Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Tender Mercies Galore

This week shall forever go down in my mind as the week of tender mercies. I still can't believe how blessed we were this week... it seems like every few minutes we just got little reminders that the Lord is mindful of us and especially of the people we're working with!! 
But let's back up a little... 
We spent a lot of the day Monday at the church playing Phase 10 with our district. Man, I love Phase 10! But... that meant that we didn't have a lot of time to clean and so we spent every minute of our lunch and dinner hour on Tuesday and all evening Monday cleaning and organizing the house and getting Sister Slater packed and ready to go. So that made for a pretty crazy couple of days! 
Wednesday we got picked up super early to go to transfer meeting! We got there like two or three hours early so we just had to sit in the church with some other missionaries to wait for the meeting to start... It felt so weird. I can't remember the last time I just sat around like that except for p-days. 
Anyways... at transfer meeting a few things happened. First, like half of the missionaries I know and have served around bore their final testimonies to go home. That was so weird. 
And then... drum roll please... I got my new companion!! Her name is Sister Thurgood, she's amazing, and I love her to death :) I can't even believe she's only been on a mission a few days! She's just absolutely a super prepared missionary and I am so lucky to be her companion :) 
Like I mentioned earlier... we've been seeing so many tender mercies this week. To name a few... 
  • It's been cooler than usual and breezy so we don't die of heat when we walk places 
  • We've had more than one free ride from members so we don't have to walk as much as we normally do 
  • We had three meal appointments in one week... which is unheard of in this area. Usually we count ourselves super blessed if we get one meal appointment! 
  • You know how the last few weeks our appointments keep falling through and we just walk a lot? That hasn't happened at all since Sister Thurgood got here. It's amazing! 
Not to mention the fact that ever since she got here random people just appear who seem super prepared to hear the gospel. Let me tell you about a few of the experiences we've had. 
  • We were walking to an appointment a few nights ago when a car pulled up next to us. The guy said "You guys Mormon?" And of course we said yes. He then pulled a Book of Mormon out of his glove box, said, "Some missionaries in another parish gave this to me a few weeks ago. I used to take lessons from them and I went to church a bunch of times but I wasn't ready yet." So of course we asked him if he's ready now, he said yes, we asked him to start reading the Book of Mormon, and we're going to have a lesson with him in a few days! 
  • Yesterday we were walking to another appointment and a lady yelled across the street asking for a Bible. We called her over and said that we didn't have any Bibles, but we did have the Book of Mormon. We taught her a little bit about what the Book of Mormon is, and she said she'd love to learn more. She walked over to her house and started to read. We're meeting with her again tomorrow. 
  • We were leaving an appointment when a guy came up and asked us how a few other sister missionaries were. They used to serve here, so I asked him if they used to teach him. He said yes, he loved it and went to church every Sunday for about two months, but they had to stop because he got too busy with school. So we asked him if he was still busy and he said after this week he won't be, so we got his number and we're going to teach him!! 
  • Andddd we got two referrals this week! Compared to the zero referrals we got last week and the week before, that's a pretty big deal. 
All of these things might not seem like very big deals to you guys, but to us, they were huge. Every time something like that happened, it just reminded us that the Lord is so mindful of us and this really is His work!! 

We didn't do much to celebrate the Fourth this year because we're in Jamaica... but we did sing America the Beautiful for companion studies and studied scriptures having to do with freedom in honor of America. So that was good. 

We did some super fun service this week! We got to pull down a bunch of vines, dig up some banana and plantain trees, and plant some new trees! The best part was that we found a snake (just a tiny little one probably no more than six inches long and like as fat as my little finger) and one of the elders chased his screaming companion around with it for about five minutes. I don't remember the last time I laughed that hard. It was hilarious. I love service projects haha. 

To close this email, I'd just like the share something Brother Pryce said yesterday when he was teaching gospel principles. 
"When we are obedient, we increase in the person God wants us to become." 
I love that quote. If there's one thing I've learned on my mission, it's that nothing in life happens the way it's supposed to when we aren't obedient to the commandments. When we are obedient, we draw closer to God and become more like him every day! 
Love you all!! Have a great week! 
Sister Oman 

Our district from last transfer. I can't remember the last time I had a normal district picture. Haha. 

Sister Slater....I miss her!

Dumpling and ackee!! This is the ackee we found on the road last week that I talked about in my email... it was delicious!! 

Meal appointment! Curry chicken and rice and peas! Yummy, yummy! 

Acrobatic Goat!!

Little sights like this are reasons I love Jamaica. 

I don't know who's idea it was to give me the cutlass, but I had it and I thoroughly enjoyed chopping vines like I was a jungle explorer! Haha. I love service projects. 
(Oh yeah! That's Sister Thurgood, my amazing new companion.)

I love this little girl!

Cute girls!!

This is our super fancy, state of the art entertainment system. we put our DVD player on a chair, put a towel on the back to block some back lighting, add some speakers and a fan to keep us cool, and we are all set to watch meet the Mormons to relax a little during lunch! 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Ambulances, Lock picking and The Weirdest Week of My life

Hey ya'll :) 
This week someone picked our bedroom door lock with a knife, we thought we were going to get shot, and we rode in an ambulance. 

Haha. That makes our week sound a lot more exciting than it actually was. Let me back up and explain... 
Remember how a few weeks ago we locked ourselves out of our bedroom with the keys in there? Yeah, that happened again this week. But we were determined not to have to call the elders again because that would be very embarrassing so we went next door and borrowed some re bar, took the screen off the bedroom window, wrapped a wire hanger around the re bar and started to fish. Unfortunately that didn't work so we said a prayer and before we had even said amen, our neighbors were pulling into the driveway and asking if we needed help. They came over and picked our lock with a knife and we were in! Thank heavens for answered prayers and friendly neighbors. We're going to take them cookies to say thank you for helping us later today :) 
We were walking down the road and there was a semi-truck parked on the side of the road. All of the sudden, we heard a gun load. Or whatever you call that. You know, like the sound a gun makes right before it gets shot? Anyways. My life flashed before my eyes. I said my final prayer. And then I prepared to die. And then... the sound was actually someone just dropping a bunch of nails in a metal box. Good grief. 
We were walking home last night when a member drove by in the Red Cross ambulance she drives for work and she offered us a ride. So that's why I rode in an ambulance haha. It's a lot less exciting sounding when you actually tell the stories. 
In other news... we were doing role plays this week to practice effective street contacting. I was pretending to be a man picking mangoes and Sister Thurgood was the missionary. We died of laughter at her attempt to share the Plan of Salvation with me: "You're going to fall out of that tree and die. We can tell you where  you'll go when that happens." Hahahahhahahaha. 
We got ice cream for Sister Thurgood's month mark on Friday, and while we were sitting there just trying to enjoy our ice cream, two little sixteen year old boys sit down and start hitting on us. We had news for them: that was not happening. Good grief. The things that happen to us. 
Alright now for some spiritual stuff :) 
We were having a lesson and she asked a question that neither of us knew the answer to. But then I started to say we don't know and we'll have to look it up and let her know, and all of the sudden I hear myself explaining something about Saul and the Sanhedrin and Stephen and all of that and I don't remember knowing all of it but it was exactly what the woman needed to hear to move on with the lesson and that's how I know the Lord's promise that we will be given what we need to say when we need to say it is real. It was such a cool experience. 
We had a lesson last week and I learned so much from it. First and foremost, I learned the importance of honesty. When people aren't honest, it just leads to a whole huge mess and drama and strained family relationships and a bunch of other stuff. Honesty is so important! 
Alright. Next I really had my testimony of the law of chastity strengthened. I've seen so many times on my mission how important the law of chastity is. When a man and a woman are married and they don't start a family until after they are married, it eliminates so much drama and confusion and stress that comes from having kids outside of wedlock. I've been pondering a lot on the importance of temples and covenants and all of that since that lesson... and more and more I'm having my resolve to never settle for anything less than a temple marriage strengthened. I am so so so grateful that I can have the opportunity to start a family someday that will be eternal... and I'm so grateful that we have the chance every day to help other families become eternal too! Yeah. I hope that made sense haha. 
In other news, I love these verses from 3 Nephi 11. We read it in companion study this week, and they hit me more powerfully than they ever have before. Which is saying something, because 3 Nephi 11 is my favorite chapter and I read it ALL THE TIME. 
 "Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the light and the life of the world;and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father  hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning."

I love those verses. I love Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for my Savior. I love you all. 
Bless up! 
Sister Oman
Cookie making adventures

I love Jamaica because I get to see things like this

 We teach anywhere and everywhere... even along the railroad tracks

Rainbows are that it's raining more

Ice cream to celebrate Sister Thurgood's one month mark!!!

We got real live ice cream cones for sister thurgood's one month mark!! i haven't had real American ice cream since i left Nassau :) yummy! 

a view of old harbour town from an upstairs window

This is what the inside of a Jamaican Red Cross ambulance looks like! 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Over the River and Through the Woods

Hey guys!
Wow this week was just full of all sorts of exciting adventures. 
To start off, we had stake conference this weekend! That in itself was exciting because it was the one year anniversary since the first stake was organized in Jamaica. It was even more exciting because the church was packed. Like there weren't enough seats and all the elders serving in the stake had to stand in the back. We had seats filled all the way from the very front of the chapel, way back through the overflow, and up on the stage. It was amazing! For the rest hymn, we sang "Onward, Christian Soldiers" and I just looked around the room at all these amazing pioneers in the church standing and singing with me and I just about cried. I was so overwhelmed with how amazing these people are... I am so blessed to have known and loved so many of them in the time that I've been able to serve so far. 
Alright... one of my favorite things that was spoken about at stake conference was a simple question. "Are we the church, or are we just coming to church?" The speaker was talking about how it's crucial for us to not just be Sunday worshippers... but rather to apply and live gospel principles every day of our lives. He talked about how we should all be striving to develop a gospel culture and do our best to live as disciples of Jesus Christ would live. I've spent a lot of time thinking about that since then... and considering how I can more fully live as a disciple of Jesus Christ! 
In other news... Tuesday night we got a call from our Sister Training Leaders saying that they were going to come on splits with us the next day. Splits are like trade-offs only a little more stressful because you have to plan for two full days of lessons that happen in one day. Now, our area is a little challenging and sometimes it's hard for us to even fill one day of appointments when it's just us working in our area... let alone two companionships working in the area. So we spent a lot of time contacting and building our teaching pool on Wednesday haha. 
We decided to go to the far out area to look for a few people. That's where the adventure started. I was with Sister Rampersad, one of the Sister Training Leaders. We started by walking about an hour to a neighborhood where we tried to have a few lessons but they all fell through. So we said a prayer and felt like we should walk even further to a little community called Bogles to try to find some former investigators. So we walked another thirty minutes down a highway, took a little dirt trail about twenty minutes off the highway, crossed a canal, climbed around a fence, walked another thirty minutes down a road that smelled like cows, waded through grass that was as tall as our knees, climbed through a hole in a barbed wire fence, walked on the railroad tracks, crossed a bridge that goes over the highway, and balanced on the side of a canal to finally reach our appointment. And then she was just leaving so we didn't even get to see her. We spent a while doing some finding and then flagged down a coaster and rode back to town since we couldn't be bothered to walk anymore. 
We were walking through Spanish Town with the elders on Saturday. One of them stopped to buy a juice at a shop, and the guy in the shop gave him two and told him to give the extra one to the "white lady." I didn't really know what to do so I stood there awkwardly like "Uh... do I take it or is that bad?" And finally they all just told me to take it so I did and said thanks and then I had a free juice! Haha. Victory. 
One night, we stopped to talk to this guy. We had just finished setting up an appointment with him when we asked him if there was anything we could do to help him (like service.) He took like five steps back, and said "Alright. Am I on camera? You guys walk all day in the sun to teach people about Jesus and you do work for free too? What is this?" Hahahhahah. After a bit more explaining why we do what we do, he believed us... and our first lesson with him went really well! We'll see what happens there. 
We caught a caterpillar and put it in a bottle. We named him Likkle Mon (patwa for Little Man) and decided to keep him until he turned into a butterfly. Unfortunately I almost killed him on the way to Friday Night Activity because I stuffed his bottle in my bag so I could eat a patty while we were walking. When we got there, we were convinced he was dead. But we all worked together and brought Likkle Mon back to life! That night, he somehow escaped out of his bottle and left nasty slime trails all over our house that took like thirty minutes to mop up in the morning. Needless to say, Likkle Mon no longer lives in our house and we have learned our lesson about bringing caterpillars home with us. 
I think the best thing that happened to me this week was getting a letter from one of my recent converts. Part of it reads, "I am eternally grateful that you stopped by my house that night to teach me the gospel. I will do my best to get to the temple. Thank you for everything." You guys. When I read that, I just burst into tears. (Good tears haha.) Little things like that are what make a mission the best thing I've ever done. It doesn't matter how many sunburns, how many blisters, how many bug bites I get... because at the end of the day I get to be blessed by the opportunity to be an instrument in the Lord's hands. And I never want that to end. 
Well that was longer than planned haha. I love you guys! Hope you have a great week!!!! 
Sister Oman

I've discovered a mystery!  The first picture is what my desk looks like every morning a the start of studies.And the second picture is what it looks like just two hours later.  How in the world does it gt that messy in two hours?  Good grief!!!  

This is my favorite part of our area.  Not too crowded.  Lots of nice views, and tons of friendly people who are willing to listen to our message!!

This is the fence we have to climb through or over to get to our appointments sometimes.  Let me tell ya.  Climbing through a barbed wire fence in a skirt is easier said than done.  The skirt really likes to get caught on the wire.  All the time.  Good grief!!

We also have to walk on railroad tracks to get to appointments out here!!!

I love goats!  We sometimes chase them and it makes walking a lot more exciting.  Ha ha!!

I found a bus that said Portmore so I had to take a picture with it.  

This is Paul.  He is the man Sister Tafuna and I baptized.  I missed his baptism by a few days because I got transferred right before, so stake conference was the first time I got to see him as a member.  It was so exciting!  Man I loved this weekend ha ha!!

Free fruit, Puddle jumping and the Atonement!!

Wat a gwaan!! 
This week was AMAZING. Again! I don't know what we're doing to be blessed this much, but the work has just picked up and it's moving full force ahead. We couldn't be more blessed! My heart is just full of gratitude :) 
Here's some highlights of the week: 
We were walking to a lesson with a less active member when a guy called to us. We stopped for a minute and he said that he just wanted to give us some guinep (actually I don't know how to spell that word but it's my most favorite fruit in the entire world) and so that's the story of how we each got an insane amount of guinep for free! 
We stopped at a house to talk to someone and after we finished getting his number and stuff we were like "Hey, can we have one of those mangos?" (He had a HUGE mango tree just full of the delicious fruit in his yard.) He said of course, and gave us not just one each... but seven mangos. Woohoo it was a great day.
Haha a lot of our highlights this week apparently came from food... We had cleaning checks on Thursday, and the senior couple that did our cleaning check brought us home-made chocolate chip cookies!! You guys. They were the first home-made chocolate chip cookies I've had in almost 15 months. That's a really long time. It was heaven on earth. We just sat on the floor and ate them and talked about how grateful we are for senior couples haha. 
We had branch conference yesterday at church, and you know what that means... lots of visitors from the stake! Which meant I got to see some of my favourite people from Portmore :) It's like a sort of family reunion every time that happens. I just love it :) 
There was a huge rainstorm Saturday night. When the rain started, we were in our last appointment for the night. By the time the lesson was over, it was just dumping buckets of rain. Like buckets and buckets and buckets of rain. I've never seen raindrops that big. Our investigator asked us if we wanted an umbrella (Because silly me left my umbrella at home. Sister Thurgood was prepared and brought hers.) but since it was our last appointment of the night, we decided to just walk in the rain. You guys, puddle jumping on deserted streets in Jamaica at 9:00 at night in the pouring rain is officially my favourite pastime. That is going to be probably one of my favourite memories from my entire mission :) I love puddle jumping. 
Alright now for why this week was amazing work wise. We had TWO PEOPLE at church yesterday. That's the first time that's happened in who knows how long. They both loved it. And they're coming back next week hopefully. And one of them accepted a baptism date. It's amazing! 
Anyways. One of the people at church yesterday was the lady I talked about in my last email that stopped us and asked us for a Bible, which we didn't have... but we did give her a Book of Mormon. When we came back for a lesson, she'd read eight pages and was loving it. She invited herself to church, told us when she knows it's true she'll be baptized, and then told us how she's been looking for a church that has the whole truth. Well we had good news for her: she's found it! We're so excited to work with her. And her family :) 
I've been studying about the Atonement and change and becoming like Christ and the Plan of Salvation and faith and a bunch of other stuff lately... and I just keep coming back to this quote. I love it, so I want to share it with you :) 
"The purpose and central blessing of this life is change. It is to incorporate into your character the qualities of His character. It is to move from one degree of intelligence and capacity to the next, and from there to the next, until you see God face to face and know Him as He knows you." -Lawrence E. Corbridge
I love that. I'm so grateful for the atonement and how we are all able to change and come to know God and Jesus Christ just a little more every day. Over the course of my mission, I've seen so many people come closer to Christ through the changes that they make in their lives, and I don't think there could ever be a greater miracle than seeing that happen. I've experienced more than ever before how the Atonement blesses my life, and I think over the last two weeks I've come to appreciate that more than ever before in my life. 
Christ lives. Heavenly Father loves us. This church is true! 
I love you all. 
Sister Oman 
 I made homemade pizza last week and it was delicious. the end.

Guinep. Or however you spell it. You bite open the outside, take that orange part out of the middle, suck all the delicious fruit off the seed, and then spit the seed out. It's amazing. 

This is Jamaica!!

These cows are my friends.  Sometimes I moo at them when we walk by and they moo back.  

During out weekly planning session this week, there were goats AND a tractor in our backyard.  It was a bit chaotic...only in Jamaica!

The Jamaican flag on the way home from church.

We climbed a very tall wall and took pictures.  All the while we sand, "I'm up on to top of  the world, hey".  WE were going to do service so it did have a purpose.  Don't worry we weren't slacking off!!

Sister Anderson from Portmore and baby Faith!!!  I love these ladies more than words can express!!!

Chaos in our backyard!!

Vines growing on walls are one of my favorite things....I don't know why!!

This is what ackee looks like before it opens!  Don't eat it or it will kill you.  It's poisonous til it opens.