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 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 always answer when President Irion calls. Sister Sume answers the's for me...I know what you're all thinking...VISA! But, 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  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