Sunday, November 29, 2015

all thanks to Him

Nov 23, 2015

Hey you!

It was such a wonderful week here in the Ohio Cleveland Mission! We saw so many miracles!

One night, we were driving home from the Kramer's (an active family) who live out in the middle of nowhere in our area! It was around 8 o'clock and as I have described before, 8PM is the biggest struggle of life sometimes when you are a missionary. We were driving along wondering where to go and we thought of a headquarter referral that was from 3 years ago (pretty old). We didn't know if they'd ever been contacted because we have tried to stop by a few times and they've never been home. Normally we would stop by in the afternoons because it is also in a part of our area that is kind of far out and we don't have a lot of potential there (yet). Our route going back in to town passed right by where they lived, so it was perfectly orchestrated. When a woman answered the door, we asked for Reagan, the referral who had requested a Bible so long ago. Casey called Reagan over.. turns out Reagan is her 10 year old daughter! That was surprising to us! We ended up having a really nice conversation with Casey about her faith and she kept asking, "Well what makes you different?" She said she could feel that we had something special. We were able to share The Book of Mormon with her and teach her a bit. At the end, her daughter came out carrying some little scriptures -- Casey and her family basically "ponderize"!!! They take one scripture from the Bible a week and put it on the mirror and work on memorizing it! It was amazing to feel that even though they are not members of The Church, they had the Spirit in their home. We both agreed that we need to pray to meet Casey again! That was a total miracle.. we couldn't believe a 7 year old would send a self-referral! Heavenly Father works in the most unlikely ways. :)

Another good story: about two months ago, we were driving down a street in Youngstown and saw a woman walking her dog. She waved and smiled very genuinely at us. It wasn't until after we continued going on our way that we realized we should have stopped the car to talk with her and share the gospel. Well, we went back to that street and knocked a couple doors trying to find her but we never did.. fast forward to this past week: we were driving down the same street and saw the lady with the dog again!! She was wearing the funkiest coat and cutest little hat and had the same genuine smile! Her name is Carolyn and we started teaching her and she came to church yesterday and loved it! She hasn't been to a church in over 10 years because she was caring for her mother who recently passed away. I totally knew from the first time we saw "the dog lady" that she was prepared to hear the Gospel! I love that tender mercy that Heavenly Father gave us to meet her again and have the opportunity to share the Restoration with her.

There is really good progress being made with the Stick Brothers! Donyelle (Bird) read 10 chapters of The Book of Mormon and they have been studying the pamphlets we have given them! We went with Brother Workman and shared The Plan of Salvation and they had so many questions and they are so sincere. They truly want answers from our Heavenly Father. It was an interesting lesson because they have this drunk friend who likes to come join.. When we were talking about the 3 kingdoms and describing the Telestial kingdom, he said, "That's where I'm going!" Then when we were describing the Celestial kingdom he said, "Can I just have pieces of my family? I don't want them all there!" It was funny. Nonetheless, Donald, Jen, and Donyelle are making progress. They were committed to come to church, but then woke up late.. next week! 

We got to meet with Sara Robison again, the less active we found last week. She wasn't too keen on letting us in, but when we testified that the Lord led us to her, she agreed! She told us that she is really disappointed because she just found out the church she has been attending believes in drinking and smoking, but she doesn't believe in those things. It was awesome to be able to testify of Christ's true church and of the Prophet Joseph Smith, through whom the Word of Wisdom was revealed. She said that she knows Heavenly Father led us to her because she has recently been thinking of The Church and that very day we were there, she was thinking of us! She wants to prepare to come back to church again. 

Oh heavens! There is just so much. On Saturday night, we had packed a dinner and it was pretty cold out, so we decided to eat at Burger King. (No, I didn't let the $1.49 10 piece nuggets pass me by.. they made a good addition to my packed dinner!) We were almost at the end of our hour, when a guy called out to us and asked, "Hey, are you Mormons?" We bee-lined to his table and he told us that he loved "our Plan" and that he used to study with Mormons down in Oklahoma. He said several times that the Mormons were responsible for where he is at in his life right now. His name is Demetrius and he has TONS of questions. He says the Plan of Salvation is everything he's always believed, but couldn't explain! Guess what?! He totally came to church yesterday!! You can't tell me that that is not the work of the Lord. I know He is guiding us!

David is progressing well. He also came to church yesterday -- yes, we had THREE investigators there! It was amazing! Gia is also doing well and we are going to the Temple with her this Saturday to do baptisms for the dead. We started family history with her and she is stoked about that. Jen is also still loving family history and is staying up late and waking up early to work on it! We also stopped by and saw Doyle yesterday and he is finally having a break from work for 2 whole months.. he is so prepared and I am excited!! He wants the gift of the Holy Ghost! 

It was a miraculous week! I love seeing the hand of the Lord revealed. I am working on strengthening my faith so that I can see miracles! I love that we know that Heavenly Father is a God of miracles. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I am grateful for that.

Have a blessed week! I love you all!
Enjoy Thanksgiving and that black Friday shopping! ;)
Sister Pound

Sunday, November 22, 2015

youngstown: the promised land

Nov 16, 2015 at 10:27 AM

Okay everyone I made a huge oops and got sidetracked on So this will be a short one! 

1. Jen is progressing!!! We started working on family history with her this past week and she is loving it! She even asked us to come help her one day when we weren't planning to see her! I am happy we found something that will help her feel the Spirit and put good things into her life. She is also working on Personal Progress with her daughter, Mackenzie, who is a member. They are reading The Book of Mormon together! WAHOO! She needs to overcome smoking before she can be baptized, but I know that she will as she continues to change small and simple things.

2. We had nothing to do one morning so we said a prayer and went searching for a former investigator. We had notes that they still lived in the same apartment complex, but the Sisters didn't get the new address. We walked around for a while, looking at names on mailboxes and doing the usual missionary creepy things to find someone (let's just call it being resourceful!). Well, just as we agreed to check one last building, we walked up but the door was locked to get in. A woman saw us through the window and let us in. She was coming to check her mail at the right time. Come to find out, Sara is a member of the Church who has been living in our area! She has been less active for a long while, but she told us about the faithful example of her mother, who was also a member and died 8 years ago. How cool is that? A situation in which we literally found a lost sheep.. some other missionaries had her records but had notes that she had moved! 

3. We haven't been able to meet with Michael again, but we did meet his wife! Guess what?! She investigated the Church about 8 years ago and remembers going to activities back in Chicago! She asked us tons of questions and said she was open to learning more. She is sincerely interested in what we believe. I am excited to teach a couple! Yay!

4. We met a guy called James Carter who was super cool. He told us that he had really good friends who lived in Utah and that he knew about The Book of Mormon. We were able to get his contact info and give it to the Elders in his area. He was so genuine! 

5. Well, k. This story might not even make sense because I'm typing fast and I'm not going to proof read.. Last week we met this guy who was raking leaves. We offered to help, but we were in skirts.. not very helpful. He told us he knew about the Mormons and the Mormon Bible. We got his address and told him we would stop by this week. We stopped by Donald's and he was so shocked to actually see us come back! He lives with his girlfriend and their three cute little kids. His girlfriend, Jen, has been to church before and grew up being really good friends with a member of the Church! They are both so open and have tons of questions. They are willing to pray in lessons and soak everything in. We went back last night and Donald's brother, Bird, and his cousin, Rocky, were there. So on a dimly lit porch in 45 degree weather, we taught about the Book of Mormon and answered questions. These people are so humble! They want to come to church and be baptized. I didn't feel cold once during that whole hour sitting there! The Spirit was there. Not to mention it was quite fun because they are black, so we asked about the Youngstown culture. They taught us the common handshake the people do and they call themselves "The Stick Brothers" and pretty much everyone in Youngstown knows them because they grew up there! Sister Blackner and I left feeling really good! We are totally in with the crowds of Youngstown now.. haha it is just fun to get to know the people and love the way they live. It's so different from anything I knew growing up. Anyways, their family has a good Spirit about htem and I know that they will progress because they have real intent!

6. (I always live my life by the motto: "Save the best for last." I feel like that started when Ash and I were younger and would always save the best parts of our food for last.. like the pepperoni on the pizza!) Saturday was the day our Stake was having a Thanksgiving Hymn Festival. We aren't allowed to go to activities unless we have an investigator, recent convert, or less active there. The day came and no one was committed to going. Well, we were in Youngstown and stopped by the Ross' to pick up some clothing donations. David Ross (a former investigator) was there and we remembered he loves music, so we invited him. He was ALL about it and we called Doyle, our other investigator who is friends with the Ross', and he agreed to pick up David. They both came and felt the Spirit so much so that they yelled, "Thanks be to God!" and other glorious things. :) Afterwards, they both talked to members of the Stake Presidency. Doyle started to really understand what The Book of Mormon is as our Stake President told of his conversion and taught him. David talked to President Wagley, a counselor, who he knows very well. President Wagley was talking and inviting him to act on the Spirit he felt that night.. Out of the blue, it escalated and now David has a baptismal date! Our Stake Presidency is awesome. President Wagley visited with him yesterday and made goals to help him reach his date. The looks on our faces was probably priceless. It was one of those miracles that makes you red in the face and grinning from ear to ear. Thanks be to God! Where did this miracle even come from?  

It has been a Spirit-led week! There is no way that we would've met all of these people who had previous contact with the Church unless Heavenly Father was leading us! I know that every individual is in God's hands and He is preparing every one of His children to join and come back to His fold! It has been amazing to see that this week. I am loving Alliance! 

Love to you all,
Sister Pound

it is a good day

Nov 9, 2015 

Hey y'all! This past week was so good! It was filled with member + missionary efforts here in the Alliance Ward! The raking has continued (Did you know a lot of people don't want their yards to be raked for free?). The best experience with that was on Saturday when we had next to diddly squat confirmed appointments, so we were stopping by people. We went to Sister Santangelo's, a less active member I have never had a lesson with, and caught her outside just starting to clean up her leaves. Of course we joined.. wearing skirts! Oh what fun it is to be a Sister Missionary! 

Seriously.. have I said this already? The members of the Alliance Ward are so amazing. We had experiences with 10 members this past week. Here are some of the most notable:
1. A funny one to start out.. Sister Connor drove us to District Meeting (45 minutes away) and we hit a chipmunk on the way back! I think I have a problem with laughing in situations that are stressful to other people. Sister Blackner and I about died laughing.
2. The Reeds had Xaveria over for dinner and a lesson. It was so awesome! Brother Reed committed her to reading everyday and praying about The Book of Mormon, instead of just focusing on Joseph Smith, which is her roadblock to being baptized. Xaveria said she felt at home with a lot of the members of the Ward. We taught her about family history work yesterday and are starting that with her this week! Hopefully that will spark something in her to be baptized.
3. Brother Reed came to visit Jen & Chad Anderson with us. Jen is going to be baptized on January 3rd!!! And Chad committed to prepare to baptize her! We went over the baptismal interview questions and Jen realized we have a lot of work to do. I am excited for this newfound focus.
4. We got to meet a referral, Lance, at the Bauer's home. His daughter is in a neighboring Ward and is a convert. He used to be very closed off to meeting with missionaries, but now he is so open! He has been meeting with the Elders at his daughter's home and hearing the lessons. He loves all of the members he has met from the Church and is coming next Sunday to visit the Alliance Ward! The best part was when he told us that the Elders were helping him work towards baptism in January! Surprise! We didn't even know that our new investigator already has a baptismal date.. That one put a smile on a missionary's face! 

I have a testimony that members and missionaries working together brings even greater power to this work! It is the way Heavenly Father intended it to be. 

On my mission, I have learned a lot about who I want to be (and who I do not want to be!). I am realizing lately that I need to change my attitude and just be happy regardless of whatever situation we find ourselves in. I am working on that right now. In church, Brother Stefancic said, "It is what you make it. If it is to be, then it is up to me." I like that thought -- that if I want to have Christ-centered life and be a happy person, then it is up to me. I know that in the past, a lot of my actions and words were influenced by others. I am learning that I can be interdependent with my companion -- I don't always have to agree or act the way they do. I can make my own choices and I can be the person I want to be regardless of who they are choosing to be. And that can change a whole situation! I am strengthening my resolve to more consistently be who I want to become. 

Maybe that was a roundabout way of saying what Elder Richard G. Scott so simply declared: "We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day."

I know that every choice we make is important. I know that we each have a divine nature & potential that our Heavenly Father is helping us to achieve. I am grateful that He gives us so many opportunities to change. 

I love you all!
Sister Pound

p.s. In regards to the message I just shared, I am forewarning you that the worst thing you can say when I come home is, "You're just the same old Aubrey!" :)

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

we just have to laugh

Nov 2, 2015 
Hello everyone! Happy Monday! 

This past week was cold and wet and full of learning experiences. Remember that time our car battery kept dying and we had to call members 5 times to come jump it? Or that time Sister Blackner's GPS stopped working so we had to start using a map? Or that one time we had to tract in the pouring rain? Or that one time we got dropped by three super awesome investigators? Amid all of the challenges of this past week, it was still filled with good. I think that is a huge lesson I am learning on my mission -- when trials come, there is still good. So I will just tell you all the good.

Remember the one time Xaveria came to church by her own choice? We weren't able to meet with her because she was sick, but SHE called US on Saturday night and said, "I'm kinda out of it, but I'm coming anyways. I haven't been in about a month and I need to go." The Reeds visited her and have been calling and inviting her! They are amazing. Brother Reed (WML) texted us today and said he saw Xaveria at the hospital and he just asked her when she was going to get baptized. She said she is still struggling with Joseph Smith so Brother Reed offered to help her and go to her house to talk it over! Our members are the best!

We had an awesome Trunk-or-Treat and chili cook-off! So many people showed up, including Jen and Chad! Sister Anderson (Karen - mother of Chad, Wendy, and Heather who are all less active and have families of their own) was in charge of decorating, so the whole family came and helped out and brought food. It amazes me to see the light that comes to people when they are serving. When we were cleaning everything up, Jen and Chad were smiling. I know the Spirit is with us when we serve and I am happy that all of the Anderson family got to feel that. We got to have dinner with them Friday night and Jen is going to let us come and make applesauce with her this week! We have created a good relationship with Karen and she cries often when she expresses her gratitude for us helping her family.

We have a really prepared new investigator, Michael. We met him just walking down the street with his kids about a month ago. We only got his phone number, but it stopped working and we never got his address. We were driving along last week and saw him walking again with his son. We stopped and he addressed us as "Sisters"! (That was pretty cool.) We got to go meet him again with Sister Wait and he actually remembered his appointment! We shared the Restoration and he totally understood the need for a Prophet today. He has never been baptized and said he is just waiting for God to whisper in his ear, "Now is the time." He believes a lot of true things which is a good start! He had a rough past of alcoholism, but knows the power that Christ has to change and strengthen us. We gave him a copy of The Book of Mormon and he committed to reading everyday and praying about it. Just like that! And he said, "I'll read it in my spare time.. which I have a lot of." Michael is awesome!! I am so excited to teach him. It is amazing to me that even a guy we met on the street for 5 minutes could be so prepared! Only Heavenly Father could orchestrate life so perfectly for that to happen!

We have just had amazing support from the members. Sister Connor came with us all day on Thursday when we had no set appointments! We stopped by so many people and finally at nighttime met a super nice lady, Mary. Sister Connor, Sister Blackner, and I were all able to share our testimonies with Mary, who has MS and takes care of her children and aging mother. Mary said she needs what we were sharing! So cool! Later we met a lady, Lisa, in a parking lot. She called out to us and asked if we had seen her dog around. We didn't, but we shared hope with her. :) Her son recently got shot 6 times and was paralyzed and she was visiting him in town. She said the doctors said he has a 1% chance to walk again. It was awesome, she said, "Well, we'll see what God has to say about that!" I love meeting good people who have faith. Faith makes a difference!

We did a lot of raking for the Crish's, Bishop, and some random people we met. Funny story: I lost my glasses and realized later they were probably in the huge pile of leaves we raked up. We drove back later to look for them and shuffled through all the cold and wet leaves to no avail. We walked down the street to look and found nothing. Walking back to the car, lo and behold, my glasses we under the wheel of our car! They only got a little dent in the side.. Tender mercy of being a missionary! And about our car battery dying so many times... tiwi says, "Warning: the vehicle battery may be low." Isn't that fun?! Who knew? Good ol' tiwi! A nice guy came out of his house to help us in the dark the first time it happened! We baked him cupcakes and went to take them to his family, but realized we had no clue which house he lived in and what his name was. We found his house and will go back! Hooray for random and kind strangers helping clueless Sister Missionaries! Now, for sure, I know how to jump a car. :)

Our Halloween was surprisingly the most filled day of the week. We did a lot of our service that day. We had dinner with Karen Anderson and visited the Workman's at nighttime. Seriously, our members do so much for us! Sister Workman drove us today to go get groceries. Our car completely went kaput on Sunday, so Bishop and his wife came teaching with us for 3 hours! We saw some less actives that we rarely meet and Bishop was great fellowship for them. 

Something I have been studying and recognizing a lot is the need for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. We always say that phrase, "constant companion", but I've never realized the immensity of that! We need the Spirit constantly.. every hour, minute, second of every day! And Heavenly Father offers that to us with conditions of our personal worthiness. WE decide when we have that companionship. Sister Blackner compared it to her girl's camp activity -- going to the swimming pool with a buddy. We all pretty much know the "buddy rule" for safety! She said at her camp, they would have random "buddy checks" and see if everyone was obeying that simple rule because they wanted to make sure they were all taken care of. I like to relate that "buddy check" to the constant companionship of the Spirit. Do I always have that buddy? I need my buddy to be safe! I have been trying to recognize more when I do and do not have the Spirit.. I think it will be the quest of a lifetime, but I am happy I am learning now. I would encourage you all to do the same. Maybe every hour, on the hour we can say to ourselves, "Do I have the Spirit with me?" If we do not, we can quickly check ourselves and start living to have that constant companion. I am grateful for that gift and I know it is so necessary. We cannot live on our own wisdom and judgments!

I love you all! 
Sister Pound

hey all yinz

Oct 27, 2015

GUESS WHATTTTT?!?! Sister Blackner and I are staying together for another transfer.. 3 transfers together! She will be going home after this transfer, so we are ready to work, work, work until she has finished her mission! I was really scared to spend more than 12 weeks with a companion, but I feel like we still have so much to do! We are enjoying the ward and we are growing personally! This past week we had interviews with President Brown and he told me that when Sister Blackner and I are together he can see the "sparkle" in our eyes.. so we are about to set this area on fire!

We had so many good experiences this past week... even on the worst of days, we have so many tender mercies. On Saturday, both of our set appointments cancelled and all we had scheduled was a dinner with the Holloways. It progressively got colder and we were tired and then it started to rain. I think someday I will look back on that day fondly and remember that tracting in the pouring rain when it is dark outside is so much fun! :)

We had an excellent lesson with Brother Fink! Finally, the lesson came to a point where I just had to be a little bolder -- I told him I didn't want him to be offended and that we love him. I told him that he is letting Satan win every time he believes the lie that his "personal issues" are greater than coming to church. I don't really remember everything I said, but I know that he felt the Spirit because when I was done, he said, "Okay. I'll come one of these weeks." We really thought he would come this past Sunday, but he didn't show up. BUT the miracle is the fact that he didn't outright say no to our invitation! He is preparing to come soon! 

We met some of the coolest people. One was Mack. We were stopping by a potential, but Mack was outside and yelled, "Are you Jehovah's Witnesses?" We told him who we were and shared The Book of Mormon with him. He loved all we shared and at the end he said, "I can't believe I've lived 60 years and haven't heard about this!" Then he told us that he was going to bingo that night and was going to share our message with other people. He took an extra Book of Mormon to give to his sister! This was not the only time this past week that we met someone at the right time and in the right place. We have so many experiences where we meet those who are willing to listen to our message and learn more. I know that the Lord guides us to elect individuals. To add to that testimony, we handed out 13 copies of The Book of Mormon, got 4 referrals for other missionaries, and gained many potentials this week. I think Sister Blackner and I have shared nearly 50 copies of The Book of Mormon in the time we've been together. That is probably more than I shared my whole mission prior. We are working so hard to give so many people the opportunity to act and receive the Restored Gospel! Not to mention, somehow when we stopped by 2 less actives we rarely get to meet, one was outside and the other was about to leave, so we got to invite them to the Trunk-or-Treat. It's little things like that that show me evidence that we are being led and the Lord is preparing people to meet us.

We met with Xaveria and had a refreshing lesson with her -- she is still stuck on Joseph Smith and is trusting google and her friends more than the promises we give her. She committed to read The Book of Mormon everyday this week and pray about Joseph Smith. I know that that is the only way she will know the truth of what we are sharing. It is so hard to see that we have simple answers, yet people aren't willing to try those things. The way is simple! Heavenly Father wants us to know truth.

We were able to go teaching with several members. We had a really fun time going with Sister Connor, a recently returned Sister missionary. She is so excited about the work and even though we only got to talk to a couple people, she loved it! She wants to come teaching with us once a week. We also got to go with Brother Johnston (he served in our mission) and his fiance to see Doyle. And guess what?! Doyle totally invited his friend Tim to join. We got to share more about the Restoration and The Book of Mormon. Tim had a lot of questions and Brother Johnston and his fiance bore their testimonies and helped us out! It was so powerful! Doyle is so prepared. I wish we could meet more often, but he works a lot of overtime!

To top off the week, we saw Gia at the Saxey's. She is just the coolest. We are hopefully going to the Temple with her around Thanksgiving time! We studied the Restoration more in-depth. It is a cool experience to teach someone who has a sincere desire to know and believes the Restored Gospel is true.

There were way too many gems from this week. I love that I get to share these experiences with you. I hope that they testify to you, as much as they do to me, that the Lord's work is being hastened! I am learning that our mindsets affect the work we do. I realized this past week that if we think we are a burden, then we will be a burden, but if we think we are a blessing, then we will be a blessing. I know the message of the Restoration is the most important message that others can hear -- and we carry that. We are witnesses of its truth! This message is more important than any phone call, where someone is headed, or what the person is doing when we meet them! I know I am striving to bless lives with this message. I know that you all can do that too! I have had the realization that when I go home and take my nametag off, I will still be a representative of Jesus Christ because that is the covenant that I have made -- to take His name upon me.  You all have made those covenants too! Other people see the light we bring to the world. We are the only source of the complete truth to the world. It's a huge responsibility! I know that the Lord is hastening His own work and we are just His instruments.

I love you all! Be good & do good.
Sister Pound