Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dear Family!

    THANK YOU FOR THE PACKAGE!!!!!!!!! I cannot tell you how much I loved everything in there. The jewelry is amazing and the green chili and bug repellant wipes brought a smile to my face. I cannot thank you enough. Really I love it so much.
                Sometimes I cannot believe how fast my week goes by. Every week and I think “Oh man it will be forever until next p-day” and then I blink and here it is again. I also cannot believe that Sister Bird and I have been together for six weeks. This just blows me away because it doesn’t feel like that long at all. It is so crazy.
So big news for this Saturday! Our investigator Pauline is going to be baptized! We are so excited. Can you believe it my first real baptism? I am so sad that I am not going to be able to see it (Like I said last week I am pretty sure that I am going to be transferred) Anyways she is just so incredible. On Saturday we had to teach her word of wisdom and we were really worried because we were well aware of the fact that she drinks tea. So we pushed off this lesson for as long as we could but we started running out of time and so we finally decided to teach her. We thought that we needed as much help as we could get so we invited two ward members to come with us. So we started teaching her and we explained what the word of wisdom is and what it means for us. We asked her what she thought about what we had said and she responded by saying “Well I don’t have a problem with Alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. And that over there is my tea and you can take that. I don’t want it anymore.” I can’t tell you how happy we were. She is seriously the greatest.
One day while knocking doors, Sister Bird and I also found this lady who was taught by the missionaries a few months ago. She let us in and we have had a few lessons with her but the thing is that she knows a lot but then she also has heard a lot of false or inaccurate things and so she asks us the hardest questions. I leave every lesson with her just feeling completely drained. I seriously spend the whole lesson praying in my mind to know what to say or how to help her. We had a lesson with her yesterday morning and we invited her to church which was at one and she agreed so she came and I felt stressed for the whole three hours. I kept waiting for something to set her off but luckily she liked it and she said that she is going to come again next week. At this point we are just trying to help her gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon because if she gets a testimony of The Book of Mormon then all of the other concerns that she has will be resolved. What we believe/claim all comes down to whether or not The Book of Mormon is true and we are trying to help her understand that and gain a testimony.
It is honestly getting harder and harder for me to remember what happened during the week because it is all starting to blur together. But I can remember Saturday night/Sunday morning however when we had a freak thunderstorm. So I have mentioned before that it rains like crazy here. I would say that it rains maybe four out of seven days a week. But most of the time when it rains it is like a light mist that only ruins my hair but doesn’t really get my cloths wet. Well I guess that we have officially moved into spring here and now the rain has gotten heavier and even more frequent. But having said that, in the four months that I have been here and throughout all of the rain storms I have never heard thunder like what we had on Saturday night. I have some trouble falling asleep at night so I was laying awake just thinking about things when all of the sudden the room lit up and then a few seconds later there was a defining boom. I honestly didn’t know what was going on because we never have thunderstorms here. After that though it sounded as if the clouds let all of its moisture go at once. I have never seen such heavy rain fall in all of my life. Luckily our porch has a drain or I am sure that our house would have flooded. It rained like this all night and I can tell you that because I wasn’t able to sleep at all. All of the other sisters (excluding Sister Bird because she had ear plugs) lay awake too because it was so loud. The thunder mixed with the sound of the rain was ridiculous. I still can’t believe how crazy it was and I would have loved it if I could have slept in the next morning. That was the only frustrating part. I had to count my blessings though because I didn’t have to be out tracting during that storm so for that I am truly grateful.
Well I guess there really isn’t that much more to say. Things here are great and I really don’t want to leave. I am still hoping that I am not leaving but I should find out tomorrow. I guess this is what I signed up for when I sent in my papers. I pretty much signed my regular carefree life away to live a life of constant change. It’s hard because you just get used to an area or you start to form these relationships with the members and your investigators and your companion and then it all changes again. Missions are hard but I am starting to see how beneficial they are to life. I have already learned so much about myself and I know better now than I ever have before what my weaknesses are (trust me I have a lot) but I have also been able to find a few strengths. I can see how this mission will help me overcome those weaknesses and also help me develop these strengths. I honestly see now why people come home so different. No one can know what the mission life is like until they live it. Growth is hard sometimes but the results are worth it. When I first arrived in New Zealand, President Lekias said that he wanted the greatest convert on our mission to be ourselves and I am striving to have that as an outcome of my service. There are lessons that can’t be learned without going on a mission and there are experiences that you can only have when serving the Lord so I hope that my three brothers, and my cousins, and young men and women everywhere choose to serve a mission because it is one of the greatest things that you could ever do. Danny, Steven, and Tyler, if you choose not to serve a mission you will be giving up one of the greatest opportunities of your life. I hope that you will start to do all that you can now to prepare yourself for your mission so when the time comes, you will be able to accept the call.
I love and miss you all dear family. I hope that all is well at home and that everyone will have a good week at school and work and whatever else you have going on. I love you!
P.S. If you remember my MTC companion Sister Swindler, she is still serving here in the VC and so I see her quite a bit but her sister called her a few days ago and said that he older brother had passed away. So if you could please remember her in your thoughts and prayers. I can’t imagine what she is going through right now so please pray that she may be blessed with comfort at this time.

P.P.S. Molly, don’t climb any trees I had a bad dream about you last night. Seriously though don’t even try it. I woke up crying and scared to death for you. Be smart and be safe.

So this is a picture of me and my investigator Pauline who is going to be baptized on Saturday. I look awful in the picture but can you see just how cute Pauline is? I tell you I love her to death and I am so excited for her!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dear Family!

Can you believe that I have been gone four months already? I can’t believe that because it sounds like such a long time but it doesn't feel that long. Maybe four months doesn't sound that long to you but it does to me. Just think I will be home in fourteen months…
Well I had another great week here in New Zealand however it was again rather uneventful. Sister Bird and I have just been working very hard but we aren't seeing very much success. I suppose that happens sometimes on a mission. We still have one investigator, Pauline, who is going to be baptized on September 28th and it has been so exciting to watch her grow in the gospel. She is just so happy now and she keeps telling us thank you. I tell you she is the sweetest woman. I am sad that I won’t be able to see her baptism because it is the weekend after transfers and I am 99% convinced that I am being transferred. But Sister Bird said that she will take lots of pictures. Pauline is just the sweetest old Maori lady and she calls me “doll” and “sweetheart” and stuff like that and she also gives me a big kiss on the cheek every time we say good bye. I just love her. The other day we went to teach her about keeping the Sabbath Day holy and we were really nervous because she works on Sundays and we didn't know how she was going to react to the lesson. So we started teaching it and she got a really funny look on her face and I was getting even more nervous. But she then told us that since she has started meeting with us she has been thinking about taking Sundays off so she can focus on church. I was shocked and thrilled at the same time. It is amazing to see how the spirit just prepares people for these changes.
                Something that Sister Bird and I have been focusing on lately in our area is to work with the less-actives and help them come back. President Rudd has expressed that helping someone come back into the gospel is as important as helping someone find the gospel. He said that if you can help someone return to church that is the same as a baptism. Anyways we have been really prayerful and we have visited a number of less-actives. Some of them weren't interested in coming back but we have found a few that are really promising. It is so cool to see the changes in the less-active’s lives as they start coming back to church and keeping the commandments again.
                Sad news this week though. So I mentioned last week that our investigator Mal (Pauline’s daughter) wasn't talking to us anymore. Well the other day we went to have a lesson with Pauline and Mal was there and we tried to act like nothing was different but Mal went into her room and didn't come out. After we left she sent us a message saying that she isn't interested in learning more at the moment because she has a lot going on. She also said that she felt weird about us teaching her mom. Sister Bird and I were really bummed about it but we found out later from her friend that she was really stressed and so she relapsed and was back into drugs again. I guess Mal just wasn't ready to change her life right now but I know that we planted a good seed and hopefully when she is ready to change again she will reach out to the missionaries and come to church.
                The highlight of the week was Tuesday when we got to go to the temple! It was so amazing I cannot even begin to describe it. We got to go with half of our mission, President and Sister Rudd, and the McLauchlans. It was truly incredible. Let me just say that due to the updates I cried the whole time. I still get goose bumps when I think about it. Plus the New Zealand Temple is so beautiful inside. I will admit that the outside isn't my favorite because it is built out of bricks so in some ways it doesn't look as nice as other temples, however the inside is spectacular. The celestial room in this temple is one of three in the world that has a mural painted on the walls. It was just so great. After the session there was a nice big lunch prepared for us in the cafeteria and then we got to take some group pictures. I will attach one so that you can see. But the temple was so great and I am sad that I won’t get to go again until March. I honestly don’t know how I am going to survive.
               One last story for the week. So Sister Bird and I live in a flat with three other sisters and its not that big of a flat. Anyways the trio’s beds were literally touching side by side in their bedroom and then we were constantly trying to talk over each other during comp. study. Sister Rudd brought us donuts one day and she was looking around our flat and she said “You sisters should move all of the beds into the living room and then turn the bedrooms into your offices.” So that is what we did this week. It was so much fun because we completely moved everything around. We had to move the five beds into the living room and then take the tables apart so that we could fit them through the doors into the bedrooms. Let me just say that we were quite inventive for five young women. I will attach the pictures of our new furniture arrangement for you all to see as well. It was funny too because the night we were moving everything around we had to bang on the metal latches under one of the tables so that we could take it apart and it was really loud. Well the district leader called while this was going on and he kept asking what was going on but none of the sisters would tell him. Finally at the end of his conversation with Sister Bird he said “Alright Sister I have one more question for you. What are you all doing in your flat?!” and Sister Bird laughed and said “Well to be honest we are moving the beds into the living room and the tables into the bedroom…” then there was a long pause on the other end followed by “WHAT THE FLIP??” We laughed so hard. I guess he just didn't understand our ingenuity. We tried to tell him that it was Sister Rudd’s idea but he just thought we were all crazy.
                Well  I hope that everyone enjoyed this letter. Hopefully soon I will get to tell you about a baptism I had or something exciting like that. I think the Lord is trying to teach me humility and to stay positive even when things are discouraging. Anyways I love all of you and I’ll write ya again in a week! Love ya!








Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dear Family!

                I know that you have been waiting all week for this letter and here it is. However I am sad to say that it isn't that exciting. We had just an average week. Sister Bird and I still have a lot of investigators that we are working with and we are really enjoying things. One of the investigators that I told you about last week, Pauline, is doing really well. She is still scheduled to be baptized on the 28th of September and we are really excited. She is just so sweet and so happy every time we go to see her. I just love her so much. She is struggling with a few things due to a stroke that she had a few years back and so we have to teach her on a very basic level but she always feels the Spirit when we teach her so things are going well. Our Zone Leaders actually gave her a blessing after church yesterday to help her with her understanding. I am just so excited for her.
                Now remember Pauline’s daughter Mal that I mentioned we were teaching too? Well she hasn't talked to us for the past week and we are devastated. At first we thought it was because we were teaching her mother but we later found out it was because she had a falling out with her less-active member friend that initially introduced us. So because Mal is so upset and hurt because of the fight between her and her friend, she has decided that she doesn't want anything to do with us anymore. It breaks my heart because Mal was doing so well. She was so prepared for our message and I could see how her life was beginning to change. Sister Bird and I are still hoping that the two women will repair their friendship and that Mal will reach out to us again. I guess this is one of the reasons that missions are so hard. You really develop a deep love for these people and so when they stop talking to you it is truly devastating.
                Sister Bird had to experience a really awkward situation this week during exchanges and I am so happy that I didn't have to be a part of it. It all started a few weeks back when we were both new in the area and we were going around trying to contact the less-actives on our list and we went to this one house and this lady answered the door and she was really stand-offish and rude. She acted completely passive to what we were saying and she didn't even seem to care that we were talking to her. Finally I thought this is ridiculous and I wanted it to count for something so I went ahead and read a scripture even though she said she didn't want to hear it. We left and promised ourselves that we were never going back. Well a few days ago we got a message from our ward mission leader telling us that his wife was the visiting teacher to the same lady that I mentioned before and that she wanted to be taught the missionary lessons again. Sister Bird and I were pretty shocked so we picked up our pride and went back to the house. This time the daughter answered and she said that she would go get her mom but then a few minutes later she came back and said that her mom didn't want to see us. I am going to be honest I was a little mad. Anyways we left and promised ourselves that we weren't going to go back. A few minutes later however we got a message from the same lady explaining that she as just really tired and that she wanted us to come back and teach her the lessons because she doesn't really know anything. I can’t even explain how confused we were. I thought surely this isn't the same lady that we spoke with a few weeks ago. Anyways Sister Bird and I went on exchanges on Thursday with our sister training leader and so we each went to different appointments and Sister Bird drew the short stick and so she had to go visit this lady. When they got there, Sister Bird said that it was the same as all of the other visits. She said that the lady didn't want them there and that they flat out asked her if she wanted to feel the Spirit in her life again and she said “No.” Sister Bird said that it was honestly one of the most awkward situations of her life. But honestly if people don’t even want to try to feel the spirit in their lives how are we supposed to help them. As it turns out the visiting teacher to this lady all but forced her to meet with us so it is safe to say this time that we will NOT be going back.
                I got another blessing from Elder McLauchlan the other night because I was having a hard time with some things and there was something that he said that really stood out to me. He said that I would be blazing the trail for people to be baptized. This is something that I have recently been thinking a lot about because even if I never have a baptism, a missionary out there will because of my efforts. This is going to be the case next Saturday when one of my investigators from Temple View is going to be baptized. Even though I won’t get to see it and even though it won’t count as one of my baptisms, I know that she is where she is because of the efforts of Sister Whiting and myself. I guess I have just resolved that success as a missionary isn't measured in numbers of people baptized but it is really measured by the lives you touch. I have a strong desire to find and baptize people but this is because I have a love for the New Zealand people and I want them to be as happy as I am. I want them to know that they have a Heavenly Father who loves them. I want them to know that they also have a Savior who suffered everything for them and because of this they have the opportunity to live with their families forever.  This is the whole reason I am out here on a mission. Just knowing this makes it a little easier when everyone you see tells you “No go away I am not interested” or “No thank you I don’t want to talk to you” Missionary work is hard because you see people everyday who blow you off when all you want to do is help them be happy. If only they knew what they were giving up. It is so sad sometimes because I know exactly what they are saying no to and they have no idea. But at the end of the day for every hundred people that aren't “interested” there is the one that is. And the message that we have will change that “one’s” life and that makes it all worth it. I have already learned so much on my mission and I can’t imagine how much more I am growing to grow over these next 14 months. But I am so happy to be here and I will still strive to find the one that is prepared for the gospel.
                Sorry for the downer letter. I guess that happens sometimes. However, I really am loving it here and I am happy to be serving the Lord. The hardest part is being away from all of you. I hope that you have a good week. I love you all!
Sister Simkins
ere are some pictures from the VC this week. The last two are of a tour that Sister Bird and I gave last night.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dear Family!

I find myself writing you another letter and I almost can’t believe it because the time is just moving so fast. It’s weird here because the days are really long but the weeks are so short. I am telling you it is so weird.
So this week has been very interesting. We have seen so many miracles it has been pretty amazing. On Tuesday we had a really good day because Sister Bird and I prayed for a new investigator and as we went out we decided to contact a referral that the previous sisters received. So we went the house and the lady we were supposed to meet was outside and we talked to her and she told us that her partner (here people don’t get married but they live together and they are referred to as “partners”) is a less-active members and that all of his family is really active and they have been trying to get them to come to church. She said “I know that we will come to church at some point just not right now. It’s not the right time now but I know I will be mormon someday.” I thought that that was pretty interesting so we kept talking to her and eventually we asked her if we could come back and teach her and her family and she agreed. So we have a meeting with her coming up and we are really excited.
Another cool thing that happened this week came when we contacted another referral. So we had a name of a lady and a note that said that she cleans house for a member and that we can contact her for more information. So we called the member and set up an appointment to meet her friend at her house. Now in my past letters I have tried not to use people’s names but in this case I am going to or else the story won’t make sense. So we started teaching this lady named Pauline. She told us that she had suffered a stroke and that she had lost her husband and daughter within the last couple of years. She said that she has been going to the Jehovah’s Witness Church for about a year now. So we taught her the Plan of Salvation and she really seemed to feel the spirit and we set up another meeting. We were really pleased with how the lesson went and Pauline told us to come to her house because she had a daughter that was showing some interest in the church as well. It was really great. 
Now we have another investigator that is doing really well and her name is Mal. I mentioned her last week. We met her when she came to church with one of her less-active friends. So we have been teaching her the past couple of weeks and she is doing really well. She said that she will be baptized but she wants to learn more before setting a date. Anyways we had a really great lesson with her on Thursday and we taught her the restoration up at the VC and things went really well. We have only taught Mal the lessons at her friend’s house or the VC because she lives with her mom who is a Jehovah’s Witness. Mal really opened up to us and she told us that she has been through a really hard time lately with her mother’s stroke and her sister dying. She has really found comfort in the gospel. Again we were so excited and feeling really good about things.
So if you picked up on it than you are better than me and Sister Bird. If you didn’t catch it than I will explain how we found out. So we had a second lesson with Pauline on Saturday and she was telling us a little bit about herself and she pointed to a door and said “That is my daughter’s room. She has a Book of Mormon and I think she has been taking these church classes too.” (Now I forgot to mention that we got special permission to teach Pauline because she doesn’t live in our area. She lives across the street from our area but she is still in a different ward. But we got permission from the Zone Leaders to teach her) So when she said that about her daughter Sister Bird and I looked at each other and we both thought that maybe the elders are teaching her. Then Sister Bird asked Pauline what her daughter’s name was and she said “Malvena” and I thought I had heard that name somewhere and Sister Bird almost yelled “Malvena Nelson?!” and I was a bit shocked. Then I realized what she had just realized. Our investigator Mal was our investigator Pauline’s daughter! We had been teaching both of them and no one had any idea. It was the craziest thing. I am a little worried because I don’t want this to affect the relationship that we have with both of our investigators so we are praying that everything will work out okay. The good news is that Pauline has accepted the invitation to be baptized and she is working towards being baptized on September 28th. This is over a month away so she has plenty of time to prepare. I am sad though because it is after transfers and seeing as how we are getting sixteen new sisters this time around there is about a 98% chance that I will be transferred. But that’s okay it will all work out.
Another great thing that happened this week is we got another new sister in the VC. She name is Sister AH Quin and she is from Hawaii. She has been serving in Colorado for the past six while she waited for her visa to come through. So she has been assigned to be companions with Sister Holmes and Sister Swindler. Let’s just say that things around here are so much fun. Sister AH Quin is so funny but her combined with the rest of the sisters is pure magic. When she first arrived, President and Sister Rudd brought her here so that she could meet everyone and we decided to take some pictures. We took some normal nice one but you know Sister Rudd so we had to go into the other room to take some “ugly faced” ones. Now the pictures that we took then have become some of the funniest things that I have ever seen. I finally won the ugly face contest and we have been laughing ever since. If you haven’t seen it yet I will send attach it to this email because those I love deserve to see this picture. However, after you look at it you have to delete it so that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. This picture could do some serious damage to my reputation. Oh man the first time Sister Bird and I saw this picture we cried from laughing so hard. Then the situation repeated itself when the other sisters looked at it. We all about died. Even Elder McLauchlan was crying from laughing so hard. Now I don’t know whether or not you will be able to appreciate this picture the way that we all did. However I hope that you at least laugh a little bit.
Just when I thought I have seen/heard/read everything there is on chat, we talk to a man who is an RLDS reformationist. Now imagine what it is like when a man who believes in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon is trying to convince you that your church is false. It was the weirdest thing ever. He claimed that after Joseph Smith died Joseph Smith the Third was called as the next prophet but after he died everyone fell back into apostasy. It was pretty crazy. I tell you chat is a whole different experience than normal missionary work. On Saturday we had a man trying to tell us that he had been translated and that he was the prodigal son and that he has met John the Baptist and gave him the Book of Mormon. Honestly sometimes I can only shake my head and marvel at the fact that there are really people like that out there.
Well I guess that is all I have to tell you from the past week. It is going to be really hard on me when I no longer have the time to tell you every detail from my week :) I commend those of you that actually read my whole letters. I guess I use this as a journal of sorts and I record the major events. I hope that at least some parts of my letters are enjoyable to read. Anyways I love and miss all of you! Take care and have a great week!
Sister Simkins
This is a picture of me at Bridal Veil Falls last week. We had an amazing time and it was so beautiful.