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