Monday, November 25, 2013

Life is Amazing Out Here in the Field

Pues. (well.) Life is amazing out here in the field. So happy. Every day.... I can't even imagine how much happier I can get, there has to be a maximum at some point! Don't get me wrong, it's crazy hard out here and my faith is challenged every. single. stinkin. day. BUT everyday I also see miracles and those always win :) Love it! SOOOOOO. Guess what? Only had two baptisims this Sunday. But that's ok! It was L's daughters, J and M! Love them sooooo much. Can't even tell you. M is painfully shy and we weren't sure she'd make it through the interview with our district leader... she was just clinging to me before hand and then after she was attached to me for probably half an hour. But then she got over it. And then we were a little afraid she'd panic right when she was going in the water... But she did so great! I have pictures... I'll try to send them soon. L is working on getting  a job and we talk to EVERYONE about the gospel and if they know anywhere that she could live. Literally. Everyone. I will see her baptized yet! We've been talking a lot with the bishop and he understands our struggle and just said to let her know that she can act like she's a member until she's baptized. He'll give her an assignment in the ward (can't set her apart, but still good!) and she can pay her tithing and get a visiting teacher and everything! I love being with them. They are so great! So full of faith. So ready to change their lives. They are the best. And they love us so much. They hate it when we leave.

Also cool! I'm going to cut and paste this from my letter to my President...

Well we are currently at a bit of a crossroads, because most of our investigators are either working on baptism/have been baptized or are in the dropping zone. We don't have many in the middle. So we have been trying to find some new people to teach this past week. Saturday we tracted into G. Wow. G is an amazing woman. She is in her late 50s/early 60s and she is about the most family/service oriented person. We stopped by while we were doing harvesting blessings, she said that she would love the prayer but wasn't going to let us in because she was cleaning for a big family gathering that day. We got talking and soon she invited us in and then we ended up staying there for probably close to an hour while she told us about her family and her struggles with her health. After a while she stopped and said "Wow I'm talking too much, but you are just so easy to talk to! I can feel that you are good people, I can feel your energy and I feel like crying, I love it!" or something to that effect. So she is awesome. We left her a Book of Mormon and an assignment and then we are going back tomorrow to start teaching her! So great.

So. Love that. Kindered Spirits definitely. Wow. There are so many million more things I could say! But I shall forbare, like Moroni. Last spiritual thought! Top three things I've learned since being in Fresno:

1. Righteous people are not righteous because they are perfect. They are righteous because they repent and forgive quickly.
2. Happy people are always grateful people.
3. We really only have one choice in life and that is how much we are going to let Heavenly Father Bless us.

Love you all so much!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ok so big news! Had my first baptism yesterday!!!!! Her name is E and she's 16. Such a neat experience. Her whole family came to church, which is significant because her mom is investigating still, her step-dad hasn't been interested thus far, and her 10 year old brother doesn't really care (he's young, not surprising). So all of them were there for church and the baptism! So great. I spoke on the Holy Ghost and it was just overall such a cool experience. Pictures to follow.

Second big news, we're hopefully having three more baptisms next Sunday! Remember L?? Well she has four daughters  and two of them are baptism age. J is 11 and M is 9. Both girls are really shy, M painfully so. We've been at their house almost everyday since I've got here. But we've really been working with them and now we're basically family. L is doing so well, her face is brighter and brighter, she laughs a lot more, she's cooking and being homey.... it's so amazing to see the Spirit step in and change people! Just amazing.  L said they've been fighting extra lately, no surprise because Satan knows they're getting baptized and is being a jerk and not leaving them alone... so they are praying every night as a family and then L is reading them a Book of Mormon reader, you know the kid book with pictures? Every night! And then last night we challenged the girls to make their bed every morning and to count to 10 every time they get frustrated... they promised to, hopefully they will be able to get along better! So we're just working on finding them a new place to live.... kind of for free until L can get a job. I've never prayed so hard. So just pray for her! We believe in and expect miracles.

Also I'm getting a little sick, but will be better soon... hopefully. Just a cold. Also.... last week we had my first zone meeting... Elder Goettman (my new district leader) told me one of my first days that he was singing at it and wanted a pianist.... so me. Well by Monday he didn't know what he wanted yet, tried to give me arrangements I could play if I had two hours, funny thing is I don't have two hours. Ended up switching to us singing a duet accapella... Well ten minutes before the meeting we managed to find a piano player, and alto and a tenor (he sings base and I sing soprano these days) and we had a beautiful quartet! It was called 'I love the Lord' which is just different words to the tune of 'Be still My Soul'.... so great.

Well.... I think that's about it for now. I love you so much and I miss you all!!!! God be with you!

Hermana Zollinger
Kelsie's district in the Missionary Training Center in Mexico City, just before the all left for their various Spanish-speaking assignments...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

First Week in California

OK, so I have a million and two things to tell you!!!!

First off, I miss my district like crazy. Second, I had a great day when all my district was gone and it was just me! I stayed with the newest district and I got to be really good friends with the sisters there. Fast forward 24 hours and what am I doing?!?!!? Eating dinner with THE Larry Gelwix in his dining room!!!!! There were three big tables, and I was assigned as the only sister missionary at HIS table, with five other elders and him and his wife!!!! WHAT?!?!?! SO cool right?! Loved it. He is so great! I thought he'd be more intimidating, but he is super duper nice! In my interview with him he only asked three questions.... tell me a little about yourself and why you are here, what can I do to bless your (me Kelsie) life, and finally, do I have to be worried about you or are you going to do what you know is right? Super great, super fast. Got my bike, got my new companion!!! Haven't ridden the bike at all, and it sounds like I probably won't while I'm in this area, which sounds like could be a long time because my trainer only has three transfers left! She has two for sure with me to train me and then only one, so she thinks I'll take over this area as Senior companion when she's done. That's her guess, we don't know. Obviously. Her name is Sister Organista, she's from El Salvador!!! So I'm being taught Spanish by a native speaker, so great! My spanish has launched, I know so much more and am comfortable with so much more in this past week than 6 in the CCM and WAY more than 3 years in High School. Gracias por nada Chisago! (Thanks for nothing). Anyways, so excited. She is helping me so much. She says that she is really impressed because I'm not afraid to talk and that I like to take the lead (in English lessons anyways) and she's really good about pulling me into Spanish lessons and helping me say my part, however small. She is so good for me. She's pretty quiet, but happy. It's good for me to slow down and talk less haha. Interferes with the Spirit a veces when I'm so crazy and talking all the time. (a veces is sometimes). Speaking of which, last night I was writing in my journal and I could NOT write in English! It was the strangest thing! Spanish just kept coming. Here in Kerman we teach both English and Spanish, non discrimininatory. For some reason this small ward managed to get three sets of missionaries... the district leader, the zone leaders, and some fierce sisters! I don't know how that happened. Some areas don't even have missionaries, and it's not like it's a big ward, or even a big town! It's pretty similar in size to Forest Lake I'd say.

By the way, I love California! It is so beautiful! It's so strange because it's well into the 60s everyday, but in Walmart there's Chirstmas stuff everywhere! The trees (that aren't palms) are turning colors, it is so gorgeous. Kerman is very beautiful, pretty sure I'm going to live here someday. I love it.

 There are so many poor people here... no one has a car to get to church. The members are so great. Sister Nehring is a ward missionary and she does so much to take care of us and drive investigators.... so much! And no we aren't living with her, she just really takes care of missionaries! She's awesome. We live in a very nice apartment... two full bathrooms plus showers just for the two of us! So we each just take one, it's great! We have about 35$ a week to live off of... nigh impossible. especially this week cuz I had to buy sheets and shampoo and a lot of extra stuff besides groceries. Soon I'll be able to figure out how to shop... it's really hard because you never know when someone's going to feed you. I have never been so hungry or so full than now... Either you're with a member and they stuff you or your own your own trying to ration the food you have.... it's nuts.

Also can you please send my red and yellow piano books with LDS arrangements?? Kerman has like no musical abilities. I'm going to try to change that, but they haven't had a piano player for the Spanish group like ever, so I play for their meeting on Sunday and like no one leads music really.... I don't know. They are so so grateful... in sacrament meeting they said "We have a new missionary, Sister Zollinger, and she is going to be playing piano for us. Thank you so much Sister Zollinger for your years of study! We appreciate it!" all in Spanish of course. And then they told me I was already a great blessing to them. They are so kind! I don't even play that well because I don't really have time to practice!

I'm much healthier now, also no one here can pronounce Zollinger, Hipanic or white, it's hilarious. My first baptism is this Sunday!!! Her name is E, she's 17. So excited. We're working on her mom and her younger brother. L hopefully will be ready to be baptized by the end of this month, along with her two oldest daughters. Our goal this month is 4 baptisms... definitely possible, God willing. Pray for them!!!

Well I love you all so much, so good to hear the update!!!! Thank you for all your prayers and support!

LOVE, Hermana Z

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Letter From a California Family

Hello Zollinger family!!

We are the Nehring family, and we live in Kerman, CA, a small rural community west of Fresno.  Your daughter arrived here last night, and we are so happy to have her here! We have three daughters, so we are grateful for the example the Sisters set for them!! Her trainer, Sister Organista is a wondeful missionary!

Our ward is small, but growing! We have a Spanish group that we are hoping to grow into a Branch in the next two years. The missionary's hard work is very much appreciated!  There are six missionaries in our ward right now, as our ward boundaries are nearly the size of the state of Rhode Island!  The Sisters cover the east side of Kerman, Biola, Easton and the western edge of Fresno.

Kerman is an agricultural community that grows grapes, almonds and cotton. It is a very nice place to live.

We will take good care of your daughter and the rest of the missionaries!

The Nehrings - Kevin, Lora, Amanda, Rebecca and Katrina

Monday, November 4, 2013

California Here I Come!

So I went to the doctor last week and just found out the results today. Everything pretty much is normal.... the doctor has no idea. I´ve still been having pain when I laugh in my side in the usual place.... he´s going through everything he can think of, he says that it could be some mis-junction in my ribs with the cartilige and be completely unrelated to everything else. Yeah it´s pretty frustrating... I was hoping they´d find something just so there was a way to move forward! But alas, no.... It´s been crazy. But I´m really hopefully that just being in the States and having a bit more normal schedule long term will help my body to calm down... little nervous for the flight, but I know everything will be ok. This time I´m flying with four or five other elders going to the Fresno mission. At least I won´t be alone and they´ll be able to help me if need be. I don´t know them at all though, they were all Beginners and my district was Intermediate. Pero está bien.

I knew that one of the hardest things I´d go through in this mission is saying good bye. And like the thing is is that my district is all each other´s first converts. That´s one of the biggest things they stress here is that you have to be your own first convert and that everything you want your investigator to do, like read, have meaningful prayers, feel the Holy Ghost, etc is what Heavenly Father wants for you. And we have all more thoroughly converted each other. It´s tough, but I know that I will stay in contact with a lot of them.

I´ve just really gained a testimony of loving the people you serve and the people you serve with. I´ve learned that I tend to be pretty judgmental at people´s face value and since I got stuck with people and had no choice but to get to know them, I´ve made the best friends ever. Some of my most favorite people in my district are the people I really disliked the first week. So I´ve just really tried to gain a testimony of loving everyone on the benefit of the doubt until you can learn their story and love them for real. I´ve learned so much here... like two or three weeks ago I told Hermana Hurley that if I had to go home right then, I´d be ok because everything I´ve learned here has changed who I am or at least who I realized I want to become. I´m so grateful I get another 16.5 months to really solidify the lessons I´ve already learned and to learn new ones though! It´s been a crazy crash course. 

 I´m so excited to get into the field I just opened an email from the APs in Fresno... they said day one 
we´re just going straight into the field with a temporary experienced companion and going for it. So excited! During this hard time  I´ve never felt more peaceful. I´m so excited to go and do the Lord´s work, it´s just hard to leave this family behind. But in a blessing last week while I was sick, Elder Lund (who gave the blessing) promised me that  my future companions would be like family to me also and I would have that bond. I just keep trying to focus on the fact that alll the love I feel right now will soon be felt again as I get to know my new companions and members. 

Just to close, I want to testify to you of the power of prayer, and also of the right to God´s power we hold. Every time before we go teach, I pray for us, and I always specifically ask God for His power. The first few times I felt a literal light drop into my chest. Everything we have in this gospel is because someone specifically asked for it, be it the true church, the power of the priesthood, the keys to baptism... all of it is because someone asked. Ask God for exactly what you want and it will be given to you. Ask for His power in your life. It is so amazing. I know this Church is true and I know that trials are a blessing. I thank God for my trials sincerely every night. I couldn´t be happier to serve a mission and to love the angels that God has put in my life. I love you all so much and I pray for you. 

All my love,

Hermana Z