Sunday, September 27, 2015

all the work is working

September 21, 2015
Hello to you this Monday day! 

It has been a good week to be a missionary in Ohio! It was one of the busiest weeks of my whole mission, this past week! We had 29 lessons, took Xaveria to Kirtland, had a "Member Training Center" (MTC) activity, and so many tender mercies in between! 

Like I said, we finally got to take Xaveria to Kirtland!!! It was amazing and filled with the Spirit. I teared up more than once. The tour was not only something that Xaveria needed -- I feel that I needed to hear and learn all of those things too! The work I am doing on my mission is needed. We really hope everything felt and said at Kirtland helped Xaveria recognize a more clear answer about the Prophet, Joseph Smith. It was frustrating because the Kirtland Sisters would ask questions and she would respond, "I can't answer that." -- even to the question, "Did you feel the Spirit?".... And when we were in the N. K. Whitney store, she didn't want to walk up the stairs, so she didn't get to be in the room where Christ appeared! AHH.. Our hearts sunk at that moment. We were able to do a virtual tour, however. The Spirit was still very strong. I hope it helped in some way.

We had a lesson with Gia to prepare for her baptism! Her mom is very supportive now. Gia is just awesome. She understands the Gospel so well. We talked about obedience and studying the scriptures. She has a personal testimony that living the commandments and standards that Christ has set forth has given her more confidence and self-worth. She also bore her testimony about how praying before studying the Book of Mormon invites the Spirit and that she understands the messages she normally couldn't! OH and guess what?! Gia is only 16. She is amazing. She has been coming to church for the past 2+ years and attending activities. She is so excited to finally be baptized!

Okay, something else super cool -- a few weeks ago, we were driving down a street in Youngstown and had the impression that we should tract it. Well, we got to go back this past week. We were just driving along to stop by someone across town, but I saw a man sitting on his porch (on the same street we noticed) who was nice enough to wave back at us. We parked and got out of the car! We approached him and were able to share a Book of Mormon and teach him the Restoration... then that started a trail all along that street of just talking with everyone who was outside! We were able to give out four copies of the Book of Mormon and teach two Restoration lessons. It was miraculous! That day we gained three new investigators and a member referral! Heavenly Father is trusting us with such amazing blessings! I know in part it is because of our effort to reach out of our comfort zones! We are being the representatives of Christ that we can be.. that includes setting aside our personal fears and loving the people enough to share the Restored Gospel with them! We are being blessed to open our mouths and share our testimonies.

Hmm.. oh yeah! Jen, our investigator, committed to give up coffee! She is still smoking, but it is growth that she needs to come closer to baptism. She has desire, but no motivation because her husband is less active. We met with some other less actives and talked about spiritual goals.. Let me tell you: it is really easy to feel uncomfortable as a missionary. It is really hard to ask people about where they are at and where they want to be. We did it and I was blessed with a feeling of peace that we had done something necessary. "There is no comfort in the growth zone and no growth in the comfort zone." I am trying my best to remember that. 

Our Member Training Center activity was awesome! Our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Reed, led it! Our theme was "Keep It Simple, Saints!" (the "K.I.S.S." method) He created an activity and we were able to help our members identify frequently asked questions that they could give simple responses and simple invites to. We practiced doing those things with just one line each. The members loved it and said it helped them to really simplify the way they thought to share the Gospel. It is true -- the simpler, the better! 

I am learning so much and I am loving my mission every single day! It is exciting to be engaged and fully immersed in the Lord's work. I love knowing that I am exactly where Heavenly Father needs me and that I can be a blessing as His instrument. I hope you all are experiencing the blessings of my mission as well and that you gain something from the letters I send each week! 

I love you all!
Sister Pound

party on

September 15. 2015
Guess what?!? I get to spend another transfer with Sister Blackner!!! We are both really excited because our area is a little bit on fire. As Sister Blackner always says, "Party on!" 

(And of course, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! to my brudda, Josh. Another reason to party on!)

This past week was miraculous altogether. 

GIA IS GETTING BAPTIZED ON OCTOBER 11th!!!! We met with her and her mom, Cora, yesterday! Her mom was nice and gave permission. She is going to come to church to check everything out and wow.. it all went really well! I can't believe the Lord is making this happen after 2+ years of missionaries trying to help Gia be baptized. 

Xaveria is doing well -- she is really struggling to know that Joseph Smith is a Prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true. It's hard because we see that she is getting answers, but she has to realize it for herself! We just want to take her to Kirtland! Hopefully that will happen soon.. Even though she is struggling to say she definitely has a testimony, she is excited for her baptism and asked a Brother in our Ward if he would baptize her! Not to mention, she keeps telling us that all her friends are trying to get her to go to other churches, but she responds and tells them that she is already committed to a church!

We have some awesome new investigators -- Richard and DeAnn. They have been dating for 8 years! They are AWESOME. We taught the Restoration and they know the Bible super well.. and they believe all true things! They were smiling so big when we invited them to be baptized (first lesson) and Richard, especially, was so excited to start reading the Book of Mormon! I am so excited to go back and teach them more!

We had a really good lesson with a less active, Sister Ward. She asked us a question about the Atonement. The Spirit was there and she told us about when her mom died and she went to her funeral, she walked up to her mom and put her hand over her mom's. She said that she felt the most pure happiness and warmth in her soul and she loved that feeling. It was amazing to be able to testify to her that Heavenly Father sent Jesus Christ to Atone that we can feel that pure love through the Holy Ghost! She was smiling and just kinda in awe at that fact. 

We also had our Zone Training Meeting on Thursday.. wow. That was jam-packed with the Spirit. I always learn so many things to better the work I am doing and the effort I am making. We got a lot of rule changes from our Mission President. At first, they were really difficult to accept.. like the fact that we can only listen to hymns sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Anyways, Sister Blackner and I are trying our hardest to embrace the rules and work effectively. We are seeing so many blessings and having so many irreplaceable experiences because of it!

I love the talk "Choose Wisely", by Elder Cook, that I read this past week. He says: "I encourage everyone, young and old, to review goals and objectives and strive to exercise greater discipline. Our daily conduct and choices should be consistent with our goals. We need to rise above rationalizations and distractions. It is especially important to make choices consistent with our covenants to serve Jesus Christ in righteousness." I know that that is what I am striving to do. I love setting goals and working on the things that truly do need to change. I know that I have changed so much and that there is still a ton of changing to do in my lifetime. I am so grateful for a mission that has changed me. I hope that I become better able to keep my covenants as a result of my service. I love that Heavenly Father has given me this opportunity!

I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ's church. I know that blessings come to all who follow the example of Jesus Christ. I know that anyone can learn those truths for themselves by praying with faith and real intent.

I love you all! 
Sister Pound

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

the sweatiest week ever

September 8, 2015

Hello there! 

Hey, did you know Ohio was in the 80s and 90s probably every single day this past week? And did you also know that missionaries are outside a lot of the time? And we do service, like cutting down trees with super dull saws? And the humidity will get you even if you're in the shade? As Sister Blackner told me, "I've only dripped sweat, like, twice in my life. And both were on my mission." We've agreed that we probably sweat our own weight this past week. It was SO hot. And the work was wonderful & miraculous. The best.

We got to go to the Canfield Fair yesterday to celebrate our week of work. :)

I love being with Sister Blackner! This past transfer has flown by! Transfers are next week!!! We have been having super awesome miracles. And working really hard. I am totally out every single night.

Well, about our investigator, Gia (who is 16) -- She has been investigating for 3 years, but her mom won't let her get baptized until she's 18... At least, that's what we settled with... But no! No! Heavenly Father is the best. We decided to do a ward council fast for her this past Sunday. At church, Gia told us that her mom asked her what she has to do to be baptized! We are hoping to visit Gia and her mom with the Bishop and get everything going! She could be baptized this month! We are praying for it.

We also have this awesome investigator, Xaveria. She is going to be baptized in one month! She is loving the Book of Mormon and church! she said it was the best day ever at church this past Sunday! Everyone is so friendly to her and what not. We had a member take her to church (an extra 30+ minutes added to the 40 minutes of driving the the building..) and that same member offered to bring Xaveria dinner because she is having trouble with her vision. She drove all the way back just to drop it off! Talk about being Christlike.. wow. The members here blow my mind. I am so happy that Xaveria really does have such a strong desire to be baptized. She was talking about it a lot and she is excited! 

This past week alone, we have met 2 less actives that have never been reached by the Sisters here! We have so many new investigators and potentials and I am just so excited to continue trying with all of them! We have met some families.. Oh, that would be the dream: to teach a whole family and see them come to Christ through baptism! One of our new investigators, David, was previously investigating the Church. We taught him as sincerely as we could and hoped the Spirit would testify to him. In his ending prayer, he said, "Father, I know that they know it. I want to know like they do." How cool is that?!

Not to mention, we have even been having opportunities to share the Gospel on Preparation Days! We met some really nice people at the Fair yesterday and last week this guy, Sonny, approached us at the mall! He asked if he could sit with us and asked us all sorts of questions. We taught him the Restoration and he told us that later that day he was headed to the Holy Land! He gets back this week and I am excited to teach him more. He said he would read The Book of Mormon on his flights. 

I am so grateful that so much good is happening. Sister Blackner and I are working so hard. We are striving to do Heavenly Father's will and we are constantly trying to seek and recognize opportunities He is sending. It really is exhausting, but I know it is worth it. We are going to find every single elect individual that the Lord has prepared for us, specifically as a companionship, to bless! 

I hope this week you all will think of ways to invite others to come unto Christ! It doesn't have to be something huge, but at some point we have to realize that just being an example is not the most effective way to share the Gospel! Open your mouth and have the faith to let Heavenly Father bless you with a miracle. (If you don't know how to do it, ask the missionaries to help! I would love to help any member that has a desire to share but doesn't quite know how!) I testify that He does bless us with experiences that let us know He truly is there. I see that every single day.

Much love to you all!
Sister Pound 

p.s. We for sure had the police called on us this past week when we were tracting.. Fun stuff! They were nice police officers. :) Also, we met one of our less actives, Sister Daley, who is now a "treehugger". She is studying Psychology and just kept saying that I was super creepy looking and that she wouldn't want to tick me off because I would be scary. Oh what fun it is to be a missionary. :)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

August 31, 2015

Choose courage!

Hola all! 

(I am short on time, as always. Here's some highlights though!)

- Sister Blackner and I got to go to the Columbus Temple with a member, Sister Demarco, going for the first time! That was amazing. We saw so many people there that we knew, including a Sister from St. Marys that I know! I love the Temple and I love the Lord for making that a brilliant experience with so many people I love.
- We had Zone Conference and Mission Conference with Elder Randall K. Bennett of the 70. Oh my goodness... Elder Bennett is such a powerful teacher! He taught me so much about how to be a better, more consecrated missionary. And as we have applied his counsel in the past week, we have seen the difference! Our days have been filled with such interesting experiences!
- We met a man named Alvin White and started to teach him. He decided to give us a history lesson instead, but at the end, after we attempted to share the Book of Mormon and Restoration, he said he felt uplifted.. Good enough for me! I am grateful that he felt a difference when we were there! I know that those who are prepared to accept the restored gospel will feel the difference when we are living the gospel and sharing it with them!
- Random tidbits: Meeting a woman whose started to cry, telling us that her son is going through cancer treatment and anotehr man whose mother just passed away. It's those time when we're able to share our testimonies that the Spirit confirms to me that we are in the right place!
- Xaveria is reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it! She says she still has doubts, but is pushing forward towards her baptism. She was concerned about paying a full tithe.. she just found a job that will help her so much with her situation!!! MIRACLE.
- We met a super prepared man, Doyle, who just has a natural curiosity about the Book of Mormon and the Church!!! He wants to visit and when we bore our testimonies about what we were sharing, he said that if he knew those things were true, that would be "priceless". 

AHHH.. I can never even make a dent in explaining our days here. They are filled with so many rejections and little experiences that are so insignificant to you all. But the miracles that happen are so wonderful. I love Heavenly Father for blessing me with so many good things to see and share about. I have so many stories to tell!!!

I have been pondering the question Elder Godoy asked in October Conference last year: "Are we prepared to leave our comfort zones to reach a better place?" I am trying to leave my comfort zone each day and serve the Lord to the best of my ability! It has proven difficult, but very worth it. Sister Blackner and I are having so much fun.

Try it! Miracles happen outside of the comfort zone. :)

I love you all!
Sister Pound