Mandy Mission

"And this is the account of Sister Amanda Carter and her brethren, their journeyings in the land of Western New York, their sufferings in the land, their sorrows, and their afflictions, and their incomprehensible joy..." (Alma 28:8)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hurrah for Israel!

Sister Carter and the Prophet Joseph Smith

Dear Family,

Here it is... my last hurrah. I can't believe it! I remember Dad telling me that it passes like a dream, and there have been moments when it has been anything but a dream. Moments when one foot would barley move in front of the other. But now it is coming to a close, and it has felt like a dream. So here is the plans for coming home: We enter into the Mission home on Monday morning (so we won't be emailing) and spend the whole day with President. He's going to feed us and take us to all of the sites for one last time. That evening, we are actually having a "Family Home Evening Night" and the Joseph Smith Farm which we actually have shifts taking tours from one home to the other, caroling, drinking hot chocolate. I'm excited to end working and it will be a good way to see everyone before I leave. Then we go back to President's, have our exit interviews, and go to bed. The next morning is the day! We get on a plane, get off a plane, get on a plane, get off a plane, get on a plane :), and THEN........ I see all of YOU!!! AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! How exciting!! Its hard to believe its so close! I'm going to warn you right now that I will most likely be very awkward :). So, I apologize in advance. It will be a hard transition but I do believe that there are still great things that await and I know that all will be okay.

This last week has been an incredible one. Bro. Copp got confirmed yesterday. It was such a special event. In his blessing he was blessed that he would be able to read and love to read from the scriptures! How cool is that! We took him up to Temple grounds this week to talk about some of the next goals that he should shoot for. While we were there one of the members of the Temple Presidency let Bro. Copp come and and see the baptismal font and answer any questions he had about the Temple. It was so awesome! When we left Bro. Copp said, "The more I learn about all of this, the safer I feel". What a neat statement. I never thought of the church in that way before but it is a complete safety net. He has been interviewed and is going to be able to get the Priesthood this next Sunday. So neat. Also, Sarah, a little girl I taught in Webster, is getting baptized this Saturday! Yay! What a neat way to end a mission. I don't think I could ever be happier.

So as I thought about what my last email would be like I was trying to think of all of the things I have learned on my mission. I've started making a list, and it is getting very long. I could write down some of them for you but the thing that I've learned the most is something that I already came out here with, and that is my testimony. I love this work! I have loved being a missionary with all my heart! I know that there is a God out there who cares and loves us, that He sent His Son so that we could make it home again. I know the Savior lives. He's apart of everything. He offers peace and eternal life to everyone. He truly is the light and the life of the world. I know that Joseph Smith was His prophet. That just a couple of stone-casts away from where I live, that young boy saw the Father and the Son and that singular event started a work that will never stop again. There are living prophets on the earth today! President Monson is that chosen instrument and when we follow his direction we will never be led astray. I love the Book of Mormon. I have come to realize how rare a possession it really is. No book can offer the peace that that book can. I know the work moves forward whether you have a black name tag on or not, and I'm so grateful to be apart of the Lord's kingdom on the earth.

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" -2 Timothy 4:7

Hurrah for Israel!!

I love my Savior. I love all of you. See you soon :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Sweet Baptism

Dear Family,

It feels very strange to be emailing you so shortly after I emailed you last time. Because the sites have slowed down significantly they want the sisters out proselyting more during the week. Hence, the Preparation Day change for the last time. So there isn't too much to report on since Thursday except...... A BAPTISM!!!! So, I'm going to recount the events of the day so that you can feel like your were present in spirit.

Bro. C came to church, all dressed up in a suit! We didn't even know he owned a suit but he walked into Sacrament meeting with his chin up, wearing the only white shirt and tie that he owned. He was nervous. He kept saying that his knees were shaking all during church. We had the service right after the last meeting ended. The font was filled, programs were made, members came. There was a lot of support from the ward! Everyone who has ever got the opportunity to talk to Bro. C loves him. President and Sister Christianson came to the service as well. We had some great talks from some members and then it was time for us to sing (again! :)). Sister Lee wanted to sing her favorite song called "I'll find you my friend". It really is a beautiful song, it talks about how we were all friends in the pre-existance and now we are trying to find each other again. It is such a moving piece. I was completely composed until, in the middle of the song, I looked over at sweet Bro. C who had tears streaming down his cheeks, and the spirit of the song became real. We had found our friend. He's now here with us, entering into the gate that is going to lead us back to our heavenly home, together. I never get emotional when I sing but by the end of the song there were no dry eyes in the room. I could feel the angels there, and Heavenly Father's love and pride in the decision that one of His precious son's was making.
The baptism was wonderful, he only had to get dunked once :). After 58 years of experiencing pain, sorrow, grief, and guilt Bro. C is finally free. Free of all of that. Yesterday was the first day of his brand new life. While the participant's changed Sister Lee and I gave a talk on the Restoration and then Bro. C came out to give his testimony. It was simple and beautiful. He talked about how he wasn't much a man for words, that he couldn't even read when he first met the sisters, but that he knows the Book of Mormon is true and that he is going to do all he can to stay on the path. It was honestly the best day of my mission. I have felt no closer to heaven, than when I am in the the Temple. I'm so proud of Bro. C! He is such a good man, its been a privilege to be able to teach him.

The last email that you sent, Dad, made me cry. As I read the schedule of when I will be taking off my name tag I just bawled. I have found myself, in random place, thinking about taking off that name tag and it makes me weep. But (just like you do so often) the next paragraph you wrote, about the name tag just being apart of me, lifted my spirits. Who knew that a piece of plastic could mean so much to someone? I love that black name tag. It has been an honor to wear the name of our family and of our Savior for as long as I have. I hope that I can still always carry it with me, wherever I go. That is what I promised to do when I was baptized, and there is power in keeping your covenants.

I sure love you family, and although I will leave a piece of my heart heart in New York, I am excited to be able to each one of you, because my heart has always been with my family. Have a wonderful week!

Love always, Sister Carter

P.S. I did get the 12 days of Christmas package! Thank you!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thanksgiving Miracles

Dear Family!!!

Wow do I have a lot to write to you! I'm so glad that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I thought about you a lot that day. I'm glad that Mom, Kris, and A'lyssa had some fun Black Friday shopping. I can't believe the stores open so early! Thats kinda nice though, then you don't have to go to sleep, just shop till you drop :).
Well, this is what my Thanksgiving was like (a day full of miracles):
-Worked at the Book of Mormon Publication Site: No one really came in but I got to sit in the original bookstore that the Book of Mormon was put on sale in and write down all of the things that I'm grateful for (with the SUN shining on me! (Miracle :))
-Found my missing CTR (miracle)
-Got a phone call from Bro. C. One of the best phone calls I have ever gotten..... HE IS OFF OF PROBATION!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAY. We couldn't believe it! We danced around for a little while, shouting for joy! He can now be baptized. So we set the date... December 4th! This week. So we've been busy this week planning for his baptism. He'll get baptized this week, confirmed the next week in church, and hopefully I'll get to see him get the priesthood my last Sunday here. The Lord is so gracious with His blessings! I can't believe it.
-Went to eat Thanksgiving dinner at a member's home. The Ellsworths. They are the greatest family in the world. They invited all of the missionaries in the ward over. It really felt homey.
-Made Symphony Pie for a woman in the ward who didn't have family for Thanksgiving. It was fun to get to sit and chat with her
-Ended the night having District Meeting. President and Sister Christianson decided to show up and it was the best night in the world. We watched "The Other Side of Heaven" and drank homemade eggnog. Loved it.

Yesterday we had Zone Conference (that is why I am not emailing until now- my last couple Preparation Days are going to be on Mondays now). We had an 8 hour training on faith! We had to fasten our seat belts. It was incredible. Because it was my last Zone Conference I had to share my "last" testimony to the Zone. Thats a hard thing to do. To be honest I'm not really sure how to act as a normal human being anymore :). I would be lying if I said that I wasn't excited to be home for Christmas and see all of you, but it scares me leave all of this behind. I have loved my mission. With all my heart. It has taught me more about the gospel, and about who my Savior really is then I think I would have learned my whole life. Sister Trujillo, Sister Anderson, and I got to the special musical number for the Conference. It was neat to get to stand next to these two sisters I have come to love so much and sing. We sang the song "He is Real", and I have never sang a song that has meant more to me. So, I just share the lyrics of the song with you, even though its better with music in the background:

"If I could see HIs face, would I believe even more
That He is God's own son, the Redeemer of the the world?
Would I believe His words even more than I do now?
Would I follow more faithfully?

Chorus: By my faith I know that He is real
By my faith I know that He is there
The spirit testifies and warms my soul, with His redeeming love,
and I know that I'll see Him again.

If I could touch His hand, or see the prints upon His feet,
If I could see Him kneeling in prayer to my Father above
Would I believe that He, did it all for me?

And someday I'll see His face wet His feet with my own tears,
and I shall not know more then, than now that
He is real"

That is my testimony. By my faith I know that He is real. Sure love you family!! Have an amazing rest of your week!

Love always, Sister Carter

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Feeling the Spirit at the Whitmer Farm

Dear Family,

There is lots to write about this week so I'll try to get in as much as much as possible. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!! Thank you for sending the Thanksgiving package! I love it.... I devoured the Frito chips in a day :). It sounds like you have some great plans for the Holidays. I always love the bustle of eating dinner together and then trying to squeeze in a nap before BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING!!! Wish I could be there with you, just know that I am there in spirit :).

This last past week has been FULL of miracles! It seems like sometimes, after trials, the Lord just seems to hand you some amazing experiences to keep you going. We had a wonderful lesson with Bro. C this week. We took him down to the Peter Whitmer Farm because it is the last church site he hasn't seen. We had such an amazing spiritual experience. There is nothing like sitting in the downstairs of the log home there and thinking about how far the church has spread since 1830. It had 6 official members in its first organizational meeting and now there are over 14 million members of the church! Pretty incredible. I also love hearing investigators explain how the spirit feels to them. Bro. C kept saying that it felt like "pin-prickles" were going up and down his arm :). We find out if he gets off of probation this Wednesday, and if he does he can get baptized!!! So... we're praying hard.

Another neat thing was a family that we have been working with for a very long time finally came to church this week! It is two sisters that we are working with, Karen and Tiffany, and we just happened to go by this week at the exact times that they needed us and I think it was the Lord softening their hearts enough to let our message move them to action. So they brought all of their kids and we had the entire middle pew FILLED with people! YAY! I haven't experienced that my entire mission. I felt like I was serving somewhere in South America. The Lord has been so gracious with His blessings the last little while.

I had a really neat dream this week. In my dream I was at the church house and there were tons of people running around everywhere. I remember I had a place that I needed to be at but I heard a familiar voice start talking behind me. I looked back and there was President Monson! He was starting a "Mormon Message" (this just goes to show you how much of a missionary I have become :)) but no one was listening. Everyone was just running around not paying attention to him. So I decided to stop and listen. He was talking about a tree that was growing in the corner of the church house. That this tree had a limb that was growing at the bottom of the trunk that was so big and heavy that if they would have left it there the tree would have eventually fallen over. So they had sawed the limb off and grafted in a "good" limb, to support the tree where it was needed so it could grow better (I swear- I haven't even read Jacob 5 in a long time.... too much time out in the Grove I suppose :)). I was super confused by this whole thing and because I didn't understand what he was talking about I started walking away. It was then that he summed up his "message" or the point he wanted to get across. His message was, "Stay your course. Finish what you started to do". Wow! I have no idea what that had to do with the tree but I woke up from that dream feeling like that was direct revelation from Heavenly Father. That morning I had "new" eyes and some moments that seem harder then others I just remember to "stay my course", I'm going to finish this.

I hope that all is good for you the rest of this week. I sure love all of you. I'm okay to fly into St George. That will be fine. I guess I'm just a little nervous about being by myself for a couple hours... but I guess it'll be time to just plunge into being normal again :). Have a wonderful grateful week, and just know how grateful I am for each one of you!

Love always, Sister Carter

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Satan never quits

Dear Family,

Wow! Your letters were so exciting! I couldn't help but feel the butterflies in my stomach when I saw all of the classes that I'm signed up for! I'm SO nervous, but really happy. I feel good about all of those classes (a little nervous about Biology but I think its going to be okay :)), and I hope that as I get back into school things will start to come back to my memory. YES... I would love that job at the Elementary School! That would be such a neat opportunity, especially if education is what I want to go into. It would give me that extra shoe-in to get into the program I want. If the job becomes available I would love if you put in my application. I might need your help to kind of adjust it to fit more of something that they would be looking for. I want them to want me! :) Those hours would be great as well.

I got a hand-copy of my flight plans this week after site meeting. My whole stomach about dropped. I can't even believe it. I feel such a wide-variety of emotions as the end is coming near. I don't think I've prayed or cried more on my mission. My knees are sore for kneeling for so long, pleading that I can end strong. I have never felt Satan so great. He's such a jerk! He gives me every reason to stop, and I've realized that excuses are easy to find. I can feel like I am entitled to be tired and some-what discouraged but we are asked to "remember him... and not hang down our heads" (2 Nephi 10:20). So... sometimes, 5 weeks seems like a short amount of time. Sometimes it feels like an eternity away. I know that I'm going to make it to the end... I just want to do it well. So every day I need a new "rally cry" to get me up, but I know that the Atonement isn't just there to cover our sins. It is there to to sustain and enable us to accomplish the things that we could not on our own.

There is nothing too exciting happening in our area right now. We're actually just trying to find people to teach. Lots of nice people, just no takers. We got our last transfers this week. I'm staying with Sister Lee in Marion. I'm happy about that. She helps me stretch and grow and she doesn't let me give up. We've been doing lots of service lately with the holidays coming. We helped decorate a Christmas tree yesterday!!! YAY!!!!!! So happy! I sure love Christmas. Mom's going to have to start recording all of our cheesy Hallmark channel shows because guess what?! "I'll be home for Christmas" (I have a whole new feeling associated with that song now).

So to end, family. I just want to say thank you. I thank you for figuring out my resume, my apartment situation, staying up till midnight to get me signed up for classes, helping me find a job. I couldn't have a better family in all the world and I know my words don't do it justice, but thank you. Sincerely from my heart. I love all of you more than I can express. I hope you all have the most amazing week.

Love always, Sister Carter

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

You need happiness in your lives!

Dear Family,

Yay for Daylight savings time! Its the closest that we can get to sleeping in as a missionary! Plus it makes it nice not to have to run in the dark, in the mornings. Thank you for taking care of everything with school! I sure appreciate both of you for all your efforts. I think Dad's email came at a perfect time. I am so glad to know that life is still good after this. That the experiences only get richer and more rewarding. I feel as if I am on an emotional roller coaster all of the time. One moment I'm crying because I don't think I can do it one more day, and the next minute I'm crying because that day has ended. With all of this crying I have now become a real Sister missionary :).

We've had a pretty good week this week. It has been relatively nice outside which always lifts my spirits up. We're still finding it very hard to get people to progress in the gospel. Its weird because people will sit out and talk to you for hours but when you ask them if we can come back they never say yes. DOESN'T ANYONE HERE WANT MORE HAPPINESS IN THEIR LIVES!? I'm always amazed when we talk about how this message can improve the quality of anyone's life and their response is, "I'm all set" (Those words haunt me at night :)). Its all okay though. Sister Lee and I were talking about it last night and its really frustrating when people don't pick the right things with their own agency but at least we can decide what we want to do with ours. So.... fellow Western New Yorkers.... although you think that this is all the happiness that life has to offer, I promise you there is more, and it is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We had a really great experience this week with online proselyting. I don't know if you've ever been to but if you go to that website there is a place that you can click on that says "Chat with us". Its a place where you can anonymously ask questions about the church. Now, all of the Visitor Center's are going to be the missionaries that these people get to chat with. So you literally Chat with US! How cool huh? We work in companionships still and just wait for people to get on and answer their questions using the resources the church has online like or You teach lessons online to people! Sister Lee and I taught a girl from Pennysylania last week. She had just received a Book or Mormon and had questions while she was reading. We asked her if she wanted missionaries to come over and help her understand it more and she said YES! So cool. Its fun to get to use technology to further the work.

This week we watched "17 Miracles" at Site Meeting. I don't know if you have seen that yet or not. It was SO sad! It made fasting and tracting in the snow look like a cake walk! I can't believe all of the things the early saints went through. Makes me appreciate what we have so much more.
Well, family. Sure love you. I can't believe Lindsay comes home this week! Tell her how much I love her and I'm sure excited to see her!

Love always, Sister Carter

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Halloween

Dearest family,

Sigh... what a week! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!! I know this is Kreigh and Kris' favorite holiday and so I'm sure Atreyu got all costumed-up. What did everyone dress up as? Did we get any trick or treaters this year for Abby to bark at? This Halloween ended up being a great one for us. We had the ward truck-or-treat on Saturday night which was a lot of fun and then last night Sister Stoker and I got a special invitation to come to the Senior couple's Harvest dinner. They wanted an encore clogging presentation!!! So... we gave them what the people wanted! Sister Stoker and I thought it would be funny to dress-up as a Senior couple as well. So I wore this terrible 80's grandma dress with shoulder-pads and bright red lipstick (although, to their credit, none of the Senior sisters actually dress like that), and Sister Stoker wore a white shirt and tie, and we put flour in our hair to make it look white. Oh the Senior couples LOVED it when we walked in! They think everything we sisters do is cute. It was such a great night. We ate food, enjoyed each other's talents, and Sister Stoker and I performed our famous dance for the last time (she goes home in two weeks). I sure love those Senior couples. They have become my new adopted Grandparents :)

The rest of the week has been pretty good. Its been one of those weeks where you wonder if you're really making a difference. We have people that we are teaching but none of them are progressing. No one is willing to change to get closer to the Savior... frustrating. Its funny because I feel like I'm getting split personalities. Some days I don't think I can wake up and do it again, but then I go to bed and night and feel as if I never want to leave. I had a dream the other night that I was home and Dad told me that it was time to take my badge off. I, first off, told him he had no authority to tell me that (ha) but he told me he had permission from the Stake President to release me. So I took off my badge and as I walked up to him I looked at it. It was banged up, and scratched, and as I walked I thought about all of the things I had experienced wearing that badge. When I finally handed it over to Dad I just sat and cried and cried. The sad thing is... that dream some day, will happen (except it probably won't be Dad :)). And that kinda breaks my heart. But, I'm not going to think too much about that right now. I've still got a month and a half. Every day is a brand new day, thanks to the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Anyway, sure love all of you. You're my rocks. I can't wait to see Baby A WALKING! I'm missing all the good stuff. You're all the best.

Love always, Sister Carter