Monday, 30 December 2013

Christmas in Clinton

Starting to become a regular feature of the Clinton newspaper
I feel like I don't have much to say, which is a first for me! This week was wonderful, but seemed a little out of sync. It snowed last weekend and we were stuck inside, and then we had preparation-day, and then Christmas Eve, and then Christmas. It took a little bit to get back into the regular groove. If you couldn't tell I've become a creature of habit after one and a half years of doing very much the same thing everyday. It was a good rejuvenator though and I am ready to take on January 2014.

Christmas was great. Thank you to everyone for the wonderful gifts and cards. I am slowly lowering my expectations when I open the mail box now... we were always so excited because there was something there everyday in December! It was great to hear from family and friends. I had the best time talking to my family on Christmas Day via Skype-- complete with Kwazi and Finley... they had to make a cameo appearance. We had some awesome meals with members on Christmas. I love being full proselyting because we really get to know the members here. Clinton is the best! Christmas is the best too. The one downside is that Sister Penman and I were going to town on the Christmas treats, naively thinking that we would stop after Christmas. That would have happened except for the fact that I got an inordinate amount of trader joes goodies-- not complaining... at all. Hopefully I don't come home from my mission with type two diabetes. But hey, at least all the treats I'm eating are organic!

This is my life: We went to Windsor on Friday. We saw two amish horse and buggies. There's a big amish community out there. We contacted an unknown lady on the roster. Her family is awesome, super friendly, they invite us in. During our introductions the kids realize that the beagle is acting very strange. We do emergency stick removal from the beagles mouth. I feel like my life is super random out here... kind of like this email. 

We went to the temple on Saturday. That was amazing. I love the temple and the spirit there. It is truly the house of the Lord. 

Jessica is one of the investigators that we have been working with. She's the cutest and has the cutest little girl that just looks like a fairy. I love them. She is really progressing. We had a hard time getting ahold of her the week before Christmas, but we just started stopping by. Yesterday she showed us this book she is making as a motivation to help her progress in the gospel. It has a picture of the temple on the front and goals and plans inside it. She is a girl after my own heart... got to love vision, planning, and goal setting. I'm obsessed.

Life is great. I am so grateful to be serving here and I'm really excited to see what January brings!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas in Clinton Miracles

 This has been THE BEST week. We have had tons of appointments, which makes me happy and most of the week it was in the 50s, which also makes me happy. I just LOVE teaching the gospel. I love it. It's the best. Which is why I'd love to work at the MTC when I come home.

 
This weekend was weird though and we had freezing rain. It was 20 degrees and raining. What? Is that even possible. Yes. Naturally, everything the rain hit on the ground froze, because it's 20 degrees. So that left our car and everything else with about a quarter of a inch layer of ice. Don't freak out mom, I didn't drive in it. We spent our Christmas Sunday inside. I was so bummed church was cancelled. Sister Penman and I have never had so much fun scraping off our car though. The ice would come off in huge chunks. We were freaking out. It was the best. Not so much the best now that the storm is over and it's 14 degrees out. Missouri is the weirdest.

We have some really amazing people that are progressing in the gospel!

Megan is married to a member of the church who hasn't been attending.  They randomly came to the ward Christmas party after getting an invite in the mail. Miracle! Megan wanted to learn more. We went over for our first lesson and she made us sandwiches complete with sliced pickles, potato chips, and milano cookies. What? She's the best. I love Megan because she is totally real, no pretenses. She hasn't really dealt much with spiritual things before, but she loves what the church teaches and just wants to learn. We had a second lesson this week and she had read the Book of Mormon and prayed. We were talking about the Holy Ghost and she was like, "You girls are going to think this is so weird, but whenever I pray and I read this book I just feel weird. I feel like strange inside, but not bad. It's like warm and tingly." We were like "uhhhh... no that is not weird, that is the Holy Ghost!" We got to teach her what the Holy Ghost was and help her recognize those promptings. I am so excited to see her progress. I know that she will gain answers to her prayers because she is so sincere.
 
Our second Christmas miracle is Dan. He moved to Clinton on FRIDAY and we knocked on his door on TUESDAY. Not a coincidence. He moved in where an unknown member lived and we were searching out the unknown member. He is very spiritual and has a strong Christian background. We had a great first lesson with him. I know he is going to love the gospel once it all clicks in his mind and heart. Can't wait to see how he progresses.
 
I love Christmas time. It has been so wonderful to celebrate the birth of our Savior. I have thought often this Christmas season of what a miracle that day was. I love the humble circumstances that the Savior of the world was born in-- the stable, with all those animals, and shepherds coming to celebrate his birth. He was born and raised and learned line upon line, just like us.(albeit at a much faster pace!) I love what that day represents in my life. Because of Christmas day we have Easter Sunday, and the Atonement.  I am grateful for his Atonement, because of that I can one day return to live with my Father in Heaven. I will be forever grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ. I am grateful for his example and sacrifice in my behalf. I am grateful to serve him for one more Christmas. I love being his representative.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, 16 December 2013

christmas conference



Some of my best friends from my mission
  This week was AWESOME. I kind of felt like I went on a missionary sanctioned vacation. We had an all mission conference on Wednesday, so Tuesday night we drove down to Independence and spent the night so that we wouldn't have to drive at the crack of dawn from Clinton. It was THE BEST. It was so wonderful to see so many of my missionary friends... not so wonderful to realize that I could be seeing many of them for the last time before I go home. I'm kind of in denial about that so that was a tough realization to make on Wednesday.
These are sisters I have trained and also sisters they have trained
Every zone conference the departing missionaries bear their testimony. There were 17 of us leaving in the next two transfers-- so we had about 2-3 minutes to sum it all up. I thought a lot about what my mission has meant to me and what I have learned and how I could possible wrap that up in 2-3 minutes. One of the greatest things that I have learned on my mission is that God keeps his promises. He does. He is perfect and just and will never deviate from that which he has promised us. I have seen the Lord's promises fulfilled again and again as a missionary. I have seen the Lord put the words in my mouth that I needed to say. I have seen him lead us to those that are prepared to hear our message. I have seen him open the hearts of many people. All of the promises of missionary work have been wonderful, but the most important promise that the Lord has made to us is the promise of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Because of this promise we can repent, we can grow and change. Because of the Atonement we can progress eternally and live with our Father in Heaven one day. On a daily basis the promise of the Atonement enables us to do more than we ever could on our own. I have seen that promise in my life. I know that the Lord will fulfill his promise to us, to make up for all that we lack. ...and that was that. My mission in 2.5 minutes. I didn't even cry, which I was REALLY grateful for. 

We made mission history and took the first All Mission picture. Pretty neat. We ate yummy food and then had a Christmas concert. It was THE BEST! 
Our adorable house in Clinton, Missouri
Then we headed back to real life in Clinton. What was magical was that I wasn't even sad to be going back to Clinton. Even after finding out all that I'd been missing out on at the Visitors Centers and seeing all my VC friends... I was excited to get back here and get to work. I love this place. I'm so grateful to be here for the next chapter of my mission. We have lots of work to do! This week has been wonderful, full of miracles. We have seen a lot of people progress! It is so rewarding to come into an area with nothing and build it from the ground up. We have 5 progressing investigators this week. 5! I've never had that many my whole mission. At the beginning of this transfer we had 0. So amazing. The Lord has blessed us so much here!

Sister Penman & I in Christmas Jammies
I'll save my Christmas lessons and thoughts for next week. Sorry this letter isn't very funny. You win some, you lose some.
I love you all!  Keep the Christmas cards coming :)

Monday, 9 December 2013

BEST DAY EVER!


Nothing could put a damper on this week, not even the below freezing temperatures ALL WEEK LONG. Yesterday it snowed a little, which was fun... for like 2 hours. Because then it froze to the roads. Don't worry mom, we are safe, and we stay mostly around Clinton so we haven't  had to drive too much. They will clear and salt the roads before we have to go out to any of the boonies. Sister Penman think it's hilarious that we are both from these warm temperatures. I am learning the art of layering.
 
Saturday was the BEST DAY EVER. I don't know if I can pick a favorite day of the mission, because I have loved so many of them, but this is certainly at the top. I can't even explain how wonderful it was. I had a permanent smile the whole day. I feel like it is every missionaries dream to have a wedding and a baptism on the same day. It was amazing. And what was the best was getting to go back and celebrate this special day with Sherry and JR and Emily. I felt like I had never left. Everything was the same and I didn't feel out of the loop. It was awesome. Sister Harding and I got to be in a lot of the pictures. We were kind of like "bridesmaids" and Sherry made us bouquets. Ah! It was just the best. The wedding was so cute. Sherry did a great job with the decorations and everything. I realized I had never been to a wedding ceremony before. That is serious business. I loved the promises they made to each other and to know that they were taking this step out of love for each other and for our Heavenly Father. In a year from now they will get to go to the temple to be sealed! I can't even wait for that day. The promises they made to one another won't be "til death do you part" but will be for all eternity. 

After the ceremony they had a small reception after the wedding and it was fun. They had a man playing music and a small dance. I felt awkward. Kind of out of place as a missionary and then I got really uncomfortable when they started playing "Hot in Here"... #missionaryproblems. I almost had to leave haha. On a side note I think I have legitimately arrived as a missionary. We were all eating lunch as a district the other day and some of the other missionaries were singing to the song at the restaurant and I realized that I don't get songs stuck in my head anymore or even think about things like that. It was a strange realization. Probably about as strange as I will be when I come home. Whatever. Consecration brings miracles and we are looking for lots of miracles out here in Clinton.

Ok. So back to the miracle day. The wedding was awesome. It was so neat because they weren't even focused on that. During the reception Sherry was like, "we need to make sure we get done with all of this so that we can get baptized! That's the really important thing today. That's what is for our salvation." Can you believe that? Here is this wonderful woman on her WEDDING DAY and she is more excited for her baptism. It was amazing. She gets it. The baptism was amazing. So many members of the ward came to support. The spirit was so strong, probably the strongest I have felt at a baptism. At the end of the regular baptismal program the Bishop opened up time for testimonies. That usually doesn't happen, but it was so amazing to hear people's testimonies of the restored gospel and their love for Sherry and JR. Sister Grange, Sister Harding, and I all were able to bear our testimonies. I was really grateful for that because I missed out on all the rest of their lessons. 

I was am so grateful for this family. I am amazed by their faith. In a month and a half they changed their lives, they acted, and followed the commandments. They planned a wedding in less than a month and quit all their old habits so that they could follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized. It is such a testimony to me that the Atonement in real. The gospel really can change people and their lives. It was amazing to come back and to see the change that this has made in their family. There is a greater love that they have for one another and the Lord. It is amazing. Mostly I just feel an immense amount of gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of their story and their lives and to make these friends for forever. I can't wait to see the rest of their progression. It was hard to say goodbye, knowing that I wouldn't see them again for awhile, but hey February we can Skype! 

Things are really picking up here in Clinton too. We have built up a pretty good teaching pool and people are really beginning to progress. I am so GRATEFUL that the Lord really does prepare the hearts of people to receive us. It is real! I was reading Jacob 5 today, which is usually a doosy, but I am loving it more and more. I love these last few verses in the chapter. The Lord of the vineyard calls in his servants, and he labors WITH them... 

"And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come. And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things." -- Jacob 5:71-72

I know that that is real and that that is true. There is NO way little Sister Call could show up in Clinton with TWO brand new missionaries and build a solid teaching pool in less than a month, without the help of the Lord. I am so excited to see how these people progress and the miracles that are going to happen here. I am so grateful for this huge task to keep me busy these last couple transfers of my mission. I know that this is the Lord's work. I feel so grateful to be His servant right now, helping and serving His children.

In other news we have a big mission conference on Wednesday in Independence. The WHOLE mission will be there. ALL of my friends. I am beyond excited about that. Isn't this just the best week ever? 

Monday, 2 December 2013

#christmasinclinton

Whoohoo. It is Christmas time! We have been ushering in the holiday season starting the day after Thanksgiving with Christmas music and, well, that is mostly all we have access to. Sooo... if anyone wants to send me a CD of Christmas music I wouldn't hate that. We can listen to the classics and hymns. To quote President Keyes, "none of the dumb Christmas music, like "Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer"" The cute Clinton town square put up some Christmas lights and there are snowflakes on the main street poles. It is very quaint. I love it here. This little town is FULL of miracles.
I'm not going to lie, I suppose I had a pessimistic attitude about full proselyting-- without even realizing it. I've always been a "hope for the best but plan for the worst" kind of person. I figured I would be out here virtually alone, with a companion that I got along with just ok, but didn't have a ton of fun with, and that we would be tracting in the freezing cold all day long. I just thought after having such a perfect and blessed mission that I would need a lot of growing and stretching and hard experiences. Funny, I know. I need more faith apparently because that is NOT what I received. I have had two great companions and this area is amazing. We do tract and street contact a lot but we have been blessed with lots of opportunities to share the gospel here. People in Clinton are kind and so diverse. We have been blessed to find lots of people to share the gospel with and a few of them have even begun to progress this week! Yay! I feel like everyday we go out and Heavenly Father just leads us to people that are open. We have found a new investigator almost everyday, most days we find more than one. Conversations sometimes go like this:
 
"Oh have you ever heard of the Book of Mormon?"
"Yeah. I read it with my Bible." 
"What do you think about it?"
 Oh I like it... I agree with it." 
"Can we come back and tell you where it came from?" 
"Sure" 
 
What?! Ok. I feel so blessed everyday because we have seen so many miracles. The best part is finding and talking to strangers has turned into something that I love, instead of something that gives me straight up anxiety. That is a huge miracle and a huge blessing. I feel as though my testimony and desire to share it have grown so much since I have been here because I am sharing it so much. Plus, there is an unending amount of work to do here. We have about 12 little towns in our area alone. Many of which haven't seen missionaries in months, and have never ever seen sisters. I think the hardest part is just organizing ourselves and finding time to keep up with everything.

I started training Round 2 this week. Sister Penman arrived on Tuesday and she is THE BEST! I love her so much. I feel like we have been companions forever, but that is probably because the full proselyting days can feel like weeks. She is from Henderson, Nevada and is 19 years old. She is awesome and so outgoing and it is so fun to be with her. We laugh a lot. I told her, her job is to "normalize" me before I go home. I don't know if that it will work-- or that I want it to be normalized. I love being a missionary. I can't even say how grateful I am that Heavenly Father gave me a perfect companion for the last two transfers of my mission. Is that even fair to have this much fun? It is. We have the perfect conversation starter because it is so strange that we are both from the west coast. I have learned that most people in Clinton prefer Nevada over California. Rude. 

We sent Sister Boswell off at Thanksgiving dinner. We were able to have it with her family, and a family that they were having it with. She has such an awesome family. She is the oldest of 10 kids, so it was fun to have all those kids running around. She was such an amazing companion. I wish I was even half that awesome at 17. She was a powerhouse and really put me to work. We accomplished a lot while she was here and she was just what I needed to push forward and get things going here in Clinton. We miss her. 

In other news, JR and Sherry are GETTING MARRIED and BAPTIZED this weekend. I cannot wait. I have been mentally counting down everyday for weeks and luckily the time has gone semi-quickly. Last week Sherry asked me to be a bridesmaid at the wedding! Can we talk about a mission dream come true? I love this family so much and I am so proud of them and all the growth they have made. I can't wait to go and see them again and see the progress they have made since I have been gone. Saturday I'll be headed back to Shoal Creek Valley and I can't wait!

I've been re-reading Preach My Gospel again. I love that book. It has taught me SO much about how to become a missionary and what that really means. I am going through the doctrinal lessons right now and it has just made me so grateful for the gospel. It is perfect. All the pieces fit, all the questions are answered. I. Love. It. Everyone should grab a copy and read it.

I think that is all for this week's update. Things are going great here. I can't wait to see these people that we have found progress. We have lots of work to do here!

Monday, 25 November 2013

hello hello from Clinton, MO


Several of the Sister Missionaries on Transfer Day
Many of my past companions

So this week has been AWESOME. Full of finding miracles. I'm so grateful for Sister Boswell because she is such a hard worker. She was always like "Ok, Sister Call, we had better go, lets work, lets go find people, I'm only here for two weeks!" We have been pushing each other a lot this week to really find those that the Lord has prepared. It is amazing the difference between full proselyting and the Visitors Center. At the VC we would have maybe 4 hours a day for proselyting. Add in a dinner, that's only 3 hours, add in some meetings and you may not even get out that day.
 
We have ALL day here. It's been an adjustment but a good one. I have found myself far more confident in my ability to talk to random strangers and talk to everyone. I have made that a goal this week and for the remainder of my time here to talk to everyone I see about the restored gospel. And I don't even hesitate to do it anymore. This is a huge contrast to my very first day proselyting. Poor Sister Sant had to deal with me. I remember we had an appointment fall through and we had some extra time to knock doors. Don't ask me why but I freaked out. What was I expecting? That I wouldn't knock doors on a mission? Anyway, it stressed me out... I kind of had a mild breakdown and I figured if I could eat up enough time feeling bad for myself then we wouldn't have to knock any doors. It worked. I think that is hilarious now looking back that I was such a complete basket case. Bottom line is it is nice to look back and see the change.
 
That was something that I certainly have overcome with the help of my Savior. I love people more now, and I desire their happiness more. I know that the message we share brings that and I want everyone to have it. Even if they look scary or rich or whatever. It is amazing to see people's hearts soften as we testify and teach them.
 
So. Back to the miracles. I have a HUGE testimony of goals. They increase our vision of what we can accomplish. This week Sister Boswell and I set some pretty lofty goals. Go big or go home, right? We had an overall goal to teach 33 lessons and find 8 new friends to share the gospel with. We went out and we worked, and the Lord really did lead us to where we needed to be and who we needed to see. This week we taught 38 lessons and found 10 new friends! We exceeded every goal that we set. I have such a testimony that the Holy Spirit really does lead and guide us, and it is by simple things, like our thoughts. Nothing we did was extraordinary. We prayed, we listened, and then we went out to work knowing that if we were doing our best the Lord would take care of the rest. And he did. I'm so grateful for that. Miracles really do happen! 

Hmmm... Ok. Funny stories. We have met a few teenage boys tracting and EVERY single one of them ends up texting us. We invite them to learn more. They say they want to and then end with the line... "Well, I hope you girls know you are really beautiful". All of them! Obviously the conversation ends shortly thereafter. haha 

I don't even really know what else to say... Sister Penman, my  new companion is coming tomorrow. We will be in a trio for about a day and then drop Sister Boswell off when we have Thanksgiving dinner with her family. So that will be fun. It will be interesting to start all over with the 12 week program and training. Whoohoo! Miracle week round 2. I'm excited to meet her. It will be hard to say goodbye to Sister Boswell though. 

We got our picture taken for the Clinton newspaper. We ended up that very day on the front page, right underneath the picture of an obvious criminal. Whoohoo! Glad we were in such good company. Hopefully people will read the paper and will realize that we aren't criminals as we are traipsing through their neighborhood. 

I received word from Sister Harding that everything is going great with Sherry and JR. They are getting married and baptized December 7th. Sherry even invited me to be one of her bridesmaids. Can we talk about a dream come true family? I love them so much.

Historic Liberty Jail on the right and the Liberty House on the left.  It's been my home sweet home for the past few months.


One last photo at the HLJ - I am sure going to miss this place.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Clinton, MO

Sister Boswell & I ready to take off for the boonies

Ok. Ok. Ok.  Where do I even begin? This week has been NUTS. I honestly feel like it has been 5 weeks. So I guess my prayers for my mission to slow down a little bit have been answered because it feels like it is crawling, but that's always true with big changes and this has been a BIG change.

So lets start with Tuesday. Tuesday night was training calls. I found out I was going to Clinton,  MO to open up the area to sisters and train a new missionary. Whoohoo. Adventure time. Clinton is one of the most southern areas in the mission. We are talking in the middle of nowhere. So that was exciting. Also. I had recently given presentations at the jail to TWO families from Clinton. One of them had said they were supposed to get sisters soon and jokingly I said, "well transfers are coming up so maybe you'll see me in a few weeks." We had a good laugh about that at church this past Sunday when I saw them in Clinton!

Wednesday was my last day at the HLJ. The brand new missionaries always come through the Jail after coming from the airport. I had requested days in advance to take them on the tour because A) I love taking the new missionaries through and B) I wanted to see if I could pick out who my trainee would be. So I give the tour, it was actually my very last tour at the jail. SUPER SAD. I wanted to cry/did cry a  little at the end (which was kind of embarrassing.) Then President at the end of my testimony was like Sister Call I need to talk to you. Bah! So we went into the exit room and he told me that my companion wasn't in that group of new missionaries because she is sick in the MTC. So... I would be getting a temporary companion from the Warrensburg Stake. His exact words were, "Instead of looking for a 19 or 20 year old, you will be looking for a 17 or 18 year old." WHAT?! So I will be training her and then retraining my new companion when she gets here. So talk about stressful. She hadn't even been through the MTC! But I suppose Clinton and training two times will be the capstone project of my mission and I am excited.

The JR and Sherry family
To add to all of the excitement of the week JR and Sherry are getting married! AHHH. I can't wait! They will get married and then baptized on the same day, December 7th!  Talk about a miracle family. They are the best.  I will miss them SO much. That is probably one of the hardest things about leaving. I just have faith that I'll meet more JRs, and Sherrys, and Melbas, and Tracy's out here and be able to help them with my testimony. I cannot believe how blessed I was in Shoal Creek Valley. There are SO many people that I love there. Saying goodbye was one of the hardest things I've had to do on my mission.

Thursday was TRANSFER DAY. I was able to meet Sister Boswell, my new/temporary companion. She is awesome and so prepped. I can't believe she was able to come out on a mission in literally 2 days and was not freaking out. She has been really helpful to make the adjustment out here in rural Clinton. She is homeschooled so she was able to take 2-3 weeks off of school to come out and do this. We still aren't quite sure how long it will be before my new companion comes out. In the mean time I am having a great time teaching her how to be a missionary.  Our apartment is really cute. We live above a member and it's been all nicely redone and it is clean and I love it. The ward here is small but strong. There are some really awesome members and LOTS of work to do with reactivation and part member families. It is a full pros dream. Plus, the area covers not only Clinton, which has a population of about 9,000 but also about 10 other really, really small towns in the surrounding areas. So we do a lot of driving and a lot of careful planning.

This place is COUNTRY. They at least have a Walmart, which is good. I've learned more about hunting in the past 2 days than I have in my entire life. I ate deer on Saturday and a bunch of other canned foods and sulpherized water. Not bad actually. It is a major culture shock... but it always gets conversations going when I say I am from Southern California. People are like, what are you doing out here in Clinton!? The ward is the best and they treat us like a shiny new toy because they haven't had sister out here, maybe ever. 

So there is the low down on transfers. I'm really boosting my faith right now. I'm not going to lie it is a huge adjustment to be out here in the middle of nowhere without all of my best missionary friends surrounding me. I had no idea how spoiled I was at the VC. It's been great though to really rely and put all my faith and trust in the Lord right now to accomplish this huge task that I have in front of me. I AM the MTC. Bah. It's really neat to look back and see how the Lord has prepared me to be here in this ward at this time. I am so grateful for his hand in my life. My mission is perfect! I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store here. 
 
Here's one more miracle. We were out on Saturday and had a really great day, but poor Sister Boswell was getting a little discouraged. So I said a silent prayer in my heart/I may or may not have been begging the Lord to help us find some new investigators. Within 25 minutes we taught 4 lessons and found 3 new investigators. It was amazing. I couldn't believe what a miracle that was! The Lord really does answer prayers. All we have to do is ask.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

birthday!

HLJ all the way. I'm going to miss this place like nobody's business.

 Today is my birthday! Yay. I've been lucky to have two p-day birthdays! It helps it actually feel like a birthday. Man. I love my birthday. I woke up an extra 20 minutes early today because I was so excited that I was able to open my package and everything else. You wouldn't know I was turning a whopping 24 years old. Sheesh. Mid-twenties. I'm over the freak-out stage about that though.
 
We had plans to go to the Shatto milk dairy. I know, nothing says 24 like a good ol' milk farm. But unfortunately the place was booked up with school tours. Lame. So instead we went to Kansas City. The Brenchley's, who are the directors of the VC and the Stevensons, one of my fave senior couples joined us and the other sisters. It was the best impromptu birthday... and Sister Brenchley's birthday is tomorrow! Fun, fun, fun. We stopped by the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art and it was closed. Lame. But they gave us a really cool free photo book. Then we went to the Hallmark Museum and they gave us a free gift too! The best! 
Sister Harding and I at the Nelson Atkins Museum
 I can't believe I have spent my entire 23rd year in the service of the Lord. It feels like a dream the time has gone by so quickly. I have loved every minute of it and I am so grateful for this time in my life. I count myself lucky to have had two birthdays on a mission!
 
Transfer calls come tonight. Bah. Stressful, but not as stressful as normal. I've been feeling for awhile that I'd be transferred, and train a new missionary, and go full-pros, and open a new area. I don't know where I'm going... I'll find that out tonight, but I do know that all of those premonitions are going to come true. Whoohoo! Adventure time. On Friday I got the training call and the assistant was like, "Sister Call, I'm not even going to pretend like you are being called to be a potential trainer, because you aren't, you are going to be a trainer. For sure. It's happening." Then during the trainers meeting President Keyes was like "Yeah, some sisters at the Visitors' Centers have crazy schedules. Sister Call here has served her entire mission at the Visitors' Centers and knows lots about that, and now she will be going full pros for the last two transfers of her mission and she won't even know what to do with herself and all this free time. She'll probably be feeling like a brand new missionary." True story President. I was really grateful for the confirmation that I will indeed be leaving. I was able to give everyone a heads up on Sunday and then tonight I'll find out for sure all the details.

So here we go onto the next adventure. I'm really going to miss this place. Really, really going to miss this place. I love my area. I love going to church right by the temple. Most of all I love serving at the Liberty Jail. I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve here. I have gained such a strong testimony of trials and adversity. I'll be able to put all my knowledge to action in these next two transfers. I have a feeling its going to be a bit of a learning curve and probably pretty hard. I'm used to being surrounded by missionaries and people-- I've lived in a house with 8 girls for over a year now. So that will be new if it is just my companion and I. But I am grateful. I feel like I'll be pushed out of my comfort zone and really be forced to rely on the Lord. That is where real growth takes place. I am excited.

In other REALLY exciting news J.R. and Sherry and Emily are planning to be baptized December 7th. I AM SO EXCITED! They are seriously the best. They are also planning on getting married sometime before their baptism. They are so excited about that too and mostly for the chance to change and learn and grow. Holy moly. I can't believe how awesome they are. I am bummed I have to leave before all the wedding planning happens, but I'll be able to come back for all of it. Hopefully. 

So all in all I just feel really really grateful. I've said really a lot in this email. I suppose I just feel like I need to add that because I am just really excited and full of emotion about everything right now. I honestly feel like I am starting this amped up version of missionary finals week in these next two transfers. I will get to put all of my training, all of my studies, everything that I have become into helping my next area grow and helping this new missionary become an effective instrument in the hands of the Lord. I am grateful for this chance to give everything that I have. I can't even express how grateful I am for the opportunity that I have had to have served a mission. If you were to have asked me when I was 12, 16, 19, 21, where I would be at age 24... serving a mission in Independence Missouri would have been far beyond my thought process.  I am so grateful that the Lord intervened and led me down this path. The growth I have experienced in this past year has been immeasurable. So here on my 24th birthday I want to express my gratitude for a loving Heavenly Father that knows me better than I know myself. My mission has been perfect for me. Perfectly tailor made for all that I needed to learn and experience, it really amazes me at times. I am grateful for His influence in my life, and the opportunity that I have had to share that influence in the lives of others. I am grateful for his Son, Jesus Christ, who has made all this growth possible through his atonement. I am grateful for this time that I have had to serve them, and for the one on one training that I have received on how to be a profitable servant for the rest of my life. I know this is truly Jesus Christ's church. His gospel changes lives. It has changed mine. So here's to two more transfers and another great year!
Look at this dead bunny. Just kidding. It's alive. I'm seriously obsessed with this thing. It's the best bunny in the world

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Man oh man.

 

 Ok. This week has been awesome.
 
Tracy was baptized on Saturday! It was amazing! I have been working with her since I arrived in the area four and a half months ago and she has grown so much. I'm so grateful to have been there from start to finish. Her progression was really a miracle. She hadn't really been keeping commitments, it was a little on and off because there were always a lot of reasons. And then probably about two months ago she was put in the hospital because she had pneumonia. Some part of that experience changed her and she really put the gospel first in her life. She has grown so much. She went from having a small desire to believe in God to really knowing that he is there. She is such a fiercely loyal mother and the gospel has blessed her to be able to help guide her family as well. Ah! Tracy is just the best. Her baptism went really well. She was so excited and she said she felt so clean and so good afterward. I love seeing how people glow after they are baptized. It's amazing. Sister White and I pulled off a never before practiced musical number. It was a baptism miracle.
 
 
Next up. Sherry and JR are THE BEST! Seriously. They are probably one of the biggest miracles of my mission. They are the definition of golden investigators. This past week we met with them probably every other day, well mostly with Sherry. She is cruising along in the Book of Mormon and teaching her friends about the plan of salvation. On Friday, she came and helped the ward with a swap and shop we were doing and she texted us "I love this place so much! I have been here for hours helping out. I love my new family!" I just keep thinking, 'Is this real life?' And it is!!!!! Sister Harding and I are loving all her questions, she is literally thirsting for knowledge. It is amazing. Sunday was an absolute miracle day. Sherry and JR both came to church-- we had two benches full of people (that never happens). It was like sitting at the cool kids table. We had Melba, Tracy and her family, and JR and Sherry. The night before we had taken them to the Liberty Jail. JR felt the spirit at the jail and loved it... but Sherry said she didn't. She was a little frustrated that JR felt something and she didn't because she had been putting in so much work. So later that night she was reading in her scriptures and flipped to three random verses on baptism. She was pretty excited about that and was telling us all about it at church the next day. Then, at the end of Relief Society Sherry was crying and obviously feeling the Spirit. She gets up after the closing prayer and bears her testimony! It was amazing! She talked about how she needed to get to the temple and how she wished so badly she had been raised with the knowledge she is gaining now. She talked about how this will already help her be a better mother! The Spirit was so strong and you could feel how much these things were being impressed upon Sherry's heart. I was just so grateful that God really does answer prayers. As a missionary I promise that witness will come with full confidence, and it always does, and somehow it still surprises me. I wish I could write about all the miracles with this family, but there have been so many!
 
Today I gave a training at a Specialized Mission Conference. It was for half the mission. I love/hate preparing trainings. I love it because it is so neat to receive revelation for other missionaries and then get to present it. I love it. It's totally not me prepping those trainings and it's the best. I hate it because I still get nervous and feel like my stomach will fall out once I get up there. It turned out well though. I just love teaching and I love teaching the gospel!!!! It is seriously the best thing in the world. 
 
The Shoal Creek Valley ward has been so good to me. I love this place and realllllyyyy hope to stay next transfer, but I already know that's reallllyyy wishful thinking. In other news. Next week is my birthday, and transfer day... it's the 12th for those that didn't remember :) I'm all about shameless self promotion, and even 14 months on a mission I still have to work on humility... although I have eliminated "sorry I'm not sorry" from my vocabulary. So that's an improvement.
 
Love you all! Read the Book of Mormon! It's the best. I'm almost finished with it again. I'm going to have it done in a week and a half before transfers. Here's a cool quote from our conference today. The Bible teaches us about Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon teaches us about the Atonement. That was from Elder Christofferson in President Keyes's specialized training. Pretty cool. It's true.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

life after the 50th anniversary...

It's been a lot more low key this week. No general authorities... what? It has taken awhile to get back into the swing of things to be honest. The jail has been slowing down almost exponentially. I took 0 tours yesterday. Not one. In six hours. I got lots of study time though.

This last week has been a miracle! I can't remember if I wrote about Sherry last week. She is by far the most golden person I have ever met on my mission. She is so prepared. Her fiance had attended church in Kearney for awhile and they both came to church on Sunday. She has read over 40 pages in the Book of Mormon so far! I don't even ready 40 pages in one day of the Book of Mormon. It is amazing how you can create an instant friendship with people and that is what we feel with J.R. and Sherry. I am so excited to see how they progress and grow in the gospel.

In other news Tracy is getting baptized this weekend. I am so grateful for the chance I have had to teach her. I have literally watched the Lord change her heart. In the past 4 months she has gone from not answering the door, to setting but cancelling every appointment, to not reading and praying, to a complete change of heart. She loves coming to church. She loves the sacrament. She quit smoking virtually on her own... she threw out her own coffee pot. Now she is teaching her kids about the gospel and encouraging them to strengthen their testimonies. She has literally changed, her whole countenance and demeanor. She relies on God and is happier because of it. It is a huge blessing to have been here from start to finish. That isn't always the case as missionaries. I'm so excited for Saturday

Transfers are coming up in 2 weeks... right along with my birthday. I know it's still a ways ahead but I am almost positive I'm being transferred. I don't want to go though! My whole mission is going so quickly. 

This quiet time has given me lots of opportunity to reflect on how I've grown, especially as I prepare to leave the Liberty Jail. It's kind of fun because by the time I leave I'll have been at the Jail 4 1/2 months. Just a little bit longer than the prophet Joseph. I hope that by the time I leave I'll have grown in smaller, but similar ways. I've learned a lot about opposition and the atonement. It is so necessary. It is actually vital for us to go through difficult experiences. Even from the beginning of the world. Growth and progression only stemmed from opposition, that is where our choices come from. We are in control of who we become and what we accomplish. I've learned that more on my mission than at any other point in my life. Trials and tribulation help us understand the Atonement, and when we look at it with that lens we become empowered. I think about how miserable each tour would be if Joseph hadn't relied on the Atonement. It would be terrible, downright depressing. It would be about how cold and smelly and miserable that place would have been. That was the story of probably hundreds of other prisoners held in the jail during its 25 year lifespan. But Joseph's story is different, the Spirit that we feel in the jail is different, because he relied on the Atonement. I know the Atonement is real. It is powerful. I am grateful for my trials that have helped me put it all to the test so that I can know for myself that the Savior of the World is who He says that He is. 

So there is my very pensive email. It's been rainy/foggy/gloomy for the past few days, which always calls for some contemplation.

Love you all! More "fun" updates next week.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

this week may have topped last week.

Ok. I am trying to organize my thoughts in terms of most awesome to least awesome, but there is so much to talk about. Let's start with the General Authorities.

On Friday 30 mission presidents, their wives, a number of members of the Quorum of Seventy, AND Elder Christofferson of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles came to the jail. Yes. To our jail... and what I often think of as my jail. They were all here for a mission president's seminar and wanted to have a little field trip to some of the church history sights. They were supposed to arrive at 5 and we got off shift at 5... so you can imagine how I was scrambling to find some reason to stay around because it would be really convenient if we just happened to be there... right? So it worked out. Our dinner was supposed to pick us up at 5:30 giving us just enough time to meet and greet and hopefully get a handshake from Elder Christofferson. Problem was I ended up being on a presentation RIGHT before they came in (it really wasn't a problem because it was an awesome group and I was glad to do it, PLUS my friend Ryan Ogden was part of that group... happy day!). So I missed the entrance procession and the handshake opportunity. But I held out faith that there might be one more chance, especially because our dinner pick up was running a little late. 

So the group finishes their address with Elder Brenchley and starts heading out of the history room and there are a few sisters gathered in the hall.  Naturally we assumed Elder Brenchley would take them into the rotunda, but Elder Brenchley assumed a sister missionary would take them into the rotunda, so then we hear down the hall... "So which of the sisters will be giving us the presentation?" 
In that moment I knew it was going to be me because I am the senior sister at the jail... I have on record from reputable bystanders that my first words were "oh crap"-- as I grabbed my stomach! (obviously I need a bit more refining on my mission). Down the hall Elder Brenchley confirmed my feelings... "Sister Call, where is Sister Call? You are up!".. and then I went into panic mode. I grabbed my clicker and scriptures and said a prayer while running around (literally), with people telling me that I didn't have time, while Elder Brenchley is giving me very specific instructions-- "DO NOT ask them questions... they don't want to hear your questions". AHHHH. Of course I enter the rotunda masking the fact that my heart is going to pound out of my chest... with a few lame jokes and some stuttering in the beginning we are on our way. Honestly the presentation turned out really well. It was as near of an out of body experience as I'll probably ever have. I was not the one teaching those presidents. I opened my mouth and it was filled. I knew what to say. It was eloquent and concise and very professional. I was able at the end to bear my testimony of the atonement and the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was able to testify of Joseph Smith and his experience here. It was amazing! I got to bear MY testimony... my personal knowledge and feelings of the gospel to an Apostle of the Lord... And 30 mission presidents.  Afterward, Sister White said, "Wow you've added some new material to your presentations... that was the best one I've seen!" That's because it wasn't my presentation. 

After the presentation we were able to linger around for awhile and meet Elder Christofferson. He was so kind. We got to shake his hand and I said, "Well, that may have been the most nerve wracking presentation I've ever given..." and then he patted my neck! It was sweet. What was even better is that Meredith, our investigator who was going to be baptized the next day, ran in because she had to use the bathroom. She and I found ourselves in the hall with Elder Christofferson. He shook her hand and I told him that she was being baptized tomorrow. He was excited and wished her well. Then she and I walked in the bathroom and I told her that she just shook hands with an apostle... she freaked out. It was the best pre-baptism present. The whole evening worked out perfectly and it was amazing to see how the Lord allowed for these great experiences for both Meredith and I. 

So that was Friday. I am still freaking out that that ACTUALLY happened. To me. On my mission. I feel pretty darn blessed.

Saturday Michael and Meredith were baptized. That was amazing as well. Really those two are such miracles. Both of them have overcome so much in the past few months and have really taken hold of the gospel. They read scriptures as a family every night, go to youth activities, and Meredith said she even wants to go on a mission! I just can't believe what a miracle it was to find and teach them. Michael is really a miracle because up until a few weeks ago he wasn't even taking the lessons. We kept inviting him to join and finally realized that the Elders need to stop by... Duh! So they did and here he is 3 weeks later with a strong testimony of the gospel and ready for baptism. He is so excited about the Priesthood and being a part of the church. Michael and Meredith were both baptized on the 19th. It was so special to see Brother and Sister Jensen's joy as their grandchildren became members of the church. I have come to love that family so much and I know we will be friends forever.

So here is a picture from the mormonnewsroom article about the 50th anniversary last week...

I am famous... ok, not really but you can see me in the picture at the back standing up by the door. That was my post :) Here is link to another article about the 50th Anniversary... A Prison Temple

M. Russell Ballard at the Historic Liberty Jail. (I am standing by the door on the left)

We have had so many other miracles this week that I don't even have time to talk about. SOO many. I am so grateful to be serving here. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY. It is the best.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Elder Ballard and the Ultimate HLJ Birthday Party!

This was the week! Elder Ballard came to the HLJ and we celebrated the 50th Anniversary. In my humble opinion we really outdid ourselves. The whole weekend was marvelous and stressful and wonderful and spiritual and everything in between. Soooo I suppose we will start at the beginning. I literally don't even know where to begin. 

Sister Moon, my sister leader partner in crime, and I spent 100 hours last week (ok. maybe more like 10) getting the schedules all drawn up for the sisters. Let me tell you, those things were a work of art, color coordinated, etc. I think UPS should hire me because I have logistics down, returning sisters, companions, cars, all had to get figured out. But by Friday night it was done and we could rest easy. I don't know how I got to be so lucky to be able to play a part in the organization and creation of this great weekend. 

Saturday Alex Baugh, Susan Easton Black, and Daniel Peterson, professors from BYU came. They gave lectures about the history of the Liberty Jail IN the Liberty Jail. How cool is that?! It was really neat to see so many members from all over come to learn and celebrate. We had far more people come than we thought would. There wasn't even enough room in the rotunda. I had the privilege of being part of the musical number for the readers theater. They had Smith family descendants read portions of the letters from Liberty Jail and we sang, what is now one of my favorite songs, My Kindness Shall Not Depart From Thee. It is all about Joseph's revelations in the Liberty Jail. The best.
 
 To top off the day, between all the guests and lectures and craziness, we have an unscheduled bus tour of 25 Japanese members show up... who don't speak any English! I entertained them (through a translator) for a half hour and then we went into the rotunda, which was nuts with all the lecture stragglers. I kept thinking about what would make their experience really special, in the 5 minutes we had to show them the jail. So we sang to them. We sang I Am a Child of God and then they sang it back to us! It was so special and really made the day perfect-- because what birthday party isn't complete without a Japanese bus tour?!

Sunday was AWESOME. I don't even know what to say. It was just too good. Sunday afternoon there was a reception at the jail for community leaders and old time members of the church in Liberty, Missouri and Elder Ballard of course. I was lucky enough to be stationed near the front to greet people. Awesome. I got thrown into some photo ops with community leaders... kind of awkward when I have no idea who these men are, but I know they are important. But hey, I could make it on mormonnewsroom or the Church News! Keep an eye out. Elder Ballard spoke to everyone at the VIP Reception. I was really surprised when he just threw down Lesson One. We were all watching and he taught about the Savior's earthly ministry, then the great apostasy, the restoration, then the Book of Mormon. I got to see an Apostle of the Lord teach a number of community leaders about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was the best! It made me want to be so much more bold when I am speaking with people. He taught it as fact, because it is a fact. It really happened. But there was no beating around the bush. 

Elder Ballard at the Historic Liberty Jail

After the VIP we scarfed down some of the leftover reception food and literally raced over to the stake center to practice our song for the fireside. Melba, and Tracy, and Tracy's boys, and another returning member all came to the fireside! It was a miracle, but then again it's pretty easy to talk up an Apostle. We got to sit on the stand in the choir seats right behind Elder Ballard. Whoohoo! The fireside was the best. President Keyes, Elder Gaye of the Seventy, and a historian all spoke. Every single one of them talked about the Liberty Jail and missionary work. My two favorite things! It was a dream. They all encouraged the members to get out there and do missionary work. Ok here are my highlights:
- I feel such a greater appreciation and reverence for what happened in the Liberty Jail. Elder Ballard spent a lot of time wondering what Joseph Smith would want to say to the Liberty Stake. I need to do that... be thinking about what Joseph would want me to teach, and remember that this was a place that came to be sacred because of great sacrifice. I am SO grateful to serve here. 
- There was a huge sense of urgency... we are in a HURRY to share the gospel. We need to be constantly praying and asking for missionary experience. There isn't enough time... that's what Elder Ballard said, and I believe him. 
- I realized that we are literally working and serving to establish the kingdom of God.... that's a literal thing. I love that. 

Mostly I just felt the deep urgency and importance of the work that I am doing. I am really grateful for this recharge of my spiritual batteries before the last 2.5 transfers of my mission. I know it's not a countdown, but I've always been the type to look forward to what is coming up. I love my mission. I love the Liberty Jail. I will be eternally grateful to have been here during this historic time. To serve in the very place, within feet of the very stones Joseph knelt on and offered up the feelings of his heart. This place where the Savior came and taught the prophet the depths of the atonement. This was a place crucial to the restoration of the gospel. I have the opportunity to teach and testify and serve Heavenly Father's children in this very sacred place. These are days never to be forgotten.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

transfers but not transferred.

 First. I didn't get transferred! I am still here at the HLJ! WHAHOOO! I'll get to shake Elder Ballard's hand.  Miracles really do happen.  Sister White was transferred to Kearney with Sister Ogletree, and my new companion is Sister Harding, who was just serving in Kearney. Crazy! They just switched places. I love Sister Harding. She was in the MTC with me during VC training. So we are reunited again. Our missions have been completely different-- she's been full proselyting almost her whole mission and I've been at the VC my whole mission. I realized I probably hold the standing record in the mission. 10 out of 12 transfers in a Visitors' Center... I'm not complaining. I love these places. Thursday was transfer day. Talk about crazy-town. Sister Wilson got transferred to the Visitors' Center, and Sister Moon is now the new sister leader up here. We have so many little details to work out for the 50th and that's been a bit hectic. I wish I could post the beautiful schedule we created. It's a work of art really, color coordinated, perfectly balanced schedule.
Kara in Kentucky



This week was truly a miracle week.
 Last Friday. Kara got baptized! Kara, from Kentucky that I have been teaching on the phone every week was baptized! I love this girl and I am so excited for her. She is so excited about the gospel and has grown so much since we "met" on chat a few months ago. I have been amazed to see Heavenly Father answer her prayers and to watch her relationship with our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ grow. I feel so blessed to be a part of her conversion, even if she is many miles away.
Tuesday we were FINALLY able to go to the temple. We started out the week super bummed because Melba missed her interview and wasn't going to go and this was the last day we would be able to go before transfers. On Monday we had dinner with the Bishop and he was like, "well I'll just interview her in the morning..." MIRACLE. So we get it all worked out with Melba and she is good to go and we are SO stoked. Tuesday morning we get a text at 6:30 AM from Melba that says: I'm sick. I don't know what to do. BAHHHH. So I tell her to start praying and I start praying and I run around the Liberty house telling everyone to start praying because Melba needed to go to the temple! She decided to go to the interview and see how she felt. She got a blessing and decided to go! It was a miracle and so amazing. She had such a wonderful time and love, love, loved the temple. Favorite Melba quote from the day: I can just see them rippin out of there (as I was being baptized for those that had passed on... she was referring to the spirits rippin out of the spirit world). Hilarious. Sister White and I had a great time in the temple. I wish I could go back everyday. The feeling there is so peaceful and perfect, like time stands still. I love the House of the Lord.

Melba at the Temple
Friday we had a lesson with Meredith. This girl never ceases to amaze me. On Monday we watched the Joseph Smith movie and she loved it, of course. She loves everything. We invited her to pray to know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. She said, "I don't have to, I already know! He is a prophet because he translated the Book of Mormon, where else would it come from?" I love that answer, so much faith, and it's true, it does make perfect sense! But I also knew that she needed that spiritual witness. So we invited her to pray to confirm what she knows and we promised her that if she prayed that evening she would be able to know by the power of the Holy Ghost. So Friday we followed up. She did pray. She did recieve an answer. She said that when she prayed that night she felt as though the whole room was warm, and as though she had a hand on her back. I wish you could see her because she is relating this experience in the very colorful language of a 13 year old. She is like "SO I was like well Heavenly Father, I get it, I get it! He is a prophet!" So funny. Another funny Meredith quote... "oh yeah, I'm almost 14."
"Well when is your birthday?"
"July... it's only 7 months away."
Haha. I love that girl.
Michael and Meredith

This weekend is going to be THE BEST! Elder Ballard is coming! Whahoo! He's going to be in my jail... well our jail. I think every sister that serves here has a sense of ownership over this place. All the sisters that were transferred will get to come back and everyone will be happy! Yay! I cannot wait. I am so so so grateful to serve here during this time and to have played a part in the orchestration of the events. What a blessing!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Rollercoaster.


Whew. This week has been an emotional roller coaster. Some weeks you just REALLY need a p-day! This was one of those weeks.
 
Up and down. Yesterday was really up and down, the lowest of lows and then the highest of highs. I won't dwell on the lows. I spent most of the day rather depressed, but it really only takes 30 minutes and a bit of an attitude adjustment to turn things around. I was able to lead a really great presentation and un-invite myself to my pity party....then later on that night we had a tender mercy from the Lord.
 
We were pretty bummed all day that Tracy and Melba didn't come to church, when we thought both of them were going to be there. We visited Tracy, all good there... she is still recovering, but no response from Melba still. That hurts, I think that's one of the reasons why missionary work is so hard is that these people become our dear, dear friends. We think about them all the time, we pray for them daily, and we really want them to be happy.  Here's the tender mercy. Sister White needed to grab her journal from a lady in our ward, Sister Pancic. She is the best. We get talking to her and she tells us how she went over to Tracy's, just for the heck of it (did I already mention that she is the best?) and Melba was there. Melba and Tracy had been reading their scriptures together because they didn't go to church and wanted to make Sunday special. That made me feel SO good. I realized that my perfectionist personality had been worrying way too much about little things. Sure, church is really important. It is. But how long did it take me to figure out how important church was? It took a really long time to fully understand that or to even partially understand that.  Tracy and Melba were worshiping and strengthening their testimony to the amount that they understood, on their own. That made my whole day. It was such a miracle that we randomly stopped by Sister Pancic's on the way home, so that she could fill us in on how Melba was doing and so that I could go to bed feeling good. Thank goodness for tender mercies!!!!
 
This is my favorite scripture about tender mercies: 1 Nephi 1:20 And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had acast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also bsought his life, that they might take it away. But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender cmercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of ddeliverance.

Meredith is doing great. She is the cutest. I got to bust out a few of my teaching skills on Saturday. She is a little behind in math and we went over and I tutored her for about an hour. It was so fun to teach. I have realized that I am a much better teacher because of my mission. I haven't stepped foot in a school classroom in over a year, but I think all around my teaching skills have improved. Funny how that works. I know that all aspects of our lives are blessed through gospel service. We did this really fun lesson on goals and creating a vision for our life. We cut out all these pictures from the New Era magazines and put them on a poster for her. It was neat to see how much her life can change as she grows in the gospel. Her goals included serving a mission, getting married, going to college... which was a far cry from what she looked forward to a few months ago. She told us that her biggest dream in life before moving was to go on a booze cruise in Greece. She doesn't even know about the Word of Wisdom yet and she already thinks that past goal is a stupid idea.
I'll be honest here. I am STRESSED about transfers, well kind of. Mentally stressed, but not emotionally stressed. I just really want to stay. I love my area, I love the people we are teaching, I love the jail, I love Elder Ballard and I really want to shake  his hand! It's really all up in the air though. We will find out tomorrow night. I cannot believe it is October and that the 50th Anniversary is in 2 weeks and that conference is in one week. So excited!
 
I am really excited for General Conference! It is the best as a missionary/also just the best. One of my favorite stories from the history we teach at the Liberty Jail is that of Jacob Haun. I have learned a lot from this story about our consecration, and I know it changed my attitude about General Conference and following the prophet. So Jacob Haun was one of the earliest settlers in a settlement of church members called Haun's Mill. It was a small settlement located near the outskirts of Caldwell County, the "safe" county for the members of the church. Violence was increasing throughout the counties and Joseph Smith had recommended that the members of the church in the outlying settlements move in. Jacob spoke with Joseph asking for permission to stay explaining that if they left they would lose their mill, their land, their homes, and everything they had. Joseph explained that it would be far better to lose their property than to lose their lives, and said again that they should move in to Far West. Jacob Haun continued to protest. He gave excuses and plans for how they would be kept safe and could be exempt from the counsel. Ultimately Joseph said that they were at liberty to do as they would... he commented that Jacob hadn't come for counsel but only for permission to do as he already had made up his mind to do. We know that just a short time later that same settlement of Haun's Mill was massacred by a mob and 17 people were killed and 14 badly injured.
 
This really got me reflecting about my commitment to following the counsel of church leaders and the Lord. Is our commitment conditional? Do we follow only when it is convenient and when the sacrifice fits into our ideals or schedule? I've realized more and more that safety lies in following the counsel of church leaders. They stand as watchmen, ready and willing to warn us and help us prepare temporally and spiritually. As our hearts are open we can receive that counsel, but we are always at liberty to do as we will. I'm excited for general conference and I hope we can all prepare to have open hearts and minds.

Monday, 23 September 2013

what in the world!


This week has been another amazing week! I'm trying to eliminate "what the heck" from my vocabulary right now. It's not really working... so that's where the "what in the world" comes from. But most of the time I say that it sounds lame. So everyone out in the real world should send me some substitutes.  I suppose I could say as Canon used to say... "what in the jorge regula is going on here?!" I still don't know what that means, but it's catchy.  Ok. But seriously. I feel so blessed to be here. Most of the time I wonder how and why I am so blessed and so lucky to be serving the Shoal Creek Valley ward at this time. It is the best. We have amazing members and so many amazing friends that I have the opportunity to teach and learn from!
First miracle of the week: Tracy is getting baptized! She set a baptismal date for October 11th! We are so excited for her and she has come such a long way. She quit smoking and drinking coffee all on her own, which is a miracle. That is one good thing that came from her hospital visit. She has been reading on her own and praying on her own, and keeping her appointments. Setting a baptismal date was merely a formality at this point because she has been talking about her baptism since she was in the hospital. We have seen such a miraculous change in her sincerity and growth. It is amazing how much I love that family. We have visited them at least twice a week, usually more, for the past 2 months. It has been amazing to watch them progress.

Meredith is doing really well. She is such a cutie and loves the gospel. She was even excited to go to Stake Conference yesterday... so awesome! Speaking of... here's a joke. Why don't the vampires like to come to the Missouri Independence Mission?-- because there are too many stakes in Zion... haha. Man. I won't be funny at all when I get home. Meredith is really funny though. Here's a snapshot of how our lessons usually go. We compared the celestial kingdom to a beautiful ball that you have to prepare for and then Meredith is like "oh yeah! One time on Facebook there was this picture talking about Jesus and it was of four bald princesses and it said bald princesses are the prettiest, everyone should shave their head in support of cancer." Good point. Not completely relevant. I tried to bring it back by saying... "yeah, it's great to do service and that will help you get to the Celestial Kingdom." Sometimes following the thought process of a 13 year old can be a little tiring. 

Sister Wilson and I planned a completely inspired and awesome training for the Visitors' Center sisters in Independence. It was the best. We had 0 time to prepare and we were a little bit stressed about it. Welcome to the life of a sister leader (btw we had a zone conference on how to deal with stress and the more they kept talking the more I realized how much better I could be at dealing with my stress, which stressed me out. Funny, huh?). So we were at the HLJ at 9:45 p.m. prepping for the training the next morning and we kept getting idea after idea and it was amazing. Sister Wilson and I were both taught very important lessons about the Liberty Jail, our ideas came together, and we were able to prepare a really meaningful and powerful training.  Thank goodness for the gift of the Holy Ghost! 

Here is some of what we pulled together... these are just a few of the highlights:
 
- I have often wondered WHY. Why did the saints face so much persecution? Why did Joseph have to stay in the Liberty Jail? Why would God try the faith of these early church members so much? WHY? As I've really studied I've come to some answers... there are probably many, many more reasons, but these are just a few thoughts that are a little more out of the box. 
 
1. The most obvious reason to me would be that adversity brings refinement and growth, and that was certainly true of the members of the church.  
 
2. The suffering that these members went through helped Joseph Smith and the Saints to better understand the atonement. I love this quote by Elder Holland. It was true for Joseph. It is true for missionaries, and it is true for all of us..."I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation was never easy. We are the Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, He is our Great Eternal Head. Why would we believe, why would we think, that it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? In turn, how could we possibly bear any moving, lasting testimony of the Atonement if we have never known or felt anything of such an experience? As missionaries we are proud to say we are disciples of Christ-- and we are. That means we must be prepared to walk something of the path he walked, to feel something of the pain He felt, and to at least occasionally sometime during your mission shed one of the tears of sorrow that He shed." Isn't that the BEST! It's been my theme this week... and something that I know is true. Joseph was learning in a very real and physical way the depths of the atonement. Our trials help us with that as well. 

Well, there is a small snippet of what I learned and talked about in the training... that is probably one of my favorite lessons of the Liberty Jail.

Transfers are coming up already. This month has flown by. I'm freaking out because I am afraid a part of me will die if I get transferred before the 50th Anniversary. Really I'm being dramatic, I'd get over it, and probably pretty quickly, but it sure would be a bummer. 

Congrats to Rachy, my cousin who just got her mission call! Pueblo, Mexico won't be the same after you get there. If my calculations are right, you go into the MTC the same day that I come home!