Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Because it Needs to be

November 19th, 2012

Hello Family!
Wow...what a week. Sometimes it feels like a day is a week and a week is a month, but at the same time I can't believe i got into the field like 4 weeks ago! In 2 weeks we'll have transferss.....dun dun dun!!!! More than likely though, Sister Williams and I will stay together for the remainder of my training, but who knows what the Lord has planned for me!
So we had our first Zone Conference this last week! It was AMAZING!!! The AP's showed us this video that literally made me cry the entire time...because it was exactly what I needed to hear. I've been having a really hard time and I've been questioning why it's just so hard. I knew it was going to be hard coming out here on a mission, but I really had NO idea how hard. I mean the idea of a mission, going for 18 months or 2 years to go talk to people and serve the Lord away from your family does sound a little difficult, but in reality it is a LOT harder than that. You are just so physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually drained you don't know how you can move on, but you pray your little heart out and you do, because the Lord helps you to. The video clip they showed us was on the Atonement. It was a compilation of talks from Elder Holland and President Eyring, with video footage of the Savior in the Garden and on the cross. It was just so powerful. Elder Holland said (not exactly verbatim) "Many of you ask, 'why is this so hard?' it is because missioary work is not easy, because salvation is not easy....you must be prepared to walk some of the road the Savior walked, to share some of the tears he shed...to come to the truth ...to come to know that some of the price must be paid...Someone far greater and better asked the same question a long time ago, but for him there wasn't an easier way....If we can come to appreciate and love the Atonement, it will carry us....When we struggle we are standing shoulder to shoulder with the only perfect missionary that ever lived..." After the video it was time for some of us to speak. They ask us before to prepare a talk on a topic, but we don't know which ones of us that President Weston will choose. After the video showed though, I knew that he was going to choose me. 

I got up and spoke about the atonement, and how I have grown stronger coming to the knowledge of knowing how to TRULY rely on the Savior. It's not easy...but I know that the Lord has blessed me and helped me to come closer to him as I have learned and grown in my mission so far. So when I ask the question, "Why is this so hard?" I know the answer..."Because it needs to be."


I am so grateful to be on a mission, even though it is EXTREMELY hard at times, but there are times when I am teaching and that I feel the Spirit testify unto the souls of the Lord's children that I know that it's worth it. Thank you Momma for your letter last week, your words were exactly what I needed to hear to bring me comfort. I love you all very much and I am so grateful to know that you all pray for me and still think of me, even though I am so far away. I miss you all very much but I have to do this so that others who are not able to know they can be with their families forever might be able to come to that knowledge for themselves. This is a small price to pay to know that I can be with you all for forever. Always know that I love you, and always know that the Lord loves you.
Love,
Sister Mandy Covington <3

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Field is White

November 13, 2012
Hello dear family! (and friends)
Well another week here in Yuba City. The work is good, hard, but good. I'm slowly getting less and less homesick, but there are days it sneaks up on me. But the Lord knows I need his help, so he has been giving it to me. I think I have mentioned the Harlans before, if I haven't I will now. The Harlans are a couple in our ward that are actually originally from Missouri. Sister Harlan is just so sweet and she takes good care of me. Brother Harlan makes lots of "dad jokes" and it helps too. Whenever I get to my lowest point and I can't handle anymore, the Lord helps put them into my path and I know I'm loved. Going to their house always feels like a piece of home. I am soooo grateful for them. They also know Sister Neser AND the Sister that helps manage the Orange Leaf in LS...so we have lots of connections. They are so great. :)
We had our first baptism this weekend (Nov. 10th) and thankfully Sister Williams didn't tell me that ALL baptisms are stressful until our investigator texted us at 4 asking if we could move his baptism to 6....I was totally freaking out. We were already heading to the church when we got a hold of him and he said he was driving back with his family from Santa Rosa and he would do his best to be there by 5:30. So we got to the church about 4:15 and talked to Brother B our ward mission leader, and we made as many phone calls as we could to people we knew were coming so they could come a little later. Sister Williams did her best to keep me calm, so we worked on learning the California Roseville Mission song until some of our investigators were coming to the baptism showed up. When they got there we chatted with them for a bit (one of our investigators and one of the elders from Sutter Buttes investigators) and it helped a little to keep me from freaking out. But then 5:30 rolled around and he still wasn't there....and then 5:45....and still no baptism..Brother Harlan kept joking about the time he would get there....his estimation was 6:01...surprisingly enough he was right. So we got everything ready for him (again) and then we started the baptism. 
It was actually a really beautiful service and the spirit was really strong. One of our other investigators seemed to really enjoy it and hopefully it will help him to understand how important it is for HIM to be baptized. We have kind of hit a snag with him...and he hasn't accepted the baptismal invitation, but we are praying really hard that he comes to understand that God really is his heavenly father and that he needs to be baptized into His church to be with him again. He's just SO SMART and sometimes Sister Williams and I don't totally understand what he wants or what he's saying, but we do our best.
I think more than ever I've learned how to truly rely on the Lord. A lot of times I feel totally inadequate because the people we are teaching sometimes are just in such difficult times in their lives and I can't even imagine what it would be like to have to go through that. I know I've been through a lot in my life, but mine was pretty much all emotional and spiritual, not so much on the temporal side of need. I am so grateful for being born into a family that has the gospel already and that I have been taught in the correct way that I should go so that I can help others to do the same. I am also just so grateful to know that I can be with my family forever, I think thats why it's a bit easier for me sometimes, because I know that these 18 months aren't actually going to be THAT long, because I can be with my family forever. Thats such a comfort to me.
I'm not at the point yet where I don't have feelings of homesickness, and who knows if I'll ever get there, I just pray that the Lord will be able to strengthen me even more in my weakness and that I will be able to more fully serve him and help his children to realize who they are and the plan that their Heavenly Father has for them.
Anyways, I love you all and I hope all is well with you. Thank you so much for all your letters and love, they mean a lot. I shall talk to you all next week!
Love,
Sister Covington <3


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Week 2 Yuba City

From November 5th
Dear Family,
Hello! Greetings from Yuba City! So it was my second week here, and it was definitely a missionary week, but the Lord really does love me and has shown me many tender mercies. For instance, one day this week ALL of our appointments but one were cancelled and I started to get frustrated, and miss home and family and etc. We finished dinner and then went to the church to figure out what to do next, and the members we had set up to come for our appointment were there, even though we had left a message on their answering machine telling them the appointment was cancelled. BUT they hadn't gotten it,so they were there waiting for us. It was by the tender mercies of the Lord that he allowed that to happen. Brother and Sister Harlan were there waiting for us and the second she asked how I was doing and gave me a hug I broke down crying. She just gave me a big hug and told me that it was okay, and that she was there for me. Sister Harlan is just so wonderful and I love her so much. I felt an instant connection with her when we had gone to her house for dinner, she actually knows Sister Neser from Germany AND her and Brother Harlan are from Missouri, so being around her feels a lot like home. But anyway, I was able to vent for a little bit, and be comforted, and Brother and Sister Harlan helped me to figure out some things that we can do to help me be more balanced so I can become stronger faster. Sister Harlan told me that she knows I'm here in this ward for a reason, and that she is so blessed to have ME around, and that it was all going to be okay. It was just such a comfort to me to know that the Lord really is using me to help others, even when I'm at my weakest. They even got us frozen yogurt, which was a blessing in itself because when we walked into the shop it is almost EXACTLY like Orange Leaf and it reminded me of this summer and of home. I am just so grateful for this ward and all the members who are so willing to help us out and to bless us. Being a missionary is a struggle, for sure, but the Lord is looking out for us, and puts us into places that will both test us and comfort us. So many people in the ward here remind me of people I know (like for instance Sister Call aka Grandma Call reminds me SO much of Grandma...its crazy). I am just so grateful to be here where I know I'm loved, even when I am struggling.
President Weston called me on Saturday after he read my letter to check up on me and see how I was doing. He told me that its perfectly normal to be homesick and that after about 2 months it would get easier and I would laugh at myself for being so worried about the things I was stressing about before. For which I was very grateful because I'm really tired of being on the verge of tears so often because I'm trying so hard to be a good missionary, and yet I'm missing my family and friends and home. So that was of big comfort to me. He also said that he wants to support me in anyway he can, so that I can talk to him about anything. It was really nice to hear that because something in particular that has been pressing in my mind and I wasn't sure if it was a bad thing, because I want to stay focused on the work and be a good missionary, he helped to let me know that it's okay to wonder about that, but to let it be a support to me in the field, for which he is right. He also said we could get me a new mattress because I haven't been sleeping very well, because I have an old pretty crappy mattress. I have seriously weird dreams EVERY NIGHT and its really wearing me out. So I called Elder Jackson (one of the senior missionaries who's in charge of housing) this morning to take care of it. So hopefully I'll get  a new mattress soon. :)
For today though I was struggling in figuring out what to study, but as I flipped around PMG (Preach My gospel) and the scriptures I decided to study Personal Revelation. It ended up being perfect because this week as I've been going about, and studying I have gotten some very strong impressions from the spirit, and I sit and wonder if it really is the spirit testifying something to me, or if it is just my mind running away with itself. A talk they had us listen to in the MTC from Elder Bednar back in 2009 actually in a Tuesday devotional AT the MTC, the answer was this: Quit worrying about it! It really struck me strong because this is a question that always bothers me, is it me or is it God telling me something. Elder Bednar just told us that we need to quit worrying about it, and be a good girl or be a good boy and keep our covenants and keep the commandments and that the Lord will give us answers, because we are already doing the right thing. Earlier this week when I was studying Section 11 in the Doctrine and Covenants, I had been struggling in the morning, and I prayed that Heavenly Father would help me. I had some questions in mind, that I honestly didn't think I'd get an answer to now, but as I read verse 8 really struck me: "Verily, verily I say unto you, even as you desire of me so it shall be done unto you" the scriptures continue after to say that we need to have faith in Christ and to keep the commandments and he WILL grant us according to the desires of our hearts. I felt the spirit SO STRONG that morning, that God was answering me. This desire of my heart is pretty big, and when I got this answer I was so happy because it just told me to do just that: be a good girl, keep my covenants, keep the commandments and then God would grant unto me according to the desires of my heart. But then as time went on I started to wonder if I really DID get that answer. So this morning I was wondering if the answers I was getting were just me wanting something so bad that I was making things up, because I really can't tell the future. Then as I was reading this morning Alma 17:3 it says that if we have much prayer and fasting that we will have the spirit of PROPHECY and of REVELATION. It really struck me that THIS was my answer. Growing up I always wanted to be like Mom, who has such a strong spirit of prophecy and revelation, but I never thought I'd be able to get it for myself, but based on everything I've been learning that I can have enough faith that I can have those gifts too.
I am so grateful to the Lord that he has blessed me so much to teach me the things that I need to know to help push me forward in being a better missionary. The Lord loves me and wants me to be with him again, and to do that I must go out and to help bring others to him as well, and then he can bless me and grant me according to the desires of my heart. I know that as we pray and are doing the things we are supposed to be doing that the Lord WILL bless us and that we can have personal revelation, and that we will become more like him. I am so grateful to know that and just how much my Heavenly Father loves me. I know that he knows me better than I do, and he has put people into my life at certain times to help me to grow, and to help them to grow. I love this gospel so much and I am so grateful I have this opportunity to be out here serving, even though it is hard and at times I am brought to tears on my knees, begging God to make me stronger, but I know that as we do that, he is more able to help us and to build us up. 
I love you all so much, and I do miss you, but I know that this time of sacrifice is necessary so that we may all have the true blessings of eternity together. Thank you for all the letters and love. :)
Love,
Sister Mandy Covington <3

Rely on the Lord in ALL things

From October 29th
HELLO Family!!!
Well, I'm finally out in the field, and I still can't believe it. It's truly been a challenge to get to know all the investgators, the ward members, and everything else i need to know for the area. I'm in a place called Yuba City, California, its about 45 minutes or so from Analope/Roseville, where our mission office is. I'm in the Buttes Vista ward, and live right around the corner from the stake center. My companion is Sister Williams and she's adorable. 
Well...I must say that if I didn't know how much God needed me to do this, and if I hadn't wanted to do this for a very long time, I would be home by now. It's been very hard to get used to all the new EVERYTHING and I know that God is behind me, so if I just rely on him, he'll be able to help me.
We have a very good ward, who feed us like every night, BUT all of them are older, so we have a very small primary. Another thing that is hard is our ward is TINY because 57% of the people on the ward list are inactive. Sister Williams and I are making it our goal to help as many of them as we can to get reactivated, because the Lord misses them. We have an investigator, named Antonio, that is getting baptized on the 10th of November, so thats going to be wonderful, and then we have one more investigator, Eyin (pronounced like "Ian") who is still investigating. He's having a hard time understanding faith...he knows we know it, he just doesn't know it for himself yet. But hopefully the Spirit will get through to him.
My biggest challenge is in the mornings really, cuz we're alone (well just the 2 of us) and its quiet and we're just studying and stuff....and that's when I really start to miss you guys. I don't think I've missed you all so much ever....I just keep thinking of you all and how much I love you, and how grateful I am for you, and for the opportunity we have to be together forever. If it wasn't for that...I would have been gone a LONNG time ago. BUT I know the Lord has called me to this work, so if I rely on him, He will be able to help strengthen me and make me feel better.
Taking the things of my heart and laying them on the altar for the Lord to take care of is very hard. There are some things on my mind that I literally can't control, and really shouldn't be worrying about for like 2 years, but I have to continually just take my mind aside and say "Okay Heavenly Father, you know that I want to be here, and I want to help these people. These things that I'm worrying about...I'm handing them over to you, please take them so I can focus on these people, and their needs." I feel weak a lot of the time because there is nothing I can do but keep saying that to him, because I can't do it alone.
Yesterday I was brought to my knees in tears and prayer, begging Heavenly Father to help me, Then all of church was about lightening burdens, service, and sacrifice. All the things I needed to hear. In D&C 121:1-6 Joseph Smith is crying out to the Lord because he feels like the Lord has forsaken him, but in verses 7-8 the Lord comforts him and tells him that these afflictions will be only for a small moment, and that if he endures it well, that he will be blessed and not only that but to TRIUMPH over all. Another scripture I got from church was 1 Nephi 18:16, because I need to not murmur in my afflictions, which I don't feel I'm doing, I just need to have more patience with myself, because it really has only been a week. (well a week in the field on wednesday...so really not even a week). But I know that the Lord is with me, and as I keep being obedient and doing the things that He asks of me, that I will be strengthened even more. 
This morning I studied Alma 14, the chapter where Alma and Amulek are forced to watch the believers burn while they are bound. We MUST go through a time of suffering so that our faith might be strengthened...BUT when the time comes, and the Lord knows we have suffered enough and have truly done all we can to rely on him, that we can cry out to Him and He can deliver us (Alma 14:26)
We can all do this though, when we are in times of trial, to go and rely on the Lord as much as we can, by staying obedient to his commandments, calling out to him when we need strength, and persevering and being diligent in continually striving to follow Gods plans for us, that he WILL strengthen us and that we will be "crowned with honor and glory and immortality and eternal life." (D&C 75:2-5)
I love this gospel so much and although this is the hardest thing I have ever done, I know that the Lord is able to strengthen me in my weakness as I turn to him, so that He might be able to use me to help his lost children, as we are "willing and obedient" we shall be able to "eat the good of the land" (Isaiah 1:19). So keep praying for me, because I need the prayers, and let me know if there is anything I can pray for you with. I love you all so very much, and I am out here working as hard as I can so that I can be with you all for forever. :) 
Love,
Sister Mandy Covington <3

Here are my addresses:

(This is the mission home and you can mail to me at this address at ANY time and it should get to me, but it might take a little bit longer.)
Sister Mandy Covington
California Roseville Mission
8583 Watt Ave.
Antelope, CA 95843-9117

(This is my apartment address in Yuba City so it should come here faster to me, but I don't know how long I'll be here, so when in doubt, mail to the mission home)
Sister Mandy Covington
1355 Stabler Ln Apt #6
Yuba City, CA 95993

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sunny Cali


From October 23:
Hello dear family (and friends)!
I'm here safe in California at the mission office. We all arrived here safely with only a little bit of turbulance. Elder Harper and Sister Strickland were super cute too, they'd never been on a plane before and watching them when we took of and when we landed was quite fun. When we got to Sacramento Airport it was cool because 2 of the sisters from our mission were actually going home today and we got to take a picture with them before we left the gate! Then we met our mission president and is wife (President and Sister Weston), they're pretty awesome. It was pretty cool too because there was these art monuments at the baggage claim that were mountains of tall "lost luggage" it was cute. We all took a picture by one of them too, so you'll get that as soon as I can get pictures sent to you! Then the Elders all took our luggage (They would NOT let Sister Strickland and I carry anything other than our backpacks, it was kind of weird for me because being the oldest I ALWAYS help with luggage and stuff when we travel. Elder Thomas just laughed at me when Sister Strickland "chastized" me about becoming a lady lol). Then we all piled our luggage in the trailer and then jumped in the cars/van. We came to the mission office, which is actually in a chapel, which is super weird to me lol, and then they talked to us about some procedral things so we could fill out some paperwork. Then we had lunch and met some of the sisters in our mission. Everyone is really nice here though, and even though I don't totally feel like it's real, I'm happy to be here! We're going to go to some contacting later, so that should be fun! Anyways, I love you all and I shall email probably next Monday. But I just wanted to let you know that I'm safe here in Cali and being well taken care of. I LOVE YOU!!!!
Love,
Sister Mandy Covington <3

Leaving the MTC!


From October 22nd, 2012
Hello everyone!
Well I leave the MTC tomorrow (crazy right?!) and I have to say I am SO GRATEFUL they actually HAVE the MTC because going out into the field without all this training would be so hard. For all of you who are wondering what a mission is, or what Mormons are all about, go read Russel M. Nelson's talk "Ask the Missionaires, they can help you!" from the October 2012 General Conference at lds.org. :)
But dear friends and family, I don't have much time, but I just wanted you to all know that I have grown so much in the last 3 weeks, and my testimony has been strengthened so much.
I know that this is the true church of Jesus Christ on the earth today. Christ has restored the fulness of his gospel on the earth once again through Joseph Smith and we are able to have the ability to live in his presence again. I love this gospel so much and I know that as I am obedient to the commandments, having faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, renewing my baptismal covenants, relying on the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end, I can be able to do just that. It is my purpose now as a missionary to Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them recieve the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, repenting, being baptized by proper priesthood authority, recieving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. It is my privalege now to go out and to help people gain a testimony of their own. I love this gospel so much and I am so grateful for it. I know that by studying the Book of Mormon that I will get closer to God, and to Jesus Christ.
Thank you for all the love, letters and support! Keep them coming!
I love you all!
Love,
Sister Mandy Covington
 
Here is my new address at my  mission home so you can write me here at anytime, and then I can give you my new address when I get it. :)
 
Sister Mandy Covington
California Roseville Mission
8583 Watt Ave
Antelope, CA 95843-9117

Consecrated


From October 16, 2012
Hello Family!!! (And friends :))
Well Week 2 here in the MTC has been quite the interesting one I'll tell you that. ;) lol But a good one none the less. :) I have been nicer to myself this week, and God keeps telling me I need to be patient with MYSELF as well. So I've been really working on doing that. Thanks to all of you for all the letters and love this week. :) Momma, thank you for the sweaters! I'm wearing the pink one right now. :) :) Let's see....
So I almost passed out this week, so my sisters and Elder Arnett won't let me run anymore. lol What happened was I was running around the track at the gym and I ended up running so much I threw up, which was not fun, but oh well. Elder Arnett came up behind me to make sure I was okay (we have the same gym time) and he gave me a paper towel and was like freaking out....he put a whole bunch of paper towels over it and sprayed it with the cleaner. I told him that wouldn't do anything, but he did it anyway and then glared at me lol. So I kept running around, and then I ended up having a hyperventilation attack, so I stopped running and just walked to go sit down and thankfully Elder Arnett was there to make sure I was okay. The Elders from my district just ran by and said "Hi Sister Covington!!!", Elder Arnett was so mad and started quoting 2 Nephi 1:19-21 at them (from Elder christophersons talk from priesthood conference) it was really funny. I wasn't mad though because it was the two most awkward elders from my district so, bless their hearts, they just didn't notice. lol So Elder Arnett made sure I was okay and then we went down the stairs and just stoood with some of the other Elders talking for a minute and then it was time to leave. I found my sisters and we were walking out when my knees decided to give out. My sisters caught me as I just plopped myself down on the ground and laughed. Elder Arnett got so mad at me...lol it was funny. He made me promise take it easy. I am so grateful for such a good friend who is always looking out for me. :) My sisters kept their promise to him too though, he made them promise I can't run anymore until I'm all better. It was a difficult few days after that episode, cuz my stomach decided to flip out again...but I'm okay again, even though I was all worried it was going to happen again like before....BUT thanks to the CONSTANT buffett here at the MTC...my weight has leveled again, so no worries. :)
I've learned a lot about how we need to consecrate our lives to the Lord though, both as missionaries and as members of the Church. We had a BIG discussion yesterday in class about it, and we learned a lot. It takes all our thoughts and our time to dedicate it to him, so we need to be more focused on loving the Lord and his children then worldly things. I am glad I have this time to really learn how to consecrate my life to the Lord, so when I get back I will have the right mindset as I go about life. My sisters and I were talking about this today...if only we had known all this stuff years ago! BUT alas, that's not how God's learning process works. ;)
I am so glad to be out here on a mission and serving the Lord, it has truly blessed my life. :) and I know it will continue to make my life better! Which...again...I'll always be in debt to the Lord.
Well It has been so wonderful starting the serve my mission and I know I wouldn't rather be anywhere else. I promise if you have a question and you take it to the Lord, whether its about the scriptures or anything else that is troubling you, and you come to him with an open mind and an open heart, with a sincere intrest to know of the truth, the Holy Ghost will make the answer manifest unto you. But it does take work on your part; you have to study the scriptures and do all that you can so that he can answer you. I have learned that SO much here. The Lord loves you and I love you. I miss you all so much, but thank heavens for eternal families....cuz we get to be together FOREVER!!!! :) :)
Love,
Sister Mandy Covington <3