Sunday, October 18, 2015

it happened

Oct 12, 2015 

Hello everyone,

Yesterday was one of the sweetest days of my whole mission. I know it will be a day I remember for the rest of forever. GIA GOT BAPTIZED!!!! And we had fast & testimony meeting a the cutest little Kramer boys got up and bore their testimonies. Here is wisdom from some 10 and 7-year olds: 
   - "If people don't get baptized, other people can be baptized for them."
   - "If we pass along cards, other people will want to come to church."
   - "I know when we share our talks, other people will want to to."
   - "I think that the true church is very good."
   - "I know people have been praying for Gia to get baptized and IT HAPPENED."

I love little kids. And I loved Gia's baptism. It was filled with the Spirit -- the whole chapel was filled and Gia was so prepared. Her testimony was amazing. She has been waiting for 2 years to be baptized. 8 other Sisters who taught her were able to see the whole service on Skype! It was so precious, we had a lesson with Gia before she was baptized and she was praying and started to tear up. She said, "I'm so thankful I'm able to be baptized.. This is the best gift I could ever get." She is rock solid. I am grateful to know how much being a member of the Church means to her. That makes me appreciate my membership in Christ's church more. It truly is a blessing that some people wait patiently for.

So this past week we had other miracles:
   + Megan. She is next door neighbor to and good friends with the Bishop and his wife. Sister Reed was talking about a Relief Society activity and Megan asked if she could join. She went and saw the General Conference CDs sitting on the table at the church building. She asked if she could have one. She listened to it and wanted to watch General Conference last weekend, so she downloaded the Mormon Channel app. She watched it and really liked it! She told Sister Reed that she wants to join our church! We were able to take her a Book of Mormon and Bible and she is sincere. She had strong faith in Christ and knows she needs to get back into religion to help her daughter, who is 9. Sister Reed is so overwhelmed -- who would've thought this miracle would come so quickly? All in the Lord's timing! We can't be afraid to open our mouths!
   + Marlene and Sue Ellen. We got to share the Restoration with them. Brother James (speaks Portuguese -- their native language) came and the Spirit really touched them as he taught in their language. The Spirit was SO present. By the time we ended, Marlene prayed that she just wants to know the path that will help her family follow Christ the best way. Afterwards, Brother James was like, "Oh, I don't know if you caught that, but Sue Ellen said she's looking for a church to be baptized into, but she doesn't know which one yet." Wow. The power of the Spirit is real.
   + Brother Fink. We had an intense lesson. Sister Seaman was with us as we talked about repentance. Seriously, the Spirit was making me sweat, haha! We shared the donut analogy for the Atonement and Brother Fink teared up (heck -- I teared up!). I hope we helped him understand the Atonement better. He did watch Conference and was much happier than he normally is! 
   + Xaveria. We went to see her with the Wagleys yesterday on her birthday! President Wagley is so bold and loving. He invited Xaveria to make simple goals to reach baptism -- getting healthy and doing the small things. She has had no progression recently and their presence was much needed. I hope this really helps her from now on! 

It was an amazing week. Every single day I am filled with gratitude for all the Lord is doing! I know that His work is moving forward -- I am a witness to that everyday. I know that the Gospel brings feelings of joy that no other thing can bring. 

I love yinz!
Sister Pound

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

"Leave it all on the streets of Ohio."

Oct 5, 2015 

(That was a quote from Elder Dunne, inspired by Ammon. We had out Zone Training Meeting this past week and it was absolutely wonderful!)

Hello you all!!! Happy Monday! It has been pretty cold this past week in Ohio. I pulled out the tights.. :) Today the sun is finally out again and we're in the 70s. Perfect! To add to the cold weather this past week, we got rejected a lot and definitely had lots of tests of diligence and patience. We had some great experiences though and, of course, General Conference automatically makes any week the best!

First point of exciting news: GIA IS GETTING BAPTIZED! (officially because she passed her baptismal interview!)

We haven't been able to see Xaveria very much.. in fact, we only saw her once, which is very unusual! She is facing many health challenges and has been in an unpleasant mood mostly. She told us that is will not be ready to be baptized on October 11th! She is still waiting for her answer about Joseph Smith.. and of course, her health issues are distracting her. 

We have the coolest new investigators this week! And they are so elect! The first is a woman named Karina. She is from Mexico and has lived in the United States for a while. She has 4 daughters that are so darling! She was so receptive when we first met her. We shared the Restoration briefly with her and her mind is open. She thinks it is worth it to learn new things. We are excited to go back this week! 

We also went back to Marlene's home to drop of a Portuguese Book of Mormon for Sue Ellen, her niece. She has been talking to our member, Austin, who introduced the family to the Church. He has been asking her if she's reading the Book of Mormon, but she had been waiting for us to come back with it! She is excited to read it and pray about it. She also has a member friend in Brazil that she is going to ask about the Church. Sue Ellen said she will have a lot of questions and we are meeting with her this week as well!

I loved General Conference!!! We watched with some members and at our Stake Center. My favorites were from Elder Lawrence, Sister Marriott, Elder Renlund, and President Uchtdorf (women's session). That's a long list, I know! But those were the ones that spoke specifically to me! I loved two thoughts from Elder Lawrence: 
1. "To the Lord, our direction is more important than our speed." 
2. "What is keeping me from progressing?"

Those two statements really made me turn inward and think of what I need to do to change! I love that feeling -- that there is something to work on. I know that the most important part of Conference is what we do AFTER. I am going to make goals and plans to change. I hope you all do as well! We will be so blessed as we do! 

I love you each! Thanks for being so supportive.
Sister Pound

good little tidbits:
- We visited some potentials, Mike & Itala. They expressed all of their concerns about their Church. They were asking us questions.. They are really funny! (They were both probably a little tipsy.) 
  M:"Here's another enigma I have..." 
  I: "Enigma?" 
  M: "I don't know what that word means. Anyways.."
- We tried to share the Book of Mormon with a man we saw. We asked him if he would like a copy. He turned and laughed and said, "I'm smokin' weed right now." Then he turned and walked away. Oh Youngstown. I love it!
- We met an awesome potential, Marcello (only 18). He was so interested in the Restoration and we got his number. We called him a few days later and he told us his brother got shot and that he was really busy right now.. Another Youngstown story.
- Jen, our investigator, is going to start going to the Addiction Recovery Program group here so she can work on quitting smoking! 

fine & dandy like cotton candy!

Sep 28, 2015

Dear everyone,

It was definitely a really great week here in Ohio. It is officially autumn. I am happy for sweaters and boots, but sad that the cold is coming.. It is drizzly and gray out right now. And I know what that means: the Ohioans are preparing for hibernation. :) I definitely feel like a wimp when it's 60 degrees and I am already shivering and complaining! Oh it is wonderful to be a missionary!

Something really cool: Sister Blackner and I had 30 whole lessons this past week. Can you believe that?! We set the goal and were excited to try and reach it. We did it! (Well.. Heavenly Father helped us do it!) That is something I have never accomplished my whole mission. It feels really good. And there are some really exciting things that happened.

1 - We had a lot of lessons with Xaveria. We brought Sister Miller, our Relief Society President, unexpectedly! It was such a good lesson. We went over the Restoration again and Xaveria finally understood. Something clicked!! The Spirit taught her and she just said, "Wait.. so you're saying that everyone out there that thinks they're baptized.. they're not TRULY baptized?!" It was a golden moment. She also admitted that she felt the Spirit is Kirtland. She said she felt it standing on a bridge over a river (where early Saints were baptized!). I'm not sure she recognizes what to do with the fact that she felt something.. but at least she told us! Sister Miller was able to share her conversion story (Xaveria loves to here anyone talk about their own conversions!) and brought up the fact that she was able to have the work done for her parents in the Temple. We had to teach about the Temple then and Xaveria really thought that was a cool point! She definitely has a lots of questions about it and is still waiting for her answer about Joseph Smith to help her believe everything else we've been sharing. She is praying and reading the Book of Mormon. She is searching for the truth because she wants to find a church that her brother (and his family) and her mom can also join. Oh! Also, Xaveria has a lot of health issues. We were able to go with our Bishop last night and he gave her a blessing! 

2- Gia is still absolutely golden. She is being baptized for sure on October 11th. We created the program for that yesterday! Her friend, Ethen, that originally introduced her to the Church and gave her a Book of Mormon 3 years ago is probably going to baptize her! What a long miracle in the works! Heavenly Father is a master architect with all of His plans and timing.

3 - Remember when I sent a little tidbit about a man named Doyle? Well, we were able to meet with him again. Finally! He has a crazy work schedule and always has overtime. We were texting him when we were with Sister Miller and asked if he had read the intro to the Book of Mormon. He responded and told us he did and that he had some serious questions. Of course that makes our missionary minds run in circles! He was able to meet that night and Sister Miller was with us so we could. Perfect. His question ended up being really simple to answer and he accepted our response. We were able to share about General Conference coming up and he was really intrigued by the fact that we have a Prophet on the earth today. We also got to share a little about the Restoration. He really wants to read the Book of Mormon and visit church soon! He plans on watching General Conference! 

4 - We saw our investigator, Antwone (We learned that is how you really spell his name!), again. He is generally a big talker and loves to preach and share all of his knowledge. "I am not a Christian, but I'm Christ-like." That is his motto. So I prayed beforehand that we would get to share our testimonies and that he would feel something different with us. In the lesson, we talked about prophets and apostasy. Guess what Antwone said?! He said, "I know you two have the Spirit of Christ in your hearts. I feel something different around you." !!! Direct answer to a prayer. He is eager to learn more about the Restoration.

5 - Sad little bit left: We met with Brother Fink with Sister Workman there. It was such a Spirit-filled lesson. We all bore strong testimony and were very bold with him. When we extended the invitation to come to church, he said no!! So crazy! It is so sad to know that we feel the Spirit with him so intensely and that he can't get past his own personal issues. Even Sister Workman said we are doing a good job. Just gotta keep trying! Latter-day Saints keep on trying! :) 

I really enjoyed the General Women's Session on Saturday evening. I already started getting answers to questions I didn't even recognize I had! I know that General Conference this weekend is such an opportunity to receive personal revelation directly from Heavenly Father. How amazing is it that He speaks to us through inspired leaders? We don't have to wonder what He is trying to tell us -- We will know for sure this weekend! 

We have been sharing this message with anyone we can. In the Book of Mormon, we are told to "FEAST upon the words of Christ" because "the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do." Can you remember what you had for dinner two weeks ago - or even last week? I for sure can't off the top of my head. Can you remember what your had for dinner last Thanksgiving? Of course I can automatically recall that day and where I was and everything I had. I was stuffed! That was a FEAST.

The scripture doesn't tell us to "nibble on the words of Christ" or even to "consume moderately the words of Christ". No! That is not what we are supposed to do. We are to FEAST. A feast, like Thanksgiving, takes a lot of preparation and time. There are many varieties of food. We invite those we love and care about to be with us. And of course, we take part in every course of the meal. It is the same for a General Conference feast! We have been preparing these past 6 months. Our personal and family prayer and scripture study help us do that. There will be many different speakers with different messages, but all add to the Spirit! We can invite those we love and care about to watch and listen with us. And we should take part in every session of Conference. Who knows if dessert (our favorite speaker) will be served in the middle of the Saturday afternoon session, or at the beginning of the Sunday morning session?! 

I really love this analogy. I hope you all get an opportunity to watch! I love you! 
Sister Pound