Monday, January 27, 2014

Sunny Butte... :)


Yeah it's been sunny and 45 degrees in Butte... :) sorry Ohio has been a bit nippier. Just think of it this way- you're suffering so I don't have to!! kiddinggg....  ;)

This week was relatively quiet compared to last week. Well, any week would be quiet compared to last week. So we didn't get 41 lessons, but we did get 28, which beats our norm by about 5 lessons. 

We had two investigators at church yesterday!

Honestly, getting investigators to church has been the HARDEST thing so far. 
Agency is for everyone, except my investigators.
Just kidding.
Actually, I'm more miffed by the parents who won't let us teach their kids. We have at least 3 kids that are 9-12 who would be learning and getting baptized if their parents weren't in the way.
So agency and parents aren't cool.

But don't worry, I do love agency and parents. Family's most important and also coming nearer to Christ wouldn't mean anything unless they chose it. One day those kids will get their chance and people will be ready to chose that which matters most. (2 Nephi 9:50-51. I've been sharing this scripture a lot this week)

So those at church were our 17 year old and his parents. YAY!

And our older gentleman who doesn't believe in Christ as his Savior was also at church. He was given a ride by a convert of about 1 year who is around his age and also very kind and welcoming. The convert also spoke and sang in church, which was awesome. And the two other speakers were a young couple that did a FABULOUS job. Two of the speakers spoke for the first time, and two of the speakers were recent converts. Honestly, one of my favorite sacrament meetings since being here on my mission.

Anyways, somehow we got dragged into helping with Primary, and so we didn't get to see how our investigators did in Sunday School. I was pretty unhappy about that, but some of that unhappiness may also deal with the fact that I don't like children.... just kidding. Kind of. Sister Pickering LOVES children. And LOVES Provo. So sometimes we don't agree. But despite our differences, we get along pretty well. There are just some taboo topics ;)
OH and she LOVES cities. BIG cities. I would SO stay in the hills of Montana forever and learn to be self-sufficient. 

Mission bucket list: pet a buffalo, meet a mountain-man, hike to a ridgeline, go to Glacier National Park.

I'm getting off topic.

I'll tell you more about our older gentleman investigator person.
We learned that he was an orphan. He lost his wife and only 2 kids in a plane crash in 2000. He served in the army and lived on a homestead in the middle of nowhere in Alaska. Way up north. He believes so strongly in the values needed to live a good life and be a good person. (That's what he admires most about the church)

He doesn't believe in an afterlife and as I've said before, he doesn't believe in Christ as his Savior. His beliefs in the Bible are also a little odd.

But he is reading the Book of Mormon. And he wants to go to church.
But he won't pray to God to know if the Book of Mormon is true because he's afraid of what he calls the "Jim Jones effect". He doesn't want to believe in something so bad that he convinces himself that it's true.
Our member present last week did a really good job of explaining the Spirit and also sharing that ultimately it does come down to ASKING. You have to ask in order to get an answer. 
We have weekly lessons with this man every Tuesday night, so we'll see how this Tuesday goes.
But ward members were really good about greeting him it seemed. I wouldn't know though, I was in Primary... grr.. haha just kidding.

There's actually one other older gentleman that we are teaching. He has some SERIOUS health issues and was told that he only had 1-3 years to live. He also told us that if he got the flu, he would most likely die. 
Guess what?
He has the flu.
Prayers needed.
He needs to be baptized before he dies.
Problem is that he doesn't understand authority yet, so he doesn't want/understand why he'd need to be baptized again.

That's all the craziness I have for you in Butte, Montana. 
Honestly, this is the greatest town ever.

And I'm going to learn how to cook a Butte icon food called a pasty for all y'all. I would feel like I was a failure if I didn't learn how to cook something from my mission after Peter & Greg always cooking us mission deliciousness.

Speaking of, Peter, you still owe me some homemade tortillas and baliadas, or however you spell it. And fried plantains. Hopefully you'll have more of a life by the time I get home. 

Hope it warms up for you!
Sister Griffin


Monday, January 20, 2014

Challenge Accepted!!

A week ago we received a phone call from our zone leaders with an invitation to make this last week the best week of the transfer. Mission-wide, each week we are encouraged to teach 20 lessons. We have been meeting this goal, teaching about 22 lessons. But for this week our zone leaders encouraged us to teach 35 lessons, with a zone goal of 200 lessons.

Well, the zone leaders also said to "shoot for the moon but if we miss we'll land among the stars". We thought they were demonstrating a lack of confidence in us. So we decided to up their challenge and go for 40 lessons.

By the time we got home last night, we had taught 41 lessons. It would have been 42 but someone cancelled on us and we had difficultly in finding people not watching the football game. (Something about it getting near to the superbowl. I don't know, I don't care)

Our family didn't show up in church this week though :( the son had to work and the parents aren't too motivated. But we're working on that! And we'll be finding the Native American woman on Tuesday, I think.

Our family whose son wants to be baptized lives out in Rocker, which is rather out of town. All that's in Rocker is a truck stop. Anyways, unpaved roads and lack of signs are the norm. And maps don't accurately capture the roads. In summary, it is easy to get lost out there. 

So when we went to go teach them, I was super excited to see that there were actually road signs!...until I saw they both said the same thing. (I don't know if you can tell in the picture) And NO, it's NOT a loop. 

So with our 41 lessons, we ended up meeting a few new investigators and a few new less-actives.

One investigator is an older man who was a former investigator that was dropped a couple years ago. He told us the timing back then was bad and that now he'd be more receptive. So we return the next day for a formal lesson and to learn more about his current beliefs. Our plan was to teach the lesson on the restoration.

We asked TONS of questions and didn't make it past the first principle - God is our loving Heavenly Father...Because we learned that he doesn't believe in much. He believes there is a God because otherwise there are too many coincidences. But he doesn't think God is loving nor is there a way to know that God loves him. He also believes Jesus Christ existed through history, but there is no way to know he was the Savior of the world.

So after cross-examining him for a long time, trying to lead him to see that it makes sense God would love us, we turned to our greatest evidence: our testimonies. And we could tell he was fully listening. We told him that he COULD come to KNOW that God did love him through the Holy Ghost. We shared that we had come to know of these truths, and that he could too if he sincerely sought for answers. And we left him with that- with our testimonies and the with the spirit.

What he said though reminded me of some of the anti-christs in the Book of Mormon, who would constantly say "you cannot know of these things, you cannot know there is to be a Christ". So when we return, we will most likely share with him some of those chapters. In fact, Alma 32-34 is written specifically for a people that aren't sure if they believe that a Christ will come.

Anyways, how grateful we should be to KNOW that Christ lives, and that he is our Savior and Redeemer. And also that God didn't just create us, but that He is a weeping God, that loves and cares for us so perfectly. I never thought I had taken that knowledge for granted, but I learned that I had to some degree.

Now I'll talk about the other investigator we met.
She ran into the sisters a month or two ago. Sister Pickering had never met her. We meant to drop by at a different house, but I accidentally turned the wrong way and decided to try her house again since we were there.

She was EXTREMELY glad to see us, something about having a crazy day and missed going to church. Anyways, we had only been talking to her for a few minutes when she gave me a huge hug. Good thing I like hugs.

Anyways, her ex-husband was a less-active and so she knows quite a bit about the church. She asked us for a "Mormon book" and that she wanted to straighten out her life so she could get her children back. Her mother-in-law was a less-than-stellar example of the church, and so this lady was always hesitant to read the Book of Mormon. That, and she shared the scripture in Revelations about "adding to the book". We explained the scripture but also shared the introduction to the Book of Mormon - that she would truly know the Book of Mormon was of God by reading it and praying about it sincerely. 

I felt the spirit as we shared that scripture with her, and also as we shared Alma 7:11-13 on the Atonement. I think she felt it too. 

She said she would call us and invite us back. I am very hopeful for this happening, but things do seem hectic with her and I wouldn't be surprised if she forgets. 

But she has a strong belief in God and knew God had sent us to her yesterday. Quite a different feeling from the other investigator I shared about...

Anyways, BUSY, BUSY week.
Sister Pickering and I were SO exhausted teaching that many lessons. We know Heavenly Father was helping us achieve our goal, guiding and directing us.

We have a zone-wide preparation day today to celebrate everyone's hard work this week. Our zone (8 companionships) taught 221 lessons and excelled in many other goals.

Hope you have a good week! I know we've been enjoying very warm, sunny weather here in Butte :) (if you call 40 warm, which we do)

Sister Elise Griffin

PS I still haven't "formally" heard about my transfer news, but it's pretty much understood that Sister Pickering and I are both staying!

Monday, January 13, 2014

look what I found...!!

There are two long tables in our apartment that have been with the Butte missionaries for quite some time. Every missionary who serves here in Butte signs these tables. Think of it as spiritual graffiti on these tables. Anyways, I thought I had remembered Ward serving in Butte, so I decided to finally moved around the stuff on the table, and lo and behold, I found his signature underneath the toaster oven! #GoWadsworthWard

The other picture is of some random houses in Uptown. Our car is actually in the picture- the nice silver Ford Fusion. (Or at least I think it's a Fusion). We like to refer to our car as the "Lord's Ford" -- referring to Nacho Libre's declaration "these are the Lord's Chips". #MissionaryHumor

I think it's hilarious that Ohio was colder than Montana... ya know, your cold temps didn't even touch Montana's cold temps. Just sayin ;)

So in addition to finding Ward's name, we also found new investigators!....actually, let's be honest - they found us. We got a phone call last Sunday from a less-active couple who hadn't been to church in 12 years. In their message, they told us that their son was going to be joining the service and that he wanted to be baptized before leaving. 

We met with them Tuesday at the church and put the son on date for February 8th. His niece and nephew were there as well, but they didn't really seem interested. Actually, the niece was a little we assumed she wasn't interested. Anyways, we gave the son a Book of Mormon, and he's been reading and praying.

On Sunday both parents, son, and niece came to church. Everyone seemed to have a good experience - the mom kept saying how nice it was to be in church and to be refreshed on the gospel. The son apparently was doing a great job of answering questions about the scriptures and the Holy Ghost in Sunday School (we sent him to be with the kids his age). But the niece seemed to enjoy it the most - she kept telling us about all the new things she had learned. Best part was that her primary lesson was on the Plan of Salvation -- which was exactly the lesson we were on! So we actually asked her a few questions to help teach the lesson after church.

This family really seems ready to come back to church. They said in the past, they just go to church when things are hard, that they always put other things first. But they seem ready now to come back to church. We're going to discuss with the bishop and see if maybe the dad could baptize the son and niece... there are quite a few unknowns with that plan, though, but it'd be beautiful if it could work out.

Another thing I've found is another Native American to teach! I missed all of the Native Americans from the reservation in Havre... Anyways, the daughter was actually a media referral from Salt Lake. We had given the daughter a Book of Mormon, but we haven't been able to teach her for the whole transfer. Anyways, we met her mom when we dropped off cookies on Christmas. The other night we stopped by again, and the mom invited us in, and started speaking with us, saying that we could teach her, and that she had "the Mormon book". She told us some of her struggles and started crying, which perplexed her since she said "I never open up, I don't know why I opened up". 

I apologize for whoever was annoyed by the hashtags. Sister Spencer loved hashtagging everything, and so I got in the habit of thinking in hashtags. 

That's about it, I think... I did receive a letter from President saying he was happy with the work we were doing in the area, so that was a nice reassurance that we're doing okay here.

I feel like I've grown so much, especially in confidence, since being here in Butte. And so while I wasn't happy to leave the office, I'm extremely grateful to have been transferred here. The Lord always knows what he's doing, you just have to trust in him. 

Transfers are next week... we'll see if I get sent off again haha I don't have any spectacular impressions this time. But either way - stay or go- it'll be where I'm needed AND also what I need too. This reminds me (again) of "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go" - the song I was singing in sacrament meeting when I made the decision and knew that I needed to go on a mission.

Love ya all!

Sister Griffin

Monday, January 6, 2014

2014: a year completely devoted to Christ!

Because sister missionaries only serve for 18 months, many of them do not have an entire year spent on their missions. I think it's so awesome that all of my 2014 will be spent serving the Lord :)

And we had a great start to 2014 as well!!

Alexus was baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday! Her less-active dad was there from Las Vegas and her non-member grandma and stepdad were there for her baptism. Also her mom, who was less-active until Alexus started being taught, gave a very touching talk on baptism. I played the piano for the baptism, which was cool but a little nerve-racking. Anyways, all went well and smoothly. There was a great turnout from the ward- much support for Alexus, for which I was grateful. We received many compliments from the ward for how well the baptism ran.

We are looking forward to the return of many college students so we can begin to work with them. We have so many people who have expressed interest in taking the lessons and learning more- the struggle has been actually setting up those appointments and having them not fall through! Ultimately I suppose it takes each of them putting forth the final effort to actually meet with us...

Because it is the New Year, many mission, zone, and district goals have been set. One was to include pamphlets in 75% of all of our lessons. Since the challenge was set forth, Sister Pickering and I have used a pamphlet in every lesson! (We have pamphlets for a majority of the PMG lessons- in case you're not familiar with them, they're in the Gospel Library under missionary) We're setting a goal for 100%.

One of the mission goals is to have an appointment every evening at 7:30 or later for January. The preference is that the lessons are with investigators or less-actives, but we can teach active families as well if all else falls through. The idea is to make sure we have somewhere to teach every night, since finding is harder in the dark and we get more opportunities to improve our teaching.

Another goal is to finish the Book of Mormon by the end of February, marking Christ's name and also attributes of Christ. So while I am reading, I'm underlining any reference to Christ and also faith and the blessings of having faith. I'm loving it! I'm kind of OCD about marking my scriptures, so I am marking in one of the paper copies of the BoM. (I had bought it in the MTC before I left for Montana) It really helps me to focus on why we need faith and how the Book of Mormon is truly another testament of Jesus Christ. So I offer it as a suggestion. I didn't think it would be helpful, but I found that it is.

I guess I can share about our New Year's Eve- we spent the evening at a young couple's home in our ward. We had permission to be in the home of a member until 10:30. We didn't spend that long, but it was a nice evening. This couple had another young couple over, whom we had met previously. Last time, they told us their friends were in the other ward. But it was this time that we learned that the wife wasn't a member! Thanks for not telling us haha we passed the referral on to the elders in the other ward.

The rest of the work is about the same- searching out less-actives, trying to instill some kind of motivation in them - trying to get investigators to church, help them work past their excuses, etc..

I want everyone to get motivated and have that desire NOW - but I'm learning that the Lord has his own timing, and that the important part is planting those seeds. And many of those seeds will take years to sprout - but I know they eventually will. What is important is to find and determine who IS ready now. And they are out there.

I suppose I will tell you about our medical marijuana investigator that we essentially dropped this week. She loves the Book of Mormon, and believes it is true - just as equally as she believes the Quran is true. So the main concern that she brings up every single time is how all religions are good, and that any one religion condemns all other religions. The last time we were over there, I tried (for probably the third time for me, 100th time for the sisters in this area) to resolve that concern - I shared about how everyone gets the chance in the spirit world, and the degrees of glory, and the restoration containing the full truth and other religions containing many pieces but not all the truth. By the time I finished speaking (and it's a miracle that she didn't interrupt me while I was speaking), she did not bring up elements of that concern again. She still has a bucket full of concerns and still isn't ready, but I am hopeful that perhaps that one concern has been resolved..

Anyways, because it has been New Years, we have shared the Mormon Message on the New Year quite a bit. It's actually pretty entertaining, so watch it if you get a chance!

That's about it. Just freezing cold, but I understand the rest of America is freezing even more. I am so grateful I choose to bring a super long coat and for all tights and leggings that I now have and hats and scarves. :)

Sister Griffin