Jan 23, 2012


 Its been over a month and a half now, and I could probably go on all day about the events that have taken place since that memorable day I stepped off the plane. But I don't have all day.  Even if I did have all day, I don't feel the necessity to share every little detail.  Therefore, I'll make my return to the blogger world short and sweet.  Here's to being home:


Ok, I realize this list wasn't all that short.  But here is a summary of my past month and a half in pictures.  Family, babies, mission friends, home friends, grandparents, Brock, Christmas, temples, California, and now back to school at Utah State.  Life is stressful and wonderful. So many decisions to make, new and old things to wrap my head around, sometimes a bit of overwhelming, but I am happy.

Nov 26, 2011

last assignment: Fulton

Fulton, TN & KY... August-November 2011

"During our last few weeks of traveling, Sister Turner and I suggested to President McKee (our new mission president) that he put full-time missionaries in Fulton ward.  It was our busiest area while we were traveling, and we both felt like it needed more time and attention than we could give it.   We figured President would take our advice and send some elders to Fulton, and we told him they needed to be really good elders!  Well, he took our advice, but rather than sending elders.. he sent us!  We handed our traveling area book and phone over to the new traveling elders, and filled them in on everything that was happening.  We then took our car and drove to Fulton..without a phone, area book. or apartment. And thus began the final adventure.

"The past week has been pretty chaotic.  Fulton is about three hours away from the mission home, and we cover one of the largest areas in the mission. This ward covers six counties! We stayed with Mike and Lou Place in Sharon, TN for about ten days until we found our own apartment in Union City, TN.  As Sister Turner and I were riding bikes back from the library today, we passed some commercial landscapers working on a cemetary.  We waved as we passed, and a few minutes later I heard a lawn mower coming up behind me..and someone whistling from that lawn mower.  I didn't slow down until he was right beside me and he motioned for me to stop.  It was a guy who was close to my age, and he yelled over the sound of the mower, "Hey! Can I get your number?"  Haha.. I wasn't sure how to respond, so I just told him that I am a full-time missionary, and the only way I could give him my phone number was if he was willing to read the Book of Mormon and would let us teach him more about it.  He looked a little disappointed but he took the book and said he'd read it.  Only in Tennessee would a sister missionary riding a bike in a skirt and dorky helmet get chased down and picked up on on by a guy on a riding lawnmower.

"This is Sister Turner's last week in the field, and every day leading up to today has been pretty miserable.  Almost every one of our appointments have bonked; everyone has been sick,  experiencing tragedies, or simply not wanting to see us.  Its been 99 degrees outside, and flat out miserable.  But today was our "eleventh hour".. and thank heavens God came to our rescue.  First of all, it was rainy and dropped down to 80 degrees.. what a blessing.  Our meeting at church today was incredibly spiritual, and some people we've been teaching came to church for the first time.  While we were at church, we were asked by Sister Duke to come and teach her grandson Garrett in order to prepare him for baptism.  After years of coming to church with his grandma, Garretts parents finally consented to let him be baptized, and we have the opportunity to teach him.  After church we had some very spirit-led lessons and were asked by several different people if they could learn more about our church.  Miracle Sunday.

"I have been so busy that I didn't even mention the fact that I'm training again!  Her name is Sister Nalder and she is from Alberta, Canada.  Sister Nalder and I have had a great three days so far, and are getting along well.  Michael and Ginger, and couple who I've been teaching for a few months now, are ready to be baptized next weekend, and I am so excited!  I sure have grown to love this couple.  Unfortunately they moved to Tennessee right after we finished teaching them all of the lessons, but luckily they still want to have their baptism here in Fulton!  I am so thankful for how humble they are, and willingly they follow Jesus Christ.

"I am loving the people here more and more each day..especially the ones we are teaching.  This evening Sister Nalder, Sister Jasper (who is staying with us for a few weeks until she's assigned a new companion) and I went to our friend Mary's house to help her with her daughter's birthday party.  We didn't know most of the people there, but everyone was so welcoming and sweet to us.  The party was a success, and we had so much fun!  Mary is one of my favorite people we teach, and so far everyone we've met from her family just treats us like a part of the family.  They have such strong faith in Christ, and their foundation of the Bible has allowed them to accept and understand the Book of Mormon quite easily.  I feel very blessed to be able to share it with them.

"My life is moving much too quickly right now, and I really just wish I could slow it down!  The events of my last transfer as a full-time missionary have been simultaneously chaotic and wonderful.  We have done so much traveling, preparing, and teaching.  Every time things get a bit hard or frustrating, the Lord steps in and pours miracles and blessings into our laps. Two of the men we've tried to teach without much success have shared with us visions and promptings they've received from the spirit which have allowed them to listen to and accept the message we share.  Sometimes I feel so undeserving of the miracles, but they motivate me to continue working and serving the Master.  I know without a doubt that this is His work, His errand I've been on for the past year and a half of my life, and I wouldn't give any part of it back. He lives, He loves us, and this is His gospel I share."

Nov 15, 2011

assignment five: traveling

Tompkinsville, Morgantown, Whitehouse, Russelville, Elkton, Princeton, and Fulton... June-July 2011

"Now I am traveling the mission with Sister Turner, going to all the areas that don't have missionaries and teaching the people who need to be taught.  It is a program that President Hutchings started about six months ago and it has been very successful so far.  I am excited to be serving with Sister Turner again!  We had fun last time we served together.  We are living in Hopkinsville, KY with Sister Warwood and Sister McCall.  We don't get to see each other much because Sister Turner and I are never home, but when do see each other we have a blast!

"Traveling is very exhausting so far.  We drive at least four hours every day; its like a never ending roadtrip!  I am constantly praying for an alert mind and eyes so that I don't fall asleep on the road.  It is really cool though because almost all of the people we teach are progressing towards baptism.   Yesterday we had a baptism in Fulton and today we had a baptism in Morgantown.   Sister Larsen taught both of them and was able to come to both baptisms with her parents.. its been a spiritual high all weekend.

"Last night we stayed with the Gallatin sisters (because it was closer to where we were going than our apartment) and we drove out to Tompkinsville this morning.  Tompkinsville is beautiful-so green and forested-but everything is so spread out and hard to find!  While trying to find one particular family, our trusty (or not so trusty) GPS took us on this little gravel road that went straight into someone's private farm.  Sister Turner followed the GPS without giving it second thought, and as we got deeper and deeper into this farm the road became less and less of a road.  We thought it continued, but the barbed wire fence ahead of us (which we may or may not have run straight into) told us otherwise.  It just so happened that the owner of this farm we were driving through was standing twenty yards behind us wondering what in the world we were doing.  Thankfully, he didn't shoot us.. he just shook his head and pointed us in the right direction.  Adventures!

"Things are going so well right now.. we see miracles almost daily in the wonderful world of traveling. We are teaching  many wonderful people and preparing several for baptism in the upcoming weeks.  One of them is Jaret-the younger brother of Jailyn who was baptized in June. Jaret is fifteen and is so easy to teach, he is completely willing to listen and do what it takes to follow the example of Jesus Christ.  We are also teaching a man named Tony, who has been coming to church for months and now feels ready to make the sacred covenant at baptism.  His wife Nancy has been right beside him all the way encouraging him, and every time we are in their home the spirit almost overpowers us.  Such sweet and humble people.. I feel very lucky to know them.

"Tonight was definitely a night to remember.  We are teaching a woman named Phylecia who came to church on Sunday for the first time and absolutely loved it.  She told us that when she walked into the church building "it felt like coming home".  She has been to several different churches throughout her life but never felt like she was where God wanted her to be.  She said while she was attending a certain church, she actually started crying because she knew that truth was not being taught.  We taught her about the Holy Ghost and how it testifies of truth, and she recognizes that what we are teaching is true because she feels the spirit.  She said each time she opens the Book of Mormon it talks about repentance and baptism, and she knows that God is speaking directly to her through its pages.

"One year ago today I left the missionary training center to come to this beautiful  land of Tennessee.  I was anxious and excited but I felt like a foreigner to this place and lifestyle.  Its strange to think that I've been here in Tennessee for a year.  It has been the hardest/craziest/strangest/most interesting and most rewarding year of my life.  I never knew how hard a mission would be, but I would never take it back for anything in the world.  Sacrifice brings blessings, refinement, character, love, and appreciation for all the things God has given me.  It is interesting to look back and recognize the changes that have taken place within myself.  Its hard, but worth it.  Speaking of opposition and changes that are worth it, my friend Emily has been on my mind a lot lately because she is experiencing so much of this.  Her baptism is this Saturday, and it seems like everyone she knows is trying to prevent her from making this step in the right direction.  I feel so bad that she has to go through all of this, but I know the blessings she gets in return will be completely worth it."

Nov 8, 2011

assignment four: Gallatin

Gallatin, TN...May-June 2011

"I'm not exactly sure what is going on in my life right now.  Sister Koford and I are both new to this area, and as of right now we are homeless.  We have been trying to find a permanent place to live, but until then we are staying with members of the Gallatin ward.  Bishop and Sister Wade have been kind enough to let us stay with them until we have an apartment of our own!  Their home is beautiful and they remind me so much of Mom and Dad.  Today we had our weekly planning session out on the patio by their pool...so beautiful!

"What a great day. We are teaching a lady named Angelyn who owns a horse barn out towards Bethpage, and for our service hours this week we asked if we could come help her around the farm.  It was so much fun!  We spent a few hours watering and feeding, cleaning stables, and brushing the beautiful horses.  It feels good to wear jeans for a short period of time and get to do physical work.  Its actually less exhausting than teaching the gospel!  Its fun seeing Angelyn each week because she teaches us about horses, and then in turn we teach her about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Nothing is better than seeing her eyes tear up as we teach her the principles of the restoration.  She feels the spirit so strongly when we teach her, and so do we!

"Tonight we were teaching a lady who told me I have "Jesus in my face."  She said she can tell because I am always smiling.  The elders can't take me seriously when I teach because they say I smirk and it makes them want to laugh. Haha.  I guess the smiling comes off in different ways to different people. 

"Saturday was the best part of last week.  We had a zone conference where President and Sister Hutchings talked about receiving revelation.  A lot of times God wants to reveal things to us through the spirit, but we hold ourselves back from blessings because we neglect to ask.  Had Joseph Smith not asked, he never would have seen the first vision.  Had he never asked, the gospel of Jesus Christ would not have been restored through him.  Each of us are entitled to personal revelation, and God wants to give it to us.  After zone conference we were able to go to Madison where the Nashville Tribute Band was playing.  Jason Deere is the singer/songwriter and he joins with other Mormon musicians to play about the restoration.  It is so spiritual and uplifting; I love it!

"Speaking of music, tonight the wonderful Gallatin ward had a memorial day celebration picnic with a live band of talented members of the church!  It was great.  I really do love these people, and am thankful we were able to make it to the picnic.  It was so hot though!  Not only was it hot, but there was a loud background noise of screaming cicadas.. these nasty little bugs that only come out of the ground every thirteen years to reproduce.  Well, this year they are out and reproducing by the millions!  They are everywhere and cling to everything. It is pretty disgusting but interesting at the same time.

"Tender mercies.. so many tender mercies.  It seems like almost every day we see unexpected blessings. Not just for us, but for the wonderful people we teach.  Sister Koford and I have focused a lot lately on "The Things that Matter Most".. a talk by Elder Uchtdorf.  I know the things that matter most in this life are my relationship with God, my relationship with my family, my relationship with everyone else around me, and my relationship with myself.  The more I focus on my relationship with God, the more everything else falls into place."

Nov 1, 2011

assignment three: Burgess Falls

I don't even know where to begin with this area.  I was there for six months, loved almost every second of it, and saw miracle after miracle take place.  I will do my best to condense some of my favorite journal entries from that time period into a post that I hope will not be too long or tiresome!  Here's to serving with the Burgess Falls ward in Cookeville, TN.

Cookeville, TN...November 2010-May 2011

"I am in Cookeville!  And what a glorious place Cookeville is so far.  We live in a really old apartment on the square, but its cute and I really love it.  Everyone we've met so far has been awesome-so helpful and spiritual.  The second day we were here we had about twelve people from the ward call us saying, "we are SO excited to have Sisters back!  What can we do for you?  Let us know if there's anything you want or need!"  They are so awesome.  They are also really excited about missionary work and want to do everything in their power to help us out.  We feel like we are being extremely spoiled, but we're not complaining!  So far Sister Larsen and I have been invited to seven thanksgiving dinners.. we only said yes to four of them before we started realizing that our stomachs might explode if we accept any more.

"Saturday was really cool. We have been trying extra hard to be obedient and faithful so that we can have the spirit with us more fully and be led to the people God wants us to find. Saturday we saw some results.  After a morning of teaching some former investigators, we were driving past a street where Sister Larsen noticed a lady sitting on a couch on the side of the road.  She felt prompted to turn around and go talk to her.  As we pulled up, we noticed she was crying.  I rolled down the window and told her we were missionaries and asked if we could do anything for her.  She just broke down in sobs and couldn't even talk, so we pulled over and went and sat with her.  Through her sobs she told us that she has just prayed for the first time in ten years she had just prayed asking God if He really was there.  She asked God if he could show her some sign that someone cared about her, and then we pulled up to comfort her and help her get the place she needed to be.  She told us that we were the fastest answer to her prayers she'd ever gotten.  We gave her a Book of Mormon and prayed with her before she left and she said that when we prayed she felt something she'd never felt before in her life.  She was blown away by the miracle that had just taken place.

"Yesterday our friend Wendy came to church for the first time with her cute little boys, and they loved it!  We have been teaching her for about a month, and her faith is really growing.  She loves the Book of Mormon and the things the church teaches, despite the different doctrines she's been taught her whole life.  Damon is another person we're teaching, and basically we met him by a pure miracle.  We prayed and felt very strongly that we needed to be in a certain neighborhood, and the Spirit literally led us straight to his house.  He opened the door with a huge smile on his face and welcomed us in, and since then we have taught him 2-3 times, invited him to come to the Christmas party and to church on Sunday, and he is loving every minute of it.  He called last night just to say thank you and that "this church is bringing the light back into his life"  He loves the Book of Mormon and everything else so far.. its amazing.  I've never met someone so prepared.

"I think the Lord knows that I need an extra boost being away from home at Christmastime.  He has also blessed me by allowing me to help decorate 5 different homes for Christmas ( lights, trees, ornaments, all of my favorite things) and by giving me tons of chocolate from every direction. On Christmas Eve, Sister Larsen and I had our first baptisms here.  Two boys we have been teaching, Dylan and Zach, were baptized in the river behind their house!  Yes, they were baptized in a river on Christmas Eve.  It was freezing cold and we were a little nervous they would get hypothermia from the experience, but they both came out smiling and the ordinance was done beautifully!  What a wonderful Christmas present.

     I love it here.. I don't know if i have mentioned that. This week was kind of crazy but so incredible.  Because Damon, James, Wendy, and Nikki are all getting baptized soon, we had to teach a lot of important (and kind of stressful)  lessons this past week.  We talked a lot about the importance of the covenants they are making, and also taught them all the word of wisdom. All of them love their coffee (or tea or tobacco), and we were worried about asking them to give it up. But miracles are real..we have been praying like crazy for them, have gotten them all priesthood blessings, and lo and behold they have all three been keeping the word of wisdom since we asked them to!  If that's not a miracle I don't know what is.  They all have such strong faith and devotion because they have felt the spirit of this gospel and know that it is true and worth it.  I can't wait to show you pictures of their baptisms next week!    Nothing is better than watching these people who we've worked with and spent countless hours praying for finally take this step to come closer to Jesus Christ.  They are so strong and I admire them so much.

"I am so thankful for Sister Larsen and Sister Warwood.  They are so awesome.  I think the three of us are perfect together, we are a good balance.  Every lesson we've taught lately has been so powerful, and the spirit of God is constantly confirming that this gospel we share is true.  I have been struggling lately with some things from home, but my companions have helped me out so much.  Every time I feel lousy, all I have to do is talk to my companions or teach the gospel, and suddenly I feel at peace again.  Today they found another way to lift my spirits.  As we were driving home from Sparta for our lunch break, Sister Larsen told me she had a surprise for me.  She turned away from our usual route home and stopped at the Burgess Falls trailhead.  We spent our lunch break hiking (yes in our skirts) to the beautiful namesake of our ward.  Only a true friend would know that there was nothing that could bring me more joy than hiking to a waterfall in my skirt!

"Well, I am training again!  Sister Warwood and I will be staying here in Cookeville together, and we are training Sister Jasper from Alaska.  I am so thankful I get another transfer here! I have been out for nine months now, and can't believe how fast time is flying.  Our little trio is working out quite well so far!  I attribute it all to Heavenly Father; he knows I can only handle so much at one time so he's decided to step in and take over for a bit.  He truly is carrying me.  We have been working a lot with less active families in the church lately, trying to help renew their testimonies and bring them back to church.  I love seeing the light reignited as we share basic principles of the gospel, and then see the renewed motivation that accompanies that. We were also able to go to the temple for the first time with Wendy, James, Nikki, and Cordell.. and that was truly a once in a lifetime experience.  How I love to see and be in and feel the power of the temple. 'From small and simple things are great things brought to pass.'

"Basically here is what I have learned in the past few months: God definitely answers prayers and miracles do happen!  You just have to ask, have faith, work hard, and He will take care of the rest!"
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...