Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The weight of Rensselaer on my shoulders

Hola Familia!
Como estan?  Soy okay, porque training es muy deficial.
Yeah Elder Ostler, have a good laugh over that Spanish!  I'm not perfect yet, but I'm trying.  Sister Arce is kinda helping me, but I just rely on the Spirit a lot, and read some.  I should do more.
Anyways, this week.  well's been pretty darn HARD!!!  Wednesday we made the mistake to go all the way to Michigan City to watch the elders play basketball, then we eventually went and played Ultimate Frisbee in the cold, but we had fun, and I showed the elders that I'm not a pansy, and I can play sports...well frisbee.  They actually threw the frisbee to me!  It was cool!  Sister Arce didn't play though, she was really shy.  She's just like I was when I was in middle school, and the first part of high school.  If she doesn't know the people she won't talk.  The elders give her a hard time about it.  The reason it was a mistake was that it cost us about 170 miles round trip.  Yeah, not smart!  We've been stuck in Rensselaer the whole time because we can't go anywhere else unless we have too!  It's been tough to be in one area the whole time, especially when you're afraid that you're going to tract the whole thing within like a month!  But we get 1700 miles on Friday!!!!  And Thursday we're going up to Wheatfield for some appointments!  Oh joy!
Thursday was Zone Conference!  I got to see my old Zone, Naperville!  It was fun!  I got to see Elder Shippen and Johnson, and Sister Chen too, and my sister, Sister Howell.  I asked about Wheaton and Naper 6.  Debra's still not baptize.  I guess Wheaton is doing good.  They had to drop a couple people/families, which is sad, but I guess they're picking up some more.  I also got to see Elder Valdez and Vicars and Wagner, that was fun.  The meeting was in Joliet Il, and we had to ride up with the ZLs, Elder Lippert and Perkins.  So that was fun...I guess.  We had to get up at 5ish cuz we had to meet them at 7 in Hebron which is 40 minutes away, plus we had to stop for gas.  Yeah, zone meeting was definitely awesome!  I loved it!
We've been tracting a lot, and it's wearing me out!  Sister Arce has no idea what to say, so it's all me.  And I'm starting to let her just take it over.  I know she's going through a very difficult time with trying to decide if she really wants to go on a mission.  (I think I"m ruining it for her).  She says that she's not a people person and she doesn't like talking around strangers.  I told her that if she wanted to get over that, the mission was the place to do it.  I can now see what my problem was with Sister Chen.  At the beginning I didn't really communicate with her and allow her to help me.  At the end of our 2nd transfer together I finally started to do that, and I finally started to listen to her, and that's when we had the most fun together.  She listened to me and I listened to her.  A mission really helps you swallow your pride.
Sister Arce has a lot of potential, and I love it when she bears her testimony...that's when her teaching is the most powerful.  Like when we were teaching Vanessa and she was testifying something, it was strong...same with Todd.  She was teaching Todd and the Spirit was so strong, I felt like ending the lesson right then and there!  It was awesome!
I think Sister Arce looks at me and thinks I'm perfect, and she thinks she can't be like me, which she can't.  No one can be like me except me, but she can be like her.  Like I don't know, she knows I’ve never seen an R rated movie, and whenever she asks what kind of guys I like I just say, "A worthy priesthood holder who loves and respects me, and who loves God." (I don't like to go further than that, cuz then it just distracts me).  And I know that that description is Molly Mormon of me, but it's true.  I know I'm somewhat of a Molly Mormon (except I don't know how to can, or to do genealogy or make bread) but my standards are high and I think she looks at me as someone who’s perfect.
I've been trying, and somewhat succeeding, to be happy and look for the positive.  I try to compliment her whenever I can.  I ask her, maybe a little too much, if she's okay.  I'm just glad that I had Devey in my life so she could show me how to smile all the time and look for the lemonade that life gives you.  That's helped me so much these past two weeks.  Also I know you're prayers have helped me too.  I don't think I could have done it without your support and prayers.  So thank you so much.  It really means a lot.  Also all your letters.  Even though I still don't exactly know what lacrosse is, I love hearing about the boys games and what not.  Sister Arce played lacrosse too, but I forgot what she said it was.
And I love hearing about Wilson's soccer games.  I can't wait to hear about his knife!  And the camp out at the waterfalls sounded so cool!  I told the elders that one of my tests for my fiance will be a rugged camp out with the family.  No bathrooms, or the pack trip we went on, or the hike in Utah we did a few years ago.  Can he rough it like my awesome brothers can?
So cool story:
I was looking at the map of Rensselaer not too long ago, trying to figure out what street we should tract.  The street Mathison kept catching my eye.  It was a dinky street and would prolly only take us 15 minutes to tract.  But I decided what the heck?  So we went up there and tracted it.  We got two potentials (one of which stood us up at our return appt).  But then at the second to last house we knocked on the door.  Well first, the bumper sticker on their car caught my eye.  It told me that this family was against abortion.  Well we knocked and the lady said her husband was sick and she had a church.  Before she closed the door I randomly said (I don't know if this was the Spirit...but I think it was), "Is that your car?"
"I like your anti-abortion sticker on it.  We are actually really against abortion as well."
From there we started a conversation, and I told her about how the doctors told my mom and dad to abort me because I was supposed to be a down syndrome baby.  Then we started talking about religion and Christ, and how smoking is bad (she and her husband came out to smoke).  Her husband was saying that God gave them the tobacco plant and put the idea into someones head to roll it up and smoke it.  Hmm...I think that was actually satan that planted that idea in someones head, but whatever!  In the end she, Vanessa, actually asked for a Book of Mormon.  We didn't have one at the time so we set up a time the next day that we could come back.  We came back the next day and started talking, just talking.  Actually about feline leukemia.  I told her about Tiger, and how Poppet had it.  One of her cats had it and they put him down.  Well then we taught her the first lesson, and that's when Sister Arce bore a powerful testimony about how through prayer God helped her through hard times.  Vanessa didn't see the real importance of reading and praying about the Book of Mormon, but she said she would do it!  So that's cool.  And she said she was interested in hearing General Conference.
Well the names Vanessa and Rob (her husband) sounded familiar.  I thought that maybe they were potential investigators that were on our list, but I had never met.  I remember when we were leaving Rensselaer to drop off Sister Clark and pick up Sister Arce we passed a house on the west side of town (where Vanessa and Rob live) and Sister Clark said, "That's where so and so live, they're our potential investigators."  I thought she said Vanessa and Rob but I wasn't sure.  So I asked Vanessa if there were missionaries that came her before.  She said, "Yeah, but Rob was really sick at the time, so I couldn't let them in, and we were just really busy." 
"Did one of them have big curly hair?"
"Yeah, one did."
Yeah, that was Sister Clark.  This was the same couple that she had tracted into a couple months before.  And here we were teaching them!  How cool is that?  Un milagro!!!!
Okay, Sister Arce is waiting for me!
I love you all, and thanks for letting me tell you all that stuff.  It's just hard sometimes.  I hope that it gets better and Sister Arce starts seeing the Lemonade in life!  I think what I can do is just be happy, which isn't hard when you're in Rensselaer serving the Lord.  You just have to look for the good in life.  Okay, off to shop!
And yeah, it's crazy that everyone's getting engaged!  Who's next?  Dallin Maxfield!   Yes!  He's the next one!
Love Sister Ostler
ps. The gospel is true and that's all that matters!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Life is hard, training is hard, but I know God loves me.

Dear family,
This has been so flipin' hard!  But to first answer your questions Mom:
Yes, I have a mini missionary.
Yes, I'm serious.
What happened is that we're short on sisters her (in fact we're short on missionaries.)  Let's pause for a minute while I retell what President Monson told us this past GC.  "We need missionaries!  All young men should live worthy so they are worthy to go on a mission when the time comes.  Young women don't have to go, but we love your service.  Senior couples are strongly encouraged to go."  (That's not word for word, but close enough). We need elders and senior couples bad.  There aren't enough.
Okay, back to the story.  So yeah, we're short because four of the sisters assigned to Chicago can't get their visas.  It's not only Mexico and other places that aren't letting missionaries in, it's America too.  So Sister Arce is 20, and she's been thinking about a mission.  She wants to go, but doesn't turn 21 til July.  Well her Bishop contacted her 1 week before transfers and asked her if she wanted to come on a 6 week mission.  She didn't know what that was, but said yes.  Then the Spanish Sisters in her ward explained what she would be doing.  One of them was Sister Reyes, who will be going home with me in a year, and she also served in Rensselaer with Sister Clark before I did. (Sister Clark is her mom).  Sister Arce follows all the same rules as a regular missionary.  If it's in the white hand book she follows it.  I have no idea what her mom thinks of this.  She's a member though.
Yes, I saw Sister Jeppson.  And it was kinda exciting.  Nice to have a familiar face.  So that was cool.  She and her mom are super cool.  Also her moms sister in law is Mrs. Carolin Monson, my ballet teacher!  Cool huh?  Yes, I did know who Sister Jeppson was...well she was familiar, then we started talking and then I remembered that her kids have a lawn business too.

And what the?  All I get is "Oh btw, we're at war with Libya...or whatever!  Um...haven't even heard that!  This is what I heard about Japan before you informed me of it with pictures and details.  "There was a 8.9 earthquake in Japan which triggered a tsunami, and there's supposed to be a tsunami in Hawaii too.”  All the pictures look horrible.   That's it.  I get NO news out here in the sticks!
And you just told me Devey's engaged!  I've never even heard of this kid!  What the?  I'm happy and sad.  I knew she wanted to serve a mission, and stuff.  Oh man, all my friends are going to be married when I get back!  I'll have to transfer down to BYU so Emilee and I can sit in our apartment eating ice-cream and talk about mission stuff and how we're not married, while all our friends go have couples night.  haha!
Um, yeah, I love letters!  Especially now.  Life is so hard right now.  Rensselaer has already been tracted over a gazzilion times, and we're out of miles to travel any where else really.  And I lost one of my best friends when Sister Clark left, and I'm feeling so overwhelmed, and sometimes it's hard to keep smiling, but I know I have to do it for Sister Arce.  Training her is so stinking hard!

This week with Sister Arce has been a little hard.  I was excited to find out that I wouldn't be training a permanent missionary, but part of me thinks this is slightly harder.  I found out that she has never read any of PMG, or doesn't have a strong understanding of the scriptures, but she does have a strong testimony, which is a total plus...something that some missionaries from the MTC don't even have.  But sometimes I feel that I'm not only training her, but I'm also her MTC.  So it's hard to have a short companion study when I feel like I have to teach her so much.  I just remember coming out here with an understanding of how to teach the 1st and 2nd lesson, and with that background it was easy for me to figure out how to teach the rest of the lessons, plus Sister Chen was an awesome teacher.

So I've been struggling to know how in the world I can help Sister Arce learn how to teach.  I've been praying for her and me.  Iv'e tried several different ideas of teaching her, but none seem to work. Then yesterday we stopped at Subway to get dinner and I just said out of the blue, "Bring your Book of Mormon with you, because I want to go over something with you."  After we ate we opened to the Introduction and we went over the last 2 paragraphs like we did in Zone meeting in October or November.  I taught her like she was an investigator, then I told her to teach me as if I was an investigator.  I found that that worked the best.  She was actually teaching me in her own style instead of her trying to imitate how I taught.  Yeah, the Lord does answer prayers.  I still talk the most in lessons, but that's because she doesn't know what to say.  I tell her that if she doesn't know what to say then just bear her testimony.
This is really spiritually draining.  Sister Clark and Elder Vicars both told me that training is really hard emotionally and spiritually because you are the one, the only one that this new missionary sees and therefore will have a lasting impact on how they serve the rest of their mission.
But I have been happy a lot.  I know God loves me!  He's watching out for me and miracles are starting to happen.
Since Sister Clark left I've been praying to know what to do with this area, and for the first couple days I didn't get a lot of answers.  I was feeling really overwhelmed, and just kept praying.  Then I sat down and read a case study that we are discussing tomorrow in zone conference and answers started to flow of how we can use members.  Specific members popped into my head with lessons we could give them, encouragement we could give them, members who I don't know very well that we could get to know, etc.  We haven't had a baptism from a member referral for about 1 year...well as far as I know.  The members out here are very missionary minded, the feed us, they drive 30-40 minutes to come to appointments with us, they love having us over, and some of them are working with their friends.  But as I was reading this I thought of ways we can encourage these members to work a little harder and a little more effectively--so they actually give us more good, quality referrals.  The hard thing about being in a small branch is that hardly anyone is new, and there's not very many people in the branch.  But I know that despite these difficulties, that if we as missionaries try to do our best to get member referrals than it will happen.  "Knock and ye shall receive, ask and it shall be given unto you."  The scriptures are right!
Then the first couple of days we tracted because at the beginning of the week Sister Clark and I didn't do anything because she was packing and not wanting to work really.  She was really struggling with going home and what not.  (I never want to kill someone again!  It's too hard!)  So we didn't have any appointments for when Sister Arce came.  So we tracted and tracted.  I thought, "Great I'm turing into Sister Chen!  tracting all day!"  But Sister Arce doesn't mind it much.  Although she's really tired now.  But yeah.  Then these past couple of days, we've been meeting people in Rensselaer that want a Book of Mormon, or want to know how their families can be together forever.  I've called several investigators that we kind of lost touch with, or stopped by their house and boom!  We have appointments!  Two of them happened last night.  Pedro, who we haven't seen for a long time, like a month, invited us back next Tuesday.  Good thing Sister Arce can speak Spanish!  Cuz I can't, and Pedro can't speak English!  Then right next door is Caressa, and she's been investigating since before I got here, and we haven't been able to meet with her.  Last night we popped in, and had an 1 hourish discussion on random things.  She told about her Great Grandpa and grandma passing, and I asked if we could come back to teach her about where we go after we die.  She said yes.  Another appointment!
I'm planning on working with a lot of less active and part member families, and maybe active members.  I want to ask them since Sister Arce is so new, and doesn't know how to teach the lessons if we can come over and practice the lessons on them.  And we'd encourage them to do the same things we ask investigators to do, read and pray, come to church, repent, etc.  So I"m going to get in touch with Brother Fernandez to see which less active members wouldn't mind that.  I hardly know any.  I just hope this works!
I have a feeling that I'll be training again in 5 weeks.  I hope not, but I think I will!  But I do remember what it was like in Wheaton.  It wasn't that Sister Chen didn't love me, it was that I didn't see that love.

Then Sister Clark.  I knew she loved me every day!   She would give me hugs, cook me meals, make sure I was well rested, talked with me about things I needed to talk about, and I could FEEL her love.  So that's one thing I'm trying to do with Sister Arce, is help her FEEL my love.  I don't really know how to do that.  But maybe not be so focused on the work like Sister Chen was.  But take time out of my day to go on a walk with her, or make her something to eat, or teach her something, or ask her questions about her past life, or her future.  Also encouragement.  I hardly ever knew if I was teaching good or not.  It was only when I had a meltdown and said, "I'm not a good missionary!"  That Sister Chen would reassure me that I was, that I was a great missionary!  So with Sister Arce whenever she does something good, I praise her.  Like yesterday when she contacted someone all by herself, and I didn't say a word, I told her exactly what she did well on.  I'm not trying to build myself up, just so you know.  This is just what I'm doing.
But I know that with Rensselaer changing hands, and me not having been strongly influenced by Sister Clarks ways of doing things, that the work here will change.  I just hope the Branch members don't mind it, and love me for who I am! 

Also I need several pics of the family so I can use them to decorate a box.  Just a few.  But make sure they’re good!
By the way, this is what President Doll told me.  It really helped me. "You helped her [Sister Clark] finish [her] mission in a super way. Don’t worry about filling her shoes or anyone else’s shoes. Just be Sister Ostler and that will be enough."  Makes me want to cry!
Love you all!  And hope you have an awesome week!  I love all news because I get none of it all week!  Tell Devey to write me!  And everyone else!  I love mail!
Sister Ostler

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A street to tract if all else fails.

Well, it's the time you've all been waiting for!  I have a new companion!  Her name is Sister Arce.  She's latino and Spanish is her first language, but she speaks perfect English.  She has a Chicago/Spanish accent.  It's really cool.  She's 20 years old, lives in Chicago and is going to start her papers when she get's home from her mini mission.  She's worked some with the Spanish sisters in Chicago, Hermana Perez and Reyes (who used to serve here).  Sister Arce is really quiet, especially around  lots of people she doesn't know, just like I am.
So this morning we woke up (obviously) and the Bowmans drove us to Naperville.  I got to see so many people there!  Like all the sisters from my MTC district.  Well except one, I didn't get to see her.  I also saw two of the elders, Elder Adams and Chinn.  But after chatting with some missionaries I had to go to a meeting for trainers and trainees.  Except I'm kinda training.  It's not like she's going to get transferred and be like, "well Sister Ostler told me this..."  But I will give her a taste of the mission and influence how her real mission will be.  I was fine the whole way to Naperville, and even in the meeting where President Doll and the APs talked about the schedules we keep and obeying the rules, and how this mission isn't a Law of Moses mission, but a "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves" mission.  Then all the new missionaries were kicked out and President Doll talked to us about how important we were to how these missionaries were going to grow up in the mission, and that he trusted us, and how we were the best missionaries in the mission.  It was kinda cool, except I kinda excluded myself from that since I was just with a mini missionary.  But yeah, it was really cool.  But I didn't get to say good bye to Sister Clark!  She left before I got out of the meeting!  But I have to call her tonight...or call the APs who will hand the phone to Sister Clark...we got it all worked out :).  We then got a picture with President and Sister Doll, so that'll be on her blog shortly.
But the whole time I was there I was really happy and confident.  I think being around other missionaries really boosts me up and stuff.  While waiting for the Bowmans to come back (they went somewhere around Naperville) I chatted with Elder Chinn and Elder Vicars.  Sad, but Elder Vicars is leaving.  And we were just becoming friends too.  It seems that when I get a friend either I get transferred or they do.  But what can you do?  I guess the Lord wants us to focus!
When we got back to the apartment, I felt so, well, not really scared, but scared.  Kim, whom we were supposed to go see tonight (that's why I'm supposed to call Sister Clark.  She wants an update on him) canceled on us.  That was supposed to be our whole night since we would have dinner with him and teach him, and he lives half hour away.  So then I was like, "Well we save miles, but what to do with 2 hrs tonight!?"  So I sat down while she was unpacking and prayed and looked at our board with all our investigators and potential investigators on it.  I came up with some people in Rensselaer to stop by, and even a street to tract if all else fails.
It's just hard being the leader, especially when your companion doesn't know a lot...well hardly anything about missionary work.  I really feel overwhelmed and sometimes ready to cry.  I kind of don't know what I'm doing, and I miss Sister Clarks love and friendship.  I guess I just need to love Sister Arce and be friends with her.  I really want to enjoy these next 6 weeks, not endure them.  But she does like to run!  I like food.  But I'm bound and determined that from now on I'll exercise more.  I think I'll just take it a transfer at a time.  Plus we only have 700 miles left for the whole month (that’s about 46 miles per day) and so we'll be riding bikes on nice days while we're out finding people and going to appointments when we're in Rensselaer.  But it takes 100 miles to go to Valpo and back round trip.  That's crazy huh?
Oh man, so I just looked over and Brother Fisher is two computers down from me!  He's a less active!  Totally going to set up an appointment with him before he or I leaves!  The Lord works miracles!
So the pictures!

The first two are from last Wednesday!  We went to Valpo for a zone party!  We had hot dogs, played Nertz (the elders didn't like that too much) and then Sister Clark wanted to play football.  So we went to a park and got out a football.  The only problem was that it had rained and was misting.  So the field was soooooooooo muddy!  We didn't play football, we played ultimate football.  Just like Ultimate frisbee except with a football.  Sister Clark and I were team captains.  I admitted to everyone that I couldn't catch or throw a football, so they hardly threw it to me, but I blocked Sister Clark TWICE!!!!  Both times she tackled me to the muddy ground!  And Elder Miller (the tall one) was falling all the time.  He has no balance coordination!  Well a lot of people were falling and sliding!  It was so funny!

Sister Clark and I mostly watched.  We had an appointment right afterwards, and we didn't have the time nor miles to go home and shower.  But soon Elder Dearinger tackled her to the ground and smeared mud all over her face.  And then he plopped mud right on top of my head, and smeared it in my face.  Soon it was a battle!  It was great!  Elder Hibbard and Lippert tackled Elder Dearinger to the ground and were like, "Sister Clark this one is for you!"  So she went over and got him good!  We all got together for a group photo!  Elder Vicars put his arm around me and I was like, "Um elder your arm is around me!" But he didn't do anything about it.  Stupid elder.  Don't worry he doesn't like me.  He only likes blue-eyed girls.  Thank goodness I'm green!  But we really are just friends.  I promise.

Then there's Sister Clark and I in all our glory!  That was honestly the best pday ever!  We ended up taking showers at the Fernandez's house.  They live in Demont, kinda close to our appointment.  We walked into our appt. that night, Kims, and he was like, "Now it looks like you two just got out of the shower!"
But Kim knows!!!!  He knows!!!  He hasn't admitted it yet, but you can tell that he knows.  Except he's between a rock and hard spot.  He wants to come to church, but his wife isn't on board, which is super sad.  I guess she had a mormon friend years back and they had discussed the Book of Mormon and she had even gone to church but hadn't had the greatest experience for whatever reason.  But he and his wife had something else going on tonight, so Kim had to cancel, Sister Clark won't be happy.  But at least that gives us more time to work on teaching together before we go to a hard appointment!  He always asks hard questions, like about the temple and what not!  Sister Clark could answers his questions perfectly, but I answer them a little different.  I try to help them come up with their own conclusion so they learn something by themselves.  But Kim's old, he's done a lot of pondering throughout his life, so his questions he just wants a plain answer, and Sister Clark could give him one.  But Sister Clark says she has confidence in me.
You know for Kim, he told us that 4-6 weeks ago he had been praying to know what to do with the knowledge that he had, where he could put it to use.  That's the time I got here, and both Sister Clark and I like tracting.  On the 8th of February, we got a referral for out in Lake Village.  We went there about a week later, and the guy didn't know the people who referred him or anything like that.  It was a bogus referral.  So we decided to tract.  We tracted and tracted.  The houses were far apart.  We went about 3 miles with little success.  Then we met Barbie, taught her an awesome first lesson.  Then we met her neighbor, Kim, and he just kind of argued with us.  But for some reason Sister Clark set up a return appointment with him.  We eventually got 2 more return appointments.  So we went back to see Barbie, she wasn't there.  So we went to see Kim, and he was expecting us.  We were afraid that he was gonna argue with us, but he didn't.  And he's just been great.  All our other potential investigators weren't home.  The Lord sent us, me and Sister Clark, to Kim that day, we both know it.  And we both know that it was us, no one else that had to contact him.  Sister Clark feels confident that this new sister will be good for him too.  I just hope so.  He's so awesome, and we just love him!

The last picture is of Alfredo's baptism!  He's the one with the mustache!  He's got 4 kids, his wife had the oldest boy from her first marriage.  Then Brother Fernandez is in there too.  What a great baptism!  And then because of the time change he showed up late to church and wasn't able to be confirmed.  He was like, "I'm the newest member and I was late!"  He felt bad, but it's all good.  This Sunday will be his confirmation!
Well time's up!  Love you tons!  And can't wait to hear about Japan!  We get no info out here!  Members don't keep us that informed out here.  And thanks so much for telling me that 1) Duportail Ward was formed 2) They're looking for land in West Richland for a stake center!  I'm so happy you keep me so informed about the happenings at home!  Oh and Sister Crawford told me Mercedes is going on a mish!!!
Well I do love you!  And enjoy all your letters!  Thanks for everything!
Sister Ostler

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How in the world am I going to learn Spanish?

Hey, hey, familia!

Things in Rensselaer are going good...I think.  And mom, in your letter I didn't see any questions.  So I didn't bring the letter...sorry.  But that's awesome about Keesa!  She told me in her Christmas envelope that she'd been dating him for about 10 months.  So that's good.  Long courtship and short engagements is counsel directly from the brethren.  Sister Clark and I were just talking about those girls that get married right out of high school and how scarey that is because they don't have a chance to find out who they are.  So I'm really excited for Keesa.  I can't wait to get an announcement!  Tell her that she HAS to send me one!  And I want a picture of the Egbert’s baby!  That's so exciting!  Too many things are happening!  Who's going to be next?  Saydi? No, jk.  I hope not!
And as for cards.  We used to go over there a lot but lately we haven't been just because we have a lot of appointments.  But we're mainly befriending her.  We're really good friends with her.  Like when she has to leave for the night for whatever reason, we bring Peanut out for a 5 minute walk, or until she goes to the bathroom.  And Stacey fixes stuff for us, and makes us pancakes, and is pretty much our mom.  It's kinda funny.  But we're going over this Saturday, cuz she's feeding us dinner.  And what happened to those cards you sent me Dad?  They looked to be chewed up.  Did one of the dogs get a hold of them.  And Stacy really likes them.  She went on line to see if she could find some cool ones too.

Peanut wanting our Pancakes.
Did I mention that Stacey makes the best pancakes EVER?!!!  Well they're good.
This week has been okay.  Sister Clark is definitely coming to the end of her mission.  She's really tired all the time, and sometimes I have to drag her out to work.  But once she's out she likes it...for the most part.  But it's been okay.  I can kinda understand what she's feeling.  I love her a lot.  She's awesome.  She came in the bathroom this morning while I was getting ready with jeans rolled up to her knee, and these brown leg warmers on and said, "Isn't this cute?"  I snorted at her.  She was of course joking.  And she's awesome at keeping the area book up.  I hate keeping that up.  I hate the paper work attached to missionary work.  That's what Sister Chen loves though.  I really am going to miss Sister Clark.  I'm going to name my new GPS that I'm getting today after her, Sister Kendra.  That will be her name, and she'll get me around Rensselaer! 
So about transfers.  In my interview a few weeks ago President Doll asked if there was anything I was concerned about and I asked him how in the world I was going to learn Spanish when all I had was Libro (LDM).  He said he could help me with that.  There are no new sisters coming in...well, at least I thought there weren't, but now I think there is.  Anyways, we're going to have to get a temporary sister, and they were thinking of this girl who's turing 21 this summer and seriously considering going on a mission. Her 17 year old brother will go tracting with the missionaries and even talk at the door.  So very missionary minded family.  Well they were going to put her with me, and she speaks Spanish.  So that way I can learn Spanish from her.  But then on Monday Elder Lippert (ZL) said they were going to get an RM who speaks Spanish.  Either way I'm sure I'm getting someone who speaks Spanish, which is really good, cuz I can't speak it.  Although it was awesome. Saturday night we had an appointment with the Rodriguez family.  The Fernandez' usually come with us since Alfred (dad) and Ester (mom) don't speak that much English, and Brother Fernandez speaks it.  But they couldn't come.  So we were planning on the Rodriguez' son, Ulysses, to translate for us.  We got there and all the kids had gone roller skating, and Ester was sick in bed.  Two of Alfredo's friends were there drinking beer.  I was scared, because Alfredo was supposed to be changing.  Had he really fallen off the wagon?  He invited us into the kitchen where we sat and tried to communicate.  But he told us that he hadn't drank.  His friends had offered, but he hadn't taken a sip.  HE'S CHANGING!  We asked if he still wanted to be baptized this Saturday.  He either said, "I still need time to prepare," or "I'm prepared."  We didn't know, so we said we'd ask tomorrow when we'd come back and Ulyses would be there.  But we stayed there for about 30 minutes talking with him, and I understood everything.  It wasn't like he was speaking in English, but I followed the conversation without getting lost, except at one place, but that's when Sister Clark couldn't understand him either.  And I even said a few words too.  We gave him a Liahona about Temples, because their family loves temples... especially the Nauvoo temple.  That's the temple they're getting sealed in for sure.  But yeah, that night was just really cool.
The next day we went back, and with Ulyses help Alfredo told us that if we thought he was ready then he would get baptized.  We said we knew he was ready.  He was concerned that he hadn't been taught everything.  But we said that he would always continue learning.  But since I've been here he's only missed one Sunday coming to church, and that's because he woke up stoned.  Since then he hasn't drank at all!!!  We love him!  And he comes to church even though he doesn't understand everything, and hardly anyone can talk to him, and he can't talk to hardly anyone else.  But he still comes.  Brother Fernandez translates for him, and there's a Spanish investigator class that he teaches.  Alfredo, Ester (when she comes) Miguel and Alejandro (both RCs) go to that one.  The Lord is working miracles!
The past two baptisms here have been Priesthood holders, and here comes Alfredo, and we have two more awesome investigators that are potential Priesthood holders, Kim and Todd.  But we're hoping that Alfredo's family follows him.  Ester has wanted him to change for a long time.  To come to church and stop drinking.  Except he's not doing it in the way that she wanted.  She says it's fine that he goes to "his" church (Mormon church) and she to hers, but I think really that she wants him to go to the Catholic church.  She doesn't understand that that can't change him.  Only the"mormon church" can, or the Spirit that is there.  But Ester is seeing if this really does change him permanently or if he does fall off the wagon.  We all know Alfredo will make it.  He'll start changing big time once he's ordained and then I think she'll really see.  We know that his whole family (he's got four kids, one is 7 though) will follow him one day.  Ester and Alfredo were married by the judge, not a priest.  So she's always wanted the dressed-in-white wedding.  I told Sister Clark that she can have it in the temple.  Have you seen those temple dresses?  And I can just imagine all their kids dressed in white being sealed to them!  That would be so stinking awesome!!!!
As for Todd.  He's still changing.  He really wants to quit smoking.  But it's so hard for him.  We went over yesterday at 3:30, and he hadn't had a smoke since 10am.  We taught him more about the Atonement and how he needs to rely on Christ.  He's changing.  You can see it in his eyes.  Oh how I wish you could meet everyone could meet him!  He's funny and humble, and teachable!
And Kim is awesome!  We went over last Thursday and he fed us lunch. (Note: when an investigator feeds you that means they like you).  So we had a really good salad, and discussion.  We were going to teach him about how the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ, but he basically told us that while eating.  And then he asked, "So why don't we drink tea.  Yes, I said we."  Sister Clark said that meant he wanted to become a mormon, that he considered himself one,...or something like that.  We have great hope for him.  We calculated how long it would take him to read the BOM and he's reading about 14ish pages per day.  So he'll be done in about a month.  I mean that's about an hour a day!  And he likes it and understands it!  He even asked about church, although he didn't come. But we hope he'll come this week.  He's an awesome man.  We have an appointment with him tonight.  He's feeding us again, and he said that like family, we are always welcome.  He is just so awesome.  And he already had a year supply of food storage, and he quotes prophets and modern day revelation without knowing it.  He'll give us advice, and we'll say, "You know what you just said is what a prophet of God said."  He's a dry Mormon.  But soon he'll be a wet one!  Well hopefully!  Hopefully we'll meet his wife tonight!!

Kim Morrison.  Isn't he awesome?
So last pday, Sister Clark actually beat me in Nertz.  There were five of us playing, and I just lost.  But I beat Elder Vicars!  And today we're having a zone party!  Sister Clarks last pday!  The ZLs are providing lunch, and we're playing ultimate football, and cards (nertz).  So yeah, it's a gonna be fun!
For the most part the elders here are cool.  They are 19 year old boys...well 20, and Elder Dearinger is 25.  He was converted later in life.  But man he still acts like the rest of them!  Last night Sister Clark actually put one of them in line.  On Monday two of them did something just not cool, and it hurt us.  So last night Sister Clark just told him flat out what was up, and that he shouldn't do things like that again.  He's the kind of person that doesn't like to hear he's wrong, but humble enough to change.  He later said that he needed it.  That's just how tight this Zone is.  I really like it.
Oh, and I've decided, that since I'm going to be driving my whole mission Jefferson can drive me everywhere after my mission.  He'll have his permit, and I'm over 21, so it'll work...or Harrison, whichever one wants to.  I just figured since Jefferson won't be going on any dates then he'll be more available!
And I'll work on taking pictures of our apartment and stuff today.
Oh also I remember that in one letter you sent awhile ago you talked about how you and dad had family scripture and prayer every night and how you hoped that helped your kids.  Well let me tell you, it does.  I so notice the difference in families when they don't do that and when they do. I don't know how many times I use our family as an example of that.  How, when we used to not do that, there was way more contention in the house, and since we have done that there isn't.  Yes, we still have arguments and fights, and what not, but we're able to get over them more quickly.  It's just such a difference.  Also those who follow the prophets counsel don't have as many money problems as those who don't.  It's just amazing the blessings I see when we follow the prophets counsel.  Even if it's going to church on Sunday, or fulfilling our calling, or living the Word of Wisdom or chastity.  I have a strong testimony of living the law of chastity.  I've seen the destruction that comes to those who don't live it.  They're confused of what to do next, especially young mothers.  Just couples in general, when they don't live the law of chastity can't make ends meet, they're living with their families, their kids are being raised by their parents, they're irresponsible.  Yeah, follow the commandments!

Well tell everyone I said hi!  And I haven't heard from Jackson in a while.  What's up with him?  And I'll try to write to Leda today!!!  Tell her I love her though!
Sister Ostler

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

There's no Place like this Place near this Place so this must be the Place

Dear Family,
Since you are so worried about my health I will tell you EVERYTHING that is wrong with me.

My eyes are irritating me.

I'M CURED!  I don't have sinus pains anymore.  I knew that He could cure me.  I've only taken medicine in the past week for regular headaches (like when I don't wear my Damon Splint).  But I'll keep all that medicine just in case it comes back in the future!  But yeah, I feel fine!
And that's all with my health.  I'm not really that tired a lot.  Except when we're driving a lot, which we do.  Some of the towns in our area are 30 minutes away...oh wait, like all of them are.  We have Wheatfield, which has quite a few members in it, and potential investigators; Lake Village, which has an awesome investigator in it; Remmington, which has one very promising investigator in it, and an awesome recent convert, Miguel.  All of which are 30 minutes away.  Yeah, we went 100 miles yesterday because we had to go to Lake Village, we crossed over to Wheatfieldish, back to Rensselaer, then that night we went down to Remmington.  We get 1700 miles per month.  But oh boy howdy do they fly by!  Except in February!  We went to Naperville and back for transfers and we still had like 200ish miles left!  Not to mention all our trips to Valpraiso for district meeting and pdays!  That's 100 miles total!  Dumb!  But hey, I can't complain, because I'm in the best area ever!!!!!  Nothing beats Rensselaer!
Yes, we have a lot of inactives.  But there is hope.
This week we got a phone call from a less active member saying his girlfriend had some questions about the Mormon faith.  So we went over there, answered her questions about polygamy and then introduced Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  Amanda, the girlfriend (it's not that weird to call her that actually.  I don't think of myself as Amanda anymore.  I'm Sister Ostler), said she had been raised Baptist, but been kind of forced into the religion.  She wanted to find out for herself what was truth, or something like that.  We see a lot of potential with her and Michael.  We will hopefully be able to see the reactivation of a priesthood holder, and the baptism of his girlfriend!
Another less active recently got married, so we went over there to give them a wedding present--the Book of Mormon!  We shared our testimonies of how the BOM has strengthened our family and committed them to reading it as a family.  The less active's wife, Ashely, said that she would be willing to take the missionary lessons!  So we have another chance to reactivate and baptize!
But yeah, there are a ton of less actives.  And when one shows up to church everyone goes to greet them.  And yes, Rensselaer is the only branch we cover.  I was thinking about this last night, how blessed Candy Mountain Ward is.  You don't have to travel 30 minutes to get to church.  You have to travel 10 at the most.  Not even that sometimes.  And to go on splits with the missionaries you don't have to travel 30 minutes either.  You guys are so blessed!

You and Amy are the only people who write me regularly.  I used to get letters for the first 2ish months.  Cali writes me occasionally, and so does Devey.  But that's it...oh and Grammie too.  I love getting letters from her.  Her handwriting is so pretty.
I think that what a lot of people don't realize is that I don't care what they write in their letters.  It might seem boring to them because they do the same thing everyday...but it's awesome for me!  Even just what they did on the weekend, or what they learned in church, or something random that a teacher said, or something new they learned in class.  Or what's going on in the world. LIke Egypt.  I only hear mention of Egypt and something bad is going on.  But that's it.  So yeah, I love letters.  And they don't have to be long either.
Oh and tell Amy that we LOVE those Larabars she sent us.  I personally love the Apple one.  But they were all pretty good.  And she's right, we can pronounce all the ingredients in it!  And they keep you kinda full for about 2 hours, which is awesome!  I'm so determined to lose 10 lbs by April 27th!  I ran a mile today, and it felt good!  And I'm trying to cut back on eating.  I love eating, and I really need to not over eat.  That's my problem...over eating.  But sometimes it's hard as a missionary.  Because you never know who's going to feed you when and what they're going to feed you.  Like we might go over to a members house to visit and just so happens they want to feed you when you just had lunch.  And it's rude to say no.  They are showing you that they love you and support you, and want to take care of you, so they want you to eat.  So yeah, it's hard sometimes.  Then other days you're starving!  A lady in the Naper 6 ward who served a mission too, Sister Hammer, said, "As a missionary you're always way too full, or starving."  And that's soooo true!  And there's really nothing you can do about it.  Right now I'm hungry.  I've only eaten a Larabar today.  But that's because Stacy is feeding us Pancakes!  She makes the best pancakes!  The Heborn elders, Elder Vicars and Miller, came down today.  So we're having a party at Stacy's!  I'm so beating all of them in nertz!
Oh the other night we were playing and Stacy's mom (who's got it going on) came over.  She's a member.  She joined us.  So now there were 4 people.  And I dominated!  I got nertz every time except when Sister Clark got it once.  And I won by like 8ish points to Sister Clark.  So today I'm going to dominate!

And Mom, you shouldn’t miss me.  I'm doing fine.  Yes, something about Rensselaer makes me miss home.  I think about it a lot.  But I'm trying not to.  I'm trying to focus on TODAY instead of tomorrow.  The end will come whether I like it or not, but what's important is what I do between now and then.  That's what President Doll told Sister Clark, so those aren't my prophetic words.  So I really am trying to live each day to it's fullest, and just enjoying every minute of it.  Even when we're doing something that I don't want to do.  Since Sister Clark is leaving she has to organize everything and pack, so we've been spending some time in the apartment.  I don't like it either.  But I know that it has to be done.  I'd rather be out working...even tracting.  But I'm just trying to put my needs and wants aside for Sister Clark.
Sister Clark is awesome.  She has taught me so much about looking at EVERYONE as my brother and sister, and then teaching them that way.  She also told me something cool.  She said, "The Lord didn't call a robot to come out on a mission, he called YOU to come out.  So it's okay to be yourself."  And that's so true.  Yes, I'm a missionary, I do missionary stuff, but at the same time I need to be myself.  I need to not always focus on, "Okay what do I need to teach next?"  Instead sometimes focus on "you're my friend, so I want to help you."  Because that's who I am...or who I want to become.  She's also taught me not to stress out either...just by her example.  And I'm trying so hard to have a Devey attitude!  Life gave me Lemonade!!!!!  It really works if I just really enjoy every moment of my mission.  I'm so much happier.
Okay some investigator stories!
First TODD!!!!  We've been teaching him for 2 months and we just barely gave him a Book of Mormon.  Two months ago he said he couldn't read, so we just figured we'd teach him the lessons.  We did, and recently it seemed that he wasn't progressing like before.  Well we found out that he could read.  He had an 8th grade education (like Joseph Smith!)  Well then we decided that we wanted to give him a BOM.  We gave it to him, but he said the print was too small.  We then found out that his close cousin died, and we just really felt that we needed to give him a BOM.  So we did and gave him Alma 40 to read.  He thought that he was supposed to read one paragraph, so when we came back he said, "I read a little further."  We were so happy!  We taught him about the BOM--the lesson we usually do on the first, second, or third visit to people.  It was so amazing!  He wanted to find out for himself if it was true or not, and we told him that's exactly what we wanted him to do to.  When we asked if we could leave another chapter with him he promptly handed over the book without hesitation.  He wants to read.  When Sister Clark and I left we were so giddy.  We were talking about the way he smiled more, and he chuckled twice!  That is not normal for him.  This gospel is changing him inside and out.  He wants to lose weight.  I love him!  He's doing better with smoking.  Still hasn't completely given it up.  But I just know that now he has the BOM, that if he reads it, it will somehow give him strength to quit for good!   He still wants to be baptized too.
Then there's KIM MORRISON!  Kim is 70 years old and he's just awesome!  We tracted into him a couple weeks ago, and it seems all he wanted to do was kinda challenge us and our knowledge.  At the time I didn't understand why Sister Clark made a return appointment with him.  She says she did because his neighbor, Barbie, was our investigator, and we would have to come visit her too.  (They live in Lake Village, so it's not like we can just GO there).  Well Barbie didn't turn up for her 2nd appointment last week, so we went straight to Kim’s.  He let us in, and we started talking about the Restoration.  We were afraid that it would turn into an argument, but it didn't.  It took us FOREVER to get to the actual Joseph Smith part of the lesson.  But we eventually got there.  We actually ended up sitting on his living room floor talking to him.  We mentioned native Americans, and he took us in his living room which is dedicated to Native Americans.  It was really cool.  So we sat on his floor and read to him the introduction of the BOM, which can be very argumentative.  There are some very bold statements in there.  But he asked questions about some, and then let us continue.  He said he'd read and pray about it.
So we went back and he said he'd read and prayed.  And the answer he got was, "Keep reading."  Oh man I love Heavenly Father!!!  So we read with him Moroni 7, and he was like, "This is what Paul wrote!"  We explained that if it's the same God, wouldn't he tell the same thing to the same people?  Yep!  But Kim is awesome.  He lays on the floor across from us, and when he has a "problem" we explain it, he thinks about it for about 30 seconds, then says, "I can agree with that.  What's next?"  It's just awesome...HE'S just awesome!  He said that we stimulate his heart, mind, thoughts, and faith.  How stinking awesome is that?  I'll send a picture of him next week.  He's a great old man who has no upper teeth!  Just awesome!
And we do have a big teaching pool!  Hardly anytime to tract.  But it's just great!  We love our investigators!  They're going to build a temple here someday!

Well Adui my family whom I love so much!  Time to go shop and eat pancakes at Stacy's and beat the elders in nertz!  That'll put Elder Vicars in his place!
Sister Ostler