Tuesday, February 26, 2013

No Letter from Mom?

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kristen Owens
Date: Mon, Feb 25, 2013 at 11:25 AM
Subject: No letter from mom
To: carolyn owens

Dear Family,

Well I want to say thanks Father for writing me a letter :) It was good to hear from you :) Everyone else, you are all condemned. REPENT! I still love you.

Well, this week was pretty great! We had some great experiences. We set a date with one of our investigators (lil' tommy) for March 16th. His brother is getting baptized a week later. They are a great family. We just love them. We met some great people this week. I learned a lot. We met a man who had been taught previously in a different area from Liberia. His name is Tom and he is super solid. Came to church this past Sunday. He loves it. He is totally getting baptized next month. We decided to let the elders teach him and his family. They will do an excellent job. So our ward in March is going to increase A LOT! Between us, the elders, and the senior couple, we have about 7 baptisms planned I believe. Many people are coming unto Christ and it is the best. I love the blessings that come from the temple and living the gospel. I love the gift of the Holy Ghost. In Sunday School we heard an analogy--The Holy Ghost is like the sun. He's in one place, but His presence is felt everywhere :) That is so sweet!

Well this week was full of miracles. We met some wonderful people. We have 5 new investigators this week--craaaaazy. The elders had a baptism this week of a man who has done a complete 180 in his life. He completely turned his life around. He was living with a former mormon and they were planning on getting married. They went to visit her father and this man recognized something different in him. He asked what it was, the father said in two days you will have two missionaries knock on your door and then you will know. One thing led to another and on Friday this couple got married in the church and Saturday they were baptized members and sunday they were confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In a year from now, they will be sealed as a family for time and all eternity. It was incredible to witness the change in these two individuals. The Gospel Blesses Families. This I know and testify. That was pretty much the highlight of the week--a wedding, baptism and confirmation. pretty cool.

The more I am on my mission, the more I want to stay. I love the people here. I am so grateful for the lessons the Lord is allowing me to learn on this training for life. I love the gospel!! Although being a missionary is not easy, the blessings and testimony I am gaining is worth it. As I consider my future family, I will be forever grateful for this chance I have had to serve Him and learn how to become a more Christlike person. It's opened my eyes to what goals I want to accomplish, especially in terms of my family. There is no greater calling than being a missionary.....and then a mom :)

I just want to bear my simple testimony that I know this is the true church. I know Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. His message is one of hope and peace and enables us to improve our lives. I know people matter and we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father. Of all the names recorded for Diety, He asks us to refer to him as "Father." I know as we apply Christ's Atonement and teachings, our lives are blessed in every way. I know I can be with my family forever :) I know Joseph Smith did see God the Father and Jesus Christ. I know through him, the Book of Mormon was brought forth and translated by the power of God. I know it is scripture and I know it is true. I know through Joseph Smith, Christ called 12 apostles to establish and maintain His church. I know this church is the Lord's kingdom once again upon the earth preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah. There is no other name given whereby we can gain exaltation than through our Savior Jesus Christ. He has descended below us all and we are not greater than He. We have hope, we have peace, and we have joy because of Him. We are never alone :) I love you family, hope all is well. Send me some fun letters and I will forgive you for the drought. You are great. Thanks for your support and love.

  Sister Owens

Happy Valentines Day

Date: Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 12:24 PM
Subject: Happy Valentine's Day!

Hey family,

Those pictures are so cute of Lil' one :) I can't wait to meet him. And Other lil' one who should be coming out the womb as we speak! :) Congrats Colton and Megan! So it's Maddox and Madden? that's not confusing..at.all. Hopefully they don't look too similar :) Anyway, I love it. Our family is growing so quickly and time is going by so fast!

So this next month is MINNESOTA MARCH MADNESS! We are really striving to focus our work on our purpose of bringing souls unto Christ through building their faith, helping them repent, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. The process is so simple yet so hard sometimes. We had some great experiences this week. President challenged us to invite someone to be baptized each day which means teaching a restoration lesson each day to someone. We had an experience where we met a man and talked with him, he wanted to make some changes, we explained the Book of Mormon and read with him Alma 7:14-15 and invited him to be baptized. We had a lesson with him a few days ago and he is now getting baptized in April. He came to church, enjoyed it and is excited to learn more. We are really excited to teach him. The Lord is seriously so good and provides so many miracles every day. We had other great things happen this week as well. I have truly come to recognize how important this work is. My goal is to be like the sons of Mosiah and tremble at the thought of my brothers and sisters not accepting this message and being baptized as the Savior directs. There are so many people ready to make that change. It saddens me when people are too prideful to obey the spiritual promptings they feel.

We are working on asking inspired questions this week and really focusing on teaching to people's needs--really getting out that concern. Because everyone we are teaching has a reason for meeting with us, they are searching for something. We had a lesson with two of our investigators last week who we have been teaching for a few months. We've taught them pretty much everything, but they are still studying and trying to receive an answer. We finally asked them, why have you been meeting with us. one of the replied, we didn't know we were searching for something. "it started as an act of kindness to let you in from the cold and now we are here." They have begun a journey. We are giving them some time to study it out and really pray on their own for a while, they weren't really committing to anything. But, we have good feelings they will progress because they are reading and praying and trying to find out the answer. one of them takes notes on the gospel principles book and the Book of Mormon as she reads and prays. Very analytical. I still feel like there is more we can do though! We're hoping to get them to the wedding and baptism of a couple in our ward this weekend. The elders have been teaching them and they are amazing! It should be really great. But, the whole asking inspired questions is amazing! These people matter and they are searching for something they sometimes didn't know was there. We all want greater peace and joy in our life and what we have is what they need. The Atonement is real. The Plan of Salvation is true. It's our choice to accept it.

This last week was really great. We had many miracles happen and we are looking forward to many souls coming unto Christ in March. The ward is great and the mission is growing so much. We had a recently returned missionary speak on Sunday and he mentioned a lot about sacrifice. I have been trying to figure out what it is I can sacrifice to help the work progress more and have decided to give up my pride. It's bad.

We had great conferences this week and I learned so much from them. I love zone conferences. The spirit is so strong! President and Sister Clements are the best people I know (besides you mom and dad). They are such great examples to me and I am so lucky and blessed to have come to this mission with them. I love them. In zone conferences, Sister Clements gave a training on love languages and how we all receive and give love in different ways and how we need to recognize how our investigators, companions, and members feel and receive that love as well so we an let them know how much we care. I am not one to give my love to people easily--it's something I pray for constantly on my mission (charity), but it truly is how the Savior served and sacrificed. He loved and knew perfectly how to reach people. I am so grateful for his example. I love this work, I love this gospel and I am so grateful for the gift of repentance and forgiveness. and the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost. He loves us just as Christ and our Heavenly Father love us. We are all so imperfect, but all He asks is for us to do our best. Thanks for your great examples and love. I hope you know how much I love you and how much I miss you and how much I love you. You are each staples in my life. I could never do this without your support. I want everyone to have a happy family like I do! :) so cheesy, but so true. The Gospel Truly Blesses our Families. It's so simple.

Well gotta run! Love you all!

Sister Owens

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Muy Muy Bonita

Kristen Owens
Feb 11 (6 days ago)

to me
Hey Family,

As you can see the title of this letter is in spanish because.....I AM GOING TO BE A SPANISH MISSIONARY NOW!!! Totally kidding. My companion speaks 6 different languages and I think this past week we she used english, german, spanish, and French to speak to people! She is so awesome. I am making her teach me "I am a Child of God" in Albanian :) My only wish is to be a spanish missionary. I want to learn it so badly! Spanish people are so open to the Gospel! We had a neat experience where we were doing some finding and prayed (as usual--it's the best and always works!) we ended up only having about 30 minutes left of our night and we really wanted to teach and find new investigators. After the prayer we found a door with a picture of Christ knocking on it. A sweet Spanish woman opened the door and SIster Topi used her language skills and started talking with her. She let us in and we taught a little about the Restoration and Book of Mormon. she told us she had been worried about her teenage daughter lately and prays every night for her. We told her about the FTSOY and bore testimony of the amazing blessings of the gospel. We scheduled a return appointment and gave the referral to the spanish sisters :) She was the kindest lady and apparently in the closing prayer she thanked (in spanish) Heavenly Father for us knocking on her door and placing us in her path. She was so prepared and ready. And she has the CUTEST children in the world. That family is going to be an eternal one for sure. I love these miracles that happen all the time because it always renews a sense of purpose and faith. There are thousands out there ready to receive this message. I am constantly amazed. The Lord is aware of us.

Something I have been thinking as of late is how our experiences prepare us for more experiences. Our life is like a scaffold (if that is the right word). Our experiences build on each other and the people that are placed in our lives are for a reason. Each companion has come to me and taught me an important lesson at the exact time I needed it. The experiences have been so great. The people we meet each day have taught me a lot as well. I have had awesome experiences and not so awesome experiences, but I have learned from them. It's great.

Anyway, enough about me! I want to tell you about the amazing people we are teaching! We set a date for March 9th for one of our investigators. We had an awesome lesson with him. Our joint teacher and the spirit did all the work, we just sat, listened, bore testimony, and bam! In our last lesson with him we had planned on teaching the Plan of Salvation and focusing on the Atonement. Our joint teacher did an exceptional job talking about repentance and the Atonement and we decided to bring up baptism again. We read from Alma 7: 14-16 and talked about becoming new in Christ. He offers us a second chance, etc. Then Tim looked at us and said, "I've been thinking about March 9th and I think I want to do it." He said the fact it even crossed his mind was an indication to him of what he needs to do. I feel like we did nothing and the Spirit and our joint teacher did everything :) He is recognizing as he prays he is receiving answers. It's neat. We just need to teach him the importance of the commandments and he should be ready by then. We are really excited.He's been to church 5 times and loves it. He brought his 8 year old son twice. From the first time we met him to now, there is a huge difference in his eyes/countenance. He is looking brighter and is seeing the light! I love it! We have really focused on the Atonement with him because he has been through a lot and struggles with depression. But, his faith is increasing and he is recognizing the spirit. We are excited for him.

As for our other investigator (young man Tommy...) we are still trying to pin a date. He is patiently waiting for his older brother to prepare himself to baptize him. Tommy is awesome. He reads every day and sees a difference. We are excited for him :)

Other investigators are doing fairly well. We did a church tour with a couple we have been teaching and then they didn't come to church :( but, we are seeing them tonight and are really having a powerful commitment lesson :) BE LOVINGLY BOLD :) They need to get married and it is a hard thing for them to think about financially.... One of our other investigators has fallen off the face of the earth, we have not seen him in two weeks! we've stopped by, called, texted, had our fellowshipper call.... we're getting nervous... but, it will all work out. He was doing fairly well too! I'm trying to think of other investigators.....no one else is really progressing besides Tommy and the first man we talked about. But, I know this week is going to be a good one! We have New Missionary Training and Zone Conference and we are focusing on our purpose as missionaries! We are really striving to find new investigators and find the elect--those who will be committed and are searching for the truth :)
I read in PMG this morning where it says, "Nothing happens in Missionary work until you find people to teach" or something like that. How true it is :) we need to exert all our efforts to accomplish our goals this week and really strive to work effectively with members and investigators. My goal this week is to go to bed completely exhausted each night (which is usually the case, but even more so than I am now!) because I've exerted all my energies to complete the goals we set with the Lord!

Anyway, this is the Lord's work. My purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Or in other words, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man :) I know there is no other name nor any other way to gain salvation save in and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know as we live the first principles and ordinances of the gospel and continue to make covenants, we can receive "eternal bliss" and the "words of Christ" will "carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise." Alma 37:44-45 don't overlook the easiness of the way. Just "Look and Live" :) I love you my wonderful family :) hope you all have a great week!

  Sister Owens

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

My Companion is from ??????

Kristen Owens
Feb 4 (5 days ago)

to me
Hello Family,

I LOVE BEING AN AUNT! Madden is sooo cute I can't wait to meet him! :) Oh my goodness, thanks for the pictures I really appreciate it. Sister Wilson said you should send her the pictures next time because President Wilson's phone isn't as high tech :) and he's out of town, but thanks for sending them :) That is a crazy story! Nadine barely survived! And I bet Makena is a hoot with Madden. I am proud to be his aunt, he'll be an amazing priesthood holder one day :) The world needs more of them--hence two boys this month in our family :) nice.

So, first things first: my awesome new companion is Sister Topi. And she is from ALBANIA! Crazy no? She is soooooooo cool. She speaks 6 languages: Italian, German, Spanish, English, Albanian, and French. Anytime someone around us is speaking a different language I ask her what they are saying :) it's super great. She is an amazing person. I have never met a more spiritually in tune person before. She is so perceptive. Everything she says and does is so simple. She makes things so easy. She has such a strong testimony of Christ, the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and the Plan of Salvation. I have learned a lot from her already and it has only been 4 days. She joined the church in Albanian when she was 10 with her parents. They were sealed in the temple 5 years later. She has one younger sister. Her accent is great. Often times in lessons she asks me "What do they mean?" or "How do you say...?" She is the cutest. The words she uses are beautiful. She speaks so well from the scriptures and has such faith in the converting power of God's word. She always says, "lets share a scripture to make it convincable." and "this will ponder in their heart." I am so amazed and she has taught me to slow down and really reflect on the power of the Book of Mormon in teaching and relying on the Spirit and not my own knowledge.  She is awesome. She loves giving knuckles--after everything we do or say she smiles and reaches out her hand to do "stones" haha I love it! And she LOVES the people. She has such great faith. I really hope I can serve her well.

Investigators. We are teaching lil' man (12) and he is going to be baptized in the next month :) He is awesome. We are really excited for him. We have been picking up a lot of new investigators and trying to help them progress. It's been good so far. We have an investigator who came to church with his son yesterday. he suffers from a lot of things and we have been trying to help him understand the Atonement and repentance. We are trying to set a date for his baptism this week. We also had a great experience the other day: We had an appointment fall through and decided to knock on some apartment doors. Sister Topi said a prayer for us before we went inside (which was a miracle we got in because it was a lockout) and she asked for us to find 2 people that would let us come back. So we knocked on a few doors and didn't see much success, so we kept going. We found one man named Abiy from Ethiopia who we taught about the Book of Mormon. He seemed genuinely interested in reading and praying about it so we scheduled a return appointment for tonight with him. Then we said another prayer and looked at the names on the call box and one of them stood out to me. So we knocked on it...no one answered...so we knocked again, a little more firmly and a woman answered. At first she was a little hesitant, then we felt prompted to offer a prayer for her family and home (we didn't offer a blessing, just a prayer) but we asked who she would like to include in the prayer and she said her mom and grandma. Her mom had cancer. So we offered a prayer and the spirit really was there. When we finished the prayer we asked her how she felt and she said she felt so good and said "Thank you so much, that really helped." We taught her a little about the Restoration and our purpose as missionaries. She told us to come back and share more with her husband as well. We scheduled a return appointment and will be going back to share more. It was a neat experience to see the spirit work on this woman.

Let's see...what else is new? Just the work is going forth. This transfer we only had 2 sisters, next there will be 17. Crazy. We really are trying to refocus on going back to the basics and our purpose. It's great teaching people, but without inviting them to repent and be baptized, they really are going no where. Something our President said in his weekly letter was this:
   As I write this, we are enjoying the blessing of fasting and praying together as a mission.
   It’s my prayer today that each of us will understand with greater clarity and certainty our
   purpose as missionaries. “The purpose of the gospel is to cleanse people of their sins so
   they can receive the Savior’s mercy at the day of judgment.” 6 PMG. Our purpose as
   missionaries teach people how they can enjoy the Savior’s mercy. We invite, encourage
   and guide God’s children to take those actions that will bring about the cleansing from sin
   so they can receive the Savior’s mercy at the day of judgment. Those actions are faith in
   Jesus Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy
   Ghost. That is the process whereby we access the blessings of the atonement. There is no
   other way.
People must repent and be baptized or they will suffer at judgement day. Then he quoted Mosiah 28:3 "Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble." I was taking a look around the library just now and looking at all my brothers and sisters who do have not been baptized and confirmed. OH MY GOODNESS! There is so much work to be done! This is a huge responsibility! I literally want to stand up and start preaching or something. I have been thinking a lot about our calling as missionaries. We have been set apart as personal representatives of Jesus Christ. I am here to do as Christ would do, be as he would be, say as He would say. I must be sanctified and cleansed if I want that same power and authority the Sons of Mosiah have. I know repentance is real. We can be fully healed through the Atonement. The 12 year old boy we are teaching said it best when he said, the Atonement is like a band-aid. It heals us an sometimes scars are left but only to remind us never to make the same mistake again. The pain disappears and we are fully healed. All of the inhabitants of the earth need to be relieved of their burdens. They need this message.

I love you family, hope all is well. Thanks for the advice and prayers. I am so proud to call you my family. Please continue to pray for this area and our investigators. They are awesome.

  Sister Owens


Subject: Transfers...and....
To: carolyn owens <carolyndowens@gmail.com>

Hello Mom and the rest of the family I guess,

So yes, transfer calls came today and guess what??? I. AM. STAYING. whoop whoop! I love Medicine Lake. It really is the greatest :) Sister Taufer is leaving to go to Duluth which is way up north which is where she will freeze (she hates the cold) but she will be on campus working with great people and has a great companion :) I will be staying here and training again. I don't know why the Lord keeps doing this to me... ha I guess I must learn through repetition or something. But, I am really excited to get a new missionary. They are always full of faith and new ideas and we need new ideas here :) I do love this area though. The people are going to be so sick of me by the time I leave haha except several people have said, "You've been here a while now haven't you? 4 months?" ha! more like 8! But, why would I leave if I love it so much? :) Anyway, I am glad and grateful for this experience. I have learned a lot through training other missionaries--mostly what I need to change and each transfer and companion has been a unique experience. These letters are basically my journal so sorry if they get a little dry and are long.

We had a great Sunday yesterday at church! We challenged one of our recent converts to give a Book of Mormon away to his friend and he did then he brought that friend to church :) a youth in our ward brought two of his friends as well. And our part member family we are teaching came (mom-less active, son-non member, and other son who we are teaching). It was a great service as well. Many people brought their family and friends. There were probably about 12 or 13 non members there and most of them came from members inviting their friends! :) It's been cool to see member missionary work really take off. we did a missionary moment with the young women yesterday and challenged them to invite a friend to mutual or something else. So we will be following up this upcoming week and seeing how it is going. They are all so great! Good good examples and I just love them!

So funny story, the past three days we have had about 3 lessons scheduled per day and guess what? ALL of them fell through! It was the saddest thing and Sister Taufer and I just had to laugh--it was awful. haha But, I am so grateful we can still be happy and keep moving forward. The Lord has a plan for us each day and as we include Him and ask Him for direction and help, He provides it. Sharing the gospel is the best. Finding people who are open and willing to accept it is even better. Miracles happen every single day. Our ward is exploding right now with missionary work and it has been so cool to see it take place. The Stake is very good at coordinating the efforts and getting the members excited. We are really focusing on having 60% of our dinners with members include a recent convert, a less active member, or an investigator. It'll really be great to focus on that.

So I have been wanting to ask each of you for your experiences in living the commandments of the gospel. Mom, will you send me a faith building experience you've had with tithing? How did you come to know it's a true commandment? How have you seen it bless your life by living it? Also, I would love to hear your experiences and testimonies of the Plan of Salvation, the Restoration, and how prayer and scripture study have blessed your life? How did you come to know they were true, etc. I am trying to really broaden and increase my ability in teaching and I think sharing personal experiences are great, but also sharing other people's experiences are great as well.

How does missionary work in our stake? I am always so curious about it. We have a member who's daughter is serving in Salt Lake South and I am curious to know how it works there. nearly everyone is a member haha but, that would be a cool experience. I am excited for the babies to come! Lil' cuties. Well, I hope you have noticed a change in me mom, because sometimes I don't feel like I'm changing as quickly as I should be. The refining process is so interesting. But, I am grateful for the things I am learning about the gospel, how true conversion takes place, and more about the Atonement and how it works in my own personal life. If anything, I will come back more converted and ready to punch Satan in the face. I am excited for these next few transfers. We are getting lots and lots of missionaries! Areas are being opened up that haven't had missionaries for a long time!

Sister Wilson is probably getting sick of me staying in her home. She keeps saying, "You really need to experience more of Minnesota" haha I just laugh and ask "WHY?" I love it here. I can't imagine going anywhere else. Sometimes I get a little nervous I am going to get content, but then a curve ball is thrown and it all works out! :) haha I stretch everyday (both literally and spiritually) and grow so much! Please just keep praying for the people here and for us to have the energy and vision that He needs us to have. I know this is His work. I know the gospel is true. I know these things are true and because I know they are true I will keep my covenants and promises and live accordingly. Enduring is the hardest part I think, but if you rely on the Savior it's not so bad :) at all. I am grateful for the abilities and talents He gives to each one of us in order to help us build up His kingdom and consecrate our lives to Him. It's an incredible thing. We have the rest of our lives to learn and grow! wow.

Anyway, Sister Taufer is all done (as usual) and here I am blabbing on. I love you family, I know we can be together forever (cheesy I know) but I really am so grateful and blessed to know that. Keep being my amazing family. You are doing great things!

  Sister Owens

P.S. if all you boys who served missions could send me some of your most precious things you learned on your mission and also any more advice on how to be a successful missionary that would be great. Reflect and record and send it my way :) I love you!