Tuesday, December 26, 2017

O Little Town of Harrisonburg

Merry Christmas!
This week was so amazing! Thanks for all that sent me something. It was especially special as I was able to serve as a missionary! 

This week we were able to hear from Sherri Dew as she gave us some great advice on how sometimes it is hard to get answers to hard questions we pray about but it is in the wrestle that converts us. We also each have divine orbits. If we keep our covenants, we will be in the right places at the right times in our lives. 
It was tons of fun being able to see all my previous companions and the other sisters I have served with! What a great all mission conference. 

We also met Roshat. He was in the army and one of his captains was a member and a girl that he dated before was a member as well. He has been to church once a while ago and really liked it. When he moved to America he has been to a ton of different churches with rock bands and they ask for money and things like that which he doesn’t like. He thinks the services should be more reverent. He found the church again online and we started to message him on Facebook. Technology isn’t just another tool for us to find people but, for the elect to find us! We gave him a Book of Mormon and he came to church on Sunday! He really liked it and asked how he can be a member! I am super excited to keep teaching him! 

Linda is an investigator we have been working with and this week we were able to meet her husband! We taught him the first lesson and asked him if he would be baptized and he said yes! Excited to keep teaching him as well! We now have more people on date for baptism! I love this area. 

I trained Sister Jackson a little less than a year ago and we were able to go on exchanges this last week. Just like old times. As we were walking the streets of downtown Harrisonburg, we met a guy named Chops. He said that he has been to a lot of different churches but doesn’t like any of them. We started to share the differences in this church from others and told him about the Book of Mormon. He stopped us and said, “I have to tell you something, I woke up this morning and told God that I was sick of being a drunk and I needed his help.” We told him that we were the answer to his prayer. He said he believed that as well! 

Especially this week as we go from door to door and people don’t want to let us in, I think about all those who would never let the Savior in. Even before He was born. There was no room for Him in the inn. The Son of God was born in a manger in that little town of Bethlehem over two thousand years ago. “The hopes and fears of all the years” were made in Him that night. Before we came to earth we testified that He would come. Now we can testify that He did. He came to earth and accomplished all that He said He would. I was not there that special day when Jesus was born. But this year He can be born in our hearts. “Where meek souls will receive him, still The dear Christ enters in.” Let us remember the gratitude we have for our Savior all through this next year. 

♥️ Sister Ruffner 

‘‘Twas the Week Before Christmas

Since it is Christmas time, and we are striving to Light the World with the Light of the World, on day 14 we wrapped up Book of Mormons and walked around campus and gave them to students. There were so many people who gladly accepted them. One girl gave us a big hug and said that she really needed it. We got her number and are going to meet with her! You can always count on the Book of Mormon to change hearts.

One very cold night it was very dark outside. We slowly walk up to a house and knock on the door. We hear people talking inside but can’t understand what they are saying. We wait... no one answers the door. So we slip a card into the door and leave. We walk to the next house and knock... no one answers the door. As we walk down the stairs and head to the next house we see a man walk out of the shadows holding a shovel. He yells at us, “Hey! Did you knock on my door?!” We answer, “yes” “When people yell who is it, do you just not answer?” “We didn’t hear anyone say that. Sorry” we proceeded to tell him who we were and he started to get very upset. “Your religion isn’t true! You are going to hell!” I asked him if his church has everything that Jesus Christ’s Church had in the Bible. He got stumped, we told him to read the Book of Mormon, and we walked away. I was not about to end the night like this. Because this week we are working on diligence, we “press forward, with a perfect brightness of hope.” We knock on the door across the street, not interested. We knock on the next door. Tamela opens and the first thing she says to us, “Come in!” We gladly enter, “shame on my neighbors for not letting you in.” We gave her a Book of Mormon, taught her the Restoration, and set up a return appointment. Do you know what that means? It means, we found a new investigator! She is super awesome and I am super excited to be able to teach her. Heavenly Father never sends His missionaries home feeling disappointed. This day we experienced the blessings of being diligent! 

On another note, we went to see Debbie! We taught her about the Plan of Salvation and the importance of baptism. She is on date to be baptized on February 3rd! She is very excited and knows that this is what she needs to do this year. New year, new Debbie! 

How excited I am to celebrate the Saviors birth this year in Harrisonburg being able to give my personal witness of the divinity of our Savior. What a special time of year. 
“The Saviors descent to humanity was personally announced by the Savior to Nephi on that first “Christmas Eve”: “Behold, the time is at hand... on the morrow come I into the world.” Oh, the magnitude of that sacrifice, that condescension! That night, God the Son traded his heavenly home with all its celestial adornments for a mortal abode with all its primitive trappings. He “the King of heaven”, “the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth”, left a throne to inherit a manger. He exchanged the dominion of a god for the dependence of a babe. He gave of wealth, power, dominion, and the fulness of his glory -for what?- for taunting, mocking, humiliation, and subjection. It was a trade of unparalleled dimension, a condescension of incredible proportions, a descent of incalculable depth. And so, the great Jehovah, creator of worlds without number, infinite in virtue and power, made his entry into this world in swaddling clothes and a manger.” -Tad R. Callister 
How grateful I am for all that Jesus Christ has done for us. 

❤️ Sister Ruffner 
Video from tracie on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Goodbye Richmond! Hello... Mountains?

Monday and Tuesday were days full of goodbyes. Oh my do I hate goodbyes. There are a lot of people in Richmond who I love a whole lot. But, I am now excited to say a whole lot of hellos! 

Wednesday was transfer day and Sister Perry and I with another set of Elders were able to do the Q&A panel for the brand new missionaries. The first question that was asked, "What are you looking forward to when you go home?" Um... It really blows my mind how fast my mission is going and I am loving every second of it. There is no where I would rather be than right here in Virginia. 

We go to transfer meeting and my new companion is Sister Sorensen and we are serving in Harrisonburg YSA! This is Sister Sorenson's last transfer of her mission. We are replacing Elders so we both have no idea about anything haha. It is about 2 hours away from Richmond. On the drive what do we see? The mountains! I saw a little bit of mountains when I served in Charlottesville but, now I see them every time I look out the window! That, along with the snow, gives me a glimpse of Utah. ALSO, I am in a ward serving with Sister Franks and Sister Winder. It has been so much fun being able to serve with Sister Franks again! We also live with Sister Jackson and Sister Bleak. So it is just like almost a year ago when I was serving with Sister Jackson in Fredericksburg. 

Since I am serving YSA we get to do a lot of finding on JMU campus which has been a lot of fun. It is pretty weird teaching people my age but, a lot easier to relate. We went on campus this week and had a sign that says, This Christmas, How will you light the world? and Sister Franks and I would stand in the middle of the walkway and pass out cards and try to get people to come over and write on a sticky note a way they are going to light the world. It was terrifying! haha. I am always being given opportunities to go out of my comfort zone to share the gospel. We also get to go to institute which is super awesome. Aw man I love institute! I learned so many cool things I didn't know before. 
Good news though, since it is almost Christmas break and everyone will be going home, our ward is also a family ward. There are not enough YSA to have their own ward. So I will still have somewhere to go for Christmas. 

Since we replaced Elders, we have no notes or anything. They really didn't leave us with much at all. But we did go see an investigator who they were teaching her grandkids and then she started to get interested as well. We found her on facebook and she let us come over! We were able to answer a lot of her questions and after she said that she has been baptized in a lot of other churches, why not this church too? haha we will work on that but, she wants to be baptized! 

I am very excited to serve in this part of the Lord's vineyard for the next 6 weeks and hopefully more! I am constantly grateful for the opportunity I have had to be a missionary for all this time. I am constantly being blessed as I labor among Heavenly Father's children. This is the best time to be a missionary. People's hearts are open and wanting to serve and to give. "We find real joy when we make the Savior the focus of the season." -Thomas S. Monson Remember this Christmas season who's birth we celebrate. It is only through Jesus Christ we are able to feel complete joy. "His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the World" -The Living Christ. 

My new address 

🌲 Sister Ruffner

I"ll Go Where You Want Me To Go

It has been a glorious past 4.5 months serving the Lord in Richmond. I love the people I have been able to meet while serving here and am going to miss them bunches. I am excited to see where Heavenly Father needs me next! 

Facebook continues to be a useful tool in finding people to teach! We have been messaging a guy named Roger. He agreed to meet us at Panera and talk more about our message. We taught him the Restoration and gave him a Book of Mormon and he gratefully accepted it! He is excited to read the Book and meet with us again. 

I am super happy to have started to light the world! On December 1st I was able to go on exchanges in Gayton with Sister Kennard. Our goal to "freely give" was to give away 5 Book of Mormons. Well, we started the day going to get an oil change and tires rotated for the car. That unexpectedly took about 3 hours. Then we went tracting in this neighborhood and we weren't finding much success. Not many people were home. So we tried somewhere else, same results. We got in the car and said a prayer to know where we can go to be able to reach our goal and find those who are searching for truth. We both decided on a street and start tracting. We gave away four Book of Mormons on that street! Including the very last house we tried. It was such an amazing night. Then after dinner we went to an apartment complex and the first door we knocked on didn't answer, so we knocked again, didn't answer so we knocked again and they finally answered. Her name is Connie and she is super interested! She gladly accepted a Book of Mormon and said she is excited to read it, anything to learn more about her Savior Jesus Christ! She just moved here and is still looking for a church. They are going back to see her on Saturday. Super nice lady! 
Sister Kennard and I made a few goals for that day and Heavenly Father helped us to accomplish all of them!

This weekend was stake conference. I love stake conference because we always get to see President and Sister Smith. On Saturday morning, we get a text from Desiree saying that she wants to come to our service that night! She asked us what she should wear and for all the details. It was so good to see her come! She brought a notebook and took a lot of notes. She said it was very different from what she was used to but that she enjoyed it! 
Also Sergey came as well! He is still reading and progressing in the gospel. 

As we were tracting last night before dinner, we met a character. His name was Chief. He got out of jail about a year ago and has been writing music every since. We knocked on his neighbors door and he opened his door so we just scooted over and started talking with him. We asked if he believes in Jesus Christ and he said, "Of course! I'll be right back" when he came back he had one of his CD's to give us. Then he said again, "I'll be right back" and came back out with another CD for us. He took a picture of us holding the Book of Mormon and his CD. He said that he is going to promote our Book. Unexpected things always happen when tracting. You never know who is going to be behind each door. 

Yesterday was the Christmas Devotional which was so good! Even know the tree's are blooming, I am starting to get into the holiday spirit. How grateful I am for the gift that Heavenly Father has given to us. He wants to give us all that He has and it is through His Only Begotten Son that we are able to do that. "Jesus Christ is the living manifestation of divine love." Let us remember and be grateful for the wonderful gift He has given to us by loving and serving others this Christmas. I am extremely grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that He came to earth to do for us what we are not able to do for ourselves. It is through Him that we are able to have peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is also Friend of Friends. It is through Him that I am able to do what I do each day. I would not be on a mission if it weren't for Him. I am grateful to be able to share this message with the people I see every day. There is no greater calling. I love being a missionary. I am grateful to have a Heavenly Father to pray to in every time of need. I know He hears and answers prayers. I have experienced that again this week. "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." Helaman 5:12

❤ Sister Ruffner

Best Day Ever

Wednesday Edi GOT BAPTIZED! It was such a special day. He was super excited and his dad was super happy as well. He has been waiting for this for so long. The speaker talking about baptism asked Edi what he is promising by being baptized today. He said, “To keep the commandments, like the Word of Wisdom, and the Law of Chastity” haha that boy knows his stuff :)

Monday we had a lesson with Ashley and her daughter was there! We put her on date for Jan 6 with Ashley. 
We had another lesson with Ashley and she has been telling everyone how excited she is to get baptized. This is her chance to be able to push a redo button in her life. She is already in 2 Nephi 11 and reads/listens to it every night. She is progressing so well! 

We had this super busy day with one thing after another and I didn’t think I was going to be able to pass out a Book of Mormon. Then on our way home from district meeting we get a referral from a member. He has a friend who has been asking him a lot of questions. So we called his friend named Mike and asked if we could come over and give him a Book of Mormon and he said yes! During the small time we had we went and delivered the Book and were able to answer a lot of his questions. He has studied a lot of different churches and he finally found the right one! No time for lunch when these Book of Mormons need loving homes. 

But don’t worry, I was not deprived of food for long because on thanksgiving I was completely stuffed. The lovely Sister Porter is an amazing cook. Everything was homemade and was delicious. Then we went to go see Monica right after and she bought us some turkey, stuffing and potatoes. I feel like I have been eating thanksgiving leftovers ever since. Not complaining... 

There is a family of members who wanted their daughter to decide for herself if she wanted to be baptized and so we have been teaching her the lessons. She also got baptized this week! So that was super exciting :) 

Yesterday was probably one of the best days of my whole mission. 
Ashley’s daughter got a ride to church, her name is Jada and she was able to see Edi receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. He was really excited to go up in front of everyone.  He said he felt all tingly afterwards. 
We received another referral from some Elders who serve near us and we stopped by to see her and give her a Book of Mormon. Her name is Sunni and she was really excited for one. She thinks the temple in Salt Lake is beautiful and has heard stories from the Book of Mormon when she was there. She was 9 years old then and when she asked about it they said African Americans can’t. She was super excited when we cleared that up for her. We bought her a dress for church so she can come this week. She had a beautiful piano in her house and I played a song while Sister Perry sang. She really enjoyed that. Sunni is going through a lot right now and as we shared our testimony and was reading in the Book of Mormon with her she started to cry. She is very excited to learn more. 
Today was Monica’s birthday! She comes with us to a lot of lessons and so we made her a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. When we brought it over unannounced she almost started crying. She doesn’t have any family around so she was super grateful we were thinking of her. 
Then we rushed to the church and did a video call through Facebook with Erica. Erica is searching for truth right now in her life. As she was doing some family history, she found out that some of her ancestors were Mormons. So she decided to check it out. She has a lot of doubts. She believes that God is real but isn’t really sure. She is doing all the right things to find out though. She is reading the Book of Mormon and we even read it together and were able to answer her questions and help her understand it more. She ordered some dresses online so she can come to church. She is even going to bring a friend to church! It was really cool telling her the doubts I have had and how I was able to overcome them and gain my testimony. I am super excited for her to do the same thing! 

I am extremely excited for this holiday season! This is the time to light the world. If you haven’t watched the video on Mormon.org do it right now! It has softened a lot of hearts already. If everyone served others this December we literally would light the world. “I am confident there are within our sphere of influence those who are lonely, those who are ill, and those who feel discouraged. Ours is the opportunity to help them and to lift their spirits. The Savior brought hope to the hopeless and strength to the weak. He healed the sick; He caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear. He even raised the dead to life. Throughout His ministry He reached out in charity to any in need. As we emulate His example, we will bless lives, including our own.” -President Monson
Let’s fill the world with the light of Christ and we will see miracles! 

❤️ Sister Ruffner