Monday, December 28, 2015

Last One!!!

Dear fam and friends,

How do you sum up this whirlwind of emotions? Hmm.. I'm not quite sure. I guess I'll start by talking about what we did for Christmas...

Our Week of Christmas:
We had a wonderful week spreading Christmas cheer throughout Appleton, Menasha, and Neenah. We went around caroling and bringing good tidings of great joy in the form of copies of the Book of Mormon(: We also took around cookies and treats to those we're teaching. We were well taken care of by kind members in the Neenah ward and YSA branch. It was so fun to see the fam and get to talk on Christmas day(: Plus meeting Sister Hansen and Sister Dunlap's families was a blast(: We used the nativity coloring set you sent and had some great lessons about ways we can invite the Savior into our lives and how we can make room for Him this coming year. I'm so grateful for the birth and life of our dear Savior and I hope I can celebrate and show my gratitude for Him each and every day!

Oh rats, now comes the tough part... How do you sum up 18 months in a paragraph?!

Final Paragraph:
Talking about the waters of Mormon Alma wrote, 'how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to His praise forever' (Mosiah 18:30). These past 18 months the state of Wisconsin has become my 'waters of Mormon' as I have come to a greater knowledge of my Redeemer. My relationship with my Heavenly Father has been strengthened as I've prayed and truly spoken with Him. I've understood Him speaking to me as I have searched the scriptures. The Book of Mormon especially has been KEY in strengthening my faith in and understanding of the Savior and His infinite Atonement. Consistently reading the Book of Mormon has changed my heart and brought me closer to Him. I've come to understand that not only can I be healed and cleansed through the power of the Atonement, but I can be enabled - given the power to BECOME. Through the miracle of repentance I can progress and become a little better each day. This gives me hope. Hope that because I've seen this work in my life it can and will work in the lives of those around me! As my understanding and testimony of the Atonement has increased, my desire to share it has as well! I've come to love teaching the Restoration - that a young boy with a sincere question was answered by our loving Father in Heaven. I know our humble prayers can be answered, that Heavenly Father speaks directly to us through personal revelation. His Priesthood is on the earth again today. This is His church. I testify that Jesus is the Living Christ. How grateful I am for the opportunity I've had and will continue to have to testify of Him.

AH it is so hard to describe all the emotions we've experienced in our little trio the last few days, but what I can share is that I know Heavenly Father is so keenly aware of each and every one of us. I am so grateful for the angels He has put into my life to support me through this incredible adventure. I've been so blessed to have amazing people in my different areas, wonderful companions, and such supportive family and friends at home! I can't wait to see you and HUG you!!!!(: Thanks for being such great examples to me and for the encouragement! I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sister Kelley(:

Monday, December 21, 2015

Testifying of the Living Christ

Dear fam and friends,

Can you believe there are only 4 more days until Christmas?! Celebrating the birth, life, and perfect example of Jesus Christ is what Christmas is all about - and what missionary work is all about! I am so grateful for this opportunity to be a full-time witness of my Savior at this special time of year. I know He lives! I know that He leads His Church upon the earth today. I am so grateful for His loving concern for each person on earth and His willingness to suffer for our sins and support us in our trials, troubles, and afflictions. Words can't express the gratitude I feel for the gift of His marvelous Atonement. I know that the Book of Mormon has been given to the world to witness of Christ's Atonement and to help us know that His gospel and priesthood power are restored upon the earth. For the 12 days of Christmas we've made a special effort to give the Book of Mormon as a gift to all the families and young single adults we meet. We've seen some neat carol tracting miracles this week and have seen people's hearts be softened to accepting it!

Thanks for all the support and love! I hope this Christmas and always we can all help bring others to the Living Christ. "His way is the path to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son."

Merry Christmas! LOVE YOU!!!!!

Sister Kelley(:

Monday, December 14, 2015

Let it Snow...Please?

Dear fam and friends,
So I understand there was a huge snow storm back home?! What is this?! Wisconsin is experiencing the mildest winter they've seen in over 100 years! I'm still only wearing one pair of tights and it is DECEMBER!!! It has been raining nonstop for the last few days and everything is gray and muddy. I miss the snow. Sister Hansen has been praying every night for a white Christmas and Sister Dunlap has been expressing her gratitude for the warmth... haha(:

Appleton Zone Conference:
This week we had Zone Conference in Oshkosh - my very last one! It was such a good meeting. Sister Dunlap and I did our first and only training together. We taught about recognizing and addressing the concerns of those we teach. The assistants, zone leaders, and President and Sister Cutler all gave great trainings as well, but the highlight was the Christmas song medley we did! We sang (or some missionaries performed) all of the Christmas hymns and recited paragraphs of 'The Living Christ' between each hymn. It brought such a special spirit! Then I had the chance to give my departing testimony - I kept it together for the most part, but at the end we sang 'I Know the My Redeemer Lives' and I totally lost it. Ah the spirit was so strong!!!

Other Adventures:
We met this older lady who needed help vacuuming so we went over to her house this week and were able to spend some time helping her out and teaching her about forever families. Later in the week we scheduled back to back appointments at the church so we sat there for a few hours with people just coming to us to be taught - ha it was sweet, but we were happy to go out and walk around that night! We had a lesson with a less active and she brought her non-member friend!!! We got to teach the Restoration and answer questions.

Exchanges with Sheboygan:
Sister Koyle joined Sister Hansen and I here in Winnebago YSA for this exchange - it was a good time! We worked super hard and saw some sweet miracles. We got back in contact with this potential YSA named Alex. We had a great conversation with him and he accepted a Book of Mormon and wanted to read about the story of Alma the Younger. We also got this sweet referral for the Spanish elders and contacted a few of the referrals we had. Then later when we were driving this one house stuck out to us so we went back to knock it and met a Pastor and his family. We had a cool discussion with them and they accepted a Book of Mormon and invited us to their live nativity next week. Also Sister Koyle is stellar, she's going to be such an anchor for the mission.

Oh one last thing - we started going carol tracting and it is straight fire! People love it! And being in the trio makes it less awkward because 3 voices>>>2 voices. So yes. Success. We've been giving 'A Savior is Born' cards out like there's no tomorrow and so many 'gift' copies of the Book of Mormon! I am so grateful for this time to be serving as a full time missionary testifying of our loving Savior! As we rely on Him we won't make the difference, but we will BE the difference in the lives of those around us! We can truly be instruments in our Heavenly Father's hands at this time of the year and always(:

LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!
Sister Kelley(:
Isaiah 55:12
Receiving a package from home!

Feeling the love!

Sister Koyle and I, she's stellar!

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Sound of the Water Running in the Church

Dear fam and friends,

Wow this weekend. WOW. That is all I can say. Ahh it was the craziest, most spiritually filling weekend ever. So many good things! Heavenly Father is SO SO SO keenly aware of each of us. It is so humbling!

The Trifecta:
Everything for transfers went smoothly this week. We picked up Sister Dunlap in Oshkosh and have managed to fit all her stuff into the apartment with ours! I was honestly a little nervous for the trio just because it is something I haven't experienced and I've heard a few horror stories, but it is so great. We all get along super well and get work done! Teaching is the trickiest part - just figuring out how to involve everyone and not talk over each other, but we are getting a lot better at it. We have already seen some super cool miracles together! Sister Dunlap is from Reno, Nevada and she's a twin! Also she is half Filipino so I have one half Filipino companion and one half Swedish companion! Then there's me... full American? Ha but yeah Sister Dunlap is one of the kindest, sweetest, and most powerful missionaries I have met! I love serving with her and Sister Hansen!

Cassandra's Baptism:
Ah I just can't explain everything that happened this week! There was so much opposition leading up to Cassandra's baptism, it was unreal. It seemed like everything that could go wrong did and yet everything came together on Saturday afternoon for one of the most spiritually uplifting baptisms I've attended. I know that is because of Cassandra's preparation and her righteous desires. It was amazing to see the physical change in her countenance as she came up out of the water. She kept saying how she felt so free and light, that all the heaviness in her heart was gone and that she was at peace. Her confirmation yesterday was equally beauitful and afterwards she couldn't stop smiling(: The branch totally embraced her and supported her through this trying week. I am so grateful for each of them and the many sacrifices they make to help lift each other. At the beginning of the baptism a few of the recent converts shared their testimonies and the spirit engulfed everyone there - like wow. So strong. I am so grateful for the ordinance of baptism for the covenant we can make and the blessings of the Father. He is over all. He hears and answers our prayers and carries us through!

Hope you all got a chance to watch the 1st Presidency Christmas Devo - we are listening to Christmas music non-stop and talking with everyone about the 'A Savior Is Born Video.' How grateful I am that our Savior was born! LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!

Sister Kelley(:
Isaiah 53
Something random - so funny!

It all came together!

Our "Trifecta" and Cassandra

Me and Cassandra, she couldn't stop smiling!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear fam and friends,

Oh rats we really have no time to write today! Things have been crazy busy, but good news! We found out about transfers and Sister Hansen and I will be staying together(: We are both super excited about that and happy to keep working with the YSAs here. We are actually being put into a trio so Sister Dunlap will be transferred here to be an STL with me and we'll all get to work together for the next 4 weeks until I go home. I don't know anything about trios, but it should be an adventure!

Our Thanksgiving Adventures:
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, we were so well taken care of. We played football in the morning with the Neenah ward and got a few less actives and potential investigators to come! We had a turkey bowl tournament and then just tossed the football around saying things we're grateful for, it was a blast. We ate lunch at the Richards with our investigator George - we shared a message and used Alma 26:37 which I LOVE! Sister Richards made a pecan pie which was divine(: Then later we had a dinner appointment with the Graves. They took us and the Neenah Elders out to Golden Corral! I was totally stuffed by that point. At the restaruant we ran into some other members and had a fun time talking with them. Plus the Graves brought one of their son's friends (their son is currently serving a mission) with them so we got to get to know him and share a message! We then stopped in to see a less active and eat some pumpkin bars(: Then a final stop in for a lesson with the Stoehrs. We made gratitude turkeys with their little girls, sooo cute(: Anyway it was a great day - I am so grateful for the many blessings I have been given and how mindful Heavenly Father is of me! I am grateful for His divine plan, it truly is a plan for our happiness! I am grateful for the restoration, for a living prophet, and the power of the priesthood. I am grateful for the scriptures and the peace they bring - grateful I can speak to my Heavenly Father in prayer and receive personal guidance and direction. I am so grateful for such a wonderful family, for the support you are to me. I am grateful to be a missionary in Wisconsin!!!!!!!!!!!!!! God is good(:

Well that is really all I have time for, but we had a great exchange with the Appleton sisters and are getting things ready for Cassandra's baptism this week! Hope you all have a wonderful week! Thanks for the package and letters! LOVE YOU!!!!!!!

Sister Kelley(:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Parking Ticket

Dear fam and friends,

I don't think I've ever driven so much in my life... Ha we spent a TON of time in the car this week, but despite the time we spent driving and the time we spent in meetings, we still got a ton of good work done!

Exchange in Fond du Lac:
So we started off the week with an exchange in Fond du Lac. I spent the day with Sister Jenson down there while Sister Passey came up here to be with Sister Hansen. Sister Jenson reminds me a ton of Sister Schlosser. Though she's only been out for 11 weeks she is incredibly bold! We got in with a former to teach the first discussion and we extended a powerful baptismal invite. We also street contacted into this super cute YSA who has recently been looking for truth. We shared a copy of the Book of Mormon with her and got her info to follow up. I really hope the sisters can begin teaching her!

Mission Leadership Council in Milwaukee:
After exchanging back with the Fond du Lac sisters we had a couple appointments and then hit the road again, this time heading to Milwaukee. We stayed overnight with Sisters Gross and Smeltzer in Milwaukee 1. Unfortunately we parked where we weren't supposed to... and now owe $10 to the city of Milwaukee.... UGHH. Ha and driving in Milwaukee was a JOKE! We left early the next morning to drive to the Milwaukee South Stake Center, but the traffic was so bad we were almost late for Mission Leadership Council! thankfully we arrived just in time and were able to go into the meeting with everyone else(: As always it was fun to see everyone, especially Sister Escobar and hear from President and Sister Cutler. Elder and Sister Schwitzer of the 70 joined us as well and Elder Schwitzer shared an inspiring training! A few fav insights include...
- 'repentance is a form of restoration'
- 'repentance is the key to gaining a testimony and receiving eternal life'
- 'don't invite out of duty, invite out of love'
- 'you can be the vehicle whereby miracles come to pass'
- 'we are fishers of men and members are the best fish finders'
- '3 P's of revelation: persue the facts, ponder the solution, pray for confirmation'

Contacting in West Bend:
Since we were down in Milwaukee we decided to use our miles effectively and spend the day contacting in West Bend which is part of our area we don't get to very much. It was fun because we figured out a YSA I used to work with in Green Bay had moved to West Bend so we went to visit her and her Grandparents.

Mission Tour in Green Bay:
The day after MLC we had Mission Tour in Green Bay with the Appleton, Wausau, and Green Bay zones! I got to see Sisters Payne and Schlosser again which was super fun! Plus a bunch of other mission friends. We got to hear from Elder and Sister Schwitzer and President and Sister Cutler and the APs. It was a great meeting - made us super pumped about our mission goal for the end of the year! I especially loved the special sister meeting Sister Schwitzer did in the morning. Again some of my fav insights:
- 'be really good at being you'
- 'the spirit doesn't dwell in a mess'
- 'don't forget to sing! Especially at Christmas time'
- 'You come from good stock. Hold you head up, pull your shoulders back. You can do hard things!'
- 'convert don't convince'
- 'once you invite a person to repent, you invite yourself to help'

Stake Conference in Appleton:
The day before Stake conference President Kindt called and asked if I would speak. Ha so I got to speak in Stake Conference with President and Sister Cutler! So that was fun! I was a little nervous, but it all came together and turned out well. I used the classic lighthouse story with hymn #335 and talked about what members can do to invite their friends. It was a good stake conference. Some of my fav insights include:
- 'conversion has no beginning and no end'
- 'the Sabbath day is not my day, it is the Lord's'
- 'life has a way of humbling you'
- 'part of the natural man is the natural mind'
- 'peace is less a reward and more an attribute'

Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving this week! I am so grateful to be a missionary(: I'm grateful for each of you and incredibly grateful for the knowledge of this gospel! I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father and for His Son. I LOVE YOU!!!

Sister Kelley(:

Monday, November 16, 2015

Is Not Easily Provoked...

Dear fam and friends,

This week has been good. Crazy, but good. I am loving the mission-wide study we are doing right now of 'The Living Christ.' Every week we are memorizing a new paragraph and studying a Christ-like attribute that corresponds with the paragraph. We're a couple paragraphs in and will end the last week of December. So this past week we were memorizing the second paragraph and studying charity. I love how charity is defined in the Bible dictionary as 'the highest, noblest, purest form of love' and the classic Moroni 7 'charity suffereth long...' Sister Hansen and I had a bunch of great comp study conversations about it and our catch phrase for the week was 'is not easily provoked' because a ton of unfortunate, annoying stuff happened, but we kept our cool or at least tried to(:

Sheboygan Exchange:
Ah so the exchange with Sheboygan almost didn't happen because of the craziness going on, but I am so glad it all worked out because it was such a good exchange. I was with Sister Carlini again and Sister Hansen went to Sheboygan with Sister Koyle. I absolutely love these sisters! Sister Carlini and I have been going on exchanges together since the beginning of her mission (7 months ago!) so I have been able to see her grow a TON! She is such a sweetheart and we got some solid work done while we were together. We took a less active with us to visit another less active and they both totally needed the lesson we taught and after the lesson they came with us to have a Book of Mormon read with a recent convert and later to see our investigator Cassandra - ha everyone was getting into the missionary spirit, it was so fun!

Pre-Thanksgiving Potluck:
Mmm we had this wonderful Thanksgiving dinner potluck with the branch after church yesterday. The food was great plus Cassandra was there and she brought a friend! His name is Danny. He was actually baptized into the church with his family when he was younger, but hasn't been to church in a long time. The YSAs did such a great job fellowshipping him and he said he'd be there again next week!

This is the Lord's Work:
AH so I know this is the Lord's work, but really THIS IS THE LORD'S WORK! We had this cool miracle happen where we really felt like we had a small glimpse of Heavenly Father's plan for this area. It is super neat because this revelation has been received by us, President Cutler, President Munson, and the Appleton Stake President - all these pieces coming together just showing that the Lord is working with and inspiring each of us to do the work He wants done with the Winnebago YSA branch. I am so grateful to be here and be a part of it! There is so much growth to be had here, I can just feel it!!!

Jaclyn's Referral:
So a couple weeks ago Jaclyn gave me this referral of her great Uncle Johnny and Aunt Teddy. They live pretty out of the way so we hadn't had time to contact them, but this week we had an appointment near their house so we dropped by to visit with them too! They were hesitant to talk with us at first, but when I explained that I had grown up with Jaclyn they got so excited and told us all about their family! They pulled out old pictures of Jeff and we looked through them and talked about families being together forever. It was awesome! Ha Johnny and Teddy are such good people! They agreed to let us come over one more time for a Christmas message in December(:

DVD Miracle:
Last night we had this sweet miracle showing the member involvement DVD. I don't think I've mentioned the DVD too much, but it's something President Cutler has been pushing in the mission for a few months now. It's a 10 minute video of some recent converts sharing their conversion stories and how the gospel has blessed them. President has asked that we show it twice a week to members and less actives in all the units in the mission. Honestly it's super cheesy, but we always end up having a great discussion about our personal conversion and we're able to ask for referrals. We had only showed it once for last week when our appointment cancelled last night): BUT we followed a prompting to check up on this less active YSA and his Mom in Appleton and THEY WERE HOME! We got in with them and were able to show the DVD and have a great lesson. Josh committed to coming to church next week too! We were pumped! It is humbling to see the blessings come for following the counsel of your priesthood leaders - even when at first you are a little hesitant because the DVD is so cheesy...(:

In other news... We're having toilet problems again. UGHHH.

That's all I have time for! Hope you have a wonderful week(: Celebrate lots for the anniversary Mom and Dad! Thanks for being such great examples(: I am so grateful for each of you and for the support you are to me! I am incredibly grateful for my Savior, for His example and atoning sacrifice. I love being a missionary, I love Wisconsin, I love this work and of course, I LOVE YOU!

Sister Kelley(:
1 Nephi 16:29
Sister Hansen and I
Sister Carlini and I
Us with Cherie:)
Sister Hansen and I with Uncle Johnny!
Fun pics of Jeff and Joni that Uncle Johnny & Aunt Teddy shared:)
Awww, so cute!