Monday, December 30, 2013

Marshmallow in a Marathon

Happy New Year family!
Do you ever feel like you are a marshmallow running a marathon? (maybe don't answer this one dad it may not apply to you)  But like in life you are running, but your actually just rolling because you're not ready to go that fast?  like a blu-ub...Imagine what that sounds like. 
Sometimes that's how life goes though right?  Sometimes we just want to sprint and our marshmallow selves are just not quite capable of that! 
We'll come back to that topic. 
 First of all I just wanted to thank you all for the lovely skype chat we had on wednesday!  How odd that was to just sit down and talk to all your beautiful faces!  As my friend here Sister Palmer said when talking about her family talk, "it was like 'what? they still exist?!''"   I'm glad you still exist :)    It truly was a Christmas to remember, not too often that you find yourself in Bellevue Nebraska wishing people that you have just recently come to love a very merry christmas!  That is one thing that makes being here so easy, the people here are too easy to love!  They wrap their arms around you and you can feel at home.   It truly is a blessing that comes from knowing that God is real and loves us all so perfectly.  Because of that we can feel that love where ever we are.  I know that I felt God's love powerfully on Christmas day as I talked with you, as I talked with my companion and as I talked with people in this neck of the woods.   We live in a glorious world and I am so grateful that I have been blessed with the opportunity to be here serving. 
So as you know life is never easy, and that doesn't change when you are a missionary.  Weird right?  Life is still difficult in so many different aspects.  When we go on exchanges we are helping boost these sister's areas and it is remarkable how many miracles we see!  It is also spiritually draining, we leave feeling exhausted and basically like marshmallows running a marathon.   Though even though I am human(marhmallow)  I know that the Lord provides a way for miracles to happen.  The Lord knows what we need.  Right now he wants me to learn to be spiritually strong even when I feel like a spiritual marshmallow.  Do you ever feel that way?  I have learned in the last couple days that as soon as I start doubting myself, I just need to open the Book of Mormon and be reminded of the peace that the gospel truly brings.
I need to remember to ask myself "What does having a Savior Jesus Christ mean to me?"  It is as I ponder this that my spririt is rejuvinated and I have faith that I can finish this marathon. 
Every person on this earth is a Child of God.  How often to you think about that?  How often does that stop you in your tracks and make make you look at the world differently?  That is something that has been causing my marshmallow self to roll lately...  (forgive me for being so weird... it's kinda just that kind of monday)  I know that the Lord guides us and he trusts us as we exercise our Faith and prepare ourselves for this work.  I know that each one of you has helped me in ways I may not be able to articulate but ways that has helped me become who I am.  Matt 4:19 "follow me, and I will make you fishers of men"   I know that each one of us is being "made"  not by our own doings but by the Lords, and the people he places in our paths.  I am learning that everyday!  I feel like he will one day be able to look at us and be proud of what we have become, but we must let him refine us, we must face the trials he has in store with us and we must never stop running the race.  Someday you just might turn into a marathon runner, but until that day keep running. 
I love you all dearly!  I appologize that this e-mail is weird, but sometimes you just have to type what comes to your head.   I am looking forward to another week here in Nebraska!  We have lots of exciting things this week!  We are planning to commit 2 of our investigators to baptism this evening.  I have faith that the spirit will direct these lessons.  Pray for me, pray for Brooke and pray for Angie,  I know the Lord has a plan for these two sweet sisters.  I pray that we will be able to teach them by the Spirit.  
Good luck with celebrating the new year!  I will be celebrating by going to bed at 10:30!  It's bound to be a blast!  (maybe we'll count down and pretend we live in New York or something! :))  I love you all!  Take care!  I'm glad the Christmas-stache found you!  Love you!
Love Always,
Sister McMaster

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Bells Ringing Singing!
I realize this is like the same title as last week, but I think it's more significant this week :)
How are you all doing family!?  Staying sunshiny warm in California??  I love the pictures you have sent me!  Every one seems to be changing in a good way :)  I am so grateful for all of you!  I hope you know that. 
So this week Sister Youngberg had 2 exchanges and Zone conference!  So we felt like we hadn't been in our area in like a million years but it was a really really good week.  Zone conference was incredible.  We learned about the atonement.  I was so touched as several missionaries shared their tesimonies of how the atonement has worked in their lives.  I hope all of you have a chance to think of the Savior and what he means to you.   If you get a chance you should look up a video on youtube, it's called "Missionaries and the Atonement"  President used it in his training.  I was overwhelmed with the power of it.  During this holiday season there is no greater gift we could give to anyone our savior included than that of inviting someone to come closer to Christ.
So I had a fun experience I thought I could share, and Aunt Kristie asked if I had any caroling experiences, good thing that was what I was planning to tell you about!  Music is one of the most remarkable tools of the spirit.  It touches people in a way that words cannot.  While on an exchange I was with Sister Beck who had heard of this great idea called the "living Christmas Card".  The Idea is that we "blast" people with the spirit!  We go to their door and begin by singing a fun christmas song then a spiritual song, we read Luke 2, bear testimony and state gratitude we pray and then we leave them there.   Cool right?  haha you are probably thinking "or a really good way for people to think your a weirdo"  Yes Thomas I know I just read your thoughts.   But Sister Beck was prompted to go visit a referral they had recieved a week or so ago and so I came along.  We knocked on this woman's door and she let us in to give her her "christmas card"  We sang Rudolph and she began to sob, (weird right?  who knew rudolph was such a powerful song?)  But she told us that her daughter had died the year before.  She was a 9 year old healthy child, she was sick one day and they took her into the doctor where they found it was cancer.  She died 6 days later.  I was overwhelmed at this tragedy.   We continuted with our singing, as we sung silent night, then we read Luke 2.  How powerful it is to read of the birth of our Savior.  We bore testimony to this sweet woman that the Savior of the world is real.  He died for us that we might all live again.  We testified that he is taking care of her daughter, he is so mindful of her sweet family.  It was an incredible experience.  She shared with us after about how she had never felt so lonely during the holidays than she did after losing her daughter, but she very much appreciated a reminder of the peace that can come from the holiday.  She also sympathized with us missionaries who are away from family during the season, we shared how yes it is hard sometimes but no matter what we know we will be with our families once again, and will be able to spend eternity with them.   She took the missionaries number and I pray she calls these sisters and progresses in the gospel.
So maybe someday I'll come back to Nebraska City and get to teach her, but until that happens I hope Sister Beck and Allen will have an opportunity to help this woman progress.   Miracles are happening all over the world.  It truly is an incredible experience to be a missionary right now!  I love every minuite of being out here.  I hope you know I'm really well taken care of, I appreciate the incredible amount of candy you have sent me it is definately a sweet Christmas this year.
I love you all!  Be good and serve anyone you meet so they can feel the happiness that you all have.  Have a very Merry Christmas!  I'll talk to you soon!  (super weird that I'll be talking to you, don't freak out I pray I haven't turned into a lion or something....)  I pray for you and I quite honestly feel the prays you are sending my way.  Thank you so much for your constant support. It means so much to me.  
Love you all to the moon and space and back and around the planets and inside and out of snowflakes. 
Sister McMaster 

Loving our Itsy bitsy teeny tiny christmas tree!

we try to make pretty faces occasionaly....

Upside down pictures!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Bells are Ringing!

Hear what they say to you, Jesus is born in Bethlehem!
Hello sweet family!  I hope you are all staying warm! 
I wanted to tell you all how very grateful I am for the love and support, and for the sweet notes you sent in a Thanksgiving Package, I felt so loved.  You are all the very best :)
So I had a sweet experience yesterday in Sacrament Meeting that I wanted to share with you.  I was pondering the Atonement as I listened to the sacrament Hymn.  We have Christmas Zone Conference this week and have each been asked to write a 1 page talk about the atonement, so I decided to dedicate my thoughts to the Atonement.  Often when I ponder topics like this I just end up writing all sorts of questions down in my journal as I try to focus my thoughts and feelings. Any way I was pondering what the Atonement means to me.  What does the Atonement mean to you?  What is the power of Christ's love?  How is it specifically manifested to you?  As I pondered these questions I felt peace, just soft peace.  Do you know what I mean?  It's the peace that fills your soul, it's hard to explain but the power of it is real.  I realized that that is what the atonement means to me, it is the assurance that my worries and doubts are known by my Savior.  The words to the hymn Revently and Meekly Now displayed my thoughts exactly.  "In the solemn faith of prayer Cast upon me all thy care... Be obedient I implore, prayerful, watchful evermore, And be constant unto me, That thy Savior I may be"  I love that hymn.  It is so powerful.  
During Christmas I often have stressed about what to make or buy for this person or that, always wanting desperatly to make their Christmas wish come true,  I overwhelm myself often when I think of all these things to do, but I realized the gift that I truly do want to give to each of you this year.  That is the gift of peace.  I don't know how to package it up or mail it or put a stamp on it.  But I feel powerfully in my heart that you can each receive the peace that our father desires as you soften your hearts and seek to feel.  At the end of Sacrament meeting I was feeling very much at peace when something that was sort of a tender mercy to me happened.  There is a young girl in the fairview ward that has down syndrome.  Her name is Lilly.  She is six and has an absolutely pure spirit.  At the end of the meeting she walked up to me going around people pointing to me, she came up to me and just held my hands, then she gave me a hug and walked away.  It was incredible, but I didn't realize till after that that was a tender mercy of our Father in Heaven.  He simply was reminding me that I am a daugher of god.  He sent me a hug from one of the purest spirits he could.   I am overwhelmed with love for my Savior.

Me and Lily:) I love her!

Another Bellevue Sunset. Miracles happen every day, never forget that!

I hope that this somehow made sense,  I just felt like it was a sweet experience I should share.  I am so grateful that we have one another to grow from and learn from.  I love each one of you with all of my heart.  I know that our Savior loves each one of you as well..  I hope you all feel the most powerful gift that this world can offer, the gift of peace.  Pray for peace wherever you may be celebrating Christmas this year. I hope you know that I pray for each of you as well, I know that we are so blessed by our loving Heavenly Father and I pray you all have an enjoyable week preparing for the Holidays!  I love you all to the moon and space and back!
Sister McMaster  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes

Well HI!
How's it going out there in Utah??  From the Christmas devotional it seems there is no snow in Utah yet... that true??  Well we have snow here!  My toes are froze and my nose is cold!  :)   But I still love it here!

It has been quite the week. I've been studying a lot about repentance and the atonement.  Such powerful and necessary topics to understand.  I read the talk from Priesthood session by Elder Uchdorf and loved it!  How powerful is that statement?  "You can get up now!"  It is amazing how the words of the leaders of the church fit perfectly with the struggles we are each facing.   There is a family we are working with that hasn't come to church in a while and this was exactly the advice they need!  The Mom, Ann is so sweet!  She just feels like she isn't worthy to come back, we bore testimony to her that she can get up now!  I know she's fighting it but I also know that Heavenly Father won't give up on her.  It's such an incredible feeling to know that he will never give up on his children. As a missionary we feel that love so powerfully for the people we teach, he loves us so so much.  I hope you all feel that, it is one of the most powerful feelings I think we will ever feel. I am so grateful to have such an incredible family like you that I could learn how to love powerfully from.
So I have felt the need to "get up"  in this area,  the week Sister Call left we had quite the falling of investigators, poor Sister Youngberg came to a nearly empty teaching pool!  But change happens for reasons we may not understand and I know Heavenly Father has great plans for our area.  Within the last week we recieved 4 referrals from church head quarters!  That's crazy especially for our tiny little ward!  It's incredible because it means someone else has planted a seed, and we literally get to go harvsest what they have planted.   We have contacted most of the referrals and are very excited to start teaching some of these people.  But I wanted to thank you for your prayers!  You must have all been praying hard this week because I have felt so empowered to keep my head up high and recognize the miracles that are begining to occur.  Elder Uchdorf's words are so true, we can get up now.   We are strong enough to rely on the Savior, because he will never abandon us.  He will always be close enough to help us up.  I find so much comfort from that :) 

Well I love you so much sweet family! I am so very grateful for you.  I am absolutely loving being a missionary.  We have a goal of contacting 10 new people every single day!  It's so hard!  But we contacted 15 people yesterday because we were just talking to everyone!  It was the best.  You should all be contacting 1 new person everyday if you can, try it!    It is such a enjoyable job seeing people's lives change as they come closer to Christ.  I feel so overwhelmingly blessed.  I hope you all enjoyed St. Nicholas day!  Sister Zachary and Brother Zachary are the greatest, you'll love them when you meet them some day, they let us help decorate and even bought me my own ornament that I got to put my name on! They are so fantastic. 

I hope you all have a fantastic week!  Stay warm and stay happy and share the gospel, there are seeds to be planted! 
Love Always,
Sister McMaster

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy December!

Hello Family Dear! 
Isn't time just flying by like crazy?!  Wasn't yesterday October?  Good to hear you all were well fed on thanksgiving!   It was a Thanksgiving to remember here in Nebraska.  Sister Call and I knew it was the day president would call if we were to be transfered so we were rather anxious.  At about 10 we decided he wouldn't call and were celebrating that we'd be together for another transfer and for christmas and such..... when we go a text from the Zone Leaders.... And BAM!  Sister Call got sent to Kearney!  Like 4 hours west of civilization!  So I have a new companion who came from Kearney!  Her name is Sister Youngberg and I already love her to death because she's incredible.   I am really excited to work with her.   It was hard leaving Sister Call again.  I thought it would be easier the 2nd time around but nope it was hard still, too bad I just love people too much that I hate leaving them.  

So the mission is exploding with missionaries!  They opened 10 new areas for sisters!  So Sister Youngberg and I are now over 8 companionships!  It's so many sisters!  And one of them is the Pioneer Sisters (so Sister Schrader!)  Cool right?  We'll get to go on exchanges in my old area, which will be super weird.  
So I am so happy right now, I think spending a holiday remembering what we're grateful for is rejuvinating.  Do you all feel that way?   Yesterday was such a lovely day at church.  I have a funny story too!  We had a less active gentleman show up that we had found a few weeks ago.  He's a very sweet very talkative man named Brother Ottis.  I was excited because he hasn't been to church in probably a year or so and he was so surprised we found him.   But he decidied he'd go up and bear his teastimony and he told the ward that he lived in a very high security apartment complex and that one day he hears a knock on the door only to find two sisters standing outside his appartment.  He told the ward "I have no idea how Sister McMaster got in there but I'm grateful that she did"  After that the whole ward was asking me what kind of criminal moves I performed for the sake of the work or the Lord.  My favorite response was the fantastic Sister Gardner who was convinced that Sister Call and I scaled the walls of appartments to find less actives.  Truth of the matter is I don't really know how we got into his building.  But the Lord knows where his sheep are and he knows how to find them.   Fun miracle, even though I will never be able to live down being a criminal missionary. 
So since I've been with Sister Youngberg the last couple days I've been humbled at how well heavenly father knows his children.  I was convinced that I didn't need a change, and yet I am so grateful for the changes that have begun since having a new companion.  It has been amazing to see that the Lord refines us and tweaks us this way and that way to help us become the people he knows we can be.   I am so grateful that he cares enough about me to be with me every step of the way in progressing.  Have you been able to recognize his hand in helping you personally progress in the last couple months?  It's always amazing the miracles that are happening, sometimes without us even noticing.  
So Sister Youngberg and I are praying for a White Christmas.  Meaning we have a Baptism,  this will be a miracle because we have had a very slim teaching pool the past few weeks (we've had investigators dropping us like flies :( )   But I want to tell you this now so that when I inform you of the prepared person that we find you'll see how incredible the miracle is.   Thank you ever so much for your prayers and your support.  You really have no idea how incredible it is to have a foundation of an incredible family at home.    I love you all so much.  I pray that you all have a fantastic week.  I hope that you feel the love of our Savior everyday this holiday season.  I hope you show your gratitude for him every morning you wake up.  Keep smiling and sharing your love with those around you. 
Love you all to the moon and space!  ( I know it doesn't makes sense Tommyface... but i like the sound of it)
Sister McMaster