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Thursday, February 25, 2016

45 might as well be summer.

Emily and Deb Zollinger
Congratulation's Vivian!

Hey family, sorry you didn't get the email last week. The server has been struggling and tons of missionary letter aren't going through. If you ever don't get a letter, it's not because I didn't write. I sent last weeks letter again, so hopefully you got that just before this one. It's been a pretty big problem I guess.

This week wasn't overly exciting until Saturday. We have been teaching a lady twice a week since we found her two weeks ago, and her lessons are interesting because she asks the best questions, but she is really Catholic. Her daughters are going through the preparation for their confirmation and so she is really active in her church. It's interesting because she feels like she is missing something in her worship/beliefs, but she hasn't figured out that she feels that way. When we talk to her she always asks really good questions and has a sincere desire to figure out what truth actually is. She mentioned that everyone thinks that they have found truth, so how does she know that what we're saying is THE truth. She has been reading a little from the Book of Mormon. We invited her to the baptism and branch activity we had Saturday, but I lost her phone number and couldn't remind her on Saturday. Stupid. She is really cute, we want to try to commit her to a date this week. 

On Wednesday we're going to the temple! YAYY! I'm excited. Brother Cupkie is going with us and apparently he's a temple symbolism guru. It should be really good. So today we have our email time. I hope you get this one!      
I read a talk this week that was kind of a big deal to me. Sometimes when you really need some advice, you read the words of an apostle or prophet and it just fills up every part of you, and that's what this talk did. It's called "the Inconvenient Messiah" by Elder Jeffrey Holland. It's a devotional he gave at BYU in the 80s. He talks about a lot of things, but the underlying message of his whole talk is that the path of a disciple of Jesus Christ will never ever be convenient or easy. He talks about keeping the commandments, school, life, and then related it to the temptations that the Savior overcame. It resonated for me because being a missionary is hard. The last few weeks have been hard motivation-wise, and his comments were much-needed. Nothing like a little Elder Holland to revamp your motivation haha. 

Saturday we had coordination meeting, a baptism, dinner with the Zollingers, and then a branch talent show. We biked to coordination meeting, which is only like a half mile, but we usually drive, it was new and fun. Biking is fun as long as it's not cold, it's not too hilly, and you're not in a skirt:) It's good though, I actually enjoyed the change. Our branch president always does coordination and breakfast 8 o clock Saturdays, it's always enjoyable. Vivian got baptized! I don't know if I've talked about her a lot, but her husband and all her husband's family are less-active, so we really hope that this will help not only her but her whole family to receive the blessings they need. Their family needs a little push. They literally have no excuse not to come. She was so cute. She was nervous, but it turned out good. 

We had a branch activity Saturday night and it was a talent show. It was cute, the kids dance d a sang, Hna R and I sang. It was fun and lots of cake after haha. It's been a good week. Next week is already transfers! How did that even happen?! I think we'll both stay here in Lakeville, but you never know. 

Dad I don't even know what to say about the accident. I'm glad you're ok. Scary. I'm glad the rest of the week was good, are you feeling better today? How long do you have to wear a brace? How are the girls? Did they burn the house down? 

Let me know how things are. 
Love you, stay safe!

Happy Valentine's Day!

District Photo
First of all, so jealous that you are going to Maui. It snowed all day yesterday, but the good news is that its supposed to get up into the forties by the end of this week. T-shirt weather haha So there have been a lot of things that happened this week that were really fun! First of all, somebody (Dad?) asked about Elder Farish this week. You'll never guess what happened! He got emergency transferred into Cambodian work! His companion is full Cambodian and speaks decent English but is hard to understand sometimes. He's taking the place of an elder that came here to Lakeville, because one of the Elders had to fill a spot of another etc because they closed Sparta, one of the areas in the mission. I thought that was the craziest thing. Cambodian is assigned in the mission call occasionally, but a lot of times, they just have to learn here, and it's pretty near impossible to learn well enough to translate or anything. Poor kid. He'll be great. Hopefully he learns fast! 

Second, turns out that one of the girls on my floor last year is best friends with one of the girls we live with, and she got engaged this week. It was one of those "do you know this person?" and usually you say no, but I literally lived across from her for 8 months. It was a fun discovery, I just kept saying "are you serious?!" haha It's a small world, and it's so fun when you have friends that live all over. 

On Tuesday we had zone conference here in Lakeville, so the Minneapolis and Lakeville South zones came too. I got to see all my friends! Hna Warmbier and her comp, Sis Scholl, the whole district I was in in Minneapolis, everybody was there and it was really fun seeing them all. The entire theme of the conference was about the urgency of our work. Working hard, working efficiently, using time wisely. Our mission is kind of in a rut right now, motivation and numbers are low. Its hard because in a lot of ways I feel like the missionaries are being forgotten about, like the office doesn't know where we are or who are comps are, and then the car thing (by the way they haven't done anything with the cars yet, so we've been good.) has brought down a lot of like... chastisement? I don't know if that's the right word. That has killed a lot of drive. For me at least. It's hard to get motivated to go out and get things done when you feel like that all it will do is bring down more not encouragement. I don't want to sound too negative or critical, but it's been hard. There are a lot of things going well too. We have an investigator that is planning to get baptized this week and she is so cute. She is the wife of a less-active, and its suuuper frustrating because a lot of times the family wont come to church, and it's so annoying because they're really excited that she's getting baptized, but they won't do anything about it. We haven't been able to teach Marina, she cancelled last week and Monday nights are basically the only day she can meet, but we are going to try again tonight. But we found a new investigator this week. Her name is Anel, and she is hardcore Catholic, but she asks the best questions, she just can't quite tell that there's something missing. She is pretty hooked in her habits, but there is so much potential if we can just help her recognize that hole. Part of the problem too is that her daughters are doing their confirmation in the Catholic church, and so getting them to come to church is hard.
Here's your Valentine's story for the week, we were at Caribou Coffee getting hot chocolate and this (super attractive) guy tries to strike up a conversation, but obviously that wasn't going to fly because 1. I'm a missionary and 2. His in was something about coffee and the only thing I know about coffee is that I teach people not to drink it haha I felt bad because I basically just walked away. I am totally going to be one of those awkward return missionaries. Can't wait.

Side note: I bought a gallon of milk today that expires in March. How does that even happen?! 

We had Valentine's dinner with the Cupkies and we ate authentic Swiss fondue and lava cake. Yummm. They are really sweet, they had a white rose and chocolate waiting for each of us. Next week we have dinners every night! We have dinner with the Zollingers on Saturday night! 

I loved the video of Morgan serving, I watched it over and over and over. 

Dad asked about the Book of Mormon and if my testimony has grown. I chuckled a little because I don't think that even describes it. Before my mission I read because I knew it was good and I felt the difference when I was reading regularly. But since the MTC, it has been so different. It's something that I long for, like all I want to do is read, and even in breaks for lunch and things. Studying isn't a chore. It helps seeing the difference it makes in other peoples conversions. I am reading right now about the stripling warriors and I love the example of obedience and courage.  

Thanks for the advice on school. I think that is what I want to do too. But here's the catch. The MTC is changing their training, so native speaking missionaries will be there for three weeks instead of two, and what that means is that the April transfer will be 7 weeks long. Which pushes back the week I come home. Aka December 28th instead of 21st. I don't really have anything to say about it, just I figured you should probably know. 

So hopefully this email didn't seem too.. I don't know, like sad I guess. I'm just venting a little. I love Minnesota, I love the winter (for real, I've decided I love it!), and I love being a missionary. 
Send me pictures! Ryan, I had better know the second you turn in your papers! 

Love you!


Snow, Menudo and Salmon Fishing

Snow Day!!

Hey family, Happy February! I cannot believe how fast the time is going. The transfer is already half way over, and then it's March. How crazy. It feels like it should be Spring in no time, but we had more than a foot of snow on Tuesday night alone. the cars were grounded all day, so we were home all day. ALL day. It snowed hard from 11 am til after we went to bed, they didn't want us out driving. Apparently in the last week there have been three pretty bad crashes in the mission. Don't worry, not me. But they made it sound like it was a pretty big miracle that no one got hurt. They said it would be close to $100,000 worth of damage. Obviously, that's a pretty big deal, and they are really uptight about how much we drive right now. They will probably cut a lot of miles so that everyone has to bike and walk more. It's kind of daunting considering that we easily cover 40-50 miles every day. The crashes are contributed to reckless driving, so they are cracking down pretty hard. I'm a good driver, and I know how to drive in the snow, but it does get pretty slippery if you go too fast. It's also been warmer the last few days, close to forty, so everything melts, and then freezes overnight. The nice thing is that they have a killer plow system here, and so the roads are always pretty clear unless you're driving as its snowing. 
So Tuesday was pretty boring. We had another lesson with Marina on Monday night. We stopped by at the time she said and she still wasn't home, so we came by later and we were able to teach a short lesson on the Book of Mormon.  It went pretty well, and she was excited to start reading. we are going again tonight, and we hope she really started reading!

Wednesday night we had menudo. I don't even think I can describe it, you might need to google it. Basically menudo is a soup with tripe or intestines as the main meat. The menudo we had was basically pure intestines. They clean it really well, but my goodness, it still tastes like what you would expect intestines to taste like. The texture is nasty. There are like hard chewy pieces, and then soft (still chewy) pieces, that have the cilia things on them, and then just like nasty stringy pieces. Gross. But Sis R and I both managed to get down a full bowl, which apparently is pretty impressive. Menudo is kind of infamous in the missionary community. The trick is tons of onion and tons of salsa. Bread also helped sort of. It was pretty nasty, I wasn't sure I could finish. But I also feel like it's one of those classic mission experiences that makes a good story. Oh and the other thing is, This family LOVES menudo. The dad in particular was explaining all the ways they make it, that you can get it anywhere in Mexico, that it was WAY better than barbecue, things like that. Fun/disgusting experience. 

Don't get too excited about the salmon fishing thing, I just had a member who was asking me about the salmon fishing, so I need some answers:) What are the months of salmon fishing? What kind of bait do you use? How big are they on average? Tell me all the stories. It was funny because we were talking in Spanish and I was trying to describe things that I know really well, and that are really familiar to me, but I just don't know how to say it in Spanish. He was asking like what kind of animals are there where I'm from, what kind of trees, if there are lakes, rivers, what kind of fish there are, things like that. It was fun because it's stuff I love to talk about, but I basically had to learn a whole new vocabulary.

Here's a story you'll laugh at. There is this lady in our branch who was in St Paul for a while, but she's back and Sunday was her first Sunday back. I hadn't met her, but I had heard her name, usually said with a little bit of exasperation and "oh great" type attitude. You know the type. so we're in Sunday school, more than halfway through. The door opens, and there's this loud "buenos dias hermanos!" from the back but like super dramatic and grand entrance.. and then she proceeds to go around the room and give every single person a hug and say hi. Every. person. And the best part was that most of the people had the "oh no not this lady" face, and put on that "oh honey" face when they would talk to her. She is just really loud all the time. Even during the sacrament I could hear her voice. It was just funny seeing the reaction when she came in the room. Sad, but still funny. 
Here's something random that I've been working on: standing up straight. Brother Cupkie reminds me constantly, and I've been trying to put some effort in because I actually think it would be good. Challenge to sisters:))
We also rewatched the missionary broadcast this week. It was interesting to watch and take notes and then compare my notes from last time. I've summarized it into 5 things that I want to implement in my teaching. 
   1. Plan better
   2. Teach part member and less-active families using the actual lessons in Preach my Gospel,
   3, Teach more simply
   4. Listen and Observe more in teaching
   5. Testify of Christ in every lesson. 
I think that these are some pretty easy ways to improve my teaching, and I think it's just going back to the very fundamentals of Preach My Gospel. 

So some questions for you! I've been thinking this week about post-mission school and work options. I think it's probably a little early for me to think about it too much, but I don't want to miss deadlines and such. Originally I had planned to go straight back to school, but I was thinking that I didn't really ask you about that plan. Would that be a problem, would it be better for me to work for a while first? Because I have not very much money. I have also decided that I would love to be an RA again at least the first semester I'm back. Easy housing, good job. But again the school thing, because I'm sure you thought about this, but Ryan will be on a mission, Sara and I in school, and I would be totally willing to pay what I've got, but I would also like to do it myself. But that would mean work first. I don't know. Lots of thoughts. I also am not sure if BYU lets you defer longer than you said you would, so I'll have to look. Or you can. Just what are your opinions? And like I said, I'm not in a huge hurry, I just need to figure out some deadlines and stuff. 

Also, what happen to the Woodward and Seiler babies? Have they had them yet? I was just thinking about that and realized I can't remember how long it's been since I found out about that.

Have a great week! Send me pictures from Maui!
Love, Emily

New Address

Buenas dias familia,
17781 Ikaria Ct, Lakeville, MN 55044
This is where I live. I don't even know what to talk about this week, I feel like so much and yet nothing new has happened. I made it to Lakeville in a Toyota smashed with three sisters and ALL their luggage. Saying goodbye to my friends in Richfield was sad but ok, I was ready for change. There are only a few people that I really connected with and so I didn't say a lot of goodbyes, and honestly its easier to just leave. Hna W was sick Monday and Tuesday so we took it easy, I got all my stuff packed, and we visited a few people. The saddest for me were Hno Benjamin, Christina, and Victor. They are some of my favorite people in the world and I love them lots.

Transfers was a crazy experience for me, it was weird to say bye to Hna W. Its crazy when you spend literally every single moment with someone for 3 months and then say "say you later" and leave. It was a little sad too, but the sister that took my spot is awesome; she goes home at the end of this transfer and is a fantastic missionary.As a part of transfer meeting, we watched a worldwide missionary braodcast titled "Teach Repentance, Baptize converts." A huge focus in our mission and apparently all over the world is preaching repentance. The foundation of the Gospel is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We can only accept the Atonement if we have faith unto repentance, repent, receive remission of our sins through baptism, and then receive the Holy Ghost so we can continue to have the strength to resist the things we've repented of. The unique message we share is that through the restored church of Jesus Christ we have the tools to fully repent and remain clean so we can enter the kingdom of God. When others feel the change, joy, and purity that comes from repentance, the will feel the desire to pray and ask God for repentance, the drive to attend church where they can partake of the sacrament, the longing to be baptized and be truly cleansed, and the motivation to endure to the end by attending church and renewing their covenants. Repentance and the freedom that comes from it are what will drive them to continue to repent and do the things they're supposed to do. I really like this new focus, but repentance is something that can be really hard to teach. I'm excited to learn more and learn to use this principle better.

Hermana Rowland is my new companion! She is the oldest of five, all girls, and is from Hurricane, Utah. She was Miss Hurricane her junior? year of high school and is really into performance, acting, and musicals. We have enjoyed discussing some of our favorites:) We get along really well, even though our personalities are pretty different. We came out on the same day, so its interesting having the same amount of time on the mission as my companion. We live with in a members basement, and they're really nice to let us stay, but I already miss my own space. I don't like having to share a kitchen, because every time we use it i feel like we're intruding. And then there are like little things that you don't realize you miss until you have your own space and then don't, like not having to take your shoes off the second you come in the house, or cleaning because you want to, not because you have a chore list. I'll be happy to move into an apartment again, but I really am grateful for their willingness to help the missionaries. 

The work here is really different. We had a pretty big teaching pool in Richfield, but here we mostly work with less-actives. We have 1 investigator. It's different. I love the families that I've already met. They are really humble people. Almost all of them live in trailers but they are so good about feeding us and letting the missionaries come over. The area itself is different too. It is definitely not the city. Minneapolis and the surrounding areas are really easy to navigate because its all on a grid. I always new exactly where I was and what direction I was going, but here its all cul-de-sacs and roundabouts. Much more tranquilo. I actually miss the city.

This transfer I really want to focus on having patience with our people and improving my personal prayers. I think this area is the perfect opportunity to do that, because working with less-actives is so frustrating for me. To me it seems so cut and dry, come to church=blessings, but sometimes it feels like no matter what I say or what they feel or what they testify of, it doesn't help. A lot of them have legitimate circumstances where they have to work, or things happen but for so many its just way too easy to skip church. It will be good for me to chill out, invite people persistently, be loving, and find some investigators along the way. Any suggestions? I've already met a lot of really cool people. One lady was in the Mexican army for five years because she needed money to get custody of her daughter, one family has a son on a mission in Mexico, lots of neat stories and people. Oh yeah! BTW, I gave a talk in church yesterday. It was the first talk I've given on my mission. I've born my testimony before, but I actually gave a fifteen minute talk in Spanish on how my mission has blessed my life. I spoke with another sister who just returned from her mission to Ecuador. My Spanish has felt waaaay more confident in the last week since I've been here. Hna R struggles with Spanish a little, and this is the first time that my Spanish has been better than my companion's. She has a hard time speaking, but she always gets the point across. She does better than she think she does. I didn't really know I could talk until I had to. It's all a part of this crazy adventure. I hope that my Spanish gets as good as I want it to be.

I cant believe Erin goes home this week! It seriously is INSANE how fast it goes. We hit our seven months yesterday! February is 7 days away, and then I'm halfway at the end of March! Crazy.

Hope you're all doing well, still no emails this morning, but I loved Sara's smile without braces. Way too cute. How is play practice for Lauren? Is Morgan getting good at volleyball? Their team looks pretty athletic, and I'm really jealous of how cool their jerseys are. did you get a chance to send that levothyroxine? Because as of today I'm officially out. I seriously cant believe January is almost over.  
Les quiero mucho! Cuidense y que tengan una bonita semana!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Moving to Lakeville

This is the Michilots; they're the cutest.

Hi family,
This week was all pretty routine. We did a TON of finding. Our coolest story from this week is from finding. We knocked on the door of a lady that Hna R helped with a box or something a few weeks ago. She was really nice and invited us in right away. Her name is Marina from El Salvador. She told us that she had heard missionaries teaching her husbands family one time but that she didn't really remember anything that they said. She remembered that there was a new prophet, but not his name. So we taught her the Restoration. When we said the name Joseph Smith, she pointed at us and her eyes got really big, and she was really excited. She said "that's him! I remember hearing this, but not the ending!" We continued, and after the First Vision she said "en serio?!" Like... "Are you serious?!" But not a you're crazy are you serious, more of a how-have-I-never-heard this-before are you serious. So we asked her what she thought it meant. She said that first God and Christ are two people, and second that Joseph Smith didn't start his own church, he really did restore the church of Christ. We were shocked. Like...Yes. That's exactly what it means. Haha. Almost every time we teach the Restoration, the people just don't get it. They think "oh that's a nice story", or "eh that's cool I guess", but Marina got it. She understood, and it was the coolest thing to see her get excited about it. We have another appointment with her tonight. It's lessons like that that make being a missionary totally worth it. It's awesome. 

The rest of our week was pretty slow. We had a lesson with Vivian, our one other investigator, and she is prepping to be baptized the 20th. She has been investigating a while, she's 20, has been married for three years, and has two kids. She is really cute. Our lesson with her was really good, but then she didn't come to church on Sunday! We were sad. But shes really excited to get baptized, so hopefully she will put in the effort.
You would not believe some of the stories people have. We heard a few stories this week about when people would try and cross the border. It's incredible. Crazy things happen. There are people who smuggle others across the border called "coyotes." And they charge thousands of dollars and sometimes they are really bad people. Sometimes getting separated from your coyote is really bad. They talk about snakes, and bugs, and patrol, and running from dogs, hiding for hours in rivers, crazy stuff. I can't even imagine. These people work so incredibly hard.
Ay! Hna Warmbier was in the hospital this week! Remember how two weeks ago she was sick on Pday, well it hasn't really gone away, and it turns out they might need to remove her gallbladder! Scary. She was in the hospital for a bit, but then they couldn't find anything conclusive and so they didn't operate, but its pretty for sure that shell have to have surgery at some point. She'll be ok, but it made me sad. Also fun fact, Hna Scholl sprained her arm last week. People keep joking that Hna R is next. Its not my fault I promise! 
Hna Rowland and I get along well. I feel like the biggest problem we run into is that we're both so independent that we forget to coordinate our agendas sometimes, which can be frustrating, but that's an easy fix. It's definitely both our faults. We enjoy each other though. 

Missionary life is just a steady stream of awkward. Seriously, before my mission I considered myself as pretty coordinated, never awkward, take it as it comes type of person, and when embarrassing or awkward things would happen it was a rarity. But when you're with someone 24/7 and doing things like trying to get into apartment buildings or knocking on trailer doors, I swear my entire existence has become recovering from awkwardness. Like nothing is even awkward any more because its such a regular occurrence. For example, we were knocking in a trailer park, and we're trying to be relatively picky and trying to find Hispanics, which can be hard. We walk up to this trailer, and I partially open the screen door, see that they're white, and instead of playing it cool and knocking anyway, I just closed the door and walk away hoping that they didn't notice. which of course they did, and the guy came out and said ..uh..can I help you?.. and I just said, sorry we had the wrong house number... my bad... and he said ok and left. Awkward. My recoveries aren't even smooth any more. 

I have been thinking a lot this week about priesthood authority and following our priesthood leaders. There's a family in our branch that is pretty critical of our mission president, and most of the missionaries in the mission know them or have had contact with them. They talk a lot about how President Forbes doesn't know what he's doing, that he has terrible people skills, doesn't do anything for himself, doesn't care about the missionaries enough etc etc And so I was thinking about this. And basically I decided that 1st-I will never be found criticizing our priesthood leaders, because I really don't like it when others do, and 2nd-the only way I was going to be able to do that is if I knew for sure that President Forbes has been called and is inspired to lead this mission. So I had been praying about it for a couple of days, and during personal study, "coincidentally" all of the reading I did, just reading from where I left off in the Book of Mormon and the New Testament, was about authority and when Paul and Alma were establishing the church in their respective places. And then just flipping through my scriptures, I saw a quote I had written in the margin, which is actually something Josh said in one of his letters. He said "One of the greatest fronts of attack Satan has right now is sustaining, supporting, and following our priesthood leaders." Seriously coincidences don't exist. It was an answer to prayer. Cool right? Long story short, President Forbes is called to lead this mission, and even if it is different than the way that others do it.

I also wanted to ask about temple sealings. We were teaching a less-active member about the temples, and I realized that I don't know what it actually means to be "sealed." What does the sealing do for us?

It sounds like everyone is doing really well, especially Mom and Dad prepping to go to Maui. It supposed to drop back to single digits this week. I would LOVE a video of Morgan jump-serving. And by love, I mean I demand one:) I'm excited for Josh to go to a church school, that will be awesome for him. I appreciate your example to me of being generous and willing to give. I want to be like that too. Let me know how things go with Vicky Scott!

Love, Emily