Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Final Countdown!

Dearest Family and Friends,

With the Lord's help, I made it. So crazy. I can't believe this is my last email as a missionary. I am going to miss this life, but my body is tired and I'm excited to rest (not too much) and then get back to work and continue to seek to go where the Lord wants me to go, and be what He wants me to be. There is nothing more satisfying. 

It's been a fun day so far - went out to breakfast with my "Black mama" - had grits, biscuits, sausage and bacon. Went and toured "Shadows on the Teche" a plantation home here in town. Now emailing, a random Christian man reciting Jesus poems to us, we'll give him a pamphlet or a BooK of Mormon on the way out, mailing all my stuff home, Walmart, and packing. Then dinner with Rico and Sharika.

To end (sorry this is short, we'll chat in person in a few days!)  I just wanted to share an experience we had yesterday. I wrote about it to my mission president.

"I have been striving to endure to the end, and Satan tempted me to just take it easy yesterday. Thankfully I didn't listen (my companion wouldn't have let me listen) and we went out and worked our tails off. The coolest experience was when we stopped to talk to a boat mechanic that we always bike pass as we ride down Fulton street. I was thinking, "k, I'm leaving soon, I NEED to talk to this guy, I've seen him so many times." So I stopped my bike and called out to him and he came over to us and I started talking to him and offered him a pamphlet. As soon as he saw the pamphlet he mumbled "I don't believe in that stuff" and walked away. We persisted a little bit but he ignored us. It broke my heart a little, because I have a feeling that he needs the gospel more than anyone, but hopefully one day his heart will be softened. We biked 5 more yards and came to an intersection, and I saw 3 men sitting on their porch. We made eye contact and I almost bike past (still discouraged from the last guy) by the Spirit kind of turned my handlebars and steered us towards these men. They were looking at us like we were crazy but we were just really friendly and started talking to them and told them who we are. We ended up briefly teaching the Restoration and explaining that we believe that there are prophets on the earth again today and we have new and additional scripture. The one man that was paying the most attention and who said he is open said, "What kind of scripture ya got? So we pulled out the Book of Mormon and taught them about that too. I told him, "I can only give this to you if you'll actually read it, because it's a very special book." And he promised to read it. It was super amazing. This morning I was wondering if they were just playing us, but then we got a text from the guy, Derrick, that said he's reading the book and he wants to discuss it when we come back on Thursday. Man, I just got the missionary fire all over again and I felt like I was fresh out of the MTC even though it was my last full day of proselyting. I want to carry this fire with me on the airplane on Thursday and with me through out my whole life. I love being the Lord's servant, and I intend to be His servant until the day I die. That's my new vision for the future."

This is the Lord's work, and it moves on with or with out us - we can either get on board or be left in the wake. I am so filled with gratitude that the Lord would qualify me and help me to have the desire to get on board. I love you all, and I wouldn't have made it this far with out y'all. Thanks for being the best support team ever!
-Sister Chausow

Attached is a picture of my and miss pat (my black mama), her granddaughter Derryan and the missionaries in my district. So fun! So much love!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

New Iberia Insanity

Hello to the parents that I love so much! Time is short so I'm emailing both of yall at the same time, so sorry. Please don't be offended. 

Since Labor Day was yesterday the libraries were closed so we had p-day yesterday and then we had to squeeze in time today to email. 

Sounds like life has been crazy up in Wisconsin. That's crazy that your last year of seminary/high school is starting! Guess what - we are substitute teaching seminary for 3 days this week, so we'll all be feeling the pain together haha. The Assistants gave us permission to alter our schedule a bit, so hopefully we'll get to bed a bit earlier than normal to make up for less sleep in the morning. It'll be a challenge but it will be a blessing too - there is a youth that only comes to seminary but not to church, and one of the active youth often brings friends to seminary, so I'm excited for possible opportunities to find new people to teach and help come closer to Christ. Plus I'm excited because I just like working with teenagers in general, and I love the gospel, so those two things go together perfect!!!!

Hope y'all have fun with Kevin! Caitlyn sent me a picture of him haha.   

We might go have some Chinese food this week with Stanley, one of our returning members who is 78 and loves feeding and spending time with the missionaries. he is such a good example - he started coming back to church when he was 77 - it's never too late for anyone to come back!!!!

Ok, highlights of the week - and let me just say that it feels like Heavenly Father is giving me all the bang for the buck/last transfer of my mission. Seriously, He seems to have put this area into overdrive in terms of the branch needing help, as if to say - "Here! Work your heart out for the last few weeks!" It's exhausting, I might need therapy at the end, but it's awesome haha.

1.) We've had 2 inactive ladies call us within 2 weeks and ask for help getting their lives back in order. One is Miss P, an elderly lady who is abused/kind of enslaved by her posterity, and the other is Miss B, a woman who found out her husband was/is? cheating on her and it completely devastated her because they were very in love. So we've been helping them put the pieces back together spiritually and temporally - the branch has been helping out too, but the longer I'm here the more I realize that as missionaries our role is sometimes to just act as super faithful branch members and help out in whatever righteous way we can to support this small group of saints.

2.) We've been half biking/half driving this last week and it's been raining - I'm a little tired of being damp all the time, whether from rain or sweat haha. But we got a fresh batch of miles yesterday, hallelujah. No more biking in the ghetto for now! Yay!

3.) We went and toured the Konriko Rice Mill yesterday with the Elders and Stanley. It was really nice to learn about something other than the gospel for just a little bit. Normally on pday I just want to take a nap, but I'm glad Sister Groesbeck made us get out and do something because it really refreshed me mentally. 

4.) Life with Sister Groesbeck = awesome. We are both coming out of our shells more and more and we just have fun and laugh and work hard together. I'm still figuring out this whole training thing, and I'm trying to be the best example I can. Dad, thank you for the advice to be obedient. That has really helped me. This is what I wrote to President about that:
I'm working on humility this month for my Christ-like attribute, because training has definitely humbled me. Here are somethings that I've learned so far-
-I do not have to teach Sister Groesbeck everything to be the perfect missionary. I feel that my main responsibility is to teach her to be obedient so that the Spirit can teach her and shape her into the missionary/daughter of God that she has the potential to be. I know that the Lord has a plan for her mission and I don't need to worry about teaching her every single thing she'll need to know. 
-I need to make sure that we are diligent in studies because good preparation is required for a good, well-balanced lesson. 
-I have to have the faith to let her talk during lessons, even if she doesn't want to talk. I need to help her develop the faith to open her mouth and trust that it will be filled. 
-I need to be humble enough to accept correction - I'm so thankful that she's brave enough to point out deviations to me. I am learning that being over sensitive is a sign of pride, and I need to be thankful instead of offended when she calls me out.
-I was feeling really discouraged that the Lord wasn't sending experiences like what was shown on the District for my companion to have during her first weeks as a missionary. Instead, He's sent us curveball after curveball, and I've felt bad that we haven't been able to do How To Begin Teaching with a new investigator or teaching perfectly revelation through prayer/Book of Mormon/church attendance. We've made plans and tried to do all these things but time after time, the Lord asked us to do other things, help others, or teach something other than what we plan, and i was getting frustrated and discouraged. But as I prayed and pondered about this dilemma, I realized that is missionary work went perfectly and was like the District all the time, all she would need to do to be train would be to watch the District and mimic what she sees. One of the best gifts a trainer can give if to show the trainee how to respond to adversity - because there will be lots of it on the mission. The Spirit reminded me of one of my favorite poems that President Monson quoted in Conference-
"It's easy enough to smile
When life flows by like a song.
But the man worthwhile
Is the one who will smile
When everything goes dead wrong."
So I just replaced the word "man" with "trainer" and I found the strength to go on and not get discouraged. 

5.) "R" is back on track to be baptized. She's been 48 hours without a cigarette, she's read her scriptures for 3 days in a row, and she actually got an answer to one of her prayers - it wasn't the answer she was expecting but we helped her see that God really does answer and will magnify her efforts. Please pray that she can continue to quit smoking and continue to develop a testimony of the restored gospel.

I'm just taking life one day at a time, and I'm doing my best to finish strong. I try not to think about the end too much, but I was wondering if you could schedule some appointments for me - I need to see the dentist and the eye doctor when I get home. Nothing is wrong, but I need a cleaning (working for Dr. Knutsen made me paranoid about my teeth), and I can't order any more contacts until I see an eye doctor.

I love you all so much - thank you for being the awesome-est! I love you more than all the dog hair in the world! (I have a lot of it on my skirt right now and I forgot my lint roller at home...blast.)

-Sister Chausow

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Elders gave us their car!!

Mama! I just love hearing from you, it is soothing to my soul :D

I got your package the evening after I emailed you last week - thank you so much! Me and Sister Maxfield loved pulling out all the pink stuff the night before she went home. What a fun way to end our time together! You are so good at lifting our spirits. I'm now with Sister Groesbeck and she is awesome sauce. So fun, so dedicated, a little timid and scared still but once she gets over that she'll be a complete rockstar. We are both striving to be the best Preach My Gospel missionaries ever, and it feels so good. We went tracting last night and it's a rush, let me tell you. We had one lady open a little window next to her door, look us up and down, and say "I'm not interested!" and then slammed her little window door shut haha. It was awesome. Plus we got real good and sweaty and that always feels good too :)

Here is a pic of Sister Maxfield and I biking last week....trying to smile through all the sweat! LOL!!

So the elders gave us the car back - Elder Herbert has this whole gentleman complex and doesn't like it that we have to bike, so we have the car. However, most of the miles are gown - we had to drive from here to Baton Rouge, then to Morgan City to take some sisters home from transfer meeting, then back to New Iberia, and the office elders only could give us 83 miles to make up for it. Stink! Check it out on google maps, and you'll see how crazy tunes that is. I think. Maybe we didn't travel the most effective roads...oh well. So anyways, we have 75 miles for 7 days, and it's a 10 mile round trip to the church. So we are being conservative, trying to get rides from members, and we be biking of course! I love biking actually - it feels kind of awesome to be your own source of transportation. Plus, when my hearts pumping and the sweat's dripping, I just think of how Satan will never be able to have those sensations - he's missin' out! 

Ok, I want to tell you something funny - Sister Groesbeck's first full day here was spent moving this homeless family from one motel (Brad Walker, our Elders quorum president called it 'the den of Satan' because basically it was one big crack house) to another motel (Brad - "Even more the den of Satan" - it kind of was - there was prostitutes outside) and finally to a trailer out in the middle of nowhere. It wasn't even out in the cane fields - it was in the forest! So anyway, between the first and second moves, we had a planning meeting with Brother Brad and we were trying to figure out what we could commit this family to do so that they could be more stable, and also figure out boundaries so that they would know what they needed to do if they are to continue receiving help from the branch. After the first move, we thought they would be staying in that motel (they have 5 kids under the age of 10, not ok) and Brad was saying, "They have to get a decent place to live. You can't have 'Family Motel Evening' - it's just not ok!" hahaha and we all had a good laugh about that. So yeah, later we found out that they found this trailer so they were only in the 2nd den of iniquity for an hour. So no "family motel evening"! Thank goodness! And don't worry, we only visited them in the day time when they were living in the first den of iniquity. New Iberia has definitely changed my views on what it means to be "ghetto" and/or "sketchy." It's awesome though because you feel the Lord with you, you get promptings about when to to go where, and I feel very taken care of. 

Hopefully this email didn't freak you out....I'm doing the Lord's work, and it's awesome. I love it, and it's hard to imagine doing anything else.

I love you more than all the po'boys in Louisiana! (did I tell you about po'boys? Can't remember. They are delicious though. Fried shrimp is my favorite)

-Sister Chausow

Staying in New Iberia and Training


It was so good to hear from you! Thanks for all the updates. I loved hearing about everything!

So I am staying in New Iberia and I've been asked to train. Yikes. I had a small freak out on Saturday when the Assistants called, but the Lord is helping me have peace. I'm still overwhelmed but I know that the assignment came from the Lord so I know it will all be ok. 

Biking has been super fun - we've been talking to lots of people, and we are careful to not bike after dark or in sketchy areas after 3:30. At the same time, when we are biking in sketchy neighborhoods (there are a lot of them here) I feel totally confident that we have angels all around us, protecting us and shielding us from anything the Adversary might throw at us. 

So Sister Maxfield is leaving, and I'm pretty sad. I'm looking forward to your package because I know that will cheer me up. Sister Maxfield is so awesome, and she has been an amazing companion. I've felt the burden of this area rest a little more squarely on my shoulders as she's prepared to leave. The weight of senior companion has kind of hit me yesterday and today, and I pray that this burden will give me the spiritual traction to move forward (I love Elder Bednar's talk about the Load!!!). I hope that I can be what my trainee needs me to be. And I'm so excited to learn from her as well. 

Oh, one more thing I wanted to tell you about biking - people have been super good to us in terms of giving us rides. Members and nonmembers alike have been volunteering left and right to take us around. Miss Pat, who is the queen bee of the black community here in New Iberia, gave us a ride to visit some referrals, and when those people weren't home, she took us out to lunch and we had an awesome discussion about the Celestial Kingdom and how to get there. He grandson died, and we taught her that he has already received that glory, and to be with him forever she needs to do somethings to help her become a celestial person. We were in a super busy diner at lunch time, and yet the Spirit was so strong, and I know she felt something different. I don't think she's ready to move forward yet, but I know the Lord was pleased with our efforts and that's a really good feeling.


Sister Chausow

Hello bike, goodbye car!

Hello friends and family!

So this week has been full of crazy events. let me share a few highlights-

-Our car is gone! We are now cruising the streets of New Iberia on our bikes! It's been interesting - lots of sweating, lots of deodorant, lots of drinking water! The members have been really good at helping us out though, and that makes a huge difference.

-The first day of biking Sister Maxfield got a nail in her tire and we had to call the elders to come rescue us since we didn't have the equipment or the know-how to patch a flat. The next morning we woke up to find that my bike tire how gone flat from a slow leak and we were running behind so instead of trying to patch it I just switched the tubes out and off we went to the church (6 miles one way = 40 minutes of biking) and we got to Zone Training Meeting early and very sweaty haha.

-Church was so awesome - "R" our investigator who is preparing to be baptized was there, along with Sister A, Sister L, and Sister J - all less active ladies that we've been working with. Sister L actually gave us a ride to church, stayed all 3 hours and gave us a ride home. As we were getting out of the car she was like, "So y'all need a ride next week?" and we said yes! So that will be 3 sundays in a row that she'll be there. Sister A only stayed for sacrament but she's been reading the scripture verses that we text her every morning and was actually not grumpy at church (tender mercy!!!). Sister J has caught the fire - she got called to the Relief Society Presidency and is working on getting a temple recommend again. The work of salvation is just amazing!

-We had an instruction at Zone Training Meeting on contacting/finding new people to teach and since then we've been on fire! We are stalking to everyone, giving out cards and pamphlets and copies of the Book of Mormon. Biking helps a lot - it's a lot less weird/creepy to stop and talk to someone when your biking rather then when your in a car. My finest moment was being able to grab a card out of my bag, hand it to a lady that didn't look to eager to talk to us and say "This is for you!" and ride away all without braking hahaha! Good times. 

-It's Sister Maxfield's last week and we are going to be working our bums off in order to stay focused. She's got mixed feelings about going home and I'm trying not to think about it so we are just going to get to work and pretend like we still have a year left to serve. We are all enlisted 'til the conflict is OVER!

Love you all! Hope you have a great week! 

-Sister Chausow 

Do good anyway!

Hello friends and family!

It was a crazy week, but we made it out alive and we are thankful for a break today. I just want to express my feelings by sharing something that Mother Theresa wrote. You've probably heard it before. 

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self centered.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and genuine enemies.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
What you spend years creating others could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
The good you do today will often be forgotten.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them ANYWAY.

I know that opposition is a part of this life and that God will magnify our best efforts. The Atonement is real, and I have felt intense love for the people here and I know that it's not coming for me. Charity, the pure love of Christ, is a gift from Heavenly Father that He sends to those who honestly seek it. 

I love you all! Have a great week!

-Sister Chausow

Sweating and Smiling

Hello friends and family! I love you all so much! What a wonderful week it's been. We worked our hearts out and we are exhausted. We've been focusing on helping those around us feel the Holy Spirit, and we have had some really cool experiences! I feel humbled that the Lord would let me be a witness of this great work. 

So yeah, it's been super hot and humid out here, and we are trying to stay hydrated. Let's just say I'm suuuuper thankful that we have a car and air conditioning! The elders finally got a car as well, and they are much less sweaty, hooray. Our unofficial assistant branch mission leader, Br. Brad Walker, who is a hoot, likes to walk around saying, "You just can't BEAT the summer HEAT!" He'll ask his 6 year old son, "Abram, what can't you beat?" and little Abram is like, "The summer heat, dad!" It's the cutest thing ever haha. So yeah, it's hot, but we are happy. 

Cool miracles that we saw this week:

-Our only progressing investigator," R" , met with President Hansen for her baptismal interview and she passed! She will be baptized on August 10th after church and then confirmed the next Sunday. We are so excited for her. She has changed a lot and has a lot of faith. Please pray for her!

-We've been meeting with "S", a super cool girl from Colorado who moved here with her husband who is a member. "S" has learned a lot about the gospel and knows that it's a good thing, but she is struggling to quit smoking and to find the desire/motivation to actually make changes in her life. We have been struggling to know how to help her progress and actually use her agency to move forward. It's one of those times when you've done all you can do and you are humbled and brought to your knees and you ask, "Lord, what more do you want me to do? Show us the way, because we have no idea what to do." We don't have all the answers yet, but we've felt peace and assurance that if we just keep loving her, keep visiting her, and keep trying to help her feel and recognize the Spirit, "S" will eventually make covenants and her family can be sealed in the temple.

-The auxillary leadership in our branch just got switched up a ton (new primary, relief society, and young women presidencies with a new elders quorum presidency on the way) and it feels like there is life in the branch for the first time. We visited/talked with the new presidents yesterday and they are excited to work with us and helping the branch get more on it's feet spiritually. The changes were very inspired and I know the Lord is mindful of our little group of saints here in New Iberia. 

I think the other tender mercy this week was just how much fun me and Sister Maxfield have together. We've been making cookies and cutting out hearts to take to people in the branch, we've been laughing, and we do random things to keep ourselves from getting too serious. Last week for P-Day Sister Maxfield convinced me to buy a box of hair dye and we dyed my hair haha! It's just a little darker/redder than my normal shade and I didn't buy color safe shampoo so it's kind of faded, but it was a fun random out of the ordinary thing and we got some good pictures and fun memories. Life is amazing when you get to serve with someone you love and can just have fun with!

So this week, I just wanted to share a really cool quote from Elder Richard G. Scott. He gave an amazing talk about missionary work last conference and it really inspired me. He said, "We must be sure to sincerely love those we want to help in righteousness so they can begin to develop confidence in God’s love. For so many in the world, the first challenge in accepting the gospel is to develop faith in a Father in Heaven,who loves them perfectly. It is easier to develop that faith when they have friends or family members who love them in a similar way.
Giving them confidence in your love can help them develop faith in God’slove. Then through your loving, thoughtful communication, their lives will be blessed by your sharing lessons you have learned, experiences you have had, and principles you have followed to find solutions to your own struggles. Show your sincere interest in their well-being; then share your testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ."
I love this! Because I'm learning that it really is all about love. If people don't know how much you care, they don't really care how much you know. 
I love you all! And I know that the gospel is true! Hope you all have a great week!

-Sister Chausow