Tuesday, July 5, 2011

BAZINGA! Family Friends and Fans --

Happy Birthday America! (And Happy Birthday Dustin, tomorrow! :) We have had an excellent week, despite our water being off for 3 days now and ringworm still eating away at our skin ... we can't complain!

We're always broke at the end of the month, so it was great to have a little payday and be able to get some delicious chinese food and restock our house - not to mention celebrate the 4th of July with a real American meal at Burger King, haha. The Elders are joining us for a BBQ at Sis. Heath's this afternoon which should be epic, if my digestive system can quit sucking ... I don't know if its from a year of eating too much curry or what, but everything I eat makes me sick. It's a bit frustrating. But boy, how we've been blessed this week.

RHUEL GOT BAPTIZED! WOOT WOOT! It's been 5+ years in the making with a whole heap of missionaries, but he finally took the step and decided to give his life to Christ, as they say. The members came out, supported him like crazy, and we got to watch The Other Side of Heaven for Friday Night Activity afterwards. It was completely epic in every sense of the word ... one of the best days of my whole mission. The Spirit was strong, as it was in testimony meeting yesterday as well. People are crying left and right, everyone wanted the meeting to just keep going. We had an investigator, Sharon, who we assumed was kinda less effective, randomly show up at church last week, apologize profusely for not making it the week before, and we taught her the restoration lastnight and it was AMAZING! Spiritual powerhouse after spiritual powerhouse. I love bearing testimony of the restoration, because I know its the truth that so many are seeking but don't know where to find it. I'm privileged to be a messenger of Christ's restored gospel. We've had some great lessons with members present, which has made all the difference in the world. In fact, Rhuel's main turning point was when we had the branch president and his first counselor come teaching with us ... they just brought the Spirit with their testimony and from Jamaican to Jamaican it really does make a difference. Chris, our former investigator, has been talking about getting baptized to all the members but he still wasn't talking to us ... apparently he wanted to "come as he is" and just get baptized, but he learned it doesn't work like that. In an inspired event from the Lord, we ran into him on the street and he talked to us just like old times. Hopefully we'll see him take that step before we leave here. We also met taught Codner, whose brother just died, and Errol, a humble older gentleman who just wants a church family to help support him so he can sort out his life before its too late.

Highlights of the week include Sis. Speakman calling a random number in our phone, assuming it was an investigator, and it turning out to be a member ...

Speakman: "I've been there every Sunday, where have you been?"

Biggs: "Where have YOU been?"

It was priceless. One of those "you had to be there" moments.

I've learned a lot, as always. I'm in Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. I never thought I'd make it through 1 Kings! But I've gained some good insights about how God truly is the same yesterday, today and forever ...

check out 2 chron 26:18 -- totally talking about priesthood authority! and 2 chron 36:15-16 - totally describing the apostasy cycle! and 2 chron 32:31 is my favorite - talking about how the Lord isn't always going to lead us by the hand, sometimes He tests us and tries us just to see what we'll do -- i reread that one a few times... I read through Job this morning - there's some good stuff in the Old Testament, man! You just gotta get through all the geneology and random jazz to find it.

I got a chance to read out of a J-Dub bible this week - everytime in the Old Testament that it says Lord, theirs says Jehovah. A couple verses I looked up were totally changed - not even the same as in the King James Bible. I guess its easier to further your religion if you just change God's word to suit your own needs ... ridiculous. That is the one denomination, I would say, that has been the most antagonistic/prideful toward us missionaries ... strange, considering they're also the only ones that go door to door like us. You'd think they'd have some Christian fellowship understanding or something for proselyting and trying to get out your message ... but they don't. I digress.

I talked to a pentecostal guy that believes in "getting in the Spirit" and "speaking in tongues" and all that stuff. I busted out scriptures in the Bible about the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and about tongues being other actual languages and that there always has to be an interpreter ... he straight up looked me square in the eyes and said "God made the Bible for all nations - those verses are what you take out of it, and that's good for you .. but they're not for me" ... .... ... I was dumbfounded. Moral relativism if I've ever heard it. I didn't even know what to say. Crazy.

Had a great experience though lastnight, doing roleplaying with the Morrisons for Tasamo's mission prep. Pres. Morrison pretended to be Hackman (lol) the angriest scariest door approach ever. And you know what? The Spirit was present! We shared a scripture, bore testimony, and he agreed to take a tract ;) It was a neat experience, to see how the Spirit really can work in any situation if we let it.

The love of God is the greatest love there is - it literally makes the world go round. I've pondered about love over the past week ... charity, real pure eternal love that never ends. I want more of it. I have felt greater love from God than from any other source, and that's because He is perfect. Consequently His love is perfect too. I'm beginning to understand for the first time how charity envieth not, seeketh not her own, is not puffed up ... etc. Any other source of love has flaws -- the love may not always be present or be felt ... it may fade over time or it may be motivated by unrighteous desires ... but REAL love, God's love, is deeper than that. It has no flaw. If we can find constant access to that kind of love, to the point where we're feeling it everyday, our love for those around us will grow exponentially along with our confidence, our righteous desires and choices, and our commitment to follow our Savior.

I know that this gospel is true. I know it with all my heart. Jesus Christ always pleaded with us -- "come unto me" ... we come unto Him by following His gospel. It is that simple. And of course, it's hard. It requires we humble ourselves, put aside selfishness, work through fears and anxieties, sacrifice comforts, and move forward with faith. Of course it's hard for us, because it was hard for Him. "The Son of Man hath descended below all things - art thou greater than He?" I love Jesus Christ. He is my Redeemer and He is yours. I know He loves you because I have felt His love for me.

All the best until next week,

Sister Payne
Wa'gwaan Famly, mi Fren dem, an mi Fans --

Wa'appn? Mi gon try fi talk jus a one time in a da patois. Ya maybe nah gon unnastand wha mi say buh whe mi write inna hurry ya nah unnastand me same way.

Alright, I won't keep going. That would just take forever. I can understand 80% of patois now. It's nice. Here's the news of the week:

Transfer calls came in, and despite our deepest wishes to leave we're staying in Mandeville. That'll be a total of 9 months here, (if not more), and it was very discouraging to say the least. This has been our least successful area, and it has been hard to feel ... stuck here, for lack of a better word. But we're moving in in faith and hope and going to improve where we need to improve. Apparently there is more refining to be done and the Lord wants me here to make it happen.

We've had a crazy week. One lesson was with a guy who calls himself "singing eagle" and literally talked, nonstop, for a solid hour ... about many inappropriate things mind you. Thanks goodness we had a member present at that lesson. We also went to sing at the nursing home again, and as we were leaving the director who wasn't there the week before asked us what church we were from and then told us not to come back. Man, felt like Missouri or something. Ridiculous man robbing those old people of some lovely singing. We didn't even sing any song that was about the church or anything. Urgh.

We met a girl Nikki, a former from five years ago or more who had a baptism date, wanted to get baptized but then the Elders left and the next ones never really taught her. So our first lesson SHE brought up baptism - she goes to a church but they baptize by sprinkling and she knows immersion is how Christ was baptized so that's why she's never been baptized there ... she has been prepared to accept the truth. We're teaching her again this evening and extending a baptism date to her. We're excited. Rhuel has a baptism date for July 1st still and is progressing excellently... reading and praying everyday and committed to living the word of wisdom. He's excited, as is his whole family, and us missionaries of course.

We randomly ran into a less active we've been looking for for 7 months. I was drinking a BOOM (energy drink) and she stops me and says "hey! you're mormon! you're not supposed to be drinking caffeine!" I was like ... am I in the twilight zone? Did I get reassigned to the Salt Lake City South mission? She ended up telling us how she fell away because of a fall out with missionaries ... so we did some service for her and had a lesson and she agreed to let us come back. This lady was straight up hardcore ignoring and hiding from us for 7 months. Miracle.

We had an awesome activity - Mandeville vs Hopeton football match ... TONS of people came and no injuries occurred. Our most successful activity yet, so now we're looking to do more combined stuff like that and see what happens. We also spend a good deal of time taking pictures acting like we were characters from Street Fighter. Yeah, I was Vega. Duh. We're gonna go to KFC after this and get kids meals, so we can get Xmen first class watches. :)

Pretty much everything I've been reading or listening to lately has had to do with the family ... such statements as "the family is the most important unit of the Church" and "the church exists to help families achieve peace, happiness, and eternal life" not to mention "the temple is the most sacred place on earth, second only to the home" .... I've realized a lot the importance of family and it has given me a lot of motivation to be a better daughter and sister, not to mention a great wife and mother someday. Afterall, it's so crucial to God's plan!

Well, because Mandeville can be so discouraging, we nicknamed it Liberty Jail ... meaning Joseph Smith turned a hellish hole into a temple, complete with revelation and divine strength from on high ... that's what we're gonna try to do. Often times we feel like Paul on Mars Hill (Acts 17) preaching to people who don't even really know what they worship, but don't wanna listen to anything else. I've been working on having a paradigm shift -- which has started with not caring about numbers, but rather caring about people. I think the work has become too much like a job for me - clock in, clock out -- alright, I'm ready to put in applications somewhere else I'm not making enough money... it shouldn't be like that. So I'm striving to start over kinda, go back to basics... I'm also working on getting in shape. My comps are my personal trainers. We'll see what happens.

That's it for now. Jamaica rocks. I am blessed. No current crisis to worry about, which is always appreciated.

It's hot and getting hotter. In that respect, it's REALLY good to be in Mandeville.

Love you all!

Sister Payne
Hey Family, Friends, and Fans --

It's been a pretty good week. On Saturday I ate two ice cream sandwiches. So of course it was a good week.

It's been eventful to say the least. One Elder that went home, Elder Ashton, our former zone leader, confessed his crush on Sister Wilkinson via letter his last day here. It's been hilarious to see the mission turn into a 7th grade science classroom all of the sudden with the whispers and the curiosity. Pure silliness. Poor Sis W has no idea what to do, it came out of left field haha. Other crazy stuff from this week includes Elder Hofmann, who came out from the MTC with me, is now my zone leader. I haven't seen him since 4.20.10. Nuts! Elder Hefner, a new Elder from Seattle is now in our district. He seems really genuine and cool. I completely overworked my calves and Sis. Wilkinson pulled a sports trainer and massaged them out which hurt like I don't even know what. They took four days to heal. Gotta love yesterday when we had a talk on reverence in sacrament meeting and someone's cell phone went off - haha. We're getting some t-shirts made (hopefully) that have the new orleans saints logo on them, but say latter day instead of new orleans. Awesome, right? Our investigator Andre is designing them for us. Rhuel is still on track for baptism July 1st and is doing very well. I exercised every day this week. That's the best I've done since the MTC. One of our investigator's dad died .... in January... and she just found out about it because apparently her brother's been lying about it for six months. Crazy, right?

A couple other funny stories... yesterday in Sacrament Meeting Christina, Demetri's (our recent convert) little sister, wasn't being reverent during the prayer. So afterwards I asked her WHY are you NEVER reverent during prayers?! And she goes .... "because you don't pay attention to me!" Funny how honest kids are man. Also, I would like to dispell the common myth that letters distract missionaries. I so often read "oh I'll let you get back to the Lord's work now! I've taken enough of your time with this one paragraph letter!" or "I just haven't written because I didn't want to distract you from your work" ... you know what IS distracting? NOT getting letters. I mean, we have one hour on the computer completely devoted to email. If you don't email me, then that's an hour wasted. We also have one whole day on Monday to do pretty much nothing. So without letters, I just sleep haha. Don't feel bad distracting me from sleep. Letters are good. The end.

We have a 16 year old member who's uncle and cousin tell her she's a shame to the family and a devil worshipper and a white-lover for coming to a white-man-church every Sunday when she gets ready to come. Yesterday she told us she was gonna stop coming because she couldn't handle the persecution. We had a good talk with her, but my heart went out to the poor girl. The members here really are pioneers. It seems like pioneers must always face persecution. We're gonna give her a copy of the book Our Heritage to help her see she's one of the elite. She agreed to push forward and keep comin' out to church. She's stalwart.

I've learned a lot of lessons this week -- to stand up for what's right, even if you stand alone ... to avoid the chokehold of addiction at all costs, and strive to help your loved ones avoid it too ... that Satan strives to take control of the body 1) because he doesn't have one and 2) because its earthy and he has dominion over the earth (hence lust, greed, the natural man, etc) ... but the Lord can take control of our Spirit because it is heavenly and eternal, so our spirit must be stronger than our body! .... also learning how humility, obedience, and faith enable us to lay claim on the divine assistance of grace ... and Rhuel taught me that if you keep the word of God to yourself, it will intoxicate you ... you must share it with others. How true that is.

We're having a great time, one day at a time. June is going by fast despite its faults and challenges. We have zone conference next month. Oh yeah, this Thursday our ZLs got it approved for us to do tradeoffs with the Sisters ... which means Sis Smith will be coming here for a day and I'll be going to Junction to be with Sis Everette. Tight, right? I'm stoked. I love the work I'm engaged in. I'm still loving every personal study. I'm loving working hard and going to bed tired. I'm loving being a total goofball with my companions --- we made a hula music video the other night.

Take care the coming week. May the restored gospel of Jesus Christ be as much of a blessing to you as it is to me. May the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ enter your heart and begin to swell. I love you all (especially my family - miss you, love you! you're the best!) Hugs and high fives!

All the best,

Sister Payne
Hey Family, Friends, and Fans --

A lot to write about this week I hope I can fit it all in.

First off, Rhuel is on track hardcore for baptism this Friday. His interview will be Wednesday, and I know he'll pass. He's doing great and to see his progress has been incredible. Meanwhile, RC - Odain gave a talk on Sunday. He can't read very well at all, and instead of declining when he was asked, he instead chose to memorize his talk! How great is that? What an example he is to me of dedication to doing what the Lord wants him to do. In his words, his talk was "short and spicy". It was great.

I've noticed some things this week. The first was while around a bunch of tourists - I noticed that I'm uncomfortable around a lot of whiteys. Seriously. It makes me feel extremely awkward, like I don't know how to relate to them. My companions expressed the same sentiment. Almost everytime we see a white person we're thinking "please, don't talk to us" ... Can't quit explain it. Even being around all the missionaries can be weird sometimes. It's cool being the girl missionaries here (that's what they call us) ... girls at different branches request to see us if we're ever in their area, just so they can meet us - since we're the first white ones here I guess. It's been a cool opportunity to be a good example for these young girls. Everytime I meet one, I talk with them about serving a mission one day.

The heat is killer and so is the cold. The weather is straight up bi-polar these days. It has been so windy I've had to wear my extra long skirts just so I don't flash my covenants to anyone while we're tracting. That's a funny mission anecdote I'll look back on and chuckle at. Another anecdote - missionaries all over the world deal with this I'm sure .... you start talking to your companion, carrying on a conversation from the other room, then you ask them a question and get no response - only to go find them and find them kneeling in prayer to which you respond "AH! MY BAD!" and then they have to fight a chuckle during their prayer. It has happened too many times to count.

We met a great new couple, Taniesha and Shane. They're engaged, both go to different churches, but seem really interested in the message and very welcoming and smart. We can't wait to teach them again. I've been blessed with many experiences with sincere prayer this week. I've seen such a different in my prayer since I came on a mission. There's no longer fluff - just open, honest conversation with Heavenly Father. It has made all the difference for me and I've felt no greater peace, comfort, or love than while on my knees. I've been able to teach people about it better since I have first hand experience with it. It's been a huge blessing. I've also been blessed by reading The Book of Mormon. The talk by Jeffrey R Holland - Safety for the Soul ...


watch that and/or read it if you get the chance this week ... you will get the chance if you make the chance, so no excuses ;) Everything I teach all day every day hinges on the divinity of The Book of Mormon. That's why it is so important - that's why it is so controversial - that's why it is so powerful ... because you make or break my faith with The Book of Mormon. I'm grateful for such a concise means on obtaining a witness of its truthfulness - read and pray!

I have successfully managed (for now) to convert discouragement into commitment. I've learned that being good isn't good enough - that we're destined to be great, so we can't ever settle. I was settling, but I've picked myself back up, dusted off my man shoes, thrown on my best jumper and gotten back out into the work!

I went on a tradeoff this week with Sis. Everette. There's too much there for even write about. Let's just say that I was able to bear pure testimony and call someone to repentance, one of the only times on my mission, where the Spirit was so strong it left one that would stop talking totally silent. I felt like Ammon or something. I also got to answer some deep deep questions from a truth seeker and he actually took the answers and applied them. That was cool to see. A trade off was cool because its not my area, so I'll never see the fruit from my labors really that one day, so it was probably the most selfless service I've done my whole mission.

Last but not least, there's been a ringworm outbreak. All three of us have it and we're headed to the doctor today. Where we got it, I don't know. It's pretty gross to like ... live with a fungus. But whatever. I just chalk it up to experience.

I know this gospel is true. I know it's true because it has changed my nature, changed my heart, changed my life - and nothing has the power to do that except for truth sent from God. I am privileged to be a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am blessed to spend this time in His service, and more than blessed to be able to go through such difficulties that have shaped me into a better person. My prayers are full of your names and I am grateful for every prayer said on my behalf.

I love you!


Sister Payne