Sunday, August 22, 2010

Updates from Sister Payne!

Hey there Family, Friends, and Fans --

Not much to write about this week which I guess is good cause I don't have much time. This week has been a slow one, but I shall try my best to entertain and enlighten your Monday.
I have been writing better lyrics out here than I think I have my entire life. I have melodies constantly running through my head, and sometimes I have let myself get frustrated with the fact that I can't be making and recording music right now. But, I recognize that I am only blessed to be able to write this much because of the calling which I have right now. The Lord always blesses us to be able to achieve our righteous desires when we align our will with His. I've even been doodling album art work. I already have a plan for two full length CDs when I get home. One, entitled "Seasons", will be about the whirlwind of change I will have experienced at the end of this all. And the other, "Raised on Television", will all be songs inspired by tv shows or movies. I look forward to that, but right now I really enjoy being able to purge out all these thoughts and emotions I'm going through in writing.

I have many book ideas too. My first order of biz is to write the book for sister missionaries -- "The Road Less Travelled: A Survival Guide for Sister Missionaries" ... but I also want to write about rising to meet our potential as children of God, how the gospel is the source for peace in a politically turbulent world, and who knows what all else. What can I say, I love to write! But whatever the Lord has in store for me is what I plan on doing.

I have attempted a feat here reading Ensigns and Liahonas ... all of them, and we have some here dating back to 2004. I think I've read about 20 or so, and I've got about 35-40 to go. It really is an awesome experience though, those things are gold mines. I'm highlighting and writing stuff down like crazy, and finding answers to my prayers in the pages.
I've been working on exact, 100% obedience this week and it really has improved. I know the Lord has blessed me in my efforts to get up on time. That has been a struggle my entire mission up to this point, and continues to be but now going on the 8th day in a row I've been up on time and out of bed. Now I'm working on getting out of bed, and staying out of bed. Baby steps!

They called a branch mission leader ... WAHOO! We have our first meeting with him, Bro. Cherenfant, on Wednesday. He's excited and has great ideas and I know the work will improve drastically with him on board. We are currently planning a fireside for the 19th with President Hendricks (the mission president) and Elder Wilford W. Anderson of the Seventy, who is in the Caribbean Area Presidency. That is gonna be a great day, and we're gonna have an open house in September that is going to be advertised on "Bahamas at Sunrise" -- a local news show in the mornings. Fingers crossed everything will go smoothly with the coming events.

No one in the Caribbean has jobs, I swear. Either there are too many people here or just not enough jobs, I don't know but pretty much everyone we talk to is struggling financially, facing eviction, living without power or transportation ... It all makes my struggles seem very very small in comparison to everything they face. Of course you get the people who are in those situations because they have no initiative to get out of them, but that's not the case with all of them. We just keep seeking out service opportunities and promising them blessings that will come through righteousness, and on the Lord's time.

This is somewhat of a low point in my mission. I have had many the emotional struggle over the past week, and I think a few times I've driven Sis. Smith crazy with my negativity. As the work struggles, it puts a minor strain on our companionship. Stress induces that, as you can tell in any companionship in life. But we're friends, so we always work through it. My faith is not as strong as it needs to be, but its not shaken either. I know I am where I'm supposed to be, doing what I'm supposed to be doing, and I know that the Lord lets us experience the lows so that we appreciate the highs.
All is well. I'm setting tons continuous goals for during my mission and after. I'm doing something Sis. Smith showed me -- I make a T-chart, title the chart for whatever goal I want to reach, and then on the left I title it "What i'm going to do to achieve it" and on the right I title it "how it will bless others" .. It is a lot harder than it seems but I keep pluckin away at it and it really helps to put lofty goals into a realistic, reachable, and spiritual perspective. I continue to journal everyday. Haven't missed a day since I've been out -- after all, we are a record keeping people.

All my love to everyone back home. Enjoy the sun while I enjoy the rain.
Sister Payne
Prepare Family, Friends, and Fans ---

For random thoughts times a billion. HERE WE GO!

1) Elder Stringham, an older elder from 2007, was honeymooning here and came and stopped by our apartment to say hi. It is weird to see people after their missions. You can't really imagine life after this, or what it will be like, cause your mind is so focused on the mission. It kinda tripped me out. And I was wearing a towel on my head. His wife looked at me like I was a huge doof. But whatever.

2) We've had a busier week at least. A lot busier. We started making new branch lists, with information and maps and directions for each branch member. That's for all 625 members! It is a great feat to attempt, but someone HAS to do it. So much time is spent here just trying to figure stuff out and find people. If future missionaries just have all the info at their disposal they can get to work immediately. It will be worth it when it is done. Most people we have no idea who they are, so it is pretty easy to fill out their information, lol.

3) We've set great goals for the month of September. Our goal is to have 4 baptisms that month, and report an average of 3 investigators with a date every week. Our whole zone is working toward these goals. It will be a stretch, but it is doable. We are having a hard time getting people to listen to us -- we feel cause we're sisters, and they're so used to elders it isn't going exactly the same. But as long as things get better and not worse, we'll be okay. Bro. Major flaked out on us all week. It was basically a heartbreaking experience. We're not giving up. He knows its true. He's ready. Heavenly Father has prepared him, many many many times. He's gotta take the step, and we've gotta help him.

4) Bro. Rio, a member from Haiti ... he's the coolest guy ever. I can't even describe, he is just awesome. That's all I can really say about that.

5) We found a Jesus the Christ audio CD so that's what we've been listening to in our car. THAT IS INTENSE. We're constantly stopping it and talking about it, like "what in the world did he just say?" The guy who does the voice, the reading, sounds like the guy who voices the "dead men tell no tales" part of the Pirates ride at Disneyland, so that's entertaining.

6) I got elected to join the branch choir. I didn't even want to, lol. And I'm singing alto no less - which is great for my voice, but so hard cause I've just been singing soprano, or the melody, my entire life. We sang in sacrament meeting yesterday. Thank goodness I had another alto with me. If left to my own devices I totally mess up. But it went well, and Bro. Bazard, the choir director, told me I have a beautiful voice. Can't complain. We're singing at the Fireside on thursday - with the mission president and Elder Wilford W. Anderson from the Seventy -- exciting right? Make that 2 general authorities I get to meet! woot woot. I'm so excited. And I decided I'm gonna get into the ward choir when I get home. Why the heck not? Singing is singing, and I can use the practice!

7) I made a phone call in Creole. Man, that was rough. The first half went smooth, the second half was bad. Still got more to learn.

8) We met a girl, Renetta, friend of Morris. She's rad and we're teaching her this week. Expect good things. She came to church yesterday. We also met T-Joe, a former investigator who never came to church because of work. But he came up to us at church yesterday and said "I need to meet with you. This is my church and I want to come back" -- expect great things.

9) My faith increased this week and I had many cool realizations and learning experiences. How greatful I am for the examples of Oliver Cowdery and Nephi. Oliver messed up, and we learned from it, when the Lord told him he couldn't just ask and expect but he had to study it out first. Nephi was pondering about Lehi's teachings when he was caught up in the Spirit and then was revealed more mysteries of God. What a great example for us to learn from, and to follow!

10) I have realized that the Book of Mormon rings more true the darker the world gets. No wonder it was saved to come forth in our day. Look around - the wickedness, the idolatry, the contention, the disbelief -- we are all Nephites and Lamanites. The Book of Mormon truly is the iron rod, and I know that it will be that much more important in the coming days. How thankful I am - what a blessing the book is - that we have something so clear to hold on to .. for dear life, if needs be.

11) It is starting to feel like home here. I feel like this branch is my home branch. It will be hard to leave.

12) I found great advice for singles in an Ensign that I wanted to share. Even though all my friends are getting married, I still have a few singles left there back home and I thought this rung true for everyone in our age group... FOR SINGLE MEN -- "Men have the initiative, and you men should get on with it. Don't hang out. Date. A date must pass the 3 P's - planned ahead, paid for, and paired off. Nothing elaborate or expensive." -- Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Elder Oaks rocks. This is the most important thing I read and I know many who need to hear it. Wise wise counsel indeed. FOR SINGLE WOMEN -- "If you are just marking time waiting for a marriage prospect, STOP WAITING .. stop waiting and start moving. Prepare yourself for life -- even a single life - by education, experience, and planning. Don't wait for happiness to be thrust upon you. Seek it out in service and learning. Make a life for yourself. And trust in the Lord. Follow King Benjamin's counsel to call upon the name of the Lord daily and stand steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come (mosiah 4:11)."

And this is what Sister Oaks had to say to single sisters ... "This is your time. Make it count by dedicating your time to Heavenly Father." I just thought all of that was important, inspired, and needed to be said. It really influenced me, so I just had to share.

13) My faith really increased this week. I think in the last days we will be tried, like the early saints only worse. Even the most righteous then went apostate after enduring endless hardships. Are we going to be able to endure? I had a lot of self reflection about that this week. I want to be able to say - bring on the worst, I'm ready. I'm getting there. After all, it is our faith that makes us whole. It is our faith that has the ability to heal us physically, spiritually, and eternally.

14) Your commitment this week is to get on and create your online missionary profile! LET US ALL PRESS ON!

Last but not least, I know this church is true. I know it like I know that I'm alive. I know that Christ lives, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that the truth will go forth bodly, nobly, and independent, and I am so priveleged to be a part of that. I know that the gospel changes lives, and it gives us purpose. It IS our purpose, to prepare in this life to meet our Father in Heaven again someday. I know that the priesthood of God is on the Earth today -- what a glorious blessing!

I love you all. Take care!
Sister Payne