Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Just Desire to Believe

Area: Serenada
Companion: Sister Melissa Rowley

Good afternoon!

It's been a great week. The other day I was pondering about an experience I had years ago. It was when Jason, Chris, Lorielle and I stayed with our cousins in California for three weeks. I was about 10 or 11. We were at a day camp in a park doing some activities, when a couple of LDS missionaries sat down on a bench a little ways away from the table I was at. My two younger cousins ran over to hug and greet them. I stayed behind. The leader of our group didn't know a whole lot about our church and had some misconceptions. She began telling the girls all the weird things about Mormons that weren't true. [Apparently the leader's remarks were prompted by the Missionaries sitting down at the park.] Things like, their not allowed to watch TV, or drink soda, etc. I wanted to badly to tell her that those things weren't true and that I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was so close to opening my mouth, but I was too scared to stand and defend my beliefs. I was a little shy, and I held back. I had always regretted doing that. This experience has been one that has shaped my life and taught me to always stand up for the truth. A profound thought came to me the other day about this experience. I would not have had that learning opportunity if it weren't for the missionaries being in the park that day, at that moment. They may or may not have had a chance to share the gospel with anyone in that park. Maybe the only people who welcomed them were two young children, my cousins. But because they were there, I had an experience that changed my life. I would not be as bold as I am, or have the the testimony I have if it weren't for those two missionaries. We never know what kind of impact we're making. And the person who was impacted may never realize they were impacted until years down the road.

We had the wonderful opportunity to watch the general womens meeting on Saturday. What a spiritual feast! I can't wait for general conference this weekend. :D I loved President Eyring's talk about comforting those who stand in need of comfort. I have found great joy in fulfilling my baptismal covenant to bear one anothers burdens, and comforting those who need it. I feel like this is an important message that Heavenly Father is teaching me. Isaiah 35:3-5 comes to mind. "Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped." That is the scripture on my plaque at home.

We had a powerful experience with a less active man. He lives with his parents who are very active and faithful, but he has fallen away. We were having dinner at their house and amazingly he joined us on his own. For our dinner message we taught the message of the Restoration. He brought up some doubts. The spirit helped us know exactly how to address it. I felt impressed to ask him directly if he believes that God is his eternal Father. To which he replied, "I can't answer that right now, because I don't know." I told him that is the perfect answer. It's okay not to know. I then asked him if he wants to believe, or even if he wants to want to believe. He thought about it for a moment and said yes. I read Alma 32:27 which says, "...even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let that desire work in you. Even until ye can give place for a portion of my words." I told him that God has said that if we want to believe, that is enough. We must let that desire work in us. I could tell the spirit was working in him, and I pointed that out to him. I then asked him, "Will you pray to know if God is there? And if he loves you?" After some thought he said he would. I promised him that if he does so with a sincere heart, that God would manifest himself to him and he would receive an answer. Sister Rowley also bore powerful testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. It's amazing how the Lord speaks through us, because I know that those were not my own words. It was completely inspired by the spirit. When the parents saw us in sacrament meeting, they thanked us and said that we touched him. They've been praying for him to be touched for a long time.

There is a talk by President Erying called "Rise to Your Call". It's really good. One thing he talked about really stuck out to me. "The Lord will magnify the words you speak in the eyes of the people you serve." How true that is, if we are living worthy of his spirit. I am quite aware of my own inadequacies, but those don't matter if we hand them over to the Lord and allow him to work in us in bringing about his eternal purposes. I'm grateful for the opportunity I have each day to serve, learn, and stretch.

Yesterday we got to talking to a man on his doorstep and came to find out he was Atheist. We asked if we could pray with him, which he reluctantly allowed us to do. He talked and talked about some of his thoughts and opinions, all of which we know can be answered with the message of the restoration and God's plan for us. It was so interesting to be talking to him, because I felt such tremendous love for him. Even though he wouldn't let us get a word in and wasn't open at all to anything we had to offer, I felt so much love for this man. I felt as though God was helping me see him how he sees him. There are certain absolute truths that exist in the universe. One of those is the law of gravity. Someone can be completely and totally convinced that the law of gravity is not true. They can do everything in their power to try and defy the law of gravity. But even then, it still stands. When we drop a pen, it falls to the ground. When we walk, we don't float. In the same way, God's eternal truths are absolute and cannot be changed. One of those truths is that He is our Father, and we are his children, and he loves us. Even though this man didn't believe in God, I felt within my heart how much God loves him. I felt true and genuine love for him. That is the gift of charity, and I am so grateful for these opportunities to feel that gift. Gifts are not something we already have, but something given dependent on our asking and our worthiness.

I have an absolute sure testimony that God is our loving Father in Heaven. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. Joseph Smith was and is the prophet of the restoration, called of God to lead and guide his church in the last days. Our current prophet is President Thomas S. Monson, who holds all the keys of the priesthood, just as each prophet before has. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lords kingdom on the Earth. It is true and it is living. Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Without him, there would be no hope, no peace, no point. Through him, is life eternal. In his name, amen.

Sister Record

All in!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Jonah Days and Tender Mercies

Area: Serenada
Companion: Sister Melissa Rowley


It's funny you should mention that Jason sang in Stake Conference. Way to go, Jason! Guess what? I sang in church yesterday too. It was kind of like a quartet. There were six of us. Sister Rowley and I, another woman, and three men. We sang the hymn, How Gentle God's Commands, a capella. Brother Karchaske blew the pitch pipe, and I sang the first line, solo. I have never done anything like that in my life. The awesome thing is, I didn't even care. I wasn't nervous, because I literally sing all the time everywhere. When Jason got home from his mission I loved how much he had come out of his shell and I wanted that very same thing to happen to me. I am grateful and humbled at how much confidence the Lord has given me. When we were practicing the song everyone just randomly decided that I should sing the first line solo. Before my mission I would have resisted, but I figured, why not? The Lord is blessing me in many ways.

It was missionary Sunday, so Sister Rowley gave a talk on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and a balanced life. She did a fantastic job. I'm so proud of her. Everyone was complimenting her. Brother Karchaske, our ward mission leader, also gave a talk. It was very spiritually nourishing day not only for us, but for the ward members as well.

Also on Sunday, {L} stayed all three hours for the first time! She gave up tea and coffee, which let me tell you, teaching her the word of wisdom was not a fun experience. But she has so much faith and despite the challenges she has, she is willing to do it because a prophet of God asked us to. She knows that it's a commandment from God and is willing to do it even though she doesn't fully understand why. So far, she's still planning on getting baptized this Saturday. She has her interview tomorrow! It's really exciting to watch her change and grow. She is very different now than when we first met her. The timing was perfect, because I don't know if she would have been open to Elders. This week I've been learning a lot about the Word of Wisdom.

We had quite the "Jonah day" on Friday, as Anne of Green Gables would put it. Meaning, EVERYTHING went wrong. At the end of the day I just had to laugh. We had a little bit of a rough start in the morning, throughout the day all of our appointments fell through, even {L}, who never falls through. Are backup plans weren't as sufficient as we thought they were, so we had some time where we were sitting in the car trying to figure out what to do because we were in Sun City where we're not allowed to do normal tracting. We didn't see very may people, except for a less active couple and a former investigator. The former investigator, {C}, didn't want to listen to a lesson, but told us everything that was going wrong in her life. Bless her heart. At about 3:00 it started pouring rain. Just as we were getting back in the car, with wet feet, a light went on on our dash board. We ended up taking the car into the shop and they took our vehicle for a couple days. We scrambled to find someone in the ward who could pick us up. We found someone, but it took them forever to get there because there were a couple accidents on the freeway. They took us directly to our dinner appointment which we were about 5 minutes late to. We didn't get out of there until about 6:15. So late! FYI, missionaries have to be done with dinner by 6. You'll make their lives easier if you already know that. ;) All evening we were exhausted and frazzled. We got home and tried really hard to plan in 30 minutes, but it dragged on for a while. I really did laugh at this by the end of the day. How often do I get to have a day like that? Rarely does everything go crazy at once.

Now, let's look at all the tender mercies I saw in this day. That morning in personal study I enjoyed a spiritual feast from Alma 51. I love the Book of Mormon. During that time when we were trying to figure out what to do with all this time we now had in Sun City, we were able to call a Brother from the ward and bring him with us to an unexpected lesson with the less active couple. Before it started raining, we were able to talk with {C}, the former investigator. No, she wasn't in a listening mood, but she really needed someone to listen to her. We listened with love for quite some time. For a while she was talking to us through the door but after she felt more comfortable with us she let us in. The spirit filled the house as we listened to her, occasionally verifying what she was saying, and added some spiritual insights that changed the atmosphere. We asked her if she would be willing to let us come back and share the lessons with her again. She agreed and after sharing Ether 12:4, we had beautiful prayer. We left her home feeling satisfied that she was better than we found her. The rain was beautiful. We happened to have an umbrella in our car that was left behind by the Elders and it was big enough to fit both Sister Rowley and I. While we were under our umbrella Sister Rowley gave me a little leaf as a "gift". She was joking, but I decided it was the best gift ever and taped it in my journal. :) Our car suddenly needing some repairs was the most exciting part of the day. It put a nice twist to it that pulled us out of our mundane. We were safe getting where we needed to and the Carters were so willing to drive out to help us. They were kind and cheerful despite the weather. We were only 5 minutes late to dinner. We could have been much later. The Noyes' were very understanding. We were able to stay out the whole evening because the rain had stopped and a wonderful return sister missionary in the ward picked us up from dinner and was ready to go. What a blessing!

As Hilary Weeks says in a song of hers, "I may wake up to a sky full of sunshine, or maybe it will rain. I may find my gas tank full or empty. Either way it's okay, it doesn't change how I feel today. It's a good day to have a good day."

Amen, Hilary Weeks! Every day is a good day to have a good day, no matter what happens. I'm grateful for the perspective the Lord has given me to appreciate the little things. Because in reality, it's the little things that make a difference. I love the Lord, and know that this is his work. I love each and every day. "Moments are the molecules that make up eternity." -Neal A. Maxwell

I'm so glad that scripture study is going well for you, my dear family. I love you all. Don't every forget to make the best of what you're given. That is the best way to be happy. All in.

Sister Record

P.S. I hit my 8 month mark today... weird.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Good Afternoon!

Area: Serenada
Companion: Sister Melissa Rowley

I feel so blessed to be serving a mission! We've seen a lot of miracles this week.

As you know, we've been teaching {L}. I'm learning a lot from our experience teaching her. She calls us her flash lights. That's the best way she can describe our glow. She is very analytical and had a hard time trying to describe the power she felt radiating from us, which is the Holy Ghost. She finally settled with calling us flash lights that don't go dim. I find that very interesting, and I love how she feels so connected to that.

Yesterday was an amazing day! There is a woman named {J} who's so busy and hard to get a hold of. Yesterday we decided to give her a shot again. She lives kind of far out in our area. She let us right in and we were able to teach her and her teenage son more about the Book of Mormon. It was a powerful lesson. Initially he only joined because he felt awkward saying no to a couple of ladies. He wasn't really interested. But as we read the introduction to the Book of Mormon and testified of it's truthfulness, the spirit filled the room with such undeniable power. He began to lean forward and listen. It's not hard for {J} to accept, because guess what? She already believes that there had to be other writings other than the bible. She told us that there were so many nations and so many people. It makes no sense to her that we would only have record of people in one part of the world. Can you believe how prepared she is?! We taught them that the Book of Mormon started with a family in Jerusalem 600 years before Christ, ended up in the ancient Americas, and that it teaches the same gospel, etc. When she made that comment, her son leaned forward more and said "yea" as though it was a neat insight that he hadn't thought of before. He asked if he gets to keep the book. It was fun to watch his interest level change. We invited them to read from the Book of Mormon, and to pray and ask God if it's true. They both committed to do so. We are so excited to go back and teach them more. :)

As we were leaving, she referred us to their next door neighbors who just moved in. The woman who answered let us right in, before even knowing what church we're from. She was so kind and invited us to sit down. We introduced ourselves and what church we're from. We asked her how she's felt God's love in her life. She told us how she fought cancer. She has such an inspiring story of hope. She maintained her faith throughout and had a cheerful positive outlook. She's much stronger now, and still alive. It was a neat experience to talk with her. It's amazing how the Lord truly does lead us to those who he is preparing.

I know, with every feeling of my heart, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I drink deeply of it's pages daily and feel the power that comes from doing so. Throughout my life, I've followed the invitation to read, ask God, and find out. I've felt the Holy ghost bear witness to me that it is true. The people in it were real people. I feel more deeply than ever of the truthfulness contained within. President Slaughter once said something like, let us look beyond Book of Mormon stories that my teacher tells to me, and see the Book of Mormon doctrines who's eternal truths shall set me free. (Not a direct quote, but pretty close.) It's true!! It testifies of Jesus Christ, and clarifies things from the Bible. I will declare this with all my heart the rest of my life. And I will defend it with everything that I am. I would give my life for this truth, if called upon to do so.

I am so grateful for the experiences that help me grow and stretch. I am not the same person who entered the MTC. I feel that growth depends a lot on our willingness to submit to the will of the Lord, whatever it may be.

May the Lord continue to bless you all in your various pursuits. I love you! All in!

Sister Record

P.S. How is family scripture study going? I know that y'all are still doing it, but if you've missed some, I encourage you to get back on it. :) I have a strong testimony of the importance of reading the scriptures together as a family. I love you!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Ups and Downs

Area: Serenada
Companion: Sister Melissa Rowley

Good morning!

Right now, it is pouring rain outside where I'm at. There is so much and it hasn't stopped. It's kind of fun.

You'll never guess what happened yesterday. Well, actually if you think really hard you probably can guess. Considering this is dog number 4 that I've caught on my mission. (Dog number 2 for Sister Rowley and I). Ha ha! Once again, we were talking to a man at his door and his little dog took off down the road. This situation was almost identical to the last dog we caught. He told us not to worry and that his son would go catch him. With all the distraction, we didn't get a chance to share a restored truth with him. We drove off and decided to look for the dog. I prayed that we would be able to catch it so that we could go back and talk to that man again. Within 1 minute we saw the dog coming towards us. I told Sister Rowley to jump out of the car as soon as I stopped. She did, and was able to catch it. We brought the dog back, and were able to share some restored truth with that man. He was really nice and we were glad to have another chance. Stay tuned for the next time we catch a dog... :D

Yesterday I got to talk in sacrament meeting with a return sister missionary and her younger brother who is preparing to serve a mission. It was a really sweet experience. The topic was how the youth program prepares us for the future.

This week our investigator is really progressing! She accepted the invitation to be baptized and even accepted a date. We've found that for her, teaching the lessons by reading about it in the Book of Mormon is helping her learn the most. I'll keep y'all updated on the date as soon as it gets closer.

This has been a rough week. It has been full of ups and downs... and downs... and ups... The Saturday before last I was starting to get sick, and was sick for about four days. I had some sort of cold that wouldn't go away and had to go to the doctor just to make sure everything was good. They said I was fine, which was kind of annoying since clearly I was sick. I started feeling better that evening. All week has been a struggle. Just trying to stay focused and upbeat.

On Thursday during weekly planning Sister Rowley and I had a real good talk about some goals and plans for this transfer. We were very prayerful about setting a goal for the number of baptisms we plan to have this transfer. We came to a unified decision. We have both been lacking some umph, so I was very up front about how it's been a rough week, but it's okay. We can move on with a fresh perspective. It was much needed. I was feeling a lot better by then health wise, and I really felt pumped to go out and talk to everyone and invite everyone we teach to come unto Christ through baptism. That afternoon was fantastic. We had a spirit-led lesson with a less active woman. We read Alma 32. She was baptized about a year ago and hasn't read the Book of Mormon or been active since. As we read and discussed how faith is like a seed, her countenance changed and the spirit filled the room. She began to understand. We showed love for her and invited her to come back to church. She committed to and as we left, she still had her Book of Mormon open in front of her and seemed as though she was going to continue reading after we left. What a beautiful miracle. Especially considering the challenge it is for her to read. With the time change, she ended up going to another ward. But did come! And stayed all three hours! :)

"Come Unto Christ", Margaret D. Nadauld, General Conference, April 1998

That determination and commitment has been put to the test again and again. It's hard when no body wants to even hear what we have to say, even for a moment. It's even harder when someone listens for a moment, but we fall short in opening our mouth. I feel exactly like Enoch who bowed himself before the Lord and said, Why is it I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad. And all the people hate me, for I am slow of speech. Wherefore am I thy servant? (See Moses 6:31-32). The Lords response in verse 32 has given me the drive to keep going. He promises Enoch that he will give him utterance and that no man shall pierce him.

It's hard to be in a new area, and to have someone bitterly reject something that is so dear to me. Even with the trials, I have found great peace through prayer and within the pages of the Book of Mormon. I know that everything happens for a reason. Even though we faced so much rejection and I've felt inadequate, I know that the Savior's grace makes all the difference. He gives us strength beyond our own, and I feel that each and every day. 

Miracles happen every day even when things are a little stormy. Once again "gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair." -President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I love you all!

Sister Record


Sick on the couch, making a "sick face"

The doctor drew my blood... for no reason. :P

Silly selfies
Sister Rowley and Sister Record

Sister Rowley and Sister Record

We saw a buck! We usually just see deer. Lots of deer.

Monday, March 2, 2015

I Know In Whom I Have Trusted

Area: Serenada
Companion: Sister Melissa Rowley

"...I know in whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness... he hath filled me with his love unto the consuming of my flesh... O Lord I will praise thee forever; yea my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation." (2 Nephi 4:19-21,30)

I'm not gonna lie, it's hard to be a missionary sometimes. This journey is a journey of love, light, and truth. My desire is to be stripped of "all ungodliness." The process of that is like a tree being pruned. It can be difficult and painful at times but ultimately I've found the greatest joy and growth in doing so. I have found that no matter what difficulties come, when I turn to the Lord, he strengthens me. His grace is sufficient. Of this, I know of a surety.

We got transfer calls yesterday. Sister Rowley and I are staying together. :) We look forward to this upcoming transfer. Maybe it'll feel a little more normal since we know the area better.

This has been a great week! I learned an important lesson on the power of prayer the other day as Sister Rowley and I were praying together. I asked specifically for an opportunity to serve that day. I really felt it, and had confidence that God would provide. I didn't think much of it after that. A few hours later we were out finding people to teach and stopped by a potential investigators home. She thought we were a little crazy for doing this in the cold. It's been really cold the past few days. Texas cold is different than Utah cold because it's more wet and sinks into your bones.. Of course, we didn't mind at all. She told us to come back when it's warmer. And you'll never guess what happened. Her dog got out. Ha ha ha! I think it's my lot on my mission to catch people's dogs. This will be the third time I've gone after someone’s dog. We felt bad for him getting out and tried to get him. They were only in their pajamas so weren't able to get out right away, but told us not to worry about it. So we got in our car and decided to go find the dog. He ended up in a garage. I told Sister Rowley to jump out of the car as soon as I had it stopped. She did, and I followed soon after. We put him in our car, and brought him back to the owner. They were really happy and appreciated us bringing him back. They instantly became more receptive and we were able to talk a little with them. In the future they may be much more open to us teaching them. What a tender mercy! I recognized as soon as we got back in the car that this was a direct answer to our prayer. I began to reflect on how I've asked in the past. I realized that I have not always offered a spirit-led, faith-filled prayer. I now know with deeper understanding that God hears my prayers and he always answers. If we don't seem to receive an answer, perhaps it's because we have not put forth the faith and humility necessary to listen and see. From now on, I will strive to be more faith-filled in my prayers.

We've been teaching a woman named {L}. It has been a learning experience for all of us. She's been through a lot and has so many questions. Questions that are difficult to answer. Because of some things that were happening we started to wonder if we were going to need to stop teaching her. That was really hard. Heartbreaking, in fact. She has come so far and has felt the spirit. We have truly come to love her. It was humbling as we prayerfully prepared for her next lesson. It was going to be the lesson where we determined whether or not to continue. We prayed for the spirit to be with us and did our best to prepare. That lesson was miraculous. We were not the teachers. The Holy Ghost was. We talked about faith and read Alma 32. She once again committed to read the Book of Mormon and to pray about it. The joy we felt after that was indescribable. For now, we will continue to teach her.

There is an old lady in her 90's that lives next door to a family in our ward. We met her once more than three weeks ago after Sister Tan referred her to us. She is so sweet. She's nearly blind, but has a very sharp mind. She has a cute high old lady voice. We decided to stop by two days ago and see how she was doing. As soon as she opened the door we asked her if she needed anything. She let us in and gave us two bags of homemade cookies. It was the cutest thing. I wasn't sure if she remembered us, but after talking to her she remembered us better than we did her. We were teaching her more about the Book of Mormon and she remembered something we told her the last time we came by that we couldn't even remember. Someday I want to be the kind of old lady that has stashes of homemade cookies to give to any random person. Ha ha.

I'm grateful to be a part of this glorious work. I love the Lord.

Sister Record


Pear Seeds! Who knew??

We came to the Andrew's to do a service project. We got there, and they wanted us to make cookies. They were just so excited, we couldn't turn it down. We did it as fast as we could so we could get to something they actually needed help with. Ha ha. It was really fun. And it brightened their day. 

Sister Record and Sister Rowley making cookies

Sister Rowley and Sister Record
Sister Record and Sister Rowley

Sister Record and Sister Rowley

Sister Rowley and Sister Record enjoying some cookies

Yesterday we had dinner with the best family ever! They are so funny. We had a great time with them. (He's the Elders quorum President, and she works with the young women.)

Sister Record and Sister Rowley with a member family