Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Week 69: Too Late, I Gave Your Presents to Homeless People

Well, merry late Christmas. I got a lot (?) of productive things done today so of course I put off writing this letter.

But I wrote a bunch of other people, so everyone else who received an email, count your many blessings, name them one by one. Everyone else, know that these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good.

Christmas was good. But didn't do much. But it's okay I guess.  This week was a blur, just like the past two (!). So uh I take off the full-time tag in nine weeks. Gag me with a spoon, por fis.

Saul and Francisca have set a date for their wedding, so wedding #3 on the mission, coming right up. Also in upcoming events: Jennifer is getting baptized this Saturday.  It's going to be great. 6 pm. Come support her. Or, just pray for her. She's amazing.

I feel like I've never done a baptism before because I feel like I'm forgetting something that we need to do. Did remember (thank you, Holy Ghost) that we need to fill out a baptismal record. So we'll be filling that out tonight with her and then as able to finish it when the time comes. 

I'm doing well. Still going strong and learning lots.

The Gospel is so true--more true than a PB&J.  I love being a missionary.

You actually can call hermanas "sisters", it's fine. Power booster is going great--except we forgot all last week to fill it out. Oops.

Perfect morning this morning? I think yes. I'm pretty sure I'm never going to finish eating all the treats we were given. So it'll probably still be there to the day I leave, whenever that is.

Love you all! Don't forget: a verse a day keeps the devil away.
- Hermana DeBuck

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Week 68: Christmas Call

We received this post the night before we were able to speak with our hermana via Skype. Since it was for Christmas, I thought I would share it with you too.  I'm grateful she is teaching what she knows is true.

(With love, from Hermana DeBuck, tu hija, hermana, y nieta)

Well, it's Christmas Eve. And it really just feel like another day in the life. Which I think is a good thing actually.

So Sister Griffin invited all the missionaries to write their testimony of the Savior today and gave us permission to send it to our families via email. I was able to spend an hour and a half or so studying the New Testament and a talk by Elder McConkie entitled "The Seven Christs". In the New Testament, I decided to mark in red all of the things that were manifestations of the love of God. And it was really cool to pay attention to the things Christ did just because of His love. He was Himself a walking manifestation of the love of God. And He gave so much of Himself early in His ministry to bless the lives of other people. I suppose I've always "known" that, but I wanted to truly know and feel that; that was what I asked for in prayer when I began studying this evening. And it's not like I had some marvelous vision or anything, but I think I feel it more. It's hard to know exactly how Christ said the things we read in the scriptures, but trying to hear Him say it helped me feel His love a little bit more.

I read the verse that says "by their fruits ye shall know them", and while He was talking about prophets, it also applies to Him. I know that Christ loves me because of His fruits in my life. I know I've felt the Spirit comfort me when I was trying to hide myself away from the world. I know He's answered my prayers and questions through thoughts mostly, sometimes through feelings, and on the rare occasion through some physical manifestation. I KNOW that God is there, even though I've never seen Him. And I will always know that. I know that Jesus of Nazareth is in fact the Son of the Living God. He is the Christ, the Messiah. He is the Savior and Redeemer of the world, of whom all the prophets have testified. I know it, and I know that God knows that I know it. I cannot and I will not deny it.

I know that He loves me and has a plan for me, just for me. I know that He will provide a way to overcome every trial, test, or obstacle. I've learned as well that although He will always provide a way to overcome, He will never force me to take that route. He loves me enough to le tme make mistakes so that I can learn and grow. And no matter what choices I make, He will always be there for me, waiting for me to turn to Him. Although He volunteered to be our Savior--my Savior--and He gave His life willingly, we must still choose to accept Him. And the way to accept Christ is by keeping His commandments (John 14:15). I know He loves me, and I know I love Him, so I will keep His commandments--one of which is to repent. I love that commandment in particular and I am so grateful that He made it possible to keep every single commandment, bit by bit. I know He's helping me to reach my potential every day because He wants me to become like Him and to return to live with Him, Heavenly Father, and my family forever in the celestial kingdom--He wants that for all of us.

I know all of this is true. I feel it in my heart and the Spirit confirms to my spirit that they are true. And I know that this knowledge isn't unique to me; any person on the earth, any child of God, can come to know that all this--and much more--is true. If they will but ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, and faith in Christ, they can know the truth of all things (Moroni 10:3-5).

I love the Lord. I know that He loves us. And because He loves us, He has restored His Gospel to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that because He loves us, He has called a prophet in this very day. His name is Thomas S. Monson. I know that because Christ loves us, He has brought forth the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ so that we may know of the covenants of the Father, and know that we are not cast off forever. I know that God is literally our Father and He has provided the way for us to return to Him, through His Only Begotten Son, even Jesus Christ.
This I declare in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Week 68: Fotos

Mom note: We never heard from Hermana Jill on Monday before Christmas.  Worried something was wrong with the internet connection at my parents' place I called the mission office in a (tiny) panic about our directions on Christmas day.  The next day, this is what I received.

Okay sorry I forgot to tell you that our Pday changed. So we will be calling at 4:00 pm our time. I got a message from Elder Murchison telling me a number to call. I think it must be the house number. So am I supposed to call or Skype? I guess if it comes down to it, I can call and then figure it out. Anyway. I think that's about it. Love you! Talk to you soon.

  1-2. After planning, the day Hermana Albrechtsen's mom sent her reindeer antlers.

  3. After planning, on exchanges with Hermana Lunt. Maybe you've noticed, but this is what nightly planning will do to you...or at least to me.

4. Zone Christmas party yesterday. We were visited by the three kings, who handed out our Christmas packages. This is all the Hermanas/sisters in the two Rockford zones.

5. After exchanges. Hermana Albrechtsen, due to some unfortunate circumstances, was basically blind (no contacts) so she wasn't sure where to look.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Week 67: "Strah-mag-lee-uh: Like Spaghetti. But Not At All"

5 Questions:
1. Any idea what schedule we need to use for a call on Christmas yet?
2. How is the new area?
3. Will you still get to attend Jose & Ida's baptisms?
4. Who is you new companion? What is she like?
5. What else changed with this transfer?

  1. Not sure yet. Honestly, I'm still not sure what is going on here, period. haha just because there is so much going on. I would guess we'll probably Skype in the morning/afternoon. California would be two hours earlier than here? I'm pretty positive it is at least some amount of time earlier so 9 am here would be bad, right? haha I doubt it'll be that time. We'll probably do studies in the morning and then do weekly planning so we'd finish at about 3, so sometime after that I would think. Not positive but I'll let you know for sure next week. Just don't let me forget to tell you.
  2. Wow. Where do I even begin...? Well, first off, keep in mind that I've been in Rochelle for the past six months (literally) and Rochelle is the smallest branch in the stake. And now I'm in two wards. Granted, not huge wards (I think) but still, two wards. It actually reminds me a lot of Bloomington-Normal. Not just that there are more than one ward but even the town itself. Sycamore and Dekalb basically get smashed into one, just like Bloomington-Normal. And it's a college town. And it even looks a lot like it, architecturally speaking. It's kinda crazy. So that's kind of fun for me, but it's also weird. And then, serving in two wards is kind of overwhelming. At the beginning I didn't know any better but after serving in two small branches (separately) before, this is pretty overwhelming. But it's good. I've met a lot of awesome people and the work here is truly flourishing. It's amazing.
  3. Definitely! Especially since the baptismal service will be here in Sycamore. haha so that's awesome. At this point, I don't know exactly what's going on, but it sounds like the new Hermana there is perfect for the area in this moment--her mom is a cake decorator and so she knows a lot and the Hermanas offered to make the wedding cake. And they might take them up on that...but that's all I know as of right now.
  4. My new companion is Hermana Albrechtsen. She is somehow distantly related to Brother Albrechtsen from the Normal ward. She is actually a lot of me, but also different. She's absolutely adorable and looks like she could be a Disney princess. She loves to eat food. She ran for BYU before the mission. She comes from a big family (7 kids + 2 parents). She reported about the same time of year that I did, just a year later. I'm finishing up her training, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't even need it. She is an amazing missionary and I am so glad to get to serve with her. This first week seriously flew by. I can hardly believe it's even happened.
  5. Um.....well. I'm not sure what else could change that I haven't mentioned. New companion, new area, but that's about it. Oh, I did get an email on Thursday from the mission saying they've purchased my plane ticket home. I literally gagged when I read that. But, it's okay. I knew it was coming. And it'll all work out. I'm definitely not going to stop working. I will keep moving forward and trusting in the Lord.

As far as this week goes, well it's been crazy and yet I feel like nothing worth reporting has happened. But then, that's a lie. haha.

We had stake conference and it was amazing! Here's some of the things I learned:
  • Since the new Christmas initiative began, the video "A Savior is Born" has been viewed 16 million times. On average, there have been 172,236 visits to mormon.org per day since the initiative began (on 29 Nov). And there have been 6,942 self-referrals (meaning someone has requested a Bible, a Book of Mormon, or missionaries to come to their very own door.)
  • Our inspired mission president told the Rockford Illinois stake "No one has to sit on the sidelines of missionary work." The funny thing about the work and the glory of God is that it's going to happen. It just is. Whether or not we are a part of it. But it is our privilege to be a part of it, and absolutely NO ONE has to sit on the side lines and just watch it happen. Everyone can be an active participant.
  • In this dispensation, there are three "prophetic priorities", as told by our stake president. They are 1) Keeping the Sabbath day holy, 2) Family history and temple work, and 3) Members and missionaries working together. Just as the people during Noah's time had to listen to him for revelation concerning the flood to come and not just to the past prophets, we too must heed the counsel of the Lord's living prophets in order to withstand the floods of our time. 
  • There is a hymn, which was sung by the choir I was privileged to be a part of, called "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy". As we drove up, our bishop's wife, Sister Malley, told us some of the background of this lovely hymn. And I would like to sum up what she said: In some places with reefs, in order to come to shore there is frequently only one passage to get to the shore without hitting the reef. So they will put a light at the top of the hill/mountain and a light lower down, on the shore, so that when those two lights are in line with each other from a view out at sea, that is the path you must follow in order to find your way safe to shore. Here's a description from a talk in General Conference: "A light on the hill above the beach and a second lower light marked the narrow passage. When a boat was maneuvered so that the two lights were one above the other, the boat would be lined up properly to pass through the dangerous rocks that lined the passage." And as was explained in stake conference this weekend, as members of the church of Jesus Christ, we are that lower light. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are the light on top, but we must shine brightly (Matthew 5 & 3 Nephi 12) so that others can find their way safe to shore. In another comparison, the missionaries are one light and the members are the other. We MUST work together in order to bring souls unto Christ.
Also, we taught a man named Pablo whom the hermanas had taught once before, part of the restoration on his doorstep, and then he'd come to church the Sunday before I got here. We went by on Friday and we found out he'd read the entire Gospel Principles book he'd been given on Sunday and had read about 5 pages in the Book of Mormon. Holy cow! Oh, and he came to stake conference yesterday. So he's pretty cool. He accepted a baptismal date of 23 January. But that'll probably be moved up sooner. So excited!

We are teaching the most amazing couple of all time. No joke. Their names are Francisca and Saul. They have a 7 year old son named Diego who absolutely LOVES going to Primary. Saul and Diego came to the ward Christmas party on Friday and he got up on stage when the Primary sang. He totally fits right in. It's awesome. That right there is the effect that members can have. Thanks to a Primary President who is aware of all the kids at the party and at church on Sunday. Francisca and Saul want to be baptized but we have to work out some things first, but I am SO EXCITED to work with them.
Also, we have one of the greatest ward mission leaders of all time, Brother McConkie. To make a long story short, he and his family moved to Illinois from Utah in order to be missionaries. That was the whole reason. haha they're amazing.

There is literally so much to say but I just can't sum it all up, so I think this is about it. The members here are awesome (I probably say that about every area though) and I'm excited to see miracles with Hermana Albrechtsen. She hardly even needs training--I think I need the 12 Week program more than she does!

The Gospel is true! Families truly are forever, when we fulfill our part of the commandments and covenants of God. He loves us, more than we can possibly comprehend. That's why He called the prophet Joseph Smith. Through him, the complete Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. God answers prayers, but only if we first do them. I know that all this is true, with all of my heart and soul.

Love, Hermana DeBuck


1. We went to Panda Express after zone conference with all the sisters in our zone and Hermana Albrechtsen got fortunes that were super similar. It must come true then!

2. One day we made dinner and we had a can of soup but we didn't think it was going to be enough so we added canned vegetables but I kinda forgot what I was doing and ended up adding the whole can of corn.

3. So then we decided we might as well just add the whole can of green beans too. haha so this is what it looked like.

4. My last day in Rochelle, we taught an hermana and I took a selfie with her kids. Aren't they great? haha

5. In case you're wondering. It's 14 December and there isn't a snow cloud in sight... How weird.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week 66: Photos!!

For whatever reason, Hermana DeBuck didn't send a letter, just photos.  But oh, the photos!! We have received her travel itinerary this past weekend, and she is scheduled to return to us on March 2nd at 1PM at the SLC airport.  We'll keep you posted on the details, but in the meantime, enjoy some crazy pictures from our Hermana.

 With Sister Sampson. Yes, I am ridiculous. But I couldn't resist.

  It may be blurry, but this was probably the best photo with Rosa and Betty and Chimi. I just realized this Sunday how gorgeous Rosa is! Man I love that woman. Look at that dazzling smile.

 Favorite nativity of the night. Enough said.

 All of the sisters in the mission, at the temple together.

Ate at a Chinese buffet this week (because we could) and I ate some sushi in honor of my best friends from home. haha

 Our zone, from left to right: (back) S. Smith, H. Jarosz, S. Halliday, H. Beuhner, S. Taggart, S. Carlson, H. Akina, S. Waters, H. Albrechtsen, S. Murphy, H. DeBuck, H. Henricksen. (front) Elders
Frark, Hibbard, Hastings, Weigel, Clark, Maughn, Harvey, Hadlock (for both the zone and district photos, this was about as normal as it gets....missionaries are SO weird.)

 Our district--plus the zone leaders, from left to right: (back) Elders Hibbard, Weigel, Frark, Clark, Hermanas Akina, Albrechtsen, Henricksen, DeBuck. (front) Elders Hadlock, Harvey.

 Almost all the sisters in our zone (missing one set) in a selfie. The hermana in the foreground just in front of me is Hermana Albrechtsen, mi hijastra. (:

 The second time it snowed, driving to district meeting. You can hardly tell the difference between the ground and the sky. So cool.

Bro & Sis Crockett

Sis Silene Walters

 Kelly Walters

The DiSimoni boys (Connor, Spencer, Brighton, Aiden)

Sis Patty Page & Sis Natasha Pranga