Monday, March 30, 2015

Happy Day

Maryam got baptised. So happy!

10 Things I've Learned/Gained on my Mission

Dear Family,

This is most likely the last email I will get to send to you. Next Monday is a Bank Holiday and after that my mission is pretty much over! I can't believe it. I wanted to share with you all the valuable lessons that I've learned on my mission. I want to assure you that these lessons are more than skin deep and that they will affect every decision I make for the rest of my life. The love and gratitude I have for my mission is indescribable and I will never be able to say it in words. But hopefully this email (which is way longer than I intended it to be) will share some of the most valuable gifts Heavenly Father has given me whilst I've been in the mission field.

10 Things I’ve Learned/Gained on my Mission

1.       An intense love and gratitude for the Atonement of Jesus Christ
·         When I embarked on my mission, I expected to learn more about the Saviour and his Atoning sacrifice. But I never could have expected the overwhelming amount of love that has grown in me for the Saviour or the literally countless moments when I have experienced the power of the Atonement first hand. I’ve grown to love and understand my Saviour, Jesus Christ, more than I ever anticipated. Something I wasn’t expecting to learn was that the Atonement all started with a loving Heavenly Father. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Before my mission I didn’t really understand the relationship between God the Father and His Only Begotten Son. The Saviour said: “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38) and “I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me” (3 Nephi 27:13-15).  I’m so thankful that it was Heavenly Father’s will for Christ to perform the Atonement and I’m grateful that Jesus Christ was perfectly willing to follow His Father. On my mission I’ve come to realize that everything happy in my life I owe to the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

2.       An obedient heart
·         Because of my mission, I love being obedient. I love living on the Lord’s side of the line. I’ve learned that there is absolutely nothing happier, safer, or more satisfying than keeping the commandments. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments…He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:15,21). Not only has serving a mission helped me to love being obedient, but it has helped me to love being obedient for the right reasons. I want to show Heavenly Father how much I love him. Keeping the commandments is the best way to do that. I’m so thankful for commandments because they are road signs that guide me down the path of life happily, safely, and joyously.

3.       How to struggle productively
·         Before my mission, if something was hard, I would get anxious, nervous, and overwhelmed. I didn’t know how to use the Atonement to help me overcome my personal trials and challenges. Serving a mission has taught me HOW to access the Saviour’s power and receive relief, comfort, and strength even in the midst of adversity. At the beginning of my mission, if something was hard I would say a prayer something like this: “Dear Hevenly Father, this is uncomfortable. I don’t like it. Please, please, PLEASE take it away!” When God didn’t take my trial away, I felt abandoned and like God wasn’t hearing my prayers. But slowly throughout my mission (with specific help from my brother in law, Jeff) I’ve learned how to not drown when the waves of adversity come my way. I’ve learned that, “[God’s] thoughts are not [my] thoughts, neither are [my] ways [God’s] ways…For as the heavens are highter than the earth, so are [God’s] ways than [my] ways, and [His] thoughts than [my] thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Because of my mission, I trust the Lord enough to not panic when something turns out to be much more difficult than I anticipated. I’ve really learned to trust that trials are allowed and given to help me stretch and grow. Because process can be painful at times, God sent His son to experience everything we would go through so there would be a comforting force to help us when we go through adversity.

4.       How to pray
·         My mission experience has also taught me how to have meaningful conversations with Heavenly Father. I now depend on my regular communication with Him whereas before I might’ve been able to survive a day or two without it. Heavenly Father’s love for His children is steady and unchanging. On my mission I’ve felt that love more than ever before as I’ve knelt and communed with my Father.

5.       How to repent daily
·         “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). My whole life I’d say I was a pretty OK person. I made an effort to repent if I did something I thought was EXTRA bad, but generally I just assumed that because I was going through life pretty averagely that I didn’t need to repent every day. On my mission, I’ve learned how to joyfully embrace sincere daily repentance. I’ve learned how to account to Heavenly Father every night and seek His help for ways to improve. As I did this, I learned that repentance isn’t just saying sorry or simply quitting a bad habit. It is actually a change of heart. Since my desire to be obedient has also grown over the past 18 months (see #2) my heart has truly turned towards God and my greatest desire is to please Him. Learning to embrace daily repentance has made me happy and feel better about myself than I ever have before.

6.       How to love and be compassionate
·         I’ve always been a pretty blunt person. On my mission I’ve had to learn that the blunt way I communicate with people can be hurtful and damaging. I used to feel justified in being angry or impatient with the shortcomings and weaknesses of others, forgetting that I too have weaknesses and appreciate when people are patient with me. On my mission I’ve become softer, slower to anger, more willing to see the bigger picture. Things that used to make me so upset simply don’t anymore. These are lessons that I’ve learned from each of my companions as well as from President Ulrich. One of the things I will remember forever that President Ulrich has said is: “There are two types of people in the world. People I love and people that I don’t know yet.” For the rest of my life I will be working to increase the amount of charity I have for all those around me. I’m grateful for the example of the Saviour who said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 4:44). I hope that on my mission I’ve learned how to love and show mercy to those around me.

7.       Love of the scriptures
·         Throughout my life I’ve gone up and down with my love and dedication to gospel study. But on my mission my desire to “Feast upon the words of Christ” (2 Nephi 32:3) has increased dramatically. The scriptures have become my guide book to life. I love this quotation from Richard G. Scott: “Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media.” For the rest of my life I will make studying the gospel my FIRST priority.

8.       Actively seeking truth is vital to eternal progression
·         Most of the people I’ve come into contact with over the past 18 months have considered themselves to be either Catholic or Church of England (C of E). The peculiar thing is, they have no idea WHY they are the religion that they are. If I had a pound for everytime I’ve had this conversation: Me: Hi! I’m a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Them: I’m not interested, I’m Catholic. Me: Oh, so you believe in God? Them: Well, no, not really. I don’t go to church. I’m just Catholic.  I’ve also asked many people if they believe that the church they attend is the true church of Jesus Christ on the earth today. Many of them have said no! And yet they still have no interest in learning about anything that is different than what they’ve been brought up with. The bottom line is, many people don’t care what is true or not, they just want to be comfortable living the way they are living. They’ve never prayed to know if God is there- they’ve never even wanted to know. They don’t care what is true or not, it just doesn’t bother them.After being exposed to this problem in our society on my mission, I’ve learned that actively seeking truth is necessary to living with God after this life. I’m sure there are moments in my life where someone could’ve asked me why I’m Mormon and my only response would have been, “Because my parents are.” But the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is designed to help people of all ages to eventually know for themselves that all it’s doctrines are true. To be able to live with God after this life, you HAVE TO KNOW FOR YOURSELF. You can’t reach the judgement bar and say, “Oh thank goodness my parents were right! I wasn’t really sure until now. Good thing I just never thought for myself and went with the flow.” That kind of life doesn’t inspire change, true worship, or real faith. I’m so thankful for this lesson I’ve learned on my mission because it will help me as I try to help my own children and others around me to actively SEEK truth in a world with so many false doctrines, philosophies, and ideas.

9.       Loving missionary work is essential to becoming like God
·         Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints know that “This life is the time to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors” (Alma 34:32). When we meet God, we want to be like Him so that we would feel comfortable living in His presence. Something really wonderful about God is that he rejoices in sharing what He has with everyone possible. In fact, giving others what he has is his entire purpose as described in Moses 1:39: “For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” The way God gets out the very gospel that can help others achieve eternal life is through us, his servants. As members of the church, I’ve noticed we can be very proud of ourselves when we are doing our own family history work, going to the temple, reading our scriptures, attending our meetings, accepting callings, etc. And we can forget that if we don’t care about the spiritual progress of others, it really doesn’t count for anything and we aren’t becoming more like the Saviour or Heavenly Father. On my mission I’ve learned that until sharing what I have with others is my #1 priority, I can’t live with God because I’m not like Him yet. God thought that giving EVERYONE a chance to live with Him was so important that he sent His Son to suffer and die for all of us. Imagine living with a God who was willing to sacrifice so much for YOU, and you weren’t willing to share it with others. It would just be uncomfortable. Missionary work changes our natures and helps us become more like God.

10.   A HUGE appreciation for my parents and sisters
·         My mission is the second greatest blessing of my life. The absolute greatest and most wonderful blessing God ever could have given me on this earth is Steve, Krista Lee, Elisa, and Marianne. My mission has only increased my love, admiration, and respect for the 4 members of my immediate family. Their support and encouragement meant everything to me over the past 18 months. I couldn’t have done it without them. I’m very excited to be reunited with them.

 I love you all. I'm so grateful you've been able to support me and communicate with me throughout the best 18 months of my entire life. I'll see you soon :)

Sister Bement

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pride and Prejudice Dream Come True

Okay, first things first. I need to tell you about Lymepark. It was AMAZING. Wildest dreams, CAME TRUE. There were 12 of us sisters and we had a ball dressing up, walking around, and pretending like we lived in Downton Abbey. It was heaven. Enjoy!

Sister McDonnell and I. This has been our dream for a year! We went on exchange January 2014 and decided we were Pride and Prejudice soul mates. Over a year later our dream of going to Lyme park together came true!

Sister Guymon and I

All of us pretending that we own the place.

This is the group of sisters that I'm going home with. LOVE THEM TO DEATH! We are also all rooming together at Byu-I. It's gonna be madness!

Sister Conlogue and I posing.

Enjoying the grounds with lady Leanne

​Walking around the grounds

​It was SO wonderful and so much fun!

Another very important tidbit of information is that Maryam and Mehdi passed their baptismal interviews on Wednesday! President Ulrich actually did the interview and it was a really great experience. Afterwards Sister Guymon and I got to talk to President for an hour about doctrinal questions we had. Lemme just tell ya, it was really fun. I'm so grateful for him. I'll send a picture of the gang that that has made all of this Maryam and Mehdi miracle possible in a separate email because there is no space in this one!

Mehdi is on the far left with Pasha on his lap, Ramin and Faezeh are together in the back. Malina (their daughter) is in front of them. Maryam is in the center with Parsa on her lap. I'm with Malika (Ramin and Faezeh's daughter) and Sister Guymon is on the far right.

This group of people has made my last month as a missionary more joyful than I ever could imagine. This has been such a fast paced miracle. I can hardly believe how much as happened in just 3 weeks. Maryam and Mehdi are getting baptised this Saturday at 6pm. Sister Guymon and I can't wait and are happy beyond words. 

I just had to share this special picture with all of you.

Another fun event of the week was the eclipse! Sister Guymon and I spend ourFriday morning companionship study outside to catch it! It was neat!

(by the way, I am wearing a skirt under this. I'm not in my pjs. And that Is a PMG in my lap)

Well, that's about it for this week folks. I'm pumped to "hoe to the end of the row" these next 2 weeks. Life is so good. I couldn't be happier or more grateful for my time in the EMM. Love you all to bits!

Sister Bement

Monday, March 16, 2015

Wonderful family, great exchange and Book of Mormon study

Life is so good here in Manchester! It's been such a wonderful week. Words can't really do it justice but I'll have to try since I only took one picture. Sorry!

First of all, let me just tell you about Maryam and Mehdi. This is the Iranian couple that I told you about last time. They are so wonderful! I love them so much. Some Iranian recent converts in the ward, Ramin and Faezeh have helped us SO much this week. I love them so much as well :) Faezeh and Maryam are really like my sisters. We definitely were friends in the pre-earth life! I just can't believe that Heavenly Father has been so merciful to me in the very last month of my mission. Maryam and Mehdi are getting baptised on 28 March. It's going to be such a special day. 

Our week has consisted of appointments with Maryam and Mehdi, service, and finding in between. It's just been so great! Oh, I also go to go on exchange with a really cute Philippina sister. Her name is Sister Oli. She was excited when I told her about Irene :) Sister Oli made the yummiest food for me ever. She also was just a really great example of diligence and patience to me. She got baptised 6 years ago and has helped her mom, 2 sisters, and brother get baptised. She is hoping that her dad will be baptised on her mission. She got her mission call a whole year ago but had to wait 10 months for her visa. While she was waiting she did a 3 month mini mission in the Philippines. I think that is amazing! Also, even though English is her second language, she is not afraid to talk to EVERYONE. She was bus contacting, stopping people in the streets, and doing all she could to make sure she shared her message with anyone who would listen. It was such a fun exchange.

Oops...I left my camera in the car. So I can't even send the one picture that I did take this week with Sister Oli. Sorry! I'll send it next week.

Something that has really blessed my life lately is my study of the Book of Mormon. I felt prompted a few months ago to start reading a few chapters every night before I go to bed in addition to my personal study in the mornings. I got the idea when I was pondering how I could make sure that I still studied the gospel everyday after my mission. I think that 9.5/10 missionaries would be able to rant for 10 minutes strait about how much they loved their personal study each morning. I'm the same! But a few months ago I realised that it's one thing to study every morning from 8-9am because during that hour there is nothing else to do, and a whole other thing to study the gospel because you love it and need spiritual food everyday. So I thought one way I could prove to myself that I'm not only studying the gospel because it would be disobedient NOT to would be to read the Book of Mormon a time when I didn't HAVE to. 

A picture with the Book of Mormon from earlier in Jenni's mission

So every night sing a hymn, say a prayer, get in bed, and read the Book of Mormon for a few minutes. This simple addition  to my nightly routine has done wonders for me. I thought I loved the Book of Mormon before, but I honestly feel like my love for it has doubled over the past few months. I know it is absolutely true and it teaches me how I can be happy in this life. Why wouldn't I read it? I'm so grateful for the power, peace, and truth it adds to my life. Last night in bed I read 3 Nephi 9:14-15 "Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me. Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God." I love the Saviour.

Well, that's about it for this week! I haven't had time to respond to everybody this week because we are going to Lyme Park today with a bunch of sisters! It's gonna be so much fun. Pictures next week!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Another Wonderful Week

Dearest family,

This has been one of the most wonderful weeks of my mission. It truly has! So many spiritual moments and tender mercies. I don't know where to start. I'm just going to start with Monday and go through 'til Sunday!

Monday: All our proselyting plans fell through in the evening. We were basically left with 3 hours to find in the windy cold. We felt a bit down about it, but we ended up deciding to ditch the car and go contact a referral. Well, it's a good thing we did! We knocked on the door and a man popped his head out of the window upstaris. He said, "Are you mormons?" We said yes, not quite knowing if that was a good thing or a bad thing to him. But he said, "Give me one second, I'll come down." When he opened the door we saw one of the saddest people I've ever seen. He looked completely drained of all happiness and light. He told us that he's been divorced, his wife took their kids to Japan, and he is all alone. His name is Pete. He said he was confused about his purpose in life now because for so long it was to protect his children. But now that his children are gone, what's the point to life? He was definietly verging on suicidal. We shared our testimonies about God's love, our divine purpose, and lot's of scriptures from the Book of Mormon. We stood on his doorstep for about 30 minutes. We asked if we could go back the next day and he said yes. We brought Sister Brogan with us Tuesday afternoon and we went in and taught him again. Pete really needs the gospel. His Thursday appointment fell through, but we stopped by again last night and scheduled a new one. Pete is a miracle!

Tuesday: We had a wonderful district meeting at the Lee's! Gotta love our seniour couples. Sister Lee made us homemade mac 'n cheese. SO GOOD. Holy moly. It was a fun district meeting because the Zone leaders AND assistants showed up. They said it was revelation but I'm pretty sure they just heard that Sister Lee was cooking. Here is a pic of the lovely Hyde district+zls+aps!

Wednesday: Temple day! It was so wonderful! Everyone who took President and Sister Ulrich's challenge to exercise 30 minutes everyday for the whole month of January got to go on a special temple trip. It was so special and such a blessing. My times at the Preston temple are numbered so I tried to enjoy every second of it.

Thursday: Chinese Specialised training! Such a good meeting. So, even though President Ulrich told me I should stop studying Chinese a few months ago and I haven't been in a Chinese area for almost 9 months...I still got to go to the Chinese missionary meeting at the mission home. WOOT WOOT. It was SO. GOOD. Why haven't we been having these my whole mission? We talked about how we could help our Chinese Recent Converts stay more active as well as how we can improve our language learning. Basically, in the meeting we developed a program that would last your whole mission to keep you on track learning Chinese. I'm so happy for all the Chinese missionaries in the EMM in the future because, lemme just tell ya, it's gonna be good. During the meeting I couldn't help but start feeling a bit down that I was going to be missing all these changes, but I'm working on accepting it.

This is Sister Chu and me. She is serving in Lancaster right now so we were just talking talking talking before the meeting started. She is so tiny and cute so I thought I'd sit on her.

Friday: Mission Leadership Council with all the District Leaders
This was a powerful meeting! So much fire and inspiration! There are so many exciting things happening in the near future for the EMM. #1 being the iPads coming in May. Yes, May. So I'm mission it. Gah! So I felt a little blue during this meeting as well. It's just hard to know what you are going to miss! 

Here is Sister Guymon and I at MCL.

Saturday: Okay, this was one of the most exciting days of my entire mission! Remember how we found an Iranian family a few months ago? Well, we've been teaching them English on and off since meeting them. We would talk about the gospel and the Book of Mormon as well. But they just weren't too interested. WELL. We went by on Saturday and God had totally prepared them. Maryam has decided that she doesn't like the church she has been going to. She said she wants to try ours. We have a few Iranian members in our ward which has really helped because they are friends with Maryam and Mehdi. They do a lot of fellowshipping without us even there! But anyways, in one visit we changed from teaching them English to Maryam being dated for baptism this month! On Sunday the miracle continues:

Sunday: Maryam, Mehdi, Pasha (baby), and Parsia (6 years old) came to church! And they loved it. Afterwards, Mehdi (in broken Enlgish) was saying to me that Maryam's baptism date was really soon. So I asked him, "is that good or bad?" And he said, "Good good! You come to our house anytime!" So, we are going tonight to start the teaching process. It is going to take a lot of faith and prayer because sadly, Sister Guymon and I just don't speak Farsi! Ramen and Faezeh (Man South members) are going to help us a lot. We are just going to rely on the Spirit and go for it! I'm so happy and so humbled that this miracle has literally just been placed in hands. Being a missionary is the most wonderful thing in the entire world.

Well family, do you see why this was one of the best weeks of my entire mission? I'm so grateful to be here. I hope that all of you have great weeks! Here from ya soon!

Sister Bement

Monday, March 2, 2015

Eat Chocolate and Be Merry... ;)

Woah. The first week of your last transfer does some strange things to you emotionally. Last night I finally understood why girls eat chocolate when they feel sad. It was my last member missionary fireside. I kept switching from intense sadness to complete joy every few minutes! It was so exhausting. I was so emotional that I could hardly even open my mouth to sing during the musical number. I saw so many people that have impacted my mission. The best part was seeing Ken. I haven't seen him since I left Lancaster in June. It was true joy! 

So, back to the chocolate. Sister Guymon and I got in the car and I was just a mess. Luckily, a member had given us a whole tub of chocolate the day before. Sister Guymon handed it to me and said, "Eat." So I did. And you know what? It seriously made me feel better. So. There ya go. (For those of you who don't know, I didn't even like chocolate when I left on my mission).

But! This week has been absolutely wonderful. Sister Guymon is an angel. We really click. We've had a lot of fun finding and teaching together. I truly have been blessed with wonderful companions. 

Hey! Exactly 17 months ago today I entered the MTC. I can't even believe it. 

I didn't take any pictures this week...sorry. I'll send some from last week and an old one of Sister Guymon and I from this summer.

This is Raman and Faezeh and their 2 cute girls. This is my favourite place to be in Man South! They got baptised in November and are SO wonderful. Every time we go over Faezeh makes us the yummiest hot chocolate ever. Don't know how she does it. Their story of how they came into the church is also SO AMAZING.

This is Len. He is such a faithful member of the Man South ward and always is taking care of us sister missionaries. 

And this is the lovely Sister Guymon. This was taken in the summer so we both look a little different. But you get the picture (no pun intended).

Oh family. I can't express in words how I feel right now. I'm so happy. I truly do have blessings unmeasured. I hope you all are well!