Monday, March 24, 2014

MARCH 24, 2014

Letter to Mission President:

Well, this week has been crazy! Zone conference was indeed a day of Pentacost. I have never received so much revelation for my area before. I think that's a combination of how awesome the conference was and also of my increased sense of responsibility for my area now that Sister Organista is gone. I got a lot of answers for a lot of my investigators. The next day (Sister VanWie's birthday) we got two surprise calls. One from Sister Peters, our training sister, telling us that due to scheduling difficulties, our exchange for next week had to be moved to that night! And also from Sister Crandall (she just was a Coordinating Sister, like an Assistant to the President, and she's travel training her last transfer of her mission), telling us that she would be with us from Saturday night until Tuesday afternoon! So we were a bit stressed, but it has really been the most de-stressing experience. I went to Chowchilla that night and for the first time in a long time just felt completely at peace. I wasn't stressing about our members, our lessons, finding the new investigators... because while I was in Chowchilla there was nothing I could do besides pray. It was the closest thing to a weekend I have experienced in my mission. Not that we didn't work hard in Chowchilla, because we really did work hard. It just was a lot more peaceful. It was really what I needed. Sister VanWie did really well leading the area while I was gone as well. She is just so great! Then we have had Sister Crandall with us for the past two days. Wow, she is so amazing! She really has built up my confidence since she has been here, she has really been nothing more than compliments for us and it just helped me realize that I am doing the right thing and that I shouldn't be so stressed about it all. Sister VanWie and I are a solid team, and I just need to trust in the Lord and do my best. Sister Crandall is also amazing at talking with everyone. Both Sister VanWie and I are learning a lot about that from her, and we are excited to put that into practice more. That's a weak spot for both of us as missionaries. So we are excited to make weak things become strong!

Just a cool story for you this week. I don't remember if I told you about our mystery man last week, so I will tell you from the beginning. Last week in weekly planning, Sister VanWie and I prayed to know how many people we were going to baptize this past Sunday. We separately distinctly felt that we were going to baptize a man. Well we had no men in our teaching pool. So we figured, he could be like Jose Luis, who we taught and prepared up to baptism and then he moved ready to baptize to a different ward. So we were determined to knock doors every where to find this man. We really focused on making time to find. Every door we went to we were extremely blunt and bold with because we were looking for a man that was prepared enough to recognize us as representatives of Jesus Christ and was ready to be baptized. Well, the moral of the story is, we didn't find him. But we did find about 4 other families and got return appointments with them for the coming week. From this we learned a few things. One was a chastisement. We hadn't been making time for Harvesting Blessings or finding because we were teaching so many people. We also had got into a "rhythm". Searching for the one who was prepared made us bold, direct, and powerful. So we are going to make every week's finding something like this past weeks. Searching for the one. We also learned that both of us are extremely ready to follow every prompting from the Spirit, even if it is crazy. We know that God knows from this that He only needs to give us the feeling and we will do everything we can to follow it. So this experience has changed us as missionaries. We can't wait to go out and find those prepared people!

Kelsie’s letter to her mom:

Yup. So we had Zone Conference last Thursday and literally it was like trying to drink from a fire hydrant... it was exhausting. But so good. I felt really good and ready afterwards. We also had FIO time (figure it out) with our patriarchal blessings.... I got so much more from it than ever before! It was just so good.

As far as the work in my area. This has been the single most busy time in my mission. We taught 7 lessons our first day together, including 4 member presents. Then a few days later we taught 6 in one day. Normal is 3, 4 is pretty good. It was ridiculous. Member trust is through the roof. There was a ward activity while I was in Chowchilla, and so many people panicked that I had left for good. A lot of people came up to me Sunday and told me they had missed me and were really glad I was still serving in Kerman. I love those people. Sister Molloy actually told me I'm the reason why they started feeding missionaries again. (And by feeding them again, I mean every Sunday night that is where we go, not just once in a while on the calendar.) She told me she almost throat punched Elder Benites Saturday when I was gone... haha! She said she panicked when she saw different sisters without me and then went and asked Elder Benites "Where's Sister Zollinger?! She's just on exchange right, she's coming back?" And he jokingly said "Nope. She's gone." Haha, she almost killed him hahahaha... yeah. Moral of the story I love my ward and they love me. We are currently preparing for General Conference weekend. So excited!

Well, I love you! I miss you a lot! Please send pictures of the basement, it sounds incredible!!!!

<3 Hermana Zollinger

I have never seen a week so full of miracles!

MARCH 17, 2014

Kelsie's Letter to her mission president:

Well, this week was perhaps the single hardest week of my mission. At the same time I have never seen a week so full of miracles. I testify that God gives us hardships so that He can bless us more abundantly. All we need to do is do our best to push through and live with no regrets, and then God will consecrate our sacrifice to our benefit tenfold. 

This week has been so hard for about a million reasons. My uncle's passing, my trainer leaving me with her area, Sister Organista leaving (that's two hardships in one, she's such a great companion on top of being a fantastic trainer), working with three different companions in one week, trying to help my new companion learn the area as fast as possible... But we are determined to figure it out!

Sister Organista is very reserved, and I realized since being with Sister VanWie that I only talked when Sister Organista and I were outside with people! We pretty much never talked in the apartment or in the car unless it was absolutely necessary. She's just really quiet, it wasn't like we fought all the time. I actually started losing my voice the past few days from such a dramatic increase of talking.  I can just talk to my companion now! It's great! I hadn't realized just how lonely I was getting. I'm also repeating in my mind "I am a representative of Jesus Christ" a lot through out the day, and just saying that over and over in my mind helps me a lot! Again, I'm sorry, and I just hope you know that each of us are doing everything in our control and we are taking this extremely seriously. I'm starting another Purification Challenge after dinner tonight as well. I'm not going to let you down President!

As far as other miracles I've seen this week... Lupe got baptized last Sunday! Sister Gneiting and I had an AMAZING day Tuesday as we were together waiting for Wednesday transfers. She inspired me so much to Talk with Everyone! She is just so happy and sweet, I learned sooooo much from her Tuesday! We also found two GOLDEN new investigators that Sister VanWie and I are going to see tomorrow. So excited. Then I met Sister VanWie and it was pretty much love at first sight. We are very similar in a lot of ways. She is also AMAZING at giving constructive correction. She just tells me straight up when she thinks there is a problem but somehow does it in a very loving way and it's just so great. She's so obedient and she loves to work hard. She also loves to try out new ideas! That's so awesome. Sister Organista loved to stick to tried and true, and I had some ideas of new things that she wasn't excited about because she didn't like change. Sister VanWie is all about trying new things and leaving yesterday behind for a better tomorrow! It's just been a fun change. I still miss Sister Organista a lot though. The whole ward does, and so do our investigators. 

This week we had an amazing few breakthroughs with a part member family. The Bontragers. They are fairly newly married, in their 30's. She is a member that is trying to reactivate herself. She and I have become good friends in the time I have been here. Her husband is a firefighter, he's very stubborn and pretty shy. Well, my dad is a firefighter, and I'm pretty stubborn, and I'm pretty good at pulling people out of their shells. So we started officially teaching him Friday night. We were supposed to a week and a half earlier, but things had fallen apart. Anyways, after dinner Friday I talked to Sister VanWie for about an hour, and I started crying from an exhausting week/mission. It was really hard. She was extremely supportive. I new we needed to get out and get at least one more lesson done that night. So I said a prayer in my head and started a fast, and then I glanced down at my planner and saw the Bontragers' name. They were a back up plan, but I just knew that was where we needed to go. So we went. I explained the situation to Sister VanWie and said "This lesson needs to be perfect if we are going to teach again. Also, I prepared for Lesson 1, but we need to teach Lesson 2." I just felt that was what was right. Also, they just happened to be both home, which never happens. So we went and President, the lesson indeed was perfect. The Spirit was so strong and that man just opened up. Sister Bontrager was great too, just being so loving and supportive and not pushing him.... it was amazing. I invited him to be baptized and we were able to set a date for April 20th. For a man who wasn't planning on being baptized for several years if ever. We also set a return date for Sunday night. Well Sunday just Sister Bontrager came to me and expressed concern that we were pushing too hard. So we talked about it, and we decided to be a little bit softer. But we went Sunday night and had a fantastic lesson on the Restoration (instead of finishing Lesson 2, we had to follow the Spirit and teach Lesson 1) and by the end he said that he had a desire to know if the Book of Mormon was true or not. It was just great. We're going back on Wednesday. President, I know for a fact that I personally was sent to this man. Without my background with a fireman's life and the fact that I am a sister missionary, I don't think we would have been able to teach him. But he is moving right along. It was really hard growing up with a firefighter, because my dad was gone for 24 hour shifts every other day. But that experience is helping me to unite a family and hopefully bring them to the temple. I wouldn't trade my dad being a firefighter for the world, or any other challenging experiences I've had because it makes me me, and sometimes that's the only person that can help a specific child of God.

I know this church is true. I've had a lot of great experiences Teaching People, Not Lessons this week. I am feeling strong after a very hard week. I feel peace in knowing that Heavenly Father knows my weaknesses and that I am here for a reason. He also knows my strengths and is helping me to become stronger every day. I love Him so much, and I know that He knows I would do anything for Him. He has my whole heart. 

Lupe got baptized!

On Thursday, March 6, Kelsie’s Uncle Phil Zollinger died suddenly of a heart attack in Minnesota.  Her mother notified the mission home, and Kelsie’s mission President Gelwix called Kelsie to tell her the news.

MARCH 10, 2014

KELSIE’s Letter to the Mission President:

Well, this week was certainly an interesting week. The last few days have been very hard for me. Receiving your phone call about the death of my uncle and trying to deal with that is pretty close to impossible. It's so hard to sort through those feelings anyways, but even more so being away from my family and trying to work at the same time. Saturday night we took it easy. Elder Cook gave me a blessing that was really helpful. God always knows what you need. Sunday was Lupe's baptism, and that was exactly what I needed. We'd been planning for this day my entire mission. It was so easy for me to be distracted and happy beyond belief. But then Sunday night was really hard again. I'm looking forward to my email with my family. 

We actually were at Lupe's house when you called. I couldn't have chosen a place I'd rather be. Lupe was such an amazing support to me. She cried with me and hugged me and she kept saying "Just be strong Sister Zollinger. Isn't that what you're always telling me? You have to be positive. God knows what he is doing even if it doesn't make sense. That's always been what you've taught me. I'm so grateful for you girls in my life and what you are giving up for Jesus." And many other things. It just helped me so much to hear those things in the first place, and two because it just showed that the things we've been teaching her are really sticking. It means that we're making a difference. And it's because of that I know that I cannot go home or quit until I am done and have done every thing I can. Lupe was my 10th baptism since I started my mission 5 months ago. That's 10 people who have entered the gate. Even though this has been so hard for me, being sick in the MTC, the car accident, and now my uncle's death, I would go through it all over again without thinking if it meant that those same people got baptized. As much sorrow and pain I've been through these past few months, the joy of seeing my new friends (family really) getting baptized and seeing their quality of life skyrocket is far beyond anything I've gone through. 

Although I am starting to feel a little wary. In every blessing I've had from the accident and also from my uncle's death, they have all said something about God giving me these trials so that I can be an example to others. I'm just a little nervous, because I'm starting to get the feeling that these sort of bigger trials are just starting. But if God is giving me these trials because he knows I will never quit and he needs someone to be an example of that, then so be it. I'll do it. 

Lupe's baptism was so special. She was so happy. We had a wonderful program. Our Relief Society President spoke and so did the Bishop's wife. And Sister Nehring. Each just spoke with tears. Our ward has surrounded Lupe and never given up as we've tried to help her through all of her trials. She is a completely different woman now, and she will continue to grow. My greatest wish since I've met her was for her to be baptized, more than any other thing in life really. And it has finally happened. 

I'm really sad to see Sister Organista go, and I'm kind of stressed out about leading the area, but I have a lot of support from my district, my zone, and from my family and friends back home. I know that this is God's mission, not mine, and I am ready to throw all of my trust in him and work until he tells me I'm done. 

 Kelsie's letter to her mom:

So this has been a very hard couple days out here, I'm sure it has been at home as well. I really really really want to be home right now. Just to be there with every one and go through this together. It's really hard to think about all of this and the family getting together and being stuck out here. But I know this is where I have to be, and I'm trying so hard to not let it affect my work. I really miss and love all of you. Every one is taking good care of me out here. It was a very tender time with Lupe. She told me when I left, all of her girls started praying for me and Josie was crying for me. They are so sweet and I love them dearly. After dinner Saturday (when I found out) Sister Organista called Elder Cook (my district leader) and Elder Benites and we all met up at the Kerman chapel. They brought some chairs outside and we just talked every thing over for like an hour and a half and then Elder Cook gave me a fantastic blessing. He said that "God has carefully placed these trials in your life"... in a way that's comforting (this applies to every one by the way, not just me) because it mean's God has a purpose for everything he does and he knows what the greater cause is... but at the same time it's just so hard.  Please tell the whole family and especially Sue how much I love them and that I'm praying for them.

Well, this is kind of hilarious. Lupe got a new puppy that the girls love, and it's not potty trained  yet. So it's pooping and peeing everywhere. Cruz (the boyfriend) said either the puppy goes or he does. So... the puppy didn't go. And he moved into the trailer next door. And we baptized her promptly. On Sister Organista's last Sunday. It's cool because we (us and Elders Cook and Benites) went over for dinner last Wednesday and Elder Benites gave her a blessing because she'd been really sick. He said in the blessing "you will be baptized soon" and we were excited... little did we know that meant that Sunday!

Lupe's baptisim!!!! It was so special. Elder Goettman is the one who found her and he got transferred way done south to be a zone leader, but he got permission and came back up to baptize her!!!! Such a special day!

I have a new companion coming on Wednesday. I think it's Sister VanWees, but I'm not sure... I'll let you know once I've read the name tag a few times. Love you all so much.

I really love you and I miss you all!

This week was a fantastic week to be a Mormon Missionary!

MARCH 3, 2014


Well, this week was a fantastic week to be a Mormon Missionary! First off I just want to thank you for your remarks at the Fresno West Stake Conference. Sister Organista and I were very touched. I hope we know that I love you like I love my dad and that I pray for you several times every day! I don't know of any other mission president who's mission loves him as much as yours loves you. Not just your missionaries, but all the stakes and members! You are so great. Thank you so much for your righteous leadership and all the training that you give us. I love you!

So as far as miracles... the past two weeks have been pretty tough for me, but Friday and Saturday were worth working for! They were just great. Friday, Sister Organista and I did our weekly planning. We have a couple people who could get baptized any time now, depending on how we use our time. So we prayed to know who was going to get baptized this week so we knew where to focus our efforts. Sister Organista felt strongly that we were going to have one baptism this week, and I felt strongly that it would be a man named Jose Luis. We have not officially taught a lesson to Jose Luis, we just did a church tour (with Brother Nunez.... side note, Brother Nunez is pretty much creating the Spanish Branch at this point. He goes out regularly with each set of missionaries that are assigned to Kerman. He's amazing.) The cool thing about Jose Luis is that he had missionaries before and had a Book of Mormon already and everything! It's just that he moved and lost contact with the church. The hard thing is that we just found out that he is moving next Sunday afternoon outside of the mission! Nevertheless, we got the feeling he's getting baptized. So, we planned out lessons for every day this week so that he could be prepared to be baptized next Sunday. We were going to teach him for the first time Friday night, so everything weighed on how that lesson went. Being our first lesson. Well, we went out with our day... it was raining and windy and miserable. None of our appointments were home so what did we do? Knock doors. I was just thinking "This is so cold. There has to be something better we could be doing." But we just kept going. No success with three Catholic doors.... FINALLY this young family let us in. Well we were there for at least an hour. This young wife's mother had just died a month ago. She cried as she explained how hard it was for her and her family and that her siblings were losing faith in God and how much that hurt her. We started to explain that we had a message that could bring peace, we talked just briefly about the plan of salvation, and just more tears came. It was amazing. So we're going to follow up with her tomorrowish and teach her the rest. Tender mercy. Well, after that we went to go teach Jose Luis. We were going to a members house, and he followed us there but WAIT the member left without telling us.... so now we're in the rain, and this lesson HAS to happen and there are no women to be found in order to get into a building. So he agreed to drive to the church with us. We went there and there was some church function going on so we were good to go! President, the whole lesson I was just trying not to laugh. The lesson was text book perfect. He was so in to it. It was amazing. So we invited him to be baptized in a week. He said the only thing that would stop him is that his best friend doesn't live here and he's the one that introduced him to the church, so he's trying to get in touch with him to come over Sunday! So we're praying for that. So awesome! He also told us Friday that as he was praying and telling God he wanted to go to church, that's when we walked up and started talking to him.... so THAT feels pretty fantastic. Sometimes you hear those stories and think "Wow... those missionaries are so good and are listening to the Spirit in order to work out that timing!".... but it wasn't like that. We are obedient every day and work hard, but it wasn't like "RUN SISTERS THERE'S A MAN PRAYING AND YOU NEED TO BE THERE NOW!" We just started knocking doors where we left off and God made it all work out. So cool.

Saturday we also tracted into a new family and had a great experience teaching the restoration! It's so great to be a missionary.

So that's kind of long, sorry. But it was just too cool. I love being a missionary. I'm super sad that Sister Organista is leaving, but I'm excited for a change in the way that missionary work is going on here in Kerman. I'm excited to learn with a new companion and keep things rolling!

Love you tons! Good luck with Transfer Boards! Get me an awesome new companion! (Shouldn't be hard because all the sisters in this mission are fantastic!) Thanks!


About President Gelwix at Stake Conference.... so cool.  He had all the missionaries stand and then he explained to the Stake what we go through, how we work all day every day and that we mostly get rejected and then with tears he said "Don't you reject them". It was just amazing. The feeling I had standing there was that this has to be some small part of what I'll feel when the Savior pleads my case someday. Despite all my shortcomings, He'll explain how hard I tried and say "Please let her in." It just felt really good. And he told us over the pulpit how he loves each one of us as a father loves his sons and daughters. So great. Sister Organista and I were the only missionaries in the room that was being translated into Spanish. So cool.

ALSO an investigator we've been working with for like two months came to church for the first time yesterday! So awesome! Church attendance is directly linked with baptisims pretty much. It's the hardest thing to get people to do. So that's awesome. 

Also, all of our converts were at Stake Conference. Every one that she and I have both been here to baptize. That was so great. Not only are we baptizing, but the people we've taught are CONVERTED.

Still going to the physical therapist.... totally forgot to tell you but we got Xrays of our necks last week. Fancy video xrays from a buddy of our therapist. He said that mine is fine. Normally your neck is a backwards C shape, and mine is perfectly straight, but my upper back is bizarely straight as well, they think that's just how I came. So I'm ok. I tease and tell people I'm "stiffnecked".... it's pretty funny haha...But Sister O's kneck is a forwards C. So she's going to likely have to treat her neck for years.

My back has been hurting extra lately, but that's because I've been trying to be normal and do service projects that include lifting.... so I can't do that anymore. But it's still improving over all, I can twist a lot better!
So keep feeding the missionaries!  Eating with members is a big deal. It's a light in your day. Last week a lot of people had to cancel eating with us because of last minute stuff but they still brought us dinner... better than figuring it out, but not nearly as good as being with people who like you. And referrals are huge.

The Molloys made us ribs last night!!! There was a ridiculous amount of meat on that table. They are so great. I'm excited for you to meet them when we come out here some day. I have eaten a ridiculous amount of meat the past few days... I'm going to die. I'm almost going to turn vegetarian against my better judgement during all time outside of member's homes because I eat so much REALLY GOOD MEAT. And yeah.... still love cheese haha... Sister Molloy has us over every Sunday, and it's to the point where she actually thinks to herself "Well, we've only got a gallon of milk and Zollinger's coming over.... better get another". Love that woman. And she gets me WHOLE milk. Aw yeah.
Oh something else! I don't know if I told you this or not, but people get confused when I speak good Spanish and I'm not hispanic looking, so they guess Portugese a lot... and then I showed someone a picture of dad and they guessed Portugese for him too! crazy. Apparently Zollinger sounds Portuguese... someone read my last name and asked if it was. It's crazy. Also, we were teaching an El Salvadorian family last week, and after the lesson (which was in Spanish) the mom smiled and asked "So does your mom speak Spanish?" I just laughed. NOPE! GIFT OF TONGUES BABY. (didn't say that. not appropriate.)

Also, the trees here have already bloomed, lost their flowers and turned green... sorry.