Archive | September, 2014

Meet the Mormons!

29 Sep

When did it get to be the end of September?! I feel like I blinked and missed the entire month. The autumn here in Missoula is just beautiful. Earlier this week, we had a freaky hot spell where it was in the nineties, but the past few days have been highs in the sixties and just gorgeous. The inside of our car is completely covered in leaf crumbs, but I’m not even mad because it’s so beautiful with the leaves around town!

Lovin' fall!

Lovin’ fall!

This whole past week was just really good. At FHE on Monday, we had a less active and an investigator show up… all of whom were invited by members of the ward and not us! It was a total surprise to see them there, but it was a good surprise. We also got a phone call that night that the elders in Frenchtown had run into one of our recent convert’s boyfriends, and he was now on date for baptism! It’s amazing to see how the Lord works individually for each person’s timing. On Tuesday, we watched the BYU devotional at institute, and the speaker was from Oklahoma! It was Constitution Day, and Mickey Edwards was a former congressman from Oklahoma and he spoke about being informed citizens and protecting our Constitution. After that, we had our first ward mission correlation with our Ward mission leader and our ward missionaries. It was a little rough because it was the first time, but it will get better! haha. That afternoon, we were at the Institute building for some weird reason, and we are usually never there, and some people walked in and started talking to us! It was a member girl and her non member friend who are both freshman, and they wanted to learn about institute, what time church starts, etc. It’s crazy how the Lord makes sure that you are in the right place at the right time.

Wednesday morning, we hiked the M with four elders. (We never go by ourselves because of safety reasons). Then we jogged the way down and raced! I finished happily in the middle. We had a bunch of teaching appointments all day and were super busy. We saw S for the first time in forever…. it was so sad. He just had no light about him. We’re going to give him some major space for a while and just let the ward fellowship him. That night we ate with a family from 4th ward that was baptized about 6 months ago. They actually feed us all the time and they are the best! (4th ward almost always feeds us and the elders at the same time). For dessert on Wednesday, we had flan, which I love. Elder Thomas looked like he was going to gag though because of the texture, haha. He developed a system of swallowing it without chewing… it was hilarious.

Ok, so have you all heard of the Meet the Mormons movie?? (If not, go to http://www.meetthemormons.com right now!!) Right now, the movie is not set to be shown anywhere in Montana. But not if the missionaries have anything to say about it!! President Mecham gave the mission a challenge of getting 10,000 requests mission-wide for the movie to come here. (That breaks down to about 80 invites per companionship). And as a part of this challenge, we actually got to watch to the movie!! Thursday morning, our zone and the Stevensville zone met up at the institute building, and the assistants came with President Mecham’s iPad that had a secure internet viewing of the movie. Oh my goodness, THE MOVIE IS AMAZING! The Spirit could be felt during the entire movie. The interesting thing about the movie is that it never talks about the restoration, it never talks about the temple… it only talks about who the Mormons are. All of us (including the elders!) were teary-eyed by the end. This movie would honestly change so many people’s perceptions of the Church. The movie was originally made to be shown in visitor’s centers, but after some non-member test audiences, they found that 74% of people wanted to learn more about the church. So here we have Meet the Mormons now! One of the main determining factors of how well the movie does/how long it plays will be the opening weekend. Go see the movie opening weekend if at all possible- I promise you it will be worth it and you will love it! Having seen the movie now, all of the missionaries are super pumped to get it to come here to Montana. We are having a competition among zones as well so see how many people we can get to request it here. Missoula for the win!

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This weekend was Homecoming for UM, and we went to the parade on Saturday and talked to a bunch of people about Meet the Mormons. They had some awesome floats! Saturday night, we got to attend the General Women’s Broadcast! The Stake Relief Society had a dinner beforehand which was really nice. I just absolutely loved the broadcast. Everything from the musical numbers, to the videos, to the talks. My favorite talk was definitely Elder Uchtdorf’s. My favorite line (as closely as I can remember): “God loves you not only for who you are today, but who you have the eternal potential to become”. “Becoming” has been a theme of study and prayer for me recently, and that line just really touched my heart. The week ended perfectly with our investigator coming to church on Sunday! She stayed all three hours, and for Break the Fast afterwards, and was still there socializing when we left. The ward was awesome about fellow-shipping her in right away. So great!
Well, that’s about it for me this week! Love you all so much.

**General Conference is this week!**

Falling for fall

23 Sep

It’s autumn! A new season, and a new companion as well! We found out last Monday that Sister Gold would be mid-transfer adjusted to Billings on Friday, and I would have Sister Randall as my new companion. She is from Charleston, Illinois, and has been out three months less than me. Sister Randall and I served in the same district down in Wyoming when she first came into the mission. We had just seen each other at zone conference and were talking about how cool it would be if we got to be companions some day! I guess the Lord decided that that day would be the following week.

Here’s a crazy story from this past week- our car was pranked almost everyday in honor of Sister Gold leaving! Oh, young single adult wards. Tuesday, we came out to it chalked and it had a big bow on it. Wednesday, we found it saran wrapped!

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We quickly cut it off so we could go to District Meeting, but when we finished District Meeting, we found it saran wrapped again! Haha. Thursday was an entire spiderweb of string around the car, complete with glitter on the car.

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And the finale on Friday was silly string and balloons. The culprits finally admitted to who they were on Friday, and it was exactly who we thought it was! They offered to reimburse us for all the car washes we had to do, haha.

Even though Sister Gold had been ready to leave for a few months now, it was hard on her to actually say goodbye to everyone. We spent much of the week visiting people and taking pictures.

Last Monday was good, just a fairly normal preparation day. My injury of the week was that a basketball hit me in the face and I literally thought my nose was broken! It was a little tender for a couple of days, but now it’s fine. At FHE last week, they played a bunch of group games that were really fun. We had to sit out a couple of them because they were too “touchy”, haha, but the rest of the games were fun. We also met with one of our investigators and followed up with her and her boyfriend about their decision to get married or move out so she could get baptized. We were pretty nervous going in to the lesson, but it turned out much better than we thought! Her boyfriend is a less active member, and his brother had called the two of them and talked to them about getting married sooner that April. They are seriously considering going down to the courthouse soon! So great!

On Tuesday, we did another hike up to the M, and we finally found the cave! yeah!

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We went to Qdoba for lunch, and I missed that place sooo much! A year is way too long without it. The only other food place I am still seriously craving is Chick-fil-a… and there are none here. 😦 Gonna have to be my first stop on the way home from the airport!

We taught one of our investigators the Gospel of Jesus Christ on Wednesday, and she is progressing like mad. She opened up to us a lot about her experiences with faith, and it was really beautiful. We had some good laughs during the lesson too. At some point we got on the topic of hawaiian shirts, and Sister Gold was totally forgot that Hawaii was part of the US. It was hilarious.:)

We started out the day on Thursday with a hike up to “pride rock” with the elders, which is a favorite of ours. The rest of the day was just craziness. I’ve come to realize that things just don’t phase me anymore that would have before the mission. A person you teach just got put in the psych ward? Ok, let’s go see them. A less active from 4th ward calls and says that she’s going to take a job as a stripper? Ok, let’s talk some sense into her. Haha, the mission is the weirdest experience I think I’ll ever have.

On Friday, Sister Randall arrived and Sister Gold departed. It’s awesome serving with Sister Randall. We both have a lot of enthusiasm and ideas for the area, and I’m excited to see where we are gonna take it all. We did a lot of contacting and teaching this weekend, and had a fair amount of success. Saturday morning, we helped out at a ward service project for Habitat for Humanity. We painted all the siding and trim- pretty cool!

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We’ve been meeting with an investigating family almost everyday, and it’s been up and down. They have a lot of family problems right now, and it’s getting in the way of their spiritual progression. But it’s still going well, which is good.

Well, I gotta run! Have a blessed and happy week (only 12 days until General Conference!!)

The “Suite” Life

16 Sep

Greetings from Montana! The weather here has been beautiful all week, which has been very enjoyable. We walked out to the first frost of the season on our car this week. Winter truly is coming, and I think it’ll be here faster than I expect. I’ll enjoy autumn while I can!

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Last Monday was crazy busy, but somehow we got everything done. I also went to Costco for the first time! I don’t know if it’s really “all that and a bag of chips” like everyone says, but it was nice. People here would kill me for comparing it to Sam’s club… but it’s basically Sam’s club, haha. We went bowling for part of preparation day, and Sister Gold and I totally dominated up the elders. They promised us that this week we would be humbled, but we’ll see.

Tuesday was great- we had zone conference! This is the first zone conference that I have ever attended that I did not have to travel 2+ hours for. The conference was almost entirely “breakout” class sessions, which was unusual but very helpful. We focused on planning, finding, and teaching… the Preach My Gospel basics! Preach My Gospel is such an inspired book. The musical number that I organized for zone conference turned out really well! It was funny seeing some of the normally very confident missionaries get really nervous about singing. One of our zone leaders is usually one of the most calm and collected guys, but I thought he was going to throw up he was so nervous. It went really well though and the Spirit was definitely there helping us.

On Wednesday, we got up early and hiked the “M” here in Missoula. Watching the sunrise from the top was definitely a highlight of the week. We hiked the “M” again on Saturday, but this time we went beyond and tried to find a cave that we’d heard about that was near the M. We spent almost an hour searching for it, but to no avail! That’s what we get for not asking for directions. We’re gonna find out how to get there, and then find the cave this week! It’ll be great. Between both hikes, I only slipped once (on the way down the second time) and it hurt my pride more than it hurt me. I have a gnarly small cut on my palm though from where I caught myself- booo!

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The members we live with had family come in town on Thursday, so we had arranged with the 4th Ward bishop to stay somewhere else. A family offered to house us… and they literally live in a mansion. No exaggeration. The dad is the CEO of an insurance company I believe, and they have the most beautiful home I have ever seen. For an idea about where we stayed, they have an underground garage with classic Porsches and THE car from James Bond 007, with a car wash that you have to drive through to get into the garage. We personally counted at least 11 bathrooms in the house. It’s like living in a museum- everything is beautiful and perfect. They are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet though. They really made us feel at home and made sure we were taken care of. Spending five days there will definitely be one of the most unique experiences of my mission! Last night was our last night there.

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The weekend was filled with lots of ice cream, oddly enough. We went to 4th ward’s ice cream social on Friday night, members fed us ice cream on Saturday, and then the YSA ward had an ice cream social Sunday night. Too much ice cream! This weekend we taught one of the elders’ investigators with them. They just moved into town, and the only reason the husband isn’t a member is because he can’t quit smoking. We had a super powerful lesson with them on Friday, and they both got priesthood blessings. At the end, the man just started handing us all of his tobacco and had us take it away! We currently have a big bag of tobacco sitting in the trunk of our car… awkward, haha. Sis. Gold suggested we burn it, but we thought better of that because of the fumes! So I think we’ll douse it all in water and then toss it in a trashcan somewhere and hope a homeless guy doesn’t find it. We met with our investigator again this week, and she is doing really well. I really feel like she already knows that what we are teaching her is true, but won’t quite admit it yet. She’s great. Our investigator S is being dumb- it’s been a struggle all week. He keeps canceling appointments, but when we called him out on it and told him to tell us if he wants to stop seeing us, he said that he still wants to meet with us. Gah! Frustrating.

One of the assistants just called and we found out that Sister Gold is being mid-transfer adjusted! She’s headed down to Billings on Friday. I’ll be getting a sister I know, who I am actually super excited for!!!! She was in my district in Wyoming, and I just love her to pieces. I saw her at zone conference this past week, and we hugged for like 2 minutes. I’m really sad to lose Sister Gold, but I am at least happy that I know I have a good companion coming in. Craziness in the mission field! You never know what’s gonna happen.

I better wrap this letter up! I hit eleven months in the field this week- time is flying by so quickly. Love you all so much, and I wish you all safety and happiness this week!

To the Temple

8 Sep

Happy first week of September! Has it started to cool down and turn into autumn yet where you are? This week had a couple days where I had to break out my first jacket in a long time! It’s mainly still warm though and very pleasant. Let me tell you about my week! Last Tuesday was an interesting day. We had almost all of our appointments fall through, which was a bummer. We ended up tracting most of the night. I have officially had my first door slammed in my face! It’s amazed me how long it has actually taken for this to happen. Sure, people have been rude or whatever, but this was the first door slam I’ve had. I take it as an accomplishment.

There is an entire neighborhood here in Missoula that is called "Potter Park" and all the streets are named after Harry Potter things. **Be Still My Heart** I was so happy when I saw it! And it's in my area!

There is an entire neighborhood here in Missoula that is called “Potter Park” and all the streets are named after Harry Potter things. **Be Still My Heart** I was so happy when I saw it! And it’s in my area!

We had district meeting on Wednesday morning, and we learned a lot about finding and teaching. We had to leave halfway through the meeting though so we could go get our oil changed before our trip to Billings. At 3pm, we all left Missoula and headed for Billings for the temple the next day. We had awesome members driving two 15 passenger vans, and then my companion and I and another set of sisters rode in our car. It was a 6 hour total trip. We stopped briefly in Bozeman (yeah!) for dinner and a stretch. We passed the car ride with lots of singing and conversation and listening to talks. 🙂 We rolled in to Billings around 9:15pm and they divided us up to sleep at various member’s houses and other missionaries’ apartments. I even got to see my former companion in Billings briefly, which was fun!

Beautiful Billings temple!

Beautiful Billings temple!

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Thursday was the highlight of my week! We got to go to the temple! We all met at the temple at 8:30am and took a zone picture, then we went in and got changed. The temple president, Pres. Jordan, and the Mechams then gave us a special meeting in the chapel- it was awesome. Then Pres. Jordan took all the sisters on a special field trip to one of the sealing rooms and talked to us about being married around the altar and the importance. The tears started then and didn’t really stop until the end. I received some much needed revelation and comfort in the temple. This experience in the temple has particularly increased my testimony of the temple. I know that it truly is the house of God, and it is where we can see ourselves most clearly the way that Heavenly Father sees us.

After the temple, we all went to Golden Corral and ate way too much. Then it was on the road again by three! We got back to Missoula around 9 and came home and crashed. Friday was a fun day…. it was my birthday! Thank you all so much for your birthday notes and emails and gifts- you all rock! I realized that I am the first missionary in the “Hoggans” that has served at age 22. Yeah! We went to Friday Forum and learned about being strong through “spiritual whirlwinds”. Everyone sang me happy birthday very loudly afterwards- it was hilarious. Sister Gold had previously told our dinner appointment that it was my birthday, so they threw me a little party! So kind! Bro. Kershaw served his mission in Oklahoma in the early 2000s, and he totally remembers the Dinkels from when he was in Lawton, and he knows the Siharaths as well. Small world!

On Saturday, we made cookie dough over our lunch hour and ate it, and I killed like three bees in the house. #BeeSlayer. Sis. Mecham texted me and asked it I could put together a musical number for Tuesday’s zone conference, so I found some music for that and enlisted some fellow missionaries. We’re doing an arrangement called “Peace”, which is a medley of “Where can I turn for peace?” and “Be still my soul”. It’s really beautiful, but I’m just hoping it comes together in time! Prayers please!

Our investigator S is really struggling right now. He feels like he’s not getting answers to his prayers, which is really sad. We finally saw him Saturday night, and we’re really going to focus on him this next week. Sunday was a pretty normal day. During one of our ward member’s testimonies, she talked about how she loves the prayers of children because they are so honest and personal. She told how she heard a four year old say once, “Thank you for killing all the dinosaurs”, and she initially laughed, but realized that she really WAS grateful that there weren’t anymore dinosaurs around! Pretty funny.

I love you all soooo much!! Thank you for all you do. Did anyone else just realize that general conference is right around the corner? Boo-yah! I’m excited. Talk to you next week!

Miz-zoo week#2

2 Sep

It is strange to be writing you all on a Tuesday! But with the libraries closed for Labor Day yesterday, we have to do it today. Secretly, I actually like holiday preparation days because we have more time to do other stuff… haha. It feels like so much has happened since I last wrote you all though! We had a really successful week here in Missoula YSA ward. I’m finally getting to know some people and places, but since I’m not the driver, it’s been harder to learn my way around. I need to pay attention more when we are going to appointments! Oh, and one random thing that I didn’t write about last week… Missoula is pronounced “Mih-zoo-lah”.

Bowling!!!

Bowling!!!

So one thing fun that the missionaries do here in Missoula on preparation day is that we go bowling! There is a bowling alley here in town that offers $2 shoe rental and $1 games. It’s been forever since I last went bowling, but thankfully I haven’t done too terrible the past couple of weeks. I had one game where I totally rocked it. Last Monday we also got to go to FHE which was fun. They did a scavenger hunt thing where they collected food for the food bank, and then they got points based on the types of food that they collected. They went door-to-door to collect, and we decided to sit out because we figured that having missionaries in your group would be a detriment… haha.

On Tuesday, we went to one of the institute classes, and the class is watched the BYU devotional broadcast. We watched an old one this past week, but one of my favorites! It was Brad Wilcox’s “His Grace is Sufficient”. If you haven’t read it lately, you should look it up. After institute, we ended up hanging around the building for a few extra minutes talking to some people. This was pretty unusual because it was lunch time and we were starvinggg! But it ended up being the Lord’s hand that kept us there. The Bishop of the YSA ward, Bishop Blair, happened to be there as well in his office, and he had a young lady name Karen stop by and she told him that she wanted to learn about the church. He talked to her for a bit, and then he came out and saw that we were still in the building, and he referred her to us. Karen has been dating a less-active member of our ward for about two years now, and she felt like she should just walk into the institute building and learn more about the church because she’s been searching for “something more”. We taught her that day, and then we saw her again on Wednesday, and then she came to Institute class on Thursday night! She is awesome.

Our other investigator is still doing pretty well. He’s had some difficulties this past week, so we are probably going to have to push back his baptism a week, but we think he can overcome his fears this week. He is still progressing, and is reading the Book of Mormon like crazy. This week we started meeting with a recent convert twice a week. He’s been having some struggles and hasn’t been at church in a while. I had the fun experience of locking myself inside his trailer’s bathroom… it was crazy! He had to come basically break down the door… hahaha.

Zone Conference

Zone Conference

District Meeting in this zone are held until Wednesday, which is kinda odd. We have two members of our ward that are preparing for missions, and they come to district meeting with us and observe and participate. It’s pretty cool! I think it’s a great opportunity for pre-missionaries to get to see that. (I didn’t even know what district meetings were before the mission… lol!). Wednesday nights, we got to ARP (Addiction Recovery Program) with a member that we teach, and that program is so inspired. It really is awesome.

On Thursday I had a new experience- I rode a city bus for the first time in my life! Apparently this area didn’t have a car for a long time, so Sister Gold is pro at the bus system. We have a member of our ward that also lives with us and our host family, and she just had shoulder surgery, so we went on the bus with her to help her do errands and carry stuff for her. And then we had lunch at Cafe Rio… yum.

We had exchanges over the weekend with our Sister Training leaders. I went to the other sister’s area with Sister Martin (who I came out with and adore), and we had a blast. We did a tracting approach called “hymning” where we ask if we can sing them a song. Our song that night was “I stand all amazed” and we had some amazing results- people let us in! On Saturday, we had an impromptu zone meeting where we talked about conversion. Then we had a testimony meeting together in which we each shared our conversion stories- it was powerful. My companion and I also gave talks on Sunday, and I chose to speak about conversion. It really doesn’t matter if you were born into the church or not- we are all converts. And we are all in the constant process of converting ourselves! I felt like our talks went well, and the ward members were very kind and complimentary afterwards.

Oh, I could probably write about three more pages, but I have to cut it off somewhere! It’s crazy to think that I will be 22 when I write you next…! Every time someone finds out that I’m turning 22, they start singing the Taylor Swift song “Twenty-two”… so that’s been permanently stuck in my head, haha. I love you all soooo much! Thank you for your righteous examples for me and your love and kindness. Have a happy week!