could play the piano so it worked out well.
I forgot to tell you, but every week for Sunday, I am either leading or playing the piano for sacrament meeting because we have one other pianist in the ward who always comes late haha. Thank you for putting me in piano lessons mommy :)

And going along with that, as well as everything else that happened, this week was truly a miraculous experience. I am not the same person. My perspective of my purpose, and my personal capabilities are not the same. Everything that happened from talking to my family, talking to President Scott, and working with Sister Mendenhall and Sister Tofa really opened my eyes in a way that I can not explain. But I can feel the difference. And it is great :) THIS GOSPEL IS AMAZING!!!!
I Love you all, and I hope you have a great week. Happy new year!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Letter 8 - Hey family and friends!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!! I can't believe it's Christmas. Crazy crazy! My favorite part of this holiday compared to others past is that this Christmas is dedicated solely and ENTIRELY on the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. I love my Savior with all my heart. This Christmas season, not only are we celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, but we are celebrating the LIFE THAT HE LIVED. Because of the Savior, forgiveness is possible, peace can be enjoyed, and eternal life is WITHIN REACH. Because of my Savior, I am who I am, where I am, and I am continuing to become something amazing with Him on my side. So grateful for Him. In the next couple of days, I hope you all have an AMAZING experience - spending time with the people you love most, while remembering the true reason for the season. And please know that I love you and am praying for you all :)
So for Christmas our mission is doing a 4 Gospels, POGP, and D&C read-a-thon! So excited! It takes about 24-26 hours I guess so we are doing it all day Christmas Eve, Christmas morning, all day New Years Eve, and New Years Day morning. SO EXCITED!!!!! This is going to be so great.
Some of you heard about the major ice storm Ontario has had. People were advised to stay in their homes and have candles and flashlights at the ready because of possible power outage. We were told that church would most likely be cancelled the next day because of it. That night Toronto had a major storm with three inches of pure ice layering the streets and everything else. Power went out, cars are everywhere, things were really scary. Please pray for them. Thankfully, the prayers of us here in London were answered and the storm missed us! So we had church, and K..., D...., C...., F..., I..., and K... all came to church! Also, a girl in our ward brought her friend to church with her. He loved it so much that he wants to be baptized, he wants every article and piece of information to read about our church possible, he is willing to keep the Word of Wisdom, and he hopes to come next week and bring his mom and her boyfriend with him! Wow. I love church. The gospel is so true.
We met with a girl named C.... this week. She met with the missionaries like 9 years ago, but she had some concerns and kind of left it at that for a while. She invited us over, and we taught her the Restoration. She is amazing! She is so spiritually in tune - I felt like she was teaching us much more than we were teaching her regarding the beauty of this message. We shared the account of the First Vision, and she started crying. She said, "The Holy Spirit hit me so hard just then. Wow. That must mean that it is true." She accepted a baptismal date, and she was excited for the next time we were planning on coming! WOOPEE! I Love C.... We stopped by the next day, and she felt bad because she only read one chapter of the Book of Mormon the night before. Haha we told her that was AWESOME!! So proud of her.
We went to the C....'s house this week to teach C.... (8) and C.... (14) - they are D....'s children. While there, N.... (17) came home. We had met him a bunch of times before, but for some reason we never asked him if he would like to join. So we asked, and he said yes! We taught them the restoration and he was so intrigued. We gave him the Book of Mormon and the Restoration pamphlet. I guess that night, his girlfriend came over and caught him reading the pamphlet. She said it freaked her out because that was NOT something N.... would do. WAY TO GO N.....!!!! This family is one day going to be sealed for time and all eternity :)
Our ward had a giant Christmas party Saturday night. We combined with the 3rd ward, and let me tell ya, it was a party. SO MANY PEOPLE CAME!!! Pretty much, everyone in the town was invited. Members, nonmembers, less-actives.... everyone came. We were planning on staying only for an hour, but we began talking with many people - nonmembers - who were really impressed with the event and the people that they wanted to learn more about our church! We stayed a little bit longer than an hour haha. It really did go so well. We are so sad though, we found out that C...., N...., C...., and K.... C.... were all waiting at their house for their ride to come, but no one picked them up. They were so excited to come, and so distraught that no one picked them up that they didn't want to come to church the next day - they said they don't want to be a part of this anymore. Please pray that they will forgive us! All will be well :) I Know it!
President Scott shared this poem with us and I absolutely loved it! I especially thought Sister Price would enjoy this :)
I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.
The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear,
Fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear;
And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,
For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.
I soon can learn to do it if you'll let me see it done;
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I'd rather get my lessons by observing what you do;
For I might misunderstand you and the high advise you give,
But there's no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.

Well I love you all. Thank you so much for the support and prayers. I am happy. I am not as cold as I thought I was going to be at this time. I love my companion. I LOVE God's Plan for His children. I love this work. I am learning so much each and everyday. Have a Merry Christmas and I will talk to you in a couple of days Family!!!
Sister Bodine

Monday, December 16, 2013

Letter 7 - I have been called to serve a mission in South Sudan!!!

Hello family :)

Talk about a week in Utah! I LOVE hearing all the news. Thank you for keeping me posted. I love you all so much.
Well you might be curious as to the headlines of this email? For your information, I have not been called to serve in South Sudan. I am still in London for another transfer with Sister Mendenhall. SO EXCITED :) But honestly, probably every fifth door we knock on there is a family of like eight to ten people from South Sudan. It is the greatest :) These people are so amazing. I guess several years back there was a really big war where the country was split, and the place is still in pretty bad condition so a HUUUUGE group of them immigrated to Canada. Most I guess are in Alberta areas, but a big portion are here in London. These people are so kind. There are many who are Muslim and don't want anything to do with our religion, but they still have hearts of gold. And they usually have like fourteen kids haha.

But this actually goes along with the amazing experience Sister Mendenhall and I had yesterday!! So all our appointments fell through yesterday, F... and her children were the only investigators who came to church, we had pretty much no gas to get anywhere so our areas were limited to drive in, and no one was wanting to listen to us. So it was a pretty great day haha. But seriously though, Sister Medenhall and I were still so happy. Positivity is the key to having a great experience no matter what.  But at 8:15, after nothing happening the whole day, we knock on a door, and a woman answers. Of course, we find out she is from South Sudan :) And like always, the language barrier is pretty bad, so M.... called her daughter D... down to help interpret. They let us in, sat us down, D.... went and called in her brother... and her other brother... and her brother's friend. And we taught them the first lesson. They loved it :) They all accepted a baptismal invitation, and they were so excited to read the Book of Mormon. AND IT ALL HAPPENED AT THE END OF THE DAY. I KNOW that when we show God our willingness to serve, and we strive to accomplish righteous goals, God will put forth His hand and help out.

And we saw that all week :) This past week Sister Mendenhall and I were able to find fourteen new investigators. Fourteen WONDERFUL people we are able to teach, hear their stories, and help them come closer to Christ. We are so grateful. And we for SURE are not letting it get to our heads. It is one thing to have someone invite you back to hear more about Christ's message; it is entirely another thing to continue that process and help them progress towards conversion and a new life. Please pray for these people. They are my family :) I love them with all my heart.

I KNOW that Heavenly Father is pouring out His spirit upon Sister Mendenhall and I. I have never felt that I was a good explainer of things. My teaching skills are very weak. I continue to learn and increase my testimony, I am learning more and more every day, my desire to improve is INTENSE, and there is SO MUCH more that I need to improve on. A mission is the greatest opportunity to focus all your time and attention on others; it is also the easiest place to turn inwards and focus on yourself. I am so grateful for experiences I have had, good and not so good, where I have been having to learn how to turn my thoughts away from myself and focus on Christ and His people. Humility, patience, and charity is VITAL in this work. And it is the most joyous feeling when those attributes are expressed :) I love this work and this opportunity. But I NEED TO DO MORE!!!! This week is going to be amazing :) Just you wait...
It isn't that cold here at the moment (knock on wood). Right now the sun is shining with no clouds in the sky, but the humidity still causes the cold to chill you to the bone haha. I still haven't gotten cold gear yet... I don't like spending money haha but I think it might be worth it.
Our mission does this thing called a "Living Christmas Card" where members refer us to their nonmember friends; we go to their house, knock on their door, sing an opening hymn, recite some scriptures depicting the birth of Jesus Christ, close with a hymn and a prayer, and then hand them a "Joy to the World" DVD and a letter written from their member friend. SO EXCITED to do it!!! The best part of it will be after the event when the members follow-up with their friends on the experience, and invite them to take the lessons :) We are excited to see the fruits of that effort.
Christmas Day is coming up!! I get to talk to you soon! So I will be calling on Christmas Day, I am sorry but we don't know the time yet. I'll let you know next week, but it will be after 12 (noon) here. That's for sure. Hope that helps!
I LOVE YOU ALL!! I hope you keep having an amazing holiday! Keep your standards, keep serving, smile a lot, and I will talk to you next week!
Thank you again for the prayers :) I pray for you every day. So grateful for you all!
Sister Bodine

Monday, December 9, 2013

Letter 6 - Another awesome week!

Hello everyone!

I thought it might be appropriate to start my letter off with this.... I am the master of pancakes. Haha. I LOVE PANCAKES!!!! I am so addicted to them. Like daddy's cookies, how he went on that splurge for a while and made them over and over again until he got it down to an art? Yep. That's me with pancakes. And it only took one try to make the masterpiece. They are divine. I guess you will have to wait a little while before you can try them yourselves!

Anyways, thank you for the letters! Jared, your Christmas present idea for your roommates is so sweet! I love it. You are awesome. Good luck everyone with your finals these next couple weeks! I will keep you in my prayers. You will all do awesome! Finals are happening for the university students up here too so it makes it a little difficult to schedule appointments haha no one has the time right now. But anyways, congrats Michael and Kara on the wedding!  JASON AND TARYN!! ARE YOU ALIVE?!!?

This week was so awesome. I had my first Zone Conference with President and Sister Scott! Best thing ever. It was themed around Christmas as well as the Doctrine of Christ. Afterwards, I felt spiritually and physically drained, the spirit was SO STRONG!! Such a pump up :) That night after we got back, we had a lesson with Kazem and it was AMAZING. Our minds were so clear and the spirit was so strong. I know it came from the preparation and insights we received from President and Sister Scott and the Assistants. I LOVE getting to role play with other missionaries and see how they teach, what methods they use. It's always a learning experience.
     I was called and asked to help coordinate a musical number for the conference and I was asked to play the piano. So GREAT!!! Saying that we put the song together just before the event (they sang "Joy to the World") it sounded pretty darn awesome :) I am proud of my missionary buddies who sang.

So this week was filled with lots of ups and even some downs and it made me so happy. The day after Zone Conference was a day of what seemed to be little or no success. All of our appointments fell through, no one was home, no one on the street was wanting to hear our message.... not much seemed to go well.... And yet I was so happy :) So grateful for the fact that the weather was amazing. So grateful my companion and I were teaching powerfully, and able to get some exercise from walking. So happy thinking that we were unable to see the fruits of our efforts, but we were able to plant seeds and that is SO IMPORTANT. Everyday, no matter what comes with it, every day brings something that we can be grateful for. And no matter what the day brings, when you are on the Lord's errand, you are happy. And that is the truth for missionaries out in the field and disciples of Christ at home, school, work, and ANYWHERE!! Do not allow yourself to dwell on the negative. Rather, focus on the positive, smile, laugh, and see how many amazing hidden things the Lord has given you throughout the day.

I love the schedule of a missionary. Waking up at 6:30, getting a GREAT workout (I'm getting nice and strong haha), having personal and companion study, and training! Such a great way to start the day. And I LOVE MY DAILY PLANNER!! Boy oh boy do you get attached to that thing when you are on a mission. I dropped it about a week ago and could feel the world collapsing around me. Haha not really, but I am pretty grateful we found it that's for sure.

Mother, I still eat bananas. A LOT OF BANANAS. And Sister Mendenhall and I have gone through two things of peanut butter this transfer haha. Every meal includes peanut butter and bananas.

So D.... is doing amazing. He won't be ready for baptism on the December 29th because of the rate we are going with the lessons. But he is progressing so much!!!! Every lesson is a powerhouse spiritual experience. He has such a desire to learn, and he comes with question after question after question. I know that I am on the Lord's errand and that He is helping me with the simple fact that I have been able to ANSWER QUESTIONS. I have never felt that I have been good at explaining things. But when you have the spirit with you as you speak, and you rely on it to help you - it is the greatest thing in the world where you respond to a question and you see that person's eyes widen as they say "Oh my goodness that is amazing!!! That makes so much sense!!" Experiences like that tend to make you smile :)

We just found out a couple days ago that M.... and L....'s father does not want them to be baptized. We were so sad when we found that out. But IT IS NOT THE END!!! Sister Mendenhall and I are confident by the power of the spirit that all things will work out. M.... and L.... are progressing too much. We have been preparing ourselves to meet with their father and talk to him about the situation - meaning that we are preparing to share with him our message so he can come to understand its importance. We are confident and excited. And a little nervous :) haha it's the greatest. 

Our ward is amazing!!! I love these people with all my heart. The strongest lessons are those that happen in a member's home. And so many people in our ward are willing and happy to fellowship our new friends into their home and their lives. M.... and L... went to mutual this Thursday. K.... has gone to dinner with the Kelly's and everyone has been inviting him over to their homes. D.... has women in the ward stopping by her house, taking her shopping, driving her to all the activities. I LOVE SEEING IT!!!! Oh my goodness I am just so happy right now. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW HAPPY I AM RIGHT NOW (I am saying this with fists clenched and a huge smile haha)

D... was going to be baptized next Sunday!!!! But she will be gone..... so D... is getting baptized on December 22nd!!!!!! We have been getting all the last minute plans going with talks, musical numbers, the Works! And D.... is excited! WE are excited! She is so ready. And two of her kids have been coming to church with her, and they both said they want to start taking the lessons!!! ETERNAL FAMILIES!!!!!

We are teaching a girl named K.... She is 17. We met her on the street one day on her way home from school. We asked her what it would mean to her if families could be together forever. She told us it would mean a lot, because her father passed away several years ago and she hopes she can see him again. That was a few weeks ago, and we have been teaching her ever since. She is amazing. She has such a desire to learn. She came to church yesterday!!! She enjoyed all of it except for Sunday School.... we went in about half way through and they were listening to a song. A very interesting song about who knows what... And passing around fruit... and half of the youth were playing on their phones.... haha the teacher asked if we wanting to add anything so we got up and taught a lesson. But other than that church was great!!

Well, I love this work. I love my family. I love prayer. I love the Book of Mormon. I LOVE MY SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST!!!
Thank you all for your advice, letters, and prayers. I am so happy the Lord sent me to Canada. I hope I do well enough in my letters to help you get a tiny glimpse of what I am experiencing here. Let me know what I can do to improve my letters! I love you all and am praying for you!! Keep your standards!! 

Sister Bodine

Also, it isn't too cold... yet. We had that bad week of snow, and the last couple of days have been a little colder, but I think the real fun will begin this week. I better get some real gloves and tights :)