Tuesday, March 29, 2016

I have had diarrhea since easters...

(I've been waiting a long time to use this quote for the subject line)

I dunno guys, this week was pretty boring-ish, I'll be honest.

A lot happened but it's not worth putting a lot of detail into it so I probably won't.

JOHN--sorry I was dramatic last week, but it was a dramatic time. This week we were weekly planning and received MAJOR revelation about how to help John. It sounds dumb and like we should have known it before, but the Spirit told us before we move on to anything else, we need to help him quit smoking. So that's what we are gonna do! We decided he's not going to receive any answers or feel the spirit completely until he quits, so this is the solution. If anyone has any tips, that would be swell. We are still seeking answers to that. Also we created this beautiful, wonderful chart to help him read the Book of Mormon with more purpose and understanding and he says it's been WORKING! Ahhh thank you Heavenly Father... Even if it's little by little, John is progressing. :)

Other fun thing: I don't know if you will remember this, but a few months ago, I wrote about a guy named Terry who stole Sister Russell's Bible...GOOD NEWS. I GOT IT BACK. It was the most embarrassing/awkward situation yet. But he says he wants to come to General Conference this week so that's a major WOO.

(Random other fun thing: This week we went contacting at the park and randomly ran into our favorite best friend Kate from the ward, who was hanging out with her boyfriend. We attacked her and majorly embarrassed them, fun stuff. Then we creeped and it was good times. Pictures included)

I really am trying so hard to think of other things to say... there wasn't all that much.

The last month has been really hard, as I'm sure you've read in previous weeks. A lot of missionaries have told me that most people go through 4 or 5 Refiner's Fires during their missions, and I'm coming to really understand that more for myself. I've been through one major one already, and I guess this is just one more of those. Heavenly Father sure is good at helping you realize what your weaknesses are...but also what you're really good at! I KNOW THAT HE IS MINDFUL OF ME.

Okay, I'm really sorry this is a lame one, but I love you all lots.

--Sister Lawson

1. Good news, I finally have a picture of JOHN! In all his glory...back brace, cane, camo, BlueTooth headphones, rabbit cage, wheelbarrow, Duck Dynasty shirt...yep, this picture is the essence of John. Sorry it took me forever to show you what he looks like, but it's awkward to ask a 33 year old man if you can take a picture of him.
2. This is called pollen gathering in the water, and apparently this isn't even bad yet. DO YOU SEE HOW MUCH POLLEN THAT IS?????
3. Me being cute with Kate and Boyfriend <3
4. This week I was eating a cupcake and Sister Howell ambushed me and made fun of me :(

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I hate emotions...

Yep, remember how last week was a major bummer? GOOD NEWS: This week was better(ish)!

I'm going to focus on one major event that happened this week. A part of me is hesitant to share this but oh well:

So you know john right? John that I've been teaching for my entire mission? The one with a back injury John? That john? THE ONE I HAVE MENTIONED IN JUST ABOUT EVERY EMAIL JOHN???
Okay we all know who john is. This week we had a very special, spiritual experience with john that may or may not be the REAL highlight of my mission so far. For 5 months, I've been teaching this man John, and we have become really close, and I care about him a lot. Teaching him has been incredibly slow and we haven't really seen all that much progression. He's hit and miss on his commitments, cancels appointments regularly...For the last few weeks, we've been heavily considering dropping him just because it's been majorly hard to get anywhere with him. The priesthood has been extremely hard for him to understand and I'm pretty sure I've taught him about the Restoration at least 5 times. (not an exaggeration). But last week, he FINALLY understood the definition of the word "priesthood"=the power of God given to his servants to act in His name. THIS IS IMPORTANT.
Thursday night John called us around 9:30pm and he was an absolute mess. He was sobbing and told us that he just didn't think he could handle life anymore and he didn't understand why God was doing this to him. Literally such a mess. I had no idea what to do, i was pretty speechless actually. Thankfully Sister Howell is much better with situations like this and she tried her darndest to comfort him. He was pretty lost.
Then we asked him if he wanted a PRIESTHOOD blessing and he said yes of course! We quickly called up the Austins (the bomb.com family in our ward) and asked Brother Austin if he could go give john an emergency blessing for his back injury. Then we waited for about 45 minutes....
10:20 rolls around (almost bed time) and JOHN CALLS US. He said "THAT WAS AWESOME. I can't even explain to you what happened but as soon as Bro Austin laid his hands on my head, the pain was gone. I want to have that power. I know that came from God, and I want to be able to bless my kids just like that man blessed me. I'm ready. I'm ready to be baptized! I want it!" AND I CRIED. I wish you all could have heard the excitement in his voice, it's so hard to explain. I have worked tirelessly with this man for my entire mission and to hear him finally say that and finally understand, I can't even tell you how happy I felt. aka-EXTREMELY happy.

The next day, we planned on going to teach John and follow up with him, and as we were literally on the threshold of our apartment leaving to go teach him, he sent us a text that said "This isn't going to work, going to the hospital now, I'm sorry". AND I CRIED. My heart literally broke and shattered into a trillion pieces. (#dramatic). But that's how i felt...EXTREME sadness.
As ashamed as I am to say this, I started to question Heavenly Father and thought things like "How could you do this to him? Why would you help him and then take it away just like that? He was so close....Why now?". I kind of just sat on the floor and cried and prayed for a good while. I was so confused and upset and sad...I hated feeling that way. I was mostly just concerned that john's testimony would be completely shattered because he wasn't "healed". I didn't know what would happen to him--if we'd lose him, if we'd be able to save it, if we could recover....Basically it was a really hard day.
I'm still really confused about what happened at this point even as I'm writing this email. I still don't really understand why He would give John that small taste of relief for a few hours, and then take it away just as easily. I still don't understand what God was trying to teach John, or what God was trying to teach me through that experience. But one verse of scripture has repeatedly gone through my mind since yesterday:

(1 Nephi 11:17) "I know that He loveth His children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things."

It's so so simple, but there is so much meaning behind those words. God's ultimate purpose is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39). In other words, HE WANTS TO MAKE US HAPPY---> "Men are that they might have JOY". (2 Nephi 2:25). What loving parent does not want more for their children?
I testify to YOU that God wants so much more for you, me, we, he, she, they, them--ALL OF US.
I feel like I share this almost every week, but GOD LOVES ALL OF US SO MUCH--I can't tell you enough how true that statement is! I have been rebuking myself since that morning for ever doubting God and His purposes. I realize now that know nothing. As much as I thought I knew John and what he needed, i didn't. I know that God loves John so much, and that although I may think he is being a "bad parent", He knows His child so much better than I do. He has a purpose for this and truth will triumph! I'm just going to have to wait and see what God has in store for John in the next few weeks... I'll keep you posted.
RANDOM: People ask me all the time what's the hardest thing about being on a mission. Overall, the hardest part for me being on a mission by far has been the emotional exhaustion. I really feel like prior to my mission, (correct me if I'm wrong) I was pretty much at the same level emotionally most of the time. I would have small occasional dips of sadness, or small occasional peaks of super-happiness, but for the most part I remained pretty content and happy. On a mission, I can go from EXTREME happiness to EXTREME sadness in a matter of hours (as you can see, I experienced it this week hardcore...0 to 60 in one night) and that seriously has totally drained me. Gah, it's hard....

That's about all I have time for this week!
Til next time,
Stay thirsty my friends.

Sister Lawson

PS--ERIKA IS BACK. The court case didn't go the way it was supposed to...
PPS--we rose to Stake Conference with Sister C and Franklin this week and that was literally the highlight of my life
PPPS--We found another 14 year old GIRL.... heaven help me.
PPPPS--Everyone please google "Virgin Mary Conyers GA" as soon as possible so that my pictures make sense.
PPPPPS--Sister Howell and I majorly clashed this week in regards to favorite chick-flicks and now I have lost all respect for her. All who love "A Walk to Remember" please raise your hand and leave. BYE
This is a freaking dinosaur......We saw it in a perfectly normal neighborhood. We were driving by and I did a double take and slammed on the brakes and reversed.....We stopped some dude in his yard and asked if he knew about it and he said no so we gave him a Jesus card and left with the determination that we would return and knock on the door and ask why these people are so cool and them commit them to be baptized by someone holding the proper authority of God:)
(ignore that run-on)
And this is called: False doctrine :) (except for that little book of truth in my hand)
Don't we make a lovely couple.
So you're probably wondering whether or not Sister Lawson and I switched to Catholicism? Nay. The story goes as follows:
We went to stake conference yesterday in Jonesboro with a member and we were driving back home through Conyers. Conyers Georgia is full of many wonderful things, including this lovely apparation site of the Virgin Mary. OK SO APPARENTLY this lady, way back in the day, claimed that the Virgin Mary appeared to her in her house and told her stuff...so then this lady told all of these other people about this "stuff" that the Virgin Mary told her and they all gathered around her house in these HUGE fields every year to hear the "stuff".  Then one year, this lady decided to "retire"....and they made her house and fields a memorial site.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Sister Lawson's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. (I promise, this ends good though)

Yep, you read that title right!

I'm "done" with this week in every sense of the word.

1. WE GOT A NEW CAR!!!!!!! :) (**I would like to inform you all that I've had more cars than companions my whole mission). He's a beautiful, brand new, fresh-off-the-lot 2016 Ford Fusion... and he's bright blue. This is not a joke. Sister Howell and I have decided to name him Dayeqkwon (Day-Kwon) (it's an Atlantified name). As awesome as this might sound, it's not because brand new cars have lots of problems we found out this week, and this was the major cause of our stress and sadness. Most of our week was spent at the dealership dealing with "high tech electronic hydraulics systems and computer issues" and I don’t even know what most of those words mean. In other words--this week was bad because our car was majorly broken and un-driveable, and our appointments were way too far for us to even think about walking to them. (Sister Howell included more details on this in her email because I’m mad and don’t want to think about Dayeqkwon anymore)

2. Erika is probably heading to court right now and probably going back home, which is happy but also so sad...we were really close with her. Last night, we went to say goodbye and that was really tough--harder than I thought it would be! She comes from a really rough home life and has had some super traumatic things happen to her already, and she's only 11! As soon as Sister Howell and I got into the car, we just bawled and bawled the whole way home... it reminded me of a lot of the girls I had at Oakcrest--rough home lives, but never being able to find out what happens to them, if they'll be okay, or who they grow up to be. That was really hard.

3. SEVERAL other really bad and stressful things happened one after another that I don’t want to talk about.

4. To top it all off, the world forgot to tell the missionaries that DAYLIGHT SAVINGS WAS YESTERDAY. My question is: How are missionaries supposed to know about these things? Just use your imagination for what happened there.

Over all, nothing went right all week long.

BUT! I want to tell you all about the coolest drop of awesome (Being a missionary really makes you hate the word "miracle", therefore I call them "Drops of Awesome" instead.) of all time that happened this week. DO NOT SKIP OVER THIS PART. IT'S IMPORTANT. Seriously, you'd think you were reading an Ensign article or something:

For those who don't know how missionary planning works, every night we plan out our next day and pray about it. So Tuesday night, we planned out Wednesday, had tons of appointments set up and were excited for an awesome day. I prayed at the end and said "Heavenly Father, if there is anything we need to change about our schedule tomorrow, please do that for us" (I NEVER SAY THIS IN PLANNING PRAYERS, but something told me to this time).

So Wednesday morning, we are getting ready for the day and start getting text after text of people canceling on us and I was like "Oh great, here it goes. What did I pray for last night?" we had absolutely nothing left to do for the day. Our schedule was completely blank--this is bad news when you're a missionary, you should always be busy.

So we proceeded to try to find things to do for the day, and we were feeling really sad and sick and burnt out, so we decided to go take a breather and get some ice cream. While we were sitting there eating, I noticed this neighborhood that I have NEVER seen before. (SIDE NOTE: I have worked in this area for 6 months—I have been in every neighborhood, down every street, seen every house. Seriously, for me to see somewhere I’ve never been is a big deal). At that moment, I heard God tell me with a clear voice: "Go into that neighborhood".

We finished up our ice cream and walked over, knocked every door, had no success, and I thought, "okay Heavenly Father, what am I missing?" and we started to walk away. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw this little white truck with some guys sitting there eating their lunch. At that moment, my legs were completely magnetized to this car--something literally dragged me to it because I don’t remember a single thing about how I got over there. We started talking, and I randomly started asking these guys how they were really doing because I felt like something about their day was really sucky. They initially said they were fine and we got talking and joking around and stuff, and all of a sudden, this guy Willie gets out of the car and starts SOBBING. He had tears streaming down his face and he said to us, "you guys gotta help me. I am struggling so much, my life is a mess and I need your help. I know you were angels sent to me today" WHAAAATTT???? So so so crazy. Every single thing that happened that day led us to come and talk to this man and help him out. IT WAS AWESOME. It sounds fake, but this honestly happened.

Okay I have so many other spiritual thoughts and things I want to share with you about what I learned this week because I really did grow so much (even though I'm trying to be very light hearted about how hard this week was for me emotionally and spiritually) but I'm out of time! So I guess you'll just never know....

I'd like to leave you with this quick parable our District Leader told us in an attempt to make us feel better on our crappy day (it didn’t really work, but it's funny nonetheless):

The Parable of the Chopped Daisies by Elder Roper:
"Imagine for a second that you are surrounded by a field of beautiful daisies. It smells pretty, the sun is warm and shining, and you are happy. One day you wake up, and go to run through that same field of happy daisies, and discover that all of those daisies have been CHOPPED DOWN! You think "Oh no! What do I do?" Then the spirit tells you "Be happy and chill. THOSE FLOWERS WILL GROW BACK!" "

Moral of the story/interpretation: GOD GIVES US HARD DAYS AND WEEKS SOMETIMES. But we must always remember that it will always get better. ALWAYS.

Stay sassy, Sister Lawson

1. CENTERVILLE DISTRICT (I'm officially the grandma of my original district...no one is left)
2. New WHIP: Dayeqkwon AKA Satan
3. Sister Howell taking a breather on a rough day
4 & 5. All Erika wanted to do was take selfies on our last night together so there ya go
6. Us and Erika! And me holding a baby as much as I'm allowed to
7. CUTE baby Bryan :)

Monday, March 7, 2016

6 Months in the Mission Field

Okay y'all, the Springtime in Georgia is BEAUTIFUL. If anyone ever wants to visit, only go between March and May, okay? No humidity, no wind, just beautiful, soft crisp warmness and joy. But stay away from the first part of April because apparently there is this crazy pollen thing that goes on...haven't seen it yet but I'll keep you updated.
Also all the bugs are coming out, especially at night...imagine the swampiest of all swampy sounds you can think of, and that's what it sounds like. At first I thought it was lots of frogs ribbetting (is that even a word? I feel like it's not), but it is most definitely bug sounds. NASTY

(I don't feel like anyone actually reads these emails)

I WILL BE STAYING IN SNELLVILLE ANOTHER 7 WEEKS! I will have spent more than 1/3 of my mission here. For a while i thought I'd be upset if I was called to stay longer because sometimes I feel like I've done all I can do for this place. 6 months is a long time. But after this week, I know that Heavenly Father has his eye on this little town in Georgia and there is so much more work for me to do. We found a lot of PREPARED people who have just been waiting to find the truth! So now i am content with staying. :) I ain't ready to leave yet!

Current updates:
Erika: Still doing AWESOME. She came to church yesterday again! On the 14th, she has a court date so we'll see what ends up happening. She may go back with her mom, so we'll end up referring her to the sisters where her mom lives and that will be that. Erika is so special, it will be really heart breaking to see her go. 

John: We have not seen him in a long time... he went out of town and we just haven't heard from him. 

Okay these are COOL things:

Rainy and family: DO YOU REMEMBER THEM FROM A FEW MONTHS AGO???? They're the cute little Indian family, and THEY'RE BACK. We just felt super prompted to go stop by really quick and they welcomed us in so warmly. Ah! I love them. We're meeting with them again this week so I'll let you know how it goes.

Almari: He was my waiter at Waffle House that I met on exchanges with the sisters in Jonesboro. (For whatever reason, I always have these randomly awesome miracles in Waffle House hahaha). We got to have a really cool lesson on the Plan of Salvation right there in the middle of Waffle House and he was shocked when I told him I knew the answers to the "hard questions" (why are we here, where are we going...etc). We gave him a BoM and some good old 3 Nephi 11 action, so I'll be getting back to you on that. I feel good about him though! He had just moved here from Chicago 2 months ago and didn't really know why, but because we are missionaries, we were super bold and just said "Well maybe because you needed to hear this, and it will change your life...blablabla"...yep PREPARED.

DOROTHY: She is a lady who was previously taught by missionaries from Ghana who we actually went and taught this morning on our P-day! (#Dedication). She told us that a long time ago, she had been praying to know which church would bring her the closest to God and which one was the "true one" for her to join. The next day, SISTER MISSIONARIES (not us) showed up at her door, and she knew her prayer had been answered! But then...the missionaries never came back. *FACE PALM*. Today we talked about her expectations, what she was looking for, her religious background yadda yadda and closed with the importance of the Book of Mormon and how she could come to know it was true. She was so interested, and you could tell the spirit had really touched her. She promised to read and we'll be seeing her this Thursday! AH DOROTHY IS SO COOL

Mina: This isn't set in stone yet, but I'm still so excited about it. Mina is Joshua Samuel's (a youth in the ward) best friend who has been coming to church with him for forever. (Also she's 12...YET AGAIN, I TEACH A GIRL 12 OR UNDER. #OakcrestBlessings). Earlier this week, she told him that she really wanted to be baptized and loved coming to church. We are hopefully gonna get some lessons rolling this week after she asks her mom's permission, but yeah. we are so excited about that!

BIGGGGG THINGS ARE HAPPENING. I couldn't be more excited for the next 7 weeks! 

Okay bye everyone.
God bless America, and God bless you guys.

Sister Lawson

Fun things: 
1. I got a Georgia State Onesie at Goodwill last P-day for $3 (pics to come)
2. Sister C got up and BORE HER TESTIMONY this Sunday! I bawled my eyes out. This is huge deal guys, you have no idea.
3. Our fave less active wants to prepare for the temple <3 :) (also a big deal, because up til 2 months ago, she had been completely inactive for 5 years and was basically a J-Dub)
4. I played with lots of sticks this week and also got lots of really big slivers. However, I performed good surgery on myself and only got ONE really big cut. So moral of the story: don't play with sticks because slivers.
5. Quote by Sis Howell: "Ouch, I really need to get a pediatrician to look at my foot"...me: "you mean podiatrist"

1. University of GEORGIA ONESIE
2. Snellville being pretty
3. Me being really white and playing with sticks (SUMMER TAN IS COMING SOON, I promise)
4. Sis Howell is 9 months old <3
5. Us and Erika!