Jul 26, 2016

The Big Two Four

There has been a heat wave going through Omaha and it has gotten up to about 113 degrees with the heat index and close to 100% humidity, so that's been an adventure. Sister Hutchison and I have actually been really lucky to have been inside most of the week, so we didn't have to deal with it too much, but as we've braced it we've been able to see so many good things. Unfortunately, Emma ended up dropping us this week, but we have been able to find some new promising potential investigators, so we're excited to see what happens with them.

Birthdays on a mission are definitely different than they would be back home, but I couldn't have asked for a better day. My amazing mom arranged a little "surprise party" with the other sisters at the Trail Center that included pizza and cheesecake so I had no complaints at all. After we were at the Trail Center we volunteered at a health clinic and the doctors ended up taking us out to dinner at Wheatfields which was delicious. When we got back to the Trail Center that night we had found that a member from our ward had dropped off a huge platter of food from Famous Daves and another member was there with cupcakes. It was so incredibly sweet of them! Good thing calories don't count on your birthday, right? Bennington knows how to do birthdays. I definitely felt so spoiled.

I loved going to church yesterday and having such a focus on the pioneers for Pioneer Day. To be honest, at the Trail Center it feels like every day is Pioneer Day, but I really wouldn't want it any other way. I feel so blessed to be able to share their story every day with the people I meet and to be serving and such a sacred place. They really are such an incredible example of sacrifice and doing whatever was asked of them because they had sunk their testimonies so deep into their hearts. I have grown such a love for them and I know that it will only continue to grow.

Thank you all so much for all of the birthday wishes! I honestly have no idea how I got so lucky to have such incredible family and friends, but I hope you all know how much I love you!
 I couldn't have asked for better company.

 Thanks for the balloons, mom!

 This is how we party.

 None of them are leaving. Ever. Departing testimonies are the worst.

Happy Pioneer Day, everyone!

Jul 18, 2016

Mosiah 8:18

I was able to go on exchanges with Sister Yancey this week and we were able to see so many miracles. I know that I say that all of the time, but as a missionary you really do see everything as a miracle because you realize that there is no way that you can do this work on your own. One miracle that happened was when we were trying a less active and saw a woman sitting on the bench smoking. We felt prompted to talk to her so we pulled the car over right then and walked up to the park. When we saw her we told her that we felt like God wanted us to talk to her and her response? "Ok. Take a seat." We ended up teaching her the Restoration and got a return appointment to see her again. Another miracle that happened was when we were tracting down a trail and saw a man and a woman sitting in their truck. We went up to them as well and told them the same thing: that God wanted us to talk to them. The man has learned about church before and actually has a copy of the Book of Mormon. He's very active in his own faith, but we came to find out that the woman he was with was having a really hard time in life right now. We taught them the Restoration as well and she just kept saying "I know that you were sent here to talk to me. This was just for me." She ended up taking a Book of Mormon and although we weren't able to get a return appointment with her, we could definitely tell that her heart was being softened. One day she will find the truth for herself.

Bennington has been one of the harder areas that I've been in because it's one of the richer areas in the mission. When that is the case, people aren't as open to listening to our message because they think that they have everything that they need in life, but I have definitely been able to learn a lot from it. I have learned how important it is to humble ourselves and realize that we can't do this life on our own and to make sure that we thank our Heavenly Father for all that He continues to bless us with everyday. It also has helped me realize how blessed we are to know that we don't have to do this on on our own. How comforting is that?

The Trail Center has been crazy, but that is to be expected in July. One exciting event: a tour of 150 polygamist came in. So that was fun. Life is definitely never dull around here. Other happy news: Eli and Christine had their baby! Aryannah Elizabeth Lukat was born on July 17. Also, it is so funny to look around and see people playing the new Pokemon game and know nothing about it. Such is the life of a missionary, I guess.

 Exchanges always make us a little loopy. 

 Please excuse the Ute shirt. We're working on it.

Miranda Sings, anyone?

Jul 11, 2016

Fire of the Covenant

At zone training this week, we had a training about covenants and we were asked to think about how they have influenced our lives. I thought about what it really means to make a covenant with God and came to realize how incredible it is that our Heavenly Father gives us the opportunity to make a promise with Him with promised blessings in return. Covenants really are what give us the strength and power that we need to overcome Satan, fully apply the Atonement of Christ in our lives, and be able to become like Him. We were then asked the question, "Are you bringing the power of God upon yourselves?" That really helped me realize what covenants are able to do for us in our lives and the power that they can provide for us. How incredible is it that we are always able to have the power of God with us at all times? All that we have to do is be worthy to accept and access it.

We were also able to go to the temple this week and I felt like I hadn't been there in years. But I came to realize how spoiled I am to be able to see the temple almost every day and that I have been able to go inside so often while I have been on my mission. Because we had talked about covenants earlier in the week, I thought about them while I was in the temple and it was amazing to be able to reflect on the covenants that I have made and see how they really have influenced my life in so many ways. While I was in the Celestial Room, I had the most overwhelming feeling of just being at home. The Winter Quarters temple really has become a home for me and it breaks my heart to know that I can't stay here forever, but I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have that home is where you make it and that I'm truly never alone. I have so been blessed with such incredible family and friends and I know that no matter where I am, my Savior and Father in Heaven will always be there.
 Omaha West Zone. These are some good people.

 Sister Hutchison's mom sent us CafĂ© Rio through her neighbor. Best. Day. Ever.

 Happy 17 months!

Jul 5, 2016

Happy Birthday 'Murica: Part Two

The Olympic Swim Trials have been going on this week here in Omaha, so we have had a lot of people coming into the Trail Center for that. We've been waiting for Michael Phelps to come in, but alas. Maybe next time.

It was kind of an interesting week, but I guess you could say it was in a good way. Some noteworthy events: I tried sushi for the first time (not bad actually), took pictures in a real Nebraska cornfield, ate WAY too many donuts, learned how to make homemade chicken wings and fries and enjoyed a nice 60 degree rainy day in July. So overall, I can't complain.

The fourth of July provided us with some nice weather as well. It only got up to about 80 degrees, so Sister Hutchison and I decided that would be perfect weather to go shopping at an outlet mall. (We also just find any excuse to go shopping.) Afterwards, we had a crepe bar with the other sisters at the Trail Center and then we were on shift that night. The Clarks, the senior couple on shift with us, decided that we still needed to party, so they bought us all Jimmy Johns, made potato salad, cut up some watermelon and even played the Mo-Tab American CD. So even though I wasn't able to see Tim McGraw (definitely sad about that), we still had so much fun!

I really am so grateful to be in this free country where I and those I love can live and worship as we choose. I love the month of July because we not only get to celebrate and honor those who have defended and continue to protect our country, but also the pioneers who sacrificed everything so that we could have the freedoms and blessings that we have today. I feel so blessed to be able to share their story every day and to be serving where they gave so much. I definitely feel spoiled.

 Nebraska cornfield picture. Nailed it.

 The Hansens left us this week. My heart is still breaking.

 Happy 4th of July, everyone!

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