Monday, November 25, 2013

Attitude of Gratitude

Happy Turkey Day!

Transfers are here once again. It is always a stressful but exciting time. There is a lot of change. Some good and some not so good. But it is an opportunity for growth and new expereinces. I have learned so much from the different companions and areas I have served with and in so I welcome the change with the best attitude I can. I will be staying in Laguna Beach! YAY! I wanted to be here for Christmas so badly. Sister S is being transferred. I am really sad to see her go. We had our differences but in the end we were a great team. We balanced each other out and got stuff done. I will be in a trio again this transfer. I am assuming with another STL and then just a normal sister. Trios are always a little stressful because you have one more person to worry about and include but it also has its upsides. Ever since transfer calls I have been at peace. I am not exactly sure what is going to happen but I know it will all work out. There are quite a few people in the zone being transferred so it will be sad to see them go but exciting to have some fresh faces around. Elder H, one of the zone leaders that we share a ward with is leaving. I'll miss him a lot. I really got along well with him and we thought similarly which helped in couneling about our zone. But I am sure whoever replaces him will be great. I forget how much drama there is around transfers. Everyone is gossiping and trying to figure out and predict what is going to happen. I used to take part in that and decided it just isn't worth it. Not to mention majority of the time my guesses would be wrong anyways. I will let you know the details like always next week of what ends up happening.

This is going to be a busy, exciting, weird week. Everytime there is a holiday life seems to slow down for everyone else but us, as missionaries it's not that different. School is out Wednesday thru the weekend so a lot of people will be out of town which is a bummer. But there is a lot of good going on this week. We are serving at a homeless lunch on Thanksgiving in the early afternoon and then have been invited to Bishop G for Thanksgiving dinner. And we have Bs baptism on Sunday night. I can not tell you how excited I am. We were planning out the program in our ward mission meeting and it made me so happy. We taught him the Word of Wisdom, Chastity, and the Law of Tithing this week and he accepted to live all of them. He is a coffee drinker but has no problems giving it up. He reminds me so much of my first convert L. Things just seemed too good to be true. But what I continue to learn is that the Lord is at the head of this work and He is the one that makes all of this possible.  I am just grateful that the Lord has prepared B so well to accept the gospel and that he is using his free agency for good. We picked up G (9) and E (12) (K's kids/B's step kids) this week as investigators. Our vision is that B will be able to baptize them after he has received the priesthood, when the kids have completed the lessons and have permission from their dad. How neat will that day be? Brains baptism is opening up the doors to countless blessings for him and his family. Working with B and K is a miracle. When I look at them I see a family preparing to go to the temple to be sealed. I studied covenants this week and gained so much insight, especially since I am working with the Rh family. Baptism is the first true covenant that we make and it is incredibly important. But it is the gate or the beginning to the opportunity to make more covenants. It is a preparation for the temple. I had never truly recognized that before. B making the covenant of baptism will allow them to work towards being sealed in the temple as an eternal family. THAT IS AMAZING. And I can't wait to be there with them. The blessings of a mission last much longer than the time you simply serve. The experiences you have change you and stay with you forever. And I know I will see blessings from serving a mission throughout the entirety of my life.

I have so many things to be grateful for. As Thanksgiving is approaching I have been pondering a lot on what matters most. There is so much distraction in the world. There is so much fighting for our attention. But in the end what matters most? Well for me at least is comes down to the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is what brings true happiness. This is where I find peace, comfort and understanding. I know that I am a daughter of God. I know that I matter and have a purpose. I know that families can be together. I know the binding power of covenants. I know that we have a living prophet. I know that through the atonement I can change and progress. And so much more. The gospel brings light to all of lifes concerns. I don't know what I would do without it. It has become the core of who I am. my desire to share what I know grows as my own conversion and understanding deepens. I know that God loves all of His children and I am here to help those that have lost sight of this knowledge remember how important they are.

Last night we had the opportunity as a mission choir to perform at a Interfaith Thanksgiving service here in Laguna Beach. There were different scripture readings and prayers offered by other faiths. It was neat to all gather together. The coolest part was the spirit that was there as 80 missionaries stood to sing Come Thou Fount and Prayer of Thanksgiving. It is moments like those when you know you are part of the true church. There is bits and pieces of truths in the others but we have them all.

Remember who you are and whose you are! Children of God. I am so thankful for all of you and your love and support. It means more than you know. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving feast!


Sister Kimball

Monday, November 18, 2013

Life is Nuts

Happy Monday Everyone!

Life as a missionary will never cease to amaze me. It is the best, hardest, greatest, weirdest expereince you can have. And as more and more time goes on I continue to realize just how much I am being prepared for all the challenges and excitement of my future. There are often times when I am visiting with other sisters that are struggling or investigators with concerns and as I rely on the Spirit to help me know what to say I can't help but think this is preparing me for raising my own kids. It has been cool to see that an element of the gospel can fix just about every problem that someone is facing. Most times it comes down to the Atonement. The Savior truly is the answer to all of our problems. That is why He is the center of the gospel. I have been working on applying this very fact to my own life. When I am frustrated or tired I turn to the Lord for help. I ask for strength. When I am happy and blessings are being poured out upon me, I thank Heavenly Father for His love. Something I have learned over time is rarely do people trust someone they don't know. This is true for Jesus Christ as well. How well can we feel the power of the Atonement in our lives if we don't really know who Christ is to us individually. I have been working on that personal relationship lately and it has been the greatest blessing to strengthen my faith and understanding of who the Savior truly is. He is my brother, my friend, my mediator, my Savior, and He loves me. I invite all of you to ponder on who the Savior really is to you individually. And I want you to know how much He loves each of you.

I can't remember if I have mentioned the weekly Momonade stand that we set up. Laguna Beach high is right across the street from the church building. Every Thursday at 2:30 right as school is getting out we set up a few tables in the church parking lot with lemonade and cookies on one side and a bunch of pamphlets, cards, and BOMs on the other. The deal is "Ask a question and listen to the get a free cookie and cup of lemonade." We have been doing it for a little over a month now and it has been a pretty good success so far. We have a lot of the youth bring friends and hang around as other kids come up and ask questions. The last couple weeks we've been dealing with the sarcastic kid that just likes to argue. He is a huge science vs. religion debator and doesn't believe that God is plausable. He asks lots of questions but never seems to listen to the answers because they require work on his part. This past week a girl from our ward was there as we were talking to him and cut in after a couple minutes because she could tell it was contentious. She bore an awesome testimony of how living the gospel makes her a happier person and that as members and missionaries we are not here to convince or argue but to invite people to enjoy the same happiness we have found from following the example of Jesus Christ. The kid was still a punk but P did such a great job. It was so great to see her stand up for what she knew was right. She is one of greatest member missionaries. She taught me the value of a simple testimony. Many times when we are lost for what to say or don't know how to answer someones question the best thing we can do is share simple decletations of truth. And how we have come to a knowledge of them. Then simply invite others to have an opportunity to have the same assurance and understanding. A testimony is a powerful thing.

Now for a brief update on our investigators:

C came to YW in excellence this week. She has seen a few of the girls wearing their medallions and wants one for herself so bad. She has already started working on personal progress. She is the greateast. Unfortunately we couldn't meet with her later this week because she was grounded for grades and then was in Beverly Hills for the weekend so she missed church as well. She is so ready to be baptized. The only thing holding her back is asking her mom for permission. We told her that Heavenly Father would prepare a way for her to know what to say. When her mom came to church she loved it. It is just a matter of C building up the courage to ask. The youth as going to fast for her. Sister S and I have been praying about her in almost every prayer. We know Heavenly Father has a plan for her. We are just going on faith that she will act sooner than later. We are meeting with her tomorrow to encourage her and set a firm baptismal date with her.

S has made incredible progress these past couple of weeks. We have made a breakthrogh with her. In our lesson on Thursday she opened up about not feeling like she could ever measure up to the kind of mormons that she knows. She feels like she is incapable of making that change. She feels a lot of hesitation because Satan is whispering in her ear that she will never be good enough. We talked a lot about prayer. We had our lesson at the Bishops house with his wife Jen and she shared how imperfect she was no matter how it may appear that she has everything together. Without going into details we all shared that we each have weaknesses that we are working to overcome. By the end of the lesson she saw hope. She talks about the distinct difference she feels when she is around us compared to when she is in the world. She said that since she has been taking the lessons things that people said or did that never used to bother her do now. We explained that she is more sensitive and intune with the Spirit. We invited her to be baptized when she came to know that the things we are teaching her is true and she accepted. This was a miracle. A week ago baptism wasn't even an option. She didn't want us to talk about it or bring it up and now she has committed to follow through on the answers that she receives. Amazing!

B is a super star. We met with him last Monday and set a baptismal date for November 30. We met with him later that week at Bishops house with a member. We taught the Plan of Salvation and it was super powerful. K and B have 2 little girls and K has 2 kids from a previous marriage and he is just the best dad. Knowing that he could be with his family forever was amazing to him. Since he had no religious background he had never really worried too much about where he came from or why he was here. We asked him to say the closing prayer and in it he thanked Heavenly Father for the path that he is on and all his questions that have been answered. He talked about how he had always longed for someone solid to follow and how he knows Jesus Christ is the best example. It was so neat to listen to him pray. Church was packed this week because we had a traveling acapella group visiting from BYU and a homecoming talk. When B arrived there wasn't many seats and I had to ask people to move so they could have a place to sit. I noticed that K wasn't there and just figured she was trailing behind. After they sat down and were all situated I asked where she was and he told me she was sick. My heart melted a little. I thought of how easy it would have been for him to just not come but instead he came and brought all 4 kids with him. He is amazing. He longs to truth and feeling the Spirit. I can't wait to have a Family Home Evening with them tonight at the C's house. He is right on track for baptism on the 30th! :)

I feel so blessed to be a missionary. I know I am where I am meant to be doing what I am supposed to be doing. The things I am learning and the experiences I am having are changing my life and making it better. It is the greatest feeling waking up each morning and knowing I am in the Lords team doing His work. I have seen so many miracles and I have come to realize that nothing is impossible with the Lords help. He has made that abbundantly clear.

Thanks for all your prayers and love. I hope you all have a good week!

Much love,

Sister Kimball :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Miracles Continue

Aloha from sunny Laguna Beach!

So this week I definitely hit my half way mark freak out. I have been reflecting a lot on my mission experience so far. I have been a part of so many amazing things. oddly enough, looking back it is hard not to feel like all in all I have not accomplished very much. I was kind of down on myself. I felt like I had wasted so much time. There was so much more I could have done. But then I realized I was looking at it all wrong. I wasn't counting the miracles and blessings that I experienced and continue to experience everyday for what they are worth. I remember when L was baptized I told myself that I felt like my mission was complete. I knew there was more people for me to meet and teach but I felt all the success I needed in bringing her unto Christ. As time goes by those feelings begin to drift away. How we look at success and its definition has become a true focus for me. There is always more that I can do but as long as I am doing my best that is all that matters. That is all the Lord expects of me. I am excited to move forward and finish my mission well. Time flies by and now more than ever I want to make sure that I make every day count.

This past week was incredible. The miracles kept coming. It is amazing how a week can start off slow and just burst into opportunities by the end. I have decided that it is Heavenly Father trying our faith and then blessing us for our obedience. Good things take time. I have truly been overwhelmed with the Spirit and my testimony of why I am here, now has grown even deeper. The Lord is aware of me. And He is aware of you. He is preparing us all for so much greatness. The question is are we going to turn our will to His will?

Miracle #1
There is a family that was brought up in ward council a couple weeks ago by the YW's president (Cl). Long story short it is a friend of hers who grew up in the church but has not been active for years (Ch R). She is married to a non member (B R). They have 4 kids. The oldest son is friends with S. C son. Ch approached S. C one day and started asking about the church it wasn't long until she was in the Bishops office talking things over with him. They participated in our wards Trunk or Treat and their daughter (non member) participated in our wards primary program. They have been to church for the past 3 weeks. Ch has stayed all 3 hours every time. You can tell that she has come home. She just fits in so perfectly. B stayed for the all three hours for the first time yesterday. This is where it gets exciting. We have felt so excited about setting something up with them since the first time we heard their names. The Cls kind of told us to back off so that is what we were doing. We actually were told by B. Cl that he thought it would be better for the Elders to teach B because they are guys and can relate better. We were super bummed and let down. At church we waved and said hello to the R's and left it at that. But then something amazing happened. After gospel principles class as we were getting ready to move on to relief society Ch grabs my arm and says, "this is going to sound crazy but I haven't been to church since I was like 16 and my husband has a bunch of questions...would you be willing to come over to our house this week and teach us?" It didn't sound crazy to us at all. It was music to our little missionary ears. We were so excited that they had sought us out. We set up a time and chatted for a bit. She asked us where we were from and said I looked familiar. I could tell there was something she wanted to say but was holding back. I didn't want to push it so I left it alone. Then when we were in Relief Society before it began she came up to me and and with tears in her eyes said, "I know you. I couldn't say this when we were with my husband but I know you. I have dreamt about you. You are supposed to teach my husband." With tears in my eyes I gave her a hug and said, "well it looks like we are going to get to know each other a lot better!" I was overcome with the Spirit in a different way than I ever had been. Heavenly Fathers plan never ceases to amaze me. I just feel so blessed to be a part of it. It reillistrated to me that there is so much work for me to do. There are people that have been prepared for me. It was one of the greatest moments on my mission thus far. We are meeting with Ch and B tomorrow night. I am kind of nervous. I feel like there is this new found pressure not to mess things up. But I know the Spirit won't allow that to happen.

Miracle #2
After church we went to see if R and A were home (the hispanic father and son). And they were. We asked if they had a few minutes to chat and they said sure. R the dad opened up about how he had been doing a lot of research on the internet and there is a lot of negative stuff about mormons out there. We were all worried they were just going to drop us and it was a little contentious at the beginning but we got into a discussion about truth. We reexplained what the Book of Mormon is and went over the story of Joseph Smith and modern day prophets. The son Anthony had a question for everything. The Spirit was there and Sister S and I had an answer for everything. It turned into what we like to call a "smash" a smart bash. It wasn't our words against was let us add more truth to that which you already have. R feels like he needs more time to get a basic understanding. We compared A to joseph Smith, he is in the search for truth in a world of so many religions. You can tell he wants to follow God because of the kinds of questions he asks. He is smart and well versed in the Bible. He kept talking about Gods plan for him and how he was led to the bible. We said that was awesome but that maybe we were part of Gods plan for him too, to add even more to the knowledge that he has. They are both defintiely interested. Then R Jr. shows up. This is the oldest son who is an athiest. We talked to him for awhile too. It was all so facinating. The best part of all is we were able to present truth to a non believer and someone searching for truth and they listened. Different questions would lead into different parts of our lessons and it got to the point where we told them we were going to leave them on a cliff hanger for now. We told them to write questions down as they study from the Book of Mormon. We set up to meet with them next Sunday same time and got their number so we can plan for something inbetween. It was awesome. In the end we picked up R Jr. and A as new investigators. We are so excited for the next time we get to meet with them.

Miracle #3
We met with C on Monday and she is just so great. She is kind of slow to understand things sometimes. But in her defense she is only 14 and all this is brand new to her. With cross country finishing up and Halloween we didn't get to see her again until church yesterday. A family from our ward invited us and her over for dinner. We talked about the importance of baptism and why we get baptized. After dinner we were able to take C to a baptismal service. She loved it. We kept dropping hints all night about her baptism. To remind you she is our investigator who's mom is being slow to give her permission to be baptized. At one point as the baptismal service was finishing up and refreshments were being announced...I leaned over and said, "there will definitely be food at your baptism!" She responded, "yeah if my mom ever lets me get baptized." I responded, "don't worry eventually she will." And to that she said, "And even if she doesn't, i'll just get baptized when I'm 18." I know with an attitude like that and the joint prayers of so many people her mom is going to soften her heart. She is actually going to come to church with C next week. We are going to extend a baptismal date for November 30th and then put our trust and faith in the Lord. As C was getting ready to leave the baptism with her friend from the ward (Sidney Kimball, weird!) she said, "hey, if there are any more of these baptisms...please invite me to come." She is so ready to be baptized. She feels the Spirit when she is at church, in lessons, and now at baptisms. I am hopeful that she will have to opportunity to be baptized soon!

These are just a few of the many miracles of the week. Please keep them all in your prayers! Reliving them as I typed each of them out brought back the same feeling of the Spirit I had as I actually experienced each of them. The Lord is preparing people. I feel so lucky to be a part of this work. It truly is amazing! I feel so spoiled for the blessings and miracles I am receiving. My testimony of this gospel grows each day. I know I am strengthened by my brother being out and my best friend preparing for the mission field. I could not be here without all of your love, support, and prayers. So thank you!

I hope you all have a wonderful week. Take time to look for the hand of the Lord in your day. He loves you.

:) S. Kimball