Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."

Jan 19, 2016

(2 Tim. 4:7)

Hello there! 

Oh how strange it is to be at the end of my mission. It is the weirdest thing. I am so grateful for this past week. I have felt great fulfillment in everything that has happened! I know that enduring to the end brings the most mighty miracles!

We had Mission Conference with Elder Gong (of the Presidency of the Seventy) on Friday. It was so wonderful!!! He and his wife taught us so much. We talked a lot about how to teach repentance. That is one of our main purposes as missionaries! We have to understand the doctrine, apply it, then help others to do the same. It was a wonderful meeting. I have to say that I have come to understand how great the gift of repentance is! It is the plan created by our loving Heavenly Father.

Speaking of repentance.. DAVID AND CAROLYN ARE MORMONS!!! Their baptism was absolutely beautiful and Spirit-filled. A lot of people commented and said it one was of the most spiritual baptisms they had ever attended. President and Sister Brown also showed up for the occasion! After David came out of the water, he had a tender moment where we clasped his hands up in the air and he just cried. He was so grateful to be baptized by the proper authority. He said he has been dunked several times before, but this time he felt something! Carolyn was very grateful as well. They both bore their testimonies and the Spirit was so real in that room! On Sunday, they received the gift of the Holy Ghost and they are both planning to go to the Temple on February 13th. WAHOO! Doyle came to the baptism and church and he said he cannot deny that we "have something special". He now has a baptismal date for March 11th!

Wow. Saying "see you" to Carolyn was one of the hardest things I have had to do on my mission. But it was so fulfilling. To have someone look me in the eyes and say, "It's been wonderful. I have loved it. You have impacted my life." :') I felt the Spirit so strongly witness that she is one of the reasons I was called to serve in The Ohio Cleveland Mission at this time. I think of the circumstances in which we met and I just know that Heavenly Father brought us together. His plan is so perfect. It's amazing! 

I am so grateful for my mission. I know that The Ohio Cleveland Mission was the best mission for me. Oh how I am grateful for the strength of my Savior; I know that it is through Him that I was able to endure the many long (& many cold) days. A mission has helped me learn that I can do nothing by myself. I need my Heavenly Father. I need my Savior. And I need the Holy Ghost. I know that the things I have done are what He wanted me to do! That is the best feeling in the world -- to know I have fulfilled my calling. Striving to magnify my calling has given me direction and an unshakable foundation for my future! 

I love you all! I am so happy that I get to see you soon. And I am so sad I have to leave Ohio. But I am so grateful to know that Heavenly Father has a plan for me! 
Sister Pound 

Monday, January 18, 2016

save the best for last

Jan 11, 2016

Hey y'all!

It's been quite the week here in the Ohio Cleveland Mission. I am so excited to tell you that both David and Carolyn are ready to be baptized this Saturday!!! 

David had his interview with President Brown this past week. He has quit smoking and is committed to living the commandments! He even came to church yesterday even though he is having extremely bad back pain. He is determined! He always says, "It's GONNA happen!" :) It has been a long time coming -- his dad was baptized about 30 years ago. He will be baptized in the same place as his dad! Heavenly Father is awesome. David has been studying and feeling the Spirit and he is changing, little by little! 

Carolyn had her interview at church on Sunday! She said a prayer in the interview.. (Go Elder Bradshaw!) She has never even prayed in a lesson with us! Her heart has been softened a lot and she is so excited about everything. We took her to Kirtland on Saturday and she was probably more excited than the Sisters giving the tour. "Oooh! Look at the hats! Look at the shoes! Look at the table! Look at that spoon!" EVERYTHING. She was obsessed! Haha! It was a fun experience. It was also very spiritual. In the School of the Prophets (where Christ appeared), Carolyn said she felt the spirit so strongly. She bore a sweet testimony that she knew Joseph Smith is God's Prophet and that the Word of Wisdom is from God. It finally clicked that it is God asking her to give up coffee, not just the crazy missionaries! She stopped drinking coffee and is going on faith with that one! I loved it. She said, "I'm willing to try anything to please God." Beautiful.

We have had a couple lessons with Doyle as well. He is finally pushing himself to read The Book of Mormon! He's on 1 Nephi 13! I loved when he said, "Eternity is tied to this." He understands the importance of seeking out an answer! His progress is very slow, but it's there. I know if he keeps studying and praying, he will come to an answer. 

Hmmm... what else? Oh! Just some little tidbits -- we have this couple that were recently married and just moved in, the Johnstons. They made missionary goals and are doing awesome things! They have a goal to help 12 friends be baptized this year! They also want to feed us once a week.. I'm just making notes for my future self here. I LOVE when members are involved and not only that, but they have a personal desire to share the gospel. We met an old headquarter referral, Paje, again this week. The first thing she said was, "I'm so happy you stopped by again! I lost your number!" Elect. I was with Sister Davis that day and we both bore our testimonies to her. Paje said she loved how sweet we are and she can tell that we are sincere and care a lot about what we are doing. She started to look in The Book of Mormon with her kids!! Yay for being led to the elect (those who are prepared by God). 

That was our week in a nutshell. Of course, also picture all of those things being done in 30ish (and lower) degree weather. I'll put on my warmest scarf, my puffy coat, my multi-colored gloves and then there's not much else I can complain about. I have the best calling in the world and the noblest purpose. I love my mission! "My heart doth magnify His holy name." (2 Nephi 25:13)

I am absolutely grateful for the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I testify that the work we are involved in is that of the Lord. I testify that each of us have a purpose and the Lord LETS us be an instrument in His hands. We have things we need to do each day as disciples of Jesus Christ to improve the world. 

I love you all! xoxo,
Sister Pound

Saturday, January 9, 2016

"Am I makin' sense or am I just fartin' gumballs here?"

Jan 4, 2016 at 11:19 AM

Credits to Brother James for that wonderful array of words. He said that in a lesson with David when we were teaching about the Temple. Gotta love it!

Hello there! 

I'm sitting here, really trying to think about everything that happened this past week. But this week has felt like it was either two years or two days. Time is a warped thing on a mission!

Here are some cool things:
○ CAROLYN IS GETTING BAPTIZED ON THE 16th!!! She told us she has been praying about it and she knows it is right. She said she is willing to give up coffee and pay 10% of her increase! She actually made it sound like those things were small, but we see the complete change of heart that has come about. When we first taught the Word of Wisdom, she was quite defensive and said, "Tell me who has died from drinking coffee & tea! Ain't nobody!" We decided to focus more on helping her read The Book of Mormon. She started to read on her own and BAM! The Spirit got her. Heavenly Father is the coolest. I know that I am not the teacher, He is, through the Holy Ghost. It is amazing to see her progressing in such a short amount of time!
○ David is having some really bad back problems and hasn't been able to come to church for the past three weeks. :( But we have prayed and fasted and he has gotten a Priesthood blessing. He is meeting with President Brown this week and we are going to work from there. His baptismal date will probably need to be pushed back. 
○ Donald, Jen, and Donyelle are progressing (slowly). We taught them the law of chastity and Donald and Jen are now praying and talking about if they should be married. Donyelle is just eager to learn and is meeting with the Elders now! 
○ Yvonne (our miracle lady) and Andrea (another new investigator) are loving everything everything we teach! I wish my brain could remember more. It is amazing to teach the Plan of Salvation to those who have lost loved ones. We have the answers!
○ We were stopping by a potential, but he wasn't home. We started to walk away, but Sister Riffey had the prompting to knock on the next door. We did and this guy, Reggie, answered and told us that he is having a rough time lately and wants to be closer to God. He wants answers and direction in his life. There are no coincidences in the Lord's work!

Since I know you're all wondering how we celebrated... Our New Year's was spent doing the finest of things, aka missionary work. We bought some ginger ale and took it to Carolyn's lesson and she poured it in some fancy glasses. It was fun. We toasted and had a grand old time. We also had McDonald's for dinner. Mission life. :)

I love a talk I read by Elder Hales this morning. To quote him:
"I testify that if you are there for the Lord, He will be there for you. Only your faith and prayers will cause you to lift yourself and have the mighty change of heart. Only your resolve to be obedient can change your life. Because of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice for you, the power is in you. I testify that as you come to yourself, your Heavenly Father will come to you."

I love that powerful witness! I share the same feelings, that as we turn to the Lord, He does not leave us alone. He wants more than anything to help and bless us. I have seen His help in everything we did this past week. I hope you see Him in your life each day as well!

I love you each!
Sister Pound

"You got the game. You ain't no chump."
Dec 28, 2015

Thanks to David, our investigator, for providing me with the weekly subject-line of my email! Haha, I took that as a very high compliment! Also, Ray, our neighbor who always comments on how happy we are, said, "I'm happy there's Sisters in this world!" :)

Hey y'all! I know we talked recently, but I am documenting my whole mission in weekly emails so I have some things to share.

1. Well, it seems like Carolyn is making progress after our failed attempt of helping her to understand the Word of Wisdom. Her heart has been softened and since then, we have met and she has told us that she understands that there are sacrifices she will have to make to become a Mormon! She keeps saying she wants to learn more about the Church and those sacrifices. She is really dedicated and sincere, plus she is starting to read The Book of Mormon!

2. We fasted this past Saturday for David and Jen, to help them quit smoking so they can be baptized. David was really excited about it! He is progressing along really well. He is learning to rely more on the Lord for his strength. I see that he is changing because of his daily study and prayer, especially because he is coming to church regularly! We went to carol to him and his mother on Christmas Eve and he said some really nice things to me. He said that when I came, I brought out the best in Sister Blackner and that the Spirit really touched him through us together! He also said that if Sister Bakker and I could get together, we could be President and Vice President. (You guys don't know Sister Bakker, but she is a powerhouse missionaries, so for me to even be put in her ranks made me feel mighty good!) :D

3. Yesterday at 8:30 we didn't have a clue as to where to go or what to do.. so of course we saw a lady walk in to a laundromat and decided to talk with her! It actually went really well. Her name is Cindy and I think we may have freaked her out a little, but it's okay! She responded well when we told her who we are and that we felt prompted to share our message with her. We shared The Plan of Salvation -- that it answers where we came from, why we're here, and where we're going. She responded and said there's no way to know those things for sure. But we testified that we have those answers and it all went good. :) We really do strive to talk with everyone! Oh what fun it is to be a missionary!

Those are some tidbits I thought I would share that made our week good. I am learning a lot lately about the type of person I am and the type of person I want to become. I had the strangest, most simple thought the other day. Although I am nearing the end of my mission, I do not feel like I am done with the work I was called to do. My thought was that I am NOT done. In all reality, I will never be done, not even when my life on this earth ends. I feel that I have great potential (as each of us do -- we have a divine nature) and but a small part of that is being reached on my mission. I have so much to learn still and so much to growth to make. And that's okay! I am happy for my mission that has taught me to constantly be progressing, to become something better. I am grateful for a Savior who helps me do that. I know that His Atonement is personal and real & that He has the power to help each of His children. He loves us! It is the most amazing thing to witness those changes in myself and in the people that I am serving.

I love you guys!
Sister Pound