Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Washington, Week 9

Monday evening we taught a lesson to a part-member family. The mom is a member, as well as the 14-year-old daughter, but they just starting to come back to church. The little boy just turned 9 on Sunday and he is not baptized yet. Also, her sometimes-live-in boyfriend is not a member, so we are teaching those 2. We also taught them again Friday evening.

Unfortunately, Tuesday I was very ill, and basically confined to our apartment all day, but thankfully I got over that quickly!!

Wednesday we met with the same lady who bore her testimony for the first time in 10 years after we visited with her. She told us that she has spoken to the bishop about returning to the temple. She said that ever since the first time we visited with her, she has felt someone "on her tail" about getting back to the temple and she told the bishop that she really wants to go when we are still here so that we can go with her ;) We'll have to get special permission for that, but it really touched me hearing that. :)

Wednesday we also did a lot of service, and then we had a lesson with Blanca and Tiffany again, and that's always great! :)

We called a referral that was in our area book. When I was on exchange last week, we called the referral center and found out that nobody had ever followed up on it and it came in December! Anyway, we called her up and she was really happy to hear from us! We will probably meet with her this week! Hopefully!

Thursday we had a "special conference". It was basically Pres and Sister Wilson's last opportunity to instruct us, as they will be going back home at the end of this week! It was really good and they said lots of things that really helped me. President Wilson talked about how we don't have to be perfect. We just need to start where we are and always strive to move forward. He was definitely inspired to say that for me! ;)

We had another cleaning check this week, so we had to scrub a bit on Thursday (WAY easier than last time!) We also met with the Bishop and with Blanca again on Thursday.

On Friday we had our weekly planning session, then we went to visit a potential name in our area book that had just been popping out at me for the past week. We went to see her, and she invited us right in. She told us that her brother had just passed away. She was very close to him and she cried a few times while we were there. But we shared some of the Plan of Salvation with her and she really liked that. We set up a return appointment with her, so we're very happy about that! :)

Saturday morning, we moved another family. We have moved someone basically every Saturday since we've been here. It's crazy. My skills in moving have really come in handy. While the guys were gone unloading the truck at the new place, I packed up their entire kitchen. I felt pretty proud of that ;) Now I know why I have moved so many times! ;)

Saturday we also went and taught Jerry over at the group family home. Sue too. She's feeling a lot better since her minor heart attack last week. I'm very thankful for that. We watched Finding Faith in Christ with them and then we started reading the Book of Mormon with Jerry. Sue is SO great. She was like, "Jerry, when are you going to join?" ;) haha We love her. I guess she tells Jerry things about the church when we're not there. He mentioned that he'll have to give up some habits and we haven't even taught him about those yet ;)

Saturday we went to Blanca's house again because her fiance Vincent was there and he was asking questions! He's always been very stubborn that he is "not going to become a Mormon"! He mentions it so often that I think he knows that he will ;) Anyway, he asked lots of the "golden questions". We testified that this Church is true and taught him how he can know for himself, and HE PRAYED AT THE END!! It took lots of convincing, but he did it!!

Then the next day we went over there after the Worldwide Leadership Training Conference, and he told us that he had had a dream!! He described that in it he was in a forest, and then this really bright white light appeared and he couldn't see. Then Sis. Redford was in the dream and she was telling him, "Now's your chance Vince, you can ask your question." But he was so shocked by the light that he couldn't think of a question to ask. Well, when we heard this, we freaked out, ran to the living room, and stuck in The Restoration dvd! When it got to the part where the light appeared when Joseph was praying, he exclaimed, "Oh my gosh! That was my dream!" It was a miracle. He has not heard the story of Joseph Smith or ever seen this dvd! It was incredible. He is still being stubborn, but I can see his heart softening and I know that he will join the Church sooner or later. :)

This was a week full of small miracles! How blessed I am to witness them! I am able to feel the Spirit guiding me to these people and it is incredible!

I would like to recommend to everyone that if you haven't already, please watch the Leadership Training from this past Sunday. Please follow the council that is given to talk to everyone, to be a good example, to befriend them, and to invite them to come unto Christ. Don't be scared. :) The Lord will help you.

I love you all! Thank you for your love and support and prayers! It means everything to me to know that I have so many people I love "cheering me on". :)

Have a wonderful week!
Love, Sister Stanley

Washington Everett Mission

Washington, Week 8

Well, this week started off kinda slow.
Thursday we were able to meet with a few less-active families, and we also got 2 new investigators! A less-active lady in our ward's boyfriend and son. We will be teaching them tonight. I'm pretty excited about that.

Judy dropped us. We went over on Tuesday and tried the quit-smoking program, but then she backed out. I finally just told her how it was. I bore my testimony very boldly because it had come to the time when she had to make a decision. She had to show her faith. Well, she texted us Wednesday evening and told us that she loves us both so much but that she doesn't want to talk about Joseph Smith anymore and she doesn't want to convert. It saddens me, but it had to be done.

Saturday was another exchange, and it actually went really well. Sister Goodrich came to Edmonds with me, and I was the senior companion for the day. We taught a couple lessons, and we got Tiffany to commit to a baptism date again. It's not for awhile (August 31), but I'm thinking she might end up getting baptized before that. We'll see. She came to all 3 meetings this Sunday and she really liked it. She made some friends, and the young women are being excellent at welcoming her. I'm VERY happy about that!

A couple of small miracles this week: I was having a very rough week and missing home very much. I happened to receive a package from my mom just the very day when I really needed it. Then, as we were driving to exchange back to our companions, Sister Goodrich told me, "You're a really good missionary." That was exactly what I needed to hear. I had been wondering all week. I'm so thankful to my Heavenly Father for being so mindful of me.

Today was also a great day! We got special permission, and Blanca took us over on a ferry to Kingston, which is on the peninsula, just across the water from Edmonds. It was great!
Well...I believe that is all for this week. It's been a week when I have had to pay attention to notice the small miracles, but they have definitely been there. I love Edmonds, and I am thankful to be serving here with Sister Redford.

I love you all! Thank you for your prayers and your support! :) Have a wonderful week!

Sister Stanley
Washington Everett Mission

P.S. The first pic is at the Edmonds Arts Festival, and the last one is from our ferry trip to Kingston.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Washington, Week 7

Well, this week was transfers, and both I and Sister Redford are staying in the Edmonds area. This means that on July 1st, we will become part of the Seattle Mission. This also means that this transfer will be 8 weeks long instead of 6 weeks because Seattle is on a different transfer schedule than Everett.
Not a ton of excitement went on this week. Tuesday we stopped by Judy's again. We hadn't seen her in a little while and I guess she's been having a rough time with things. Tomorrow we are going to start the stop smoking program with her.
Wednesday was zone meeting and Sister Redford and I are now the only sister missionaries in our entire zone!!
Thursday morning we got a referral from Mormon.org. It was for a lady and her 13-year-old daughter and it said that they are very interested in joining our Church. We have gotten a hold of her on the phone, but haven't been able to meet them yet, so hopefully that will happen this week!
On Friday we had an appointment cancel, but hopefully we can get in with him soon!
Saturday we met with Blanca and Tiffany. Tiffany has been wanting to pray in the woods, so we met them at a park that we found a couple weeks ago, and we let her pray there. Then we taught Tiffany about the law of chastity and also tithing and fasting. She committed to living both. She also told us that she wants to push her baptism back because she wants to learn more. Yesterday we introduced her to the Young Women and they were very welcoming and got her sign-up sheets for youth conference and girls' camp, so hopefully that will help her too!
That morning we also got a call from Jerry telling us that he is working Saturdays at his old job here in our area and that he wanted us to come over. He also told us that Sue Kelly had just gotten out of the hospital that morning because she had minor heart attack. We got a couple men in our ward to come give her a blessing, then we visited a bit with Jerry. He is very interested in the Church, so hopefully he will commit soon. :)
That night for dinner we ate with a part member family. The mom and 2 kids are members, but the husband is not. After dinner we shared a message with them, just like we always do after dinner, and he kind of got really frustrated and an argument started with him kinda raising his voice to no one in particular (but looking at his wife), so we just kind of sat there. Then the 12-year-old boy, who is just the cutest, said, "This has gotten kinda awkward. I think this is more of a personal thing that we should talk about later." It was very cute. Anyway, I think we ended up leaving on a good note, and he wants us back for dinner....kinda weird, but that's OK. ;)
Yesterday Blanca was confirmed and received the holy ghost! :) It was so great and the ward has been so welcoming to her! Also, last night was cottage meeting (Pres. and Sis. Wilson's last one before their service is over). It was bittersweet, but the Spirit was strong there. Jerry told us he took his nice clothes to work so that he could come, but then his replacement didn't show up, so he couldn't come. That was disappointing, but it's OK. He'll have other opportunities. Blanca came though, and she liked it.
Well, that's about it for this week.
Thank you for your prayers and support! You all mean so much to me! One thought from this week that I wanted to share is that we need to notice the miracles that are happening all around us every single day. Recognize them, record them, and more will come. :) The same goes for missionary opportunities. :)  I love you all! Have a wonderful week!
Sister Stanley
Washington Everett Mission

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Washington, Week 6

What a week! Especially the weekend! It was running from one thing to the next. We finally collapsed into bed last night (Me at about 9:30) ;)

Tuesday evening we met with Blanca and her daughters and taught the plan of salvation again since they were there.
Wednesday evening we met with Blanca to teach her again. During our lesson we called Elder Sparks so she could ask him to baptize her. He told her that he would, but he was going home on Monday. So she said, "We have to move it forward!" :) So, she moved her date up to Sunday, June 2nd! We through together the baptism like 2 crazy people! ;) After Tuesday, our week was mostly devoted to Blanca and making sure she had an understanding of all that is needed to know before baptism.
She is AMAZING! She told us that her fiance had been treating her differently but that not even that could make her change her mind. She has incredible faith and is such an example to me! I am SO thankful that I could witness her faith and testimony growing!
Wednesday we hit her with the "big guns" (commandments) and she accepted every single one with perfect understanding. :) She is incredible. I love her so much!
The downfall for that day was that we found out that Brother Bowhey has decided to be offended, so we are praying and fasting for his heart to be softened. We did invite Jennifer to the baptism yesterday and she did show up. She also brought her daughters to the primary activity on Saturday and a birthday party that happened in the ward. So, we think they will return to church soon.
Anyway, we met with Blanca again on Thursday. We taught her the rest of everything she needed to know before baptism and set up her baptism program. We also brought a YSA girl with us will be receiving her call soon. She sounds a lot like me in that she is very quiet and very nervous about tracting. So we took her with us for some tracting and then to Blanca's. Her mom and aunt were there and they made us DELICIOUS enchiladas! I was in Heaven ;)
Friday we were on exchange with the sister training leaders until 3:00. We helped someone in the ward move from 4-7, then got changed and met Blanca at the church to fill out her baptism record. Then President Wilson came at 8 and interviewed Blanca for baptism while we practiced our musical number. After that the Spanish elders came and went over the procedure with her. That was all really great!
Saturday we did the missionary stake primary activity from 9:30-1:30 for ages 8-11. All the missionaries in our zone helped out. It was so cute! They made it look like when you go into the MTC and then they gave them their envelope and name tag. As they came into the doors, we gave them a sticker that told them which "country" they'd be called to for the day: Japan, Argentina, or Fiji. The first class was Language and Culture. Someone who served there taught those classes. We were assigned to Japan, so we stayed with that group of kids for the day. They also had passports and they got a stamp in each classroom. The second class was Teaching, and each set of missionaries taught a class. We taught our class how to teach their friends about the Book of Mormon using the pics in the front of the book. They were all really smart! It was great! Then they had lunch and there was food from all those different countries (DELICIOUS!), then there was a music performance by a "band". They sang 3 of the songs from the Nashville tribute to missionaries. We (the missionaries) sang part of it. Then the third class was A Day as a Missionary and they taught them about our schedule. So that was a really cute activity!
After that we ran to make a stop at a recent convert's granddaughter's birthday party that we had been invited to. She turned 5 and she loves us! So we stopped there for a few minutes, then ran to meet Blanca at our apartment. She took us to a baptism in Everett of a girl who Sister Redford taught. After that, we stopped at Jerry's daughter's birthday party. He lives in Everett and invited us. It was the perfect opportunity to pass him off to the Elders that serve in that area. He's insisted that he only wants us to teach him, but I think our attempt on Saturday was successful. He seemed to like the Elders there.
Anyway, after we went back home we had to run a few errands like practicing our song, getting Blanca's baptism program all set up and printed out.
Then yesterday was such a wonderful day! I was on a spiritual high all day! We went to church, taught Gospel Principles, then filled the font, arranged the rooms, copied Blanca's program, etc. Then Blanca and her daughters and their friends came with all this food that Blanca had made and we helped them with that. She's so cute! She also paid her tithing and fast offering yesterday!! And it was so great because TONS of people showed up! Lots from the ward, our mission president, and her mom and brother and fiance all came. She was extremely touched by her brother coming because they have a very rocky relationship and he tried to convince her many times not to join our church. So that was so great for him to come. She cried during our song. We sang a duet of Be Still, My Soul. It was all great during practice, but my voice was shaking so much while we were performing it! Anyway, she loved it. Then a wonderful sister in our ward gave a talk on the Holy Ghost, and it REALLY brought the Spirit. Everyone was touched. Afterwards, her mom was crying (she's very strict Catholic) and later on that evening we went to Blanca's house and her fiance, Vincent had tons of questions for us. He was asking what all these different feelings were and asking why he had butterflies in his stomach and why Blanca looked different like "the way we all do" after she was baptized. It was so great! The Spanish elders went over and talked to Blanca's mom when she was crying after the baptism too, to let her know what it was that she was feeling. It was SUCH a wonderful day! :) I'm so truly grateful to have been a part of it!
Later on, we went to Everett again for a double baptism of people Sister Redford taught in her last area. When we got home, we basically collapsed and then woke up bright and early this morning. :) It was truly an incredible week.
Also, Tiffany (Blanca's 13-year-old daughter) committed to baptism on June 15th!! HOORAY!! :)
Look this week for all the missionary opportunities we have all around us. :) I love you!
Love Forever, Sister Stanley
Washington Everett Mission

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

First Week in Washington

Well...this week has been pretty crazy and also really tough for me. I pray so hard and for so long every night.
My new companion is Sister Redford. She's from Mesa, AZ. We were assigned to the Edmonds ward in the Shoreline stake. We have been assigned to "whitewash" the area, which means that we are both new here. Also, there haven't been sister missionaries here in over 10 years. This week has been tough trying to get our bearings. Also, the apartment was a mess and full of Elders' stuff! We have been cleaning and we overfilled that giant box you sent me with all the stuff they left behind. It was pretty crazy. A closet full of clothes, shoes, and even garments! But it smells a lot less like Elder in there now, which is good. The first night we arrived, I was so exhausted from overload of information, new things, etc. It meant the world to me to have my blankie and pillow. I slept like a baby. It was wonderful. The mattresses are super crappy, but the elders left comforters, so I folded one and put it under my sheets, so it's comfy now.
Anyway, Edmonds is almost the very south of the mission. It's south of Everett. From sitting here at the computer in the library, I look out the window and can see the water. It's very beautiful. Edmonds has the largest ferry fleet. We went street contacting at the marina the other night. It was so beautiful! I loved it!
So...I received a bit of news this week. On July 1st, we will be getting a new mission president, but that is also when the new mission will be created in Federal Way. Part of the Seattle mission will go to Federal Way, and the southernmost areas of Everett mission will go to the Seattle mission. So, unless I get transferred for some reason at the end of my first 6 weeks, I will be going to the Seattle mission. I'm just a little sad because all my MTC friends will be in the Everett mission still. But anyway, I will do whatever the Lord asks of me, and I know that if I'm meant to stay here, then I will be transferred before then. But most of the time, people stay with their trainers in the same area for their first 12 weeks. Anyway, I guess we will see.
This is a good ward up here. The area is GIANT! Definitely weird for me, being from a 2-street ward. I can't believe how much area it spans. Also, there are a billion apartment complexes in our area, so lots of work to be done here. Only one appointment that the elders had set up for us actually worked out. That was on Wednesday night. We went to see a really old guy named Michael. We taught him the lesson of the Restoration, and he seemed very receptive and we committed him to read the Book of Mormon and to pray about it. The relief society president had to go with us because we have to have another adult female to go anywhere where there's just a guy. She is really awesome! Her name is Sister Pickett. Oh, and we are meeting with Michael again this Wednesday. We went to teach a lesson, and totally had the guy peek through the blinds and then not answer the door! Rude! Another wasn't home, and the other there was a confusion in language and we ended up at different places and now we have to reschedule. We have also attempted to visit a few less-active members, but a lot of those didn't work out either. And I noticed that at the grocery store, everyone avoids making eye contact with me. That's really new and it's something that's hard for me to get used to. Being rejected so much in my first week really started to take a toll on me. I keep going and praying though.
Please pray for me. I know that you already do, but maybe an extra prayer?
Also, one of our zone leaders is Elder Schmidt, and his dad is Jon Schmidt. He is coming to do a concert/devotional at the end of May, so that's pretty cool!
We were also able to teach a lesson to a recent convert. She was baptized in September, and her husband is still investigating, so we're praying for him as well. He enjoys going to church and to elders quorum, so hopefully. There is also a family who doesn't like being pushed, but they all have strong testimonies and they come to church every week, and they have been for a long time. Everyone always tells us how awesome they are, so we'll be working with them too hopefully.
Yesterday I actually raised my hand and commented in Relief Society. We were discussing how we can gain peace. I said, "The only way I can ever have peace is to give everything up to the Lord. I know that I have no control over any of the things that I worry about. I have to have faith and trust that He will watch over my family, He will lead me to those I need to teach, and He will give me the words to say." When I started talking, the room went totally silent, which was weird, and Sister Pickett said, "That's really wise advice." So that was cool. I felt very strongly that I should say that. That's something that I really have had to do, especially being here. I have to remind myself every time I start worrying about anything. Then I have peace.

Thank you everyone for all your prayers and support! I need them all ;)
I love you and miss you like crazy!
Love, Sister Stanley
Washington Everett Mission

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Washington, Week 5

This week was very challenging, but also rewarding!
I asked Blanca if she would be baptized by someone holding the proper priesthood authority of God, and she said yes! June 15th is the date! I am so incredibly happy for her! She is going to be such an amazing member of the church!
This week we also helped a member move. She was so filled with gratitude when we went over to her apartment and I told her we could get the use of a giant truck and members of the ward. That was really rewarding to me and I was so thankful that I could help someone to feel such gratitude.
Also, Sunday we got to go to the Jon Schmidt concert/fireside in Arlington. It was so great! I invited the same ward member to go with us and she just kept telling us thank you so much. She doesn't have a home and is actually not sure where she'll be going next, so that's why she is so thankful for our help. I was so happy I got to be a part of helping her.
This week we have also had a lot of half and half weather days. Saturday morning was sunny and warm, Saturday evening was pouring rain. Sunday morning was pouring rain and Sunday evening it stopped again. The saying around here is if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes. But yesterday was pouring rain all day. The first full rainy day that I have experienced since being here.
I also had my first "door-slam" this week! It surprises me just how little it effected me. I was so worried that it would make me sad, but we just went to the next door and tried again. It was actually kind of funny because right before slamming the door, she said, "...and I'm being nice!" ;) I was like, OK, thanks for not being mean! ;) It was silly.
Well, I think that's about it for this week. Thank you so much for all your support and love and prayers. It truly means the world to me. I have seen missionaries who don't have the support that I do, and it just makes me so, so thankful for each one of you!
I love you!
Love, Sister Stanley
Washington Everett Mission
P.S. 1st pic: Ready to work
2nd pic: the caterpillar tree at the dog beach...just about the grossest thing I have ever seen. It was COVERED in these caterpillar nests
3rd pic: not pleased with the cold, rainy day

Washington, Week 4

This week was...exhausting. Physically, spiritually, and mentally. To be honest, I don't remember most of it. I think I blocked it out or something.
Tuesday I was on crutches all day to try to keep the weight off my foot. But they were the kind that go around your wrists. They HURT so badly! My hands got to the point by the end of the day that I literally couldn't use them a single time more and I had to just walk without them. But then I hurt my foot even more, so that was not so great.
Anyway, that day we went to see Jerry again and he told us that it was his last day working at the group home, so we lost him as an investigator, which makes me really sad. But we did give him a Book of Mormon and he told us to call him, but we will have to refer him to the missionaries who serve in the area where he lives. But he says he only wants to be taught by us, so...we'll see how that goes.
Wednesday we did service in a non-member's home. We're hoping that she will become an investigator. She's been accepting reading assignments from us in the Book of Mormon. It's just really hard for me to go there because she smokes inside her home and she also has cats. So...I started having an asthma attack as we were leaving and I had to rest for awhile.
We did have a good experience with a couple of less-active ladies in our ward that night though. They are cousins and live together and they really love us. We took The Testament dvd to their house and watched it with them. They both got emotional, so that's a good sign. We're working on getting them to come back to church. I think they're close.
Thursday was zone conference and that ended up lasting all day. 9-5.
But, the highlight to my week took place Thursday night! We had a lesson with the Abrego family that we met last Saturday and who came to church on Sunday. The mom (Blanca) and her 13 yr old daughter (Tiffany) are SO prepared. It is just amazing. Blanca cried and told us that every time she reads from the Book of Mormon and she hears us teach she just feels like she's "come home". :) It's wonderful. She and Tiffany said that when they receive an answer about Joseph Smith and about if joining the church is what Heavenly Father wants for them, then they will get baptized. I'm guessing they'll commit this week. I sure hope so! They also came to church again yesterday! Yay! We just have to work a little more with KT, the 19 yr old. But I'm sure she'll see the happiness it brings her mom and sister.
Friday we met with Jen Bowhey and her husband Steve. They told us that they decided that Steve will baptize Jen when he receives the priesthood. So, I'm hoping that he at least will get baptized this Saturday. We are hoping and praying!
Ellen, the 11 yr old that we've been teaching doesn't follow through with her commitments and her mom told her that she couldn't go to church, so I'm thinking we might have to drop her as an investigator, which also makes me sad.
Friday night we went on an exchange with our sister training leaders. I went to Kirkland with Sister Morgan, and Sister Goodrich came to Edmonds with Sister Redford. So all day Saturday we were on exchange. This was the hardest, most draining day of my mission so far. We walked a total of about 4 hours, meeting rude person after rude person. It was beautiful, but people are just not nice. In 4 hours of tracting we came across only 1 potential investigator. We walked and walked and climbed hills and driveways so steep, I almost had to use my hands. That night after I got back home to Edmonds, I just crashed on my bed. I was so exhausted and just felt like crying. And yes, I'm still very sore ;) But, from this experience I have become SO much more thankful for Edmonds! I LOVE it here! People are so much nicer and I am just so, so thankful to be here!
Also, yesterday we spoke in church. I kinda felt like I was all over the place, but a lot of people told me thank you after and that it was really nice and they really liked it. So, I hope it really was and that they weren't just being nice ;)
So anyway, that's my week. I am so thankful for this new week. I know that it will be so much better and that we are going to have success! I'm SO thankful for prayer and for the great power of the Comforter. Thank you for your prayers and your support! I love each of you so much! :)
Love Forever, Sister Stanley
Washington Everett Mission