Monday, December 21, 2015

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

Hello, all! I should really learn how to say "hello" in Tongan, since my companion is fluent in it...

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT'S THE WEEK OF CHRISTMAS?! Man! Where did December go? I certainly have no idea. It's so weird to think that it's almost 2016! What on earth are we going to do with this new year?

This week has been pretty chill. Literally, actually. We've been blessed with some chilly weather! I can't help but laugh while we're driving through the hills of Purvis listening to "White Christmas" when everyone here is still watering their lawns, wearing t-shirts, and wearing sunglasses. I've gotten away with just wearing a scarf and cardigan for now -- we'll see if that holds until January! 

Speaking of hills, we biked all over Purvis this Tuesday! We're running a little low on miles we can drive for the month, so we're trying to budget them by biking. I think I biked around nine or ten miles on Tuesday. Those hills are killer -- if you want great legs, just come bike in Mississippi! 

Missionary work is a little odd this time of year. Most people don't want us to teach them until after the holidays. We still tract and increase our finding efforts; we know there's someone out there who needs our message, regardless of the time of year. Everywhere we go, we do our best to share a message about the Savior and His restored gospel, even if it just means giving them a pass-along card and a candy cane. It is by small and simple things that great things come to pass. 

We've done a lot more service than usual, and I do think that's a consequence of the season. I have loved doing service here! People actually let us help them! People want our help with moving them into a new house, raking their lawns, and simply carrying groceries inside. With the gift-giving spirit of the season, people are more receptive to receiving gifts like a small act of service and love. This always reminds me of the Savior, and how He has given so much to us, and how He was always seeking ways to serve others during His ministry on this earth. 

Christ accomplished huge acts of service: He healed the sick, helped the blind see, raised the dead...so many things I cannot do. I am so grateful to be His disciple. My heart is warmed every time I am able to serve one of my brothers and sisters. I have seen so many miracles come from simple acts of service. A gift of love can change someone's heart forever. What are ways you serving your fellowmen? Especially during this season, it is important to remember the giving love of Christ. Christ never did anything for Himself. Everything He did was for others. His love stretches farther than we can comprehend! How amazing is that! I am so grateful to know of the Savior's love in my life. 

I've seen it here with the ward members in Purvis. Some of these members don't have much to give. Some of them don't live in the best of situations, and yet they still make time to feed us missionaries. Some have even wrapped and given gifts to us to put under our little trees in our apartments so that those missionaries who might not have something to open on Christmas can have a gift from someone who loves them. 

I cannot think of a greater call than to give to others. As disciples of Jesus Christ, it is expected of us to give what we can to further the work, to increase the love of Jesus Christ in the world, and to build up Zion. What can you give, brothers and sisters? What can you do to show that light of Christ that I know is in all of you?

This year, the Church released a video called A Savior is Born. The Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, God of Israel, the Christ was born for us so that we could have a Savior to break the bonds of death and release us from captivity. He was born to help us. He was born to uplift us. 

He was born to give. 

What were you born to do, brothers and sisters?

Have a great week, and a merry Christmas! 

Godspeed!

- Sister Rose 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Winter Wonderland?

Happy December, everyone!

Sister Matealona and I have decorated our apartment for Christmas with as much as we can. (Thank you, Kelly, for the lights and the tree and the window things!) People around Hattiesburg, Oak Grove, and Purvis have lights all over their lawns and houses. I've noticed that Purvis people seem to want to pile every decoration they have into their lawns to see who can have the most stuff for Christmas. So far, one of my favorites has been someone who lives nearby us that has a rather large and prominent light display of, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS."

In-town Purvis decorates for Christmas with "MERRY CHRISTMAS" signs strung between trees, angels attached to lamp posts, and tinsel candles hanging from stores. Purvis is very quaint and country; it makes Christmas feel very different, especially since we haven't gotten any snow or hardly any cold weather! It's been pretty warm this week, and I start sweating wearing my lighter scarves. (Maybe I should stop trying to force the weather to be what I want it to be and just accept it ;]). 

The ward members here have been trying to make us feel warm and loved this season. We had investigators give us some delicious fruitcake. That fruitcake was absolutely life-changing, everyone. Just sayin'. The ward members basically fought over us for Christmas and Christmas Eve, so some people are having us over before and afterwards so they can celebrate Christmas with us, too! I feel so blessed to be here, and to be in a ward that loves its missionaries so much! 

We had Zone Conference this week! Elder Kopischke, one of the General Authorities came to speak to us. Usually, a Zone Conference is just a single Zone gathering to hear from the President. However, because we had a General Authority coming, the Zones of Gulfport, Hattiesburg, and Jackson all converged and gathered at the Oak Grove building. This meant that I got to see my mission grandma and my mission mom -- Sisters Garry and Harrison! I was so excited! Especially since this is Sister Garry's last transfer. :( I was also able to see a bunch of other missionaries I served with in Jackson, along with others I knew from the Gulfport Zone, like Sister Winkel! I was so excited. 

Elder Kopischke is amazing, just so y'all know. He told us to ponder and write down a few questions as directed by the Spirit. These were questions we might have had about ourselves, about investigators, missionary work, etc. I had quite a few. He then invited us to ask these questions. "You cannot learn if you aren't prepared to learn," he said. "So, what are you prepared to learn today?"

We heard from President and Sister Olson, and talked with Elder Kopischke. The Spirit was so strong in that meeting. I learned so much. I suddenly knew everything I needed to do better; I knew exactly what I needed to do for my investigators, how I could improve my finding, how I could improve myself as a companion. I needed that Zone Conference, and I'm sure plenty of other missionaries did, too. 

Ever since this Conference, I've been able to be more in tune to the Spirit. Multiple spiritual moments have happened this week -- from small answers to my prayers, to finding and teaching efforts rewarded after weeks of finding nothing. For instance, we decided to tract along a main road that had houses spread out across it. Most of the people who lived across this road owned farms and ranches, and probably didn't get too many knocks at their doors. With no sidewalk and plenty of ant mounds to dodge, Sister Matealona and I happily made our way along the road, trying our best to find a house with those who were prepared to hear the message we bring. 

And we found some. 

The lesson we had was amazing. We were teaching three brothers, all attending a church and all very insightful. While teaching about the Restoration, they understood points of doctrine before we even said them. Right then, I knew the Spirit was teaching, not us. I am so grateful to be able to be an instrument in the Lord's hands and give people the evidence of the Restoration of the gospel, and to give them the fulness of the gospel. There are so many good people out there who need the fulness, and I know we are here to bring it to them. 

The Christmas season is a wonderful time for service, for family, friends, and the love of our Savior. This month, my heart has been overjoyed with the love my Savior has for me and God's children. I have been rather strongly prompted to read in Doctrine and Covenants, and every time I do, I always find scriptures that impress me. For instance, in Doctrine and Covenants 98, verse 3, it reads, "Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name's glory, saith the Lord." 

I'm always reminded of the Savior's love for me. Peace fills me whenever I think about it. He is my Savior, my Rock, my Salvation. I love Him so much, and He loves me more than I can comprehend. We have a Heavenly Father who gave His Only Begotten Son so that we could live again and be free and be happy! What a selfless cause! I am so happy to be able to serve a mission for my Savior. I know I have been called of a prophet of God; I know I am doing the Lord's work. This is what He would have me do. I know it. There is no greater work we can do than bring souls unto Christ. 

I am so happy to be a missionary. I am so glad I'm here in Mississippi. This is a wonderful place, and I am so blessed to be here. 

What blessings has the Savior brought to you this season? How has Heavenly Father expressed His love for you this week? 

Remember the Savior in all that you do, and you will be able to see Him right there, walking beside you, far better than you ever have before. 

Have a blessed week, friends. 

Godspeed!

- Sister Rose 

Sister Matealona washing the car in the dark. With a mop. And a flashlight in her mouth.

BEST SIGN #SouthernServin'


Our tree with all the presents :) Thank you, family. And thank you "Santa" who sent those presents to Sister M!

This dog's name is Frankie! He's so sweet! He tried to kill our car while we drove away! Aw!

Monday, December 7, 2015

So Much To Do!

Greetings from the University of Southern Miss! 

This week has been totally NUTS. Since it was transfer week, Sister Matealona and I have had to scramble around to get me settled in to a brand new place. We have quickly discovered that there just aren't enough hours in the day for us to do everything that we need to. 

Even so, I am loving Purvis! My new district is very different from my last one; we have less missionaries in it, and they're new people, so they're definitely different! My district consists of Elder Stokes and Elder Lovell, who are in Purvis with us. Elder Lovell comes to us from Guyana! He's a lot of fun, and rather obsessed with cricket. The other two elders are Elder Petersen and Elder Dubosz, who are actually Spanish-speaking! We have a Spanish Branch at the Oak Grove building, so they get to help out these members and travel all over the Zone to help teach Spanish-speaking investigators. I am so grateful to have these wonderful elders in my district! 

As a quick tangent, usually when I type up these e-mails, I have my journal open in front of me so I can recall everything that's happened this week. However, with transfers and how much Sister M and I deeply enjoy talking way past our bedtime, I only have two entries! Ha! It's making it rather difficult to remember everything, but I am doing my very best. 

This week, we helped the Oak Grove Stake put together and run a Christmas nativity event. This event included dozens upon dozens of nativities donated by people in the ward on display and presented with flickering, electronic candles and surrounded by gorgeously lit Christmas trees (also donated by a member who actually owns a tree farm!). On the stage was a live nativity, where couples played the parts of Mary and Joseph, coddling little baby Jesus while the visitors ogled at the nativities. 

In the chapel, the Stake President told the story of Jesus's birth, and introduced musical performances by people in the stake. One of my Zone Leaders ended up playing the piano for everyone, actually! (Awesome job, Elder Stanford!) They were all beautiful performances, especially the finale put together by a local Methodist church. This choir, combined with some members of our stake, sang beautiful Christmas hymns and truly invited the Spirit to the event. It was gorgeous! 

My companion and I did different things on both nights of the event. The first night, we worked in the Old Bethlehem Marketplace. This was a hands-on area for kids, where they could write or draw something they'd give to baby Jesus on His birthday. We'd then roll it up and tell them to keep it under their Christmas tree as a reminder of their gift to Him. These kids came up with the most adorable things! Some of them said they'd give Him money, while others said they'd "give Him a hug" or "love." I remember one girl very carefully spelled out "hope" on her piece of paper and happily handed it to us to roll up and tie. 

This touched my heart. It reminded me of 3 Nephi 17 in the Book of Mormon when Jesus Christ is blessing the children. Christ blessed every single one of the children of the Nephites and He is so touched and is so consumed with love for them that He cries. Jesus Christ truly has a special place in His heart for little children, who are so innocent and close to the Spirit. They don't even realize it sometimes, but they are. We all have a tendency to grow away from our Father in Heaven as we get older. While some of us may be aware that He's there, we struggle to feel Him, and feel the influence of the Savior in our lives as we are tossed to and fro by the waves of the world. It's terrifying, to be carried away in that. How scary is it to think that we, just like these children, were so close to our Heavenly Father and by our own choices and influences of the world drew away from Him ever so slowly?

This makes me think of Peter when he went to his Savior on the water from his ship. In Matthew 14, we read that Peter "was afraid" and "beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me." The next verse has one word in it that strikes me: immediately

Immediately, the Lord reached out and caught Peter. Immediately, the Lord helped him and raised him up. Immediately -- without hesitation or second thought, the Savior stretched forth His hand and caught this fearful disciple and with love in His voice He said, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"

In a world of tossing waves and stark confusion, we must always remember never to doubt the fact that Jesus Christ will always and immediately stretch forth His hand to catch us when we are drowning in the raging seas of trial, temptation, and affliction. He will always be right there, ready to help, if all we do is stretch forth our hand and ask. 

With the Christmas season rounding the corner, remember the Savior's role in your life. Just as we had given thanks to our Heavenly Father and all He's done for us this past Thanksgiving, don't forget that Christmas is a season for Christ. This is the time to remember why the Savior was born for us, why He came to this earth, why He even bothered with such a wicked people! We are His brothers and sisters; we are children of God and all He wants to do is help us! How amazing is that?!

Give thanks to your Redeemer, your Rock, your Giver. He gave His life for you. It still astonishes me just how much our Savior suffered for us. His suffering began long before He was nailed to the cross. Remember what He's done for you, and now think of what you can do for Him and for your brothers and sisters, whether they be followers of Christ or not. Your Heavenly Father loves them just the same as you. 

Give. Serve. Do all you can to invite the Lord's light into someone else's life by giving your time to another. Show your love this Christmas season by giving the gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and understand what He would have you do. 

Have a wonderful week, brethren and sistren! 

Godspeed!

- Sister Rose 

A nativity on display

Another nativity

The live nativity set!

Old Bethlehem Marketplace! (Well...half of it.)

Some of Purvis


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

New Area!

Hello from Hattiesburg, Mississippi! Sorry this e-mail is coming on Wednesday; we had no time to e-mail on Tuesday!

Two things from this week: I had scuppernong juice and learned that "white elephant" parties are called "dirty Santas" down here.

As you can already tell, I've been transferred. It's not unheard of for new-ish missionaries to get transferred after they're done training, but it is possible...especially if they close your area! Which is, sadly, what happened to Flowood. 

Saturday night, Sister Harrison and I received a phone call from President Olson. He said they'd decided to close Flowood and give it to the Pearl elders. This happened for many reasons, but we know everything happens for a reason. The investigators we had in Flowood will be split between Brandon and Pearl; those people are now under their jurisdiction, and we trust them just as the Lord does. 

We spent the entire weekend packing up our apartment, saying goodbye to members, and cleaning. We made it to the Clinton transfer point, hopped onto our transfer vans, and went to our new areas. Sister Harrison is proudly serving in Picayune down in the Gulfport Zone! And I have been happily stationed in Purvis in the Hattiesburg Zone with Sister Montealona! She is the SWEETEST! We've been companions for less than a day, and I know she's going to be a fantastic companion! I can't wait to see what we'll accomplish here in Purvis! 

One thing I've noticed is that miracles always happen the last week of a transfer. People are more receptive; they happily set return appointments; they're more interested in the Book of Mormon. It's so cool! The Spirit is so strong then, and it really makes you so happy to be able to end on a high note. Even if baptisms don't necessarily come out of the seeds we planted, we still planted. You cannot have a harvest if there are no seeds in the soil. In John 4, verse 36, we read, "And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that he that soweth and he that reapeth shall rejoice together." 

I think oftentimes people look down on missionaries who may not have accomplished many baptisms on their missions, or did not achieve any. While baptism is crucial, and most definitely a necessary step toward salvation, it is not the point of a mission. A mission is a time for a person to serve the Lord, however and wherever the Lord may guide them. You may hand out a hundred Book of Mormons and not a single baptism will come, but I will guarantee that somewhere in there, someone was touched. Maybe not immediately -- but maybe their kid finds that Book of Mormon lying around, reads it, and discovers the truth. That wouldn't have happened had you not been there.

Missionaries serve all kinds of purposes on a mission; they are all united in one desire: to invite others unto Jesus Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel. Heavenly Father recognizes their efforts and loves each and every one of them. Do your best to help out your missionaries, too! The Lord recognizes all the seed-planting and reaping you do, too. 

I want to bear my testimony on the Book of Mormon, and how it is the proof of the Restoration of Jesus Christ's church on the earth today. Missionaries all around the world are handing out copies of this book and inviting others to read it, so that they might know their Savior and what He wants for them. I know that the Book of Mormon changes lives; it gives others the desire to change and be clean and closer to their Heavenly Father. I know that this book is the most important book on the earth today, and I want all I meet to have the opportunity to read from it and allow their hearts to be changed by the Spirit of the Lord. 

I know that this is the true Church. I am so excited to share this with the people of Purvis! 

Sorry for the short e-mail! Godspeed!

- Sister Rose 

Sister Harrison and Sister Rose

Sister Harrison and Sister Rose

Turkey Bowl!

Bro and Sis Turner~! 

Sis. Martin! 

The MJM sign on the Brandon building! 


Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy Holidays!

HAAAPPPYY THANKSGIVING, ALL! The fall weather has hit Mississippi with all its tornadoes and everything! Oh, man, it's awesome! Sister Harrison and I woke up to text messages and phone calls from three different members in our ward telling us to hide in our bathtub because tornado clouds (there's an actual name for those, but it escapes me) were forming by our street. We squeezed into the bathtub for about forty-five minutes until the members told us it was safe. It was quite the adventure! Don't be alarmed! We were safe; the funnel didn't touch down and nothing was destroyed. Everyone is safe! :) 

Everyone is much kinder around Thanksgiving and Christmas. People we talk to are more inclined to hear our message, and they are also happier to refer us to their neighbors and friends! Neat, right?!

While a bunch of our investigators are out of town until after Thanksgiving, there are still many people we can find and teach here in Flo. The Lord has been able to bless us with finding just the right people at the right time, as well as making sure we have unplanned days -- because Sister Harrison has been sick as a dog! 

I mentioned that in my last e-mail. She's since gone to the doctor and discovered she has a respiratory infection. She's received antibiotics, and is now making a speedy recovery. I have to brag about my companion for a moment: she's been so sick that she should probably not be out and about everyday; she's hardly been able to talk because of her throat and cough, and her nose has been stopped up and clogged, making it hard for her to do much while we tract. Despite everything working against her, she's still been able to wake up at 6:30AM everyday, go tracting, teach, and train me. We've been blessed with members who allow her to crash at their place for a while, while I work with the Sister Training Leaders in Jackson. Even so, she's still trying to work hard and show the Lord how much she cares. I am so blessed to have a companion like her! 

She and I have been doing our best to focus on the member-missionary work in the ward. I've said this many times before, but members are key in missionary work. Preach My Gospel has numerous quotes on the topic. Some of my favorites include, "Member-missionary work is one of the greatest keys to the individual growth of our members. It is my conviction that member-missionary work will raise the spirituality in any ward where applied" (President Ezra Taft Benson, 1985-1994), and "That is your mission, my brethren and sisters of the Church, that is your responsibility. Freely you have received and our Heavenly Father will expect you freely to share with His other sons and daughters these glorious truths." "We will attain our exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom only on the condition that we share with our Father's other children the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and observe the commandments that will enrich our lives here and hereafter" (President George Albert Smith, 1945-1951). 

Although members may not wear name tags, we all carry the responsibility to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all of God's children. You have come to know of the truth of the Gospel, and now it is your duty to share it with your brothers and sisters. By doing so, you not only bless others, but also yourself and your spirituality. Do not withhold from your lost brothers and sisters the blessings that have been poured out onto you from your Father in Heaven. Do not doubt the power that your testimony has. Do not believe you cannot make a difference. 

By believing you can change someone else's life and placing faith in your Heavenly Father that He will help you, you can and will find someone who is ready to hear the message of the Restoration. They are out there; Heavenly Father is just waiting for you to find them. 

There are also some precious gems hidden within wards that are very willing to do missionary work, but don't know how! Many times this week have Sister Harrison and I been prompted to call or text a member to go to an appointment with us, and on each occasion they've needed to go with us for a specific reason -- even if it wasn't that they needed to go with us! For instance, I felt prompted to call a member in our ward who greets us every Sunday. We didn't know him or his family very well, but we gave him a call. While he was unable to come to our appointment, we discovered that his phone number had changed and that he was eager to come teach with us. We asked when he would be able to, and he responded, "Any time, as long as you give me some warning. I have a flexible schedule!" 

This was an answer to our prayers! Ah! We were so excited! We love our members. Getting them out to teach with us is a challenge since most of them work or have children or are simply very busy. So, finding a member with the desire to serve and a flexible schedule was a serious miracle! 

While I've been writing, the thought of a visit we had last night keeps coming to mind. Sister Harrison and I went out teaching with a woman in our ward. The appointment we'd had fell through, and all of our backups weren't home. A little disappointed, I asked Sister Harrison who should be our last attempt, and she suggested a less-active family we'd visited many times before. They're an awesome family, but we aren't sure why they don't come to church, nor have we ever been able to teach in the environment of their home. Hoping for the best, we went to their home. 

They welcomed us in, but they were overrun with company and one of the kids was having his birthday party. Albeit awkward and unsure of what to do, the mother in the household told us to sit while she chatted with a friend. We looked to the member we'd brought with us and hoped she was okay with this, and she seemed just fine with the situation. Sister Harrison and I weren't sure what to do with all the noise and commotion...but then, things worked out. 

The less-active woman began chatting with our member. They talked and suddenly, she asked that her son pause the television as they talked -- which has never happened before. The member we'd brought with us was able to find out why this woman no longer attends church, and knew how to begin helping. I was so amazed! As missionaries, we don't always know what to do in situations like this when a person doesn't need a lesson or a message, just someone to talk to. We cannot always pick up on that, but this member could. 

You members are so crucial to helping others. Please share the gospel with those you know. Help out your missionaries and ask how you can help the missionary efforts in your ward. The Lord will bless you for your efforts. I know that the Lord watches out for you, and sends you promptings to help your fellowmen. Be humble and gracious, willing to act on the gentle promptings you receive -- and you will be blessed. 

Have a happy Thanksgiving, all! I'll be spending it with the Relief Society president this week! 

Godspeed! 

- Sister Rose

#TractingInMississippi

Sister Garry left us messages in our showers and on our mirrors...




Monday, November 16, 2015

What a Weird Week!

Hello!

It's a little difficult to remember what happened this week! Missionary Standard Time is so different from a regular week's time. It hardly feels like a P-Day today, and Sister Harrison agrees! 

It was Elder Beckstrom's birthday this week! He's 20! This elder is one of my Zone Leaders, and he's very good at his calling. Thanks for being an awesome ZL! #ZLBeckstromFace

We had a lot going on this week. We had a fantastic Monday last week! My mission grandma, Sister Garry says that the key to a great week is to have a good Monday. I can attest to this. Sister Harrison and I had an absolutely splendid Monday; we were able to go shopping and we got to teach three lessons in one night! It put us in a fantastic mood for the rest of the week. It also allowed Heavenly Father to bless us more than He usually does. 

We had quite the trial this week; Sister Harrison is really sick! She's been off and on getting better and worse, and now it seems like she's slowly getting worse. We've talked to Sister Olson (the Mission President's wife), the Zone Leaders, the Jackson STLs, and members from our ward for advice on what we can do to help her. Let me just say that Sister Harrison is an outstanding missionary. She hasn't used this sickness as an excuse to stay in the apartment and do nothing; she's been out working. She's been doing her best to exercise her faith in the Lord and still do the work in Flowood. She's wonderful -- but she still needed some rest. ;) 

We talked to the STLs, and we ended up doing a bit of an exchange with them. One of the coolest ward members ever allowed Sister Harrison to spend the day resting at her place while I spent the day in Jackson with the Sister Training Leaders. It was a blast! Sister Garry and Sister Moffett are the best; they really do a great job taking care of their sisters. They've consistently helped us this week with this, and they've been ready to come help us work in Flowood, too, so Sister Harrison can work on getting back to 100%! What a blessing these sisters are! 

As I reflect on this week, I realize how the Lord has placed us in the right places at just the right times so that we can share the gospel with the people in Flowood. We've met some seriously, spiritually strong people whose hearts are softened towards us as we share our testimonies of Christ and His gospel. I recall this one woman we met who squinted at our name tags, and she touched her heart and said, "You have Jesus Christ on your badge. That speaks volumes." 

If you look at a Latter-day Saint missionary's name tag, you'll notice his/her name and then just below is the church logo, which proudly displays the Savior's name in large print. We place this name tag just above our hearts. It is the Savior's name that has drawn many to the restored gospel. Sister Martin, the Filipino less-active we meet with every Sunday, often professes of the beginning of her conversion, which started with noticing the Savior's name on our name tags. That woman we met knows we are representing Jesus Christ, and she even told us that she felt that. She happily talked to us about Christ and the gospel, and I know that we've planted a seed for her that will grow and flourish. 

We've been able to do the same with plenty of other people. I know that there are those who have been prepared to meet us. It can sometimes be discouraging when you don't have someone stepping into the baptismal font, but the work is far more than that. Often throughout the week, I have to remind myself of Alma and Amulek (also known as the best missionaries ever. They're kind of my favorites...) and their trials as a companionship. It begins in Ammonihah, after Alma has been preaching in Melek and baptizes quite a few people. The people of Ammonihah were having none of what Alma had to say. In Alma chapter 8, verse 10 reads, "Nevertheless, Alma labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer, that he would pour out his Spirit upon the people who were in the city; that he would also grant that he might baptize them unto repentance." 

This is something tons of missionaries do everyday. I've certainly done it. Alma was sure that his prayers and his faith would allow for copious amounts of baptisms in Ammonihah, and that the people's hearts would be softened toward the gospel. But if we continue reading, we learn that the people continued to have "hardened hearts" and figured they knew everything Alma had to say; they knew who he was and what he did; they didn't belong to his church and had no interest in anything he had to preach. 

Alma was heartbroken. They spit on him and forced him out of the city. He was discouraged, upset, and confused. But in that moment, an angel of the Lord came to him and said, "Blessed art thou, Alma; therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou has great cause to rejoice; for thou has been faithful in keeping the commandments of God from the time which thou hast receivedst thy first message from him." He is then commanded to go back and preach in Ammonihah. 

I'm sure Alma was a little afraid. These people just spit on him and cast him out of their city; they hated him. They didn't want him there, but the Lord did. So, he went back -- and he found Amulek, a Nephite who was prepared to receive Alma and his message. The Lord gave them power to prophesy and call people unto repentance, and thus began one of the greatest missionary companionships in history. 

That might be a little dramatic, but I do sincerely love Alma and Amulek. They're powerful missionaries, and we have been able to use their example in our missionary work. With an attitude like theirs, we've been able to find people who are sincerely ready to hear the restored gospel. We can teach these people; we can help them; the Lord's love will be poured out onto them, and all will work out. 

How is your missionary work progressing? What discouraging things have kept you from progressing in the gospel? Trials come and go; it's how we endure them that decides our divinity. 

Be strong and of good courage, everyone! It's been a good week! Know that we've been blessed in Flowood with wonderful church members, a large area, and wonderful children of God to teach. 

Have a great week! Godspeed!

- Sister Rose 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Soldiers

Goooood morning, all! (Or afternoon, or evening. Whenever you're reading this.) 

Here's a joke an Episcopal man told us on his doorstep (he told us many jokes, but this is the one I remember) after he'd said he wasn't interested: 

"Where you find four Episcopalians, you'll find a fifth." 

Do you get it? Because he had to explain that one to Sister Harrison and me. 

This week I've developed a newfound love for pistachios and persimmons. A less active woman we see every Sunday has a persimmon tree outside of her house, and she plucked a few off for us sisters and gave them to us. She's so sweet! And so are persimmons. :)

It's kinda chilly here in Flo! My jacket is getting some good use, and so is my umbrella. It looks like we still haven't recovered from the hurricane yet. But that's okay! It makes for great door conversation. For instance, Sister Harrison and I were tracting this week and were trying very hard to ignore the impending doom that was the storm clouds rolling in overhead. I stuffed my umbrella into my bag and regretted not bringing my coat with me, especially since it began to pour while we talked to a man on his doorstep. 

This man was clearly not interested. He was babysitting his grandson, and was very happy with his church. Every time I opened my mouth to say something that would allow us to move on to the next house, Sister Harrison would cut in and ask about his work, what he does in his spare time, if he does family history, etc. I finally began trying to give her the look that says,We need to go! But then it occurred to me that she was asking questions to keep us out of the rain! 

I tried really hard not to laugh, and failed after the man closed the door and we were left with a wall of rain to walk through. We tried to share my little umbrella, but that offered little protection and we ended up getting soaked! It was the most fun ever! I loved it! I laughed the whole way back to the car. Sister Harrison was less amused, but what else are greenie companions for?

We ended up taking refuge at the Griffins' home nearby. They're a really sweet family in our ward who truly spoil us. We huddled under my umbrella on their doorstep, and Sister Griffin answered the door with a huge smile on her face. "Hi, y'all!" she said, and soon her smile faded into horror as she saw our soaking wet skirts and hair and she immediately began to wave us in with a, "Oh my gosh." She then gave us towels, and we happily spent the evening with them. They took us out to dinner to this tiny barbecue place that had the Ten Commandments on stone tablets on display just outside. It was awesome.

Don't worry, Mom. The members take care of us! 

There is a lot out here trying to push the work back. I'm sure it's this way for all missionaries, and we know this is how things are when we choose to accept our calling as missionaries. Members of the Church are fighting a battle. We have been waging a war against Satan since before we even came here, and the battle is growing harder and tougher with every passing day. Satan knows what he's doing; he's done this for centuries. He knows how to twist and tempt God's children to turn away from Him, but it's up to us to realize the part we play in the battle against him. 

If we refer to Alma 2 in the Book of Mormon, we read about the Nephites' struggle against the Amlicites and the Lamanites, who are of a greater number than the Nephites. Concerned for the welfare of their people and the goodness of their faith, the Nephites turn to God in this time of trial and tribulation as they march into battle at the river Sidon. In verse 28, we read, "Nevertheless, the Nephites being strengthened by the hand of the Lord, having prayed mightily to him that he would deliver them out of the hands of their enemies, therefore the Lord did hear their cries, and did strengthen them, and the Lamanites and the Amlicites did fall before them." 

How cool is this! The Nephites were outnumbered -- and I mean crazy outnumbered! The scriptures describe the quantity of enemies as being as numerous as the sands in the sea! But no number is greater than the power of God. Heavenly Father gave the Nephites insurmountable strength and courage so that they could overcome their enemies and protect their home. The same can be applied to us fighting for righteousness in the latter-days. While we are not literally putting on armor and wielding weapons, we are still representatives of Jesus Christ. We are still God's children, appointed to fight for what is right and trust in the Lord. 

The world is turning, brothers and sisters. The world is twisted and confused in so many ways. It's so easy to fall into doubt, but don't doubt what you know to be true! And if you do, doubt that! To quote President Uchtdorf, "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." Faith is the foundation of everything. If you are struggling with your faith, look to God. Pray. Look for answers. They're there, as long as you earnestly seek them and listen to the Spirit. It might be hard -- and more than likely it will be -- but that's what makes it worth finding. 

Refer to Mosiah 7, when King Limhi is reassuring his people, he says, "O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made. 

"Therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice, and put your trust in God, in that God who was the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; and also, that God who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, and caused that they should walk through the Red Sea on dry ground, and fed them with manna that they might not perish in the wilderness; and many more things did he do for them." 

Trust in God and what He's taught you. Trust in what you know, and be comforted in the fact that your Father in Heaven is aware of your fears, your questions, and your doubts. But in order to answer them, you must have faith and act. 

I know that the Lord has prepared people for us missionaries to teach. I know that we have to find them through faith and the guidance of the Holy Ghost. We've already been led to a good handful of people whom Sister Harrison and I know the Lord has entrusted us with. They are our brothers and sisters, as you are to us, and we are going to fight to bring them closer to the Savior and help them discover their divine potential. 

Don't stop believing in miracles; know that they still happen today, and I see the Lord's hand at work everyday in Mississippi. The people here are loving and kind and willing to listen, but I'm sure there are also people like that where you live. 

Who can you touch with the gospel today? What truths are you struggling with? What more do you need to know and do to be a better disciple of Christ?

Ask your Heavenly Father. Be a light and an example. Be a beacon, and others will be drawn to your light. 

Have a good week! Stay warm!

Godspeed!

- Sister Rose 


 This was from Halloween, actually! It was pouring rain so we thought it was time for a selfie 

We made another friend while tracting! 

We found a cool tree at a park

Me creepin' on Sis. Harrison

We were in this cool nature park in our area. It's so beautiful here! 

Do I need a reason for why I took this photo?

Sister Dewitt in our ward straightened my hair!

But the humidity made my straightened hair not so straight... 


Monday, November 2, 2015

So much rain!

Greetings! 

It's still very wet in Mississippi. It's rained all week, and the weather was nuts on Halloween! 

I'm sure plenty of you may wonder what Halloween is like for missionaries since we can't dress up or go trick-or-treating (...if only). We have to be inside by 6:00PM, either in our apartments or with a member. For those of us in the Brandon district, there's this really cool family in the ward who invited all the missionaries over for Halloween! We got to eat pizza and chat and play some weird games. Sis. Harrison got some really hilarious videos! The missionaries in our district are really awesome; this transfer is going to be amazing! 

With the rain as crazy as it was, Sister Harrison and I weren't sure how we were going to get all of our tracting done. (Each week, the missionaries have to reach a minimum of 7 hours of tracting!) We tracted as much as we could everyday, and at the end of each day, we'd count how many hours/minutes of tracting we'd accomplished. 

On Thursday night, I was counting how many hours of tracting we'd done that day. By the time I was done, I was laughing because we'd done 6 hours and 59 minutes of tracting! WHAT! What a blessing!

This was especially a blessing while we were doing our weekly planning session on Friday. Over the past few weeks, we've collected a ton of business cards and phone numbers from people we'd talk to about service in the community, so we'd decided to call all of them and ask what could be done! We called the library and the Chamber of Flowood, and neither of those had any service we could do at the moment (the people at the Chamber of Flowood were really busy, too. They said we can keep trying back though!), so we then called a guy who was the Head of Parks and Recreation for the city of Flowood. When he answered the phone, we told him who we were and what we do and we asked if he had any service we could help with. 

Immediately, he told us about this alternative to trick-or-treating they were hosting at the park nearby. A bunch of vendors and whatnot were going to be there, and he asked if we wanted to pass out candy and set up a booth to share our faith with people! We were so shocked! He told us to go down to the park and find the Maintenance Manager and ask about setting up a tent. So, we immediately got our shoes on and rushed down to the park, where we met the nicest people ever

Rodger was the guy we were supposed to talk to about the whole thing. He asked if we had a table and a tent and chairs. We said we had none of those things, so he let us use one of the extra sets they had. Some really very sweet female inmates from the local prison helped set it up right in front of us, and then Rodger asked if we needed a generator! We said no, and thanked everyone. 

We then had about three hours to get everything ready. This involved running to teach a wonderful woman we see every Friday who has been a member for a year. She always offers such a wonderful testimony of the gospel and is always so fun to talk to. We taught her for about an hour or so, ran to Wally World to grab some candy, and then drove to the mission office in Brandon to grab a bunch of media supplies -- like copies of the Book of Mormon, pamphlets, pass-along cards, DVDs, Bibles...everything! The missionaries in the office are so kind! 

We spent the entire evening handing out copies of the Book of Mormon, answering questions about it, and handing out pamphlets. The people here are all so kind. I'm sure I say that in every e-mail, but really. People in the south can be so generous and loving, especially if you are doing something to spread the love of Jesus Christ. I know what we did at that little shindig was so important for some people who came to the booth. The Book of Mormon is a powerful book. It is the keystone of our religion and the most important book on the earth today. It testifies of the Restoration; it is evidence of the Restoration. It is truth of God's love and the Savior's restored Church on the earth that you can hold in your hands. 

And we gave that to so many people. 

Do you have a testimony of the Book of Mormon? As a person who grew up in the Church, it was always just a part of everyday life. The story of Abinadi was as familiar to me as the story of Noah's ark to everyone else. I assumed everyone had this; everyone knew this; I didn't understand that the Book of Mormon was precious. It's a holy book from our Father in Heaven, just like the Bible. But, as I've been introducing it to people and talking about it and really spending time with it, I've grown to truly love the message it shares and understand how important it is. 

Read the Book of Mormon. Read it with a purpose; reading to read never got anyone anywhere. Read with a question in mind -- what can I do to be a better person? How can I help those around me? What can I do to help? 

Any question of the heart and soul is a question the Book of Mormon can answer. I challenge those reading this to select a question about the gospel, about themselves, or anything in their heart and try to find it in the Book of Mormon. I know you can find it if you are sincerely, earnestly seeking it. It will come to you, and the Lord will bless you. 

Another thing I have noticed from this week is that teenagers are seriously the bomb. I love them. They're always so willing to learn more and ask questions! We met a few this week who truly want to strengthen their relationship with their Father in Heaven. I firmly believe that God put us on their front doorsteps to share our message with them so that they can feel a closer connection to Him and realize that they aren't alone and that there's a brighter, bigger, better future for them. I know that helped me a lot when I was that age; I needed the gospel, and I strongly feel like they do too. 

I would also like to tell you that I have a seriously awesome companion. Sister Harrison works so hard to be a good missionary. She's always seeking answers to her prayers and asking Heavenly Father for ways that she can improve. She is always trying to lift me up, and I know that her being my trainer was an inspiration from God. She's taught me so much, and I'm still learning. She's honestly the best, and I can't wait to see what else she accomplishes in the nine months that she has left on her mission. 

I think that's all for now. I'm sure there's more, but I always forget (even though I write it down...). Remember to love one another, brothers and sisters. As Christ said to His disciples, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." We are all struggling on the path back home to our Heavenly Father; we are all doing the best we can. Uplift, don't drag. Love and embrace; don't crush and diminish. Those you see are as much of a loved child of God as you are; remember that. 

Have a wonderful week! Godspeed!

- Sister Rose 

Here are some pumpkins a ward member carved at the trunk or treat! 

Monday, October 26, 2015

And the Rain Came Tumbling Down....

Ninety-eight percent of the time, I forget all the things I wanted to tell y'all when I sit down to type out my weekly e-mail. I swear exciting stuff has happened here in Flowood! 

It's super rainy, for one thing. Sister Harrison and I were totally shocked yesterday when it rained constantly for a solid 24 hours. One of the ward members said a hurricane hit (hurricane Patricia?) and we were getting the excess rain and wind. It's so weird hearing that, like we should have totally known about it! We had no clue! So, it's very rainy all across the mission. Sister Harrison and I are being safe, and all is well in Flowood, so no worries! 

This week was transfer week! I mentioned that in my last e-mail, I think! We now know our new elders: Elder Cole, Elder Smith, Elder Bledsoe, and Elder Call! Elder Cole is now a Zone Leader with Elder Beckstrom. He's super great! Elders Smith and Bledsoe are whitewashing Pearl! They're a pretty great pair, and it's rather comical to see them standing next to each other. Bledsoe is 6'7" and Smith is 5'6", so seeing them next to one another always makes everyone smile. We also now have a brand new missionary! I'm not the greenest greenie anymore! That baton has now been passed to Elder Call, who comes to us from Payson, Utah. So if his mom finds this, hello. :) He and Elder Gilbert seem like they're doing a great job in Forest! I can't wait to see what these new elders will accomplish!! 

This week, Siser Harrison and I have really discovered how truly kind the ward members are. A lot of them go above and beyond for the missionaries. Sometimes when appointments fall through and it's too dark to tract, we end up dropping in on a member's house. Given, we text or call them first, but they're always so kind and let us teach their family a lesson! 

We also had a member named Sister Traxler who we'd asked a few weeks ago if we could simply practice teaching her a missionary lesson in her home. She said she may as well feed us dinner, which we hadn't expected. We went over, and she'd made chicken enchiladas, tacos with all kinds of toppings (or "fixins" as all we talk to call it here), brownies with chocolate chips and fall-colored M&Ms, and lemon squares. She even put them all in disposable baking pans so we could pack them up and take them with us when we were done. What a sweet woman! 

We've also had ward members bake bread for us, send us home with bags of candy (since it's Halloween time), and send us with most of their pantry, we're sure. I can't believe how selfless these people are.

I'm always amazed by the hospitality here. A lot of people aren't too keen on us Mormons knocking on their doorstep, but a lot of them are also very kind and very enthusiastic about us doing the Lord's work. 

We met this woman tracting the other day. She told us she was moving, so she apologized for the state of her house. We told her it was fine and asked if we could help her move. She laughed and thought we were kidding or that we were just being polite, but we're never kidding when we offer to help! That softened her a little, and she looked so touched! She invited us in and gave us some water. She then asked if we'd eaten. "We ate lunch today," I'd said. Without missing a beat, she replied, "Yes. And it's almost four o'clock." We paused and weren't sure how to respond to that, so she went and grabbed us something to eat and asked us about our missions and what we were doing. 

I want to bear testimony on service. There's always an opportunity to serve someone. I've learned that asking, "Is there anything we can do for you?" is always followed up with a, "No. I'm fine." So, we've been doing our best to ask, "What can we do for you?" 

I've realized that people always need help. There's always yard work to be done, something to be cleaned, a message to be shared, a hand to be extended; everyone is in need of some assistance, and if you're reading this and saying you aren't, reevaluate and try again. God has placed us amongst our brothers and sisters so we can support one another. We are not here to travel the road along the straight and narrow path alone; we are here to help one another follow Jesus Christ and His example -- and He would help everyone

My challenge to you this week is to find someone to serve. Send them a card; bake them some cookies; pay them a compliment; take their groceries inside -- someone needs your help this week, so pray to have the eyes to see them. 

In serving others, Sister Harrison and I have seen the Spirit touch them and soften their hearts. Service blesses others in ways you couldn't even imagine! For example, we were teaching a less-active woman that we see every Friday. She can't come to church much because of her health problems (of which she has many, but she's a trooper); she gets around on a walker and is mostly dependent upon oxygen. While we were visiting, one of the women from the Relief Society walked in and held up something that looked like a carrying pouch. She smiled and said, "Hi! Sorry to interrupt. I made this for you after seeing you at church today. I saw you putting things on your walker, and that didn't seem like a very good way to carry things. So here, this just drapes over the front and ties to the legs, and it has pouches so you can put stuff in it!" 

The woman we were visiting was astonished. She thanked the member, and said, "What on earth compelled you to do that?" The ward member just smiled and said, "I felt like you might need it." 

That touched me so deeply, and it touched the woman we were visiting, too. That is the kind of selflessness I think we should all have; the want to take time out of our day to do something nice for someone else. If Christ could do it all His life, we can do it for a little while. 

There's one more experience I want to recount before I head off. Sister Harrison and I were participating in Harvest Day this past Thursday. We usually park our car at the library and bike down to the neighborhoods and houses along the road. We parked our car as usual, and after we got the bikes down from the rack, we said a prayer to open up our tracting time. When we said amen, we hopped onto our bikes and were about to pedal off when a man -- who had been sitting in his car with his windows down, smoking -- called out to us and commented on how we took the time to pray before we went away on our bikes. 

We went over and talked to him and just shared with him our purpose and what we do. We asked him about church, and suddenly the Spirit began to push on Sister Harrison and I. I felt the need to bear my testimony of the Savior and the Atonement, and so I did. I saw something in him change, like a flicker of an emotion I couldn't identify. Sister Harrison gave him a pamphlet about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he gave us his address so we could come by and teach him and his wife. His wife was kind, too, when we got to meet her. She came up to the car and introduced herself and said it was alright that we could come by. 

One thing I've noticed is that I speak more clearly when the Spirit is working through me. That moment right there is a testament to me that we are instruments in the Lord's hands. I can't take credit for any of the work that I do; the talents and the motivation that I have come from the Lord, and He knows what we need to do in order to hasten the work. I know He put us in that parking lot at that exact time for a reason, and I know that reason was to meet this man and his wife. 

I am so thankful for my Heavenly Father and all He does for me. I am so thankful for my brothers and sisters, and for those who the Lord has chosen to place around me so that I may know how to become a better missionary. I know I am doing the Lord's work, and I know this Church is true. It is the true Church; that I can promise. 

Godspeed!

- Sister Rose 

WE FOUND THE CITY OF FLOWOOD SIGN
I try to capture all the photos of the fall colored trees I can :) 

#AwkwardHarvestDaySelfies
I FORGOT TO MENTION THAT WE RODE A HOVERBOARD THIS WEEK. One of the ward members is a physics professor at Hinds, so he had his students build a hoverboard :)