Monday, January 26, 2015

A Change in the Weather

Well... Saturday night transfer calls came, and just as we predicted, I'm leaving the nest. This little pichon has got to spread her wings and fly. Packing was just as awful as I predicted it would be. Not as bad as the news that came Sunday when President Johnson called us to tell us about our new leadership positions. Hermana Landa will be training the new Spanish sister, and I'll be heading to either Pittsburgh or Gettysburg to be an STL. 
(For those of you who are unfamiliar with that term, it stands for Sister Training Leader. So... It's kind of like a Zone Leader? but for sister missionaries. If that still doesn't make sense... it's just... really nerve wracking.) 
President Johnson's comforting words to me were, "You'll be one of the youngest members in our mission leadership meetings. But you shouldn't be afraid to speak up and share your thoughts. Your input is important." 
So now I'm feeling even more nervous, haha. 

It will be good, though... 
Just... crazy. 

I have been so touched by everyone's love to me this week as I've said goodbye to all the people here in Lebanon that I've come to love. I love the people in this ward. They have blessed my life in countless ways. Sacrament meeting yesterday was such a powerful experience for me. As I sat in our little pew, I started saying a silent prayer of gratitude in my heart for each member. I just looked around the chapel and thought about all of the pleasant memories I have had with each member or each family and I was filled with so much gratitude. I have seriously LOVED serving here in Lebanon. It has been one of the greatest blessings for me. 

I love Hermana Landa. She has been an incredible strength to me through these past 12 weeks, and I am grateful for her example to me of strength. We were with our Sister Training Leaders the other day and they asked us to give compliments to one another and I was sitting there, trying to think of some way to describe Sister Landa in a way that these STL's could really understand just how amazing she is and I think I found the perfect descriptions
"Hermana Landa has the faith to move mountains, and the wisdom to know where to put them."
She is such an example of Christ to me and I am going to miss her dearly as my companion. She is so strong. Everything is changing. Our ward is getting a new bishopric, our Zone Leaders were both transferred out within the last 3 weeks, our District Leader is being moved this transfer, and I'm leaving too, along with half of the people in our zone that are going to new areas. But she just faces everything with such strength and determination. She is incredible. I know that we will always be friends, though I don't think I'll ever quite understand how I came to deserve a friend like her. She is going to be a killer trainer and probably the best missionary in this world.

As for me... although I still feel some nerves, I know that I am ready for this new calling and this new area. The Lord has prepared me and He will strengthen me. I am so grateful for the knowledge that He is in charge of the work, because He truly does see all and He knows best. Sometimes I get a little nervous and scared and sad. But I am trying to put all of my faith in His perfect hands. He will change me into the person He wants me to be. So I am thankful for this opportunity to grow. :) 

The work here is going so well. I will miss it.  We picked up a few promising investigators this week. I am excited that the new Hermana will have the chance to help them on their journeys. 
One sweet little lady that we've been teaching is a real live angel, I think. Her name is Alba and she is the nicest person I have probably ever met. She opens the door when we knock and just smiles and says, "Muy bien. Adelante." ("Very good. Come in.") And she just smiles so big to see us. She doesn't waste time to chat. She wants to get right down into the good stuff - the scriptures. She always relates everything we teach back to Christ's life and the miracles He performed and the work He did. And when she found out that we usually eat dinner with the members, she insisted that we come over to her house some time and told us that if we didn't have an evening open, to come for lunch. Who does that!? Alba does. 
She came to church on Sunday for the first time and it was such a miracle... She doesn't speak a lot of English and so the members in the ward who speak Spanish really reached out to her and it was wonderful to see. They translated for her and helped her feel at home. She said that she loved it and can't wait to come back. 

We had an awesome Sunday - one of the best we've had in this area - with 3 investigators at Sacrament meeting and 9 less actives at church. Two of those less actives are now reactivated!! To me, that's just as important as any baptism. These members have already entered into the covenant of baptism, but aren't fully keeping that covenant. They need JUST as much help and support as any person who doesn't know the gospel. To see them coming back to church and loving it, and feeling love from other members... That means so much to me! Because I remember when I was in their shoes, and I remember how, through the consistent and loving outreach of several leaders (my home teachers, my young womens leaders, and especially my bishop) I was able to feel loved at church and to really feel like I belonged. It changed my whole perspective!  

I am so grateful for those members who never gave up on me, even when I was struggling. It has strengthened my testimony that you can never give up on anyone! Even if it seems hopeless. I am so grateful for members all over the world who have true charity for those whom they are trying to help. In Relief society yesterday, we were discussing Elder Oaks' talk: "Loving Others and Living with Differences". I would encourage all of you to listen to that one! It's so good! When we have the love for others that it takes to help them come to church... when we truly love them the way that Christ loves them... THEN miracles happen. We are commanded to love one another! And when we keep His commandments, the Lord blesses us. Plain and simple. 
So love each other!! :) 

I love you guys! 
Please keep me in your prayers these next few weeks. I will need all the added strength I can get! ;)

Going forward with faith, 
Hermana Bills

Monday, January 19, 2015


Shoutout to MLK for being such a rad person back in the day!! I'm happy that you were born, man!  

Well howdy everyone! I hope that your new year is going wonderfully! I hope that you still have your resolutions at the forefront of your mind and that you're working at them as diligently as you intended to on December 31 ;) 

This past Tuesday we were able to have interviews with the mission president. I love sitting down to speak with President Johnson. I am so grateful for his leadership and love. It looks as though this will be my final week here in Lebanon. That's just a wild guess though. I'm trying not to read too far into President Johnson's subtle question: "So, Sister Bills. Are you ready to leave Lebanon?" 
He is the master of subtlety, my friends. 
The master. 

I've been having mixed feelings about the idea of leaving. Here are my thoughts:
"I hate packing."
"I hate packing!"
"I hate packing."
"I really like the people here. How am I supposed to say goodbye?" 
"I finally know my way around this place. I'm gonna be so lost in a new area!" 
"What if my new companion and I don't get along?"
"I've never been transferred before. I don't know if I'm ready to leave my first area."
"It could be fun..."
"I'll probably really like my new ward"
"Maybe they'll have a baptism lined up for the week I get there..."
"I should probably just do what the Lord wants."
"I wish I could just stop stressing about it"

So that's how I'm feeling this week.

I don't have a lot else to report on. We got really sick this week. There's been a nasty nasty flu making it's way around Lebanon, and we managed to be some of the lucky ones to contract it. Seems like it's hit almost everyone we know at this point.
Hermana Landa was puking on Tuesday so we stayed in. She was still sick all Wednesday so we stayed in. It was a boring day, because I was completely healthy. I studied the scriptures a lot and did some jumping jacks and tried to remember how to do simple algebra. College should be interesting.
Thursday... woke up sick. So we stayed in. Friday, I was even worse, so we stayed in. That gave Hermana Landa ample time to recover. 
Saturday it was back to business. We had a zone training in Harrisburg, so we didn't really have an option as to whether or not we felt bad. We just kind of had to be better again. ;) No, I'm kidding. We were so done with being cooped up in the apartment. It was really sweet though, the members and the elders in our ward really reached out to us and took care of us. They brought us food and came to give us blessings and brought us medicine and really just nursed us back to health. I love being a member of this church.

Zone training was awesome. We learned about the different ways people learn from a guest speaker from a different ward in our stake. He was really knowledgeable and funny. It was a very interesting training. 

When we got back from Harrisburg, we went over to one of our less active families homes for a lesson with Nate - our investigator. 
So little refresher on Nate. He's wanted to get baptized for a while. He likes the church and everything. But in HIS mind, he was thinking that "maybe 5-10 years" before he would set a baptismal date. So we haven't been pushing the baptismal thing. But recently, his Fiancee (the less active member who just had a baby but didn't know she was pregnant... ps I love her so much she's the funniest person ever) got really sick. She was suffering from a lot of pain and a really high fever, and she received a priesthood blessing, which he was present to witness. They testified that the spirit was so strong and then Nate shared with us that he knows that the priesthood is real. He knows that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true. He knows that Thomas S. Monson is God's prophet on the earth today. And he wants to be baptized this May. 
Needless to say, Hermana Landa and I burst into tears and couldn't compose ourselves for a while. It was the greatest miracle ever. 

I've been thinking a lot lately (because of Nate and others) about Christ's hands. There were many things that our Savior did with His hands. He healed, he lifted, he encouraged, he rebuked, he loved... But the image I love most of the Savior is of Him with His hands outstretched... because He never stops reaching for us. In the Church today, we are Christ's hands. He sends us to heal and to lift and to love. He sends us to His children to be His example, and He expects us to constantly be reaching out to those around us. I am so grateful for those people in my life who constantly had their hands stretched out for me, because they are the reason that I am who I am today. I am grateful for my home teachers and my young women's leaders who never gave up on me, even as I was struggling with my testimony. I am grateful for my wonderful and faithful friends who have constantly supported me - before and during the mission. I am thankful for supportive family for lending their help to me constantly. I am thankful for the countless prayers that have been offered on my behalf and in behalf of other missionaries around the world.
I am so grateful.
I am especially grateful for the Savior, who loved each of us enough to suffer and die for us; and I am grateful that He lives again. I am grateful for the gift of repentance. I am grateful that I can be washed clean weekly through the renewal of my baptismal covenants. I am grateful to be a part in watching others come unto the Savior. 
I love this gospel. 

Go share the love with someone you know this week!! 

I'll let you all know next Monday if I'm getting transferred for sure!! 

Talk to you soon! 

-Hermana Bills

Monday, January 12, 2015

O Ye that Embark!

Has everyone heard the 2015 new youth song, Embark? 

You've got to check it out. 

I am so pumped this week! The adversary has been working so hard on us and that means that we're doing good and that better things are coming. He thinks he's so strong! But he's not. That's the secret! He tries to intimidate you and make you think that's he's all that but he is nothing compared to our Savior Jesus Christ.

I just need to take a minute and glory in God. He is so good. 

So many incredible miracles happened this week. We picked up two new investigators. 
Heather - She is the sister of a recent convert. We met with them for a dinner appointment. She is a hoot. She tells the best stories. She works at like an old person home and so she has the funniest experiences. Dinner was a blast. Then we were trying to figure out what to say, because we know her sister wants her to take the lessons... but she's really involved in her church. So we were really nervous. I was praying so hard! The spirit said, "open your mouth and it will be filled."
So I did! 
At first, it felt a little like word vomit. But, because the spirit was there, her heart was touched, and she agreed to take the lessons.  It was awesome! 
Alba - She's the cutest person ever. She was a media referral and she is STOKED to be learning about the gospel. She's probably one of the only people I've ever met who will actually keep her commitments. Because she's so awesome, we picked her up on Wednesday and then were able to teach her on Saturday again. She's agreed to be baptized! 

Wednesday, we were out trying to find people and we were just seeing so many miracles. We just finished an awesome lesson with Alba and were ready to head home to wrap up the night and plan for the next day. But we got this feeling to go to Matt and Samantha's house - they're our investigators that have been struggling lately. We swung by, and we were in the middle of sharing a scripture of how the Lord uses our faith to bring to pass miracles... and in walks RYAN.
Anyone remember Ryan?
He's the one from forever ago that we shared a "He is the Gift" card with. We were gonna try to talk to the family, but instead we said hi to him and he was interested in hearing more? 
But we never got his number! 
It was so frustrating because the spirit had been so clear to us that he had been prepared, but we hadn't seen him for a couple weeks. We didn't know how we were ever supposed to find him.
And all the sudden he just comes waltzing into Matt and Samantha's house. 
We didn't even know that they knew each other! 
It was insane! We were able to see him, give him our number, and talk with him a little bit. It was so good! 
We didn't have to be at Matt and Samantha's house. 
Ryan didn't have to come over to get his videogame right at that moment.
But the Lord put us both in the right place at the right time. This is His work. I know that. 

More good news! We don't have bedbugs. The previous scare was just that... a scare! We had an exterminator named Ernie come in and check the apartment. No visible signs of bedbugs. So that was awesome! Also, we were able to teach Ernie some Spanish while he was checking the house, and he asked us questions about the Book of Mormon. Future investigator??? ;) 

Also! This week I was gifted my very own Jehovah's Witness bible. 
Side job? :) 

Quote of the week: "So... what are you girls... like... nuns in training?"

Also, a giant pitbull ripped the zipper off of my bag. Who knew that getting attacked by dogs was an actual thing that actually happened on missions? So cool. 

Also, you know those crazy stories about people who are pregnant and don't know they are until they actually HAVE the baby? I never even understood how that could happen... but that happened to someone in our ward and we just found out about it this week! It was crazy! She's actually the fiancee of one of our investigators. 
Now we're super nervous to teach the law of chastity...

We had a cool mission farewell on Sunday for Kyle. He'll go into the MTC on Wednesday. He's coming to the Provo MTC so yinz give him a warm welcome for me. He gave such an awesome talk. He'll be a great missionary. It made me remember giving my farewell talk and all the feelings that I had when I was just preparing to come out... I am so grateful to be serving a mission. Even through all the hard times and the things that go wrong... like your investigators not being able to be baptized because they're not willing to commit to pay tithing, or when the moisture coming out of the sky isn't snow or rain... it's ice... despite all of  that... this work is worth it an it will always be worth it. It is our calling as members of Christ's church to share the gospel, and I am so happy to be able to do it full time. 

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, I'll never, no never,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!

-Hermana Bills

Monday, January 5, 2015

Ring Out, Wild Bells!

Okay funniest story. (It goes with the title... Ps, I can't stand that hymn. I'm sorry. I feel like a blasphemous missionary for saying that, but I just... *shiver. No bueno).
So over Christmas we were singing to some old people, right? Well we were in this home where there were a TON of really super sick people and we were singing to them. And then we were like... done with all the Christmas songs and Elder Birrel (one of our zone leaders) is like, "let's sing 215!" 
well A- none of us knew the song, so it was already a train wreck.
But do you guys know the words of that song? The first verse is all like, "ring out wild bells and let him die."
I mean, I know it was talking about the old year and it's welcoming the new year and whatever but... Seriously! I felt like we were singing about some of the older gentlemen in the room. It was awful. My face was bright red. But we sang it yesterday at church and Hermana Landa and I couldn't stop laughing. 
Something for y'all to laugh about this week. 

We had a great week and an awesome New Years! We are so blessed. We were able to spend New Years with the elders and a less active member which was awesome. We had traditional bulgarian food (anyone remember the story of little stephanie?) and I tried tres leches for the first time! We spent the night telling stories, burning things, and playing pass the pigs, and laughing until our sides hurt and there were tears streaming down our faces. We had to be in by 9:00, though. So we went back to the apartment and went to bed. But since we're party animals, we set and alarm and woke up around 11:54 to do martinelli's shots and tell each other "feliz ano nuevo". We returned to our pleasant slumber at 12:01. It was pretty crazy. #missionlyfe

This week we received so many blessings. We have been working very closely with a lot of the amazing less active members in our ward. Some of them, for a long time, seemed like a lost cause. But studying the scriptures, we know that the Savior never gives up on us, and so we can never give up on others. This week, because of a mixture of things (more boldness, exact obedience, mostly the Lord's guiding hand) we have reached new milestones with some of these less actives that we thought might never progress. 

We had the incredible blessing of teaching a less active/part member family this week and we were talking about new years resolutions and what we can change... and then we started talking about good places to eat, and they volunteered to take us out to a restaurant today! We're so excited to go with them. We had thought, at first, that maybe they didn't like us! But this will be an awesome opportunity to get to know them better. 
Another less active got up yesterday to bear his testimony and told the congregation that he was sorry for his absence and that he wouldn't be making excuses anymore, just coming to church! It was such a shock! We got a little embarrassed when he started talking about us... we never know how to react when members say nice things about us. Hermana Landa and I are both so socially awkward so it's always a pleasant experience...
Not all the less actives are doing well, though. We had a lesson this week with the Hernandez family and it went so well! The spirit was incredibly strong and they all committed to waking up and coming to church on Sunday. They even gave us a phone number that we could call Sunday morning at 7 to wake them up. Everything was looking up! Then sunday morning came... they weren't answering. We called at 7. we called at 7:30. We called at 8. We called tons of times! Finally, I just said, "this isn't happening." So we literally drove to their house and knocked on their door for like ten minutes. Nothing.  So they ended up not making it to church this week, and we were so sad for them! We want to get them to the temple so much. We want to help Brother Hernandez with his goal of baptizing his youngest son when he turns 8. "What more could I have done for my vineyard..."
So sometimes things are rough.

Another trial that we went through this week was not being able to do a lot of missionary work because we were cooped up in our house, quarantined from the bedbugs. Correction: Bedbug. There was only one. I mean, an exterminator will be coming Tuesday to make sure we don't have a secret infestation... but honestly our apartment could not be more spotless than it is now. It's like the temple. Or the CK. It helps when you have a companion that used to be a janitor. 
In other news, we're finishing up with teaching Joe all of the lessons this week so that he can have his baptismal interview this weekend! He'll be getting baptized in just 12 short days! He's such a miracle. He loves coming to church and has even started participating in class. Reading from the book and commenting on things. He's so awesome. 

In my studies lately I've loved reading about how we receive equal and opposite blessings for all of the trials that we go through. It means a lot to me right now as I've been struggling with some silly homesickness and lack of motivation. I know that if I can just push past these feelings and think of others rather than myself, that the Lord truly will bless me with all that I need to do His work. He loves us and wants us to be happy. Whatever we face, we are His children. He loves us and He will never leave us. I am so grateful for His love. I am so grateful for His grace. I am so grateful for the awareness of my own shortcomings, because it allows me to rely on Him and to be humbled to see His guiding hand in my life. 
Pretty Pennsylvania

I love the Lord and I'm so grateful for His gospel! He blesses me so much.

I love all of you! Thank you for your support.  

I hope you all have a wonderful week! 

love, Hermana Bills 

Sister Mellow loved the hat!

Hermana Landa - the artist

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Merry Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all you wonderful people who mean so much to me. I hope this season of Christmas and change bring smiles to your hearts and faces and new resolutions to be more like our Savior Jesus Christ! 

He lives! 

This week has been so incredibly wonderful. I am very blessed to be serving in Lebanon, in the Hershey district, in the Harrisburg zone. I love my people. I love the work. I loved Christmas. 
We had the opportunity this past week to go caroling in several different locations. It was such a blessing.

Monday we drove down to Harrisburg and had pday as a zone. It was so fun! We played sports and stuff and some elders even taught us how to play poker... yes. #missionlife 
I'm not good at all.
When pday was over we went to the Ronald McDonald home and caroled with some of the other missionaries in the zone. It started out as a district thing but then others decided to join it. It was an unforgettable evening for me. There were these two angel little girls there. One was dealing with lukemia for the second time and the other had a super rare form of cancer that had just been diagnosed super recently. It was so precious to me to see their faces light up as we sung. We asked them if they had any requests and Ariel walks up to me and whispers in my ear, "Can you guys sing do you want to build a snowman?" 
And I was just like...
Yes. My whole college career has prepared me for this.
So I lead the zone in singing that. It was awful. We were laughing so hard but it made the little girls laugh. They asked us to sing Let it Go next. That one went a little bit better... but not much. By the end, they just asked us to stop singing. 
When we finished singing, I just walked over to Kira's parents (the little girl who has lukemia) to tell them how strong they are and how mindful the Lord is of them. I just wanted to let them know that someone loved and admired them. They reminded me so much of Steve and Steph and Rex... So I walked over to talk to them and the whole zone ended up following. So we stayed for an extra 45 minutes, just talking to the girls and their families. Elder George did card tricks and sweet Sister Ludwig gave Kira her heart necklace. It was such a special night. 

The next day was wonderful as well. We had a zone training on being exactly obedient. That's our goal as a zone, working towards fixing the things we're struggling with so that we can be exactly obedient. We have one of the smaller zones in the mission, but our numbers are just as big as the others because we have so many incredible missionaries who are constantly striving to be obedient and do the Lord's work His way. I am so blessed to serve around these people! We are going to receive so many miracles as we strive to follow the Lord more exactly! It's so exciting! 
After the training, we went caroling again. It was amazing to see people's eyes light up and how grateful we were. There was one lady who was especially touched by our singing. She cried and told us, "You made my year!" It was so sweet. 
Something AWESOME that happened was during dinner, we were playing basketball (and by we I mean almost all of the elders in the zone and I were playing because none of the other sisters wanted to play...) and we were doing a half court shot and I was like, "I'm never going to even get close to making this" But I took my first shot and totally drained it and got the elder in front of me out...
and the crowd went wild! 
It was my susperstar moment of the week. 

Christmas eve was awesome. We had two dinners. At the first one, some kind soul gave me a "My other ride is a Tardis" magnet for our car. Then we had a puertorican Christmas and sang spanish christmas songs and played the tambourine and maracas. It was so fun. Then, Hermana Landa and I set our mattresses under the Christmas tree and had a sleepover. 
Then it was Christmas! Our mission president's gift to us was letting us sleep in for Christmas so we got a whole extra hour of sleep! It was great. The hard thing was that we were only supposed to skype our families that day for 30-60 minutes and then those with divorced parents (like me) could skype both families for 30-60 minutes. 
Well, I realized that I was going to be the only missionary that was skyping for two hours, and I knew how the other missionaries felt... it wasn't really fair. So I came up with this plan that to be obedient and help them be obedient, I was just going to skype 30 minutes with both of my families. But I was still pretty sad about that and so I prayed that somehow something would work out. 
We got to the house of the member that we'd be skyping from and got everything set up. It was looking bleak. I knew I'd have to have quick conversations. I started talking with my mom, and almost RIGHT AFTER I told my mom that I only had 30 minutes, elder George came in and said that President had called and we just needed to be reasonable with our time! 
It was such a blessing! 

I was feeling a little bit homesick after the calls but it was so wonderful to be able to speak with my family. 
Getting back to missionary work was what helped me to be able to stop feeling so homesick. 

Joe is doing well. He knows the Book of Mormon is true! 
Our investigator Yolanda knows that priesthood is necessary in ordinances and wants to be baptized. Her grandson is also turning 8 this week! So maybe we can teach him.
We visited Sister Mellow and her caretaker Lorraine. I dressed up like Rudolph and Hermana Landa was Santa. We caroled for them and made them laugh. 
We also brought a slough of pictures of Christmas lights to Sister Bord, since she said the #1 thing she misses about not being able to leave the house is seeing all the Christmas lights. She loved it! She was so happy. 
We have some awesome potential investigators that we will be seeing this week! There are so many miracles happening in our area.

The only setback is that we had a bedbug scare yesterday! (Thus the title of this email). So we're on quarantine to see what happens... We'll be doing a lot of cleaning!! Prayers that the bedbugs will leave would be appreciated! 

I feel like I have so much to say this week, but I'm out of time! I love you guys so much! I have been working on finalizing my new years resolutions. Someone gave an excellent talk in church yesterday about picking 1 or 2 resolutions instead of a bunch, so I've been narrowing my goals down. I'm excited about the New year! I hope you're all working on your goals as well!! 

Thank you for all your prayers and support. 

Happy New Year this Wednesday! 
And happy 6 months to me on Friday


Hermana Bills 

Merry Christmas to All!!

First, Congratulations to my best friend Ricky on getting engaged, to my incredible friends Ryan and Tara for getting married, to Celeste for getting engaged and to my best friend in the world - Jesus - for being born. 

Merry Christmas this week, to everyone. It's going to be a crazy week! I'm so excited to Skype home this week. It's been a long almost 6 months. But also short in so many ways.

We have had so much work this last week. Something that Hermana Landa and I have struggled a lot with is being bold. We're both so new to the mission that boldness is really scary, and so our teachings really haven't been all that effective. But this last week we had an incredible district meeting and we were feeling really determined to change some people's lives. Because we were willing to step up our game and be bold but loving, the Lord was able to bless us so much! 

Here are some highlights:

The Hernandez Family: We were able to teach the Hernandez family this week. They've been less active since I got to Lebanon and we didn't really know how to help them. Then Hermana Landa came and she's been able to relate to them so well! It was awesome. This last week we got in with them and we helped them to set a goal to get to the temple to be sealed as kind of a "bigger picture" type thing. We also committed them to read the Book of Mormon as a family each night. It came out that Brother Hernandez has a desire to get active so that he is worthy to baptize his son when he turns 8. That will be an awesome motivator for them! The ward was so excited to hear about their progress.

Elizabeth: Elizabeth has been in the past somewhat of what missionaries describe as "an eternal investigator". She has a really hard time with a specific commitment and hasn't been able to fully live it yet. She's such a cute lady and we love her. But, as missionaries, we really haven't been as effective as we should have been at inviting her to come unto Christ. Regardless of someone's history, they can alwayschange. So we were able to set her with a baptismal date this week and it was awesome! 

We also picked up two new investigators, Arnaldo (who is our awesome miracle investigator who found that random pass along card and wanted to come to church) and Xiomara (who is the mother of one of our recent converts and the daughter of another one of our investigators). 

We were also able to help Joe bump up his baptismal date. He'll be getting baptized now in January, rather than February. He's so excited. 

We had so many people come to church on Sunday. I was also able to see my old investigator Hector! He disappeared for a long time. Someone told us that he had been in jail or something. My heart was just broken. But it turns out he wasn't in jail! He was in the hospital.  He'd had a stroke and was in for about 15 days. He's living outside of our area now, so we can't visit him and that's a major bummer. But I was so happy to see him. It made my whole day. He's not doing too hot, but he was happy to come to church again.

This week, we were also able to go caroling at a hospital here in Lebanon. It was such a blessing in my life to do that. So many people were smiling and so grateful. It was such a tender experience. We had this cute old lady that just followed us around the hospital on her walker and would try to sing the hymns with us and then when we were done she'd cry, "Glory be to God!" It was so incredible. People are so cool.

This week has been awesome. Hard. But awesome. I love the Savior so much and I'm so grateful for this Christmas season where my thoughts are able to be turned to Him more powerfully. I am so grateful to be a missionary. I am so grateful for my incredible ward here who has been so kind and generous and reached out to us, inviting us into their homes, giving us gifts, helping us find people to teach, helping us teach those people. I'm so grateful for my family and friends who have been an incredible support to me. I am so grateful for all of you wonderful people who keep me and the other missionaries in this world in your hearts and in your prayers. You are wonderful.

I pray that you are all able to focus your thoughts on the Savior this Thursday as we celebrate the gift that he is in each of our lives. 

I wrote a poem this week. I just want to end this email with it. 

When Christmas comes again to town
When lights are lit and snow falls down
When children play and parents grin
and visit neighbors, friends and kin
With all the joy that Christmas brings
The songs and toys and treats and things
Somewhere behind the pretty lights
The Christmas trees, the smells, the sights
Somewhere beyond the mistletoe
Some time so very long ago
There's something greater we must see
A child was born - for you and me.
I was not there that Christmas night
When to the world came life and light
I did not hear the angels sing
Their praises to the Heavenly King
What was it like for those who saw
The Christ child on His bed of straw?
What was it like to stand and hear
The angels tides of peace and cheer?
I wonder how the wise men felt
When they before the Savior knelt
I was not there, how can I know? 
I did not see the star aglow
I did not see the night as day
I was not there to watch and pray
I did not see His holy face 
I was not in that sacred place
But still I know my Savior lives
I relish in the gift He gives
Salvation - free to all mankind
Life to the dead, sight to the blind
I know Christ lives and He lives still
Although He died upon the hill
He rose again. Because of Him
(Although at times the way looks grim)
If we to Him our hearts will turn 
He'll teach us truth. we'll grow, we'll learn
Because the Christ child came that night
Our darkest days are filled with light
And like the angels we can sing
Hosanna to our Heavenly King.

Merry Christmas, everyone. 

/Hermana Bills

Bills&Landa Round 2

Happy Birthday this week to my favorite Teach in the whole wide world, from Stu. I can't tell you how awesome you are and how much I appreciate everything that you've taught me! I learned so much about photography and about brew and about so many things from you! Thank you for always being patient and laughing at my jokes. I hope you have the best birthday ever!! :) 

Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who has sent me gifts and packages and letters and love. I appreciate it so much! I'm going to be honest with everyone right now and just admit that I have been struggling a little bit this week. I don't like to admit that, because I just want all of you to think I'm superhuman and mega happy all the time!  But really, that's not how it works. Even missionaries have hard days, and you people make it so much easier to have hard days because I have just had a rainstorm of love showing up at my apartment doorstep almost every day this week. I adore you folks. I wish there was something, anything, I could do in return for all the kindness that you have given me. I adore each and every one of you. 

This week was the last week of the transfer. We didn't get transfer calls, so it looks like we'll be staying together! Yay! We are so happy. We're learning and growing so much every single day. Our district is also staying the same! We're excited. You kind of feel like your district is your family, and that would be so hard if you had to get split up right before Christmas. But luckily we all get to stay together. 
We are getting excited to Skype home for Christmas! I will be crying, that's for sure. We get to go to the Henson's house for breakfast and she said we are welcome to stay and skype there. She's such an awesome lady. I love our ward. 

We had an incredible week this week, we were so busy. We broke the record again for the number of lessons we taught in one week for our area. We've been working so hard! We're also running low on miles, now... 
So I don't know how many of you are aware, but missionaries have a certain number of miles allotted to them that they're allowed to drive each month. For our area, we receive 800 miles a month, which is usually enough to do what we need to do if we're just working around the Lebanon area. But if we head out to the farm towns surrounding Lebanon, it's a little bit more tricky and we have to guard our miles a little more carefully. So we're working on being conservative. It might just end up that we'll be walking everywhere by Christmas time. :) Happy Holidays to us! Brrr! :) 

I had a very humbling experience this week that was awesome! There is this less active recent convert family in our area that we've been trying to work with but they're really hard to get in and see. The last time we were over there before this week, their son told us that he liked the last missionaries better and that he wished we wouldn't come over anymore. It was a little bit hard to hear. But we were able to get in with them early this week, and the dad came down, which doesn't usually happen. So we were talking with him for a while and he really connected with Hermana Landa's story. She talked about how sometimes we're not fully converted to the Lord the way we should be. Then she told her dad's conversion story. It was so powerful.
I have a testimony that we are placed into specific areas to find certain people that the Lord knows we can help. I know that. It was so humbling for me to stand there with my companion and hear her speak and have the Lord whisper to me, "Don't say anything. She's here to help this family." And knowing that if were to open my mouth and speak at that point, it would only detract from the incredible spirit that Hermana Landa was bringing to the room. It was... awesome. So cool. 

Another miracle that we had was when we went to teach Joe. We seriously just want to bumb his baptism date up so bad. He's come to church every week since we started teaching him, he's pretty much a member already just minus the baptism and holy ghost and stuff... But we were asking him how coming to church was feeling and what he was liking in the scriptures and he told us this incredible miracle about how him getting closer to the Spirit and feeling closer to the Lord was literally healing him - mentally and physically. He could feel himself stronger as he prayed daily and lived the word of wisdom. He could feel his mind more open and thinking in "straighter lines" from studying the scriptures and having gospel conversations with others. 
I mean...
that doesn't just happen every day, right? That's crazy! We said the biggest prayer of gratitude afterward. 

Unfortunately, Matt has been struggling this week. He's kind of on the losing end of a custody battle. It's breaking my heart. The lesson was so quiet when we went over. He kind of vented and I could tell he was so angry and hurt. The spirit really had to take over. I knew that I didn't have the words to say, but I knew that if I opened my mouth, the Lord would fill it with the words that He wanted to say. It was an incredible experience. All I can remember is feeling the spirit and feeling love and concern for Matt and Samantha. I don't remember what was said. All I can remember is that we promised him that if he would study the scriptures with real intent, he would find what the Lord wants him to learn from this experience. It was so powerful! 

I don't really have any super funny stories from this week. I am just overwhelmed by the amount of love that I've received from all of you. Thank you so much for your support!! :) Keep firm in the faith, the gospel is true! 

10 days till Christmas! 

-Hermana Bills


Hey! So maybe you guys have heard about He is the Gift! It's the new initiative that the church is doing to help people remember the true meaning of Christmas! It's awesome! In this month's edition of the Ensign, everyone should have gotten 9 pass along cards to give to people.
Will you all pass out those 9 cards to someone who needs to see the video? PLEASE??? People need this! I've already seen the love of Jesus Christ touch people's hearts through just sharing these cards. 

We had a particularly awesome experience this week working with this initiative. We were out on the chilly, rainy streets of Lebanon one afternoon, looking for opportunities to OYM and pass out our 10 cards for the day. We were walking along 8th street, on the right side of the street. I look across the way and see this family walking and I say to Hermana Landa, "Let's cross the street." So we cross over. I notice that there's this guy walking about 10 steps in front of the family and I whisper to Hermana Landa, "I think they're too close to talk with them both. Go for the family." So as we pass the guy I wave and say hello to him, just to be friendly. I get ready to OYM the little family and then the guy calls out to us, "Wait, did you say hi to me?" And I can't just ignore the fellow, so we turn around and I smile and say, "Yeah! Of course!"
My heart broke when he just looked so shocked. "Why would you say hi to me?"
"Because you're awesome!" I answered. 
Then he saw the cards in our hands and asked us what we were handing out. We took a minute to explain the initiative to him and he looked touched. We asked him his name. He said it was Ryan. We gave him our number and left him with the commitment to watch the video and to call us to learn more. It was so touching to see the love of God touch his heart in such a simple way. 
Our Savior was born in a stable and laid in a manger. There is nothing more simple than that. He lived a simple life. And so it would make sense that to share His love, we do it by simple means! He doesn't ask us to always do huge, extravagant things. He asks us to share His love simply. 
I love that. :) 

I just love being a missionary at Christmas time, that's all. It's seriously the best time to be a missionary. This week we got to have Zone Conference, which was awesome! It was like an 11 hour ordeal, though. kind of exhausting. But I learned how to put air in car tires this week so that was a cool thing to learn! We get our cars inspected every Zone Conference and our tire pressure light was one, so the elders came and taught us how to do that. I'm learning so much! 
Our Zone is also awesome. During lunch hour at zone conference, we had an ugly sweater competition and a white elephant. We were laughing so hard. I love the people that I serve with. 
We also got to watch the mission video. Did I mention that I'm serving in the best mission in the whole world? Cause I totally am.

Along with the Christmas spirit, we had our ward Christmas party this week. It was excellent. The primary children did a nativity play. So hilarious. I love the little children. SANTA EVEN CAME! I was mindblown. I seriously got so excited. Then the elders made fun of me. #whatever
It was great, though. Three of our investigators were able to make it, which was such a blessing. The ward fellowshipped them so well! There was so much love in that room. We also had some less actives show up that we've never even met before! So that was awesome. We should be visiting them this week. I'm excited! 

The best thing has been the outreach of love from some of our investigators. We had three of them tell us this week how appreciative they are that we were able to find them. I always do my best to remind them that it's the spirit that is in charge, and that Christ is the one who leads us places. They readily acknowledge the hand of Christ but correct me by saying, "Yes but he sent us you as his angels."
They call us their angels
It's the sweetest thing. 
People are so cool.

But people are also willing to point out your flaws! Especially when you're a missionary. Sometimes I think that people have this image of missionaries in their heads... like we're supposed to be these perfect robots or something that just preach about Jesus and nothing bad ever happens to us. But that's not true! and some people really get that.
Like a Sister in my ward... Hahaha at our Christmas party, she walked up to me and just puts her pointer finger on my left cheek. (She's from Cambodia, so she's a little different. I adore her, though. I adore her lack of personal space. She cracks me up every single day.) Anyway she touches my left cheek and goes, "Oh, you have a pimple?" With the saddest look on her face. Like she was devastated about my misfortune. Like I had leprosy or something. Hahaha it was so funny. I just go, "yup! I think the Lord uses them to keep me humble." and she laughed and walked away. 
But seriously, if you ever feel sad about people pointing out your flaws, just remember that it happens to all of us. And sometimes theyliterally point them out! hahaha, You are not alone! 

We had a little miracle this week! We were driving down the road to annville to meet up with the elders one day to turn in some information to the zone leaders about our ward. We get this call from a random number and it's this guy named Arnaldo! He's awesome! He tells us that he found a card in his house with our number on it, and that he wants to come to church. WHAT!? So we give him the address. A couple days later, we hear back from him. He tried to find the church house to be ready for Sunday. He couldn't find it. So I give him directions. He says thank you. Then he calls us  again on Sunday morning and says he still can't find it and asks if we could have someone drive in front of him and show him the way.
WHO DOES THAT? Arnaldo! He's so cool! 
So he came to church on Sunday! he loved it! And it turns out, he works with a member in our ward.

Well, I'm just about out of time. I just want to end with a funny story that happened this week (I know this email is all over the place. whatever... haha)
I really want you guys to get the imagery of this scene I'm about to paint for you. Really work with me to imagine this.
We have a mouse problem. The mice like to eat our wonder bread and then poop in the bottom of our bag to mock us. It's so rude. 
So one Monday we were shopping at our local Walmart and we decided to purchase some mouse traps to help with the mouse problem. Unfortunately, they were out of the typical traps. Not really thinking things through, I bought some of the sticky traps.
Let me reiterate. I was not thinking things through.
I set them up at home in places where we had seen the mice, but they evaded my traps for about a week. I had all but given up on the idea that I was ever going to be able to stop them. Until one morning when I hear Hermana Landa screech from the kitchen. She comes into the bedroom, yelling at me, as mad as I've ever seen her. Actually, I've never seen her mad except this moment. She was angry. She tells me to take care of it. Somehow, I thought that the mouse would be dead. Nope. It wasn't! So I just sit there in horror, staring at the poor thing struggling to get loose. The scene is so morbid and Hermana Landa is yelling at me to take care of it and the stress of the whole situation was just too much. So I lock myself in the bathroom and cry. 
Like a baby.
For like a good 7 minutes.
Just bawling. 
Hermana Landa starts feeling bad for yelling at me. she goes to read the instructions on the trap and tells me that if we use vegetable oil, we might be able to get him off. I grab some oil and some q-tips and, still blubbering, sit down in the back doorway and tenderly swab the little mouse until he breaks free from the sticky trap. 
He pops up off of the trap and turns around to face me. We have an epic stare down for what feels like an eternity. He seems to be saying, "why? How could you do this to me" His little paws are folded together. He looks so sad. I start apologizing to him.
To a mouse.
literally was crying and apologizing to a mouse. 
Then he scampered off.
I left a peace offering in the basket on the floor. It looks like he came back, so we must be on good terms... 

The mission changes you, man. 

-Hermana Bills