Monday, November 28, 2016

The Book of Mormon is True!

So my new companions name is Sister Stoker and I love her so much! So thankfully I am not training a greenie (a brand new missionary) I am co-training with Sister Stoker who came out with me! So we are the same age in mission years and are training each other. It has been an amazing experience so far. Neither of us really know what we are doing half the time so I have learned to rely on my Heavenly Father even more than I ever have before. I can say that I know this is His work and that He loves His missionaries. I know that He is guiding us to where He needs us to be and I am so grateful for that. We are going to see so many miracles!

On Tuesday I finished packing up everything I own and taking it to Richmond to the transfer meeting. We started with a trainers meeting for all of the trainers and then they let the greenies in and paired them up with their trainers. I was now sitting alone because I am not training a new missionary. I had to wait until transfer meeting to get my new companion. It was weird not having a companion for a couple of hours. But we had lunch and I talked with three other missionaries who I had come out with, who are also training. I really wanted to know what was going to happen, who my new companion was, and where I was going. Finally we have transfer meeting and they announce that I am going to the Chancellor ward in Fredricksburg and I am companions with Sister Stoker! 

Things about my new area that differ from Tappahannok: 
There are neighborhoods with houses right next to each other!
The ward feeds us every night
There are lots of stores
Most people know about Mormons
The church actually has benches 
It reminds me more of home

There is a man named Ray that we taught. He started to read the Book of Mormon and he prayed about it and wanted to know more, so he turned to Google... :( He typed in Joseph Smith and now he thinks that Joseph Smith is this terrible person. He is so caught up on everything that he has read online that he won't read the Book of Mormon! He says that he wants to believe the Book, but he just can't because he doesn't have any evidence. He kept asking us how we know it is true. We bore our testimonies over and over again but he just wouldn't accept it because it wasn't tangible proof. We told him that the Book of Mormon is tangible proof! and that if he read it the whole way through that he would know. I really hope he just gives it a chance. 

Thanksgiving was so much fun! We went to the Helzers, and the Grovers and sister Boggs and her son Jarom were there too. It was good to be there, it felt like one big happy family. And I got to try Sister Grovers famous apple pie, which I must say was deeeelicious. :) We talked about everything that we were grateful for which is always nice to reflect. Later that night we went to another members house and had some pie and shared a video about Jesus Christ and shared how thankful we are for Him. I cannot imagine a life without Jesus Christ, I am so thankful for everything that he has done for me and still does for me. 

On Friday we visited this less active named Sister Rees. She was having a really rough time. She just didn't want to go to church, her life has been really hard lately and she felt like she just didn't belong there. Sister Stoker and I taught a really powerful lesson on the Atonement and showed her my favorite mormon message of all time, Mountains to Climb. She cried a lot and said that it is exactly what she needed to hear. We asked her if she needed help with anything and she said that she really needed her leaves raked and her kids wouldn't do it. So we went back on Saturday to rake the leaves and oh my gosh it was so fun! I have never had so much fun raking leaves before. Just the feeling of helping someone who really needed it was so so good. Then as we were raking one of her sons comes running out to help us. He was a really funny kid. We made a super big leave pile and filled up 9 bags of leaves! It was a lot of work! 

As we were tracting on Friday, we were on this street and I just didn't feel good about it. My companion also was not sure what to do so we said a prayer and both decided to go to another street somewhere else. We got in the car and decided on Basil Ct. It felt so good to be there I was practically skipping from house to house. It was weird, I have never been so happy to tract before. We talked to a couple people, no special conversations or lessons or anything. Then our time for tracting was almost up, but I had seen someone in the blue house go to get the mail, and so I knew they were home. We went and knocked on the door and a man came outside and sat on his porch and let us teach him! He was a super nice guy and is interested in coming to our church! His name is Mike and we started to teach him the Restoration but he interrupted like half way through, but we are definitely going back there! 

Funny moment told from companions point of view: 
"So, we got gas today, and had to go into the store
to get our receipt, but as we were walking back to the car, this car
pops up OUT OF NOWHERE. So, being the scaredy cat that I am, I yelp
(it wasn't a full-on scream) and jump a little bit. Well, Sister
Ruffner, no joke, flies off of the ground! Literally, it was like 2
feet! It was hilarious! We laughed for like 20 minutes!! 😂 Anyways,
that's all."

We wen't to see this man named Doug. His whole family are members, but he just doesn't beleive in organized religion. So I am so excited to work with him. He even came to church on Sunday! He only stayed for sacrament but, yay! He thinks that our church is the closest one to what Christ would have wanted, so we are so close! He even had two kids go on missions. 

Sunday was a really rough day. Church was amazing and the lessons were amazing and everything. I said the opening prayer for sacrament, they also made me stand up in front of everyone so they could all see the new missionary for the ward. Sister Stoker and I got to teach Gospel Principles which was fun, I knew how to do that haha ;) But we wen't tracting and got caught in this couples house and were bombarded with how our religion isn't true for like an hour. He would not let us leave! They thought that we don't have prophets today because after Christ came, everything was done. They don't even believe in miracles! How sad is that?! People take the Bible so literally. Then we kept tracting and getting shut down. Finally we were driving down this street and we see someone on their porch and we almost run to them because God puts prepared people on our path! He had never heard of Mormons before! What a relief! It was so cool to teach him. We felt a lot better after that and kept tracting. We made 3 return appointments that night! How amazing! I truly know that Heavenly Father loves His missionaries, and is watching out for us. 

"The Atonement will carry the missionaries perhaps even more importantly it ill carry the investigators. When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrow and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him-- the Way, the Truth and the Life." - Elder Holland

I have never had my testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon more tested in my entire life. Wow there are so many people out here who just do not like the Book of Mormon and who really do not like Joseph Smith. I have done so much study on the Book of Mormon this week. I know without a doubt that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and translated the Book of Mormon. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and no matter how hard people try to convince me other wise, it just isn't going to work. If you want an idea of what people are like out here, read 2 Nephi 29. After the crazy week that I have had, and the people that I have met, this chapter gave me a lot of comfort. Heavenly Father knew that this would happen, and He knew that people were going to act this way. I also know that there are people out there who are prepared and I am determined to find them. I love my Savior and I love this work! Check out the new Christmas video on mormon.org and Light the World! 

All my love, 
Sister Ruffner

New address: 
11816 Forbidden Forest Cir. Apt. 303 Fredericksburg VA 22407
(yes I live in the forbidden forest)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Goodbye Warsaw

WHAT A WEEK! I have so many thoughts and feelings right now. I can not believe that I have been out on my mission for 2 months today. Also, my first transfer is over. Wow it is so crazy how time flies!

On Wednesday this week we did exchanges with the sister training leaders. I went with sister Manson in Mechanicsville until Thursday. It was lots of fun serving in a different area with a different companion for a day. It is a little less country in Mechanicsville which was nice. We went to see a less active family and they let us in (which is unusual for them) and we shared a message with them! They also decided to take us to Chick-fil-a for dinner, which was such a huge treat! The only places to eat in Warsaw are Mcdonalds and Hardees and ya those places are not my favorite. Anyway... I had lots of fun doing exchanges this week!

You know what it feels like when you are super excited for something to happen but you aren't sure what is going to happen and you don't know if it is going to be good or bad so you are just really anxious and nervous and excited all at the same time and you really just can't wait any longer?! Well that is what this whole week has been but Saturday especially. We got transfer calls on Saturday, and if you get a call from the President that means you are getting some kind of leadership position, if you get a call from one of the Presidents assistants then you are getting transferred to a new area, and if you don't get a call nothing changes and you both stay there. Well, Saturday at around 4:30 we get a call from PRESIDENT! Oh my gosh my heart was racing so fast. My companion Sister Tibbits is staying in Tappohannock and training a new missionary. I am being TRANSFERRED to a new area and I AM TRAINING!!!!!! For those of you who don't know, when you first come out on your mission, you go through 12 weeks of training. Either with the same companion or sometimes a new one, but you still are in training for 12 weeks. I HAVE BEEN OUT FOR 6 WEEKS. I am only halfway done with my training so ya, I am still not sure what to think.

In college when I was called as Gospel Doctrine teacher, I thought that I was called to help me learn how to teach by the Spirit, which it did. But I think what it also taught me was to trust that Heavenly Father knows what He is doing. To trust that when I have been called to do something scary, I am not alone and I have divine help to accomplish everything that the Lord asks me to do. I know that I am supposed to be a trainer at this point in my mission. I full heartedly know that I can not do this by myself. I feel like I keep learning again and again that I can do hard things that scare me with Jesus Christ. I have already used the Atonement every day in my mission but I am learning how to really use it to strengthen me. I know that through Jesus Christ our weaknesses can be turned into strengths. I trust my Heavenly Father with all of my heart and I am so ready to start this new adventure on my mission. I don't find out who my companion will be or where I am going until tomorrow at the transfer meeting. So I will let you guys know next Monday!

Yesterday was a crazy day saying goodbye to everyone at church. They were all like, "But you just got here!" Which is true, just one transfer in an area is so fast! I am going to miss the ward and the people that we have been teaching. At the beginning of this transfer I was not too happy being put out here in the middle of the country, but I have grown to love it so much! 

Last night was such a crazy night! We went to the German's to say goodbye and German had made us "something special" to say thank you for everything we have done for him and his son. But when we got to his house, his brother and his wife were not there. Which means that there was no female in the house and we were not able to go in. Last time Sister Tibbits tried to explain to him that we can't come in without another female there because it is the rule, he got really offended. With the language barrier he just didn't understand. So we said that we would be right back and drove to the nearest member, but she wasn't home and she wouldn't answer her phone! We did not know what to do! We either had to break a rule, lie and tell him we have an emergency and can't stay, or try to explain why we can't come in and hope that he doesn't get offended. I finally suggested that we say a prayer. I just started explaining to God what was happening and that we needed help and we didn't know what to do. Sister Tibbits and I made the conclusion that we needed to head back to German's house and try to explain why we couldn't come in. On our way home I kept having the thought, when you get back to his house German's brother and wife are going to be there. But I thought I was just wishful thinking. When we got back to German's house, a car started to follow us down the road and pulled into Germans driveway right behind us! It was German's brother and his wife! Yay! What a huge miracle. I know that God hears and answers prayers! We were able to go inside and eat the nice meal that he made for us. The funny thing is, German had no clue what had just happened. Both German and his son said that they are going to miss me. German Sr. said that his house is our house and if we ever need a place to stay to just come over and he will go outside so that we can stay in his house. He is seriously so sweet! I always have the best time meeting with them. We also had a random extra spanish Book of Mormon we gave to Germans brother!

Since Thanksgiving is on Thursday, I want to make a short list some things I am grateful for: 
My Savior Jesus Christ
Prayer
My family
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
The Book of Mormon
That I am able to be a missionary
Prophet Thomas S. Monson
My testimony
The Holiday Season
Pumpkin Pie :)

I love you all and am so grateful for all of the opportunities that I have had while being on my mission so far. I am so excited for the ones to come. I know that this is the Lord's work and it will always keep moving forward, even with someone like me being a trainer. I hope that you all have such a happy Thanksgiving!!

- Sister Ruffner


Thursday, November 17, 2016

But Baby it's Cold Outside



Remember how I talked about the Hallowclean? Well it was a contest and
Sister Tibbits and I won for our zone! Our apartment is so homey and
we even put up the Christmas tree which makes me so happy. It is
getting colder and colder as the days go by. When we woke up the other
day and looked outside everything was white! It was all frost, it
hasn't snowed yet but it is very cold! Which normally would be a bad
thing, but people feel bad for us when we knock on the door and let us
in out of the cold.

That crazy part member family that I taught on my very first day here,
well we have been teaching their daughter named Kiersten all of the
lessons. She has the sweetest spirit and decided to get baptized! It
was such a special moment for her she was so excited and ready. She is
9 years old and it has been so fun going to teach her and her family
all of the lessons. I know that she will set a good example for her
parents and her siblings as she lives righteously.

I don't think I have ever talked about Ella before, but Ella is an
older woman who has grown up in the Pentecostal church. Her dad was
the minister but has since passed away. That is the thing that is
holding her back the most from being baptized, she feels like she
would be betraying her father. She always keeps her reading
commitments and things like that and she knows that our church is true
but she just doesn't want to change. We invited her to the baptism and
she actually came! It was such a wonderful surprise! She came 30
minutes early so that we could give her a church tour before the
baptism. Of course the time we have an investigator here for the
baptism, Kierstens family is 40 minutes late! Ugh It was not a great
first impression but she was able to stay and see the baptism
performed. I think she was surprised at how simple it was. But she
enjoyed it and I am excited to follow up with her.

We have also been teaching a girl named Paula. She loves God and loves
the scriptures! She loves it so much when we come and visit her, she
also has a disability so she is always home when we come over. Which
is so so nice (and sad) People are never home, seriously everyone here
is just way to busy or is avoiding us a lot. I like to say that they
are just really busy. :) Anyway, she was having a rough day the other
day and we went and talked to her about Gods love for her and that she
can be with her family again. She can be with her family forever
through the temple. We invited her to be baptized and she said yes
that she would work towards her date! Now we just have to figure out
how we are going to get her to church with her wheelchair...

I finally finished the cigarette box that we made for Janice! I really
hope that it helps her. She is getting so much better but still has to
quit before she can go to the temple. She loves to invite her friends
to church which is so fun! She is such a great member missionary. :)

In case you forgot, I love being a missionary! This work is so
important and so special! My testimony grows more and more everyday. I
miss and love you all! Happy Thanksgiving!

Sister Ruffner














Monday, November 7, 2016

Everyone a Missionary

Oh my gosh has it already been a week since I emailed you last? Wow this week has gone by so fast! Time sure flies when you're having fun. 

The leaves are changing here and it is absolutely beautiful! Oh my gosh there are so many trees and they are all turning orange and yellow and red! I seriously love the fall so much.

This week we had something called return and report where all the trainers and trainees go to a meeting together in downtown Richmond. Which means that my first transfer is half way over! Crazy right? I feel like I am still a newbee not knowing what I am doing, but at the same time, I feel like I have been here for years and years. It was so awesome because I was able to see Sister Johnson my MTC companion who I missed so much! She is seriously the best! We had a couple meetings and then we got a new companion for the next two hours and went out street contacting on the streets of downtown Richmond which was pretty sketch but SO many people to talk to! Seriously there were so many people. It was a dream! In the Tappahannok area where Sister Tibbits and I are right now, you can walk down the street for hours and run into probably 2 or 3 people. There really aren't sidewalks either so that is a problem. Anyway we sometimes run out of people to teach. We have tracted every single street in Warsaw (which is where are apartment is) and we are limited in miles so it is hard to drive other places. Anyway, the whole talk to everyone thing kind of stressed me out in the big city. My new companion for the day was sister Rowndy who was super nice and sweet! Another thing about Tappahannok is that no one is really ever in a hurry. In Richmond everyone was running around and no one had time to talk so we decided to talk to this nice girl just sitting eating an ice cream cone. We talked to her and she said that she had met with the missionaries before but then moved. So we gave her a little restoration lesson and gave her the Book of Mormon and got her number to give to the missionaries who actually serve in Richmond! It was seriously so awesome! Richmond was crazy and I was so exhausted by the end of the day. (Luckily I got a whole extra hour of sleep on Saturday night) Whoever serves in Richmond always has people to teach and find! You also really have to practice teaching in 30 seconds because that is all people will give you. You have to have tough skin to be a missionary in the city. Overall it was such a great experience! 

The day after we had a zone meeting which was a huge spiritual uplift. It was good to see and talk to other missionaries. We talked about our mission vision which is, 
We will act to teach repentance and baptize converts to meet the potential the Lord has for us. 
I love this because we need to act to teach. Which takes so much faith! Something I have learned is that you have to have so much courage and be bold to be a missionary. Not only talking to people but inviting them to do things, and being devastated when they don't keep their commitments. But I also know that this gospel is so important, and it is so important to give everyone the chance to either accept it or reject it. The only thing that I can do is to try my very hardest and the Lord will do the rest. Continuing to change and become better and continuing to look for the prepared people to teach, and continuing to grow my faith. President Hinckley taught, "Just do the best you can, but be sure it is your very best. Please don't nag yourself with thoughts of failure. Do not set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. Simply do what you can do, in the best way you know, and the Lord will accept your effort." I love this so much! When we can't find people to teach, and people are rejecting us, I can know that I tried my best and that is all I could have done. People have their own agency to do what they want. I also think that the Lord isn't just preparing other people to be taught the gospel, He is preparing and refining me. So that when I do run into that person I need to teach, they will be prepared to hear the gospel and I will be prepared to teach it to them. Everything has a purpose. No effort is wasted. 

Something that Sister Tibbits and I have been sharing with a lot is members is a message on missionary work. "Members who share the gospel experience joy and have the Spirit of the Lord more abundantly. As we share the gospel, we appreciate how precious and meaningful it is to us, and we feel a greater love for God and others. The Lord commanded His followers to preach the gospel in all the world, giving every person the opportunity to accept or reject it. When people are baptized, they make a covenant to always stand as witnesses of God. They are commanded to share the gospel with those who have not yet received it. As they live the gospel faithfully, they will set an example, showing their family members and friends the great blessings that come from living the gospel." I love this so much because I have seen this on my mission. As I share the gospel with others I have experienced so much joy and appreciation for the gospel in my life. I invite you to go and find someone to share the gospel with. You will see so many blessings as you do this. I know that is true. 

I love being a missionary. We have such a unique and important message to share with the world. I know that through and only through the gospel is how we can experience true and everlasting joy! 

Sorry this email is seriously all over the place. But I love and miss you all so much! 

-Sister Ruffner

Here are some pictures from return and report.




Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Happy Hallow"clean"



Yes, the subject says Hallowclean. How exciting right? This year for Halloween all of the missionaries in Virginia will be in their apartments cleaning. We need to be off the streets by 5pm to be safe and not to confuse anyone. Sometimes people dress as missionaries which could be super confusing for people. It's like trick or treating but WE are the ones giving out the greatest treat in the world! 

Well, this week has been super crazy. We dropped three of our investigators and that made me really sad but it showed God that we are ready to find new people who are ready and willing to accept the Gospel. We prayed so hard for new people to teach who would accept our message, and we totally did! I know that this is the work of the Lord and when we put our trust in Him, that is when we are going to see miracles. 

We wen't tracting everyday obviously but one day as we were walking around these three boys started walking up to us. We got a little nervous but once they realized that we were missionaries they became super respectful and one of them, Taylor, became really interested in what we had to say. He was the oldest of the three and they were all brothers. We talked to him about religion and he said that he went to church everyday. He has read the Bible multiple times and is trying to be a good person and a good example to his brothers. He is trying to find the right path. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he said that he is going to go home and read it with his brothers. He was so willing and interested! We asked him for his number and he said that he doesn't have a phone. Ugh, that made me kind of upset because he seemed so golden and we have no way of getting a hold of him! He said that he will see us around. I was like okay ya sure. But oh boy was he right! We have run into him everyday since. Multiple times a day. The first or second time you could argue was a coincidence. But the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth? I don't think so. My companion and I joke all the time okay, when are we going to see Taylor and his brothers today? Even know this boy doesn't have a phone, the Lord finds a way for him to meet with us. We have talked a lot about our church and he is so interested! He says that he wants to be baptized! What a miracle.

Another day, a member came with us out tracting and we went to a potential investigators house. He opened the door and I said, "Hi! We are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." He said, "Come in!" WOW. This has not happened once since I have been here! So many people are always so busy and say to come back at a different time, or they aren't interested or just are never home. We taught Martin the restoration and gave him a Book of Mormon. Sister Tibbits and I testified of Joseph Smith and he said, "I believe you. I am going to read this Book today and when can you come back?" We set a return appointment and are going back on Tuesday! What a miracle.

Tracting, tracting, tracting, that is all you do when you are finding, finding, finding. We wen't to these apartments and when we walked in the door to the lobby this girl sitting by the door says, "Why do I feel like you guys have something to say to me?" Immediately I say, "Because we do!" Her name is Denishia. She never prays because she doesn't know if God is there, and if He is there, she doesn't think that He can hear her. I told her that Heavenly Father loves you SO MUCH. I know that he hears and answers our prayers because He has answered mine. Denishia asked so many good questions! We taught her the Restoration and she thought it was the coolest thing ever. We told her that Joseph Smith went in the woods to pray which church was true, and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him. As we read the experience in Josephs own words her eyes got all big and she says, "So which church did he choose?!" We said, "He said that none of them have the fullness of the Gospel and that Joseph needed to restore Christ's church back onto the Earth." She thought this was the coolest thing in the world! I felt like I was telling a little kid about Santa Clause or something really exciting like that. I testified that the Book of Mormon was true and I knew it was true because I prayed about and got my answer and she can too. She was like, "Really?!" This was all new to her. She kept saying that we were sent to her for a reason and she loved meeting with us and loved everything that we shared with her. What a miracle. 

As you can see, this week was filled with miracles! I know that our prayers are heard and answered! I am so grateful that I have this knowledge and am able to teach others what I know about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so incredible grateful for my testimony, and how much it has grown while I have been out on my mission. No one can argue with your testimony, no one can argue with what you know to be true. I know that the more you share your testimony, the more it will grow! Just remember this Halloween that you have the greatest treat in the whole world, the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Happy Halloween!
Eat so much candy for me! 
Love and miss you TONS! 
- Sister Ruffner

Pics: 
I am a cow for halloween
our zone p-day
my hair in uncontrollable
ward halloween party
(these are not in order)