Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Really the BEST week of my Life!

  This week has been the most AMAZING week OF MY LIFE!!!! But really!
    Better just give you the week according to my journal.
              Practiced, practiced and practiced some more. Finally hunted down the frozen yogurt place in Mentor (Sis. Johnson is obsessed:) Shopping: Almond milk, hummus, eggs and TONS of Vegetables. Went home and cleaned the whole house just in case Elder Holland decided to drop in and inspect any apartments. Thankful for...Cliff bars and Panera cups (it helps us drink more water:)

             Sites were really busy so Sis. Johnson and I had to split up and take separate tours. This was the first time and to be honest I was kinda excited..it just sounded fun to take a whole tour all by yourself! It was not even fun at all!!!! That first moment I went and sat in the theater with my group all by myself was soooo weird. I suddenly realized how much I love having a companion! Sigh...it was rough but I made it through;)
     Sis. Johnson's mom sent her some fake mustaches so today she ran around with it on saying "My name is Inigo Montoya...you killed my father...prepare to die" Bwah! I died laughing. Thankful for...friendship...its so good to have a friend with you 24/7:)
                 Playing for Elder Holland was the most incredible 15 minutes of my life!!!! AHHHH!!!! 
  We were at the Visitor's Center when he walked in. So we just crouched upstairs by the balcony eavesdropping. His voice is so deep and kind and loving. He was just talking to a million people "hi how are you? whats your name? etc.." so cool. Then Elder Sorenson calls us and says "head over to the house right now. We are coming over for lunch pronto" so we run over there and try and calmly wait...yeah right! They walk in, Elder Sorenson introduces us "these are our Sister Training Leaders, they are here to do a musical number for us!" So we meet them all, they ask us where we are from, what are names are again. (Inside we were just freaking out!!) Then we sing/play for them....so nerve wracking! It went really well though, the spirit was so strong and at the end Sis.Johnson was just crying...she could barely finish, it was so sweet. When we stopped Elder Holland said "that was perfect....just like you two" (best compliment ever!!!! An apostle told us we are perfect!!!!) We talked with them for a bit longer. Elder Sorenson asked "would it be appropriate to get a picture with these sisters" Elder Holland was like "Sure!" It was so surreal. Then we shook all their hands again (it was Elder Holland, Elder Hallstrom and Elder Seldon). They complimented us, told us we were wonderful and doing everything right and then we ran out! 5 steps out the door we realized we had forgotten our phone inside...turned around and then were like "ahhhhhh better not..." so we then ran off to the Stake Center so I could practice for the other musical number for the meeting.
     The next 3 hours we gathered with all of the missionaries to learn from them. They walked in and Elder Holland says "We are going to shake all of your hands okay:)" so row by row we all go up and shake hands with an apostle. (3rd time that day for me!) He said "thanks for playing earlier!"
     His talk was so powerful! I will just share a few of the best quotes but when I get home remind me to read them all to you!
       "I had a friend in High School who went on to win 4 olympic gold medals in swimming, I asked him what his secret was and he said 'Kick when you don't want to kick and stroke when you don't want to stroke'"
        "Everyone looks pretty good the first few yards...its the end that matters. They don't give the blue ribbons out at the start, they give them out at the other end of the Lake at the Finish"
        "We are God's Investigators"
        He was telling us how he feels about returned missionaries falling away and them saying "but Elder Holland...that's just real life!" he said "THIS (referring to a mission) is Real Life, capital R , capital L. This is it! This is the closest you will ever get to it Real Life and what its supposed to look like!!" he said "DON'T go back to your old life. NOBODY can be what they were before. You CAN'T go back to that!!"
         "Nobody, NOBODY on the face of this earth has a PARTICLE of the Priesthood, except us." (he pretty much yelled this)
     Aw man...he said so much and every bit of it was so good. I pretty much could take any sentence and cross stitch it on a pillow it was so good!
       He taught us a lot about teaching with Power and Authority. It was amazing! He said..."We need to go out their and Astonish them."
        I still haven't taken it all in!:D

   That night we were over at Elder and Sister Sorenson's when the Palmer's walk in with Cindy (their investigator) On Tuesday, she told us, she had apparently called the Palmer's and told them that she was done. That she couldn't do this anymore. Well they got here to meet with them one more time and then took her to one of the meetings with Elder Holland. Afterwards she goes up to meet him and says "Elder Holland, I need a favour! Can you extend Elder Palmer's mission so he can baptize me!" Elder Holland just grabs her face in his two hands and says "You need to be baptized now! Be baptized before he leaves!" And so she is going to be!!! Its so cool! The Palmer's leave one Tuesday and she got baptized on Saturday! Coolest story ever!!!
 Thankful for...Meeting an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.

                District meeting...I made us sing a Christmas song for the opening hymn:) so fun! Had an awesome lesson with Susan. She says she believes Joseph Smith was a prophet and that Thomas S. Monson is the prophet today. WHY ISN"T SHE BAPTIZED?!?!?!?! She just says she isn't ready....we think its her husband. He supports her but just isn't into it and I think that scares her.
       We also saw Sandy, she is a recent convert and is so hilarious. She reminds me of Stephanie  a lot. Such a brilliant storyteller!
     Thankful for... Those moments when you and your companion have the exact same though and so you know it was inspired!!! Happens all the time! LOVE IT!

              Training meeting was so great! We had Elder Householder and the Palmer's bare their testimonies as their missions are all up! So sad. It was powerful to hear them testify of the power of the Gospel and what Kirtland means to them. It went way over though and then we were just about to announce that we would have to push the rest of our meeting to next week when Elder Sorenson pops up and says "This meeting is not about time....we will go as long as we need to" So we continued. Sis. Johnson and I got up and led a discussion about what we learned from Elder Holland. It was so neat. He had told us that "this mission is simmering...just under boil, and its just going to take a little extra push to get it to really explode!" So, we decided that to help the sister apply that we are going to start reporting Key Indicators (just like we do in our are with the number of lessons we teach) from sites every week (frankly, I am really surprised we haven't been doing it already)! Its going to be really fun and it will just gives us all more motivation to take tours and make phone calls and chat so that we can find more people to teach here at sites. Its going to be really powerful!
      Thankful for...Awesome tours.

           Miracle day! We had some crazy bus tours coming through and the schedule got all messed up so Sis. Johnson and I actually went to serve at the Johnson Home in Hiram OH. I have been waiting my whole mission to go their and I finally made it!!!! I was sooooo excited! It is such a beautiful place! We first went to do some service for our Bishop in the morning, his wife sent us away with the most delicious salad with Spinach and Kale and Avocado and cranberries and sunflower seeds. yum. Then we headed down to Hiram. It was kinda crazy because I really didn't know the tour. We had gone over it a little bit because Sis. Johnson served almost her whole mission down in Hiram. It, just made it extra exciting though:)
    It is such a beautiful place and I loved being there for the day!
    That night our investigator Jason came down for a fireside with Bro. and Sister Dalton (recently release Young Women's General President) He loved it so much. Then we took him around to meet Pres. Haymond (Kirtland Stake Pres.), Elder Sorenson and the Daltons and they all were like "You need to get baptized...you are missing out on the blessings" it was perfect! Just what Jason needed. He is seriously considering it so really pray for him!!!!
        It was the perfect day!
 Thankful for.....The Spirit. What a special gift it is!
            Kinda a so-so day. This week just wiped us out. Sis. Johnson wasn't feeling good and I just felt so lethargic. Just had to keep kicking and stroking our way through it even when we didn't want to.
    Thankful for... A companion. On days like this you just wouldn't have the will power to keep working unless you had someone right there to keep going with you.

       Well there you have it. I feel so uplifted and inspired! That truly was the best week of my life. I am so grateful to have been able to learn from an Apostle of our Savior. Life-changing!
    I love you all! Thanks for reading this forever long email!!
                  Have a super fabulous week!
         As President Vellinga says "Go, to Heaven:)"
                  Sis. Newren

Monday, May 19, 2014

Best week of my life!

           But really. Not only is Elder Holland coming, but I get to be in the musical number for that meeting. AND even cooler then THAT....Sis.Johnson and I were asked to come and do a musical number in Elder Sorenson's (site director) home while Elder Holland, Elder Hallstrom and Elder Seldon are all there for lunch. Sis. Johnson is going to sing I believe in Christ and I am going to play the piano. It's the opportunity of a lifetime and we are freaking out just a little bit! It will just be so incredible to be that up close and personal with an Apostle of the Lord. We are so excited.
             So that's mostly what we have been preparing for. We also had to pull together a musical number with a bunch of missionaries for Zone conference. It was such a disaster! The song we picked ended up being harder then it looked and our pianist could quite master it and then we had NO TIME to practice! It sounded so awful when we ran through it just before and Sis. Johnson just kept saying "I am going to cry!!!" and I just kept saying "no you are not. Its going to be fine." Oh boy. It really was pretty bad. The Elders that sang with us had good voices but didn't really know how to read music and the flute and violin sounded sooo flat. Eeeeek! We did it though and it is what it is! Gonna practice more next time!
            We had a guy from the Church headquarters come and do some training with us this week. It was really neat. He mostly just talked about how important visitors centers are and how we need to apply everything we know about missionary work in our tours. It mostly  was just a good reminder to keep doing what we are doing (although we have alot to improve on!) Elder Sorenson said he told him two words referring to how we all were doing...perfect and spectacular. So..not a bad review.  Of course how could anyone come to Kirtland and not just fall in love with it. It is the most beautiful place on earth and we are all just so happy to be there!
       Then we had Zone conference too this week! It was powerful. Our Stake President (I am back in the Kirtland Stake by the way...first stake to be organized ever!!!), Pres. Haymond taught us out of the book of Ether. He pointed out how God told the Brother of Jared to make the boats "tight like unto a dish" (its say that phrase 5 times in one verse so it must be important) and then how that was the only reason they were able to survive all of the crashing waves and ferocious winds(trials) it took to get them to the promised land. He asked us "how tight are our vessels?" and then proceeded to help us understand that that is why exact obedience to all of God's commandments is so important. We don't want to leave any cracks for Satan to get in. It was so cool! Then of course President Vellinga got up and inspired us all to be better. He is the best mission president ever! 
        We had so much fun going to the Zoo on Monday! It rained and poured all day (good thing we had umbrellas!) our shoes were soaked (it took them two days to dry) but it was oh so worth it! Its a really nice Zoo! Then for dinner we went to Piada's (Italian Street food) it was delish, and for dessert...frozen yogurt! Yummy! It was such a fun day. and then we had three awesome lessons that night to top it all off!
       Kirtland is getting busier and busier and so its harder to get everything done in our area that we need to! I feel like we are always behind in everything! At Kirtand and in our area. Its so hard to keep up with it all but It is manageable and God is definitely helping us. One thing I loved that President Vellinga said in Zone Conference was "The Lord is the one who is Hastening the Work....we just have to keep up with Him." SO TRUE! GOD is just doing it! We just have to work hard enough and be worthy and keep going going going so that we can keep up with this great work! Its hard but so worth it!
 Funny story of the week:
So we had just finished up an awesome day in our area and were heading home. Usually Sis. Johnson knows how to get home but we ended the evening in a weird part of town so we used the GPS and I just clicked the "GO HOME" Icon. Well I had a thought pop into my head that maybe it wasn't set as our house in Kirtland so I double checked with Sis. Johnson "that go home button will take us home to kirtland right?" and here was our moment of miscommunication...in her head she heard "we are going home now right" haha so we go along our merry way. Half an hour later we pass a sign that says "Welcome to Aurora" and then just on our left appears the Barrington apartments. We drove all the way to her old home in AURORA!!!! which is like 50 minutes away from Kirtland!!!!!!!! AHHHHHH we just screamed and screamed for a second. "WHY ARE WE IN AURORA!?!?!?!" We had already been running late and now it was hopeless. We were supposed to go on Exchanges starting that night too! Ugh...we had to call and cancel and then start the long trek home! It was so horrible and hilarious. We laughed about it the whole way home...I still can't believe we drove all the way to Aurora! Oh boy.
      Side note: had a really intense Stake correlation meeting with The Stake president. Mission president and the zone leaders in the stake and the sister training leaders. The pressure was on! It was really neat though to see those men work together and to be able to counsel with them on how as the leaders we have to help this stake. It was so cool!
     Well all in all we had a great week. Not as many lessons as we would have liked but we did have 9 nonmembers at church yesterday! It was so awesome! 3 of them were our investigators. They all loved it and will hopefully be back!
 -Alexandria and Kayla are progressing very well and are excited to get baptized on June 27th.
  -We also have an investigator Jason who is going to go a fireside in Hiram, OH with Sis. Elaine S. Dalton and her husband and we are going to take him on a tour through the Johnson Home before it starts (this will be the first time I get to go there!!! finally!!!). It will be so good for him and we feel will really help him find his testimony.
   The work is going well and we are stepping up our game and really focusing on talking to everyone! Miracles happen everyday!
      I love you all so much! Have a fabulous week! The church is true!
                  Sister Hannah Newren