Monday, July 28, 2014

Bugs, Bars and Bingo

Dear Family and Friends,

Week two in the Wisconsin Rapids area went by pretty quickly! Sister Christiansen and I are always meeting with investigators, less actives, and recent converts so there is never a dull moment!

Tracting in the Humidity:
Thankfully we have a pretty big teaching pool at the moment so we don't have to do a lot of knocking doors, but when an appointment falls through... tracting it is. We tracted earlier this week when it was super hot and it was so miserable! The humidity makes everything feel sticky and it seems like my hair never dries after I shower! Ha but we had another tracting experience later in the week when it was cooler and that was much more enjoyable. We were able to talk with a few people about the gospel and give them a copy of the Book of Mormon. We are hoping to find a golden investigator because right now our investigators aren't progressing much. They all have law of chastity and/or word of wisdom problems and aren't ready to change. We have a few hopeful contacts though so we will keep working!

Meat and Potatoes:
The members of the ward are really good about feeding the missionaries. We eat at a member's home about 3-5 times a week. Each meal I've had has been different, but they almost always serve meat and potatoes in some form or another! Ha it's a Wisconsin thing I guess! Oh and they refer to dinner as supper so we have "supper appointments" all the time! One of the members made us a "s'more stuffie" which I can only describe as chocolate, graham cracker, and marshmallow filled calzone - it was so good!

Bugs, Bars, and Bingo:
So I guess I should explain the subject line of this email.. ha the mosquitos here are so evil! We had a lesson outside the other night and I was eaten alive! My arms are covered in mosquito bites, but I've been using anti-itch cream so at least they aren't itching anymore! Thankfully mosquitos are the only bugs that I've seen, so hopefully it'll stay that way! The bar and bingo thing happened when Sister Christiansen and I were helping out with bingo at the local rehab center. I was talking with one of the ladies there and she asked if I'd been to the nearby bar. I told her I hadn't and she was glad and proceeded to advise me not to go sneaking into a bar because I was much to young for that kind of nonsense. Ha I promised her I wouldn't sneak into any of the local bars anytime soon(:

Hope Anchors the Souls of Man:
This week we taught a really cool lesson to a less active member about hope. We shared Ether 12:4 which talks about how faith comes from having hope and how that hope can be an anchor for our souls. No matter what we are going through we can turn to our Savior who knows exactly how we are feeling. As we turn toward God and rely on Him, He will help us make it through the hard times!

I am so grateful to be serving as a missionary at this time! This gospel is perfect and Jesus Christ is our Savior. He loves us each individually and understands us perfectly. I love and miss you all and hope you have a great week!

Sister Kelley

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Crusin through Wisconsin

Dear Family and Friends,

Cheers from the great state of Wisconsin! I hope all is well back home and that you've had a great week(: Things have been really busy here so I'll do my best to cover all the bases! My MTC District and I arrived in Milwaukee on Wednesday afternoon where we were met by President and Sister Cutler! It was so fun to see them again. They are such sweet people!

Initial Impressions:
As we exited the airport and headed for the mission home I got my first glimpse of Wisconsin. All I could think was, man it is SO green here! There are trees everywhere! I almost felt claustrophobic because I couldn't see out to the mountains! Ha I miss the mountains a LOT, but it is super pretty here. The weather was cool when we got here, but today it's hot and humid! Thankfully the humidity hasn't been too bad yet, I only feel a little sticky...

Night at the Mission Home:
They dropped us off at the mission home and fed us a delicious lunch before sending us out tracting! I went out with Sister Griffins who is serving in the Milwaukee area right now. She taught me how to do the door approach thing and we had a blast knocking on doors for a bit! We didn't have any real success at first, but eventually we talked with a man named Dean who took a copy of the Book of Mormon and agreed to read it! It was so sweet! After that we had interviews with President Cutler, orientation, dinner, and a testimony meeting. Testimony meetings are always great, but it was cool to be with my District one last time and see just how much our testimonies have grown over the past couple weeks! I really miss them all! The next day we were all assigned to trainers and sent off to various parts of the mission. Saying goodbye to Sister Escobar was the worst! We're hoping we get to be companions again sometime during the next 18 months(:

Wisconsin Rapids:
1) The Companion: My new companion and trainer is Sister Christiansen! She's from Orem, Utah and will turn 20 next month. She's been out on her mission for 6 months and has served in Wisconsin Rapids the entire time! The members all love her and always invite us over. She dislocated her ankle while playing volleyball with the ward in May and is still in a boot! She uses crutches and can't walk very fast, but I never hear her complain. They're hoping she won't need surgery because if she does she'll have to go home! Hopefully it'll heal though! Because she's crippled I have to drive! Ha so my second day in Wisconsin was spent driving the 3 hours from Milwaukee to Wisconsin Rapids - it ruled! I like our white Jeep Compass, but wish it was a stick shift. I keep putting my left foot down to change gears out of habit.. Ha the roads here are all bumpy old concrete and there's loads of construction going on so that makes things interesting. Sister Christiansen has a nice GPS that gets us where we need to be though so life is good(:
2) The Area: Wisconsin Rapids is cute little "city" though it reminds me more of a small town. There's a river that runs through it and a bunch of cute little old houses. There are ice cream parlors everywhere. We live in a little apartment and there is a little forest right outside our apartment door!
3) The People: The ward is small, but so awesome! So many different people from different walks of life! Most of the ward is made up of converts who all have incredible conversion stories. We work a lot with the members and they kindly feed us a couple times a week. This week we made our own pizzas at a members house which was fun! Thursday night is 'Sports Night' with the ward where we play kickball, basketball, and volleyball over at the church with members, inactives,and investigators. On Fridays we volunteer in the community by helping out at Bethesda's local thrift shop and the Rehabilitation Center. We talk with people all the time about the church, but everyone thinks we are more modern nuns which is weird. I am definitely not a nun!!!

Personal Study is Powerful!:
Personal study might very well be my favorite part of the day! I know it sounds crazy, but I love the quiet hour I get to spend each morning studying the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It brings such peace and happiness into my life! I love it! This week I restarted the Book of Mormon so I read 1 Nephi 3 and was blown away by how incredibly obedient Nephi is. I love that he WILLINGLY obeyed the Lord even when it was tough!

I love you all dearly and miss you like crazy, but I send my love from Rapids(:
Sister Kelley
Ready to board with my awesome district!

My first view of WI!

Sisters Kelley, Christiansen, Hansen, and Hurst! It is the Wisconsin Rapids Family Tree if you will 
because Sister Hurst (who went home the day after this picture was taken) 
trained Sister Hansen who trained Sister Christiansen who is training me(:

In front of our apartment.

The paper plant across from our apartment. Most everyone in town works here!

The cute little Jeep Compass that I get to drive around.

Had my first Culver's ice cream cone today! MMM(:
Sister Christiansen loves sweets and always wants to stop to get ice cream...
Ha there is an ice cream place on almost every corner here!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Wisconsin or Bust!

Family and Friends!

WE LEAVE FOR WISCONSIN IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS! I could not be more excited to begin this new adventure(: We leave the MTC at 3:30 am and head to the SLC airport where we'll catch a 7:35 am flight to Denver before flying into Milwaukee - ahhhhh! So excited! I don't have much time, but I'll try to give you a small glimpse into my amazing week here at the MTC real quick before we have to go pack!

MTC Highlights:
I have the best zone ever! Seriously so great. We've loved playing sand volleyball during gym time and eating meals together. I'll miss them loads! Our teachers are amazing and always teach with the spirit. I've learned so much from Sister Westover, Brother Rassmussen, Brother Giffiths, and Brother Darenthal! I've also loved seeing tons of friends on the MTC campus in between classes, gym and meal time!

District BOM Reads:
One of my favorite things we do as a district is called a "BOM read" where we all just read from the Book of Mormon together and discuss what we're reading. We had a sweet experience this week going over Alma 32 and talking about humility and faith. I know that we can receive personal revelation as we study the scriptures!

Progressing Investigators and the Power of Music:
This week Sister Escobar and I spent a lot of time teaching our Progressing Investigators. I gained a huge testimony of the importance of teaching by the spirit. It's tough to do, but soo important! The spirit truly is the best teacher. Chad, one of our investigators, loves music so he asked Sister Escobar and I to sing a hymn for him! Ha it was random, but totally brought in the spirit! One more thing.. I got to sing and play the piano for our little zone sacrament meeting yesterday so on Saturday night I got to practice for a little while which was such a fun break!

Hope all is well back home! I love and miss you loads(:

Sister Kelley

Sister Escobar (my companion and I) studying in class
Sis Escobar and I in front of the MTC map pointing to Wisconsin
Our district plus Brother Rassmussen and Sister Westover(:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sunshine in my Soul

Hey Family and Friends!

Good news, I survived week one of the MTC. The concept of time in here is so strange - on one hand it seems like I've been here for a day and on the other it seems as if it's been an eternity! The first night I definitely felt like Dorthy on the Wizard of Oz when I looked around and realized I really wasn't in Kansas anymore! Ha but I totally love it, everyone is super nice and the schedule keeps us really busy! 

District 24:
I absolutely LOVE my district! Honestly some of the most genuine, hard working kids ever. My companion Sister Escobar is from Nampa, Idaho and loves to read and dance. She's such a good example to me and we get along super well! We love running during gym time and eating oatmeal in the mornings(: She's a bit shy so when we teach I take the lead and then she just hits home the point with her powerful testimony. We share a room with Sisters Biro and Kunz who are also going to the Wisconsin, Milwaukee Mission, in fact our whole district is headed there! Sister Biro is 25, from AZ, and a convert! She has so much faith it's truly inspiring! Sister Kunz is from Washington and loves theatre - she's really animated when she talks, yet super quiet and spiritual when she teaches. Then we have the 18-year-old Elders - Merrill, McDurmott, and Baird. Elder Merrill is from Idaho and loves sports/outdoors stuff. He is super down to earth and easy to get along with. Elder McDurmott is from Layton, UT and has the cheesiest grin you've ever seen. That kid is always smiling. He's hard working and really keeps us going. Elder Baird is from Heber City, UT and loves to sing. He knows the scriptures really well - he puts us all to shame. Ha but we all balance each other out and get along well. We love spending time together and all look out for one another. We had a sweet zone, but they all left us yesterday for the mission field! We are looking forward to getting new zone members today as the new missionaries are dropped off! 

Sunshine in My Soul:
Our District loves to sing.. ha we sing to start class and everyone gets way into it! Definitely brings in the spirit. Also Sister Escobar and I were called as the District/Zone Music Coordinators so for Sacrament meeting I played the prelude music and lead. We've loved getting to know our Branch Presidency and their wives - the Jenkins, Mays, and LaTurners have become our parents in here! We enjoy the time we get to spend with them after Devotionals and on Sundays. At the Devotional last night Neil A. Anderson spoke about the Holy Ghost which was super powerful. It's so cool that after being baptized we can have the constant companionship of a member of the Godhead if we live worthily!  

A Day in the Life:
The MTC is all about planning so each day we stick to a pretty tight schedule. We wake up at 6:30 and get ready before going to eat breakfast as a District. Next we have classroom instruction where MTC teachers teach us all about the Doctrine of Christ and the Atonement. We practice teaching "investigators" which really means we practice teaching our teachers and they pretend to be progressing investigators. Our progressing investigator's name is Paul and he's the best! Sister Escobar and I have loved teaching "Paul" aka Brother Rassmussen. We also teach TRC (I have no clue what that stands for and I guess no one else does either because we've asked tons of missionaries...) investigators which are realish investigators. In a little bit Sister Escobar and I get to teach Melissa who is a TRC investigator from Milwaukee - so cool! During gym time we run around the track or outside - occasionally we go to the actual gym too. We get to walk up to the temple sometimes, but it's closed right now so we won't get to go through. Other than that we just spend time studying with our awesome teachers Brother Rassmussen and Sister Westover.

Just a little spiritual thought:
D&C 68:6 has been my go to scripture this week. I know that our Savior Jesus Christ lives and loves each of us - this gospel truly brings peace and happiness!

Love and miss ya all a real lot(:
Sister Kelley

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sister Kelley Enters the MTC!

Amanda was set apart last night. It was a very special experience. Sister Kelley spent the morning exercising with her companion (senior Sister Kelley), getting ready for the day, studying, and finishing up packing her suitcases. After a wonderful breakfast of Abelskievers with her family we said good bye to Grandma Barbara and loaded everything up in the car to head down to Provo.

We arrived at the Provo Temple and took a few pictures, ran into the Littles who were sending off Rebecca (Amanda's friend since elementary school) and said our tender goodbyes. We then entered the MTC drop off line and pulled into slot #3. Amanda was greeted, we took a few pictures and hugged one last time! Off she goes…we are so proud of her!