Monday, October 24, 2016

Baptism By Fire... Literally

October 24, 2016

Hello everyone!

This week was pretty awesome! We did all sorts of service projects this week. One of them was a little interesting. So, there's this "college" here in Monticello. I don't know what they focus on, but they have about 20 students, and it's just a little strange.They're trying to make a new form of housing, made of sandbags making a dome, and then covering it in a mixture of mud and cement... As if putting mud on a house wasn't brilliant enough. Apparently its earthquake proof(even though it has no foundation, it's a dirt floor), bullet proof, sound proof, and a lot of other proofs... We were in charge of covering it with mud/cement. It was fun, just a little different.

We also helped an investigator paint his trailer, and they chose bright purple! And we raked leaves. And we chopped Sister Codner some wood. And we cleaned out the back room of a thrift store. There was a lot of stuff to be thrown out, but we did it as a district, it was fun.

So, we had an investigator decide he wants to be baptized but his parents won't let him til he's 18, which is in March. It's not too far away, but still. And we have another person getting really close! Both of them are being taught in member's homes, and that makes all the difference!! Members are the key to missionary work.

This week we had a bit of an adventure. Wednesday night we got in, it was about 9:00, so it was dark. We were walking up to the house, and look off to the left and see something glowing. We walk over and see its a flame. So we run in and ask Sister Codner if she knew what was going on, and she didn't. We ran out and got some buckets and a garden hose and put it out some, but it had spread quite a bit. Thankfully it wasn't a lot of flames, just ashes and embers at this point, so it must've been burning for a while. Parts of the fence were on fire, and there was a flame surrounded by pine needles under a big pine tree. We were scrambling, but we managed to keep it under control. We had the sense of mind to call the fire department, and they put the rest out. I'm glad they came. We think it started when Sister Codner spread some ashes from her wood stove. She uses it to heat her living room. The fire fighters said it must've been burning for about 2 days. We got there just in time, because it was picking up quite a bit. But the miracle is that we didn't have any major flames or the fence didn't go down(for the most part) and the house was ok. The fire didn't even get to the inside of the fence. Normally we have a south wind, but I think Heavenly Father pushed it north so the fire would spread away from the house. And it's a miracle it traced the fence but never got in, because the fence is pretty close to the house. Anyway, Wednesday night was an adventure! All is well here, Sister Steadman is the best trainer and companion ever!! She's from Far West UT, which is by Brigham City.

I love you all more than the number of miracles that happen to missionaries all over the world!!


Sister Withers

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

First Day in the New Mexico Mission

Wow, this week was a big week! Monday was such a long day, we were up at 2:45 and spent the entire day dragging around luggage through the airports, trying to stick together (there were 11 of us), and then we finally made it and the mission president and his wife are super nice and let us rest for a little bit, but we were still exhausted. But I think I've caught up on sleep now, which is wonderful. I got to my area Tuesday afternoon, and so far, I love it! We serve in 2 wards in Monticello, and a branch in Dove Creek, which is in Colorado. They are both really small towns. 

We drive a silver 2014 Nissan Frontier truck. It's super nice, and it has a USB music port, so we listen to music all the time, and it has the feature where you call somebody, and it hooks up to the speakers in the car so we can talk and drive, it saves us so much time!

We usually drive 20 miles from our home to either Monticello or Dove Creek because they are in opposite directions, and spend the day there. We usually park the truck somewhere and walk everywhere because the town is so tiny. We spent our first day in Dove Creek. We were walking from house to house visiting different people. One of them was a less active, and we were sitting on his back porch reading from the Book of Mormon with him. He has a dog who wouldn't stop barking. It was his turn to read the next verse, and in the middle of it, he shouts "Shut up Homer!" I'm guessing that's the name of the dog. It was really funny though! We tried not to laugh. After our appointments, we were tracting, and there was a drunk man sitting on his porch. Sister Steadman says they have gone many times before and shared a message with him. As we walked by, he called us over, so we go say hi to him and shared a quick message. So yeah, I taught a drunk man on my first day.

On Wednesday, we had a service project. We reinforced a hogan. (Hogan is a traditional Navajo house. It looks like an igloo, but it's made of mud. They are round and about 12 feet tall. This one was a replica for some historical site). The funny thing is, they are made of mud. So, how do you reinforce mud? By adding mud to it. Doesn't that just make perfect sense? I'm wondering what happens when it rains. Or maybe it doesn't rain enough out here to do any damage. But anyway, we spent the afternoon mixing dirt and water in buckets and then carrying it over to this hogan, and just sliming mud where it was weak.

We have an investigator named Louis, who is having a hard time getting over some addictions. He says he's committed to living the gospel, but can't stop drinking. But he has moved to the elder's area now so we won't be working with him anymore. Most of the people here are less actives. And it's surprising how many people have been ex-communicated from the church. I think a third of the population here has been ex-commnunicated at some point in their life. Some of them are still non-members, some have been re-baptized and are now active, but most of the people we work with are less active.

I live in Eastland, which is in Utah but part of the Colorado branch. The lady we live with is super nice. She's 85 and widowed. Sister Steadman says when they first got here, she was a little grumpy, but she has warmed up now that she has company all the time. I think she was just lonely. But she has an awesome house! It's like a country cottage on the outside, and Victorian style and decoration on the inside. It's in the middle of nowhere (a tiny dirt road that turns off of a dirt trail is the driveway). But it's super nice, and there's a piano in there, which is wonderful. We are so spoiled!!

I love you more than the number of square miles of fields out here! (I'ts basically all farmland or nothing).

Hope all is well! 
Sister Withers

Friday, October 7, 2016

Last Week at the MTC!

October 6, 2016

Hello everyone!
Today is P-day, and we went to the temple. We did a session; it was so good. I did a family name for one of the family names that I did the initiatory for last week. (Thanks Chad for the names!) I'm so glad I got to be a temple worker before I came on my mission! It's only been 2 weeks and I can already tell how much it blessed my life. It's weird going only once a week, but it's going to be even harder not going for like 6 months.

Conference was this past weekend. I hope you all had a chance to listen to it. If you didn't, you should look it up and watch it soon! It was amazing! I've never learned so much in conference before. My favorite was Elder Nelson's talk on joy. I like how he said that we are living in perilous times, these are the latter days, no doubt. But in 2 Nephi 2:25 we know that "men are that they might have joy." So here we are, living in this world, and we are supposed to have joy! Thank goodness for the gospel and for Jesus Christ and the light we can get when we keep the commandments. Being obedient equals blessings. Be obedient, and you will have joy. There were lots of talks in conference that I liked, but that one really stuck out to me. Also, when the MTC choir sang "Called to Serve" it was amazing! We were in the MTC standing and singing as our friends and companions were representing us in the conference center, singing that song in front of the prophet! I felt the spirit so strongly!

At the MTC they do movie nights for the missionaries, and by movie night, I mean watch a talk. And we had just watched all 10 hours of conference, and then had a devotional. But we lucked out because they were showing Meet the Mormons too, so we watched that. But it was the new one. I actually don't think it's officially out yet. They added 3 people to the original 6 people they did in the first one. But it was good!
My district is super funny; we always find stuff to laugh about. Sunday night we were in the classroom, and all 6 sisters could not stop laughing (I can't even remember what was so funny) but for a solid 20 minutes we were just laughing our heads off.

On Tuesday nights, they do a devotional, and this past Tuesday, Sister Linda K. Burton and her husband came and spoke. It was so good! (Sister Burton is the general Relief Society President). But I really liked what Brother Burton said. He talked about becoming a missionary. He had his granddaughter come up (she's actually in the MTC right now) and put on his suit coat. He said that the suit represents a missionary's mantle, or purpose. We put on our name tag and represent Jesus Christ, and at first, it's way too big and you feel like you're drowning in it (because the suit coat was really big on her.) But as we serve our mission, it's like we are working out our missionary muscles and we are growing with each lesson or act of service we do. And over time, we begin to fit into the mantle, and eventually it fits! But then we go home, and are released from being a missionary, and take off the suit coat. And what we have left is what we have become. I don't know if that made any sense, the way he explained it was much more eloquent, but it was a really good analogy and the spirit was so strong!

Yesterday, Sister Gillie and I had extra time after lunch, and we decided to go into one of the rooms and just play the piano. We took turns, and while she went, I stood by the window and watched all the new missionaries coming in. I felt the spirit really strongly at that moment, and I know this is where I'm supposed to be. I realized how incredible the MTC is. They have 500+ missionaries coming in from all over the world, and they come here and get a companion and take different classes and teach different people. This place is so organized!! It works like a very intricate clock, and the spirit is always present.

It's crazy to think that this is my last week at the MTC. It feels like I just got here! Time is so warped at the MTC. The days go slow but the weeks fly by. I'm going to miss feeling the special spirit this place has, it's unlike anything in the world! But I'm excited to get into the field and serve the people in New Mexico! I leave Monday morning!!

I hope everybody is doing well! I love you more than the number of missionaries who come into the MTC each week!

Sister Withers