Monday, February 29, 2016

Week 78: We'll Pluck That Chicken When It Gets Here


5 Questions
1) What did you have to speak on today? How did it go?
2) When do you get to visit with the mission president?
3) Do you get to say goodbye to everyone you want to before coming home?
4) Any suggestions for anything you want us to do to prepare for you? Dad told me not to ask you anything about home. 
5) What has been the best lesson you've learned from your companions?

  1. I spoke about missionary work, specifically the Ward fast we're having next Sunday, based on Alma 6:6--we're fasting for "the welfare of the souls who know not God". I had typed it all up by Saturday (and translated it for my companion) and then we had some experiences Saturday that made me want to change some things so I ended up changing a few parts Sunday morning, and then before I spoke, Sis R spoke about love and service and it was just so powerful that I ended up saying some things I hadn't planned on originally, but it was really good. I could feel the Spirit guiding my words and I know that the Spirit was able to touch the hearts of many in the congregation. There truly is no greater feeling than knowing that the Lord has been able to use you for the benefit of His other children.
  2. I actually had my departing interview on Friday--the assistants called us during weekly planning on Thursday and we went in to the mission office on Friday. I just love President Griffin so much. We realized that it's kind of like the prophet: we all love President Monson so so much, even though we've never personally met him. I remember hearing in general conference at some point that the love we feel for the prophet is a testament from the Lord to us that that man truly is His prophet. And I believe it's the same with my mission president; I may not know him super well, but man do I love that man! I know that he is truly called of God to preside over this mission at this time.
  3. We took LOTS of pictures yesterday....trust me, we said many goodbyes. I love the people here--and everywhere I've served. It's always hard to say goodbye, but I know that everyone here will be fine and I'll be fine. Maybe I'm insensitive or something, but I know I'll see them again because I'll be back in Illinois at some point in my life, probably in the next year or so when some of the people I helped teach go to the temple (I will find a way to be there...haha). But yes, we did say many goodbyes.
  4. I really have no idea. I've never returned from a mission before....I know I'm going to want to sleep for probably a day (but I'll probably just sleep in a bit for a couple days because sleeping all day would be SO unproductive). But that's about it.... I've got some projects to do and I'm hoping you'll have some projects for me, and we should definitely spend some time together but that's about as far as I can see....haha sorry. We'll cross that bridge when we get there.
  5. President Griffin actually asked me a similar question in my interview, and I think it would have to be when I truly learned to focus. It was my second area and I was struggling with lots of things, but my sweet companion was always there for me and was such a good example of focus. I learned so much from her and it was right when I needed to learn to focus. I really feel that because I learned to focus then, that set the tone for the entire rest of my mission. I am eternally grateful for having learned that from her.

Well, I'm really not sure what to say. 

This week was kind of rough--we knocked more doors and taught fewer lessons than we have since I got to Sycamore-Dekalb. But I know that we worked hard and sought the Spirit, and I know that Heavenly Father is pleased with what we did, even if we don't have numbers to back us up. Because numbers don't really matter. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ care about "the one"; they work on a very individual basis. And so we, as Christ's representatives, do the same. And sometimes, those "one's" don't really want to listen to us, or don't want to change. But I know that as we do our very best (remember: there is no try, only do), Heavenly Father will be pleased and we will know that He is pleased because He will pour out His Spirit upon us. In whatever calling or assignment we are given, He doesn't expect us to be perfect today, or tomorrow, or next week--or ever during out life on earth. But He does expect us to do our best. So while there are things during my mission that I look back on and wish I would've done differently, I know that I can't change the past but I can learn from it. And as I look toward the future, I know that I am, slowly but surely, becoming the person that Heavenly Father intended me to become. I am today someone so different from who I was 18 months ago. And that is a glorious thought. I know that missionary service changes hearts--not only those who are being taught, but those who do the teaching. Because all of us are children of God, and all of us are being refined during our mortal lives. I truly have been sanctified through missionary service, and I know with surety that any person may become sanctified and consecrated through missionary service as well--after all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel (Joseph Smith). Not only because we have brothers and sisters who are kept from the truth because they know not where to find it (D&C 123:12) but because we have been commanded to be perfect, even as our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ are perfect (Matthew 5:48; 3 Nephi 12:48). We will not reach that wholeness and completeness indicated by the word "perfect" until after the resurrection, but we may improve and progress throughout this life as we utilize the Savior's atoning sacrifice for us. Not only has He paid the price for our sins and mistakes, but He has taken upon Himself our pains and afflictions and infirmities and weaknesses. And as we come to feel the powerful effects of that great gift actively working in our lives, we will feel so inclined to share it that we cannot be silent. We will feel as Lehi did, as Paul did, as Alma did, as Ammon and Aaron did, that we will actively participate in the work of salvation, so that our brothers and sisters may taste of the great joys of the restored Gospel. It has been such a privilege and a pleasure to do so, full-time, for the past 18 months. I was called of God through His prophet to serve here in the Illinois Chicago West mission, in Bloomington-Normal, in Bloomingdale, in Rochelle, and in Sycamore-Dekalb. And now, through the same inspiration, it is time for my release as a full-time missionary. It is time for the beginning of the rest of my life as a dedicated, consecrated disciple of Christ. I have been taught from on high the past 18 months about how to fulfill my purpose as a daughter of God so that I may bring souls unto Him. And what a joy it has been. And what a joy it will be.

Love, Hermana DeBuck


Fotos:
 
1. Us with Sister Mary Low, a sister in the Sycamore Ward. She wanted to take us out for lunch before I left, so here we are at the China House--she even dressed for the occasion.

2. Us with our investigator Pablo, at the restaurant we teach him at frequently. He is so excited to be baptized! He's taught me a lot about Christlike attributes. (The woman who took our photo was probably really confused...haha)
3. The Rockford South zone: back row (E. Campbell, Hibbard, Jones, McNatt, Hastings, Hahn, Weigel, Trappett) front row (H. Osborne, Beuhner, S. Smith, Allowitz, Havey, Shephard, me, H. Albrechtsen, Webb, Nogueira)

4. Us and the Rochelle Hermanas (Webb and Nogueira). Funnily enough, Hermana Webb is coming here and they're combining the Rochelle and Sycamore Spanish areas again. So they'll be EXTRA busy....but I know they can do it as they seek revelation from the Lord about how to care for the part of His vineyard they've been given.

5. Sunday evening at the McConkie Family home with two of our investigators, Samuel & Imelda; the kids were commissioned to put on a play based on one of Christ's parables, and they chose the Prodigal Son. It was absolutely splendid. (This may be the best method I've yet seen for kids to keep the Sabbath day holy.) We had a blast.
 

6. Bro & Sis Bingham, from Sycamore Ward. They are just the most charitable, Christlike people of all time--I would bet money on that if I were a betting sort of woman. I love these two so much.

 
7. Kelli and us. She's basically the third member of our companionship. 


8. Saul, Francisca and Diego--our golden recent converts. They live above a Chinese restaurant and are such good disciples of Christ. They're honestly better missionaries than we are, for real.

 
 11. Us and the Dekalb Ward Relief Society


12. Us and Jennifer. What a lovely backdrop. Oh, and us.


13. Us and Sister Cadmium Bound. She's about to put her papers in and she goes out with the missionaries all the time. She is amazing.


14. The Henricksen family: Sister Henricksen, Tegan, Molly, Hermana Albrechtssen, me, Andrew, Nyssa.

15. Us and Gonzalo's kids, Gonzalito and Michele. (Gonzalo was up at the sacrament table so he wasn't able to be in the photo....but he blessed the sacrament so that's way better!)

16. Us and Brother Hill, who is also like the third member of our companionship. He served his mission in Mexico City, same mission as [cousin] Taylor. So that was cool when we figured that out. (The world is already small but when you're a member of the Church, I'm pretty sure it becomes minute....)

 

17. The Briscoe family (Sis Briscoe, Lizzie--reports to the MTC this Wednesday for Spanish speaking Carlsbad California mission--Sophie, Elijah, Ben, Bro Briscoe). They're also amazing. (I may say that a lot about members but it's always true)







Monday, February 22, 2016

Week 77: "Being a Missionary Is Like Being a Rubber Chicken that Everyone Slaps Around"

5 Questions
1) Is the institute class you signed up for the "Returning Missionaries" class?  Dad and I heard about that one--and would encourage you to take that.  Maybe Annika and Maddie Giles could take it with you.  I think it is at the Lone Peak seminary building though.

2) How is your companion doing knowing she'll get a new comp next week?  Is she ready?  Have you trained her up in the way she should go?

3) Do you have any sort of "exit interview" with the MP?  President Allred wants to meet with you as soon as we get back from the airport.  I saw him at ward conference today and he mentioned that he prefers to visit with returning missionaries as soon as they are on firm ground. ;)

4) Do you think you might want to spend more than the weekend seeing your brother?  Just trying to plan.

5) Is there anything you are looking forward to finishing before coming home?

  1. No, unfortunately. I couldn't find that one anywhere close to PG. But if you can find it at Lone Peak I would totally attend it. Let me know if you hear anything else. I'd sign up in a heart beat.
  2. I asked her, and she said "I have anxiety all the time and tears are always on the verge. ... Just kidding, I don't have anxiety." I think she's okay. Of course she's a little sad/nervous, but she knew this would be coming basically since we were put together, and since this happened with her first trainer, I think she's at least somewhat prepared for it. Haha as for me training her, I hope I've given her some tips and a direction to go in. But honestly she probably doesn't even need my help. She just kind of naturally does what needs to be done, so I'm sure it'll be good. She did ask me yesterday for some tips on training someone into an area so I gave her some ideas, but that's about it. For the most part, we just don't talk about me going home next week so we can keep working hard and seeing miracles. (Not that I'm in denial, but it does no good to worry about it so why bother thinking about it at all? We're here to work up until the last possible minute.)
  3. Yes. I believe I'll have an interview with President Griffin this Sunday. Not entirely sure, but I'll have one at some point before I leave. As for meeting with President Allred, I'm happy to meet with him Wednesday.
  4. As in, do I want to spend more time than just the weekend with Cameron? Or are there other things I want to do that weekend? I have no idea. I'm just kind of trusting that everything will work out how Heavenly Father wants. I'm doing my best to prepare without losing focus. So I guess whatever happens, happens.
  5. Well, our investigator Pablo was going to be baptized this coming Saturday, but we had to move it back a week. That was one of the hardest decisions I've made in my life, but I know that it'll be better for him and for us. It gives him one more week to prepare and keep learning, and he's okay with it--though he's practically dying to be baptized. Anyway, this week we'll be teaching him almost every day and Wednesday is his baptismal interview so that'll be good. We've GOT to get the baptismal record form filled out before the interview though. Oh man. Why is it so hard to get paperwork done in a timely manner? (Struggles that I was not expecting...)

Question for Mom: how much did the keyboard you sent me cost? (Hermana Albrechtsen wants to buy it from me, so I told her I'd ask.)

Well. Let's just say this week was a Russian mountain. ("Roller coaster" in Spanish is literally translated to "Russian Mountain". Too funny.) Last Sunday we'd gotten a text from Pablo that sounded like "I've thought about it and you can come get your book back." We weren't able to talk with him until Tuesday, and when we did he was totally normal again. He came to English class and we taught him afterwards with Saul (recent convert) and our ward mission leader, Brother McConkie--he told us that he still wants to be baptized and keep learning. The following day, Wednesday, we taught Pablo about the one of the commandments and in the end he told us that he couldn't change that much, it was just too hard, and he didn't want to be baptized. Then, at 6 am the next morning, he texts us and says that he thought about it a lot and actually he does want to be baptized. We taught him that day and he seemed perfectly okay. Anyway, now he's good and is progressing and is SO excited to be baptized. I'm sad that I won't be here for it, but I know that it's better for him to have more time to prepare and it really doesn't matter if I'm here or not for the actual baptism, because I was still a part of his conversion process--and what a blessing it has been! He has taught me so much about love, and patience, and humility. 

Yesterday, we visited a family in Sycamore and one of them asked me, "If you had to, could you pick just one thing that you've gained from your mission that you are most grateful for?" I thought about it for a moment and decided yes, I could pick just one (of course there's probably seventy times seven more, but that's besides the point). He asked what and I said it's made me a more loving person. After the fact, I thought about it some more and I realized that ultimately what I'm getting at is that my mission has made me a more Christlike person--just the attribute that has changed the most, in my opinion, is charity and love. I've learned to feel more love for all people around  me, no matter what differences we may have, and I've learned to express that love more openly. Of course, I'm still not perfect and I still struggle sometimes with letting people know that I care about them as a child of God, but I've gotten a lot better. 

As for the number two thing, I would have to say the testimony I've gained. Not only have I gained a greater knowledge about my Savior and about His Gospel, but I've come to know Him so much better. I read a story once about a man who crossed the plains with the handcart companies and, in a class that was criticizing the decision to travel when they did, he stood when he could take no more and, "In substance [he] said, ‘I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife was in it and Sister Nellie Unthank whom you have cited was there, too. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? Not one of that company ever apostatized or left the Church, because everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities.

“‘I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.’” He continues: “‘I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.

“‘Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.’"

Although I have experienced nothing like what the pioneers experienced, I identify with this story. Because, through the experiences that I have had as a full-time missionary and representative of Jesus Christ, I truly have come to know Him "in my extremities". I've realized just how much nothing I am and how much I rely on my Savior and His Atonement. I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak. But through Christ, I truly can do all things (Phil. 4:13; Alma 26:12). And it's because of this burning and abiding testimony that I know I'll be able to persevere and endure joyfully whatever trials and opposition come my way in life. Because I know my Savior, and I believe every word He has said. I know that He lives, and that this is His Gospel. This is His Church. He stands at the head of it, and He directs it through His chosen prophet on the earth today, Thomas S. Monson. I know that Jesus Christ and His Father--our Father--appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, in answer to a sincere and heartfelt humble prayer. Through him, They restored the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that each of us could receive all that the Father hath, if we would but hearken to the voice of the Good Shepherd. He has not ceased to call out to us--just as He has done throughout the history of the earth, He speaks to us through His prophets so that we may hear and know His voice. I am so grateful for living prophets, to guide us in these latter days. The Son of Man will soon come on earth to reign, and there will be one fold and one shepherd. I look forward to that day not with fear, but with gladness, when He shall say to me, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." I love the Lord, and it truly is a pleasure to serve Him. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Love, Hermana DeBuck

Fotos:

1. Photo from exchanges two (?) weeks ago. I know it's a bit late, but better late than never. (With Hermana Capps and Hermana Neff)


2. Had FHE with the Hill family last night, and we had to take a picture. Funny story: DJ (to my right in the photo) served in the same mission as (cousin) Taylor. Small world, no?!


3. This is the word of God.



 4. Had a zone activity today and we went bowling (in Rochelle! It was somewhat odd being back...especially in jeans....) anyway, let's just say I'm not a fantastic bowler and it isn't my favorite thing to do, but we had a good time.

 5. Four Hermanas and their shoes...


6. S. Noguera, H. Webb, H. Albrechtsen and me. Plus some elders in the background. (I think they must have a photo-bombing-opportunity sense or something...)




7. Afterwards we ate out at Sunrise, a restaurant in Rochelle. We tried giving our waitress a card and found out she is meeting with the Elders. #smalltowns

Monday, February 15, 2016

Week 76: Goin Bowling with the WML and His Fam!

5 Questions:
1) Do the weeks fly passed you as fast as they seem to go here?  Man.  It is crazy how quickly time moves. Did you do anything different/fun for Valentine's weekend?  Service opportunities?

2) Any chance you wrote to your brother this week?

3) What are your goals for the final 17 days in the mission?

4) Brother Walker gave me the topic he'd like you to speak on in Sacrament Meeting when you get home.  You'll be speaking March 13th.  Do you want that now? Or wait until you are home?

5) Also, the week after you speak will be the Provo City Center Temple dedication.  Would you like a ticket for that?

  1. It's interesting. Because seriously, every day feels like a week--we'll get done with planning for the next day and then we report on what we did today and everything that happened that morning feels like a week ago. And yet the weeks fly by--like I'm pretty sure I wrote an email home yesterday....but no. Haha time is just so weird. As for Valentine's, we didn't really do anything. We had dinner with our Bishop and his wife, and that was fun. They are such good people.
  2. I wrote to him a week or two ago, actually yes I think it was last week.
  3. Funny you should ask that, because in zone training last Thursday, our zone leaders had us all write down goals for ourselves personally that we want to achieve by the end of our missions--kind of who we want to be. I found it somewhat ironic, but I did it anyway. It was kind of cool to look back and see how far I've come too. I'm certainly nowhere near perfect but I have changed immensely since the beginning of my service as a full-time missionary, a set apart representative of Christ. And it truly is amazing. As for the next couple weeks, I set the goal to pray daily for Christlike attributes and to account every single night for that day. Because I don't want to have a single regret. And I know that as I account for my labors, the Lord will help me feel that I am giving all that I am and all that I have.
  4. I don't want to know yet. I'll be speaking here in Sycamore on the 28th and I'd rather not be stressing about two talks at once. Plus, I just don't like thinking about anything at home for long periods of time. It's just kind of useless right now.
  5. Yes! Did you get tickets for the open house? (Por fis yes....)

Also, before I forget, just so you know: I signed up for Institute (it was part of My Plan) so I'll have that Thursday's from 7-8:30 at the high school.

As for this week, it was good. We're learning to work better together and I think we'll continue to see even more miracles. We also got to go on exchanges again so that was fun--went to Wheaton for the third time (it was actually only the fourth time I've left my area). I kept forgetting that I was in Wheaton and not in Sycamore and that it wasn't actually my area. Met a member named Roberto who knows a family from Pleasant Grove (Peterson, but I can't remember the first names...I think one was actually Saturday. Maybe another was Jaden? Not sure. But I didn't recognize the names when he told me. But it's possible I know them because I have forgotten SO much...) 

We had zone training this week as well and it was great. I gave my departing testimony--I was the only one--and it was just as terrifying as I thought it would be. At the same time, I felt totally peaceful. It was cool too because a headache had started to build on the left side of my head and I kept drinking water and more water and it was only getting worse. Neither of us had any drugs I could take so I just had to deal with it. And then I get up to the pulpit to share my testimony and it was totally gone until I sat back down in the pew. Phew, talk about a tender mercy. I don't know that I said anything that anyone actually benefited from or needed to hear, but at least it's over and I can focus again. Except for the fact that it was announced in ward council yesterday that I'm leaving the beginning of March to go home and that made it real hard to focus because then all these members kept coming up to me and asking about various things that aren't important right now. I mean, I love the members, truly I do. But I just want to be focused on the work right now. There's a line in the Missionary Handbook (we read from it daily) that says "the time that you have to serve the Lord with all your heart might mind and strength is extremely short" and it's like a stab in the heart every time that we read it. It is SO TRUE people! And I don't want to make it any shorter so I will be staying as focused as possible. 

This work means so much to me--we are literally saving souls. Maybe that's quite the claim to make but I know it's true. Because the thing about our church is that we aren't just about making bad men good and good men better. With any other church, a person can qualify for the terrestrial kingdom instead of the telestial, but only through the Church of Jesus Christ may a person qualify for the celestial kingdom--which is the only place where a person can live for all eternity with God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and with their families. There's a saying that a missionary from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is someone to leaves their family for 18-24 months so that others can be with their families for eternity. And it is so true. No one else has the capability to seal families for time and all eternities. Sure, you can be together until death do you part, but unless you are sealed by someone holding the priesthood power of God, that marriage ends with death, just like they warn you in the ceremony. I say this not to threaten or to scare anyone, but it is the truth. I've felt the Spirit of God witness this truth to me time and time again. And I want those around me to have their families forever, and not just for this life. 

I may not be able to control the circumstances that come upon others, but I have the very thing that will bring them peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come. And it my responsibility and privilege to share it. I know that this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was lost after His death and the deaths of His apostles, but He Himself has restored it to the earth through a living prophet, even Joseph Smith. I testify that Christ lives and He directs His Church today, just as He has throughout all of the earth's history--through prophets. I am so grateful to Him and His Father for all that They do for me, so that I may be happy and have joy. I know that this Gospel that I share everyday is the one thing that will make a person truly and enduringly happy. And I know that any person may come to know and feel these truths by the power of the Holy Ghost, if they will but desire to know and believe. Of these things I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Love, Hermana DeBuck


 Little late, but better late than never.
 
James, one of the McConkie Family children. He loves the limelight--this
is a regular occurrence in family photos, we heard.
The McConkie family plus us and the elders (Christian, Elizabeth, Sis M, Bro M, Rosemary, Emma, E. Hibbard, James, H. Albrechtsen, E. Jones, me)



We had to do one more funny one with James. Too good.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Week 75: We're Not Human Beings Having a Spiritual Experience, We're Spiritual Beings Having a Human Experience

5 Questions:

1) Does the DeKalb- Sycamore area have you girls in members' home for dinner appointments fairly often?
2) What do you do if you don't have a dinner appointment?
3) Is the worldwide missionary meeting available anywhere online, do you know?
4) Have you given any thought to you plans for summer yet? I only ask because Debbie said Melanie (who gets home mid April) was going to take a couple classes in their summer term. 
5) How long does it take for you to get mail that goes to the mission home?

  1. YES. We actually had to cross off some of the days from our calendar so that people can't sign up to feed us because we are just wearing ourselves so thin--some days we have lunch AND dinner appointments. Which is a blessing, don't get me wrong. But I don't have the mental capacity to do that every day. I mean, we're only human and sometimes we just need a mental break from teaching people.
  2. So, therefore, if we don't have a dinner/lunch appointment, we eat at the apartment and then use the rest of the hour to study more or to clean up Area Book or do lesson reports or other various logistical important things that need to be done. We are just SO busy here--more so than any other area I've served in--that there is always something more to be done. For example, I didn't even finish the My Plan session for this week (it's on the to-do list today) because we were so busy during meal times.
  3. Yes, but only on the missionary portal (the missionary website) so only current full-time missionaries have access to it. I can share my notes with you some time if you want to know more about it. But that's about all I can offer.
  4. Well, I have some goals for my life after I'm released as a missionary, especially for the time between release date and school in the fall, but no set plans. As far as school goes, I think I'd like to take a Spanish placement (?) test to see what level I could start in so I can do a minor in Spanish, and then of course I'll register for classes, but I don't think I'll actually take any classes before the fall--I deferred until Fall 2016. I could probably change it but I don't think it would be worth it. Just planning on working and doing other things that need to be done at home/for my own growth.
  5. I have no idea...if it's a letter they'll just forward it after putting an address label on it with our apartment address. But if it's a package, we get it whenever the next big meeting is usually. Occasionally the zone leaders bring packages to district meetings but not often. We have a zone conference this Thursday which will be the last meeting for us before transfers.

This week was pretty normal; nothing too crazy happened. One of our investigators is very excited to be baptized--originally he wanted to be baptized on his birthday at the end of April, and then he went to Saul and Francisca's baptism and we taught him the Plan of Salvation (God's plan of happiness for all of his children) and he has decided he wants to be baptized AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. But the soonest we can do is 27 February because we still have the majority of the lessons to teach him and he learns slowly. His name is Pablo and I've learned a lot from him and the process of teaching him. 

I know that God is aware of all of His children and speaks to each of us in the way we need it--even and especially when we don't have a solid understanding of God's laws. What matters most to our loving Heavenly Father is our desires and intents. If we have the desire and the intention to follow Him and His Son, then that's what makes a difference. Even though Pablo doesn't understand everything like Saul does, they're both sons of God and they're both loved by Him. I know that God cares more about the direction we're going in than He does about how fast we're getting there. 

The Gospel path is straight and narrow, and we're all at different points along that path, but all He asks is that we make covenants with Him (like baptism) and then do our very best to keep those covenants--and when (not if) we make mistakes, we apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repent, and keep moving forward. That is what is called enduring to the end. And it doesn't have to be painful or bitter. We can endure to the end with joy. Men are that they might have joy (2 Nephi 2:25). God did not send us to earth so that we could suffer; He sent us to earth so that we could experience the happiness of sharing the Gospel, the joy of seeking what's good, and the love of family relationships. 

I know that God has not forgotten about a single one of His children; sometimes we may feel that He is silent, or that we simply don't matter to Him, but I know that He is always there, looking out for us. It is our own choices that separate us from feeling God's love, but all it takes is one more choice to draw near to Him and I know that we will feel His love again. I know, without a doubt, that you have a Heavenly Father, who loves you. He cares about what's important to you, and He knows what worries you. He knows what questions trouble your mind. He knows what demons you grapple with. He knows what you struggle with, be it mental or emotional or physical. He knew that you would have those trials and struggles before He sent you to this earth. And that is why, even before the world began, He provided a way for you to overcome each and every one of those struggles--He provided a Savior, even His Son, Jesus Christ. I know that He lives, and He can help you through whatever circumstance you are in. But just as that source of comfort has existed since before the world was, so too has your agency. You alone have the choice to make that will enable you to over power whatever demons test you here in this mortal life. Christ is more than willing to empower you, but you must choose to let Him. Open your ears to hear, and your eyes to see, and your heart to feel. I know that He will answer in unmistakable ways. I know He has for me, and I know that He will for you. I share this with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Love, Hermana DeBuck


Fotos:
1. Jose and Ida's baptism: boy I sure do love these two. They're awesome. I am so blessed to have taught them.
2. District lunch at Jamrah: Middle Eastern Cuisine. (Missionaries: we are just so weird...)
3. Me with my chicken shawarma sandwich--which is one of my new favorite foods, I might add. It was tasty!
4. Fake flautas (they're corn tortillas instead of flour). I haven't had flautas since the MTC! And they're basically my favorite Mexican food (Okay, maybe not favorite because those chile rellenos are deliciosos...)
5. We had dinner with a family who showed us their missionary wall--basically all of their four kids (all under the age of 12) want to serve missions so they put together a wall showing where all their family members have served, plus a clock showing the time in their dad's mission. How cool!


Monday, February 1, 2016

Week 74: "Yo Quiero Ir Al Reino Celestial" *Pointing to a Little Drawing of the Sun*


5 Questions:
1) Have you started with "my plan" instructions/studies (a short preparation course online fro missionaries nearing the end of their mission to help them transition back to "normal" life) yet?

2) What does that have you doing?  How is your studying affected?

3) Does your comp do something else while you are working on that stuff?

4) Have you missed wearing your contacts?

5) Do you hear from your brother each week?

  1. Yes, the way it works is you do one of six parts once a week for your last transfer. So I've done two of the six. It's...interesting.
  2. Well, I'm not exactly sure if I'm supposed to be doing it during personal study or something, but that one hour a day is precious, sacred time that I want to prepare for my investigators, so for me personally, I do the My Plan thing during lunch or dinner times. It's nice because it helps me to do some extra study during those times. So far it's had me look back on my mission, looking for things that have changed about myself, and set some goals for after I'm released--good thing I already had some set for the year 2016 because I knew I'd need some goal. Also, note for all my missionary friends reading this: it doesn't let you save your answers if you leave in the middle of the session. You HAVE to get to the end if you want your answers to be saved.
  3. Since I'm doing it during meal times, Hermana Albrechtsen usually does something at her desk next to mine (since we have WiFi in our apartment, we have to be able to see each other's iPad screens at all times, and since that's how I do the My Plan stuff, she has to be right here with me for me to be able to do it.) I think usually she works on Area Book stuff or studies or reads--just something here at her desk.
  4. Not really.... I still have basically a whole box of contacts for each eye. It's just too much work to wear them. Plus, no one would recognize me if I wore contacts...haha the most recent time I did was in Bloomingdale because it was POURING rain. And then of course it stopped five minutes later.
  5. No, not every week. Sometimes he'll respond to my emails the week I write them, sometimes a little later. But I haven't been super good at being consistent either. But I hear from him every once in a while.

As for what happened this week, well: it was the second best-day-of-my-life! On Saturday, 30 January 2016, four of my favorite people of all time entered into the waters of baptism and made a covenant with their Father in Heaven through the authority of the restored Priesthood power. I have been so blessed to be a part of their conversion. Heavenly Father is so good to me. I know that these four individuals--two families--will be blessed throughout eternity for this decision. As they continue faithful to the end of their lives, living and keeping those covenants, preparing to make others in the temple, the very house of the Lord, they will receive unimaginable blessings. They are such great examples to me of Christlike attributes. So let me tell you a little bit about each one of these children of God:

Saul: he and his 7 year old son, Diego, met the missionaries as they were walking out of a Mexican restaurant. He is one of the smartest people I've ever had the privilege to teach, in that he just "gets" the Gospel. He paid tithing before we'd even taught him that it was a commandment, thanks to some amazing testimonies shared by ward members the beginning of the month. When we taught him about the Word of Wisdom--God's law of health for His children's benefit and safety--he thought it made perfect sense and immediately gave us all social drinking and the occasional coffee. He already knows many of the stories in the Book of Mormon and is now somewhere in Alma as he reads consecutively through that sacred book of scripture. He is thrilled, overjoyed, at the prospect of baptizing his son in a month and a half and will be more than prepared to hold the priesthood power and authority of God. He already has an eternal perspective and the temple is his goal for him and his family. He teaches me so much about obedience and making changes to be in harmony with the will of God.

Francisca: She is the wife of Saul and the mother of Diego. When we first met her, she was shy and not very talkative, a bit afraid to ask questions. Since then, she will timidly jump in with the questions she has because she wants to understand everything she can. She previously had to work on Sunday's but when she found out that part of keeping the Sabbath day holy was not working, she made arrangements so that she wouldn't have to work on that sacred day, on the Lord's day. She was willing to get married so that she could be baptized and work towards an eternal marriage, keeping in mind that their wedding in the church building is far from the end goal. She has taught me so much about sacrifice and humility and it truly is a blessing to see her sweet example of Christlike love and living.

Jose: he and his wife Ida were two of my investigators in Rochelle. They were originally found by a set of Elders (one of which was able to attend their baptism) and then rediscovered unwittingly by Hermana LaBonte and I. The very first time we knocked on their door, Jose wanted to let us in, but he was already familiar with missionary rules--his wife was asleep and he knew we couldn't come in. He told us that she wanted to talk with us so we should come back the next week. Since then, these two have had a very special place in my heart. They've been through so much in their lives, and have been so kind in letting us into their hearts. They're like my Rochelle grandparents and I am so grateful to have met them. Jose's humor never failed to help lift my spirit and it was such a privilege to see how the restored gospel of Jesus Christ changed him as he let it into his life. He has taught me to have a softened heart in a way I didn't realize I needed to change.

Ida: she is such a fighter, and quite stubborn when she knows she's right. She was willing to do everything it took to get baptized because she knew with all her heart that it was right. She has been hurt in many deep, painful ways and yet she has always come out on top, even when it took some time. She loves to study the gospel and already knows her way around the Gospel Library app like she was born in the 2000s. She is committed to living the gospel and keeping the covenants that she has made, and she wants so badly to do what is right so that she can be with her family forever. She has taught me to never give up, because if there's a will, there's a way.


I am so blessed to be a missionary at the times and in the places I've been. When I left, just 17 months ago, I never could have guess what joy this work of salvation would bring me. I know that this is the Lord's work. He Himself says that His work and His glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39). That is OUR immortality and OUR eternal life. The entire purpose of God's plan of salvation is the happiness of His children--our happiness! And what a joy it is to be a part of the fulfillment of that plan in the lives of my brothers and sisters. I know that I am weak and imperfect, but I know that I have been an instrument in the hands of God, to bring about much righteousness--both in my own life and in the lives of others. It is by the grace and power of my Redeemer that I have been able to withstand slammed doors, raised voices, and contentious conversations. It is through the love of my Savior that I have been able to care for those I've taught, desire the salvation of random people I meet, and know what to say to those who stand in need. I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world--the Savior and Redeemer of every member of the family of Adam, even from the beginning to this present time. All people are within the reach of his saving and redeeming power. He truly does know how to succor us, because He knows exactly how we feel in every single moment of our mortal existence (Alma 7:11-12). I know that He lives and that He has not ceased to do miracles. Jesus Christ restored His Church, the exact same Church that He established during His mortal ministry, through the Prophet Joseph Smith. That farm boy from New York could do nothing of himself, and he knew it. The Lord worked through Him, just as He has worked through prophets of old, such as Adam, Abraham, and Moses. 

The power of God has been restored, and its blessings are available to all those who seek them. It is through the power and authority of God that we may be forgiven of our sins, because only God is able to forgive sins. No man on earth has that authority. And I know that no man authorized to act in the Lord's name would ever even imply that he has that power. But there are men on earth who are given power to act in God's name for the benefit of His children (Mosiah 8:18). He called them to that position, just as He called His Apostles of old (John 15:16). I know that Joseph Smith truly was ordained to be the head of this last dispensation, and Thomas S. Monson is the prophet of God on the earth today. Christ is at the head of His Church, and He directs it through His prophet and apostles. The proof of all this is the Book of Mormon. I know without a doubt that it is the word of God. It is additional scripture, just as the Bible is scripture, is the word of God. Prophets of old testified that we would have two books of scripture to confound false doctrines, lay down contentions, and establish peace among the children of men (2 Nephi 3:12; Ezekial 37:15-17). I know that any child of God may come to know that all these things--and many more--are true if they will but ask God in the name of Christ with a sincere heart, real intent and faith in Jesus Christ. I know it's worked for me time and time again, and it will work for you. Because God loves you. If I know one thing, it's that God loves His children and He will not leave us comfortless (John 14:18). If you do not feel that love, I invite you to kneel down in humility and sincerely ask God if He is there. Ask Him if He knows that you exist. Ask Him if He loves you. I promise that if you will do those thing, by the power of the Holy Ghost you will receive an answer from on high that will be unmistakable. It may not come all at once, but it will come. Answers always come when we sincerely ask for them, but they come in the Lord's timing. Of this I testify, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Love, Hermana DeBuck


Fotos:
 
1. Not sure if I sent this home or not, so if I did, feel free to exclude this photo. But this was when we got to eat out with two of the best people ever, the Hartungs (he's a recent convert, and unfortunately they're moving to Arizona...) They took us to a Thai restaurant, and I'm just going to say now: when we come back to Sycamore-Dekalb to visit, we're going to this place. SO GOOD. [Also, I honestly have no idea if the weird lines behind my head are my hair or something on the wall, but it sure makes me look like I'm about to be electrocuted or something...]

 2. Us with Saul, Francisca and Diego in their white jumpsuits. Don't they look so happy?! Boy I love them. They already told us that they want us to be there when they go to the temple. I am so sad I'll be back in Utah when Diego is baptized....(March 19th I think....)

3. Didn't have to use giant pots this time, so we decided we needed a picture of the font working (however, I'll have everyone know, that it was NOT warm. I thought Ida was going to have a seizure when she came up out of the water...) [not that it was super duper cold or anything, just she has a condition that if she gets cold, her body cramps up. And I think I know pretty well how just lukewarm temperature feels when you get your whole body wet--especially while wearing clothes, people...]
 
4. However, of course there had to be some sort of hiccup: the light in the women's bathroom that leads into the font wasn't working. Good thing these Hermanas are resourceful--grabbed the lamp from the foyer of the chapel and it worked like a charm (mostly).
5. Jose & Ida's baptism: except I wasn't able to get a photo yet so.....until next week.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Week 73: Now I Feel Like A Fit Pillsbury Dough Boy

1) Do you hear from any of your former companions, ever? Do you keep in contact with them?

2) Are you opposed completely from a Valentine's package?  I know you said no more treats.  But I feel like a "bad missionary mom" if I don't do something.

3) Do you read exclusively from the Book of Mormon in your scripture study, or do you mix up your studies and cover all scripture by studying topically?

4) How is the winter there?  Colder, snowier, wetter, etc than last winter?  are you holding up OK?

5) How is your health holding up?  Anything unusual?

  1. I do every once in a while. My past companions that are still in the mission send me their weekly emails so that's fun. 
  2. I'm not entirely opposed, I just don't know what you'd put in it....because the only thing you could send that would be used before I go home is food. But I don't think I need any of that. And anything else would just be more stuff to get home or leave behind. I've tried thinking of something I could use but I literally can't think of anything...sorry.
  3. For me, personally, what I do is I begin my hour of personal study by reading the Book of Mormon for 10 minutes, and then I study out of Preach My Gospel (the missionary guide) for 10 minutes--I'm studying it from front to back, or at least that was the original idea but it's pretty slow going because I only have ten minutes--and then I study a Christlike attribute for 10 minutes. The last 30 minutes I use to study for investigators, so I'll use Preach My Gospel, the New and Old Testaments, the Book of Mormon, True to the Faith, the Bible Dictionary/the index/the Guide to the Scriptures, etc. It all kind of depends on the needs of the people we're teaching that day. I'm trying to read through the New Testament, but it's pretty slow going because one hour just isn't enough ever.
  4. The winter this year is much milder than last year. There have been a couple single digit days but not many. And it isn't that snowy either. Today it was actually sprinkling/misting rain. I'm doing fine though. I'm pretty much prepared for anything so I just take what we get because the weather doesn't affect much of the work of salvation. The only reason it would is if it's below zero degrees (F) without windchill. Then we're not allowed to go out. Which makes me wonder how people in Russia or Mongolia or other really cold places ever get anything done...maybe we're all just super wimpy here or something.
  5. Health wise I'm doing fine I think. About three times a week we work out with one of the sisters in one of the wards so this is probably the best shape I've been in my whole mission. I still have weird back issues at times, but it's just soreness. None of that crazy I-can't-move-ness so that's good. Plus I've been really trying to get my 5 fruits/veggies every day and drinking more water. A couple times I actually got 8 glasses and I was SO proud of myself. Because that's the hardest part of Fit for the Kingdom for me. (For those who aren't aware, Fit for the Kingdom is our mission "diet". We get points if we meet certain parts and if you get over 400 points for the transfer then you get a gift card to Subway, or something like that. Trust me, I've not gotten close to that yet but I am improving and that's what really matters, right? I'm just building healthy habits for the rest of my life. haha)

Wow I don't even know where to begin this week. SO MUCH HAPPENED. And since I've been pretty skimpy on the emails as of late (sorry) I'll try to give you a summary of the highlights of each day:

MONDAY
Okay so a lot happened but nothing worth noting this day. haha we're just building up the suspense here, okay.

TUESDAY
A sister invited us over for lunch so we visited her. Every time we visit she always gives us something random to take with us. This week it was tights, hand sanitizer, a heat compress, face wash, bowls and salt & pepper shakers. haha she's so great. 

We also knocked a lot of doors, which we haven't really done since I got here the beginning of December. Oh man it was so great. I've missed knocking doors. Every door is like a wild card, a surprise. We had some pretty funny/interesting encounters with people closing the door as they talked with us until it was maybe a quarter of an inch wide. One man we talked to did that and then, when we asked him his name, he took one look at us and closed the door. Another woman, when we asked if Maria and Reyna live there, told us that they didn't. We asked her name and she said "Reyna". haha man I just love people. They're so great. It's something that has really helped me to stay positive throughout my mission, because normally when we knock doors, we have experiences with people slamming the door in our face or telling us to go away or something. But it's easier to stay positive if you look for the good in those situations. And you know, someday those people will come round and they'll have true, lasting happiness and peace.

Also taught English class. We worked with Pablo, one of our investigators. He knows about five words/phrases in Spanish, so we went over the alphabet with him again. Oh man, I don't know why but it sure is fun. It's also really hard to say the alphabet in English now, it's been so long.

WEDNESDAY
Oh boy, was this a good day! Instead of our normal district meeting, we got to watch a Worldwide Missionary Broadcast with some of the Apostles and other General Authorities. It was truly amazing. For those who are interested, we have approximately 75,000 full-time missionaries now, serving in over 400 missions. How crazy is that?! Oh man, it was just so marvelous. I was able to receive a lot of revelation that I know is going to help me endure to the end with joy.

That evening we were able to teach a less-active sister in one of the wards. We just stopped by and she let us in, and I think it truly was led by the Spirit. We were able to have a really powerful lesson with her, that I honestly don't think Elders could have had--we discussed our divine nature as daughters of God and helped her recognize how she can have the Spirit more in her life. We're also going to be visiting her again this evening and I am very excited to help this daughter of God come even closer to Christ.

THURSDAY
Two of our investigators had their baptismal interviews and they passed with flying colors. Our district leader was actually in tears because he was so touched by this hermana's humility. Man I love these two. They'll be baptized this coming Saturday at 6 pm. They are such an inspiration to me. When I grow up, I want to be as humble as the G. family.

Also had dinner with a recent convert and his wife (she was already a member): the Hartung's. They are so much fun! They took us out to eat at a Thai restaurant (also delicious) and man, I just love being around them. They're so down to earth and humble. Unfortunately they're moving to Arizona soon so we don't get to be with them for much longer.

We had about 30 minutes before we had to leave our area for exchanges and we had some tracting (knocking doors) in the plans. That morning we had picked streets to knock and we'd both felt one of the same ones, along with some others. I knew that we'd both felt that one for a reason so we went and the very first door we knocked on we didn't even get around to knocking! A man opened the door as we walked up (he was waiting for someone else, but still) and we taught him a little about what we teach and he expressed interest in learning more! We set up a return appt for Tuesday (tomorrow) and we're excited to teach him the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ! Inspired tracting: I love it.

FRIDAY
We were on exchanges and I got to be with my MTC companion, Hermana Capps. What made it even better was that she came here, which is one of her past areas! It was definitely inspired to have our exchange when we did (it was planned approximately one day in advance as opposed to at least a week, which is more normal) because we were able to visit some of the people that Hermana Capps taught while she was here and it was perfect! We had an awesome lesson with her convert, Gonzalo, as well as a lesson with an investigator couple (Samuel and Imelda) that she found. With Samuel and Imelda, we knelt and he offered the prayer, asking very sincerely if this is the path that God wants for him. It was amazing. Plus, they fed us tamales and mexican hot chocolate afterwards. haha score! (But the main reason it was awesome was the lesson, not the food, I promise.)

Also that day, we had to get gas but our receipt didn't print so we had to go inside to get it and we ended up teaching the cashier for about five minutes! Definitely not a coincidence people. As an hermana in my last area always said, "No hay casualidades". Y es la verdad.

SATURDAY
Had a meeting with Bishop Malley (Sycamore ward) and Brother McConkie, our ward mission leader, plus Brother Hartung (a ward missionary) and the elders that morning. We got to eat breakfast (Sis Malley is a fantastic cook....) and then discussed the work of salvation in this area. Bishop Malley is awesome, though very intense about everything, which is somewhat intimidating at times. But Brother McConkie is basically an angel and he just knows exactly when we need a bit of an explanative pick-me-up. The work truly is hastening.

Due to the meeting, we started our studies about an hour later than normal, and then we got a call during our language study saying that Jose and Ida (my investigators from Rochelle) were getting married in approximately two hours. EXCUSE ME?! So we were like, alright keep us posted and we'll be where we need to be when we need to be there. Later, we get a call saying Jose and Ida are at the church right now, but we were the closest ones to them (everyone else was in Rochelle--everyone else being the Rochelle Hermanas and Branch President Walters). So we run to the church and let the family in. The Rochelle hermanas get their soon and then we find out that President W has been detained--one of his locksmith jobs was going to take four times longer than expected, so he wouldn't be there for an hour, maybe an hour and a half. So we sent everybody else to go get lunch while Hermana Albrechtsen and I decorated a little bit. Luckily, Sister Owens, who runs the family history center, was there so she helped us out and it turned out pretty lovely. It's amazing what you can find in an LDS church building as far as decorations go. Eventually, everybody who needed to be there was in the same room and they were officially married. So cool. It was a little weird because apparently they had decided the night before that this was going to happen--and one of the Primary girls from our ward was getting baptized at about the same time so there was a bit of confusion--but it all worked out! haha I love those two and I am so happy for them.

Also had a great finding lesson with a member family, the Henricksen Family, in Dekalb. We taught about our mission vision--1000 baptisms in our mission in the year 2016--in relation to Lehi's vision at the beginning of the Book of Mormon. As we taught, Sis Henricksen told us that she had a coworker that we should go visit. Well, one thing led to another and right after dinner we followed her to his house and knocked on his door. It was awesome! He was ready to let us teach him before he even knew what we were going to teach him about! He is so prepared. We just taught him on the doorstep for a few minutes but we were able to set up an appt for this coming Wednesday at a time when Sis Henrickson and his whole family will be there. The vision is truly coming alive before our very eyes. And get this: he offered to feed us. Wow. Just, wow.

SUNDAY
Saturday night we had gotten a call from an unknown number and, come to find out, it was Howie A (from my first area in Normal)! He and his wife were passing through Sunday and wanted to stop in and see us both. Man I love those two so much. They also brought up a pan of cinnamon rolls. (They know us so well.) haha

Also, Saul and Francisca and Diego were all at church, plus Samuel and Imelda. Saul and Francisca were totally fellowshipping Samuel and Imelda--they're just too perfect. Also, Saul gave the lesson in Gospel Principles (he's not even a member yet people). Samuel shared a very sweet  thought/testimony at the end of our class, and Imelda seemed to enjoy herself too. Our Spanish group is getting pretty strong here; I love it. I love these people so much. I truly am so blessed to be serving as an Hermana in the Sycamore-Dekalb area of the Illinois Chicago West Mission. 

I have learned so much and I continue to learn and grow everyday. I am definitely not the same person that I was just 17 months ago, for which I am eternally grateful. I know that the Lord is hastening His work. This is the truth. There is no other organization or group of people on the earth that have the very authority of God to perform ordinances of salvation--for the living and the dead--and to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He stands at the head of His Church, and at the side of His disciples. Each of us has the potential, as children of God, to bear the name of Christ and share His restored gospel with all nations, kindreds, tongues and peoples. It is a privilege to be a full-time representative of Jesus Christ. I know that I am nothing; as to my own strength I am weak. But I truly can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. (Alma 26:12; Phil 4:13) This is the Church and Gospel of Jesus Christ, which were lost from the earth for nearly 2000 years. But God has not abandoned us; He has not ceased to speak to the children of men. He truly has restored His priesthood authority through a young man, even a prophet of the Lord, Joseph Smith. He truly did see God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, that spring morning in 1820, in a forest in upstate New York. I know it, and I know that God knows that I know it, and I cannot deny it. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and is another testament of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Together with the Bible, each of us may know the doctrine of salvation that we may inherit eternal life. All of this knowledge and even more is available to every child of God, if he or she will but ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true (Moroni 10:4). I know that He is your Father, and He will answer your sincere prayer, if you will but ask with real intent, believing that you will receive. Of this I testify, as a set apart representative of my Savior and Redeemer, even Jesus Christ, in His name, Amen.

Love, Hermana DeBuck

Fotos:


 1. With Gonzalo, Hermana Capps' convert here in Sycamore. He was overjoyed to see her again. I imagine that's what it'll be like in the spirit world, except probably even better. (:

 2. At the end of exchanges....it's super dark, sorry. haha but it was 8 o' clock at night. We do what we can, but we're only missionaries.

 3. Me with Jose and Ida at their wedding. (It wasn't even planned, but I totally match the colors we picked out for them...) They were so thrilled. And don't they look lovely!



4. Us with the Albrechtsens. It was so fun to see them again! They said when I come back to visit I can stay with them. haha I love them so much.


5. Got our hairs cut today. I love that members are willing to do that for us, for free. Even if we just used a garbage bag as a cape. haha it was definitely worth it. And doesn't my hair just look lovely....haha ah well. You know, you just stop caring after a while. Because there are more important things than how your hair looks--like the salvation of souls.