Want to keep up with Sister Brown turned Lyndsi Bostwick?
Great, because I’m trying this blog thing again…
Want to keep up with Sister Brown turned Lyndsi Bostwick?
Great, because I’m trying this blog thing again…
The good news is– I’m not nearly as emotional as everyone (justifyably) seems to assume I am.
I feel that Heavenly Father is giving me a little extra attention during the last few weeks of my mission because He wants to make sure I am happy. He is really helping me and I feel great. He loves me!
We had another miracle baptism this week. She asked me to give my testimony afterwards. And then I got to speak in sacrament the next day after she recieved the Holy Ghost. I am so grateful for all these extra chances to vocalize all the feelings in my heart as I see people I love make covenants with God. I am so full of blessings I could just burst. Sometimes I think–How are there enough blessings left for everyone else?
It’s so interesting to set return appointments that I will not be at. And baptismal dates I will not come to. Brother Goodness’ family will be sealed in the temple. Meredith will prepare for her mission. Sister Patnode’s friend will learn the rest of The Plan of Salvation. Ita will be baptized. Glow will receive her endowments. The miracles keep rolling in. The work moves forward, even after I leave. I always thought this part would make me sad, but so far it is just beautiful to me.
The closing hymn in sacrament meeting yesterday:
“I’ll go where you want me to go dear Lord…”
It meant something different to me this time.
It may not be on the front lines of full-time missionary work here in California… but I’ll go where you want me to go. I’ll be who He wants me to be and receive the good that He would have me do.
I believe I can and I trust that I will never be alone again.
Love you like the plane ride home!
Kyo Watashiwa Kaoni Paiwo Ukemashita!
(Today I got pied in the face.)
I’ve always wanted for that to happen to me!
I love p-day activities!
I will just write a few things on account of I spent most of my time writing to Lacey and Mom and being trunked out of my mind!
We had a baptism this past week for Brother Goodness. He is the father of 4 children– the oldest is 14. His wife grew up in the church and his kids are all members and he’s finally ready! Can you say… eternal family? He was glowing! And smiling! And it was a huge deal because he doesn’t usually show his emotion but it was jut pourin out of him… because it’s the truth! He prayed about it and he finally knows. I love this. We are so lucky to be a part of it.
This week we have another baptism. She is one of my most favorite friends of my mission and her story is a miracle. She was found by some members and they basically saved her life spiritually and maybe even physically. She is overcoming fears left and right and is SO READY. I love this lady.
Who could ask for a better goodbye? Or for better companions or a better area or a better mission?
And who has had such a great mission and ALSO has such great things to come home to?
I am the luckiest girl alive!
I love this!
For a while now I’ve had a hard time about going home. I knew there are so many things to be excited about and I was excited, but mostly I was sad. BUT! I made a new goal on Saturday: Have an attitude of joy about going home. I wrote a plan in my journal of all the positive thoughts I could use to battle my sad thoughts. And I asked for a priesthood blessing and since then I’ve been doing much better.
I started going through my stuff today and have a pile to give away already! Be proud of me! I’m being a logical human about this and not letting my emotions rule my life!
Most of my letter today was responses to Mom but I think I have time to tell you a story from Stake Conference yesterday…
A member of the seventy, I think it was Elder Johnson, told a story about a woman who was shopping at an outlet store. I think it was his daughter…
She saw these beautiful wooden music boxes, hand carved on the outside and on the inside was a ballerina who twirled in front of a mirror while the music played. They were perfect and she knew her two daughters would love them at Christmas time. It was still a few months away but she decided to buy one for each of them. She stood for a moment debating which size to buy, and finally decided on two of the large boxes.
She was excited as she took her purchase to the register. She knew her daughters would cherish these boxes. But just before she got up to the counter, she remembered it was her neice’s birthday in a few weekends, and she would need to pick out a present for her. She quickly went back to the music boxes and picked out one of the small ones.
That night as she put her daughters to bed, she told them she’d brought home a present for their cousin’s birthday. They asked what it was and before she could finish explaining, the youngest burst into tears. She was about 3 years old. “But you can’t give her that!” she said. “That’s what I’ve always wanted!” She asked if she could see the box.
Her Mother showed it to her and she was distraught. It was so beautiful and it wasn’t for her. Her tears were sincere. She tried to pull herself together for a good half hour– but couldn’t seem to stop crying. This was all a little comical for her mother, who knew what was in store for her in only a month or so. “Don’t worry,” she said. “You never know, you might get a music box for Christmas or your birthday, maybe even a better one!”
“But this one is perfect,” she sobbed.
“It’s beautiful… there isn’t a better one…”
Elder Johnson explained that this is how it works when we battle for our will over God’s will. We are often distraught with our present circumstances, especially when we compare our lives to our friends and neighbors. But Heavenly Father has something in store for all of us, experiences and lessons and even gifts that he has specifically selected for us because he knows us and he knows what we need.
I know the principles in this story are real. I can already see how my experiences have built on one another perfectly. Before and during my mission, he has always sent me what I need, often times more that what I need, and in the best timing. Sometimes I wasn’t yet strong enough to hold all the gifts I was asking for, and he had to prepare me first. Overall, I feel like I’ve already received my music box. And I’m still so young! I can’t imagine all the things that must be in store for me, but I trust that they are still perfect.
I had so much to tell you before I read my e-mails, but now that I have my mind is filled with other things and it’s hard to know what to say…and I have about 20 minutes.
We have so many miracles going on. Miracles you can measure in number, like baptisms coming up and tons of lessons being taught…and then we have miracles you can just feel-in our companionship and in the countenances of our people. These are miracles you could never quantify.
I love my mission so much.
I love my companions.
I have so much desire in my heart to really understand the people here and help them find what they need.
I have a great love for listening to people.
I love listening.
Even more than I love talking.
I’ve been thinking lately about something I learned when I lived in The Connexsh at BYU with the girls.
We had this plant in our kitchen– the kind that hangs from the ceiling in a bowl and the branches kind of pour down over the sides. It was beautiful and belonged to Sarah’s sister who was a botanist.
But the plant got lonely when we all went home for Christmas break.
No one watered it and by the time we all came back it was withered and dry.
But no one took it down. Maybe because we were sad. Or busy. Or just not worried about it.
I kept my eye on it though– me and that plant had a special attachment.
I’d water it from time to time—just in case…and one day I came in the kitchen and cast my usual glance in its direction…and it was flowering! It’s colors were back!
I called Sarah in. “Look! Look what the plant’s doing! It’s not dying anymore!
“Oh it’s still dying” she said “my sister taught me about this.”
She explained that, for the past few weeks, the plant had gone into somewhat of a survival mode.
It withered and dried and stored up its energy so that just before it dies, it can exert all of its energy stores to produce flowers for new seeds. It will leave the seeds behind.
I’ve been thinking about that lately because when you’re nearing the end of your mission, people say you’re “dying.”
I hear this all the time.
And you know what? It really does feel like I’m dying in a way.
Because I know I’m never coming back.
Of course I’m coming back to California and I’m keeping all the people I love…
but I’ll never be a full-time, black-tag, young sister missionary again.
It will never be the same.
Being a missionary is hard. It has to end eventually or I’d never make it.
But I sure do love it. I have really, really loved it.
At times I have felt withered and dried, like I hadn’t had any nutrients in a while and I needed someone to come and water this mess. So often, especially in those moments, I’ve wanted to burst forth and send forth all my colors and all my love and all my testimony.
These days I am up for the challenge.
Sister Stewart is helping me make sure that my mission lives on even after I go.
I love her and I love this feeling.
Last night we had comp inventory. It goes something like this…
Talk about your individual goals and how you can help each other achieve them.
Set companionship goals so you can serve each other better and progress together.
Say what you love about each other.
Say how you can improve.
We sat on our 3 beds– which are squished up side-by-side next to each other so that they’ll all fit in the bedroom. (I love that because it reminds me of my college apartments.) I’m hugging my pillow with the smiley face pillow case that Sister Mix’s Mom made for me for Christmas. And we’re all in our pajamas talking about how great it is to be together. And how hard it is. And all our hopes for each other in the next few weeks. It was beautiful. I got to express some fears and thoughts that I haven’t spoken or even written about yet. It felt so good. And I even cried, which actually also felt good.
Watching Sister Stewart reaches me. I get teary-eyed every day with her here, literally. Not out of sadness… usually out of love. I overflow with love. Love for her or for what she’s expressing. Love for the Book of Mormon or for prayer, for Heavenly Father’s plan, for our investigator or for families or the healing power of Christ. I’ve missed being this way. I feel very awake and alive and inspired. I feel things deep down in my heart instead of just on the surface. Before my mission I always felt things deep down. But so often on my mission I seem to subconsciously retract from that. Probably because it’s hard to be so passionate 24/7– at least outwardly. But it’s me! So I’m glad I’m back to my enthusiastic, emotional, high-energy huge-love self lately. Sister Stewart wakes me up.
She tries harder than any other new missionary I’ve known. Even though she’s the only new missionary I’ve known who is not a native English speaker. And her influence is amazing. I’ve never seen investigators listen to a missionary the way they listen to her. I’ve never seen members soften the way they do when they speak with her. Every where she goes she inspires people. And she inspires me. I know she trusts Heavenly Father to help her. I know she will learn this language and I know her intentions for being here are pure. She makes me better.
Sister Stewart studied architecture in Japan. Before she came here she worked in an office designing houses. I know she is smart. I know there is so much depth and intelligence behind her beaming face. There are so many thoughts and ideas and feelings she can’t show to me. I love them and revere them, even without communicating about them.
A few times this week she had an especially hard time with English. Once we were in comp study and she busted out in a frustrated flurry of Japanese and explained the whole apostasy. Then she went back and made each sentence into English one step at a time. It was fascinating. Another time in language study she was laying on her stomach, miming with her hands and trying to summarize a verse in English but she couldn’t get much of anything out. Eventually she put her face in her scriptures and cried really soft for a few minutes. Then she sat up. “It’s okay. I think I can do it now.” I wish you could see it.
We look out for reasons to have celebration parties when she’s bummed. One night we got ice cream and bananas and strawberries on the way home and then we made chocolate sauce and got out the peanut butter and granola and made THE best sundaes this world has ever seen. Another time we ran around the apartment yelling “You did it! You’re great! Yeahhhhh!” after she taught us about the apostacy, the restoration, and theBbook of Mormon all by herself. Sometimes she throws her hands in the air and says “YESS!” I love that.
Her words come slow and disheveled but they are strung together by the spirit in such a way that they cannot be denied or confounded. She is a pure vessel. I believe in her like I’ve never believed in any other missionary. I hope I always know her.
Here are a few golden moments from comp inventory:
“You make fun. And speak soft. I like.” –Sister Stewart on Sister Mix.
Sister Mix is really good at making things fun. My bike has a flat tire right now so I ride Sister Mix’s bike and she rides one we borrowed. The one we borrowed has a honky horn and a ringing bell. I always want Sister Stewart to ride in the middle so we can make sure she’s okay. For the first few days I always rode in the back so I could know they were both safe. But Sister Mix hates being in front, so she asked if I would lead. Except I’m still so bad with directions I don’t know where to go! And she can’t yell it to me because she’s all the way behind Sister Stewart! So she made a system where the ringing bell means go right… and the honky horn means left. We look and sound ridiculous in this sketch town full of vagabonds. Three girls on bikes, in skirts, honking their horns. But it works and we laugh every time! And Sister Mix doesn’t have to worry about mixing up her right and left anymore!
And Sister Mix does speak softly. She is good at being gentle in general and that is really good for Sister Stewart. I knew what she meant when she said that. I hope Sister Mix did too.
This is what she said about me.
“You speak bold. When you speak, there are no lies. No doubts. So I know I can trust when you speak. So when you speak good of me I feel: ‘Wow. I am special.’ You are great trainer.”
I love little Stewy. Can you tell yet? I could just burst.
I have so many more stories for you but it’s time to go.
I love p-day. We did our laundry at Sister Herle’s and she helped me make a cover for my last mission journal. Isn’t she great? It was her idea.
Now we’re at the family history center and everyone is crowding around Sister Stewart so she can write japanese characters in their planners.
She’s the coolest missionary we know.
And Sister Mix and I get to be with her EVERY DAY!
Sister Stewart went to the MTC with a bunch of other missionaries who were also learning English.
They were together for 9 weeks.
Her companion was from Russia! She only spoke Russian. And Sister Stewart only spoke Japanese.
Can you imagine? They couldn’t even talk to each other at first.
The funny thing is that Sister Stewart came out of the MTC knowing several phrases in Russian, Spanish, and Chinese, Tongan, etc…
When she met Elder Arietta, from Mexico, she walked right up and said “Como esta? Dios es nuestro padre celestial!”
(How are you? God is our loving Heavenly Father!)
“My Father is from California,” she says.
“That’s why I have American name and big nose.”
She points to her tag and then her face.
Between the 3 of us, there is a lot of gesturing and explaining and the whole thing is like one big day of charades.
She is so diligent. She keeps a notebook of words she doesn’t understand and throughout the day she’ll ask us about them.
“What is hang-out?”
It means spend time together. Like “Let’s hang out Sister Stewart!”
“What is disembark? And flashmob?”
What?! Where did you hear those? We’ll explain them but don’t memorize those. They are dumb words.
“Oooooh. Dumb words. Is dumb the same as stupido?”
Yes but stupio is spanish. Sister Escobar said that today because she switches between spanish and english.
Sister Stewart says this all day.
And then at lunch she’ll ask questions and practice and take notes.
And then again when we get home at night– until it’s time for bed.
She never gives up.
And she is very brave! She talks to strangers every day.
“Hello, I am Sister Stewart. From Japan.”
Last night we had her make a phone call.
It was just to a member who had a simple question. At the end the member clapped for her.
Good job Sister Stewart! You did so great!
She recognized her voice because at church yesterday the Bishop called Sister Stewart up to bear her testimony.
She had barely been in the field for 4 days.
“When I go back Japan, I think I can do anything,” she says.
“Everything we do here is scary.”
Sister Stewart didn’t learn English from her Father growing up.
“Well… just little,” she says.
She didn’t know about Jesus Christ either, except a little from a history book at school.
When she was 13 her dad passed away.
After that, the missionaries came to her house.
“They taught us about Jesus Christ and the church and that God has a plan for all of us,” she says.
She went to church with her Mom and her two younger brothers until she was about 15.
After that, her family got busy and stopped going to church.
So Sister Stewart would ride her bike and go by herself about once a month.
When she was 18, she met a friend that helped her come every week.
As she grew stronger in the gospel, she wished her family would become active again.
One day, in the temple, she felt the spirit assure her that if she went on a mission, her family would come back to church.
“And now I am here,” she says.
Sister Stewart is 22 and her birthday is in February.
Her brothers are 20 and 17.
She is a champ. Her first night we went to eat with a Latino family.
Super spicy chili rellenos.
She ate it all and drank LOTS of Kool-Aid to help.
“Trying new food is fun,” she says.
Sometimes she looks up at the sky while she tries to find her words.
“I like guessing words in English. It’s fun!”
When she speaks, people listen.
Members, investigators, strangers…. even the little kids quiet down.
I can always feel the spirit so strong in her humble words.
I wish Sister Stewart could teach the whole lesson.
She is inspiring me in every category of my life.
My whole mission is changing.
I love you! Wish I had more time!