Monday, October 27, 2014

Which Way Do I Face?

Dear Family and Friends,

Before I get into my week I just want to say thank you to all of you that support me. I got so many emails today from family members and friends telling me how much they love and support me. This week was a little rough on the self-esteem and you don't know how much those emails did to help me. So thank you!

This week was a huge learning experience. Extremely beneficial, but very tough. A good thing though is that our new ward mission leader is amazing. The B's have already helped us sooo much! His phrase is "I want to be the ward mission leader that actually does things." It has been such a blessing because I think the reason this area wasn't exploding is because we weren't working with the ward the way we needed to. But since we have had his help and have started getting more engaged in working with members, we are starting to see a huge change in our area!

This week we had exchanges. Oh man. They were beneficial and taught us a lot. But they were exhausting and very demoralizing. It's like the STLs have to seek out something wrong and if there isn't something wrong we are doing then they make things up. I never thought that when I was on a mission my integrity and my values would be questioned by other missionaries. They were asking me to agree with their opinions like their opinions were doctrine. I know that their intent is good, they are trying really hard to help the mission and they are good missionaries. But their actions aren't lining up with their intentions all of the time. I have been praying like crazy to know where the Lord is and to know when I am pressured to think or act a certain way if it is coming from the Lord or from man. We spent a long time talking about our mission and how to help the missionaries here because a lot of missionaries are falling apart. A lot of them are losing hope. It was interesting because I finally realized the impact I have as a missionary. Just naturally I have an impact on others, we all do, and I realized that I do need to help the leaders in helping other missionaries. We had a long conversation and I was talking about how the STLs are focusing too much on the problem: disobedience. When actually disobedience is the side product of other things like the loss of hope or purpose, being hurt or healing. People act out when they are hurt or don't understand who they are. That is where the problem needs to be addressed, not drilling obedience because no one is ever going to change if their hearts aren't open to hearing it. I thought it was super beneficial for me in learning what I need to do, what I don't agree with, and who I am and who God wants me to be as a missionary. I don't need to be a leader to make an impact. In fact, I can make more of an impact being just who I am - a disciple of Christ.

After exchanges my companion had an emotional break down, Sister Lynn doesn't cry. She is very unemotional. But they were so hard on her she just broke. It made me feel super protective of her. She is a good person. Sometimes she is a little judgmental and self righteous but she loves God and she never backs down from what matters most to her. She is a strong girl and takes everything that is thrown at her with so much grace and patience. I am so blessed to have a companion who pushes me to be better and helps stay true to her values as well.

We found a new investigator this week! It is one of Brother B's friends from Westminster College. Her name is Kaitlyn and she is awesome. She has a lot of amazing questions and is truly interested in the "welfare of her soul". It was a good lesson and we can't wait to see where we will go.

Well I am running out of time at the library but I want to end with what I learned this week.

Do you guys remember the talk from conference, "Which Way Do You Face"? Well, that is what I learned this week. Which way do I face? I have come to the realization that throughout the rest of my life I will always have people pushing me to back down from my values and who will question what I stand for and seek to destroy the integrity I have. This is nothing new and it is something that won't leave any time soon. But when the day comes to an end and I get on my knees, there is only one person that I report to. And when I wake up in the morning there is only one person I have to look in the face. I know that feeling of emptiness at the end of the day for changing who I was to please those around me and I know the deep confusion it brings till I am left alone and broken. So regardless if it is those that do not share the same faith as me or even those who do, at the end of the day what matters is that I still have my integrity, that I did not falter in the face of intimidation. Because when all that is said and done, I want to love myself as the Savior loves me. He truly sees the divinity that is within me and if I face him and move forward with faith, one day I will be able to look him in the face and be proud of who I am and who I became.

I LOVE YOU! Don't ever forget that.

Love - Sister Lundskog

Monday, October 20, 2014

Investigators and Tender Mercies

Dear Family-

This has been such a great week! Definitely did some growing, a lot of growing but it has been a good experience for me. You asked me to talk a little more about my investigators so you can know what I am doing out here.

So first is Carolyn. Carolyn has a baptismal date for November 15th but she still hasn't come to church yet. She is an extremely intelligent lady and she is crazy! But I love it. I always walk away learning something new. We are just trying to help her take the testimony she has and turn it into conversion. Help her take her faith and turn it into action.

Howard is doing awesome. We had a lesson with him this week. Actually, he is praying for a baptismal date. We taught the word of wisdom and he was like "I am 76 years old and I sure love my coffee and tea." We are working with helping him gain a testimony of the things God asks us to do, sometimes when it doesn't make sense. We invited him as Alma did to experiment on the Lord's words. So pray that he can see the Lord's hand in his life because it is there. We just sometimes miss it.

Next is Stephen who is way awesome. He is pretty much a Mormon already haha. He comes to church and he is now teaching us the lessons but until he can find acceptance from his parents he can't move forward. He went and saw "Meet the Mormons" with our new ward mission leader, Brother B, and his wife. He loved it and his goal is to get his parents to go see it! So pray that his parents will soften their heart to Stephen's desire to come closer to Christ.

And last is Barry. We haven't seen Barry in awhile but he is just starting the lessons so we are planning on teaching him lesson 2 on the plan of salvation this week. I am excited and I think it will answer a lot of his questions. He has a lot of questions!

I forgot to tell you that I got to see "Meet the Mormons" at mission conference! It was awesome. The football coach was my favorite. What was your guys' favorite? It had so many views here that they extended it for another week!

Brother B is part of the interfaith group at Westminster College and he invited us to be there for his presentation on Mormons. He did an amazing job; he is a really good member missionary! He had to work really hard to get permission for us to come and it is really funny cause people don't really understand what proselyting is. They were like "Ya but they can't bash any religions." Who has ever been successful in proselyting by bashing other religions? Anyway, they couldn't grasp the concept but they let us come and just be there so that was cool. They then brought three of their friends (who were all at the presentation) to church! Woohoo!!

Christopher dropped us this week. Sad day but it's okay cause he has to be there to support his family right now. They are going through a rough time but he still is an awesome guy and has a very open heart so in time the Lord will provide a way.

What I learned this week:
Something I have been doing every night is writing down a tender mercy I had seen that day. Part of the reason I was doing this was to start trusting in my Father in Heaven. I realized that the trust issues that I have been trying to work through somehow have included my Father in Heaven. So I sought to find His hand everyday in my life and as I was able to see Him truly there everyday it helped me realize that He IS there everyday. Sometimes we can't always see Him. Trust me...there are some days when my tender mercy was that I woke up that morning. It was that bad of a day haha. But the Lord is very aware of us and Satan will do anything to make us feel insignificant or small and unimportant to the world and to our God. But I have learned that we are such fools to every believe something so silly as that. He created us, and He is doing all in His power to remind us how much He loves us.

I love you guys and I can't wait to hear from you next Monday. Have a wonderful week and don't forget how important you are to God and to me!

Love you-

Sister Lundskog

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tough Times Don't Last but Tough People Do

Dear Family-

Hey! So this has been a great week! Super busy. Sister Lynn just came from my old area in Highlands!! Haha So we know like all the same people. It has been awesome. She has been out only 3 months and she just finished training so I am follow up training her. She is great. She is a super strong missionary. She works hard and has a lot of greenie fire! She is from Mona, UT and she has been an answer to a prayer that is for sure. I prayed for a strong companion that would help me be strong as well because honestly these last few transfers I have felt like the only strong one and it is wearing me down thin. But it is alright because the Lord takes care of us.
This week was a little rough number-wise. All of our appointments canceled but that is alright because we still had some amazing lessons. We met with this less active lady, her name is Sister M. We had a lesson with her and we had her share her favorite scripture. She was talking about how she loved the bible and was glad we shared favorite scriptures from the bible as well so we asked her what her feelings were with the Book of Mormon. She told us that honestly she didn't know if she believed in the divinity of Joseph Smith and so that it was hard for her to believe in the Book of Mormon. I felt prompted to say, "Well, the question is do you want to? Do you want to believe; do you want to know? She responded with yes, I do. Man, you could feel the spirit in the room and it was a testimony builder to me that the Lord really does work through us. Sometimes we don't realize until after we have left that the things we said and did were prompted by the Lord but that is where you see His hand the most in your life is through the interactions we have with people. The mission may be hard but I would never trade it because it is these small moments that help strengthen my testimony to weather any storm.
We are getting a new ward mission leader in our ward soon and 8 ward missionaries! I am so excited. I am so ready to dedicate myself to this ward and this work. I can feel that good things are coming.
Reunited with former companions

My old district and companion
Okay so most exciting news! Mission conference was yesterday!!!! It was so amazing I got to see all those that I loved and they were all in one place!!! We had a reunion with the dragon district from back in Highlands area and it just helped give me so much strength to see the support and love from all my friends, past companions, and just everyone. Heavenly Father truly loves us, doesn't he? He gives us exactly what we need the moment we need it to help us move forward. We had a member of the Seventy come talk to us. He is from Africa and I am sorry I have no idea how to spell his name haha. He was awesome. My favorite part of the meeting was when he was talking to us about our heroes. He asked us who are heroes were and why they were our heroes. I thought first of mom and dad of course. Man I can't even begin to explain how much gratitude I have for the two of you. You have made me into the girl I am and I have been so blessed to have such amazing parents like you. I thought of some other people like Spencer and what he has done for me. I thought of all the amazing people that have inspired me on my mission: Buhler, Picket, Fisher, Hansen, Robertson. For people like Coleen and Mark and Julie. For my amazing grandparents and the wisdom they give. I have been so blessed with heroes in my life. The Lord has blessed me with rocks that support me. Like once was said in Conference (it might have been last conference)  "I stand on the shoulders of giants." Thank you! I just cried cause I realized how blessed I am and I hope all of you can feel the gratitude. He asked us to think of a scripture that would explain each of our heroes so that is going to be what I do this week. Find a scripture that makes me think of you guys. Remember, I am always looking up to you, always. Whether you're in Oregon, Utah, 1,000 of miles away, or just a few cities over.

Here is a quote I wanted to share with you that I heard this week:

"With even your strongest faith, God will not always reward you immediately according to your desires. Rather, God will respond with what in His eternal plan is best for you, when it will yield the greatest advantage. Be thankful that sometimes God lets you struggle for a long time before that answer comes. That causes your faith to increase and your character to grow.

Tough times don't last but tough people do. Thank you for everything. I wouldn't be who I am without such an amazing family that has grown to reach so many more people than just by blood. Mom, I love you more than anything. I hope you know that. I look up to you in so many ways. Don't you ever feel inadequate or unimportant. You are a rock and you can do hard things :)

I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, your baby I'll be.

LOVE YOU!

Sister Lundskog
These are the creepy bugs that are in our apartment all of the time

Monday, October 6, 2014

God Speaks to Us in Our Language

Dear Family!

Oh my goodness this week is over! It was crazy and it was a very hard week with many blessings in it as well! I will try and tell you everything I can remember from this week!

So Monday we had a Sister's Pday. It was alright. Not that many sisters came but, hey, we got to leave Fulton and see other missionaries which is a big blessing. We went to Devil's Ice box. I have already been there. It is that cave in Columbia that I went to with my district when I was serving in the Highlands. It was fun and we enjoyed it. I have learned to have a lot of tolerance for sisters and to find ways to have fun even if I have nothing in common with the majority of them. But the minute they start talking about fashion...I give up haha.

Tuesday was an awesome day. We had a lot of appointments. We had an awesome lesson with Barry. He is our newest investigator. We just talked about the Book of Mormon and how we feel when we feel the Holy Ghost. I love hearing all the different ways that the Holy Ghost or the spirit talks to people. It just proves even more how loving our Father in Heaven is when He comes down to our level and talks to us exactly in the way we need. He doesn't talk down to us or in ways we won't understand. He speaks to us in our language, whatever will touch our heart the most. We then saw Howard, our other investigator. He is the sweetest old man. We had a super powerful lesson where we talked about baptism and why we needed it and we invited him to be baptized. He said yes and he is going to be praying for a date this week. It was really cool, I think, also for Sister Corder to have that experience. One last opportunity to invite someone to accept Christ and it was really emotional for her. It was great! The rest of the day we just had awesome lessons with LA, RC and even met with a part member family. It was cool because we talked about church with her and why it is so hard to go to church and to get back in that habit. It made me really reflect on my life and it is weird because even when I wasn't following some of the church's teachings, I never once skipped church. Whether you believe in this church or not you cannot deny the feeling that you have when you are there. Our souls or our spirits seek for that feeling. I was able to testify to her that, ya, maybe it is a hard habit. Ya, maybe it takes a lot of time out of your day but if you truly understand that the reason we go to church is to have that one on one opportunity to learn from our Savior, none of those excuses would matter anymore. I remember when I was in Heber and I would go to church every single time by myself and sit by myself. I never felt alone because I know that the Savior was sitting there with me. How blessed are we to have that opportunity every Sunday?

So this really frustrated me this week. The STLs wanted to do a second exchange this transfer. It was really, really stressing Sister Corder out. I was supposed to stay in Fulton on Wednesday and Thursday and Sister Mendenhall would come down and Sister Corder would go to Columbia with Sister Fisher. Well, Sister Corder was super upset cause she was going to miss the opportunity to say goodbye to some people (which is understandable) and she was just stressing out for no reason about packing and everything. So she called the STLs and was trying to cancel the exchange but Sister Fisher wouldn't let her (which made Sister Corder really upset and I had to hear about it all night) so Sister Corder stayed in Fulton and Sister Fisher came down and I went to Columbia with Sister Mendenhall. Here is why I am upset. We had a massive storm come in, it was a really, really bad storm. The worst one I have seen my whole mission. Tornado sirens went off, the power was out, lightning and thunder everywhere, it was raining super hard. Well, guess what? Sister Corder got to see the sky go green which is something I have been waiting for my whole life pretty much.. The tornado almost touched down in part of our area. The funnel for the tornado formed and everything it just didn't touch down. I was so upset I missed it. I know that sounds crazy and stupid but it has been just a huge thing for me and you know when you just are so excited for something and then it doesn't happen and you know you shouldn't be upset because that is silly but it just makes you so sad. That is how I felt and I know I shouldn't have been bitter but the whole week, well a lot of the transfer really, was all revolved around Sister Corder cause she was going home. Which is fine. I understand but I was just really sad. But it is okay, I will get another opportunity. It was a crazy storm though and it lasted forever. We had thunder and lightning for two days and usually storms blow out super fast here but this one was a big one! Anyway, exchanges were really good. I really like and have a ton of respect for Sister Mendenhall. She is a lot like me, just very calm and not girly at all haha. We got along great and she has already gained my respect for her as a leader in how she handles everything. She is very real. I was actually a little disappointed in Sister Fisher this week. I feel like leadership is changing her. She just said some things to Sister Corder that just wasn't right and has made some judgement calls on some people recently that have been way off. It gets hard having to try and defend her all the time to everyone in my district and other missionaries. Missionaries just really don't like STLs. They have a bad name for themselves in how they interact with everyone. But it is alright. Can't do anything about what they do, just how I will react :)

When Sister Corder was on exchanges she set a baptismal date for November 15th with Carolyn, our gator. SO THAT IS SOME EXCITING NEWS! Carolyn is crazy...haha. We have a lot of work and teaching to do before she can be baptized but her heart is in the right place.

So...Conference!!! That was amazing. Exactly what I needed to hear. On Saturday we watched at the church and the Mexico sisters came down and watched it with us. We had the whole chapel to ourselves and we ordered pizza and brought blankets and just enjoyed it. I TOOK SO MANY NOTES. What do you think the theme was this year? I feel like there were a lot of talks on trust. At least that is what I got out of it. Trust yourself and your decisions; trust in the Lord and that He is our Savior; trust in your leaders and in the gospel which is something I think I really needed to hear. Trust is such a hard thing for us as humans to do sometimes. It takes a lot to just give everything and fully trust someone. But, we can have perfect trust in the Lord. My favorite talk was by that Jorge guy (haha I don't remember his name). He talked about the 6 steps to have spiritual confidence. I really needed to hear that. President Uchtdorf always gives amazing talks and I loved the story Elder Bednar told. D. Todd Christofferson gave an amazing talk. THEY WERE ALL SO GOOD. On Sunday we went over to the "B's" house. They are a young couple in our ward and they fed us breakfast and lunch and it was the first time my whole mission that I watched conference at a member's home. It was so awesome and really helped out with the homesickness. They made us crepes :) So good. It made me think of the time our district in Highlands made crepes for conference. These were a lot better haha.

Well, I have written a lot and I think my mind is officially fried. Oh, next week on Monday we have our Mission Conference so my Pday will be on Tuesday. So I won't be ignoring you. I just won't be online :)

I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH! Keep being amazing and know how much I love all of you. Mom, Dad, Allison, Justin, extended family, friends, mission friends...you all know who you are and you all know how much I love you. Thank you for being the strength to keep me going. I couldn't do it without you.

Love - Sister Lundskog