Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sprint to the Finish

1-26 -15 
   It is a great day to be a missionary! In fact every day is a great day to be a missionary! 
   This week has been all kinds of hard and amazingly dandy. 
Getting your Sprint Papers
    Monday was kind of crazy. We went bowling as a district at BYU for p-day but only ended up staying there for like 45 min which was pretty sad, and we had to be split up at different lanes because it was so busy there for MLK day. I then went to the BYU creamery for the first time....which is just a little ice cream shop that everyone raves about...  We then played soccer and I scored like 3 goals! It was great! That evening we had a lesson with one of our recent converts named Jake NoHorse. He is part Native American and super quiet, but when he does talk, he is hilarious! We had an amazing lesson on the atonement with him, and we watched For God So Loved the World, which is one of the new bible videos that I highly recommend you watch. We then went to an FHE where I probably had the worst bashing of "On my mission" by sister RMs that I've experienced so far. Haha! When you serve in Utah, everyone thinks they had it harder than you on their mission and they like to go on and on about how much harder they worked and the crazy things they encountered. Especially when they find out we have ipads and an iphone. It's not like I picked Utah for myself or I'm lesser because I'm serving here. But I wouldn't choose anywhere else to serve. :) It doesn't make me a worse missionary or mean that I have a weak testimony because I'm serving here, so I'm good where I am :)
     Tuesday we got canceled on a lot, but had a very busy evening. We met with Candace again, who is getting baptized this upcoming Saturday afternoon. We had a bit of a struggle meeting with the bishop and stake president and then her older sister to make sure that she was being baptized in the right ward and that she wanted to stay in YSA. But overall it all worked out and she is doing well.
     Wednesday was a little crazy. We had to get up early so that we could get to our district meeting on time because we had interviews with President McCune. They went super well. President McCune is so inspired and in tune with the spirit. We all talk about how he is going to be a general authority one day, but he always says he just wants to be called to work in the nursery after he is released haha :) He is an amazing man, and I don't think I've met a single person who hasn't talked to him and really liked him. I'm so grateful to be serving under his direction. He is exactly the mission president I needed, and I'm glad that I've been able to have him my whole mission.
Sprint to the finish - does she look happy to have 3 months left?
     After interviews, we went home for lunch and in the mail box I received a big white envelope. I instantly wanted to throw it away! I knew exactly what it was even before I opened. Three months before a missionary goes home, they receive what are called "Sprint Papers"...but most of the missionaries in our mission call them "Trunky papers" ...but I like to refer to them as sprint papers. It's a letter from the mission president thanking you for your service so far, and then there is a "Pledge to Sprint" Certificate that you sign and hang up on your wall so you can look at it. If you sign it, it means you pledge to sprint to the end of your mission. To work hard and dedicate your all to the fullest to these last months. It's actually pretty neat. It explains how the Olympic games in Ancient Greece included a 26 mile marathon across the most mountainous part of the Balkan Peninsula, and how the runners would set speedy paces...but the real winner was the one who reached inside himself during the last mile and sprinted to the end. The certificate says "Therefore, having run on my mission at my specific pace, I now pledge to sprint to the end. I promise to reach deep within myself and find an amazing inner strength to perform such as I have never performed before; to never neglect any opportunity to share the precious gem of the gospel, to cry repentance with urgency, to serve God and my fellow men with all I have, lest the adversary overtake me. I want to obtain the laurels of eternal life for myself and others. I have carefully considered the strong implications of this promise--for I do not make promises lightly-- and I am willing to stand by my word. I witness it to all this day." and then it says at the bottom "This is the most important race I have yet run. "And then gives the scriptures 1 Corinthians 9:24. It really motivated me to make these last few months count. It really is such an amazing experience, and I want so many to attain for themselves the blessings of Heaven through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But it takes obedience, dedication, and hard work on my part. I've learned that the simplest things can make up the biggest changes. 
     Later that night we met with B, who is a returning member we have been teaching. She works at a psych hospital with a lot of crazies and she has a lot of really funny stories to tell us all the time. Watching her change and strengthen her testimony has been an amazing experience. She fed us dinner this week and made us breakfast for dinner. 
Bruised knuckles.....
....from knocking doors....or makeup artist?
     Thursday we got canceled on a lot too. One of the guys we teach is named J and slept through his alarm and was an hour late to the lesson. He said that there were so many things getting in his way of coming to the lesson. He slept through his alarm, he started getting sick, and then he got a random bloody nose, and then traffic was horrible getting to the lesson...but he said he knew that Satan was just trying to make it so he wouldn't get to the lesson...So he felt like he must really need it if Satan was working so hard. We had some great discussions on Faith Hope and Charity and we were able to help him with some questions he had. It went really well. We also saw J that day. She is just out of high school. She is hilarious  and has gone to beauty school and all other sorts of things, and so she was showing us all of her different makeup and stuff and showed us how she knows how to do fake wounds and what not. So I asked if she could show me, so she put makeup on my hand to make it look like I had bruised knuckles. It was actually pretty cool and I wasn't able to wash it off for a few lessons, so some people kept asking me what had happened to my hand and were able to have a good laugh. 
       Sunday was crazy busy and last night we had a huge fireside with the whole YSA stake. The stake presidency was putting it on with their wives and it was all about eternal marriage and fear in forming eternal families. They all spoke and sat on a panel while they had Q&A from the audience about marriage, dating, and all sorts of other things. It was actually really interesting and hilarious. One of the wives got up and talked about how she always thought her love life would be like Pride and Prejudice where Mr. Darcy is walking through the field towards her and it would be a magical moment. She then talked about how she saw her husband her sophomore year of high school and she said it was her field moment. He said he had no idea that had even happened...and that he hated Pride and Prejudice and thought all love stories should be like the one from Rocky, between Rocky and Adrian, which had all the guys laughing. It was really funny and really spiritual...if not a little awkward for the two sister missionaries sitting a few rows back ;) haha. I did run into a girl from EFY while I was there though! Her name is Savanah and it was good to see her! :) 
      Transfers is next week, so start praying that Sis Gulbranson and I will stay together! We really are! We want to so bad! It will be my first companion I'd have for three transfers! Let’s see if I can break my cycle of 2,1,2,1,2,1,2 transfers with a companion. 
     Overall it was super fun week and a lot of growing happened for me. I'm so thankful for the hand of the Lord in my life and also in the lives of those I teach. This is truly His work, and He knows what He is doing. I'm grateful he trusts me enough to let me teach his children and help bring them unto Christ. I love being a missionary. I love you all and hope you all have a great week! Keep in touch!!! Miss you!
Sister Lenise Diane Volmer
p.s.  Happy Birthday to Sharee!! And I shall keep the pregnant sisters in my prayers! Keep me in the loop when those little boys get here!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Missionary for 15 months!

Lenise hasn't sent pics the last few weeks so I'm finding some of my own.
Dearest Family,
     So this last Friday I had my 15 month mark in the mission. It was kind of crazy and a little surreal. I've gotten to the point where I don't really like telling people how long I've been on my mission because when I do it's usually followed by "Wow! You are going home soon!" Which I'm pretty sure no missionary likes to hear… But it's crazy to think that I've been a missionary that long when sometimes it feels so short. But I've also realized that I have changed a lot in the past 15 months and being a missionary has become all I know. I can't imagine the day when I won't be constantly running around all over town visiting people and knocking on doors with cold chapped knuckles, and sitting on lumpy college student couches teaching the good word of God will holding my tattered Scriptures. It's been an amazing 15 months, and it seems like they just get better. So… I decided I'd share some things that you learn once you've been a missionary for 15 months… Well not exactly learn but what become facts in your mind. For example, sleeping in is a fairytale. It's a myth. It's something that other people talk about to taunt you as a missionary. The concept of sleeping in sounds too good to be true and it something that you haven't done for over a year. Another one is you only back your car up if there somebody guiding you from the outside. It sounds stupid and I've been frustrated at that rule a lot… But it's become such a part of our routine but I feel like I can't throw the car into reverse without needing somebody to stand behind me and motion to me. I'm pretty sure I'll get over that one when I get home pretty fast. Another thing that seems like it can never change is studying for two hours every day in the Scriptures and in preach my gospel. Everybody says that missionaries try really hard to keep up their study routine after the Mission, but they say it never lasts long. They say they go straight back to only studying the Scriptures for 15 minutes… Which I almost can't understand because I feel like I don't get anything out of it after only 15 minutes. My day feels incomplete without two hours of immersing myself in gospel study...but I know that probably won't last when I need to be studying different things for college classes. It’s crazy how overtime different aspects of being a missionary become so routine and ingrained into me, and yet I know that once my time is up they will be gone and it will feel so so strange. Other little things, like reading my text messages out loud to my companion before I send them off, is going to be hard adjusting to just reading them on my own haha. And things like taking my name tag off at night, looking at my name next to the Savior's and reporting to him mentally on how well I represented him that day. I love the little things. Being a missionary has brought so much perspective, that I hope to keep. This week went really well! We've been having a lot of work and this next week should be even busier!

      On Tuesday we went on exchanges with the STL’s (Sister Training Leaders). My companion for the day was Sis Naef, who is actually from the Tri-Cities as well. We flew out on the same flight together and have been out for the exact same amount of time. It was a really busy day and we got a lot of contacting and work done. It was funny because Sis. Gulbranson went with Sis M, and Sis M had to go get an ingrown toenail removed. She said it was quite the adventure! This last week we received two referrals for nonmembers who wanted to meet with us. We started teaching both of them and they are both really interested in the gospel! The first one is named P. He was raised most of his life atheist and even participated in some games and other rough things in his life. He is super quiet and really willing to listen to us. He said he was atheist until one day he was driving around in his truck and stopped by a nearby field. He said he felt the need to pray, and really felt like somebody was listening to him. There was a family that took him to church with them for a couple of years but when they moved away he stopped because of anxiety. He wound up at church one day with his mom at an RM's homecoming talk. The RM just happened to be a new ward missionary in one of our wards and lives just down the street from him. We were able to meet him and he was super interested and willing to set up a time to meet with us. We invited him to be baptized at his lesson this last week but he said it was a really big step and that he didn't want to take it lightly which is understandable.
     Our other new investigator is named J. He has actually gone through all of the missionary discussions before, and even pass his baptismal interview, but then dropped the missionaries because he didn't want to make a promise that he knew he couldn't keep. He had addiction to cigarettes for a really long time, but over this last summer he totally quit, and contacted the missionaries again.  We met with him twice this last week and he is on date for February 6 to be baptized! He's progressing really fast and we are just reviewing the lessons with him because he knows most of it and has a strong testimony!
     The work is really beginning to pick up and we are super excited! Sis Gulbranson and I just really hope that we get to stay together longer, because transfers are coming up in a few weeks. We have interviews with President McCune this upcoming week which is pretty exciting.

      This last week J (a different J) has been avoiding us. We saw him last Monday at an FHE activity, it was the first one that he had been to in a while. He seemed like he was having a lot of fun and we had pretty high hopes that he was getting back on track. But then He canceled on us twice and Sister Gulbranson and I are starting to get really frustrated. We've been trying really hard but if he doesn't want it there's nothing we can really do. If you could keep him in your prayers I would really appreciate it.
      Today for district activity we are going to BYU campus to go bowling and to pick up a new journal for Sister Gulbranson. We hope it ends up working out because a lot of the missionaries in our district have been feeling sick. There is a really nasty flu or virus going around here that knocks people out for a week or two. I was worried I was getting it because last night I had some pretty severe stomach pain during our coordination meeting with our ward mission leaders. I had to lay down and rest a little bit. This morning I still wasn't feeling too great and I didn't really feel like eating, but now I'm feeling lots better.

      That is super neat that Uncle Mitch got called as the bishop! He will do a fantastic job!
     I love you all and have been praying for all of you. Miss you and hope all is well! Keep in touch!
Love ya lots,
Sister Lenise Diane Volmer

Monday, January 12, 2015

It's Not about Happy endings, but endless Happiness


Dear Family,
     Hey. So this week was pretty random. There wasn't anything crazy or like super exciting that happened, like our heater breaking or general authorities visiting or stuff like that...but it was still a really really good week. You don't need crazy awesome or weird things happening like that to have an amazing mission. I think this week, I just really enjoyed the simple, small, spiritual moments that happen on a regular basis. I mean, I know there are some stellar awesome miracle moments in this work...but to be honest, most of the time they are the tiny imperceptible moments that can pass you by if you aren't looking close enough. I think this week I really tried to focus on keeping my eyes open for them. 
     This week, the work finally picked back up after the holidays. Not as many people canceled, and we were actually able to get ahold of people again! Thank Heavens! We did a lot of making cookies to help us get in doors, and also to help share how much we appreciated our ward mission leaders. Our ward mission leaders in the YSA stake are phenomenal! Most of them are fresh RMs who are so excited about the work and so focused. I've had great WMLs before, but this group of guys that we have are hard core and focused. They are so organized. We've received three new ward mission leaders within the past week, so we've had to train and update them pretty closely as they come in. Our High Councilman is really good, and trains them each meeting on what they can do better. I have to accredit a lot of our success in this area to the devotion and focus of our ward mission leaders. 
     So this week we taught this guy named A, who was a convert back when he was in high school, but fell away when all of his friends left to go on missions. He lived like a hippy for a while in Seattle for a summer, and looked a lot into Buddhism and nature...haha. He is a super chill guy and really nice. We've been going through the lessons with him, because he virtually knows nothing. This week when we met with him he had a friend with him named D who is Less active, and sat in on the lesson. We were teaching about the Plan of Salvation, and his friend D asked a really good question, that I've never thought about before. He said "Why did God create us as imperfect beings? If He is all powerful, and He is the one who made us, why didn't he just make us perfect to begin without, so He wouldn't have to go through all this trouble." That one stumped me for a second. But you'd be surprised what the spirit lets come out of your mouth when you have no idea what to say. I began explaining to him, that we were created perfectly, the way God wanted us to be. But he gave us our own minds, our own agency, so that we could grow and develop as our own beings. We developed personalities on our own. We probably were growing and making mistakes even before this life. We are eternal beings. We can't wrap our minds around it now, but we are probably imperfect now, because of the freedom of will that God has given all his creations. It was interesting to think about.
     This week, because of the new semester in all the surrounding colleges here, they had an institute opening social. Except it wasn't just any social, the stake presidency had been letting the students submit questions, and that night they went through a bunch of the doctrinal questions and answered them. They also took questions from the audience, and it was really interesting. We got into a lot of discussion about the difference between God being pleased with you vs. God being satisfied with you. We also talked about how God is the perfect parent. He loves us with no strings attached. He loves us perfectly and constantly. If you obey the commandments he doesn't love you more than someone who doesn't. He doesn't love you less because someone seems more successful than you. Sure he has goals he wants for you to achieve, but that doesn't change the way he feels about you at all. Love, with no strings attached
     So random fact....this week I was fed sword was strange. It tasted like concentrated ocean meat form. It was really weird. I don't know how to describe it...and I'm still trying to decide whether I liked it or not...
     Friday was a really good day. We had Zone Training Meeting and we had some really good discussions. Zone meetings can sometimes humble you a ton and make you feel like you need to do so much better in your area and sometimes Zone meetings make you feel like a rock star missionary! This zone meeting was pretty evenly balanced between the two... which is good if they can do that. Sis Reed always called it the "Puff, puff, break, puff" method. Pretty much Encourage, encourage, chastise, encourage. Haha. But it was really cool, because we read from the New Testament the parable of the lost sheep. I've read it a billion times, just like every missionary has, but we discussed it differently. We talked about the Wilderness. Christ says in the parable that the shepherd searches in the wilderness for his lost sheep. And it made me think. Wildernesses are hard...and not very fun. I've told you before that being a missionary is no cake walk. It's hard. You struggle a lot. But that's the way it's supposed to be. This land is my wilderness in which I search for God's sheep. It's difficult and trying, but boy am I so so grateful for it. Because this wilderness, though hard, has become a sacred place for me.  God isn't all about happy endings, but endless happiness. 
     Saturday we also had a bajillion people show up for our volleyball finding activity! It was great! I hope we get the same turn out next week!
     Well I hope you all have an amazing week! I know mine will be! We have lots planned! I miss you all and love you lots!!! Stay positive! :) 
Sister Lenise Diane Volmer

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy New Year's

Dearest Family!
Mom hopes those icicles are clean!!
     Happy New Year!!! It is still kind of mind boggling to me that it is 2015. Just thinking about this year and all the potential it holds leaves me feeling a little overwhelmed...This year is going to hold a lot of changes and a lot of growing for me...But I'm excited. No matter what happens, I have a feeling this year is going to make me really happy...which I don't know how that's even possible because 2014 was SO good! I don't know how anything could beat it! I think I loved 2014 so much because it was my year. From day #1 to day #365 I was able to be a full time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints. I can't say that about 2013 or 2015. 2014 was the year I learned and grew so much. Never have I had such a hard, trying, new, growing, amazing year in my life. But this last year was full of a lot of growth...and this next year is going to be filled with a lot of firsts. And though I don't think any of us get away from this life without a few regrets, I love New Year’s because it means looking to the future, and reminds me of when the Lord told Lott's wife "Look Not Behind Thee." We get a chance to start clean. I wrote up a whole bunch of goals for this upcoming year. I'll have to send you a copy! So far they are going really well! And I'm expecting to hear about everyone else's goals this week! So don't disappoint! :) But I highly recommend you read two different talks this week as you welcome the New Year. "Of Regrets and Resolutions" By Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and "We are the Architects of our own Happiness" by Elder Gerald Cause'
     This last week...not gonna lie...was pretty slow....Everyone was still getting over the Holiday hangover and so we had a lot of people cancel on us and we did a lot of roaming around trying to contact people and find people. But we had 3 referrals this week for interested potential investigators! That's crazy! So we are really hopeful to be able to meet them and start teaching them! I'll let you know what happens and how it goes! 
     This week was.......interesting.  It was weird, kind of hard and kind of funny at the same time. Tuesday was pretty normal. We are working really hard with this guy named B. He wants so badly to be good and righteous and to serve a mission. I fasted for him yesterday, because I want him to overcome his problems so bad! We also met with this less active named C who is returning. He just recently received the Aaronic priesthood and now is getting his patriarchal blessing soon! We are so excited for him! He is HILARIOUS and cracks so many jokes. He's 23, has a 4 year old daughter, and is divorced. He has custody of this super super cute little girl who is an absolute sweet heart. Her name is B. We are working with him towards getting the Melchezdic priesthood, and it's been great! It was hilarious because this week we taught him about fasting and then at church yesterday he said he was doing it...and then later we saw him make 3 trips to the water fountain and when he saw us staring he just smiled all oblivious and was like "I have no idea why I'm so thirsty!" hahahaha we couldn't stop laughing...and didn't know if we should remind him that was fast Sunday and make him feel guilty because he totally forgot in the middle of his fast! haha! 
     So....Wednesday was crazy! New Year’s man....So we got signed up to do a huge service project at the Provo Mall off University Ave. All the missionaries in the surrounding zones worked at the mall from 5-9pm New Year’s because the mall was putting on this huge part for New Year’s! They had food, fireworks, face painting, a scavenger hunt, rock wall climbing, karaoke, concerts, minute to win it, and a bunch of other stuff. (We saw Disney princes walking around, and Batman and Spider man asked if they could take a picture with us! Haha!) The missionaries all got these official lanyards to wear around our necks and we were in charge of admissions at all the mall entrances....Remember how last week I wrote in my email about kindness....and how it's kind of a dying art? Well...I saw a lot of super kind people...and a lot of some super not kind people while working admissions! We had to help them get their wrist bands on and I was in charge of money....which I never want to do again....stressful!!! There was this one group of drummers that came through in full body spandex suits which was really funny...There were two elders I had never met before with us at our table named Elder Latu (Tongan but from Texas) and Elder Vineyard (He was a brand new Greeny and super funny) We had a good time with them, and if anyone was trying to intimidate us, Elder Latu just stood there looking all Boss and had his hands clasped in front of him like a bouncer. It was awesome! There was this one guy who came through who really bugged me. We weren't allowed to accept anything over $20 bills and he showed up with a whole group of kids and tried to pay with a $100. When we told him we couldn’t accept it and that he would have to go around to the main entrance to break it, he got all flustered and was like "You are seriously going to make me load all my kids back up in 20 degree weather outside? I thought you guys were missionaries?! Is that what Christ would do?" He kept asking over and over again and patronizing and saying "I thought you were missionaries!" It was making me  mad. Because first of all....We represent Jesus Christ...and if Jesus Christ was sitting at the ticket counter I'm pretty sure that guy would not have been saying those things to him. Also as missionaries, we keep rules, and try to be as polite as we can about it. We have standards and we stick to them. So all of us were a little on edge, and we called one of the managers who came and helped the guy, so that we didn't have to deal with him. It was a crazy night, and by the end of it we were dead tired and just wanted to go to bed.
Warming up worshiping the Heat Gods
        Man....But this week was not a good week for sleep for me! On New Year ’s Day our land lords were out of town in California....and our Heater broke. heat in 15 degree weather outside! Haha! I'm not even lying. Our house got down to 50 degrees and we were at a loss for what to do... we kept messing with the thermostat and stuff, but nothing worked! We put the heater on 85 degrees and nothing happened. We were so cold we were all bundled up inside our house in coats, and when we went to bed we stole all the extra blankets we could find in the spare room and we wore our thickest socks and sweatshirts and pajamas before climbing in bed. My feet were so cold I had to unthaw them with a blow dryer! I was a sister missionary Popsicle! Haha! Adventures adventures! Remember Mom, that one time I told you I would rather serve somewhere cold than hot....I take it back....I was cold! 
     But late that night the McCauslands called us back and were just getting home from their trip. So around 11:30pm we climbed out of bed and Elder McCausland came over and checked it all out. He found the problem and gave us a little Buddy Heater to keep us warm until the next day when he could get a new part for the heater. We were up pretty late that night! But the heat is back on now and we are doing dandy!
     Also cool experience! I was able to have dinner this week in this super old house in Provo. And guess whose house it used to be?! Inez of the very first Sister missionaries!!! It was super cool!!! Really neat experience.
     Well I love and miss you and can't wait to hear from all of you! Keep on keeping on and have a happy new year! Don't worry I'm healthy and have been escaping this flu bug that seems to be hitting everyone!      Love you to the moon and back!
Sister Lenise Diane Volmer

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2nd Christmas as a missionary!

Always grateful for yummy meals - even Roast
twice in one day.
Dearest Family of Mine,
     Seeing you all this week was seriously THE BEST! I hope you all had an amazing Christmas. I counted after I got off facetime with you and realized that I was trying to concentrate on 15 different people all trying to talk to me and watch me on the big screen! Haha! I'm sorry if I was a little scattered and distracted. I was watching little children play on slides and with basketball hoops while Leisha made puppets out of her hands in front of the camera and Kelsy made weird faces at me...not to mention the pregnant belly contest that went down! haha! I still can't believe that both Leisha and Kayla went hunting this last week while guys are nuts! 
           This week has been absolute chaos! Haha. It was a fun and spiritual week, but seriously so slow when it comes to teaching. All the YSA went home for Christmas and we had so many people call and cancel on us...Over Christmas eve and Christmas day we only had one lesson....which was pretty frustrating. Spending Christmas over YSA is nothing like doing it in a family ward. It's the opposite of being fed 7 meals like I did last Christmas. Everybody was very busy and didn't want to see us, so we wandered around a lot and it finally snowed buckets and buckets...It is snowing as I type right now. I can see it out the library window. It just won't stop...And I have to drive in it.... 
      Monday was just really busy. We got all our shopping and stuff done, and then we had a zone activity to practice for our talent for the multi-zone Christmas conference the next day. 
Pretty fancy decorations!

     Tuesday was super fun and such an amazing day!!!! We had a blast at the Christmas zone conference. We had a guest speaker named Chad Hawkins come and visit us. He is an LDS artist who draws/paints pictures of temples and always has secret hidden pictures inside them. He was amazing and gave such a good talk on the sacredness of temples and different symbolism in each one. He talked a lot about being like a temple and fortifying ourselves. It was really neat when he put a picture up of my favorite temple, and I realized I had seen the picture before. It was the exact same picture of the Portland temple I had been given my senior year as a gift from my Young Women leaders that hung on my bedroom wall above my bed for the longest time! I hadn't realized he was the artist and it was really cool to meet him and hear of his experiences! Our mission president and his wife then stood up and gave a little message of their own. They put up this beautiful painting that Simon Dewey had created specifically for the Utah Provo mission (I can't remember if I told you, but our mission is getting split this upcoming summer and they are making an Orem mission) It is a gorgeous painting of the New Provo City Center temple, with the Utah mountains in it and a wheat field and a beautiful sunrise and the Savior Standing with his arm outstretched to the temple. I'll have to send you a picture of it. It is gorgeous! They gave us each temple recommend holders with a copy of the painting on it and it was so cool! It was funny because as President McCune was talking he said something along the lines of "when you go out tonight and invite someone to be baptized..." Sis Gulbranson and I turned and smiled at each other because we had a lesson with Jordan that night and neither of us thought he was ready to try to take that step again. We've been working with him for a long time, and we both believed him to still be seeking his answer. After the fireside we had lunch which was really fun to meet up with Sisters I haven't seen in a while. Sis Child and I sat next to each other and spent the whole time laughing and joking. We were probably the loudest table because apparently I said something really funny that made everyone laugh really hard and president leaned over from his table and said "What on earth is so funny!" and I was so embarrassed and Sis Child was just like "Oh Sister Volmer, I haven't seen her in forever and I forgot how funny she was!" hahaha! Sometimes I just say stupid things...and others interpret them as funny....I have no idea why ;) haha. We then had a talent show! Our zone did our act, which was a little ditty to the song Be a Man from Mulan, only we had rewritten the words to "Be Elders!" It was hilarious! I sent the video to my mom, so if you want to see it, message her! I'm pretty sure we won! Even though it wasn't a competition. I also sang the Girl in 14G...which I hadn't sung in over a year, so it was a little hard to dust off my vocal cords after not having sung a song that strenuous in so long. But I think it went okay. Everyone keeps telling me I need to study vocal performance in college...but I'm still debating...who knows. It's a hard career path to pursue...Sis Child also sung a funny rendition of "I'll be home for Christmas!" only she changed the words to "I'll call home this Christmas! You can count on me. There's no snow....or mistletoe....Don't even have a tree....Christmas eve will find me...wandering the streets...I'll call home this Christma
Christmas eve tradition.....
s....and then be home by spring!!!" haha we came out together and would sing together all the time in the MTC. I love that girl!

      After the zone conference we had a wonderful dinner with our High councilman over missionary work. We had an excellent discussion with them on Christmas spirit and also talked alot about how people aren't very friendly generally anymore. We talked about civility experiments, and people reactions when you are actually kind to them! Like actually sincerely asking how a grocery clerk's day is, or sincerely thanking a waitress for their help and service. We need a little more warmth and kindness in this world. pajamas - sewn by Mom
     Then....we had our lesson with J....and I can say that it was probably one of the best experiences of my whole mission. We were teaching him about the importance of making covenants, and we read with him from Mosiah 18:8-10. He read verse 10 and when he read the phrase "What have ye against being baptized" he stopped and was quiet for a long time. We asked him what his thoughts were and he said "That question just really hit me....because all the answers I have for it aren't good enough...." We sat there shocked for a little while. We taught him some more about the priesthood and temple covenants and then Sis Gulbranson bore super powerful testimony of the importance of covenants, and then powerful testimony of all the times he had said he had felt the spirit really strongly during our lessons, or during Chayanne's baptism, and then she said "If you aren't ready to answer this question, you don't have to. But, will you follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the proper authority of God?" He sat there in silence for a long moment...and then he gave the absolute best answer every missionary wants to hear. He said ".....Yes.....Yes of course....Yes of course I will Sis Gulbranson! You are so right. I never thought of those experiences but the way you put it, I have received my answer. It's just like Sis Volmer said last lesson, this life is like a cross country race. I may not know where the finish line is and it may be out of site...but I'll never get there if I stop running. I need to move forward. so...Yes." Sis G and I were probably smiling like idiots as we invited him to meet with Pres. Farnsworth for an interview...He was just glowing after he said yes. Like Light beams were shooting out of him, I swear! It was the best moment ever! We've been praying and fasting for him so much and worrying and stressing...and for him to say yes....when we finally walked out of his house and he closed the door we started jumping up and down and hugging each other!!! It was soooooo GREAT! Man I love this Gospel! The Lord is so aware of us! Christmas miracle if I do say so myself! That was all I really wanted for Christmas. And I got it. I'm so happy with J,

Opening gifts
        The next morning we were up and opening gifts and having breakfast! We had lunch with Jeff's family when it finally started snowing! It snowed a lot...haha. We then went home and that's when I got to talk to all of you! Afterwards we went to this girls house named Sadie and had dinner with her family. It was super fun but we felt really unproductive because we weren't teaching anybody....which was discouraging even though it was Christmas. When you are a missionary all you want to do is teach! and when you can't you kinda wanna go bonkers! The next day was better for teaching and this weekend went so much better. Sunday we spoke in the stake combined sacrament meeting...and then got called up to the pulpit by one of the stake presidency and asked in front of everyone if we would teach an impromptu Sunday school class because one of the teachers had do you say no? GAH! So scary! We taught the Restoration off the top of our heads and had a really great discussion with a lot of RMs in our class.  If we put Jesus first and then Others first, and then spells J.O.Y. That is the key to true happiness everyone. I love you all and hope you have a great new years! I will be sending out thank you cards soon! Love you all the moon and back and miss you!
Love Forever,
Sister Lenise Diane Volmer