Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy 2014!!

Hello everyone! So good to talk to you on Christmas! We had a great Christmas here. We went to a members house for breakfast and then to two less actives, and we had plenty to eat. On Christmas Eve we went caroling as a district.We went to some less actives and part members in our area. It was fun to just be together with the other missionaries on Christmas. I have really come to love the other missionaries, and they are like family :) 
Last night the Alexandriana Sisters let us teach their neighbor. Their apartment is in our area, so their neighbor was interested and we got to teach him. He's great and he has a lot of potential I think. We'll hope he comes to church and progresses!! 
This morning Sister Chandler and I were just reading about how much missions really bless our lives. I LOVE LOVE LOVE having the Gospel Library on my Ipad and being able to access it. It's the best. We watch videos of old conference talks and old apostles, and it's great. I watched "The Joseph Smith Papers" as I was running. We read a few talks from a long time ago and read from President Hinckley about how missions bless the rest of your life. We read a talk called "The Fourth Missionary" about how we need to give all of our heart, might and mind to the Lord. It's a good reminder to us, now entering the last stretch of our missions. I really love Sister Chandler, we have gotten to be really close! 
We have a lot of great member families, and so we have been thinking and trying to figure out how to help them share the gospel with their friends and neighbors. We always share spiritual thoughts at dinner, and ask about who they are working with and who their neighbors are. We decided we need to take it a step further and talk about making a plan with specific families about specific steps they will take! Hopefully we will see some fruit from that. 
I love being a missionary. I truly know this is God's kingdom here on the earth, and how much it blesses those who embrace it. I am so grateful to be sharing it with others! I know how much it can bless their lives. I love in a talk I read this week, it said sharing the gospel is like going around with $100 bills. If people don't want it, that doesn't change what it is worth or how important it is, you just find the next person who wants it! I love that analogy. 
So neat to hear about the Plums and their mission! That will be a great experience, and it'll be interesting to hear about what happens! 
This week is Missionary Leadership Council, but we got a voicemail from the assistants saying that it will be an over night conference? I guess we will be staying in Charlotte at another Sisters apartment. President wants to spent all day Friday with us and half the day Saturday. Not sure what we're going to do for that long but we'll see!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope everyone is having the most wonderful Christmas. I absolutely love Christmas on the mission. It really is wonderful. Of course I miss family and friends, but it's really amazing to be able to share the gospel and help other people feel the spirit and the real reason for the season. 
And the weather here is fantastic, it has been 75 Degrees ALL WEEK and it's actually been really hot, green grass and nice temperatures for Christmas, I'll take it :) 

This week was wonderful. Sister Chandler and I went caroling with our IPADS and met a few great people. We didn't go on any exchanges this week, because transfers were this week so we don't have a list of people to go on exchanges with yet. 
We did a lot of finding and street contacting and different ways tried to fill our escalator. We are still working on finding new people, we have been so focused on Bradley and Gladys that now we need to fill the escalator and find new people.
So all of the students from our ward who were here in the summer and went to schol at BYU came home for Christmas and they were all at church yesterday... surprised to see me still here in their ward after so long. I've been here 7 months now! Funny! I'll be able to have lots of new friends when I get back though :) 
On Saturday our ward had a ward Christmas party, Hawaiian style. It was so fun. They had a lot of great food, people did talents, and it was really fun. The Elders and Sister Chandler and I came up with a skit/song that was called "tracting in a winter wonderland". The video is too long to email but it was really funny. 
Oh and on Sunday BRADLEY GOT BAPTIZED. It was a wonderful service. Bradley is so funny and cute and the family was so happy. Bradley has been taught for a while, but they have been waiting for the older brother to come home from college for Christmas to do the baptism, so I know this family well and love them. 
Today we are off to a Zone Christmas "meeting/party" with President and Sister Craven and 2 zones are getting together to do it. It will be fun. I love getting together with old companions and friends :) :)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dec. 16

So.. this week we started out with a bang by getting IPADS. We drove down to the Gastonia building and spent a few hours as a Zone getting trained on how to configure them. So that was so fun! It is an amazing tool to help our missionary work and a great blessing. We now have access to email, Skype, Facebook, Blogs, Siri, and everything. Mostly we have been using them to show videos in our teaching. It has really been a blessing. I have a world clock on my ipad that shows the time in different cities around the world, I have programmed the Philippines, Uganda, Sweden and Salt Lake :) Sister Chandler and I have had fun downloading lots of mormon messages, and "I'm a Mormon" videos. If we download them, we don't need internet to play them. And another nice thing is we have a "translator" app where we can speak into it and it speaks spanish. I don't know how accurate it is. But we used it to teach a less active Hispanic family and they loved it. Usually their Son has to translate and he was very excited that he didn't have to :) 
We have been using the closest internet connection, which is our clubhouse. The Clubhouse isn't open all of the time though, but the Gym in the clubhouse is open 24/7 and we go in there to use the internet to do our Facebook time. But we still have to be in proselyting clothes. So we sit and workout while teaching lessons in our proselyting clothes. Must be funny for people driving by. But that's ok :) Ha ha. We have actually found one investigator, and taught a couple less actives lessons on Facebook. We have Facetime, but we haven't used it yet. They haven't said if we get to take these Ipads home with us, but I hope we do! It's amazing I have more technology on my mission than I did at home.. Ha ha.
Even though we had an MLC last week, and usually that's only once a month, they called another one this week because we had a visitor, President Donaldson. He works in the missionary department and also was the mission president in the District 1. ( ps the District is great, you should watch it). He talked to us as the missionary leadership council how to best use the pamphlets, invite people to church, and just made it really simple. I loved his training. He talked about enlarging your vision, not just having people read one chapter in the Book of Mormon, but having them read the whole book of Mormon. He talked about having powerful exchanges, and really helping missionaries become the best that they can be. He said it's our responsibility as the leadership of the mission to pass on our best practices to the newer missionaries. I can't believe I am now getting to be the one of the "old ones" in the mission. After my year mark in a few weeks, then I will be officially over the hill in mission time. But right now I am more like middle age. 
We had one exchange this week, with the Hickory Sisters. They are incredible. I went with Sister Whitmer. I learned so much. I learned about serving each other and being a servant leader. I learned about a positive attitude. 
Bradley (remember the 10 year old we've been teaching for a long time?) has a baptismal date for next Sunday at 7:00! There is a few things that might get in the way.. and his family has a lot of things going on and are kind of last minute planners, but we are hoping everything goes through! We have grown to love his family. I have been teaching him and seeing them for several months now, and they are incredible. They are so kind and loving and really sweet. You would love them. 
We are having a Ward Christmas party this Saturday, and us and the Elders are supposed to be doing something. Like a funny skit. We haven't figured it out. But it's going to be great. Heather ( the one you met who came to our house!) she is in charge of it :) 

The Elders in our ward are doing great. Like I said before, one of them had their father pass away of cancer a week or so ago. It's hard to see someone go through that, especially when I can't do anything to help. He is going to stay on his mission though! He has a lot of Faith. They both have helped each other a lot through it and I think they'll be life long friends. President will probably keep them together for a long time because they have been a great support to each other and they don't need any change right now. 

Sister Chandler and I are staying together! Woot! This will mean I have been in Huntersville for 8.5 months by the end of the transfer!! Ha! Maybe I'll stay here my whole mission. Who knows. I love the Ward though. Sister Chandler and I have spent Halloween, Thanksgiving, now Christmas, New Years, and our year marks together! It'll be great. 
MOM thanks so much for the Christmas Package. At the Ipad Meeting, all of the other missionaries were jealous, and said that my parents must love me more than theirs. I could not disagree with them. Ha ha :) I know you show your love with much more than presents though, but thank you :) :) It's sitting in my closet.. taunting me. Sister Chandler won't let me open it though, don't worry. It'll last till Christmas. Maybe I will open it on Skype :) 
Is there any chance Heather's family can come to our house so we can Skype with both of you or something? Just a thought :) .... probably a crazy one though. 
We had a great lesson yesterday on keeping Christ in Christmas. Remember the reason for the season this year, and share the gift of the Gospel with someone!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dec. 9

Hello! This week we had a lot going on. Some really great moments though. Let's see.. on Monday we went bowling for a Zone Activity. That was super fun. It was strange though because they were playing really loud hip hop music the whole time.. weird. But it was fun anyways. 
On Tuesday, we went on exchanges with the Newton Sisters. I went with a new Sister I have never gone before. She was doing good, but she's really shy and I tried to help her learn to talk with people. But it was really good for her to be in her own area for the day, to be "in charge" for a while. It helped her step up and she did wonderfully. After exchanges, we had dinner with the Elders and one of our favorite member families. And after that we were going to see someone, it fell through, and I felt like we should go street contacting in this apartment complex. Even though it was super dark and cold and nobody was out. BUT we met this lady named Amy who we had a great conversation with! She "has her church" ( I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that. Seriously), but she just had a hard day and needed someone to talk to and we helped her out and now we are friends with her on Facebook and hopefully we'll be able to keep in contact with her! 
On Wednesday, we had district Meeting, took pictures by the Christmas tree at the church, and went to lunch at Wendy's. So fun. We did some more street contacting in the cold rain. After Coordination, we saw Bradley and his family. They are doing great! They are wonderful. Bradley is having mouth surgery this weekend, and so their family wasn't able to come to church, but they did set a date for his baptism on the 22nd! Yay! He is the funniest little kid. And his family is so sweet. We love them. 
Thursday we had our shift being hosts at the "Nativity Festival." It was so neat. All weekend, the church was filled with hundreds of nativities. it was an open house from 10am- 9 pm. Lots of people brought friends and neighbors, and it was the best.We were just helping being ushers and meeting people. We met this lady ( who unfortunately doesn't live in our boundaries..) who had 3 adopted kids from Uganda! So neat! So obviously we talked about Uganda with them. :) Then Paula picked us up and Gladys, we went up to the church for her Baptismal Interview. She did wonderfully. Then we took Gladys and her fellow-shipper, Paula to the festival. We went to the dress up corner (that was mostly for kids, but we went, obviously) and dressed up as the nativity. It was one of the funniest moments of my life. I was Joseph, Paula was an angel, and Gladys was Mary, and Sister Chandler was a cow. Ha we were laughing hysterically. We sang "silent night" and Paula and Gladys were singing seriously, and Sister Chandler and I were just dying laughing. Just imagine, funny old ladies and two Sister Missionaries dressed up as the nativity. I took a super funny video, I'll try to email it to you. I will remember that moment for a long time. :) Thursday Night we did our weekly planning, which we usually do Thursday morning, but we did it at night because our shift at the festival was in the morning. 
Friday we traveled to Charlotte for Missionary Leadership Council. It was fantastic. We learned so much from President and Sister Craven and the Assistants. We were also there all day, from 9-3. But it is always such a great meeting. Call me weird, but meetings are one of my favorite parts of the mission. Then we traveled to North Wilksboro, to go on exchanges with them. I was here in Huntersville with Sister Mena. She's amazing. Love her. We went to dinner with a Sister in our ward who made us home made Cafe Rio. It made my LIFE it was so good :) Then afterwards, we saw this cute less active (only because they have to work on Sundays) couple who moved into the Ward. They are from Burma, don't' speak much English, but they are the kindest people. They were actually in the Mountain Island ward when I was there, so I knew them before and they just moved here into our boundaries! Sweet! Saturday, we contacted a few referrals we got from a random guy, invited a few people to the festival, and then drove back to North Wilksboro (1.5 hours away, 1 way) and drove back and went straight to Gladys' baptism at 4:30! It was so sweet. Best baptismal service ever. She was so excited. She's the happiest person. The Ward loves her. When she came up out of the water, she was saying "Hallelujah, Praise the Lord!, Thank you Jesus!" But respectfully, and she really meant it. It made everyone smile :) Then we went to the Nativity Festival with our neighbor, Sandra. (remember the one we  spent Halloween with). She's a nice lady and she LOVES us. She is a "devout catholic", so not really interested in learning about the gospel, but she LOVES us and thinks we are the best neighbors ever, so we took her to the festival and she loved it. It was really neat to feel the spirit there. Then she took us to the best ice cream place in town after, and it was so good :) 
Yesterday was Gladys's confirmation. Another great experience. She was blessed that she would be an example to her family, who will someday be receptive to the gospel! We are hoping her daughter and granddaughter join the church someday!! Then we ate with another one of our favorite member families for dinner, it was so good. And we made gingerbread houses after. And then we went to our recent converts (remember Mary who got baptized back in June? the 75 year old lady?) We went to her house to watch the Devotional. We got curled up in blankets and had hot chocolate. :) It was fun :) Really got us into the Christmas spirit. 
Needless to say, we didn't get much time to find new investigators this week, so our "escalator" isn't as full as we'd like it. It was a crazy busy week, between 3 days at the nativity festival, 2 exchanges, Missionary Leadership Council, District meeting, a baptism, and the devotional. But I wouldn't trade it for anything :)  
We are OFFICIALLY OFFICIALLY getting Ipads on Tuesday. People from Salt Lake are coming to train us.

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2

Wow! I can't believe it's December already! I LOVE the Christmas season and I am so excited. I love seeing all of the Christmas decorations going up. 

This week was wonderful. We had a really great lesson with a Less Active and her non-member husband on Monday night. Honestly, it was freezing cold and raining so we were glad she let us inside. She is not usually home. But we had a wonderful lesson with her, and her husband is a non-practicing jew. Really not religious much at all. So we taught him about the first principle, in the first lesson, about how God is our loving Heavenly Father. They are really great, but they are out of town a lot, and moving soon. :( To Tennessee. But I'm sure the missionaries there can continue teaching them :) 
For Thanksgiving.. we ate at the MacDonald Family's house (Not at MacDonalds, don't worry!) and they cooked a wonderful meal and had some families from another ward over. It was a great time. I felt fine, it just felt like another day to me! Get back to work! They ate in the afternoon and we went out street contacting some of the day, and then when it got dark we went to the black friday lines and handed out invitations to a nativity festival! It was so fun! We even asked the cops there if we could do it and they said "Are you selling anything?" We said.. "NO!". Seemed like they wanted to say no we couldn't do it, but they couldn't think of a reason why and our faces were just so cute and happy they said "Good luck." It was fun to go out to Target and other lines and invite people to the Nativity festival. It was COLD though, it's getting COLD at nights here! 
One day this week.. it was super cold and raining and we didn't have any appointments all day. So we were just.. walking around street contacting and tracting in the pouring rain and the rain soaked through my boots and my socks and shoes were wet. Ha ha. Sister Chandler was very nice to put up with my attitude that matched the rain. But she's so happy and she made me laugh. We work well together. 
On Saturday we had a wonderful meeting! We had a "Sisters Only!" training. All of the Sisters in the mission got together and President and Sister Craven and their Daughter (who is married with kids but in town visiting for a few weeks) gave us a training. Sister Craven trained on Modesty. President Craven trained on how the Priesthood and womanhood work together and should compliment one another, and I learned a lot. There is still a lot I need to learn about the Priesthood. Our mission President is very much a gospel scholar, he reminds me of Dad in that way :) I thought of how neat it'd be if I get to travel to visit Mom and Dad as mission presidents somewhere one day. It's going to happen, Dad. You would be an incredible mission president :) Mom, you would be a wonderful support! Their Daughter went to Australia on her mission a few years ago and shared some experiences and told us how the mission has blessed her life. She talked about the "Three painful moments" when you get on the plane, when you get released, and when you wake up the morning after you get home and can't put your nametag back on. She said when your done, you'll get down on your knees and review your mission with the Lord and he'll either say "Well done" or "You wasted my time". Pretty intense. She also talked about  the 3 C's, "Criticizing, Comparing, and Complaining" and how and why we have no right to do any of those. It was a wonderful meeting, and I learned a lot.
We were supposed to go on exchanges this week.. but the Sisters got sick, so we did an "exchange from a distance" and called them on the phone throughout the day. 

Gladys is doing great. So.. turns out she has diabetes, and she was too sweet to tell us last week at church that she needed to eat (Sorry Dave I should have known) but.. she stayed for 3 hours of church, and 1 hour of Choir afterwards. And.. on Mondayshe went to the Hospital because her sugars were off! Whoops!! She recovered though, and now she's fine. We just need to make sure she is going to eat at church. Ha! But she is doing great, came to church this week. She even bore her testimony at sacrament meeting this Sunday. She didn't use the microphone like everyone else though, she just stood up where she was at. She did great though, bore her testimony of how grateful she was to meet us and how she loves the Book of Mormon. The Elders in our ward also brought two investigators, and one of them bore their testimony. It was wonderful and the spirit was very strong! I also bore mine, because there is another transfer before next Fast Sunday and thanked the Ward for all I have learned from them. They have truly touched my life so much. 
One of the Elders in our ward I know pretty well, all 4 of us actually came out on the same transfer. One was my MTC District Leader. They are going through a hard time, one of their father's passed away of lung cancer this week. He is such an incredible example of me of faith and strength. Hardly any missionaries or members know, and he has decided to stay on his mission. It's really tough to see him struggle but he has a wonderful companion, and they help each other. They know the Plan of Salvation is real. 
P.S Sister Chandler and I have been working out extra (during our breakfast hour) in the mornings. We both decided we want to be fit when we get home, and we are going to start now! It's fun we get to go home together. She has a fiancee though, that's weird. . When she gets off the plane, he'll be there.