How does one even start their last email as a missionary? I'm not really sure, but here I go! Ah, here we are. 18 months later. So many things are the same, but so many things have changed. And how grateful I am for the changes that have happened over the past year and a half! Not only do I know who my Savior is, but I know Him more deeply than I thought possible. I've come to know that He is real and that the Atonement isn't just an event that happened over two thousand years ago, but it's an event that can take place in our lives every single day. If you read my letters, you know that prayer has become something that is fiercely important to me. Every morning my heart is so full of gratitude. Gratitude to my Heavenly Father, my parents and family, and especially to my older brother, Jesus Christ. I reflect back on my mission and just sit in awe at how I was able to do some hard things. JESUS. That's how. I know that He lives. I've learned that all things are possible through Him.
There are a lot of things that I've learned on my mission. Ahh too many to list in this little email. While teaching seminary this morning, I realized how up until my mission my whole life has been about ME. Me, me, me... no wonder I was miserable sometimes. I've learned that the only way to be happy is by losing yourself in the gospel. I've learned to trust that God's plan for me is much more grand than anything that I could plan for myself. Boy, am I so thankful that He has it all under control because goodness knows that I sure do not about 90% of the time :)
I know that the family is the most important unit in Heavenly Father's plan. I know that families can be together forever. It's no longer just a primary song that I sing, but is a fundamental truth that is ingrained on my heart. I've met some amaazzzing families here in Wisconsin and I've learned so much from them. I've also been around a lot of families whose situation makes me heart broken. I have seen so many families that the world has destroyed, but I know that the gospel can heal them; I know that Christ can heal them.
Well this is super crazy and I'm so excited to share all that I have learned with you in a few days! Sad to say goodbye to this wonderful place, though. I love Wisconsin and all the members, missionaries, and people that I've met here. This has become such a sacred place to me. It's true that ending a mission is harder than starting one. There is just so much happiness here and I can say with all my heart that this is the best thing that I have ever done in my life. I know that this happiness will continue... maybe in different ways, but this mission and the Gospel of Jesus Christ will forever bless my life!!
CTR. Be good. Say your prayers. Can't wait to squeeze you in a few days! I LOVE YOU.
"Behold, I answer for you; for our brethren, the [Wisconsinites], were in darkness, yea, even in thedarkest abyss, but behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God!And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work". -Alma 26:3
JENNY. We went over to Jenny's last Monday night and it was so cool. She had little t.v. dinner trays set up for all of us, glasses of water, and she had a blank piece of paper and a pen for taking notes. Yes! Her home was so cute and the spirit was definitely there. The cherry on top was as we looked around her home just at pictures and whatnot we found a cute vinyl quote that said, "Lead me, guide me, walk beside me". WHATTTTTTTTTTT?!?!?! Hearts exploded. Jenny, do you know that you're already Mormon, but you just don't know it?! We shared with her the lyrics to "I am a Child of God" and she loved it. She had a lot of good questions about our beliefs and as we shared the message of the Restoration with her most of the were answered. At the end of our visit she opened up a lot to us and shared some really sacred, spiritual experiences that she's had. It was a neat moment. We are going to be seeing her again this Friday so stay tuned... :)
We had the yummiest dinner on Tuesday with the Slattebo's. Cayla and Chloe were there and it was just really great. Great food, great company, great lesson. We shared this new video from Elder Christofferson talking about being apart of the body of Christ. I have been a witness to so many people who feel like they are unwanted or unneeded in the church, but I can testify that that is bologna. Every one of us has a place in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We all come from different backgrounds and have our own life experiences and if God wanted us all to be the same He would have made us that way!
On Wednesday we had exchanges with the Hermanas! Hna Hixson came to GB2 with me and we had a blassst. It was so fun. We saw Taylor and Perry and it was rainy and cold, but we taught some people about the First Vision! Post-exchange we saw Cayla. Officially dropped her baptism date for now :( She's just going through a LOT right now. I'm so happy that she's getting the help she needs, though. She got a priesthood blessing last Sunday and she said that helped a little. She went to her dad's house this weekend to get away, so she didn't make it to church, but Sis Hansen and I get it. She's one tough chick. I love her so much.
We also spent a lot of time tracting this week. It was well needed and we met some suppaa cool cats. We had a lesson with a lesbian pastor, an old woman with alzheimers, a former investigator, and met many new investigators! Including ALEX. We're walking up her sidewalk thingy and we see this girl sitting in her doorway painting. Already love her. Then we find out she is 16 and totally knows a TON of youth from the ward. Including a girl named Charlie whom I also love. So we have an appointment to see her on Saturday. Hopefully Charlie will be able to come.
I'm just continuing to find joy in the work here. I love my Savior and my Father in Heaven. I know that the gospel is true. After ward conference yesterday we gathered as a ward council and the stake leaders to discuss what revelation we received and the spirit was so strong as we all went around the room testifying of the things that we felt. A lot of the conference was directed towards serving and helping the youth. There was one thing in particular that just kept coming back to my mind, and that was humility. It takes humility to love those that are different than you, to love differently than you do, to see others through the eyes of Christ, and to lift the lonely and the not-so-lonely. As we turn to Him in every moment, I know that we can obtain just a small portion of the humility He has. I'm grateful for the gifts that God is willing to give us if we ask.
Have a supaa rad week! I love you and pray for you on the daily! :) CTR and be good.
me and sister hansen in the eyes of a 4 year old
Ana and Elsa want to wish you a HAPPY HALLOWEEN. 🎃
Howdy, howdy! We learned about the origin of the word "howdy" this week, so I thought I would use it. It's been such a great week! Thank you for the birthday love <3 It was a magical day! The week began with a really slowww pday haha but it was all good. We had an awesome night beginning with the Wiesbeck's for dinner and ending with the Larson family for an FHE. The Larson's are SO GREAT. Super cool part member family. Their 9 year old daughter isn't a member and she's literally perfect. I'm pretty sure she has a deeper understanding of God than I do. She's so smart and just very spiritual for a 9 year old. We're really happy that they've been coming to church more. The parents have some concerns, but they're great and I really hope we can continue to work with them and see them progress. Our lesson was on the fruits of the spirit. We got a bunch of different fruits and had everyone close their eyes and eat them one by one and try to guess what they were. Then we also had garlic for them to try and obviously it was nasty compared to the fruit. The whole point was how we can discern the spirit and what we can do to achieve that! I'd say it was a success.
Tuesday was, like I said, MAGICAL. The day included tennis, breakfast, meeting such a prepared FAMILY, a bday call from President and Sister Williams, surprise district meeting lunch and party, cheese curds x2, getting a headquarter referral, Vanderheyden's for dinner, seeing Cayla, and many other wonderful things. Let me just expound on the cool family that we found! We turn onto a street to tract a little bit, cause what is a birthday without tracting? And we knock on this door, and we're standing there and clearly no one is home. Then we see a young couple pushing a stroller with the cuuuutesst little baby in it. S Hansen and I had the same thought to go talk to them, so we did! And the door we knocked on was actually theirs, so that was funny. So we introduce ourselves to them and Jenny's husband has to jet off to an appointment, but we get to know Jenny more and she's just so delightful. Very engaged in the conversation and so, so nice! We end up giving her a BoM and setting a return appointment. My heart! Such a great start to the morning. :)
We also were able to see Mai (Benson's mom) a couple times this week! The first time on Tuesday, which was really good. We talked about eternal families. Then the second time on Saturday b/c she invited us to eat some Hmong food at their shaman ritual thing. It was interesting and we saw a dead goat.
Thursday we braved the crowds at Lambeau field. Not theee most effective use of time, but we did meet a cute girl named Alli and took some fun pictures. So that was great. So sad that people spend so much money to go to a NFL game and then get absolutely wasted 20 minutes into it. We also had dinner at the Bishop's home and began our exchange with the Manitowoc sisters!
Friday I was in Manitowoc with Sister Wright!! She just came out this past transfer and is an absolute delight! She was so great and we just tracted our hearts out. It was freezzzzzing, but met some great people. Sister W is a really awesome missionary and has it wayy more figured out than I did at 6 weeks!
We had the ward trunk or treat on Saturday and that went really well. Lots of LA families came and it was so good!! Also apparently I left my brain in Manitowoc's car along with my bag on Friday when we exchanged back. Soooo Saturday morning we had to drive all the way to Manitowoc to retrieve it. Cool. But all is well now.
Sunday we had a few investigators come to church!! Cayla, Hallie, and Vicky! It was great. We also helped with crowd control in the primary for third hour. We got caramel corn.
I've been thinking and praying a lot about something that was said in DTM this past week. Elder Stokes was giving a training and shared how he had prayed that Heavenly Father would accept his offering that day, and he felt the response, "I hope you accept mine". Oooohhh. I've just been thinking how as I give my all each day, and hope that it's good enough, am I also turning to Christ to accept Him and what He's done for me? Just some food for thought.
Alrighty, well that was our week!! Hope you all have a fabulouuuusss week. CTR. Be good.
game night at lambeau field! the fences across from the field are just covered with cool packer pride signs.
happy 21st to me! my cute companion made me a yummy breakfast! <3
the 21 year old me and elder kelly - the elders made a bday meal for me and all 3 districts that meet at the GB building to celebrate! (oh hey, elder platero!)
comp love <3
on exchanges with sister wright from Idaho! this is her first transfer out and she's so stellar!
Well, well! Hello all my favorite people! This week has been suppaa rad. So good. On Monday a group of us missionaries went on a #hikeofdeath. It was a littttle sketch, but we made it. We're alive. It was really fun! I just love all the missionaries I've been able to become friends with here in Wisconsin. We went to the Cooks post-hike for dinner and Sister Cook made my favorite, breakfast food.
Tuesday we had our zone training meeting and it went really well! Sister Hansen and I gave a couple different trainings. One of being effective and efficient and another on being JOYFUL. The spirit was strong and all the missionaries in the zone had really great things to say. The zone leaders gave some awesome trainings as well. After ZTM, we got some Noodles & Co while we waited for the Marquette sisters to finish up their interviews with President. Then we went on blitzes! I must be theee luckiest sister to get to go on TWO blitzes with my baby, Sister Garner! She is just one of the most wonderful sisters I've ever been able to serve around. She and Sister Crandell are working miracles up in the UP! We had a full day, but unfortunately all our appointments fell through. We did get to see Cayla, though!! It was really good. We talked a lot about her baptism. The lesson began with her saying that she didn't want to get baptized, to her telling us she wants to keep working towards her date on the 6th. I just really need this McD's coffee special to go away so it won't be such a big deal. We committed her to read the Book of Mormon every single day. She said she would. I just know with all of my heart that if she reads daily she will find answers and will gain so much clarity and peace in her life!! Also she wants to start the hashtag #catslivesmatter 😹 On our way home guess who we saw riding his bike!? RICHARD. We gave him a call and ended up playing phone tag with him for a while. He never called us back after a while. Sad. But it was good to know that he's still doing well. I mean, as far as I could tell on a bike. When we got home we got a call from the Hmong elders saying that Benson (their recent convert) wanted us to go teach his mom!! We are super excited to start working with Mai Pa!!
Wednesday we finished our blitz and said goodbye to the Marquette sisters. We had interviews with President Williams. Which was fantastic. I just love the Williams so much! I feel so blessed to have been able to serve with two mission presidents! Both so lovely and both SO needed. God is so aware of us and I know He has called President Williams to this mission for a grand purpose! Later that evening we went to our downstairs neighbor's apartment for tea. Herbal, don't worry :) She is the cutest old woman. She's lived in the apartment complex for over 20 years and all the time that missionaries have lived there she's never talked to them about what we believe! So she invited us over and it was a really good meeting. She said that she would really love to come check out a church service, as well, so yay! We also had dinner with the Rau family out in Denmark. I almost killed bambi. Whoops. He made a narrow escape, so no worries. Then we headed further into town to see Mariah and Daylin. We had fun with an object lesson and all the kids. They requested "colors of the wind" be the closing song for the night. LOL. Probably won't ever have that happen again. They're cuties, though.
Thursday was death by weekly planning. Sooo that was great. Just kidding, it wasn't that bad. We were just going a littttle stir crazy by the end. We did go to a return appointment with a new investigator, Joshua! He's black. He is so sincere and so full of questions!! We were reading through the introduction of the BoM with him and in the middle of reading it he holds up the book and says, "THIS BOOK IS TRUE. You can feel it..." then holding it up to his nose flipping through the pages, "...you can SMELL it"! One hundred percent, Joshua, haha. For dinner Karlene, one of my absolute favorite YSA's, met us at the church building and fed us dinner! It was thhheee best. She's such a light to me and it was so fun to be reunited.
Friday consisted of froyo with Lilly, all-day mcgriddles, contacting a very loud, very drunk man (his daughter consoled us by giving us pina colada otter pops), going to Tammy and Selena's for dinner, phone tracting and "meeting" a way cool guy named Jarante who we referred to the Sheboygan sisters, and meeting with Shawna at the Moore's. Busy, busy day.
Saturday began with a call, mid-hair straightening, from the zone leaders. They explained that there was a family from the Spanish branch that was down in Chicago prepared to be sealed at noon, but they didn't have written consent from one of the kid's, Paco, birth mother. Since they were up in Escanaba on blitzes they asked us to go to her house, get the written consent, take a picture of it, then email it to the temple president. No big deal, just an eternal family on the line. So we went to the mom's house. We heard kids voices behind the apartment door, but after knocking probably 7 times still no answer. Her Muslim neighbor opened her door, though, asking for a mattress (??). Good times... so we called the ZL's to ask what we should do if she doesn't answer...yikes. We ended up writing a sticky note for her to call us ASAP. Before we left, though, the spirit was like "PRAY". An obvious solution, right!? So before I have time to close the prayer, we hear the doorknob jingle and the birth mom opens the door!! WHAT A MIRACLE OF HEAVEN. Our jaws were on the floor. Clearly Heavenly Father really wants me to understand that there is power in prayer!! We also had the stake relief society activity, dropped off the extra food at a shelter for victims of domestic violence, and met with Joshua (who was trippin' on something...) and a billion of his cute little cousins. We also were able to see Ashley!! She is back on her feet and we were able to read the scriptures with most of her kids AND her husband! Which was great b/c he has never been interested in hearing the lessons before. The day ended by getting my bday package from my cute family and a very kind letter from one of my favorite women on the planet, Karen! :) That made my heart so happy! Thanks for the bday love!
Well, kudos to you for making it to the end. WAIT. I forgot about Sunday? Haha, my brain sometimes. SUNDAY. Cayla came to church and stayed for all three hours! She loved it and gave the opening prayer in Relief Society! She was so nervous, but she did so great. I was so proud of her! We also had dinner at the Ballards, whose home is #straightouttapinterest It's beautiful! We made chicken sushi...yum. Before our appointment we had a few minutes so we ended up talking to their neighbor, Brian and his son, they weren't very interested, but it was good contact. We also contacted a way cool referral, Cory last night! She took the lessons when she lived in New Mexico. The spanish elders tracted into her and referred her to us. She works a ton so it will be hard to catch her at home, but she is way nice and so willing to hear our message! Biggest miracle of the day though, is that we went tracting during the Packer game (accidentally) and we lived to tell the tale!
Okay, well, NOW kudos to you for making it to the end. Hopefully you had some snacks or something while reading this. ;) I know that God is real and that He is so aware of us and our every need. I know Christ lives and loves us. I know that through Him we can repent and become clean every day of our lives. So grateful for the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation. Grateful for my family and friends. And especially grateful for the time I have to serve my God! Love you all and hope you have a wonderful week! CTR, y'all.
First district meeting of the transfer! Our district is so wonderful and we set some amazing transfer goals! It will be one heck of a transfer.
We saw our investigator, Suli. She's Hmong. The elders referred her to us b/c she's a single woman and they just thought we would be able to connect better with her. The first time we went over she was definitely not all there...if you know what I'm sayin'... BUT we went over again the next night and she was so cool! She's living by herself with her 3 year old daughter, who is officially our best friend. Her cousin, Benson, was baptized at the beginning of September. Suli has a lot of challenges that she needs to overcome, but she has a desire to change and to be baptized, so we're excited to keep working with her.
Met with Cayla and she expressed some concerns that she's been having. Her biggest hang up is the 3 kingdoms of glory and also coffee. UGH. Curse you, McDonald's pumpkin spice latte!! But it was actually really good to hear her concerns because now we can address them and she can continue to progress. She bailed on church, again. Which was sad. She's just so hot and cold. We're trying to help her understand that the gospel of Jesus Christ isn't a once a month kind of thing. It's a lifetime commitment to our Savior! Later in the week we went over to teach her about the Plan of Salvation, but we ended up having a really great discussion about personal revelation and spiritual gifts. It was funny because we were talking about spiritual gifts and Cayla was like, "sooo is there like a list of these spiritual gifts somewhere cause that would be great"! And Sister H and I looked at each other and said, "why yes, haha, yes there is"! So we flipped our BoMs to Moroni 10 and read about just some of the gifts that Heavenly Father can give to us.
Tried to meet with Ashley this week, but she texted us after many failed attempts at contacting her and said that she was in the hospital for an infection in her leg. Yikes! We wanted to go visit her and bring the elders to give her a priesthood blessing, but she never responded. :( So, hopefully everything is okay. We have been praying a lot for her to heal.
Met with the Hone family and had a great lesson with them on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sister Hone has to work every other weekend, so she wasn't going to be able to make it to church, but Brother Hone and their daughter came, which was awesome! Their daughter runs that family and hasn't been to church in a million years so it was great that she came with her dad!
The Moore's finallllyyyyy met with the Bishop of the Oneida ward and he told them that going to the 2nd ward was better than not going to church at all. SO YAY. Now they're going to come back to church. And Rilee and Shawna will come as well. Had a good lesson with Shawna this week. Rilee was at her dad's this week. But Shawna is doing good and is still excited to continue on the path towards baptism!!
Friday was MLC and it was amazzzzinggg. We talked a lot about JOY and having a Christlike companionship. I'm basically obsessed with Russell M. Nelson's talk from conference. So good. On our way home Sister H and I decided it would be a great idea to go get MAC AND CHEESE BITES from TOMS in Neenah, since we were passing through anyways. So we hopped on the freeway and I look to the car next to me and who do I see? WILL. Recent convert, Will?? YES. It was the weirdest tender mercy everrr. Haha, we tried yelling to back and forth while driving, but that didn't prove to be a very good idea. Sooo we just waved and drove off! Such a funny coincidence. After MLC all our appointments cancelled, so that was cool. Except our dinner appointment with Anna! She's a gem. She's a recent convert who just got moved into the 1st ward. But she fed us and we froze our fingers off at the park. It was a good time. We did talk to a lady named, Mary! She was SO COOL. She was like, "Yes! The Book of Mormon is sitting on my dresser with my Bible"! #wut So we set up a return appointment with her!
Saturday was BUSYYY. So many good things happened. Not enough time to write about them all. But one cool miracle is that we met with a gal named Katerina. She's an 18 year old LA Hmong girl and we had a super great lesson with her. We watched "Like a Broken Vessel" by Elder Holland and we all cried. The spirit was supaaa strong.
Sunday was exactly how it's suppose to be -- refreshing! I love General Conference, but how I needed the sacrament! It's amazing how you can actually feel a difference in your life. Oh how I needed it. In other news, we were calling a bunch of potential people in our phone and ended up talking to a guy named Bill who used to live in Wisconsin, but is now currently in Tennessee, but originally from Australia. So that was cool. We shared the First Vision with him and he told us about how he and his wife came to the US to be missionaries for their church. He was watching the Packer game so he had to go. Lame, but it was a good discussion.
Well. We are going hiking to a waterfall soooo I've gotta go! But I love you all and I hope you all have a wonderful week!! CTR and BE GOOD.
After teaching a lesson to some kids in the pouring rain.
Pretty flower in front of Grandma Ying Moua's house.
Eating a SPONGE CAKE. Basically steamed rice in a flower mold.
Hello my cute family and friends!! Wasn't General Conference incredible!? Ah, I loved it. We were able to watch all four sessions. One at the church building and the rest at different members' homes. We were fed spiritually and physically. May have gone into a sugar coma about halfway through the Saturday evening session, but all is well. We were supposed to watch a session with Cayla, but she said something came up and so it didn't happen. Which we were superrrr sad about. So, we were only able to see her once this week when Sister Carlini went to say goodbye. Lame :( The couple days before transfers were spent saying goodbye to many people/packing. Cause PLOT TWIST, not only were transfers crazy and I got a new companion, but we also had to move apartments. We moved into the Hmong elders' apartment. Now I'm really trying not to be complainy about this, but let me just give you a little description of what we found. Carpeted bathroom. Empty cupboards. Moldy Hmong food. I'll let you imagine the rest of it. You don't even want to know what was found before we moved in... But I'm happy to report that 5 days later it's coming along! I'm really gaining a testimony of having a "house of order". In other news, the transfer has begun and Sister Hansen is here with me. Yay! I love her and we're having theee best time together. We've already seen so many miracles.
We've been meeting with a former investigator, Ashley, for a few weeks now. We were finally able to meet with her when most of her kids were in school this past Thursday. Now you know I love kids, but it was really good to have a quieter environment to listen to and teach Ashley. It was really cool because when planning for her lesson in our companionship study, we decided on how to begin and what teaching points that we wanted to use. As soon as we said a prayer and what we had planned to say, she told us what was up. It was crazy. This was my fourth or fifth time meeting with her and every time I just felt like something was holding her back, and that something wasn't right. And seriously as we talked to her about how the gospel message will enable us to overcome weaknesses, she opened right up. I have been praying a lot about her and what will help her to overcome her weaknesses. Elder K. Brett Nattress' talk yesterday was seriously the biggest answer to my prayer. THE ATONEMENT. That's what. I loved when he told the story of his mother reading the Book of Mormon to his family every morning and the promised blessing that was given to her, that if she would read the scriptures to her children every day she would not lose any of them. Then she said with deep conviction, "And I will not lose you". I imagine that is how our Heavenly Father feels about each one of us. He doesn't want to lose any of us, and that is why He sent CHRIST. I know as soon as Ashley feels of His atoning power she will do whatever it takes to come back to Him.
CONFERENCE HOLY COW 🐄 It was so good. I don't even know where to begin. LOVED President Nelson's talk. One of my favorite, favorite scriptures! "Adam fell that men might be and men are that they might have JOY". He said, "The joy we have has little to do with our circumstances, and everything to do with the focus of our lives" (or something like that). I know that as we focus on Christ we will not be distracted by the sneaky ways of the world and that we will truly be JOYFUL.