Mother’s Day

A message from Mom:

What a wonderful gift the Prophet gave when he set the rule that allows missionaries to talk to their families on Mother’s Day.  It was a much anticipated hour, set aside on Sunday evening.  I sincerely apologize to any family member who tried to call during the 3 hours we were at church or the hour we were with Jessica.  I love each of you, I cherish each moment I spend in communication with you – I miss seeing you daily, hugging your children, our sweet grandchildren.  But, that hour was not to be disturbed.  That hour was one of those moments in life when you get to sit back for just a brief pause and say, yes, Heavenly Father, we understand that life is meant to help us grow, to stretch us to challenge us.   But with our deepest gratitude, we thank thee for this moment to realize it is all amazing and wonderful.

It was so good to hear her voice.  It has only been 2 months and we email and write letters- but it was still so good to talk to her.  Jessica sounded happy and strong – her confidence is growing. She is surrounded by good people.  There is a family with twin boys who just love her, I think she said the boys are five.  Transfers came last Saturday, Jessica stayed in the Saco area, she is a trainer already.  It puts a different perspective on her studying.  She said that they were just arriving a church last Sunday – the day after the transfers were announced, and she was feeling overwhelmed by this new responsibility.  She looked up and saw President and Sister Wilkey (her mission president and his wife)  The time spent with them was just what Jessica needed.

Jessica said she  came out of the MTC excited and ready to share the gospel – but was surprised that most of her time is spent studying and working with inactive ward members.  They have no investigators right now.  They hear about all these other missions – its hard not to compare.  She said that there are a lot of Catholics where she is, who are not really used to the way our church works.  As she was talking, I thought about my family – being raised as a Catholic, I understand what she is saying – lots of tradition – old family ways.   The families who do  join, often get baptized because of a spouse .  Jessica is learning the difference between being a member of the church and being truly converted to the gospel. She is discovering that her membership in the Church is much much more than showing up to the ward building on Sundays.  The investigators will come as she continues to smile and talk to people – they will see her light and wonder why she is so different.

Jessica described  her days:   wake up, study, eat lunch, visit a less active family, attempt to go tracting, eat dinner and visit some more less active families.  Two of the days they teach (when they have investigators, which I guess is not now).  They have district meeting on Wednesdays and on Saturday they have coordination meetings with the Elders and the Ward Mission leaders.

Growing up in Utah you learn to navigate by the mountains.  This is not the case in Maine – Jessica had to buy a GPS.  Her area right now is down in the South Eastern corner of the state -right on the ocean.  She said it is so hard to be there.  Growing up in Utah, you don’t learn to appreciate the sound of the waves and the power of the water.  She just wants to sit and absorb the wonders of the ocean – but of course, there is not time for that.

There were some tender moments between mother and daughter for which I will always be grateful – I turned the phone over to Dad and Sarah, each had their time with her.  (If you want to talk to her, come over for Christmas, or better yet, stay home so I can have her all to myself)

We put the phone on speaker and Jessica bore her testimony during the final minutes of our call – she spoke of her love for the Savior, and for the gratitude she feels for the the strength of Joseph Smith to be able to endure so much for the Lord and the gospel.  She spoke of her gratitude and love for Dad and I – and each member of our family and the example each has been to her.  I could feel the tenderness of my little girl but I heard and felt the power of a great missionary.

I love Jessica so much – I love each of you for making me sit down and write this – there is so much in my heart that is hard to share but this has been good,  so though  I am now late getting to run and get ready for work, it is worth it.  Please continue to keep my dear daughter’s efforts in your prayers, that the one or maybe ten people who are truly waiting to be taught the message of the gospel will be put in her path at this time.  I love you all, till next week. . .

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May 1st

Sorry to take so long to post this.  Jessica emailed Monday, here are some notes from Dad’s email:

After this week you should probably use the mission office address, just because I don’t know if I’m getting transferred to a new area next week or not. I love getting your letters. They make the week seem brighter if it has been a rough day.
That’s no fun that Michelle had to go back to Running Springs but it sounds like you really had a good visit with them. Except for poor Sawyer’s ear ache.
I’m not going to lie this week has been rough. I feel like every suggestion I give is constantly thrown out the window. I’m being more involved in lessons now but I still feel like I’m not worth anything to my companion. But I’ve been studying a lot and constantly praying. I can see how Heavenly Father has answered my prayers. He has given me such a wonderful ward to work with. Every time I’ve felt down one of the ward members would make me feel like I was gold. The ward members are such a blessing.
We had Zone meeting this week and in a discussion Pres. Wilkey asked the junior companions to tell of an experience they had with prayer. One of the scriptures we talked about was Alma 34. I can’t remember the exact verse, but it was the one that talks about “pouring your soul out in your closet”. Anyway, I love that scripture because it always makes me think of you and how I have gained such a strong relationship with my Heavenly Father because of you. I love you Dad and would  be no where without you! 
So there are these funny twin 6 year old boys in my ward. Their names are Atticus and Thaddius, and they are in love with me. During sacrament meeting Thad kept putting his hand on my knee and at one point tried to sit on my lap (we can’t hold little kids). It’s so funny because Sister Merker (one friend of the family) always panics a little and has to continually remind them we only give high fives to the Sister Missionaries. They’re so funny. Atticus told me, “You just need to get with me” At least I know if I can’t find a husband I can come find these boys haha. They’re so funny. 
Well I love you Dad and hope you have a good day. I’m jealous of your nice weather. I don’t think it’s gotten warmer than 65. I love you! Have a good day! 
Oh will you tell me stories you remember with Grandma and Grandpa Vanderhoef? I heard an apostle say we can still build relationships with our family members that have already passed away. I was hoping that by continually hearing stories of them they wont seem so far away. Anyway, I love you!
 
Here are a few notes from my email.  Mostly I get the business end – I guess I need to ask better questions – but its ok, I am just so grateful for this whole experience – I love what Jessica is doing.  I love the choices she is making. 
So, Jessica said, “I saw a wild turkey on Saturday! It was just walking in the yard at the ward mission leader’s house. I got really excited.

Oh after this week just send mail to the mission office. I might be transfer next Tuesday and it will take forever to get letters if they’re sent here

transfers are every six weeks. There’s a chance I could be a trainer this next transfer, but it’s almost certain I’ll be on the transfer after that. I think we get 9 sisters this transfer and like 20 the next.

Right now they’re just adding sisters to areas with elders. They just split the area in half. It’s so good to have both though because we have two towns that have pretty much no members just because it seems almost impossible for one set of missionaries to cover all our area. That’s just the sister’s part of our area. The elders have a two towns like that too. So yeah they’re just adding Sisters to areas and I’m sure they will eventually split areas into smaller areas because they’re huge!

People out here are really nice. We haven’t done a lot of tracting but we need to. We only have two investigators and we need to find more. I have to get going though. I love you and will write you a letter today. Bye!