Wednesday, March 23, 2011

whoa- lots of backlogged letters

Hey Family, Friends, and Fans --
Allow me to update you about this week ...
I have had some hard but good experiences this week. I have learned more about my own personal conversion, about the role of the Holy Ghost, about the necessity of the Atonement, the miracle of forgiveness, and the love of our Father and our Savior. I have grown a testimony of fasting and the spiritual power it invites into our lives. I have understood more about the promised blessings given to the righteous, and the knowledge that mortality is a gift granted to man to repent and change and progress. I've learned a lot about doing God's will - that that's our whole purpose - about how faith isn't really faith until it is tried and tested ... I have learned that grace is truly strength from on high. That has helped me to learn more the meaning of the scripture that "I Can do All Things through Christ".I have learned that when you have no one else to talk to, the Lord is always there. I am moving forward at this time like Nephi, being led by the Spirit not knowing beforehand the things that I should do. I am looking forward to talk to President Hendricks this week about some things that have been troubling me, and getting his help in doing exactly what the Lord wants me to do. Again, like Nephi, I know that God loves His children, so even though I do not know the meaning of all things, that's enough for me.

We have a new sister coming to Mandeville on Wednesday. She is from Georgia. She will be the new girl on campus. I'm sure she'll be great. The other sisters are staying in the Bahamas one more transfer. Crazy, right?

Our district leaders are staying the same, which is good. Elder Trumpet is a rockstar of a missionary. He's beyond awesome, and he's taught us a lot.

We had an investigator give us sparkling cider and candy this week. We think he doesn't understand our purpose.

We jointed a whole chicken and I cooked it fricassee style. Delicious.

Groundhog day came and went, and we didn't even know.

I can't drink soda anymore. It kills my stomach.

"If we're not reading the scriptures daily, our testimonies are growing thinner and our spirituality isn't increasing in depth." - Pres. Harold B Lee
It is hard to keep the faith sometimes. In fact, Satan does everything in his power to get us to doubt and fear. But reading the scriptures really helps to increase our faith. When you see the blessings that have come to the faithful, or the penitent, or read of the power of God displayed throughout time you can't help but trust that if He can move mountains He can surely take care of little old me. We just need to let Him. If we try to do it all by ourselves, there's no possible way we can do it.

We ran into our old investigator Bobby. We might start teaching him again. Someone that is awesome that we've been teaching is Latonia - she's 12, the daughter of two recent converts, and she came to church Sunday. Rockin'.

Honestely I don't have a whole lot to write this week. But I'll end with a funny story that Brother Hosang in the branch shared about watching what you say!

There was a guy who had a very religious horse. To make the horse gallop the guy would have to say Praise the Lord and to get the horse to stop the guy would have to say Amen. One day the guy was out for a joy ride and the horse got out of control. It began galloping at full speed toward the edge of a cliff. The man frantically yelled STOP but the horse kept running. Finally the man remembered and shouted AMEN! The horse came to a halt right before going off the cliff. In a sigh of relief, the man put his hand to his forehead and exclaimed "Praise the Lord."

So watch what you say. ;)

I love you all. I really do. And I love the gospel. I love Jesus Christ. I will be forever grateful for this experience out here on my mission.

Until next time,

Sister Payne

Salutations Family, Friends, and Fans --
I am very happy. In fact, every time I sit down to email home I get very happy because it causes me to reflect on the past week and how truly blessed I am. I'm grateful for that opportunity!

I'll start with the investigator update. 1) Shamika, ten years old, comes to church with a member, will be baptized this Saturday March 5th. Woohoo! We met with her non-member mom yesterday, who is fully supportive and will be a great future member herself. They are all very well fellowshipped and it's exciting to be able to help an adorable young girl start out on this road to eternal life. We are blessed! 2) Andre is re-set for baptism on March 12th. He is seemingly over Sis. Everette, but Pres. did call us to ensure how serious that is and how important it is to nix all of that talk immediately. Andre is doing well. He will be baptized. 3) Demetri is still on track for baptism on March 19th, and the family is still supportive (or so it seems). He will be a great future Priesthood holder and future missionary for Christ's church. 4) We are working with Chris, a valiant and stalwart young man who is 22, and has been to church 5-6 weeks in a row now. He believes what we teach and feels good about it. He asks great questions and isn't just swallowing the doctrine. He wants to get baptized but is struggling with smoking. We have a member who faced the exact same trial at the same age, and overcame it through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. With fellowship and encouragement Chris is going to progress excellently and will be getting baptized soon. 5) Marlon, our other investigator, is a punk and always ditches out on church. We're about to get supa' bold on the guy!

What else happened this week that was of note? Oh, I hit a dog. Yes, I hit a dog with the car. She was suicidal ... ran out in front of me at high speed in the middle of nowhere. I slammed on the brakes, she jumped up and ran away. Hopefully she's okay, but either way ... don't be suicidal, man! Sis. Everette ensure I felt sufficiently guilty about the whole ordeal. It wasn't my fault! Oh, and Jamaica had the first ever Jamaica Day on the 25th. All that meant was people dressed up in Jamaican flag colors and sang their national anthem. I found out that owning the apocrypha in this country is illegal, because people use it for witchcraft. Crazy, right? I did more handstands and cartwheels and I literally have a giant bruise on my thigh from some internal injury. I remember hurting that part of my leg in dance in 9th grade, and I literally think I aggravated an ancient injury. So great - I'm too young for these shenanigans. I've discovered a new pet peeve of mine - starting something that I cannot finish, either because I run out or time or I'm unable to complete it. Man, that drives me nutters.
In the land of the deep but not profound, there are letters, but no e-mails.

Jamaica is in the Commerce, Illinois phase of the church I think. The trials are choking out some and only the most valiant remain. I think there is a sunrise on the horizon -- but it is always darkest before the dawn, right?

In the land of the deep but not profound, there is root beer, but no sprite.

I've been studying a lot about the Priesthood lately. After all, I intend to marry a Priesthood holder so it is important I understand their role and duties so I can support and encourage them, as well as keep them in line. So I encourage all of you Priesthood holders reading this to take the time to read some great things I came across:

the first is "Let Us Be Men" by Elder Christofferson - search that on and watch the video as well as read the talk. That is the best place to start.

the second is Doctrine and Covenants section 121 ... those are good reminders for everyone - but especially the men of the Church.

the third is "He Trusts Us" by Stanley G Ellis. Did you ever realize that by God giving you the Priesthood He was signing over power of attorney to you? True story.

I've been led by the Spirit in many ways over the past couple weeks, and I'm realizing it more as time passes. I was led by the Spirit to change the content of a lesson, during the opening prayer in fact. It went beyond well. I've learned many lessons this week, as usual, on patience (Psalms 27:14) and on the blessings of tithing. I've also learned about how important it is to immediately heed spiritual promptings. Ignoring the Spirit can prove fatal, in both senses of the word. I believe the biggest lesson I've learned this week is WHY we're counseled to read our scriptures daily, pray daily, and go to church every week. Why is it so vital that we do these seemingly mundane things? Well 1) because they are prerequisites to obtaining and keeping the Spirit, as Elder Bednar explained it and 2) they are the only ways that we can keep a spiritual and eternal perspective amidst the noise of the world. Think about this -- honestly, ask yourself -- how many days last week did you ponder about eternity? How many days last week did you even think, for a second, about the eternal implications of your decisions? How many times last week did you earnestly seek and desire eternal life? If your answer is anything less than EVERY SINGLE DAY, you're in danger! I know, because I have seen the difference before my mission and on my mission. From constant study, teaching, and testifying it is impossible not to think about eternity at least once every day. That means that the likelihood of making bad decisions that will put our eternal life in jeopardy drastically decreases, because we are keeping our eyes on the prize. In fact, this isn't just a reccomendation from some silly sister missionary. It's a commandment!! D&C 84:43And I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give adiligent bheed to the words of eternal life. It is my commitment to each of you and myself to take some time every single day to reflect on eternity, your life and choices, and where you want to end up after this brief stint in mortality. The picture is big. It is huge. We've got to widen our scope in order to be happy.

I've also learned that I'm terrified of coming home and that time is going way too quickly, and that is because my relationship with the Lord wasn't very good before my mission, but not I feel like it's better than it ever has been and I'm afraid of losing that. I'm afraid of having to try to take the great things from the mission back into the crummy things on normal life and not let the dirt of the world stain me anymore. It will be a challenge, and I've got no choice but to face it with confidence in the Lord. He won't ever make anything impossible for us to do (1 cor 10:13; 1 Ne 3:7)

The Book of Mormon, the best west side story I've ever read, is amazing. We shouldn't ever let a day go by where we don't read from it at least one verse.

Finally, I have these big long thoughts about the curse placed on women but I don't think I have enough time to elaborate. I'll just put it this way... the curse placed on women during the fall was more than just pain in childbirth and all of that ... you know how Bella acts when Edward leaves? You know how girls like men get away with stupid things because we have a weird emotional attachment in us that keeps us coming back for more? Turns out God gave us that -- and for right reason too, because if we didn't have that emotional tie we wouldn't ever be with men because we're too different and have all these things to deal with that the concept would be undesirable. It's just like men - they wouldn't be with women if they didn't have the physical need to do so. Really though, I'm not being harsh. Just think about it. God really designed us to make it so we needed eachother - men for physical needs, women for emotional. But, women, listen up. As much as we hate that dependency (that we all have to some degree) ... if it's part of the curse, it'll be lifted in the eternities. Hence why polygamy could play into the game in exaltation, because the emotional sociality will not exist. Now how is that for mind blowing? Don't believe me? I've got the doctrine to back it up!

16Unto the awoman he said, I will greatly bmultiply thy csorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth dchildren; and thy desire shall be to thy ehusband, and he shall rule over thee.

I know, right?

Okay that's all I've got this week. Enjoy the pictures and stay tuned for awesomeness.

Walk Worthy,

Sister Payne
Hey Family, Friends, and Fans --
the shift key on this keyboard stinks so my apologies for the lack of correct punctuation in this e-mail, but whatever. yesterday we had a zone p-day in negril, which meant no time to e-mail, hence the tuesday update. we had a lot of fun walking on the beach (unfortunately seeing topless old women, yikes) and eating a giant meal at kuyaba (shrimp wrapped in bacon is heavenly) and then playing a football game in the sand. we had to drive forever, and were totally exhausted but we had a good devotional that morning that brought the Spirit so it was totally worth it.
how is this for a missionary anecdote? i brought three pairs of glasses out here, and all three have broken. what are the odds, man? I haven't even done anything to them to get them to break, they have all just fallen apart completely at random. the other night, my last and best pair broke right in half as i knelt down to pray. what gives? i superglued them back together which only lasted for a day, so they're my backup pair now that i can superglue in an emergency. thank goodness i have some contacts - exactly enough to last me to the end of my mission in fact. yeesh. here i thought i was overprepared. i can't wait to get lasik.

i am definitely joining choir when i get home. i just want to be able to sing all the time, and what better place to sing than in church eh?

ting is the most delicious drink here. we had some amazing jerk chicken last week. how will i survive without this food? i don't know if it'll be possible.
my preach my gospel is falling apart. i guess that means it has gotten enough love. it may come back to arizona without a cover on it. for shame.
i have another talk to advise the priesthood to read .. it is called "rise up o men of God" by gordon b hinckley. read it. love it. apply it.
i pretty much feel like i'm not cutout to be a trainer. it has made me more obedient, but i'm still not where i should be in technicalities. i feel like i have no advice that helps, and training in a tripanionship is amazingly difficult because there are far too many opportunities to create contention or confusion. it a tripanionship, there's a possibility of being outnumbered. like "i think we should do this" but the other two say no -- in a companionship, that's an impossibility. also, in a companionship if you're annoyed with your companion you either confront it or keep silent. with three you end up talking smack about the one to the other to let out some steam, which just drives wedges. i'm struggling a bit, not so much with the work but with the living arrangement. i love my companions. i hate being in a tripanionship. and sometimes it is very difficult to do the work, even with someone you would get along with outside of missionary life, because when it comes to such an important task they can drive you crazy! i don't know. live and learn.
i have become a master of dominoes. don't try to stop it.
okay, now for the investigator update. chamieka was baptized on saturday night! wahoo! finally a baptism in mandeville! she was so scared and had a hard time with it, but it all worked out and she was confirmed on sunday. her mom came and supported her so that was great. demetri who is the other ten year old who has a baptism date is being fed stuff by his grandma, the less active member, about not being baptized. he went from being super excited and ready to telling us he wants to change his date, but he can't tell us why to then telling us that he has to know more about the gospel before he gets baptized. he knows more about the gospel than his grandma. we're facing extreme difficulty with this situation, and it has been a source of much frustration and anxiety for me everytime i think about it. we're proceeding prayerfully and leaving it in the Lord's hands. andre has a baptism date that is probably gonna be pushed back. he's ready but he doesn't think he's ready. we need to meet with his mom and get him a baptism interview. i really love this kid - he's a great guy and i can't wait to see him get baptized. i know he will, he's just in his own head too much. he's his own worst enemy. i know how that is. chris is still smokin' ganja, and we haven't been able to meet with him last week. he didn't come to church either. we're jumpin on it straightaway because that kid will make a great member very soon. and marlon ... well marlon is less effective and we'll be dropping him soon. so'go.

lessons that i've learned this week? too many to type. here's a few.

1 - enthusiasm means God in us. let that marinate in your head for a little bit and come to your own thoughts about it.

2 - i got extremely dehydrated and sick the other day. i realized that it is just like sin. youre out in the sun and not drinking any water because you feel totally fine and you're having a good time. but then you get back that night, settle in, get a throbbing migraine and nausea that rocks you to your core. with sin we're usually out in the world doing worldly things but not blatantly sinning so we think we're alright. but we're not staying nourished. and soon the sin rocks us to our core and we end up thinking "how did this happen?"

3 - the truman show, the movie, is like satan's plan for all of us. he seeks to make us miserable by creating a facade for us to live in where seemingly everything is easier but we really don't have our agency, and everything is fake. nothing in his plan is real. nothing in his plan lasts beyond mortality. but, the real plan, the Savior's, allows us our agency - which means that things will be hard and not everything will go peachy all the time, BUT what we attain will last and will be actual joy. that's why when we decide to choose the right, or to leave the big giant dome that satan has us trapped in, he goes to all lengths to try to stop us. but if we can just tell him good afternoon good evening and goodnight and go forward into the unknown knowing that the Lord will take care of us, then satan has no power over us anymore. cool, right?

4 - john 1:46 should be our invitation to anyone that is not of our faith or wonders why we believe and live the way we do.

5 - d&c 90:15. education is eternal.

6 - the testimony of the youth in the branch is awesome. fast and testimony meeting is so awesome here. i had the privilege of bearing my testimony and feeling the Spirit as i did. but even more than that, there is no lull here. no awkward pause or silences - rather people are racing up to the pulpit to bear their testimony. i wish that's how the meeting was across the world rather than "ehhh.... i'll go next time ....."

7 - we got to watch a ces fireside will l. tom perry sunday night. it was really good. he challenged the youth to rise to a new sense of commitment, to defend Christianity, and to have courage, boldness, desire and enthusiasm in sharing the gospel and bringing back those that are struggling. he mentioned how 233 out of 239 chapters in the book of mormon talk about the Savior. that hit me. ive been thinking a lot about it actually. no wonder it is the keystone of our religion. my favorite thing he said was that the only joy we'll ever find in our lives in through following Christ. i can testify of that. i have never felt greater peace in my life than the peace of knowing i am doing everything i can to follow His example.

my love for my life is overwhelming and indescribable. time is moving too quickly. even in the most difficult moments, i know there is a purpose for it and that makes me willing to submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
the church is true. Jesus Christ came to the earth, suffered for us so that we can be rid of feelings of shame and guilt... literally FREED us from the chains of this life. He is the Savior. He knows the way because He is the way. His gospel is the source of all happiness. i don't know where i'd be without that knowledge. we have a living prophet on the earth today that can guide us in the right path. (less than a month til general conference!)
how blessed we are.

i love you all. til next time,
sister payne
Wa'gwaan Family, Friends, and Fans --
Greetings from a very warm and beautiful Jamrock. We've had an eventful week, to say the least. Said events go as follows:
After district meeting we ate at KFC. As we are eating we hear an insanely loud PSHHHHHHHHH noise coming from the kitchen. A gas cylinder had come loose or something. The workers start ducking, running out of the kitchen, and within seconds we all BOOK IT out of the KFC full speed. Imagine in your minds the sight of 7 missionaries bookin' it out the doors of a KFC in a panic, only to realize they fixed the problem, walk back in, and resume eating our fried chicken. RIDICULOUS, but hilarious. We're glad to be alive.

We got a boot on our car, for parking illegally in a place that was not marked. Apparently it was paid parking, but there was not a single sign that said it was. They told us it was "understood by the locals" ... incase you couldn't tell, we're not locals! So we were infuriated, pitched a fit, and ended up paying 2500JMD to get the boot off our car. Sis. Everette, who may be the only person with less tolerance for the government than myself, went on a tirade about Captain Moroni and standing up for our rights. But there's only so much we can do.

For lent I decided to give up quoting movies. It lasted a total of four days. DANGIT.

Last funny story of the week: I've been teaching this young kid in the Hopeton branch how to read twice a week. We call him Hulk. After Hulk's reading lesson, we were walking out of the Hopeton chapel and Sis. E and Sis. W were up to their usual childlike shenanigans trying to give eachother wet willies or something. To calm them down I was like: "Guys, guys ... calm down... last one to the car is a 7th day adventist." I take off running, they book it full speed, my skirt is falling down and my sandals about to come off, and with all the force of a linebacker Sis. W hip checks me hardcore. I start to fall, Sis. E is falling and grabs onto me for stability, only to find none and turf it hardcore in the grass, rollin', skirt flyin up and grass stains on her knees. I turn to check on her, and Sis. W triumphantly reaches the car. We laughed for days. It was a sight to see.

Now for the usual investigator update. Andre has to find a new job before he can be baptized. He basically produces pornography -- by that I mean he makes graphic designs for parties and stuff around the town, and usually these ads have 3/4 naked women on them. He looks at it all day everyday, and President said he's gotta have a change before he can be baptized. Add Chris, who has to quit smoking ganja and you've got two investigators with the insurmountable obstacles between them and the covenant of baptism. But the Lord is able to work miracles if they but exercise their faith in Him and allow Him to make their lives better. We're still teaching Demetri, and we had a very revelatory lesson with his family this week about how they don't feel fellowshipped and don't want Demetri to get baptized and abandoned. So the good news is we know the issue now. The bad news is they're postponing his baptism. The other good news is another guy living in his house wants to be taught. He came to church yesterday and we taught him the plan of salvation and the restoration all at once. He wants to get baptized the same time as Demetri, so now we're shooting for a double baptism April 9th. We also have this group of three guys who started meeting with us pretty much takin' us for a joke, but came to Friday night activity and had a devotional with them, came to sports night Saturday and church on Sunday. So who knows. They seem like cool guys, just party people. We'll keep our hopes high. The cutest thing ever this week was visiting Chamieka who had such an after-baptism glow. She wrote in her journal about her baptism and confirmation and it was adorable. She is so smart. He and her cousins all 10 and under have read to 2 Nephi already, and have retained what they've read. It's amazing! They're spiritual giants. And the best news? Chamieka's mom agreed to start taking the lessons, and told Chamieka she wants to get baptized. Rock on, right!?

Other highlights this week include Sister Murray, a blind member, giving a talk in Sacrament yesterday ... I'll never complain about having to give a talk ever again. Also, I've been complemented much this week that I'm a good storyteller. Now if only I could convert that into a career ... hmm ...

Alright, now for the lessons I've learned this week or at least the ones I have time to write about.

1st - whatever Christ touches lives. Whether it is a dead man, a leper, a sinner, a marriage, a family, an individual... He has the power to heal ANYTHING, if we let Him.

2nd - the hellfire and brimstone that is talked about in the scriptures is actually an inner, spiritual, mental, and emotional burning. I never could picture a loving Heavenly Father that would literally set His children on fire, no matter how awful they were in mortality, and yet most people believe that's what awaits them if they go to "hell". Hell is really being overwhelmed with shame, regret, and guilt. For anyone who has felt those things due to their sins, you know the intense pain that is. The miracle of the Atonement is it can lift that burden completely and take it away. It can put out the fire and repair the damage. BUT if we don't apply the Atonement, that pain is still with us and will remain with us after this life. I can't think of anything more hellish than that, quite frankly. Wickedness never was happiness, so it makes sense. I did more study about it as well. Very interesting - start with the scriptures MOSIAH 4:3 AND ALMA 29:5:

3And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a aremission of their sins, and having peace of bconscience, because of the exceeding cfaith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the dwords which king Benjamin had spoken unto them. (joy = peace of conscience)

5Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is ablameless; but he that bknoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of cconscience. (the opposite of joy is remorse of conscience)

3rd - the April Liahona is amazing. get it, read it and love it. the Atonement = <3
4th - in something I read by Elder Holland, he talked about how forgiving others is the key to forgiveness. how hypocritical it is for us to plead to the Lord for mercy but not be willing to grant that same mercy and forgiveness to others. profound. no wonder how without charity we are nothing, eh?

5th - check your light status. The light of Christ is something you carried with you from premortality into mortality. What are you doing with it? Are you experiencing a blackout? Does your light need to be generated?
6th - I sought to put my life in priority order this week. Elder Christofferson I believe it was said that we can align our wills with God's by stripping everything out of our lives and putting it back together in priority order with Christ at the center. You know me, the English teacher, so I made a concept web with Christ at the center, going out in layers or degrees putting my life together in priority order. I was giddy like a school girl over it. I wish I could scan it and e-mail it. I'm excited. I'm gonna frame it and put it somewhere I can always see it, so I never forget what my priorities should be. Cool.

That's about it for today. Here's looking at another great week.
Love you all,

Sister Payne
Hello Family, Friends, and Fans --

"There is no chance, no fate, no destiny that can circumvent or hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.” Quentin L. Cook

How is everything going? Did my email from two weeks ago go through (the week of March 8th)? I don't know sometimes if I write home about something but no one responds to what I wrote home about ... I assume it didn't go through but if it did and you're just slackers then I forgive you... ;)

I'll start by saying at any given moment, Sister Everette and I can be found singing "Say my Name" by Destiny's Child or that "what's my name" song by Rihanna. It's on a daily basis. It's a disease really. We started incorporating it into lessons, it's that bad. We have yet to find the cure.

Transfers are this week and everything is changing. We're getting a new zone leader, a new district leader, most of our zone is going somewhere else, and Sis. Speakman and Smith are coming back from Nassau and are going to be in Junction, which is in our zone. The good news? We're staying put. The bad news? I wanted to serve in Port Antonio and I'm about 90% positive that's not gonna happen. Whatever will be, will be. Time has been the weirdest thing ever. At times it crawls and in general it flies by. I was reading over old journal entries that were two months ago and feel like they were last week, and then some that were a year ago and seem like 20 years ago. It's hard to explain. But it teaches patience, and diligence, and appreciation for each day. I've been having recurring dreams that I'm in high school. I don't know what that is all about or why ... it's all in different circumstances, but usually entails me on campus in class or something then realizing that I graduated and I'm not supposed to be there. Very very strange at best.

Our companionship has been intense. Key word: tense. We're like three stubborn mules refusing to go anywhere unless its where we wanna go. Compromise has been difficult. There's a general feeling of annoyance and/or tension consistently there over the past week or so. We all get along and our personalities are similar and are pees in a pod when it comes to anything except missionary work. I have decided that I have to be the change that I want to see -- after all, I can only control myself so that is what I'm going to do.

Alright, teaching update. We had a lesson with Sis. Bodley this week, whose mother passed away. It was a great opportunity to bear testimony of the plan of salvation and provide some much needed comfort. We have family home evening with her and her grandsons every week, so we're going to go with her to her mother's funeral for support. Chamieka was doing really well, but I guess kids at school said some mean things to her and it has blown her self-esteem completely. She was writing "i hate myself" all over everything she owned, including her Book of Mormon. She won't really talk to us, or to her mom. She's shut down and has gotten very silent. If anyone knows about premature depression and drama and emotional issues, its me. So you think I'd be able to provide some insight to a moody ten year old, but I haven't been able to. We're gonna see her this week and try to do what we can to help build her individual worth and divine nature. If anyone feels so inclined to write a letter or send anything that they think might help her feel loved and beautiful, you've got six weeks. Demetri and his adopted uncle Odain are both doing well and were both at church and both have a baptism date scheduled for April 9th. Joking around we had asked in Sunday School if you had a a million US what's the first thing you'd buy ... Demetri said he'd pay 10% of his tithing first then he'd buy a house. He's ten. I know, right? Awesome. That helped his grandma to see that he is ready for baptism so she's gotten pretty supportive. Dane is this random guy we met who comes to a bunch of activities. He normally comes with a group of guys so we didn't really take him seriously, just thinkin' he wanted to have fun with some white girls BUT on Sunday his friends all worked and he came to church on his own. We had a good lesson with him and he's read all the tracts we've given him. He's fellowshipped extremely well and a charming guy. We are hoping we can meet with him more often and really get the lessons going seriously with him. Courtney Dunkley is this guy who randomly walked onto the church grounds wanting to repent. He's been at church everyday this last week, and we've taught him three lessons. We're committing him to baptism this week and he was at church on Sunday. He was prepared by the Lord, and though he has a lot of struggles we know that if he keeps working hard and relying on the Lord he can overcome them. Andre is still ... Andre. He's still in love with Sis. Everette and admits that he's motivated to do gospel stuff because of us not because of the Lord. Well then. I committed him to pray for more faith - and we're gonna have to drop him soon. Even though he keeps commitments, unless he agrees to be taught by the Elders there's not much else we can do for the kid if we're just distractions. Shame.

Here's a good experience I had this week. At the friday night activity we were playing dominoes in partnerships and my partner, Dane, was trash talking me that I didn't know how to play and was losing the game for us all this time right? Coming from a guy who basically plays the game every night. Ridiculous. I felt a little like Chamieka at that point like gee whiz, why is everyone picking on me I'm trying my best?! So, Pres Morrison in an act of charity told him to switch teams and that he'd play on my team. It literally felt like I was the geeky kid at school picked last for kickball, but picked first for football by the start quarterback. It's funny how people probably do little things they don't think much about, but it can really help someone. It was small, but Christlike and something I won't forget.

Alright now onto the lessons I learned this week:

When we take the sacrament we promise to always remember Christ. We need to be careful to not violate the covenant in the very meeting that we are making it (ie texting, facebooking on the cell phone, sleeping, talking during sacrament meeting) ... if we can't keep the promise for an hour how on earth could we do it for the rest of the week?

Because the Lord gives us revelation and answers when we're ready for it and on His timetable (3 Ne 17:2) it could take years to get answers. We must be patient.

Family Home Evening is key for a successful family. Start with prayer, then family inventory, a lesson, a prayer and an activity. Make it a priority. It is worth it.

The more grace you receive, or recognize rather, the more you must labor. The more you will want to labor, and the more you need to. Unto whom much is given much is required. This is why converts often make the best members, or people like Paul and Alma the Younger become forces of righteousness.

Love is innate. It is a quality inherited from our Father in Heaven. It is not something we earned but rather something given to us. Think -- a baby is born and has done nothing for anyone except come into existence and yet is loved instantaneously. Why? Because they are fresh from the presence of heaven, and that sparks something in us that was part of us in premortality. Love is so central to who we are and everything that we do. No wonder wars fought, novels written, movies made all over love! But the real love, not the counterfeit in the media, the real pure love of Christ which is inside of all of us is the one that we need to focus on. It will lead us.

Writing poetry is cathartic. I wrote two poems in two days. I'd share them, but I left them at home.

d&c 38:24 And let every man aesteem his brother as himself, and practise bvirtue and holiness before me.

25 And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his abrother as himself.

To esteem is to value -- it is not enough to merely treat others as we'd like to be treated... we must view them and value them as we value ourselves. We need to care about their happiness as we care about our own, their salvation as we care about our own ... That is the real golden rule that we need to live by -- the higher law.

d&c 50:40 Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot abear all things now; ye must bgrow in cgrace and in the knowledge of the truth.

john 16:12 I have yet many things to asay unto you, but ye cannot bbear them now.

BE PATIENT AND DILIGENT -- and as we grow, the Lord will lead us along and reveal more truth and give us more help. But we've gotta seek it.
Last but not least, I read 1 cor 15 Saturday evening. Sunday morning there was a talk about the very thing I read. It talked about how in order to grow, a seed must die. Only after it dies, in the ground, can it sprout. We are the same. We are sent here, to live with God again, but we cannot live with God again unless we die. Death is a promotion - a stepping stone. Our birth was a form of death -- we fell into mortality, dying from our previous state but inheriting another. So it is with the life after this. It is a continuation, and death is a necessary part of our progression. I never saw it like that before and I'm grateful for an increase of understanding.

Well, I'll leave it at that. It is hot in this cafe and I'm ready to roll out of here. All the best. Less than two weeks until conference! WOOHOO!

The church is true!

Sister Payne

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