Monday, December 30, 2013

Hello family and friends!  I hope you all had a great Christmas-- we sure did here in West Hills!  The ward took such good care of us and we felt so loved all of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  It was so fun to skype with my fam! Thanks for all the Christmas packages and cards-- they meant the world to me!  I felt very loved and it helped me not be home sick :)

Good news: I'm not getting transferred!  I'll be in West Hills with my same companions for another 6 weeks!  Sis Boggs will spend her last transfer here so we're going to make it a great transfer for her!  And what a better way to kick it off than with a baptism! Joe finally committed for baptism!!!!! He's getting baptized on Jan 18th with his son Brandon!  He was at church on Sunday and we were talking about a ward mission plan in the 3rd hour.  He was so excited to go on team ups with us and start going to the temple and just being an involved member of the ward.  His heart has changed and it is wonderful to see!  I am looking forward to their baptism and I'm so glad that I get to be here to see it!  I can't wait!!!!!

This was our last week of 9 AM church (and 7 AM meetings)-- next week we get to switch to 11:30 church and don't have to wake up earlier than our typical 6:30 wake up call :)  All of our investigators and less active families are excited too!  Hopefully this will help more people come to church! :) 

We went on exchanges this week and had a good time.  The sister training leaders just live in the neighboring area but they have down town in their area.  It was fun to drive through and see the city more.  Their area is like Salt Lake City and my area is more like Draper/Sandy-- pretty residential.  It was fun to hang out with Sis Echman and Sis Hamilton for a day, but I was happy to see my companions again after the exchange :)  

Love you all and hope this year brings you experiences to come closer to Christ!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!  Christmas time is always my favorite time of the year and this one has been a good one!  This has also been the warmest Christmas in living memory (I guess AZ was probably warmer, but I don't remember!)-- it was 76 degrees!  It's back in the 40snow, but I'm not complaining :)

This week we got to participate in a secret Santa. A family in our ward called us and said that they had a friend who wasn't going to have any money for her kids to have Christmas presents this year. This family decided to take some of the presents for their kids and give it to this family. When another ward member found out, she said, "Before you go, come meet me at Walmart because I want to get them some presents too!" I was so touched by their Christ like love and their desire to share what they had with their friend. We were the ones who got to deliver the presents to Rebekah and she was touched. She's been talking to these families for a while about the Gospel and has a lot of questions and Rebekah said that we could come back when she was back in town after Christmas to start teaching her the lessons! She is so sweet and has such a sweet spirit about her. I can already imagine her as a member of our church with so much to offer. 

Saturday night as we were getting ready for bed, our fire alarm went off.  Not just the typical annoying beeps when you burn something on the stove, but lights were flashing and alarms were blaring through our whole building.  We quickly grabbed our coats and went outside.  Nothing smelled like smoke, but we were a little anxious!  Everyone was really confused outside.  When we heard the sirens and then saw the firetrucks pull up, I started to get more worried.  If the firetruck was there, things seemed a lot more serious!  However, he came out quickly and told us that someone had burnt their dinner really badly!  I'm glad everyone and everything was ok! That certainly doesn't happen everyday!

The missionaries got roped into singing "Away in a Manger" and even though our elders aren't the best of singers, it turned out just fine!  One of our very sweet and super blunt less active sisters told us that she was expecting the worst and she was pleasantly surprised!  We were part of the choir and it was really fun to sit on the stand and look out and see everyone.  There were lots of our less active families there! It is fun that I know so many people in our ward.  That's probably a sign that I'm getting transferred soon...  we'll get the transfer call Saturday morning, so I guess I'll find out then!  

Thanks for all the Christmas cards and packages-- they mean so much!  I feel very loved :) 
I love you lots and hope you have a great Christmas!  

Monday, December 16, 2013

This has been an eventful week! It seems like every week this transfer is a little out of the ordinary! Between zone training, sick companions, trips to the Emergency Room, a flat tire, and the ward nativity, things were definitely different than the typical week.

Funny story of the day:  We were taking out all of our trash this morning on the way out the door.  I had Jonny's birthday present on one of my arms in a grocery sack so we could go out and mail it today.  When we got to the post office, I realized that I had thrown it in the garbage along with all the other garbage bags!  I was in a little bit of a panic!  We turned around and went back home and got geared up to go jump in the huge garbage bin outside.  I climbed up on an old couch and started scanning the piles of garbage for my Walgreens bag of presents, grimacing at the thought of climbing in.  Then I saw it on the lid of the big big bin! There was a big lid that was hinged at one side that could be closed or open, but always attached.  Today it was open and when I was throwing the garbage in, I had over thrown it and it landed on the lid, not in the actual piles of trash!  It was a Christmas miracle!  So I didn't have to dumpster dive and the birthday presents were safe :) phew!

We had zone training this week and I really enjoyed it! It's fun that I'm getting to know more of the missionaries in the mission and that I'm starting to make friends with the other missionaries.  It was great to see Sis Hamilton and Sis Sellers!  It's weird not living with them any more! I learned a lot about good ways to find investigators. We decided that we were going to really try and talk to everyone. So far it's been successful! When we were taking a hour, I noticed the man next to me was doing family history work so I talked to him and told him about our family history library and he gave me his information to come back and talk to him more! Another thing that stood out to me in zone training was the importance of working with members. I hadn't been doing that much, so we decided to start. We set up an appointment with a family in the ward and talked with them and they gave us three referrals! We are excited to go contact them soon!

The ward nativity was a really neat event and I would call it a success! It was amazing how much work went into it from all the ward members! We had several investigators come and they all loved it! Our investigator Joe brought the rest of his family who isn't in our ward to come! He's being a missionary already! Joe is doing really well and really loves the church. He came again on Sunday with his son Brandon and I could tell that Joe really felt the Spirit at church. He even teared up during one of the sacrament meeting talks! He and Brandon are so great!

One of the miracles of this week was finding someone to come with us to the stake Christmas devotional. We had one of our less actives ready to go, but then her daughter got really sick and she couldn't come with us. We called and called but no one was able to go. After we said a prayer, Nadiya Mann-- an inactive lady who hasn't been to church in years-- called us back and said that she changed her mind and would be able to go after all and would take us! We asked her out of desperation without much hope that she'd be able to come, but something about the Christmas spirit softened her heart! I think she really enjoyed the evening and it was a good way for us to develop a closer friendship.

I'm so grateful to be serving in West Hills-- they really have become like family to me.

our ward nativity

Monday, December 9, 2013

West Hills is the suburb just west of Knoxville where Emily is currently serving.

Emily didn't get a chance to write a blog this week, but I will fill you in on what she told me this morning when we were emailing.  The two sisters she was sharing an apartment with were transferred to different areas in a mid transfer.  Another sister, Sister Bogg is now joining them in a three-some.  She really misses the sister missionaries she was with, but she is happy to now have access to a car everyday.  Since her ward only has five missionaries now, they have been able to teach more people.  Lisa, the lady who was baptized last week, still has not been to church to receive the Holy Ghost.  Please pray for her that she can be strong. If you want to send Emily a Christmas card, I know she would love to hear from you.  Her address is:
Sister Emily Hales
3100 Lake Brook Blvd. #215
Knoxville, TN 37909
She would also love any new recipes if you would like to mail her one of your favorites.  Thanks for all of the love and support you are giving her as she serves the Lord!
Julie Hales

Monday, December 2, 2013

I can't believe it snowed this week! I thought I was coming to a warm mission!

Things were a little bit slower because of Thanksgiving-- lots of our investigators, less active members, and regular members were out of town or busy with family. However, we were still able to find some new investigators and are excited to continue teaching them. Three of them have Muslim backgrounds which is not something you find everyday!  Two of them are immigrants -- one from Iraq and the other from Liberia. I have the hardest time understanding Abraham's accent! (He's the one from Africa).  Thankfully between the two of us and our team up from the ward, one of us can understand what he's saying and can answer his questions.

Thanksgiving was a great day! I was worried that it would just make me miss home, but the members took such good care of us and took us into their arms that I felt very loved and at home!  We had two hours of "turkey bowl" time, but it was too cold outside, so we relaxed indoors and I loved it!  We had lunch with the Bryces and dinner with the Millers. The ward was so good to us!  We got to eat both meals with all 7 missionaries in the ward which was a lot of fun as well.

Lisa got baptized on Saturday! The spirit there was so strong and everyone there felt it. Even though it was a holiday weekend, there were still many people from the ward who came to support her! She is going to continue to have lots of love from the ward :) Unfortunately, she was unable to come to church on Sunday because she got really sick after her baptism. I forget that Satan continues to work on people even after they get baptized. Hopefully she can get better quickly so she can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost!

Sister Peck and I really enjoy serving together! She always has cheesy jokes and we spend half of our time when we're not teaching laughing.  I'm so grateful to be with her this transfer!

Love you all and hope you had a great thanksgiving!
 Lisa's baptism
Snow in Knoxville

Monday, November 25, 2013

I survived my first transfer!  It's crazy that I've been a missionary for over 6 weeks now-- sometimes I feel like this has always been my life, but other times I feel like I just barely got here.  I was a little bit worried about being left in this area after only serving for 6 weeks, but so far things are going well.  I'm still trying to get the hang of things, but I am learning lots and we've been able to stay busy everyday.   I really love being here in West Hills.  I know the area more and I know the people better now. I feel so blessed to be here.  

I've been reminded of the power that the Book of Mormon has this week.  The morning of transfers, I was feeling really stressed and worried, so I knelt down for guidance and comfort and felt prompted to read the Book of Mormon.  I sat down and started in Alma 58 where I had left off.  This is the story where Heleman and his armies were trying to take back the city of Manti, but their armies are impossibly outnumbered; there is no way that they could defeat them if they went and attacked the city on their own.  So they poured out their hearts in prayer for strength (v 10) and then God told them that He would give them strength to over come the impossible odds.  It was one of those moments where the scriptures were speaking directly to me.  I felt calm that Heavenly Father would help me and my new companion retain the people we were already teaching and give us strength to continue to find people to teach and lead them to baptism though it seemed a hard task.  It's amazing how the Book of Mormon can help us in any trial we are going through!

Even though it was hard for me to let Sis Paxton go, I really like Sis Peck!  It's neat to have a companion with a new perspective on the area and the people we are teaching.  One thing we do every night that I love is that we share something that the other companion did really well that day.  It's such a small thing, but it makes such a difference to end the day looking on the positive side of things!  

Lisa is all set for baptism this Saturday at five and I cannot wait.  We've been meeting with her several times a week for nearly 2 months now and she is ready to be baptized and can't wait for all the blessings of membership in the Church.  She went from smoking two packs a day to being smoke free now for 10 days and counting.  I met Lisa on my very first day in the area and I am so excited to see her be baptized :)  She is incredible!  

Joe and Brandon are still doing well and are still reading the Book of Mormon and coming to church.  The men in the ward have just embraced Joe and really love him.  They invited him to go to the Turkey Bowl on Thursday (which he's going to!) and to play golf with them and even have offered job opportunities to him (he's been out of work).  Brandon loves the kids in Primary and always has a friend to talk to.  I think they know it's true in their hearts, but it hasn't quite worked its way up to their heads yet.  Soon though!  

I'm so grateful for all the blessings we have here!  There are so many wonderful people in this area and I love getting the chance to serve and love them more!

Taking Sister Paxton to transfers

Monday, November 18, 2013

Good news: I've been out for my first transfer!  Bad news: my trainer is getting transferred :(  I'm really going to miss her!  I guess the Lord has other places for her right now, but I have learned so much from her and have been so grateful for the chance to learn from her.  Hopefully I'll be able to keep the work progressing here and help the people we're teaching continue down the road toward baptism. 

It was so exciting to have so many people at church this Sunday!  Lisa came, Joe and Brandon came, and Marielle brought her 12 year old daughter, her sister, and her sister-in-law!  We had stake conference and they broadcasted it to our chapel, so it was a little bit different, but the same Spirit was there.  Hopefully they'll come back and see how Sunday works the rest of the weeks! 

Joe and Brandon are doing really well-- Brandon (10) is ready to get baptized, but his Dad, Joe, is still working on his answer, though each time he says it feels more and more that our church is true.  Lisa is getting so close to being off cigarettes.  She used to be smoking two packs a day of 280 cigarettes a week and this last week she only had 3!  She really wants to get baptized so she's working hard to let go completely.  She's suffered with depression, but the more we teach her, the more she finds meaning in her life.  I'm so happy for her!  It's amazing how the gospel can make all of your life better.  I'm so grateful that I have this chance to be a part of it! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pumpkin pie

 These missionaries are all serving in the same ward - 6 of the 7 are from Utah:)

Hey Y'all!

The weather here is always changing.  Yesterday morning it was so cold and by the time church was over, the sun was shining and it was warm!  It's been fun to have such a warm fall!  The leaves are all changed and most of them have started to fall.  There are leaves EVERYWHERE!  It's fun to crunch through them! 

As I've been here and have been getting fed lots of delicious foods, I have been gathering up delicious recipes.  This week I made my very first pumpkin pie!  I've been able to sneak some baking in and take treats to people we're teaching and it's been so fun!  It's kind of funny- I'll make the cookie dough and roll out half of the dough during lunch and then when we come home at night we'll try to bake a few trays and then do the rest the next morning.  Free time is very limited, but it's so great to have fresh baked cookies! ;)  

In other exciting news, I've officially started a stamp collection!  I figured, when else in my life would I be getting letters?  So if you feel so inclined to write me and have a fun stamp, I would love to see it!  It's kind of ridiculous how excited I am about my stamps-- I'm up to a whopping 12 right now!

We've been working with Lisa Bowers for a while and one of the biggest obstacles in the way of her getting baptized is smoking.  She's been smoking since she was 13 and is now in her late 50s.  She went from 2 packs a day to a half a pack a day, but was kind of stuck there for about two weeks.  We have been struggling to know how we can help her.  We've prayed with her, gotten her a blessing, given her scriptures to read, but nothing was working.  We heard about the Stop Smoking Program from a  ward member and got it from the mission office and read it.  We taught it to her on Thursday and she has been smoke free since!  It is so exciting!  She gives such sweet and heartfelt prayers.  Being baptized into this gospel would be so wonderful for her!

We tracted into a woman from Micronesia and it's been neat to see her progression.  Though there is a little bit of a language barrier, we have been able to communicate with her enough to help her learn and feel the spirit.  When we first met her, she was definitely interested in what we had to say, but told us she would pray about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and come to church before she decided to join or not.  The next lesson she told us that she believed in Joseph Smith and that the Book of Mormon is from God.  It was so neat!  Then the next time we brought up baptism and how she could get a remission of her sins and she got really excited.  She said she wanted to be wiped clean and start fresh.  She asked if she could get baptized tomorrow!  I love her spirit and how excited she is to be apart of Christ's church and be forgiven of her sins.

We have been teaching a woman named Sister Arkus who joined the church about a year ago.  For about 4 or 5 months she was completely inactive because she was upset about something, but she has been coming to church and doing really well.  Every time we go to her apartment, there is such a special spirit there.  When we went to teach her the last two times, we met her friend Shirley.  After the second time, we asked Shirley if she wanted to stay and hear about her friend's church, and she said yes.  Our two lessons have been so much more powerful because Sis. Arkus was there teaching and testifying with us.  Member missionary work is so great! 

Thanks for all the love and support you give me!  I appreciate all the prayers and love :) 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Emily with Sister Hamilton and Sister Paxton ready to teach on Halloween.
Dear Family and Friends,

Another week has come and gone in Knoxville and it has been a good one!  We got to help with the ward trunk or treat and I loved seeing the cute kids dressed up!  We handed out candy as well as pass along cards.  The kids all seemed to love getting pictures of Jesus!  Halloween was a typical day of teaching, but when we taught the kids, they were in their costumes!  Their energy is contagious! 
I got to go on exchanges with the Sister Training leaders this week and had a good time!  I was a little worried about being left in my area without my companion, but it turned out to be a really good day.  When our appointments fell through, we were led to people we haven't been able to contact recently and others who were ready for our message.  It was really neat!
We are teaching a lot of kids which is fun and challenging.  I love their spirit and their energy!  It reminds me of my brothers!  
We've met so many wonderful people this week!  We were tracting and met a woman who had recently moved from Micronesia. When we showed her a Book of Mormon she remembered that some elders taught her in her own country and wanted us to come back!  There are so many great people both that we are teaching and here in the ward.  I wish I could take them all home with me! 
I hope everything is well at home for everyone!  Thanks for all the love and prayers!

Monday, October 28, 2013

The view from Emily's apartment in Knoxville - taken on her Pday
Our mission president asked us to share with him some miracles we've seen this week.  Here are a few I've seen: 

Sister Paxton met a young mom only about five or ten years older than us and hadn't been able to get in contact with her.  We stopped by with a member and she was home!  We shared a brief thought with her because she was on her way out the door and left a copy of the Book of Mormon with her and she seemed determined to read it.  The day of our return appointment, we got a text saying that she felt really guilty for reading our book when she hadn't read the Bible in a long time.  She said she didn't want to meet with us, but thanked us for turning her back to God.  We were so bummed!  We asked if she wouldn't mind us stopping by just to give her a brief background of the Book of Mormon and what we believed and she said we could come back.  We went to her apartment knowing that this was a make or break appointment.  As we began talking to her, she shared that she felt so guilty for staying away from God for so long and felt that she had disappointed God.  We continued to tell her that her Father in Heaven loves her so much and taught the Restoration lesson tailoring it to her needs.  By the end of the lesson, her tears of guilt turned into tears of joy and she wanted to be baptized!  It was a miracle! 

This week we got a text from a guy who Sister Paxton had tracted months earlier and completely forgot about him saying he wanted to hear more about our church.  We went and talked to him and he said that he lost the number and had been searching for it for months, but found it just the other day in his cat's food bowl!  He was wowed by the fact that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and that we have a living prophet today.  He said he wanted to be baptized too!  Him finding our number was a miracle! 

We've been working with a less active member who hasn't been to church in so long that she didn't even remember she was a Mormon.  Sister Paxton has been working with her long before I got here and we've been having a hard time getting through to her.  Every time we teach her, the TV is on loud and her five year old son is bouncing off the walls.  This time, she let us turn the TV off and her son was quietly drawing during the lesson. Getting the TV off was a miracle!  During the lesson, she definitely felt the spirit and we were able to address some of her concerns.  We invited her to church (like we've done many times) and she said she'd try, but no promises.  Sacrament meeting started and we didn't see her.  But when sacrament meeting was over, we saw her walk in with her son!  She apologized for missing the first meeting, but wanted to come to the other two!  She loved Sunday School and Relief Society and wants to come back next week!  Another miracle!

This is definitely the Lord's work! We could not do anything without His hand prodding the work along! 

Thank you for the letters and emails!  I really appreciate it! I'm sending my love and a big hug to all of you back home :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

 Emily with her great BYU roommate, Chloe!  They both entered the MTC on Sept. 25th.
 So many friendly people in the South
Go University of Tennessee Volunteers!
Emily's apartment
Hey Fam!

Yesterday Elder Corbridge of the 70 came to speak to us. What great training we received!  Elder Corbridge is such a nice man and a great teacher.  Sister Paxton and I are already looking for ways to implement what he taught! We've been having a hard time getting our investigators to come to church.  Maybe it's what Elder Corbridge said-- they don't understand the doctrines well enough.  That's going to be something we work on this week.  Right now we have four investigators with a baptism date, but they aren't coming to church for one reason or another--one was sick, one had a family member in the hospital, the other two just didn't show up.  Sister Paxton reminds me of the guy from The Best Two Years because she invites everyone to be baptized, but it's good!  Hopefully we'll be able to help these people come closer to Christ and actually want to come to church!

This week we began teaching a guy named Darren that we ran into on my first day.  We tried meeting with him before, but he wasn't home.  We were over in his neighborhood to teach someone else who wasn't home, so we stopped by his house and he was there and said we could teach him.  When we got to the part about prophets and apostasy he asked what we were in today.  When we told him that we have a prophet, he was so excited!  "This is a BIG DEAL!" he kept saying, and it's true!  It really is a big deal that Heavenly Father loves us so much that he calls someone on the earth to talk to us and teach us what we  need to do!  Such a blessing!

The members in our ward have been so good to us.  Since we're in a car share, the members have been nice to give us rides when we don't have the car and come out to appointments with us.  It's so different from missionary work back in Utah!  Back home, we hardly ever saw the missionaries (because they were divided between several wards), but here, I feel like a needed member of the ward.  The ward members are becoming my friends and they are teaching me lots! I feel so blessed to be in an area with such a supportive ward family.  

I love being a missionary!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Saying goodbye to our zone reminded me of EFY-- we all became close friends as we grew spiritually together for a short period of time. We took lots of group pictures together, sang songs together, and instead of hugs there were handshakes.  I'm grateful that the sisters are all sticking together though!  We got up at 2 in the morning and began our trek across the country.  There was a sign on a screen saying, "Welcome LDS Missionaries!" Ha ha ha, only in Utah!  We flew to Atlanta and then got a smaller connecting flight to Knoxville.  It was a small flight so we got to talk to a lot of people and everyone was just so nice and friendly! 
We got off the plane and were met by President and Sister Irion-- they are SO nice and friendly!  Sister Irion gave us all big hugs and made us feel right at home.  The weather here is perfect!  My ideal weather--seriously.  It's in the 70s and sunny with a light breeze.  There isn't much humidity right now so it feels just like home.  The Irions fed us a home cooked meal and let us sleep in soft beds.  It felt so good to be in a home with soft fluffy carpet and the delicious aroma of a home cooked meal in the air.
The next morning we went to the church and met who our trainers were going to be.  President makes a big deal of the fact that we are not called "greenies" but rather "golden" because we are fresh from the MTC and ready to go. He even wears his gold tie-- it made me laugh!  Our mission is not just the Tennessee Knoxville Mission, but everything is the GREAT Tennessee Knoxville Mission-- good thing I came to such a great mission ;)
My companion is Sister Paxton from Bountiful, UT.  She studied neuroscience at the U for a year before coming out here.  She is a talented pianist and dancer and so down to earth.  We are on the same page-- we both want to work hard and stay busy-- so we get along great.  Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all I need to learn and am frustrated that I don't know things better, but she helps me through it.  I love being here!
After we got home, I had a minute to put my stuff down and then we headed out to go teach!  The girl we were supposed to teach wasn't home, so we stopped by a woman's house close by who was baptized when she was younger, but doesn't remember it at all.  The sisters have been working with her and she seems to be doing better.  We were there talking and Sister Paxton says, "We'd like to share a scripture with you. Sister Hales, do you have a scripture to share with her?"  Of course when that happens, your mind goes blank.  I had only known this woman for 5 minutes!  How was I supposed to know what she needed?  Sister Paxton talked to her some more and I found one in Alma (I should have written down the reference, sorry!) and shared it with her.  I think she really liked the scripture and the spirit was definitely there.  My companion is going to help me get adjusted quickly!
After a quick trip to Walmart to get food and dinner, we went out with Sister Williamson in our ward to teach Lisa, someone the sisters had tracted into.  She knows the gospel is true, but needs to stop smoking before she can be baptized.  She has such a sweet heart and it's been neat to see her love the scriptures even more in just the short time since I've been here.  She used to smoke 2 packs a day-- that is a TON!  She has since cut it down in half twice to a pack a day to half a pack a day.  We taught her again on Saturday and she was all set to come to church with us the next day, but while we were teaching her, her mom fell and she felt that she needed to stay at home with her Mom.  It was such a bummer! We really hope she will be able to keep cutting down the cigarettes and come to church soon!
On Thursday I had my first tracting experience.  Some of our appointments fell through (that seems to happen a lot....), and we had stopped by everyone in the area already so we tracked some apartments.  Our doorstep approach is very tailored to the South.  My companion calls it the "Peace and Blessings" approach.  We say that as representatives of Jesus Christ we would like to offer the Lord's Peace and Blessings in the form of a prayer and then if they let us, we pray for them and their family and then tell them a little bit about our church and ask if they want us to come back.  A girl named Katie seemed genuinely interested and we are going back to her apartment tonight.  Joe said we could come back, but he wasn't there when we showed up at his door for our appointment.  Oh well.  Thursday was the best weather I've had in a long time.  We stopped by this man named Jim's place for a while and we were all talking about our beliefs while a nice breeze blew his wind chimes-- it was so peaceful.  I love the south already!
That night we were going to teach Sara (who has a baptismal date on November 2!), but she was really sick, but told us to talk to one of her neighbors down the street.  He was an older man who had a Muslim father and a Jewish mother.  That's definitely unique!  It was fun to hear him talk about his beliefs and made me think about my days in Jerusalem, but he kept talking and talking and talking-- we could barely get a word in.  It seemed like he was more interested in converting us to his beliefs than us teaching him!  He's the second Muslim person I've seen today-- I hope I'll be able to talk to use my knowledge of their culture and beliefs to connect with someone and introduce the gospel soon. 
On Friday we had a district meeting.  They recently re-did the boundaries and now there are only seven of us in the district-- us four sisters and the three elders, all serving in the same ward.  SO different from Utah!  I don't think I've told you where I'm serving-- I'm in the West Hills area which is a suburb outside of Knoxville only 15 minutes away from the mission home.  The area I'm in was just split in half so the two sisters who were there are  now training me and Sister Hamilton who was with me at the MTC and knows Steve! It's been fun to have all four of us living together.  We do lots of role plays, but it's a good way to learn.  The bishop wants us to meet with the ward members so when appointments fall through or something, we'll meet with them, get to know them, and practice teaching the lessons. It's been fun to get to know the ward members and feel of their excitement for missionary work.  It's also been a good way to get referrals of people who they think would be interested.  My teaching is getting better, but I still need a lot of help!
Saturday was my companion's birthday!  We made her pancakes for breakfast and the celebrations kept coming throughout the day.  Everyone loves her.  People dropped off goodies by the apartment all day, her mom had a member order a cake and deliver it, people made us both lunch and dinner, a lady that was just baptized bought her a delicious cake-- I think we had at least four different cakes that day.  MMMM! We had lunch with a lady who was less active and she makes and sells scarves, and she gave me one!  It is beautiful!  She said she gives one to all the missionaries who come through.  So sweet of her!   It was a great day of teaching, visiting, and eating! 
Sunday we went to church early to go to ward council.  It's neat to see how the whole ward rallies around the missionary effort.  It's fun to be a part of it! I love going to church and feeling the special spirit that is there.  None of our investigators came to church though!  That was a bummer :( 
We are in a car share area so we share our car with the other sisters in our area which means that we bike every other day.  Thursday was our day for the bikes.  We didn't go to far away from our apartment, but it was tough!  It's not the distance that is the problem here-- it is the HILLS!  We live on a hill and there are rolling hills everywhere.   We've been able to get rides with members and coordinate our efforts with the sisters so we haven't had to bike too much.  If anyone knows a lady like way to ride a bike in a skirt, please let me know ASAP!

There is some funny lingo in the missionary church, and that is especially true of missionaries! "Celestial Parking" is where you can pull through the parking spot (because someone has to awkwardly stand outside the car every time you back up and since I'm not the driver, that job falls to me!).  Another funny term we use all the time is Larc which stands for Less Actice/Recent Convert.  Oh Mormons! 

I love being a missionary and being out here in Tenneessee!  It's going to be a great 18 months!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

   Arriving safely in Knoxville with President and Sister Irion

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sister Hales and Sister Husted in front of the Provo Temple
 Knoxville, Tennessee

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dear loved ones,

Thank you so much for all the support through love, prayers, and letters.  I have really felt strengthened from all of your love and from the Lord!  I've only been here for a week, but I feel like I have learned so much already.  My friend Amber told me that serving a mission really changed her heart, and I am feeling that happen already.  I search the scriptures and apply them to my life more and I pray for help all day long.  It's amazing how things I've known my whole life are taking on a whole new meaning.  The more I learn about the gospel, the more I am amazed by how perfect everything in the gospel works together.  We were reading in 3rd Nephi 11 where the Savior comes and I just started crying because I felt the Savior's love for all His children so strongly.  But don't worry about me-- I don't cry all the time ;)

This week we said good bye to a district in our zone and just said hello to two more bringing our total up to four.  We all sit together at lunch and are becoming really good friends.  Only seven sisters in our zone are going to Knoxville-- I'm going to miss everyone else! It's crazy how fast things they get missionaries in and out.  It's hard to imagine myself out in the field in just a few days!  Today is p-day, the next two days are conference, and then a day more of class and then we're off!

The other day we met our TRC investigator and it was so fun to talk to her and hear about her life.  It made me SO excited to go to Tennessee and meet the people who live there.  I love hearing people's stories!  This lady moved from Guatamala to Los Angeles two days after she got married and she and her husband have been in the states for the last 30 years.  When they first got here, they worked more than full time and then went to English class for several hours after work everyday.  Their hard work has paid off and they have done quite well for themselves.  I'm excited to get the chance to teach and meet real people in a few days!

On Sunday the temple president came to talk to us and it made me even more excited to go to the temple today!  I'm really going to miss it for the next 18 months! It'll be neat to do a session at the Provo temple. 

I can't believe it's snowing in the mountains!  I'm hoping for warmer weather in Tennessee! I'm not ready for winter yet!  We were lucky to have a few days of warm weather-- when we went to walk around the temple on Sunday, it was such a nice day! 
Being at the MTC has been a great learning experience-- I love it!

Sister Hales

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

 Dropping Emily off at the MTC.  She really wanted all of her brothers to come.

                      Right after Emily was set apart as a missionary - September 24, 2013.

Monday, September 30, 2013


Dear Family,

I'm alive!  I feel like I haven't been gone for that long, but I have learned so much already.  I love that the Spirit is here all the time.  The spirit of peace has helped me keep my head above water and stay calm.  I haven't felt homesick or overwhelmed yet (though it has only been two days) and I think that is because of the Holy Ghost.  

My companion is Sister Husted (Pronounced Houston with a d instead of a n).  I've only known her for a few days but it definitely is an inspired companionship.  We work well together and have a lot to learn from each other (though mostly I learn from her!).  She is 22 and just graduated from BYU in Recreational Therapy.  She loves horses and played volleyball for Snow College before she transferred up to Provo.  We have a good time together.  The other sisters in our district are both 19--one just graduated from high school in June.  Several of the elders just graduated in June too!  In our opening meeting with all the new missionaries on Wednesday, he had all the missionaries who just graduated stand up, and there are a lot of them!  There is a good mix of ages and we all bring different things to the table.  The elders in our district are going to Pocatello, Idaho (they are going to have the best mashed potatoes!).  What mission does Bedstamor live in?  Where is Pocatello in relation to Burley and Boise? Our teachers are really fun and teach us a lot.  Our elders are young, make us laugh a lot, and are really sweet boys.  Our zone leaders asked us all to have viles of oil on us if we ever need a blessing and our elders bought one for each of the sisters.  It was really thoughtful!  There are 3 districts in our zone--one district has been here for a week already and the other district came in with us on Wednesday.  Half of the sisters in the other district are also going to Knoxville including Stevie's friend Sister Hamilton!  It's fun to make connections :) 

Thank you Nana, Grandpa, and Marianne for the letter! I just picked it up a few minutes ago and can't wait to read it.  Also, my branch president, President and Sister Boone say are from Mapleton and know you! 

Mom, thank you for the gold fish and candy corn!  My bag of gold fish is almost out so it came just in time :) 

There are so many food options--I think even Jonny could find food he likes here ;) We figured out why everyone gains weight in the MTC-- there are so many desserts and we sit a whole lot.  My comp and I have been good and not had ice cream with every meal ;)

There really is such a special spirit here.  I love that we pray all the time and that the Spirit is there to answer our prayers.  We're getting ready to teach an "investigator" today and it's incredible how much love we feel for him already as we've prayed for him and studied for him.  I love studying my scriptures with a purpose in mind.  We're not just reading, but we are we're searching for what our investigator needs to hear.  It's fun to have so much time set aside for studying.  It's kind of crazy to have our days so packed from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm, but I feel like we are accomplishing so much and getting ready for teaching real people.  It's exciting!

Yesterday after dinner while my companion and I were looking for a bathroom, we walked passed Sister Nalley's office, the Mission President's wife, and she invited us in.  When she found out it was our second day, she quickly gave us both big hugs and an even warmer smile.  She had a beautiful picture of Christ on the Sea of Galilee hanging on her wall (I think it's the same one by the entry way at Nana and Grandpa's house).  I try not to talk about Jerusalem all the time, but the experience changed my heart and perspective so anything related to Israel is extra special to me.  The majority of the picture was the dark and stormy sea of Galilee with the apostles in the background in their storm tossed ship.  But in the center of the painting is Christ walking on the water with a light around Him.  If we stay close to Christ, he can help us "walk on water" on our missions.  Moving across the country, living with people I don't know, teaching the gospel all day is not in my comfort zone, but I know like Alma that I can do all things through the strength of Christ.  If we stay close to Him, He will calm our seas and bring peace to our lives.  

I'm so grateful that I have the gospel in my life and that I can be here at the MTC!  

I love you all!

Yours Truly,
Sister Hales