Monday, February 29, 2016

week 59 my pillow is my only constant in my life

the subject line basically sums this transfer up completely. I have no idea who my companion is or where my area is anymore. Insanity at it's finest.

Here's my story for the week, but lets start with the moral: Sister Training Leaders need Sister Training Leaders.

At MLC this week Sister Huber and I were approached by another set of sisters about having us do an exchange with them. President told us after the meeting that it would probably be a good idea if we did so since they are both newer to the mission. Luckily, we are always packed up ready to go because we basically live out of our car from Tuesday to Saturday. Have no fear! 

It was actually pretty crazy because we were planning on an exchange with some of our other sisters but it didn't feel right. The second we decided to go down, I felt like it was EXACTLY what we needed to do. We got down there late in the afternoon and answered some questions about being an STL, before we split and headed out to work.

When I got in the car with this sister, I had the DISTINCT impression to "listen to her". So I did. As we drove to the area we were going to be working in, I had another thought come to mind to forget the plans that we had for the night and help this sister. She expressed to me a lot of things that she had been faced with lately and just how much she had been bottling up.

It was a humbling experience as I talked with her. Every time I tried to think logically, I failed in trying to help her. Whenever it was Sister Sackley talking, we ended up running around in circles. But when I listened to the spirit, everything became very clear. What it came down to was she felt worthless, absolutely worthless and wanted to go home. In fact, she had been wanting to go home for a couple months.

Once again, another impression came to have her pray and seek her potential from the Lord. At this point we had ended up in Burger King parking lot. So I told her that she was going to stay in the car and pray and write down EVERYTHING that came to mind. The spirit was thick in the car and I knew this is what the Lord needed her to do. She looked at me and said, "Would if he doesn't answer?" For a second I doubted. I had the thought come, "Well would if he doesn't? Then what?"

Almost immediately the spirit overwhelmed me I knew that the Lord wouldn't have been prompting me if he wasn't going to answer her. I reassured her and told her that I had received multiple promptings to have her do this. It seemed to up her faith a bit. I stepped outside of the car and sat on the curb for a good 40 minutes.

When I got back in she said, "I've received multiple blessings on my mission, but as I just prayed, I felt that He was talking to me more than He ever has before". Tears came to my eyes, as I knew this sisters prayers had been answered. As we drove home that night she said, "I'm not the same person I was when I got into this car tonight". I was so touched. 

Sometimes I dream of being a normal missionary again, where I am in my area 7 days a week. But I am finding the joy in these incredibly unique experiences that I am having with these sisters. I love the sisters I get to work with. It's still the Lord's work, just a little different than normal. 

Love you!
Sister Mal


week 58

Dear family,

I really have no idea where to even begin. This week was without a doubt the craziest week of my life and I wish I could explain it all... But I know I can't. So instead here's like twenty different short stories that sum up the week.

1. There are 168 hours in a week. This week I spent 100 of them with Sister Huber and 68 with Sister Felt. I'm not sure who my companion is anymore.
2. We went a deep cleaned a sisters apartment as they had failed a cleaning inspection. Five trash bags, one dried up dead frog, one live albino frog, and five hours later... Their apartment was looking pretty decent. It was intense. Thank you mom for not only making us clean, but teaching us how to clean the right way. I'm spending my days now trying to teach others do the same :)
3. Sister Huber and I are over 22 sisters out of the 49 in the mission. We're running around like chickens with our heads cut off. It's a blast. 
4. It's a seven week transfer. It's going to be a long one. Sister Huber and I work with the assistants to do a 24 hour training for missionaries every Tuesday to Wednesday. So sigh that and exchanges.... I'm only in area for half the week. I'm starting to feel like Mad at the end of her mission. 
5. There are now three sets of sisters in the Tampa 2nd Ward. The last time this happened, sister Huber ended up in the hospital. Prayers for sanity? So far, all is well. However we are expecting big changes in the coming week.
6. Let's not count how many frostys we ate this week. Wendys seems to be our stress reliever. 
7. Book of Mormon the musical: this was our life this week. Hundreds of pamphlets, cards, and copies of the Book of Mormon later... We are all sleep deprived and have the stinking songs stuck in our head (the music played outside the theater). We proselyted outside of it almost every single night this week. The show didn't get out until 10:30, so sleep just hasn't been happening around here. It was such a cool experience though and so interesting to see the type of people that were going. After asking one woman if she wanted to take a picture with us she yelled, "No! I'm an ungodly heathen!!!" And went into the show. Well right after the show, she came out and apologized to us. She was so fascinated with what we do as she could tell the musical exaggerated quite a bit. As we talked with her she said, "I apologize. Can I get a picture with you now?" As we went to take a picture her husband said, "you're a heathen, there is no hope for you!!" She barked back, "These girls have hope for me!" She took a Book of Mormon and told us she would read it.  

I think that is one of the greatest things that we get to give to people... Hope. We talked with so many people these last couple days that all have ties to the church in one way or another. Everything that we have to offer weighs solely upon the Book of Mormon which is where our hope comes from. We gave the book to members of the cast that have been doing it for over a year and have never read the book. They all accepted the challenge to read it. The key is reading it, really wanting to know if it's true. It solely matters where your heart is. 

I read Grandpa Sackley's talk this morning and I thought this quote was perfect for everything that I've seen over the last week:

I also want you to know that my life was changed more than forty years ago as I read the Book of Mormon. There is nothing on earth that has influenced me more profoundly than my testimony of this sacred record and the work to which it belongs. It has burned within my soul over the years with ever-increasing brightness, and I find great joy and satisfaction in walking in “newness of life” in my search for the “more excellent way.”

Love you!
Sister Mal

week 57

On Tuesday, I got the call from President Cusick telling me the news
about grandpa. I had a feeling all morning and I was just waiting for
the call, so when it came, I wasn't too surprised. It made me so happy
and sad all at the same time. However, it was one of those moments
where I was so comforted by this gospel and the knowledge we have of
the plan of salvation.

I immediately went and prayed for two things. The first was that all
the Brockbank family would be comforted and given strength over the
coming week. The second was that the Lord would help me refocus by
reminding me why I'm still serving a mission.

The day was odd, and I just felt a little off. Around dinner time, I
started examining our plans for the evening and something didn't feel
right. We prayed, but nothing was coming and I didn't want to waste
any more time. We set off to do our plans that we had arranged. On the
way there, I had a less active family (the Smith family) come to mind
that was on the opposite side of town. I pushed the thought aside and
we continued to work.

Our plans finished early and we decided to start heading towards the
church to meet up with one of our investigators. However, I noticed
that we still had a good half hour and this less active family was on
the way... So I told Sister Felt we were going to give it a try.

I think I talked a little bit about this family last week, "the Smith
family". Nine and a half months ago, I arrived in this area and
learned their story. Baptized in October of 2014 and they were on
fire. Mom, dad and two little girls. Within a couple weeks of their
baptism, the mother found anti information and was furious. She wanted
nothing to do with the church and the whole family disappeared. For 15
months, ward members and missionaries have called, texted, left notes,
stopped by... Anything to try and talk to them, but they wanted
NOTHING to do with the church and no one has talked with them.

When I learned their story, a little fire burned within me to find a
way in and reactivate this family. Every time I have thought about
them over the past nine plus months, I have felt the distinct
impression to wait. I wasn't sure if it was my own fear or truly the
spirit telling me, but for nine months I have been told to wait. Their
names have been brought up in ward council too many times to even
count. The other sisters just tried them again about a month ago, but
no such luck.

So here we are, Tuesday evening and the spirit said, "Go ahead Sister
Sackley. It's time". We prayed right before we walked in and the words
came out of my mouth, "help us to speak only by thy spirit, to say the
things thou needs us to say".

We knocked and I could see someone look through the peep hole. I gave
my best, "YOU NEED US!!!" face.... And the door opened.

I almost cried. For 15 months, NO ONE has talked to them, and now the
mom and oldest daughter are standing right in front of me. I had no
idea what to do. We asked if they were the Smith family and they
welcomed us right in. Now I'm really freaking out. Not only have we
made contact, she is inviting us in to talk with her.

Over the next 30 minutes the spirit talked to her. I don't remember a
lot of what was said. I do remember her telling us that for over a
year people have been reaching out to her like crazy and she didn't
want to hear any of it. We asked her why she thought people were
reaching out and she said, "I don't know... Everyone wanted to tell me
the truth but I didn't want to hear it". In response we said, "No. No
one has been reaching out to correct you, rather they all love you and
care about you and want to help you". She broke down in tears.

The spirit was unreal in their home. I'm not sure why she opened the
door that night, but I can't even begin to express how grateful I am
that she did. She agreed to start coming to church again and she told
us we could teach her everything again from the beginning. We will be
going back on Wednesday. I love this family so much already.

As we got in the car, I realized that it was a direct answer to my
pray from earlier that day. I am here to be an instrument in the Lords
hands, and there is nothing that feels better than that. The Lord
showed me what He needs me to do. All week long I have felt a feeling
of peace as I have thought of Grandpa. I keep thinking of him the
morning I went to the MTC when I told him that I was going on a
mission. It seemed that he had a moment of clarity and understood
exactly what I said, to which he responded, "That's all I've ever
wanted for my grandchildren". I knew that not only was the Lord proud
of me, but Grandpa was too that night. The church is true and the
spirit is the only source of true peace and happiness.

Love you!
Sister Mal

week 56

A couple months ago we were tracting in an area and I was just about done with it because no one was home. We knocked on a door and a young woman answered. She looked oddly familiar but I knew I had never met her before. She introduced herself as "Maritza" and then it all clicked. 
Flashback... When I first got to the area, another sister in the mission told me of a woman named Cinia who was baptized over a year ago but moved to New York for the summer. Her daughter, "Maritza", was interested in the lessons and had been dropped a couple months previously, but this sister missionary was insistent that I go find her and try her again. She showed me pictures of her and told me of how incredible she was. Well the number and address listed were both incorrect, but her teaching record was complete. The number we had for her mom was wrong too and no one in the ward seemed to know where they had gone. I tried right when I got here and then again at the end of the summer when Cinia was suppose to be back- but no such luck. So I basically gave up hope on both of them, but the mystery remained in the back of my mind. 
Flash forward... So here I am, standing in the entry way of this house and Maritza is right in front of me and my companion is completely clueless to the entire situation and Maritza also has NO idea that I know exactly who she is. Awkward.
Then, Cinia, her mom who's the member, comes walking out of the back of the house and I just about die. The ward had been searching for both of them for months and here they are! Trying to control my excitement, we set up a return appointment to come back and teach them both. As soon as we leave the house, I pulled up Maritza's teaching record on my iPad and my companion realizes why I was freaking out when she sees that Maritza had been taught 96% of the lessons- thank you technology. 
Well we've been teaching her for the last month, and due to odd circumstances, we were finally able to get her to come to church yesterday... The ward welcomed her with open arms and it was a happy day as a missionary. She's preparing to be baptized in a couple weeks and we are super excited for her. 
Now to make the story even more confusing... Her mom, Cinia was one of the main fellowshippers for another family that was also baptized shortly after her. We will call them the Smith family :) well this family received anti-Mormon information immediately after their baptism and they have NEVER come back to church since. Another one that the ward has been trying to figure out since. Well yesterday, Cinia took the Smith's daughter to church with her since this little girl has been dying to come. I can't even explain how HUGE of a miracle this is. I also wish that I could have captured the look of one of the counsellors in the bishopric when he found out what was going on. I know probably none of this makes sense, but just know that yesterday was a very happy day. 
The worth of souls is GREAT in the sight of God. Some of the expressions that I saw on ward members faces yesterday helped me to visualize how God feels when a soul returns home. This truly is the work of the Almighty. 
Love you all!
Sister Mal

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

week 52

Exchangesssss. They are some of my very favorite things as a missionary. I love working with other sisters for a day. Its so fun to be able to teach them and learn from them. This last week I went out with a sister from Samoa. She is hysterical and humble and one of the greatest missionaries I have ever seen. She has only been out for a couple transfers. I think her name could be found under the definition for faith.

We were in a neighborhood knocking on some doors and I looked at the clock and noticed that we needed to head back to the car to eat our little dinner-to-go in order to get to the next place on time. So I tell this sister and she says, "No... one more Sister Sackley!", points to a house in front of us and just starts going right at it. So I follow.

She knocks on the door and a woman answers. Before we can say anything the woman says, "Come in!" We stood there with our mouths on the ground and she said, "You're here to talk to me about God, right? Well come in!" I was still on the porch as she went and sat on the couch. This NEVER happens!

We sit down and she explains in her broken English that she is from the Dominican Republic and her cousin just passed away that morning. So here I am thinking, "GOLDEN! But how the heck are we going to communicate". We taught the entire plan of salvation on the spot. That in and of itself would have been a huge miracle but the experience just got better and better.

This sister that I was with is still learning english and the woman is speaking spanglish to us. I sat there and listened to the two of them communicate with each other almost flawlessly. I think I was more lost than the two of them. The spirit was SO strong as it truly interpreted the lesson for all of us. I was so impressed with this sister as she just taught by the spirit and didn't let the language barrier stop her. The Holy Ghost really does carry the message to the hearts of those we teach.

Well then we get to the part in the plan where we all die, the woman then goes on to teach US the rest of the plan of salvation and what she believes happens with us once we die. She believes everything we believe, almost exactly. My mouth dropped to the ground again. She thought it was so cool that she's not the only one that believes it! 

I talked to these sisters on the phone last night after they went and saw the woman again and they said, "Well our only problem is, she doesn't feel like she needs to pray about any of it because she already knows it's all true! What do we do?!" BAPTIZE HER SISTERS! BAPTIZE HER!

There were many other experiences that happened while I was on this exchange, but I'm not sure if I've ever seen a sister with so much faith before. She is literally moving mountains. It was a huge eye opener to me. I feel so blessed to be able to work with so many sisters.

The Lord always provides a way, and He trusts His humble, faithful servants. Thank you Sister Gafa.

Sister Mal

thanks mom!

week 51

Sister Felt is my fourth cousin. We made that connection at about 9:30 on Friday night and it still blows my mind. I am grateful for family history charts and our great-great-great grandpa. Cheers.

One year ago I was absolutely CLUELESS. I remember everything that happened that day, from Garrett betting me $100 that I couldn't stop cracking my knuckles (you're still on), to five missionaries being on board headed to Salt Lake, to Madison locking the keys in the car in downtown Salt Lake, to Grandpa tearing up and saying, "All I ever wanted was for my grandchildren to serve missions", to Leeloo falling dead asleep driving from Salt Lake to Provo, to the lady that put on my nametag and started crying when she saw my face, to Elder Verdine running up to me telling me he was my zone leader, to being companionless until 8:30 that night and every other little thing inbetween. It seems like it was just yesterday.

I reread my journal entry from that night and it ended with, "I feel overwhelmed and a bit like, WHAT DID I JUST DO?! But I keep living by baby steps- one thing to the next. If I think of the big picture, I basically want to go home. Now. But I can do this!" 

As I went to sleep that night, the question that was on repeat in my mind was, "WHAT DID I JUST DO?!" 

Honestly, I wish I would have better understood what the next year would have in store for me. I feel like I could have said to myself, just like I now say to investigators- more happiness awaits you then you could have ever imagined. I wish I could have seen the bigger picture because it would have brought me so much peace and comfort knowing that I had made one of the best decisions of my life.

I wish I could fully explain everything that I have experienced over the last year, but I can't because they were experiences that I needed to have to make me into who I am today. That's what is so cool about a mission, it's unique and every mission fits exactly the person that is serving. You truly just have to experience it for yourself. 

I still feel like I have been in the mission field for a week... but I love it here and I love the people. I feel so blessed to have spent the last year in Tampa. God lives and loves each one of us so much. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and I am grateful to be able to wear His name each and every day. 

Our ward mission leaders wife just texted us and sent this quote, "Ours is no a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of the Almighty God, and it is to change the world" -Elder Holland.

How blessed are we to be apart of it? 

Love you all!
Sister Mal

week 50

i just read log's letter from last week and I would 100% agree with that last sentence... i just want a nap.

this week was pure insanity and I have this sickening feeling that it's a prediction of the rest of the transfer. But I'm happy and it's wonderful, just absolutely insane. 

To sum up the week, I was running all over the Tampa zone with Sister Huber and when I wasn't I was in my area with Sister Felt. It was split about 50/50. But I ended up with 6 different companions and worked in four areas this week. I slept in my own bed half of the time and the other half was on the ground or an air mattress, we are blessed :) plus we have an exciting week in front of us because Elder Kopiscke of the 70 is coming to Tampa for the weekend and is interested in seeing whats been happening in OUR ward. We're pumped.

here's a story for the week: 

I went for 51 weeks without a sit down anti-mormon lesson. But on Thursday, I experienced my very first one. We taught a woman named Michelle about a month ago and she LOVED everything we had to say. Due to holidays and vacations we weren't able to meet with her until this last week. Well we show up and as we enter her house I realized her iPad was all set up ready to show us something and SHE wanted to start off with a prayer. I was hesitant, but agreed. She prayed that the spirit would be with us and we could all be guided to truth together.

alright. i can work with that.

over the next couple minutes she explains everything that has happened and just how upset and terrified she is for us because she received incorrect information. the spirit left and she wasn't trying to prove us wrong, rather, she seemed legitimately worried. we sat and listened. my poor trainee had no idea what was going on. as I prayed earnestly for the spirit to guide my thoughts I immediately thought of a line in my setting apart that simply tells me to testify of the Savior and that in doing so, people will recognize the spirit and listen. 

so I did so. I bore witness of Jesus Christ. That He is my personal Savior and that without Him I am absolutely lost. I told her of the strength and comfort that I have found in my life through relying upon him and I let the spirit guide every word I said. 

In the middle of it, I suddenly had this strange feeling like I needed to hear these words as well. I truly felt like the Lord was working through me and I was listening. The spirit filled the room and Sister Felt then went on to testify. When we left the spirit was in her home and was pulled up on the iPad that had been set up. All was well and all IS well, through Jesus Christ. 

2 Nephi 25:26, "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we prophesy of CHrist, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins". 

Christ is our message.

Love ya!
Sister Mal

week 49

I have literally no idea what to write about today... I also can't even begin to explain how tempted I am to just stop writing for the rest of my mission... 
So transfers came on Monday night and I am staying in Tampa 2 for at least another six weeks with a brand new sister named Sister Felt. She is from Mission Viejo, California and is ready to work. She is a sweetheat and I am excited for the transfer.
This week I really started thinking about prayer. I mean think about it. You are on your knees talking with the most powerful Being and He is listening. It just astounds me. 
We were out working this week and I was praying that we could have some success so that Sister Felt could have some good experiences in her first week. Last week Sister Harper and I had a lot of people yell at us and I was just praying that this week wouldn't be the same.
Well we knock on this young lady's door, her name is Brittany and she invites us in because we looked pathetic and cold in the 65 degree weather. We prayed with her and started talking about her experience with God. She has never felt like God has answered a prayer, but yet she keeps praying every single day because it makes her feel better. Instantly I thought of this little poem.
I know not by what methods rare,
But this I know, God answers prayer.
I know that He has given His Word,
Which tells me prayer is always heard,
And will be answered, soon or late. 
And so I pray and calmly wait.
I know not if the blessing sought
Will come in just the way I thought;
But leave my prayers with Him alone, 
Whose will is wiser than my own,
Assured that He will grant my quest,
Or send some answer far more blest.
As we continued talking to her she stopped us and said, "Wait are you guys Mormon?" Over the next 30 seconds we made the smallest small world connection that she is the older sister of Ashley... the 15 year old that was just baptized last week. I was freaking out. Brittany had been wanting to know what her sister was up to, and what the church was all about. She has all these questions about life after death and I was literally smiling from ear to ear. Ashley never invited her sister to anything because she didn't think she would approve and so she kept her out of the picture as best she could... but we accidently tracted into her. MIRACLE. Moral of the story: God answers prayers, we just don't always recognize how.
My challenge to each of you this week is to really think as you pray. Recognize that you're not just praying to pray, but that God is listening to every word you speak. Try to avoid, "thank you for this day" and "nourish and strengthen our bodies" and "watched over and protected"... get creative, you'll feel the spirit more and you'll come to know in a very real sense, that He is listening.
Love you!
Sister Mal