Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Episode 13: The One with Christmas!

Hello everyone! I hope the holidays are treating you all well.

Christmas here was crazy! Our mission president let us sleep in until 8:00, which was awesome. We then visited members all day because people get cranky and apparently sometimes violent when strangers knock on their doors and interrupt their major national holidays. I think I ate 6 or 7 meals on Christmas, because everyone we visited seemed very concerned about us going hungry. We have a saying here (especially in the Samoan ward) that when you eat with members, you don't eat until you're full, you eat until you hate yourself, unless it's rude to stop, and then you keep going. I thought this was a joke at first, but people get seriously offended if you don't eat their food! We even have people send us plates and boxes home sometimes. But I'm certainly not complaining, because I only have to spend about $15 on groceries every week.

I also got to Skype with my family on Christmas, and that was definitely the best part for me. A member asked us if talking to our families is hard and makes us miss home, but honestly it doesn't. I think that if you are out on your mission because you want to be out on your mission and you love what you're doing (which I do), then talking to your family is just added awesome because you get to share your excitement with them. But, if you hate being out on your mission and you don't want to be here, I can see how talking to your family could definitely make that worse.

I've learned a lot about perspective this week. On Saturday, Sister Humphereys and Sister Johansen were both sick, so Sister Rydalch and I went proselyting together. We were talking to people coming and going at a large central bus stop. We talked to one woman who was very bitter about religion. She said she prays every day, but nothing changes in her life. She said all churches have ever done is try to take her money, and that they never try to help her with her needs. We asked if there was anything we could do to help her out and she said she was short on bus fare, and asked if we could give her some money, which we are not allowed to do. We said we couldn't help her, but that if she ever needed help around her house or in her yard she could call us. She grumbled some swear words, said church people are all the same, and left. About 5 minutes later, as we were walking back to our car, we stopped and talked to a man in a wheelchair. We asked how he was doing, and he said he was having a "blessed day". He wasn't interested in learning from us because he had to catch a bus, but wished us luck in spreading the good word. We asked if there was anything we could do to help him out, and it turns out that he was also short on bus fare, and again we couldn't help him. But instead of grumbling or swearing, he said " I understand. Don't worry, God will provide a way. Have a wonderful day." and he left to catch his bus. Seeing two people with the same problem but such different reactions was really humbling to me. I think sometimes I am the grumbling lady, letting hard things that happen to me make me bitter and looking for someone to blame or take my anger out on. Instead, I want to try to be like the man who trusts that "God will provide a way", and considers every day a blessed day, even when I'm in a wheelchair and short on my bus fair.

The work is a little slow right now. A lot of people like talking to us and acknowledge that our message makes them feel good, but not a lot of people want to change their lifestyle to fit with what they are learning. It makes me kind of sad to see such great potential from such amazing people not really coming to anything, but I'm hope that our interactions are still having a positive impact on their lives. I also know that we are working hard and doing the things we are supposed to be doing, so if we have enough faith and trust in the Lord's timing, we will find people that are willing to change.

I love my job and I love you all. Keep being awesome!


Sister Lemon

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Episode 12: The One about the Members

Hello again everyone! Merry Christmas!

Ok, so this week I want to talk about all the church members here that are so amazing and I already love them all, and because I love you all, I want to tell you about them.

First is the Wheelocks. Brother Wheelock is our Ward Mission Leader, meaning he facilitates missionary work in our area and helps connect the full time missionaries with the local members. He is also kind of a surrogate dad, and I'm not sure if that's part of the job description, or if that's just how he is. He actually reminds me of my dad, but older. He loves baseball and telling stories about anything and everything. He also does funny little dances and likes to help us pull pranks on the other missionaries (nothing bad, of course). His wife, Sister Wheelock, is one of the sweetest ladies ever. She always feeds us goodies and tries to keep Brother Wheelock from telling too many stories and getting off track. The Wheelocks have 11 kids (holy cow!), and one of their daughters, Kaesee, is 14 and goes out knocking with us at least once a week. Talk about an awesome youth! She voluntarily gives up 2 hours in the evening to go out in the cold and rain and knock on strangers doors with us. I could go on about the Wheelocks for days!

Another amazing family is the Bakers. They are both converts to the church, and they absolutely love missionaries. I think it is because they are so grateful that missionaries didn't give up on them, even though they had lots of issues in their lives, and that with the help of the missionaries, they were able to turn their lives around and be happier. We go to their house about once a week for dinner or service, and every time we go there, they take a picture with us and we put it in a photo album they gave us. They love photos. There are pictures all over their walls. They are also really enthusiastic about trying to help us find people to teach. No one in their family has joined the church, but they are trying to convince their kids, grandkids, and other extended family to meet with the members.

I just met a new family this week who had been out of town. They are the Leslies. They have 2 little kids, Garrett and Bailey, who are hilarious! We were talking to them at dinner on Sunday, and Elder Lewis asked Garrett if he had been good enough for Santa to come this year. Garrett looked at him and said "Christmas isn't about Santa, it is about Jesus. We should be good so that Jesus will be proud of us." It was so funny, mostly because it was true, and because a 6 year old was rebuking our District leader! Brother Leslie teaches a senior design class for mechanical engineers at a local university (I can't remember which one). He also makes the most delicious Spanish rice I have ever eaten.

Sister Bartholomew teaches the Sunday School class that we take our Cmbodians to (and then have to translate for them). She served a mission in Hong Kong about 20 years ago, so she knows a lot about Asian culture, and is also supper enthusiastic about sister missionaries. She is really awesome at making sure Taa (our one active Cambodian grandpa) feels included in the discussions, even though he speaks pretty much no English.

Oh, and then there is the Meekers. Brother Meeker was one of the original missionaries in Thailand, and then just this summer they returned from a senior couples mission, also to Thailand! They are awesome at helping us when we have investigators come to church, and because Brother Meeker speaks Thai, he can sometimes communicate a little bit with the Cambodians, which is awesome when it comes to helping them feel welcome.

Well, I could go on about members forever, but maybe you want to know about me. Yesterday was the mission Christmas party, which President and Sister Blatter put together for is. It was way fun, because 200 missionaries is always a recipe for fun. We sang and did skits and all kinds of crazy shenanigans. The missionaries in my mission are really the greatest people ever.

I want to leave you with 2 Nephi 25:26, which says " And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." That verse pretty much speaks for itself, but I have been thinking about it a lot recently, so I thought I would share it with you.

Love you all lots, and I hope you have a joyful Christmas with your families.


Sister Lemon

This is me and my companion, Sister Humphereys. For some reason we always crack up when people take pictures of us, so they are all a little goofy looking.

This is me with all the missionaries that came in the week after me. I should have come in at the same time as all of them, but Cambodian sisters are a little off from the other missionaries up here, in more ways than one!

This is me with President and Sister Blatter like a week ago. Sorry it's late.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Episode 11: The One with the Miracle Knocking Session

Hello friends! I only have about 20 minutes to write to you all today, so forgive me if this is short, but life is ridiculously busy right now!

Ok, so I want to talk about Sunday. We have church at 9:00, so we got there at 8:40 or so to greet and set up the headsets for translating the meetings into Cambodian. Sister Johansen was speaking in Sacrament meeting, and the four of us were supposed to teach Relief Society. At about 8:50 we get a call from the sisters in the Lincoln Ward, which shares our church building but covers a different geographical area. It turns out that one of the sisters was very sick and could not make it to church, but one of their investigators had gotten baptized the day before and was going to be confirmed (the second part of baptism) in their Sacrament meeting at 11:00, so they really needed to be there for her. So, Sister Johansen stayed to give her talk with a ward member designated to be her companion, and Sister Rydalch drove us to the Lincoln sisters's apartment (you will remember from last week that neither Sister Humphereyes nor I can drive). Sister Humphreyes stayed with the sick companion, I became Sister Peters's companion in the Lincoln ward, and Sister Rydalch went back to our ward to be with Sister Johansen again. In the midst of this, no one was translating for the two Cambodian grandpas who speak no English!

Well, needless to say, I was a little thrown off. I was glad to help put, but I was feeling very frustrated because I had to abandon all of my plans to meet with my investigators to do work in the Lincoln area, and I went to a total of 5 hours of church. I was beginning to feel like it was going to be a wasted day and I wasn't going to get any work done. Then cam our 5-7 knocking hours, which I was just not in the mood for, but I decided to just buck up and deal with it because being grumpy about knocking wasn't going to change anything. Sister Peters picked a street, and we just went for it.

And I cannot believe how amazing the next 2 hours were.

The very first house we knocked on, a lady answered the door with her 5 year old daughter. We started to see if she was interested, and she cut us off. It turns out she had lost her phone and she was panicking about finding it in the dark. She asked if we could call it for her, and of course we did. We then spent a few minutes with our flashlights trying to find it. It eventually turned up, and Jessica (the lady) thanked us. Then the cool part came. She said "you know what's weird? I was just wishing I had someone to call my phone when you showed up. I had been praying to find it, wishing I had a flashlight, and then you showed up with 2 phones and 3 flashlights. Isn't that crazy?" We then spent 45 minutes with her talking about the miracles that Heavenly Father gives us every day, and how He had answered her prayer. She is now scheduled to be baptized on January 2nd, and we never even went in her house!

At this point I was feeling tons better, and everything that hadn't gone my way that day would have been worth it just for that experience with Jessica. But Heavenly Father has promised to bless us beyond our sacrifices, and so the miracles continued.

A few houses later, a woman opened the door who turned out to be a member of our church who hasn't attended in several years because her husband is not a member. We had a great talk with her, and she told us that she thinks it is time her husband learned bout our church. She said he is very open to it, but that his father is a pastor of another religion, and her husband doesn't want to offend his dad by looking into other religions, but she wants to start having the missionaries over to see if he is ready yet. We prayed with her and her 3 sons, and the power of the Spirit was so strong.

Almost to the end of the street, we knocked into a lady named Rebecca who looked like the kind of people who usually yell at us and slam their doors. Think lots of tattoos, facial piercings etc. (I'm sorry for stereotyping, but I learned my lesson). We asked what her experience was with religion, and she told us that when her dad died when she was 7, she started distancing herself from God because she felt angry and betrayed. She rebelled for a long time, but recently, with her kids births, she decided to start building that relationship with God again. She said she had started praying and she reads the Bible every day by herself and every day with her kids. We talked to her about the power of scripture, and about how she can feel that same power while reading the Book of Mormon. She agreed to read it and pray about it, and was really excited that there was more scripture available to her. We also talked about how families can be together forever, and how she will have the chance to see her dad again. She also wants to be baptized, and the Spanish speaking elders are going back to meet with here again tonight.

So, in summary, here is what I learned:
1. Obedience brings blessings and miracles.
2. God answers prayers, and sometimes He will answer them through you.
3. I should not try and guess who is ready for the gospel and who is not.
4. No matter how great my plans for myself are, or how frustrated I might be when my plans get interrupted, God knows what I need and He will put me where I need to be when I need to be there. I just have to trust Him.

I love you all!


Sister Lemon

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Episode 10: The One in Tacoma!

Hello everyone! Sorry it has been so long. I'm sure you are all dying to know about life in Tacoma. From now on (for the foreseeable future at least), I will be emailing on Tuesday or Wednesday because the library isn't open on Monday.

Also, this week has been crazy! My new companion's name is Sister Humpherys. She is almost done with her mission. In fact, this is her last 6 weeks before she goes home. We also live with and share a car with Sister Johansen and Sister Rydalch, who are the other two Cambodian speaking sisters, and who will be my companions after Sister Humphereys goes home. The 4 of us are the only 4 Cambodian speaking sister missionaries outside of Cambodia. Isn't that crazy?! Actually, they should call us bilingual sisters, because we act as the Cambodian speakers for all of Washington, as well as the English speaking sisters for the small area where we go to church. Our day is about half English and half Cmbodian, which is a challenge, but it's tons of fun! We like to teach Cambodian phrases to the English and Spanish missionaries because they think it's funny to try to speak Cambodian and we think it is funny to listen to them. So far they know "baptism, or no?", "dear Heavenly Father", and "clap twice".

In case anyone was wondering, it rains A LOT here. Usually it's a "drizzle" meaning you can't see individual raindrops, but you still get soaked. Yesterday I had on a blazer, a coat, and a raincoat, and I still had wet arms! Luckily, we have a car, but unluckily, neither Sister Humphereys nor I can drive it because you are not allowed to drive your first 6 week or your last 6 weeks. So, Sister Rydalch drops us off in the morning, and we pretty much walk everywhere until she picks us up at night to take us home. It's wet, but we meet a lot of people! We also go out knocking doors from 5:00 to 7:00 every day, which is conveniently when it tends to be the wettest.

We are teaching some really cool people right now. One is named Om (Aunt) Bo. She's 60 years old and she moved here from Cambodia in 1942 After she escaped the Khmer Rouge. Then, while living in Tacoma, she got shot in a drive by through the wall of her house (apparently she lived in a sketchy area at the time), and now she is paralyzed on one side of her body. She likes to tell us lots of stories about living in Cambodia and Vietnam. She says she first learned about Christ when she was trying to escape the Khmer Rouge by fleeing to Vietnam. She stated praying that Jesus Christ would help her get out safely, and she has believed in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ ever since. She also thinks it is super funny that I speak Cambodian. I'm not sure why.

We are also teaching an older man named Al and his mom, who is 90 years old! They live in the cutest little green house with a white picket fence and the warmest fireplace on the face of the planet. We met them while knocking one night, and they are just the nicest people ever. Al loves family history, and has actually done family history work with the church and volunteered at our family history center for 30 years now! They really like to talk with us, and they are so sincere in asking and answering questions. When we teach them I never want to leave.

The ward members here are also amazing. I would try to explain them to you all, but I have neither the time nor the words. So just know that the WA-TAC is the coolest place ever and I absolutely love it here!

I want to end with a scripture. It is 2 Nephi 22:2, which says " Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation." I know that, because of Christ, we can always have the strength we need to make it through whatever life throws at us. A lot of things this week should have scared me (such as literally everyone here has an attack dog and sometimes they just leave them out in their front yards!), but I have put my trust in the Lord, and that makes everything okay, because I know I will make it through all the hard things.

I love you all lots! Pictures are on their way.


Sister Lemon

This is me on then day I arrived in Tacoma. From left to right: Sister Humphreys, me, Sister Johansen, and Sister Rydalch.
This is my district (plus the APs) at our weekly meeting today. It was our district leader's birthday, so we brought everyone party hats. Also, for some reason, we have the 40th street sign.