Monday, September 26, 2016

Week 60: Deception Pass and it was Beautiful!

This last week has been super busy! It is so nice to finally be teaching consistently all of the time....well most of the time! :) Last Monday we went to Deception Pass and it was beautiful! We walked along the bridge and then we took a little hike down to the "beach" next to the water. I am so grateful to be able to not only live but to serve at such a beautiful place in the Country. While we were there we found a baby crab and we took him on a walk with us down the beach!! The Nemo needed to go back home. The reason that we named him Nemo was because he was missing one of his big claws. We still loved him anyways! 

This last week I studied a talk called, "Opposition in all things" By Elder Oaks. It was so good! 
At the end of the talk he says, "God rarely infringes on the agency of any of His children by intervening against some for the relief of others. But he does ease the burdens of our afflictions and strengthen us to bear them, as He did for Almas People in the lad of Helam. He does not prevent all disasters, but He does answer our prayers to turn them aside, . . . Through all mortal opposition, We have God's  assurance that He will "consecrate [our] afflictions for [our] fain". We have also been taught to understand our mortal experiences and His commandments in the context of His great plan of salvation, which tells us the purpose of life and gives us the assurance of a Savior, . . ."

I loved this part of the whole talk because I have learned that Heavenly Father LOVES me so much and doesn't want me to ever be sad. But because He loves me so much He will never take away my agency. This has been a new concept that I have been gaining a better understanding of and as much as agency may bother me I am ever so grateful for it.

Wednesday after District Meeting the Zone Leaders came and asked me if I would go on an exchange with our Sister Training Leaders. I told them I would but that might be a little hard because I am no longer a Sister Training Leader. They said the Sisters had been having a hard time and they didn't know what to do. While they were on exchanges with the Assistants they came up with the idea that my companions and I needed to go on an exchange with them. So I called our STL's and asked if we could do an exchange. The Elders didn't want us to tell them and so I was making sure that I didn't lie to them but gave them truthful answers to the questions that they gave. So we exchanged Wednesday night and did the full exchange on Thursday. Lucky for me this might sound really bad but after we had got off the phone with the STL's my companions had a break down because the two of them have been feeling homesick. This was perfect!! We now had a good reason to tell them why we called for an exchange! I think that all in all it went so well because everyone was able to get the help that they needed, and I was able to report back to the ZL that it was a successful exchange! 

So on Thursday during the exchange I got to go and give service at a "Zoo". It was the nastiest place of my life! This guy owns like 30 wolfs, a porcupine, an owl, cougars, bobcats, snakes, pigs, and so many more. We went and helped feed them and clean their cages. I love my pets but I have learned that I am not the biggest fan of other people’s animals. Especially when I am walking toward a full grown wolf to pick something up and he is staring at me....but I made it out alive!  

Friday night I had a awesome surprise. I had dinner with Nicks Sixth Grade teacher!! She was so cute and it was fun to talk about him with someone who knows him pretty well. Let’s just say it was a tender mercy from Heavenly Father to remind me how lucky I am and how amazing of a family I have! 

Saturday we had early curfew because of a shooting. They caught the guys so no need to worry. But lucky for us we were still able to go to the General Women Session. I would highly recommend that everyone listen to it. Whether you are a boy or girl, pink or yellow, tall or short you MUST listen to it. We are so lucky to be able to have inspired leaders of the Church. The spirit testified to me again that we have a prophet on the earth today and that "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets". I am so grateful to be spiritually fed, I didn't realize how much I needed it until I was there listening to the words of our leaders. I think the coolest thing is that everyone we asked about what they thought the theme was they all said something different. The spirit is amazing and is going to teach us what our Heavenly Father needs us to know at that moment "if we have an open heart and a contrite spirit". 

I love you all so much and am so grateful to be a missionary. There isn't anywhere I would rather be! Have a good week!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Week 59: There was a Blond, Brunette, and a Red Head All in Oak Harbor

Elle looking out on the Puget Sound.

So there was a blonde, brunette and red head serving in the Oak Harbor first ward, yep that's us!!
Time is going by so fast!!! I can't believe this transfer is already half way over! I feel like transfers were just last week! Maybe Heavenly Father will bless me and slow down time, a lot. I have been so blessed to have such an amazing mission that has blessed me more than I could ever know. 

This last week was so busy and crazy. We had so many things that we needed to do and had to figure out how we were going to fit it all in to the week. While trying to figure out how to fit everything in I got sick on Tuesday which made things super difficult. I looked like death.....yep......nothing that was going to fix that. I don't think there was any medication in the world that was going to fix me. But lucky for me I have amazing companions that helped me while we were out working. I was able to get a little more sleep and I think that it made it easier to go out and work on Wednesday. 

Elders Hatch, Addington, Sorenson, Luddington, Elle, Sisters Belliston and Perry

On Wednesday we had the greatest MIRACLE!! We went to visit someone and they weren't home. I am pretty sure they are going to just keep avoiding us, but that is beside the point. There are not as many people here on the Island as there are in Lynnwood. I got use to talking to people everywhere I went so when I got here and there isn't someone on every corner of the street it made me feel weird. It is a transition, but when we were walking away from the trailer we turned and looked down the street and there were so many people! I got so excited! I was grinning from ear to ear as we were talking to all that we could. We were getting ready to turn the corner onto the other street and there was a guy in an old, creepy looking van. I didn't get a bad feeling when looking at it and so I started to walk towards him to talk to him. It wasn't until I got there that I realized that my companions where 20 feet behind me. Come to find out later they didn't want to talk to him because it was creepy. But there weren't any bad feelings so we were going. We were talking to him and were able to share the Plan of Salvation with him. He lives off of the Island and so we were able to send him information to the missionaries where he lives. He has such an amazing testimony and such a kind soul. I hope that the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Restoration is something that he will allow to bless his life. At the end of our conversation I asked if there was anyone that he knew either needed service or an uplifting message. He told us of five people and we went and talked to all of them, three of them were hidden Less Actives! Heavenly Father works in amazing ways and I am so grateful that I get a front row seat to all of these blessings. We were able to talk to them and invite them to church and remind them that they are all children of God. 

Elle, Sister Perry, Sister Belliston

 Thursday was Zone Conference and it was amazing! It answered so many questions for me. There are so many different things that we as a companionship are going to be able to apply into our missionary work. One of the things talked about was our Divine Nature. We are all children of Heavenly Father who love us so much! He only seeks to help us and teach us how we are going to be able to come closer to him and become more like him. While they were talking it made me think of how people whether they are family, friends, or just people we may know who try to get us to do things we know are not right. The reason we should never stoop lower then we know is right is because our Father is a King therefor we are Prince and Princesses who will one day be returned to live with our King our Heavenly Father. I want to be able to return to him knowing that I did all I could to uphold my birthright. We are stronger then we realize and smarter then we may think. These instructions reminded me of Elder Hollands talk from last General Conference where he says, "Keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever."

Friday night we got to go and help out in the Penn Cove ward and serve the adults dinner for the activity night. It was so much fun to be able to serve the ward member's and to give back to them for all that they do for us. 

Sister Perry, Elle, and Sister Belliston

 I am so grateful for the opportunity I have been given to serve a mission and I can't thank you all enough for the love and support that I have been given. There are so many things that I have learned that I don't know how else I would have learned them. I now know what it means to be a Child of God. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the Prophet on the earth. I know that through Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the Holy Ghost, and the Sacrament through Enduring to the End we will be able to live with our Heavenly Father again. 

To quote Elder Holland, "Please remember tomorrow, and all the days after that, that the Lord blesses those who want to improve, who accept the need for commandments and try to keep them, cherish Christ like virtues and strive to the best of their ability to acquire them. If you stumble in that pursuit, so does everyone; the Savior is there to help you keep going. It you fall, summon His strength. Call out like Alma, "O Jesus, have mercy on me." He will help you get back up. He will help you repent, repair, fix whatever you have to fix, and keep going. Soon enough you will have the success you seek. The first great commandment of all eternity it to love God with all of your heart, might, mind and strength- that is the first great commandment. But the first great TRUTH of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life."

I love you all so much and hope that you have an amazing week! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Week 58: The Hippies!

The beautiful, wonderful, and talented Sister Elle Jackson.

Oak Harbor is so BEAUTIFUL!!! I am so lucky to be able to serve here and to be on an island! I never would have thought that being called to the Washington Everett Mission would mean that I have a possibility of serving on an island. I have now been able to serve around all of the baby boomers and flower children. I wonder what kind of things I am going to be able to learn while I am here? Needless to say I have learned something new every single day so far. 

This last week has been so much fun and busy. We are teaching so many people whether they are investigators or less actives. I absolutely LOVE being a teacher and sharing my testimony all of the time. 

Somewhere on Whidbey Island in the rain.

One thing that is cool is the ward has set up a couple different family home evening groups. So they have split up the different families in the ward and put them into one of the four or five groups. It makes it easier with the average age of our ward being 65, because no one really has children at home. Monday we went to one of the groups and we got to share the lesson. We read from Enos and talked about the different steps that Enos took in becoming converted to Christ and His gospel. 

Monday night Bishop asked Sister Perry and I to speak in sacrament meeting. So on Tuesday Sister Perry and I spent all of our time finding things for our talks. We were told to pick one of the 13 Articles of Faith and to talk about it. Sister Perry decided that she was going to talk about the fourth Article of Faith and talk about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I chose to talk about the third Article of Faith which state, "We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all man-kind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel." I have been also studying a lot about the Atonement and so it was going to be a great opportunity to share the things I have learned and to be able to share experience about how the Atonement of Jesus Christ has blessed me and others. 

Meeting up for exchanges.

Wednesday was Zone Meeting and it was nice to be able to meet my new Zone. I don't know anyone! I find the longer I am on my mission the fewer missionaries I know. About half of our Zone are new missionaries that are in training. So I am having to continue to go and introduce myself all of the time, its fine and that's a part of being a missionary right? President WIlding came and I got to meet and talk with him after which was good. It is so nice to know that your Mission President supports and cares about you when it comes to your thoughts and wishes.

Sister Perry, Sister Johnson, and Elle

Later that day we were meeting the Penn Cove Elders, Elders Sorenson and Hatch. One of our less actives dad is in their ward and she and her husband wanted to meet us at her dads house. Little did we know that it was supposed to be a pass off lessons. We showed up and thought we were just introducing our self's and seeing what we could do to help them. Somewhere in the middle of the lesson I realized that it was a pass off lesson. Her husband Justin is not a member of the church and hasn't really had anything to do with religion his entire life. The discussion we were having was about faith but I didn't feel like this was the problem. It was kind of a problem but if you don't understand some of the other basics you aren't going to understand why we need to have faith. I stopped and taught him about the God head and then asked him how his relationship with God was. Come to find out he doesn't even know if there is a God. There lies a very important problem. If you don't even know if there is a God why on earth would faith be necessary? We talked about how God loves us because we are His Children and asked him to pray and asked God if he is there. I am really excited to go back to their house and hear about the answer that he got. 

Elle, Sister Perry, and Sister Belliston

We get to volunteer at a thrift shop called the WAIF. I want to buy everything in there and so it is kind of hard for me some days, but it is a lot of fun. There are a lot of stray cats and so this thrift store with all of the money that they make take the strays in, help the get healthy, look like a happy cat, and then they find a home for them. They are so cute. We also volunteer at a Senior Center!! I love old people they are so funny and tell some of the best stories.

Saturday we went on exchanges and Sister Perry and I stayed here with Sister Johnson.

Sunday came the talk in Sacrament Meeting. I used a lot of quotes from The infinite Atonement by Tad R. Callister, another talk that I can't think of the name, and True to the faith. In the talk that I can't remember the name of President Gordon B. Hinckley told "something of a parable" about "a one room school house in the mountains of Virginia where the boys were so rough no teacher had been able to handle them, 'Then one day an inexperienced young teacher applied. He was told that every teacher had received an awful beating, but the teacher accepted the risk. The first day of school the teacher asked the boys to establish their own rules and the penalty for breaking the rules. The class came up with ten rules, which were written on the black board. Then the teacher asked, 'What shall we do with one who breaks the rules?' "Beat him across the back ten times without his coat on, came the response, "A day or so later the lunch of a big student, named Tom, was stolen. 'The Thief was located - A little hungry fellow, about ten years old. "As little Jim came up to take his licking, he pleaded to keep his coat on. 'Take your coat off,' the teacher said. 'You helped make the rules!' "The boy took off the coat. He had not shirt and revealed a bony little crippled body. as the teacher hesitated with the rod, Big Tome jumped to his feet and volunteered to take the take the boys licking. Very well, there is a certain law that one can become a substitute for another. Are you all agreed? The teacher asked. After five strokes across Tom's back, the rod broke the class was sobbing. 'Little Jim had reached up and caught Tom with both arms around his neck. " Tom, I'm sorry that I stole your lunch, but I was awful hungry. Tom, I will love you till I die for taking my licking for me! Yes, I will love you forever." President Hinckley then quoted Isaiah: "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows....He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities : the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."

Sister Belliston and Elle on exchanges.

I am so grateful for the Atonement and for the joy and peace that it brings into my life. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that because of him we can live eternally with our families for ever! I love you all so much and hope that you have a great week! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Week 57: Oak Harbor!!!

Elle with her new companions in Oak Harbor.
 Sister Belliston, Elle, and Sister Perry.
Well everyone I was transferred to the Oak Harbor 1st Ward over on the Island of Oak Harbor (To learn more about Oah Harbor Click Here). I have been transferred North and it is so cold! I will have to get over that because it is not going to be getting warmer anytime soon, at least that I know of. I am serving with Sister Belliston and Sister Perry. Sister Bellison has been out 8 months and is from Highland, Utah. Sister Perry has been out 3 months and is from Taylorsville, Utah. Almost all of my companions have been from Utah, I guess that means no one is going to be able to stop these Utah Sisters. 

Elle in her new area of Oak Harbor.
Packing to go was the most stressful thing in the entire world, I personally think it is harder than talking to people. But I did it, I guess I am super grateful I have been in my areas for a long time, because that means I don't have to pack up all of my junk. I told Sister Leininger I wanted to go to Cafe Rio and to Old Navy before I get transferred anywhere. So we went on Monday for P-day and it was a lot of fun! It was really hard to find modest cute clothes, what is wrong with the world? I ask myself that same question all of the time. 

View of the harbor from Elle's apartment.
I knew I was going to be getting two companions I just didn't know where I was going. Brother and Sister Harris gave us a ride home (we have to have a memeber ride to transfers no matter what) and then took us out to eat, so that we could have some food before we went out and worked. The drive up was 2 hours from the mission office, a very long ride from where I had been serving. We went to dinner and a guy came up to me and asked if we were missionaries for the Mormon church? It was all I could do to not get too excited. I told him yes and he started to tell me about how he grew up in Salt Lake and that almost all of his friends were members. We talked for a second and then he went and sat back down. Before we left we went and gave him a pass along card with our number and the address to the church. That was really exciting. 

Elle's new apartment.
We are in a district full of Elders and so this is going to be fun. Hopefully we will all work hard, be obedient and effective in everything that we do. After district meeting we went and saw a member who has a lot of problems emotionally and physically and well by the end of the lesson I had offended her and she was not too happy. I guess she is easily offended so that wasn't anything new. However this was the last thing I was hoping to do in a new area.. Oh well I guess it just means I have a lot to work on which isn't anything new. Our Bishop, Bishop Hopper is a Supreme Court Judge and so he is busy off at work a lot of the week. He is so funny and so nice but I have a feeling he is very good at his job. Brother Carter is our WML (Ward Mission Leader) and he is awesome!! First WML to follow PMG (Preach My Gospel) by the book!!! Good things are going to be happening! 

Getting ready for bed.
We found a new investigator while we were giving service. Her name is Shirley and she is very kind.  If I remember right she is 73 and very kind. I am excited to see what is going to be happening in the next little bit. She is trying to move though and so we were helping her move boxes and pull weeds. She is Christian and knows her Bible very well. I am going to have to step up my game! 

Elle and Sister Leininger on an elevator for
the first time in over a year.
I am going to miss Lynnwood and Sister Leininger, but I am very excited for the adventures that Heavenly Father has in store for Sister Belliston, Sister Perry and me here in Oak Harbor. I love you all so much and hope you have an amazing week full of love and blessings!! 

Sister Belliston, Elle, and Sister Perry

Oak Harbor