Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from EAST SAC!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! 

So…. I have some big news. I AM IN EAST SAC!!! I was emergency transferred. Let me tell you the story…

Last Thursday night, Sister Wilson and I were in a lesson and President Jardine called. We did not answer, but I was so nervous to call him back because it really is not ever good news when he calls. We get out of our lesson and call him on our way home. He said, “Sister Hickman, we need to emergency transfer you to East Sacramento.” Emergency transfers are not super common but they do happen. Basically, it means we can be transferred anytime, not just at the regular “transfer” periods. When he said that, I was soo calm!! Sister Wilson started crying. We talked a little more to him. I could tell he was nervous to tell me haha, but I felt so good. It felt right. I asked why this was happening. President Jardine said two sisters are together, who both cannot drive for various reasons. So basically, me and a sister would switch. And I would be the driver J He told me I was going to Mission Oak ward in the East Sac Stake and a sister would come to Carmichael. The good news is that Mission Oak is the area right next to the La Sierra ward. So, I literally moved across a main road. My ward in Carmichael was on the Stake border. So, this new area is pretty much exactly the same as my Carmichael area. President told me that Thursday night to go home and pack because I would be leaving the next morning. He told me to go home and pray about this, so that I, too, could receive confirmation that this was right, just as he did. By the time the conversation was over, I was crying because I realized I could say no good-byes. Not even to Albert, Mohammed, and Wesley! I went home and prayed. I felt the Spirit so strongly confirm to me that is exactly what Heavenly Father wants for me. I told Him I will have faith and stay strong that this is right! I packed up and moved the next morning. It has been hard not saying bye to anyone, but this taught me a lot! I learned to work so hard EVERYDAY because we do not know when it will be our last day in the area. I learned to have complete faith in Heavenly Father because every little thing happens for a reason. 

On Friday, I moved to my new area (literally just like 5 minutes away). My new companion is Sister Garrido. She has been out for one transfer more than me and is from Hawaii. I had heard about her before I came because she was trained in the La Sierra Ward (my ward in Carmichael). I was a little nervous about being with her because I have heard we are similar. We are both very bold and straightforward. I told President we would scare people together!! Well, I LOVE HER!!! Seriously, she is the best. She is a way hard worker and a total “Preach My Gospel” missionary. She is extremely on purpose. This area has been on fire. They had so many baptisms this last transfer and have some on date this transfer. We work super well together and push each other. She reminds me a lot of Elizabeth Bryant. Just so y’all have an idea of her. And her goofy side reminds me of Lindsey Willis. It is so fun because I feel like I am with my best friends! We have so much fun together, but we also work super hard. It has been the absolute BEST! We love talking to everyone. I got there on Friday and on Saturday we had a baptism. Haha I had no clue who they were. It was funny being the missionary at the baptism. They are this couple that has minor mental problems. They are sweet. Then, on Sunday, we had to give full-blown talks at church. Haha we were the only speakers. It was a crazy weekend!! Welcome to the life of a missionary. I have adjusted to the area for the most part. Sister Campbell (from my MTC District) is serving in this Zone, so that is so fun! We have lots of Spanish missionaries in this zone. It reminds me of Annalee and Mychal! 
We have a baptism next Saturday, December 6th. They have been teaching Annie, this sweet lady from Liberia. Sister Garrido and I started teaching her husband Daniel, this past week. He is getting baptized with her on the 6th! It has been a miracle! He is African American, not from Liberia. I keep laughing that I am baptizing all the Liberians! I am so incredibly thankful for this emergency transfer. It truly has been a huge blessing in disguise. I know this will be an amazing transfer. I cannot wait! We want a baptism at the end of December before the transfer is over. Missionaries call that having a “white Christmas.” J We will see J I am so excited for Annie and Daniel! We are praying hard for them. It has been a CRAZY week, but it has been the best! I love being in East Sac. It is so weird I was only in Carmichael for a transfer. That is not normal. Haha. BUT I know this is the plan for me! I will miss Carmichael. It was a good zone. I was spoiled being by the mission office. So side note: It will now take me a while to get mail, like when I was in El Dorado. In Carmichael, I would go pick it up, so now it will be forwarded. I get letters about 10 days after you mail them.

On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful to be a missionary. It truly is the best thing in the world. It brings the hard times and good times. I am thankful for my loving Father in Heaven and all He does for me. I am thankful for my supportive family and friends at home. I thought it would be hard being away at the holidays, but I really haven’t noticed it too much. As missionaries, everyday is the same. We get all today off, which is nice. I have not had a break in 5 months. Not kidding! I am not complaining though J Missions are the best.  Even P-days are super stressful. But today will be chill. We are going over to a family’s house for dinner. I am excited! 
I surprised Sister Parkinson at the mission office last Wednesday before she went home :) It was so good seeing her! I miss that girl!!!! 

I love you all! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. My heart is so incredibly full! I love my companion, my area, and my mission. I will talk to y’all on Monday! J
Lots of love from Sac,
Sister Hickman

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

End of Transfer 3

 Hi everyone! SOOOO Sister Wilson and I are staying in Carmichael! This next transfer is Thanksgiving and Christmas. She was worried that she would get transferred. We are both happy! Things are getting SO much better with the ward, so it is nice things are staying as is. Plus, with Mohammed and Wesley, and Albert hopefully being baptized by the end of the year, we both wanted to stay. Sister Parkinson goes home Thursday. I cannot believe it! I am taking it kind of hard and am so sad! I know I have not been with her for a transfer, but it feels weird that she is going home. She is an incredible missionary, and I know we will be friends for the rest of our lives. Sister Wilson's trainer goes home too, so we are going to go to the Mission Office tomorrow to say bye to them :) Perks of living by there!
At the temple with Sister Wilson!
Also at the temple with Sister Wilson!

I cannot believe I have been out almost 5 months. When this transfer ends, I will be 1/3 done. It goes by WAY too fast. Today, I wanted to write about something that I have come to realize on my mission so far. Growing up, I always knew how important missionary work is in the Church. I knew that we merely want to invite people to "Come and See" (Read: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/come-and-see?lang=eng) and, as Lehi said in 1 Nephi 8: 12 "And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family [and friends] should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit." The fruit being this Gospel of Jesus Christ. When you find the best thing in the world, don't you want to share it? As I came to develop a testimony, I grew the desire to serve a mission to share the gospel. I always thought there was a stereotype of Mormons. You either were one or you were not. And if you were not...there was probably not a good chance you would become one. It is ironic I thought that considering my dad is a convert..
What I have come to realize on my mission is that being a Mormon, or a Latter-day Saint, is not just being a part of another religion. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the gospel that Jesus Christ, Himself, established when He was on the earth. When He died, the truths were lost. In the 1800's, the fulness of the gospel was restored again, or brought back to perfect form, by a prophet of God. This is not just another "church." I know this gospel to be true. I know that it is for all people, who are truly seeking to find the truth. As a missionary, all day long, I do not shove this on people. I merely invite others to "come and see." I invite them to learn and pray to know for themselves. That is what I have done. I have prayed and received my own answer, which is the foundation of my conversion. True conversion is not learning the most amount of knowledge from the missionaries, but it is the Spirit testifying to you of truth. I have a firm testimony that this gospel has been restored. I know that we can find strength from Jesus Christ. Everyone has struggles. Everyone has stuff hurting them, no matter the act we try to put on for others. The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings hope to all and meaning to our lives. I know that there is not a certain type of "mold" to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. He invites all to come unto Him. For this, I am thankful.
Next week is Thanksgiving. That is our P-day, so you will not hear from me next Monday :) We are eating with a family in the ward. Then, we are going over to Albert's for an African Thanksgiving with all of them. I am so excited!! This transfer was incredible. We still have a lot of work to do in this area!!!

Enjoy the break everyone! I miss you all so much! In week 6 of this next transfer, I get to skype with my fam on Christmas :) I am looking forward to that.
Until next week,
Sister Hickman 

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Baptism HAPPENED!!!!

Hi everyone!!! This weekend was incredible because Wesley and Mohammed GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was this last Saturday night. It was so special! Everything went so smoothly. Seriously! Sister Wilson was actually the one freaking out something would go wrong because she said something always has with her baptisms. I was the calm one. Imagine that!!!! President and Sister Jardine came, so that was very special because it is not often they can make it to baptisms. The spirit was strong. Other missionaries brought investigators, and they said the baptism helped with their own investigators wanting to be baptized. The ward ROLLED out. It was packed! They felt so loved and supported. I have never seen them so happy! Albert came and supported which was great! He did not do anything crazy this week to be baptized. He accepted that it is the Lord's timing, and he is being patient. We honestly have no clue when he will be baptized. Welsey's two sisters came, which was awesome. At the end of the baptism, Wesley and Mohammed bore their testimonies. Mohammed said, "Sister Hickman, will you please read Moroni 10:32 for everyone?" That is the verse where he felt the spirit testify to him to be baptized. It was such a spiritual moment for me because it reminded me how these two have helped my faith grow so much. They have trusted in Heavenly Father, even in times when I have doubted. On Sunday, they were confirmed in church. Thelma, Albert's GF, came and brought little Harry. They stayed all three hours. It was just an incredible weekend. In Sunday school, we were introducing ourselves and Mohammed said, "I am Mohammed Konay, the newest member of the LDS family." It was so cute! They are loving the fact of the "ward family." 
Sister Wilson, Wesley, Mohammed, and me before the baptism!!! They need to work on smiling...
Us with Albert! He was such a trooper at the baptism.
Sister Wilson and me after the baptism! 
Our attempt of a selfie...we are a bit obnoxious 
We dropped like all of our investigators this week because none were keeping commitments or progressing. It takes faith, but we know God will provide! This week, we are really hoping to find those prepared people. 

Something I have not mentioned is that so many people I meet out here on my mission are Catholic. That truly is the religion I hear the most of. I would not have guessed that! Anyways, I am thankful I went to a Catholic high school, so I actually know some stuff! This week we had a lesson with this lady who is a VERY devout Catholic. It helped a lot in the lesson that I knew the basic beliefs of them. Sister Wilson was glad I had that Catholic background too! I tell everyone I am a quarter Catholic pretty much! I did go there 7 out of my 20 years of life. 
Little Harry wearing my nametag.
My heart is just so full. It has been a miracle and privilege to teach Mohammed, Wesley, and Albert. For those who do not remember, they referred themselves on Mormon.org. Who does that?!?! It was awesome! And they were taught the night before I came into the area, so I have been with them pretty much the whole time! We seriously are family. We are going over there on Thanksgiving for an African Thanksgiving :) That will be funny. Next week is transfer week. WHERE DID THESE 6 WEEKS GO!??!!? I feel like I just got here. Sister Wilson is freaking out. We do not know if she will stay or go. This is only her second transfer here, so I think she will stay. I hope I stay with her through the holidays. So next week, P-day will be Tuesday!!! I will most likely be staying here hah but I guess you never know....
My picture on the ward bulletin board...I thought it was pretty funny :)
I am so thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and how it is for everyone. No matter what age you are, race, gender, where you are from...etc. We are all children of God, and He wants us to return to live with Him again. I am thankful for the people out here who are willing to listen to us and put their faith in Christ. It takes a lot to completely follow the Lord's path, but when you do, I can promise your life will be exactly how it needs to be.

Thanks for all your love and support!! I love you all!!

Sister Hickman 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Hi Everyone!!!

Hi everyone!!! 

This was a crazy week and emotional roller-coaster! That is the hard part of missions...all of the emotions. 

Sister Wilson and I had a great Halloween. We had Zone Training on Halloween. It was over exact-obedience, the Atonement, and humility. It was very spiritual, and I was able to receive a lot of personal revelation. After, we went to our ward's Chili Cook-Off/ Trunk-or-Treat (surprise, surprise). It was pretty fun! I am still trying to get to know the ward. Albert and Wesley came. The ward has been so great with them! Albert's girlfriend, Thelma, came and her son, Harry. It was Harry's first time to trick-or-treat. It was so cute!! Albert and Wesley felt famous with everyone talking to them. I think it was great for Thelma to warm up to people in the ward. I could see her being baptized one day, especially is her and Albert end up together. 

So...Saturday was a crazy night. We show up to Albert's apartment, where we normally teach them. We had this lesson planned all week with them. We were going to teach them the law of tithing. We showed up and no one is there. That has NEVER happened. Because Albert does not work, he is always home. We tried calling him and it said "this user is no longer taking calls." I started FREAKING out. Earlier in the day, I had been telling Sister Wilson how I will not believe they are getting baptized until they are literally in the water because in my last area, "golden" people would just fall off out of no where. I have just been so nervous. I need more faith! So anyways, I am freaking out, like oh my gosh Sister Wilson they are gone...we will never see them again. I was assuming the worst. We finally got a hold of Mohammed and he said he was on his way home. Side note...he got kicked out of his apartment. He was living with his Muslim family friends (he used to be Muslim..as you can tell from his name), but they kicked him out because he is getting baptized. So sad. He is now living with Albert and Thelma on the couch until he gets his own apartment. So, we had a member with us and we all went inside to wait for the others. Wesley shows up, but no Albert. We started talking to Mohammed about how he has been. He seriously has been going through so much lately between working all the time and getting kicked out. He says to us, "I don't know if I can be baptized on Nov 8. I am not going to do it. Things are too crazy, and I don't think I can live how I should after baptism." Alright, I am going to get very personal and let you in because this experience taught me so much. I did not handle it right AT ALL, but I learned a lesson. So, when he said that, my heart sank. I just started crying. I could not think. I could not talk. I just stared at the wall. I have never felt so terrible in my whole life. Here was Mohammed who knows the gospel is true, loves it, and I have been able to see it change his life and he says he cannot be baptized. I was devastated. Sister Wilson and the member tred to talk things out, and I just sat there just crying, not saying a word. He saed to me, "Sister Hickman, please stop crying. When I see other people cry, I cry. I know you think you wasted your time on me, huh? I know you think you could have been doing other things." I said, "No, Mohammed that is not what I think at all. I would never think that." Poor Sister Wilson is trying to hold everything together for us. She explained to him how as missionaries, we put EVERYTHING into them. Our whole life out here revolves around our investigators. She then says, "Mohammed, do you have the faith to find an answer from Heavenly Father?" She then tells him we are going to pray and then he needs to open to a random page in the Book of Mormon and just read it. Another side note: This is how she found out her answer to go on a mission, and I always tell her that the Book of Mormon is not a genie and does not always work like that!! It can, but not always. We cannot control when and how we get answers from Heavenly Father. So, at this point, I am freaking out like, please please open to a verse where he can find answers...
We pray and he opened to Moroni 10. She asked if anything stuck out to him. He read Moroni 10:32...talking about "coming unto Christ and being perfected in Him...." He sat there and thought.  He said..."I need to be baptized. Things are so hard, and I do not know how I will do it, but I know this is what He is telling me. I need to follow Christ and be baptized." I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT!! THAT WAS A COMPLETE MIRACLE!!! He found his answer in that scripture and was more confident than ever that he needed to be baptized. He said there is no turning back now. The Spirit was so strong. WE all testified and the lesson ended well. As I reflect back, here are a couple things I learned. I am the missionary and my purpose is to HELP...I HAVE TO hold it together. Seriously, if Sister Wilson had not kept it together...Mohammed may not be getting baptized Saturday. Also, as I was crying and trying to pray, I realized I was thinking about selfish things like "Why is this happening to me? What did I do wrong?" This is not about ME, but I was thinking those thoughts. Towards the end I was just getting frustrated because I KNEW it was Satan getting to him, trying to convince him and tempt him to not do what he knows is right. I am sorry that was so long, but I wanted to share it because it was a miracle this week. Mohammed and Wesley are getting baptized this coming Saturday and I CANNOT WAIT! We are all so happy. I have never seen them so happy. They announced it in church, they met with the Bishop, and everyone is so excited for them. My Mission President and his wife have been wanting to meet them, so they came to a lesson with us after church. We taught about eternal marriage. It was a neat experience! They are hoping to come to the baptism. Wesley and Mohammed were glowing all day Sunday. I truly have never seen them full of so much joy. Especially Mohammed. He has been struggling with trials being thrown at him, but his faith is growing.

So, Albert in all of this. You have to be living the law of chastity at least a week before baptism, so although he is sleeping on the couch, they are still under the same roof. So, he cannot be baptized til he moves out. He is devastated and is determined that he still is. We told him last night the situation and he kept responding "I will be baptized November 8." We are worried he is just going to go marry Thelma this week. We are praying hard for him. We will see how it all plays out. 
At the Church Halloween party with Thelma, Albert, Wesley, and Harry! 
Sister Wilson and me on Halloween! It has finally gotten colder here. Tights are my new best friend :) 
I am sorry this is so long, but this week I learned so much. I have to be humble to be able to be an instrument in God's hands. Saturday night, I was just so upset about what was happening. I come off tough, but I seriously have such a tender heart! I'm not kidding!!! My heart is totally in this, and I was just so scared. It was funny because after that experience, Mohammed told me I am no longer "Zoe" (the head) because I cried and was weak hahah. I have been praying a lot for strength for me and for them as they go through this week before their baptism. Satan attacks hard right before baptism. I cannot wait for Saturday to see Wesley and Mohammed enter the waters of baptism and make that covenant with Heavenly Father to follow Christ. I still cannot believe we have had this experience of teaching them. It has all happened so fast, but they were sent to us prepared. They truly are a miracle. And hopefully Albert will be able to be baptized by the end of the year. 

I love you all! I am catching up on my writing, but I am a few weeks behind. Thank you for your love and prayers!!!

Sister Hickman 

P.S. Next week I will have BAPTISM pictures!!! EEEKKK!!!!! I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father for letting me be apart of their journey into the gospel.