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