Monday, October 28, 2013

The Refiners Fire

Okay, this is a quick one. I'll send more updates on "events" another week...
Onto the important stuff...

Well transfer calls came on Saturday.
I'm in. Jorgensen's out.
SAD day for me.
I know it's for the best. And I'm SO grateful for the transfers we've had together. We've helped each other through a lot of hard times. And spent a lot of fantastic, miraculous and unforgettable times together. I can't ask for much more than that.
It's definitely time for Sister Jorgensen to experience something new. She's been in Midwood for the past 4 transfers... this is where she started her mission, and now she's ready to go spread her wings.  Midwood- Spanish is hard. It just is. Simple as that. And I am so grateful she will be able to see that it's different other places.
Now. Don't misunderstand me. There is joy to be had here. And I love Brooklyn so much. I've loved the time I've spent here. But sometimes it's really easy to feel like you're not making a bit of difference. There have been many occasions where I've wondered why. Why? Why did you bring me here? Who is benefiting from this? Why did you cut me down so early?
And then I remember. I remember something I watched in that moment when I wondered if 18 months of full time missionary service was really something I could do. I was waiting for my mission call and feeling quite hopeless....
"I am the gardener here. And I know what I want you to be."
Please click the link for a Mormon Message
Thank you for loving me enough to hurt me.
Sometimes in life, we are that current bush. We feel like we've grown up and we've got it made... or at least like we're "good enough". But He doesn't want you to be "good enough". He has something better in mind. He's the gardener.  He knows what he wants us to be. He understands what we are capable of.
So whether you're a missionary in Midwood about to get a new companion and scared out of your mind... or you're a mom struggling with your wayward child, or a father who's out of work and have no idea how you're going to take care of your family... whoever you may be... just remember. You're gonna make it. He knows how strong you are. And you needed to be cut down in order to become what you have the potential to become. Growing pains suck sometimes. But when you look back one day and see where you came from it will all be worth it.
Just keep going. There is hope, and you're here for a reason!
Love Always and Forever,
Hermana Franklin

This is a picture of the Sunset in Far Rockaway that we got to see yesterday at the Hurricane Sandy commemoration!

Monday, October 21, 2013

From People Who Love You!

Alright, this week had some serious ups and some serious downs.
Found a couple of new investigators who are SUPER awesome. Finding investigators in Midwood is a rarity in and of itself so super, awesome investigators is extra special.

We had President's Interviews this week. WOW. My mission president is easily the best there is. I'm sure every missionary says that. But mine really is. Haha. He is such a good teacher and he is SO inspired. He is a master of following the spirit. There were things he said to me that I know were not his own words. It's always an amazing experience to be with him.

Temple trip!! I love the temple so much. I forgot how much I love it. It's been roughly 7 months since I've been inside a temple so that was just great. It was also my first time seeing the new temple presentation. SO BEAUTIFUL. The old presentation will always hold a very sacred place in my heart, but man, that was just incredible. And it was such a special blessing that I got to go with my Companion! That doesn't usually happen.
I finally let go of my pride and asked for a Priesthood blessing to get some inspiration about a few things I've really been struggling with. Best thing I could have done. Don't know why I waited 8 months to ask.

I encountered my first thieves. Yes, that monumental moment in a missionary's life.
Here's the story. It's a good one.
Zones 1,2,3 (I'm in Zone 2) gathered in Midwood for what we call a Mega-Blitz... All the missionaries of these zones divide and conquer to put a dent in the Midwood 1st Ward's list of over 750 lostless active members. As the companionships began arriving from the different zones it was like a big family reunion of missionaries in the foyer. I set my bag down on one of the classic LDS chapel, floral couches and started socializing with all the missionaries I had formerly served with. Yay! When they asked us all to migrate to the chapel to get started with companion assignments and an opening prayer, I went... Leaving my stuff behind in the foyer. Found out that I would be Blitzing with my trainer! Sister van Langen! What a lucky day! After the "opening exercises we grabbed our list of names, map, and my bag and headed off on our adventure.
We had a grand ol' time and a lot of success! We decided to celebrate by going to Dunkin' Donuts and get ourselves a pumpkin doughnut on our way back to the church. "My area, my treat!" I said, pulled out my wallet to pay for our victory feast and EMPTY. GONE. EVERYTHING GONE. (Well not everything... they left my library card and my driver's license because I secretly hide my driver's license behind my library card! Ha! Take that thief! .... oh. oops looks like I just revealed my secret hiding place. Haha.) I was so confused. HOW did someone get into my bag, unzip the zipper, take the wallet out and empty it and put the wallet back without me noticing?? Is anyone really that good??
We headed back to the church to start making all the necessary phone calls... you know, all that really annoying junk you have to deal with to cancel credit cards.
Greatest part of the whole experience got to call and hear my mom's voice for 4 minutes. So, that's why this experience is in the "ups" column. :) Thanks Thieves!
So to wrap this story up we got back to the church and discovered the truth about what actually happened. When I left my stuff in the foyer and all of us were in the chapel two men came in and took whatever they could find. My unattended bag with a wallet in it was just fresh meat. Two Elders left the "opening exercises" for a drink of water, spotted them leaving the building and approached them. When they asked if they could help them find something, they said, "No, we're just wondering what time church is." They left very quickly and awkwardly and insisted that was the only reason they came into the church. Hmm... Well. Now it all makes sense.
People. Don't leave your stuff out for people to come steal from you. Even when you're ironically in the house of the Lord. Haha. Lesson learned.
Now the major "down" about all this was that I was going to be the one supplying the money for groceries, laundry and other temporal needs for the remainder of the month. Since the office is closed on weekends and the senior missionary couple in charge of finances are getting ready to depart it wasn't looking like I'd get reimbursed for the money I had lost. At least, not for a few days. What were going to do about buying food for the next couple days when we had 2.62 cents to our name? Haha.
Well. The Lord always provides a way. As we were discussing our dilemma late last night there was a knock on our apartment door. When I opened it there was no one there... only an envelope hanging from the door frame on dental floss... inside was a note with 5 words on it. "From people who love you" along more than enough  money to buy us groceries, send a box and do laundry.
The message I would like to share today is that The Lord knows. He always knows. He will always put people in your path and send you angels of kindness to help you out when you're down. So, trust in Him. The "downs" will always be followed by an "up"!
Love you all!

Be safe out there, and don't leave your wallet lying around... I'm sure you all know that.
Sorry about that short bus moment, Dad.

Hermana "Grateful" Franklin
Graciela's Baptism -- Happiest Day!

Current Midwood District                                             
At the Manhattan Temple with Sister Jorgensen    

 Old Midwood District

Happiness with Sister Jorgensen

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Best of Times!

Well... I can honestly say I'm the happiest I've ever been.

The Lord is so good to me.

I'm not really sure where to begin... There's no way I'll be able to describe EVERYTHING that has happened in the last few days. But I'll start with this:
A while ago I was feeling particularly selfish and a little down in the dumps. It was my first day back on Facebook after an eight month absence and I can't say I had a super great attitude about it. Having my whole home life right there in front of my eyes was kind of a huge slap to the face... just a bit of a shock. The world had indeed gone right on without me. My RM friends had warned me of this... and I knew that this realization would be had at some point. (However, I thought it would be around the time I stepped off the plane to come home. Haha. Wrong again.) But nonetheless I started to worry... And asked myself some "dumb" questions (something I highly discourage anyone from doing)... Such as, " Am I where I need to be?" "Has everyone forgotten me?" "Am I even making a difference here?" "Will I ever learn how to use Facebook effectively?" "Does anyone love me?".... Well, that night I went home and actually asked God these very questions.
In the last three days I got very much a "NOW do you see?? Oh ye of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" kind of answer.

It started with Aurelia...a sweet little lady from Mexico. She came to English Classes and has interest in learning more about coming to our church services and learning about our beliefs! Plus, she already has friends who are in our ward, how perfect is that! Cool thing to note about her is that if you saw the Instagram photo of me and my comrades street contacting with lemonade, she is the woman that I'm talking to in the picture. Lesson learned! Talk to everyone! You never know who might listen to you!

The next day we taught a lesson to Jeremiah and Rosie and Rosie's husband Eddie. Sister Jorgensen gave an INCREDIBLE, inspired lesson. Everyone was in tears! Eddie informed us that he would be coming to church for the first time in more than 6 months. The whole family would be there together, finally!! However, it broke my heart when I saw the look on Sister Jorgensen's face when she realized we wouldn't be there on Sunday to see it. We had planned to attend the baptismal service of Graciela in Woodside. Sister Jorgensen had been working with this family for her entire mission, and had never seen them ALL at church together. And now I was going to make her miss it. She reassured me many times that she was more than happy to go to the baptism with me and she was not about to let me stay home for her sake. But I still felt bad. I lost quite a bit of sleep over it that night.

Came to find out the next day that my district leader, Elder Erickson (the saint that he is) (apparently, it was Elder Goates' idea to begin with.. He's a saint too) went ahead and arranged an exchange with the English ward sisters so that I could go to the baptism in Woodside with Sister Freeze, and Sister Jorgensen could stay here in Midwood with Sister Blosil to be with the Castro Family and our THREE investigators who planned to come to church. WHAT A BLESSING. We both would got to go to our respective Events!
Sunday morning is one I will never forget. All four of us Sisters went to the Midwood English ward's sacrament meeting.. as that was the only one Sister Freeze and I would be able to make it to. We sat down and as it neared 9:00am people/families just kept coming and coming and COMING. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The ENTIRE chapel was filled by the time services started... and MORE people continued to walk through the doors. There were people who stood in the back due to lack of seating. I just wept at the sight of it all. I hadn't experienced anything like this in the 8 months I've been out. A chapel full of families AND investigators?? Don't misunderstand me, I love the wards I've served in and I'm not saying "they're not good enough" it's just different serving the Spanish speaking population. Very different. I realized then that our missions are just assigned and MEANT for US. Everything about where/who we serve is catered to help us learn as we need to. It was the first time I had been to a sacrament meeting in English in 8 months... first time hearing the sacrament prayers in English. I just couldn't stop crying because I could understand EVERYTHING. I forgot how that felt.
It was their fast and testimony meeting due to conference, and let me tell ya, that was NO coincidence. A few sisters got up and shared experiences and testimonies that I absolutely needed to hear and needed to understand in my own native tongue. Such a blessing. This meeting was an answer to my prayer in and of itself.

After sacrament meeting Sister Freeze and I went to Woodside for the baptism. On the train ride there I started to feel a little uneasy... "Will they even remember my name?" I started to ask myself more dumb questions.... DUMB. Haha.
As I walked down the stairs into the baptismal room I heard a, "Sister Franklin's back!!". What a tearful reunion it was. Haha. So many hugs! I saw Graciela all dressed in her white jumpsuit and we just hugged and cried some more. Haha.
Hermano Hidalgo approached me before the baptism and he said, "I hope you know that all of this that you see here has been possible because of the foundation you laid while you served here." It was amazing to see how much the ward has changed. SO many people I used to teach are now attending church and even have baptismal dates. It really was an incredible moment. I felt complete peace. I KNEW that the last 8 month have NOT been wasted... In fact they had truly been the best 8 months of my life. Definitely not the easiest, but the best.

The baptism was beautiful!

I just want you all to know that God truly answers prayers. He hears you. Even when you ask him dumb questions. Haha. He will always let you know he's there. Whether it's in an obvious way, like it was for me this week or in a quiet way. He'll tell you!


Hermana Franklin

Monday, October 7, 2013

Conference Weekend

Dear Family and Friends,
Hello everyone! This week was SO good. So many good things happening in Midwood!
I don't know what happened to our ward but a lot of people are jumpin' on board with the missionary work thing. A few people brought their friends for Conference... it was fantastic!

I ABSOLUTELY loved conference. I hope everyone else did too.
It's crazy that one year ago I was given the opportunity of a life time. I found out I could serve a mission without waiting to turn 21! And here I am today. I can remember that moment as if it was yesterday. I think that Saturday morning conference session was the mutual answer to thousands of prayers. Seeing as the numbers in the missionary force have grown SO MUCH.

Incredible. I can't really remember what I pictured life would be like as a missionary on that day... I know I must've had something in mind.... Regardless of what it was, I know I didn't picture THIS. Haha. It's so much better than I could've imagined! Life is just great. It's hard. But it's great.

What was everyone's favorite talk? I can't say I really had a favorite. I just loved them all. I must say... Elder Christofferson really nailed it. WOW! What an inspired talk. I know I needed to hear it. I'd submit that EVERYONE needed to hear that.

The confusion surrounding the topic of gender roles and the value of womanhood is simply raging right now. We see it everywhere. And well, quite frankly I've never really been good at discussing this particular topic without getting angry. As a young teenager I always had views on womanhood and motherhood that were slightly different from the majority of latter-day saint women. Quite honestly, I never wanted to be married or have children and the constant reminder that being a wife and a mother was the greatest thing I could do this life in Young Women class just made it less and less appealing to me for some reason. That sounds ironic, but those of you who know me know exactly what I'm talking about.

But I'd say that since those days I have learned a lot about the specific divinity of women and I've grown to love and really respect my calling and my duty as a woman. It is my duty and privilege to defend virtue, to defend purity, and to defend all sacred things of God. As women we are given unique attributes... that of compassion, tenderness and softness of heart that enable us to stand for righteousness by nurturing others. Is that not the job of a mother? Are we not all mothers? As Sheri L. Dew once said, Motherhood is not bearing children...though that is a grand part of it. Eve was named by Adam and by God the Father as Eve, "the mother of all living" long before she bore children. We were foreordained to mother the children of God. I'm so grateful that we as women have the abilities and strengths that we do. We have so very much to offer the world!-- as wives, as mothers, as missionaries, and as church members. The Lord has given us a sacred trust, he has shown how much potential we have BY giving us that sacred trust. He trusts us to teach, nurture, and care for the children that are HIS. SO I would declare God would not give such a great responsibility to some creature whose only purpose in life is to be "sexy". NO. We were born to help our Father to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL CALLING.

THANK YOU Elder Christofferson.
I hope you all learned great a deal! I sure did!
I wish everyone a happy October and I hope everyone is well!
LOVE, Sister Franklin

Beehive from Midwood teaching me how to make rubber band bracelets.  They are all the rage.

A picture of me rockin' the work at a Lemonade Stand.  Someone found it on Instagram and sent the link.