Monday, August 15, 2016

15 August 2016 - Moldy loaves

Hello, all!

"Idaho Man Finds Mammoth Tusk" - Real life headline I saw in Wal*Mart today.

Well, this week I'll be finding out about what's happening at the next transfer.  My current companion, Sister Kolo, will be flying home in a couple weeks, so there will definitely be changes to talk about.  Will they keep me here?  Send me somewhere else?  Switch me to a spanish area?  Who knows!!?  (see English lds hymnbook #270)

Remember in the Bible when the multitude followed Christ, and he taught them, then they were going to feed them?  Then, all the disciples had was 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread?  We studied this in church yesterday.  When they gave Christ the food they DID have, He was able to work miracles.  He was able to make it happen.
Sometimes, even though we love Christ, and follow him, we only have 2 fish and 5 loaves.  Some days we may only have a fish skeleton and one moldy loaf of bread.  First of all, how gross.  Second of all, sometimes, in all honesty that's ALL we are able to do.  When we're given difficult tasks, all he asks is that we give Him what we CAN.  He'll make it happen.  Whether it's feeding a multitude, being a wife/husband, being a mom/dad, going to school, being in a relationship, being a missionary, being broken, having scars, making mistakes, and having weaknesses - give what you have, and regardless of how much that may be and regardless of what your situation is, the Lord will work wonders with your willingness.  

I love you all,
Sister McIntosh

PS - this week we went on exchanges with some of the sisters in our zone - always SO fun!

8 August 2016

I have gained two new nicknames: "Sister Swift" (apparently homely sister missionaries still have the ability to look like Taylor Swift) and "Lohuloa" (means "tall" or "long" in Tongan).  

I have stories:

The story of Mr. G:
Mr. G is an older man who lives in a trailer park on the outskirts of Rexburg.  A few years ago, he was a 100% happy and active member of the church.  When 2 of his kids started going less active, he got really depressed.  He got even more depressed and lonely when his son went on a mission to California.  This son of his actually called us and told us to go visit his dad and get him to stop smoking and come back to church.  Both of those things have happened.  Mr. G is also going to be a temple-recommend holder when his son comes home next month!!!  
Mr. G is also one of my favorite people?  Why?  He has a strong testimony and isn't afraid to share it.  He's resilient.  He also teases me about things all the time.  My height, my "Texas ambiance", you name it.  Mr. G also has a state-of-the-art music producing/recording studio in his doublewide.  Not kidding.  It's equipped with about a dozen guitars, keyboards, and a bunch of other instrumentage.  He's shows us some stuff he's written (missionary handbook approved, don't worry everyone.)  But then he also offered to let me take one of his guitars to play on pday to keep back at our apartment until I get transferred.  CAN YOU SAY MIRACLE!?!?

The story of Anthony:
Anthony is a middle-aged man who lives in a different trailer park on the outskirts of Rexburg.  A few years ago, he got out of jail and came out to Rexburg for "a more peaceful life".  Obviously we taught him the gospel and he accepted all of it full-heartedly.  He loves coming to church and praying.  He's getting baptized at the end of this month!!!  He calls himself the "cat daddy" because he loves cats and all of the cats around the trailer park come and chill with him at his place (#handsanitizer).  He's the funniest person I've met since being on my mission.  Not kidding.  One time, we took him to the Family History Center.  Anthony has never met his real parents since they died when he was super young, but going there he was able to find a bunch of newspaper articles about his parents and see pictures of them that he's never seen before.  He was getting super emotional and it was really cool!  It helps people realize the eternal aspect of the gospel in a more tangible way, I think.  When people talked about family history in church or something pre-mission, I always just avoided eye contact and felt guilty for never desiring to get involved with it... But who knew that it'd inspire people to get baptized??

If any of you have any room for spiritual growth (aka you) PLEASE read Alma 34 and let me know what you get out of it:)  I'd love to hear from you.

Sister Swift 

Me, Sister Kolo and Mr. G in a corner of his studio.  

1 August 2016 - Holla from Rexburg!

Friends and Family!

What.  A.  Week.  I don't think I've told you all about our investigator named Adam.  He moved here from Oregon a few months ago after getting his degree in nuclear engineering. Being in a dominantly-LDS town, he asked his friend to contact us to come teach him so that he can give the religion an "honest try" - oh, and he's atheist.   So, we met with him and taught the restoration.  He's very intelligent and asked some very thought-provoking questions.  We did our best to talk it out with him and address his concerns and we gave him a  Book of Mormon to start reading.  By our next appointment, which was 4 days later, he'd already gotten through a third of it.  He was in Mosiah.  Basically he progressed MEGA fast after that.  Talking with him about the Plan of Salvation and about the Gospel of Jesus Christ was interesting.  He told us that praying, reading the Book of Mormon, and especially repenting every day has made him more grateful that there actually IS a God.  It was all wonderful!  Then, one weekend, he went down to Utah to visit some friends there.  We were trying to get ahold of him so we could set up an appointment when he got back, but he RARELY responded.  THEN, on Sunday night we get a text from him that said "Hey, Sisters.  Sorry I've been bad about getting back with you, I've been meeting with the missionaries here in Utah every night to finish up the lessons and I got baptized on Saturday!  My confirmation was this morning."  WHOA.  Whoa.  He got baptized!!  I wish I could have been there, but am still VERY happy that he was so willing to move forward and develop that belief in God and faith in Christ.

Remember that one time that everything worked out perfectly the way you planned it to?  
Me neither.
Plans rarely go as envisioned.  And missionaries spend a LOT of time planning.  A lot.  Frequently, things get crazy, and every appointment cancels on you in a day, or you end up not eating for an uncomfortable period of time.  Other times, we'll double-book ourselves with appointments, or we'll have 2 lunch and 2 dinner appointments.  How does that happen?  I'm not entirely sure, but I am sure about one thing: D&C 38:30 - "..if ye are prepared ye shall not fear."  This is a phrase that my dear mother would say often - and it stuck, mom!!  God will provide people, situations, experiences, and miracles in your life that will help you, even though our plan may not work out how we hoped it would.  When we put our faith in God's plan for us, our plan will begin to align with His.

Making decisions about our standards now, planning what we want for eternity now, no matter how far into our life we are, is critical in coming closer to Christ.  
It shows God that we are mindful of what we need to do to improve.  It shows that we're willing to give our will to Him.  It's a tricky thing to learn to do, sometimes, but (another mom-ism:) when we fail to plan, we plan to fail.  

Thank you all so much for you support, example, and love!

Sister McIntosh

25 July 2016 - What do you mean, you "don't have A.C."....?

WHOOO!  It's been a hot week, folks.  Hot and dry.  Don't get me wrong, I'm plenty used to hot weather.  But hot, dry, weather at a high altitude with a bunch of visits in students' apartments with no AC?  That's a sweaty experience.

The semester ended this week, so our teaching pool is much smaller than it was before.  It was hard teaching my sweet investigators, seeing them progress and be happy, seeing them get baptized, and now sending them to China.  Literally.  But, since this is my companion's last transfer in her mission, it's very likely that they'll keep me here longer than planned, aka long enough to be here when Fall semester starts and all of our converts come back!!  It'll be a good day.  Also apparently a lot of my Houston friends are coming back from their missions and will be coming to BYUI for the fall semester, as well.  Weird.

This work is a hard work.  Missionary life isn't for the faint of heart.  Rather, missionary life isn't for the faint of heart who aren't willing to be strengthened with the help of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  I know sometimes my emails aren't super long or informative or spiritual, and sometimes I send goofy pictures.  But I want you all to know that I wouldn't be willing to do this work of spreading the gospel if it wasn't true.  I wouldn't do it if the gospel wasn't able to bless everyone's life.  But it is true.  And it does bless lives.  It does bring peace.  It does so as we turn to Christ, as we forsake our pride and our weaknesses and let Christ make us who God knows that we can be.

I love you all dearly.

Sister McIntosh

1.  All the sisters in our zone got together to teach the hula to a group of YW in sugar city, my old area!  So fun to see everyone there and so fun to pretend to be polynesian like my other sisters... haha
2.  A member gave us water and peaches.  It made me SO happy.
3.  Our district.  Not everyone was ready for the picture.

 This was everyone before the mission got split.  The last group pictures of the "big" IPM.  It was a good time.  See if you can find me.

18 July 2016 - CHINA

Weinan got baptized!  It was wonderful.

I've been thinking about faith SO MUCH this past week.  All of my thoughts on it came from a marvelous article I read the other day.  Go read it!
Read it and email me with your thoughts and/or things that stood out to you!

I love you all.
Have a great week!
Sister McIntosh

12 July 2016 - TRANSFERS WEEK

Except I'm not getting transferred.  I'm going to be staying at BYU-I with Sister Kolo, who will be going home after this transfer- crazy.

P-day this week is on Tuesday, because me and some sisters went to the temple today!!!  We only get to go twice a year as missionaries, so it was really special to be back.

EMILY GOT BAPTIZED and it was amazing.  Seriously.  The next sunday she had her confirmation.  The Bishop asked her to bear her testimony afterwards which was really powerful.  She talked about how after her mom and her brother died within 2 years of each other and she moved she got into some really bad situations and her life was miserable.  After her friend basically dragged her to come to BYU-I, she agreed to meet with the missionaries, but was pretty closed off to them and to the spirit because she "wasn't ready for anything that good in her life."  I found that to be fascinating.  She talked more about how feeling the spirit and feeling love from the people here has been an incredible influence for good.  Her testimony brought me to tears, y'all: "I never thought I would be able to say this, but.. I know with all of my heart that this church is true."  Simple.  Profound.  True.  It was a great moment.  

I was reading an article in the church news about a seminar that President Utchdorf gave to all the new mission presidents last month and he talked about how when eaglets are learning to fly, the mama eagle kinda lovingly pushes the baby out of the nest (and their nests rest on the edge of cliffs... for reals.)  And then that's how the baby learns to catch the wind under its wings.  "The thrill of soaring begins with the fear of falling."  
That stood out to me, and came to my mind immediately when Emily bore her testimony.
Is life hard? Yes.  Is life scary?  Yes.  Is life unfair? Frequently.
Does it have to be?  In some ways, maybe.
Can it be better if we take a leap of faith and turn to Christ with all of our heart?  Without a doubt.

I love you all,
Sister McIntosh

1.  The gang that went to the temple this morning.  Sis Kolo (my incredible poly comp), Sis Fabrici (the hardcore 40 yr old convert from Jersey who's a missionary here), Sis Crandall (my previous STL and missionary who laughs at my jokes more consistently than most people I know.)
2.  Us having dinner with Sister Denny, the woman we live with.
3.  Half of my zone.

1.  Me and two of my polys (I'm the only white sister in the zone.)
2.  There's a place called Big Judd's that's apparently famous for their big burgers.  A family took us there and we split it between the four of us.
3.  The "BBQ" we had with our district on fourth of july.  I can't remember if I sent this one already or not...

4 July 2016 - God Bless America.

The baptism with Alex was wonderful.  We've truly been seeing SO many miracles this week and staying SO busy.  I wish I had time to share all of them with you.

I have been thinking a lot about freedom lately.  In D&C 121 it says that "when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn."  It goes on to say that we are "left unto [our self]."    In the Book of Mormon (Helaman 6), at one point, the Nephites "had become exceedingly wicked; yea, the more part of them had turned out of the way of righteousness, and didtrample under their feet the commandments of God, and did turn unto their own ways."  
Although the words they use about turning to our "own" ways and being left to our "self" sounds like freedom and independence, it isn't freedom for our souls. When we are complacent and just do whatever we want, whenever we want, Satan then has power to take hold of our hearts and lead us to be unhappy.  

The ONLY thing that we have that God doesn't is our individual will.  Our agency.  Through the world's eyes it's hard to see why giving that up and doing what GOD wants for us is liberating.  King Benjamin explained it pretty well, in my opinion (Mosiah 5:6-8):
 And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.
And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ.
I know that freedom comes through obedience.  Letting Christ take the lead in our life is more liberating that we realize.  I know He wants what's best for us.
Sister McIntosh

The New Mission:
Please ignore the awkward headshot that was taken on my first day in Idaho as a missionary.