Monday, February 24, 2014

Things are going really well in Abingdon!  It's starting to warm up-- it was 66 degrees on Saturday.    
We were able to meet with the Joyce family this week and they are awesome!  The mom was baptized when she was 8 but never really went to church afterwards.  The Elders were working with their 2 boys for a few months and in the last few weeks Ken- the dad- started joining in.  The boys loved the Elders, but they seem to like us too and are learning a lot!  Sister Little asked what they liked the most about what the Elders had been teaching them and Matt (12 year old) said, "I like now Nephi had a lot of faith.  He's a really cool guy." Sister Joyce told us that her boys are going to get baptized, but she wants to wait for her husband to be ready so it can be a family thing.  Ken is asking a lot of good questions and they said they would all be at church next week!  They are loving what they are learning and are excited to learn more. They are great!!
The Baptism on Saturday was such a neat event.  We got permission from the stake president to have Chandler's Aunt and cousins Skype in to see the baptism.  Since it wasn't recorded, they said it was ok!  We didn't tell Jada and Chandler till they arrived at the church and when we told them, Jada started to cry.  Then to her surprise her mom was also skyping in!  It made them both so happy to have their family there watching!  There was a lot of support from the ward which was awesome.  We had a ward activity afterwards and most of the people there were in their church clothes because they also came to the baptism.  It's neat to have the ward so involved. Sis Little and I made cupcakes that looked like hamburgers and they were as tasty and they were cute!  We had several less active members come-- it was a good turn out!

The baptism was a little delayed in starting because we were trying to get all the kinks worked out with Skype, but when we got it all worked out and were sitting in the chapel, we noticed that the Stake President, the Bishop, and the ward mission leader were all gone.  About 15 minutes later (30 minutes after we were supposed to start) we began the baptism.  I was talking to Brother Schultz afterwards and they had to wait because the water wasn't full enough yet!  They changed the pipes between now and the last baptism and it took a lot longer to fill up the font than before.  At 5:30 when we were supposed to start, the water wasn't even up to Bro Schultz knees and it had been running for an hour.  So he, the Bishop, and Stake President started filling up garbage cans, big pots, and punch bowls and then dumping them in the font.  It worked really well!  By the time we started the water was plenty deep! 

We got to explore a lot of the country this week and it was beautiful!  I used to think of myself as a city girl, but before I leave this place, I might be a country girl at heart after all :)

This week I've had a lot of spiritual experiences and the spirit has been so strong.  I'm so grateful that I have been blessed with the chance to have the Holy Ghost as my constant companion.  Being on a mission has helped strengthen and solidify my testimony and helped me remember what is important in life.  I'm so grateful for my Savior and how He can help us all in any trials that we face. 

I love you all!  Thanks for all the Valentine's Day goodies!

 Chandler's baptism - Sister Hales, Chandler, Sister Little, Jada
 hamburger cupcakes
 fun old bridge near Abington
Old log house

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I got transferred to Abingdon, VA and I really like it here!  My new companion is Sis Little and she's great!  She wants to work hard and loves being here!  I feel so blessed to have her as a companion. We got a lot of snow this week.  It was like Utah!  We took a ruler in our backyard and measured 8'' of snow and then it snowed again the next day. Crazy! 

So Abingdon it a small town, but we have pretty much all of Washington county, VA and then some.  So size isn't really a problem. There used to be two sets of missionaries in the ward, but one of the elders got his visa and they were going to be moving apartments anyways so they pulled them out so we have all of the sisters investigators and the elders' investigators to work with.  It's great!  There are lots of good things going on in this ward.  A once less active man just received the Aaronic priesthood yesterday and was just glowing with the spirit during gospel principles.  A 15 year old boy is getting baptized on Saturday and his mom was once less active and is now really excited about coming to church each week!  A great benefit of this ward is that we get to teach YSA age investigators! (in West Hills we would have to turn them over to the YSA ward missionaries-- we had to turn over at least 4 or 5 investigators.) We're working with a guy who is really promising!  He has been having lots of spiritual experiences and is doing really well.  There is a part member family that we're working with who are also doing well and making process!  The mom is now dedicated to the gospel again and her boys and husband are making progress and will hopefully come to church this week!  There are lots of good things!  The ward is pretty small, though I heard there were a lot of people gone because of the snow.  I guess we'll see!  Abingdon kind of reminds me of Idaho, houses with farm land and pastures and barns in between.  It's really pretty!    I'm excited to be here! I can already tell that this is going to be a great transfer!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Joe and Brandon at the Pinewood Derby
So---- the verdict is in: I'm getting transferred away from West Hills :(  I am packing up my bags and leaving on Wednesday.  We won't find out where we're going till they announce it over the pulpit at the meeting!  A little scary, but exciting at the same time! 
Some highlights from the week:
The Frasers stayed for all three hours of church this week!  We are so excited!  She told us that she wants to get baptized sometime this summer, but I think coming to church for the whole time will help her realize that she's ready to get baptized sooner :)  They are awesome!  
Joe got to pass the sacrament on Sunday!  It was so neat to see him coming to church regularly and continuing to progress in the gospel :)   I am really glad that I've been able to see Joe's progression from first knocking on his door to passing the sacrament yesterday.  It's been wonderful to see how the gospel has gradually changed him into a better man!  He and Brandon are here to stay! 
Sis Boggs and I sang "I Heard Him Come" on Sunday.  I loved the chance to look over the congregation and see the ward.  I knew pretty much everyone there and I love them all so much!  At the end of the song, I was getting a little choked up!  I'm going to miss them a lot, and I hope the best for all of them :)
I'm so grateful for the time I had to spend in West Hills!  I love this area so much!! It was a great transition into mission life because it's so "normal" here.  Hearing Sis Peck and Boggs talk about the country areas, it almost sounds like a different world!  Though I'm sad to be leaving all the wonderful people behind, I am excited (and a little nervous, but mostly excited) for the new adventures to come! 

Monday, February 3, 2014

This week has certainly been out of the ordinary to say the least.  On Tuesday it snowed ALL DAY LONG!  It never snows that much in Knoxville!  The mission office called and told us not leave so we were stuck in our apartment while we were waiting for the roads to clear up which didn't happen till Wednesday evening.  It wasn't a ton of snow compared to Utah or Jenni up in Canada, but they aren't equipped to deal with snow well so hardly any of the roads were plowed or salted.  With all the tall trees, the sun can't get to the roads as easily and the hills make them pretty dangerous. Then unfortunately, my companion got sick ThursdaySaturday so we've been stuck home all week :(
That being said, we were able to get out a little bit. Let me tell you the highlights!
Elder L. Tom Perry, Elder Rasband of the presidency of the 70, and Elder Zwick of the 70 stopped in Knoxville for a "hastening of the work" training.  It was broadcast out to 11 other stakes so I felt blessed to be able to see these men of God in person.  Elder Perry's training was incredible!  It was definitely the spiritual boost I needed!  We sang "Called to Serve" with all the missionaries and members who were there and it was inspiring.  It reminded me how great my calling as a missionary is!

Joe taught his first primary lesson this week and said it went really well!  He really loves his calling and they worked it out so he'll teach 2nd hour and still go to Priesthood 3rd hour so he can keep learning. 
Erica and Josh Fraser stayed for 2nd hour this week! They didn't stay for the 3rd hour
because their 2 year old was having a hard time in nursery, but we were so excited!  They've been coming to sacrament meeting regularly for months, and today was the first time they stayed-- we are really happy for them!
Two other women we've been working with got callings today as well and they are excited to serve!  Sis Arkus is just touched and honored that she can have a calling and can't wait to help serve in the ward. 
Thank you for all your love and support and prayers!  It means so much that I have so much support back home.  Love you!
All bundled up in Knoxville