Leaps of Faith

I don’t exactly know where to begin. This week I had a series of profound experiences. I’ll try to relate them but first I will tell you of the goodness amongst our people! 

We had a lesson with Kham this week! She is the sweet woman from Laos. Our intention was to teach the Restoration, meaning God, dispensations, Christ, apostasy, Restoration, Book of Mormon, etc. With Kham we got through God. In about an hour. We’re going to have to take it slower with her but she is wonderful. When we feel the spirit like that in lessons we know we’re doing something right. And she came to church!!!!!! Teaching her is really exciting. There are many inactive people around here from Laos because they dissolved the Laos branch some time ago. It’s heart-breaking. We try  to visit – but they don’t speak english. In our opinion Kham is the key. And her brothers Mit and Chom. Anyway, she is wonderful and we’re meeting again this week. She calls us her “angels.” 

One of my favorite parts of church is the back row of old ladies. In one way or another they’re all widows, whether their husbands have passed away, or they’re not members, or they live in Texas or something. Sisters Anderson, Upchurch, Lee, and Doutre. My favorite people. We had dinner with them on Saturday night (because they hang out with each other) and they invited LYNN!!!!! So Lynn came and we were eating fried chicken and started having a conversation about the Book of Mormon. Each one of them testified of the Book of Mormon and what the loved and learned from it. Lynn mentioned that she’d been reading the Book of Mormon! Particularly, Mosiah 4 – which Sister Yorgason had recommended to her the week before at the concert. She said she read it over and over. Sister Upchurch told Lynn that she had an extra seat in her car for church and without missing a beat Lynn said that she would love to come!! And she did!!!!! We taught Gospel Principles again (because our mission leaders wife was potentially having a baby) and we chose to talk about faith. Lynn introduced herself and told what she had faith in! So exciting. We’re meeting with her this week!!! She says she’s ready for lessons again. We’re taking baby steps with her – it’s going to be great! 

Another hope-of-the-world story is Sister Baker. She is tall, beautiful African-American woman who has two insanely rambunctious boys. They were all baptized last summer. We went and visited with her this week just to see how she is doing. This week before she got to do baptisms for the dead!!! And her calling is to teach relief society!!! She is great. It is so inspiring to see someone who fully embraces the gospels and is eager to apply it to their life. Just in the short time I’ve known her she seems to have blossomed! It’s amazing. What I’ve learned from her is the need for constant prayer. Prayers of gratitude! Her commitment and devotion to the gospel is amazing. We just need to find her a righteous man and our work will be complete! 

And Joshua came to church! 
 

Ok. On to my life-changing revelations. A major blessing of the week was being able to attend the temple!!!!!!!!! St. Paul Minnesota Temple. I love that place. We got to go with our entire district! I saw Sister Clark at the temple!! One of our incredible ward missionaries from Cottage Grove! I also saw Sister Terry and Sister Shurtz!! It was like missionary day! It was soooooooooooooo good to just be there. I have a greater appreciation for like – everything – now.  But I went to the temple with a bundle of questions. I sat and prayed after the session for a long time because for some reason I didn’t feel good. Lately I’ve been feeling like maybe I’m not working hard enough or trying hard enough or something. Like no matter what I do I’m still incapable of this. I felt so great being in the temple but still not resolved. And now I know why. 

Two days after visiting the temple, right after studies, I broke down. It’s been a constant inner wrestle with myself. The whole time being here. I felt sick so I slept for a while. Something just wasn’t right and I could not sort it out. After I woke I had Sister Jenson sit there as I just talked to her. Just talked and she listened. And this is the remarkable part: after talking we sat in silence and the most beautiful feeling came into the room. It was like the scriptures say about being encircled by His love. We felt that. It was so strong and real. For both of us. We decided there were probably angels right there with us. At that moment I didn’t feel a super answer to my questions or anything but the overwhelming feeling of peace. Heavenly Father is so incredibly aware of us. Aware of me. Little me. After that Sister Jenson and I said a prayer and got back to work. Sister Clements had called but we didn’t get back to her until later that day. We should’ve gotten back to her sooner because she thought we were like dying or something. Pres and Sister Clements are still in Utah. But Sister Clements had been concerned and so she set up a meeting for me and President Ehlert. 

So the next day Sister Jenson and I drive to President Ehlert’s office and the whole time in my head I’m planning out what to say – all the reasons I need to stay on a mission. Apparently the Lord sometimes has other plans. After talking with President Ehlert for 3 hours (not kidding), and crying, and praying, and a priesthood blessing I KNOW that the Lord has plans for me. And they’re no longer here, or as a full-time missionary. 

It’s so strange. I thought that typing that sentence would break my heart, but I feel a quiet, constant peace. I’d said the words over and over throughout my life but it wasn’t until that moment with President Ehlert that I realized what it means to know that I am a daughter of God. I thought that my dearest desire was to be a missionary, so I was fiercely clinging to that even though it caused me a lot of pain and struggle. I then realized that my dearest desire is to serve the Lord. To serve Him. During that conversation I felt incredible. Heavenly Father is so smart. He knew that in some way He needed to get me and President Ehlert sitting in the same room together at that point in time. President Ehlert is ridiculously inspired. I can’t even share all of what was said and felt. At the beginning of the blessing I felt anxious, at the end I felt like I was on holy ground. I can honestly say I’ve never felt that way before. It was the most sacred experience maybe ever. We read Moses 1. What I know is that God has a great work for me to do. I don’t know what that is, and President Ehlert doesn’t know what that is. 

As we were talking we thought of a CES devotional be Elder Bednar. The one about knowing if you have the faith to be healed. Or the faith not to be healed. Do you have the faith that no matter where the Lord takes you it’s where you’re supposed to go? Do I have the faith to stay on my mission? Yes. Do I have that faith not to stay on my mission? Yes. If that’s the Lord’s plan, yes. It may not be what I want. However if it’s what the Lord wants then it’s what I want. he doesn’t want me to unnecessarily suffer. 

I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Or if it’s sunk in yet. But I know that it’s going to be ok. I have honestly learned and changed so much. President Ehlert told me that I am quick to observe. He told me that I have a great capacity to help people through my talents. He told me that when I accepted mortality that I knew what was coming with it. And that I would be ready for it. I’ve learned what I needed to learn here. I could write a book on what I’ve learned. Perhaps I will today, all we’re doing is like buying bananas and writing letters. 

So in conclusion, I’m a daughter of God and He’s got something He needs me to do. President Ehlert has been making phone calls. Talking to President Webb. Talking to Salt Lake. At this point I’m not sure what but I trust him with everything and he told me that he doesn’t want me to go home to nothing. I agree. My missionary work is not done. Whether it’s some type of service mission or something – I know not. But I’m excited! I feel good! It’s a little terrifying but good. Faith over fear, every day. 

I’m staying until at least that end of the transfer, which is next week. So, potentially, I’ll see you soon. We’ll all probably get more details soon. This is a big fat decision. I’ve made it. I can’t wait to tell you and show you all that I have learned!! Heavenly Father is so smart. And He loves me. I trust Him with everything. I like thinking about the Plan of Salvation and ponder and wonder think about what my small part in helping others back is. 

One thing that President Ehlert wanted to make sure was clear to me is that this is not a fail. That I am not a failure. I came here to serve, and serve I did. My world is kind of spinning around right now. This is kind of the definition of leap of faith. 
 

I love Minnesota. It will always be a part of me, and I highly doubt this is goodbye forever. Man, is this the most dramatic email ever?? It really is. I’ll end it shortly. 

I encourage to all go and read Moses 1. It’s amazing. 

Here’s some photos. On the way to the temple. 
Inline image 1

My beloved district at the St. Paul Minnesota Temple! 

Inline image 2
I love you all

Love, Sister Gessel
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March.

Greetings!

This week was quite funny. I don’t even know what happened.

So. I loathe winter. With every fiber of my being. Heavenly Father probably sent me here to humble the snot out of me. Literally. (haha just kidding – that’s gross)  But every time I start to feel agitated about the continued ice and temperatures I just remember that the elders are on bikes and that the pioneers had nothing. If the pioneers can go across the plains for Zion in such weather, then I can be in the cold for such a cause as this. I’m pretty sure everyone in this city is about to explode with cabin fever. Though there are many active people all the time, running and such around the frozen lakes. They all keep saying this is the worst winter in like decades. 

Anyway.

The Minnesota Mormon Chorale put on a concert at our church building this weekend!! It was beautiful. We went to it with some great ward members and LYNN! It was so awesome to hear her describe what the spirit felt like. That music was so powerful. They had a youth choir too that had a very nice spirit. We’re working on her coming to church – it will be great! 

Sad to say, Tanneh and Joshua’s lives are like a soap opera. They completely broke up this week. Crazy stuff. They’re still willing to meet with us – just separately. We’re having a hard time getting a hold of them but all will be well. We had a really hopeful lesson with Tanneh before all of that went down – she has a sincere testimony. 

We’ve been spending a lot of time with Sister Fisher this week – she’s an old, ill lady in the ward. We cleaned out her apartment. She almost accidentally throughout a box of all these old black and white photos! Luckily we saved them in time. Doing stuff like that is fun. 
 
We had zone training this week with President Ehlert! He is great. He’s more of the Holland type while President Clements is more of the Eyring variety. Both are wonderful – they’re just different. We got lot’s of great ideas especially about asking inspired questions!! It was awesome. Then after we met with all the Sisters in the zone and talked about creative things we can do in our wards. They encouraged us to get to know all the sisters and see what talents and skills they have that they can contribute. Many sisters don’t have the schedule to come out joint teaching with us – but can do other things like make a meal or write a letter. Some women in the ward have been very helpful with fellow shipping and being a great example to us and our investigators. 

I decided to start keeping a journal of the things I’m learning. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like we’re working so hard but nothing is really happening. By keeping this journal I hope to see that things really are happening! Even if it’s just things that I need to learn. From things like – “don’t leave anything (chapstick, water bottles, scriptures) in the car overnight or the next day it will be completely frozen” to what I learn from our investigators, members, and Sister Jenson about life. I’m excited. 

In other news – we got rear-ended this week. May I strongly suggest that everyone get a bike rack for their cars! Ours totally saved our bumper! A guy slid into us at a stop sign. Everyone was fine – it’s just slippery everywhere. 
 
It’s the funniest thing – I was having quite a rough time yesterday (I learned that I’m not supposed to fast with the medication I’m on…oops). And guess who we got a call from?? Sister Clements!!!!! All the way in Utah or wherever they are!! I’m pretty sure she has a radar for when I have bad days because that’s not the first time that’s happened. Talk about following promptings. That was pure affirmation that Heavenly Father really does care about me. And has a purpose for me to live in this frozen land.  She talked about how things don’t always go the way we want them to but we need to keep believing and trust in the Lord. Always. Despite the “interruptions.” That’s what she described her current situation as – just an interruption from which something good will come.  She related it to Mary and Joseph. In the beginning they probably thought they would get married and have a nice little family and live out their days in Bethlehem. But God had a bigger plan for them – even if at times it was more difficult. So it with us too. He answers prayers and He’s got a plan. This I know. 

I hope you all are doing well! Sounds busy and fun. Dad teaching kindergarten? What? Haha, whatever makes you guys happy I guess. 

Have a lovely week! 
Love, Kathryn

“In the midst of winter I found within myself an invincible summer.”

That’s for you, Dad. 

Crazy things this week! Our entire thursday was swallowed up in a blizzard. Minnesnowta. It’s ok, summer someday. 

Oh – want to hear something crazy? So something happened in the lives of Pres and Sister Clements and they had to go home for a few weeks!! President Ehlert is now our temporary mission president. Interesting eh? He sends out a lot of punny scripture texts and we haven’t been allowed to go outside too much because of the windchill and road conditions. 

Here’s a neat story: so getting back in with Tanneh and Joshua this week was a bit rough. It was like make it or break it. Joshua has been working like crazy. We stopped by on friday afternoon hoping to catch Tanneh and Joshua was there too!! They explained to us about how Joshua had lost the keys to their car and they had spent an hour or two in the snow looking for them. We gave a quick lesson and just caught up with them.  We asked Joshua if he would pray fervently to find the keys before it go too dark or cold out. He said a great prayer and then we went out in search of the keys! After about two minutes Sister Jenson found them and we all rejoiced! From the window Tanneh called down “you girls are awesome – I’m never canceling a lesson again!” We should’ve gotten that in writing now that I think about it. I’m sooo glad Heavenly Father took a simple moment like that and turned it into a teaching experience for them. And us too! We’d been praying for how to approach their whole situation and it all worked out! We’ve decided that the elders are going to teach Joshua with a man ward member once a week, while we teach Tanneh with a ward sister once a week, and then teach them all together once a week. Stratagem. And they came to church!!! Good. We’re also still trying to get a Book of Mormon in haitian creole for Joshua. Exciting stuff!  

 
A big emphasis in our lives right now is still searching out all the inactives and less-actives. It’s pretty neat because we get to find around them and such. It’s interesting to find these people and try to understand their stories and what they’re running from. We’ve got a list of like 20 names per week to go out and find. The ward missionaries try to find them on facebook and email. Missionary work prepares people to be detectives I’m fairly certain. 

I almost forgot! I went on exchanges with Sister Schwartz again this week! I love her! She came here to Cedar Lake.  We took Hannah out and found some new people! I realize how much I rely on Sister Jenson – especially making sure all our phone calls get made and such. I need to get better at the phone. Seems funny but true. Hahahaah – memories of me walking home from the train station in the summer are coming back to me because of my apathy towards my phone. Ah well. Life skills, so they say. 

Our district leader is super pumped about this upcoming week. It’s been building up all month – this is the week we are going to find like a billion new people. We’re really excited too! Things are looking up! 
 
Thanks for telling me all the news from home! Sounds like good things are happening! It’s fun to hear about! That’s awesome Dawson Hollow is going to have a baptism!! Do we have elders in the ward? Or elders in the stake? Or sisters??????? The work is hastening EVERYWHERE! 

Every other day we go to the Yorgason’s gym and read the Ensign on the treadmill. It’s funny but it gets us super pumped! 

Have a good week everybody!! Love you!

Love, Sister Gessel

Februevery!

Dearest everyone,

OH MY —– BEST NEWS EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Marissa Meline??????????????????????? Baptized!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just freaked out in a public library upon reading that!!!!!!!!!! Oh my goodness!!!!!!! I am so happy for her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That gives me hope for everything and everyone! How wonderful!! I’d love to hear more about her experiences!! Was she being taught by missionaries in Layton? Do we have sisters at home???

MORE GOOD NEWS: The wedding (and baptism) is on!!!! Tanneh and Joshua are for real getting married on Valentine’s Day!!!!!!!! Bishop is marrying them in the church and we are psyched! Tanneh has truly become humble and submissive and it’s been beautiful to see. Instead of having her dreams of a worldly wedding with fancy stuff and a flashy ring she realizes that what it important is her love for the Lord, for Joshua, and for their family. This is a big deal for her. A lot of her family is still in Africa and Joshua’s in Haiti – so this decision has been pretty emotional. They are faithful. I wish you could know her! She is the funniest person in the world. Joshua is great and has been faithful with his word of wisdom commitment. They are building an eternal family! And finally they all came to church together yesterday!! 

What more can be said? True love exists, everybody! 

This ward is getting pumped! People are realizing ways that they can serve – something as simple as giving our investigators an encouraging phone call or having them over for lunch. We had lunch with Katherine at SIs Yorgason’s this week – she opened up to us and it was really neat! 

There’s a less-active lady in our ward, Shannon, (she’s sooo cool!) who is a personal trainer – we got in with her this week and she revolutionized our lives. She says she likes to watch people change. That’s what we get to do as missionaries too – watch people change! From the very core. And being healthy is fun! 

Ben, you’d be happy to know we spent your birthday evening teaching our gangsta Mike in McDonald’s. It’s neat how even a place like that can be filled with the spirit when speaking of truth! He is open-hearted. How is it being SEVENTEEN? Sis Jenson’s sister turned 17 on the 8th! (you should be friends)

Sister Jenson is awesome! We were having a rough day, and I voiced randomly how much I desperately wanted a bagel. Then at lunch time she went way out of our way to find a shop that had bagels. Isn’t that super nice? 
 

We’ve been doing a lot of record-cleaning. This area is super transient and so there are sooo many people on our ward list that no one has any clue of who they are. Between us, the elders, ward missionaries, and Bishop, we have lot’s of ground to cover. But it’s exciting! And we get to find around them so it’s good!  Some lost-sheep wrangling. Soul-reaping. 

We ate pancakes last night with the elders quorum. Awesome people! 
 
Things are well! 
 
Anyway – I hope you all are great! Sounds like good happenings are abound at home! 

Love you all ! Love, kattyyyy

It’s Loppet-season!

Dear Familia, 

Greetings (still) from Cedar Lake! Guess what! Sister Jenson and I are staying here together for another transfer!!!!! Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We just found out this morn. I’m glad we’re both staying – we got a lot of work to do! 

Funny you should mention ice fishing on frozen lakes! That’s what people do here. And if the sun is out and it’s over 10 degrees people cross-country ski. Like everywhere. Like on sidewalks. There was a big Loppet this week. Wondering what a loppet is? It’s a big cross-country race that takes place on frozen lake Calhoun. Behold, the joys of Minnesota. 
 

Rough goings for Tanneh and Joshua this week! Crazy stuff. Currently Tanneh is a lot more committed than Joshua is and there has been a lot of contention between them. But worry not! And pray hard! They’ll be fine! We need to have the members be really involved with them and get them to keep keeping commandments. Or start keeping them. 

President Clements in his email today talked about being happy through adversity by continually keeping the commandments. He’s a wise man. Elder Holland toured this mission (before I got here sadly..) and Pres talked about a blessing he received from Elder Holland (can you imagine..?) about being happy even through hard times. I thought that was super neat! Being happy isn’t the absence of trials or problems. It’s keeping faith and keeping the commandments despite anything!

We had a really neat lesson with a lady named Amber this week. She’s been taught on and off in the past but it hasn’t really clicked for her and she hasn’t had the best of examples of LDS people in her life. We taught her the plan of salvation and the WHY of everything. For some reason it was so neat! We really connected with her and it was good. It’s always up to them to act on their faith and see if they will continue. 

Oh! Here’s something neat! Mike came to church!!! I don’t think I mentioned mike, yet. He has a collection of hats and shoes lining the walls of his apartment. He may or may not have been intoxicated the first time we met/taught him but we returned and had a good lesson with him! And he came to church!! I love this ward! We probably had the most interesting testimony meeting ever yesterday. Two investigators of the elders’ bore their testimonies, Cameron and Joe. Cameron basically had a written list of what he did and did not understand about the church, but it was pretty cool because he basically rebuked all the members for not inviting more people to church. He said “aren’t YOU grateful to be sitting here? Invite people!” This coming from a non-member. Then Joe shared about addictions and overcoming them through a “higher power.” I love this ward. It is made up of the most random people but I love them all. Our stake president and Pres Ehlert from the mission presidency were there too and they bore powerful testimonies. And Mike liked it! He also is interested in the playing church ball! We’re seeing him again on wednesday. 

An exciting event coming up: the 17 year celebration of the birth of my favorite brother BENJAMIN CLARK!!!!!!! I’m sending you the neatest things in the mail! I’ve been inspired by Sister Jenson – she’s very good at package sending. 

Good news! Today I’m getting my haircut! We’re probably going to go chill with Sis Yorgason. Maybe walk on a frozen lake or something too! 

Hope you all are well! Sounds like good things are happening! 
 
Love you! Love, Sis Gessel 

I thought I would take a picture of what life here actually looks like! This is
up in North Minneapolis.

Blue Sky And Blizzards

Hello everyone! 

I greet you warmly from the depths of a polar vortex. (For real what it’s called.)

This week was crazy! Very good stuff. 

Guess who’s getting married on Valentine’s Day 2014??? TANNEH and JOSHUA!!! To be followed by another stunning event – their baptism on FEB 22!!!!! YEAH! They are the most sincere I have ever seen them! We had an awesome lesson with them and Sis Yorgason (favorite person ever) on wednesday! Tanneh pretty much bore her testimony. She knows this is right and true. In the past she has been apprehensive and scared, feeling that she’s not yet ready. At church yesterday she spoke up in gospel principles about getting baptized. So awesome! Joshua wasn’t able to come and he has some past word of wisdom struggles but his commitment level is exciting! They are awesome! 

Sister Jenson and I have been going over to the Yorgason’s apartment in the morning to use their gym. Super nice of them! Elder and SIs Mathis bought everyone vitamin D pills. In district meeting on Wednesday Pres Ellert, of the mission presidency, came in and explained a new study their doing. He does a lot of health-related research. He gave everyone in our district this neat fitbit pedometer thing – basically to study how much physical activity missionaries in our mission get. Especially in winter. It’s pretty cool! Many of our elders are on bikes so that will prove interesting. Neat huh? Fitness and well-being all over the place! ( and Ma – Sis Yorgason is the one who works for doterra) 

A really neat thing that started this week is weekly community service! We get to volunteer at a food-shelf called STEP in St. Louis Park every week! It’s really fun! It’s basically like a bishop’s storehouse. We restock and help people bag their food. It’s a nice community effort and thus far has had a positive effect on our fellow-volunteers. I like it! And it’s INSIDE.  

We also volunteered at a soup-kitchen type place with some members, the Passey’s actually. Minneapolis – worst place to be homeless ever. But they serve a hot meal every week night and the people are very nice and appreciative. Fun stuff! Dad – it reminds me of what you said about serving at the homeless shelter at Christmas. I’m glad we have these opportunities! 

We had some good finding time this week. Hannah, a girl in our ward, is planning on going on a mission, so we took her out a lot. Give her the real-deal experience. Talking to crazy people all day. We try to get in apartments as much as we can – such funny experiences. You never know who you’re going to meet. We met some really sincere new people – two teenage girls I am pretty excited about! Leshay and Adrianna. Also a Tonda and a Todrianna. People’s names. 

Holly! A super neat less-active came to church yesterday and bore her testimony! She’s been in contact with this bishop and we met her a few days ago. It was kind of funny – we were trying to find her apt and got super lost. We asked this guy where the stairs were and he showed us the way. He led us all the way to her apt – turns out it was her husband! Super funny. And fate, timing, etc. They’re awesome and he’ll likely get baptized someday. 
 

Another development – Katherine had a girl’s night with a lot of the young fun people in the ward! That was awesome! We weren’t able to teach Nora and Alex this week – hopefully next week. Their mom is in kind of a rough spot right now. 

Tricia – she was baptized in December – like the week before I got here – she is so awesome!! We’re doing the new-member lessons and trying to get her home-teachers to do it. Yesterday we talked about patriarchal blessings and she got so excited!! Her husband is a member and has one, and she didn’t realize that she could get one too! They are the neatest couple in the world. Patriarchal blessings are amazing! I want to study mine more often. 
 

Things are good! I’ve been thinking a lot about that moment when Peter sees the Savior on the shore and jumps out of the boat to greet Him. (this thought was stirred by the talk(s) you sent me, Shell – thank you!!!!) When his eyes were on the Savior he could walk on water. It wasn’t until he looked down and began to fear, that he sunk. “Oh ye of little faith.” We need to keep our eyes on the Savior. Constantly. If we do we will not fear and we will not sink. We’ll be able to get to Him. I’m trying to change the way I’m thinking. 

I remember a talk someone gave once, and he expressed that he often didn’t feel very valuable or worth anything. It wasn’t until he started serving others that he realized that – even though he feels like he doesn’t have much to give – he could always be of service to someone else. And that’s valuable. 

I love you and hope all is well! 

Love, Sister Gessel

Dear Everybody

How’s it going? Welcome home from Hawaii. What up in the hood?

(you guys should ask me that – as I am actually in the hood)
 
This week was great! Happy Martin Luther King Day! The library is closed so we’re at Sis Speroni’s house. She’s showing us pics of her recent travels to Germany.
 
I don’t even know where to begin! Good things happened!
 
Went on exchanges with Sis Smaellie this week! It was great – I didn’t get as lost as last time. We tried to find some new people downtown. 
 
Tanneh came to church!!!!!!! I have such a testimony of revelation through church attendance! It was awesome!! A high council man spoke and answered a lot of her concerns about the Book of Mormon! It was great! And she basically fellowshipped herself – everyone loves her! It’s great! Someday we’ll get both Tanneh AND Joshua there at the same time! She spoke in relief society about how when she was being taught by the elders over the summer they laid out a blueprint for her life, and now with us, the house is being built! How neat is that? Love it! Gospel principles class is my favorite part of church. The man who teaches it tells us of his previous addict/homeless life and how much he has changed. Everyone has such different perspectives there. The lesson was on charity! 
 
Alex and Nora are doing well! On exchanges with Sis Smaellie this week we taught them the Plan of Salvation and drew pictures of each stage. It was super fun! The commitments we leave them are like memorizing articles and faith and stuff. Teaching kids! We ate dinner with them last night and they are opening up to us more and more. 
 
We visited an old lady in our ward a few times this week delivering food from the Relief Society. She is super nice and has crazy stories!
 
There’s an old man named Renner in our ward who is going through chemo right now despite his very fragile condition. We visited him and he was reading the Book of Mormon. He told us about when the missionaries came to him – super neat. We had a tender prayer with him – probably one of my favorite moments. 
 
Last night we went to a mission president’s fireside!!!!! Best thing ever!! Our investigator, Katherine, came! Four very recent converts spoke (one of them had been confirmed that very day) Their testimonies were so powerful and real. It was glorious! One man spoke about his road to conversion began when his drug-addict son’s life turned around completely when he joined the church. He said that only the power of God could make such a powerful change in his son. Katherine could really relate to that and it was awesome! Another guy spoke of how he referred himself on mormon.org because he wanted to know more from the very source – every missionary’s dream! 
 
One of the neatest parts was when Sis Clements was speaking she called all of us missionaries up on the stand (there were a lot of us present) and had us sing impromptu “We’ll Bring the World His Truth.” It was amazing! Such a beautiful moment to be caught in the middle of. Every person there felt the spirit. Undeniable. 
 
I feel so at home at church. There’s no other way I could leave home and family and friends without being so surrounded by the gospel. The gospel is home. No matter where I go I’ll always be able to find a member of the church willing to help. It’s amazing, it’s true, it’s real. 
 
Sister Clements shared the words of this song at the fireside and it was so neat! I thought I’d share the words – they’re very ponderable:
 
  1. My life is a gift; my life has a plan.
    My life has a purpose; in heav’n it began.
    My choice was to come to this lovely home on earth
    And seek for God’s light to direct me from birth.
    I will follow God’s plan for me,
    Holding fast to his word and his love.
    I will work, and I will pray;
    I will always walk in his way.
    Then I will be happy on earth
    And in my home above.
Good right?
 
This week we also had a very inspiring zone training from the zone leaders and President Clements! Lot’s of Pres + Sis Clements time this week! We talked about prayer and is was eye-opening! I had an interview with Pres and he said that my health and things will get better! Yay! I also got to see my bff’s Sis Shurtz and Sis Terry! Love these people! 
 
Good week! 
 
I love you all! I’m glad you had a good time in Hawaii! 
 
PEACE – sister Gessel ! 

WHY ARE YOU IN HAWAII.

I got a card from grandma the other week and it said something like “when your parents visit us” and I thought I just misunderstood. Since when are you going to Hawaii?????? What fun! Scatter some sunshine while you’re at it! Or mail me some! Just kidding – I have sunshine sufficient enough, it’s like a balmy 30 degrees or something. But say hello to my future home. And tell grandma and grandpa that I love them. They mentioned me in their Christmas Card!!!! I feel honored. 

Yes – we survived house arrest. On Monday we passed the mailman in our apartment and handed him a stack of letters each. Those letters were our only contact with the outside world that day. (By the way – freezing boiling water in midair is possible). It’s warmed up quite a bit and things are getting BETTER! We got to go to church yesterday!! Soooo good – and now people are finally back in town from Christmas break and things are rolling forward.

I feel really good. Like, for real, it’s almost strange! I believe it was because of the increased humility, faith, and prayers from all of you. Thank you. Another thing that has been helping is praying specifically before I go to sleep that I will have a peaceful, real sleep. It’s been helping a lot! 

We picked up A LOT of new people this week!! We had a really interesting referral named Janice. At our first meeting she pulled out a notebook full of questions – usually lessons like that don’t go to well, but it was awesome! We were able to teach the restoration and some plan of salvation just by her questions. Basically – she knows it’s true, but isn’t willing to change. Yet. She’s really interested in the Book of Mormon – I’d be surprised if she doesn’t read the whole thing in like a week. She’s a really interesting person, very smart. 

We were knocking in come neat apartments downtown and met a lady named Esther. She said she’s met missionaries before when she was in Ghana. That’s a good sign! I love it when people have previous missionary stories!! The Lord works in mysterious ways and it’s not a coincidence we showed up to her place. We have another time to meet with her next week and I’m excited! 

Working more with members has gotten better this week – we’ve been setting up fellowshipping plans and rides for everyone to church and activities and such. 

Tanneh and Joshua are doing pretty well! We’re a little nervous about their slow pace and sort of lack of commitment – but Joshua came to church! They want it – it’s just been hard to change. Joshua still has some word of wisdom issues and marriage – it’s a thing. 

We started teaching two children – Alex (9) and Nora (8). Their mom is a very sweet member and there dad is not – and they’re basically deciding if they want to get baptized. So we’re teaching them like they’re any other investigator. It’s fun! Simplify our lessons and we color pictures and stuff. 

Hopefully this week and keep getting even better! I’m truly grateful for what we have here and for all of you at home too! Oh – guess what?? I got a letter from none other than Allan Johnson last week!!!! He told me about when they lived in Ohio and worked with missionaries a lot! Very inspiring! It made me realize that we are blessing member’s lives too as we involve them in the work! Good stuff! 

 
I love you all and I’m doing so much better! Keep praying! In gratitude! 
 
Have fun in Hawaii and/or utah. 

love, sister gessel ! 

I LIVE IN SIBERIA.

Surprise! 

Emailing today – because we’re not ALLOWED to go outside on Monday. For real.  THEY CANCELED CHURCH. BECAUSE OF THE TEMPERATURE. Behold, Minnesota – the Siberia of America. I live here. 

Anyway. How are all of you? Good? Great? Better? Best? 

I’m good. 

It’s twenty-fourteen, after all. Good things to come! Any goals? Any life-changings? 

Tanneh and Joshua are doing well! We’re teaching our investigator’s roommate. I had a really good time on exchanges with Sis Shwartz — even though we got lost like 30 times. She is awesome. 

Oh – guess what??? I got your package! Christmas came! Thank you! I loved it all! And Shell – I thank you – that talk was super necessary yesterday. 
 

This morning I was reading 2 Nephi 4 – and Nephi knows exactly how I feel. He’s seen the Lord do such great things yet he cries out in anguish because his weaknesses and temptations easily beset him. Nevertheless, he knows who he puts his trust in. He knows ultimately that everything will be ok. He cries unto the Lord asking him to please clear the pathway for him and shake at the appearance of sin. Satan is super dumb – am I right? I’m done with him. I want to deny myself of all ungodliness, and be aware when Holy Ghost is speaking to me – urging me to get in a better state of mind. My patriarchal blessing tells me to “refuse to be negative.” OPTIMISM. 

All of this is hard. Humilty and submissiveness and trust is what’s up. Only then will things turn around. 

I got hope, everybody! Everything will be fine. Perhaps this is the process of change that C.S. Lewis speaks of: 

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace” 

Sometimes we need to be torn down, so Heavenly Father can create what He needs us to be. 

I love you all. I’m in need of some real good prayers right now. 

Love, Kathryn 

almost 2014 !

Greetings! I haven’t much time today, but I will tell you some good highlights:
 
– CHRISTMAS what fun!! Yes, Bishop Nielson and his fmaily are greeeat. We spent time with them and they told us of their lives. Talking with all of you was great!! So fun! I’m glad you all exist and are doing well!
 
-SIster Jenson’s Birthday was the 28th!! We had the funniest birthday dinner with the funniest old ladies! They all love her — I’ll have to send a pic. Twas a funny day.
 
-Good things happening with Joshua and Tanneh!! Baptism date: feb 8!! YAY! All they need to do is get married, and quit smoking, and drinking, and…   It’ll be good!! THis is their time!!
 
-Spoke in sacrament meeting yesterday. Our ward consisted of about 15 people in the beginning. Funny things! We all spoke of goal setting and the new year – it’s going to be good.
 
-Glad to hear you are well! Bowling on the 26 tradtition was good? NIce. Duck dynasty, mathcing pants, missy, – man good stuff.
 
-Currently I’m on exchanges with Sis Shcwartz here in Cedar Lake. Good thing I know my are so well… not. It’s ok – learning experience am I right?
 
-We got some people to find!!!!!!!!!! Work to do.
 
Good things to come.
 
I love you all – Thanks for everything!
 
Love, sister gessel