Thursday, December 27, 2012

Man I love mission holidays!

Dear Family,

Agreed, Skype is the best. Also agreed about my comp- Sister Wester's pretty fantastic, I'm really really grateful I'm yet to have a crazy or awful companion.

So Sunday ROBIN GOT BAPTIZED! It was such a sweet baptism too, the Spirit was so so strong. It was so reassuring to know that even though teaching him didn't at all go along the "normal" way missionaries plan their investigators to progress, the Lord took care of him and it was definitely the right time for him. His wife was so cute too, she had a bag packed with everything he needed like a week early and every time his baptism was mentioned she'd reach over and grab his hand. Ahhh I love families! I can't wait for them to get sealed in the temple, I really think they'll do it in pretty much exactly a year since that's been their goal for about 9 months now lol.

Things were hectic getting ready for it though, especially since we lost our phone over the weekend..... So we couldn't make the last minute calls we needed to. When I got my stitches out we used the phone in the doctors office, then that night we got home and realized it was missing. So the next day we went by the office to look for it...And they were closed until January 7th. Awful. Thankfully our amazing branch president loaned us one of their phones that they don't use much so we survived, but we didn't have about 90% of the phone numbers we needed. We got a new phone on Monday, and then Tuesday a less active/investigator family we're teaching called us and said they found it in their drive way. So we're going to try to dry it out and then see if it works. It would be nice to get all our investigators' numbers again.

Kelsey unfortunately missed church on Sunday, so her baptism is going to be pushed back a bit. We haven't talked to her in a while, due to the afore mentioned phone fiasco, but we're hoping to see her this weekend and reset a date.

So like I told you, we had a Book of Mormon Read-A-Thon for Christmas! So Christmas Eve from 1-9 and Christmas Day from 8-2 we read it as a zone and got just a little over half way through it. So we'll do the rest New Years Eve and New Years Day. It's SO much fun! District meeting yesterday we just shared insights and talked about how much we loved it. Perfect combination of much needed socialization with other missionaries and getting pumped full of Spirit. I love getting the big picture too, we talked about how complex the time lines and stories are, and what a miracle that book is. The patterns and words and themes that are repeated are incredible, and getting to just rip through the book just shows how impossible it is for a man to make that up. It's also added a whole new level to the study of the New Testament I'm doing right now, ever since then I have all these new connections being made as I read the Bible. Sister Wester talked about how the Book of Mormon is promised to bring us closer to God than any other book and so when we're reading it we're able to grow closer to him more easily in everything else we do. I LOVE IT!

The rest of Christmas was really sweet. We went and visited 2 older woman. One is a woman we tracted into, Barb. She's a staunch Roman Catholic who lives alone and is super lonely, so we just went by and sang some Christmas songs and read some scriptures with her. She said we can come teach her, so we're praying she's open to our message and not just company- but either way, we feel really lucky to have met her. She told us after we sang with her that earlier in the day that we first knocked on her door she had prayed that God would send her someone to talk to since she has pretty much zero human interaction, so she knew we were an answer to her prayers. We also went to the hospital and sang for an older member of the ward who's there sick, who's family was also sick so unable to visit her. It was a really special experience to spend the evening with 2 people who had no one else to spend Christmas with.  Man I love mission holidays!

I think that's pretty much it....Love you all. It was awesome to see you :) Hope the rest of everyone's holidays are awesome, and going back to school isn't too terrible. Bye!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The long awaited appendix story

Well hello, long time no email! Haha so I have about a billion things to email about, not surprisingly, so sorry if I forget anything.

Okay, so here's the long awaited appendix story: (It's funny cuz at first I was like, ugh I can NOT tell Mom this story till post-mish but then you got a phone call so now you get all the juicy details! Sister DeRuvo literally photographed the entire thing so one day I'll show you the slide show of it lol) So it's funny because actually either Sister DeRuvo or I were sick every single day that week, but I guess it started Thursday night at a dinner appointment, my stomach was killing me which was pretty standard so I went to the bathroom just to relax for a second and keep up the happy face for the members and I ended up getting sick. I didn't tell Sister DeRuvo till we left and got home, she almost killed me haha then the next day my stomach was again really upset so I decided I needed a nap after lunch and ended up getting sick again and finally decided to just take the day off. It was kind of a weird decision since I usually sleep till I can function again and go back to work that night but I think I was just exhausted from feeling sick constantly so I finally listened to Sister DeRuvo and took a day off and just layed around.

Then Saturday morning we had our studies and towards the end of our training hour my stomach started hurting again but I decided I wasn't going to tell Sister DeRuvo because she'd make me stay in again and I didn't want to take 2 days in a row off. But then over the course of the next 10 minutes it went from hurting to being kinda excruciating so after we closed training I went and layed down, and 10 minutes later was curled up in tears on my bed and throwing up from sheer pain. Thankfully right at that moment my district leader called, he said he had thought about calling the day before several times but never did and then felt bad when he found out that night I'd been sick so when the thought came to call us he decided he better not ignore it. So he and his companion drove over and gave me a blessing, and then Sister DeRuvo and I went to the ER.

I got really lucky, it was only like a 2 hour wait and the pain was coming and going in waves so I was able to survive until I got an IV in my arm. The funny thing is everyone kept asking if the pain was on my right side and it wasn't, it was in the center right under my rib cage. But the doctor came in and was pushing on my stomach and when he pushed on my appendix it literally made me cry. So he said it was probably my gallbladder, possibly an ovarian cyst, and maaayyyybe my appendix so he booked me to come back Sunday morning for an ultrasound (When I told that to the mission nurse she encouraged me not to change it to keep the sabbath holy and even though it's too bad go ahead and get it done in case they can't do it for a few more days and I was like, are you nuts?? I"M NOT DOING THAT!! I hurt here! I'm getting looked at NOW! lol she thought I'm way more righteous than I am....)

So Sunday we went for what we thought was just an ultrasound and maybe get some drugs, and at this point I felt a little silly cuz the pain was gone unless you pushed on my stomach and I was worried I was over reacting, then after I got the ultrasound We sat around for like another 2 hours waiting for results and feeling bad we were missing church. Then finally a nurse came in and was like "Well it's your appendix so let's get you on some antibiotics and prep you for surgery!" and we were like WHAT?! Haha and I think that's when Sister Scott started calling you. They said just one end if it was swollen on the ultrasound, but after surgery the doctor said the whole thing was really infected so good thing they got it out. (Sadly no, no one showed it to me or offered to give it to me in a jar!) I'm just lucky they even found it, I've heard so many horror stories this last week from people who's appendix burst and I'm so grateful the doctor found that despite my claims that my right side didn't hurt.

Side note, Sister Scott told me my parents seem very obedient and now they understand why I'm such a good missionary :)

And I've seriously been a walking miracle ever since then. I got home from the hospital Monday afternoon, went to Branch Council Tuesday night, and have worked almost a full day ever since then. We usually have either spent some time in the apartment working where I can kinda rest as we do stuff, or I've had to come back and nap for about an hour, but other than that I'm back up and running and yesterday we did totally full day so I'm pretty happy. In fact President and Sister Scott came to Woodstock for church this Sunday (that was a major shock haha) to check up on me and Sister Scott told me I was looking better than President so don't worry about me at all. I'm still a little tender sometimes but I'm pretty much fine. I get my stitches out on Thursday.

The really crazy thing is how amazing this week has been, it's seriously been like the best week I've had in over a month and we spent half of it in the apartment! But God's a God of miracles, and I told that to President and he said "Well you're doing what you're supposed to so he's going to bless you!" And so true. Mostly though I'm accrediting the awesome week to my new rockstar companion, Sister Wester, who's just this giant ball of faith. She's a convert, she joined the church about 2 years ago and is the only member of her family. (In fact, most of her family is pretty anti the church and her being on a mission). She came out with Sister DeRuvo and was actually trained in my zone so I knew her a little bit. But she is so excited about everything and wants to baptize everyone we meet- the branch presidency is already calling her a "firecracker".

We had some amazing miracles this week. There are 2 part member families Sister DeRuvo and I tried to see the entire 3 months we were here and couldn't, and we saw both of them this week and are now teaching the non-members in the family. One of them would have not happened if Sister Wester wasn't here, we invited the husband Ryan to meet with us again like 5 times before he said yes, and after time number 4 I was like fine so what you want stinker and ignore the Spirit I know you're feeling, but she asked AGAIN when we could come back and he finally said if we came back on Sundays he'll listen. It was a cool experience! The Spirit was crazy strong, he doesn't believe in God but there were several times when we were talking he would really focus in and his face would change and you could tell it was hitting him what we were saying. He's just trying to play it cool and not admit it, but we're really excited about him.

We're really pumped now to go work with more part member families more seriously, I love seeing families be united through the gospel. And Sister Wester seems to have a special passion for it, especially because she came from a YSA ward and hasn't ever worked with families before, so I think we'll have alot of success with her faith.

This week we also moved up Robin's baptismal date to this Sunday, the 23rd! And Kelsey reset a date for December 30th, assuming she gets work off- if not January 6th. Both of them are doing so amazing, Kelsey is the cutest. We asked how praying has been and she said "I can just feel now God is with me, and never understood why people said they knew things about God but now I get it because I know this is real!" We were beaming, to say the least.

Did I tell you Sister DeRuvo went up to Owen Sound? So she'll spend Christmas where I did, I'm so excited for her! I gave her a list of my formers with instructions to pray about and baptize them.

Well, this is now crazy long, I think that covers the gist of these last 2 weeks. I won't even get in to everything that's coming up the next 2 weeks, I'll just update you on skype/next email. Love you all! Talk to you on Christmas :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sister Jensen Update

Dear friends & family,

There will be no weekly email from Sister Jensen this week.  Instead she will be spending her p-day recovering from having her appendix removed. 

For the past couple of weeks Rachel has had some stomach issues that could not seem to be explained.  It was originally thought to be an acid reflux issue.  The mission Dr called two weeks ago telling me he tried to get her something for it, but it wasn't available over the counter in Canada.  And since he isn't licensed to prescribe medicine in Canada, he called it into our pharmacy and I put it in her Christmas box I was mailing the next day.  If the online tracking is correct, her box should be delivered tomorrow.  I am assuming she will no longer need the medicine. 
Anyway, yesterday she went into the Dr. again because of her stomach and they did some blood work that showed her white blood count to be elevated.  They decided she either had a problem with her appendix, gall bladder or ovarian cysts.  They sent her home that night and told her to come back in the morning for some more tests.  Today they did an ultrasound and decided it was her appendix and it needed to come out.

Rachel's mission President and wife called us several times to keep us informed of what was going on.  We also received several emails from a Sister in the branch Rachel is serving in which contained more details about her day, including the fact that Rachel was seconds away from getting into the OR but was bumped due to an emergency c-section.  But it all worked out and the surgery took place this evening.   And once she was out of recovery and moved into her room, we were able to call and speak to her.  Rachel sounded really good, and said she didn't feel any pain even though they hadn't given her any main medication.  (We didn't point out to her that we were pretty sure she was being given pain meds through her IV.)

Rachel should go home tomorrow.  Transfers are on Tuesday, and Rachel will be staying in Woodstock but getting a new companion.  We are told the branch will help out so that Rachel can recover from her surgery and assume her new companion will be sent out on splits during the day.
We are very grateful that Rachel received so much love, support and care this weekend.  The Lord truly looks after his missionaries and their families!   

Have a great week!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pictures, pictures and more pictures

Sister DeRuvo, lighting a paper towel on fire by holding it to a hot burner so we could light my birthday candles hahaha!

When she dyed her hair blue- see the streaks?

Sister Tuia, when we instructed at leadership conference

Melted strainer # 2 

We get a lot of spiders in our parking garage.....

The morning we woke up to snow!

Perfect snowflakes


Ann (member wife of Robin) making us a carmel-pineapple dessert thing after one of our lessons involved pouring rum on it and lighting it on fire.

American smarties vs. Canadian smarties

Decorating our Christmas tree!

Companion picture

Hilarious panoramic picture with Sister DeRuvo and the double rainbow that was over the chapel.
...look closely at her arms hahahaha

Hope that's enough photos to make up for not sending any for 2 transfers :)

This week was great!

Dear family,

First off, I find it SO hilarious that Dakota is in every family picture you send me these days. Approved.

So it's probably about time to start coordinating when I should Skype home on Christmas.... It will probably mostly be based around Sister DeRuvo's schedule, since Italy's time difference is slightly larger than Texas', but if you know already any time that isn't good let me know so we can start planning that. (We won't finalize yet because transfers are this weekend so we have to see if we're even still comps, but the sooner I know the better anyways.)

This week was great. Robin came to church for the second week in a row, the most he's been since we came here! We reset him with a date for December 30th and are exciting that he's actually working towards it this time. Sister DeRuvo and I are both determined to not get transferred this weekend, we're baptizing way to many people the next month or two to go anywhere! He, Shane, and Kelsey are all doing so great. We also had one of our former investigators, John, randomly come to church again, which was great. We still aren't meeting with him, but it's good to see he still feels a connection to the church.

This transfer's going to be crazy though... Every comp in our zone is finishing up training except 2, and 2 Elders are going home, so there's only 1 companionship in the whole zone who is most likely not getting changed. NUTTY.

This morning I finished the Book of Mormon again, which was awesome. I've never deep studied it like I did this time, and I love that even after that I feel like I only just scratched the surface of what that book has to offer. It's been really cool studying these last 2 transfers because every district or zone meeting we've had they've expounded no a principle I had just been reading and pondering about. I love how the Spirit always teaches you exactly what you need from the scriptures right now, it's always perfectly relevant to me personally. And now I can start studying the new testament again for the Christmas season :)

I think that's pretty much life. I'm going to FINALLY email some pictures, so I'll end now and do that. Love you! Talk to ya in a week!