Monday, September 18, 2017

Probably in my Last Area D:

Hi Family!

I'm all settled into my new area, and I realized that it is probably the area I will "die" in.  It's a really weird feeling, but I'm glad I still have a lot of time left.  I'm in the Temple View Zone with Sister Ulziiduuren.  She is from Mongolia, and she is the sassiest person ever.  We have a lot of fun.  We cover two family wards, and so far I just love it.  I'm trying to hit the ground running, and I'm loving every minute of it.

I also live with Sister Ogawa and Sister Sattler.  Sister Sattler just came out to the mission field.  She's from Utah and we know a few of the same people.  Sister Ogawa is from Japan, and she actually served part of her mission there until her visa came.  I asked if she knew an Elder Thomas O'Reilly, and GUESS WHAT? He was her zone leader while she was visa-waiting.  I'm not sure if this email gets to any O'Reilly's, but if it does, Sister Ogawa said Thomas is very smart and a VERY good missionary.

Sister Patrick and I spent Monday and Tuesday running around trying to say goodbye to everyone.  It was bitter-sweet to think about how much I'd grown and how many people I'd met and came to love while serving in Cortina, but the good news is that if I want to go visit, it's 5 miles down the road.

Now that I'm in Temple View, I've been focusing on three goals that I'd set for myself back in Queen Creek.  I wanted to get to know and work with the youth, go out and work my hardest, and love the people.  With the new smartphones, we've had a lot of training, and I found a quote in one of the trainings that I've thought about a lot: "Your responsibility is to let people know of the Christlike love you feel for them and to teach the gospel clearly and powerfully by the Spirit".  I feel like I've been trying to do that, and it's put me in a place where God has allowed me to see even more miracles.  I feel like I've spent most of my mission thinking, "If I'm bold then I will be more loving", but I am learning that when we are loving, then we naturally become bold.

One miracle we had was finding an Easter Egg.  Sister Ulziiduuren and I were going to contact someone, and there was a man wearing scrubs holding a glass of water in his driveway staring at us.  The Spirit was like, "probably go talk to him", and I said, "Okay".  We talked to him and he pretty much told us he doesn't like any organized religions . . . except for the Jehovah's Witnesses.  As we continue to talk to him, we find out that he had been baptized into the Church, had received the Melchizedek Priesthood, and then gone less active.  As we talked to him, Sister Ulziiduuren bore her testimony of the Book of Mormon to him and invited him to read (which was not the direction I was going to go at all).  He told her that he did need to start reading, and when she gave him a copy, he said it reminded him of all the feelings he had when he was first learning about the church.  It was a touching moment.

We also met with Laura (mom), Alyra (11-year-old), and Anthonee (8-year-old).  Sister Ulziiduuren had set an appointment with them, but this was the first lesson.  They are so prepared.  The two kids both want to go to church, and Laura said that if the kids wanted to be baptized, that was okay!  We taught them the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and they were completely receptive.  It was such an amazing lesson.

I'm so excited to be in this area.  It's going to be so much fun.  I'm excited to take what I've learned from my mission and try my very best to apply it.  Teaching about Jesus Christ is the best thing ever.  I love you, Family!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ
85234

The Tates :)


The goat kept licking me


This is Sister Ulziiduuren



Monday, September 11, 2017

Where do you see a baguette in America?

 Hello Family!

Last night, Sister Patrick and I were personally called by the APs (Assistants to the President)--or as I like to say, The Elder Wilcox™--because we had crazy transfer news.  We are both leaving, meaning Cortina will be getting white-washed (two new missionaries being put in). But not only that, but one of us will be white-washing an area that is being split, and the other will be opening a brand new area.  I hit sixteen months today, so I think this will be the area I "die" in.  More news to come next week!

Last Monday was a fun adventure.  We played Ultimate Frisbee with the Bella Vista Zone (and I tried really hard to keep my loyalties to Queen Creek, but BVZ is lyfe).  One of their zone leaders is Elder Janda--the French one who says he's from French Fork because the kid knows my Utah bubble is where it's at.  I told him that every time I see a baguette I think of him and he just looked at me and said, "Where do you see a baguette in America?"  I'm really glad Elder Janda knows to ask the real questions (if you are wanting the answer, I see them on Mondays at Walmart and anytime we get to go to Kneaders).

Later that day, I got to eat lunch with the Richards.  It was so fun to talk to them.  Sister Richards might have slipped up and called me Emily.  I guess you don't know how weird it is to hear your name until you haven't heard it for 16 months.

We went on splits with a YSA named Brinley again.  She's been pondering going on a mission, and this week, she told us that she is going!!  I'm so excited.  It's been fun to get to know her and be here through the experience of her first going on splits to deciding she's going to serve a mission herself.

Oh, and I did get taken hostage this week.  I should probably mention that . . . but it was by one of our bishops and it all worked out well.  There was a thick dust storm, so Sister Patrick and I ran for cover at Bishop Potter's house.  He let us in, and we thought we could be effective with our time and correlate.  Nope.  Bishop told us, "We can correlate anytime! Let's play a game", calls all his children in, and proceeds to have us play multiple rounds of Sleeping Queens and Exploding Kittens.  And we were not permitted to leave because of dust storm.  It was fun and we got to know the Potters better, and hey, now I can say I've been taken hostage.  We also got to share a message with his son who is fellowshipping another boy in the neighborhood.  We showed him the video "Reach Out With Love", and it was cool to just feel the Spirit there.  We were able to tell the Potter boy just how much Heavenly Father loves and trusts him, and I think it was a really good moment for both us and the Potters.

Eventually, the dust storm did clear and we went on our merry way.  We were going to go to a less active members home because it was 8:30 at night, but on the way, we saw a referral pull into their garage.  We have never been able to contact them because there is a locked gate before we can get to their front door, so I went for it (and probably gave Sister Patrick another heart attack for cutting her off on my bike).  They sat in their car for a while and just didn't get out, but I felt like we really needed to just stand there (righteous power struggle, perhaps?). So we did until they got out of the car.  They said hi quickly and like they were trying to brush us off so they could get in and said, "No, there's nothing we need you to do or want you to do," and I don't even know how it happened, but somehow, we got talking to them.  We ended up in a really good conversation.  I found out later that they are very anti-Mormon, but at least they like us!  The wife dubbed herself as my mother and told me I needed to get inside because it was dark, and she ended up giving me and Sister Patrick each a hug before we left.

I've been learning about relying on the Atonement of Jesus Christ (again).  It seems to be a lesson that God is trying to teach me and I'm just not very good at picking up on it.  I had the chance to read a talk I really like called "Becoming Perfect in Christ", which taught me a lot, but then just to make sure I got the message, there were talks about it in Stake Conference, too.  I really liked what one young woman said.  "[During the Atonement] Christ didn't lessen His pain; He enlarged His ability to feel it".  I think when I get stressed or upset or whatever it may be, I try to shrink away from the problem.  I try to minimize it myself.  But I think that when we open ourselves and enlarge our ability to feel it, that is how we can allow Christ's Atonement to help us.  He never shoved our pains under the rug, and He doesn't expect us to either.  He asks us to lay them at His feet and let Him help us.

Hopefully that all made sense. I've just developed an increased appreciation for the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  I seriously have no idea how He did it, but I'm grateful to see the benefits of it every day in my life.  I think that is one of the reasons I was sent to Cortina.  God needed me to be in a place where I could open my heart to Him, and Cortina was the best place for me to learn how to do that.  There's lots of people I've come to love here, and I will definitely miss them, but I'm excited to see what lies ahead.  Hopefully I've caught onto everything God was trying to teach me so I can just go hand-in-hand with the Savior and give it everything in my next (and probably final) area, but if not, I'm glad I have a Savior who is perfectly understanding and will still go hand-in-hand with me as I learn the lessons I need to learn that will enable me to better give it my all.  Missions are great.  I'm glad for the time I've had and the time I still have.  It's going by too fast, but I love the work and my Savior more than I ever thought I could.  I love you, Family!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ
85234

1.  Don't worry--it's dead and doesn't have a stinger


2.  I'll be honest.  I took this so y'all could see my Polaroid with Sister Donaldson and the scorpion I caught.


3.  We had Elder Gordon's (extra) name tag most of the transfer and took pictures with it all over the mission.  This is the final picture (which we took on the car he and Elder Holland drive).  It was included with the other pictures, his name tag, and a letter from his name tag of all the places it had seen.  We then put it in an envelope addressed to him inside of another envelope addressed to Sister Partridge in the Mission Office.  He then carried this envelope to the mission office, and it finally came back to him through the Queen Creek box at the aforementioned mission office.  Elder Gordon thought it was funny.



Monday, September 4, 2017

Nephi Can Dance

Hi Family!

If you are wondering why I named my email the way I did, it's because after a miscommunication I thought Sister Patrick said that from what she was reading in the Book of Mormon she realized that Nephi was a dancer.  And I'm out of titles for emails.

I got to go on exchanges with Sister Sorenson!  She is always so much fun to be with. While we were on exchanges, we talked to a nice man named Orlando.  He speaks English, but very limited, so we just spoke with him in Spanish.  It was a lot easier to speak with Sister Sorenson backing me up--she took seven years of Spanish before the mission.  He gave us these chocolate mint candies, so now I can check off accepting candy from a stranger.  Don't worry, though.   Sister Sorenson ate hers first and didn't die, so that's when I knew it was safe.  Orlando was very nice, and we were able to send a referral to the Spanish missionaries for them to go meet him.  At the end, Orlando decided to kiss our hand, which totally caught both of us off guard, but such is life.  The awkwardness of a sister missionary is something to be reckoned with.

We got a visit from the Legendary Sister Irvin this week.  She showed up at our house, and it was fun to get to see her.  The next day, the STLs went with us to go get lunch (at Chick-fil-a, so I finally got to use my Christmas present and loved it), and another "dead" missionary was there--Sister Young.  It was good to get to see them.

A miracle happened this week with contacting someone the Bishop asked us to go see.  He had asked us to go visit a part-member family.  We got to the house and realized that it was not the home of the person we were looking for, but rather, the home of a kind, non-member family that we'd met before--they were nice, but not interested.   But miracles happen.  We needed a bathroom break, so we knocked anyway--we figured we knew them, so it wouldn't be too weird.  Tiffany, the person we had met before, answered, and she was very nice again.  On the way out, she mentioned that she was trying to get her garage in order for a yard sale she wanted to do, and miracle number one, she actually accepted our offer to help!  On Saturday, we went over to help with the service, and after our conversation, we realized that this actually was partially the people we were asked to see by the Bishop. Tiffany had been married to a less-active member named Chris, but they got divorced, he has since moved away, and she's gotten remarried.  I will be honest, I was just going to skip the house and go to another house when I originally recognized the house, but because of the chain of events that followed, we were able to build a bit of a relationship with Tiffany and get to know them.  I'm hoping we get to get to know her family better.

Sister Patrick has been on a cookie making kick.  She keeps saying that she's "finally turned into a 'Sister Missionary'".  We got to make cookies with the Lee family, and we had a list of people we wanted to take them to.  One of them was a couple in a different ward.  Chris is a returned missionary with an awesome testimony, but currently, is not attending church and is living with his girlfriend, Elizabeth.  She's the one who believes "kind of like Star Wars".  We stopped by and took the cookies to her, and she appreciated it.  She told us she had read the pamphlets we had left, and it turned to an awesome conversation about faith.

In summary, it's been a week of seeing miracles bloom.  I can't believe how fast the time is flying, and I wish I had so much more time now that I'm starting to figure out what works in missionary work.  It has changed my life to learn of the Savior and His Atonement each day, especially with the new insights I've learned from Elder Anderson.  I know that the message I get to share is the fullness of Christ's gospel, that it has been restored to the earth, and that we have living Apostles and Prophets today.  I love you!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ
85234

My favorite MTC Comp--she's killin' it.


It's not the lighting--I'm just an old sister missionary (left: newer name tag that I use for church and zone conferences; right: the original name tag from the MTC)


The Armstrongs--they have us over for breakfast every P-Day.
 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Mighty Mango

Hi Family!

Happy Wednesday P-Day!  I guess we will start out with some stress relief, and I will tell you about the Mighty Mango.  We went to a new family's home this week to share a message with them.  They had made us brownies too, so we ate brownies with them.  While eating them, their little boy kept going off about how he loves Naked Juice, especially the flavor "Mighty Mango".  So for the rest of the night he kept talking about Mighty Mango and how it makes you a ninja.  Who knew?

Other fun news: It has been officially decreed (by me) that I have a great district leader.  Why? Because he fulfilled his commitment.  Explanation: Every night, the district leader calls everyone in his stewardship to see how their day was and to ask if there is anything he can do for them.  Usually, we are pretty well set, so there's not much he can do for us.  It gets pretty old having the same conversation every night, so I started thinking of different commitments for Elder Hurst when I was back in Highland Zone.  One night I asked him to part his hair down the middle and take a picture, and guess what--HE DID IT!  So now that has been my standard to decide if my district leader is an average district leader or a great district leader.  Well, ladies and gents, I am happy to say that Elder Thomas did part his hair down the middle, took a pictures, and then even tied it into his district meeting the next day.  Gold star.  (Unfortunately, I don't have the picture.  He said no.)

Sister Patrick and I have been killing it just trying to find people to teach, and we had some fun experiences and even made a new friend!  We were looking at our area book, which tells us who missionaries have met in the past that might want to learn more or who have been learning.  We found someone who was written on there a couple times (from multiple encounters with missionaries and even being referred by their neighbor) named Victoria.  Sister Patrick stopped by last week on exchanges, and met Victoria's husband, Emeka.  He's from Nigeria.  He said he was already a member and they attended a ward just a few miles away.  We're thinking, "Sweet! An active part-member family!"  I get back in the area, and we stop by a few days later.  Well, Victoria was busy, but we were able to talk to Emeka, and turns out, even though he goes to a ward, he was never baptized.  He'd been taking the missionary lessons, then went back to Nigeria to run for a position in the government, and never got baptized before he left.  Now he's in our area, and he still wants to be baptized!

We also met Rob, a very nice Catholic man.  He invited us to come over because he thought it would be the neighborly thing to do, but he's not interested in learning.  It was funny though, because Sister Patrick and I go in, not sure what to expect.  Sister Patrick had been by before on exchanges, and Rob prayed for them and asked for President Monson to learn to the truth, and for Pope (*pauses because he can't remember the name of the pope*) Francis to speak the truth.  He really wanted us back over, though, so we went and just hoped for the best.  He sat down on the couch, offered us water, and pulls out a piece of paper.  Turns out it's the story of "A Catholic Utterance" where a Catholic man makes a comment that "Mormons don't realize how genius their claim is" and essentially says, "It's either the Mormons or the Catholics that have the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ".  Rob asked if we could agree on that, and we said yes.  He was happy with that, and then talked about each of the seven sacraments in the Catholic church and just asked about what they were like in our church.  Eventually he turns to talking about the Book of Mormon and the Bible.  Sister Patrick bore this awesome testimony of how the Book of Mormon has helped her, and instead of talking about the Book of Mormon, Rob just changes directions to talking about how we use the King James Version and how that's not the correct version of the Bible.  Lols.  Anyway, I wasn't sure what my purpose in being there was, but I think we at least gave him a good encounter with missionaries.  Rob is very nice, and I thought he might like the Bible Videos on lds.org.  Things to ponder.

We also had a fun service project with Tim and Mollie.  They are also not currently interested in learning, but they love having us in their home.  They are a good pair.  The service project is one that she'd be happy to teach the Young Women or Relief Society, so we are thinking about doing that.  We helped her cut grocery bags to make into yarn--yes, yarn.  Well, technically it's called "pyarn" for plastic yarn.  What happens with it is after it is made into yarn, instead of the bags going into a landfill or something, they can be crocheted into blankets for the homeless.  It's really cool, and Mollie appreciated the help.

We've been having weekly exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders because the Zone Leaders asked them to do so.  I got to teach with Sister Donaldson last week. One thing I've been working on is asking inspired questions, and Sister Donaldson made a comment about the questions I asked.  We had another lesson with Hunter.  We taught him the Word of Wisdom.  He's willing to try because he knows it's true, but he's reluctant as well.  He's a good kid, so keep him in your prayers.

This is getting rather long winded, but I still have more words, so quick update, and then I have some incredible things I learned.  My update is that the Arizona Gilbert Mission is officially authorized to use technology!  Some of the leadership got to meet with Elder Bednar the other week for training, and we will be switching over to Samsung smart phones the week of September 18th.  I'm glad it's happening at this point in my mission because I've been able to have fifteen months without it, and it will teach me how to use technology with a purpose when I get home.  I'm also excited because people who will be finishing their missions in 2017 get a loaner phone from the mission, so I don't have to buy one.  We also had another special visit which I will get to later.

First, I wanted to share my Sunday experience.  I had a couple things on my mind and was trying to find answers.  We happened to be going into a sacrament meeting, so during the sacrament, instead of reading the Book of Mormon, like I normally do, I took time for a personal interview with the Savior.  I imagined Him sitting there, giving me support, and thought of what He would tell me.  It was a powerful experience that I definitely want to do again.  I realized later that the reason I was able to have that is because of the opportunities I've had to learn OF Christ, rather than just about Him.  Especially from studying the scriptures, I've had so many opportunities to learn Christ's character.  If I knew just about Christ, I'd be able to guess what He'd say to me about as well as I could guess what advice George Washington would give to me.  Probably something about a cherry tree and wooden teeth, which isn't going to help me much.  But as we learn of Christ, we really get to know who He is, and we are able to have that personal relationship with Him that I really needed that Sunday during Sacrament Meeting.

I gained an appreciation for obscure characters in the Book of Mormon, and so I want to quick tell you about Lehi.  This is not the Lehi in 1 Nephi or 3 Nephi.  He's in Alma.  He's the captain over one of the Nephite armies under the direction of Captain Moroni.  He quietly follows orders. I don't know about anyone else, but I had never noticed him before.  However, in Alma 53:2, it gives us a little description of Lehi saying, "Now behold, this Lehi was a man who had been with Moroni in the more part of all his battles; and he was a man like unto Moroni, and they rejoiced in each other’s safety".  Well, I liked that it said, "like unto Moroni" because everyone loves Captain Moroni.  But interestingly enough, the footnote took me to Alma 48:17 (and I'm also including 18).

"Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.  Behold, he was a man like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah, yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God."

Lehi, although he was not a leader, was compared to a man like Moroni, and Moroni is compared to great missionaries, Alma and the Sons of Mosiah.  But most of all, Alma and the Sons of Mosiah are amazing because they are men that learned to use the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  It gave me an appreciation for the little guy--the one that's never in leadership, but has what's most important straight in his life.  He's definitely on my list of favorite Book of Mormon characters.

As for our special visit, I was privileged to meet Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles this week.  Because we are getting technology, he came to do a training for the entire mission.  It was incredible.  He happened to already know two of the missionaries because their father's had been missionaries in France when he was the mission president over that mission.  Best quote, "I don't mean to make you feel like Elder Janda and Sister Cruse are more special... but they are."  I died.  I especially just thought it was cool that even though he is an apostle, he remembers his missionaries that he had stewardship over.

The meeting was absolutely incredible.  Each of us got to shake his hand, which was cool, but what built my testimony is what transpired the next two hours.  President Wheeler had encouraged each of us to take an inspired question to ask Elder Anderson if we had the chance.  We also were invited to take questions to ponder in our hearts.  Well, family, I had six questions.  I had the opportunity to clarify one of my questions with him, but other than that, there wasn't time for missionaries to ask questions.  But in two hours, with no Q&A session, he still answered the questions of all 150 missionaries present--including all six of my questions.  If that is not in tune with the Spirit, I don't know what is.  It really strengthened my testimony that he is called of God.  One thing he talked about is having a solidified testimony of Jesus Christ. Over anything else, set your foundation in Him because if you know Jesus is the Christ, you can overcome any other question.  He then invited us to read the New Testament and ask ourselves if we really believe the words we read.  Then he asked us to pick ten New Testament scriptures that we really believe, that mean something to us, and memorize them.  Finally, he asked us to pick ten scriptures from the Book of Mormon and do the same thing.  He said by doing this, we will have those scriptures come to us in times we couldn't have planned for and that we will never leave this church.  It taught me to appreciate having faith in Jesus Christ more--especially in others.  He also talked about being patient, and said that "spiritual knowledge usually compounds itself over time".  God is always leading us to the next step.  He surprisingly didn't train much on technology, but it was better than I ever could have imagined.

Family, I know this is the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  His Atonement is what makes everything possible.  As my ward mission leader, Brother Lee, says, "None of us are above falling. And none of us are below coming back."  The Plan of Salvation is all about repentance made possible through Jesus Christ.  It's trying again, being patient as the Lord shows you one more step.  I LOVE YOU!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ
85234

When missionaries get to paint sidewalk


Arizona might be mini Utah, but it's also mini Australia with lots of Mormons


We went back to Desert Ridge for Sister Patrick's 17th month mark #throwback


We played with a puppy today.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Lots of Little Miracles

Hello Everybody!

Important Business before I get started: next P-Day will be Wednesday, August 30 because we are going to the temple that day, and the First Presidency has asked that missionaries only go to the temple on P-Day.  So hang on tight there.  End of important business.

One thing that I am learning this transfer is how to properly use the different forms of "y'all".  Apparently, there are different ways to use it.  There's "y'all", "all y'all", and "all of y'all".  Now that I am learning the correct grammar of y'all, I use all y'all at all the times when it should be a y'all just to have some fun with Sister Patrick.  Also, Good news.  There is a Halloween store that is open, and I saw Halloween decorations at another store.

But worry not family, I am doing missionary things too.  Unfortunately, we went to our follow-up appointment with Mike, and while we could hear a small child repeatedly calling "Mommy, Daddy!  Aren't you going to answer the door??"  the front door was not answered.  Fuzzy is headed to college today, so as soon as we find out his new address, we will be able to make sure the missionaries and his YSA ward take good care of him.  We also had dinner with Jeff and his family last night.  That went well.  They are a good family.  Other than that, we are still working on finding and building more member trust.

We've been doing a lot of service, so we got to do some service for Sister Lancaster.  She works three full-time jobs because she is a single mom, so she has a lot on her plate.  We helped her with her laundry, and Mom, you would have been so proud.  We got it all sorted, and we cleaned up her laundry room too.  While we were working, she insisted that we have music, and thankfully, our mission rules are very open on music.  We can listen to anything that invites the spirit and helps us focus on our missionary purpose, so one of the songs that has helped me stay focused is "Fight Song/Amazing Grace" by the Piano Guys.  I felt like showing that song to Sister Lancaster, and right as I'm about to tell her why I like the song as a missionary, she says, "Stop, you're freaking me out".  I was quite alarmed by this, so I just stopped talking all together, but then she continues, "I was just thinking about Fight Song for my mom today".  Her mom has cancer, which is why Sister Lancaster thought of the song.  It probably doesn't sound like a huge miracle, but I thought it was a cool tender mercy from Heavenly Father that I thought to show her that song on that specific day.

I also got to go on exchanges this week, so I got to tag along with Sister Butler and Sister Sorensen (there's another tender mercy--I think the only person that could have followed Sister Sprouse as my STL was my MTC companion, Sister Sorenson).  They are teaching a young man named Hunter.  I got to go to the lesson, and fun thing, Hunter is friends with Fuzzy!!  We taught Hunter about the Gospel of Jesus Christ by reading Mosiah 26 with him.  We had intended to invite him to come to church and the New Member Fireside, but instead, the Sisters invited him to be baptized.  It was so cool because the way he responded was like he had been waiting for them to ask.  He's on date for October 14, and I'm really happy I got to be there for that lesson.

I think one thing God has been teaching me this week is that if I mess up, I can TRY AGAIN!  Novel concept, right?  Dad had asked me to read "Overcoming the World" from last conference, which was really good.  It had lots of easy ways to just become more like the Savior.  I made a list and put it on my wall.  I also read a scripture that I really liked.  It's Alma 27:18, which says, "Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness".  And just to make sure I got the point, I read something this week that Sister Wheeler gave me about "self-as-context", which pretty much means remembering that your future is wide open to decide who and what you want to be.  I'm working really hard to remember to just "try again" and keep doing this work.  It's great!  Well, I love you family!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ
85234

Exchanges


Some kids in the neighborhood


We got ice cream with Sisters Cammon and Jensen today.



Monday, August 14, 2017

Why the Holy Ghost is Actually Really Important

Hello Family!

I had my QuinceaƱera this week, or in other words, I have reached 15 months.  It feels absolutely crazy!  I'm still learning so much, but the Lord is blessing us so much more.  It has been a week of miracles this week here in the smallest area in the smallest proselyting mission in the world.  I've been working on trying to introduce Sister Patrick to everyone, but there are a lot of people that I want her to meet.  It's been an ongoing project, especially since our bishops keep us busy on top of the finding time we try to have.  It's very motivating to be so busy and always have something to do.

We met a man named Lyons (who is not interested quite yet).  He recently moved in.  We were actually going to go see Robin, but we felt like we needed to stop and we had a really good conversation with Lyons.  Now he knows who we are, so that will be good.  We've also been trying to contact Sister Lancaster--she is somewhat less active because of a lot of things, most of which are out of her control.  We were again, biking to a different place when we caught her outside, and she asked us to come in!  We had a good conversation with her.  She is a single mom of a very active nine-year-old, so Sister Patrick was able to share her story (she is an only child with a single mom).  We have a return appointment with her to help do some cleaning and she is going to feed us dinner.

We also got back in with Allison!  She has been taking the missionary lessons, but we have to wait until she gets married (she has a date set for March 24, 2018) before she can be baptized.  We sat down with her family, mostly just got to know them, and found a little more about her situation so we know how to help her best.  Even though she can't get baptized until next year, she has been coming to church consistently.  She is amazing.  I learned something from Allison.  She was talking about prayer and how she doesn't like when she hears the little kid testimonies/prayers that are generally very repetitious (you know, the whole "I wuv to behwr my testimony, I know dis chooch is trwoo...").  She talked about how she has been working with her kids in family prayers to be more meaningful, and ever since then I've been working really hard to have more meaningful prayers.  It's hard (especially when some things you've said every night since you learned to pray), but it totally makes a difference.  It's a work in process, but I'm glad I was able to have that conversation with Allison.

We had Zone Conference this week, and President Wheeler spent the entire time talking about revelation.  It was amazing.  Over and over we were committed to teaching our friends how to receive revelation--which, incidentally, the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ does just that. I learned a lot.  I learned that when we wonder why God doesn't make it an obvious manifestation every time He directs us is because He trusts us.  He shouldn't have to shake us.  I also liked when President Wheeler told us "It is equally magnificent to have the Holy Ghost with you as it would be to have Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ with you.  But the thing that stuck out to me most was when President showed us a clip from the New Mission President Seminar, and Elder Jeffery R. Holland (I have to clarify because my zone leader is also called Elder Holland) said, "The Holy Ghost is your trainer and He won't get transferred".  That really hit me since this is my first transfer without my "mom" Sister Sprouse being in the mission.  It made me appreciate the role of the Holy Ghost even more, and it's nice to have that consistent companion when I choose to be around Him.

President Wheeler also shared some lists about how the Holy Ghost works, and I really liked them, so I'm going to share them.

How to Use the Holy Ghost in My Calling:
1. testimony
2. prophecy
3. comfort
4. feeling uplifted or motivated
5. informs
6. refrains
7. confirms
8. compels or directs

How do We Know We Have the Spirit:
1. pure knowledge or intelligence flows through you
2. sudden bursts of thoughts or ideas
3. when you write or speak beyond yourself
4. when you feel caution or warning--not a guessing game
5. when you feel a sense of urgency or cause
6. when you feel constrained to not do something
7. when love flows through you

Things to Be Careful of Because They Aren't the Spirit:
1. receiving "revelation" for someone not under your stewardship (usually revelation is for your own actions i.e. "I should talk to so-and-so about <fill in the blank>)
2. setting oneself up as a teacher or leader
3. people who interpret the scriptures for the general population because they are just that smart and most people don't get it like they do
4. people who share personal revelation every time they open their mouth (personal revelation can be shared, but in special circumstances)
5. people who need revelation over every silly thing (should I buy Corn Flakes or Honey Nut Cheerios? Spirit, help!)
6. people who have a time line for their life (the Spirit reveals step-by-step)
7. people who speak because the Brethren "can't" or "won't"

I'm thankful that President shared that because it helps me recognize the Spirit more.  After having that amazing Zone Conference, Sister Patrick and I have been trying to do what we committed to do: teach others how to receive revelation.  We had a lesson with Jeff and his family, and we had a really cool conversation with them.  We committed them to ask God a question.  Jeff has just been having a hard time picking a baptismal date because he feels he hasn't felt a date that is right for him, so I feel that this training from President was at least inspired for how we can help him.

Yesterday was the Tuscon Temple dedication, which I absolutely loved.  I feel so privileged to have been able to attend a temple dedication as a missionary.  It was absolutely incredible to feel the peace of the temple even from a church building two hours away--there is something to be said about how the places that have a broadcast of the temple dedication become literal extensions of the temple.  Elder Uchtdorf presided, and it was so much fun to see him still cracking jokes.  I'll close with one more thing I learned this week.  We were in District Meeting with our new district leader, Elder Thomas.  He's a good soul.  During district meeting, his companion, Elder Loder said something I've thought about a lot.  He said, "If you're not exactly obedient, the Spirit is not exactly there."  As I've been going from day-to-day happenings, I've had that in my mind.  Moral of the Story: the Spirit is so important, and there is a reason why the Lord says, "if ye have not the Spirit, ye shall not teach".  I love my mission, y'all!  It's the best. And as always (and forever), I love you!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ
85234

Look who I found at the temple dedication!


My QuinceaƱera--fifteen skirts for fifteen months


Found another scorpion


Some of the Queen Creek Zone

Monday, August 7, 2017

Listen to Your Parents!

Hello Family!

We got Sister Rogers and Sister Sprouse safely off to all her departure festivities, so I got to spend a crazy Monday and Tuesday with Sister Patrick (and Sister Butler, but she was only there for Tuesday--she also had departing festivities on Monday night).  It was an absolutely crazy adventure.  We had a miracle that Monday night.  We had just gotten out of dinner and thought about stopping by a less active member that our bishop had asked us to check on just to see how she was doing . . . and we needed a bathroom.  She never answers, but miracle, someone answered the door this time!  The one we were supposed to check on was upstairs feeling sick, but we had a wonderful conversation with her younger sister who was visiting.  I don't feel like we actually did that much, but the spirit was there and it was a special experience.

After a fun Monday evening, we went to the house Sisters Patrick, Butler, and Sprouse live in, and that is where Sister Rogers and I spent the night with the three of them as well as Sisters Sowa and Conrad (I called them Sisters SoRad).  We got Sister Rogers Sister Sprouse, and Sister Sowa off to the mission office the next morning, then loaded the rest of our things into our car and the STL's car so we could get to transfers.

Well, plot twist happened at transfers.  Sister Patrick's belongings never had to be unloaded because she is now with me in Queen Creek.  We've had a lot of fun so far, and Sister Patrick is really good at focusing on the needs of the people.  I've already lived with Sister Patrick before back in Desert Ridge Zone during my second transfer.  She has been out one transfer longer than me (16 months) and is from Cincinnati, Ohio (Miamisburg, OH specifically).  Sister Sorenson (my MTC comp) also got transferred, and now she is one of my STLs with Sister Donaldson and Sister Butler.  Sister Johnson also was called as an STL, just as another fun update.

We had some sad news. Our friend, Dawn, said she appreciated all we did, but for right now, she doesn't want to continue having lessons.  Her kids felt overwhelmed with the difference between what we know and what they have been taught in non-denominational churches.  However, I was able to talk to President Smith (our stake president) and he had been talking to Dawn.  She told him ever since she prayed in the first lesson, she has felt different (her words, not mine) and has become more emotional when she has spiritual experiences--something she never used to do.  I'm so lucky that I got to be there for that lesson with her, and even though she's not going to continue learning now, she has had an experience that will prepare her for next time.   I'm excited for her.

We did make another new friend this week!  His name is Mike.  Sister Rogers and I met him a few weeks ago, and we had an appointment with him yesterday.  (Actually, I have to admit, we followed up with Mike because Dad asked if we had seen him recently, so I decided it might be a good idea to do that.  Moral of the story: listen to your parents.) We were trying to find someone to come with us last minute, but everything worked out, Sister Lakko came with us, and we had an amazing lesson with Mike.  He is great.  He has a wife and three daughters, and he is so focused on them--absolutely family centered.  He grew up Southern Baptist, but goes to a non-denominational church now.  He is so open, so we taught him the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Spirit was there, Sister Lakko bore her amazing testimony, and we were able to help him see how the gospel will help him find the direction God wants him to take--something he said he has wondered.  His mother, who is a preacher, came in at the very end, and she didn't seem too thrilled to see sister missionaries, but Mike said he would read the Book of Mormon because "it might be for him" (again, his words).  Keep Mike in your prayers.  We get to go see him again in two weeks.

We are still working on getting an appointment with Lee as well as a friend named Dave.  I feel like the Lord is really blessing us with a lot of miracles right now.

I've been working on reading the Book of Mormon in 90 days as part of the mission's summer challenge, and I've just been reading about Alma the Elder and Alma the Younger--I'm not sure which of the two is more hardcore; I love them both.  It's amazing that every single time I read the Book of Mormon, I always find something new.  For example, did you know that the demographics of Zarahemla during the reign of King Mosiah was more than 65-70% "Mormon" (or whatever their nickname was back then because it probably wasn't Mormon) and had seven "wards"? It's true!  It's all in Mosiah 25:23; 26:1-5. I didn't notice that before.  It's a promise that we will have new insights each time we read the Book of Mormon, but it really works.  And there were other insights I had that were even better.

First thing that I realized is that Alma the Younger had brothers and sisters.  In Mosiah 27 it says, "Now the sons of Mosiah were numbered among the unbelievers; and also one of the sons of Alma was numbered among them, he being called Alma, after his father".  I know that doesn't sound very profound, but it impacted me because I thought of how much his decisions impacted his siblings.  It talks about how much Alma the Elder prayed for his son, but I also just imagined his siblings.  How much they wanted Alma to come back.  How much it must have pained them to see him making choices they knew would not bring happiness and how happy they must have been to finally see him have a change of heart.  It made me appreciate that story even more.

Our mission also gave us was questions to study as we've been reading, which I have been trying to do.  Last week, two questions that I had to ponder were "How and why did the conversion of the sons of Mosiah influence their desire to be missionaries? What motivates those who have been fully converted to share the gospel with others?"  I got to thinking about how the sons of Mosiah had had this incredible 180-turn and how they knew the difference.  They didn't want others to have to ever go through what they did and wanted everyone to have the joy they were able to receive after having repented.  The same thing motivates others to share the gospel.  Well, then I got thinking "What motivates me to share the gospel?  I haven't had this "Alma the Younger turn around".  Why do I care?", so I started listing experiences that gave me a desire to share the gospel.  I discovered that what motivated me wasn't hitting rock bottom.  The things that motivate me are experiences such as Girl's Camp, hearing my parents' testimonies, going to the temple, my mission--in short, experiences where I was able to live the Doctrine of Christ.  And that's when something clicked.

I realized that Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah were able to have a dramatic conversion not because of their past, but because they were given a huge opportunity to live the Doctrine of Christ.  And it's the same for us:  We don't have to be the vilest of sinners to have an Alma the Younger conversion, but rather, by living the Doctrine of Christ the way Alma did afterwards.  It's not how low we sink, but how high Christ can raise us.  When we get bogged down with the idea of "Oh, well I wasn't ever less active" or whatever garbage the adversary tries to throw at us to try to make us think we don't actually "know the difference", we can stand tall and remember that that has nothing to do with it because it's all about striving to live the Doctrine of Christ.  That's when we truly know.

I know the Book of Mormon is true because no other book helps me learn truths as clearly as that one does.  I'm so lucky to have this mission experience with all the ups and the downs and the "in-betweens".  I love it because it helps me love my family even more, and family, with that, I just want you to know that I love you!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ
85234

Sister Sprouse got a picture with me and my luggage on my way in, and I got one with her and her luggage on her way out. I'm thankful to have had the best trainer in the world.


Sister Patrick and I


Biking (ft. a bag of garbage)