Monday, January 26, 2015

A Parent Trap Moment

Area: Serenada
Companion: Sister Melissa Rowley

Good Afternoon!

I have been so excited to email y'all since transfers. I am in the Serenada ward. Transfer day was awesome, but totally exhausting. I was surprised to find out that I was going to Austin. Me, along with some other missionaries would be heading to Austin where we would do another transfer meeting to find out who our new companion is and where our new area is. It was about an hour and 45 minute drive. Sister Rowley, and I drove together on the way up, not knowing we would be companions. It was exciting to find out we were companions! We went on exchanges with each other a few weeks ago and were in the same district. This area is sooo different than Converse. I am in love with the homes. It's a very rural area with A LOT of deer. More deer than I've ever seen in my life. I was somewhat puzzled by that because I thought deer only lived in the mountains. Ha ha! The ward is incredible! We have a fantastic ward council, and the people are so supportive and missionary oriented. Sister Rowley and I were doubled in [meaning they are both new to the area] to an Elders area. Elders have served here for over 10 years. The ward is thrilled to have Sister's.

Now for some news that is going to blow you away!! I've been so excited to tell y'all. At the end of Thursday night, I was curious and asked Sister Rowley what her Dad's name is... Her Dad is Lin Rowley. I asked her if he has a brother named Ty, and he does! Her Dad is Mom's cousin! I was super excited when she said that. I was like, "No way!" I couldn't get over it. I just couldn't stop asking her things specific to the Rowley's. We both just laughed and showed each other pictures. Her and I are second cousins! At one point I commented that this is like a parent trap moment. All our stuff was everywhere. The living room was a mess. We've been doubled in and don't know anyone or anything about the area, and we showed each other pictures. She said that all we needed was peanut butter oreos. I can't believe we've lived so close to each other for so long and have never known each other until we came on our mission. We would never have known if we weren't companions! Her name is Melissa, she's 22 and graduated from college, but decided to come on a mission. I also found out yesterday that she wrote "Knights of the Right". THIS IS SO AWESOME!! Sister Rowley is very humble and a fantastic missionary. She's been out for 3 months. She just finished training. I feel such a connection with her. We're not only family, but close family! :D What a blessing to have her as my companion and to be doubled in with her, of all people.

Sister Melissa Rowley and Sister Annelise Record

Coming into an area after Elders is interesting... We have a lot of work to do. Nothing is organized, we don't have a map, and the apartment is pretty gross. But hey, it's part of the adventure. The Elders really have done some amazing work. I'm really grateful for the path they have paved for us. But yes, we have some work to do....

Going to church on Sunday was a delight. I'm telling you, the members are smothering us with love. Ha ha.. A focus that Sister Rowley and I are going to have is working with the members. We are really striving to have inspirational visits with them and gain their trust so that we can really work side by side with them. We want to do a lot of referral teaching. In the Book of Mormon we read of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies (see Alma 23-27). After they were converted, and after the first battle where the Lamanites slayed so many of them, they were again in danger of the Lamanites coming to slay them. Ammon, the Nephite missionary, suggested to the king that they come with him to the land of Nephi and join the people there. The kind of initially hesitant, but after receiving confirmation from the Lord, said they would go and be their slaves. Ammon told him that being their slaves was not necessary. They journeyed over to the land of Nephi. The Anti-Nephi Lehies stayed outside of the borders of the land, while Ammon and his brethren went in and told them of the conversion of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. He told them of the covenant they made not to take up arms against anyone and how they were in danger of being slain. He asked them if they could come in and join the people of Nephi. The Nephites responded readily. They were very open and welcoming. They provided a place for them to inherit, the land of Jershon. It was in between two lands that would provide safety. Not only that, but the Nephites were willing to defend them. They set their armies around the land of Jershon to protect the Anti-Nephi-Lehies so that they would not have to break the covenant they had made. This sounds like a very good ward to me. A ward that takes in these recent converts and strengthens them. They provided a place of refuge and safety, and they were full of love for them and the covenant they had made. Years later The Zoramites, who were less active, are taught by Alma, Ammon, and their brethren. The Zoramites had fallen away, but those who believed and desired to return, retreated to the land of Jershon. It is my hope, that each ward can be a land of Jershon. A place of refuge for every soul seeking to make and keep sacred covenants.

I also want to say, that I am so grateful for the time I've had to spend with Sister Foster. I have learned so much from her.

It is an amazing experience to serve a full time mission. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I am so grateful to be here. I'm grateful for the trust the Lord has given me to lead out an area that we're both brand new to. I definitely could not have handled that earlier in my mission. It's hard work, but miracles are happening. As we continue to get our bearings, I know that miracles are going to happen this transfer. Miracles have already happened this transfer. Thanks for all y'alls support and love.

I love you so much. But I love the Savior more.

All in.

Sister Record

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Transferred to Georgetown, TX

Area: Serenada (Georgetown, TX)
Companion: Sister Melissa Rowley

We found out from a member in the area that Sister Record has been transferred to Georgetown, TX and will be serving in the Serenada Ward. Her new companion is Sister Rowley. Sister Record's mother's maiden name is Rowley. It is highly probable they are cousins. We will find out more on Monday.

Sister Rowley and Sister Record

Monday, January 19, 2015

Adventures on the Texas Horizon

Area: Converse
Companion: Sister Victoria Foster

We got transfer calls yesterday! And guess what? It's finally happening. I'm being transferred. That's not all though, I'm being doubled in. Meaning, my new companion and I will both be brand new to the area. I'll still be senior companion. My guess is that what ever area I'm going to is currently an Elders area and they're switching it to Sisters. It could be anything though. We shall see on Thursday. I really look forward to this adventurous learning opportunity! :)

Last week we ran into a man who was walking down the street. He was a ways away, so we had walk up to him. He ended up being fairly open. He really didn't know a lot about Jesus Christ or Heavenly Father. He believed in a higher power, but hadn't given it much thought. We were able to teach him a little about how God is our loving Heavenly Father and who Jesus Christ is. At the end, we invited him to pray. He had never really prayed before, but he offered one of the most beautiful prayers I've ever heard. It was so simple. One of the things he said really stuck out to me. He said something like, "we are just seeking truth." The spirit was really powerful. I then pulled out a Book of Mormon and told him, "You said you're seeking truth. Here it is." There was about 10 seconds of silence. The Holy Ghost was testifying to him that right in front of his eyes was the truth he had been seeking. Wow... I know the Book of Mormon is true! It's moments like that where I cannot deny of it's power and my testimony of it is strengthened even more. That day was really cold, but in that moment of eternity, we barely even noticed. The warmth of the gospel was flaming within our hearts. We testified that what he was holding in his hands was truth, and that he would gain strength and answers to questions he's had all his life, by sincerely reading it. We invited him to read and pray, and he committed to. Hopefully we'll be seeing him again soon.

I remember being in the MTC and wondering how in the world I would be able to talk to people, and teach them the message of the restoration smoothly. I wanted my words to be smooth as sand, but they felt rough and rocky. Our last day at the MTC, the Elders had already left for Georgia, and each of the Sister's received a priesthood blessing from our teacher. Recently I looked back on some thoughts I wrote down from that. One thing that I was blessed with was that I would be able to speak like I've never spoken before. I was told again and again not to be afraid, to open my mouth, and to have faith in my Savior. I am truly humbled to see that the Savior has enabled me to speak as I've never spoken before and to teach with the spirit and with power. I know, and have a personal witness, that the Savior makes weaknesses strengths, that this is HIS work, and we are a part of it. The person I am becoming is only through the grace, mercy, and love of my Savior. I could not accomplish what he asks of me without his help. I have watched, as my companions and I have been given courage to open our mouths, and miracles happen. In 2 Nephi 32, we're promised the tongue of Angels. What a glorious thing to be a witness of.

One of my new favorite scriptures is Alma 26:22. We've been sharing it a lot lately with members. It says,

"Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing- unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed, yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance..."

What is that scripture saying? Those who repent, exercise faith, do good works, and pray continually will be instruments in bringing thousands of souls to repentance. "Thousands", initially seems like a daunting number, doesn't it? But think of it. When we are living in this way, others see our example. And whether we know it or not, our light has impacted them in some way. In turn that affects that persons children, grandchildren, and others around them. Then we think of all our friends and acquaintances. The Lord wants us to share his light and to shine forth. In fact, he has commanded us to (See Matthew 5:14-16). By turning ourselves to him, he makes us instruments in his hands to bring thousands of souls unto repentance. It is the way we live our lives, the quiet, humble acts of service, the private prayer of faith, the courage to stand for truth always, especially when others back down. What a wonderful opportunity to be on Earth at this time, and to be a part of this magnificent work. Everyone has a part to play.

Yesterday in Relief Society someone made a comment that we learn to pray at our Mother's knee. That brought tears to my eyes and reminds me of the song, "Love is Spoken Here" I've quoted it before, but I want to quote it again because it means so much to me.

"I see my Mother kneeling with my family each day. I hear the words she whispers, as she bows her head to pray. Her plea to the Father quiets all my fears. And I am thankful, love is spoken here.
"Mine is a home where every hour is blessed by the strength of priesthood power. With Father and Mother leading the way, teaching me how to trust and obey. And the things they teach are crystal clear, for love is spoken here."

Those are the words of my heart. I know that the family is ordained of God. And that we are meant to live together forever. I am grateful that my parents have taught me how to love.

I feel so blessed to be here. And look forward to sharing stories of the adventures, miracles, and growth that will come from a new area and being doubled in. :) I love all y'all so much. But I love the Savior more.

All in.

Sister Record

Monday, January 12, 2015

An Incredible Week!

Area: Converse
Companion: Sister Victoria Foster

This has been an incredible week! I feel so humbled to be on the Lord's errand. We have seen so many miracles!

Thursday was exchanges. Sister Johnson, our sister training leader came to Converse with me. We were in an apartment complex and randomly knocked on a door. We met a woman who let us in, and we ended up teaching her about the Plan of Salvation. We don't usually start with the Plan of Salvation, but the spirit truly guided us in knowing what to teach in that moment. She had a lot of questions that we were able to help her with. When we began teaching her about the spirit world, she was very intrigued, and a little confused. She told us a story about when she was 14, she got in a really bad accident. Everyone said she died, but she was really confused because she remembers looking down at her body, and looking at all the people around her. She kept trying to comfort her sister. She lived, and she got better. It was an incredible, miraculous story. And we were able to use that to teach her about life after death, our life on Earth, and Heavenly Fathers plan for us to be happy and return to him. We invited her to be baptized and said she would. No specific day yet because she's leaving for Mexico, but she felt the spirit confirm of the truthfulness of Gods plan for us. It's amazing how God know's the hearts of his children. And by listening to them, and being in tune to the spirit, their needs are met.

Sister Rowley, Sister Johnson, Sister Foster, Sister Record, Elder Winn (District leader), and Elder MacDonald

That whole day was full of miracles. We had so many lessons, and were able to contact a lot of referrals on top of that.

Friday we had a beautiful lesson with {D}, a less active woman. She is so sweet and eager to learn. Once again, my testimony of listening to the person, and listening to the spirit was strengthened. Sister Burton said once, "First observe, then serve." The same is true in teaching. First observe then teach. When we got there we asked her how her day went. She told us about some difficulties she's been having at work with co-workers not being very nice. She has a sweet, sensitive spirit, so it's easy to tell that she normally gets along with people. We listened intently with love as she described some things that have been hard. It reminded me of an experience I had when working before my mission. I had a particularly hard time with my boss because he was hard to get along with. After listening, I told her of my experience praying for charity. And how that changed my life. We then read Moroni 7:43-48 which talks about charity. And guess what! Earlier that day she had been thinking about charity and that very scripture came to her mind. The spirit was so strong. GOD KNOWS AND LOVES HIS CHILDREN!!! We had no way of knowing that ourselves. That was precisely what she needed, and completely unplanned. God had already revealed to her that day that charity was the answer, and then it was powerfully confirmed during our visit. Because we listened to her and to the spirit. Planning is very important in having that foundation, but listening is even more important and being willing to stray from the lesson plan, and perhaps go a totally different route. Wow... This is indeed Jesus Christ's work, this is his gospel, and it is true! We invited her to pray for the gift of charity and readily committed to doing so.

We're teaching a new family, the {C} family. They too are very eager to learn. He listens to A LOT of preachers. So it can get kind of interesting teaching them sometimes. He is a very curious guy and asks really good questions. I think the key with him is not to be intimidated by his questions. We were able to answer all of them through the Book of Mormon. The promise that Heavenly Father gave us that we will not be confounded is true. As long as we have the Holy Ghost with us. The Book of Mormon is true! It answers the questions of the soul. It holds the fullness of the Gospel. I love the Book of Mormon, and know that it's true, with all my heart. It is the word of God, as is the bible.

Another miracle we experienced is that the {M} finally excepted a baptismal date for January 31! We were having an unexpected lesson with them and were reading from the Book of Mormon, when {I} said that they know it's true. She told us that they were having a conversation the other day about it the other day. She told us that she feels it in her heart and knows it's true. It was in that moment that pointed out to them that they've received a witness from the Holy Ghost. We invited them to be baptized. {I} was more enthusiastic, {K} still has his reservations but he knows it's true too. I stopped him before he could tell us any of his reservations again and told him that we've already heard his concerns and invited him to set them aside and be baptized. We reminded him that the Lord has already told him that this is the right thing to do, and he accepted! That is so huge for him!! Ahhh! Once we got in the car, we let out our excitement. Ha ha. We'll be striving to do everything we can to help them progress towards that day. I know that whatever happens, it's in the Lords hands.

Sister Annelise Record
Being a missionary is hard... But sooo worth it. I wouldn't trade this life changing opportunity for the world. I love the Lord. And I love being a part of his work in bringing souls unto him. I have felt my boldness increase as I have poured out my heart in mighty prayer.

A funny moment that I had with Sister Johnson is we were knocking on some doors and we ran into someone who spoke only Spanish. She did her best to give him a pass along card. As we were walking to the next house I pulled out a Spanish pass along card and suggested that we read it. We joked about having it up in our face. Then I demonstrated holding it up in my face and saying in a monotone voice, "Good afternoon... my name is Russell." Guess what movie that's from? :) [Up (2009)]

Mom, Dad, Lorielle, Jason, Chris, Eric, and all my family and friends, I love you so much. But I love the Savior more. All in, and on to victory!

Sister Record

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year!

Area: Converse
Companion: Sister Victoria Foster

Happy New Year!

I am so grateful for this new year and the opportunities that await. It has been a wonderful week! :D

On Tuesday we had exchanges. Sister Rowley came here to Converse. She's been out for about two months. I have no idea it we're related or not. She is very calm and collected. I was impressed by how mature she is, and how much she's getting everything down so quickly. I learned that she's 22. She could pass as a 19 year old though, so I was surprised, but not. It made sense with how collected she is. I learned a lot from her humility. We experienced a few miracles that day. We stopped by [M] totally unexpectedly. We didn't even have him planned. We read some of the book of Enos with him, talked about prayer, and prayed with him. Before we left, he started crying and thanked us for coming. He said that before we came, he was having a really bad time. I've never seen him cry, so it was very touching. Once again, this work is not my work. It is the Lords work. There is no way we could have known to go by his house at the precise moment he needed it.

That same night, we went to the home of a less active woman named [D]. She was having a really tough time because a close friends mother had passed away that morning. Sister Rowely and I sang "Where Can I Turn For Peace?" and "Be Still My Soul". In that moment we didn't know what to do or say to comfort her. But the message of those songs were what she needed. We talked about the plan of salvation, but ultimately it was the music that touched her heart. Music is such a powerful tool in inviting the spirit and speaking to hearts in a way that just words cannot.

On new years eve we were able to do a service project for a woman in the ward. She ended up bringing a young man out who she called her "second son". She sat him down in front of us, told him her conversion story, and asked him just to listen to what we had to say. No pressure. Ha ha! It was totally unexpected. I felt the spirit and could almost hear the words, "Teach him about the Book of Mormon." The impression was very distinct. We taught him about the Book of Mormon, and testified boldly of it's truthfulness. I felt the spirit urge me to promise him that  as he studies the Book of Mormon with a sincere heart, and asks God if it's true, he would find the direction he'd been searching for his whole life, and that we could mend family relationships. It was truly powerful.

Also, we had a really touching experience visiting a woman. Her husband passed away some time ago and it's been really hard on her and her family. She's been struggling spiritually and financially. She's a less active member. We ended up teaching her and her daughter the Plan of Salvation. We boldly invited them at the end to read the Book of Mormon. The spirit was really peaceful and powerful as we did. [G] offered the closing prayer and broke down in tears near the end of her prayer. She was praying in Spanish so I didn't know what she was saying, but the feeling in the room was powerful. She told us that the night before she had been praying for help and she knew that this was her answer. Wow...

I know that the Savior lives. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. The people in it are real people, the stories apply to me and I feel the power of it each time I read. Mighty prayer is indeed a reservoir of power. I have felt an increase in strength and boldness as I have poured out my heart to my Father in Heaven. I know that we have God's priesthood on the Earth. He has always had a prophet who holds the keys of the priesthood and receives revelation. His gospel has never changed. I know that the power of the priesthood is real, because I have felt it's influence in my life. I have been healed spiritually and physically many times. Jesus Christ is my Savior, and his love demands my soul. I love the Lord. I love his work. I will do whatever he asks me to do.

I am so grateful to be serving Him, on a mission.

I love you! All in!

Sister Record