Sunday, October 1, 2017

The old and the humble

Monday September 25

Here are some highlights from the week:

Tuesday, we went to contact a former investigator. We couldn't find the right number in the trailer park, so we decided to embrace the awkward and approach a group of about 5 people who looked related somehow- they pointed us the right way, all but one accepted Book of Mormons, and two are interested in learning more. When we finally knocked on the door of the woman we had come looking for, she slammed the door- at least she made it clear how she felt. :) Then we met Mahogany, another woman standing on her porch, who was interested in meeting with missionaries in upper Alabama where she lives. The uninterested woman led us to others who are interested! 

On Wednesday we had in interesting lesson with Ellis and his daughter Kendra. Kendra said she was open to listening, and then called us a cult and said that she and her two year old son are prophets... After she went inside, her sweet dad simply laughed and told us he believed our message. He came to church on Sunday, too! He is so humble and sincere. 

On Thursday we taught Mildred (an investigator, different from the Mildred who was recently baptized.) She is in her 70s, she met with missionaries a couple years ago, believes the Book of Mormon is true, and is very humble and open to our message. We're teaching quite a few "older" people right now, which really goes to show that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone, you're never to old to change, and God looks on the heart, not on the age, race, gender, etc. And so should we!

Friday was a conference in Bonifay, FL for all the Sister missionaries! It was so wonderful! The theme was "The Errand of Angels," taken from the line "the errand of angels is given to women" from the hymn "As Sisters in Zion." The messages were about how God works through us with all our strengths and weaknesses, accepting and loving us completely, and we ought to do the same. We discussed how to overcome negative self-talk and turning outward and focusing on others. Thoughts are so powerful! I learned that when we are thinking about how others feel about themselves, (rather than what they think about us, what we think about them, or ourselves) we are filled with love, we are turned outward, and we have great positive influence on those around us, as the Savior did. I invite you all to turn your focus more outward this week- it brings real joy! I love you all!

Follow the Prophet

Monday September 18

Hey y'all!

Last Tuesday, Sister Russell and I were running for our morning exercise and we saw a teenage girl standing on her driveway with a back pack on. We were sweaty and gross, but we knew we needed to go talk to her. Her name was Darian, and she was waiting for a friend to pick her up for school. As we spoke, her mom Wandra pulled in, after dropping off another child at school. She said we could come back to talk any time her van was home! So the next day we did, and taught the first part of the Plan of Salvation, which she had not heard before but said it just made sense to her. She is really interested in the concept of a modern-day prophet, and hopefully will come to the women's session of general conference this Saturday!

That evening the Fairhope sisters drove to Atmore for an exchange. And wow did some miracles happen on that exchange! We were finally able to contact Jason who we've been trying to contact for weeks; we set up a lesson, and Sister Coon came, who grew up Baptist just like Jason did. Jason has such a strong desire to do better to please God in His life- he thought it was interesting that we asked him so much about his feelings, as he reads the Book of Mormon, hears our message, etc. He recognized a powerful time that he felt the Spirit through feelings of comfort, peace, and joy in a very dark time, which will help him recognize answers to his prayers. 

We also had a lesson with a family, two of whom know Mildred and want to come to general conference, too! They are super interested in a prophet, too- what better timing!

Thursday evening we met with Deborah at the church with Sister Akins- she is becoming more comfortable there so she can come on Saturday, too. Sunday after church we stopped by with the Morris's who made her feel so loved! They're perfect for her, especially since they grew up in Atmore, too. Members are priceless in this work! 

Our Heavenly Father loves us so much that we have a living prophet today! Think of it- a man called of God Who tells Him how to guide us- what specific things we must do to stay close to God with the unique challenges we face in the world today. I know Thomas S. Monson is God's living prophet, with twelve apostles who also have the power and authority to act and speak in God's name to give us a clear direction. That is the structure of the Church of Jesus Christ. I invite all of us to prayerfully consider questions we have- they will be answered as we listen to the speakers and the Spirit at General Conference. I love you all!

Faith over fear!

Monday September 11

What a week it's been, in crazy and wonderful ways!

Last Monday we drove out to the boonies of Stockton with Mildred to the Morris' home where we had a Labor Day barbecue with all the good Southern fixins! Mildred showed us all how to grill ribs done right. :)

Tuesday our district meeting was cancelled last minute, which was a very inspired decision by President Smith. Around 9am, Mildred called us to tell us she had been throwing up all night and all morning and wanted to go to the ER but was unable to drive herself.
Brother Albritton drove right over to take her and we said we'd drive over to be with her once he left.As we closed the door to our apartment, I realized I hadn't grabbed the keys and we were locked out! But then we realized we live right across the street from the hospital, so thank heavens for that! We walked over to check on Mildred, who was resting in a room after the doctors had drawn some blood for tests. Eventually we had to leave for an appointment, but dear Sister Spencer drove down to be with her for the rest of the day, as well as much of the next day which was a huge blessing to Mildred and us. (Mildred ended up having an awful stomach virus, but she is out of the hospital and is doing much better now after good rest, medicine, and a priesthood blessing). Anywho, walking across the hospital parking lot, I had a strong impression to look down the far right side where there would be a person we needed to talk to. Sure enough, I looked down a row of cars and saw a woman sitting in her truck. So we embraced the awkward and walked over to talk with her. Jenifer was so kind, told us she has been looking for a church to join, and happily and sincerely accepted a Book of Mormon and an appointment. We later found out she didn't live in our area, so we referred her to the Brewton sisters who have since taught her and her family (four children) a lesson, and they are very receptive!! And we would never have met her if not for Mildred being in the hospital and us locking the car keys in the apartment! 

On Wednesday we drove to find the house of a family who had been taught by missionaries in the past. As we were looking for the house number, a dog suddenly shot out from the bushes near an entrance of a trailer park and began chasing our car! A little frightened and
mostly afraid he would run into the tires and hurt himself, we sped up a little bit to lose him, and he finally turned around after a good while! We wondered if the family had lived in the trailer park, but not wanting to risk being attacked by the dog, we turned around and began heading home. But it didn't feel right. So we prayed and instantly thought of our own and other missionaries' experiences praying for help against dogs who were standing in the way of a person they felt they needed to talk to. So we again turned the car around to face the dog. We parked the car, prayed for protection, and walked outside, trusting that God would provide a way for us to do what He had prompted us to. We heard the dog bark, but it didn't come. A car was pulling out of the trailer park, and it was the father of the family we were looking for! Had we been one minute later, he would have been gone! He said, "don't mind the dog, she won't hurt you." We were able to get his phone number and plan to go back! 

Satan tries to motivate us with fear, which is inaction, while God motivates us with love to act. 1 John 4:18, " There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." Satan uses fear to try to keep us from doing God's will, from doing things that will build our faith in Jesus Christ and allow God to work through us. Don't let him have that power! Let's all yield our hearts to God and allow His love to motivate us to act with the kind of faith that produces miracles. I love you all!

Hurricane Irma

September 8
Dear wonderful families of our FTM Missionaries: President Smith has suggested that in regards to the approaching storm, Hurricane Irma, please refer to the following website. He said, "Please assure (parents and families) that we are watching and preparing for a possible hurricane hit. They can get updates on the FTM Facebook page. This is the site where you can get the latest on the storm and how it might affect us. As of today, 5 Sep (Tues) it is sunny and clear here in beautiful Tallahassee. Blessings, Sister Heaton

The Good Word

Monday September 4

It's been a happy week! Here are some quick highlights:

-We met Deborah, a sweet woman who we met while she was sitting on her porch. She accepted a Book of Mormon, and when we came back for a lesson, she told us that in those past few days since meeting us, she had felt a kind of peace and love from God that she hadn't felt in a long time; she had been reading in the Book of Mormon. It will bring us closer to God than any other book!

-We went to go visit Felicia with Sister Hall, and Felicia told us that her brother and cousin had both died on Wednesday; we had no idea what to say or do besides hug her and say we were so sorry, so thank heavens for Sister Hall who just loved Felicia and was able to empathize with her a bit as she herself had just lost her father and a friend. God knows His children's needs and often works through others to answer our prayers. 

-The Poarch Creek Indian Reservation is in our area, and one day we went to contact a former investigator who lived there. We couldn't find the address, so we decided to stop at house where a family was outside, to ask for directions. They guided us the right way, and talked with them about the restored gospel, of course! They were so interested in the Book of Mormon which is "a record of God’s dealings with ancient inhabitants of the Americas... [who] are among the ancestors of the American Indians." We, and they, thought that was so cool! The dad is the minister of a church there, and he invited us to come speak to his youth group about what we do as missionaries- we're so excited!

-Saturday was Mildred's baptism! She was glowing so much, especially as she shared her testimony after being baptized. I wish you all could have heard it! A strong peaceful spirit filled the room as she spoke of the love of the Savior she has felt increase in her life through the power of the Book of Mormon. 

The word of God is the answer to everything! Because as we feast on His words and choose to live by them, the power of Jesus Christ begins to change our desires, thoughts, actions, and hearts. This week as I pondered how I could develop greater love for God's children, a kind of love to replace any feelings of pride, I found Doctrine and Covenants 38:24-25, "And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practice virtue and holiness before me... And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself." How? In verse 30, the Lord then tells us to "treasure up wisdom in your bosoms." Treasuring up the words of Jesus Christ gives us His power to become like Him. I love you all!

I've Got Jesus in My Heart!

Monday August 28
Hey y'all! I'm settling into Atmore, and learning to love it here! It's very different from Fairhope- a small old-fashioned town that has a 60s kind of feeling to it. I think the areas I've served in on my mission have become more and more Southern with each city. :) Atmore definitely takes home the corn bread! 

The zone leaders called us at the end of the transfer day to make sure we were all settled into our new areas. After asking if we needed anything, I jokingly said, "some Blue Bell ice cream sounds good right now." A few days later they drove up to bring me some things I had left in Fairhope- we left them an extra key to our apartment to drop the stuff off since we were busy doing service at the time they were coming. On our way home after a couple of hours of being outside, we were sweaty and tired and ice cream sounded really good. I suddenly thought, "What if-?" I came home, opened the freezer, and my speculation was correct! There in the freezer was a tub of beautiful Blue Bell ice cream, Blackberry Cobbler flavored. It was a small thing, but it sure brightened our day! 

We had a sweet lesson with our investigator Felicia. I realized I sometimes make assumptions when people are raised in the South with a strong Christian background. I asked her, "how have you felt joy through Jesus Christ?" which is maybe not the most inspired question. She responded, "I haven't before." I suddenly felt humbled and grateful for the joy that I personally have felt because of Jesus Christ, and at the same time a strong desire to have her experience such joy, too. Even though these people know who Jesus Christ is and have been singing about Him since they were in diapers, they have so much potential to feel His full cleansing, peace-bringing, strengthening, joyful power in their lives! Felicia is so excited to reach that point.

Someone who has reached that point is our wonderful investigator Mildred who is getting baptized this Saturday! Oh, she is such a joy! She has been investigating the church for two years and often says things like, "I have finally found what I have been looking for for the past 60 years- I found love!" And later said, "If y'all are foolin me, continue." :D She told us how as a child, she wondered why people couldn't get along like the animals tend to do; she now knows what love is possible and has felt it from the good people of the Atmore branch. She tells us, "this is the happiest I have ever been in my life!" and it is so visible- she is full of light, life, and bursting with joy! At the end of one of our lessons, as she was sharing her sweet, strong testimony with us, she began singing a song in her rich voice: "I've got Jesus in my heart!" Ah, I wish you could all meet her! It's such a joy to get to know so many wonderful people as a missionary!

The word "gospel" translates to "good news," and that's definitely what it is! "Men are that they might have joy!" (2 Nephi 2:25) Our Heavenly Father's ultimate purpose for us is to return to live with Him and to receive all that He has, which is a fullness of joy. But we don't have to wait until the next life to experience joy- He has provided His Son Jesus Christ Who if we look to and follow, will bring us joy. I know this because I feel it every day, even on the hard days. I love you all!

Fairhope Farewell

Monday August 21

This week I'm getting transferred from Fairhope to Atmore, Alabama, which is a little town about an hour and a half northeast from here. Words cannot describe how much my heart is in this place, how much I love the ward, the people, the places, and I will miss it so much- and I know that Atmore is where I'm meant to go next! I've only heard good things, so I'm excited to see what adventures lie ahead, what people God wants me to give my heart to there! I will miss Sister Evensen like crazy, and I'm excited to be companions with sweet Sister Russell who will teach me so much!

This week I've prayed for opportunities to become more patient, and boy is there truth in the promise,"ask and ye shall receive!" On Wednesday of this week, Sister Evensen and I went to see if Tracy was home. For a week and a half, she was MIA, not answering either phone and not at home. This time, her fiance Dwayne was there, and told us she would be home later that evening. However, when we came back later, no one answered. We knocked some doors in the area and received a lot of (mostly kind) rejection from fellow Christians. After about an hour in the hot sun, with one last awkward conversation with a lady who clearly didn't want to talk with us, we got in the car to head home, feeling a little sorry for ourselves. So we prayed in our hearts for a miracle. We soon saw a couple outside trimming their trees and bushes and waved. We continued driving, but knew we had to turn around- so we did, jumped out and offered to help the couple who gladly accepted. Leandro and Elsie, an older couple from Cuba and Puerto Rico who told us they met with three nice young men from our church last year! They invited us inside, where we met a preacher Pedro and his wife who were staying with them for a series at the 7th Day Adventist church they all attend. They gave us water, Leandro played his harmonica for us, and we spoke of our shared belief in Jesus Christ. It was such a refreshing experience in contrast with the rest of our day! I was so impressed with the fact that even though they didn't show super interest in our message, they showed us true Christlike love anyway, welcoming us into their home, serving us, praying for us. They were some of the truest Christians I've ever met. Sister Evensen and I wondered, if I met two Jehovah's Witnesses, would I let them into my home to show them kindness and generosity, even if just to let them feel loved? 

They agreed to do a church swap with us, so on Saturday Sister Evensen and I went! The people there were so kind to us! Pedro presented his study of health according to the Bible, which was basically the Word of Wisdom! However, he backed the Bible verses with scientific research on the harm of tobacco, alcohol, etc. It strengthened my faith, knowing that God revealed this law to Joseph Smith decades before people knew how harmful those substances are! 

Back to Tracy- on Thursday we decided to see if she was at the pizza place where she works. She was!! We set a return appointment, had an awesome lesson where we promised her that she would receive answers to questions at church, and she and Dwayne came! They told us that on the way they had to stop for gas. There, they met a woman who walked up to Dwayne (who has dreadlocks) and told him, "After getting gas, I felt that I needed to stay here a little longer and look for a man with dreadlocks- God told me to tell you that your family situation is going to get better." WHAAATTT??? And on their way to an LDS church service, nontheless! If that's not a direct answer to prayer, I don't know what is! One of Tracy's questions has been, "is this where You want me to be?" And also, she has been pleading for help with her broken family. God's promises are real, friends!! Ask and ye shall receive! God is simply waiting to pour out blessings upon us- instead of putting up the umbrella, let's let Him shower them down! All it takes is asking in faith and doing what He asks of us. I love you all!
Here's the link to a video about receiving God's blessings that y'all should watch:

Nanna Puddin 'n Krispy Kreme

Monday August 14

Last P-day we made some seriously amazing banana pudding, or what is loving called "nana puddin' by the Southerners. We ate it all week long, and it's a good thing it's finally gone so I'm no longer tempted by it when we come in at 9pm! :)

On Tuesday we had a church tour with Ben and two of the Benham siblings, who are members. He felt the Spirit that was there, especially in the chapel. He's recognizing the positive changes in his life because of the power of the Book of Mormon! He said he no longer has a desire to party and be dumb in college- yay!

Afterwards, we went to contact a part-member family in the ward. However, we couldn't find the right house number. I felt drawn to knock on a certain door, even though weren't in our area, but no one answered. Then Sister Evensen felt like we should knock on a different door down the street- again, no answer. After this experience, Sister Evensen told me that at this point she prayed silently, pleading that God would bless to find someone prepared to accept the gospel- at that moment we saw a car pull in to a driveway up the street near the first house we had felt to knock on, so we went to go talk to them. We met Dylan, a young father with a one year-old son, who let us right into his home where we met his grandma. He looked up the house number we were looking for on his phone, gave us directions, and offered us water. We invited him to learn about the restored gospel, and he accepted, telling us he had recently been praying for guidance for how to change his life/ overcome an addiction he's struggling with. We were excited! But then we realized afterwards we didn't get his phone number... but then the next day he called us from the card we gave him!

On Friday we drove to Saraland about an hour away for an exchange with the sisters there. On my exchange with Sister Nielsen we went to give a bible to someone who had requested one- they weren't home, but we saw his neighbor outside, who ended up being a member who was baptized 9 years ago and hasn't been to church in a while but wants to come back! 

Saturday we had the wonderful privelege of being allowed to go to Fort Walton for the baptism of Wendy, who Sister Evensen taught. Here's her story- back in November when I was in Fort Walton, we asked Ruth Tedone and her daughter Tammy (members) who they knew who would love the gospel- they brought up their friend Wendy, who they then invited to the ward Thanksgiving dinner, where we met her, gave her a Book of Mormon and set an appointment. When I left, Sister Trawick taught her a couple times and tried to give Wendy's info to the other Fort Walton sisters, since Wendy lives in their boundaries.When the hand off happened, Sister Evensen was one of the missionaries who taught her! It was so special to be at Wendy's baptism! Tristian drove us, which was super fun, too! 

On the way back, we had to stop at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, because I've missed it! The hot light was on, so the line was super duper long. When it was my turn to order, I asked for my blueberry cake doughnut, and everybody laughed because I had waited so patiently for just one doughnut- but the man was so kind he gave it to me for free with a glazed one, too! (they don't normally do that even with the hot light on). I've been studying patience a bit this week. Preach My Gospel describes patience as enduring delay or opposition calmly and hopefully, without becoming angry or frustrated, waiting for His promised blessings. And He promises much more than two Krispy Kreme doughnuts! I love Alma 13: 28-29, "humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering; Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest." Eternal life is what He offers when we choose to follow Jesus Christ. I love Him, and I love you all!

Chattahoochee whatty?

Monday August 7

Hey y'all! Here are some highlights from this week!

Tracy- Wowwww, she is incredible. We met with her on Tuesday- the Spirit is helping her to understand so clearly what we teach her! We met with her again on Saturday and our friend Krissy Palmer came with us. She hasn't been to church in a while, and being at that lesson really strengthened her faith as well as Tracy's! She even came to church the next day to be there for Tracy!! (Although sadly Tracy was sick and couldn't come) Next week, though! She even texted us and asked us what her next reading assignment is... the elect keep commitments and really hunger for the gospel! 

Wednesday was MLC in Crestview, FL! It was weird to be back there. We talked a lot about the culture of our mission, how the FTM is where we talk with everyone, embrace the awkward, have faith over fear, obey exactly, work with members, seek miracles, etc. This was a big focus because half the missionaries there are going home, and twenty five new missionaries are coming in this transfer! Things are really going to shake up! It's exciting!

Right afterwards we drove to Tallahassee for an exchange with the head sister training leaders there. On the way, we wanted to stop for dinner, so we clicked on Subway in our GPS. We exited, but it was a bit farther than we expected... it was in an old Southern town called Chattahoochee, which is super close to Georgia! It was a fun little detour. We gave a pass-along card to an employee working there, so maybe that was why we went. :)

Thursday I was with Sister Jenkins, who I came out with and was in my MTC branch! We went to contact some potential investigators, and ran into a couple members who were working on a house. Then we walked up the street to knock on a few doors. No one was home/ interested. We were walking towards the car to go to the next appointment, but I suddenly felt a pull towards the street we were walking past, and a house with a blue garage caught my eye- I asked if we could go knock on the door. We did, and the woman who answered was so happy to see us! Sheila told us she she had done family history at the church for years, but hadn't been recently and wanted to start going again! She agreed to have the sisters come back to share the message of why we do family history, too!! It was so cool to see how the Spirit led the sisters to talk to people who He then led them to plan to see that day, and they weren't home, but we met Sheila instead!

Tristian is doing awesome! We met with her on Friday to start teaching the new member lessons. Afterwards we went to lunch! She is so funny! She always says things like, "Y'aaaaal, lemme tell you somethin..." On Sunday she brought her 9 and 10 year old cousins to church and they went to Primary and loved it! After church we taught the Plan of Salvation and they liked that, too. 

On my exchange with Sister Jenkins we were talking about counseling together in companionships and turned to Isaiah 1:18
"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." We talked about the verse and felt that "reason" means to make sense of something, to understand... I could imagine the Lord saying something to me like this (sometimes I try to be cool like Elder Jeffrey R. Holland...) "Come now, let's make sense of this: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow... it doesn't make sense to despair over these sins. I have already suffered for them- you can be cleansed, you can be forgiven. It makes sense because of Me. Let me heal you." Then we turned to D&C 50:10, 13-14
"And now come, saith the Lord, by the Spirit, unto the elders of his church, and let us reason together, that ye may understand... Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained? To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth." We must understand and access the cleansing power of Jesus Christ ourselves in order to then preach that knowledge to others; it is through the Holy Ghost that we access both Jesus Christ's cleansing power and His power to teach the Gospel. I know He leads this work, through the Holy Ghost! I love you all!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Carry on! :)

Monday July 31

First and foremost: Tristian was baptized and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! :) It has been such a gift to be a part of her journey, which is just starting! During the 55 days since meeting her, she has developed a relationship with Heavenly Father that wasn't really there before, and strengthened her faith in Jesus Christ to the point of Him being the source of real power to change and to have joy and peace in her life. She now knows her purpose in life and her direction has eternal perspective. Her language, thoughts, and actions reflect her knowledge that she is a daughter of God. And she is so happy! 

Everything went smoothly, and many members from the ward came to support Tristian. A couple of her cousins came, too. It was a very nice, spiritual service. Tristian chose "Carry On" as the closing hymn, which, if you know it, is a very peculiar choice! :) She had heard it at church once and loved it! The baptism gave a lot for Samantha to think about, too. Yes, she came to Tristian's baptism! Last Monday we had met with her for the first time in a couple weeks- she told us she has read the Book of Mormon almost every day and has received a testimony of its truthfulness. We told her we'll need to meet with her more often to help her progress towards baptism, and she said she would try to get work off on Saturday to be able to come to Tristian's baptism. Then, throughout the week, she didn't respond to any of our texts or calls, so we didn't know if she was able to come. We were worried, so on Saturday morning we attempted to find the house her family is renovating to move into- I had never been to her actual house (we always meet at the library), but a couple weeks ago she took Sister Kirkham and I to see this second house. Anywho, I tried relying on my memory to find it, but we couldn't. Thankfully, she showed up at the baptism! Turns out her phone had run out of minutes, so she couldn't respond to us. :) 

And it was meant to be that she couldn't! Here's the other half of the story- when Sister Evensen and I couldn't find Sam's house Saturday morning, we looked in the GPS to see if there was anyone nearby we could visit, since we had drove all that way. The first heart we clicked on was the Bosbys, a former investigator family. I had met the dad when I first arrived in Fairhope, but we hadn't been able to get a return appointment and had kind of forgotten about them. We knocked and the mom Tracy answered the door, excited to see us, and told us to come back that evening. We did; it was just us and Tracy, who told us that just that morning she had pleaded with Heavenly Father in prayer for guidance- we knocked on the door just hours later. She has such a strong desire to do what God wants her to do, to find peace and joy. She clung to everything we said and trusted us, which really made me feel the mantel of my calling as a representative of Jesus Christ- that's what she saw us as. At the end she prayed so sincerely. On Sunday she came to church and loved it. 

Throughout this week, I have felt so strongly how much God loves His children. That is why He allows us to serve each other. What an incredibly joyful privelege it is to be a missionary. What did I do to deserve to be a part of these miracles? Of being God's small, weak instrument in helping bring His children peace and joy, and some day home to Him? We don't "deserve" anything- God gives us a taste of the joy that He has because He loves us. His perfect love is His pure motivation. What is our motivation? He wants us to serve each other, to love each other, to become like Him by becoming like His Son Jesus Christ a little bit more each day. Jesus Christ is our perfect example of how to return to live with God and receive all that He has. He lives! Carry on!

This is the best thing in the world!

 Monday July 24

This week was busy and happy! Here are some highlights:

Wednesday was zone conference in Daphne. It was one of the best zone conferences I've been to, and I've been to quite a few! I think it was because we followed the counsel of Elder Uceda to "talk less, do more." We did a workshop on finding with six five-minute trainings, each followed with 15 minutes of role-playing/evaluating. One district leader even incorporated a clogging competition in his training to illustrate the point that as missionaries we each have unique talents to serve with. :) That evening we had dinner with the Spencer family who made the best banana pudding I've had, and I've had quite a bit of naner puddin here in the South. 

Thursday we helped Sister Wilson who makes quilts with a group to give to war veterans. 
That evening we met with Robert and Ruthie, who told us very frankly and firmly that they will not ever join the church, nor pray about the Book of Mormon. I was sad to see it end there, but thankful for their honesty, as we are to find and teach those who are willing to act. They said they'll still love to have us over for dinner in the future. We love them!

Friday we felt like we needed to try to visit Mary, a friend of Brother Winberg's who he had asked the missionaries to visit several months ago. There was no answer when we knocked, but the door of the adjacent apartment (a duplex) opened and a boy told us to knock on Mary's patio door instead. As we were about to try this door, we saw through the glass that Mary was taking a nap on her couch, but we decided to embrace the awkward and knock on the door. We did wake her up, but boy are we glad we did! She let us right in, we answered her questions, taught the restoration, and she loved it. She is so open to additional truth and was so touched when we gave her her own Book of Mormon. 

Saturday morning, we did yard work for Deirryah and Erriah, and their mom Diedrah, (use phonics). They're two young women that are good friends with some members in the ward. It was super fun! We hacked some gnarly vines, clipped hedges, and Brother Palmer from the ward mowed the grass in their back yard. Alabama is such a jungle! We saw two huge spiders the size of the palm of my hand... 

We've been doing a lot of planning for Tristian's baptism- pray that all goes well for this Saturday! The ward has been reaching out to her with so much love and support, and she feels ready. She is so wonderful! 

This week Alma 33:11 stuck out to me- Heavenly Father is perfectly mindful of all that we are struggling with. His Son Jesus Christ is the source of joy and peace- it is a choice we can make to allow him to take our afflictions and let them be swallowed up in His joy. It is such a reality!

Unplanned opportunuties

Monday July 17

This week was transfers! I was sad to have Sister Kirkham leave to Daleville, AL- I had such a wonderful transfer with her; but God knew my expectations were high so he sent me Sister Evensen! And I love her just as much! She is so joyful, motivating, and has such strong faith. She is from Alpine, Utah, just came here from Fort Walton Beach (woohoo!) and loves nutrition and health.

Funny experience of the week: one morning for our run during exercise time, Sister Evensen and I took a route that Sister Kirkham and I frequented. However, this time I wanted to lengthen our run, so I decided to take a left turn at the bottom of a hill. I figured that it would loop back and come around to reunite with the main street. As we entered this new street, I had a thought to turn around and go back the way we had come. "No," I thought, "we would have to go back up both of those big hills if we did that; this way will be easier." And at first it was, a nice constant slope. But it was sure a long street, and eventually I didn't recognize where we were. But I was confident that it would come out on the main road again. Finally we saw a street light ahead, and ran towards it with our might. We had not looped around to the main road, but rather found ourselves far north of it! To get home, we were required to finish the square, running along that parallel road, then down another long street that finally took us to that main road, near our apartment. We ended up running closer to 45 minutes than our scheduled 30 minutes. If only I had known how much more difficult that road would make our run! :D That day I learned a very valuable lesson: when we choose to ignore the promptings of the Spirit, we choose to increase the difficulty of our own path. 

Wonderful experience: We had dinner with Tristian at the Amares' home on Saturday!! (By the way, she is alive and well! She had just been out of cell range last weekend, unplanned.) She said they felt like family. The elders were there, too, and there was a lot of laughter. I love the Amares because they're fun, the Spirit is in their home, and they are real at the same time. You know they're not perfect, but that the gospel is working for them. They shared comments/testimony as we taught about prophets and the priesthood. Tristian is doing wonderful! She came to church, and she's already inviting people to her baptism. She has changed my life with her example of faith and recognition of the peace, understanding, and positive changes she is seeing in her life. I love her!!

Also, on the way home from that dinner, we decided to stop at the Fairhope pier (not planned) to show Sister Evensen. On the pier we met a woman name Daisy who shared with us the challenges she is experiencing in her family. The message of the Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ's restored gospel gave her hope. God places us where we need to be as we simply desire and try to do good and be good. 

Last thing: the Jurgens family invited us over for dinner last night where their oldest teenage children had invited their friend Ben to come. He had been asking questions and accepted their invitation to hear our message. It was incredible to see the change in Ben as we taught the message of the restoration of Jesus Christ's gospel and Church- each family member helped teach simply and testified, which invited the power of the Spirit in a very real and tangible way. Ben changed from initially having questions and having an "I'm right" attitude to being humble, willing to find out for himself the truth, and being excited about the Book of Mormon. The Jurgens had been praying for 2 years to find someone who would agree to hear the message we missionaries share. What a joy to be a part of that!

I love you all! Keep pressing forward in faith!

"Preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15)

Monday July 10

Hey y'all!

On Tuesday the 4th, we drove to the mission home in Tallahassee where we would stay the night for a leadership conference the next day. That evening we had a classic fourth of July meal of hot dogs and hamburgers, played a game, and watched part of a seminar for new mission presidents. It was so good to be with those friends and with President and Sister Smith, who I have really come to love and admire. The next day we had our conference at the church building right next door; the point that stuck out to me the most was that when we are prepared, we allow the Spirit to work through us most effectively. "Success is where preparation and opportunity meet," and it is through the power of the Holy Ghost that we prepare ourselves with prayer, study, and willing hearts to act in faith on His promptings to do God's work. I'm so grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost! 

After the conference, we drove about 5 hours to Semmes, Alabama for an exchange with the sisters there. We stayed the night in the trailer they live in on the farm land of a member... they live on a farm! :D We woke up in the morning with horses outside that we went out to treat to some Top Rammen. The members who live in a house also on the large property invited us to come see the animals which they teach children about for a learning program. SO fun! We did weekly planning with the sisters, did some service at a community center, and headed back home. 

A miracle from Saturday- I saw a Northrop street (last name of some of my cousins) and we pulled onto a side street (a cul de sac, nonetheless) so I could take a picture of it for my cousin. We got back in the car and circled the cul de sac to get back onto the main road. We passed a house where a man was out sitting on his porch. After a few moments, Sister Kirkham pulled the car over and voiced both of our thoughts that we needed to go back and talk to him. So we did- his name is Clifton and he was very kind and accepted a return appointment. There's something about cul de sacs, or there are just a lot of them in Fairhope!

The past few days have been a little hard because we haven't been able to get in contact with our investigator Tristian- we know she isn't the kind to ignore us. So we are praying for her, and trust it will all work out! I have learned a lot recently about trusting in God- to do so is an act of faith in Jesus Christ who frees us from doubt and fear. A quote from Elder Dallin H. Oaks from his talk "Sharing the Restored Gospel" October 2016 general conference: "Sharing the gospel is not a burden but a joy... [it] is not a program but an attitude of love and outreach to help those around us. It is also an opportunity to witness how we feel about the restored gospel of our Savior. " Have a blessed week!

The Holy Ghost

Monday July 3

Happy Fourth of July!

On Tuesday we had district meeting, then had a lesson with Tristian, who we saw three times this week. She is on fire!! Without us even talking about it, she has been going through her music to get rid of songs that swear or are otherwise degrading and she's trying to quit swearing! She is SO COOL! Even though she works and goes to school full time, she's been reading the Book of Mormon almost every day, takes notes, and asks us her questions. Also, she came to church on Sunday and asked if she can invite her friends to her baptism. It has been so neat to see the change in her since we first met her. She can feel and see Jesus Christ through His restored gospel making her more patient and kind, more like Him. :) :) :)

Wednesday was the first of three related experiences this week that Heavenly Father gave us to teach us more about following the Spirit. Sister Kirkham and I went to visit a potential investigator who lived on a cul de sac (three separate words?) Anywho, we had passed a house with some people out on the front porch. After seeing if our friend was home (she wasn't), we went around the rest of the cul de sac and passed that other house again on the way out, the people still sitting on their porch. A thought came to mind that we should go talk with them, so I told Sister Kirkham. She pulled over- we had already passed that house twice- awkward- and to add to it, Sister Kirkham had been there once before and talked to someone who lived there- even more awkward. The more we questioned the thought, the less we wanted to go back, but I remembered the joy I had felt when I had first had the thought to go talk to them, so we decided to embrace the awkward and go back. SO glad we did and that God knows best! We met Sharonia and her mom Sandra who are Catholic, but Sharonia (coolest name, right?) is leaving the Catholic church and looking for a new one- we set a return appointment and she is so excited! 

The second experience came on Friday. We were in a neighborhood near Fairhope High School when we remembered the names of a couple whose had simply been written as "behind the high school" by previous missionaries. And their phone number didn't work. Well, there are a lot more than one house behind the the high school, but we decided to go try to find it anyway. We drove to the neighborhood behind FHS, felt to turn down a certain street, and drove to the end (it was a cul de sac), where the high school was in view, and decided to knock on the door. But right after we had that thought, we thought, "oh, but it'll be awkard- what if they don't live there? We are so crazy..." but we punched Satan in the face and knocked on the door anyway. Anita and Bill did not live there, but the woman who answered the door was- get this- the clerk of the church they attend, called Bill right there, asked if she could give us their address, and Bill said, "yes, and make sure they have our number, too!" Oh, and by the way, Bill and Anita live three streets away from the house we knocked on. 

Experience number three came Friday evening when we went to see if Gilvonia was home. We circled around her cul de sac (do I sense a pattern?) to park the right way in front of her house, and saw a couple and their daughter sitting on the bed of a truck in front of another house. After parking and discovering that Gilvonia was not home, we felt we should go talk to the couple we had seen. We started walking to the end of the cul de sac, but then saw that they were now in a group talking to some other neighbors. We stopped, out of their sight, and debated- it's so awkward to approach a group of adults, we don't want to interrupt them, wow this is awkward- and we turned around, telling ourselves we would just knock on their door another day. As we drove away, we both felt unsettled and knew that we had made the wrong choice- so we turned the car around, parked, and walked back towards the people. However, the group had dispersed and the couple was again sitting on the edge of their truck, just them. Wow. Soon after introducing ourselves, the husband Craig told us that he and his wife Kim had been arguing just an hour ago, decided to come outside and cool off, and he said that he knew God had led us to them. YEAH. They live in Mississippi, but are going to get in contact with missionaries there, and said we could come back to visit Craig's mom who they were staying with. 

Three lessons learned from three experiences about the third member of the Godhead: 1-The Spirit prompts us with very gentle thoughts, and all thoughts to do or be good come from God. 2- The Spirit speaks to us through a thought and a feeling (D&C 8:2), and immediately following, Satan tries to dissuade us with thoughts of negativity and doubt and feelings of fear, including fear of awkwardness. 3-The longer we wait to act, the more appealing inaction (fear) becomes. So- there is a God, and He is incredibly involved in the smallest details of our lives, and He has given us the perfect gift of the Holy Ghost to guide us to do His will. And this is what I so dearly want people to have. In his talk "Let the Holy Spirit Guide" from the April 2017 General Conference, Elder Rasband said, "We must be confident in our first promptings. Sometimes we rationalize; we wonder if we are feeling a spiritual impression or if it is just our own thoughts. When we begin to second-guess, even third-guess, our feelings—and we all have—we are dismissing the Spirit; we are questioning divine counsel. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that if you will listen to the first promptings, you will get it right nine times out of ten.17
Now a caution: don’t expect fireworks because you responded to the Holy Ghost. Remember, you are about the work of the still, small voice." I know that the Holy Ghost is real and that He can be received by and as the constant companion of anyone who follows the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God. I am so grateful to have Him with me, for without Him, this work would be impossible. For those with this gift: are we striving each day to live worthy of Him being with us? For those who do not yet have this gift: imagine life with it- what are you willing to do to receive it? I love you all!

Sunday, July 2, 2017


I updated a bunch of old recent posts with pictures! (I've been slacking) :/ Check them out, there are some pretty fun(ny) ones! :) Here are some of the best.  -Amy

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Be All In!

Monday June 26

This week we tried to stay dry with Tropical storm Cindy! Thankfully the sun is back out. :)

Last Monday we met with Sam. She is doing great, she has really been studying and praying to receive an answer for herself about the truth of the Book of Mormon and this being Jesus Christ's church. She expressed that her Mormon family members would rejoice if she got baptized but her Baptist family members would be repulsed... but she has a strong desire to confirm her beliefs that this is the right path for her. This week we're planning to introduce her to a member who joined the church despite family opposition. I admire those who have that integrity. The blessings that come are real and well worth it. 

Tuesday we had district meeting and spent the day visiting people in Loxley/ Robertsdale/ Silverhill. We knocked on the door at the adress of a less active member and found she had moved, but that a young family had moved in. They were interested, so we hope to meet with them! That evening, we went to a surprise good-bye (they're moving) party for Rex and Michelle who I had heard so much about. They are good friends with Esther, Matt, the 20s group. It was so uplifting to be around so many people around my age that have strong faith in Jesus Christ, even if they have some different beliefs. 

Wednesday we did service at Emmy's thrift shop while cats and dogs fell from the sky. We were told to continue to go out and teach, so we drove to our dinner appointment with the Christensens. And well worth it because they made brownie cookies for dessert that were soooo goey and good, and somehow gluten and dairy free, too! The members are really good about helping Sister Kirkham with her allergies. 

Thursday Sister Boxx took us to Ruby Tuesdays with her sons, so it was an entertaining meal. We weekly planned. 

Friday we were on an exchange with the Mobile sisters, I was with Sister Jensen! We had an awesome lesson with Tristian and Sister Mills; Sister Mills bore powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon and promise Tristian she will receive her own answer of its truth. She's an awesome teacher! Tristian- she is so dedicated and sincere and real! She just gets it! This past week she noticed that she was much more patient with people, less angry, and that people noticed and asked her about it. She told them the source of her change was from going to church, praying, and meeting with the Mormon missionaries. When people gave her grief about it, she would ask, "do you even know any Mormons?" "No..." "Then how can you say that?" Yeah Tristian!! She wasn't even phased! In her prayer, she said she feels assured that she is on the right path. Ahh, I love her!

Sister Mills took us to lunch at Panini Pete's in the French Quarter of downtown Fairhope... so good!! She bought us beignets for dessert! I felt like I was in New Orleans. :) We had a lesson with investigator Alice who said the closing prayer, which was a big deal, to say the least. Then dinner with Robert and Ruthie! They had us pick and take home blueberries from their tree, and showed us how to make a blueberry crumble. We taught the Restoration, but I think they wanted to know more for information than seeking to have a change of heart... It was still a nice time, though!

Saturday we took the car into Pep Boys for an oil change. There was a long wait, so we walked to a Thai restaurant for lunch. The waitress was so kind and loved what we do as missionaries, so she paid for our meals! Tender mercy, because it's the end of the month and funds are running pretty low... it was so kind of her! That evening the elders' investigator Bobby got baptized. There were 100 people there! He's wanted to get baptized since 14 but had to wait until 18 because his parents were opposed. It was so neat to see all the support and love he's received over the years by members to help him get to this point. 

Sunday none of our investigators could come to church, but it was still an uplifting meeting. We had a funny dinner with the Amare family. 

This week I loved Elder Gary B. Sabin's talk, "Stand Up Inside, and Be All In." He said, "When my dad was 90, we were in an airport and I asked him if I could get him a wheelchair. He said, “No, Gary—maybe when I get old.” And then he added, “Besides, if I get tired of walking, I can always run.” If we are not able to be “all in” the way we are presently walking, then maybe we need to run; maybe we need to recalculate our route. We might even need to make a U-turn. We might need to study more intently, pray more earnestly, or just let some things go so we can hang on to those things that really matter. We may need to let go of the world so we can hang on to eternity." I love you all!

Southern accent?

Monday June 19

Hey y'all! I thought I was developing a Southern accent, but clearly not- this week a linguist from Croatia was so tickled by my and Sister Kirkham's Utah accents; at least she thought they were cool!

On Tuesday we had district meeting in Foley- a member Sister Emmertson drove us and took us to lunch at Olive Garden afterward. We had a lesson with Matt (ironically at a coffee shop)- :) among the group of 20s aged people we know who were all raised Baptist and now attend modern Baptist or non denominational churches, he is one of the most open to learn and do what is required to receive an answer- still difficult to tell someone they only enjoy the influence rather than the gift of the Holy Ghost. 

Wednesday, we had an exchange with the Toxey sisters. Sister Ball and I did service at the library, checking books to make sure they were organized and tidy. We then visited Alice who has been investigating the church for quite some time, believes the Book of Mormon is true, but struggles with the concept of a modern prophet. I have faith from experience, though, that her concern can be resolved! :) That night, we had dinner with the Petersen family, who had a nonmember friend over who just graduated and is searching for purpose and happiness. We are trying to meet with her because we know Jesus Christ through His restored gospel will bring her that! Unfortunately, Satan knows that, too, and sure does all he can to make sure people like her can't meet with us. That's why we must do all we can to oppose his efforts with our own!

Thursday we went to visit a former investigator Molly, but found she wasn't home. Neither was her neighbor, who was previously interested. So, we knocked on a door around the corner and met a woman who said to come back later. She said she thought her neighbor Denise was Mormon, and right at that moment Denise pulled up in her car! We met her, and turns out she's RLDS- she welcomed us right into her home where we had a nice conversation. She was not interested, but it was interesting to ask each other questions. On the way to our dinner appointment, at a stop light, the car next to us with three guys inside asked for our number- I said no, we're missionaries, and invited them to check out They said they would! Maybe not for the right reasons, but hey. It was funny. :)

Friday we met with Tristian at the pier- she's who was working at the care home where we were visiting a member the other week. The Spirit really led that lesson! When we invited her to church, she said, "I get off at 7am, what time is it at?"... "9am"... (no hesitation) "Okay, I'll be there." Even after a night shift! If that isn't a sign of dedication, I don't know what is!
That evening we saw Gilvonia and emphasized the importance of coming to church. She works Sundays to help provide for her kids as a single mom. Sometimes when I hear of people's difficult circumstances, I hesitate to invite people to make the sacrifices necessary to come to church, pray, and study the scriptures. However, the Spirit always reminds me to have more faith and boldly promise to them that when we want to follow Jesus Christ and receive answers, peace, and direction, He will provide a way to keep His commandments, even when that requires sacrifice. 

Saturday we unlocked the church for people preparing for a wedding, did our weekly planning, and attended the civil wedding of two members. Lots of good food!

Yesterday Tristian came to church for all three hours! She felt very loved and enjoyed it! We had dinner with a couple- ox tail stew, which sounds weird but it was soooo tasty! Flan for dessert. :) The husband is a member and the wife is not. Two of their friends were there, too. They asked some questions about the church and Brother Ramos answered and taught very simply and powerfully. One of the friends was interested in learning more, and we gave her our number. 

Trusting in God's promises is an act of faith that requires truly believing that when we act according to God's words with sincerity, those blessings He promises will really come forth. I know that with God, all things are possible, and He always provides a way for us to keep His commandments. I love you all!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Fabulous Fairhope

Monday June 12, 2017

Wow, what another miracle week! 

Last Monday, Sister Kirkham and I went to Marble Slab, comparable to Cold Stone ice cream. We chatted briefly with the happy young woman serving us ice cream. We went outside to eat our ice cream, then went back in for water, and the same young woman got us water. We both looked in our bags to see if we had a pass-along card to give her, but didn't. So we went back outside and to the car to get a card, and we went back into Marble Slab for the third time... it was so awkward, but we embraced it! I walked up to to the counter again- I must have looked nervous, because the young woman (same one) asked, "Is everything okay?" I said yes, then explained who we are, that we share a message of Christ's church being restored to the earth, and that we noticed that she had such a light about her and would love to share our message with her. She was beaming! She said, "Can I give you a hug?" and came out from behind the counter and gave me a hug! She was so sweet! Her name was Avrionna, we exchanged phone numbers, and she agreed to meet with us! 

Tuesday we had district meeting in Foley, which is about a 20 minute drive. Afterwards, we tried contacting some potential investigators in Silver Hill, a small town that's part of our area. We visited Angela who is a recent convert living in group/care home of sorts. The CNA there overhead us talking about the Book of Mormon, caught Sister Kirkham's attention and asked her, "Hey, I know I'm not a member of  your church or anything, but could I get a Book of Mormon from you?" Absolutely! We gave her one, exchanged information, and have a lesson with her this week!

That evening we had dinner (Cafe Rio again!!) with the Stake President and his family, the Jergensens. We participated in their family scripture study where they keep things interesting by reading the Book of Mormon in funny accents... it was a hoot! :) 

Wednesday we basically drove to Tallahassee, it's three hours away plus we add an hour with the time change. Thursday morning we went to the church for the leadership council meeting with Elder and Sister Uceda from the quorum of the Seventy. I was very impressed by Elder Uceda's boldness- he was able to be very honest with us and it was okay because I could feel and see how much he loved us, the Lord, and this work, and he emanated spiritual power. For example, he told us, "most of your investigators are not progressing because of you." He went on to emphasize the importance of becoming better teachers, talking less, listening more, praying and reading more with those we teach, always thinking of, praying for, and speaking with our companions about those we teach and their needs. His words were a powerful reminder and motivation to refocus on the things that matter most and strengthen my efforts. 

Friday the west half of the mission held a conference with Elder and Sister Uceda in Pensacola, Florida (the east half met after the leadership meeting Thursday.) He spoke on some of the same things, but added some more powerful insights. He told us, "There is no disobedient God in the universe. If you don't learn obedience as a missionary, it will be very hard for you to learn it afterward." He encouraged us to boldly invite others to act, especially to pray with us, even if we have to wait 30 minutes for them to do so! 

Saturday we had an exchange with the sisters who serve in Semmes, Alabama, about an hour from Fairhope. I was with Sister Burnham, who came out a little more than a week ago. We went to the home of someone who had requested to meet with missionaries, but found out he was only 13 (we had no idea) and his mother was not happy to see us, to say the least. So headed back to the car, we decided to knock some doors in the neighborhood. The first house a very kind man answered, told us he was busy but to come back later, and then without us asking, referred us to several of his neighbors by name! The only one home was right next door, Robert. He answered the door and invited us in right away! His 25 year old daughter Bella was there, too. Robert told us he has met missionaries before and that his minister told their congregation that Joseph Smith was called by God and played an important role in preparing us for Christ's return!! :O What???? He basically taught us the restoration! And then we retaught it to them. And Robert said he believes it all, Joseph Smith, a living prophet! Oh, and he has read the Book of Mormon before, 15 years ago and knows it's true. No big deal. We set a return appointment, then asked him who he knew that would benefit from our message, and went on to give us 5 referrals... so we contacted them and found two more people who are interested in hearing our message! And all this because of that 13 year old boy who had no idea he was leading us to his very prepared neighborhood. 

Yesterday our investigator Samantha came to sacrament meeting with her niece Rosalyn and they loved it! Samantha, who grew up with some LDS family members, said she wants to come back! 

Basically, it was the best week ever. I have really come to know that this is the Lord's work, not ours. He knows the hearts, desires, experiences, needs, pains, joys, weaknesses, and strengths of each of us. Being faithful means being obedient, submitting to God's will and timing, and patiently knowing that God's promised blessings will come. I love you all!

Sweet home Alabama!

Monday June 5, 2017

Hey y'all! I am loving it here in Alabama!

Basically Monday and Tuesday involved packing. Poor Sister Crosby got a stomach bug, as well as Elder DeLaMare and the family we had dinner with last Sunday. Tuesdayevening we had dinner as a district with the Swapps who made homemade tacos. Thankfully she felt better in time for transfers on Wednesday.

Fairhope is the CUTEST town I have ever seen in my life! It really looks like a picture- a quaint Main street with beautiful architecture, little shops and restaurants, tree lined streets, beautiful homes, flowers everywhere- I would totally come back to live here someday. And I love being with Sister Kirkham! She is so kind hearted, genuine, and really good at connecting with people.

Wednesday evening we had dinner with the Palmer family, and I had the joy of nerding out over choral music with their daughter. :) Thursday we went to the library where each week a couple of the ward family history consultants come and we all help anyone who is interested on A couple people came, and it was fun. Sister Wilson took us to lunch afterwards. Next, we visited D'amarus who has been investigating the church for awhile. She was so kind! That evening we had dinner with the Wells, a fun couple in the ward.

Friday morning we had a lesson with a new investigator Matt at a coffee shop; he is the drummer for a band of a non denominational church in Fairhope, where the sisters met him while they were doing a church-swap with someone (we'll go to yours if you come to ours. :)) He was very open and sincere in his questions, and genuinely wanted to understand what we believe. It was very refreshing! We had lunch with Sister Michim, then had correlation with our ward mission leader Brother Klippel, who was an MTC teacher for three years and moved here a while ago from Provo with his wife. Fun couple! He is a hard working ward mission leader, very helpful, and knows how to get things done.

For dinner we had something called Soul Bowlz, an acai berry smoothie bowl with granola and fruit. Sooo good! Then we met with Jilvonia, someone the sisters met in front of her house. We taught the restoration, and the spirit was strong; it was so neat to see her transition of "I don't need to go to to church to be close to God" to accepting an invitation to be baptized and expressing her desire to do more for God! The Spirit changes hearts when 
individuals let Him in!

Saturday the elders and we volunteered to help at a Triathalon! We stood at an intersection and directed the bikers to turn. It was so neat to see! Afterward we helped with food at the after party. Lots of fun!

Sunday we had church- I have felt so loved and welcomed by all the members! They really reached out to me, and to Esther, a friend of ours that the sisters met at another church. She stayed all three hours and loved it! Later that evening, we went to her church, which is very different from ours and was very interesting to experience. The service was in an auditorium and started out with a band on the stage playing several Christian rock-type songs (which were actually pretty good, just not what I would expect at church). It basically looked like a concert, with colored lights and people standing and waving their arms. Then we watched a broadcasted minister who shared a motivating message about seeing ourselves as God sees us. It was an interesting experience, and neat to see another way that people worship.
I found a talk from General Conference that carries a similar message to the sermon we heard at City Hope church. It's called, "Don't Look Around; Look Up!" In it, I liked something that Elder Choi said: "One day, a few months after my baptism, I heard some members criticizing each other in church. I was very disappointed. I went home and told my father that maybe I should not go to church anymore. It was difficult to see members criticize others like that. After listening, my father taught me that the gospel had been restored and it is perfect but members are not yet, neither himself nor me. He firmly said, “Do not lose your faith because of the people around you, but build a strong relationship with Jesus Christ. Don’t look around, look up!”

Look up to Jesus Christ—the wise advice of my father—strengthens my faith whenever I face challenges in life. He taught me how to apply the teachings of Christ, as in these words: “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.”" I know this is Jesus Christ's church restored on the earth with the power and authority of God needed for us to become like our Savior and return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father. I love y'all!