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