Sunday, April 30, 2017

"When we're helping we're happy"

April 24

This week has been so good! Here are the highlights: 

Monday while we were finishing up emailing, Sister Kolb came in to the family history center with her friend Cynthia and Cynthia's mom! She has told us so much about Cynthia, how she posts general conference quotes on Facebook, bought an encyclopedia of LDS terms and beliefs, loves family history- and she's not a member. We've been trying to finagle a way to meet her for weeks! We have an appointment tonight to help her and her mom with their family history!

Tuesday I got my first sunburn of the year! We were at the transfer spot at the gas station all day helping load and unload luggage of transferring missionaries. Every companionship in the Fort Walton zone but two (including mine and Sister Crosby's) had a change this tranfer! Afterwards, we stopped by Lara Baker's house. She and several of her children are members, her husband is not. He lost his job in January, and it's turning her heart to God. She wants us to begin studying the scriptures with her!

Wednesday we had an awesome district meeting! The new elders in our district are so funny! I laughed more this week than I have in a long time. The feeling of our district is much happier and more positive now! Later, we saw the Roller girls, talked about how awesome girls' camp is and invited them to young women's. Lilly and Maggie came that night! Also, members took them gluten-free meals all week while their mom was recovering from her biopsy surgery for the mass in her lung. The Rollers are rolling! 

On Thursday we helped Jorden move out of her house! I still can't get over how awesome she is for getting outta there! We're excited to have lessons with her at her mom's house where she has moved into- it'll be a good influence for the rest of her family. Later we had a lesson with Leslie, one of our former investigators who we haven't been able to contact for a while. Her two grandkids were craaaazy, but she asked us to come back when they are at school, so that's good!
Afterwards while trying to find the new address of a former investigator, we were driving along a dirt (sand) road and got stuck! We couldn't get out for a good 10 minutes, and the elders were about to come to our rescue (we don't know how they would have...) but Sister Crosby did some mad-skills maneuvers driving back and forth and got us out! :)

On Friday the highlight was going to Helping Hands, an organization we're starting to help at once a week. They offer various services for the homeless. We met a couple awesome potentials there! A lady named Jeanette is good friends with Sister Woodard, and another lady Cynthia has a son who's Mormon and lives in Tallahassee. We're excited to get to know them! That night we had a blast at volley ball night and invited a bunch of teenagers at the park to play with us. 

Yesterday, the Vause family came into sacrament meeting with family they used to be neighbors with, who they've been inviting to come to church for years. Sister Vause was quick to usher us over to meet them. The dad said he saw all the missionaries at the gas station for transfers on Tuesday, called us "God's army," told Brother Vause who said, "it must be God telling you it's time to go to church!" He came with his two daughters Elise and Emma. We hope they come again! The Vauses are awesome!!

I really liked this quote from Elder Marvin J. Ashton in his talk "The Doctrine of Christ" from October 2016 General Conference: "Through repentance we become submissive and obedient to God’s will. Now, this is not done alone. recognition of God’goodness and our nothingness,combined with our best effortto align our behavior with God’s will, brings grace into our lives. Grace “is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy anlove of Jesus Christ … to do good works that [we] otherwiswould not be able to maintaiif left to [our] own means.” Because repentance is really about becoming like the Saviorwhich is impossible on our own, we desperately need the Savior’s grace in order to make necessary changes in our lives." When I recognize how much I am nothing on my own, and then recognize God's perfect power, love, and knowledge, I feel so much more strongly the vitality of Jesus Christ in my life, for if we are to become like our Heavenly Father, which we are, and which I could never do on our own, then we must learn to fully rely on Jesus Christ and follow Him. He lives! Please consider how much you are allowing the power of Jesus Christ in your own lives, and what more you can do to access His gift to us, as I will. I love you all!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Happy Easter! (yesterday)


I realized I forgot to make Happy Easter the title of last week's letter!

This week has been another long and crazy one, but I will try to simplify and intensify. :)

Here are the highlights from each day: 

Tuesday- Carmela Dubbs was in town and took us to lunch at Panera!! She's a member who lived in Fort Walton who I came to adore, and she moved to Anchorage, Alaska in December for her job as a travelling nurse. It was so fun to catch up and see her again! I've missed her bubbly personality and bright spirit! 

That evening we went to meet and get to know Cynthia, who used to go to church. She is Jeff's ex-wife (Jeff was Angelica's boyfriend that she lived with before moving to Fort Lauderdale.) She was very kind, and talked with us about Peru where she grew up. 

On Wednesday, Sister Stapley (from Niceville) and I went to Sharing and Caring, a non-profit organization we are beginning to volunteer at that collects food donations and gives it to individuals and families in need. There we met a fellow volunteer named Nancy; she told us how about a month ago she was on an airplane and her seat buddy was a Mormon who lived somewhere nearby and owns a jewelry shop in Destin. She said they had a nice conversation and that the woman "left a good impression"! Sister Stapley told Nancy that she knew a member in her Niceville ward that owned a jewelry shop in Destin! A physical description confirmed that it was the same woman they both spoke of! We gave Nancy an Easter pass a long card and plan to set an appointment with her next time! But the craziest part of the story came on the car ride home, when Sister Stapley told me that about a month ago, the member had shared in Relief Society an experience she had having a gospel conversation with a nice lady who was her seat buddy on the plane!!! She said she didn't get the woman's name or address, and that she sure hoped she would run into the missionaries some day. WOW! That day was Wednesday!!! If there was any reason Sister Stapley came on that exchange with me, that was why!

On Thursday, the elders planned a volley ball activity at the park; everyone we invited couldn't come, but we went anyway because the elders said their investigator was bringing some non member friends that we could talk to. When we showed up, we met these two sisters Kelsi (17) and Joci (11) who were not the investigators' friends, they were just at the park wanting to play volleyball. We started talking, exchanged phone numbers, and they're interested in learning more!

Saturday was bittersweet as we had a lesson with Joe where we told him we were no longer meeting with him, since he isn't progressing and just wants to stick with his Methodist church for now. It was a positive experience, though- he knows we care about him, he still intends to read the Book of Mormon, and Sister Rudd was present and bore powerful testimony. It can definitely be difficult to decide that we need to stop meeting with someone (usually because there is a lack of desire or action or willingness to act on a witness of the truth, like Joe), especially when we want so much for them to have the blessings of the restored Gospel, but it's important that we spend our time where it can be best received. 

Easter Sunday!! We had breakfast at the Toolans, church was very nice, and we had dinner with the Curdy family, and then with the Corbins, because they had a nonmember aunt over. Too much good food! But I'm very grateful for the kindness and generosity of the members. 

This week Abraham 4:18 stood out to me; this chapter describes the creation of the earth, and this verse speaks of the Gods ordering the separation of the waters, the division of the light: "And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed." I learned that the creation of the earth with all its beauty, order, and organization was possible because of obedience to God's laws; the things that made up the creation of the earth were obedient to the commands of Jesus Christ and those who were aiding in the creation. Similarly, the way that Jesus Christ will be able to make of us the most we can become- even as He is- is through obedience to God's laws, which will bring order, organization, and the beauty of joy and peace into our lives. He will help us to truly become His sons and daughters who can do anything with Him. I love you all! 

The Songs I Cannot Sing


This week has been a little crazy... but that's okay!

From some reason Tuesdays always seem to be magical! We saw Misty and taught her the Restoration. She is really what Elder Maynes would call a "searcher"! She expressed her desire to know who she, and the Gospel of  Jesus Christ definitely answers that! 

We visited with Brother Roller and a few of his daughters briefly and invited them to come to Young Women's the next day. Their family is going through so much! Sister Roller just found out she has a mass in her lung. Their hearts are really being prepared to receive the Gospel. Next, we had our lesson with Tony and Roderick! This is the family that Sister Stapley and I tracted into on an exchange, in the neighborhood of a referral who didn't work out. Tony (wife) and Roderick got the kids distracted in the other room and sat down with us for the lesson; we taught the Restoration, and they were super engaged and asking questions! Tony grew up Baptist and Roderick attended a non-denominational church. Tony said she felt at peace during our lesson. They are real searchers, too! Hopefully they stay that way!

Wednesday was Zone Training in Niceville, and we trained several aspects of being more effective missionaries. After dinner, we went to Young Women's. Maggie (15) and Lilly (13) Roller came to Young Women's!! Sister Devine picked them up (YW president). They knew quite a few of the young men and young women from school! We all went to a rehabilitation center and played bingo with some of the residents there. So fun, and really good for the girls! 

Thursday we weekly planned. We were both kind of stressed out, so it was a tender mercy when I received a package from Ginny Watts, a former stake Young Women's leader!! That really brightened my day! Also, Sister Hart made and brought us pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, my favorite! Tender mercies!!

Friday I was on an exchange with Sister Redfearn from Fort Walton, who is about to go home. It was so neat to learn so much from such an experienced, refined missionary! I definitely learned way more from her than she learned from me! She is at peace and knows that the Lord is pleased with her service. It was really inspiring to be with her. We helped Jorden clean and pack for a couple hours, and she let off some steam about her ex-boyfriend, who keeps giving her grief. She is a strong woman, and I am so proud of her for turning to the Lord and leaving that situation!

Saturday we went on another exchange, back to back with our previous one. That's always a little hectic! We saw Lorraine, who talked with us about the peace the Gospel brings to her, and set a new quit date with her for smoking. She is such a sweetheart! 

Jorden and Christine (her daughter) came to church on Sunday!! There were so many people at church that I didn't recognize, many who I found out were less active. Awesome! We had dinner with the Harts, who I really think is the closest to perfect family I have ever met. And Sister Hart is single-mom-ing it right now as her husband is deployed, with four kids who she home schools! Her children are well-mannered and kind, her food is always delicious, and she is such a warm hearted person. It always brings comfort and peace to my soul to go to their home! 

Today Sister Crosby treated ourselves by going to Fort Walton where we found some good deals at Target and Ross... :) We went to my beloved Stewby's seafood and Bippy's frozen yogurt, both of which love and treat their missionaries. 

The title of this post refers to a talk given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland this recent General Conference. He spoke of times that we may desire to sing songs of joy or sunshine, but feel we cannot because of the challenges we face from time to time. In the hymn "There is Sunshine in My Soul Today," a line says, "and Jesus listening can hear the songs I cannot sing." Not every day is sunshine. This week we had a few storms, literally and figuratively. At times clouds hide the sunlight. But we must remember that the sun is always behind those clouds, and that it will come out again. You should read this talk! I love you all!
 Easter package from Ginny!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Conference miracles!

Monday April 3, 2017

After district meeting on Tuesday, we went to Pounders to see if Rebekah was at work. The owner Brother Peters had told us about her, that she had been asking him lots of questions about the church and wanted to meet with us. Unfortunately she wasn't there, but Brother Peters paid for our lunch since we had come. Free food is the best! 

On Wednesday we had an exchange with the Niceville 2 sisters. Sister Stapley and I saw Quan- we talked with him about our purpose as missionaries, and how as he continues to come to church, study the Book of Mormon, and pray, he will know when he is ready to be baptized. He agreed that would be best, as he does not feel ready yet and has not been keeping his commitments. It was a sad but needed thing to "define the relationship" and express our desire for him to have the blessings of the gospel in his life. Thankfully, though, the Tews invited him over to watch general conference with them, and he ended up watching a session with them at their home. He's a good kid, and he'll be ready some day. 

We went tracting for a minute between appointments in the neighborhood where we had received a referral from church headquarters that ended up turning us down. We are encouraged to tract those neighborhoods because often there are prepared people, even if the person with the referral isn't quite yet ready. The lady behind the first door tried to intimidate us with her dogs... the second door was a dad and his two kids- he said their family is looking for a church! We have an appointment tomorrow!

We were talking with some people on their porch when some door-to-door cleaning supplies salesmen interrupted our conversation and attempted to flirt with us.... that awkward moment!! One of them said to Sister Stapley, "Do you use Colgate or Crest? 'Cause your smile is Aquafresh!" Yikes!! It was pretty funny though, once they were gone. :)

Thursdsay was our leadership conference where Sister Crosby and I trained on having the courage to stand alone. I also had the chance to sing in a quartet with some other sisters singing, "Lead Kindly Light." Afterwards, President Smith got up and said that he had sung that very song in a quartet at one of his own zone conferences! 

On Friday , we received a text from Jorden Kelly-Vest, a less active sister in her late 20s who was baptized just a few years ago. Sister Saunders and I had visited with her a couple times, but then hadn't seen her in a while. But she texted us to tell us she was moving out of her boyfriend's house- that she had received many signs pointing her to come back to church- and that she was coming to general conference! She, her daughter, and her non member friend came to three sessions!! They both took notes and were moved to tears at times. We had lunch with them in between two sessions, did some how-to-begin-teaching with her friend, showed the Easter video, and invited her friend (who is unfortunately moving to California this week) to meet with the missionaries once she moves there. She agreed!! 

ALSO, Angelica texted us and she is alive and well in Fort Lauderdale!! 

Conference was wonderful!! The talks were so powerful! I am always so amazed at how every question that I have prayerfully pondered and written down (or at least the ones that end up actually being important) are answered by the speakers' specific words and/or by promptings from the Spirit. I had questions about having confidence, being more in tune with the Spirit, better understanding the Godhead to better understand myself, and more, and all were spoken on! I found themes of being centered on Christ, living the Gospel with all I have and am, and having the courage to follow Christ, not the crowd. I especially love that last theme. When we stand up and speak out to defend the truth, we are not alone- Christ is with us. I invite you all to ponder and decide what you can do to apply what you learned at general conference. As we all do so, we will become more Christlike and be more dedicated in our discipleship. I love you all!

April Fools Day trick on the Elders... Saran wrapping their car!

The Elders got the Sisters back with whipped cream!!