Archive | December, 2014

Happy New Year!

30 Dec
This place is so beautiful!

This place is so beautiful!

It feels like this week went by both really slowly and really quickly, if that makes sense. The first half of the week was spent talking to everyone we could about “He is the Gift”! We spent all of Tuesday afternoon street-contacting in downtown Missoula. There were lots of last minute shoppers to talk to on the street thankfully!

Christmas Eve was the best. We had District Meeting in the morning, and was just really special. Our district leader, Elder Braden, gave each of us short passages in the scriptures about Christ’s life to read, and we made a massive list of Christlike attributes. Then we gathered as a zone and had a testimony meeting. It was such an uplifting experience. For Christmas Eve dinner, we and the elders went to a 4th ward member’s home, the Howards. Sis. Howard is a single mom of four and we had a blast over there. We played Apples to Apples after dinner, and I haven’t laughed that much in a long time. The BEST part of the night was after that though. We went with Elders Burnham, Kennedy, Braden, and Bird to carol to the houses surrounding the stake center. Everyone we caroled to was so kind and excited to see us! People were trying to give us money even! (Which we of course declined). One family invited us in for a solid ten minutes and were taking pictures with us and putting them on Facebook… we seriously felt like the rockstars of Christmas. As we left each door, we couldn’t help smiling and remarking on how we all just felt like a million bucks. It was the best way to spend a Christmas Eve!

A Merry Montana Christmas!

A Merry Montana Christmas!

And then it was Christmas!! We even woke up to a white Christmas, which was unexpected. We had Christmas breakfast with some different 4th ward members, then we came back and skyped our lovely families. 🙂 Then we spent the afternoon at the institute building with some of the other missionaries playing ping pong and pool and such. Then we had Christmas dinner with a different family, and then came back home and studied our scriptures until bedtime. 🙂 I finished the Book of Mormon again on Christmas! I had set it as a goal to finish on that day, and it worked out perfectly. In this past reading, I underlined all of the covenants and promises in the Book of Mormon… it was awesome. This time through, I am going to write in the margins and record principles, thoughts, and general notes. On Friday, we had interviews with the new member of the mission presidency, Pres. Holmes. I had met him briefly at Stake Conference, so it was good to get to know him better- he is a great man! This week, the first ward sisters transferred us a YSA guy named Brett that they have been teaching. When we started teaching him this week, he opened up about a lot of his concerns and doubts… he didn’t tell the other sisters because he didn’t want to let them down. That made me really sad that he didn’t feel like he could be honest, but we are continuing to work with him and to help him through this trial.

Karen's baptism!!!!

Karen’s baptism!!!!

Ok, here’s the BEST news of my entire letter! Karen got baptized on Sunday!!!! It was such an amazing day. So back in late August/early September, Sister Gold and I ended up hanging around the institute building later than we usually do after an institute class. And Bishop Blair also happened to be there, which is crazy because he was only there during the day TWICE the entire semester. In walks Karen, and she wanted to ask someone about her questions. Bishop Blair talked to her first, and then he introduced her to us…. and we’ve been teaching her ever since! It wasn’t the smoothest path, but conversion rarely is. Karen is amazing, and is one of my closest friends even apart from the mission. I feel so privileged and blessed to have been able to be with her since the start. Her boyfriend, Tylor, was able to baptize her and Bishop Blair confirmed her. The baptism service was at 9am on Sunday, and then we had church at 10am! Ahhh, it was just perfect. I am not worried about her staying active at all- she has great support and she is also self-reliant in her testimony. Sunday was just the start of her new life!

Eh, it's just a little snow.

Eh, it’s just a little snow.

This weekend, true winter finally hit! It was colddddd. We got about 5 to 6 inches of snow yesterday, and the wind was just blowing like mad! We kept a positive attitude about it while we were out tracting though, and I think people invited us in out of pity at times… haha, oh well. 🙂 I wore my heavy duty snow boots yesterday too for the first time in a while. I hope you all have an awesome New Years!!! I’m not quite sure what our plans are yet… we’re allowed to be out until 10:30, but we will probably go to bed at our normal time because we have to wake up at our normal time. Love you all, and have a happy week!

22 Dec

Merry Christmas!!! ‘Tis the season of our Savior! Missoula is so beautiful at this time of year. A lot of people put up Christmas lights and decorations, and city made the downtown area very festive. As I see the Christmas lights lighting up the night sky, I am reminded of the day, night, and day that were one day in the Book of Mormon at the time of Christ’s birth. My thoughts have also been drifting back to the connection of Christmas and Easter. I love this quote from President Hinkley: “I bear witness [of] the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. Without it life is meaningless. […] The sorrow of death is softened with the promise of the Resurrection. There would be no Christmas if there were no Easter.” I hope you all take a moment to reflect on Christ’s Atonement this Christmas. I know that Christ was born to this Earth, and that he lives today! And that means for my life that I will live again and one day be like Him.

Well, like I mentioned last week, we had transfers this week and I stayed and got a new companion, Sister Moore. She’s been in the field now for about 6 weeks, and I will finish training her for the next 6 weeks. She is from Houston, TX and she’s 22 years old like me. Since I’ve been in and around Houston so much, we’ve been able to connect about random places that we’ve both been. The last few days with Sister Randall were really good. Last Monday, we made gingerbread houses for FHE! Some of the guys in our ward thought it would be funny to made a gingerbread graveyard instead for theirs…. oh goodness, haha.

Our gingerbread house!

Our gingerbread house!

The transfer happened on Wednesday, and Sister Randall left on the “outgoing van”, so I had to wait about 4 hours for the “incoming van” to bring Sister Moore. In that time, I got to be temporary companions with Sister Jones again!! So fun. We cleaned and organized our room like mad so that it would be neat for Sister Moore. Why have I accumulated so much junk on my mission?? Sister Moore got in around 4pm, so we dropped off her stuff and then hit the pavement!

Ok, so here’s a miracle! Karen is getting baptized this Sunday!!!!!! Finally!! I know I say this everytime, but I really feel like I’m in Missoula for her. We had a lesson yesterday, and she told us that Saturday wasn’t going to work after all for her baptism because she had to work. But she said that she really didn’t want to move it back either. So basically at the same time, we both receive the inspiration from the Holy Ghost that told us… “why not Sunday morning right before church?”. So that’s what we’re going to do! She’s having her baptism interview tonight at FHE, and then she’ll be all set. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have been with her from the start of her conversion.

Here is our other miracle for this week! All week, we have been tracting up a storm with the He is the Gift cards and video. We’d been able to show it to people, but no one had been really all that interested. On Sunday, I suddenly realized that we hadn’t been praying about where to tract- we were just going where-ever. So I included that in my morning prayer, and some less-active girls in our ward popped into my head. And I realized that it was their apartment complex that was where we needed to be. So Sunday night, we had a little over an hour to do some tracting. We drove over there and when we arrived I got a scared, weird feeling, especially because of the “no soliciting” sign (we’re not solicitors though!). I decided to park anyways, and we offered a prayer to see if we should stay. Both Sister Moore and I got a strong confirmation to stay. So we started with the nearest apartment, and we saw amazing success! In that one hour of tracting, we had eleven OYMs (Open Your Mouths- a gospel centered conversation), TWO new investigators (both of which are YSA!), and a potential family of four. We are feeling so blessed right now. It really reminded me to always act on promptings, and if there is doubt, just pray about it! In my very first interview with President Mecham back in November 2013, he told me, “If it is good, and if it could bring someone closer to Christ… then do it!”.

The Fantastic Four!! (yes, we may have named ourselves that over the course of the past transfer.... haha, good times)

The Fantastic Four!! (yes, we may have named ourselves that over the course of the past transfer…. haha, good times)

I am so excited for Christmas! We are having District Meeting on Christmas Eve, so that will be special. I think I’ll make some cranberry bread or something to share. We are having Christmas Eve with a family in fourth ward that I haven’t met actually, but the Elders know them and said that it will be great. Then we have Christmas breakfast with a single mom from fourth ward, and Christmas Dinner with the Kershaw family from fourth ward! The Kershaws feed us 1 to 2 times a week, and they are just the best, so we’re excited to get to spend Christmas with them. Other than that, our day is kinda up in the air. We’ll see what the Lord ends up needing us to do!

I love you all sooooo much!!!!! I hope you have an amazing Christmas.

And a partridge in a pear tree!

16 Dec

Well, it’s transfers once again! The verdict is… I’m staying! Sister Randall will be heading up to Columbia Falls (near Kalispell) on Wednesday. My new companion is Sister Moore, who I know because she’s been serving in our zone this last transfer. She has been out on her mission for 5 weeks, so I will be finishing training her. I’m really happy that I get to stay in the YSA Ward. I had the distinct impression this weekend that my work wasn’t done here or done with particular people we are teaching. This next transfer will be great! I’m excited and nervous to train, but hopefully it goes well.

Sister Moore (my new companion!), Sister Martin, and Sister Jones.

Sister Moore (my new companion!), Sister Martin, and Sister Jones.

Monday night’s FHE was a blast last week! Our ward did their Christmas party and there was lots of food and socializing. At the end, they did a White Elephant gift exchange. The way it worked is that they read a special version of the Christmas story and every time it said “right” or “left”, you passed your gift either right or left. About halfway through the story, somebody peeked inside of one of the gift bags and announced, “there’s fish in here!”. Haha, yep, someone brought live goldfish. Missionaries of course cannot keep pets, so it was pretty hilarious when Elder Inman ended up getting the fish at the end!

Elder Snell: an elf that poops jelly beans Elder Inman: fish- real live fish... well except for one- he didn’t survive the game. :( Elder Burnham: an electric fly swatter. Sister Hoggan: half carton of egg nog, so generously given by Elder Burnham… Sister Randall: 2 nerf guns. Wayy too much fun for two sister missionaries.

Elder Snell: an elf that poops jelly beans
Elder Inman: fish- real live fish… well except for one- he didn’t survive the game. 😦
Elder Burnham: an electric fly swatter.
Sister Hoggan: half carton of egg nog, so generously given by Elder Burnham…
Sister Randall: 2 nerf guns. Wayy too much fun for two sister missionaries.

Sister Randall definitely got the best gift I think- two small nerf guns! We may or may not have had a shoot-out between us… hahaha. This week, we turned our whiteboard into a target. To make it missionary related, we made each of the circles represent something: the biggest was OYMs, then lessons, then sacrament meeting attendance, and then the bullseye was baptism! Oh my, too much fun.

Don't shoot!

Don’t shoot!

I just love the Christmas season! We got our tree up in our room and got it all decorated. I’ve been enjoying the lights on it a lot. The institute is festive as well- I got a pretty good laugh at the ghetto Christmas tree they made. I will attach a picture of it.

Ghetto tree at the Institute!

Ghetto tree at the Institute!

Christmas has also been great for helping us start conversations. Sister Randall and I have been caroling to people on their doorstep while tracting, and while it’s terrifying sometimes, it’s great! People don’t immediately shut you down when you sing them a Christmas song. We’re gonna be caroling-tracting like mad this next week probably, all while spreading the He is the Gift initiative. The zone leaders started a competition between the two districts to see which can have the most OYMs related to He is the Gift. Our district is totally dominating right now, which is nice.
We have a new investigator! You’ll never guess what his name is. No seriously, it’s awesome. You ready?… Joseph Smith. YEP! His driver’s license proved it and everything. He goes by Joe, and Sister Randall and I always laugh because we feel like the “bad people” in the Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration video because they would always call him Joe Smith. Bahaha. Anyways, so Joe is legitimately great. We’ve taught the first two lessons, and he’s just soaking it all up like a sponge. He wasn’t able to come to church this week, but hopefully next week! He’s a huge nerd like me, so we instantly clicked. He’s not for sure about baptism yet, but we’re going to keep talking to him about it. We also have a new less-active that we’re working with, and her name is… Dana! Talk about confusing. Every time my companion says her name I find myself turning my head. Our investigator Adriana is home for Christmas break in California, so we’re working on getting her hooked up with the missionaries down there. We also saw Karen this week, and she told us that she’d talked to her kinda less-active boyfriend about baptizing her. He knows he needs to get his act together, so this might be the push he needs.

If the scriptures had a soundtrack, it would be Handel’s Messiah. That music just makes my heart sing! The Missoula Stake Choir did two performances of parts of it, on Friday and Saturday night. The choir and orchestra has been practicing since June apparently. I was actually really impressed with the quality, particularly with the soloists. We had people we are teaching attend each night, so we attended both nights with them. On Friday night, we also got to hand out programs and usher. Pretty fun!

I need to own at least 5 snuggly dachshunds when I get home!

I need to own at least 5 snuggly dachshunds when I get home!

Christmas is quickly approaching! Love and miss you all. Have a happy week! Stay safe and warm!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

9 Dec

Hello everyone! I hope the holiday season is treating you all well. Have you had a chance yet to watch the new video the church put out, “He is the Gift”? If you haven’t, stop reading right now and go look it up on YouTube! You will not regret it, promise.

The investigators we are teaching are still doing well, but no real new progress to report on. We weren’t too sure where we stood with Adriana for a while because she wasn’t returning our calls or texts, but it turns out that she had lost her phone. Whew! She’s trying to decide right now about whether to go ahead and get baptized this Saturday, or wait until she is home in California to do it. Her dad and uncle are both active members, and they naturally really want to be there when she gets baptized. We told her that the choice was totally hers, and we actually feel that doing it down in California with her family might be best and make it special for her. We shall see!

Karen still hasn’t set a date, but we also dropped the ball on talking to her about it this week… oops! We taught her about prophets again this week, and she seemed to have a much better understanding by the end. Mary and Jessica, who were baptized two weeks ago, are still doing well. The ward mission leader in 4th ward picks them up for church every week, which is awesome. One of the less-actives that we are working with in 4th ward, Becky, received a priesthood blessing this week. It was so great!

The first part of the week was a little hectic with trying to prepare everything for the Christmas Zone Conference on Thursday and our event on campus on Friday. Here are my helpful hints that I learned this week:
1) If you ever think it’s a good idea to rehearse a musical number over Skype… it isn’t.
2) If you ever think it’s a good idea to volunteer to host 6 other sister missionaries for a night… it isn’t.
3) If you ever think it’s a good idea to share one bathroom with those 6 sister missionaries… it isn’t.
4) If you ever think it’s a good idea to individually cut out over a hundred paper ornaments… it isn’t.
5) If you ever think it’s a good idea to schedule four lessons back to back with no allowance for driving time… it isn’t.
6) If you ever think it’s a good idea to do ALL of the above things in one day… it isn’t!!!

It all worked out though thankfully! Wednesday night before zone conference, Sister Randall slept in a teepee that the our host family set up in the living room (it’s been a lifelong dream of her’s to sleep in a teepee, bahaha), and I slept on the couch. We left Missoula Thursday morning around 5:30am so that we could arrive in Helena on time for the Christmas Zone Conference. The meeting was so wonderful! Music was a huge part of it. I was the resident pianist for most of it too. I played during the choir sectional practice, played for one of the actual choir pieces, played for a musical number, and played for a congregational hymn. Whew! I really enjoyed it though, and it definitely helped me feel the Spirit.

Missoula Zone!

Missoula Zone!

Another highlight of the conference was the picture slide show. They had us all submit “Book of Mormoning” pictures which they showed first, and then they showed all the childhood Christmas pictures for each missionary. I really enjoyed it this year in particular because I finally know a decent number of missionaries! During the lunch hour, I got to see a bunch of friends that I hadn’t seen in a while. We also got to read the letters from our families- thank you all so much! I was really touched reading each of your testimonies.

Cocoa the Campus activity

Cocoa the Campus activity

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On Friday, we did our “cocoa the campus” event by the Griz statue outside on campus. We had free hot chocolate that we were handing out, and we also had people write on a paper ornament what Christmas meant to them and hang it on a Christmas tree. It was a great success! The snow was the perfect type for snowmen, so the elders built one during the event and put it by the Christmas tree. There were also other snow sculptures on the oval by students that were pretty impressive! My favorite was the massive Jabba the Hut that someone made. We did more Facebook exchanges this week too, and those all went well. I’m woefully behind on submitting my paperwork for them all… oh well. I much prefer the “ministering” part (working with people) of being a missionary to the “administration” part (aka paperwork and numbers). We had another stake conference this past weekend, because they called a new Stake President. Elder Fallabella from the Seventy came and spoke, and it was great. We also met the new counselor in the Mission Presidency, so that was cool. Poor Sister Randall has been sick since Thursday with a cold. My immune system is still holding up strong, so hopefully I don’t catch it.

Well, that’s about it for this week! I hope you all are enjoying this Christmas season. Stay warm and safe! I love you!!!

On the First Day of Christmas…

2 Dec

Happy December 1st! It’s amazing how the months are zipping by. Christmas is just around the corner! Here’s your weekly weather update from Missoula- it’s COLD! It could be so much worse of course, so no complaints, but still it’s been a bit chilly this week. We’ve gotten a few inches of snow again and this time it’s sticking around. People have begun hanging up their Christmas lights and garlands, and they are beautiful with a frosting of snow on top.

First snowman of the season!

First snowman of the season!

I think I’ll start today with my best story. On Wednesday, we got a text message during District Meeting from our investigator Karen. She asked if we could call her later, or come by her work because she had something exciting to tell us. She told us that she’s been pondering a lot on our question from a few weeks ago about what is holding her back. She’s been trying to figure it out, and that morning she realized that she was holding on to old dreams and old plans… and that she needed to let go and let God direct her life. And that means being baptized! I still can just not stop smiling about it! She truly received her own witness through the Holy Ghost. We are going to set a baptism date with her tomorrow during her lesson, and hopefully it will be soon! I still feel very strongly that Karen is one of the top reasons I am serving here in Missoula.

This week Sister Randall and I started our Facebook exchanges with the missionaries in the zone- they are going well! During a Facebook exchange, we first go over the Facebook standards and make sure their account is up to speed with the mission rules. Then we talk about online tracting and how to make it effective. We do a role-play with each of them via Facebook chat which is pretty fun. Then we finish up and talk about what to post, ward pages, etc. We want our zone to be the leader in Facebook! After each of the exchanges, the missionaries seemed pretty excited to try it all out, which was nice. We gave a short presentation on Facebook during District Meeting as well.

Our district holding the new "He is the Gift" cards.

Our district holding the new “He is the Gift” cards.

Switching subjects now, I also gave a discussion and role-play on Baptism Calendars. A baptism calendar is basically a calendar that you fill out with investigators where you schedule out all the lessons and such leading up to their baptism date. One of the main reasons I realized that missionaries don’t use them is that they’re not sure how to make it in the first place. To help with that, I made a template baptism calendar, and it turned out awesome, not gonna lie.:) I really have a testimony that baptism calendars work and that they are inspired!

I’ll tell a quick story that’s not even mine, but it’s hilarious. So the elders that we share our area with told us on Tuesday about how they got hit by a deer. Yes, hit BY a deer. They were stopped at a stop sign waiting to turn, and they saw a deer jump out in front of a huge truck driving down the road. The truck hit the deer, and the deer goes flying and slides on the ice into the back wheel and side of their car. The truck doesn’t bother to stop, so the elders call the Wildlife and Game people and wait around for them to pick up the deer. A few minutes later, some ladies pull up and ask the elders if they can have the deer, and asked them to help them put it directly on the seat of their mini-van. The elders were like, “Ummm, no, we already called someone about it”. The lady said, “Well if they don’t come get it, you call us” and handed them her number. Oh, Montanans… don’t they realize that stuff like this isn’t normal?? Haha.

Our Thanksgiving was pretty relaxing and fairly uneventful. We didn’t end up making our pajama pants because we realized that it was going to be a much bigger project than we originally thought. We ate lots of yummy food though. Friday through Saturday, we had exchanges with our Sister Training Leaders. I went to 5th ward with Sister Martin again, and it was awesome! We had some really good experiences that night teaching together, and I even got some YSA referrals. On Saturday, the YSA ward had a baptism! The 1st ward elders had been teaching a guy named Robert, and they transferred him over to the elders instead of us, which was weird because the elders primarily take 4th ward and we primarily take YSA ward. (It’s actually a huge struggle to get missionaries to turn over YSA people to the YSA missionaries… kinda frustrating). Robert had a beautiful baptism, and his confirmation on Sunday was great.

One last story- the Spirit truly does warn us of danger! When we left our dinner appointment on Saturday, I could tell that the roads were going to be icy and bad. As we were driving, I felt strongly that I needed to slow down even more. I took the entire road at about 15mph. As we approached a bend, the car in the oncoming lane (who wasn’t even driving that fast) hit some ice and did two complete 360’s. Thankfully everyone was alright and they didn’t hit anyone or go off the road. I received a strong witness that my companion and I had been protected. Needless to say, we took it pretty slow driving around that evening.

I feel like I am forgetting at least half a dozen things… oh well! We have our Christmas zone conference coming up on Thursday down in Helena- I am so looking forward to it! Love you all so much, and have a great week!!