Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Email from August 30th

I've noticed a lot of Themes since I've been in GI... Last transfer we had a week that I liked to think of as "Retired Millitary Vet week." We had been teaching Boyd Donaldson, and Mark Morgan around the same time, and they both had some of the same concerns. Last week was "Lost sheep week," where we kept finding people who had been baptized members of the church but didn't have records in the area. Seriously, there were like 5. THIS week was "Investigators who don't speak English week." Yeah, it's funny how Heavenly Father sends people in groups to spice things up! =).... Anyway, like I said before, we were teaching a lot of people from Sudan, and it's been awesome. We found 2 more, and they are set for baptism! Najwa and Nychai. Najwa is a beautiful sudanese mom. When we met her, she immediately told us to come in and "have sit." She didn't speak much english at all, but she walked into her kitchen, and came out with a tray full of water bottles for us. (Sudanese women always bring drinks out on trays... I don't know why, but it's sweet!) We couldn't really communicate with her, so we brought our friend Thompson Abhon with us the next time, to translate. He's awesome, he's sudanese, and was baptized in San Diego about a year ago. We didn't know who he was but decided randomly to check on him last week, and found him, and he had no idea where the church was and is so excited to be going back and helping with missionary work! GOOD TIMING, HUH? He's become our golden team-up, because neither Nychai or Najwa speak english. But it's been really neat to teach with a translater. It allows time for the spirit to sink in and communicate with us while he's translating... pretty cool. We also have been continuing to teach Darlene and Denis. Denis speaks mostly spanish, so we team taught with the Spanish Elders yesterday. The attended church! Darlene felt good when she was there, so that's awesome! She is picky about church so that was a relief. Anyway, this week was mildly confusing, but really amazing!
Anna Mcculla was baptized on Saturday. That was a great day! She has been set since I've been here. Her original date was in July, but she got a little scared. We were excited to be a part of that this past weekend.
Michelle is doing amazingly, as usual! We're praying really hard that she will get to be baptized sooner. She is ready, there are just things standing in the way, and we're worried that the wait will create a little bit of a gateway for satan to wreck it all. BUT, she's praying about some things, and I think it will all work out the way it needs to.
I just love the Kunz's.... They really love us missionaries so much. I was really sad when I left Omaha, because I knew I'd be far away from everyone, especially them, but I have not felt any less love from them than I did before. President keeps in touch with us all the time, and I Know he thinks about me, just like Mom and Dad do. It's pretty cool.
The State fair, for whatever reason, is in Grand Island this year, about 1/4 mile from our apartment. It's pretty exciting! we get to go today... we got free tickets from Darlene. Apparently Heart played last night there, so that's exciting. I could hear them when we came in for the night. Bekah would be so happy for me! =) But I'm excited for the fair... mostly the petting zoo... ;)
WELL, I think that's all I can remember from this week. I keep forgetting to bring my journal with me.... but that was basically it! =) I feel like a missionary and it's GREAT! I love you all! keep the letters coming! =)
Sister Bonelli

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Couple of pics From August 23rd

Here are a couple of pictures of Lianna. She didn't say where these were but I'm assuming the one with so many sisters was at a misison training or zone conference or something. The other one is with her new companion Sister Mortensen.

August 23rd Email

I've been learning more spanish! I can now say "we are missionaries with the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We have a message about Jesus Christ for the family. I don't speak much spanish, but we have missionaries that do speak spanish...." It's exciting.... maybe I'll get randomly called to be a spanish speaking sister! not likely though!
Well this week has been pretty insane! We got a call on Friday from President Kunz and he informed us that Sister Mortensen was going to be training a new sister who's visa didn't come through! Her name is Sister Ith, and she was supposed to be going to Taiwan next week, but she is now with us here in crazy GI! So, we're a trio now... and Sister Mortensen is a new mom =)... It's fun!
Some cool experiences since then.... We met with Darlene Gomez... She's amazing... She was a referral from a girl that sister Hall taught in Omaha, and we've been teaching her and her husband, denis, who happens to have been baptized in Guatemala! Anyway, we taught them the other day, and she told us about all sorts of experiences she's been through and we watched the Restoration DVD... She loved it! Anyway, we decided to do Pause, Ponder in Prayer with her. She prayed, and asked if Joseph Smith was a prophet, and when she opened her eyes, she was crying and she said she felt good! We comitted her to be baptized on 9/18! We're going to celebrate her birthday today after we email and stuff! =)
I had the best sunday of my life yesterday! I got to sing in sacrament meeting. I sang "I know that my redeemer lives" (the version dad used to do all the time)... Sister Mortensen has it memorized on the piano, so we got to do that. Anyway, afterwards, Brother Larry Adams, a member of the bishopric, someone I just absolutely love, got up and told a story about his wife. She is someone we visit every now and then to see what we can do for her... she's older and has a lot of back trouble. Anyway, one day we stopped by to pick something up from them, and we asked if she needed anything. She said, "well, the dining room table is in a position that makes it hard for me to get through to the door with my walker... maybe you can turn it the other direction, and the rug as well?"... So we did that and went on our way... Brother Adams told the congregation that when he got home that day, he walked in and saw the table just the way she wanted it, and remembered telling her he could do it alone, so he would need to call someone... So he walked in and was angry with her and told her she could have hurt herself. She then said, "the sisters did it. And afterward, they gave me a big hug, and told me how much they loved me, and it meant so much to me!"....Brother Adams then bore an incredible testimony, and then said "If anyone is hesitant about sharing the gospel with their friends, now is the time to do it. Take advantage of these sisters while we have them here!"... When he said that the spirit was so strong... It was intense. that was an incredible compliment he paid us. It was neat to feel the spirit that way. It wasn't just a good feeling we had... it was a presence.... SO COOL.
After that, we met with Tom Hornbacher... Our less-active, professional Gambler friend. He's amazing! Heavenly Father keeps dropping these spiritual feelings in his lap, and he just needs to give up his favorite sins so he can utilize them! He was able to go to the trail center the other day, and had an amazing tour by my lovely Sister Lawlor. He cried as he told us how powerful it was... I just love the trail center... It's a special place. I wish I could be there, but I know I'll go back, and I love GI! =)
We've been teaching a lot of people from Africa lately. Peter is awesome... He's Sudanese. He's one of the lost boys of Sudan, so he has a lot of anger and a lot of guilt. I just love him though. We randomly picked a less active from the ward roster yesterday and went to check on Thompson. We were just getting out of the car in a parking lot, when a sudanese man said "MISSIONARIES!"... It was Thompson walking back to his house. He found us instead! It was neat. Anyway, according to my companions he was amazing, but I was being distracted by his nephew, Tabu, who was probably under the influence, but asking me about the book of mormon. Eventually, sister Ith chimed in and started talking about Joseph Smith, and left me to do the first vision, so I started telling the story. about halfway through, Tabu started squinting his eyes and he appeared to be smiling... so when I got to "this is my beloved son, hear him" I began to chuckle uncontrollably.... Then he said, "SISTAH? My sistah's name is also sistah!".... apparently when he squinted, he was trying to read my nametag... It was awkward, and hilarious.... and the spirit was definitely not able to communicate with him at that time... but I think once he's sober, he will be wonderful to teach! Then, sister Ith had her first unwanted-hug-experience. Tabu grabbed us and hugged us and said "THehnk you foh helping meee!".... it was cute... and awkward. She looked at me, completely terrified, and I mouthed, "it's okay, it's okay..." So funny.
Anyway, Things are going amazingly right now! I think this is just the beginning of a lot of growing... I'm excited!
I love you all! keep me posted on life! =)
Sister Bonelli

August 16th Email

Hola Familia! =)
Wow, thanks so much for all the birthday love! It was definitely a good one =) Sister Hall told a few people before she left, so I had all of these birthday surprises! Sister Mortensen made me gluten free pancakes for breakfast.... which were awesome. My dinner appointment had baloons and candy for me when we got there, and sister Butler in the 2nd ward gave me some mary kay! Our ward mission leader also gave me a Nebraska Cornhusker blanket! We had mission training the next day, so the sisters serving in North Platte came to spend the night with us, so I even got to have a slumber party! (lights out at 10:30 of course!).... When we got home for the night and met the sisters, all of the Elders that drove down with them sang me happy birthday... it was the best. I definitely didn't feel lonely for being so far away from home... it was nice =)
Mission training was awesome! We have been learning a lot lately about Pause, ponder in prayer.... basically you pray, ask Heavenly Father a question, and wait for the answer before you close.... We did a cool roleplay, where we had to think of something we wanted to know, and we did our roleplay, inviting another missionary (pretending to be an investigator) to try it. Then, that missionary prayed, but really asked what they personally wanted to know... it was really cool. I got some insite that I needed right there with the other missionaries kneeling beside me.
Ann scared us this week. We met with her, and asked if she had read the assignment we gave her. She said, "no, and I have been doing lots of thinking and praying and I just don't think this is right for me."... .of course that is not what a missionary wants to hear from someone who has come so far! We kept listening to her... and it turns out she just worded that statement completely wrong! She just wasn't quite ready for baptism yet! She still needs to quit smoking, and she has a lot of things she needs to feel before she can make that commitment... so thankfully after a very long conversation, we were bumbed about her not getting baptized this week, but sooooo relieved that she still wants to! We all shed a lot of tears together, and she continues to say how much she has changed. She's also been having really neat experiences with prayer. This coming from the woman who was angry with God for so long. I'm just so pleased with her, and thankful that she's not jumping in before she's ready. She's amazing!
Sister Mortensen is awesome.... She just has such a sincere testimony, and a kind heart! I love her to death. We also have lots of fun together! President challenged us to memorize bullet points on How To Begin Teaching in PMG... So, we have taken on the task and we have been using hymns to memorize them. We've turned the bullet points into songs to the tune of different hymns... it's been a blast! =)... Entertainment is clearly limited as a missionary, so little things like that are really entertaining to me ;)
Well, I'm still loving mission life! Keep me posted on everything in CA! =D love you all!
Sister Bonelli

August 9th Email!

Well, I've officially hit my 5 month mark, and I'm still in Grand Island! =) I have a new comp! Her name is Sister Mortensen! I knew her in the Trail Center, and She is just the sweetest! She's very sweet, and kind, and fun, and bubbly. I love her to death. She's senior companion, but I was a little overwhelmed the first few days, because I had to lead (that's the way it goes when you are turning over an area). BUT, now it's going really well!
My birthday is tomorrow, and that's so weird! I feel like I just had my birthday! Thank you for all of the birthday love =).... Sister Hall made sure to tell EVERYONE before she went home, so that she could make sure I had a good one without her there. She's the best =)... My District Leader/Zone leaders are also super awesome, and make sure to remind me every day that my birthday is coming up... so even if I wanted to, I wouldn't be able to forget about it! =) NOM is the best.
So I've got some really great investigators in this town! Michelle Scott is amazing. She's getting baptized in September. Every time we teach her, she ends up bearing her testimony like crazy. She's so on top of it. She's also serving in the ward as best she can without having an official calling. She comments in relief society, and she's spot on every time. I just love her. Ann Johnson... Also amazing. She told sister Mortensen and I how much she feels she has changed. Her family is noticing these changes too, and she said they are confused because she talks a lot now, and she finds ways to laugh about tough situations. I am so proud of her. She also testifies a lot, and I love it! =) I told her how neat it is to see the change in her from when I first met her. She asked if I felt any responsibility for that change, and I said "No, I just showed up when I needed to...." and She said, "well, you should.".... I thought that was cool. Although I really didn't do anything but listen to the spirit, it's cool to hear that she loves me. I remember when I thought she was annoyed when we came over... now she is happy and excited. Oh, I just love her.
I've felt so much love this past week. Both from others and for others. It's so important to have that love in order to progress as a missionary. I truly love these people, and I love knowing that I'm right where I need to be.
That's about all for now, but keep me posted on your lives. I love you all!
Sister Bonelli

August 2nd Email

Transfer #3 is coming to an end.... WEIRD. Sister Hall is going home on Thursday... so I'm "killing her off".... I'm going to miss her! She's taught me so much. Love her! There are lots of things that could happen... Most likely someone will come in and I will still be junior companion, but I will be turning over the area, so that is stressful... or I could possibly become senior... who knows.... either way I'm mildly freaking out!
So this week... of course, it was awesome... Since I've been in G.I, I have given 2 talks, taught relief society, taught YW, and yesterday I taught ELDER'S QUORUM... What do I look like? A Scriptorian? Of course, thankfully, YW and EQ were a joint thing with sister hall, so it wasn't so bad... and YW was fun... we had to teach them all about fellowship. When I taught relief society, I taught them about Elder Andersen's talk "tell me the stories of jesus"... Imagine, a sister missionary (obviously not a parent) teaching a bunch of middle aged/elderly women about how to teach their children... Funny. I enjoyed it though! =)
ANN JOHNSON! Oh my, I love her. She is so great. She set a date! we invited her to be baptized on August 21st, and she said "that's cool!".... She's doing so well. Who would have thought? I just pulled her name out of a pile of formers! She said she has felt so much peace since meeting with us. She prayed with us the other day, and she (who just got over her anger issues with God) told God she loved him. AMAZING.
We work with a lot of Elderly less-actives in the area, and the other day Sis. Hall and I did Hymn Carolling and taught them on saturday. It was so much fun. It is so rewarding to see their faces! We went to See Walley and Dale, and Dale rejected us at first, so we went to sing to Walley, who loved it... then we went back out to see Dale, and we said "you change your mind yet?"... and He said, "yeah I guess...".... so we sang to him, and he totally loved it, whether or not he will admit it... and then he started singing "The Lord's Prayer" out of the blue... It was great.
I don't remember if I mentioned it last week, but QIQI (my etern-igator from Winter Quarters) got baptized! Oh my goodness! I am still in shock. I'm so proud of her. I wish I could have been there!
Anyway, pray for me that I don't have any panic attacks this coming week with transfers.... I'm excited/nervous/sad-sis-hall-is-leaving/worried that randomly they will decide to white-wash the area again. Who knows? Anyway, it will be grand! Love you all! wre me letters!
Sister Bonelli

July 26th Email

Well, it's official... I've seen my first cicada/locust. No one really knows exactly what they're called... but they are HUGE. All bugs in Nebraska are jumbo sized, but cicadas are GIGANTIC. They really don't hurt you, but they are just scary. I'd send a picture, but that would involve me having to get close to one, and I refuse....
Anyway, back to the important stuff.... We had a baptism on saturday! Doreen Cunningham! It was great! She said she got out of the water and said she just made a deep sigh, that's how great she felt. The spirit is awesome! =)
I can't remember if I've mentioned Ann Johnson before, but she's awesome! She was taught on and off by elders, and we just picked her name out of a bunch of formers from the area book. We had been trying to get in and teach her for weeks, and finally a few weeks ago, she let us in. We have had some amazing experiences just teaching her. She has had issues with God because of tragedies in her life, and hasn't walked into a church (except for her dad's funeral) in years. She finally decided to go to church, and she went with us yesterday! She was totally scared, but she did it. She also is soft set. She said she would be baptized if she knew it was true. That's not usually a HUGE deal, but I've never heard anyone respond so sincerely to a soft set. Usually people just say yes and shrug it off. But she was so amazing. I'm excited to see her progress.
We're sad because Bambi and her kids still haven't gone to church yet, and they are very hard to get ahold of. We're in the process of trying to decide what to do to help them. UGH, they just have so much potential. We did teach the kids The Plan of Salvation the other day, which was awesome. They taught it back to us, no problem. I felt pretty dumb, since I didn't get it at all when I was their age! haha.
I've fallen in love with the Pyper family, the Nesslain family, and the Cunningham family. They are the best. The Pypers are a big musical family, so naturally I love them... but the mom is just the sweetest lady, and I really click with them in a lot of other ways. The nesslains are just this big powerhouse family and they have no idea how amazing they are. The spirit just eminates from them! The cunninghams are just the cunninghams, and you can't help but love them!
I am starting to be afraid for the rest of my mission. Miracles just keep falling into my lap, and I have no idea what I did to deserve it. Grand Island is just blossoming, and I feel like all I did was just show up. It just goes to show that missionaries just sort of show up and provide people with info/testimony, and the Lord takes care of the rest. Because REALLY, lets face it... I'm not the sharpest tool in the box... ;)
Anyway, I'm in love with this funny little town. I can't wait to see what other miracle await us. Pray for me. I pray for all of you! =) write me letters! ;)
Sister Bonelli
P.s.... if anyone has heard from my brother.... tell him to let me know if he's alive, I miss that boy!

July 19th Email

WHOA... What a week.
Wednesday was "Mission Training"... which is basically zone conference, but they are doing a new system for training missionaries, and we're doing it 4 times in 2 months... so I guess it's different.... ANYWAY, it was amazing! We drove in the transfer van all the way to Lincoln for ours. Sister Hall and I sat in the van for 2 hours with a ba-gillion elders. It was actually fun, believe it or not. =)... BUT training was amazing. We got to do some really neat activities. The assistants did a training where they had us pick 20 names from our ward roster to go visit. Then, we had to separate from each other, and pick 5 names on our own, and pray about them, and then come back together with each of our 5 names. They promised us that if we had sincerely prayed and followed the spirit, there would be 2-3 names in common from our lists. So we separated, and I really tried to focus on which names stood out to me, and which names I just picked for random reasons. I felt good about the ones I had, and we came back together, and we had 3 names that were the same. HOLY CANOLI. It was amazing. President did a major training on inspired questions and pausing and pondering. He really stressed the importance of listening to investigators during lessons and waiting for guidance from the spirit to discern their needs. It was really helpful, and the next day we had some cool experiences with the people we're working with. Also, Sister Hall and I sang "Come Thou Fount".... that was fun =)
After training, we went to a park in Lincoln for our zone activity! It was lots of fun! it was disgustingly humid, and I felt really ugly, but I loved it. President and Sister Kunz came and provided a bbq picnic for us. It was nice. President played football with the elders and sister kunz had girl-talk with us sisters. I just love them. After zone activity we hopped back into the transfer van and headed back to Grand Island. As we started driving it started POURING RAIN. CRAZY. Then the sky started to turn green.... which is an indicator that there could be a tornado coming. It was insane. I was excited... I've never seen a tornado... BUT as we continued driving the rain and green sky went away.... BUT, whenever there is a crazy storm, the sky always ends up looking INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL. All of a sudden there were swooshy, billowy clouds, and Orange and pink stripes everywhere in the sky. Aw man... I will never forget how pretty it was. Don't worry, I'll send pictures.
We set Bambi for baptism, but she hasn't attended church yet, and she has to attend 2 times. She missed yesterday. She was set for 7/31, but it looks like we have to push it back a bit. I think I mentioned the Cunningham family last week. They are this super sweet/humble/awesome, yet slightly complicated family. Brother Cunningham has suddenly found himself a new wife, and she wants to be baptized. Her name is Dorreen. She's the sweetest. I just love the Cunninghams.
I'm starting to feel the exhaust of missionary work. I guess when you go full-pros it wears on you. It's a good kind of exhaustion though, so I'll take it!
There is just something really special about Grand Island. It can be a bit dramatic at times, being a smaller town... but there is a spirit here that I just love. People are really humble and kind. I have felt the spirit more often in a short period of time than I ever have. It's amazing. The people are starting to understand that Heavenly Father has prepared them for big changes. It's about to explode and we are sooooo excited to be here for this! =D
I love you all! write me letters! ;)
Sister Bonelli