Saturday, August 29, 2015

Contact Sister Zimmerman

While I'm on my mission, there will be varying addresses you will be able to contact me at. For the first 6 weeks of mission, starting September 2, you will be able to send me snail mail or packages at the MTC, so here's the address for that:

Sister Teal Alena Zimmerman
OCT21 PHI-CAV
2005 N 900 E Unit 136
Provo UT 84602

Once I've arrived at in the Philippines, you can send me letters to my mission office! This is will be an address you can always write to, but I will eventually get an address where I'll live, and you'll probably be able to send me mail there as well. Here's the address for the mission office:

Finally, my mission is provided with something called pouch mail.  What I surmising is that you take a single sheet of paper (or postcard), write your lovely thoughts in it, fold it in on itself, and then send it to Salt Lake with a single U.S stamp on it.  Here are the instructions as described in my call packet: 

GENERAL POUCH MAIL INSTRUCTIONS
The Church provides much mail service to your mission.  Items sent by pouch mail use the United States Postal Service (USPS) from your location to Church headquarters, where they are forward to the missionary by a private courier along with other church mail.  Pouch mail leaves Church headquarters each Friday.  Items received after the pouch has been sent will be held for the next week.  Only postcards or one-page correspondences (no envelopes) written on one side of the page may be sent through the pouch.  Notebook or other light-weight paper will not process through the ISPS machines.  Photographs are not acceptable.

Pouch mail may also be used by missionaries to send letters home to the United States or Canada.  Letters sent by the missionary through pouch mail are given to the mission office and require United States first-class postage. When the letter arrives in the U.S, it will be sent via USPS from Church headquarters to its destination.  Stamps will not be provided at Church headquarters. Letters without postage will be returned to the sender, or discarded if a sufficient return address is not included. Letters should be addressed with a complete United States or Canadian address.

Items restricted from the pouch may be send through the USPS or a private courier.  Cash is not accepted for conveyance by any courier.  Please consult with the USPS or the courier of your choice to determine allowable items, as they will vary by delivery location.

INSTRUCTIONS ON FOLDING YOUR POUCH MAIL
Lay the letter blank side down.  Fold the bottom of the letter about one-third of the way up the page and crease.  Fold the top of the letter to the bottom of the first fold and crease.  Secure the long side with two pieces of tape about one inch (2.5 centimeters) in from each end, but do not seal the ends.  Write your name and complete return address in the top left corner.  Affix first class postage in the top right corner.  In the middle, write the missionary address.

SISTER ZIMMERMAN'S POUCH MAIL ADDRESS

Sister Teal Zimmerman
Philippines Cavite Mission
POB 30150
Salt Lake City UT 84130-0150

Every week, I will send an email, describing my weekly adventures and activities, and my Mom will post it on this blog.  I will, of course, respond to individual emails as well.

I look forward to hearing from all of you!  Please keep in touch, and tell me about how life goes on for you all!

I love all of you, and I am so excited to begin this mission!

Here it goes, the start of the best 18 months of my life.

 Love,
 Sister Zimmerman 




Monday, August 24, 2015

Sister Missionary Farewell Talk

Here is the talk that I got to give in my Young Single Adult branch, and my family/home ward.  I was nervous as I sat on the stand both times, but I wasn't scared. I felt such peace once I started speaking. I pray to speak with plainnes, just like Nephi. 

 Something about giving my talk hits me though. I think that giving the farewell talk is just something that marks the end of life as you currently know it, because after THAT talk, you get set apart as a missionary, you head off to the MTC, and so much starts to happen really fast.

I got the idea for the introduction (the first two paragraphs) for my talk from another Sister missionaries blog, but the rest is coming straight from the heart!

I hope you enjoy my talk on missionary work, and helps you with whatever you may need encouragement in. 💖


Hi, I’m Teal Zimmerman, soon to be Sister Zimmerman.
I have chosen to serve as a full time missionary for the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints.  I will serve for 18 months, and I have been assigned to labor in the Cavite Philippines Tagalog speaking mission. 

My purpose as missionary will be 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 Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”

Invite being a pivotal word here.  As missionaries, we are to teach the gospel and invite others to partake.  I will hopefully be blessed with opportunities to really SHOW the great blessings and hope that the gospel brings, and INVITE them to choose for themselves.  As missionaries, we do not ever force anyone, or try to tell them that their religion doesn’t mean anything.  Our jobs are to introduce, reexplain, and plant seeds of the true and living words of God.

We are all missionaries.  Some of us choose or follow priesthood duty and serve full time missions far away from family, friends and distractions.  We leave to dedicate what seems like a significant amount of time to JUST missionary work.  But regardless if we leave on these full time missions, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t all missionaries.  In any given ward or branch, the missionaries in the room aren’t the just the ones with the black name tags.

As missionaries, and now I think you understand that I am referring to all of us, it is, as previously stated, our job to plant seeds of truth everywhere we go with everyone we come in contact with.  This may sound like some great feat, that cannot be accomplished because of circumstances or personality, but I know from personal experience that it is completely possible.  Everyday, at any given moment, you have opportunities to share the gospel.  Let me be honest explain that I did not always have a desire to share the gospel, in fact, whenever there was ever a talk or lesson about missionary work, I’m ashamed to say, that I would usually tune it out. 

 I had a hard time paying attention because I was not ready to make any promises to the Lord about missionary work, and I certainly wasn’t going to go about and ASK for missionary experiences like these talks and lessons challenged us to do!  To be honest, I was literally afraid of praying for those missionary opportunities because I DID NOT want to share the gospel because I was so afraid of people making fun of me, negatively judging me, or worse, rejecting me.  This church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ have been such a huge and important blessing in my life, that I couldn’t even stand the idea of someone not desiring the that same blessing.  I did not want rejection.

Then something changed in me.  I attended EFY, which for those who do not know, stands for Especially For Youth, and is basically a youth summer camp for LDS kids.  It’s a really spiritual and uplifting week that has blessed my life a lot. At this EFY, I attended a class that I didn’t want to go to, that had to do with missionary work.  I sat down in this class, getting ready to stare blankly at the wall, zone out all the “share with your friends” challenges and get a good rest in.  But then, they caught my attention.  

Two young counselors acted out a silly skit where one was drinking orange juice and one wasn’t.  The young women drinking orange juice looked like she was really enjoying her OJ, and her friend was saying things to her like “That looks like really good orange juice!”, and “Gee, that looks like it’s refreshing!”. To which the young women would reply, “Yeah, it’s great, but, you know, I don’t know if you really want any so, yeah, I won’t force that offer on you.” and would take a sip and look at her friend who clearly desired a glass of orange juice.  Anyway, this went on for a couple minutes, the young women drinking her juice and her friend dropping little curious hints to see if she could share in the delicious drink.  At the end of the skit, the young women finally blurts out “WOULD YOU LIKE A GLASS OF ORANGE JUICE?” and her friend replies with “YES! I’ve just been waiting for you to ask!”.  Obviously, this is a really silly skit, and probably translates better in action than how I am explaining it, but I think you are getting the general idea.

This little skit caught me off guard because I had never before realized that sharing this wonderful gospel that I love so much, could be EASY!  I had never even considered the fact that MAYBE, just MAYBE my friends and family and coworkers might be interested in this wonderful gift.

After this eye opening experience, many more similar experiences followed.  Looking back, I can see the Lord’s hand in all of it.  The right teacher, the right lesson, at the right time, preparing my heart to be softened and teachable, so that I might be able to share with others.

I’ll share the story of the first time I really shared the gospel with anyone.  Remember when I said I never wanted to pray for a missionary experience like we are often challenged to do?  I was afraid to pray for an experience because I KNEW that Heavenly Father would hear me and I KNEW that He would give me that experience.  So, I remember kneeling down, all shaky, and timidly asking Heavenly Father to give me a missionary opportunity, and if there was anyone in my path that might need encouragement, that I might be able to give it to them. Well, the. very. next. day. I had this experience.  I was at work, and a guy whose company that I did not particularly enjoy was following me around as I cleaned and was continually trying to strike up a conversation with me.  I would respond politely but I was also kind of trying to get away from Him at the same time.
At one point he said something about having had lived in a town in Missouri that I recognized from our Church history.  I then just felt really impressed to say “Oh! I know that town! I’ve never been there, but my Church has history there.  Maybe you’ve heard of us, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but you might be more familiar with the nickname Mormons.”  I was being all casual, just trying to direct the conversation towards something mundane, and non threatening, unlike some of the topics he was trying to bring up previously. I said all this and he just stared at me for serval minutes, or what felt like that.  After some time, He says “I know who you are.” And then paused and stared at me again and then says “I actually used to be Mormon, back in Missouri.  I joined when I was a kid with my Grandma. I’m probably still on their records.” 

My mouth DROPPED.  I remember that I immediately started to talk to Heavenly Father in my head like, REALLY Heavenly Father?  This guy makes me so uncomfortable, and I don’t like him, and don’t get along with him. I was complaining in my head, but I also super stunned that my prayer for a missionary experience was happening, like, right now.  I had a moment away from him, as I was putting stuff away in a closest, and I was just kind of talking to God in my head.  I kept trying to wrap my head around it, and then I remember thinking, okay God, I know you love him, even though I don’t, so I’m going to do this.  But it took me a good couple minutes to stop complaining, so that I could listen to what the Spirit had for me to say.

This is a good example that I really wanted to share with you guys.  Not always is missionary work going to be the nice dinner with the full time missionaries over, teaching the first discussion.  Not always will sharing the gospel be easy, or fun, or safe.  We aren’t always going to get missionary opportunities that are safely in our comfort zones.  In fact, I’m willing to bet that most of our opportunities ARE NOT going to be in our safe little comfort zones.

Because that is what missionary work is.  It’s stepping OUT of your comfort zones.  It’s talking to people who normally, make you uncomfortable, or that you don’t get along with.  It’s remembering, that while YOU may not love some, GOD DOES.  He cares for them, and He want’s them to be around, even if you don’t.  Missionary work is letting go of our ego’s, our tendencies towards shyness, attitudes, or aloofness and letting the Spirit guide us to those around us that NEED God.  WE are the Lord’s hands.  ALL OF US.  He isn’t here physically right now, so who will be His hands and do His work?  Does it not make sense that we, as a people, who call themselves DISCIPLES of Jesus Christ, to work for our Savior?

Going back to the story of this man I worked with; I was able to continue speaking with this man for another hour or so, uninterrupted.  I was able to share bits of my testimony, and ask him about what he thought of the gospel.  I got to answer some pretty deep questions, that I was surprised I was even able to help with.  I know the Spirit guided my words, and answers.  I asked him if he read the Book of Mormon, and he said no.  I asked him, if I bring one in, will you read it?  And he said yes.  So I brought in one the copies that the missionaries carry with them and he took it, and told me he would read it.

I’m sorry to say, I don’t know how this story ends.  I have no idea if he read the Book of Mormon that I gave him.  I don’t know if he met with the missionaries, like I suggested.  However, I know that I answered his questions.  I know that I planted a seed. 

Let’s say that a persons eternal progression leading home to God is on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 knowing nothing about God, and 10 being as close as we can get while on this earth.  As missionaries, speaking to everyone, we are not responsible for getting any person, except ourselves, all the way up the scale.  We might be the one to get someone from 3 to 4, or from 8 to 9, or even from 0 to 1.  Different people, different teachers, different scriptures, all differing resources help get us closer to God.  As missionaries, we just plant seeds. We plant seeds for others to come along and water, and then another to spread sunshine.  In the end, it’s up to the individual to make that final harvest within themselves.

As members of this Church, we hold a sacred responsibility to share this gospel with all within our sphere of influence.
I do not believe that we always recognize or acknowledge our own individual ability and role in everyday missionary work.  I have seen the wonders and miracles that missionary work can bring about in my own life, within my family and in my friends. 
Do not discount your ability to share the gospel.  This is something that scared me, and still kind of scares me today. But have no fear! Fear is the opposite of faith! Fear is what held me back. Lean on your testimony, or the testimony of the prophets if you do not yet have your own. Be aware that you are a son or daughter of God, and He will open your mouth to share the gospel, if it is something that you desire.  President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “We all start out a little rough, but with some polishing and refining, with an ever-growing conviction of the Savior’s Atonement and Resurrection, we can become an effective instrument in bringing souls unto Christ.”

Remember, this gospel of Jesus Christ is a GIFT.  It is a blessing to have this in our lives!  Gifts are things that we are given, and they are things that we give away.  My brothers and sisters, we have been given the greatest gift ever given, which is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We have this because of the restoration of the gospel.  Now, do you see, how it is our responsibility to now give that gift of the gospel to those around us?

Today, I know that sharing the gospel can not only be easy, but it can be fun.
After sharing the gospel with that guy I worked with, I can’t wait to share it with my friends!  And I have, and they rejected me, but that’s okay. Sharing principles of the gospel brings so much joy into my life!  And the more I share, the more MY personal testimony grows!  Someone else rejecting me, doesn’t affect how I feel about God, and the Savior and His Atonement for me. 

I know that it was incredibly selfish of me to decide whether or not someone was ready to hear the message of the gospel.  Who am I, or who are any of us, to decide whether or not some someone we know and love needs the gospel, or is willing or ready to hear the gospel?  The Lord knows who is ready.  He knows who needs encouragement, and He knows who needs a friend.  As we listen to the Spirit, and work to live worthy of His influence, we can be made aware of those opportunities to serve those around us.

We are examples to everyone.  They look at us, and see strange people, who attend church for 3 hours on Sunday, and then go back multiple times during the week for various activities.  They see people who pray before every meal, never curse, and talk about their families a lot.  That’s fine if it’s peculiar, but don’t let those moments when people question you pass by. Those are moments to share a 30 second testimony, briefly explaining why.  Those are moments to share the gospel.
You don’t have to be a great public speaker, or memorize the scriptures, or shake the earth with thunder as you powerfully speak.  You just have to invite.  Plant your seeds, spread your sunshine, and don’t doubt yourself.  We are all missionaries, and we all have to learn to be better missionaries.  I know that we can become better by living by the precepts and truths that we have been given.

I know that this is the one true and correct church on the earth today.
This is the same church that Jesus Christ himself established while on this earth, and I know that He runs it today.

I truly believe that reading the Book of Mormon often, and praying daily, provide power to withstand and endure in this crazy world.

I know that my Heavenly Father loves me, and supports and guides me in my righteous endeavors, and I know He will do the same for you.

I am grateful for Joseph Smith, and his sacrifices that he gave, for me to have this wonderful gospel.  I know he was a prophet, called of God.

I know that serving a mission is something that I have been called to do by God.  And while my sacrifices are going to be no where near as extensive and inspiring as some of the men and women who struggled to bring Christ’s church to the world, I can say that I am proud to serve my God, and so excited to add what little labor I can provide to the Kingdom of God. 

I love this church, and I am so grateful for this Gospel. The Plan of Happiness, the Atonement, Eternal families, all of it.  This is truly a church of happiness, and peace, and HOPE and I am so excited to get out there are share this joy.


I say these things, in the name of my beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Why I am choosing to serve as a LDS missionary {a testimony}


My Dork face with my mission call. REGRET: I didn't take a nice picture holding my call!

It truly is the final count down till I enter the Missionary Training Center! 21 days left.

I've reached that point where it's all starting to feel very real.  That is such an intense feeling!
However nervous I might become though, I am not scared to be going on a mission.  I have the all encompassing peace that just fills me up, and doesn't really allow room for anxiety.
There are, of course, moments where I panic a little because I worry over being packed all the way, and having all the physical things I might need, but when I forget this selfish part of me, everything becomes clear.

I wanted to share with you all why I am choosing to serve this 18 month mission, almost completely cut off from my friends and family at home, in a foreign country.

Let me begin by just explaining how much I LOVE the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is the perfect example of a loving, caring, patient and forgiving friend.  He is the only truly perfect person ever to have lived, and is therefore a perfect example to all of us on how to live happy, and fulfilling lives. I know that He lives today, and knows each of us individually, even if we don't always love Him back.  I know that Christ came to this earth during ancient times, and blessed the lives of those people.  You know those stories of Christ healing people, bringing them back from the dead, and performing all kinds of miracles in the Bible?  I know that those things really happened because I know that Christ is the Son of God.  I know that God restored His church in it's fullness, through Joseph Smith, a modern day prophet.  I know that this gospel that I so dearly love, and enjoy in my life is the same gospel that Christ restored during His mortal ministry.  You might be asking, "So how does she KNOW these things?", and that is a really great question.  I have come to KNOW these things through personal prayer and study.  I really wanted to know if the church was true, and I wanted to know that God was real, that Christ is His son, and that all of this isn't just a huge lie.  I can testify that through personal revelation, I know that this is the one true and correct church on this earth.  I truly believe these things to be true.

So, why do I want to serve a mission?  It's not to tell everyone else that they are wrong.  It's not to smack them in the head and tell them that their sinners.  My job, as a full time missionary, would be to teach the pure and simple truths of the gospel.

Every person who has lived, is living, and ever will live are children of God.  YOU are a CHILD OF GOD.  I am a child a God! That is a truth that no matter what, will never be diminished or changed, despite your circumstances or your beliefs.  I just really, really want to share that message with my brothers and sisters here on earth.  I have a great desire to serve and love these people! "Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work." (D&C 4:3)

When you find something that really inspires you, or helps you, do you keep it to yourself?  Or do you feel like sharing that with your friends and family?

That is why I am choosing to serve.  I want everyone to know how much THEIR God loves them.  You have a God, and He is yours!  The only thing He wants from you, is you.

I am so excited to share this pure message of hope and light with the people in the Philippines.  Missionary work is exactly that, work, but it is a marvelous work! (D&C 4:1)  I know that missionary work is something that not only blesses the lives of others, but blesses and changes the missionaries.  I know that I am going to grow and learn so much, because I have been promised these blessings in the scriptures.  I can't wait to get going!  The next year and a half of my life promises to be crazy, difficult, and stressful but the rewards of giving up this time make it feel like I'm not really giving anything up at all.

I'm leaving because I want to love God MORE, and I'm leaving because I want to have that desire to serve God to grow stronger.  My testimony is a muscle, I'm exercising it because I know that being strong in this church, under Christ, will bring me the greatest happiness that I could ever imagine.

I hope that this helps answer your questions! If I didn't, go ahead and leave a comment while I'm still outside the MTC, or after September 2, go ahead and shoot me an email! (I'll post that in my bio)

Love,
Sister Zimmerman