Monday, December 30, 2013

Hellooooooo from La Follette (December 30)

Hi, everyone!

I hope y'all had a great Christmas! I certainly did!

Our Christmas schedule got a little messed up because Sister Walser was sick, and we didn't want to cross contaminate by going over to the Smiths, where she was resting, and then get everyone else in the branch sick. So we ended up going over to the Kennedy's to Skype, and the were super sweet and fed us biscuits and chocolate gravy afterwards (yum!) and then a little later they fed us dinner. I didn't realize that we were going to get dinner at the Kennedy's at all, but we did and then had two other dinner appointments that night. Classic missionary life. After the Kennedy's we went to the Riggs for dinner #2, and I heard rumor that we were going to have squirrel dumplings, but they didn't end up making them. I was pretty excited to have a truly backwoods Tennessee experience, but they made other more normal things for Christmas. Boring! After the Riggs, we finished our day at the Smiths and luckily they already ate dinner, but we did have some banana pudding :) Sister Walser was feeling good enough to come home on Christmas night, so we took her back home with us. SHE IS SO CRAZY PANTS! I love her so much! She's being transferred on Wednesday, so unfortunately I'll only have the opportunity to serve with her for less than a week! Missionary life is pretty crazy sometimes :) I'm so grateful to have two wonderful companions, however! We get a new companion when we drop Sister Walser off as well, so that should be fun :)

The day after Christmas, one of the elder's investigators, Joel, was baptized. He is so awesome! He has this huge spike-y hair, and snake bites with hipster glasses! He's great! He had been searching for a church for about a year, and in his research, he kept coming across anti-Mormon stuff. He didn't find any church with more anti-material than the Mormon church, so he figured he would look into it. He went to mormon.org and requested a visit with the missionaries, and three weeks later he was baptized. He is so golden! He has such a strong testimony, and he's now preparing to serve a mission! He's the absolute best! I forgot to bring my camera to the library today, but I'll e-mail you a picture next week.

Alley, our investigator, is still preparing to be baptized on Saturday. She has some concerns, but hopefully we can help to resolve them. She is such a sweet girl and is so golden! President Smith's son, Fleet, and his wife, Kima, are really awesome fellow-shippers for her! They are such wonderful teachers, too! It's so great to have them with us when we teach her.

On Sunday morning at church, President Smith asked to talk with me, and he sat me down and talked about how he had called my Dad and spoken with him. He said that they had had a great conversation, and something my dad said really struck him, about how I had said that I really felt like I was called to be here in the South, even though my original assignment was Brazil. He then asked me to talk in Sacrament meeting. Thanks, Dad :) I think my talk went fairly well, even though I literally didn't prepare anything :) I talked about giving up our hearts to the Lord, and he will perfect them and make them better, and then give them back to us. I know it's really hard to accept the Lord's will, and I have also gained a testimony that as we give up everything to the Lord, that He will give us everything in return.

I love y'all so much! Have a great week!

Sister Pennington

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Feliz Natal! (December 23)


Hello, family!

Merry Christmas! Thank you for all of the Christmas goodies I got!  Side note, I haven't opened any of them, even though I started getting presents BEFORE THANKSGIVING! #selfcontrol

So this week has hands down been the CRAZIEST week of my entire life. Not that I've had a very crazy life, but this weeks was truly CRAZY PANTS!
Sister Pennington and her companions

So it all started Monday night. Setting: family home evening with the Kings. Mood: happy and excited about Christmas the following week. Phone rings. It's president Irion...you always answer when President Irion calls. Sister Sume answers the phone...it's for me...I know what you're all thinking...VISA! But, no...no visa for Sister Pennington.

Here's what he was really calling about. A sister in La Follette - a tiny town near the Kentucky border - needed to have her gall bladder removed, and someone needed to come and take her place while she recovered. The doctors said that the recovery time was about two weeks. Keep in mind, transfers are on January 1st - a little over two weeks from when President called me. He said that he had been planning on sending me to La Follette at transfers anyways. La Follette is in our zone, and we had zone conference this past Wednesday; the same day Sister Walser was scheduled for surgery. It worked out perfectly so that I could go to zone conference with my companions and bring all of my things, and then just exchange at zone conference. The Lord is in this work! President Irion is an inspired mission president, and I know that everything worked out exactly as it needed to to allow me to be transferred to La Follette this past week.

Sister Pennington and her companions

So I had one day to pack up all of my things and say goodbye to the people I needed to say goodbye to. I had to buy another suitcase to fit all of my stuff...good times :) I said goodbye to Misty, and that was so hard! Right from the very beginning, I felt like I was sent to Oak Ridge for Misty. I just love her so much and I knew that the message we had to share would change her life and bless her so much. When I told her I was leaving she started crying, and it was so terrible! I just love her to bits and pieces! Later at night, Sister Monteirth came over to our apartment and brought me some going away presents and Christmas presents. She is the sweetest lady in the whole world! I love her so much! I'm going to miss her! She said she already added me on Facebook, so in another year I'll accept her friend request :)

Saying goodbye to my companions was probably the hardest part. I know I e-mailed you just last week saying how much I love them and how much fun I've had this transfer. The last two nights I was in oak ridge, Sister Hatch, Sume and I slept in our living room under the Christmas tree (something we were planning to do on Christmas Eve). They are amazing missionaries and I miss them already!

Their Christmas Tree

Zone conference was really great, and because it was a week before Christmas, we had some wonderful Christmas festivities! After the conference I went back to La Follette with Sister Roundy, my new companion. She is so sweet! She is the cutest, littlest, sweetest sister in East Tennessee! I love her already! I was a little bit worried about the whole transfer situation, but talking with sister Roundy in the car confirmed to me that I'm exactly where I need to be! Sister Roundy told me of some of the struggles they'd been having, and I knew that I was meant to be here right now! My second day here, Thursday, we got our most progressing investigator to set a baptismal date for January 4th! Her name is Alley, and she had a boyfriend serving a mission in Nevada. She's so sweet, and I'm so excited for her to be baptized!

Also, La Follette is the cutest sweetest little town in the whole world! It's so great! There aren't enough people for a ward here, so it's just a branch. And everyone's related! It's awesome! The branch President LITERALLY lives in a holler! It's awesome! When he's not at church, he's in overalls and barefoot. Everyone here is just a gun-loving redneck American, and they are proud of it! I love every single person here! They're fantastic!

That's about all I have time for today, but there's so much I didn't have time to tell you! I'm so excited for the chance I have to skype with you in a few days! Love you so much!

Sister Pennington

Hi there! (December 16)

Hi, there!

I hope y'all had a great week! It was a really weird week for me...

Our Relief Society president works at the Bishop's storehouse here in Knoxville, and because of the craziness around the holidays, she needed a lot of extra help, so we went and helped her out on Wednesday. It was good to help out, but it's always hard being away from our area, because we can't really do our regular missionary work. Then on Thursday, I started getting sick and then by Friday, I couldn't get out of bed! I was congested, and coughing up a lung and had a fever that kept going up. Fridays we usually do weekly planning, which takes about 3 or 4 hours, where we talk about all of the people we're working with and set goals and make plans as to how we can best help them feel the power of the atonement in their lives. I was determined to help the sisters plan for the week, and they knew how sick I was, so they humored me and said I could help plan as long as I was laying down. So they dragged my bed out of the bedroom and set it on the floor in the living room and had me lie down while they were planning. I was asleep in like 2 minutes and stayed out for the rest of the day. It worked out pretty well, however, because the people we were planning on seeing actually called us to cancel on us. I really don't think I could've functioned proselyting on Friday, but it was still really hard to not go out.

 Rewind to Thursday, one of the sisters in Melton Lake, Sister Weight, got hit by a car. She was riding her bike, and she got clipped by a car. It's a miracle she didn't get hurt worse, but she did break her hand. She's an extremely diligent missionary, and even though she was in the emergency room until midnight on Thursday, she still went out on Friday to do missionary work! It kind of took it's toll on her though, and some other issues popped up, so by Saturday she was pretty incapacitated and couldn't go anywhere. An amazing member of the Melton Lake ward, Sister Valdez, volunteered to take care of Sister Weight for the day so Sister Merrell could go out. Sister Merrell asked if I could go with her, so Saturday I spend the whole day in Melton Lake. I was really glad I could help out at least in a small way. Sister Merrell, as you can imagine, was still pretty shaken up from her companion getting hit by a car, and so it was kind of a rough day. To put the cherry on top of the whole mess, she dropped her phone in a puddle, and it stopped working. It was really a tough day for those sisters! Please keep them in your prayers this week! Good news though, we put the phone in a bag of rice and by the end of the day it started working again. Sister Merrell was so happy :) Heavenly Father loves her :) Also, the sisters were able to go to Farragut and spend the night in the mission home with President and Sister Irion, and they are taking her to the doctor today. We have the best mission president in the world, by the way! He came down Thursday night and stayed with Sister Weight until she went home. He made sure that she was given blessings and it was really great.

Anyways, so that was my crazy week, and so I didn't end up spending much time in Poplar Creek working with the people here. We're going back to the bishops storehouse tomorrow and we have a big zone conference on Wednesday, and we'll be away all day. I just love Oak Ridge and I miss it! It's okay though, we'll do the best we can with the time we have :)

I just love my companions by the way! Being with these sisters has been the most fun that I've had on my mission! Even though missionary work is going kind of slow, these sisters are awesome, hard working, obedient missionaries, and I really love them! We're having so much fun this transfer, and I'm so grateful to spend Christmas with such wonderful companions!

Sister Pennington and her companions

I love you all so much! Hope you have a wonderful week!

Sister Pennington

Another Week in Paradise (December 9)

Hello, family!

It's been a fun week :) This weekend was really special and fun because we had both the Christmas party and the Wartburg Christmas parade! (Wartburg is a town in our ward boundaries - it's in the elder's area) It was so much fun! We had some investigators and less active members attend the party, and it was so much fun!
Sister Pennington at the parade with a member of the ward

The parade was also so much fun! The youth designed and built the float. We had elves in the front wrapping presents and the nativity in the back. It was way cute. Also, they made rubber bracelets that say #webelieveinchrist and mormon.org.  The #webelieveinchrist is a twitter account that one of the youth made and will be updating things to it, so it was a great missionary effort. We just walked alongside the float and handed out candy and those bracelets. It was a great time!

The float

We also got to watch the Christmas devotional last night! It was so nice! I hope you all had an opportunity to watch it! It was such a wonderful devotional! I would like to point out that Elder Nelson talked about the most important thing - that through the atonement of Jesus Christ, and living the gospel, we're able to be cleansed from sin, endowed with God's power, and achieve eternal life. Nailed it, Elder Nelson!

Sister Pennington with her companions

I don't have a ton of other things to say, or a ton of time, but I love all of you so much and I hope that you have a wonderful wonderful week!

Sister Pennington

Thanksgiving Week (December 2)

Hi, family and friends!

Thanksgiving as a missionary is so great! Even though I missed my family at home immensely, we got to spend Thanksgiving with my ward family here and it was so awesome! Sister Reano was in charge of the Thanksgiving dinner at the church (of course) with another member, Sister Newport. It was a great meal! We were so full! We got to be with such amazing people for Thanksgiving, and I was so blessed to be able to be with them! We also went to two other members homes, and I kind of felt like six - dinner - Sid...we were way full by the end of the day!

 Thanksgiving with Sister Dods


We started teaching SANTA CLAUS! Not really, his name is Billy Jones, but he is the most jolly man I've ever met! I'll have to get a picture with him next time we meet with him because he is the COOLEST! Plus, he's open to hearing how the restored gospel of Jesus Christ can cleanse him from sin, endow him with God's power and give him the opportunity for eternal life, so that's good :)

Bacon-wrapped turkey

We've been struggling recently to find people to teach, and to help the people we are teaching to progress...In my personal study yesterday I turned to a random page in the Book of Mormon. I opened to Alma 16. Verses 13-14 say, "And Alma and Amulek [one of the greatest missionary companionship in the Book of Mormon]  went forth preaching repentance to the people...and as many as would hear their words, unto them they did impart the word of God, without any respect of persons, continually". These verses called me to repentance a little bit, because it reminded me of the line from Preach My Gospel that says, "teach when you find, and find when you teach". I need to do a better job of teaching everyone we find, members, investigators and less-actives. We should teach every single person we talk with every day, no matter who they are. I think I need to do a better job of that. Verses 16-17 go on to tell the results of Alma and Amulek's dedicated service. It says, "the Lord did pout out his spirit on all the face of the land to prepare the minds of the children of men, or to prepare their hearts to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming - that they might not be hardened against the word, that they might not be unbelieving, and go on to destruction, but that they might receive the word with joy, and as a branch be grafted into the true vine, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord their God". God's doing His part. He's preparing the people to hear the message we have to share. I need to do my part more effectively and do everything I can to share this message with every single person the Lord puts in my path. I know that if I do these things, that I'll have success.

Sister Pennington and her companions with Brother Fleming



I love you all and hope you have a great week!
Sister Pennington

Monday, November 25, 2013

Another hello from Tennessee! (November 25)

Oi, familia!

It's been a crazy pants week! Remember that one time when I told y'all that Sister Sume and I were going to be on our own this next transfer? Surprise! We got a new companion! We had absolutely no idea and it was such a fun surprise! Her name is Sister Hatch, and she was in our zone so we already know her and love her! She's 21, from Idaho Falls, and studying exercise physiology at BYU-I. She is so fun and is so passionate about the gospel! It's going to be a great transfer :)

We had a really successful week! We were able to teach some really great lessons to some really great people. We had one lesson with a really great lady and she kept her appointment with us (which alone is a miracle) and she invited a friend who was interested. They are so sweet and wonderful! We're teaching them next Wednesday, so I'll tell you how they're doing in a few weeks :)

Also, Loren is doing great! She loves coming to church, and she loves learning more about the gospel! In primary, they learned a song to help them know the names of all the apostles and she remembered it and taught it to her family! She is so sweet :) We're seeing if we can get her a picture Book of Mormon. Our primary president thinks she can get a copy, so it's great :) We taught Loren about the Plan of Salvation on Tuesday, and she loved it. She understood it and asked so many wonderful questions about it. While we were teaching her, I could see just how hungry she was to know more about her relationship with Heavenly Father, and I was honored and privileged to be the one who got to tell her that she is God's daughter. I love being a missionary!

Other cool things from the week...We taught a lesson to the best family in the world last night! Sister Jacobsen and Sister Goates found them before I got here in the middle of the summer. They were tracting, and they ran into Jim who let them come in and he gave them some cold water. He's very friendly and kind to us. We just taught him the restoration last night with his wife, and it was so great :) They are such kind and faithful people. I love them so much! They also had a fire going in the fireplace, and they let us roast marshmallows! It was pretty awesome!

Overall it was a pretty great week :) Oh, I almost forgot! We taught Seminary this morning! It was so much fun! I forgot how hard it was to wake up that early! It was a great lesson, and we get to teach tomorrow and Wednesday. They kids are so great! There's one girl, Tian who's 14, and she is so eager about the gospel! She loves church and loves the Lord and she is so excited to serve a mission! We're having her help us teach her family the first discussion next week. She's so sweet and so excited! When we told her we were teaching seminary she was like, "ah, my two favorite things! Seminary and the missionaries!" She's golden!

I love all of you so much and hope you have a wonderful thanksgiving!

Love,
Sister Pennington

Oi, familia! (November 18)

Hello!

This week was pretty crazy pants!

First things first, Sister Goates is being transferred! And Sister Sume and I aren't getting a new companion! We're freaking out! She went into the MTC two weeks before I did! Neither of us know what we're doing! Neither of us know our way around Oak ridge! Ahhh! It's ok...It's all good...the Lord trusts us, so I guess we should trust ourselves too!

Anyways, we're sad to see Sister Goates leave, but the Lord needs her elsewhere, so we're excited to see where she's going :)
                                                                          ;)
Like, I said, it was a crazy week...let me tell you about it.

Let me tell you about last Tuesday. The day started off with us getting a call from the sisters in the town next to us, saying that one of their companions sprained her ankle and needed to stay home, and so because they're in a trio, they asked for one of us to go over with them so someone could stay home with the injured sister while the other two could do missionary work. So Sister Sume spent the day in Clinton, while Sister Goates and I stayed in Oak Ridge. Afterwards, Sister Goates and I stopped by the mailbox to send some letters, and there was a car parked in front of the mailbox, so we had to actually get out of the car to put the envelopes in the mailbox. As we're getting out of the car, we hear, "hey, sisters!" and see that it's William. I don't remember how much I wrote about William, but we were teaching him and his family, and he had a lot of promise, and really wanted to be baptized, but instead of reading the Book of Mormon, he listened to what his friends told him about the religion, (lies, like we think it's a sin to have Obama as a president). He is an alcoholic, and every time we go over, he is extremely drunk and not willing/ physically able to listen to what we have to say. Anyways, he flagged us down, and said that his car was broken down and that he needed us to give him a ride. We're not allowed to drive anyone, for insurance reasons, and so we explained that to him, and he wasn't entirely sober, and he got really angry and went off telling us how we weren't Christian and all of this other stuff. He wasn't listening to what we were saying, so we apologized that we weren't able to help him and we drove off. Our next lesson was with a girl named Rose at the library, and when we got there, we saw a member of our ward as well as the Elders. It was a little crazy pants, but we had the Elders teach Rose about the plan of salvation while we asked the member to follow us in his van to where William was. William's car was still there, but he wasn't. We wrote a note and left it on William's car explaining that we came back with a member to help him, so hopefully he will let missionaries come back in the future. We'll see! Also, we had an investigator call to feed us dinner and share a message! Investigators never do that! Meanwhile, back in Clinton, Sister Sume had to lasso some horses...it was an interesting day.

Secondly, let m tell you about yesterday. Loren, Misty's daughter, came to church and she loved it! It was so cool! She is such a sweet girl! After church, we went to go teach a lesson to a Mexican family we found last week. They don't speak any English. At one point, I probably could've communicated with them in Spanish fairly easily, but since I've been studying Portuguese, I can't speak Spanish. I can understand it, but I really can't speak it. So we took with us a member of our ward who served a Spanish-speaking mission. Before we got out of the car to teach this family, we prayed that we might have the gift of tongues to be able to understand and communicate with this family. It was such a miracle, because I was able to teach the lesson in Spanish, and they understood me! It was such a faith-building experience, and it got me excited to go to Brazil whenever I do get the chance!
                                                      Loren and the missionaries
I love being a missionary! It is the best job in the world, and it's already going by too fast!

I love you all so much and hope you have just wonderful weeks!

love,
Sister Pennington

Hola familia! (November 11)

I hope everything's going well back on the ranch :)

Yes, I cut my bangs! And I let Sister Goates do it! I'm crazy pants! There was somewhat of a miscommunication, because I thought Sister Goates said that she'd cut hair before, but she said that she's only cut boy's hair before with razors... She had no idea what she was doing, but luckily it turned out alright :) One of our investigators told us that he prayed to God every day to make him not ugly. We did the same, and I think it worked out alright :)






                                                   Sister Pennington and Sister Sume
                       
Mormons don't believe in "karma" in the Buddhist sense of the word, but we definitely do believe that for every choice we make there are consequences that result according to the choice we made. Let me tell you a story that exhibits this principle...

Last week, we were going to do a family home evening lesson with a member of the church and her grandson. We went at about 8:30 at night, so it was dark. We knocked on the door and were waiting for Sister King to answer the door. As we were waiting, we noticed this guy dressed in all black with a ski mask who started walking towards us. My initial reaction was annoyance, because I assumed he was here to rob the Kings, and they really just didn't need that at the moment. The guy then proceeded pulled out a rifle and point it at us, and I was pretty sure he was going to shoot us. But, as a hen doth gather her chickens, Sister Goates threw open the door and pushed her little companions in and locked the door. We made the connections, however, and realized that it was really just Sister King's 13 year old grandson who had been planning this prank on the sister missionaries all week. He came up to the door and pulled of his mask and he was pretty proud of himself. It was a pretty awesome prank, I will admit :) As we know, however, there are consequences for all of our actions. This week he was being a hoodlum and he jumped over a fence and fell and broke both of his arms. Don't mess with the Lord's servants - it will come back to you! (disclaimer - I'm completely kidding and in no way feel that his broken arms are a just punishment for his prank :)

Anyways, actual missionary things that happened this week...

A couple of cool things happened, and I'll just do bullet points...

1. We were knocking on doors from addresses we had of people who were previously investigating the church. We didn't find any of them at home, but we saw this nice family outside, and Sister Goates went up to them and started talking to them. She was bold and started right off talking about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and soon found out that they only speak Spanish. That was my cue to go ahead with my "Spangese". We "just happened to have" some Spanish copies of the Book of Mormon in our car (coincidence - I think not!) and in a very rusty and Portuguese sounding Spanish, I was able to explain to them about the restoration, and they said they'd read the book of Mormon, and we're going back to see them on Sunday! They are so sweet!
2. We've been able to teach Misty more and more. She absolutely loves having us come over, and I was telling you about how tough their financial situation is, and she said that she's going to have us over for dinner next week. I can't even get over how much I love her and her family! They are all so awesome! I'll have to get a picture with them this week, and then send it to you next week :)
3. We had a lesson with Adam, the guy I told you about a few weeks ago whom we miraculously found and he is so excited to learn more about eh gospel. Also, he's just awesome! We're excited to teach him more!

I also want to tell you that I love my companions so much! Transfers are coming up, and we're speculating that Sister Goates is going to be transferred...I've loved working with these two sisters and I've learned so much from them!


                         Sister Pennington with Sister Spencer and Elder Bradd from her MTC district

Love you all so much and hope you have a great week!
Sister Pennington

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hi family! (November 4)

Nothing really too much happened this week...

The one miracle that happened, however, is we were finally able to start teaching Misty! I wrote about her a month or so ago, explaining about her extremely difficult medical and financial condition. We've tried very persistently to teach her, but she's always been too sick to see us. It was a complete miracle that she was feeling well enough for us to teach her this past week, and she was so excited and so touched by the message we shared with her. We were also able to start teaching her daughter, Lauren, and she is so excited about church! When we first met Lauren, she thought we were the DCS and even though we explained to her who we were, so was very hesitant to trust us, I'm assuming because of the terrible association she's had in the past with them. But now she loves us so much and is so excited every time we come over/ She has been to activity days several times, and came to church with us last week! She's so cute! She came to the trunk or treat last Wednesday, and we got a really cute picture with her that I'll have to print out and send to you :)

I don't really have a ton else to say, but I suppose I just want to take a moment of gratitude to all of the people from back home and in the mission who have been extremely supportive of me. I can feel all of your love and prayers for me and my family at this difficult time [Grandpa Dale, Tessa's maternal grandfather, died last week]. I love all of you so much and am so grateful for each and every one of you.

Love,

Sister Pennington

Hello There (October 28)

Hi, everyone!

First of all, no one told me that the Red Sox were in the world series! Since when?!

Anywho...

Quick funny story: We are so blessed to get such wonderful dinners from members of the ward! Because the members are so kind and generous and want to give the very best meals for the missionaries, they almost always have dessert! It's delicious and also terrible because we have ridiculous desserts every day! Anyways, we thought it might be a good idea to write "no dessert for the sisters" on the top of the meal calendar that members sign up to feed us on. Everyone in the ward was absolutely scandalized! They couldn't believe that we wouldn't eat dessert. Every single member we've seen this week expressed their concern for us in not having dessert at the member's homes. Sister Monteirth made muffins because she wanted to get around the no dessert thing, but also to feed us dessert. We went and saw sister Dods (the adorable old lady I mentioned in my first e-mail home who receives inspiration on the toilet) and she had the saddest look on her face and said, "I know you said no dessert, but I made you all bags of treats!" So we went home with bags full of treats. Yesterday we crossed that out on the meal calendar and wrote "never mind" life is just easier when you let the members feed you dessert :)

Highlight, we had a zone conference where Elder Coorbride of the Quorum of the 70 came and did a training. It was so awesome! He talked about what "the most important thing" we want our investigators to know is. He explained it as taking our investigators on a road trip. First we need to determine the destination, and then we need to establish the route and then execute it. Within the context of missionary work (or life) the destination we want to reach is being endowed with God's power and partaking of the blessings of eternal life. The route we take to get there is The Gospel (or doctrine) of Jesus Christ, or faith in Christ and His sacrifice for our sins, repentance, baptism, receiving he gift of the holy ghost and enduring to the end. Therefore, the most important thing we need to teach to our investigators is The Gospel of Jesus Christ, namely faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost and enduring to the end. No matter what we're teaching to our investigators, whether it be the restoration, or the plan of salvation, or any of the commandments, if we're not focusing them on the The Gospel, then we're not fulfilling our purpose as missionaries. That opened my eyes up a little bit, because I'm not sure I had been focusing on "the most important thing", and I think as I implement that in my teaching, I'll be able to help people understand the importance of the message.

We had a miracle happen yesterday,
About a month ago, we were tracting and we had a member of the ward, Angela Pinkam, with us who is now in the MTC on her way to the Phillipines. Because there were 4 of us, we did a split, and I went with Sister Jacobsen while Angela went with Sister Goates. Sister Goates and Angela met this awesome couple, Adam and Tiffany, who seemed just golden. They were so excited when we got back together, and we made plans to see them the following week. When we went back, it turns out that they moved! We had no idea where they'd gone, and we had no way of finding their new address. We were pretty bummed, because Sister Goates had been so excited and felt so good about them, and now we wouldn't be able to teach them. Yesterday, however, we were contacting some of our potentials in an apartment complex. We tried a few doors, and none of them were there. We drove away, and I realized I'd forgotten a name on the list who lived in the apartment complex. We went and tried to contact them, but they weren't there. As we drove away, this happened a second time, and so we went back. I am a forgetful person, but not usually to this extent. None of  the people we tried to contact were there, but just as we were about to leave for the third time, guess who we saw? Adam! Coincidence? I think not! We didn't have time to teach him right then, but we'll have an opportunity to go back sometime this week and now we know where we can find him! And, he seemed really excited to see us and talk with us! 1 Nephi 1:20 says that the tender mercies of the Lord are over us so that we can be strengthened. So true, Nephi!

Love you all so much and hope that you have a great week!

Sister Pennington

It's starting to get cold (October 21)

Hi, everyone!

It's definitely fall here! The leaves are changing and it's just beautiful! It feels like a New England fall! It's also just a tad more chilly than I was anticipating...I'm definitely going to Goodwill to get some sweaters :)

This week has been just a little bit slow...which is really not good for missionary work. Because we're no longer teaching Cindy, we only have 1 progressing investigator, Shuntine the Chinese man who will only let us come over every other week, and only a few other investigators. (a progressing investigator means an investigator who's taken 1 or more lessons and is keeping commitments that you extend, such as reading from the Book of Mormon or attending church). We've been trying to focus on finding new people to teach, and it's been a little bit slow going. We've been contacting people who have previously investigated the church, and we haven't been able to find anyone to teach yet, but hopefully as we keep going through the list, we'll be able to find people!

That being said, we have had some different adventures this week...

Occasionally we do exchanges, where sister missionaries switch companions with the sister training leaders. We do these about once a transfer. We had our exchange on Wednesday, and I was the one who left. I spent Tuesday night and Wednesday in Knoxville with the sister training leader, sister Burningham and one of her companions, sister Turner, while the other sister training leader came here to Oak Ride. It was really interesting to be in another area just for the day! We had a chance to contact a woman who had met missionaries before, but never had taken the lessons. We were able to teach her about the Book of Mormon, and when we explained that the "climax" of the book is when Jesus Christ visits the people here in America, her face just lit up! She was so excited and interested to know that Christ visited the people here! She was so sweet! We also went to a really awesome member's home for dinner and it was so much fun :) Meanwhile back at the ranch, sister Goates started to get sick. By the time we exchanged back on Wednesday night, sister Goates was really sick. On Thursday, Sister Goates was too sick to do anything, so Sister McGavin, the bishop's wife, volunteered to look after Sister Goates while Sister Sume and I went about our day. Sister Sume just finished her training a few weeks ago, and I'm still being trained so it was just a tad terrifying and extremely humbling to go out on our own. Sister Sume got permission to drive the car (because normally only the senior companion is allowed to drive) and because she had only been here for a week and a half, she had no idea where she was going. All of you who know me know that I can't navigate and I can't read a map. So it was truly a miracle that we only got lost ONCE! In an entire day of missionary work, I was able to direct us EVERYWHERE we had to go! It was literally a miracle! Luckily Sister Goates is feeling better now - another miracle :)

Saturday was probably the most random day that I've had yet on my mission! We got a referral from a member in Canada for her Grandmother, named Celeste, who lives here in Oak Ridge. I don't remember if I told you about her, but she is a concert pianist and piano teacher. We went to her recital last week and helped out with refreshments. She is so sweet and kind to us :) She is from Italy and is the classiest lady ever. We stopped by on Saturday, and she invited us in and told us her life story and her religious background, and how her daughter joined the church and now she has a granddaughter serving a mission in London. She invited us to come to mass with her that evening, so we went with her. It was interesting attending mass while wearing a missionary badge :) People were very friendly to us and very kind. After mass, Celeste took us out to dinner and we got to talk to her more about the similarities between Catholicism and Mormonism and she was very sweet. She said that she hoped that there were people who were being kind to her granddaughter in London and taking them out to dinner and things like that. It was great :) She is such an amazing lady! (awesome side notes, her father was a composer in Europe and he had one of the original Strativarious violins (I don't know if that's how you spell it) and he was in Africa directing a concert during WWII when he was held prisoner of war and his violin was stolen! Also, her daughter was in India during one of the terrorist attacks a few years ago (Mumbai, or Bombay, I can't remember) and she was shot three times. The doctors said she wouldn't be able to walk again, but she ran the Boston Marathon last year! She wrote a couple books about it. The name she writes under is Rudrani Devi - you should look her up! Also, Celeste has these priceless chandeliers from Italy that I'll try to get a picture of the next time we're there!)

Anyways, I love you loads and hope that you're all doing well!

Sister Pennington

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hello from Tennessee

Hi, family!

Alright, so it's been a very eventful week, and so I'll try to type extra fast to get through everything.

Firstly, transfers! We said goodbye to Sister Jacobsen on Wednesday and she went off to serve in the Ashville stake which is in North Carolina! It's apparently very beautiful there, and she seems to be doing well!

We also picked up our new companion, Sister Sume! She is 21, and is from West Jordan, Utah. She went into the mission field when I went into the MTC, so she's been out one more transfer (6 weeks) than I have. She served in Farragut before she came here :)

Anyways, I guess we should go with the bad news first...Cindy cancelled her baptismal date and kind of dropped us. We haven't been able to have a lesson with her in 3 weeks, and she's had a lot of questions and concerns especially about modern day prophets and commandments. We were finally were able to schedule a lesson with her and we set it up so it was going to be in a member's home, and she called us right before the lesson and cancelled. We were in another appointment, so we couldn't answer the phone so she just left a voice mail saying that she wanted to stop meeting with us for a while and think about things, and that she was looking at some other churches now. She said that she'd give us a call if she felt like she wanted to become a member.

As missionaries, we don't want to compel people to convert people to this religion. We really truly don't and if people don't want to accept our invitations, that's completely fine. We are only here the invite and to help.

With Cindy, however, I was able to see the joy and the light that she was able to gain from the gospel during our lessons. She is such a spiritual woman and has been searching so long for the truth, and I could tell in our lessons that she knew what we were teaching was true. She loves the Book of Mormon and told us that it feels like what she's been searching for her whole life.

Anyways, after we listened to the message, we prayed and felt very strongly that we should go see her as soon as possible. We weren't able to see her that same night, but the next day we were able to see her, and we talked to her for about an hour about what's going on. She has lots of questions and concerns about things, and we tried to help her understand that these concerns all go back to whether or not Joseph Smith was a prophet and really did restore the Lord's church. We talked about how reading the Book of Mormon is how we are able to gain that testimony, and she said that she would continue reading and praying.

We haven't lost all hope with her yet. I know that if she really does earnestly read the Book of Mormon and pray with a sincere heart, she will come to know that this church is true.

Heavenly Father has been so merciful to us, however. We were pretty bummed about Cindy, but we were able to get 5 new investigators this week! That is more than we had all of last transfer! It was a flat out miracle! We started teaching this Indian family and they are so sweet and so open. The mother is very shy about her English, although she speaks very well, and so when we asked her to read the Book of Mormon before our next visit, she said that she wouldn't. We asked her if we found a Book of Mormon in Hindi would she read it, and she said yes. Challenge accepted! We called the mission office the next day, and they "just happened to have" a Hindi Book of Mormon. Coincidence? I think not! Anyways, we showed up three days later with the Hindi Book of Mormon and gave it to her. I don't think that she thought we'd actually get one, but she promised to read it, so it's all good :)

Also, we started teaching the Sanders family. We met them a few weeks ago on a "faith walk" I think I mentioned that. He's the one who went inside and got his entire family before we prayed :) Anyways, we came back earlier this week and prayed with the father again, and he was going into a job interview and he said that he'd been looking for a job for a long time. We prayed that his interview would go well and that if it was the Lord's will that he would get the job. He called us the next day to tell us that he got the job! It was incredible! We came back to teach him and his family and they were all so great. I felt very strongly that I should be bold with him and tell him that he should get baptized, and he said that he really wanted to! Him, his wife and two of his kids also said that they wanted to be baptized! What?! Anyways, they're such a wonderful family, and they are so excited to learn more about the gospel, and so we're going to teach him about the restoration tomorrow! So exciting!

I've come to realize just how true the saying is that when God closes a door, he open a window (or 5!)

Anyways, I love you all so much and appreciate so much the e-mails, letters and prayers.

Sister Pennington

Sunday, October 13, 2013

This week!

Hi everyone!

This week was pretty different than normal missionary weeks. We helped out at the ecumenical storehouse on Wednesday, which provides furniture for people in emergency situations who don't have any furniture in their homes. People come in and tell us what they need and we get to go through with them and help them pick out which things they want. It was so amazing! I helped this one woman who had nothing in her home. She was a single mom with an adorable 6 year old daughter. We were able to fill up her van with all of the furniture she needed. She was so grateful to us and the help that we gave her! She said that she was  looking for a church, so I gave her the address and time of ours, and hopefully we'll see her next week!

Funny story, we were contacting a potential investigator, and upon talking with him for a few minutes, it because very clear that he was extremely drunk. He was completely harmless, but it was an absolute waste to time to talk with him because guaranteed he wouldn't be able to remember anything we were saying. But he started to preach to us, and he got up really close to our faces and was saying, "you have the holy spirit, and you have the holy spirit, and you have the holy spirit" pointing to each of us in turn. We went on to do a nice little sermon that didn't really make any sense. It was pretty funny though.

I forgot to mention that last week was Sister Goates' birthday, so we went on a fun little explore in the woods, and it was really fun :)

Highlight of the week, however, was conference! It was so great! There's a wonderful member here, Sister Conneley, and she had meals between sessions for all 6 of the missionaries in the ward, recent converts, less active member and non-members. She had lunch on Saturday, breakfast and lunch on Sunday! She is so amazing!

Conference was absolutely amazing! If any of you missed it, members, non-members, go back and watch it! My favorite talk (if I had to pick one) was President Uchtdorf from the Saturday Morning session. It was amazing! Ya'll should watch it!

Sad news, Sister Jacobsen is being transferred on Wednesday :( Sister Goates and I will be staying here in Oak Ridge and we'll be getting a new companion (because they never leave a visa waiter in a companionship of only two people because as soon as I get my visa I go to Brazil). Sister Jacobsen will find out where she's going on Wednesday.

I don't have any stories that are too exciting this week, but I love the people I'm working with so much! I'm excited to go to Brazil someday, but I'm excited to be here now! I know there are people here that the Lord had put in my path to be a kind and loving to as I can!

I love you all so much and appreciate all of your love and prayers!

Sister Pennington

Monday, September 30, 2013

Yet another Week (9/30)

Hi everyone!

I hope y'all had a good week!

I'm just going to do bullet points because I want to have time to send pics...

- We do what's called a "faith walk" when we have only a short amount o time between appointments, and it's where we pick a road to walk down, and just talk to everyone we see and have faith that we're going to find someone we can help or who is interested in the gospel. We did this on Tuesday, and we met a guy named William. We met him outside his home, and asked him if he would want to say a prayer with us, and he told us to wait and he ran inside. A few minutes later, he came back out with his entire family! It was so great! We prayed with them, and asked them if we could teach them, and they said we could. We gave them a Book of Mormon, and we're going back to teach them this week :)

Sister Pennington's district

- We taught a lesson to one of the recent converts in our ward, and he's been struggling recently and it was such a great lesson! We taught him about personal revelation, and it was so cool to see how perfect that lesson was for him at that time! It was an awesome lesson not just for him, but also for me! My companions are such spiritual giants it's great!

- Kind of sad, but also hilarious story... we accidentally ran over a baby raccoon, and Sister Goates is kind of like me about animals, but maybe even a little bit worse. Anyways, before our next appointment she said the prayer and she prayed for the raccoon. All three of us just started laughing in the middle of the prayer. I think Heavenly Father was probably laughing a little bit too :)

Tessa's companions :)

- The person who's baby shower we went to a few weeks ago had her baby! We went over and saw her and she was so cute! #2daysoldisprettylittle

- We had a great lesson with 2 of our investigators, Shunteen and Lenlu. They have little to no Christian background and they've been progressing very slowly, but on Saturday, Shunteen (the husband) volunteered to say the closing prayer. It was such a powerful prayer! It was amazing!

- Cindy came to church with us on Sunday, and during Sunday School, we met with the bishop, and we got into some SUPER deep doctrinal stuff by accident, and so that was a good time. I think it will be ok, but she was a little overwhelmed with all of the stuff that got brought up.

Sister Pennington and her companions with Cindy at church


- The ward mission leader, Brother Flemming, has a tradition of giving all the new missionaries a Swiss army knife that he calls a, "holy spirit knife"  because when we have the holy spirit with us we have lots of tools, and when we have our holy spirit knife, we also have lots of tools :) it was kind of adorable, and now I have a cute little white pocket knife

The kids in the ward wanted a picture with the matching sister missionaries ;)

- Yesterday was really cool because we had the chance to go to an open house/ desert night for a girl, Angela, in our ward who is leaving for the MTC next Wednesday. She's going to the Phillipines! It's hard to believe that I was in Angela's place three months ago! I remember the sisters coming to my open house, and looking at their confidence and their sweet determination to boldly do the Lord's work and thinking that I would never really feel like a missionary. I definitely still have moments of uncertainty, but the validity of my ordination and calling have been reaffirmed to me time and again as my mission has progressed. Before we begin teaching the lessons to a new investigators, we have a lesson with them where we explain our purpose and establish expectations. One of the points that we try to communicate to our investigators is that we have truly been called by a prophet of God to share what we know, and we know that our message is true.

I know that I have been called of God to share this message. I know that it is true.

I love you all so much!

Sister Pennington

All the sisters in the district who accidentally matched

Hi everyone!

 Hi!

I only have 25 minutes to write this e-mail, and I want to send some pics, but I'm not sure if I'll have time...so please excuse my grammar and or spelling/ I might have to go with the bullet point approach...we'll see :)

Sister Pennington and her companions on P-Day


I'm excited for the fall here! It's starting to get cool and the leaves are changing! I definitely feels like home!

It was a good week this week! Cindy was able to make it to church on Sunday, and she really enjoyed it! It was so great! She is on my list of favorite humans ever made. She's the best!

Anyways, we didn't do anything too out of the ordinary this week. Just goin' though the day teaching people about the gospel an eating desert (EVERYONE feeds us desert). It's a good life.

We met with this really old Colombian lady this week, and so I tried to teach a lesson to her in Spanish. It was tough! I kept saying things in Portuguese or with Portuguese intonation...also she was really old, so I'm not quite sure how much she was able to retain...she did feed us cream puffs, though, so we must've done something right :)
  
The people we're teaching here are so wonderful and I love them so much. Almost all of the people we're teaching have severe financial, medial and or family problems. I was blessed to grow up without the same hardships that these people experience. Two specific examples from this week particularly stick out in my mind.

The first is a couple named Dustin and Misty. We contacted them through referrals from members, and we went over. It took a while for us to be able to meet with them, because Misty is very sick, and we would always come over at bad times for her. We came over one day, and she was talking about how she couldn't afford her medication, so her husband was out looking for lawns to mow so that they could scramble money together to get her the medication that she needs. We went and cleaned her kitchen for her, and that was really all that we could do. She was so sweet and appreciative of our visit. We're going back this week to start teaching her. I'm so excited to be able to share the peace and comfort that can come from the gospel.

The second experience is with a girl named Jane. Before I got here, Sister Goates and Sister Jacobsen were teaching her and she was getting it and she was loving it. After a while, however, every time they knocked on her door, people would answer the door and say she wasn't home. The sisters tried back a few more times, but stopped going as frequently. Jane is in her very early 20s. Anyways, on Saturday, by absolute chance (i.e. the hand of the Lord) we found her on her front porch as we were driving by. We pulled over and went up to talk to her. She is so miserable. She wants to leave and move to a better place, but she feels like she has nowhere to go. We weren’t able to talk too much so we set up an appointment to take her out to lunch. I didn't want to leave her when we were done talking. She had said to Sister Goates and Sister Jacobsen that she felt safe when they were teaching her. I could tell that she felt safe while we were there. I got in the car, and I almost started crying and my heart just ached for her because of her bad situation. We called the relief society president and got some contact information for an organization that can help her in Oak Ridge, so we'll give that to her tomorrow. I hope that we can help her.

Sorry to end with kind of downer stories, but I hope that next week I will be able to write about how we were able to help, and I truly know that because we have the strength an power of Jesus Christ with us we can help others to overcome any challenges they are facing in their life. I absolutely love everyone I meet. I can see and feel deep in my heart how important each of these people are to our Heavenly Father, and I'm so honored that He entrusts me with finding those in need and using His power and authority to help them.

I love all of you so much and hope that you are all doing well!

Much love,

Sister Pennington

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I've lost track of what week it is...but here's yet another e-mail!

Hello everyone!

I hope all of you have had a truly wonderful week! I know I have :)

So I felt kind of guilty about the "incident" last week, so I e-mailed my mission president just to make sure that it was all good and here's what he said back,

"Sorry about your "Close encounter of the lecherous kind"! To avoid it in the future you might consider "pepper spray" or a taser."

This is why I love my mission president!

Anyways, this week has been really good!

Firstly, some facts about the Tennessee Mission...
last year, there were only about 100 missionaries, 20 of which were sisters.
Now, we have almost 200 missionaries, 80 of which are sisters. The mission has doubled, and almost half of the mission is sisters! Yay!

Because of the number of sister missionaries, they've created a new calling, called a "Sister Training Leader", and she has a similar responsibility to zone leaders, in that she does exchanges with other missionaries in the zone to help train them. We did an exchange with one of our sister training leaders, so Sister Goates went up to Chilhowe (I don't know if that's how you spell it) and Sister Burmingham, the sister training leader, came down here to Polar Creek which happened to be her first area. It was really cool for her to be back where she was 7 months ago, and so we went and saw some investigators and less active members that she had worked with when she was here. The coolest part of our day, was when we visited a less active member that Sister Burmingham had worked with. Sister Jacobsen had met her once a few months ago, but at the time she wasn't really keen on meeting with the missionaries, and she wasn't very open. When we went on Wednesday, however, she was so inviting and open! It was so cool! We found out that her 17 year old daughter was pregnant, and she actually invited us to her baby shower which happened to be on Saturday. (coincidence...I think not!) The baby shower was put on by the Young Women's presidency, which is probably a little unorthodox, but it was awesome! Samantha, the daughter, felt very loved and included by the members, and she seemed like she really liked us being there! I didn't think that the first baby shower I'd go to would be on my mission...but it's all good! I also enjoyed the fact, that of the three games that we played, we won two. Haha good times :)

A note about the members here...they are so kind to us and so supportive of us! Sister Monteirth, whose been sending you pictures from dinner, is so sweet and so excited about missionary work! We took her with us to meet with Cindy and they connected instantly! She is so great! We have another wonderful ward missionary, Sister Grant, and on her days off she goes with us to teaching appointments! She also lets us use her washer on P-day (because we don't have one) and feeds us all the time! Another excellent ward missionary is Sister Connley! She is so wonderful! She has a daughter serving a mission in California right now, and so she is very sensitive to us! She made us a wonderful "olive garden meal" last night consisting of the Zuppa Tuscana, salad (with the salad dressing) and bread sticks! It was so good! She's also doing a get together after conference in a few weeks, and she's inviting us and the elders and some investigators. We're invited Cindy and she's so excited to come! Sister Sorensen is another wonderful ward missionary, and she's driven us to zone conference, come to teaching appointments and fed us food. She's the best! Sister Scarborough and her husband were baptized just 6 months ago, and she just got the calling of missionary meal coordinator. She is so sweet! She wants so badly to do a good job! She wanted to make sure we had a meal every single night (which doesn't happen) so she signed herself up to feed us twice in one week! She is so sweet! (side note, we love working with Brother and Sister Scarborough in helping them to be sealed in the temple - they are so excited!) One of my absolute favorite people is Brother Flemming. He is the ward mission leader, and he magnifies his calling like no one I've ever seen! He is so wonderful! He goes out with the missionaries (usually sisters can only do team ups with females and elders can only do team ups with men, but because Brother Flemming is so awesome, he has special permission to go on team ups with us!) He is such a sweet guy, and he absolutely loves the missionaries and loves the investigators that we teach! He's the best!

Sorry that rant about ward members was so long, but I'm just amazed at the love and generosity that these people have for the missionaries! there are even more people who I didn't mention who are so great to us!


Cindy's still golden, by the way! She is the absolute best to teach! She couldn't make it to church yesterday, so we're pushing back her baptism to October 19th, but that's going to be perfect because it gives her a chance to watch conference, which she's really excited about!

All in all it's been a great week! I love you all so much and miss you all like crazy pants!

Love,

Sister Pennington

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Week 2 in the Mission Field

Hello, everyone!

I love you all so much and miss you all like crazy pants!

I don't remember if I wrote about this in my last e-mail, but my mission president and his wife are so wonderful! They are so sweet to us, and they really are like surrogate parents for us! Fun fact, Sister Irion is Elder Nielson's daughter ... we were taking a picture and she said, smile because Elder Nielson is going to see this! Kind of crazy ...

I'm growing to love Tennessee more and more every day! The people are just phenomenal! We went tracting in a very poor area of Oak Ridge (which is already not the most affluent town in east Tennessee) and the people were so open and kind, and we ended up giving out 8 copies of the Book of Mormon, and we got two return appointments! Although, one of the return appointments we probably won't be going to... So we did a peace and blessings prayer with this older man, who was missing his front 4 teeth. He was really sweet, but it was hard to understand him. After we said the prayer, he was talking, but I was having trouble understanding him. He seemed interested, and he asked for our number, which is normal, and we gave it to him. We asked if we could come back to teach a message and he said we could as long as we stayed for dinner, which again seemed fairly normal. He then started talking about how he needed to find a wife, and I didn't really follow what was going on, but it was all good, I didn't really think much of it. Anyways, we left and knocked on some more doors, and on our way back to our car, we saw him talking to some woman in the street. He saw us, and came over to me, and pulled me in for a hug and then kissed me on the cheek! I ran to the car so fast! My trainers were laughing so hard. It was pretty funny. Anyways, don't worry, I've realized my naivety, and so we're not going back. We're sending the elders, so they can have fun with Derek :)

Anyways, big excitement, we set a baptismal date for Cindy! She's going to be baptized on September 28th! She is so excited! There's a scripture in the Book of Mormon that says, "...Angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is or the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word..." (Alma 13:24) This is absolutely the case with Cindy. She keeps telling us that everything we're teaching her "clicks" and feels familiar. She is such a spiritual woman, and has searched her whole life to find truth. She says that everything she's done thus far has led her to hearing the gospel at this time.

She had the opportunity to attend the baptism of someone else yesterday, and she was just beaming the whole time. It was really cool, because as missionaries, we are entitled to receive revelation for our investigators. I really felt that during the baptism. During the service, I was able to discern exactly which parts were touching her heart, and sure enough every time I looked over she had tears in her eyes. It was so incredible.

I love you all so much and hope all is well with you!

Sister Pennington

Thursday, September 5, 2013

First Week in the Mission Field

Hi, everyone!

I'm sorry that it's been so long since I've had a chance to e-mail you!  But my new p-day is Monday, but since yesterday was labor day, the library was closed and we had nowhere else to e-mail. No worries, though, I will be able to e-mail next Monday :)

I don't have my new address in front of me, but you send everything through the mission office. I'm sure you can look up the address of the Tennessee Knoxville Mission online (it's in the city of Farragut if that helps... [aside from Christie, it was extremely difficult to find but here it is:
11320 Station West Dr. Ste 101
Farragut, TN 37934
It is still easier to send her email, but if you need to send a letter use that- now back to Tessa]).  And if you send any packages, you have to send them priority or first class so that the post office will forward it for free...otherwise, my stuff will be stuck in Farragut...

Anyways, I'm absolutely loving Tennessee! The people here are so nice and I'm absolutely loving getting to know them! My area is Oak Ridge TN, in the Poplar Creek ward. Apparently Oaks ridge was the site of the Manhattan project, so the high school mascot is an atom, which is kind of fun :) Also, they have nuclear hazard drills occasionally, which is also kind of fun :)

I traveled from Salt Lake to Knoxville with a group of 28 missionaries! We had a full battalion of Heleman's army.  I sat next to one of the Elders from my district at the MTC, and we ended up talking to a man across the isle from us, and we gave him a Book of Mormon. I bought a few and made a cute little scripture chain about the purpose of the Book of Mormon. He liked it and said that he'd read it. #plantingseeds

We got to the mission home, and we met the mission president and his wife, and they are so sweet! I like them a lot! We spent the night there, and the next day we went to transfer meeting, and I met my new companions!

I'm in a trio, by the way, so I get to have two trainers instead of one! Their names are Sister Jacobson and Sister Goates. They are both so sweet! They're both from central/ southern Utah and have been out for around 4 months. They compliment each other really well! Sister Goates is extremely loving and gentle, and Sister Jacobson is very bold! It is so interesting teaching with the two of them.

The members here are so sweet, and so excited to help us missionaries! My first night here, all of the missionaries in our ward went to dinner at a member's home. This family, the Reanos, has 8 kids. In our ward, we have both sisters and elders, and the elders are also a trio. So Sister Reano made dinner for her 8 kids, 6 missionaries and herself and her husband. It was so crazy pants! Her youngest (an 11 month old) was chillin' under the table for a while, and the kids were running around. I loved every second of it! It was so much fun!

Sister Dods is an 83 year old member in the ward here, and she is by far our best missionary! She is so excited about missionary work! She sends out weekly e-mails to ward members, and upon seeing that we didn't have enough dinner appointments, she wrote a very strongly worded e-mail to try and encourage members to have us over for dinner. It was adorable. She also texted us one night (yes, she texts) and said, "you have to get over here right now!" We thought she'd fallen, or something, so we rushed over there and when we got there and asked her what was wrong, she said that she had had a brilliant idea while she was on the toilet. (this is all a real conversation, keep in mind). Anyways, she said that she had the idea that she would go around to doctor's offices and "donate" a Book of Mormon to the reading table with the missionaries numbers in it and an address and time for Sunday church. She was so excited about it. I love sister Dods!

Tracting here is a little different here than it is in other places. We go around and do what's called "peace and blessings". We knock on people's doors and ask them if we can say a prayer with them, and in the prayer we say, "by virtue of our calling as missionaries, and as representatives of Jesus Christ, we ask for the Savior's peace and blessings on this home" and then we say a normal prayer. It's really cool, and invites the spirit. We did it to this one house and when the woman opened the door, she barely cracked it and was hesitant to let us pray with her. After the prayer, however, she opened right up and we talked with her for over an hour! She even accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon!

I don't really have more time, but next week I'll have half an hour longer so I'll talk more then!

love you loads!

Sister Pennington

Another picture sent by a member who had the missionaries over for dinner!


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Knoxville, Tennessee

Hello all!

Tessa has made it safely to Tennessee!  Once she has a P-Day she will email us her address.  Until then, you can email her (tessa.pennington@myldsmail.net).  If you really feel like sending her a snail mail, you can send it to the mission home and it will get to her eventually (this is not the best way to get it to her, but will work ;)  The mission home address is:

11320 Station West Dr. Ste 101
Farragut, TN 37934

I will update this with her next letter and her new address as soon as we get it!  Thanks!

Arrived safely in Tennessee!

*Update- Dad just got an email from a member in Knoxville who had the missionaries over for dinner today (Sunday).  They sent this picture:

"Your sons and daughters were in our home for dinner today.  What a great bunch of missionaries!  You have much to be proud of.  They are all serving in our ward (Popular Creek) here in Oak Ridge."

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Last Week at the MTC

This is Christie - Tessa's visa has still not come through so she has been temporarily reassigned to ... the TENNESSEE KNOXVILLE MISSION.  She will be leaving Tuesday, August 27th!

Tessa's district impatiently waiting reassignments

Here is her letter from this week!

Oi, familia!

Besides my reassignment, here are some other interesting things that happened this week...

More impatiently waiting ...

- other reassignments: four other people in my district going to TN, a bunch going to Colorado Springs and Denver, one going to Idaho, and one going to Virginia and one got her visa! hooray sister Guynn!

All of the TN reassignments

- Sunday was a good day - my favorite part was watching the MTC devotional President Holland gave the missionaries for Thanksgiving last year. He brought his whole family and they all participated in the devotional, and it was a really nice meeting. He had his granddaughter who received her call to Italy give a talk and it was really cool to listen to her speak.

- Monday: Sister Spencer's foot was still hurting her, so we got to go off campus to see a podiatrist!  I never thought that I'd be so excited to go to the doctor's in my life, but we've been inside MTC campus for the past month, and I was pretty excited to be able to get off campus. I love the MTC, but I'm very excited to leave to the mission field!

- Tuesday: Funny story: We had devotional, and at this point Sister Spencer was on crutches. So we got to take the shuttle. They were not expecting as many injured missionaries, I guess, so they told me that on the way back, I would have to walk, and sister Spencer could take the shuttle. No problem, right? wrong. For those of you who are unfamiliar with missionary rules, one of the most important standards is that you are literally always with your companion. You have to get consent from leaders to go on an exchange with a missionary who isn't your companion, and you are never ever to be alone. So, seeing as how there were 2500 missionaries at this devotional, we couldn't find our district leader, or anyone from our district. So after the devotional, Sister Spencer went off and took the shuttle, and I hoped that I would be able to find someone from my district or zone to be on an exchange with. Luckily I found some sisters from my zone, and they walked be to the shuttle station to pick up Sister Spencer. And guess what...she wasn't there! You can probably imagine my panic when I saw that my now crippled and alone companion had been lost. I had the the sisters walk me back to the classroom, where we were having a devotional debrief as a district, and guess who was sitting in on the meeting: my branch President, President Brough! I think that I certainly have a knack for poor timing! I walk into the room, and the sisters I was with leave before President Brough could see them, and the class was already all there and discussing the devotional. I had to interrupt them and in a very frazzled manner explain why I was late and companionless. It was awesome. So I got another sister to walk with me to the bus station, and finally her shuttle pulls up and we're able to all walk back together. It turns out, that she got on the shuttle for all of the senior couples, and they were being dropped off at their houses, so Sister Spencer got a nice little tour of Provo :)


All friends from Tessa's freshman ward

- Wednesday: we finally procured (scavenged and "acquired") cushioned rolley desks on Tuesday! The desks we had previously could be likened to seats made of the world's hardest concrete. So the rolley desks were a very exciting step up. We were hosts for the new missionaries today, so we greeted the families on the curb and brought the missionaries to get all of their books and dropped them off at their residence and then their classroom. While we were out of the classroom for that space of time, all of our rolley desks were stolen and replaced with the terrible chairs! All of the missionaries in our district were devastated! I suppose we'll survive, but I don't know. We'll see ;)


Tessa and Sister Spencer in the "rolley desks"

- Thursday: The highlight of my week. We had "In-field orientation all day". It was so awesome and got me so excited for going into the mission field next week! We focused mainly on our purpose as missionaries, which is to invite others to come unto Christ, and receive the restored gospel through Faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, Repentance, Baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. We talked about what this means, and other things like that, but the thing we talked about that struck me the most, was our discussion about the missionaries responsibility to be worthy to teach the gospel. We talked about how if we are not living the gospel and if we are not worthy of teaching it, then our investigators will not be able to receive our message. That certainly put a lot of pressure on me! I know that the Lord has prepared people for me to teach. They are ready to hear our message, and they are ready to follow Jesus Christ. It is dependent on the missionary to find these people, and to find these people we need to be enough in harmony with God that he can direct our paths to these people.

I'm so excited to start working in the mission field next week, and I hope that I will be able to find those people who are "only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it". (D&C 123)

I love you all so much, and hope that everything is going well!

Love,

Sister Pennington

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Week 5 at the MTC

Hi everyone!

Thank you again so much for all of the loving notes I got this week! It is so great to hear from all of you!

So this e-mail is going to be super disorganized...I don't really know where to start!

This is my 5th week in the MTC, which means that next week is my last week before going off into the mission field. Seeing as how my visa coming is a very unlikely event, I am expecting to be temporarily reassigned somewhere in the states next Thursday or Friday until my visa comes. Any guesses as to where I'll be going?

Tessa at the Provo Temple

On Friday, we got to do TRC! It was so awesome! We met with a member from Brazil, and we talked with her about prayer and it was really great. She was so sweet! They were short volunteers for the Spanish TRC, so sister Acavedo jumped all over that, and she asked if I could do a split with her to volunteer as Spanish speakers for missionaries to teach. My brain was so messed up from switching from Portuguese to Spanish. We met with the coordinator of the Spanish TRC, and I understood everything she said, but I couldn't not respond in Portuguese. She asked me if I spoke Spanish, and I said, "Sim, Eu hablo espanol."  It's blatant spanguese. It was bad. I couldn't for the life of me speak Spanish. Luckily, for me, the Spanish speaking missionaries got lost somewhere, and they had a crazy surplus of volunteers. There was a senior couple that was volunteering who were from Brazil, but also spoke Spanish, so Sister Acavedo and I taught them in Portuguese. They were the absolute cutest couple, and we didn't really end up teaching them, but mostly they just told us stories. They were adorable. It was really cool, because they were talking for a solid 40 minutes about the history of the church in Brazil, and I could understand almost everything they said. It was awesome!

I've been wicked sick all week, with the black plague, I'm pretty sure. Sore throat, headache, fever, cough, stuffy nose and all that good stuff. I went to the doctor to get a strep test just to make sure, and it's not strep. This doctor was very sweet, but it seemed like he might have had a somewhat recalcitrant attitude, because he suggested that I get plenty of extra rest. Missionaries sleep for 8 hours a day and that's it. #exactobedience. Anyways, I am mostly better now which is good.

Tessa and her companion Sister Spencer on P (preparation) Day

So this disease started Sunday morning, of course, because that was the day that I was going to sing in sacrament meeting. When I woke up, I felt like I swallowed a million knives and then tried to wash it down with fire. Perhaps that's a bit of a hyperbole, but I would like to express that my throat hurt wicked bad to the point where I could barely talk. Anyways, so I was sitting in Sacrament meeting, minutes before my performance with Sister Guynn and I was convinced that I wouldn't be able to do it. I prayed really hard that I would be able to do it, and I went up to sing not really knowing if I was going to severely embarrass myself or not. It was an absolute miracle. I sang just a well as I did when we practiced earlier and it actually went really well. Everyone in our zone seemed to really enjoy it. It was such a miracle!

Anyways, I was feeling better enough Sunday night to do choir, so I went and I'm so glad I did! We prepared Jesus Once of Humble Birth for the devotional on Tuesday. Our choir director, Brother Eggart, really wanted to do a particular arrangement of that song, and the MTC didn't have enough copies. So he called the publisher of the music, and he donated a bunch of copied with the condition that the missionaries would be able to keep the music. So now I have a really cool arrangement of that hymn (which I love by the way). But wait, there's more! Brother Eggart alluded to the fact that there might be a general authority there on Tuesday by saying that the devotional was going to be broadcast to all of the MTCs around the world, which they rarely do. For the next two days there were so many rumors floating around of who would come to the devotional and it was pretty funny. Guess who came? ELDER RICHARD G. SCOTT! It was so crazy! I've never heard an apostle speak before, and there is really nothing like it! When he walked into the Marriott center (where we hold the devotionals) everyone stood and was absolutely silent. He began his talk by saying how elated he was to see so many sister missionaries. He noted that his late wife was a return missionary, and she blessed his life and the life of those around her so much by the mission she served. Side note about Elder Scott: His wife died over 18 years ago, and he refuses to get remarried because he knows that she is absolutely the love of his life, and he knows that he'll be able to see her again. It is so sweet. Anyway, he gave his address about prayer, and it was a very simple talk, but it was absolutely phenomenal. He talked about how we must not only pray, but act on our impressions, and promptings and press forward in faith. He paused near the end of his talk and said that we may have noticed that he was particularly emotional this evening. He explained that the reason why he felt so emotional was because he knew that his wife was there with us. He said that he could tell that she was there, and he expressed his gratitude to God for showing him tender mercies like this and allowing him to feel close to his wife, even though she was on the other side of the veil. Throughout his talk, quietly with the apostolic grace that only 15 people in this world possess. It was absolutely incredible. He left us with a blessing, which was so cool. He directed his blessing to missionaries learning a foreign language that they would have the gift of tongues. It was such a special experience. After his talk, he sat down and waited for the broadcast to end. He stood up and waved at all of us. He walked off the stage and waved as he walked. He paused just before he exited the room and yelled "Be good!" It was the sweetest thing ever and all the missionaries laughed. It was an incredible day! I took notes on my music, so I have a really cool record of the meeting that I know I will treasure for the rest of my life.

I love all of you so much, and think about you every day!

Love,

Sister Pennington


One of the Elder's in Tessa's district took this of the Provo Temple.