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

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

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

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  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

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


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 Quinceañera 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

Look who I found at the temple dedication!

My Quinceañera--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

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)

Monday, July 31, 2017

I See Dead People (it's my companion)

Hello Family!

Sister Sowa, one of my friends here on the mission, wanted me to say hi to y'all, so here is her shout out.  Transfers happened, and I will be in the Queen Creek for another six weeks--no surprise there since my companion will be returning home tomorrow.  I'm officially "killing" a companion; I wonder if this counts as being able to see dead people?  I'll get my new companion on Wednesday, so I'll be with some other sisters for this evening during the departing missionary festivities and for tomorrow.  It's been a great twelve weeks with Sister Rogers, and it will be fun to see the changes that come.

Exciting news for me this week, I finished reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish!  It was a neat experience, and I felt a lot of peace and happiness upon finishing, and I am definitely a lot more comfortable speaking Spanish than I was before I started.

We had two pretty amazing experiences.  The first was with a less active family that will be moving soon.  Sister Rogers and I had just finished planning for the day when we get a text from one of the ladies in our area asking if we could go help this family move.  We had a pretty busy day planned, and had planned in a lot of people that our bishops had asked us to visit.  We decided to pray about it, and eventually came to the conclusion that we would go help with the moving.  Well, we went to help, and we showed up right when this sister was most stressed out and were able to help her.  She told us after that we had shown up "at the perfect time".  It was a cool lesson of listening to God because He has a lot better idea of what needs to happen.

We also got to take Jacqueline on splits with us a few times.  I went on splits with Jacqueline a lot in Bella Vista, so it was fun to have her come over to Queen Creek.  I'm not sure if I mentioned this before or not, but Jacqueline was baptized a few years ago, and ever since then has just loved to go on splits with the missionaries.  She is even planning on going on her own mission one day.  The day she came with us, we had a lesson, but we assured her that it would be with an active member.  It was with the Wurtz family, who has the sweetest little kids.  We asked Jacqueline to share her testimony/conversion story at the end, and she did wonderfully!  We were inviting the Wurtz to invite a friend to a Family Home Evening, and Jacqueline was able to share how she was first invited because a friend asked her to come to church with her.  It was incredible to have her share her story with those kids.  It's something they will remember for the rest of their lives, I hope.  I'm just lucky that I got to be a part of that lesson.

Well, by Sister Sabey standards, this will be a short email, but I just wanted to finish with something I've learned this week.  I think one of my challenges is that I always try to find a "formula" or a "system" that works every single time.  If I teach the members this and that, or if I say that and this to someone we meet on the street, it will result in such and such.  I think, "this worked in Highland, so it has to work in Queen Creek", and it does, but it's never as effective as I was hoping for.  The thing that I learned this week is that unless it's Jesus Christ and His Atonement, it's not going to work every single time.  Sometimes I get so caught up in the details that I forget to step back and say, "What would Jesus Christ say if He were here?"  It bothered me that I learned that fourteen months into my mission, and I was almost reluctant to change because I'd been trying to find a "formula" for so long.  But especially this week, I've learned that following the Spirit is always the best option because He always testifies of Jesus Christ.  Well, that's my little shpill for this week, Family.  I love you!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

Sister Rogers likes to take pictures of EVERYTHING
(which is good because that's how I get most of my pictures each week)

Heart Attacking

It's the back side of the book because I finished

Monday, July 24, 2017


Hello Family!

It is raining today, and that is just one more added bonus to the awesome week I have already had!  It was also raining last night.  It was so fun to bike in it, and sometimes Sister Rogers and I would have to trek through puddles that would have been up to my ankles had I been standing in it.  I love rain.

I officially have a new question for the soul: What is the hype with fidget spinners???  About a month ago, our friend, Jeff's daughter had extra fidget spinners and decided to give them to Sister Rogers and I.  I gotta admit that it is nice to have when you've been sitting in church for eight or nine hours and still have more meetings left.  But holy cow, every time someone sees my fidget spinner, someone freaks out--whether for good or bad.  Yesterday, I was at church, and I saw this little kid playing with a fidget spinner.  I decided to hold up my fidget spinner just so he could see it.  Well, he did, and immediately, the benches immediately surrounding the little boy were filled with him yelling with so much glee, "SHE HAS THE SAME TOY AS ME!"  which resulted in a few adult members whispering, "The missionary has a fidget spinner" . . . so again, what is the hype with fidget spinners?

Apart from the controversy of the fidget spinner, our week was full of miracles.  It all started with a phone call last Monday.  I was sitting in my room, folding my laundry, when the phone rang.  I answer, and I hear, "Hi Sister Sabey! It's Darrin!  I got this number from the mission office.  Do you have a minute to talk?"  Well, Family, quick recap on Darrin:  he was in Meridian YSA when I served there last summer in Desert Ridge Zone.  He had been less active since returning from his mission, and was struggling to return to activity--he had the desire to, but he was struggling.  I'd seen him a couple of times around the mission since being in Desert Ridge, and he was still the same old Darrin.  Well, let me tell you, the Atonement of Jesus Christ works because the phone call I received was not the same old Darrin.  He called because he wanted to let me know that he was going to church every single week and had finally been able to regain his temple recommend!  I could not stop smiling.  It was one of those moments where everything is worth it.  I was so glad that he called, and it started everything off on the right foot for a killer week.

We had dinner with an awesome family one night this week (and the food was AMAZING), and it was so fun to see how much their kids knew--they actually answered the questions, and they had stellar responses!  It was a lesson that I really enjoyed teaching.  At the end, we were saying goodbye before we headed out, and their nine or ten year old boy, Kingston, yells, "I WANT A HUG!" and next thing I know, I'm caught in the hug of a boy.  I did not know what to do with myself, so I ended up being an awkward missionary and just looking at his dad as if to say, "Help?"  It was also very sweet and made me smile.  It's nice to know you are loved and people want to hug you.

We had Sister Patrick with us again this week, and I think it was definitely inspired that we had her on the exact day that we did.  Sister Rogers and I have been trying to contact all the referrals we have received, as well as anyone who had said we could come back.  The morning we were with Sister Patrick, we went out and contacted some people in 4th Ward.  We get to the house of a person named Michelle.  She wasn't home, so we were about to bike off when Sister Rogers sees a person outside next door.  She goes to talk to him, and we begin having an awesome conversation.

We find out that his name is Erik, that he was baptized a member when he was eight years old, and had since just stopped going--he wasn't on our ward roster, so we didn't realize he was there.  I like to call people that are members, but we don't know it, "Easter Eggs".  Anyway, we start talking to Erik, and we have a pretty good conversation.  And then he asks, "Okay, so what are your thoughts on aliens?" Oh boy . . . anyway, we talk about that, and it is still going pretty good.  Eventually, a man walks out of the house we had just been at (I'm assuming Michelle's husband?), and Erik yells over to them, "HEY! WHY DIDN'T YOU TALK TO THE MISSIONARIES??" and gives him a hard time about it.  The man yells back, "I didn't want to talk to them!" so I guess we can say he is not interested.  It made me laugh, and we went back to talking with Erik.

This conversation goes on, and meanwhile, we are in the beating hot sun, but Erik is still completely content talking to (and sometimes sassing) us.  We are able to share testimony, talk about why the ten commandments are still the same as they have been since Moses, and then Erik asks Sister Patrick (this is the part where it gets really inspired), "How do you know that God loves you?"  Sister Patrick has a pretty amazing story, and her story was just perfect for Erik.  She continued to talk, and he continued to listen.  At the very end, we asked him if he would pull out his own copy of the Book of Mormon and read it.  He said he would.  We then ask, "Can we follow up with you in a week?"  He thinks about it, and then this was the most sincere answer I've received about a follow-up.  He said yes.

We also met Joe and Mike this week.  They were both people that members had suggested we stop by.  Joe is incredibly intelligent and very focused on his family.  We had a really long conversation, and he talked a lot about history (which I thought was fascinating).  Sister Rogers was really good at bringing the conversation back.  We invited him to read the Book of Mormon again (he said he already had once), and he said, "Sure.  Maybe I'll have a different experience this time."  He gave us his number to follow up in a month.

Mike was also very receptive.  It was a miracle because we were on splits with Brinley, and she is still deciding whether she should go on a mission or not. (She should. She's ready.)  Mike answered the door, and we said, "Hi, are you Mike?"

"Yes, how did you know that?"

"Your neighbor said you are pretty cool and said we should come meet you."

"Well, that is true.  Come on in."

What? People never just invite us in.  But Mike did.  He invites us to sit down, offers us water, and then pretty much asks us what we are all about.  We tell him our purpose, introduce our message a little, and invited him and his family to take the lessons. He said he wanted to see what it was like first before bringing his family into it, but he is willing to meet with us and to read the Book of Mormon.  I'm just hoping as he reads that he will feel the Spirit because the desire to learn more and have his family come will follow as he does.

This area is going to see miracles.  I can feel it.  God is preparing people.  At the beginning of July, President Wheeler invited us to read the Book of Mormon in 90 days, and told us to expect miracles.  God keeps His promises.  As I've been reading the Book of Mormon, I've been trying to underline the different promises that God makes, as well as highlight the Doctrine of Christ and circle names for Christ.  I've discovered a lot, and this has been one of my favorites so far: 1 Nephi 21:25 promises, "I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children."

This is when Isaiah is prophesying about nursing kings and queens and whatnot (which has been really cool to learn about thanks to Sister Roger's determination to understand), and he talks about how the children will come back.  As I read this,  I came to the conclusion that God was promising those of the house of Israel that if they will remain faithful, He will take care of everything else--even down to helping their children to come back to the fold.  God does take care of everything we could ever need, and all he asks is for us to remain faithful to Him.  He's got this.  It's amazing to see over and over the main thing our Heavenly Father just wants us to answer is this: "Do you trust me?"  I am grateful that I have the opportunity to learn to trust Him, even though I am far from perfect at doing so.  I know that Heavenly Father has a plan, and just as He promised, everything will work out when we remain faithful to Him and His Son, Jesus Christ.  I love you, Family!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

Ball is Life.

Our attempt to capture the moment


Monday, July 17, 2017

Just Do It!

Hi Family!

This summer is flying by so much faster than last summer, and I don't know how on earth it got to be the end of July.  The good news is that it is finally MONSOON SEASON!  There's nothing quite like an Arizona Monsoon.

Story time: Last summer, my first Sister Training Leader was a sister named Sister Haymond (let's see how many times I can fit sister into one sentence).  She had been out for fourteen months, and I thought she was so old and looked forward to the day I would be that old.  Well, I did it.  I reached my greenie goal of being as old as Sister Haymond.  I still feel like I should be out maybe a month or two because I'm just learning things about how to be a missionary that I wish I had learned 14 months ago.

We've continued to try to invite people to be baptized.  This week, we got to talk to Craig and Chad, who didn't give us a solid answer, but they both have their own copy of the Book of Mormon and gave us their number.  They don't live in our area, so we are hoping to be able to send missionaries over there.  We also invited Kaden, a rambunctious nine-year-old.  His mom is a member, and his dad is anti-Mormon.  Kaden said ye and even said that his dad mentioned that he might let him be baptized when Kaden is 10.

I also got to go on exchanges with Sister Sprouse!  She is a Sister Training Leader now, as I might have mentioned before.  This is her very last transfer, and literally, my entire mission has been me hoping that I got to go on exchanges with Sister Sprouse.  It was a lot of fun to laugh over all the funny moments from a year ago, but also to see how we have both grown as missionaries.  While we were out working, we met a young man named Abbos.  He has lots of Mormon friends.  While he still leans toward his Muslim upbringing, he also likes to learn what other people believe.  He told us that he had gone to a lot of LDS functions, except going to church, which he really wanted to do.  The day previous, our district had had a training on inviting people to church using the information about church in the back of our pamphlets.  It was so cool to see the training we received be exactly what we needed that day.  Abbos said he couldn't come that Sunday (yesterday), but he would like to at some point.

We also went to the baptisms for the eight-year-olds in our area.  The bishop in one of our wards had asked us to come.  It was really fun, and I think the Frosts and the Redfords, the two families that had kids being baptized, really appreciated it.  The service was incredible and the Spirit was so strong.  We were trying to figure out how to be helpful and effective, and I remembered that President Wheeler had talked about using the time when the people are waiting for the person being baptized to change out of their wet jumpsuit at convert baptisms to share a testimony of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  So we did that.  We had asked Bishop if we could, but turns out that he wasn't the presiding authority because a member of the Seventy was there--his granddaughter was one of the people being baptized.  He said yes, so we got to share our testimonies in front of a Seventy, and we invited anyone in the congregation who had felt the spirit to come and learn more so they could also be baptized like the Frost and Redford kids had been.  It was pretty cool.  I'm not sure if anything will come out of it, but you never know.

The biggest miracle of the week was with Fuzzy.  He is back from Europe, so we invited him to come to a new member fireside to listen to the testimonies of other recent converts.  Firesides are a more casual church meeting where people are asked to share experiences--I'm still not sure why it is called a fireside.  Maybe they were actually held around fires once upon a time.  Anyway, it's the day of, and last minute, we get a text from our Zone Leaders: "The assistants need one more recent convert to speak at the new member fireside.  Can you ask someone?" Sister Rogers says, "Let's call Fuzzy!" I was thinking "Are you kidding?  He's never been to one! He'll say no!  We can't ask him last minute".  But we did, and he said yes, even when we said, "wait, really?" in surprise.

The new member fireside was amazing, and one of the stories was perfect for Fuzzy to listen to, and Fuzzy did an incredible job.  He has such a sincere testimony, and I'm really excited to see where life takes him.  I'm glad that I get to be part seeing his testimony grow.  It is such a privilege to get to see that.  I wish everyone could have been there to hear the strength of the testimonies of the amazing people accepting the fullness of the Gospel in the Arizona Gilbert Mission.  That's all for this week.  I love you, Family!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

The Petersons--they are in charge of Family Home Afternoon for Queen Creek Zone

Exchanges with Sister Sprouse

Once a Highlander, Always a Highlander

Monday, July 10, 2017

Happy Fourth!

Hi Family!!

I hope everyone had a happy Fourth!  I've officially decided that the Fourth of July is the worst holiday to be a stateside missionary during, but Sister Rogers and I still made a fun day of it.  We still went out and worked all day, and because it was the Fourth, no one was home.  But that evening, all the missionaries had to be inside by 6 P.M.  The Queen Creek Zone got together at our stake center, played basketball, and watched Seventeen Miracles.  We got to see some fireworks as we drove back to our house.  But now it's officially the time of year when the ward council (a group of leadership that correlates how to best help members of the congregation with temporal and spiritual needs) has started talking about doing a ward social for Halloween.  I'm so excited because I love Halloween.  I can't believe how fast the time is going.

Sometimes as missionaries, we get really bored, so we start rating the doors on a scale of 1-10.  There is one family in my area, and they are the first one I gave a 10 for their door (I guess I'm a tough judge).  They have a very nice door, but the family who lives behind the door is even better.  Their name is the Johnstons.  I like them a lot.  We had dinner with them last week, and it was one of the best member lessons I have ever taught.  We taught the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I always have a hard time teaching about Prophets and dispensations, but this last time it just flowed perfectly.  It was totally guided by the Spirit, and I'm actually upset that I can't remember how I said it.  But I know it was not me, it was the Spirit.  Anyways, after the lesson, we were talking to Sister Johnston, and she told us about something we hadn't realized the last time we visited.

Last week, the ladies in the area got together and had a game night.  Sister Rogers and I stopped by because we figured it could possibly be a good missionary opportunity--we weren't really sure.  We got there, talked to the ladies for a little bit, and shared a message before hurrying off to the next place we needed to be.  We just talked about how by small and simple things, great things come to pass, and Sister Rogers tied in some cute thing about M&M's with it.  I was thinking about it after, still trying to decide if it had been a good use of our time.  Flash forward to now having dinner with the Johnstons.  Sister Johnston said that she had appreciated our message so much, and we found out that one of the ladies had invited a friend of another faith, and the friend had really enjoyed our message.  Sister Johnston was so appreciative of how bold we were, and it was just a cool learning experience that I don't always realize the extent of what I get to do.

Sister Patrick came back out with us this week, and we had quite the miracle.  Last time Sister Patrick came over, she just had to sleep on the couch--I did not envy her in the least.  We felt bad that she didn't have a bed, especially considering how often she has to come over while her companions have leadership responsibilities.  Sister Rogers and I were biking around one day, and Sister Patrick was going to be coming that night.  All of a sudden, we notice a pile of furniture that someone had left outside including a mattress.  We had to get going, so we determined to come back.

That night just before we went to get Sister Patrick, we stopped by the house to knock on the door just to be certain we could have the mattress (I guess most people don't leave random mattresses they want on the curb by the road, but we thought we'd check).  Well, the family was home and they were members, one of which had recently returned from his own mission, so they were very understanding of our situation.  They questioned if we really wanted the mattress (it had been left by the previous owners).  We went and smelled it.  It smelled fine and looked clean, so the members even offered to bring it to our house for us.  It was a smaller mattress, but it still ended up working just perfectly for Sister Patrick.  She is very excited to have her own bed for when she comes to our house.

Unfortunately, Sister Rogers got sick later that week, so she had to stay inside.  Luckily, we had Sister Patrick with us, so the Relief Society President in one of our wards was kind enough to let Sister Rogers come stay at her house while Sister Patrick and I went out at work.  Jacqueline, a young woman from my second area in Bella Vista, also came out with us, and it was so much fun to see her again!

That was pretty much our week.  I think Satan is mad at us for inviting so many people to be baptized because there weren't very many people home and we definitely had a couple disappointments, but I learned something that helped give me an extra boost of enthusiasm for when it got hard.  I thought about how when someone says, "I give you my word", it's just like saying, "I promise".  In essence, that means that when we talk about God's Word, it's talking about God's Promises.  (If that's not a good motivation to really read and pray about the Book of Mormon, I don't know what is.  There are incredible promises in that book.) I found one such promise that was incredible to think about.

I was reading el Libro de Éter, and it was talking about how the people who inherited the Promised Land needed to serve God.  I started thinking about how we serve God.  Somewhere along this train of thought, I started thinking about how in America we have "In God We Trust" on all our money and how the Pledge of Allegiance says, "One Nation Under God".  Then I started thinking about how we are asked to do things, such as the sacrament, praying, etc., in the name of Jesus Christ.  I ran this by Sister Patrick, and she made a comment about how there is power in a name.  It just made me realize how much power there is in just saying the Savior's name--just saying the Savior's name can banish the influence of the adversary.  Then I started thinking about other times we take the Savior's name upon us, and it clicked: the reason we are asked to take His name upon us is because of the power that it gives us through Jesus Christ to withstand the powers of the adversary.  We can't do it without Him.  That is why we are asked to be baptized, take the sacrament weekly, receive temple covenants, and be sealed to our families.  Done under the authority of Jesus Christ, it protects us with His Saving Grace so that we can be with our families forever.  I'm glad that because of those covenants that I have made, as long as I continue to rely on and trust in my Savior, I will receive those blessing of having an eternal family.  The Gospel is really cool, Family, and I am so thankful for it.  Live it because God's Promises are the best.  I love you!!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

Happy America Day

How I Feel about Weddings as a Missionary

Harry Potter

Monday, July 3, 2017

Start Inviting

Hello Family!

This has been the happiest week of my mission so far.  We got to celebrate Canada Day, so I took the opportunity to make copies of "Oh Canada" to give to all the Bishops and Ward Mission Leaders in my area.  Now we have no reason not to sing it in church.  Brother Godfrey, a member of one of our wards who is from Southern Alberta himself, announced to the entire ward that Bishop Bailey has a copy, so really, there is no excuse not to be patriotic.

But that's not why it was the happiest week of my mission (even though it was definitely a plus).  This week was the happiest week of my mission because I finally found my why.  President Nattress would talk about "whys" a lot.  There is your why for coming on a mission, a why for staying on your mission, and that why generally changes a lot over your mission.  I had general whys, whys that would help me get to the next day whys that kept me going.  But this week, I found a why that will allow me to "go to the edge where miracles happen", and I am so excited to do the work.

On Tuesday, we had Fundamental Meeting, and Elders Gressman and Holland (my zone leaders) committed us to invite one person to be baptized every single day.  We've been trying to do that, which I'll talk about in a minute, but here's the thing, Fam.  I've been trying to set that as a goal for myself for the last thirteen months, and it never stuck.  But during our meeting, I learned something that helped me find that sense of urgency that I couldn't figure out before.  I realized that I can only invite random people on the street to be baptized while I am a missionary.  I won't have that authority after my mission.  Conclusion: I need to get inviting.

This week was also Zone Conference, which seriously changed my life.  One thing President Wheeler has been trying to focus on is how to improve the way we find.  The Arizona Gilbert Mission is definitely a baptizing mission--1 out of 3 people that start investigating the church are baptized in this mission, but the trick is finding people to start teaching.  That is what we focused on this Zone Conference.  I realized something else.  I didn't know how to find, and finally after thirteen months, I learned.  

One thing that changed is I understand the role of testifying better.  Sometimes I get so caught up in teaching or trying to help them feel loved that I forget that testifying does both of those things.  The other thing was something known as the Rule of Seven.  On average, it takes a person at least seven interactions with the church before they are ready to be baptized because they realize it's true, and that's going from a range of knowing absolutely nothing about the church to being ready to be baptized.  I always thought of it in the way most members do:  if they aren't a seven right now then uhhghghh.... I don't know what to do .... but in Zone Conference, we learned to take a different look at it.  God's timeline is God's timeline, but part of God's timeline is the journey.  Every interaction we have can move people closer to being ready to make promises with our Savior through baptism. Instead of looking at it as "oh, they haven't had seven interactions, I guess I'll just leave now", I have an awesome opportunity to help them move closer.  Maybe this time they would have just told us go away, but we can show them kindness and testify, so maybe next time they will be like, "Oh, it's the Mormons.  I'll give them a water bottle", and so on.

After that, I wanted to be committed.  I finally knew how to do it, I knew that I could do it, and I knew that I needed to do it now, so Sister Rogers and I went and did this week.  Day one, we biked around and we had a great day, but by the end of it, we still hadn't found anyone to invite . . . and it was 8:55.  We started biking home, but still hopeful, we kept looking.  We biked past the public swimming pool, and we see two guys sitting on a bench outside.  We quickly went over to talk to them, annnnddddd they were members from the Elders' ward.  Okay, it looked like we weren't going to invite a non-member to be baptized, but that didn't mean we couldn't invite.  We asked him if weren't already baptized, if he would be.  And he said yes.  Was it a stretch? Yes, but we invited, and we got the words out of our mouth.

The next day, we actually had a cool experience.  Sister Rogers felt prompted to go visit a "part-member" family.  The husband hadn't come to church in years and the wife (Elizabeth) says her belief system is kind of like Star Wars.  We asked to share a message with them, not really sure what we were going to share, but the Lord was completely in charge.  Elizabeth's husband was thoroughly disappointed that she couldn't do better than saying her beliefs were "like Star Wars", so he started sharing what he believed--which he said repeatedly he hadn't done as much before as he shared that day.  It turned into a really great gospel discussion.  We didn't get to talk much because Elizabeth's husband had a LOT to say, but I did receive two distinct promptings of things to share.  "Talk about the Atonement" and "Talk about the First Vision".  Sister Rogers also was able to share a few things, and it was so cool because as she talked, Elizabeth was listening intently to what Sister Rogers had to say.  At the end of the lesson, Sister Rogers was so bold and invited Elizabeth right there to be baptized.  She told us she'll never say never!  It was incredible.

Day three of the commitment was absolutely nuts and we were running around like crazy.  We were trying really hard and having no luck.  We even went by our friend Jeff's home to follow up about his invitation to pray about July 15 as a baptismal date--he wasn't home.  It was getting late and we had to get going in, and once again, we hadn't found anyone.  Suddenly, Sister Rogers sees a boy, no older than 14 years old, riding his bike.  She stops, bikes right toward him and screams, "ARE YOU A MEMBER?" I about had a heart attack.  The kid was a member, but we still invited and even had a cool teaching opportunity.  Sister Rogers explained our commitment to him, and he probably thought we were crazy.  We invited him, and he said yes, but added, "but I've already been baptized".  (I was about to lose it because I get people who tell me that all the time and now I'm getting it from members too.)  So we change it up a little and ask, "well, will you renew your baptismal covenant by partaking of the sacrament?" He said yes, so we said, "We will be holding a Sacrament Service on July 2.  Will you prepare yourself to take the sacrament that day?"  He said he'd be out of town, but promised he'd still be going to church to take the sacrament there.  Maybe he didn't get anything out of it except for thinking missionaries are crazy (and he's not all wrong), but it was a good reminder for me that taking the sacrament has the same significance as a baptismal service--I just forget because I get to do it every week.

The next day was Saturday, and we were running around all day to try to correlate with Bishops and Ward Mission Leaders, and we didn't even have enough time to get that done.  It was a struggle, so that day, I invited Sister Sprouse to be baptized.  She said yes.

Then we finally got to Sunday.  We had planned appointments all night, but all of them cancelled.  I was pretty bummed, but it was a good opportunity to contact some referrals we had received.  First we met Ashley, and she just moved into the neighborhood.  She said she was just starting to develop her relationship with Jesus Christ and was attending Sun Valley, a popular non-denominational church in the area.  I asked her how she had started her relationship with Jesus Christ, and she said she had been going through a hard time and I friend invited her to church (see? it works!).  We told her about our message and invited her to be baptized.  She said not yet because she was still starting out and didn't want to overwhelm herself, but she did accept a Book of Mormon and said we could come back.

We also met Justin.  We had been meaning to contact someone else, but they were out of town.  Justin was there house sitting.  We talked to him for a while. He declined our invitation, but he did take a Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlet.  While we were testifying, he was also listening intently, just like Elizabeth.

It was an incredible week.  I learned so much and I want to take the things I learned this week throughout the rest of my mission, then take what I learn from my mission for the rest of my life.  The Gospel is amazing, and I'm so glad I get to share it more effectively now.  I hope everyone is doing great!  I love you!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ
The Elders have picked up crocheting

We both wore red and white for Canada Day

Sister Rogers is really good at taking pictures

We tried . . .