Monday, August 29, 2016

vanderbilt beach

I hope everyone had a wonderful week because it was an amazing week here in the area of Vanderbilt Beach, had lots of miracles and lots of laughs!

Fun fact: I hit my 6-month mark last week! We were at zone conference on the 24th and as I was writing down the date it hit me. If you changed 2016 to 2017 I would be on a plane ride home. It was a rough moment, less than a year left and I just barely started. Sister Rosario looked and me and laughed and then realized she goes home the same day as me and then immediately stopped laughing.

On Wednesday we had an awesome zone conference. We got to hear from our mission president and his wife as well as the assistants and got some good trainings. One thing that Sister Richardson said that I loved was that sometimes we are given challenges and trials, not so Heavenly Father can see if we can handle it because he knows we can, but so that we can know what we can handle. After trials we are able to see all that we can do and look back at it with joy not sadness. President Richardson also said that our goal, or the thing that we should always have in mind and picture should be us at the end of our missions, smiling at Christ and saying, "I did my best. I gave it my all," and having Him smile right back at us. AGREED.

We also got stuck in the rain this week, shocking, but this time it was on bikes. DEATH. We got some sympathy looks and just kept going.

THE MIRACLE. In the amazing area of Vanderbilt Beach there are a lot of people here for the CRNA program who are members. They all happen to live in the same townhouse complex, lovingly nicknamed "mini-Provo" (we were walking and 2 members stopped us to talk to us). We took our ward list and wrote down everyone who lived there so that we didn't knock their doors, just their neighbors. We felt like because so many members live there, it's a pretty prepared place, right? Well it turned out to be true. We knocked the door of Sherry and she immediately welcomed us right in to pray with her. She then listed off about 5 members names and sat us down to pray. After the prayer we were talking with her a little bit more and she told us that her and her husband were looking for a church (!) and that they felt like living there had shown them a side of members they had never seen before. She said she had been to many church activities (!) and that she had a subscription to the church magazines and she studies them every month they come (!!!!!). She welcomed us back to teach her this week and was very excited to learn more about the gospel. When we were talking with ward members yesterday they were all so excited to hear about it, and we were so grateful for their wonderful example.

We left that house jumping for joy and ran all the way down the street to our meal appointment. She is so ready and her husband is very excited to meet with us too this week. It was such a miracle! Mini Provo is the place to be. People are being prepared all the time, and we found this little family by happening to knock their door.

1: obligatory sunset picture

2: rain on bikes. dripping wet


4: I make awful faces while playing the piano

Monday, August 22, 2016

rain rain go away

Hello hello! No more "hola hola" as I am now serving in English, but I love it here. The area is amazing and the ward members are super awesome, the members are so willing to help. It also helps that they are all young and half of them served missions themselves so they know what to do!

This week it rained so much... The first half of the week was all rain, all day. Normally, it just rains for an hour or so but this time it was all dang day. Not fun to try & contact people and knock doors when you cannot see in front of you or when you forget your umbrella in the car... the reality of missionary work. We were able to contact a lot of people and luckily the rain and storms make people more willing to at least pray with us or talk to us for a little bit. They feel bad for shutting the doors and making us walk back in the rain. It's the little miracles!

We had to stop teaching a lot of people this week, either because they weren't progressing or they didn't want to learn more. Kinda sad but we are doing okay and have the positive attitudes we need! We are really going to focus this week on prayer. Just really making sure that every single thing that we have planned out, whether it is a former investigator to visit or anything else, that we are really taking it to the Lord because we want to find those people and teach them all about this message that we have to share! It's not fun to not be able to teach and like Preach my Gospel says, "nothing happens in missionary work until you find people to teach."

We did get to knock some super nice mansions. There are some very wealthy people here and their houses are amazing. We got to meet and talk with a few of the owners and most of them were surprisingly nice, they didn't want a lesson but they were sweet. We have decided that we are going to buy one of the houses and live in it when we are old. So look for that in my future.

One miracle that I wanted to share this week happened while we were knocking. We were talking to a man and asked if any of his neighbors needed a prayer. He said that the neighbor across the street was a good Christian woman who would probably love a prayer, so we went to her house. There was a keep out sign but we just pretended we didn't see it, and went and knocked her door. She answered and was actually pretty rude. We were a bit shocked based on what the man had told us but we just thanked her for her time and left and continued working. We didn't really give it a second thought because we have that happen all the time. About 15 minutes later as we had continued walking down the street, I heard a car pull up beside us and I looked and there was the woman! She rolled down her window and said that she wanted to apologize for the way she treated us. She said she felt bad the moment we left, and it looked like she was about to start crying. We told her not to worry and offered any service that she might need. She smiled and then drove away.

It was really a tender mercy for the day. We didn't find anyone but we were led to that street to be able to talk to her and give her that experience. I had almost forgotten about her comments, but the Lord knew how much it would brighten our spirits and make us happy, and she came and apologized! It was amazing and something that never happens so it was a big miracle. I read this morning in a talk that said "going on a mission and serving a mission are 2 completely different things." When we give ourselves over we are serving not just here. It really changed my whole perspective for the week!

I hope you all have a great day and week! And if missionaries knock on your door, give them some water! It will be greatly appreciated, promise :)

1: Naples Zone!

2: We eat dinner with the same members every week and this time they let us see their guns and then
made us take a picture. no worries, they are all unloaded and we did not shoot them!

3: Florida Sunset #1

4: When you run half a mile back to your car because its pouring rain and you have to be dry in 30 minutes for a meal appointment (we were not dry yet)

5: Florida sunset #2

Monday, August 15, 2016

on the west coast

Week one, DONE. It really flew by!The days seem to last longer, (a blessing though), and the weeks go by way too fast (not a blessing). Overall it was a great week, but it is SUPER weird getting to a new area and not knowing anything, like nothing... not even where you live. It was a crazy experience. We drove back from transfers on Wednesday across Alligator Alley, the Everglades, but unfortunately did not see any alligators. There are more out here in Naples, so hopefully before I leave I will get to see one.

Our area out here in Naples reminds me SO much of where we lived out in South Carolina. Sometimes I forget I am in Florida. There are trees along every long road and it is just awesome. It is so much different than my last area so being out here was a huge change. There are these long streets that we knock, and in an hour you probably only knock like 10 doors because they are so far apart! The area is huge too. There's one area called "the box" because on a map its just like a box, and that is where most of the finding is done. There are about 6 missionaries that cover that area so the doors are knocked quite often but that's because there are more humble people there. "The box" is like how my whole last area was, but its very confusing to navigate and my mind goes crazy when we work in there. It's great to bike and I love to bike.

The ward here is great as well. It's a super young family ward and most of the families are here for the CRNA program or law school. So they are all super smart and are here for 3-4 years at a time and the ward rolls over often. It's so much different in a family ward, and in English. I miss hearing church in Spanish so much, but it is nice to be able to understand every single word said to me. Not gonna lie about that. There are a ton of children so it is loud in sacrament meeting. The area and ward is great here so it really is a blessing to be out here.

Some more about Sister Rosario. She is from the Dominican Republic and just finished being trained. She served a transfer in the DR though, so we actually go home at the same time. It's really cool and she's super funny. We switch off Spanish and English days and we help each other learn the language. Her call is in Spanish too, but President sent here out here to learn English faster and then she's hoping to go back Spanish. We have a lot of fun, we live with the Sisters in the Spanish ward out here, Sister Montoya and her baby Sister Adams. They are both so much fun and it's a party in the house.

Ok so that is an update on the area and what not. We are working with J right now and her son E. They are both loving church and are super interested and willing and ready to learn more. J was a former investigator who was dropped but who the Sisters picked back up and it seems like now she is ready to learn more and is more willing this time. They both came to church yesterday and loved Primary and Sunday School. There are a couple other people who we are working with and getting them set with baptism dates here this week. It's so awesome to come to an area and see and feel the success that it has here!

My new address is 5100 17th Ave SW, Naples, FL 34116.

1: Sister Rosario!

2: House picture!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

plot twist, i'm going english!

YEP, I am heading to an English area! The calls came in last night and it was really weird to hear but I am super excited. I will be heading out to the area of Vanderbilt Beach, in Naples! I get to go to the west coast of the mission which is new and exciting. Since there is literally nothing in the middle of our mission, except the Everglades, you are in a different mission. It is going to be weird to be so far from everything over here, but I am really excited. I'm totally not worried about having to speak English. My companion, Sister Rosario, is from the Dominican Republic and is learning English so I will get to keep up my Spanish pretty well. The ward out there is super great and awesome and I cannot wait to get out there. Naples is a bit more slow paced but I am still stoked and ready and willing to do what I need to out there!

That is probably the only exciting news from the week. But on Thursday, we had another "all mission bike day" because some Elders crashed their car and so everyone was on bikes. We had a district meal appointment 10 miles away and we all biked down. It was funny to see us all on bikes and we were laughing the whole day because we ended up going about 25 miles on bikes that day. FUN. We were not laughing however when we rode 2 miles past a gold course and the sidewalk was literally impassable with gnats. We sped through that, jumped off and just screamed while getting them all off of us. Those little nasty things were everywhere. I am in the south so I guess I should have expected it!

This morning during personal study I read a talk from Elder Pearson titled, "Stay by the Tree", from the April 2015 conference I think. It was really interesting to read! Highly recommend it. There was one quote that he said that really stood out to me. He said, "When adversity comes, don't let something you don't fully understand unravel all you do know." It is something that is so true in missionary work and really makes a difference! We can't let stuff get us down because it is all in the Lord's plan and adversity is going to come and is going to be rough at times. But when we are firm in the faith and stand forward, we will be okay and we will be able to withstand those hard times. Then he mentioned a quote from Elder Maxwell who said, "If everything is going perfect for you right now, just wait." It kind of made me laugh a bit since I read it right after transfer calls, but its really true. There will ALWAYS be adversity and there will always be struggles but there is a reason for it all. Life, especially, is not going to be perfect and its not supposed to be!

1: One more from the baptism last week

2: Yummy Colombian food holla
3: It has started raining at 3:00 every day. FUN STUFF.

4: we died after walking 2 miles trying to find a former investigator in a MAZE of an apartment complex.

5: Literally the only nice thing about rain is the momentary temperature drop.

Monday, August 1, 2016

byron's baptism

Hi! This week was super good and super fun! I have noticed that I say super a lot and have decided that it is my "missionary word." Every missionary seems to have a word that they just always say and mine is super. It could be worse, right?

This weekend Byron got baptized! It was so awesome! It was very spiritual, amazing and he was so ecstatic. His wife, who is already a member was crying basically through the whole thing and it was so sweet to be able to see her so happy because now they can have that eternal family that she always wanted. After Byron got baptized, he looked at me and Sister Neeley and said, "so, we have an appointment one year from now in the temple, right?" I just looked at him and said, "For sure!" but in my head I was saying, "Yes we do!" But I was much calmer on the outside. Byron was also able to receive the priesthood yesterday and now he is just right on the path to the temple next year, and since I will still be here on my mission, I will be able to go with them as they get sealed as a forever family! It is so amazing to be a missionary.

I was just thinking this whole weekend about how much joy we get as missionaries bringing souls unto Christ, like so much joy. The first half of this week, let's be honest most of the rest of the week, Satan was just working so hard to try and discourage me and Sister Neeley but we just put our minds to it, prayed a lot, and kept those positive attitudes, because it will all work out, and it did. Yay for baptisms, yay for the Spirit and yay for happy days!

Besides Byron getting baptized, this Friday we went on exchanges with the STL's and I got to go to Boynton Beach for the day. It's so nice to not have to stress about the whole day, but we got some interesting door approaches and some laughs to walk away with. We did service for one of their members and it was very hot and humid. We got nasty and gross and then didn't have time to rinse off so we probably smelled nasty all day and that's why no one wanted to talk to us. We also saw a pack of iguanas just chilling by the freeway so that was pretty cool.

This morning I was reading a talk from this last conference that talks about forgiveness. It was exactly what I needed to read this morning and it was really good. Highly recommend that you all read it. It's called, "The Healing Ointment of Forgiveness" and it will change your life. It talks about how we don't need to be a victim twice and we can use that Atonement that is not only here to help us repent, but also to help us forgive. The Savior knows that its hard to forgive and forget without feeling like justice won't be served, but as we look at others as God sees them, we will see them in a different light.

I know this Church is true and that the Savior loves each and every one of us more than we know. I hope that everyone has a great week and remembers to forgive and love everyone! Les quiero! Next week is transfers so the email will be on Tuesday and we will know if I am staying in Lauderhill (which is doubtful) or leaving and headed to a new one!

(We are currently engaged in a tag war with our Zone Leaders, who serve in the same ward with us, and we are winning, obviously)

1: Byron's baptism!!


3: Tagging the Elders back at their house. We might be a bit too into the game.

4: Sister Neeley is a magician in disguise.

5: Florida skies never get old...

6: Our members left money for us to eat dinner with, and it got wet... so we put in on the dash and it dried in approx. 40 seconds.