Monday, May 28, 2012

Email from Sister Mc received on Monday, May 28, 2012

Hello Y'all-

   Things are going good.  The most difficult thing about the work right now is getting people to church. Somehow people just don't understand the importance of actually going to church. This goes for nonmembers and members alike (it is the reason why there are so many less-active people).  But, Sister Squarcia and I are doing all that we possibly can to get people to church and we know that our efforts will eventually be rewarded. One of our investigators, "T", has the hardest time coming to church and that is what is keeping him from being baptized. He is a very large Samoan, probably over 400 pounds, not to mention he has arthritis, a heel spur, and a fracture that healed wrong in his foot. So basically he cannot walk. In fact, he crawls around his own home.  I guess this is the reason that he doesn't come to church. Hopefully one day the spirit will soften his heart and he will come to church.
   Everything else is going pretty well. We had an interesting experience this week. There was a water line that broke in the Hale's home on Saturday. Because of the holiday weekend, they weren't going to be able to get it fixed until Tuesday. Luckily the water was working again by the night time, but we still had to go an entire day without water.  It made Sister Squarcia and I realize how much we depend on water because we were missing it a lot when we needed to go to the bathroom, brush our teeth, fill up our waterbottles, etc. We were about halfway through the day when I opened Elder BakBak's letter and read it. Come to find out, he is going to an island where the water is so limited that he is going to have to take "bucket showers" among other things. This made us immediately stop feeling so sorry for ourselves. It wasn't that hard of a day, but we were extremely happy when the water was working again so we could take a shower before church the next morning after a long, hot day of tracting. That was our interesting, humbling, reality experience of the week.
  The work keeps slowly moving along and hopefully soon we will actually have some progressing investigators. I know that this gospel can bless lives, it is just hard to make other people recognize those blessings. One day everyone will know that we are sharing the message of the true church and they will want to join immediately.  Hopefully everyone that is already a part of the church will not forsake any of those blessings by forgetting that this is the true church and not keeping the commandments. Do all that y'all can to stay on the path back to Heavenly Father.

  Missionary Work is great!! Thank you all for the letters these past few weeks. I really enjoy them all and love to receive mail.

Hope y'all have a great Memorial Day!!

-Love Sister Peck

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hey y'all!

Yesterday we had a special multi-stake conference. Elder Conniker of the First Quorum of the Seventy was presiding. This special conference was for the spliting of our stake, the Richardson Stake. They have organized a new stake that took about 40% of our stake as well as a few wards from 2 other stakes.  This was a pretty momentous occasion because they have been planning to split the stake for the last 4 years.  It is interesting because this split will potentially affect the missionaries too. Right now I am in a District that is my ward (Dallas 4th), the zone leaders ward, the district leaders ward, and the other sisters 2 wards. Now with the splitting of the stake, the sisters are in the new stake. Although the assistants won't tell us exactly what is going to happen, it is very likely that our District will be reorganized soon according to the new stake boundaries. The other sisters will probably not be in our District much longer.  Even with all the ripple effect of changes that will be made, the split for the new stake is very good because it makes it more convenient for members to go to their local church buildings.

This last week Sister Squarcia and I were super busy with appointments. It was kinda crazy! But we love the work, and being so busy is so great.  In fact we have 1 lesson (all with nonmembers) scheduled for every hour of the day tomorrow, which has not happened to me since I have been in this area. The work in our area is really starting to pick up, which is very exciting.  I am starting to see the results of all of the hard work that we have been putting into our work. The Lord is really blessing us and allowing us to see great miracles.  Still, there are always things that missionaries can improve on, so Sister Squarcia and I are trying our hardest to become even more obedient. I know that if we do this we will be blessed to see even more and greater miracles in our area. I love the area that I am in and I love the ward support here. There are so many people that are prepared and it is always the best joy to find these people. 

At the beginning of this year President Durrant extended a challenge to all the missionaries is the TDM to read the entire Book of Mormon and highlight all of the references to the Godhead and "heart".   This morning I finished the Book of Mormon highlighting each of those references. It has been a great experience and helped me gain a lot of motivation to read and study the BOM.  It is very interesting to me to see all the negative or not-so-spiritual references to these words. The number of times that it mentions "hardening their hearts" is incredible but also very sad to see.  The saddest is when the people have a knowledge of the love that God has for them, yet Satan slowly gets a hold of their hearts and they are led away until their hearts are so hard that the gentle Holy ghost cannot penetrate them.  This can relate and be a warning to so many of us. I especially see it with the many people we come in contact with as missionaries. Some of them really have hardened hearts. Some people are willing to listen to us for a while, but then something else distracts them from the true message of the gospel. It is sad that people lose the blessings of the gospel when their hearts become hardened. I hope that I can continually have a soft heart and one that is willing to listen to the promptings of the spirit so I can stay close to the gospel and the path to return to live with my Heavenly Father.

I also was amazed by the number of references to the Godhead throughout the BOM.  Often people will say that every page of the BOM testifies of Christ. I now know for myself that even though every single page does not say "Christ", everything in the BOM does testify back to the Godhead and the principles by which we can each return to live with our Heavenly Father. This Book of Mormon is truly divine. Not only does it speak of our God constantly, the Book of Mormon is also from God. It really is divine revelation written for us. It really is another testament of Jesus Christ. I know that the Book of Mormon is true! There is no other explanation for such a text that constantly testifies of principles of eternal importance. I know that the Book of Mormon is what will keep anyone from hardening their hearts and being lead away by Satan. Instead, the BOM will truly lead us unto Christ and life eternal.

If anyone is struggling to read from the Book of Mormon every day or doesn't have a strong testimony of the BOM, I would suggest a similar challenge. Get a cheap blue BOM. Decide on something you need to work on or learn more about- faith, the atonement, the Godhead, etc. Read the entire BOM marking those references. First, you will have a greater desire and motivation to read the BOM everyday because you will have a purpose. Second, you will come to have a greater faith and understanding of the topic you chose to highlight. I am sure there are many other blessings and rewards from doing something similar to this. I recently heard a talk by from Elder Bednar, and he does this very thing. He said that he now has a bookshelf full of cheap, blue BOMs that each are highlighted about a different topic.  I know that it will bless your life, because the highlighting President Durrant asked us to do has changed mine and made me a better missionary. I am also so much closer to my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ especially because I am constantly reading about them. The Book of Mormon is from God. It will change your life as you make a consistent effort to read a little bit everyday. I know it and I hope that everyone  who reads my letters (especially those who feel their testimony is lacking or nonexistent) will start now to increase their testimony of the Book of Mormon or whatever principle one may choose to highlight if they accept my challenge. I can promise you great happiness and joy among so many other things. The gospel is so true!!

I love y'all.  Things are great and I truly fill blessed to be a missionary.

Love- Sister Peck

P.S. - Last night we had a little get together for a missionary that is headed today to his mission in Oklahoma. His name is Roberto Orellano - he is the middle elder in the picture. This picture is of all of the missionaries that were here at the Hale's home last night to support him. He bore his testimony before everyone left and he is going to be a great missionary.  Everyone is Spanish-speaking except for me and Sister Squarcia.

Me, Sister Squarcia, Sister Kimball, Sister Wall
Elder Taylor, Elder Ritter, Elder Orellano, Elder Rodriguez, Elder Beatty

Email received from Sister Mc on May 13, 2012:

Howdy Y'all!
This last tuesday was transfers, and I have a new companion. Her name is Sister Squarcia (s-kwa-r-CHA or something like that and kinda trill the R) from a little city near Rome, Italy. She is a few years older than me and has been out in the mission for right about a year. I love her so much! She has an awesome accent and everybody always likes to talk to her (except when we are tracting...)  She is very soft-spoken, humble, but very hard-working. Whenever we are going places her motto is "don't walk... run!" and she really takes it seriously to talk to everyone.  Being with her just this last week has really raised the potential for D4 (my area). I am super excited for this next transfer, and hopefully Sister Sqarcia and I are together for much longer than that.
Saturday we had some very interesting experiences tracting in one area. We went to contact one of our investigators but he was not home, so we decided to knock the doors around his home. We contacted a few people and just kept knocking on doors. We turned away from one home and there was a lady behind us. She asked us what we were selling. I replied that we weren't selling anything but that we were sharing a message about Jesus Christ. She then started very angrily yelling at us that they didn't want our message in their neighborhood. She said we had been brainwashed since we were young to believe in the crazy Joseph Smith. She said that we had no idea who Jesus is and that she knew him intimately from when she grew up in communist Russia. She just kept yelling at us and we apologized and just walked away.  A few doors later and another man came up behind us (possibly related to the lady) and he started yelling at us to get out of their neighborhood. He said none of his neighbors needed to hear our lies and he started accusing us of being part of Warren Jeffs (the fundamentalist LDS polygamist) and his cult. This guy was so, so upset and there were some very colorful words thrown at us. We tried to apologize and just keep tracting, but he basically chased us off of the street and had his phone out to call the cops. We hurried off the street as he chased us, but our car was parked back at the first of the street, so we had to sneak back around the other way and hurry to our car and leave. It was pretty crazy. I felt kinda bad because those 2 were so rude to us, but Sister Squarcia doesn't entirely understand how upset they were since she mostly just knows gospel terminology in English, not the swear words that we got.
We had another interesting tracting experience. Almost everyone in Texas has dogs and they all bark at us when we knock on the doors. We were just walking up to a home and they just has the glass door shut so we could see into the home. All of the sudden a HUGE scary looking dog started running at the door, barking at us. We just kept walking up to the door to knock on it. The dog ran up to the door and pushed it with his paw. The door opened! Luckily, the dog didn't come out of the house for whatever reason because I am pretty sure that he could have eaten us in just a few bites. Me and Sister Squarcia and were so scared that we just turned and walked hurriedly away from the house, hoping the dog didn't follow us. When we were a safe distance from the house, Sister Squarcia offered a prayer thanking the Lord that the dog hadn't eaten or chased after us. I was sure thankful too after having seen my life flash before my eyes. It was pretty crazy!
Our area is doing well right now and we are excited for the next week. We have a bunch of potenial appointments set up and Sister Squarcia has so many new ideas for our investigators. The work is increasing so much and it makes me so excited! I love being a missionary! Despite all the crazy and sometimes somewhat scary things (dogs are awful!) that happen to us, I know that we are protected by the Lord. He loves His missionaries and we love Him! The work is great and there are people prepared to hear our message. I love sharing the gospel.
Yesterday was Mother's Day and I was able to Skype with my parents and Libbie and Colton. I also got to talk to Connor a little bit because we called at the same time. I love my family so much! Even though I am not with them, missionary work is worth the sacrifice. I am happy to be without my family for a short time so that I can unite other people and their families for eternity. The gospel is such a blessing to families.
I love all of you that read my letters, and I also love all of you that don't. Thanks for all of the support and love you show me. Thank you for the letters and the packages! Hope y'all have a great and blessed week. 

Love -Sister Peck

P.S. - the picture below is (from left to right) my new companion, Sister Squarcia, me, my old companion Sister Walker, Sister Squarcia's old companions Sister Pierce and Sister Jensen. We were all in the same District this last transfer. Sister Sqaurcia's companions stayed together and are still in our District and Sister Walker is in a completely different area.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pictures of Sister Mc from the TDM Transfer Day Facebook Page May 8, 2012

Monday, May 7, 2012

Email from Sister Mc received May 7, 2012
Subject:  End of Transfer 2

Hello Y'all-

This week has been pretty good. The most exciting thing was transfer calls on Saturday night.  My current companion, Sister Walker, is going to be leaving to go open up a new sister area in Melissa, TX. I am getting a new companion. Her name is Sister Squarcia and she is from Rome, Italy. Sister Squarcia is going to be the Senior Comp but I am still the designated driver (I drive a 2010 Toyota Corolla- the exact same as my car at home except that it is bright RED). Sister Squarcia has the cutest accent and will be awesome. I am super excited that I am not leaving this transfer because I really enjoy living with the Hales. They are the best members that I could ever live with - I feel so blessed. I am also excited for a new companion that I can learn to be a better missionary from and also refocus myself on the work. It is always great to reevaluate what has been going on and how I can do better as a missionary.

This last weekend Sister Walker and I planted an entire flowerbed for one of the members. I think Grandma would be so proud of me!  It ended up looking really pretty and well done, but even better... we were planting during the "block party" so we got to meet a bunch of the neighbors. It was great and we even found an amazing person to teach, but sadly, he lives outside of our area.

Everything else is going pretty well. The day is already super busy today with Sister Walker trying to pack.  I am trying to clean for the new comp, and all of the usual Preparation Day things. We also have the new missionaries coming in today, so the new Spanish sister will be spending the night here at the Hale's tonight (so I have to be on extra good behavior... just kidding, but everything needs to be done and cleaned early for her since we won't have time tonight).

I got a bunch of letters this week. Thank you to everyone!!!! I got letters in the last 2 weeks from Colton, Libbie, Grandma and Grandpa Riches, Nana and Papa Peck, packages from Mom, and a package of letters from the Primary Kids back in Francis 2!!!!  I loved reading the letters from the Primary and they drew me all sorts of awesome pictures. Loved them!!!

I love you all. Hopefully I will have more exciting stories next week when I get my new companion tomorrow. I am sure it will be great!! Happy Mother's Day in the coming week to all the mothers out there!

Love, Sister Peck

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Email from Sister Mc received April 30, 2012:

Hey Y'all!
    This week has been a very slow week with little progress. We actually taught quite a few lessons but they were mostly with people that were not interested. Or these people wouldn't let us pray with them, or they wouldn't let us set up a return appointment, so they don't count as investigators, and therefore all the lessons that we taught don't actually count as lessons at all.  They count as nothing as far as our numbers/goals are concerned (which were pitiful this week). Oh well. We just have to keep planting those seeds.  Soon, all of the work we are doing will be visible. Our ward mission leader keeps saying that the flood gates are going to open shortly. I just keep praying for the same. Last summer this area was the highest baptizing area in the whole mission. It has now been through a drought season. We are working so hard that the work will explode again in the next few weeks, I just know it!
   The most exciting thing this week was Sister Hale's birthday (she is the member that we live with). We wanted to do something to celebrate so we decided to make a cake and (with the help of Brother Hale) we invited over a bunch of missionaries and her friends for a little party that night.  Sister Walker just kinda took over making the cake, and she made a pretty good chocolate cherry cake. I just worked on cleaning up the mess after.  Everything went well- Sister Hale was surprised that night and she loved it all. She loves being around the missionaries, so that was the best part for her to spend some time with some of us.

   I was reminded through a weekly letter that I really haven't told anyone about my companion or my area. So here goes... My companion is Sister Walker. She is a couple of years older than me. She has dark brown hair and glasses.  Sister Walker is from Elmira, New York. Elmira is about one and a half hours SE of Palymra (for those of you that went with us on the Church History tour back in 2006, that is the little town where we stopped at the study of Mark Twain in Elmira College with all the purple and gold flags everywhere).  Sister Walker was going to veterinary tech school before the mission. This can be an unpleasant/interesting for me because she has no fear of animals and so she always is walking up to them, petting them, letting them on her lap... Of course, I have to follow her everywhere and so the animals usually end up scratching at me to pet them too or at least leaving a grossly incredible amount of animal hair all over me. Yuck! Oh well. 
   My area is great and so is the ward. There are trees everywhere, which is never what I expected Texas to look like. There are actually a few small "hills" too, although only the native Texans call them that.  The coolest thing in Texas is the lightning storms. I've only seen a few so far, but they are incredible! Because there are no mountains or things to block the sky, the lightning lights up the entire sky so, so brightly.  They also have a lot of dry thunderstorms, so there will be a lot of lightening without the rain. It is pretty cool!

   Tell dad that I love the articles that he is sending. I haven't had the opportunity to use any of them yet because, surprisingly, I haven't had to speak in church yet. My companion has only spoken in church about 2 times on her mission, which is almost over... so I may not ever speak in church... guess we'll see.

   Best meal that I had this week- french toast waffles.... Directions:  just buy the frozen waffles. dip them in french toast batter (waffles can be defrosted first if you like, you decide). cook on the stove or griddle like french toast. eat with all your favorite breakfast toppings (peanut butter, syrup, strawberries...)  Yum!!!  

  Hopefully everything else is going well for everyone else. I got a letter from Grandma Riches this morning- thanks so much!! The work is going to explode soon in this area, so y'all should look forward to some exciting letters from your favorite, curly red-headed sister missionary soon. I love y'all!!!

Love Sister Peck!!!