Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Few Pictures From Her Last Days In Spartanburg.

Bryndee, Sister McNeece, and Sister Stout enjoying the cute ear muffs I sent them.  At least they are pretending for my sake.  :-)
Sister Stout, Bryndee (with my earmuffs), Jeffery, and sister McNeece modeling the hats Jeffery bought them. 

Sister McNeece, Sister Stout, and Bryndee with the "Disneyland" of all librarys behind them.  If you know Bryndee and her love of reading a building this large full of books really is "Disneyland". 


Monday, November 25, 2013

See Ya Later Spartanburg!

Welp, transfer calls were this week……………..Audios Spartanburg! I’m pretty sure I’m destined to be the most transferred missionary in the SCCM. I was talking to one of the other sisters, who’s going home this transfer, and she’s only had 4 areas! Ever! And believe it or not…. that’s a normal thing. :) I’m really excited for the new challenge though J should be an exciting week!
This transfer FLEW by. I’m almost at my ½ way point?!? Whaa?!?! That is NOT okay with me. weirdest. thing. ever...... who knew missions went so fast?!? I had my bi- transfer interview with president this last week, and he looked at my record and said "wow. Before you know it, you'll be going home!"
Thanks President..... :P
So, yesterday was my last Sunday in Spartanburg. I was sitting in 1st ward sacrament, and I hadn’t told anyone I was leaving yet, when bishop stands up and announces that he had forgotten to call one of his sacrament speakers, so he asked all 3 of us sister missionaries, from the pulpit, to speak in sacrament. I hear this kind of thing happens often, but… it was the first time speaking in sacrament since I’ve been on a mission. I actually kind of enjoyed it. I got to share a scripture with the congregation, and bear a simple testimony. It was cool to see the people I’d grown to love in the congregation, including Jeffery. I think I’ve written a little bit about Jeffery, but It really hit me as I was sitting on the stand that he was the reason I was sent to Spartanburg. If you look at the numbers, the key indicators I’ve reported these last two transfers, it’s not too terribly impressive. We’ve struggled for people to teach up here. But….. I was so blessed to be a part of Jeffery’s life, in rescuing him and bringing him back into the gospel. He had been to church twice, gotten baptized, and then never came back. When we found him, he was a proud member of 1st Baptist of Spartanburg… but as we shared our testimonies with him, and pieces of the book of Mormon, he grew. He changed. And he came back. The Lord really, really blessed me with that.
This week, we had exchanges with Sister Baker. I love going on exchanges with new trainees.... it’s one of my favorite things. She has so much MTC fire, and just loves being a missionary. We got the opportunity to teach a lot of lessons with her, and her teaching really impressed me. She really knows how to testify with the spirit. We also got to teach a really cool lesson to Te’arra and Domonique. They felt the spirit and asked us if we could teach their deployed sister over skype, and asked us to come to their Thanksgiving dinner to meet all the rest of their family. Awesome J I can’t wait to see Sister Stout at MLC and find out how it goes J
Bryndee, Sister Baker, and Sister McNeece.
So, we had a bit of a scare this week. Our investigator, Wanda (who has a lot of health problems) had dropped off the face of the earth for a few weeks. We finally just stuck a note in her door, and asked her to contact us. A few weeks later, it was still there. Nobody had gone in or out. We were seriously scared that she had died in there……. So we had Bro. Holstein, an undercover cop in the 2nd ward, to go and do a ‘welfare check’ on her (apparently, that’s an actual thing that cops do… who knew?) Good news! She’s alive and kickin’! J we’re eager to start teaching her again.
So, shortish letter this week, but that’s okay. Life is superb, I love being a missionary, and I don’t ever want it to end!!!
Ya’ll have a blessed week!
Sister Derrick
Happy Birthday Sister McNeece
Sister Stout, The Birthday Girl, and Bryndee.

Bryndee and Sister Stout got up early to decorate for Sister McNeece's Birthday. 

Silly girls!  Sister McNeece, Bryndee and Sister Stout

Burrrrrrrr it's cold outside!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Elder Bednar Came and Taught!

So. An apostle of the Lord came to our mission this week. He gathered up every single missionary serving in the state, put them all in the West Columbia Stake Center, and did not teach a single thing.
It was amazing.
When I heard Elder Bednar was coming, I expected him to stand up at the pulpit, and speak to the missionaries… deliver a wonderful, inspiring address on how to better do missionary work. That’s not what happened at all.
He did nothing, all night, but ask us questions. ”Those that were here when I came last year, what happened? What did you learn? What do you know to be true? What did you learn from the 3 talks I sent you to read before I came?” We got to stand up, one by one, and talk with a prophet of God. And then he would let us ask him questions, and answer us with more questions. He never once gave us a straight answer, but he would point us to scriptures, tell us stories, and guide us to figure out an answer for ourselves. He got out of the way of the spirit, and it was so cool.
A few quotes/thoughts/topics:
-The Bednar Book of Mormon. His answer to most of our questions was “I want you to get an inexpensive, paperback copy of the Book of Mormon, and read it with that question in mind. Mark it with the answers you receive from the spirit. Then write a 1 page summary of what you learned in the front, and then put it on the shelf and start a new one with a new topic.” He told us that he has hundreds of copies of the book of Mormon, each with a different topic, sitting on a shelf. His sons often ask him if they could read them. His response was, and I quote “if you so much as touch those, I’ll break your arm.” We all laughed and then he went on to say “but…. I’ll buy you a bookshelf. I want you to learn it for yourself, otherwise it won’t stick.”
-The Lord’s pattern. Basically, the way the Lord teaches. He calls something to our attention, asks us an inspired question, and keeps doing it, gently guiding and shaping our thinking. (Also the current topic of the Bednar BOM I started yesterday J) see D&C 88:122
- “The same person never goes into the same river twice”. We are constantly changing, and so are our surroundings. That’s why we need to continually be learning, and that’s why we can read the book of Mormon so many times, and still learn new things. A cool promise he gave us “if you stay close to the Book of Mormon, and keep reading it for the rest of your life, you will never fall away.” Never is a big word…. Especially coming from a Prophet of God.
-“Let go of the scripts.” He called the western world too scripted, with these visiting teaching conferences and family home evening programs you find on the internet…. They are not that important. “come with me to Africa” he said “where they think their biggest problem is ‘Elder Bednar, we have thirteen to sixteen conformations every week, and we run out of time… should we hold a separate meeting?’ I told that dear brother ‘Count your blessings! You don’t have to listen to sacrament talks! The conformations are important… just get rid of Sunday school! That’s better done at home anyways. What are important are the ordinances of the sacrament and those conformations.”
-“If you can find an answer, that’s better than me doing it.”
-“My only agenda is that you need me less, and the Lord more.”
-“I’m preparing you for your future, not just telling you stories.”
-when investigators ask you a question, invite them to find the answer. “Let’s see if we can find something in the scriptures helpful to you.” Ask “what do you already know about the answer to your question?”

-The Lord asks us to be like Peter, and walk on water. In order to do that, we must jump out of the boat, out of our place of safety and comfort, and keep our eyes on the Savior. We must trust that he will never let us completely drown, but that does not mean that I won’t sink and choke on some water. So many people fall away because they lose that trust.
Throughout this meeting, I have never prayed so hard that I wouldn’t forget anything. The spirit was so strong, but not because of Elder Bednar. It was because of the missionaries, who asked and prepared for it. Elder Bednar just stepped out of the way. That’s the most scary, vulnerable thing I can think of… no agenda, no plans, just go. It was so wonderful!
Y’all have a blessed week!
Sister Derrick
p.s. on a super random note…. Dad- remember a couple years ago when you were teaching the youth about profiles? You made a joke about using it as a pickup line… “So….. Sister Derrick….. I saw your profile….. ;)”
That totally happened to me this week. Way funny J
Haha it was a ridiculous Elder.... made me laugh :) dumb joke, I guess :)
 It doesn't matter what age they are if you give a girl a dress with a full skirt they will twirl!
Some cute kids that kept wanting to touch their hair.
Exchanges with Sister Simmons, Bryndee, and Sister Stout.
Exchanges with Sister Lester, Sister Mcneece, and Bryndee.

Sister McNeece and Bryndee modeling their South Carolina T-Shirts.
(It looks like they found a place to hang their zebra picture)

Bryndee and Sister McNeece enjoying the beautiful weather by studying on the balcony.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Nothin' Could Be Finer...

So, randomly before I start the bulk of my letter, an announcement: remember Dennis Barry? The 70 year old veteran I was teaching with Sister Belyea in Simpsonville? So, Yesterday I got word that he GOT BAPTIZED!!!! It was such a bittersweet moment when I found out. I’m so, so happy for him…. I just wish I could have been there! I bet he had the BIGGEST smile on his face when he came out of that water… he wanted it so bad. I’m so proud of him J
Okay, now for my crazy ridiculous week. We went on 4 exchanges this week! I feel like I haven't seen my actual companions in a month.... but it’s been such a good week. I started with exchanges with Sister Boyson, and then with Sister Gale, and then with Sister Lester, and finished off the week with a stake program called mini-missions (where the youth get to go on exchanges with the missionaries, from 8:30 in the morning until 9:00 at night. So fun.), so my companion was a 16 year old sister from Boiling Springs named Sister Jones. I don’t think I have ever been so exhausted. (I know I say that a lot… But I really mean it this week.) It’s been really, really hard, but so uplifting to serve with so many phenomenal missionaries. I’m excited to get to spend this next week with the sisters in Union, Greenville 2nd, and Boiling Springs.
Things that happened this week:
(In no particular order, mostly because I can’t remember it…)
-Sister Gale, Stout and I put Whitley on date for baptism. I think I’ve written a little about her? She’s a 20 something girl with more sass than Kymber (and that’s impressive!) She is SO. Much. Fun to teach! Anyways, she has been having a hard time believing that she can change. She carries around a lot of guilt and shame for things that have happened in the past, and she wasn’t sure if she was ready to be baptized. We were able to testify to her of the power of the atonement, and let her know that her Heavenly Father loved her too much to let her carry all that around with her. It was such a cool spiritual moment!
-I tried Zaxby’s for the first time. Oh my heavens…. We need to get some of those out west.
-We started a 40 day fast in our ward. Every day, for 40 days, we have a family sign up to fast for missionary work. The first day, Sister Bowman had signed up to fast (the one with the dog?). She wanted to help so badly, but she can’t medically fast from food… so what did she fast from? Facebook Games. J It made me so happy!
-Larry is back on date. He had stopped progressing, so we were getting ready to give him a break. We went over to let him know that we probably wouldn’t be seeing him for a little while, and ended up having a super powerful lesson. He prayed, right then and there, to know if the Mormon Church was the church that Heavenly Father wanted him to go to, and the spirit filled the room so thick you could almost touch it. He stands up, and says that he wants to go to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the rest of his life, even if he has to walk. Awesome moment.
-S. McNeece (by the spirit, mind you…) promised a pretty fantastic blessing to someone. Yeah. She promised someone a girlfriend. J
-We found a new trailer park to knock! Who knew I would grow to love trailer parks and projects so much???
- We had a crazy lesson with a less active sister in the 2nd ward. She kept going off on tangents, and we had to try to bridge her tangents back to the gospel. Who knew you could relate the headless horseman to Enos? J
-I met a Layton from Thatcher! Small world, huh?
-Jeffery, our less active we have been working with in the 1st ward, FINALLY came to church yesterday!!! :D :D :D He had a blast! He walked up to us after Relief Society/ Priesthood, and told us “yall can’t come by after church anymore…” we were a little worried…. But then he follows up with a HUGE grin, and says “I’m not going to be home. I’m goin’ home teachin’!!!!” Best. Moment. Ever.
Jeffery has also told us that he wants to take us to the super bowl (apparently he has tickets…) along with Elder lamb, who he really seems to like for some reason. J
So, there’s my week. Nothin’ could be finer, than serving in south carolin-er! ;
Yall have a blessed week!
S. Derrick

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Multicultural Testimony Meeting!

No we don’t have I pads yet.... but at MLC this week, I got to see one! President is telling us that by December, we will have permission to long on to our old Facebook account, and use them (after a good scrubbing :)) to share the gospel with the world! We also get our own I pad mini, which will replace our scriptures, area books, planners, and GPS's. It will also be ours to keep after our time serving is up. It’s so cool how the Lord advances technology to bring to pass his work in these High-tech times.
Sunday, we had testimony meeting in church. For those less familiar with Latter-day Saint services, a testimony meeting is when members of the congregation are given time to stand at the pulpit and share what they know to be true. We all get to strengthen one another by sharing experiences and how our faith in Jesus Christ helped us and blessed our lives. First we had a sister from Latin America stand and share her testimony of the blessings of the temple, and making promises with God. Then we had a 7 year old girl stand up and share how she was helping her teacher to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ, through a daily journal entry she wrote. She would take journal topics like "what are your 3 favorite fall activities?" (Halloween, thanksgiving, and General Conference) and "who is your favorite person?" (Heavenly Father) and share what she knew to be true with her teacher. We then had Brother Turner (one of my favorite members. He's African-American, and has hair like Albert Einstein!) Stand up and share his testimony of modern day prophets. He knew that God loved us, and that there was no way that he would just quit speaking to us. It was neat :) we than had a darling little Asian sister stand, and thank her Heavenly Father for the healing of her husband, who had been in the hospital. She didn't speak a word of English, but she had her daughter come up and translate for her. The final speaker was a sister named Candy, who is a California transplant, and just returning to the church. She stood up and emphatically declared that she was "SO STOKED! I HAVE MY TESTIMONY BACK, DUDES!" it was soooo her, and absolutely perfect :) One thing I really love about this church is that it really is for everyone. No matter your race, creed, or kind, the gospel is for you, and it will improve your quality of life. "It could not be of man, man isn’t That Smart..." -Bishop Mather :)
This week was an interesting one for the Spartanburg sisters. We have really been trying to figure out how to balance the work in both of our areas. In the 2nd ward, the work is rolling forward, almost faster than we can keep up with, which is wonderful. In the 1st ward, not so much. We're having a hard time finding solid investigators in that area. The interesting thing is, when we were setting baptismal goals for our two areas, we had originally set it for 2 in the 2nd ward, and 1 in the first ward. We were all feeling pretty confident in our goals, so we went to go pray about it. we had decided to pray individually, so I knelt down and started letting our father in heaven know what we had decided, when I got a very strong impression that our goals needed to be switched. I was pretty confused. I prayed again. I got the same prompting. Then, when we reconvened, I discovered that both of my companions had felt the same way... I don't know how the Lord is going to make it work, but I have faith that he can, and we've decided to work three times as hard to make it happen :)
We also found out that we have an additional companionship to go on exchanges with this transfer, bringing our exchange total to 8. In a 6 week period. We have 3 exchanges this week, and 3 again next week. So busy! It’s wonderful!!!
So, one of our investigators who is moving to Taylors, SC, gave us a GIANT picture of a zebra to put in our apartment. It was way interesting trying to fit that massive picture in our tiny little Jetta. We ended up putting it in our open trunk, and strapping it down with the strap from my purse. Pictures attached.
The very large zebra picture
Well, I hope y’all are being brave, and sharing the gospel like crazy!
Have the most blessed of weeks, y’all!

Sister Derrick

 Fun Halloween slippers I sent them.  Glad I could be a part of their Halloween festivities!
Bryndee modeling her new wool coat and winter clothes I sent.  Looking good Sis!
 A famliy that fed them asked if they could show the girls their "baby".  I can't tell if it is real...what do you think?

A map of the world.  All the red dots are where she has friends serving.  Fun to see!