Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Another week in southeastern Ohio

P-day trip to the wilds....

Racing with the boys ... winner gets to share a scripture!
A pet fox!
 Hello family and friends!

Starting off right where I left off! Monday after emailing we had the mission activity. It was like 2 hours away. Past Columbus! Half the mission was there. We did all sorts of outdoor activities.... Soccer, frisbee, tug-of-war, three legged kickball, and lots of fun "Olympic" relay races. We had bandanas in colors of our district. We tied them around our heads. It stayed on really well which was great!...until I realized I didn't put on sunscreen. The bottom half of my forehead and the rest of my face was fried. Top half was white as usual.. Hahahaaa I looked so dumb for like 2 days!! So the activity was a blast. It was weird seeing missionaries in regular clothes... But it was good! The sports were all kinda awkward because you can get too competitive or kinda shove elders out of the way.. Bummer. And for frisbee, sister Blaser and I were the only sisters with like 40 elders...and we were on different teams. We each got it like twice but it was still fun. That was super stress relieving and fun!

The next super fun thing of the week happened over 2 different nights... Monday and Saturday. So both nights were on our bikes (as always) and were heading to someone's house. Monday, there were a bunch of kids just hangin out in the street with their bikes. One kid rode up to us as we were riding by and asked if we wanted to race. I said "YEAH! But we need to make a deal... If I win, I get to share a scripture." He was down because he thought for sure he was going to win. But he was wrong! We raced down the street and I won. So he came in and I shared a scripture. His mom came out and was worried that we were creeps so we went and talked to her too!! It was fun. Saturday night we were going back to visit an investigator and on the way, the kids are there again! This time there were more. They wanted a big group race. Same rules apply, if I win, I get to share a scripture. They were down. We lined up and went... I won again! Haha they wanted a redo, so we raced back. This time one of the kids won. He said, "okay can I borrow your scriptures? I don't have any." He wanted to share a scripture because he won!! I helped him find one and we had a nice discussion with all of us. We did it a few more times, taking turns borrowing my scriptures and talking about something cool. Some of the kids' parents were out watching us and we're really thankful that we were being nice to their kids! There's a little one that was on a scooter and was crying because he wasn't as fast. I raced just him and went into gear 1 and pedaled slowly so he'd win. He was so happy, and his parents were really thankful!! We planted a good seed in their hearts and are planning to get to know them better and teach them eventually. Yay!

We met this awesome lady one night who gave us a referral for one of her neighbors. We went and tied up outside their house was a cool pet... A fox!! What?! I'll send pictures. We went back a few times but
she never opened the door...

Another cool lady was this lady who recently moved here from Korea. She speaks almost no English. She is a former investigator and we thought we should stop by. Haha she's probably a former because she doesn't speak English.... We got to her house and she invited is in. She made is take off our shoes and put these weird slippers to come in. We were trying to talk to her when she looked at her leg and freaked out. I guess there was a mosquito or something? She freaked out, grabbed a can of raid and sprayed it everywhere. Then she got this weird lotion stuff that was like paint and covered her legs in it.. Then she had us put it on our legs too! Nasty. It felt like chalk.

We did some service this week! Every week we go to this food pantry and help people get food or organize donations. It's great. We mowed a recent converts lawn the other day. It took sooo long and it was so hot but we did it! It was Sister Blaser's first time mowing a lawn and she did awesome!

Friday was follow up training!! We got up early to head to Columbus. First thing, we were sent out to OSU campus to do some contacting. They challenged us to get as many new investigators (set up a return appointment) as possible. Sister Laidlaw and I were able to go out together! It was fun. We got quite a few potentials and one new investigator! I was pretty bummed that we only got one new investigator, but turns out we were the only ones... Out of the 26 new missionaries! Campus contacting is the best. Oh! Speaking of, school has started at OU! President Daines suggested that we spend some time contacting on campus. Yay!! We have lots of plans to be there often. We did lots of fun training activities to see how much we've grown. It was fun. One thing was what's called the baptism role play. You teach the restoration in 2 minutes using the word "baptism" in context as many times as you can. Sister Blaser and I got 32 on the first try. Way more than all the other sisters! And almost as many as the most elders. Wahoo! We also had interviews with President! He is so inspired. He gave me a few suggestions on things I had questions about and he suggested exactly what I needed!! He also told me that he and Sister Daines aren't worried about me or Sister Blaser at all. He says he's proud of what we've done, what we're doing, and what we're going to do! (No transfers please). Follow up training was a blast!

For pday we went to the wilds near Cumberland Ohio! It is the biggest conservation land in all of North America! We went on a fun safari and saw giraffes, zebras, ostriches, rhinos, and a lot more endangered
animals! It was so cool. Sister Adams in the ward took us! She's so nice and generous :) I'll be sending pictures of that! It took most the pday.. Hopefully we have time to email everyone we want to and go to the grocery store! If not, I apologize and God provides haha.

Well our progressing investigators are doing well! ... Lots of fun people :)

I hope everyone's having fun in school! I'm glad I'm not there

Next week is transfers so we will be emailing on Wednesday 🏻


Sister Barnes

Monday, August 22, 2016

Blessings on BLESSINGS!

Our district. We couldn't get a good smiling picture so we did this instead. And no, that's not my hand on Elder Hansen's shoulder......

Hello family, friends, and anyone else,

Another week has gone by already, what?! I honestly can't believe how fast time is flying by. People say the first few months on your mission go by suuuuper slow then the rest flies by. Well... If this is slow and it gets even faster, this will be over in no time! I really hope that's not the case though because I'm loving it and making the most out of every day- actually out of every situation!

This week was awesome. Our transfer goal was to work more with members. The bishop asked for us and the elders to strive to meet with every member of the ward before the transfer ends. This has been a big goal and I'm sad to admit that we didn't put into perspective how many people we needed to see the first few weeks, but we're picking up the pace and seeing BLESSINGS! I feel like we've been gaining the trust of the members and have been getting random referrals out of nowhere- we often don't even have to ask!! We're also getting members to do more work on their own. We've been discussing their "family mission plan" and setting short term goals that they can do soon. Even if it's as simple as praying for someone to reach out to. The members are awesome and super receptive to the idea, they're great. I'm excited to report on their experiences.. Of course we'll be following up! We're missionaries and that's what we do.

Miracles are everywhere. Sister Blaser and I budgeted for 4 Monday's this month... Not 5. So we're slightly short on MSF (I call it he missionary survival fund hahaha) but we're working with what we have and trusting in the Lord. As soon as we realized this, we've had people signing up to feed us and randomly calling us inviting us over for dinner. A less active lady we occasionally visit sent us home with a container full of soup that will last for a while. Isn't it amazing? The Lord provides when we're doing His work!! We didn't even have to beg for food. Everyone we've told this tender mercy to have told us to call if we ever even just get hungry and don't feel like making food. People are the best!!!!!!!!

Next miracle! So, we went on exchanges this week and it was AWESOME I love exchanges already. I was companions with Sister Lonnecker for a day. We did a lot of tracting which was new for me, we don't do a lot of that in Athens. We were also on bikes which as fun and normal for me. This was her first time riding her bike the whole year she's been on her mission, I can't believe it! It was way fun though. I told her about some fun ways to bike contact. When we tied up the bikes to do some tracting, we didn't think much of anything happening to them. When we got back and were riding away, Sister Lonnecker said "hey, how does my tire look?" And I said "uhh..off" because the tire get detached from the rest of the wheel. We took it to the side of the road and took a look (neither of us know much about bikes, but I said a quick prayer to know what to do.) we texted the other sisters and said "sos bike" I instantly thought of friends and my dad back home that told me a little about how bikes work over the years. I saw that the tube was too big for the wheel and had been folded over by a previous owner. We ended up taking the air out of and readjusting the tube and making sure it doesn't bulge out any more, shoving the tire back into the wheel frame (no idea what that's called but it's the metal part of the wheel and it kind of acts like a frame), and pumping the tube back up while holding the tire part in place and not out of place. We got it fixed in just a few minutes and were on our way. We sent another text to the other sisters and said "jk I'm a straight g(for genius)" lol we're hilarious. But I know there's no way we would've figured that out without the simple guidance from Heavenly Father!

I've been working really hard on asking inspired questions during lessons. I've had some success that led to great conversation! First, one of our investigators was having a hard time understanding why our church is the only true church. He was talking about his life and everything going on when the spirit prompted me to ask him if he's happy. So I did! It was a simple question that opened him up and we were able to better discern his needs. It was awesome! Another experience with this was on exchanges. We were teaching a less active girl who was not opening up at all. I was inspired to ask the simple question if she'd ever gone to the temple. She immediately opened up and we were able to find some concerns and help address them. It was awesome! The Lord works in simple and inspired ways.

I had a really cool study on humility this week. I've had the goal for a little while to increase my confidence when I'm talking to people. Our District Leader, Elder Peterson, challenged us to do the activity on page 123 of Preach My Gospel. I did it on humility and found some really cool things that are going to help me a lot! I realized I don't necessarily have to increase my confidence in myself, I can increase my faith and confidence in the Lord and I'll just be able to get out of the way of His work progressing. I realized I can increase my humility by getting rid of my pride. The Spirit made the things very clear that I'm being prideful about. And I also received some insights on how I can get rid of those prideful thoughts and behaviors. They are super simple things that will get me closer to Christ. I'm excited to continue to exercise faith and do what it says in Jacob 2:26 "O that he would rid you from this iniquity and abomination. And, O that ye would listen unto the word of his commands, and let not this pride of your hearts destroy your souls!"

I love Athens, Sister Blaser, the ward members, the less actives we're meeting with, the investigators that are teaching me so much, the funny people we talk to on the street, and basically everything. The only exception is the vicious mosquitos. But hey, no area can be perfect so Athens needs some sort of fault! The college students are coming back to start school tomorrow! We're excited to hit that place up here pretty soon when things settle down. Good luck to everyone who recently started school or are starting real soon!! I can't say I'm jealous at all.

I'm emailing SO early today because we have a mission activity somewhere pretty far away. I'm so excited! It sounds like it'll be tons of fun.

I love the work!! Thanks to everyone for all the awesome support.

Sister Barnes

PS invite the missionaries in your area over for dinner or bring them lunch/snacks. They will love you and you'll be blessed. I promise ;).

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

I Can Ride My Bike with No Handlebars

We cleaned our car for hours and it paid off - clean car award!
After our 22 mile bike day - brownies and watermelon!
Here's one from one of our biking breaks (excuse the apostate knee!)

Hey family and friends,
Wow it's been such a great week. It FLEW by. I don't know where to start. The work here is rolling. Literally. We biked over 50 miles in 3 days (in skirts. Lol people look at us like we are insane hahahaha). From those thousands of miles and hours on bike we have gotten pretty good at riding with no handlebars. I can even go around turns and stuff!!

Well we have met so many awesome people:
We met this one guy. He's an OU student and is funny. He basically asked us both on a date for the next appointment. Haha check the "get asked out on a date" off the mission bucket list. 

There was this older guy on the bike path. He knew a lot about our church and ended up being an anti. Hahaha check the "talk about church with an anti" off the list too. He was impressed that we could reference the bible! But we didn't talk to him too much. 

I'll talk about some more with another story. This week we've been very conservative with our miles so we have been biking everywhere possible. We biked about 50 miles over 3 days. We are physically exhausted but spiritually full. There are so many people to contact on the Athens bike path! On Saturday we made the goal to teach 17 other quality lessons and get contact info for each of them. It's kind of hard to stop people racing down the bike path, but we asked people for suggestions and came up with some fun ways. We found that if you hold out a pass along card and say "hey, take our card!" They'll usually say something like "wait what?" And stop their bikes. At that point we can talk to them, teach a lesson, promise blessings, testify, and get contact info. It was very successful! 
We biked about 10 miles away to contact a referral and tried to get everyone we passed to stop and talk to us. It took a lot longer than we thought to get to the referral, and we had about an hour to get back to our town for a lesson. I prayed that we'd have the energy and endurance we needed to make it back in time. The sun seemed to blaze harder and he humidity seemed to get thicker, but we peddled harder. We talked to everyone we passed and made it to the location for our appointment with just a few minutes to spare. We can do anything if we trust in God! We were also able to get our 17 lessons and quite a few promising potentials and new investigators. I know that if we trust in God and do everything we possibly can, he will make up for the rest and help us accomplish the goals we set. No matter how crazy or far out they may be! 

So some funny contacts from the card hand offs:
One guy is a college student and I said "hey take this card!" And he said "who's is it?" And we said "yours!!" It was awesome. He stopped his bike, we taught a lesson, got his info, and called today (like 2 days later) and set up an appointment. He watched the video we told him to so he is now a progressing investigator! He's awesome. 

Another guy is also in college. He was in a super rush but sister Blaser got out her cards just in time.... To give him the whole stack. He said "I don't need all of these!" And stopped his bike. We were able to talk to him for a bit! He promised to call us back (hasn't yet, but we're hopeful.)

Yeah people are just the coolest! 

We met another guy. He moved to the US about 4 years ago from Nigeria. He has a sick accent and story of how he got here. We were in the local laundry place waiting for someone to show up to an appointment. She didn't come but we were able to have a nice discussion with him. We're going to meet with him soon!

The next guy is way cool. We met him on his way back from the store. We had an awesome discussion with him when we went back to his house to talk. He's super open to the church and is coming on Sunday yay!

Last one, a lady just moved here with her family and has been looking for a good church to go to with her kids! She was super touched by our message and invited us back for later this week. She was chocking up like she's been waiting for something like this to happen. Yay! She asked if we go to apartments and we said we can! And she gave us a bunch of names of friends and family she wants us to see. (CHA-CHING). We love her!!

Our investigator I told you about last week is still awesome! We haven't got to meet with him because he's been super super busy with football, but we've been emailing him! He's been reading his Book of Mormon and is excited to meet with us more. 

Hm yeah that's about it for people this week!

Besides meeting with them and riding bikes all over, not a ton happened! We had zone conference and it was awesome! I love zone conference. Talk to you all later! Love you lots. 
Sister Barnes

Monday, August 8, 2016

Sounds like a Stan, plan!

 Hey guys!

Hope your week was as great as mine was! I absolutely love the work. I am learning (not even a hard challenge for the most part) to love the people. My companion, the active members, the less active members, and the progressing, other, new, potential, and dropped investigators. Basically I just love everyone it's wonderful. Athens is great. This area is super...I don't know what to call it, diverse maybe? We have OU campus in our area that we get to go to sometimes. There are lots of super funny students there. We have the normal people that live in Athens or The Plains or other small towns. There's the people that have farms and are kind of red necks. There are some professors that teach at OU. There are old people, young people, and a little in between. It's fun!! I love the variety.

Even though we had a few pretty great investigators drop us this week, we still had a great time. I've learned what it feels like to be "devastated," as President Holland says in Preach My Gospel, when investigators don't read the Book of Mormon or follow through with commitments. As devastating as it is, it's not really disappointing. I know that we each have our agency. As long as I'm being exactly obedient and "being down" to follow the Spirit, we can do all things through Christ. Sister Blaser and I decided that we're more than just willing to follow the Spirit. We feel like being willing can sometimes be kind of grudgingly accepting the will of the Father, but being "down" is just absolutely going with the flow of the Spirit. Whenever a prompting tells us to do something, we don't doubt it. We know that the Lord knows WAY better than us, so we trust Him. In turn, I think He is beginning to trust us more on the daily. I love the Godhead, they're the coolest.

Okay something that stood out to me this week! We got an urgent call from President Daines. He gave us a referral that didn't have much time to sit around. When we got the referral, we were checking our plans to see when we would take the miles to get out to Shawnee (about 25 miles away. Miles are hard to deal with because we're suuuper tight. Most are used for meetings in Columbus to see her. We checked our plans for the next day and there, in our plans, was her street. In Shawnee! There is no way that wasn't inspired during weekly planning. We've already accounted for those miles which is a major blessing. We got a hold of her and found out she was baptized into the church a while ago but fell away soon after...but she is really interested in getting some help to come back. We rearranged our schedules a little bit to visit next week when she'll be home. Yay! I'm very thankful for the testimony building experience that makes me so thankful for weekly planning. I'm glad I got this testimony early on, because I've heard that there is a tendency for some missionaries in our mission to not love weekly planning as much as they should.

I am adjusting great! Sister Blaser has given me some wonderful suggestions that I'm applying and already seeing a difference. The hardest adjustment this far has been staying awake during personal study. Sister Blaser has been helping me find ways to do this. A goal to try for this week is making a schedule, with times and everything specific that I want to study, and having it ready for the hour of personal study. I'm confident that this will help a lot! I did it this morning and it made my studies way more meaningful.

This week we had a kind of emergency meeting. We were told on Tuesday and had to go super far on Friday. That stretched our miles a lot lot lot but the meeting was so cool, I learned so much. It was a safeguard training meeting. The whole mission was doing it. It's for the technology stuff we have and the "safeguards" we have to not abide it. It inspired me throughout the rest of my safeguard training (we work on during comp study) and getting my plans (I made a "if I get tempted to abuse my iPad" plan) created. I'm excited to have something ready to help me get away from temptation. Both Sister Blaser and I took some simple teachings from the conference and took the topics deeper and have been applying them to our missionary life and have been thinking about how we will apply them at home after our missions (long way for me, not thinking about that one too hard!!)

Anyway, it's been a great week. I've seen many tender mercies and miracles. I absolutely love the work so far. I can't believe I've been away from my family for over a month... Time flies when you're serving the Lord!

One of our (now former, he dropped us cause he doesn't like established religion) investigators is hilarious. I think I told you about him last week. Just a normal campus hippie at OU. He loves the connection he has with our church for 2 reasons: 1, he loves spiritual connection he can make. He loves to meditate (by picturing God, Jesus, Buddah, or whoever he feels like). He tried to tell us how to do it. So you have to sit down and relax and try to get rid of all your thoughts. You then say "infinite creator, move through me." Then he says he pictures any of those people (God, Buddah, etc) in gold lights. Soon all your thoughts are supposed to go away and you feel the 'infinite creator' move through you...but we tried and it didn't work lol. 2, he loves the idea of the priesthood. He says he has the same power... To heal people and bless them and stuff. Hahahahahaha he said he can take a bad thought and grab it and throw it away. Or take the sickness from someone's stomach and throw it
away. Hahaha he's so funny.... We tried to help him understand. Later in the lesson we gave him a picture of Christ. The one where he's coming out of the tomb and one hand is extended. He saw it, took a deep breath, and said "i love this picture. Because that's what I do!" Haha I guess he holds his hand open like that to get power to heal and bless others lol. But yeah, he says he believes in Joseph Smith (when I recited the first vision, he closed his eyes and put his hand on his stomach, afterwards he said he absolutely knew it was true. He says things like that can happen to him sometimes) and believes that the Book of Mormon is true. but he doesn't really like established religion. He thinks God is just in everything. We did all we could... Maybe if he meditates to God or something he'll feel the Holy Ghost prompting him to talk to us again. Hahaha but if nothing, we got some great memories and funny things to say all the time. Like the subject line! He sent that in a text once confirming a lesson haha.

K next investigator. He is cool, the other sisters contacted him a week before I came when they were on campus one day. We taught him the first lesson one day. I needed to extend hard baptism (the one with a date) by that day to complete the challenge president Daines gave us the first day. So I did! He accepted for September 3. Might be soon with some of his concerns.... He kind of has a boyfriend... And is living with him... Ha...But after the first lesson he came to church (nails freshly painted bright pink ah) and loved it! We realized he's in the elders area (Athens is split all funky) and referred him to them. Haha good luck elders, that's all.

We now have a super awesome progressing investigator. He's a junior in high school and knows lots of the young women in our ward. We brought one of them along and taught the restoration. He was so receptive and understanding and we really think he's excited to learn more.

That's about it... I love the weather! We try to bike everywhere we can to save on miles so we spend a lot of time outside. The ward is great. Our ward mission leader, Brother Baker, lives on a farm out pretty far in the country. They own over 100 acres of land and have goats, horses, ducks, chickens, roosters, dogs, and I don't even know just lots of animals. They had us over for dinner yesterday and it was so good, then we all sang some songs to his guitar after. Haha it was fun, people are talented out here (maybe just his family but idk). Everyone, seriously EVERYONE has either a cat or dog or both or quite a few of one or the other or both.. So many animals everywhere... I always pet the dogs while we talk to people
😀😀 I like dogs I decided. Maybe never want one (neighbors dog always poops right outside our place), but I'll pet other people's.

I love you all! Thanks for the encouraging emails.

Sister Barnes

Monday, August 1, 2016

Love Everything

Hey family and friends!!!
My last week at the MTC was awesome. I learned so much! I told you a little about it when I called but it was just great. I was definitely ready to move on after the New Mexico missionaries left on Monday, but we still learned so much and had some awesome smaller group things with our wonderful teachers. Ah I love love love our teachers!! I learned so much from them.
Traveling was great! We had a lot of fun and made it quick and safe. All 26 of us :). I told you a little about the Daines, they are great. Super fun and friendly but also very obedient and wants us all to be obedient. It's perfect!! I love Ohio and the humidity (I know it's weird but I love love love the humidity. It's great for my hair and skin and nails too woot woot!)

We went straight to the OSU campus and did some tracting. I placed a Book of Mormon wahoo!! We spent a night at the mission home, Sister Laidlaw and I slept in the "general authority room" which is where they have general authorities stay when they come. It was way nicer than the MTC ;).
The next morning we got up, did some more mission home stuff, then went to the church by the temple (the temple is baby but beautiful ah I love it). We did more training stuff! I got to see Remi Nelson and gave her a big hug. That was way fun. Then I met my trainer, Sister Nicole Blaser. She's from Mesa AZ and is so awesome. We get along great and both just really want to work hard and be obedient. It's great! She's been out for 8 months and this is her second time training. Yay! We're in Athens. Basically as far south and east as you can go in our mission. It's great, the area is all of Athens county and we cover the top half, elders on bottom. The ward is super fun and open and loving, reminds me of the ward back home! We live in The Plains, a small town outside of Athens. Our apartment address is
36 Poston Rd.
Apt 49
The Plains, OH 45780
anyone can send mail, just make sure it's not around transfer time. You're welcome to see if you can see it on google maps. Our apartment is nice. Just enough space for us and everything we need. And a washer and dryer yay! We have a car to drive most places but we want to ride our bikes a lot more. There are lots of contacting opportunities lost if we just drive. We live close to the church which is nice, that's where we go for wifi :). There are so many bugs here. We got eaten alive the first night. We've been smarter about bug spray so don't worry. It reminds me a lot of Nauvoo here. Everything is just more spread out and it's way green. Love it.

The area is great. I love the members and all the people! Everyone is so friendly and open to talk with us. One night we were tracting at an apartment complex after we visited somebody in our area book. Oh really quickly, as we were tracting that complex we found a less active family that are so inactive they haven't even transferred their records to Athens. They were putting kids to bed but want us to come back. We're planning on going back soon! We met a lot of people that night and it was almost time to head home. We had like 3 minutes when I saw a tow truck on the other side of the parking lot. It had just started raining but we weren't going to give up yet. We ran over to the truck and the driver was happy to talk with us. He was impressed with our determination and knew we had something important to share. He travels a lot and is rarely home, but we got his phone number to figure something out. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he was very excited to read it. I extended soft baptism and he isn't sure yet, but he really is considering it and wants to know more. Before we left, he told us he was having a tough day and we were angels sent from God. This was a true manifestation that the Spirit prepares both us and others to be in the right place at the right time and saying the right things. Tender mercies everywhere!

Saturday we went tracting on OU campus. There shouldn't have been many people, but thanks to Pokemon Go there were people ALL OVER! I have no idea what that game is but I love it because people are always out and walking around. We talked to a lot of people, taught quite a few lessons, and got a bunch of potential investigators. It was wonderful! We met a guy that is the basic campus hippie and says he's "spiritual" but looking for the truth. We talked with him a while about lots of things and invited him to church. And guess what... He came!!! We were so surprised and excited. He really liked it but wasn't able to stay the full time. He's meeting with us this week and will probably come to church again on Sunday! He's so cool.

Sister Blaser is wonderful. We don't settle for anything less than exact obedience. We are both super determined to pick up on the work here in Athens! I'm excited to tell you more about our work as it goes on.

Sounds like everyone had a good week this week and last in California! Congrats Sarah on getting your permit, that's awesome. Hm so much happened but I can't even think of it. I just love being here in Ohio! I still don't really feel like a real missionary. I thought it would hit but it still hasn't, oh well. Well, if you have any more questions let me know! Can't believe I'll hit my 1 month mark this week ;)
Much love! 
Sister Barnes