Monday, 30 September 2013


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!

Monday, 16 September 2013

50 years of the HLJ.

It's nice and cloudy outside, about time to bust out the boots and sweaters. So stoked. But unfortunately that has left me a little foggy headed... that, and the fact that I thought it was a good idea to wake up at 6 AM to play morning sports with the other missionaries. Sometimes I think that is a good idea and go, sometimes its not. Like today. Frisbee at 6 AM is only enjoyable about half of the time. That being said I hope my email makes sense. It has been a great week!
Meredith is the best! We love teaching her so much. She's always so excited about everything... and so eager to learn. We took her and her brother Michael to the Liberty Jail on Monday and had the best lesson. We watched the restoration video and she loved it. When the movie got to the first vision she was like "woah... that is cool." It is cool... its the second greatest thing that has ever happened on the earth! It's amazing to watch her learn and witness her pure faith in all of it. She is so eager about the gospel, I could be more like that sometimes. We also taught her part of the Plan of Salvation the other day... she loved it. We were teaching about the Savior's atonement and she was like "what are those dots and why are they always on his hands?" What a neat moment to be able to teach Meredith about the atonement, for maybe the first time that she had ever heard it in her life. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY. Sometimes I get home at night it hits me how awesome my life is right now.
Tracy has been in the hospital this week. She had pneumonia and the doctors didn't catch it... so she ended up in the hospital. Bummer...but it's actually been kind of a miracle (there's always a positive right?). So prior to this it had been hard to get lessons with Tracy... she would be sick or things would come up, or something. She was finally starting to progress and then boom pneumonia. So we were expecting things to drop off, but NO... she is reading the Book of Mormon on her own, and wanted us to come read and teach her. She is soaking it up and really internalizing the gospel. She wants to have faith. She wants to repent. Not only that but she is doing it! It is amazing. We asked Tracy when she might want to be baptized because she keeps talking about how excited she is, and she was like "well, I should probably wait until I'm out of the hospital." She was dead serious about that too.. haha.

Anyway... I don't even know if I can express how amazing it is to watch these new friends of mine learn and grow. It is the best.
Yesterday was the 50th Anniversary of the reconstruction of the Liberty Jail, I suppose at that point it became the Historic Liberty Jail... we have to be very careful to differentiate or else people think that we work in a penitentiary.  So I suppose it would only be fitting to talk about how much I love this place, and how much I have learned here. So here are a few of the lessons I have learned at the Historic Liberty Jail
1. Joseph Smith is indeed a prophet of God. I always knew this, but I really, really know it now. It has been amazing to teach and testify of who he was and how the Lord used him to bless his children.
2. The Liberty Jail itself testifies of things that last and that don't last. The jail... didn't last. Here is this impressive building with 4 foot thick walls, built of stone and after 50 years it was falling apart, unable to fulfill it's designed purpose. Although that prison held Joseph Smith and kept him confined, it had no power to confine the beautiful teachings that would come from that place. The revelations received at the Liberty Jail is something that has lasted. I remember going through some hard times in high school and miraculously finding sections 121, 122, and 123 of the Doctrine and Covenants. It was like I had stumbled upon solid gold. I love it. It helped me through that trial. The revelations recieved there have not only lasted throughout time, but that testimony and knowledge has become a part of so many people's lives over the years.
3. Obedience. I came across a great quote this week... one that really made me think. I'll paraphrase it. It said something along the lines of "Jesus' obedience was perfected by his suffering." Wait... Jesus was already perfectly obedient, suffering or not, so what did that have to do with it. It made me think of sacrifice. The suffering that Jesus Christ endured for each of us was voluntary. It was a sacrifice made from love for each of us, but it was also to perfect the obedience he was offering to his Father in Heaven. Joseph Smith's obedience was also made more perfect because of his sacrifice. He sacrificed all that he had- family, stability, comfort, and eventually his life-- all for his testimony of Jesus. As we are obedient, even and especially during those times where it comes as a sacrifice, we can be more perfect and made more perfect because of the ultimate sacrifice by our Savior.
So there you are... I'll try and pull together a few more thoughts as the weeks go on about what this holy place has taught me. The 50th Anniversary celebrations will be ongoing throughout the upcoming weeks. We have an open house coming up during the Fall Fair here in Liberty. The big events will be happening on October 12th and 13th, when Elder Ballard will be coming to the JAIL! Yes. That's right. I can't wait! I'm trying not to freak out becuase transfers are the week before. I'm really wishing I had some musical skills so I could play the piano or the violin for the VIP event, like some of my fellow jail birds are. I'm trying to study up on my history so maybe they will bring me back to give some presentations if I get transferred.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

the perfect week and the perfect plan.

So guess who forgot their missionary tag today. Me. I'm sitting at the library right now with a tag reading Elder Fisihetau. I'm not an Elder. And I'm not polynesian, but hey its better than looking like a regular person right? Right.
This week was a week of miracles. I feel like I say that every week. Prettymuch every letter I write to President Keyes goes something like this: "Hi President, This week was AMAZING.... blah blah blah miracle blah blah blah." I'm not complaining. I don't know how I am so blessed out here. I sure am grateful. This email will probably be 100 years long because I have lots to share, so those that really love me can read it, but know I won't be offended if you skim.
One of the biggest miracles this week is that Tracy is progressing. We have been working with Tracy since I got here. All her kids are members but less active and she wanted to be baptized but never followed through. This week she came to church and ALL of her boys came to church. #dreamscometrue2013. Seriously though. We had two really awesome lessons with her. The first we talked about getting it from her head to her heart... She knows it all but hadn't been acting on it. To truly be converted and feel the gospel you have to live it... you have to do something about it. We made her a list of everything that she has to do before she is baptized and she is loving it. Everytime we go over she wants to know what she can check off the list, and she started to quit smoking ON HER OWN! I just love that family so much.
I have really seen how important prayer has been in all of this. Everything that we have done that has worked has come during my nightly prayers. I've started keeping a prayer journal during my prayers. I'll ask a question to  my Heavenly Father, then think about it, wait for the answer, and write it down, then ask the next question. Sometimes the answers don't come all at once, but often I'll get really good insights into how to solve problems and help my investigators. I love prayer!
This past Sunday we fasted. I think I wrote about this last week, but I love fasting. Prior to my mission I would endure it, but I have seen so many blessings and so much power from fasting on my mission. Meredith is a fasting "finding" miracle. We met her on Sunday of last week and had our first appointment on Wednesday. This little girl is a light. She is amazing. She hasn't had the easiest life, but is so confident and sure of herself. My favorite quote from the lesson was "well, I was bullied when I was younger, for a week or something, and I am really grateful for that because I just know I have to be me and nobody else."  She's so great. We taught about the love of God and it all rang true. I am amazed because she has little/no religious background but soaks everything up. My other favorite quote was "well, God and Jesus will never criticize you because they made you exactly how they wanted to, you are perfect!" True. Right out of the mouth of a 13 year old. At the end of the lesson she kept talking about baptism and asking questions, and was prettymuch begging to be baptized. So we invited her and she set a date for the end of this month! I love this girl and am so excited to teach her!
At the end of the lesson we got to call President Keyes and tell him that Meredith accepted the invitation to be baptized. Just that morning at Mission Leadership Council he had told us that he wanted us to call everytime someone accepts the invitation. We were the first to call and he was SO excited. I haven't ever heard President so excited about anything. He was laughing and so happy. It was great. It really made me reflect on how important this step is in my dear friends' progression. If President Keyes was so excited, how much more excited would our Heavenly Father be? He is up there so stoked because one of his children is one step closer to returning home. It changed the way I viewed the work that I am doing.
And if this week couldn't get any better we had an awesome lesson with Michael, he is the miracle man who came to the temple because he wanted to start coming back to church. During our lesson he said "when I walked into the temple there were two men dressed in white, they were like angels. They gave me a Book of Mormon and a prayer. And then, a few days later you two were on my doorstep. I couldn't see you because it was dark, but I knew who you were, you were angels." ahhh... melt my heart. That made my day. He is amazing. He shares the gospel with everyone, and keeps his Book of Mormon on his desk. We taught him the Plan of Salvation on Saturday. I LOVE the Plan of Salvation. It was by far the best Lesson 2 I have ever taught. We went through step by step with my Elementary-ed style cut outs and taught and testified of love of our Father in Heaven and the beautiful plan he has, not just for some of us, but for ALL of his children. I am amazed by this plan. It is perfect. Absolutely perfect, no one is lost. Everyone has an opportunity to live and learn and feel the peace that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings, because God wants ALL of us, every one of us, to make it back to him.  I love that. I'm sitting here trying to think about how I can describe how amazing this lesson was, but I can't! There is no greater feeling than to teach someone true principles of the restored gospel. To teach by the Spirit of God, so that you know that they know that what you are teaching is true. It is amazing. It's moments like this, teaching the perfect plan of salvation lesson and teaching Tracy about the steps of faith-- with her marking her scriptures and eating it up-- that make all of those awkward, tired, miserable moments of a mission worth it. I will never have this opportunity again. I am so grateful for it. AHHH. I just love it. I love being a missionary!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Formula for Faith.

Ok. We had the best Book of Mormon study with Tracy this week. Every morning we do our studies and prep for the day. This was prepped just for Tracy, me, and everyone and I learned it during my spirit filled studies. The best. I love studies. So here are my notes and insights....
Alma 32-- I am obsessed with this chapter.
It starts with a group of people who are down on their luck. They have been kicked out of the synagogues because of their poverty, but this made them humble. So Alma, one of my favorite missionaries, comes in and teaches them all about faith.
So... here we go. The formula for faith:
Step 1: Verse 22-- BELIEVE. That's all we have to do is have a desire to believe.
Step 2: Verse 27-- Exercise a particle of faith-- DO SOMETHING. You can't just sit there and hope that that belief will grow, anymore than you can sit on the couch and hope that your waistline will shrink. It won't. Faith is the same. We have to act upon it.
Step 3: Verse 28-- GIVE IT GROWING TIME-- don't cast it out. We have to allow it time before we can see results. I never became a runner because I never kept running... faith is the same. We have to keep faithing it up before we can see results and have it become easier.
Step 4: Verse 28-- JUDGE-- is that belief leading you to good? Is it growing? Can you feel the spirit within you? Do you feel more peace, more love, more joy? Then it is is good.
Step 5: Verse 37-- NOURISH the TREE. We have to keep taking care of it so it can grow and the roots can become deep. The tiny sapling won't yield fruit, but eventually after time and treatment it will.  
Step 6: Verse 41-- HAVE PATIENCE, DILIGENCE, and HOPE. Continue to endure. Develop those Christ-like attributes and enjoy the fruits of faith.
All of this leads to the ulitmate fruit: "By and by ye shall pluck of the fruit which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst."
I think all of us have many faith trees being grown-- I feel like in some areas my faith is really strong, and in others I could use a little more growth. So pick something to grow and go and do it. The key is really effort, work, diligence, and faith.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Melba was Baptized and Other End of Summer Miracles!

Holy cow. This week was crazy. Ok. That phrase "holy cow" is actually really strange... I'm going to try to eliminate that from my vocabulary. Anyway. It doesn't change the fact that this week was nuts.

So I suppose we will start with the end of the week! Melba was baptized!!! Yay!!!! To be honest I was kind of holding my breath a little bit. We had a lot of things we needed to teach her and things kept getting thrown in the way. Trailer park drama, and she had a huge family emergency on Thursday that we were afraid would derail everything, but it didn't. I love Melba because she was like "I am getting baptized, nothing is going to stop me." She was so excited.  My angel companion, Sister White, had to teach tithing, Sabbath day, and the ten commandments the hour before the interview by herself because I was at a leadership conference for all the mission leaders. So basically this little paragraph can't really describe how stressful it was to arrange interviews and schedules and try to figure out when to teach everything so that Saturday could go smoothly. Let's just say Sister White's 4.5 pound bag of candy corn is not 4.5 pounds anymore.

But Saturday came and it was perfect. Melba's baptism was completely perfect. Melba came, all dressed in white. White pants, white shirt, white furry collar necklace... it was so classic Melba. We love her so much. Her husband came and her son and some of the Smallwood family, including Tracy who we are also teaching. It was a miracle because we weren't sure if any of those people were going to come and they did! We had a lot of great support from the ward as well. It was amazing. The spirit was there and Melba was so happy. My very favorite thing is to get to see someone right after they are baptized and to ask them how they feel. Melba said she felt like "a huge load of garbage had been taken away." Ah! I love that! It's amazing.  She also said "I feel pure in here" pointing to her heart.

 It has been absolutely amazing to watch her grow and progress. She has always had a desire to follow Jesus Christ but now she knows how to really do that. I have seen a marked difference in who she is... her happiness and the peace that she feels in life. It is amazing. This is REAL! The atonement is real! I love it!

I have been so grateful this week for all of the amazing people that I have met on my mission. It is amazing to come into a new area-- knowing no one, and within a month have met people that I love dearly and will be friends with forever.

I hit my year mark this week. We did some crazy stuff... not really but Sister Wilson and I came out together so we did have some talks about the "good ol' days" in the MTC. I was freaking out about the fact that I have been a missionary for one year. I will spare the sentimental reflections this week because this week was so crazy and I didn't even really get a chance to sentimentally reflect.

I know this entry is 100 years long. August has been such a great month! Here is on last end of August miracle. On Sunday, as a mission, we fasted for a finding fall, to find those that have been prepared to accept the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I was personally so excited about this fast because I know that miracles will happen. President Keyes has us do these fasts when it is time for miracles, they always come. So we fasted. The very evening after finishing our fast we went to visit an older couple in our ward whose grandchildren have come to live with them. Only Meredith was home and so we had a great time visiting with her. She is adorable, and hilarious, as most 13 year olds are. We are in the beginning of our conversation and she is just like "oh, I want to get baptized! I keep going back and forth about it but I really think I want to but I don't even really know anything about the Church of Mormon." So there you go. She is awesome and so excited to build her faith and "nourish her tree." Talk about the perfect end of August miracle! We are so blessed. So so blessed.