Monday, July 20, 2015

Homies and Humidity

This week has been incredible. 
Is that how I start my emails every week? 
I don't know man, it's always the truth though. I have been having a pretty dang good mission these past 12 months. But this one really takes the cake. It just gets better and better every day. 

So honestly I was really scared when Hermana Tolman left because I felt like I'd never be able to have that much fun with another companion. But I was wrong. Hermana Davis is literally the best, funniest person on this entire planet. She is so awesome. We're going to have a lot of fun together. 
The only problem is that she is SUPER intimidating! Not only is she the nicest, funnest person you will ever meet - she always has a smile on her face and she is not afraid to talk to every single person and she has the ability to make them feel so loved and needed - but she is also the hardest working missionary I think I have ever seen. She is so focused on her purpose. All of the time. Like companionship studies with Hermana Davis are some of the best things that I have ever experienced. We get so much done. We stayed completely focused during weekly planning. And yet somehow we're still laughing and happy and having a good time. 
Also she is literally the most beautiful person you will ever meet. Ever. And she like doesn't even try!! Her outfits are always professional and adorable. Her face is perfect. 
So the problem here is that I will never be able to measure up to Hermana Davis. But I am just blessed to serve with her. 
What a blessing. 

Can we just talk about Tuesday

At first it wasn't a blessing because Hermana Tolman left me and I was really sad about that. But it was her time, you know? It was her time... 
But then! The greatest thing happened! 
I got to go work in Lebanon for the entire day! 
I got to see so many people that I miss and love and that I haven't heard from in quite a while and it was really amazing. And Hermana Tolman and I spent Monday night in the Lebanon apartment and it was just like old times. 
Well, except for the fact that we weren't sleeping in beds. But whateva. 
ALSO! Anyone remember the Christmas tree that Hermana Landa and I purchased in December? IT WAS STILL UP! I have never been so happy! Hahaha it was so rad. 

But anyway. One of the best experiences was with Sister Dourte. She is a recently reactivated member that I love SO much. Like she seriously means so much to me!! And I want to share this story not because I want to boast or anything but I just want whoever is reading this to know that YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN PEOPLE'S LIVES even if you don't realize it. 
So when I was serving in Lebanon, we used to visit Sister Dourte pretty regularly. She was someone that I felt a real connection with, so even though she didn't exactly show signs of progression, I still wanted to go and visit with her. Honestly she reminded me a lot of my grandma Johnson. Her husband wasn't a member and I was always really interested in teaching him the lessons, but he always seemed pretty weary whenever we asked. So we didn't push it super hard. 
When I left the area, I thought about them a lot but I never found time to write them or anything. When I heard that Brother Dourte had passed away, I was really torn up about it. I was super worried about Sister Dourte. I wrote her a letter to let her know how much I cared and I bore my testimony of the Plan of Salvation, but I never heard from her. 
When I found out that I was spending the day in Lebanon, I knew that Sister Dourte was at the very top of people that I wanted to visit. So we got to go over there and that conversation changed my life.
I've never really felt like I've had anyone on my mission that I was sent specifically to teach them. You know how like you hear stories all the time about people who have "their missionary" who like none of the other missionaries seemed to be able to connect with them until that one missionary comes along and says something that just like changes their mind or finally clicks with them or whatever? Well I'd never really felt like I'd had any of those people on my mission. I just felt like all of the people I taught were so prepared and that the Lord had just helped them along so much. And honestly, that's really what it all comes down to. But the Lord loves to use us in His work to touch the lives of people. We literally are His hands. And as I sat there and listened to Sister Dourte explain how much of an impact I had on her and her husband, and that he had started to think about joining the church, and they talked about how much they missed me when I left, and I was just so shocked! Because honestly I had no idea! 
I think sometimes we underestimate the impact that we have on people's lives. We know how much other people mean to us, but we forget that we are important in the lives of other people as well. I know that I have a tendency to forget about that. But we are SO important to the Lord and to the people in our lives. If any one of you ever forgets how important you are to me, I just want you to remember that YOU ARE AMAZING! And you mean so much to me! 

This week I got a couple of letters in the mail from the young women back home and they made me cry because they were so sweet and wonderful! I wanted to just hug each of those girls and tell them how much those letters meant to me and how much I needed them! I also got one from my sweet Mamma! I felt so loved!! You guys are seriously the most amazing people! 

This week has been hard but SO good! Hermana Davis (like I already said) is the hardest worker ever! At the beginning of the week I started to feel really sick, and I couldn't seem to shake it throughout the week, so we haven't been going to the track in the morning to work out this week. But on Friday we had weekly planning and comp inventory and I set me goal to go to the track and run EVERY day this week! Because I was just tired of feeling sick and icky! 
So this morning we got up and headed out the door and the Lord was able to bless us with the miracle of running into this awesome lady named Kathy. We invited her to walk with us and she just talked with us about her faith and some of the miracles that the Lord has given her in her life and we got to share our testimonies of how Christ loves us and we even talked about the Book of Mormon and she thought it was so awesome! Ugh! I love people! 
She said that she is usually out walking near the track in the morning, so hopefully we get to run into her again! I'm going to bring a copy of the Book of Mormon with me every morning to work out! Haha #missionprobs

Also! This morning we saw a bunch of Amish people at Walmart while we were shopping and ever since we did service on that Amish farm I feel like all of them are my best friends so we were smiling and waving and talking to all of them and it was so fun. 

Being a missionary in Lancaster is the best. 
I seriously feel like our apartment complex just sums up what it's like to serve in this area... on the far side of the complex it's like... pretty sketchy and a lot of questionable people live there, and then there's us in the middle with our asian neighbors who sit on their porch and play the guitar and bbq every night and just are all around really good people, and then on the other side is this giant glorious Amish corn field in full bloom and I just seriously love living here. 

Just... gah.
I love it.

(except for the humidity) 

Hermana Bills

Skype-ing Correlation meetings
Our District

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Mormon 9:15;19 HE CHANGETH NOT

"God of my Everything"
not actually sure who sings it. The USB says Aaron Shurst but... who knows. The USB has been wrong before. 

This week was so amazing! so many incredible things happened! There's no way that I'll have time to write them all, we're short on time this week because it's Hermana Tolman's last pday as a missionary, and so we've been running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to get everything done. I'm just amazed that I had time to brush my teeth this morning! I haven't even eaten yet today and it's noon!! Woah! 

Well the first and most important was our lesson with Hector. 
Oh my gosh.
Have you ever read that account in the Book of Mormon when Alma the younger sees the sons of Mosiah again and they're all just so happy and wow! That feeling is a real and legitimate feeling. I didn't know that feeling of happiness even existed. I could relive that moment over and over again. 
It was so funny. 
So we were walking on the street and getting closer and closer and it was honestly just... wow. The anticipation was killing me and then we round the corner to his house and THERE HE WAS!! And I was just so done with the situation like Hermana Tolman and I just wanted to run up and hug him but then he wasn't wearing a shirt so we definitely DIDN'T do that...  So instead I just turned around and walked the other way haha cause I was so done with the situation. LIKE WE HAVE LITERALLY BEEN LOOKING FOR THIS MAN AND HIS FAMILY FOR 5 WEEKS AND THERE THEY WERE? 
Just no!! 
Miracles like that do not just happen!! 
But they totally do!
And this week they did! 
Well, Hector was his usual sassy self and we just could not stop smiling and we  bore our testimonies that they were ready to make this commitment and that God had allowed us to find them again because he knew that they were ready and we invited them to be baptized and they said yes and we all lived happily ever after.
Except not really because Hector and his family live in West York and so we don't actually get to continue teaching them... :( So we had to send them over to the elders which was truly unfortuante because I would have given anything to teach them because they're so prepared... 
But I was just praying about it, wondering why we couldn't have the opportunity to teach them because honestly I was just sad... and the answer that I got was this really warm feeling of peace and a voice that told me, "If I needed you to be teaching him right now, he would be living in Lancaster." And that was enough for me. All the fear and sadness was just replaced with this peace and gratitude that I had been given the opportunity to take part in the miracle of finding him again. Like... 
Just wow. 

We had so many other awesome miracles this week!
It was just a week of miracles! 

One of those miracles is Rufino.
So when Salvador was baptized last Saturday (the 4th) we passed around these little cards and invited people to think of a name and write it on the card. Then our branch mission leader just got up and testified that whatever name the Lord was going to put into their mind was someone that He had prepared to hear the message. 
One of the sisters - Hermana Concha - had this person come into her mind, but she didn't think it was the right timing or anything, so she didn't write him down or refer him to us. 
But the very next day, Rufino was calling her and told her that he was feeling really lonely and lost and that he felt like something was missing in his life and he just wanted to be happy. 
She was all like, "Whaaa??"
So she told us to go contact him and he was so happy to have us over. We taught him the message of the Restoration and he loved it and invited us back and even came to church this Sunday! The members were so sweet and welcoming and it was just such an amazing miracle.
He's Salvador's old roommate! 
So when Salvador showed up at church we told him, "Hey! Rufino is here!" And he was like, "What? Rufino? How?" And they sat by each other and smiled and laughed and were so happy and honestly I've never seen Salvador that happy than to sit in church next to his friend who had decided to follow the Savior just like he had... 
 Ugh. So many tender moments. 

And speaking over sacrament meeting... that may have been the biggest miracle of all... 
A lot of them were just visitors. One of the members - Mercedes - had her daughter in town and all her family from the Dominican Republic and they stopped by to visit. Well Mercedes' son (also a member), was giving a talk in sacrament meeting that day - he had been assigned to do so like a month in advance. So when the whole family came to visit, he was like, "I'm sorry guys, I have to go to church because I'm giving a talk." And they were like, "Oh, it's fine. We'll just come with you!" IT WAS SO COOL! 
The spirit was super strong. Hermana Tolman gave a departing testimony and I was just bawling because I'm gonna miss her so much. The talks were very spiritually uplifting and I think a lot of the visitors and less actives that were there felt the spirit super strongly. There have been some less actives coming out recently that haven't been to church in YEARS and it's been so incredible! 
One of those is our best friends Eunice. Ugh. she seriously means the world to me. She came yesterday for the first time in a really long time. Like I don't even know how long it's been since she's come out. Then, later in the evening when we had a lesson with her, she told us about how peaceful she felt. We committed her to just keep it a habit now, and she said that she would. She's committed to coming to church again next week!! It was such a break through! 
Anyway! After sacrament meeting we talked to this couple who were visiting from Washington, they're members of the Concha family (the family that is baptizing nations in this Branch - Hermana Concha referred us to Rufino and the other Hermana Concha referred us to Salvador. So basically they're boss.) but the guy apparently has been less active for a couple years, and his wife wants to take the lessons and get baptized!
Pretty much just another day in the life of Hermana Tolman and Hermana Bills. People just walking around, asking us to be baptized ;) hahaha. ;) 

Not much else happened this week. Just trying to finish up some loose odds and ends before Hermana Tolman heads back home to that eternal pday in the sky ;) We said goodbye to a lot of people. 
One of my favorite things about serving in a branch as opposed to serving in a Ward is that you have the opportunity to help out a LOT because the members need a lot of help. So this week, because there are not a lot of sisters in our ward, but a lot of less active sisters to visit, we were given a visiting teaching list of people that we're assigned to visit teach. Haha. Didn't think I'd have one of those for at least a couple more months! So we had a good laugh over that. 

In other news... we had Zone Training on Wednesday. Learned about setting expectations and how important that is. 

We watched President Packer's funeral. So sad 

We found an investigator in Columbia. So our next step is to just go ahead and baptize everyone living in that city... or at least have enough work there so that President Johnsons can send another set of missionaries to start working there 

IN OTHER NEWS!! There was a tornado warning in Lancaster County and we were just leaving a dinner appointment when the storm hit, and I don't think the tornado ever touched down or anything but the wind definitely tore a bunch of stuff up and knocked some trees over and wreaked a decent amount of general havoc and made a mess and blew stuff around a lot. You know. typical wind business. The craziest thing was that we were RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF IT and it legit was probably one of the most exciting moments of my entire life. Like.... Hands down. I don't think I've ever been so excited about anything. Cause we were just driving and it's like 5:00, right? But the sky is all like dark and greenish and then the lightning just starts flashing everywhere and the clouds are literally like SO close to the ground and it was just like we were in this tiny little dome of crazy hulk weather... and then it just starts POURING down rain like in these torrential sheets and we're literally driving like 12 miles an hour and the wind is seriously trying to blow our car away and I think that is one of the single happiest moments of my entire life. I was just so sure that I was going to see a tornado. I have never seen weather like that before!! Ugh. Coolest. It was so cool. 

Lastly, we committed two of our investigators to get baptized on August 8! It was amazing! They both said they feel so ready to start a new page in their lives. So hopefully we'll be having a couple awesome baptisms in the near future! 

Guys, thanks for all that you do for me! For the love and prayers and support. And the letters!! Thank you for all of the letters! You guys are seriously amazing. There is nothing that brings a bigger smile to my face than getting a hand-written letter from someone in our little mailbox on hitching post lane ;) hahaha. So if any of you are looking for a pen pal who usually doesn't respond to anything you send but at least you'll know that she was happy to hear from you... I'm your gal! ;) 
Hahaha. I love you guys. 

Hermana Bills 

 15 And now, O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do no miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles.
19 And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.

Monday, July 6, 2015


Like... I could not imagine a better week. 

It started on Monday (obviously), we hung out as a district and then we split up and went with the sisters to try to go thrifting when we discovered UNFORTUNATELY that the thrift shop we wanted to pop tags at actually wasn't even open for like... Who knows how long. So we just went to the mall, which was slightly uncomfortable. I mean, I've never been a big person for malls or shopping anyway, but just take that feeling of awkwardness and magnify it by a million and that's how I feel shopping in a mall as a missionary. It's not a pleasant experience. But it's what the gals wanted to do, so we did it. I love those sisters so dang munch. They mean everything in this world to me. I was feeling a little bit trunky/homesick and they just talked me through everything. It was so great. 

I think it is so funny how the devil and his little minions work so much harder on you when something incredible is about to happen in your life or in the work... But if you just persevere then the Lord will reward you. Just because you're currently surrounded by darkness, doesn't mean that the light will not come. So, I pushed through and this is how the week went.

The first miracle was Monday night. We were supposed to go on an. Exchange with our STLs. They were going to meet us in Lancaster at6 o'clock so that we could have our exchange review. Our dinner appointment was at 5:15, but we hurried out of there so that we could get to the chapel on time to meet with the sisters. Well, after about 15 minutes of waiting there for them, we decided that we should check our phone to see if something had come up because they obviously weren't at the chapel. 
When we looked at our phone we saw we had a couple of missed calls and missed texts from them. We found out that one of their recent converts was having a hard time trying to quit smoking, so sister Jarvis had given up her P day so that she could go sit with this convert, and hold her hand while she went through withdrawals. Meanwhile, sister Oliver had been staying with the Fergusons because she was sick. So the sisters were not going to be able to come to Lancaster. They called and asked if it would be possible for us to meet them in Elizabethtown. So, after a rockin lesson with one of our less active families, and after going to a members house to get to know her a little bit better, we headed on our way to meet up with the sisters.
When we got to the address that they had sent us, we walked up the steps, swang on their tire swing outside for a little bit, and then went in for our exchange review. The sisters were seated at a table with some of the members who lived in the house. At first, I was looking at one of the girls to try to figure out where I had seen her before, but I couldn't figure it out. I just couldn't quite place where I had seen her face before. All of a sudden, the mom walked in and I literally just fell to my knees with shock. Talk about a blast from the past! It was sister Ferguson, who I had talked with so long ago when I was on an exchange one of my very first transfers with sister Wade in Lititz. Way back when, we had just had the opportunity of teaching one of the Isaiah chapters in Nephi in the book of Mormon class that sister Ferguson used to attend, but has since stopped. I distinctly remember the first time I met her I had this deep impression that if I stay true and faithful to the Gospel, that someday I can become as faithful a servant as sister Ferguson. I had since forgotten the impression that she left on me that day in Lititz, but it quickly came back to me as I sat at the kitchen table in her home and exclaimed that I knew her! 
Not only was she alarmed by my exclamation, but I think it also threw her a little bit off that my first reaction was just to fall on my knees haha. She told me to sit down and asked when we had met. All I could say was, "I met you in Lititz on an exchange with Sister Wade and you told me things about this gospel that BLEW MY MIND." 
I couldn't stop freaking out. I couldn't believe that I had actually run into that family again. What are the odds!?
Anywhoo, while we were doing exchanger of you, she took the liberty to interrupt to give us a talk about being better at identifying with the speaker is speaking to us. It was such an answer to my prayer. I have read the talk several times over since I received it. It will greatly bless my life.
The exchange was great on Tuesday. We visited some wonderful people. We even went back to the ferguson home to help weed and then I got to talk to Sister Fergusons son, who is leaving for his mission this month. He's gonna be in the CCM! I'm so dang jealous! 

Anyway. We exchanged back that afternoon. I was so happy to be with Hermana Tolman again. Exchanges are fun, but sometimes you just want to be in your own area with your own companion, you know? So we are happy to be back. We got right back into work. We had this awesome active member lesson with one of the members in our branch that we didn't know super well and now we're like best friends with her. We sat down with her and got to know her life story and shared a message and now she wants to come out with us and teach people! Like she literally quit one of her jobs so that she could have more time available to go out with the missionaries! It was so cool. This branch is just getting stronger and stronger.

Speaking of strengthening the branch... Salvador was baptized!! It was incredible. Unfortunately, the water was freezing cold haha. We tried calling a bunch of people to come and fix it, but it would not be fixed. So we ended up just boiling a bunch of pots of really hot water and pouring them into the font to help bring the temperature up a little bit. When he was getting baptized, he wasn't bending over far enough (he probably didn't want to go in any farther into that freezing water) but anyway he wasn't getting submersed, so they had to try three times haha. But he was a trooper and seemed really happy. 
On Sunday when he was confirmed I was just crying and crying and then they stood up and had him sustained as a member and then like literally immediately after that President Gogna said that he also interviewed him that morning to receive the priesthood and found him worthy, so he gave him the Aaronic Priesthood right after church. It was crazy, and definitely did not help me with the whole crying issue. It was just an emotional day. 
Then, to make matters worse, I was prompted to bear my testimony. So I hopped right up and bore my testimony and, of course, I just kept right on crying. It was so crazy. 

I just want to share that testimony with you guys right now, though. Wednesday was a seriously incredible experience for me. It was the coolest thing... as I knelt down to pray that evening at 10:00pm, and realized that in Utah it was 8:00pm, which is right around the time that I was set apart to be a missionary exactly one year ago, I took some time to account to my Heavenly Father some of the incredible lessons and experiences that I have been a part of over the past 12 months, and I was overwhelmed with this incredible feeling of gratitude. I was literally brimming with thanksgiving that the Lord had seen fit to direct me in serving a mission. I thought of that person I was at that time last year... and then I took time to think about the person that I am. 
Those two people are completely different. I'm still me... but I'm new. The Lord has slowly been taking the weak and unworthy parts of me and making me into someone who is qualified to do His work. I am sincerely awed at what the power of Christ's atonement has done for me in my life. That is the miracle of what Christ did for us - that we don't have to hold on to who we used to be, and that we can move forward and become new people. I am so grateful for that knowledge and the joy it brings to my life...

Wow :) 

We had some seriously fantastic times this week. 

First off. 
I literally spent like 4 hours just hanging out with the Amish people! Can you even believe that!? Because I can't!!! It was so incredible! They even gave us a buggy ride and then made us Amish pretzels and Amish cheese sauce! 
They were seriously the coolest people in the whole world. Hermana Tolman and I got to be inside washing windows and stuff, and so we just got to sit and talk to Becky - she's 18 - about like... what being an Amish person is like and what it's like to live on a farm. Hopefully we get to go back soon and have another service day with them! They rock!! 
I would send pictures but... you know how the Amish are about that kind of stuff ;) haha

Second, we had a bumpin dinner appointment with the Martinez family. First off, Ruth Martinez is like seriously the best human being on the planet, and her husband is the funniest person I've ever met. So we went over and had dinner with them and the elders. Not to mention, this is one of the very few ALL SPANISH dinner appointments that I have been privileged to have on my mission. We talked and laughed and shared a spiritual message. It was such a good time. I don't really know why I'm including this. It was just a highlight from my week. 

There were so many highlights from this week.

Like our Branch fiesta on the 4th of July. That was great. It was raining and so we all had to cram into the little garage but hey! We're Latinos and none of us really care! It was actually really good because it brought us all closer. We were able to meet some really cool people from the York side of the branch! 

Another highlight was a lesson that we had last night with a less active that we've been teaching for a while. I think we finally had a break through moment with her and it was really cool. The spirit was super strong and I could feel God's love for her in the room. Wow. So hopefully she comes to church on Sunday!! 

More good news - we finally OFFICIALLY have a branch mission leader! It's the same person as before, but he just was finally actually called and set apart! so that's great! He has so many awesome ideas for missionary work that we're excited to implement. 

I have just been blown away by the love and blessings that the Lord is constantly showering upon our heads. I just want to close with one story from this morning.

So when Hermana Tolman was my trainer many moons ago in Lebanon, we taught this guy named Hector Guzman. He was super cool and one of my best friends. HE OYM'd US. He was totally prepared for the gospel. So we were teaching him and had him set for a baptism date and everything and then he had a stroke and he dropped off the face of the earth and ended up moving to West york.
Hermana Tolman and I were placed back together 5 weeks ago (obviously) and we just KNEW that one of the reasons we got put back together was to find Hector because the new Spanish branch covers York and so that's our area!! So we have been looking and praying and fasting for FIVE WEEKS to find this man because Hermana Tolman goes home in 9 days and so we really wanted to find him. 
Literally THIS MORNING. 
The Lebanon sisters got a text from this number saying that it was Hector and he was trying to find us. Well, basically we've had everyone on the east side of the mission on HIGH ALERT looking for this man with us, so of course they text us the number... we call the number... Hector answers.... we scream... I start crying.
Anyway. We have an appointment with him tomorrow
It is the biggest miracle. 

The Lord is so good.
I can't believe we just found Hector Guzman.

This week literally rocked. 

That is all.

Hermana Bills