Friday, December 25, 2015

Week 28: Merry Christmas!

I can't believe Christmas is this week!!  It really is the best time of  the year!  Being a missionary is so awesome, but being a missionary at Christmastime is amazing!  It has gotten quite a bit colder here, but this week it’s supposed to warm up.  One of the members told us it is supposed to be 78 degrees on Christmas!   This week we said goodbye to Sister Manzer at transfers.  It was so fun to spend two transfers with all four of us together in the apartment!  She is really awesome!  We got a brand new sister in the apartment and she is really great too! 

We spent part of the transfer day helping one of our investigators pack up her apartment.  It’s sad because she is moving out of our area, but she said, "It’s so weird because when I ask for help ya'll actually come and you work hard, it’s so refreshing!" Haha, that is one thing that growing up in the church has taught me, to work!  We helped paint her house the next day, which was a lot of fun!  A sister from the PTC ward came and helped us because she flips houses for a living and it was so fun.  I felt like I was apart of one of those HGTV shows!  On Monday we had FHE with C and her kids, and a family from the ward.  We decorated Ginger Bread houses and had a little lesson!  It was a lot of fun, and it was funny to see the kids go crazy with the decorations!  It amazes me how awesome the families are in our ward are (and I’m sure all over the world).  It has become so obvious to me that the gospel is the glue that keeps families together and helps them work in unity.  I feel like my mission has helped me understand so many different parts of the gospel in so much greater depth, that sounds kind of weird, but it really has!  Missions are great, if anyone is on the fence about going on a mission I would wholeheartedly tell them to go because it will change who you are for the better.  Okay done with that, but for real, missions are awesome!

This week we went to Mission Leadership Council, and it was so awesome!  I sort of felt out of place being with the leadership of the mission, but now those are shoes Sister Barrett and I will do our best to fill!  Speaking of shoes, it was really cool because we all took our shoes off as we came in, and as all of us stood up and bore a brief testimony, President and Sister Foote were in the back shining all of our shoes.  They really are such amazing people!  The council was awesome, and I always feel so uplifted when I hear the testimonies of other missionaries! We went to a member’s house this week for dinner, got there a little early, and took their daughter with us caroling to the neighbors.  It was so cool to see the smile on everyone’s face as we sang!  Not because we have good voices- because we really don't, like at all- but because as we sang about Christ, the spirit was there!   It was so fun, and then after we ate dinner with them we stood around the piano and sang Christmas songs.  Who knew I could grow to love singing?  We also had the opportunity to serve at the Food Bank this week, and it was really neat to see so many different organizations come in.  After we gave them all their food I guess it’s tradition to send them off with a prayer.  It was really cool to hear so many different prayers and ways of praying!  Service really is the best!  Yay for Christmas and for service!  

  Saying goodbye to Sister Manzer

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Week 27: Elder Holland in Atlanta!

Hearing Elder Holland speak to us this week was one of the highlights of my mission so far!  It was such an incredible experience.  He spoke to all of the women 18 and up in the stakes in and surrounding Atlanta on Friday night.  We had to attend a broadcast because the building was so full!  Then on Saturday morning he spoke to our mission and the Atlanta North mission.  He has such a powerful spirit, and he was hilarious!  It was so cool to see him so unscripted and speaking from his heart. Our investigator, Mary, went Friday night to hear him speak and absolutely loved it!  She sat with Sister Foote- they have really connected and have become great friends!  The main things that I took away from hearing Elder Holland was that no matter what we experience in this life we are promised that it will all work out in the end, so we need to trust rather than worry!  As disciples of Christ we are doing our best to become like Him, and we can't become like Him if we don't experience heartache and trials. When we look at the Savior's life and see all that he had to go through it makes what we go through seem like nothing.  We are so lucky because we have His promise that He will help us every step of the way!  He quoted someone who I can't exactly remember but I really liked the quote. He said, "Endure and save yourself for days of happiness ahead.”

When he spoke to the missionaries it was so powerful!!! I could go on and on but I don't have enough time to write it all.  He basically said that too many people don't keep moving forward after their missions, and we need to always be progressing in the gospel no matter what stage of life we are in!  We got to sit on the front row and the Spirit was so strong in that meeting!  It was funny because the Atlanta North mission was there and I saw this sister that I recognized but I couldn't remember from where, and as we started talking we realized that she works at the craft store that I would always go to in Rexburg!  Haha, I spent so much time there no wonder we recognized each other!

We had an awesome lesson with Mary at our mission presidents house this week!  President and Sister Foote both bore such powerful and strong testimonies that Sister Barrett and I pretty much were speechless because how could we follow that?  Mary is so amazing and has so much courage and such a strong testimony of the gospel!

On Sunday we felt such an outpouring of love from the ward!  A recent convert who got baptized the week before I got here gave Sister Barrett and I a nail kit.  It was so funny because he is an older brother who loves hunting, camo, and anything to do with guns.  He was like, "I don't ever shop for women but I know ya'll don't get to go home for Christmas so here you go."  It was the sweetest thing ever!  The Miamaids gave us a 12 days of Christmas gift to open every day till Christmas!  This ward is the best!  I am so grateful I get to stay here next transfer too!  We got the call this morning saying we are going to be STL's next transfer, and Sister Barrett and I are excited/freaking out!  It should be an adventure! 

We visit a member of the ward who has some serious health problems, and we had a neat experience while she was doing a breathing treatment.  We were singing Christmas songs to her (somehow the Spirit was there even though Sister B and I don't have great singing voices) and it was one of those moments where you know that God exists and is watching out for His children.  It is sort of hard to describe, but it was such a cool moment for me!

Lastly, we had such a cool opportunity on Sunday to go around with a member of the ward.  This sweet, older lady took us to all of her neighbors and we gave each of them "The Living Christ" for Christmas and shared a little bit about the church with them!  She is what I want to be like when I am 75!  She is such an awesome member missionary!  Each of us play a part in moving the work forward, and they are all different but so important.  Looking forward to another great week!  Thanks for all of the prayers and support!  Love you!   

 So excited to get my Christmas box

   Look at this Winter weather!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Week 26: Loving this Winter Weather in Georgia!

Winter in Georgia is becoming my favorite season!  It’s sunny and warm outside in December - love it!  It will be a little weird not having snow at Christmas, but while we are out biking I really appreciate the no snow factor!  At the beginning of the week we went to the Allgiers for part of P-day (they are the area medical advisers for nine missions in the South, and they live in the complex down the street from us).  We did cross stitch and visited with them.  It took me back to the days of 4H - it was great!  I feel so lucky to be serving a mission now, and after spending the day with them it makes me so excited to serve a mission when I am old too!  I mean who could say no to the cutest little grandmas and grandpas ever?? 

On Tuesday we had a lesson with one of our investigators who has been meeting with missionaries for 3 years... and we talked about how God is our loving Heavenly Father (going back to the basics).  It was amazing to feel the Spirit so strongly.  She talked about the role that Heavenly Father has played in her life, and then we watched the Mormon Message, "Earthly Father, Heavenly Father" (I think that’s what it’s called).  It was so cool for her to realize that we are all part of such a grand plan! The gospel is so amazing in helping us look at the bigger picture.   We then taught a lesson to a lady that we found as we were looking for a less active member who had moved out of the apartment that she is now living in.  We were with a member from the ward, and she started talking about different angels in her life who have helped her when she was having a bad day.  She made the comment, "You two were angels for me the day you came and asked to say a prayer with me!"  There is no doubt that Heavenly Father puts people in our path.

We volunteered on Thursday at an Elementary school for the afternoon and helped set up Santa's work shop, a place where the kids can go in and buy presents for a good deal and give them as Christmas gifts!  A lady in the PTC ward sets it up every year so we were able to help her out by setting it all up!  There are so many kids that go to that school that live in our apartment complex, and they all came running up to hug us yelling, "Hi Sisters!"  Little kids are the best!  On Sunday we watched the Christmas Devotional with the Fayetteville sisters at the church.  They told me the funniest story: one of our young investigators went marching into his school class and said, "Do you know Sister Hunter? Sister Hunter loves Jesus- she loves everyone!"  He was telling the teacher and kids this and he had no idea she was a member. 

On Friday we did exchanges!  It was awesome!  I stayed here and Sister Barrett went to Griffin.  Sister Augusto came and spent the day with me.  She is from Mozambique and is such a powerful sister!  She joined the church a few years ago and, after graduating college, came on a mission!  She is the only member in her family and her dad is a Baptist preacher back home!  It was so amazing to hear her bear testimony of the Book of Mormon to so many people!  She is so wonderful, and I felt like I learned so much from her!  We visited Sister Hancock who is the sweetest lady in the world.  She grew up in Alabama and has such a thick accent.  She is pretty much deaf, and so as Sister Augusto would talk (yell), I would have to yell the translation because she couldn't understand her accent!  It was hilarious, and I wish I could have gotten a recording of it!  We sang in every lesson that day.   We all know my voice is uniquely bad, but regardless, Sister Augusto played the guitar and we sang multiple songs in every lesson!  We went to lunch with a member at a country club and she had never seen people playing golf before, so that was fun to see her experience that for the first time!  At our dinner appointment we met their son who had just gotten back from serving a mission in Brazil and was companions with Sister Augusto's best friend from back home... such a small world!  I just smiled and nodded my head as they went back and forth in Portuguese.  

It was a wonderful week, and feeling the spirit of Christmas is the best thing!! I hope all of you are enjoying this Christmas season and the joy that comes because of Christ!  Elder Holland is coming to speak to us on Friday, and we are all freaking out!  Love you and have a great week! 

 Christmas is coming!

 P day with the Allgiers

 Volunteering at Santa's Workshop

What a great day with Sister Augusto!

Sister Hancock

Monday, November 30, 2015

Week 25: Tis the Season for Service!

We did a lot of service this week which was really fun!  We helped a member clean out her whole basement, and it was a big task!  She has two dogs that she absolutely loves and prepares gourmet meals for! She reminds me of Nana in that way! She fed us dinner and seemed to really appreciate our efforts.  We spent an afternoon at the Hind’s making pies for Thanksgiving. We made a pecan pie, pumpkin pie, banana cream pie, and apple pie.  It’s great getting to know different ward members – I’ve learned something from each one of them!

Thanksgiving was a big day.  We ate at the Hind's house and it was really nice!  We had cranberry sauce, and they thought I was crazy because I had never had it with turkey before.  I told them we always serve gravy with our turkey, and they said, “what, are you from Mars?”  I guess cranberry sauce is a big deal in the South!  They read out of a gratitude box that they had been adding to for the whole month of November.  I love Thanksgiving because it’s a great reminder of all that we have to be grateful for.  In Sunday school we talked about being grateful through times of trial, and I love that having a grateful heart no matter what is going on in our lives can make us happy!  Brother Hind was saying how grateful he was that his family moved all the way across the country with him for his job.  He said, "Here we are on Thanksgiving, all alone- well I guess we have the sisters here, but that is because they are all alone too"!  It gave us all a pretty good laugh, but it is a wonderful thing that no matter where you go you will have a ward family. 

We ate at an investigators house later that night, and it was so fun to be able to sit down and just really talk with them!  Their family moved here to Atlanta from NYC and it was so cool being able to hear all of their experiences.  It’s amazing to see how different life experiences help us grow spiritually whether we realize it or not.  Well, I missed being with all of you at Thanksgiving, but I’m treasuring each new experience I’m having.  I’m thankful for each one of you, and I love you!

Love, Sister Hunter

 Moriah is just about ready to leave on her mission!

 Loving learning how to bake pies!

 This is one incredible lady and incredible Mom.

Cleaning out a members basement!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Week 24: Another Great Week!

I can't believe it is almost Thanksgiving!  I feel like it was Halloween yesterday.  It has been getting quite a bit colder and the leaves are absolutely beautiful!  I need to get better at taking pictures.  We went to the temple on Tuesday and had Zone Training!  It is always such a highlight to be able to attend the temple. It is one of the few places where I can feel totally at peace.  We had a device put in our car that tracks how fast we drive and gives us warnings and different things if we go too fast.  I am pretty sure we are one of the last missions to get them. I guess it is a good thing though! They said there have been a lot fewer car accidents since they have started putting them in mission cars. 

We had some great lessons this week!  We had the opportunity to teach a man who had been taught by other missionaries in the past.  He actually stopped us in the grocery store.  He is hilarious!  It is so interesting to hear so many different views about the gospel.  He was telling us about a theory in which Moroni was an alien and all this crazy stuff.  Hearing all these absurd things people think about the church has been very interesting, and I am really grateful for the testimony that I have.  When people try to tell us differently it has no affect on me because of the truths that I already know.  He expressed to us that he feels like there is just something missing in the church that he attends now, and he is excited to read the Book of Mormon!  Hopefully he will! 

We were also able to teach our investigator that came to church last week.  We read the first chapter of 1st Nephi with her, and she loved it!  We got talking about how we are all so different, how Laman and Lemuel are so different from Nephi, and how as a mother she can see so many differences in her kids.  It is so cool that we can relate the scriptures to our lives. We went over on Sunday to wish her daughter a happy birthday.  She just turned four, and she is the sassiest little girl I have ever met!  Right before we left she got all up in her brothers face (who is like 3 years older than her) and was all "You betta shut yo mouth boy!"  I was dying, haha, she is hilarious!  I feel so lucky that I get to be part of so many amazing peoples lives! 

Some of the verses that I have been thinking a lot about this week are in chapter 18 of 1st Nephi.  I love reading about Nephi and his family because I feel like I always pick up something new.  I love 18:21 - I have been able to see that when I try to rely on myself I feel anxious, worried, and stressed.  When I rely on the Lord I am able to feel that "great calm,” knowing that I am His, and that He won’t give me a challenge that I can’t overcome.  Missionary work would be impossible without the help of the Lord.  I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Love, Sister Hunter 

  This is a Pepper Plant that an older man gave to us after we stopped and talked to him when we were riding our bikes. He didn't want to learn about the gospel, but he gave us this plant!  

Our temple trips are the best!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Week 23: You are Called to be YOU!

This week has been great!  We had a Sisters Conference on Thursday- it was so fun to see all of the sisters I've been companions with!  It was cool to be with just the sisters and to really get to know one another.  Sister Foote said, "God doesn't compare us.  He loves us because we are His."  I loved that because sometimes it is easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves to other missionaries.  It was a really good reminder!  One of the sisters said, "The only person we should compare ourselves to is who we were yesterday.”  Another thing that I loved was when President Foote said, "You are called to be YOU!"  I love that because every one has different strengths and weaknesses, and that is the way God made us! 

After the conference I got to go on splits with Sister Nau, and it was SOOO awesome!  It seriously was so cool to be back together!  We are still holding out hope that one day we will be companions again. We went with Moriah, a girl from the ward who is about to leave on her mission, and taught one of our investigators, (the older lady I wrote about last week), and it was such a cool experience.  Seeing how much we have both grown since being out here on our mission was so awesome.  Spending the day with Sister Nau was one of the best parts of the week! 

Sister Barrett and I taught one of our investigators on Saturday, and we talked about the Plan of Salvation.  She has five little kids, and it was amazing to see how much it meant to her to know that she could be with them forever.  It is so amazing to see the joy that the gospel can bring into peoples lives!  They came to church the next day and she was like, "Normally I feel like the odd person out with all of these kids, but everyone jumped in and helped me out like it was so normal!"  It is so great how the gospel can bring a whole new light into someone’s life.  

On Saturday there was a huge stake youth activity at the new stake center.  There was a crazy police chase that started all the way in Douglasville, and the fugitives ended up running into the church.  I guess they ended up being locked in a room and the cops were called.  The police came, there was some shooting, and I guess (and I’m not surprised) that it really freaked out all the youth!  There was a girl in the ward who invited her friend and she was like, "She probably never wants to come back!"  Haha, it was good that they were all safe though!  They weren't allowed to have church there the next day because they needed to investigate more, so the YSA combined with our ward and it was so fun to see a lot of familiar faces again! 

We had an appointment yesterday right after church, and our Relief Society president drove us out there. Our investigator ended up not being there! Our RS president said something that was so profound to me. I think she may have been quoting Elder Holland, "The work of salvation wasn't easy when Christ was on the earth, why would it be any easier now?"  I loved that because it is so true!  She is a great lady.  I love being a missionary - the good, the bad, the funny, the sad, and the happy.  It is all part of the experience!  Thanks for all of the love and prayers and support from home - it keeps me going! 

 Going on splits - loved being back with Sister Nau!

Yes, it is possible to ride bikes in skirts!