Monday, July 28, 2014

Letter 39 -- My Own Witness

Hello family!!

First off, TARYN IS PREGNANT!!!!!! I knew that I was going to hear that news while on my mission :) That is so exciting!! I am going crazy right now. Taryn and Jason CONGRATS!!! You are going to be such a CUTE family! Taryn and Jason I would love to hear it from you! Tell me about it! Hope to hear from you. Goodness I am so proud of my whole family. You're all the best! Good job on the Spudman everyone. That's fun that the Forsyths were able to do it too! I'm glad you all had a good Pioneer Day together. Sounds like everyone is happy!

So I feel like I say this every week - and it is true every time I say it - but this week truly was an amazing one. We had so many amazing experiences on the streets, in lessons, on exchanges, at church... The spirit was our guide in every part of the work. I don't even know what I want to share because there were so many small little miracles that happened! I guess you'll have to read my journal someday :)

We went on exchanges, and I went to Mississauga with Sister Stoddard while Sister Von Niederhausern stayed in Toronto with Sister Hsiung. Craziest thing that happened was the first night. We got in bed, she turned the lights out and it was pitch black.... What else? It was completely silent. I layed there in awe for a little while just soaking it in. Haha those are two things that you do NOT experience in Toronto. The city lights light up your room all night, and there is no such thing as silence, wherever you are. It was very different and it was so much fun being in a car area again for a day. Brought back great memories :) Sister Stoddard is amazing. She really taught me how to teach so simply that no one can misunderstand. And she is the epitome of finding joy in the work. Haha you will never find a perkier person. We had so much fun teaching and contacting together. Both of us LOVE talking to people on the street so we were going crazy! Running after people on bikes, catching people in their cars... we talked to a lot of amazing people!!! The best thing ever was sharing the first vision with people on the streets. It's amazing how you can feel the spirit so strong even on the side of the street with noise all around you.

Our District Leader instructed us on how to be more personable in our contacting, and not being missionary robots. I've been working really hard on that and it is making the WORLD of difference. I am talking to people the same way I would talk in a normal situation and it is that much more comfortable to bring in the gospel too. Haha there is this old Jamaican man that we say hi to every time we walk on Eglinton street. Yesterday we went up to him and I said, "Okay. So I've decided something.. Are you ready to here what my decision is?" He was confused and said yes. "So I've decided that you need to come to church with us. Because we think you are awesome, and our friends in the church need to meet you." He laughed and FINALLY agreed to saying he would come. And what else? He FINALLY gave us his number to call him!! 1 1/2 transfers worth of persistence :)

A couple weeks ago, I sat on the bus by this 60 year old man named L... and invited him to church. He came last week, loved it, and we began teaching him this past week. In our first lesson with him, things were going well as we taught him the restoration. He is so prepared and was loving everything we were saying. When we got to the part of Joseph Smith, the environment changed. Things felt so peaceful and I knew it was going to be an amazing experience. We shared the first vision with him. It took us probably a minute and a half as we paused throughout and let the spirit touch him. Immediately after, Sister Von asked L... if he believed Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. After he thought for a second, with so much conviction in his voice, he said yes. I have felt so much love for L.... as we have been teaching him this past week. He is preparing to be baptized on August 17th and he is doing everything it takes! He is so special. Sadly, Sister Von and I found out yesterday that he doesn't live in our ward boundaries, so we had to tell him that he was going to be taught by other missionaries and go to another ward. He understood but it was no doubt the hardest thing I've had to do on my mission. I KNOW we knew each other before this life, and I feel so grateful that Sister Von and I were able to introduce him to the gospel!

Some thing that I have come to feel this week: As we begin to teach people, our goal should not be to help them know the facts. Our goal should be to help them feel the truth. We must teach so simply that they can not misunderstand. When that is the case, then we leave room to help them receive an answer. That is the most important thing. Because when we receive an answer from God, we want to feel it more. We will do whatever it takes to feel it again. Even if that means giving up coffee or turning off a tv show :)

Through the experience Sister Von and I had with L...., I DO KNOW for myself that Joseph Smith's first vision experience is the most powerful piece to our unique message as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It shows that the Son of God and our Heavenly Father whom we love so much are two separate entities and they appeared to a humble, truth-seeking boy in a grove of trees in 1820. Miracles have not ceased. God continues to speak to His children through a living prophet today. We can be baptized and make covenants with God by His power and permission, the Priesthood. We CAN change. We CAN start again. We CAN feel peace. I know that God loves ALL His children. No one is exempt from feeling His spirit if they choose to seek it. How grateful I am for His Plan. But most especially, right now, I can not fully express my gratitude for Joseph Smith choosing to kneel down and ask God a question.

I love you all. Thank you so much for you examples. Congrats again Taryn and Jason! Have a great week everyone! Keep your standards!!

Sister Bodine

Monday, July 21, 2014

Letter 38 -- SO MUCH FUN!!

Hello Everyone!!

Holy cow my brother is married!! I was beaming the whole week thinking about my family and how much I love you all and how proud I am of all of you. I loved the pictures mommy sent me. You all look SO GOOD! Good lookin family :) You're all the greatest. I feel so blessed to have had the chance to be out on a mission during this time. It has been so much fun being a part of it across... lakes! haha.

So this week has been amazing. I love Sister Von Niederhausern with all my heart! She has such a strong testimony. She is so intelligent, and that intelligence and testimony shows in the questions that she asks, the way she words her teaching, and she is amazing and discerning the needs of our investigators! It is so much fun to teach with her because we work off one anothers thoughts. I'll feel prompted to say something, and immediately Sister Von will say it, and vice-versa. It's so cool! We have been having some AWESOME experiences on the street talking to people. The principle of "teach when you find" is fantastic when you have Sister Von as a companion :) Not to mention we have so much fun together! It was weird adjusting back to a companionship rather than a tri, but we made it work.

So the changes in the District were, instead of having three sets of missionaries in the ward, we have only two. So our area in even bigger now! Our new district is our two sets, and the two sets of Portuguese Elders. Elder Frame became the District leader and he is AWESOME! Our first district meeting was so powerful. We all left on a spiritual high. It's kind of funny because we live in the same apartment building as the Portuguese Elders so when we come home for the night, we all come at the same time, ride the elevator together and talk about our day, and then we get a call from Elder Frame 30 minutes later for follow-up calls haha. It's a lot of fun. And the funny thing is, for ESL, we have a Saturday Morning Training every week, and Elder Meise is the building manager for it (he's a missionary in our ward). Everyone in ESL is in our District so we pretty much have 2 District Meetings each week! It's the best :)

Like I said, this week was awesome. We saw a lot of miracles. Natalie, the 16 year old in our ward has been helping us out a lot and her testimony is SOLID. We love taking her with us. She wants to go on a mission so bad someday.

Sister M... is doing amazing. She has some Psychological issues and it makes it really hard to teach her. But she is a GENIUS and remembers everything we share with her. She knows this is true and she wants to be baptized very very badly. She is coming to church every week and loves it. God has really blessed us with the chance to learn patience by teaching her. And it is so much fun because we have needed to try every possible way to teach her to see what will help her stay focused. Yesterday, as we taught the Plan of Salvation, rather than teaching it interactively, we took Hermana Price's idea (Thank you Sarah :)) and taught it like a story, with Sister M... as the main character. She loved it. The spirit was so strong. She committed to start reading and she is working on the word of wisdom right now and has been doing amazing!

I love teaching so much.

I just want you to know how grateful I am for prayer. Sister Von and I decided that we really wanted to work on our prayer of faith. On acting upon the goals that we set and doing everything that we can to achieve them. When prayer becomes more than a checklist, but rather a lifeline of communication with God, motivation increases, perspective changes, and our purpose becomes clearer. I know that God is there listening, we just need to be willing to listen to Him as well. 

I love you all and am so grateful for you. Please keep having an amazing week. Be happy and think about those people that you can serve this week. God has allowed us all to be where we are right now to bless his children in that specific part of the world. Keep your standards!!

Sister Bodine

Monday, July 14, 2014

Letter 37 -- Jared and April are getting MARRIED!!!

Hey fam! How's it going!

Welcome back to Utah Birts and the cute kids! That's fun you have been able to come down quite a bit lately!
I loved the pictures you sent mommy. Anniewa and Gary can you send a picture of your kids please? From the profile they look SO BIG now and I want to see them head on!
JARED AND APRIL ARE GETTING MARRIED THIS WEEK!!!! Elder Robins and I are so excited. This is so exciting! I hope to receive many many pictures and stories about how it went. CONGRATS you two! I will be there in heart!

So transfer news is pretty tragic.... Sister Von and I [lost] Sister Marler. She is going back to California. But ya it is really sad. We had a FUN transfer together. Sister Marler is such a wonderful missionary. I learned so much from her. And now Sister Von Niederhausern and I are staying in Toronto. I get to be with her for her last transfer as well!! They shut down our District leader's area so now there are only two companionships in our ward and are over the entire area. It's great!

President Clayton promised Sister Marler that she was going to see miracles her last two weeks of her mission. We did see some pretty amazing things :)

We went to teach Sister M... in a burger king on Tuesday. As we were walking in, this crazy guy yells "Mormonism" haha and says some crazy things to Sister Marler and Von. Our 16 yr old ward member who came with us, Natalie, and I were walking in with Sister M... when we are approached by this other man asking us for a Book of Mormon. So while my companions taught Sister M..., Natalie and I sat at another table and taught our new friend B.... He was taught by missionaries in New FInland and believes that it is all true. His first statement was, "I know that Christ appeared to the people in America. I have all the four gospels downloaded on my computer." Natalie and I taught the Resoration. When we talked about Christ and His Ministry, Natalie bore a STRONG testimony. She then looked Blake in the eye and said, "I know you know Jesus Christ is your Savior. I know you know the Book of Mormon is true. I know you know Joseph Smith is a prophet. And with that in mind, I know that the next step for you is baptism." BOOYAH!!!!! I LOVE Natalie :) So he is preparing for baptism. The problem is he doesn't have a home right now and it is impossible to get a hold of him. PLEASE keep him in your prayers!!!

On Preparation Day, we went to the CN-Tower with our District and the Portuguese Elders. It was so much fun. And something I realized, is at night, when the lights are all on, we can see America across the waters! Hello New York!!
     Kind of funny: there were too many people getting on the subway on our way back from the CN-Tower. So Sister Marler, Elder Meise, and I get separated from the group for a minute. It was hilarious. And always terrifying for a split second haha.

Our zone decided to do the "Bus Challenge" where you try and talk with every single person on the bus and invite them to do something (come to church, meet with us, be baptized...) You get one point for talking to an entire bus, and two points for a subway or street car. I am not NEAR as competitive as I used to be - like I don't feel the need to win, and frustration when I don't. But still, when there is a challenge brought forth, the motivation to fulfill it is still there. Haha we talked to EVERYONE- and it was SO MUCH FUN!!!!  It really opened my eyes to trying different ways to talk to people. It helped me recognize a little more when people are interested or prepared and when they are not. And I realized HARD CORE that when you sincerely smile in every situation, the rejection isn't as harsh and people's willingness to listen to you is that much greater. Continue to smile people. It's the best :)

We taught a man from Mexico named J..., and I got to bear my testimony to him in Spanish! I've been practicing. It was awesome :)

A couple days ago I contacted a man named R... on the Subway. He gave us his address just as we were leaving. We went to his street and I realized that I forgot his address! We said a prayer, and asked God to help us find his house. That day we didn't end up finding him. But I KNEW we were going to. So we went back the next day, after figuring out his address. We passed this lady pulling a stroller, and it sounded like she was having a really heated conversation on the phone with someone so we just smiled and said hi as we walked past. We found R...'s home and it ended up being fake. So as we passed the woman again, she hung up the phone and took a really deep breathe. We said hi again and she asked us what we were doing. We introduced ourselves as missionaries and had an awesome conversation with her about mending family relationships with God's help. S.... told us we completely made her day much better and invited us to come back. All I can say is I know God answers prayers in mysterious way. And I am so grateful for R... in giving us the Perfect fake address! haha.

Something Sister Von said in her talk in Sacrament that I thought was awesome is that "commandments are pockets of 'Him's'" - every commandment is an opportunity for us to become a little bit more like our loving Heavenly Father. One of my favorite scriptures is Mosiah 2:41. I hope we will all open our eyes to recognize the blessings of keeping God's commandments a little bit more this week.

I LOVE YOU ALL!!!! Have a great week! Praying for you!

Sister Bodine

Soft Serve Ice Cream

Leslie cleans the church's tables ever Saturday. I love her!!

Toronto District

Walking to the CN-Tower

The Zurian Family

Monday, July 7, 2014

Letter 36 - Lots of stuff! Good stuff.....

Hello family!

So much I want to say and so little time, so I will do my best to put in every wonderful/awesome part of the week because this week was AMAZING!!!!

Happy Canada Day! We were blessed to meet President and Sister Clayton!!! Oh my goodness they are amazing. The spirit was so strong. They are keeping everything they are doing right now on the basics: white handbook, PMG, and prayer. President Clayton goes 100% by the spirit. He stares deeply into your soul and you can FEEL his love. I am SO EXCITED FOR THIS!!! Holy cow...

Also Happy Fourth of July! We have Zone Training on the Fourth of July. I was asked to play the piano and sing in a musical number with a bunch of people. But they wouldn't tell us what it was. When the musical number came, they asked all who were a part of the musical number to come up. As they did, we realized that everyone in the group was American, and the audience were the missionaries from other places hahaha the zone leaders had us sing the National Anthem. It was pretty hilarious. But I LOVED this Zone Training. I love all zone trainings, but this one was extra powerful. I was getting prompting after prompting of ideas to use in our teaching and contacting. And the role plays were POWERFUL!!!!!

Also, Jared. Can you ask Jayden Black if he knows an Elder Turk who served in California. A military man named Al (I think) came to our ward yesterday, and said he was taught by a missionary named Elder Turk from Blanding Utah! I thought that was kinda cool.

Exchanges with Sister Edwards was AMAZING!!! We were a trio in Toronto, she and Sister Marler and I. We did a service project for an Italian woman. We trimmed her Mulberry tree in the backyard. It was a blast. We were laughing and singing the whole time. And she treated us like queens, feeding us, talking to us, taking pictures of us.... Jason did you serve in Calabria? I meet at least one person from there every day.

Which reminds me!!! One of my favorite things about serving in Toronto is it is like serving mini missions all around the world. I have served missions in the Phillipines, Italy, Portugal, Brasil, Jamaica, Romania, Armenia, Turkey, Mexico, Peru, Thailand, Russia, and many more JUST in this past week. The people are amazing. I KNOW this is a message for ALL of God's children no matter where we are from. And even if we can't speak the same language, we can still feel the same spirit. That is one of my favorite things about my mission :)

I was talking on the subway with a man named I... from Brazil a couple days ago. He is an agnostic who loves his wife. One of my favorite things is sitting on the TTC with really shy or closed off people and finding a way to get them to open up. I..., when he opened up, and we started talking about eternal families, got these HUGE eyes. The spirit was so strong. I told him we would love to come visit and he immediately said yes. We were about to say a prayer when our stop came. I.... said "no worries, let's just get off and say one out there." haha okay! He made sure we waited until the subway left and then we said it. It was a really cool experience.

Lately, I have been having a HUGE desire to learn Spanish so I have been asking a lot of members and people how to say certain things. Yesterday, we were at dinner with a Spanish family who came into our ward recently. At the end, we were trying to figure out who was going to say it. We asked them to say it in Spanish and then Brother Zurian invited ME to say it in Spanish! It was my first time, and he helped me. I was BEAMING afterward. It was so great :)

Remember my sickness? haha. So when I first went to the doctor's they told me I was negative for strep, chastised my for not resting enough, told me it was a virus, and sent me home with no other instructions on how to feel better. Later that night I broke out into a fever, and it got to the point where I couldn't swallow, it killed to eat, I couldn't sleep, no medicine was working. But I thought it was a virus so I didn't do anything about it. Finally we went back a week later because it was unbearable. Haha the first thing the doctor says when he looked in my throat was "WOHOHOOAAA! There is definitely an infection back there" hahaha not really the reaction you're wanting a professional to give. He checked for strep again and literally no longer than a minute he comes back saying "I have no idea how it came back negative the first time, that is DEFINITELY positive" - lessons learned? Second time's the charm when it comes to Canadian Health Care if you are an American :)

Family! I was reading Elder Ballard's Conference talk this morning and I would LOVE to hear what you are reading in Preach My Gospel and how it has been influencing you and your missionary work!

Quote from our Relief Society President's testimony yesterday:
  "You have time for sleep. You have time for television. You have time to walk , eat, pick up the phone... but you have no time for Christ? Read the Book of Mormon." BOOYAH!!!!!

Well I love you all! Jared and April GOOD LUCK WITH THE WEDDING!!! Elder Robins and I are going to be there in spirit! Keep your standards everyone. I am praying for you all!!!

Sister Bodine