Monday, October 26, 2015

"This is not just a church to join"

Helloooo Eveyone!

Its starting to get cold here in Idaho. Sister Rivers and I found this awesome coffee shop a street away from us that we get $1 hot chocolate from. We've been there three times in the last four days. There is this awesome white hot chocolate and its not too sweet which is perfect! I know some of you may be wondering about if I broke anymore chairs I can assure you I didn't. I dragged my comp to the track a couple times after convincing her it took awhile to convince her. We've been playing ball with the elders which is super fun, I laugh more than anything. Its fun to be on the court again for sure! 

My comp and I have been visiting the sisters in the nursing home! They are the sweetest and one of the sisters' named Cheryl always tells us she's gonna find people for us to teach. Her roommate and her have been a huge blessing to visit. She loves when we come and it has brightened our week since all except one of our appointments cancelled on us this week. She said something sweet to us she said "Whenever I see you, you bring the spirit into the room and you both just glow so much." She said you don't think you do, but i promise you , you do! She's the best :) We're helping her roommate get back to the temple by teaching her lessons she's been inactive for a while now.

Our missionary mom in the Payette Area celebrated her 10th Baptism Anniversary so we made her cupcakes and went to visit her. She keeps us on our toes and laughing a ton! We all wore party hats and the cupcakes were decorated with the baptism stuff and the temple since were working on helping her get to the temple. And we got to help her navigate family search and find her brother so she could get him sealed to her parents. 

We also had a Harvest Dinner for the ward which was super fancy. Sister Rivers and I spent most of the week inviting less active or investigators. Many people didn't answer the door,so we left invitations and  a ton of them were at the dinner, it was packed! It was nice to be able to see them in one room, we were running around like crazy!

So this week we also had three week follow up with the missionaries I entered the field with. Man it was so awesome to see all of them again I swear they are some of the best people I know and we picked up right where we left off! I missed seeing those gems. We had six hours of training and President said something that struck me. He said "We're not just a church to join, anyone can join a church this is the work of salvation, its not a place we go but its what we become in this church." I've pondered that this past week as we go finding and looking for people who are ready to hear the gospel. We don't leave everything behind for 18 months or 2 years because we think the church is true, because we want people to become Mormons. We do it because it's the invitation from the lord who is the head of this church. His invitation is to "Come Follow Him" to become disciple to make use of the atonement, to keep the commandments and to love him. He promises us that one day we will be like him and enjoy the blessing of eternity. The invitation comes because he loves us  and as missionaries we have the blessing of extending and teaching, building upon the faith that people already have and helping them receive the blessings the lord anxiously awaits for them to have. 

Hope you all have an awesome week :)

All my Love,

Sister Cleveland

Monday, October 19, 2015

"I sat and Broke a Chair at a Members House"

Hello Everyone,

Yes it is as bad as you read it. I went to a members house for dinner one night and there was not a lot of chairs I was just grateful that i was not sitting on a bucket. My companion sat down and I was getting ready to sit, once I did the chair kept going DOWN, DOWN FLOOR. Now I know that my "exercising" has been pretty mediocre but I didn't think I had gained that much weight. The family assured me the chair was already broken they just didn't realize how bad.Which is why today we will be playing basketball with the elders for exercise. Don't worry all my clothes still fit so I don't think those potatoes have been hurting me too bad. 

This week was full of tender mercies. The same house we went over for dinner, had quite a few number of kids. We sat over dinner and talked about missions  and the blessings of serving. They have two daughters who are contemplating serving. We were finishing our discussion and one of the little girls asked if she could wear my name tag. I said of course. Once she had it on she wouldn't take it off and insisted on putting on her skirt so she could be a missionary too. She even shared the spiritually thought for us. Her little brother kept asking her why she was wearing my tag. He kept saying "Your not a missionary" over and over again. Finally She replied "I will be someday" It melted my heart. Just a little reminder from Heavenly father that our influence goes beyond the people we teach or the less actives we go our and search for. It perfectly echoed the words said in conference that "children are investigators too" Her name is Merr-lin and she is a doll!

We spent most of our week working on reactivation. Visiting families, inviting people to church, we had one day all our appointments cancelled on us. On Sunday morning the Bishop called and asked me to speak in church I happily obliged. Our ward has a lot of drama in it, that filters from the school positions in the ward. Someone, doesn't like the other. They're a bad principal the list goes on and on. Were working on getting people to warm up to each other  hah One member has been going through a divorce her daughter is on a mission, and she had the temple sealing and she asked us where are the blessings? Where is the hope? We talked to her about the importance of being faithful, although we are faithful in the covenants we have made to the lord and someone else is not that does not reflect poorly on us. Each of us has our agency. The hope is the Savior. Making all the right decisions does not exempt us from hard times, or trials. This experiences are a reminder that our Savior is near and wants us to lean on him. She taught in relief society and broke down in tears recounting our visit. She looked at my companion and I said I find hope in those two sisters who come to my house every week to visit me. 

I am grateful for the tender mercies the lord places in our lives. I know that our Heavenly Father is aware of us each and everyday of our lives. He invites us to "Come unto him". Loving the people in Payette has begun to come easier everyday and I know its because the love comes from the Savior. Have a great week everyone!  

All my Love,

Sister Cleveland 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

We got Scripture Slapped!!

Helloo Everyone!

I hope you weeks are going well. Life in Idaho continues to be exciting and you know saving souls everyday. It has been quite interesting adjusting to life in the town of Payette, ID. But I'll get into that later. I know your all dying to get an update on BoBo the raccoon. I went to visit him and his family this week. He is a whopping 65 lbs, probably the fattest raccoon every in existence. And I got to pet him, just to say I did. I wash my hands forever after that experience though and he didn't hiss at me or anything which was nice. I think BoBo might be a diabetic he eats fruit loops for breakfast, dog treats, marshmallows, and cookies for dinner. He is a fatty. It'll be sad when he dies. 

So we got scripture slapped this week. It was yesterday actually we went to visit family who just had knee surgery the wife and the husband will have his this week. They are pretty old but may they know whats up! So we just went to meet and visit them since we don't know everyone yet in the ward. We chatted for a little bit because when everyone hear's your the new missionary they want to know EVERYTHING  about you. Well I learned that he son went to SVU at one time, and he talked about how much he loved the university. We starting talking about our roles as missionary and Brother Mann (who scripture slapped us) started setting us straight. He talked about how we can better understand our purpose as missionaries and fulfill the calling the lord has giving us. He gave us some awesome counsel that we didn't even need to share a message. He would just open the Bible or Book of Mormon and start telling us where to find things, if we mentioned a question that our investigator had he would just tell us where the answer was and how to find it. He also gave us scriptures to study and when we come back for dinner hes gonna teach US. Hes so awesome I wish everyone could meet him. He also can tell you were every scripture is about whatever topic and if he cant remember the reference he tells you where on the page you can find it. Man we walked out there with so much homework! But we love him we cant wait to go back! 

Another cool thing about Bro Mann. Is that he grows grapes! Did you know there are different flavored grapes? Well there are, he grows cotton candy, lime, strawberry, irish cream and sweet shelly to name a few! Blew my mind. They are sooo good. He told us not to but them at the store and just come to his house. We left with a huge bag of grapes and squash. Everyone likes to give the missionaries stuff from their gardens here which is nice for sure. I love the Mann they are just such a sweet family.

So we do have a number of investigators which is nice, we also spend most of our day visiting less actives and helping them in their lives by sharing messages or whatever they need through service projects.One of the people we helped this week was a sister who is staying at a womens shelter, she had been praying for help and called our Bishop. We were able to meet with her at Burger King and she was able to unload tons of heavy things, we taught her a little bit and she said she felt better and that she would be at church on Sunday. And she came! We had another experience when prayed about who we should visit and we went to an elderly lady's house we just had surgery on her hi and it was her birthday! We didn't know she we got to celebrate with her so she wasn't alone. We got to help some people move out of they're house this week that wasn't the cleanest. But we prayed our way through packing the house and moving boxes. We were there for a LONG time. And so was the food storage because some of it was rotten. hah Anyway it was good to serve and help people. Also its deer hunting has opened here so everyone is going crazy!

My last story is about our investigator we taught her the first discussion and she were teaching her about the atonement. She started crying and telling us about how bad the world was and that she didn't feel like Christ felt her pains and sorrows. We shared with her Alma 7:11-12. We testified of the love our Savior has for us. She then looked at me and said how did you prepare yourself coming to a place that doesn't treat people of other races right. I look at her and said "Everyday I wake up and put my name tag on it bears my name and the Saviors. We are a team. Whatever people say to me, I don't worry about because I know that my Savior loves me and has felt the emotions that feel." She said I hope so and I told her I know so and he has felt and will walk with you. I love testifying of Jesus Christ he is the reason we have a church and through him all things are possible.

This week was hard for me adjusting to Payette. And i was like how it can be hard its only your second week. But it was and I realized I needed to be humble enough to admit it. Many people here call me the "colored" sister. And have deep rooted feelings about my race and share them many places we go they bring it up or just stare. It was beginning to make my companion uncomfortable. we talked about it. A mission is hard in ways that is different for every missionary and the lord gives us experiences to teach us. Missions are hard in ways I cant really describe but they are the only time your life that you'll be able to walk to closely with the Savior.. He doesn't have a timetable for when he will teach us he starts teaching us even in our second week. To one person I taught them about the importance of knowing we are all children of god, so they shouldn't see me as the "colored" sister but rather a child of the god that gives them life everyday and I see them that way too. I have learned that the Savior loves each and everyone of us, that when we face hard experiences it teaches us to love and invites us to come unto Christ. We begin to tap into  Moroni 9:46-48 when we begin to develop that pure love of Christ and see him as he is will be able to see other people as they truly are! We you have some hard experiences at work, home, school, remember that the lord invites us to come unto home through those experiences and they will be for your good! 

Have a good week! Thanks for the prayers :)

All my Love,

Sister Cleveland

Monday, October 5, 2015

"You know years ago they wouldn't let colored people into Payette"

Hi Everyone,

Now I know all of you clicked on this email because you want to know the scoop on that subject line. I think most of us thought maybe just maybe  sooner or later something like this was gonna happen and it just so happen to be my first week. So here's the story: My companion and I were visiting members starting to get to know them and there is an elderly couple two houses down from us. So we stopped to visit them after a conference session. She and her husband are sweet as can be  she actually has a hearing aid, but she greeted my companion and I with a hug and smile. we went in to sit down to chat since we are working with her husband to visit some investigators. She stops us and says (because she didn't know we were in conversation) now before we start I just want to say "Years ago they wouldn't let colored people cross the town line into Payette." I was like oh boy here we go. She proceeds to tell us how she was raised not knowing any different, and that her parents were racist but they never came out and said it. I just kept sitting there listening to her. Then she shared her experience seeing a "colored' man and a "white" woman together in Oregon and it took her a while to accept it because she was in shock. Also how a really heavy set "colored women" gave birth to her child while she was in labor herself. I was fighting to hold in my laughter the whole time. She ended by saying I'm going to shake this town up  and baptize tons of people she's so happy I'm  here. My companion and I got in the car and I turned to her and said " No one says colored any more were not a bunch of TV's" We laugh about it till this moment its still very funny. 

Believe or Not i have a million stories and I have only been serving here for a week. I love being a missionary and continue to grow serving the lord. I am actually in Payette ID which is about 5 minutes from the Oregon border. We had a super busy week and had a zone conference in Baker City in Oregon about two days after I got into Payette.  Our mission President and his wife picked us up and She so happily informed us this is a 40lb mission. All the sisters groaned, although it does not inspire my companion and I to do anything other than stretching during our 30 mins of exercise (we are working on it). So we have been knocking on doors, being rejected the typical missionary routine. We  have a lot of HBH ( Home but Hiding) we know they are inside cause we can hear them. hah But we continue to pray and ask the lord for assistance finding new investigators and those who are ready to hear the gospel. One night my companion and I had about an hour left until we needed to go home. We pulled over said a prayer and asked the lord to direct us to the home we needed to visit that night, we went to about three homes no answers or lights out. It was frustrating a little bit. So we ended up at a members home, who told us about their less active daughter and some of the things she was struggling with. As her mom spoke tears rimmed my eyes and the though came "You need to earn the trust of the members" I knew in that very moment that the lord had been hearing our prayers he knew of our anxiousness and readiness to find but taught me that things happen in the lords way and in his timing that as instruments for the lord he will open doors for us. 

We have a number of investigators we are teaching families right now and it is nice to work with children again. One of our investigators name is Truffle he is in jail right now but is very interested in the church and loves hearing the lessons. We right him letters because we cant visit him anymore. Many people here are less active. One family has a pet raccoon names BoBo its super weird. My comp. touched it I took a pass on that part. There is also a family who has what feels like a whole petting zoo in the back on their house I fed an alpaca and saw tons of ponies. Anyway the mission is definitely interesting and everytime I tell someone where I'm from they say aww this must be so different for you. I always say you have no idea. I'm adjusting well to the country life (i think) and learning a lot about the people here. We have our work cut out for us here, because president white washed the area three  transfers ago. The elders got in quite a bit of trouble in this small town. WE are working hard to find and teach we have a list on our whiteboard in our apartment of about 40 people to go visit. I'm out of time but thanks for all the prayers we feel them everyday! Also Conference was amazing President Nelson, Elder Holland, and Brother Durrants talks were among my favorite. Hope all is well with everyone :) 

All my Love :)
Sister Cleveland