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. 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" 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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

1 year down!

Dear Family.
One year down!

A year down.
     That is soooooo strange. I've been gone for an entire year and it passed so much slower and so much faster than I thought it would....This year has been one of the hardest, most crazy, most up-and-downy, most bestest, most magical, most uplifting, most trying, most wonderful year I have ever had!!! And I'm not done yet. I've still got six months to go! 
     This last Monday we had an awesome zone activity at a member’s house and we played volleyball.  The elders in our district are hilarious and we had a lot of fun. One of the Elders brought a blender and made Oreo milkshakes and Elder Greenacre (from England) and Sis Goritto had a chugging contest to see who could drink theirs the fastest.  Then I had a contest with Elder Guthrie our District leader...and he won...I had a stomach ache after and I had only had a little cup!  
     Tuesday I went on exchanges with the STL's in their area. They are Spanish sisters, so I didn't really know what was going on the whole hablo espaniol....But it was a neat experience! I was with Sister Culotta, who is super fun and nice.   Most the people we saw could speak English and so we taught some lessons in English so I could participate, but it was funny because Sis Culotta had only ever taught in Spanish, and almost couldn't do it at all in English.  She would just stare at me as I taught because it just didn't click in her brain how I could say things in the right order in English and she would get tongue tied.  I guess her calling is just for Spanish and mine for English. I've seen that a lot with missionaries. Once they are a missionary with a certain language they almost don't know how to talk about anything gospel related unless it is in that language... haha. I didn't get fed twice this time, which was really nice! But my bed was hard as a that was good for the next day –Not!  Wed. we did a lot of contacting and some service for an older woman.
     Thursday (My year mark) was eventful and fun!

Making Applesauce
     We did service for one of our investigators, C, who is older and has a lot of health problems. We helped sweep her floor and then wrapped Christmas presents for her. Yup. Christmas presents in October....Sis Wicker thought I was a nut because I was humming Christmas carols to myself the whole time. I love the holidays! And I'm excited for Christmas! :) We also did service at the Hair's house and helped them make Applesauce, which was messy and a lot of fun! I love laughing with their daughter Kaitlyn! They are seriously such a special family and I always feel such a spirit in their home.
     Later that day we taught S again, who is just as funny as ever. Her husband was more involved this time and expressed that he is more interested in coming back to church. Now we are just working on helping S get a testimony, so we will see how it goes! Pray for her!
Lenise's buddy Kaitlyn
      Dinner was hilarious that night. It was an empty nester couple and the first thing the husband says is "I'm so glad you've made it because the last two times we were supposed to have sisters eat with us, they bailed. I'm so glad you're here! Come on, let’s go play air hockey!!!" We were a little shocked and then laughing as he dragged us into their game room and we played two on two air hockey with them until dinner was done cooking. I was laughing a lot and it felt good to be so suddenly pushed into something fun and be around energetic fun people! Sis Wicker and I have a lot of fun together, but more people having fun is even FUNNER! Or ...more fun....whatevs. When they found out it was my year mark, the husband Bro Taylor insisted that we light a firework off.... I was like "Um it says in the white hand book we aren’t allowed to do fireworks..." and so he sat me in a chair behind their back sliding glass door while he went out on the back patio and lit the firework off for me and we all laughed and cheered. It was great fun! :) 
     So Friday we got ready to go do service, except when we climbed on our bikes we realized that Sis Wicker's back tire was super flat, so we ended up on foot and had to skip service because of the long walk we had to take to get to the chapel for district training meeting. District training meeting was a lot of fun, because we talked a lot about following up with people on commitments we extend.  After, a member brought us pizza and we had an epic Disney quoting war (I totally won...) and we all decided we wanted to dress up for Halloween night when we get to get together for a party (missionaries are not allowed to be on the streets on Halloween), and we decided that each companionship had to be a famous Disney duo. Sis Wicker and I are trying to pick between Sully and Boo from Monsters Inc, Sven and Olaf from Frozen, Elsa and Anna, or Rapunzel and her mother....we'll see what we come up with. I kept begging Sister Wicker to let us be Mushu and the cricket from Mulan or Timon and Pumba from Lion King!!!....but she said ""
          I love Sis Wicker. She is a spiritual giant (she is actually 6’1 ½” tall) and the sweetest girl.. I love her to death and have learned so much from her. She is amazing.
      Thank you SO SO SO SO MUCH for the one year package! I loved the picture album book thingy from Shutterfly! It made me SO happy!!! And all the other little things in there too!
     Also shout out to Kaylene who sent me super cute Halloween window stickers! They are currently on our bathroom mirror and making our bathroom experiences a much more delightful adventure! :) Thank you so much for all you do for me and for your prayers! I really do feel them and appreciate them a lot! 
     Love and miss you all to the moon and back!
Sister Lenise Diane Volmer

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Old and New in Orem

One year ago in Orem- now back there again!
Dear Family,
     Another week in the life of a sister missionary in the Utah Provo mission :) I can't believe how I forgot how entirely different Orem is from Roosevelt. It's almost like being on a different mission. But it's good. I'm really liking it. It's been hard finding people to teach and you have to get out of your comfort zone a lot more here, but it's very gratifying work. Every day when I get home we are just pleasantly exhausted....and sometimes just down right exhausted.  But it's been a good feeling. I really like riding my bike! It makes me feel good and I feel like I have more energy.

      Sis Wicker is awesome! I love her and we have a lot of fun. I think she enjoys laughing at me the most. She is such a good missionary and very obedient and we work really hard together and have some big ambitions for this area and how we want to build it up. You should see our wall, it's covered in maps and goals and kind of makes me feel like a spy and secret agent :)
     This week has been busy with lots of contacting and knocking doors. Wednesday we got to see Meet the Mormons! It was great! We got to watch a pre showing of it at the stake center because we are not allowed to go to the actual theatre and they don't want us proselytizing right outside the theatre. They don't want people to feel obligated or pressured when they go, so they just had us watch it on our own so we could discuss it with people later when they wanted to talk with us about it! I loved all of it! I think they need to make more of them! I love how they broke down the stereo types and gave a fresh new view of what we are really like and how diverse we are! I especially liked the last story about the convert missionary mom. We are working with a woman I've told you about before named R who has gone through pretty much the exact same thing as the woman in the movie has and her son just turned 8 and got baptized. We told her that in 10 years that would be her :)
     Thursday we had zone training meeting and read and discussed Elder Jörg Klebingat's talk from the Saturday afternoon session of general conference! (That one was my all-time favorite!) It was fun to meet more of my new zone and I'm pretty excited. They seem like a lot of fun. I already love my new district. It's literally three sets of sisters and then one set of elders as the district leader. We call our district leader the relief society president! Haha! Our district leader is pretty cool and his name is Elder Guthrie. He's from Florida and reminds me a lot of Josh Peterson.  The other Elder is Elder Hill and he was serving in Mexico before going home for health reasons. When he got better they sent him back out, but sent him here to Utah where he wouldn't get sick. He's cool too and they are both nice and like to have a good time. I've made a good friend with one of the sisters in my new district named Sis Carey! She is super fun and cute and came out a transfer after me but goes home the same time I do. She was also companions with Sis Jones right after me. It's been fun getting to see a bunch of people I knew from last time I was here and getting to know them better!
     Ok, so something made me super know my first baptism B, from here?  Well he hasn't been going to church AT ALL!! And I ran into him on the street and asked if we could come visit him and help him get back to church and he said yes and told us to come by last Monday at 8. When we got there he wasn't home! I then tried to Facebook him, and he had blocked me!!! Grrrr I've been  super determined to call him out and get him to church.
     We also made cookies for all our bishops this week to try and strengthen our relationship with them. The better your relationships with members, the more likely you will get referrals! So we've been working hard on doing that! We had something really awesome happen on Friday! We got a random phone call from an unknown number and it was a  calling and saying she wanted the lessons because she felt like it was about time for her to be a member!!! When we got her name, number, and address and set up an apt, & hung up Sis Wicker and I were jumping up and down squealing like little girls! Haha! We met her on Saturday.  She is British and hilarious and spunky. She is blonde and had bright red lipstick on. She is married to a member who is less active. Obviously, we are very excited to work with her.  When they come to us we feel so blessed.
Lenise is making people happy by spreading the gospel.

     I've been thinking about Peter a lot this week. He was Christ's right hand man while He was on the earth and yet he went through a lot of trials, had a lot of weaknesses, and messed up a lot. It gives me comfort that even if I mess up and stumble, I can still be a disciple of Christ. He was rebuked multiple times and strove to do his best. If we strive to overcome our challenges like he did we can become like he was later. He was known as "Peter the Rock" and went about preaching the gospel to multiple nations alike and dying in his cause. I often think of the story in Mathew 14 when Christ was walking on water in the middle of a storm and Peter saw him from the ship and wanted to walk out on the water to meet him. I think of all the times I've wanted to do amazing hard and substantial things to prove my love for my Savior like Peter did in that moment. And yet when he saw the waves and the winds he feared and began to sink. I have done the same...when I see the trials and they seem to overcome me I feel like I'm sinking and reaching out and crying out for my Savior to help me... And he does...but not without saying "oh Ye of little faith, wherefore didst though doubt?" I need to have trust in The Lord that he can mold me into who I need to be. It reminds me of a song I've hear on the mission that goes "why do we only remember the sun, after the rain starts pouring down? We take it for granted until it is gone, then say to The Lord Rescue me now. I'm wading through water that's rising fast, and these dark clouds are gathering speed. Just when I feel I'm not going to last, I look through the clouds to the refuge I need. Lords, let this storm, bring me closer to you, please help me break through this, Lord help me see; letting fear flood my heart just drowns me. No matter how many hard things I'm called to endure, of one thing I am always sure: I'll be closer to you."
     I love you all and hope you are having a good week! :) The church is true
Sister Lenise Diane Volmer

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Back to first area, new companion, and General Conference

Saying goodbye to very special people.
Dearest family,
    Where to begin, where to begin....this week has been one of the longest ones I've had in a while, and to say I'm tired is probably an understatement...haha. The beginning of last week feels like a dream. Roosevelt and Orem are so different from each other that I feel like I've stepped back into a different world.
     Monday was a hard/fun day. Finding out I was being transferred was really hard. Both me and Sis McMurray started crying in the family history center and when Elder Christoffersen and Elder Trejo came in they kind of just stood there and stared at us awkwardly and Sis McMurray was just like "don't look at me like that!!!" I really miss her :( she was so great and so much fun. Monday we spent most of the day at a sports zone activity. We played soccer, which I sat out at first because I wasn't feeling well still and my cold was horrible, but I played for awhile then went and said goodbye to the Ryan's (the one who has a recording studio in his house) they are the best and their kids are so cute.   Thank heavens Mom’s prayer for me not to cry while I said my goodbyes was answered.  We swung by Glenda Hunts house, who is the grandma of Robert and Remo Hunt who we baptized back in March and I got to say goodbye to them. They have been doing great. It was amazing because the Sunday before I said goodbye we went to church in their ward and when I was handed the sacrament I looked up and it was Robert standing there passing it to me....can you say best feeling EVER to see someone you taught fulfilling their priesthood duties!
     That night I began packing....Ugh. I hate packing with a fiery passion! Haha!
Loved the Roosevelt smiles!
     We then went to lunch with Dusty. That was sad...Dusty is the best! He served in the Australia Perth mission with an Elder Shwartz who just happens to be the famous LDS pianist William Joseph....and so he gave me a cd that they arranged on his mission. I'm really gonna miss laughing with Dusty. He's been like our protective big brother and has helped us out and taken us hiking and all sorts of grand adventures.  I said good bye to a ton of people, then ended up at the Wilda’s.  I was pretty nervous about leaving and starting new, so I asked Bro. Wilda for a blessing. He blessed me with all these amazing things, like focus, peace, strength, and to not worry about things I can't control at home or in my future. He then blessed me that in my new area I would be able to judge situations and not people, and be able to see past premonitions or prejudices or rumors I may have heard about my new area or companion...That made me think a little bit....and confused me a lot. I didn't know a lot of other missionaries and I had only ever served in two areas and had never heard of what the other areas were like...he told me sometimes we reap and sometimes we see... The next day I couldn't help but cry some more as we hauled all my stuff out (through our basement window....) and drove away through Roosevelt. 9 months – my 2nd home.
     It was fun to see people I knew at transfers, and when President announced that I was going back to my "baby" I was like "No Way!" I was so excited! So yes I'm staying in the exact same house and I'm in the same neighborhood, and I'm working with a lot of the same people from 9 months ago. It helps because I don't have learn so many new names...but Orem is so different from Roosevelt. I'm used to teaching 20+ lessons a week? And now I'm down to 5-10ish... I was excited at first but the second I stepped back into my apartment I was flooded with all the stress, weaknesses, and frustrations  I used to feel while here 9 months ago.  Last time I was here I didn't feel like I was making a difference ever. So now I'm trying to figure out why God put me here again. Maybe it was just my ‘newness’ as a missionary.  There has to be a reason and somebody or something I need to do, I just know it...or he wouldn't have sent me back. So I have faith that he will help me understand my purpose in Orem. It's good to see some familiar faces I thought I would never see again. It's a lot harder work out here and you get exhausted a lot faster, even though there aren't as many people to teach.  Since being back, I've already had a door very rudely slammed in my face, I've chased down a car, and I've pushed a broken car down the street.
     My companion is Sister Rachel Wicker and she is an absolute sweet heart! She is so hardworking and is so inspiring to me. She has been out on her mission for 9 months and she is 22 years old. She was an only child for her first 20 years and her mom had a baby a month before she left on her mission. So she has a little baby sister. We’ve talked a lot about goal setting, staying positive, not putting ourselves down, and true beauty. I've been back on a bike which feels awesome! (Except for my rear end...that was painful for a while...) but it's nowhere near as hard as it was when I first came to Orem

With Companion # 6 Sis Wicker at the
Sunday morning session.
     I saw RG again since I left last and she is doing really good. Saturday we watched General conference with recently returning less actives who had a billion dogs....ok maybe. They had four. But they were all over us! Very distracting. They took us to lunch and then we went to a member’s house that I knew from before. Their name was the V. Saturday afternoon session was so epic! I had a few questions answered that time around and I wanted to applaud too! We then went out contacting all night and I was really tired.
      The next morning we woke up super early in order to get ready for conference and were out the door by 6:30am. We drove over in Pres McCune's car and had fun talking with him and his wife about how he used to be in a rock band, and then how we put on garage dances at our house, and a bunch of random things.
     Conference was sooooo good! I was on the floor on the very very far right facing the stand, only about five rows back, and right next to the door where all the general authorities entered! We stood near the isle in the beginning and Russell M Nelson came out and shook our hands! I was trying to squeeze through elders to get through in time, but he passed, and I stuck my hand out anyway and he turned back and said "Hello sweetie" and shook my hand. HE CALLED ME SWEETIE! And shook my hand!!! I felt like a fan girl! Haha! It was really cool. I got to shake Tad R Callisters hand and Sis Oscarson, and Jeffrey R Holland walked right in front of us and waved, and D Todd Christofferson blew a kiss at us and L Tom Perry is the cutest little old man, and we saw Dallin H Oaks, and it was AMAZING when the prophet and his councilor a walked out, not 20 feet away from where we were and the whole center stood and was so silent. It was crazy to be so up close. It was hard to focus just because we were all so star struck to be there. It was an amazing experience! The choir sounded awesome as well! I love our prophet and general authorities! They are the best!
     After we were walking through temple square to get to our cars and I saw Bradley Hunt...and then his I knew Becca was nearby and I ran over and found her and gave her a hug. AJ was there to and I was able to shake his hand and wish him well before I had to run to catch up with the other missionaries.
     By the time we got back we were just in time for the second session and I got to watch it with one of my favorite family's! The Hairs!  I do feel like I need to pack and pretty much reread all of conference because I couldn't absorb it all.   Later last night we were invited to what we thought was a family party with less actives and recent converts invited. So we show up...and it's actually a college party....I felt soooooooo awkward there talking to people and everyone flirting and being loud. It was weird. I wanted to run...but then out of nowhere popped Victoria Roberts! It was fun to see her! But she kept saying my first name… which weirded me out! Hahaha I'm going to be such an awkward RM!      Thanks for all your love and support! I love you all and miss you! I hope I didn't miss anything!

Group I went to Conference with.  Pres & Sis. McCune on right.

Sister Lenise Diane Volmer