Tuesday, August 15, 2017

la ultima carta

Well... this is it. My last email ever as a full time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. How crazy is that!? It has been one rollercoaster from start to finish. In February 2016, I couldn't have even imagined where I would be right now, or who I would be more like it. It is a weird feeling, this has literally been my life, every single day, for 18 months and now it's all over. I have seriously loved every second of it. Even though it wasn't always easy, it was definitely worth it. That sounds so cheesy but it's true. Florida is my second home, and will forever have a giant piece of my heart.

Dang. This is weird, but it's good. God calls us for 18 months and it's over now. But it's okay, because I have truly learned so much. This last week at zone conference we had to give our departing testimonies. I talked about a few things but the biggest one was the biggest lesson I learned on my mission, which was how we can find true joy. There is no greater joy than in living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in keeping His commandments and in serving your fellow men. Charity is so vital and it truly brings us the joy we need in this life! I was so lucky to be able to learn this lesson here in the Florida streets.

I loved all my areas, all my comps, all the sisters I lived with, all my leaders and all the people I got to talk to every single day. There is no way I could count the number of people I have talked to but it's a lot. I am so grateful for every single person I got to share my testimony to, investigators, members, random people. Its been fantastic. On Sunday, right after church, I turned around to see Byron and Liliana and little baby Ethan, my recent converts all the way back from Lauderhill. They drive all the way up here to surprise me and I was so happy to see them! They are in temple prep right now! It was amazing to be able to see them. Ethan is so big, and walking now! When I left that baby was barely 1 1/2 months old! Time flies when you're having fun!

I really don't know what else to say other than my testimony! I know this is Christ's true church and I know He loves us all so much. I have been able to feel that love not only for myself but for every single person I was able to meet. Its an amazing gift to be able to feel that pure love that He has for us. UNREAL. I know that God lives and loves us and that there is so much power in reading the scriptures every day. Even when we don't want to. That's when we need to the most! Read, read, read. and pray, pray, pray. Pray until your knees hurt. Thats the best kind of prayer. I loved being able to pray with a million random people. There is so much power in that. I know the Book of Mormon is true and that as we read it, we can feel His Spirit stronger and stronger. The Holy Ghost is legit. And so good. We should listen to it all the time. I loved this freaking mission. The FFLM is truly amazing. It really is the best mission in the world, I testify of that.

I LOVE YOU ALL. There is no better way to say it. Keep it real. Keep reading. Remember: the Church is true and the Book is blue. South Florida will always mean something special to me. The place that I worked harder than I ever had before, cried, laughed, taught, learned and grew more than I ever thought I could. I loved every stinkin second of it.

1: The Sanchez family.

2: Sister Tilby at zone conference and soon at BYU!

3: I'm going to miss this little family, Freddy and Darlyne.

xoxo, sister cottrell

Monday, August 7, 2017

the final countdown: twins for the win

WOW. WHAT A WEEK. Guys I don't even know where to start, but I just wanted to say, yet again, that I love being a missionary. It is the best thing in the entire world. I don't even know how to describe all the feelings, thoughts and emotions that have gone through my mind these last 18 months and especially this last week. It's a strange feeling but it's good. There is still work to do.

Update on investigators:
-June kinda dropped us because she wants to take it slow with learning about Christ, but we gave her a Chinese Book of Mormon and she was very excited to read it and contact the missionaries later. A solid seed planted.
- Freddy and Darlyne. Our golden couple. They are amazing. They want so badly to change their lives for their young kids and they came to church yesterday and loved it. We have brought some members out with us and they love the church. It has been such a blessing to be able to see the change the Gospel brings into someone's life this last week. You can literally see the countenance change the Spirit brings.

We have some other peeps we're working with and are super pumped to see how they progress as well!

We had interviews with President on Tuesday! He is amazing and so inspired for this time. I just talked with him for like 10 minutes because I will have my hour long final interview with him this week on Wednesday! It's gonna be great. Then, on Wednesday we had an exchange with the PSL sisters and I stayed here in Royal Palm and brought Sister Albrecht here! We ate at Pollo Tropical for her first time and it was amazing. I am going to miss that place.

Friday, we drove all the way down to Ft Lauderdale for MLC and it was amazing. There are some very inspired things coming to the FFLM this next month and I am so grateful I got to be a part of it and see the way these goals are set. So much is done by the Spirit and I am grateful for that.

We met someone named Tuna this week... I am  not even kidding. I also got attacked by mosquitos and drenched myself in bug spray afterwards.

I loved this week. Sister Peterson is my fave and approximately 50 people this week, including Sister Garns, have told us that we look related/like siblings. So twinning is winning. I don't see it but it's all good. You be the judge.

This week is going to be amazing. I can feel the energy and excitement that is coming and all those awesome miracles. It has truly been an amazing 18 month journey and I am so grateful for all I learned. I have truly seen God's hand every single day. Thank goodness for that.

1: My homegirl/soulmate Sister Adams.

2: Face masks and cucumbers for the win.

3: Shoutout to the Brazilians who gave us this boss CD of a Brazilian gospel singer.

4: But then also this CD about the end of the world.

5: When this is on the Bishop's whiteboard during ward council... we don't know why this is so funny but it is.

6&7: Our companionship is a mix of these 2 pictures.

8: When you have to wear a skirt to email at the chapel but don't want to change...

Monday, July 31, 2017

it's august!

Hola hola mi familia! Well tomorrow is August but still. This has been yet another great week in the FFLM. It really is the best place in the world. We saw a LOT of miracles this week and just laughed and had fun the whole time. Missionary work is literally the best thing in the entire world. Also my companion is currently teaching me the "alphabet aerobics" song. If you don't know what it is go watch Daniel Radcliffe sing it on Jimmy Fallon. I am currently on letter H... getting close.

We taught one of the recent converts in our ward, who is 16 years old and asked him what time we could meet with him and he said "Tuesday morning" which is not a problem so we asked "What time is morning for you Anthony?" he goes, "about 1:00...." ANTHONY THAT IS THE AFTERNOON. Anyways it made me laugh. Oh to be a teenager in the summer. We brought one of the young men along who had just gotten back from EFY and he bore an amazing testimony on the power of the scriptures. He talked about how he was never super good at reading his scriptures but now feels like he truly can do it and how making it a habit and part of his routine really helped him! I could really relate to that. We just have to make scripture reading a part of our routine and daily tasks and it becomes easier! So shout out to awesome 17 year olds coming in clutch.

We went on 2 full day exchanges and I left on both of them so I wasn't in our area too much this week! I went back to Wellington with Sister Davis and chilled at the doctors office with her for her appointment and then taught a returning member about the priesthood, in Spanish! Wow, it was awesome to teach in Spanish again! It felt so good. The gift of tongues is so real. All that Spanish came flooding back and I was able to explain deep concepts of the Gospel without any problem.

Thursday was a great day. We had a boss comp study from the APs and just laughed through the whole thing. Love those goobers. Then we had a member take us to Panera Bread. Just such a tender mercy because I had literally said that morning that I wanted it. Such a blessing. We found some cool peeps this week. We had correlation with our ward mission leader... patience is key there folks.

Friday- another exchange, this time I went to Palm Beach with Sister Johnson! It was a party. That area is a blast and we just partied. We were at the chapel picking up food from a member and there was a Latin party going on and I saw the Rivera family from my first area! He was my first ward mission leader I worked with. It was so amazing to see them. Hermano Rivera definitely tried to give me a hug but went for the kiss instead. I haven't seen them since last August so it was so weird to see them all the way in Palm Beach, far from Lauderhill!

Lets talk investigators:
-Rachel and Zan. Our awesome 9 and 15 year old investigators. They are so sweet and have such a strong desire to come closer to their Savior and really understand Him. They came to church yesterday for all three hours and loved it. Zan especially is super open and wants to learn all about temples and is reading in the BOM right now! They came to church all by themselves and it was so awesome to see that.

-June. oh June. She is from China! She has been thinking about becoming a Christian and actually had a Mormon neighbor teach her in Gainsville where they lived 6 months ago. She is SO open and it is a completely new experience for both of us to teach someone who has no background in Jesus Christ, but it is amazing. She loved that mormon.org was in Chinese and we showed her how to get the BOM in Chinese too since we didn't have a hard copy of it with us! It was amazing! Such a strong Spirit. As she was kneeling down to pray in our last lesson she stopped speaking and was saying the prayer in her head in Chinese. Even though I didn't hear the words that were said, the Spirit was so strong as she was praying and she could feel it. God is amazing and it is such a privilege to bring that knowledge to someone.

The work moves forward. A quote I loved from a talk yesterday, taken from the Brad Wilcox talk "His Grace is Sufficient" says, "The problem is not accepting or doing His will, but doing it without fear or hesitation." All we have to do is do it and trust in Him and it will all work out. What a blessing it is to not have to worry about it, but to just go and do.

Someone asked me this week if it felt like I had been serving for 18 months. After thinking about it I said "No it really doesn't. There have been hard times and long days but this has been the fastest 18 months of my life." IT'S TRUE. I cannot believe that time is closing in on me so fast and I am going to have to leave this beautiful state of Florida behind. It really is the sunshine state even though as I write this it is pouring outside. A part of my heart will forever be here.

ps go watch this video on lds.org. Its adorable. https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-03-004-children-of-israel?lang=eng

1: Whoo exchanges at the doctor's office.

2: Holla at these Florida skies


4: the district (also my hair started turning blonde again this week for no reason.)

5: palm beach sisters

Monday, July 24, 2017

pitbulls and mangos

With 2 P-Days after this I feel like I just have so much to say. I feel like every story is the same and everyone is probably really tired of these... but don't worry, I'll make these last few the best.

This week while out visiting some former investigators we ran into this cute little 13 year old who was just so interested in hearing more. Her dad had previously been taught and when we knocked on the door she ran right out and "demanded" that we come back and teach her. Then asked us all her questions and was just like so interested. IT WAS A 13 YEAR OLD PEOPLE. Unreal. She was like, "where is your church? when are you coming back? I want you to come back." OK no worries Rachel we will be back.

We did four exchanges this week. FOUR. We did not work our own area on Tuesday because some sisters way north called and really needed some help so we drove the hour and a half up to them and just sang One Direction and Taylor Swift the whole way up. Basically I love Sister Peterson because she just sang for 3 hours total with me. We got home at 9:00 after spending 3 hours in the car and an hour and a half helping the sisters and we were exhausted, but it is all worth it! The feeling of the Spirit that I was able to feel while talking to this sister was undeniable. I don't remember anything that I said to her or any advice given but I know it was led by the Spirit and we both left the exchange uplifted spiritually. I am just so grateful for these last 5 transfers, 8 months, I have had to serve these sisters!

Then, we did a fire exchange in the ghettos of Palm Beach and it was all latinos and the sister I was with didn't speak any Spanish so I got to break mine out. While we were knocking a duplex one of the doors we had just knocked on slightly opened and a PITBULL'S HEAD CAME OUT BARKING AND GROWLING. Literally I just froze and backed up and the sister I was with just slammed the door shut and then it happened again. Somehow the dog was opening the door and the owners came to the window and told us to go away in Spanish. I was just left in awe that that had actually just happened to me because my first night in the mission the AP that picked us up in the airport told us a story just like that and I just couldn't stop laughing when he told it but then it actually happened! While on my mission I have decided that every dog except mine and a select few others are evil.

We had a full day exchange with Stuart and I got to go with the one and only Sister Brown. She is a party and we had so much fun. While we were ending the night knocking, the last house opened up and let us talk to them. There was a less active that was there from another ward and he said he knew we were sent to him because he had been thinking about church lately and then we showed up. He isn't even in our area and the Lord knows he needed us and sent us right to him. Time and time again on my mission I have seen that. It is so incredible. Also, the man gave us like 6 Florida Mangos and I was in HEAVEN. I freaking love mangos and will miss the fresh ones right off the tree. Oh and then he gave us weird Catholic prayer chain things out of a dumpster... so I now have one of those?

Friday, we couldn't stop laughing at everything. I don't know what happened but Sister Peterson and I were like on laughing drugs. A frog attacked Sister Peterson when she touched it. Did you know Florida has tons of tree frogs? Well they do and it attacked her this week.

I JUST LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY. I LOVE IT. Once again, there is no place I would rather be. There is nothing I would rather be doing or saying or thinking. There comes a time when you have to end and THATS OKAY. All good things come to an end right? I am just so incredibly grateful for the next 3 1/2 weeks I have to serve the Lord fully and without distractions. The Book of Mormon provides so much power and comfort in our lives and I have seen that time and time again as a missionary. As I have read it, and my investigators.

Monday, July 17, 2017

oldest hermana in the mission

WHAT! WOW. (So pretty sure I have used every single way to start an email so, we are just gonna jump right on in there folks.)

We were at transfers and I was watching all the departing missionaries get into the van to leave and I was literally watching all my friends peace out and then all of a sudden I was in the oldest group on the mission? What? It was pretty sad actually but new transfer miracles are coming!

This transfer is a 5 week transfer aka it's already going so fast. I cannot believe that we literally are already on week 2?! I don't know where the heck the last 17 months have gone but apparently time goes 2948 x faster in South Florida because... what!?  I told Sister Peterson the other day that it feels like a dream, it honestly has not hit me yet and I am not sure when it will but I know it will eventually... hopefully not?

We had transfers on Wednesday and I said goodbye to my Sister Mills and got Sister Peterson! She is a boss and was pretty pumped to be back in the Wellington house/area. I mean she only left like 7 weeks ago before coming back so it wasn't too much time gone! She is from Bountiful, UT and went to USU for a year before her mission. She is 2 transfers behind me and we have actually had 2 of the same comps and lived with the same people like her whole mission. We got straight to work and we are just having so much fun and going hard every single day. I don't think I have ever been this tired in my entire life, but I also don't think I have ever been this happy either. Its one or the other I guess? There is a quote from "The District" that one of the Elders says that used to make me laugh but now is just too relatable, "I don't understand how I am so happy when I am so tired." The exhaustion is worth it though when you get to meet cool people and change their lives around or just brighten someone's day.

This week was just so fast, I don't even know what else happened. We got caught in the rain the other day and you aren't real comps if you haven't sprinted to your car to get out of the rain, so know we are real comps

We are working with 2 super sweet ladies right now!

Kathy: requested a Bible and she was SO open to meet with us and just cried basically the whole lesson as we taught her and she felt the Spirit so strong. She wants to change her life around and become a better person and more like her Savior. It was incredible to see how God had been preparing her to hear what we have to share and the ways that we can help her accomplish her goals! We are bringing the sweetest member out to meet her tomorrow and just know they are gonna be best friends.

Liz: is a former investigator! We went by her house after a meal appointment and she let us right in and asked us so many good questions. She was so surprised we could answer them and when we told her that the reason we knew all the answers was because of the Church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, she just lit up and said she needed some of that! We are going back there on Thursday with the Bishop so she can get to know him and then she can come to church!

Miracles are happening here in Royal Palm. I know that God has a plan for us here in this area and all we gotta do is keep working hard and go do the Lord's work. A part of a talk that I love called The Fourth Missionary has a quote from CS Lewis that was also used in Elder Andersen's talk at conference says, “Christ says ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You.’” All He wants is us to give up our will and do His and as missionaries we get to do that 24/7 and give our all.

1: tres generations at transfers!


3: accurate #sorrynotsorry

4:  HOUSE PIC (my face looks so weird because the light changed right as the picture was taken so I was panicking but...)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

"in these last days..."

HELLO ONCE AGAIN. Transfer calls came in and guess who gets to stay here in Royal Palm for her last 5 weeks?! ME! I am so pumped to see all the boss miracles and dope experiences that are going to come these last 5 weeks. LET ME TELL YOU. It is getting real. Like wow, time flys my friends. But my new comp is Sister Peterson. Basically she has followed me in 2 of my past areas... she served in Vanderbilt Beach right after me and Wellington right after me and NOW SHES MY COMP. Sorry in advance to having to send me off... but I promise not to have more than 5 breakdowns people!

So this week we got to meet our new mission president! President Garns is amazing. I love that man already. He is just so fantastic and so inspired and exactly what we need right now. We got to meet him personally with the Palm Beach zone as well and then on Friday we got to talk to him some more at MLC. It was fantastic. He and his sweet wife are just so loving and so humble. They are from California and he was most recently a professor at BYU teaching photography.

Then, it was the 4th of July and we made a fire in our fireplace and Sister Mills and I learned that we did not pay ant attention at Girls Camp to the "how to build a fire" portion as we watched the other sisters do it all... oops. BUT we made s'mores and partied until 10:30 when we crashed.

On Wednesday, we went up to Stuart and had a quick fire exchange with the sisters there..and both of them are staying this transfer so I get to party with them some more.

Thursday was a rough day because both of us were stuck inside ALL DAY with food poisoning. Let me tell you, that is not what I wanted to be doing all day. But we survived and made it okay to MLC the next day!

Then, a basic normal rest of the week until Pros Monday yesterday when we did a GIANT zone wide white wash exchange. All of us switched comps AND areas for the whole day and just worked another area and saw so many miracles. Sister Cohen and I headed up to Stuart and drove on over to like this little beach town and knocked some doors before our meal appointment. We were about to jump in our car to head to the appointment and then felt like we should knock this one last door we were parked in front of. We did and a man named Michael came out and after we said we were there to share a prayer with him, the first thing he said was "yeah I need one, my daughter just died." WOAH. What? So we talked with him some more and then prayed with him and he let us in out of the hot sun and we just talked to him about the Plan of Salvation and the plan that God has for every single one of us. How amazing it is that we have the knowledge of that? And once again, God reconfirmed my testimony that He sends us exactly where we need to be at the EXACT right moment. There is no doubt in my mind of that, at every moment of our lives, we are exactly where we need to be.

We spoke at church and everyone loved it. Seriously there were tears shed. We spoke about the Restoration and I spoke about how the church teaches us to be more like Christ by teaching us how to be DAILY DISCIPLES. It is a matter of every single day and every single choice we make should be directed towards helping us become more like Him. It was so great and truly amazing to watch the Spirit touch each of the member's hearts!

I am so excited for this opportunity and these 5 weeks that I have to spend here in the amazing area of Royal Palm. Get ready for some boss milagros and hilarious stories coming from the FFLM.

1: the zone leaders pied us in the face....not impressed

2: gotta be a good sport about it though.... :)


4: comps and heart leaves

5: watch out guys we're taking over Stuart

Monday, July 3, 2017


HELLO FAM. This week we were in Red Robin and "Crush" by David Archuleta came on and we sang along the whole time. It was totally random, like really who still listens to David Archuleta other than Mormons? It was a tender mercy and made my week.

ANYWAYS. We had a very busy week. I feel like I never stopped running. Probably because we never stopped. We worked this week A LOT in the gated communities. Shoutout to members who called us in through their gates so we could knock. We have also been leaving thank you notes on our members porches by ding dong ditching them. Let me tell you, the highlight of my day is watching Sister Mills sprint into the car after ringing the doorbell. It's quite the sight. I get to be the getaway driver for it all. Missionaries are just weird people.

But we also got to do service at a local church called Community of Hope. They are so sweet and kind and just shows that there are still good people in the world! And they fed us Chick Fil A so bonus points.

We also did an exchange with the West Palm Beach sisters and I got to go with Sister Bingham, my grandbaby. It was so funny. I laughed the whole time. It was super weird and just strange that I literally am old enough in the mission to straight have a grandchild but LIFE IS GOOD. My posterity lives on.

We got our first media referral in this area last week and so we called them to set up a time to visit and drop off the bible she requested. We had it all set up and fine and then we missed a call from her 2 hours later and she cancelled her request. She literally got anti-ed in 2 hours. The world is crazy and people just believe false things they see. We actually laughed about it. Satan is working really hard to stop the work but he just can't. Our DT this week was on how God will accomplish His work anyways. Like with or without our help, it will get done. Which is comforting to know that we aren't going to mess it up too much. I mean He does send out 18-20 year olds to do this so you would think it would end in disaster but thankfully it works out!

We get to meet our new mission president tomorrow at a mini zone conference in Boynton Beach, and then have to come in early at 7:00 for safety so basically tomorrow is gonna be a blast.

We ate dinner yesterday at a farm and the member has 7 German Shepherds and 6 horses. Don't worry mom, I took 2 Benadryl in preparation and then came home and passed out. It's a miracle I woke up this morning lets be real.

Every day I am more and more amazed at the help the Lord gives us in this work. As I am now entering my last 6 weeks I am realizing the UNREAL and AMAZING work He lets me be a part of. He doesn't have to but He allows us to do so! And how thankful I am that I have had this amazing opportunity! There is nothing better. And I realize how fast time is FLYING by. WE redid our calendar thats on our board this week and literally the entire rest of my mission is up there. CRAZY to think about but there is no stopping or slowing down. As President Richardson would say we gotta "GIDDY UP!"

We're going to have a zone BBQ today for the 4th and we have to get pied in the face because we lost the challenge so the Zone Leaders are pie-ing us... WHOO!

1: when you knock in Lox you gotta bring a weapon to protect yourself from vicious dogs


3: pre ding dong ditching the Bishop and his family...we think they saw us but oh well!

4: me being a supportive comp while searching for a lost ring