Week 4: Baptism & People of Ava, MO

Dear Family and Friends,

I can’t believe that it’s already been a month!! Time goes by so fast! (I guess I’ve only been in Ava for two weeks but it seems like forever. Things are going great and we’re still searching for people to teach. We are looking for a family to teach. We are praying everyday that the members will give us referrals. We have been looking through formers who have been dropped previously to see if they are interested in taking the discussions again. The problem that we have been facing, which is why we got shotgunned, is that the sisters before us would just go visit less actives and recent converts almost every day. They didn’t have any investigators that they were working with except for Kevin, who just got baptized on Saturday so we don’t have anyone to work with. It’s a little frustrating because when they did have investigators they didn’t commit them to anything, so they were just teaching them lessons with no purpose and not focusing on baptism. We are starting to turn it around though. We had our first baptism this Saturday for Kevin. I gave the talk on the Holy Ghost and it was such a great experience to see someone so ready and excited to be baptized.
I am now going to talk about the people of Ava so you can kind of get a feel for the people here. They are soooo different from anyone else in the world! So the people here are sooo friendly. It reminds me of our ward at home. Everyone talks to everyone and is so nice. But everyone has their own little quirks. So the first day we got to Ava we went around with Sister Shults (everyone has interesting names as well) and she is an herbalist so she loves plants and everything natural, so eating at her house is always interesting, but super healthy, you never know what to expect when we eat at her house. She is friends with everyone. She has one really close friend, who’s in our ward as well, who is an herbalist too but she makes a lot of salves. We have a saying now.. “There’s a salve for that”. She literally has a salve for everything. She talks a lot about herbs and is basically a walking encyclopedia. Sister Shults has another friend who is an energy healer, she’s not a member, she says that she can feel other people’s pain and locate it so that she can use her energy and natures energy to heal it. And she has a daughter who says she talks to spirits and faeries, pixies and brownies. Don’t worry the list goes on. We have another member who says that he talks to tornadoes, he scares them away. He stands in front of them and orders them to go away so they won’t come into town. And he’s totally serious about it too! We have another guy who is on his way to being baptized who is super funny and thinks about the church and religion in his own way. It’s really interesting the way he thinks, he is a Levite and he says it all the time, he repeats it about every 5 minutes. Which I didn’t know what that meant at the time and I looked it up in the Bible dictionary but it’s kinda vague so if anyone wants to research that for me and give me a short definition that would be awesome. haha Also we went to an investigator’s home who was from Germany, I guess she got out of Germany and went to Poland to be safe and the Russian Government is still looking for her. She is really sweet and so funny, but she says that she sees ghosts in her house and they had a message for her but wouldn’t tell us what it was. She smokes but she says she wants to stop so we are hoping that she’ll actually start trying to stop. She reads the Book of Mormon and she says she knows it’s true and she knows Joseph Smith is a prophet she just has a couple of things to work through, and she’s afraid of water, so we’re going to work with her on that. We hope she’ll progress. She’s actually come to church a couple of times and had a positive experience so  that’s a step in the right direction.
That’s just a taste of what the people are like in Ava, there are a lot of strange people here and it’s such a culture shock! But we love the people of Ava!
I got my first real rejection last night. We were teaching a couple who got married about a year ago and they have a one week old baby. They are inactive. We were teaching them about families and why they’re important we were talking about prayer and scripture study and we asked them if they prayed or read as a couple and they said no. We asked them why it was important to pray and they gave a great answer. We asked them if they had any desire to pray and they said no. We didn’t really know what to do since we can’t force them to have that desire and until they do there’s not much that we can do except love them and pray for them.
We were eating dinner one night at a Mexican restaurant that had just reopened and our server was a really nice Mexican and we talked to him a little bit about church and gave him a pass along card, but he only spoke Spanish and we could tell he was interested. (When we gave him the card it had the Salt Lake Temple on it and he asked if it was in Paris, and we said it was in Utah. So don’t feel bad mom, he doesn’t know where the Eiffel tower is or what it looks like either. haha) So we told him to look on mormon.org so that he could learn about the church in Spanish. We are looking for someone in the ward who can speak Spanish so maybe we can go with them to talk to him later. I’ll have to tell you more about it when we find someone.
We have been showing a temple video to recent converts who are on their way to going to do baptisms for the dead. The video is so powerful! Every time we show it, the spirit is so strong and the recent converts mention that to us, that they could feel the spirit so strongly in the room. I wish we had a temple closer so that we could go. I’m so grateful for temples. I think you might be able to find it on lds.org. If i find a link to it i’ll send it to you but it’s a really great video.
Look I found it! Watch it! It’s so great!
Four recent converts are working towards going to the temple. Two are a husband and wife and the other two are sisters who we go visit about once a week.
There’s not much else to tell but when we start to get more investigators, which we will this week, there will be so much to tell you.
I hope you are all doing well. I love receiving your individual letters so please keep sending them.
I love you all and I pray for you every day!
And as mom always says.. Hurrah for Israel!
Love, Sister Moon
Here are a couple of pictures at Kevin’s baptism. The second one is his family and Brother Lewis who baptized him.
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Week 3: News from Ava, Missouri

Dearest Family and Friends!

I am so excited to tell you where I ended up for my first area! But before I do that I want to talk about leaving the MTC and the Mission Home.
So we left the MTC at 2:30 in the morning on Wednesday and a bus drove us to the SLC Airport. I got to say goodbye to Mom and Dad the night before I left at dinner. It was great to see them and I’m excited to get their letter sometime soon and hear all about Tonga! I am wearing a Tonga shirt that I bought at the MTC so I can represent Mom and Dad! 🙂 Our first flight left about 40 minutes late from SLC and so we missed our connecting flight in Denver, CO. So we had to wait a couple of hours for the next flight so we got into Tulsa OK at around 1. We met President and Sister Shumway and loaded up the trailer with all our luggage and away we went. We stopped by the mission office and then went to the mission home. We did a lot of training in the Mission home and got our driving cards. President Shumway interviewed each of us and decided where we were going and who our trainers would be. He talked a lot about how we are the hastening of the work and that we need to work hard so that the mission can continue to grow. The work is exploding in the OTM! The week before I came the mission as a whole gave more than 3,000 lessons in a week!
Now I will tell you about my first area and my first companion. I am in Ava, Missouri and my trainer is Sister Goodman. Ava, Missouri is a really tiny town about an hour away from Springfield. (Avee, Missoura as the locals call it) Everyone in Ava is super friendly and they all love Jesus Christ and love to talk about him so that is really good. My companion and I are both new to the area, which is something we call shotgunning. Both of the sisters who were in the area before left at the transfer and Sister Goodman and I were put in, so we both don’t know the area or the people. Things are really slow here right now and we don’t really have a lot of people to teach. We have one investigator but we don’t know if she is progressing or not. We will be doing a lot of tracting and finding. We are hoping that the ward will give us referrals as well. We live in a members home, the Weidmeyers, (they have a lot of strange names out here.) They live on a farm down a dirt road about 8 miles from town so we are driving a truck! My companion rolled a car in her last area so she isn’t allowed to drive anymore so I have been driving everywhere. The first few days we went visiting mostly and a couple sisters in the ward took us around and showed us the town and people’s homes so we wouldn’t be lost. On Saturday we went to zone conference in Springfield. Elder Tad R. Callister came and spoke to us! It was so great! He is an amazing speaker. Three non members came to the ward yesterday. They come all the time but are not baptized so we don’t really know what’s going on with that. We have appointments to go and see them this week. We also have a baptism this Saturday! We never taught him at all but the sisters before us did. His name is Kevin and his family has all been baptized except for him and his mom. DuringSunday School it was raining and it started to ice up. So we got our first ice rain! We had to drive to Kevin’s house to go over the baptismal questions and set up the program for Saturday and then we drove home. I am so glad we have the truck and 4 wheel drive or we would never have made it.
We haven’t been able to do much here in Ava yet because we’re both new in the area and the other sisters didn’t leave us any people to teach or any referrals. We are going to meet with some of the non members who came to church on Sunday, we are hoping that they will progress so that we can keep teaching them.
My companion, Sister Goodman, is from Arizona, she’s been out 13 months, so she has 5 months left. We get along really well so that has been really good! We’ve had a lot of time to do training since we don’t have a lot of people to teach and the ice rain made it so we had to go home for the rest of the day. She’s a really good trainer and i’m excited to learn from her.
We pet a cow the other day. There are cows everywhere here! We have some in our backyard too. The birds here are really pretty too. There are red cardinals everywhere here. They are so pretty! I’ve never seen them before! They also have fireflies here too. They’re not out yet but I hope I get to see some before I leave.
The picture below is Ava Drug. They sell one scoop of ice cream for 5 cents and two scoops for 10 cents! We have to be careful, this place is dangerous. So if I come back super fat, you’ll know why! haha 🙂
And there’s a picture of our truck too!
I love you all!
Sister Moon
Ava Drug, Missouri
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Week 2: Sis. Moon’s last week in MTC

Hey!

I don’t really know how to start. This week has flown by! I got to see mom and dad! We took pictures at the map and they ate dinner with my zone. Most of our district has already left. It was really sad to say goodbye to the rest of my district as they left. It’s just Sister Henderson, Sister Wulfenstein and I left and we leave for Oklahoma tomorrow at 2:30 in the morning. I will definitely be sleeping on the plane. I’m excited to finally go out and teach in Oklahoma. I have loved it here in the MTC but I am excited to finally get out there. Thank you for all your letters I love reading them! 
 
The new district in our zone arrived last Wednesday there are two sisters, Sister Boman and Sister Greene, and four elders, Elder Bell, Elder Child, Elder Lawrence (who is from Brisbane, Australia) and Elder Elder (everyone in our district think that’s really cool). They’re all really awesome and a lot more mellow than our district but i think it balances the zone out. 
 
We had two spiritual experiences teaching this week. Sister Henderson and I have been continuing to teach Andy we thought that it would be good to continue on in our lesson on the restoration (we skipped to the plan of salvation for a couple lessons) so we shared the story of Joseph Smith and explained it so that it was relevant in his life. (which is something that we learn how to do a lot) It was a really amazing experience cause the Spirit was so strong and we were getting a lot of revelation from the Spirit what to say. At the end of the lesson we asked him to pray about it and to focus on the way that he felt after. As he was praying he asked to know if Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ and said “I already know that it’s true but the sisters told me to ask” He knew that it was true before even praying about it. After the prayer he said that he knew it was true because of the feelings he felt as he was reading the story. The last lesson we taught Andy was on Jesus Christ Sister Wulfenstein came with us to that lesson because Sister Povanhu had already left for Mississippi. We had asked him to read 3 Nephi 11 the time before and he hadn’t so we read it with him and talked a lot about Jesus Christ. He was really interested and wanted to know more about him. It was a great end to the day because we had a rough morning when we taught previous lessons and in practices we weren’t doing too well. 
 
This week I’ve learned that asking questions is really important. It helps us to know what they need to know in their lives and what doctrine will help them. 
 
I love teaching the gospel and I’m excited to teach the people of Oklahoma in two days!! 🙂
I love you all!
Sister Moon
 
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Sister Moon’s First week in the MTC

Excerpts from Andrea’s first letter:

The first week at the MTC has been stressful but amazing! My companion is Sister Henderson and she worked with me at Shivers about a year ago so it was nice to see a familiar face right away. She’s from Holladay, Utah and she is going to The Oklahoma Tulsa Mission as well. There is another sister in our residence hall that is going with us as well. Her companion is going to the Mississippi Jackson Mission. They are Sister Wulfenstein, she is from Pleasant Grove, and Sister Povanhu, she is from Namibia, Africa. They are both so great and we all get along so well. The Elders in our District are Elder Cordner, Elder Ward, Elder Hendriksen, and Elder McAfee. They are really great too and so is the other district in our zone. We will have two more sisters coming in tomorrow that will be living in our residence hall. They will form another district in our zone along with the other elders that will come tomorrow. I met an Elder Moon today at lunch we didn’t really talk to see if we are related but it was cool anyway.

Our teachers here are amazing and we have all learned so much even though it’s only been a week. We have been teaching an investigator (acted out by one of our teachers) his name is Andy and it has been really hard. We are learning how to teach people not lessons but it’s hard at the beginning because you want to teach the lessons but sometimes that makes them uninterested in our message. We are also learning about our purpose as missionaries and how to apply that in our lessons. We want our investigators to know that we are there because we want them to come closer to Christ. Sometimes that gets lost when we are teaching a lesson because they think that we are teaching them about our church instead of bringing them closer to Christ

I love you all!! I am doing great and learning a lot. I am so grateful for your support!
Love, Sister Moon