Monday, April 27, 2015

Service with a shovel . . . and a smile! :)

This is Sister Bills reporting live from my swivelly library chair in Hanover, PA. Breaking news this week: my companion and I spent three hours mulching trees outside a state park office on Saturday and now our backs are really sore from shoveling and wheelbarrowing up and down the treacherous hills of Codorus, PA. 
Other services that we provided this week included: playing games with a less active family so that their mom could get some work done around the house, weeding an older sister's garden, helping a partially paralyzed brother do his exercises and build his strength in hopes of him making a full recovery, and getting our ward mission leader's home ready for a yard sale.
Consequently, we're feeling slightly exhausted and definitely achy.
The good news is, we're heading to Fairview tomorrow afternoon when the friendly chiropractor lives and we are going to get realigned and then we're going to rub the knots out of each other's shoulders and be good as new :) 
The other good news is, we feel very accomplished and spiritually happy. It was a good week! 

It's crazy to think that transfers were just this last Tuesday. I feel like that was ages ago. Everyone is in their new areas now, and we were able to see the transfer boards and it's so exciting to see where all my friends are serving and who they're serving with! One of the Sisters that I was just an STL over (Sister Aston) got transferred to Pitt 6th and is now serving in a trio with Courtney's little sister - Sister Crockett. Also, Hermanita Landa is now serving with someone that Sister Talbot used to be companions with! I think it's so fun to find little connections like that.  Maybe I'm just weird. I always like to see where my peeps end up. 

But, as you know, Sister Talbot and I were unaffected by the transfer and are so happy to be serving together for another six weeks. We are just starting to see our area take off and we're working with quite a few very promising people. We're hoping to be able to take a temple trip soon with Mammaw and help her get some of her family names baptized. That will be really cool. 

I was able to make some really good friends this week. One, I found in a field a Codorus. It was just laying in the middle of the field... a little dead fish. About 300 feet from the nearest lake. It was actually a pretty cool neature moment for me because the park officers were telling me about how the eagles had probably caught it and were taking it to their babies and had dropped it. So I just kind of felt a connection to the eagles. You can apparently watch the live feed of how they're doing online somewhere. I wouldn't know. 
My other friend was a hissing goose. I was in the middle of telling him how wonderful of a day it was and he just started hissing at me? It was the greatest moment of my life. But I started to feel bad when he walked over and pecked at the sleeping goats. I felt like it was my fault. I am the scum of the earth. 

We actually had a really awesome moment on Wednesday. I have been working at getting better at recognizing spiritual promptings.Wednesday was a struggle because we had so many appointments that were set and that were supposed to work out. We had so many that we were worried how we were going to make it to all of them. But then, seemingly simultaneously, everyone decided to cancel. So we were really sad. We were trying to figure out what the Lord wanted us to do, so we decided that we just needed to act. So we started just stopping by and trying to visit people... nothing was working out. So, we went home to have dinner and we were feeling a little frustrated and not able to motivate ourselves to go back out. A quote from "Ephraim's Rescue" came to my mind: "You can't move mountains while you're sitting on your backside." So, I told that to Sister Talbot and we both decided to go see this Less Active Sister who we hadn't been able to have any luck with previously. 
Well guess what?
Bet you can't guess what happened!?
I'll tell you.
Not only were we able to visit with her, but we also met her daughter who has been inactive for several years. They both expressed a desire to come back - told us that they've been talking about it for a while and they both feel like they're ready for it. We shared a message about sacrifice and about how we can be sanctified and receive blessings as we make sacrifices for the Lord. The spirit was so strong and it was so much fun to be there with them. 

We had similar experiences on Thursday and Sunday, as well - both with families that we had previously not been able to make any progress with. It has been so wonderful to see how, if you just give all your faith, will, and best effort to the Lord, He will somehow make it enough. Just like He did with the loaves and the fishes when He fed the 5,000. There was no way those things were ever going to be enough, but He just made them be. He has the power to do that with our efforts, as well. When we are sincerely putting forth our best effort, and giving all our faith to following Him, we will see miracles in our lives.

I know it. :) 

Hermana Bills


Faye's Day


This week was straight up awesome because FAYE GOT BAPTIZED. 
It was the coolest thing ever!! 
You guys don't even know!!!!!

So first off, Faye is just hands down the most incredible person I've probably ever met. She has been SO prepared by the hand of the Lord over the last 22 years that it amazes me. I would always say to her, "Mammaw," (we call her mammaw) "you realize that a potato could be teaching you right now and you'd still be getting baptized. You are so prepared." And then she would always talk about how it's all thanks to her granddaughters Courtney and Ally who were her angels and her examples of how the Gospel of Jesus Christ can bless our lives, and how they were the ones who convinced her that the church was true. 
Her story is incredible. 22 years ago, her daughter Cheryl and her son-in-law Greg (currently serving as bishop  ) ran into some missionaries and decided to join the church. Courtney was like 5 at the time and Ally was born a year later. Well, they lived and loved the gospel with all their hearts, and then Cheryl got really sick and passed away. Faye said she was amazed by how Courtney and Ally and Greg were able to handle the loss of their mother and wife. Then, Courtney was called to serve a mission in Rio. Faye said that watching Courtney go out and serve the Lord for 18 months was so incredible, she knew there had to be truth to the gospel she was teaching. 
That's where we came in. I remember my first night in Hanover, we were out on a team up with Courtney and she said, "I really hope you guys will be able to teach my Mammaw." and I thought to myself, "Yeah. We'll get her baptized." 
Well, sure enough... It happened last Saturday. The baptism was wonderful. She had so many people there to love and support her - people who knew and loved Cheryl, as well. 
The spirit was so strong. Faye was able to have a wonderful experience as she was getting baptized. She told us after the service, "I know that Greg was in that font and that his hand was on my back helping me up out of the water. But there was another hand in there, as well."
She's the coolest lady ever. We are so happy to have her baptized. 

Other than that... this week just kind of flew by like a blur. It is amazing to me to see how the Lord prepares you for specific moments. That because of your trials and your experience; your faithfulness and your obedience, you can help the people that He places in your path to strengthen their faith in and relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Some good things that happened this week:
Pal lunch. My favorite thing. Tuna noodle casserole and homeless people. Yo-ho yo-ho Pal lunch life for me. 
Our investigators Lauryn and Brady went to Florida and GOT HITCHED! :D
We got to do a lot of service for members in the ward!! #youwantfrieswiththat
We gave a Book of Mormon to a baptist lady and she asked why "all you mormons look so healthy?" So we've got a follow-up appointment to talk about the word of wisdom :) 
We had a wonderful lesson with our 9-year-old investigator about the Plan of Salvation and realized that we really don't know how to teach children so if anyone can help us out with tips or teaching tools... we need all the help me can get!! 
We went to Texas Roadhouse with a 90-year-old member and SHE drove us and she is like... hands down the spriest 90-year-old I've ever met. She loves her bbq ribs. Then, the next day, we had a combined ward activity for her 90th birthday and it was a surprise birthday party and it was great! Tons of people came and she was totally surprised! I told everyone that it probably wasn't a good idea to try and surprise someone of her age... but no one would listen to me!! It turned out okay, though. No heart attacks or anything... She's a sturdy one! Love her so much :) 
The saddest thing that happened this week was that the moving elders came down from Pittsburgh and we helped them move all of the things out of the Clarksons apartment and it made me so Clarkson-sick. I really miss them so dang much...  It's been really hard to have them gone, and moving their apartment out... it made me cry all over again! So that was a struggle. 
The good news is, we'll be able to see them next week at MLC and I seriously can't wait. 

Well... Today marks another transfer... this is #8 for me, so I've got 5 left after this one. I'm kind of wigging out. I'm to the point in my mission where the "younger folk" start referring to me as an old missionary, and I don't like that very much. I keep telling everyone that I just came out, because that's what it feels like! But whatever ;) 

But anyway. Sister Talbot and I are having a blast. We're learning and growing so much spiritually - individually and as a companionship. I honestly don't know what I'd do without her in my life right now. She is so great! 

Well... Alright. I guess that's about it for this week! Sorry it's short and sweet. Our weeks are super busy and fun, and PA is beautiful right now as spring springs up everywhere! 

I love you guys!! 

Hermana Bills  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Missionary Work is my Catharsis

Catharsis. C-a-t-h-a-r-s-i-s. Catharsis.
Word of the week, my friends.

But where did it come from, you ask? Well. We went on an exchange this week with the Carlisle sisters and I stayed in Carlisle with Sister ginger Jones. We had dinner with this EXTREMELY intelligent sister... talk about walking dictionary! Her vocabulary was so exceedingly great that it did cause me to quake and tremble for fear that I couldn't actually understand what she was saying. 
Legit though. 
She builds 3-D puzzles and teaches math and uses the word "catharsis" and I was blown away by her massive wealth of knowledge.
No one is smarter than her. 
No one.
(Okay, God is smarter than everyone. But OTHER THAN GLORIFIED IMMORTAL BEINGS. She takes the prize.) So yes. I've felt like the prince of London walking around using my new vocabulary word. 

Speaking of weekly themes.... The meal of the week was definitely stuffed peppers. Did you know that was a real thing? I've had them three times this week and they're probably my new favorite food group. 

More themes! The mission theme of the week for Sister Talbot and I is obedience. We have been working on being more exactly obedient and WOW. Wow you guys. Just wow. The miracles that we've seen just because we have the desire and have started to put forth our meager effort to be obedient. The steps that we've taken in our personal lives and in our mission lives to get ourselves in order and follow the will of the Lord... wow. They've brought some of the sweetest feelings of peace and comfort and reassurance; and some of the choicest blessings and most incredible miracles that I've ever seen in my life. 
D&C 11:20.
Obedience rocks. 

We're done with themes now.

This week we had a zone training meeting in Chambersburg and we were talking about the role that the Holy Ghost plays in conversion, and why it's so important to have the spirit present in all of our lessons. We read a powerful quote about how, regardless of how righteous or faithful we are, we can never fill the role that the Holy Ghost plays in someone's conversion. So, one of the elders raised his hand to comment, and I thought it was so profound that I wanted to share it in this email. He said: 
"The Holy Ghost is supposed to enter into the hearts of men. If we did that...... they'd die." 

His name is Elder Klima and he's fabulous. 
So that was definitely a high point for us. 

Also we played knock-out in basketball and one of the poor elders ripped his pants and we were laughing so hard we cried. 

The priceless moments of being a missionary. 

The lowlight of the week is that our wonderful senior couple - the Clarksons - were taken from us to go work in the office in Pittsburgh. Saying goodbye was like... the hardest thing ever. I cried for a whole hour. It was awful. I love them so much! We still call and talk to them, and we're planning to stay at their apartment in two weeks when we go for MLC. But it's still rough. The whole ward is missing them. But now with the elders gone and the Clarksons gone, we really have to step up our game. We have a lot of ground to cover and no time to waste. We have a really busy week planned this week, all leading up to our baptism that we've got on Saturday! We're so thrilled for Faye to get baptized. This has been a long time coming, folks. But I'll talk more about that next week :) 

The only good part of the Clarksons leaving is that Elder Clarkson is now in charge of the cars for our mission and he TOTALLY hooked us up! Cause our car is getting pretty old (for a mission car) and plus the radio doesn't even work so we can't listen to music. Guys, I've been 3 weeks driving with no music. It's awful. But anyway so we're getting a brand new 2015 toyota corrola so try not to be too jealous about that ;) 

Some fun things we did this week:

We went to our ward's spaghetti dinner fundraiser. Sister Mealey brought her delicious cheesecake for the dessert auction that they were doing and I tried so hard to win it... but I only had $16.50 in my wallet and that cheesecake went for like $48 so I didn't have a chance. 
Luckily we got a free box of dinner rolls just for being sister missionaries so I guess that made up for it... not really... 
Ward members are so nice though. Seriously. We have the best ward in the whole Hanover area. (Don't mind the fact that we're also the only ward in the Hanover area. But still the best.) 

We also got to go to a baby shower. One of the very few that I've attended in my 20 years. We made babies out of playdough and I named her Roja because it was a baby shower for a Mexican lady and because it was made out of red playdough... Then I thought it was funny because I've been out for 9 months and I said, "Hey. It's my mission baby."
I should have got a picture. 
She even had a little red playdough bottle.
Well, I have some leftover playdough so maybe I'll make another one. It just wouldn't be the same, though... 
Eh. Whatever :) Just know that she was beautiful. She even had fat rolls and a diaper and a bellybutton and a creepy little playdough smile. Then I won a prize for the cutest playdough baby and I got werthers candy! And I won another prize and we got laundry detergent! It was the most productive baby shower because I'm actually going to use those things! Yay! 

Well. I just want to close by sharing a miracle we received this week. We have these amazing member missionaries in our ward who are always reaching out to their friends and inviting them to learn more. Well, we sat down to visit with their friends Steve and Christine this week, and it was the most amazing privilege to be there with them. We were honored to share our testimonies with them. They are some of the most amazing people we've ever met. They have so much light in their eyes, and as we were talking and sharing the scriptures with them, Christine stopped us and said, "The Holy Spirit is in the room right now." it was awesome! And then Steve was talking about, "Well, we've just been searching for the truth for so long..." and then Christine pitches in, "Well, I think we've found it." and the spirit in that room was so sweet and amazing... it was just a real blessing and privilege to be a part of teaching them.
Unfortunately, Steve is from Harrisburg and Christine is from Manhattan, so we won't be able to teach them... But we committed them to read the Book of Mormon and compare it to the Bible, to ponder it's message, and to pray and find out if it's true! They said they'd do it! It was incredible. We're just sad we can't teach them! 

But I know that God has miracles and blessings out there for each of us; and I testify that He will give those blessings only to His servants who are working hard to be worthy to receive them. As our hearts were changed this week and as we worked our hardest to be exactly obedient (although we still fall short - all of us do) the Lord was able to bless us because of our efforts.
If you're an employer and you've got a special project or assignment and you're trying to choose one of your employees for the job, you're not going to pick the employee that sits around and waits to be told what to do and to be guided step by step. You're going to choose the employee who is proactively working to improve and strengthen your company or establishment. He's the employee that's going to be given the special assignment, because he is trustworthy and prepared to do the work. 
It is the same with us. The Father will bless us as we are constantly giving our best efforts to strengthen the kingdom. The Spirit doesn't necessarily cater to us by telling us step by step what we need to do, or constantly directing us where to go, what to say, what to do. Sometimes his promptings are so subtle that we don't recognize them as promptings. But as we are consistently doing "many good things of [our] own free will" the Lord will bless us because of our efforts. 

So go out. Work hard. Do good. Keep on praying. 
And you just wait and see how the Lord will bless your life because He can see that you have been a wise servant in the small things, and can therefore bless you with big things. 

I testify that He lives and that He has a perfect plan for each of us if we will turn to Him with full purpose of heart. He will guide us and protect us from evil.

I love Him.

I love each of you.

Have a wonderful week.

Hermana Bills  

Monday, April 6, 2015

185 Years of Goodness

Well. my shoutout for the week... Happy re-birthday to the one true church. I'm so glad you got restored, man. Don't know what we'd do without you. 

And can we all just agree that conference this week was on point? 
It always is. Such a win. So many champion talks. And I love when the General Authorities just like... exercise righteous dominion and cry repentance to the whole world over the podium.
Except, whoah? What was up with those people who opposed the Apostles?

On a side note, why did nobody bother to tell me the Zayn left one direction? Did you all not think that this was something I would like to know about? 
How can I even trust you people with anything. 

So this week was...

Tuesday and Wednesday we went to Pittsburgh for MLC. That's always a highlight for me. The drive was awful, though. Elder Guerrero got this bright idea that we were going to have a competition to see who could drink the most water bottles in an hour period. 
So between the four of us we drank a 24 pack of water in like... 38 minutes. So what SHOULD have been a 3 hour drive turned into a very painful 6 hour drive with frequent bathroom stops. 
It was so fun. 
Then we also did a challenge to see who could handle putting 7 warheads in their mouth at the same time and I'm pretty sure that I burned the enamel off of my teeth (don't tell my dentist).
So yes that was eventful. 

We had the full Pittsburgh experience as we popped in to visit Primanti Brothers and felt like true Pittsburghers. On our way into the shop, we even got stopped by a drunk guy who told us we were beautiful and then hugged us and asked for our autographs! Nothing better.  
Then we stayed in an apartment in downtown pittsburgh with four other sisters and I got to sleep on a futon and if that doesn't sum up city life, I don't know what does.  

All in all it was an excellent trip. 

We got back to Hanover in time to celebrate my HUMP DAY which ended up being the worst day of my whole mission haha. No, it wasn't that bad. We did do some missionary work and then a wonderful sister in our ward taught us about FAMILY HISTORY which was rad. I caught the spirit of Elijah and everything. So that was great... 

But yeah... It was legit just a rough struggle day. I had been feeling sick all day long but (forgive my awkwardness) I just attributed it all to "that time of the month" since the timing was just about right. So I just pushed through, thinking that I was just being a wimp. Well since it was my hump day we decided to go out to dinner with our district and the Shearers :) and we went to olive garden and I just was feeling so so sick. I didn't know what was wrong. So I asked Sister Shearer (my adopted mom) if she had any midol or advil or anything. So she gave me some but it wasn't working at all. I was just like, "man. This is rough. I've never had cramps this bad." 

So, we got home, daily planned... and I just went straight to bed. like I barely had the strength to change into my jam jams. so I didn't like wipe my makeup off or brush my teeth or anything. (don't hate. sometimes the struggle is just too real)

Well I woke up about two hours later and just broke down sobbing. My companion woke up and was like, "are you okay!?" and I just whimpered, "I'm sorry. I don't know why... I just feel so sick." all breathy. Then I got up, walked to the bathroom and started dry heaving. Sister Talbot walked in and I said, "I don't think this has anything to do with my period, man." She laughed. I choked a little more and laughed and cried and said, "I don't think my body remembers how to throw up..." and then I just lost everything. Hahahahaha it was so awful. While I was puking I was just crying and sister talbot like pulled my hair out of my face into this awful side bun and it was so messy and my makeup was smeared all over my face cause I was bawling and I got up from the toilet and looked in the mirror and said, "I think this is what death looks like"

I guess I should have given a disclaimer that the faint of heart shouldn't read that or whatever... well, there it is. So I puked a couple more times and I was down for the count all Friday just feverish and achy and... man. I was sicker than a dog. 

But then it was conference weekend which gave me the time to recover spiritually and physically from everything I went through ;) 
So now I'm feeling ready to be a good little soldier again. 

I know that I said I was restarting last week haha... I just can't seem to catch a break, you know? But oh well haha c'est la vie. It can't get any worse, so I should be good for at least a couple of months now. ;) So I really am restarting this week and I'm ready for a normal HEALTHY week of missionary work. 

Sorry this email is pretty short. I didn't realize I was running so short on time, I was having so much fun chatting with people and responding to emails that I lost track of time! Yikes. 

But I just want to share my testimony with you all that Christ lives! I mean, it's his birthday today (April 6!) so there's no better time to talk about Him. Even though it was Easter yesterday and so that throws me off a little bit. 
But in all seriousness, our Savior lives and He is there for us at ever moment of our lives. The low points and the high points. He knows what we feel, and He knows what we need to feel in order to make it through the trials and the tribulations that we face because we live in a fallen world. I am grateful to have Him as my best friend. There's no one that can understand us the way He does.
I am grateful for a living prophet who has a powerful testimony of the Living Christ and a personal relationship with Him as well. 
I am grateful for wonderful family and friends, and I am grateful to serve in a wonderful ward with so many incredible people. 
This work is amazing and it is worthwhile because it is the Lord's. 
Of these things I testify!! 

I love you all. 

Just keep this little struggler in your prayers, alright? :)

Hermana Bills

PS I will send pictures next week! Someone remind me!