Monday, June 15, 2015

Greeny Fire in Mississippi (6/15/15)

Hey y'all!

Sister Lanning here, in McComb, Mississippi. It's as Southern as Southern comes. These people are so sweet and some of them are pretty whacky! I've met a baby named Da'Money. This is not a joke. Da'Money.

I smell like Mississippi. You can use your imagination as to what that might smell like. But with all the quirks and humidity here, I love it!

My companion, Sister Kerr, has only been out 2 transfers, so we're both greenies! People (me included) have been amazed at the success we've already had together. We work together super well and she's a blessing in my life. My first Saturday in the field, I saw TWO people in the branch get baptized - convert baptisms. They are two sweet girls - 8 and 10 - that the sisters have been teaching, but whose parents aren't members. Love them to death.

My first day in Mississippi, we got to work right away. We went tracting and found some very promising people. The 5 days I've been in McComb, we've had 6 new investigators, 23 lessons, and 2 baptisms. Wow. God is good. These people know Jesus well already and so many of them are being prepared to learn more. I love teaching about the restored gospel of Christ, and in doing so my testimony of the Restoration has already grown tenfold. Every day, I'm getting more and more excited to get out and teach these people. There is a lot of poverty here, a lot of broken homes, and a lot of hardship. We have a LOT of people to teach. We're always booked. The gospel not only touches hearts, but changes lives. The people of the South are ready for more. I'm honestly astounded about how many people invite us into their homes when we knock on their doors and listen with an open heart and mind to our message. So far, we have been very well received. And we have tons of return appointments and people truly interested in the Book of Mormon. I love missionary work!

We've also been visiting members and investigators in the nursing homes around here, as well as helping out with Bingo. Those people are the absolute sweetest. The gospel is for everyone, kids and the elderly, the ones that have gone astray, everyone. I love it. And I love these people. SO many people have already told us that we're the answer to their prayers. That is so humbling. I LOVE THESE PEOPLE. How many times can I say it?

Sister Lanning
Rachel at the airport with the mission president and his wife.

Rachel and her companion.

In front of her apartment, which is part of a transport company building.  

The inside of her apartment.

Getting ready for a baptism.

Off to the Bayou (6/8/15)

It's my last day at the MTC! We're all done with class time and teaching investigators here. The sisters in my district fly out tomorrow morning. We have to be ready at 3:30 am. Yikes. Next time I email, I'll be in the grand Bayou! How crazy is that?!

I am so excited to get out there, but no matter how well they prepare you in the MTC, you can never really know what to expect in the mission field. I'm really just relying on the Lord and trusting that he'll help me in his work. My knees are bruised from praying so often and for so long. But the Lord really does answer our prayers, in his own way and in his own time. Most often, our prayers are answered simply with a feeling of peace, comfort, and love, or through other people. There's no way I'm strong enough to do this on my own, and I know he is supporting me and blessing me with those people and experiences I really truly need.

It's really hard not to get discouraged here. It's really easy to beat yourself up for not being a good teacher, for not having enough faith, or for just not thinking you're cut out for the work. But discouragement NEVER comes from God. The spirit only brings peace, joy, charity, and comfort.
Elder Christofferson spoke to us this week about missionary work. That was amazing.

Now onto a crash course of what I've learned at the MTC: 
1) Turn outward. When your selfish side is telling you to throw yourself a pity party or worry about yourself, that's when you most need to serve others. "The difference between testimony and conversion is turning outward." - Elder Bednar, Character of Christ
2) EVERYTHING is about Christ. Literally everything.
3) We don't teach. The spirit teaches.
4) The gospel is true. It changes lives.
5) Fear is the opposite of faith.

I can't wait to meet the crazy awesome people of Louisiana!


Sister Lanning

"Elder T lost his leg to cancer a couple years ago, and we like to make leg jokes. We had a competition. One day during gym he took his prosthetic off and used it as a headrest, so I was like, "I can do better." and I put both my legs behind my head.  (If you've never seen Rachel do this, you've missed out!) I win. He's really cool. And I'm a big fan of making it a fun thing instead of a sad thing, Take a sucky thing and make it a way to laugh." 

Note from Rachel's mom:  Elder T was in Rachel's district in the MTC and he's her "absolute fav person".  He's serving in San Jose, which is our mission!  I'm really hoping we have a chance to meet him.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Week One and I'm Loving Life

Hey everyone!
Sister Lanning here. Week one at the MTC is complete. It's been amazing but so so hard. And so so worth it. Elder Holland once said that angels guard the windows and doors of the MTC, and I think that's true. There's something so special about being surrounded by amazing people who have all dedicated themselves to serving others and the Lord for 18-24 months. Who've left it all behind, who have sacrificed so much, who work so hard, and who love so deeply.

The number one thing is that I'm learning how much I need to learn and how much I need to improve. We're constantly learning and constantly trying to be more like Christ. It can be emotionally draining, but it's the best experience and I'm so grateful for it. With the Lord's help, we truly can do anything.

I've seen so many tender mercies while I've been here. The sisters and elders in my district are so so amazing. Sister A is the funniest gal on the face of the planet, I swear. Sister J is so humble. My companion Sister L teaches with power. All four of us are going to Baton Rouge on June 9! They all have such sweet strong testimonies, and I have a lot to learn from them. Elder M (St. George), Elder T (San Jose), Elder C (Chicago), and Elder M (Chicago) are all awesome. We have a lot of fun here. I honestly don't think I've ever laughed this much in my life, except maybe with my roommates (WHO I MISS AND LOVE) at BYU. The elders have started to catch on to how awesome we sisters are. We're pretty funny, not gonna lie.
We have 3 people that we're teaching here at the MTC. Sister L and I make a lot of mistakes, but we're really learning too. We love those people and really truly want to help them find the happiness that we've found in this gospel.
I absolutely love it here! I'm scared about how much about teaching and serving people that I don't know yet, but I'm so stoked to get out in the field and meet the people of Louisiana! I'm also stoked for the 100 degree weather with 100 percent humidity. The sweat is gonna be a big part of my life soon.

I'm starting to realize that I'm actually a missionary! And I LOVE it. This is where God wants me to be.

Love you all! I'd dig hearing from you!!

Rachel and her companion.

Rachel and Catherine Woodwell!!

Rachel with a friend from BYU

Sister Lanning

God Be With You Till We Meet Again

This is it. I'm off to the MTC! I can't express how excited I am. How terrified I am. How grateful I am. I'm embarking on the journey of a lifetime!
This is going to be hard, the hardest thing I've ever done. But as I like to say, I'm sure it will "hurt so good." I know I will learn so much, grow so much, and have amazing experiences. I can't wait to see what the future holds.
I'm a missionary now!

Note from Rachel's mom:  I just logged in to her blogger account and saw this draft.  I don't know if she intended to publish it or not, but I figure why not.  She's been in the MTC almost a week now, and is doing great!