Monday, January 16, 2017

Eternity hangs in the balance

This has been another wonderful week in Crestucky! I absolutely adore Southern folks. I love how real they are, their hospitality, their cooking, their accents, and that they take time to smell the roses. And I love that they all love Jesus.

On Tuesday we had a stellar district meeting. It was literally about everything we were planning to teach the next day at the zone training. So inspired! We talked about increasing our love for God, having that as the motivator for our obedience, and how that relates to our purpose as missionaries. We are definitely becoming a district family, and it's pretty great. Even when I have to remind myself that elders are still teenage boys at times. 

We saw Lorraine. She has such a good heart. She's still working on quitting smoking, and she's getting better. We helped her clean her room, and serving others totally increases our charity towards them. 

On Wednesday we had zone training. One of the Niceville sister companionships taught on our missionary purpose, then a set of elders from Defuniak taught about inviting others to baptism, two elders sang a primary song a capella that was beautiful; then the zone leaders and Sister Saunders and I taught about having pure desire, how to achieve our desires, and how to thrive on the mission versus just surviving. It went really well! We had a potluck lunch afterwards. And once it was all over, we felt a gargantuan weight lifted from us and all the stress melted away and we were suddenly more organized and not feeling like chickens running around with their heads chopped off. :)

That evening we taught Joe the Restoration! He totally felt the Spirit, but he kept saying how much he loves his Methodist church and the church family he has there. When we invite people to listen to our message, to read, ponder and pray about the Book of Mormon with sincerity and intentions to act on the answer they receive, we really are inviting them, once they receive a witness from the Spirit, to change their lives completely- to walk away from many things that are comfortable and familiar to them, to stop many old habits, thoughts, beliefs, actions, behaviors, and to immerse themselves in an entirely new culture with its own language, good habits (really the commandments), people, etc. And we confidently invite people to make these changes in their lives- which can be new, uncomfortable, and lonesome for a moment. Not to mention that Satan increases the strength of his personal army on them ten times. And why do we do this? And why do people accept the invitation, choosing to go through with this path full of sacrifice? Because- they have felt the Spirit, receiving their own witness of truth, and because what comes in return is incomparable and infinitely more than compensates for any loss; real, pure and lasting joy, peace, forgiveness, cleansing, understanding, light, direction, strength, support, and love- not to mention all that is required for personal salvation- all made available because they now have the keys to unlocking and utilizing the greatest, most remarkable, and precious gift ever given to man- the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

So pray that Joe will be able to recognize an answer from God that the Book of Mormon is true. And that he can recognize what lies right in front of him. And Willy. And James. Because "eternity hangs in the balance." And it's our job to help people see that. Wow. 

On Thursday we taught Tanya who was home with her baby. She and her husband are Catholic and have two cute kids. We taught the Plan of Salvation, the Spirit was very strong, and she seemed to understand and like it well. At the end, she said she thought it was nice, but that she has beliefs contrary to all Christianity that she will never change. We talked about them, and what God has revealed concerning those things. Then we asked, "If you received and recognized an answer from God that these things are true and that these are His laws, would you change your beliefs about them?"- No. She said no. If God told her that the couple of things she believes in are contrary to His laws, she wouldn't do anything about it. Even if her salvation and happiness depended on it. We left feeling the deepest sadness for her and for what she was turning down. I wonder if she really understands what she is turning down. 

We had dinner with the Fetters that evening, which brightened our mood. Then the Niceville 2 sisters came for their exchange. On Friday I was with Sister Delgado. She is awesome! She taught me a lot about trusting in God and having confidence, which really proved to me that our being together for the exchange was inspired. We spent the day in Laurel Hill, which is about 15 minutes away in the country boonies, and we didn't get to see a lot of people, but it was a fun day. A former investigator Rick agreed to meet with us regularly, and he still wants to get baptized!

On Saturday we visited people in first ward, since we kind of covered both wards, and got some return appointments. Sunday was wonderful- Quan came to church for the second time!!! He is becoming good friends with Luther and Weston, who also invited him to Young Men's and basketball night last week, both of which he went to! The elders said he gave lots of comments in priesthood class, and testified of the truth of the Book of Mormon!!! Yayyy Quan! 

I love y'all! Have a blessed week! 

Zone training

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Dancing in the rain!

On Monday, it rained like crazy, so Sister Saunders and I had to take a minute during our dinner hour to get soaking wet in the rain. :) A couple of crazy Utahns who don't get that kind of rain very often.

From Tuesday to Wednesday we had our exchange with the head sister training leaders in Tallahassee, Sister Stephens and Sister Baker, who just so happen to be mine and Sister Saunders' previous companions, respectively! It was so fun! Sister Stephens and I spent the day contacting at a park- we met a guy named Jack who makes beautiful bread but the conversation was going nowhere, so I asked, "Have you ever heard of the Bread of Life?" and Sister Stephens did what she could to not laugh out loud. It was neat to be with her again and see how  much we have each changed for the better and learned since being with each other. I was grateful to see her again  before she goes home in a couple weeks. Before heading home, Sister Saunders and I got to see the Florida State Capitol building with its unique red striped window shades. 

Thursday we mostly weekly planned, had dinner with the Vase family, and met a less active member we hadn't met before, who was super nice. Friday was Mission Leadership Conference, where all the zone leaders and sister training leaders meet once a month to discuss the needs of the mission and how we can all improve and hasten the work. I was kind of nervous going in, but I prayed for courage to be myself and I was blessed with it! 

On Saturday, we went on an exchange with the Fort Walton Beach 2nd ward sisters, so Sister Saunders went there to be with Sister Trawick, my previous companion, while Sister Ramadahr came to Crestview. While tracting, we happened to meet a less active member who hasn't been to church in four years, but also hasn't had anyone come by from the church in that time (maybe his records haven't been moved). We also met his wife who isn't a member, and their two kids. They were super kind and agreed to have us come back! Miracle! 

Another miracle was that we went to try Quan and he was home! So we taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is doing awesome! And on Sunday he came to church!!!!! The Tews just wrapped their arms around him, took him to the classes and such. 

That was our week! Today in Alma 48 I read about how pure Moroni's desires were. He truly desired the safety and well-being of his people, their freedoms, to keep God's commandments, and to resist iniquity. He had a "perfect understanding," he gave thanks to God, and he was firm in the faith of Christ. What an incredible man! It was these things that made him  humble and a willing instrument in God's hands. And it was these things that lead to the verse saying that if all men were to be like Moroni, Satan would be out of business. Wow! Not because he was perfect, because he wasn't- but because he was obedient, humble, and willing to do all that God asked him to the best of his ability. As we are obedient, humble, and willing, God will work miracles through us as well. Love y'all!

They sure do get around!


Monday, January 2, 2017


Wowwwwwowww this week has been CRAZY! There have been so many MIRACLES I'm not sure I can fit them all in this email. People in the South always say, "God is good" and today I am saying, "AMEN!" God is always good, but these past couple weeks it has been especially obvious. 

Last Monday: We went to Ashley's house for a lesson. She and her husband are members and they haven't been married in the temple yet. He didn't stay for the lesson, and she told us about how she feels held back by him because he doesn't want to progress as much as she does. Then she told us how she had been praying for help to quit coffee (she was kinda addicted), had stopped cold turkey three days before, and then after she had resolved to quit, her two year old son had been running around their kitchen and accidentally broke their coffee pot! If that's not God saying, "you asked for help, so here it is," then I don't know what is. And Sister Saunders told her that we would quit eating treats to support her, so here we are again! She hasn't had coffee all week, so she's keeping the Word of Wisdom, and Sister Saunders and I are feeling better. Win win! 

On Tuesday, we had an awesome district meeting about setting goals. Goals are so important- they help us to reach our potential, go to God, make changes, and He strengthens our weakness. It's amazing. I've learned to love goals being on a mission. The rest of our day was kinda rough and full of rejection. Our appointment with Wanda fell through. A lady swore at us and told us to get off her porch. Another person was clearly home but didn't answer the door. But then, after getting out of the car to see if another person was home, we met their neighbor who just happens to be the nonmember daughter of a less active member in the first ward. And she wants to have us over for dinner and talk with her and her husband! God is good!

That night, we drove to FORT WALTON BEACH <3 my home for an exchange. I stayed there with Sister Kinghorn while Sister Saunders and Sister Probst drove back to Crestview. At first I wondered how I could help her as she is about to go home and I still feel very new at this (hahah, I'm saying that and I'm about to hit 7 months), but I decided to trust that the Spirit had assigned me to go with her for a reason. (We pray about which of us should go with which sister in the other companionship). She told me that she is very accepting of the fact that she is going home, is proud of what God has accomplished through her, and has changed a lot for the good and become converted, but was afraid that she might regress and lose some of her conversion. I had studied conversion, and as I shared with her what I had learned about submitting our will to God and retaining our conversion through serving His children, it was very clear that the Spirit had worked through us to edify each other and to help her. While on the exchange, we got to teach Milicent, who I used to teach before she moved!!! It was so special to get to see her again and she was so happy to see me! 

On Thursday we helped serve lunch at the soup kitchen and guess who donated the food that day? Pounders, the Hawaiian grill restaurant that some members in the ward own. It's fantastic and I've had it to eat a lot while I've been here. Then, while weekly planning, Sister Saunders felt prompted to visit Quan, an investigator they had met about a month ago and hadn't seen in a while. He is 17 and lives with his aunt and grandparents. He was home, and we had an incredible lesson on the Plan of Salvation with him, which he practically already knew and he understood everything. He totally understood the priesthood and the need to be baptized by the proper authority, even though he had already been baptized in his church. 

"So, where do I find someone who has this priesthood?"

"Many of the men at our church have the priesthood, and if you'd like we can bring someone for you to meet next time."

"So when can I get baptized?" 

HOLY COWWW. So on Saturday we brought two of the young men from the ward who were awesome. And he accepted a baptismal date!

On Friday we met with Joe Barley to do family history again, and the conversation transitioned to the gospel! We talked about finding our ancestors so that we can be baptized for them at temples, which got him super excited! He also mentioned knowing that we believe that Christ visited the Americas, and he totally believes it! We're meeting with him tonight

Saturday was the second amazing lesson with Quan, and for dinner, Ashely took us to a sushi place. It was SOOO TASTY. We had to be in at 6 for our curfew for New Years' Eve, so Ashley came by and gave us some Martinelli's. She is the best! 

Sunday was awesome, too! Sister Saunders and I played the piano and violin in sacrament meeting, "Come Thou Fount." She is such a talented pianist! She plays by ear and writes her own arrangements and pieces that are definitely Piano Guys status, at least. For dinner, we had a traditional Southern New Year's dinner of porkchops, black eyed peas, corn bread, and greens. I love the South!

One more thing. This morning, during companionship study, we get a call from Willy, the awesome guy who came to church on Christmas. He apologized for not being able to meet with us this week, and it turned into a conversation about the Book of Mormon, what it means to know it is true, and he accepted to be baptized once he comes to know for himself that is true. He understood the need to be baptized by proper authority. And that's coming from a Pentacostal minister! Need I say it again? GOD IS GOOD! 

Look for the miracles of God's hand in your life and  you will find them. Or if you aren't seeing them, pray to have your eyes opened. I love you all!