Monday, October 27, 2014

El Plan de Dios Puedo Seguir

My email subject is one of the songs the primary kids are singing for their program :) in English it's "I Will Follow God's Plan."

On Tuesday I had my last NEW missionary training meeting! I really enjoyed it. President gave an awesome lesson where he broke down each part of D&C 4:2, "Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day." We went over how we can serve God with ALL of our HEART, MIGHT, MIND, and STRENGTH. I always leave these meetings pretty pumped to do the work and it's awesome! Towards the end of the meeting the new missionaries and the trainers split off for a few minutes for a spiritual message. While I was with all the new missionaries so much came to my mind that I felt like I needed to share, but I also felt like I wasn't supposed to share it right then. It was a little confusing but I felt like I knew I would be given an opportunity to share these thoughts later. When we rejoined with the other missionaries president began to conclude the meeting and he said before the meeting was over he felt inspired that I should come up and share my testimony. Can I just say how much I love the Spirit? It's amazing! So when I went up I felt like I knew exactly what I was supposed to say and it brought me to tears. My message was simply that we must live our missions right now in a way that we will be so excited to share the things we've done and learned with our children. When the Spirit brought that to my attention it really touched me and put things into perspective. I know that my mission doesn't end here in Chicago, but that I will be a missionary my whole life. I also know that there are people here who are waiting for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives and I will cherish these experiences of serving them forever. 

After the new missionary training meeting Hermana Michael and I went and knocked a couple potential new investigators and they either weren't home or didn't want to listen to us. So we headed back to the car and we saw a young man walking on the opposite side of the road from where we parked and both Hermana Michael and I felt that we should talk to him but we didn't tell each other. It was a very subtle feeling for both of us. We ended up just getting in the car and we drove down the road and made a uturn to get back on the main road so we passed him a second time. We both got that subtle feeling again and Hermana Michael began to ask me if I thought we should go back and talk to him, and before she could finish I basically interrupted her by saying, "YES!" So we turn around again and I felt a little bad because we parked pretty close to him then proceeded to get out and talk to him. We explained how we are missionaries and how we felt it was important for us to turn around and talk to him and asked him for his thoughts. He said, "I think that's a sign from God." He said that he's been going through a lot of hardship right now and we shared our testimonies with him. He said he's been pleading with God to help him and I know that Heavenly Father gave us that prompting to talk to him as an answer to his prayers. 

President had me share another last minute message at church yesterday during sacrament meeting. He came and spoke to our ward which was awesome! He invited me to come up in the middle of his talk to share a quick experience from when we brought a member to a lesson with us. I think my on the spot spanish wasn't too bad! I'm definitely getting better. We had a few pretty great member presents this week. The members in this ward are amazing! They're always so willing to help and their desire to serve really touches my heart. So far in my mission I've definitely realized that this work is pretty impossible without the help of members. They bring the love of the ward into the members home and their support helps the investigator feel more comfortable. When members are there it helps show how special the gospel is to us and how much we want to share it because we know that it is something that can bless their lives more than anything else. I spent the last two hours of church with the primary again, playing piano for them. It's always a good time with the primary! 

On Friday we got to our first appointment pretty early because Hermana Michael forgot how time worked so we knocked some doors in the meantime. When we knock complexes we look at the mailboxes first to find Hispanic families to leave all the English speakers for the English missionaries in that area. While I was looking at one of the mailboxes I saw a post it that said "Sister Kershaw and Sister Geracitano." They're so awesome! So we buzzed their apartment and Sister Geracitano answered and laughed. I can't believe we found their apartment while we were knocking! Sister Geracitano is from Australia and President asked her to get a drivers license. She said she had just gotten back from taking the test and she passed! She also mentioned how during the test was her first time ever driving on an American road! She told us, "can you believe I passed? Now that was God!" Haha

Saturday was the ward Halloween party at church! Our ward went all out with their costumes it was awesome and hilarious! A lot of them were even in character too haha! We helped decorate a little and got to hang out with the members so it was a lot of fun! I'll definitely share some pictures from that.

Well I hope everyone is fantastic! I love you all and hope to hear from you soon!

Keep smiling!

Hermana Knowles

All the hermanas at the new missionary training meeting.

One of the members made us breakfast.

Halloween party!

Our bishop and his wife, they're so funny!

Monday, October 20, 2014

La Vida en Chicago

Hola familia y amigos!

So it's starting to get cold here and so far so good! I'm going to get some more warm clothes today. Apparently there are a lot of cool places to go thrift shopping in Chicago! So that'll be fun. I had a pretty good week! We've definitely been working hard.

I had my very first zone meeting on Wednesday and I really enjoyed it! President Woodbury focused a lot on prayer and how we can make it more meaningful. I really love how prayer is explained in the Bible Dictionary. I love how it says, "As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part." God is our Father and He wants each of His children to pour out their hearts to Him in prayer each day! He cares about all the little things we care about and loves us so much. Another one of my favorite parts from the Bible Dictionary is this, "The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings." Prayer is an act of faith and as we strive to listen to the Spirit as we pray we can receive greater understanding and strengthen our relationship with our Father in Heaven. I really like how President worded it, "God answers acts of faith with revelation." 

This week a couple of our investigators told us about recent struggles they've been going through.  It was really hard hearing the things they're going through, and I even cried with one of our investigators as she was explaining things, but I was comforted in knowing that the message we share with them can help them overcome their challenges and strengthen their faith. One of our investigators is trying to overcome her addiction to smoking and she said we've been helping her a lot. To start she gave each of us one of her cigarettes and we wrote the date on them so we could look back at the day she acted to make a change. We bore our testimonies mainly on the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. 

We got a new investigator this week! Our first lesson with her went really well and we're excited to keep working with her!

Church was pretty fun yesterday. Sacrament meeting was really nice. An Hermana that just got home from her mission in Uruguay spoke and it was awesome! Afterwards I spent the rest of church with the primary kids to play piano for them. That was so fun! The primary program isn't until the end of November so they most certainly like getting ahead of the game! I feel like I've gotten much better at piano on my mission. It's the best! I'm still teaching the younger kids on Saturday mornings and I get to play for sacrament meeting sometimes too.

Hermana Stout, my companion from the CCM, wasn't feeling super well the other day so to help her and her companion with their appointments we went on splits. So Hermana Michael went to their appointments with Hermana Trujillo and Hermana Stout and I got to be companions again for a little while! That brought back some fun memories from Mexico. It was nice hanging out with her again.

Well all is well here in the beautiful land of Chicago! Oh! We went out with two other companionships of hermanas for pday to get some clothes and while we were on a bus this guy asked, "well what do we have here a gaggle of scholars?" We asked him what a gaggle was and he said "I don't know I think geese are a gaggle." We proceeded by saying, "Well you've got yourself a gaggle of mormon missionaries!" Then he said, "Well this is my stop!" Yeah Chicago is most certainly a beautiful place. 

I love you all! Keep smiling my beautiful friends and family!

Hermana Knowles :) 

This sign is a strong supporter of the word of wisdom!

And one of the boys who got sealed to his family last Saturday!
And a members son who loves selfies.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Esta Semana Fue SUPER Bien

Another pretty superb week here in the mish! 

On Wednesday all of the missionaries had the awesome opportunity to watch Meet the Mormons at each of their church buildings. I never thought I'd get to watch a movie on my mission but I'm most certainly thankful we got to see this one! I absolutely LOVED it! It was so simple and beautiful and real! I also liked how it never tried to force our beliefs on the audience but it just portrayed the genuine happiness of these 6 families through their faith in Jesus Christ. 

We had exchanges this week! Hermana Michael went to Logan Square with Hermana Izu and I stayed in our area with Hermana Hammond! Hermana Hammond is so great we definitely had a fun time on Friday. We had a couple appointments and they both went really well! We made an effort to have a kneeling prayer with everyone after each lesson and it's been quite a beautiful experience. It's definitely something that brings everyone together and invites the spirit. I made some arepas for Hermana Hammond and showed her how to do it. That was way fun! Since I made lunch she decided to cook some eggs for dinner and well... you'll see how delightful those bad boys turned out in the picture! We just threw them in a tortilla and it worked out haha. They were delicious I promise! 

On Saturday I got to go to the Chicago Temple! SUCH an amazing experience! We went because there was a family getting sealed that Hermana Michael used to visit in her old area. It was so beautiful to meet that family and to see them be sealed together. Every time I go to the temple my testimony is strengthened and I feel so close to my Heavenly Father and my Savior. There's no doubt that the temple is the House of God and I encourage all those who can to go to the temple as often as possible! Make it a priority because the temple can bless our lives and our families in so many ways. 

After we got home from the temple our landlords asked if we could do some service for them by working in our apartment. Sharon is such a gem! While I was touching up one of the doors in our apartment she came up to me and asked how "service points" work. Like if she needed to sign a paper to let President know we were actually doing service haha. I explained to her that we just genuinely love serving others and that all she needed to do was tell us how we could help her. I don't think she expected an answer like that, but she thought it was really cool that the reason we do this is to simply offer our help to others and make them happy; to serve the children of God. (Mosiah 2:17!)

Our investigators are doing pretty well! I really love meeting with them and seeing them progress. We just really need to get them to church so please pray for them! They're so great I love them. 

Well I love you all so much and can't thank you enough for your prayers and support. Keep smiling! 

Hermana Knowles
Elder Dominguez singing happy birthday to himself

Venezuelan cachitos!

el templo

Some street names for Tasha and Tami.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

We Thank Thee Oh God for a Prophet

Ok so... CONFERENCE! Wasn't it amazing? If anyone didn't watch it I most certainly recommend you do that ASAP! There's no doubt in my mind that the leaders of the church have been called of God. Their messages are so precious and I know that as we follow their counsel we will find so much happiness and be able to strengthen our testimonies. The scripture on my missionary plaque was recited like 3 times! Can you say important? Helaman 5:12! We must always look to our Savior and put our trust in Him. He will always take care of us and comfort us. As we face steadfastly towards the Savior we will be able to overcome the trials and temptations in our lives and find peace, guidance, and understanding. Also I may or may not have flipped out a little when Uchtdorf began his message talking about astronomy. That made me so happy! 

Saturday morning was a little crazy. There's this man that another companionship of Hermanas were teaching who got baptized on Saturday in between the sessions of conference! But before he was able to be baptized he needed to get married to the lady he's been living with so there was a wedding in the morning before conference! Then in between the sessions he was baptized. You could say it was a crazy day. Hermana Stout and I decorated the relief society room for the wedding and we were pretty impressed with ourselves. Haha. 

Another miracle! When we got to the chapel on Sunday for conference there was a girl there who we were talking to and she said she hadn't been to church in about six years and just felt like she needed to come back because something was missing in her life. So she just drove herself to conference that morning! How cool is that? We set a time to meet with her and get to know her a little better so I'm definitely excited about that. 

We had our first district meeting of the transfer on Wednesday with the two new members of our district! They're way awesome. Elder Yeates and Hermana Mansfield. We also found out that the missionaries are going to be able to watch Meet the Mormons! I'm way stoked about that! EVERYONE SHOULD GO SEE IT if it's playing in a theater near you. I'm sure it's awesome. I'm going to watch it this week after district meeting! 

I'm quickly realizing the impact my musical background is having on my missionary experience. Not only am I now teaching four kids piano, one of our investigators, a young girl we're teaching, asked me if I would show her how to play a few things on guitar and I was so excited about that! Now we get to share the gospel and our talents when we visit them! What more could I possibly ask for? I absolutely love visiting this family and I'm so thankful we have the opportunity to teach them. The mom prayed for the first time with us the other day and it was amazing! Usually the daughter would pray and her mom would say she'd do it another time, but she finally prayed! Such a blessing! We have another investigator who is also progressing really well. It's amazing as we continue to recognize the various ways the Lord has prepared her to receive our message. Hermana Michael and I have been really blessed in seeing a lot of miracles.

So we went to the mission home to drop off some supplies that the other Hermanas borrowed from the Woodburys for a wedding the other day. We were just expecting to drop them off and be on our way but that most certainly didn't happen! The Woodburys invited us in and we all had dinner together and I even got on the piano and played a few hymns for everyone. That was so unexpected and a little awkward but it was definitely fun. During dinner President shared with us a story from when he was in college and it was absolutely hilarious! So there was a parade and he and his friend thought it would be funny to dress up as clowns and just join in the parade without asking for permission from anyone actually in the parade. How funny is that?! Everyone thought they were apart of the parade and thought they were so funny, but they legitimately just dressed up and acted like clowns in the parade for fun. Such a good idea haha

Quick shout out to the SBCs! I noticed Elder Oaks said forgo at least twice in his talk. That is all. I love you guys! 

Today our landlords are taking us to the museums! I'm stoked! Our landlords are so adorable and they've been looking forward to this for a while and so have we! We got up around 5:45 this morning so we would still be able to have a couple hours of study before we head out because they want to leave at 8:15. I'm so excited to see the museums I hear they're awesome! 

Well I hope everyone is doing so great! I love you all so much and I look forward to hearing from you! 

The church is true, the book is blue.
Keep smiling my beautiful friends and family!

Hermana Knowles

These black eye peas are probably the closest things I'll get to modern day music haha