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'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 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 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'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 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 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