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!http://www.ldsphilanthropies.org/missionary/#topOfPage

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!


More tender mercies!!!!

 Hey Family!
Can't wait to tell you about all the awesome things that the Lord has done for me and Sister Alvine recently....
1.) Tender mercy - the library is less busy today! So I have more time to email! Woot! But I still look forward to getting your snail mail letter
2.) Tender mercy - right after I had those few bad days, I got your packages and mail from you and dad and it totally cheered me up. I almost cried when I got Phyllis, I couldn't put her down, and she is my snuggle buddy at night. Who knew that a teddy bear would make such a huge difference for a 23 year old haha. Thank you thank you thank you for being there for me right when I needed you the most! And Sister Alvine started crying when she got the necklace you sent. And you keep sending her things that she needs - stamps, chap stick, she says you are inspired! She goes back to temple square right before thanksgiving and she'll be there until April, so if yall do a ski trip, you should totally go to temple square and see her. She wants to meet you so bad and she said she would give yall a tour of the square! Just a thought :)
3.) We did an experiment on Saturday that turned out super cool. I have been feeling suuuuuper tired lately and I've had to take a 60-90 minute nap every day which isn't obedient and I've felt really bad but I thought I needed it. But then I read in Mosiah 24 about how the people were strengthened to bear their burdens with ease, and so I did an experiment - I prayed and asked the Lord for strength to be able to keep the mission schedule like it says (you have an hour brake for lunch and an hour break for dinner but I was taking way more than that) and I would skip my nap that day. And guess what???? It was an amazing day! We taught and served so many people! Seriously, it might've been one of my favorite days on the mission.
4.) Sister Alvine continues to be a huge blessing in my life. She has this awesome ability to laugh whenever something goes wrong. I, on the other hand, usually get mad or frustrated or upset, but after working with her for two weeks, and I am finding that I am starting to laugh too instead of getting mad. for example, yesterday we were biking home from church and I had groceries that members had given us strapped to the back of my bike plus my heavy purse over my shoulder and my purse shifted and the weight shift caused me to lose my balance and me and my bike fell right over in the parking lot as I was trying to ride home. And you know what I did? I shocked myself and just laughed. And then when we got home, the grocery sack with all our food in it totally ripped apart and everything fell on the ground, and at first I was mad and just like, ugh, what else is going to go wrong, but then I realized that angels had probably held that bag together and not let it rip until we were home, how awesome is that? Seriously, being a missionary is so great.
5.) Ok, so I've been struggling to love the elders in my district because they are kind of punks, so we decided that we would try to find ways to serve them. And so one day we made little posters with the reasons why they rock and sneakliy taped them to their doors and ran away. And guess what! Elder  S, the one I have the hardest time with (he seems to not really like Sisters and I don't really like much about him, but don't worry, Sister Alvine is helping me see the good in him) he has been a lot friendlier to us and supportive and generally nice. Who knew? And I feel more understanding towards him too, which is awesome sauce. Service truly works miracles!

So yeah, life is great. I could go on and on, but I'm going to spread the love around and share stories with all the family today. I'm full of happiness that comes from living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it's awesome. Thanks for letting me come, and thanks for raising me in such a way that I would stay once I got out here.

Love you forever and ever!


Supply Package please! ;-)

Hey mama-

So proud of you for completing your first week of school! That is so cool! Thanks for being an inspiration to me!

So I am in need of some stuff. Hope it's okay if I make a list!
-Paper clips
-Thank you cards
-Colored paper
-A rug for the bathroom floor
-An English dictionary to look up words in the scriptures
-Phyllis (my teddy bear)

Also, can you send a letter for my companion? She needs a piece of mail to get a library card. She is so awesome. Her family doesn't really write to her, and her mom never writes because she doesn't know how to use a computer so her mission president gave her special permission to call her every 3 months. Sister Alvine is a convert and none of her family joined with her. She is such a strong person, I get a lot of strength from her.
And I get so much strength from you and your emails! Thanks for always being there for me! I miss you a lot, sometimes I want to come home, but I know I am involved in a great work and I never want to quit before it's my time, even though it's hard sometimes.
Love you tons!

PS: The picture is from when me and Sister Marks got to teach the young girls at Achievement Days on our last night together. It was so cool, only one of the girls that was there is an active member of the 2nd ward. The two black girls are M's kids that we got to come, and the hispanic girl is from the Spanish branch and the blond girl in the pink shorts comes from a less active family (her mom is totally inactive). It was amazing to see them work together and support each other in the activities that we had them do. So so so cool.

Denham Springs!

Hey family!

So I am now in Denham Springs Louisiana! I am here with Sister Alvine, a Temple Square sister who is serving in Louisiana for two transfers, and I freakin' love her! She has a loud infectious laugh, she loves to dance and sing, and she was born in Cameroon in Africa and then moved to France to go to college and to work. She might be my favorite companion ever :)

So we were assigned to open the area for sisters and we are covering two wards, Denham Springs 1 and 2. There are elders in both wards, but there haven't been sisters in Denham 1 for a few years and there have never ever been sisters in Denham 2. I kind of felt like a rockstar or a celebrity at church yesterday - everyone wanted to introduce themselves to us and shake our hands, people were asking us to come over for dinner right and left, we got asked to speak and to come to Mutual with the Young Women, it was crazy. In Peru, I was a "rockstar" because I had white skin. Here I am a "rockstar" because I am a sister missionary, and that means something. It is so crazy. I hope we can live up to the hype!

There is not much investigator work going on here, because the Bishoprics seem to be focusing on less active work and getting the members to be more missionary minded. So we are trying to visit less actives, get them reactivated, and help bring their family in the church because surrounding every less active member are children or spouses or siblings that have never been baptized. It's really exciting and it's a different way to do missionary work. It's harder and there's less immediate satisfaction than tracting, but it's what our ward leaders want us to do, and our Mission President is big on us doing anything the ward leaders ask as long as it's a righteous desire.

I'm attaching a picture of the sweet trailer where we live. It's owned by a member of Denham 1 and it's behind a car wash which is pretty sweet. I've only had to kill two cockroaches so far, other than that it's a super nice place, and we have a car too, hooray!

I love you all and pray for you lots! Hope all is well!
-Sister Chausow

PS: My new address is -
26033 Highway 16
Denham Springs, LA


Our sweet trailer! This is my new companion Sister Alvine!

September 17th Getting Transferred!

Hey you two! (Lookup here! Lookup here!) Haha just kidding. Love me some Three Amigos.

So, we'll just get the big news out of the way: I'm getting transferred. When I got the call, we were in a dinner appointment and it felt like I got punched in the stomach. Kind of like I broke up with 200 people all at the same time, and it was/is really sad. I love these people! There is so much that lies in store for each one of them, and I want to help them get there! But I trust the Lord - He knows who needs me and who I need to continue progressing. I trust Him, more than I ever have in my life, but I know that He loves me and will take care of me.

I don't know where I'm headed, but I know that I'm going to miss Sister Marks and my district. Me and Sister Marks finally found some common ground and now I feel like we are best friends forever. Guess what our common ground is  - laughter. We take turns telling ridiculous stories that happened to us in the past, or quoting the Office, and we just laugh until we can barely breathe. I discovered a new level of laughter - it's where you're laughing so hard that you can't keep your eyes open. Who even knew that could happen? But I'll be in the car laughing, trying to be an alert passenger and keep my eyes on the road, but I can't because I have to close my eyes because my face is so scrunched from laughing. It's a real thing, I promise, and it's pretty awesome. But then when it's lesson time we sober up and bring the Spirit back through prayer and go teach. We've been teaching better in unity, which is a relief. We aren't perfectly balanced in our teaching, but we are better than before, and it's awesome. I'm going to miss her and I'm really going to miss my district.

So one thing that was a bummer this week - this less active lady that I've been working with since I got here and who was making real progress and had been coming to church pretty consistently for a couple months texted us to say that she is doing this intensive yoga teaching certification that involved training all day on Saturday and Sunday every weekend for 2 months, so she wouldn't be a church until November. I have to tell you I was devestated. We taught her about faith, and the sacrament, and the Atonement, and yet because her family is struggling financially, she has chosen to get more certification to make more money for her family. It's hard to argue with that, but at the same time, I was just like, "I can't believe I didn't do my job right. I must not have taught clearly enough, or with the spirit, or maybe we taught the wrong things." So much doubt from the adversary just flooded over me and I was so sad. But then I remembered this is the Lord's work, both she and I are in His hands, and He has a plan for each of us. And everyone had their agency. But I think I understand a little better now how Heavenly Father feels when I don't use my agency the best I can. Agency is a precious gift, but it's also a big responsibility.

But anyways, I want to tell you about God's success stories, not Satan's success stories. Here are excerpts from my president's letter:

Wow. What a week we had. So much to tell. I'll start with the miracles: T has committed to a baptismal date! We initially committed him to be baptized on October 19, and we asked him to pray about that day. We went back the next day and asked him how it went, and he said he and God had "come to an agreement." And we were like, what does that mean? And he said, I think it should be October 26. And he said it with this quiet conviction and I felt the Spirit so strong, like because T had prayed about it and picked his own baptismal date, he would be more committed to it than anything. I am so excited for him! And M (his sister who we are also teaching) and her almost-husband R where listening - I think T's conviction kind of lit a fire in them. M said she would get baptized tomorrow if she could but she understands that she has to be divorced from her previous husband, married to R, and then she can get baptized. R didn't really say much, so we asked him what his thoughts were about baptism and he said, "Honestly......I'm ready." And then he said that he wanted to shoot for January 1st, because they have a lot of stuff going on in their life right now, but M said that getting baptized would help them to have peace while they are going through every thing. It was so awesome. They were like teaching themselves and us and the angels in the room (I just felt like the room was crowded, it was really cool) just sat there and watched. We committed M and R to pray together about their date, and even if it seems impossible to get the divorce/marriage thing worked out by a certain time, setting a date would be a show of their faith that this is what God wants for them and He will provide a way. And I think the coolest thing for me is that I truly believe that God will provide a way. I have never asked anyone to aim for what seems to be impossible, but I did that yesterday, sitting in a dark living room with three people that I love with all my heart. Sister Marks and I asked them to shoot for the impossible with a sure knowledge that this is God's will and He will not let this family down. My heart was and is filled with joy at the thought that as an authorized servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, I can, with all the confidence in the world, promise people miracles as they exercise their faith. I am truly going to miss this family (they have five kids, the three oldest of whom are eligible to be baptized, and they've already read through 1 Nephi chapter 18 in the children's Book of Mormon we gave them - another miracle!) but they have embraced the light of the gospel. I can't wait for them to be able to go through the temple one day. 

Oh yeah, here's another miracle - so the bishopric gave us this list of less actives whose last known address is in our ward and they asked us to try to track down these people or get some information about them. So there was this one name that they were going to give to the elders because it was a single man, but we happened to be on the street where he lived after teaching M, and instead of making the Elders bike all the way down there, we called and offered to check on him ourselves, and they agreed. So we go to the complex where he lives, go to his door, and Sister Marks heard people talking in Spanish. So we knew someone was home and we knocked and no one answered. So she knocked again and yelled "Hola!" to let them know it was someone friendly. And this Hispanic man comes to the door. He speaks English but prefers Spanish, so we started talking to him in Spanish, asking him about the less active that we were trying to find, and he said he didn't know him and had been living in that apartment for a year. So, in order to not be creepy, we explained that we were missionaries for our church trying to find lost members, and he asked what church, and we started telling him about our church. Sister Marks had this great way of contacting which I am definitely going to use in the future - explaining how we teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and about why there are so many churches but one God. And right then he said, "Where's your church?" and he put the address right into his phone, he gave us his phone number, and we told him when church is and also about English class on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Seriously, he just kind of fell into our laps and when we shook his hand as we were leaving, he looked into my eyes and just had this look of gratitude and I felt the sincerity in his grip. I don't know what's going to happen with him, but I'm really excited about this man, B. This really is God's work and nothing can stop it.

So Mom and Dad, this is so awesome! I really do love being a missionary! It's the best thing that's ever happened to me. Thank you for letting me come and for supporting me. Next week I'll be in a new place with a new companion and I'll fill you in on everything.
By the way, thanks for keeping the extended family informed. Most weeks I don't have enough time to write to everyone I want to write, so I'm just really thankful that y'all are helping me out in that way and in so many ways.
Love you forever!

PS: Elder Brockbank LOVED his package! He said it totally made his day! He is staying here in BR and he will be training a new elder with Asperger's. Pray for him!
PPS: Sister Marks is wondering where we got the half tees from. She really wants to order some. I think it was from Sister Missionary Mall. Is that right?
PPPS: I love you both so much! I pray for you always, and I'll especially keep Caitlyn in my prayers as she starts school this week!

PPPPS: Attached is a picture of my district. Elder Brockbank is the one whose head is sticking out in the back. Sister Tuft is standing next to me. These two have been my rock this transfer. :)

This last pic is of me and Sister Marks chilling with some froyo!

August 9th Birthday Party for Juan!

Hey family!
 Just wanted ya'll to know that I miss you and love you! LIie down here in the bayou is great - we have been teaching and serving a lot! I've also been getting to know the people in the Spanish congregation better since we work with both English and Spanish now. On Tuesday night, we had a small birthday party for this man Juan who is pretty much the most amazing guy ever, but his family is down in Mexico and we didn't want him to be all alone on his birthday. So we played a few games and had birthday cake and ice cream and it was awesome. This man has a rock solid testimony of Jesus Christ and he has really helped me to be strong, so it was nice to do something for him in return. Attached is a picture of all of the Spanish missionaries with Juan. So much fun!
I love you all tons! Hope life is great!

-Sister Chausow

Also, here's a picture of Mission Leader Council, it's the meeting where all the zone leaders and all the sister training leaders get together with President and Sister Wall and the Assistants and talk about what's working well in the mission, what's not, and what President wants us to focus on during Zone Training Meetings and during our studies and exchanges. It's an amazing meeting, I just love President and Sister wall!
And I love you more! Hugs!!!


Burrito anyone????

A picture of Elder Bennett, an elder in my district, eating an
"illegal burrito." He put it away in like 5 minutes. The expression on
the guy's face sitting behind him says it all bahahaha.
Hey family! 
It's been a crazy week! We did lots of service (paint removal and repainting the guard rails at one of the parks in Baton Rouge. Super fun and super sweaty!) Here's some highlights that I included in my letter to my mission president:

In Matthew 13:31-32, I found a parable that I had heard half of over and over and over, but some how, the end always gets lost and I've never heard it before. And it is seriously the coolest thing ever. I'm so glad I found it when I did because I was able to share it with Hermana Nielson and I think it helped her a little bit. The verses read:
"Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."

I feel like this totally applies to me as a missionary and to all of us as children of God. We are given experiences, we study, we learn and grow, and even if we start with a lot of weaknesses and faults, as we nurture and take care of our spirits and bodies, we can help others find rest, just like the tree provided a safe haven for the birds. I just loved finding my purpose embedded in scripture in a different way, and maybe it's a stretch, but my new vision for myself is to grow and nurture my body and spirit so that I can better help others find peace and rest through my service and through the principles that I have to share. 

Miracle this week was teaching "M" and her brother and her husband. They are super prepared, the Lord/her sister sent them to us via media referral, and we taught her the restoration on Saturday and her whole family came to church on Sunday! It is the first time I have ever had an investigator at church, let alone three investigators (M, her husband, and her brother). R and M's kids loved primary and after we teach the adults the rest of the restoration, we are going to teach the kids about the restoration using the cup tower method, which will be awesome. Our ward is getting really excited about this family, and want to do whatever it takes to help them out, which is super cool. I guess once we found some people on our own, just like in Preach My Gospel the ward is getting fired up and will hopefully be more supportive of missionary work going forward.

We are really trying to teach shorter lessons but it's not something that either of us have mastered yet. There is so much content in each lesson that it is hard to not over whelm people by teaching a ton in one lesson. At the same time, it's hard to not make it so people feel like we leave them hanging and not give them enough information for it to make sense. It's a balancing act, and we will figure it out :)

I am still studying the pamphlets. They are really helped me with teaching in Spanish because they are so simple and easy for me to understand and easy for me to use as a model for my own teaching. Plus, we are going to use the pictures in the pamphlets a lot with M because she is a very visual person. Thank heaven for pamphlets!!!

We work to include the Book of Mormon in every lesson that we teach. Sister S is a really good example of this. We went on exchanges this week and one of my favorite things that I learned from her was to study for the Book of Mormon for 30 minutes every day but as you read, look for things that will help those you teach that day. I know that's kind of a duh thing, but I think I lost track of it as I got caught up in all the Spanish stuff. Sister S is a great missionary and she has progressed a lot since I last went on exchanges with her. 

We haven't been able to follow up with a ton of people with regards to whether they are reading the Book of Mormon, but we have plans to do so, and I am excited to invite M and her family to start reading when we see them on Wednesday.

Hey Mom and Dad!

Hello to my two favorite people in the world!

So good to hear from both of y'all! Thanks so SO much for the awesome package with pictures and the cute clothes and the candy for Sister Marks. She loved it! And so did I! I'm so thankful that I have such a supportive family :) I'm doing well with Sister Marks, and it's really fun/challenging to teach in Spanish. I was wondering if you could send me a Spanish mini Preach My Gospel ("Predicad mi evangelio") and a Spanish dictionary por favor? It would really help me a lot. I am trying to study the lessons in Spanish and really practice and put myself out there in order to teach more effectively and with the Spirit in Spanish. It's tricky, but it's going to be worth it. Now I wish I would've paid more attention in all those Spanish classes I've taken haha.

This week was awesome. We taught 20 lessons for the first time on my whole mission! Wahoo! And it didn't even feel like that many, but we had two days when we taught 5 people on each day, and the rest of the week just carried on as usual. It was so cool. Also, I got to go on exchanges with Sister Tuft which is always super cool. She is seriously the best. I hope I get to serve with her eventually!

Please pray for "A", she is this new investigator we have. She has a lot of problems in her life, and we asked if we could teach her how to find comfort. Also, please pray for Brother T, that his heart can be softened and we can teach him about how to use the Atonement to help him quit smoking. He has tried to quit so many times, and now he is 66 years old and doesn't think he can ever quit for good. But I know he can, because I've come to know, see, and feel the power of the infinite atonement. And I want so badly help him access this power if he has even a twig of faith, like Elder Eyring said. And lastly, please pray for "H" - it turns out that she has read some of the Book of Mormon on her own since we last saw her, more than we asked her to, and she feels good while she reads it! Which is a big sign for her - she loves the Bible and feels good as she reads it, so the fact that she feel the same as she reads the Book of Mormon is a big deal. But she said she felt a little guilty studying the BoM instead of the Bible, but we told her to study them both, that you can never have too much of the word of God. :) And lastly, please pray that "C" will continue reading the Book of Mormon and progress in her desire to be baptized. She goes to the Spanish branch and she is the greatest. She has gone from not wanting to even touch the Book of Mormon to reading it and testing us when she has questions. Seriously, so cool. And please pray that she can get her papers worked out so that she can get a job and stay in the US. She is allowed to be here but there is some complication with actually getting a green card.

Anyways, I just love you both so much. A scripture that has been my motto this week is Joshua 3:5 - "Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you." I love this because I am on this quest to really sanctify and purify myself - my Christ-like attribute for the month is virtue. And I know that if I want the Spirit as my constant companion, to see miracles, and to really help myself and the work in this area to move forward, I must leave behind the little things that "poke" at my Spirit. I am so excited for the rest of this transfer and for the transfer to come - I 'm excited to grow, to learn about the gospel, to learn Spanish, and to help both the Spanish and the English speaking people in the area to come unto Christ, enter into the gate, and make and keep sacred covenants with Heavenly Father. This work is amazing, and I'm so thankful that I get to be a part of it!

Love, Johanna

August 12th Happy Day!

Hey family!
 Love you and miss you all as usual! Glad to hear that things are going well in the various parts of the country. I love getting your emails and letters. Thanks for keeping me going!

So I didn't get transferred but I did kind of. I am now part of a "zebra companionship" - my companion is Hermana Marks and together we are going to split our time between the BR 2nd ward (where I've been serving for the last three months) and the BR 5th branch (the Spanish branch where Hermana Marks has been serving for 8-ish months). We are still the Sister Training Leaders, so we get to work in that assignment still as well, and pretty much we've been running running running trying to figure out how we are going to manage our new responsibilities. President Wall does this great thing where he gives someone an assignment and lets them figure it out themselves. The most direction he gave us is "Consult with your zone and district leaders." And of course when we did their eyes kind of glazed over haha. The good news is that Sister Marks is super fun and funny - she keeps my laughing which I definitely need to keep me sane. She is also super loving towards the people and really really hard working and I'm excited to pick up the pace. And we share clothes so that's just an added bonus. :) She has been out for a little over a year (goes home in December) and we are working on our Spanish together. President made this random comment to me when I saw him the day after transfer meeting - "How's it going with Sister Marks? Hopefully it's getting you ready to train a Spanish sister." And then he walked away. And I about had a heart attack and had to have Sister Marks call an ambulence. But then I decided that I will just focus on the now and we will worry about training and speaking Spanish full time when that day comes. For now, just keep going one day at a time!

So yeah, that's my update on the companion situation. We got three new missionaries in our district, including a new district and I absolutely love our district. Instead of district meeting we've begun calling it family meeting and I just have so much fun when I'm with them, and it's like the good clean, uplifting fun that makes you want to be a better person. I just love it. The only problem is that Elder King, who just got transferred to Plaquemine, is a Sharks fan, and I still have beef with the Sharks for stealing Anti Niemmi, but I'm also working on the Christ-like attribute of forgiveness so hopefully I can work through it :) LOL!

Please continue praying for Sarah. She AND her husband (woo hoo!) were going to come volunteer at Bishop's Storehouse with us, but because we received some bad information, things got mixed up and we were unable to get them a ride. Hopefully we didn't totally lose their trust. We are going to try to see them tomorrow and I really really really hope that we can actually teach them about the Restoration. Up to this point, we've talked about God in general, and we've been answering her questions about Mormons. But I really want her to be able to take the steps to the temple so her and her amazing husband and her super cute kids can be sealed int he temple. They are already amazing and I want so badly for them to have more! And hopefully they can come to church soon so they can feel the Spirit and feel of the love that is there.

K, love you all tons! Thanks for being such a great example to me!

-Love, Sister Chausow


Hey family!
Talohfa is "hello" in Samoan, which I learned from my District Leader who is from American Samoa. And he is getting trasnferred! And my companion is going home! And so is another elder in my district! And I am staying in South BR for another transfer. I didn't get a phone call last night so that might mean that I am no longer a Sister Trainer Leader, but I think the Lord is going to leave me in this calling until I like it, so I guess I better change my attitude quick haha.

So yeah, it was a huge relief to find out that I'm staying. My companion is done with her mission, so if I'd have gotten transferred, that would've mean they would've "whitewashed" the area, and that requires a whoooooole lot of work to make sure the area is ready for two new people. But since I'm staying, I'm learning that keeping up with paper work and the administrative part of being a missionary every day is a TON easier than trying to catch up at the end of a transfer like I've been doing for the last week. Line upon line, right?

Highlights of the week include:
A missionary musical fireside on Sunday night that the Spanish Branch sisters put together. I played the piano for two ladies in our ward who sung a duet and I also played the piano for the missionary choir number/congregational closing song (Ye Elders of Israel!). I was super nervous, but it turned out ok, AND we had an investigator and her two friends show up to check out the "Mormon music night." HOORAY!!! And the fireside was pretty much just teaching the first lesson/discussion from preach my gospel through music, scripture, narration, and video clips. It was awesome, I know I felt the Spirit as we were watching a Bible clip about the Savior. I know that my Savior lives, I know that He loves me and He understands me perfectly as well as every single person I come in contact with. I think before the mission I knew OF Jesus Christ but at the fireside, I came to realize that I am coming to actually KNOW Jesus Christ as I am in His service and trying to do what He would do if He were here.

The other highlight of the week so far was the sacrament. I think as I've come to understand the sacrament better I've come to feel closer to Him too. I had no idea that our sins can literally be washed clean each week if we prepare for and partake of the sacrament worthily. There is so much power in that ordinance, and I will forever be thankful to an MTC teacher and President Wall for helping me truly understand the cleansing and healing power of the sacrament. Repentance is like bagging up the trash and putting it in the garbage can, and the sacrament is like when the garbage truck actually comes and takes all the trash away. Seriously, every Sunday is like the best day ever for me now because I love taking the sacrament. I love reading Alma 22:15 or D&C 45:3-5 because they help me feel the Spirit and understand what I'm doing or verbalize what I'm feeling as I eat the bread and drink the water.

I love this gospel and I'm so glad I'm here, serving my heart out, making lots of mistakes, having lots of awkward moments. Because really no mistake or awkaward moment is a bad thing if we repent, change, and move forward. I love being a missionary. It's the hardest thing, but it's also the most satisfying. Who knew that putting yourself second to service would actually make you happier than you ever were before? This gospel is true, Joseph Smith was a prophet, and there is Godly power in the pages of the Book of Mormon. I know it and I can't deny it.

I love you all and miss you tons!

-Sister Chausow

July 27 Miracles and Tender Mercies

Hey Daddy!
 I loved hearing that you are having a blast with John and that the Wyoming trip went awesome! So so great! This week I am just going to enclose a copy of my President's letter since I am really crunched for time. But I love you and miss you tons! Your letter this last week was truly inspired (with the advice to get up on time because I love God) and I'm so thankful that I have a father who holds and honors the Melchizedek priesthood!

 Dear Pres. Wall-
 I have come to learn through the scriptures and experience that serving others is an act of faith that allows the enabling power of the atonement to strengthen us beyond our normal capacities. The Savior said that it is when we lose ourselves in His work that we come to find ourselves. 

 I just want to say that although yesterday was a rough day of sorts, it was also amazing, because just like you said, I found Christ in the lows. Elder O'Donnell gave me an amazing blessing and so although yesterday wasn't super fun, I felt the spiritual hugs coming that we've talked about before.

I have been learning a lot from the Book of Mormon this week. Most notably, I've learned that scripture is easier to understand if you receive your own revelation. Nephi is only able to explain Isaiah super well to his brothers because he's already had his own vision confirming and expounding on what Isaiah wrote. I think that everyone would love and understand Isaiah the way Nephi did, if we could all see in vision what Nephi saw. And learning this strengthened my desire and need to receive personal revelation everyday. 
If you ask Sister Palmer, I get some weird promptings that are (hopefully) the Spirit, but we follow them in faith and later we have greater understanding. It's an interesting pattern that is used by the Master Teacher to help us walk by faith and not by sight. Nephi might've grown up reading Isaiah, but he probably didn't understand it or could explain it that well until he received personal revelation that clarified and was tailored to him and his needs. And I know that the same thing can happen for me - the stories I've read all my life can/have been illuminated as I've received revelation and studied for those whom I so dearly want to serve.
Companionship unity is great, I really do love Sister Palmer. Thank you a million times for putting us together! I've learned so much for her, and she's pushed me in the ways that I've needed. We complement each other really well, and I rejoice in the fact that I got to learn from her before she goes home. 
District unity will hopefully be strengthened today during our Plaquemine P-Day. We are all going down to Plaquemine to play frisbee in the field by the branch building, and hopefully show Plaquemine that we care about them and don't want to force them to come up to BR all the time. I'm excited and looking forward to today, even though it means that we don't get to take naps. :)

As far as miracles and tender mercies go, Kenny got baptized!!!! I've never felt so happy in my entire life. Having my first baptism (even though it wasn't really mine - I only taught him the first lesson and soft committed him to be baptized and then I got transferred, and really he was so prepared that any missionary could've helped him to get baptized) helped me realized that this work is not about numbers. It's about sacred promises with God. And that is so cool. 
Also, as we were walking out of the apartment to go to church, the sky was super dark and it looked like a thunderstorm was coming (I love the rain and thunderstorms!) and I said to Sister Palmer, "I hope it's going to rain!" and right then the first drops of a good little storm started falling and I laughed and cried because I knew that my Father in Heaven heard me, loved me, and cared enough about me to send me something that I love. And also, He knew what was going to happen that morning, and He prepared a rainstorm for me to help me feel happy. How nice is that? That the Master of the Universe would take the time to prepare and send a small storm for one of His obscure daughters just to help her feel better. It boggles my mind.

I've struggled with my teaching for the first time during my mission and it's been great to be humbled. We had a couple of lessons that we've walked out of where I've just been like, "What just happened? Why did we do what we did? We just confused them, not helped them" And it hurts because I'm truly coming to love the people we teach and I want only to help to progress. We've also struggled to teach shorter lessons, but we ALWAYS use the Book of Mormon, and sometimes we use the pamphlets. I love studying the pamphlets with a specific lens - it really helps me to get more out of them. For example, did you know how much you can learn about obedience and keeping the commandments from the Restoration Pamphlet? A ton! I'm excited to continue studying the pamphlets this way. 

K, I'm super excited for Zone Conference tomorrow! I love learning from you and your wife, I love learning from the assistants, but mostly I love learning from the Holy Ghost and that is who really teaches when you and Sister Wall and the assistants teach. Thank you for being worthy enough to teach by the Spirit and help me to know what God would have me do to be a better servant.

-Sister Chausow

Hey Mama!
So happy to hear that you get to spend time with you family and have a little pioneer day fun! Thank you sooo much for the package! The oreos will be coming to district p-day with us to give us a little something to snack on as we play frisbee as a district down in Plaquemine. Its a small town across the Mississippi river and normally the elders down there have to come up to BR to hang out on p-day or for district meeting. So we decided that us BR missionaries would ride the ferry over to Plaquemine and spend p-day down there. I'm excited to get out of the city and go down to the ghetto/farmland/country. Last transfer we went down one time to visit some senior single sisters who the elders couldn't visit but who needed some TLC and it's awesome. I've been spoiled in Baton Rouge - most of Louisiana is in branches instead of wards and most members of those branches are converts with only a few life long members. Our ward up here is very much like a Utah ward since it's so many families that have moved here for school or who have moved here from other places. But yeah, I'm excited for a change of scenery :)

 It's been pretty hot down here too, and the mugginess is ever present. I feel so bad for the Elders who are on bikes. Did I tell you that mission presidents are now strongly discouraged from putting sisters in biking areas, and are supposed to put them in car areas wherever possible? My bike is getting used though, don't worry. The Elders in our ward, Elder Asuao and Elder Bennett, have both been having bike troubles so I've been letting them borrow mine. We call it Big Red, because this bike is BIG and it's very red! lol. Seriously, I love that bike but I'm happy that it is being put to use in the service of the Lord.

That's so nice of people to ask about me! Tell everyone that I say hello and that I miss them! Debbie Wehrhahn sent me a super cute package and I haven't written her to say thank you yet, but it seriously brightened my week. I've rationed the m&m's she sent and I am still enjoying them two weeks later! 

Here's something weird - in the MTC, the missionaries who are going to Louisiana are often put in the district with missionaries who are going to either Milwaukee, Philadelphia, or Pittsburg. So you should ask any greenies that come into the ward if they were with Louisiana missionaries in the MTC. Sister Tuft and Sister Jones knew Elder Campbell in the MTC - crazy!

Thanks again for the package! If you have time, could you keep looking for different arrangements of Savior Redeemer of my Soul? The one you sent isn't quite the right one, but it is still beautiful! I love it and I'm excited to play around with it! :) Also, there's this CD called "Poly Praise" that I would love - it's floating around the mission but I'd love to have my own copy. Also if you see any music by "Lower Lights" they are an awesome LDS bluegrass band that does hymn arrangements.

So I'm having less and less time to email/write letters, so I'm hoping that you are just editing my emails and posting them on my blog for Gramps and Nana and Chuck and Lovely  and everyone else to see. I need to to do better but P-Day is really only 8 hours long (10am to 6pm) and we barely have enough time to get everything done that we are supposed to before we have to start proselyting at 6pm. I'm not complaining, just saying that it gets tricky and I don't want to offend anyone.

K, I love you tons! Sorry this wasn't a super spiritual email! I just miss you and love you and I'm so so so grateful that I have you. Other missionaries moms are not even close to as awesome as you and I'm so grateful.
Hugs hugs hugs!

PS: This is a picture of me, Sister Tuft, Sister Olsen, and Kenny after Kenny's baptism! We got there late so I didn't get the traditional dressed in white picture, and it's a little awkward since as Sisters we can't touch guys, but Kenny is the one standing next to me and Corey Jackson, the ward mission leader and Kenny's best friend and the one who baptized/confirmed Kenny, is standing between him and Sister Olsen. So great! The whole picture is a little discombobulated but I love it because that's pretty much how the whole mission is - one big awkward moment with smaller moments of joy and love!