Monday, October 28, 2013

This week has been a Rollercoaster!

So I don't have very much time at all  because we have a big P-Day planned. The Bishop is picking us up and we are going on a hike somewhere amazing I guess with a few families from the ward. I am really excited however we have to leave pretty soon so I will try to be quick. 

Let me say that this week has had its up's and its downs. First of all late Tuesday night we got a call from one of the assistants saying that Sister Vea was getting transferred because there was a new sister arriving from Tonga who needed a trainer so they took her away from us. We were all devastated and we just cried as we packed her stuff. Wednesday morning I drove us to Hamilton which is about two hours away for Sisters' Conference and that was when Sister Vea met her new companion. She is now serving in the Tongan program in South Auckland. We really miss her but Sister Gunnell and I are still having a lot of fun. 

Like I said Wednesday we had Sisters' Conference in Hamilton at the VC and it was so much fun. All the sisters in the mission were there apart from four because they are serving to really remote areas and they couldn't make it in. Anyways I loved being surrounded by so many sisters. The spirit was so strong and I was just overwhelmed with excitement as I thought of all of these sisters serving in the mission and all the miracles they were having. It was a day that I will always remember. 

Another hard moment happened when we were teaching our seventeen year old investigator Dominique who was scheduled to be baptized on Friday. We knew something was up because she had been avoiding us. We finally go her to meet with us and she insisted that she still wanted to be baptized. She said that she had just faced so much temptation the past few days and she was really struggling. She said that it had to do with smoking but I felt like there was something more. I felt the spirit and I was just saying the spirit was putting into my heart and the message was one of encouragement telling her that she could do this. I read her a scripture that came to mind but in the middle of it she got up and ran out of the room and my heart dropped. I didn't know what I had done or said that would up set her so much. I told my companions to just wait and I went into her room and she was sitting on the floor crying so I sat by her and hugged her and told her to just cry. We both sat there and cried for a good five minutes. Finally she looked up and started to tell me what had really been bothering her. She said that she had a boy-friend that she knew she couldn't keep if she were to get baptized. She was struggling within herself to find the courage to end things with him and that is why she broke down. After this my companions came in the room and joined me and we talked her through it and by the end of the night we told her to pray and ask God when she needed to be baptized. Later that night we got a text that read "FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!" So she broke up with her boyfriend and was baptized on Friday. Her baptism was beautiful the change that she has gone through this week alone is remarkable. She also told us that when she turns nineteen she is planning on serving a mission. Now because she was baptized on Friday we had to wait until Sunday to confirm her and Sister Gunnell and I were really worried about the adversary tempting her so we invited her to spend the day with us and she did. She walked with us and went to all of our appointments with us and she loved it. It was so cool because she had just been baptized the night before and then she was right out doing missionary work. When we took her home she said that she loved the day and that she is so excited now for her mission. I was so happy I couldn't even stand it. This is what true happiness is and I am so blessed to be a part of it. 

Well I guess I don't really have time for anything else this week. I love and miss all of you! I will try to send some pictures before I have to leave. Have a good week!!

Sister Simkins

This is us with Dominique the night of her baptism. I love her so much!!!!!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dear Family!

Things here in New Zealand are still AMAZING! We had another really awesome week and I still feel like I am on top of the world even though I am physically at the bottom. :) 

On Tuesday we had interviews with President Rudd. It was so great to see him and Sister Rudd again. I would see them a couple of times a week when I was at the VC and now I miss not seeing them as much. Mom and Dad I really hope you get to meet the Rudds someday because they are amazing. Anyways during my interview with President he told me that I will finish my mission in the Visitors' Center so I won't be back there until maybe July or August of next year. It made me a little sad but I am loving full proselyting so much that I wasn't that bothered by it. In fact I have thought a lot about it and if it weren't for the people I served with at the VC I would say I like full proselyting more. Crazy I know! But I am just so happy here and I am loving it so much. 

Now speaking of the Visitors Center, I got to go there on Saturday and it was the best! It was our stake temple day and so we rode the bus down with one of our investigators so that she could go to the VC while her son was in the temple doing baptisms. Now the story of our investigator is really remarkable. Her name is Kahu and she has been taught by the missionaries for years but she never wanted to get baptized. Her two children were baptized last December and they are really strong in the gospel. The crazy thing is that she comes to church, reads her scriptures, and does everything else except she has never been baptized. She said she is afraid of the commitment. Well my companions and I have been visiting her and we have been pretty bold and strait forward with her and she has now set her own baptism date! She is going to be baptized on the 21st of December which is a year after her kids were baptized. Even though it is far away we are still really excited! A funny story about Kahu. So there is this sixteen year old boy named Manny who comes to church and does everything but his parents won't let him be baptized and he came down to the temple with us and as all of the youth were getting off the bus to do baptisms one of the counselors in the bishopric said "You'll go with us next time Manny." and then Kahu said "Me and you Manny!" and then the three of us sat up and said "That's right Kahu!" But the funny thing was she didn't know we were on the bus and she is always teasing us and saying that she is never going to get baptized so it was so funny that we heard her say she plans to go to the temple next time. She then responded and said "What?! Where did you come from? You sisters are like fleas I can't get away from you!" We laughed so hard it was great.

But we then had a great visit to the VC where the sisters there gave a great tour focused on the temple and she was crying by the end of it. I also loved seeing the McLachlans and the sisters serving there. I have made some life long friends here and I enjoyed seeing them. It was interesting though because when I left the VC I told myself I wouldn't go back unless I was serving there because I thought it would be too painful. But then I came here and fell in love with everything and I knew that it would be great to go to the VC because when it was over I would be happy to come back to Rotorua. It was sad to leave the McLachlans again but other then that I was happy to return to my new home. Its funny how everything turned out. Elder McLachlan sent me a text yesterday saying that he enjoyed my visit and that I will have to keep in touch throughout and after my mission. I responded and told him that no matter what he and Sister McLachlan do they will never get rid of me. 

One of Sister Vea's favorite pass-times is to catch giant spiders and then chase Sister Gunnell and myself around our flat. I am telling you if she does it again I will kill her. She literally grabs these massive spiders that we have in our flat and then she chases us and puts them on us. It is the scariest thing. I HATE spiders. Now I know they can't hurt me and all that but they are still scary and Sister Vea thinks its hilarious. 

We are teaching heaps of people and we will have a baptism this Friday.  Well we are supposed to have one but our investigator is struggling a bit so if you could please keep her in your prayers. The work here is great and I am Loving every minute. I hope that you all have a great week! I love and miss you all!

The trees here have the best blossoms!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Aren't we just irresistible? I don't understand why some people don't listen to us when we try to share the gospel with them. 
This is how we spend our time before bed.


Dear Family, 

Where do I even begin? I have had the most amazing week and I just want to tell you everything that has happened but I know that isn't possible but I will try.

First of all I feel like I am still on a spiritual high from conference the last two days. Let me say that it was well worth the wait. It was absolutely incredible. Every talk was so inspired. I feel like I am ready to take on the world. If you haven't had a chance to watch all four sessions then make time now because it is so worth it. It was funny to when in the Sunday afternoon session when Elder Terence M. Vinson started talking because everyone in the congregation recognized his accent and they all sat up and listened harder. I also had a proud moment when he mentioned the miracles being performed in the South Pacific namely New Zealand. 

Elder Terence M. Vinson is right, there are miracles happening everywhere here. We had so many this week it is incredible. The first one happened last Monday when I was done emailing. We were walking into the grocery store and the phone rang and it was a member calling to say that she had been talking to her neighbor about the gospel and now she wants to get baptised. Seriously. So we set up a lesson for the following day and it was so cool. The lady we taught is about 25 and she has three small children and she is really ready to make a change in her life. She wants to join the church and have the happiness she has seen in her member friend's life. We started teaching her the restoration and then we found out that she and her friend had watched the hour long Joseph Smith movie the day before and so she already knew everything and she said she knew it was true. We just sat there in awe it was so cool. So now we are working with her and hopefully she will be ready for baptism in the coming weeks. 

Like I mentioned last week we had a baptism scheduled for Friday night and we had been really good about seeing our investigator daily to help her combat temptation and everything seemed to be going really well and we were looking forward to Friday night. So Friday during the day we had a few appointments we were really excited about but sadly they all fell through. We didn't know what to do and then I had the thought "Well we might as well stop by Trina's and see if she needs help with anything else  for tonight." So we walked over to her house and she let us in and I asked "So are you excited for tonight?" and she said "Nope!" and I was shocked. She then said that her and her boyfriend had a massive fight that morning and that he had left and she didn't know where he had gone. I about had a heart attack. We decided to kneel and have a prayer and we prayed that his heart would be softened and that everything would work out. It occurred to me that Satan was doing everything he could to prevent the baptism from happening. We just sat there and waited with her for what seemed like forever. We didn't talk much except to assure her that everything would be okay. I think we were all praying as hard as we could in our hearts. Finally after an hour and a half he showed up with his family so that they all could go and finish setting up the wedding. I was so grateful. As we were leaving, Trina said "I am happy you showed up because I was about to have a smoke. I figured we weren't getting married and I wasn't going to get baptised I might as well feel better by smoking. I don't know what I would have done had I smoked and then he came back and still wanted to get married. Thank you for coming." I couldn't believe it. We were led by the spirit and we didn't even know it. I guess sometimes our plan A isn't the Lord's plan A because He knows everything and He knew we needed to be there with Trina to help her through the temptation that could have ruined everything. 

Friday night Trina  and her boyfriend Percy were married by the Bishop in the cultural hall of the church building. It was supposed to be a small wedding in the Bishop's office but they invited all of their family and so it turned into quite the ordeal. The relief society even had table decorations. It was really pretty actually. Immediately after the marriage we had the baptism service. All three of us got to speak and then we got to watch Trina enter the waters of baptism and make that sacred covenant with her Heavenly Father. I almost cried I was so happy. I haven't felt joy like that before. It was like I was allowed to feel a little bit of what Heavenly Father was feeling as one of His daughters took the first step towards returning to live with Him. It was incredible. When she came out of the water she was so happy. She jumped up and down in the bathroom just crying because she was so happy. It was an amazing experience. 

I want to just say again that I have the two greatest companions ever. I cannot tell you how much I love these two sisters. We have so much fun together. It seems like every minute that isn't spent in a lesson or other serious situation we are laughing. I haven't laughed this hard this consistently in my life. Sister Vea has this standing joke with one of the elders and its that when they finish their missions at the same time they are going to fly home together and get married. She says things like "Elder Ipson, when we get married I want you to buy me a house like that" or something along those lines and he always turns bright red. Sister Vea doesn't really like him (we are missionaries remember) but she is always teasing him. The other night we got a text from Elder Ipson's companion Elder Krull who is our district leader. He was trying to be spiritual and teach us something and so he said "What is the greatest gift you could give someone? It would have to be eternal." and so I responded by saying "Sister Vea wants to give Elder Ipson and eternal marriage. Does that count?" and Elder Krull texted back and said "hahahahahaha the best part of that was his reaction." Apparently he turned more red then he ever has. We are just always having a good time. 

Now the three of us are the only sisters in our zone and somehow this competition has started between all of the other elders as to who we like more. They are always having competitions to be our favorite. They always make/bring us food (which is bad because its really good) and they argue over who gets to give us rides. Its awesome. If we need a ride somewhere we just call one of the elders and they are happy to come get us and take us wherever we need to be. I would like to say that we are not taking advantage of this but in all reality we are but it makes our lives so much more enjoyable. We are blessed though because our zone has some of the best elders in the mission. 

So this is the highlights of my week. I can't say enough how great it was. I am so happy in this area because I have amazing companions, an amazing ward, and amazing elders that we get to serve with.

I hope that everyone at home has a great week and that everything goes well for all! I love and miss all of you!


This is a picture of Percy and Trina and the three of us right before she was baptised. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Dear Family!

    I hope you are ready for a really exciting letter because this one is going to be good. 

Well now that I have built it up too much here is my week. So first of all I have to say that I absolutely love my new companions and my new area. I have to say as much as I miss the Visitors' Center and the McLachlans, this is the happiest I have been on my mission. The ward we are in is amazing and they are so into missionary work. The work in the area is booming and I have the best companions I could have asked for. Sister Gunnell is the sweetest thing ever and we have so much in common (except she loves Mexican food) and Sister Vea is the funniest person I have ever met. I tell you we all laugh so hard together that our sides hurt. I wasn't sure how things were going to work when I realized that I would be in a trio with and american and a Tongan but somehow things have just clicked and we love each other so much. Sister Vea was trained for six weeks by a sister who just finished her mission and I guess Sister Vea was miserable the whole time and then she was devastated when she found out she would be in a trio with two Americans (she thought we were going to be mean and exclude her I guess) so now she says all the time how happy she is and how much she is loving her mission. I hope you all get to meet Sister Vea one day because she is one of the funniest people I have ever met. I am serious when I say we laugh all the time. In fact I was talking to my district leader last night on the phone and he said "Have you and your companions thought of anyways to make the work fun. I know sometimes it can get a little hard and repetitive." and I just laughed and said "Have you met my companions? We have fun all the time!" and he agreed with me. I tell you I am just so happy.

Now on to the exciting stuff. So we have an investigator named Trina and she is going to get baptized on Friday! Oh my gosh I am so excited. She is going to marry her less-active boyfriend at 6:00 pm and then get baptized at 7:00 pm. It is just so cool because they have three little children so it is the beginning of an eternal family. I have seen a change in Trine in just the short time that I have known her and she keeps telling us how excited she is to be baptized. She has asked me to give a talk on baptism and then my two companions and myself are also going to provide a musical number. It should be a great evening and we are so excited. 

So the other night we were walking to our dinner appointment and we walked passed tow ladies and we started talking to us and I was surprised because they seemed really eager to talk with us. But then they identified themselves as Jehovah's Witnesses and all they wanted to do was bible bash. It was scary and exciting at the same time because this was my first real life bible bash. But as you know we don participate because the spirit can't be there when there is contention. so we just stood there and listened to them tear our church apart and compare it to theirs. I was just waiting for them to stop talking so I could thank them and then we could be on our way. But out of nowhere Sister Vea interrupts them with her loud Tongan voice and she says "I don't believe what you are saying so you can stop talking talking. But I do believe that our church..." and she proceeded to bear the most powerful and beautiful testimony. It was amazing and it brought tears to my eyes. I then had to opportunity to testify of what she had said and then bear my own testimony and the two woman just stood there stunned. It was amazing. They couldn't argue with our testimonies and they couldn't argue with what we knew to be true. It was so cool. We walked away feeling ten feet tall. 

So I would like everyone that is reading this to take a minute and think about the best excuse you have ever heard from someone for not going to church. Any thoughts? Well while you are pondering I will tell you the best one I have ever heard. So the other day we went to visit this less-active who is the nephew of our ward mission leader. Anyways we were talking to this guy and I was surprised by how well he knew the scriptures and we had a really good conversation about the gospel. Finally I asked him why he doesn't come to church and he said the following "You know how the church says we have to honor and up-hold the laws of the land and support our government? Well I don't come to church because I am currently doing everything I  possibly can to destroy the New Zealand government. I just cant be a hypocrite so I will come back after the government is destroyed." He then proceeded to say that he writes and email to the dictator of North Korea ( I have no idea how to spell his name) begging him to invade and take over New Zealand. Let me just say that we had some good laughs with that one. At the end of the lesson however he committed to come and watch conference this weekend. I tell you I have met some of the most interesting people since I have been here. 

Another thing that happened this week is the bugs came back. That's right I got eaten alive again last night and I am devastated. My legs are covered again and our flat doesn't have any flea poison so we are going to try and find some today at the store. But I just bleached and washed my bedding and I will use the mattress and pillow cover you sent me mom. I will also start using the wipes you sent as well. I haven't had to use them because this is the fist time I have been bit since I left temple view. Hopefully I can get this under control quickly. I just don't want to go through what I went through last time. 

Well that is about it for this week. I hope that everything is going well for everyone. One of the members was saying that some crazy stuff is happening in America right now. I love and miss all of you!


This is a picture of Sister Gunnell, myself, and Sister Vea. I love my companions!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Dear Family!

Well I guess I should start off by telling you that I am not in Hamilton or the VC any more. I am now serving in the Fairy Springs ward in Rotorua. It is about an hour and a half south of Hamilton. I am still in shock from it all and this has been a very long week.

So last Tuesday night President Rudd came to the VC and he pulled me into the office by myself and he told me that it was time for me to leave the VC and that I was going to be transferred to Fairy Springs, Rotorua. Now the people here in New Zealand call Rotorua "Roto-vegas" because it has some of the same qualities of Las Vegas. So hearing this I was terrified. He then told me that I would be finishing training a sister that had been serving for six weeks as well as training a new missionary. I was so overwhelmed I couldn't even see straight. I tell you I didn't sleep at all for the next two nights. 

Wednesday was filled with goodbyes as I told my investigators and the friends I had made good-bye. I will attach some of the pictures we took that night so you can see. I have to say though that the toughest good-bye by far was the McLachlan's. I cried. I just love them so much and I couldn't imagine going a day without seeing them. I tell you that it has since been easier than I thought but at the time I thought I was going to die. I guess the reason I was so sad was because they are going home in January and the earliest that I will be back in the VC is April. This means that I won't get to serve with them again and that breaks my heart. But I have already planned a trip to Canada when I get home so I will see them again. They have also planned to come down here to Rotorua and visit me so hopefully I will get to see them soon.

Now for my new area. We share a ward with a set of elders because the ward that I am in is the highest baptising area in the mission. Between us and the elders we have about a baptism every weekend. Next Friday one of our investigators is going get married and baptised on the same night. It should be really exciting. There is a lot of work to do here and so for that reason I am excited. While this may be a high baptising area there seems to be some problems with retention and so that is something that we are really going to work hard on. There are a lot of recent converts that have already gone in-active and so we will be working hard at reactivation as well. 

It's weird because I thought that I was going to be miserable once I left the VC but to be honest I'm not. I am actually really happy and I don't really know why. I guess because there is so much to do and I feel like I can really make a difference here. My two new companions are great too. Sister Vea has been serving in this area for six weeks and so I have really been relying on her. She is from Tonga and oh my gosh she is so much fun. I feel like she is laughing all the time. It is great. Sister Gunnell is just starting her mission and her training but she is already amazing. She is from Mesa Arizona so I instantly loved her! She is so cute and sweet and we really get along well. I am really happy with my two new companions and I can tell that we are going to enjoy serving together.
I have to say though that when we first got to the area I almost had a meltdown because we walked into the flat and it was disgusting. There are not words to describe what was happening in there. I thought "That's it I am going home I can't do this!" I said a prayer in my heart and tried to figure out what to do. Typically we are supposed to just drop our stuff off and then go to work but I thought there is no way I can live like this so I made the decision to start cleaning everything up right away. It took forever but we finally got it into habitable conditions. Day by day we are slowly deep cleaning the flat from one side to the other and soon it will be a nice place to live. I felt so bad though for Sister Gunnell because I know that first day was really hard on her. It was hard on all of us but especially her because it was her first day. I think she is enjoying it now though and we are starting to really have a lot of fun. It is going to be a great transfer. 

So Rotorua is a tourist/entertainment town that is big on the party scene and it can be pretty scary at times. We don't have a car so we walk everywhere and we have to be in the flat by 8 pm. (Which works out because Sister Vea has to do an hour of language study every day) The elders are really generous and they take us places at night so that nothing bad will happen. Remember at the beginning of my mission in one of the first letters I wrote home where I told the story of the two sisters that were chased by four drunk men? Well those are the sisters that we replaced. I think its a bit ironic because I told myself I would never serve where that happened and here I am. I feel safe though and I know that if I am in tune with the spirit I will be protected. I know I walk with angels so don't worry about me. I just thought that was funny. 

Well I hope that everyone has a good week. I love and miss all of you. Really, don't worry about me because I am perfectly safe and I am loving it. I hope everything is well with all of you. Don't forget that I love and miss all of you!!!!

Sister Simkins

This was my last picture with the McLachlans. Can you see the massive stress could sore on my lip?