Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December 29, 2014


Can you believe that 2014 is days away from being over? I sure can't. Time has just flown by. This week has been good. It was hard to find people because they weren't home, had family over, and/or were too stressed out with Christmas and wanted absolutely nothing to do with us. Great, huh? We pretty much have been able to see members the whole week (mainly because they're the only ones that let us in and they love us) and we've been inviting them all to fast with us. So the AZMM is going to experience miracles in the next couple of months. President Jenkins and the MLC have a vision and a plan to double the amount of baptisms in March 2015. Last year we had 50, so next year we want 100. Amazing?? Yes. We're dubbing it "Miracle March." In order for this happen, things need to take place in January and February. So, in January our goal is to find 1,500 new investigators. We're inviting all of our members to participate in a mission wide fast. With our combined fasts and faith, miracles are going to happen! It's been really cool personally inviting members to join us because it's something that they feel they can do. It's really exciting! Both of our bishops invited us to come up and invite everyone to fast during ward business. That was probably the best idea ever. Miracles are going to happen.... The wards have been slowly improving and I feel like we're going to start seeing some fruit soon!

Christmas was crazy. We (the sisters I live with) decided to make Christmas Eve special. We tried to reenact our family's Christmas traditions to the best of our abilities. One thing we did was get our mattresses off of our bunk beds and placed them sardine style "underneath" the Christmas tree. Talk about a party. We've been too lazy to move them back. The living room area is our new bedroom. We drank Martinelli's and made crazy time-lapse videos on our iPads. We woke up at our usual 6:30 to open presents. That was crazy. I never really knew how much the members loved us until like 5 gave us really nice gifts! I got a sweet "Arizona" shirt and a microfiber towel for my hair. And these gifts came from members that I wasn't particularly close with. #somuchlove #immagonnacry We had Christmas breakfast with Brother Smith and his crazy family and got to call home from there. That was nice, except for the darn dog. She wanted to take all my face time away! #punk We spent the rest of the afternoon with Bishop Lingard and his family. We played with their crazy presents. They got these things called Poppers (Their son Michael read the packaging wrong and thought they were "Poopers". LOL). They're squeezable toys that you can put a little foam ball into. Then you can squeeze them and cause instant fake death. We had a blast shooting people. Our evening was spent at the lights. Every night there are performances and the entire mission was the entertainment for Christmas night! Imagine 240 missionaries singing Christmas songs after only practicing 1 as an entire group..... Don't worry, members told us we sounded like angels. :) It was a really amazing experience being on stage with 240 of the best people on the entire earth. I couldn't help but cry because of the intensity of the Spirit. It was probably one of the most memorable nights of my mission. Then we stayed up late working at the lights. It was a great day! :)
Here's a really awesome experience from a couple of days ago from working at the lights. We were in front of the temple by the fountain where the white nativity statue is found. We were having a hard time finding people to have a meaningful conversation with. We were having lots of small talk going on and picture snapping out the wazoo, but not what we really wanted. As we were stepping aside to let a big crowd through I saw a young mother just staring at the temple. I could tell that she was struggling with something with the "deep in thought" look pasted on her face. After waiting a minute, I couldn't wait anymore and we started to talk with her. Her name is Amber and she got baptized in January of this year. We were just getting to know her and she kept talking about how she couldn't wait to go inside the temple. She would say that over and over and over again. As missionaries we're so excited for her and were congratulating her because she could go in a month. Then she would look troubled again and gaze at the temple. I didn't know what to do and she didn't appear to be open to what we had to say. So we offered to take her picture. Afterward she just opened up and said that she doesn't feel worthy to go to the temple because she doesn't have a "calling" like a teacher or like the other members in her ward. She started crying as she told us that and my heart broke for her. The Spirit swooshed in then and used me as a mouth piece to comfort her. I told her about how as a missionary I really wanted to come out and baptize like crazy. After a few months I didn't see any results. Did I not have enough faith? Do I need to be more obedient? Why am I not seeing more success from my labors? I got really discouraged. I was following the counsel of my mission president and the guidelines found in Preach My Gospel. What was I doing wrong? Then I told her how the Lord comforted me and let me know that I was successful. Our success isn't determined solely by the number of baptisms we get. It's determined by the life we live. We're successful if we have the spirit with us and he's working through us. I told her that her success (or worthiness) as a member wasn't determined by the calling she had. Her worthiness was determined by if she has the Spirit. You can know if you're worthy and clean if you feel the Spirit because the Spirit cannot dwell in unclean places. Holy cow. Her countenance did a 180. At that moment I knew that Spirit had touched her heart. She heard the words she needed to hear. Miracles happen at the Christmas lights and this experience was my personal evidence of this. We all can have experiences like this. We just need to be at the right place at the right time with the Spirit as our BFF. 

I guess work wise the week has been pretty good. Emotionally it has been pretty tough. After talking with my family on Christmas it finally hit me that my mission is ending. In my mind I always knew that but my heart refused to accept that. Needless to say, I've had a few breakdowns. I never thought that I would ever get to this point. I always thought that I would be a missionary forever! My life before the mission is like a blur right now... just figments of my imagination. Reality is my mission and that what it was going to be forever... until now. I ended up getting a blessing yesterday from our ward mission leader in Las Sendas. I'm doing so much better now, but I've had a lot of time to reflect on mission as a whole. What good did I do? What did I learn? What are my accomplishment? Stuff like that. It's been really good for me actually. I have a difficult time seeing the good that I do and the good that's in me. Doing this has really opened up my eyes to help me see all of the good that has come from my mission. I am in no way ready to go home yet, nor do I want to, but the Lord is helping me accept it so I'm not a complete wreck when I go home. :) In case you can't tell, getting ready to go home is terrible. Don't ever go home. ;P

Well, we're getting ready to party some more! The mission is having a new year's day party (mainly to avoid drunks and to give the members a break) and I'm soooooooooooooo excited!

-Sister Dunn

December 22, 2014

This week went by quick! Miracle!!! Remember Ed? Well, we went by and visited him the other day and he looked so healthy! We had a really good visit with him and at the end we were like "Ed, you ready to start the lessons again?" He was like "Yes, see you Wednesday." He told us that the time we haven't been teaching him he's been learning to let go and really give things over to the Lord. I'd say he's done a pretty good job about doing that. :) I think he is going to get baptized this time. :D
Stonebridge is coming alive!! Our potentials are meeting with us and we're getting referrals like crazy. Our hard work is starting to show finally. Bishop Lingard is more on board with missionary work than he's ever been in the 6 months I've been here. Our auxiliaries are on board and good things are starting to happen. I'm so excited! We're busy and working hard. 
Sorry, but I don't have much time to write. Too much crazy Christmas stuff that's happening today. Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-Sister Dunn

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December 15, 2014

I rolled my ankle and this was the most humbling/worst week ever.
First, story time. Tuesday morning my companion and I were doing our regular morning work out on the snazzy little hill off of Brown and the 202. We usually like to hike up it and then run down it (at a reasonably slow pace of course). I've done it a lot with Sister Krueger and was going to make it a regular thing with Sister Taylor.
The hike up was nice, but a little dark. We got to the top and waited a few minutes for the sun to come up. When it got light enough we started the run down. I always pray before hand that we'll be safe because this hill is a little sketch going down it. Normally it's really hard to concentrate where I'm placing my feet because I'm jumping and being jolted all over, but this time my mind was clear and going down was a breeze. As I thought "man, this is easy this morning" (about 100 yards from the top) my ankle found THE ONLY rock on the SMOOTHEST part of the hill and decided that it would be fun to roll. And boy did it roll. Luckily I didn't fall and make it worse, but I couldn't walk on it. Thank goodness Heavenly Father makes us go two by two! My sweet companion carried me down the rest of the hill on her back. I secretly want to know that the other hikers were thinking as they saw a 5'10" missionary sprawled across the back of a 5'4"
missionary... I was on crutches until Sunday. I was officially classified as a cripple.
Being crippled it not as fun as everyone thinks it is. I used the crutches during the day and a wheelchair at night when at the temple for Christmas Lights. Just for your info, people are clueless to those who are disabled! And ADA does not exist! In the future, I am only going to design spaces that will meet the requirements for ADA. Go handicap people!! Well, overall the experience was very humbling. It was humbling because I saw just how little I was but also what impact I make. Second, it was terrible because we weren't in our area a lot as a result. Realizing that I couldn't do a lot of the small things was frustrating and it was really hard to let my companion help me. I couldn't even carry a silly piece of paper because my hands were occupied with crutches! I learned a lot about the Atonement, reality, and patience. I feel that every time I experience something hard I experience a different part of the Atonement. I've never injured myself before and I didn't know how to handle it. I had a lot of time to study, pray, and ponder while I was taking care of my ankle. The Savior helped me let go of my pride and let my companion help me (that was super hard being a prideful and independent person). I now have a greater appreciation for the patience of our Heavenly Father and Savior. Who would have ever thought that I would learn this?? I've also never felt so much love before. Members and other missionaries showed me love that I've ever thought was possible. That love really helped me to get through the week.
We had meetings and the temple and more meetings with members. The times we weren't in meetings I had to ice and elevate my ankle. We didn't really spend a lot of time in the area and I feel like I kinda failed this week. If I only hadn't decided to go to the hill or something.... You know when you just want to put the blame on yourself? Yupp. Feeling that way right now, but it's getting better.  At least I'm not on crutches anymore and I'm not limping around today! So this coming week is going to be 1,000 times better because I'm not going to get injured, no one is going to get sick, and everyone is going to be home.
Being crippled while serving in the temple rocks. The workers are friendly to begin with, but they show an outpouring of love and service when you need help. They give you the royal treatment. You get to take the elevator and they smile more (I think out of pity, but hey! It's a smile!) and they let you cut in line and you're the first to do everything. It's the best but please don't go injure yourself to get this kind of royal treatment. Also, being in a wheelchair at Christmas Lights is the best. People actually talk with you and can't ignore your existence because they have to walk around you. There are some good things that have come from being crippled...
So there was a competition in the mission among the elders to see who had the most Thanksgiving dinners and we totally won!!! YES!!!!!!! The sisters beat the elders! WHOOOOOOH! Just thought you should know. :)
-Sister Dunn
P.S. I got to be companions with Sister Willahan last night!!!! MTC comps unite!!!!!! President totally should have made us companions.....

That's me being a cripple. I practically lived on this sofa.... This was me getting ready about an hour after the roll. More pictures to come next week!
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

December 8, 2014

What a happy Christmas week this has been! I'd forgotten how exhausting Christmas Lights are. I've never been so tired yet so happy. We've had so many small miracles happen while working at the lights. I have seen so many families from Vista Peaks it's not even funny. Our first night, the beehives found me and practically squished me on the ground. Needless to say that made my night. We've been setting goals for how many "He is the Gift" cards we want to send out and the number of meaningful conversations we want to have. We've only been working for three days, but we've almost met our goals every night. Setting goals really helps you stay focused at the lights. It's super easy to go into auto mode and forget that the people around you need what you have to offer. We've received a couple of referrals too and it's amazing to see that if you just talk with people the Lord will make up the rest. He makes things go naturally if you're trying. 
President Jenkins is a man with a vision. He's termed March as "Miracle March" because he wants to double the amount of last year's baptisms. We had about 50 last year, so his goal is to have 100. Pretty amazing. So he and the MLC this past week have been creating a vision, goals, and plans to make this happen. He know's that we can't do this without the members, so he sent out an email with the basic overview to the stake presidents who then sent it to the bishops who sent it to the ward council. Las Sendas is totally on board for the vision for the next 4 months! It was really cool as we explained what was going to happen and what we wanted to do how the Spirit touched the members hearts and helped them accept and want to help. Bishop Hurst heard about it before we did and quickly got the word out to the entire ward council. We visited our ward mission leader and he started to talk with us about it and we had no idea what he was talking about! I know that good things are going to be coming from this ward! Stonebridge isn't quite there yet, but at least Bishop Lingard knows about it. :) That's something, right? 
CRAZY STUFF!!! Mack has a stake calling!!!! He hasn't even been baptized a month and a half! He's the new stake sunday school secretary. He's going places...... It's amazing to see him and his wife grow. We were helping them put the information they had gathered and put in their "My Family" booklet into familysearch.org and they found 8 names that they're going to take to the temple!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was so amazing. When they finished putting in the info and submitted the names, a red dot appeared. I knew that it meant that they had names ready for the temple. As I told them that their jaws dropped and the spirit came in like a ton of bricks. Miracles. We're going to get them to the temple in the next week or two. :)
Working with Sister Taylor is going well. She's very bold, which is really good. Someone has to keep the wards on their toes. :) I hope to learn a lot from her and make this transfer the best one yet! This is going to be the best week ever too! We get to go to the temple and have a mission Christmas party!!! WHHOOOOOOOH!!!!!! I can't wait! Last year's party was a blast, so we're going to see if they can measure up this year. :)
President Jenkins just loves us so much! To help us DISCOVER the gift, EMBRACE the gift, and SHARE the gift he's come up with a reading schedule like he did for Easter. The reading schedule is amazing. It's really helping me focus and have the Spirit of Christ with me. It's been a great enhancement to my studies. I've been reading the nativity story frequently in the Bible and Jesus the Christ as well. I've learned a lot from Jesus the Christ. It has helped me not get caught up in the many interpretations of the nativity and focus on what really matters most: the fact that we have a Savior. When I think about it, often times we get just as distracted with fanciful accounts of the nativity as we do with shopping. Anything can be turned into a distraction. Even the lights at the temple can be distracting if we don't constantly think about why they're there and why we even have this time of year.
I hope everyone has had the opportunity to watch "He is the Gift" because it's pretty amazing. Please share it. Keep the true Spirit of Christmas.... the Spirit of CHRIST.... alive in our hearts and help others discover it!
-Sister Dunn

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December 1, 2014

This week has been so good! I don't know what's about it, but it was good. "HE IS THE GIFT" HAS STARTED!!!!! I'm so excited!! This is going to be such a positive thing! We were just at Winco before emailing and this good christian couple and I started a conversation about delicious Tillamook food and ended up talking for a minute about Christ and inviting them to watch "He is the Gift" and invite the Spirit into their lives. It's the most genius thing the church has ever come out with. When we first got the cards we were so excited that we just went up to the first person we saw and said "Hey!! We have a gift for you!!!" and proceeded to talk about the initiative and gave these two gentlemen a pass-along card, an invitation to learn more (which they declined *sad face*), and an invitation to Christmas Lights. It's the perfect thing we need to start talking with people.
It was really cool because I got to talk to one of the cashiers that we see every week at Winco today as well! I asked him how his Thanksgiving went and he went on about his family. Then I asked him what other traditions his family has and he went on about Christmas and having his entire family get together. What a perfect segway into Christmas Lights! This man was so excited when he got his invitation and said he's going to bring his entire family Christmas night to hear us perform. The miracles that are coming from this Christmas season!
It truly is a season to celebrate Christ!!
So, get your Ensigns out and set goals and make plans to hand out the 9 pass-along cards that were given to you. I'm also pretty sure that not handing out these cards is not an option. We believe in keeping the commandments, right? We learn the commandments from the word of God, or scriptures (ensigns for modern day prophets). We get the scriptures from prophets who speak for God. So when God tells us to do something though his prophets it becomes a commandment. This "He is the Gift" initiative is from the first presidency, so it's basically a commandment. I promise that it isn't hard to hand them out. It's actually really easy to start a conversation when you say "I have a gift for you!" This is coming from a person who struggles to start conversations. It's easy. If I can do it, you can too! Especially if it's to a friend or someone you love. Why not wrap the card with one of your favorite things? Be creative and be sure to involve the Lord through prayer. I promise that as you make yourself available to be an instrument this Christmas season that you will become one... the one the Lord needs you to be. :)
Since we can't really contact in our area, as a district we decided to spread "He is the Gift" around in a super creative way. We set up a hot chocolate stand at the church building at the turkey trot (which was along the route of the race). We started at 7:30 and waved at people as they drove by. We had more success once the race was finished, but the racers saw our stand as well as the drivers! We didn't just hand out hot chocolate; we handed out gifts as well! We wrapped pass-along cards and pamphlets to hand out to people!
Seriously this was the best idea we ever had. Here's a small miracle. We had the idea Wednesday morning during district meeting and had everything together by evening. Miracles. Even though people were hurrying, I know that someone somewhere was touched and will be changed as a result. The elders were really good about handing out the gifts and we got a lot out to people. The real spirit of Christmas and the restored gospel are being spread in the Salt River stake!
We haven't been able to meet with any of our potential investigators this past week... They all left to be with family for Thanksgiving. I mean, it sucks because they're gone but it's also good because they're with family. But small little miracles happened throughout the week!  Especially on Tuesday. I had prayed and asked Heavenly Father if we could have a really good night of finding people. We didn't have any appointments and I did not want to be contacting empty doors all night. Well, Heavenly Father is good and answered my prayers. Every house that we went to was opened. One was a former investigator family and said we could come back after the craziness of Thanksgiving.  Another was a PMF that had never opened their door in the 5 months we've been here. We were an answer to an active member's prayers as we visited her and helped her feel the spirit. Many more wonderful things happened. PLUS! This all happened in Stonebridge. Miracles.
Transfer news....... I'm staying here for my last 6 weeks but Sister Krueger is leaving... :'( Well, I'm sad to see Sister Krueger leave but I'm not upset or super emotional. When I read my transfer news email I was a little sad but peaceful at the same time. The Spirit really speaks to me through peace and he wasn't allowing me to get upset. He was just telling me that this is from God and it's the way things need to be. I'm super excited to be with Sister Taylor from Idaho! I love her! One of my favorite exchanges I ever went on was with Sisters Taylor and Taylor. I'm excited to see what the Lord is going to have us do together.
Good news! We survived our 7 Thanksgiving dinners! I never want to eat a big meal again, but we survived!!!! We made a plan that we would only eat one or two things at each house. At one we only had potatoes and another only pie and so on. We started our feast at 9 am and went until 7 that evening.
I also have to share this small miracle that happened this morning.  Last night we discovered our phone with a broken screen. We have no idea how it happened, but Elder Preston has been the best and got us a new phone. We thought we lost all our contacts but Elder Preston said that we could take our phone to the nearest Sprint store and they could transfer all of our 450 contacts to the new phone. Talk about a blessing! We get there and waited for our turn when a worker named Brian Dunn (funny because my name is Brianna Dunn.... I guess I found my long lost brother!!) and as he worked to get our contacts over he said that it wasn't working. He had tried 2 times and the machine told him no. I start praying and asking for a miracle (Sister Krueger is doing the same) and MIRACLE! The machine just started to transfer our contacts without a command. Brian was shocked and could not believe it. This man just witnessed God answering prayers and we let him know that too! MIRACLES!!
-Sister Dunn
We were just lining up to start the race!

It's a turkey-tater

Food. :)