Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Christmas!

From last Christmas -2 month Greenie
Dearest Family and Friends!
    Merry Christmas!!! It is still sooooo strange to think that it is Christmas again already! My second one on the mission in fact! I love Christmas. I love love love it! Especially as a missionary. Sharing the Gift of my Savior with everyone I come in contact with has been a huge blessing in my life. I've found a lot more significance in Christmas as a missionary and have strengthened my relationship with my Savior through serving Him. So many people talk about gifts they want to give to the Savior. And I can't think of a single one. Because I can't repay Him. I can't give Him enough to thank Him for his atoning sacrifice and love in my life. But I try. I want to try and keep trying so hard. 
    This week was well... Nuts as always. It was transfers and we were the only companionship in the whole district that wasn't getting changed up! So we had a white elephant Christmas party together before we all split ways.
       This week was a lot of fun and we kept super busy! Except for the fact that like a billion people canceled on us this week...but I guess that's to be expected around the holidays...
    It finally snowed here today...but it's a really wet slushy snow because it rained aaaallllllll day yesterday....
     So we are teaching this one guy who is a recent convert. He's really quiet but when he does speak he is hilarious and talks like a gangster. I've started calling him Uncle J and we teach him about two times a week. He always brings one of his little nephews with him tells us funny things his nieces and nephews do. He is slowly growing his testimony stronger...but doesn't quite get the whole keep the Sabbath day holy thing down yet... he was telling us yesterday about how he had scored a 50 cent chimmychanga at the mall that day...oh brother....haha.
    We didn't meet with J this week sadly....he was super busy and didn't make it to church again either because of work...but we have a time Tuesday set up to see him and we are very gung-ho about getting him fired up again! We made him some goodies Saturday and dropped them off at his house. The best way to a man's testimony is through his stomach I always say!!! 
What gifts will she receive this year?
    So you know D, the guy I've told you about from Kazakhstan? Well he is on FIRE! Dang, that kid is AMAZING! We taught him the plan of salvation earlier this week and he just ate it up! He has so many awesome questions and he wanted to meet with us ASAP again because he loved the lesson so much! So we met with him again on Saturday, and guess what...the craziest thing happened! But it was so cool! We were going to teach him the principals of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but never got to it, because the moment we finished the opening prayer he started telling us about how he was reading in Jacob in the Book of Mormon, while waiting for his friend while they were out shopping and he read Jacob chapters 5 and 6 and felt the spirit really really strongly, so he asked if we could study the chapters together and discuss them and the symbolism together....um....need I remind you that Jacob chapter 5 is the allegory of the Olive tree....Say what?!?!? haha! It was a super neat lesson talking about the symbolism in it and the prophecies of our day and stuff. Our Ward mission leader was there and he actually served in this mission (Josh Hatch) and we were all so stoked because President McCune talks about the allegory of the olive tree all the time! It was super neat and D was taking it all in and asking amazing questions. That kid cracks me up... He is such a good kid and so prepared to let the gospel back into his life again! 
    Weekly planning and comp inventory were interesting this week. I think I inspire pillow fights with my companions as ways of showing love towards them...haha! Sis Gulbranson is the greatest and I can't wait for you to meet her on Christmas! 
    Saturday we started YSA sports with the missionaries and played volleyball. I haven't played in a long time! I miss it! Aubrey and Natalie and Garrett and Dyelan and I used to go play it every Thursday. It was fun to play again...although I may have severely bruised my arms in the process...
     Friday we did some service with our district by helping a couple move out of their house. It was all sorts of hectic watching the elders load up and squeeze furniture out of small doorways. We helped move stuff, but also did a lot of cleaning. It's funny to see how some people's inner OCD comes out when doing activities like that! Haha! It was good though and it was a good way to get to know our zone better.
     So this month we are focusing on Christlike attributes as a mission and this week I was working really hard on Faith in Jesus Christ and Diligence.... man diligence is hard. It means focus in all aspects of the work. It means obedience and controlling your thoughts, and actions, and working when you don't want to work, pushing through when you don't want to push through, waking up when you don't want to wake up, teaching when you don't want to teaching, and going when you think you can't go no more. And it requires a lot of faith. I'm learning that faith is at the root of every Christlike attribute....I've been working on having more faith in the work right now...for some reason this week was just a little harder in that aspect.... But When I focused on it really hard, I saw improvement. Faith isn't something that you can just say "Poof! I have faith!" It takes constant growth and nourishment to strengthen and help it along...Yesterday we went to contact a potential investigator who had been in our area book. We had tried to catch him several times, without any luck, and last night I was being a little negative in my noggin and thinking "Why are we trying him again? He won't be home." and then the spirit said, "Hey wait a minute...have a little faith." So I repented and said a quick prayer for strength and increased faith....and guess what.... he answered the door! Not only did he answer the door but before we could get a word out he said he'd been meaning to find us and wanted to set up a time to meet, and gave us his phone number....We were in shock. For reals. Miracle? YES! Coincidence?? I think...NOT!!! The Lord's hand is in the Work my friends. I believe it with every ounce of my being. If he wills it, there aint nothing that can stop it! 
     I love this Christmas season so much. I think it has gotten us in more doors than usual. (maybe the constant rain and snow lately have helped!) I've been thinking so much about the events surrounding the nativity this year. Some of these ideas aren't my own, but I still wanted to share them with you. I was thinking about how the angels who heralded Christ's birth to the Shepherds bust have been so celebratory and so excited as they waited with anticipation in the wings to come forth and Sing Hosanna and proclaim the Good news of Jesus Christ. And then I realize...that was us. We were most likely there, among their number, so happy to behold and to proclaim and celebrate the birth and life of our long awaited Savior who volunteered himself as our sacrificial lamb to atone for us. And I think...He will come again. Will I be there a second time to sing His praises when He comes in His glory? And then I think...I'm doing that now. That is my role as a missionary. To proclaim the divinity and reality of my Savior Jesus Christ to all who will listen to my voice. How great and how sacred I hold my calling of being a missionary. It has blessed me so much, and I could never regret the decisions to be where I am at this time. 
     Another thought that came yesterday was inspired, not by thinking of Christ's birth, but imagining Him close to the end of his life...right on the brink of being nailed to the Cross...when He stood before Pilot and said "To this end was I born" He was born in humble circumstances, loved and held tenderly by a mother and raised like all other boys, and he did so, he was born and lived for the sole purpose of atoning and dying for all of us. I wonder at what point in his growing up did he realize His divine calling. Before he was 12 years old and taught in the temple. I'm sure Mary told him of it every day and raised him and prepared him for his purpose, along with Joseph. I think that's why the title of the Song "Mary did you know?" bugs me....because she knew. And because she knew, she and Joseph brought Christ up to know his purpose. It makes me ask "To what end was I born?" and how am I living up to it?
    Merry Christmas! I love you all and hope you all feel your Savior's love as we celebrate his life at this time of year. Think...if Christ only remembered us one day a year...we would be in a world of trouble...so remember Him always :) I love you and miss you! I can't believe this will be the last time I facetime you before I see you in person.
     Love you to the moon and back!
Sister Lenise Diane Volmer

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Spread Christmas Cheer

Lenise's sister Sharee knows what she likes to do
Sing Loud for all to hear, spreading cheer.
Dearest Family and Friends,
     HAPPY CHRISTMAS! It's getting closer and the spirit is definitely in the air! We've been treated super generously as missionaries and it's been a really good week!:)
     So for starters, I am NOT getting transferred. WAHOOO!!!!!! YAY! Christmas with Sis Gulbranson!!!! So my address isn't changing and life is dandy and grand and marvelous!!!! Although I'm a little sad I don't get to go to the transfer meeting because a bunch of people I know and served with are going home! Like Sister Megan Nielson, Sis Albrechtsen, Sis Nomo, Elder Guthrie, and a bunch of others, so it will be sad that I don't get to say goodbye! I'm going to say goodbye to Sis Nielson today though. 
     Last Monday was a fun day! We had dinner with this awesome family with 10 kids. All of them played stringed instruments, so before we left they serenaded us with some Christmas music! It was so epic! Sis G and I discovered both of our loves for instrumental music and I have converted her to the ways of Pride and Prejudice piano music :) We also tried to go to an FHE Monday night so that we could meet an investigator, but we ended up not being able to talk to him while we were there because the activity was learning how to waltz and cha-cha....yup awkward...we are SO not allowed to do that as missionaries! Although if we were he wouldn't have been able to get away from us and we could have totally cornered him! haha! But yeah, that was interesting. 
     Tuesday was another busy day!  We had a lot of people to teach and we got to go see C at her job in the car wash because we needed to get our car cleaned for car inspections (we won first class car award btw...) That was fun! We taught J again and we think he's slipping...which is really sad. He hasn't made it to church the last two weeks and we think he's closing off. We will have to try and see what we can do to help him.
Standing in a downpour.
     Wednesday was a crazy day! We had an all-day Zone Conference from 8am to 4pm with Elder Clark of the 70. It was like spiritual information overload....no joke. He had a lot to say about retention and conversion and how to keep our converts active. It was really cool because they had one of my Zone Leaders Elder D Taylor come up and share his conversion story and while he told it Elder Clark would interrupt and give us new insight on what our role as missionaries is in conversion. It was cool to get an inside scoop from a convert turned missionary. But what was kind of weird....was that only about half of the zone conference was focused on that....I bet you can't guess what practically the whole other half of the day was spent on. Go ahead. Guess. I dare you.......Yes Sir.....dating, Eternal Marriage, and raising families....I'm not even lying. I was stunned that we talked about it so much. Elder Clark even showed a slide show about it. Pres. McCune, got up and talked about his wife and what an example she was and how we need to be our best selves if we ever want to find someone as good as Sis McCune, (she really is amazing and a sweetheart!) They talked a lot about how setting patterns as missionaries, really sets patterns for the rest of our life! 
      Thursday and Friday were busy teaching days. So was Saturday. So funny story about Saturday! We are teaching this less active named B who is a super sweet guy and so nice, and we are helping him get over an addiction, and we were having this really powerful lesson at the church, when right in the middle of it our fellow shipper (Maddy McMullin. She is super cute and so nice!) screams! We all jump and she points over at the curtains in the primary room and there is a silhouette of a mouse climbing the inside of the drapes. Brigham knocked it out of the curtain but it ran away and hid....the whole rest of the time we had our feet up. And right in the middle of baring my testimony at the end I stopped mid-sentence and squeaked because I saw the mouse run behind Maddy! hahaha! When we left, we put a sticky note on the door saying that there was a mouse in the room and that somebody should probably try to catch it....But even funnier was the next day at church we met up with one of our Relief Society Presidents to coordinate visits with her and she wanted to visit in the SAME ROOM! She saw the sticky note on the door and just brushed it off and said "I'm guessing that's part of a game they are playing later with the kids..." And just walked into the room!!! Sis G and I were trying so hard not to laugh and were watching constantly for the mouse to pop out but it never did. We think it got away somehow... 
     Saturday night we went Caroling as a district which was super fun! We all thought up some names to go and see, and we had a blast contacting people and setting up appointments after singing for people. It was awkward though when we went with the Spanish Sisters to their places because we didn't know a lick of Spanish...but it was still super fun! At the end of the evening we went and caroled at the mission home for President and Sister McCune. They were super happy to see us all and welcomed us in and gave us cider and cupcakes. I had no idea President McCune could play the piano, but Sis McCune offered for him to play us some songs that we could sing along to and it was really cool to watch him play! They are seriously the BEST! I love and respect them so much! It was funny because when we showed up, President was working on transfers and trying to decide what to do. It was good to give him a little break.
Lenise opened a present early - naughty girl!
     Sunday was super awesome because we got to go to two Christmas programs! They were amazing and the majority of it was music and singing which I love!!! It was sooooo spiritual...Sometimes I wish that was all they did every Sunday! There were some beautiful variations of Christmas hymns and this guy and girl did a piano cello duet to Oh Come Oh Come Emanuel, and it was absolutely gorgeous! Later that night we went to a dinner with a bunch of YSA from one of our ward and we got to play Uno for a little while with them. And guess what? I won twice in a row! Yup twice against 14 other YSA. I am the master. Enough said. 
     Last night we taught a lesson to two of our investigators B and K. They are living together and not married and K is somewhat interested and B pretty much ignores us the whole time.  We had this great lesson about the Savior, and watched an amazing Bible video called For God So Loved The World...and they weren't even paying attention. It is so sad to me sometimes to watch people totally ignore the innumerable blessings that are right in front of their noses.
     This week I have been so grateful to be a representative of Jesus Christ and sharing his word. Each night when I take off my scuffed constant name tag, I get to look at my name right next to my Saviors and report to Him on how well I am upholding His name. Another thing Elder Clark taught was that I don't need to know everything. Intelligence is nothing. It's diligence that really matters. If we work hard enough we can accomplish anything.
     So let me know around what time you want to FaceTime! I'm thinking in the morning, like we did last year! That's around when Sis G wants to do it too, so let me know! Oh and I also got your package in the mail!!! THANKS!!!!
    I love you all and hope all is going well! Miss you and pray for you always! Send me some fun Christmas pictures!
Love,    Sister Lenise Diane Volmer 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

60 degree Christmas season

Dearest Darlingest Family of mine.
Provo temple
Enjoying the gorgeous day.
    So, sorry I didn't email when I usually do today. We only get the chance to go to the temple every three months and December is one of those months and today was that day!!! So yes, today I was able to go to the Provo temple and it was marvelous! I absolutely adore the temple and I miss it so much when I can't go as often as I would like to! It always brings a lot of peace and a lot of perspective to me, and I was glad to have the chance to go this morning. Believe me, nothing feels better than holding your recommend and know you are worthy and stepping through the doors and you suddenly get this wonderfully beautiful whoosh of air and suddenly you feel like a backpack full of bricks has been ripped off your shoulders. I love it. I can't say it enough. The temple truly is Heaven on Earth...I'm still waiting to find out if I will have the chance to be a hostess and tour guide for the Pasen Temple open house. Someday I will be able to go to the temple as often as I want. And maybe I'll even get to work there! SO COOL!
      So yes. Merry Christmas! I can't say it feels much like Christmas here in Utah though...because it has been in the 50s and 60s all week long...which is kind of dumb. Everyone keeps saying we probably won't get snow before Christmas. I hope they are all WRONG! It needs to snow. I love the snow. If you know me, you know that I love snow! Everyone in Utah is holiday happy...goodness gracious they go all out with their Christmas light here and the city even decorates the Main Street in Springville with lights. It's kind of strange to see all the lights because it is nice outside every day, but it is super cool to drive around at night because almost everybody's house is glowing!
      Well, last night, sadly I didn't get to watch the Christmas devotional. :( I was really bummed about that. We were going to watch it with Jordan but he never got back to us about it so we decided to go to the stake center to watch it...and nobody was there. We drove around for a half hour trying to find a church that was broadcasting it and couldn't find a single one. So we finally just went to our house and tried to pull it up on our iPads...but because it was streamed through youtube our ipads restricted us from being able to watch it and we had nowhere to go...I'm pretty sure this was the first time I ever missed the Christmas devotional. Sis Gulbranson and I were both really sad about it because it was her first time missing it too. 
     Where do I even begin with this week? We did a lot of teaching this week! We didn't do a whole lot of investigator teaching, although there were those too, but we work with a ton of less actives! This whole stake was created because two years ago they reactivated 1000 less active YSA. Crazy right? 
Thanks Aunt Siska for my 'Sister' sock
      So Monday we went shopping up Main Street in Springville and went to a bunch of cool shops. We went to a music shop and Sis G bought a harmonica because she said she had always wanted to learn how to play, so she bought a starter kit. It's been hilarious all week long to hear her blow away at her little beginner harmonica at night before we go to bed. She is learning how to read music and it is funny to watch her scribble away in her little note pad as she figures out notes and puts them in order as she learns the hymns. She knows how to play Amazing Grace, Away in a Manger, and I am a Child of God already! I might send you a video if she doesn't catch me doing it... haha! 
       We taught J again, and this time we talked with him about baptism and confirmation. He is still waiting for an answer and we think his family is holding him back a little bit. He also struggles with thinking he isn't worthy to partake of the sacrament. He is such a good guy, and I probably pray for him the most because the spirit is always SO strong in our lessons with him and I want him to want it SO BAD! AH! Sometime Sis G and I just sit and vent about how much we want him to get baptized and how much we know the gospel would bless his life. He is such a good kid and has so much insight!  He is one of those people I want to shake and just tell him to trust God! He has questions and I get that, but sometimes we just need to go on Faith. We don't get all the answers in this life. And we can't let the little minor details that don't make sense get in the way of the huge blessings that come from accepting the major doctrine and truth that we know. Man. Sorry. Venting over. I just want him to be happy so bad. He is my brother. I want him there when we have our big celestial reunion someday with our Heavenly Father. 
      This week I have had the opportunity to teach and testify about the Book of Mormon every day multiple times a day. A bunch of the people we are teaching are just at that point in the lesson process....and can I tell you that this week I realized (well I knew it before, I've known it forever and I've loved the book forever, but this week it hit me so hard!) how much I absolutely love the Book of Mormon. I love this little brown bound copy of the Book of Mormon that I got when I was 8 years old. It looks like I've turned the inside of it into a coloring book with all the revelation and insight I've received. The Gold on the edges is faded and gone and make-shift colorful tabs stick out each and every way to help me have quick access to important scriptures I use in teaching regularly. My name on the cover is becoming discolored from my thumb, where I grab it and hold it up as I testify about its truthfulness in strangers tiny living rooms over and over and over again.  The stories in the book are epic!(Go read Alma 47. It's a war chapter, and it's the most intense suspenseful action packed one...and it just so happens to give us super sneaky ways in which the adversary fights against us. Maybe read it for FHE. Teach the children to not come down off their mountain!) Also go online and find the Mormon Message Testimony of the Book of Mormon, with Jeffrey R Holland speaking. It is so good and we showed that to a few people this week. Super powerful.
     Also this week we had the opportunity to start teaching a less active named D. He was adopted from Kazakhstan when he was only 7 years old and fell away, but is now coming back. He sought us out and has been so prepared! He has a lot of questions, but has found already that he can study the pamphlets we give him and read from the Book of Mormon to find his answers. What a cool kid. We have a great time teaching him!
     Also this week we taught C again! And we put her on date for baptism next month!! She is doing great and already had a lot of great insight on doctrine and things. Her sister is getting baptized this next week in a different family ward, which is super exciting. 
     This week we had Zone Training meeting. And it was absolutely beautiful and amazing. Our zone leaders are both Named Elder Taylor haha! And then Sis Neaf and Sis Nielsen are our STL's. It was Sis Nielsen's last Zone training meeting which was really sad.  We talked about the new He is the Gift initiative a lot and they gave us all the opportunity to bare our testimony of the Savior. Can I just say that there is nothing more powerful than 20 full time missionaries all in the same room, all called of God to declare the divinity of Christ, all reading the Living Christ together, and then all standing and baring such bold and powerful witnesses and testimonies of our Dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
     This last Sunday J didn't come to church which made us really sad because the testimony meeting in his ward was SO good! And guess what!? C. J. was made a priest in the Aaronic priesthood today and was called to Secretary in the Sunday School presidency! He is doing super well!!! We are hoping to get him to the temple soon for baptisms!
     This week had its ups and downs as always, but as Christmas draws nearer, and I've been acknowledging Christ's hand and atonement in every aspect of my life, I have been so grateful for His constant love, compassion, and patience towards me.
     I'm so grateful to see His hand in the lives of those I teach. I've told you all about R multiple times, right? Well I got a facebook message from her this week saying she has been told she is ready to go through the temple in the next month. I was so so happy.
     I love you all to the moon and back! Merry Christmas! Miss you and can't wait to talk to you all soon face to face on Christmas morning! :) 
Love Forever,
Sister Lenise Diane Volmer

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Gratitude Attitude

Team Turkey Bowl
Dearest Family of mine!
Where on earth do I even begin.... 
This week was all sorts of normal for missionary life...intermingled with the random parts that are just never ever normal. Yup. 
     First off, thank you SO MUCH for the little package with the talks from grandpa's funeral in it and the music! I loved reading it! I'm so stoked for this Christmas season! It's going to be a blast! Everyone here goes all out for Christmas! Lights started popping up on people's houses all week before thanksgiving and we could see several Christmas trees in windows! Yay for the holidays!
      I don't know if you have heard about the new Christmas Initiative the church is doing this Christmas season but it is going to be epic! It is called He Is The Gift, and you can find out all about it on christmas.mormon.org and watch the video! The church is pulling out all the stops to spread this around! So check Youtube on Dec 7th to see He Is The Gift as the main masthead on there, and it will also be in Time Square and there will be a lot of push for it on social media sights, so look out for those! In the Ensign there will also be an article by Elder Nelson all about it. Discover the gift, embrace the gift, and share the gift! If you want I can send you some He is the Gift pass along cards to hand out to people! We have been handing them out like crazy!!!
      My companion (Sista G!) and I get along really well! We have a lot of fun together. We talk a lot and laugh a lot. This week I broke out my Pride and Prejudice CD to listen to in the car and she kept asking me what was going on in each song, and because she didn't know the story line, I ended up telling her the whole story. It was really funny to watch her get all excited over the different parts even though she wasn't even really watching it. When I asked her later this week what her favorite movie was, she answered with Pride and Prejudice! And I laughed and said "you haven't even seen it!" and she said "It's still my favorite!" haha! 
      Last Monday we had fun going to FHE in the Kolob ward. We played an epic game of mafia that was sooooo fun! Except it was different than normal Mafia. It was called Vampires and Werewolves and it was super fun because there were a lot more characters and nobody had to be a boring townsperson! Everyone kept accusing me of being the Vampire because I had thick tights on to hide the sunlight! And whenever they asked me what my defense was when they voted on me I always said "I am a servant of the Lord! I do not kill people!" haha! It was super fun! Me and Sis G have been talking about getting a copy of the rules and playing it for zone activity. 
      Tuesday was super busy! We had a lot of lessons! We met with J again, and he made some amazing comments on our lesson! He told us about how going to Chayanne's baptism last week was a huge spiritual experience for him and how our last lesson on the plan of salvation helped him out a lot! It was great! He is still progressing and we are hoping he gets to meet with one of the mission presidency soon!
      Tuesday night we met up with the STL's to start exchanges. Our STL's are Sis Nielsen (You all know Megan, right? :) ) and Sis Neaf (Sis Neaf is also from the Tri-Cities! she lives in Pasco and we rode the plane here together!)  We did a lot of catching up and we had a blast! She had a bad cold, that I'm pretty sure I caught from her, but mine isn't as bad. I've just had a slightly stuffy nose, but other than that I'm fine. We took some crazy pictures, and maybe I'll get her to send some to me! She goes home this next transfer, which is crazy!!! I think her release date is the 17th or something like that! CRAZY! Everyone I know is going home! AH! :( sad....
     So Thanksgiving....What a day!
      Thanksgiving on the mission is nothing like thanksgiving back at home! For starters we have 7 turkey bowls going on in our mission, zone against zone! Our zone is the Wasatch Zone and we got matching T-shirts with our names on the back, our number, and Utah Provo Mission. Super sweet! We had a blast playing! And I think I've finally figured out how football works....I'm not necessarily good at playing it...but I understand it now! President McCune, Stopped by to play with us a bit, but I felt really bad for him because he had a pinched nerve and couldn't run. So he just played the quarterback for both teams threw the ball. It was touch football, so it was pretty funny when the sisters got the ball and started running and the elders would all hesitate and not want to touch them! haha! So funny! It was really great! 
       Later we went with Sis Neaf and Sis Nielsen to a thanksgiving dinner with their senior couple who ran a catering business and they made some of the BEST food! They had these cheese balls and one of them was a chocolate and cream cheese ball that you dipped graham crackers in! It was so good! They also made pumpkin pie bars that were delicious! I will have to send you the recipe! They gave me a copy! It was so good! And then we had another dinner later. It was all left over thanksgiving food from earlier that day...haha but we had fun visiting with the family and sharing the He is the Gift video with them. We went to one of our less actives homes who lives waaay deep in the canyon, so we drove up there and shared a message with his family and played liars dice with them! Super fun game by the way! If you have never played it before, figure it out!  Then we had a lesson with another less active named S. It was a hard lesson because his dad and brother were playing very loud violent video games in the same room and refused to leave, which was really frustrating...so we are going to have to find a new place to meet with him. 

Turkey bowl
      Friday was pretty normal and busy. Friday night we at with a fun family who were from Canada so Sis G connected with them really good! They invited us over the next day to help them decorate for Christmas! So Saturday morning we were able to help decorate their Christmas tree! It was super fun! I haven't decorated a tree in 2 years! But their tree wasn't white trash Christmas like ours is...it was super fancy....I think I like our white trash tree better! It has more character and love put into it! Sunday we were busy with a lot of church! We teach this nonmember boyfriend and girlfriend who live together and they live with a member family. Their names are B and K, and they get so distracted. Somehow when one of the family prayed they prayed for stem cell research to be successful and then everyone got in a huge discussion about stem cell research and Sis G and I were looking at each other like "uh....what do we do?"  Crazy things that happen on missions. 
      I'm so thankful for the opportunity I get to serve. That's what I'm thankful for. I'm thankful for eternal families, and supportive family members who help me so much! I'm thankful for the chances God gives me every day to share this joy I have in my life. I'm so grateful for the gospel we have! Aren't you?? It is seriously the true source of happiness in our lives. It makes me so sad when we get rejected. It hurts to get rejected. And that makes me sad. But it makes me more sad that the people who reject us don't get the blessings. And then it makes me even more sad for my Savior who has atoned for them regardless of if they accept Him or not, and I mourn for the pain he goes through for their loss. I am so eternally grateful for a Savior who made eternal life possible for all of us. He really truly is the first and last and every gift we could ever need this Christmas season. Don't forget it. I love you all and miss you! I love the pictures you send and the videos! You are the best! I miss you and will talk to you in 24 days! :) (the last time I talk to you before I see you in person...)
Love Forever,
Sister Lenise Diane Volmer!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A gift for Grandpa!

 Dearest Family of Mine, 
Hi.  How are you all? 
These two seem very happy in their missionary service.
     Now that the all the hustle and bustle of the funeral is over, I hope you get a chance to breathe and relax. How did Mom and Lance do? I wanna hear their talks! I teared up reading mom's email about the experience, and it sounds like there was a lot of love shared and amazing memories! Grandpa was such an example, and such a great man. I want to marry someone just like him some day! I had a dream this week that was very short and it happened right as I was waking up. And all it was grandpa standing there, and he just reached out and gave me a big warm hug. And that was it. It was over within seconds and my alarm clock was going off for me to get up. But I felt really calm and really happy and really content afterwards. I know Grandpa has to be happy where he is. He is still here with us in so many ways, and I'm thankful for his spirit to help guide and bless us. 
     This week was busy busy busy!
     I haven't knocked doors as much on my whole mission as I have this week! Because YSA records go in and out of wards so fast with all the YSA moving around so much, we have been given an assignment to contact all the Less actives and No-shows in one of our wards, which keeps us pretty busy making visits and inviting people to church. We've had some funny experiences though...One of the days we knocked on a door and heard a dog going berserk inside! Little did we realize there was a doggy door on the FRONT door, and this little evil Jack Russel Terrier jumped out at us and started barking at me and foaming from the mouth! We both squeaked a little bit in fear before this Russian accented woman opened the door and called the dog back in. She only knew enough English to say "Sorry, my crazy dog." and affirm that the girl we were looking for was not there. Sis Gulbranson and I were laughing so hard as we walked back to our car, I'm sure the woman could see our shoulders shaking! 
On the same day as Grandpa's funeral, someone was reborn.
Lenise says, "What a great gift to Grandpa
     Tuesday we taught Chayaane (who got baptized this Saturday!) and he is such a stalwart prepared guy!!! He is just amazing! His conversion story is great too! The teachers in the family ward were knocking doors for fast offerings and happened across him. He had no idea what fast offerings were but paid anyways!!! On their way around the corner of the street, the teachers ran into some Spanish Elders and sent them to Chayanne, and they sent him to us! Awesome, right? He was so so so prepared and solid! He is seriously the most polite mannered guy ever, and he had no trouble accepting the lessons and commandments because he already lived most of them anyways! He is just a well-rounded guy! He has a girlfriend who attends BYU-Idaho, but he made it very clear from the beginning that he wasn't doing it for his girlfriend. He sincerely wanted to know. We already know he is going to be such a good example to his family and generations to come! What a neat guy :) We also taught a girl named C on Tuesday, and she is a recent convert. She is originally from Washington, and was taught the gospel there, but when she was baptized her family kicked her out of her house, and she ended up moving to Utah and is now living with one of the sister missionaries who baptized her and the sister missionaries' family. She is so cute and bubbly and so strong! She is already preparing to serve a mission of her own and it has been a blast getting to know her. We had dinner with that family this week and it was great! I swear, everyone here is obsessed with the BYU creamery and always has BYU creamery ranch dressing on their tables. No joke. I've never even been there. I didn't even know what it was or where it was until we were driving home from Camry's final testimony my first day in the area.
     Any-who, so Tuesday night I met an investigator who apparently they have been teaching for a while. His name is J A and he is a super neat guy! He knows the book of Mormon is true and he knows that Joseph Smith is a prophet...but here's the thing...he's known that his whole life...because he is a member of the reorganized LDS church and is a child of polygamy. Which means he needs to go through special interviews with our mission president, and also eventually with a general authority (usually a member of the 12) if he wants to get baptized. But he is still trying to decide if he wants to or not. He reads his scriptures and prays and has some amazing friends who are great examples to him. He makes it to church regularly as well, but he is still trying to decide what he believes. He loves his dad a whole lot and says that his dad is super Christ-like and doesn't want to disappoint him. It must be hard to decide whether or not you think your dad has the true priesthood. Or if the prophet you've been raised with your whole life is the true one, or the one from our faith is....It's crazy because he knows all the doctrine because he already believes and lives it....it's just a matter of finding answers from him and sincere prayer and listening to the spirit. It's a hard situation, but we support him a lot, and pray for him like crazy. We talked about the plan of salvation this last week and he had some in depth questions. I was able to use my experience with Grandpa passing away to explain the nature of eternal families, resurrection, and following the commandments. God wants us all back to live with him. Not just some of us. And Jordan was really worried about that because he wants to be with his family forever. 
     Wednesday we did soooooooooo much contacting. Contacting is different than Tracting. Tracting you just go knock random doors. That doesn't work here in Utah...Contacting is usually where you have a list of names and addresses of people you already know aren't active or members and a little background, so it's like Celestial focused tracting. And it's easier when you know their names before you knock on a stranger’s door. It's a lot of fun...and super awkward...which can be fun within itself as well. Sis Gulbranson and I end up laughing a lot. We've actually both had two of the same companions, Sis Jones and Sis Nomo. Apparently Sis Jones talked about me a lot and the weird/funny things I would say...because I'm discovering that everyone that has served around her,- when they hear my name- automatically know who I am. Haha it's kinda funny. 
    Thursday was also busy with SO much contacting! Guess what....it snowed several times this week, but never enough to stick...but still it's winter season...and you know what that means? Pot roast - potato - and carrot season. Yup, it's back. Remember how I told you last winter that we got served that 3-4 times a week for 3-4 months? Well guess how many times we had it this week? 3...haha oh goodness. People still feed us here way too much, but hey, I'm so grateful for their generosity and desire to help us out! :) 
     Friday we taught one of our investigators named C.  At the end of our lesson on the restoration she said "I have a question for you...the impossible question. Nobody has been able to answer it yet!" and Sis G and I looked at each other and raised our eyebrows and were like...."Ok...what?" and she said "Where did God come from?" haha :) We explained to her that nobody knew that and it was a question she would have to save for him when she meets him someday. She is super cute!
     Saturday was great because of Chayanne's baptism! We got to meet his girlfriend’s family and they were super nice and helped so much! Chayanne is a little go-getter because he made his own program and was greeting everyone as they came in, and thanking everyone as they left at the end. J A came for the baptism and we were able to say hi at the beginning, but at the end he snuck out really fast and we weren't able to talk with him. But it was a great program! He was confirmed the next day and it was great! He will do amazing things! It was strange that on the same day as Grandpa's funeral I felt like I was helping someone be reborn. I think that is a good gift to give to grandpa. 
     So I'm really starting to get a hang of this new area. It helps that I'm the driver and Sis Gulbranson helps me navigate...which means we kinda get lost a lot...haha! Our ward mission leaders work so hard.
     Well I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving this week!!! It's not going to be the same as last year for me, because YSA everyone goes home for thanksgiving....so we have dinner plans but the rest of the day we will probably be wandering around wondering who to visit and teach on a holiday...haha. I love you all to the moon and back and miss you tons! You are in my prayers! This gospel is SO true! It is a great time to be a missionary! Hoorah for Israel!
     Love Forever,
Sister Lenise Diane Volmer

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Training video movie star

        Dear Family,
Saying goodbye to friends
     First off, I need to say how sorry I am that Grandpa Merkley passed away. It was really hard to not be there, but I know that this is where I need to be. And I know that he is no longer in pain and that he is so much happier where he is at. I am so so so grateful for my knowledge of eternal families! It makes me so sad that so many don't understand that they can be with their loved ones forever! I sent my family an email about my memories of Grandpa, and they can share that if they want. It has just been such a crazy and hectic week for me. 
Okay, so my new address is:
Sister Lenise Volmer
250 W. 200 S.
Springville, UT 84663
     Earlier last week (it feels like forever ago...) I found out I was being tansferred. I was really sad to leave Orem, but the spirit testified to Sis Wicker and I that it was time for us to move on and that Elders where part of the Lord's plan for the area. We talked with Rachel and were able to get Gelato with her and say goodbye. She told us she prayed about meeting with the Elders and said that she received the answer that she should keep meeting with them, which is really good!!! So I just keep in touch with her now through facebook and keep up with her and what she is doing and how she is progressing. We spent all tuesday packing and saying goodbye to people. It was sad because Sis Wicker got a really bad cold and was really sick which made it hard for her to pack and visit and update the areabook for the new elders. I gave her some of my mucinex and cold medicine which I think helped. 
     Wednesday morning we woke up early to finish cleaning our apartment and head out. Sis Arnoldson, the woman who sent mom a pic of all of our luggage and called her, gave us a ride to the transfer chapel for the meeting. She is the sweetest! I was really sad that I only got six weeks with Sis Wicker because we had a lot of fun together!. During transfers I was getting really anxious because I wasn't getting called...and it wasn't until after Sis Wicker had recieved her new companions (she's in a trio) near the end that I found out that I was moved to the Provo YSA 19th Stake! Yup...I'm over 9 wards of YSA....crazy right?? My new companion is named Sis Gulbranson and she is GREAT! She is such a sweet heart and super super nice and chill. We laugh a lot already and get along well! She is from British Columbia Canada, from a small town called Vanderhoof. She is from a family of Seven, and she has four older brothers and a little brother and sister. She grew up on a farm and likes to sing Frozen with me in the car....I think she is just swell! Our new area is an adventure....Our stake president is the President at the MTC and he pretty much wrote Preach My Gospel....he is super intimidating...but really really nice! He invited us over for thanksgiving. But he also has access to our areabook app on our ipads and uses our areabook as an example when he flies to other missions to introduce the ipads to the missionaries...this next week he is flying to Japan to show everyone our areabook....AH! CRAZY! There is a lot more work to be done here than there was in Orem, so we are kept really busy, although we do still do a bunch of contacting. The Ward Mission Leaders (who are all my age, and a little older...weird...) are on fire! They are so missionary minded and focused and they are all RM's so they know what they are doing, so it rocks! I'm excited to serve here where it is so fast paced and moving! Oh and by the way we have a baptism next week for a guy name Chayanne Jiminez. I will have to take pictures and send them! He is so prepared! 
     I love my new house. Yes, and I do mean house! We get this super cute little house all to ourselves! The landlords live next door and they are also the senior couple in the area! Its an great,  I missed couches and now we have one! I didn't get one in Orem...I used to lay on the floor at night during planning because there was no couches and I didn't want to sit on the hard floor! But now we have a couch! YAY!
    So at the transfer meeting on Wednesday, Sis Caldwell, the mission office secretary, pulled me and my new companion Sis Gulbranson aside, along with a bunch of other sisters. (Sis Megan Nielson was there along with two of my previous companions; Sis Nomo and Sis Albrechtsen. Also Sis Naef from Pasco, and a couple other sisters I had served around.) She told us that we had been picked by the mission president to be in a new church training film, to help train Sister Missionaries how to be good tour guides and hosts at temple open houses, because so many temples were being opened. She pretty much told us that we had to be at the LDS Motion Picture Studio in an hour to get told wardrobe rules....So we dropped all my stuff off at our house and we went straight to the studio...It was crazy because there was this guard at the front gate and we had to tell him we were there for a wardrobe check for Sterling....which we had no idea what that meant....So he gave us little badges that said LDS Motion Pictures Studio Casting (super official...) and let us through the gate. We were then taken into the studio where we met our director and her assistant. Our Director's name was Anne, and she was a little older, and she was very sarcastic and funny. She is a convert and teaches acting at BYU provo. Her assistant Ashley was super nice and fun to talk to. They told us what to wear and how to do our hair and makeup, and pretty much told us "no green!" because there would be a green screen. Then they told us to be at the studio at 7am and that we wouldn't be done until 6pm for the next two days and that we needed to cancel all of our teaching appointments...which made our numbers and lessons really low...but that's not our fault! 
Sister missionaries turned into actresses
      So bright and early we showed up the next day at the studio. There was a makeup artist and wardrobe director there, which was crazy. When we were on set between takes she would run out and hairspray us, or powder our faces, or adjust our hair or clothes. Her name was Becky Swazzi and she had done makeup and hair and costuming for the Joseph Smith movies and a lot of the Bible movies too, so it was super neat to meet her and she was super nice and loved to talk with us about her own missionary experiences. Back stage is just like what it is in movies....there is equipment everywhere, camera and sound men everywhere. They were either on film dollies or they had what they called Turtle packs which were like harnesses with the camera coming over their shoulders on a bar and dangling from a cord to help them hold the camera steady or something. There was a bunch of lighting and a guy who held what they called a Boom microphone over our heads when we spoke. There were also two professional actresses that they brought in who played the part of our trainers. the film is like we are in a class and they are training us how to be good tour guides. Their names were Britney (blonde and super skinny) and Jenna (Brunette with pixie cut and a super funny!) They had known each other for a while and had acted together before. They were HILARIOUS! They had so much fun pretending to be one of us sister missionaries! Britney had just returned from her mission in France (Her and Sis Nomo had fun speaking to eachother in French) They were a very dynamic duo and kept all of us Sister having fun and laughing. Especially during lunch when they would tell us stories from their acting classes and impersonate 60 year old women named Vern and Edna who had jersey accents! I almost choked on my food we were laughing so much! The second day they brought in extras to be people attending the open house and it was fun to get to know some member families, and even some nonmember actors who came. One guy was catholic and I had no idea he wasn't a member! He talked to me on set for like 30-40 minutes about temples and the book of mormon. I just thought he was trying to stay in character....nope...he really didn't know, and so I answered a ton of his questions. There was also this family with the cutest kids who I befriended and we had fun acting together and saying silly things in the back ground while filming. I pretty much humiliated myself on camera...We were supposed to give examples of "No no's" and they had me stand on apple boxes in front of the Green Screen and yell "THIS IS GOING TO BE AWESOME! COME ON INTO THE TEMPLE EVERYONE!!! WOOOOHHH!!!!"....yeah I was like a cheerleader and the Director and Producer loved it and laughed a ton... I have a feeling I may have scarred myself internationally.... I also had a cool opportunity to be in a scene with some actors who were playing a pregnant couple. The wife pulled me aside and asked "What does it mean to be sealed in the temple as a family?" and I was able to say "Being sealed in the temple means that we get to be with our loved one forever." That was such a tender mercy. The spirit testified to me so strongly that I was speaking truth. Little did I know that the next day I would find out that Grandpa had passed away. Yes, families are eternal.
Back stage

Joseph Smith Set

The set looks real!

      Saturday was a normal day. I got up and worked out and listened to so me general conference talks while I finished unpacking....I felt inspired to listen to the talk Mountains to Climb by Elder Eyring....Little did I know that later that afternoon I would recieve the news that Grandpa had passed away. That was hard. I was emotional all evening, and even worse the next morning. But talking to President McCune, and Talking to you all helped me a ton. I feel a lot better and know that Grandpa is happier and healthier and in a better place. I really am so thankful for eternal families. I know that ours is forever. I'm so thankful for the many opportunities I have received this week and the experiences I have had. I love you all and miss you! Thank you so much for your support and love! You are in my prayers! Especially mom and Grandma Merkley. Tell Grandma she is amazing and that I'm so thankful for her example. You are my sunshine Grandma. I love you!
Be safe and have a great week everyone!
Sister Lenise Diane Volmer

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Orem

Keeping a "leg up' on the situation.
Dearest family....
Well...this week has been an adventure...
     First things first. I'm getting transferred again...and so is Sis Wicker....yup. We are getting white washed and elders are coming in to take our place... We were totally shocked...there are so many people here that we feel we are not done working with yet and we are a little scared to hand over our sister-friendly area to  Elders...we have to write detailed instructions about everyone and our schedule and everything. Which also means handing over our newly formed Preach My Gospel class. Gah this is going to be a load of work. I'm scared to leave R and Sis H and the other struggling people who we have finally gotten to trust us...not to mention cleaning out our whole apartment. So we shall see what the next adventure will be...I will hopefully post it on facebook.
      Earlier this week was really boring...but that's mainly because Monday, Tuesday, and part of Wednesday Sis Wicker was really sick. Monday we played games as a district (including one called Heads Up. It's hilarious!) and then the next day I stayed in all day and I was so bored I started what I declared opposition snow flake...about a third of our apartments walls are covered in homemade snowflakes....when you aren't sick and you have to stay in anyways...it's interesting... But I was able to go to one lesson with our senior couple, Sis Mendenhalls and I went and taught some recently returned members who had been on a cruise in Russia for the last month...they showed us part of their trip video which included a lot of vodka drinking by the other passengers...awkward...but it went well! We were able to turn the topic back to missionary work. Wednesday was a bit better and we were able to go out and work.  
     Thursday was mostly work work work as well. We got to go to an auxiliary training and then Friday we had a zone training meeting that was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. We took some crazy pictures...I will send them...I epically photo bombed some of the elders...I'll show you... ;)
     We had a district lunch Friday as well. We had fun with the sisters there and we convinced them that Sis Wicker has multiple boyfriends waiting for her at home...haha props to Sis W!  Haha! We then had weekly planning...which not gonna lie we were pretty discouraged during because all of our lessons were falling through and we had zero investigators...and then out of nowhere a guy called us and said that he had three new girls move into his downstairs apartment who wanted to learn about the gospel and be baptized! Ah! Tender mercy...even if I don't get to meet them...good for the elders! I had to say a prayer and repent after that for being negative... :)
     Friday night R got out of the hospital! Yay! And later we went to help this young mom clean her house because she was moving the next day and had back problems. So we had fun scrub-a-dubbing and chatting with her. Bathroom cleaning skills come in handy...just saying... Saturday our Preach My Gospel class was awesome! We had 23 people there and some great discussions! I'm sad we won't be able to continue that because it was going so well! The elders should be able to if we give them extensive instructions. We are writing in detail letters to them about the individuals here we work with.
      Sunday was long. Lots of all day church meetings...but I do love primary programs...they are so cute and hilarious! We met with M again, the one I told you about who wouldn't read his scriptures. The lesson went well until Sis Wicker had to be blunt with him about the fact that if he didn't read his scriptures he wasn't keeping commitments and thus not progressing and repenting....yeah...we got a text later that night from him telling us he was done with lessons and to have a good life. Sometimes I think having texting as a missionary doesn't help us much but maybe the new elders will be able to reconnect with him. I sure hope so. We went and helped R last night too. 

Saying goodbye to her Orem district makes Lenise sad, fun group!
     So that's about it...life goes on...I have to start packing today and we have a journal signing part in a few minutes I have to go to say goodbye to my district. Sad :(  I really liked my new district.
     You are all in my prayers and I hope you are doing well! Tell Kelsy to
get well soon! And stop taking so many drugs! (Kelsy just had shoulder surgery- she's on pain meds)
Love and miss you!

Sister Lenise Diane Volmer

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Olaf and Sven adventures!

Dear family. 
Sven and Olaf for Halloween
     This week was great!...and all sorts of really crazy in-between! 
     So as you saw, we got to carve pumpkins last Monday which was a lot of fun! My district is hilarious and we had fun getting pumpkin goo all over each other. We carved pumpkins at one of the Senior Couple's houses (The Mendenhalls) and it was great! 
     Tuesday, we met up with two of the women I told you about last week who are really struggling...but it got better. We met with one and  had a really good lesson with her in which we talked about the beauty of the sacrament and the healing power it can have if we go to church. We convinced her to come this next Sunday!!! AH! yay!
     As for the one I've worked with forever who has depression...We were able to have a really good lesson with her about enduring to the end.  In D&C 121:43 it talks about reproving at times with sharpness and then showing forth a greater increase in love. Something about being a missionary has taught me to say and do things I never would have had the guts to say and do before. Boldness, if used by prompting of the Holy Ghost, can change the hearts of people. It was a really good lesson. 
     Wednesday morning we were surprised to find out that we had Mission President Interviews that day! We thought with President McCune's son in critical condition that we wouldn't be having interviews this transfer, but we were wrong! He came and he and his wife were in really good spirits. Apparently their son is up and walks around the ICU at least twice every day.  President said he is very polite and nice and at sometimes shows sparks of clarity and know who and where he is.  They said he will improve over time, and we are all still praying for him like crazy to improve. 
Woodey & Buzz, Alice & Mad Hatter, Sven & Olaf
and random Elder as Belle?
     Wednesday evening we spent doing service and making cards with one of our investigators named Cathy. Cathy was raised Jehovah’s witness and is elderly with a bunch of health problems. She actually went to Arizona on Thursday for the winter, so we won't be able to teach her anymore...which is sad because she was our only real investigator...so now we are at ground zero and doing a lot of building and contacting. But she let us make cards with her fancy embosser....legit!
          Friday was crazy! We were inside most of the day doing our weekly planning. (They are asked to stay in a lot on Halloween day) We camped out on our apartment floor with pillows and planned lessons for everyone for the next week, while making cookies for our bishops. We have what is called companionship inventory where you discuss the strength of your companions relationship and talk about strengths and unity...ours usually end up with us laughing our heads off and debating who is in charge of killing spiders. (Sis Wicker believes they should have a chance to live...I disagree...if they have invaded my living quarters, they have a right to die!!! So we ended up having a pillow fight...that was fun! And then I straightened Sis Wicker's hair for the Halloween party (She had never done it...) We then had an awesome Halloween party with our district! We all dressed up as Disney Duos. The Elders were... not as creative as us sisters... Sis Spencer and Sis Carey were Buzz and Woodey, Sis Rodriguez and Sis Gorrido were Alice and the Mad Hatter, and Sis Wicker and I were Sven and Olaf! :) it was great! We played apples to apples, and ate chili.
     Saturday morning we had our first Preach My Gospel class! It went really well! We had 14 people come, and are anticipating more. It was great to help members understand their role in missionary work and how they could use studying preach my gospel to help them become better member missionaries! It was super and we are hoping to have the same class in the other stake we cover as well! 
Sisters Rodriguez & Volmer 
          Yesterday was a loooooooong day of going to church! We went to two church blocks...six hours of church...haha. It's good for meeting lots of people but leaves you pretty exhausted. I try to bare my testimony in every ward we go to on fast Sundays, and in the second ward I attended I felt prompted very strongly to share my testimony on deciding to serve a mission and how it had impacted me. So I went up and bore a simple and straightforward testimony of my experience and how much my mission means to me. I remember standing up at the podium and seeing a girl about my age, sitting near the back who was just crying the whole time I spoke. When the meeting was over, she came up behind me and grabbed me tightly by the arm and simply said, "Thank you for your testimony. It was for me." I nodded and gave her a big hug. It is so amazing when the spirit speaks through you. The ability to be an instrument in the spirit's hands is like no other. This week I found myself thinking so many times how grateful I was for the opportunity to be a missionary. I had similar experiences all week long where I wasn’t sure what was going to come out of my mouth, but the Lord knew and he made everything come out just the way He needed it to be. I love the Lord. He knows every one of the people I teach better than I do, and I just need to not get in the way of His love. But I can be an advocate for showing it to others. 
          Well I hope all is well at home! I pray for you all every day! Pray for missionary experiences and they WILL happen! And don't NOT pray because you know they will happen! haha! 
     Love you all and miss you!
Love,  Sister Lenise Diane Volmer

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sometimes things are just HARD

Dear Family.
     Well, I'm not going to lie. This week was a hard week. 
     Still good on so many levels. Still amazing in so many ways. And there were still so many miracles. But sometimes life is just hard.   To start us off lets go back to last week.
     I want to ask you to keep my mission president, President McCune, in your prayers. Especially his son Daniel. Last week his son (who is 20) got in a long boarding accident right outside the mission home. He hit his head really hard and had to go into emergency brain surgery. To say this week has been hectic as a mission, is an understatement. Our whole mission had a fast for Daniel on Saturday and we have been praying for the McCune family constantly. It makes me so sad that such a righteous, devoted, inspired, and caring man, who works so hard in our mission had to have something like this happen to his family. When being the guardian of 260+ missionaries and having to deal with this on top of it all...It's hard. It just is. And all of us have been asking for a miracle in behalf of Daniel.
     This week has been good in the sense that we are increasing in lesson numbers and getting closer to the goals we've set! We've been working hard to find new people to teach. Here in Utah we run into the fact that people here believe that everyone here is Mormon and we are most often faced with the question "How do I do missionary work in Utah?" So Sis Wicker and I came up with an idea! So starting this next Saturday morning, we are starting a Preach My Gospel class for active members ages 12+. A few general conferences ago, Elder Ballard told everyone to study Preach My Gospel personally and as a Family, especially if you have a missionary out in the field. Some families have no clue how to approach it and others use it as their scripture study as a family. So we are starting this class to help people study it and become better member missionaries. So we are super stoked about that! 
     Wednesday we were out contacting because we didn't have any set lessons, and we came to a less active woman's house who we'd been trying to meet for weeks. She was finally home and we sat down and talked with her. Well....what we thought would be a short visit turned into 3 hours...and we hardly said a word. She began dumping everything from her past on us. May I remind you that I am not a bishop...nor a qualified psychiatrist or counselor....but often times people deem it necessary to tell a couple of 20ish year old kids who are just trying to share the gospel message all  the horrifying details of their life.  I didn't know what to say. I couldn't relate to her, I couldn't think of a single way to help. So we tried our hardest to bare testimony of the simple things that I do know help. Prayer and scripture study. We committed her to reading a chapter a day and we left her house, overwhelmed and promising to be back next week.
     Note from Mom:  I edited out some other HARD things that these two sweet sisters had to face because of the worldly choices of others in order to maintain their privacy.  Lets just say I'm praying constantly that  their spirits will be strengthened and not be harmed by the choices of others.
Sis. Wicker's first pumpkin carving-ever!  Good job!
Elder Gunthrie
It's good to know traditions live on even in the mission.
         Later that night we were both physically and emotionally drained and so we made a deal. That we would ride our bikes to our Coordination meeting that night, but we called a member that I was super close with last time I was here (The Wooly's!) to pick up our bikes in their truck and give us a ride home. So we were riding really fast to our meeting because we were just a little behind. We were right about to turn into the parking lot, when Sis Wicker turned too soon and hit the curb and went flying! It was like in slow motion and I instantly hopped off my bike and dropped it and ran to her! She was sprawled spread eagle on her stomach and had smacked her face on the pavement and grass. She was amazingly not bleeding at all, although she had felt her nose and teeth graze the pavement, and her nails were all scraped up from the contact. She was sore the next few days, but overall was unscathed. Divine intervention? Heck yes! We were inspired to arrange a ride for after the meeting. When we walked out of the meeting we were greeted by Mario and Princess Peach. Not even lying. Haha! So the Wooly's have a son named Tyler who served in Armenia with the Eyres in my home ward , he got back the first time I was in Orem. Well now he has a girl friend who is an RM from Russia, and she is super nice! And they showed up in costume to pick us up and it totally was a tender mercy to laugh with them when we saw them. That night we ate a cookie. Sometimes....you just gotta eat a cookie. That's life. 
           What does the word "hard" mean anyways? Hard means difficult. Frustrating. Not easy. And so many people say life is too hard, or things are too hard and they can't do them. This week I've rediscovered that "Hard" can have an all new meaning. Grandma Merkley has a quote on her wall that says "I can do hard things." and Sharee has sent that quote to me more than once. It has given me a lot of strength...but also changed the way I look at the word "Hard"...it can also mean tough, unbreakable. Strong. I can do strong things. Sometimes being strong can be a very lonely thing. But I've learned that I can do hard things. And so can the people I help. We as Children of God are oddly resilient. We have seen through history as people have faced horrifying things, and yet still have faced them and come back to say that "despite everything, I truly believe that people are really good at heart." (Anne Frank.) I choose to believe that. And missionary work is my way of going out to prove that point and to share the joys and strengths of the gospel. I can do hard things. I love you all and miss you all! 
Sister Lenise Diane Volmer