Sunday, November 9, 2014

Dear Family! (11/9)

   I think of all the emails that I have written throughout my mission. this would have to be the hardest one of all. I really don't know what to say. How do I even put into words what I am feeling or try to sum up the multitude of experiences that I have had throughout the past 18 months. As I reflect on my time here in New Zealand I can't believe how truly blessed I am been. My testimony has grown more than I could ever have imagined. I know without a doubt that the message I have been sharing is true. We have a Heavenly Father that loves us. We are His children and He wants us to be happy. Jesus Christ is our Savior and it doesn't matter what has happened in the past. As long as we choose to follow Him now, everything can be left behind. I have seen numerous people change their lives and I have been strengthened by the testimonies of those who made these changes many years ago and continue in faithfulness. The Book of Mormon is true and  Joseph Smith is a prophet. We can be together as families forever. This is the true church and I know that now more than ever before. 

  Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. I have missed each of you dearly and I am excited that we will be reunited soon. This is all I have to say and I say it with a heart overwhelmed with gratitude. I love you all! 

(for the last time as a missionary) 
Sister Simkins

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dear Family! (11/2)

  Where to begin?! We had an amazing week! Everything is falling into place and I am so exited about it. All of our hard work is finally paying off and it is the best feeling. 

  Our first successes are from the members in our ward. They are amazing because they have finally caught our vision and they have taken it and ran with it. Our Bishop brought a few less-actives up to the VC for us to teach, a few families have come up for us to teach and strengthen them and they left committed to bring more people up, and other members have brought up their non-member friends and family and we have just had so many amazing lessons. I love teaching the gospel. I really think that it is my favorite thing to do. 

   Along with all of the great success we are having with our ward, we had a miracle to top all miracles this week! We were doing some online teaching in our office at the VC when Sister Hawkins came in and told us that this girl had come in and walked right up to her and said "I have been going to church for a couple of years with my ex-boyfriend, I know it's true, I am ready to meet with missionaries because I want to get baptized" so come teach her. Sister Perry and I looked at each other in shock and we rushed out to teach her. Her name is Soklang and she is the cutest thing ever. She's in her early 20's and she's from Cambodia. Her parents are Buddhist but she was dating a member of the church for about three years and he pretty much taught her everything but she never wanted to be baptized. They broke up four months ago and she said that last week she was going through a really tough trial a and she prayed for help and as she was praying she got the impression she needed to be baptized she promised Heavenly Father that if He would help her, than she would get baptized. She said He helped her but in a very unexpected way and she now she is here to meet with missionaries and keep her promise. We started teaching her the Restoration but she pretty much taught us most of it because she already knew it all. She said that her parents don't mind her getting baptized but they aren't the most supportive so she doesn't want any visits at home, she just wants to have all the lessons at the VC. We checked her address to find out what ward she is in and she is in another ward in out stake so we have gotten in touch with the members of the ward and they are all really supportive. At the end of the lesson she said "So what is the earliest that I can be baptized? I already have gone to church for a couple of years, I know it is true, and I know this is what I want for my life." We told her that she should pray about a date and that whatever date she chose we would be there to help her get ready for it. Well she came back a day later for another lesson and she said that she wants to be baptized on the 8th of November. That's next Saturday aka the last Saturday of my mission! I can't believe it we have a baptism and the last Saturday of my mission! I couldn't be more excited!!!! I just feel so blessed. We have taught her a couple more lessons and I can't believe how prepared she is. I already love her so much. 

   I couldn't be more please with the way things are going at this point and I am so excited to see what else happens here. I love this country and I love being a missionary!!!

Sister Simkins

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dear Family, (10/26)

    Last Monday we were on shift at the VC and this family from our ward brought in another family from our ward where the husband isn't a member. It's a bit confusing but the Dennis Family brought in the Davis Family and Brother Davis isn't a member. We had briefly met Brother Davis before and he seemed very cold towards us. Sister Perry and I had no idea what we were going to share with them but we both felt that we should't put the attention on him. We decided to create a normal family home evening environment and so in the Christus room we sat on the benches, sang a primary song, had an opening prayer, and then had an amazing discussion about the Savior. We played the narration and you could feel the spirit settle on everyone like a thick warm blanket. We asked everyone what they felt as they listened to the words and Brother Davis said that the word that just came to him over and over was "Believe" we were stunned because I thought that was such a powerful word. After that we went into the theater and watched "Because of Him" and "God's Plan for the Family" and by the end of these two movies everyone was in tears. I cannot describe to you the spirit that was in that room. Brother Dennis (who home-teaches the Davis family) stood up and bore his testimony and he was pretty emotional. He bore the majority of his testimony in Maori which was the coolest thing to hear. I love the maori language and I think it is so beautiful. At the conclusion of Brother Dennis' testimony, Brother Davis looked at him and said "Kia Ora" which literally means "be well" or is the maori way of saying thank you. I could tell that his heart has softened so much where the gospel is concerned. Sister Perry and I both felt not to push anything so we ended the lesson with another prayer. After the prayer the families stayed at the VC and they looked around talked, and laughed and Brother Davis' entire continuance changed. I consider this a miracle. He may not be ready to get baptized next week but because of the lesson he took a huge step closer towards accepting the gospel. 

    I came down with a bad cold starting Friday night. I thought at first it was just allergies because it is spring here but we were on shift at the VC and as the night wore on I just felt worse and worse. As we were preparing for the next day Elder Hawkins explained that Saturdaymorning we had a group of 100 primary kids coming in and that we needed to be prepared for them. After hearing this one of the other sisters that we were on shift with asked if we wanted to switch shifts. I thought about it and it sounded like the best thing to do so we switched. When we came in for out shift Saturday night we found out that a man from the Church Area Office in Auckland was coming down to screen Meet the Mormons in preparation for the Area Presidency to watch it and because we were on shift we would get to watch it too! I was so excited but I felt really bad a the same time because the other sisters had switched us and then they wouldn't be able to see the movie. I was so happy that we got to watch it though because it was so good! I loved every minute of it and it made me even prouder to be a mormon. If I hadn't been sick I wouldn't have been able to watch the movie. I count this as a tender mercy. 

  That is pretty much my week. I love and miss all of you! Have a great week!

Sister Simkins

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dear Family! (10/19)

   We had a great week this week and I am so happy to report that we found four new investigators! We found one through a part member family and three other from knocking on doors. I am so happy. 

  Wednesday we were at our wits end and so we decided to knock doors even though logically it sounded like a waste of time. We both felt prompted to do it though and so we put our trust in Heavenly Father. The night before when we were planning I looked at our area map and there was  street that stood out to me so we planned to start there. The streets is called Courtney and so I laughed thinking about Molly and decided that there was something special there. We walked to the street and then decided to go behind this tree in a near by park and there Sister Perry offered a beautiful prayer petitioning the Lord for His help to find those that are prepared for the Gospel. We then walked up to the closest door and knocked. On the other side of this door was this beautiful Colombian lady who was really happy to see us. We talked with her a bit and it turns out that she has been in New Zealand for about two years but she hasn't been to church since she left her home. We shared with her our basic message and she got really excited and said that her eight-year-old daughter has been asking her all these questions about God that she couldn't answer but she knew that we could so she has invited us to come back and teach her and her daughter. We then tried the rest of the houses on that street and no one answered the door. We walked down another street and I felt prompted to walk down this other side street and knock the doors there and at the first door we knocked we met this lady who had met with missionaries in the past and she too was really happy to see us. She invited us in and we taught her the restoration and gave her a Book of Mormon. She committed to read it and pray about it and as we were leaving she said "Please please come back!" We were so happy! From  there we walked to another street that I had thought of in my head and the first door we went to we met this university student who has been studying religions for a class and she is really interested in our religion and she wanted us to come back and teach her all about what we believe! Can you believe it we found three amazing investigators in an hour knocking doors. That never happens here!!! We were walking on clouds for the rest of the day. I know that Heavenly Father was leading us the whole time. 

   Well that's all from me this week. I love and miss all of you and I can't wait to see you all again! 

Sister Simkins

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dear Family! (10/12)

Again I don't have much to report this week. We are really struggling in our area to find people to teach. We have spent the majority of the members and strengthening them and encouraging them to do missionary work. We haven't seen any success from this yet but hopefully things will start to fall into place for us because we are really working as hard as we possibly can and I know we will be blessed for it. 

   Yesterday during the broadcast of General Conference I was reflecting on what I would write to all of you and the thought occurred to me that I haven't really shared my testimony with you as much as I should throughout my mission. 

   As my time here is winding down I look back and I am amazed at how much I have learned and how strong my testimony is now. I thought that I had a strong testimony before I left, but that tiny flame is nothing compared to the bonfire that I have now. I think that preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the last seventeen months has really allowed me to use it in my own life and I have never been happier. I firmly believe that Jesus is the Christ. It is because of Him that we can all live again and not just as individuals but as families. Here is a link to a video that we share with people that come into the Visitors' Center. I think it has a really powerful message:

  The foundation of my testimony of Jesus Christ comes from the Book of Mormon. Studying the Book of Mormon has allowed me to really come to know what I must do in this life to have peace and happiness. There are so many examples in the Book of Mormon of the love that Heavenly Father has for us. It is this love that the Plan of Salvation is based on. Through the plan of salvation that we really can live with our families forever. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that it really is the word of God. I have seen it change people's lives and it has changed my life for the better.  

  Another amazing gift that I have achieved from my mission is a stronger testimony of repentance and change. I have learned here like never before that repentance is necessary and that change is possible. It is amazing to me that we can have a weakness or something that we struggle with and then we can humble ourselves and ask god for help and be given the strength to overcome it over come it. I feel like I have changed and grown so much and I know that this is a pattern that I can continue to apply in my life. I used to think that repentance was something to be ashamed of or something to be embarrassed about because it meant that I wasn't good enough or something like that. I now know that it is a beautiful gift and we need to use this gift everyday to be able to progress and move forward. 

  As glorious as all of these truths are, we wouldn't have any of them if it weren't for the work and sacrifice of the prophet Joseph Smith. As a young boy he was called as a prophet and I know that he saw what he said he saw and that he did what he said he did. I am eternally grateful for the work of Joseph Smith as God's prophet in the latter-days because it it weren't' for him, I wouldn't have the relationship my Savior that I now enjoy. 

  This is just a small piece of my testimony and it is very special to me. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to go out and hare these truths with the people here everyday. I love this gospel and I love this church and I love being a missionary. Remember that Heavenly Father loves each of you and know that I love you! 

Sister Simkins
Attachments area


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dear Family! (10/5)

 I am not going to lie or sugar coat things. We had a really hard week. We didn't find a single investigator and so we still have no one teach. The most frustrating part is that we are doing everything that we possibly can. We have visited every name on the ward list. If someone isn't home then we knock on the surrounding doors, if someone has moved then we try to share our message with the people who live at the address currently, and we walk EVERYWHERE to try and talk to as many people as possible. I guess you could look at our numbers or the results of our week and say that we failed, that we didn't succeed but the weirdest part is that every night when we get back to the flat we feel like we are on top of the world because we know that we had done everything we possibly could that day to invite others to come closer to Christ and that means that we are successful. It's weird to me to be in this situation because I feel like I am on borrowed time. I should have gone home for being sick, and I would be going home tomorrow if I hadn't extended. But I am still here and I suppose I still have a work to do even if it doesn't seem like it at the moment. I can see that the refining process is still in full swing as Sister Perry and I concluded the other day that we both aren't very patient people and therefore the Lord is just trying to help us develop that attribute. Even if I have six more weeks like the one we had last week I will still feel like I am a successful missionary. I think this experience has also helped me to not search for self justification from outside sources. We have to come to know for ourselves of our value and acceptance from the Lord and not from any other source. As much as I love and respect President Rudd, I am not working to please him, or my district leader or my zone leaders, I am working to please the Lord and I felt like this week He was pleased by our sacrifices. I can take this lesson and apply it now my life at the completion of my mission. It will be so easy to fall back into the world's trap that says "You only have value if you look like a model" or "If you aren't driving the nicest car you don't matter in the world" and I really don't want to be like that. My mission, and especially this week has helped me realize that I am a daughter of a Heavenly Father and that I have great value in His sight. It is only through living the Gospel that we can come to know in a small portion the value that we really have as His children. It is so funny to me that I can realize this just because we lost all of our investigators and walked around everyday this week. There are so many lessons that I feel like I could never have learned had I not chosen to leave the world behind and serve a mission in New Zealand. 

Well that is all that I have this week. Sorry it's a short one. I hope that things are going well at home. I love and miss all of you and I can't wait to see you! Have a great week!

Sister Simkins

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dear Family! (9/28)

   Another week come and gone and now another month come and gone. This week was a harder week than I have had in a while but the hard times weren't as bad because I have an awesome companion and being with her makes things a little bit better. 

  Long story short either we dropped our investigators or they dropped us so by Wednesday we had NO ONE left. It was the strangest thing. Everyone that we had been working with just vanished so to speak. If you remember our amazing investigator who prayed to know if the church was true before we even met her officially moved to the South Island to live with her mom. It was really sad but it was what needed to happen. Her mom supports her decision to be baptized whereas her grandparents who she was living with are anti towards there church so there would have been a lot of opposition if she had stayed here. At first I wanted to tell her that she needed to come back and get baptized up here and then I humbled myself and admitted that that was terribly selfish to think like that and I had the sweet assurance from the spirit letting me know that it was better for her to be down there. I am so sad that I won't get to see her baptism because I really love her but I know that we will remain life long friends. We get to keep in contact with her through the phone at the VC and when we called the other night she said that she is planning a trip next year to America to see some other friends that she has and she said she will definitely come to New Mexico to visit. I told her not to waste her time that there wasn't anything in New Mexico but she insisted that she is coming. I am really happy for her and right now she is set to be baptized on the 18th of October. She said she will email me photos and I will forever count her as my baptism even though I won't actually get to see her being baptized. 
   I also found out this week that the first convert of my mission, Pauline, is still really active and she is preparing to go to the temple! It has been a year since she was baptized and she is taking temple prep and is doing really well. She had a family thing to go to one Sunday afternoon and her ward meets at 1 in our building so she came to our 9 o'clock meeting instead. I stood up after sacrament and there she was sitting in the back of the chapel. I almost plowed people over to get to her. We couldn't talk for very long but she still recognized me and she said that she is still doing really well and she is very very happy! This was the sweetest moment to know that someone that I found and taught is now preparing to make sacred covenants in the temple. Her husband passed away about 15 years ago and so now she has the opportunity to be sealed to him. Isn't that the sweetest thing ever?  I am still so excited for it. She may or may not go while I am still here but if she does I would get to go with her. I guess we'll see what happens. 

  I had a fight with agency again this week. Sometimes agency frustrates me so much! I really thought I would be over it by now but I am not because it just hurts when you are teaching people and they can feel the spirit and they know it is true and they still don't accept it. We have been working with this lovely lady for about a month now and we were helping her quit smoking and she was doing really well. We have been teaching her a bit by bit but she wasn't progressing at all. We decided to take one of the senior couples from the VC over to visit her with us. They helped us teach the restoration and it was so powerful and I know she felt the spirit. The senior sister handed her a Book of Mormon to read Moroni's promise and she read the first verse and then all the sudden she closed the book, looked up and said "I don't want to do this whole mormon thing anymore." I was gutted! I know we at least planted a seed however and I hope that she continues to ponder on the things that we shared with her and that one day she will come to accept it.  It is so hard because I know how sweet and precious the gospel is and it never gets easier to see someone throw it away. I just know that Heavenly Father loves all of His children and I have faith that she will come around one day.

   Well that is all this week! I love and miss all of you! Happy Birthday Dad and Steve! Have a great week!!!!

Sister Simkins