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