Monday, October 28, 2013

Frustrations, More Frustrations, and Prayer

Dear Family-

So, I made a list throughout the week again so hopefully I'll remember everything I wanted to talk about and such. First thing was last Monday. It was our P-day and we went and played ultimate frisbee and let's just say I am pretty dang good at it. haha. I should have joined Beau, Dallin, and Sean's team during spring cause I was actually pretty good at it. Anyway, we played it with a bunch of elders in our zone and a less active from our ward. His name is Cameron and he is awesome. He is planning on going into the Marines after high school but he would be an amazing missionary so maybe we can get him to change his mind!

Then Monday night we cleaned and rearranged our apartment because we had interviews with the mission president on Wednesday and that meant we might have a surprise apartment check. We were moving this mini-couch in our apartment that is puke green and super heavy for how small it is. We moved it across the room and brought our beds to the other side of the room next to the heater because it is starting to get cold. When we moved the couch, there was a squished cockroach under it! It was way gross so we just vacuumed him up. That was about as exciting as Monday got.

On Tuesday, we had a good, busy day. We did a lot of running around that is for sure. Then somehow we accidently got stuck with two dinner appointments. So we had our first dinner with the Hancocks who are amazing people. They are super shy and you can tell they have really low self-esteem and they are kind of struggling right now. We had two helpings of their food to be as kind as we could even though we knew we had another dinner appointment and I was seriously about to die. I was full after my first serving...haha. Our second dinner was with the Aldridges and he is the second counselor in the bishopric. He owns his own company and he just takes pictures just like National Geographic. So jealous! They are seriously the best family. We went over to celebrate her birthday and he made steak and cheesecake. I am getting so fat!! All these members keep feeding us all this food. Man, at least I have been eating so that's a good thing, right? There has only been maybe two dinners where I thought I was going to die if I tried eating it because it looked so gross but I was okay. I found ways to eat them. 

On Wednesday, we had our president interviews. The assistants just trained us while he took one person at a time to interview. My interview with the president was super awkward. I had like nothing to say or complain about really and anything that I was struggling with was something I could handle and didn't need to tell him so we really had like absolutely nothing to talk about. So he just asked how the family was and stuff like that and it was probably the shortest interview out of everyone there. For some reason I just have been struggling a lot this week. It started on Wednesday. Sometimes around other missionaries I feel extremely inadequate. I feel like a bad missionary when I am around leaders and others and it makes me super self-conscience. Then, I feel stupid that I care so much about what they think about me that I then get even more frustrated with myself. That was about everything for Wednesday.

Thursday was the hardest day of the week. First off, Mom, your package came at the perfect time. I actually started crying when I got it. You really don't need to send me as much as you do. I feel so bad that you do all of that for me. But, I do want you to know how much I appreciated it and how much it helped me get through this week. Thursday, we went and helped Daisy move all of her stuff out. Daisy was in some of those pictures I sent home (which I hope you saved those because for some reason my camera erased all of the pictures that I had on my camera....so that was really frustrating). Daisy is moving back to Maryville which is in the Independence Missouri mission. It was a really sad day. She has been so loving and has helped us out with so much, investigators and ourselves. She has such great faith and is a very inspiring person. Then we taught Linda. This was our third appointment with her and this was the most spiritual lesson I have had so far on my mission. Linda's daughter was there and Linda asked us to share what we had taught her with her daughter because "she had to hear what we had to say". It was a great opportunity. Her daughter loved the idea of the Book of Mormon and about modern day prophets and she said "I'm gonna have to get me one of those books". We said we could give her one and she was just glowing. Then she wanted us to meet her son. She has a 15 year old son that she said just hasn't been feeling the need for having God in his life and that he needed to meet us and see our examples. So, he came out and he was just shocked that we were so young and he just kept saying that he had so much respect for us. We kept saying that it's not us. It's the Lord. It was just so FREAKING AWESOME! Seeing the gospel change lives is one of the greatest things you could ever witness. I got so emotional when bearing my testimony and I kept apologizing but you can truly feel the love the Savior has for everyone. The Spirit was just so strong. Then Linda actually interrupted us and told us that she wasn't 100% sure if everything was true but that pretty much she believed in the Book of Mormon. You could see how happy she was. The church is true everyone! It was an amazing experience and it was something that wasn't huge. It was just a simple lesson but it was monumental because she had found her faith and she was receiving answers from her Heavenly Father.

Right after Linda, we had the exact opposite experience. We are teaching a less active named Sister Lopez. She has gone way off the deep end with studying doctrines and such and she meditates and believes in just....I don't know how to best describe her so you can understand. She is very Buddist-thinking and believes in reincarnation and being spiritual and not having religion. Just all over the place. She doesn't believe in Satan. Stuff like that. Doesn't believe in wrong or right just that you have choices. She is super argumentative and challenges and manipulates everything we say. Everything. It is exhausting. When we leave my spirit is just exhausted like I have just fought a war. She was worse than she has ever been...literally contradicting everything we said. But, this was also the first time that we actually stood up to her (with love and respect, of course). Instead of just blowing off the things that she said that weren't true and focusing on the things she said that were true, we actually addressed when she was off in her doctrine. She pretty much said that she was spiritual enough to make it to heaven without organized religion. This killed me because that's almost like saying that she didn't need the Savior's sacrifice. Man, I just wanted to cry. I felt bad because she says she doesn't have any friends and no one is accepting her and so it made me feel awful but Sister Fisher and I knew we needed to stop coming to see her. When we told her she was really upset but the only reason she wanted us to come over was for her to argue with us. I realized that she has been taught all of the doctrine and the principles. She knows the truth but she must gain faith and then act on that faith. We cannot give people faith. Faith is something every individual must gain on their own and then they must choose how to act once they have that faith. We couldn't do any more for her until she learned to put her trust in God and to act in faith....and that broke my heart. I started crying the minute we got in the car. I felt that as representatives of Christ we should not have walked out because Christ would have never walked out on her. It was really hard because she is that one lost sheep and we had failed in our efforts to help lead her back. The rest of the day I just literally struggled. I felt like a horrible missionary.

To make things worse, this week has been really hard because I have really been homesick. But everytime I felt homesick, I would get so frustrated with myself because I realized I was thinking about myself and not my investigators and, therefore, I was being a bad missionary. So this whole week I have been frustrated with being frustrated pretty much. haha. I'm just....I'm trying so hard and I feel like I'm always missing the mark. I see so many others who are amazing missionaries and I feel like I lack in every aspect of missionary work. In D&C 4 it says serve God with all you heart, might, mind, and strength. I felt that I wasn't giving Him my all when my mind would wander off about home and those I left behind. Then, I just found myself getting frustrated with myself for doing that.

Because I was in a bad mood, I was becoming frustrated with my companion. Now, I love Sister Fisher to death. She is amazing and is an amazing missionary. But her obedience level is sometimes too much for me to handle. I have not always been an obedient person. It is something that I have greatly struggled with growing up. Not only that, I struggled with trying to never look like a "Mormon". This past year I have grown and changed a lot. I'm not afraid to look like or show that I am a Mormon anymore. I have tried to be a lot more obedient. But I still am struggling sometimes. It's never with the big things. It is always the little things. I get frustrated with her because she has always been so overly obedient in her life that she seems unreal to a degree. The minute I feel that she is becoming unreal, I start putting up a wall. I don't trust easily and it's something that has been my biggest struggle out here. I want to trust my companion and it frustrates me because her obedience makes me feel so unworthy sometimes. It's as if she is looking down on me. This, by the way, is with things that are like super small that are not even in the white handbook. I just wanted to cry this whole week.

Anyway, that was a long tangent but back to Thursday. That night we had dinner with the Morgans and the other sets of elders in our ward. Brother Morgan asked us each to share the part of our testimony that we treasure the most. After having such a rough day and on the verge of tears, I wasn't very happy to do this because I knew how emotional I would get. I hate more than anything showing emotion. I hate crying in front of people because it makes me feel so weak. But, I would love to share with you the part of my testimony that I treasure the most. The part I treasure the most is my testimony of prayer. I believe in the power of prayer. I know that Heavenly Father hears me and more than that I know He answers me. (See...I am almost crying at the computer right now.) I know I am not good with words or things like this. I don't like showing emotion and I have a hard time explaining how I am feeling. But I know that prayer is always the answer. He will always listen to me. Just like at college, Mom, when I would call you for things that were stupid like can I wash this in the washer? You still always answered me. Just like our parents here on earth, Heavenly Father will always answer you no matter how small and stupid you may feel your worries are. And just like you wouldn't hesitate to call your parents with a question, why would you hesitate to talk to your Heavenly Father? He will answer you. He does hear you and I know that He lives and that He loves me. I know He knows me by name and that as long as I always have faith, I will never need to fear what is to come. I don't think I can even begin to express how much I treasure the ability to talk to my Heavenly Father. Just like President Hinkley said, "When life gets too hard to stand, kneel."

This Sunday we found out the new stake boundaries. The way that the boundaries have changed has pretty much demolished our proselyting area into nothing really. We now are split between three wards and the other wards already have sisters and both our elders areas are now taking up all of Carondelet. I'm still new at this so I don't know if I am explaining this in a way you can understand but pretty much it's a 75% chance that Sister Fisher and I are going to be transferred. This Saturday is transfer calls so we will find out then. Right now we could stay in our zone or be completely moved to another zone. We are just having to put our trust in our leaders and learn a little patience as we wait to find out where we are going. Hopefully, they don't split us up but we might be opening a new area for sisters by next week. Hopefully all goes well!

I love you all so much!!

Love-Sister Lundy

PS. Please send me Maddi's and Michael's email addresses.

Monday, October 21, 2013

STLs in STL and Blonde Pumpkin Brownies

Family-

Wow! It sounds like you all had a crazy week! You guys need to start sending me pictures so I can see how life is!

Well, to be 100% honest, this week was so exhausting and a lot happened that I honestly don't really remember what happened. That happens a lot on your mission. You kind of lose parts of your memory and sometimes your brain just flat lines and you can't think at all. Haha. It's really sad but I think that's because we are working really hard.

Monday we went to the arch to play soccer and it was great. I really, really miss playing soccer. Sister Fisher played all growing up and on teams and stuff so she is super good. She and I kicked butts as the only sisters playing with like 35 elders. Sister Hobbs (my good friend from the MTC) was there with her companion but they didn't play. They just kinda stood in the middle of the field. Haha. The arch is huge and because of the stupid government we couldn't go inside of it. Like seriously....what is wrong with our country right now? Whatever....I'm not gonna stress about it cause I am on a mission.  :)

This Monday and Tuesday we had exchanges. They used to not have exchanges for sister missionaries, I guess, because they used to not have leaders for them. But, now with the new age change we have sister training leaders (STL) which are zone leaders but for the sisters. However, the STLs are over three zones instead of just one! The STLs cam Monday night and we pulled out an extra mattress and we all slept on them on the floor except Sister Fisher who slept on our little couch chair thing. (She is so giving.) The next day I went with Sister Ash and Sister Fisher went with Sister Errington. It was way fun. I learned a lot. It was really stressful and I was really nervous but we just had a blast. It was weird because I had to take charge of things and I didn't really know what I was doing but that's okay. I tried and I had fun with it. Then they gave us some training and did personal interviews and then they left. So I think what I learned from that is I do not want to be a STL. Man, they have so much work to do. They have to deal with girl drama all the time. I would die....haha. Ya they have a hard job and I really respect what they do.
Our Sister Training Leaders, Sister Errington and Sister Ash
So pretty much everday this week we had everything all planned out and the day would just explode into crazy unorganized nonsense. This week was rough. We had a lot of appointments fall through and a lot of emergency visits to keep less actives from walking off the deep end. It was just crazy emotions all day everyday.
Putting up the map of our assigned area that we finally received
Linda Shumaker is our newest and most progressive investigator. I seriously love her to death. We saw her on Thursday and on Thursday almost every other appointment fell through but our lesson with her was amazing. I think I felt the Spirit the strongest in this lesson than I have felt it on my mission. She is 50-60 years old and her brother who is LDS referred her through church headquarters. We have had one lesson with her so this was our second. We got there and were talking and she asked us if we had had lunch yet. We said no and she said "Oh my goodness, let me feed you." Of course, we aren't going to refuse a home cooked meal. Oh my lanta, it was the greatest meal of my life. She had her own recipe of beef stew which was so good and warm rolls and then she made blondie pumpkin brownies. You know...similar to blondie brownies with white chocolate? It was like that but white chocolate chips with pumpkin and caramel injected into them. It was the greatest thing ever and she gave us chocolate pie and she gave us spaghetti and her homemade sauce to cook at home. She is the most giving person ever. We taught her the first part of lesson two which is the Plan of Salvation. We taught her about pre-earth life, the creation, and kinda skimmed over Adam and Eve because she knows the Bible really well. Then we talked about life here on earth and we explained to her that God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost are separate beings. Stuff like that and she loved it. She has been reading the Book of Mormon every single day. Can you believe that?! Then, we did what we call "a soft ask" to see if she wanted to be baptized. This helps them see that our ultimate purpose is to teach them and makes them think more about what they want to receive from our lessons. So we asked her and she said yes! Both Sister Fisher and I were almost crying when we bore our testimonies to her. It was just an amazing lesson.

Something that I have realized here. The people can be very, ummm...hard shelled and sometimes it's hard to get them to listen to you. Actually, it's really hard. But, people here don't have a lot. Our area is inner city and it's poor. There is a lot of hardship in different ways than you would see in a foreign country. It's just hard here. Life is hard, it's cruel, and people go through a lot. That American dream doesn't really exist here. But the people here are the most giving people I know. There are people here that don't even have enough food to feed themselves but they will take family members in. They give what little they have to serve and to bless others, Mormons or not. It truly has humbled me to realize how much I've been blessed with and how much more I can give.

I guess the most exciting thing I have for this week is that our ward boundaries are being changed! Hopefully, this will help a lot. We don't know how this is going to affect us as missionaries but, oh well. Pretty much our ward is 75% less active. Hardly anyone has transportation. That's one of the biggest things we struggle with. The few strong members we do have are stretched so thin because they are doing all the work so I'm really hoping this boundary change will help us gain more leaders and disperse some of the problems so that the people can be better taken care of. We will find out next Sunday. We don't know what it will do to us because if our area doesn't change but our ward boundaries do we could be going to two wards which would probably kill me. Haha. I mean, there is a reason why this ward has three sets of missionaries in it. Anyway, I love my ward. I love Carondelet! Always have a positive attitude!

I can't really think of anything else. Oh, I found out our mission has the highest depression rate than any other mission area in the world. Can you believe that? They say that's because this place used to be cursed. But, I am as happy as a peach. :) Just trying to enjoy life. I can't believe we are almost through October! In two weeks I will have made it through my first transfer. It's finally starting to look like fall here. It is the slowest fall in the world here. It seems like one tree changes at a time but it's getting cold so they are starting to change faster. 

Anyway, I love all of you so much! Remember the church is true! Share the gospel with everyone. You are a light that cannot be hid. People see you and can see the light of Christ in you. We as members have the responsibility to share that with all of our brothers and sisters. You guys are amazing examples to me of living your standards. I love hearing your stories. I am so proud of you, Allison! You are all my heroes and I look up to you in so many ways. Remember the church is true. Now go be awesome!

Love-

Sister Lundskog

PS. Dad, that is cool that you are interacting with Rob at work. Do you know if he found out if he can come take us to dinner or not? I am excited to see him. Dad, the Cardinals are in the World Series! The city is crazy loyal here. You have no idea! The first game is this week against Boston. Hopefully, we will win! I was told that if we win the city like shuts down for three days. I wish I could go to a game but the cheapest tickets right now are over $400 dollars so maybe next year.
Making cat pumpkins with our investigator, Martin (Santa), and his wife.
Our purrrrrfect creations
Sister Fisher and I thought this was the funniest thing ever. He is watering the side of the paved road and all of the cars parked on the side of the road!! We could not figure out what he was doing at all.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Amazing People, Great Food, and Massive Trees

Family!

Okay, so throughout the week I have been making a list of things that I need to tell you about and then when I read your emails I write your questions down to remind myself. So I'm sorry if I forget to answer a question (Dad, I am answering your questions on here).

Sister Fisher and I thought of something creative. Please don't send anything to this address. Still send it to the mission home cause if I move then I won't lose any mail. But, we thought if I sent you my address, you could go on google maps and then see where I am living. You could get a street view. I won't be able to tell if you are accurate and I don't know what season you are seeing compared to me but it might be fun for you to see or anyone to see what I see everyday. My address is 7004 Nottingham Place, Apt 301, St. Louis, MO 63119. So try that and see what happens!

Alright, since I have been on my mission I have had three different Elders (who I do not know) contact me through mormon.org. In the MTC, I got an email from some elder and he was like "Hey, you're pretty cool, I am in the MTC too." It was weird and I just said hey back and then didn't respond again. haha. Then, when I got here I had a letter from two elders from Alaska. Alaska!!! One of them is from Oregon and I don't remember his name but he thinks he knows me and I have never seen him. They both wrote me this long letter asking me all these questions about me and totally not focusing on what they are supposed to be doing right now. They also made a collage of pictures of themselves to send to me with the letter. What are they, teenage girls? Haha It made Sister Fisher and I laugh. Then, I got another letter from some elder in the San Diego mission. His wasn't that bad. He just thanked me for my testimony on mormon.org. I don't know. It was weird and he sent me a picture of himself, too. Haha....all these elders need to get to work!

Mom, you would have LOVED the basilica. Maybe I can send some pictures if I have time. What we saw in Ecuador times 20. Oh, there is a member here who is in college and married but he served in Ecuador and they made a book and it was really cool cause he went to the church we went to and zip lined where we went and stuff. It was cool. Anyway, every wall and ceiling at this basilica is made as a mosaic. It is amazingly beautiful. We were kinda laughing though because they had little stories from the bible in the walls and there is a picture of Jesus being baptized by John and they are standing in the river that is dried up and he is pouring water on his head. The tour guide there is awesome. He knew so much about missionaries from a lot of us always visiting there and he was very informative. He joked about us sneaking him into the temple so he could have a peak. Haha
At the entrance to the St. Louis Basilica with Sister Juliann Fisher
Last P-day when we went to the grocery store we bought cheese to make quesadillas. We did not realize that the cheese was taco flavored cheese. It was super awesome. When you have a quesadilla now it tastes like a taco. It's weird. Haha Things like this that make a mission fun. Sister Fisher and I could not stop laughing. It's not even that funny and we were crying.

This week Sister Fisher and I have been blessed beyond measure. At one point this week we had five potential investigators. So I am going to go through and name each of our investigators and tell you a little about all of them cause they are amazing. So, Dad, we have nine in our teaching pool. We had 12 but we had to drop (I don't like that word) but we had to put them as formers because we haven't been able to teach them for months.

Stephen:  Stephen is amazing. I love him. He has had a very hard life. He has like 18 brothers and sister and he and all of them are all adopted. His dad was his hero. His dad ended up getting cancer when he was like 14 and none of his other siblings did anything to help. He was the one left caring for him every day and it was so hard on him. Stephen was born with some learning problems so he is a little slow but I love him. When it got too much for him to handle he left his home for like a week and his dad died when he was supposed to be watching him and after that he just went off the deep end. Got way too mixed up with drugs and alcohol. We were actually planning to baptize Stephen a week ago but we found out he had been to jail and now we have to answer some questions and send a letter to SLC to get him approved for baptism. Pretty much he has bailed on every lesson we have tried to have with him and he might be moving at the end of the month. This has been really hard on me cause I love him and I want him to feel the peace of the atonement but Heavenly Father will take care of everything.

Debbie: Debbie is awesome! She would fit perfectly in our ward with all you cute moms! Her husband is less active and she just got married this weekend. Now she can get baptized. So we just have to set a date with her.

Liayou: Liayou is from Africa! She is awesome. She has a 6 year old named Jessica and a new baby. She has the thickest accent though. I swear we are blessed with the gift of tongues during lessons cause she is almost impossible to understand. Right now we have to get her married first before she can get baptized but she really wants to be baptized. We have a hard time with Liayou cause she has amazing faith but because of the educational level it's hard for her to comprehend things. But, Joseph Smith only had an education level up to like third grade....right? So it will all work out.

Deondrea: Haha....he is awesome too! He is a brand new investigator. He is black and freaking awesome. Like a totally typical black guy. He is the biggest sweetheart. So accepting of everyone and he is so fun to talk to. We talk about football and Call of Duty all the time. We have met with him twice and you can tell he just wants more in his life. He wants to have his life be worth something.

Karim: So the second time we taught Deondrea his friend, Karim, was there. Karim is awesome. He is Muslim. I don't know much about Muslims at all so that was interesting. But while he was in jail he read the Bible and the Koran so he was really interested in reading the Book of Mormon. He says he is a spiritual being. The biggest problem we have here is that everyone is very religious but a lot of people hate organized religion. Ya it's frustrating so hopefully we can see him again and teach him more about Christ.

Martin: So Martin is married to a less active. He looks like Santa but has the mouth of a sailor and I love him. They love missionaries. They have this book they have you sign when you come over and it has like 30 different missionaries that have signed that book. You can tell that Martin is a very slowwwwwww progressing investigator. But he is progressing. Things in his life and the way the world is have turned him almost atheist. So we are working on him to believe in Christ. Last time we met you could feel the Spirit so strong. He has a problem of cracking jokes and trying to get rid of the Spirit when he feels it. But we won't let him deny that he can feel it. He can be kinda scary cause he gets mad easily and yells but I'm not scared cause I can see through that mean exterior and we get along great.

Linda: She is our newest investigator. She was a referral from church headquarters. Her brother asked that missionaries go to her home. When we got there she was like "I knew you were coming. I just didn't know when." Haha. She is amazing. Absolutely amazing. She is in her 60s and has tremendous faith and really knows her Bible. The problem with her is the same as Karim. She doesn't believe in organized religion because she says it's hypocritical. We will see because we have another appointment with her this week.

We gave Deondrea, Karim, and Linda a Book of Mormon so pray that they actually read it!

Okay, so her is the miracle of the week. We were heading to a dinner appointment at a member's home and we were like 30 minutes early. We decided to go street contact or knock on a door or two. We drove to the house and then just passed it and went further into the neighborhood. We came to a three way stop and Sister Fisher asked me which way and I didn't feel impressed or anything even though I was really trying to listen so I just said "Straight". She went like halfway down the street and then pulled over and parked. I was looking at the home we parked in front of and there was a "Families Are Forever" plaque outside the door. I asked Sister Fisher "Does a member live here?" and she was like "I don't know. Let's go see." So we started walking to the door and this lady came out to get her mail and so we said hi and started talking to her. We asked her about her plaque. She had bought it at a garage sale! We shared our message with her and set up another appointment and gave her a Book of Mormon and it was just the greatest experience ever!! It was so awesome. We really connected with her. It was just one of those missionary experiences you hear everyone talk about. Anyway, we found out she isn't in our area. The elders have really, really been struggling trying to find investigators so even though I want to teach her we are going to let them teach her and see what happens.

So someone asked about the temple. We get to go at our halfway mark and then we get to go if an investigator of ours that we played a SIGNIFICANT role in their conversion goes to the temple. So we don't get to go quarterly. Just halfway and then right before we leave.

That is a cool story, Dad, about the less active. We work with so many less actives. This ward we are in is probably 75% less active. It is amazing to see a less active come back to church. It's like a lost brother or sister coming back. You just love them so much because it takes a lot of courage to come back.

We don't ride bikes. We actually have a car. It is a 2013 Toyota Corolla and it is white. It is super nice....way nice. We are so spoiled.
Washing the car on P day
Sister Fisher and Sister Lundskog on P day
One of the nicer streets in our area
Today we are going to play soccer under the arch with our zone and another zone. I am so stoked! Guess what? The arch is part of a national park so it has been shut down so you can't get inside of it which makes me way mad because I'm as close to St. Louis as I'll probably ever get for the rest of my mission. It's stupid cause I probably now won't get to go in it. Uhhh! I probably won't get to go to a Cards game. It's really cool here because the Cardinals are such a cultural thing here if you are with an investigator you can watch a game on TV or go to a game with them. It's crazy....on game day everyone is wearing RED.

Yes, Mom, we do exercise....haha. At least we try to. Lately, we have been sooo tired cause we are not sleeping all the way through the night. First off, the guy downstairs is always having a party and his music is so loud. But we get up and go run outside. I don't know what we will do when it gets cold though.

You asked what I want for my birthday. I just want my new scriptures you sent and music. We are allowed to listen to anything that brings the Spirit and we only have like 2 cds and I am going to lose my mind if I listen to those songs one more time. Appropriate songs from Les Mis are allowed and Josh Grobin if it isn't a love song. We have a cd of his and all the ones in English are love songs so we just listen to all the Spanish ones. Haha. Um, any songs that you can find on the LDS worship station on Pandora or cool versions of hymns. Christmas music!! That would make my day. Oh, the EFY cds! I own like four of them. Maybe some of your cookies though would be awesome. :) Except that I am getting so fat here. Everyone keeps feeding us all this stuff and giving us leftovers cause they think we are starving or something. Man, I'm getting a double chin. It's awful! Oh well, it's not like I'm trying to pick up any boys while I'm here so I might as well enjoy it!

I know you told me I could tell you if I am struggling. It's amazing because everyday isn't always a great day but you can find something great in everyday. I can't say that I have had a bad day or a good day on my mission because it is so up and down on what is happening all the time. You learn to go with it. It depends on exactly when you would happen to inquire. I know I sound happy but this has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I miss my ward and I miss Oregon. I miss the smell of clean air instead of the smell of cigarettes. I miss my family more than anything and I miss my bed. Sometimes, I find myself daydreaming about the future and sometimes I am stuck thinking about the past and what I have left behind. But, I have learned to live in the moment. Life is so short. I realized that the things I miss are so amazing because the gospel has blessed my life. I even miss Utah and the MTC because I miss the spirit that is there and the Mormon culture almost. But, there is a quote I used to have that says something like "Oh how blessed am I that I have something so amazing that it makes saying goodbye almost impossible." I want others to have something so amazing they can't say goodbye too. I am learning to live in the moment, to stop thinking about what is to come and what I left behind. I have been so blessed. I am truly starting to love every moment of being here. Anytime I have had a really hard time, I always look up at the sky here. The sky is the best part of Missouri. You can see for miles and miles and you cannot look at that sky and not believe there is a God. Anytime I feel like crying I just look up at the amazing trees here. They are massive trees. They spread out as wide as our evergreens are long. I look at the sunlight on the leaves and realize how blessed I am to be here. The trees remind me of the poem Dad sent to me in the MTC. It was quoted in General Conference. I will not live and die a scrawny thing because I can do hard things.

I love you with all my heart!

Sister Lundskog

PS. Sister Fisher's first name is Juliann

Monday, October 7, 2013

Faith, Not Fear!!

Family-

Life is good! How did you like General Conference? It was amazing! So, I guess I'll start from last Monday and just let you know a little something from each day.

So here in Missouri, they have a big problem with mold. We were looking at our tiny window AC thing and we look in and it is covered in mold. So gross! It was blowing that mold right into our faces at night. So we had a little deep cleaning sesh and cleaned that sucker out. Haha

I am starting to really love this place. I had a hard time at first actually just cause I am not used to this. The people weren't really friendly and I was so sick of the smell of cigarettes and everything that looks like it is falling apart here. But, I started to humble myself and I truly am falling in love with everything and everyone around me. My favorite thing here in Missouri is the sky. You can see miles and miles in every direction and it truly makes you realize how insignificantly small we are and how in such a big world you could be so easily looked over. But, God sees and hears every single one of us. Anytime I am having a hard time and am feeling like coming home or giving up I look up at the sky and I remember who my Father is and I know that I can do hard things.

This week I had my first two street contacts and gave out my first two Books of Mormon. Whoooohooo! I was proud of myself. I realized that what I struggle with the most is that first contact with people. I get way too nervous but Sister Fisher is so amazing at it so I am learning so much from her. She struggles at making good, long lasting relationships which is my strong suit so we are like perfect together. Hahaha We get along all the time and we are always laughing. I honestly am sooo blessed to have such an amazing companion. Just don't know what I would do without her. Actually I have a favor to ask of you and the family. Sister Fisher's bday is November 15th. Her life story is amazing. I am absolutely shocked she is even here after everything she has been through. It is a super personal story and not one for me to share but, simply put, she stood up for her beliefs and protected her sisters from her parents and extended family. She has been actually getting hate mail from uncles and aunts while out here. I had to sit there and watch as she started crying as people who are supposed to be her support system sent her hateful words and cruel sentences for her standing up for what she believes in and being here serving God. So I was wondering if instead of sending me things for my birthday, you and all of our extended family could all send a letter to her. Let her know how proud you are of her and her sacrifice and let her know that even though we are not family...we are there to support her. Last P day when we left the computers she said quietly "My mom didn't even send me anything." She has been out for three months. It would mean the world to her if she were to receive support from a loving family even if it isn't her own. A letter from any grandma or grandpa, yours or not, can make you day out on a mission. Especially a letter from a mom. If you guys could ask for help from anyone to send her a letter for her birthday, that would be awesome! Her name is Sister Fisher. Just use the mission home address. (Note from Jeri: I have already asked her to get me Sister Fisher's first name as we are supposed to address all mail using first names too.)

So, the first Book of Mormon that I handed out was to this lady. We were just coming out from a dinner with a member and this lady was down the street. She couldn't get her car to start so we ran over to see if she needed help because she had ran out of gas in the middle of the road. Luckily, it wasn't very busy. We asked what we could do to help and she asked if we had a few dollars and asked if we could drive her to the gas station. Well, we can't drive people in our car so we offered to take the gas can and go fill it up and bring it back to her. So we went and I used that $20 you gave me right before I left, Mom! It came in handy, huh? We brought her the gas and she was able to fill up enough to drive to a gas station. But when we came back with the gas I shared a little message with her and gave her our phone number and a Book of Mormon. She was the sweetest! She was this big black lady and she kept saying "God bless you". Oh, she was awesome and she said she would give us a call after she has surgery and that we can come visit her in the hospital! Isn't that so exciting?! After that, I just wanted to stop everybody on the street and give them a Book of Mormon. Haha

So, sad part of my week. We have an investigator named Stephen. I love Stephen. We shouldn't have favorites but he is my favorite. Stephen has a lot of problems related to drugs. He is a little slower and his body is falling apart and he is only 26 but is just the sweetest and has so much faith. I can relate to him because he feels like he can never be good enough for God to forgive him. I've been there. We invited him to be baptized on October 12th and he said yes!! We were so excited we were jumping up and down. It was just a great experience. But, during weekly planning we went over all the steps you have to take in order for someone to be baptized and we realized there might be some complications because Stephen has been to jail. We had to ask him what he went to jail for and he went to jail for dealing and possession of drugs and for breaking and entering and for interfering with a police officer three years ago. So, unfortunately, we have to send a letter to Salt Lake to get it approved first. That means Stephen can't get baptized this week. We have to tell him tomorrow but I was devastated and I was just upset. My amazing companion said "We have to do everything according to God's timing and not ours. There must be a reason why Stephen has to wait." It really humbled me. This is God's work, not mine. He knows what is needed when and I need to learn to leave everything in his hands.

Today for P day we are going to the basilica, Mom! I know you would love to hear this. Apparently, there is a super famous basilica here in St. Louis that is just amazing. So, we are going with the other two sets of elder in our ward. It is my district leaders bday so we are celebrating his birthday too. Haha. We get to ride the Metro. I am excited because Sister Fisher hasn't ever ridden a Metro and sisters aren't allowed to ride it unless they are with elders because it's dangerous or something. I am freaking stoked.

I hope you all listened to Conference. Remember members and missionaries alike must work together to bring the gospel to the world. We cannot do this without you. Help as much as possible. Everything you do to help the missionaries in our ward is a blessing to all missionaries everywhere including me. Don't be afraid to share the gospel. I thought it would be easier to have a badge but actually you sharing your testimony without a badge is more powerful than any full time missionary. Trust me, investigators look up to you and your examples. We are a part of church history! We need to do everything we can to help the work move along.

The motto I have been living by out here on my mission is this:

Faith and fear cannot reside in the same place. So starve your fears and feed your faith.

Faith, not fear!!

Love you all so much-

Sister Lundskog

P.S. Ya, I forgot to tell you. It rained this week. haha It was weird cause when it is about to be rainy and stormy here it gets really hot. So it was hot and rainy (ish) all week and then all of the sudden on Sunday it was freezing. Just out of nowhere and it smelled like snow. But, we watched General Conference at the stake center and pretty much the only people there were missionaries but we had a blast. We all got together in between the Saturday sessions and made French toast, biscuits and gravy, and sausage and ate it together. Then on Sunday a member from some other area fed ALL of us....like 16 missionaries....haha. They are super rich and live in a mansion so don't feel bad for them. It was hard on Saturday and Sunday cause there was too much down time and I got homesick.

Corinne's first day in MTC with first companion, Sister Rouse
Corinne with Sister Rouse and Elders at Provo Temple
St. Louis bound sister missionaries at Provo Temple
Corinne's MTC district
Corinne with Sister Fisher at their quote wall in their apartment in St. Louis
Corinne's first apartment in St. Louis
Sister Missionaries sleep in style by the air conditioning unit
Lunch with Sister Fisher