Monday, December 30, 2013

Week 37 - Leaning Not On My Own Understanding

Well hey family!

I hope that your christmas was just what you wanted to it be and more! This past week was pretty good as a missionary! haha honestly i think i get more love when i'm away than when i'm around:] My scarf collection has reached a whole new high and i really do appreciate all the things that everybody sent me, you definitely made this christmas special for me. 
Not a whole lot has happened this past week just because most people keep telling us they'll talk to us after the holidays... which i know it's a big fat lie because once the holidays end it's back to work, school, and all other activities. But i do want to share an experience that definitely has strengthened my testimony of prayer.
The sunday before Thanksgiving i don't know if you guys will remember, but we were sitting in the back of the chapel with Karen Foreman and we noticed the couple with the little girl wearing jeans and they headed out right after the sacrament was passed. Well... WE FOUND HER:] that night after church and almost every week since i have been praying that Heavenly Father would lead us to her somehow. I knew it was a righteous desire and i knew wholeheartedly that He could do this thing, so yes i absolutely prayed in faith. One night after dinner we were out in a neighborhood and we turned down a street thinking we could find this less active person, well as we started walking i saw a mom and daughter walking out of a house and crossing the street to get to theirs and instantly before i even got close i knew it was going to be her. and it was. as we got closer she was smiling at us and i said oh my gosh, i know you. She was just beaming and i couldn't help but at the very moment thank heavenly father for answering my prayer. We know where she lives and i feel in my heart that she is wanting to know about the gospel, it's just working with her parents who don't seem to be too enthused about us missionaries:] It just reminds me of the sons of mosiah in alma 25:17. as we are specific in our prayers i know he'll be specific in His answers. I'm SO grateful to know that God is mindful of us no matter where we are or what circumstances we may be in. 
Well transfers are tomorrow and i am super bummed to announce that Me and Combs will no longer be companions:/ I don't even wanna talk about it because everytime i think about it i just wanna cry. The cool thing about me and combs being companions is that honestly we're best friends first and then were companions and it has seriously made all the difference. I have felt that i can be honest with her and that we've grown so much together! I'm still in Katy just gonna get a new comp haha let's all cross our fingers that she isn't crazy and that she's just ready to get some work done. I honestly feel some pressure to be serving in this area and also be expecting to baptize weekly. I'm gonna have to do lots of praying and lots of trusting. I know that it's possible i just gotta make sure that i'm doing all that i can and encouraging the ward to do all that they can! Here's to a new year full of miracles and more conversion for this girl. I love you all and miss ya all the days:]

Love Sister Bowden

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Week 36- The War of Heaven is Currently the War of My Mission

Well hey there family:]
So even though a part of me doesn't really even feel like emailing today i decided i should because well.. i don't get to skype EVERYBODY back home! Can you believe tomorrow is christmas?? Is it just me or did 2013 FLY by like lightning?? ah i'm so grateful to be where i am at at this point.
This past week has been pretty good! Ok it was pretty slow to be honest but in it being slow i had a lot of my own personal conversion time. One night we were at the church and i got to have a little heart to heart with my zone leaders. We were discussing the mission, missionaries, and well how we can be better. Our president has decided that for 2014 we're going to raise the bar and he is expecting us to baptize weekly. WEEKLY. haha sounds pretty crazy seeing as we can barely find 1 investigator. but i do know that as we follow what he says and work with the ward miracles will happen:] We talked a lot about how the work starts first with the missionaries. It blows my mind that missionaries are out here just to i don't even know hang out..? Some don't realize the importance of the work that we have been asked to be a part of. But in saying that i've been able to make some connections within myself. You can't force anything on anyone. You can show them, you can give them a perfect example, you can love them, but it is always their choice whether or not they will follow the savior and become converted.. or just stick to where they are at right now. It kills me when i see people not changing or not even trying of course i never know what's going on in their heart or mind. but man! I know that things are a million times better when we do the things that we have been asked. These past 9 months have meant everything to me. They have changed my life forever and i can't help but look forward to what else is in store for me. I love the savior the more i have studied about him and his life the more i've realized how imperfectly i have lived mine. I'm just a work in progress but i'm so grateful for the trust He has in me. I know that the atonement is real and it is there for everyone:] It's been pretty crazy being a missionary during this time of the year. This past week our zone put on a christmas devotional for all the members and their friends and it ended up being a really powerful meeting. Me and Elder Leavitt actually sang a song together hahahaha ah i don't know why suddenly on my mission people think i can sing. I remember last year i went to church with Tyler Thomas and a lady turned around and said hey do you sing and before i could answer he jumped in and said oh no no she is NOT a singer! haha so so nice. but it was definitely a new experience, i MUCH rather would have been dancing in front of those people instead of singing at least i would have been confident in that! We had put scripture from the bible and the book of mormon to tell the story of Christ's birth and then we had a recent convert and President Pingree share their testimonies. It was amazing:] 

Earlier this week we got another referral for a guy named John Hawkins. We met up with him and he is a middle aged man who got in an accident in high school. He's really hard to understand at times and is kinda well scary.. haha after we had talked with him and invited him to a couple things we were walking out of the neighborhood when we see him driving up the street. haha all of the sudden combs yelled RUN! and started running i busted out laughing and said combs we can't run from him he's an investigator! She stopped and said oh right. haha heck that girl, one of these days it's gonna click, i just know it:]

Well it's christmas eve and with that being said i did already open the presents you guys sent me:] hahaha i'm sorry i couldn't wait!! But i think you guys should know i loved them. When i saw the bag of cheetos i busted up.. i think i got 16 bags of those last year. At one point i'm pretty sure i woke up in my bed with orange fingers and orange sheets. Classic cheetos coma:] Mom you know me pretty dang well and it was pretty funny cuz as i opened it i was thinking oh i hope she sent one of those giant banners that i freakin made for jordan every dang holiday but the picture book was a lot better:] I started tearing up going through the thing! i don't know what's wrong with me! haha you guys are great and i am SO grateful for the time you put into making that! Everybody is still looking in tip top shape, quinn i loved the cat in your family's picture:] haha ah i miss you guys! I hope that this christmas has been a neat one for all of you, that you have come to know of the savior a little bit more. We be skyping tomorrow and you have no idea how excited i am:] I love you all and we'll talk to ya soon!

Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, December 16, 2013

Week 35 - Learning to Love and Having Fun Along the Way

Hey my family!
ok so i just wanna say this right at the beginning a LOT happened this past week so if you're not in the mood to read a novel about how much i love being a missionary and yada yada yada just skim on through and read the end of this:] 
So we got to be on the radio!!! and it was honestly probably one the coolest things i have ever done! haha i loved it, in fact i loved it so much i think it would be so fun to study public media when i get home. The lady started it off and seriously all i had to do was talk and laugh and it just went really well! She said she was going to email us the finished product so when i hear it i'll send it on by:] but really it was so sweet.
 We had specialized training this week which because we have such a great mission president it was exactly what i needed to hear. He talked a lot about gratitude and internalizing our purpose as missionaries which was pretty spot on because the night before me and combs were having a little talk about why she is out here.  i asked combs why are you out on a mission? and she said i have no idea.. haha i then asked her ok well what are you wanting to gain by serving a mission, she once again said she had no clue. BUT after specialized training i think she felt better about why she is out here. I know that the longer she stays out the more she will come to understand why she is needed out here. I know that honestly i have needed her. She has been an answer to my prayers and has made serving in this area SO much fun.. and you'll understand how a little later:] 
The alzheimer's place had their christmas party this past week and we were asked to come help get things ready for it. While we were there one of the employees came up and started asking combs if we were really sisters or not.. haha i busted out laughing and told her to start talking to him. She ended up inviting him to church which he was so stoked about but right as she invited him another employee walked up and said "oh trust me you don't wanna go to their church" aahhh! why? haha why can't we just have a golden moment? We were also put in their monthly newsletter which was awesome! i feel that even though maybe we aren't having a crap load of lessons coming our way we still our finding ways to share the gospel.. haha whether that's through the radio or newsletters, i know that we are being noticed in the community and hey, i'll take whatever i can get. In Alma 24:27 it talks about how the Lord works in many ways to bring out the salvation of his people and i just know that that is true. He'll work with what he can get and so will i:] 
After we finished up we headed over for mission correlation. Me and combs had decided that this week instead of just sitting in a circle talking about a list of people where nothing ever changes we were gonna make the ward missionaries go out and try to visit these people. at first only 3 other people showed up and my frustration starting rising but as we were getting ready to leave more came and things actually ended up working really well! i was so excited to see that we did have some support in our efforts to reach out to the less actives in our ward.
On Thursday we had the relief society ornament exchange which ended up being hilarious. We of course were walking to the party and when we finally got to the neighborhood low and behold it was another gated community and mmm shocker the gate was closed. There was no walk in gate and i'm sure we could have called someone for the code but then i realized hey there's like a foot gap between the ground and the bottom of the gate hahaha so yes we army crawled our way into the neighborhood and it was stinkin hilarious:] only me and combs would do that. So we don't really have a lot of money to go blow on christmas ornaments so we had decided to buy these little felt penguin frames and stick that super cute christmas picture (the one of me and combs with the tree you sent me) in it haha as the people started choosing their present i got pretty nervous.. what if a nonmember opened ours and thought it was so weird? what if the stingy president opened it and didn't think it was too funny?? well luckily the 2 ladies who picked ours were super funny and everyone thought we were hilarious:] which.. we are. it was just a really funny night and we definitely have had some requests for a copy of that picture.
We were supposed to do exchanges this past week but our bathroom has been invaded by ants!!! I woke up to get in the shower one morning and bam! ants were everywhere! it was nasty and when we told our apartment people they just said oh yeah we'll have someone come spray next week... wait next week? what am i supposed to do til then? just hang out with all my ant buddies?? haha good news though, did you know that ants won't cross chalk?? yeah well we found that out and fortunately for us we had some sidewalk chalk in our apartment:] we have managed to contain most of them!

Saturday morning we went over to the church to help start getting things set up for the christmas party.. mmm we ended up being there ALL day! it was so hectic and so many last minute things and la la la but hey good side is that if i'm ever put in charge of one of those bad boys i'll kinda know what to do! Haha me and combs had made thee cutest turtleneck sweaters i have ever seen. We took a stocking that our zone leaders had given us, and the ornaments we won at the party and wa-la sewed those bad boys onto our shirts and it was a christmas treasure! haha i think the ward is starting to understand how dorky me and combs are:] we got a lot of comments... and a lot of stares.. haha but we were also told we looked like super models so hey can't fight that! 
The members brought a lot of their friends to the party which i was so excited about! when people were finishing up eating they put on this short video about the birth of the savior as it started no one was really paying attention and all the kids were going buck wild.. i started saying a prayer in my head that the spirit would come in and soften some hearts. There was a really neat moment when everything seemed quiet in the cultural hall. I hope that it had some impact on the people that attended:]
And to top it off last night i got to sing in a catholic church! Our stake and the catholic church that is right across the street tag team every year a christmas concert. They put together a choir and have an orchestra and it really seems to be quite a big deal in katy! So a bunch of missionaries serving here decided we would do it haha well it was awesome.. not as good as dancing in front of a huge crowd but hey i'll take what i can get:] it was a really neat experience to see 2 different faiths come together to worship our savior. I will never forget this christmas because for once in my life it has all been focused on the Savior. 

I really do love this ward. It has been so neat to see them start to see that me and combs are working hard but we are also enjoying it along the way. It's been awesome to see how now they are excited when they see us and they almost all fight over who we should come and visit.  Haha it's almost starting to get hard because they just want me and combs to come hang out with them. It's hard being so cool sometimes:] hahaha i'm kidding. But seriously, i love this gospel so much. I know that as we serve all those around us it helps us to forget about ourselves and feel the happiness that the Savior wants us to have. As i was sitting in sacrament meeting this past week it hit me that i never want this to end. Can i just stay out here and keep doing this? Even though it definitely is hard i just love being a missionary:] It's the best decision i think i have ever made i will forever be grateful for all the people who guided me to make this choice.
I love you all and i hope you have an awesome week!! Do you even realize next Wednesday we will be skyping!!! AH! oh ps my next p-day is gonna be on Tuesday instead of Monday because we have our mission conference going on. so i'll be able to throw down the details on when and where and what then:] Love you and miss you all the days!

Love Sister Bowden

Monday, December 9, 2013

Week 34 - To Have Joy Therein

Well Hello Jello!

This past week was f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g!  It's funny to me that i was called to the Houston Texas mission and yet I've never been colder! Haha I'm pretty sure i was the most unprepared missionary for the cold but somehow Heavenly Father has blessed me taken care of me! 
Katy 2 has so far proven to be my toughest area on my mission.  I know that specifically in this area it all has to start with the members and I have felt like every week or at every dinner we'll have good spiritual lessons and everyone gets excited but then once again no one acts... It's been super frustrating but I'm hoping that because it's Christmas and we have SO many activities to have the members invite their friends that something will start to spark up. We had a really good moment one particular night we were at a member's house and we were talking over dinner and I'm not sure what shifted or what was really even said but when we left he said "Hey I'm sorry that i really misjudged you two, you guys are actually really great missionaries and I'm glad that you're here."  It was a pretty neat experience because the first time we went over to their house Me and Combs swore that we would never return, but I'm really glad we did. A lot of the times our first impressions of people can just be so off and I appreciate 2nd chances:]
Oh! so this past week i decided to start pushing Combs out of her comfort zone and let her lead the way. It was so dang funny, we were out walking and I said Combs tomorrow you are in charge you're gonna make plan a, b, and la la la.  She started arguing saying that was a super bad idea and I just laughed and said "nope it's time, you're getting way too comfortable with me." Her reply was if I was comfortable I'd be sitting on a couch eating chips. haha we laughed but I still had her take the lead. I think it was good for her, even though she was super frustrated with me.  I'm trying my best to show her that she isn't always necessarily going to have a companion, I want to know that she'll be there ready to go.   Haha I told her that and she said she'll start stepping up when we're aren't companions any longer that's when the "test" starts. I laughed pretty hard and just told her "Combs I just want to know that I've showed you how to be the best missionary you can be, I just want you to be prepared for when you have to make the decisions." Things have been a lot better and smoother haha sometimes I do feel like I am pulling her teeth when i'm trying to get her to do a little more:]
We all know how much I love my district leader these days.... well this past week in district meeting for some reason he started talking about how if you're going to be disobedient you should at least be smart about it and I decided to finally speak up to him. I told him how much I dislike the fact that to him being disobedient or "spirit of the law" is the cool thing to do.  Heck am I perfect? No... but I really look up to the missionaries that can do things by the book. The ones that obedience comes to naturally because I definitely tend to want to do things a little differently. I have found though that the more I strive to be obedient the more Heavenly Father blesses us in the work. The more he blesses you period. Elder Chollet was kinda taken off guard and tried to come jump on my boat but aahh sometimes I don't understand people! Haha if you're disobedient that's fine heck do whatever makes you happy, but I think it's a little unnecessary to make others feel dumb for doing what's right. 
We got to go to the temple this past week which was soo great! Haha i'm gonna be honest I've been feeling kinda stressed with this area just because we still haven't found a really solid person to teach. As i was in there though a line really just kept coming back to me. He created these things so that man could have joy therein. When we left I felt this overcoming feeling of just enjoy what you do have. "A grateful person is rich in contentment" I really have felt the love of the ward start to grow. I'm grateful for them and all the things that they have done to help us. I'm grateful for my companion, the support I get from home, and for this opportunity to really put the Lord first in my life. 

After we finish emailing today we're gonna head downtown to do our little Radio show! haha i'm pretty stoked about it, it should be a good time. December is gonna fly by, this week we should be pretty busy with service opportunities and activities with the ward:] I'm just trying my hardest to be obedient and show Heavenly Father that I can be a useful instrument in his hands. We are gonna get to skype on Christmas we talked to some members yesterday and we got things all figured out:] We'll probably be at their house around 10 and then we basically have most the day to just talk to you guys and hang out so when it gets closer I'll tell ya when to be prepared! haha I'm sure you'll all love getting to see this face! Well thanks mucho for everything! haha i'm sorry to hear that it's like the arctic tundra up in Hooper! Stay warm, stay sassy, stay happy and know that I love you guys! 

Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, December 2, 2013

Week 33 - Turkey Time

Hey hey hey:]

Thanksgiving? gonzo. How did that even come and go so fast?? So this past week was just another roller coaster of the life of a missionary. 
So our stake decided to team up with a bunch of different faiths and do an "interfaith Thanksgiving message" right? Well that night our dinner canceled and we honestly didn't have a whole lot going on, so we teamed up with some other sisters and decided we would check it out. As we're about to get to this jewish synagogue Sister Tusa says oh crap. Guys we're not in the mission anymore.. HAHAHA we park the car and start debating if we should just drive back or go inside, it was decided that we had already driven clear out here we might as well just stay. so we go in and the program starts in the middle of it Tusa tapped my shoulder and whispered look! I look to my right and ahhh crap. An elderly couple that serves with President Pingree had walked in. My jaw drops and i just start whispering we're dead, we're dead, we're dead. haha it was just awful. WE HAD LEFT THE MISSION! yes, it was a complete accident heck, i've been on a bike 96% of my mission how would i know? but man that was definitely an awkward situation to be in. I think the worst part was that i could not stop laughing, haha of course i would roam out of the mission into a jewish synagogue and of course someone would be there to catch me in the act. ahh my life:] but hey it's fine. 
Me and Combs decided to go around and show appreciation to some of the ward members that have really put in an effort to help us out so we cut out little hand turkey's and put them all over people's doors. We got caught less than we didn't so i was happy with it.
 As we were out walking a car pulled over and 3 guys got out and started walking towards us. I turned to combs and said mmm you talk to them please! but before i knew it one was walking straight at me with his hand out to shake. Turns out he had just gotten home from his mission to argentina 2 days before and he when he saw us walking he wanted to show his 2 friends what he had done for 2 years! it was a really neat experience and i hope that those two boys can see the difference in their friend!
mmm Thanksgiving. haha ok so i'll be honest, i've been pretty sick this past week i've had strep and a fever and as a missionary that can make things pretty miserable. I think for the first time i really missed home, i missed you guys and being able to be my funny weird self. and straight up dance has been on my mind soo much. So i've been pretty frustrated but ya know i really just wanted to make the best of it. We got to our first dinner appointment and it was SO awesome! The family made us feel super welcome and i may or may not have been able to watch some football, which made me feel like a normal person for a second:] Cool thing though, so one of the daughters has a talk radio show and as we got talking she asked if me and combs would be willing to come on and talk a little bit about missions and why we decided to do this. no biggie, just living the dream and talking on the radio! We're doing that next week so i actually am pretty excited about it:] and yes i did get permission!  The second dinner... oooh. well first of all Ricardo, had decided to just invite himself to come eat with us so that was kinda weird. I asked him why he didn't want to eat with his family and he didn't really have an answer. But the most awkward situation of the night was the fact that the member had invited their brother to kinda set us up... aahhh i'm a missionary dang it! haha i just felt super awkward so we got outta there pretty quickly after the pie was handed out. woof.
We've been trying to get pretty dang creative in our own finding efforts so we decided that we would go to this outdoor mall in our area and hand stuff out.. Well let me just say real quick that the people in our area are l.o.a.d.e.d. so most of them were just ignoring us. But then combs got this idea to wrap our books of mormon like presents and see if people would be more willing to take them. haha we walked around where santa and a big christmas tree was and we were actually able to hand all of them out:] whether the people were happy when they opened them or not i don't really know! but i think we are all pretty aware that i suck at wrapping presents haha so i was just happy that people took them.
We were also able to get some really cool teaching moments in this past week. We went over to see a lady named willie whose father passed away and he was a member and that is kinda what sparked her interest. We walked over to her house but nobody was home so as we were walking away i saw her walk inside from around the corner to her house. We waited like 5 minutes and then rang her doorbell, she answered and was happy to let us inside! She is excited to read the book of mormon and sees it as "just another missing piece to the puzzle" she's awesome and i'm excited to go back this coming week:] We also finally met a Less active lady who is married to a nonmember. We were able to finally catch her and when she was actually home alone. We sat down around the table and before she knew it she was opening up to us about how she has a severely autistic child and a little bit about her history. It ended up being awesome and at the end when i got to bear a little bit of my testimony to her she started crying and said how glad she was that we stopped by. As we were leaving her family got home and we were able to meet all of them. I know that as me and combs keep striving to find all the misplaced people in this 
ward we'll be able to see some great change here:]
I just want to leave this little bit of my testimony this week. I truly am so grateful to be out serving a mission. I can say now more than ever that i know our Savior and i know Heavenly Father personally. The longer i have served and diligently been seeking Him the more i have come to realize that He really does know what is best for us. I'm grateful for the trust that He has in me. I can feel my faith grow and grow with each week and each new experience. I love this work for i know that not only is it to change the world, but it's to change each of us one at a time:]
I love you all so much! Have a good week and stay warm:]

Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, November 25, 2013

Week 32 - Start Looking Through The Window

Well greetings my fellow family members:]

Before we jump into all the greatness of my life as a missionary i want to point something out. I'm so freakin tired. I'm just really tired all the time and i keep thinking when am i gonna get a break? oh oh yeah that'll be in like 10 months. So when i get home and everyone is super excited that Macall is back, don't be mad if i just crawl into my bed and sleep for 5 days:]
There is seriously one of the greatest ladies i have ever met in the ward named Sister Hanna. She's number one and i really look up to her and admire her. Her husband mm i think about 9 or so years ago fell away from the church. Her two older sons both came home early from their missions. She has had thyroid cancer and all sorts of other health issues, and yet she is by far one the most christlike ladies in Texas. This past tuesday she took us out for lunch and as we were sitting and talking she gave me probably the best advice i have ever received. She was talking about how her daughter served a mission and how probably 90% of the time she just wanted to come home but that her mission president would never let her. Her daughter says now just how grateful she is that she stuck it out to the end, because now she has been able to endure her current trials a lot easier. She has this famous quote "Stop looking in the mirror, and start looking through the window" and as she said it i just thought oh oh wow. How many times do i still get so caught up in what's going on with myself that i miss a lot of beautiful experiences that are right in front of me? At the end of the book of mormon mmm i think around moroni 7 he's talking about how his father, friends, everyone has passed away. He's the last one standing and he really doesn't care whether he lives or dies. What moroni didn't see however, is the huge blessings that heavenly father had in store for him, if he just endured through his current trials. I mean come one Moroni ended up being the man! he's on all our temples, he's the angel that spoke with joseph smith, he is number one. And he's number one because he endured. This past week that's been on my mind a lot, i'm trying to keep my views not on myself but on those around me. If we look at things with an eternal perspective i know that challenges and trials will be easier to face. we just gotta hang in there:]
Karen Foreman got a blessing this past week from the elders and is CANCER FREE. After the blessing we left and told her to keep us posted, a half hour later she texted us saying the doctors had just called and everything was going to be ok:] She came to church this past sunday and at the end of sacrament meeting i turned to her and asked her how she felt, she started crying and said that even though it had been 10 years, she still remembered the sacrament prayers word by word. We're gonna keep going over there and teach the discussions and hopefully her family will start being more involved. While we were sitting next to her in sacrament meeting a couple and a younger girl in jeans walked in and sat right in front of us. The couple was from Utah and they had brought their younger sister. During sacrament they were explaining to the girl what was going on and i kept thinking holy crap, i'm so glad we sat back here with Karen or we would have missed them. Right after the bread and water they got up and walked out, as the door shut behind them i just thought there is no way you can just let them leave!! So i grabbed combs and we kinda chased them down.. haha awkward i know. We talked to them in the hall and the couple is visiting their family for thanksgiving they are members but the young girl is not. Long story short we know that the young girl's family lives by an elementary school in our area and i've never prayed harder to find someone. I'm hoping that by some miracle we're able to run into them and start teaching the family.
It's been FREEZING this past week in Texas! who knew?? there never was a colder missionary in all of Texas than this girl right here:] We've been walking a lot in this area because in Katy, sometimes you have a safe sidewalk and then other times you don't.. haha and it seems like all the really busy roads don't have sidewalks. Even though it's been hard, walking has provided a lot of opportunities for us to share the gospel. haha this past week a cop stopped us and said that they saw us walking everywhere and they wanted to know what we were doing. We also got to meet Jeffrey the crazy salvation army bell ringer! oh my heck:] haha ok so jeffrey is the guy that rings the bell and you put donations in the bucket guy for 31 years! We started talking to him and oh heck, some people are just crazy. he has no teeth and when we told him we were missionaries or representatives of Jesus Christ he burst out into some old man song.. haha it was.. inspiring. The cool thing about being a missionary though is that i'm seriously just supposed to talk to everybody, and man have i met some pretty interesting people because of it.
OH YEAH! ok so the Katy 2 ward is pretty funny, at basically every meal appointment at some point or another they start talking about either their son, nephew, brother, or second cousin once removed, ya get my drift? and then they start talking about how cute, funny, fantastic all these boys are and how the majority of them live in Utah. It really always cracks me up because they are trying to set us up with them but the best part is, I've become a pro at using Sister Combs as the perfect decoy. hahaha, as soon as they bring it up I'll say, "Oh my heck combs did you hear that? they have the cutest (son) and you are so available!"  haha it drives combs crazy but i just know that when she gets off her mish and she has 73 dates lined up, she'll be thanking me:] Combs gets all awkward and every time we leave she punches me or something but heck i think it's so funny. This coming week should be interesting though because most of these candidates are in town and i'm sure we'll be invited to a couple of members houses just for the purpose of introducing us, mmmm awkward. 
 Well heck i can't even believe this week is thanksgiving! where has the time even gone?? I'm super bummed I'm gonna miss shooting cuz we all know that last year i was a legend! it's the weirdest thing how you can beat everyone even with your eyes closed:] ok so i kinda miss you guys a lot now but hey! next year will be the greatest! Also i just wanna throw in there that this is the first year in mmm what 8 or 9 years that I'm NOT doing nutcracker?! haha the other day i busted out some sugar plum for sister combs and she sat there and said please don't do that again.. yeah i miss ballet. but i just gotta accept that that ship has sailed! I love you all so much and i hope this next week is a good one! Eat a lot, sleep a lot, miss me a lot, and just know that I'm grateful to be serving the Lord.

Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, November 18, 2013

Week 31 - The Walls Come Tumbling Down . . .

My favorite people!

Well there goes another week and i can't believe that i'm already sitting here again trying to figure out what to share! This past week was awesome:] 
Tuesday night was probably the first time that i have ever actually felt frustrated with Combs.  We were getting ready to go to dinner and i asked her ok what do you feel like sharing with the family and she paused and said well i don't know.. ahh i was so tired and i was hoping she would have something she wanted to share but... no haha so i whipped something out and then when we got home we had to get ready for exchanges. I was feeling pretty excited for exchanges cuz in my head i was thinking woo hoo! i'm gonna be with the sister training leader, i get a day to just let her take the lead, i can just take a breather.... haha oh oh good one. So i get with Sister Morris and we start doing a little planning for the next day... she talked for an hour and a half. i was so tired that i just crawled into bed and passed out. The next day ALL the appointments that they had planned fell through.. so ya know what we did?! it's probably my most favorite thing to do as a missionary... we tracted. ALL DAY. But it wasn't just that we were tracting it was the fact that as we started out Sister Morris made the comment it usually takes me awhile to warm up to people. So instead of getting the day break that i was planning on getting, i ended up working my butt off in somebody else's area and found them a couple potential investigators. When we got back to our church to swap back me and combs were SO excited to see each other! hahaha my heart got all happy and you would have thought we hadn't seen each other for 5 years or something. I read during studies Alma 29:3 which basically says we need to be grateful for the things which the Lord has given us instead of just wanting something better all the time. Thank you exchanges for truly making me so so grateful for a companion that laughs at my jokes, that keeps me laughing even when we wanna punch something, that has my back at all times, and who is truly someone that i can rely on. I've realized that having a good companion really can make or break missionary work.  It affects everything haha so maybe president should just let us pick our own companions from now on right?:]
We've been doing service at an Alzheimer's place here in Katy and freak can i just tell you how much i love it!! The first time i was kinda nervous not really knowing what to expect and the ladies basically took us to the people and said have at it. The first time we just sat and talked with different people and the second time we taught a painting class hahaha aka we painted circles with them. It literally was the greatest thing i have ever done. You talk to one of them and la la la within 5 minutes you are reintroducing yourself and they are telling you how pretty you are for the 17th time. They are so precious and i love going over there. The only crappy part is that they don't allow us to take pictures:/ cuz seriously i would love you guys to see Edna and Jackie haha Jackie is hilarious and ALWAYS has bright red lipstick. she's always excited to see you.. over and over again. They really do put a smile on your face.
Me and combs have this inside joke where we say mmm we don't work hard we walk hard. Which is probably the truest statement i have ever said. We walk the streets of Katy like no one's business i don't think i have ever walked so much in my gosh dang life. One day we had to walk to other side of China to try and track down a less active lady just to find out that she didn't even live there... one thing's for sure i will not be gaining one gosh dang pound while i am serving here, not even one:]
We had dinner with a family in the ward this past week whose son is hilarious he's i think 12 or 13 and sarcasm is his finest trait. At one point during dinner the dad said Braden will you pass the rolls, i'm gonna eat one? and he responded with oh no way dad i thought you were gonna put it in your wallet! haha me and combs were busting a gut the whole time even though i think at times it annoyed the parents. Ah, i love people who can make me laugh. 
That night after dinner we got back to our apartment and low and behold ricardo was walking to his mailbox. He made the statement I swear i keep running into you guys for a reason and you bet your bottom we jumped all over that! of course you keep running into us ricardo! Heavenly Father is clearly trying to get your attention! We had a really really awesome lesson with him about the word of wisdom and we were asking questions to try and get a feel for where his testimony was at. He said that he believe the Book of Mormon to be true! So i feel like this was not all in vain! We fasted for him sunday to go to church... well he did go to church just not ours. haha but hey we ended up getting him over there last night for a tour and it was a really neat experience. I think he really is starting to get excited about the church and the impact that it could have on his life. At one point he asked if he would be able to do what me and combs do and it completely caught me off guard. I asked him why he was thinking about it and he said that he just wants to impact other people that way that we have impacted him. He also made the comment Sister Bowden i don't think you realize how influential you really are.. the way you say things and the way you act towards people really does leave a lasting impact on them. I'm not really sure what that even means but hey if something i said clicked with Ricardo then by golly i just moved a mountain people!
Yesterday was probably one of the best sundays i have had as a missionary. We had decided to fast because we needed a little extra help to get something going with the ward (which i'll be honest fasting for me and combs is a miracle in itself) but i know that the Lord is so aware of the sacrifices we make for others around us. Even if it is skipping out on a couple meals. When we got to church the Hansen family had brought their neighbors who they found out were a part member family! During Sacrament meeting a recent convert got up and shared his story of how he and his family became interested in the church and how they had made the decision to get baptized! It was so awesome and their family had become interested all because of another family in the ward! I'm telling you the big secret to missionary work is the members! but anyways it was a really powerful talk and he gave us a couple shout outs which was awesome. Then Sister Hancock prayed for me and Sister Combs over the pulpit. WHOA. uhmm is this the Katy 2 ward?? Me and Combs had also been asked to teach the Sunday School lesson because it was on member missionary work. we had been planning on sharing Elder Ballard's talk Put Your Trust In the Lord but due to technical difficulties we ended up winging it! It honestly was my Alma and Amulek moment with Combs. ah man. We just went for it and it was so cool to look out and not only see the women crying but to see most of the men getting teary eyed as well. When we started i made the statement that i hoped that the Holy Ghost would be the teacher here and that he would be able to direct us all individually and as a whole and i think that set it off on the right note. We finished up with about 15 or so minutes left so the regular teacher jumped at the opportunity and asked me and Combs 2 questions. 1: What made us decide to serve a mission? and 2: What is one experience from your mission that you will always keep with you? I can't even really tell you everything i said, but it was from my heart. When i answered the second question i wasn't really sure what to say i mean heck, one experience?? i could go on ALL THE DAYS about what i'm gonna keep with me. But i decided to open up to them, i shared with them that i was wanting to go home when a specific member of their ward had us over for dinner and even though we had gone into her house to teach her, she had taught me. She had helped me in more ways than she will ever know. I told them that while we are here to serve them and do all we can, at times i feel like they influence and impact our lives more than they realize. The spirit was soo strong in the room. As we were walking out i had a couple people stop me and say that what i had shared really touched them and that they hadn't felt the spirit like that in months. You don't realize this but people want to try to be better around you, you have this feeling you give off that makes us just want to be more. WOO! I love being a missionary. Who even am i?? and who would have ever thought that i would stand in a room in front of all these adults and be able to inspire them?? It's all because of that great big man upstairs, and i really can't wait for the day when i can give him a high 5 and say oh my gosh, do you remember that one time when i was in Katy and me and Sister Combs finally brought down the walls between us and the ward?? It was one of the best experiences i have had. 
I really just want to be a force for good. I just so badly want people to feel what i have in my heart and to know that they have so much to look forward to. The key to the challenges facing us and to the success of this work is the faith of those who call themselves Latter Day Saints. I know that a huge barrier between our success was moved yesterday:] i know that the members of the ward are starting to feel the love for missionary work, and i'm very very grateful to be a part of it. I know that this is His work, and while most the time i try to make it MY work, i just keep falling on my face. Hey i'm a work in progress and have been since my birth haha i love our Savior and i'm so grateful for the patience and love that he has towards me. 
Oh ps. so this is a picture of my mailbox... and it's the weirdest thing! i keep getting packages and letters from Arizona and yet... i haven't gotten something from Utah in months...:] it's just SO weird...
I love you all and hope that this week is a good one! you guys are number one and i'm sure i'll be talking to you sooner then i realize! Ps transfers are this week (already) but me and Combs are of course still together:]

Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, November 11, 2013

Week 30 - Strengthen Thy Brethren

Hey hey hey:]

Well where do i even begin this bad boy? So this past week was SO good. and i hope we are all thinking well, it's about time:] cuz i sure am!
On tuesday we had Specialized Training with President which is always just a spiritual blast, we talked a lot about the difference between just having a testimony and being truly converted. I think that's one of the reasons i am so grateful for this opportunity to serve i know without a doubt that growing up i always had a testimony, yep i had a knowledge that the things the gospel shared were true, but i now am becoming converted. It means so much more to me. I'm reading Jesus the Christ and i'm at the part where it's going over the whole Christ walking on water story and I think 89% of the time i'm like Peter. I'm super impulsive and when i see something great i say Hey hey, let me do that too. I know i can do it, but then after a little while i start realizing that this isn't quite as easy as i was planning. Here come the winds and the waves and i start to sink. I'm so grateful for our Savior, who at these times is right there to reach out his hand. I know that a lot of the time He does this through other people cuz clearly I am not peter and clearly i am not walking on water right now. 
We had decided during planning that we were going to see a lady named Karen Foreman. She was just a name on the less actives list and we had decided heck, we should try to see her. That afternoon as we were out about some of the elders texted us and said hey we have a referral for a lady in your ward, her name is karen foreman and she's wanting a blessing. I responded and said oh that's weird we were planning on seeing her tonight anyways. So we swing over there and got to know Karen a little bit. She grew up in Utah has some best friends in Hooper actually. She also may have cancer. She wanted to get a blessing of comfort and that's why she was trying to find the Elders. This is her "Peter" moment, and it was an incredible experience to know that Heavenly Father had already directed us to go and visit her. I told her that we actually had already been planning on seeing her and she started crying. She knows just as i do that Heavenly Father knows us, He knows us and he does hear us. His hand is in everything, as me and Combs left that night we both felt a surge of THIS IS WHY IM ON A MISSION! haha it was awesome and i was so grateful for that moment. While training at times can be a little tiring and frustrating, i have grown this love for it. I love seeing the change that starts taking place in new missionaries, I love seeing their desire to serve others grow, i love seeing their own testimonies and conversions being strengthened, because in a round about way it helps me feel like i am doing something right:]
We spent a lot of time over at Charlene's house this past week, she decided to do a bake sale fundraiser for a wrestling team. So man did i just bake my little heart out this past week. I would also just like to mention that one of the greatest accomplishments i have achieved while being out here is that i have gone 7 MONTHS without kissing anyone! haha well that basically all went down the drain when her little 3 year old daughter lip raped me when we were leaving!! she ran up to say bye and she's so stinkin cute that i picked her up (yeah sue me i know it's against the rules) well in picking her up she just laid one right on me! haha probably a moment i will never forget. 
We had mission correlation every week and this past week i FINALLY felt like we were making some progress. The assistant ward mission leader had a couple names for us to go see and there was a good spirit in the room. When he dropped us off afterwards i said Brother Perez you are the best ward mission leader! haha he said oh well i'm not the leader i'm just the assistant. I just hopped out and said oh... well you might as well be. k there i said it! They were all laughing and so were we because honestly that is the truth! Our ward mission leader still has probably said a couple hey how are ya's and that's it! 
On saturday we were asked to help out with a stake young women's conference because it was all about being a missionary la la la. I'm just gonna say it, it was much easier just showing up to those things than actually putting them together. sheesh. When everybody was gone i turned to combs and said well i have no idea if anyone got anything out of that cuz basically i just made soup and filled peoples salad bowls. haha is that how the leaders feel??  That night a boy in our ward was baptized and we were so excited to go because the family is super great and invited their nonmember friends! The spirit was so strong throughout the whole baptism but listen to the best part! Right before we were about to start, some random lady walked into the church asking to learn more! MIRACLE. We started walking with her down the hall and i wasn't really sure where to start and then bam. right in front of the chapel was a picture of the first vision. It was a really neat experience and as we were talking in the chapel she asked what she had to do to get baptized... ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! so we're planning on meeting with her later today:] We'll see how it goes.
I am starting to love the ward, yesterday i really feel like we were finally becoming a part of it. Not just the awkward girls that sometimes we see on sundays. Things are starting to come together, we're starting to pick things back up again. It's crazy to think of all the different things i am able to learn in a week. I love that i really am starting to see how God truly has a hand in our lives and how amazing the gospel really is. I'm grateful for this opportunity because i truly am becoming the person i want to be for the rest of my life. When thou are converted, strengthen thy brethren. I am converted not just to my friends in the church, not just to the doctrine, but to our Savior Jesus Christ. I am not here to earn my way to heaven but i'm trying to learn my way to heaven. 
I love you all SO much:] i hope this week you're able to find just how much our Savior loves us. Miss you all the days!
Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, November 4, 2013

Week 29 - Last Time I Checked . . . I Wasn't An Elder


oh man well where do i even begin? Ok so our new investigator Ziznedth Kelly is just something else. She's a 60..something columbian woman she's about 4'10" and oh heck is she a little spitfire. We went over there one morning to help her in her yard and let's be honest the most i helped out with our front yard is i watched through the window as you guys all slaved away. but anyways we ended making her this cactus themed flower garden haha i literally had no idea what i was doing but i think i'm a professional "fake it til ya make it" type of person so she ended up loving it. During us planting stuff she said can i take some pictures? We say of course! she asks can i send them to you guys? I said oh no our phone doesn't get pictures but you can send it to my mom, she'd love it.  Before i know what's happening, ziznedth is calling mom and saying all sorts of crazy things. After she hangs up she asks me why didn't you want to talk to her? i laughed and told her were just asked not to so that we can stay focused on missionary stuff and then she says well i called her so you didn't break the rules! This lady is crazy, she's crazy! but we love her and i know she has a heart full of gold. 
We had the ward trunk or treat this past week and ah.... it was just super frustrating. We had invited some random people in hopes that our ward would fellowship them and talk to them, yeah that didn't happen. When we got home that night i was raging mad.  How can they expect us to have success in this area when the members and leaders aren't even doing their part?! But, i think i know why i've been sent to Katy. If i'm learning anything . . . it's that i can't control what people around me do or even what they don't do. I can do my part, i can be myself, and i can react in the best way i know how. While that experience was super frustrating, i'm learning to just slowly let things go that i have no control over. It's not worth me getting stressed and upset.  I just need to keep trying no matter what.  I'm starting to learn that it's not where you serve, it's how you serve. I need to step up my game, do more, give more, love more.  I think that's probably the hardest thing for me to understand is to just be happy with what i have at the moment.  I seem to always be wanting more, whether that be more of myself or more from others, I'm just constantly trying to find what the next thing is for me to do. Sometimes we just need to take a chill pill and let things fall into place for us.
On Halloween we had to be back at our apartment around 7 if we didn't have any set appointments. We had dinner with some members and a less active lady named Amy Hansen. She's been through a lot the past year, separated from her husband and her kids chose to stay in Utah with him instead of coming down here with her. As we talked about the Atonement i just really felt the spirit so strongly. The atonement is everything. It's everything and the more we try to understand it and feel it in our lives i know that happier we will be. It doesn't take away our problems but it does enable us to deal with our problems. I'm so grateful for the atonement and what is has come to mean to me while i have been out here. I heard a talk this past week with the question "Have you been saved by grace?" and the man responded "Have you been changed by grace?" and i thought that was right on the money. The atonement is their to help us change. We need to use it or it was all for nothing, it's never too late, you're never too far gone. I"m so grateful for our Savior who is constantly pulling for us:]
Which brings me to Ricardo... so yeah we've still been teaching him. and yes he's accepting things, and yes la la la but i kinda had to bring the hammer down last night. So we were talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ and all of the sudden he made some comment about how he always thought it would be cool to smoke weed with Christ or something like that and i kept my cool to the best of my ability but i just said, "No.  Ricardo, you would never smoke weed with Christ.  And for you to say that really breaks my heart, he gave everything for you, everything.  And when you come to understand that he truly is the Son of God you would never speak of Him like that."  Ricardo just kinda froze for a second and then was trying to back pedal out of what he said but it was too late. I hope that something sunk in with him last night cuz i never wanna hear someone say crap like that again.
Yesterday was a pretty good Sunday.  Haha, once again the members just asked if we were getting fed and if we had bikes.  The ward mission leader has said a total of 5 words to us so yep we're still just kinda floating along.  A family came up and started talking to us about dinner and how they always fed the elders pizza so that's just what we should expect.  Hmm i could care less about the pizza and last time i checked i was not an elder. Haha i'm here to work and i guess i can do that either with the help of the ward or without it, but i'm still gonna work.  As frustrating as it is, I think that the longer we serve the better things will get:]
I love you guys  and miss ya all the days!! Keep hanging in there and know you're in my prayers:]
Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, October 28, 2013

Week 28 - Oh Yeah, It Says A Lot of Things In That Book . . .

Hey my great family:]

I hope that everyone is doing so good and just loving life! This past week i had some really great, funny, weird moments... so typical right?
This past Tuesday we had zone conference which is always a good spiritual boost when you're feeling down. They talked a lot on how we need to get creative in ways of finding people to teach. I'm not gonna give all my good ideas yet, but once things start coming together i'll shed some light on how sometimes ya gotta think outside the box to find people that the lord has prepared! We met with Ricardo 3 times this past week! He's a pretty great guy, haha ok he's kinda a pot head but he does keep meeting with us so i can't be too upset. After our first lesson with him he texted us that night saying thank you. I told him it was what we were there for and he said I really appreciated when you said we all have a purpose and meaning to being here. that really makes a lot of sense to me. Here's the thing with Ricardo, he really is so prepared he'll say things that our gospel has, i'll show him that basically his same thoughts are in the book of mormon, but he's a little confused on God. he thinks that God is some-thing.. not some-one. I know though that as we continue to meet with him it's gonna start clicking. There was a moment when i was sharing my testimony about the book of mormon and he turned to combs and said wow she's pretty serious about this.. YES i am. i love the book of mormon, i know that if you read it it can bring so much peace, happiness, and comfort into your life. 
That night we had dinner with a family in the ward and can i just say i love how awkwardly funny my companion is. hahah we were sitting there eating dinner and the kids were saying something about either being in a play or just sticking to their studies and awkwardly Combs says... just.. listen to your heart. haha it was so cheesy and so awkward and i busted out laughing but the family just sat there in silence. I think it probably was a you had to be there kinda thing. 
oh! so this past week we were coming to our stake center to do some training and the family history ladies were here. i'm just gonna be honest every time i think about family history i think oh woof. i'd rather poke my eyes out. but listen. So the lady starts talking to us about it and showing us the new website la la la. I started just clicking around and looking at things when i came across a name that said all of his temple work wasn't done. I click some more and come to find out all of his is done, so is his wife's but there is one daughter in their family who hasn't had any of her ordinances performed! It was the coolest thing that everyone in their family has their temple work done but not her! So next time we go to the temple i'm taking Mabel Webb's name with me. I'M SO EXCITED! first of all because her name is freakin Mabel! haha (reminds me of a cow) and second of all because now when i go it's gonna have a lot more meaning to me personally. Long story short: family work is pretty neat my friends. So sorry mom for being a knucklehead about indexing... i see now why you were wanting me to do it:]
We got a referral from the church this past week which honestly rarely happens. The lady's name is Ziznedth Kelly... yeah still i can't pronounce her first name. At first she wasn't too excited to see us, but when we told her we'd love to help her with her yard and la la la she warmed right up to us and invited us in. She has a blind weenie dog. haha but yes we're helping sister kelly with her yard and i know that by serving her it's going to open a lot of doors for us:]
SATURDAY! TODD HENKE GOT BAPTIZED:] ah man, it literally put me on cloud 9. Mama blattman came down to pick up me and Combs and as we were driving i just sat and thought man, this feels like home. I got the warmest of welcomes from the ward and a lot of we miss you's! It was incredible. This past week to be honest there were moments when i couldn't help but think what is the point of all of this? Well saturday night was the best reminder of why i do this. It reminded me a lot of ballet actually, on a day to day basis you think things like: freak i hate ballet, my body hurts, the teacher hates me, this is pointless. Then comes performance time and all you remember is why you love it so dang much. I love missionary work. I love that the Henke family is set on the path to be together forever. I love that i got to spend a night with not only mama b but also with TAU! it was an awesome reunion:] the spirit was so strong. Todd got up at the end to share his testimony and he had actually written a poem. who knew he was a closet poet? When we got home that night i went to bed thinking heck, i love my mission.
 How do I begin, where do I start
Fifteen years ago a Mormon woman captured my heart
Little did I know I would be standing here today
Teary eyed, forgiven, wiped clean, the Holy Ghost found a way
Our family began with a little baby boy
Cameron's his name and oh what a joy
Then came a test, a test like no other
a pregnancy cut short for Dad and for Mother
Its time to begin your greatest test on this earth
For today I present you with Joel's miracle birth
Doctors weren't sure if he would live or he would die
But we prayed and prayed that we would not have to say goodbye
Our lives were changed forever that day
The Lord was with us every step of the way
What happens next was for sure a long shot
For we wanted a girl to mix up the pot
Our sweet dear Allyson, what a blessing was she
We thought for sure it was going to be boy number three
A sweet little girl who brings joy to our life
Her smile and her laughter and everything nice
Logan would join us from a life lived before
Little did we know that soon that would be no more
My dear son Logan a child was he
When darkness prevailed our eyes didn't see
That painful memory still haunts us to this day
But with God’s plan of forgiveness, I know his sin can be washed away
Torn was the family from head to toe
That life again as we knew it was starting to go
Mom and Dad, brothers too
Turned their backs on my family without a clue
Still to this day our life is the same
Not one word of I'm sorry too much pain
I felt like an apple thrown out to rot
Everywhere I turned, life seemed to be an empty lot
The church I grew up knowing, learning, and supporting
Seemed a far cry from what Luther taught in his writings
The people seemed cold, distant, and sometimes rude
Not what I expected from a church that I gave my life to
There were many times that Michelle did suggest
That we at least try LDS
I did go a few times but to no ones surprise
You don't get very far only after a few tries
Then along came two sisters on bikes nonetheless
I thought to myself could they have the right address
Bowden and Tau, strong in their convictions
Knowing full well their life changing intentions
They started teaching week after week
The kids actually looked forward to hearing them speak
The gospel restored, Baptism talks
That's when it hit me, the LDS sisters rock
Boys were baptized, the Spirit received
Follow in their footsteps, I believe
With my future secure and the Holy Spirit near
I now know that I have nothing to fear
Thank you to all who have shown us the way
You've given us a path back to Heavenly Father's stay
And to my wife who never lost sight
            We’ll be sealed forever in eternal light.

Im so grateful to be out serving a mission. I'm so so grateful that Heavenly father hears and answers my prayers. It's not always instantaneously, but man it always seems to be right when i need it the most:] Last night when we hopped into the car for dinner the lady said oh by the way my husband isn't a member. Instantly in my mind i'm thinking oh heck what's plan b for our lesson then? We typically have been sharing the same lesson with all the members on missionary work. So all throughout dinner i'm thinking crap, i don't know anything about them really. I said a prayer in my head and just asked Heavenly Father what can i share with this family? Boom, the thought came. That lesson was one of the most inspired moments i've had on my mission. I know that we just need to rely on our Heavenly Father. It's all Him and with the help of the Holy Ghost, man we are set:] 
I love you guys so much! Thank you for all the love and suppport you give me:] oh and freak, have a happy halloween!! i'm so bummed that i can't be there to eat all the candy with you:]

Love, Sister Bowden