Monday, March 30, 2015

Laboring in the Lord's vineyard {literally}‏

Let me start off this week by saying that our church is surrounded by vineyards, which I find quite comical. Actually, so is our house. And basically everything here. Sonoma is pretty much one giant vineyard! But my companion and I were talking this week about how this is the Lord's vineyard as well, and we are his servants sent here to do his work. There is so much good fruit here that we need to find, branches that need to be grafted in, trees that need nourishing, and so on. Essentially, we are living a much less glorified version of Jacob 5, which is such an incredible opportunity and experience. Sonoma is such a beautiful vineyard, both literally and metaphorically!
So, here in this wonderful vineyard, we have a goal to see miracles every day, and I can promise you that we do! It is so incredible because every night we come home and ask each other what our favorite miracle of the day was, and while some days we may only have one or two, sometimes we have more than we can count. So I have two favorite miracles this week that I want to share with you. First, Jeremias came to church!! I don't know if I told you about him at all last week, but he's one of our strongest investigators but he has to work a lot so it's super hard to make it to church. But this week we told him about the Easter program and had a super spiritual lesson with him, and then sunday came around and there he was! He told us he'd been talking with his boss all weekend and finally late saturday night he agreed to give him a few hours off to go to church! It was so awesome. My other favorite miracle of this week was finding Miriam. She is married with 5 kids and has had an incredibly rough life, but she is so happy and loving despite everything she's been through. So far we've hardly taught her anything because she talks so much and so fast her husband has to stop her to let us talk. She is so hilarious. Her husband has only said about two words, because he's super shy and apparently he's not very talkative (I wonder why). But she is so amazing and I truly can't wait to be able to teach her more!
Another miracle this week, which is even hard for me to believe, I turned down an offer for cherry coke. Haha for those of you who don't know, cherry coke is my favorite thing in the entire world, so we met this guy who had a huge bottle of cherry coke and next to it was a huge bottle of tequila. He was clearly super drunk but was really nice to us and offered to share. Turning that down was probably one of my biggest trials yet on the mission... but in the event that he might have already poured some tequila in there, I thought I better be safe. haha mom, are you proud?!
Well, I had my first run-in with some Jehovah's witnesses this week. To be fair, I didn't really realize it was a run-in until after the fact. Haha so we were walking past these two women and we started talking to them and talked a little bit about the gospel and then they were like "oh, you're mormons! we visit one of your members!" and innocent me said "oh cool, for what?" and then they laughed and walked away. Ya, they were Jehovah's witnesses. Awkward.
If any of you remember how I said I was in the choir in the MTC, I thought I would be done with singing after those six weeks but somehow I am now in the ward choir and it is probably the most uncomfortable experience of my life. All 5 members are around age 70, and then there's me and sister nimmer. We're the only altos and she's tone deaf, so it's been an adventure. Haha and speaking of music, for any of you planning on serving a mission that play the piano and don't practice hymns cause you've told yourself that you'll never play for church anyways (like myself), DO IT. Practice! Cause they will find you, and they will force you to play whether you're good or not, so if you don't want to end up like me, please do it. That's my advice for this week.
Well, that's just about all I have to say about my week, but I hope you all have a wonderful week and a happy easter! Don't forget to watch conference!!
Love always,
Sister Suzanna Lewis

Hopefully these pictures work! So our district volunteers and this super fun garden park here in sonoma where we basically just weed and plant and do gardening stuff for a couple hours. So here's me and my companion in the garden! 

The second picture is the lovely note someone left on our car yesterday which I thought was funny and I wanted to share. We are very much loved here in Sonoma. <3
(Leave and don't come back. . .We are ALWAYS Watching!)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Being a greenie on St. Patrick's day was as unusual as it sounds‏

Wow do I have a lot to catch up on! Well first off, let me say that as odd and hilarious as I thought it was that I became a greenie on green day, it was even more weird than that. If that even makes sense. Let me back up to the day before, when I had to say goodbye to the people who had become my family the past six weeks. Oh my goodness was that hard. I never realized how much the spirit and struggling through the insanity of the mtc can bring people so close together. But we survived! And now I officially live in the lovely state of California. Getting here was a bit rough, and despite how hard I tried to place a Book of Mormon in the airport, everyone was mormon. Shocker. I also had quite an ordeal with my luggage because when you pack your life away into 3 little suitcases, they're going to be overweight. Hindsight, I probably should have thrown away my 3 pound jar of nutella instead of my towel.. but hey, priorities. Nutella is far more valuable.
Anyways, finally I arrived in California and got to meet my amazing mission president and his wife! They were waiting for us at baggage with all the AP's which was super nice to get to meet them all there. President Alba and his wife are SO amazing and hilarious! So then we drove to the mission office/church cause it was transfer day and basically the entire mission was there to welcome us which was suuuuper weird. But nice I guess. So then we all went into a devotional and the rest of the day us newbies did training. We ate dinner at the Alba's that night and then they took us to a hotel super early so we could sleep and it truly was the best night of my life! Hermana Burton and I shared a room and it had two huge beds and a balcony and I was so happy I instantly threw myself on the bed and cried tears of joy. I have never slept so well in my entire life!
The next day, we got our new companions! My trainer is amazing. Her name is sister nimmer, she's from orem, and we actually knew each other before cause we were in the same freshman ward! She is super athletic so we run for 40 minutes in the mornings which is a struggle but I need it! She's an amazing missionary and talks to everyone. No joke. We went to the store when I first got here and she talked to every single person in that store! She truly knows the meaning of being a missionary 24/7.
So our area is Sonoma, which is just 30 minutes away from Santa Rosa. Sonoma is SO beautiful and the people here are amazing. there's the two of us in one apartment, and then next door is the elders in our district which is super fun. They're all really nice and fun to talk with. One of them is actually Elder Tooley from bountiful and I knew him before too, so it's fun being neighbors! I love our district so much! And the members here are really good about feeding us so we all get to eat dinner together every night.
So as far as investigators, we don't have tons right now but we have some amazing potentials that I can't wait to teach. There's an awesome guy named Geremias and his wife is a member and they have an adorable little girl named Ashley. He's been praying about a baptismal date so we're really hoping he can be baptized this transfer! There's also the Garcia family who all have baptismal dates already but I haven't gotten to meet them yet. I'll definitely have better updates next week once I've gotten to know people better!
Anyways, sorry this email is so scattered but I just want you all to know that I truly do love being a missionary! There's nothing I love more than walking up to someone's door who we've never met before and the spirit can hit you like a wall in an instant. This has been hands down the most exhausting week of my entire life, but I've already grown to love these people so much and I am so excited for the incredible experiences I have in front of me. I love and miss you all!! Have a great week!
Love, Hermana Lewis
P.S. My address is:
 888 W Verano Ave.
Sonoma, California 95476
I'd love to hear from you all!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

On my way!

Suzanna is on her way to California! We got to talk to her on the phone before she left and she is doing great! She is very happy and excited to get to Santa Rosa.  Hopefully we will hear from her soon. Here are a few pictures with captions that she posted from the week.

Sad to say goodbye to my amazing district!

Here's me with my lovely cell phone that I didn't text on once this entire six weeks aren't you proud?!
Here's me with my lovely cell phone that I didn't text on once this entire 6 weeks aren't you proud?!

And my last picture . . . ONE DAY MORE  *notice my shirt*

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

"The MTC didn't change, you did."‏

Wow. What a week. Let me start off by saying this was probably one of the hardest, yet most incredible weeks of my life. We had a lot of goodbyes because the other zone in our district headed out into the real world, and our branch president was released as well. Saying goodbye to the other district was very bittersweet because they were so excited and we were so happy for them, but the reality that we only have one week left until that's us was a bit daunting. But, on Sunday I had one last interview with president Stewart and he said something that will stick with me forever. We were talking about my experience here and being STL for the other sisters and how I've been able to see them grow as well as myself, and we got on the subject of week one. I told him how hard it was for everyone and how inadequate we felt and how adjusting to the schedule took a lot of work, but that the MTC has changed a lot and now we absolutely love it here and my testimony of the gospel is so much stronger than it's ever been before. And he just looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "Hermana, the MTC didn't change. You did." It was such an incredible experience for me that I will never forget, and I can't even put into words how lucky I've been to have him as my president and to be in the MTC learning and growing more than I ever thought I could. This truly is an inspired work and I am so grateful I have the opportunity to be a part of it.

So, the other highlights of my week would have to be Skyping members and having the MTC presidency come to our sacrament meeting. Skype was fun because we got to share a message with members who already know the gospel, and more often than not I learn more from them than I could have taught them. Also the MTC president presided in our sacrament meeting on Sunday which is a rare opportunity! I got to sit by his wife, Sister Burgess, which was slightly intimidating, but luckily I wasn't called on to give a talk this week so I considered that a blessing.

Um, good news, we didn't break anything this week! On Sundays, before relief society, we get to listen to music and the spoken word which is always one of my favorite parts of the week, but this week things went a bit wrong. Haha we had a little run in with a bat flying around our heads for an hour while half the sisters screamed and laughed like 5 year old children. I wish I could show you all how hilarious the moment was when everyone realized it was not a cute little bird they were watching flying around, but a bat. Everyone's reactions went from "aww" to "ahh!" And I seriously laughed so hard I cried. So another super funny but also random thing that happened this week was our first major language miscommunication. Cute elder honey was trying to tell this investigator that Jesus Christ was the best example, and the word he meant to use was "mejor," but instead he said "mujer," which means woman. Good thing he wasn't actually holding this "investigator's" salvation in his hands because he told her that Jesus Christ was a woman and if she wasn't a member just playing the role of an investigator, that probably would have thrown off everything she'd ever known...

Anyways, I think that is all for this week. I love and miss you all so much! Have a great week!
Love, Hermana Suzanna Lewis

P.S. Sorry I have a lot of pictures this week, hopefully they all come through!

This is my zone, who I love more than life itself. Heavy black heart️ 

See these people? This is my zone and our pro basketball team. And you'll never guess what happened this week! We were playing speed and I WON. Granted, I'm still the most uncoordinated person on the planet, but we all witnessed a miracle this week because I was the last one standing of all 16 of us. THE CHURCH IS TRUE PEOPLE!

Also, I got to see the best teacher in the MTC this week! Aka, Ados. Aka, brother Hewlett. Sorry for my awkwardness, I haven't quite learned how to handle pictures with males as a missionary yet. It's a struggle. Any suggestions/help would be greatly appreciated Face with tears of joyFlushed face

And lastly, #selfie cause we got our TRAVEL PLANS! I've never been so excite for 4:35 am in my entire life

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Surprises // mishaps // snowstorms // birthday parties‏

Guys. This week, we made history. Well not really, but sort of. Haha so some background info, we have our schedules in the calendar app on our iPads and they sync to whatever Hermano Mace and Hermana Valdez put in their teaching schedule so we can see what the lesson plan for that day is. So on Wednesday morning, we all got a notification that class with hermano mace had changed to "SOPRESA" (surprise) and that was it. So when he got to class, he first asked if he could have my paper schedule they gave us on day one, then he ripped it into a million pieces and said "we're not making the schedule anymore, you are." Then he pulled the calendar up on the computer and told elder wixom and I that the time was ours. Scary!! So with the help of the rest of the district and hermano mace, we built a new schedule based on exactly what we need to learn. He also told us that this has never been done before and they're testing it out with our zone to see if this will help the missionaries progress faster and that they can trust us. So, sort of intimidating! But we are so excited about it and we're already ahead our original schedule, so I'd say it's going pretty well. I mean, we are the chosen district after all Information desk person hahaha

Alright, so onto the best mishaps of this week. Well first off, elder Olsen had to get surgery which wasn't fun, but we all got to go on a field trip to visit him in the infirmary. Also he showed up to gym time in his wheelchair because he refused to miss out on basketball time. Haha I'm pretty sure his doctors were not happy about that but he sure was. Hermana Burton (my comp) also got really sick and nauseated so her and I had to stay in the room for a bit but luckily it was p-day so we didn't miss out on much. So at dinner time, some of the other hermanas kindly went and got us food, and when they left we realized they forgot silverware, and they brought us spaghetti... And Hermana Burton was too nauseated to even stand, so we were essentially stranded. But genius me found some Popsicle sticks in someone's first aid kit and we ate our spaghetti chopstick style. That was fun.  Also I didn't even spill. Hashtag winning. And lastly, we had a mouse in our room a few days ago! I was in the bathroom getting ready and suddenly I heard screaming and looked back to see a mouse and it scared me so bad I legitimately jumped on top of the sink. So then I got to watch the cute little Latino cleaning lady go diving after the mouse from inside the sink which was quite hilarious. That woman had skills though, she caught our little friend with nothing but her bare hands and a box in about 60 seconds flat. So I'd consider that more of a success than a mishap.

So, my favorite part of this week was last Thursday. We watched a video from president eyring and elder holland called missionary work and the atonement-- for all you future missionaries, or really everyone, go look it up!! It is seriously the most incredible and spiritually uplifting video. In the video they said something to the effect that missionary work isn't easy because salvation is never easy, and that definitely stuck with me. And it applies to more than just missionary work! Life definitely isn't easy, but neither is salvation and we are SO blessed to have the atonement to help us get through it.

Lastly, I don't know if I've mentioned this before but we go to the temple early Tuesday mornings and it is amazing because we eat breakfast at the temple and that food is seriously celestial. And also obviously we get to be in the temple which is my favorite place in the entire world. But today we got caught in a snowstorm walking back and none of us were wearing shoes cut out for the snow (because who knows why but they don't allow rain boots or combat boots here) so it took us probably 30 minutes to waddle back down the street so we didn't slip and I'm pretty sure the 18 of us looked like a sad pack of penguins. BUT the temple is SO worth it!

Hermano Mace's birthday was yesterday so we stole a ton of cookies from the cafeteria and made him a cookie cake (don't worry I haven't lost my love for cake making/decorating-- I definitely spearheaded this activity) and filled the room with balloons. So here is all of us at his little birthday party!

Sometimes we all go a little crazy in our assigned spots in the classroom so we wheel our chairs around until someone's foot gets run over. Usually that takes about two seconds but this day I got all the way across the room. Woot woot!

Lastly, here's my lovely twin (the other Hermana Lewis) and I. On day one we saw some girls matching and we wanted to throw up. Now we are those people... But we still want to throw up. It's fine.