Monday, April 28, 2014

"My yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matt 11:30

Happy Monday!
This week has been extremely good:) Had some awesome storms and tornado warnings (Kearney is tornado central) But nothing to worry about, they pass by just as quick as they come! So many miracles this week! 
First off, I'd like to take a moment of silence to mourn the loss of my puppy and love, Sophie... my parents informed me that she passed away this last week, she was almost 11 years old, so in doggy years that's about 77 years old, and she is VERY much missed :( I love that pooch. I have the comforting feeling though that all dogs go to heaven! :) It's humorous how often we actually get asked that question! Anyway, I love and miss her!
So last p-day was way cool! After emailing, I had time to jump onto family search and take a look at my ancestors again since I love reading about them so much! Turns out I have a Pioneer ancestor who is talked about on the movie Ephraim's Rescue! Her family crossed the Platte river, and guess what? Kearney is right on the Platte river!! I was reading through some past notes this morning when I cam across my notes on Elder Robbins, who is in the quorum of the 70 when he came to visit our mission a while ago. He said to be aware of things that lead us to believe that Heavenly Father knew that we would be serving in this mission right now from centuries ago!! I believe that finding out my ancestors were in all the very spots I am, is sign enough that this is where I am supposed to be and that Heavenly Father has always known that I would be right here, at this time. It's soooo cool :)
We had a strange man come into town this last week and visit all of the members of our branch. He claimed to be a member of the church coming through to check out the university and wanted to visit all the members. Well he didn't treat any of them too nicely and they all did what they could to reach out to him. Some bought him clothes because he claimed his luggage was stolen and others let him stay in their apartments for a night. When they all heard each others stories, nothing really fit right and we've come to believe that he was coming through just trying mooch off of the members... Sister Muasau gave him one of her coats. We met with him for like an hour because he wanted someone to talk to, and it's hard looking back because we loved visiting with him! But it was a little strange.. So how do we love those who we know are trying to use us? It's something I've prayed a lot about this last week. We just need to do all we can to show love and give them the knowledge that we are here to help, and then whatever they decided to do with it is on their heads. Anyway, it was interesting to have him here for a few days.
There is a girl in our branch, Kylee who is leaving tomorrow for her mission! So this last week has been a little crazy for her! She needed us to talk to this last week to help us reassure her that what she is doing is right. It led me to remember the anticipation I felt days before I was leaving on my mission. Crazy stuff! It's a hard time full of LOTS of emotions. We got to talk to her for a good while and I just love her so much and am so excited for her. Reflecting on how I felt, I'm soooo soooo glad to be out here. It was a hard time to leave, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.
We had FHE Tuesday night. LOTS of the YSA attended! We played soccer and football out on the lawn of one of their apartments. Everyone is stressing about finals so it was good for them to let loose! We had one of our less-active members, Sarah, come to the activity! It was SO good to see her there!!!!!! She's reaching out more and making friends! (She's SUPER shy). We had a good time and these kids are becoming such good friends of mine:) They all have their quirks, but we spend a lot of time together and I love them all more than words! It's crazy how fast you can get to love someone!!
On Tuesday, we were driving around trying to see if some less-actives were home. We drove past this apartment complex and I saw two YSA aged people, a girl and guy standing out by his car. He had a liquor bottle out on the hood and without even thinking about it, I pulled over and decided we should talk to them. You could tell they were in a pretty deep conversation, so now thinking about it, it was probably pretty awkward, and I don't even remember how we started the conversation, but the spirit was SO strong! The man wasn't very talkative, he is the one that had the liquor bottle, but we asked her if she believed in God and she said yes, but ever since she had her little boy out of wedlock, she hasn't been able to step foot in a church without crying. Right there on the sidewalk we testified of the power of the atonement. We told her that relief can come to her, and forgiveness! Muasau testified really boldy and the girl started crying. It was powerful. I asked her if she would like to take the lessons and we stood in silence for about a minute until she quietly said "yes". They guy was still standing there silent. She said we could come back the next day at 12:30, we gave her a Book of Mormon and left. WHAT? It was cool.
So we went back on Friday, right at 12:30 knocked the door and for the first time, doubt came in my mind that she might not be home. But the door opened and she had a smile on her face inviting us in. It was kinda awkward at first, but we sat down and she said that she was going to try to read the Book of Mormon, but she didn't know if she was supposed to pray before, and she didn't know how she should read it. We gave her the restoration that day and she asked SO many questions. She recently had a friend that joined the church and moved to Utah, but she was too scared to ask anything about it. She had seen a total change in her friend though. When we got to the end of the lesson and invited her to read Moroni 10:3-5, she stopped at the end and said "woah.. I've heard that before! Only verse 5, but I've heard it before! But I don't know where.... I have this voice in my head, I think it's a mans voice, and I can here him saying it to me, but I don't know where I heard it!" I smiled and told her that that was the Holy Ghost :) Ahhhh it was the coolest thing ever. Her name is Rocio and she told us that when she had walked up to her and her HUSBAND the day before, they were basically having an argument about religion, and then RIGHT then and there we showed up. She has been weighed down SO much by guilt from having her son and it is getting so hard to carry. She told us that after talking to us the day before, she already felt lighter, and that meeting with her this day, she had hope! She knew she could be forgiven if she just kept following us and this church. We invited her to be baptized and she said yes! :):)
Sad thing though... because here and the guy we met are married, we have to turn her over to the family ward sisters. I'm so excited for her and I know she is soooo prepared, but it's sad to turn her over! In a way I feel like that is what I have done my whole mission, turn people over to others, and I've seen them take my people into the waters of baptism, and I've seen them come back to church, AFTER I leave. So it's a great feeling, but it's hard at the same time. But I KNOW the Lord will bless us with someone to build up the branch. I know it will happen!
We "ran into" another LA member that we haven't been able to find this last week too. We were trying an investigator and these two guys were at the park across the street and yelled out "are you Mormons??" So we went over to talk to them and it was Mike! We met him at the PERFECT time, cause he is having a hard time, and the friend that was with him is a new investigator of ours! The Lord's timing-- no one else's timing is better <3
Institute was fun this last week! It started POURING in the middle of institute, so us on the other like 4-5 branch members that were there went out dancing in the rain:) I LOVE THE RAIN!!!!
We had a lesson with our 86 year old investigator Arlys again this last week (We know she wouldn't technically be in YSA, but we have been given permission to work with her) The time that we saw her before we invited her to start reading the Book of Mormon. She is SUPER faithful and reads A BOOK in the bible everyday. So we knew she could do the Book of Mormon. We first helped her out with vacuuming and cleaning when we got there because she was SUPER weak. She has good days and bad days. So we helped her clean and in the middle of sentences, she stops to pray and thank God for our fellowship. We were able to teach her the restoration this last week and half of the plan of salvation. She loved it and is sooo open. It was INCREDIBLE and we know her husband is on the other side helping her along. I have never seen two people so in love. She adores him and talks about him as if he were still here and he's passed a year or so ago. We explained the priesthood to her and offered a priesthood blessing. She is super curious and really wants to know more and said she would love to receive a blessing. I love her <3
Mission prep was INCREDIBLE this last week!! There are 3 branch members preparing to go on their missions within the next few months and so we love working with them:) Sister Muasau and I taught it this week and the weather was again nice enough that we got to hold it outside. We taught the bullet point of "repentance" and then asked them to role play with us. I role played with Bryan and Sister Call and they were the missionaries teaching ME. I pretended I was myself, after my mission, and they found out that I had fallen away after my mission. We figured it would help to bring out the true love and charity that we need to have towards the people we teach. It was so hard and good! While role playing, I pondered myself and where my testimony would be if I came home and had fallen away from the church. I acted as if I came home from my mission, and didn't feel as though I grew as much as I wanted to on my mission, and because of that, I slowly fell away. Sister Call and I were bawling during the role play, it was SO SPIRITUAL and the whole time the thought just kept coming to me that "if I just remember the miracles and feelings I am having right now on my mission, that I will NEVER desire or end up falling away from the church" I believe that was Heavenly Father sending me those thoughts. My testimony has grown so much since I've come out and nothing can shake it. Bryan taught SO WELL. He is going to make an amazing missionary!! It was the coolest experience!
We did lots of service this week! Helped a member in the family ward, Sister Hall paint her kitchen a cool celery green, Helped on of our less-active member Laurie move out of her home because she's moving into a new apartment in a weekish (AND LAURIE CAME TO CHURCH YESTERDAY!!) and we've been making muddy buddy's for "finals treats" to hand out to our investigators and members while they study. It's going to be tougher these next two weeks cause everyone is busy.
We practiced the song that us 4 sisters are singing in stake conference next weekend. I hope it turns out well! It's been a while since I've sung like this before and it's scary how much you can lose if you don't practice your talents :(:(
Game night was sooo fun! The guys in the branch are really trying to teach me some skills!!
Church was the BEST EVER. Our branch president is a pretty well known and prestigious Back Doctor and every sunday we have a branch luncheon. Well his good friend who is a hand doctor and literally sews peoples hands back on (we made a lot of Ammon slaying arm jokes) isn't a member and is also like a gourmet bbqer. So he helped President out and made us the best bbq I've tasted yet for our luncheon yesterday. It was so much fun:) We're spoiled!
I was asked this last week if I could speak in Sacrament yesterday, so I did! It was Kylee's farewell. She got set apart last night (sunday) and flys to the MTC on Wednesday. CRAZY!!! So I got to speak with her and her dad at her farewell. I got to pick my topic and it was hard to pick, but I decided to speak on CHANGES. Cause it feels like in all of their lives, there are so many changes going on right now. It was sooooooo cool to be able to speak because I found out that Kylee is related to the Denkers-- members in my FIRST area back in Omaha  that we lived with for a week or so and reactivated their son and his wife and so they were at our branch yesterday and I got to see them again! I LOVE AND MISS THEM!!! They are doing soooo well:) They were excited to see me too and as soon as Louise saw me, she came up and gave me a hug and said that I was just beaming! They wanted to email my parents and tell them how proud they were of me! I told them that I had been worrying if I was "growing spiritually" lately and they said that I didn't need to worry, because I am. They said my spirit has matured so much. And it meant a lot to me. They answered a prayer of mine. I hope I am changing.
Then after they heard my talk, they said it wasn't a coincidence that I spoke on change, because I had changed so much. I love them.
I got a text right after that asking if I would give a training on Wednesday. Muasau and I just laughed because I'm constantly getting asked to do things. It's weird! But I'm humbly grateful because by doing so, I'm noticing my growth and I'm able to help and reach out to others.
My training is on Member and Missionaries (M&M's) and I had the BEST study today getting ready for it. I LOVE Alma 8.
It's been a great great week. I love it. Soooo excited to see the Weston's at stake conference on Saturday and Sunday!!
Mission life is the best. And my testimony of my Savior continues to strengthen each and every day out here.
Elder Park returns from his mission in a week and a half and it's super causing me to think about how FAST time goes by.... It's scary!!
Have a terrific week! Read your scriptures! Know that I love you! Just keep swimming and know that even dogs go to heaven, and that change ISN'T the only constant like famous quote says, but that THE GOSPEL, OUR SAVIOR, OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN, THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS and THE ANSWERS TO OUR PRAYERS ARE ALWAYS CONSTANT!!!!! And the Holy Ghost is our constant companion. We are all on missions-- so share the gospel so your friends burdens can be lifted off of them, just like Rocio's. <3
I love you all!
-Sister Checketts
(sorry no pictures, I have to get a new picture thingy)

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