Wednesday, December 17, 2014

If you're curious what I'm doing with my life now that the black nametag is off, you can find out at my blog-

There and Back Again

I've been home from my mission for a week now. It has been a wonderful week. I've loved being able to see family and friends, and my dog, and be home. It's been good. It's also been a little hard, and a little sad. I can't believe I'm not a missionary anymore. I miss it.
What I'm realizing now is how much my mission has prepared me for the rest of my life. I've learned so much during the last 18 months, and I've developed so many good habits, and it's been really cool to see how my missionary self can fit into my "normal life", although I'm still definitely adjusting and learning to make myself fit in here again.
Before I left on my mission, my mission prep teacher gave us some really good advice. She suggested that when we get to the end of our mission, we take a minute and think about the things that we know now that we didn't know before. During my last personal study on my mission I did that, and I'd like to share some of what I learned.

  • Missionary work is all about following the spirit. If you don't listen to the spirit, you will never succeed. If you do listen to the spirit, you will always succeed. 
  • Make decisions with the big picture in mind, think about what's best in the long-term, not just immediately. 
  • We can have hope even in hopeless circumstances because of Jesus Christ. 
  • Life is about learning to make the best of less than perfect circumstances. 
  • The gospel is for everyone, and any point in their lives. Living the gospel is always the right thing to do. 
  • To be a sister means to love unconditionally, to always see the good, to forgive quickly. 
  • Never postpone a prompting. 
  • If you want something, make it happen. 
  • Being clean means we clean up our mistakes quickly. 
  • Miracles don't always have picture perfect happy endings, and it takes effort to make miracles happen. 
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not the only good church in the world, but it is the only true church. 
  • As we use the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we will become so much more than we though we were ever capable of becoming. 
And then this was the biggest thing I learned, the theme of my mission. 

Trust in the Lord. 

His plan is better than my plan. His timing is better than my timing. His way is better than my way. His measure of success is better than my measure of success. 

I will always and forever love South Carolina, and always and forever be a missionary. The restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and it has made all the difference in my life. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to dedicate 18 months of my life to sharing it. 

To everyone who wrote me, prayed for me, fed me, served with me, and in any other way helped me, thank you so much. I couldn't have done it without all the support I had. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Best and Worst of Times

This is a really hard email to write. I can't believe it's my last one. This week has been so incredible and so sweet and also so hard. But everything has worked out so well. We were able to say goodbye to everyone we wanted to, which is a miracle all in itself since we had so many people to see. And everyone has been so wonderful to us, and said so many kind things. And Mom was right, saying goodbye makes it easier to leave. With each goodbye I've felt a little more closure. 

It's hard to leave because there's so many good things that are about to happen in the next month in this area. But, my work here is done. And it's been so sweet how many members and other people have told us that they're not going to forget us, because I think that's the thing that I fear the most right now, being forgotten and forgetting my mission. I want to move forward, but I don't want to forget these people and my experiences I've had. This ward is such a special ward, and in a lot of ways I feel like I'm leaving home all over again. I guess the best way for me to make sure I won't forget my mission is to apply the things I've learned when I go home. It's been amazing how the people here have prepared me to come home. I've had so many good examples of faithful families to help me recognize what I want my home to be like.

The best part of the week was going to the temple with our member. It was a wonderful day. It was just us, her, and her escort. Her husband came as well, and waited outside for us. She was so happy; we all were. It was great to be in the temple after so long, and it really helped me remember that that's what this is all about. The fullness of the gospel is found in the temple. It's amazing how the temple completes everything else that the gospel and the church does for us. I'm definitely excited to be able to go to the temple more often, and especially to eventually come back someday and see them sealed in the temple. I know it will happen.

Sunday was really special. The fast and testimony meeting was really powerful, and there were several people who mentioned how much they appreciated the sister missionaries. Needless to say, I cried a lot. Saturday night we found out that they'll be replacing us with elders instead of sisters, and it was funny and also sweet that when we told that to people they all expressed a bit of disappointment and sadness to be losing sisters. We definitely know that we're going to be missed. It was so hard to say goodbye to people after church, especially two of our sisters. We've gotten so close to both of them.

After church we went to say goodbye to one of our less active members. She doesn't come to church because of health challenges. She said exactly what I needed to hear, telling us how we had made her life happier and that she wasn't going to forget us. What she said really helped me to feel that I have accomplished enough on my mission. We've brought light into people's lives, and strengthened their testimonies. And that is enough.

I'm excited to see y'all soon. Hopefully I'll be able to fit everything in my suitcases:) Thank you for all the sweet emails. I also got a wonderful letter from Grandma Terry this week, and that really helped me a lot too. I love you all, and I'll see you soon!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Stop and Think

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Actually, a couple great Thanksgivings. On Wednesday we had dinner with a family; there was a lot of good food, and it was fun to be with their family. The Elgin sisters spent the night at our apartment on Wednesday night, since we were all going to a service project together the next morning. We had a lot of fun together. It's nice to have sisters in our district so we have someone else to talk to. 

We got up early on Thursday and went to a Methodist church and helped put together dinners for elderly and shut-ins. It was a lot of fun, and we made some good friends with the other people who were volunteering. One of the girls took a picture with us and put it on Facebook, so when I get back I'll be able to show it to y'all. After that, we had dinner with the person we had planned, and her daughter surprised us by coming down from Virginia. We had a lot of good food, and the pumpkin pies we had made turned out very well, so we had a good day.

We also spent a lot of time this week updating our records and the map of our area. We want the missionaries coming after us to know what's going on. We don't know yet if they're going to have sisters to replace us, or another set of elders, or if there's just going to be one set of missionaries. It will be interesting to find that out.

Telling people this is our last week has been very effective at getting us appointments with everyone. So we're going to be very busy this week. I hope we can get to everyone that we want to say goodbye to.

One of our returning less active members who I love is hopefully going to go through the temple this Friday, and President Turner gave us permission to go with her! We're so excited for her. We're just waiting for her to get her temple clothes and then everything will be set. We went over there this week, and she was so excited to show us her temple recommend. 

She said something that really made me stop and think. As she was showing it to us, she said, "I didn't think I would ever have one of these." When she said that it really made me stop and think and ask myself if I think of having a temple recommend as a privilege. It made me think about how much I take the blessings of the gospel for granted sometimes. Being able to have a temple recommend is such an accomplishment and such a blessing. I am grateful to have a temple recommend.

Yesterday at church was so wonderful. Bishop asked Sister Torino and me to bear our testimonies. And as I was standing up there, looking out at everyone, I realized that this ward feels so much like my home, bearing my testimony was like being at my mission farewell all over again. Everyone here is so wonderful, and I love them all so much. I'm going to miss this ward a lot.

I'm excited to see y'all soon. It's crazy to think I only have one email left. It's a good time to come home, since I'll have so many opportunities to see people at Christmas gatherings.

I hope you all have a great week, thanks for all the prayers and letters.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Time and Study and Teaching

November 24, 2014

It's been a good week. We continue to face the normal, predictable problems of not being able to stay in very frequent contact with people. It's an annoying pattern. We'll have a really good lesson with someone, schedule a return appointment, and then for whatever reason they'll have to cancel, and then we won't be able to get another appointment.

But other than that problem, we've had a very good week. We were finally able to teach some people that we've been trying to teach for a long time. One was a family I met my very first day in the area. We finally sat down with the mom and briefly went over the Restoration with her. They aren't really interested in considering changing churches, but were interested in learning more so we'll probably go by there again soon. The other was a woman that the sisters have been trying to teach since before I got here. We've gone by plenty of times, and she's been reading the Book of Mormon a lot, but never had time to talk with us. We finally sat down with her and had a good discussion, hopefully we'll see her again tonight.

I think the most interesting lesson this week was one with a lady we met about a month ago. Our first visit with her was very interesting, and at some points was on the verge of being contentious, although neither of us meant for it to be that way, we were just having a hard time understanding each other. There were moments when the Spirit was in the first lesson, but for the most part I felt like we were debating rather than discussing the gospel. She asked us some questions that we didn't have very good answers for (where could we find Joseph Smith in the Bible and about Lehi's lineage), so we promised to research them and come back with better answers. When we went back, the feeling in the lesson was entirely different. The Spirit was there the whole time. Ideas that had been major stumbling blocks for her before we were now able to explain clearly. 

We had put a lot of time and study into her questions, and she really appreciated it. Her question about Joseph Smith I studied a lot. I knew that I wasn't going to find his name spelled out in the Bible, but there were some more subtle references I found. But the most valuable thing I learned from what I studied was how to better explain Joseph Smith's role to people. So many people down here think we worship Joseph Smith, and when we try to explain that it was through Joseph Smith that Christ brought back the truth, they either think we're saying that Joseph Smith had to finish Christ's work because Christ couldn't or that Joseph Smith introduced a different gospel than the one Christ taught. It really confuses them and puts them off. But as I studied for her lesson, I realized that we could explain that Joseph Smith had the same purpose as John the Baptist- John came before Jesus Christ to prepare the people to receive Him, and Joseph Smith did the same thing. Explaining it that way made the Restoration much clearer to her.
I think the difference in this lesson was that we had a mutual respect for each other, and she had really warmed up to the things we had shared with her, and we were more firm in what we believe. We were really bold with her, and instead of turning her off or offending her our boldness is what helped her to feel the Spirit. When we ended the lesson, she had committed to come to church in the next couple weeks and to read the Book of Mormon. I love how God can soften hearts, and how as people open their hearts the Spirit helps them to understand.

These next couple weeks are going to be really busy for us. We've got a lot of people to teach, as well as Thanksgiving. We're having two Thanksgivings, one on Wednesday and then the following day with Patty. We've gotten a couple other invitations to dinners, so we may go to a couple on Thursday.

I love y'all, thank you for all the letters and encouragement. I'm looking forward to seeing you soon. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Good Plans

I wish you could hear the thunder and the rain outside right now. The rain is pounding down and the thunder is booming. I think that's one of the things I'm going to miss most about the South, is the rainstorms. They make the ones in Utah seem pretty weak.

We have had a good week here, and it looks like we're going to be really busy this week as well. I'm glad, because it makes it easier to stay focused. Whenever we don't have a whole lot going on it makes it really easy to start thinking about how close December 10 is.  

We went on an exchange this week. Sister Earl came to Camden with me, and we had a lot of fun together. We had a lot of appointments, including teaching our Book of Mormon class. We had a good amount of people there and we got into a really good discussion. The topic was patience. After that we were able to see a part member family we taught a lot, but hadn't seen in a couple months. Since we've seen them the nonmember has finished the Book of Mormon. She loved it and wants us to start studying it more with her, so that she can understand it better.

One of the things that I've admired about all the missionaries I've served with who were about to end their missions was their determination to keep improving to the end. I've been trying to have that same attitude this transfer. And it's amazing how God is helping me to have opportunities to check my progress. And I'm seeing that I am still improving and there's still things I can work on. It reminds me of something Sister Titus said the last week of her mission, "We're never really done. And it's never too late to be the best missionary you can be." I love that the gospel is all about eternal progression and striving for perfection.

We also had a really good lesson with another part-member family this week. We taught them at his grandma's house, who is a very strong member of the church. We talked about who God is and our relationship with Him. Both of them said they feel like their relationship with God isn't as strong as they'd like it to be, so we committed them to pray together every day. I think they're starting to realize how much being a part of the church and living the gospel is going to help them, and help their family. We're seeing them tonight, and hopefully we'll help them get to the point where they'll be willing to come to church.

We're going to have Thanksgiving with one of our less active members. She didn't really have plans and we hadn't had anyone sign up for Thanksgiving yet, so we decided it would be fun to have Thanksgiving with her, and she's really excited about it. So we should have fun.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pretty Amazing Week

We've had a pretty amazing week. Tuesday evening we had an appointment with a part-member family. He is the member, but he's been less active for a long time. We showed up for our appointment, and as we were knocking on the door, they pulled up in their car. They had forgotten we were coming, and weren't in the best of moods, but they let us come in. We weren't sure how much time they'd give us, so we taught her the Restoration pretty quickly. We asked her if she had any questions, which she didn't, but then she asked him if he had anything he wanted to say. And then he really opened up, and told us all about why he wasn't active in the church, but that he still had a testimony. He said he knew what he needed to change, but for some reason he just hadn't yet. So we made plans to start teaching them at his grandma's house. We're still trying to pin down a date that works for everyone, but we're really excited to start teaching them. It was an amazing lesson. At first, the feeling in the house wasn't very peaceful, but then the Spirit came in, and it was amazing how quickly the feeling in the room transformed. They couldn't stop telling us how happy they were that we'd stopped by.

The other really amazing thing that happened this week happened on Sunday. We were sitting in Sunday school, which is right across the hall from the bishop's office. We saw a man come into the church, and heard him and bishop talking, then bishop pulled us out of class and introduced us to him. He's from Egypt, and he was looking for a church to start attending with his family. He stayed for the rest of church, and loved it. All the guys in the elders quorum were so excited to tell us about how much he'd liked the lesson. We're going to go over on Saturday morning and teach him. We've already had at least three people offer to come teach him with us. It's great to see the members of the ward so excited to get involved.

This Sunday was also really fun because the ward had a missionary come home, who served in the Dominican Republic. It was kind of interesting to be at a missionary homecoming a month before my own. The whole ward was so excited to have him back. He gave a good talk, although you could tell that he was kind of struggling to speak in English.

So, we're excited that we've had a little more success finding new people to teach this week. This next week is going to be pretty busy, with an exchange and a lot of other things going on.

We also had a ZTM this week, and it was a really good meeting. It was good to see some of the other missionaries in the zone, especially to talk with some of the other sisters who are going home with me. I'm starting to get a little sad at the thought of leaving. I'm excited to come home, but I'm not excited to leave my mission. I know these next few weeks are going to go by really fast. And since my travel itinerary came in the mail on Saturday, my departure is starting to feel more real. So, the last transfer is proving to be a bit of a roller coaster, but I kind of figured it would be. It's hard to avoid when I have a lot to look forward to, but also a lot I'm going to miss. I'm going to do my best to take Mom's advice and just treat this like any normal transfer.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

No Transfer

October 27, 2014

So the transfer news is, no one is being transferred. Sister Torino and I are staying together till the end. We were both pretty surprised about that, since in the past Temple Square sisters have only been in an area for one transfer, but Sister Torino is really excited she's staying. And I'm glad I'll have more time with her as well. 

Although, this means that both of us will leave the area in December, so we're kind of feeling like they're going to close the area when we leave. Since so many sister missionaries are going home and not as many are coming out, they've already had to shut down a couple of areas. And we've both been getting the impression lately that we need to focus on getting our investigators and less active members friends in the ward, so they're not dependent on the missionaries. After the transfer news, those promptings make a little more sense. So that's what we're going to work on this transfer. 

It was a fun week. I had a really good birthday. We were on an exchange with the Sister Training Leaders, so I went to Windsor Lake for a day. While I was gone the other sisters decorated our apartment with balloons and streamers. 

Your package also arrived that morning, along with Grandma and Grandpa Terry's, and the card from the Relief Society. I loved all the presents, and thanks for the cake ingredients, we'll be making it soon. I made a cheesecake for the first time and it actually turned out really well. We took it to Book of Mormon class that night and everyone enjoyed it. 

Other than that the week was pretty normal. We have a lot of people who are planning on coming to church next Sunday, so this week should be really good. It's going to be busy, which is always more fun. 

I'll be able to sign up for classes next week, which is pretty crazy, but I'm excited about it. Overall, I'm excited to come home. But I will definitely miss South Carolina. I love this place and I love these people, and I love being a missionary. I'm so glad I got this experience. This has been the best thing I've ever done. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week, I love you all! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Birthday Coming Up

Thank you all for the wonderful emails. All of them seemed to be particularly good and full of love this week, so much so that they almost made me cry. I don't know if it's just the fact that it's my birthday, or just that I finally am starting to realize that I only have 8 more emails till I see y'all again. I don't know how this transfer has gone by so fast. I'm kind of glad that I was so oblivious to how fast the time was passing. 

Being companions with a Temple Square sister has been so fun and distracting that it's kept me from getting trunky. But all the letters and emails I got this week reminded me how many good things are waiting for me when I get home. But I'm still glad I have a good while left here in South Carolina! We just have such an awesome ward with so many amazing members. I love them all so much. My life is so good. I feel very blessed this week.
State Fair Sisters

We had a really interesting and different experience this week. On Tuesday afternoon as we were walking down the street this guy sitting on his porch called us over. We started talking to him and his wife, at first the wife wasn't interested but the longer we were there and the more we talked the more they liked us. They're a fun couple; they're from the Bronx, and moved down here a few months ago. They go to a Methodist church, but were open to talking with us. We set up an appointment to go back, and during the lesson she invited us to their church. Since it started an hour before ours we said we'd go to a little bit. 

So on Sunday morning we went to Unity Methodist church. It was a lot of fun, and very interesting. We stuck out like sore thumbs though. It's not a very big church, and I was the only white person in there. And the whole congregation sang us a "Welcome Visitors song". It was an interesting experience. But they were so excited that we actually came. He told us to just name a date, and they'll come to our church. And he said they're bringing a whole crew with them. I'm excited for that. And then all throughout that day we kept bumping into people from that church, which is amazing because like I said it wasn't a big congregation.

Other than that our week was pretty uneventful, but still good. We were able to at least contact more of our investigators and less active members. And hopefully we'll be able to get more people to church next week. Lately I've been feeling this really strong impression that we need to make sure that all these people we're teaching have good friends in the church, especially the less active members. The last thing I want to do is cause a person to become totally dependent on the missionaries for fellowship and encouragement. I really feel that we need to make sure these people have someone in church that will look out for them, notice if they don't make it one Sunday, offer to sit by them,  and that these people would feel comfortable turning to with questions and concerns, instead of just relying on the missionaries for those things. So I think we're going to work a lot on that this week.

I love y'all, thanks for all the birthday wishes, I'm looking forward to it. 21 seems like a good age.

Have a great week!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Slow Progress

It's been a pretty slow week here. It seems like all of our investigators have either decided they're not interested in learning about the gospel anymore, or they've been too busy to meet. I think that's been the biggest problem on my mission, is actually being able to schedule a time to sit down with people. We meet lots of people who say they're interested in talking with us, but we can never pin down a time to see them, so we just keep stopping by hoping to catch them at a good time, and that never happens. I guess that means those people aren't really interested, because the things that people care about they make time for. It seems like the things that matter most to people around here is doctor's appointments. People never miss those. Someday meeting with missionaries is going to be more important than a doctor's appointment, that will be a great day :)

We have been starting to teach the guy we taught last week in between conference sessions on Sunday. We taught him a couple lessons, and he's really started to open up more to us and talk more. And the most amazing thing is, he was there for both of our appointments! That's a miracle all in itself. We taught him about the restoration and the plan of salvation, and he seemed to believe most of it. He said he'd be baptized, but he doesn't want to come to church. So I think this week we'll teach him about why church is so important. He's in his early twenties, and he says he knows he needs to make changes in his life, or he'll be probably be dead in five years. So obviously he's got some things to work through, but he seems to be genuinely interested and willing to change. 

We also met a lot with one of our less actives. She came to church this week and at the last minute we invited her to a member's fireside and she came. She's funny, but there's a lot about the church's doctrine that we need to teach her. She just likes to talk so much that we really only get about a verse in each time we go over to teach her. But I think the thing that's going to be most important with her is getting members of the ward involved, so then she won't be attached to just missionaries. 

We're going to the state fair today, so that will be fun. I'm sure I'll have lots of pictures next week. 

I love y'all and I hope you have a great week! 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Good Week, Really Good Weekend

It's been a pretty good week and a really good weekend. I loved general conference! All of the talks were so good. And I loved having the speakers speak in their native language. The church is such a global organization and it was really cool to see more of that diversity. It's so funny though, General Conference always makes me a little homesick, just because I miss watching it with all y'all at Grandma's house. I'm excited that I get to do that next conference.

Tuesday we had our ZTM, which at the last minute was moved to Columbia, instead of Windsor Lake, and that building is a maze! It's three stories, and has all of these staircases and doors. We got lost a couple times trying to find our way around. The meeting was really good, the focus was on studying better, planning better, and finding better. I feel like those are the exact things we need to work on in our area to get things moving and so we got lots of good ideas to apply. 

What it really comes down to is just doing what it says in Preach My Gospel. Everything we need to be successful missionaries is in there. But somehow we have a tendency to look to other sources for ideas, or I know I sometimes make the mistake of thinking I know everything in there, so I don't have to study it all the time anymore. But Preach My Gospel is a lot like the scriptures, you can get something new from it every time you read it.

We also had interviews with our mission president Tuesday, and it was good to talk to him some more. The Turners are really great, and I like them a lot. They're definitely very different from the Holms in the way they do things, but their love for us and for the gospel is the same.

After interviews Sister Christensen, one of the Elgin sisters, really wanted to go to Cookout, which is a Southern hamburger place with really good shakes. Well, when we got there, we saw that there was a Panda Express right across the street. I didn't know they even had those in South Carolina. We were all very excited, so we got our Cookout shakes and then went to Panda. It was good. We kind of regretted eating so much, because we had dinner with a member about two hours later and we were still stuffed. We didn't eat very much and I think the member was a little disappointed. I love her. She's a returning less active member, and she feeds us every week. She just started temple prep classes, and I'm so excited for her.

One of the main focuses at the zone meeting was finding new investigators. That's something that Sister Torino and I have been focusing on as well, because we need to find more people to teach. But throughout this week we didn't have much success. 

Sunday came around, and we hadn't found any new investigators yet. But we were able to teach a potential investigator, who opened up a lot to us and was genuinely excited to read the Book of Mormon. So that was one new investigator. And then at 8:30 at night we stopped by a former investigators' house, and were able to teach all four of the people living there, so by the end of Sunday we had five new investigators.

It was really cool that after a long week, that was kind of unproductive because of all the meetings, we were still able to see success in the area that we were trying to improve.

I love you all, and I hope you have a wonderful week!

Sister Mathias, Sister Rudy, Sister Wheelock and Sister Torino

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Sister Winsor Homecoming

We loved being able to attend Sister Winsor's homecoming talk in sacrament meeting.  She emphasized how small and simple things can contribute to mission service and to living the gospel.

Super Crazy Week

It has been a super crazy week. So much has happened, I can barely keep up with it. The first crazy thing that happened was we had 21 people at our Book of Mormon class on Wednesday night! Normally, there's only about 5 people. But this week everyone came. A couple other members from the ward showed up and then our elders brought four of their investigators. And we were all crammed in a tiny Primary classroom.  It was really cool. We had a great lesson and everyone seemed to love it.

Then Thursday morning we had another adventure- a flat tire. Don't worry this one went much better than the last flat tire I had. We called Elder Larson and he told us where to go to get it fixed, and we were able to put enough air in the tire to get us to the shop, so we didn't have to put the spare on. And the people who fixed it were very nice, and got it done quickly, so we weren't stuck there all day.

But the coolest thing that happened this week was we found an amazing family to teach. We were walking down this dirt road in the middle of nowhere, and we saw a teenage girl outside her trailer. We talked with her and she invited us to come back and talk with her parents the next day. We went back and talked with the mom. Apparently, she stumbled across BYUtv and loves it! She would watch it all the time, and so she's already seen general conference and knew a lot about the church. She told us she'd found out awhile ago that there was a church in Camden and had been wanting to go for a long time. 

We invited them, and they told us they would come. Sunday morning came, and sacrament meeting started and they weren't there. Sister Torino especially was really disappointed. But then, right after the opening prayer, Sister Torino poked me and said really excitedly, "They're here!" They stayed for all three hours and loved it. And they're planning to come back next week for general conference. We went over after church and talked with the wife for awhile. She is so prepared to receive the gospel. She asked us what happens after we die, and when we told her she said, "You know, I must have been born a Mormon and didn't know it, because I've always believed that but no one has ever taught me that." Everything we talked about just made her so excited. But she really wants her family to be united in whatever they do, so her husband is going to be the key to getting that family into the church. He's the one who's had a hard time with churches in the past, but he seemed to really like our church. So we're really excited about them.

Also, Brother Nelson was released as our ward mission leader on Sunday. That really surprised all of us, Brother Nelson included. He's only been the ward mission leader since the beginning of the year. But our new ward mission leader is Brother Prows. We've met with him and his wife before, they're really nice so it should be good. I'll miss being able to have dinner with the Nelsons; they're the cutest little family.

We're looking forward to another great week here, we've got a lot of good things happening in the ward; it's really exciting. Thanks for all the letters and emails. I love y'all, have a great week!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sister Torino and Farewells

So, my new companion is Sister Torino from the Philippines! She's very nice and we're getting along great. It was a pretty crazy and exciting transfer. Since the Temple Square sisters didn't get in until after transfer meeting, I stayed down in Columbia with the other sister who was getting a Temple Square missionary. We found out at transfers that the two sisters were from Germany and the other from the Philippines, so that was pretty exciting.

Then after transfers we went to the airport to pick them up. That was really strange, to be in the airport. After the sisters arrived we went out knocking on some doors in the Columbia area. We randomly decided who would go with whom, and I ended up with Sister Torino. We ended up in downtown Columbia that night. She was a little nervous to be knocking on doors for the first time, but she did a great job. Her English is really good, although she has a bit of an accent. It's cool though, because since she has an accent it makes people listen to her more intently, since they have to concentrate to understand what she's saying. We stayed the night at one of the senior couples' apartments. We were all exhausted. This whole week has been exhausting. 

The next morning we went to the mission office so President Turner could meet the new sisters and assign us our companions. He couldn't do it the day before because he was with the departing missionaries. President talked with me and Sister Wheelock, the other SCCM sister, first. He actually asked us who we wanted to be our companion. That surprised us, we both didn't feel very qualified to pick our own companion. Neither of us had any feelings one way or the other, so President interviewed both the temple square sisters and decided to have Sister Torino be my companion, and Sister Mathias go with Sister Wheelock.

Oh, and other crazy news from transfers, Sister Bell got put back with Sister Eames as companions. Sister Eames was her companion after I left her. So apparently being put back with old companions runs in the family.

It's really strange to have Sister Boyson and Sister Winsor be home. They both handled it really well. Tuesday was a pretty emotional day though. I think it finally hit Sister Boyson that she was leaving for good. But it was an awesome day; we taught some really good lessons and got to see a lot of the members that meant a lot to Sister Boyson, so it was a really good day. And then at transfers Sister Boyson and I sang her song, and that went really well. I miss her, but I'm glad to have Sister Torino now.

Camden district, Sept. 3

Sisters Boyson and Rudy at Finley park

Sisters Rudy, Winsor, and Boyson

Sister Torino is a convert to the church, her family joined when she was 11. But then her family went inactive for a long time. She started going back with a friend, and then when she decided to go on a mission, her parents started going back to church. She's also a really good cook, so I've gotten to try a lot of Philippino food lately. It's good. It's also been cool to hear about what the Temple Square mission is like; it sounds pretty crazy and busy.

It should be a very fun transfer. We're working hard to find more people to teach and to help the people we're already teaching to make some progress. We're definitely learning patience. I hope y'all have a good week. I love you!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Great Thing

So the transfer news is... I'm staying in Camden! And the really exciting part is who my new companion is going to be. I'm getting a sister from the Temple Square mission. For a few months of their mission they leave Temple Square and go out to a regular mission, and so I'm getting one of those sisters. She won't get here till later on Wednesday so I get to hang out in Irmo all day Wednesday; we'll spend the night with one of the senior couples there and then come back to Camden Thursday afternoon. I'm really excited about it. I don't know her name or where she's from, so that will be exciting to find out.

Sister Boyson is down to her last few days. For the most part she's really excited to go home and see her family, but after just about every lesson this week she made a comment along the lines of "Being a missionary is the best thing ever. This is so much fun." She's been reflecting a lot on what her mission has been like, and it's been interesting to hear her stories and hear her think back on if she was successful and if she did enough. 

I think all missionaries have a tendency to think that they should have done more, that they could have had more success, especially since this mission isn't exactly a high baptizing mission. I think it's easy for us to look back and to feel like in 18 months surely we could have done more, all the successes and the miracles look pretty meager. But what Sister Boyson and I have talked about a lot this past week is how life isn't like an Ensign article. Very rarely does everything fall into place and result in people choosing to make changes in their lives. 

We've talked about how we've both seen a lot of miracles, but most of the miracles never resulted in a baptism or a reactivation. And so we tend to think that those miracles don't "count", like it's not a real miracle unless it has a perfect happy ending. And that's a silly thing to think. All those miracles that we've seen are really amazing and worth talking about, even though the happy ending we all want hasn't quite happened yet. In some cases I don't think we'll see the happy ending till the very end, when we're able to stand before God and account for our mission, and see what a profound effect we actually did have. 

That's what I love about missions, is that the effects of my mission won't end when I go home. It will really continue forever. After all, I'm on a mission as a result of Mom's mission, and Dad's missionaries, and the missionaries way back who converted the first Terry and Smith relatives, and everyone in between who may never have actually been a full-time missionary but who decided to live the gospel, and those who reached out to family who strayed. 

I'm here because Grandpa Terry went on a mission, and because Grandma made the decision to marry someone who could marry her in the temple. It's amazing to think that my mission will have a similar effect on my family and all the people I've talked to while I've been in South Carolina. Missions really are amazing.

I'm really going to miss Sister Boyson. We've had a lot of fun together, as you can tell from the amount of quotes I have from her; she's hilarious. It's crazy to think that I'll be able to see her in a few months from now, at my homecoming. Last Monday we got together with almost all the missionaries in the zone and played ultimate Frisbee at a park in downtown Columbia. It was so fun, and it made me think about something that Dad emailed me about last week, about how important it is to have friends who are men and women of God. I've made a lot of those friends on my mission, and I can already tell that's going to be a big help to me later on in my life.

The big miracle this week was that a less active member we've been working with came to church! It was the best thing ever to see his home teacher spot him in the chapel and come over and talk to him. He was very surprised to see him; everyone was. And his wife was so happy to have him with her; it was just a great thing to have him there.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Good Week, Though

I honestly can't remember much of what happened this week. It was a good week though. A couple of people came to Book of Mormon class and church again. And Book of Mormon class was kind of amusing. One of them has a lot of questions and can be kind of unpredictable in what she'll say. Plus she doesn't like that the Book of Mormon is written with all the thees and thous, so she comments on that a lot. The Elgin elders were teaching the class, and I don't think they knew quite how to handle her. It was entertaining to watch. It was still a good class, and she said she learned a lot from it. 

We had a really good lesson with the family we've been teaching at a member family's house. They used to be neighbors, and the Brother knows a lot about the scriptures so it was a great lesson. We taught them about the plan of salvation, and I think it filled in a lot of holes for them. The pre-earth life was a new idea for them. It's amazing to me that a lot of people just don't think about where they came from, it had never occurred to them that they could have existed before they were born. The restored gospel just gives us so much more knowledge and understanding. They are definitely thinking hard about everything we've been teaching them. They're still not sure if it's all true, but they're praying about it. And the son said that he thinks it could be true. The only problem is going to be their current church. They're really involved, and it would be hard for them to leave. But I think if they get an answer then they would. 

It's Sister Boyson's last full week as a missionary, it's pretty crazy. It's funny, yesterday at the beginning of church we only had one person signed up to feed us this week, but then we told everyone Sister Boyson was about to go home and now we have a meal every day until she leaves. I think we're going to have a busy week. Sister Boyson is much more emotionally calm than I think I'll be when I'm in her place. I hope we have a really good week; I think we will. Cool miracles always happen at the end of a transfer right before someone leaves. 

It's been raining a lot here lately, and not just rain but lightening too. There've been a couple times where we've had to just sit in our car for a little bit until things calmed down. Somehow we always end up way out in the country with nothing to do but knock in those rainstorms. I think Heavenly Father is trying to teach me diligence; we're certainly getting lots of opportunities to develop the ability to work hard when working hard is the last thing I want to do. It's been good though, I feel like I'm getting better at doing tough things. 

I hope y'all have a great week, thanks for writing me; it's always great to hear how everyone is doing at home. I love you! 

Monday, September 1, 2014


It's been a good week. We're starting to see a lot of progress from some of our less active members. We saw two on Tuesday, and they love to talk. We were there for about an hour and a half, so we kind of got their life story and more of their conversion stories and why they stopped coming to church. They're great ladies; I like them a lot. We invited them to Book of Mormon class and they came! It was great, the topic was on happiness and they both participated a lot. And then they came to church on Sunday. They're planning to come to Book of Mormon class and church from now on. It's like the easiest reactivation ever. We still have to help with some Word of Wisdom issues as well. But all they really needed was an invitation. Hopefully we can get them some friends in the ward. 

We had our first zone conference with President and Sister Turner on Wednesday and it was really great. It was good to see President and Sister Turner again, since we hadn't seen them in over a month. We talked a lot about setting goals, and we set new goals for how many baptisms we want to get in the next year. It was a really good discussion and I think we all feel pretty good about our goals. I've learned a lot about the importance of setting good goals on my mission. We need to stretch ourselves to do better, but we also need to be realistic. I think our new goals are a good mix of realistic and stretching to improve. 

Sister Boyson and I have felt like we need to look for more opportunities to give service, so we started praying for ideas. On our way to the library one day, which is right across the street from our apartment, we noticed that the park by our apartment had a lot of trash on the ground, so we decided we'd just go clean it up after lunch. We did, and it didn't take long at all, but the park looked a lot better after that.

We got another opportunity to serve that night when we went to see another less active member who recently moved in. We brought an RM, a sister, who just moved into the ward. As soon as we got out of the car, the member asked us if we'd mind helping her rake some of the leaves in her backyard, so we all grabbed a rake and went at it. There was a lot to do, so we worked on that for about an hour. The RM even grabbed the lawn mower and started mowing her grass, in her skirt. She's awesome. We had a good time. The member we were visiting told us she was going to come to church on Sunday, but she didn't show up. But she called us this morning and told us she'd tried to come, but had gotten lost. We gave her better directions and she promised to try again next week. 

We had another amazing lesson on Friday with the member I mentioned last week. It's amazing how when you just give someone a chapter to read from the Book of Mormon and then discuss it with them, it works really well.  It's obvious that the Spirit is working on him. We talked about the sacrament and what taking the sacrament does for us. He told us that he's really starting to understand the gospel and all his excuses about why he can't come to church are just melting away. They were sick this weekend, so they couldn't come to church, but hopefully they'll be here next week. 

We were also able to get back in contact with a family. We just stopped by their house Saturday evening to try and set up an appointment with them. They were in the middle of a football game, but they invited us in to have peach cobbler and ice cream and then we ended up going through the study questions with the parents, and it was a really good lesson. We set up to teach them again on Friday at a member's house. 

Our missionary Sunday went really well. I feel like I was able to express what I wanted to in my talk, which was that missionary work isn't about going out and doing these big grand things, it's about following the spirit and sharing our experiences with the restored gospel. And the third hour presentation also went really well. Everyone in the ward loved Sister Boyson's song. I hope it all helped people feel more confident about missionary work. 

I can't believe it's already September and Sister Boyson only has two and a half weeks left. This transfer has gone by so fast. I'm going to miss Sister Boyson; we've had a lot of fun together. Because of the Ogden temple dedication, fast Sunday, and general conference, Sister Boyson isn't going to give her homecoming talk until October 12. It's crazy because that's also the day her brother will be giving his farewell talk. He's going to Jacksonville Florida October 15. Sister Boyson is super excited about it. I'll make sure and talk to Sister Winsor and find out the details on her homecoming at transfers. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week! I love you! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Another Good Week

It's been a good week. Every week goes by so fast, I feel like I just wrote y'all three days ago. But a lot of good things happened this week. We had an awesome exchange on Tuesday with our sister training leaders. Sister Earl, who came out with Sister Bell, came here to Camden with me. We had a little time before our first appointment so we decided to knock on some trailers. We randomly picked one to start on, and the lady invited us right in. It turns out she's a less active member, and her daughter who lives with her is a member as well. They joined the church awhile ago up in Maryland. They're very northern and very funny. Hopefully we can get them coming back to church again. They still have testimonies, just have got away from living the gospel. I love it when Heavenly Father guides us to people in that way, even people who've already accepted the gospel once and need to find it again.

We also had ward council on the exchange. I have to say, I love going to ward council in this ward because the leaders are hilarious. So it's always an entertaining experience. And I also am so grateful that I have this opportunity to see what goes on in running the church. I've definitely gained a greater appreciation for all my church leaders seeing how much work it actually takes to keep the church going. And I feel like I'll be much more prepared to serve well in callings after my mission because I've been able to see such great examples on my mission.

Lately we've been spending a lot of time getting ready for the 5th Sunday next week. It's going to be a missionary Sunday, so I'm speaking in sacrament along with one of the elders and our ward mission leader. And then during third hour one of the senior missionaries serving in the stake is going to give a presentation on member missionary work. He's been coming to our ward coordination meetings so we can get ready for it. Sister Boyson and I are going to sing a missionary song she wrote, so we've been practicing that a lot. And Elder Ferguson wants us to demonstrate to members how to talk to their friends as part of his presentation, so we've been practicing different scenarios to present.

We had a really amazing lesson with one of our less active members on Friday night. The wife has recently been coming back to church, but her husband has kept giving us excuses, the biggest one being that he doesn't have a suit. From talking to ward members, he's always kind of given excuses and never shown much interest in coming back. But we left him a chapter to read in the Book of Mormon and he read it, so we discussed it on Friday. It was an amazing discussion, and at the end he said he'd gotten some impressions and answers that he'd been looking for for a long time. On Sunday, his wife came up and told us he'd gotten himself a suit, so hopefully he'll be at church next Sunday.

We had stake conference this weekend. It was really good. On Saturday night we went to the evening session in Columbia, and then Sunday they broadcast it to our building in Camden. About halfway through we lost the signal, and they couldn't get it back. So the young women volunteered to do a musical number, and then both bishoprics bore their testimonies for the rest of the time. It ended up being a good meeting.

Thanks for all the emails and letters; I always appreciate it. I love you, have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Busier Today, Busier Tomorrow

The beginning of this week was full of cancelled appointments. We had a lot of appointments set up with people that we were really looking forward to, and then an hour or two beforehand they'd call and cancel, or we'd show up and no one would be there. It was actually pretty frustrating, especially the last part, when we'd show up and no one would be there. That happens a lot to us.   

We came to the conclusion that a lot of our investigators just really aren't interested in changing. They want to learn, and they're fine with us coming over, but they're not doing anything with what we're giving them. We're doing all the work, and that doesn't lead to conversion. So we've had to drop a few people this week.  We had a good talk with one on Thursday, about whether she was willing to consider joining the church, and basically the answer she gave us was that she's had too many changes in her life in the past couple years to consider more change right now. It was sad to reach that conclusion with her, but the member we've brought with us to the lessons said she'd keep in contact with her, so it's not like we're cutting all ties.

Because we had so many people fall through and because we dropped some people that we saw on a regular basis we had more time to find through our own efforts this week, which means knocking. I haven't had to spend a lot of knocking since I left Moncks Corner, and I have to admit that I tend to have a pessimistic attitude about knocking. I think of it as a time filler, not as an effective way to spread the gospel. We do find people to teach through knocking, but more often than not those people just turn into leads that we try a million times to catch, but it's never a good time for them to actually sit down and talk. 

And my whole mission I've worried that we'll run out of things to do, run out of houses to knock, or end up knocking all day every day, so I've tended to drag my feet, to try and find anything else we can do before going tracting. But the other day when I was thinking about it I realized that the busier we are today, the busier we'll be tomorrow. As we show the Lord that we trust Him enough to try our very best and to work our very hardest, then He's going to help us. We've definitely seen that this week, because we actually did end up finding quite a few new people to teach.

Saturday afternoon we went to check on a lead, a man who knew some members of the ward. We'd stopped by lots of times before but had never been able to sit down with them because the wife was always at work. This had been going on for months, but this time we finally decided we were just going to go through the Restoration pamphlet with the dad on the porch. We did and at the end he told us that he'd been having some concerns about things that were happening at his church, and that he'd been feeling like it may be time for his family to find a new church. We invited him to pray about what we'd shared, and ask God if he should find a new church. He did and then said "I know what I need to do. Our church is small and needs everybody it can get, but I have to do what's best for my family, and I think it's time for us to leave." We were both pretty excited and surprised because normally when we invite people to pray they don't get an immediate answer like that. We set up to come back the next day and teach the whole family. Luckily this family live right down the road from a family in the ward, so we brought the husband and wife with us to the appointment and it went really well. They haven't committed to be baptized yet, but they're thinking about it and said they'd try coming to church. 

So even though the week started off really rough, it ended pretty well and I'm feeling much more optimistic about how things are going here. We're really being blessed and while everything isn't happening in our timing, we are seeing God bless us as we do our best. I'm grateful to be a missionary; it's the best calling in the world.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Good Week

We've had a good week. One of our members had a friend that she wanted us to teach, so we went over and taught her the first lesson on Wednesday. Her friend's a very nice lady. She's a horse trainer for the King of Dubai, who has a stable for his Arabian stallions here. Have I mentioned that Camden is a major horse place? There's lots of very talented people in that profession here. Anyway, she is really a golden contact. She'd already read the first three chapters of the Book of Mormon before we even met her, and she was so easy to teach. The only thing that may make it hard to teach her is her schedule, which is super busy, and she feels like she needs to read the whole Book of Mormon before she can decide if she should be baptized. But I think as long as we're able to keep teaching her on a consistent schedule things will go really well. We're going to teach her the quit smoking lesson this Wednesday. She's already basically quit; we just need to help her with that last little bit.

We were also able to finally teach this really amazing guy. We originally met his wife a couple of months ago, but could never catch her to teach her again. When we met him, we set up a time to come back, but then he called us the day before and told us his wife had just left him.  So we kind of had to wait till things settled down a little, but we taught him the Restoration in about ten minutes on his porch the other day, and it was one of the best lessons of my mission. He understood everything we were saying so clearly, and he agreed to get baptized once he gets the spiritual confirmation that this is all true. So we're really excited about him.

It's interesting how we can be going along throughout the week and feel like nothing good is happening and we're not getting anything accomplished. But then when I write these emails or talk about how things are going with members I realize that we actually are doing a lot of good and good things are happening. Progress in missionary work is always a lot slower than I think it should be. I am definitely learning patience on my mission, and how to work hard for a long time without seeing any results.

All our other investigators have been getting better at reading their scriptures, but none of them are doing much beyond that. We're trying to figure out how to help people come to church. Somehow that is the most difficult thing in the world for people.

The members here have been feeding us and giving us so much food lately, so we're having a cookout with the other sisters in our district today. Sister Boyson is really excited because one of her trainees, Sister Christensen, just transferred into the district. So I think we're going to have a lot of fun.

I'm glad to hear about Elder Rudy, and how he's settling in. Sounds like he's pretty busy, which is good. It's great to have another missionary in the family.

Monday, August 4, 2014

No News Is Good News

So the transfer news is... I'm not being transferred! And neither is Sister Boyson! So at the end of this transfer I will "kill" her, in missionary terms, since she's going home. It's going to be really interesting, I've never had a companion who was about to go home. So it will be interesting to watch that whole process.  But that's still six weeks away, so for now we're just focusing on all of the amazing things that are starting to happen in this ward.

Sister Boyson and I have been continuing to try and work with members. Sister Boyson found this great article about member missionary work, I'm sending it to y'all because it's a great article. One of the sections talks about the importance of setting a deadline. We shared that part with some of our members, when they were taking us to an appointment with a recent convert. The article quotes Elder Ballard, who says that if we will prayerfully set a date to find someone for the missionaries to teach, and then do everything we can to make it happen that the Lord will provide someone for us. 

So we shared that with the members, and they agreed to give it a try.  She came up to us before sacrament on Sunday and told us that she'd tried it and it had worked! She decided that she was going to invite someone to come to church by Friday. She invited her daughter, who isn't a member of the church, and her daughter agreed to come. We were so excited for her; we got to talk to her daughter, and she was really nice, so hopefully something will come of that. 

We also had quite a few other members tell us that they'd prayed to have missionary experiences, and that they'd had some that week. And then we got a call last night from a member telling us that she wants us to teach her neighbor, who she said is "golden". She's already set up the appointment for Wednesday, so we're really excited about that. It's amazing, it hasn't even been a month since we got those blessings from Bishop and already we're seeing so much change. I know that's because we've been doing our best to follow the guidance God has given us, and although we haven't been perfect He's blessing us for trying our hardest.

I've also been very blessed to have really kind district leaders, who care more about how we're doing and if we're loving our missions than about how many lessons we taught that week.

We've got lots of fun things happening this transfer, I think we're going to have a lot of fun and see a lot of success. I love how there's always something I can work on and some way I can improve. No matter how long I've been a missionary I can always be a better missionary in some way. I'm grateful that Heavenly Father always gives me new challenges and new opportunities to grow.

I hope you all have a wonderful week. I love you!

Comp reunion at zone conference

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Good Week

It's been a good week. Although it's been a lot hotter and more humid lately. We were starting to think that we were going to get away with a nice, mild summer, but apparently not.

It's good to hear that Elder Rudy is doing well, and I was particularly excited to hear about the sisters in his district. I hope I'll be able to meet them. Transfer calls are next week, so I'll know next Monday if I'm staying or going. It's kind of an interesting situation, since I've only been here 2 transfers, but Sister Boyson is leaving next transfer. So if we stay together another transfer, then I would probably stay in the area when she goes home. And then I'd only have one more transfer, so I'd probably just stay till the end of my mission. So I kind of feel like this transfer will determine if I stay here for the rest of my mission or not. Unless something crazy happens, like when Sister Boyson goes home I leave as well, and I feel like crazy stuff tends to happen pretty frequently, so we'll just have to see.

We had a good week. I went on an exchange, which was fun. We did some service for a less active member, helping her clean up her craft room. She had a lot of stuff, that room was crammed full. And most of it was cute, useful stuff, but there was just so much. This lady is one of those people who never throws anything away, and always has about ten projects going on at once. So it was quite a task, but we got a lot done and it was pretty fun.

We had a lot of people who committed to come to church this week, but only one of them actually made it. I can't remember if I've talked about her before, but she's a very sweet old black lady that Sister Winsor and I knocked into awhile ago. We've taught her a few times and she understands what we're teaching her, just has a hard time believing that the Savior would only have one church. But she came and stayed all three hours yesterday and seemed to really enjoy it. We were teaching the Young Women lesson, so we didn't get a chance after church to talk to her about what she thought, but I think she had a good experience. Everyone was very friendly.

Sister Boyson and I sang a duet in sacrament meeting, "Because I Have Been Given Much." It went really well. I was a little nervous about it, since I was singing alto, and we did it without accompaniment, but we've been practicing all week and everyone told us afterward that they loved it.

We've really been trying to get involved with the ward and the members in as many ways as possible, and it's really making a difference.  As we're spending more time with members and getting more involved and asking how we can help the members are becoming more missionary minded. It's especially made a big difference with the ward council. We now have assignments from almost every auxiliary. So we are going to be running to get everything done this week. It's exciting. It's a lot more fun to be a busy missionary than to have to find things to do all the time.

I hope everyone has a good week; thanks for all the emails and pictures. It's always good to hear about how everyone is doing. I love y'all! Have a blessed day :)

Sno Cones at the Ward 24th of July Breakfast !?!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Camden Sisters

We've had a really good, interesting week. We had interviews with President Turner on Wednesday. It was pretty different from interviews with President Holm, but it was good. Sister Turner was there, sitting out with the missionaries who were waiting to be interviewed so we got to talk to her for a bit while we waited. She's funny. When we ran out of things to talk about she started playing church trivia with us, looking up random statistics and asking us questions about how many stakes and temples there were in certain countries. And it was good to talk with President Turner for a little bit, it was mostly a getting to know each other interview. He's very nice, and was very interested to hear about Mom being an English professor, because he was an English major at BYU.

One of our investigators is getting closer to being ready for baptism. In our last lesson she shared with us about her concerns about leaving her church. It was good to talk about because we weren't sure if she understood that's what we were asking her to do, but she totally gets it, now she just has to decide if what we've taught her is true and worth leaving her church for. 

Since we now teach lesson 5 before baptism, which is all the laws and ordinances of the gospel, we decided to teach her about eternal marriage. It was an absolutely amazing lesson. She lost her husband about a year ago and so the lesson was really meaningful to her. And we had a member with us who bore a wonderful testimony about what the temple means to her. The Spirit was so strong in that lesson, it was really sweet. I know that she felt the spirit telling her that what we were sharing was true. 

It was the perfect thing to teach because it helped her to see that there was more that we wanted for her than just to get baptized and become a part of our church. I mean, it's great to be a part of the Savior's church and to learn all the correct doctrine, but all that is really just a means to help us get to the end goal our Heavenly Father has for us, which is to be a part of an eternal family. I love that we know how that can happen, that there is an actual place and an authority we can go to to receive those blessings. And as we told her about that, it was like eternity unfolded in front of us.  I have never felt so close to heaven as I did in that lesson.

We had another really interesting experience that helped me recognize some of the other blessings of being a member of the church. On Saturday night we had an appointment to teach one of our recent converts who lives at the very top of our area, about an hour away. A member had agreed to take us. I guess she had never seen a GPS before, because she was really amazed at Sister Boyson's, at how it would show you exactly where to go and how long till you reached your destination and how fast you were going and all that good stuff. 

Since the member was getting ready to teach a lesson on the gift of the Holy Ghost in Relief Society the next day, she mentioned that the GPS was like having the gift of the Holy Ghost. And it's really true, you constantly know where you are, where you're going and how to get there. Well, we got to their house just fine and had a great lesson with them. But then as we were leaving their house at about 8:15, we hadn't even made out of the driveway when the GPS died. And all of the sudden we were out in the middle of the country, with no idea how to get home and it was getting dark. We could have asked them for directions but we felt pretty confident that we could find our way back on our own. 

And it was really interesting as we went along, because now we were really being guided by the Holy Ghost. And each of us would remember different things along the way that would help us know when to turn, and that we were on the right road. It was a much more stressful ride than the first one, we didn't really have time to talk or enjoy the beautiful country around us, because we had to be completely focused on where we were going and finding the right roads. As I thought about it, I realized that our ride home must be what it's like to not have the gift of the Holy Ghost. We knew our end destination but we had no idea how to get there, and so we had to rely on occasional landmarks and street signs to help us know where to go. And the only reason we could see those landmarks and signs was because of the sunlight, which is like the light of Christ, which every person on the earth has. It was much nicer to have the GPS, there was a lot less worry and a lot less stress, and a lot more time to just enjoy the ride. So I'm grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost, which helps me to have so much more peace and guidance in my life.

Sisters at the Camden courthouse

At the local stockade

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