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!

Sister Pennington

Oi, familia! (November 18)


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 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!

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.


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?!


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