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 

Turkey and Tinsel

Yay for holidays! I love them so much. I love families who let missionaries come over and be part of their family traditions. Thanksgiving was such a blessing to me. I was worried that it would be hard to be away from all of you on such an important day. But I was blessed with the confirming witness that I'm still in the right place. I need to be here with these people. And I am so incredibly blessed! 
We were able to spend Thanksgiving with two wonderful member families that I love. At the first home, we ate, played catch phrase and scattegories, and then ate some more. I did the dishes for them just as I usually do, and then we talked about Jesus and all of our blessings and went to our next appointment. The second family was incredible as well. We ate. They had extended family over that I'd never met, so I got to make new friends. I love that.  Then we played the Great Del Mootie (or however you spell that). That made me a little bit homesick. Grandma will be happy to hear that I was Del Mootie for 3 rounds in a row!! I was also low scum... but we won't dwell on that. They played a really fun way, where if you are ever the low scum you have to get a sticker on your face. Haha it was so funny! They had these "babies' first achievements" stickers. We were all laughing so hard. It was great.
Then the elders entertained us all with some magic tricks! It was awesome. Elder George told me he'd teach me how to be a magician. So prepare to be amazed! 
The elders shared a thought about love and service and then we all went home. It was a great day! 

The whole rest of this week was very busy as well. We were able to break the record for lessons taught in this area in one week! We were en fuego! It felt so good to be out working so hard. Training is hard because you're in the house all morning! Our schedule looks like this:
6:30: Wake up, exercise
7:00: get ready 
8:00 personal study
9:00: companionship study
10:00: training
11:00: lunch
12:00 language
That's every day! I can't even imagine how much more work we could get done if we didn't have those extra two hours of study. I love them, though. They make for good companionship bonding time. 
But anyway. Just out here breaking records! :) Super fun.

I love sharing my testimony with people. Hermana Landa and I set a goal during weekly planning that every single time we leave the house, we won't come back until we've received a potential investigator or a new investigator. Whether that's a referral or someone we OYM and they say that we can give them a call and teach them... we've got to feel like the work is going somwhere before we go home. It's been incredible to see the Lord's blessings for us. Literally every time we walk out of the house, we've been able to find at least one person. 

The other day we were sitting in the library updating our progress record. I was making simple conversation with the woman sitting next to me, trying to think of a nonthreatening way to share the gospel with her. Little did I know that the Lord had everything under control. As she stands up to leave and I start feeling a little disheartened because I hadn't said anything, she quickly turns around and says to me, "I'm sorry if this is weird, but I've just got to tell you. I don't know you at all, but I see so much of our Savior Jesus Christ in you, and it's so beautiful."
And at first I was just choked up. I couldn't even get myself to say thank you. But somehow the Lord grabbed the words from my brain and put them in my mouth and said, "hurry up and speak!" So I invited her to take the lessons with us. She said yes. It was so awesome. I still get emotional thinking about it.

Another cool experience was at church yesterday. This member that we'd never met came up and told us how she'd been less active for many years, but now she was going through a divorce and wanted to come back to church and have her daughter be baptized. 
How often does that happen?
I asked her if there was anything that I could do for her, expressed my love, gave her our phone number, and set a time to meet with her and her daughter. It was so wonderful! I love the Lord's blessings.

This whole process is such a miracle. We're working very closely with the Lord on that one. 

This week we were also able to go on exchanges. It was the first time that I stayed in Lebanon for an exchange! It was interesting. I felt so much pressure! "don't look bad in front of the STL's..." It was a great day! We met a man named Jose on the side of the street, had a prayer with him and helped it to feel and recognize the holy ghost. We were also able to help a less active member realize that missionaries are normal! and pretty fun, too, sometimes! 
It was a good day :) 

On Wednesday we finally got snow. It's all melted now, but it was so beautiful coming down. These big fat flakes... ugh. So pretty. I made like 5 snowmans. (yup. That's grammar!) We had a snowball fight during district lunch. I totally dominated (just kidding, my aim might have been slightly off target...)
We were able to find someone to teach while we were shoveling our driveway. It was super cool! I love mission stuff. So cool. 

Lots of good stuff happened this week. Hermana Landa and I started this thing where the first thing we do when the alarm goes off in the morning is to say one positive thing about each other and then to pray. We just kind of have this attitude towards each other. It's never destructive or anything. We get along really well. I love her. I just think that our companionship needs more positivity, that's all. So we've been doing that. She's complimented things that I never even noticed about myself. It's really been a fun experiment. I've grown to love her even more through this as well. We have so much fun and we're working really hard.
I'm so blessed to be out here.

I love December. Happy December everyone. I'm so excited for this opportunity to share Christ's gospel this Christmas season.

Thank you for all that yinz do for me!
Love you guys!

-Hermana Bills 

Merry Thanksgiving from Kitty and Squeaks :)

First things first! 
Happy birthday to my best friend and my bae, my other half, the one I share my fourth a brain with.... Vanilla Spice! Welcome to the adult world where they no longer add "teen" on to the end of your age. It's all downhill from here. Might as well just check yourself into an old folks home right now, honey ;) 
Just kidding. I seriously love you! Happy birthday! Sorry I can't be there with you to snuggle you and cook you bacon but just know that I will be sending you warm fuzzy thoughts all week this week. You're my greatest Thanksgiving blessing  (shhh, don't tell the others...) 

This week was so fun. It was a little boring toward the end there because Hermana Landa and I both got really sick and so the missionary work was pretty rough. But we had a funny experience on Saturday. 
So Hermana Landa is a crazy cat lady and she just loves cats. So she changed our text alert so that it would meow every time we got a text. Well, on Saturday we were in the library updating our progress record for our meeting on Sunday morning and there's this black guy sitting at the computer right between us. So I'm on the left, then there's this black guy to my right, and then Hermana Landa. 
Anyway. So she forgot to turn the sound on the phone off, and it goes off in the middle of the library. "Meow."
The guys eyes just about bugged out of his head as she reaches down into her purse. When she pulls out the phone instead of a cat, he just busts out laughing. 
A few minutes later, I sneeze. I've just got this tiny little sneeze that sounds like a mouse and so the guy just like starts laughing all over again. "You girls are trouble." he tells us. We all laugh together. 
A few minutes later, he gets up to leave, kind of chuckling and shaking his heads. "I'm never gonna forget you ladies. Kitty and squeaks." he nicknamed us. 
His parting words of wisdom were, "Never change." 
Hahaha it was the funniest thing. The guy just couldn't handle how awesome we were. ;) 

Greg was baptized this week! He wasn't our investigator, but he's our friend. His baptism was amazing. Everything went really well. His parents even came, although they're not members and don't want to take the lessons or anything. It was so sweet. 
His girlfriend and her family came as well. There was also a pretty good turn out from the ward. Our zone leaders were there, and the hershey elders from our district came, too. It was great! 
Greg asked me to play the hymns and stuff. We were lucky because we have a player piano and so they didn't have to suffer through me trying to pick out the notes. But I was doing prelude and stuff because I thought it would only be for a few minutes. But the elders were running late and so I actually ended up playing for about 15 to 20 minutes. It wouldn't have been that bad except for the fact that I only know 3 hymns and I wasn't smart enough to turn on the player piano and just do prelude that way... so I just kind of struggled through and played the same 3 hymns several times over. By the third round or so, people were starting to catch on and laugh at me. It was really funny and embarrassing. I need to learn some more songs on the piano... 
But Greg still said thank you anyway. He's so cool! 

He was confirmed in sacrament meeting yesterday. It's been so cool because the last 2 confirmations that we've had, we have had a baby blessing right before it. Both times. So that was really cool.
Sebastian was also able to bless the sacrament for the first time yesterday. It was so tender. I just kind of welled up. He is doing so well. He messed up a couple of times giving the prayer, but it was all okay. When he came back down to sit by us after sacrament, he leaned over and whispered to me, "I love the sacrament."
It was the coolest. 

We had another really cool experience this week. We had a member present lesson all set up with one of our progressing investigators - Mario. He's so cool. We were going to discuss moving his baptism date. We get there, sit down, start asking him how he's been. For some reason I was not only struggling really hard to form sentences, but I also couldn't understand ANYTHING he was telling us. It was so frustrating! Especially since that's not normal at all. Usually I am able to communicate so well! But something just wasn't working out. Luckily, I thought, we had our member there and he was just kind of translating everything. I was still frustrated, though. Then, while we were saying the opening prayer, it hit me! He had said that his daughter wasn't home because his grandson was in the hospital! There was no woman in the house! WE WERE BREAKING A RULE!! D: So when we finished the prayer, I apologized, explained why we couldn't stay, we set a return appointment and left. I felt so bad! But while we were driving home, I realized... 
I couldn't understand anything he said because (even though it was unintentional) we were breaking a rule! We were being disobedient, and the Lord could not bless us with the gift of tongues because we were not following the rules! Even though we didn't realize at first! 
It was just SUCH a testimony builder to me to see how much the Lord actually does for us in our lives. How much having the spirit there really does affect the lesson. It's so easy to take for granted, I think. Especially as a missionary where it's something that you just kind of... get used to having, I guess. It was such a beautiful reminder to me that the Lord does so much for us in this work, and how weak I really am without him. It was a great experience! 

We're still working really hard! The weather in PA is pretty bipolar. One day it will be 14 degrees and biting cold and windy... the next day it will be 50 and humid and rainy and warm. What's up with that? 

Anyway! I'm so excited for this Thanksgiving week. I am sad to be away from home and missing all of you guys but I also know that I'm in the right place right now and that makes me really happy! I have so many things to be grateful for in my life and we are lucky to have a chance this week to try and count all of our blessing. I challenge all of you to try it out! Bet you can't name them all! 
I'm so grateful for the gift of our Savior Jesus Christ. I love Him so much and I am trying every day to become like Him; to show others His love for them through my actions. I am so happy and blessed to have this opportunity to be His representative. It is so incredible! I love each of you. Thank you for your support. Seriously! I mean it! :) 

I wish I had more to write but those are the highlights from my week this week and plus I'm out of time on the computer. Hopefully will have some awesome stories to share with you next week! 


-Hermana Bills 

Well, It's Definitely Winter!

You're awesome. Be happy 

Every week with Hermana Landa gets better and better. We are best friends and I love her to infinity and beyond. We have so much fun. She is also the hardest worker. I admire her beyond all description. She is teaching me so much. 

I had been struggling this week as a trainer. Feeling really inadequate and kind of blaming myself for stupid mistakes and such. It was really self-destructive. I was talking to the STL's one night on the phone and telling them about how I felt, and seeking guidance. One of the sweet sisters explained to me how trainers are picked - the AP's and the President fast and pray before choosing the trainers. It's a very spiritual process. It really is the Lord who calls people to train. 
Having that knowledge has really strengthened me as I try to combat the negative feelings coming in from the Adversary. I know that this is what the Lord wants, and if it's what He wants then it's what I'll do. 
"I'll be what you want me to be..." 

This week I finished a journal and started another one! I write a lot. I want to be able to remember everything when I get back home and I just don't know if the weekly letters will be enough for me. I'm kind of greedy. My memory is also not the best, so I know I will forget the bulk of the things which are not written. And so, I write. 

We had zone training this week which was awesome. We learned about how to better work with the ward. Our Bishop wants the main focus of our work right now to be in Retention and Reactivation, so we are focusing on less actives and recent converts. As we do what the bishop asks, I know that he will trust us more and more, the ward will improve, and we will receive blessings for doing things the Lord's way. Awesome how that works, right? 

Our investigator Joe has been progressing really well. I actually just saw him a few minutes ago, he is in the library reading some books. He's a funny guy. He loves to chat with us and he adores the Gospel Principles manual. We are still struggling to get him more interested in the Book of Mormon . He is working towards his baptismal date and he LOVES coming to church, which is incredible. He says the gospel brings him peace. 
We have Sebastian fellow-shipping him and kind of taking charge. It's good that he's in a position of responsibility in the ward now. I told him that falling away is not an option. He said I don't need to worry ;) He has passed the sacrament the last two weeks. He is reading in his scriptures and making friends in the ward. He is such a good kid. He is the biggest blessing in my life. 
Waleska is also doing really well. She is preparing to go to the temple some time soon. We're so excited for her. 

Merv is doing really well on cutting back his beers every night. I am still struggling to feel motivated to exercise in the morning. If anyone has any good tips, I welcome every single one of them! PLEASE! 

Matt is doing so well. He's going through a crazy amount of stuff right now but he still just feels his faith growing and growing. He says that he knows there are NO coincidences, and that everything happens for a reason. He tells us all the time how grateful he is to be headed down the right path. He is incredible. He's come so far. 

This week we were blessed to attend the Relief Society Christmas party. It was a little early, I know. But it was so touching. The theme was "Angels among us" and they had people reading off anonymous experiences of simple service. It was so touching. I'm such a baby at those types of things. I cry all the time. I just love it when people choose to follow Christ and choose to be changed. Service is so fun and awesome and I love when other people express gratitude for service they have received from others because it is so tender. 

A member family took Hermana Landa and I out to eat at La Placita. It's authentic Mexican food and it makes me grin like nothing else. You should all come to Lebanon JUST to eat there. Plus there's this little Mexican man that works there and he is a hoot. So that was a highlight from this week. 

The work is going so well here in Lebanon! Although sometimes I struggle to know where to go and what to do, I feel so close to the Lord and I know he is helping us out here. 

We have so many funny stories. I will try to remember to tell some of them next week! I'm having so much fun!

Thank you, everyone, for your love and support. I hope you feel mine for you as well. You are incredible people! 


-Hermana Bills


Hey everyone! Happy November! And happy 4 months to me yesterday.  

Guess what? I'm done training! Today is my very first day as a non trainee. 
Guess what else? I got a call from my President yesterday... and I am now a trainer! Now, who thought that was a good idea, we can't really be sure. But ready or not, here it comes. 
The good thing about this whole situation is that I get to go to Pittsburgh tonight. Road trip! 
The bad thing about this is that they've asked me to train someone, and we all know how much of a struggler I am. 
I am just a little bit nervous, that's all. 
After we got the call, all I felt was excitement. But then somehow fear managed to creep it's way in and that was no bueno. I started getting really scared. "I can't be in charge of an area. I can't train a missionary. I'm not good enough for this job."
Satan is very good at what he does. 
Luckily I have one of the best district leaders in the whole world. Seriously Elder George just blows my mind with his quiet example of Christlike leadership. We were at a dinner appointment with a family in our ward and the Elders were giving the dinner thought. Elder George started sharing 2 Nephi 8:12 and something just stuck out so powerfully: "Who art thou that thou shouldst be afraid?" 
It hit me like a train.
Elder George shared about what impressed him from this passage of scripture was the phrase "Who art thou?" because he knew the answer was, "I am a child of God." 
We have so much potential to become so much more than we are right now if we will just have faith in Him and His Son. I know that. I know that if I just put my faith in Him, I can be a great trainer and that I can help this new Sister  to be a great missionary. He trusts me and I will not let him down!

So... This week was a little rough because Pennsylvania is weird. Different towns celebrate Halloween on different days. Lebanon had trick or treating on the 30th. But it was a mission rule that we had to be in by 6 on the 30th and the 31st. I was so bummed! It was really hard, because you just really want to be out proselyting! 
Luckily, we were able to get a lot done around the apartment. It's very very clean.  I bet the new Sister will appreciate that. 

In other news, Hermana Tolman said goodbye to everyone this week. Saying goodbye to Samantha and Matt was especially powerful. They have come so far already in the past six weeks. They came to church last Sunday and were also able to make it to the ward trunk or treat on Wednesday. The boys had a great time and Matt was even able to remember and make friends with some of the members. We swung by their house one morning to snatch a picture with them and they were on their way out the door. 
Matt was finally able to see his kids for the first time in a really long time. His ex wife is kind of... mean? And doesn't want him to see his kids. So that has been hard for him. But he told us, "You guys are starting to freak me out. I read the book and I come to church and I finally get to see my kids." 
They told us about how their families are both freaking out that they've been investigating the mormon church, but they don't care. They love it. They looked at us and said, "thank you for finding us." and I got warm chills all up and down my body. It was so powerful. I almost started bawling haha. 
I know that there are people out here that are looking for what we have.

Another family that was hard for Hermana Tolman to say goodbye to was Xiomara and Ismar's family. Xiomara, Yolanda, Waleska and Angel all brought presents for Hermana Tolman to tell her how much they love her. We went over for dinner and a lesson and we spent time with Ismar and Ismael playing "don't let the balloon touch the floor". It was so funny. We were laughing so hard. Then, we were taking pictures and saying goodbye and Xiomara was just so emotional. I mean, wasn't even saying goodbye and I got emotional. So we were all messes. We love them so much.

We've been working this week with one of our less actives named Mervin. He's the coolest person ever. We love him. But he likes his beer, and we've been trying to help him with that. He says that he can't sleep unless he drinks at night. So here's the deal I made with him.
I've been struggling a lot lately to have the energy to get up right at 6:30 and do cardio like a good missionary is supposed to do. It's hard. I don't like be energetic that early. Frankly, I think it should be illegal.  But I knew that something needed to change because unless I was willing to get up and exercise, I was not being a 100% obedient missionary.
So I made a deal with Mervin that if he cut back on his drinking, I would wake up at 6:30 every single day and do cardio.
Haha, he agreed to that. He laughed and said, "Just think about how bad you'll feel when you come back next time and you haven't done it." and I told him, "You underestimate me. You keep your end of the deal and I'll keep mine." 
And I have done it every day so far! So we'll see next week how Mervin has been doing. 

I would seriously do anything for these people though. I love them so much. The ward, the investigators... these people are my family. They're incredible. I've never felt so powerfully the willingness to sacrifice anything and everything for anyone ever before in my life... It's crazy how the love of Christ just comes into your heart and radiates out of you. It's kind of a nice feeling. 
When I first got out on a mission, I asked Hermana Tolman what the best thing about serving a mission was, and what the worst thing was. Because really, I didn't know.
I think I know now, though. It's that love. It's the best and it's the worst! It's the best because you get so close to the people and you do so much for them and you are able to build these lasting relationships that are priceless. But it's the worst because I am not good at goodbyes. Tomorrow, half of our district is leaving... and really, half of our zone. In a few transfers, I will leave this area and then I'll go to a new one and then I'll leave that area and go somewhere else... and all along the way there will be these heart-wrenching goodbyes!  and Ihate goodbyes! Haha. They're so rough.
But in the wise words of Tara Lynne Wells; "If you're comfortable somewhere, you can't do any growing!"
How true that is. 

So I'm hoping that's all these tears are this week...
Growing pains. 

I guess we shall see...

-Hermana Bills