It has been such a wonderful week. Transfers are this week... BUT... my sweet companion Sister Pew and I will be staying here in White Oak! Crazy. I've never stayed in an area this long but i'm so happy.! I just feel so powerfully that God really does love me enough to keep me here with Sister Pew. I am so so blessed I cant even believe it! We are so excited for this coming transfer and to see the fruits of our labors. The work has really been picking up and so many miracles have been happening. God is just leading us to such wonderful people it amazes me each and every day.
Well this week we met with Rob, the guy that i mentioned last week that requested a book of mormon. His wife was feeling a little sketchy about the idea so he came to the church just him and met with us! I cant even begin to describe how COOL he is. Once again... someone who is wayyy to cool for me to be teaching. Haha. But he just sat right down and immediately opened up. He told us that he hasnt gone to any church for a while and that he simply feels like he is being led to this church. He feels like it is his calling in life and he just wants to know more. He told us that he has been researching the church... even on some anti websites and that he basically believes in everything. Even with some of the bad stuff that is said about the church he was just like "That makes no sense, why would anyone think that" haha. It was one of the most powerful lessons i have been in. He felt so completely comfortable that as we taught the spirit was so strong and testified to ME that this message is true and that everyone truly needs to hear this message. It is the most important message in the WORLD and everyone should have an opportunity to accept it. Rob has already given up smoking and is working on living the word of wisdom. He is covered in tattoos and straight up said that its too late for him to be living that commandment but that he will start now and not get any more. He said he is working himself off of caffeine and as we took him on a tour around the church and showed him the baptismal font he basically asked how long it would have to be before he could do that. Haha. It was so sweet! Ive never taught anyone who was just SO accepting of EVERYTHING and ready to just be a part of the church and learn. He simply asked us to just be his guides in this process. He said he will do whatever we ask so that he can truly know for himself. Wow. God is truly hastening his work and i am more and more amazed every day that i get to be apart of it. I am so grateful to be an instrument in his hands to help these people find the truth. Yesterday he texted us and told us that his wife would also like to start meeting with us now too! I am so excited for them. So grateful God has placed them in our path!
The other night Sis Pew and I went to invite one of our investigators to church that we hadnt seen in a while. She just happened to be sitting in her backyard and it was just really awkward and we didnt know how to approach her. So we pretended to casually walk by and then just casually invite her to church.... haha so we did just that with the situation being a little awkward as she kindly rejected our invitation. Haha well we felt silly for just turning back the way we came since we were acting like we were on our way somewhere else and our car was like a 15 min walk away so we began to trek our way around the block back to our car knocking on the doors we felt inspired to as went. We had knocked on a few as we went with no success and just as we were approaching our car both Sis Pew and i said at the same time that we needed to go knock on a certain door. As we did, this sweet girl named Cara answered the door and before we could even introduce ourselves she just immediately lit up and came outside to talk to us. As we talked to her about the church she was getting so excited and was accepting everything we said with such enthusiasm!. Then she told us how crazy it was that we had just knocked on her door because a couple weeks ago she had a traumatic experience happen to her and it really brought her down low and then just last week her sister from texas randomly came to visit her which made her so happy and then we knocked on her door and she said that she just felt so strongly that God was sending her sister and us to her to help her during this difficult time. She said that because of this experience she has been wanting to know God better and come closer to him since she has just felt of his love so strongly. She is only 20 years old and has the cutest 2 year old daughter and we are planning to see her again this week! It just amazes me how truly aware God is of his children and it amazes me how he works through us as missionaries and members as well to bring them into the fold. It happens in the most unexpected ways but yet he is behind it all.
We had a crazy Sunday yesterday... I got to speak in Sacrament Meeting and then we were in charge of the youth for the last 2 hours of church while all of the adults were in a marriage counseling class. It was awesome!! Something our mission president has really been emphasizing lately is being involved in the ward and it has made all of the difference of earning the trust of the members! It has been so fun as we have done sharing time, subsituted for classes, and working with the youth yesterday. I am just learning so much from the people here each and every day. I feel right at home in this ward and love getting to know each and every one of them. They all have such a special place in my heart. I was asked to speak in sacrament meeting about pioneers and enduring to the end. It got me thinking a lot. Especially about the pre-earth life ( i would say that is one of my favorite aspects of the gospel) I was thinking about just how our preparations for our journey coming to earth could have been similar to thos preparations that the pioneers made as they prepared for their trek. Each of us have been placed in different circumstances, with our own weaknesses, insecurities, and temptations. However, before we came we knew that this life wouldn’t be easy and that we would be tested. We knew that we would be faced with adversity that would be hard to overcome. We were all well aware of the journey that lied ahead of us and the challenges that we were about to face. Yet every single one of us chose to come here and we all knew that by living the gospel of Jesus Christ we would be able to one day make it back home to our Heavenly Father. I imagine that this is a way similar to how the pioneers felt as they prepared for their long, difficult, heart breaking journey toward Zion. They knew if would be hard, they knew that it was possible that they all wouldn’t make it there alive, they knew they would have to leave a lot behind and that they would be facing many hills of adversity. As the pioneers trekked across the United States by wagon or handcarts facing rocky roads, rugged mountains to climb, threatening rivers to cross it is apparent that the journey was not easy for them. They faced harsh weather, threats of hostile Indians, hunger, fatigue, and many deaths of loved ones including children. These pioneers set the way before us as we strive to endure the trials and tests that we face in this day and age. As the pioneers trekked over a thousand miles they are a constant example to us today as members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and modern pioneers of enduring to the end.
Brigham Young said: “The men and women, who desire to obtain seats in the celestial kingdom, will find that they must battle every day for this sacred goal.”
We are living in a world today with rapidly increasing temptations of the adversary around us where heartache, loneliness, pain, and setback seem to be thrown at us more and more frequently.We, as modern pioneers today are on a difficult and treacherous journey of our own…facing our own hills of adversity, our own trail of tears, and wide treacherous rivers that are seemingly difficult to cross. There’s no doubt that on the pioneers difficult and heart wrenching journey they had great faith in our Heavenly Father and in Jesus Christ and we too, should follow in their footsteps of faith and diligence they had despite the opposition they faced. As we all made the decision to come to earth we exercised our agency, or the freedom to choose for ourselves. Every one of Gods children has agency. We all can choose for ourselves whether or not we are going to endure to end of this mortal journey. At baptism, we promised or WILL promise, to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. When Elder Bednar, visited this area a couple months ago he simply explained that we exercised our agency when we got baptized and we still have our agency but the only way we should be allowed to exercise it is simply by JUST choosing the right.
I really just love this gospel so much. I love Jesus Christ so much and know that he lives. He is my savior. God is real. Christ is real. This is all real. Its TRUE. Its nothing to be taken for granted. There is no greater place we could be than by focusing on strengthening our relationship with our savior jesus christ. I know this church is true with all of my heart. I love it with all of my heart. I am so happy to be in the Lords service and so very humbled that he has trusted me with so many wonderful people here in Virginia. I love my mission. It has made me into a person i never thought i could ever become and has changed me in indescribable ways. And it continues to do so. God is aware of each and every one of us there is no doubt in my mind. This journey is worth it. This gospel is worth it. ITS ALL WORTH IT. Keep on Keepin on. I love all yall so much and i'm so very grateful for the service and sacrifice that you give in order to be modern pioneers and to stand up for what you believe in. Have a great week! Hurrah for Israel! XOXO
Pic 1: Smores with Sis Dunbar!
Pic 2: Obsessed with smores mmmmm
Pic 3: What up
Pic 4: 6 more weeks of the DREAM TEAM in WHITE OAK
Wow. This week has been so crazy busy we barely have time to eat! Its so great though i LOVE IT. I love love love being busy and the work is going so great here! I cant believe how fast the time is going i seems to get faster and faster every week. There are so many wonderful things happening here in the White Oak ward and even throughout our whole mission. We have a goal right now of doubling our baptisms and i cant definitely see the miracles coming from that goal and from doubling our efforts. The Lord is indeed hastening the work and i am so happy and grateful to be a part of it and to be sitting front row watching it all happen. It is so cool to see the differences and changes our mission has made since i first got here. In order to truly have success you must change everything. Success wont come if you do the same rote thing all the time. Changes need to happen and i have seen the blessings that come from trying to make those changes.
Well..... MARY GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAY. I honestly wish i could explain the feelings and pure joy i have had this weekend getting to help her get to and enter the waters of baptism. It has been an unforgettable and incredible feeling. The change i have seen in mary since i got to this area has been indescribable. She is someone who has allowed the gospel to completely change her. She simply got out of the way and just let it into her life to change her for the better. As i watched her stand in those waters about to be immersed i couldnt help but feel so strongly of how much our Heavenly Father loves her and is proud of her. There were so many things in her life that were constantly eating at her and things that she felt sincere godly sorrow for and that she had repented of. But as she stood in those waters i was so happy that it was finally the time for all of those things to be completely washed away. She came up out of the water with the BIGGEST smile on her face just absolutely BEAMING. There is NOTHING in this world that beats getting to see someone take that leap of faith and come up out of the waters washed completely clean having just made promises with our Heavenly Father to stand as a witness of Christ always and to truly be His disciple. NOTHING BEATS IT. This is the most wonderful work in the WORLD. This is truly Gods chuch. God is aware of each and every one of us. Once we make that covenant of baptism many may say that we still have our agency to choose to follow our Savior. But we dont. We dont have that agency anymore cuz at baptism we already promised that we wouldnt do things that werent in alignment with His will. Its not optional to not go to church, to not read, or pray or keep the word of wisdom or the sabbath day holy. It simply isnt an option anymore for those of us who have made that covenant at Baptism with our heavenly father. At the end of Marys baptism she stood up and bore her testimony of the gospel. It sounded like she had been a member her whole life. It was so powerful and sincere and everything she said i knew was true and knew that she truly believed it. She said that this gospel has changed her life and that the state she was in when we found her was not a place that she could have continued on in her life and she knew that something needed to change. God has his hand in this work. I am so grateful to be here as his instrument and so grateful for the many wonderful people like mary that he has blessed into my life. I've done absolutely nothing but do what he has asked of me and he has placed these wonderful people in my life and i could never thank him enough.
Kevin and Kelly are getting baptized this Saturday. YAY. OMG. I love them. There are just too many people here that i love WAY too much. It kills me. Haha but love is the greatest thing. Anyway, they are so excited to get baptized this week. We had some very amazing lessons with them this week on the commandments. They are so overwhelmed with everything they have to change but they are so willing to do it. They always tell us "We will do anything to get to the temple and if this is what it requires then we're in!" I love so much that their sights are ALREADY set on the temple. There are still even life long members that are trying to figure that one out and i am so happy that that is their main goal. They were originally supposed to get baptized yesterday and with lack of time to teach them everything we were the ones that had to push back their baptism and it broke their hearts and then this weekend being memorial day there wont be a lot of people there and they are bummed but they arent letting any of that stop them. They want to get baptized ASAP to get to the temple ASAP. It is so amazing. They are such an inspiration to me. Kevin is so in tune with the spirit it amazes me. He says he knows that God has called him to this church and with their past they have definitely been prepared like crazy their whole lives for this time to embrace the gospel. I learn so much from them cuz they are just thirsting to have the gospel and spirit in their lives. They will do anything to have the spirit and to quench their thirst with it. It is such a big example to me because i know at times in my life i have truly thirsted to have the spirit in my life but it should be like that every day. That is how it should be for all of us. the gospel should be a part of us and it should feel weird to go a day without reading our scriptures or praying or doing something that will build our testimony in this gospel. I know the importance of those small and simple things and the differences that they can make in ones life. I've seen so many differences be made in others lives through those small and simple things. That is where it truly all begins and where we can start to become completely converted to this gospel.
Idk if i have talked much about our investigator Tim haha he is probably the coolest investigator i have ever had. I wish i was cool enough to teach him. I just dont live up to his level of coolness. His wife is a less active member and he has been investigating for 5 years. Heres a little brief of what Tim is like... He is trying to start up a heavy metal band, both of his arms and probably his whole body is covered in tattoos, he has a long pony tail and wears a doorag. Hahaha. HE IS SO COOL. We have a secret "sisters handshake" haha anyway it has been so so hard getting him to set a baptism date but he says he is ready to get wet whenever he feels like it! He wants to get baptized in the river and wants to just call us up whenever he feels like he is ready. Haha well we werent givin into that so last night we set him to be baptized on June 7. HUGE MIRACLE. Missionaries have been trying to set him forever and he finally agreed. My companion and i were caught so off guard but i know that many prayers of him having a softened heart have been heard and answered!! I am so excited for him!
Wow. This work is so amazing. The experiences i have had these past couple of weeks makes me want to go out and do everything i can to find every single person in this area who is prepared and to never stop looking and never stop finding. This gospel message is like handing out 100 dollar bills to people every day but it is something much greater than 100 dollar bill. When people dont accept it and think they can live without that 100 dollar bill i am offering then i move on and offer it to someone else until God finally places in my path someone to accept. I thank God every single day for placing me here in Virginia. I cant imagine NOT being here and NOT serving a mission. This is a part of me. It has become a part of who i am and who i am becoming. I cant believe God loves me enough to bless these amazing people into my life that i have met these past 13 months or so and will continue to meet. I know that i was sent here for a reason and i know that i am here in the White Oak ward for a reason at this time. God has been so good to me. I know with all of my heart that this work is real and it is true and it is the most important thing in this entire WORLD. I know that this gospel is true because i have lived it and i have received my own personal witness from the Holy Ghost that this is true and this is right. Ive seen this gospel change lives for the better. I have been blessed to be a part of others conversions but the biggest one of all that i have been a part of is my own. I hope by the time i am done here in Vriginia that as i head off that plane and come home that God will be confident in me as a true representative and disciple of Christ that he knows i will NEVER leave and who will always stay true to Him and His gospel. I love yall so much. thanks for everything. Have a wonderful week. Share this gospel with those you meet. Amazing things can happen. LOVE YOU. XOXO
Wow! Christmas is just in 2 days. I cant believe it! I am stoked to talk to ya'll! It has been yet another wonderful week here in Virginia! We had our Christmas Mission Conference last Tuesday and it was amazing! I just cant even describe to ya'll how happy i am to be a missionary. Idk where or who i would be without my mission... without these experiences and friendships and the spirit i cant even imagine anything in life being any better! We all sang as a mission the EFY Medley "As sisters in Zion/Army of Helaman" can you imagine the many tears flowing in that room.? President Wilson stood up afterward and said the spirit was as strong as the celestial room. I was sitting on the front row and singing that song with an army of 300 missionaries behind me was the most powerful thing i have ever experienced. We are truly all apart of Gods army. All 80000 missionaries. What a powerful army! No one stands against us. No one can tear us down. Just as the 2000 stripling warriors fought and were exactly obedient they didnt lose a single soul in that fight! I know that same promise applies to us that as we teach the gospel and share it with others and as we are exactly obedient no soul will be lost! We will be able to save as many souls as we possibly can on our missions! But not just that... we are a powerful army not just as missionaries but also as the 15000000 members of the church! I can promise yall that if you do your part in keeping your baptismal covenants by sharing the gospel and living worthily and being exactly obedient that your powerful example will save souls. This is Gods army and we are so blessed to be a part of it and just as the stripling warriors fought, we will fight and just as they were exactly obedient they didnt lose any part of their army! We can strive to do the same every day in our lives so that God can receive his whole army again one day! Never surrender. Never give up your armor that stands for truth and righteousness. Fight til the very end. I am so grateful to be a part of this powerful and strong army! I would never give anything up to not be apart of this and to not turn to the opposing side.
Thankfully with everyone being gone we were able to see some of our investigators this week. We are teaching a girl named avery who unfortunately is moving soon :( but she is so chill! Everything we teach her she just says "makes sense" she is really fun to teach. One of our lessons this week though she finally had a question that was concerning her and she was just concerned about the book of mormon and christ coming to the americas so we read in 3 nephi 11 where christ actually appears to the people in america and then we knelt down with her and asked her to pray to know if it was true and then to listen. She said such a beautiful prayer and after she finished it was silent. The Holy Ghost filled the room and she said that she felt good and knew that it was true. My testimony grew so much about the power of prayer. God wants to hear from us so badly. He stands at the door knocking, waiting for us to let him in! Waiting to hear from us and what is on our minds! We can tell him anything on our mind and anything that is in our hearts. It is so powerful. We can ask him anything and he will give us an answer! I know that to be true. He is my most loyal friend and i turn to him for everything. But the most important thing is to listen. I like to think of it as if you called up someone and rambled on about something or told a way funny story and then just hurried and hung up before your friend even had a chance to respond.... it's similar to that. We must let God respond. We pray to him and go on and on but sometimes we cut the phone call short and we dont allow the holy ghost to come and bear witness to us and help us receive answers to our prayers or to receive the comfort that we need. Our loving heavenly father is always on the other line he is there listening and i know he is there to respond as well! It was a neat experience cuz you could experience first hand what had just happened and that she was progressing in her conversion and we were able to witness it and feel what she felt as well.
Our investigator named katherine is the most adorable person in the world. She was being taught before i got here and just wasnt really getting it and not progressing very well. We are just starting from the beginning with her and the past couple times we have met with her this week she is finally starting to get it. We talked to her about faith and trusting that God is really there and that he loves us! We did a "trust fall" with her. I represented Jesus Christ and she had to fall and trust that i would catch her. She was freaking out. Haha it was so funny. But she finally fell and I (thankfully) caught her. She was so scared to fall. She was scared i wouldnt catch her. Sometimes i think that is what happens to all of us is that we are scared to rely or "fall" on christ. Trials and hardships enter our lives and we arent sure if Christ is really there waiting to catch us. We arent sure if things will get better. We sometimes have that constant pit in our stomach of falling and not knowing anyone is there to catch us. But what is so incredible about faith is that when we finally decide to trust our savior jesus christ and rely on him we will feel the relief that comes after we rely on him enough to feel him there to catch us. I have learned sooo much about our savior jesus christ this christmas season. He truly is the son of god. He truly died for each and everyone of us. It is so hard to comprehend that he was able to suffer for every sin and weakness of every single person on this earth. It blows my mind. But i know that he lives! No doubt in my mind. I know that it is through him that we can receive eternal life and live with him and our loving Heavenly Father again. I am so grateful to be a representative of him. What a sacred calling! I invite you all to think about what you can give to Christ this Christmas season. What is something you can give up to become more like him? Remember him and his sacrifice this christmas season and especially that he lives! He loves yall so much. Sometimes with the people here in virginia i feel like i get to see just a tiny sliver of how much Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love the people i come in contact with and teach. And most definitely i can feel a tiny bit of that sliver when i reflect on and think about my wonderful friends and family and how blessed i am to be a part of ya'lls life. Thank you for EVERYTHING. I LOVE YOU!
ps once again im sorry my emails are all over the place and make no sense.
Sounds like there is lots of snow there in utah!! There is no snow here yet.. just lots of very cold rain... they actually cancelled most churches yesterday except ours but we still only had sacrament meeting. They are whimps here! I never thought church would be cancelled over rain! It made me laugh! Haha but anyway, It has been an INCREDIBLE week! I dont even know where to start. I am loving this area so much and so many miracles have been happening it is unreal!! This week... believe it or not we taught CHRIS!!!! Never in my life did i imagine myself sitting in another lesson with him teaching him yet again. It was amazing. He is so awesome. He told us that the reason he lost contact with the church is just cuz he got caught up in school and friends and just being a typical college kid which is understandable.... he just lost focus on the church and religion in general and even stopped reading the bible cuz he became so busy and caught up with things. It was an amazing lesson though... we were just trying to figure out where he was at and where he was coming from with the church like if he had concerns or questions or doubts but it was nothing like that at all. He told us that he knows the book of mormon is true. There is nothing about the church that he questions or doubts. He knows that it is true. He has recognized a huge difference in his life since he stopped meeting with us and reading and everything. He told us he always felt like something was missing and that he couldnt figure out what it was. I have never heard a 19 year old boy talk the way that he did just about having a desire to be more spiritually in tune and actually recgonizing that he had been slacking a little bit and recognizing a difference in his life. As he was talking, i honestly just couldnt believe that it was happening and that he was saying the things that he was... i just felt so powerfully heavenly fathers love for him and so powerfully that he has a plan for him and for whatever reason... chris needed that break for a little while but he is ready now. That is why we found him is cuz he is ready. He agreed to be baptized at the beginning of next semester when he can focus more and not be so caught up with finals. YES!!! GET PUMPED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We are still teaching Tim and we set him to be baptized on December 28th! He is doing amazing. This past week we taught him the plan of salvation and never in my life have i seen someone with big wide eyes while we taught him the whole thing. Tim has lost both of his parents and only has one sister who is still in Ethiopia..... when we told him that he could live with his family for eternity his eyes got even bigger and he said "Wait, you really believe that?" There is no greater work, no greater feeling than helping someone understand and recgonize that they truly can live with their families forever and that they can see their loved ones who have passed on again. We are so blessed to have the knowledge that we do and there is nothing better than sharing that with others and helping them know that there is truly a plan for them.... and not just a plan but a plan of happiness cuz this is the plan that leads to pure joy and happiness not just in this life but in ETERNITY.
On Saturday we had a busy day planned and a few lessons set.... however as we were going throughout our day things started to fall through... all lessons cancelled and we knew what we were going to do but something popped into my mind that was completely off the wall that i wasnt sure if it was the spirit or me just being weird.. haha but we knelt down and prayed about it and sure enough we went along with the prompting we received. We felt we needed to go down to petersburg (my old area) which where we needed to go was a lot of miles and a lot of time for us to travel. There is a less active that lives there that has been on my mind constantly since i got to this area. I met him a few transfers ago but had no idea he was less active but since i got here i have felt like we needed to go see him. We had no clue if he would be home or not and it was a huge risk using all those miles to go somewhere that we didnt even know if he would be home. But we did it anyway, and we got there and sure enough he was there! He works all the time and is rarely home and it was a huge miracle that we got to see him. He has only been baptized about 10 months and i think he forgot that feeling and the spark from his conversion cuz by the time we had left after we had read the scriptures with him and uplifted him his whole countenance changed and idk what it was but he just seemed more at peace. On the way home, we stopped to see another less active since we were in the area and miracle is, she was home too. she works 70 hours a week and told us that she wasnt even supposed to be home at the time that she was but thankfully the lord directed her otherwise and we were able to see her and uplift her. I just know how aware the lord is of his children. It just takes courage to act on the subtle promptings he gives us even when they seem completely unrealistic. He is so aware of ya'll. I hope you never forget that. No matter what you are going through or who or where you are he knows you. He knows your weaknesses. He knows your strengths. He knows you better than you know yourself. Dont ever forget that there is a supreme being always watching out for you. Even when it seems like you are all alone. .. you arent. The lord always has your back. He is always right there with you, walking along side of you.
I just want to share with ya'll something that changed not only my whole misson but my whole life this past week. Our district leader shared with us a story from the ensign that talked about a boy who played basketball and ran track in jr. high and he was a very good athlete, very talented and enjoyed playing sports and being athletic. The longer he was on the basketball team things started to go downhill.... the coach started to tear him down telling him to take a seat on the bench, telling him he wasnt good enough, and that he never will be good enough..... nothing but negativity and criticism came from his coach and this boy he isnt a quitter... but he finished out the season and put up with his coach for that season but after it was over... he never went back to playing sports ever. It scared him to death. He avoided everything he possibly could that involved sports. He didnt think he was good enough cuz he believed what his coach told him. He didnt want to embarrass himself cuz he knew he was no good. Well, this boy he ended up on a mission with a companion who was nationally ranked as a track runner and they were in a place where the busses dont stop at all... .you have to run and try and jump on. One day they were out and trying to catch the bus and his companion told him that they would have to run super fast to try and catch the bus... the bus passed by and they ran as fast as they could... well... he beat his nationally ranked track star companion to the bus... then every day... they ran to the bus and he beat his companion every single time. This boys life had been stolen from him. He took what his coach told him in jr. high and believed him and because he believed him he was living below his abilities from that time on until he discovered on his mission that he was actually good at the things he did in jr. high but he let just one person tear him down and ruin him. I love this so much and it changed my life so much cuz you are what you believe! Dont let anyone EVER cripple you! Ya'll are good enough. If you want success, you must go and get it and you must believe. Dont let outside forces ruin you. Believe in yourself. Believe that you are good enough. Believe that God loves you. Believe that you are talented. Ya'll are in control of your life! You control it. No one else. No outside forces. No one. No friends, peers, family members, and especially not satan. If you want to be happy, you must make yourself happy. If you are going to dream... DREAM BIG. Ya'll can do anything. Ya'll can do anything you set your mind to. You must believe.