Monday, June 27, 2016

I LOVE the South!

Wow, it's crazy that I'm here in Florida! Every day I wake up and think, holy cow, I'm a missionary! It's crazy how fast everything has happened. 

So last Tuesday I woke up at 2:30 in the morning to leave the MTC for the Salt Lake airport. I got to talk to my Mom on the phone which was awesome. So many strangers offered to let the missionaries use their phones and many wished us good luck! We flew for four hours to Atlanta Georgia then an hour long flight to Tallahassee. We met the mission President Smith and his cute wife, but as of today they are done with their three year mission and are soon to be replaced by... a new President and Sister Smith, haha! We stayed in Tallahassee at a hotel Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning, we went to the church where we were assigned our areas and our companions/ trainers! I'm serving in Fort Walton Beach, a city about three hours from Tallahassee. 

My companion Sister Stephens is a direct answer to prayer! She's been out for almost a year, so she's very experienced, is a solid missionary, a good example, uplifting, makes me happy, and is teaching me so much about how to be a more effective missionary! She calls Missouri home, but most recently lived in Saudi Arabia for her dad's airforce job. She's awesome and I love her! 

So I hugged Sister Wall and my other MTC friends goodbye, and we drove to Fort Walton Beach! Florida is covered in trees!!! It's soooo green and beautiful! And I kinda like the humidity! Although Sister Stephens laughs and says that this is nothing compared to what comes around in July-September, when it rains like crazy, gets crazy hot, and crazy humid. But come what may! 

We live in a cute little apartment that I'll send pictures of next week. Here's my daily schedule for your curiosity:
6:30 Wakey wakey! We get up and go on a run, because yay, Sister Stephens actually likes to run, too! And there is so much oxygen in the air, I can run for so much longer than I could in Utah! 
7:00 Shower and get dressed
7:30 breakfast
       So far we've been pretty spoiled: so far we've made french toast, fried eggs and hash browns, coconut pancakes... yeah. :) 
8-9 Personal study, like the scriptures, Preach My Gospel, and any other church material. We study for our lessons and for how we can improve. 
9-10 Companionship study. We roleplay one of the lessons we're going to have that day, practice OYM-ing (Open Your Mouth- so talking to random people we meet on the street) :) as well 
10-11 "The First 12 Weeks," which is a program for new missionaries to adjust to the field and missionary work and developing teaching skills. It's really helpful!
11-12 Lunch 
12-9 Teaching! We go to appointments with our investigators, with less active members, try finding new people to teach. We also have an hour for dinner in there. 
9:30 need to be home, plan for next day.
10:30 Bed time

It definitely took a few days to get used to this schedule, but it gets better every day! I'm loving it more and more! Every other day we get to drive the car, and on the other day we ride our bikes. I'd like to figure out how much we bike on the days we do! I'm going to have calves of steel by the time I come home! I've never sweated so much in my life! :) But I'm so happy! God is blessing me so much! This work would fail if it wasn't true! It's the most rewarding work I've ever done. 

Some highlights from my week: 

On Thursday, we had lunch with Tess Nystrom. She and her husband Yogi got baptized last year and they're solid! He's the ward mission leader and she's the relief society secretary. They're going to the temple to get their endowments soon and are going to have their marriage sealed on their anniversary in September! Tess made killer fried rice and we shared a message about the Atonement. 

One of the coolest experiences from this week was with Rod, who's an awesome African American man who has a strong belief in God. That's something that's neat about the South, that pretty much everyone we meet and teach already has faith in God and loves Him and Jesus Christ. Anywho, this was his second lesson. We talked about the Book of Mormon, which he's been reading, and taught him how by coming to know the Book of Mormon is true, we also come to know that this is truly the church of Jesus Christ, that it was restored through Joseph Smith who was a true prophet, and that God and Christ live. We invited him to ask in the closing prayer, "Is the Book of Mormon true?" and then to feel/listen for an answer and recognize his feelings after the prayer. I could feel the warm peace of the spirit as Rod asked the question during the prayer, then paused, and then said "Thank You God, for answering my prayer. I know this is what You're telling me I need to do," and finished the prayer. He felt God answer his question during the prayer right after he asked it! He said that he knew that was going to be the answer, because when we had taught him about how the Bible and Book of Mormon work together to testify of Christ, he said it just clicked for him. He's looking forward to baptism and loves the gospel! It was a miracle!

Two of our other investigators are Akiria and Rodrick, two African American kids 9 and 11 years old whose grandpa Ray got baptized about two weeks ago. They're baptism date is in about a month. They are so much fun to teach! This week we had lessons about the Word of Wisdom, Tithing, and the Law of Chastity. We have object lessons to help them learn, like using jelly beans to learn about paying tithing. 

On Friday we biked around a lot to try and see some previous investigators. We went to one sister's house, and as we knocked on the door, she pulled into the driveway and was way happy to see us. She said she never comes home at this time in the day, but that she came home from work momentarily to grab something. We set up an appointment to see her soon. I love God's timing! 

For dinner we went to the Wielden's home, some members in the ward with two young kids. We had suuupeeer amazing curry, and I had been craving curry just that morning! Another tender mercy. :) Sister Wielden told us about fish head soup that she makes (an Asian dish, I think) and she had some in the fridge, and a few of us wanted to try some, so I got to eat fish head soup! They literally chop up and cook up the whole fish head into this broth with celery. Not too bad! I just couldn't bring myself to eat the eyes. :) 

On Saturday we did service for an hour helping weed at a place called Children in Crisis. Sunday was Stake Conference in Crestview, about 45 minutes away. We taught a few lessons, had stuffed peppers for dinner, and prepared for today

So that's about it! Being a missionary is amazing, and is really a privelege. This is God's work, and being all-powerful, He could spread the gospel however He wanted, even without missionaries. But He loves us enough to let us help Him in this incredible work of inviting and helping others to come unto Christ because of how we can change for the better and help others change by being a part of it. My favorite things about being a missionary so far are being led by the Spirit every day and feeling it confirm to me the truths of the gospel as I study, plan, and as I teach an testify with Sister Stephens in lessons. Another thing is getting to know some of the awesome people that God has prepared to receive the gospel, and loving them and seeing the hope and joy of the gospel change their lives. I already love the people here so much. I invite each of you to think of how you can show more love to the people around you, how you could serve them more and think of them as the sons and daughters of God that they are. Love y'all!  
View from the airplane

Fort Walton Beach views

   Lovely Sister by the lovely water

Companions Sister Stephens and Sister Jamison

Holding a parrot!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Arival in Tallahassee!

Sister Jamison has arrived safely in the Florida Tallahassee Mission! She will first be serving in the Fort Walton Beach Area.

Sister Jamison and her new companion/trainer, Sister Stephens!

Sister Jamison with President and Sister Bradley J. Smith

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tallahassee Bound!

 #June 20, 2016
Today was my last day at the MTC!! I'm leaving for the airport at 3:00 AM! I've loved the MTC- I've learned so much and felt the spirit every day teaching me and teaching my investigators through me, which is the coolest feeling in the world. I've loved the devotionals, my district, being a sister training leader, making fun of the elders, going on temple walks, and especially teaching! 

Highlights from this past week: So when I was sick with my cold, our district leader offered to give me a priesthood blessing, but I said, "thanks for offering, but I think I'll be okay. I'll let you know if I change my mind," thinking, it's just a cold, I don't need a blessing for that. But the next day I had several thoughts come that I should ask him for a blessing. It was Elder Clarke, Elder Guild, Sister Wall and I in the classroom, and Elder Clarke gave me a blessing of healing; but he also said many things that I knew was truly God speaking to me through him. It was amazing and so comforting! And most incredibly- that very morning, I had written questions down in my journal, questions to do with things in my patriarchal blessing- and God answered them specifically through Elder Clarke in that blessing! And it was also the first priesthood blessing he'd ever given! I know that the priesthood is truly the power and authority of God on the earth. I know that worthy men can hold this power to act in God's name. Although my cold went away eventually, I'm sure the real reason the spirit told me to ask for that blessing was so that all of us present could be blessed with the witness of the reality of the priesthood. 

In other news, my and Sister Wall's investigator Shannon wrote down a bunch of restaurants for us to try in Tallahassee! She also wrote down the phone numbers of her parents, and we were both thinking, wow, we already have referrals to teach the gospel to! But haha, then she spilled the beans to us that she's one of the fake investigators, and that her dad is really a bishop, so there's a tiny chance I might serve in Shannon's home ward some day! 

The departing districts in our zone sang How Great Thou Art in sacrament meeting, and the tears were flowin'. :)  I love my zone and district so much! The elders all left for Texas in the wee hours of this morning, and it was weird to be in class without them today. Something I learned this week was how important it is to pray with real intent, which means that we're willing to act on the answers we receive. Sometimes we can pray for something, or pray with a question, wanting an answer from God, but not always being willing to act on the answer. The prayer of faith requires that we have faith, even just desire or hope, that God will answer us, that we're sincere, and that we're willing to act on the answer . As I've helped my investigators to understand that principle, I've seen their prayers answered, maybe not in the way or time frame that they want, but in the way and timing of God, which is perfect. I invite you all to strive to pray with real intent. Love you!
Sister Jamison

The whole zone together

The district (Elders to Texas, Sisters to Florida)

The Sisters sport some cute piggy tails. They have to have some fun!
 Matching Florida PJs!

The Florida Sisters at the Provo temple

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Still smiling!

Hey y'all! Sorry, I think I'll just begin every post with that because I think it's the greatest thing ever. Another awesome week at the MTC! I can' t believe I'm down to 6 days before I head out to Florida, leaving here at 3:30 am, hahaha! Last Tuesday Elder Bednar came and gave a world-wide MTC devotional that was amazing! He talked about how Christ ministered one by one, truly loving and serving individuals. Sometimes I think about serving people on a large scale, but esp. in missionary work it's so important to remember to focus on the individual. I sang with the MTC choir that night singing a song Eld. Bednar wrote with Paul Cardall called "One By One." An awesome experience!

There's something called TRC where each companionship is assigned to teach an investigator, who's either a real investigator (that's what we call someone learning about the church from the missionaries) or a convert (baptized into the church after 8) who is already baptized, but acting with their own story so the missionaries can practice teaching. Anywho, Sister Wall and I taught Olivia all last week, invited her to baptism, and she accepted!!! And she's a real investigator!!!! It brought me so much joy to know I played a part in her coming unto Christ. So since she's a real investigator, she'll go to the Provo missionaries to continue being taught before her baptism! I wish that Sis. Wall and I could keep teaching her, but we get new TRC investigators each week. But we got Olivia's email to stay in touch. I love the new investigators we're teaching, too! Brooke and Shannon, who are both so sweet, and get this- Shannon is from Tallahassee and just recently moved here with her husband. That's no coincidence! 

Haha, to juxtapose our success, Sister Wall and I had quite an interesting lesson with our teacher-investigator role play. We invited him to baptism, but it didn't go smoothly after that... But I learned a lot from that lesson! Teaching exposes my strengths and weaknesses like nothing else. :) But on a positive note, in class we were just role playing teaching in companionships, and one of the teachers was listening as I taught. He told me afterward that one of my strengths is being able to teach the doctrine simply and clearly, especially considering I'm a new missionary. That made me happy! I'm learning so much! 

I love my district so much! We laugh so much  together and we're all great friends. I wish I had time to write about all our silly experiences. 

Jack Tingey, one of my friends from high school, came to the MTC last week and I see him around a lot. I see lots of other kids from high school and USU too, which is fun. Last Wednesday, Sister Wall and I got to meet the new missionaries in our branch, get to know them, and take them on a tour. They're a fun group! On Sunday, I taught a lesson in Relief Society, which went well. 

I've had a cold the past few days, which hasn't been fun, but I'm still smiling! I went to the temple today for the last time for 18 months, which is sad, but it was wonderful experience. I went with questions in mind, and the Spirit answered all of them while I was there! There is so much power in asking questions when we go to church, the temple, devotionals, etc. and writing down the answers we receive to act on them. 

Every Sunday, the missionaries can choose from several filmed MTC devotionals. My district watched a talk by Elder Holland about being a missionary, and WOW was it humbling and uplifting and encouraging all at once! He talked about how many missionaries think so much about "when I get home" or "back to real life," but he reminded us that this is real life, and to live every minute to the fullest. He said being a full-time missionary is as close to being an ordained Apostle of the Jesus Christ as we can ever be, and that we are apostles with a lower-case a. :) How cool! My mission is truly what I make it, and I want to make every part of it, good, bad, difficult, and everything in between, a part of who I am. How can we expect to become like Christ, who experienced every difficulty, pain, sorrow, and challenge imaginable, without experiencing some difficulties, pains, sorrows, and challenges ourselves? A mission definitely has those things, but there are so many joys that make all the difference. Love you all!
 Sister Wall and Sister Jamison (companions)

Tallahasse lassies

The district

 Some branch Sisters


Missionary laundry day

Elder Tingey and Sister Jamison


No more dork dot!

June 7, 2016
Almost done with my first week at the MTC! Wow has a lot happened! Everyday is a busy schedule from 6:30 am to the time I close my eyes at 10:30 at night (give or take a few minutes). :) It took me a while to become adjusted to the schedule, and at first it was a lot to take in, but I love it now! My companion Sister Wall from Farmington, UT is so sweet and funny! We work really well together, joke around, and laugh at the elders a ton because they're still very much goofy, immature teenage boys. For example, they were complaining about one of the elder's annoying alarm clocks and laughed about it for about ten minutes straight. :) We find lots of interesting things to laugh about here at the MTC! Much of my time is spent in a classroom with my "district," or the group of missionaries that I basically do everything with. There are six elders going to Texas and the four sisters going to Tallahassee in my district. There are several districts in a branch, and we're all either going to Texas, Arizona, or Florida. My district is such a hoot! Even though we're in class for a lot of time, I'm learning so much about how to be an effective missionary and how to invite and help others to come unto Christ. We study in Preach My Gospel and the Book of Mormon a lot, which is great! My faith has been so strengthened in just the six days that I've been here! My teachers are fairly recently returned missionaries, and they're awesome! For the past several days, we've done role playing in which our teacher acts as an investigator based off of someone they know or their own conversion story, then the companionships teach them one lesson each day. It's so neat how the Spirit is present and teaches in even role playing lessons! Like one teacher said, the MTC is the Lord's way of training His missionaries. Sister Wall and I are also teaching a real investigator named Olivia who is the sweetest and desires so much to have a relationship with God and learn about Him! She has so much faith and the spirit was so present as we were teaching her! 

The food here is pretty good, and there's a lot of variety. Every day we also have an hour for exercise, which is so nice! We've played volleyball with the elders a couple time and had a blast! There is a sister from Trinidad in my district who hadn't received her endowment yet, so today a bunch of us went to the temple with her for her first time. It was so special! Tomorrow, the new missionaries are coming in and I can't wait to say "Welcome to the mtc!" to every new missionary I see, just like I heard a billion times on my first day. :) New missionaries get an orange dot sticker (called the dork dot) on their name badge for the day so everyone who sees them can help them find their way and understand their bewildered faces. :) Sister Wall and I are the Sister Training Leaders for our Branch, so we get to meet the greenies tomorrow and help them feel welcome. I can't wait!

On Sunday, Sister Sheri Dew who is an awesome female LDS speaker gave a devotional to all the missionaries. She talked about the importance of asking questions in the gospel and seeing them as opportunities for growth rather than doubts, as long as they're 1) inspired, 2) asked in faith, and 3) if you go to the right sources seeking the answers. It was so powerful and answered so many of my questions! I invite you to ponder the questions you have about the gospel, pray about them, and search with all your might, mind and strength to find the answers in the scriptures. I promise God will answer your questions from the heart! He is answering mine. Have a great week!

P.S. I took lots of pictures, but the computer is being dumb and not letting me upload. Hopefully next week!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Day one

                                                                                                                                          June 1
 Hey y'all! It's crazy that I'm already done with day one of the mission! I love the MTC! When my family  first dropped me off, I felt like I was going to Disneyland, I was that excited. Everyone here is super nice, and all the missionaries that were already here say, "Welcome to the MTC!" because they can see the orange sticker on our tags that denote the greenies. :) I attended classes where we got to practice teaching investigators and it was awesome!  My companion Sister Wall is so sweet! 
Love, Sister Jamison
 Outside the Provo Temple before the MTC
 Provo Temple
At the MTC 
(Amy did not fit in the luggage)