Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dear Family, Friends, and Fans --

Romans 4:18 [Abraham] Who against hope believed in ahope, that he might become the father of many bnations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy cseed be.19And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years aold, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb 20He astaggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21And being fully persuaded that, what he had apromised, he was able also to perform.

Romans 5:3And not only so, but we glory in atribulations also: knowing that btribulation worketh cpatience; 4And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5And ahope maketh not ashamed; because the blove of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Romans 8: 24For we are saved by ahope: but hope that is bseen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?25But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

Romans 15:4For whatsoever things were awritten aforetime were bwritten for our clearning, that we through dpatience and comfort of the escriptures might have fhope. 13Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and apeace in believing, that ye may abound in bhope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Ether 12:4Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with asurety bhope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which chope cometh of dfaith, maketh an eanchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in fgood works, being led to gglorify God.

Moroni 7: 41And what is it that ye shall ahope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have bhope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life ceternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.

This week was hope week - as in we focused on having hope throughout all of our missionary work. I have been filled with hope, like an empty glass is filled with water. Daily repentance and consecration leads to a fulfillment -- like when your room is filthy and you feel like you're in disarray, you can't find anything or feel comfortable. When you clean it you feel like you've inherited a new room. So it goes when we clean ourselves up and seek to improve on a daily basis -- we're like a brand new us. I realized that I didn't really get the whole ... hope thing. I studied it a little more. I wasn't really getting anything. Then, like a strike of revelation in the middle of zone conference, I had an overwhelming feeling ... of HOPE. I realized, and expounded to Sis Wilkinson, why I choose to follow Christ and endure and what keeps me here ... I realized why I'm a Mormon! ;) It is because of hope. The gospel of Jesus Christ gives me hope, and it is the only thing that gives me any consolation. The promises of the Lord, the scriptures, the ordinances of salvation -- all is centered around the hope that there is more to this life than making it through the rest of it. I have hope that I will live forever, and that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ I can have peace and happiness throughout anything I may encounter. I have hope that I can be with my family, throughout all eternity. The gospel is what gives me the ability to make it through trials, it gives me an eternal perspective that deepens my love and appreciation for the very life I lead. It gives purpose and direction to that life. I see hope in an 8 year old being baptized and showing God their commitment to follow Him throughout their life. I see hope in a young couple being sealed in the temple for time and all eternity, with the trust that God will fulfill to them the promises He has made - that they can be an eternal family, that though we don't understand everything, we have hope and faith in the Lord. I see hope in the gift of repentance, of grace made available through the Atonement, that no matter what we have done in our lives it can be made right through changing our hearts and boldly claiming the mercy of Jesus Christ through our own faithfulness and dedication. Anyway, this all started at zone conference in Sav La Mar. But it has weighed heavily on my mind all week. I looked forward to being able to write home ... that I know that the gospel is the only true source of hope and happiness in this world. Without it, there's no meaning. With it, there's meaning beyond comprehension. It is my hope that is my anchor, and I'm grateful to be serving a mission to help that anchor stay in place.

Quickly onto other scriptural insights:

I have learned, by study, prayer, and experience, that how we judge others is going to be directly reflected in how we are judged by the Savior. We will stand and give account for our own actions, and receive judgment according to the judgment we dished out in mortality.

Romans 1:1Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou ajudgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. 2But we aare sure that the bjudgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.

Read this -- and think about the temple :)

Isa 22:20¶And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will acall my servant bEliakim the son of Hilkiah: 21And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy agovernment into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. 22And the akey of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. 23And I will fasten him as a anail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house. 24And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.25In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the Lord hath spoken it.

Living a life consecrated to the Lord allows us to receive personal revelation so that our lives are constantly in harmony with His will:

Proverbs 16:3aCommit thy works unto the Lord, and thy bthoughts shall be established.

Alright, other lessons I've learned this week and other happenings --

We shouldn't ever compare ourselves to anyone else, especially not on our spiritual journey. I have learned that when I compare myself to my companions or any other missionaries it only results in misery. I have learned that my life is completely different than theirs - or anyone else's for that matter. We can't look to the left or right or we'll lose sight of the road we're on. We are individuals and the Lord knows us as individuals ... so my salvation and progress is individual. I'm racing against myself and no one else.

It has taken a bit to adjust to teaching with a new companion, and doing everything else. It has been a good week for us though, getting used to the feel and instead of just going along doing things the way we used to do we're making adjustments where they need to be made and learning to compromise.

I'm working on focusing on the mission all the time, and like it says in my call letter "leaving behind all other personal affairs". It's liberating.

What else ...I had curry goat this week. And it was delicious.

The zone leaders and Elder Andersen came teaching with us on Friday. It was cool to have them with us to observe our lessons, seeing as we never really had the benefit of specialized training on a trade off or anything, being sisters and all. It helped to see different approaches to teaching, and specifically how to ask questions for understanding and how to be bold without being overbearing. It was a cool experience.

One of the senior missionaries has an Amazon Kindle. That thing is tight - I gotta get me one of those.

Pres. Hendricks hasn't missed a week of church since the 80s. He said that he had received personal revelation that very specifically told him - "He went to Gethsemane and the cross, for you. Never miss a Sunday." I've never been to church so consistently in my life as I have on my mission, but I've been studying how keeping the Sabbath day holy and going to church to take the sacrament is really a reflection of our commitment to worshiping the Lord. I've made the same commitment to myself - to never miss a Sunday as long as it is in my power to do so. I guess it's a lifetime resolution.

We had a Fireside lastnight where we turned the members into missionaries. It was rad. We had a good turnout - at least 12-15. One struggle here is all the members say that they've invited and referred everyone they know already - that they don't know anyone else that they could talk to about the gospel. I think we got em thinkin' about things a little differently lastnight, or at least gave them motivation to not give up.

We had district conference yesterday - a broadcast from SLC to all the stakes in the Caribbean. Pres Uchtdorf and Elder Oaks spoke, and it was amazingly inspired. It was SPOT ON - exactly what the members here needed to hear, about walking in greater faithfulness, choosing gospel culture if your local culture contradicts the teachings of the gospel, and much much more. I wish I had time to share everything that I wrote down. They did not mince words. They spoke with power and authority and the Spirit was strong even via satellite. I'll just share my favorite moments -- Elder Oaks challenged the members to attend sacrament meeting more faithfully - only 20-40% of members in the Caribbean are doing so. Hopefully it resonates. Pres. Uchtdorf talked about laboring diligently our entire life long for the conversion of ourselves and our brothers and sisters. That struck a chord in me. I'm learning more and more the importance of enduring to the end, and loving every minute of it.

Alright your commitment this week is to carry a little strength of youth pamphlet with you. No matter your age. Do it :)

When there's news about our investigators, I'll be sure to tell you. So far we're working with a 17 year old named Fiona who's totally awesome and actually prayed in a lesson for the first time last week, and read a scripture out loud for the first time. So that's awesome. She's humble and wicked cool. We're gonna commit her to baptism this week. Stay tuned.

Last but not least, while getting some ice cream with some investigators and reasoning out of the scriptures, one Mr. Jerry Curl waltzed right up to me and stared me down straight in the face and proceeded to say:

"I like you. You are beautiful. I would like to marry you. I would treat you so good. I will do your wash for you, every day. All of your clothes will always be clean. I will do it by hand. I would love to marry you. I'll be right back." From that point he went into the cook shop and started dancing, looking back at me like "all this could be yours" ... So goes the daily life of a Sister missionary in Jamrock.

All the best to everyone back home. Thank you for each and every prayer on my behalf.

I love you all!

Sister Payne

Ps convert update in the Bahamas

Jean max and Prague are blessing and passing the sacrament, and Prague has been called to be a sunday school teacher in the creole class

and Bro Major was called to be an elders quorum teacher


Dear Family, Friends, and Fans --

Alma 60:13 For the Lord suffereth the arighteous to be slain that his justice and bjudgment

may come upon the wicked; therefore ye need not suppose that the righteous are lost

because they are slain; but behold, they do enter into the rest of the Lord their God.

We just got back from Spanish Town where we attended the memorial service for Elder Walker. Thank you for your condolences and your prayers on behalf of us missionaries and his family. This has not been an easy week. We found out Monday night when we called a member to confirm teaching, and the news report came on and he held the cell phone up to the TV. After the weirdest night of my mission, we went back to work the next day. Elder Walker had three weeks left on his mission, and we've dedicated these three weeks to him as missionaries. The other seven Elders that were in the van with him are all doing well. They stayed at the mission home for a while, but there has been an overwhelming sense of peace and understanding even among those who saw everything happen. We got to hear a wonderful talk from Elder Luke, his companion. Even now just thinking about it I can't help but cry, but it was heartfelt and meaningful. I never had the privilege of serving around Elder Walker. I only met him at a district conference once in early December. He was Sister Wilkinson's district leader when she served in Portmore. He was attractive, smart, and had a bright future. He still does in fact. Pres. Hendricks spoke today at the memorial that Elder Walker has merely been transferred to his next area. I'm grateful for my testimony of the plan of salvation. It has been a hard week -- I imagine it's what it must feel like to have a fellow soldier die in the military. But even out of the worst things, good things happen. Elder Coleman of the 70 came on assignment from Pres. Monson. He and his wife very graciously thanked us for working hard, and gave wonderful talks at the service. It was a freak thing that happened. Elder Walker's mother just died about a month before him, which was very hard on him. Pres. Hendricks said he doesn't doubt that a very loving Heavenly Father brought His son home to be greeted by his mother on the other side of the veil. Anyway, a lot could be said and has been said about what happened. Every news report here was very sensationalized. At the end of the day, all that needs to be said is that Elder Walker was a faithful and devoted missionary, disciple of Christ, brother, friend, son, and will be missed by many. I don't feel any sense of fear here, anymore than I would anywhere else in the world. These things happen. It is part of mortality. I will tell you what I do feel.

I feel very blessed and very grateful for every minute of every day that I have to be alive on this beautiful earth. I am the MOST blessed person that has ever walked this planet, and I will swear it up and down until I'm blue in the face. I have nothing to complain about. The only bad parts of my life I only have myself to blame for them. Everything that God has and continues to do for me, in His infinite mercy and love, overwhelms me with gratitude. I am undeserving. I am blessed to be serving a mission for my Savior. I have reflected this week, time and time again, how thankful I am for this chance - this brilliant chance that I've been given to get my life on track, to gain an eternal perspective, to fix what was broken and improve, to meet and serve so many of my brothers and sisters in this beautiful country. I don't deserve it! I can't say it enough. I owe my Father in Heaven THE WORLD and more. My heart fills everytime I think about everything He has given me .. my family, my friends, music, talents, the gospel, love, laughter, the list goes on and on. I guess death is a blessing in that way - it wakes you up to a sense of how brief mortality is, and what a gift it is.

This scripture has been on my mind a lot this week.

Mosiah 4:11And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have atasted of his love, and have received a bremission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own cnothingness, and his dgoodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of ehumility, fcalling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing gsteadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.

As well as the hymn COME COME YE SAINTS:

And should we die before our journey's through - happy day all is well. We then are free from toil and sorrow too - with the just we shall dwell. But if our lives are spared again to see the saints their rest obtain, oh how we'll make this chorus swell - ALL IS WELL. ALL IS WELL. All is well.

Well, I will continue to update you as best I can to the rest of my week. We extended Fiona, a girl we've been working with a lot, a baptism date that she flat out shut down because she doesn't want to be baptized until she's in her 20s (she's 17). We will follow up with some talk about not procrastinating your repentance, and really just challenging her to decide what she wants and how much she wants to follow Christ. We'll see what happens with her. We had a great football (soccer) game on Saturday in the rain. I scored three goals against our district president, Pres. Morrison. He told me not to tell anyone and shame him like that, but I just had to. Really it was all luck, but maybe just maybe I'll look a little more like a legit footballer when I get home. I haven't had that much fun in a long time!

We had a great Sunday. Ricardo, an investigator we've been working with for a long time FINALLY made it out to church and he loved it and committed to attend every Sunday. We also got a referral for a little girl, Shamika, that comes with a member, who wants to get baptized so we'll be teaching her this week. She had a dream that she went to the temple and the people inside were calling out to her to "come home" ... now that's intense. We can't wait to teach her. Also Sis. Bodley, one of our star members, brought her neighbors Dale and Sandine Downey to church with her and we'll be meeting with them this week. They are very bright, brother and sister, college students, and really interested in the gospel. Things are lookin' up in Mandeville. Best of all - our retention was 3/4 - meaning 3 out of 4 of our recent converts were at church! That's the best in the mission right now I think, highest percentage. That is really exciting because it's been at 0 or 1 for at least 6 months!

Sis Wilkinson almost blew up our gas stove consequently blowing us up along with it but didn't and instead just singed off her arm hair. Crisis averted, and banana bread successful.

Your patois (patwa) lesson of the week is "mi yute!" as in my youth, as in you would say in place of the American "kid" ... so you're talkin to your friend "wa'gwaan mi yute" ...

I don't have time to go into the details but this week I've really been seeking personal testimony of the Book of Mormon. In my search I've learned so much, about how we receive revelation and how to recognize the Spirit. I've also gained a stronger confirmation and witness of the reality of Jesus Christ - His divine mission - His atonement - and His gospel. I know He lives. I know He suffered for our pains, sicknesses, weaknesses, afflictions and sins. I know He loves each and every one of us. I know that He was resurrected, and that like Paul said His gospel is the power of God unto salvation.

Your commitment is to have personal prayer at least twice a day. I cannot say how much personal prayer has helped me while on my mission. It has been one of those "Why haven't I been doing this ALL THE TIME?!" experiences. Put more effort into your prayers. Pray more frequently. Don't have an empty session on your knees. Make it a conversation and sit back and feel God's love pour out.

I'll end with three thoughts:

1) I challenge all of us, myself included, to take more seriously the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy. Reflect on what entertainment you seek on Sunday, how you dress throughout the day, and your church attendance. This has been a running theme in my mission and one I've thought about quite a bit and continue to learn about. I've set some goals for the rest of my life as I've learned more about why we have the commandment in the first place.

2) Something common here is "scamming" - a group of young punks get US phone numbers and call and tell people they've won something but they need to send some money to Jamaica and they'll get it. I don't know why people fall for this. I guess some people threaten them and say they know where they live and their family and will kill them and all this garbage. Bottom line - don't give any money to random Jamaicans on your phone, and if you do get such a scamming call report it to the FBI or something.

and 3) Here are two scriptures that HIT ME like a ton of bricks this week. I haven't been able to get them out of my mind. They resonated with me, like they were from my own heart. Some things you just can't put into words. So I'll just put the scriptures and let you ponder about them your own dang self ;)

Alma 10:

5 Nevertheless, after all this, I never have known much of the ways of the Lord, and his amysteries and marvelous power. I said I never had known much of these things; but behold, I mistake, for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous power; yea, even in the preservation of the lives of this people.

6 Nevertheless, I did harden my heart, for I was acalled many times and I would not bhear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know; therefore I went on rebelling cagainst God, in the wickedness of my heart [...]

Alma 5:

7 Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word [...]

That's all for now folks. I'm off to have an awesome week.

Love you all,
Sister Payne
Enjoy the pics from today. From the memorial - us with Elder Larsen (from Gilbert AZ) who hooked us up with awesome shades - and us in front of the new mission office.

Hey mi Fam, Fren, & Fan dem --

Wa'gwaan? I'm going to start off with a question:

How have you been blessed by keeping the Sabbath day holy? I genuinely want answers. ;)

Your patwa word of the week: maga. The literal translation is meager ... it is what you call skinny people. It's what they used to call me, until I packed on 15 lbs of curry and rice&peas.

I'll go into some other good news. I found out Elder Forde is 28 years old. He was a recent convert from Linstead. He left literally the last possible day he could leave. Now with him, and Elder Kocherhans, I'm the third oldest missionary.

A sacrament meeting was held at the home of Brother James (the 99 year old) in Lucea. He's a rockstar. 17 people showed up! What on earth?! That is a MIRACLE. There's no words for how excited I was when I found that out. That would be the only positive thing about being transferred to Montego Bay - Lucea would be part of my area so we would legally be able to go visit members there. The other sisters are coming back from Nassau next week, and a new sister from Georgia is coming out here. That means there will be a tripanionship somewhere, all the sisters will be in Jamrock, and there's probably going to be another area with sisters besides MoBay and Mandeville. Our guess is Portmore, since Sis. W served there and the Jamaican sisters did too. That place is a furnace - wicked hot - but hey, all in the spirit of adventure, right?

I'm getting better at doing my wash by hand. I got white paint on a black skirt. It's gonzo. That's how I roll. I can wear that skirt again. We got a recent convert, Sister Britton, who was totally inactive, to come back to church. Two weeks in a row now, her and Patrick (both recent converts who were inactive) have been at church. She is now doing our wash every Monday, and cleaning our apartment, for $5000JMD each month ... which means we get REAL P-DAYS! WOOHOO! Right now Kanye West's "stronger" is playing in the internet cafe ... what doesn't kill me makes me stronger indeed.

Sis. W and I see things differently sometimes, with the work. It creates silent tension on rare occasion - but we've both learned well enough how to get over things quickly and move on. So no fights have ensued.

We had a very slow week investigator wise. We're teaching a kid Andre, who I feel is very elect. He was put in our path for a reason. Our story in meeting him is just too bizarre and random to be anything other than the work of the Lord, for true. He came to a baptismal service in Hopeton this last week and we had a GREAT lesson with him. He called us and said he prayed about Joseph Smith and feels great about it. We have high hopes for him. We can only meet with him once a week though, which is stressing us out, and he lives in the middle of nowhere so church is difficult. We shall see. We had a commitment to talk to everyone we passed yesterday. It was hard! Both Sis W and I struggle with anxiety, fear of talking to strangers, fear of rejection. We just shut down on the street sometimes. But the goal worked, and so it has been put in place for this entire week now.

We have 2-3 check-in calls with the zone leaders each week. Each one of these calls turns into a talk about the 3 Ms .. no, not missionary work ... music, movies, and marriage. I don't know why that is, but it is the truth. Apparently those are the top three things on Elders minds, haha. We had dinner with the Powells this week, a great member family. They fed us a literal feast ... ham, chicken, steak, potato salad, veggies, rice and peas, plantain, punch, ice cream, and rolls. It was insanity, it felt like Thanksgiving. It's good to be in Mandeville.

Horrible experience this week with Gavaska, our favorite 7th Day Adventist. Let's just put it this way. His heart is harder than stone. We had a very heated, emotional encounter that involved us bearing testimony and him telling us we're serving the devil and we're brainwashed and deceived and basically trying to blatantly and brutally destroy everything that we hold most dear to us. It was not pleasant. In fact, it ended with us telling him we could not visit with him again unless he wanted to really learn for himself. He refused to read the Book of Mormon or pray about it or attend church which was basically our cue to go. Sis. Wilkinson took away his Book of Mormon. We've never done that before. I still don't know how I feel about it, but I don't judge her. It was a very ... pearls before swine situation. Glad it's over with, but sad. He is a very lost man - who held the truth in his hands, and refused to even look at it. 2 Timothy 4:16.

Now onto the insights for the week:

Vicarious work in the temples is such a blessing. There has been many times where I've thought "I wish I could be baptized again" since I've been on my mission. I realized, for the first time, that is part of why the Lord gave us the work to do in the temples! It's not just for the salvation of others, but for us as well ... to remind us, to almost renew those covenants we make each time ... What a blessing that is! I understand differently how they cannot be saved without us, nor us without them.

I have been working on repenting for everything I've ever done wrong in my life. My is that a list ... things that I'd forgotten about, things that seemed minor, things that I didn't really understand at the time ... anything that could keep me from feeling the influence of the Spirit. One of those things has been trying to forgive others ... forgive everyone and anyone that has ever wronged me. It is still a work in progress, but I had a cool experience with that. I had a dream, that someone who I've had an extreme dislike for since 2005, was my missionary companion. Now despite him being male and that being impossible, so the dream went. We were involved in a crisis - men shooting, the government coming to our aid, buildings falling.. it was absolutely terrifying. We made it out alright, and hugged eachother with sincere joy to see that the other was okay. We thanked eachother, wished eachother well, and went our separate ways. My dreams have been educational lately -- I think it's cause I'm back in Jamaica, homeland of visions and dreams ;)

What else ... I've been studying more about repentance and how the fear of sin indicates repentance has taken place ... Alma 27:23 -- 2 Nephi 4:31

Also a very cool connection I found in personal study that the Spirit helped me out with regarding faith, the Refiner's fire, and conversion. Follow it ... Proverbs 25:4 -- Alma 5:14 --1 Peter :7 -- 3 Nephi 20:41.

Also, a couple e-mails ago I talked a lot about hope. I've learned more and more about how real hope is only found in Jesus Christ, His Atonement, and His gospel. I found the key to having hope this week ... Ether 12:9.

Alright, last but not least I've learned how testimony and conversion comes in layers. I don't have enough room to type everything that I've learned about that in the last ten months (today is my ten month mark) but I've had another personal learning experience with that recently. I gained another layer in my testimony, which pushed out doubt and replaced it with faith. It's a beautiful thing.

Well, fast sunday is next week so all you church goers my commitment to you is to bear your testimony in Sacrament meeting then e-mail me your testimony as well! DO IT. BE COOL.
All you non church goers, by commitment for you is to fast! Fast for a purpose, for a reason, and seek to get the Spirit and I know it will come.

No new pictures this week, sorry. But lots of love to make up for it.
Sister Payne

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