Monday, March 31, 2014

Week 50 - My Spiritual GIANT!

My family!!
Well oh my goodness.  I don't even know where to start!!  I was transferred and I am now serving in the blessed land of MONTGOMERY!! and all I can say is that it truly is incredible and I have hands down the best companion in the mission:]  I'm serving with Sister Bonner!! She is 6'2" and literally i feel like she is retraining me on how to be a missionary. She doesn't sit around and wait for miracles to fall into her lap, she seeks them out. She pushes me to do likewise and I am so so so grateful to have a companion that just wants to work.  These next 6 weeks should be incredible!
Montgomery is like you classic Texas type small town.  I absolutely love it and we have soo much going on in the area right now!  I want to just sit and type down all the neat experiences but I will share just a couple small moments that really impacted me this past week.
So we have a wide range of people that we are teaching right now.  We teach a woman who literally lives in a mansion on the lake, and then we also teach a man who, when we met him, didn't have anything but a mattress in his apartment.  I love that truly the gospel can bless any person no matter what circumstances they may be in.
We also had a baptism this Saturday!  Millie Coats is 79 years old!  We call her grannie and she calls us "her girls."  After she was baptized, we were waiting in the bathroom while she changed and during a quiet moment I heard her softly whisper "thank you Jesus."  When she came out in her dress, she bore her testimony to Sister Bonner and I.  It's a good feeling when you can here your convert simply say, "My love for the Savior has grown and I know this is His church."   Ahhh they get it!!!
One night after an appointment fell through, we decided to go through the neighborhood and start finding some people.  We weren't having the best of luck, we started to walk up this couple's driveway and as we were walking, the wife saw us and started shooing us away saying, "We don't have time for you right now."  Sister Bonner just yelled back, "We are just in the area doing some service! Can we help you?"  It took both of them by surprise and they said sure and asked if we had a hammer!  Haha well we helped with their new screened in front porch and set up a time to come back and share a message. That first lesson was one of the best ones I have taught while on my mission:]  Mickey and Glenda were so excited to hear that we had a prophet here on the earth today!  She asked what his name was and if she could look him up.  We left her with a bunch of information and told her to check out  Well... listen to this!  She got on and started reading and said that ALL of our beliefs are things that she has always thought were true!.. and then she came across the Word of Wisdom... both her and mickey smoke and drink both coffee and alcohol.  She looked at the computer, looked at him and then said.. "Well it's time we give it up anyways."  CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?  I was blown away at how prepared these two have been.  Haha they are your classic Texans.  At one point Mickey said,  "I am a classic old school red neck!  My priorities are 1: my lord Jesus Christ and  2: my family."  Haha they are hilarious and i absolutely love them:]
Last, but definitely not least, we have Marcus:] who during sacrament meeting yesterday leaned over to me and whispered, "Sister Bowden.. when can I get the holy ghost?" :]]]]] Are you kidding me??  We talked a little bit more about his baptismal date and how he would receive the the gift of the holy ghost that following Sunday.  He is just so grateful and so ready to accept all that we have.
I truly feel so so blessed to be serving up here in Montgomery!  It is a place full of opportunities and with my awesome partner Bonner, I'm looking forward to the coming weeks.  We have A LOT to do, and I hope that we can somehow put a dent in all the things we wish to achieve.
I hope that all is going well back home, that each day you are finding little moments of happiness:] and know that I am missing you!!
Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, March 24, 2014

Week 49 - Not Apos, Just Understanding


Well here it is my family, looks like after a really blurred 6 months I am heading off into the sunset to an area full of new challenges and adventures!!  But, before I jump to all of that, let me tell you about this past week which was full of miracles:]
We had the opportunity of going to the temple and I was really grateful for the time that we got to spend there.  It was neat to prepare for it in the morning and receive some really neat impressions while I was inside:]  I think that the more you try to build your relationship with Heavenly Father the more you'll be able to understand how He works and how He speaks.
We went as a district and to help a family clean up their yard and while everyone was pulling weeds, Elder Hunter and I found a skateboard!  Holla! Iit was a good time riding that thing around for a couple minutes and no one panic!  I didn't break my arm or anything:]  
Haha, another funny story from pulling weeds.  Me and Elder Keith were in one section pulling away when all of the sudden he leaned over and accidentally let one rip. Hahahaha, oh his face was hi-larious and I couldn't help but just bust up laughing.  Me and Keith were in the same MTC district so I just told him that after a year of friendship it was just time to take it to the next level:]  I guess there are no more walls between us haha.

We also have 3 new FAMILIES that we have started teaching!!  Can you even believe that?! We have found them through knocking, members, and other missionaries and it has been incredible to see the miracles all happen in such a short amount of time!  When we went to our Relief Society activity on Thursday we had 3 other members say "Hey we have some people that we want to introduce you to, they are willing to listen to the lessons!"  I was completely blown away!!  And to top it all off Rori Van Hook came to sacrament meeting on Sunday:]  She said that she had a lot of questions and I think that it's just going to be a process with her.   Fortunately for us, the Janis family in the ward is Jewish, and every year they practice the traditions of Judaism.  When we introduced Rori to them, she was pretty excited and kept saying, "I need to talk to them a little bit more."  Honestly, good things are just flowing into the Katy 2 ward:]  I absolutely love it. 
So yes, as it turns out, it seems that I am being transferred right as soon as things start moving in our area.  I am so happy though because I know that whoever comes in next will be coming into some really great opportunities!  I'm leaving the area in WAY better conditions then how I got it which is honestly all that I could ask for:] and all of it just reminds me of Alma 7:19..yea, I perceive that ye are making his paths straight.   I think that's the slogan for my mission..haha either that or "It's all good!"  I am so so grateful for the time that I have gotten to spend serving in Katy.  I know that I've have built relationships that will last forever and I couldn't be more excited for what lies ahead. 
I know that my Savior lives.  I can feel it with every ounce of my little body:]  Nothing makes me happier and nothing drives me quite as much as this knowledge.  Every moment of serving a mission has been worth more than anything else.  I've really been striving to just follow the spirit and have it with me constantly.  I'm on the home stretch and I wanna make the most of every day, every hour, and every week.  
I love you all and think the world of you.  I'm praying for you every night and I hope that this week you'll be more mindful of the things Heavenly Father is trying to tell you:]

Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, March 17, 2014

Week 48 - You Converted the Whole Ward!

Well hey there mi familia!
This past week has been one just full of great experiences and I, once again, am just so grateful for this opportunity that I have to serve the Lord:]   There is nothing better that I could be doing. 
We had exchanges and I got to spend the day in Sealy which was SO good:]  They live with members and the guy has an art studio in his house which is so sweet!  He has dedicated a whole lot of time to his pieces and had this huge collection of paintings of Christ's ministry while he was on the earth.  It was a pretty neat experience and I loved the experiences he shared with me.  It's pretty neat to think that the Lord has blessed us with so many different ranges of talents!  But, anyways, we spent a lot of time knocking doors in Sealy and I absolutely loved it!  I love humble people:]  It really was good for me because we were able to contact a lot of people and find a handful of people that were willing to listen to us.  I left with the thought of "Phew! You are still a good missionary":] 

One day Me and Newhouse decided that we were gonna spend some time tracting in our area... haha which we avoid at all costs because with previous experiences it just hasn't seemed like the most effective way to spend our time.  Well, before we start going buckwild pounding on doors we decided to say a prayer for where we should go and I felt an impression to go to this certain building number at the apartment complex we were at. The second to last door Joanne answered, and at first she seemed pretty put off that we were knocking randomly on her door.  BUT, the spirit took over, we talked to her about a loving Heavenly Father, that the Book of Mormon can be a source of strength and that it was written specifically for this time.  As we left her with a prayer she was just smiling and said, "You have no idea how much this means to me!"  CAN I JUST SAY HOW GOOD IT FEELS TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE AN INSTRUMENT IN THE LORDS HANDS? When you listen and follow the spirit, it just is unlike anything that you could ever experience. SO good:]

We also had dinner with my favorite lady Sister Hanna:]  As we were talking about what's been going on and la la la she told us that we have no idea all the good work that has come from us being here.  She said, "Sisters you should be proud of the work you have done, you've converted this whole ward" :]  I guess a huge part of missionary work, which honestly I tend to look over, is helping the members in their own conversions. 
Speaking of the ward, I got to speak yesterday in sacrament meeting! and once again, i love speaking!!  Haha it's become one of my favorite things to do.  I love just getting up telling a good story, throwing in some gospel principles, bearing a powerful testimony, and just walking away:]  Haha I talked mostly on how being a member of this church or having the gospel in our lives will always be something we'll have to fight for.  It's not meant to be easy, but I know that as we strive to constantly trust in the Lord man, we got some pretty great things to look forward to.  I LOVE THE KATY 2ND WARD.  K there I said it.  This has been thee absolute hardest thing that I have tried to be a part of, but I have just grown to love this area and all the people in it.  I know that it is through trials that we can become better acquainted with God:]  Afterwards I had quite a few people come and say, "Man Sister Bowden, that was so great!  I was just hangin on to every word!"  I truly am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who finds a way to work through all types of people, even this crazy, free-spirited girl from Hooper, Utah! 
I love you all so so much!  I hope that you are happy and well and that things are just moving right a long:] Keep fighting that good fight and know that I'm missing you guys.

Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, March 10, 2014

Week 47 - Making His Love Personal

Ah! well hi guys:]
I hope that everyone had a super great week and that if anything this email can in someway or another bring a smile to your face! This past week for me has definitely been one that has once again opened my eyes and heart. I can't get over how good Heavenly Father is to me. 
So there is a less active part member family in our ward that we've been trying to get a hold of since my first week in being here and we heard that their grandmother had had surgery about a week ago.  Well we talked to her visiting teacher and she actually set up a time for us to just go over and visit with her.. but the only problem is that she ONLY speaks Spanish!  Haha she seriously can only say hello and thank you in English.  Hahaha but we decided to do it anyways, when we got there she started rambling off and we said uh.. yo hablo no espanol.. and she replied no hablo ingles.. and we awkwardly stared at each other for a minute.  But then Sister Newhouse got a sweet idea she opened up a spanish Book of Mormon and was trying to find words to put together to talk but the grandma just grabbed the book from her and started reading.  Haha it was pretty neat she just kinda got sucked into it.  We then called one of the spanish elders and had her talk to her over the phone and even though we couldn't understand what the heck was going on they seemed to be laughing and having a good conversation.  And then Ivanna walked through the door! She is 22 and is the only member in her family, we got to talk to her and she said that she had felt like the church was isolating her from her family that's why she took a step back.  We got to know her, played some games and by the end of it, she actually asked us to come back!  So later this week we'll go back and chill with the Spanish speaking grandma and hope that Ivanna keeps wanting to meet with us:]
We also got a referral from a member in another ward.  We had set an appointment up with her and as we knocked on the door her mother actually answered AND SHE HAS BEEN SO PREPARED!  She's originally from Mexico city and her sister and niece were baptized about 2 years ago.   Her son lives in north Houston and she told us that when she was with him the missionaries found her there, and now that she is living with her daughter she's excited to see missionaries here too.  She loves el libro de mormon and is excited to read it with her daughter.  Anyways it was exciting to see that the Lord had prepared her and now we potentially have a whole family to teach:]
Yesterday after sacrament meeting a member came up to me and said Sister Bowden I need to tell you something.  Me and my husband have been talking about you and we have decided that you truly are unlike any other sister we have met.  We want you to know that we see your leadership abilities and how much potential you have and we just think you are incredible.  We want you to know that regardless of where Heavenly Father puts you, you can have a lasting influence on people.  We just thought you should know.  I just kinda sat there in shock.  Sister Fulroth has no idea how much that means to me.  Honestly that's all that I have ever wanted is to just know that me serving in this area has made a difference for somebody else.  After that, we had the awesome opportunity to teach the 13 year old sunday school class, haha which was a little buckwild.  It seemed like everything we tried to share they'd go off on some ridiculous tangent that would just make us laugh.  But somehow we got on the topic of having our prayers answered and I felt prompted to share my little earrings story and I guess I'll just share it real quick.  So pre-mish Macall had more than one set of earrings in her ears (ooh yeah I was such a bad kid) but anyways, I loved those things.  I thought they were so cute la la la but the only problem was that every time I would look in the mirror I'd have this little inner battle. One voice "just take them out, this is so dumb, you know you don't even really need those."  The other voice "but come one they are so cute and no one really cares anyways" just back and forth all day long.  Well finally one morning I was saying a prayer and I just said Heavenly Father if you want me to take these out you're just gonna have to say it, otherwise I really like them and I'm gonna keep them in.  Haha oh boy does he answer. Well later that night I was hanging out with a boy that I REALLY liked, he was so good looking and could really make me laugh.  We were sitting there and I just asked him so.. you like me? Are we dating..? and he looked at me and he said ya know Macall.. I do like you, I do, I just can't date you.  And me being typical me was just like WHAT?!  Who in their right mind doesn't wanna date me?  Haha, but then he said something that cut me deep.  He said if you can't even do the simple things that we've been asked, like having one piercing, how can I trust that you'll be able to do the hard things?   Boom.  Slap in the face.  Heart smashed on the floor.  I was pretty humiliated.  BUT I knew that that was Heavenly Father answering me:]  So anyways, I tell this story and all the dumb 13-year-old boys go crazy on the part that I got shut down and we're joking about it.  I kinda thought to myself why in the heck did I even feel prompted to share that dumb story.  Come to find out the one girl in the class, the only stinkin girl, had been debating with her parents about getting more piercings but my story helped her!  Her mom came up to me later that day and said hey, thank you for sharing that story in Taylar's class, it really really helped her.  WOO! ah I love moments when I actually do something right!  Following the spirit is one of the trickiest things to do, but I know that if we simply just trust.  Just trust that no matter what you do the spirit is going to take over.  Honestly 93% of the time people aren't even really paying attention to what you say, but they always know how they feel when you are around.  How you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you.  I know that that is so true.   God's love is universal but it is up to us to make it personal.  I know that the more we search for that love, the more we will be able to help others feel it also.
So I've been serving in this ward for about 6 months now and the latest and greatest hot question is Sister Bowden, what are you going to do when you get home? and this is my answer.
1: avoid all people of the male gender. Dodge all those bullets and just be awesome.
2: get a sweet dog.
3: eh get back into school and figure out my life.
4: take kickboxing and buy a kayak:]  and 
5: continue serving the lord to the best of my ability.
Haha that's the plan and I'm sticking to it!  honestly I haven't even got a letter in who knows how long me and newhouse have this on going joke that whenever we get ads their clearly to me!  I'm such a good friend and neighbor.. of course they would want to send me stuff:] 
Well I love you guys so very much!  I hope that this week you just make some new friends, find a new hobby, or help someone feel that that are important.  Go do the incredible!

Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, March 3, 2014

Week 46 - I'm not Flippin Johnny Appleseed!

Hey there familia!
Aahhh!! So this week has been so gosh dang frustrating!!  We had an awesome lesson with Ricardo at a member's home on Tuesday and it went so well!   The whole family jumped in and things were just flowing away, at the end we committed him to pray and come to church, his response was oh yeah of course I'm gonna do that!.. but did he... NO:/ sweet mercy.  I have felt like we just keep hitting all these dead ends.  We'll have this little glimmer of hope and then it just disappears. 
I was reading in Alma 8 though and a member pointed something out that was pretty interesting, so Alma decides to come back to Ammonihah right?  And when he comes back he meets up with Amulek (the member) and in verse 27 it says and he tarried with Amulek for many days before going out and preaching.   Well I took that as ok we're taking a step back, and we're going to build our relationships up with the members here before we go out and try to preach again which is mildly frustrating cuz you would think after 5 months I'd have good relationships with the members, and honestly most of them i do. But there are a couple more families that we need to get to. I'm just constantly praying that the Lord will help a sister out! 
We went and visited the Swopes this week.  They are an older couple and I absolutely adore them!  So brother Swope has had a TON of health issues, he can't really see, he can barely hear, and it's pretty tough for him to get around, but I still think he's the greatest and when you see his wife take care of him it seriously melts your heart.  But, anyways, he showed me his man cave and I just about died! He has a wall of signed baseballs! A WALL OF THEM!  He has a boxing glove signed by Muhammed Ali and a giant sneaker signed by Karl Malone!!  I was drooling over everything!!  Hahaha but really it was pretty neat. 
On Wednesday after our ward correlation meeting I was walking around talking to some of the youth and I decided to just give a couple of them Books of Mormon to hand out.  I challenged a couple of them to give them to a friend before Sunday and guess what!  My favorite 12-year-old, Colby Allen, came up to me during church and said look at this as he handed me his phone and there was a picture of his friend holding the Book of Mormon and smiling:]  Haha i felt like a proud little mother!  It was a cool moment to see that he did go and do the thing that I had just casually challenged him.  He's number 1 and I'm grateful for the fearless youth that we do have.
Gosh well,  I wish that I had some awesome story to throw down and share, but honestly I have NONE!  We'll have this awesome lessons with less actives and potential investigators and then.. it just goes nowhere.  Yesterday we were talking to people before sacrament meeting started and a member came up to us and said how's the work?  I wasn't sure how to respond so I said "Oh, well as you can see, no one is here with us today."  He made the comment "ya know sisters you're kinda like Johnny Appleseed, just leaving seeds everywhere you go."  In my head I was seriously yelling NOOOOOO!! I am not Johnny Appleseed!  Ah, I refuse to accept that, there is so much work to be done!  I got up to bear my testimony and for some reason I felt prompted to tell them the "my best friend Des" story where she asked me about what we believe and I told her I didn't wanna talk about it.  Surprisingly, I had a lot of members that felt touched by that story.. heck, I just can't figure these people out!  I love them, I really do, I just don't know how to motivate them to be more missionary minded.  BUT I think that's enough pity party from this missionary!  Seriously life is really good, I love this work and all the many blessings that come with it:] 

Love, Sister Bowden