Monday, June 24, 2013

Hand written letter sent home

17 de Junho, 2013

Dear Family,

Crazy day!  I’m so sorry!   The library was crazy busy so we couldn’t stay on for very long, and then we had to grocery shop and do laundry and drive to Bartlesville so Sister Cook could buy summer clothes.

I think the most exciting thing that happened this week was meeting with the member referral I told you about before-her name’s Karen, and she brings her sons to our lessons.  They’re 12 & 14.  She’s so willing to meet with us, and while she doesn’t have the desire/testimony to be baptized yet, she’s willing to try to get there.  And not only did they come to church, but she brought her friend and her two boys! Their families are both living at Karen’s house right now.

Other than that, we’ve met a whole ton of people that were just OTMs-“open thy mouth”/”Oklahoma Tulsa mission”/”it stands for everything”.  Basically, people you contact on the street!  It was exciting, sometimes you’re just like “wow, I can’t believe that person actually listened” and who know what’ll come of it…

We’re on our way in just a bit to meet with the family we’ve taught before.  Man, I wish I could understand Spanish.  They’re doing so great though…I think.  The kids speak English and the mom actually speaks a language I can’t spell (or pronounce) that’s native to Guatemala.  Dad?  Help me out?  I don’t really get how they all understand each other.  But the kids are super stars!  The 11 year old girl read the first chapter of so in the Book of Mormon and told us in precise detail what happened in Chapter 1.  “Someone was born of goodly parents, and he had a record, and he said he made it himself…”  She’s so smart J.  She and her brother are actually leaving this week for a “quizzing” tournament-some church they’ve been going to has this tournament/quiz bowl type thing, and it’s all about the Book of Acts.  And so they’re going to Indianapolis and St. Louis.  She’s super excited because they’re going to go in the Arch and visit the museum.  I wonder which one that means… I’ll have to ask.  Anyway, it was awesome because in our lesson when we talked about repentance, I was like, “there’s a good example of someone who repented and changed his life in Acts.  Do you remember who that is?” And then they told the story of Saul/Paul better than I could.  Best ever!  So I think they really got it!  And the Dad too!  Great discussions.  Seriously, thank heavens for Spanish speaking members.

The other fun thing is that it’s firefly season!  It’s Sister Cook’s first time seeing them and she’s fascinated by how ugly they are up close…I think it’s hilarious.  Oh, I love Sister Cook!

Being in Bartelsville today was funny!  We kept running into LDS people who’d be all excited to see us.  I haven’t had that reaction before…usually people cross the street when they see us.  This is better!  We had a fun time.  Still, who’d have thought there’d be so many Mormons in Bartlesville?!

The other noteworthy thing this week was that we had exchanges.  Sister Magness, the Sister Traiing Leader for the Tulsa & Tulsa East Zones, came up to Coffeyville and stayed with Sister Cook for 24 hours and they sent me to Clairmore, OK to be with her companion.  It was actually kind of sad/scary for whatever reason, but it ended up being a really great thing.  Sister Thatcher (her companion) is the best…she reminds me a lot of Brooklyn, actually.  It made me just want to hug her all the time. J  Unfortunately, the exchange and all of the new-ness of it made my brain start thinking about how we’re halfway through the transfer now, and I have no idea what the future holds for me.  To stay sane, I really need to keep a super narrow vision, blinders on.  One day at a time-sometimes one hour, or one lesson.  And thinking about how uncertain my future is, is scary! (No, I don’t know anything about my Visa.  Neither does President Shumway, sorry).  But when I decided I’d give the Lord 18 months of my life, that wasn’t contingent on a location.  “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord!”  I have to mean that, and truly internalize it, and have the faith to surrender all of my worries to Him.  And boy, is that hard!  But for those moments when I do, I feel at peace.  And that’s when I know I’m learning to trust.

Hope, faith, trust.  And pixie dust. J

I know this is my Heavenly Father’s plan for me.  That somehow, I’m supposed to help somebody or learn something here in Kansas.  I don’t know what.  It’s hard to imagine that it’s even possible sometimes.  But I know He wants me right here, right now.  The Lord prepared me for this mission, and I know I was led by Him to put in my papers when I did.  The Lord knew I wouldn’t get my Visa!  And just like He put the planets in perfect orbit of each other and clothes the lilies of the fields, He is mindful of me, and loves me.  In my interview with President after Zone meeting, he told me that he can see me more clearly than I could see myself, which I thought was interesting since we met 3 weeks ago!  But the, for a minute I saw what he meant and I could see myself through his eyes.

The Lord knows I’m trying.  And hard as that may be, yer-I am trying!  I’m doing my very, very best.  I think.  How-that’s my big question right now, I guess. .. how to know when my best is my best.  I’ve found a couple of things that have helped: “Preach My Gospel” p. 10-11, Lorenzo Snow Chapter 6 I think…) and Brad Wilcox’s “His Grace is Sufficient.”  Good reads!  Definitely, that is one of my greatest frustrations. 

Well, sorry to end like that, but I’m out of time.  I love you all so much.  I have the greatest family. J

Love, Sister Rachael Fuller

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


My dear, wonderful family!
Oh boy, is it good to hear from you. This week was a rollar coaster! But lots of really, really high points. We just were able to meet a lot more people, and see a little more progress! We soared past our weekly goals, so that felt really good. We have a few investigators and families who are really wanting to learn more, and it makes me so happy! We've also formed some meaningful relationships with ward members, and that's awesome. Sorry, I think I wasted time trying to send pictures. Also, sometimes I just sit at the computer and my mind goes blank. Really, this is the saddest email ever, but the computer's telling me I only have a few minutes, and the nice man who gives us extra time isn't here today. Yikes! I guess I need to go, they're yelling at us. Aaaah.
Well, I hope by now you've heard of the "Work of Salvation" broadcast!! It's supposed to be HUGE and super important--so make sure you do everything you can to be there! (By which I mean be at your stake center to watch it!) Sister Cook and I are so excited. I can't believe it's already this Sunday!
I love you so very, very much and I'll make sure I do a handwritten letter home.
I just gave all of you a HUGE hug from Kansas, okay? :)
Sister Fuller
The turtle we saved!
The Tulsa Zone! (I'm not sitting by Sister Cook for some reason...)
The bathroom...
The kitchen 
Starting the tour of our apartment--walking through the front door/bedroom/living room/ironing room

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Sunflower State

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to all of you who emailed me this past week or so--it means so much to me to have you all in my life, and know that there are people at home (or wherever you may be!) that support and care about me. Really, each of your messages, no matter how short, make a difference. Thank you for remembering me!
On that note, I caught myself trying to think of something I might need, just so I'd have another excuse to see Mom's handwriting again. Then I realized that was ridiculous! But handwritten letters mean a I know all of you are so, so busy, but every once in a while if you get the chance, know that handwritten things mean a lot! But I also love that email allows me to hear from you more frequently, and that we can write more to each other. So whatever ends up working best for you, I will love and appreciate it!
To start, I feel the need to clear a few things up--like what it means to "open an area". I realized when I read Sterling's letter that I didn't do a very good job of explaining it before! But it doesn't mean that missionaries have never been in this area, just that this "area" hasn't existed--missionaries haven't been specifically sent to Coffeyville. The Independence area has covered Coffeyville (and still's a little weird, and I still don't understand it well enough to explain it) forever, and so missionaries have been in Coffeyville. They just haven't lived here! Does that kind of make sense? Also, Sister Cook and I found out that someone had been exageratting to us when they told us there were 800 people in the ward, and since we didn't know anything, we believed them. Whoops? But there's a little over 400. I think. Either way, not a lot of people that actually come!
This week, one of the things that I was able to appreciate more and more was the sacredness of a gospel centered home. The Bible Dictionary teaches us that the home is next to the temple in sacredness, and it's incredible to feel how real that is! When a home is centered around Christ and His teachings, the Spirit is there, and the home becomes a refuge from the world--a literal heaven on earth. And it holds such a sense of relief and peace to sit in one of these homes and feel love encircling you, comforting you. It really is like sitting in the temple, and I am so grateful to have grown up in one of these places. How much I've learned from that! I've been studying from "Daughters In My Kingdom" a little this week, and had a neat experience of what I learned from the "Guardians of the Hearth" chapter with some of the families we've visited. My favorite part is a quote by Julie B. Beck. She says,
"In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a theology of the family based on the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonment. The Creation of the earth provided a place where families could live. The Fall provided a way for the family to grow. And the Atonement allows for the family to be sealed together eternally."
I love that the Plan of Salvation--the great plan that Heavenly Father has made to help us to be able to live with Him again--is completely centered around families. That His work and His glory is to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man", but that we get there together, as families. What a blessing our families are to us! I am so grateful for mine, and the knowlege I have that through living the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can move forward together with the hope that because of our Savior, we can live together forever.
Another lessons I lived this week is "teaching people, not lessons"--something that's drilled in your heads every day in the MTC, but takes on a different meaning in the field! How true it is! One of our investigators knows the Bible backwards and forwards (and upside down), and has been meeting off and on with the missionaries for 6 years. And this woman makes it almost impossible to plan a lesson! Instead, we think of what her questions may be, and come prepared to answer them as we teach the lesson. Boy oh boy, have we had incredible experiences with her. On Thrusday, we were going over the plan of salvation again, and she brought up baptisms for the dead. "I just feel like the only thing that talks about it is your scripture, not in the Bible." So I said, now wait. What about 1 Corinthians 15? And she said, what's that? :) Silly Mary. I explained the context of verse 29, and then we read it together. Then she read it again. And then she read the whole chapter. And then again. And then she looked up at us and quietly said, "Well, I guess I have some pondering to do tonight." And suddenly, the Spirit was just there, so strong. It was like you're standing under one of those buckets at a water park, and all of a sudden it's pouring all of the water that was just waiting to spill aaaalll over your head! It was so neat! We finished that lesson, and felt like we were walking on treetops together--I could have sang for days! It was so special.
We visited a couple on Saturday where the husband isn't a member, and the wife is dying of terminal cancer. Our ward mission leader and his wife know them pretty well, and drove us out to meet them. It was heart breaking to see. This poor woman only has weeks left, and her cancer has spread up to her brain. It affects her ability to talk and think, so she'll start a sentence and then forget what she was saying, and just abruptly stop. She was so emotional, and cried as she hugged Sister Dimond, saying, "I didn't think it would be like this." It was enough to break my heart. And the husband was such a good man, and is just serving her the best he can, and making all of us life in the mean time. But you could tell that they were just holding on, and it was hard to see. We were able to read part of a conference talk with them, and talk about the enabling and healing power of the Atonement. We are promised that through the Atonment of Jeus Christ, all that is unfair about this life will be made right. We can receive the strength to carry on long after we think we can't. And as we trust in the Lord, we will be blessed.
I am so grateful for the Savior in my own life. We were teaching the Sunday school class at Church called Gospel Principles, and were talking about agency, or the ability to chose between good and evil. At some point during the beginning, we used the example of a kite, where while it may seem as though the string keeps the kite from soaring to greater hights, its function is to hold it up, to keep it from crashing down. In a similar way, being obedient to what God asks of us in no way limits our potential, but helps us stay up, reaching greater heights than we could alone. The rest of the class went great, with a lot of really good input from everyone there. Towards the end, one of the men provided an incredible example of how bad things happen to good people, and how even when we are obedient, it doesn't mean we won't have trials. He's had a hard time lately, and is actually homeless right now. He said how he didn't think he'd done anything wrong, but he must have to be in the situation he is now. It was such joy to testify to him that though trials come to all of us, we can turn to our Savior and grown stronger! I was able to bring it back to the example of the kite--how even with the string, sometimes the kite will dive bomb, and get stuck in a tree. Where did that come from, right? But if we, as that kite, are still tied to that string that represents our obendience, then that means there's someone at the other end. The very same one who would leave the ninety nine to search for the one is connected to us, acting as our anchor and our hope for rescue. The person flying the kite would retrieve it from whatever tree it ended up in, mend its broken parts, and send it up again. The Savior is there for us, and will help us when these trials come. In a talk Elder Scott gave last Conference, he said,
"When you feel that there is only a thin thread of hope, it is really not a thread but a massive connecting link, like a life preserver to strengthen and lift you. It will provide comfort so you can cease to fear. Strive to live worthily and place your trust in the Lord....I bear testimony that living an obedient life, firmly rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ, provides the greatest assurance for peace and refuge in our homes. There will still be plenty of challenges of heartaches, but even in the midst of turmoil, we can enjoy inner peace and profound happiness."
How amazing is the knowlege that we have, because of the restoration of the gospel? I am so grateful to be a missionary now, to be gaining a deeper testimony of these things every day!
I had a couple other stories I wanted to share, but I guess they'll have to wait for a handwritten letter. Hopefully I'll have time later today for that. I love you all so very much, and genuinely am grateful for your impacts in my life. Karalee, I think of you all the time. I hope you're doing great! I'm sure your busy, with your new jobs and all! Are all your new swim kids as cute as the ones you used to teach swim lessons to? "My favorite's broccoli!!" Hahaha. Anyway, know I pray for you. Love you so much,
Sister Fuller
Our district rock...we all signed it and hid it. Haha :)

Sister Gardner and I

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Rainbows and Turtles

Minha querida familia!
Oh, I love you all so much! Mom, thank you for sharing all about youth conference with me! It sounds like you all had some special and sacred experiences. I loved reading that, even though it made me cry--thanks for that! :) My favorite part was when Brother Allen was able to say things that met specific needs of the youth...what an amazing gift, to have your words guided by the Spirit! That's the thing I'm striving for the most, I think. To be able to follow the Spirit in all that I do and say, and know that I have its companionship with me. Devin and Sterling, if you get the chance to sit down and write a letter, I'd love to hear what you learned while you were there!
So, first full week in Coffeyville! We are working hard, that's for sure. Sometimes it feels like all of our plans just fall apart, but then something will happen that'll make it all worth it! The thing we're working on the most is finding people to teach, and luckily we have a great ward to help us with that! Our goal for the coming weeks is to focus on member referrals, and getting members to reach out to their friends. Really, I am so grateful for the ward we're in. They are so supportive of missionaries, and they are so kind! Which is good, because we're going to need a lot of help, even with getting places! Our mission is limited to 1100 miles each month, and in just the week that we've been here to count for May, we used over 900. It's a big area!
Last Tuesday, we were contacting someone the missionaries had taught a couple of years ago and asked for referrals as we were leaving. He kind of shrugged and pointed to a house across the street and said, "I don't think they speak much English, but you could try talking to them." Okay--this is a probably a good point to mention that although I am so happy to be here, I really love speaking Portuguese and miss it like CRAZY. (Funny, because I've only studied it for 6 weeks!) So I turned to Sister Cook and said, "Do you want to go pretend we can speak Spanish?" Now, her last companion was straight from Mexico, so she's learned a little bit of Spanish as she taught Sister Gonzales English. And I took Spanish in High School, but Portuguese kind of pushed all my Spanish knowledge out of my head! So we were in no way qualified to try to talk to them. But we did :) And for some reason, they listened! We started speaking to the father, and he called out his 11 year old daughter to translate. I learned that I must still remember Spanish, because I could understand them, but if tried speaking Portuguese, they only got bits of it. Sad. But we had a short lesson with them, and set a time to come back. So yesterday, we brought a member with us who speaks Spanish, and we had the best lesson with them! Well, whatever "best" means. The Spirit was present, he asked questions, and they have the desire to learn more. I thought it was awesome! Otimo! (I really need to learn to do accents on the computer) And I even remembered Spanish the more we talked with them! I have to speak really slowly to try to make sure I didn't say a de pronounced "gi" or coisas instead of cosas...things like that. But we can communicate with each other! They've never heard of the Book of Mormon before, so he didn't really get it at first, but they have a Spanish copy our Elders dug up for us, and hopefully they'll read a little bit of it before we meet with them next. And the daughter said the closing prayer for us--SO GOOD! Ah! I just love this family! That's the biggest miracle so far, I think. I really, really, really hope they keep wanting to learn more and develop the faith they need to get baptized.
We haven't had quite as good of luck with our investigator that has a baptism date--we visited her several times this week, and although she wasn't keeping any of her other commitments, she kept talking about how excited she was to come to church. She's the one in a wheelchair, and we had to arrange a special ride for her. But when Sunday morning rolled around, she was still asleep, and said she didn't want to go. But we're going to bring a member to visit her tonight, and we're hoping that if she has a friend at church she'll have more incentive to go.
Other than those two, we've visited a lot of less active, part member, and recent convert families. Or some mix of the three, actually. We've been singing a makes me so happy! But we've decided that singing a hymn invites the Spirit and softens people's hearts, and then we share a scripture or something from our studies with them. I LOVE IT! Sadly, my hymnbook is in Portuguese, so it doesn't do me a lot of good except during language study! Mom, could you send me one of the little ones I have in my room? I think there should be three to chose from!
The weather's made things CRAZY this week--lots and lots of rain (which makes it really fun to stand outside and back out the car, let me tell you! haha) and lots of tornado warnings. But rain and hail and wind seems to be the worst of it, so we've been lucky. There was one night where we were running home with the sirens blaring and hail pelting us, the wind blowing the rain so much that we could barely see where we were going...and I felt like I was in a movie. We just started laughing at the absurdity of it! Don't worry Mom, we were only a couple of blocks from our apartment building, and then we hid in the basement. I am safe, and I am taking necessary precautions!
The other really cool storm moment was on Thrusday, when we had Zone Conference. As I mentioned before, we share a ward with two Elders. It's actually pretty fun, it's like a missionary team! Anyway, a Sister from the ward (who is AWESOME by the way!) offered to drive us down to Tulsa, aaaaand suprise! The weather was crazy. So she kind of white knuckled it all the way down, she worked all day while we were at Conference, and then she took us out to dinner at the Cheesecake factory--such a huge treat! We decided to count it as my birthday dinner, because I'm pretty sure that beats Cheerios! But when we were leaving, there was another tornado watch, and the weather was awful. We went to a gas station to fill up, and since everything was flooded we couldn't even get gas! All of the roads were flooding, and it was raining really hard. So we decided to say a prayer before we headed out--and there in the middle of nowhere, that's what we did. It was simple, it was quick, and it was powerful. And then as she pulled out, I kid you not, the rain stopped. As we pulled on the highway, the sun came out! At 7:00 at night! And the clouds parted, and there was a RAINBOW. It was an instant answer to prayer, and it was so miraculous! Even writing it, it doesn't seem real. But that's what happened! We drove safely home without any more problems.
Zone Conference was amazing in and of itself. President Shumway talked about the scattering and gathering of Israel, and the hastening. So very, very neat! I've been studying the Abrahamic Covenant all week, and I can't belive all I've learned! I can't believe how much the Book of Mormon talks about the Abrahamic Covenant, and that I didn't really notice it before! I gain a stronger testimony of the Book of Mormon and of the divinity of this latter-day work every day. I know that the Lord has a plan for each of us, and I know that I hold a responsibility to share that knowlege with others. I memorized "My Mission Comission" this week so that I'd be able to say it with everyone at Zone Conference, and I'm so glad I did. It was such a sacred experience to stand and say that in a group of missionaries with all of the energy of our hearts. We also did a ton of role plays, which is good. It gives me the chance to learn from other missionaries, and see how they teach! And the Shumways are just the greateset. I learn so much from them!
I was about to close, and then I looked up at what I put in the subject line--so I better talk about turtles! First off. What is going on with the turtles in Kansas?! Any time we drive somewhere, there's a million turtles crossing the road! And apparently, they're the most common road kill. Do you know how sad it is to see a smushed turtle? SAD. VERY SAD. So we saw a big one crossing the road, and Sister Cook said, "We can't let that one die too!!" and we pulled over. We got out of the car and stood next to where the turtle was crossing, but since several cars were coming, we just waited by the side. The cars drove around it (it was a BIG turtle), and we almost went out to grab it when we saw one more truck coming over the hill, and decided to wait. But this truck sped up, and ran right over the turtle! And it made the most horrible sound, and exploded EVERYWHERE! Now, usually the turtle's shell just breaks and they're a little smushed. But since this one was so big and he hit it so fast...oh my goodness. I think this was worse than the deer incident. Good thing I think I can successfully swear off eating turtles, huh? Poor turtle. It was bad.
And on that cheery note, I'm going to say goodbye until next week! I love you all so much, and I'm so grateful for you. I don't think you could have possibly made my birthday any better! Family, the Sanders, and the Fehrs, thank you for the birthday banner! So cute! And Mom, Dad, and Devin and Sterling, thank you for the package. It was perfect! And MOM! This shirt?! I don't think I could have even imagined anything better! It's the perfect material, and the floral print matches everything! You can do anything, I swear! Grandma and Papa, thank you so, so much for your package and birthday notes. Again, I can't imagine anything more perfect! And thank you everyone else for the emails and birthday wishes. Know I pray for you, every day!
Com muito amor,
Sister Fuller

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