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!