Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas this week!!!

 WHAT?! Christmas is this week?? CRAZY. Also, let me just paint a picture for you. 366 days from this moment I will be coming home. Yep. December 19 is my release date. Can you believe THAT? I will never have another December 20, or December 21, or December 22 in the mission field. That is truly crazy.
Can you believe we get to SKYPE?! I want to Skype. How is this: We will skype you at 4:30 our time and that is 3:30 your time I think. Does that sound good? We have church in the morning and then we are going caroling with our district and then we will call you guys! I am so excited to see you and talk to you, you have no idea!!!! We will figure it out I think all I need to skype you is your e-mail address or your phone number or something. If we get lost, I will just call you guys on a cell phone or the home phone. But if you could like... log in to your skype I will try and do it that way. Cause I really want to see you all! Ah! It doesn't even seem real. I am so excited. Make sure Wilsy is in attendance cause I want to see him. We'll probably be skyping from the crosby's house. Oh my gosh I love the crosby's.
It doesn't really seem like Christmas to me. I'm not doing anything normal that I usually do or seeing who I usually see. We listen to Christmas music and talk a LOT about Jesus Christ but.. there's no snow. It's okay though. This is my last Christmas as a missionary. Dad I liked how you said in your e-mail, even though I will not be with family, this is the only Christmas that the only family I have around will be my Savior. I think He is blessing me a lot to feel okay not being home. Cause I'm okay. We'll see what I have to say AFTER I talk to you guys, right??
This last week we had Christmas conference. It was really good! It was so fun to see all of the missionaries. The theme this year was "Joy in our Purpose" because those are two things that President really stresses. Is , he says, "Just, find joy in your labors. Will you do that?" and then he says "Be missionaries of purpose!" I love him! And I loved that theme because it really seriously was perfect for what President is doing and what we are a mission are doing. President also says "Terrrific!" all the time haha it's so funny. James and Dad did your mission presidents have any isms? Oh, man I love President and Sister Crawford. We watched the movie 17 miracles. It was pretty good. The acting could have been better. And there was this love montage in the middle with those two pioneers and they were holding a red blanket and that was weird haha I laughed so hard. I'm sure just a missionary now it's wonderful. Was there really a midget in the Martin/Willie company? Cause that seemed like a made up thing. But the movie was just incredible. The faith that is required to work miracles is so apparent. Because, for REAL, if we have enough faith anything can happen. Literally anything.
We had an interesting week, but a good week. The tender mercies of the Lord are all over my life. And this missionary work stuff is hard for me, but it's getting to be normal that it's hard. I wonder how many people are tired of me saying it's hard haha. I think it's some kind of karma for not liking it when people would tell me missions are hard. I am learning so much, OH so much. This week, something that I learned is that even if I stopped progressing right here and now (which I won't) I would be good enough for the Lord. For my Heavenly Father. Even if I never improve one little bit from this moment onward until I die. I am enough to the Lord. We are all enough for him, every person that I meet is enough to Him. Sister Cochran always said "He could not be more pleased with us." And I used to really seriously think, "Well, that would be true if I were doing everything right." But now, after this week, I have realized that even when we don't do everything right... or sometimes it's we don't do ANYthing right... we are still enough for and worthwhile to and loved by the Savior. And by our Heavenly Father. I have had a strong testimony of my relationship with the Savior for a long time, but I always wanted to have a relationship like that with Heavenly Father. I wanted to understand Him and what He was doing in my life more. And I am so blessed to have learned some of that. I have learned that He truly loves us. He could not be more pleased with what I am doing. And if all of us are doing good works and following his commandments, He could not be more pleased at that. We all know what we need to do. He loves us even when we don't do it. He just loves us. The message of this Christmas season is that Our Father just loves us. So much that He was willing to send a perfect Son to earth and watch His Son perform the Atonement for us and not intervene. Sometimes, I think, that is the most striking example of our Heavenly Father's love for us: when He doesn't intervene. When He allows us to struggle because He sees what it's going to do for us. It's not that He doesn't care that we're in pain, it's that He loves us too much to take it away.
Doyle (who I call "Doiley"... but not to his face) is getting baptized this Saturday morning at 10:00 am. He is not smoking, he is coming to church, he is wonderful. WONDERFUL!! I do not know what more of a gift I could receive this year than that. The biggest blessing I have had in the last 2 weeks is the opportunity to work with Doyle. He is doing so good. And he is wonderful. James, on the other hand, has moved to Lufkin apparently and will not be back. He won't return phone calls or texts and I just am I cannot tell you how sad. It's almost like a hollowness. Just pray for him. It's right before Christmas, he deserves to be happy.
Um.. where is Jerry Dearden going on his mission??? I don't think I even knew he had his call!! Well.. maybe Mom you told me. But I don't remember. Where is going? When does he leave?
Mom, you are just the best. I am loving the Christmas countdown and advent calendar. I got your package too and I'm taking the vitamins. I'm doing a lot better. I still think it would be wonderful if someone could wave a magic wand and I'd feel good all the time, but I think that's unrealistic. I just need to keep trucking even if I don't feel good. How are you doing? Are you excited for Christmas? I am so excited! To talk to yall will be perfect!!
Dad, thanks for your e-mail! Your work sounds pretty cool! I can't wait to come home and hear more about it and see how it actually works. It seems exciting! Like you have to be persuasive and creative. Things like that, that make you be creative, are the best. How did our stake natviity thing go? I hope it was great. What about the 2 baptisms? Did you get to go? How does this all even work in Utah?
James, I think I thanked you last week for your letter, but thanks again. It's pretty bomb. I read all the letters from you mom and dad (and if jony ever sent one I think I'd read that too) multiple times. They are such strengths to me. How did finals go? And your ward christmas party? Are you excited for Christmas? It's probably going to be so weird for me to be a missionary and you be home, huh? And next year Jonny!
Jonny how are YOU? I'm going to keep asking you until you write me. Just do it. Nike, baby. Dad says youre doing really good in basketball. And I know you're out of school so you can write to me. Mmkay pumpkin?
Wilsy, how are you? You are so cute.
Well, I love yall so much! If I could wish you anything for Christmas it would be, just like the song says, Let your hearts be light. Let your hearts be happy and light and full of the joy that we have as a result of who our Savior is to us. And joy just because of every good thing that we have. CANNOT believe we get to talk in 6 days! I'm so excited. So the plan is 4:30 here... maybe we should do 5... we'll go with 4:45 here? so 345 there. Perfecto. I will call the home phone or I will ring yall on the skype. LOVE YOU SO MUCH. HAVE A GOOD WEEK!
Here is my caroling to you :]
I'm dreaming tonight of a place I love even more than I usually do, And although I know it's a long road back I promise you
I'll be home for Christmas You can plan on me, Please have snow and mistletoe and presents on the tree Christmas eve will find you where the love light gleams I'll be home for Christmas if only in my dreams
Have yourself a merry little christmas, let your heart be light, next year all our troubles will be out of sight. Have yourself a merry little christmas make the yuletide gay, next year all our troubles will be miles away, here we are as in olden days happy golden days of yore faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us once more. Through the years we all will be togheter if the fates allow hang a shining star upon the highest bow and have yourself a merry little christmas now!

Friday, December 9, 2011


Yes, Siree, I am still here. In Porter. I really almost died when I learned that haha. Before I tell you about my week, I want to tell you all the wonderful amazing things I learned from Sister Cochran.
1. Just keep going. Just do the things that are weird or hard or awkward. Just do it. Because it's got to get done anyway, so you might as well just suck it up and do it before you have time to stress over it.
2. to LAUGH. Oh my gosh I am going to miss her so much because she laughs all the time. And sometimes I forget to have fun. haha I'm such a scrooge stress basket sometimes and she is so happy and loves to laugh. She told me once that is becuase she loves to laugh that she will always find ways to laugh. She's great. I miss her so much.
3. That I don't have to be in control of everything. This is something I learned while she was my companion and she helped me becuase when I let go a little bit, things still got done. And If they didn't we would ask for forgiveness and then try harder. But I need to not be in control of every little thing. I can't be and it will just stress me right out. So I'm still working on it. Having a new companion and leading the area does not really help me let go of control haha.
Those are just a few of the things. They are the most important to me. And Oh, my gosh. I love her. She's in Lake Charles Louisianna, and I'm happy for her! She lives next door to Elder Olsen who was like my BEST amigo and so I am so jealous. Like SOO jealous. But I will get over it. I hope. I just hate when my friends have a party and I don't get to go, you know what I mean?
However, I am grateful that Sister Baldwin is my companion. I have heard that she is just an excellent teacher and I am so excited to learn with her. Last night we taught two lessons and they were both really great. We work well as companions already. I'm excited for the good we'll be able to do here. I just hope this is my last transfer here because otherwise I will spend half of my mission in Kingwood. YIKES. I love the area but sometimes I just need a little something new.
The past week was really great. The weekend was taken up by our Stake's community Nativity program. It was awesome. You walk into the cultural hall and there are like 25 real christmas trees lining the walls. It smells like a dream boat. And then there are hundreds of nativities all over. I took pictures. Mom, you would DIE. You may have to come see it next year. Just don't tell me that you're here because I think i'll still be a missionary when they have the nativity. You really seriously would love it. The assistants were not pleased because we weren't allowed to proselte and there were at least 2 sets of missionaries there the whole time. We went to dinner with them and they were not pleased haha. But it was good we worked the photo room and so a lot of non members saw us and saw that this was our church. They will never be able to say the mormons don't believe in christ after being there. We had a really good time.
DOYLE CAME TO CHURCH SUNDAY!!! OH MY GOSH! For all 3 hours. I loved it!! And he loved it. He watched the Christmas devotional at home and we are going to meet with him tonight. We are going to talk about faith and the faith required to quit smoking. He needs to quit. Everything else looks like smooth sailing. I think tonight we'll go over the baptismal interview questions too.
Last night we also went to see Brother Pudil. His wife passed away last transfer and he's pretty lonely. We talked to him about christmas and the spirit was very present. I even got teary! Me. Crazy. We were talking about the true meaning of Christmas and I talked about my second favorite part of "O Holy Night" when it says "A thrill of hope! the weary world rejoices." I love that love that love that LOVE that. Because that is what the Savior is to us and was then. He came as a thrill of hope. Don't you just love that?? Who wrote this song?? I wish with all my heart we didn't have to stick to MoTab. I would love to listen to O Holy Night.
We went finding for like 2.5 hours on Saturday. It was great because we were in Porter. I love Porter. Kingwood still stresses me out, but I love Porter.
What else happened this week? We are going to start working with a lot of Part Member families. Awesome. I'm way excited. And San Jac lives in the K2 apartments so we will see Elders occasionally, I hope.
Mom, we got your christmas packages and we've been doing them and oh my gosh you are awesome. Seriously, you are going to be legendary in this mission because you are the BEST. We are loving the tender mercy thing, and sister baldwin is really excited for it. And the charm bracelette countdown is awesome. Today's made me cry. It was the one about the feather and the eagle. I just really needed to read that this morning. And it's true, that the Lord does that. He just kind of drops us becuase He knows were going to be okay, but he is never absent. He is always going to fix his eyes on us and at the slightest dip, I'm sure He dips too and rescues us. That's pretty cool. The Lord is, I don't want this to sound irreverant, but the Lord is really cool. And it's really cool that I'm learning these incredible things here. Anyway, thank you thank you thank you. You continually save my life haha!!
Dad, thank you for your letter too. Aren't we all suprised that I'm still here?? What's up with that? I'm glad to hear about work going well. You still need to tell me what it is that you do exactly. What is our stake doing for next year?? I want to hear all about it. Can you believe I'll be home at the end of next year? I can't. It seems so fast, and at the same time it seems like FOR. EV.VER. What fun things are you doing recently or soon??
Jamesy! What up? It has now offically been a whole transfer with no word from you. Por favor?? How is school and finals? How is church and everything? What should I do for Christmas season as a missionary? What were your favorite things to do? Also, I have a question. How do you, like... have FUN on a mission? I think you'll understand what I mean. How did you have FUN? Tell me all the ways. And how I can do them. I love the Elders and have fun with them but I feel like, since I'm a sister, I'm suuuper annoying sometimes? And I just can't seem to relax enough to have fun haha. Except with Sister Cochran I did so.. Yo no se. Tell me your thoughts on the situation.
Jonny. I don't know if I should give up on YOU writing me. Pretty sure it's been 4 months. Laaaame. You have stuff to tell me. Tell me about Senior year and basketball and mission prep class! who is teaching it? Do you like it? What do you do? I think about you sometimes and how you're going to be a missionary like these Elders that I love. And I wonder who you will be like here. I was thinking about you tracting or teaching a lesson and it was too weird, too bizarre I couldn't think about it. But I'm POSITIVE you are going to be the best missionary your mission has ever seen. So cool. I hope you go English speaking with all my heart.
Well, family. I love you. Keep the letters coming. I'm gonna need them. All is well, but i'm gonna need them. You are the best family in the world and I can't believe that I get to talk to you in 19 days!!!! NINETEEN DAYS!!!! They are going to go by so fast I bet. And after that I only talk to yall one more time and then I'm DONE-ZO! And I'm home. Weird. You are so great. Get ready for Christmas!! We've been challenging everyone to look for small ways to lift others and spread the Christmas spirit. Do you know how helpful it is to just ask your cashier how their day is going?? Even if they're rude (which 99% of the time they aren't) I know it lifts them that someone cares how their day is going. I can't believe I never did that before my mission. Will you guys do that? Look for little ways to lift other people this week? You will have a better week if you do, I promise.

guess who is still here?

Yeah I am still in Porter. I am going to write to yall tomorrow morning a longer letter but just know that I love you and I'm still here and Sister Cochran is in Louisianna with my best friend Elder Olsen and I'm jealous but getting over it. And my companion is Sister Baldwin from the MTC. I'm excited. I love you all and I will write to you tomorrow morning!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Six months?

Oh my gosh. I just deleted my whole e-mail on accident! So this may be a little shorter. So sorry.
Hi! Can you believe I've been out for six MONTHS this week. Six months!! I do what I just did two more times and I'm done. Weirdy. Time is very strange on a mission. James remember when you said "The days feel like weeks and the weeks feels like days"? Well, seriously. I can't think of a different way to describe the way time is going for me as a missionary.
This last week was really good! Tuesday or Wednesday we taught Doyle and he is doing so well! He will be baptized next month. He didn't come to church yesterday which was so frustrating because we talked about church so much just the night before at our lesson. He will get there though. I am the happiest when I am teaching I realized. It was like this with James and it is like this again with Doyle. Also me and Sister Cochran have been using the concept of gratitude in our lessons a LOT (seeing as it was Thanksgiving. Why not use it, right?) And we've been trying to be more grateful and it has been just so cool. I know I've talked about it before, but being grateful really will change your life. It will make you happy. I have been so happy this week and it's because I was trying to be grateful. And it is Christmas season. So nice.
Thursday was great! I wondered if I would be sad because it was my first holiday away but I wasn't sad. I try not to think about how home looks with snow and what you all were doing etc. I had such a good day! We studied in the morning because I , like, can't function without studies in the morning. And then we went to the church and played nerf wars (the chapel was off limits no worries). I kind of understand how James and Jony love to play Halo because nerf wars were so fun. We played a game called President (which my team lost EVERY time.) and we played a game called Bomb. We had the cell phones in different rooms and the goal was to get to the room and turn on the bomb and blow up their base. So fun. We won that one. We played that until our lunch at 3 oclock and then had thanksgiving with the Heinzes. It was DELICIOUS. They had a cajun turkey. It was different. But they had mashed potatoes and green been caserole and stuffing and I was in HEAVEN. Then we went up to the Corbins and just visited with them for a while. Then we went back to the church and had nerf wars until the end of the night - until 9 oclock!! It was crazy. I loved it and I was just brimming with gratitude all day long.
Saturday it rained all day long and it is now freezing here. We went tracting and I saw a scorpion! I took a picture of it all poised to attack but the picture didn't turn out, so I will send it but it may be lame. I loved it because it was gloomy and cold and listening to Christmas music was better. I just find it hard to listen to christmas music while it is 80 degrees outside. I realized this week that it is my first and last christmas as a missionary. Crazy.
Yesterday was a great day. We tracted and ran into a nutso pentecostal man. He was old and literally was yelling (not because he was angry just because he was nuts) for like 30 minutes he would not let us leave his porch. I almost died. Then at night we had dinner with the Chapmans (they are awesome. He served a mission in pocatello and is so cool. we love to talk to him about missionary stuff because he has the funniest stories) and then went to see one of my favorite less-actives Red Drye. Oh my gosh he is cool. His wife still will not speak to us, but he is the best. We talked about repentance with him.
This week will be really cool because of the nativity! Our church does this cool thing where they have all of these nativities set up in the gym and it is advertised throughout the community. I will have to send pictures, mom you will love it!! But becuase of that, we can't play basketball for the whole month of December (not that I'm heartbroken about that) but we are in Atascocita e-mailing so we can go to the gym here and the Elders can play to their heart's content.
I am really happy. Dad I was reading that talk you sent me that you gave at stake conference and my e-mail that I sent home and I see how much I've grown and changed in the past six months. I hope yall have been blessed by my service as a missionary because I have really been blessed by it. I am so thankful.
Dad, thank you for your letter this week! It sounds like everything is good at home! I was thinking about your new job and what is it exactly that you are doing all day long? Selling things? Or coordinating sales? Can you explain it to me?
Mommy, how are you? Did you have a good week? I hope you're doing good. YOUR BIRTHDAY IS THIS WEEK! What are yall doing for your birthday? Something HUGE I hope!! I wish I was there to celebrate- the big 3-0 right? :] How is everything going for you?
James, hello??? How are you? I bet you are busy with finals and etc. But I bet you could use a break and write to me about your life. And give me some advice. I miss your advice. :] Did you guys all decorate your planners in your missino? cause it's a huge thing here, everyone decorates their planners.
Jonny, how is senior year and how is basketball? I bet you will get more playing time if you write me a letter. That's generally how it works, I've heard.
Well, I love yall. Transfers are next week and I really don't want to leave Kingwood right before Christmas. Just pray that the Lord's will will be done, mmkay? I can live with whatever that is. It is always what's best for me.
I'm one third of the way done with my mission. It is already such a blessing. How can I improve? Tell me things I should do to be better :]
I love you all. I love this gospel, I really do. I love the Savior so much and I am so excited to talk about Him all month long. He is the reason this is such a beautiful time of year. Even though I'm no snow and not a ton of fun parties, I will be so happy. I will be serving closely beside the Man whose birth we celebrate. I just love him. I have always loved the part of O Holy Night where it says "Fall on your knees" the most. To me, that explains how I should approach our Savior. Fall on your knees.
Get into the Christmas spirit. Serve someone. Be happy. Be nice to some random somewhere. We have the greatest reason to be happy.
Love yall!!!!!
Sister Hicken

It's my first big holiday away from home!

hi family! it is my first big holiday away this week. I go through moments where that is a bummer and moments when it's okay. So who knows. Thursday is an all-day p-day this week so it will be good. We just are able to e-mail and clean and shop today. But sister cochran is sick - she threw up this morning so we are not going to be doing very much of anything today.
We had a good week. Yesterday church was really good. It is funny that I am probably about to leave Kingwood. I think I will probaly be transferred away after the first weekend in December. I have NO idea what I'm going to do in another area. In some ways it's really exciting, because six months feels way too long to be in one area and I'm just ready for a change. But on the other hand - this is all I've ever known as a missionary. I will miss this area a lot. It's weird that I (most likely) won't serve in Kingwood again. And I will miss being close to the Crawfords so much. I love them. I hope you prayed for President Crawford, his Father passed away last week. He didn't go back for the funeral but Sister Crawford did. President is such a great person. I love him!
But church yesterday was good because of the Relief Society lesson - it was by our Stake President's wife Sister Paulsen and it was awesome. She talked about how Heavenly Father creates with words and how we do too. We need to use our words to uplift ourselves and others. She also said if you are having "one of those days" just shut yourself up in your room and read your scriptures until you feel better. And I'm like "YES. I totally agree with that... but as a missionary I don't feel like I can." Any perspective on that? Last night we taught a lesson to Doyle. He is so great. I really think he will be baptized because you can feel the change in him. It's pretty cool. He has had every anti- thing thrown at him. And he is still pluggin along. I respect him so much for that.
Saturday we rode our bikes all day long. Bikes are the key to a happy mission. For reals. I love riding bikes. And the weather is so nice now (80 is about the high- the HIGH!! Can you believe it?? I think I'm going to die next summer.) that we can ride around without dying. When I come home I am riding my bike all the time.
Friday we did some bike riding and we had dinner with the Stake President and his wife. President Paulsen was called by Elder Uchtdorf to be the Stake President right after President Uchtdorf was called to be an apostle. It was his first Stake President calling I guess. He was telling us about it and Sister Paulsen was told us that President Uchtdorf called their house and was like "Hello Sister Paulsen, this is Elder Uchtdorf." and she drew a complete blank of what to say. I can totally understand that. Anyway President Paulsen gave us the name of some part member families in the ward that he wants us to go see.
Thursday we had Zone Conference. It was pretty good but I hadn't slept well the night before so I didn't soak it up very well. Plus I feel like I no longer have any missionary friends haha. I just need to be a better friend right? Another reason I am going to be glad to get out of Kingwood is that I feel like there's mission drama here and I will not have it any more.
Wednesday we had a lesson with our investigator Sandy. She was blessed as a child (because her aunt and uncle are lds I guess) and it went so well. We asked her to be baptized and she said yes, but she's about to get engaged and she wants to talk to her fella about it. Understandable. But she texted us today and cancelled our appointment. Lovely. So we'll just pray for her. Nothing we can do.
Tuesday me and Sister Lundgren were on exchanges and that was really nice. We had another severe storm warning so we were not allowed to go out. That was lame. But we had a good day.
Monday was a good p-day. We played volleyball. Let me tell you a story about little old me. I am just so competitive that I won't try. Like on p-day, when we play stuff, I won't even try because I'm afraid of being really bad at it. I am working on just doing it, even though I really don't want to. Because it is so fun. It was a good pday. Me and Sister Lundgren were together from after pday to Tuesday night so we had dinner together at pei wei, because our dinner appointment cancelled on us.
That was pretty much the week.
Mom!!! We got your package and we are SO happy. Sister Cochran was thrilled with the ensign and I was SOOOOOOOOO thrilled - you have no idea! And we love the mormon tabernacle choir cd. Our one cd was getting kind of old. We got a christmas tree from a member this week. It is like 4 feet tall and white with white lights. We are decorating it this thursday. Also on thursday we are going to the church with the other missionaries and playing "president" with nerf guns. It should be really fun, I will let you know how it goes.
Madre how is everything? Good?
Dad - I got your talk and I loved it! I felt a little weird that the entire stake knows what a nut case I am, but that's okay. they probably already knew, right? :] I hope it helped somebody out, like you said, to hear my stresses. I am learning how to not be stressed. It is all encompassed in looking toward the needs of others. For some reason, it is really difficult to put my mind on others all the time - probably because these others are investigators who are dropping us or not progressing or I don't know what to do. But the more I do it, the better off I'll be. I'm learning. How is work for you? How is the Stake? Are you getting all geared up for christmas?
James it has almost been the whole transfer since I've heard from you! I hope to hear from you soon, because I know you have stuff to update me on. School, work, life, the chicas? You're so great. I hope you are having a good semester.
Jonny, Mom sent me your pictures... oh wait I think I already commented on the hair. Did I? Well, anyway, your hair was WAY too long :] shave it all off. congratulations on making the basketball team!! I knew you would, you're such a star. how is everything going? WRITE ME.
Is it snowing there? I bet it is. I miss the snow. It's hard to listen to christmas music when it's 80 degrees. Sick.
Um KATIE POULSON YOU ARE ENGAGED?!?!? I cannot believe that that's so exciting!! I wish I could be at your wedding!! You will have to write me once you are married and settled down and tell me how you met this fella and how you fell in love and etc. It is so crazy that you are getting married!! Cool, but crazy.
Since it is coming on Thanksgiving I have been thinking a lot about being Thankful and Grateful. That is how the Lord would have us be. Because we will do so much more good when we focus on the good things in our lives. There will always be hard things. There will always be something difficult going on in our lives. But we don't have to be consumed by it. We can let go of those things as we hold on to being grateful for what's good. Focus on what blessings you have. We have so much good in our lives. I'm thankful for you, my wonderful family. You are the number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (wilsy:] ) things on my list of things to be grateful for. I am thankful for this country that we live in. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to serve the Lord on a mission. Sometimes I forget the "why" of me being here. I am so focused on how I'm doing and how I'm feeling that I forget why I am here. One of the reasons is because the Lord has blessed me so much - with a knowledge of the gospel and a family and His church. I am always in His debt, but it's the least I can do to serve Him in the ways that I am able to. I'm thankful for President and Sister Crawford. They are incredible and I can't believe that in one year I will just say adios to them and go separate ways. I love them. I am thankful for the other missionaries I have met. I am thankful to be companions with Sister Cochran. I am thankful for the hard lessons I am learning. I am thankful above all that my Father in Heaven sees me as who I can be and will not settle for less. He never will. I am thankful for that. And I'm thankful that my Savior is right there, alongside me, every single step of the way. He will not give up or give in or settle for less either. We're all on the road to perfection here, and They will not settle for less than that. Once we know the way, and we decide to go in the way, they are committed. 100% to getting us there. I AM SO THANKFUL FOR THAT. I am thankful for the leaders of the church. I am thankful for their love of all of us.
I'm thankful for the pretty awesome life I've had so far. I was talking to Sister Cochran last night and I realized I've had a really good life. I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful that you all get to get together on Thursday and think of things your thankful for. Do it.And then do it again the next day- think of things you're thankful for. It will change your life, I promise.
I love you. I'm still here, still workin on it all. I'm grateful for that too :]

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving is next week!

Hey family! How are yall? :] I'm getting to be pretty firmly attached to my Texan lingo. Get ready for it when I get home.
So in about 2 weeks I will have only 12 months left - only one year. I will have been on a mission for 6 months. Weird, right? I hope you have been seeing blessings in the past 6 months. I have been seeing a lot of blessings. A lot of trials that ARE blessings. Cool huh? I hope you don't feel like all I am is negative and complaining, I'm trying not to be negative. President Rasband talked about missionary work being difficult, and it is and I think that I'm always going to have a stuggle of some sort going on. Maybe not, but for the time being that seems like it's the case. These hard things and trials really do bless me in the long run though. That doesn't make them any more fun to go through. The Lord knew exactly where I needed to serve to help me to grow the most. And it's for sure going on. I'm being so blessed though. I can think about that when I have a minute to sit down and write to you or write in my journal.
So. This last week pretty much all of our investigators dropped us, ditched us, or dropped off the face of the earth. Doyle is MIA and won't return phone calls. We're going over tonight to just knock on the door and see how he is. We did find someone new to teach, and it's actually someone we have been going by since July. Since before we found James, cause he lives on James' street. Mario. He is cool. He is pretty firmly Catholic, but we explained about the Book of Mormon and he really wants to read it. Sweet! That will be the answer for him.
Speaking of, James is doing well. He is going to institue every week and he came to church in our ward on Sunday (instead of in Lufkin with his kids). He just has so much going on. He has made some pretty interesting choices in life, but we know he is doing well. We talked to him about the temple this week, about how he needs to prepare himself to go. James is a guy that just smiles all the time, though, and sometimes when we're talking or even in church, he is just looking at me and smiling. And I think that's a little weird from time to time. It worries me haha. But it's all good.
President Rasband this week - WOW! So cool. Especially because it was another Tri-Wizard Tournament and I love those because I got to see Sister Hurren, Elder Curtis and Elder Leishman. Oh, I just LOVE and adore them. They seem like they're doing good. President Rasband talked more about "The divine call of a missionary" like his talk from conference last year (or whenever it was). He also talked to us about the missionaries in the McAllen mission that were killed. He said that while he was an area authority another missionary was killed in the field and President Hinckley called him up and asked him to go to the funeral. Pres Rasband was like "Yes, President. You did schedule me to go to another meeting in Florida this week, though.." (something totally respectful though. that doesn't sound respectful haha sorry President Rasband) and President Hinckley said "You go on behalf of the first presidency." He said that the missionaries are so important the the President of the church and the 12. If President Monson were there, he would say two things to us: 1. Thank you 2. I love you. Me and Sister Cochran talked a lot about how we love the apostles. We got our conference ensign but we have to share it which is no bueno cause we both want it all the time :].We are so lucky to have the general authorities.
Well, my desire to do missionary work has just gone down the tubes this past week. I don't know why, really. For one thing, I don't feel like I'm doing any good for anyone. And I have been feeling a lot of stress and I've come to discover that when I feel stress I just want to shut down. I'm not really sure why this is going on - like what triggered it - but me and Sister Cochran are going to try some things and then go to Sister Crawford if it doesn't get better. My problem with it all, is I feel like everyone just wants me to feel better so I can hurry and not be a burden to them anymore. Like, hurry to get better so you can work. Which is true. But this week I realized that the only person out here who wants me to get better just so that I'll feel better is probably my Savior. And I am so grateful for Him. He wants me to feel good so that I will feel good. Of course He wants me to work hard but I know that He cares about ME. And how I feel and what I want. I'm trying to be a good kid.
President Crawford's dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer this week, so will you all please keep him and his family in your prayers? They do so much for us and I know they will need the Lord's strength during this time. Losing a parent while you have all of this mission as a responsibility has got to be really difficult. I can't even imagine. I don't feel like I can check out for a single second, no matter what is going on, and so he must feel that strain X 1000.
We're listening to Christmas music already! We love it. It lifts our spirits so much!! I wish it was Christmas all year long. People are going to feel the Spirit of Christmas and that will make it much easier to respond to our message I know. I hope yall are enjoying the snow!!! I am so jealous. We wish we had snow here. At least it's cooler right? Sometimes we look back and we're like "Um... HOW did we last in 100 degrees every day in August???" I have no idea. Seriously, how did we do it??
Mom, thank you for the package. I'm loving the clothes!! Thanks for you letter too. I love hearing about what's going on at home. How is Grandma? Tell her I love her and that she is fabulous. Are you decorating a little bit? The weirdest thing is that I will be home for next Christmas!! Also weird - I get to talk to yall in like 6 weeks!! Like 40 days or something like that!!! I'm so excited.
Dad, thank you for your letter also!! I'm glad to hear that work is good. How did your mission president meeting go? I hope that things turn around in the area. Keep trying, good things are to come! Is the Stake doing anything for Christmas? The Stake here does a huge nativity thing and they invite the whole community. That will be the first weekend in December, so I will for sure be here for that.
James, how is school and work? How is life? Are you guys doing anything big for Christmas in your single's ward? What's new and fun in your life?
Jonny, your hair was SO LONG in your school picture!!! HOLY! How did basketball tryouts go? I prayed for you :] So that means, whatever happens, the Lord is in it. Cool huh?
I love you all so much. I'm sorry that I tell you guys about the difficult stuff. I hope you don't mind. I miss you and love you and am excited for what's going on in your lives.
Speaking of, any news from home or family that I should know about? Any weddings or babies or big events?
Love you all. Have a good week.
(Pictures: the new BANGS!)


Hello my family! I had a really good week last week. Ups and downs like normal missionary life but it was good.
Monday we went to visit the old man in our ward whose wife just passed away, Brother Pudil. He is great. We sang a song to him - Because I Have Been Given Much. That is his favorite hymn. He has a pretty cool story. He was raised in the foster care system, and in orphanages. When he was in college he met with the missionaries and shortly after that met his wife. She has met with the missionaries in college as well. She grew up near an orphanage and would over and give one of the little boys there sweets from time to time. Years later, Brother and Sister Pudil were talking about the situation and figured out that the little orphan boy was him that she would give candy to. Isn't that cool? Poor Brother Pudil, he is very sad.
Tuesday we had a member of the ward come out with us (the best! I love when members come out with us) and our appointments fell through. So we went finding. And we started talking to this Hispanic family with her sorta-English and my sorta-Spanish. But after a while we sat down and actually shared a message with them! In Spanish! Sister Cochran was like "Gift of Tongues??" and you know what it probably was. My spanish wasn't that good, but they understood what I was saying (I shared Mosiah 4:9 and I know the word for Believe and God in Spanish. So... there you go.) But Spanish words definitely came to my mind throughout. It was cool.
We worked a TON with Less Active members this week. We don't know why, but we just kept feeling promptings to go see them. And it turned out so good on so many accounts. I kind of got sick this week, but one day we went to see this woman, Lisa, and her daughter and we just love them. They are moving across the road and we were able to help them box up some stuff. They are great.
Thursday night we had a church tour with Doyle and Sister Lee. When Doyle got there, he was extremely hostile and kept throwing out this random accusations and facts, like for example the Priesthood and black people not having it for a while. And we just tried to redirect him after we resolved his concerns the best we could. But he was pretty hostile all the way until we were at the sacrament table and I felt like I should bear my testimony about the Savior and why I love Him and why I take the sacrament. And I looked him right in the eye and did. And then we went and talked in front of the baptismal font and he was great. So happy and so talkative. He is still pressing forward toward baptism, but he didn't come to church yesterday so we will have to change the date that that happens. It went extremely well, though.
We also saw Sister Harless a lot this week. Have I ever told you about Sister Harless. She is incredible. She is like 80 years old and at age 68 she served a mission for a year in New York City. She is still just full of life and energy and she has had the coolest life. I just love to listen to her stories. Her life has been so full. It's kind of the same with Sister Kretschmer. This week when we saw her, we talked about "jumping in" and she was telling us about something that had happened in her life and I told her I thought she had had a really great life and she said "well, you just have to jump in." and I think that is so profound. And so what the gospel teaches us too. We are supposed to get involved and live and help others and have JOY. Men are that they might have joy right?
This Friday, we had Zone Meeting (the last one, I guess, President is pulling the chord on those apparently) and after zone meeting I am usually like "uggggggh, I just like being around people that don't hate me and that are my friends and it's hard to go back to work." but this Friday we went and taught Anna (our new investigator) and she just cried the whole time. It was so timely for her. We are going back this Friday. She is great. I hope we can help her.
Saturday we went and saw one of our potential investigators mother. And her mother became our investigator. She was born in Utah and was actually blessed as a baby (her aunt and uncle are LDS and she called it "christened" but we got the gist).She is really open and we hope we can bring the spirit in so that it can teach. Because if we try to do it ourselves, we will botch it to death. Sister Crawford may be coming to our return appointment on Thursday. We hope so. We love Sister Crawford.
This coming week will be really good. Guess who is coming to Houtson?? Elder Ronald A. Rasband! (I think that's his first name, right?) I was like "Heyyyy I know his family!" He is coming to speak to all of the Houston missions. I am way excited. It should be fantastic.
I am learning so much. Guess what, it keeps going fast!! That is still exciting to me. I'm sure at some point I will hate how fast it goes, but at this point to move faster than a snail's pace is really thrilling. That means I am happy. I have learned that people don't want us to be their friends. They want us to be missionaries. The ward, the investigators, they don't want us to be chummy with them and tell them it's okay if they don't keep commitments or tell them they don't have to do missionary work. They want us to ask them to do things. We need to be BOLD. That is so hard for me, because I really want people to like me. But we have been studying from the 4 gospels, you know, and right now we're in Luke. And a recurring theme throughout all of them is "Whosover shall lose his life, shall find it." That is what I have to do. That is what we all have to do is lose our lives. Lose it all in the service of others and of our God. He will give us so much more than we give up. He will make us so much more than we can make. Like the 4th missionary says "He will create a masterpiece, you will create a smudge. You will create an ordinary man, He will create a God... Just give it up. Surrender your will to His." OH my gosh, it's so cool! I love thinking about these kind of things. These have been my thoughts of late, rather than thoughts of "oh my gosh this is so hard this is so hard!!" because it is still hard, but it is life. This is my life now and it is going to be alright. We talked to one of our ward members who really is struggling right now and told her to read Ether 1-7. I LOVE Ether. The whole thing is a metaphor. We have to believe that, thought the waves are going to dash and push us around, the lord says "I will bring you up again out of the waves". and After they got into the barges "the wind did never cease to blow toward the promised land." When we ask the lord for something, when we ask for a "promised land" we have to then get into our barges and allow the the Lord to take us where we need to go. Because, He has promised that the wind will never cease to blow us toward our promised land. If we've asked for something good, the Lord is going to help us get there. He will never give in or give up on us. He will NEVER do that. I thought a lot about ABA therapy in conjunction with that. When the kids have a tantrum, we as the therapist are supposed to not react. Because we know that they are just throwing a tantrum and that in the long run, we want more for them then their happiness in that moment. We want them to be able to go to school and go on with life and have everything they want. so BECAUSE of that, we don't reach over and hug them and give them what they want. It's the same with the Lord, he will NEVER give up on us. When we throw our tantrums, he will never give in to them. He loves us. He wants us to have so much more happiness than what we can see in front of us. So He will not take away our trails because if He did, we wouldn't be as happy. He will never give up on us and give in to our tantrums. The wind will never cease to blow us toward the promised land, but that also means the wind will never cease to blow. We have to have faith in Him! Trust Him who knows what we can be and where He is leading us. :] I'm feeling good lately, can you tell?
In 3 weeks, I will have been on a mission for 6 months!! Mikelle will be half way through her mission. Nuts.
Mom I LOVED your letter. Every time you think your life is boring, just know that I eat it all up. I love hearing about your day to day stuff. Tell Grandma that I love her so much this weekend, okay? I'm glad you get to spend time with her too. Will you tell Diane that Daren put his home address on the letter he sent me, so I want to know if I should just mail my letter to their house or if she has another address to give me? Thanks. Thank you also for the talk Uchtdorfs. He is so great. How was your week this week? Snow yet? Want to switch? I bet you do, our days are GORGEOUS right now.
Dad, you were the tangled princess for halloween?? Why did you choose her?? No complaints, I loved that movie a lot. Did you get a picture of it. How is everything else going? What is work life like for you now? Tell me about it :]
James, please tell me you were a Disney princess at work for Halloween as well! did you ahve to dress up? or GET to dress up I guess? School is winding down now, huh? Getting geared up for finals?? Do you have to plan the christmas party since you are the elders quorum president? you should be santa. that would be neat. Today we were changing CDs in the car and guess what show was on "the sean hannidy show" that reminded me of you.
Jonny I would like an Indian costume picture. That sounds so fun! How was MORP,. Mom says basketball try outs are today. We will pray for you. :] I hope you do good. I'm sure you will you are a rockstar. How is life as a senior?? You are a good boy. Keep being a good boy and get out on a mission.You will be so great out here.
Yall are so great! I bought your Christmas present today!!! You will LOVE it. Stay tuned. I hoep you have a great day. Here are some pictures.
OH MY GOSH I forgot to tell you. Mmkay, I don't know if I ever told you about Elder Peterson? Well he is great and we love him and he just went home this transfer. But he is back to visit and guess who his mother is Carolyn Hebertson!!... I think. she went to high school with you guys? I am attaching a picture. Yeah, she is Petey's mom. Nuts, huh?? small world.
LOVE YOU GUYS SOOO MUCH have a good week and write me a letter. Muchas gracais.
We had Sisters Day this week. It was phenominal. I loved it. Sister Cochran and Sister Baldwin and I were all MTC muchachas together. I told you about sister Temple and her son right? well this is a picture of them.... and sister temple looks like she is a vampire!! I can't believe it. She really is a beautiful old lady. I hope I age like she did.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

THANK YOU FOR THE PICTURE!! James, you are the best! You guys all look relatively the same... except Jonny is like a mammoth. What are you eating, boy?! You're tall. And like... grown up. That's weird. Wilsy needs a haircut :] But we will disagree about that because Mom likes his hair long and I like it short short. Oh well.
This past week was a good one. Sister Kinikini was so awesome. She helped me a lot with my speed during lessons. I am usually full speed ahead, talking talking talking (which is so not good) but she was so relaxed and asked a lot of questions. I realize, though, that she is so effective because she focuses so much on the work and bettering other people. And as I focus so much on that as well, I will be good like her. I told yall about my "servants" verses "great missionaries" thought right? I'm still trying to do that.
We are continuing to teach Doyle. He is so awesome, and so sincere and he DOES ALL OF THE THINGS WE INVITE HIM TO DO!! I'm loving it. He is keeping commitments, my hero! We have taught him a lot about the Book of Mormon and how we can't prove or disprove anything. God will tell him, and that is something he and I firmly believe. We just have to deliver the Spirit of the Lord well. Which is one of the reasons I am starting a new study of Preach My Gospel. I am reading it from the beginning and doing ALL of the "Personal/Companion Study" activities. It is so great. Because, let me tell you, I could be 900X better at teaching than I am. That's what Preach My Gospel is, a guide on how to be a better missionary. Because I really do want to be a good missionary... or I guess I really want to be a good servant, right? :] It is a little overwhelming at times, but I am learning to live with myself and my imperfections. I'm SO glad I figured all this stuff out now, before I have a family and a husband. I have realized that I put that perfectionist expectation on others as well as on myself. I'm working on not doing that. Obviously that is a very bad thing to do. I'm also reading through the book that the church just put out "Daughters in my Kingdom" Have you read that mom?? It's the Relief Society book. OH. MY. GOSH. Mucho gusto.
James Jr. is again MIA. I am trying not to have a heart attack about it. I'll keep you posted. Last thing we heard from him was that he went to Institute all by himself! So good!! And nooowwwww... we have no idea.
Yesterday we had stake conference. And it was SO GOOD! President and Sister Crawford Spoke, one of the temple presidency members and his wife, and then the Stake Presidency. Our Stake President is pretty cool. He reminds me of you Dad! Something he does is every year, he challenges the Stake to do something. This year it was this: "Every day, for the rest of your life, read one chapter of the Book of Mormon." Those things sound a little melodramatic, but let me tell you, people won't usual do something unless they're invited to. And if President Paulsen invites someone in the Stake to read the book of mormon evrey day for the rest of their lives, the invitiation will be taken by at least one person, and that one person's life is -badabing!- changed forever. So cool. He also talked a lot about member missionary work which WE NEED SO BAD!!!! I am so done tracting, and like I said, I really think it's because the Lord wants us to work with the members more often. Anyway, the title of his talk, I'm pretty sure was "Is there anything too hard for the Lord?" And it was kind of losely based on a talk by President Kimball in the October 1974 Ensign. Could somebody print that out for me and send it? I would appreciate it, I really want to read it. And, whilst you are doing that, could you print out the talk by President Uchtdorf about Creating? It was conference a couple years ago and it is BOMB. I am way excited to read it. This leads me to my Christmas list:
1. memory card
2. Mormon Messages DVD
3. My gray sweatpants. (Not the dark gray one's with the bleach on them, but the light gray ones. They should be in the bottom drawer in my dresser. I hope. I have no sweat pants and guess what? It's COLD! Amazing! A miracle!)
4. Lotion. Sister Lundgren had some called "Paris Amour" from Bath and Body works that was great. But whatever kind you like, just something fruity and nice.
Those are my requests for Christmas. I feel like a loser for not only wanting socks and red pencils. But you seriously don't have to get me any of those things if it won't work out. You are helping me so much with this mission, and that is for reals enough of a gift. I don't want to ask for like 6000 other things on top of that.
So. Now. Family.
How goes it this week? Can you believe it is Halloween???? Yall should watch Hocus Pocus for me, since I can't. Tomorrow is NOVEMBER. TOMORROW CHRISTMAS MUSIC STARTS ON THE RADIO!!!!!!! YUSSS!!!! We will not benefit from that, however. If you run across any Christmas MoTab CD's I would love them. We only have "Ring Christmas Bells" and that will get old real quick.
Dad, no worries about the letter :] I will just be more excited to get it now. I hope you give me a full account of stake conference. mom said you spoke and striving for perfection or something? Holla. That is the best topic and I really feel like SO many church members struggle with it. Hence President Uchtdorf's talk in Relief Society. How is everything else? Any exciting things going on?
Madre, you are just my best friend. You were in my dream last night. That was sad. I can't wait til we can hang out again! That will be awesome. How is everything? Did you decorate for Halloween at all this year? Or get th books out?
James, I already told you you are the BEST, but you really are. Thanks for that talk. Go Cecil! Perfectionism seems to be a common thread in the talks I'm hearing which is just proof to me that the Lord knows who I am and wants to help every single one of his children individually. How is work for you? I will get everyone to go to Chelsea's on Friday after district meeting and take a picture so you can show that person at your work. I'm excited- I'm sick to DEATH of going to Jasons Deli every week. Free Ice-Cream ropes the Elders in every time.
Jonny. You seriously look way old, it is weird. WEIRD. How is senior year? You are almost half way done, right? Maybe? Also weird. Tell me all about it and the dances and how is basketball looking for you? Hopefully good.
Well. My Family, I love you so much. You are the greatest people ever. This week we had a hard day, I hate transfers and I get all emotionally weird right after them, and then we had a funeral to go to and it was so sad and then just other things piled up and tracting in Kingwood scares the pants off of me because there are no trailer homes and that intimidates me, and I just wanted to see you guys! I was like "Man, I miss my family! I miss talking to people that like me!" So thanks for being people that I miss. And that I like to hang out with. I love you so much!!!!!!!!!
Keep the letters comin' Por Favor! And turn on the Christmas Radio!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • some of the missionaries at the Cruz house for dinner. Pratt and Peterson were going home in two days so we were saying hasta la vista. It goes, Peterson Me Sister Cochran Natalie Elder Pratt and then behind us Rasmussen and Davis. We miss them a lot.
  • (you really don't need to see me in this picture) the k2 missionaries in the car sunday night. We LOVED those Elders and they loved us. And it was so nice to have them in our ward.
  • at the halloween carnival for our ward. we are so cute, huh?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Guess where I am going!!!!???

Message body

Nowhere! I am staying here in K2. With Sister Cochran! We are excited. We are nervous because they are flushing the Elders out of our ward and giving us the whole ward! My whole mission I have shared a ward and I am feeling a little bit nervous about doing it all without the Elders. But we will keep going. I'm excited because there is still so much I need to learn from this area and from Sister Cochran I feel. One of the most important things is how to work with the ward and the members. We are not awesome at it. We had only 1 member present lesson this last week, and that was at a dinner appointment. That is not very good. We are working hard on getting members at our lessons this week. We have already scheduled 3 member present lessons with the members. Now we just need the investigators to cooperate.
This last week was a good one! We have been having some cooler weather lately, which is always so good. We haven't been going finding as much lately because I have been not liking it lately. I think that's for a reasons, though. Because I used to LOVE tracting. SO much. And I just really don't anymore, and I'm starting to think it's because we need to work with members more.
James is back at home. We saw him on Saturday night. He is doing good. He just has so much to be up against and that is hard. He came to church yesterday though. I hope he felt loved there. They are trying to detach him from missionaries, so I don't really know how to act with him when the ward is around. So he's okay. I want to find someone else to teach and baptize though! I'm really trying to be a good missionary.
Well, actually, let me rephrase that. I am trying to be a servant of the lord. "the 4th missionary" talk says that we should not strive to be "great" missionaries, because "great" implies us in relationship to others. We should strive to be servants of the Lord. Which is so what I want to be. I want to be good and I want to be enthusiastic and I want to be impactful. I really want to help people.
We found a man tracting this week named Doyle. He is great. Me and Sister Cochran taught him a 1st lesson on Saturday and it went very well. We talked about it afterward and we felt like the Spirit was able to testify through us and that Doyle really understood the importance of the message and reading and praying to know if the book of mormon is true. That's all we can ask people to do after all. His baptism will be November 19.
CAN YOU BELIEVE IT IS ALMOST NOVEMBER?!??!?!?!!?!? WHAT? Where did the year go? I got a letter from Daren this week and I had asked him if it really does speed up after a while in the field (I wrote him like the 1st week of the 1st transfer) and he told me that he thinks that sometimes, time goes slowly. But overall, it starts to go fast. Guess what, family? It has started to go fast. In 5 weeks, I will have been on my mission for 6 months! I will be coming home in 1 year!!!!!!! That is bizarre. And 1 year still seems like a long time. But we will just keep going. And we'll see how fast it goes. I bet it's quick.
For Christmas I actually DO have a list :] And it is much better than James' mission list. I would like a new memory card for my camera. Mine is full. And I want to just get different cards so I don't have to delete pictures you know? Mine says "SanDisk 2.0 GB" and on the back it says BE09162117240. I have no idea if that helps you to know what kind to get. I don't know how much they cost, but I would like one that is more than 2 GB if they are cheap-ish. Just so many fun pictures to take.
I am also thinking about getting a legitimate tracting bag. Because my brown one hurts my shoulders after a while. I want one like Sister Cochran has, maybe. I will take a picture and send it next week. Or if you see any recently returned missionaries, ask them what an ideal tracting bag is and they could probably steer you right.
I am also going to need some winter gear. Like my nice green coat? Or I can buy one here, but it is going to get cold at some point, I hear. Like, really cold. Good thing I have some awesome scarfs right? Scarves? Scarves.
This coming week we have the most legendary sister missionary staying with us for a few days. She is training, so she'll get her greenie on Thursday, and we get to hang out with her til then! She is (surprise) Polynesian. her name is Sister Kinikini and EVERYONE knows her and loves her and is obsessed. I'm a little intimidated, but also super excited because I have heard only good things about her. Actually, I have heard only INCREDIBLE things about her. Seriously, when I say legend, she would be it. This will be a SUPER good pride check for me, right? No competing!
We are going to have a good week. I'm excited for it. Weeks are starting to go by fast. Days still lag sometimes. But I am really trying to schedule more appointments. Because this is something that I've learned. If you schedule and appointment, then you expect yourself to deliver a better message. Because you don't just want to go waste people's time, you want to do something impactful and meaningful. That's why we're here, to invite people to act. I'm loving learning all these things. My life is never going to be the same after going on a mission. It's rad.
Today for Pday we went to a park and had a barbque. Pretty sure we were only invited cause Kinikini is with us. Sometimes the mission gets clique-tastic. Which is DUMB and I am not having it. We are a family, right?? But it was fun anyway. Sister Lundgren got a new companion but she is still in the zone, which is cool because I love her.
When this transfer is over, I will have spent 1/3 of my mission in Kingwood 2. Cool.
How is everything going at home?? How was conference and meeting Elder Bednar?? (Dad did you actually get to meet him?) That is way cool that you got to sit in the apostle chairs! I don't know what else to call them.
Dad, how is work going? Still good? How is the stake? Did you do your big calls yet? I hope they went smoothly. How are all the people in the stake and in the ward? How is the U doing this season now? Any better? How is Wynn?
Mom, how is work going for you? I loved your letter this week! I read a ton of it to sister cochran. All of my companions just know all about my family because whenever I get a letter I freak out and read the whole thing (pretty much) outloud. How is Wilsy? How is Grandma? I should write her. I have not written ANYONE is like 3 weeks. The worst. PDay has started to get nuts. But I love and appreciate and THRIVE off of the letters that I get, so it is so dumb of me not to write back. Becuase they seriously mean the world. I am so blessed, whenever I get a letter I just am blown away by how many blessings I have and how I don't deserve them.
Jamesy! How are you? How is escuela? You are about done with the semester. And I bet you have perfect grades huh? Do you go to institute? How is the ward and how the elders quorum? How's work? Have you picked a major for reals yet? How are the ladies?
Jonny, you have been silent for a while now. How is school and being a senior? Have you gone to MORP yet? Seriously, I want to see all the pictures from your dances. On the real. You can tell me about your ladies too. :] How is basketball going - when do you start? Or try out or whatever?
Family, what is up?? What is going on in the neighborhood and in your lives? I miss you so much! I think I'm always going to miss you. We have the best familia ever. I would LOVE a picture??? PLEASE???? LIKE TODAY!? Just sit down after dinner and take a picture for me. With Wilsy. I don't have my chord to attach pictures, which is sad because I have them to send. This last week, us and the K2 Elders were on a "Legacy" kick. I had to stand up for the movie, because I still LOVE it... even though it is just sometimes way cheesy. But somehow, we got to the point where we acted the best scenes of legacy out. and I hope I can attach a video because they are SO funny.
Well. I love you guys. You are really the best. I am so blessed to have such a great family. And also, all of the rest of y'all that read my blog and write me (or don't write me :] ) and pray for me. I am so blessed by all of you. I love the gospel. The gospel is my purpose as a missionary. I gave a talk in church yesterday about changing your heart. And I believe that only through the gospel and the atonement of Jesus Christ can we be effectively and permanantly changed. With the gospel, change is wonderful and lasting and every day we become better. That is why I want to share these things with people. I think I've forgotten that a little bit over the past 41/2 months. But I am remembering it now. I am remembering why I love the gospel and why I wanted everyone to know about it. People are still mean, but it's easier to deal with them. And not everyone's mean. And what's the worst they can do to me? Probably no one is going to smack me, so I'm good. I LOVE YOU!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Familia! How are you all?? Thank you Mom and Dad for your letters this week! I loved them. Everything you say to me is always just what I need to hear. I'm glad you all are happy!! Can you believe that I am going to have been out for 5 months in two weeks???!!?!?!? WHAT?!? Bizarre. That makes it feel like it's going fast.
So. Transfers are coming up next Monday. We will see. I would LOVE to stay here for another transfer, but I don't know if I will get to. I can see it going both ways. So just keep the mission president in your prayers are he decides where the Lord wants me.
This last week just sped by! We taught a lesson to C's mom on Wednesday because she thought that we were a cult that practiced polygamy (join the club, so does everybody else) and we taught her about the restoration and she is going to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. I love the tool that the Book of Mormon is. Because, seriously, I just have to be lovingly bold and know the right questions to ask them to get them to think, and then we tell them to read the book of mormon. And then we follow up. And that is ALL we can do. I cannot make anyone believe this. I never would be able to. But God can, and all He wants me to do is be there physically so He can teach them spiritually. It makes this all much less stressful. I'm doing better at not trying to be perfect. It is hard business. But I am trying every day to be better. I have kind of given up thinking this is going to get easy and super enjoyable at this point. I just need to do it. That is what I've been asked to do. And I am happy. I just am stressy and I don't like being rejected all the time. But I'm learning a lot a lot a lot.
Thursday we went to the temple. Oh. My. GOSH. I just want to LIVE there and never leave it. We always have to go too soon. That's something that is hard to get used to as a missionary, that you don't have time to just be. You just are constantly going going going. And I guess that is when we are supposed to learn to rely on the Savior because after a while you just don't have it anymore. It's just like Why should I keep going? Nothing is happening. And you still have to go on. Those are things that I really am grateful to be learning, even though it is not fun to learn them. But that's life - you keep going even when you can't. Because you don't have another choice really. And the Lord has promised that if we come unto him we will find rest for our souls. We are studying the New Testament as a mission right now, and it is AWESOME! The 4 gospels, a chapter or two every day, will take us all the way to CHRISTMAS! And then I will get to talk to you on the phone!! AH! I can't believe it is snowing there already. I think that's another reason why I feel like time just has not passed here in Texas, because the weather is pretty much exactly the same, except now it's a little cooler. Still hot though. And so it's like time just hasn't passed. Knowing that it is snowing at home, though, makes me realize that time is passing!
Thursday was also my brother's birthday!!!!!! WAS IT GREAT? I hope so. I hope you did all kinds of crazy things. I told everyone at lunch after the temple that it was your birthday. And that it was my half birthday -cause it was. I am officially 21.5 years old. It is great.
Speaking of the name, my lovely solid recent convert... is kind of in jail. Yeah. Awesome. We found out last tuesday. He apparently got a DWI and is in jail for 15 days. Very nice. So the ward has been out to see him, but we are hoping he just realizes that this does not change who he is and what he knows and where he can go. Unfortunately this will have a TON of consequences for him and school and work and everything. I am very sad about it. But there is nothing I can do, so we will go on.
Yesterday after church we went finding. And it was awful. We got told that we were going to hell. And that is just always a joy, but Sister Cochran started to cry after we left. And it didn't make me sad, it just made me apathetic. Like What in the world am I doing here? I'm still feeling a little bit that way. I'm just tired of going places where people don't like me. It's hard to want to do things that will make me feel bad. So, I'm thinking that from this we are supposed to be learning that we need to work with members more. Because I used to LOVE tracting. Like, LOVE it. And now I am struggling with it. Because it's like "What good even comes of it? People are just rude and I'm tired of putting myself into positions where people are rude." Oh, listen to me complain. I am sorry. That is just how I'm feeling this morning. It was a good night after that. We went to dinner at the Gold's house. And then we went tracting some more and met the nicest guy named Billy. He is cool. We're going back on Wednesday.
This will be a good week. And even if it's not, I will live :] But the idea that I might have to leave the Zone that I love and all the people that I know is alittle scary so I'm going to try and make it good. OOOH, by the way we have a new Assistant! And a new MTC-Training-Elder. Elder Sadleir, one of our Zone leaders, is the new AP. And Elder Tauteoli, our other Zone Leader... is the new MTC Training Elder. So we are just floating around without zone leaders a little bit. Kind of. Not really. But they're being trained this week... so kind of. I am excited for them! We have just had the BEST Elders in the Zone. They are top notch. We try to be good missionaries because we are so inspired by the missionaries around us.
Me and Sister Cochran laugh a lot. So that is good. I love her and I am so grateful for her. I really hope I'm with her for another transfer. There are so many things up in the air about the transfer though, because there is a totally empty sister's area, and an empty zone leaders area and not a lot of missionaries are coming in, and a lot are going home. And I feel like I'm an old hat now and that is SUPER weird because there are people that are newer than me. We'll see. Oh, family I am just constantly learning and that means that I am like never comfortable. Sooooo that is fun. I'm trying to be happy while I'm uncomfortable though. That's something that is a little foreign to me, because being happy and being comfortable in the real world usually go together.
How is everything there? I'm sorry to hear that the Utes are struggling, bless their hearts. How is the ward? Any new things that I should know about?? New kids or big events? Tell Spencer and Kenzie congratulations from me when you see them next! That is so cool!!! Everyone I know is going to be married when I get home haha. Me and Sister cochran talk about how we're just going to have to chum around with eachother because everyone else is getting married. How is school and work and everything else? How is the fire pit? I would love you all to just use that in honor of me all the time. ALSO I would really like a picture of my family!!!! HELLO??? What do you all even look like anymore??? :] So just send me one. I'll send some pictures from the temple and the past weeks for you. LOVE YOU!!
Haha in the one of me and sister cochran at the temple that is peterson in the background hahahhaha he is so funny i love him!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

to the best family in the world

Holla! Oh, I just love you guys. And I am in a great mood. This week is going to be the most phenominal week. I'm way excited. Let me tell you about last week...
Last Monday for P-Day we went to the mission home and helped Sister Crawford bake like 100+ muffins so she could freeze them for interviews and zone meetings and etc. Because she was staying up til what Elder Rasmussen calls "The ding of dawn" the night before they were made every time. (Speaking of Elder Rasmussen. SARAH GUNNERSON. GUESS WHOSE COUSIN ELDER RASMUSSEN IS???? Yeah. Write me. :]) So it was a good day. Then we went and saw James. He is doing well, but for the past weekend he has been MIA. No body can get in touch with him. Please keep him in your prayers. I worry about him. After that we helped out at the mission office doing laminations for Zone Meeting. It was way fun, we have the best missionaries in our mission.
Tuesday we did the usual, which included our appointment falling through. Well, I'm sure you can imagine that I really don't like it when appointments fall through. I hate not knowing what to do, because I feel like I'm not fulfilling my purpose if I'm not busy. BUT, I am learning so many awesome things on this mission. One of which is to relax. Things are not going to be perfect - ever. And if something changes that is okay. I like to have everything planned. I like to know everything that is going to happen to me. Because then I feel less scared. But that is not life and it is DEFINITELY not a mission. And I am learning how to deal with that. Did I already tell you that one of my goals is to be a "poly at heart" and by poly I mean polynesian. We have some awesome polynesian Elders and Sisters here, and at first I thought it was just a fluke that I looked up to them all. But I know it isn't. Me and Sister Cochran talk about how they are so happy and such problem solvers and so energetic, and we think it is their culture! Because they are all awesome missionaries and just roll with the punches. I love it. So it is either a part of the polynesian culture to just get it done and be happy ... or it is just the culture of all of them I have met out here. But I just want to be like them.
This is a cool thing from the week: all week we have been passing out flyers to the community that said "Please Join Your Friends and Neighbors in a Day of Fasting and Prayer for Rain Sunday October 9 2011". Because we need rain in the WORST way over here. It hasn't really rained since January. And so we passed out these flyers (in Kingwood. Mom. We HAVE to go walking in Kingwood Someday. You would LOVE the houses). and talked to a TON of people this week. Which was great. And then on Sunday, boom. Thunderstorms like you wouldn't believe. We were sitting in Relief Society and one of the members of our ward goes "Sisters Listen!" (she is so awesome, she is like 80 years old and still kicking) and it was RAINING so hard. I believe in prayer. And I believe in fasting. Oh, I have never loved fasting the way I love it now. I still hate being hungry and not eating, but I LOVE the way I feel when I fast. I am so much more spiritually sensitive.
Friday morning, I was in a bad way. I just did not want to see or be around anyone, I was irritated, the work was going slow and I just wasn't having any of it. We had Zone Meeting, and I was like "Ugh. I love Zone Meeting, but I am not in the mood right now." We went and oh. my. gosh. We have the BEST Zone Leaders in the world. It was the greatest Zone Meeting ever. Talk about an attitude adjustment. Because attitude really is everything. You can either be happy or miserable. Every day it is your choice. I am learning that because missionary work is not always fun and especially not when you don't have solid people to teach. And it is hot, and stressful and more full of disappointments than anything I've ever done in my LIFE. You are constantly putting your neck on the chopping block and 9 times out of 10 people swing the axe and take your head off (nice visual, eh?). But ... oh well! Like, seriously, Oh. Well. That doesn't change that you have to go out, that doesn't change that you have to keep going. So you might as well be happy about it. You might as well be nice and loving to people. I am so not as good at this as I want to be. But I want to be better! One of the things they did at Zone Meeting was show a video of a high school football team. And the team is talking about how the opposing team for the game that weekend is better than them, so the coach pulls one kid up and has him do this CRAZY drill where you are on your hands and feet (not you knees, but you feet. like, if you were doing yoga it would be downward dog) and you move forward that way- WITH another player on your back. Nuts. So anyway, the coach has this big kid come up and puts a blindfold on him, and asks him "Can you make it to the 30?" and he says "I can try coach". So off they go. And the coach doesn't stop him after the 30, he just keeps walking by the kids side. After a while the kid starts to ask "Am I at the 30 yet? Am I there yet?" and the coach just tells him "Don't worry about it, keep going. keep going!" and then the kid really starts to hurt. He starts telling the coach that he can't go any further and the coach says "Give me your best!" and he keeps going. Then the kid goes "it hurts!" and the coach goes "I know it hurts, keep going! Keep going! I want your best. Don't quit! Don't quit! Don't quit!" And finally, the kid just collapses and I'm pretty sure he's crying because he is so frustrated. But the coach takes off his blindfold and goes "You're in the endzone". And then he leans down and says to the kid "You are the most influencial player on this team.If you lead the others will follow." And it was just the coolest video I've seen in a long time. I LOVE sports analogies. They are so cool. That was like perfect for missionary work and what I was feeling Friday morning. So incredible. Because sometimes, like Friday morning I wrote it in my journal, it hurts. Every day hurts and I don't want to do it anymore because I just feel like I have nothing more to give. I'm empty and there's nothing else. And it hurts to try and fail and it hurts when people are mean, and it hurts when even the members fall through. Those things hurt. And then we watch this video where the kid goes "It hurts, coach!" and the coach answers "I know it hurts! Give me your best! Don't quit!" That's what I am learning here on my mission. Don't quit. Keep going. Even when you don't have anything else. Because when you've literally done all you can do, you're in the endzone.
I'm also learning a lot about mistakes. I have never been okay with making mistakes. It makes me so mad when mistakes are made. How horrible is that?? We are here and human and because of that we will make mistakes DAILY. And as long as we are trying and praying and consecrating our day to the Lord, He will make good out of any situation. He will make good out of my mistakes. I really am learning so much. And some days, let me tell you, I do not like it. I do not want to hurt and be uncomfortable and fail or any of that. Some days I just want to take a day. And relax. And stop. But that is not what I am here to do, and that is not what life is about. Life is about up and at 'em! One of our zone leaders (a poly, wouldn't you know?) always goes "Up and jumpin! Up and jumpin!" and I LOVE it. That is life. Two quotes I've always loved are "Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing." and "The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all."
So that's my life on a mission. This morning, we spent 2 hours cleaning out the house of a woman in our ward who is wayyy sick and has literally 25 cats. Half of which are full grown. 13 cats. Sick. I love you guys so much. I thank you SO much for your prayers and examples and letters. I owe my sanity to them some days haha. This is hard stuff. Some days I am blessed with an I can do it attitude. This is one of those days! I am grateful for it all. I am grateful for who I am becoming. I am grateful for the hard things, even though for me they are REALLY hard for some reason.
I really love you all though. You're the BEST. I have the best family and friends that there are. Ya'll are so rockin awesome :]
James, you asked a while ago about mission lingo. Well, I have some for you. We do say apostate, but it is more about Elders that are going to go home and "go apostate" meaning, they are just done-zo. "Cupcakin'" = wasting time, as in "Hurry up. Quit cupcakin' ". And when Elders are really serious about something they say "No jiving" I assume it means "no joking". Then there is the standard "pros' ". We don't really say ZL or DL very much. Any of those universal? Or are they just THE stuff? How is life? I would like some p90x still. Muchas gracias.
Jonny, how goes it? You are almost outta there in like 10 months! AHH! I am so excited for you. You are seriously going to be the BEST missionary in the world.
Mommy, I just love you. Thank you for the double letters this last week. I'll have you know, you were right. I did feel totally different in about 2 days. :] I'm still your daughter, freaking out all the time that I am going insane when really I'm just... normal haha. How are you doing? How is work? How is my dog? Is he getting lots of walkys now that it's cooler. Has it snowed yet??
Dad, I'm WAY excited for you to do the wedding! That will be so cool. How is everything at the new office? How is everything with the stake? You had some big things coming up, didn't you? Have any of those come to pass? I love you and I thought about you on your birthday.
SPEAKING OF BIRTHDAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! James. You are THE BEST big brother I have ever heard of. AND IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY THIS WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (which, consequently is my half birthday. Feel free to dedicate a slice of cake to me :]) But other than that I hope you soak up the entire 24 hours of the day for YOURSELF. You are awesome, and you deserve to have an awesome birthday! Want to date my mission president's daughter? She is gorgeous and single and 23 and living in provo. :] Yes. I hope you just celebrate the beck out of your birthday. And know that I love you so much and you are the best.
Well, time is running out. Guess who gets to go to the temple this week????!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! AHHHHH! I am freaking out. I am so excited. I LOVE THE TEMPLE. And I love all of you. Keep being good. I pray for you. I love you. Good night and good luck (haha, I am in SUCH a good mood today)
P.S. in other wedding news, is katherine goodell getting married soon??