Monday, June 16, 2014

I have felt so much more joy as a missionary

Hey Momma!!!!

So I'm a bit late, today we went and played volley ball this morning, it was super fun! Super hot, but super fun. We got a couple good vollies in. Big fun.

Ohh hey, cool story! Just met an Elder Hancock today, was chatting with him a bit, and he asked me where I was from.... long story short, he's Jim Hancock's nephew from Virginia, Minnesota!!!! So cool. So we've been chatting it up today, he's super cool, just finishing his mission in August. So that's fun, tell Bro. Hancock hello for me and tell him I met his nephew Austin Hancock. So that's pretty cool. We talked about our majors and stuff and I've pretty much converted him to BYU and bioinformatics. So that's fun.

Other cool stuff:

This week as far as miracles. We are really trying to keep our teaching pool moving. Those who are progressing we're trying to keep moving along. We are trying really hard to get all of our finding time in, and then through our invitations see who really wants to progress and who doesn't, clear our pool of those who don't want to, and continually find. Before in my mission my teaching pools would get kind of static, and that's where you fall into the problem of being more friends with people and not missionaries, and then when they stop progressing you love them to much to leave them. So this is really helping me keep my focused streamlined and essentialized. I've learned so much from Elder Garcia since I came here to Ceres, he really has been the district leader to teach me the most about how to do work in my area more effectively by helping talk through our obstacles and challenging me to make game plans and then continually holding me accountable to them. He always motivates and has faith in us as a companionship. I'm really so grateful for his leadership and example.

We should be baptizing  Myra Diaz this Sunday. She is so awesome. She reads the Book of Mormon all the time, and even though she doesn't really understand almost anything she reads, she says that she feels like a different person when she reads. She prays faithfully every night and she is keeping the Word of Wisdom. The only thing that could keep her from being baptized this Sunday is if we have enough time to finish the lessons! They're really busy and so are we with exchanges and zone conference and stuff, but we're going to do everything we can to get her baptized and prepared for this Sunday! Her mom as well hopefully will be baptized, she's keeping the Word of Wisdom as well but we're not 100% sure she's married to the man she's living with. So that's that. Super excited.

Our teaching pool suddenly exploded with less active women and their non-member boyfriends! We knocked into 3 less active/non active Mormons this week. And we're starting to teach. I'm really focusing on talking with everyone this past week, and I have seen so many miracles from it! Like you said, maybe door knocking isn't the most effective, but it's good for the soul. Since I have focused on finding daily and on talking with everyone, I have felt so much more joy as a missionary, and I feel like I am a missionary! I didn't really realize before I didn't feel like I was doing missionary work so much when I wasn't just teaching but also finding. It has filled the hole and reminded me how many prepared people there are on the streets!!!

So this week was cool. I ran my first exchange this past weekend, went out to good old Chowchilla with Sister Villalobos. She's so awesome, it was just a pure joy. I really love being able to work with so many more sisters, there are like no sisters up here in the north, and it's really starting to affect me. The elders are so great and we're like family, but the only woman interaction I get is my companion, and that's just not enough. So I'm going on 5 exchanges in the next two weeks-ish with 5 different sisters, and it's just really refreshing and helps me feel more connected. I love it.

Went to Leadership training this past Wednesday... just busy. Honestly life right now is a big game of tetrus, with conferences, exchanges, and normal missionary work with investigators to help. I was never good at it... but luckily I'm getting a lot of help from everyone else.

I love you so much!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The weirdest thing anyone can ever do...but it is so worth it!

Hey Momma! Como estas?
Wow. The mission...... it's seriously the weirdest thing anyone can ever do haha. But it's so worth it. so this week....
Started my calling. Wednesday was the official start of the transfer, but I still had NO idea who was in my stewarship (who I'm over). Thursday night finally got the text and I couldn't be happier! I have two other areas in my stewardship, Chowchilla and Mercy Springs/Los Banos. The sisters in Chowchilla were MY sister training leaders when I was in Kerman for my last two transfers! The sister who was actually my sister training leader got transfered, but the other, Sister Hammer, has become a VERY dear friend of mine, so I'm super excited for the excuse to get to call her and go on exchange with her! Her new companion came to the CFM with me, and then the other two sisters, one is brand new and is starting training, and her trainer is an awesome missionary who was also trained by Sister Organista! I really couldn't have handpicked better sisters, or sisters who I'd rather work with. So THAT's super exciting! Less exciting is that with the extra conferences/meetings I have to go to and the exchanges I have to plan, I'm losing about a full week from the transfer for normal work in my own area. And I have to baptize more than ever. So that's exciting. But I'm hopeful! It's just hard trying to coordinate everything... but I have tons of support! Sister Hammer is super helpful, Sister De la Cruz's trainer was a STL so she knows a lot about it, and Sister McArthur who's training now was one... and all of them are super ready to make my job as easy as possible. It's great. It is weird that I've NEVER been companions with an STL... most elders are companions with a district leader before they become one, and all zone leaders are trained for at least a transfer with an experienced zone leader..... and now I'm an STL and the only training I have is the little I've seen from going on exchange. But... that's ok. So this Wednesday I have Leadership Training in FRESNO! Love Fresno. It's weird to go so close to Kerman and not get to see anyone but... it's ok. So that whole day is trashed. And it's almost 2 hours away so four hours of driving... but I'm planning on going on exchange with my first sister that night.... so I'll be gone for two days in a row. This week.... Preperation Day Monday, Distict Meeting Tuesday, Leadership Training Wednesday, Exchanges Thursday, Weekly Planning Friday... Saturday. I can start Saturday. Haha... then I have to do like two exchanges next week pretty much back to back, and then the last one the week after, with our last zone conference with President Gelwix and then it's an Elder's birthday and someone has to care and make a cake.... hahaha, but then the last two weeks no stress. Because I have to turn in reports on the sisters for Presidnet to do Transfer Boards... so the last week I don't really have to do anything unless people are fighting. So that's good. And then the transfer is over.
As far as the work:
Hello President!!!

Well this week has been exciting! We are planning on baptizing Brother Ruiz (POR FIN.... FINALLY) this weekend. Everytime we talk with him I feel the power of discernment. Last time we were there I just had this certainty that he already knows that we are the only ones with the answers that he needs. I told him that, and he nodded but continued to say he felt confused.... but that he would prepare for this Saturday to be baptized and that he would let us know if it was actually going to happen or not. He's gone a week without Coffee!!!! Huge achievement. I asked him what was his motivation... and he said he didn't know! I don't know... I just really feel the Spirit telling me what he knows and feels, even though he's confused about it. I'm really praying that he recieves his answer this week.... he's fasting from TV all week while he's working and can't "normal" fast, and then fasting from food Saturday with us. 

The Diaz family is doing great as well! We were able to meet with them twice this past week. Wednesday we talked to them and Myra, the teenage daughter, began to cry as she told us how moved she was by a video they showed in the youth Sunday School class. She was overcome with gratitude for everything she DID have and forgot about what she didn't have.... as she teared up, she turned to her mother who then embraced her with love.... President, this family has unified so much in the month we've been meeting with them. Saturday we went over and taught the Word of Wisdom, the teenagers are starting to be involved in drugs and the mom drinks... and they all committed to live it! They can tell the blessings that will come if they all quit using those substances and they want it. The mom and the teenage girl have accepted the baptismal invitation for the 22nd of June, and are trying to help the younger teenage son to prepare as well for the same day! They are so awesome. They read the scriptures together and they are really trying. For some reason they didn't come to church yesterday, which was weird because they were all super excited to go... and we've tried to find them but they weren't home. But I'm not super worried because I've felt too much about them and they've seen to much evidence for things to really fall apart right now. I'm super excited to baptize them this month!

Things are really looking upward. We have several people preparing for baptisim this month, we have a lot of people with potential for July, and we are trying to contiually refresh our teaching pool and search for the prepared people and not waste time!
It's been tough too because Sister DLC is sick... so we're going in and out of doctors.... which is hard too. I felt pressure before when my numbers weren't great, but now even more so. But it'll be ok, I have faith God will not only get us through this transfer but that we will have success and be happy as well!
I love you all so much and miss you a ton!!!!
Sister Zollinger

Monday, June 2, 2014

I got called to be a sister training leader!

So.... This week has been crazy.  So I got called to be a sister training leader! That means I have stewardship over a group of sisters and I have to plan exchanges with them and check on their areas and help train them, and then also be their emotional therapist. District leaders really are the ones that are in charge of the areas of their sisters, but they can't talk about emotional things with them. So that's my job. Help settle problems with their companions, stress.... stuff like that. Also means that I have a ton more pressure to baptize because I have to lead by example. Also means that I'm going to help the new President come in. Because President Gelwix just has one more month with us here! :( So sad. But I'm excited. I'm still here with Sister De la Cruz. 

Here's the letter to President Gelwix:

Hola Presidente!

Well this week was pretty... exciting. We had a big disappointment.... We got Paulito all super ready to be baptized.... we went to go ask permission from his mom AGAIN and just had a super powerful lesson ready why he shouldn't have to wait for her to be ready because it was his decision.... President, this little boy had a dream that Jesus Christ baptized him and then gave him the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands the night after I taught him about baptisms and the Holy Ghost. So we went to his mom and laid out the lesson.... AND SHE GAVE US PERMISSION.... AND THEN WE FOUND OUT HE TURNS 8 IN NOVEMBER AFTER ALL. We were sure he was 9 after that age scare and then... nope. So we would have baptized him Saturday. But. God has other plans. Oh well. Paulito was pretty upset... "What?! How many days then?!" Sorry kiddo, we're talking months. Haha. 

On the OTHER hand, we had MIRACLES this week! Brother Ruiz.... we had a lesson with him and we brought backup. We brought Elder Garcia and Elder Ayala to help us, mostly to give the Ruiz family priesthood blessings, but they ended up staying and we taught the family as the four of us. The elders really helped us out and got Bro. Ruiz to commit to not drink coffee for the first time since I've worked with him!! And he's been doing so good since then... he didn't drink anything for like 3 or 4 days, relapsed a tiny bit Saturday and then we called him to repentance that night and Sunday he came to church and didn't drink coffee again! He's getting really close. Tonight we're focusing on Q2 of the baptismal questions using 1 Nephi 1 which basically is the Joesph Smith experience but it happened to Lehi. I'm excited.

We also had a family of 6 come to church for the first time yesterday! That is exactly what I needed. I've noticed that I really haven't felt as happy as a missionary for a while now... before, even when times were hard I was just so happy to be a missionary. This last transfer was really hard on me... new companion, first time transferring, pressure to baptize.... and really I know that I did my best here and I think by invitations I did a decent job of being a successful missionary. But yesterday, having that family walk in just reminded me of the joy I felt being a missionary my first three transfers. I just really haven't seen my investigators progress much the past two transfers, and it was really getting to me. But the Diaz family brought back that "animo", that desire... I'm ready to go! It was the most perfect Sunday meeting as well, I couldn't have planned a better one! It was fast and testimony meeting... they came about a half hour late, but people were just lining up! They got to listen to missionaries, converts, and children bear down in pure testimony... and people kept saying "Well, there's a lot of investigators here so I felt like I really needed to bear my testimony..." THESE MEMBERS ARE AWESOME! And they all talked about how to have peace in your family, which is Sister Diaz's main concern. Then Gospel Essentials, unplannedly, was on BAPTISM, with THREE extremely recent converts in the class, the teenagers loved their class, the little ones loved primary.... so good. 

Other than that we've pretty much just drained our teaching pool. We've kept like three or four houses. The rest... gone. We are starting over, we are committing to finding, this is going to be my best transfer ever President! I can feel it. I'm super excited. I love my companion!  Elder Garcia is really helping us to learn how to complement each other as missionaries better... we just are very different in our strategies, but Elder Garcia is really stepping in and committing to helping us, he's probably the best district leader I've ever had. He really tries to help us and take care of our area in addition to his. Super appreciate his patience and leadership!

Thanks President! I'm super excited for this transfer, I'm excited to be a sister training leader (I think haha) and this is going to be great! Thanks for your patience with me President!

Love you!!

Hermana Zollinger

 I love my branch missionaries because the 6 of us work super close. My branch is my district leader and my zone leaders and us.... super cool. Anyways Elder McClung (ZL) just said "Sister, pretty sure I read somewhere that the age of 8 only matters unless they're super prepared!" haha... so everyone was devestated for us... honestly mom this month/transfer has probably been the most discouraging of my mission. We had terrible numbers all transfer. I'm sure you could tell. But I really feel excited for this month and transfer! Every thing is starting over and I'm ready to go!

our apartmenets caught fire this week, forgot to tell you about that.... like 6 fire trucks. but just one was really burned. the rest of the complex is ok. just exciting experience.  we were just about to head home and two of the elders called us... "hey, there' like a big fire in our apartements, call us when you get here" and three sets of us live there. so the zone leaders came too.... big party.... it was next door to one set of elders. but just the one was really black and damaged. just the weirdest stuff happens here... called the police twice on my mission, my hairs gone, car accident, family death..... it just goes on.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

This week was my birthday!

Hey Momma!!!!!!!

Tuesday was my birthday  and really it was one of my best birthdays ever. We went to Zone Conference and my District leader Elder Garcia got a group of elders to sing as I walked up to the church building. And then we all took turns translating conference for Sister De la Cruz... several people complimented me on my "native" Spanish. Then at lunch they always sing "Happy Birthday" for every one who had a birthday recently, and Elder Garcia told Sister Gelwix it was my birthday that day (along with another sister) so they all clapped and cheered for us in specific before singing to all of us. Then afterwards we went to IHOP and Elder Ayala gave me a cute stuffed pink bunny hahah... still not sure where he found it. Pretty sure it either came from some five year old that is now crying, or from his ex-girlfriend.... but it was cool. Elder Garcia (tried) to make me cookies.... hahah they were the freezer kind and burnt.... hahah in Spanish he's like "Sister, I feel so sad because you made me a beautiful cake and I made you burnt cookies".... haha but it was funny. Elder Cook bought me oreos.... it was a good day. They sang at IHOP too. Really great birthday. THANK YOU SO MUCH  FOR THE JOURNALS AND WHOPPING GIFT CARD!!!!!! I seriously needed both of those things. Love you so much. And Sister De la Cruz baked me a cake! It was the first cake she's ever made. Tasted great! Really great day.

Well the rest of the week follows like this:

This week a lot of good things happened. We have an "eternagator" named Isrrael who went to church yesterday and received his answer yesterday at church. He sent us a text later that just said we need to convince his wife. And she is progressing well. The only problem there is that she is leaving to visit family in Guatamala for 6 weeks in a about a week and a half. But we'll get them baptized!!!

Also working with my buddy Paulito. We recently found out for sure that he is 9, so we can baptize him. Just the problem there is that his mom Ramona wants to know more before she gives permission. Which really is good because it means she cares about his life. So the next day after she told us that we went to talk to her and we just went through all the baptismal interview questions with her to explain what Paulito wanted to do. And then Paulito was there so we just yelled over at him "Hey, Paulito, explain to your mom what the Word of Wisdom is!" or the Law of Chastity (kid style) and she was so shocked! He just spouted off everything, all of these great values! He loves to pray, every day we go over he says "Look, I've been practicing the commandments!" and starts listing off everything, he's just so awesome! So we're close. She also told us that night that the night before she began to pray like we asked and then dreamed that she prayed all night long. Which to her was a sign that this is what she is supposed to do. So that's pretty awesome.

Well, we haven't baptized this month but in my heart I feel like we have. We have worked so hard and we have people who are prepared... but in the end it is their agency. If they don't come to church even when we teach it a million times and show up at their house ready to bring them and they bail... what can you do? I'm pretty excited for June though. Because since no one got baptized this month, lots of them have potential for next month! Silver lining....

Yup... other big news.... I didn't go to church yesterday. Probably the first missionary in the history of the world to miss church. I was very sick yesterday. So the 6 of us went to a members house for dinner..... and nosotros gringos.... estabamos MURIENDONOS. (us white people... we were DYING!) We still have no idea how this is possible, but the latinos were not even ONE BIT sick, and Elder Cook and Elder McClung and I were all throwing up sick sick sick. I was up all night and threw up twice in the morning.... First time I threw up without my mommy or daddy.... it was a horrible experience. Super bad. And then We were supposed to be at church at 9 to translate an english session for our investigators... Elder Garcia to the rescue!!!! He immediately left and took care of our investigators while I was dying. At this point we didn't know the other elders were sick, just me. Elder Garcia gave me a blessing too. I tried to get ready... nope. I didn't throw up more but I could barely keep any liquid down.... it was bad. And I was just weak and shaky... I slept pretty much all day and then went to bed as usual at 10:30 and slept through the night. But I feel pretty much perfect now! But as of now I am taking control of my diet. I have gained like 10 pounds and I'm not ok with that, and every night I feel pressure to eat till I hurt... not any more. Sorry folks, I'm not an Elder, I can't just eat like that. And today I'm buying like the whole produce section.... so that's good. 

Funny stories.... Sister De la Cruz is progessing well in English! We've really been focusing on that. The more I watch others try to learn English, the more sure I am that if it wasn't my first language I'd never learn it. It's really a crazy language. We were talking about "here" or something and she's like, "What?! What's the difference between pelo, corazon, cabesa, aqui, y ella?" I just laughed because I've never noticed how similar "hair, heart, head, here, and her" sound hahahaha and how completely different they are in English. It's pretty funny.

Spanish texting:

"Ola mis princesas yo se q pronto staran bien con la bendicion d Dios cuidesen mucho el padre las bendiga mil gracias x todo lo q asen x nosotros las km ok"

should be

"Hola mis princesas yo se que pronto estaran bien con la bendicion de Dios cuidesen mucho el padre las bendiga mil gracias por todo lo que hacen por nosotros las quiero mucho ok"

Pretty proud of myself for learning how to read texts... you have to read them out loud in order for it to work. English it says:

"Hello my princesses, I know that soon you will feel good with the blessing from God, take good care of yourselves, God bless, thanks a million for all that you do for us, I love you a lot ok"

That was from one of my favorite people in my branch, Hermano Tirso. He is so awesome. I like how "I love you" is "Le quiero mucho" and in texts it's just "lkm" or "te quiero mucho" "tkm". 

So that's pretty much what's up. My recent converts are doing good! Lupe got a job, she's going to school, and she's looking for an apartment! Talk about miracles! The Nunez got callings as ward missionaries! And I still haven't heard from the Herberts... but soon.


Hermana Soli