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.