Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy December

Hello to my parents who I love so much! 

Loved hearing from you and all about your Thanksgiving fun! I was thinking a lot about ya'll too on Thursday and on Saturday, wondering if you went to get the Christmas tree. Maybe not with Dad on call?

So sad to hear about Gordon Meier. Man, that stuff is just not fun. Please tell him that I'm praying for him and his family. Can you send me his address so I can send him a Christmas card?

Soooooo, crazy updates:

Monday afternoon we got a call that Sister Alvine was leaving on wednesday morning and there would be two temple square sisters coming, so one would be going to Albany with Sister Lyons and one would come to Denham with me. Man, that phone call was not fun - I thought I was going to spend Thanksgiving with my two current best friends, and then two seconds later, nope! Change of plans. I was not very pleased, but the Lord helped me get over it pretty quick. Tuesday night we all went out for dinner with President and Sister Wall and Elder and Sister Olsen, the office couple. We went to a seafood restaurant inside Bass Pro Shop, and I was a little skeptical of eating in such a redneck place, but it turned out being freakin delicious. If ya'll come back to Loosiana with me to visit, we should totally eat there. Anyways, we dropped Sister Alvine off at the airport on Wednesday morning (she was bawling, it was really sad and hard), and me and Sister Lyons went back to Denham to clean and get ready for the new sisters. Then that afternoon we went back to Baton Rouge to pick up the new sisters at the mission office, but we had to wait for like an hour and a half because one of the sisters left her insulin in Salt Lake, so as soon as they left the airport, President took them to CVS pharmacy to get some insulin. Finally, we got our new companions, and I am now with Sister Klein from Brazil! She has been out 6 months, she's a life long member, and she's diabetic. I freakin' love her. It took a little while for her to open up, but she is so funny and just fun. She is not your typical sister missionary - she used to play video games a lot, and she likes Metallica haha. I love it. And she isn't too serious, which really helps me. We spent Thanksgiving driving around to our appointments, eating too much and loving up the members. It was great. I'm so happy to be with her, and I'm kind of hoping that President leaves us together for a transfer or two. President said I might be training though, so we will see. We will find out next Monday.

Speaking of which, next week is transfer week, so I won't be able to email until Tuesday. Transfer week is weird one that is always a little off. I'll keep you posted on who goes where :)

So I also wanted to tell you about my interview with President. Every 3 months, we get to have a one on one, 30 minute interview with President, and this time I felt like I didn't have anything big I needed President to help with. In the past, I've gone in really struggling because of my companion or district issues or whatever, but this time I felt pretty okay, I just wanted to ask President how I could have a little more courage to follow the promptings of the Spirit. 
And guess what - he started peeling me apart like an onion. I just started bawling, because he helped me to see some struggles that I didn't realize that I'd been having but that he had discerned from my weekly emails. He said that I am one of the best missionaries he has, but I don't realize it. My confidence is kind of low and he said that I am so competent, but I let my lack of confidence get in the way of my competency. And he was right, I doubt myself a lot.   President said that I have a really clear picture of what I think a sister missionary should be, and when I don't measure up to that, I beat myself up really good for it. 

And I need to QUIT! 

I guess I knew that I was overly hard on the elders, but I didn't realize that I was being so hard on myself. I thought it was good, but I didn't realize that it can be really damaging. So my goal right now is really just work on loving myself no matter what. If I make a mistake, I will repent and move on. And I will thank God for my weaknesses because they allow me to rely on my Savior. When I get home, I really want to be able to know and appreciate who I am. I'm excited :)

So I need to update you on some people you can pray for:
H and R - We gave them the Baby Jesus story cutouts that you set for them and they were so excited. They are going to teach us the story of how Jesus was born on Sunday and Martin's parents are going to be there. I'm a little nervous to meet them, but hopefully it will be good.

K, gotta sign off, I'll write you a letter.

Love you tons!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Hey Mom-
 I'm so happy that having Cintia send you that picture could make you so happy! I just had this bizarre thought after she took it "Hey! She should send that to my mom!" Super random, but all good thoughts come from God, so I just blurted it out, and she said she would! And she texted us yesterday and said she got a really happy email from you. I was tickled that you got a bang out of that! Love you so!

Can't believe ya'll have snow! I'm kind of jealous - it's 48 degrees here but no snow. And Christmas is coming but it doesn't feel like it haha! Sister Alvine is freezing her bum off but Sister Lyons loves it. Sister Alvine is from Africa and Sister Lyons is from Canada so I guess that makes sense haha. I'm kind of in the middle - I'm not terribly cold, but I wouldn't mind if it warmed up a smidge! :)

So excited for you to have Caits home! I pray for her and John lots. He just sent me an email and he sounds pretty upbeat too, so that's awesome. Can't wait to see pictures of you all!

Way to go wanting to go out with the missionaries more! We need to do a better job of involving members, especially because we have like 100 miles left for the months, oops. We have to drive to Albany and back again this week, so that eats 50 miles. Maybe it's Heavenly Father's way of getting us to reach out to members! But it's true, it really does make a difference when we bring members to visit investigators or less actives. It helps them feel less afraid about coming to church and it gets the members all pumped up. So really it's win win for everyone!

So yeah, I was feeling pretty uptight, but then Heavenly Father sent me Sister Lyons and I learned how to breathe again. I got so wrapped up in numbers, goals, efficiency, that I forgot how to live, laugh, and love. And she totally reminded me. She is so much fun - she uses crazy accents a lot, quote movie lines, and gets it when I quote movie lines. So awesome. She's also been helping Sister Alvine with her English.  The trio is the best thing ever. Sad to see Sister Alvine go on Friday - she was so excited to get that MoTab CD in the mail. That is seriously her favorite CD that we have, and I was thinking of giving her my copy when she leaves, but you sent her her own! You are so inspired with the stuff you send!

Okay, so here are my answers to your questions:
For Thanksgiving, we have 3 set appointments - one with Elen Garver, an awesome lady who lost her son and father within a month of each other this year. She said the holidays are going to be hard, so she is invited her friends and family for a big happy celebration, and she has kept herself busy cleaning and preparing her house for the big day. We love this lady and we are excited to be with her on what might otherwise be a hard day.

After that, we are going to go eat with a less active mother/daughter. The mom is getting old and has dememtia but she's the sweetest lady. Her daughter get's overwhelmed with work and the care of her mom, and she works on Sunday, but wants to find a new job so she can come back to church. They just love Sister Alvine and I'm excited to spend time with them.

Our last set appointment is with Pattie Jackson. She is a super solid member with a kinda cute RM son who I worked with while I was in the YSA ward. She let us teach her son's friend the first discussion while I was at LSU, and then I got transferred here a few months later and she just loves having the sisters over. Her nonmember sister and her sisters kids will also be there, so we might have a really cool teaching opportunity!

Besides that, I think we will bake some stuff and drop it off at peoples' houses as we drive and let them know that we are thankful for them. We have been sharing Alma 34:38 a lot and inviting people to live in thanksgiving daily. I just love the holiday season as a missionary!

As far as Christmas goes, yes, I would love some brown tights (large), a long sleeve blue cardigan(L or XL), a floral cardigan of any color (L or XL), maxi skirts or maxi dresses (large), I would love the 2013 EFY CD. I was also wondering if Cheyenne could burn me a CD with some songs that I really love. You can download the songs for free from and click on music on the right side or just buy them on iTunes.
"See it in Everyone" - Hannah Bradshaw
"If We Forget Ourselves"
"Stand in the Light" - Michael Webb
Any other songs on that website that she think are jammin. :)

I could also use some more Claritin. Cigarette smoke really gets me in addition to the cat and dog hair. :)

Hopefully that list is good/not too long. Thank you for all you do! I'm attaching pics of our trailer all decked out in the decorations you sent - love it! Also, the Christmas card pic is included. Hopefully you can crop my arm out haha.

I am so so so thankful for you forever and always! Sending lots of hugs and squishes!
-Sister Chausow

Here I am!  Hope this will work for you to use with the family's annual christmas card photo.

Sister Alvine and I with Cintia Morales and her daughter.  They had us over for a yummy dinner!

A photo to show you how we used the Thanksgiving decorations that you sent in your last package.

The hysterical Tom Turkey you sent.  He is SO FLUFFY!!

Hey Dad!

What a great week we had! We taught 26 lessons! 20 here in Denham and 6 in Albany where Sister Lyons normally serves. We had a goal to hit 20  lessons in a week before Sister Alvine left, and we hit it, woot woot! More important than that, I've been learning a lot about repentance, forgiveness, relearning how to laugh and have fun and breathe, and just loving being a missionary. We had a less active finally come to church on sunday and it made me so happy I almost cried. Love love love this work! I kind of don't want to come home.... don't be mad! :)

So for Thanksgiving we are looking forward to fried turkey and cornbread dressing. We had crawfish and corn soup last night at a members house and Sister Alvine said, "Dis is an answer to prayer!" because she LOVES crawfish and is really going to miss it when she goes back to Salt Lake. haha!

It is what it is...... I like it! Very wise sounding indeed haha. Also loved the story from Jana Pauls. I just love that lady. Will you tell her that?  I, too, need to be better at counting all the blessings, big and small. We have been sharing Alma 34:38 a lot and talking about how to live in Thanksgiving DAILY not just once a year. I'm working on doing the same myself. It really does help you stay happier and more humble.

Such a bummer about Derrick Rose! That poor guy! Happy to hear about the Blackhawks. What's their record right now?

So I'm going to include excerpts from my President's letter again. I can't wait to Skype with ya'll on Christmas! I feel like email just doesn't do justice to what I'm thinking and feeling and what I want to share with you. But then again, so thankful that we have such an instant form of communication. Email is such a blessing!

Love you with all my heart! Give hugs to Uncle Steve and Uncle Dan and their families for me! 
Miss you all!
-Love, Johanna

 Dear President,
Another week has gone by - another week full of learning, growing, loving, serving, and teaching. Sister Lyons is awesome, just wanted you to know that. I feel like I'm a better, happier version of myself with her. I had stopped smiling and laughing, and I didn't realize it until she came and breathed life back into the Denham Springs sisters. I had gotten so caught up in numbers, goals, obeying with exactness, that I was becoming something that I'm not. And she reminded me that the best teaching, the best lessons, the best missionary work comes from the heart, from the Spirit, from really loving and caring about a person. I'm so thankful for that reminder. 

Is your testimony growing and are you becoming converted to the Lord?
Yes. I finished the study report on repentance, and I feel like, for the first time in my life, I'm coming to understand true repentance and I'm striving to apply it in my life. Sister Lyons said something awesome: "Repentance is change, not a check mark." Love it. It is so true. Justification (forgiveness) happens instantly when we repent, but life long repentance brings sanctification (healing, change) and both are required to live with Father in Heaven again. Thank you for teaching me through the scriptures and giving me the chance to learn from the Spirit. I'm excited to lean now about mercy and forgiveness. 

Another sign that I'm changing is the fact that I feel okay about H and R. We aren't going to be able to teach them at all this week, and normally that would freak me out and I would be really concerned that their progression would be at stake. But something is just telling me that it's going to be ok. Everything is going to work out according to God's plan. And He does have a plan for them. I am learning to let go and let God and it's the best feeling.

Report on Companion Unity & District Unity
Things are going splendidly in our trio. We all get a long great. I feel like we are all helping, loving, serving, and teaching each other and it's just awesome. I was worried, but now all worries are gone. I really feel like Sister Lyons is a huge blessing. And I'm going to be sad to see Sister Alvine go, but I've also really enjoyed learning from her. She is amazing. 

District Unity has seemed to improve with the arrival of Sister Lyons. She has really taught me to appreciate the Elders and see them as human beings. We are still striving to function more like a family. 

Report on Miracles/Tender Mercies
Sister P came to church! And she reached out and fellowshipped another less active woman while she was there!
We got to see an elusive potential investigator when we were in Albany.
We really bonded with the Hammond sisters when we spent the night in Albany. 
We have a car! So we didn't have to ride our bikes in the rain!

Report on Book of Mormon Study-what have you learned this week?
In the Bible I've been reading about Jesus laying the smack down on the Pharisees for being hypocrites. Yikes. I'm thankful that He sent me Sister Lyons as a loving reminder instead of a harsh call to repentance like He did with the Pharisees. It reminds me that the Lord tailors our instruction to our needs. He knows each of us perfectly and personally, and so He will refine us in the way that we need and will benefit us most.

Are your investigators reading the Book of Mormon? If needed are you reading it with them?
Something that we've started doing (I can't remember if I told you about this already) is reading a chapter of the Book of Mormon with some of the widows we visit weekly. The three we visit can't see really well, and don't have the Book of Mormon on tape or on CD, so we prayerfully pick a story in the Book of Mormon and read it out loud when we visit them to help them have a small portion of the word of God in their day. I really love it. I hope that if I go blind one day and my family is far away, the missionaries will come read the Book of Mormon with me, because it really is the best book in the whole world.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Louisiana+November=No winter coats

Hey mama! Thanks for you letter! Loved hearing the update on home.   I love hearing about how God answers prayers. Sounds like yall had some crazy weather! The weather down here has been crazy nice - it was so weird, we went to a barbeque yesterday - in November! With no coat! Me and Sister Alvine were just laughing that we rarely if ever need a coat. She is kind of dreading going back to Salt Lake where it is snowy and cold.

Life here is clipping along. This last week was full of crazy events. Charlie Potts, a dear old lady in 1st ward passed away. The Perkins' (a family in 2nd ward) house burned down. We were told that the North elders were getting transferred out on Saturday and that the Zone leaders would be coming in instead. And then we were told never mind, that's not happening. They will wait until transfers (the second wednesday of December). And then last night we found out that we will be getting a new sister for the last 2 and half weeks of the transfer. Sister Lyons, who was serving in Albany, will be with me and Sister Alvine. Her companion was waiting for her visa to Australia and it finally came, so Sister Lyons will take her to the airport today and then we will go down to Baton Rouge and pick her up so that she won't be by herself. I'm a little nervous to be in a trio again - I was in a trio in the MTC and it was a little tricky. But Sister Alvine is so chill, I think it will be okay.  I got to know Sister Lyons a little better while I was on exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders - I went to Amite and we went to district meeting and the Albany sisters are in the same district as the Amite sisters, so I got to interact with her a little bit. She is super cool and I'm excited that we get to serve around eachother, but we are pretty different, and I'm hoping we will get along ok.

I realized this week that I'm wound up pretty tight, I get stressed easily, and I'm not super go with the flow. And that's ok, that's just who I am right now. I've started praying that I can be a little more chill and submissive to the will of the Lord, and be more loving and accepting of people who don't see things the same way I do. I'm not sure how or why I got so uptight, but it's ok, I'm working on it, and being diligent and valiant is a good thing as long as I don't act like a fanatic or a zealot. :)

Well I just love you so much, I'm so thankful that I have you as my mom. Seriously don't know where I'd be without you. Thank you for your support and love and encouragement. You are a rock star mama!

Love, Sister Chausow

Hey Daddy!

So good to hear from you! That missionary fireside sounds awesome! We did something kind of like that in Baton Rouge - only it was just a music and the spoken word thing without the tour of the church building. But tours of the church building is something that they started encouraging so I'm sure we will start doing that at some point.
We don't work online yet, that has yet to hit our mission. Eventually we will have access to a facebook account where we can friend people, share gospel stuff on line, and teach via facebook chat. I'm really excited, because there have been some contacts I've had whom i would've love to be able to stay in contact via facebook because they live outside our area. Or there are less actives who we could've fellowshipped via facebook. So I'm patiently waiting (kind of) for when we get to use Facebook to proselyte. Another cool thing is having our area book online. When we get that we will be able to update our area book in the car right after appointments or contacts, which will help records be more current and thorough, and it will allow others to see our progres with less actives and investigators (ward mission leader, mission president, bishop, etc...) which is super cool as well. Some day it will get here!

The W Family is doing good. We had an awesome awesome lesson with them on Thursday night - we prepared a ton, and tried to listen to the Spirit as we prepared, and we brought a member and her daughter who is almost the same age as the twins. Traci and Allie Tyler were awesome! Allie connected really well with the twins and D opened up and was sharing photos with Traci. We are hoping to teach the W's in the Tyler's home on Sunday. Brother Tyler is hilarious - he has the thickest southern drawl, he investigated the church for 16 years before he was baptized, and he is basically the southern version of Rich Houdek. When we skype on Christmas we are going to do it at their house, but he said only if he could call and talk to you first. So if on Christmas day you get a call from him, just go with it - I love this guy! Their whole family is amazing.

Sunday had some triumphs and some not so triumphs - J, J, and H all came to church! None of them stayed for the rest of the meetings though, so that's kind of a bummer. But the fact that J was there floored me - just a few days earlier she had told us that she is good with where she's at, she doesn't have a ton of desire to come to church or be involved. But then she came! So I guess no effort goes unwasted. The W's didn't come to church, which was a big bummer. We are hoping that if Dcomes to trust Traci enough, she will let Traci give her daughters a ride to church is she doesn't want to go. I think Dawn has a lot of fear and she is afraid people will judge her or she is afraid that she won't be able to keep up with all the things that being a "fullt ime Mormon" requires her to do. I don't know. We really need to strengthen her if we are going to help her daughters, but I don't think she fully trusts us yet. She still has some barriers up, which I know the Lord will help us to get through as long as we saty patient and diligent.

Daddy, I love this work so much. I can't wait to get home and swap mission stories with you. I don't know a ton about your mission and I wish I did. The mission becomes such a huge part of your life, and I want to know about yours. Thank you for supporting me in this endeavor - it really is the greatest work on earth! I pray for you guys that you will have your own missionary moments and that you guys can "catch the wave" too! :)
Love you millions!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Woot! Woot! for personal revelation!

Hey guys! Thanks for your emails! Sounds like life is never dull back in Wisconsin! 

Sorry this is coming a day late. The library was closed because of Veteran's Day yesterday. I celebrated the holiday by reading the letter from a Captain to the mother of a fallen soldier, describing her son's death and how he died a hero's death. The mother is a lady in our ward and is a woman who is very dear to my heart. Her name is Ellen Garver and the poor woman lost her son and her father within a few months of each other. She gave us a copy of the letter her son's captain wrote to her so that we could get to know her son. It was terribly sad but uplifting. I'm so thankful for the armed forces that keep us and our freedoms safe and protected.

This week was crazy. I received a lot of personal revelation about what I need to be focusing on in life and on my mission. It came at random times - as I was driving in the car, just thinking, or talking with Sister Alvine, or in Zone Training Meeting. President Wall has asked us to start studying repentance and forgiveness, because he said it's hard to teach something you haven't experienced yourself. He has noticed that as missionaries, we are doing great at teaching faith, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end, but we struggle to preach repentance. And so he wants us to all study repentance and apply what we learn so that we can teach more powerfully and also so we can be more "Spirit lead." He says our mission is entering into a new phase of being Spirit-lead, but a SPirit lead mission is built on the foundation of obedience, repentance, and forgiveness. And then guess what! Dad sent me that super cool quote about repentance, which I've read over and over and am still trying to fully understand and internalize. I'm excited to study the whole talk further, because I'm realizing that I didn't understand repentance as well as I thought I did. I'll send you a copy of the worksheet that President Wall gave us so you can see what we are studying. I'll sent it out next week on P-Day. :)

Thank you so much for the letters and the posters and the Ensign and the socks! You guys are the best! Seriously, you are inspired in the things you send. Sister Alvine is convinced that Mama Chausow prays before she goes shopping for us because the things you send are so inspired haha. 

Sorry for not sending a picture of myself. I promise I'll take one ASAP and send it next week. 

K, I'm going to copy and paste my letter to President. It's really long, sorry. If you get bored and don't read it all, no worries. President keeps asking us to write about more and more stuff. :)

Finally, I wanted to ask yall to continue to pray for the W's. I wrote about their progress in my letter to President. We have really been struggling in our teaching with them, and they haven't been progressing, but then last week after fasting for them and thanks to your prayers, I received some revelation about how to adjust our teaching to meet their needs. So awesome how our prayers are answered, but sometimes in unexpected ways. 
Also, please pray for M and E, a mother and son that we hope to start teaching. M needs to be taught in Spanish, and I am stttrrruuggglllinnngg to do that. My confidence and skill in teaching the gospel in SPanish is not where is needs to be, so please pray that they can feel the Spirit as we teach despite the language barrier.
Please also pray for D, a less active who we started working with. We had a great lesson with her two weeks ago and haven't seen her since. Hopefully we can see her on Saturday and help her and her family to come back to church. Her husband travels a lot, they have marital problems, and they lost a child earlier this year, and our goal for her is to help her come to the temple in December to do baptisms with the Relief Society who are having a RS temple trip December 12. We hope to get T (a less active whose never been through the temple) there as well.

I love you all so much! Sorry about the short letter this week. But thank you for supporting me. I honestly couldn't do it without you. You are the best parents a girl could ask for and I'm humbled that God would send me to such a great family. Keep the faith!
-Love, Johanna

Hey President-

This last week was great, and featured a lot of learning and growing for me. It's funny, because I've been praying that the Lord would reveal to me what He would have me focus on improving and changing, and this week, the flood gates were open and I've realized what I need to focus on at this phase of my life and my mission.

Is your testimony growing and are you becoming converted to the Lord?
Yes sir! I feel myself being changed and guided and directed, and I'm so excited about it!The other day, in companion study, I realized that I didn't want to go home. I love being on a mission - it is so easy to be righteous on a mission. Your agency is a little more limited and you basically get to choose between good, better or best. There isn't  any bad stuff you can choose as a missionary. 

Are you applying the principles of repentance and forgiveness in your life?
I am. I have realized that there is more to repentance than I thought. I tasted the joy of repentance before my mission, but that doesn't mean I can stop experiencing that joy now that I'm on the mission. I am loving the worksheet that you created. I'm learning a ton. I'm also realizing that repentance hurts a little bit, but that's ok. My dad coincidentally (not really) sent me a really powerful quote on repentance from Elder Christofferson, part of which says, "Real repentance, real change may require repeated attempts, but there is something refining and holy in such striving." I love this. It reminds me that failed attempts are not failures. They are helpful parts of the learning process. I'm excited to continue to learn about repentance and forgiveness.

Do you strive to have the Holy Ghost lead you through diligence and exacting obedience?
Yes, we are striving for this. It just feels better to be obedient. I know that my day hase felt more Spirit-lead as I've tightened up on morning schedule. I have found some tricks to help myself get up on time, have a solid 30-minute workout, and get to personal study on time, and it feels great. It really sets the tone for my day. 

Report on Companion Unity & District Unity
Our companionship is doing ok. We finally had a good talk last week about being not equally yoked. The fact that we were unequally yoked became really apparent during/after exchanges last week. Seriously, Sister Training Leaders are a Godsend - exchanges with them always bring revelation, increased motivation, and change for the better. Sister Tiller and Sister Maxfield are awesome. Anyways, we are trying to work more equally, I am trying to be more patient, and Sister Alvine is trying to contribute more, and we are doing better.

District Unity is a lot better after Elder Smith did this really cool thing where he set up pairs of chairs in the parking lot within sight and sound of each other and we had interviews with everyone in the district, which was awesome. I had the chance to talk things out with Elder Gillen and Elder Smith, and I feel like a weight is off my shoulders. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to communicate, and after the "interviews" we went and did service at the food back and I felt like we actually had fun together as a district and were united in purpose. It was great and I'm thankful that Elder Smith would take the time to work on district unity with a district that desperately needed it. 

Report on Miracles/Tender Mercies
R (an eternigator) came to a Relief Society on Saturday! Without her overprotective mom!
We keep getting potential investigators as we have the courage to open our mouths!
When I was feeling a little homesick, we drove past some beautiful trees whose leaves were actually turned beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow! Heavenly Father knows me and is aware of me!
I've started eating less sugar!
I've gotten up on time for like 5 days in a row now! It's awesome!
We finally got to meet with M! Turns out we've been going to the wrong house this whole time. Crazy. But she broke her leg so she is a captive audience for 6 weeks. Woot!
I had some really awesome personal revelation where Heavenly Father pointed out some key weaknesses that I had realized, and now I'm working on them, and I'm getting better! Ether 12:27 is real!

Report on Book of Mormon Study-what have you learned this week?
Reading more in the Bible than the Book of Mormon this week. The parable of the sower has taken on some whole new meanings. I was telling Sister Alvine that we need to be looking for those who are searching for the truth, for those that will receive us, basically, I wanted more golden investigators. But then I read the parable of the sower in Mark, and that those "which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended." (Mark 4:16-17) And I realized, just like in that Elder Chistofferson talk, there is something holy and refining in struggling. Our investigators who take their time, who struggle, who work to really gain a testimony, these will actually benefit from their strugglings, and we need to be patient enough to let them struggle and be there with them every step of the way. I really felt humbled when I read this, because I feel like the Lord was telling me, "Sister Chausow, you need to chill out. These people are progressing at their own pace, at the pace I want them to progress, and you need to stay the course, keep imparting the word, and respect their agency. They will come unto me in their own/my own time." Talk about a Come to Jesus moment, but it felt so good to realize this. It gives me the courage and fortitude to press on with some of our more difficult investigators.

Are you daily reading from and applying lessons from Preach My Gospel?
Reading daily - yes. Applying - sometimes. This is something we could improve on. Something cool that we've started doing though, because of our daily reading in Presach My Gospel, is reteaching H and R, 10 year old twin sisters, the Resoration, by teaching them one bullet point at a time the Full Lesson Plan found on pages 42 and 43, and extending a commitment for each bullet point. We've only taught "God is our Loving Heavenly Father" so far and invited them to pray twice daily and read the scriptures daily, but it went much better than previous lessons, and we have a return appointment on Thursday. I fasted and prayed for this family, and my dad has really been praying for them too, and I feel like the Lord hasn't changed them or their situation, but He was changed me and how my companion and teach, and this is what's helping them to finally progress. Pretty cool how the Lord works, huh?

Are you studying and using the pamphlets?
Yes! The pictures are invaluable for teaching kids and the words help really explain new concepts to adults. I'm so thankful for pamphlets!

Are you effectively using the Book of Mormon in your teaching?
Yes! We try to read from and apply passages to investigators, less actives, and members in every lesson. We also use it as a talking point when we meet new people or try to contact someone, and it's awesome. The Book of Mormon is the best.

Are your investigators reading the Book of Mormon/If needed are you reading it with them?
Yes, we read the BoM with one of our investigators who has failed to keep her commitment to read for two weeks now. And hopefully when we see her this week she will have read. We really can't move on to more material until she starts reading and internalizing the BoM. 

Your job is to invite others to come unto Christ, to bring them hope. You can do this in so very many ways, to so very many people. You all have the Spirit and it shines from you. So please tell me, what you are doing to give other people hope?
I'm trying to ask more questions to help people know that I care about them. By asking questions and showing interest in people's lives, in their kids, in their families, I love being able to show that someone cares. I actually spent an hour talking to the lady who was trying to use the computer next to me, who really did know how to use a computer, and it turns out she has had a really rough life. I feel like I was able to give her hope by showing interest in her and her family, even though we'd just met. And we asked her and another man that stopped us and asked us to pray for him if we could come visit and share a message. There is nothing more comforting, I think, than the knowledge that God is there, He loves us, and He speaks today through living prophets, and through His Son Jesus Christ we can receive hope, forgiveness and peace. 

Well, President, life is good. It clips on, and you can either run with the tide or get left in the wake. I pray that the Lord will bless me with the strength to keep up and take part in His work. 

-Sister Chausow

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hey there!

Thanks for all the super cute pictures! That one of Caitlyn looks like it should be in a magazine and she should be a model! Shoot!

So Halloween was rainy down here too, and we were on kind-of lock down - there was no contacting or tracting allowed, so after a delicious southern dinner at our Ward Mission Leader's house and coordination meeting, we went home and I folded laundry. Haha. But later that night an 11-year-old girl and her mom from 2nd ward came by and she gave us some of her candy. How sweet is that? Her sister is on a mission in Oregon so I wonder if she was missing her sister and reached out to the Sisters in her own ward. That family is so awesome! People were giving us candy left and right before and after Halloween, and I might've binged a little bit. 

Yes, I will take a good photo this week with my name badge on and send it home! Don't judge me for being a little chubbier than when I left haha :)

That is so sad about Adele! I will definitely send a letter today! She had a huge impact in my life and I will forever be grateful that Heavenly Father put her in my life.

So I'm going to copy and paste my letter to President Wall. I got pretty down one day last week. It starts as kind of a Debbie Downer but it gets better I promise!

Hey President-
This week was an interesting week. Satan had almost convinced me to go home, that I am not worth staying, I need to go home and fix all my personal flaws before I can ever be an effective servant of Jesus Christ. And then we went to the temple, and I went in, thinking that maybe when I came out, I would call you and tell you that I needed to go home and work things out and then maybe I would come back and try to do better than I've been doing. And then, guess what happened - We went in the temple, we got dressed in all white, and we sat down and learned about our true identity as children of God. And while I was sitting in the Celestial Room, and I was praying to Heavenly Father to let me know what to do. At that point I had forgotten about even the possibility of going home and I was just praying to know what Heavenly Father would have me do to be a better missionary. And the answer that I got was that I needed to be more like the Savior. And I thought, ok, that's kind of broad. So then, this morning, I was thinking more about it, trying to figure out what personal goals I wanted to set for the transfer, and feeling a little frustrated because God told me the "what" but not the "how". And then, after talking to Sister Alvine about it for a few minutes, and getting some really great advice from her,  I then looked over at my wall where I have tacked up my Personal Vision that I wrote like 3 months ago. It's a bulleted list of who I want to become, and the words that kept drawing my attention were "Become kind, loving, and gentle." 
The Spirit just touched my heart and turned on the lightbulb and I just realized, that's what I need to do. That's what I need to focus on to be more like my Savior. I need to be more kind, loving, and gentle like Him. And so I jotted down a few ideas for how I can do that. And it's what I'm going to be working on for the next month/transfer - becoming more kind, loving, and gentle just like my Savior. Kind to myself, loving towards everyone I come in contact with, gentle with my district and with my companion to show my love for them all. And I need to show love for my Heavenly Father and my Savior, I can do that by being more obedient and repenting every day. I've come to realize the Savior doesn't want a fan club that sits around and sings praises to His name - He wants disciples that will listen to His teachings, live those teachings, and use the Atonement that He so graciously provided so that we can become like Him and dwell with Him and His Father forever. 

Sorry, President,  my email doesn't follow the typical format this week. I just wanted to share that experience with you, and testify that what you said is true - we really do find joy in the high and Christ in the lows. Quite literally, I was drawn to the Savior during a low point in my mission.

I was tempted there for a minute to apologize for struggling, but you know what? It's ok that I had a hard day. And I'm humbled and thankful that my Heavenly Father helped me to just have a hard day instead of a hard week. I think in the past I wouldn't have been able to get through something like that without calling you. But by continuing to take steps of faith and literally take steps into the temple, peace and answers and strength came and here I am telling you about it a few days later, feeling strong and excited and close to my Savior. So life is good. Life goes on. I'm not perfect, the people here aren't perfect, my district isn't perfect, but we are all here together striving to accomplish one goal - to build the kingdom of God, and I know that Heavenly Father will magnify our feeble efforts to bring to pass His great work. I'm so thankful to be a part of it, and nothing can hinder our progress except for iniquity (like it says in the Book of Mormon). Hurrah for Israel!
-Sister Chausow"

So family- please know I love you millions and bajillions! Thanks for being so dang amazing! Love love love love you!

PS: Wanted to send some pictures. Not sure if I sent some of these before or not, can't remember. If I already did, sorry!

Here is a picture of me and my companion Sister Alvine. She is so much fun!!

With the cow that is next to our house trailer, which is next to "Red Barn Motors"- a used car dealership.  Their whole schtick is farming, so there is a big cow, a big chicken, and a big pig next to their car barn. HaHa-only in "Loosiana"!

We went to Bass Pro Shop on a P-day a few weeks ago and this is something we saw there. Great before and after faces, eh? Don't worry BUT our whole district bought these hats to wear at district service projects.  It's the best $3.99 I've ever spent!

More Bass Pro Shennanigans--Too much fun!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Letter to the Papa Bear

Dad, I am so excited that you are doing family history! I will send you some stuff that I printed out a while ago with some names on it. We get an hour of time on the computer every dayif we want and I used my media time for family history before I knew that missionaries aren't really supposed to do their own family history while they are missionaries. But I'll send you some stuff I found and hopefully it helps! I'm stoked to do family history and temple work with you when I get home! I had this really interesting experience when we were teaching the W's kids the plan of Salvation - I felt like there were more people in the room than just us and the family. President has said that as we are teaching the lessons to people here, some of our ancestors might be there with us, learning the gospel from us, so that they will be prepared to receive ordinances when we are done. Kind of a cool thought, eh? So yeah, I feel like that was true when I was teaching the W's - I don't know who was there, but I feel like some one or some people were and it was really cool.

K, here's some excerpts from my Presidents letter that I wanted to share with you.

"Is your testimony growing and are you becoming converted to the Lord?
Yeah, I think so. Interesting experience - we were biking down one of the main roads in denham springs and stopped at a stop light. A man pulled up in his truck, rolled down his window, and said, are yall mormon missionaries? And we said that we we are, and he asked if he could talk with us for a minute. So we pulled into a gas station parking lot, and he got out of his truck and basically started telling us that he is being excommunicated soon. At first I was excited to help this man come back, but as he told more of his story and began telling us all the evidence against/lack of evidence of the Book of Mormon and how it brings people to Joseph Smith instead of Jesus Christ, I just felt this strength poured into me. I felt like i was facing Korihor, someone who had been possessed with a lying spirit. We asked him if he'd actually read the Book of Mormon, and he said that he had 16 times, and felt the same every time - that it was a good book but that it was the work of man and that it brought people to Jospeh Smith instead of Jesus Christ. I felt like Alma and kind of wanted to say, "If you have read the scriptures than you do not understand them, for they truly testify of Christ." Basically, me and Sister Alvine both testified that we know that every morning as we read the Book of Mormon, we feel the Spirit and we KNOW that it is of God. We thanked him for his time and rode away, while he was still calling after us that he was worried about our salvation. President, thank you for challenging us to read the Book of Mormon in 60 days. Just that morning, I had read a big chunk because I am trying to finish by Wednesday, and I had read 3 Nephi 11-Mormon 1. And I know that was I read were the words of the Savior. And that as I read, I was filled with a sincere desire to be better, and to become who the Savior would have me become. Your challenge fortified me in advance for an attack that heavenly Father knew was coming. I think if I had faced that guy at the beginning of my mission, it would've taken me a few days to recover from that. But I feel strong and happy in the gospel this morning, and ready to go out and share the Book of Mormon with more people than ever. I know this is God's work, and I know it with more force than ever before. So yes, I think my testimony is growing and my conversion is deepening. 

Are you striving to be obedient?
Yes! I hace decided to go through the white handbook and write down all the things that I've gotten a little complacent on (I just started with the first 25 pages) and I know we will see miracles as we strive to be more obedient. Plus, I told President Tolbert about my challenge for myself and we will be following up on Saturday. Next week I'll go through the next 20 pages or so and try to purify my life. I've gotten a little lazy, and it's time to step up my game. I want the Spirit to be with me in my teaching, and to have that, I need to be more obedient.

 No matter what, I'm trying to be a good example, and working on my own flaws because I know I have a lot. 

Report on Book of Mormon Study-what have you learned this week?
So I read the account of when Jesus visited the Nephites, and I just loved it. It filled me with the Spirit and with a desire to be better. Also, I noticed some interesting things as I've been reading quickly this last week-

-In the books of Alma and Helaman, it mentions over and over how the church leaders have to go out and "make a regulation in the church" and this is said as least three times that I remember. It reminded me that we need to constantly need to be making a regulation in our lives, never getting complacent, alwasy striving to drive our error and embrace righteousness.
-Mormon, although he lived in a super wicked time, was able to "taste and know of the goodness of Jesus." How did he do this? How did he raise such a righteous son in such a wicked world? I think it was because he was surrounded by the words of God. A good chunk of his life was spent reading, compiling, and apridging the words of the prophets, and when you are that immersed in the word of God, it's hard to go wrong. And the cool thing is that he wasn't compiling the record for himself or anyone that he knew. It would be for a people he would never see, meet, or live among. And yet he did it anyway. Am I willing to work as hard as Mormon did without seeing the fruits of my labors, relying on my faith that this is what God has asked me to do? 

Are your investigators reading the Book of Mormon/If needed are you reading it with them?
Some are, and some are not. We are really trying to get our less actives back into the Book of Mormon because we've felt that that is something that will really build back their faith in the gospel. Just last night we asked F and S to start reading the Book of Mormon again, and they said they would. I am excited to go back next week and see how it went for them. If they haven't read, 1 Nephi 1 or the Introduction to the Book of Mormon will be what we read with them."

So yeah, I feel like as a missionary, your two biggest enemies, both the enemies of yourself and those you teach, are pride and complacency. And I am working to stay committed, keep working hard, and not just work hard but work hard with the Spirit. I realized that we can fill our day with stuff, but if we didn't have the Spirit, then none of it matters. That's why I'm a little obedience - obsessed right now - I NEED the Spirit with me if I am to become a more powerful instrument in the Lord's hands.

Thanks for sending me your talk by the way. I loved it! You did a great job! Thanks for lifting me up and reminding me of the importance of baptism, both for me and for those I teach. It really is a life long commitment that is just as important as the temple covenants. I just love the gospel!

Thanks also for the sports updates! Hopefully the Hawks and recover! It was a sad day for me when people down here were talking about how the Saints beat the Bears. I had to pretend to be excited about it so people would talk to us, but inside I was really quite bummed. Good thing LSU never plays BYU or I don't think I could pretend as well. Let me know how the game is at Camp Randall! That is freakin' awesome that you get to go! Try not freeze!

K Papa Bear, I love your guts! Thanks for being so stinkin awesome! I love you with all my heart! Thanks for everything you are!


Denham Springs is still Home Sweet Home

First of all, you MUST watch this video. It is about Sister Alvine! So cool!

Second, I am so sorry to hear about Uncle Kenny and Aunt Arlene! I loved them! I totally remember them, and cousin Rog, love him too. I really wanted to hang out with them before I left on the mission - hopefully afterwards we can still be friends! I think they are so awesome. So sorry for their and your loss. And Chuck's. I'm so thankful that we have that knowledge of the Plan of Salvation and we know the Kenny and Arlene are happy together. The gospel is so comforting!

Haha yes, that was Elder Elmer. He is a character. It is always fun to be liked, but at this point I would rather that he put his whole heart in to the mission, you know? But you know what I realized? Elders are different from sisters. I know that this is a big shocker, haha, but I think I've never been so aware of gender differences than at this time in my life. It has been a real struggle for me to work with the elders this transfer, and I am determined to do better next transfer, to be more patient, understanding, loving and kind. An elder told me once that the elders need the extra 6 months just to get rolling, and then they really start to learn and change and grow. So who knows, maybe Elder Elmer will turn into a great missionary who is super dedicated and focused. And in the mean time, I need to turn into the same thing :)

Speaking of transfers, the transfer ends on Wednesday and it is the first time that neither I nor my companion is getting transferred. It is the first time I've been with a companion for more than one transfer, and I'm a little nervous because the longer you are with someone, the more little things start to come out or get annoying and I love Sister Alvine and I don't want anything to mess up our friendship! But she is so chill, I really don't have anything to worry about. We all have weird habits and we all need to love each other no matter what, right? :)

The W's didn't come to church this last Sunday and it was a huge bummer. We are going over tomorrow night to just talk with D - we have been focusing so much on her daughters that we've neglected to find out where D is at, what she wants, and what her concerns/needs are. Hopefully we can help them get back on track. I feel like every day, though, we meet someone new that steals a part of my heart. Here is an excerpt from my letter to President about D -

"Report on Miracles/Tender Mercies/Giving Hope
Let's see....we didn't get killed will biking on a really busy road. I was physically able to make it through transfer Monday (I'm always exhausted on Transfer Monday) we've been working harder and harder. And also, we finally met D! After weeks of calling and stopping by, we went by on a Saturday, and she was home, and guess what! Her house was a mess when it normally is not, so after we talked and she cried (she has lots of hard stuff in her life) we spent an hour with her cleaning. It was so awesome. It was a way for us to show her that we actually cared about her, and our words were not empty. And as we were leaving, we mentioned the ward Halloween party, and about 20 minutes after we left, she texted us and asked what time the party was! And she came! She and her 4 kids came, and it was awesome. People in the ward were so great - they said hi and they sat by her, and her visiting teacher, who is super super shy, sat at her table and made an effort to get to know her. It was the gospel in action. I loved it. She didn't make it to church the next day because her family came into town, but she wants us to come over again on Saturday and she wants to come to church this coming Sunday. Her marriage is on the rocks big time, and so we are hoping to arrange a meeting for her with the Bishop and he can help save their marriage. We also told her that after church we can get some priesthood holders to give her a blessing of comfort and council - she is still mourning the loss of her 17 year old daughter. Through service, the priesthood, time, and love, we were able to give this woman hope that she CAN come back to church, she can live a full life, and maybe she CAN save her marriage. Hope truly is a four letter word that is spelled "I C-A-N.""

I'm so excited to help D get back to the temple. Actually, we've got a whole group of people who are already baptized but who we are trying to help get back to the temple - F and S, J, D and her husband, K, T (she's never been to the temple), and S. Mom, I just love helping people. I really do. It brings so much joy, it's hard to express. I am so happy right now. :)

I'm sending you two talks that I've been reading a lot that have helped me with the whole self mastery/body image thing. One is from conference and the other is from one of my Professors at BYU who is awesome and who has been writing me. She was asked to give the devotional at BYU over the summer and her talk is magnificent. It reminds us to love ourselves no matter what, while Elder Nelson reminds us that decisions determine destiny, and our self mastery is crucial to our salvation. And guess what -  I have really been trying to eat healthier, get more exercise (we've been biking a lot this last week to save miles!) and I feel at peace with that. When I get home, you can teach me your dieting tricks and we can go for walks and work out together, it's going to be the best ever. But for now, I'm happy with where I'm at, what I'm doing, and I'm doing the best I can. It really is a great feeling :)

Oh, one more thing. We got your packages this last week and they were just fabulous! That dress was superb! It fit perfectly and I freakin love it! I wish I could wear it every day! The color, the sleeve length, the cut, are all very flattering and I feel so pretty when I wear it. You seriously rock the house!

We are going shopping today and I might by a few shirts. I only have 3 right now that I wear (since I've gained weight I don't fit into some of the others, sorry!) Also, it's finally cardigan weather some days, and I kind of want to get some in different colors. So basically, I'm asking if I can do some retail therapy, and if you wouldn't mind putting 50 dollars in my checking account when you get a chance. We are going to the mall with this less active girl in our ward that Bishop asked us to fellowship, so I'm super excited 1.) to go to a mall like a normal person and 2.) to fellowship somebody that we've been trying to befriend for a long time! For some people the mall is the way to their hearts I guess haha.

K, I love you so so so much. I hate hockey compared to how much I love you. :) And remember how one time you said how you miss my movie quoting? Well guess what, I still do it, don't worry. When we go running in the mornings - less frequent because the mornings are getting pretty chilly - but when we are on the last stretch and our trailer is in sight, I think in my head "Run home, run home. Run home, run home." Like that little kid Mervin in Angels in the Outfield who runs to his house when Danny Glover was just telling him to run a home run bahaha. Remember that?

Anyways, love you so! Thanks for always being there for me! You are truly amazing!


Friday, October 25, 2013

9 dogs and 13 Cats..oh boy!!

Mama! Thanks so much for you email! You truly boost me up!
So glad to hear yall are having fun despite the crazy weather! It's cooling off down here and the cooler weather makes me miss home a little bit. Hope you and dad get to enjoy some leaves together!

So real quick I want to share this story that President Wall sent us. I just stinkin love it!

"There once was a farmer who owned an old mule. The mule fell into the farmer's well. The farmer heard the mule braying and, after a careful assessment of the situation, decided that neither the well nor the mule were worth saving. He enlisted his neighbors to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery. Initially the old mule was hysterical. But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back, he would shake it off and step up. This he did, blow after blow: shake off the dirt and step up, shake it off and step up, shake it off and step up. It wasn't long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, stepped over the wall and out of the well."

I loved this story! It is the perfect parable for life. Sometimes it seems like everything combines against us and wants us to just give up. But no, every life is worth living, and living to the fullest! I am determined to let nothing get me down, to be happy and keep going no matter what! I have decided to be happy, despite not being a size 4, despite not having a ton of baptisms, despite covering two insane wards, and despite struggling to get along with the Elders. All of that is dirt that I can shake off and use to help me step up. I am continuing to try to take better care of myself, and Sister Alvine is helping me, but no matter what I weigh when I get home, I know that I want to be able to look you in the eye and tell you that I work my hardest, that I gave everything I had, and that I continued to bring hope to a world that desperately needs it. I'm just freakin pumped right now, about being a missionary, and I'm determined to have an eye single to the glory of God. :)

It hit me this last week that I have less than a year left to serve the Lord full time. Woah. When did that happen? It's crazy! But it makes me more motivated to work even harder and never give in, never give up, never surrender. And you know, it's interesting - as a missionary, you see people make a lot of excuses for why they can't do something. I've promised myself that I will never make excuses to not go to church, I will NEVER take a job that requires me to work on Sunday, and I will never forget the covenants that I make when I was baptized and when I went to the temple. People let so many things get in the way of their spiritual development, and I have decided to learn from these people and not let anything get in my way to be close to the Savior. Sorry about that rant, I just wanted to share with you some committments I'd made. :)

ON a lighter note, I had this Elder that was in my MTC district whose been writing me back and forth for a while write me today and told me that he liked me while I was in the MTC bahahaha. So funny. I have boy drama even when I'm a missionary! Ooops. I wrote him back and said I had a teeny crush on him too while we were there but we need to stay focused as the Lord's servants. Also in the boy department, Aunt Shirlene wrote me to tell me that Amy is thinking about getting married in spring to this guy she just met. What? Crazy sauce!

K, I love you millions! Thanks for always being there for me! And thanks so much for getting me contacts! Could you maybe send some Tide-to-go pens and a lint roller? We are teaching this lady that has 9 dogs and 13 cats, it's crazy. I walk out of there with more hair on me than the cats have on their whole bodies.
You are my rock! Sending you so many hugs!!! And guess what! We get to skype in like 2 months! Woot woot!

Papa Bear!
So good to hear from you! And so glad to hear that you liked the burn the boats thing too. I love that we have that connection of having both listened to it and both being inspired by it. Kind of like the connection I felt during conference! :)

The W family is doing pretty good. We had an interesting lesson with them Saturday evening (we taught about prophets by using pictures and telling bible stories - these girls have never heard of Moses or Daniel or Joseph) and we have the girls' primary teacher and her 11-year-old daughter come too. And at the end of the lesson, we said, "so, what do you understand about prophets?" and they both looked at us with this confused look on their faces and said they were confused. Oh man, talk about crazhing and burning! I think they were shy because we brought new people, so we will adjust and do better next time. D and the girls came to church on Sunday! Woohoo! M couldn't come because he was working, but he sat in again on our prophets lesson so that was cool. Slowly but surely we will get him to accept the gospel! The girls loved church and I think D was taking it all in. Honestly, I think whether or not the girls join the church will depend on D - I think she is scared about getting back into the church because of what a big commitment it seems to be, and she already feels overwhelmed by her mixed family, working full time 6 days a week, and now we are asking her to live up to covenants that she made when life wasn't so insane. I'm hoping that she will start to feel the spirit again and see how the gospel changes the lives of her daughters and realize that the gospel is worth the effort no matter how stressed or exhausted you are. One more awesome thing - we gave each girl a copy of the illustrated new testament stories and they are reading it! They are both on about chapter 10! Woop woop! Next up - the restoration and the book of mormon!

Thank you for sharing your testimony with me. Hearing your words of encouragement and faith really helps me to keep going. I'm so grateful to have such a supportive family - I don't know where I'd be without you!
Thanks for all your support!
Love - Johanna

PS: Here's some stuff from my president's letter. Please pray for C and T. T is the new investigator and C is the girl whose friends invited her into their home to meet with us. We haven't counted her as an investigator yet because we aren't sure if she wants to continue learning yet. We are kind of just planting seeds and nourishing them with her right now. So exciting!

PPS: We went on exchanges this week with the Sister Training Leader (it was soooo nice to not be the leader - and actually, Sister Tiller asked me a lot of questions about my experience as a leader and through the Spirit I was able to encourage her to continue on in her duties. It was awesome). We double worked our area and it was so awesome! These sisters were the breath of fresh air that we needed! And I'm pretty sure me and Sister Tiller were best friends in the pre-mortal world and we will be best friends after the mission for sure. She is too awesome!

"While Sister Tiller and I were together, we went to try this potential investigator who we've never been able to get ahold of. And guess what, she was home! And she let us in and we had a brief visit and did How To Begin Teaching, setting expectations, and learning about her religious background. And two wonderful things came from this - 1.) We have a new investigator, woo hoo! she said she was willing to learn more about the gospel, not that she's looking to join another church just yet but she is open to learning. Hooray! and 2.) Me and Sister Tiller taught in unity! It was amazing, and it felt so good and so lead by the spirit. My companion and I have struggled to teach in unity because of the language thing and my lack of trust the my companion while explain clearly and simply what needs to be taught. And Sister Tiller, without directly addressing my problem, reminded me how to teach in unity and what it feels like. It means taking turns, sharing, using short, simple explanations and yielding to your companion. It means being brave and opening your mouth. Teaching with her awoke in me a desire to do better, to share teaching time more, and to have more faith in my companion. And when I was talking to Ssiter Tiller about it a while later, she gave me a great tip - let Sister Alvine start the lesson. Earth shattering, I know, but it's something I've never done the whole time we've been together. I'm sorry, president, I know that's really lame and selfish of me. I just love teaching and I've been a teaching hog, dang it, and I just realized it this past week. So then, yesterday, when we taught a potential investigator, beforehand I asked Sister Alvine if she would start the message, and she said she would, and guess what - it was the most spiritual, powerful, unified lesson that we've ever taught together. We simply and clearly taught the message of the Restoration, and we didn't have any cool object lesson or visual aid or anything, we just taught using our testimonies, the scriptures, and the Spirit. And it was awesome. We committed this girl to start reading the Book of Mormon, and the member neighbor family whose house we taught in we invited them to start reading the Book of Mormon again, and they said they would. The Spirit was so thick you could almost cut it with a knife, it was so amazing. I hope we get to teach this girl again. I know she felt something. And I know it's because I finally got out of the way and let the Spirit and my companion teach and testify."

Burned the Boats

Happy Fall everyone!

It doesn't really feel like fall down here in the bayou. It's a little bit cooler in the mornings but that's about it haha. Everything is still green and humid and warm. So crazy!

I miss you all tons but we had a great week this week, and I just wanted to share my President's letter with you all. It's kind of long, sorry, I just have a very full heart. Have a great week and never forget that the Lord loves you always! And I do too!

Love, Sister Chausow

PS: This week at Zone Conference, we listening to an excertp by motivation speaker Andy Andrews called "Burned the Boats." It changed how I look at my mission, my attitude, everything really. It was a big turning point for me. We thenk made paper boats and burned them as a sign of our commitment and I feel free of so much of the baggage that I was carrying around before. You can listen to it if you click on the link, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, and clicked on the arrow that is to the right of where it says "Burn the Boats." I tried to attach it to this email but no dice, sorry.

Hello, President! You are awesome, just fYI. I just wanted to remind you, in case you forgot. Thanks for uplifting me at Zone Conference and letting me know that I can do it. 

So, I'm going to break my letter into 4 parts this week: unity, obedience, teaching, and hope. I HOPE that's okay :)

Unity: Our companionship unity is still good. But I realize that I got complacent because things were so easy at the beginning. It is so easy to love Sister Alvine, but that doesn't mean I can stop trying to serve her or finding ways to help her have more hope. So I have renewed my commitment to serve my companion every day whether she needs it or not. 

Obedience: Guess what!!!?!?! After the "Burn the Boats" thing, I have found that I am starting to be obedient because I WANT to, not because I have to. It is such a good feeling. Sister Wall said something that really hit me. She said something like, "Some people come on their missions and see it as something they have to check off before going on to something more important like marriage or college." Boy, did that hit me in the face! Will you please thank her for giving me a wake up call? Because, sadly, that is totally how I saw my mission up to that point - as something to get through before I went on to more awesome things. But really, is there anything more awesome than a mission? Nope, no way jose, there is not. I know it. This is where I need to be, where I'm supposed to be, and where I WANT to be, and I've decided to live in the now. I burned my boat of seeing my mision as something to get through and with the Savior's help I'm starting to see it as something to cherish, love, and enjoy. I am committed to being a missionary, and I burned lots of boats that were holding me back and keeping me from being fully committed. I'm bummed it took me so long to figure it out, but I'm so so so happy that the Lord blessed me with exactly the revelation I needed when I was ready to receive it. 

Teaching: So when we come to Lord, He shows us our weakness, right? Well yesterday, I came to the Lord in fasting and prayer, and He showed me my weakness in teaching. We taught a ton of people yesterday and I'm so thankful that we finally had the opportunity to teach a lot, because 1.) We needed the practice in teaching in unity and with balance,a dwe are getting better at it, hooary! and 2.) I began to see the weaknesses I have in teaching. It hit me like a ton of bricks (I feel like all my epiphanies that I've had this transfers have hit me like a slap or like a train or like bricks, funny how they don't come very gently. Probably because if they were more gentle I wouldn't listen haha). I read PMG Chapter 10 and I began to see all the things I haven't been doing. Not in a depressing way or a negative way, it was just as if the Spirit was saying "Okay, you can teach, good job, now let's try doing it a little more in the Lord's way." And so I'm excited to be better, excited and thankful and humble that the Lordw ould take the time to help me, Johanna Chausow, know how I can imporve as His missionary. Because I am His. And I want so desperately to do what He wants and needs, not what I want or think I need. 

Finally, hope- It's the lifeblood of missionaries. Without it, we die (A.K.A. we sleep in, we give up, we aren't diligent, we aren't obedient). And it's vital for member missionaries. Something that I've seen as we've been visiting active members and eating in their homes is a lack of hope. So many of these good members have tried and tried to share the gospel but without success, and so they've lost hope in their own capabilities to do member missionary work. And you know what? I KNOW that that these people can do it, they just have to keep trying. And so my new quest is at every dinner appointment or whenever we are with members, give them hope that they can do missionary work! Even though they might not have baptized any of their friends, or have any referrals to give us, they CAN give a pass along card! They CAN be a shining example of happiness and peace in a tumultous world. They CAN pray daily for opportunities to share the gospel and they CAN have the courage to stand up for truth. They CAN come teaching with us and feel the joy that comes when someone starts to understand and want to the live the gospel. They CAN feed us and help support the Lord's servants physically and spiritually as we spend time in their homes, feeling of the spirit that's there.

Here's an example of what we've been trying to do and the success that we've seen: A strong member of our ward went teaching with us last night, and on the way home, we asked if she had given out a passalong card like we had asked her to - after we ate with their family a few weeks ago we talked about Alma and Amulek, and tried to get them excited about how they can be like Amulek. We invited them to start praying for missionary opportunities and also challeneged them to give out a passalong card. Sister H said she hadn't given out a pass along card yet, but she had been praying daily for missionary opportunities, and recently, her daughter made a new friend at school who isn't a member and she invited her over for a slumber party. To make the friend's mother feel more comfortable, Sister H invited the mother to come over with her daughter to get to know the H family before her daughter slept over at their house. And they really hit it off and just had the best time together, both Sister H and her daughter and her daughter's new friend and her mother. And Sister H said, "I'm so excited to have made a new friend! I know the Gospel will eventually come up in conversation because it's just part of who I am!" My heart burned within me at that point, because I am so excited for this woman and her daughter. These two individuals are amazing member missionaries, even though they were discouraged about doing missionary work when we went to visit them initially. By simply asking them to ask the Lord for help and hope about doing missionary work, they have been granted an amazing opportunity to share the gospel and finally see the fruit of their labors. So so exciting!

Basically, President, every day is hard, but every day is also wonderful. I feel myself getting stronger in ways that I've never thought were possible, and I KNOW that it's the power of the Atonement. I am so thankful for my Savior, who has called me to serve alongside Him. Thank you for all those messages you sent out. I came to the library with a headache, feeling kind of low, but you gave me hope through your words and as I've written this email I've just felt so uplifted. So thank you thank you thank you. 
You are amazing.

-Sister Chausow

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hurricane missed us!

Dear Family-
 Yes I am safe. No hurricane damage here, and actually, we had a "cold front" that made the weather yesterday and today super nice! It's rained some, but it's in the 70's today and it's amazing outside. When we went running this morning, my ears actually got kind of cold. I think eventually I'm going to need a head band and a long sleeve t-shirt so we can continue to work out in the mornings. I've set a goal to be able to run for a full 30 minutes with my companion. Slowly but surely I'm working my way up to it. Right now, I run and walk while she runs a ways and then turns around and comes back and runs behind me and comes back and then I run with her some more. Hopefully by the end of the transfer (three more weeks) I can run with her the whole time!

The work is going good. I felt like we worked super super hard last week and yet we only taught 10 lessons. Funny how it works out like that. At the same time we did a lot of service and we had Zone Training Meeting so I guess that eats up some time. Please pray for the W Family - D and M, and D's twin daughters R and H. R and H are 10 year old twins who are our investigators, D is inactive, and hopefully after our lesson Friday night M will be an investigator too! We want to get this whole family back in the church, and D seems pretty excited that we are coming to teach her daughters. Those girls don't know anything about God, and so we are starting from scratch. It's interesting to teach someone without a Christian background - thank you for teaching me the ways of the gospel. 

K, I'm going to copy and paste some of my letter to President Wall, because it contains a lot of the cool stuff I've been feeling and learning. I'm hope that y'all share emails and letters when I send them because I kind of write different stuff to each person. It's kind of long because he asks us to answer certain questions each week and I always have lots to say.

Is your testimony growing and are you becoming converted to the Lord? Yes, I think so. my testimony was definitely strengthened during conference. As I was listening, I was thinking a lot about conversion and how I can become more converted. I've noticed that I'm not as inclined to be negative as I used to be, that I have high hopes and expectations for others, and I am taking correction more humbly. Also, I feel like I get more joy, peace, and healing from service. I used to walk away from service just feeling good, no big deal. But yesterday we did service and today we did service, and both times I have walked away feeling refreshed, renewed, and kind of bursting with joy. I think this is because service for me has become a way to access the healing power of the atonement. These are just a few subtle changes that I've noticed in myself that are different since I've been on the mission. Pretty cool, huh? 

Are you striving to be obedient? Yes, every day, I think about what I can do to be more obedient. At ZTM, we talked about how exact obedience was more of an attitude than an actual accomplishment. As long as you are striving every day to be as obedient as you possibly can and not justify ANYTHING, you can see yourself as becoming exactly obedient, and that is definitely true of me and Sister Alvine. Also pretty cool.

Report on Companion Unity & District Unity - Our district is struggling. Us and the South Elders are really unified, we are friends and coworkers in the Gospel, and we can rely on them to work hard and help us out, and I think they feel the same about us. The North Elders aren't unified in their companionship, and so it's hard for them to be unified with the district, it's really interesting. Unity really does start in the companionship. I've been thinking a lot about what we can do to help the North elders and to help our district as a whole. It's tricky, because planning for district meeting is not my job, and yet I feel like if we could have a stellar district meeting that created a bond between us and got us all pumped up to work harder than we've ever worked before, that maybe things would work themselves out. It's outside of my stewardship to boss Elder A around, even though I really really want to haha. Sorry, it's a weakness of mine that involves pride and I'm working on not having the attitude that I could do things so much better. It's really unChristlike and I'm working on it. But yeah, I think we are just going to try to set a good example, be positive and uplifting and encouraging, and have charity for Elder A no matter what choices he makes. I hope that's the right path to take.

Are you teaching shorter lessons? - We didn't teach as much as we wanted to last week, even though we worked our tails off. Our lessons were shorter and we tried to leave people wanting more. As usual, we can still continue to improve in this area. :)

Are you studying and using the pamphlets? - I love using the pamphlets in order to help me simply the doctrine. Getting away from the pamphlets leads to me over complicating things, and those who we teach need us to keep it nice and simple, and pamphlets are a great tool to help us teach in that manner.

Are you effectively using the Book of Mormon in your teaching? - I know that we are using the Book of Mormon in our teaching. Are we using it effectively? Maybe...? What does it mean to use the Book of Mormon effectively in our teaching? I think I need to review Chapter 5 in Preach My Gospel to find some answers to that question.

Are your investigators reading the Book of Mormon/If needed are you reading it with them? - We don't have many investigators right now, but the two that we do have we are going to introduce them to the Book of Mormon this Friday. We are really excited, and we are hoping that as we teach on Friday, the girls' step dad will become an investigator too. Friday night is a big night for us. I'm excited! We encourage everyone that we see - less active member or active member, to read the Book of Mormon every day, individually and as families. It's been cool to feel the SPirit continually urge us to get everyone in the Book of Mormon. There is real power in that book, I've felt it and I'll be forever grateful for it. 

Your job is to invite others to come unto Christ, to bring them hope. You can do this in so very many ways, to so very many people. You all have the Spirit and it shines from you. So please tell me, what you are doing to give other people hope, every day. - Every day I try to smile, I try to say hi, and I have set a goal to give along a pass along card every day. My favorite one is the one for the "Finding Faith in Christ" dvd, because the picture of Christ is so beautiful. Even if they don't call the number, they at least have a beautiful picture of the Savior, and I hope that this gives them hope. We give hope by serving at lot. Service is one of the best ways to give hope I think. We share verses that give hope and comfort to those in need. And my companion and I try to give each other hope by complimenting each other and loving each other no matter what. It is really great.

I sent some other parts to mom. Hopefully they give you a glimpse into my life as a missionary. I have a year left, can you believe it? I can't believe I've been at this for 6 months. I know I can do this because I am not alone.
I love you forever and always!

-Sister Chausow

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Hey you!
Thanks for the update!
Sorry I can't write much. We only get 30 minutes on the computer at this new library. I can't even tell you how much that frustrates me.

Here's my President Wall letter for the week-

Hey President!
I think you made a mistake and accidently put me in the Garden of Eden with an angel for a companion. Not that I'm complaining. Actually, I want to thank you for giving me a whole lot of work to do with a companion who loves me for who I am and who sees the good in me, herself, and others. Seriously, thank you. I really really needed the chance to work hard and be loved, and that's what Heavenly Father sent me through you.
I've been reading a lot in the Book of Mormon about dilligence. As I'm working on the Book of Mormon in 60 Days challenge, today I ready through Enos, Jarom, Words of Mormon, and King Benjamin's sermon. Do you know how many times dilligence is mentioned? A lot. And also humility. And I was thinking about the connection between those two things - diligence and humility. To be diligent for me requires being humble - it requires realizing that I can't do everything all by myself, but the Lord knows what I need to do and when, and if I will keep taking steps forward in faith He will provide a way for me to accommplish everything that I've been send here to do. And to be humble requires diligence - a missionary's greatest foe is pride in all its forms. It you are not watching yourself constantly, you can become prideful in about two seconds and not even realize it.
So yeah, companioship unity is good. District unity is coming slowly. I'ts funny being in a district where there haven't been sisters for a really long time. The elders are doing their best to adjust, and I love them for it. Elder Ackerman is awesome, I can see why Sister Olsen loved serving with him. He is really growing as a leader.
We are working towards perfecting obedience, balance in our teaching, and using pamphlets more. We are rockin at teaching with the Book of Mormon. But I think I've been too shy in using the Book of Mormon with less actives. I tend to go to the Bible to teach less actives on a first visit in order to seem less threatening. But why should I fear men? I love God, He is my Father, and I want to following the promptings of the Holy Ghost to know what to share.
Gotta run. We only get 30 minutes of computer time here.
-Sister Chausow

Love you with all my heart dad!
 Thanks for always being there for me and for that awesome quote!


Roaches-death by spray and screaming!!! LOL!

Holy tomato dad, I stinkin' love you. Just thought you should know. :) Thanks for that awesome quote and that great spiritual insight! I love stuff like that, seriously!

Thanks for the advice about roaches. We've had a few really big ones (close to two inches long) and a few smaller half inch ones. They are better than spiders, though, that's for sure. I would much rather have roaches than spiders. We have this roach spray that we spray our apartment with once a week and it kills the little ones, so we just find those ones already dead. The big ones require a little more force - funny story: So there was one of these big daddy roaches crawling around our sink and Sister Alvine found it and started freaking out and so I got a paper towel and was summoning up my courage to squish it when she just grabs the roach spray and just starts spraying the bejeepers out of it with the roach spray, chasing it back and forth as it crawled around the counter, just spraying and spraying and screaming and screaming hahahaha. It was so funny. And that thing wouldn't die. Finally, it started crawling a little slower and a little tipsier and I just grabbed it and smushed it with the paper towel. And that was the end of that roach. Poor guy - death by spray and screaming. We are going to Walmart and either need to get more spray or try some of those bug bombs. Thanks for the tip! We do feel safe, we just have to be on the look out when we come in at night and turn on the lights haha.

 So, you asked about my new area. It's funny you should ask because I feel like I am definitely in Cajun country. Lots of trailer parks, lots of forest, and lots of long winding country roads with big gnarly trees that canopy over the roads. It gets a little creepy driving home at night, sometimes I think I hear banjos...hahaha.
Really, Denham Springs is a suburb but I feel like in Loosiana (people down here actually say it like that) anything outside of Baton Rouge or New Orleans is a rural little country town because everything is so spread out. They have a Walmart and a Taco Bell, so really we don't need much more than that, the biggest attractions here are the antique stores and the Bass Pro Shops. It is pretty, I love it down here, and the weather is starting to cool off a smidge. In the mornings it's in the 70's and perfect outside, from noon onward though it's high 80's low 90's. We had to bike a bit this week because we were out of miles, and I got pretty sweaty. Let's just say I'm headed soon to Walmart to buy more deoderant.

The two wards we work in are great. Sometimes I wonder if the two wards are kind of Hatfields and McCoys-ish (some people don't really like people in the other ward and vice versa) but as missionaries we don't get involved in that, we just try to help where we can. 1st ward has a LOT of less active, part member families and so we are working on finding the less active women who have nonmember kids and husbands and we have seen some sweet miracles from that. The Lord has definitely prepared people here for us to teach and bring back into the gospel or bring into the gospel for the first time. 2nd ward has over 60 less active or inactive sisters who they want us to focus on. But get this - they don't assign visiting teachers to these people. What's up with that? If every active member would just do his or her home/visiting teaching, the missionaries could focus on teaching nonmembers and strengthening members instead of rescuing less actives or acting as the ward's personal investigators. Thanks for being such a great example to me of a faithful, dedicated home teacher. The way you've fellowshipped the Teufels (a part member family!!!) over the years is awesome, and I know that their family has been blessed because of it.

Because we work in two wards, our area is ginormous - we cover from north eastern Baton Rouge to a little town called Watson in the north over to Walker in the east and down to St. Vincent in the south. Some of these places are unincorporated, but maybe you can find them on google maps.

So me and Sister Alvine spoke in church yesterday and we were asked to speak about missionary work. I felt impressed to speak about the atonement, because there is this line in Preach My Gospel that says "As you come to understand and apply the atonement, your desire to share the gospel will increase." Such a powerful and interesting statement. And so I taught about the doctrine of Christ, and how as we use and apply this cycle in our lives, our joy will increase so much that our love of the Gospel won't be able to be contained within ourselves. We will just have to share it! Sister Alvine said it another way, "Our desire to share the gospel is directly proportional to our personal conversion." How cool is that? I love it.

I'm so excited for conference this weekend! It's like the Super Bowl for missionaries (or the Stanley Cup haha ). I can't wait to see what the Lord will have us work on for the next six months. And it's fun to think that me and you will be doing the exact same thing at the exact same time this weekend. So great!
Love you with all my heart!