Saturday, July 30, 2016

Happiness is the object and design of our existence...


I am kind of out of time but there were a few quick things I really wanted to talk about so i'll do that!

1. I'm really proud of myself because we knocked on tons of doors for my first time ever in PTC and it wasn't even that bad! Prior to this, we never tracted because like i said, the area is tiny and everything has been knocked at least 3 times in the last year. Nothing really came of it, but still--the fact that we did it, and the fact that i hate knocking on doors but did it anyway and the fact that people didn't yell at us too much was a miracle itself. So i'm proud of that.

2. We visited with Mr. EJ again this week and HE AGREED TO READ A FEW CHAPTERS OF THE BOOK OF MORMON! 
But the best thing about this whole visit was this: "Ladies, since you've started coming to see me, you've brought life back into me. I'm 96 years old and to be honest, i was just tired of living. But you girls have brought me back on track and made me want to be a better person. I'm really grateful for you, and you young ladies are family to me now." 
OH, MY HEART! I never thought that I'd have a 95 year old best friend, but I do. I love Mr. EJ so much! He's going to be the hardest thing to leave behind in PTC when the time comes. He wants me to bring my future husband back to Georgia so he can meet him one day and he really wants us to be there for his 96th birthday party in October hahaha. Oh that man... <3

3. I had a lot of really special experiences this week as I was reflecting on my time here in PTC. The last few months here have really been the hardest of all of the months I've been out. I've been struggling with a lot of things, and I have honestly been having a hard time finding joy with what I've been given, and with being able to do the Lord's will.

While studying this week to find some answers to questions, I came across a talk called "Line Upon Line: Finding Joy in Progress" by Douglas F. Prawitt that honestly changed my life and helped me to understand even more why God gives us weaknesses and why it's important to strengthen them, as well as the role that charity and love play in our discipleship. A few quotes that meant the most to me were:
"Some people I've encountered seem to believe that we are here to prove to God, to everyone around us, and even to ourselves that we can and do live all of the gospel principles to their fullest, right from the start, never failing...This prideful perspective makes it hard to for us to see clearly and acknowledge just where we are on the path of progress. It leads us to harshly judge and condemn can lead us to judge others harshly, crowding our the ability to develop the crowning virtue of charity. 
Perhaps the Lord expects that we acknowledge that we are weak, that we have much to learn through the experiences we have and that we make mistakes and then prove to Him that we will repent and put our whole heart into doing better. That we are here to humbly learn and grow and to make changes and turn to Him as we go is a liberating truth. With such a view we will be more inclined to acknowledge and even accept what we are and where we are in our progress at any given point. Instead of trying to cover our sins, we will be inclined to search ourselves, to seek out where we fall short and to reach out for help in moving forward. And instead of perpetually berating ourselves for past shortcomings, we can rejoice in forward movement...."
(Matthew 22:37, 39-the second great commandment is to love thy neighbor as thyself)
"How are we to love our neighbor? As we love ourselves. But if we don't love ourselves very much-if we fall prey to harsh and excessive self criticism, if we are constantly condemning ourselves for our short comings and denying who we really are-how much good will it do to love our neighbors in the same way?...the reality is that you much love yourself in order to be filled with love toward others. We can and must love ourselves for who we are even if we are not satisfied with what we are or where we are at the present...when we do this, we will find greater tolerance and patience and love not only for ourselves but also for others. We can develop greater charity. And therein is peace and joy."

As i've been studying the Atonement lately, I've just really started to understand so much more that when we say "use the Atonement" when it comes to our weaknesses, it really just means "change according to God's will." Simple and Duh-I-Should-Have-Already-Known-That but seriously, it was life changing  this week, guys.

Anyway...that's all i have for right now.
remember always that God loves you and you are here to CHANGE FOR THE BETTER, so do it!

I'm out,
Sister Lawson

1. Us dressed like cows feat. the Merkley's 12-passenger golf cart.
2. DYING in the heat on our bikes feat. fashionable helmets
3. Me in my favorite trailer park 
4. A giant watermelon Mr. EJ gave us...that sweet man.
5. me in my favorite trailer park 
6. Cliche but cute "sister missionary compy pic"

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

PTC is where famous people go

If I had a dollar for all the famous people "supposedly" moving into their PTC summer home, or who were spotted at the local gym with their hood up or at the restaurant on Main Street, I'd have a whole lotta dollars called Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Chris Pratt and the New-Spider Man-guy-who's-name-i-do-not-know-because-missionaries-dont-know-popculture. If i haven't said it before, PTC is a wealthy area and I hope that painted the picture for you of just HOW wealthy it is in some parts.

hahaha anyway, those are the fun rumors of the week.

Transfer news is that Sister Francom and I will both be staying together another transfer, and Sister Hines is going back to the Whitewater ward just like old times. Nothing crazy.

Other fun things that happened this week:
1. It was COW APPRECIATION DAY, aka basically the 2nd 4th of July for Georgia. If you don't know what this is, it's also known as "Free Chick-fil-a day if you act a fool and dress up like a cow." And dress up like cows, we did. The lines were out the doors, the restaurant was packed, but i was happy and i was dressed like a cow and i was eating a free chicken sandwich and i was a missionary and i was in Georgia. so it was a good day.

2. A member's really cute little doggie definitelly peed all over me in my lap and it was definitely a good day.

3. Sister Hines went to the chiropractor and it was also my first time watching what actually happens at the chiropractor...all i'm going to say is that it was freaky and i never want to go TO or WATCH SOMEONE AT the chiropractor ever again.

4. We met a HIGHLY paranoid schizophrenic woman this week which was also quite the experience and it was a good day. She thought the Book of Mormon was a "fortune book" of her life, so when Nephi and his family were commanded to leave and go to the wilderness, she thought that that meant SHE AND HER FAMILY were supposed to leave and go to the wilderness too. And she almost really did that. Definitely one of the weirder experiences i have had on a mission.

5. We went to see Mr. EJ this week! the last time we saw him, Sister Francom was on splits with an RM in the ward and they had a really special, spiritual experience with him. He thinks his time on earth is coming to an end really soon, and then Sister Francom left him with a Book of Mormon and told him it would give him peace. When we went back to see him this week, he told us he had started to read the Bible all the way through, but as soon as he was done, he was REALLY excited to start reading the Book of Mormon! (he reads really fast, it's impressive haha). I guess our conversations with Y. in his living room a few weeks ago had really made an impact on him. We promised him that if he were to read the Book of Mormon now, his feelings of loneliness and sadness would disappear and he would be able to feel his wife's presence. We'll see what happens!

6. The boundaries of our mission have changed. They announced that the Cartersville, Atlanta, and Powder Springs stakes had all changed up which dramatically mixed up our mission boundaries. We absorbed a  chunk of the North mission, and out of 88 companionships, 74 will be at the transfer meeting this week. It's nuts!

7. I learned this week that i shouldn't ever play with those mini-segway things because i tried it and almost hurt myself multiple times. 

8. We learned this week that there is an animal shelter nearby that takes volunteers = playing with puppies = happy sister lawson. TENDER MERCIES

I think that's about all for this week. Thanks for your prayers and support, i'll need them for this upcoming transfer!

Sister Lawson

Monday, July 11, 2016

"When you're an all star, you just rock."

(^^the title of this email is a quote from someone's talk on Sunday so that's fun. I feel like it really describes me semi-well)

(also--The weirdest thing is when your sisters email you your friends' homecoming talks and they sound really old and grown up and then you get anxious because you only have 8 months left and it's dwindling rapidly and pretty soon that's going to be you)

I feel likeI just emailed you all haha. sorry if this is kind of short!

We had a much more interesting week this week than last week, but that's mostly because we saw a lot more of the inactive members living in the trailer park around here so that was fun.

I wish I had a lot more to report on, but it's been a slow time for us lately. We are scrounging trying to find someone new to teach, but it's the time of year in PTC where everyone is traveling because they all work for Delta and have free flight benefits. So the city is pretty dead. CURSES!

Double-covering areas has been a lot of fun though--Whitewater Ward is pretty interesting and has some more rural parts so the congregation is a bit more diverse hahaha. In the best way possible! Also trio-life isn't as bad as i thought it would be. Tracting is incredibly awkward and difficult with 3 people because it's overwhelming so we haven't done much of that, but we've been going on splits with a RM in the ward so that's made it easier, and we get twice as much done at once. Plus we found a honey-hole neighborhood this week, so we're definitely going to be going back there soon.

We went to Zone conference this week and the thing that made the biggest impact on me was a discussion we had about commitment. Thankfully we have a loving Heavenly Father who has sent us here to become something better--a more committed, devoted disciple of him. Commitment simply means repentance and being willing to change. God has been committed to us since the very beginning--so much so, that He sent His Son to die for us. God's whole purpose is to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." In other words, His purpose is to make sure that all of His children come home better, holier and perfected, just as He is. We have a loving God that is committed to teaching us every day and to help us come home. HOW BEAUTIFUL. I've decided that I need to be a more committed servant of Him who is ready and devoted to helping His family and my family come home the way He wants us to... it's going to be hard, but I'm excited to set some new goals, redefine the person I want to become and continuously repent every day! Especially considering i'm officially on the downward slope....yikes. the gospel is awesome.

**Mid-email invitation for everybody: Pray TONIGHT and ask God what you can change to become a better disciple of Him and how you can help those around  you to do the same. :)**

Sunday we went to 2 different wards which = 6 hours of church. i thought i was going to die, but I actually just soaked it up and wished there was another ward to go strange, but not. Both wards had the exact same topics for sacrament meeting, the exact same gospel principles lessons, and the exact same relief society lessons, but once again, Heavenly Father is awesome and I got the revelation i needed from all 6 different hours. 

In the PTC sacrament meeting, a brother got up and shared with us all what it means to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ. Everything he said was a giant culmination of what i've been studying personally for the last couple of months--joy, progression, obedience, mighty changes, and our earthly purpose. It was awesome and really helped me to connect the dots and know what God has been trying to teach me the most the last few months! I really wish I could have said everything as eloquently as he did, but sadly i'm Brenna and I can't because Ether 12:27.
IT'S ALL GOOD THOUGH. Just know that i'm growing and God loves you all.

Love Sister Lawson

1. Behind that creepy wall is the set of the Walking Dead in Senoia.
2. The dream team

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Zac Brown lives in the next town over from me

Fun things:
We finally figured out a way to describe PTC. Basically you feel like you're on a resort all the time with all the golf carts going by and people never staying for too long because they all work for Delta. So in a nutshell--I feel like I'm always on vacation but never allowed to relax.

I heard a story about "the golf-cart groper" this week and now I have nightmares. (Don't worry mom, I'm safe).

I'm currently emailing you all from a tiny town in the middle of Georgia called Senoia. (pronounced "Sen-oy-uh" or, "Sen-oye" by the locals). PLEASE LOOK IT UP. I'll probably send pictures of it next week because it's awesome, and it's the set of the show "The Walking Dead". I literally drove past the set on the way here, and massive group of people was walking around going on a tour of the place. why that show is a thing though, I'll never understand. It's gross :( Resurrection is supposed to be beautiful.

*Also I'm dying because the air vent above me is freezing my fingers off in this library so excuse my typing mistakesz*

This past week was pretty strange and off-the-wall and spontaneous to say the least. 
The latest news is that i'll be serving in a trio for the last few weeks of the transfer and double-covering areas! Long story short, a sister we live with has had mono for the last 5 months and ended up flying home to get some rest this morning. (wow, it sounds like she died from that sentence, i'm way sorry haha..SHE'S FINE.) therefore, this is the reason why we are in Senoia--some sight seeing in our "new" area! My new "tri-panion" is Sister Hines (aka my BFF) and she came out with me! for the last 10 months (yikes, yep i'm really that far along hahaha), we've been joking that we'd become comps and prez really made it happen haha. WOO

Update on Y.--sadly she moved back to Norcross already and we are really bummed out. BUT! Good news is that it's still in our mission so I can bug the Brockett sisters to go see her as much as i want until she gets baptized so that's really good news.

We took Paulina completely off-date for baptism this week because she still hasn't come to church and she honestly didn't seem the least bit upset about it which was pretty disheartening. We're seeing her tomorrow so we'll have a good chat i think.

The rest of this week was filled with some random weird activities like shelling purple peas for a woman in the other ward, and funky finding ideas including "Tabling". We set up a table on the golf-cart path outside our church and tried flagging people down like fools to give them a card or Book of Mormon or pamphlets. Semi-successful..we are still working out the kinks.

Fourth of July was pretty great! July 4th is a big deal here in PTC....they actually have one of the "Top 10 Most Patriotic Parades in America" (or so they say) and it's just this big golf-cart decorating contest with some floats thrown in the middle. I didn't know you could make a golf cart into so many bizarre shapes and animals with just some cardboard and crepe paper... Way cool way fun.
We walked up and down the parade for a while handing out cards and that honestly was getting us no where--no one wants to be interrupted during this holiday haha. So we ended up finding a member to sit with and started handing cards and candy to people walking IN the parade. pretty hilarious, not gonna lie. They took it and then started throwing the candy and cards back out into the crowd and pretty much did all the work for us. #Efficiency

On Sunday, a woman in the ward got up to share her testimony about my favorite verse of scripture of all time: 2 Nephi 2:25. Men are that they might have JOY. This lady is going through the ringer--her husband just got diagnosed with stage 3 brain cancer, and has very little chance of surviving. she has the possibility of being left behind for a while with her small 10 month old baby and very little income. The world is against her right now. Yet, I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYONE SO HAPPY IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. 
her thoughts on this scripture are exactly why it's my favorite:
"That verse of scripture is applicable for everyone everywhere always. No matter what. It is not conditional--Men are that they might have joy,depending on how much money you make..or how beautiful you are, or how easy your life isNO WAY.  There is no caveat to this verse. Heavenly Father wants us to be happy all the time, even in the midst of our difficult challenges--that's the way He designed us! God will comfort you, no matter how low you might feel, or how justified you might be to feel the way that you do, or how badly you want to wallow in your self-pity. You will be comforted, and you will become happy if you just maintain an eternal perspective and remember why you were created."

There were a lot of parts of this week that were sucky, I'm not going to lie. But thankfully God has given me a chance every single day to become better and to try again and to remember why i was created--it's to have JOY.

If i've learned anything at all on my mission, it's that I'm here on earth to be happy. If i'm not, something needs to change.

Happy 4th y'all!

Sister Lawson

1 and 2--georgia is pretty.'
3. Us in our patriotism
4. The andersons! 
5. Shellin' purple peas
6. A golf cart parade...?
7. A lady kicking a duck