Monday, September 26, 2016

Life is a Roller-Coaster

Family and Friends,

To say that this week was an emotional roller-coaster is an understatement.  We dropped Evelyn. It was hard, but we feel at peace about it. We just kept having this feeling, she wont change, she wont change, and sure enough. We came to her house for a lesson with the kids, and ended up talking to her for two hours straight. Heavenly Father totally prepared her for it because she kept saying, “I knew this was going to happen. I kept thinking about this conversation all week”.  And we were like, “Yep, where are you at?” It came down to the fact that she enjoys drinking and smoking. By the end of the conversation she was so upset at herself. She said that Jesus literally knocked on her door and told her to change, and she told him no. We went and saw her on Friday to see how she was doing and she was all timid and shy. But we just told her that we loved her and that we know that she will make the change one day.
It is hard because we still have the kids to teach and we are worried that now it’s not cool that nana is not taking the discussions, so now they won't want to either. We don't know what to do at this point with them. We have a feeling that they will drop us. It is hard because they were our first investigators and I love them so much!

Emmanuel is STELLAR!!!!!!!!!!! He loves what we are teaching him and he loves the spirit he feels when we are teaching him. He is progressing nicely. He has learned The Restoration, and the Plan of
Salvation. He seems to grasp it pretty good! We keep telling him to read and pray, read and pray. I think he is starting to grasp how important reading is to his conversion. The only problem we are having is that he is so shy. It has been better communicating with texting, but he takes forever to reply to anything. Anyway, it is getting better and he is getting excited. We were able to take him on a church tour. You could tell that he felt the spirit. It was so cool!!! Later that night he sent us a text and told us that he talked to his stepdad, who told him that he should stay with his own church. We were frantic!! We sent him a Mormon message that Sister Acker and I both had been prompted to send him. When we did, he text us back that he watched it and he was going to do as the video directs and fast and pray to know which church to join. We let him know that we were also going to be fasting and praying for him. So Saturday we fasted. We didn't text him that day, but on Sunday we texted him and told him that we missed him at church. We then sent him an invitation to listen to General
Conference to get his answer, and he said that he would. We took that as a good sign. Then later last night he text us that he wanted to know more about us. We realized that he was freaking out, not about the gospel, but because we really didn't know him, and he didn't know us. :) Haha! J So all last night we talked about our lives over text and I think that we have officially been upgraded to friend status with him because he texted us good morning!! He told us yesterday that he thinks that he got his answer, but he was going to pray and sleep on it one more time. I feel really optimistic! You can tell that he is so open hearted and willing to learn, and more than that, he really wants to know the truth for himself.

So this week has been kind of a crazy week as far as investigators go.
But for everything else, it has been pretty good. Sister Acker and I are still sleeping in the living room on blankets, due to the distrust of our beds. We are constantly cleaning them, but we still prefer the floor. Our STL's are coming this week so we are now putting our beds back together. We went to the Laundromat today and literally washed everything we owned; clothes, bedding, everything. I ended up spending 20 bucks to do the whole thing. But the lady there is sooooo sweet. In her words, these are my adopted Mormon girls. She has made it a point to take us under her wing, and make sure we are taken care of. She isn't a member, but she is happy to take care of a fellow Christians. She is a doll!

We have also been adopted by the Jones', they were a referral who we went and saw my first day out in the field. They were so happy to talk about the bible and you could tell how much they loved Jesus, but we both were prompted to not teach them in a traditional sense but to lead by example. So now they feed us and take care of us, but we don't teach them. It’s weird to be a missionary and not open my mouth and
Share my testimony of the gospel. But I have been comforted to know that in due time, they will come with questions. So for now, they are our adopted mom and dad. Oh funny thing, we are almost positive that D. Jones taught my Uncle Clint in Dental School. He says that his name sounds familiar, and that he still remembers the people he taught when the program was still pretty small. Sooo cool! They are wonderful! The members in the ward are great as well. Two of the ladies in the ward took us to the zoo! It was AWESOME!!!! I loved just having fun!

The only thing that we are having issues with it being fed. We are spending a lot of money on food each week because we are not really being fed. In the three weeks I have been here, I have been fed 3 times, and one of those was yesterday night. It is a bit of a struggle, but I have faith that the more they get to know us, the more they will have the desire to feed us and have us over.

I freaking love it out here so much!!! It is amazing, my understanding of the goodness of God increases each day. And serving people does something to the heart that makes you love them so much. It is incredible!!!!!! I have been here for 3 weeks, and it feels like I have been here for a life time.

I love you! God loves you! Please write me!

️-Sister Emily Williams

Week of the Gas Light Festival- September 19, 2016

Hey friends and family!

This week was awesome! We were able to teach Evelyn a few more times.
She is so wonderful, but the closer we get to her baptism date the harder Satan is working. Literally every time we go over there it's something new. Also, she finally opened up about her addiction problem. She announced that she hasn't even cut back on smoking and drinking and all she thinks about when we leave is drinking that next beer, and getting her nicotine fix. It's so sad because she wants it when we're there at her house, but after we leave its like those feelings she had when we were there, and that desire to change, goes out the window. We keep getting the impression that we need to drop her. The problem we are running into is how do we keep her grandkids progressing if we do drop her. We are now figuring out that she likes the gospel, she loves us, but she hates church because of how quiet it is, and she hates that women can't get the priesthood. It's bad, but we still love her.

We are starting to make some headway with Emanuel. He is learning and praying and we can tell he is feeling the spirit! We asked him to read the BOM and pray about it, asking if the church was true or not. He did that and then went to bed. He said that he had a dream that night of a bright white light. It woke him up at 2 in the morning. He then went back to sleep. But my companion and I freaked out; we were so stinking excited!!! So he is coming along nicely!

There was a fair literally right out our front door for three days straight this week. We didn't even need to really try this week and we hit our ‘Talk With Everyone’ goal. We set our goal as 140, but we ended up getting 164 for the week!!! The problem is that we might have talked with 164 people, but none of them were even willing to stop and talk like they usually do. The second the Gas Light Festival hit, southern hospitality went out the door. But it was funny because we found that the only people willing to talk were the drunk ones. J We always tried to leave as fast as possible, but sometimes they would ramble on and on, and we had a hard time not laughing! Another fun thing with the festival was the music. Most of the time classic rock would be playing outside and we would jam in our apartment, but one day there was a Mexican concert across the street, and it was just awful. It played from 3 in the afternoon until 12 at night. We tried to sleep but this awful band just kept on playing. It was like a mix between easy listening jazz, and a mariachi band. Anyway, we were glad when the Gas Light Festival was over and we could drive to our apartment again.

We still have a car, because we have the super rural part of Jefferson town as well as the urban part, but this week we were able to head out to Fisherville and visit some less-actives. The area we see as we drive is what I thought all of Kentucky looked like. BEAUTIFUL!!! The trees here are so crazy cool! I seriously don't know how people could think that there isn't a God, when it's so obvious. It's too beautiful here to be happenstance.

We got out to our destination and the guy we were trying to see was gone, but Sister Acker was telling me how this guy was super into Halloween, and he leaves decorations up year round because he is in charge of the yearly Halloween party in the neighborhood. She also showed me the family cemetery he has in his yard. It was so cool, the headstones date back before the civil war! It was such a pretty area that, of course, we did a photo shoot!!!

We also had zone conference this week. It was awesome and so motivating that we just wanted to get out there and preach!!!! My testimony has grown exponentially more than I ever thought possible, and I love the gospel more than life. I think defending it everyday has made me appreciate it so much more. So zone conference came, and getting new ideas and different tactics on how to teach got me so excited! I seriously love my zone! My zone leaders rock and everyone in our zone is just so cool!! And I know that probably everyone says that they have a rockin’ president, but I really have the best one ever!!

We also now have Facebook on the mission as a new proselyting tactic.
It allows us to reach people not just in Kentucky, but back home and worldwide as well. I am trying to be excited, but I was so ready to get away from the world on my mission, and now it's here as well. So don't be alarmed if you see me posting!

The ward here is great and they are willing to do anything but feed us, so Sister Acker and I decided to bake cookies to say thanks to those who helped drive our investigators to church. We followed the recipe perfectly, but the cookies were nasty. The first ones were super doughy and when we baked them; they had the consistency of a sponge. So we added more flour, and then they felt and looked like hockey pucks. Plus, they were gross. So then we had to by store bought cookies. That's what we get for trying to be nice!!

Today we went to the zoo!!!!!! It's awesome!!!!!!! We had soooooo much fun!!!!! I think the pictures can speak for themselves:

Side note I freaking love The Nashville Tribute Band, it's all we listen to!!!! I need the Joseph Smith album more than life!!! Seriously we jam in the car and it is so amazing!! Their album Savior, has me looking at the atonement in a whole new light, and I am ever more grateful for him.

I want you all to know how much I love this gospel. I know the savior lives. He loves us, and he paved the way for us to return to live with our
Heavenly Father again. I pray for you each night and I hope you know how much I love all of you!

Love, Sister Williams

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Welcome to Kentucky!!

Hey friends and family!!!!!

Boy do I have a lot to tell you! My last week in the MTC was amazing! I learned so much and got so much closer to my district. The girls in my room moved out and it was so hard to see them go! P-day in the MTC was horrible. It felt like wasted time that could be productive, and I maybe changed my clothes like 8 times a day. I went from P-day clothes, to church clothes, to gym clothes, to temple clothes, etc. You get the point. It was so awesome to be able to go with my district to the temple. The love I felt for them grew so much when I realized that I was surrounded by good worthy young men and women, and they were doing to work of the Lord.

My district was chosen out of all of the districts in the MTC to be a host!!!! That was AMAZING!!!!! As luck would have it I got tombs, the host for two of my girls in my branch. It was fun to be able to say, “Hey! I'm your sister training leader!” Two of the new girls were older and it was so cool to see their dedication. One of the girls was 24, and the other was 26. It almost felt a little silly to be the leader over girls so much older than me.

On Thursday we sisters finally asked four of the elders to give us a blessing before we left the MTC. It was so funny because they were so nervous when we pulled them aside, but after we told them what it was for, they were like, “Oh, sure no problem”. Also, there was an emergency meeting today for the sisters in the gym. They had a stage set up with a microphone, but everyone just stood around, some in
P-day clothes, others dressed in normal missionary attire. They announced that there was a bat infestation in building 17-M where we were living and they had to evacuate floors 3 and 4. We were so happy that we lived on 2. We then found out that our elders had to move to building 12-M because the sister were taking 13-M from them. So we celebrated that night with them before they moved.

On Friday we did in-field orientation. I learned how important it was to work with the members. They taught us so much in such a short amount of time that I thought my brain would explode! They also performed a really tacky play that was so goofy that I loved it. It was also about working with the members.

Saturday came and we got a call on our training leader cellphone that we had to come to the information desk immediately because we were the STL's and we were moving out of 17-M. We only had one day left before we left the MTC so sufficient to say, we were not excited. We pulled the other sisters out to say that they had to move and it had to be that day because after midnight, our key cards would no longer work in 17-M. Also we all had to move to the 4th floor and this dorm didn't have an elevator. That was not a pleasant meeting. We had one hour to get packed before our elders arrived to help us move, so we just shoved everything into our suitcases as fast as possible. The elders were so sweet though; they made sure we had the lightest things in our hands before making the trek to 13-M. We got to bed really late that night because everything was everywhere and we couldn't find anything. I was so sad because it was the last day of class with my district and I didn't even get to enjoy it.

Sunday came and I was glad to be able to take the sacrament and press restart on my week after the night before. It was fast Sunday so we all got up and bore our testimonies. The people in my district legitimately are spiritual rock stars. My district and the other district that was leaving with us got up and sang Joseph smith's first prayer to the tune of “Come Thou Fount”. We had a piano and cello playing and it was so powerful that I couldn't sing, I was crying so hard. We then went to a devotional, and it was awesome! A football player who played in the NFL and now is an ambassador for the NFL in China came and spoke with us. It was awesome!!!!!!! He taught us to WORK! We then decided to skip the movie they were showing and went back to the classroom to have our own little goodbyes. We fooled around for the first part of the hour. Then we decided to watch “Glorious” by David Archuleta. We all started to sing, and then we all started to cry. A couple days ago our teacher had us write down what we learned from each member of our district, and when we shared it with each other it was so touching. We all were crying; even our spiritual meatheads. There was a moment when our district leader spoke and he said how it was so easy for us all to fall into step with one another, and now when it's time to part he explained why it is so hard, he said: "We knew each other in the preexistence, we were friends, and the reason it is hard is because we are immortal beings living a mortal life. And we will see each other again".  

After we left the sob fest we walked back to our dorms to drop off our stuff and meet up with the four elders to give us blessings. When they walked out they announced who would be blessing whom. I got elder Davis, the district leader, also known as the hulk. One by one they gave us blessings, It was one of the most touching blessings I have ever received. The spirit was so strong, and the message was just what I needed to hear. There was a moment when he said something, and I realized that this was a message to me from my HF. I am so grateful for the priesthood!!!!!!!   That night after we got back we all had to unpack our jumbled suitcases and repack them so that they were organized for our flight the next morning. We packed until 1 in the morning then got up at 2:30 to get ready to go and to see off the New Jersey-ites. We then had an hour before we left to chill.  We started to mope about how much we were going to miss them. The bus was good and dark and I slept soundly. The airport was not busy because by now it was only about 5 in the morning. We were standing in line and Sister Mitchell, Sister Shepherd, and I tried to plan and see if we could intercept them before they boarded their flight. We were so sad when we saw that their flight was already boarding and we missed them. We got through security and were walking down the terminals when we heard someone call out “SISTERS!!” We looked, and standing there was our district Elders and Sister Phillips. We literally dropped our carry-ons and ran to see them. Tender mercies of the lord!

Getting to talk to the family at the airport was so amazing! When we finally boarded the plane I was so tired. The plane ride was long but I finished reading Helaman on the plane and got some sleep in. When we stepped off the plane in Kentucky, the first thing I noticed was how humid it was.
We met up with the mission president, his wife, and his assistants. They were all so nice. They fed us and went through a lot of information about medical things; by the end of it all I was so tired. I love Sister and President Brough!!!!! President Brough is so stinking funny!!!!!

That next day we went to the church, met our companions, and found out what area we were going to be in, I got called to J-Town. And it is a bike area!!! My companion's name is Sister Acker and she is a dear! We were right in Louisville, so it only took us a half hour to get there. We got to the apartment and yep; I'm in the ghetto. We got food and bedding for me and after that we went and visited one of our investigators, Evelyn. I have never before seen poverty like I see here. Evelyn is the grandma of four grandkids, all from different dads, living in a two-bedroom home with one bed to sleep on. It is the saddest thing. But when we teach them it is so incredible. They are so receptive and she loves what she is hearing so much! But she is a smoker and she loves her margaritas. We are now in the process of keeping her dry and smoke free for 3 weeks so that she can get baptized. Her kids are also learning and loving it so much. We finally got them to church on Sunday and it was a miracle! They loved it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yay!

J-Town is a town of the "Thanks, but I have already been saved". So the work is slow. We had a hectic week trying to revive the area and we got 3 new investors and we think we can get two more this week. That puts us at 6 current investigators, but only 3 have baptism dates. A lot of this week we spent doing service, 10 hours to be exact. We help a local Methodist church serve the community food, because we do live in a very poor area. One of the ladies there needed help with her yard, and we were able to go out to the pretty part of Kentucky and away from the inner city.

Her house sits way up in the hill and it is surrounded by forest. She needed us to weed and help with the ivy growing on her barn. So sister Acker got weeding and I got the barn. Ivy, I have learned, is a great little home for really big scary spiders. Sister Acker and Loretta both made fun of me as I tried to pull off the vines and not freak out. I am happy to report that I made it out relatively unscathed. I may have PTSD from it all. J We got fed after we worked and boy can this lady cook! We got homemade chicken noodle soup, bacon rolls and salad. It was sooooo good!

When we got home from that we immediately got to work teaching and inviting. I have seen Evelyn and her kids everyday this week so far, and it rocks! She is amazing, the kids are amazing, I love them soooo much but her house I don't love. It is all kinds of nasty. Which brings me to my next topic: BED BUGS!

They must be hereditary or something because I got them the same as my cousin Ashley in Arkansas. Everything that could go wrong that day, did. I woke Friday and went to go take a shower just to learn that bed bugs had literally bit me in the butt. And boy they itched. From there we had to go to a relief society activity, which was awesome. Then after that we went to teach people and all of the appointments but 2 fell through. Torrential rain hit and we got soaked. We came home late to realize that our AC had gone out because of the storm, so our apartment was super hot. We had to take all of our clothes and put them in black garbage bags and stick them in our trunk to bake out the bedbugs. I am almost 100 percent sure that my clothes were fine. Then we had to strip the beds of the sheets so that we could wash them. We went to the laundry mat just to find out that they decided to close a half hour early, so we were forced to use the one in our apartment complex. We went to the store and got cash out so that we could use the machines. My companion lost her $20 after 5 minutes and can't find it anywhere. We went to 3 different locations before we found a place that could give us coins for our cash. When we made it back to the apartment we realized that exact obedience was not in the cards for us that day. We went to the laundry place in our complex, and it looked like something out of a horror movie. On top of its “beauty”, the place is really expensive. I ended up spending 20 bucks to wash everything. While most of our stuff was washing, we went to the apartment to wash everything and to vacuum the beds, the floors, EVERYTHING. I had the most bedbugs. It was nasty. By the time we finished washing everything, it was midnight. The dryers were awful so our stuff was still wet after it finished, so we laid everything out on the floor of the family room so it could dry.

It was so hot in the apartment, and we were so tired and not ready to trust our beds just yet, so we slept on the damp sheets on the floor. Best sleep of my life. We are still recovering from that crazy day; we have to dry our bedding everyday on high heat.

Life is crazy!!!!!! I love it!!!!!

Love y'all so much,

-Sister Williams

AKA-Bed bug cage fighter #2