Monday, April 28, 2014

Week 54 - Being What He Wants Me To Be

Well hello hello my dear family:]
This week ended up being quite challenging! We had interviews with President Pingree and as always they were great! As we got to talking things we're just peachy and we started discussing... plans to go home.  Which, as of lately, isn't my favorite subject to talk about.  For quite some time I have been planning on coming home in September, that way I could have 3 solid months to get back to ballet shape so I could audition in January! That's been my game plan for I can't even tell you how long.  Well we're talking about it and President says "Ya know I think that's a wonderful plan.  It'll be exciting to see what happens when you get home."  For some reason though, I felt the need to pray about it and ask the big man upstairs what His thoughts were.  The next day during my studies I received my answer. . . He needs me to stay.  He needs me to stay til the end of October. When I got that revelation I was so bummed!!  But what about ballet?!  What about all my big plans?  And ya know what thought I had . . .  "Have you still not learned that that's not what I want you to be?"  Aahhh crushing.

The next day was hard as well, we went out and knocked for hours with a couple sparks of excitement.  I saw a little boy out riding his bike and I asked him, "Hey what's your name?"  "Casinova, Jeffrey!" He replies and I ask him, "Well Casinova, where is your mom?"  He laughs at me and says "NO call me Jeffrey" and starts pedaling away.  We follow him to his house and as we approach it starts feeling a little weird.  We can hear a woman inside yelling the F word about every other word and there is broken beer glasses ALL over the yard.  Jeffrey runs inside and says "Mama!  Somebody is here to see you."  The mom says a couple other choice words and comes storming out the door, she takes one look at me and Sister Niedert (exchanges) and says a wonderful collection of words that I never, never, never would like to hear again.  She throws a bottle at the house and it shatters.  As we are walking away I can hear her screaming at Jeffrey.  Ya know the worst thing about it is that Jeffrey doesn't know any differently . . . to him that's how mom's treat their kids. To him that's just the way families are, and that thought right there is what breaks my heart the most.

The next day once again we're out trying to find some inactives on our list.  We got to a door, knock and decide to leave a note for the lady.  As we're walking away another crazy lady pokes her head out the door and yells, "I would recommend that you never come back here" and before we can answer, she slams her door.  We get in the car and as we're driving away our phone rings, I answer it and before I even know it, the crazy lady is once again yelling some cruel and disgusting things at me.  I just sit there, in shock.  And then I broke.  Why are people SO mean?  Why does Satan have to work so hard to try and bring me down?  Ah it's like 2 Nephi 4. Why should my strength slacken because of my afflictions?  My answer:  OPPOSITION.  

I got a blessing from our incredible Bishop and it was an answer to some of the deepest concerns of my  heart. I know more than anything that I am needed here.  There are specific people that need me and will need me until October.  I need to trust in that and trust that all will be well:]  I think that at times the more we try to build our relationship with God and help others do the same, the more Satan is going to try to stop you.  The more he is going to put doubts in your mind and throw some really nasty things in your way.  I'm learning to stay strong, to not throw in the towel, and to keep trying even when I feel like I can't.

I love this gospel. I know that it is true and that others have given up so much more than I.  Heavenly father is there, and I know He will help me through the hard times.  In fact, I think that's what He does best:]

I love you all and I hope that you have an INCREDIBLE week:]  We get transfer calls this Sunday!  Can you even believe how quick time is flying by?!  It's just not right!  And then it'll be mother's day!  Ah I'll talk to you guys soon!  I miss you so much!!
Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week 53 - My First REAL Easter Experience

Well another week has come and gone and I just want everyone to know that I MISS YOU!  I have decided that holidays are just not the same when you are solo dolo, especially when you're dying Easter eggs by yourself!  Ah you know that's my favorite part of Easter! (well other than the whole resurrection part of it), but hey, it's all good.

I don't think that today I'm gonna take a really long time to write about all the miracles and ups and downs of this past week, but I do want to share something that has really led me to believe that Heavenly Father truly does have a plan set out for each of us.  At times we may even turn away or feel distant from our Heavenly Father but even then, He still does not give up on us.

So yesterday I woke up feeling like a champ and we got to the church by 7 for some meetings.  Before sacrament meeting started I was anxiously waiting to see which of our investigators were going to show up and which ones were once again going to miss out on some sweet blessings.  While I'm sitting there looking around when I look behind me and I see this guy that I instantly recognized.  Of course i'm sitting there thinking no, there's no way, I'm in Montgomery, Texas and I haven't seen him for like 4 years, nah he probably just looks a lot like him.  When the meeting finished Sister Bonner tells me go talk to those people, they are a part member family and we haven't seen them in awhile.  I take a breath and tell her I already know them and go walk over to re-introduce myself.  I walk up to the girl and say, "Hey, are you McCall Nelson?"  She looks a little confused and says yeah that's me.  I turn to the guy and say, "and your Rudy right?"  He says yeah and they are both just staring at me like I'm the most awkward girl in Texas.. So I say well I'm Sister Bowden and I went to Fremont High and I remember seeing you guys there!  Rudy looks at me for a little bit longer and says... "Is your first name Macall?"  Haha i smile and say Yeah! He then asks me, "you dated my friend Ducky right?"  Haha, I start laughing and said "Yeah, a little bit."  We start talking a little bit and I asked them if we could come stop by later this week.  They say sure sure and wa la, we have reconnected with one of our less active part member families!

But.. let me give you some background information.  Rudy is not a member of the church, but I have been aware of him since I was an 8th grader.  For one reason or another at school every time I saw him I would think, "You should talk to him" but did i ever?  No not really, I would when I was with Ducky but that was maybe once.  I can't even say though how many times at school I would see him and there was some weird connection that words don't explain.  When we got home from church I just burst into tears.  Even during high school when I was kinda taking some wrong paths Heavenly Father was still preparing me for when I would serve a mission.  I know that He places people in our paths for a reason.  It seems like He always knew what I would end up choosing and now He's placed me here in Montgomery, Texas, of all places, to help this guy that I should have helped so long ago!  I just truly believe that there is a purpose to everything.  I'm incredibly humbled and grateful to know just how mindful Heavenly Father is of each of us.  He works in incredible ways and I feel like I have been placed in Montgomery for a specific reason. Crazy!!

But, yes, while Easter is so great with bunnies and eggs and candy, this year I think I finally understood what this is all about.  Because He came our lives have meaning.  We will live again.  We can be forgiven.  We can find peace.  Because He came, we can start over as many times as we need.  We can be lifted from our trials.  We can see our loved ones again.  And Because He came, we can return back to our Heavenly Father.  It's been incredible having this opportunity to spend time in dedicating myself to the Savior.  It is through him that we can find happiness.  My life will never be the same:]

I love you all, I miss you all, and I can't wait to kiss you all.  Haha, Ew heck no!  Scratch that last one.  Have a great week y'all I'll be seeing ya before you know it:]

Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, April 14, 2014

Week 52 - How Do You Measure A Year?!

Well hello jello!!
I am just SO happy to be writing y'all today:] This past week has once again been one just full of incredible moments and learning experiences!
So Sister Bonner is the sister training leader in our zone which means that she has to go on exchanges with all the other sisters in our zone, which means that I also have to go on exchanges with them.  So yep, we do a lot of exchanges!  This past week I got to be with Sister Powell and Sister Ae and it was SO incredible!  Right before I was falling asleep all of a sudden Sister Powell whispers in the dark "Sister Bowden..?"  " Yeah?"  "I just want you to know that I really look up to you."  It's little moments like that that make me feel like hey ya know, maybe I'm not too bad of a missionary after all and I absolutely adore Sister Ae!  She's from Hawaii and is seriously my long lost twin.  We have the most random things in common and I think I spent the whole day laughing:]  We visited with our awesome hippie neighbor Ken!  He's a really neat guy, that we'll share scriptures with and see how he's doing.
During our weekly planning sesh me and Bonner were discussing things that we needed to be better at.  We decided that one thing we really needed to focus on was that each lesson was led by the spirit instead of us just teaching the same lessons that we've been teaching for awhile now.  In doing that, I have really felt a difference in our lessons!  We're teaching this girl named Brittney who is seriously like the nonmember version of Macall!  I stinkin love her and as we tailored a lesson specifically for her and her needs, we had an awesome outcome!  I love that moment when the spirit breaks down their walls and they really start opening up to you.
We also spent some time knocking away, and we came across a lady named Paige!  Gave her the scoop had a good time hearing about her past experiences and right as we were about to leave Bonner asks her, "Can we leave you with a prayer?"  She says sure, and as I was praying I just felt the spirit once again take over.  When we finished she said Holy Cow!  I have goosebumps all over!  I really am so grateful for the power of prayer!  I know that as we are sincere in our prayers and are truly seeking the things that Heavenly Father has for us, we will be blessed.   We will find comfort and we will find happiness:]
I got to listen to President Monson's talk with some recent converts, the one about Courage, Not Compromise and it really hit me hard.  I think one of Macall's biggest weaknesses is that I really just wanna be liked by everyone, and in having that weakness I give into people so that we can all be friends.  CAN I SAY HOW HARD THAT IS AS A MISSIONARY?  I'm working on finding that "inner courage" so that when moments like this arise I won't be afraid, I won't lower my standards, but I will trust in the Lord.  It's Him who I should be trying to please anyways right?  I just wish that we could all get on the same page and just want to do the right thing.  How do you help people feel comfortable around you when you don't really think they are doing what's right?  Haha I sound like I should be back in jr. high or something... but anyways I just really loved that talk, if you haven't listened to it, do.  It's a good one:]
I also ate crawfish for my first time ever! and man those things look creepy.  It's also a whole heck of a lot of work for a teeny bit of meat.  Haha . . . not even worth it:] but hey I'm always up for new things.  It's all about the experience right?
Well honestly, we have just a lot going on!  Too many investigators to sit here and write about all day.  We had another 14 year old boy come to church yesterday and he's wanting to be baptized so we gotta get the ok with his mom and then let the lessons begin!  It truly is such an incredible blessing to be serving in an area like Montgomery.
AND NOT TO MENTION I HAVE OFFICIALLY BEEN SERVING THE LORD FOR A YEAR! i can't even believe it's gone by so fast:/  Who am i, if i'm not a missionary?  Haha no one is gonna think i'm cool anymore wah!!  Haha but really, it's been the greatest thing ever.  I can't tell you what a privilege it is to be a part of this great work, to get to be an instrument in the Lord's hands and help people get started on their own path, man, there is NOTHING greater:]
I love you all oh so much!  I hope this week is one full of incredible things, that if your sick ya get better, if your stressed ya get some ice cream, and if your bored you find a sweet adventure to go on:]  Like one of the talks said, we only have 4 minutes, let's make the most out of it while we can!
Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, April 7, 2014

Week 51 - Miracle Mania :}

Well sweet mercy!  Before I jump into the great moments of this past week . . .  YES Elder Holland's talk was SOOO good!  No when my little incident happened, I didn't think about writing the general authorities, but man, it hit home and I really appreciated what he shared.  That man literally must have been my best friend in the premortal life - not. even. kidding.   General Conference is seriously like christmas morning as a missionary.  I absolutely loved all that was shared and I couldn't help but think "Ah! my family is sitting in that audience!"  I did for a moment miss you guys a lot:]
But, like I was saying this week was just FULL of miracles!  I truly feel so incredibly blessed to be serving a mission.  One night we were trying to get in contact with one of our former investigators at the gas station she worked at.. well it ended up being a huge hot spot for us!  We were able to contact and talk to a lot of people that were coming in and the best part was later this week when we went to follow up on a mother and daughter named Ella and Jennifer, we were able to teach the first lesson powerfully and invite both of them to be baptized on May 10.  They accepted the invitation:]  I have a firm witness that Heavenly Father really will place prepared people in our paths as we show our obedience and faithfulness to Him.
So here in Montgomery we really push to have a member at EVERY lesson, which at times can be kinda stressful but someway and somehow the Lord always provides.  One night our appointment fell through as they often do, so we took our member out tracting.  As it was getting dark the member said hey let's just try one more.  We went and knocked on the door and the lady said she was having a rough day and now wasn't really a good time, then WAM the member starts bearing a powerful testimony on the Book of Mormon, that she was a daughter of God, on and on and the lady just started crying.  It was a really incredible experience to see this member just take off!  Sometimes I feel that their testimony is much more powerful then mine, mostly because with the badge people expect me to just testify of Christ all the day long, but coming from a normal woman it had a totally different impact:]  Members, you are so great!  Never never doubt what you are capable of.
Mickey and Glenda are still just moving right along! We watched the Sunday afternoon session with them and it was such a spiritual moment.  I appreciated SO much when L. Tom Perry started sharing his story with the horses, it spoke right to Mickey and they loved it.  As we were talking afterwards Glenda blurted out, I just love this church! Mickey had just one question  . . . he said growing up me and my daddy were like this, we were always close . . . will I be able to see my father again after I die?  How grateful I am for the Plan of Salvation.  It was such an incredible moment to be able to share my personal testimony that yes, he would be able to be with his father again and that his father was probably a lot closer to him than he realized.  As we shared our testimonies on eternal families Mickey started tearing up.  I know that families were meant to last through the eternities, I know that we were placed specifically in our families to help in our journey back to our Heavenly father.
So sister Bonner is the STL and that means that she has leadership meetings and exchanges about twice a week so yeah sometimes I feel like I've been left in the dust to figure things out.  This past week while she was gone, I had no idea what to do so we took some time knocking doors . . . well we go up to one . . . knock knock knock . . . me:  "Hey! We are the missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" . . . (cut off)  Lady: "You mean the Mormons?"   Me: "Haha yeah that's kinda become our nickname, but what we do" (cut off) . . . Lady: "There ain't no way in hell we are talking to Mormons I am a Baptist and I have heard plenty about y'all". . . (slams the door).   Well my goodness!  Angry, pregnant, baptist ladies are definitely not on my favorite people to talk to list!  In Montgomery there are literally like 7 churches on every street and a LOT of Southern Baptists.  I guess that a lot of the preachers will preach against us and warn their congregations about the Mormon missionaries . . . Yikes.  Well, it's nothing that a little softening of the heart won't fix:]
But seriously things are just catching fire down here, I've absolutely loved it and I am absolutely so tired every day!  I love this gospel.  I know that Heavenly Father truly is a father to us, he loves us.  Jesus Christ is His son and our savior.  I'm grateful for living day prophets and the HUGE impact they have had on my life.  Being a missionary truly is the greatest thing, everyday I'm so grateful to be out here.  I now see things from such a different perspective.  The greatest decision I have made so far was to give up something I loved so dearly, to a God I loved even more.  I feel that He has never forgotten me for it, and has brought greater blessings than I ever could have expected:]
I love you guys so very much!  You are in my prayers and I hope that you do the incredible this week!
Love, Sister Bowden