Monday, June 27, 2016

The Seafood Capitol of the World (....not anymore, though.)

Gooooooooooooooooood morning! How is everyone this lovely June day? It's rather rainy here on the coast! Which means it's about to get super humid, too. I'm so excited! Sweating is so fun!

(I hope you can sense my sarcasm through those little letters.)

We've had a very busy week! Sister Abril and I have been battling a cold, which happens in the summer since we're jumping between incredibly hot and humid outdoors to extremely cool and chilly indoors all the time. We're doing swimmingly now! Even though we had some congestion, we were blessed to be able to bike this week after giving the car to the elders. I've learned many a-trick for keeping my skirt from flying up while biking, and I'm now the master of getting on and off a bike in a skirt, too.

Sister Abril and I have far more opportunities to talk to people when we're biking. People are always walking around Biloxi, which makes it easier for us to stop them on the street and talk to them about the gospel. I feel that Heavenly Father puts more people in our path when we're out walking with His children. For instance, on Sunday, Sister Abril and I were extremely busy with stake conference and branch meetings, putting us working in our area around four o'clock instead of one o'clock. That gave us four hours to teach people before dinner. That's plenty possible when you don't have to weekly plan -- but we still had to do that! That cut down our time to an hour, maybe.

We walked to an apartment complex nearest to ours so we wouldn't have to take our bikes out. After having no success tracting those, we gave out hefty sighs and turned back. We were determined to teach one other lesson, but both of us felt that we needed to head home.

On our way back, we ran into a man who'd been drinking. He admitted it to us when we saw him, too! He paused and asked, "Are y'all witnessin'?" We told him yes, we were! He then asked if we were Jehovah's Witnesses, which we get asked quite a bit. After explaining who we were, we offered to share a scripture.

Now, sharing scriptures to drunkards is a missionary's favorite pastime. Many missionaries have great stories of sharing little lessons to those who are under the influence, but this man wasn't too far gone, and he told us he would "make time because it was the Sabbath." After sharing a scripture, he told us to visit a girl he worked with. He told us her name, and so we now plan on going to see her.

God helps you achieve your goals, even if those goals are achieved through a place least expected.

This week, we were also able to have Zone Conference. The entire Gulfport Zone gathered at the Gulfport building, ready to receive revelation for ourselves, our areas, and our investigators. I love Zone Conference. There's a special spirit whenever we have one; all of us come in our best clothes (not tattered by bicycle chains or stained from dinner appointments), our cars washed and prepared, our spirits and minds ready for revelation. We're all ready to help one another, and I think that is really what brings a spirit of unity.

We learned about prayer, the Holy Ghost, our mission culture, and repentance. All of these topics had a spirit of their own, but one that impressed me in particular was repentance.

In a lesson with an investigator this week, we emphasized heavily the doctrines of faith, repentance, and baptism. This was our third lesson with this investigator, and Sister Abril and I wanted to really get somewhere with him.

"What would you do," I asked, "if you came to know that these things were true?"

Our investigator looked puzzled. "What do you mean?" he asked.

"If you received a witness from the Holy Spirit that what we're teaching you is true; if you felt in your heart that the Book of Mormon was the word of God, and if you knew that Joseph Smith had really been called to be a prophet -- what would you do about it?"

His confusion grew. "I gotta do something about it?"

Of course you do! As I've been serving, I have learned that many people don't seem to notice that the gospel is a gospel of action! We Mormons have this weird misconception; it's a twist of doctrine that I hear quite a bit while I'm out. People tell me that you don't have to do anything to receive Jesus Christ's love; you don't have to do anything to be saved; you don't have to "work to get to Heaven."

Well, partly true. I am a firm believer in grace. It is by grace we are saved, after all we can do (2 Nephi 25:23). A lot of people have a problem with that. It isn't that we think we have to do a million things to receive our Savior's grace and blessings -- no! He wants to bless all of us, of course. And He has. If you believe in the resurrection of the dead, you know that all will be resurrected. Paul teaches this to Felix in Acts, that there will be a resurrection of the "just and the unjust." That is made possible only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We are not subject to the bonds of death because of His atoning sacrifice for us. That is a work of grace, and we are saved from physical death in that way.

However, we all know that you must repent of your sins and be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost to receive a remission of your sins. After all I can do -- after all the remorse, the praying, the reading, the serving, the sacrificing that I must do to repent, the only person who can make up for the parts that I lack; the only person who can give me forgiveness is my Savior. That is not a disputable doctrine; that has been taught by our Savior Himself. When we as missionaries are asking those we teach if they will do something about it, we are asking them to do just that -- to repent and be baptized.

Jesus Christ's gospel is a gospel of love and action. Faith leads to action; when you have faith, then you know that you can do anything through Christ. But you must do. Jesus Christ asked His disciples to cast aside their nets and follow Him; He exhorted the multitude to be humble, to be meek, to love one another; He has taught to act, to go to church, to read the scriptures. He is asking us to take action. He always has, and He is still doing so.

 It is a commandment to change. To repent is to have a change of heart and mind (see the Bible Dictionary). This gospel asks us to act so we can change and become more like our Savior. If we are not changing, then are we really doing anything at all?

The Atonement is there to help you change. Christ's grace is there to help you change. He did not die so you could lie back and do nothing; He died to make the path He's asked us to walk easier to bear, so that we can make it to the end, carried in His arms.

Thank you for all that y'all do. I'll talk to you next week!



Sister Rose

I hve my camera back now :)

On our way to district meeting, a friend popped out on our car! And stayed there the entire time!

The district! It's taken forever for us to get a photo...but here we are! In this photo we have (from left to right): Row 1: Sister Abril, ME!, Elder Tenifa, Elder Godfrey Row 2: Elder Castrejon, Elder Hughes (holding the camera), Elder Paxton, and Elder Ah Ching.

These are the weirdos who've had my camera (Elders Castrejon and Paxton)

(see next caption)

These are things that are always up around Biloxi. I have no idea what the alligator's for, but the shark is for my favorite place ever: Sharkheads.

Actual, necessary signs.

(see next caption)


 #Truth #ButCocaColaIsBetter

....why, Elders?'re from Idaho.

Why, Elder Paxton?

I am so funny!

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Little Blue Book

Hello, friends and fiends! I have to apologize ahead of time because I don't have my camera with me today. Elder Paxton and I are doing a camera swap, so I only have the random photos we've taken on his camera! Whoops! Stay tuned for a plethora of photos next week!

Sister Abril and I have officially moved into a new apartment! Moving is rather odd as a missionary; we move very quickly, and we have very little items. Missionaries only need a certain amount of furniture, and most often, our furniture is from thrift stores and Goodwill and the like. With the elders' help, we piled everything into a small trailer (thank you, Elder and Sister Reynders!) and unloaded all of it at the new apartment.

That was a long, sweaty day! But we're finally settled, and we are now officially located in our proselyting area. We now don't have to bike down a mile-long bridge to get into our area! :D

This week has been a rather odd mix of events. I've learned how to change a bike tire and repair flats; I have tried pears with mayonnaise and cheese; I've discovered that God places you just where you're supposed to be; elders are sneaky, and payback is eminent; all kinds of people live in all kinds of places; and people have that darned thing called agency.

To choose the right thing is hard. To know that it's the right thing is even harder. When preaching the gospel, I have a hard time not grabbing a person by the shoulders and shouting, "I KNOW YOU'RE FEELING THE SPIRIT AND SO DO YOU! JUST SAY YES! IT'S TRUE!" But, alas, that is not how missionary work works, nor is it how Christ would want us to proclaim His gospel. In a gospel of love and patience, the Lord asks His servants to exude those attributes.

It becomes increasingly difficult to be those things when you are struggling to answer the questions of people who just aren't getting it. When you've explained the same concept at least twelve times in six different ways and they still aren't getting it, you try and grasp for what little patience you might have left and have to resist the urge to pack up your things and walk away. But, people learn differently. What comes out of my mouth makes sense to me, but that doesn't mean the person I'm teaching gets it! A mission is certainly teaching me to be understanding and gentle, but I know I have the Spirit's help when my words aren't quite enough.

Sometimes during a lesson, an investigator will ask a certain question, and all of a sudden a story, a person, or a scripture will come to the front of my mind. I remember sitting across from a man at this kitchen counter. I had my scriptures in front of me, although they hadn't been cracked yet during our discussion. He had many questions, all of which centered around children, why God "lets" bad things happen to them, and so on. He wondered why bad things happen to good people, and why God doesn't protect good people all the time.

I immediately threw my scriptures open to Alma chapter 14, when Alma and Amulek witness believers in Christ being burned alive for their belief. In this story, we learn of exactly why bad things happen to believers and why people who are proclaiming the gospel get injured or even die.

As I read that story to him, he went silent and pondered for a moment. He nodded his head, and said, "You've just got an answer for everything, don't you?"

We laughed, but I knew it wasn't me who had the answers. It was our Heavenly Father, our Savior, and the Spirit -- and the Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon is what answers the questions of the heart and soul. The Bible definitely answers the questions of many -- who was Christ? What did He do? What should I do to be saved? And many more. But, we cannot say that the Bible answers everything. There are gaps. Holes. Missing pieces that were lost during the Great Apostasy. But, these pieces are found in the Book of Mormon.

What did Christ mean in the book of Matthew, when He told John the Baptist that he was being baptized to "fulfill all righteousness"? We can find the answer to that question in 2 Nephi 31. What happens to the soul between death and the resurrection? We can find the answer to that in Alma 40.

The true doctrines taught by Christ are found in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon; both work together to complete His gospel, and we have both so we can better know what we need to do to be able to live with our Father in Heaven again.

I have not yet found a single question of the soul that the Book of Mormon can't answer. As people throw questions and scriptures at us, there is always something hidden within the sweet verses of ancient prophets that tells me just what that person needs to better understand the gospel.

This gospel is true, brothers and sisters. If you have a question about the gospel, crack open the Book of Mormon, and I know the Spirit will need you to exactly what you need. There is not a question that cannot be answered through sincere study, scripture, and prayer.

Seek, and ye shall find. You can find your answers in the little blue book -- of that, I promise you.

I hope y'all have a good week!



Sister Rose

Monday, June 13, 2016

Short Emails Are Terrible!

Hello, all! I'm afraid this has to be short. We are in quite a rush, and I have an influx of e-mails!

It's been a really great week. We've had some good times in missionary work. Sister Abril had a bucket of cold water dumped on her after she lost a bet! We discovered that flying termites are the literal devil. I have learned much about listening to the Spirit and what drives it away. I have been blessed to have all kinds of insights about myself, my area, my investigators, and the future.

We had a Zone meeting this week, in which we learned all about the Spirit, what He is, how we can listen for the still, small voice and so on. Our Heavenly Father is always prompting us and always trying to direct us, but we have to make the choice to follow His counsel -- and sometimes, that's the hardest part.

I've learned that the Spirit is a very simple thing. The Spirit will not dwell in places that are not worthy of His presence. If you are gossiping, unnecessarily angry, vengeful, the Spirit will not reside with you and will not want to.

But, if you are uplifting one another, trying to be kind, serving, and doing your best, the Spirit will come and fill you with light. I am grateful to be surrounded by people who are striving to be better disciples of Jesus Christ, and who are following Him to the best of their ability.

We all have shortcomings. We can't always be perfect -- in fact, we never can. The only perfect one is Jesus Christ. We are led by a prophet today, President Thomas S. Monson, who has been called of God to guide us in these latter days. I know that Jesus Christ leads him, and that we need modern revelation in times like these, where the world is pushing us to and fro.

I know the nature of the Godhead. I have the opportunity to talk to those who have been taught that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are one being. I would like to testify that they are separate, individual beings who are one in purpose. Whatever Christ would do, Heavenly Father and the Spirit would do. You can phrase that sentence in any way, and it would be true. They work together to bring about God's eternal purposes. Christ is the Only Begotten Son, and He was chosen to be our Savior.

God loved us so He sent His Son. I know that Jesus Christ lives, and I know that He is walking beside us as we work. I know this work is the work of God, and I would not want to be doing anything else.

I have a testimony of God's plan for us. I know that this plan is simple and loving, that God is aware of our troubles and afflictions. This is why we have Christ; He is the center of this plan, and I know that through Christ, through the authority of God, families can be together forever.

I know that my Redeemer lives. I know that I was sent to Mississippi for a truly holy, magnificent purpose.

Sorry for the short e-mail, my friends. I will be a little better next week!

Love y'all!


Sister Rose

Monday, June 6, 2016

Hurricane Season!

Hello, all! No, we haven't had any hurricanes. Y'all can rest well knowing that! But, it is rather rainy in Biloxi right now! I can't say that I enjoy southern rain; out west, the rain is cold and refreshing. The world feels cleaner after it falls. Meanwhile, in Mississippi, the rain brings a thick blanket of humidity, like the whole state is sweating. It also comes all at once rather than in gradual buckets; one moment it could be beautiful and sunny, and the next it could be pouring sheets and sheets!

In other news, it's our bike week! We get the car back on Wednesday, but for right now, Sister Abril and I are reliant upon our trusty bikes. I'm getting a great workout everyday, and I'm learning my area faster than I would have in a car!

However, a problem with being on bikes is being unable to hide from the rain. One day, while we were pedaling around the coast, we looked to the sky and noticed that it was becoming gray and menacing. We quickly decided to book it home, and we raced through Biloxi's sidewalks as thunder growled overhead.

I thought this was going to be a wonderful thrill. I wanted to prove we could beat this storm before it beat down on us. I was determined to get home perfectly dry -- but it seems that Heavenly Father had another idea.

The rain began pouring not even a mile into our trek home. We quickly swerved underneath a bank's ATM drive-through. We sat on the concrete and took some photos while we waited for the rain to let up. I was grateful to have a shield from the rain, although I knew we'd have to start biking again eventually.

We are also blessed to have kind elders who gave us a ride home, though. Thank you, elders!

Sister Abril and I have been trying to work our hardest to maximize the Biloxi area. I am blessed to have a companion who is willing to talk to everyone, loves everyone she sees, and seeks to work according to the needs of those she teaches. She has an amazing gift for diligence, and all she desires is to bring others closer to Christ. I am so grateful for her, and I know she's going to do great things in the future! And for right now, she's especially going to do great things for Biloxi!

This week, Sister Abril and I have been focusing on setting someone with a baptismal date. Whenever we ask a person to be baptized, we set them with a goal date; a day for them to have in mind to be able to take all the lessons, gain a testimony, and feel ready to be baptized by the correct Priesthood authority.

We have one particular investigator whom we met tracting that we both felt needed a baptismal date. She's the sweetest girl ever, with a big heart for her family and for God. From the moment we met her, she's told us that our visits leave her feeling happier, better, with more energy. And at this past lesson, we had the opportunity to take a couple of Young Women with us.

Their testimonies filled the room with the Spirit. They bore solemn witnesses of the scriptures, that Heavenly Father loves us, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Our investigator had a huge smile on her face, and she told us that everything we said just "felt good." I couldn't help but smile, too. The Spirit was strong, and everything seemed to just be going perfectly.

In her dim house, decorated with baskets of to-be-folded laundry, photos from her childhood -- in a place that already invited the warm embrace of the Spirit, we invited this lovely woman to be baptized.

And she said yes.

My dearest friends and family, prior to this momentous occasion, Sister Abril and I had been inviting others to be baptized at doorsteps; in every conversation we had, we tried to steer it to baptism. While that is not the end result, it is a necessary step on the path to eternal life. I am here to give people the greatest they can achieve, not the minimum they already have.  I am here to offer them the greatest gift God has to offer, and they cannot accept it if I do not offer it to them.

At church on Sunday, one of the girls we'd taken with us walked up to the pulpit to bear her testimony like we tend to do on fast Sundays. While she nervously fiddled with her hands, she told the congregation of the experience she'd had at our lesson, and she then announced, "I've decided that I am going to go on a mission."

My heart warmed, and I couldn't stop smiling the whole day. What a blessing! Even if our investigator doesn't get baptized; even if things don't work out the way we'd planned, a girl is going to serve the Lord when she turns nineteen. She needed to feel the Spirit to make that decision.

All things happen for a reason, brothers and sisters. I know that we are placed in the paths of others for all kinds of reasons; we are their friends, their family, and their teachers. We are here to offer them celestial blessings, and they are relying on us -- and you -- to help them get there.

I know that my Savior lives. His Church has been restored to this earth today, and that Church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know that the work in which we are engaged is the most important work on the earth today. There is nothing I would rather be doing than serving the Lord.

How can you serve Him this week?

I love y'all. Have a good week.



Sister Rose

This is Gigi, the dog of someone we're teaching. She made a home on Sister Abril's bag while we were teaching!

We did service for a family moving out and the elders got a little carried away with paint! (Elder Paxton and Elder Hughes)

(Elder Paxton and Elder Hughes)

Rain, rain, rain!

Rain, rain, rain!