Monday, January 26, 2015

Ishmael's Baptism

Dear Family and Friends,

Seems like I just wrote home two seconds ago... ha this week flew by! We met with Ishmael a lot and were busy planning the baptism, but we also spent quite a bit of time contacting or at least attempted to. Ha we got off at the wrong bus stop a couple times and walked around in the cold till we figured out where to go, but we met some cool people and it all worked out in the end!

Daily Contact
The week leading up to a baptism we try to have daily contact with the investigator so we spent a lot of time teaching Ishmael this week! It's been such a blessing to help him get ready for his baptism. He has such a sincere desire to obey the commandments and follow Jesus Christ. On Tuesday he passed his baptismal interview and stayed to listen to our discussion about effective study habits during district meeting. During the week he told us how much he loves reading about Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon and shared with us his favorite verse, Alma 48:17. So solid. On Friday we had a lesson in a member's home and taught the importance of enduring to the end and that his baptism was just the first step he was taking to follow the Savior. Then everything came together smoothly and the baptism took place Saturday afternoon. Ishmael bore his testimony and thanked the ward for being there to support him. Yesterday he was confirmed and afterwards he was so happy!

Baptism: Our First Covenant
Saturday night the Dimond family had all 4 sets of missionaries over for a huge waffle dinner - mmm it was soo good! It's always fun to spend time with the other missionaries, but with the Dimond family too?? It was the perfect end to a great day! The Dimond family is amazing! After the meal Sister King and I shared a message about baptism. They all loved the pictures we brought of us when we were baptized 11 years ago.. ha we passed them around and asked everyone to share something they remembered from their baptism. Though the responses varied, everyone talked about how they felt happy and at peace. Following the Savior brings true peace and happiness - I am so grateful I was baptized and that I have the chance to help others enter the gate that leads to eternal life! (2 Nephi 31:17-18)

Missing Gecko's
This week we went to dinner with a not-so-recent recent convert in the ward, Shaun, and his daughter Sierra, who we might start teaching! We met at this little Mexican restaurant called La Hacienda. I was super excited since I LOVE Mexican food, but it was junky and just made me miss Gecko's a ton. What I wouldn't give for a bowl of Gecko's salsa and guacamole right about now.

Well I think that's about it. Shout out to Uncle Allen for getting engaged - ha that's sooo exciting! Love and miss you!
Sister Kelley(:


Congratulations Ishmael!

This lake is frozen!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

MLK Jr. Day and a Crowded Bus

Dear Family and Friends,

Where to begin?! This week was full of miracles. Sister King and I were just running around like crazy trying to stay on top of things! Sorry we didn't get to email yesterday - the campus library was closed due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Since we couldn't email yesterday the zone got together at the institute building which was super fun! It was also a holiday bus schedule so the busses didn't run as frequently and when they did run they were PACKED! Riding back from the institute with the Elders was insane! We got on a bus with almost 100 people packed onto it!

Just Walking:
Earlier in the week we were out doing some contacting when we felt prompted to go try to stop by to see Debra. We'd had an appointment scheduled with her for that day, but she had cancelled it because of a doctor's appointment for her little boy. We still felt like we should try to go see her though so we walked and walked and walked and then we ran into her on the street! It was such a tender mercy because we were able to talk with her and help with some of her concerns. It was one of those 'in the right place at the right time' moments and it felt so good!

Debra and Jada's Baptism:
This Saturday everything fell into place and the English Elder's investigators, Debra and Jada, were baptized! We met with Debra and Jada a couple times to help teach lessons so it was fun to be a small part of their journey. It was such a tender mercy that everything worked out and came together - I wish I could explain all the mini miracles that we witnessed this week, but I don't have the time! Guess we'll save the full story for after the mission, but Jada (12 years old) is just the sweetest thing and after she was baptized she was just glowing!

Possibly the Most Spiritual Experience of My Mission Thus Far:
Alright I have sat in on some very spirit filled lessons in the last 6 months, but this one takes the cake! AHHH it was incredible! We had a lesson with our recent convert Kendall as our 'member present' and we taught Ishmael our investigator who will be getting baptized THIS Saturday! It was a pretty simple lesson, we taught the importance of obedience and that keeping the commandments brings happiness. Then Kendall shared her testimony and her experience joining the church. Like Ishmael, she was raised Catholic so she related really well to him and helped answer some of his questions and concerns. She bore such a simple, powerful testimony the spirit filled the room SO strongly! It was such a sweet moment for Sister King and I to see Kendall teaching Ishmael things we taught her just a couple months ago. She has so much faith and is such a great example! Ishmael was really touched by her testimony and we had a few other great lessons with him this week. He passed his baptismal interview today and things are looking good for Saturday - we are so excited for him!(:

The Sacrament:
Elder Don R. Clarke of the Seventy taught, “If we properly prepare for the sacrament, we can transform our lives.” My understanding of the Sacrament has grown SO much as a missionary. This week we had a cool lesson about the Sacrament with Emily and it made me so excited for church and the opportunity we have to partake of the Sacrament. It can truly be a spiritual experience for us! I am so grateful for the chance we have to renew our covenants each week and recommit ourselves to following the Savior.

Thanks for all the support and encouragement! I hope things are going well back home - love and miss you lots, but there is no where I'd rather be!

Sister Kelley(:
Debra and Jada's Baptism!

Love this kid!!!

Crowded bus pics - sorry so out of focus!

Soooo many people!! Again, sorry it's out of focus!

Me and Sis. King - love her!
(cute coat and hat! she must be loved!!!)

Monday, January 12, 2015

-36 Degrees and Still Kickin!

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has been great, just a little on the cold side! Ha we bundle up and do our best to stay warm. Thank goodness for heated busses!(:

P-day Adventure:
So last P-day after emailing we helped out with a musical number for a memorial service. Our not-so-recent recent convert, Shaun, had a neighbor who passed away so we helped out with that. Everybody shared fond memories of Frank Churchill and Shaun sang some gospel music and 'We Need Thee Every Hour' it was a good time for sure. Nice service. Then after the memorial we were down on Capitol Sqaure so we just went exploring and tried to go to a free art museum, but it was closed! We did get a great picture out front though. We ended up checking out the Capitol building while trying to warm up - it was insanely cold that day!

Madison West Zone Training Meeting:
It's always fun to get together with the zone, but this time around a few of the sister areas had been closed (due to the many sisters who finished their missions and went home these past few transfers) so that was a bummer! Now there are only 2 sets of sisters in our zone, us and Madison 4th ward. It's so sad! But ZTM was super good and I learned a ton! We talked about what it means to 'lay hold of every good thing' (Moroni 7:19). How we can each change and become like Christ through the Atonement (Moroni 7:20-23). I'm so grateful we have the chance to repent, make changes, and refine ourselves through Christ. His Atonement is all encompassing!

The First Vision:
I've taught the Restoration a lot on my mission, but I've never felt the spirit as strongly as I did this week when we taught it to our investigator Jeanne. We were having a really good discussion and talking about the lesson points a lot, but when we shared Joseph Smith's account of the First Vision the spirit in the room totally changed and it got super quiet. I just bore my testimony and felt such a strong confirmation that the things I was sharing were true. I know Joseph Smith truly restored the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth again and I am so grateful for the chance I have to share this message here in Madison!

Fav Lessons of the Week:
Here are a few high light lessons of the week.. We taught the English Elder's investigator Deborah and her 12-year-old daughter Jada about tithing and fasting. Even though Deborah's financial situation is a little tough she is so eager and willing to pay her tithing. She trusts God and wants to give back to show how grateful she is for all she has - ahh I was just so touched by her sincere testimony. Then her daughter Jada was asking some really good questions about fasting and is excited to fast for answers to specific questions. They are going to be baptized this coming week. Then we had a lesson with Shay and Amanda about prayer. We read Alma 37:36-37 and talked about how we can 'cry unto God for all thy support'. We are so blessed to have a loving Heavenly Father we can rely on and turn to! I know He hears and answers our prayers! Finally we had a lesson with Emily which we hadn't really had time to plan beforehand so we ended up just reading Moroni 7 together. We'd read a few verses and then talk about what we had read and what we were thinking/feeling. As we read from the Book of Mormon the spirit was there so strongly! Emily even said she received some direct answers about some things that have been on her mind for a while now. I am so grateful for the power of the Book of Mormon, that each time we read we can get something new out of it and that as we read Heavenly Father helps answer our questions and comfort our souls.

Exchanges with Sister C:
On Friday night we went on exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders! Sister Christiansen got transferred to the Madison 2nd ward and is serving as an STL so we got to go on exchanges together! It was so fun to be with my trainer again - she is such an incredible missionary! We had fun catching up and chatting about Rapids(: Saturday was full of miracles - we gave out a copy of the Book of Mormon to a girl on the bus and had several other lessons with people on the street and at the bus stop. I navigated the busses successfully and managed to get us to and from all of our appointments on time! Ahh we had such a fun day together and I learned a lot on the exchange.

Ward Conference:
Fun fact: we had ward conference yesterday! The Stake Leaders talked about service and how as we go about doing good and serving those around us, opportunists to invite people to learn more about the gospel will present themselves.

Well I think that about sums up our week! I hope you are all staying warm and having fun(: We have a busy week planned ahead of us so I am excited! Ishmael is doing great and getting excited for his baptism on January 24th, keep him in your prayers! Love and miss you!

Sister Kelley(:
Me outside the CLOSED free art museum.

Three pictures of inside the Capitol.

I LOVE coming in from the cold and getting mail!!!

Me & Sis C together again!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year!

Dear Family and Friends,

Aah can you believe it's 2015?! I am so excited for this New Year - I get to be a representative of Christ ALL YEAR LONG! How cool is that?! I hope you all had fun New Year's celebrations and are setting some goals to help you become closer to your Savior(:

So good news, it FINALLY snowed! In my opinion Madison looks a whole lot prettier with a fresh layer of snow on the ground(: Unfortunately with the snow came the nasty freezing cold... ha today it was -8 when we left the apartment, so that's fun. Haha Sister King and I just bundle up and look like complete fools, but at least we're warm(:

Change Ups in the District:
Exchanges happened this week so on Tuesday we said goodbye to Elders Gifford, Humble, and Powell. We all went out for lunch together at Buffalo Wild Wings - ha it was a blast! I love being in Madison where we are so close to so many other missionaries! I learn so much from their testimonies and examples. Then on New Years Eve the Durtschi's invited all the missionaries over for dinner so we got to meet the new Elders - Elders Hernandez, Marsh, and Sullivan. They all seem really nice. I am just SOO grateful Sister King and I get to stay together for another transfer! She is such a hard worker and has a strong testimony of the Savior. I learn so much from her everyday and we get along super well. Plus she is a boss at managing the bussing schedule so she keeps us out of the cold as much as possible which is a huge blessing! I am going to struggle navigating the area when she leaves!

Ether 12:4:
This week we contacted a referral from Sister Durschi - she had met this lady at a card class she hosted and had given her a copy of the Book of Mormon. Turns out when we stopped by to talk to Jeanne, she had read the ENTIRE Book of Mormon in a matter of days. Hold on let's just appreciate this for a minute... SHE READ THE ENTIRE BOOK OF MORMON IN LIKE THREE DAYS! Ah we had a really good discussion with her about the Book of Mormon and she said she knows it is true because it is all about faith. Ether 12:4 popped into my mind so we shared it with her and she liked it so much she went to mark it in her copy of the BOM and that was right where her bookmarker was! She took that as a huge sign and wants to take the discussions now. So cool! Sister Durtschi invited her over for dinner on Wednesday and after we had a really good lesson - shared Moroni 10:3-5 and challenged her to pray and ask if this is true. I can't wait for our appointment this week!

WoW Down LoC to Go:
We met with Ishmeal a few times this week to teach him more about the Book of Mormon, read with him, and teach the Word of Wisdom! He was having a hard time understanding the BOM in English so we had the Spanish Elders read with him in a member's home and that went really well. He seriously is SO prepared - I am so excited for him to be baptized in a few weeks! He agreed to live the Word of Wisdom and is already contributing so much to the ward! AH Ishmeal is awesome(:

Our recent convert Shay introduced us to her friend Amanda this week and now we are going to start teaching her! The moment I met Amanda her face just seemed so familiar to me! It was crazy because I'd never seen her before, but then after Sister King told me she had felt the same way - ah so cool. Amanda is 19 and has been through a lot, but she has seen how the gospel has blessed Shay's life and that is what she wants! We had a great lesson with her about the Book of Mormon and how reading from it brings so much peace and happiness into our lives. I am really excited to start teaching her!

Happy 6 Months:
This past week I hit my 6 month mark and that has caused me to have a bit of a 6 month crisis! Ha I have one year left on my mission and I want to work really hard and make the most of it! More than anything I want to become the missionary Heavenly Father wants me to become and prepare for the future! In setting some New Years Resolutions I reread Elder Holland's 'Remember Lot's Wife' talk that I have raved about before and the thing that stood out to me was just the fact that faith is always pointed toward the future. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can be changed, we can BECOME better, we can reach our divine potential if we just allow Christ's atonement to work in our lives. I'm far from perfect, but with Christ's help I can progress and become better - I am looking forward to the New Year and hope you are too!

There is a lot going on here in Madison, so much work to do! I am getting better at talking with people and teaching from the scriptures. I just learn so much each day and am grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow. Thanks for all the prayers and encouragement - it means the world and really helps me make it through hard days! Hope you all have a great week! Love you!

Sister Kelley(:
At the Durtschi's with our sparkling apple juice!