Week 12: Down in Ava

Hey Family and Friends,

I am continually amazed at the many new things that I learn about Tonga every time I read Mom and Dad’s letter. Sorry that you don’t hear about Ava very much but there’s not much that’s new or changing. Ava’s pretty boring but the people are interesting. haha But I love it here, the people are so great and we’ve met a lot of new people this week. It’s beautiful here. Spring is here and it’s been raining a lot. This whole week has been cold and rainy. Sister Goodman and I are ready for the heat. Then I know in about 2 weeks I’ll be complaining about it, but that’s just how life goes. haha I’m not sure I’m ready for the humidity though. I am still terrible at taking pictures! I’ll have to take pictures of how beautiful it is here now that it’s spring. I need to start taking pictures with members of the ward and investigators cause there are only 2 weeks left of this transfer and I want to be able to remember them all if I get transferred. I think I might be staying for another transfer though I’m not sure. I’ll let you all know next Saturday, so in two weeks. It’s so crazy how fast time has gone! It’s almost been 3 months!
This week’s been pretty busy and full of miracles.
We are still meeting with Delbert every week and that is going really well. He believes it all he just doesn’t understand fully that it’s Christ’s church restored on the earth. He still goes to another church about every other Sunday, but he was at ours yesterday and sat by us. He says that he is going to start coming to our church more and the other one less and eventually just come here. He just doesn’t feel ready to receive the Priesthood yet. We have been inviting him to start preparing to receive it.
We had another interesting dinner experience this time at the Rebarchicks. They have 4 kids and she is pregnant and is due in July, just July. haha funny story about that in a bit. They are both return missionaries and Sister Rebarchick went to Italy. Her kids are crazy! They are all over the place it’s so funny. They live in an old house that has run down apartments behind it. Their house is crazy. So messy with crumbs everywhere, I don’t even know how long it’s been since they’ve cleaned it. And they have so many cats. Their cat just had 9 kittens, i think. It was such a funny experience. I just wanted to laugh the whole time. You have to know their personalities to understand. She is the one who wears a cape to church and makes salves. Brother Rebarchick is 6 ft.7 in. and he has really poofy grey hair and a beard. They wear medieval clothes basically. It’s so funny. They are a great family and are strong in the gospel but they’re another crazy family in Ava. So we asked her when her baby was due and she said “July just July babies don’t have due dates.” and went off on a long rant about it. So that’s where that came from.
We’ve dropped a lot of people lately. It’s so hard to do that, I feel bad not visiting them anymore but if they are not willing to progress we need to spend our time teaching someone who will.
We got to play Nertz this week, Melinda. I’ll come back and whoop ya! haha We went to a dinner appointment and played it after while we had a lesson. It was really fun and I’m getting some practice in.
We had our Zone Training meeting this week and it went really well. I had to give some instruction about asking inspired questions. I didn’t realize how important it is until this week. I knew why we are supposed to ask questions but not how much it makes a difference. It’s such a hard thing for me to do. It’s something that I have to work on. I need to practice, practice, practice! We also had interviews with President Shumway. He is so great. He is so loving and helps us so much. Sometimes I wish I could talk to him for hours about all my struggles because he just helps me so much! But that is what Heavenly Father does. We can talk to him for hours and work out all our struggles. He is always there for us. When we cast our burdens on Him, He can make everything right again.
We finally got to teach Emily and Jake again. It’s been about 3 weeks since we’ve seen them maybe more. They are such smart kids. They absorb so much. The thing that is so hard about teaching kids is making it simple so that they can understand. That’s what makes it so fun to teach them because it really is simple, the gospel is simple but there are a lot of things that make it get complicated. At those times we have to stand back and make it simple again. Go back to the basics. Church, Prayer, Reading the Scriptures, and Service. That’s what it’s all about! Being worthy to enter the temple so that we can make it back to our Heavenly Father and live with our families forever.
Saturday was a really great day. In the morning we went out with Sister Michael while she was going around to get food orders. There are two families who are receiving assistance from the church and haven’t ever taken the lessons or anything. So we went over there and Sister Michael invited them to have us over once a week to teach them about the gospel. The first one we went to his name is Ernie. He is a super nice guy and he has some hesitation about all churches. He went to other churches and thought they were all hypocrites so he doesn’t like churches. He really opened up while we were there though. He told us he had questions and that one of them was why are there so many churches? We can answer that! haha It was so great having Sister Michael there to invite him to take the lessons because she knows him better than we do. He has a busy schedule but he is going to set things up with us and find a time that we can meet with him. It will be so good.
The next person we went to visit lives right across the street from Ernie. David and Tanya. They live right next to Tanya’s family church and they go there. But David doesn’t really believe everything about it. At the beginning of June we’ll be able to teach them too. It was amazing to see how the Lord has prepared these people so that we could come and teach them.
Then later that day we went over to Paul’s and his nephew was there, James, so we were talking to him for a while and he is super open. He was telling us about how he went to prison and how that changed him and all about how Christ has helped him through. It was awesome. Him and his wife and baby girl were leaving the next day to move to Texas. We were so sad, we want to teach him so bad. But we gave him a Book of Mormon and he said that he would read it.
The miracles kept coming. Then we went to Dena’s house and her friend Randy was there and he was super nice and friendly. So we were able to share a message with him. He was visiting with the sisters before but now he’s going to another church but I think that someday he will be open to hearing the Gospel.
Then that night as we were driving home we stopped at Casey’s to go to the bathroom and as we were coming out, these 3 guys started talking to us and asking us who we were. We told them we were missionaries and that we teach about Jesus Christ. We talked to them for about 30-40 minutes. One of them, Joe, told us that he had a rough day and that he had just got done hand digging his father’s grave. He was prepared to meet us at that time so that we could help him. We invited him to church the next day and he said that he would come. The other two didn’t want to, but Joe was interested and said that he had a lot of questions about Mormons so we said we would answer them. We weren’t sure he was actually going to show up the next day but he did! He came to church with us and stayed all 3 hours. The Sunday School lesson was on the Restoration! How cool is that? It was awesome! Then we got to meet with him after and teach him a little bit about the Plan of Salvation. He said he had more questions and that he would let us know when he can meet with him again. He has word of wisdom issues but he’s so open and willing to learn. We are excited to teach him! It was an amazing day full of miracles! We met so many people who have been prepared for the gospel in their lives at this time.
This week has had it’s challenges too but I know that the Lord is watching out for us and sees our efforts. He has placed these people in our path so that we could find them. I’m so grateful for the Lord and all he has done for us this week.
I hope everyone has a great week!
Hurrah for Israel!
Love, Sister Moon

Here’s another great Mormon message!
I love you all!

Week 11: Mother’s Day

Hey Family and Friends,

Mother’s Day was great!! I’m so glad I got to talk to almost all of you! It was great to see mom and dad! They look so good! I got to call Shanna too and talk to her a little bit last night which was awesome!! I also got to see Nephi’s family even though they couldn’t hear me I could hear them and see them really well. I miss all of you and love you!! Happy Mother’s Day to all of my sister-in-laws you are doing such a great job raising the cutest nieces and nephews in the world!
This week has been kinda crazy. We are dropping a lot of our investigators that we have right now. They are not progressing and it seems like we talk about the same things every time we are there. We just keep running around in circles and nothing seems to be getting done. So we’ve decided that’s not working anymore and we’ve got to change something. We are working on finding new investigators that are going to progress. We are going tracting this week. Something we haven’t done before in this area. Sister Goodman doesn’t like tracting and she hasn’t seen much success from it so we haven’t so far, but we don’t know. Maybe it will work for this area. It will be an interesting experience. It probably seems really funny to all the return missionaries reading this because that’s probably the first thing you learned how to do on your missions. But I’ve gone 2 months without going tracting once. I’ll have to let you all know how it goes.
Sister Goodman and I have been running on the little dirt road that we live on every morning. We haven’t been for the past couple of days because Sister Goodman has been feeling sick but we went today and it was sooooo humid! Finally summer is here! It’s so weird to feel like we are sweating even before we start running because of the humidity. There are so many hills in Missouri we are getting a really good workout every morning. Sister Goodman and I are convinced we could run so much farther if there weren’t so many hills. They are killer!
We received blessings from our bishop this week. They were so good! It strengthens my testimony of the priesthood every time I receive a blessing. I love the priesthood and how much it blesses our lives. I always think back to Nephi’s accident and how much the priesthood blessed our family through that time. Something that stood out to me in his blessing was how he talked about the missionary badge and how it will protect me on my mission spiritually and physically throughout my mission. It was a really neat experience. I was having a rough day that day and it really has helped me to make it through this week.
We had a special Zone Conference this past week. President and Sister Shumway went to a Mission President training this past month and they wanted to give us all the information we need now, instead of giving us the material over the next 6 months like they usually do. So they called the special Zone Conference and it was so good! It was definitely something that I needed and I’m sure a lot of the other missionaries did too. The hastening is here and we can either watch it pass by or jump on and start working! It’s such a blessing to be out here at this time with all of the technology and the tools that we have so that we can move the work forward.
Something that was talked a lot about and has been talked about before is Pride! It is definitely something that has been making it hard for me to be involved in the work. Pride is so prevalent in the world today. I think it is the greatest tool that Satan is using to turn us away from God. A lot of things that draw us away from God can be lead back to pride. I remember a Sunday School teacher when I was in Young Women’s who tied almost every lesson back into pride. It was so interesting to see that most things tie back into pride. The only way we can get rid of that pride is relying on the Atonement. We have to understand that all we have and all that we are is because of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. We would be nothing without them.
Another thing that was talked a lot about was fear. Overcoming the fear of men and putting our faith in Christ. Faith is the opposite of fear. We can get rid of all our fear of men when we put our trust in the Lord and that he will never leave us helpless. I find myself falling into the trap of fear when I think about tracting, talking to strangers, and sometimes even teaching. I fear rejection, not knowing what to say, forgetting what I have studied for the day, fear that I will say the wrong thing. Those get in the way of my missionary work and I know that they can be overcome through trusting in the Lord. I know that he will give us the things we should say when we are properly prepared and are listening to the spirit.
On our way back from Springfield, which is where the Zone Conference was, the member we were riding with took us out to eat and once we got back to the car and checked the phone I saw that we had a missed call from our Zone Leaders and a text from them asking where we were. I told them we were just heading back and they said they heard that a tornado had hit Ava and was moving away from it right then. People in Ava always tell us that we don’t have to worry about tornadoes in Ava, and then we’ve had 2 hit in the last 2 weeks. Kinda crazy! When we got back to Ava we were talking to Yolanda and she said that the sirens went off and they went to the tornado shelter. Then we found out that it hit a highway a little ways away from Ava. We went down it the next day and there were tons of trees that fell down and it destroyed half of an old barn. So not too much damage but still we don’t know what could have happened if we were in Ava.
We also had exchanges this week. I stayed in Ava and Sister Goodman went to Marshfield. I got to work with Sister Bingham who has been out for 2 weeks. She is 23 but looks like she’s 19. She reminds me of Caroline Jolley. She’s so sweet and soft spoken. It was kinda hard to get her to talk but she’s super sweet and has a great testimony. It was a great experience being the senior companion for a day. It’s really hard to figure things out and know who to see and when plans don’t work out you have to figure it all out again. It seemed like all of our plans were falling through and it’s so hard when that happens cause you just have to move on to the next house and if they’re not there you have to find someone else. It was crazy for a while but we finally got things figured out and things ran pretty smoothly after that.
We had dinner with a member at the beginning of the week and she’s also the one who took us to Springfield. She is such a funny lady! Her husband just passed away about a year and a half ago and she’s a super stern, tough lady. As we got to know her better and talk to her more, I think she’s so funny and such a great lady. She’s gone through some crazy stuff in her life that has made her tough. She has such a strong testimony of the gospel and she sees the black and white of the gospel so clearly. She knows it’s true and nothing anyone ever says will change that, it’s such an obvious thing for her. It’s awesome! She was telling us about how the Bishop is her home teacher and how she tells the Bishop every month “Aren’t you going to come home teach me?” She gets after him if he doesn’t come it’s so funny!
We taught Yolanda again this week and we went with Sister Kjar who just got back from a month long trip to Utah and we’re so glad to have her back. I love when she comes out and visits with us. She is so strong in the gospel and knows how to explain the gospel so simply so when we ask her to share something in a lesson we know it won’t be something deep and confusing so that the investigator is confused. She has such a great love for everyone as well. We taught Yolanda The Gospel of Jesus Christ and it went really well. We asked her at the end of the lesson to pray about whether it was true and she said she already knew it was true. Then we challenged her to be baptized and she said she had been baptized before so we explained about the priesthood and the difference between being baptized in another church and she understood it really well. So we asked her again if she would be baptized when she feels ready and she said yes! She hasn’t come to church yet but we keep praying that she will. She really wants to but she’s had a crazy time with her house that she’s fixing up and it’s so far away it’s hard for her to get here. She is so willing to learn and has been prepared. We are so excited for her!
There’s a less active family who is coming back. Their youngest son is 8 and is going to be baptized on May 31. They are such a great family. They are recent converts and they have slipped back into smoking and drinking tea, but the father hasn’t smoked in 2 months and he is going to be able to baptize his son. We had Mother’s Day dinner with them last night and they have been without TV and internet for about a month, they are making their kids be outside more instead of just sitting and watching TV. It’s awesome! They are a super sweet family!
Sorry this letter is so long! haha too much to talk about and not enough words to describe everything. I love you all and I am so grateful to be on a mission! Hurrah for Israel!
Sister Moon
I just barely saw this and thought it was awesome so I wanted to share it.

I encourage you all to watch it and the other two parts that are after it. 🙂

Week 10: Progress in Ava

Hey Family and Friends, 

I’m sorry for how short last week’s letter was. We only had a short while to write because of the power outage. Next week is Mother’s day! Happy mothers day to my amazing mother and sister-in-laws. And for all future mothers. 🙂
Happy Birthday Melinda!! I love you!
This week has been pretty good. I’m learning more and more every day.
Here are some experiences from last week that I didn’t have time to tell.
We met with Lisa last week and she told us about an awesome experience she had. We were talking to her and she said that she was praying at night and had a dream that God told her that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he actually saw God. It was awesome. Her only concern with baptism is that she doesn’t want to get asked the interview questions. She is so funny! When we first went over the questions with her and told her that’s what she was going to be asked, she called it a “mental frisking” haha It was so funny! I’ll have to get a picture with her sometime in the next few weeks. I have some pictures of her house that I will send this week.
This week we met with an investigator, Ashleigh, who got our number from her friend, Paige, who is a convert and she got a hold of us and wanted to meet with us. It took a couple of weeks but we were finally able to meet with her. She had so many questions and Paige was able to answer most of her questions. Paige gave her a Book of Mormon and she has been reading through it. She says that she will pray about something and then flip open to a random page and it will be just what she needs. It’s awesome! She already has a testimony of the Book of Mormon and says she knows it’s true. Her family is not supportive at all but she says she doesn’t mind because she knows what she believes and no one is going to change her mind. She is living with her fiance and he is not supportive either. We aren’t sure if they are going to stay together but they are going to counseling to see if they can work things out. She is awesome! So after our first lesson with her she said she wanted to come to church before she prayed to know if it was true. So she said she would come to church on Sunday. She texted us on Saturday and said that she was praying and decided she needs to be baptized. We were so excited! We talked to her at church yesterday and she said she was praying about what she should do and she flipped open in the Book of Mormon and it was a scripture about baptism then she flipped open to another one about baptism as well. She says she feels really good about it and that it’s what she wants to do. We are so excited and we are going to set a date for her when we see her next!
We have been teaching Yolanda for about 3 weeks and she is so ready to receive the gospel! She is the one who get interested because of sister wives. haha We taught her the plan of salvation last week and it went really well. We found out that she is on parole right now because she wrote bad checks to make sure her family wasn’t homeless or starving. She is now doing all that she can to fix what she’s done and repent. She truly wants to change and fix things. It’s so amazing. This week we went out to her house that she is fixing up and worked all day there. The workers had done barely anything in the past 5 days and what they had done they did wrong so we helped her to fix things and get started on painting the walls and pulling up nails and staples in the floor. It will be a really nice house once it’s done. She has a son who is now going to live with her. He is awesome and is prepared to receive the gospel as well. We are excited for them!
We met with a former investigator, Joe, he is the sweetest old man! He got a Book of Mormon from someone he knew a while ago and he just pulled it out again and started reading it. He had a lot of questions and we were able to talk about Joseph Smith a lot. We are going to teach him the Restoration this week. He is definitely prepared as well!
We had lunch with a member family in our ward, the Wilbur’s, yesterday and the Atherton family came too. The father is the one who had the triple bi-pass surgery and he is doing really well. He came to church yesterday for the first time in a long time. While we were at the Wilbur’s, Brother Atherton said that he was preparing to receive the Melchizedek priesthood! We are so excited for him! Now his family just needs to join the church and it will be awesome!! We are going to have lessons with them in the Wilbur’s house starting next week hopefully. It’s definitely the time for them.
We are teaching Delbert again tonight. Last week we taught the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, and this week we are teaching about the priesthood again. It should be really good. Two weeks ago we talked about fore-ordination and it was a really amazing subject to research and study. I loved teaching it. I know that we truly are foeordained to be here at this time. Each one of us on the earth today were the noble and great ones, prepared to come down at this time to prepare God’s children for the second coming of Jesus Christ. I know that someday we will stand before our Heavenly Father with Jesus Christ at our side and he will welcome us home! I look forward to that day and I know that we will all be together as a family forever. I am so grateful for mom and dad for being righteous and making the choices that they have so that we can be a family eternally!
So yesterday during church we got a flat tire. When we left the house that morning the car dinged and said we has a low tire but it does that quite frequently so we drove to church. Then the bishop and another member of the ward changed it for us and put on the spare. So last night we had a member missionary fireside with President and Sister Shumway in West Plains, which is about an hour away from us. We couldn’t find anyone who could give us a ride so we started driving out to West Plains. We were kinda nervous about the tire but we said a prayer and started to drive out there. Then our ward mission leader texted us and said that he found a ride for us with his wife, as we were turning around the truck jumped out of gear and the motor shut off, it was so scary! So we turned around and got a ride with them. We have no idea what could have happened if we would have kept going. I know that the Lord was watching out for us. We were late to the fireside but we were joking about it later and said “better late than dead” haha The fireside was awesome! I love President and Sister Shumway so much! They are so great! They talked about what a perfect missionary is and what a perfect member is and compared them and they are the same. Then they talked about how we can become the perfect members and missionaries by doing all we can do and allow Jesus Christ to make up the difference. Then we passed out a Book of Mormon to everyone that was there and President Shumway challenged them all to give it to a person that they were thinking about during the fireside. Sister Shumway also gave 2 invitations for the next week. 1. Talk to a stranger about the gospel and 2. Pray to be directed to someone they know and talk to them about the gospel. I want to issue the same challenge to each of you. Please find a stranger and someone you know that you can share the gospel with and send me an email with your experience, even if it goes poorly, the Lord will bless you because of your faith! Sister Shumway talked about the 20 seconds of insane fear right as you start to talk to someone and after that it goes away. So we just have to get over that 20 seconds of insane fear and sharing the gospel will become easier and the spirit will take over and you will know what to say. I know that is true! It has happened so many times for me and I know it will happen for you. If we just open our mouths and speak, they will be filled by the Holy Ghost.
I love you and miss you all! I hope everyone has a great week full of missionary experiences!
Me in front of Lisa’s
Garbage piles around her house
Dead turkey on the side of the road. Gross! Turkey season in Ava!
Broken pole from the tornado