Saturday, May 20, 2017

Blessings of Service May 15th 2017

It's taken me four months about, but I'm finally realizing why I'm on a mission.
Of course, I knew I needed to be on one, if only because a spiritual experience--and many experiences after--confirmed it to me in my heart. But the why of it till now was simply because Heavenly Father apparently wanted me to.
There are lots of good reasons to go on a mission--to serve, to share my testimony, to get out of my comfort zone, to improve someone's life even--but among the many good, is the best reason: because I love my Savior Jesus Christ.
The more I study the scriptures, the more I realize that He was called to serve a mission himself. He spent the last three years of his life on earth entirely devoted to teaching, serving, and most importantly, loving others. He showed that love ultimately when he suffered for our sins and sorrows, and died for us. Because of what he did for me, I have the opportunity to improve myself every day and shake off my past self. And what's the best way to improve?
Well, what he's asked us to do: Follow him! For me, one way to do that was by going on a mission. In general, though, we all have opportunities to become more like our Savior because he already paid the price for our mistakes! This is the good news I get to share with Crystal City, and the more I do the more I feel love for each individual I encounter here.
We've been helping an elder woman named Janice with her overgrown yard the past two weeks. I got poison ivy from somewhere in her decorative grass! But it was worth it. She is taking care of her husband who has dementia--they've been married almost 61 years. So needless to say she has many stories and life insights. We brought her cookies for Mother's Day this weekend and she told us as we left, "I love you girls!" It was easy for me to reply, wholeheartedly, "I love you too!" We are going to share a lesson with her this week, and I'm so thankful to know her.
I'm so thankful to be serving my Savior and my brothers and sisters here, I love them all and I love you all!
Sister Fluegel
#1 My bumpy arms
#2 We made oatmeal soap! Not sure it did much, but it was fun!
#3&4 I kept scratching in my sleep, so we had to get creative
#5 At the zoo, Sister Mainord had never been before!

The Rains Came Down and the Floods Came UP May 8th 2017

Hello to you all! I am alive and well!

No thanks to Missouri. This place is crazy.

Crystal City and the surrounding area is right along the Mississippi in most parts, with lots of rivers and outshoots connecting to it. So after the storms from the week before, the water had really nowhere to go but...everywhere.

Essentially starting Wednesday at midnight, the highway connecting us to the rest of the mission would be closed, because one of it's bridges was about to overflow at the Meramec River. So we wouldn't make it to Zone Conference that morning. We Three figured okay, guess we can't go to Zone conference, oh well, we'll just stay in our area! We've got a Walmart, what else do ya need?

Not so. We got notice from our leaders Tuesday night to leave our area as soon as possible and stay in Waterloo, IL so we could go to Zone conference. What about getting back to our area, right? NO getting back, not until the flood went down. Of which time we hadn't a clue--so we grabbed a few extra pairs of clothing, the bare essentials for toiletries, and a few packages of ramen!

The Waterloo sisters were *so* wonderful and hospitable to We Three, even if their tiny apartment wasn't so much, haha. It got pretty freezing, and much worse, we had to cancel a lot of appointments with people we're teaching. But Zone Conference was awesome, and on Thursday we decided to call every single person with a phone number in our records! And set a lot of appointments for this coming week! I think we actually talked to a lot more people in our area than we would have otherwise. "The Lord works in mysterious ways," and this week was a prime example of that.

Eventually we returned home. We searched for some opportunities to do community service in our flooded area, and we're still going around trying to offer help. One older woman visited with us after we helped her and her husband with their backyard, and when we explained we were from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints she asked about the St. Louis Temple and if we'd ever been. We talked, and she told us how she never forgot going to the Open House for the public, now twenty years ago (the year I was born!), because of the special feeling the building seemed to have inside.

I can testify to you all that temples are special, not just because of how beautifully they are built, but because of the beautiful things that happen inside of them. We make promises to God, binding ourselves to him. We make promises to our spouse, binding ourselves to each other and to our families forever. All this, and all that we do to continue returning to the temple, is done so that one day after this life ends we will be united in heaven with Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and our families, never to part.

There is nothing more beautiful than that.

I love you all so!
Sister Fluegel

Picture 1: We Three!
Picture 2: A road we usually use a lot...
Picture 3: Driving to Illinois!
Picture 4: Us with the lovely Waterloo sisters!! They were too cool :)
Picture 5: May the 4th be with you!
Picture 6: The Waterloo sleeping situation
Picture 7:  Floods? Shmuds! Let's tract down this street!
Picture 8: Cookie bars, the new missionary tactic

Wonderful Accidents May 1st 2017

I will get to a spiritual thought, I'm sure, but FIRST you all have to hear this hilarious story:
So Amanda and Brady--Sister Bustillos and I have switched between calling them Bramanda and Brandy--were sweet enough to offer us a ride for transfers. We dropped off Sister Bustillos and then picked up the lovely Sister Rilling, who is sweet, laid-back, and likes to talk in a British accent!
BUT what I didn't know about her until Bramanda pulled away is that she doesn't have a driver's license! And neither do I!
We were stranded.
So of course we called our superiors, because obviously they know what to do, right? Wrong! They called THEIR superiors, who called the Mission President. Meanwhile Sister Rilling and I are sitting in our apartment not sure whether to unpack her stuff or not!
Then we get news: No, Sister Rilling isn't leaving, but we both are moving out of Arnold and going down to the apartment where the Crystal City elders used to live, and we needed to pick up Sister Mainord (AKA the chauffeur of the companionship) in two hours!
So I had two hours to pack up everything, find a ride to go get Sister Mainord, and help take us down to Crystal City!
Luckily Amanda and Brady were there to the rescue once more, and all three of us made it to our new apartment right before a dinner appointment, haha.
 President Bateman called us the next day, and it was so cool to hear his side of the story. He told us how the transfer plan seemed to be missing a piece to him, all the way up until the day of transfers, until he called Sister Mainord and she agreed to come to Crystal City. Then he had this "Aha!" feeling, like everything was finally right. Hearing that gave me a lot of peace regarding all this hullabaloo, because the Lord's hand is always there in my life, even if He needs to cause accidents to help things work out, haha.
And things really have worked out. Being in a "tri," or a three-person companionship is described by most missionaries as "THE WORST," but I have a feeling this one is for the *best.* I can already tell I have so much to learn from both of these sisters, and I'm so excited for the weeks to come.
Love you all!!
Sister Fluegel 🐦
Picture 1: packing up my stuff last second...the car was a little stuffed
Picture 2: How big my area used to be!
Picture 3: How big it is now...
Picture 4: What we call our "Room of Requirement"
Picture 5: Sister Mainord (top) and Sister Rilling (bottom) have differing opinions about their place on the bunk beds
Pictures 6- :From Sister Bustillos's last morning in Crystal City--we went on a hike with Bramanda and saw the sunrise over the Mississippi!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Life by the yard is hard; by an inch it's a cinch! April 24th 2017

Guess who's not a trainee anymore?? THIS GIRL!!
Hahaha I still feel very new to this missionary life thing, but I'm getting the hang of it. Yesterday marked my last day of "12 Week Training."
Sister Bustillos is headed out to Tuscola, IL in the Champaign zone! I told her to say hi to the corn for me. Meanwhile Sister Rilling, who I'll be meeting tomorrow, will be joining me here in Crystal City, and we'll not only still be in our area but taking over the rest of the ward boundaries now! So there's a lot of new people to meet, a lot of new places to see, and a lot more work to be done. I'm a little intimidated, I won't lie, but also crazy excited!
Sister Bustillos had our last lesson with Amanda, and we talked about her progress a lot and actually showed her our Amanda Lucas Teaching Record! It is a record of everything we've taught her and how each lesson went. She asked for a copy for posterity, haha. It's crazy to see how much she's grown, not only in her testimony of Jesus Christ but in happiness. The two are even more correlated than I knew them to be before becoming a missionary.

Sister Bustillos talked about how much she's learned from Amanda, especially about faith, and I'm realizing more every day how much I can learn from those around me. We are teaching the Wolf Family right now, and one thing they've already taught me is how to be happy in any given circumstance. That's something I truly want to develop on my mission. Life is never ideal. Even when nothing goes wrong, and everything good works out, there's always something to complain about.

On the flip side, when everything goes wrong, and nothing works out, there's always something to be thankful for! Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us, and though it might not be our ideal, it is exactly what we need to progress and learn the most from.
That's why we were born with both weaknesses and strengths. They were specially crafted for each of us, to help us learn and grow. And being able to learn and repent is only made possible through Jesus Christ. Knowing this gives me a lot of perspective on my circumstances, weaknesses, and strengths--what am I learning because of them? AM I learning from them as much as I could be? Am I taking full advantage of every second the Lord has blessed me with to become the person he wants me to be?
I'm so excited to take on an extra 20+ miles of Missouri to share this message of happiness and growth.
Sister Fluegel 🐦
Pictures: Missionaries can't take serious pictures...some are of our district, the one where I'm frowning is us being our 'spirit animals' and mine is Eeyore, haha. The one in the gym is with the elders we shared Crystal City Ward with, from yesterday. Good times.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

April 18th 2017

Oh my goodness, what a week of learning!
First of all Sister Bustillos and I went to the (FREE!) St. Louis Museum last Monday, which was bomb. Pictures or it didn't happen. I got adjusted for free by a chiropractor friend of Amanda's, and apparently my lower back is a mess...whoops. Time to stop cracking it every other hour! I'm working on kicking that habit still.
This week we met a very cute little teenage couple named Jake and Kirsten. They just got back from going on a Taco Bell run when we started talking to them, and at first we only shared the Prince of Peace card (It's a cool video, watch it on youtube!) but then they started talking about how many churches there were and how hard it was to know which was true.
Maybe it would be obvious to a lot of other missionaries, but for a second I had no idea how to answer. I opened my mouth anyway. Suddenly the story of Joseph Smith poured out of me, maybe a little too detailed looking back, but I saw something in Kirsten and Jake's eyes change. The guard they had put up fell down, and behind it stood two young people yearning for the truth.
Joseph Smith was only fourteen when he felt a burning desire to know God and understand the truth. Sometimes that seems too young--seems like all kids care about these days is technology and clothes! But I know, from not being fourteen all that long ago, how many my age around me had unanswered questions and a yearning to know more. I did myself. The story of Joseph Smith touched Kirsten and Jake's hearts in a way that nothing else would have. Without a doubt I know it was the Spirit that filled my mouth with words!
I promised them that through reading the Book of Mormon and prayer, they could find out if what we taught was true--if fourteen year old Joseph Smith did receive an answer to his humble prayer or not, and whether he truly was a prophet called of God. We'll be meeting with them this weekend to see what they think.
This week was especially fun in another way--in the spirit of Easter, we dropped off Easter baskets at the homes of people who haven't made it to church lately and to a family we used to teach! Not sure if you remember me mentioning the Wolf family before, but they hadn't answered our phone calls and texts in a long time. But Cindy's whole face lit up when she saw who it was! Apparently their phone got shut off! She invited us back for tonight, and said they loved us coming. That made my whole day, I love that family!
I also love all of you. Have a great week and make good choices!
Sister Fluegel 🐦
Pictures 1-3: From the zoo!!
Picture 4: We like to keep tracting interesting
Picture 5: Our Easter baskets!
Picture 6-8: Easter!!
Picture 9: Sister Bustillos tried to escape weekly planning...

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Silly Rabbit! Easter's for Jesus! April 10th 2017

Hello folks!
My week was in some ways very short this week, and in some ways very long. I caught the flu on Tuesday and wasn't up and at it fully till about Thursday, so I spent way too much time not able to do anything! Then Sister Bustillos and I walked through a park talking to people on Saturday, and the lake nearly touched the path. I was so confused until she explained it was raining the entire time I'd been sick! So Missouri is a little muddy and flooded right now.

Once I was feeling a little more coherent I at least got back to studies, and I've been reading the Book of Mormon lately focusing on the principles of faith, repentance, obedience, the Spirit, and enduring. There are places in the scriptures where these principles are taught, and there are stories wherein these principles are lived. As I've realized that, my scripture study has changed. It's so much easier to understand what the Lord wants me to learn from each scripture, each phrase, and I know that's one of the most powerful ways we receive answers to prayers. Prayer is the means by which we speak to Him; scripture is the means by which He will often speak to us, and teach us.
Jacob 7 in particular was a teaching chapter for me. In it, Jacob defends the doctrine of Christ against the anti-christ Sherem. But he was only able to "confound" the man in his "much power of speech" because Jacob had first used and grown in the cycle of faith, repentance and obedience. If I wish to teach and defend it, I was reminded I need to continually be exercising my spiritual "muscles" to keep them strong. Our testimonies are only as strong as we do what we believe! My dear sister Elizabeth gave me a box full of handwritten quotes, some from the scriptures, and one really puts it so well:
"And now, if you believe all these things, see that ye do them." -Mosiah 4:10
Another cool experience was meeting with Paul Paulson, who is a convert of the church that can't come on Sundays the past two months on account of being his father's primary caretaker. His father has brain cancer and just finished radiation treatment, but it's likely he won't live for long. We asked how we could serve Paul right now, and he said, "Come. Come see me. There's nothing like being with Latter-Day Saints. You really do have that 'mormon glow,' and it brightens my day."
Despite his somewhat rugged appearance, the first time I met Paul Paulson was in passing, and I saw a light in his eyes before even knowing who he was. I told him so, and he proceeded to bear his testimony to us of how much he's changed since his baptism. He feels different, he understands different, and he has so much peace, even as his father nears death.
The gospel brings happiness, and peace. In celebration of Easter there's a message on all about Jesus Christ, and how he is our "Prince of Peace." We're sharing it with everyone, and if any of you have yet to see it, I invite you to do so. Two minutes, filled with a simple, powerful message.
In other news, Sister Bustillos and I are trying and failing to master the mid-air heel-click as we walk around, there was a rainbow at BreadCo, we met a turtle family, and we can now study outside!! When it's not raining, of course. Which it is today, (AND THUNDERING!! FUN!) and we were going to go to the zoo...darn.
Love you all!
Sister Fluegel 🐦

April 3rd 2017

What a week to be alive! Missouri showed off it's bipolar weather to a greater degree than ever before. I've used my winter coat, hid under an umbrella, and sweat under a burning sun all within a matter of days. I know I talk about Amanda constantly, so here's a warning that this email will be much of the same, haha. Sister Bustillos and I are truly blessed to know her.
Amanda is living with family, and has been slowly introducing more and more to her aunt (who we've met and love) as well as her mom, who lives in a different area. And on Saturday her aunt agreed to sitting in on a lesson and possibly agreeing to meet with us. She asked for a Book of Mormon! Maybe we should just give Amanda a whole box of them and have her go around door-to-door. Haha. It is true, though, that those ready to hear the gospel often aren't ready to hear it directly from missionaries, in the beginning.
I loooooved General Conference, which is available on if you haven't seen it yet, especially Elder Holland's talk about "the songs we cannot sing." When we don't have the best "pitch" we often stand next to those who are a little more in tune. It's always great to sing next to someone with a beautiful voice! And Elder Holland makes the comparison perfectly: "The Savior has perfect pitch." Believe in yourself, and believe in him--don't abandon your role in the great choir of God. We all have such unique voices, and they are all vital.
The gospel is the melody; our individual conversions are the harmonies.
I heard the conversion story of a wonderful woman named Myra, who grew up in Puerto Rico when her mother joined the church. They grew up Catholic but eventually stopped going, and one of her friends who became a Jehovah's Witness talked about all the destruction and mayhem before Jesus Christ appeared again. Myra told us how she thought, Moses guided the people as to how to be protected during the Passover. Surely a prophet would protect God's people? When she met with the missionaries and they explained there was a prophet again today, she exclaimed, "A prophet? Who is he? Where is he?" When they explained, her only remaining question was, "What is the prophet doing in Utah??"
I am so grateful to have a prophet to lead and guide me! General Conference is always such an amazing time to hear from God's appointed leaders and to find in ourselves, "Where lack I yet?" SO much of it seemed exactly what I needed to hear, and I know that can be true to each one of us.
In other news, a nice guy ran up to us with bottles of cold water and then ran away before we could talk to him, I got a REALLY COOL birthday present from Sister Bustillos but it's a surprise for the fam, heehee, and I discovered a new vice of mine: Vanilla Cupcake M&Ms. They are the bomb .com
Love you all!!
Sister Fluegel 🐦