Monday, March 30, 2015

WOAAAAH I'm Halfway there. WOOOAAHHH Livin on a prayer

Holy Moses. 
Here it is.

Thursday is my halfway mark. My hump day. 
I can't even believe it! 

So I'm just gonna pretend that it's not happening. 

This week was fairly wonderful, as they all are. 
We were able to go on an exchange with the sisters from Greencastle. They're doing wonderfully. Sister Anderson came to spend the day with me in Hanover. She is getting ready to go home in 3 weeks, so her last request was to serve a day in Gettysburg. She was so happy when we drove past the battlefields. 
Guys, I'm serving in the coolest area in the whole world. 
Anyway. We had a blast together but, as usual, I'm always happy to be back with Sister Talbot. 

This week was a little bit rough because I just seemed to be getting sicker and sicker. I just... couldn't hold down anything I ate and I was nauseous and dizzy and in a lot of pain and all this dumb stuff. So finally the mission President's wife called to tell us that I needed to go to the doctor. So we went... they told me that I had a badly inflamed stomach! So they gave me some pain meds and some antibiotics to help out. Then, I got a blessing. I'm feeling so much better, now! So that's good!  

Last Monday we went to this AWESOME shop called "Thrift" and we went shopping for some new outfits. 
This place is like...
I got 3 new skirts, 2 new shirts and a new dress for a whopping grand total of...

So that's officially my new favorite place to shop. 

Friday was the hardest day of this week. We had Zone Conference. I love Zone Conference. But it was really hard because Hermana Landa was there. And man... let me tell ya. It's just so hard to see your old companions. Like... she's my best friend and now we only get to talk on Mondays. So we sat by each other and talked at lunch and stuff. But it's not really the same and getting to be with them for 24/7!! So that was really super hard for me. 
That's the dumb thing about missions. You get really really close to a lot of cool people. Like Sister Talbot. I've only been her companion for like 3 weeks and I already don't want to know how I'm supposed to be companions with anyone else. 
So. The struggle is very real. 

But Zone Conference was good. Sister Talbot and I got to sing in two different musical numbers and that was really fun. We sang one with our whole zone - the EFY Medley, and another with all of the sisters that we're over - I stand all amazed. It was so fun! Then, had our zone trainings and Sister Talbot and I got to do a training on "Line in the Water" which is really cool! Because I know that not all of the zone leaders have their STL's get up and participate in the training. It made us feel really special. So that was a lot of fun. 

We got to spend lots of time with the Clarksons this week which is always a win. They are some of the funniest people I've ever met. Elder Clarkson will be talking, trying to tell a story. Then Sister Clarkson will chime in. Then Elder Clarkson will glare at her. "Go on, you tell it then." And she'll just stare at him, waiting for him to start talking again. "D'you see my face?" Hahaha we are always laughing with them.
The sad thing about funny missionary moments is that you try to write home about them and they're never as funny in writing as they are when you're there in person.
Plus... everything is funny to missionaries. 


Well the only other thing that happened this week was that we gave a lesson for third hour at church. The special thing about that was that we didn't know that we were supposed to be in charge of the lesson until they announced that we were in sacrament meeting... 
so it was kind of a train wreck haha. Hopefully people will still want to be our friends.

Well. I hope you are all preparing for a wonderful Easter, and that you're getting ready for General Conference. I hope you all share #BecauseHeLives with your friends and family and aquaintances. 


I want to end with an awesome story that I read in Cahlynn's email last week because I wish I was half the missionary I know she is. (Also because the story is awesome).

There once was a man who was asleep one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Savior appeared to him.
The Lord told him He had a work for him to do, and showed him a large rock explaining that he was to push against the rock with all his might. This the man did, and for many days he toiled from sunup to sundown; his shoulder set squarely against the cold massive surface of the rock, pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling his whole day had been spent in vain.
Seeing that the man showed signs of discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture - placing thoughts in the man's mind, such as ``Why kill yourself over this?, you're never going to move it!'' or ``Boy, you've been at it a long time and you haven't even scratched the surface!'' etc. giving the man the impression the task was impossible and the man was an unworthy servant because he wasn't moving the massive stone.
These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man and he started to ease up in his efforts. ``Why kill myself?'' he thought. ``I'll just put in my time putting forth just the minimum of effort and that will be good enough.'' And this he did or at least planned on doing until, one day, he decided to take his troubles to the Lord.
``Lord,'' he said, ``I have labored hard and long in Your service, putting forth all my strength to do that which You have asked of me. Yet after all this time, I have not even budged that rock even half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?''
To this the Lord responded compassionately, ``My friend, when long ago I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you to push against the rock with all your strength and that you have done. But never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. At least not by yourself. Your task was to push. And now you come to Me, your strength spent, thinking that you have failed, ready to quit. But is this really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled; your back sinewed and brown. Your hands are calloused from constant pressure and your legs have become strong. Through opposition you have grown much and your ability now far surpasses that which you used to have. Yet still, you haven't succeeded in moving the rock; and you come to Me now with a heavy heart and your strength spent. I, my friend will move the rock. Your calling was to be obedient and push, and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom, and this you have done.''
I love you all!! 
Happy Easter

"He is not Here

Love, Hermana Bills

Monday, March 23, 2015

Bills' and Talbot's Excellent Adventures: Part 2

What a week! 

I don't really have a lot to write this week. Things are going well, as per usual. There has been a nasty flu going around the mission and a lot of people have been getting that. I came down with it this week and it was pretty bad. I ended up losing quite a bit of weight and that wasn't very good! Especially since it hasn't quite warmed up yet! I need that flubber to keep my vitals nice and toasty. But alas... tis gone now. 
Maybe that's a blessing in disguise because we're hoping that it will start getting warmer and warmer. I've stopped wearing tights officially! So celestial legs are out and about. Brighter than the angel Moroni, I'm sure.

We did a lot of walking and tracting this week and so I finally feel like we got the real mission experience ;) The unkind people and the doors closing in your face. We weren't even looking for new investigators, either! we were looking for less actives! So that was kind of humorous. It's cool, though. Because it does make it quite easy to tell whom the Lord has prepared for us to work with. Being lead constantly by the spirit is something I never understood before my mission, and it's been a hard job to learn how to do it. Luckily I have a wonderful companion who is very good at doing just that! So she's teaching me so much! 

We went on an exchange this week the sisters from Fairview and I got to work with Sister Aston again. She is a little angel. We had such a good day working together. I love being able to be there and to help people out. :) Sister Talbot spent the day with Sister Zaugg in Fairview. 
It was a really good exchange but I am happy to be back with Sister Talbot. I love her so much! we have so much fun together quoting disney movies and laughing and talking about everything. We really opened up this week and talked about some deep stuff that we've been struggling with. It's amazing to have a companion that you can trust with whatever. Such a good feeling. I have been blessed with some incredible companions. 

We met a really cool less active member this week! She loves anime and is super funny. So hopefully we're going to start working with her. She was really nice to us and said that one of her goals was to lose weight this year. We invited her to come to Saturday sports with us! We do them weekly at the church with a bunch of people and it's been a lot of fun for us. So we committed her to come out to that with us. She said she couldn't make it this week, but that she'd try for next week. So... fingers crossed! 

Other than that... we were kind of down for the count all weekend. Things were really slow because we weren't doing very well. (Mostly me, but Sister Talbot was a little sick as well. Sunday was pretty bad cause I still wasn't feeling too hot. But I was in charge of giving a talk for sacrament meeting. It ended up going really well! People were so sweet! Someone even told me that they had taken notes!?  
We had both lunch and dinner appointments yesterday. Members are so incredibly nice. Then we swung by the hospital. Our investigator was checked in there the other day. Her blood sugar had apparently gone over 500! That's insane! So we stopped in with the Clarksons and Elder Clarkson gave her a priesthood blessing. It was something so incredible... the spirit was so strong.

But other than that, we had a pretty slow week! Just a couple of lessons taught. We're still working hard! All the prayers that we can get are greatly appreciated. 

I love all of you guys :) Mondays are the best when I get to hear from each of you and see what you've been up to! If you ever think I get bored about hearing the small little things that you've been doing, I don't!! So send the emails my way. ;)
Thanks for all you do! 

Love, Hermana Cuentas (Bills)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bills and Talbot's Excellent Adventures: Part 1

(and many parts soon to follow)

So this week I got a fantastic new companion and we're going to be best friends forever because I love her. 

It all started with transfers. I dropped Sister Jones off in Carlisle and stayed the night with two fabulous sisters. We did some missionary work in a lil trio for the night, and then we ate ice cream to mourn the loss of our beloved companions as they drove to Pittsburgh to pick up their trainees. 
The next morning, we headed to the training meeting in Harrisburg! The good ole Harrisburg zone. It was like... pure torture being there. My old stomping grounds! and we actually ended up serving the day in Hershey while we waited for our companions to come from Pittsburgh, and that's like 15 minutes away from Lebanon and Hermana Landa and so that was actually REALLY rough. 

But whatever. 

Anyway, I got ahead of myself. 
It was good to see so many people that I know at the transfer meeting. Elders from my last districts. Sisters from zone stuff and missionary meetings. Missionaries are so fun to be around. I think the main reason they're so fun is like... we don't have youtube and facebook and netflix and all of those things that we normally use to "entertain" ourselves. And so everything that SHOULDN'T be funny, totally is. Like we laugh at the dumbest stuff. And if you're one of the "cool" missionaries that can quote movies and stuff and make people laugh, you basically win everything. 

So missionaries are fun. :) 

But yeah. We spent the day in Hershey (I was with Sister Hodson and Sister Anderson) and worked really hard and saw some really cool miracles! 

That night, I got Sister Talbot as my new companion. Like I already said, she's fantastic. We're going to have so much fun! I know it! 
The drive from Harrisburg to Carlisle to go get our car was a little crazeh. We had two missionaries that were getting transferred in and let me tell ya... sister missionaries do not pack light. But really, how are you supposed to fit your whole life in two suitcases? Not realistic! But anyway. We barely fit everything in, and I decided to be the martyr and hold this giant suitcase on top of me for the half hour drive and I was so claustrophobic and it was so funny! 

But everything has been good since that moment. The apartment was in disarray when Sister Talbot arrived, because the elders had just gotten doubled out and so we had some of their furniture and stuff in our apartment that they hadn't been able to get rid of. So we had the Clarksons come over and help us rearrange our house and now we have a treadmill that I've been using and maybe I'll lose some mission weight! #byebyefreshman15
But our beds are finally not in the living room and our apartment finally feels like a home and I LOVE IT! So we're still settling in and little by little we're deep cleaning the apartment and I just feel so springy. New companion, "new ward" (since now we're only serving in Hanover and not Gettysburg), "new apartment" NEW SEASON. Everything is starting to warm right up! It's so exciting! I've got spring fever! 

We're working really hard in our area, trying to figure out where our efforts can be best used. We went less active finding quite a bit and trying to sort through who has potential right now and who doesn't. It's good to have all of our focus on one ward. We were able to meet with the bishop yesterday as well. He just seemed so stressed out when we first came in. We just kept telling him, "give us some of the things that are on your plate." he came up with a list of things that we could do, and by the end he seemed so much more calm and excited to work. It was so cool. I love seeing that and being able to be the ones who can bear the burdens of others. Missions are legit! 

We've been working a lot of trying to find the less actives that have been prepared to come back to church. We're not focused so much on finding new investigators. The Bishop has asked that we focus on the work in the ward - specifically less actives and active members. So we're going to be having a member missionary class taught during Sunday school hour (I believe? One of our ward missionaries put in together). and we'll be setting up active member lessons as well as less active member lessons. We need to strengthen the ward before we start bringing new people into it! It's cool to have a focus and some direction. As we do what the bishop asks of us, and work hard to help him, I know that we will be blessed in many other areas of our work as well. 

I have been studying a lot lately about the power and authority of my calling as a missionary. That's something that I've struggled with my whole mission - feeling qualified to do the work. But this morning, as I was studying chapter one in preach my gospel, it finally just stuck. I'm ALREADY righteously exercising my power as a missionary in the simple ways that I do missionary work. Our authority is manifest in the smallest forms. Praying with and for our investigators. Receiving revelation about where to go and what to say. Being in the right place at the right time for the Lord to place someone in our path. These are little "commonplace" things that happen all of the time in missionary work. But they are manifestations of our power and authority as the Lord's representatives. 

That was so cool for me to learn and so important as well! I feel so much more qualified to do the Lord's work after having studied that this morning. 

I'm so excited about the next couple of transfers. Things are getting really good around here, folks. 
Stay tuned! :) 

Hermana Bills 

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Long Week . . . The Longest

We Love Abe!
So this week has been absolute madness. I don't even know how to keep my head on straight. 

I have three main things to talk about in this email. 

First off. Remember how I wrote about ice rain last week? Yeah. Not good. We had an awful experience with it this week. I mean, it was stupid and totally our fault that we even got stuck out in it. But it was still scary! 
Here's what happened.

We had a dinner appointment all the way out in the far reaches of our area with an awesome little family. It was raining quite a bit when we got there, but it was still pretty warm outside and so we weren't worried. On our way home, we knew that we'd be passing the Shearer's house (they are our favorite family.) And since Sister Jones didn't know if she'd be getting transferred, she asked if we could stop by. So, we swung by for a quick visit before heading back  home. By the time we were leaving the Shearers house, we realized that the roads were really icy. We didn't really know what to do. We said a quick prayer, asking for guidance, and felt impressed to keep moving forward so we did! But then we got to this spot where it was really hilly and the road was STRAIGHT ice, and we didn't know what to do. I got out of the car to scope out the situation, and it was looking pretty bleak. There was a little driveway to some apartments that went back into some parking... we decided that the only thing that we could do was to try to pull the car up into the driveway to get it out of the road, and then walk back to the Shearer's house. So, Sister Jones tried to pull up into the driveway, but the car started sliding backward... 
That was probably the most terrifying moment of my mission to date. I could just see the car go sliding down the hill with Sister Jones in it and I would be left standing at the top of the hill... helpless. But luckily (Praise the Lord) our car caught itself in the snow. 
So then we called for backup. Brother Shearer and his son Chad came with some ice melt to save us. We talked to the guy who owned the place and he said we could park there for the night/ Then we called our mission president and got permission to stay at the Shearer's house. So we ended up staying the night at their place. 
It was quite the adventure. My story can't really do it justice. 
I know that we were dumb and we should have just gone home when we saw all of the rain, but I'm just so grateful that the Lord was able to overlook our stupidity and protect everyone that was involved.

Alright. So there's our adventure for the week. 

We were also able to attend MLC this weekend. I love going to Pittsburgh. That's probably my favorite thing ever. I also love spending time with the other leaders in the mission. It reminds me that I have so much potential to learn and to grow. I see how amazing they all are and it just gets me stoked for the kind of missionary I want to be! 
We did MLC a little different than normal. We drove to Pittsburgh early Friday morning and started around 12:30. We went until 6 and had dinner together and played volleyball after. It was the funnest thing ever. Then we all had breakfast at the mission home Saturday morning and got supplies at the mission office and then we headed back to our areas. We rode with the Chambersburg elders and we stopped at MONTEZUMAS for lunch. 
I love MLC. 

The last thing I'm going to write about (because we don't have very much time today) is transfers and all the crazy madness that's been going on.
So first off, the thing that I wasn't supposed to write about last week I can write about now. Some crazy stuff is happening in our area! So, like I've said, we cover two wards here. The Hanover ward and the Gettysburg ward. We have a set of elders working with us in the Gettysburg ward, and a set of elders and the Clarksons (the senior couple) working with us in the Hanover ward. Well, since the number of missionaries has gone down drastically, we have to close a lot of areas in our mission. So they ended up closing the elders in Hanover. So I was pretty sad about that. Then, they ended up taking us out of Gettysburg as well. So now we're working exclusively in the Hanover ward. 
Well. That transition was already crazy enough for us to handle without Sister Jones getting transferred out. SHE'S LEAVING ME. 
And now I don't know what I'm going to do. 
Honestly I don't know what SHE'S going to do. She's doubling into a new area (which means that all of the missionaries currently serving in her area are taken out, and she's going to be going in blind with a new missionary.) Not to mention that new missionary is going to be a trainee. 
She's pretty much a superstar. 

But anyway. This week is really ridiculous and I don't know what the future holds... So stay tuned for next week! 

Also we recorded a song this week that I wrote a couple transfers ago and Sister Clarkson posted it on facebook so we're just waiting for that to go viral ;) 

Well I love you all! 

Ps - Happy Happy Birthday to Marche, Madi sue sue, Chase, and my sweet Grandma Johnson and Grandmpa Lamoreaux. I love each of you.

Happy Belated birthday to my wonderful Mamma! I love you and I feel just awful for forgetting to add you in my email last week. I hope you got your birthday card. Love you! 

I love each of you! 

Hermana Bills

Monday, March 2, 2015

First off! Happy birthday to the best dad in the WORLD this week! MY DAD :) I hope you have the best birthday ever and I LOVE You! 
Also, Happy birthday to Sister Jones' dad. You seem pretty cool :) 
Happy wedding to Kyle and Elaine! May happiness follow you all of your days. :) 

And happy whatever else is going on to everyone else! I hope you all have an awesome day and week and whatever else is happening! 

This week was incredible. So many blessings. Why does the Lord spoil me so much? :) 
 First off, we were able to pick up two new miracle investigators. The first one's name is Faye. She is the grandmother of two awesome sisters in our ward. They always come out on team ups with us. Anyway, Courtney just got back from her mission in Rio and she's been praying for a long time that Faye (her grandma) would be open to taking the lessons. So we started praying with her! And lo and behold, she has been being prepared by a missionary who used to serve in this area... and now she's very open and very interested! So that was amazing.
The other is a little girl. She's the stepdaughter of a less active member in our ward. Her dad is taking the lessons and now she wants to take them, too. We're hoping it will help to reactivate their mom as well! They're such a cute family. 

Another blessing was the exchange that we went on! I took over the area for my first time on Monday and it actually went really well. I was kind of intimidated because the sister that I was going on exchanges with only has 6 weeks left on her mission, she's been a trainer, she's been an STL... she's pretty much the coolest person ever. So I was like, "well I don't have anything to offer." But we ended up having such a good time! 
On Monday night, we made cookies for all of the people that we were going to visit. It was so embarrassing... I guess I just forgot how to make cookies and they turned out pretty horrible. We had a pretty good laugh over that, though. 
We had a good day working together on Tuesday. We taught 3 lessons! Then we headed back to Lewisberry at 4 to exchange back. I was very happy to see Sister Jones again. 
We stopped somewhere for dinner on the way back to our area and Sister Jones realized that she left her bag in Lewsiberry. It was soooo funny! We had to drive all the way back to get it. We were so embarrassed when we showed up at their apartment. 
The reason the exchange was such a blessing, though, was that it really just boosted my confidence. Not only in my new calling, but also in my knowledge of the area and in my ability to help the people that we're teaching. It was a much needed lesson. It also helped out with the work for the rest of the week. 

We had so many incredible members that were willing to come out and help us do missionary work this week. We had at least one team up every single day this week, sometimes more than one. That's a huge deal! The members are just so wonderful and willing to do so much for us. We had one member that called us up because she has less active members on her visiting teachers list and she wanted to have us come see them with her. So she drove us around all night and we were able to serve and teach and it was amazing! 
We have also been able to work with some of the laurels! Working with the youth is so fun. We had one laurel team up that came out with us for four hours one day. She's contemplating serving a mission, so we showed her a little bit what missionary work is like. We taught a couple lessons and went out to lunch with her. It was so fun. We were all laughing so hard. :) We even got to pet a guinea pig! 

The Clarksons spoiled us last Monday and took us to this awesome Civil War museum and we watched a movie about the civil war and I bawled like a child. It was amazing. The spirit was so strong. I love American History! 
We also spent our Sunday with them. Pennsylvania has this fun weather that they call "ice rain" and it's truly as brutal as it sounds. It's just like... rain... that freezes everything. Literally. Everything is ice.
So it wasn't a very good idea to be driving around in that. So we spent Sunday evening with them and they told me that I could come live with them in England while I travel through Europe. They told me they'd find me someone to marry, too. Someone with an irish accent. So that's exciting. :) Haha I love the Clarksons.
Of course, this week we were able to have dinner with the Shearer family. We also attended the adult session of Stake Conference with them. That was wonderful. I think that's the first adult session I've ever gone to. I have been missing out my whole life! 

We were able to have dinner with the other Shearer family as well. (Brother of our Brother Shearer.) Anyway. He was awesome and he makes his own guns. Like hand makes his own guns. How legit is that!? And she made us pie. So that was an automatic win. 

So basically just anyone with the last name of Shearer is awesome! 

Something cool that I re-realized this week: The Lord wants us to ask questions to him when we pray! He doesn't want to just hear what we're grateful for or the blessings that we stand in need of (although, he does want to hear those things, too.) He wants us to ask Him questions! He wants us to have things that we're concerned about and things that we need to know. If we come to Him with questions, He can teach us! And our relationship with him will grow. I have been working on asking specific and direct questions to Him this week. I already have seen a difference in the level of sincerity of my prayers. It's been so neat! 

Something crazy that happened this week: We got a call from President Johnson and some big changed are happening to our district. I don't know how secret they're supposed to be so I'll write about them next week after the transfer happens. :) 

Something embarrassing that happened this week: So for some reason I'm like horrified to ask to use people's bathrooms at their houses when we go over for dinner. I don't really know what's wrong with me. But anyway. So we were leaving the other Shearer's house Friday night and I really had to go to the bathroom. Well they live out in spring grove, which is like 25 minutes away from our apartment. So I'm like trying to be all obedient and not speed down the road, but secretly I'm dying. So miraculously, I make it to the apartment. We fly up the steps and I put the keys in the door, drop everything on the floor and FLY into the bathroom. 
Problem solved. I felt like a total boss. 
BUT. The next morning, we were looking for the keys... and we couldn't find them anywhere. I was mortified. I didn't know where I had left them. All I remembered was that I couldn't have cared less about the keys, I just needed to get to the bathroom! 
Jokingly, Sister Jones says, "Maybe you left them in the door?"
"Doubtful." I respond. 
But then she opens the door and... there they are! 
It was awful! They sat there in the door all night long. Anyone could have come along and taken them. People could have broken into our apartment and stolen our cereal! 
Luckily, the crisis was averted. I felt really bad about it though!!

Sorry this email had ZERO structure to it. I can't really do the day by day thing. I get too bored. :) 
Let me know if there's anything you guys would like to hear about to spice up the weekly email. I don't want people to fall asleep! 

This week we're headed back to Pittsburgh. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures! 

I love each of you! Thank you for all you do for me! 

Hermana Bills