Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Week 5 of Transfer Two!

Hi everyone!!!

I cannot believe we only have one week left in this transfer! After next week, I will no longer be able to use the "new missionary--I am still training" excuse. Haha the 12-week training will be over! So heads up, next week, P-day will be on Tuesday because it is transfer week. We will get our calls next Monday night saying what will happen. I AM FREAKING OUT!!!!! I do not want to leave this area!! Or Sister Parkinson!!! She has only one transfer left. so weird! Anything could happen. She could leave, I could leave, or we could stay. I could also see them putting one of us in Bass Lake Ward with a new companion and one of us in Green Valley Ward with a new companion. That is, if they split the wards again. I don't know, but I want us to stay together SO BADLY! I know it is Heavenly Father's will, so I need to just put my faith in Him. It is hard though haha I cry when I think about transfers.

So...this week! 

Tuesday night, we had a "blitz" in our two wards. A blitz is where all the missionaries in this zone come to our area and we all go out! We all split with members. So every missionary went out with a member and visited some of our former investigators, potential investigators, etc. It was such a success!!! We have re-connected with former investigators from a couple years ago. They said they do not know why the missionaries stopped coming. Hopefully, good things continue to come from the blitz! I went out with my Ward Mission Leader's wife, who is also a Ward Missionary. She is so sweet. She LOVED it haha. We did not even have THAT great of visits, but she thought it was the best. It was fun! We did not run into any rude people, so I was happy she had a positive experience! Some of the 18-year-old boys went with the Elders, and that was so good for them! Because their wards have sister missionaries, they never get to go out. They had a positive experience, so that was great in preparation for their missions!

On Thursday, IT RAINED AND POURED AND IT WAS THE BEST!!! I did not realize how much I have missed rained. Man, we needed it up here. We have been having a bad drought. The rain helped contain the fire so much!!!! Prayers were answered.

Saturday night, we went out to dinner with all the moms/daughters in the Green Valley Ward before the General Women's Broadcast. It was fun to be with them! They feel like family. The broadcast was great! If you watched it, you know if focused a lot on temples. What a blessing temples are! I am thankful for the truth and knowledge that comes from temples, and that my family can be together for eternity...this life is not the end with them (I do not know if I could have always said that is a blessing yo be with them for eternity :) haha kidding). Temples truly bind us all together. The Spirit was very strong at the meeting. I love President Uchtdorf's talk. He talked a lot about keeping ALL of God's commandments. There is a reason behind all of them, and we will be at our HAPPIEST if we keep them.

I cannot WAIT for General Conference this weekend! That is where the President of our Church and his Apostles will address of from Salt Lake City. So much guidance and direction comes from conference. It was last October General Conference where I received my answer to go on a mission now. I cannot believe that it has been a year since that! Wow, it goes fast. That was the best decision I have ever made. I have grown so much since then. If you have time, tune in at lds.org. I promise that when you listen to these leaders and focus on listening to the Spirit, that you will receive personal revelation for your life. It is the best!! It happens twice a year--April and October. So, this is a very special occasion!! 

This week, I was talking with a member who was talking to me about humility preceding faith. I have been thinking a lot about that. I am focusing on being humble and submitting to the Lord's will. I have the worst habit of thinking I know better. You would think I would know better by now!!! My legs are really bad and hurting. I do not understand because I ran more before my mission and was never hurt. Everyone keeps saying it is the Satan trying to get to me. It is frustrating and really bothering me. I am getting a priesthood blessing this evening. I am focusing on my faith that I will get healed and back to normal. This is why the member was talking to me about faith. It is the family we live with. He says he does not think I am having the faith to truly believe that God will fully heal me! It opened my eyes. I do not think I did when he said that. But, I have been praying a lot about it. This is a growing experience for me, and it does not even have to do with my investigators! However, it is an experience I need to grow through to make me a stronger missionary. 

Our investigators are great! They are progressing. Hopefully we get some on date for baptism this week. There are no pressing details to share. I love this work! This week will be crazy because it is Week 6, so we have it give it our all because we could be leaving! Ahh! 

It was so fun seeing pictures of my parents in Norman!!! They took my friends to breakfast and all had chocolate milk in my honor :) Haha I loved it. And they took some friends to dinner. That made my week seeing that! 
oh P.S. the no chocolate deal with our investigator and his limited alcohol.....IT IS HARD!!! I was really good at first, then had chocolate two days, and now I am doing well again. He is doing well! He is drinking less and less. Wow, I am glad we are in this together!!

Have a fantastic week!
Sister Hickman 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hi Everyone!!

Hi everyone!!

This was a great week!!! 

So Tuesday, these members took us to dinner at the buffet at the bottom of the Casino here. LOL. Mormon missionaries in the Casino. We were like, is this allowed!? Haha they take all the missionaries there. Seriously, everyone was STARING at us. These members are a SOLID family who joined the church 2 years ago. They are a miracle story. Completely normal and awesome! We tell them that they are every missionaries' dream!!! The dinner happened so fast and we had to run to a meeting, so we could not get a picture. I am bummed because we wanted that recorded. 

On Wednesday, we had exchanges. Sister Parkinson is the Sister Training Leader, so she has to serve one day with every sister in the zone because she reports to the Mission President on us. She went to the other area this day, and Sister Boata (from a small south-pacific island) came to me in our area. I was the driver, in charge, etc. Because I am such a control freak, I thought I could love it, but I DID NOT!!!!! Haha her English is not super great. I honestly felt like I was training all day, and I was like oh no, if I train I will be like the worst trainer every. I am not patient enough!!!!!!!! Wow, it was eye opening. I just love Sister Parkinson and do not want us to separate. We are just the best team ever! And, it was weird driving. I have not driven a car since I left on my mission! 

We FINALLY caught Hannah and Matt this week. It was great! They read Ether 12 that we had left them and really liked it! They were cooking dinner, so there were lots of distractions. We told them we would come back another night. We invited them to church and they said they wanted to come! All week we were so excited. Before church on Sunday, they texted and Hannah was in the ER :( She is doing alright. Hopefully we see them soon. There is so much potential with them, and I do not want to be transferred out!! We want to baptize them!!!

We had a great lesson with Karen and Caressa this week (The family history ladies who have been taught by the missionaries FOREVER). They talked about how they have been feeling the spirit so strong this time around and that the last month with us teaching them has felt different than every before. I'm like, YOUR TIME IS NOW!!!! :) The Spirit is always so strong when we teach them, but I think they are scared to be Mormons. That is pretty much what they say. They totally know it is true. We will have to see what happens. Hopefully this week, some good things happen there. 

On Saturday, we finally rode our bikes! Sister Parkinson's bike is still broken, but we decided to use one of the Gomm's bikes. It was so fun! We talked to so many people and the weather was cool! It is so hilly here, so it was QUITE the work out. But I need that haha. Mission weight probs....
I hope we ride bikes everyday this week because it is such a great way to talk to everyone you pass.
Our first day on bikes this past Saturday!! I loved it! I felt dumb, but you talk to so many more people. And it is quite the work out with all these hills.
A HUGE fire started last week about an hour north of here. Some crazy guy started it. It is like 80,000 acres big and only 10% contained. So sad. It has been the talk of the week. That is why it was cooler this week...the smoke is all in the air. Please pray for the area up here! A lot had to evacuate. 

In Bass Lake ward, we almost have this guy, Paul, on date for baptism. He has been taught on and off by missionaries for the last year. He is kind of dating this Mormon woman, so we are unsure of his intentions. He is in his 50s...never married. The knowledge is there, but he needs to have a spiritual experience. He is starting to read the Book of Mormon and pray! 

Last night, we made a deal with one of our investigators, who is having a problem with alcohol and smoking. He is an alcoholic, but he is trying to cut back. We told him we are going to work on this together! Sister Parkinson and I (mainly me) are addicted to chocolate. The members feed us dessert and we eat it like everyday! So, we told him we would give up chocolate everyday, and he is going to cut back on drinking everyday. We told him this would be hard for us, but we want to sort of feel what he feels! As missionaries, we help people change their lives and it is hard. However, if we are doing it with them, we can help them more. I know chocolate and alcohol are not quite comparable, but really, this will be so hard for me!!!!!
I will let you know how it goes :) We are praying for him. He really needs help because he is going through a lot right now. 

This is the day Sister Bishop was transferred! We are in front of the house we live in. Sister Gomm is on the left! She is the sweetest! This is her house.
Okay this is seriously so long. Sorry. But our investigators are all really progressing, and it is incredible to be apart of! I am so excited for this week. 
I have really been working on having great faith. Faith is something that I want to always want to be working on throughout my mission, so that when I come home, it is firm and there is a foundation. I know that as I let my faith grow and rely on it, that I will see Heavenly Father take care of me and bless my life.

I love you all and miss you!!!!

Sister Hickman 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Week 9!

Hi everyone!!! 

This week we did a lot of service. The Church launched something called JustServe.org where organizations and people can sign up for volunteers. The volunteers are us, the missionaries! They want us getting plugged into the community and serving others. This week, we painted a house for Habitat for Humanity. It was a blast! Our whole zone was there, and the workers from Habitat were so great. We bonded so well!!! It was fun to be out meeting people around us and serving. I am not sure which missions are doing this, but I think a lot of the California missions are.

We had a GREAT lesson with Karen and Caressa this week. They are the two that we did family history with a few weeks ago at the Church. They have been visited by missionaries for like 11 years, no joke. They have a strong faith, but they have never felt like God was telling them to read the Book of Mormon or anything. The last few times we have gone over, the Spirit has just been so strong, that we have been feeling like their time may be now! We taught the Restoration and talked A LOT about the Book of Mormon. It was such a powerful lesson. It was my first lesson to recite the First Vision by memory (I always get scared I will mess it up haha), and I was just consumed with the Spirit. The First Vision is the account Joseph Smith recorded of seeing God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. I know that Joseph Smith did see them, and that he was called then to restore Christ's Gospel again to the earth in these last days. We committed them to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. We left them 2 Nephi 31. We always committed them to be baptized if they came to know that this is true. They said yes! They both said that if God tells them to do this or anything, they will do it at the drop of a hat. Their faith is incredible, and I know I have to trust God's timing. They are so ready! So, Caressa stays with Karen because she did not have a place to live here. Karen has 2 adult sons who live with her, and her husband died about 6 years ago. That is some background on them :) We are hoping to get them up to the Temple grounds this week. 

We were not able to catch Matt and Hannah this week. Hopefully this week!!! They work so much! We keep praying for Matt's heart to continue to soften. 

The work has slowed down and bit, and it is hard to balance both areas. However, we love it! These areas and the members are incredible!!!!! I could not have asked for a better place to start my mission. There are 3 weeks left in this transfer. It is flying!!!! Sister Parkinson only has one more transfer left after this one, so we are HOPING they will keep us together over both these areas!! Usually, the trainer and trainee split after the 2 transfers together of the 12-week training program. Ugh! But we will see. I try not to think about it :) We have some solid investigators, who could totally be baptized in the next couple months! This week we had trouble catching them for lessons, so this week we really want to have sit-down lessons with them. 

It is crazy how normal mission life has become! I love it with my whole heart. Sister Parkinson and I both want to push harder this week and work our very hardest!!

I had some great experiences this week that strengthened my testimony on the importance of following the Spirit. It is so vital in missionary work! There is NO WAY we could do this by ourselves! I am thankful that if we are obedient and follow the commandments, that we can have the Spirit in our lives to lead and guide us. 

We will be waking up around 5:30am a couple times a week now to work out at our Ward Mission Leader's house in the Bass Lake Ward. Remember that incredible house I sent pics of? The Bishop's house? Well, his wife has a sister in the ward. And she is married to our Ward Mission Leader. They have a huge house on a ton of land, too. They have a great gym, so we are going to drive to that a few mornings every week. We were so excited when he showed it to us! Both of our Ward Mission Leaders are great! A Ward Mission Leader is a member at Church, who is assigned to work with you. They help the members with their missionary work, so that we, as missionaries, have more people to teach from the members!
Some woman at church knew someone who knew someone who knew me or something. I was not following, but this picture got sent home to my fam! This was on Sunday in-between our two wards."

This is just some stuff that is going on. I hope you all are doing well!!! Talk to you next week :)

Sister Hickman  

Monday, September 8, 2014

Just another week in the mission field!

Hi everyone!!!

I do not even know what to write this week. Haha. It was another great week hard at work! We are getting back into covering two areas. We try to switch off every other day with each area. We have a couple of investigators in each, but the teaching has slowed down a bit. We are hoping it picks back up. We were really hoping to have one of our investigators at Church, but he did not end up making it. 
Here is the group of missionaries the day we came out! This is us in the airport with President and Sister Jardine!

This was my first day in the mission field! This is my Mission President, President Jardine and his wife. They came out with us! They serve 3 years. 

I have one amazing miracle to share from this week. Remember Hannah from about a month ago? We had an incredible lesson with her and then she wanted to wait for her husband to kind of get on board? Well, about a month ago, he did not even believe in God. This past Tuesday night, we went over to check in on them. We started talking to Hannah and Matt, and he started really opening up. We found things we had in common for us, and he really started trusting us as people. Hannah talked about how they had not really read the Book of Mormon, but that her 3-year-old daughter had been looking through it. She said they had been reading the Bible together as a couple, and she had some questions about some verses, so we helped them out. She said they have been going to a contemporary church to take "baby steps" for Matt into religion. Anyways, we asked to share a thought before we left, and I shared an article in the August Ensign (our church magazine) about trusting in God's timing. It is centered around Isaiah 55:8-9. They loved it, and I left the article for them to read. They said they needed to hear it because they have been trouble getting pregnant and are trying to keep their faith. Then, Matt totally opened up about the faith he has gained in God. He was so passionate, and God's light was truly radiating from him. It was incredible! WHAT A MIRACLE!! His heart it completely being softened. Sister Parkinson and I were practically crying. After we left, Sister Parkinson said, "I almost pulled a 'Sister Hickman' and started crying right there in the middle of the lesson!!" Haha if that gives you any idea about what an emotional mess I am haha. But, we left them Ether 12 to read, and they were excited. Matt is totally taking tiny steps and eventually he will be ready for the gospel. I KNOW IT! Hannah totally is, and I know she is waiting for him. It was so cool to see the Lord's hand in this work. It truly is HIS work! As missionaries, we are merely instruments. 

Today, for P-day, our whole Zone went hiking at Ice house Lake! It is about halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. It was beautiful! It was nice to have a break and relax and feel like a normal person for a little. But honestly, I love being a missionary. It is the greatest thing ever. We get to invest in other people and help change their lives by teaching them the gospel. It is a privilege to serve as a missionary. I was reading an article by Elder Holland, and he says the LDS missionaries are the most prayed about people in the world! It is so true. We need those prayers. We are essentially in a battle against Satan. We have to bring everyone to Christ. We have to bring people that hope! That is why I love this work. It is disappointing, frustrating, but it is also the most rewarding. The members here are truly incredible. It is a blessing to know them. 
The new El Dorado Zone after transfers. We are at Ice House Lake! It is about halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. 

Such a fun P-day today! 

Sister Parkinson and me. She is the greatest! This week a member said, "You two just love each other, don't you?" We just started laughing. We do not want to leave each other!!!!

This is Sister Gomm! She is the member we live with. She drove us up here today. She is the cutest! 

Sorry, there is not much else to report on! We are excited to work hard this week and teach, teach, teach!!!! 

I love you all and miss you! Also, I am SO behind on writing letters, so they will be coming!! Promise! 

Sister Hickman

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Today is my Two Month Mark!!!

I cannot believe tomorrow will be 2 months! It is so weird. Some days I think it FLIES, and then I think about my friends and family and feel like I have not seen y'all in YEARS!! Hahaha. 

So this week! We took a part member family in the ward on a Temple Tour Saturday night. The Folsom Stake puts on a Temple Tour everyday Saturday night at 6pm. They are great! They have videos, a short Restoration video, and a tour around the outside. We are kind of working with this family, but it is hard to read them. The husband is a member and the wife is not. Some of the kids have been baptized. They seemed to enjoy it! The Spirit is always so strong on the Temple grounds. 
Because we are back to both wards, we are back to double church! Wooohooo so Sundays we are there all day, but we LOVE it!! Both wards are awesome. 
A couple of our investigators dropped us this week, but we still have some great ones!
One of them, Jim, we met through our less-active we are working with, Hilary. They are neighbors. We had very powerful lessons with him this week, and we really wanted him to come to church yesterday. He said he was and then slept through it!! ugh!!!! Hopefully next week. He is like in his 40s, and has some older kids out of the house, and has a 2-year-old daughter on the weekends. He is divorced. He has had a harder life, and the Atonement has been so powerful to talk about with him. 
In District meeting this week, we talked about the power in teaching all of our messages around the Atonement. So, on my mission, I have realized that is a total Mormon word. So, what we mean when we say Atonement is the 3 parts dealing with Jesus Christ:
1. Christ suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane for ALL of our pains, sicknesses, sorrows, sadness, etc. Because of Him, we are never alone, He knows exactly what we are going through.
2. Christ dying on the cross for our sins, so we can repent and be cleansed.
3. Christ resurrecting. So now, we will ALL be resurrected after we die.
The Atonement truly is so powerful when teaching because it brings people hope. It should not be a message we only use around Easter, but we should ALWAYS use it. After all, our purpose as missionaries is to bring others unto Christ. We have been showing the "Because of Him" video on the Mormon Channel a lot. It makes me cry every time. 
We have been staying busy with the two areas. We have some solid investigators in both, but we are still always talking to people and trying to find more people to teach! The members were awesome about coming out with us this week! We had a ton of member-present lessons. And they added SO much to the lessons. If you are Mormon, PLEASE go out with the missionaries!!! It helps so much, and the Spirit is so strong in those lessons. 
On Wednesday night, Sister Parkinson and I went on "splits." So she went with a member in Bass Lake, and I went in the Green Valley area with the Bishop's wife. One family we visited, in particular, was amazing! She visit teaches the less-active wife, so we were going to check on her. The kids are in college, and the husband is not a member. They run a ministry and homeless shelter thing in the area. They are incredible people!!! She was not home, so we met with her husband. I had been over there before, and he is way cool but just not interested in the church. However, this time was different. He really opened up about how their ministry is not doing well, and they do not know what direction to take. He is a little bit lost. We talked a lot, and I shared the last verse in Alma 34. It talks about having patience and hope because one day we will rest from our afflictions. He asked me I had that verse picked out to share before I came by. I said no. He said, wait so you listened to me and knew what to say to me? I told him it was the Spirit! As missionaries, we cannot do this alone. We have to teach by the Spirit to know how to help people. Sister Raphael then talked about the power of finding answers in scriptures because he said I helped him find an answer through that scripture. It was just a very powerful time. They are feeding us dinner tonight, and we are going to talk to him about the Book of Mormon. He has been taught by missionaries, but he was just never interested really. That night I was over, I felt something change. He said he wanted what we "had" and what his wife "had." In my head, I was thinking, THAT IS THE GOSPEL!! He knows something is missing. I do not know what will happen, but that night, my testimony grew so much of teaching by the Spirit. If we are in tune with it, we will say EXACTLY what they need to hear at that moment to help them most. 

Well, this week flew by, and I am excited for this week! I seriously love Sister Parkinson (and no, I am not just saying that because I found out her parents somehow found my blog:) ) She seriously is legit! I keep telling her that she will probably by my favorite companion I have and she is at the beginning, so now I am worried for the rest. Haha. She is the Sister Training Leader (sister missionary zone leader), so we will go on exchanges a lot, so I am excited to get to know the other sisters! She was the STL last transfer too, I just forgot to mention that. We get along so well, and teach well together. I am SO thankful to have her as a trainer. I truly could not have it any better. 

Some of my friends have been confused still about a lot of stuff. Missions are just hard to explain!!! You never really know until you go on one yourself. Just know, as a missionary, we our purpose is to teach people about Jesus Christ and bring them unto Him! I wish I could put it into words, but I really cannot. On a mission, you experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. There is so much emotion in it because we pour our heart and soul into bringing people into the Gospel. We see their potential and how much it can change their life. And there comes a point when they accept it and get baptized, or they walk away. It is tough to see them walk away when you know they are walking away from the best thing that will every happen to them. I hope that helps a little bit.

I want to bear my testimony on the power of the Atonement. No matter what you have done, what pain you have felt, or how hopeless life seems, as we come unto Christ, we will be strengthened. He experienced it all. He is our Savior, and He loves us. Build your relationship with him. If you do, your entire life will change. I promise. Heavenly Father wants us to be happy in life and have joy. Sure, there are trials. Some more than others. We have to become strong and become the people Heavenly Father knows we can be. 

Have a great week!
Talk to y'all next Monday.

With love,
Sister Hickman