Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 29, 2014

A did in fact get baptized and confirmed yesterday by her husband after church (so sometimes the South is sketchy and people don't get confirmed in a Sacrament meeting...). YAY FOR A!!! Probably the only hitch was on Wednesday when she texted and told us none of the suits in Monroe or West Monroe fit her or R (R played football in high school and basically he's a pretty big dude), and they were worried they'd have to postpone until some could be ordered. I was just surprised they'd thought to try on the suits ahead of time, and her concern was swallowed up in my excitement over the fact that R would be able to baptize her. We made some calls, and luckily we were on exchanges in Magnolia at the time, so the next day we just swung back through El Dorado and borrowed some of their suits. Much to A's chagrin she had to get baptized in a dress with ruffly sleeves, and a bow-tie. This fact was not made any better when she tried it on right after we'd had like a four hour car drive, lots of sugar, two exchanges, and were slap-happy (justifying...) so I might've cried I was laughing so hard. She just looked so mortified, and you all know how much I enjoy bothering people... We repented by wearing bow-tie shirts in support ;) I also made a little Sister Newman doll, so that she wouldn't have to be sad for not being able to be there. People may have thought I was creepy, but really they were just jealous that they don't have a little doll made of themselves. Wait in line people, wait in line.
In other news the work was kind of slow this week. Granted I was out of our area for two days, but alas. We could possibly blame it on one of the sisters we went on exchanges with in Magnolia; at some point during dinner, she stood on her chair and pronounced what sounded like an African curse on us (she's from, you guessed it, Africa). She claimed to have said something nice, but we guessed she was cursing our hair to fall out. Who knows, maybe she was cursing our finding efforts ;)

Love y'all bunches!
Sister Markle

Monday, September 22, 2014

September 22, 2014


As mentioned last week, I came to the conclusion that teaching with our Mission President and his wife would be pretty cool, so that's just what we did.  A was in New Orleans this weekend for school, but K brought a random friend with him to the Saturday evening session of Stake Conference, and had a different random friend sit in on our McDonough lesson.  Stake Conference must be pretty weird from the eyes of an investigator, especially this "hastening the work" business; we must seem like the most obsessed people.  From my experience, one of Elder Zwick's favorite things to talk about are ipads, so K laughed with us (but probably mostly at us ;) for being the loser missionaries that are behind the times. At the end of the session I asked them jokingly if they were pumped to be missionaries, but K just said he had a lot to think about.

Now on to the coolest lesson. K and President were essentially the only ones that spoke during the lesson, and when we left Sister McDonough was her typical humbleness and just kept saying "He is amazing, he is so amazing. I have so many questions now, I'm worried I've been superficial (in her studies)." K grew up in a nondenominational church where a lot of people did crazy stuff and chalked it up to being influenced by the Spirit to do those things, so now while he believes the Spirit leads to truth, ultimately we need concrete truths from the Bible. President talked him into understanding that his concrete source of truth involved his own interpretations, and so the Spirit's role is to bring our interpretations in line with God's. He gave him two talks to read about grace, his phone number to call and discuss his reading, and then challenged him to try out not believing in the trinity as an experiment. President is the coolest.
In other news, A (lots of investigators with first names that start with A...) is still getting baptized this Saturday, and already passed her interview. This is our District Leader's first transfer as a District Leader, so A was his very first interview. It took them like half an hour, and A emerged with all sorts of random mission stories such as a nudist colony in Slidell. Missionaries are weird.
In sad news, we forgot that Tuesday was A's birthday, and didn't call and sing to her like we had to L and K on each of their birthdays (her sister/brother-in-laws). We're failures, but she forgave us anyways :) little does she know it took me most of my life to remember my own family's birthdays.... and I still don't remember ANYONE else's... good thing we have planners to remember for us!

In other sad news we had a loser phone call this week. I don't know if I told y'all about H and P, but they were a cool couple we had an awesome first lesson with a couple weeks back. They had SO many questions about God and religion, but due to them being busy our return appointment kept getting pushed back until this Friday. Sister Parmenter called Friday afternoon to confirm the appointment, and I sat across the table from her while she got super excited, and asked if they wanted to set a date for baptism, or if we should talk about all that this evening. Her face then got super confused, and she realized that he actually hadn't told her that they'd discovered that this was the true church, but was instead asking us to not come back, because they were going to look into ALL religions (Muslim, Catholic, etc.). That conversation definitely took a turn for the worst. At least they didn't break up with us over text, right?

In STL news we had like three exchanges this week. We're pooped. We did our full exchange with the Ruston Sisters on Wednesday, and then on the way home did another one with the West Monroe Sisters from noon to 9, and then on Saturday had a baby-sized couple hour exchange with the El Dorado sisters, because their ride brought them way too early to Stake Conference. Even though West Monroe and El Dorado are double-dippers, we had a good time ;)

Love y'all oodles and boodles!
Sister Markle

P.S. I just looked up one of the talks President left with K, and it was sooooooo good. That Bruce R. McConkie sure knew his stuff. "What Think Ye of Salvation By Grace" is good stuff for anyone to read, but I may be biased because it so pointedly deals with K's concerns. Also for the past while I may have been saying that salvation by grace alone, irrespective of our own efforts, is in line with Lucifer's plan of salvation, and it's always nice to have your conclusions backed up by an apostle ;)

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15, 2014

I think my mission bucket-list is slowly coming forth point by point, because while I don't have an actual list, we find a new "mission" every time an item is accomplished. This week we decided it'd be pretty swell to teach a lesson with the McDonoughs (the Mission President and his wife...), which is realistic because they're coming for Stake Conference this weekend (Elder Zwick of the Seventy as well as an Area Seventy is also coming, because the Stake Presidency is changing). We decided to call President up, and the dream became even realistic-er. He said they had time for a lesson right before driving to Shreveport after the Sunday session, so this evening we're going to see if it would work for K and A, because we figure they'd benefit most from the McDonough's awesomeness. Story to be continued next week.

This week we had a double-dose of exchanges; I brought a West Monroe Sister to our turf Tuesday, and then stayed in Bastrop Thursday while Sister Parmenter did her first exchange in Monroe on her year mark. We also got sick. As in I'm still sick, but on the mend. Friday-Sunday were rough stuff, but we pushed through. The standards of excellence for tracting and copies of the Book of Mormon lent in the mission is 7, so that's what we did. We also gave two church tours this week, and had a couple come to church that Sister Parmenter met quick on Thursday, and we taught once on Saturday. They may have thought we were Jehovah Witnesses, which is why they let us come back Saturday (it must've been opposite day), but they were still interested even when we cleared that up. Their names are N and A. I didn't even cringe too much when the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom were brought up in Gospel Principles (both of which they aren't living...yet...), and then the Relief Society lesson was completely on temples and the work for the dead. If they're ready they're ready, but their eyes were extra glow-y when they left church, so I think that's a good sign ;)

I've been such a good little girl, and have contented myself with the one quick email Sister Creager sent me a month ago, as well as random bits of second hand information from Greenville's STLs at MLC, but last night the silence finally ended. I finally got my Greenville update. All is well in the world. Linnie's still doing awesome, steady and sure, progressing at her own pace. They had L teach them the Restoration a couple weeks ago, and when they asked her what the difference was for her this time through it as opposed to the first time we taught her it, she said that this time she knows Joseph Smith was a prophet. Too good. Operation Cleveland has been a success, they go there every single week now. ALSO a recent convert moved to Cleveland to go to the University there, so every Thursday when they work there they get to go on splits with her. The Lord provides! Ready for my super exciting, unexpected news? They had a baptism a few weeks ago, and the lady was able to go to the temple this past week, and is crazy converted to the gospel. Here's the story. A couple weeks before Sister Welch was transferred, our Zone Leader Elder Bird was on exchanges in Greenville, and gave us like ten old teaching records from their area book that were actually in our area (Elder Bird had re-opened Greenville the summer before, so that's why he was involved). Sister Welch and I didn't contact any of them, but when Sister Creager came, we steadily worked on the list. That last Thursday before transfers, we finally contacted three of our last people, one of which was the lady that got baptized! It was a crazy rainy day, and even though we were finally able to meet her, they were getting ready for a baby shower, so we weren't able to teach. We gave her a Book of Mormon, and set up the return appointment for the next week. While I'm barely involved in the story, it was still really exciting to hear, because no one has been baptized in a past area that I'd even met. Until now. Bucket list item = check.

Love you bunches!
Sister Markle

P.S. While inserting my SD card to upload some pictures, I discovered it is now empty. Luckily I'd filled my other card a few days before leaving Greenville, so there's only a few goodbye pictures that are gone forever, rather than a whole area. Monroe is gone forever though... I hadn't taken TOO many pictures, plus Sister Newman probably has most of the important ones anyways, but still. Lame.

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8, 2014

Dear Family,
Sometimes we go to Jackson for MLC, and sometimes these MLC's are a lot more exciting than others. Elder Zwick came to our mission last December and promised us that we could double our baptisms the next year through our own efforts, but through the members we could triple our baptisms. This tripling didn't happen, so people were kinda bummed, but we have a new goal! So far we're at 170, so President McDonough gave the challenge to get 33 baptism each month for the rest of the year to achieve the goal of 300 baptisms. In order to get there we talked about having a greater focus on our purpose, and having more faith to invite to baptism. We ALSO talked about how the standards for music vary greatly around the mission. There was a unanimous decision (between 30 leadershipy missionaries) to create the new standard of only listening to music sung in General Conference. Hahahahaha never thought I'd live to see the day, or though I'd be a part of the decision! Let's just say there are some angry missionaries in the MJM right now... Worth it! By the end of the year the mission's average amount of time in the field will be 4 months, so it's better changes happen now than later. Plus maybe my singing can improve now that I can listen to music again, singing to fill the silence just hasn't been pretty this past month...
Ch dropped us out of the blue on Tuesday, so that was simply absurd. She seemed pretty decided about wanting to go to her family's church instead of ours, but was super afraid of hurting our feelings. We assured her that no, we don't hate her, but also not to give up on the Church forever or stop reading the Book of Mormon. We'll see how set she is about her decision, so I guess to be continued?
K and A are tough cookies. He believes that once saved always saved, that election happened before the world was but that there's nothing you can do about this election, it was simply because of God's grace (this would make God a respecter of persons, which is simply false doctrine). Today's plan is to go back to basics, and dish up a healthy dose of Restoration and, of course, the Spirit (not to be confused with the soda Sprite).
We had our finding caps on this week, and had a really great lesson yesterday with a young couple H and P. They had a million questions for us about the Church, and random doctrinal points; it seemed like they've had hell preached to them quite a bit, because they readily accepted the doctrine of the Spirit World as a much more sense-making alternative to their Baptist view. They seemed really open, so hopefully this week we'll get to see them progress further towards the truth!

Have a blessed day!
Sister Markle
P.S. While having dinner with the Stake President and his family (they live in our ward), I discovered that his daughter-in-law is cousins to a Hermana Uribe serving in Costa Rica/trio-training none other than Hermana Markle! It's a small Mormon world after all.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September 1, 2014

Dear Family,

It's been another really good busy week. Half-way through the week I realized a mission bucket list item of mine would be to get double-digit member-present lessons one week. On Saturday night I realized we were already at eight, and that now is the time to prepare to meet God. We had already scheduled with Bailey (who got her mission call this week to serve in the Utah, Provo mission, which I have since learned is our mission! She's going to BYU after her mission, and also has a lot of family there, which is crazy, but now it means I can stalk her, and return the favor for all the times she's taken us out teaching) to see some random Baptist dude we met while tracting Saturday. The appointment was set for 7:30PM so we figured we could squeeze in an extra appointment before it, and mission accomplished. It would've been all fine and dandy too, except when it came down to actually seeing Bob the Baptist (real name) and he wouldn't answer the door. Bum bum bum. Cue us trying some potentials at 8:00 at night, and finding no one home. I went out on a limb and had us try a part-member family I'd met once before, but who had bailed on their return appointment. Success. I can now rest easy until the next whim strikes. And strike it shall.

This week really was just an all around good week teaching wise, even with it being a transfer week. We got our seven hours tracting in (even if it meant three were done Saturday, one of which was in a torrential downpour of gatos y perros), and 21 lessons taught. Good week.

We finally up and finished the lessons with A (we may or may not have been drawing them out... Did I mention she could be baptized, what, three weeks ago? She wanted this month though, so this month it is. Agency :) We gave her a copy of Preach My Gospel and told her that she'll be teaching us now. Muaaaaah. Should be fun.

Have I even told y'all about C? WELL C is the younger sister of a member named A; A converted a few years back due to an LDS friend, but went to Korea last year to teach English and hasn't been back to church since (although this is lame, she does have a Korean accent now, which is pretty cool). C graduated from high school this year, and wants to strengthen her faith in Christ/ find a church, so we've been teaching her the past few weeks. This week was really great, we were randomly able to bring a bunch of members over, get her high school friend Amber S. involved teaching her, and also help C overcome her fears and come to church! She's still not too sure of this baptism thing yet, but is steadily progressing.

I don't think you sound like Grandma May, those were cool stories. Good work, Mom!

Lots o' Love,
Sister Markle
P.S. Last week the Elders may have left their door unlocked, so someone may have borrowed Larry the depository of years worth of Elder's holiday swag. Never leave your door unlocked, it's just asking for trouble.

Sister Newman and Sister Markle
Sister Newman, Amber, Sister Markle