New Jersey is BEAUTIFUL. 4th of July zone activity!
Hello from New Jersey!
You all sound like you’re doing great. It is so fun to hear about what’s happening in your lives. Keep me updated! It sounds like you’re having tons of fun in Utah with the family – give everyone a hug for me! Beans, congratulations on your AP exam! A 5?! I am so proud of you. Way to bring honor to the family, kid.
Here are answers to some of your random questions: Yes, I have a car! Our area is so wide and spread out that we need a car to get everywhere. We drive everyday, except Thursdays. We do not have iPads in our mission – only the rich missions, like New York, get iPads. My shoes are great, especially the water proof pairs. It pours here! Sister Taylor and I go on a run almost every morning, and hand out pass along cards to everyone we pass. It’s really fun. I’m in charge of the cooking, so we eat really well. Yum. Thanks for the recipes Momma! If you come across any quick and easy recipes, send them my way! We get $160 a month to buy groceries and other necessities. I made us a monthly budget to keep us on track. Yay for budgeting!
It has been a great week here in Sparta! The people here are extremely patriotic. I’ve never seen such American pride in one place. Our town looks like a patriotic bomb exploded red, white, and blue everywhere! I celebrated by wearing red, white, and blue everyday. On the 4th of July, our entire zone drove down to Denville to watch fireworks! It was tons of fun. When you join a mission, you get 250 instant best friends, and we had a blast watching the fireworks together.
I am serving in the Sparta area, but I actually live in the town of Newton. It’s actually quite funny, because the sister missionaries live in the sketchiest, most dangerous part of our area. We live on Spring Street, which is the main street of the town. When people find out where we live, they get really worried about us and suggest we find someplace else to live. The ward members are concerned for our safety (apparently, one of the sisters in our ward played a key role in apprehending the drug lord who lived next door to us…he’s in jail now). Spring Street is the center for drugs, alcohol, and violence. I’m not quite sure why they have us living here, but it’s quite the adventure. I now understand the purpose behind the dressing guidelines for sister missionaries. Hooray for frumpy clothing! I am Frumpelina and I love it. Thankfully, the Lord is watching out for us and protecting us.
Our (old) mission president promised us that if we contacted 10 people everyday (contacting could include a conversation, handing out a Book of Mormon, giving away a pass along card, or someone reading our name tags) our investigators would double. This week, Sister Taylor and I decided that we would try to contact 15 people every day, and our investigators literally doubled! The week I arrived (almost the day I arrived), we found 3 new investigators. This week, the Lord blessed us with 4 new investigators! I love D&C 82:10. When we are exactly obedient and diligent, the Lord blesses us with miracles. The investigators that are really progressing are: Milly, Jenn, Maureen, Linda, and Denise. Thank you for keeping them in your prayers! That was a great idea, Dad.
This week, we were able to teach _______ several more times. Every lesson is an amazing experience. She has a heart of gold and a strong faith in Christ. _______ is profoundly deaf and has a limited education. However, the Lord has blessed her with miracles to help her understand and gain a testimony of the gospel. Earlier this week, we challenged her to pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true. Even though she doesn’t understand it very well, she reads it every night and then comes back to us with questions. She agreed to pray about it, and came back the next day with an answer! She told us that right before she went to bed, she prayed to Heavenly Father. She prayed: “God, I can’t hear so you need to show me if this book is true”, and He showed her in a way that she understood. What faith! _______ knows the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith is a prophet! It is amazing to see how her testimony is growing and to be a small part of it. _______ taught all of her friends and family about the Plan of Salvation this week and gave away a few copies of the Book of Mormon – now all of Spring Street knows who we are! Honestly, I’m not sure if that is a good or bad thing.
Another woman we are teaching is named *******. Last week, Sister Taylor and I made a goal to increase the number of people we contacted. Contacting is not our favorite thing to do, but we knew that if we tried, the Lord would bless us to find new investigators. Before leaving our apartment on Thursday, we said a prayer and asked Heavenly Father to bless us with the courage to contact. We walked out of our apartment door, and immediately saw *******. She was walking on the other side of the street, wearing a neck brace and carrying a bag of groceries. We immediately ran over to help her carry her bag. When she saw us and our name tags, she dropped her bag and her cane, grabbed our hands, and prayed right in the middle of Spring Street! She thanked Heavenly Father for answering her prayer and sending us to her. ******* has been struggling with health and financial issues, and had prayed for Heavenly Father to send her help. Well, Heavenly Father answered her prayer and ours, because He put her directly in our path! What a miracle! We were able to teach a brief lesson, and she asked if we could come visit her the next week. Sister Taylor and I were almost speechless. People don’t normally ask us to visit them! They usually ask us to never come back! On Tuesday of last week, we went to go see her again. We helped her clean her apartment (she needed help because of her health issues) and taught her the first lesson. ******* has so much faith in Jesus Christ and the power of prayer – she is prepared to accept the gospel! We just need to teach it to her first. Sister Taylor and I are planning to visit her again this week to serve and teach her more. We are also hoping that have the Young Women come out with us, so that they can be a part of the missionary work in Sparta!
Every Saturday, Sister ——- comes out to teach lessons with Sister Taylor and I. Sister —— is 70 years old and lives in a nursing home. She joined the church about 10 years ago, and she wanted to bear her testimony to anyone who will listen to her! It’s a lot of fun to spend our Saturday afternoons with her. Heavenly Father blesses us with miracles when we are with Sister —— because of her great faith. Last Saturday, we were able to find a less active sister in the ward because of ——! It was a complete accident too – —– handed her husband a pass along card without even realizing who it was! This week, we took her out for ice cream (She’d been complaining about how the nursing home never gives her ice cream… I was more than willing to go out for ice cream with her) and taught her about contacting and the first lesson. Sister —– is always pretty nervous about teaching because she feels like she doesn’t understand the lessons very well. Sister Taylor and I spent an hour teaching her the first lesson, and she really seemed to appreciate it! On Sunday, she went up to bear her testimony and thanked us for teaching her about Joseph Smith. She said, “The sisters taught me a lot, and I learned a lot too!” Then she laughed her mischievous laugh (it almost sounds like a cackle… it’s quite scary) and waved at us from the stage. She is so cute.
Apparently there was a hurricane this week! We had no idea, because no one thinks to tell the missionaries about insignificant things, like hurricanes. Sister Taylor and I are pretty far inland, so we just got a lot of wind and rain. Boy, it sure can rain here! I’ve never seen anything like it. When it rains, it pours. It’s a good thing I brought three pairs of water proof shoes, because the worst of the storm hit on our walking day (Thursday). Sister Taylor borrowed a pair of my shoes, because walking outside was like walking in a tiny river. It was crazy!
On Thursday evening, Sister Taylor and I were outside knocking doors in the middle of the pouring rain. Oddly enough, every single one of our appointments had fallen through (that never happens), so we decided to go contacting. Contacting wasn’t going very well though, and we were at a loss as to what we should do and where we should go. Normally, we are busy all day long with people to visit and lessons to teach. There isn’t enough time in the day for us to get everything done! But on Thursday night, we literally had nothing to do except knock doors in the pouring rain. As the evening wore on, I started getting a very uneasy feeling. As I mentioned before, we do not live in a very safe area, and I had the feeling that we needed to get inside as soon as we could. Sister Taylor and I were slightly uncomfortable with the idea, because we have been trying hard to be more diligent this week. However, we decided that we should probably listen to the Spirit and walk straight home, since it wasn’t leading us anywhere else. I don’t know what would have happened, but I know that the Lord is protecting His daughters in Sparta!
Mom and Dad, I would like to thank you. I am so blessed to be a part of your family. I love you, and I’m grateful for everything you’ve taught me. Even though I am the one in New Jersey, you are (in a way) serving in this mission too. The longer I’m out here, the more I realize what I’ve learned from both of you and how that is blessing the lives of the people here. Thank you for being the greatest examples of kindness and service I know. Growing up, I have watched you as you’ve given everything you had to the Lord. I’ve seen you give up time, work, sleep, and family to your callings and to serving the members of our ward. I’ve watched as you’ve comforted the sick, the sad, the poor, and the dying. You both selflessly serve and uplift the people around you. I have only been here two weeks, but in that time, I have seen more sadness that I knew could possibly exist. I have sat in the homes of people who don’t have any money, who are dying, who struggle with serious addictions, who are crazy, and who are hopeless. I have sat in the homes of ex-drug dealers searching for a better life, people who are on the verge of being homeless, and people who are deathly sick. They all look to my companion and me for hope and for help. They are searching for God, but do not know how to find Him. It’s quite scary to have so many people looking to me for answers. I am a 19 year old nobody who has lived an incredibly sheltered and blessed life. However, as I sit in their homes (on the verge of tears and panic, because I don’t know what to do) I am always reminded of Mom and Dad. I remember you two and your charitable examples. I remember the way that you comfort and love our neighbors and family. You taught me how to love and serve others, and I am so grateful for that. The Lord has prepared me to help these people by blessing me with wonderful parents. I love you both. You are the ones who are really serving the people in New Jersey.
I love you all. Be jersey strong.
P.S. Sister Taylor and I set a vision for this transfer: to be consecrated Preach My Gospel missionaries. This week, my vanity was put on the alter of sacrifice… Jersey’s humidity has turned me into a sweaty, frizzy-haired sister missionary, and I love it. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.
Picture 1: As we were driving home from 4th of July lunch at a member’s house, we drove over the cutest bridge! We stopped to take a picture, because the countryside is so beautiful.
Picture 2: Sister ——- and I eating ice cream. So much happiness in one picture. Yum.