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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

If

Dear Family,

Well I can't even remember what happened this week but it was a lot better than last week. Sorry that letter was so depressing! This week might not have changed much but things have definitely gotten a lot better. I realized that we are going into the fourth week of the transfer and I am running out of time!

Everything is okay; we are working hard and not thinking about home as much as possible. We tried to visit Dusty and Brianna this week but Brianna said her mom was having a bad day and to try this week so we are gonna give it one more shot to talk to her. We were able to see Rosa a lot this week. It has been hard trying to get her to understand the importance of the gospel..how much she doesn't just need but she has to have it in her life. Right now their pipes broke (last week when it was super cold) so the only time we get in is when they need water. So we have been filling tons of milk jugs and bringing water over to them. We hope that we can find what it is that will help her realize that if she just devoted herself to God, her problems wouldn't necessarily be solved but she would be able to get through them with a hope that no one else can give except the Savior.

We volunteered at the food pantry this week as always. It's my favorite day of the week! We get to carry their box of food to their car for them which, to me, is just the greatest thing. I love doing service! You just get so happy no matter how much work it is you feel so complete! Haha--funny story. You know how all that stuff is happening in Paris, France right now? Well, there was an elder in our district that heard about it and got all worried about us because he thought we were in danger. Bless his heart, he thought there was a huge terrorist attack right here in Paris, Illinois!

So here is Karen, our investigator's, latest question. We were able to explain the priesthood and how not everyone who has the priesthood is from the tribe of Levi because we explained that one of Christ's apostles was from the tribe of Benjamin. (I studied the heck out of the twelve tribes of Israel this week by the way) So she understands and accepts that but her question now is that Nephi lived 600 years prior to Christ so where did the transition happen that people outside of the tribe of Levi could hold the priesthood and officiate in the church offices? If anyone has insight on that we would love your help.

What I learned this week:

I have been reading "Jesus, the Christ" a lot lately and my goal is to finish it before the end of my mission. I have learned so much and I feel like my relationship with Christ has grown so much. But this week I learned something really cool. I was reading the part when Christ fasts for 40 days and the devil comes to tempt him. If you compare the 3 things that Satan tempts him with, they all come down to doubt. Everything lies in the powerful word of IF. IF you are the Christ. Satan's biggest and most powerful tool is to make Christ doubt that He is the son of God; doubt that He is the Savior. I realized how much there is in that word "if". If you are a daughter of God... why are you failing? Why are you so ugly...why? Satan's greatest tool in leading us off the path is to make us doubt who we are. To doubt our Father in Heaven, doubt that He knows us by name and that He loves us. Doubt that we could ever be forgiven. But the Savior never doubted in who He was or who his father was. We must always remember that we are divine and of the GREATEST IMPORTANCE to our Heavenly Father--every minute of everyday. He loves us and He will never stop loving us. Never let Satan place that "if" in your heart.

I love you guys so much and I am so grateful to be a missionary! Happy Birthday, Sister Hansen and Gloria! I hope all of you are having a wonderful week and know that I am praying for every one of you--especially you, Allie, cause I get nervous with you being in the Ukraine. Don't be stupid or my prayers won't work! haha I LOVE YOU!

Sister Lundskog

Monday, January 12, 2015

Understanding Trials

Dear Family-

This was probably the hardest week of my mission. We had the worst lessons I have ever had in my life. I swear every lesson we had this week the investigators challenged every point of doctrine that exists in the church and just attacked us. It was exhausting trying to answer such deep doctrine questions. I feel like we just got ripped apart by everyone we saw this week. But it's okay, the week is over, and we got the opportunity to bear testimony again and again that God loves us. But I definitely think it took its toll on me.

We had a lesson with our gators, Dusty and Brianna, this week and it was extremely overwhelming. Brianna thinks that she has made too many mistakes for God to love her anymore and she thinks the devil owns her (she is 13 mind you). So trying to get a word in while all the adults yelled at her for an hour... totally almost lost my cool. But we were able to share D&C 18:15 "the worth of every soul is great in the sight of God" and Alma 36 reminding her that she can never sink lower than God's love. It is infinite. Then we got a text this Friday from their fellowshipper, Sister Weaver, saying they don't want anything to do with us anymore and to never come back. I think of when Dusty sat and testified to Brianna that their lives have changed and that they have been blessed so much from the gospel that we brought to them. She said that over and over again to her daughter...listen to the missionaries and they will help you change your life. So that was a big blow.

This week we had zone conference and I think it is the best zone conference I have ever been to on my whole mission. I finally agree with everything our mission is trying to achieve. Our goal for the year is 453 baptisms based on the scripture from Alma 45:3 "Yea I believe." President Morgan went out of his way to personally talk to me and see how I am doing. I feel like I finally have a good relationship with him and I can rely on him and it has been such a blessing I can't even begin to tell you.

We had to drop Andrea and her two girls this week as well because we just can't teach them right now due to some circumstances. I honestly think this week about did me in. I am frustrated that I haven't found success since I left Highlands. I have spent 2/3 of my mission working to help people and lately every time I come into an area I lose everyone in my teaching pool. I don't understand what is wrong with me or the reason the Lord even called me on a mission if I can't find success. I am tired of feeling like a failure. But I know I am just tired and the week was long and I had less actives and an investigator and a companion challenging and putting down who I am and what I believe. But I know that there are always good things to come. I know God puts us through trials so we learn what is worth trialing through. I wouldn't value or cherish my testimony if I had never been challenged to keep it. We don't understand those that matter to us until that relationship is challenged. Trials help us understand what is most dear to our hearts.

Anyway, pray that the weather gets better, It has been in the -30s with the wind chill. We got ice last night and it is supposed to get even worse tomorrow so I pray that the mission won't "park" the cars so we won't have to walk in the cold!

Love you with all my heart!

Sister Lundskog

PS. Hey...fun fact. Brent Eldredge, the country singer, is from Paris and he wrote a song about Paris called "Signs." So if you want to know what this place is like, listen to the song. Haha

PPS. Tell Aunt Claire thanks for her letters. I am trying to read them all and respond but I only have one hour at the library.

Sister Rouse & I in our matching hats

Monday, January 5, 2015

I Love the Lord For Loving Me

Dear Family-

What a week! Well, it's already the beginning of week two for this transfer. This week we spent a lot of time saying goodbye to people for Sister Willmore. I know this transfer was really hard but I did gain an appreciation for who Sister Willmore is. I know God had me serve with her so I could learn the lessons I needed and I do wish that I had loved her a little more. But, all is well and we move forward. I now have Sister Rouse. It has been good. I am a little nervous for this transfer just because of the differences between her and me. This week has been a very good week. You can already feel just this change in the branch's attitude with the way Sister Rouse and I have interacted with them. She and I are both on the same page. We agree that it is all about the people, LOVE THE PEOPLE. So we are already seeing a change in everyone and I can just feel miracles coming on. I think the Lord is ready to bless Paris.
Sister Willmore & I on Christmas eve in our PJs mom sent.
The black shirts were in the wash

Christmas eve in our house with the presents
We got some snow yesterday and today it is 10 degrees outside. Our high on Wednesday is supposed to be -1 so will you all please pray for me that I don't die! That would be very appreciated!

What I learned this week:
A couple of Sundays ago Brother Randolph said something when he was bearing his testimony. He said "I love the Lord so much for loving me." I feel like that really hit home with me, not just this past week  but this transfer. I think it was the most wonderful blessing to be able to be part of the "He is the Gift" program with the church. I spent everyday bearing testimony of my Savior. I realized this Sunday that as missionaries we bear testimony all the time and until now I didn't realize how routine my testimony had become. It hit me during church this Sunday how much more feeling there is in my testimony, how unique testimonies are to each person I am talking to. Not that there wasn't meaning in them before but that I allowed Christ to be the center of attention in my life everyday for a month. Every time I passed out 300 cards with his picture. I realized how much he loves me, even when I am inadequate or don't do my best or am not the most Christlike. He still loves me. What's crazy is he loves everyone the same amount. He loves me when someone slams a door in my face or when a companion tears me down. But knowing that he still loves that person behind that door and that companion as much as he loves me...I have no idea where I would be without my Savior. This morning we were able to attend seminary and share our decision to serve a mission. I realized that this is what the Lord had in store for me all along and when I wandered from that plan, He sent me a Savior. How blessed am I to have a brother who loves me so much he was willing to give me all he had just to make sure I NEVER felt alone. I am so loved and I just want you all to know... I LOVE THE LORD SO MUCH FOR LOVING ME.

Love you.

Sister Lundskog
A sunset in Paris, Illinois