Monday, January 26, 2015

Exchanges and Miracles

This week was insane!!!! We had 3 exchanges in a row again. It was crazy. Plus, all the sisters decided to break down and struggle this week. But its okay. I feel super honored to be able to help these sisters grow. The Lord is truly using me as his instrument.

Couple of amazing things this week!!! First off, our baptism is all good to go Saturday!!!! I'm so stoked. To be honest, we have set this date with our investigator before but she totally dropped it and shes dropped a date before that, so I really didn't think she would get baptized. But we set the date for January 31 and when we went back afterwards, she was like "ehhh Im still praying about it." But we went forward and planned it all. Then we had a lesson last night and she was soooooo stoked for her baptism!!! She said she was a little nervous but really excited. She even planned more stuff for her baptism. We also went over the interview questions and she did great!!! She has been ready all along she was just a little scared and needed a little push!

Another miracle, Wednesday came around and we were on exchanges and we still hadn't found any new investigators for the week! Well, we were frantically contacting potentials and formers but we couldn't get ahold of anyone. Well ,when we were contacting a potential, we saw this woman standing outside and we went and talked to her (mind you we had like 5 min before out next apt). We talked to her about the Book of Mormon and about families and we asked her if we could come share more and she said yes! 

That is something I really feel like my eyes have been opened to lately. I have realized that Heavenly Father is so mindful of us and our prayers. Even with the smallest of concerns or worries, the Lord helps us. He answers in the smallest of ways, but we only see those answers if we are looking. His hand is ever present in our lives and we can see it if we look. I know the Lord answers my prayers daily and loves each of us so much! How many more witnesses do we need of His love.

#ZONE CONF so hard...

This week was Zone Conference. It was seriously sooooo stellar. I can't believe it was my last one. It definitely felt unreal. 

This week was stellar. We had #zoneconf and 3 exchanges. So we are definitely tired. But what's so amazing is that the Lord is picking us up and carrying us to accomplish more than we ever could on our own. I'm so weak and human and it's amazing to see how this work carries on despite that. I feel so blessed and honored to serve such wonderful sisters. Their spirit and examples helps me change and grow.

We worked hard this week though! We taught lots of lessons and found lots of new investigators! This area so awesome! This week we started teaching 2 more Part-Member families. It seriously was the most genius idea to start holding Family Nights for these families because they love it and they can definitely see a difference in their home. Actually, the mom of one of the families came up to us at church at asked us to teach her son. She told us that she wanted us to teach her son and that she thinks hes ready to be baptized. SO AWESOME. So we went over and taught him! 

We also finally set a date for our investigator for January 31!! She's dropped her previous dates, but we have faith she will make it this time!
So Conference was for sure my highlight. The focus was on the new goal we set for the year, 453. So quick story. We come up with this goal at our Leadership Council at the beginning of the transfer. We were discussing this new goal, at our mission President decided that 450 was probably the most likely goal we could reach. But the rest of us were all like noooo that doesnt feel right. Then an Elder raised his hand and said "This may sound weird but in Alma 45:3 'And Helaman said unto him; Yea, I believe.'" In that moment, we all knew that was the goal for the year. There was no discussion or argument about it. It was such a neat experience to feel the spirit testify to us of this goal. So we tied this into our training we had to give. We told the story of the Anti Nephi Lehies and committed everyone to "bury a weapon" that would hold them back from reaching this goal. The spirit was so strong and everyone told us they loved it. I just want to reflect on the story of the Anti Nephi Lehies though. The greatest thing I have learned from this story is that there is always something standing between me and God, so what weapon am I holding onto that I can bury that will bring my closer to Him? I know this a daily process and reflection I need to have because I am far from perfect. Everyday we need to try to get closer and closer to our Heavenly Father.

"When the Cold of Winter Comes..."

For those of you who aren't as dweeby as me, the subject title is from the theme song from the Lord of the Rings. You're welcome. But seriously, it's soooooo cold here! 

I LOVE MY COMPANION. Sis. Oberfield is so wonderful and exactly what I needed this transfer. I really love her a ton!

This week was nuts! Because there were no holidays, no meetings, and only one exchange, we were able to work super hard in our area. It was awesome and we saw some serious miracles! One of them being this awesome new investigator. Our appts cancelled last week so we were contacting some potentials. One of the woman we contacted opened up the door and we asked her about her Christmas. She said it was tough because her sister died. So we talked a little about the Plan Of Salvation and set up a return appt. But as we were leaving she told us that she was Methodist and not interested in converting but was totally willing to listen. Well we went back this week and as we were getting to know her she told us that one of her main beliefs was continuous revelation. Then as we kept talking she was like "I just love genealogy, I feel like its a special calling to me." And then she was said " Oh I've been so excited to have you guys come all week. Recently I found some members in my family history that were at Hans Mill." We were freaking out at how prepared this woman was. We were able to testify that we want to take the things that she already knows/believes and add to them which will bring her greater peace and direction in her life. It was amazing. After that, she was totally willing to take the lessons! It was amazing to see how prepared she was.

Also, yesterday we had like a #mesagirlsprob They cancelled church after sacrament meeting due to warnings of freezing rain but it didn't even happen. It was so weird. Anyway, we still had our PM family that we are teaching come to church again!! This is the 3rd week in a row that have come to church and their mom (who is the member) didn't come again. We hope to set a date soon and get those kids baptized.

Oh my goodness to day I had the best studies! I read the talk from Priesthood session last Conference, "Guided Safely Home" by Pres. Monson. I loved the analogy he made about us being ships and how we need the direction provided by the rudder to guide us safely to the port. Pres Monson promises us in the talk that if we are on the path to going "home" we will be protected. It really made me think about my life. And I realized that when we are keeping the commandments and doing whats right, we wont be exempt from lifes "storms" but we will have the necessary tools and gear to keep us protected and to help us move forward. If we want to be safe and return "home" we must keep the commandments!

2015 Already?!

I am in complete disbelief at how quickly the time has gone. I can't believe its already 2015 and I can't believe how much things have changed! But I know change is good and change is what the Lord intends for us so we can grow. It still gives me anxiety though!

This week was crazy! I got my new companion! Her name is Sis. Oberfield. I Love her a ton!!! She's soooo great. She's from Mesa, AZ so we talk about mesa girl in Illinois probz, like the lack of Mexican food and the cold weather. We really get along though and its fun to see how many of the same places and people we know.

Crazy NY Eve Miracle!! We lost contact with this super awesome investigator. We picked up her husband too but they both dropped our appt. Well when we were grocery shopping the day Sis Oberfield got here, we saw her at the Walmart!! We were so stoked! So we set up an apt to see her this week.

Yesterday was amazing too! We challenged this PM family earlier this week to come to church every Sunday in January and then we will hold family night for them every Saturday night! Well, the kids totally came to church yesterday without their mom too! MIRACLE!

This week I also was able to go to a baptism for a family I taught in my 3rd area. They are a Part-Member family and they hadn't been taught in a couple years and the Elders had had no success in getting in. Well,
they came to a ward picnic and I just talked to them and asked them if we could come over and get to know them better. Then when we started going over them I asked if we could teach the girls and help them get baptized and they said yes! And they were baptized on Saturday! It was so wonderful to see the seed that we planted grow into a tree! The dad even told me "This is all because of your hard work." There is nothing more rewarding in this life than missionary work! How lucky am I that I get to wake up every morning and serve the Lord!

Carle Baptism

Companion for a Day...Sister Turley!

Caroline's YW leader, Anne Marie Turley, who is from St. Louis, visited Caroline over Christmas.  She got to be Caroline's companion for a few hours.

Anne Marie took these photos so we could see Caroline's apartment. Thank you, Annie!

Fun with the Missionaries...Goodbye, Firestone!

BailFire Without the Fire

It happened! My companion, Sis Firestone went home to Utah today. I will really, truly miss my best friend. But it's okay I will see her soon enough!

For now, I am in a trio with some sisters in an area near us. I get my new companion, Sis. Oberfield, on Wednesday! She's from Arizona so she is sooo going to prep me to return to the AZ.

This week was soooo phenomenal!!! I couldn't ask for another way to end the transfer.  I will start with Christmas Eve. Sis Firestone had this super great idea to as a Less active to make cookies and write Christmas cards and then we would deliver them to a nursing home. So, Christmas Eve we stopped by a nursing home and gave each of the residents cookies and a Christmas card. One of the little old ladies said to us, "You will have such a blessed Christmas because you are blessing so many others." It was sooo sweet. It felt amazing to be able to do pure, Christ-like service for people we didn't even know.

Christmas, we went to a members home and watch movies and Skyped our families! It was so great to be able to talk to my fam. I just can't even handle how much they have grown and changed. I'm not even sure I will fit in anymore because of how awesome they have become. We also got to watch Frozen. It was super fun! A great Christmas indeed!

So now for the miracles. We had a lesson with our investigators and in our last lesson, we invited them to pray individually and as a family. Well to preface, neither of them were raised with religion and both of them had never really prayed before. So we taught them how to pray and committed them to do it. Well, we had lunch at their house and for another lesson. As we got started, the husband said told us "Having you in my house has changed us and changed the feeling here." H
e also told us that they both had been praying all week and everything worked out this week. The husband even told us that one time when he was praying he has a super uncomfortable weird feeling he never had before, but he liked it, and then he started crying. We were shocked. It was wonderful to see a testimony beginning to grow within them and to promise them that that was the spirit was working with them! It was amazing. Our calling as missionaries is marvelous and we have a certain power and spirit within us that nobody else does. It was amazing too see that that day.

Also, on Sunday, we had a baptism!!!!! Our investigator Edwin got baptized! He was soooo stoked and soooo happy. When he came up out of the water he was beaming and just held his hands to his hand. Its been wonderful to see his journey and his transformation! We are soooo lucky to have the job of  teaching the fullness of the gospel!!

A Festivus for the Rest of Us!

This week was soooo stellar! Luckily we only had one exchange so I got to spend most of the week with my beloved Firestone!

First item of good news! Our investigator passed his interview yesterday and will be baptized this Sunday!! What a great way to end the year and the transfer!

Again we had just a greaaat week! I had a really good friend that went home recently and that served here and recommended that we go visit a former investigator that she taught while she was here. So, while we were trying to find her apartment, we were talking to some people and this girl grabs us and says she knows someone who needs Jesus. Well, when we got to this other woman's apartment we were talking to them both when we realized the girl that grabbed us was super drunk.  Well, I definitely haven't had that happen to me on my mission before. We skidaddled out of there real quickly though. Anyway, we found the former investigator and she is wonderful! She told us she still really wants to get baptized because she knows the church is true, but her work schedule got in the way! We are going back this week to teach her and we picked up her son's friend has an investigator too. I love how the Lord has just placed people in our paths.

I played my cello at our Relief Society party. It was great! But my major spiritually highlight came from the party. They had a member of the temple Presidency speak at our Relief Society party and it was sooo great. They talked all about the temple and its importance in our lives and how it needs to be the center of our lives all year round. She said something that really stood out to me, she said that the temple is the one place we can really get to know the Savior. Later that week, I was studying something my dad sent me and it said that when Christ tells us to be perfect like our Father in Heaven is perfect that he is stating the extent of our potential. The Lord wouldn't tell us to be perfect if we didn't have the capability to do so. The Lord would not set us up to fail. He knows our potential and our potential is to become like our Heavenly Father. I related this to the importance of temple worship. Some people think temple worship is weird and they don't understand why we dedicate so much time to doing it but there is no other way for us to reach our potential than by attending the temple. I love the temple so much and it is such a significant blessing in my life!

An Almost No Show Baptism

It's been a SUPER crazy week. To start off, let me explain this title. I GOT TO GO TO A BAPTISM IN MY LAST AREA! I can't explain the joy I had to be able to go!! I died at being able to see everyone I love so much! Plus, 2 of some of my best friends came and picked me up! So for background info: When I was in Parkway (my 3rd area) we tracted into this guy who said we were an answer to his prayers. We taught him while I was there and then when I got moved to the St Louis YSA, the sisters gave him to us. We taught him for a bit but then we dropped him because he just wasn't serious about what we were teaching and wasn't progressing. For the next month he came to church every Sunday! Finally, we started teaching him again and he had a complete turn around. He dropped all of his bad habits and was humble and ready to be baptized. We set the date and he was baptized yesterday!!! It was so great to see his transformation!

Well, the funniest part of this story is that his baptism was at 2. Well 2:30 rolled around and he hadn't shown up. The sisters tried to call him and call him and nothing. Well they went to Plan B and had the program anyways. But I knew there was something more that could be done. So I took the phone and went into the hall and called him and called a bunch of Parkway people and the missionaries to go check on him. No more then 10 min later he called me back! He had had left out of town the day before and just got back. So he rushed from the airport and we had the baptism! 

Anyway, now for the week! It was sooo great and soo tough. We went on 3 exchanges this week and drove a total of 12 hrs for them. Man I was so tired of driving. But Sis. Firestone was gone all week so it was just me working the area. It was tough and I was stressed but the Lord picked me up and kept me going and we saw so many miracles. For example, we went to a meeting with the Relief Society Presidency and they ended shorter then we expected so we had 30 min to kill. Well we went and contacted formers before our next meeting and we picked up 2 new investigators!! This is miraculous because we had no idea how we would reach our goals because of all of our meetings and driving and stuff. But we did it! Just shows you that this is the Lord'
s work and we are merely his instruments!

So study insight this week! I love the words of Isaiah! One of my favorite scriptures in the world is quoted in 1 Nephi 21:15-16. Its says "can a Woman forget her sucking child?...Yet I will not forget thee...for I have graven thee upon the Palms of my hands." I love this scripture! Its is the best reminder to me that the savior will never forget his children for we are engraven upon is hands. He has a testament to us that He loves us so much and will never leave us alone or comfortless. I have such a powerful testimony of Jesus Christ especially this Christmas. I know He is our Savior and Redeemer and that he loves each one of us so much!

Exchanges, Exchanges, Exchanges and Exhaustion

This week Sis Firestone and I went on 4 EXCHANGES!! Needless to say when we finally got back together on Saturday we were exhausted, emotionally and physically. Plus, we super missed each other.

As for our week it was great! For the first half of the week I was on exchanges in the sisters areas and then the second half of the week I stayed here on exchanges. There are so many things I didn't realize with this calling. One of them being how important we are to the sisters. We give them the opportunity to open up to us and for us to help them and advise them in their areas and in their companionship. It's an honor really. I feel like I wasn't expecting to be so emotionally exhausted but Im grateful the Lord ahs given me this wonderful opportunity to serve and grow.

What's so amazing about this calling as well is how much the Lord makes up the difference for us. Because we go on so many exchanges and have to do so much travelling to exchange, we have limited time to actually work our area. But, the Lord helped us tremendously and totally helped us reach our goals. It's miraculous to see how much the Lord makes up for our weaknesses.

One miracle that happened this week is that we finally got in contact with our investigator who lives with members. As I was getting to know her, she said she's been reading everyday and going to church every week and admitted that she knew that this is Christ's Church. And I asked her why she wasn't baptized and she said she was scared to make a serious decision without knowing everything. I was able to testify to her of the blessings of baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost! It was great! And now she's praying to see if she should be baptized on Dec 27th!

I also had the BEST studies ever this week. I have been trying to read the Book Of Mormon again with the institute manual and I am receiving sooo much revelation its nuts. So I was reading this week about Nephi breaking his bow. In the manual, it talks about  how sometimes it doesn't matter how obedient we are or how righteously we are living trials will still come. But, when they come, it is because the Lord sees it fit for us to continue growing! So when hard times come its not because we are being punished, it is to help us along our path back to our Heavenly Father!

BailFire on the Daily

BailFire is mine and Sis. Firestone's nickname. We answer the phone like that sometimes and its pretty funny. It feels so good to be back with my best friend! Plus, I get to work with a really good friend that I served with this time a year ago! The Lord is blessing me especially because of the withdrawals I am having of St. Louis.

This week just flew by! I cannot even believe it! We had Pres. Interviews Tuesday, a Zone Meeting in Cape Girardeau (which is 3 hrs away so we had to drive 6 hrs that day :/) and then Thanksgiving! I did not expect my life to get this busy!

First, I will update you on my thanksgiving! We went to 2 members homes and it was super fun! It was fun to just celebrate the holiday and relax. No worries though, we paced ourselves so we wouldn't blow up by the end of the night! It was a super fun day that passed by too quickly.

This week was tough. We didn't reach our goals and I seriously feel like we tried sooo hard. But we struckout at every house we went too. It was nuts. Well, I was getting pretty discouraged especially because we fasted on Sunday as a District to see miracles and for our goals and all the other missionaries saw miracles besides us.  As I was reflecting on this, I was thinking to myself, this is why I don't have a testimony of fasting. And then I totally had some far out revelation about the whole thing. I realized that although we didn't reach our goals or see any marvelous miracles, Heavenly Father gave me so many opportunities to bear a powerful testimony this week of our Savior. As many of you have heard, the Church has come out with a Christmas initiative and has put up this new video called "He is the Gift." With the intiative, the church has provided missionaries with 300 specialty pass-along xmas cards to pass out and give to members nad nonmembers and have encouraged us to focus on this new video and on the Savior. As we have participated in this initiative this week I have seen miracles within myself. I have new testimony of fasting because I have seen that through fasting, Heavenly Father gave me the spiritual strength to continue moving forward and to take every opportunity to bear my testimony of the savior!

What a marvelous time it is to be a member of the church! To see gospel roll forward throughout the earth! I am sooo grateful that I get to assist in this work at this time! I have seen that as I have come closer to my Savior that he has helped me sooo much. And how wonderful it is that we get to go around testifying of him and His love! Ah the church is true.

Good Ole Illinois

I'm super excited to be serving in IL because I have served in Indiana and MO but never Illinois. I will have served in 3 states on my mish. Its back to hickville everybody. I have been serving in the city for the last 9 months so this has been quite the adjustment. 

This was was really hard and really wonderful. I didn't realize that leaving my last area would be one of the hardest things I would ever do in my life. It was like leaving home again. Tears were definitely shed. My branch Pres and his wife couldn't hide the tears and neither could I.  They both said the kindest and most encouraging words ever. They have definitely touched my life for the better. Little do people realize the impact they have on missionaries. The people in the YSA saw what I could become and encouraged me and helped me work towards my potential. The Lord has soooo much in store for us and we don't even know it!

But this are has been great so far! I'm only barely realizing how busy and crazy the life of an Sister Training Leader is. Our schedule is full of planning, meetings and exchanges. We already had a 6 hr meeting Friday to discuss the needs of the mission and the upcoming transfer! It was so great to be apart of the bigger picture. The Lord is definitely qualifying me but I feel so honored. Plus, I'm with my best friend Sister Firestone again so the universe is great. 

So miracle. As leaders in the mission, we are expected to reach our goals every week in our numbers! But with transfers and MLC we didn't have a lot of time to meet with people. But the Lord is marvelous and works miracles. One in specific, we saw this PM/LA family that we teach Sat and invited them to church Sunday and they totally came! Sister Firestone said they haven't come at all since she's been here! We also set a baptismal date for Dec 28! Miracles are being wrought folks!

Sister Training Leader

Saturday morning we had a Relief Society activity. It was soooo fun and I felt so cute and domestic. We made jam, cards, and crafts! In the middle lunch, which was post activity, our phone starts ringing and its Pres Morgan, the mission Pres. He called and asked if I had a few minutes to talk privately. He asked me about the area and if I thought Sis Sperry was capable of running the area and he asked if I sustained him as my mission Pres.  I told him she was more than capable and that of course I did. He then extended me a calling to be a Sister Training Leader. And to briefly explain what that is, its like a girl version of a Zone Leader. We go on exchanges, give trainings, and try to help and support the sisters. I'm excited and nervous. This of course meant I was leaving but Pres wouldn't give my any other info. So the day progressed and it was sad because I really really don't want to leave this area. But that night we got transfers calls and Sis Sperry is training and I get to go to Illinois and be companions with Sis. Firestone (aka my best friend) again!!!!! The Lord knew that leaving this area would be so hard so he placed me in Illinois (because I have never served there before) and with my best friend. I don't know what I did but the Lord is so good to me! And to add a cherry on top, it was my good friend Kerry's baptism that day!!!! My parents were able to go and said it was wonderful! 

I'm so thankful for all of you and your support and love. I'm extremely grateful for my experiences in the YSA these past several months. It has changed me and shaped me. I'm grateful for the experiences I have been able to have and the wonderful people I have been able to to serve with. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a leader and serve some amazing sisters. And I am soooooo grateful to my Heavenly Father for allowing me to serve a mission. I cannot express how much I have loved this opportunity and how much it has changed me.

Parents Got to Attend Kerry's Baptism!

From and Email Robin wrote to Brother Matthew Garbero, ward mission leader:

Attending Kerry's baptism was an amazing experience!  We feel so blessed to have been there.  The meeting was full of dozens of YSA from Kerry's UCLA ward, many non-members and Kerry's St. Louis friends who came down from BYU.  Kerry bore a powerful testimony and the Spirit was so strong.  He is a special young man and has a great support system there. 
I will attach a couple of photos here.  You'll recognize some of the outstanding young people from your area in the other photo!  It was so fun to meet the kids that went with Caroline (Sister Bailey) when she taught Kerry.

Thank you so much for letting us know about the baptism.  It was a privilege to be there.

All Things Will Be Made Right Through the Gospel

So I have sad news. We met with our investigator who was supposed to be baptized this weekend and things have gone downhill tremendously. Our lesson was super sour. He told us he wanted to push back the date and then he didn't show up to anything this weekend. We had dinner with a member then a bonfire as a branch and church the next day and he didn't show up. And he's not answering anyones texts. But its okay. Agency is real. I've never dropped a baptismal date before so this was really hard for me, but I realize that sometimes things happen and Satan is working so hard to stop this work. All we can do is put "our heads down, square our shoulders, and think positively." (Elder Holland). 

So we set a goal to have a baptism on Nov. 15 and we are super sad that it won't happen, but I really feel like the Lord fulfilled this goal in other ways. For example, yesterday, a less active whom we are working with came to church yesterday and received a calling! My favorite thing ever!  And another less active whom we have been working with this last month bore a powerful testimony during sacrament meeting. He said that "if anyone told me a month ago that I would have born my testimony during church, let alone be active, I would have laughed at them. But now that Ive been going to church, I know that this is where I need to be and this is how I can be happy!" It was like the Lord was saying, "hey I know you are super bummed, but look at this life that has been changed that you were able to witness." He got very emotional during his testimony and so did I.
And the crowning event!!! This Saturday, someone I taught in my last area will be getting baptized. This is some back ground on his story. His name is Kerry. He was referred to me and Sis. Nordstrom by a member in my last ward. We started teaching him in July. He read the Book of Mormon over a year ago but read some Anti-mormon literature and was no longer interested. Well we met with him and in our first meeting, he kept a laptop open between us and him and was super guarded. He brought up a lot of anti material. We talked to him a lot about faith and the blessings of the gospel. He loved the view of families our church has. Over time, the laptop got put away, and he no longer brought up anti material. We taught him for 6 weeks before I got transferred and he moved to Indiana with his family. By the time I left though, we had a lesson at the temple and another lesson with a RC and he said he knew that it was all true. He just wasnt quite ready to be baptized. Well He was moving to Indiana and would be there for a month before he went back to UCLA for school. I knew that his progress would be severely hindered with new missionaries in Indiana (especially because we had made so much progress with him and we were all really close) or he may not visit with missionaries at all. I just really felt prompted that we had to keep the ball rolling by skyping him lessons while he was in Indiana and pass him off officially to missionaries in CA. About 3 weeks before Kerry was supposed to move, I asked the ZL's and they shot me down sooo fast. They wouldn't even listen to me. So I told our Ward Mission Leader and he said if we had 3 more lessons with him, got him to come to church, and committed him to baptism, then he would call the Mission Pres and get special permission (he is bff's with the mission Pres). So that's what we did. In 3 weeks we accomplished all of that. By the end of those 3 weeks, He was so ready to get baptized. I got transferred and the sisters skyped him and now he will be getting baptized this Saturday!! What a miracle that I get to be apart of and have been able to witness. Moral of the story is dont give up on promptings from the spirit especially if people tell you you are crazy. Second, Lord will make up all things.

I have realized this last week amidst all the disappointments and hard things that this is the time when I need to rely most on the Lord. This is His work and it is according to His will that all these things are possible. When I feel like I have no energy or strength or patience left, it is the Savior in which I need to turn to and it is through him that I can receive the strength to carry on. We are on the Lord's errand so we are entitled to His help.

Fall is Here to Stay!

The weather has officially turned colder and fall is here my friends. The colors are gorgeous and it is November! I cannot believe it. I am still; in denial still because I am refusing to wear boots, tights, a scarf and a jacket. No way my friends. I am going to wait til dire circumstances.
To answer all of your questions, for Halloween we had to have cars parked by 5 so our Branch Pres wife picked us up and took us to their house for dinner and to pass out candy to trick or treaters. We had a Halloween themed dinner with "monkey brains" (according to our Branch Pres, it was meatloaf) made inside of a pumpkin! It was so fun!!! Best Halloween I've ever had. 

This week we faced some serious challenges. Our investigators have taken some setbacks, but it's okay. If I have learned anything these past 15 months (yes, I hit 15 monthsFriday) it's that all we can do is push through and remain positive. So that's we did and when I reflect on the week we still saw many many miracles!

First, we picked up a former investigator from my first area. We started teaching him when we both got to the YSA but he wasn't keeping commitments and wasn't showing that much real intent. Despite us dropping him, he's come to church several times. So we decided to visit him. And let me tell ya I've seen a definite change in him. He was so humble and submissive. He told us that when he misses church that his weeks are tough and that he sees the importance of reading and church. And he told us that he wants to get baptized as soon as he can! Talk about miraculous!! It was remarkable to see such a change in him. This is definitely the Lord's work and he prepares the hearts of the children of men to receive the message of the restored gospel! We hope to set a date soon!

We also met with this less active whos in the Coast Guard! He showed us his boat on the Mississippi! It was sooo LEGIT. Afterwards, we talked about Alma 5:26 which says "if youve felt the song of redeeming love, I ask can you feel so now?" It was great and really narrowed in on conversion. Well, we committed him to come to stake conference on Sunday and he totally did!! We are seeing him this week. We also had 2 other less actives come to stake conference too! If I had to say the biggest miracle of this area is that there are so many people who are read to come back!

Yesterday, our investigator who is supposed to get baptized on Nov 15 came with us to a baptism. We weren't able to meet with him this week so we met right afterwards. He still is struggling with tithing which is highly disappointing. But the member who was there shared a beautiful testimony. She talked about faith and shared the story of Peter walking on water. She said that when Peter started drowning after he walked on water the Lord immediately helped him (and this is where she took scriptural liberty) and asked "Why did you doubt? Did you not trust me that I would help you? I can do all things Peter surely I can help you walk on water." Sometimes the Lord asks us to take a step into the dark, to trust Him, to rely on Him. To have faith in Jesus Christ is not only to trust that He can help you, but that He will. I reflected on the past plus year Ive been serving a mission and realizing that I really took a step in the dark when I decided to serve. But the Lord has done so much more with me than I could have ever done by myself. I love this gospel so much and I know that this is Christs church and herein is where happiness is found!

Baptism Invitation

From Parkway 2nd Ward Mission Leader, Brother Matthew Garbero:

Each of your Missionary Daughters had the blessing of teaching a student named Kerry Xiao while he was living in the Chesterfield area.

He is now attending UCLA. The Sister Missionaries there have just texted to inform me that a baptism date has been set for Saturday, November 15th.

Since your daughters are not able to attend or participate, I thought you as parents would like to attend in their place. I know it is a great distance to travel. However, because of Kerry's temporary move to Indianapolis to help his parent's get settled in their home there, the Mission President allowed them to Skype with Kerry and prepare him well before his arrival in California. This was highly irregular but due to the circumstances, he approved. 

They were blessed to see him accept the Gospel and the invitation to be Baptized. He had to move before they could see the process come to fruition.

I know it would mean great deal to them to see you pictured with Kerry as a way to show your support for their efforts.

I will provide each of you with the address of the meetinghouse and all the details you will need. 

Each of you is coming from Redding, CA; Ogden, UT; or the Phoenix/Gilbert areain AZ so it will be a distance to travel to UCLA. I just wanted to give you the chance to meet Kerry in person and share the joy your daughters felt as they taught.

I will be in touch.

Matthew Garbero
Ward Mission Leader
Parkway 2nd Ward


The Work Goes On...

This week was a blur but all I can say is that it was wonderful. So many great things are happening here! I cant even handle it!

I first want to just express how much I love my companion! She's so great to me and I couldn't ask for anybody better! And this is why: to preface, a long time ago I told Sis. Sperry how I had a pretty awful 21 b'day (don't worry mom I'm okay). So, now fast forward, Monday, we made plans to do something with another set of sisters and they said that they got busy and couldn't meet us at our place till 3pm. We were waiting for them and writing letters at our apt when at 2:30,  we get this rapid knock. The STL's showed up and said they had a surprise for us but they had to blindfold us. They blindfolded us and took us somewhere but they told us they would make sure we would be back for the other sisters. Well, when they took off my blindfold, we were at a bowling alley with all the sisters from the zone and Sis. Sperry didn't even have one on! Sis Sperry planned a "re-b'day" 2 months after my actual b'day! She coordinated this whole secret party for me with cake and all! It was so sweet I cried!!!! And it gets a member of the Branch Presidency signed up for dinner and we met them at this fancy restaurant. Well, when we got there, the whole Branch Presidency was there and they had a b'day hat and sash and wand for me and presents! It was marvelous. I am eternally grateful to be serving with such a wonderful companion and in an area where I feel so much love. I know that if I hadnt decided to serve a mission, I would have never had these experiences and met all these amazing people! I LOVE MY MISSION! 

The work is going great! I think because we had such a great start to the week that the whole week was great! We taught great lessons, we found a new investigator, and 4 investigators came to church yesterday! It was marvelous! Plus the weather was beautiful!

We saw our investigator this week who is getting baptized Nov 15 and he has been acting super weird....At our lesson with him we asked him a million times what was wrong and he kept avoiding the question. In the lesson, we asked him how he felt about his baptism and he finally admitted he has a problem with tithing! So we taught him it and he still was uneasy. Well, he met with out Branch President yesterday for 2 hrs and came out a totally different person. We are super excited to meet with him this week and follow up with it all.

There's a saying that Sis Sperry has that I have become recently obsessed with. She says "If you always do what youve always done, you will always get what youve always gotten." I like this saying so much because it talks about the importance of change. Change is hard because we are human but it happens to us so much and its always for out benefit. I love being abelt o testify to people that we are a gospel of change and that the gospel has changed my life so much. I recounted to an investigator my experience almost 2 years ago of when I had surgery and I was able to testify to her that I couldnt have gotten through that experience without the gospel. I love the gospel so much and I love change althought its difficult! This life is all about becoming!

Bring a Friend to Church Day = Success

Yesterday, we did "Bring a Friend to Church Day," with a Linger Longer afterwards! It was a huge success! Plus, Sis. Sperry and I made adorable Halloween cupcakes (thanks, Mom!) The whole day was a huge success. Our Branch President, told us that when he looked into the audience that he saw more people he didn't recognize than ones that he did. It was awesome! Our members really stepped up. It was great too see such success. Even more wonderful is that our recent convert and some less actives really tried hard to bring friends. We are actually teaching some friends of our recent convert this week! We are stoked!

Some really amazing things happened this last week. We have been working with this less active member for a couple weeks now. He lives really close to us so Sis. Sperry went and tried to see him on exchanges but he wasnt home. Well, Sis. Sperry couldn't get his name off her mind and so we finally set up an appt with him. We told him about the YSA and he came to volleyball last week and came to church yesterday! Someone told us that he was bawling in Priesthood and last night he texted us saying "Thanks so much for inviting me. I am really happy I went." Ah miracle. My heart strings were pulled. We are bringing them back into the fold, one lil lamb at a time.
Last week I told y'all about inviting our golden investigator to be baptized on Nov 15? Well, we met with him on Sat and we decided to read 2 Nephi 31 with him! Right after we finished reading it, he said okay so you want me to get baptized? haha it was really funny. We told him we didn't want him to get baptized, the Lord wanted him too. He asked us why Nov 15 and we told him that's what date the spirit told us! And then he said "Im just kidding, thats the date I thought too!" So we committed him to be baptized November 15! WE are so excited! The Lord is preparing His children here!

Last and probably my most favorite miracle this week. So since we got here, we have been working with this LA to come back to church. He's been inactive for 5 years and now he's more active than ever. He bore his testimony last week and he spoke yesterday! He's just doing so great! He also told us that the temple is his goal too. Well, yesterday after the Linger Longer, we talked and he said he is going to drop out off Chiropractic school and go on a mission! I almost hugged him I swear! I was so ecstatic. He's 24 and going to graduate school and yet he wants to drop it all to serve the Lord. Needless to say, I told him I would write him and send him pkgs for 2 years! I was so happy!

This gospel is so true! I couldn'
t imagine anything making me happier at this time! This week in my personal study, a certain scripture struck me and has stuck with me since. It says "First, seek ye the kingdom of God, and all things shall be added unto you." When we put the Lord first, He puts us first. All things will work out for our good!

Meet the Mormons!

This week has been beyond hectic, and rainy. I swear I may need to live in AZ or California forever because rain saddens my soul.

My spiritual cup is just overflowing right now I can't even handle it. How blessed are we to be apart of a Church that believes the heavens are open and that God still speaks. I LOVE personal revelation. I have had so many opportunities to experience the spirit reveal things to me. It has been remarkable.

Funny experience this week. Tuesday we were in a tri-companionship because a sister finished her mission and went home. Well, when I woke up that morning thinking, something crazy is going to happen. Well, early that afternoon, we get a call from a RM who was walking off the plane from getting home from Brazil. She told us that she wasn't getting released til that evening and wanted to come out with us. So we went on splits. The other sisters went to our lessons and her and I went and contacted less actives. It was great! It was wonderful to hear about missionary work in Brazil. I love that this is the same message and spirit that is being spread all around the world. 88,034 my friends!!

Now I have to tell you about our investigator! AHH He's so stinking great. As our Branch President put it "He's the most active nonmember of our branch." Just to describe how awesome he is, he came to church Sunday, FHE last night, we are meeting with him tonight ,then he's going to volleyball, feeding us dinner tomorrow, going to institute Thursday, and then we are meeting with him Saturday! So, Saturday we had a lesson with him and we were going to teach the Plan of Salvation but when we got in there her told us that he studied the Restoration pamphlet and asked if we could talk about prophets and priesthood. HOW AWESOME! Once we talked about that we talked about baptism. At first, he said that he was wanting to take things slow to make sure about everything but as we kept talking he said that he was committed to this Church and that he knew that on this path, everything would work out! So, we challenged him to be baptized Nov 15 right then and there! Ah the Lord prepares these people--we just have to open our mouths.

Now for my favorite part of my whole mission. We had Mission Conference yesterday (hence my email today) and Elder Sitati of the Seventy came and spoke to us. His words were soooo inspiring. I can't pick just one thing that I loved but I received so much revelation and I feel so changed. One thing he said that struck me was "Knowing the gospel is true is the essence of testimony and being true to the gospel is the essence of conversion."  He also talked a lot about the spirit. Something that he highlighted for me is that the spirit can empower and ennable us. When we have the courage and strength to do something beyond our own abilities its because the Spirit is with us and is leading us. Now for the crowning event....we watched Meet the Mormons. When our mission president told us we were watching it, all 240 missionaries cheered in the chapel while Elder Sitati was leaving. T
he movie was wonderful! How blessed are we to be apart of this Church with such Christ-like people! The Church is true my friends!

How Blessed We Are to Have a Prophet

So we got transfer calls the other night and Sis. Sperry and I are staying another 6 weeks! I'm so stoked! We have a lot to accomplish these next 6 weeks! When I told our Branch President that we were staying, he said that if we had called him with different news he would've called the mission President right up with some choice words. It was pretty funny!

This week was spectacular! Last week we made a resolve to ourselves that we would work really, really hard and try to accomplish as much as we could! Well the Lord does provide when we have a goal! We beat member present record and we found 3 new investigators this week! Man did we work. 

One of those new investigators was a blessing in and of itself. At FHE Monday, a member brought her friend and I was on his team for our activity. Well, I got to talking with him and asked him if he was attending a church and he said no! So I asked him if hed like to learn more about ours. And he said yes!! So we went by and gave a him a Book of Mormon and set up a return appt for Saturday! Well on Saturday he told us that he went to volleyball with the Branch on Tues and that he saw they were having institute on FB and he wanted to go (even though he didn't know what it was) and he went. And he said he loved it! And then we invited him to conference second session Sunday and he came to that too! Talk about golden investigator! He says he has felt so welcomed and loved that he just wants to keep coming back! And while we were on our way to his appt, we met another potential! The Lord has blessed us so much!
Cool experience with conference. Right before the morning Sunday session with conference, we had to teach our investigator a hard commandment that we knew he wouldn't be super willing to live. We taught it to him and he took it better than we thought it did! Then he came and watched conference with us and the first 3 talks were all about commandments and obeying the prophet! It was perfect! I love that we can always bank on the words of the prophet!!

I had a really neat spiritual experience with studying this week. I was struggling with something and I decided to read Elder Holland's talk "The First Great Commandment." While I was reading the scriptural liberty he took when talking about a conversation Christ had with Peter, the Spirit overwhelmed me with the answers I needed. What stood out to me was when Elder Holland said "Why are we back here? Why are we having this same conversation?... I need disciples and I need them forever..... You cannot go back and you cannot quit." We chose God's Plan. We knew the conditions when coming to this Earth but we also know the outcome if we decide to stay on the path of discipleship. We will be led safely home, eternal life with our Heavenly Father!

A YSA Baptism!

This week was marvelous. We had our first official baptism in the YSA since they have received full time missionaries! It was so powerful and so wonderful! Baptisms always remind me of why I am here and what our purpose is as missionaries. It's wonderful to see hard work pay off. Plus, after her baptism, she came to the Women's Broadcast and she loved it. Ironically, it was all about going to the temple and making and keeping covenants! Perfect for a new member of the church!

I first want to share some highlight experiences this week! In preparation for Jaimie's baptism, we went to the temple and taught her about eternal marriage, temple ordinances, and family history work. Well, before her lesson we were at Logan College of Chiropractic for their club day and we saw this less active who goes there and he said he was done with class and had nothing to do so we invited him to the lesson at the temple. The spirit was so wonderful and they both loved it. We had a lesson afterwards with an investigator and we had no female members to come with us (because he is a male) and Jaimie and the less active said they would come. What wonderful people we get to work with! The less active told us later that he loved that and that he is making the temple a goal and he won't let anything get in his way!

We had another cool experience this week. We had a lesson with our investigator and we planned to teach him the Plan of Salvation, but we were both just not feeling it, so then we taught him a different lesson but it just was rough and he didn't seem to really be there. So, later we brought him some cookies and asked him about how he's been feeling everything. And he said that since he's been meeting with us and reading the Book of Mormon, he's had way more calls for job interviews. It was sooo great so see him connect the blessings from reading the Book of Mormon!

So yesterday was the best day ever. We sang the youth theme song "Come Unto Christ" in church, Jaimie received the Holy Ghost, she got a temple recommend to go to the temple Friday, and she got a calling! AH! SO great! Also we had a bunch of meetings with the branch yesterday and something that a member of the Branch Presidency said something that really struck me. He said "Folks, we are building Zion here, and building Zion takes work." Each one of us are building Zion. How great is this calling? We have been promised that the fulness of the Gospel will never taken from the Earth again, so we are preparing for Christ to come again! How exciting is that!

Fall, So Soon....

I can't believe how quickly the fall weather has come. It's insane. Literally, it was super hot at the beginning of the week, then by the end of the week it was 59 degrees!

So this was was INSANE. We were sooo busy. We had interviews with Pres. Morgan this week and mine went great. I asked him what to improve on and he told me time management (I'm "that guy" who runs off Mormon standard time). He told us that the AP's doubled the standard of excellence in one week for their key indicators. So, I told Pres. challenge accepted. We more than double the standard of excellence this week! The standard of excellence for member present lessons is 4 and we had 9! And we also taught 10 recent convert/less active lessons. The work is hastening here and I love that I get to be apart of it.

This week was filled with too many miracles to count, but for now I will just share one. So we have been teaching the boyfriend of a member. They are both 18 and they both just moved out here from CA to go to school. He's english and he has had a terrible experience with religion so he was actually not even receptive to us, he only met with us because his girlfriend forced him too. So, slowly but surely he has softened his heart, but like I said its been a really slow process. Well, we were at our apt on Sat doing some planning when he called us and asked if we could pick him up and bring him to a church so he could sit there and pray. This is HUGE for him because he first said he won't pray and second said he really doesn't like going to church. So we called the Branch Pres who dropped all of his plans and went and picked him up and we all met at the church. We sat in the chapel and he kept telling us that he felt sooo peaceful and so safe. He said he loved sitting there and loved the feelings that he had at the church. A question he asked us was how do I have the peace that you guys are always talking about. He said he want's it so bad but doesn't know how to obtain it. So, I read him the story of Peter walking on water towards Jesus. I told him that sometimes the world and our lives can get chaotic and that the storms will blow, but when we center our lives on Jesus Christ we can have peace. Then we talked about how peace can be obtained through the gospel of Jesus Christ and we invited him to baptized and he said yes!!!! And he agreed to shoot for Oct 25! This is the biggest miracle in itself because he wouldnt even meet with us a month ago and now hes agreed to be baptized!!! 

I felt the spirit so strongly while sitting in the chapel. One of the questions he asked us as well was what do you feel when sitting here in this chapel. And I loved our Branch Pres answer, he said "that this peaceful feeling, the spirit, I can feel it everywhere I go because I live the gospel of Jesus Christ." It was so touching to me. I cannot even begin to grasp the wonderful blessings the gospel brings me! Also, we never know who is truly prepared. 

We also attended an adult session of stake conference this week for one of the stakes we cover. I loved something that the member of the seventy said. He said that our willingness to share the gospel depends on how much we love our Heavenly Father. That really touched me! I love Heavenly Father soo much! I love being apart of this work! I know I couldn't be any happier any other way!

I Love Answered Prayers!

Wow. Another week has gone by. I was talking to Sis Sperry last night and since I only have about 4 months left on my mission I am pretty sure I will have one more area after this one. As I was reflecting on this idea, I realized that my mission literally could not get any better than right now. No other area can bring me as much happiness as this one does right now. I am so happy its probably illegal!!! :)
This week was definitely full of disappointments and success. It's crazy!!! First, at church yesterday we had 4 investigators and 5 less actives, and 2 recent converts that we invited from other areas come! We had a slew of people there because we reached out and invited them! Ah. We were running around like chickens with our heads cut off just making sure that we could make sure everyone was doing okay and knew where they needed to go! It was a HUGE blessing from our Heavenly Father.

So like I said, at the beginning of the week, it was kinda rough. All of our appts bailed. Literally. It was so sad. Last week we did so well and this week by Thursday we had only see one of our investigators. I was so bummed. It really got me down. Well, why we were driving one day, I disclosed to my companion that I was super bummed and I asked her advice about how not to get discouraged about not seeing any of our investigators. The Lord totally hears us and is concerned what we are concerned with! Because that night we received 2 phone calls both with referrals for us! And we saw both of those people this week and started teaching them! What was so miraculous about this to me is that I didn't kneel down and pray for help, but the Lord still heard me and still knew the intents of my heart. This is the Lord's work and we seriously are just His humble servants!
One of those investigators is seriously the coolest person ever! So he was a referral from the Washington Elders! Quick background: Washington, MO is like an hour from us and no on comes to the YSA from there because it's so far and we arent even allowed to go there because its so far. So we called him and invited him to church and double and triple checked that he knew it was far and was okay with it. And believe it or not, HE SHOWED UP TO CHURCH. And he loved it. And he has a baptismal date for Oct 11. God is preparing His children.
We also met this week with the sweetest less active in the world. He told us that he was inactive for 5 years because of something bad that happened in his home ward but that his brother begged him to go back to church. So he said hes starting to come back and really wants to go to the temple. Well, Sunday morning we texted everyone that we invited to church that we were super excited to see them. And this less active was someone that we texted and he totally came to church! And he told us that the reason he came was because we texted him. And he loved it. Ah, this work is so great!
A quote I heard this week from Spencer W. Kimball "Its easier to find ourselves because there is so much more of us to find." I know that this principle is sooo true when is comes to serving the Lord. I just know that this gospel brings never ending happiness unlike anything else. I couldn'

t imagine being happier doing anything else right now!