Monday, July 28, 2014

Week 67 - His Eyes, My Heart!

Well hello hello my family:]

This past week has just been one full of great and challenging things!

After spending some time in the temple I got to go on exchanges with my girl Sister Laws again!  Ah, it was so so good and it felt incredible to be able to get out and just work!  As we went out to contact our 25 people it was incredible to see how easy it was to invite people when we were united.  I'm striving and praying to find a way to do that same thing with Diaz.  Things are getting better and I know that this next transfer will be one full of great things!

We took a member out this week and the night before I had said a little special prayer asking for this member to have a spiritual experience while she came out with us.  I really do want every member to have good experiences with us so that they feel that fire of missionary work.  Well, we got into our lesson and Stephanie was kinda not happy.  She started crying and said that she didn't want to get baptized into our church if she had to get married first la la la, thankfully the spirit was able to calm things down.  We got her back on board and as we left, I asked the member if she would say the closing prayer.  When she looked at me she had tears in her eyes so my first thought was man... maybe I shouldn't have asked her, but she said yes and we left. When we got into her car she told us that she has never felt the spirit so strong during a lesson.  In fact, the only time she has felt the spirit like that was while she has been in the temple.  AH! I was so so glad! I was so happy to know that Heavenly Father heard my prayer and gave this wonderful member exactly what I was hoping for! 

It was also very interesting this past week to feel the spirit completely working through me during some of our unplanned lessons.  In fact, I think that's when the spirit works best. 

We had the opportunity to teach a guy named Pedro. Pedro has had some really tough challenges lately and is a little lost.  He agreed to sit down and meet with us and when we asked, I really was expecting him to say no. But we sat down and I just started asking some questions, trying to understand his circumstances a little bit better and then just jumped into the plan of salvation!  It was SO sweet to be able to connect the things that he had shared with us to the truths that we know.  At the end, I was able to bear a really strong witness to him about the plan of salvation and ah it was the best feeling ever.  There is nothing that compares to feeling the spirit. Not one thing:] 

This past week has been one of a lot of reflection.  I really took the time to sit and think about the people that I am serving. Throughout the week I felt this little glimmer of how Heavenly Father probably sees each one of us.  While receiving this glimmer, I felt in my heart my love for each one of them grow.  I especially felt it for my companion.  While things have been challenging, I'm so grateful the Heavenly Father is able to change us from the inside out.  I know that people are always placed in our path for a reason.  Our circumstances do not determine our happiness, we do. 

I truly am so grateful for the gospel . . . I can't even say it enough.  I'm so grateful for our Savior who made ALL of this possible.  There is nothing that will ever bring as much happiness and light into my life as serving a mission has. 

I love you all and I hope you have an incredible week!!  You will be seeing me WAY TOO SOON!

Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 66 - Resisting No More


Well this week was definitely insane!! It proved to be one of the most challenging weeks of my mission so far, and i'll just leave it at that.

So since Sister Bonner has left, I have felt completely on my own.  I know I have a companion and yada yada yada, but in all seriousness I have felt so much weight on my shoulders to really strive to keep things up and going.  On Thursday we were doing our personal study when Sister Diaz says "Sister my side is hurting me."  I start asking her questions to figure out what's going on and she explains that she feels that her appendix is hurting.  I really didn't feel like anything drastic was happening so I tell her,  "Hey let's do our weekly planning and if you're still feeling sick, we'll call the mission doctor."  We finish up and she says that she is still in a lot of pain . . . Aahhh so somehow we end up in the emergency room for 4 hours. . . A nurse came up to me and was asking if I was with Sister Diaz and I say "Yep! So is anything wrong?"  The nurse responds . . . "Oh no she's completely fine."  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  Nothing, not one thing. not a fever, not a bump or bruise.  We literally just wasted the whole day . . .for nothing.  Great.

Friday we had interviews with our mission president and IT WAS SO GOOD!  I felt so pumped and inspired by him.  We talked about how happiness is a choice regardless of our circumstances and it was just a great little visit.  He told me to just give everything I have and to stop resisting the spirit:]  So afterwards we had exchanges and I was pretty stoked cuz I was feelin the spirit and I was ready to just get out there and give it everything.  We go finding all night and then the next morning all their appointments fell through . . . soooo it looks like it was tracting time:]  As we start heading out Sister Diaz calls me to tell me that our car has a flat tire and that she's not going to our lessons because their safety is in danger and that she will take the car to the shop.  I tell her that the car is fine, it's tire is low but I promise that she can still get some work done.  She disagrees and hangs up the phone, and I started feeling pretty ticked off.  I take Sister Andersen and we just start knocking away.  While we're out I got bit by freakin Toto!!  We were approaching a house and two little, yappy dogs start coming towards us.  Haha I didn't really think anything of it since I've come in contact with plenty of dogs but the dang thing totally bit my leg!  I was about to drop kick it across the yard when a girl came out and apologized and told us we could come back and share a message with her family:]  We keep knocking and as we're about to come up to another house a little lady comes out her front door.  She comes rampaging towards me and puts her finger right in front of my nose and yells "WE ARE ATHEIST HERE, WE DON'T BELIEVE IN GOD, WE DON'T BELIEVE IN JESUS, AND WE HATE YOU!"  I'm kinda in a state of shock not knowing what is going on and she keeps going, "I HATE PEOPLE LIKE YOU!  QUIT KNOCKING ON OUR DOORS!" My senses come about me and I finally just tell her, "Look lady I know that God is real.  I'm sorry if you're upset but we will not quit knocking on peoples doors.  There are people who are searching for truth and I have seen far too many miracles to stop now."  Haha well . . . that just fired her up even more and I probably should have just walked away but I couldn't!  We went back and forth for a minute until finally she picked up her dog and walked back into her house.  I was fuming.  I was so upset, but I kept trying to give myself a little pep talk to keep going.

We get to the church for Jordan's baptism and sweet, sweet Diaz texts us to say that they are still at the shop and will try to make it to the baptism...WHAT? you'll "TRY" to make it to the baptism?  Umm . . . This is our investigator here?!  I have no idea what she was thinking but man, it really took everything for me to keep it together! 

JORDAN PERRY did indeed get baptized, and it was incredible and I'm so so happy for her:]  She is awesome and I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for her.

We got home and I finally just let it all out. I told Diaz how disappointed I was in the way that she had been acting all week.  I told her that I wasn't going to waste anymore time . . . that these people are far too precious to just toss to the curb.  I told her that today she truly showed me how little she cared about missionary work and that I didn't trust her with our investigators or anything else. and . . . she gave me the silent treatment . . .AWESOME!

Finally on Sunday she broke down.  She told me how she was super unhappy here, that she didn't like being in Montgomery, that she didn't love these people or care about them.  She said that she really doesn't care that Jordan got baptized and none of it matters.  I was in shock. wait wait . . . You don't care?  Let me get this straight . . . You. don't. care?  Well then why the flip are we doing this?!  AHH. I have never been so frustrated in my whole life.  I'm sure that all the ward members know we're not getting along but seriously there is so little that I can do! I just keep praying that Heavenly Father will soften her heart, my heart, and provide a way for us to teach. 

I guess I should also just throw this out there . . . I will be coming home September 10:]  September 10, not a day earlier not a day later.  I will come home then.  I have one more transfer to just bust my little butt and give the Lord all that I have! 

I'm so grateful for all the challenges that I am facing and I know that things are going to work out! The gospel is so good and miracles are waiting just around the corner!

I hope you all have an incredible week and see how much Heavenly Father loves you!!

Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week 65 - Many Mighty Miracles!!

Well I'm not even sure where to start this bad boy off but man, let me just say how good the Lord is when you keep persevering:]
So at the beginning of this week we taught Jordan the law of chastity... and I had been praying for so long about this lesson because due to family situations, Jordan has moved in with her boyfriend Brian into Derrick and Chera's house.  As it says in PMG we are not allowed to baptize anyone who is living with someone of the opposite sex unless they are married... as I started explaining this to Jordan she caught on to what I was telling her.  Instantly she just started bawling and saying "So i can't get baptized??"  It broke my heart to see how disappointed she was.  I promised her that the Lord would provide a way for her to get baptized and that she can't let this ruin all the feelings and experiences that she had previously had.  It seemed like after we left all hell was breaking loose.  Jordan was super mad and upset, Brian said he didn't wanna be a mormon if she couldn't get baptized, Chera was gonna take her down to the flippin cowboy church where they'd baptize her on the spot.  It was a mess!!  We went home and I got on my knees and for who knows how long I just plead with the Lord to provide a way for this girl to be baptized on the 19th.  The next day we were leaving a lesson and Derrick calls us up and invites us over cuz he has something to show us.  My stomach dropped and I started thinking crap, he went online, he saw a bunch of anti garbage and now we're gonna lose Derrick as well.  We walk inside and he pulls up "The District" and there's an episode where a couple are living together and the guy is still able to get baptized because they are living with the parents.  Jordan comes bouncing in and says "LOOK I CAN GET BAPTIZED!"  I was a little hesitant so I say ok ok hold on, let me call our mission president and get his input and we'll see what we can do.  I called up President Mortenson, talked to him about the situation and he asked "Well Sister Bowden... Do you feel that Jordan is fully prepared to make and keep this covenant?"  Absolutely:]  He gave us the go ahead and now this Saturday Jordan Perry with be entering the waters of baptism!! It was one of the greatest things to see.  From one day of things just falling apart, to the next where the Lord put it back together.  I am very grateful that He answers our prayers at the right moment:]

We had a lot of incredible experiences this past week.. i guess i'll throw down a few.  We were out tracting for a power hour and weren't having much success at all.  The hour was over and I was starving so we started walking back to our car and as we were walking down a different road I looked at a house and just got the thought, try one more.  I turned to Diaz and say "Hey we gotta do one more door." Haha I thought she might punch me but I kept walking towards the house anyways.  We knock, and this little lady comes and answers, she let us right in!  We talked to her a little bit, taught the restoration and she said she would love to hear more! We're gonna follow up with her tomorrow and see how things go:]  So keep Josephine in your prayers, I know the Lord is softening her heart as we speak! As we walked out of her house and back to the car Diaz turned to me and said, "Sister Bowden I have something to share with you."  Haha I instantly start thinking oh great, let's whip out the list of reasons why I'm such a crappy person.... but she went on and started apologizing to me.  She said that she felt really bad for judging me and has been happier this past transfer than with any other companion!  Haha she said, "You are a very hard worker and i love that you're always smiling."  There can be miracles!! It's been a really humbling opportunity to see the spirit start uniting us.  I'm very grateful to see that people's views can be changed:]

Oh and Jeanine Scott!!  Ahh so awesome!  So we met this lady back on memorial day (i'm not sure if I have talked about her or not) but anyways we had a lesson with her this past week.  We get inside and I started stating our purpose as missionaries "...So eventually I want you to know Jeanine, that we will invite you to be baptized..." Jeanine says, "Oh well let me just tell you I'm a baptist, I've always been a baptist, and I'll probably die a baptist, I just think you girls are really sweet so i'm willing to listen"  Haha I was kinda intimidated by her response cuz she definitely threw it down with the baptist thing... but we just kept going with teaching her the restoration.  For the Joseph Smith part we had decided that we would put on the 20 min video, i put it on and didn't look at her the whole time.  I just sat in the corner and was praying PLEASE! Heavenly Father let her feel the spirit or something or this just might be a disaster! PLEASE! The movie ends and I still was feeling nervous to look over when all of the sudden I heard a little sniffle... I look over and Jeanine is just sobbing!  We sat there quietly for a moment and her first comment is "Ah dang it, now i'm probably gonna be a mormon!"  Haha i started laughing and said, "Well why do you feel that way Jeanine? "  And she goes on to say how for the longest time she felt exactly like Joseph Smith but that she had just buried those feelings and kept with the baptist church cuz that's all she knew.  "Now I'm gonna have to read this dang book!"  I'm so grateful for the truthfulness of our message, and that the when we push through our awkward moments that the spirit will start kicking in and do his part.  It was such a tender mercy from the Lord to go from "I'm baptist la la la!" to "I'm probably gonna end up a mormon!"

Things have still been challenging though, our ward mission leader is struggling with cancer so we've felt super disconnected from the ward.  At times I feel like there is so much on my shoulders and that I'm trying to keep tract of 39851936 people.   I'm just a 22 year old girl, Give me a break!!!  But every night I just get on my knees and pray for the strength and energy that will be required for the next day!

I know with my whole heart and soul that the message we share is true and holds so much value! It is one that can change our lives for the better. I've thought a lot the past week on conversion vs testimony and I absolutely feel like my mission has helped my conversion a million times over.  A testimony is a great knowledge and declaration of belief, but conversion, conversion is your testimony in action.  It's more of acting on the things you know to be true.  I have felt the spirit just burning in my heart the past week and it has a brought a whole new level of happiness to my life!  I will forever be grateful for the many challenges and successes that a mission brings.  

Love, Sister Bowden

Monday, July 7, 2014

Week 64 - I've Never Cared!

Well hey there familia!!

There went another week and man oh man, the mission life never ceases to amaze me!

We have a super wide variety of investigators right now! we could start with Jack Flannery who has met with missionaries on and off for over 20 years, or we talk about Stephanie Hernandez who is another miracle lady in my life! We were out tracting one day and naturally were not having a ton of success.  We started walking up a hill and I turned to Sister Diaz and said this next house we knock on will have a family searching for the gospel!  As we got closer a family walked out the front door and started getting in their car.  Haha I hurried and walked up to the mom and said Hey! I know you guys are leaving but we're missionaries and we have an incredible message about God and how families can be together forever.  She looked at me and said "Oh yeah, I've been looking for a church for us to go to... Can you guys come back later?" BOO YAH!! Stephanie is so awesome, things are going very well and I'm excited to see where the lessons take us:]  I know wholeheartedly that Heavenly Father does place people in our path. He is just way too good! After the first lesson I invited Stephanie to be baptized and she said "Ya know, ever since you guys came by I have been thinking that that's something that I need to do."  Haha are you kidding me?  She's awesome.
The 4th of July... hahaha well... none of the members here invited us over... and none of our investigators wanted to see us.... so ya know what we did... we tracted for 4 hours!!!!  Ah! Can I just tell you how worthless you feel after tracting for just 1 hour on a holiday... it. was. the. worst. but don't even worry, I got to light off some sparklers and do my firework thing:] so we ended the night on a good note thanks to the Harbin family:]

We got a new mission president and I really like him! I think he is going to do great things for our mission and I look forward to see how differently he does things! We had some training with him this past week and I was just totally immersed in the insights he was sharing. That's one thing that I've really enjoyed on my mission, just learning:]

Lately things have been pretty tough in the missionary life of Sister Bowden.  I feel a lot of pressure to keep things going like they were when Bonner was here... but it's just not working.  Things have been tough with my companion, but I really am striving to just keep working at it!  It's been a little frustrating and one night when we got home she said, "Sister.. you talk to much in our lessons..."  AH! THE ONLY REASON I TALK IS BECAUSE I CAN RELATE TO THESE PEOPLE!  Haha I feel like I'm just about at my rope's end, but I know that the Lord will always be there to give me a couple more inches.  I'm so so grateful for this challenge.  I have honestly never cared so much about other people.  I've never cared so much about the decisions that others make, and it has never hurt so badly to watch people make the wrong ones.  I've never cared whether or not people took the time to read their scriptures or come to church, but I know that it's the small daily decisions that can have lasting effects on our lives.  I've just never cared so much about anything.  I love missionary work.  I love these people and I would go to just about any length to get them to see and feel that love:]  I know the Lord is with us!

I love you all and hope that this week is one full of tender mercies from the Lord! Miss you all the days!!

Love, Sister Bowden