Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 Dec 29 letter

Spent all week staying at the Graham's house.  We had a wonderful Christmas with them and a "spiritual one" they said.  On the 23rd and the 24th we handed out over 100 He Is The Gift cards. We were on fire and handing them out everywhere we could.  We felt pretty successful and got to meet a few awesome people to check up on later and maybe teach.  Including Clara, who loves BYU Cougars and watches BYU TV all the time even though she is not familiar with the Mormon church.  Can't wait to go and try to teach her.  Occasionally you'll knock on someone's door who like watching BYU TV for some reason.  It's kind of funny, but also a miracle.   

Christmas Day we got to sleep in until 8 am!  BEST DAY OF THE YEAR FOR MISSIONARIES!  Overall, Christmas as a Missionary is the best kind of Christmas there is. Then we opened presents with the Graham's on the living room floor.  The Graham's were even sweet enough to give us stockings stuffed with candy! Yummy!  I really appreciated all that they had done for us.  Then we had a huge breakfast with cinnamon rolls, eggs, bacon, hash browns and biscuits. Talked with our families on the Graham's iPhones. Played scrabble with Taylor (she's in High school) and Sister Graham for a few hours, watched 17 miracles, had dinner over at the Butler's, then came back to the Graham's house and watched Ephraim's Rescue until after 10.  It was a jam packed day but it was really fun.  Anyone who is reading this that sent me a Christmas package or letter, thank you!  I really appreciated that kind gesture and it made my Christmas a good one.

We were also able to teach Shelly twice this past week and she is starting to open up to us more and more.  We really love teaching her and becoming her friends.  She is super sweet and she has the cutest baby girls I have ever seen.  I can't wait to see her learn and grow and find a better life and a happier one too.  And I am grateful that I am blessed to have met her and get to help her at this pivotal point in her life.  She is glowing.

The Saitos (incredible member Marshallese family) had all the missionaries over to their house Saturday for a big lunch and we had a lot of fun there.  Brother Saito is the most kind and selfless man I have met in Dubuque.  He had chopped up for all 6 of us the most tasty, pretty salad bowls and then we not only have the best homemade fried chicken, but we have white rice, fried rice, potato salad, fried potato wedges, steak, Hawaiian rolls, chocolate chocolate-chip muffins, chocolate chip cookies, three different kinds of juice to choose from and a few other things I left out of the list.  So grateful for their kindness.

Really praying that I get to stay in Dubuque for the rest of my mission. I want to see Sister Roberts off to her home in Utah at the end of February and then pass off the area before I head home as well.  My New Year's wish. 

Happy New Year!
Sister Robertson


 

Monday, December 22, 2014

PICTURES!!

December 17th in Dubuque --from the online newspaper ...

A drive by shot of a neat restaurant in Bellevue, Iowa next to the Mississippi River.

A picture of what ski resorts look like in places where there are no mountains. It's kind of fuzzy, but you can still get an idea from it. It's like a bunny hill next to the river.

Brother Pellet with his accordion at the Ward Christmas breakfast.
My companion, Sister Roberts, and our friend Leah at the Ward Christmas breakfast.

A missionary selfie in the car ready to go knock on some doors because you never get to see pictures of me at work.


Our District Christmas pictures (it didn't turn out too great).
Our bathroom I just cleaned up this morning with the Nativity stickers Mom sent me on it. (Nativities are a family tradition)


This is what the Reynold's house is like at Christmas. This is where the sister missionaries live --that means me!

2014 Dec 22nd letter from Dubuque, Iowa

MERRY CHRISTMAS!  

We had a really busy week between the normal work in Dubuque and meetings and exchanges over down in Clinton, Iowa.  To Start off I have the neatest story from going on exchanges with Sister Harmon in Clinton and I have been waiting all week to write it to you:  

We went to go see a war veteran named Paul with one of the Clinton ward members.  He was a very old and humble man in very low-income circumstances.  Not who you would expect to see Sister Missionaries teaching. We were able to review over the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with him over an hour and Sister Harmon extended a baptism invitation to Paul.  I was getting a little restless because of the late hour and being really hungry.  I felt myself kind of wishing the lesson would end so we could get out of there when Paul started mumbling, "this girl... she gave me something before she moved to Utah before thanksgiving."  Paul bent over and reached under his bed and pulled out a leather bound Quad.  Me and Sister Harmon dropped our jaws and just stared at him completely Astonished.  And when we recovered from this our Astonishment we closed the lesson and were able to go in for the night.  We were not expecting this nearly homeless man to pull out the scriptures of the the Restored Gospel out from under his bed.  It was one of the miracles from this week. I can't stop telling people about it because it blows my mind.   So maybe a word of advice.  If you are a member of the church and you want God to send missionaries to someone you know.  Hide a Quad under their bed.  Maybe that just might work. 

Sister Roberts and I set a baptism date with our new investigator named Shelly this past Friday. She wasn't able to make it to church but we have high hopes for her this next Sunday.  She asked "oh yeah! What do I need to do to be ready?"  I am so grateful we found her and I hope we will be able to help her reach Baptism either by or before February 14th. 

Also, Sister Swift finally made it to Sacrament meeting for the first time since I have been serving in Dubuque (since August 1st).  She has a lot of pain and health problems because of old age, but seeing her try her hardest to be at church yesterday was a great act of courage for her and I am so proud of her. 

Both Dubuque Wards put on a Christmas breakfast party Saturday morning.  Br. Pellet played Christmas Carols with his Accordion and a bunch of different groups of members did really fun skits and songs and also the Marshallese people sang some beautiful Marshall Island Christmas songs for us.  Sometimes they sing God Be With You Till We Meet Again at farewell parties and you about cry cause you picture yourself as the Elder in the movie The Other Side of Heaven as he's leaving the Island.  Sorry, that visual was a little silly, but very accurate.  

Today we are packing up our stuff and cleaning our room and doing loads of laundry in order to move over to the Graham's house later tonight.  The Reynold's have too many family members visiting for the next week so we are getting out of their way.  You can still send mail over to the same address though because we'll be back there throughout the week. 

So far we have two or three thanksgiving style Christmas Dinners we are going to between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  It's only Monday and we're getting a ham and sweet potato dinner tonight too.  So if i look a bit fluffy in my Christmas pictures, this is why. lol!  If any of you have seen Jim Carey's The Grinch movie, picture the seen where he is Cheer Meister and they're piling spoons of food in his Mouth, this is Dubuque at Christmas time.  Not exaggerating. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas with friends and family.
Don't forget what this season means and who we worship, our Savior Jesus Christ. 
The Gift that thieves cannot break through and steal and which moth and rust cannot corrupt. 

LOVE,
Sister Robertson

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

2014 Dec 15th from Dubuque, Iowa

The mission starts to get weird when you're now on email basis with a bunch of your companions who aren't missionaries anymore.  Almost two weeks ago my trainer, Sister Despain, and one of my best friends on the mission, Sister Woodbury, both left their missions and went back to real life again.  They've been telling me how weird it feels to not be a missionary anymore.  I'm definitely not looking forward to that point.  Glad I have at least 3 and a half months left and I hope it goes by slower than the last 15 months!  Sister Woodbury even went to Germany which is not technically her original home.  She just sent me pictures of cool German castles.

This past week we found a new investigator named Shelly who was living at the same address as one of our former potential investigators a few months ago.  A young mom of two of the cutest little girls I've ever seen.  When we talked to her she said it was weird we stopped by because she was thinking about God earlier that day and had a lot of question about life, death and what happens to us after.  I know that God sent us to her door that day.  When we taught her the Restoration lesson on Thursday and read the account of the first vision of Joseph Smith we asked her if she thought it could really happen and she said "Oh Yeah!" We then asked her if she had any questions for us about it and she just said "I don't know, I'm just mind blown right now! I've never heard this before!"  We are praying that we can still meet with her and teach her more about the plan of Salvation and invite her to baptism.  We haven't had a progressing investigator to teach in the longest time and we are both really excited for Shelly.  It's hard to find people living in Dubuque who care to listen to our message. 

On Friday this past week, we drove all the way to Nauvoo for our Christmas Zone Conference meeting at the Stake Center there.  We woke up at 3, left by 4 am from Dubuque, met up with the Clinton sisters an hour and a half away by 5:30 and drove from there to Nauvoo by 9 am.  The meeting went until around 5 pm and then we repeated the drive back home and got home close to 10.  We were both really exhausted!  But it was a good day.  Spent the drives singing Christmas songs and other songs we liked before the mission and talking about whatever.  At Zone Conference we heard some good talks from our leaders, we were then fed the equivalent of a Thanksgiving Dinner for our Lunch with fancy place settings, then we had all the Districts do their skits on the stage, followed by a showing of Ephraim's Rescue at the end of the day. The skits were all very clever.  Ours involved the Brother of Jared barges and what that would have been like, including the smell inside, stow-away "Gentile friends"- the Marshallese Elders, and one of the Elders had an Elk, goose and a duck call that he used throughout for the animals.  It ended up being really funny.  Just a time for younger missionaries to goof around and laugh and not have to work.  

Saturday night both Dubuque wards put on the Christmas Cantata show for members and non-members.  There weren't as many non-members as we hoped would come that we invited, but that's usually how church events go anyways.  The choir and orchestra did really well and the Hart family was a live nativity set up during the refreshments.  They did a really great job setting it all up.

I can't believe Christmas is in almost a week or so.  Then I realize that I spent the entire year of 2014 in Iowa on my mission and it's kind of weird.  It doesn't feel like it has been an entire year. Maybe 6 months tops.  Time really flies by on the mission.  Sister Roberts has about 9 weeks left and once she goes home I only have 6 weeks left!  Scary!
If you haven't heard of the HUGE Initiative going on right now in the Church go to:
Mormon.org/Christmas and watch "HE IS THE GIFT."  This is a big missionary effort and it's large scale including an ad that has a month long residence on the mega-tron on Time Square in New York City and ads on YouTube.  Please share this link with everyone you know, especially people who do not know about the restored Gospel!  Refer them to missionaries! It will only be available for a short time.

I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas and being able to spend this time of year enjoying yourself and being around good friends and good people.  Remember to express your gratitude for the Savior Jesus Christ as well as for all the people in your life who have been there for you.  
Merry CHRISTmas!

Love,
Sister Robertson

p.s. AND if you go to the store and the food or item you want to buy specifically have two different visual options to pick from: (1) Happy Holidays, or (2) Merry Christmas. LOL!  Please pick the Merry Christmas one!  I can't stand Happy Holidays.  Ridikilus!  I was at Aldi's today getting groceries and each brand of Christmas chocolates had two different packaging so people could pick if theirs had Christ on it or not.  So Silly. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

2014 Dec 8 letter from Dubuque, Iowa

I'm excited about this week.  On Friday we get to drive 3.5 hours down to Nauvoo for our Zone Conference meeting.  We'll have pictures, lunch provided, skits on the stage, sit down and watch a movie as well as listening to some advice and counsel from our leaders.  It will be a whole day event and i'm excited to so Nauvoo again.  It's farther away now that i'm in Dubuque so I can't see it as often anymore. The next time I will get to go after Friday is my departing temple trip a week before I get released as a missionary in April.  Me and Sister Roberts are already excited for our road trip and picked out snacks to bring for the car ride already.  That's how much we love each other.
 
This past week we had another Marshallese party as a farewell to Ronnie who just got home from a mission this past summer and is headed to UVU for school.  I love the culture the Marshallese have of showing their respect and appreciation for people in their lives.  They go all out on the food and invite tons of people just for one person and sing them goodbye songs (Marshallese songs "Goodbye so long" and "God be with you till we meet again" etc.) and throw money at them.  Watching it makes you tear up because it is a very special thing.  Whenever a missionary gets transferred they throw one of these parties for them as well. 
 
We got to watch the Christmas Devotional at the church Sunday night.  The one thing that stood out to me (and some of my thoughts):  We all have to descend below "some things" in order for us to learn and grow and understand a little what it was like for Christ Himself to "descend below ALL things."  The gift being that because of what Christ did we only have to suffer a little compared to what it could've been.  No matter what you're going through Christ has true empathy for you and it was way worse for Him than for you.  It could've been way worse for us than for Christ if He wasn't there to save us.  I am grateful beyond comprehension for what He has done. He has freed us from the chains of death, physically and spiritual, allowing us to overcome ALL things because he descended below them ALL.  True freedom comes from living the restored Gospel, not doing whatever you feel like doing.
 
This past week was really good.  Still haven't been able to find new people to teach for a while, but the Spirit keeps leading us to new roads and new places and it is bound to lead to someone soon.  I have perfect fatih in this.
 

Sister Robertson

Monday, December 1, 2014

2014 Dec 1 Thanksgiving Pictures from Dubuque, Iowa

Carter Reynolds, the little boy we live with, colored these pictures for school. So funny it could be an internet Meme. I had to share it. WINTER IS COMING!!

Add caption

My companion Sister Roberts and Melinda -a little Marshallese girl --on Thanksgiving.

Companions --"Roberts squared"--Melinda, Sis Roberts and SIster Robertson at Marshallese Thanksgiving celebration.

It looks like Sister Roberts killed the Reynold's cat, Rocky...just kidding. It just looks like it.

My favorite girl in Dubuque--Leah and her trumpet Bella at church yesterday getting ready for the Christmas Cantata practice. 

2014 Dec 1 from Dubuque, Iowa

This past week we got 4 Invite to Thanksgiving dinner.  Typical holiday life of a full-time missionary.  So many people are concerned we are sad and won't get enough food.  We end up getting too much food and gain a bunch of weight, but I still appreciate how loving and thoughtful they all are. We are definitely blessed in abundance!  
Two of our Thanksgiving invites fell through last minute so we didn't end up bursting at the seems that day.  We spent our main dinner with the Laethem family and played some card games after. Later that evening we went to the Marshallese Thanksgiving party at the church gym for a few hours.  We had a pretty good day and there was lots of snow and the sun was shining too.

Our recent convert Sheila hadn't been to church in pretty long time because she has been sick and her daughter finally had her baby girl last week.  We were so happy to see her at church yesterday.  She really had missed the peace from the Spirit that is at the meetings.  That was our miracle for the week.

We also had Exchanges with the Sisters from Clinton and we were able to meet a ton of people. Rephrase that:  We were able to meet a ton of die hard Catholic people.  Dubuque is mostly Catholic plus a Catholic High School and two different Bible colleges, a nunnery and a Seminary Catholic Castle.  It's pretty intense and so are the people.  Just have to keep finding more people until we find those who are ready to take a leap of faith.  Sometimes people we meet with have a lot of deep questions about God and this life, but they have zero faith to find out for themselves. They drown us with questions but don't have the patience to listen to our answers.  So they stay where it's comfortable and deny the justice of God.  If there is a God, He has His Doctrine, there is one way to Him and that is HIS, one church, and one baptism.  He is not a God of confusion. Men confuse themselves. 

At our District Meeting this last Friday the Spirit was really strong.  There are a lot of things that the missionaries in Dubuque have been struggling with and every week Elder Whiting, our District Leader, always delivers the message we all need to hear.  You know that the words of your Leaders are the words of God, when they speak and reveal the truth and it strikes you to the core and motivates you to make the necessary changes and repent.  I am grateful to have leaders in the Church and leaders on my mission that are so in tune with the Spirit and have such an incredible relationship with God.  Trusting God is to trust your priesthood leaders. 

Today we are all waiting for our transfer calls from the AP's.  We will probably get ours after 8:00 tonight.  If you get a call before 10 in the morning you will either be called to a leadership position or training a new missionary.  Glad we didn't get one of those.  President and Sister Jensen expressed how much they love the Sister Robs squared companionship so we are pretty sure we are staying together one more transfer in Dubuque. 

Thanks everyone for the Birthday wishes.  They really warmed my soul. :)
I really love you all, friends and family that support me and care about me.
I really appreciate it deeply. 

Sincerely,
Sister Robertson