Monday, November 4, 2013

Of Mice and Men and Women

Dear Family-

You guys are so awesome and I miss you so much! I, also, very much miss my ward family, too. I am sad I am missing the fall in Oregon but, man, it is so pretty here! Everything everywhere is oranges, reds, and yellows. It is stunning! You would absolutely love it, Mom. Just breathtaking. I wish so badly I was out in the country, though, because I bet it is even better there and that you can actually see the stars. Here you can't see any stars and I am already getting sick of the city....it's not even funny! But, I will go where the Lord wants me to go and I will find all the ways I can love it.

So, last Monday we went to the zoo. Probably the best P-day ever. We went with the other two sets of elders in our ward and we had a blast! I took charge of this activity and I lead the group to all the exhibits. They told me it was not possible to get all of the zoo done in three hours (by the way, the zoo is free) but I told them I could. I moved them along and we saw everything but the giraffes. I just loved it. It was cool to do something that I totally loved and made my week a lot better!
Enjoying the St. Louis Zoo

They made me be the spider! haha

The Elders of Carondelet...sometimes we like to be little kids
 Also, before I forget, if you could add all the friends that have added me on Facebook from Missouri that would be awesome. There are some members that sent me friend requests! Also, I was told to tell you that Eshakti.com is an amazing website for modest clothes. You put in all your measurements and none of the skirts or dresses go shorter than your knee. Plus, you can ask to put on sleeves and they give you all different kinds of choices. So, if you want to check that out that's cool. Um, also we were told to be more careful with the names of investigators, members, and such in our emails home. So, I am going to be more careful to not put people's names. If I somehow forget or want to tell you as a family the names, you should take the names off of the blog.

This week was a week of many first experiences. I went tracting for the first time! Haha. I was like "Wow, now I feel like a real missionary." We only went to a couple of houses and I mostly watched Sister Fisher since she is really good at first approaches. It's not my strongest quality but I'm working on it. We met this guy and, wow, he was interesting. He is a Baptist and he had kind of a discussion with us. He was one of those people that kept telling us we were wrong and leading people astray but like super nicely so you didn't really realize he was insulting you until after. But, we gave him a Book of Mormon and we actually came back to visit him at the end of the week. We had another kind of gospel discussion again but this time I wanted to punch him. That was the first time I have been actually angry at anyone since being on my mission. He knew his bible really well but he would never let us talk. He would say things and then ask questions and we would try to answer and before we could finish anything he would go off on how we were wrong. Then he had the nerve to tell me that I was a 19 year old girl who could not know these things were true because I was too young and my brain wasn't developed yet and that Heavenly Father wouldn't talk to me because I wasn't old enough. He told me I needed to go pray to make sure I know what I am saying is true and that Satan can take the form of an angel. Everytime I tried to bear my testimony or anything he would cut me off and tell me that I didn't know what I was talking about and that he was so much more spiritual than me because he is 30 and has "seen things". I am very blessed to have Sister Fisher because she was able to get us out of there. I was seriously so angry and I can't remember the last time I was that mad. Looking back now it makes me laugh because I feel bad for Sister Fisher. haha. I just chose to pretend like we never met him and to just let it roll off my back because this gospel is so simple and so powerfully true. That's all I have to say about that tracting experience.

Oh, something funny happened like two weeks ago but I forgot to tell you. It was the night before our President interviews and Sister Fisher and I were having such a hard time falling asleep and were super hyper. Anyway, we finally went to bed and about 3:30am I got up and went to the bathroom. I came back in and jumped into bed and Sister Fisher gets up and gets on her knees and starts praying out loud. I was so confused so I just kinda laid there ackwardly and thought, you know, a prayer at 3:30 in the morning doesn't hurt. We can always use more prayers. Anyway, she finishes the prayer and then just sits on the ground and doesn't get back in bed. I am so confused so finally I just ackwardly asked her why she just prayed. She was like "Isn't it time to get up?" I just busted up laughing. "Sister Fisher, it's 3:30 in the morning!" Haha...it was so funny. She has actually done that twice now.

There is something I want to share with you all. A friend emailed me a couple of weeks ago and he was talking to me about less actives and he was referencing a talk given by President Monson and I want to quote what he said to me. He first gave a quote from President Monson who said that the most important thing we can do for less actives is to love them. Then he shared a story of how this man fell away from the church and he talked about the gospel. My friend then said, "The gospel was still in his heart but not in his life. I think that is true with everybody, members and less actives. They have all accepted the gospel and have it in their hearts but just need it in their lives and that's what we are here for. Those people need you out there and you're there to give them the greatest gift of all, the gospel and the way to eternal life." I have been thinking about this for weeks now. How important it is to just love them. That is simply the answer to everything, love. I realized why I was struggling the past week or two. One of the reasons is I have never been one to write goals out. I'd rather figure it out last minute and I have always had goals in my life but not in the sense of super structured goals. We write out so many goals as missionaries and we have numbers we plan for everyday. How many lessons we want to teach, how many investigators we want, blah blah blah. It was really starting to get to me because I hate seeing these people as numbers. I hate the numbers. I hate setting them because sometimes the way we do things is so robotic. We had to open and close with a prayer and teach a principle and leave a commitment with everyone we visited or it wouldn't count as a lesson and we, therefore, would not reach our goals. I felt like the love was missing. It made me think of the people that have impacted me in my life and that helped me come closer to my Heavenly Father. I also thought of Beau, Dallin, and Sean. How much they impacted my life and they didn't sit and have lessons with me or anything like that. They impacted everyone around them because they loved people. The way they treated me and the way they carried themselves taught me more about Christ than any lesson I have had. They had an impact on me because they lived it. We need to live what we are teaching. We need to walk into a home and treat them as Christ would. We shouldn't sit down and go through a planned lesson just to reach a goal. They are not numbers, they are people. I think that is the difference in Sister Fisher and I sometimes. She is so goal oriented. Just amazing at making goals and keeping them but she sets them so high and it becomes so robotic that it is hard for me. When we finally talked about it, it just made all the difference in the world. We have slowly been able to work together using our strengths and weaknesses to help each other out and to truly see these people in a different light. It has made all the difference for me and my attitude. So remember, don't let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. We must love them as Christ would. That's what heals broken hearts and breaks the walls that people build.

So the Joseph Smith movie, the long one, has become my new favorite movie of all time. I watch it any chance I can. I think it is so inspiring and it just amazes me. First off, I want my husband to be like Joseph Smith. I will not settle for any man that does not hold the priesthood or fulfill all his priesthood duties. That has become so important to me, especially with the families here that I work with that don't have the priesthood in their homes. It breaks my heart to see these mothers trying to raise their families without it. They are amazing and are some of the strongest women I have ever met and it truly has helped me see how much I was taking the priesthood for granted. Anyway, that was kind of a tangent. The favorite part of the whole movie is the blacksmith. I still don't know his name and I wish more than anything that I could study the early history of the church because that has become my new favorite thing. I love the Doctrine and Covenants and I don't know why I hated reading it because it has amazing stuff in there. I just love it. Anyway, the blacksmith is my favorite person in the movie because to me he seems so real. He, to me, embodies true faith. He struggles to stay strong and he questions so many times. Even though he hates what he is being asked to do and even though he is angry and bitter, not once does he turn his back on the church and walk away. Struggle after struggle he keeps going even though he feels like his faith no longer exists. Then, when he feels like he can't trust God anymore he brings his dying son to Joseph and Joseph heals him and you can see it in his face how badly he wants to believe. You can see he is holding on. It makes me think of the story on the bible of the man that brings his son to Jesus and Jesus asks him if he believes that he can heal his son. The man says "I believe, help thou my unbelief." I know Elder Holland gave a talk about this also but I just love this movie and seeing this man try so hard to believe and he never gives up. When he comes to Joseph the look in his face says help thou my unbelief....and I just cry like a baby through the whole part because I just love how real he is! So many people believe they have weak faith because they are struggling, but it is in our struggles that we gain strong faith. When we question and we challenge God is when we truly learn how much He does care and how much we can let go and trust Him. I remember the first time that I actually prayed to Heavenly Father asking Him if He was really there. My faith felt shattered and it was through that experience that I gained real faith. We cannot have blind faith. Just because we go along with everything and never question anything doesn't necessarily mean our faith is strong. It is when we truly align our will with God's will that we have true faith. I don't know if any of that made sense but it's just been on my mind lately.

For Halloween, we actually had all of our plans fall through. We had to have our cars parked by 6pm. We could be with a member if they picked us up and drove us but we ended up staying in the apartment and watching movies. It was so relaxing and nice. We also tried going tracting because appointments fell through but it was a super stupid idea cause it was 5pm and everyone opened their doors because they thought we were trick or treaters. But everyone was busy and didn't want to hear a message. Also, it was pouring rain and we were soaked....but I had a blast. It made me homesick a little bit and I felt like the rain was a blessing from God. :)
The missionaries of Carondelet (now called St. Louis Hills) at the Ward Trunk or Treat Party
Playing with the toys that Mom sent
So....transfers. We are staying here!! They just rearranged our boundaries and surprisingly, Sister Fisher and I will now have part of the city. That is why we thought we were leaving because sisters are technically not allowed in the city. We have part of the inner city in our area. Not as much, they gave most of it to the elders but we do have some of it. Our whole area used to be the county but the county now went to the Webster Groves sisters so we don't have that anymore. I joked around all the time in the MTC how I would be the first sister in East St. Louis and, although that will never ever happen, I am the first sister in the city. But, I was kinda hoping to go country but that is okay....I still have a long time.

We had a lesson with Debbie this week (you can leave her name) and we had a short lesson because she just got home from her honeymoon. We listened to President Monson's Sunday conference talk and I think I needed to hear his talk more than she did. In his talk, he quotes a poem. When I was struggling in the MTC (before General Conference), Dad sent me the poem. I have printed it out and I carry it in my scriptures and every morning I have been reciting it because I want to have it memorized. I just want to end my letter with the poem because it inspires me. I can do hard things, right Mom?

The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man,
But lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow at ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.

I love you all so much. Keep sharing the gospel and feed the missionaries!

Love - Sister Lundskog

PS. Oh, I totally forgot to tell you guys about Wednesday. We are given a certain amount of car miles per month. We ran out of miles which meant we were walking....everywhere. There is a reason why our area has a car. We cannot get anywhere without a car. This is a picture of us walking and feeling like typical missionaries. This was the worst day of the week. You know how in Doctrine and Covenants it talks about how you don't need to worry where you will sleep or how you will eat or anything....just trust in the Lord and move forward? The Lord provided for us. We were somehow able to make it to every appointment whether we walked or were blessed with the ride of a member. But, we underestimated later that night how far away a less active's home was when we went to decorate cupcakes with her. They are redoing the sidewalk so there is only mud there now. We walked like five miles in the mud in the dark to her house. We thought we could cut through this park into her neighborhood but when we got to the other side, we were fenced in. So I told Sister Fisher we were jumping the fence. She has never jumped a fence before....haha. Oh man, it was the only time I laughed that whole day. She is like the most obedient person in the world and always has been. I helped make her a little bit of a rebel.
Walking because we hit our "mile limit"
PPS. Oh, I totally forgot this, too! Mom, you will love this. We were having a ward correlation meeting with the three sets of missionaries and we were talking and all of the sudden this little mouse runs out from under the curtain in the Relief Society room. Sister Fisher starts screaming...hahaha....and then we spent like a half hour trying to catch it! There was one point when the mouse ran over her foot and I thought she was going to die! That's when she stood on the chair until they got it. She took pictures for me while I tried to help the elders catch it. Elder Curtis ended up just stepping on it and we are pretty sure he killed it.
The Mouse Hunt

This is me trying to help

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