Monday, March 27, 2017

Fish Fry!

 March 6, 2017 *sorry this is out of sequence, forgot to post this one!

Hey y'all! This week was full of highs and lows, but so goes missionary life!

Last Monday evening after our fishing adventure, we had dinner with Brother Tew and the elders at Bamboo Sushi, and then we visited with the Corliss's, an older couple in the ward. They're darling! For their family home evening, we shared a lesson about the importance of daily scripture study and prayer. Those things, along with coming to church each week, really bring the Spirit into our lives and help us to keep the commandments. It's the small and simple things!

On Tuesday we had district meeting. Then, Sister Vause picked us up; we saw Sister Henderson, who is preparing to receive her endowment at the temple! She's worked super hard to get to his point. She is so excited for the peace and joy she knows she'll feel there- and I'm so excited for her! The temple is such a healing place. Sister Vause promised she will help her finalize the last little details to make this actually happen!  

After dinner which was dropped off to us at the church, we met with Joe. We did a little family history, then I asked him about his Book of Mormon reading. He had read 10 chapters, but hadn't prayed about it. We explained again as we had several times before about how if the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was truly called as the prophet through whom Jesus Christ would restore His church in its fulness to the earth again. I again testified of the  Book of Mormon, how I have come to know it's true, and the joy and peace it has brought to me- but Joe continued to share experiences about how he "already knows Jesus" and has been in his Methodist church his whole life. Then, Brother Hicks who was working at a computer (he comes to open and close the family history center) turned around and began to speak with Joe. To be honest, I was a little concerned at first- what is he going to say? I wondered. Then a thought came from the Spirit: if Joe is actually prepared to receive the gospel, God won't let anything someone may say keep him from receiving it. That was big slice of humble pie. So I ate it and sat quietly. Brother Hicks shared with Joe how he met the missionaries when he was studying to become a Baptist preacher, how the Book of Mormon brought a whole new spiritual power into his life, and how he felt the Holy Ghost tell him in his heart it was true. And he powerfully promised to Joe that if he reads and prays about it sincerely, intending to act upon his answer, that he will also receive an answer. And Joe responded so humbly and much more receptively than he ever had. He said he would pray about it. So I ate some more humble pie because Brother Hicks' testimony was powerful and affected Joe in a way that ours the missionaries' didn't. Never underestimate the impact of your testimony! Often that is much more impactful than trying to persuade with explanations and such, because testifying brings the Spirit which carries the truth of our message unto people's hearts, where they then have the choice whether or not to let the Spirit into their heart. 

Wednesday was our zone training in Niceville. We talked a lot about having the faith and hope to find those who are prepared to follow Jesus Christ by repenting- which they do by making and keeping commitments to repent by keeping his commandments- and by following the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized so they can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost which is what allows us to be cleansed and strengthened from morally weak to Christlike. 

For dinner we had the fish we caught with the Steeles!!! Gerald and Legrande had fried up the catfish and brim and made hushpuppies, baked beans, coleslaw, fried zucchini, cheese grits, chocolate pecan coconut cake, and classic southern banana pudding. IT WAS ALL SOOOO DELICIOUS! WOW. It was such a satisfying thing to be able to eat something I caught myself! The elders were there, too, and three of the Steele brothers, their sister Marcia, and Sister Steele, Johnny's wife. It felt like a big family get together. So fun! 

On Thursday, one of my dreams was fulfilled! I got to be companions with Sister Whatcott for a day!! She and I met each other in ninth grade when we were stand partners  in the second violin section of the Utah Youth Philharmonic!! We played in that group together all through high school, and then we were in the Utah State University symphony together. We both received our mission call to the same place close to the same time last year, to report to the MTC June 1st. And we got to go on an exchange together! Super fun! 

Friday I was sick with a bad cold, and we decided it would be better to knock it out that day than to have it get worse over several days; so I took a nap, and Sister Saunders organized our apartment while I did so. She's awesome! 

Saturday we found out the bitter sweet news that Sister Saunders is being transferred to Brewton, Alabama where she will be white washing, and training a new missionary!! I am sad for her to leave, we all are, but I am excited her new adventure. My new companion will be Sister Crosby, who I have met before at conferences. She's fun, and I'm looking forward to continuing to learn, hopefully learning what God wants me to. 

Have a blessed week!


Happy Conference!!

 March 27, 2017

This week has been crazy! And awesome!

On Tuesday, we had our first district meeting with the Swapps, the new senior couple. They have already visited with so many members in the ward, and are making some good connections! I am grateful for them, allowing we missionaries to spend more of our time finding and teaching investigators. 

Afterwards, we took our car to Pep Boys to get the brakes repaired; they hadn't felt or sounded right, and we wanted to be safe driving to Tallahassee. Good thing, too, because on the phone with Elder Mangum (the car missionary), the mechanic said the brakes were almost completely out, about to grind metal. Yikes! Thank heavens for those handy dandy warning lights that come on! 

Afterwards we had a brief visit with our investigator Misty Jacoby, whose husband is a member out of town for military training right now. We talked about conference, which she said she would have totally come to and even had plans for a babysitter- until she realized she would be out of town. At least we know her good heart! 

Immediately following, we met up with Sister Devine (Young Women's president) and Kennedy Toolan (a young woman in the ward) at the Roller family's house. We had stopped by last Sunday and set a return appointment for Tuesday with some of the daughters that were there. The Rollers are a part-member family; the parents and the two oldest daughters are members, but the rest of the children (four more daughters and a toddler son) are not. Every time I've been over there in the past, I've met the dad and several of the daughters, who are 7, 9, 14, 15, 17, and 18. When the four of us arrived, most of the daughters were home, but said neither of their parents were. So Sister Devine started talking with them about the Young Women's program, girls' camp, etc., inviting them to Sundays and the Wednesday night activites, and Kennedy introduced herself to them, and was a pretty good sport about testifying to the funnness of young women's. :) 

And then- not even 10 minutes into our conversation- Sister Roller drives up in her car and Brother Roller rides in on his motorcycle. MIRACLE!! The entire nine members of the Roller family were there! The parents started talking with Sister Devine, sharing their story of why they're less active, and she listened with love. We started talking with the daughters, especially one who didn't get baptized with the rest of her family because of some concerns, and she and two of her sisters are interested in taking the lessons and finding out the truth of the restored gospel for themselves! And the mom wants us to come over during the day to meet with her!!! 

We had an awesome exchange in Tallahassee!!

On Friday, Sister Ramadhar from Fort Walton was here in Crestview with me. We saw Tanya, who we hadn't seen in a while, with Sister Fetters and had an awesome lesson! We met with the Hicks and did a member finding lesson. On Sunday, Brother Hicks said he had a long conversation with his friend who is now interested in meeting with us! Many miracles! 

I love you all! Happy conference!!

Crawfish cookin' in Crestucky!

Monday March 20, 2017

Hey y'all!

On Tuesday, we had an amazing lesson with Angelica. After the numerous times we've explained it to her and testified, she finally understood the need for a restoration to the earth of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His church and priesthood! She had observed many evidences of why this was truly the path God wanted her to take, but she kept waffling on it- she hadn't been reading or praying about the Book of Mormon, and she didn't understand its importance. She had also been feeling guilty about living with her boyfriend Jeff, and not praying or studying the scriptures as often as she used to, and she could feel it weakening her spirit. She yearned for the Spirit. We spoke of feeling the power of the Holy Ghost before baptism verses having the gift of the Holy Ghost received after baptism by someone holding the priesthood. We spoke of receiving a witness of the truth of the Book of Mormon, which would mean that this is truly Jesus Christ's church. So as we were reading the last paragraph of the introduction of the Book of Mormon, she exclaimed, "I understand now!" What sweet words to hear!! She went on to say, "These really are the last days; in the Bible, it talks about Christ's church being restored to the earth, and many people are looking for it, wondering, 'when is it going to come? His church will be here again.' But you're saying it has already happened! Why doesn't everyone know about this??" She committed to begin (again) reading the Book of Mormon. It really is the key! 

The next day, I was on an exchange with Sister Anderson while Sister Crosby was in Niceville. Before our dinner appointment, Angelica texted us asking us to come over as soon as possible, and that she needed our help! We went over, and she was visibly a bit shaken. Satan had been working on her again, with discouraging and negative thoughts, because she is so close to having the joy of the restored gospel in her grasp. Man, I hate Satan!! So in response, she had been reading the Book of Mormon and praying basically all day long, seeking for peace and answers. And she had been finding it, but she still needed help. Her boyfriend Jeff (he's the member she lives with- well, did, but I'll get to that in a minute) hadn't been talking to her, and she was stressed about what to do. She just wanted to have the Holy Ghost with her, and always. She cried and cried, and we comforted her as best we could, reminding her of God's love and His promised blessings to her. Then she asked the question that every missionary dreams of hearing: "When can I be baptized?" We told her that in order to be baptized, she will need to move out of Jeff's house to keep the Law of Chastity, and to trust in God's will and timing, that He would prepare a way for her to keep His commandments by being baptized. We left in good spirits, feeling hopeful and overjoyed! It might take some time, but eventually it was actually going to happen! 

Friday we had our next lesson scheduled with Angelica at the Baltimores' home. We were so excited! We had confirmed with her the night before, gave her the directions, and we were set. We arrived, but Angelica wasn't there. We called, and she didn't answer, so we hoped that maybe she was driving. But she never came. So we had a lesson with the Baltimores. We got in contact with Jeff, who said that Angelica has moved out of his house to her friend's house, who lives in Destin 30 minutes away. And her phone has been turned off since Friday, most likely to avoid contact with Jeff, but it has also cut off contact with us... so please pray for Angelica. Sorry this email is super depressing, but this is the biggest thing that has happened this week. :( I do, however have hope that she will be okay and that it will all work out somehow. Everything happens for a reason. 

On a happier note, we went to visit Camen, a less active sister in the first ward, and her neighbor was over, who is not a member. She is interested in meeting with us! 

Also, Lorraine from 2nd ward picked a quite date to have quit smoking by, and she's super excited about it!

Also, our senior couple missionaries moved in this week! The Swapps from New Mexico. They're great!

Aaaaand, yesterday Ashley and Dylan Vankerckhoven had us over for dinner last night- a Cajun sea food boil! Crawfish, shrimp, sausage, also potatoes, corn, artichoke, mac n' cheese. It was SO GOOD! Cleared out my sinuses, too! 

My spiritual thought this week is about repentance. In Elder Rasband's talk, "Repentance: A Joyful Choice," he said, "Even as we feel godly sorrow for our actions, when we choose to repent, we immediately invite the Savior into our lives. As Amulek taught... 'if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.' We can feel godly sorrow for our actions and, at the same time, feel the joy of having the Savior’s help." I love this! As I have sought to believe and act upon this promise, I have felt more hope. We don't have to wait- the Savior is right here. He is doing this work with me! His work! I have recognized the good that He has done through me so far on my mission, the lives I have helped change, the lessons I have learned, and the person I have and am becoming. I am working on developing high hope for what I can accomplish with God for the remainder of my mission. I want to keep running hard every minute. I am better understanding who I am, and who I can become, and it is motivating. It can motivate you too!



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Follow the truths you learn

Hey y'all! 

This week I was sad to see Sister Saunders go- she and I became such good friends while we were companions and I miss her so much- but wow did she and her trainee seem perfect for each other! They even look alike! 

My new companion is Sister Crosby! She is from American Fork, Utah and has been out for a year, this Thursday. She is a diligent, happy missionary who has already been a blessing to me and the area. I am grateful for her new eyes for the work in Crestview. We are both striving to have a vision together of finding, teaching, and baptizing the elect in this area. God really does want us to find those who are prepared to follow Jesus Christ! He wants us His missionaries to participate not just once, but again and again in the miracle of bringing souls unto Christ through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have made the decision to choose to believe in this true principle! We are doing our best to implement the principles we have learned the past month and a half to become more effective missionaries. 

Sister Saunders and I had recently talked about dropping our investigator Quan, and going to his next lesson with Sister Crosby confirmed that that is what needs to take place. He has been lying to us about reading the Book of Mormon and he did not come to church...The Book of Mormon is really the deal maker or breaker! Our investigator Angelica has been reading the Book of Mormon, but not daily and not whole heartedly. So we had a whole lesson about the Book of Mormon and want to do all we can to help her have a spiritual experience with it. We contacted several potential investigators in our GPS and filtered them out as they were not searchers of truth. It's actually not that difficult to tell who is truly a searcher and who is not! (with the help of the Spirit, of course). :) But we have a new investigator who lives in the home of a former, and another former who still lives in another home is also a new investigator. We're already finding success in the principles we've been taught! 

I love you all! More next week! :)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Get Guts!

 February 27, 2017
So... this week was awesome! On Tuesday, we had a great district meeting where we discussed diligence, obedience, and punching Satan in the face. Afterwards, we had lunch at the church consisting of tortellini, tomato basil soup, and salmon... it was pretty wonderful. Then all three companionships drove to the same neighborhood to do some divide-and-conquer tracting in the rain! Clad in our raincoats, rubber boots, and umbrellas, Elder Smith and Elder Nunez knocked doors on one street, while Elder Langston and Elder Wood took a street with us, they knocked the doors on the other side of the street from us. It was super fun! Lots of people said they weren't interested, but we met two that were! Liz is a kind 70-something lady from Scotland. She gladly took the Book of Mormon and said we could come back any time. We also met Tammy- "Have you heard of Mormons before?" "Yes- I went to church for six years with a family when I was in elementary school." Haha, what?? That was cool- she said we could come back, too. :)

We had dinner with the Nelsons!! Matt Nelson made some seriously delicious chicken and his mom's famous chocolate chip cookies.... now, I have had a lot of chocolate chip cookies in my day- and these were hands down the BEST fresh chocolate cookies I have ever had. PERFECT gooey, chewy texture, chock-full of chocolate chips, perfect amount of saltiness, and golden. They were baked in individual little skillets and he put vanilla ice cream on top. Wowwwwwwww they were HEAVENLY. MMMM. Aaand he gave me the recipe! But he made me swear to not give it away to just anyone. And I had to swear that I will not alter the recipe in any way. "And if you do I will slit your throat and chop up your body and throw it in the woods. Deal?" Brother Nelson was a sniper in the army for several years... he kinda has a different sense of humor. :) And he's super protective of his cookie recipe.

That night, we got a call from an unknown number-
"Hello, this is Sister Saunders and Sister Jamison." 
"Uhhh, hello- who did you say this is?"
"We're missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints."
"Oh- I'm looking for the bank..."
"Well, sir, we're not the bank, but we don't think it was a coincidence that you dialed our number."

And we went on to tell him who we are and what we do, inviting and helping others to come unto Christ by learning about His church and gospel which have been restored to the earth. He said his name was Marty, he lives in Crestview, and he is a Christian who is an honest seeker of truth. We didn't get any creepy vibes, and he seemed interested. We have an appointment with him at the church next week! 

On Wednesday, we were invited to speak at New Beginnings for the young women. The theme was "Be strong" and there were several women from the ward who were asked to speak for a few minutes on how the gospel has made them a strong woman. It was super cute, with denim and red for Rosie the riveter theme. 

Thursday was a game-changer Missionary Leadership Conference! Brother Littlefield and Brother Stevenson from the Missionary Department. They basically told us everything we need to do better as missionaries to fulfill our purpose to "teach repentance, baptize converts." They talked about having the faith and hope to find the elect of God who "hear the voice of the Lord, and harden not their hearts." They taught that to find more people who are prepared to follow Jesus Christ by being baptized, we simply need to find more, teach more, and invite more people to follow His example. One of them said, "It (finding those who are prepared) has everything to do with the missionary and nothing to do with the area, culture or people." It's all about our faith, which is belief+action=power to do God's work, in His way. It was SO POWERFUL. We as missionaries just have to get the Spirit, get the guts to talk with everyone, and get to work to find those who are ready to follow Jesus Christ.

We also learned about simplifying our teaching and focusing more on the commitments we invite people to make and keep, which is how we invite them to repent. We put this into action on Friday when we went to see Angelica. She has changed so much in this past month! She is visibly happier, full of light, and she understands why she needs to be rebaptized, and loves the truths of the restored gospel. She made us some delicious Venezuelan arepas (?), which are like thick corn meal pancakes that we cut in half and ate with kale, chicken, barbeque sauce, and cheese. SO good. She told us she feels like she is meant to help children learn songs about Jesus- so we told her about primary choristers, which she had no idea about! We had a powerful lesson with her about the ten commandments, the Word of Wisdom, the Law of Chastity, and tithing and fasting. Then we focused on the importance of attending church, praying, and studying the scriptures, promising her specifically experiences that will give her a confirming witness that being baptized by the proper priesthood authority is what God wants her to do, and to help prepare her. This story would be a lot more awesome if I could tell you that she came to church on Sunday, but... her boyfriend Jeff came back in town on Saturday and was no help in encouraging her to come to church. 

Later that day we went on splits with the Curdy twins, Erica and Emily who are 17 and both want to go on missions. They were awesome!! Erica and I went to visit some less active members in 1st ward. She loved it! 

For dinner we had pizza and cookie dough with Ashley. :) She is the best ever at making us feel loved. 

Saturday we went to help a member move, and the elders were there, too. Sister Saunders and I practiced for our musical number, and we had Chinese for dinner with the Baltimores. 

Sunday was wonderful! Church was awesome- I was asked to play the piano in primary for singing time and it was soo fun! Kids are so cute and entertaining! Sister Fetters is the chorister, and she is the bomb! After church, we stopped by Liz's house and talked with her on her porch for a while. She started reading the Book of Mormon, and likes it! We share a lot of beliefs. The Spirit was strong, and she agreed to have us back again. 

Then dinner with Sister Farris- she is hilarious! She made delicious beef stew. 

Afterwards, we went to the Corbins for a lesson about missionary work. They gave us two referrals!

Today has been one of the best p-days ever!! We went with a couple of the Steele brothers and their sister and Sister Steele who is married to Johnny Steele, to go fishing! It was my first time, and it was sooo fun! We went to a beautiful little lake and cast our lines over a dock we were standing on. The weather was perfect! I learned how to poke the hook through the worm and it's sticky insides got all over my hands- and my stomach didn't turn! I caught a FOUR POUND CATFISH on my first try!!! It was totally beginner's luck, but I was pretty proud of myself! Sister Saunders caught a good sized fish, and we both caught some little ones. Then we went back to one of the brothers' property to a little station out back where he dumped the fish in a sink and we de-scaled them!! They were still alive!! But I tried to pretend they were dead... it was kinda sad, but super fun... :) Gerald Steele cleaned and gutted the big catfish- it was fascinating to watch! On Wednesday we're going to go back for dinner and eat the fish!! Sooo fun!

Something I took away from this week is that our faith just has to be above our fear. One sister in MLC said, "it is worth it for us to be uncomfortable for a moment so that others can be comfortable in God's presence for eternity." Often it's uncomfortable to boldly talk with a stranger about following Jesus Christ, or to invite people to repent by making and keeping commitments. But it is the most worthwhile thing we can do. This gospel is so true!!