Monday, June 30, 2014

Week 63 - Who YOU Are.

Well hello jello:]

Oh my goodness I don't even know where to start.  SO many incredible things have happened this past week, I hope that this email will do it justice!

We got the incredible opportunity this week to have a training session in the temple with the temple president and President Pingree.  My mind was blown.  I have been praying over the past 4 months asking Heavenly Father to teach, remind or show me who I was before I came to this earth.  Please just help me understand the person I was before so that I can stay true to it.  Well, we get dressed and as we're sitting in the chapel the temple president walks in and says, "My objective in you coming to the temple today is to remind you of the person that you truly are."  My heart started pounding and I instantly knew that Heavenly Father was answering my prayer.  The revelation that I received that day has changed my life forever.  I now know of the reality of God.  He is so real and so aware of each one of us.  I can feel it as I pray, my relationship with Him has changed forever and I'm so very grateful for that experience!

I should also talk about one of my all time favorite investigators: Jordan Perry.  So we met Jordan through Derrick and Chera (our recent converts) and Oh My Goodness.  I think she just might be one of the most prepared girls I have ever taught.  Just from last week to this one there is such an apparent change in her it blows me away.  During one of our lessons I was leaning over just kinda doing my thing and she said Sister Bowden... I look at over and say "yeah?" ... (still just kinda not thinking)... Well, I did what you asked me to do... I prayed about it.  All of the sudden I realized what was going on so I stop and look at her and ask, "Did you pray about being baptized?"  She smiled at me and said "Yes!"  She got her answer and she's ready to do it! AHHHH!!!  And the crowds go wild!!  I WAS DYING!  Is this not the exact moment that all our hard work goes towards?!  I think I started tearing up haha and just told her how much that decision was going to change her life.  How much that decision was also going to impact my life.  She's just incredible.  During our lessons the spirit tends to flow right through me to her.  I've never really experienced anything quite like it.  I love her very dearly and I'm counting down the days til her baptism on July 19:]  It will be great.

I've felt a little bit of weight with this whole STL thing going on.  We had a leadership meeting this week and during it one of the assistants says "a call to leadership is a call to have your weaknesses exposed."  Hahaha Oh well, if that isn't comforting I'm not really sure what is... I'm doing my very best to step up my game but man.. I was hoping to just coast on through til September.  Ironically enough this past week we came in contact with four promising Spanish speaking families.  We don't have any Spanish missionaries that cover our area cuz it's too hard on their miles​ so basically Sister Diaz and I have become a zebra companionship.  Haha I'm gonna have to talk to the new president about it but yes, I've been trying to pick up some espanol for my companions sake:]  It's tough, and there is no way that I'm gonna be fluent in 3 months but hey, it's a new challenge and i'll do what I can!

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE BIRTHDAY PACKAGE!! I absolutely loved the balloons!  Haha of course halfway through I realized that all of your guys' lips had been on them, but hey we're family right?  My birthday was a great one:]  I'm feelin 22!! and welp I still basically feel the same!

Heavenly Father has been so incredibly good to me.  He blesses me each and every day and I'm so grateful for the opportunities he has given me to strengthen my faith in Him.  I feel like I may be getting this missionary stuff figured out, it's just diligent effort.  I love my Savior, I love this gospel, and I'm so honored to have this time to strive and share that love with others!!


Love, Sister Bowden

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Week 61 - Ask God not GOOGLE!

​Well i can't believe that here we are again! Another week just slippin right by:] This past week was quite a challenging one, but i am very grateful for the things that i was able to learn throughout it!

Tuesday morning in the middle of personal study we got a little knock on the door. I went to answer it and it was one of our neighbors! He handed me a folded up piece of paper and said I've had some questions and I just wanted to get your thoughts on them, I ask him if we could come stop by sometime to discuss his questions and he says absolutely! I close the door open the paper and just thought... oh great... His questions were things like "Do you believe you'll have your own planet one day with your mormon family? and "Was Joseph Smith a mason?"  Just really lame questions that you know aren't because he's searching for truth... I feel like this was just a little heads up for the rest of the week.

One night we had some extra time on our hands so Sister Bonner wanted to try and contact a  potential investigator. We get to this house and he wasn't home but his mom wanted to talk to us. Turns out that she has spent months researching our faith, and man she has read A LOT of books and with that I mean a lot of anti-books.  I'm pretty sure she knew more about Joseph Smith's life than I did.  She was going off and it was mind blowing to me how much effort this lady had put in to proving that Joseph Smith was not a prophet.  I got the opportunity to bear my testimony to her on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and that it has only strengthened my faith in the Savior.  Sister Bonner then asked her if she had ever prayed about the things she had read and she hadn't!!! Through all her studying and searching not once did she get on her knees and ask God.  He is the one with all truth and yet she completely disregarded his thoughts on the subject.  My advice for everyone is to do as the scriptures indicate ASK OF GOD, not google. In the end it's His opinion that is going to count anyways.

This whole experience though had me thinking on the power of words. "By His word the world was created" and I know that by His word it could also be destroyed. We are His children so do you think that possibly we possess that same power?  "Death and Life are in the power of the tongue."  That's a pretty hefty scripture... I mention all of this because the things that that lady said potentially had the power to kill my faith and testimony.  She literally was out to destroy my beliefs.. I feel that all of us should be mindful of the words we use, and just be aware that they have the ability to give life and encourage or they can do the exact opposite.

As we were out driving around Martin Luther King Dr (aka the ghetto of our area) we saw a group of kids playing basketball! And some of them were members of our ward, we hopped out and decided to join in. We split up into teams and basically it was 2 pretty dang good black kids... and then me and Bonner.  One of them kept saying "Oh call me Kevin Durant! call me Kevin!!"  They thought they owned the place haha so Bonner looks at me and says "They must be humbled!"  Hahaha oh it was so great:]  We beat them. I BEAT KEVIN DURANT AT BASKETBALL!!  How sweet is that?  And the best part is that one of them ended up coming to church yesterday! SO sick:]

We had some incredible teaching moments this past week and I have really felt so grateful for the restoration in my life! The gospel is so good, yes we have some ups and downs in life but I know that we can find renewed strength and support from its teachings!

Oh sad news... Me and Bonner will no longer be companions:/  She is getting transferred tomorrow.  The killer B's are no more:/  I'm actually pretty bummer about it, we saw it coming but it still sucks.  The work that we have been able to accomplish this past transfer has been awesome!.. and i'm slightly concerned that I won't be able to keep that pace on my own.  Things will work out though right?  Ah the only constant in our lives is change. woof.

I hope that you guys have an incredible incredible week!! I love you all and miss you dearly!! Stay strong:]
Love, Sister Bowden

Week - 62 Its A State of Mind

Well hello hello my dear family:]
It's crazy to me to think how drastically my life can change all in a matter of days as a missionary. haha the only things that's constant is change.
Sooo... Transfers...
I was called to serve as a Sister Training Leader!! haha yay?  Ok . . . No actually I asked president to NOT put me as an STL.  I've been with Bonner for the past 3 months so trust me, i got a nice taste of what it's like.  I was hoping that i'd just be able to die out easy...  Haha looks like that's not the plan.  He's gonna squeeze every last ounce of energy and commitment that I have!!  When the assistants called Monday night to ask me if i'd be willing to do it my response was  "Is president feeling well? or are we just getting that desperate?"  Haha the assistants didn't really know how to respond but Ahhh!! There are soo many other sisters that i think should have been called! and I am completely content with not being in leadership, actually I would prefer to not be in leadership cuz then no one can have that high expectation of me!  But, such is life right! I figured ok if he's calling me to be STL then he HAS to give me a super great companion! . . . . 
I am now serving with Sister Suoamy Estafania Diaz Varela haha and if that isn't a mouthful I don't know what is! She is from Honduras (so yes she's learning english) and has been out on her mission for 7 months. She's got a bit of that latin fire in her and as I saw her name on the transfer paper next to mine I just thought... what is this world coming to?  Haha we get back to our apartment to do personal study and she says Sister... I must tell you something (in a thick Honduran accent) I say alrighty what's up?  She pulls out her white handbook starts waving it in the air and says I have heard plenty of you and I want you to know that we will be following this book for as long as we be companions.   I literally felt my blood start boiling under my skin (so.. really good first impression:])  It took everything I had to just nod my head and say "You're right sister Diaz."  Haha so you could definitely say that my stress level instantly went through the roof!!  We went to a couple lessons and it. was. almost. disastrous.  I'm not sure if it's just a Honduran thing . . . or maybe a language barrier.... but Sister Diaz is super blunt. kind of harshly blunt.  During our lessons some of our investigators would look at me with this "what-is-this-girl-talking-about" sorta look and I wanted to cry!

I have come to the conclusion that I literally can't control anything. Not. one. thing. EXCEPT, my attitude which for a couple days was definitely not the best. Yesterday in church though a guy gave a really good analogy on trusting in the lord. When you grow cotton all summer long you water it and nourish it and then right in the dead heat of summer, you deprive the plant of water.  Why?  Because if it keeps getting watered it will just grow big and green, it won't produce the fruit that it's designed too so you take the water from it for a few weeks, then wa-la you have the perfect cotton plant and you can return to watering it.  I think this applies to each one of our lives.  We can be going along doing what's right being nurtured and growing and WHAM!! we get flippin blindsided and for a couple weeks are struggling to understand what in the world is going on!!  But, I know that for us to fulfill our purposes on earth we have to be put in situations that don't always seem ideal.
I will keep trusting in the lord and try to understand what it is that Sister Diaz and I are supposed to accomplish together:]  The week did get better as time went on and I know that the transfer will get better as time goes on.  But yes, i miss Sister Bonner like you wouldn't believe!  I know that a lot of this will come down to me and my attitude.  What an incredible experience this will be to get to spend a couple months with a girl from Honduras, how neat is it to know that the gospel is the same throughout the world, and hey, I just might get a little bit better at my espanol:]

Things are just as busy as ever though, lots of investigators, lots of people to try and keep in contact with:]  I absolutely love it and feel so blessed to be serving in an area like Montgomery.  Heavenly Father has been so good to me and I just need to keep trusting in Him.

OH hey and can you even believe that I turn 22 in 2 days?!  Haha "Oh no, my eggs are dying!"  Crazy, crazy, I still feel the same.  Make sure to light off some sparklers in memorial of the birth of one of the greatest girls to ever walk the earth:]
I love you all and miss ya like crazy!! I hope you have an awesome week! You are in my thoughts and prayers:]
Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, June 9, 2014

Week 60 - OH Happy Day!

​Well hello there strangers:]

It's just been another blessed week here in Montgomery Texas and I just feel super grateful to be out in the heat serving the Lord:]
*drum roll*
CHERA HARBIN has been baptized!!! It was an absolutely incredible moment.  I got to stand there and watch her husband Derek baptize and just seeing how happy they both were just made the whole experience so worthwhile!  At the end of the program Chera had agree to sharing her testimony.  She goes up and says ,"I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to be saying up here"... and in my mind I'm thinking oh crap.. this is about to get buckwild... but then she continues to say ,"I know that this is where I'm supposed to be, I know that this church is true." BOOM! are you kidding me?  My cheeks were killing from smiling so much!  It was just such a good moment and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity that I had to be a part of it.  Chera is a prime example of the atonement.  To see the changes that have happened over the past 8 months is so incredible.  I know that anyone can change with the help of our savior.  Anyone.

I got to spend some time with my best friend Sista Combs again:]  Haha . . . I literally have never felt as close to someone as I do with her.  She is just simply my best friend and I can completely be myself around her. Haha . . . I can't even say how dang excited I am for the adventures that we will have once we get off our missions.  She is #1.

After church yesterday we had an incredible teaching moment.  Awhile back we were having dinner with one of our members and their inactive son had a bunch of friends outside having a bonfire, Sister Bonner had gone out there to share a scripture with them and la la la fast forward... one of those friends came to our ward activity this past Wednesday!  I was down in Conroe but Bonnie invited him to take the lessons.  We show up Sunday and we weren't too sure if he was actually going to be there BUT he was!!  As we went through the restoration (for the bazillionth time) there was an incredible spirit in the room.  We asked him, "Why do you think this message that we share would be significant in your life?"  His response:  "Well.. if it's true, that would mean a lot to my eternal well being."  NO WAY!  What 21-year-old guy even says things like that?  It was so smooth and just filled with the spirit.  We invited him to be baptized and he said yes, that if he found it to be true he would:]  OH HAPPY DAY:]  It's interesting to me though that regardless of how many times we may teach the restoration, each time it will go a little differently, each time I learn something new, and each time my faith in the Savior is strengthened.

Heavenly Father is literally SO good all the time.  We continually see his blessing being poured out in our work. I know that as we overcome our own personal fears the Lord will strengthen and bless us:]  While I have never been so tired in my whole life I truly am so grateful for the opportunity of "enduring to the end."  I can't even say how many times I think, "I should just sleep in today.. we should just take it easy."  But nope.  We don't have time for that.  The work that you do today could make all the difference in eternity:]  I know that that is true, it's what's keeping me going.

I love YOU ALL!  Hope this week is just so full of great things that you don't even know what to do:]

Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, June 2, 2014

Week 59 - No Greater Calling!

Well greetings to the coolest family in all the land!!

I hope this past week was an incredible one for all of you!  I just feel very overwhelmed with my heart full of gratitude today and I hope this letter can pick ya up and put a smile on your face:] 

There were some very incredible things that happened this past week, but for some reason I feel like talking about SOME of the investigators we have been focusing on lately, because  don't think I've talked enough about them and how great they all are!

So first and foremost we have Chera Harbin and she is getting baptized this Saturday!!! *fireworks* *guns shooting* *audience applause*  Haha I can't even begin to say how excited I am for her and the step that she is about to  take! It has been a long time coming and if anything, Chera has taught me that your circumstances are not what define you. She has come from a pretty rough background with drugs and prison, but regardless of all these things, Chera still has one of the most caring hearts.  I know that truly through Christ we can be cleansed and we can change ourselves.  While she has been a little stubborn, I know that the Lord has been preparing her for this time.  One of the best parts about the whole thing is that her husband Derrick (who got baptized in March) is going to be the one baptizing her.   This past week I got the incredible opportunity to go to the temple with Derrick for the first time. We went into the baptismal room and as Derrick entered the font my whole heart was just so happy!  As I sat there and watched him do baptisms the scripture entered my mind "greater love hath no man than this . . that a man lay down his life for his friend."  I am so grateful that I have been able to serve a mission.  While I may have made some sacrifices in order to do so, it was so worth it.  I would give it up all over again just so that I could sit and watch Derrick enter the temple.  It's the small, quiet moments like that that truly make your mission worthwhile.

Jade Walles! Another incredible woman who's husband has been inactive for quite some time.  She has been taught the missionary lessons multiple times and the one thing that stops her from being baptized is that she doesn't want to do it alone.  She wants her husband to be right there with her, willing to wake up and come to church.  She wants time with her family.  As me and Bonner were discussing what we could do to get them to church, we decided that clearly we needed to talk to Clint.   Haha the awkward moments never cease as a missionary.  As I called him up at work I don't even know what I said but it was so awkward and I basically told him "Hey... your wife really wants to do this so will you get your act together and come to church?"  He said some decent excuses and after I hung up, I just thought 'well that went awful.'  THE NEXT DAY he sent me the greatest text in all the land:]  Haha and yesterday they made it church!  I was so excited and I could tell that the bishop was too!  Good things are happening in Montgomery.

And yes we still have Marcus... He's coming along.. praying about when he should be baptized.  I think his struggle is just not wanting to lose his family by making this decision. I know though, that the Lord can do incredible things and He will provide a way for Marcus if he wants it.

OH! and Yessica Perez:] So a couple weeks ago Sister Niedert and I went knocking.  We knocked on a house and a young girl came to the door... she didn't look so hot.  She told us that she had been throwing up all day but that we could come back another time. Doesn't sound too promising, huh?  Well, she's actually been coming to church and reading and praying!  It was the last thing that I expected, but I think she just might get baptized at the end of this month:]

I am just so grateful.  So grateful to be serving a full time mission deep in the heart of Texas! It seems that I went from the Europe of Texas to the Mexico of Texas and I'm just trying to keep everybody on the right path.  At times I feel completely exhausted, I'll go to bed thinking there is no way that I'm getting up at 6:30 tomorrow.. but then the alarm goes off and once again my knees are hitting the floor.  I love this work.  It truly has changed my life for the better.  I love Heavenly Father and how willing He is to answer my prayers.  I hope that this week is one full of incredible experiences and that you'll find yourself saying an extra prayer or two!!


-Sister Bowden