Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Letter from President Durrant, received September 25, 2012:

EMAIL: Mon, September 24, 2012   10:28 AM
Subject:  Harper Family Baptisms

Hello Y'all!!!

This weekend was the Harper Family baptism, and it was fantastic!!  I can't really even describe for y'all the spirit that was there for the baptism and the confirmation. It was amazing!!!  We had a surprise visitor for the weekend come to Texas for the baptism.  Sister Elena Pierce, my old companion, was there for the baptism!!  One of the members flew her from UT to TX for the weekend so she could see the Harpers get baptized and confirmed.  I know this was really special for Elena and also for the Harpers.  It was pretty amazing because the Harpers were able to have all of their missionaries attend their baptism: Elena, Sister Jensen, Hermana Lopez, Sister Hansen, and me.  It was great to see Sister Elena Pierce again and for us to enjoy the fruits of the harvest together.  The attendance at the baptism was also amazing!  Our stake president, President Smith, came.  Over 20 adults and their families from the ward came.  The Harpers even had 7 of their nonmember relatives come.  Even President and Sister Durrant came to the baptism! I was so happy for all of the love and support to the Harper Family on their special day.

The Harpers were so excited to get baptized. I asked Quinlan on Friday night why he was excited and he said "Because I get to get wet!" but then he also told me he was excited to leave all of his sins in the water and be a new person.  Quinlan also told me after the baptism that he felt like a new baby and he felt perfect. I was so excited that Quinlan felt the difference of baptism.  On Sunday it was his birthday, so Quinlan had the great opportunity to receive the gift of the holy ghost on his birthday.  We kept telling him that the holy ghost would be the best birthday present he could ever get, and I think he felt that after the confirmation.  Rene and Tom were also excited as well. Tom is just happy to be making these sacred covenants as a family. He knows they are helping them especially through the trials they have had the past week.  Rene has really blossomed and you could see the light in her eyes after she was baptized.  We gave them a chance to all give their testimonies at the baptism.  Rene was so excited that she even forced Quinlan to get up and show everyone something he learned from the missionaries. He showed everyone the 10 commandments we taught him by using his fingers. That is pretty impressive for a now 9-yr-old to know all of the 10 commandments and everyone that attended the baptism loved it.  My favorite was Rene's  testimony. She knows that she needs to be the example for the rest of her relatives.  She testifies to everyone that she is happy and she knows the decisions are correct that they made.  Then she invited everyone to watch her family as they grow closer together, become even more happy, and grow closer to our Heavenly Father. The spirit was so strong as Rene committed in front of everyone that her family would be the example that could help bring others to Jesus Christ and the gospel. I love her so much for her courage and her strong testimony that she has gained.  The Harpers are a very special family.  They were prepared by the Lord to receive the missionaries when we first knocked on their door. They were given trials, but that has only strengthened their resolve to be strong members in the church. I know that the Lord has a special work prepared for them.  The Harpers want to serve and even offered to come to lessons with us to help support and teach others people about the church. What an amazing family!!! I love them and I know that the Lord loves them, just as he loves each and everyone of us, his children.

Everything else is going pretty well.  Sister Hansen and I are working like crazy.  We taught so many lessons last week and talked to so many people. The work is moving forward. I love y'all and thank you for your love and support.  I hope one day y'all can meet the Harpers (maybe we can get them to a conference in Utah when I return home).  I know their lives have been changed. I know everyone's life can be changed by living the doctrine of Christ. I challenge each of you to find a way you can come closer to Christ. Even though having challenges, trials, and sacrifices is difficult, it is completely worth it.  Y'all will be blessed for following the Savior.  I know that this is true! Love y'all and hope you have a great week!!

-Love Sister Peck

Thursday, September 20, 2012

EMAIL: Mon, September 17, 2012   10:32 AM
Subject:  New Companion

Hello Y'all!

This last week has been pretty good.  On Tuesday I got my new companion. Her name is Sister Hansen. She is from Denver, CO, although she has spent the last 3 years at BYU Hawaii.  Things are going pretty well with Sister Hansen and I. She is an awesome missionary, and I am very happy to be training her. She does very well in the lessons for a new missionary. Sister Hansen is also very enthusiastic about sharing the gospel.  She just wants to help people understand how this message has blessed her life. Sometimes I wish everyone in the church could feel the zeal of a new missionary and then act on it.  Sister Hansen bore her testimony in church yesterday and promised all of the ward members that she would work her hardest while in their ward to bring souls unto Christ.  Everyone was pretty impressed, including me.  She is going to be a great missionary.  I look forward to the next few weeks that we get to be together.
We are excited for the Harper's baptism that is coming up this Saturday.  They have had a pretty rough week though.  The lessons all went well in the beginning of the week. Tom, Rene, and Quinlan (the 8 yr old) all passed their baptismal interviews on Friday.  They all have a great testimony of the church for just barely learning our message. On Saturday morning we took them to a baptism, which they enjoyed. I think it calmed some of their fears and made them more excited to be baptized.  Then on Saturday night we got a call from Tom.  The family was at the hospital.  They have a daughter named Lindsay that is married and pregnant-about a month away from having her first child. Traumatically, Lindsay's baby passed away.  When Tom called us, the Harpers were all pretty torn up. I was also pretty torn up when I heard- I was expecting something to happen before their baptism because something always seems to, but not a trial to this degree.  It is such a horrible thing. The Harpers were so excited for their first grandchild, already having baby showers and everything, but now they have to deal with the tragic loss.  The Harpers still are planning to be baptized on Saturday though.  Even though it is a tragedy, this incident did give the members of the ward a chance to help. People have been calling the Harpers, one fellowshipping family even took Quinlan for the night and brought him to church on Sunday, the Bishop and Elder's Quorum President even went to the hospital to visit the family.  This is definitely strengthening their testimony especially of the Plan of Salvation, and maybe we will have the chance to teach Lindsay soon as well. I just keep praying for the Harpers, and I know the knowledge they have gained from the church is helping them at this time. I am glad they have the church to hold onto and the support from the ward.    Please pray for the Harper family, especially their daughter Lindsay!

Everything else is going pretty well. Sister Hansen is awesome at wanting to work every minute possible, so we have found quite a few new investigators with some good potential. The work is looking up in the Rowlett area. I miss the Spanish work, but I am very happy to be back focusing just on the English wards and their needs.

Thank y'all for your love and support.  I can't believe how long I have already been on a mission.  I look forward to every day because I love to share this gospel. I know that families can be together forever only through the example and Atonement of Jesus Christ. I love y'all!!  Have a great week! Hopefully I'll have some exciting stories to share next week about the Harper's baptism.

Love Always,

-Sister Peck

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

EMAIL: Mon, September 10, 2012   9:56 AM
Subject:  Transfers Again!

Hello Y'all!

So Saturday night was transfer calls. Hermana Lopez and I figured that we probably wouldn't stay together because President Durrant doesn't really like missionaries doing bilingual work. We anxiously waited for the call and it finally came about 4 minutes before we were supposed to be in bed. So the transfer news.... I am going to be staying in Rowlett and be the senior companion for the area.  My new companion is... well actually I don't know my new companion because she is probably on a plane right now just headed to Texas from the MTC.  Yep, I am going to be training a new sister missionary!  I think I am still in shock that I get the opportunity to train.  I am really excited because I know this will help me grow a lot as a missionary, and hopefully I can help her grow as a missionary too. At the same time, it is a little bit scary that I have to be in charge and responsible for the area and a brand new missionary. What I teach her now could effect her entire future as a missionary.  I am not a bad or disobedient missionary now, but I definitely need to elevate my standards and be the example. I hope that I can be the trainer that this new missionary needs. I hope that I can help her with her desire to share the gospel and fulfill her missionary purpose. It should be a great opportunity, and I am really looking forward to it!!

The rest of the week has been pretty normal around here. Nothing too exciting. Just a lot of lessons in Spanish and a few in English. The Harper Family is still doing amazing. Rene is starting to really grasp the gospel and consider the info that we share with her.  Tom is also doing very well. He has a lot of time while he is trucking during the week, so it is perfect for him to spend time reading/listening to the BOM.  He also has been listening to a lot of religious talk shows and things about Mitt Romney. Tom actually told us he is excited for Romney to run for President because then more people might come to the LDS church.  It was pretty awesome to hear that from someone who is not even a member of the church yet.  Tom is beginning to love the gospel and he is very glad his family has it.  Quilan is doing well. He saw Hna Lopez and I out tracting the other day, and he was so excited that he saw his missionaries. He is so sweet. Quinlan loves when we teach things specifically for him- we always try to do exciting visuals for him and he loves them. We actually have a lesson just for Quinlan tonight and he has been telling his parents all week that the missionaries are coming just to teach him a special lesson. I am so excited for this family. The Harpers will be interviewed for baptism this Friday night. I can't believe that their baptism is coming up so soon on Sept 22nd!!  My new missionary is so lucky to be coming into an area with a family baptism her 2nd week as a missionary! Oh how I love the Harpers!!!

Sorry this is probably a short email this week, but we have got things to do. I forgot to tell y'all earlier that Hna Lopez is going back to just Spanish work here in Rowlett. The cool thing is that she is also going to be training a new missionary!  It should be fun that we are both training and we may be able to work together sometimes while tracting, etc. to give the new Sisters more experience. I'm sure next week's email will have more info especially about my new missionary. I hope it doesn't sound like I am bragging that I get to train, because I don't feel that way at all. It is a special privilege that the Lord has entrusted me with.  All I need at this point is prayers and more support! Thanks!

I love y'all and thank you for your support. Thanks for the letters the past few weeks from the Pierces, Grandma and Grandpa, Nana and Papa, and Dad (like always!!). Thanks for the words of encouragement and advice. If y'all have any suggestions for training I would love to hear them (although I will definitely counseling a lot with the Lord too).

Love always,
Sister Peck!

Monday, September 3, 2012

EMAIL: Mon, September 3, 2012   1:10 PM
Subject:  The Harper Family

Hello Y'all!!

This last week was pretty crazy, but it was also really great. We had a Sister's Conference on Friday. It was great to be around and be trained with just the Sister missionaries.  I love each of them so much. They are all such an inspiration to me as a missionary. They all have amazing talents and abilities as missionaries, and I know that they truly bless the areas and investigators that they serve.

Another crazy thing happened this week. Everything was going just fine and dandy with Hnas Lopez, Spenner, and I in our tri-panionship, when we got a surprise call from the assistants. Hermana Spenner was emergency transferred! She had to pack her bags that night and be ready for her new area in the morning. She didn't even get to say goodbye to anyone! Another Spanish sister had to suddenly go home, and so they needed a companion for the Hermana left behind. Hermana Spenner was the lucky one. She was transferred to a great area with a great companion (Hermana Motuliki from Tonga!).  I am so glad for Hermana Spenner. It is sad that she was transferred (especially after we were companions after such a short time) but I know the transfer was helpful to her and is giving her more experience. She seemed so happy when I saw her at Sister's Conference.

I am glad for the opportunity right now to be with Hermana Lopez. Spanish work is much different than English work, but I love it.  It is difficult to try and split time between Spanish and English.  All is going great though! Hermana Lopez is amazing, and she is great at easily getting the members and everyone else to love her and trust her. She has some interesting cultural differences, but I think this is why people (especially Hispanics) feel so comfortable around her. We are having a great time together. Hermana Lopez is working on saying her prayers and testimony in English and I am working on doing the same in Spanish. I am so grateful for this new experience of doing Spanish work and I know it is helping me as a missionary!
One of the highlights of my week has been the Harper family. We met with Rene on Tuesday and taught about temples and information about families and parenting from the Family Proclamation. She loved it and loves that the church is so centered around families.  Rene is progressing so much more quickly towards baptism and her desire to learn about the gospel is increasing now that her family is involved. I can definitely see the importance of teaching families.  I know I have been saying this a lot lately, but the gospel truly does bless families and is a great place for families to learn and grow together. I can see this more than ever as I teach the Harper Family.

The son Quinlan is so smart for an 8-year-old and I love teaching him.  Hna Lopez and I taught the Word of Wisdom on Friday. We were discussing the 5 things that the WOW tells us to avoid. I asked Quinlan if he knew what tobacco was. He responded that "Tabasco" was like hot sauce, but he was confused why we couldn't eat that. It was pretty funny, but I think he now understands that he can eat hot sauce but he should avoid things like cigarettes.  Another amazing story with teaching the Harpers the WOW was with Rene. We gave her the pamphlet a week before we taught the lesson. All that week, Rene decided she also needed to give up caffeine and especially her Coke because that is something she knows is bad and addictive to her. I was so proud when she mentioned this as we were teaching the lesson. Rene felt so bad because she had given in one day and drank a Coke, but she told me she is going to try harder next week.  This family is so prepared!

I have always struggled with getting investigators to come to church, but the Harper family is entirely the opposite case. We met Tom and taught him his first lesson right before church one Sunday, he followed us to church, and he hasn't missed church since.  On Sunday, Rene had to leave just after Sacrament meeting because one of her close friends was having a bridal shower.  Even though Rene was leaving, Tom and Quinlan both stayed at church. Even Mormon families don't often do that!  We talked to Rene later in the evening and she was so upset that she had to miss Relief Society and Gospel Principles earlier. She was also very upset and disappointed that her friend would have scheduled an activity on Sunday that wasn't in-line with keeping the Sabbath Day holy and going to church. I was so happy that Rene saw the difference in how she felt because she missed church (even though she still went to sacrament meeting). Rene now has a great testimony of church!

I love this family so much!  I can't even describe in words how prepared they are!  I feel so privileged that the Lord would allow me to teach such elect people.  Hna Lopez and I challenged them to read the scriptures and pray together as a family every night. We knew this would be difficult especially because Tom is a trucker and is only home 3 night a week. We figured that Rene would just read with Quinlan on those nights. To our surprise, Rene has been calling Tom when it is time for scripture study and they have been doing it together as a family over the phone! Quinlan will read the verses and Rene and Tom will both help explain it to him. I also gave Quinlan an easy reader BOM a couple of days ago. He is so excited to get to know the stories in the BOM, but he also wants to keep reading in the other BOM. This family is amazing. They already seem like Mormons, and soon they will be after their baptism on September 22nd. Quinlan is excited because the next day is his birthday, so he is going to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost on his birthday.  I love this family!!  I hope that I will get the opportunity to keep teaching them (even though transfers are this next week) up until their baptism and also help out with the new member lessons after.

I am grateful to be a missionary. I am grateful to see lives changing.  I love sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ!  The Lord truly does love his missionaries. I know that I am not teaching the Harpers due to my own credit. It is all from the Lord that they were found and that I am led by the spirit to teach them. I love my Heavenly Father for this! And I love this gospel!
Thanks for everyone's love and support. I love y'all and pray all is well. Don't forget to read your scriptures everyday. It truly does make a difference! Please pray for the Harper family. Although everything is going well right now, I know that temptations and difficulties will arise. They always do! We need all the help we can get to get the Harpers baptized because they are going to be amazing members of the LDS church. I love them so much! And I love y'all too!

Love always,

-Sister Peck