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

pictures!!

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 mormon.org. 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 familysearch.org. 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! 








High hopes for Fairhope!

Monday May 29, 2017

Hello! Sister Crosby and I found out this weekend that we are both being transferred from Crestview! I'm headed to Fairhope, Alabama with Sister Kirkham! I am soooo excited! I hear that Fairhope is a very nice, small Alabama town, and I already love Sister Kirkham, having met her at conferences before. Sister Crosby is excited to be going to Milton, Florida, where she is white-washing (both sisters there are leaving and she and another sister are coming in new together.) I have had a lot of happy, difficult, crazy, meaningful, and changing experiences in Crestview that have confirmed my belief that everything has a purpose.

So much happened this week! On Wednesday I went to Fort Walton for an exchange with Sister Evensen. It was such a treat to be with her! We got to teach a lesson with Milicent, the second lesson I've had with her on an exchange! Reminder, I met her last July when recent convert Roy Bell referred us to his friend and we started teaching her mom Milicent. At first I was a little leery because she has had several dropped baptismal dates, but I really think she'll get baptized this time! She has a date for June 10. It was such a joy to see her again! I could see a change in her even since the last time I saw her five months ago. She has more light about her, is happier, and seems much more firm in her faith and decision to be baptized. 

Sister Evensen was telling me about Wendy, someone they started teaching just this week and has accepted a baptismal date to work towards. She said Wendy had a Book of Mormon that her friend Ruth had given her and she had been reading. But she said there was a pass a long card in her Book of Mormon with Sister Trawick's name on it, and someone else. So of course, having trained Sister Trawick, I wondered if I had known Wendy. Then Sister Evensen said that Wendy was referred to them by the Fort Walton 2 sisters who found her name in their apartment. And then I remembered!! Way back in November when I was with Sister Trawick, we asked Sister Ruth Tedone at dinner once who she knew that would benefit from our message; she brought up Wendy, then invited her to the ward Thanksgiving dinner where I met her, gave her a Book of Mormon, and we set up an appointment. And then I got transferred to Crestview, so I never knew what happened! Turns out the sisters weren't able to teach her for some reason, but she's been reading the Book of Mormon for 6 months and now she's meeting with the 1st ward sisters and has a baptismal date!! How cool is that?? 

Another miracle: (By the way, on our mission conference call on Tuesday, President Smith declared this week Miracle Week, a week that is usually difficult for missionaries to focus and be effective since we're all wondering if we'll  get transferred) Sister Crosby and I received a call from an unknown number and a man said, "Hi, is this the missionaries?" "Yes-" "I've been learning more about the church and I just wanted to tell you all something..." We both sighed and prepared ourselves to be bashed on... but then he surprised us and went on to tell us that three and a half years ago, he (his name is Cole) met the missionaries at his apartment, asked for a Book of Mormon, but then his family moved, and he lost his Book of Mormon over several moves. Recently, he moved to Milton where his Mormon cousin told him how to get a new Book of Mormon, the missionaries brought him one, started teaching him, and now he's getting baptized on June 10th!!! How crazy is that?! Even crazier, it was several days later that we found out that Sister Crosby is going to Milton to the very companionship that is currently teaching Cole!! :D It was so cool!! He told us that the night before he received his answer of the truth of the Book of Mormon. We are trying to get the contact info of those original elders who he met three and a half years ago! 

Thursday was an exchange with the Fort Walton 2 sisters, Sister Petersen. We were at the park studying, then saw this mom with her daughters, started talking with her, and they went on to share a whole bunch of their cool stories from their mission trips with their church! They talked with us for like an hour! And the 20 year old daughter is friends with a young man in the ward who is almost done with his mission, and they all agreed to hear the message that he's sharing in Brazil! SO COOL!

Yesterday was Sister Crosby's birthday! The elders decorated the car, made her a cake, and for dinner with the Curdy's they made Cafe Rio pork burritos and chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake. The elders were there, too! It was such a good time! 

This week's thought is, "all things will work together for the good of them that love God" (not exact, but along those lines). As we strive to show our love to God by obeying Him, He will make every experience we have, both the good and the bad, for our benefit and to help us become more like His Son. I love you all!

Football n' flyers

Monday May 22, 2017

What is a week on the mission without highs and lows? 

Tuesday we had a really good lesson with Leslie, answering her questions about the Book of Mormon (which she's been reading) and talking about the importance of keeping commitments to prepare her to keep the covenant of baptism. She has such a good heart. In our second lesson with her this week, we asked her what changes she has noticed in herself since meeting with us. She said she has been trying to quit swearing and smoking, neither of which we have talked about with her yet! I love that! As she has felt the Spirit with us and while praying and reading the Book of Mormon, it has given her a desire to turn her heart to God, to change, and she is drawing closer to Him. She is much happier than when we first met her! And that's why it broke our hearts that she didn't come to the movie night, primary activity, or church this past weekend. :( But we have hope for her! 

Tuesday evening we drove to Tallahassee for our exchange with the head sister training leaders there. I was with Sister Whattcott, who I love so much! She is the one who I've known since 9th grade as violin stand partners in the Utah Youth Philharmonic. We fan-girled together over orchestra and singing, which I seriously needed! Sister Crosby and I had our interviews with President Smith at the mission home, since we had missed them earlier that day in Crestview since we were in Tallahassee. President and Sister Smith are so caring and make me feel loved. 

Thursday we weekly planned and had that second lesson with Leslie. That evening, we went to the high school football game between Crestview and Baker ( a big deal) to find and to invite people to our Meet the Mormons movie night. 

That took place Friday! We set up the chairs in the gym with the screen on the wall. A member brought a popcorn machine and we had ice cream after wards. All 8 of we missionaries probably gave out 1000 flyers, no joke. Not quite that many people came, :) but there were still a good number of ward members from both wards, and Joe our former investigator came as well as Misty and her family! It was a nice event. 

Saturday we went to a military fair to talk to people and met a few potential investigators. We also helped at the primary activity, which was good since some less active members showed up. Church Sunday was good as usual, and we had dinner with the wonderful Nelson family who I adore! 

This week I've been thinking a lot about how one of our central purposes here on earth is to turn outward and lift one another. We promise when we are baptized to mourn with, comfort, and bear the burdens of those around us. When I've been tempted to be sad or discouraged, I've found that looking outside of myself to show love to those around me, including my companion, brings healing, hope, and joy. I love you all!

Zucchini bread out our ears!

Monday May 15, 2017

Hey y'all! 

THE highlight of the week was obviously yesterday!! I had the joy of skyping with my lovely family, and talking on the phone with my brother Greg and his family as well as my grandpa. I am so grateful for that gift! It's such a surreal thing to skype with them, and so unreal to think that they next time I see them will be in person. 

This week Sister Crosby and I made 25 mini loaves of zucchini bread that we gave to various mothers and others. Food is the way to the heart! Sister Crosby made her recipe and I made mine, each of us claiming ours as the best zucchini  bread ever. :) I admit, hers was equally good, just different! 

This week while on an exchange, we did a church tour with Leslie and Sister Hicks. Although we had not had much time to plan it and our words were imperfect, God blessed us with His Spirit anyway and Leslie accepted an invitation to be baptized! 

This week I've studied about how each of us has a personal ministry. From a talk, the line "Every interaction we have with someone is an opportunity to minster to him/her." Let us all turn outward a little more! I love you all!

Sister Jamison





Friday, May 12, 2017

$125 cheesecake!!

May 8

Hello! 

Our miracle of Monday was our lesson with Lara! It was the first set appointment we had made with her that she kept! And all her kids were there! She told them to grab scriptures and paper and pencil to take notes! :) We talked about the Book of Mormon and read 3 Nephi 12 with them, and Lara helped apply the verses to their lives- so neat! 

Tuesday was MLC, which is always fun! I love meeting with the missionary leadership from all over the mission. They're a strong bunch!

Wednesday was moving day! We spent almost all day moving our stuff to the new apartment with the help of both sets of elders and the Swapps... we were worn out by the end of the day! We had a wonderful dinner with the Fetters who I love so much! Sister Fetters is a super mom!! She's been single mom-ing it with four kids while her husband has been deployed. I learn so much from her!

Thursday was zone conference! Our district wore our matching dresses and ties which I was super nervous for how President Smith and the other missionaries would react... but everyone loved it and thought it was funny! We looked pretty good! The only downside was it kind of seemed like the Crestview Show- all of our companionships ended up teaching... which was not our plan, but hey. It all works out! That night we had dinner with the Baltimores- chicken fajitas which I was super excited for, but while I was eating mine, I got a big bite of something spicy and started crying my eyes out while everyone else was talking and trying to extinguish the fire with refried beans... turns out there was a jalapeno in the pepper mix and I got it! It was pretty funny! 

Friday we talked with the Rollers- Sister Roller talked with us for a good while which was good! Then Lilly came to our sports night, which had a great turnout of nonmembers!

Saturday for our dinner appointment Sister Walker took us to the boy scout fund raiser luau dinner at the church. Afterwards there was a baked goods auction. Sister Walker tried to bid for a cheesecake for us, but when the price got too high we told her to back off, we didn't want her to buy it for so much money. One of the first ward members sitting nearby overheard and started bidding for the next cheesecake for us- we told him not to bid at it for us, that we didn't need it, but to no avail... he and another member were competing for the cheesecake, and our pleas of "no, we don't want it!" became more desperate as the price rose. But he persisted! And ended up paying $125 for that triple chocolate cheesecake!! We felt sooo bad! But he would have donated at least that much anyway, so at least a cheesecake came with it... :D 

Sunday was church, and afterwards a lesson with Leslie and Sister Hicks! Leslie said that as she's prayed about our message that it has felt right, and that she's had the thought multiple times that she needs to come to church. Hopefully this week is the week! 

Today for P-day both sets of elders and the Swapps and we went to Destin! Volleyball, shopping, Stewby's, and Bippy's. What a fun day!

The theme of my studies this week has been faith! Faith is power- it is not just an ambiguous idea or collection of beliefs; rather, it is a deep and abiding trust in God and His Son Jesus Christ, knowing in our heart and mind that they truly live and that their promises are real and truly work. Faith is action. And when we act with sincerity and conviction, or even hope, that's when the power of Jesus Christ enters our lives. The power to do what we cannot on our own. I love this quote from President Nelson from this past General conference in his talk, "Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives" :When you reach up for the Lord’s power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air, power from Jesus Christ will be yours. When the Savior knows you truly want to reach up to Him—when He can feel that the greatest desire of your heart is to draw His power into your life—you will be led by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what you should do." https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/04/drawing-the-power-of-jesus-christ-into-our-lives?lang=eng 
I encourage you to study and apply the principles of this talk! I know Jesus Christ lives and that his power is real and can change us to become as He is. I love you all! Remember your mothers this Sunday!