11:45 AM (1 hour ago)
Monday, November 25, 2013
November 25, 2013
Dear family o' mine!
How are you all doing this beautiful holiday season? I am now in Charleston, well, South Charleston and loving it! It is a huge change from where I was, but I know I am here for a reason. My new companion is Sister Kitto (kiddo) from Orem, Utah. She is 21 years old and was studying Broadcast/Journalism at BYU. She is a rockstar! Seriously, we have already bonded and are exactly what this area needed. We have discovered that the trio of sisters that were here before had kind of gotten into a rut with teaching and I think that is why they doubled us in. The first couple days were spent trying to figure out where our area boundaries were, who we could visit, and previous investigators. They only had 5! I went from Back Creek where we had a huge teaching pool to here where they have 5. Ahh! A huge change, but a great one. I love challenges. ;) We have already figured out our goal for the transfer and we are pumped! We have decided to make appointments with members in the area (active and inactive) to teach practice lessons, but while we are there we are going to present the family with a sheet to create their family missionary plan and also an ornament. Their job will be to write the name of the person they are going to reach out to on the ornament, then give it back to us and we will put it on our Christmas tree. A referral and a goal all in one shot! :) We are working for our White Christmas and I know Sister Kitto is the companion I needed to make this happen. She is bold, excited, and focused. We laugh and work hard all at the same time! It is a great work to be a part of at this time.
On Thursday I woke up at 3:45 and headed to the church in Salem, VA to get on the van heading to Charleston. It was about a 4-hour drive, but we were so excited, we didn't mind. I got to see my friend, Elder Ben Williams and we are now in the same stake! It is always nice to see a familiar face. We then headed in and I had to talk to the missionaries about the miracles I'd been seeing...pressure! haha I then found out that Sister Kitto was my new companion and we both knew it! The AP's were joking about how we were the same person. Awesome! We are very similar and I'm grateful to have her. We then drove to our apartment to check out the notes the previous sisters left and were a bit disappointed for a second at what we had to work with, but quickly we both realized that when there is little to work with, there is huge growth that can take place. We got to work meeting the RS president who is awesome, and some other members in the ward. The ward has many PA residents and people going to the medical school in the area. Most of them are from out West and have come out here for a short period of time, but they are so kind! I've realized that I'm not going to be fed every night like I was in Back Creek. I've already lost 2 pounds! haha Only 13 to go! The first night we were here, we ate at the Cotrell family's home and they are amazing! They are from Georgia and they remind me of our family. The dad, like Mike, is going back to nursing school, working, and raising 5 children. His program is similar to yours, I think, Mike. He said he would have his Doctorate when he finished. He's just started though, so I think I gave him hope that you only had a year left. :) The Cotrell family is feeding us Thanksgiving dinner, and we've had 2 other people offer, so I think we're covered ;).
Friday we met the Bishop and he is such a soft-spoken man, but very into missionary work. I love it! It is a bit cold here, but I am now wearing my boots and big jacket. Thank goodness I got those before I left Roanoke. We also visited with a lady that has been investigating the church for 18 years and has not been baptized. We are going to drop her if she doesn't commit to a date in December. :) It may sound harsh, but we both know that we are here to find the elect and those that are prepared, and if she is not willing to commit, there is no reason to spend so much time with her. Maybe it will kick some motivation into her, we will see.
Saturday we met with another one of the investigators named Mandy, she is not willing to commit to baptism yet, but she's only met 2 times with the missionaries and we are going to go to Goodwill this afternoon with her to help her find a nice shirt to wear to church. We also stopped by Jim Milton who happens to talk just like Channing Tatum...ya, it is a bit of distraction, but we aren't worried. He's had a past, but is so elect! He is Korean and the missionaries found him in Burger King. Apparently his family met with the missionaries when he was a young boy, but then he moved and lost contact. His had a very hard life and has some interesting friends, so he hasn't had much religion in his life. He is looking for direction and hope. We have it!!! Yay! We are excited to see what happens and know that this gospel is exactly what he is looking for. His roommate's girlfriend was dying to come to church and so we found her a ride with one of the ward missionaries and she begged us for a Book of Mormon (even though that was not needed) haha
Sunday started off as a downer. We were fasting for Jim to come to church with Stephie (the girlfriend) but they both ended up not coming. We then felt a little out of place in the ward and then I had 5-minutes-notice to teach the Gospel Principles lesson on the Atonement, and then in Relief Society, my companion got vocally slammed by another sister. It was crazy! But, with each of these trials, Heavenly Father provided a tender mercy. Sister Kitto and I got to bare our testimonies to the ward and were invited by a sweet lady in the ward's house for Christmas. We had a good laugh at one of the comments made over the pulpit, Heavenly Father helped me teach the lesson and it went smoothly, and now the ward has a soft spot for Sister Kitto. haha Every other sister felt sorry about what happened and understood that what happened in RS was not necessary. Sister Kitto handled it with grace and we laugh about it now. So overall, a great day! It was amazing because for the first 15 minutes of church, my heart was heavy and I was worried that I wasn't going to love this area as much as I did Back Creek, but then as the Sacrament was being passed, I saw the Cotrell sons passing the sacrament and realized that the church is the same wherever you are. There are good people every where, and as I partook of the sacrament, I had such peace in knowing that Heavenly Father was aware of me at that moment and that everything was going to be alright. There are truly tender mercies everywhere! Heavenly Father doesn't want us to be lonely, sad, or discouraged. He is aware of each of our needs down to me sitting in Charleston, WV wanting peace. It came! It will continue to come and I'm so grateful for that knowledge. Heavenly Father does hear and answer our prayers. Oh we then had leftover pizza from the night before. Sister Kitto had splurged with buying a Papa John's pizza and we had that Sunday evening. What a treat?! We are going to start meal planning and would love any recipes! :)
This next week I get to teach the sisters about what Elder Sitati taught to the leaders, and we also are going to get started on building this area up. Just wait for the miracles you are going to hear about next week! haha Charleston is beautiful, crazy roads, but beautiful. We live in a poorer section, but just like any city, it has its pockets of poorer and wealthier areas. There are some very humble people and I'm grateful to be able to serve them. We live in an apartment building which the hallway smells like smoke, but our apartment is nice! We are able to do laundry in our apartment and today we are going to get some cute decorations :) I'm so excited to be serving with Sister Kitto in South Charleston. I guess the technical name is South Hills. Also, the address is the mission home address for packages, but if you want to write a letter you can mail it to our apartment which is:
4832 Kanawha Turnpike Apt. #7
South Charleston, WV 25309
You can also write letters to the mission office and they will still get to me. Either way! The mission office is the 888 Oakwood Rd. Ste. 310 address from before.
That is the exciting news from Charleston! I want you all to know how much I love each of you. Thank you for your emails and especially those handwritten letters *wink *wink haha I love hearing anything and everything! Truly! Remember this gospel is true! Reach out to one person before Christmas! Share the gospel this Christmas and experience the love and joy that brings to your life. We are so blessed to be a part of this great work. We have something that every person would die for if they understood the eternal effects it has on our lives. The gospel is not simply a church, but it is a way of life that I am so grateful for. I love it! I know that prayers are answered! I know that our Savior Jesus Christ died and rose again for each of us. The atonement is real. Take advantage of it daily! Strive to have the Holy Ghost with you at all times. I love you. Have the most wonderful day ever!
P.S. This new library has older computers without the right connection for my camera. Next week I promise to send pictures! I have the adapter at home, so I will make sure to bring it next time. Sorry! I love you all!
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
November 21, 2013
This will be my last email from Roanoke. I received word last Wednesday that I am going to be transferredto Charleston, WV. I'm going to be training a new sister and become the Sister Training Leader over that zone...ya I'm not breathing yet either. I was a little in shock after the mission president called me. We don't usually find out until night, but when he called a week early, I got a little nervous and for a good reason! Holy cow! It will be an amazing experience though and I know I am going where I am needed. It is amazing to see how much we are supported when we do what our Heavenly Father asks of us. I have picked up a philosophy of "Just do it, then think later." haha I am a firm believer that our Heavenly Father will not give us any more than we can handle. I am just excited to get to work. I will be in the same ward as the mission president, the APs, the Charleston Zone leaders, and the District Leaders. Talk about pressure! Goodness gracious! I will definitely be needing your prayers. The cool part is, I will get to welcome the new missionaries this next transfer to the mission. Isn't Brother Hollenbeak's son coming here? I'll get to welcome him!
Last week was quite a slow week. We also don't have much time to write letters today because I had to spend a bit of time packing up and making sure everything is prepared for Sister Nisse to take over Back Creek.
We went on 3 exchanges in the past week. One with the Vinton sisters, one with the Bedford 2 sisters, and one with the Salem Sisters. On these exchanges we switch companions and go to work in another area. For example, I went to Bedford 2 and worked with Sister Lichenstein and Sister Canova came to Back Creek to work with Sister Nisse. It is only 24 hours, but it is amazing to see all that is learned during these exchanges and the miracles that take place. I then report to the mission president on how these sisters are doing and what needs they might have. I try to give them new ideas for their areas on how to better find, teach, or be obedient. I learn more and more each time!
We also had our zone conferences this past week. Usually we split the zone into 2 groups and do the same conference for the entire zone, but this time we (the zone leaders and I) decided to split it into a sisters zone conference and an elders zone conference. I taught both groups (oneand one ) about the 5 C's that might be holding us back from making our mission a "Zion-like" mission. I spoke about contention, comparing, criticizing, complacency, and being Childish. I then said that they need to replace these with charity, confidence in Christ, compliments, climbing, and being childlike. (For the elders I added on being clean verses cluttered.) ;) I also taught about how they need to make challenging, but realistic goals. I gave them the example of how Chandon when I came on the mission told me to do one push-up the first day, 2 the second, 3 the third, and so on. I realized that this goal was not realistic, so then Chandon said, "Okay, how about you do one the first week, 2 the second week, 3 the third, and so on." That is more realistic and it is challenging! I'm up to 21 push-ups and feeling good! Thank you Chandon! Also, Congrats with getting to go to the BYU game! I brag about that fact to all the elders. heehee
Sister Tuckett cameto say goodbye to the area by special permission of President Pitt and it was so fun to see her! Oh and a bunch of women in the ward took Sister Nisse and I out to lunch yesterday to say goodbye to me. When I come back to the mission after I return home, I've had at least 5 homes offered to me to be able to visit for a while. Truly the people in Back Creek are salt of the Earth good and they will be missed. I have loved my time here and will cherish the memories that have been made. I am excited for Sister Nisse to take it to the next level though and I know she will do a great job. She has been such an amazing companion and we have learned so much from each other! I love her! We have become such close friends! She is hilarious! I'm excited to see who my new companion is...the possibilties are endless! haha
Well, those were the highlights of the week. Sorry this letter is so short. I want you all to know I love you so much! I hope you have the best week ever! I pray for each of you daily and I know that the Lord is hearing and answering my prayers. This gospel is amazing and I love being a missionary! I had a dream a few nights ago that I'd gone home and was so sad! I kept on saying, "Wait, I'm not done yet! It wasn't my time!" I woke up and was so grateful that I get to be a missionary all day! It is awesome! I get to stop and help someone rake leaves anytime I want! I get to bring up the gospel all day! I get to talk to complete strangers and ask them about them! Every person should try this sometime! It is amazing! Yes it has its hard moments, but the good definitely outweighs the bad anyday! This gospel is true, I know it! I live it! I love it! If you have any aspect of your testimony that may be shaky, I invite to pray and ask God to help you in that aspect. He will strengthen you! Because he loves you! He knows you! I love you all tremendously! Talk to you from Charleston! Charleston for Thanksgiving and Christmas! Yay!
Picture 1 - Sister Pearson and I on exchanges. She was in Vinton. Fun times!
Picture 2 - The most epic picture ever. That is my companion (the model redhead), Sister Myers (the blonde), and Sister Habibpour (the dark brown hair)
Picture 3 - I decided to join in the fun :)
Picture 4 - This was taken in Bedford. I immediately thought of "Merry Christmas Bedford Falls!" :)
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Monday, November 4, 2013
November 4, 2013
|12:20 PM (4 hours ago)|
12:20 PM (4 hours ago)
How is everyone doing this beautiful November day? First of all, I hope someone is forwarding my emails/letters to Kortlynn and Rex. After reading their letters, it sounds like they think I don't care about them. haha Kortlynn and Rex! I do! I read your letters weekly and pray for you daily. Kortlynn, your companion sounds awesome...what faces do I make? I'm concerned haha My companion always teases me saying that I make "chicken lips" when I get focused on writing...Are there more faces I need to be aware of? Ahh! haha jk, but she must be awesome if she can pull those kind of faces. ;) Rex, it sounds like things are good in Russia. I can't imagine it being hot at all! It sounds like both of you are keeping busy and working hard. That is the way to find true joy in the mission. I've found, when I work my hardest, I am the happiest. No matter the success.
This week was crazy! The good kind! On Monday, after writing letters, Sister Nisse and I went to Maggie Moo's Ice Cream for some deliciousness and the girl at the counter happened to know some Mormons. She wasn't interested in talking, but she raved about how awesome the Mormons she'd met were. You never realize who is watching your example! We then got to go to the Kesler's family for dinner. They have 3 children. They had 4, but one of them passed away and 2 of the children were adopted. I love the family! The dad coaches football and the mom spoils us rotten. She even mentioned taking pictures of us to send to our family. Maybe next time. :)
Tuesday (Happy Birthday Kortlynn!), we had the District Leader Council where we discussed the needs of the zone and it hit me that I need to help the sisters step it up! They are working hard, but being so young in the mission, they don't know where to put forth their efforts. They know how to fill their time, but they need to know what to fill their time with. So of course, with all my knowledge and experience as a missionary. haha (Sarcasm implied) I went to help them out! I pretty much feel like a super hero most days. Okay, I need to stop. :) I truly would not be able to do any of this without the help of our Heavenly Father. There have been times when a concern has come up and something comes to my mind that would help. It definitely is not me doing the serving. I hope that I can continue to help the sisters reach their potential and to help them know how to work. The Lord is aware of what they need, and I need to live worthy of the promptings of the spirit. I'm truly striving to recognize them better and to act upon them. Mike, you were right. On my misson I am learning how to follow the promptings of the spirit better. A lady in the ward also baked us a delicious pumpkin pie! I love this time of year!
Wednesday we drove to Bedford which is about an hour drive and spent the day helping those sisters tract, work out concerns, and get pumped up. I love being a cheerleader on my mission! Who knew what I learned in high school would one day help me in the mission field! We only spent about 5 hours with them because we had to come back to our ward Trunk-or-Treat where we got to be the costume judges. It was a fantastic event and we had so many less-actives and non-members come! Of course the candy was also a huge bonus because people would save extra candy for us. I wish we had events each week to invite our investigators and members to.
On Thursday (Halloween and Steven's Birthday!) we started off the day doing service at Sister Beardsley's house. We pulled weeds, raked leaves, and cut back vines. I had to laugh because I thought about when I used to do this at home. We would have to wet the ground to make pulling the weeds even possible whereas here, we have to wait for it to dry a bit to be able to grip the weeds. Also, all they have to do is plant something and it seems like a week later it is in full bloom. It is amazing! I enjoyed getting a bit muddy and getting to work with my hands. I didn't realize how much I missed yard work. I love seeing the finished product after a few solid hours of work. So rewarding! We then went to Panera with the zone leaders for lunch to again discuss how to help the zone. We have excellent zone leaders. They are both hilarious and spiritual when needed. We ended the night with dinner at the Christley's (my family away from home). They invited us over their family tradition of soups and doughnuts before the kids went trick-or-treating. We of course did not go trick-or-treating, but instead went home to do some weekly planning so that we were safe that night.
Friday was our miracle day!!! We started off at the animal shelter, then we went to contact some potential investigators and referrals. The first referral was this super nice lady who we didn't get to talk to much because she was leaving to pick her husband up from the airport, but she told us to come back anytime! We then drove up Bent Mountain and contacted Ashley Fralin who we had formerly left with a Family Proclamation. She said she had read it and was very interested in learning more about our church. She said she only had one concern and that was polygamy! Hallelujah! We don't believe in that! haha She is so elect! We then went by the Farmer's Market for some honey (we ended up buying some goodies) but the lady at the cash register had one of our pass-along cards posted up on the wall. It was very faded, so I asked her if she would like a new one! She agreed and we ran out to the car to give her one with our phone number on it. She asked if she could have more copies to give away and of course we agreed. We are going to go back this week to see if she is interested in learning more about our church, or if she got to pass those out. We then ended the day at Sister Alarcon's house...She had brought us a Panera Fiesta! She had paninis, subs, soup, salad, pasteries, and so much more! Holy cow! Of course she gave us the leftovers, so we now have Panera for the rest of the week! I love her!
On Saturday, we had a little bit of a slow day. We got to see a few inactives and had a fantastic dinner with the Ruckers and Nancy Moorhead, but other than that many of our plans fell through...I knew we were onto something great. :) Oh funny story about the Ruckers. Brother Rucker is the 2nd counselor in our bishopric and he is hilarious! He dressed up as Doc from Back to the Future for Halloween. :) But he has this little Wiener dog for a pet named Oscar. That dog is his baby! The whole time we were there we kept saying, "The Leedle Pup" haha I wish I could record him saying it. I was hysterical! So funny! The lesson was amazing though. We taught about church attendance and about why going to church is such a blessing. We were able to have the Ruckers and Nancy's sister share their testimonies and the spirit was so strong!
Sunday was the huge miracle for the week! Oh and it was my Click Day! 4 Months! Wow...Fast and Testimony meeting went well and dinner was good with the Bohons, but with Daylight Savings Time starting, it now gets dark here around 6. Yuck! We had finished dinner and had 2 hours to contact people...in...the...dark. Not a fan. Well, we went to contact this man who apparently was baptized, but the church can't find his records. We've been trying for months to contact him, but he's a doctor and divorced, so he's gone a lot either at work or with the kids. Well, as we were walking up to the door, who should drive up?! Him! With his two cute kids! He welcomed us in and his girlfriend was there too. We told him that we can't find his records and that he will need to be baptized again. Apparently he was baptized in Bolivia at 16, but the records were never sent to Salt Lake. He is definitely a member, he knows all the lingo and I don't think someone would be able to lie that well or would want to. But, he and his girlfriend said they would love to have us come back and teach them and his two kids! He said he wants his daughter to be like us! Yay!!! A family! We are so pumped! The kids are 4 and 6, and the little boy looks like a miniature of Taylor Lautner haha They are cute family! Well, almost family! We will work on that too. :)
That was my week! Wow...Just so you know, if I didn't talk much before, I talk a lot now! Uh oh! haha I think it is funny that Kortlynn is in a culture of soft-spoken people and respect, and Rex, I'm not sure what Russian is like, but out East, in the south, people are talkative. :) I do a lot of listening on the mission and when we teach, I'm learning how to talk in a way that doesn't allow for tangents.
Sister Nisse and I get to sing in church next week and in about an hour we are going to go get our pictures taken for the holidays. A lady in another ward in the stake is taking all the missionaries pictures for free to send home... :) Fun times! Tomorrow I am driving to Charleston for the Missionary Leadership Conference and on Saturday we are having another misson conference with a 70. His name is Elder Statiti. I'm so excited! I will let you know how it goes!
Well, I'd better get going, but I want you all to know that I love you dearly. I pray for you daily and know that the Lord is blessing you. I know that I am where I am for a reason and I'm so grateful for all I get to learn each day. It is amazing the blessings that come with obedience and faith. I'm so grateful for my fantastic family and for each of your examples to me. I am seeing now more than ever how essential a family is in our Heavenly Father's plan and how important the little things we do each day make a difference in the long run. Keep on studying the scriptures as a family, pray as a family, talk, have Family Home Evening! Go to Church! The little things you do each day have a lasting effect on future generations. I want my famly to continue to be an eternal one! I don't want one person missing around the dinner table! :) Dad, Mom, Mike, Kim, Kortlynn, Chandon, Madisen, Alexa, Trace, Cody, Rhett, Alysia, Rex, Hannah, Seth, Jack, Sam, Grace, Jared, Bridget, Mason, Brigham, Steven, Kortney, Dallin, Adam, Stephanie, Adysen, Hollen, Lane, Orinda, Matt, Tammy, Gideon, Oliver, Baby Girl?... I love you all! I'm so blessed to call you family! That goes to all the cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandma! Have the most wonderful day ever! Phew! I hope I didn't forget anyone...I love you too! :)
Picture 1- The sisters in Bedford with my companion. The rest of the pictures were in the previous emails. :)