Tuesday, October 21, 2014

LETTER 62: The one where Tessa tackles perfectionism

I always procrastinate writing my weekly letter home...hence why one didn't get sent last week haha. So in an effort to avoid that, I'm writing this first (: 

We have had just an amazing week. I can't believe all the progress our investigators are making, the self-discoveries I've had, the revelation for new ideas to try in our area that have come, and the list goes on and on! It's truly humbling seeing how much God qualifies us and leads this work. 
Here's a list of a few investigators that especially need some prayers at this time! I would greatly appreciate it (: Also a little snippet of info about them...
·  Siddhi H--has been taught for a while. Working to understand importance of organized religion
·  Nick--committed to be baptized and pray about a date!! He's so solid 
·  Kat S--Her sister got baptized a few years back. She is now learning and progressing right along
·  Gary J--working to have consistent lessons, come to church, and understand the Book of Mormon
·  Jeo S--trying to take a leap of faith and find out if God is really there
·  Amanda C--has been less-active for many years, but now is working to return to full activity
Thanks soo much! There's power in prayer.

We went on a couple exchanges this week. I was with Sister Redner and then Sister Taylor! Filled with miracles and fun, for sure. Me and Sis Redner walked up to a girl on the street and this conversation ensued...
Us: "Have you heard of the Book of Mormon before?"
Her: "Yeah!!! I heard it's way good, I've always wanted to read it!!" 
*jaws drop*
haha that's a response I've never gotten! We happily gave her one and should start teaching her soon.

My main topic of study and learning lately has to do with a tender subject for me. 
Not until I really started digging in and studying it did I realize just how much of an impact it's had in my life, as much as I wish it wasn't! It's a sneaky trap to fall into. God teaches us eternal progression and faith in the Atonement, while Satan teaches its counterfeit--perfectionism--which destroys confidence in ourselves and others, and takes us away from the enabling power of the Atonement. 

As I struggle about my imperfections, it just instills in me more awe of how magnificent that one perfect life was--that of the Savior Jesus Christ--and how absolutely dependent all of us are on the mercy that is extended to us through his atoning sacrifice. The determination to endure in this struggle is what can set us apart from others. Though our lives are not always a steady upward slope of progression--it's more like a rocky incline with dips and setbacks--we can be determined to get up and move on, despite how many times we slip. This fixed determination to 'endure to the end' has to be rooted in our faith of the Savior and the real power He has to save! We absolutely cannot rise above our mistakes without the help of Jesus Christ. 

What a great blessing it is to have weaknesses. They keep us humble and reliant on the Lord. Though as much as I can 'preach' these things, it requires a lot more effort to really internalize and apply them to myself! Slowly but surely, it's seeping down into my soul and I am patient as God is tutoring me in the ways of the Atonement.

I do love my Savior and my God. They are way too good. They provide the best way of living. I hope all of us can move purposefully forward along the path to greater perfection with a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunities God provides us--challenging as they may be--to become more like Him.

Love you all!

--Sister Bishop

Exchanges with Sister Taylor!
We were locked out of an apartment complex, and decided to run into the parking garage after a car so that we could get in. Jokes on us--the doors inside the parking garage were locked too, and we were caged in there for a little bit until the next car came in haha. Too funny.

Crashing the Northridge family ward's party for food! Desperate times...(;

LETTER 61: The one where Tessa gets free lunch


If you've ever wanted to see 20 missionaries at a bar...here you go. Haha (:
After doing service, a local restaurant offered to feed us free lunch. Super nice of them!

Matching with Sister Marlow again! 

LETTER 60: The one where Tessa appreciates the melting pot


It's been such a great week (: 

We had Mission Leadership Council, Zone Training Meeting, and of course--General Conference! A good line up for sure (: 

There's tons I want to say. Literally...TONS. But I'm short on time. 

This week, we started teaching Gary from Jamaica, Sunny from India, and Blessing from Nigeria! Our teaching pool is seriously so diverse. I love serving in a melting pot. I've learned a bunch about all different cultures and religions. It makes me appreciate that much more just what the gospel can do for people. No matter their background, culture, or current situation--the gospel is true for everyone and can help every single person. Like Elder Bednar said in Conference, "there is absolute truth in a world that hates absolutes."

One of my very favorite talks (along with most everyone) was Jorg Klebingat's. His straightforward talk on 6 steps for gaining confidence before God was very powerful! A recap from my notes (:
1. Take responsibility for your spirituality 
2. Take responsibility for your physical body
3. Embrace voluntary whole-hearted obedience
4. Become really really good at repenting thoroughly and quickly
5. Become really really good at forgiving
6. Accept trials and setbacks as part of God's plan

That's all for this week. Things are going very well. I love the things God is teaching me. I know this gospel provides the best way of life. It opens the way for us to reach our potential. 

Love you all!

--Sister Bishop

At the dentist for Sister Lewis (:

Unplanned matching with Sister Marlow at Conference!

Look how great this is! All of the Great California San Fernando Mission (: 

(Minus Pres and Sis Hall--they still have to photoshop themselves in)

LETTER 59: The one where Tessa Meets the Mormons

It seems like so much has happened that you all don't know about yet...it's weird having big things happen and just accepting it and moving on with life, then coming to email on Mondays and realize nobody else knows yet. Haha so the main big thing I'm referring to is (drumroll please...)

Our mission has been chosen to receive mobile devices in October!! Woohoo!!! We are going to be a pilot mission for a new training program they have. They also are still deciding between giving us iPad minis or the new iPhone 6's. I'm pretty excited (: I've said since the beginning that all I wanted was just one or two transfers with the 'new way' of doing missionary work, and it looks like that dream is going to become a reality! I'm very excited for it to roll out, and happy I'll be here for it. It will be super effective with YSA work because everyone is hooked on technology, so we'll be able to connect with them in more ways. Such a blessing!

Also on Wednesday, as a mission we were able to preview the new movie "Meet the Mormons," coming out on Oct 12. It is a church produced film, and they allowed us to see it at the Stake Center so we can encourage less-actives and investigators to see it (: It shows the lives of 6 people around the world and how they live their faith. Man, it was amazing. Made me laugh, made me cry. They did a great job with it. Overall I just left with a huge feeling of gratitude to be part of something so great. I'm proud to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love this gospel with my whole heart. I highly highly encourage you all to see it, and take friends!! It was not made with the intent to proselyte. It's not pushy or overbearing. It was made to increase understanding, not to teach doctrine. So it's a safe, entertaining, and easy way to share the gospel (:

We were privileged to have the general Women's broadcast on Saturday! It was such a treat (: they fed us a dinner outside under some lights, and they had a Waffle truck cater to us. That was a treat too (; I loved President Uchdorf's talk. He talked about "living the gospel joyful." The commandments God has given us are His loving words to His children. He is all-knowing and wants us to be happy, and has given us simple guidelines and commandments to light the path back to Him.

I feel like it's Christmas, I'm overjoyed to have General Conference this weekend!! It's my favorite weekend. Make sure to watch it (:

Anyways, this week was great. We had a ton of stuff come up--meetings, service, broadcasts, etc--and our investigators got super busy as well, which resulted in us teaching almost no lessons. Everything fell through. But it's ok! We were able to contact lots and had some great experiences and miracles (: 

There's so much I want to say. Tons I'm learning. But the most important thing God has been teaching me this week is how to rely on my Savior more. The Atonement is designed not only to free us from sin, but also to strengthen us in the presence of our weakness. Coming unto Jesus is the source of being happy and is the test of our existence. Our weaknesses are gifts from God to help us humbly rely on Him and love and assist others. We can grumble about our weaknesses and try to ignore them, or we can embrace the challenges to be stretched and to grow. This refining and polishing process is among the most sacred experiences we can hope for! I'm so grateful for a God who has a perfect plan in place that accounts for our weaknesses and short-comings, and has provided a way for us to overcome them.

That's it for this week, sorry to be so long-winded! Love you all.
--Sister Bishop

Transfer meeting! After 14 months straight of serving right alongside Elder Larman, he is returning home. Sad day!

And my Sister Naylor is now home in Prescott, Arizona! Miss her.

 Waffle truck!

Patio dinner (:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

LETTER 58: The one where Tessa tries to be a light, not a judge


Good news! I'm not getting transferred (: Which means I'm mostly likely finishing my last 2 transfers here in Northridge YSA! Woohoo (: I'm really happy and grateful. I love this area and the people here with all my heart. 

We've had exchanges this week, some great lessons, contacting--all that good stuff (: We have been teaching Nick, who is the most sincere, genuine guy! He asked us about baptism haha. And you know they're solid when they start taking notes during the lesson (; what I love very most about teaching is when it's the kind of environment where you're all learning from each other. I feel like each time we meet with Nick and various other investigators, it's like that. We all are uplifted and edified, which is how it should be and one key indicator that the Spirit is there. Teaching isn't about spouting off a message. It's about listening and loving the person. Letting God guide the discussion. It's beautiful and amazing, I feel so uplifted each time. 

We had the great blessing of going to the temple visitor's center with Siddhi! Janelle came with us as well. It was a lovely experience, the Spirit is just so thick there. We talked a lot about the importance of temples and having a modern prophet today. Something I love tons is that God never intended for His instruction to end at "Revelations" in the Bible. He didn't just give us one Bible for eternity and that's it. He follows a careful pattern, calling prophets and reaching out to us. He's given us the Book of Mormon today and tons of modern revelation and guidance. God wants us to know that Heaven is wide open! It's not over. His work moves forward.

Oh, also at the temple I had the lovely surprise of seeing my cousin, Lindsey (: Haha that was a shock! She was photographing a wedding there. Such a cool coincidence (:

One quote to carry around in your head:
"Be a light, not a judge."
Lift, encourage, inspire, and bless people, rather than judge. Let God's love flow through us and reach others.

That's all I got for this week (: Things are going great. I'm loving every second. Thank you for each of your examples. If you have anything you've been learning lately, please share (:

--Sis Bishop

Our district--I missed the memo about it being a silly picture haha

On exchanges at the CSUN campus--the letters spell CSUN from two different directions, it's pretty cool (:

I think I could live here forever.

Bishop Patton! He takes us to Panda Express for "secret lunch club" every week.

Temple trip with Siddhi and Janelle (:

LETTER 57: The one where Tessa subtracts herself


It's been a speedy week!

I've learned so much. We had Elder Carlson from the Seventy come to our mission, and we had an amazing Zone Conference. We've been teaching lots and lots, there's definitely no shortage of teaching appointments. There's never been a time like this on my mission! It's unreal. We haven't been able to be out contacting as much, which I love, but teaching is great. Can't complain one bit.

Speaking of teaching, that's the main gist of my learnings this week! Elder Carlson said that teaching is two things: Observing, and listening. Amen!! It's so true. When we really subtract ourselves, the Spirit is able to come in and be the teacher. And that's how it should be. Our purpose is to listen and observe. 

Something I've been working on is having every interaction uplift and edify the other person. Make them feel known, loved, and appreciated. Leave them a little better than I found them. That's the example Christ set for us. I'm sure He hugged a lot of people. Echoing last week's email--all He did, He did out of love. It's not so much about what He did, buthow

Another thing I loved from Elder Carlson--"People will only learn what they want to learn, when they want to learn it." That applies for all of us. We are like clay in the hands of our Potter. He loves us and wants to shape us. We can be soft clay--humble, submissive, faithful--and let Him shape us. Or we can be hard clay--He'll still work with us, but He might have to bring in a chisel and hammer to do so. It's our choice.

This gospel is amazing and true. It gives us a depth, meaning, purpose, and peace in life that can't be found elsewhere. God's way always works--100% of the time. We just need to turn to Him and rely on Him. Trust that if He brings us to something, He will bring us through it as well.

That's it for this week, love to you all!

--Sister Bishop

Our very first "Boba" drink! They're super popular here. 

At the paraplegic home this week, helping Nancy with her sewing craft. The elders were so focused haha (:

Today we went to a Guitar store--just sang and played guitar and made up songs. Heaven! (: 

LETTER 56: The one where Tessa finds golden plates


Another great week! 

We had MLC on Wednesday, it was all about becoming consecrated missionaries. Really inspiring (:

We found a few new investigators this week, all through our own finding efforts which is more rare in this area. Most of our investigators are found through referrals. This week, we met Joseph on the street and have started meeting with him. He is from Kenya and is soo funny and sincere. Alex and Kat are also new--Alex is the cousin of someone we know, and Kat is the sister of a recent convert. It's just the best meeting new people. I absolutely love it.

Not a whole lot else to report. Siddhi is doing so great and is super excited for her baptism! As are we (: It's going to be pushed back a couple of weeks, but will happen soon. We have just been working hard and I'm learning tons! 

Don't have a whole lot of time to share some of my learnings this week, but in a nutshell I'm discovering how important it is to give God our hearts. In the end, why we do what we do is more important than what we do. We need to do things with the right motives. Love. Eliminate our reluctance to reach out to others. Christ was not only our perfect example of what we should do, but why we should do what we do. As we fully dedicate our lives to God--giving Him our hearts, and our desires, whether good or bad--He will give us a better life in return. The only way to win is to lose. Lose our lives for God. When we do so, we will win and will live a better life. Sorry if this is all jumbled (: 

Love you all, have a good week!

--Sister Bishop

I love California.

Us in one room with Nancy, and the elders next door with Ricky (:

Joseph cooked us some authentic Kenyan food!  

All the English Sister Training Leaders at MLC. We all happened to coordinate with our blues and pinks and purples (:

Vickie! We curled her hair and painted her nails (:

Look what we found... (;  

LETTER 55: The one where Tessa sits with people at the bus stop


Not much to report on, seeing as it's only been 4 days since I last emailed! But a great 4 days, of course (:

We went on exchanges, I was with Sister Johnson. I love exchanges! So fun getting to learn and experience different things, and have a different perspective. Exchanges always prove to be revelatory. I'm super blessed to have had my mission full of exchanges! It's accelerated my learning for sure.

On Friday, we were able to meet a referral named Ben and have started teaching him! Funny story though--we knocked on his neighbor's door first, and a guy came and talked with us. He was pretty persistent and just wanted to argue. He said, "Listen. I've been drinking. And when I drink, I tell the truth. So listen to me. I'll teach you about Jesus." haha it was funny. We ducked out as soon as we could. You just can't teach the gospel to a drunk person, I learned that early on my mission. (: 

Saturday as well, we met another referral, taught him, and he came to church! His name's Hector. He was having a hard time with addiction withdrawals one day, and ran outside of his house. The Elders were right there (fancy that!) and were able to pray with him. Pretty cool story!

We found a super awesome place to contact. There's a bus stop over by the Northridge mall, and there are always YSA people just sitting there waiting to hear the gospel--practically asking to hear it (; I can't even begin to tell all the miracles we've seen there! It is my favorite thing in the world just sitting down with people and talking about their lives. Hearing their experiences and backgrounds, what they're learning or struggling with. When we listen with love, it really brings the spirit and the conversation easily transitions to the gospel. There have been quite a few people who we hope to start teaching this week! I'm in love with it. I decided I'm going to keep doing that at home--just sit with people and ask them about their lives (: Try it out--it's fun!

Due to some last minute schedule changes, we found out Saturday we'd be speaking in Sacrament meeting. Haha with no time to sit and write a talk, we just pulled some quotes from other talks and went with it! I talked about love--a lot of my talk was based of the BYU speech, "What if Love Were Our Only Motive?" by Russell Osguthorpe. It is such a good talk! Read it (:

I've been learning and studying a lot about commitment this week. First, some some quotes from a talk ("The Word is Commitment."):
·  We cannot become something without commitment
·  The direction in which we are moving is more important than where we are at the moment
·  Total commitment to correct gospel principles brings joy, satisfaction, and the abundant life
·  Commitment must be daily progression toward established purposes
·  To reap the full benefits of life, we must fill our days with commitment to worthy goals and principles. There is no other way. As these commitments lead us to action, we will find added growth and dimension which will guide us toward a productive life here on earth and open the door for eternal life with our Father in heaven. 
Now my own insights. We know that all things will be consecrated for our good (2 Nephi 2:2 "thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain."). We can allow experiences to change and shape us and bring us closer to God, or take us further from Him. God's plan is one of progression and growth. He wants us to use our experiences as building blocks to reach our potential. When we are committed to Him and living His gosepl--no matter what--we will reclaim all the blessings. All the experiences we have can teach us to trust in the Lord, and our ability to return to God through the Savior. Commitment is what brings the blessings. 

That's all for this week, I encourage each of you to deepen your commitment to God. Follow the first and great commandment--love God, serve Him, and have Him as #1 in your life. The rest will follow.

--Sister Bishop

LETTER 54: The one where Tessa yells out the car window


We had a lovely week! Actually...a lot has happened! As I'm flipping through my planner looking through the past 8 days, it just amazes me how much can happen and change in one week. So lets get started (:

We went on a few exchanges--first up, me and Sis Finau! We had the best lesson EVER with Siddhi. We taught the Plan of Salvation, and it was powerful. It Spirit really hit all of us, and confirmed everything--there was just no denying it's true. At the end, Siddhi just said "This is GodThis is what I've been waiting for. What's next Saturday? I want to be baptized." 
So long story short, we set a baptism date for her for September 13! (: She is completely solid in the gospel. She gets it. She's been baptized in many many churches, and has come to realize the importance of the Priesthood, of Joseph Smith, the uniqueness of the Plan of Salvation, and just all of these things...she gets it. And she's following it (: yay! Thrilled for her. She is the happiest, funniest, most loving and spiritually in-tune person you could ever meet. She recognizes truth when she hears it, and she's found the fullness here (:

On Friday and Saturday, we were able to volunteer at the "Relay for Life" cancer survivor run! We set up tables, chairs, filled balloons, hung signs, ran booths, got sunburned--all that good stuff (: My favorite was being able to have great conversations with people about their triumphs and battles in life--mainly cancer! And being able to reflect upon those close to me who have battled cancer as well. I'm grateful for a loving God who lets us have trials and experiences, and grateful for the comfort that comes from knowing His plan.

We had some other really great lessons and miracles throughout the week. We had a referral named Tyler to go see, so we get to his apartment and had to park quite a few blocks away (props of living in LA...street parking is impossible haha). We were debating if we wanted to try to see someone else or just walk it all, and we ended up going for it and walk. We finally get to his apartment and he's not home, but on the way out we talked to a guy from France (props of living in LA...people from all over the world (: ) and he was very interested in learning more! Miracle! As we're saying bye to him, a group of 3 guys walk through the door past us and I blurt out "are any of you Tyler?!" and one of them was!! haha we got him!! Taught him on the spot, and he's now investigating. He's great. So many miracles leading up to finding him (: God is good.

Yesterday we had interviews with President Hall, he is such an inspired man. Us and the Zone Leaders did some training for the missionaries the whooole day and it was revelatory. Then today we had district meeting and got to go to the temple for Sister Lewis's birthday trip! Yay (: It was lovely and also revelatory. Tonight we have a lesson with Chris--he got kicked out of his place and lost his phone, so we had NO way of contacting him the past three weeks. Then two days ago at a stoplight, he was crossing the street and I freaked out and started yelling out the car window to him haha so we get to continue teaching him! Woo (: God is good.

Little and big miracles all the time. It's the best thing in the world. I feel blessed with the knowledge that I'm right where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to be doing, and learning the lessons I need. Recently I'm learning how important it is to get rid of the natural man inside of us. That's a central purpose in our lives! Mosiah 3:19-- "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." We are learning to become Saints. It's made possible through Christ, and ONLY through Christ. I encourage each of you to look for little ways you can become as a child and submit to God's will. His plan is perfect and is the way to ultimate, lasting happiness. Love you all!

--Sister Bishop

Birthday girl!!! Turned 20 (: made her some lemon cookies and we got shakes (: 

Exchanges with Sister Finau

Legit (sketchy) Mexican restaurant with Rebeca (:

Our zone volunteered at "Relay for Life" this past week, a relay for Cancer Survivors. Best experience ever!

Emily's farewell yesterday--she's heading to Peru!

haha this kills me. Typical nice row of California palm trees...then one that's beheaded. Just looks like a giant stick in the ground!
Intense ping-pong game at Institute last night (: 

Temple this morning! My favorite temple ever. It has my heart.

LETTER 53: The one where Tessa's Got Bishop

What a great week (: 

We had a fantastic Sister Training Leader meeting this week. Something we talked a lot about was really developing unconditional love like the Savior. None of us deserve the Savior's love, yet He freely took our sins knowing it would be immensely difficult for Him. It's so important that we learn to represent Christ through our own 'Gardens of Gethsemane.' As we put on the altar of sacrifice our pride and pain, we can love people unconditionally. We can truly love people for who they are, not what they did--looking past their actions.

We've been teaching a bunch. Also working on creating some maps to organize our area better! We realized that the spirit has a really difficult time guiding us when we have no idea where we are or who's in the area haha so now we are really cracking down on organizing! It'll help lots to be able to be guided more where we need to be.

We went on exchanges this week and had a super revelatory experience. Learned tons! It's amazing how God has placed experiences in my life and taught me the things I need to know, so that on exchanges He can draw from them to guide me in helping the sisters. I really feel the greatest blessing is being an instrument in God's hands. There's nothing like walking away from a lesson, exchange, contact, etc. knowing that God was purely speaking through me. Not even remembering what I said, but knowing that it was what the person needed and the spirit was doing the talking.

There's much I could say, but it is harder than I thought to write out everything I'm experiencing and learning on my mission! God is way too good to me--and to each of us. He is always running to our aid. We don't have to cross the finish line to receive blessings from God. All He wants is for us to reach out to Him. I love this work with my whole heart! This gospel has made me happier than I ever imagined.

Thank you for all you do!

--Sister Bishop

My new companion! Sister Lewis (:

Got Bishop?

We've started volunteering twice a week at a Paraplegic home. This is Vicky! We painted with her this week (:

With Siddhi at church!

Bowling zone activity!