Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Called to Serve
Final Airport Missionary Goodbyes....
Elder Bolliger July 27, 2010
Sister Bolliger March 30, 2010
Elder John Bolliger...
Called to Serve and on his way at the Airport...
Glancing Back and Looking Forward!

Sister Bolliger - Visalia Week 14: Trying Hard, Waking Up at 6:30, Awesome Investigator, Singing "Where Love Is," "Watch Out for Her Laser Gun"

Well...this week has again been fraught with many, many adventures.

Sister Lemalu and I have been plugging along, "wasting and wearing out our lives" (as the scriptures say) in the work. Our mission has a goal of 1,200 baptisms for this year, and 200 for this upcoming August. Understanding that there is SO much preparation that needs to be done within our companionship and with everyone that we teach to prepare them to make this promise with their Heavenly Father, we have been trying as hard as we can to do our part!

I am actually waking up right at 6:30. I know that may seem like a falsehood, but it most certainly is not. :) It's hard when you have to set an example for others. Blast! But out of bed I get right after the first beep of my alarm clock (honestly), and am down on my knees to pray first thing!

Chuck W has continued to be the find of the century. He took a Gospel Principles Manual home and read it the entire day on Wednesday! It took him 11 hours, but he did it! He highlighted questions he had--but they were remarkably not about the doctrine, but about the how. Instead of asking about the doctrine of tithing, he asked how you pay it and then where to find the slips! He wanted to know what the Ensign was, and how to get into the temple! He's already made comments such that he needs to "convert his family" and that he's already dispelling rumors about Mormons wherever he goes. :) He came to all three hours of church again this last Sunday, and made comments that he thinks it needs to be longer. I KNOW! This man is more righteous than I am! Haha. He is just on fire and we are so excited for him! He is a retired cowboy and has never even owned a pair of shoes that haven't been cowboy boots! He attempted to dress like everyone else this last Sunday by wearing dark colored jeans and a black striped polo and the effort was very wonderful to behold!

This Sunday I sang a solo in Church, thinking that it might be able to draw some of our investigators to come to Church. I sang the primary song "Where Love Is" and it went beautifully! I already sing about 42% of everything I say so many people knew that I enjoyed singing, but it was so wonderful to have the opportunity to get up in front of a congregation that I love and continue to pray to love as I serve them in this area! Unfortunately, the target of this ruse was swept away by her boyfriend last weekend (again) and didn't make it. Why do people have their agency again? Juuuust kidding. :)

I have become involved in some very healthy elder v. sister competitions. For some reason I always seem to entangle myself in a battle of Church Tour invitations. We are to keep track of non-member church tour invitations and as such I like to challenge myself. This week it was the 3rd ward sisters versus the 4th ward elders. I got sick this week pretty bad and so wasn't able to stand for some time, so my companion and I were mainly teaching lessons for part of the week, but we did our part to catch up! We ended up losing only by 2, which I feel to be a wonderful result due to the fact that I was sick for so often! We had 16 in one day, which is pretty intense because that means you're not only talking to 16 non-members a day, but getting to the point of talking about the Church and inviting them on a tour! Even with all of the other appointments and obligations that are taking up time during the day!

We had a crazy double zone activity yesterday at a place called McDermont. It's a huge complex in the tiniest of towns with two indoor soccer fields, laser tag, arcade, basketball courts, gyms, etc. We got in free and had the most beastly laser tag games EVER. I must have got waay into the game because I was chasing down my companion Sister Lemalu (who was on the opposing team) and had finally cornered her behind a large partition. I swung around and down to not get hit and in the process tilted my gun at an angle, anticipating to be shooting upwards. My plan did not go as well as I thought. What ended up happening is that I hit my companion in the eye with the butt of my laser tag gun. SERIOUSLY!!! She went down immediately and I ended up crouching there with her head in my hands trying to assess what I had done with all of the black light and neon craziness. Turns out I hit her just below the eye, and it immediately started to bruise. AHH! I felt SOOOO horrible. And even let her shoot me a few times to rack up some points. Poor Sister Lemalu! The Elders found this to be particularly entertaining, and I have a feeling that I won't live this down for the rest of the mission. They were taking turns looking at the bruise under her eye today at Zone Meeting and my goodness. It's ridiculous! Thankfully Sister Lemalu is the laid back Polynesian and is very, very forgiving. It's now the running joke in the apartment. "Don't make Sister Bolliger mad or she'll get you in the face!" or "Watch out for her laser gun!" Oooh, how precious. :)

We took an investigator to mutual last Wednesday and they were doing yoga. Not only was it odd wearing pants in the church building, let alone with members of the ward, but "relaxing" before 10:30? What??? I absolutely loved it. Hahah. :) The breathing, the lights off, the stretching--holy toleto did the stars align for us that night!! It was also a miracle to get our investigator to the church building and she loved it! The girls were so wonderful--I was so grateful for their examples and smiling faces!

I am so excited that John is joining me in the field! It's crazy stuff, but I'm so glad for there finally to be a real Elder Bolliger. Randomly I have been called Elder Bolliger A LOT (probably because I look like a man...hahah jk) and I am so grateful that I know have a clever retort, such as, "No, he's in San Bernadino" or "Do I look 6'3"?" Haha.

I am bruised from my laser tag experience. I went all out and ran into many different boxes, walls, the floor, etc. But at least I have battle wounds! (but none to rival dear Sister Lemalu's!!!)

We just had 5 sisters called to be sister ward missionaries this last Sunday. That brings our total of ward missionaries to 12! Ahh! There are so many things that we need to do--there's so much that we can do with this army behind us! I promise I'm not reading the war chapters in the Book of Mormon...I guess the theme of war has just come up on its own. Hahah.

I continue to be as crazy as ever, and just generally being the best Sister Bolliger I can be!

Sister Bolliger

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Elder John Bolliger mailing address

Elder John Mark Bolliger
California San Bernardino Mission Home
8280 Utica Ave., Suite 150
Rancho Cucamonga, California 91730

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Visalia Week 13 - Pain-Less, Tracting Like Crazy, 40 Day Challenge, "Sit for an hour" w/ Coloring Books, Sweet First Prayers, a Most Excellent Week!

All is well in Zion!

Sister Bolliger has not had an attack of pain in I think 1.5 weeks! It has been a good time. I feel nauseous but that is probably because of the insane responsibility that has been placed on my rather high head of hair.

Getting the loads of responsibility and becoming accountable for everything that happens in this area is something that is driving me on in the missionary work. And is it ever going on! Sister Lemalu and I are tracting like crazy and following the spirit--and my is it working! In deciding that I will follow every impression of the spirit, no matter how awkward, random, or inconvenient, we have been led to loads of new investigators and extended new baptismal dates! We have seen miracles as we've gone through the area book and followed up with former investigators and just generally been able to see the hand of the Lord guide us wherever we can go!

Sister Lemalu and I are doing a purification challenge. We started off by fasting on Sunday and writing down anything we felt we should that was infringing upon us feeling the Spirit. In trying to be humble, I pledged that I would write down and abstain from whatever I felt prompted. One of these included my Nacho voice. Which is super hard not to do...but I'm giving it up anyway! We will try our hardest to not do these things for the next forty days, showing our Heavenly Father, and covenanting with him that we will do whatever is necessary to be more receptive to find those people here that are ready for the gospel.

Yesterday, our first day of the forty days, was incredible! We went to an area where we had received a referral, but did not find her home. We had planned to tract around the area anyway, and began. No one was rude to us. Only one man didn't let us speak with him!! As we asked our inspired question, "How do you know that Jesus Christ loves you?" we were able to testify with Alma 7:11-12 that in the act of the Atonement Christ took upon himself not just our sins, but our pains and our afflictions, that he might better know how to succor his people. It was incredible! We found two new investigators, one in particular that I just have to mention. Cindy is the cutest girl I've ever seen. She was so excited that we stopped by to talk to her and as we were talking about Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon she asked if there was a way that she could learn more. We answered in the affirmative, of course, and are taking her on a Church Tour on Thursday! We talked about her goals in life and how making decisions with the Lord is the best way to go! After giving her a Book of Mormon, we asked if we could pray with her. She then asked us to teach her. I whipped out my lime green stickies and began writing the simple formula. We then each took turns praying, with Cindy going last. And was it so tender! We found out that it was the first time she had prayed! She said she had just got home and wasn't usually home at this time, but couldn't wait to see us on Thursday. :) I got chills as we would talk and felt the Spirit confirm that she was who we had needed to find that night on that street!

I have been praying my knees out seeking direction for how to be an example to someone that has only been out six weeks less than myself. I don't really know what is going on. I am learning how to correct and how to guide and what is a rule and what is something that can slide or maybe doesn't need to be addressed in a grandiose way. I have been learning how to lead during lessons (something I actually already did..or rather hijacked), and have been teaching Sister Lemalu the ways of the mission. There are many many things that weren't addressed the way they should have been when she was trained so I'm having more of an experience of training than step-training. Hahaha. But such is the nature of the work. Lots of learning. Lots of flexibility!

We had some wonderful miracles on Sunday! We had two investigators at Church! Leon is my favorite black man at the moment, because we're teaching him of course, who is in a wheelchair because he was in a gun fight in 2002 and had part of his rear end shot off. He sits in a rather intense wheelchair with a catheter and the whole deal and has been taught by the missionaries for the last TWO YEARS. Well...no. That is not what we do. We were planning on doing a drop lesson--but he actually had progressed when we arrived! And has been steadily doing baby steps consistently! He had hemmed and hawed about church attendance because he is not supposed to be sitting for extended periods of time. In one rather bold move, at the end of our lesson last Thursday I said, "Leon. Guess how long you've been sitting here for this lesson? For one hour. Guess how long the first hour of church is? One hour. Leon, will you come to church, just for the first hour?" Taadaaa! It worked! He looked down, and then said, "Yeah, if y'all can find me a ride!" Then, he brought his two daughters and his two nieces to church. Three of them are seven years old and Sister Lemalu and I anticipated that they would have a hard time during sacrament meeting. Soo, in a very female display of forethought, we decided to make them coloring books from the Friend magazines. Some very helpful librarians copied about eight different pages for us for each girl and we prepared ourselves with two bags of crayons for the impending Sacrament test. And it worked! I felt like such a mother hovering over them, explaining when to fold our arms, when to be especially quiet, when the sacrament would be coming around, etc. I think I'll wait to give them the coloring books until after the sacrament though.. Anyways, it was great! We also had Chuck there, a former investigator that had no follow-up information. We decided to go and contact him and we found that he has already read the Book of Mormon and knows that it's true! We took him on a tour, committed him to baptism, which he accepted, and then invited him to church. And did he ever come! He had on his muddy cowboy boots, his magnifying glass with a special light up feature, and brought his ten-gallon hat. He loved High Priests group and it was just a splendid day! There were three others that were supposed to come, but we have plans to get them there again!

It's interesting having four of us share an apartment. Sister Hernandez and I thankfully have each other for strength and to feel the feelings of responsibility. Sister Lemalu and Sister Haglund (who so randomly lived above Rachel at the Belmont Apts) run around in the mornings, while Sister Hernandez and I hold our backs and cringe at the beginning stages of arthritis. Haha.

But, it has been a most excellent week. I have been practicing loving people and choosing not to be offended and working my hardest to not let any thought I have deprive me of the Spirit--and it has been working incredibly! This is, of course, after at least a half an hour of prayer each night as I desperately plead with the Lord to qualify me for the work and responsibility I have been given. And it's working! I am being blessed so much and am overwhelmed at the growth that I am experiencing.

Phew! My fingers hurt!!

My companion is the best. From Australia and just as tall as I am. What a change from the petite companions of last transfer!

I miss y'all lots!!!


Sister Bolliger - the younger

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Visalia Week 12 - Ready to Stretch?, "Step-training". Trio to Quad/exercising restraint of Frivolity, Talofa!, Baptism letter from Fresno!

So hello family! Oh what crazy news I have to share.

We found out about transfers on Saturday and the following occurred: President asked, "Sister Bolliger, do you love the Lord?" I responded in the affirmative, of course, but a bit apprehensive of what the follow-up questions would be. "Sister Bolliger, are you ready to stretch?" he queried again. I replied that I loved stretching every morning for exercise. Haha. Then the bomb hit. "Sister Bolliger you will be step-training Sister Lemalu and taking over the Visalia 3rd ward as Senior Companion." Duh duh duhhhhh.

Step-training in the California Fresno mission just means that you continue to assist the newbies--continuing to train someone who has been out six weeks. So, Sister Lemalu has been out for one transfer, and I will continue helping her learn and grow and experience on the mission. Ahem. I have only been out one transfer longer than Sister Lemalu!!! Gah! I don't know how to fill out baptismal record forms. I don't know how to really teach the law of chastity. All things that are coming up in the next six weeks. Haha. There are several other English sisters that have been out for months to over a year...and for some reason poor Sister Lemalu is stuck with Sister Bolliger. I guess the Lord is keeping us clueless--and doing a great job of it. :)

There are some great fringe benefits of staying here in Visalia though. Sister Hernandez is training (as in straight from the MTC) and moving to the Spanish branch in the stake--which means we'll still be sharing the church building! And, turns out we'll be sharing more than that! There is an extra number of missionaries in the mission right now, which will be fixed in October when a number of missionaries return home. Because of that, the mission doesn't want to rent any more apartments for an issue that will eventually fix itself. Sooo...Sister Hernandez and her companion are going to be staying in the same apartment with Sister Lemalu and I!

President calls it an exercise in restraint for us and our "frivolity" but we are excited. And I feel blessed. This way I can find out information and gain strength from a resource that will be sharing living quarters with me! It will be weird though to have my old companion be companions with someone else though. :( Both of us are nervous, even though Sister Hernandez has trained three times before, and so I think we'll be gaining strength from each other!

Sister Lemalu is going to be so fun to be companions with though. She is from Samoa, so I will be greeting her with a hearty "Talofa," but she grew up in Australia and you know what that means--coolest accent ever!!! I think street contacting will be much more fun now. I might even turn up the texas accent a bit. What a dichotomy.

Speaking of frivolity, the other day while walking down an empty hallway at Church to go to Relief Society, Sister Hernandez, Sister To'a and I became engaged in a mini flicking battle. Haha. Then we heard, "Sisters" and turned around to see a man in a nametag. I was about to look around for his companion until I realized that it was President Gonzalez!!!! Ahhhh. Hahaha. He greeted us, and said it was amusing to see such "displays of frivolity." I guess he was glad to see us, albeit not being quietly dignified, getting along.

I am seriously going to miss the triple combination. I didn't know it was possible to have this much fun while working this hard--but it has been a true joy with these sisters! From the most intense game of slugbug you'll ever see to learning how to do Tahitian and Tongan dance, there has never been a dull moment. Even flies want to get in on the action which only provides for more fun in seeing Sister To'a show her Tongan strength by killing them with her bare hands.

I think that whenever you become comfortable then changes happen in the mission to keep you in a position of having to rely on the Lord. It was wonderful working with Sister Hernandez. We were on the same wavelength todos los dias, had the same sense of humor, and both were up to working hard. It was wonderful because we'd both be thinking about similar directions for our investigators and it was so wonderful to always be able to bounce ideas off each other and agree on most issues.

I received a letter yesterday from an investigator in Fresno! She wrote me and told me that she missed me and that she's getting baptized! Wahoo! I love her and am so happy for her decision!!

Things are still progressing here in Visalia 3rd! I still have some major growing up to do. Blast. The Lord has a lot of faith in me! Gah!

Love all of y'all!!! Stay cool!

Sister Bolliger

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Visalia Week 11 - Extra Miles, BBBBLLLUUUUEEEE, Sequoia's, Writing Answers to Prayers, Scripture of the Week 2 Nephi 31:20

So randomly this transfer has absolutely ZOOMED! We find out this Saturday evening about transfers. I cannot believe that another six weeks has gone by! I am pretty sure that I'm staying because we got almost twice as many miles this month for the vehicle--something I don't think they would have done if I wasn't staying. Blast! Because Sister To'a and I are already here...there's a strong chance they would leave both of us in the ward. But we're both super newbies! We've both been out just three months--and so we're a bit apprehensive at having to learn everything new and not have the stalwart senior companion to lead. Haha.

It's hard because we know the triple combination is going to end. :( It is incredible to see how the Lord puts us somewhere where we can be used. Sister To'a has been able to reach two Tongan families in our ward that have not been receptive before to Church interaction. There is such a small population of Polynesians here that I can't believe that two of fifteen families that the ward has asked we focus on are Tongan! We are all super crazy and I don't think I have laughed this long and this hard in my entire life. Seriously. So just imagine that ridiculousness that is ensuing. Probably the funniest thing is that we play the most intense slugbug game. Like full on punching. I am not kidding. What's hilarious is that sometimes the members see. Hahah. We'll be getting a ride from a member and Sister Hernandez will just deck us screaming, "BLLUUEUEEEEEEE." We always try and question the hitter and then start asking, "Where??? where? I don't see it!" Haha. The members always comment on how much we giggle and get along. It's like having a permanent sleepover. So that always makes it fun! We are still focused do not even worry.

So we spent an eternal car ride this last Monday. Graciously some members in the ward took us to see the Sequoia/King's National Park. It was so nice being where the temperatures were normal and all good! We were able to wear pants--which was also a blessing! It felt like we were sinning, but we weren't. :) The most awesome part of it all was that after we had lunch at this lodge, a girl came up to me and asked if we were missionaries. I, of course, responded to the affirmative, and then I asked her if she was LDS. I should have just opened by eyes because she was wearing her young woman medallion! She then brought her family over and talked about how her mother had served a mission in her native South Korea. Wow! It was so fun to chat with them about the gospel. They're from Canada and down visiting national parks for a summer vacation--and it was so great to talk to members under the shade of the massive sequoias. :)

The work continues going well. I have found how incredible it is when we write down the revelation that we receive, and then at the end ask if there is more. I have received some very pointed and direct answers to my questions that I know will help me in my mission and in my purpose!

The favorite scripture of the week is 2 Nephi 31:20. I have come to realize that we can have a perfect brightness of hope as we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Because He revealed himself in his perfect nature, we are able to have a perfect hope in and through him. This verse helps me continue to feel peace as I keep on keepin' on and do what I need to do to qualify for eternal life!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Visalia Week 10- Great Times as a Triple, Small World... Missionary Tablecloth, Thanks for the Encouragement, Walking ever Walking in 102degrees :)

Times have been great in the triple combination composed of Sister To'a, Sister Hernandez, and Sister Bolliger. We are getting along insanely well and the members keep commenting on how they enjoy hearing us giggle, tease, or just generally coexist. I guess we're going to need to hide the jesting a bit more. :)

Apparently, I have red hair. In the ward and mission I am described as the tall sister with the red curly hair. .... I'm not ready to be a ginger! Haha. But it has been fun and the color keeps changing as we're out in the sun so often!

So there was someone in the Singles Ward that I knew named Nathan Clements who served here in the Fresno, California mission. This is an important detail to keep in mind as I relate the following story. We went to the Hayashi home for dinner on Sunday. In their family they have something called the Missionary Tablecloth. It is a tablecloth that is used at every dinner with the missionaries and each missionary gets a half sheet size of paper to write their advice to the Hayashi children about serving a mission. You write your name, the town you're from, and the year to complete the missionary message. Some Elders drew pictures of falling off a bike and admonished making sure that the chain was on the bike before pedaling. Some Elders talked of reading the Book of Mormon and ways to prepare spiritually. Anyways. as we were eating dinner I happened to look down at the advice from one elder--and lo and behold it was Elder Clements! From Austin, TX! What a small world! How strange that not only had he served in the same mission that I'm in, but that he had dinner at the Hayashi home. It was a funny moment!

Thank y'all so much for the wonderful letters and encouragement. It has been really helpful to hear of how things are going at home and to hear of the wonderfulness that is occurring with everyone!

We're getting lots of practice in helping out people that are struggling with keeping their commitments, woo, but it's all good. The heat is getting pretty ridiculous and we take pictures of our sweat stains after our ventures outside. Haha. It's pretty attractive I have to say. It is nice that it's not a humid heat--but I don't care humid or not, 102 and up is hot!

We currently have 6.4 miles left on the car and have had that many for the last 5 days. Which means that we have been walking EVERYWHERE. And are sore to the max tambien. Haha. But wonderful members of the ward have offered us rides and transported us to various destinations which has been a blessing to us and also to them as well. :)

We're heading up to the Sequoia's next week so that should be fun! An opportunity to wear pants in public and venture out there to see some huge trees will be fun to see what the real world is like!

Peace be the Journey!
Sister Bolliger (The Younger)