Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Crazy Week!!

Well, this week has been crazy but so exciting!!

There was an ET (emergency transfer), and one of our Sister missionaries in the District was transferred out. A new one came in. She had already decided to go home for medical reasons, but the Mission President wanted her to try a new area. She went home Wednesday. Because of that, her companion, Sister Bishop, is now combined with us. We are a trio covering the Green Valley Ward and the Bass Lake Ward...all in Cameron Park. It is a decent sized area! Sister Bishop has been here 6 months in Green Valley, so she knows EVERYONE! She only has one more transfer after this...so she is nearing the end. I was hesitant about a trio because Sister Parkinson and I have been working so well together, but over the last few days, it has gotten so much better! Sister Bishop is a little "trunky" (the term used when someone is about to go home and getting antsy haha), but we joke with her about it. We are all learning how to work and teach together. 
On Wednesday night, there was a huge stake activity at a park for Pioneer Day. It was so fun! I just love the early Saints of the Church and all they did. I am thankful we could honor them. 
Sister Parkinson and me, with our new companion, Sister Bishop! We are at the Pioneer Day activity for the El Dorado Stake. 

So, last week was hard for me as you know. But this week is completely different. I cannot even believe it! I have been so much happier. I read President Uchtdorf's talk on being "grateful in all circumstances," and it totally changed my outlook. Heavenly Father is answering prayers and miracles are happening!!

There is one that I am so excited to share. We got a referral from Church headquarters for a woman named Hannah. I guess referrals do not really work out well, so my companions were not super hopeful. I was pumped though. We go in to meet her. She is mid-20s I would day. She has a 4-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, and has since re-married. We walked in and she told us to sit down. She asked her friend to set her up with the missionaries, so she referred herself basically...how cool! She said her parents were members but that they went inactive before age 8, when she could be baptized. The last few years, she said she feels like she is missing something. She is so happy with her life, but she is still looking for something. She said everytime she thinks about it...The Mormon Church always comes to mind. I could not even believe it. She was basically saying that she pretty much knows the Gospel is the answer, so she needs to learn more. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a cry baby, and let me tell you, I started crying right there. The Spirit was so strong. Hannah was a miracle. She is the answer to my many, many prayers. I told her how much I admire her. Instead of going through life, trying to survive, she is seeking out answers and hope. She wants the blessings and promises the Gospel offers. It was incredible!! I was immediately connected to her. That was Saturday night. We set up an appointment to teach her the first lesson Monday night. Saturday night, after we left, I went home and cried to much haha. I just could not believe it. We taught her last night, and it went so well. We had left a Book of Mormon with her Saturday night and she read the introduction. Last night, she listened intently, and committed to read and pray about the truthfulness of what we were teaching. She was my very first "official" lesson in the field. And she was our first lesson to teach as a trio! It went smoothly. At the end, I committed her to be baptized!! She said if she comes to know the truthfulness, then Yes! And she said she knows she will get the answer that it is true :) She is on date for August 30th!!!!!!!! I am so so excited!! I was so nervous to ask her to be baptized. My companions said they chickened out their first time, so they were proud of my for following through haha. We brought a member with us to teach. She is young, too, and about to have a baby. She joined the Church a couple years ago. Her and Hannah connected SO WELL! We knew they would. Hannah loved the member. The member, Brianna, was able to testify about the difference the Gospel makes. I can see the change it will make in Hannah's life, and I know she sees it too. She is worried because her husband is not interested. He is SO SUPPORTIVE of her, but he just is not interested. But I do not think it will affect her in the long run of getting baptized. She is incredible and so ready for the Gospel!!!! It truly was a miracle.

We also have another great potential investigator. Ryan. His schedule is busy but he is interested. We are excited to see where it goes with him!

We had a former investigator come to Church on Sunday! The lessons were so powerful, and I know she felt the Spirit. Because we are over two wards, we go to church from 7:30am-4:30pm...between Ward Council and church. haha. Sundays are long, but I love it. Sister Parkinson and I spoke in the Green Valley Ward. They asked me to talk about why I decided to serve a mission.

We finally moved into our permanent place! It is with a member. Their son just left on his mission. They have an apartment attached to the house, so we stay there. It is so nice! I love having a home now that we know we will be in. I have been living out of a suitcase for so long. 

Our new place! It is in the country-ish part of the ward. It is a super-nice gated community, but all of the houses have tons of land. It is cozy! I love that I was able to un-pack. The view is so nice for running in the mornings. 

I know that Heavenly Father answers our prayers. When we keep our faith, press forward, and work hard....He will provide. I have seen it. I am so excited to continue working in this area. Great things are coming, people!!!!!!

To end this letter, I just received news that a girl in my pledge class at OU passed away. I cannot describe how sad it makes me at this time. I know all the Thetas are together and mourning. I love you all so much. We cannot always explain why these things happen, but if we turn to God, we can find peace and comfort. My prayers are with the Witcher family, with my Theta family, and with the OU community. Stay strong and know you are loved. 

Until next week,
Sister Hickman

P.S. We had interviews with our Mission President, so that is why P-day is on a Tuesday this week. I have printed out everyone's emails and will write back today and send them out!!! :) 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

First Few Days in the Mission Field!

Hi hi everyone!! 

So Wednesday, after you last heard from me, we got our trainers and our areas!! The training program is 12 weeks, so my trainer and I will be companions for the next 3 months at least. She will only have one transfer left after that (6 weeks), so we will most likely be together here until she leaves on November. 

Sacramento California Temple. We got to walk around it on the first day! We are able to attend the Temple 4 times a year. 
Her name is Sister Parkinson, and she is from Boise, Idaho. She was born and raised in Minnesota, and they moved to Idaho only a couple years ago. She is my age, and did a year at BYU before coming out. We are serving in the Green Valley Ward in the El Dorado Stake, and the city is Cameron Park Area. It is about 30 minutes NE of Sacramento. She did her first 6 months in this area (but in the other ward), and there was a recent split of wards, so a lot of her old ward is our ward! (P.S. a ward is like a congregation...it is based on where you live). We are what you call "shotgunning," which means we are both new. It is known for being hard haha but at least she is familiar with the area from being here about a year ago! And she knows lots of people and people remember her!!
All of the new missionaries that I came out with. It was one of their biggest groups! I am the only new missionary in the El Dorado Zone.
She is so great! Very patient and loving. Not bossy or superior in any way. She teaches by example. She seems quiet at first, but she is so awesome at talking to people. I am so thankful to be with her! I think we will work great together. All the missionaries in the El Dorado area live with members. We are with a husband and wife now temporarily. The family we will be living with have their son at home from his mission because of surgery. He is going back out like next week so we will move in with them. I think they have a guest house for us. I like living with members because we are in a home and it is welcoming! 
My companion (and trainer) Sister Parkinson! She is so awesome. I could not have asked for a better trainer.

The ward and area is great. I am shocked at how nice everyone is! The ward is very missionary minded....they have 12 out from their ward...holy cow!!! There are not many investigators in the area...I guess the whole zone is struggling right now. It is very residential...hilly...and beautiful. I love it!! It is not a development, where all the houses look the same. They are all unique and have tons of character. It is very green. The weather is perfect!! It is not too hot because we are in the hills. It is cool when we run in the mornings. The area is middle/upper class, so there are a lot of families. 
Sister Kandare, Sister Campbell, and me with our trainers! We are the three Sacramento missionaries from our District in the MTC. I miss them already! 

A typical day looks like this:

6:30 Wake Up/Run/Eat Breakfast/Shower
8:00 Personal Study
9:00 Companion Study
10:00 Training (Just the first 12 weeks)
11:00 Lunch (usually take a little power nap in that hour)
12:00-9:00pm Find people!! Visit Less-Actives, part member families, former investigators, etc. There is an hour of dinner in there too.
9:00 Plan for the next day
9:45ish Get ready for bed
10:30 Bed

The day is very structured and it is important to be obedient and on time.I have not been having trouble waking up, so that is good! 
Here we are with our first assignments! They went to Cordova and Lodi and I went to El Dorado! I get to see them in about 5 weeks when they hold a new missionary meeting. They bring all the new missionaries together, so I am looking forward to seeing them soon! 
I am not going to lie, I have been struggling. It is so hard. There are not investigators from before we got to the area, and we are having trouble finding. I know it is only the beginning. It is tough. Rejection is tough. But I am surviving, and I know when I rely on my Heavenly Father, He will take care of me. Everyone who knows me knows that I seem bold, but I am actually very sensitive and cry a lot. Hahah do not worry, I cry about everyday. I would not go right to saying that I am enjoying and loving life. I will adjust eventually, but I need to maintain faith and hope and keep pressing forward. 
California Sacramento Temple 
Here are some quotes that have helped me this week:
"Our destiny is not determined by the number of times we stumble but by the number of times we stand up, dust ourselves off, and stride forward."
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf

"There are lives to brighten, there are hearts to touch, there are souls to save." 
-Thomas S. Monson

I do not want to be depressing by any means, but I just want to share the reality that it is hard, and I am having a bit of a rough time, but I am just going to keep my head up and pray for miracles. I know Heavenly Father is preparing the hearts of people in this area to accept our message and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have printed off everyone's emails...so I will read them and mail letters back today!! I love you all!! I hope life is going well. Pray for me, and I will be praying for you all.

Until next week,
Sister Hickman

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Arrival in Sacramento!!

I'M HERE I'M HERE!!! We arrived in Sacramento at about 9:00am their time, I think. It was so fun going down the escalator and being welcomed by our Mission President and his wife.There were about 15 elders and 8 sisters of us traveling together. My Mission President is Pres. Jardine (Jar + dine (like, I am going to "dine" tonight), and we are their first group coming out! They are from Ogden, UT.They are brand new! It is so special because they will always remember us as their first set of missionaries coming out. They are so sweet!! We are in the mission office now. We will have interviews today and other meetings. Tonight, we are having dinner in the Mission home to get to know them more. Tomorrow, we will be assigned our trainers and areas! I am so pumped! They have said all the trainers are AWESOME! 
Getting to call home before leaving for Sacramento!! Haha the sketchy pay phones were awesome. The next time I get to call home is Christmas!!! 

Some facts we have learned about the mission so far: There are about 250 missionaries total, and about 60 of them are sister missionaries. There are SEVEN languages in this mission! I can't believe it! English, Spanish, Laotian, Chinese, etc....can't remember the others...The mission is about 2 hours big, and we will get to attend the Sacramento Temple about 4 times a year. That is what we have gotten so far. They said it is very culturally diverse, but everyone is incredible. I am so excited to get started tomorrow! Today is just a lot of orientation stuff. I am getting used to being back in the real world haha. 
Getting to call home before leaving for Sacramento!! Haha the sketchy pay phones were awesome. The next time I get to call home is Christmas!!! 

I hand wrote everyone back today who wrote or emailed me in the last week...so watch out for those! I mailed them at the airport this morning! 

I am assuming P-day is Monday, so I will talk to y'all next Monday!!

With love,

Sister Hickman  

Final Week at the MTC

Hi hi everyone!

I cannot believe I leave the MTC tomorrow (Tuesday)!! We leave at 4:30am for the airport. I will be in the mission field in less than 24 hours!! Wow, I cannot wait!! This last week of training at the MTC has been incredible. I will fill you all in.
Pointing to my mission on the MTC map! 

Tuesday night, after I emailed home, we had the devotional that takes place every Tuesday night at the MTC, where a General Authority comes. Guess who came for us!? Elder Neil L. Anderson, one of the Twelve Apostles of our Church. He was incredible! We didn't even know until that night that he was coming. I guess the Apostles never come in July because that is their one month off for travel with their families, but his oldest grandson is in the MTC. How lucky are we! I do not think I have ever been in the same room as an Apostle. When he walked in, the whole auditorium of missionaries stood. I felt the Spirit testify to me so strongly that Elder Anderson is an Apostle of our Savior, Jesus Christ. That is a feeling I will never forget. He talked about teaching with the Spirit. It was amazing because I had been praying about that all week!! I always feel like I am not teaching by the Spirit, but his talk helped so much. We don't need certain skills or this or that to teach by the Spirit. We simply need to be humble, teachable, and obedient. 
I found Elder Slater at the Sunday night Fireside last week! So fun seeing him! 

Wednesday, Sister Edgel and I had the best lesson with Al (our "fake" investigator, who our teacher portrays). I have taught him everyday the last two weeks, and this was our best lesson. Not because we were good teachers that lesson, but because we testified so strongly and the Spirit was so present. He said something along the lines of "this Church seems too good to be true. I have to be missing something!" I bore my testimony and witness that it truly is what you see. I said that is why I am here, away from everything I know for 18 months, because this Gospel is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I will do whatever it takes for others to feel what I feel. This lesson was one of the most spiritual experiences I have had, and it was much needed for Al. I know he felt the Spirit too. 
​Our district with our morning teacher, Sister Stanford (to the left of me). She is from Southern California and served her mission in Indiana. 

On Thursday, we had In-field orientation. It takes place the Thursday before missionaries leave for the field. It was ALL DAY! But so so good. They talked to us about goals and planning, finding, working with members, etc. They helped us see what our missions will actually be like. I loved the insight about working with members because I think that is a huge part of a mission that is usually not talked about enough.
Thursday night, I saw Victoria Platt, who was baptized into the Riverside Ward when we were in young Women's!! She works in the TRC (Teaching Resource Center), which is the place in the MTC who organizes "fake" investigators for us to teach. so her job is to be an investigator, and she acts how she did when we was taking the lessons years ago. It was so fun seeing her!
Sister Edgel and me with our afternoon teacher in the MTC, Brother Kezele. He is from Idaho and served in the Baltic Mission. He is the most incredible teacher! 

Friday and Saturday were normal days in the MTC. Morning class, afternoon class, planning, personal study, companion study, gym, etc. 
Sunday was the best! I love Sabbaths in the MTC. They are so spiritual! In Sacrament meeting, there was a special musical number. A kid played the cello, and he was so bad haha. Not to be mean. BUT, I realized that I want to start playing the cello again when I get home from my mission, SO DON"T SELL IT MOM AND DAD! Music is a great way to bring the Spirit, and I love that. I want to be apart of it again. Hopefully playing for 11 years, I haven't forgotten these last two years since high school...
We had a district pow-wow. I started it haha because I love to share feelings! It was a great bonding experience for everyone in my district before we leave. I think it gave the Elders a lot of confidence. We had speakers and meetings the rest of the day. One speaker really touched me, as she talked about us ending our service as missionaries in 18 months. I vowed that when I take my name tag off and end my full-time service as an official representative of Jesus Christ, that I want to know I gave it my all with no regrets. I want to give 100% these next 18 months. We had a Departure devotional that night, where the MTC Presidency addressed us. We then had our Sunday Fireside, where the Administrative Director, Brother Heaton, talked about charity. And once again, that is what I had been praying for! I am working on having charity with everyone around me because that truly is the key to missionary work. 
My cute companion Sister Edgel and me in front of the Provo temple! 

Other things about the MTC. I loved my branch presidency, things are going well with my companion, Sister Edgel, and I still love my district. My teachers here were incredible!!! They strengthened my testimony so much here. People have asked about the food...haha let me just say I am excited to get away. There is so much, and it is so unhealthy!!!! the Elders love it, of course, but I am excited to eat exactly what I want. 
​Victoria Platt and me at the MTC. It was so fun running into her! 

Today is not my P-day, but since we are flying out tomorrow, we really will not have one this week. They are letting us email home really fast and do some laundry. 

Okay so, EMAIL IS SO HARD!!! There is not time to read and respond. I am trying to read them and write down your name, so I can hand write you back and mail it. I love love hearing from people, but email is not good haha. One hour is not long enough. Because I leave the MTC tomorrow, dear elder will no longer be a form of communication! Well, I guess you can still use it actually but you'll now send it to the "California Sacramento Mission." 
​Our district on our Sunday Temple walk. 

These two weeks have flown by. I have had the best experience here, and I want to try to be a teacher here after my mission when I am at BYU. The Lord blesses me daily with more strength than I need. I haven't been tired, which is great! 16 hour days will get ya sometimes. I love this experience, and I am excited to meet my Mission President tomorrow!!! 
Thank you all for your letters, emails, and words of kindness! You all know I am good at responding, so if you do not hear back from me, it is because there truly is not enough time in the day. But I think about you all and pray for you everyday. I love this Church, and I would not want to be doing anything else than sharing it with others. 
Next time I'll write will be in California!!!
Love y'all so much,
Sister Hickman 

p.s. The amazing and patient, Katie Turner, is the one updating my blog, social media, etc. She takes time out of her day to post these pictures on here that I send. I never see this blog, but I am thankful she does all of my social media for me!!!! She makes it all possible!! 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Week One at the MTC

WOW OH WOW PEOPLE WEEK ONE IS ALMOST DONE!!! I arrived last Wednesday. I am going to try to not give too many details, but this is the first one, so I want y'all to know what is going on. The first day we had a devotional with the MTC Mission Presidency. The Mission President and his wife, The Nallys, are the cutest. We all sang "Called to Serve" and "We'll Bring the World His Truth" as new missionaries. The Spirit was so strong. We met our district. So basically, the people we are with all day is our "district" and a couple districts make up a "zone." Just so when you hear those terms you know what they mean :) My district is 4 Elders and 4 Sisters. They are all going to the St. Louis Mission, but two sisters and me are going to Sacramento. My companion, Sister Edgel, is headed to St. Louis. She is from Las Vegas. She just finished her junior year at BYU and is majoring in physics teachings. She is SUPER bubbly and outgoing. Haha so she can be a lot, but I love her. She is a MAJOR perfectionist, but she loves the Gospel with her whole heart. We adjust to teaching together every lesson, but I am thankful for her because she is normal!!!!!!!! We literally spend every moment with our companions because we can never be alone (except for the bathroom of course). The other two Sisters in our district are the ones headed to Sacramento with me. They both finished their freshman year at college. Sister Campbell is from Utah and attended Southern Utah Univ. and Sister Kandare went to BYU-I. We all get along so well, and it is only the 4 of us in our 6 person room. The Elders in our district are SO YOUNG! All just graduated high school. Haha kind of dweebs, but I love them. We tell them they are our little brothers. They are learning lots everyday. Our district is seriously so close and we are obsessed with each other. Every teacher wants to be with us because we all care so much and stress a lot (which isn't needed) but we just want to be good missionaries.The first day was overwhelming, but so spiritual and incredible. 
 Aunt Dottie, Me, Annalee, and Mychal when they dropped me off at the MTC!
The rest of the days are pretty much the same. We have class in the morning and afternoons. Gym time in the late afternoon. Lots of scripture study time. The MTC is like a little mini-college campus. On the second day, Sister Edgel and I were made the Sister Training Leaders of our Zone (Girl Zone leaders) for the rest of our time at the MTC. For you old people out there that served missions, they have added these Sister Missionary leadership positions. We are in charge of the Sisters in our Zone, but Sisters are responsible, so we don't really deal with bad behavior. We just love them all and encourage them. My afternoon teacher is Brother Kezele. He is the man. He is so so awesome. We had different subs in the morning class because our teacher was out of town. She just got back...Sister STandford. Apparently she is like the best teacher, so we are excited to learn from her. All day we learn in PReach My Gospel, the Scriptures, everything.  
I'm Official!!! The First Day at the MTC

Sorry if this isn't making since, I am like shaking writing because I have been waiting so long!
I want to talk about the 4th of July. The day was pretty normal, but the evening was INCREDIBLE. It probably was my first 4th not at the lake, and it was a little sad at first. But, at night we had a devotional from the MTC Presidency. They talked a lot the importance of this holiday because this would be the country that the Gospel would be restored. We had awesome musical numbers, and we watched 17 Miracles. For those non-Mormons out there, it is a movie about some of the Mormon pioneers crossing the plains. I sobbed through the whole thing. I had seen it before, but as a missionary, it really hit home. Sometimes we feel like so much is being asked and that it is impossible to accomplish it all, but GOD ALWAYS PROVIDES! I needed to see the faith of those pioneers. I love the early Saints of the Church so so much. We then got to go outside and watch the fireworks from the BYU Stadium of Fire. It was nice of them to let that happen!
Sister Edgel (My Companion) and Me

Sunday at the MTC is incredible. We had fast and testimony meeting, and then we had mission conference. So like a huge devotional all together. We then had Branch activities, and a fireside that night.   I saw Elder Slater!!! It made me so happy to see someone from home!!! He is on the West campus (that is where all the Spanish-speaking missionaries are). But they occasionally get bused over for devotionals. He seems to be doing great. 
My District on our Temple Walk... yes, we color coordinated. We are that obsessed with each other!

OVerall, the MTC is great. It is so so hard. This is the hardest thing of my life. Not the waking up, or getting a full workout in, or being tempted by the sweets at every meal, or the staying with your companion at all times, or the annoying 18-year-old Elders. No, that is not the hard part. The hard part is teaching investigators about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We know it and we love it. And all we want is for them to know it too. And, it is SO HARD to teach with a companion!!!! wow wow. So a lot during the day is teaching. Our teachers portray their investigators from their mission, and we teach them everyday and progress. Also, the MTC has the TRC (Teaching Resource Center) and we are assigned an investigator. Some are real, some are members portraying others, some are in-active members, or some are recent converts. We teach them throughout our stay at the MTC. Oh, and an investigator is what we call non-Mormons taking lessons from the missionaries, who want to know more.

The girls in my District! 
Okay this is long sorry, But this is the overview. I know my grammar isn't perfect...I literally am typing and thinking so fast. I am not homesick because we are so focused on our work. But it is fun to get letters at night from Dear Elder.com so PLEASE WRITE!!!!!! I love to hear from people! Also, if you wrote me and don't get an email back that means I ran out of time but I will handwrite you today and mail it! Because I have lots of time today to write letters. 

We love each other! 
I really am loving it, learning A LOT ABOUT EVERYTHING, and I cannot believe it has been a week. The Spirit is so strong. You really do feel different as a missionary. I love you all so much, and I cannot believe the journey has started. I know this Church is true because it blesses my life everyday. It is incredible how God trusts thousands of imperfect, dorky, and young adults to help with His work. 

Until next week,

Sister Hickman  
Woah...normal clothes?? I almost forgot what it was like :) Thank goodness for P-Day!