Monday, December 29, 2014

Mahonri Moriancumerry Christmas to all! And to all a good Lamanite!

Dear Fam,
Aww man talking with you guys on Christmas was the best! I'm so glad you're all doing well and kickin it up at the cabin(: Go snowmobiling a bunch for me because there is still no snow here... and I just miss it!

Not going to lie, I definitely felt homesick this week. There were a couple hard days, but we made it through. I am so grateful for the members here in Madison - they take such good care of the missionaries! Last P-day Emily took us to drive through a big Christmas light show which was really fun. Then the Hunsaker family had all 8 missionaries in the ward over for dinner on the 23rd. Sister Hunsaker made some really good Thai food. It was fun to try somtum with sticky rice! During the day on the 23rd we had Zone Training Meeting. It was fun to get to know the Madison West Zone and share testimony/get pumped about the new year. We also went caroling with the Elders to this cute Nepali family they are teaching. We tried some good Nepali food and had fun talking with them about Christmas. Later we did a bit of street contacting up on Capitol square. Lots of people were out and about which made for an eventful street contacting sesh(:

Christmas Eve:
On Christmas Eve we had dinner with the Feriante family! Sister Feriante is from Wales - so she made a traditional Welsh dinner and it was soo good! She even made Yorkshirepuddings like Grandma!!! Later that night we had a PJ party with Rachel, a recent convert who used to be Jewish so this was her first year celebrating CHRISTmas! Spending Christmas Eve with Rachel and her family was such a neat opportunity. Rachel has such a strong testimony about the Atonement. We had a really good lesson all about the Savior then frosted cookies and played games! Such a fun Christmas Eve!

Christmas Day:
On Christmas day we still had studies and everything like normal then had lunch with the Gardner family who totally remind me of Ty and Bri! Their little girl Elsa is the sweetest! Later we got to FaceTime home from Emily's computer. It was so fun to see your cute faces again!!!! Haha just 5 more months and we'll get to do it again(: After FaceTiming we had a big dinner with a few families in the ward and a little White Elephant game. I am so grateful for the wonderful gift of our Savior and the chance we have to celebrate Him and His life!

Post Christmas:
The day after Christmas I was exhausted! Ha I just really needed a nap, but just had to keep going with missionary work! We had some great lessons through the end of the week and spent time finding and contacting like usual. Deserae, a less active we've been working with, invited us over to make baby gingerbread houses which was fun. She also knitted us these cute little half-mittens! We were very well taken care of this Christmas. Thanks for all the letters, packages, and prayers - they all helped make being away from home a little easier(:

This week is transfers! Sister King and I will be staying together here in Madison which we are both super excited about(: Our District will change a lot because all 3 elder companionships are changing! Elders Gifford, Humble, and Powell will be missed! Sister Christiansen, my trainer, is finally getting transferred out of Wisconsin Rapids after serving there for a couple weeks shy of 1 year! She is being transferred to Madison 2 where she will be serving as an STL (Sister Training Leader) this means we will get to go on exchanges together! Ahh so exciting!

Christmas as a Missionary:
Spending Christmas as a missionary was such an amazing experience. I am so grateful for Christmas and the time we have to celebrate the birth and life of our Savior. I loved being able to share that message full time this year! We shared a Christmas message everywhere we went, but one of my favorites was reading 2 Nephi 18:6 and talking about the names of Christ. We can have a personal relationship with Christ! He is the King of Kings, Light of the World, Redeemer, Son of God, Messiah, Good Shepherd, Prince of Peace, OUR SAVIOR! Pick your favorite name of Christ and work on developing a closer relationship with Him this coming year.

Well we've gotta go, but thanks for all the support and encouragement! Love and miss you lots! Enjoy winter break(:

Sister Kelley(:
Meet the District! 
Dinner at the Hunsaker's with all the missionaries in the ward - they fed us yummy Thai food!
This was a few days before Christmas - gearing up for the celebration.
Christmas Eve with the Feriante Family!
Sister Feriante is from Wales - so she made a traditional Welsh dinner 
and it was delish! She even made Yorkshire puddings like Grandma!!!! 

Christmas Eve with Rachel!
It was so fun to celebrate with her and her cute family(:
Our Christmas Corner!
Merry Christmas!
All my loot:)
Making Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins Christmas Morning!
Christmas lunch with the Gardner Family! They were so nice to have us over and we all had a great time!

Christmas gifts from Emily(: She made us these scripture quote boards!
Talking with the fam at Emily's! 
Check out these sweet half-gloves Deserae knitted for us!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Hello Family!

It's crazy to think I'll be talking to you in a few days - yay for Christmas(: Even though I have been missing you all terribly, I am so grateful for the chance I have to spend Christmas as a missionary sharing my testimony of the Savior with the people in Madison everyday!

District White Elephant:
The transfer text comes next Saturday and then transfers will be the following Wednesday so this week we had our last District Meeting together! A few of the Elders have been here in Madison for over 6 months so they are pretty sure they will be transferred, but Sister King and I really hope to stay together! I love the Madison district and was grateful we had the chance to share our testimonies one last time(: I have learned so much from the Elders and Sisters I've served around! We finished District Meeting with a game of White Elephant - ha it was so fun!

Recognizing Promptings:
We taught Emily again this week, but this time her identical twin sister was visiting so she sat in on the lesson too! Emily's family was really against the church when she joined so Sister King and I were a bit nervous to see how the lesson would go. We shared a message about the importance of following the prophet. We shared a few verses from the Book of Mormon and I just had the strongest impression we needed to give Rachel (Emily's sister) her own copy. At the end of the lesson I asked if she'd like a BOM and she accepted gratefully and later told Emily she was impressed with how we taught and wants to read the Book of Mormon! It was such a huge tender mercy that the lesson went so well and her heart was softened!

Baptismal Date:
Ishmeal now has a baptismal date! Ahh! We are so excited for him - he is so sincere and really wants to get closer to his Heavenly Father. We had a great lesson with him about the Plan of Salvation. We focused on how the Plan of Salvation wouldn't be possible without Christ and how the Atonement is soo central. A few days after setting the baptismal date, Ishmeal was able to come to a baptism of someone the campus elders have been teaching! The baptismal service was done mostly in Chinese because the man getting baptized is from China going to school here, but even though Ishmeal didn't understand everything that was said he totally felt the spirit and got a little emotional toward the end! He is excited for his baptism and is doing so well(:

Pre-Christmas Christmas:
This week we celebrated Christmas with the Thurston family before they went back home to Utah to celebrate the holidays with their families. We ate good food, decorated sugar cookies, hung stockings, and sang Christmas carols! It was super fun! They are so good to help out the missionaries and are always so willing to come to lessons with us - we are so grateful for them and all the awesome Madison 1st Ward members! We are being very well taken care of for Christmas - we are planning on spending Christmas Eve with a recent convert who used to be Jewish so this is her first Christmas celebrating Christ so it is gonna be sweet!

Talk to you in a few days!!! Hope you have a very Merry Christmas, take some time to read the Christmas story and reflect on the incredible gift of our Savior. He truly is the gift, our gift. I love Him and am grateful for his infinite atoning sacrifice - through Him we can become better! Merry Christmas - love you!

Sister Kelley

Last District Meeting Together!

White Elephant Present

Sister King's mom sent us these sweet Christmas socks and we bought
matching Wisconsin T-shirts on sale at the book store!

"Christmas Eve/Christmas" at the Thurston's

Decorating Cookies!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Kendall's Baptism

Dear Family and Friends,

Hey! How are you guys doing?! Getting ready for Christmas? I love this time of year and am so grateful for all the miracles we've been seeing! Seems like people's hearts are softened by the Christmas spirit of Christ-like love(: Aside from talking to everyone and anyone we can about Christmas and our Savior, we have spent all week getting ready for Kendall's baptism! Everything turned out beautifully(:

This week we joined some of the Hispanic members in the ward to play soccer in the gym at the church! It was so much fun to get to know the Spanish speaking members better - they're great! I love that the Madison 1st Ward has so many Spanish speaking members - we have translators/headsets for Sacrament meeting and one of the Sacrament prayers is always said in Spanish! So cool.

Exchanges in Mad 2:
I got to go on exchanges in the Madison 2nd ward with Sister Ostler! It was fun to be companions with her for the day after having served together in the Adams District before we were both transferred to Madison! Sister Ostler is a hard worker and is really in tune with the spirit. We had a busy day of service, finding, and teaching. The highlight of the exchange was going out with Sister Goue, a member in the Mad 2 ward. She invited us to come with her to talk to her neighbor about the church. We weren't quite sure what to expect, but we had an amazing lesson with a Mr. Nunez where the spirit was definitely felt! We testified boldly of forever families and how it's possible through Jesus Christ. Ahh I love the gospel!

AHH I cannot say enough about the amazing person that Kendall is! I absolutely love her and am so grateful for her example! She has soo much faith and is so Christ-like. She has always had a good relationship with her Father in Heaven, but joining the church is just going to help her to come even closer to Him! It has been such a privilege to teach her, I feel so blessed to have been a small part of her conversion. She is our Christmas miracle! Everything for Kendall's baptism turned out perfectly - the music, program, flowers, filling the font, setting up chairs, unlocking the building, everything! It all turned out and Kendall's family came to support her even though they've been struggling a bit with her decision. After the ordinance she bore a simple, powerful testimony and said a beautiful sincere prayer. Her confirmation was done in church on Sunday, the same day as the Christmas program! The spirit was so strong in that Sacrament meeting and Kendall was just beaming(:

He Is the Gift:
I hope you have all watched the 'He Is the Gift' video that was put out by the church - if not you better look it up right now! It is SO good. We have been giving out pass along cards about it to EVERYONE! I really am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who gave us the gift of His Beloved son. Because of Him I can become better and be forgiven of my weaknesses. Because of Him I can live with my family forever! I am so grateful for my Savior and this time of year to celebrate his birth and life!

So I think that's about it other than we've been experiencing a bit of a heat wave here in Madison.. meaning it's been 30-40 degrees instead of like 10 degrees. Ha so yay for that! It's actually a bit sad because all the snow has melted! I hope there is a big storm next week so we'll have a nice white Christmas(: Is there snow at home? Either way you guys will have a white Christmas up at the cabin! I can't believe Christmas is right around the corner! I'm excited to Skype with you soon(: Love and miss you!

Sister Kelley(:
Kendall's Baptism before and after! She's our Christmas miracle!
She's just beaming!
aw yeah - saw this on the side of the road!
Exchanges with Sister Ostler

Elders Harmon and Humble
Sister Griffin took me out tracting on the very first day of my mission! 
Now she is going home! It was so fun to see her at Kendall's baptism! 
Sis King and I

Monday, December 8, 2014

Waking Up On The Right Side Of The Bed

Dear Family and Friends,

So this week was jam packed with miracles!!! During the week amazing things would happen and Sister King and I would look at each other and just be blown away by how obvious the Lord's hand is in this work! I am just so grateful to be serving as a missionary - it is such a privilege!

The phrase, "waking up on the right side of the bed" took on a whole new meaning for me when we got a text message from our investigator Kendall on Tuesday morning! She texted us asking when the soonest was that she could be baptized! AHH!!! Needless to say we were freaking out! We were so excited! We called and she explained that she'd been praying a lot the night before and she woke up and just KNEW she had to be baptized! Ha so after that our week was devoted to teaching Kendall, cleaning the baptismal font, and figuring out the baptism details! It isn't everyday your investigator texts you asking to be baptized! Ha this was such a miracle especially considering the fact that when the sisters had invited her to be baptized a few weeks ago she had freaked out and felt like it was too soon! She is so prepared now that she's mustered up the faith to do it and got her answer she knows it's right! Kendall is such an incredible example to me - she doesn't have a lot of family/friend support on this, but she knows it is right and she just wants to help her relationship with her Father in Heaven grow! She was experiencing a lot of opposition from her family a few days after deciding to be baptized, but we had a really powerful lesson with her that helped. Right when we got there we could just tell how overwhelmed she felt, but as soon as we said the opening prayer the spirit was there so strongly! I felt Heavenly Father's love for her pour into the room and after that everything started falling into place. I am so excited for Kendall - she'll be baptized this Saturday!

Success on the Bus:
There are only three Sister areas in the mission that are strictly bussing areas and we are SO lucky to be one of them! Well sometimes when we run late and have to chase after the bus we don't feel so lucky.. ha or when it takes forever to get us somewhere.. but really the bus is such a great finding tool! We talk with tons of people and this week we were blessed to see success come from opening our mouths! We met Liliana, this cute lady from Columbia while we were waiting at the bus stop and we got talking with her and invited her to the ward Christmas party - she totally came and had a great time! On Sunday, Nate, a guy we met on the bus a couple weeks ago randomly came to church - huge miracle! The Elders talked lots with him so that was cool. One night we had a few minutes to wait at a transfer point for our connecting bus so we scouted around for someone we could give a copy of the Book of Mormon to. Sister King and I both felt impressed to talk with this woman so we went up and started a conversation with her, but she didn't speak English! We both knew a tiny bit of Spanish from school so Sister King and I did our best to communicate with her. It went surprisingly well and before our bus came we had told her where our church building was, invited her to the ward Christmas party, and testified of how the gospel blesses families! We gave Latisia's information to the Spanish Elders so hopefully they will be able to teach her! The final bus success story of the week is with Ishmeal - he is just SO prepared! We had a lesson with him at the church this week about the Restoration. He totally accepted everything we shared and was so glad we believed that miracles continue to happen! He asked lots of good questions and at the end of the lesson we extended a soft baptismal date and he said baptism is something he wants to work towards! He came to the Ward Christmas Party and totally love it - he came early to help set up and stayed after to clean up. Ahh we just feel like Heavenly Father is putting people in our path!

Ward Christmas Party:
The Madison 1st Ward Christmas party was a blast! We helped set up chairs and tables for it on Saturday morning and made chocolate chip cookies to contribute to the potluck dessert. Everything turned out really well - the activities committee did a great job! There was a fun program and tons of people came. We had a few investigators show up and a lady we met on the bus came and talked with the Spanish Elders!

Christmas Devotional:
On Sunday night the Seniors, a nice family in the ward, invited all 8 Madison 1st Ward missionaries over for break the fast! It was fun to eat all together and afterwards we watched the First Presidency Christmas Devotional! The devotional was really good - I definitely recommend looking it up if you didn't get a chance to watch it! Elder Christofferson's talk was really good. I liked how they emphasized that the spirit of Christmas is Christ-like love!

Hope you are all getting ready for Christmas(: Take some time to remember the reason for the season - I am so grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ and all that he has done for each one of us. Hope you have a good week - I love and miss you all so much!

Sister Kelley
At the UW-Madison bookstore

the CHRISTmas tree(:

Our Christmas tree in the Christmas corner with the gifts you sent underneath!
Visiting the Allreds and their new baby girl!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Family and Friends,

It sounds like you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving break! I missed spending the holiday with you, but am so grateful to be serving as a missionary here in Madison(:

Thanksgiving Dinner x2:
The ward members took such good care of us this week! We were invited to TWO Thanksgiving dinners! We ate the first with the Thirsten's, a young family here for Grad school, and the second with the Durtschi's, a nice family in the ward who invited a bunch of ward members, less actives, and the missionaries over to enjoy the big meal. We enjoyed all the traditional Thanksgiving specialties, but also tried a few German dishes! I'm not a huge sweet potato fan, but Brother Durtschi made them taste pretty dang good! I also loved the rolls and Sister Thirsten's apple pie(: While walking over to the Thirsten's Sister King and I had fun counting our blessings - we truly have been given SO much! During comp study we found D&C 78:19 which rules!!! Look it up! I am just so grateful for the gospel and this time I have to share it full time!

Best Lessons of the Week:
This week we met with Emily, a less active Mom who wants to come back to church - we are just going through all of the missionary discussions to help her strengthen her testimony. This week we had a great lesson about the Plan of Salvation where we used the classic little pictures to help illustrate each part of the plan. We taught about pre-mortal life, living on earth, the spirit world, resurrection, judgment, and the 3 kingdoms of glory, but then we talked about our Savior Jesus Christ and how the entire plan is centered on Him. Without Him it would all end at death - as we explained this we took away all of the pictures past that point and it just really illustrated how much we rely on our Savior and His Atonement. I'm not sure if that makes sense, but it was super powerful! I know we need Christ in our lives and I am so grateful for Him and His infinite Atonement!
Another great lesson was with Nazeleh, an 18 year old potential investigator the Elders found a few months ago. We met her family last week and were able to catch her at home this week! We shared a message with her about the Book of Mormon and explained where it came from and why it is so important. She listened intently and asked some really good questions! When we asked if she wanted to learn more she said that she did, but that she also wanted her family to sit in on our next lesson because she thought they would really like it and that her Mom had been impressed with us when she met us last week! Sister King and I are so excited to have a family to teach!(:

Bus Contacting Success:
I am a huge fan of bus contacting! We just talk with everyone and anyone on the bus. This week some people really didn't want to talk with us and just ignored us, but then we met some other people who were totally prepared! We made a goal to testify boldly of Jesus Christ and to try to pass out more copies of the Book of Mormon so with that in mind we just went to work talking with everyone! We met a man named Ishmael on the bus and invited him to church just like we do with everyone else we talk to, but on Sunday he actually showed up to church! It was awesome! He stayed for all 3 hours and really enjoyed it! We have an appointment with him later this week so hopefully that goes well! It was such a huge blessing/answer to prayers to have 5 investigators at church this week!

So I got a really bad case of the hiccups on Sunday after church and they just wouldn't go away! We were in a lesson with Janet, this cute old lady recent convert, and she told me to hold my breath while she counted to 10 to get my hiccups to go away. I did and afterwards they were gone! I thanked her for curing me and then she humbly said, "no it was God who cured you." Ha Sister King and I both stifled some laughter, but later we talked about what a great example Janet is to us! She totally attributes every good thing that happens to her to be from Heavenly Father! She is so grateful for all the little things and we should be too! I love Alma 26:12 where Ammon accepts his own weaknesses and just glories in God. I've been thinking a lot about how I can be better at acknowledging God's hand because this is His work and we see so many little miracles each day! I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who is so mindful of us!

Alright I think that about sums up the week! Things are going well here as we're gearing up for Christmas! I can't wait to talk with you guys in a few weeks! Love you!
Sister Kelley(:
Sister King and I wearing our warm wool socks - warming up by the fireplace!

Thanksgiving meal complete with place card!

Happy Thanksgiving! This is us at the Durtschi's!