Monday, March 16, 2015

My Testimony

DEAR FAMILY!

I CANT WAIT TO SEE YOU!

This week was crazy. It is 70 degrees today and I got asked to give a talk on my last Sunday here...can you believe it? One more week!

Wow, I seriously can't believe this will be my last email home. Honestly, it feels great cause I am so SICK of computer screens! But I am still so lucky because I have one more week to dedicate to the Lord. How blessed am I! I decided, this being my last email, it would be well worth it to bear my testimony instead of boring you about my crazy week. I have come to realize that I am not too fond of bearing my testimony because words can't even begin to express what is in my heart. So bear with me.

I love Heavenly Father so much for loving me. I was reading over my journal entry from when I was set apart as a missionary and one of the promises stood out to me as I now come to the close of my mission. He said "my testimony will grow immensely and whenever I am discouraged, turn to Christ. He will wrap His arms around me and comfort me." My mission has been so hard. I realize this is not unique to me. When I was in the MTC, I had this grand idea of the missionary I was going to be. As I started my journey I realized that I would never become that missionary. I wish I could say I was perfectly obedient, I was not. I wish I could say I brought many people to the waters of baptism, I did not. I wish I could say I held many leadership positions, but I did not. I am not who I wanted to be but I am what Heavenly Father wanted me to be. I have an unshakable testimony of my Savior. And I would do this all over again, walk through hell and back just to show Satan what's up. I am not perfect. Thank goodness our ticket to heaven is not determined by our performance as a missionary! Our ticket to heaven is determined by our ability to get back up every time we fall. Man, am I so thankful for every single moment that I fell because every time I fell, I fell one step closer to Christ. I have felt His arms around me in many ways throughout this journey and oh, how much He loves me. I wish I could say more about who He is but I can't even think of anything more beautiful about Him than His ability to love me unconditionally even when I give Him so many reasons not to. Are we not so blessed? Simply that is it, the essence of everything we do. The reason I gave up a year and a half of my life. The reason I get up every time I fall. The reason why we time and time again make the harder but better choice. HE IS THE REASON. He is everything to me and I am so thankful for the time He has invested in me. I love this gospel, I love that there are always second chances and that hope is the beautiful message we share everyday. There are always GOOD THINGS TO COME.

Thank you to everyone that was there for me that got me where I am today. You didn't give up on me and you helped me become something so much more. Mom and Dad--thank you. You mean the world to me. Your example and strength is the only reason I am here. Allison and Justin--I love you. Thank you for loving me even when I wasn't the best example. Don't forget how much I love you! Thank you to everyone else who loved me as well. You are amazing and, of course...

BLESS YOUR HEART!

LOVE-SISTER LUNDSKOG
On a lighter note, we had gumbo and I ate squid!

Then I had catfish for the first time and it was really good!

Monday, March 9, 2015

You Can't Pick and Choose

Hey Family!

Well, this week was crazy! I felt like we were so busy and doing so much yet got nothing done. Don't know how that works but it is okay!

So our investigators--I am so close to Quinten and Sister Capshaw and we have been having some amazing lessons with them. They are definitely going to be the people I miss the most when I leave Paris. I love them and there is so much potential for Quinten. They are amazing! We call Sister Capshaw "Mama Capshaw" haha.

Karen is doing well. We had the most calm and not contentious lesson I have ever had with her in my life. We talked about prayer and it was good. I still feel like she is trying to pick and choose what she wants but we will see how it goes. She has a huge issue with authority right now. She doesn't think it's necessary. If you have the Holy Ghost then you don't need authority, you just need the spirit. Which I know sounds simple when I say it to you guys but in lessons with her, it is so hard to make that point because she just idk...the way she is I guess.

Rosa--we might have to have the drop talk. We go over every Monday, Friday, and Saturday and she was asleep both Monday and Friday and just didn't answer the door on Saturday. She needs to decide if this is something she really wants to make a part of her life. We are going to share President Holland's talk "If You Love Me" and see what it is she wants.

WE GOT IN TOUCH WITH DUSTY AND BRIANNA so we are now teaching them again. Yay! Dusty got really sick so she was praying for the first time in a month, because she was mad at God, and guess who knocked on the door? We did! Miracles.

This week was weird. I now only have two weeks left. Crazy!!! I am just trying to enjoy every minute of my life until I come home and then enjoy it even more! Life is so good. I love my Heavenly Father so much.

Love - Sister Lundskog
Reunited with Sister Robertson

Monday, March 2, 2015

Snow, Snow, Snow!

Dear Family,

Well, this week was crazy! We got hit with so much snow! So lets see, Saturday night it started snowing and didn't stop until like 11:00 on Sunday. Church was definitely cancelled this week which was a bummer!

Tracting with Sister Uta'i
The highlight of this week is probably the zone leader training we had. We had to head up to the stake center. The trainings were amazing and it was great to get to see everyone. But, unfortunately, they left time for the soon-to-be-departing missionaries to bear their testimonies. That was really hard cause I feel like that isn't me, but it is! Crazy.

We had a super hard lesson with Karen this week. It was super beneficial but super difficult. We kind of had a heart to heart with her. This week she got sick and so a member and his wife and kids came and gave her a blessing. She had a lot a lot of questions about the priesthood and, pretty much, authority doesn't matter to her. She doesn't understand why we keep trying to prove our authority which was weird because she was super hung up on finding out how Lehi had authority to leave Jerusalem, you know? She then just started bashing on the members and was just so unkind and so I just had to stand up to her. It was cool to see that she realized that she is seeking perfection and not opening her heart to accepting everything. We told her this isn't a pick and choose, it's all or nothing. So then we get a text from her on Sunday. She went to Indiana to visit her daughter (who is a member) and the missionaries came over. They gave her an object lesson and then invited them to go out with them and visit and tract and contact referrals. Karen said she has a LOT  to tell us and it sounds like she has had some breakthroughs so we will see what happens. Brother Randolph told me that before I leave Karen has to commit to baptism because he believes I'm the one who can help her. I don't know about that but I do know we are helping her come closer to God day by day.

We had a chili cook off this week as a branch! That was super fun and really good. Lots of members came, too, so it was good to see branch support! We tried to get gators to come but everyone was busy.

Rosa is doing really well. She has been studying all week to pass her GED tests. She passed three of them this week!!! So that was awesome and she will be able to focus more time on studying the scriptures and coming to church. I was really bummed that church was cancelled this week. We had a member lesson with Rosa, though, and talked about Prophets and it was so cool to see because she wants to go to Salt Lake and see and hear them live. It's cool to see people change and to grow.

We went tracting this week in a little town called Vermillion. It was 16 degrees that day and super windy so we about died haha. We had to take breaks in the car so we could thaw before we went back out.

Saturday was super fun because we got to do a bunch of service. We helped the Capshaws rearrange their whole living room and then we helped Rosa rearrange her house. A lot of manual labor picking up couches and TVs and stuff. I LOVED IT. It felt really good.

Anyway, it is crazy to know that we just finished one week. It flew by! But I am just so grateful for another week to serve my Heavenly Father. I love you all so much! Have a wonderful and warm week :)

Sister Lundskog

Monday, February 23, 2015

God Loves Us and I Love Paris!

Dear Family-

Hey! I am so sorry I didn't send a blog letter last week. It was a little off since we weren't emailing on a normal Monday and we had president interviews that day so my apologies.

Well, this week was eventful and sooo cold! On Monday it snowed and cars were grounded all day. So that was kind of lame. But it was okay since there isn't anything to do in Paris anyway haha but we still love it.

On Tuesday we had interviews and they went really well. We had a lesson with a new investigator, his name is Josh and we got to meet his wife, Amanda. Amanda is not very interested, she believes in Buddhism and a higher power and all that crazy stuff and doesn't believe in Christ. I have realized on my mission the times I have the hardest time teaching and I lose patience the quickest because it kills me to hear someone say about Christ "He was just a man and he may have walked this earth." But I know those are they who need our love the most. We are hoping she will sit in on the lessons and over time something will hit home with her.

We worked at the food pantry on Wednesday! It was freezing and it definitely snowed a lot and I definitely almost hit a parked car sliding. Please pray for me! I can't tell you how many poles I have almost taken out in this snow. LOL I don't know how people drive in it but thank goodness for husbands that do all the driving one day right? Just kidding!

We had exchanges this week. It was really hard on Sister Uta'i cause she has only been here a week so she doesn't know anyone. But my exchange went really well. I got to go to Springfield! Do you guys remember when we went there? I drove by the Lincoln museum but let me tell you, I got to see the real Springfield we never saw and that town is ghetto! But it was so much fun, I loved it. It was exactly what I needed. But I guess the lesson Uta'i had with the STL went really badly with Karen so I'm just praying everything is alright and I am really excited to see her on Thursday. I guess her problem is that she feels like we are trying to convince her to be Mormon and not convert her to Christ so we definitely need to straighten that out cause that is not true at all.

Rosa is doing alright. We are getting a little frustrated trying to help her get committed. We set up a lesson for her to come to a member's house and she bailed and she didn't come to church. So we are trying to figure out what it is that she needs to feel in her heart to help her WANT this with everything she has got. But, she still has her date set for April and it is going well!

We had the most AMAZING lesson with Quinten. He is 19 and he is the son of a less active member, Sister Capshaw. He was taught by missionaries who didn't listen to him at all and kind of shoved the gospel down his throat and he got super turned off. Well when I got here he started coming out and his mom was amazed because she thought he would never talk to us again. Well, Quinten and I have so much in common and we finally asked him if we could teach him but we stressed how this is for him not us. We taught the Plan of Salvation this week and we like made this whole visual and I have never felt the Spirit so strong in teaching that lesson my whole mission. I really feel like he felt it, it made sense. So we are basing all of our lessons off his questions and what it is he needs and wants to learn. Oh my gosh, I have so much hope for him!

We had branch conference this week and everyone from all the auxiliaries and the stake callings were at church (which I never remember ever having that happen at home) and it was awesome! I am just loving Paris. I couldn't be happier.

What I learned this week:

I feel like I didn't really learn anything new this week but I definitely increased in my testimony of how much our Heavenly Father LOVES US. I was reading in Romans 8:37-39

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God loves us so much...There is nothing in this world that could make Him love us any less...even anything we do. Everything He does is because He loves us and He intends for us to be happy. We just have to trust Him.

I love you!!!!!! You are all in my prayers.  Have a wonderful week!

Sister Lundskog

Monday, February 9, 2015

Time to Leave It All on the Floor

Dear Family,

Well, it is official. Today I am starting my last transfer as a missionary. I will be staying here in Paris to complete my mission and I am getting Sister Utah'i and I am so excited. I served around her when I was in Fulton and it should be a really good transfer.

Rosa has set a baptismal date for April 30th so we are going to keep working with her. We got to help her start making those life changing habits so she feels ready when the time comes to make that covenant with Heavenly Father. Rosa is awesome.

We had one of the most amazing lessons with Karen I have ever had in my life and it was the greatest testimony builder that when we do all that we can, Heavenly Father will step in and do the rest for us. I studied like crazy for Karen and Karen is studying just as much. So last email I said Ephesians 4 but I meant chapter 3 too. haha Sorry, I didn't have my scriptures. But I am telling you right now I can't even tell you what I said to her and I don't even think I was even fully comprehending what we were talking about but the spirit took over and I was able to answer things I didn't even know the answer to. I think we helped her see and that in some way, at least, she is thinking it could be possible. Not that she has left her ideas of oneness but that the possibility is open that we could be right. She brought up the transfiguration with Peter, James, and John with Christ and we talked how God has a body and, man, it was the coolest thing. I think the reason why people get scared of Karen is that she is scary to argue with but she just gets defensive because no one likes to not understand something or to feel that they are wrong, you know? Humans don't like feeling weak. I can definitely attest to that. I am just so grateful we never gave up on her because I have never seen Heavenly Father's love for an investigator of mine as I have seen for Karen.
Karen and I
We also had a cool lesson with Quinton and his mom. His mom is a member that has not attended church in awhile and she is awesome. Quinton is 19 and has had a crazy hard life. I can not even begin to imagine what he has been through. It is really funny, too, because we think so much alike. The other day in our lesson he said exactly the same thing as I had said to Sister Rouse the other day when talking about relationships with people. We showed him the video, "Hope of God's Light" and I feel like the lesson was for me as well. It felt so good to testify that our prayers are answered and that the miracles aren't the angels and lightning bolts but the simple tender mercies He puts into the details of our lives. WE ARE SO LOVED.

I got to go to Tuscola on Monday and say bye to Sister Webb. It's crazy that today they are flying home and next it will be me. I don't know if I am ready but honestly I don't think I will ever be ready. So thank goodness for the Savior. He made an eternal promise to always be by our side and He has not failed me once. I am so blessed.
Sister Webb is to my right and Sister Rouse is on my left
Well, that's about all that happened this week. It was actually a very rough week. But, hey, it builds character right? There are always good things to come and oh how much I am looking forward to seeing what the Lord is going to do with me this last transfer. I guess this is it, time to leave it all on the floor, right? Go out with a bang knowing I was fearless and I endured to the end.

I love you all so much.

Sister Lundskog
My district

Sister Rouse & I on a Pday

Monday, February 2, 2015

Answers Can Be Found in the Scriptures

Dear Family!

Can you believe it? It is February! Two months till I come home but don't worry, I am not even focusing on that. It is just crazy how time flies. Okay so this week was crazy but first I want to tell you about this crazy experience I had with Heavenly Father.

We had a lesson with Karen and she used the Book of Mormon against us to try to prove her point about oneness with the godhead. She used the first couple of verses in Mosiah 15. So I was super disheartened, right? Not because I believed her but because I was frustrated that God wasn't there to help us. We had no response. Her argument was clear and she backed it up with our own Book of Mormon! So I went home determined to find an answer, if not for her then for me. So during studies I started looking up all the scriptures on the character of God. I read in Ephesians Chapter 4. And let me tell you, I have never received an answer from a prayer so clearly and so powerfully as what is written in that chapter. Read it, it is so clear it's not even funny. Everyday this week no matter if I'm searching for an answer or just reading, I have received more and more evidence of the individuality of the Godhead. HEAVENLY FATHER LOVES US! But Karen, I don't know what it is but I love her. As difficult as she is and as hard as she fights us, I can see her changing and I can see her growing. She wants to know the truth so badly. She came to church this Sunday and totally surprised us. She said she felt moved by the spirit. It was such a cool experience. It was fast and testimony meeting so she got to hear people share from their hearts what means the most to them and no one can argue that. She is changing and just think of the joy she will have and others will have who don't give up on her when she finds whatever it is she is looking for! Those are the people that we see the true miracles of God at work. Not in the golden investigators but those who fight and argue and challenge every thing because it means so much and because it is everything to them. I am so grateful for Karen because she has pushed me to KNOW my Savior, to really know Him.

On a fun note, we were trying to find this house way out in the the middle of nowhere...seriously like in the middle of nowhere. Well, we couldn't find it so we started heading to our next appointment in Marshall and as we are coming to the highway we see this big sign that says: "WELCOME TO ILLINOIS". haha We had left the mission!!! We laughed so hard and it was a total accident but, hey guys, I've been to Indiana :)

We got two new referrals this week!! That was exciting!

We finally got into a lot of less actives' homes that we have been trying to visit for so long. It was a awesome. Also, we had an amazing lesson with Sister Capshaw and her son, Quinton (he is 19 and not a member but the missionaries used to teach him). Seriously it was the coolest lesson I have had in a long time. We are going to start teaching him which is exciting. Also, Rosa is praying about a baptismal date for now! Well, praying if she should bump it up because she has a date set for July 4th when a member who is related to her can come baptize her but I think she is ready now.

Super disappointed in the Seahawks.

Pretty much life is good and I know that there are always GOOD THINGS TO COME.

Love you all so much,

Sister Lundskog

Monday, January 26, 2015

Faith and the Holy Ghost

Dear Family!

Man, what a week! I feel like I say this every time I get on here but I seriously can't remember anything that happened. I guess that's a good thing, right? Working hard haha.

So Rosa's pipes finally got fixed!! Things are starting to look up! We talked to her on the phone this week and she said that she prayed to God and was like "look I'll do whatever you want me to do just turn my water back on!" Haha Well, she promised and her water is back on so we are going to help her reach her goals of doing what He asks of her. It was cool cause she said they have just been seeing so many little blessings the past couple of days...a check in the mail they didn't expect to come or someone filling up their gas for them. So things are looking up for Rosa!

Random side note. Do you remember me teaching a lady named Wanda in Highlands? Well, she got baptized!! I am so happy for her, I knew she would love the gospel and all it had to offer for her and I wish the very best to her.

We had a lesson with Karen again this week...whoa. Brother Randolph really wanted to come to a lesson because he felt like he related to her and a lot of her questions and wanted to help her. Oh my goodness, she just attacked him at the very start of the lesson. Just went off on him, pulling out all this doctrine, taking things he said and twisting them. Then he shared his testimony with her (something dear and personal to him) how he found the church after he got divorced and she pulled all that crap about how we shouldn't get remarried from the bible and everything...it was awful. We realized that no matter if we find the answer or not to all of Karen's questions, it is never going to mean anything because the Spirit can't testify of truth to her because her heart is not open. Karen claims to be spiritual and know so much about God yet she is missing the biggest component in religion which is faith. Yet she testified to Brother Randolph that we have taught her things she never knew and it just is hard to tell. Afterwards, Brother Randolph said, "I understand why you guys looked so discouraged. Never has anyone taken my testimony and slapped it in my face like her."

Even if I can never find the answer for Karen or help her in anyway (although I am trying very hard) I at least know how much my testimony has been strengthened. I always was comfortable that my testimony was based on things from my heart and answers I could never explain. But I think part of me disregarded the scriptures a little bit in their ability to build our testimony. Truthfully, it comes from the spirit always, for the Holy Ghost teaches us things that facts and figures can never explain. But when we know the word of God, it helps solidify what the Holy Ghost has taught you.

This week we had exchanges. It was probably the best exchange I have had in 12 months. Talk about a leader, Sister Martinez, that truly understands her role to love and serve those she is over. Not control or demand, criticize, or put down. It was a cool experience because the bishop in her area that she was super close to just passed away from cancer and when we were in the car she said "You know,Ii have been putting on this face for everyone for the last week and I don't know why but I feel like I can be real with you." And she did. She stopped pretending she was superhuman because she was a leader and she was 100% real with me. It made me feel good to know that I was able to allow her to be herself.

What I learned this week:

God intends for us to be happy. Everything He does is because He loves us. It is as simple as that.

Love you all so much,

Sister Lundskog