Monday, September 26, 2016

Love Athens!

On the way home from a lesson in Stewart.

Hey fam and friends!

This week was great.

Let me update you on M. (the late Baptist preacher's grandson). He is so great. We really feel so blessed, almost inadequate, to be teaching and learning with such a prepared child of God! This week we have been in frequent contact. Whether it's just a call or a lesson, we get to talk daily. Yay daily contact!! His lessons have been great. He absolutely believes all of the things we teach and has great experiences to share about praying about their truths. He really loved the plan of salvation and connected really well. He has loved ones who have passed on and he knew they were somewhere waiting for and supporting him. We were able to teach him the word of wisdom. He has a problem with smoking. He smokes about a half a pack a day. He sees the blessings and warnings that come with living and not living the word of wisdom. He is striving to cut back his cigarette usage by setting numerical goals (gradually getting to zero), praying for strength, and calling us every night to report. During that whole lesson we were outside his house (he lives in the woods next to his dad's house in a mobile home). We could only find 2 yard chairs so I sat on this old pool ladder. It was kinda broken but it worked... My legs and butt were numb by the end haha the things I do for missionary work... But Today was his first full day and he is having a tough time. Satan is really working on him, but he is determined not to give up! We have enough faith in him. and he has enough faith in himself. He will get over his addiction! Keep him in your prayers please :).

We also had a super awesome experience with a returning part member family. Their nonmember son lives in the apartment below them and comes by their place every so often. We got talking with him and he really opened up to us. He was able to share some challenges in his life and we were able to help him feel the spirit to know that he needs to come to church and work toward baptism. We've been in frequent contact with him and he is looking awesome. His faith is awesome and will only continue to grow! I think his phone is messed up or he's just hilarious.. Every text is all caps and he says the funniest things. He is awesome. He's getting baptized.

We got a referral this week from a member who met her in Chicago. We are so excited to meet with her this week. We have a lesson with her in a few days, but we got to talk with her on the phone for a bit. We've been texting the guy who referred her and he says "baptize her, she's golden." We're pretty sure she's an OU student. So pumped!

We've done a little tracting this week! It's been so fun. Not many people were rude to us, and a few even want us to come back! I love missionary work. Service is great too! We've been doing tons of random service things. This week we helped brush this lady's horses. Pretty cool. I also loved Women's Conference. President Uchtdorf's message was awesome. I love learning more about faith and being reminded of ways I can increase my faith even more. If you haven't watched it, watch it!!

I hope everyone has a great week! I can't believe it'll be October this weekend. AND GENERAL CONFERENCE, WATCH IT!
Love you, bye!
Sister Barnes

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Miracles All Over the Place!

Columbus Temple
Nightgowns on exchanges - acting out what nightgowns look like
With Sis Johnson on exchanges in Pickerington
With Sis Blaser on Hartman Hill - the driveway of people who basically own The Plains
Hey family!

It's been another great week down here in Athens.

I'll start right where I left off.. The temple! Holy moly the temple is so little and so so pretty. I love it! We were able to do a session and sit in the celestial room for a while. Our zone was there so it was fun to see people I kinda know. I love the temple and being able to feel so much peace and feel so close to Heavenly Father!

We have seen miracles all over the place! I'll start by telling you about one of our investigators, M. We met him a few weeks ago outside of Piggly Wiggly (the grocery store he works at). It was our pday and we were striving to talk with everyone, so we talked to one of the workers who just got off work! We talked a little about God, the restoration, and the Book of Mormon. We asked if we could get him a copy. We weren't sure about his interest, but we gave him a fair shot! We called him the next day to set up a time to give him the Book of Mormon, and he was actually excited! We met up the next day and gave him his copy, inviting him to read from it and pray about the truthfulness. We put him on date for baptism during that lesson! He expressed the desire he has to be baptized. We also scheduled a lesson and chapel tour at the church for a few days later. He was a little uneasy at first, because his grandpa was a Baptist preacher and when he was alive a number of years ago, he warned about going to corrupt churches. He didn't want to go against his grandpa, but he felt okay about the lesson. We had a great time at the church and had a good lesson. We were able to discover more concerns about attending our church. He offered the closing prayer and asked God for strength to come to church the next day. Sunday morning rolled around and guess who came to church... Yep!! He told us about an amazing experience he had the night before. He was asleep when his grandpa came to him in his dream. He told him that he needs to come to our church! So he didn't hesitate and knows he needs to be here. M. had a good experience at church and met a lot of awesome members! We will have a few lessons with him this week to continue to prepare him for baptism on October 15th. I know that his grandpa is in the spirit world and has heard about the gospel. I know that he told M. to come to church so M. can become a member and eventually do the work for his grandpa! I love the gospel and the wonderful blessings it brings-on this side of the veil and the other!

Another awesome person this week is D. (the cool black guy that used to be in prison but turned his life around...). We were able to teach him and his family-cute wife and 3 adorable kids- on Saturday! They're so cool. They're a little bit slower than some people, but they'll come around eventually!
And, mountain man came to church!! We were so excited because he's the most stubborn kind of investigator we have.

Those are the highlights, haha I don't feel like saying a ton more. We got to help with a bunch more service projects and it was great! We've been on campus a few times and had fun experiences there. We also went on exchanges this week, I went to Pickerington. I was with Sister Johnson this time. No super crazy stories from it but I had a blast! I learned a lot from her. She's almost done with her mission and is basically a pro. Oh and she went to Westridge for a while. She's a year older but I never knew her. She's cool.

Yep, that's about it! Not a ton of insane stuff has happened since Wednesday. Thanks for all the emails.
Love you all!
Sister Barnes

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Leaves are Starting to Change!

Road trip to the Columbus Temple
Our awesome district
Hello everyone!

It's been a great week. I'm so happy to be in Athens for at least another transfer!

We've done a ton of random stuff this week. So much service for so many random people, it's great! We really get to know and love people as we serve them. I don't really remember what else happened so I'll just start talking about people.

We've had to drop a lot of people... Here we go:

So we had to drop our investigator with a baptismal date. We were so sad, but we've prayed about it and it's the right thing. We feel confident that we've done everything we can to help him, it just isn't the right time I guess.

We also dropped the guy that thought the Sabbath should be on Saturday. He was very upset and arguing when we were trying to address his concerns. We didn't want to bash so we basically just said bye and left.

Okay I know we dropped more but I can't remember. Here are the people we're working with the most:

The guy that used to be in prison! He's still cool. We haven't had a lesson with him since last time, but we're working on rescheduling. He's probably the most promising right now.

Another investigator is an ex- Jehovah's Witness and basically hates them. She has awesome faith and really wants a church that will help, love, and accept her. She had worked with missionaries before but she said they were way too pushy. So we will need to be patient with her.

Then there's our maintenance man! He was asking a less active in our apartments a bunch of questions about us and the less active (one of our old man buddies we're working with) just gave him our number to ask us himself. We've been talking with him and he believes the church is true! There are issues with the landlord getting mad at him for talking to us, so it's kind of a slow process but he's awesome! We say curiosity BAPTIZED the cat.

Wow yep that's about it. We were kind of getting down about the promising people that didn't work out, then got super pumped to work even harder to find people who are ready. We had a meeting with our bishop and he said there are 80,000 people in Athens county. He says 1,000 of them are ready to receive the Gospel. He promised the way we will find them is through the members. we're working with members a lot this transfer! But this time, we are supposed to meet with them ALL by next Thursday and set goals with them. We're not sure how this is all going to work out or how soon we'll find people through the members, but we are trusting in our leadership!

Lots of funny things have happened this week. Here we go:

One evening we were contacting a referral. We still don't know where the referral came from but we were excited to get one! The GPS took us wayyy out to this street that was in the boonies. The address took us to this plot of land that had a ton of scary campers. We didn't know which was his so we started knocking on all of them. Nobody answered, until we got to him! He was obviously drunk and was confused at how we found him. He says he's never even heard of missionaries or the Book of Mormon or anything we told him about. He told us to leave so we were about to go. We went to shake his hand and he kissed our hands. We were both like uhh AHH and kinda ran away after. We're glad we didn't die. We said if our moms knew where we were they would freak out.. Haha sorry mom! The funniest thing is earlier that morning in my studies I read in Mosiah 13:3... "Touch me not, for God shall smite you if ye lay your hands upon me, for I have not delivered the message which the Lord sent me to deliver; neither have I told you that which ye requested that I should tell; therefore, God will not suffer that I shall be destroyed at this time." Hahaha we died laughing after we remembered that. Studies are inspired!

Next funny thing. So our zone focus this month is extending baptism. Sister Blaser and I were trying to figure out the easiest way to extend baptism to as many people as possible. We decided it's easier to extend when you've talked about it a little bit. So we made the goal to mention baptism in every contact! It's often a stretch but it's cool. One day on campus we were doing this as we talked to everyone. One guy said he's going to school to become some sort of teacher. I said "Jesus was a teacher! He was perfect.. He was even baptized!" We got a weird look and the dude left. Haha. Another guy was kinda dancing down the street (he was high probably) and came up to us and said "are you guys friends with Jesus or something?" We kinda laughed and said basically.

That's about it! We've been kind of bound up in the Athens juggle struggle... We love the variety that's here, but it makes timing really hard. There are so many people that want us to serve them, but we can only do that during the day. ..which is the best time to be on campus. Then the best time to follow up with all the people we've met on campus is after dinner.. Which is the best time to be out and finding in The Plains. AND we need to see all the members. Which is usually during the evenings too. So yeah we love the variety but it makes it tough! Praying for ways to balance everything out and be where we need to be!

We get to go to the temple today! We are on our way right now. I'm stoked.

I hope everyone's having a good time at home! Good luck to everyone who have midterms and stuff... I'm not missing that one bit.

Love you all!
Sister Barnes

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Adventures of Paul and Silas

Hello everyone!
It's been quite the week and a half. Haha so many ups and things that should be downs, but we make them ups! Thankfully no sides.... You'll understand soon. 

I'll start with transfer news. Sister Blaser and I are both staying in Athens! We are so excited. Haha not surprised though. Everyone we asked before we knew agreed that we'd be here at least another transfer... Our whole district, the ward mission leader, our sister training leaders, our bishop, even some random members and investigators we visit. Yay!

So, last week on Wednesday we were on our way to the zone training meeting in Lancaster, about 40 miles away. About 10 miles into the trip we were going around a corner on the 2 lane highway and BAM in the middle of the road was a huge chunk of tire. There was somebody to our right so we couldn't go right. Sister Blaser's instincts kicked in and she swerved to the left right before we hit the tire. Our car lost control and swerved all over the place. We eventually hit the middle railing on the highway. It was scary but everyone was fine! We got out of the car to see the damage. Barely even a dent... What!? We pulled out our "what to do if you have an accident" envelope and followed the steps. A highway patrol guy was there to move the tire and came and checked on us. He didn't believe us when we said we hit the middle railing. He said if we "actually" hit the railing the whole side of the car should've been ripped off. We told him about our missionary service and informed him that Angels were watching out for us. You better believe we made it into a quick lesson!! Once we got everything figured out we left for the meeting and were only 20 minutes late! We have to go to an auto body shop to get it fixed but it's not a huge problem at all. Thanks for everyone who's praying for our safety and protection! There's proof that we're being watched over. (Haha that was the part where "thankfully no sides" fits in because he said we also could've easily rolled the car.. Ah)

Okay now for another story. Hahahaaa this one still makes me laugh. So we were in this neighborhood talking to a (now progressing) investigator (I'll talk about him later). When we decided to stop by another investigator's house to see how his scripture reading is going. It was like 8 pm so it was dark. We didn't know if he'd be home so we parked outside and started updating our iPad area books. All the lights in his house were out so we figured nobody was home. Sister Blaser kept the car running and I suggested to turn off the lights so we don't look creepy. She said it would be fine. A little later I suggested it again, or to turn the car off so we don't waste gas and stuff, but mostly not to be creepy. She said it was fine again. Then a little while later I said we should just go somewhere else, this is really creepy!! She said nah and we stayed there. Car running and lights on outside his house. Next thing we know we see 3 people walking toward us... Guess who? Our investigator and his parents. Sister Blaser said "quick, duck" thinking we wouldn't be seen. So we did but I think it made it even worse.  His dad came up to the car... She told me to stay ducked so I did. He came up to the window and asked if he could help us. She said no, it's okay. We know the people across the street and are just updating our iPads! (No lie.) He was confused but was like oh okay whatever. (Side note:we've never actually met his parents. They've either been in a different room or we've been on campus or somewhere else.) As soon as he left we drove away. Haha so creepy huh? We were dying because we went to the library to get wifi to sync our iPads and we noticed an email from the guy from earlier that day... He said he didn't want to become a Mormon and basically email dumped us. Haha so imagine how bad and creepy that would've been if he saw us!! Ahhh hahaha reminds me of things that probably happened to me at home. Moral of the story: listen to your companion

Miracles are everywhere! As we plan or glance through the area book, sometimes people's names stick out or a random name comes to mind. We always call them and time after time they're always in need of us at THAT moment. Gods timing is pretty cool. 

Okay time for people!
He's funny, he said the only thing between him and becoming a member is the fact that we worship on Sunday's, not Saturday's. He says that Saturday's are the 7th day and everyone should worship on that day. He wanted us to find evidence that we should worship on Sunday. Not Saturday. So we did! In the gospel principles handbook there is a great section on sabbath day stuff. It answers perfectly! Go Acts 20. He didn't come to church like he said he would, but we're going to see him hopefully tonight to help him understand the sabbath day on Sunday thing. 

We have an investigator with a baptismal date! October 8th. He was a former investigator but was dropped because his family was giving him too much negative pressure and he didn't want to disobey. This time around though he's super excited and knows that this is true. We took him on a chapel tour with a family and taught a lesson all together. The spirit was so strong and he realized this is where he needs to be! Hopefully his family and Satan can get off his back. We have faith!

Another investigator has a wife that is a less active member but he's not a member at all. They're in their like 60s probably and are some of the funniest people. They live way out in the woods and he loves wood working. Like he built his whole house and almost every piece of furniture in it. He made us cool bookmarks and hair bows out of wood. And wants us to come back sometime to learn how and help him finish some projects! He has had missionaries over for like 30 years and he knows everything about the gospel. He even knows that he needs to be baptized but he just won't do it. We think there's some issues with his faith, but we're going to work on figuring out his real concerns and why he won't do it. We've been there 3 times in the last week and a half and oh man, they love us. Mountain Man (that's what he calls himself) has a bad reputation for getting angry at missionaries whenever they try to get him to do things, especially get baptized or come to church. I didn't know this. Until after I invited him to church and talked about baptism with him. Amazing news... He didn't get mad, not at all! He asked that I come back for his baptism if he ever get baptized. I told him I'd be there WHEN it happens because it's happening before I leave this area. He didn't deny it and just kept talking about a different subject... I am going to get him baptized, be ready. We told the elders about that and they were in shock. His history doesn't contain anything like that. Yay! I know I was sent here for certain people. Maybe this is one

Another investigator - suuuper cool guy that used to be in prison but has turned to God and completely changed his life around. He has a cute wife and cute kids in this cute house in Nelsonville. He was a referral from some elders in our district! He rear ended them and they sent his info our way. We've taught him a few times and he is so cool. He is very knowledgeable of the bible and God and now loves the Book of Mormon and is truly trying to find out if this is true. He wants it to be! He reads way more than we ask and does research things he read to make sure he understands it right. He's great. He told Sister Blaser and I that we are basically Paul and Silas from the bible. He is stoked out of his mind that 2 young people, especially females, would devote time from their lives to give back to the Lord to help others gain the knowledge of the gospel. Woot woot! Plus he always texts back so that's like a big blessing!!

Okay that's about it for people and this week! We super deep cleaned our apartment for the end of transfers and it's beautiful. I'm so excited to be staying here in Athens at least 6 more weeks! Oh also I hit my 2 month mark yesterday. Time's flying by!!

Love from Ohio,
Sister Barnes

PS send letters right to my apartment until close to Oct 20th(next transfers)
36 Poston Road
Apartment 49
The Plains, OH 45780