Sunday, October 21, 2012

Picture Explosion

Dear loved ones :)
Hello!! I hope you enjoy all of the pictures. The thing that stinks is that when I upload them it only says picture 1, 2, etc. so I don't know which one that is. So I will briefly explain them and you can easily match them up. The first couple are of me having too much fun during weekly planning. I wanted to say Happy Halloween through a picture, therefore the fangs and freaky face. We also were really excited about the Magness cookies that came our way. They were very well kept. Nice job on the bubble wrap. Other pictures are of my district eating a big Tongan feast...I'll explain that in a little bit. We had to master self timer that's why we have so many tries. Other pic is of me and Elder Bednar (President Bednar back then). He was the first Stake President in the Rogers Stake. Pretty neat. The picture with the most people is the Hughes family (to the right of me) and then Sara and her kiddos to the left of me. The Hughes are AMAZING. Caps lock necessary to explain how amazing they are. A ton of people in the ward and stake always get me and Sister Hughes mixed up. People think we are sisters even though she is blonde and also I am a missionary. I don't know if I really see it, but anyways fun fact. Sara is an investigator, working towards baptism!! I have mentioned her in a few emails. She is amazing and so in tune. We taught her daughter last night too. I will get to that in a bit. Sorry for the longest paragraph ever but I figured the pictures needed some explanations. So, enjoy.
Okay so usually I come to the library all prepared with a little outline (nerdy? yes) of what I will write to you but this week has been so busy that I didn't have time for that. So, if this email seems scattered I am sorry! I think I will just go by the days of the week and tell you some highlights.
Great preparation day like always. We taught the Jones family and had dinner with them. Our investigators put themselves on the dinner calendar here. Awesome right? They are doing well, but sometimes seem just a tad stuck. We pray about how we can help them continue to progress. They weren't able to come to church Sunday, and they both missed it a lot so that's a good sign :) We also met with the Weed family. They are less active. It is a mom, her daughter and her two grandkids that live in her home. I finally met her grandson and he is the sweetest thing. He has some special needs, but has so much love. He was my little buddy. They haven't been to church in a very long time, but they are in such a right place in their lives to come back. Blessed to see this transition for them so hopefully it continues to go well.
We went to the old folks home again. They are so sweet!! They always pray for us and say the best prayers.
Met with the Kelly's again. It went great!! Still working on the 12 step program with them and working on getting them to church. We have a lot of fun with this family. Their daughter drew a picture of me and my eyebrow. Apparently they think my eyebrow is expressive as I talk and I didn't get what she was saying so she drew a picture for me that "shows" it. It is too funny. I will have to send it to you so you can see people's perception of your daughter. Good times with the Kelly's.
We went to lunch with a member of the singles branch. She is so fun! She heard the talk from conference about "just ask the missionaries" and interpreted for herself as "Just ask the missionaries to lunch!" Haha nice huh? So we were able to chat with her and possibly seeing about a mission for her. A lot of young girls in the branch are expressing wanting to go which is awesome! We are teaching a recent convert who really wants to, so we are going to start role playing with her with the PMG lessons. Should be fun.
We had District Meeting. Good times like always, nothing too exciting there. Our district is just great!
We went with Rex and Julianne to PF Changs. She wanted to treat us to a good dinner and I was really excited. We had to drive into Rogers to meet them. The restaurant is in a similar Town Square sort of set up. I was so happy to see stores again! I freaked out when I saw a Target. I am not a big shopper but it just felt like home so it was good. I also forgot how delicious their lettuce wraps were. Anyways, we had a lesson with them about the Word of Wisdom and it was amazing to hear his experiences with quitting. He is just so prepared and everytime we meet I just see more and more of God's hand in his life even before he met us and Julianne. His baptism is in 2 weeks!! We are pretty excited for that.
I am going to do a combo of these days simply because they aren't too exciting. We had a few lessons and such. We also had our MCM meeting where we coordinate with the mission leader. I always think of you dad! We have had crazy thunderstorms too. So we had a lot of cancellations on Friday because we were supposed to stay inside/people didn't want to drive. So we did a lot of planning and catching up.
Saturday was a great day. One of the companionships in our district had a wedding and a baptism. It was cool to be there for this special event for this family. We invited our investigators to come watch, and Rex decided that he really wanted to be there. Turned out he had to deal with certain errands that morning but was trying to make it. I was praying the whole time that he would make it on time. Heavenly Father definitely needed him to be there because the wedding started late, little kids kept interrupting, it took longer for the bride to change, etc. He came just in time and afterwards he said that he needed to be there. So that was awesome to have him witness a baptism.
Then we had our Tongan feast! 2 Elders in my district are tongan, so they knew what they were doing. It was really, really good. Our whole district has been feeling a tad stressed lately and so he decided to take an afternoon to relax and just eat. Nothing better! We had a lot of of fun and it was definitely needed.
That night was the craziest lightning storm!! Dad, you would've loved it. It is pretty cool to see. We did have a tornado watch too, but nothing came about.
Oh, mom we had dinner with the Hansen family. We got talking about where they grew up and they said Salt Lake. I asked what high school and she said Skyline. I was like oh yeah my parents went there. She asked what your maiden name was and freaked out. She ran off and pulled the yearbook out and was like, "yep you look like your mom." Crazy right? Her name is Teri Rodgers Hansen and her sister is Laurie Rodgers (don't know her married name). She said her sister Laurie is your age and they were in your ward. So, let me know if that rings a bell. It should due to the excitement she showed haha.
Another long, long Sunday but it was a great one. We were blessed to have 4 potential investigators there! 2 just showed up on their own, and the other 2 were brought by friends in the branch. We are meeting with them this week, so we hope it goes well. We are so grateful to be in an area where the members just open their mouth and talk to their friends about the gospel. It definitely helps the work!
We had an amazing lesson with Sara at the Hughes' home (goes with the pic). So we have been teaching Sara for a while, but she wants her children to be a part of this journey with her. So we had our first lesson with her kids last night. We taught the Restoration using a visual and it was so amazing. Her daughter is so prepared and so spiritual. I could not believe that we were teaching an 8 year old because of how in tune she was. Like mother, like daughter I guess. I just felt so blessed to be a part of that lesson and see this little girl exercise faith. She told me that she wants to go on a mission when she is 19. She is completely serious! She is saying this before she is even baptized haha. So cool.
We also had a jello slurping contest because the jello was really watery. Get some straws and try it some time. It's pretty fun.
Anyways, I feel like I just typed out a research paper. For those of you who read through this whole email without skimming, well done! It's a long one. I hope you enjoy the details though. Tomorrow and Wednesday we are headed to Sister's Conference in Tulsa. I am excited!! Sister Shumway called me and asked me to sing at it...meh. I miss singing with choirs, not so much being a soloist. But it should go well.
I am on my way right now to an art museum that is pretty popular here. It's called Crystal Bridges. We are meeting the Fayetteville sisters (one which is Sis Hanshew from Nevada)!
Well, enough rambling from me. I love you all. Thanks for your love and support. It means the world to me. I am grateful each and every day. Have a great week!! I love you!!
Much love,
Sister Magness

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Beautiful GC Weekend

Hello family and friends!!
How are y'all? Guess what? I said "y'all" for the first time this week...yep it just came out with no thought at all. That was kind of fun/shocking. We will see if that sticks around. It sounds like you had a good Conference weekend. I sure did! I will chat more about that later.
How is the weather where you are at? Let's just say I have had to pull out the tights and coats. It is freezing! The humid cold makes things just a bit more chilly. Pretty different than Provo cold. We had little snow flurries on Saturday, but nothing stuck to the ground. It was crazy. It is a little warmer today but we are definitely transitioning to winter. The leaves are barely starting to change. I think of you mom when I see a really pretty tree that is changing. You would love it here with the seasons changing. I will try to get some pictures of it.
Tell the Spring Creek youth thank you!! I got a package from them with letters and pictures. It was awesome. I will have to write a letter to them at some point, but if it takes me a while just let the YW/YM leaders know that I got it and that I am grateful!
Also, go Cougars :)
Anyways, This has been a great week once again. I think the best way for me to tell you about it, is by just going through some people we have taught and how it is going with them. I will try not to bore you with this, but it is exciting missionary happenings.
The Kelly's - We are doing the 12 step program with them. Not for any real addictions (which it is intended for) but rather to make the Atonement more real. I have started doing it too and it is AMAZING. Every member should do it, in my opinion. It makes the Atonement more understandable and very personal. We have had wonderful experiences going through it with them. Random cool prayers are answered story. It might seem silly but when we got there Carrie Underwood's cd was playing. She immediately started talking about her week and was getting into the 12 step stuff and I was like "I can't focus with this." I just thought how much Ciara and I listened to the cd before I left haha. I said it quick prayer to Heavenly Father along the lines of help me focus/know how to ask her to turn it off/ a good time to do it. No I said 'Amen' in my head she was like, "Wait, should I turn the cd off?" Amazing Heavenly Father even cares about my concern for a cd playing during a lesson.
Stacy - She moved to Arizona this week. She is amazing!! She is a member we were working with. She got an amazing job offer and I know it was an answer to her prayers. I have a picture with her that I will attach. I really will miss her.
Hidachi - Yes, that is his name. He is a recent convert in the YSA branch. We taught a lesson on the Priesthood with another member of the branch. We were sitting outside teaching the lesson and a lot of his neighbors were just staring at us. So, the member we went with was just like, "Hey wanna talk about the Priesthood with us?" They were like, "the what?" Haha they were curious though. They went on to say no we are interested in other scripture besides the Bible. I said great well here is a Book of Mormon. So we got to give 3 Book of Mormons out! It was cool. I am grateful for the member we went with. He just got home from his mission so I think he is still in the mission mode and not afraid to say "Hey wanna talk about the Priesthood?"
Thompson - part member family. We went over to watch the Restoration video with them. The husband is a non member. It really brought the spirit in their home. As we watched the First Vision segment, the little 4 year old was SO happy! She just kept saying, "It's Jesus, It's Jesus!" She asked us if she could keep the video and watch it every day. Uhh yeah of course! It was really neat to see how much the kids loved it. We are excited to go back.
We set two more baptismal dates with some of our progressing investigators...Sara and Jesse! They are both for the beginning of November.
So random, but we had dinner at a members house who is actually in the Stake Presidency. He is from Scotland and sounds JUST like Shrek. It is the coolest thing.
We had a Zone Meeting this past Friday. Sister Knutson and I had to teach a part of it. It went really well though! I love our zone. A bunch of crazy elders, but it is fun. Oh and we went to Chick Fil A after. Thought you would like to know dad :)
Now to Conference. It was amazing! Isn't conference always amazing though? On Saturday we watched it at the church both sessions and Sunday we watched it at the Sperry's. We had a little pre conference drama. Remember how in Nevada I was with our ward missionary who fell and we ran to the ER? Yeah we met a recent convert at the church and she fell too. I think I am just bad luck. We ran to the fire station cause it is right by the Stake Center, just like home, and got some bandages. Turns out she went to the ER later. I think I just make people fall.
Anyways, besides that it was drama free. I bet the age change just exploded on facebook and such. I was really shocked, just like the rest of the church haha.I am so pumped for the lower age because I know a lot more young women will go. I totally would've taken that opportunity if I had it. I had a cool little experience though. After they announced it, into the next talk I said a little prayer to myself about it and I felt two things. 1. A love for the youth who are preparing...weird right? But I just felt that I should keep them in my prayers as this increased missionary force goes out. 2. That I am supposed to be on my mission as a 21 year old. For a second I thought, darn I wish I could've gone earlier I would've gotten home a year ago! But then I felt that I am here for a reason. I am so grateful to be a missionary. I also get to say that I was the last of the oldies who came out! It definitely is exciting though. Heavenly Father is just preparing the world even more for the second coming!
I loved all of the talks. It seems like they talked a lot about repenting and becoming. I am excited to read the talks again and study them! It is cool when you listen as a missionary because you think of your investigators and what talks they need. We had 6 investigators watch conference. Pretty neat.
I loved thinking that you were watching it at the same time!! I missed you, but the Sperry's helped us feel at home on Sunday with good food :)
Well, I gotta get going. This will be another great week! Have a good week and know that I love you!!
Sister Magness
Pictures: Us with Stacy before she left and me with the Arkansas sign
P.S. Did you watch the press conference thing about the new missionary age? If not check it out. It was really interesting.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy Half Birthday

Dearest family,
Hello!! Happy October! Can you believe it is October already? It is starting to feel like fall here, and I like it. Your "autumn" package came just in time apparently. Thank you so much!! I loved it. And I am even wearing one of the sweaters you sent, so good timing with that. I also wished myself a happy half birthday in the subject line. Hope that's okay with you! The leaves haven't started to change yet. It still looks like summer here. Everyone says it is really beautiful when the fall colors come though, so I am excited for that!
So how was your week? I hope you have all been doing well. Thank you for your letters and emails. I sure am one lucky missionary. I know I seriously say this every week but I just feel so blessed with all the love and support I receive from everyone.
Oh, one more thing about the package. So the family we live with, I mentioned how they have five kids. They have figured out that when we get packages there has to be some good stuff in there. Last night they are like, can we come look at your stuff. They lucked out with a lot of candy and glow sticks (that was from the random package you sent when I first got here). They LOVED it. They had a "glow stick party" and were running around outside for a good hour. So, on behalf of the Sperry children, thanks for the glow sticks and candy.
This has been another good week. On Tuesday we volunteer at a place called Concordia. It is a care center for about 12 elderly people. We start off with a Bible study group. We just choose a verse to discuss with them. Last week this woman who came kept raising her hand and saying, "I don't need this, but keep going." Then she would raise her hand again and say, "I disagree, but keep going." She said that probably 8 times. It was just funny cause normally it takes 5 minutes to discuss but took a lot longer with that haha. She was friendly but I think she forgot everytime she told us to keep going. We also do exercises with them. By exercises I mean holding a pool noodle and raising our hands up. It's fun though. Then we serve them their lunch. We also play bingo with them. I get to call the numbers out. Oh how they love their bingo.
All the people we are teaching are doing really well. This area just still amazes me. We get referrals constantly and are just trying to keep up with the members here. Rex is doing great. We are so close to having him pray vocally with us. He is getting more comfortable each time we meet. It is cool to see his progression. We also are teaching a kid named Jesse (I think I mentioned him last week?). We taught the Plan of Salvation. It was amazing. He just soaked it all up and wants to know more and more. He offered the closing prayer and it was one of the most sincere, real prayers I have ever heard. Another cool experience this week was teaching a lesson to one of the couples who have been investigating for a while. We planned on teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, but she expressed a concern so it went a whole different direction. It was amazing to see the spirit work through us to teach to their needs. It turned out being nothing we prepared for, but it was what she needed. We also met a less active this week who is awesome. It was a miracle she let us visit with her, and she even said we could come back! Those are just a few of the blessings we have seen this week. Overall, teaching is going well!
We had a baptism on Friday!! It was very simple, but very great. He didn't want any talks, just the service and that's it. We tried to get him to have a longer program but he just said nope haha. So we didn't push more. It turned out great though! She has been a member, so now their goal is the temple. Can't wait till they get there :)
The Relief Society Broadcast made me even more excited for Conference. I cannot wait for conference this weekend!! We will watch it live with you too. We are just an hour ahead of Utah so it is a little later in the day...nothing wrong with that though! I loved the RS broadcast. It seems like they all focused on the Atonement and our Savior. I love the new presidency. We aren't sure if we will watch it with families or go to the depends where investigators are at. We already have 7 investigators who said they will watch it this weekend. How awesome is that? So happy conference weekend!! Eat some food in pajamas for me...I have to be all missionary dress during it, so have a moment for me.
We gave service this week. I tore down a fence with a sledgehammer...that's all I need to say about that. It was definitely not my thing. Oh what I am learning here.
Yesterday we were at the church building for....drum roll...10 hours! Is that like bishop status? Or do I still not know what that is like? Anyways, for me, it was rough. From 8 to 6 we were there. And in our family ward it was bring a friend to church sunday, so we were running around like crazy trying to meet all the new faces before they dodged us. We also taught Gospel Principles yesterday so it was busier than usual. It was our Primary Program yesterday too! Anywhere you are, all primary programs are so entertaining. They have a huge primary here. But, we survived church. We were exhausted at the end of the night, but it was a good day overall.
Well, we gotta make our weekly Walmart run but I sure love you. Thanks for everything!! Have a wonderful week. Know that I love you!
Much love from AR,
Sister Magness
A few from the baptism
A few with two of the kiddos enjoying the package treats :)