Monday, January 26, 2015

Michelle's Baptism!!

 Sister Barrett and I with Michelle. Isn't she just glowing?!

Their sweet family. I love them so much! So excited for Brandon and Michelle to be married on Feb. 21st!


The flu was only a small set back for such a fantastic week. We worked as hard as we could on Monday but went in for the night, seeing that I was throwing up untilWednesday. I know the priesthood blessings we received were so essential in our healing process. Otherwise, I have no idea how I would have been able to get upWednesday morning. But we did! Our efforts to find new people commenced. And so our incredible week begins..

We have done a lot of finding this week. We started focusing on using members to get new investigators rather than always resorting to simply tracting. Sometimes the members don't know anyone for us to teach, but they give us ideas of where to knock on doors. It's so important to let the members know how important their role is in missionary work. Our awesome new district leader, Elder Metivier gave us this statistic a few days ago: 1/1000 people who we find and teach on our own as missionaries will be baptized. 340/1000 people who are found by the missionaries and taught in members homes are baptized. 600/1000 people who are introduced to the missionaries by members and taught in member's homes are baptized. It is so incredible what members can do. It's been our main focus this week to find more people through the members.

Markeitha is doing great. We taught her about temples this week and we had Sister Johnson with us. She's a recent convert of just under a year, and she's good friends with Markeitha. It was so cool having Sister Johnson share her experience of preparing to go to the temple and how she got to take a tour through the Atlanta Temple before it was dedicated and before she was even baptized and how that experience drew her nearer. We invited Markeitha to Michelle's baptism and she came! It was perfect for her to come. It was very spiritual. I felt such a swelling within me throughout the whole thing. Michelle's fiance Brandon got the priesthood last week and was able to baptize her. They were both so nervous, but they were great. After trying a couple times to get her completely immersed, her sins had escaped her body entirely, and her face was beaming with happiness.. As she was changing in the back room, Sister Barrett and I could hear her crying. We were a little nervous, because her parents didn't show up and so we thought that upset her. I didn't want that to ruin her day. But she came out of the dressing room and she told us they were good tears and she was just so proud of herself for going through with it all. I am so proud of her for fighting off all the doubts she had and sticking true to the feelings she felt throughout her taking the lessons from us. I'm so happy she learned to pray in times of doubt and rely on the Lord. 

Sister Barrett and I sang Be Still My Soul after the baptism, and I had to fight so hard to control my voice shaking because I was just in tears. The profound happiness I felt that day changed something in my heart. Seeing Brandon and Michelle and their son Brandon Jr. together as a family unit singing the closing hymn "Families Can Be Together Forever", smiling so bright, watching Markeitha listen to everyone's testimonies.. everything about that day was perfect. This happiness is everlasting.

Sister Barrett and I work very hard every day. But I think one thing we have needed improvement on is using Preach My Gospel to help further the work and to improve our teaching skills, and understand our roles as missionaries much better. We started studying more about how to become Preach My Gospel missionaries. I can't even tell you how much it has effected our week. We started off with studying "A Successful Missionary". Something I've read a million times before, but needed it now. It tells us that discouragement weakens our faith. Meaning that no matter how many doors get slammed in our faces, no matter how many appointments fall through, etc. we need to avoid the discouragement. It doesn't make me a bad missionary, or a failure. Our success needs to be measured from within. Our success has nothing to do with another's achievements, or how many lessons are taught in a day. But it has everything to do with our commitment to bring others closer to Christ, out of sincere love for them and a desire for their salvation. "A successful missionary measures his success by the peace that comes into his heart from time to time when he can honestly say 'I am doing my best. I have a lot of weaknesses and a lot to learn. But I am with-holding nothing from the Lord. I am serving with all of my might, mind, heart, and strength. I am faithful and giving it all I have to give.'"

I have felt that peace. I have felt the true joy that comes from this hard work. The happiness I feel from seeing people change, as well as seeing myself change and learning to appreciate each blessing and live in every moment - this happiness is everlasting. It's learning to be content with where you are and who you are, yet always striving to improve and become something more. 

I love Georgia so much. I seriously love these people!
Sister Hendricks

Sister Barrett & Ugochi haha
Us with Sister Helsing! We love her!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

8-Day Week!

Sister Barrett is so great - I want to take her to Taiwan with me!


​I don't even know where to begin with this week! First of all, it was an 8-day week, since we had Martin Luther King day yesterday. Our president wanted us to work that day. So, today is our Pday! Hence the day late email.

It's been a fantastic week, seeing as Michelle is preparing for her baptism. She is overcoming the adversary on her own, and that's probably the best feeling as a missionary. Seeing someone change out of their own desire to change. Her entire countenance is so much brighter than before. It is so incredible what the gospel does for us when we allow it to shape us. I keep thinking about how this decision will change her marriage with Brandon and the upbringing of their son. They have no idea how much the Lord will bless them! It was so incredible seeing Brandon receive the Priesthood Authority.

Speaking of the priesthood, I feel to express my deep appreciation for it. We saw Michelle earlier this week at a member's home. She's been experiencing some doubt and fear about her decision. The father of the home offered to give her a blessing. I think it was the biggest turning point in Michelle's conversion. On top of her seeing Brandon's life change, and feeling the need for a remission of her sins from the past. She is so incredible and I am so excited for her.
We have a new investigator named "J". She's 37 and has 7 kids, all with different dads. She has been through a lot of abuse in her life:  physical, sexual, emotional. She's been involved in drugs, alcohol, and prostitution and she is just so ready to change her life. We don't think she is all the way there though, probably from the abuse over the years. It's kind of similar to teaching a 10 year old. We have to go really slow with her. But she is willing to change, and is on date for baptism! We'll see how things go with her.

Markeitha is doing great! Her boyfriend has decided to move out. She is heartbroken because she was hoping they could be married. But she's starting to realize that it's a blessing in disguise. She has referred to G as a temptation from the devil several times, but she is too attached to change anything about their living situation. She is just so ready to be baptized - she knows it's true despite the things G tells her, she loves reading the Book of Mormon, and she is really seeing how the gospel will bless her. We read 1 Nephi 8 with her about the Tree of Life and she loved it. It just makes so much sense to her! I just hope she can start thinking about baptism again.

So many great things that happened this week! However, unfortunately, I broke my streak of avoiding all sicknesses yesterday. Sister Barrett and I got the flu pretty bad. I'm hoping it won't last long so that we can get back to work. Stay away from the flu! It's miserable.

But on a happier note, I love being a missionary! And I love Georgia! My mission president in Taiwan said that 15 other the visa waiting missionaries have their paper-work being sent to them. There are still 13 who haven't received word though. Pray for me that I will be where the Lord wants me to be!
Sister Hendricks
He Jie Mei
Pictures from last week~
  At the end of the longest day of our lives!
 ​Our awesome district! Said goodbye to Elder Reni (far left) and Sister Malmberg (far right) at the transfer. 
 I love Georgia!
 A little TLC :)

Dinner with Markeitha and Sister Blakely

Monday, January 12, 2015

End of My Second Transfer

This week held a variety of experiences. It's just one big rollercoaster. I couldn't be more grateful for every day I have, and every thing I see and feel while I'm here in Georgia. I think I learned a little bit more about God's plan for us. Sister Barrett and I were getting so sick of recording our actuals for the night, and how they never seemed to meet our goals. How is that even possible? We had done everything in our power to be prayerful and mindful in our work. We had high expectations and high hopes. We were fearless in our work and determined to accomplish. How in the world were our actuals staying the same low number?

Sunday and Monday let us off to quite a rough start. Appointments cancelled, the weather was bitter, little to no success in our tracting... it was just devastating. However, we knew what our goals were and we knew we couldn't let those experiences get to us. So we pressed on, believing that we would succeed. The next morning, our first appointment with Michelle canceled. Sister Barrett and I just looked at each other with the fakest smiles on our faces, and looked through the phone for someone to go see. A thought came into our heads to go and see Sir James. It was a Tuesday, which is the only day he can see us while he works at his barber shop because it's so slow. It's been hard getting an appointment with him since he works everyday, so when we called him and he told us to come see him, we were so excited! So, we went and saw him, taught him the restoration and he accepted baptism! He is so great. He's probably in his 50's, and wants to know why there are so many churches on the earth, and which one holds the truth. He's just golden, and we wouldn't have seen him if Michelle's appointment didn't cancel. AND while we were teaching him, this man walks in - his name is Ziggy. He asked us what we were teaching and we told him a little bit about what we do as missionaries and gave him a card. Super nice guy. He leaves, and we continue teaching Sir James. After the lesson, we gave Sir James a Book of Mormon and went on our way. As we walked out of the barber shop, we saw Ziggy walking towards us. He said "Hey! I was on my way home, when a thought came into my head that I needed to come back and talk with you sisters. So I brought my bible, and I just have some questions that I was hoping you could answer." So of course we started talking with him and answered his questions the best we could, and he was very interested in learning more and also accepted baptism! It was seriously incredible.

I just know that the Lord is preparing a way for all of His children. He is just so mindful of us all! So I had to keep that in mind while we were tracting yesterday, because I don't think anyone could experience more rejection in such a variety of ways within the space of two hours than what Sister Barrett and I did. We were so pumped to get 2 new investigators, and pray with at least 7 people on this street. We knocked on about 20 houses, 95% of which were all home, and they ALL rejected us in one way or another. All of them! And it's not like they were very friendly people either. We experienced everything from getting the door slammed in our faces, claiming that THEY were true disciples of Christ, to people yelling at us to go away, to the "shooing away" with their hands.. everything. For two hours. Sister Barrett and I just stopped and looked at each other after a while in complete awe.

Rejection isn't what gets me down. But it was the many people I had just met that were so hard-hearted to our message and full of so much anger towards us, that made me feel really sad. That same godly sorrow. Most people wouldn't even give us the time of day to introduce ourselves because of the misconceptions they have against us and our religion. It was SO difficult to feel much motivation after that. But Sister Barrett and I walked to the last house on this street, with a prayer in my heart and we met Vicky and Steve. Steve answered and invited us in to get us out of the rain, and allowed us to pray with him. His wife was in the other room and said she wasn't presentable and didn't want to join. So I began to pray with Steve and Sister Barrett, and in the middle of my prayer, the music in the background turned off, and after the prayer his wife had joined us. She said she was so touched by the prayer and felt impressed to come join us. We shared with them a little bit about our message and they both invited us back to learn more.

And that's when I realized that it doesn't matter how much rejection I face, or how many times I feel that godly sorrow, or how much discouragement and disappointment I feel. Because experiences like that make everything worth it. Those experiences make up for every single doubt I have. Overall, I'd say this week was fantastic. Because of the incredible experiences we had outweighed the bad ones - to the point that I almost forgot about the misery I faced for hours at a time. I know that the Lord is just testing our faith right now, and it's hard to see the blessings that come from exercising our faith. But I know that they do come, and I know that I can't give up.

I hope you all have a great week! No news on the visa, but I've been waiting for a full transfer now, so we'll see what happens. Love you all!
Sister Hendricks

Monday, January 5, 2015

"Fear Not, I Am With Thee"

I had to!

I love being in Georgia! My companion is the best, our ward is so great, I love our investigators, and life is just good! If I go to Taiwan at the end of the transfer here, then that means I only have 10 days left in Georgia. And as bad as my Chinese is getting, I'm a little sad to say goodbye to this place soon. Part of me wants my visa to wait just a little longer, since I feel like I'm getting so attached to the people we teach. But I guess that's just part of being a missionary. Change will be good!

This week had so many ups and downs. I learned that I thought I knew what hard-work was. Luckily Sister Berrett is so awesome at picking us back up on our feet again. We just faced some discouragement after looking at our actuals at the end of every day. After a lot of prayer, and continuing on, we realized that we were lacking in something so essential - faith. Faith that we are in the right neighborhood at the right time. Faith that someone will answer the door and listen to us. Faith that we can find people to teach. Faith that we are following all of the spiritual impressions that the Lord gives us.

We thought a lot about that, and decided that we needed to believe that our investigators would continue to progress and experience conversion on their own, rather than just doing what we ask them to do. We needed to hope for miracles to happen. And after I thought about it, I realized that God does give us a million tender mercies a day. Even when we don't deserve it! But those tender mercies give us the motivation to get through at least the rest of the day.  I've learned that taking things a day at a time is essential to my progression as a missionary. I need to just take a breath, and work hard in the things I have control over.

This week, we had 4 of our investigators commit to come to church. Markeitha, Magali, Michelle, and Kavisha. Markeitha is so awesome. Sister Berrett has been teaching her for months, and she knows the gospel is true. She reads the Book of Mormon as often as she can, and she LOVES meeting with us and asking us questions about what she reads. The only thing holding her back is her fiancĂ© is very against organized religion. Specifically LDS, because he has gotten into a lot of Anti. Markeitha is so strong though. She knows the gospel is true because of what she has experienced from our visits. She is just incredible. The other night, G (her fiancĂ©) called us and asked us a bunch of questions he had about some anti material he had read online. It was really hard because I knew he just wanted to bash with us. All we could do really was refer him to, where they have questions and answers about common concerns that our apostles and General Authorities have answered. But if someone doesn't even have a softened heart to our message, then the Spirit will never testify to them the truth.

Magali is pretty solid, too. Sister Berrett met her on her doorstep a few weeks ago, and they prayed with her and had a super spiritual experience but then for a few weeks, she wouldn't get back to them, and avoided calls. But then randomly the other night we got a text from Magali that woke us up. She said she was sorry for not getting back to us, but she wanted to come to church. So we taught her a couple of days later, and it was so awesome. A member came with us and the spirit was so strong in her home, it brought Magali to tears. She has a husband who is in jail, and a 2 year old daughter. She wants to know if he can be forgiven, and she wants to know what she can do to live her life right. She came to church with us yesterday and she loved it! I'm so excited for her.

Michelle is also amazing! Her boyfriend (well now they are engaged!), Brandon got baptized a month or so ago. She kind of took the lessons with him, but wasn't really interested until she saw how much the gospel changed Brandon. They have a kid together, his name is Brandon Jr. and Michelle wants to know how she can be with her family forever, and raise her son right. She has been through so much and was so touched by our message of the Atonement, and how we can be cleansed of our sins. She is on date to be baptized! Hopefully I will still be here to see it :)
I don't know much about Kavisha, but the one time we met with her, she said she knew there was something she needed to change about herself. She said God has been telling her to change for some time. She didn't come to church though, and she always flakes on our appointments. So we don't know what will happen with her, but I know there is potential in her!

Definitely the hardest part about this week was Felicia. We met Felicia by going door to door. She has MS, and a speech impediment. She is a single mother of two boys (7, and 10 yrs old) and she works full-time. When we met her, I felt like it was an answer to my prayers because it was after knocking on doors for an hour and a half with no success before we got to her front porch. She invited us back, and we brought a member with us to teach her to first lesson. It went so well, and she really liked learning about Joseph Smith. But we were so dumb, and we forgot to bring a Book of Mormon to give her. She said to come back in the morning to bring it. So the next day, we called her on our way to her house to make sure she was still there, and she said she needed some time to think about things. She said she spoke with her mom, and doesn't want to leave her Baptist church and her mom told her some things about our religion that apparently she didn't like..

I can't even begin to explain the sadness I felt. Sister Berrett explained it to me as Godly Sorrow. I think that was the first time I've ever felt that. I don't understand how someone could feel the Spirit testify to them so clearly, and then turn away from it so quickly because they went to the wrong source. It honestly broke my heart, because I know how much the gospel will bless her and her boys. I know that she felt something burning in her heart. The confusing thing to me, is that I had known this lady for just under a week, and I just loved her so much.

That night, I couldn't stop thinking about it and the thought came into my head "fear not, I am with thee". And then again in the morning during personal study "fear not, I am with thee." I looked up that verse in Isaiah 41. Then during sacrament meeting, the first hymn we sang was "How Firm a Foundation" where the fourth verse references the scripture. And I knew the Lord was trying to tell me something. He has a plan, and He will take care of Felicia and her boys. She still has her agency, and that's something I just need to accept. As long as I know I did everything in my power to testify to her.

Well, that was a quick summary of my week! I felt obligated to write a little bit more, since I haven't taken the time to do so yet. I really love it here! I miss you all, and I hope you all have a great week.

Sister Hendricks

Happy New Year from Sister Berrett & Sister Hendricks