Monday, November 18, 2013

Woot! Woot! for personal revelation!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey President-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Sister Chausow

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