Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Holy Service Batman!!

Hey familia! 
I stinkin' miss all of you (or "all y'all" as they say down here) and I hope you're doing well!
Holy tomato, we have been serving like crazy this week, and our numbers weren't even way down despite how much time we spend doing yard work and cleaning. The Lord's work is truly awesome. We cleaned this lady's house, washed this other lady's dishes that have been accumulating for months, and we installed a drainage system to prevent this member's garage from flooding every time it rains. We also did yard work for this random couple and when we wouldn't take money, the old man started swearing at us. haha! So great!
Okay, so here are two super cool experiences-
This last week when we were on exchanges with the Gonzalez sisters, Sister Gibson and I went to see a less active member who lives in a long term care facility, and our visit lasted almost 90 minutes and it would've lasted longer if we'd let it. This sister is so lonely, and it's hard to balance the need to love and serve by spending time with her and the need to see as many people as we can. But the tender mercy comes in here - we left the care facility and I was feeling bummed because we weren't going to be able to see everyone we wanted to visit (we didn't have set appointments, but we had a list of people that needed some hope) and so we went to another less active's house, who is never home, and I really didn't think that we would get to see her. But when we got there, she was there and said, "Hey, I just got home from class, come in and talk." And if our visit with the first less active was shorter, we wouldn't have been able to see this second sister, and she actually let us in and talked to us. It was really cool, seeing how Heavenly Father uses our weaknesses to further His great work.

Also, I'm coming to understand that the Book of Mormon is truly a holy book. I have a deep testimony of that and it is only getting stronger and deeper, and we try to keep ourselves and those we work with in the Book of Mormon as much as we can. This last week we set up an "experiment" (this is our new tactic for getting people to make and keep commitments, or getting ourselves to try something new) with an eternal investigator, and we asked her to read one chapter in the Book of Mormon every day for one week. And guess what - she did it! I think she missed a day or two, but she made it up the day after, and this is the first time she's tried and kept a commitment in a long time. We asked her how she felt and how her days went, and she said that her time in the Book of Mormon brought her peace and serenity, that she felt good when she did it, and she made the connection that maybe that was the Holy Ghost. Hooray! Seeing her make those connections on her own is a miracle. Hopefully, as we continue to love, serve, and teach, and as she continues to keep the commandments, she can receive the strength and the confidence that she needs to make the decision to be baptized.
K, love you all! Watch for letters in the mail! Thanks for all your letters and support! I can feel Heavenly Father strengthening me because of your prayers and I am so grateful for that!
Sister Chausow

Happy Happenings!!

Hello to my family who I love so much!
Here's a quick update on the goings on down here in Baton Rouge-
It is hot hot hot! And it is made more so by the humidity. Seriously, my glasses fog up when I get out of the car or leave the apartment, that's how humid it is.
Also, we've been eating a ton of jambalaya - don't be alarmed if I've turn into a large bowl of jambalaya by the time I get home. It's so freakin' delicious, I might eat myself if I actually turned into jambalaya....
We had a ton of meetings this week, so we didn't get as much teaching in as we'd like, but we were definitely strengthened by our meetings. This last Zone Training Meeting was the most spiritual meeting I've been in so far, and the Spirit was so strong, you could almost cut it with a knife. Even when me and Sister Jones were instructing, we were still learning, and that's when you know the Spirit is teaching - when both the teacher and the hearer are edified.

Another highlight of the week was our 12 Week Training. For the first three months you're in the field, you are supposed to have an hour of training each day based on this 12-Week In Field Training Plan that the Missionary Department/Apostles came up with. We have been slacking off, not doing training, and yesterday we finally made time to sit down and walk through weeks 9 and 10. And even though we'd been putting it off, we actually enjoyed it and learned a ton! A ton about the Spirit, and ton about the symbols in the temple, and a ton about ourselves. It was amazing. We truly made our apartment a holy place yesterday, because we were learning from Preach My Gospel and the scriptures through the Spirit. And the funny thing was that we were learning about the Holy Ghost. It was almost as if the Holy Ghost was saying, "Hooray! You are finally making time to learn about me! Let me bless you with my presence so that you can not only learn about me, but learn about what I feel like." It was so cool to uncover the mysteries of God. I was truly humbled and felt the acceptance of the Lord during that time yesterday.

Another happy thing is that Sister Jones and I are growing closer in companionship unity. We set goals and make plans everyday to tweak our teaching, tweak our routine, and tweak our obedience, so that we can be more aligned with the will of the Lord. One of the things that means the most to me in a friend is the ability to help me be a better person. And Sister Jones has that. I really hope we have another transfer together so that we can continue to push each other and grow together. :)

I love serving the Lord so much. We've been doing a ton of yard work, we clean peoples' houses, we help with ward activities, and we wash dishes wherever we eat. It's so true when they say that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. And as I've served people, I come to love them. If I have a hard time with someone, that's on me, because I haven't done my part to serve them. Heavenly Father has provided us a way to love everyone - and that way is through service. The Atonement kicks in when we serve, it heals our wounds and our sorows, and it enlarges our heart. I'm so grateful for the Atonement - it's the only way I can get up at 6:20am every morning. I rely on it for everything, and I have come to love my Savior by using it. This mission is the best thing that's ever happened to me. Seriously, why did I ever not want to serve a mission?
Love you all a bunch!
-Sister Chausow

Monday, June 3, 2013

Happy June Ya'll!!

Hello to my wonderful family who I love so much! Here's a few updates on this past week.
I hope everyone is sitting down as they read this, because I have some earth shattering news - I am human! Who knew, right? This has been a very human week, a little unbalanced and with some mistakes. But thankfully, I've been able to learn a ton from my experiences, and I'm excited to move forward and change.
One of the best things about this transfer is my companion, Sister Jones. Our unity has been phenomenal. Sister Jones is so forgiving, and loves me even when I make mistakes. She really encourages me and helps me to see the good in myself, and it's because of her positivity that I have set a goal that whenever I feel like I've messed up or didn't teach the best, to not dwell on the negative but see what I can learn and move forward. I love having a friend and a companion who inspires me.
Okay, we have had gajillions of tender mercies, and I started seeing them more during and after my exchange with Sister LaPorte. She is a pro at seeing and talking about all the tender mercies, and things that would seem normal or mundane she recognizes as blessings from the Lord. And I loved learning that from her! She helped me put on my "miracle glasses," and because of that, I've noticed that God blessed us with beautiful clouds and sunshine, the opportunity to meet an eternal investigator's son who has been invisible so far but has potential for conversion, to serve more than I ever had so far but to also teach more lessons than I've taught any other week on my mission. We were blessed by a member who bought us a ton of groceries, and I was able to teach, testify, and understand in Spanish when I went on exchanges with the Spanish sisters. I know this is truly is the Lord's work - I've seen too many miracles, big and small, to say otherrwise.
So in our mission, President Wall, has put a big emphasis on the book of Mormon. He wants us to study it more dilligently and he wants us to continually use it as we teach, invite people to read it from the beginning, and if they don't, to read with them. And I've found that I love reading it with investigators, less actives, and members because it brings some awesome experiences. Here are three quick examples:
With investigator D, we have started reading with him weekly. We started in Helaman because that's as far as he got by himself. And we are trying to enable him to read on his own by showing him what to look for and how to apply the wars and contentions of the Nephites to himself. And miracle: D's mother is devout in her religion, and she normally just sits and observes, but this time, she followed along in her own copy of the Book of Mormon as we read, and D texted us later that day and said how much she loved our visit. I think D's mom has started to feel the spirit of the Book of Mormon.
Second, we gave a less active member Alma 36 to read while she was in a detox center for acoholism, and she loved it. We read it before she went to rehab, and we invited her to read it again while she was in rehab, and her faith is really growing in the power of the atonement, which she desperately needs because she needs to use the atonement now more than ever before in her life.
And lastly, we talked about the difference in the people of Ammon before they were baptized and after (we looked at Alma 27:25 and 27) and how we can become more converted. The Book of Mormon is for everyone, and I love it so so much.
Lastly, I just wanted to share some word changing I did in a verse from the Book of Mormon. In Ether 6:3, which reads "And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness." And I realized that us missionaries, and every member of the church, is like those stones. The verse could read, "And thus the Lord caused his missionaries/saints to shine in the darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not pass through this life in darkness." I love this! Over and over again I find that the Savior is light, and we as his representatives need to spread and shine His light. It makes me think of that hymn "There is in his sight no darkness at all." I want to continue to stay in that light and exude it by staying close to Him.
I love being here, I love serving the Lord, and I love you all! Thanks for all the letters and emails! I have the best support group anyone could ask for!
Sister Chausow