Tuesday, November 29, 2016

That's No Potato!

My grandma Ruth passed away last week. Ask me who my favorite Canadian is and I'll say her without hesitation every time. If I ever tell the story about receiving my mission call, it's always accompanied with showing the picture of her when I first read "Canada." I grew up on my family's farm and my grandparent`s house was literally less than an eighth of a mile down the road. A road that`s only a quarter mile long in the first place and almost always had someone in my family living in the four houses attached to the farm. I would walk down there with my friends, with my cousins, with my siblings with my nieces and nephews and just myself all for Grandma Ruth. I love her a lot and it definitely sucks a little bit not being with the rest of my family right now, but I`m ok.

See you later, alligator!
My mission president invited me to the mission home and we talked mostly just about how wonderful my family is. He asked me how I was doing and I said I was ok and explained why. Last week my dad mentioned how ìf we could just see a little bit eternally, death would fade completely to a, "See you later, alligator." Whenever I`d leave my grandma`s house to start the walk home, I always left with an "I love you" and "See you later, alligator" from her. She seriously said it so much that my sister Cari made a sign for her that said "See you later, alligator" which she hung proudly at her backdoor. When my cousin Katie visited her this summer, she took a picture of my grandma waving at her back door with the sign just to her left.

I showed that picture to President Pattison, shared my dad's thoughts and said, "That`s why I`m ok." While studying about hope this morning for an investigator, I read a talk by Elder Maxwell that blew my mind it was so awesome, but he basically explains the "See you later, alligator" concept, just in fancy Elder Maxwell words:

​"​Though otherwise “lively,” hope stands quietly with us at funerals. Our tears are just as wet, but not because of despair. Rather, they are tears of appreciation evoked by poignant separation. They will change, erelong, to tears of glorious anticipation. Yet the emptiness is so real and so restless it initiates a retroactive inventory of what is now so painfully missing, doing so, however, while forecasting fulness and resplendent reunion!​"​​

I​t sucks. I won't pretend that it doesn't, but it`s ok.

Sorry, I would tell you about my week, but my mind is completely filled with my grandma and my family. I really appreciate all the love from my family and friends and Sister Van Vleet. I`m lucky I still get to have a ​"​mom​"​ with me to give me hugs through all of this (If you don`t remember from the last time we were companions, I call her Mom, not Sister Van Vleet). Jinny sent me her talk that she gave a couple weeks ago and I'm going to end with a paragraph from that:

​​​"​I want to tell you a little bit about my grandma. Since she’s been sick letters and cards, from all over the world have been pouring in. My grandma thinks that she doesn’t have any talents. Her older sister was musical and popular, and my grandma was shy and athletic in the 1920s when being athletic wasn’t something to brag about for a girl. And so she always tells us that she doesn’t have any talents. But the letters that come say things like, thank you for always calling me on my birthday, and thank you for asking me about my child who you know was suffering. She is always someone people called when they were in trouble and she would listen love no matter the mistakes. Everywhere my grandma goes she hugs people and she loves people and listens to people. She isn’t the person who is always cleaning someone else’s house and taking cookies to everyone. Service is a really important part of loving people. But in conference this quote really stuck out to me, “The greatest form of charity may be to withhold judgement.” And that’s what my grandma does. She just loves everybody, and they feel loved, and so she is everyone’s adopted grandma.​​​"

​Peace and Blessings
Sister Hepworth

P.S. The ward had it`s Christmas party this week and they asked us to do something for the program. We decided we`d read the Wright Family Story and show the new Christmas video (which is incredible if you haven't watched it and looked stuff up about LIGHTtheWORLD stop reading and go do that right now. It`ll blow your mind) and it was all good fun. While we were standing in line to get food, I had a bun (Canadian for roll) on my plate and the kid across the line from me asked ​"​Is that a potato​?"​ I said ​"​No, it`s a bun. It could be a potato dressed as a bun though.​"​ He agreed it was a very real possibility and the kid in front of me leaned over and asked ​"​Is that really a potato?​"​ I laughed and told him no to which he threw his head back and exclaimed ​"​I knew it!​"​ We laughed and kept scooping our salads. As I was walking back to my table, the kid in front of me walked past and yelled out while pointing at my plate ​"​That`s no potato!​"​

​Saw Sister Hill!

A member (Chantal Wood, she`s the best) offered to drive us to a meeting we had to go to on the other side of the city. We had so much fun showing everyone on the highway our Jesus Loves You sign

We had a pre-Christmas feast on the 25th since Sister Van Vleet won`t be here for Christmas (which is in 26 days)

Saw Santa at the Christmas party ;D

Maureen from Sister Van Vleet`s first area took us out for brunch on Monday
We had a makeup and nails party with our investigator`s daughters. I still have the polish on my nails and toes and it`s surprisingly well done for a 4 year old.

Pretend I`m holding up a 14. CANNOT believe it`s already been 14 months.

More proof that the world is ok. MY KELSEY RAE IS NOW SEALED FOR TIME AND ALL ETERNITY. Families are forever man. 


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Real Talk

I've had this saved as a draft for a long time, trying to figure out when/if I wanted to send it. This week in district meeting a recent-ish convert came and we got to ask her all kinds of questions about her experience joining the church. At one point she talked about how she always felt like the missionaries had perfect lives and just always had perfect testimonies and how intimidating it was to her. Then she said that we need to "tell the truth." We've gone through the same process of trying to figure this all out for ourselves, and we need to be more real with people about that. I thought about this...blog post I guess you could call it...and knew now was the time.

It's time for some straight, face to face (well, screen to screen), cold-hard truth talkin'.

Overall, I think I'd say I'm a pretty positive person. I like to be happy, so I try to do happy things. Hence, missions are happy and I talk about all the happy things going on (cause there are TONS). I don't mean to disillusion anyone though. Sometimes it's hard.

Sometimes you get home at the end of the day and think to yourself, "What am I even doing here?" Sometimes there are a few too many people who say no in one day. Sometimes you just want to sleep all day. Sometimes you feel like you've done all you possibly can but nothing happens. Sometimes it seems like there are more questions than answers. Sometimes you miss your family so hard it hurts. Sometimes you just feel absolutely helpless.

Missionaries are still just people. We're living a pretty unique lifestyle and we're set apart and all that jazz, but we're still just a bunch of kids. We go through the same feelings of not being good enough, of not being able to do enough, of not trying hard enough. We all want to feel "successful."

If a successful missionary is measured in numbers (which it's not, but we'll get to that), the truth is that there were about 6 months of my mission that I probably wouldn't have qualified. So for a few more "sometimes:" Sometimes it's hard to watch other people get to see the difference they're making in people's lives. Sometimes it's discouraging to come home at the end of the day and not have taught a single person. Sometimes when people talk about how great their work is going, it's hard to feel happy for them.

It hasn't really bothered me much. I don't mean to make anyone think mission life is terrible and I haven't seen any miracles. It's the greatest thing ever and I've seen a whole whack of miracles. I seriously love it so much. It's just sometimes, it's hard.

A few months ago though, there was a Sunday that all those "sometimes" sunk in a little deeper. President Pattison unexpectedly came to one of our wards for church and my first thought was "Man, I wish we had an investigator at church today." Then I tried to remember the last time I had an investigator at church. Then I thought about the last time I even taught an investigator progressing towards anything. Then I had a whirlwind of all those "You're not good enough" thoughts for the next couple hours:

"Other missionaries have tons of people they're working with at church, you can't even get one? Other missionaries are teaching and finding people all the time, what's your problem? If other missionaries were in this area, the work would be going way better. You must just be a crappy missionary."

I tried to convince myself that I was fine. I thought about everything it says in Preach My Gospel about what it means to be a successful missionary. I reminded myself about the concept Elder Holland spoke on in April, that we get credit for trying. I tried to convince myself that I loved the people so that counts for something. It wasn't working. I sat through church coming to the conclusion that I had obviously failed as a missionary.

I had a couple fleeting thoughts of, "Maybe someone's going to talk about this during the lesson and it'll make me feel better." I brushed them aside pretty quickly. I wouldn't let myself feel any sense of hope or relief; it seemed like I didn't deserve to.

In Relief Society, the lesson started and it the discussion on "good works" began. I was still lost in my thoughts the whole time, not paying any particular attention to anything. When the teacher was finishing her thoughts she said something that changed everything: "It's not about how many (insert whatever it was, I can't even remember) or how many people you baptize; it's about how many people you love."

Whhhhaaaaaaaaatt.

Exact. The exact words I was trying to convince myself of earlier and that I had silently half-heartedly plead to hear, delivered straight to me. Of all the people in that class that day, only two were full-time missionaries who had the call to find and teach those the Lord had prepared for baptism. Only two people in that class of thirty would even be thinking about "how many people you baptize." And it just so happens I was one of them.

I got an answer to a prayer I didn't really let myself say. I wish I could describe the sense of relief I felt as I let those words marinate. I went from being thoroughly convinced I was a pathetic excuse of a missionary to feeling like I'd done something. I love the people I share the gospel with so dang much and that DOES count for something.

Reflecting on it now, the answer of "it's about how many people you love" is so much more profound than just making me feel better about who I am as a missionary. If you've ever been around me while I study anything gospel-y you'll know how obsessed I am with the concept of love. Someone literally asked Jesus what the most important commandment is and he said love God and love your neighbor.

So if you want to be successful in life, it's not about how much money you earn, or about how many likes get on a post, or about how many push-ups you can do, or about the cleanliness (or lack there of) of your house, or about how much you love ice cream, or about when you get married, or about who wants to play with you at recess, or about whether or not you can read music, or about about how many people you baptize.

It's about how many people you love.

Refreshments?

Exchanges with Sister Demillard in Lacombe
Literally. Too many things to talk about.

We've been on two exchanges since last Tuesday! One was out in Lacombe and the other with the Callingwood sisters here in Edmonton. ​Driving out to Lacombe was SO. SCARY. Let's just lay a foundation that I'm from California. I have absolutely ZERO experience snow driving. That night it finally dumped snow again on our way out there. We were all totally safe and life went on but holy cats. I'll take California brown Christmas over scary Canadian white Christmas haha I got to spend the day with Sister Demillard in Lacombe and we seriously had so much fun! Miracles galore and randomly scored a sale at the thrift store attached to the food bank we volunteered at. I also got to spend all day yesterday with Sister Becenti in Callingwood Park. They don't have a car, so we spent the day walking! Heavens I feel for missionaries without cars. I love public transit though. I don't know why, but I seriously love buses.

We all at one point or another taught Jordan
(the double finger gun)
and he was baptized this week! :D
Which now leads to miracle of miracles this week! Yesterday on of the fifty buses we rode a lady sat in the back of the bus a couple seats away from me. I did not think she looked the least bit interested in talking to me, much less about the gospel, but I complimented her nails (which were awesome) and we literally talked the whole bus ride. She was showing me pictures of her family, old haircuts, telling me about her daughter, it was so great. I felt like a real person. It's something I've been thinking/praying/studying/talking about for weeks now. My desire to talk to share the gospel went so much deeper than just feeling obligated to maintain my current commission of talking to everyone. I wanted her to know she could be with her family forever. I loved her so much, I just had to tell her.

The Tagalog Elders that meet with us
when we meet with one of our investigators
She got off before I even got to introduce myself as a missionary or offer her a card or anything. Sister Becenti and I got off a few stops later and went to go find a washroom (Canadian for bathroom, I don't remember if that one's ever come up before). When we went to go get on the bus again, we went one stop and THERE WAS MY FRIEND GETTING ON THE BUS

THE MOOOOOOOOOOON

We got to see some of our favorite
Mt. Pleasant YSA homies! 
Anyways, so she got on our same exact bus again! I saw her right when she walked on and we waved and she ran to come sit by me again. We talked the whole bus ride again about our families and comfort we find in knowing we'll be able to see them again someday. I finally said after talking to her for like 30 minutes, "Wow, I'm the worst, what's your name?" Kelsey. Her name is Kelsey (shout out to my homiest homie back in G-town), so I instantly loved her 50 times more. She's even cut all her hair off and dyed it pink at one point. Well, our bus ride came to an end again and Kelsey started getting off the bus, but mentioned she had to run to go catch her other bus to take her home. When Sister Becenti and I got off she started walking in the same direction as Kelsey and I said, "which bus do we need now?" Ohhh just the same exact one as Kelsey.

The singers at President's fireside.
Also, be expecting big things from this group
for Christmas.
BIG.
We caught up to her at the crosswalk and I told her we were actually getting on the same bus. We went and found seats next to each other again and we read from the Book of Mormon together and talked about how great God is and how cool it was to have met each other. Seriously though. I felt like a human being talking to another human being about something really important to me. Not just a missionary trying to convert someone to my church, which is still a good thing; I just wanted the world for her. That's one of the scriptures we read together. Alma 36:24 "I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste." This just brings me so much joy. Why wouldn't I want others to have it as well?

Exchanges with Sister Becenti;
they were trying to teach me
which knee to pop
cause I never know.
Well in response to my own complaining of too much to talk about I'm probably gonna wrap up here. Just know that I have so much faith in the plan of salvation. I know I'll be able to be with all my family that I love so dang much again some day. Post-mission, but more importantly post-life. Life would be too hard if I didn't know that.

Peace and Blessings
Sister Hepworth

P.S. We got to go sing at a fireside that President Pattison was speaking at on Sunday. When we were practicing a bit before Sister Van Vleet asked "do you think there'll be refreshments?" We all laughed and assured her there probably would be some sort of sugary goodness. Bonus story within the story. The closing song of the fireside was Called to Serve and Sister Van Vleet stood right up to sing it and by the end, everyone in the chapel was belting the most classic missionary song there ever was. We sat back down for the closing prayer and it was a very nice prayer. At the end the kid praying added on "Please bless the refreshments." We lost our reverence for a minute while Sister Van Vleet started smacking everyone in our pew because there were going to be refreshments. They were ice cream sandwiches and they were delicious.
Temple day for the zone




Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Can I Give You Guys a Hug?


Throwback to Tofield and Roni, we've been going back and forth for a few weeks talking about Christmas and today she said "only 40 just like Noah" hahaha So just so you all know, it's only 40 days until Christmas. Sister Van Vleet and I were talking about decorating for Christmas, and I mentioned that there was already a Christmas tree in the apartment. I pulled it out and plugged it in just to show her, and it hasn't been put away. Christmas lights are also on our shopping list today.

We've had an awesome week! We went on exchanges with Drayton Valley and Sister Schatmeier came in to Belmead with me! We both agreed it was the least exchange feeling exchange we've ever had haha It was fun to have her back for a day though! We saw Chrissy and she still has some worries about being baptized, so she wants to wait a bit. She sill totally wants to be baptized and wants to come to church, we just need to help her build her faith and trust in the Lord.

Sister Van Vleet and I were doin some good ol' fashioned door knocking one night and the first several doors, no one was home. We knocked on one house, they turned the porch light on, looked out the window and saw it was us, and turned the light off. Also it was raining. I was feelin a little less than excited about the night ahead of us. The next house though, the girl that answered the door told us she had just recently been discovering God and wanted to find more positive things to fill her life. AWESOME SAUCE that we like to do! Turns out she didn't even live there, so she doesn't usually answer the door and she was sick so double reason not to answer the door. We got her number and before we left she said "Can I give you guys a hug?" I felt loads better after that :D

Another incredible door knocking experience from the week! A super nice lady answered the door who had wanted to come closer to God her whole life and decided to do something about it when she was nine! We talked to her about how great God is and read from the Book of Mormon with her. She wasn't interested in learning more, but before we left she said, "Can I pray with you?" Ummmm yes please! She said a very sweet prayer asking Heavenly Father to bless us. 

This Friday was Remembrance Day which is Canada's version of Veteran's Day. We went to a really cool service at the mall where they had a bunch of armed forces marching all over the place. There were also about 12 bagpipes and a drum line. My heavens it made me miss my high school bang days. I talked to one of the drummer's afterwards and he said I could join their drum line anytime. At one point a minister from a church got up and gave a really insightful speech on war. I wish I could have a transcript of the whole speech it was seriously so good, but my favorite part was when he said to remember that, "Our enemy is not our fellow man, but the forces of darkness."

So the library is being overrun with children and there are a million things we want to do today so thus ends this week's email haha

Peace and Blessings
Sister Hepworth

P.S. Last night at family home evening we played a game where we were blind-folded and had to go find things in the kitchen and take them back to the Relief Society room. I don't even remember what the message was behind the game, but Sister Van Vleet and I went hard. There's a video I'll attach in another email :D

I have no idea what order the pictures are in, but enjoy. I'll let you decipher what's what.


video

So this is only the last minute and a half of the whole adventure. We were supposed to find a bunch of different things including one of my name tags hidden in a "metal container"



Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Neighbourhood Watch

​I don't really have any words for this one
Where does time even go? I cannot believe that it's already been a week. Cannot. Don't tell Sister Van Vleet. She doesn't like to talk about time passing with home just being a few weeks away haha

I wish I could just show you our calendar so you could see how crazy our life has been lately. We've been blessed with so many wonderful people in our lives. We went back over to a family's house we'd tracted into last week and taught the Restoration. At the end we asked the mom if she knew anyone who needed to hear this message about God's love and she said, "Yeah, my husband!" So next time we go over, we'll have the whole family!


​All our homies at Family Home Evening
One lady we're teaching knows the Bible better than anyone I've ever met in my life. She literally just reads the Bible. All day. It's incredible. We'll be talking about something and she'll drop some reference to a Psalm or the middle of Deuteronomy or 1 Corinthians. It's the coolest thing ever. We gave her a book with the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price because she wants all the scripture she can get. 

The member we have come to her lessons is the greatest member missionary I've ever met in my life. She literally does our work for us. She'll get in contact with our investigators, set up lessons with them at her house, and then invite us over. She gave one of our investigators a ride to church and texted us afterwards telling us all about the talk they had driving home where she told our investigator how important it is for her to get baptized. My heavens I love it. 

Exchanges

Seriously so fun!
Exchanges this week were so fun. Sister Fisher came to Belmead with me and we seriously saw so many miracles in one day it would blow your mind. Adam's probably the miracliest miracle though. He was walking his dog and we talked to him for a long time, taught him about God and the Book of Mormon, got his address to meet again and he is now an investigator! We met with him yesterday and he's seriously awesome. He's never really had religion in his life before, but he's so open to learn about it. We're way excited to see how he continues to progress in the gospel. Another miracle is that while we were tracting a super nice girl from Poland let us in, and it was Sister Fisher's first time EVER being let in to someone's house.

​We stopped in 7-11 to use the washroom
(again, gotta use the Canadiadn words,
I'm in Canada)
and the cashiers told us when we walked in
that if we turned out shirts inside out
we'd get a FREE medium Slurpee.
You know I'm down for that. 
We've had a lot of opportunities to talk to new people this week and it's been awesome. Our next week is filling up with people who are willing to let us talk to them which is seriously just the best. We met a super nice Jehovah's Witness a few days ago who let us in right away. We had an awesome discussion about our beliefs versus their beliefs, our missionary work versus their witnessing. She wasn't interested at all, but just so dang nice. I'm excited for the day when random strangers knock on my door and I get to be nice to them. We're compiling a list of people who are nice to us that we're going to go Christmas carol to next month. 

Once again, life is good, the sun is shining, the gospel is true, goldfish are delicious. 

Peace and Blessings
Sister Hepworth


​My funny pose
was just to copy the pose President Pattison
always does.
Funny picture or not.
P.S. We were walking around a neighbourhood, as we so often do, and some homeboy came up behind us and said "Hey I'm with Neighbourhood (Gotta spell it like a Canadian, I'm in Canada) Watch..." and then he looked down at our name tags, got all red and said "Oh...uhh..." You better watch out for those crazy sister missionaries. They'll getchya. We'll even offer to rake your leaves for you. Disgraceful. Don't worry, we left him with our card and an invitation to learn about Jesus haha

P.P.S. 47 days until Christmas!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

SHE'S BACK

SISTER VAN VLEET IS BACK. LITERALLY THE HAPPIEST OF THE HAPPIES. When President called and told me I gasped for a solid 5 seconds. It's pretty crazy since she's going home the end of this transfer and we've already been companions for two transfers BUT THAT DOESN'T EVEN MATTER. SO. HAPPY.

​We carved a pumpkin for Halloween :D 
This week has been awesome! I run into the same dilemma every week of not know where to start and not knowing which stories to include haha We've been working hard and are seeing some cool miracles! We've been tracting several times this week and people actually let us in! It's incredible! One lady in particular said she'd actually met with missionaries a long time ago and already had a Book of Mormon. We had a great discussion about the Restoration and she said she wanted to see more support from the Bible, so we gave her lots. We're excited to see her again this week. 

​The sisters in Red Deer found this sign
and took a picture
according to how they thought
I would have taken a picture.
I Approve.
Chrissy blows my mind. I just love her to death. Crazy things are goin' down for her right now, but she just loves her kids and everyone around her so much. In figuring out what to do moving forward, she is constantly thinking about how it affects everyone else. We had a powerful lesson with her on Sunday. My heart just explodes with love for her. The love I feel for her and the love I know Heavenly Father feels for her. We literally just got a text from her as I was typing this out that is just full of how much faith she has. She's the best. 

We got to sing with the primary kids for the primary program in Belmead this Sunday. They asked us to come up and sing along to "We'll Bring the World His Truth." I've sung that song a million times, but it's never felt so real before. I am the Lord's missionary, bringing the world His truth. Every day I'm reminded of just how true it is as I live it, as I study it, as I see the difference it makes in people's lives. 

​Our last seflie.
Obviously it had to be a temple selfie.
I love being here. I said to Sister Van Vleet this morning, I wish everyone could just come up here and I could just keep being a missionary but still get to see and hang out with everybody but still get to teach people. *sigh* If only.

Opposites are real. In order to understand that God is real, we have to understand that Satan is real. If Satan is real, then God has to be real. We've seen that so much this week. In people's lives, in the scriptures, it's everywhere. Even Joseph Smith. Before he had his vision of the "pillar of light" he was engulfed in a "thick darkness." It's a perfect contrast. Satan is darkness. God is light. When we go through hard things and understand how real the adversary is it just sets us up to understand how real God's love is. "The greater our sorrow, the greater our capacity to feel joy."

Peace and Blessings
Sister Hepworth

​The tri-pan reunited! Only for a couple minutes, but still! :D
P.S. Basically every second Sister Van Vleet and I spend together could qualify for this part of my letters, but I'll go with the picture from the top. Sister Van Vleet was getting all settled and unpacked when she couldn't open the bottom drawer of the desk. She had already opened it before and put things in there, but for whatever reason, she couldn't get it open. We both tried everything we could think of to get that drawer open. She was shoving knives in the cracks to try and get rid of something that might be jamming it.
​Went to a super cute/mildly famous bakery in our area
and Sister Van Vleet had her first macaroon!
We both tried propping both feet against the desk and yanking as hard as we could. We tried gently opening it. We tried just shaking it around. We couldn't get it. We decided our next option was to prop the desk on its side to see if maybe something would just magically fall into place. It didn't work, so when I grabbed the desk to put it back down, my finger touched the little metal piece that was locking the drawers. You barely have to touch it and the drawers open right up. A solid 30 minuets later, we put the desk back in its place and she finished unpacking.

​Ring Pops as an anti-trunky for Sister Van Vleet since she goes home in 5 weeks.

​And ice cream of course.


Bonus picture, she also tried to bring her stuff from the car to the house in a grocery cart someone left in front of our house. She may have run into the house a few times.