Monday, February 27, 2017

Ducks, Dogs, Doctrine

Hi Family!

This week, I helped in saving the life of a duck. Yep, a duck.  Highland Zone got to go do service at an outdoor expo about nature and such.  I guess the point of it was trying to get kids to go outside.  Sister Johnson and I were in charge of wandering around and picking up trash/asking people at the stands if they needed water. While we were walking around, a lady came and asked us if we could get someone to come help because there was a duck who was caught on a fishing line.  We were internally freaking out because fun fact: being an adult does not mean you know the answer to everything and I am still learning that--but that also means that most people aren't going to yell at you because they don't know what is going on either. :)  But then we remembered that we had just talked to a lady at a stand that rescues and takes care of injured wildlife until it can return to the wild. Another fun fact: I think the missionary nametag is magical because it means we can ask random strangers of they have a knife or a net and they just hand one over without questioning it.  So we ran around and got the stuff and one of the people from the wildlife place was able to save the duck (it was very dramatic--I'll put a picture of how she saved it below) before the little guy drowned.

We also had to chase a dog around this week.  One day, Sister Johnson and I were contacting someone named Marilyn.  Marilyn had talked to missionaries before, so we were following up to see if we could teach her.  Well, her dog escaped while we were talking to her sister at the door and was running around, so Sister Johnson and I were running all over creation trying to catch it.  Sister Hanny, who lives in the ward we were in, was out walking with her baby when she sees us running and joins into help us catch the dog.  This dog did not want to be caught and I kept thinking of it in terms of the parable of the one lost sheep and thought, "If we are like this when God is just wanting us to come back, He must have a whole lot of patience."  Eventually, the dog stopped to do some business, and we were finally able to catch it.  I was annoyed at the dog at this point, but it ended up working out really well.  We took the dog back to Marilyn's house, and when we got there, Marilyn was outside--her sister had said that she wasn't feeling well before.  Sister Johnson, Sister Hanny, and I got to talk to Marilyn, and we started talking about the Book of Mormon.  Marilyn said that she had read it, but that bits of it kind of confused her.  Sister Hanny jumped right in and bore a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon, so Marilyn said that she would try reading it again and invited us to come back next week!  Sister Johnson and I have really been wanting to find more friends to teach, so we are really excited.  It's still slow going, but we feel like there are some miracles coming just around the corner.

We also had Zone Conference this week.  That means about sixty missionaries all gathered together and we had a conference where the mission president and the assistants to the president did some training with us.  Since our mission is so small, our zone conference actually consisted of three different zones, so I got to see some other friends.  We've been focusing on our purpose as a missionary, and I learned a lot about being activity driven vs. being purpose driven, and it really helped me to re-evaluate what things will truly help us as we seek to invite others unto Christ.  At the end, we had a short testimony meeting, and it was such a spiritual experience.  This transfer, a lot of missionaries that I am good friends with will be finishing their missions, so it was really fun to see them get up and bear testimony.   It made me just so thankful for my mission because it gave me a small idea of the change that is happening in my life as I saw what amazing people they had become.  I'm ever so thankful that I am able to serve around such awesome elders and sisters that have helped my testimony to grow, and I am grateful to know that I still have a whole nine months of mission to keep learning and growing during.

As our mission is so focused on the Doctrine of Christ, I've been trying to study it more.  I have a Book of Mormon that I've been marking each part of the Doctrine of Christ in a different color.  Faith is marked in yellow, repentance in green, baptism in blue, the gift of the Holy Ghost in pink, and enduring to the end in orange.  In this specific Book of Mormon, I'm in 1 Nephi since I just started.  One thing I noticed is how much Nephi talks about faith.  That's just Nephi's thing--he is super faithful.  There are the other parts of the Doctrine of Christ in Nephi, but I feel like I could almost dip the entire book of Nephi in yellow and call it good.  I was thinking about that, and I realized a cool overarching theme of the Book of Mormon.  From 1 Nephi to Jacob, it's pretty safe to say that faith is the main theme.  Then as Enos begins keeping a record, he starts by praying for a remission of sin, then King Benjamin calls his people to repent, and you have the story of King Noah and those who don't repent, and eventually Alma the Younger who had a HUGE experience in repentance.  After that, Alma the Younger and others begin going to teach others and invite many souls to accept the Savior's invitation to be baptized.  That theme continues all the way through Helaman.  Then as the other Nephi and Lehi come along, you begin seeing the experiences that happen with the Gift of the Holy Ghost, including the Savior coming and giving the Holy Ghost to his disciples that He calls from the Nephites.  Finally, as more and more people become wicked, Mormon and Moroni teach us about enduring to the end.  When no one is left but them, they still "will not deny the Christ" (Moroni 1).  They continue to do what is right until they finish the work God gave them.  As I realized that, I realized that among all the intricate and complex story lines, the Book of Mormon ultimately is a story of the Doctrine of Christ.  This is just another testimony to me that it is divinely inspired and that it does contain the fullness of the Gospel.  I'm thankful for it.  I know it is true, and I am excited to continue learning all I can.  I love each of you so much and am more grateful for you than I could ever express!  Until next week!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

Saving the duck

Sister Johnson and I with our duck rescuing friend

I got to hold a snake.

Top Golf on P-Day​​

Monday, February 20, 2017

Don't Crash!

Hi Family!

I totally forgot that last week was Valentine's Day because that just doesn't exist in a missionary brain, so happy belated Valentine's Day!  And I guess it's President's Day now, so it must be fun to have the day off school.  I only remember that because it's a day that the library is closed, so we had to find somewhere else to email.

I guess I forgot to tell y'all about Sister Johnson because I figured I already know her, so obviously everyone else does too.  Sister Johnson is from Maryland, and sometimes we switch places when we tell people where we are from so she gets to see how Utah missionaries are responded to, and I get to see what it is like to be from Maryland.  Pretty much everyone resonds with, "Oh! What part?  I've been to Baltimore once!"  Sister Johnson is not from Baltimore.  She's from a town called Fredrick. She went to BYU-I for five semesters before she came on her mission, and guess what?  She also has three little sisters!  She is just missing the little brother and then we'd be the same.  Sister Johnson and I have a lot of fun singing Les Miserables because we have deemed it "mission appropriate".  She sings Javert's part, and I get to be Val Jean.  We have a blast together, and she is a really hardworking missionary.  I love her a lot!

This week has been absolutely nuts.  Last Monday, one of the sisters we live with, Sister Foster, crashed her bike, flew over her handle bars, and now has a sprain in her leg.  We wanted to make sure Sister Burden, her companion, didn't have to stay inside for the whole week that Sister Foster wasn't supposed to put weight on her leg, so we've been taking turns so we all get to go out and work.  Don't worry, I used my inside time very productively because I can now play the Banjo.  Obviously, I could be better at chords, but I can play one hymn.

When Sister Johnson and I were both able to work in our area, we had a pretty exciting week.  We have been focusing on finding friends to teach.  We met Jason again.  I met Jason when I was first in this area.  He was the one that wanted proof and was very skeptical.  Don't hold your breath because we are not teaching him, but I did get to ask him how his Book of Mormon reading went.  He did read from it, but unfortunately, he's not interested in learning more right now.  It was nice to know what had happened, though.

We also had a nine-year-old boy complain that "all missionaries ever talk about is Jesus".  Sounds like a real struggle, eh?  It made me happy to know that he's met missionaries that know their purpose.

Nicole is doing well.  We are just reading the Book of Mormon with her and she absolutely loves it. It makes me so happy.  If you could pray for Rachel and Alex, though, I would really appreciate that. Well, that's all I have for this week.  I love you!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

Missionary Lunch between church meetings

We had a lot of rain this week

Sister Irvin's Lemon Dress

After we would knock on a door, these kids would knock on the same door to offer service.  It was the cutest.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Nine Months and Just Learning the BASICS

Hello Family!

Miracles have not ceased among the children of men because the mission is buying toilet paper for us now!  Missions are already crazy, so it makes me really happy when I don't have to worry about the little things.  I almost cried.

I could just end my email there because I'm so happy, but I won't because that was just a minor detail in the miracle called this last week.

As you know, transfers were coming up.  We were all speculating who was going where, who would train, etc. and I got the nicest indirect compliment.  Sister Irvin said that President had mentioned an idea to her about who would train the incoming missionaries.  He thought it would be good to split up the Sister Training Leader companionships and have Sister Irvin, Sister Allison, and Sister Sprouse all train so that "we would have three solid missionaries". I liked that plan because it would mean that I'd have a "sister" if Sister Sprouse trained again.  Then it hit me: President said Sister Sprouse trains solid missionaries, and I was trained by Sister Sprouse.  It was a happy little confidence boost.

President decided to go a different direction with the incoming missionaries, so I am still an "only child".  However, transfers were still exciting.  I had been guessing that I would get Sister Sorenson, my MTC companion.  She went down to Bella Vista Zone as a new STL (Sister Training Leader) and is training a brand new missionary, so I'm excited and overwhelmed for her.  BUT I did get a throwback to the MTC because now I get to be companions with Sister Johnson!!

We always joked in the MTC about what would happen if we were companions, but we never thought it would actually happen.  Sister Johnson screamed the most delighted scream when she realized we would be companions, and I could not have been happier.

Our first week together was jam-packed with teaching and miracles-- and lots of fun.  We got to do service for an older gentleman and picked fruit from his tree.  I kept climbing the tree to pick the fruit.

We had a lesson with our new friend Ashley.  She removed her records from the church several years ago and realized how much was missing without the Gospel of Jesus Christ in her life.  We got to know her and she just wants to be baptized so badly.  She feels like she doesn't remember much, but she does have a solid testimony of repentance.  We just have to coordinate with the Stake President when she can get baptized so we can get that going for her.

This week with Nicole, we did some more getting to know her so we can try to understand where her concern lies.  I was planning on just jumping in to trying to resolve what I thought her concern was, but Sister Johnson felt that we should ask her more questions to understand her background and testimony.  This is why we have companions.  What I thought would turn into something really complicated actually turned out to be that we just need to help her see how much our Heavenly Father loves her.  We read the Book of Mormon with her and she absolutely LOVES it.  We are going to continue to read with her and testifying of God's love for her.

A huge miracle that happened this week was we stopped by a family we've been meaning to see for a while.  They have older kids who were waiting for their dad to be able to baptize them, so we wanted to offer to just teach them in the mean time.  However, we went over earlier this week, and they set up an appointment with us and said they are wanting to get Cali and Tristin baptized by April.  We have our first lesson with them on Thursday.

We've continued teaching the missionary lessons to active members and I never thought it would be as wonderful of an experience as it has been.  I've gotten to know so many families that I otherwise would not have known, and it gives us a chance to repeatedly bring missionary work to the forefronts of their minds.  We had a lesson with the Love Family this week (and I just LOVE the Love Family).  We taught them the first lesson, which is the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  At the end, we invite each family we do this with to make a family mission plan because if this message is true, and it is, we want to make sure we are providing opportunities to share it.  I felt prompted to ask a question that Sister Miller would ask that I really liked.  I asked them, "Who have you always wanted to share the Gospel with?"  Sister Love started telling us about her brother who has lost his testimony, and her sister-in-law is so devastated that she can't even bring herself to tell her son on a mission that his dad is not going to church.  It was a tender experience, and my heart was just going out to this family.  We got to talk about it and shared some experiences, and ultimately we realized that the only thing they could do that could ever help is to love the brother because "charity never faileth".  I felt the Spirit testify so strongly of that truth. I knew that loving him wouldn't mean he'd immediately return, but I do know that the love they show will not fail in the eternal view our Heavenly Father has. In that way, "charity never faileth".

We also finished the third missionary lesson with the Kokona Family.  The third missionary lesson is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In this lesson, we talk about faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  Guys, I've been absolutely blind because I realized that this is my favorite lesson, and for the last nine months, I thought it was a drag.  Elder Nelson taught, "We need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ," and now I finally understand why.  In that lesson, we talked about how the Gospel or Doctrine of Christ is the way that leads us to Christ, who is the "Living Water", like He was teaching the woman at the well.  The Gospel of Christ is evidence of His individual love for us as shown symbolically when He raised Jarius' daughter from the dead (i.e. raising us from spiritual death), and He gives us the opportunity to become clean again and again and again through Him if we continue to rely on Him.  It is the perfect example of just how much He loves us and I didn't get it.  This is why my purpose is to invite others unto Christ by helping them receive the restored Gospel through FAITH in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, REPENTANCE, BAPTISM, receiving the Gift of the HOLY GHOST, and ENDURING TO THE END.  This is why I am counseled to teach the Doctrine of Christ in EVERY lesson.  It's because it's the only thing that will help us understand why God wants us to change.  It's because He loves us, and like I learned with the Loves, "charity NEVER faileth".  That's why this is so central.  God wants us to try again because He loves us.  I know that is true.  I wish I could have learned that nine months ago, and I plan to remember that for not only my remaining nine months, but for the rest of my life.  I love the Gospel and I love my Savior who makes it so I can be with my Family forever! I love you all!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

We went ice skating for P-Day

Tree Climbing


Monday, February 6, 2017

The Lemon Dress

Hi Family Mine!

This week in the life of Sister Sabey, I told a member that I love quesadillas, so their ten year old insisted on making me a quesadilla.  Actually, he made me four. So that happened.

Transfer News: The "Two Transfer Curse" has been broken, and I am staying in Highland for a third transfer.  Sister Miller, on the other hand, is getting ready to leave her greenie area, so I will be getting a new companion on Wednesday.  We have been absolutely busy.  We've had so many teaching appointments with active families and even a few investigators that we don't have time to fit everyone in during a week.  It's awesome! I love getting to teach.

We have one, potentially two new friends.  Both were being taught by Elders, but they wanted to be taught by sisters, so we are getting to help.  Our friend that we made this week is named Nicole.  She already has a testimony of the Book of Mormon, it's really just helping her make good friends in her area and that will help her see just how much the Gospel of Jesus Christ allows her to reach beyond what she ever thought could be her full potential.  We are also meeting with Ashley this upcoming week, so news to come on that.  The trick for us will be coordinating with leadership that we don't know since neither or them are actually in our area.

This week was filled with funny moments, so I'm going to talk about that.  At the old folks home this week, I was talking to a lady named Opal.  She's the one that yodels.  She is so sweet and her memory loss is extremely advanced.  It's so sad, but she's awful fun to talk to.  She asked if she could sleep at my house, so I told her she could and that we could make waffles in the morning.  Then she asked me "What's a waffle?"  Turns out, it's harder to explain what a waffle is than I thought.  Some other people there asked if one of the Elders was my brother.  I asked if he was behaving himself and they told me no.  I love the old folks home.

If I haven't told y'all, I don't particularly like praying in front of groups.  At church in one of our wards, our ward mission leader always asks whether it's my turn or Sister Miller's turn to say the prayer.  It's always Sister Millers turn.  He finally caught onto the fact that I say that, so now he's started insisting it's always my turn to pray and then laughs at me.  So this time, I thanked Heavenly Father for "these people that I put up with" and then asked Heavenly Father to "bless Brother Ethridge to have a good time watching the Super Bowl".  He said it was his favorite prayer.

I hope those stories were enjoyable.  If not, here is my favorite funny story of the week.  Sister Irvin has a lemon dress.  She got it at Goodwill for $7 at the beginning of her mission, so the entire mission knows it as "Sister Irvin's Lemon Dress".  Some of the sisters in her zone (she's in Higley zone) wanted her to wear it last Tuesday to a zone meeting, but it was dirty.  She promised to wear it on Friday.  So on Friday, she texts those sisters and asks, "Hey, did you still want me to wear the lemon dress?"  A few minutes goes by, and I guess they had tried to text Sister Irvin earlier to remember to wear it.  They texted back and said, "Oh no... We sent that to Elder Ashton."  Now, Elder Ashton is the "Fleet Coordinator" in the mission, so he is in charge of cars and bikes.  He and his wife are a senior couple, and he is stricter than strict.  To describe how he is with driving, Sister Irvin puts it, "If you are going to even think about getting behind the wheel, you had better have Jesus in your soul." And on top of that, Elder Ashton will completely sass anyone about anything.  You do not want to get on Elder Ashton's bad side.  So in the early hours of Friday morning, Elder Ashton received a text that said, "Don't forget to wear the lemon dress!! :)"

Now onto miracles:  Kyle committed to at least praying about a baptism date!  We also met a family that our bishop has been wanting us to see for ever.  They never answer the door, but we were finally able to meet them, and set up a return appointment.

One night we were having a particularly hard time finding motivation, so Sister Miller and I decided to try something that Sisters Irvin and Angeloudis had done that they said worked.  We did five push-ups with claps in between and then went out to work.  They said after they did it, they saw miracles.  Well.... it actually ended up being more like five attempted flops that left me flat on my face, but I guess the Lord wasn't judging the quality of my pushups because we still saw miracles.  We met another family that never answers, set up a return appointment, and got a phone number to confirm with them before we come.

We also have a member of our ward who I've been worrying about.  She's a recent convert and she only speaks Portuguese.  I learned that one of the Spanish sisters in the mission can speak Portuguese as well as one or two ladies in that ward, so we decided to set something up so we could get to know her a little better.  Sister CedeƱo was super excited to speak Portuguese again, so we got to know her.  I found out that the member, Roberta, understands Spanish.  Now I can at least talk to her in both of us speaking broken Spanish at church.  She seems very lonely, so that was nice.

There is another member of our ward who is coming back to church and we finally got to go have a lesson with her.  We have been teaching members the Restoration lesson to get them excited about missionary work, so that's what we did with Melissa.  It was a great lesson, and her testimony is solid.  But she has a six year old daughter who was bouncing off the walls and would completely ignore Melissa when she told her daughter to stop.  It was really frustrating because I didn't know how to help and I wanted it to be a good experience.  We got through the lesson the best we could and then we got to the First Vision (Joseph Smith History 1:16-17).  President Nattress said that the Spirit always came so strongly when he would quote the First Vision. I hadn't had a super powerful experience with it, but it always invited the Spirit.  So I would continue to quote it.  That night, however, when I quoted it, the little girl actually sat down and for those twenty seconds was completely attentive.  After, she was back to goofing off, but even so, it wasn't as disruptive to the lesson.  There is power in simple declarations of truth, and I am so happy I got to witness that.

I love you so much family!  I pray for you every day.  I hope you are all doing well, and I can't wait to hear from you.  Until next week!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

January in Arizona

 I gave a horse a bath and then braided its tail

 My high score is 20