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