Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Field is so White!

So many miracles this week!

Remember in my last email I talked about German and little German? Well they decided to get baptized! Last time they said that they wanted to and we planned on getting them ready for baptism by Oct. 28th. But the next time we taught them, we taught about Baptism and why we are baptized and the blessings that come from it. I asked him if he loved God, and he said yes. I explained that Heavenly Father has commanded us to be baptized, and we do it because we love Him. I told him that he is ready to be baptized and that he will be so blessed for it. German said that he wanted to be baptized this Wednesday. We were at a members house, and everyone was like really? You want to be baptized this Wednesday? He said yes! I am ready to leave the past in the past and to move forward and to be a better person and to follow Jesus Christ. He can't say much in English but so it was a little hard for him to explain, but he was so ready! He didn't only pick a date for baptism, but he moved it up as well! It was a super crazy next couple of days getting it all figured out. On Tuesday we had the baptismal interview and he was like an hour late, which made us super duper nervous! My companion started getting super stressed, but I kept reminding her that this is what the Lord wants for German and his son German and it is going to happen! It will all work out! And it did! They were both baptized and confirmed as members of the Church on Wednesday at 7am. Yes, a very very early baptism, but that is when he really wanted to do it. Sister Tibbits and I woke up at 5:15 so we had enough time to go fill up the font. We were soooo tired, but it was sooooo worth it! The spirit is so strong and it was such an amazing experience as a missionary! 

Because of this experience the bishop keeps calling me "the closer". Because German has been taught by Spanish missionaries for a while, it is crazy that these english sister's are the ones to finally get him to decide to be baptized. I think that is because it gave the Holy Ghost more of an opportunity to testify through feelings rather than focusing on the doctrine the missionaries are teaching.

This helped me grow my faith so much, I know that missionary work is so important and that there really are people out there who are searching and ready to receive the Gospel. Sometimes on a mission that can be easy to forget. Especially when you knock on a door, and you hear some people on the other side yell, "Who is it?" and you yell back, "The missionaries!" and then hear nothing. Silence. You knock a couple more times and they just pretend that they aren't home. Then it happens again and again. Then you start to get discouraged, and that is when God brings someone into your path who is prepared. 

Wednesday night Sister Tibbits and I were out tracting and went to a couple of houses and no one was interested and there was a lady out walking and kept telling us to go home because it was getting dark and it is unsafe out here at night and things like that. So we got in the car and started driving away when I got a strong feeling that we needed to go back. So we drove back and we went and knocked on a door, and started talking to this man who is practically Joseph Smith. He is searching for the true church. He had been to so many churches and thinks that they are all not true and was even a Jehovah Witness. He said that he has made so many mistakes but keeps trying to be better and get on the right path and stay there. You have no idea how excited I got! We taught him about the restoration and he said he has so many questions about why he is here and what his purpose is and we planned to meet with him again and I promised that we would be able to answer his questions. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he said that he wanted to read all of it. I know that this is the Lord's work. I know that he guides his missionaries to the people who need to be taught and who are ready and searching for the true church. I am so grateful that we followed the prompting to turn back and go to one more house.

There is another man that was on his porch one day and we went to talk to him and he just told us that he has read the whole bible and he decided that he does not like God. He said that he wrote God a letter and told him all about how He is a big jerk and why does He give children diseases and why people are so mean and why the world is becoming so bad. He went to a children's hospital once and said that it was the saddest thing and he hates God for it. It made me so sad to hear him say this! It made me so grateful for the knowledge that I have about the plan and about our purpose on Earth and our life after this Earth. He didn't let us get any words in really, he just talked forever about how he isn't sure if God is even there, and if He is there then He is a big jerk. I told him to imagine if no one got sick and everyone just lived perfect lives. What would be the point? There would be no happiness or joy. There has to be opposition in all things. I am really excited to go teach him again and help him create a relationship with God. 

There is also a recent convert we are working with. We are helping her stop her smoking habits. I asked her if she had any empty cigarette packs. She gave me one and I am decorating this empty cigarette pack with pictures of Jesus Christ. I am going to write little scriptures on paper and roll them up so they look like cigarettes. Every time she wants to smoke she can take this out and remind her that Jesus Christ is there and will help give her strength when trying to quit. 

I have seen so many miracles this week in Virginia. I am so glad to be serving here. I am so grateful for the knowledge that I do have of this Gospel. I know that this is where I am supposed to be right now. I know that the Book of Mormon and the Gospel of Jesus Christ can and will change your life. I am so grateful for the relationship that I have with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. 

Also, my companion has noticed me getting an accent and I am not sure how I feel about that. haha I love and miss you guys so much! 

Sister Ruffner

Monday, October 17, 2016

Country Town

Well, I finally made it to Virginia! My first area is the Tappahannok area which is a tiny town by the ocean! It is country as country can get out here and I still don't know how I feel about it haha. My new companion in Sister Tibbits. She is the most positive and cute person ever, I am so lucky to have her as a new companion and trainer. I am going to miss Sister Johnson tons and know she will be such an amazing missionary!

Some things I have learned about Virginia: 
I feel like I am learning a new language, I can't understand half of what people are saying out here because their accents are so strong.
There are SO MANY squirrels! Like seriously everywhere I look I see at least 3.
Most people don't have all their teeth.
This most definitely is the Bible belt.
I have at least 20 bug bites on each leg.
Breathing is so much easier. I feel like I could run forever!
These people here are so humble.
My hair is SO FRIZZY in the humidity!

Monday the first day I got here we already went tracting. I got chased by a scary dog within the first 30 minutes of me being there. So you could say I am living the missionary life over here. We taught a crazy part member family about the restoration and helped them have family home evening which was fun. Their daughter is getting ready to be baptized so that is super exciting!
On Tuesday we taught Janice who just got baptized not too long ago. It was an awesome experience. She has such a strong testimony. The greatest thing is when we went to go teach her again, she had a friend over named Michelle who is struggling and who isn't a member of the Church. What a miracle! We taught her and she came to church on Sunday! She was crying and felt the Spirit so strongly.
There is this girl named Ruby who is the sassiest funniest black lady I have ever met in my life. She cracks me up so much! I can't understand a lot of what she says because her accent is so strong but she loves us missionaries so much and I can't help but love her to death. We taught her the Restoration and she told us that she is Baptist and she isn't leaving her church. She told us a little bit about her family and I told her that it sounds like she really loves her family. She said that of course she loves them so much. I told her that I know through the temple they could be together forever. She said but only through your church? I said yes, your church doesn't believe in that. She had to leave then, but I think that really made her think. I am so excited to go back and teach her the Plan of Salvation.
Saturday we were able to go set up a booth at the farmers market. This was a really interesting experience. I have not received so much rejection in my entire life. It is really hard to keep talking to everyone when only a few ever stop to talk to you. I love wearing Christ's name on my badge everywhere I go, but when people see it, lots of them stay clear from you and say they aren't interested. Other times they come up to you and kiss your hand... We passed out a ton of family history brochures so I'd say it was a success.
Later that day, we went to see a potential investigator at their house. We were sitting in the car planning for a while what we were going to say, and finally went to the door. No one was there but while we were waiting a car drove up into the parking lot and a family hopped out. We went over and started talking to the dad and he was super interested. We prayed with him and gave him a Book of Mormon and Restoration pamphlet. This was no coincidence and I am so grateful for Heavenly Father putting this person in our path.
Sunday was such a great day!!!! Michelle came to church with Janice. It was the primary program which is always my favorite. Since I was the new missionary they made me pray at everything. Like I mean sacrament and at all of the meetings. I think it is a little initiation or something haha. We had lunch at the Pasketts  who live on the beach and are the nicest family ever! I have missed a nice home cooked meal so much. Later that night, we met with German and his son German. There is a little bit of a language barrier between us, he speaks mostly Spanish. We have him read a Spanish version of something and then we talk about it. He really wants to get baptized which is so cool! We had him planned for later this month, but he might be moving soon and he told us that he wants to be baptized before he moves! What a miracle!
Something that I learned this week is how important faith is. Sometimes you really don't find many people to teach or they say that they are never going to change. It can be really easy to get discouraged and just give up. If you don't have faith and try your very best nothing is going to happen. My faith has grown so much the past week, and I am ready for the weeks to come. I know that the Lord is preparing people to receive the Gospel and putting them in my path. Continue to have faith in you life, even when things go wrong. Remember that Heavenly Father does everything for a reason. Everything he has done is for our benefit. We came to this Earth to learn and grow. Don't lose faith. Keep searching, and trust me, I will be doing the same thing over here in Virginia.
Love you tons!

All my love,
Sister Ruffner

New address: 
25 Towncenter Way Apt 6
Warsaw, VA 22572

Monday, October 10, 2016

Officially in Virginia

Well, today was a pretty crazy day! I was on the bus at 4 in the morning and on the plane to Atlanta by 7am and heading to Virginia by 1pm (take note of the time difference). Just letting you guys know that I made it here safely. There are SO MANY trees!! I feel like I am living in a forest. They are all still green so I am glad that I haven't missed the color change. The mission home is absolutely beautiful and huge! I guess it does have to fit 25 missionaries in here tonight. (She traveled with 25 missionaries today, all going to Virginia)The mission President and his wife are super nice. They fed and served all of us a super yummy dinner. I am writing this email on my new iPad so that is pretty cool. We are the last missionaries to get iPads, the ones coming in after are all getting tablets. I meet my trainer and new companion tomorrow afternoon. Gosh I am going to miss my companion Sister Johnson sooooooo much!! She has become my best friend. It is going to be hard, but I am so excited to make even more friends. I am beyond excited to start my mission in the real world of Virginia! Love you guys tons and see you all soon! Christmas is just around the corner.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Two Weeks Down, Four Days to go!

Hello! Just so you know, I am doing so good! The MTC is such a crazy place, but everyone is so nice. Everywhere you go people say, "Hello Sisters" haha. I am enjoying this now because I know that when I get out there it will be so different. I just have to tell you all that I LOVE TEACHING. Every time I have a great experience. I can't believe that I have been here for a whole two weeks! I feel like I just got here, but at the same time I feel like I have been here for years!

Thursday was a sad day because Elder Carter left. He had some things that he needed to go home and get fixed. It was rough for all of us, he was one of the happiest Elders I have ever met, but I know he will continue to do great things at home. Our zone studied our scriptures today for literally 6 hours. Did I say 6 hours? I meant 6 hours. In a row. I loved it, and I will never have that much time to study in real life, but at the same time it was so hard not to fall asleep. We didn't have any lessons with investigators today, but I did get to go to the referral center where we find people on who want a free Bible or Book of Mormon and we call them to figure out if their address is correct and try and get them to let the missionaries bring it over. We also chat people who have questions. Today no one answered any of my calls but Sister Johnson and I had a great online chat with a girl named Sally who fell away from the church and wonders why our church is any different from any other church because they all think that their church is true too. We bore our testimonies to her about the church and why we are Mormons and things like that and she loved it which was such an awesome experience!

I woke up Friday morning to my companion telling me that her head hurts really bad. She sleep walks at night sometimes and has found herself waking up just standing in the bathroom sometimes. Anyway, in the night she slammed her head into the metal ladder. Yikes! So we got up to do our service and she was struggling , the light was hurting her eyes and her head hurt really bad, so we went to the clinical and she has a concussion!! It has gone away by now but we had to take it easy for a couple of days. Remember our investigator Kristin? Well today was our last lesson with her :( She is such an awesome person! But we asked her if she would be baptized and she said that she is working on not drinking tea and coffee and then she will. I share with her D&C 20:37 and she said that she wants to be baptized right now! It was such a cool experience. But we found out that she was just a member acting like an investigator. It was still super cool though! 

I LOVE CONFERENCE! It is such a different experience watching in the eyes of a missionary. I found myself not only watching for myself but for other people too! The only hard part was, sitting and eating and then sitting and then eating. I am spiritually and literally FULL. There were SO many talks that I loved! Sorry that I wasn't in the choir everybody! I REALLY wanted to be! They can only let so many and there are a couple thousand missionaries in the MTC right now. 700 missionaries are leaving on Wednesday for the field so this place is gonna be empty soon! Anyway, some things that I loved from conference,
Dieter F. Uchtdorf has always been a favorite of mine. But brothers and sisters, don't ever lose your awe in the Gospel. This Gospel has answers to the most complex questions in the whole world! Don't forget how you felt the first time you knew you were a child of God because that is truly amazing!
J. Devin Cornish, God believes in you, even when you don't believe in yourself. In reality, the only opinion that really matters is Heavenly Father's. Heavenly Father intends for us to succeed, He would never set us up for failure. You can never travel lower than Christ's divine love. 
David A. Bednar always has the best talks about Christ. We come to better know the Lord when we don't just believe in Him, be we believe Him. Don't just believe that the Atonement happened, but that it can change and work in YOUR life. 
Every Sunday night we have a devotional, and since we have been watching conference all day for the past two days, we had a very special devotional. VOCAL POINT came and sang to us! Oh my gosh It was amazing. I feel like I never really appreciated Hymns and music until I came here. Music can bring the spirit so strongly! Those of you who don't know Vocal Point should look them up. They are a group of boys who sing a capella and their voices are amazing!

Sunday Sister Johnson and I became the official Sister Training Leaders. We were given a PHONE. No before you ask, I can not call you and you can not call me. Oh how I wish I could. This is such a big temptation to carry around. But it is pretty cool to be a Sister Training Leader! We have a new district of missionaries coming in today and so we are doing an orientation tonight with all of them and we are in charge with the zone leaders! The other day the phone rang in class and everyone jumped because when is the last time we heard a phone ring? Two weeks ago!! 

Since we aren't teaching Kristen anymore, we got a new investigator named Jose. Except Sister Johnson and I are pretty sure that he is a real investigator. We got nervous to teach him. We heard some stories that he got mad at some missionaries and loves to argue. We didn't plan anything for the first lesson, just to get to know him and figure out his need. We were so ready for him to be mean to us but oh were we so wrong! He is the sweetest guy ever! I honestly feel so much love for this guy who is just trying to figure out who he is. He asked, how he can be truly happy, how he can see himself the way God sees him and how he can feel strengthened through the Lord. Just really good questions that I feel like everybody has looked for in their lives. Isn't it great that this Gospel has the answers? The next lesson, he brought his boxing gloves and let us try them out haha! Our lesson was supposed to be only 25 minutes but we stayed in there for 45 minutes! He started asking so many great questions. We told him to read the Book of Mormon and it will change his life. We asked him to read Mosiah 4 (guys I absolutely LOVE Mosiah 4). I also asked him to be baptized and he is going to think about it after he reads the Book of Mormon. But I know that he felt it. Did I mention that I LOVE teaching?! During this lesson I was bearing my testimony and he told me, "I believe you. When you smile your eyes get all big and they sparkle and I see that you really know that what you are saying is true and you really feel it. I want that. I know that what you are saying is true. I believe you. Don't ever stop smiling." When he said that it made me feel SO GOOD. I owe it all to the Spirit! It was so strong in there and it worked through me! There is nothing better than having the Holy Ghost in a lesson and the investigator feeling it and realize that it's there. 

Yesterday was cool because we had a real investigator come into the classroom and our whole class taught him. He is a golden investigator. He went to catholic school his whole life but his daughter joined the church and got married and his grandchildren served missions and he just wants to know more. He was so nice! He thanked us for sharing the message of Christ because without us no one would know about Him. He was so sweet! 

I am beyond excited to go to Virginia and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love my Savior with all of my heart. I know that the only way you can have true joy is with Him. Don't forget the spiritual experiences that you have! Read the Book of Mormon everyday and it will change your life! I know that Christ could easily spread His Gospel by Himself, but I am so thankful that he has given me this opportunity to help spread it for Him. I know that if we have faith, and we act on that faith, we will see miracles! Don't give up! Keep seeking for the answers you are looking for. God rewards those who seek Him and come unto Him. He knows the silent pleadings of your heart. Live in faith, and He will bless you as He has promised. 

All my love, 

Sister Ruffner