Monday, January 26, 2015

Abby's first baptism!

Email from December 8, 2014

R baptism was amazing!! She was so happy that day and there was so much joy in the room. It was amazing that we were able to watch her enter the waters of baptism. She changed herself to be able to join the church. It is the people who sacrifice so much that are the truly prepared ones. I knew when we found her that she was prepared but it was so surreal that she actually go baptized! I was so happy that day and I was so excited for her. Someone that I truly love was able to make covenants with our Father in Heaven to always remember Him and His Son. It was amazing to see her husband get to baptize her. Her husband's brother, who is from Boise (yay!) had to help because her husband has back problems and so they weren't sure if he could bring her back up. They didn't want her to drown. The service was really awesome. Brother Currier, the second counselor in the bishopric, gave the talk on baptism. It was really awesome too. He was baptized a little over five years ago so he is a pretty recent convert himself. Then we had a musical number by Elder Garbero, who has an incredible voice. He sang "When I Am Baptized." It was so, so good. He is serving in the Echo ward, which is the Spanish ward in the Fresno stake. then Bishop Green, the bishop in the Fresno 5th ward who fellowshipped them, gave the talk on the Holy Ghost. He has known them for years. He talked about their goal should now be the temple. It was a really good talk. After that, Sister Lunddahl and I read Footprints, the poem about the man who was walking along the beach. It is her favorite so we wanted to surprise her. Bishop Lawrence then welcomed her into the ward and we had refreshments. It was so awesome and I am so happy that I was able to experience it with her.
This week, we didn't have a car for some of it. Sister Lunddahl doesn't have a bike so we couldn't ride bikes either. I was on exchanges on the first day. I was in a Spanish area so it was kind of scary compared to our area. We had dinner at this family's home though who is really great. She is a ward missionary. At the end of the dinner, she gave me a hug and said, in English, though she doesn't speak English that well, "I love you." It was so sweet and so heartfelt. It touched me more than I thought those words could. She was so sincere and she didn't even really know me. It was really cool to know that there are members of the church who will always take in missionaries wherever you are. We also got to teach a woman named Vicky. She spoke Spanish as well but I was able to bear my testimony in English and Sister Ramos translated for me. It was really cool to see how the spirit could work through me even though I didn't understand what she was saying. I was able to say what she needed to hear and that was awesome.
Wednesday we had zone conference. I got to see all of the elders I came out with again so that was nice. I talked to them and asked how they were doing. One of them is now a district leader and the other one is training! I'm so proud of them and the things they have been able to accomplish. I haven't seen my MTC companion for a few months now and I miss her but I know she's doing great up north even though I wish she was in Fresno with the rest of us. We had some really good trainings at our Christmas zone conference. Sister Clark told us about this football player who almost made a touchdown in a game but dropped the ball right before he hit the end zone because he thought he had passed it already. He was celebrating as was his team and didn't realize what the other team had already--that he didn't score. The other team took the ball and ran all the way down the field to then score a touchdown. (I'm pretty sure I used the right terms there.) She then told us that we shouldn't be like the player who dropped the ball right before the finish line. We have a baptismal goal of 1000 this year and we are almost there. She told us that we shouldn't drop the ball before we got there. We need to keep going until the very end, even though there isn't much time left. We also had a gift exchange. I got a whole bunch of Canadian stuff because the elder who brought it is from Canada. There was also a choir and Sister Lunddahl and I were roped into singing in it because we were there Monday for exchanges. I don't sing but it was fun anyway. I had to stand in the center like right behind the pulpit. It was scary.
On Thursday, Sister Lunddahl and I gave a training in district meeting on companionship unity. It was actually pretty good, I think. We wore cute little headbands with Christmas hats attached to show our unity. We explained what it means to be united and how we can all be more united. It was really cool but it was also kind of sad since we won't be companions for long. I'm so glad that we were able to do it though. We had fun planning it! We got our car back that day too and Ronda's baptismal interview was there. It was a really great day.

Melanie and Kurt took us to see what they call Candy Cane Lane. It is a neighborhood who goes all out for Christmas. They had so many cool lights and it was a lot of fun! We didn't get to see the Christmas devotional because we couldn't get an investigator there. I'm kind of sad but we were being obedient and that's what matters. We did get to see a couple other families instead who Sister Lunddahl wanted to see before she goes back to Temple Square (which isn't until Wednesday--I still have two more days with her!). It was sad to watch her say good bye. She bore her testimony in church and made me cry. It was sad.

There is a man in our ward who had a heart attack. they don't think he will last through the surgery he has to have done. I love this couple-- they are the sweetest. He gives us cookie every time we go over there and she is a sweetheart. She likes to talk and she loves us. Pray for them please? I don't know if he'll make it but pray that he will have a painless passing if he isn't going to make it.

I'm excited to see what I get from DC! I want to go. Can we go when I get home?? Just kidding! Sort of. I want to one day though. And Denmark! to see Sister Lunddahl! It'd be fun!
I love being here and I'm so grateful for the opportunity I have to be here. I love this gospel with all my heart and I'm grateful I can share it. I love you and I hope all is well at home.
Always <3,
Sister Abigail Reese
PS Am I allowed to open the gifts in the package I got? I thought I was supposed to wait until Christmas?
I'm doing awesome! This week was kind of difficult to begin with because we didn't have a car for three and a half days. I don't know if I mentioned that was happening. But that was super stressful on us because our area is huge and most people who can help us out work during the day. Plus, Sister Lunddahl doesn't have a bike so we couldn't bike. We figured it out though, despite all that. We went on exchanges after we dropped the car off on Monday (since it wasn't our preparation day). I was in a Spanish area with our sister training leader, Sister Ramos. It was scary! Of course, I am in a super rich area so it was a little different than our area of town. But it was really awesome to see how humble the people are. I'm grateful that I was able to be there for a little while. I didn't understand anything that was going on but the spirit spoke through me anyway. I was able to share my testimony (via Sister Ramos) with one of their investigators. She is struggling with a lot of different things but it was really awesome to see how, even though I couldn't understand what she was saying, the Spirit was able to speak to me and tell me what she needed to hear. I never realized how powerful it was until that moment. We also ate with a Spanish family. they fed me a ton of food and I didn't think I could eat it. I ate most of it though so that was cool! At the end of the visit, the woman gave me a hug and then said, in English, "I love you." It touched my heart that with the few things that she was able to say in English, she said that. I was a new sister that came to her home to eat and she had such charity for me, a representative of our Savior. I'm grateful for that experience.
As I told you we went to the temple on Tuesday. I love going to the temple. It is one of my favorite things. I won't take for granted temples when I get home. I am super excited for the Meridian temple though! R sister-in-law, who came down from Meridian (yea!) for her baptism, told me that in the Meridian temple we were going to have to bring our own names and they wouldn't provide any for us. I think that's great! Even though I'm terrible at family history and I don't know really how to do it, it's awesome that we are going to need to find our family names to help them.
Wednesday was zone conference and I loved it. It was our Christmas zone conference so that was a lot of fun. President Clark talked about new rules which really should be common sense anyway and rules that we already knew. And then the assistants, Elder Bettinger and Elder Cook, gave a really good training on focusing more fully on the work that we are doing. It helped me to see what I needed to change to be a better representative of my Savior. Sister Clark also gave a training on not dropping the ball right before the finish line. Our baptismal goal this year is 1000 and we are so, so close! She gave a training on not dropping the ball. She told us about this football game and how this player ran to the end zone and thought he was across the line. He dropped the ball like a few yards from the end zone and celebrated. He didn't realize--nor did his team--that he didn't score. the other team picked up the ball and ran the full field to the end zone. She told us not to be like that player and to keep going until the very end. It helped me a lot.
We saw R a few times this week since it was her baptism week. We helped her decorate her Christmas tree. I love it! It's Disney themed. I thought I didn't have my camera so I didn't get pictures but Sister Lunddahl did so I'll have her email them to me. When I come home next year, I think we should put a tree. I know you don't like to because we aren't home for Christmas but it's so much fun! I can't wait until I can decorate my Christmas tree with all the ornaments you got for me!
Thursday we got our car back. I was really excited but we didn't really get anything done that day. Well, that's not true. We met with a less active member who is struggling and we were also able to see another less active member. We were on a team up with Sister Gonzalez, a Hispanic woman. We went to see the less active family and they are Spanish too! They clicked really well. It was awesome to see the Lord working through his members.
Saturday was the best day this week! We had R's baptism! It was the most amazing day ever. It was full of joy and happiness. It was really awesome because our whole district was there! One of the elders in our district played the piano for us. He is amazing. Our whole district is great. I love these missionaries so much. I never knew how much I could until I got's weird! But anyway, a member of the bishopric gave the talk on baptism and it was a really good talk. He used a scripture from Psalms chapter 103, verse 12 (I think). It was really awesome. From there came the baptism! Sister Lunddahl and I got to stand backstage, on the stairs leading to the water, to watch it. It was so amazing and I was grateful for the experience! It made me so happy to watch someone I've come to love with all my heart enter the waters of baptism and make that covenant with our Heavenly Father. Her husband was able to baptize her so that was really cool. Then we heard a talk on the Holy Ghost by Bishop Green, the bishop that had been fellowshipping them for a long time. It was really good too. Sister Lunddahl and I read the Footprints poem before Bishop Lawrence welcomed her into the ward. It was really great. We had such an awesome day!
People are starting to say good-bye to Sister Lunddahl and it is really sad. I don't want her to go but I know the Lord has a plan for her. She will be training a new missionary! I'm so proud of her! She's nervous but I know she will do great. She helped me through so much and I know she will help her new companion through everything too.
I do remember every day that as long as I do my best, the Lord will approve what I am doing. We touch more lives than we realize and I'm grateful for that knowledge.

I haven't gotten that homesick lately. It's great!
I hope you are doing great and remembering Christ. He is the center of this Christmas season and I'm so grateful for Him and everything He has done for me. I know this Gospel is real and true and that Christ suffered for us. I love you and hope you have a wonderful week!
Always <3,
Sister Abigail Reese
PS When would be the best time to Skype?

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