Week 9: Tornado Season!

Hey family and friends,

So this is tornado season! Last night a tornado hit town in Ava. Since we live out in the country about 10 miles out or town we weren’t affected by it which was good. Apparently sister Goodman and I slept through the hail storm and super bad winds. When we went into town today to write emails at the church we drove through town and saw all the damage from the tornado. There were a bunch of power lines out it was crazy. The power was out in the whole town of Ava and at the church so we couldn’t write emails. (We’re now at a member’s house so we could email) we wrote hand written letters for a while at the church mad then we went on a run into town and walked around where the tornado hit, there were tree branches everywhere and all the shops were closed with no power. We got to see our friend from the Mexican restaurant who we gave the Spanish Book of Mormon to. His house is really close to where the tornado hit but it didn’t get any damage.
This week we got to meet some less actives we’ve never met before. We met a lady named Sandra who has a Down’s syndrome. His name is Lloyd and he is so sweet. Sandra was offended years ago when someone said that Lloyd couldn’t be baptized even though he wanted to. So we offered to teach him so he could be baptized and she’s thinking about it. They are both super sweet and we’re going back to visit soon.
We started teaching a lady who has 6 kids. She is super cute and so interested in the church. She started being interested in the church because of sister wives…. Haha she got money help from the church which also got her interested as well. She just moved into a house in the ward boundaries, she’s fixing it up because the people before trashed it and the landlord said if she fixed it up and cleaned it she could live there rent free for 6 months. We taught her the restoration this week. It went pretty well, her kids were all over the place and there were a lot of distractions but she payed attention really well and when we got to the first vision portion it got really quiet and cal, while we were talking about it. It was so cool. It’s amazing how the spirit takes over if we just open our mouths.
Helge is still smoking. We’re not sure if she’s going to keep progressing. She says she is going to be done after her last pack so if she does we’ll keep teaching her and she’ll be baptized on the 24 of May. She’s super funny and always makes us laugh when we go over there.

A less active in our ward just had triple bi-pass surgery last week and he is home from the hospital now so we went to see him the other day. His wife and 3 kids are not members. It is a miracle that he lived through the surgery. They told us miracle after miracle that happened. His wife knows that God protected him and he talked about how things were “worked out” when we was dreaming during the surgery. He kept talking about a conversation that went on during that time. He talked about that he was scared to make the transition from priest to elder but that it was worked out at that time. I’m hoping that means once he’s recovered that he’s coming back to church. 

I will have to send more tomorrow our time got cut really short because of the power outage so we get to email a little bit tomorrow. But if not then I will write more next week. Everything’s great here in Ava and I’m loving the work
Hurrah for Israel !!!
Sister Moon

Week 8: I’m Staying in Good Old Ava!

Dearest Family and Friends,

I am not moving to a new area or getting a new companion. Everything is staying the same. Our district is still the same too. So not much has changed. Basically everyone in our district just got here last transfer so they’re keeping us here.
Things are good. They’re slowly getting better. Sister Goodman and I are working things out and it’s been good. We really do get along well most of the time it’s just when things get stressful that we have a hard time. She’s helping me to work hard and i appreciate all that she does. I will be super grateful to her for the rest of my mission but in the moment it’s always really rough.
We went caving today!! It’s Amber’s birthday so we went to a cave that’s about 10 miles away from Ava. It was really cool. The young women and young men in the ward have gone before, so don’t worry it’s safe. It was so much fun! It has a lot of water in it and so it’s really muddy (well it’s more like clay) We got soooo muddy and gross! It was awesome!! I will send pictures as well.
Last Monday we went to teach Delbert again last week and we’re teaching him today. We taught about the Priesthood and it was really good. We teach him at Brother Lewis’ house and he is so great! His wife has been out of town but she should be back today. She’s such a great lady as well. We went to the Lewis’ with the Aufenkamps. They are such a funny couple. (That’s who we had dinner with who picked the platter up off the floor.) But they shared some good experiences with the priesthood and didn’t get us off topic too much. haha The lesson went really well though. Delbert is such a great man. He’s so funny and he knows it’s true he just needs to realize that the Church has the fullness of the gospel. He still goes back and forth between a few different churches. Tonight we are talking about the first principles of the gospel.
I love studying every morning and preparing to teach. When I read out of Preach My Gospel it reminds me of how simple the gospel is and how complicated we make it sometimes. Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. It doesn’t get more simple than that. I never realized how much of a difference studying the scriptures every day makes. I love the scriptures! Some mornings I’m so sad that I have to put my scriptures down and stop studying so we can go out and work. I could read and research different things for hours sometimes if it was allowed. It puts everything into perspective. When we read the scriptures it makes everything so much easier. Focusing on the savior and remembering him throughout the day is so much easier when we start the day with scriptures and prayer.
We had a great Easter and I hope that everyone else did too. Church was really good. Sister Goodman and I taught Sunday School and we went to the nursing home a little later and taught them about the meaning of Easter (their preacher who usually comes canceled last minute) The people at the nursing home are so sweet. It was hard to get out of there cause they wanted to just keep talking. We go in almost every week and serve there but most of the time we don’t really get to sit down and talk to them so it was so nice to be able to do that.
We had dinner with the Kjar’s they are such a great family, it was so great to eat dinner and talk to one of the “normal” families in the ward. Brother Kjar used to be the bishop. His son in law is the ward mission leader (Brother Hobbs) and his wife (sister Hobbs) has come out with us a couple of times. They are just a great family. The Hobbs have a son named Bryden and he’s 2. He’s so cute! He had a lot of candy since it was Easter and he was so energetic it was so funny! Then when we got home we decorated Easter eggs (pictures below) We did them super quick, but they look pretty. It was a pretty great Easter!
This week we went over to Dan and Linda’s (He’s the one waiting for first Presidency approval to get baptized) and we were talking about scripture study and they said they didn’t have time to read their scriptures so we volunteered to mow his lawn the next day so he would have time to read the scriptures. So we went over there the next day and mowed his lawn, I used the weed whacker while Sister Goodman mowed the lawn. It was so great to be doing 2 services at the same time. Cutting his lawn and allowing him to read the scriptures. It was really good but i’m sad I didn’t take pictures after.
I went on another exchange this week to Marshfield. It was really great. I was with Sister Whitaker. She’s so cute .. i forgot to get a picture with her. I am doing really bad at this picture taking thing! Anyway, Sister Whitaker was super stressed cause we were supposed to help move one of their investigators out and they had a lot of men lined up to help and at the last minute a lot of them backed out. But everything worked out and there were a lot of people who came to help. It was such a testimony builder to know that God is in charge and he has everything under control, we just need to have faith that things will work out.
We had a couple of cool lessons that day too. We went to a less active family’s house and we were with the relief society president for their ward. The father of the family was home so we went in and he was a little hesitant to let us in but once we got talking and getting to know the family he started to open up more and feel more comfortable. By the end it was really cool, he said that his wife had been talking about maybe going back to church and the relief society president offered them a ride and he really sounded interested. I don’t know if they actually went but it was cool to see the change that took place while we were there.
Later that night we went to a lady’s house who has a baptismal date and we were talking about the Book of Mormon. Her name is Carol and she is so sweet! She’s just the cutest lady ever. She said that there was a problem with the baptismal date and that they needed to change it so she decided to move it up about 3 weeks sooner than originally planned, so she’s getting baptized on May 10! It was so cool! The spirit was so strong in the lesson and it went really well.
There’s a Moon family in Seymour, which is a town about 30 minutes away from Ava. We haven’t met them yet but their names are Burtis and Mary Moon. Dad you’ll have to look them up and see how we’re related. They are less active and they weren’t home when we tried to visit them a couple of weeks ago.
There’s a temple trip for the youth of our ward on Saturday and Sister Goodman and I will probably be going cause a recent convert is going to go. I’m excited to be able to go to the temple, it’s been so long. We’re going to the St. Lewis Temple. I’m pretty excited.
Well I think that’s about all for this week. It’s been pretty crazy and has gone by so fast.
I love getting letters from all of you. Keep sending them. 🙂 I love you all!
Hurrah for Israel!
-Sister Moon
Here are some photos – no descriptions

Week 7: Transfers Already?

Hey Family and Friends!

I can’t believe this transfer has gone by so fast! We get our transfer calls on Saturday. I still feel lost and like I don’t know what I’m doing half of the time. So how transfers work is we get called around 10:00 pm and they tell us if we’re staying or going, then that next Thursday is when we get transferred. It’s so weird to think about the possibilities. I’m trying not to think about it. It’s just going to make me stressed.

Mom and dad, It sounds like you are having a lot of success and I love your pictures. I am slacking on the picture taking. I need to take a lot more pictures. I didn’t realize you would be teaching as much as you have been. I’m so excited for you. 🙂

My biggest trial for the week has been working well with Sister Goodman. We aren’t working together as well as we should be. Things have been pretty rough and most of the problems are coming from me stressing about things that don’t matter and having my expectations way too high. It’s been a real learning experience. I see the ways that I need to improve now so that we can work well together. I really haven’t been working as hard as I should be and that has been causing problems. I am going to step it up and work harder than I ever have before! (Thanks mom for teaching me that I can do hard things. I love you.)

So this week has felt longer than the other weeks. Last Monday we had our zone outing, we basically played volleyball the whole day with the missionaries from our zone, it was really fun! I haven’t played volleyball for so long!

This week we had the goal of reaching 90% member present lessons. We didn’t quite make it, but we were really close. We got 87% and that is soooo much better than what we have had in the past. The average before for our zone was about 30-40% which is terrible. I notice such a difference between when we have a member there and when we don’t. Sometimes during the week I felt so limited in what we could do, because we had to have a member with us at all times to be able to reach our goal. That’s where a lot of the stress came from this week. I am a plan ahead person and Sister Goodman is not so it was really rough figuring out who to go with us, but it all worked out in the end.

We met with Delbert Downs this week. I’m not sure if I’ve talked about him before. He was baptized when he was little but he fell away and never was really in the church at all. He has questions now about different religions and we have discussions every week on Monday night and we pick a new topic every week that we discuss and then he goes and asks other churches what they believe. He is searching for what he believes and I hope that we can help him to understand that this is the true church. I have no doubt in my mind that is true. He comes to church every week as well so I know he’s feeling the spirit. Tonight we meet with him again and we are talking about the priesthood. It was really cool to study more about the priesthood than I have before. He is such a great man, I hope that he will feel the spirit tonight and feel like he should work towards receiving the priesthood and being active in the church.

So on Tuesday we had an interesting experience at dinner. We had dinner with the Aufenkamps. They are a really funny couple in our ward. So when we went over there she was putting beans straight from the can into a bowl, i thought she was going to put them in the microwave.. nope she set them on the table and said they had come straight from the freezer. Then I saw a bunch of plates and platters sitting on the ground, i was hoping that we weren’t going to be using them, She got the plates we were going to eat off of from the dishwasher and then she was looking for a platter for the ribs we were having. She picks the platter up off the ground and hands it to Sister Goodman and says “it came from the china cabinet yesterday so it’s clean.” She has two dogs and a cat so I was kinda nervous about that. Later Sister Goodman told me that she tipped the platter and dust and hair fell of the plate. She was about to grab something to wipe it down with and before she could Sister Aufenkamp piled the plate with ribs. I didn’t even know about this until later and i was so grossed out. It was quite an experience. haha

I met a couple this week who just got back from a couples mission in Nauvoo! I thought that was the coolest thing. I talked to Brother May about it for quite a while. It was really interesting to hear about their experience. He talked about the pageant and how Sister missionaries that are called there, they go somewhere else for the winter and come back in the summer when it’s busy. I never knew that before.

So we’ve met a couple of people who we are going to start teaching. We go to a less active member and teach him the new member lessons quite often and two of his neighbors have met with missionaries before and are interested in meeting with us again. One of them just called us up last night randomly and said he wanted to set up an appointment with us. The other one we talked to outside of his house and said we would come back. We’ve been receiving lots of referrals as well. We aren’t sure if they will go anywhere but we are gaining the members trust a little bit more.

We met a woman who got help from the church and she’s investigating a couple other churches but we’re going to start teaching her. It’s going to be really good.

We got a text yesterday from someone who has a member friend. She has a newborn and she’s deciding whether she wants to become Mormon or a Catholic. We’re just waiting for her to decide what day she can meet with us.

We are teaching a set of twins, a boy and a girl. Emily and Jake, they just barely turned 8. They are so cute. I love teaching kids. They are so smart and excited about learning. Their mom is an inactive member but she wants them to be baptized. We’re hoping that while we visit them that she will feel the spirit again and want to come back to church. Their cousin Amber takes them to church. It’s amazing how much they remember about what we’ve talked about before. We brought them a children’s Book of Mormon and they were so excited about it. Emily started reading it before we even left. They are both so cute and get so excited when we come over.

On Saturday there’s a farmers market and we went to go see a less active who sells chap-stick and soap made out of bees wax. Then we went around to other booths to see what else people were selling. There was a lot of cool stuff and we talked to a couple people who are there almost every week. We’re going to go back next week and talk to a couple of people again. We are working on setting up a booth at the market and pass out pamphlets, copies of the Book of Mormon and general information about the church. We hope that it will help us to be more known to the public.

Saturday night we went to visit Helga who we’ve been working with for a while. She’s been sick and so she hasn’t been smoking for the couple of days she’s been sick. I think it’s really good for her. We are still working with her to help her quit smoking. We set a baptismal date for her. She is working toward getting baptized on May 24. We are so excited. She’s doing better and hopefully having a date in mind will help her to quit.

We went to do service on Saturday for a family in our ward, they are cleaning up their yard. They had a huge pile that they were burning and we were moving a bunch of dead branches from their front yard to the back so they could burn it. It’s so interesting that people just burn their garbage out here. We can tell when it’s a burning day because the sky is always smokey on those days.

An investigator that Sister Goodman found in Tulsa is getting baptized on Saturday so if we can find a ride we might be going to Tulsa for the day. That will be exciting. We have exchanges on Friday which should be pretty good. I’ll give you all more detail on that next week.

I love you all and I am so grateful for the support and I feel your love and prayers. I’m so grateful to be here in Ava.

Hurrah for Israel!
Love, Sister Moon

Week 6: One Month in the Field

Hey Family and Friends!
I don’t have as much time today as I normally do because we have a Zone Outing today. We’re going to West Plains to play board games and volleyball with our zone.

I read Mom and Dad’s letters and it sounds like they are doing really great! I’m so excited for them and all the experiences they are having! I’m jealous of the nice weather. It’s been really rainy here and we had our first tornado watch of the season. Tornado season is coming up pretty soon. I’ve been hearing from locals that Ava has been pretty safe from tornadoes. I’m hoping that their luck will last. The only tornado they’ve had was more than 20 years ago. So that either means it’s time for one again or there won’t be any. We’ll just have to see. We live in the basement of a members house so we would be safe from them, we know where the tornado shelter is in town, and we have been trained what to do if we’re out in the country. So even if it does happen we’ll be safe. 🙂 I love the tornado talks in conference. I thought it was really interesting that they mentioned them while I am super close to Oklahoma.

We’ve had a pretty good week. It’s been crazy and has gone way too fast! Too much to tell in so little time. We’re still finding new investigators and we have a zone goal for this week. Our goal is to have 90% of our lessons with a member present. We are working hard to find members who are willing to go out with us so that we can reach this goal.

I went on an exchange this week to Marshfield. I was with Sister Stout for the day and we went to some members returning to activity and a couple people getting ready to be baptized. It went really well and all the people there were normal! haha I was surprised! I forgot to get a picture with her but I will when I see her next. I am so bad at taking pictures but i’m working on it.

This week we met with a man named Howie. He has two kids I can’t remember his little girls name but his son’s name is Budah! haha Howie is Black and is the only black man in Ava. He’s pretty funny and knows a lot about all different religions. We have only visited him once and on his record is says that he wanted to be baptized a while ago but we don’t really know what happened. We’re going to go back soon and see if he is still willing to be baptized.

We gave away a Spanish Book of Mormon this week. His name is Jose and he is a waiter at a Mexican restaurant that we have talked to before. I’ve mentioned him in a previous email. He seems so willing and he is the sweetest guy. We’ll have to check up to see if he is reading.

We talked to Lisa again and we know that she believes in the church and knows it’s true. So we are going to challenge her to baptism and set a date for April 19. She said that she didn’t want to be baptized in the winter because it’s too cold. But now that it’s warming up she’s thinking about it. She’s so funny!

We drove around for 2 hours yesterday trying to find a house way out in the country. Apparently we were on the wrong road the whole time! It was so crazy! We were calling the members that we were going to eat with and they kept trying to give us directions and it was so crazy. But they finally figured out we had turned off on the wrong highway and we finally found our way. I just can’t believe that we spent 2 hours driving around. And we used up sooooo many of our miles. We have limited miles each month and it is so hard to not go over them here because everything is so spread out here and we live 10 miles from town. We go at least 20 miles a day and have gone up to 90 miles on normal days and then over 100 on days like yesterday.

We have another investigator who is really close to being baptized, her name is Pam. Her son is a member and they both smoke. They are trying to stop. Pam has tried everything and she still can’t stop. We are working with her to find a way for her to stop. She really wants to be baptized and she comes to church all the time. We talked to her about conference and she was excited to watch it. We are praying for her every day so that she can stop smoking.

Almost everyone smokes here and it is the hardest thing for them to give up. I can’t even imagine how hard it must be. Sister Goodman and I are giving up sugar so that we can somewhat understand what it’s like to give up an addiction. We got rid of all the sugar we could find in our apartment. It hasn’t been too hard yet, and we’re not going to refuse to eat sugar if a member serves it to us, but just not around the apartment and no more 5 cent ice cream. I don’t know how long we are going to do it for but there are consequences for whoever cracks first.

Right now I am learning how to teach with my personality. When I usually teach I go into my teaching mode and it’s different from how I usually would speak. So I am learning how to be more personable when I teach so it’s not robotic and fake. That’s something I haven’t really thought about before. I know that sounds silly, because we should always be ourselves but I haven’t been doing that. So Sister Goodman is helping me to do that and tells me when I’m going back to being robotic. I’m doing better but I’m still working on it.

We went to Seymour this week to visit Pam, that’s where she lives. Part of Seymour is an Amish community! We were searching everywhere for a little Amish store where we could go get something Amish. We finally found one and talked to the lady who owns it and asked her how many kids she had and she said 15! And I thought 8 was a lot! The store was so cute! It reminded me of the bike trip and the Amish store we went to there. Except there was no electricity in this store. There are Mennonites here too, which are half Amish. It was really weird and we felt out of place among their horse and buggies. There was a little girl next to the store who was carrying a pail that was almost as big as she was and she was dressed up in her bonnet and little dress. She was so cute and I wish I could have taken a picture of her, but that would be weird.

Things are going really great here. I’m excited for more experiences sharing the gospel and hopefully next week I will be able to announce a couple of baptisms!

Hurrah for Israel!

-Sister MoonPhotos:
A pond by our house
In the tall grass by Lisa’s house.
Amish dolls
I bought Pure Honey and a yoyo made by a crippled boy at the Amish store. The honey is so good!
The Amish store
Another creek
A man plowing his field with three horses!! so awesome!!

Week 5: New Investigators!

Hello Family and Friends!

This week has flown by and I don’t really know how to start.
We’ve had a lot more success this week. We have 4 new investigators! They have been taught before but have been dropped a long time ago. So they are new to us.
Lisa lives out in the country and she lives in a trailer that has no electricity and, most of the time, no heat. She walks everywhere and she lives at least 10 miles from town. She is an amazing lady. A couple of families in our ward help her out a lot. They pick her up and take her to their house to get a shower and then she comes to church with them every week. She knows just about everything about the church and participates in meetings on Sunday. We were so confused why she isn’t baptized. So we went to go visit her with a girl in our ward, her name is Amber and she is 16 and she used to go out with the other sister missionaries all the time, but now she works so she can only come with us every once in a while. Amber knows a lot about the people who have been taught before so she is a big help. She said that when the other sisters visited her, Lisa was concerned about being baptized because she thought that her baptist priest had the priesthood so she didn’t need to be baptized again. But when we went to visit she was concerned that God wouldn’t be happy with her for being baptized twice. She wasn’t sure about it and we also talked about Joseph Smith and that she needs to have a testimony of Joseph Smith so that she can know if the Priesthood really was restored to the earth. We weren’t able to visit her again last week, but we want to have a lesson in a members’ home sometime this week.
Willy and Whelma are a couple who live out in the country too. They used to have 20 something dogs at their place! This was before we met them. They finally had them sent to a shelter with help from a couple in our ward. They really like the people in our ward and they have come to church a couple of times in the past, not while we’ve been here, and they like it. They stopped seeing the missionaries because they wondered why we talk more about Joseph Smith than we talk about Christ. Also I guess they were offended by a missionary previously, but we came over one day and talked to Whelma and she asked us questions. Amber came with us to see her as well. She knew them from before so they already knew her and like her a lot so it was a positive experience. We answered Whelma’s questions and left them a DVD about the church and what we believe. They both watched it together and really liked it and it did clear up some of the questions that they had. We went back to see them and they said that they would start reading the Book of Mormon again and that we could start teaching them. Both of them were actually thinking about being baptized a while ago but they had questions that the missionaries wouldn’t answer so they stopped. I’m excited to start teaching them. They are both so sweet and kind.
We are also teaching Emily and her twin brother Jake. They are 8 years old and their mom is a member who is less active. She wants them to be baptized. They are Amber’s cousins. Amber has really been helpful for us. We taught Emily the other day about the Restoration, her twin brother wasn’t there that day. It’s so interesting teaching children. You have to teach it so simply and clearly or they get confused. She is really smart though so she understood what we were talking about. She is so sweet and she kind of looks like Adri, so that’s who she reminds me of when we teach her. We’re going back soon so that we can teach both of them. It’s going to be a very different experience teaching them.
Women’s Conference was really good! One of our investigators, Helga, came with her friend who is a member, so that was really great.
Helga is another one of our investigators. I think I’ve talked a little about her before, but she’s from Germany. She is so funny and makes us laugh all the time. She says that she is going to stop smoking. She said that once she runs out of her cigarettes she’s done. She says she has 4 packs left. We hope that she will be able to do that. We taught her the plan of salvation last time and she believes it, her husband passed away a couple of years ago so it’s really comforting for her to know that she will see him again.
Sister Goodman and I had kind of a rough week as a companionship but we’re communicating a lot better now so things are starting to get better. We go running every morning and where we live has so many hills! We really get a workout! It’s been really good to run every morning even when we don’t want to. Some mornings it is sooo hard but we’re improving!
I love you all to the moon and back!! 🙂
Hurrah for Israel
Love, Sister Moon