Monday, August 29, 2016

Peanut Butter and Brass Knuckles

Hi Family and Friends!!

Hey guess what?!!

STAYING IN BYSA FOR ANOTHER TRANSFER WOOOOOO!!!!! I am so excited! My new companion will be Sister Botchway.

We've been working hard all week. Sister Tripple has that somewhat lengthy list of things to do before she goes home; we've been busy to say the least.

One of the things I like best about being busy is that it means that we get to ride public transportation a lot!! It probably sounds weird, but I love public transportation. There are so many wonderful people to talk to!

Last Wednesday, while we were on the bus, we met this awesome lady! Her name is Andrea. She's Catholic by background, and her husband just left her and her seven-year-old son. My heart was really sad to hear that story. We were talking and she expressed how helpless she's feeling. She said, "I've done everything right. I got a college degree, I got married, I stayed faithful and tried to make things work, but now he's left me and I can't find a job, I feel so helpless and frustrated. What did I do wrong?"

I was familiar with part of that feeling, the 'what did I do wrong' part. I struggle with thinking I have to be perfect and sometimes clinging to unrealistic expectations for myself. As I watched her earnest eyes start to tear up, my heart went out to her; I asked if I could share a scripture that helped me through some of my hardest times. She graciously agreed, so I flipped open my worn scriptures to this passage:

"And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;
 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:26-27, page 510 in The Book of Mormon)

I testified to her that this is true, and that God truly does support us in our weakness. Her countenance changed, the worry lines around her eyes and on her forehead softened. It warmed me so much to see that one of my favorite scriptures had boosted her above her desolation of despair. I can only imagine what she must be feeling with all that's going on in her life right now. 

We asked if she would come to church with us, she said yes if she could bring her son along. She almost laughed with relief when I explained that the family congregation that she would be attending is very friendly to children of all ages. My bus stop approached. I gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and the phone number of the Sister Missionaries who work with the family congregation (I work with the young single adult congregation). 

I turned back after I got off the bus. My last sight of her was her holding the book with great respect and contemplation written on her face, seeming to be wondering if it was as precious as I had told her it was. I keep flashing back to that image over and over again in my mind. You have no idea yet, Andrea, but you'll know soon. The words in that book will make you rich in happiness and resplendent in an everlasting peace. Just keep reading.

Wanna hear about our adventure this week?!

Church has never been so interesting as it is every week in the Baltimore YSA ward.

As of 5 p.m. on Saturday, we didn't have any investigators planning to come to church. Just four hours later we found ourselves in a much different situation:

- A local gang member got in touch with the Elders and asked if they were the LDS missionaries. They said yes. He asked if so-and-so was a member of the congregation. They said yes, and asked why. The guy said - good, I have some unfinished business, and stated his intention to come to church. The missionaries asked the guy who he was. He identified himself as an old friend of so-and-so and a member of this local gang. And then he stopped replying to their texts.

- We heard from an investigator who we know carries a concealed weapon at all times. He had decided to come to church.

- Another investigator, who is a college athlete, let us know he would be coming with his NCAA-approved security.

- A "back to school" themed munch and mingle was scheduled for after church. We learned there would be a peanut butter and jelly cake.

- Then we realized - we weren't sure if any of our investigators had a peanut allergy.

Do you see the problem here?

Three people planning on coming to church. With guns. One of them possibly planning to kill a member of the congregation. All of them possibly with a peanut allergy.


I must say, I never have considered the possibility of having three armed investigators attend sacrament meeting until Saturday night. That would definitely be a first!

Sunday morning rolls around. We got to church, and Elder Peery was joking around and asked Sister Tripple if she might need some pink brass knuckles. She said she was okay and suggested that he give them to me instead! Elder Peery said, and I quote, "No, that would be like giving a bunny rabbit a hand grenade." That made me laugh. A lot. He didn't know that I heard XD

Sacrament meeting was uneventful; no one who said they were coming to church actually came! Disappointing, but also a relief. 

Near the end of second hour, we got a text from our college athlete buddy saying that he and his security were both here. We went and found them, welcoming them into their final class! I was super relieved; the athlete had been joking about NCAA approved security, he had just brought one of his friends with him. Phwew!

Now, I know that you're all wondering. Did the gangster come to church? And, perhaps more importantly, did he have a peanut allergy?

I am pleased to report that neither gangsters nor severe peanut allergies appeared at church! And the cake was delicious. :)

Prayers truly are answered!

I love you all dearly, and if any of you are wanting a copy of my favorite book, you can get a free copy here:

Have a lovely week, my people! Much love (:

-Your Sister, Naomi Rapier

Sister Tripple's last week

Monday, August 22, 2016

Christ Can Make us Whole Again

Even when stunted by mistakes, we can find new growth in Christ.
I've met several sister missionaries who have personally been affected by pornography addiction. The stories vary - it was was an ex-boyfriend, an ex-fiance, an ex-brother-in-law - but the result is always pain and suffering.
Pornography burns the possibility of growth; it renders a person to be as a burnt-out stump. Pornography drains the life and vigor from relationships. Oh, the pain this plague inflicts on our families and communities.
Addictions consume. Suffering ensues. 

Where would we be without the redeeming hope of Jesus Christ? 

The atonement is real. Christ can remake a burnt-out stump into a healthy tree should the tree be desirous and willing to work for the gift of miraculous healing. Christ can sooth and comfort the loved ones of an addict. Christ can heal us and make us whole again. 

Love you,
Sister Naomi Rapier

Monday, August 15, 2016

Serve God and Do Good

Howdy, Family!

I don't hear "howdy" too often. Too few Southerners 'round these here parts... XD

I am so super stoked about this week.


We met with a girl named Carlee yesterday. She was referred to us by the Alameda Elders, who met her on a bus ride to downtown. She expressed that she wanted to learn more, and they sent her number to us. She is a doll of a human being, short (like me!) and with one of the most kind and long-suffering spirits of anyone I have EVER met!!!! When we called for the first time, it became quickly evident that she loves God and that her greatest desire is to serve Him and do good. We asked if she had any concerns in her life that we could study for and help her resolve. She thought for a second, and then asked, "Could you help me get baptized? I want to get baptized, and I've never been able to." Ummmm yes!!!!!!! That is, after all, our specialty: we are here to invite people to come to Christ! We're here to help them prepare for and make sacred covenants, beginning with baptism by immersion by someone with the priesthood, or the authority to act in God's name. A covenant is a two-way promise between an individual and God, so it's serious business. To help someone prepare to make this baptismal promise with God is one of the most beautiful opportunities I've had in my entire mission. Seeing first Chong, then Ruby enter the waters of baptism was awe-inspiring. The joy is so real, and I'm so excited to experience it once again.

More about Carlee: She's 18. When her father found out that she was a girl, and therefore not a boy, he left. Her mom recently decided that she didn't want to be a mom anymore and disowned Carlee. Carlee's been robbed, thrown onto the streets, and had to drop out of high school to take care of her Aunt, who needed hospice care and couldn't afford it. She's been living in rough neighborhoods for her entire life, and she loves to serve the people around her, though they often abuse her generosity. She still serves and loves everyone in her path. Wow.

All of the neighborhood kids in the look up to her a ton!! For many, she's the only consistently kind adult in their lives. So many people said hello to her while we were teaching her yesterday on her porch! Carlee amazes me, straight up.

As we were in the midst of talking, she testified of God and His goodness and mercy. She told us that she knows that He loves her. She knows that He's proud of her that she wants to better her life. I will keep you posted on my remarkable friend Carlee, but I have to go now.

Love you!

Sister Naomi Rapier

p.s.-woke up on Sunday morning and our car was gone from our apartment parking lot... we still aren't quite sure what happened that they decided to tow us, but there you have that! XD

Where's our car, dude?!
Got our car back!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Out and About in Townson

Hey family and friends!

This week was pretty good, more than a little nutty. 

Towson is a suburb of Baltimore; our area is about 20 minutes from downtown Baltimore. It is a super interesting place. I've never been in a big city for an extended period of time, let alone lived in one! Good thing that I'm used to driving in nutty traffic, like we always had to drive in to get to school. That's pretty much how driving is all the time here, and this is the first time I've driven in six months!! It's a little bit anxiety provoking. Aaaaa. 

The people in Baltimore are all very proud of who they are! I love that most people here don't put on fake faces. How do I know this? Trust me, you can tell. We were taking the light rail to district meeting last week and there was this guy sitting behind us, just rapping away. On the light rail. To himself. It was pretty funny.

Exchanges happened this week, and they were HEAVEN SENT. Being with Sister Hokafonu was so good, she is AMAZING. She's a Polynesian from California, and her testimony is rock solid. She loved me and listened to me and we got to do some good work together! She is one of my angels on this side of the veil, I think. We found a new investigator for the Jones Falls Sisters; a sweet, eccentric lady in her 50's.

Sister Tripple often says random things that she's thinking about which don't necessarily relate to what's going on. I guess it's about time I got a taste of my own medicine; usually I'm the one confusing everyone else! XD Some funny Sister Tripple quotes that brightened my week:

(Scene: walking in from working for dinner; Sister Tripple is kicking off her shoes and setting down her bag.)
Sister T: "Flirt to convert."
Sister R: "Oh, who are we flirting with today?"
Sister T: "Just myself."

(Scene: Sister Rapier laying on the floor writing in journal in living room. Sister Tripple quietly boiling sweet potatoes in adjoining kitchen.) 
Sister T: "Not today, Satan!"
Sister R: "What?"
Sister T: "I like talking out loud to Satan to let him know that I know he's there."
Sister R: "What's he trying to get you to do today?"
Sister T: "Oh, nothing. I just wanted to tell him that he's not a part of my life today."

I laughed so hard after each of the conversations!!!! Best. quotes. ever. (:

If any of you have favorite scripture passages or encouraging quotes or thoughts I would love to hear them! It's been a bit of a hard week and I need some extra positivity in my life.

Love always,

Sister Naomi Rapier

Exchanges with Sisters Tripp, not sure, Rapier and Hokafonu
Hanging with the Sisters

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Glow of Understanding

Hi Family!

Aren't you lucky? You get emails in the middle of the week!! (:

We found an investigator this week!!! Her name is Morgan, and we thought that she was a young single adult. Young? Yes! Single? Yes!! Adult?! ...Well, not so much... sophomore in high school... whoops. Anyway, she's currently our investigator and soon we'll be turning her over to the Jones Falls Sisters.

Morgan is AWESOME!! We were trying to go see a less active sister in the ward one night when we walked by. She was sitting on her porch, just chilling, and we started a conversation. She's been looking for the truth! We arranged to come see her another day because it was pretty late and Baltimore is sketchy in the dark hours (don't worry, we weren't in the city proper).

We went back to see her in the early evening later that week. Morgan walked out, smiling that big happy smile of hers, and warmly greeted Sister Tripple and me with big hugs. We went out and sat on her favorite bench, and she started talking. She told us about her day at school, about her friends, and about how she had always wondered what more there was to the universe. We asked her about what role religion had played in her life to this point. She responded quickly, letting us know that though she's only been to church approximately three times in her living memory, she knows some things about the Bible and she likes what she knows. She expressed a great desire to learn more and to get answers to all of her "why" questions. We were grinning so much, you wouldn't believe it.

Do you know how good it feels to have the resources to help someone find the answers they've been anxiously seeking for quite some time? I do!! Often before my mission, I felt joy when I would tutor and learn with a frustrated, confused student and would have the privilege of watching that marvelous glow of understanding spark to life in their eyes. I would sit back quietly as they labored over a problem similar to the many we had done together. The brow furrows, the mouth frowns, the face clouds over with concentration. This moment is the critical moment. Will they finish, or will they falter? Children are so often stubborn enough to push through. Finished! Bright eyes are anxiously hopeful as I check the work. The moment of truth comes: the math is good!!!! "See?" I exclaim, "Long division isn't that hard after all!" The triumphant grin that inevitably follows each acquisition of insight I will never forget, for each of these memories fill me with joy!

I do have to say, however, the rush of happiness I feel when math tutoring is nothing compared to what I' doing now; it is far outshone by the joy I experience each time I teach the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even though my memories of tutoring are no less significant to me than they were a year ago! I am perpetually filled with wonderment as I reflect upon this singular situation. What joy may lay just ahead of me that I cannot begin to comprehend? I must conclude that it will just keep on getting better. The majority of society tells me that I'm stupid for coming on a mission to talk with people about God, that I should be going to school and living the college life, tasting and experiencing all that the world has to offer. My response is, so what? So what, that I'm not out partying with my graduating class? Do they find any exceedingly great and enduring joy where they're looking for it? I don't think so. What I have tasted in the service of God is delicious, sweet. It fills the empty corners of my soul, patches the holes in my heart. It is delicious to me.

My time runs out. Long story short, Morgan was astounded by the story of Joseph Smith, for it reflected her own feelings. When we presented her with the first vision, her eyes filled with tears. She was smiling, grinning like she couldn't contain herself.

Sister Rapier