Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Farewell to Michigan

Saying goodbye

April 28, 2014

Well I am heading to Brazil tomorrow!  I really cannot believe it is actually happening.  President Hess called last Thursday (which happened to be my one-year mark on my mission--cool coincidence, huh?) and let me know I will be leaving on Tuesday.  We are flying from Lansing to Detroit and then from Detroit all the way down to Brazil with no stops.  Wish me luck!

It's been a crazy weekend getting everything ready and seeing everyone before I leave.  I am really excited but also so sad.  I have come to love Michigan and Michiganders with all my heart so it has been really an emotional time.  I will probably sound dramatic this whole e-mail but oh well...

I keep reading and rereading Mosiah 18:30 because it is EXACTLY how I feel right now:
“And now it came to pass that all this was done in Mormon, yea, by the waters of Mormon, in the forest that was near the waters of Mormon; yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever.”

However, whenever I read it I replace Michigan for Mormon...The place of Michigan, the waters of Michigan, the forest of Michigan, how beautiful are they to me who there came to the knowledge of my Redeemer.  In my journal this week I wrote: 

"It has been wonderful to see the people here that I love and reflect on how much they have changed me on my mission.  I feel like I am leaving a different person than I came.  I have experienced hardships and trials here, but I have also experienced miracles.  I am more sensitive to the piercing feelings of the Holy Ghost.  My testimony has been hurt at times, but has been nursed back by the word of God and become stronger than ever before.  I have made friendships that will last for a lifetime and for an eternity.  It's heartwrenching to feel like I may never see these people again.  I love them so much because they have aided me on my journey to conversion.  Michigan has become sacred ground to me because it was here that I experienced the reality of the atonement and felt its power in my life.  I know my Savior is there and He loves me.  I know I was allowed to be here for a divine and specific purpose."
Next e-mail will be from the MTC in Brazil!  It's like I am starting a whole new mission.  I am really nervous but Elder Gardner and Bruce gave me a blessing last night that brought so much peace to my heart and mind.  I won't be a Michiganary for too much longer, but I know it's time to embark on this grand new adventure!

Sister Dixon

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Week of Miracles!

Baptism of Dymin and Chris

April 21, 2014

Happy Monday everyone!!  

We had such an amazing week . . . like crazy good.  Dymin's baptism happened on Saturday and then we also found out on Thursday another investigator named Chris wanted to be baptized that day too!  He has been to church for a couple of months now and has been taught everything so he was all ready to go.  It was a crazy week getting them both ready for baptism and we also went on exchanges twice this week but it all went really well!

Chris started investigating the church last November.  He read parts of the Book of Mormon skeptically and would halfheartedly come to church.  He came a few times but then decided he wanted to stay with his other Chinese church in Lansing.  However, we kept meeting with him once in a while and he would come to the Gardner's institute class every week.  Once at institute someone talked about the levels of obedience and mentioned how we can obey because of fear, duty, or LOVE (highest level).  Chris realized he was not obeying out of love and he decided to really turn his will over to God. From there, he started reading the Book of Mormon regularly and coming to church again and he really has experienced a mighty change of heart.  It was so beautiful to witness his conversion process.  He said that whenever he thinks of Christ, he wants to cry because of the gratitude he has and that baptism felt so right.  What beautiful things happen to our hearts and our natures when we allow the Book of Mormon and the church to change us!

Dymin was really excited for her baptism.  She fasted the day before to make sure she would be spiritually prepared and invited her whole family to come!  We had to start the baptism but her family still wasn't there so she was really nervous and anxious.  We did all of the talks and musical numbers first to allow time for her family but they still weren't there and I just felt so bad!  The last song before the ordinance I saw out of the corner of my eye that Dymin was bowing her head and praying.  Right as the song ended and she was walking to the font, her family walked in!!! Dymin turned around to us and said "I was just praying for that! Oh my goodness!!"  She was so so so happy.  Her family wants to learn more about the gospel too so it is really cool to see how her decisions influence generations!

We also had interviews this week with President Hess.  After last Monday, I had a really strong feeling I was leaving so I started crying at the interview.  He ended up telling me I got my visa so I will be leaving after this transfer--CRAZY!  I still can't believe it. I don't know the exact day I am leaving yet but it really has made for a wild week.  Elder Gardner told me it was an absolute miracle my visa came through.  Usually it takes 5 weeks from the time it reaches the consulate but mine took 7 DAYS.  I am really sad to leave Michigan and sometimes I question if this is the right thing for me to do, but that was a sign to me Heavenly Father really wants me in Brazil right now. So I'll have faith! I haven't told very many people yet because I really want to be super focused for my last few days here.  It will be an emotional roller coaster for sure.                                                                                                           

Easter was incredible--probably the best Easter I have ever had in my life.  It's been really crazy knowing that I am leaving and that my time here will end, so it was reassuring to direct my thoughts to Christ and know that He knows everything I am feeling and that endings don't really have to be endings because of the resurrection. Because of the reality of the resurrection, all of the promises Heavenly Father has given us will come to pass.  It was one of the most spiritual church meetings I have ever been to and I am so grateful for my Savior.

It was also crazy because a year ago I was giving my goodbye talk in Highlands Ranch and I remember we sang "God Be with You Till We Meet Again."  Bishop Solomon asked me if I would go up and bear my testimony and then we ended up singing that same hymn for the closing song!  My thoughts were directed to a year ago and what an absolutely wonderful year it has been.  Last time I was preparing to leave for my mission and this year I am preparing to leave the people I love again.  It is so comforting to know God will be with me, no matter what happens!  After church we had a delicious Mexican Easter dinner provided by one of the members named Christina.  It was truly a wonderful day!

On a funnier note . . . one of our members named Zhang is absolutely hilarious and he has a REALLY HARD time waking up for church.  He hasn't been for a long time so we met with him and committed him to come Sunday.  He wasn't there, so we were really bummed.  We dropped by after church and he started apologizing profusely. He told us he woke up on time for church and decided he should shave before he left. He shaved his beard but then noticed his fingers were "fuzzy" so decided to shave all of his fingers and his hands . . . he ended up cutting himself so much and he said by the time he got the blood all cleaned up sacrament meeting was already over.  Moral of the story = Leave your hands fuzzy for church...Shave it for later.


Sister Dixon

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring has sprung...

April 14, 2014

...as evidenced by the CRAZY parties happening around campus right now.  People are trying to take advantage of the warmer weather by killing off their brain cells before finals week--good thought, eh?  My testimony of the word of wisdom has never been so strong.  It's one of the perks of serving on a college campus!  

We had a WONDERFUL week here.  I know I say that every week, but it's true.  I am just amazed at how much Heavenly Father helps us in this work.  I don't have too many updates, but here are the major ones:
--Dymin is getting baptized this Saturday now!  So dad, we will have a baptism on your birthday which is pretty cool!  We are really excited for her.  She was such a miracle to find and has been progressing so well ever since.  This last week we taught about tithing and fasting and she is so excited to give her all to Heavenly Father.  She kind of zoned out when we were talking about fasting and she thought the whole lesson that we fast every day, not once a month.  So at the end of the lesson when we committed her to live the law of the fast she was like "Ok!  And let me make sure I have this straight.  I can only eat dinner every day, right?" We definitely clarified the law of the fast BUT it was cool to see she was even willing to starve herself for Heavenly Father!  The bummer is she is going home for the summer (in only a few weeks).   That is happening with a ton of people in the ward so we are working hard to make sure they will have lots of support wherever they end up.  But we are still SO excited for her!                                              
--Thank you for all your prayers for Alysha!  Last Monday she still hadn't contacted us but we went home that night and tried texting her again.  She ended up texting us back and saying her phone was broken all last week and when she got it fixed, she didn't have our number anymore!  She is willing to meet again as well. Lessons learned = persistence and the power of prayer!  If we didn't try again then we probably wouldn’t be in contact with her again!
--Last time I served at MSU, we taught an investigator named Steven.  You might remember him from my old letters.  He stopped investigating a couple weeks after I got transferred last time but then he called a few weeks ago randomly and said he wanted to meet again.  It's so cool I am here again and able to teach him; he is progressing so well so we are really excited for him!  Another lesson of persistence!  I know Heavenly Father is so patient with us so we should be patient with others as well.

Many other miracles are happening.  It seems like my visa may be arriving soon which is really crazy to me. I have been trying to work my hardest while I still have time here!  I have to make each and every day count. I know there's still a possibility of me staying and I don't ever really know what is going to happen, but the other night when I was saying my prayers I poured my heart out in gratitude for all the people I have met here and the experiences I have gained.  The reality I might only have 3 weeks left in Michigan and I might have to say goodbye to all of these people soon hit me pretty hard and I started bawling.  I LOVE the people here so much.  Heavenly Father has been too good to me!

At zone training this week we talked about how to help our investigators to progress.  I pondered about progression for a long time and realized how truly exciting it is to progress.  I thought back to my first day in the mission field and how awkward and nervous I felt and pictured how it would feel to be that same missionary for every day of my mission--terrible.  To me, one of the biggest miracles of the atonement is the ability it gives us to change!  I am so so so grateful that we don’t have to be the same people we were yesterday and that the atonement covers all of the imperfections and mistakes we have.  I invite you all to watch this video and ponder the opportunities Christ has given you and what you will do to make it up to Him!  Happy Easter everyone :) 


Sister Dixon

Monday, April 14, 2014

Small and Simple Things

Sisters Rogers and Dixon on exchanges

April 7, 2014

Hello family!!!

Wow I can't believe it's Monday again.  The weeks are seriously flying by scary fast.  But we had such a good week and I feel so blessed today.  I absolutely LOVED conference as I am sure everyone else did as well.  How lucky we are to have a prophet and apostles on the earth today who lead and guide us.  One talk that stuck out to me in particular was President Uchtdorf's talk about gratitude.  It's been on my mind lately and it fits in perfectly with what I wanted to write about this week.  Sister Hyde and I have been focusing on the ability to recognize the tender mercies of the Lord.  We have been doing everything we can to purify ourselves of any disobedience and unrighteousness in order to increase our spiritual sensitivity...and it's been truly miraculous.  We have experienced small and simple miracles daily that have made this week special...sacred, even.

My mind kept reflecting on Alma 37:6-7
Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.

It really has been a week of experiencing the small and simple means the Lord uses to bring to pass salvation.  This week, more than ever, I have noticed how Heavenly Father has a hand in every aspect of this work.  When we really, truly, trust and love Him, faith produces the most beautiful results.

Here are some of the small and simple things we saw this week:
--We experienced a miracle with an investigator named Chris.  Sister Richardson and Sister Smith started teaching Chris last November or so.  He started progressing really well but then decided he didn't want to come to church anymore so he could go to his old church again.  Last transfer he starting coming to our church regularly again and we could see his heart softening.  We met with him Monday night and we asked him how he is feeling about everything. He told us when he started coming to church, he noticed how everyone was so emotional when they would talk about Christ and he thought it was strange. He has been reading the Book of Mormon lately, though, and he said "Now I feel what they feel.  Now I get what it's all about.  When I think about Christ and what he did for me, I want to cry as well."  The Spirit was so strong and I felt exactly what he feels and what countless others feel.  Christ truly is our Savior.  We committed Chris to pray about a baptism date and see what answers he received during conference.  It was amazing!
--Dymin is doing really well, too.  We met with her on Tuesday and brought a member named Drew with us. She mentioned she was feeling sick and stressed out about a few things and Drew offered to give her a blessing after the lesson.  She accepted but Sister Hyde and I had to leave because of curfew so we were really curious how it went.  Drew called us after and said Dymin looked like she was creeped out so we were REALLY nervous...but sometimes Dymin can be hard to read.  We texted her and asked how she felt...she said she felt the "tinglies" the whole entire time and that it went really well!  It was amazing to see how receptive she is to the Spirit.  We will have to push her date back because she hasn't been to sacrament consistently but she is still doing so well.
--Alysha won't answer our texts or calls but we continue to pray for her and I can feel this isn't the end.  I know some small and simple things will happen to help her get back on track.
--We had a lesson scheduled with a girl who was a referral from an investigator and we were super excited about it!!  We waited for her and she was like 15 minutes late...we called and texted but she didn't answer so that was a bummer.  We decided to go out finding and prayed we would be able to find people who would progress towards baptism.  We went PCing on campus and there was a guy crossing the street who we felt like we should talk to.  If we would have kept walking, though, we would have intersected him in the middle of the crosswalk (not the safest spot to discuss the gospel).  So, I did what any desperate sister missionary would do and pretended to be fixing my shoe for a few moments until he was close enough to approach.  We started talking to him about his relationship with Christ and the first words out of his mouth were "I want to be baptized but I just don't feel prepared for it."  UNREAL.  We explained how we prepare people for baptism and we are meeting with him tonight!!! I can't wait!!!
--A lesson fell through another day and we went out PCing as a back-up plan. We ran into a guy and started talking to him and he identified himself as a less-active in the ward who we have been looking for my whole entire time at MSU!  I was amazed at how it all worked out.  His name is Robin and we were able to meet with him and it was so cool to see how it was all directed.  We are hoping to re-activate him and help him keep his covenants.
--I was on exchanges with Sister Hunt in the MSU3 area and a similar thing happened.  We were riding the bus to a certain street but we were talking to someone and missed our stop.  However, at the next stop, a guy got on the bus who looked really familiar.  I waved to him and he came over and sat by me.  Sure enough, he is another less-active in the ward who we have been looking for!  The last time we saw him was at Bruce's baptism and he had really long hair but it's short now so I didn't recognize him fully.  He has a new number though so we got it and I was just so grateful we didn't get off the bus when we thought we should have!

So many other awesome things happened.  I truly get to participate in miracles EVERY day.  I know for a FACT this church is true.  If it wasn't, there wouldn't be so much opposition but there also wouldn't be any of these miracles that prove Heavenly Father is so involved in His work.  There is so much I still don't understand but each day I gain even more of a testimony that this is God's true and living church.

I love you all and have a great week!

Sister Dixon

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Before broadcast--Sister Hyde is to her right

March 31, 2014

Hey family!

Thank you all for writing.  I would like to announce I am wearing ZERO pairs of tights right now.  I seriously can't remember the last time that happened...but it should be in the 50s and 60s these next few weeks! Spring is coming and it is such a blessing!  I am grateful for the winter, though.  It really taught me the value of hard work.

Well we had a great week here at MSU.  I picked up my new companion Tuesday night after spending a day at the mission office with Sister Gardner as my companion.  It was an adventure-filled day!  Sister Gardner and I taught one of our investigators, mailed out nametags to missionaries, and prepared packets for the new missionaries.  I even got to do my personal studies in President Hess's office!  I was so excited to have Sister Hyde come.  She is WONDERFUL.  We had a crazy busy week and we were always on the go, so it's been a whirlwind, but we feel so blessed.  Sister Hyde is just what I needed right now.  She is full of charity and excitement for the work--it's just one more testimony to me transfer calls are SO inspired!  

Our investigators are doing really great right now.  Dymin is still wonderful and progressing well.  She wasn't able to come to church this past Sunday because her ride accidentally slept in...let me tell you 9 o'clock church is a TRIAL for a student ward!  Alysha had a rough week.  Her sister came into town and anti-ed her pretty badly.  If you all could keep her in your prayers that would be great!  She knows it's true, she is just having a hard time deciding to follow the Lord's way instead of what is easy.  We need a miracle with her!! We also have an adorable investigator named Mia.  She is Chinese and absolutely loves reading the Book of Mormon in Chinese.  We taught her the POS last lesson and at the end she got really quiet and said "Wow. God's plan is perfect."  Isn't it though?  I am saddened it took a mission for me to realize how perfect and wonderful the gospel truly is, but also SO grateful I had this opportunity to deepen and strengthen my own testimony.  The Book of Mormon and the restored gospel are spectacular.

Sister Hyde and I got to watch the broadcast at the institute building.  We had a ward activity right before where the elders quorum fed us and the other RS sisters dinner and we were treated like royalty!! They gave us crowns and little chocolates and then took our orders and brought out the dinners for us.  We had an amazing time and some of our recent converts were able to come and they absolutely loved it.  Ajee said she was "leaking" at the end of the broadcast--she always says that when she cries haha:)  Also, she got called to be a ward missionary so we are really excited for her!  When she found out, she asked us if she would have to be deported somewhere.  She thought she would be sent to Egypt or something...we assured her she wouldn't have to but it was still cool to see she was willing!  She loves the gospel!

Something that really stuck out to me about the broadcast was how our spiritual strength and power lessens when we compare ourselves to others.  So often I just think pride happens when we think we are better than others, but it also takes a form when we wish we could be like someone else.  I love that God celebrates individuality and wants us to develop what we have--not to be covetous of what we don't.  I have been reading about Amalickiah and Moroni in the book of Alma this week and I realized Amalickiah struggled with comparison.  He always wanted MORE.  More power, more prestige, more influence, more wealth, more land, etc.  On the other hand, Moroni was happy with what he had and chose to strengthen and fortify what he was blessed with.  It was then, and only then, that he was blessed with more land in return for his diligence and patience. I really was thinking about this during the broadcast.  Should we spend our time trying to be something we are not, or should we spend our time strengthening the God-given attributes we have, with faith we will develop more?  I know when we internalize our divine nature with humility and patience our lives will become so much more rich and meaningful.

Elder Gardner gave us a Boyd K. Packer quote that reminded me of this:  "Some are tested by poor health, some by a body that is deformed or homely.  Others are tested by handsome and healthy bodies; some by the passion of youth; others by the erosions of age.  Some suffer disappointment in marriage, family problems; others live in poverty and obscurity.  Some (perhaps his is the hardest test) find ease and luxury. All are part of the test, and there is more equality in this testing than sometimes we suspect."
Anyway, just know you should all love the lives you live, because every person's circumstances are the best for them!  What a blessing that reassurance can bring.  


Sister Dixon