Monday, September 26, 2016

Orange and Growing?

Hello from Orange Grove, Miss'ippi!

Nothing makes me love being a missionary more than going to knock on a door, hearing my companions scream and run before I raise my fist to knock; then turning around and seeing a spider half the size of my face perched on a web in the walkway.

Amazing. Truly amazing.

It's been a dang weird week. As Sister Jones and I would say, what a wonderfully weird way to end a wonderfully odd transfer. Well, two transfers. It's been so weird.

In case you hadn't heard, my dearest, loveliest companion, Sister Jones was shipped home on Thursday nine months before her return date. And all because a fugitive had to run across the freeway. Goodness gracious.

We discovered she was leaving Monday night, and then she was gone Thursday afternoon. I hope she ended up in Utah. All I know is that we left her off in the Gulfport Airport security line, and then hopped into Orange Grove. I know that this decision was inspired. I loved being Sister Jones' companion. I loved learning from and with her. She's such a wonderful spirit, and I know she's going to continue blessing lives as she recovers from that darned car wreck.

Love you, Jonesasaur!

This turn of events has left me tossed in between areas -- Biloxi and Orange Grove. I've been trio'd with the Orange Grove Sister Training Leaders since Thursday. It's been an adventure, lemme tell ya. These girls are a hoot. If Sister Bennett and Sister Conder's mothers see this, know that your girls are the bomb, and I love them.

Oh! I guess I should also mention that it's transfer week. I don't rightly know what's going on with my district, but I know that I'm staying! I'll keep y'all updated on the rest of these hooligans once I know what's going on! All that I know is that another sister will be joining me in Biloxi, and I'm very excited!

This week, odd as it has been, ended with one of my most awaited events of the year -- the Women's Session of General Conference.

For all of my non-Latter-day Saint friends, General Conference is a time where we as a worldwide church gather around television screens, laptop computers, and in church buildings to hear inspiring messages from the leaders of Christ's Church. This is broadcast from Salt Lake City, Utah, and we get an entire weekend of it!

There is a special weekend specifically for the women of the Church, headed by women in the auxiliary leadership positions (e.g. Relief Society General Presidency, Young Women General Presidency, Primary General Presidency). It happened this past Saturday! And it was so exciting! Oh, I was so thrilled. Beyond thrilled. :D

I learned so much. I wish I could expound all of it to you. But, I can only expound a few words since I don't have a lot of time, and I just have too many thoughts running around in my brain. So, I will cover the overall theme that I felt from this conference --

-- the doctrine of Christ.

The basics of the gospel of Jesus Christ are the fundamental principles of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands, and enduring to the end. Just about every talk I heard centered around this subject, and how we can better ourselves as women and disciples of Christ, and specifically on how we can increase our faith.

Faith is the strongest conviction we must have. The world is in need of disciples of Christ, not pursuits of worldly wealth and admiration. The world is out to constantly test and tempt our faith; it wants us to doubt our Savior's power, our Father's love, and our divine destiny as sons and daughters of God.

But, faith is a hope for things that are not seen, which are true (Alma 32). It is a hope for a better tomorrow and a knowledge and confidence that we have the power to make it that way. \

Our Heavenly Father has a perfect love for us. We are to seek that kind of love and share it with others. "...and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:31-32). As we strengthen our faith and seek to be true disciples of Christ, we will be better able to carry those who have fallen and succor those who stand in need of succor.

You are to be converted, Jesus Christ is not looking for a lukewarm follower; He is seeking those who are willing to love Him with all of their heart, might, mind, and strength.

You must not be lukewarm.

As Moroni strengthened his armies against Amalickiah, as Alma and Amulek prayed for the strength to withstand their trials, we must have the faith to be converted.

Are you converted, my brothers and sisters?

Convert yourself by seeking out Christlike attributes. Become the person you want to be in Christ -- and even better, become the person Heavenly Father wants you to be in Christ.

I have witnessed a change in myself and many others on the road to discipleship. I may stumble and fall, but I have a Savior who has walked this way before, and He is bearing me up with every footstep.

And He will do the same for you.

Sorry for the short letter. Have a good week.

Love y'all!



Sister Rose

Sister Jones and I did some service for Sister CC and Shaina! They moved to Ocean Springs, hence the selfie with Sisters Steadman and Lindberg :)

 CHALK TALK! #TheFirstVision

 The gulf coast~

 Sister Jones and Sister Lindberg not appreciating my picture-taking

 Look at these adorable humans! + Elder Tenifa in the background. Photobombing. Doing what he knows best.

That sunset though

 Sister Bennett, ME!, and Sister Conder! #TrioLife

The district, courtesy of the lovely Sister Jones. From left to right: Sister Steadman, Sister Jones, ME!, Sister Lindberg, Elder Hughes, Elder Hunt, Elder Roberts. (next row) Elder Ahanonu, Elder Houston, Elder Bingham, Elder Tenifa, and Elder Scoresby

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Buckets of Rain

Missionary Lingo
Zone Conference: when all missionaries in a single zone (or, a collection of missionary areas over a large land mass) gather together from eight in the morning to four in the afternoon to hear from our Mission President, Vehicle Coordinator, Housing Coordinators, Zone Leaders, Sister Training Leaders, and so on. It is a time to receive revelation for ourselves and our areas. It's awesome. We love it. We also eat a lot of food.

Hello! What is up, my friends! It is a lovely Monday afternoon in Biloxi, Mississippi (or Ocean Springs. D'Iberville? We aren't sure where exactly this building is). And we have had quite the week, I must say!

We completed week five, which is weird. Where has this transfer gone?! Next Monday, we get T-Calls. Vomit. Weird.

This week, we've struggled with some investigators, but that's okay! We had some fun tracting, teaching, and dodging the rain.

Story time.

So, one evening, Sister Jones and I followed our Area Book to an apartment complex that we'd never ventured to before. Of course, we picked the night where it was pouring -- and I do mean pouring. If y'all have ever seen The Notebook, there's a scene when the main characters are kissing in a boat. One moment, it's perfectly calm, and the next moment, it's pouring rain. You'd think that that that was completely made-up movie magic. I would argue no. That is not movie magic. They must have gotten some Mississippi clouds because that is precisely what happened over the course of four hours, off and on. I could hardly see the street, but by the grace of God, we were both fine!

 After missing the turn more times than I'd like to admit, we pulled into the apartment complex parking lot. The rain had slowed for a moment, and after saying a prayer, we rushed to the doors to find people previously taught by missionaries.

Nobody answered the door, and that's okay. It wasn't the right time. But, while we stood underneath the shelter of the second floor, the sky pulled a scene from The Notebook and literally began pouring.

Niagara Falls was formed before me. A river ran down the sidewalk. The ocean might have extended into the parking lot. Drops were coming down in buckets, sheets, droves. Sister Jones and I blinked, dumbfounded at the situation; we looked at one another, shrugged, hugged our bags to our chests, and bolted into the rain.

A waterfall running off the edge of the roof drenched my back. It was awesome. My shoes, already Swiss cheesed with holes and faded from the sun were now soaked to the soles, squishing with every soggy footstep I took.

Laughter erupted from the two of us, like we'd lost ten years off our ages and were children again. Our laughter sounded a little bit like screaming -- and I did plenty of that, too -- but we were able to make the others sitting outside laugh, too.

We ran onto the second floor of another set of apartments, effectively dripping from every article of clothing. I couldn't really see out of my glasses, but that's okay. Who needs those?

Our rain adventure led to a lesson to a guy sitting outside of his apartment. It was great. Sister Jones sang a Primary song for him. It was wonderful.

We then slowly went back to our car and dropped onto the seats. It was then time for us to go home.

Our rain escapade was preceded by an incredible Zone Conference held at the building in Gulfport. Elder Edwards loved making jokes about losing our car bumpers (sorry!); our cars were inspected, and we won a "Best of 2013" certificate for the cleanest car (we being us and the other elders!). Food was eaten. Fun was had.

But, the best part of Zone Conference is hearing from our leaders. They brought messages that truly enlightened us, and we were able to receive so much revelation.

The Spirit felt at these meetings is indescribable. Several times on my mission have I wanted to run home, grab my family and friends, and tug them into the throng of missionary work so they could just understand the special Spirit we feel. There is just something special about missionary work, brothers and sisters, and I want to share that feeling with all of you.

I want to expel all of the things we learned; all of the spiritual enlightenment I received, but I must keep this at a reasonable length. One thing that stuck out to me was the lesson from the Sister Training Leaders, Sister Bennett and Sister Conder. They used the example of Peter, the Apostle, when he denied Christ thrice, and then his progression from then. They were far more eloquent about it, but I'm going to give you the run-down of what I learned and felt.

They used Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk, "The First Great Commandment." This is one of my favorites! He talks about the first great commandment, which is to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. This commandment, seemingly simple to keep, is probably one of the hardest to observe.

Do you love Him, brothers and sisters?

That was a question that hit me. Do you love Him? And if so, how do you love Him?

As something a woman in the Biloxi ward told us: "You know what I used to tell my daughter when she told me she loved me? Show it."

Do you show it? Do you proclaim Him when asked? Are you prepared to answer the question of whether you are a disciple of Jesus Christ or not? Jesus Christ is not asking you to say you are a disciple; He is asking you to show it.

As Elder Holland says, "The crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty."

Are you loyal?

Decide whom you will serve. What nets must you still cast aside to become a full disciple of Christ? What is holding you back?

Don't be afraid to change.

Have a good week!

I love y'all!



Sister Rose

 This is the view from the 21st floor of a condo complex that some members live in. #VertigoForReal

 That awkward moment when you decide to Chalk Talk and the sky does this.

The sidewalk hurt my poor companion's knee

Sister Jones is a butt when I try to take a selfie with her

This dog's name is Padme. She loves me. (And she got all over my skirt. That's okay.)

Some stuff in my study journal because #bored

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Flying Velociraptors

Goodness gracious, good morning!

Before I get to everything, I'd like to send a shoutout to Thelma from the Ocean Springs Ward, who I had the pleasure of meeting on Saturday at a Women's Conference. You are so sweet and so kind; thank you for reading and keeping up with me! And thanks to those who came up to me at the Women's Conference and told me they read this dinky thing. I don't know why you stick around, but I'm glad that y'all like to read! I hope you find me somewhat entertaining. And maybe uplifting. I don't know. Anyway. Thank you!

Do y'all know that kind of thunder that you hear in movies? the kind that cracks, and sounds like God's playing the slapstick in the sky? I didn't actually think that kind of thunder existed until I came to Miss'ippi. In fact, I heard it for the majority of last night. It was beautifully terrifying. I loved it.

It was a great end to an incredible week, honestly. While writing in my journal and listening to the Gulf Coast do its thing and pour gallons of rain, I felt a calm sense of satisfaction as I reflected on the week. I didn't necessarily accomplish everything I'd planned to, or do all the things I'd imagined myself doing, but I was able to accomplish something that Heavenly Father approved.

What's funny is that I didn't do hardly anything at all. Most of all, this week has been humbling, uplifting, and has made me incredibly aware of how much my Heavenly Father loves, knows, and cares for me and my companion. He understands us and our situation. And, most of all, He knows, loves, and cares for our investigators who are doing their best to truly learn and accept the message we share with them.

Sister Jones and I haven't been able to do much walking or finding since the car accident. Which is fine! Missionary work is completely doable with members, using the Area Book, and mostly driving. We've been doing that for about two and a half weeks now, and it's been one of the hardest, but one of the things that has stretched me the most.

And, I will be honest, a lot of that has been incredibly fruitless! Not because people have rejected us, but because people haven't been home, or we stop by right as they're leaving, or they don't live there anymore. It's all kinds of factors working together, and it's made me sit back and wonder what we could do to improve the area with the limits we have. Heavenly Father gave us this challenge, so He knows we can handle it -- so how can we work with it?

One day, Sister Jones made the announcement that we were going to tract. Okay! Cool! I like that! We hadn't been out of the apartment ten minutes before a girl drove up beside us and asked if we could come by and talk to her. She's really cool, and we love her.

On another day, a couple who'd come to church at their request asked if we could come by and read the Book of Mormon with them. They're super cool, and we love them, too.

Another investigator expressed a want to be baptized. We're working with her, and we are very, very excited.

Blessings. Blessings that we don't deserve.

I am a flawed person. I'm unsure of myself and my teaching; my stumbling blocks are many, not just one; sometimes my pride gets in the way, and other times I doubt; sometimes I am harrowed up in my afflictions, as Nephi would describe it, and things are just hard and I feel like the literal most inadequate servant of the Lord ever.

But then things like this happen. I don't know the grand scheme of things. I don't know anyone's personal Plan of Salvation; I don't even hardly know my own! I am just trying to do what I think is maybe right and hope that I'm listening to the Spirit and doing what Heavenly Father wants me to do.

I've spent a lot of time asking my Heavenly Father for help in prayers. I've told Him that I can't do everything, that I sometimes don't feel like I'm doing all that I need to, that I just need help because I'm lost -- and then it's like He put His hands on my shoulders, smiled at me, and said, "I know. Okay."

I am unworthy of such love. We all are. It reminds me of the scripture in Mosiah 2:21-22, which I'm sure I've shared before, but:

"I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another -- I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

"And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you."

Now, I added the emphases there, but I wanted to highlight that all He asks is that you do your best and keep the commandments! That's it! Wow! That's seriously nothing compared to what He does for us. It's absolutely insane that He loves us that much that He doesn't even ask us to do hardly anything to receive His love. In fact, no matter what we do, He will love us anyway.

That pains me sometimes. Heavenly Father, my literal Father in Heaven, loves us that much. We don't, won't, and can't understand the depth of His love; His godly love is far more exquisite, pure, and infinite. I can't put it into words. I just know that He loves you. Goodness. If you don't know that, please get on your knees and ask for Him to tell you. Because I know He does. Goodness, I just know He does. Please don't ever doubt that.

If you are discouraged, if you are angry, if you are unsure if your love is not returned, please remember this scripture that has so deeply impressed me over the course of my mission:

"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Don't forget His love for you. Don't you ever do that.

Love y'all.

Have a good week.



Sister Rose

P.S. We had a Women's Conference on Saturday that lasted from one o'clock in the afternoon to eight o'clock at night! We had the opportunity to hear from speakers not of the Latter-day Saint faith and we ate a lot of food. It was so awesome! Later that night, we had the opportunity to hear from Sister Linda S. Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency; Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, second counselor in the Primary General Presidency; and Sister Neill F. Marriott, second counselor in the Young Women General Presidency. We also got to hug them. It was awesome. :)

P.P.S. I also got to see some of my homies from the PURVIS WARD! Shoutout to Shari Grover, Krista Grover, and Janna Raber :D Love y'all! Miss y'all!

I have a problem, you see. I like pumpkins. I have purchased a box of pumpkin spice Life cereal, and pumpkin spice hot chocolate. A member made us pumpkin bread. My aunt also sent me pumpkin lotion, body wash, and body spray. I may or may not be investing in pumpkin spice Oreos in the future. I don't have a problem. Not at all.

When a cat starts following you around a neighborhood and all you want to do is pet it and make it not follow you...but it insists on loving you #RealProblems

The coast has pretty sunsets...but you can't see them behind a chain-link fence at an apartment complex.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day? What's That?

Waddup, y'all! It's Labor Day! We're actually supposed to be laboring today, but since Sister Jones and I are swamped with appointments tomorrow so we received permission from the APs to have P-Day today! Hooray!

Have I mentioned that holidays are just plain weird as a missionary? Nobody's home on the weekends. People go on vacation. Families are together. Yet, we missionaries are just here, still doing our thing, still teaching, still knocking on your door.

Oh, and, didn't a hurricane or something hit Florida? We never hear about these things. Pray for those in Florida. It sounded like it caused a lot of damage. If you can, go out and serve them. They need that service, too.

A lot has happened this week, and I just realized that now! Weird! We ate a lot of awkward sandwiches (meaning: awkward situations), drove a lot of miles, and went less-active hunting. There's a lot to do in Biloxi, which I am very grateful for.

I went on exchanges with the Orange Grove sisters this week! Sister Bennett kept Sister Jones company in Biloxi while I was whisked away to Orange Grove with Sister Conder! It's always fascinating to see the different areas; we aren't too far from Orange Grove at all, but the demographics, opportunities, and scenery are all drastically different. I always learn something new from the sisters, and so I'm grateful for their service, their selflessness, and their love for the work.

Amidst investigators trying to receive their confirmation that the Church is true, people not being home, and diving into family history, I've felt a little thrown about, if that makes sense.

Being a missionary has now just become a part of me. I'm settled into this lifestyle, and I can't imagine anything else. Mississippi has become a part of me, and I do love it -- wasps and banana spiders altogether. I'm ready for the magic of fall, the bone-chilling bite of a humid winter, and the promise of a new year.

In times and a world that's ever-changing, I'm grateful to be a part of a Church that does not change. Because we have a Heavenly Father who does not change. He has not changed how He feels about anything. He has the eternal perspective; we don't. He knows what's best for us, and what will better benefit us in the future, even if we don't get it at the time.

This week, I've been trying to see things from my Heavenly Father's perspective. When we are caught in the thick of trials, it's easy to be surrounded by the mist of darkness that Lehi describes in his vision of the Tree of Life (see 1 Nephi 8). It's hard to cling to the iron rod; it's hard to see the tree at the end of the path.

When trials bear down on our faith, it's easy to falter and doubt. Some people are very strong in their convictions about their doctrines; some people are very set in their ways; Satan knows just what to do to make you doubt. He knows you personally, and that's a scary thing.

As a missionary, we are called to make people feel greatly uncomfortable. The two topics usually shy away from are politics and religion. We don't talk about the former, but I'm supposed to automatically bring up the latter. I'm supposed to ask you about the questions embedded deep into your heart; I'm supposed to be upfront -- bold, but not overbearing. It's fun, but it makes people...angry.

And that's okay! I can see why people might be irritated with us. They say things, throw "doctrine" at us that's supposed to tear us down, but as I've listened, studied, prayed, and worked, I can tell you that everything has further fortified my testimony of the gospel.

As I read and question, I know that the doctrines taught in the restored Church are true. We have doctrines that were lost or misconstrued during years of spiritual doctrines, now back on the earth again -- the doctrine of the Plan of Salvation, for instance. And also, the true nature of God, His son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

I will testify to all of you that our Heavenly Father has a body of flesh and bone. His body is completely separate from that of the Savior's. Their bodies are perfect, glorified, and holy. The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit, otherwise, how else would we be able to feel the Spirit's impressions? Christ cannot dwell in us with a body, but He dwells in us through the Spirit. There lies the connection between the Three.

To know that my Heavenly Father has a body strengthens my need to take care of my own. This body is a gift, and without it, I cannot come back to my Heavenly Father. This body is the key; it is what gives us leverage against the adversary; it is what allows us to progress the way our Heavenly Father wants us to.

Christ had to obtain a body to accomplish the Atonement. Have you ever heard of Christ dying again, after His resurrection? What happened to His body after He ascended?

The eternities are not as mysterious as some think they are. I know what I'm supposed to do, and who I'm supposed to go back to. I do not believe that God is some weird, mysterious entity. After combing through the scriptures, I cannot believe that He and Jesus Christ are literally the same person. If I am to rely fully on the Atonement, I must know this doctrine. Christ is my Brother; my Savior; and He has a body, with imprints in His hands and feet where He thought of me, and you, and everyone in all of human history.

These doctrines are centered upon His sacrifice. Everything in the gospel is held together by the Atonement. I know that Christ is my Savior; I know that the doctrines we've learned from the Restoration of the Gospel are what He taught; they are what we need to know and do to achieve the greatest potential in the eternities.

Strengthen your testimony, brothers and sisters. Look for the influence of the Spirit. In Moroni's promise, we know that that is what confirms a witness of the truth.

If you have questions, ask them! Search for the answers. Pray. God has the answers.

Have a good week!



Sister Rose