Note to self never leave name tag in your car in the middle of the summer... your name tag melts.
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Each day at the visitor center was a special day. We loved the opportunity to take care of the grounds of where we served each and every day. We all laughed and joked with each other. We were able to get to know each other on a new level. I am thankful to have served with each of these missionaries. I had a blessed opportunity to be around them and get to know them.
President and Sister Ellsworth put forth a lot of effort to let us know how special we were especially on our birthdays. They mailed us cards to let us know they loved us. I appreciated how they greeted each missionary with a handshake and reminded us of how much we are loved. There was one particular time when I was struggling a lot. I was on the brink of tears because I was feeling bad about myself. Sister Ellsworth came up, shook my hand and looked me in the eye and told me what a good missionary I was and that she loved me. I am sure in that moment she had no idea how desperately I needed to hear that. I was blessed to have served with President and Sister Ellsworth. I am grateful for the valuable lessons that I learned from them.
President and Sister Ellsworth were always striving to take us to the temple. We were allowed to go once every transfer. Then we had special occasions where the whole mission would go in two days. Another time we had the privilege of going on two endowment sessions in a row. It was a special experience. I learned a lot by doing that. It definitely can be spiritually exhausting but so awesome. (I'm not in either of these pictures. These were before my time.)
Friday, February 19, 2016
Front Row Mariah Noble, Lauren Reed, Rachel Scwartz, Kristen Taylor, ?, Hiliary Newton, Andrea Lopez, Ashley Burton, Eileen Crawford, Helen O, ?, Annelize
Back Row: Emily Kranendonk, Michelle Shurtz, ?, Carrie Carlson, Mary Parker, Jessie Rosedahl, Alex Hartvigsen
I absolutely love these sisters. It was a blessing to be able to serve with them.
Thursday, February 18, 2016
My conversion unto the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is not too crazy, or out of the ordinary. It’s rather plain and simple. A conversion based on full trust in the Lord. But I’ll tell it anyway! About a year and a half ago, I was walking down the street pushing my brother and sister in a stroller. I was having a pretty rough day to end my super rough week. I just was not having a great time. I suffer from severe anxiety and it took a pretty firm hold over my life at that time. It was hot. It was midday. It was Arizona. It was not a good time. Two missionaries came from nowhere and ended up on either side of me. Completely blindsided me. I was raised with no religious background, but we had always hid from and avoided the missionaries. So to be caught in such a situation was a bit overwhelming. For awhile they didn’t say a word. They just rode along side of me in complete and total awkward silence. And then the missionary to my right, Elder Brown, said “You know that Heavenly Father loves you, right? Cause he does. Like a lot. And you’re gonna be okay. Because he loves you.” And then they rode off. I will never understand how he knew that I needed to hear that. And I don’t think he’ll ever understand how much I appreciated those words. I had never been told that before. No one had every told me that I have a Heavenly Father who loves and cares for me. I grew up with all LDS friends, and they always seemed so happy, but I never knew why. I will forever remember and be grateful for that day. I ended up running in to those same Elders later on in the week, and I agreed to a lesson.
The first time they came, old habits kicked in and I hid behind the door until they left. The second time, I left the house before they got there. The third time I opened the door, and they couldn’t find a male to join us, so we had to reschedule. And similar stories went on for fourth to the eighth encounters with the missionaries. Eventually I gave up. I figured that if this wasn’t working out, then it wasn’t right. It wasn’t what I needed. But I knew I needed something. About six months later, I finally gave in to the 18 years of nagging I had been forced to listen to from my best friend Jazmin. And I came to church with her. Which was a huge deal for me. I walked into the building and knew within five minutes that I was exactly where I needed to be. I felt like I was at home. Which is a feeling I had never felt before. I was pretty upset with myself for holding out for so long. I was completely overcome with the Holy Spirit. After sacrament meeting I was introduced to the sister missionaries. These Sisters were placed into my life by the hands of my Heavenly Father. I know that with complete and total certainty. They answered every unspoken prayer I had kept pent up in all of my, then, 19 years. I agreed to take the lesson from them and we scheduled a time for later on that week. By the end of that lesson I knew that I was going to be baptized. The rest of the lesson flew by, and it’s all sort of a blur. Considering they happened so fast. I remember key parts, like praying for the first time by myself out loud. And I remember praying out loud in front of Jazmin for the first time, we both cried for hours after the Sisters left. It was such an amazing experience. Next thing I knew I was in the water with Colton, who baptized me. I remember we were both shaking so bad that the water had little waves. Coming up from the water was by far the best experience I’ve ever had. I instantly felt clean. I felt loved. I felt perfect. I vowed to do whatever I could to keep that feeling for the rest of my life.
Which leads me to now. I’ve been baptized for almost 9 months, and it’s hard. And it’s getting harder. But there is nothing worth more to me than my covenants with Heavenly Father. And I know that by keeping those promises, and by keeping blind faith no matter how hard the circumstance, I will always be okay. I will always be saved. And I will always be grateful. I have a strong testimony of missionary work and the influence it can have on others lives. No matter how small the gesture, it will make a difference. Whether it be telling a stranger that their Heavenly Father loves them, or smiling at the old man at the market, it makes a difference. I know that if we trust in the Lord and all of his doings we will be blessed. We do not have to understand why things are happening to be grateful for them. I know that by praying and reading scriptures diligently we will find answers to questions we didn’t know we had. And I know that by loving everyone we meet, we will feel the love our Heavenly Father has for us more strongly than ever before. I am so grateful for all of the amazing people who are a part of my conversion story. And I love them with all of my heart. All of these things I know to be to true, and I leave them with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Mike and Tami Grooms are a family I met in my first area. They had friends in the Mountain Ridge ward. Mike and Tami live in the Las Sendas ward. Sister Parker and I tried contacting them. Sister Lewis and I tried contacting them. Sister Avila and I tried contacting them and we finally were able to meet them.
Tami's friend told us that Tami would appreciate some extra help around the house. We offered and Tami was shocked that we would come in and offer help. Sister Avila and I went in and cleaned the house for her. We went three different times. Each time we went we taught her more about the gospel each time. Tami was surprised to hear everything we were sharing with her. She was shocked that us young girls would come and serve a mission and leave our families.
Tami thought that what we were teaching was beautiful. You could see how much she loved hearing what we were teaching her. We tried setting up a time for us to come and teach her with her husband in an evening. I was transferred before we could continue to teach. I don't know the rest of the story.
When I got home from my mission is when I received this picture from Sister Avila. She let me know that Tami and Mike did get baptized. I was so happy and excited to hear it. Made me cry when I heard about it. This was a moment I needed. A lot of the time I felt my time was wasted as a missionary. I felt like because I didn't see people get baptized I wasn't a good missionary. I was taught in this moment that my time was not wasted. Even now as I write this I feel the spirit witness to me that my time as missionary was not wasted. I am thankful for that witness of the spirit.
One of the last times I went to visit Arizona I stopped by Tami's house. She recognized me. I wasn't sure if she would but she did. Tami was so excited to see me. She had tears in her eyes being in touch with me. She thanked me for what I had done for her.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Elder Beckstrand is the visitor center director. He is a good man. He knows when to be serious and get to work. He typically has a stern face. He calls it his thinking face. We sisters have been teasing about his serious face. We tell him he needs to smile more. This is us with a serious face and a happy face. I took pictures of all the sisters so to put in a frame for Elder Beckstrand as a surprise. We decorated his office with balloons and smiley faces. Elder Beckstrand definitely learned to smile more because of us sisters. We could bring a smile to his face. We all love him dearly.
Sister Boudet France and Sister Crawford Washington State
Sister Shurtz Clearfield Utah, Sister Kranendonk Utah, Sister Javed Pakistan
Sister Mendoza Utah, Sister Miller Oregon, Sister Gordon Provo Utah
Elder and Sister Livingston Ogden Utah
Sister Brownell Oregon and Sister Smith St. George Utah
Sister Schwarts Georgia and Sister ? England
Sister Cottrell Kaysville Utah and Sister DeMille Cedar City Utah
Sister Hamstead Georgia and Sister Weber Mexico
Sister Noble Indianna and Sister Holladay American Fork Utah
Sister Dashjav Mongolia
Sister Avila Texas and Sister Lewis Taylorsville Utah
Sister Aquino Mexico, Sister Slater Tulsa Oklahoma, Sister Watkins Alpine Utah Sister Christensen Kearns Utah
Elder and Sister Jenkins Vernal Utah
Here we are decorating his office. We wanted it to be a big surprise for him. He got a good laugh out of it.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Zone breakfast! It was super cold this morning. But we had a wonderful time. Sister Carrie Carlson and Sister Rachel Scwhartz.
Sister Schwartz, Elder Davidson, Sister Carlson
These are pictures of the members home in which we lived in. Sister Carlson and I would practice songs together. We actually performed a song together that she had always wanted to perform. It was called May I serve Thee. It came from the Ensign magazine. Sister Carlson's sister performed the same song on her mission.
We spent a lot of time and I mean a lot of time here at the Superstition Villa Apartments. You could find the most interesting people here. This is where my little India family lived. Jackie and her family lived here. Plenty of other adventures happened here. It was definitely always an adventure when we came.
Sister Carlson and I making phone calls. A regular routine on the mission.
Here is the kitchen. Sister Carlson broadened my horizons of things that I could eat. She was always mixing together the most interesting concoctions. She would buy a lot of canned food and throw them all together in the same bowl. She always made sure she had a meat, a vegetable and a grain.
Our bedroom and our desks where we studied and spent a lot of time planning. My puzzle quilt made by mom was my favorite thing.
Sister Carlson and I on our bikes. We had so many adventures on our bikes. You feel like a REAL missionary when riding a bike. The craziest things happen and you meet the most interesting people. We had different guys be flirty. Sometimes you would feel weird and want to run the other direction. Sister Carlson and I had the best time together. She was a great example to me. I learned a great deal from her. She was always striving to have the gift of Charity. She taught me much about that topic.