Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 16th Email

Dear Family,
Well, the time has come for me to write my last email home on my mission. I can't believe it! It's been a very roller-coastery week. I've had a few moments--well, a lot--- of "oh my gosh, I'm leaving!" those usually result in tears. I had my last trail center training, and they had the traditional "departing testimonies" with me and sister Larsen. It was neat to be that missionary, sharing what has changed my life over the course of 18 months. It was also really sad. My old companion, Sister Mortensen and another sister, Sister Evans, were here visiting, so I got to see them and seek some advice! They are awesome! It's been a week full of lasts, which is soooo surreal, but it's called for many powerful moments.
I took my last tour in the trail center, which happened to be the perfect way to end my experience as a visitor center sister. It was a missionary tour. Elder Pauni and Elder Robinson brought in their investigator. She was AMAZING. The spirit was so strong. We spent a good chunk of the time resolving some concerns she had. I really felt like a missionary. I actually prayed that for my last shift I would be able to really help someone, that someone who really needed me would come in. She did. We really connected, and she even wanted a picture with me. I gave her my address so she could tell me how she's doing. It was amazing.... I am so grateful for that experience.
I had my last district meeting... which was also really powerful. I learned a lot of things I really needed.
I had dinner with Melissa last night! She was so great! She taught US the lesson. She never ceases to amaze me. we exchanged how we've impacted each other's lives, and it was neat.
Todd and Helen are coming to CALIFORNIA in october, and I'm totally going to have lunch with them! SO EXCITED! Tonight we're going to help them garden, and having a lesson...
So much emotion is going on right now, more than I can really express, but I do want to take a few to share what my life has been able to be for the last 18 months. I have learned what it means to love... and what you do because you love someone. I've learned that if you are obedient, you shall not fear! I KNOW THAT. There is no reason to fear when you have done what the Lord has asked. I've learned that people come into our lives for VERY specific reasons I've learned that the Atonement is truly real. That we really can be with our Heavenly Father again someday, because of the Savior. I know that NOTHING is coincidental. I've learned that prayer works, and that it's not to be taken lightly. I've been able to learn from each experience, whether good or bad. I'm so grateful that I got to learn what I have, and that I was able to do it here in Nebraska. I've felt like the luckiest girl in the world for my whole mission, because I got to be a missionary. Something I was SO afraid of has been the biggest miracle, and I've truly changed. it's changed EVERYTHING for me. I don't know why I got to be so blessed, but I'm glad I have been here. From the second I got off the plane, I knew I didn't want to ever leave Nebraska, and now the time has come... But it's okay. I know that there are more blessings in store, and I'm still a missionary. I know that I have lots of things to do. What they are, I haven't entirely figured out, but I know that I can strive to do what the Lord asks, and I will be just fine! I LOVE my mission. It's everything to me. I will never EVER forget what it's done for me. (here come the tears) I've seen a lot of lives change, and it's because I was lucky enough to be there to see it. I know that each of us has a place in the gospel plan, and that we each have specific people we NEED to meet and bless. I know that... I love all of you, and I will see you in a few days.... Don't mind the bags under my eyes, or the farmer's tan... Hopefully they will go away with time. haha =)
Sister Bonelli.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

August 9th Email

Helen and Todd were baptized last night! WOO! Helen's records were nowhere to be found, so we got to see 2 baptisms! It was wonderful. They were both so excited. They had their interview on Saturday, and our district leader told us a little about it. He said that Todd told him that after the first few visits with us, he couldn't sleep because he was just so overwhelmed. He would just go over in his mind everything he was learning, and it all just made sense to him. At the baptism, they both bore their testimonies, and Todd said that his whole life he had faith, but there was always a hole. He had finall filled it!
Melissa is still doing super well. She had been really sick for weeks, and I had been able to see her, but she's doing so much better now, and finally was able to get to church. She bore her testimony and just amazed me again! She said that she is fine. She doesn't have to worry anymore. I've been so lucky to hear how the gospel truly has profoundly affected the people I've met on my mission. I've really seen so many miracles.
Our investigator Holly finally came to church. Her adorable little girls Halle and Mckaela came with her! We've been teaching them "I Am a Child of God," and they have been so excited about it, and for the closing hymn, we sang that! They were ecstatic and sang at the top of their lungs! It was special =)
My friend Erika from the WQ ward came to see me at the Trail Center. She is leaving for her mission TOMORROW! WOO! I am so excited for her. She joined the church a few years ago, and is so awesome. Can't wait to hear how she is doing.
I got to go to Zone Leader council on Friday! WOO! That's where the all the zone leaders, the assistants, president, and the trail center trainers meet together and discuss the mission and some of the needs, and set goals and receive training. It was AWESOME. We had a panel with a few people from Omaha, and Our Ward Mission Leader and Bishop were on the panel. I learned a lot. Sister Kunz gave a training on hope, which I loved. She talked about hope being an expectation. She called it Righteous Expectation. One thing I thought was neat was this quote, "Because Christ successfully completed his mission, we have every reason to hope." That is so true. I've been able to grasp a little bit of that lately. Especially with the short time frame that I have. Although I am nervous to embark on the rest of my life, I'm not scared. I have learned that I can do anything through the atonement that is nessecary for me to do. It's nerve wracking... but It's going to be just fine. Anyway, we got to go to the temple after which was nice... by the time I go home I'll have been lucky enough to go 3 times this transfer!
On saturday, I may have had a little cry fest just before meeting with our ward mission leader. He's super awesome, so sister myers said, "well, if there is anyone who wouldn't judge you it would be him, so it's ok!" I agreed and we went in. He saw that I was sad, and asked what happened, and I cried more, and told him. He then told me to sit down and said, "Sister Bonelli... Sister Meryhew sat right there and cried in my living room. Sister Mortensen sat right there and cried in my living room about going home. AND LOOK AT THEM NOW!" He then proceeded to pull up pictures of them with their boyfriends. I'm not even worried about boys. haha. silly brother jensen.
hmmm.. I think those are the main points of the week. It has been a good one. I'm working hard to just make sure I'm doing everything Heavenly Father wants me to right now... It's a struggle, of course... but it's great! I love you all....
Sister bonelli

August 1st Email

Well, it's officially like the depths of Hades here. lol. The Trail Center windows are literally sweating! weird, huh?! It's kind of funny. the other day we were out contacting people on the streets, and I am sure the spirit had to be making things work, because I was sweating like a pig, and am sure that what I had to say was not appealing on its own! haha.
Todd is amazing! He was in Gospel principles class yesterday and kept answering all the questions. He's just so good! Also, He's been smoke free for 2 weeks! WOO! He gets baptized next monday. His wife Helen is so cute, too. She made a little sign for he day care letting them know she wouldn't be available that day, and made sure to tell them it was because todd was getting baptized. She actually may be getting baptized, too. They can't find her records anywhere, so she may do it too. Todd keeps telling her she should just do it. He refers to it as "Taking the plunge!".... He's so silly. "Helen, we might as well save some time and have you take the plunge with me!" I just love those two.
I had another adventure as TC trainer. We got together friday night to plan training for saturday. It's so cool to see what happens in those meetings. This particular meeting, we didn't even have a topic in mind yet, and we had to start from scratch. But literally within a few minutes we knew exactly what to talk about. We had a tour in mind all about Sacrifice. We were going to select 4 sisters to touch base on sacrifice at each of the spots in gallery. We knew exactly which sisters. It's interesting to see how that happens. I know that it's directed by the spirit, and it's not like I feel this incredible force telling me, "sister so-and-so needs to talk about the Log cabin." It just makes sense, whether I know anything about them or not. That's the cool thing about callings. What you need to do just makes sense. I love it.
President Kunz's daughter just got back from her mission, and came to training on Saturday. She was awesome, and I learned a lot from her! It was a little daunting to think about being a return missionary. It's almost more pressure than being a full-time missionary. Don't judge me if I am not as fantastic as you hope I'll be! haha.
Well, it's now august, and I'm about to turn 23. ew. I've decided that I'm staying 23 forever. also, I've decided to stay in Nebraska forever. Or maybe I'll just come back when i have a family. We'll see. I love this place so much. Humidity and snow and all.
I love you all. write me soon!
Sister Bonelli

August 1st Picture

Mission wide photo. Taken just before meeting Elder Christofferson!

Pictures of the Cemetary, including the entrance, the monument and some pretty flowers with the Temple in the background!

July 26th Pictures Part 1

With Sister Meyer's at the Tabernacle after the play!

Elder's and Elder Watson! They needed extra Mormon Batallion members to come home to Kanesville!

With Sister Stranger and Sister Kusnerik before Stranger left!

July 26th Email

Dear Family!
It's been a pretty eventful week! I had the opportunity to participate in a Hymn Festival, called "remembering the hymns of the restoration." It's been planned for months, and they asked Sister Myers and I to perform "Angels" at it, so the fact that we ended up being companions was pretty awesome! =) Anyway, this fireside was at the Kanesville Tabernacle, and it was a joint church fireside. Members of the Community of Christ, Remnant LDS, and Restoration LDS were a part of the program. It was actually really neat. They had a program with music from each of our different hymn books, so that we could all sing along to eachother's hymns. It was neat. Anyway, Sister Myers and I jazzed up the song, and made some cool changes, so soon you will get to see a video. It was cool to sing at the Tabernacle. That was such an important place for the Saints. It's where Brigham Young was sustained, and lots of things happened. I feel so lucky to have been here.
Todd Kmiecik is doing fantastic! He's been smoke free for over 7 days now! WOO! We taught him the plan of salvation the other day, and he said to us that it was "the perfect plan!" He also talked about how he's felt about life since going to church. He said "it's not so much just simply going to church that's helped, but we have more faith now than we did before!" So awesome. I don't know why I get so lucky with these prepared people.
It's been a rough week for the sisters. We had a zone temple trip on Friday, and just an hour before, one of the new sisters found out that someone significant in her life was killed in an accident. Another sister went home on medical release, and almost all of the sisters are struggling with something, and they are all just really weighed down. The TC trainers had a meeting that evening to plan our training for the next morning. Both Sister Larsen and Sister Minert are dealing with things too, and I just really felt the weight of the trail center during that meeting. I knew that we needed to plan a really meaningful training. We worked together and decided to have a pioneer tribute, being that pioneer day was coming up, and we are pioneer nerds =)... Anyway, we selected, very carefully, sisters to share favorite pioneer stories and their testimonies. We wanted the Sister who lost her friend to go first, if she was willing, and she was. She went first and completely set the mood for the whole training. She shared a quote by Heber J Grant when he dedicated the WQ monument. It says, "This has been called the tragedy of winter quarters, but there was no tragedy here, for tragedy spells defeat and disaster. This was the victory of winter quarters. for here were faith and hope and charity raised to their loftiest pinnacles, all greed and selfishness were brought low." I'd never thought about it so deeply as I had then, because of who was saying it. The rest of the meeting was so powerful and I loved it. I think it was just what we ALL needed.
Anyway, it's been a really good week. I'm thankful, because I may have possibly had a "last-transfer" breakdown, finally. I was holding on for dear life so I wouldn't have one... but I had one... now it's over, and I can just focus. lol.
I love you all
Sister Bonelli

July 19th Email

Okay, so logistical things first.... I now have a profile on Mormon.org! WOO! Check me out! It's under "lianna"... We're not allowed to give out missionary info, just that we're serving missions... so that's why it's my first name. Anyway, look it up, and then make one! =)
It's been a miraculous week! We started teaching this man, Todd. He's a referral from his neighbors, the Mccashs. They called us a few weeks ago and told us that they had these neighbors that would like to learn more about the church. We dropped by and set up an appt with them. Their names are Helen and Todd Kmiecik. They are amazing. Helen is actually already a member, but a lost sheep. She Stopped going when she was really young, and doesn't remember her baptism, but her mom is active and said she's been baptized. Anyway, they have this amazing desire to do something different in their lives, so they are coming back to church. Todd says he's been feeling so much better about life. He's seen changes that have come because of his faith. He said it's not just because he's going to church, but because he has more faith now. He really feels the spirit. It's amazing. He's been reading and going to church, even before actually meeting with us, and has committed himself to do all of these things! We all hit it off right away. I feel like I've known them for forever, and it's like I'm watching my long time friend turn his life around. It's so neat how that happens. Anyway, We invited him to be baptized, and he will be baptized on the 30th! The other day we taught him about the Word of Wisdom, cause we were pretty sure he smoked, and he said that he and Helen recently decided to quit drinking coffee. He said that he was reading one of the pamphlets a few days before, and after reading it he knew that he needed to give up smoking. It wasn't the W.o.W pamphlet, it was a different one, but he recognized the need to change his habits. He wrote down on the pamphlet, "monday and 6:00"... meaning, that on monday at 6 he was going to quit smoking. AMAZING. I promised that I would quit eating unnessecary sugar, while he was quitting, so that he would know that I was giving something up to. Haha. He probably doesn't really need me to do that... but I really need to be better about that, so I'm having him hold me accountable! haha. I'm only eating desserts at dinner appts. It's helpful, every time I want to eat a piece of candy, I just remember that Todd is not smoking a cigarette. It's nice =) Anyway, it's been so neat to see the blessings that he is experiencing right now. And for Helen, too... she is so excited to see the changes in her life as well. They are amazing =)
Right now there's an annual pageant going on at the Kanesville Tabernacle in Council Bluffs, IA. They put on a pioneer play called "come home to kanesville." This year, President approved a "missionary session," that we were all allowed to attend. It was a lot of fun! Kind of weird, being at a play... but really cool. I hadn't been to the Tabernacle since the beginning of my mission, so there were lots of flashbacks going on, and it made me a little queezy. haha. I enjoyed it though, and since I'm obsessed with the pioneers, it was the best! =)
President has a conference call with all of the departing missionaries in their last transfer... so mine was up... We all got on the line, and had a little meeting. He gave us a pep-talk and some advice for staying focused. It was a neat meeting, not overwhelming at all... However, it did make everything a little more real, and it resulted in me getting off the phone at the end, and having a little cry-fest. Don't worry, it didn't last long! I've promised myself that I will NOT go into a fullfledged breakdown over going home. It's just not nessecary. haha.
well, I love you all a lot! Keep writing me!

July 12th Email

Last week was crazy! I had to say goodbye to Sister Stanger, Hale, and Itri. I was uberly depressed. I miss stanger so MUCH. Also a lot of my favorite other missionaries went home, too. It's really weird being the "oldest" now. I don't like it! They had a departing testimony meeting and I was working the TC that night, so I got to run down and say bye to them. I gave stanger the BIGGEST HUG EVER. When I was chatting with her, someone tapped on my shoulder, and I looked behind me and it was my friend Kelsey, who I worked with a lot in Winter Quarters. I had been thinking about her a lot, and I was SO happy to see her. She's an amazing person.
My adventures as a Trail Center Trainer are a bit stressful. Thankfully I'm the newbie, so it's probably not as stressful for me as it is for Sister Larsen. We planned an orientation for all the new sisters, which is a new program, so that took a big chunk of time AND energy. It was fun to do though. We also had my first Trail Center Training on Saturday, which was really fun. We trained on using the Doctrine of Christ in the trail center on tour. The spirit was really strong. Heavenly Father really helped me to not be nervous and just train. I was really thankful for that. It's interesting. Past TC trainers have said before that when they became TC trainer, they suddenly had this deep love for all the sisters. I always kind of assumed that was a lie. haha. I loved them anyway, before, but really, it's true. I feel such love for them, and I have this desire to help them in anyway that I can. I wonder if that's how Zone Leaders feel, too.
I've had some awesome tours. Just yesterday, I took a returning missionary with his family on tour. They were still in town before heading home, so they came back to do a tour. I was really nervous for the tour. I didn't really know Elder Haslam that well, and they were kind of quiet, so when they were in the theater I prayed really hard that I would love them, and that we would all be comfortable and feel the spirit really strong. When we were in the Memorial Room, I was bearing my testimony about some things, and before we went on, Elder Haslam interjected and said that he wanted to say something. He said something along the lines of, "Missions are really really hard, emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally. One of the biggest motivators for me was knowing about the pioneers...." He said a few things on that, and then said,"I'm so grateful that I got to be here, with all the blood sweat and tears, where they did the same." That's not a word for word quote, but that's basically most of it. It was so powerful. I feel the exact same way. It really hit me hard. It's neat to me to know that Those pioneer angels surround me each time I'm at the Trail Center.
We're teaching this awesome family. Jeremy and Jessica. We GQd them and they told us to come on back, and set up an appt. We went back for the appt and they had cookies and Lemonade all set up for us! cool huh?! Anyway, I ate the cookie, even though i was allergic. Jessica was worried that they looked weird, and I didn't wanna seem snobbish so I just ate it so I wouldn't hurt her feelings. It was good, no matter the consequence! haha. Anyway, they're awesome. They are already super religious, and Jeremy is hesitant about the Book of Mormon, but I know he will get his answer if he really seeks it out =)... Also... they have awesome taste in music... just throwing that out there =)
My calling as TC trainer doesn't allow time for me to be trunky, even if I wanted to be trunky... so don't worry! haha. I love you all.... keep writing me =)
Sister B

July 6th Email

WELL.... it's officially my last transfer as a missionary. It hasn't quite hit me a hundred percent yet... I'm possibly in denial. YIKES. Also, Transfer calls this morning were a little shocking an overwhelming. Sister Myers and I are staying together, which is no surprise, BUT I have been called as the new Trail Center Trainer! AHHH! That basically means that I give trainings every saturday morning to the sisters and senior couples at the trail center. There are 3 of us that do that. Sister Larsen, my MTC comp, and Sister Minert are the other 2. We also handle things like the TC schedule and plan out exchanges, and we get to go to the Zone Leader Council and receive really cool trainings from President Kunz. SO... this is pretty awesome. Daunting... but awesome. I'm actually a bit stressed about it... I don't like more responsibility than nessecary. haha.
Aside from that, The week went pretty well! 4th of July was nice. We had a nice dinner at the Hall's house.They made awesome kabobs for us! They had our investigator Heidi over after, and we had an amazng lesson with her. That family has such a powerful spirit about them. Of course, just like last year, everyone and their mom lit fireworks all week, ALL DAY, ALL NIGHT. So it was a bit exhausting. I secretly enjoyed walking past people's driveways and having fireworks almost blow my hair off.
I took some neat tours. On Sunday, a guy came in, who was really into Mormon history. He said right off the bat that he grew up with missionaries coming over to their house, and so he was somewhat familiar with us. He was SUPER nice and so I was excited to be all missionary-like with him. After I pulled him out of the pioneer film, we started on tour and got talking about Christ, and he actually turned out to be athieist. I was not expecting that. He was the nicest atheist I'd ever met. Anyway, We went around the gallery, and he was super open and asked lots of great questions. At the end, we went down to look at our amazing statues of Christ, and I bore my testimony to him. I said something along the lines of "I know that you don't believe in God, but I know he's there, and that he loves you. I know that missionaries have stopped by your mom's house because God was leading them there. I've been one of those missionaries. I know you don' t believe, but I would like to invite you to learn more about why we do." He wrote down his name and info, and missionaries are being sent there. I don't know why he decided to let them come. My guess is he's not completely satisfied with his life right now... but He's on his way to finding something great.
Other cool experience. So there's this guy Clay. He's a photographer. He went to Florence Days with us and took all of these cool pictures of us solely because of curiosity. He's sort of become our little trail center friend. He comes in often to meet with Elder Watson and chat with him about the gospel, and he finally agreed to be taught. Sister Myers is the one who originally took him on tour, so we've been assigned to teach him for some reason, instead of whoever is in his area. We taught him yesterday at the trail center. The spirit was SO strong. We talked about the Plan of Salvation. I felt like we weren't really teaching, more just talking with a friend about something he needs. It was neat. I hope he felt the difference as strongly as I did.
I've had grand experiences. I've loved it. I'm grateful to have the gospel in my life, and that I get to share it.

June 28th Email

Hola Familia!
It's been a pretty good week! Saturday We got to go into Council Bluffs, IA and search for people from their ward list in the areas where the flood hasn't hit yet. They were all lost sheep that no one knew anything about. It was neat to go and do that. We were responsible for finding out if they had any place to evacuate to, if they needed help moving things out of their houses, and some other things to keep everyone safe. I've learned a lot about how much wards actually do to take care of the people in the areas. It's neat to see it behind the scenes.
We have had some CRAZY storm action happening here. Sunday night we were getting ready to head home, and out of nowhere the sky turned completely black! Usually at that time, it's still light. It doesn't get dark until like 10. Anyway, then sheets of rain started pouring down, and it was impossible to see. We had to get off of the interstate in Ralston and then we drove to President's house, so we could plan for the next day. Then OUT OF NOWHERE the sky turned like a yellow color. It was sooooo weird. Then we finally were able to drive home, and the thunder and lightning was insane. The lightening was lighting up the whole sky. It was like watching computer animated lightning. It was so cool. Nebraska is super intense.
I've had some awesome Trail Center moments. Last week I took a Catholic Priest and Deacon on tour. Father Mike and Deacon Jim. They were awesome! They asked all sorts of neat questions, and I got to know a lot about them, too. It was all very respectful. They were in town from Missouri working on Habitat for Humanity. I also have been able to really focus on helping people feel the spirit while they're here. I've had some really great moments with people. Yesterday 2 men came in. One had been a member for 40 years, and the other, his brother, had been a member for about 11 months. We got to talk a lot about how the gospel has moved us and I learned how the 11 monther ended up being baptized. Ther other man's son, who is a missionary at the Referral Center in Provo, contacted him, and taught him throught Mormon.org, and then 3 weeks later, he quit smoking and drinking coffee and stuff, and got baptized. It was so awesome! They were really neat, and then they referred their sister. I'm excited to call her and invite her to be taught by the missionaries.
We're teaching a woman named Jen Chambers. She is amazing. She's still trying to decide what to do, but her daughters are really involved in Achievement days and Young Women, and she is very involved in Relief society. Her older daughter, Madi, is working on her personal progress! AWESOME! I'm excited to see them grow.
I nearly hyperventilated the other day. I looked at our schedule and realized we only have about a week left in the transfer, and then after that I will only have 6 weeks. SO CRAZY. I'm not a fan of the lack of time... I know I'll be happy and excited to come home, and I am excited... but it's weird to think about. I've loved my mission so much.
I love you all. Keep me posted. You might want to start compiling movies and things so that I won't be totally out of the loop when I get home! haha. I love you
Sister Bonelli

June 20th Email

Hey Fam!
So this week was pretty awesome. I've officially strengthened my testimony of Member missionary work! IT'S SO IMPORTANT! Our ward's super awesome plan has been so amazing! Just having members with us all the time has helped us to have more people to teach. I know that that is a result of us working together, and Heavenly Father recognizing that and helping us do what he's asked! It's been really great. People don't realize that the missionaries can only do so much. We are responsible for teaching, and having the spirit with us, and working extra hard... but our prime responsibility is to help members with THEIR missionary work. We're only so effective without that mind-set.
Some funny experiences to jot down:
*my pinky finger was almost detatched from my hand after being slammed by a 2 year old carrying a pink baton.
*I learned how to properly use a round-about this week. about time.
*Mimi sent me Twilight Candy.... I was beside myself.
We teach this cute little hispanic family. Their Daughter, Salma, is an 11 year old Recent convert, and the rest of the family is investigators. It's kind of a complicated situation, because the parents are not married, so that's why they're not baptized yet. Anyway, Maria, the mom is the sweetest ever. She is way better at english than she thinks she is, and is always learning different little things from us. She has a 2 year old named Esai (pink baton boy)... He calls us Mormonas (mor-mone-ahs). Yesterday we were over there, and Maria always gives us some kind of fruit to take home with us, and Esai has been picking up on this and handed each of us a banana to take home! It was way cute. Also, after he wacked me with the baton, he ran out of the room, and 2 minutes later, he came back with 3 blankets, and put them on me to make me feel better, and to apologize.... He was totally forgiven!
We're teaching a man named Lloyd now. He is a really old veteran from the Korean War. He's awesome! He read his assignment we gave him, and called us and told us he really related to the First Vision. He said he had had some experiences before with people that had passed away. He said that when we went over there next time, he wanted us to explain why he'd had those experiences. WHOA.
This past week has been really fantastic. I love being a missionary. For a few weeks, I started to realize how tired I am, and it was starting to get to me, but I'm good now. I think the end of my mission will be the best part =)
Sister Bonelli

June 13th Email

Hey family!
Not too much to report this week! I got to see Chad! I was so excited. I had been hearing all about him from other sisters, and it was starting to annoy me! He came into the TC and I got to chat with him for a few minutes. I felt bad, because I was having an off day, and I think he may have felt awkward... but I was really happy to see him!
The Trail Center is SO busy. I've been taking a lot of big 40 person tours lately. Big groups come in a lot during the summer months. I got to take a big youth tour the other day. They were from Utah. It was a 90 person tour, but we split them in half. They were all kids who just graduated from high school in the same stake. It was awesome! I got to relate a lot of things to their situation and the spirit was really strong.
It turns out the Elder they had me take on tour is probably going to go home... Sad. I tried really hard to help.
Our ward is starting up a new plan to get the members more involved in the work! We start tomorrow. It's such an awesome plan. I'm excited. Our Ward Mission Leader spoke in Sacrament yesterday, and he gave the most amazing talk! He began the talk by just talking all about the most recent converts in the ward and telling their stories. as he told each one, you could tell how much he cared about them and how much he loved being a part of the missionary work in the ward. It was awesome. Anyway, the ward seems to be responding well and we're excited =)
Not much else is happening. I can see fantastic things in the future for Millard! So excited.
Love you all
Sister Bonelli!

June 6th Email

Hey Family!
It's been a crazy week! We are now attempting to teach a man from Afghanistan. His name is Zmarai! He's awesome. He is very difficult to understand... well, actually, I can understand him, but it's hard to teach simply enough for him to understand me. I've taught a lot of people from other countries, but this is by far the toughest language barrier! haha. It's fun though. He's reading the BOM in Persian.
We were starting to teach this awesome guy named Travis. He was great. The first time we taught him the Spirit was SUPER strong. Nothing in particular happened, it was just strong that time. Anyway, last week, he gave us a printout of a website with a bunch of Anti material. It was super sad. As a missionary, you eventually learn that arguing those sorts of things is really pointless. I wish people would just pray before they start jumping to conclusions. He had so much potential, and he really needed this... Something I love about the gospel is that you don't have to take anyone's word for it. A lot of people are raised in the church, and still eventually have to figure it out for themselves, to know if it's right... people always seem to miss that part of the discussion when we teach. We make a pretty bold claim... that Joseph Smith is a prophet, and that it's the only true church... How could we expect anyone to believe that without asking God? And how can you deny it without consulting him first?
We've been teaching a less-active girl for a while. She's always been really sour towards us. She recently had a still-born, and has had a lot of issues with God. She believes him, knows he's there. Knows he loves her. But she is really mad at him. She would always let us in but whenever we tried to teach a Gospel topic she had a tendency to shut down and become argumentative. Last week we were visiting her and she actually ended up in tears. It was so sad. She told us lots of things about her life that were so devistating. She's been through a lot, and aside from her religious issues, has done pretty well in her life. We realized that to get through to her, we need to just be there for now. She needs to know that there is someone out there who isn't out to get something from her, and that she's not just a number. So... we are seeing her tonight, and trying our best.
We have an investigator that we've had for a while. Her name is Heidi. She's been around for a while, and she's been praying and studying and hasn't quite gotten her answer. We thik we may have figured out why... So we're working with her to see how we can get beneath the surface of the iceberg.
The Trail Center is a crazy house! Everyone and their mom is on vacation, so it's been pretty busy. I decided I like it that way. My tours are a lot more effective when I'm acting on impulse! haha. Yesterday I took LOTS of tours, and each one seemed to be really spiritual. I think with the lack of time to relax, there's no option but to be receptive to the spirit and make sure everyone's tour counts. Kind of cool. Yesterday, I ended up taking one with 3 summer sales reps... It was a fantastic tour, but It suddenly made coming home more real, and I realized that in 3 months I'm going to have to talk to boys again. EEEEK.
Well, i love you all! that's about all to report this week. Next week I'm sure there will be more exciting things =)
Love you!
Sister Bonelli

May 31st Pictures Part 2

Nebraska/Iowa border
With Zone at the Nebraska/Iowa Pedestrian Bridge
Temple on a summer night

The Omaha zone after meeting Elder Christofferson

May 31st Pictures Part 1

Sister Missionary Pamper Time!!

Melissa's Baptism Day!

Sister Meyers

May 31st Email

Hello fam!
First of all, I love my companion! She's fantastic! She works so hard, and is so funny. We also like to have spontaneous interpretive dance parties when we need a break from Weekly planning sessions. It's the best!
second of all, Melissa was baptized! YAY! She is so amazing. Right after her interview, we met her at her apartment, and she said that as she was walking up the stairs, she felt this overwhelming feeling that her future was going to be just fine, because the Lord was taking care of her! Her baptism was awesome. She bore her testimony at the end, and talked about how blessed she is, and she just blew everyone away. She just gets the gospel. There was a man who brought one of his co-workers to the baptism, who is not a member, and Melissa went into another room talking to her, while everyone else had refreshments! She is already being a little missionary! It was so special. So thankful for that.
I've had a lot of really neat experiences this past week that I probably shouldn't really share, but the spirit has really taken over, and really helped me see the blessings of being a missionary. I love it.
Sister Bonelli

May 25th Email

This past week has been one incredible week. On Saturday, I met an Apostle! I shook hands with Elder D. Todd Christofferson! It was amazing. The entire mission traveled to Omaha for a mission fireside, and we each, one by one, got to meet him. I sat in the front row, so I was really close while he spoke to us! We made eye contact several times, which was cool. In fact, at the end, he looked me straight in the eye and said "God, Bless you. Never forget we were together today".... that was amazing. You know someone is a man of God when you meet him once, and listen to him speak, and it seems like you're friends. He is an incredible man, and I am still in awe over it. It was funny. There were a few times during hymns and stuff where he would look at me and smile. I felt so special =)
I got to give a training in District meeting, which was fun! I actually like to do things like that now, believe it or not. I love helping missionaries feel the spirit, and a greater desire to work hard. I taught on the Role of the Holy Ghost in Conversion. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father has helped me to be someone I never thought I could become.
Transfers are tomorrow, and I found out that I'm getting Sister Myers! She's been known to "Kill" a lot of missionaries. So she will probably be my last companion! That's a weird thought. She's a very hard working missionary. I'm so excited to have her. I really want to make this the best 2 transfers of my mission. REALLY badly. So many times people get overwhelmed and its hard to focus those last days of the mission... I don't want that to happen! I'm excited to be having this opportunity to serve with all I have. I haven't been a perfect missionary. I haven't always been as good as I could be, but I do know that I want to be, and that I am going to take this opportunity to be the best I can!
I love you all!
Sister Bonelli

May 17th Pictures

Florence Days and Trail Center Flowers

May 17th Email

Hey family!
This past week was really great! I got to go to specialized training, which was really awesome. President has been doing this new thing where he only invites specific missionaries for particular trainings, and so he splits up companionships... so I went all the way to Lincoln without my companion. CRAZY. Also...I was on the mission van... All alone with a bunch of Elders... THAT was really weird. President authorized it though... so I guess it was fine. weird. Anyway, the training was just what I needed. so I was grateful for that =)
Melissa is doing SO WELL. Last week we taught her and she really opened up to us about her whole life. She's really been through a lot, and has done so well in her life with raising her kids and being a wonderful person. She's still so determined to be baptized. She went out of town the other day, and she keeps telling people she's excited for vacation, but not as excited as she is about her baptism! So awesome. I love her. She will be baptized on the 28th.
We had Florence Days again on Saturday! It was SO MUCH FUN! I loved it, even more than last year. Before it started we gathered in one of our theaters at the TC and sang songs, and I sang that pioneer song, that sister myers wrote, for everyone. It was interesting doing that in pioneer clothes ;).... We had this awesome journalist follow us around all day. He works for a news paper, but he just felt like doing a project on the history of Omaha, so he hung out with us all day and took pictures. He was neat. He was really young so it was like he was one of us. The parade was awesome! This year, the sisters got to sit in the handcarts... which I was HAPPY to do... haha. We had a blast. I will attach some pics.
Sunday was neat. Melissa had already left town, and we were trying to get our investigator Heidi to come to church. When I first got to the area, I dropped a lot of people who weren't really progressing, and heidi was the one person that I didn't let go of... even though she hadn't been really progressing. I just really felt like we needed to keep teaching her. Anyway, she surprised us and showed up for sacrament meeting! We were so happy! AND... Melissa's son Cody also showed up, which we weren't expecting... We were really excited!
This Saturday an apostle is coming!!!!!! I'm so excited. We still don't know who it is... what the heck? Either way I'm excited. Speculations say it is Elder Cristofferson... that would be cool. Right now I'm just preparing myself for that and just trying to make sure the week goes smoothly! Also we are going to the temple this friday... which is also really great =)
I think Daily about my mission and what it has meant to me. I remember being terrified, and thinking I would never want to serve a mission... but this has been such an incredible journey. Even the hard times. I wish I could explain how I've changed on the inside. hopefully it shows...
I love you all!
Sister B

May 9th Email

I only have like 15 minutes today! but I just wanted to tell you all I love you so much! It was awesome to talk to you =)
I Love my mission so much. It has changed me so much in so many ways. I was kinda scared to talk to you all yesterday, because I didn't know if I would be myself anymore... but I feel like I'm still me. I just have a different perspective on what is important to me now. I know what the lord wants for me more than I ever have, and I know what I need to do to be better. I'm so thankful that Heavenly Father found such a profound way to help me find out who I am. I love you all so much. Thank you for all of your support!
Sister Bonelli

May 3rd Email

We had a little miracle this week. well, a big miracle. So, to back track.... before I came to Millard, I'd been on exchanges there several times, and each time was a really awful experience. I guess not the experience itself, but I just felt like I needed to NOT be there. It was weird. So when I found out I was coming to millard I was a little bit confused. Also, for the past few weeks, I've been trying to just understand why that was, and try to set it aside as well, because I know that I belong here right now. I'd been having a rough time trying to figure that out. In the mean time, Millard has been suffering. Not a whole lot has been happening, and we've been doing a lot of searching. I'm dead-set on making sure the area doesn't close! Anyway, last week, a member of the ward called us and told us that she wanted to set up an appointment with us to teach her friend Melissa, who wants to know how she can convert.... (um, yes please).... Yesterday we met her. It was kind of a funny experience. Sister Young (the member) picked us up because her house was super far into the area. She came and picked us up and drove us way into the middle of nowhere, and we eventually reached the Elkhorn River. After that we went up this windy road, and parked in the driveway of what looked like a castle. That was her house. CRAZY. Anyway, that's not important. So we walked into her Mansion, and met sweet little Melissa! She's a single mom, and Sister Young has been talking to her about the Gospel for about 2 years now. She gave her a set of scriptures and has conversations with her all the time. So Melissa, on her own eventually decided to pray and her hang up was that she didn't think there was a prophet. Well, she watched conference, and was deeply touched, and she said she KNEW that we had a prophet. She told us all of this up front, and that she wanted to know what she needed to do... so we set her for baptism before we even began the lesson! She's amazing! So awesome. So the point of the beginning of the story, is that I know that those bad feelings were just the adversary trying to keep me from doing what I needed to do. I've had little tidbits of this happen, where he attacked me right before something amazing. This one just happened to be a very long-lasting one, because Melissa and I were supposed to meet! crazy! I just love those things. It was also really neat to see how much Sister Young cared about her, and wanted this for her. She is so happy to see Melissa find happiness. Man... such a blessing to be a part of this.
Had a guy come into the Trail center the other day, who is 23 and preparing to go on his mission. He struggled with some health problems so he couldn't go earlier. We got talking, and it was really neat, because he was facing some struggles that I faced right before I left. It was like a perfect set up for us to meet, because I was able to share with him things that really helped me. At one point he teared up a bit. So cool.
I got my paperwork for my release the other day... I was not thrilled. Just FYI.
Our TC director, Elder Watson, is hilarious. He is very set on making sure we get to "SEE" Nebraska. So, he had it approved for us to go on Field Trips on pdays with our zones, and him of course. Last week we went to Boy's Town, which is a home for children and teens to learn how to get by in life, if they struggle with emotional things or come from rough backgrounds. There's a little museum there that talks about the history behind it, and a few landmarks. It's way cool. I've been there before, but this time I got to see a lot more. I don't know where we're going next, but I'm excited! They have these crazy statues downtown, that are of the pioneers. They are life size and it's as though a whole wagon train is walking downtown. I hope we go there soon.
Well, I love you all! write me soon! happy mother's day! I will be sending cards today, don't worry! ;)

April 25th Email!

This week has been pretty hectic! The Trail Center has been super busy with summer starting up.... although it's been cold.
I had a cool experience I'd like to share! Last Pday I was in a really crabby mood. I'd been frustrated with some things and I was feeling a little hopeless I guess. I had been frustrated with my area, because I feel like I haven't done anything but drop people, tract, and eat dinner with members, and I was just a little fed up. ANYWAY, that night I prayed really hard and asked if I was really "equipped" to handle the area. I also asked if he would PLEASE let the sun come out because it would really make me feel better. a few things happened after that prayer. I woke up and went about the usually morning routine, and as I was getting ready, the sun shined brightly through my window. I was SO excited. I knew at that point that at least he was letting me know he heard me, if nothing else. As I was having personal study, I continued on in my Book of Mormon reading and came across a verse that was highlighted, and had a date next to it. a little over a year ago, as I was preparing to enter the temple, there were some things that I was struggling with, mostly fear of going on a mission mixed in with some things that were frustrating in my life at the time, but on a particular night, I was reading and came across this verse and it was exactly what I needed to read. The verses were in Alma 8:14-15. Alma had just dealt with a lot of rejection and was dealing with a lot of "sorrow"... the verses talk about how there are important things to be done, and that we have no need to fear. In fact, we have a lot of reason to be happy, so long as we are obedient. As I was reminded of this experience and the verse I knew that Heavenly Father was answering my prayer. He was comforting me and letting me know that I have the greatest calling EVER and that I need to be happy. Also, at the end of the verses it talks about how the Lord is the one who gave us our callings, or our different experiences in life. He let me know that not only will everything be okay, but that I am called by him, therefore I AM equipped to handle this. I can't do anything alone, without him, but I am equipped so long as I trust him. that was an important lesson for me to learn.
I have been having some really neat experiences in the Trail Center lately. I've been praying that more people would come in and that I'd be able to really let the spirit guide my tours, so I could help those who come in. Heavenly Father has been really tossing people to me. It's been neat. First of all, I was able to share that experience in a morning prayer/thought for the TC before a shift, and afterwards, Sister Watson (trail center director's wife) came up to me and asked me to write down the reference, because that was something she REALLY needed. She talked to me for a few minutes and told me why and I was so glad she was able to find comfort.
Another experience I had was with a couple who came in. They were from Colorado and they were in town for their son's funeral. They knew nothing about the pioneers, and not a whole lot about the church, but they happened to see the sign for the Mormon Trail Center and decided to stop by. I knew that they were there for a reason, and I really tried to know what to say that would help them. We went to the memorial room, and I assured them that they would have an opportunity to see their son again. I said a lot of things that I hope helped them. At one point, the wifesaid she REALLY wanted to see her son again. It is so interesting the things that happen here. People aren't always looking for something when they come in, but when we realy try to personalize each tour and seek guidance from the spirit, they can leave with something. They didn't want missionaries to come, but I KNOW that they were able to find what they needed while they were there. The lord truly lead them there that day.
A few days later was an INSANE day at the trail center. We had tour after tour after tour, and the BYU-Idaho collegiate singers came in to have a tour. They were in town performing with another school here. We actually opened up early so that they could come and then go to the temple after. Anyway, so they came and we split up the choir and took them to different spots (cemetary, gallery, video, Statue exhibit.) My tour was GREAT! I just fell in love with them. It was actually one of the most spiritual tours I've had. It was really neat. I love hearing the testimonies of people who come in. I was really excited, because I made my small group sing with me at the "come, come ye saints" part of the tour. After the tours, they went to the temple, but they promised to come back and sing a few songs for us. I was able to meet their choir director, and he was really nice, and told me a bit about the program and invited me to go an audition (still pondering that)... Anyway, they came back and sang a few awesome songs. We convinced them to sing Come, come ye saints as a whole choir, and they agreed, even though they didn't have any rendition of it. They sang, and by the end, All the sisters on shift, and a few choir members were in tears. It was so powerful. I love the trail center because we can have these awesome experiences, and you never forget the people. I love it. So, now I'm considering BYU-I... just so you know. I never would have before, but I feel like it was a little bit of a nudge from Heavenly Father ;)
Later in the day, a woman came in and she was a disaster. She had been here before, but she had been struggling with some things. she just came in so she could feel the peace in the TC. I spent about a 1/2 hour with her just listening to her story. poor thing. I had to go and greet people, so I turned on a movie for her, and told her that If I didn't see her before she left, I would leave a talk for her that reminded me of her at the front desk. So, I did, and surely enough, I missed her. She did get her talk though, and I am really glad. I hope she comes again and tells me how she's doing.
Millard is growing on me. I have come to realize that when there are people to teach, I am much happier. I am SO happy when I'm teaching. Who would have thought I'd reach that point? Meanwhile, my comp is Lactose intolerant and can't have walnuts. We are so high maintenance. haha.
WELL. I love you all! keep me posted! how is ang doing? I love her!
Sister Bonelli

April 19th Email

Well, I have been transferred to MILLARD! Normally pronounced (mill-erd)... but I like to call it "meel-ahd"... it sounds more ritzy. Anyway, It is a really fancy area. There is no ghetto, which makes tracting a little difficult. The ward is SO nice though. Everyone takes really great care of us. There's a gluten free family here, and they are awesome. I will be set in that department! =)
I had to leave Ralston... which was really really hard. I feel like a part of me is missing, because it's become such a part of me. I said goodbye to all of the people I grew to love so much. I said goodbye to jinx, and I will miss her so much. I will definitely call her all the time when I go home. I said bye to the Burton family (bishop and his family), and they were so sweet. I have learned a lot from them and their examples. I also said bye to Tom. OH MAN. I wish I could keep teaching him! He's fantastic though. The cool thing is that since I was leaving, I felt more comfortable being super bold with him. So I told him that he pretty much has his answer and that he has had plenty of experiences to show that he has. He was so funny. He told me that he's learned a lot from me and that I am a natural leader. LEADER? yeah right. It was sweet though! I guess it's nice to hear things like that from a law student! ;) We also went to see Candice and Ely. Candice cried the whole time and it just broke my heart! Ely was so cute! He said in his deep southern drawl "miss you"... it was adorable. Especially because he used to want nothing to do with me! =) I also told them that they needed to do EVERYTHING to get to the temple. OH, side note... Ely told us that night that he got to go do baptisms for the dead the day before! I was so excited. Anyway, we sang them a little song and then we left. I kept my crying covered until we left, and then I let it go once we got to the car. I almost feel like I'm going "home" home. It was tough to leave.
Millard is a good place. It's taking some adjustment, but I'll get there! I'm follow-up training Sister Monson. She's great. Wish me luck on my new adventure!
So... An Apostle is coming to the mission on 5/21!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOO! I've been waiting for this! We don't know who yet. BUT, there will also be a member of the presidency of the seventy, and someone from the presiding bishopric! So awesome! hopefully I get to meet him!
Well, that's about it.... I love you all! I pray for you every day! MUAH
sister bonelli

April 12th Email

Well, this week has been a fantastic one! We had like no teaching pool, accept for Tom, and we found 7 new investigators last week! So we now have lots of people to work with! Tom is doing so well. He went to church on Sunday, and we're pretty sure he got his answer! We aren't seeing him until tomorrow, so we'll see what happens. All I know is he texted us after and said that every free chance he gets from Studying he's going to read the book of mormon so he can read it straight through! He's just fantastic. =)
We have a new investigator named Ellory Fitzgerald. He's this cute little old black guy. He is hilarious, and talks A LOT. Usually about politics, or crazy crimes on the news. He came to church on Sunday and he loved it! Every time he introduced himself he said, "Ellory Fitzgerald. Christ the Lord has risen." Haha. He's great.
In the MTC they show what's called "the district"... it's little films of actual missionaries in their areas showing us how to do different things. They use them even in the field. Last summer they updated them, so now its called "the district 2." They had a whole new training system and they wanted all of us to learn it so that the new missionaries coming out would be on the same page as us. Anyway, the filming was done in the San Diego mission, and 2 sisters who are on the videos came to Omaha to visit family, and they did 2 trainings for us. One was at our Trail Center Training on Saturday, and then in the evening they trained the Omaha, Papillion, and Council Bluffs zones. It was AWESOME. They taught me a lot. I have been feeling kind of a void lately, and they were able to help me figure out what has been missing, so that was great!
Transfers are this week! I am pretty certain I will be leaving Ralston. I would be happy either way, but I will definitely miss it! I kind of feel a bit like I'm going home... I've been in Ralston for so long, it's like home. I've learned so much here and grown so much. I just really hope I don't leave the Trail Center again!!! Lets just hope my companions don't mind my ridiculous suit cases, and having to help me carry them down 3 flights of stairs! =)
Well, I love you all. I pray for you every day, and I know you do for me too. Keep working hard and remember how much the lord loves you!

April 4th Email

What a week!
It was a pretty rough one actually. We had lots of people drop us. LOTS. One of them was actually a less-active named Jinx. I've worked with jinx for the past 7 months. She's come SO close to coming back, and I've seen such a change in her. Everything has worked against her though and it's just been hard for her to come back even though she knows that's the right thing. She called us, after an incredibly long day of walking around, and told me that it hurt her to make this call, but she had agonized over what to do for too long, and she decided to just stay where she was at. I could hear the pain in her voice, and the hesitation. I had found a talk a few days before that I thought was for me, but I knew it was something she needed too, so i told her that, and she let us go over the next day. We went and gave her the talk and chatted with her for a few minutes. But it was kind of the same as the phone call. I love her so much, and it just broke my heart. We had a shift at the trail center right after, and we got in the car, and I think I cried the whole way there. The tough part of a mission is the love you feel for the people and the devistation that happens when you have to give them up.... I'd say that's my only complaint.
On the upside! Tom is doing great! That same day, Tom met us at the TC, and we walked over and had a lesson outside the temple. We invited to come watch conference at the TC the next day and he agreed. He came to conference and LOVED it. He said he wanted to watch more, and he said that he would go to the church! He has been super hesitant about going to the church, so that's awesome! He went to a session at church, and loved it again! He also said he'd pray about 4/23 for baptism! He said he would ditch his finals to get baptized if that's what god wants! he's awesome!
We had 2 little miracles yesterday. 2 former investigators called us and told us they wanted to meet with us! So, even though the week was a little rough, it got better, so we were excited =)
I love you all! have a fabulous week! keep writing me letters.... or well... start up again (cough, cough) love you!
Sister Bonelli

March 29th Email

It's been a fabulous week!
Our investigator Layla has a baptismal date! That's exciting!
Tom came to the trail center and loves it! Also, we had a lesson and sister Kunz came. She kind of took over the lesson and invited him to pray about it right there... in the lesson! So, he did! He waited for Heavenly Father to answer for a realllllllly long time... and it was a little awkward, but then he jumped up and said, "I think I got an answer!"... he said he still doesn't know, but the thought "by their fruits you shall know them" came to mind... SO COOL. He's just awesome... he's very motivated. He doesn't want to make the wrong choice but he believes everything he's learned, and he's really studied it out... so we're excited about him!
I got to go on exchanges to Bellevue Nebraska yesterday! That was lots of fun! I usually hate exchanges. Either you're in your area and you are without your companion, or you're in another area and you miss your area and it's just frustrating. But I was in Bellevue yesterday and I loved it. I really connected with the people there and I just really enjoyed it. We'll see what happens next transfer! There's a recent convert in Bellevue named Matt who is awesome. I actually met him MONTHS ago. He was accidentally called in the call center at the TC by sister Brady, and he accepted the invite to meet with missionaries. He came to the trail center and I got to take him on tour. He investigated for MONTHS, and I'm not sure why, but he always would talk to the sisters in bellevue about the tour I took him on. Anyway, I got to talk to him just before they set him for baptism and he even requested me to go to his baptism, but it was out of my zone so I couldn't. Anyway, we got to make a special stop and visit him while I was there yesterday. He's all GLOWY. So awesome. It's funny being on a mission, just the different people you meet and connect with.
I can't remember if anything else has happened this week! But, it's been a fabulous one! I love you all! write me soon!
Sister B

March 21st Pictures

Ely and Candace on Ely's Baptism Day!

Sister B's Trio!

March 21st Email

I just love life. Ely Roach was baptized and confirmed this past weekend, and It was amazing. He's a changed person, and I'm so glad I got to see it happen. His baptism was the most tender one I have been to. Beforehand, Candice asked us if we would sit next to her while he was being baptized, so when he got up, we moved up to her row and sat by her. When he was baptized Candice and I both sat there and cried. I know that now they are just a year away from going to the temple! I felt so blessed to see that happen. I have been to several baptisms, and seen some amazing things, but the thing about this one is that its something that Candice has been waiting for and finally has hope that they will be sealed. After Ely came out from changing clothes, he ended up sitting behind candice, instead of making us move, and Candice reached back and grabbed his hand. They looked at each other for a few seconds and just smiled. I could tell how much they loved each other and how happy they were. It wasn't cheesy I promise! Although, I felt like I was watching a really moving chick flick.(I guess it's been a while)... But it was so sweet, and I am just lucky to have been there to see it. There are so many things about my mission that have changed me. That evening, my companions and I were laying in bed chatting, and I just felt so overwhelmed with happiness. I can't begin to describe the way that this mission has changed me. We even talked about how we can't even describe it to each other. It's just this common thing that we all individually understand, but don't know how to express. I don't know... it's just amazing.
Later that day, We went to follow up with a lady we met while checking on some potential investigators. Her name is Christina. When we met her, she said that she and her husband had recently been talking about how they wanted to go back to church, but they didn't know where because they hadn't found the right fit yet. She could tell that our meeting her wasn't coincidental. We went back to teach her, and she was just amazing! She's been through a lot, but now has a wonderful husband and 2 adorable little kids. Anyway, after we taught her, she said to us that she felt like we all looked so familiar and that she felt like we'd sat at that table and had that conversation before. Whoa...
Another little miracle... We've been teaching this less-active lady named Jinx since I've been here. She is just awesome. She used to kind of try and intellectualize the gospel, but it turns out that she never really doubted... she just struggled with some other things. Anyway, now it's come down to her just deciding what to do. She's scared, and I can feel that she is, but I know that she will do whatever the lord tells her at this point. We had an awesome lesson with her yesterday. Bishop Burton came with us. He's just an incredible person, and I have loved working with him. Anyway, he pretty much taught... actually, I felt like a fly on the wall during an interview the bishop, so it was kind of funny. But jinx has always been very open with me and whoever my companions have been. Anyway, It was awesome, and I learned a lot from him. He gave her a blessing, and I think she is getting there! We are excited.
Those are just a few of the miracles I've been able to witness this week. I have truly seen the Lord carry me to wherever I've needed to be. I am so grateful to know that I can't get by without him. I love him. I have a favor to ask of all of you.... Will you mail me your conversion stories? I just want to know at what point you knew that this was right... I have a new fascination, so just run with it! k? love you!
Sister Bonelli

March 15th Email

We've had a fabulous week. Ely is getting more and more excited to be baptized on Saturday. He's just really jumped in and changed so much. I never saw this coming. i knew someday he'd be baptized, but I didn't think it would be while I was here, and I didn't expect his whole personality to change! He's really quite remarkable! He and Candice came to church on Sunday, and she had to leave early. BUT, he stayed, even without her. We were so proud of him. He answered questions in Gospel Principles class, which he NEVER would have done before. He's extremely shy. Yesterday, our most devoted dinner-givers invited them over with us to have dinner, and Ely was throwing out cooking tips and starting all kinds of conversations. The whole time I was like "Who ARE you?"
We've had lots of amazing things happen. We had an opportunity to go on splits the other day. Sister Vander Does and Sister Kunz went to an appointment, and Sister Warner and I went and knocked on some doors. We knocked on a door, and it was amazing! first of all, his apartment looked and smelled like a starbucks... so that was fun. And then he turned out to be completely searching for truth! Just the day before he was reading about Joseph Smith, and he said he's completely fascinated by him, and he just wants to head in the right direction. He even prayed that he would know, and that he would do anything for it! AMAZING. We also met a woman who wants her family to start going back to church, but they haven't found one that fits yet. She said she and her husband were just barely talking about it. So cool.
I have a habit of saying really awkward things. I think it's mainly my companion's faults. For instance, I ment to ask our High Priest group leader how he was, but I accidently said, "Brother Johnson! how OLD are you?"... It's embarrassing, but I figure I've been in Ralston long enough that my flaws are unnoticed at this point.
Well, I love you all, and I'm thankful for your support! HOWEVER, I think it's about time my friends started writing me again... I have no idea how you are, and I have no idea who's engaged at this point! keep me posted! love you!
Sister B

March 7th Email

Oh boy, oh boy! This week has been grand! First things first. I didn't get transferred! I'm staying in ralston for another transfer, so I'll be here for 7 1/2 months! So excited! I get to be there for Ely's baptism. This is so great! He's progressing so well, and he just glows! he's going out of town on business this week, so pray that he will be able to stay strong! =)
I'm now in a TRIO. Sister Vander Does and I stayed here, and Sister Warner came to us! She was also trained by Sister Brady! She's awesome! We are excited to be serving together.
I had some WONDERFUL tender mercies this week. On Saturday I was in the trail center. I took a wonderful lady on tour named Leslie, and we were walking through the Gallery. All of a sudden, David Reeves pops up out of nowhere! Well, there's more to the story, but I wasn't expecting him to show up then! Anyway, I was so excited and I ran up to him and said hi. I felt really bad because my tour was totally bombarded, but Leslie was so happy when I told her that he was the first person I ever invited to be baptized. She even took a picture and emailed it to mom right there from her phone! Anyway, David is doing so well. He's about to be ordained an elder, and he's working on getting to the temple as well! =)... He seems so happy. He was texting Sister Brady (stephanie)... and she told him to tell me that Geoff Woodhouse is getting married! In the Temple!!!!! It was the best day of my life. =)... It's a cool feeling to see these people come even closer to christ by getting to the most sacred place on Earth. So exciting!
I really don't have anything else to say. I'm just so thrilled with these miracles. I love being a missionary.
I love you all.
Sister Bonelli

March 1st Email

I've learned a very important lesson this week about patience. I've been in Ralston 6 months now, and I have waited and waited and worked the hardest I ever have, and seen no baptisms. I saw MANY miracles, and many blessings, but baptisms were non-existant. I've been fairly okay with that, because I know I was doing everything I could. Anyway, Yesterday was a crazy day. we had to take our car in, and the dealer told us that we needed a new water pump, so we couldn't drive it until the part came in. So, we raced to the mission office, and talked to our vehicle coordinator, Elder Herzoff. He agreed, and said that we would need to leave the car at the office until wednesday. We have a bagillion appointments, so we were a little worried. Anyway, he was trying to figure out a solution for us so we could still have a car. He handed me a key, and he said, "Sister Bonelli, who is getting baptized in Ralston-Lavista?"... I informed him that we currently have no sets. He said, "is there anyone promising?" I said, "well, Ely. He's progressing really well." He said, "Here are the keys to the new mission car. If you promise me you will set him, you can use it until transfers when we give it to the area it belongs to." We said, okay! So, I spent the rest of the day driving the BEAUTIFUL white Ford Fusion, with 11 miles on it. I was a nervous wreck. Not only was I responsible for this car, but I had to decide when and how I was going to Set Ely for baptism. He's clearly a tough case. He's really giving baptism a lot of consideration, but still very hesitant.
{Side note: When Ely came to church on Sunday, we had him come with any question he had for God, and to pray about it before and during church. He showed up and he had a tie on, and a GLOW about him. The Ward just really took care of him, and he stayed for ALL three hours!}
Anyway, we went to his appointment last night, and we had a GREAT lesson. All of a sudden, I felt like I should just bring up baptism. So, I asked him if he's been thinking of it. Now, mind you, Ely is a man of few words. However, lately he keeps voluntarily expounding on the things I ask him. So it's been weird. Anyway, he said he had been thinking about it, and he expounded, and said that on Sunday, he decided that he wants to get baptized!!!!!!! We of course were completely shocked. Well, not completely, but sort of. He was just so happy. He knew what was right for him. I have never had such wonderful news in my life. Candice of course was bawling. She was not aware of this decision. We set a date for march 12. As soon as we walked out of the appointment, we said a prayer of gratitude. I Immediately was in tears. I was so happy. I literally have seen a miracle in Ely from the time I met him 'til now. He has changed. I said to Sister Vander Does, "that is what this is all about. Seeing people like Ely come around. If I leave Ralston this week, I will know it was all worth it, because he finally agreed to be baptized."---or something like that. However, I then started crying, because I am pretty sure I am leaving Ralston, and I will be devistated if I can't go to his baptism. I've worked so hard to get to this point with him. But whatever happens will be right, and as long as he gets baptized it will all be okay.
We called Elder Herzoff and told him and he was so excited for us! We tried to get him to let us keep the car, but he didn't. Sad. It's a lucky vehicle that's for sure!
That's all I really want to say about this week. It's been one of much opposition, but in the end I am so happy. I am really hoping to stay another transfer in Ralston, but we'll see! I love you all! keep in touch!

Monday, February 21, 2011

February 21st Email

Well, I'm sure you all have heard about our crazy break-in experience. I wasn't going to mention it, but Sister Thompson from the mission office mistakingly called mom because she thought Sister Vander Does (who's camera was taken) was me.... so naturally, our secret break-in was made known to the whole mission! lol. Anyway, We were coming home for lunch on Thursday, and saw that the door was cracked open. We thought that was weird.... So we went in, and I walked straight to the kitchen to wash my hands, and Sister Vander Does called for me. She showed me our door. The door jam was broken and the wood around the metal was split. The right side of the molding around the door was completely detatched and leaning against the wall. it was nuts! We didn't think anything was missing... missionaries don't have much to steal, so we just called the apt manager, President, and Sister Thompson. Then we had lunch. The funny thing was, there was a mysterious tomato placed on our counter that we know NEITHER of us put there. Anyway, later we realized Sister V's camera and a bit of cash were missing. We didn't have much time to really freak out about it, and then went to the Trail Center. We weren't planning on telling anyone, but somehow it leaked, and so everyone showed their concern! It was quite the wakeup call to have the sisters make sure they go out of their way to lock their deadbolts. Anyway, we're fine...
HOWEVER, our week was just kind of a mess up until Saturday. I've learned that opposition truly takes place before great miracles occur. Aside from being "burgled," everything kept getting in our way. All I wanted to do this week was missionary work, but stupid things kept happening! haha. The trail center sisters switch around cars a lot, because of the trail center schedule, so we ended up taking another companionship's car the day after we were robbed. that car ended up being dead, and we had to take it into the car shop. Then everything kept preventing us from doing work, and I just felt really unproductive! We got stuck at the trail center that night, because we didn't want to use the miles to go back and forth, because we were going to be there the next day, so we were trying to do our weekly planning session, and just couldn't seem to get anything done. I started to get really overwhelmed. I was stressed, hadn't had a chance to really freak out about being robbed, and just feeling the pressures of being a senior companion... SO, sister V reminded me of our handy-dandy trail center memorial room, where lots of miracles happen. So, we stopped everything, and went over to the memorial room, and plopped down on the floor, and just looked at the temple and the cemetary. I was instantly filled with peace. I just knew everything was going to be okay, as long as I was doing my best. The night did get better! The winter Quarters Singles ward was having a dinner at the trail center, so I got to see a few people who I missed A LOT!
Okay, so here's where the reward of opposition occurs. We had all of saturday to try and make our week turn out right. We got to teach a family from India. They are Hindu, but they want us to come back! So cool! We also taught Celora. We were not sure what to do about Celora, because she hasn't really been keeping commitments. We did, however, promise her we would find someone to give her a blessing of healing. She struggles with Epilepsy, muscle pains and migraines. So, we tried to find someone in the ward, but it didn't work out. We got ahold of our zone leaders and they were available! We went over there, and Elder Shepard gave her a blessing. It was INTENSE. He promised her that according to her obedience she would be healed. CRAZY. The spirit was so strong. Afterward, Celora was in tears and said she felt "warm and tingly"... we set her for baptism, and went on our way! =)
Next miracle... Eli. We went over there. We had prayed together about what we should do for this particular appointment. We felt like we shouldn't try to set him for baptism again, but that we should just teach him about the atonement, and then invite him to do pause, ponder in prayer by himself. I remember having this image of him and candice looking so happy, It was interesting. When we taught them, they looked SO happy! It was amazing. But also, We asked Eli how he's been feeling about baptism, and he said he's not ready "yet".... then I asked him if he felt like that's what God wants him to do, and he said yes! YAY! Also, for the entire time I've been teaching him, he would NEVER pray out loud with us. But the other night, I asked him for the umteenth time, and he prayed! with NO hesitation! =) He also went to church again! He's progressing so well. We are so excited. Our week turned out to be an amazing one, inspite of the craziness. I KNOW that was Satan's way of keeping us from doing the work. He wanted us to give up, and we just weren't having it! ;)
Well, now that my testimony has been strengthened, I would love to hear about all of your experiences! you should write me some letters and tell me all about it! ;)
Love you,
Sister Bonelli

February 15th email

Whew. what a week! First off, I must apologize for my complaints about the cold.... in truth, it really was not that bad! I was just grouchy... BUT, I'm pleased to say that Nebraska is melting! There's water everywhere, because the heaps of snow and ice are melting down, and I have not worn my coat in 4 days! WOO! The crazy thing is, it's 40 degrees, which I never thought I would stand without a coat! WOO! I did have an unfortunate cough that resulted in my sounding like several different general authorities... my favorite was J. Golden Kimball. That was usually after a major coughing fit.... There was a time that I literally could barely speak.... I was so frustrated! I eventually decided that it didn't matter. I found myself bearing my testimony and sounding so pathetic, but I didn't really know what else to do.... missionaries should NEVER lose their voices.
Aside from that, it's been a fabulous week!!! Eli FINALLY came to church. WOO! I think he enjoyed it. He's a man of few words, but his countenance, I have learned, is pretty readible. We invited him to pray about getting baptized on March 5th. He said he would! that's huge for Eli! Then, the next time we taught him, he was being a bit stubborn. I think he's trying to fight it a little bit, but he committed to go to church, and he finally made it! Yesterday, we went to the Trail Center to watch the Joseph Smith Movie, and they came, and so did the perkes family (RS president and WML).... They are awesome! After, we decided not to pry him for his feelings, but we decided simply to just bear our testimonies and invited the perkes to do so as well, and then left it at that. The spirit was SO strong. It was just one of those times that I regained my testimony by bearing it. It was cool. Also, I really started to realize how much I want Eli to have this in his life. I just want him to understand that.
I got a little frustrated the other day. I have been in Ralston for almost 6 months now, and this is the one area where I have yet to see a baptism. I admit, I got a little discouraged, because I'm pretty sure it's time for me to leave at the end of this transfer. I wondered what I was doing wrong, I guess. BUT, Heavenly Father is amazing, and he really helps us when we need it. We had zone conference, and the Omaha Stake president was there. He told us about Nephi, and how there was a point where no one listened to him. He then read in Preach My Gospel, and it has a statement about how to measure success as a missionary. It says that a successful missionary does everything they can to find, teach and baptize. it didn't say that a successful missionary finds, teaches, and baptizes. just that they do everything they can. That really touched me, because although I am not a perfect missionary, and I don't really know if I'm successful, at least I know I have done everything I know how to do for this area, and I have seen miracles. One thing that is neat, is that even those who came really close to being baptized, and were not actually baptized, were helped in some way to come closer to christ. I know that lives have changed to some degree. I hope that I can see Eli, Fredi and Itzel baptized before I leave, but even if I don't, I know that I love them, and I've tried everything I could.
I love the things I learn as a missionary. Heavenly Father teaches me things every day, and I'm so grateful. I love you all!
sister bonelli

February 7th Email

This week has been an adventure, that's for sure! I experienced my first time slipping on the ice. That morning it happened to be 2 degrees, and because of the icy roads, we weren't allowed to drive our cars, so we decided to be most productive, we knocked doors at our apartment complex. The wind felt like it was biting my face. It was so weird. We were stepping over a mound of hardened snow that's been there for weeks, and I slid. This time it was very graceful. Sister Vander Does says it was very ballerina-like! I didn't actually make it to the ground... However, the second time I slid, was a little more critical! I slid, and before I knew it I was flat on my back. Sister V was having an internal battle as to whether or not it was okay to laugh at me, because my scarf at that point had flown over my face, and I was just laying there feeling grumpy.... so she chose to NOT laugh. I remember laying there and I was thinking "I am NOT going to be able to be charitable in these conditions...." BUT, I got over it, and we've been laughing ever since. The best part is, yesterday Sister Vander Does experienced her FIRST slipping on the ice moment. Hers was actually very neat. She slid into the ice as if sliding into home base. I was impressed. We are now both in a bit of pain... but we are still laughing! ;)
We've had lots of fantastic experiences! Between the 2 days of cars being grounded and the superbowl being yesterday, the work was hindered a bit, but we have been able to see miracles nonetheless! We asked Fredi and Itzel if they had thought at all about marriage, and they said that they aren't sure they will be able to make it to their baptism. They said there is something they have to do before they can get married... What that is, I don't know... but we invited them to pray about it and ask heavenly father to help them make it to their baptism. They are amazing.
Candice and Eli are also great! The other day we had what we call our "smackdown" lesson... well... it was going to be a smackdown lesson, but it was more of a clarity lesson. We asked Eli if he has seen any changes lately in his life since we started meeting with him, and he said he hadn't really seen any difference, but he finds himself thinking about the gospel when he's on his own, when he's driving to work and stuff. HUGE! He is making improvements all the time. He also just looks different. Even though he's still hesitant, it seems like there's more of an innocence about him now... He and Candice came to the trail center, and we took them on tour... That was awesome.
speaking of the trail center... don't know if I mentioned this when it happened or not... BUT, we have a new artifact. When elder brewster was here, he tried for his entire mission to get Amy Porter's grave marker in the memorial room. Amy Porter was a woman who died here at WQ, and her grave stone is the last one that is left, because they were all poor materials, so they didn't last long. Anyway, we've had a replica of it for forever, but he spent his whole mission trying to get the real thing in the trail center. Finally, a while back, he got it, and had it sitting locked up in his office for a long time, because we needed a glass case for it, which was taking forever to get here. FINALLY, in his last week here, the glass case came, and on the day he left, he got to see it all set up and situated in the memorial room. It was so important to him, and he was able to see it through! We were so excited to have it.
I had a few embarrassing moments this week aside from the pitiful fall! during the crazy car groundage situation, we really wanted to have some chinese food delivered to us while we worked on some things in our area book. We couldn't find anyone who delivered, so we were sad. the next day we knocked on a man's door who was DEFINITELY not interested. He was a minister. He said he only answered because he thought we were the Chinese delivery man... Immediately my mind went to FOOD mode. "Wait... what? who delivers chinese!?!"..."China Garden." "what?! hey, do you have their number?".... "sure... "... he gave it to us, and I realize now that that was not the most professional situation... but, now I have it in case I find myself bound to the apartment again. Later on, we saw the chinese delivery man, and we tried to GQ him, but he ran away from us... I'm not sure if he was scared or if he just didn't speak english... either way It was awkward.
I do really embarrassing things all the time... I'm not sure how to overcome that... but I have accepted it so I guess I will just try to lessen my moments of awkwardness.
We started teaching a couple from Benin who speak french! Their names are Rickys and Idris. They are awesome... Idris is hilarious. He said to us, "We are so happy to have you here, but next time bring someone who speaks french." We have been working on it.
Candice came to church Yesterday. I was so proud of her. Eli didn't come... again... and I could see the disappointment on her face. She even sat down and started crying when she came in. I just want her to be happy. He will come around, it just may take a little while. I really love that girl, I know she and I will be great friends after my mission!
I had a neat experience in the Trail Center the other day. I was on duty and a guy walked in. He asked if there is a tour here, and I said I would love to take him around the gallery. He was pretty young. He was from Hawaii but just moved to kansas. I asked him if he knew much about the pioneers, and he said he didn't know much. He'd been inactive for a long time. He immediately told me that he felt like he needed to come find the temple, and didn't know there was a visitors center. I have this habit of attracting people who have fallen away. I don't know what it is, but I love to talk to people who have to see how I can help them get back. We went on the tour and he told me lots of things about himself. He was a return missionary. He served in Hong Kong and fell away shortly after. He said last week something just prompted him to go to church, and so he went. And on Saturday he felt like he needed to find the temple. He said he hadn't had those feelings for a long time. It's amazing how people just tell you things. I even mustered the courage to ask him why he fell away, and he told me. I was kind of surprised by this situation. When he walked in, he looked like he was "too cool for school." I even thought he looked a little familiar, but it turned out to be one of the neatest experiences ever. At the end, I told him that there are missionaries out there who are just meant to talk to people just like him, and he gave me his info so I could send missionaries his way. It was really cool. I'll never forget it =)