Monday, November 30, 2015

Week 25: Tis the Season for Service!

We did a lot of service this week which was really fun!  We helped a member clean out her whole basement, and it was a big task!  She has two dogs that she absolutely loves and prepares gourmet meals for! She reminds me of Nana in that way! She fed us dinner and seemed to really appreciate our efforts.  We spent an afternoon at the Hind’s making pies for Thanksgiving. We made a pecan pie, pumpkin pie, banana cream pie, and apple pie.  It’s great getting to know different ward members – I’ve learned something from each one of them!

Thanksgiving was a big day.  We ate at the Hind's house and it was really nice!  We had cranberry sauce, and they thought I was crazy because I had never had it with turkey before.  I told them we always serve gravy with our turkey, and they said, “what, are you from Mars?”  I guess cranberry sauce is a big deal in the South!  They read out of a gratitude box that they had been adding to for the whole month of November.  I love Thanksgiving because it’s a great reminder of all that we have to be grateful for.  In Sunday school we talked about being grateful through times of trial, and I love that having a grateful heart no matter what is going on in our lives can make us happy!  Brother Hind was saying how grateful he was that his family moved all the way across the country with him for his job.  He said, "Here we are on Thanksgiving, all alone- well I guess we have the sisters here, but that is because they are all alone too"!  It gave us all a pretty good laugh, but it is a wonderful thing that no matter where you go you will have a ward family. 

We ate at an investigators house later that night, and it was so fun to be able to sit down and just really talk with them!  Their family moved here to Atlanta from NYC and it was so cool being able to hear all of their experiences.  It’s amazing to see how different life experiences help us grow spiritually whether we realize it or not.  Well, I missed being with all of you at Thanksgiving, but I’m treasuring each new experience I’m having.  I’m thankful for each one of you, and I love you!

Love, Sister Hunter

 Moriah is just about ready to leave on her mission!

 Loving learning how to bake pies!

 This is one incredible lady and incredible Mom.

Cleaning out a members basement!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Week 24: Another Great Week!

I can't believe it is almost Thanksgiving!  I feel like it was Halloween yesterday.  It has been getting quite a bit colder and the leaves are absolutely beautiful!  I need to get better at taking pictures.  We went to the temple on Tuesday and had Zone Training!  It is always such a highlight to be able to attend the temple. It is one of the few places where I can feel totally at peace.  We had a device put in our car that tracks how fast we drive and gives us warnings and different things if we go too fast.  I am pretty sure we are one of the last missions to get them. I guess it is a good thing though! They said there have been a lot fewer car accidents since they have started putting them in mission cars. 

We had some great lessons this week!  We had the opportunity to teach a man who had been taught by other missionaries in the past.  He actually stopped us in the grocery store.  He is hilarious!  It is so interesting to hear so many different views about the gospel.  He was telling us about a theory in which Moroni was an alien and all this crazy stuff.  Hearing all these absurd things people think about the church has been very interesting, and I am really grateful for the testimony that I have.  When people try to tell us differently it has no affect on me because of the truths that I already know.  He expressed to us that he feels like there is just something missing in the church that he attends now, and he is excited to read the Book of Mormon!  Hopefully he will! 

We were also able to teach our investigator that came to church last week.  We read the first chapter of 1st Nephi with her, and she loved it!  We got talking about how we are all so different, how Laman and Lemuel are so different from Nephi, and how as a mother she can see so many differences in her kids.  It is so cool that we can relate the scriptures to our lives. We went over on Sunday to wish her daughter a happy birthday.  She just turned four, and she is the sassiest little girl I have ever met!  Right before we left she got all up in her brothers face (who is like 3 years older than her) and was all "You betta shut yo mouth boy!"  I was dying, haha, she is hilarious!  I feel so lucky that I get to be part of so many amazing peoples lives! 

Some of the verses that I have been thinking a lot about this week are in chapter 18 of 1st Nephi.  I love reading about Nephi and his family because I feel like I always pick up something new.  I love 18:21 - I have been able to see that when I try to rely on myself I feel anxious, worried, and stressed.  When I rely on the Lord I am able to feel that "great calm,” knowing that I am His, and that He won’t give me a challenge that I can’t overcome.  Missionary work would be impossible without the help of the Lord.  I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Love, Sister Hunter 

  This is a Pepper Plant that an older man gave to us after we stopped and talked to him when we were riding our bikes. He didn't want to learn about the gospel, but he gave us this plant!  

Our temple trips are the best!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Week 23: You are Called to be YOU!

This week has been great!  We had a Sisters Conference on Thursday- it was so fun to see all of the sisters I've been companions with!  It was cool to be with just the sisters and to really get to know one another.  Sister Foote said, "God doesn't compare us.  He loves us because we are His."  I loved that because sometimes it is easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves to other missionaries.  It was a really good reminder!  One of the sisters said, "The only person we should compare ourselves to is who we were yesterday.”  Another thing that I loved was when President Foote said, "You are called to be YOU!"  I love that because every one has different strengths and weaknesses, and that is the way God made us! 

After the conference I got to go on splits with Sister Nau, and it was SOOO awesome!  It seriously was so cool to be back together!  We are still holding out hope that one day we will be companions again. We went with Moriah, a girl from the ward who is about to leave on her mission, and taught one of our investigators, (the older lady I wrote about last week), and it was such a cool experience.  Seeing how much we have both grown since being out here on our mission was so awesome.  Spending the day with Sister Nau was one of the best parts of the week! 

Sister Barrett and I taught one of our investigators on Saturday, and we talked about the Plan of Salvation.  She has five little kids, and it was amazing to see how much it meant to her to know that she could be with them forever.  It is so amazing to see the joy that the gospel can bring into peoples lives!  They came to church the next day and she was like, "Normally I feel like the odd person out with all of these kids, but everyone jumped in and helped me out like it was so normal!"  It is so great how the gospel can bring a whole new light into someone’s life.  

On Saturday there was a huge stake youth activity at the new stake center.  There was a crazy police chase that started all the way in Douglasville, and the fugitives ended up running into the church.  I guess they ended up being locked in a room and the cops were called.  The police came, there was some shooting, and I guess (and I’m not surprised) that it really freaked out all the youth!  There was a girl in the ward who invited her friend and she was like, "She probably never wants to come back!"  Haha, it was good that they were all safe though!  They weren't allowed to have church there the next day because they needed to investigate more, so the YSA combined with our ward and it was so fun to see a lot of familiar faces again! 

We had an appointment yesterday right after church, and our Relief Society president drove us out there. Our investigator ended up not being there! Our RS president said something that was so profound to me. I think she may have been quoting Elder Holland, "The work of salvation wasn't easy when Christ was on the earth, why would it be any easier now?"  I loved that because it is so true!  She is a great lady.  I love being a missionary - the good, the bad, the funny, the sad, and the happy.  It is all part of the experience!  Thanks for all of the love and prayers and support from home - it keeps me going! 

 Going on splits - loved being back with Sister Nau!

Yes, it is possible to ride bikes in skirts!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Week 22: Georgia, the Buckle of the Bible Belt!

I can't believe another week has gone by - time seriously flies!  Things are going well here in Whitewater.  The weather is getting colder, and the rain keeps pouring down!  We have had to be super strategic with our car share.  One of the highlights of the week was teaching a referral from the Peach Tree City sisters.  He was introduced to the missionaries in 2012 and is SUPER busy with work so he hasn't met with them in a long time.  When he came to meet with us he had his Book of Mormon in hand and was telling us how even though he hasn't read it all the way through he knows that it must be from God. It was so cool! He is super genuine and we are excited to keep teaching him! 

We have a new ward missionary who moved in recently and is going to be so awesome!  Our other two sister ward missionaries aren't really active... so it’s going to be so nice to have an involved ward missionary!  She taught a lesson with us to Isaura and her girls and her testimony was so powerful, it was awesome!  We taught a lesson to a member of the ward who is originally from Japan and married to a man from Alaska.  Her brother only speaks Japanese and he is here for the next couple months.  They want us to teach him to help prepare him to go on a mission!  He hasn't been active for a long time, and she had to translate everything we said. In my head I was thinking, "This is seriously probably one of the reasons I took Japanese in high school and now I am here and I’ve blown it!"  All I could say was, "Hi, my name is sister Hunter,” and even then he didn't really understand me! His brother-in-law gave me a gospel vocabulary book, so now I really have to brush up on my Japanese!

On Saturday we had a really cool lesson.  We have been visiting this older lady whenever we were in the area and she has said, "I'm always going to be Baptist, but you can keep dropping by because it may be Jesus trying to tell me something!"  It has been cool to see how her heart has slowly softened over time, and a few weeks ago she said, "The more you girls keep coming by, the more I want to read out of the Book of Mormon."  This last visit, as we were talking about the plan of salvation and baptism, it was so wonderful to see her change of heart.  She promised us that she would read this week, and she said she would pray about it and if she got an answer, she said she would be baptized! 

We went finding and knocked on the door of a lady who seemed super nice. She called her husband over and they both seemed really kind, until they started talking and began slamming everything we believe… but with the biggest smiles... it was so weird!  I felt like I was being chastised by the male, Baptist version of Professor Umbridge!  There are quite a few preachers who teach a bunch of anti, and they must have gotten their false information from one of them.  They gave us a book to read, and after we left, Sister Barrett and I were trying to make ourselves laugh at the situation.  Looking back, even though it was annoying, it was pretty funny.  I just bore him my simple testimony and told him that I knew everything we teach is true, not because I grew up in the church, but because I prayed to receive my answer.  That same night I burned my tongue on a piece of fried chicken, and I haven't been able to taste much since!

Yesterday we got asked at the last minute to teach Relief Society and it was on “Feed my Sheep” from the Ezra Taft Benson manual.  I think the underlying theme for everything we do in the gospel, from bringing new people into the gospel and reaching out to less active members, is love.  Seeing people as the Savior sees them, and doing everything in our power to help them feel loved was the main focus of the lesson.  I love this quote from President Monson, "We have the responsibility to look at our friends, our associates, our neighbors this way.  Again, we have the responsibility to see individuals not as they are but rather as they can become.  I would plead with you to think of them in this way."  Everyone has so much potential and it takes the pure love of Christ to notice that potential and help others reach it.  It was a great lesson because the sisters participated so much!  They are awesome.  I am sort of losing my voice because of a cold, so I sounded like Voldemort while I was teaching, but luckily I didn't have to talk too much!

Love you all!  Thank you so much for the support and prayers!  I couldn't do this without them!  

Love, Sister Hunter 

Saying goodbye to the minivan!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Week 21: Happy Fall Ya'll!

The weather has been amazing this week!  This morning it was pouring buckets of rain, but the other parts of the week were awesome!  P-day last week was fun, we went to email in Senoia and walked around all of the little shops.  It sort of reminded me of Gardner Village!  Then we ate lunch at Dickey's.  Haha, everyone here loves that place.  I remember when we went to eat there after it came to AF and we all thought it was so weird. 

We made cookies for an FHE we were having later that night, and we burnt two out of the three batches, which was pretty unfortunate!  We had an FHE at our relief society president’s house with one of the families we are teaching, and we had a fun lesson on testimonies. We went around (thanks to CJ and Audrey's good idea from Sunday School) and said our 'highs' and 'lows' of the day.  We also played Concentration, which was a lot of fun!  It was hilarious to see our relief society president’s husband try and get the hang of it while playing with six girls!   We had to ride the bikes that day in the pouring rain, and I had one of those cheap rain ponchos on.  Sister Barrett looked over at me, started laughing so hard, and said I looked just like the "plastic hulk" with the wind blowing the poncho behind me - good times!
We had the ward Trunk or Treat on Tuesday, which was so fun!  We helped decorate the church and a lot of people ended up coming. Sister Barrett and I dressed up as "Senior Sister Missionaries,” but everyone thought we were librarians... haha!  Mom, when I look at the picture of me with the glasses I feel like I am your twin, I look just like you with your reading glasses!  I loved seeing all of the pictures of Kelsi and Holly’s kids dressed up on Halloween!  We had to be in our apartment by 7:00 pm on Halloween night.  We had a few ward families come by our apartment for Trick or Treating.  That day it was exciting to see the Blue Angels doing an air show close to our apartment. We were on our bikes all day, so we could hear and see them flying above us all afternoon. 

We did a lot of finding this week, and I love that we get to talk to so many different kinds of people.  We were talking to this one lady who used to live right across from an LDS church building, and she was telling us how elders used to stop by all the time.  She was hilarious- she works four jobs and is moving to ATL so we will probably never see her again, but she said she might start reading the B.O.M again!  I love it when people ask us the craziest questions like, "Do you believe in arranged marriage in your church?"  Haha, we got a kick out of that one, or "Do you believe that everyone in your church has the mark of the devil?" whaaaat? 

We had a really neat lesson with a recent convert from the ward and his neighbor.  She is an older lady who has been a Baptist her whole life.  When we explained the Book of Mormon to her she thought that is was really interesting, and when we told her she could pray about it to see if it was true she thought that was the coolest thing!  She is really open (which isn't the case for most Baptists down here), and when we told her that we have a living prophet on the earth today she was like, "That is so amazing that there is a prophet to guide the people today!”  We are excited to go back this week to see her!  We were knocking at an apartment complex later that day and right before we went in for the night we knocked on a door and two young girls answered.  They called their mom over we all prayed together.  The mom instantly burst into tears, and we could tell that the Spirit really touched her.  She said that she and her daughters really needed that prayer.  I feel so lucky that Heavenly Father lets me be part of moments like that!  

Thank you for all of the support and prayers from home!  I can feel the strength that they give me!  I see so many small, tender mercies every day, and I know that Heavenly Father is watching out for me.  Being on a mission is not easy, but it is worth it.  It’s funny how most good things in life are like that. Well, I hope you all have a great week! 

Love, Sister Hunter 

 This one's for you, Mom!

 Enjoying the town of Senoia

 We thought we were so clever dressing up as "Senior Sister Missionaries," instead we just looked like librarians!

 Helmet selfie

Thanks, Kelsi, for the Harry Potter World treats!