Monday, January 30, 2017

i fell off my bike

Life is good here in Florida and we are loving the YSA life. It's freaking awesome and the members are the bomb. Like more than half of them are recent converts and they are all amazing. We had FHE last Monday and it was great. Also, we get to go to institute every Thursday. So many awesome things about YSA. The only not awesome thing is how big our area is! We cover the entire stake which is the entire west coast of our mission. IT'S HUGE. It takes us 45 minutes on the freeway to get to the sisters in Cape Coral and that's not even the top border! It's crazy, but we also get to spend a lot of time in the car talking, so that's a benefit.

I also did my first exchange this week with the sisters in Rio Vista, a Spanish ward in Fort Myers! I loved it up there! Its like a small town and everyone was super nice. What was not fun was the food. Dang, my stomach has lost its ability to pound Latin food like nobody's business. I was a mess after 3 meals in 3 hours. Shout out to all the Latinos trying to make me sick with their amazing food. I miss that.

We also had a bike day because someone else got into an accident. And guess what? It happened. I fell off my bike into a hole. Sister Soza was laughing before she even made sure I was okay (I am) and she also snapped some wonderful pictures. It was terrible but hilarious. It is what it is. It finally happened. Then karma came and got Sister Soza when she dropped her entire purse into the toilet. So I snapped some pictures too. Life back with your trainer is hilarious. It has been so weird but so amazing!

There were some changes made this week to the missionary schedule but I have zero idea what any of it actually means. More info next week after zone conference this Wednesday in Hialeah. I won't get to see my baby Dimond but she's up in West Palm killing it so it's all good.

We are seeing lots of miracles here in YSA and finding a lot of cool people. Even if they don't accept the Gospel right now, we were able to plant a lot of seeds this week and meet people at the exact moment that they needed it. Also, a part member family eternagator (eternal investigator) got baptized this last week in Wellington on the date that we set with him when I was there! Miracles all around. It seems to happen with me a lot, that investigators get baptized right after I leave, but it doesn't matter because they are all coming into the fold and being awesome! I never want to come home.

1: Giant tree = take a picture

2: Happy days

3: When you find matching dresses at a thrift store for a dollar!

4: The Naples and Fort Myers Zones at the missionary broadcast. (we as YSA cover all of these missionaries areas... see how big it is?!)

5: I FELL. Literally into a drainage ditch but whatever, I am alive. s/o to Soza for getting this gem.


7: Florida skies for life.

Monday, January 23, 2017

hello from YSA!

First of all YSA is not bad at all. It is super awkward to walk up to people who are your same age and all that stuff. But the branch out here is amazing. There are about 30 people that come to sacrament meeting and there are so many of them that are recent converts. It's awesome! Of course there is a list of 600 names of people that need to be going to our branch but we get to go through all that stuff! We get to go to FHE and Institute, which is weird because I have never been to Institute because its just a class you take at BYU, so it is really awesome. YSA is going to be great.

Also, I am back with Sister Soza. It has been so weird but also so wonderful. It's kind of unreal. The first few days I was literally having so much deja vu but it has been great. During weekly planning we might have had a minor breakdown about it and the fact that she only has 6 more weeks left is crazy. We might have cried when she said, "I saw you teach your first Restoration lesson and you are going to see my last!" It's so weird. At transfers everyone was just like, "That's not fair!" and whenever President would look at us, we just laughed. It's going to be a crazy transfer.

I am exhausted, but being a missionary is so exceptional. There are a few more responsibilities as STL's and our area is huge. We have awesome sisters that we are over and its going wonderfully so far! We drove up to Cape Coral, which is 45 minutes from our house and not even the top of the area, but it was gorgeous. We got to meet the sisters that are up there.

I feel like I am reliving my first transfer because we have to call the AP's 3 times this transfer to account on the sisters and things like that and the AP that we account with is the elder who was my first DL, who we accounted with way back in Lauderhill... it was just too much deja vu. I am a greenie again! I LOVE IT.

That's basically it from this week. We were walking around one of the college campuses this week talking to everyone and it was super weird and it made me miss college for about 0.2 seconds before I realized that I don't want to study!

Everyone: go read President Nelson's talk from last conference! It's so good and will change your life! "Joy and Spiritual Survival"

19120 Miami BLVD
Fort Myers, FL 33967


2: As are the famous Soza/Cottrell car pictures

3: Las hermanas in Cape Coral after a fire exchange!

4: Selfie Sundays

5: The bridge to cape coral is unreal! I really wish pictures could show how amazing it is!

6: The planner I made for Sister Soza's last transfer!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

transfer 8: plot twists

This transfer has a whole bunch of plot twists so get ready:

1) I am leaving Wellington after just 5 weeks!
2) I am staying in English!
3) I will be going to a YSA (18-30 year olds) branch... back to Naples!
4) I will be serving as an STL (Sister Training Leader, they cover about 8 sisters and go on exchanges and things like that and are a part of the mission leadership! It's crazy!)
5) and the biggest one of all... I'M GOING BACK WITH SISTER SOZA!!

To refresh your memories, Sister Soza is my trainer and we are going to be companions again!! IT'S CRAZY. You almost never get the same companion again. We are going to be comps when I hit my year mark and also, this is her last transfer so I will be killing her! IT'S SO CRAZY. This is going to be the best transfer ever. When President Richardson called last night he said, "Sister Cottrell, you're my new STL and you will be in Estero YSA with.....your momma!" He said "I can already hear the screams on Wednesday when you two get back together!" He is the best. We cover all the sisters in Naples and Ft. Myers (all the zones on the west coast) and our area covers 2 whole zones of YSA! AH! Super exciting though, even though its YSA... just kidding, it is going to be unreal.

PUES, besides that I had a great last Sunday/ birthday here in Wellington! Lots of cake and yumminess and it was great. I am no longer a teenager and I am an old 20 year old! When did that happen!?

We had an amazing miracle on Sunday and had 8 investigators at Sacrament meeting! A Spanish family we have been teaching all came and so did 2 part member families! It was crazy! We were running all over the place, but the ward was happy there were so many people so Sister Cottrell is leaving Wellington with a bang. Peace out.

Also, the ward that meets before us on Sundays had a special visitor yesterday in their sacrament meeting... MITT ROMNEY just casually walks in. He's here for the Polo Races here in Wellington and they just causally attended sacrament meeting. It's no big deal. Wellington is also home to Bill Gates (we found his house), Vanilla Ice (found him too) and Tommy Lee Jones (still on the lookout).

Also I got into my first car crash ever. No worries though. We were driving up to Jupiter and we had just gotten off the freeway and we were waiting at the light and this semi truck thing just straight backed into us. Me and Sister Schiers screamed from the backseat and we were honking but he didn't hear and then just got back on the freeway and drove away! It was crazy! The car isn't too damaged at all but it was quite an adventurous week.

I have loved it here in Wellington but I guess I'm needed in YSA (not super pumped about that) but hey, its going to be a freaking party. Get ready FFLM because the mother-daughter duo is BACK.

1: Hilarious sweatshirt I wanted to buy but didn't... it says "we are eternal" YES WE ARE.

2: The sisters made me a beautiful cake :)

3: Hermanas plus Elder Conder being... Elder Conder? I don't even know but we all look cute so..

4: This is the only zone picture we got and it is  terrible but hilarious. What is everyone even doing?

5: Sunday selfies

6: These are the cookies we got from an older man named Jim. We were out knocking on doors and we prayed with him and then kept knocking and as we were walking back to the car he comes running out and hands us these cookies. He lives alone and was super happy and it made us so sad that no one was there with him and he did this selfless thing and gave us some of his cookies. THERE ARE GOOD PEOPLE OUT THERE! We can all be a little more like Jim!

Monday, January 9, 2017

be ambitious for Christ

Plot twist: It is cold in Florida. This is not a drill. It is like 60 degrees outside and freaking cold. We are freezing and none of us are prepared to go back to Utah/Idaho and die at school. Sister Tilby and I were washing the cars this morning and we were bundled in sweats and socks and flip flops because its Florida and we have nothing warm. Who knew it could be this cold. We were knocking the other night and Sister Schiers and I both forgot our cardigans so it was the most miserable knocking session of my mission. We were trying not to look like we were freezing out there but still no one let us in, they all just told us to get out of the cold.

It was a good week besides these 3 days of freezing weather we have had. On Friday, we had to stay in because I got a migraine, but we went out and knocked and then ate dinner with some Haitians. Its a totally different culture and I understand zero creole but it was fun and loud. We also got a part member family set with a baptism date for the end of the month. The rest of the family got baptized last year and he is finally ready and the ward is very excited.

I didn't mention it in any of my emails but the week before Christmas, my recent convert Dorothy passed away from cancer. It happened a lot faster than anyone was expecting but the mission president called to tell me and Sister Dimond got to go to her funeral in Coral Reef. She said she looked beautiful and these last 4 weeks I have really been thinking about her and the plan that our Heavenly Father has for us. She was baptized October 21st and passed away right before Christmas, that's only 2 months later! But she found the truth and she knew it and she was prepared and not worried at all. I have definitely been able to feel her with me every step of the way this transfer and it has been amazing. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father gave me the opportunity to meet her and be a part of her journey. I know that God loves us and places people in our lives to help and strengthen us when we need it and His plan is perfect.

I also read a talk this week from last Conference called "Be Ambitious For Christ" and I love it. He starts off saying that he is talking to the young people of the church and the missionaries but I think it totally applies to everyone. Here are some snippets I loved:

(Talking about his son) "After he served for a year, we received an email that was an answer to our prayers. He wrote: “Right now I can really feel the love of God and of Jesus. I will work hard to become like the prophets of old. Though I am also experiencing a lot of difficulties, I am truly happy. Serving Jesus really is the best thing ever. There is nothing as wonderful as this. I am so happy.”

"In our lives we experience trials, but if we are ambitious for Christ, we can focus on Him and feel joy even in the midst of them. Our Redeemer is the ultimate example. He understood His holy mission and was obedient to the will of God the Father. What a choice blessing it is to bring His wonderful example to our remembrance each week as we partake of the sacrament."

I just love that! Serving Christ really is the best thing ever. I have been able to see it and feel it every single day as I serve the Lord and it has blessed me more than I could ever repay. I know that we can be happy through our trials and through difficulties if we rely on the Lord every. single. day.

1: We went to the pier last week! More pretty Florida beaches where the pictures don't do justice.

2: Sister Tilby!

3: The Fort Lauderdale temple is gorgeous. This was taken by another missionary but look at how gorgeous it is!

4-6: New Years pictures!

7: Sister Tilby, Halversen, and I!

8: More New Years!

9: When you all just look tired.

10: Pier + Wind = terrible picture

11: Look how blue it is!

12: All the sisters in the Jupiter zone!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

happy new year 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope that it was wonderful and started off wonderfully. Plot twist: we made it to midnight. We had to be in at 6:00 that night so we took some pictures and actually made it. And then died the next day at church but it's fine, it was way fun!

This week was eventful because we were on bikes all this week. Like we got in our car one time and it was to use the last 10 miles we had to go to our interviews with President because we didn't want to be all nasty. But, it was great! We talked to a ton of people and we didn't get hit by any cars! I definitely almost crashed while trying to bike and look up an address on the GPS but saved myself at the last second. Pretty sure Sister Schiers thinks I'm like a child who can't ride a bike though. We had a lot of fun dying on the bikes. We were over like 6 miles from the house and it was super dark, and we were all out of water, so we biked over to our Ward Mission Leaders house for some water and they let us in and ended up feeding us a late dinner and ice cream and offered to drive us home. That was a miracle because we definitely would have been late getting home and it was so nice to ride in a car!

We had some great lessons this week! Our investigator Tony is progressing nicely and accepted baptism on the 14th! We are meeting with him again tonight! Its super exciting to see this area grow. Wellington is great, and this week the horse shows all start so we are going to get an influx of super wealthy people coming in to town for a bit! Bill Gates and Vanilla Ice both have a house here. We have decided to go find it and baptize them. Its casual.

We also found some super old church movies on VHS in the library, and since no one really feeds us here we have watched some of them and they are HILARIOUS. Go watch "Labor of Love" and "What is Real?" if you haven't. Just the VHS part of it is funny and then you add in the cheesiness of it and its awesome. We were dying laughing yesterday. Also the MTC literally has not changed from 1981....seriously.

For Christmas my family sent me an awesome book of collections of President Monson's stories from General Conference in the last 50 years and I read one that stood out to me a lot! Here it is (sorry its super long):

"My mind goes back in memory to a general priesthood meeting held in 1956. At that time I was serving in the stake presidency of the Temple View Stake here in Salt Lake City. Percy K. Fetzer, John R. Burt, and I, the stake presidency, had come to the Tabernacle early, that hopefully we might find a place to sit. We were among the first to enter the Tabernacle and had almost two hours to wait before the meeting would begin.

President Fetzer related to President Burt and me an experience from his missionary days in Germany. He described how one rainy night he and his companion were to present a gospel message to a group assembled in a schoolhouse. A protester had broadcast falsehoods concerning the Church, and a number of people threatened violence against the two missionaries. At a critical moment, a woman who was a widow stepped between the elders and the angry group and said, “These young men are my guests and are coming to my home now. Please make way for us to leave.”

The crowd parted, and the missionaries walked through the rainy night with their benefactress, arriving at length at her modest home. She placed their wet coats over the kitchen chairs and invited the missionaries to sit at the table while she prepared food for them. After eating, the elders presented a message to the kind lady who had befriended them. A young son of the woman was invited to come to the table, but he refused, preferring his position of solitude and warmth directly behind the kitchen stove.

President Fetzer concluded the account with the comment, “While I don’t know if that woman ever joined the Church, I’ll forever be grateful to her for her kindness that rain-drenched night thirty-three years ago.”

The brethren sitting in front of us here in the Tabernacle had been speaking to one another also. After a while, we began listening to their conversation. One asked the friend sitting next to him, “Tell me how you came to be a member of the Church.”

The brother responded, “One rainy night in Germany, my mother brought to our house two drenched missionaries whom she had rescued from a mob. Mother fed the elders, and they presented to her a message concerning the work of the Lord. They invited me to join the discussion, but I was shy and fearful, so I remained secure in my seat behind the stove. Later, when I once more heard about the Church, I remembered the courage and faith, as well as the message, of those two humble missionaries, and this led to my conversion. I suppose I’ll never meet those two missionaries here in mortality, but I’ll be forever grateful to them. I know not where they were from. I think one was named Fetzer.”

At this point, President Burt and I looked at President Fetzer and noticed the great tears which coursed down his cheeks. Without saying a word to us, President Fetzer tapped on the shoulder of the man in front of us who had just related his conversion experience. To him he then said, “I’m Bruder Fetzer. I was one of the two missionaries whom you befriended that night. I’m grateful to meet the boy who sat behind the stove—the lad who listened and who learned.”

I do not remember the messages delivered during the priesthood meeting that night, but I shall never forget the faith-filled conversation which preceded the commencement of the meeting.

The words of the Lord seemed so appropriate then. They are equally appropriate now: “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!”

It is so awesome to think about all the incredible ways that we can share the gospel without even realizing it! I loved that story so much, especially as a missionary, thinking of all the seeds that I plant that will eventually be harvested by other missionaries. Its incredible.

I hope you all have a wonderful first week of the new year and start it off right!