Monday, April 25, 2016

Happy Confederate Memorial Day!

Missionary Lingo: 
Drop: to no longer have a person as an investigator; to "drop" them from your list of people you are teaching/want to teach 

Hello, all! Did you know that that was a thing? Because I didn't! I don't have any idea what's being remembered today! 

What a week it's been! Our beloved new car had to be taken to Firestone this week, so we spent an entire day on foot! Thank you, Sister Blalock, for your kindness in driving us where we needed to go. You're the best! 

While we were limited on where we could travel due to our car being held hostage, Sister Barney and I did some serious evaluating to the Purvis Sisters area. This area has been worked and worked; houses have been knocked upon; people have turned us away; they've seen us before, and they have no desire to see us again even though we keep insisting on sharing our message with them. 

We stared at our whiteboard full of investigators, potential investigators, less-actives, and referrals, looked at one another, and prayerfully decided to drop everyone

Okay, well, not everyone, but most everyone. 

Sometimes, you just have to do it because no one is progressing. When you've been trying the same people for a transfer and a half, the Lord impresses you to try something else, to start fresh, and begin anew. 

We prayerfully selected those who we felt had the potential to progress, and kept those who were almost there. We'd decided to give a few people a couple more visits to decide if they need to be dropped or not. 

Upon visiting these people, we ask our Heavenly Father to make it aware to us if we need to keep teaching them or not. And when you ask, you shall receive. 

We tried one investigator, with whom we actually had an appointment. She wasn't there, and as we walked away, we tried not to let our heartbreak get to us. She'd been one of our favorite people, and sometimes, the only thing you can do to dull the pain of an investigator falling out of your hands is to walk on to another house where someone might be waiting for you to knock. 

We went and saw another investigator, and the Lord also impressed us to drop them. With heavy hearts, we trudged back to our car. But, as we came closer to leaving, we felt impressed to leave a pass-along card in the former investigator's door so she knew we'd been by. 

On our way to do so, she came out of her house, said hello to us, and said she'd been out of the house when we came by! She then let us in, and we proceeded to talk for about three hours. 

When we left, I felt a gentle nudge of love from my Heavenly Father. He'd heard our prayers, and He led us to her exactly when He needed us to be there. 

If there's one thing I've learned in Mississippi, it's to trust in the Lord's timing. There are many scriptures, talks, and devotionals on this topic, but trusting in the Lord's timing is one of the hardest things we can do as His loved children. It's hard to remember that our Heavenly Father has the grand scheme in mind; He can see past our present worries and into the bounds of eternity where our true happiness lies. He urges us to make the right decisions to better our eternal happiness -- but we have to trust that not everything will happen the way we want it to; our plans might be good to us, but our Heavenly Father has a greater plan in mind. 

I had never imagined I would be sitting here, wearing a name tag, willingly restricting my contact with family and friends for eighteen months. In the years leading up to my third semester at BYU-Idaho, I'd told myself as I watched friends open mission calls to France, New Hampshire, Brazil, and the like, that a mission wasn't meant for me; it would be too hard; that's not where the Lord needs my talents. 

Yet, I distinctly remember sitting in Sunday school, waiting for it to start after I'd attended sacrament meeting with my roommates. They were all chatting, and amidst the noise of college laughter and meaningless conversation, an overwhelming (and I mean overwhelming) feeling came to me, and with it, a voice said, "Pray about serving a mission." 

Now, when I say a voice, I do not mean a literal voice, but it was a thought that was not my own. It sent my heart racing, my mind churning, my stomach dropping. A mission? My family hadn't planned for that. My grandpa had been diagnosed with a rare and lethal cancer. I was in counseling for depression and anxiety. I was focusing on my education. My life was not conducive to serving a mission. I wasn't ready for this. I didn't know the first thing about missionary work, and the Lord was asking me to pray about it?

I'm reminded of Joseph Smith's inquiry about which church was true when he was a teenager. He'd consulted the scriptures, and in it, he'd come across James 1:5, where we read: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that given to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." 

In Joseph Smith--History we read Joseph's description of the spiritual prompting that hit him after he read that verse: "Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart." 

While my experience has not quite amounted to the result of Joseph's, I understand what he meant when he said that that verse entered with "great force into every feeling of [his] heart." This spiritual prompting I'd received hit me like a truck, and I could do nothing to ignore it. I tried reading my scriptures, making food, doing anything in my power to ignore praying about something I did not want to do. But, it would not go away; the thought was in the front of my mind until I found myself kneeling by my bed, surrounded by the gentle quiet of a Sunday afternoon, asking my Heavenly Father what to do, much like Joseph did in the Sacred Grove.

I remember kneeling there for quite some time, being unsure what I was supposed to do and how I was to make this decision. Nothing dark came over me like it did Joseph, and no pillar of light appeared like some part of me hoped it would. But, I was left with a phrase at the very tip of my tongue, and as I said it, peace washed over me, and I began my journey towards becoming a missionary: 

"I will go and I will do what thou would have me do, Heavenly Father. I know that You will find a way for me." 

I was quoting Nephi at that point, remembering the Primary song that ran through my head when we would talk about his determination to retrieve the gold plates from Laban. Suddenly, I knew where my Heavenly Father wanted me. The following talks at General Conference that weekend only confirmed the spiritual guidance I had received, and I went on my way to start my mission papers. 

And here I am, in Mississippi. 

I would like to testify to all of you that God has a better plan for you. No plan I had before could compare to this amazing opportunity I have to serve my Heavenly Father. You might not have the boyfriend you want, the job you desire, the house you want, or anything like that -- but the Lord has so much more in store for you. Study, pray, ponder, sacrifice, and you will see blessings that you never could have imagined.

The Lord has blessed me and my family infinitely since I made the decision to serve. I know I am supposed to be in Mississippi here and now, and there are people here for me to touch. 

There are lives for you to touch, too. You are here to change yourself and your brothers and sisters. Be changed in Christ so you can help others do the same. 

Remember the enabling power of the Atonement; through Christ, you can do anything

I love y'all. Have a great week.



Sister Rose 

Elder Paxton found a mustache and so I just... 8{

Name tag photo shoot!

Look at this dog, smiling for the camera!

:D We take too many selfies! :D

Miss'ippi is so green!

Miss'ippi skies!

My companion during our dinner hour, modeling for "A Labor of Love." 
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Monday, April 18, 2016

Have You Found The Dragon Egg Yet?

Good morning, all! Sister Barney and I are enjoying this glorious sunny Monday at USM, and we are preparing for a Zone P-Day today! Hurray!

This week has been pretty funny, honestly. Sister Barney and I had the privilege of trying Koolickles -- pickles that have been pickled in Kool-Aid. 

For the record, they're delicious. I regret nothing. 

While having dinner with a member, one of them said that one of her friends thought that when we leave on missions for the Church, we are on a hunt for our "dragon eggs." 

Ah, yes. The dragon egg. I've waited my whole life for this quest.

I will find you. 

We have added Elder Davis to our egg-seeking district, and he came out with me! He's a hoot. We've all been adjusting to the slight changes President Olson has made, and we're all enjoying the finicky weather Mississippi has to offer. One day, it could be completely wet and overcast, and the next it could be like today -- bright, sunny, and breezy. 

On a particular wet and overcast day, Lamar County had a "Clean Up Lamar County Day." You had to go to a community center either in Purvis, Hattiesburg, or Oak Grove and sign up, receive a trash bag and a grabby-claw-thing, and pick a street to clean up. Elder Eells, Elder Davis, Sister Barney, and I all picked a road in Purvis and spent the morning cleaning it. We had so much fun! We found some cool stuff on the side of the road (Sister Barney found herself a nice spoon! That's the second one she's acquired), and we had a great time bonding with each other and Pappy, the Lamar County worker who watched over us and made sure we didn't get hit by cars. 

Nothing brings more peace and joy than being in the service of others. God grants peace to those who seek to better the world around them. Whenever we are hurting spiritually, the best thing we can do is turn outward, and give what we can to relieve the anguish of another. In turn, the Lord will bless you with the love of the Spirit, and an increased capacity to withstand the hardships that come your way. 

God gives us all kinds of reinforcements for hardships. He has given us the Holy Ghost, to guide us when we need him, and for those of us who have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, we have that companionship all the time as long as we are worthy. He's given us the scriptures, which I have come to love with all my heart. You can learn so much from the scriptures: from the progression of Paul, to the miracles from the missionaries Nephi and Lehi. The scriptures contain the answers for everything. 

Speaking of Paul, I've learned so much from him over the past couple of days. Paul was not a good man, much like Alma the Younger. Both were out to destroy the church, to arrest Christians and persecute them. Paul was Jewish, and a strong one at that. But he then had a vision from the Lord, and the Lord chose him to preach the gospel. 

Why would the Lord pick these people to preach? Alma the Younger was a sinner. Paul held the coats of those who stoned Stephen. Both of them were not going about doing good; they were fighting against Christ and His followers -- until they were touched by the Spirit, and they both experienced miraculous changes of heart. 

Both Alma and Paul threw themselves into the work. The moment they were called, they decided to be chosen. They thrust their whole souls into the work; they put both feet in line with Christ's and aligned their will with God's. Although both experienced extreme trial and tribulation, nothing stopped them from being bold and happy, and holding to the truth they knew. 

Throw yourself into the gospel, brothers and sisters. Don't do something halfway; we didn't come here to only make it halfway! If you know that you can do anything through Christ, why not do anything for Him? Plant both feet firmly on gospel soil. Be not moved. Push forward with faith. 

Do not be a lackluster servant. Be a Paul; be Alma; be the change God sent you here to be. He sent you here not only to be changed, but to change the world around you. 

Have a good week, brothers and sisters. Do not be afraid of the good you can do. 

Love y'all!



Sister Rose 

Selfie with the STLs!

Our new district! From left to right: Sister Barney, Sister Nash, Sister Bartsch, ME!, Elder Pierre-Louis, Elder Paxton, Elder Davis, and Elder Eells!

Miss'ippi Landscape!

Clean Up Lamar County Day with Elder Davis! :D

Sister Barney and I are hardcore!


Sister Barney and I take entirely too many selfies!

Purvis missionaries UNITE!

lder Paxton is literally Spiderman #BadIdeas

Monday, April 11, 2016

Guess Who Is Not Getting Transferred?

(Me. The answer is me.)
Missionary Lingo: 
District: a group of three or more companionships assigned to an Area. For instance, I am part of the Purvis District, which consists of the Purvis Sisters, Purvis Elders, and the Spanish Purvis Elders. 
Zones: a cluster of districts in an Area. For instance, I belong to the Hattiesburg Zone, which is based around the Hattiesburg stake. 
Stake: taken from terms in the Old Testament, a "stake" is a cluster of wards (which are just local congregations), which refers to covering God's children with a "tent" (since you hold down a tent with stakes) so that they can be brought into the fold of God.
Transfers: when missionaries are moved to a new area every six weeks
Good morning, fellow citizens! It's a beautiful, cloudy day in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and the mission is buzzing with the new transfer policies and changes to the mission. Effective this transfer, the Clinton and Jackson Zones will be combining into one Zone! The H'burg Zone will also be absorbing the Meridian district and the Bogalusa elders. Welcome to the Zone, y'all! 
As for transfers, we used to have our Preparation Day on Tuesdays during transfer week. Those being transferred would consequently lose their P-Day, as it takes forever to get anyone anywhere in the MJM. If your area was close (as I have been lucky to have close areas), then you would have time to grocery shop and get settled in, but if you're going across the mission, then that's another story! 
President Olson has changed this policy, so now Mondays will always be our Preparation Day. We will receive transfer calls on Monday morning instead of Saturday night, so we would then use our P-Day to pack and get ready to be transferred. We would then be transferred Tuesday morning. Those companionships who are not being transferred at all will then have a regular P-Day on Monday and resume regular missionary activities on Tuesday. 
Sister Barney and I are not being transferred, though! Sadly, we are losing our dear District Leader, Elder Chase, who will be transferred this week. We won't know where he's going until he gets there! 
The Lord blesses me with a lesson every week. I'm constantly learning about the Spirit, the true gospel, and people in general. But, this week, I was studying a BYU Speech given by Jennifer Paustenbaugh entitled, "When Your Bow Breaks." She bases the entire speech around the story of Nephi and the broken bow. 
I will tell this story for those who haven't read it. In the Book of Mormon, we read in 1 Nephi 16 that Nephi, a righteous man and his brothers, Laman and Lemuel have found themselves hunting in the wilderness for food for their families. They have a lot of mouths to feed between their parents, Lehi (a prophet of God) and Sariah, the sons and daughters of their friend Ishmael, and their wives and children. They have a lot to handle! 
So, equipped with a steel bow and arrows, Nephi goes into the wilderness to hunt with his brothers, who are armed with slingshots. Things were going great; the Lord had provided plenty of food, everyone was happy -- until Nephi's bow breaks. 
A bow can supply far more food than a slingshot can. Would you agree? With no way to obtain food, the families begin to starve, and they then begin to blame it on Nephi and the Lord. Even Lehi begins to murmur -- that's when you really know it's bad. 
But, despite his afflictions, worries, and strife, Nephi crafts a new bow out of wood and makes himself arrows from sticks. He then goes to his father and asks where he can go to obtain food. Humbled, Lehi prays unto God for guidance, and Nephi is then able to feed his family again. 
It's so much better if you read the story, but we can learn a lot from Nephi and his response to his afflictions. When have our bows broken? Lemme tell ya, if I were to make a score of music for a mission, it would be measures and measures of endless bow-snapping and strings breaking. Things go wrong all the time; plans do not go the way we want them to. This isn't much different from regular life, where what we envision in our brains is not what happens in reality, much to our dismay. The Lord lovingly hands us trials, and we are left starving, lost, unsure, and without our bow. 
I've pondered this parable for a while. I thought of our responses to our trials; I've watched how investigators respond to their trials, how companions, members, and people we find respond to the things that completely turn their lives around. As humans, we tend to want to give in to our "natural man" (Mosiah 3:7) and wallow in self-pity, allow ourselves to bask in the darkness of worry and depression because sometimes searching for the light in darkness is simply too hard. We often want to take the easier route, stay in our comfort zones, when the Lord has blessed us with an opportunity to learn and grow if we but choose to respond to our trials in the right way. 
In this BYU Speech, Sister Paustenbaugh mentions the steps we must take to make it through our trials, such as: praying, asking for help, reading the scriptures, and -- the one I would like to emphasize -- to have a positive attitude. President Uchtdorf admonishes us to have an attitude of gratitude in whatever stage of life we are experiencing. I like to take a leaf out of Nephi's book after Lehi died. If we read in 2 Nephi 4, we are able to read Nephi's Psalm, where he writes, 
"Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard. 
Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. 
I am encompassd about because...of the sins which do so easily beset me. 
...nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.
Nephi did not ignore the problems he faced, and Nephi had a great many afflictions, brothers and sisters. Nephi has always been an example of great faith, diligence, continual prayer and love and reliance on the Lord, and most of all, honesty. He is honest with himself and with those of us reading: he aches. Sin, affliction, and trials hurt. The bow might hit us in the face when it breaks; our fingers might bleed on the string; we may lose a good arrow. Trials do not hit us lightly. They were not meant to. 
But we have a loving God who desires our greatest happiness. He asks us to be happy even in times of trial, for that is the true test: to smile when it hurts, to serve when you need others, to be more selfless in light of selfishness. You have a choice to make -- do you become like Laman and Lemuel and sit around, complain, and curse the Lord for what He's done? Or do you respond like Nephi -- do you pray, do you study, do you ask for help, do you try and make more out of what you have and know that the Lord will pave a way for you? Do you press forward in happiness, knowing He has your back every step of the way?
We frequently forget that our Savior has walked these paths before. We are walking through old footprints. He has walked this path when there were none before Him, no imprints to follow. He had to press forward with faith, to be loving, to be selfless, to make the way for those of us whose crosses are bearing down on our backs and we can't seem to see His tracks anymore. 
He is there when our bow breaks, brothers and sisters. He is there to help us put it back together, make a new one, and find what we need. All our Heavenly Father asks of us is that we rely on our Savior, Jesus Christ, and do our best; be happy in times of trial, for you will then have a taste of the eternal, godly happiness to come. 
It's been a good week, brothers and sisters. I'm learning a lot about choices, about love, about charity. You must love others when you can't seem to see them as the child of God they are. 
Be happy, everyone, and remember Who is there for you. 
Love y'all. 
Sister Rose 
We had ZTM this week, and I got to take on last selfie with my beloved Sister Thompson! Have a great mission, girlie! 

Mississippi has its beautiful moments



 That awkward moment when you find a myriad of random potted plants missing their pots in the middle of the wilderness...


[screams about horses!]


 That awkward moment when you find a myriad of random potted plants missing their pots in the middle of the wilderness...

Our district before transfers!! (Right to left: ME!!, Sister Barney, Elder Pierre-Louis, Elder Eells, Elder Chase, and Elder Paxton.)

 *tries to take selfie with Elders* *only Elder Pierre-Louis notices*

Monday, April 4, 2016

Conference Greetings!

Missionary Lingo: 
Prophets: men holding the authority of God, called of God to receive revelation for the world (for example: Moses, Noah, and Abraham) 
Priesthood: the power of God; the power and authority to give blessings, heal the sick, cast out demons, and baptize.
Dispensation: periods of time when God has called a prophet

Good morrow, brothers and sisters! 

April is one of my favorite times. The sun is shining in Mississippi, the fire ants are in full fighting force, and the world is covered in a thin layer of yellow pollen. I love it! It's exhilarating! 

Sister Barney and I have been having a grand time lately. She and I take many photos, and we are constantly talking. She's becoming such a great friend! She's a fantastic teacher, who has so much experience and knowledge of the gospel. She invites the Spirit in every lesson, and I so sincerely love that about her. We've been teaching and working, discovering new ways to teach, and growing closer as time goes on and the transfer comes to a close. 

That's right! We're at the end of the seven-week transfer! Next Tuesday will be T-Day, so if I somehow get moved from Purvis, y'all will know! 

(Also, here's a shout out to my mom's boss, Gillian! Love ya! Thank you for all the support! My mom will miss you, I know!) 

Sometimes I think I know almost everything about the gospel, and then the Spirit comes to me and gently whacks me upside the head and hands me a question that troubles my soul. Questions are a marvelous thing. Our Heavenly Father never discourages us from asking questions. He wants us to study the gospel, to know it, to question it, so that we can come to a better, fuller understanding of the plan He has for us. 

This weekend, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held General Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. At General Conference, the world has the opportunity to hear messages spoken from the mouths of inspired men and women called of God, and they even get to hear from our modern-day prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, who holds the same Priesthood keys as the prophets of old. I am grateful to live in the last dispensation. I read in a BYU speech the other day that those of us living in the last days are God's most powerful runners; we are here, chosen to come to the earth at this time because we are His strongest children. We are here to run the race and win for Him. 

At General Conference, we have the opportunity to receive revelation for ourselves through the Holy Ghost. Isn't that exciting?! I always like to come to Conference with an arsenal of questions that I have prayed about, so that I know that these are the questions God has prepared for me. At the October 2014 General Conference, I had the question in mind, "Should I serve a mission?" That question was answered multiple times within the first session, and now here I am, testifying that God does answer our questions, and that those answers are for our benefit. 

The questions I asked at this Conference were not exactly as life-changing as that one. They were more personal, full of worry of a little kid going to ask her dad a question and being concerned for the answer. 

Since serving in Mississippi, I have been taught of my Heavenly Father's love multiple times. As I sat through hours and hours of talks and music, I felt an increasing love in my chest for my Father in Heaven, and then an even more overwhelming feeling that I have a Savior who loves me and wants me to do my best. 

I think we sometimes forget that all God asks of us is to do our best. He honestly just asks us to do good, nothing spectacular. To help us do good, He's given us Jesus Christ, whom I mention in almost every letter home. I want to stress the importance of Christ, brothers and sisters. He is my Savior, my Lord, my Redeemer. He is the light at the end of our darkest tunnels; He is the warmth we yearn for; He is the pathway back home. 

Heavenly Father wants us to come home. If there's one thing I learned from General Conference, it's that God has provided us with everything that we need to return back to Him. We have prophets, apostles, restored Priesthood keys, scriptures, temples, and a Savior who gave His life for us. 

I can't really explain more than that. All I've felt that I should share with you is that Jesus Christ loves you. He has literally engraven you upon His palms. When He sees His scars, He sees you. He feels you. He feels the hurt, the anguish, the turmoil you feel. He knows it. He's been there. Multiple times have I had to remind myself that Jesus Christ is right beside me. When my chest tightens, when it's hard to breathe and the world's noise suffocates my ability to feel love and comfort, the memory of the Atonement comes to me. 

You can study the Atonement as much as you want, but you can't know if its fullness unless you use it. Christ did not die so that you could ignore what He did. He died to fix you. He died so that when you break into a thousand pieces, He would be there to slice Himself on your pieces as you put yourself back together again. 

This e-mail may be short, only because I think all I can ask of you this week is to utilize the Atonement. Let the Lord encompass you in His winds, and let Him carry you home. 

Let Him love you, brothers and sisters. He is there for you. 

He loves you.

And I do, too.



Sister Rose 

Sister Barney poses by a flooded creek
:D Companionship selfie!
Look how green everything is!

Our porch got only slightly flooded 

we went to the most darling deli with the STLs! It's called South Mouth, and it's super great. A+! 10/10!