Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas in Richmond!

All the sisters at the ugly sweater party. We've got Sis. Schorzman and Sis. Niemela serving in Gayton...Sis. Stoehr, Hermana Law (who I went on exchanges with), and me, and Hermana Cowley...the hermanas serve in the Henrico Branch which is the whole Richmond Stake.

Too bad we didn't have this picture in time for our Christmas card!

The good ole elders and their ugly sweaters and mustaches. They got the hair for their mustaches from a family in the Branch. All the YW in the Branch pretty much have fake hair braided in, they had plenty to share with the elders. The AP's also came to the party.

The whole group that made it to the end of the party. It was the best ugly sweater party ever!

The Naylors! She got him a nice soft blanket and she got a snuggie! Yay for snuggies! Sis. Stoehr has been wearing the snuggie the last couple of day. Haha

This in on Christmas Day. We went out for a walk around the lake they have in their complex. It was nice and cold, but I got to wear the new hat, glove, scarf combo Sis. Campbell gave me. This was right before it started snowing.

Sis. Stoehr eating sweet potato souffle with her white elephant gift...an enormously long fork.  Haha.  It is collapsible

Good Times in Richmond

Filling up the font at the Monument building is quite the process compared to other buildings, so we decided to have some fun while we were cleaning/filling the font up. This is me in the font.

This is Vernitta and her family that came to the baptism. She lives with her daughter and her grandkids and her friend, Virginia, also came. Both her daughter and her friend, Virginia, wanted a Book of Mormon after the baptismal service was over. It was a really good baptism and the Spirit was very strong as it should be at baptisms! We have yet to teach them because of the holidays, but this upcoming week we should be able to teach Dean, her daughter. We have already taught the grandkids a couple of times. Jessica is 11 and Rashod is 6.

Us with Sister Vernitta Manuel. She was baptized 2 weeks and a day after we met her. That is not common, it was a miracle. She eats it all up and loves to learn. Sis. Soriano made a trip to SLC the week before her baptism and brought Vernitta back an extra large print triple combination. Vernitta has had 3 strokes, and because of that her eye sight is not so bueno.

Just another one of those weird random things we see as we drive the streets of Richmond.
This is my favorite of the random things we see as we drive the streets of Richmond. Apparently someone puts this car here every year. It is so funny to drive by. They have Santa at the wheel with lights under the car and presents on the trunk and a tree on top. As we stopped to take pictures, tons of people kept driving by the look at it. It was so funny! Everything you need and want for Christmas in a car.


Another picture with the kids from the projects. This was a good group this time. I'm not even sure who half the little kids are. They had a lot of friends this time. The elders taught this lesson and they committed each kid to give away the pass along card to someone for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


The email before the call...dun dun dun

 Christmas is coming so fast! We are spending Christmas Eve night at the Naylor's house (the senior couple) and having Christmas with them. We went and got them some fun stocking things and some slippers. It'll be so fun! They have a Christmas tree and everything. We are going to the Ibrahim's for Christmas Eve and having some African food I hope! And then the zone is having an ugly sweater party and white elephant gift exchange and then hopefully looking at some lights and on to the Naylor's. It's going to be soooo fun!

This last weekend we had the baptism for Vernitta Manuel. It went so well and she had family that came and they all wanted a Book of Mormon and to learn more. Her brother in CA already knows missionaries and was just supporting her all the way. The Branch even had a decent turnout at the baptism even though half the Branch is out of town! Sis. Stoehr, Sis. Naylor, and I sang "When I Am Baptized." It seems like I've been singing in a lot of special numbers lately, but nope STILL CAN'T SING! It's a good thing I don't get embarressed easily. We have this older man in the Branch named Brother Keene. He is the best thing to hit the Branch. He is the man when it comes to fellowshipping the recent converts. He is around 85, works full time, and is so sweet. His wife recently died and he lives with his son and daughter in law and his mother in law who is younger than him. Haha. He gets the over age 50 recent converts together on Saturday afternoons and they all watch church movies together. The night of Vernitta's baptism he already called and chatted with her and went by Sunday morning to pick her up. Oh yeah, he also picks all of the older recent converts up too because none of them drive. Well Bro. Raymond Woods drives (he's 90) but his car hasn't been working for awhile. The Branch is just so funny. We keep finding these single women to teach. Sis. Stoehr and I both feel like there is a family here that the Lord is preparing, but we just haven't found them. Sis. Adaniya and I felt the same thing. So we are still trying to find this family. Vernitta was confirmed on Sunday and has just fit right in with the Branch. It's so fun here. Parents, you're going to love it! It'll be different than any ward you've visited, but you'll love it!

We are still teaching Inez Thornton. She rocks! She has been really involved in all these other churches and she told us yesterday that she cut off all ties with the other churches. She was saying how they aren't getting it and they keep calling her. She knows this is right and there is no need for other churches. She showed up to church early yesterday and the Glen Allen elders luckily had met her the week before and spotted her and took her to Sunday School with them. So she had 4 hours of church yesterday. The Branch just started a FH sunday school class too, and she has been going to that! When she was talking to the Glen Allen elders they asked her if she had thought about being baptized (they know she's set for 1/15/11) and she said that she was and told them her date and said she "thinks the sisters are going to ask me to move it up" or something to that effect. We hadn't talked about it, but from what the elders said, she might want to. She'll be ready in time, so we are going to talk more about it tonight. Last night at the church they had the Richmond Mormon Chorale sing and we decided to go to see if any members brought friends and Inez was there and came by herself. She can handle being alone, which is nice because we don't have to always call her to make sure she is coming to church and yada yada. She is so cool! So many cool single ladies here in Richmond. Oh and she has a car!

Thursday we had snow pretty much from 9am to 3pm and it was coming down good. We couldn't use our cars, and it was snowing too hard, so nobody in Richmond went out. The city was deader than dead. It was so pretty. We had to go out in it because it was too inviting. I had been craving pizza for weeks and so we ordered in some Papa John's. Sis. Dickson and I did that last year. The new being snowed in tradition.

We had a lesson with the Thompson family last night. They are a really cute family that came to Richmond for med school and just haven't left yet. They've been here 10 years and have 3 cute little girls. We went around and said something we love about Jesus and the 2 year old looks at us and said "Cake" and we all just start laughing. It might be one of those you had to be there moments, but it was so funny. And the 6 year old on her own came up with her answer by herself. She said she loved Jesus because he created us. Cute!

Mom, that DVD is awesome! We've used it in a couple of lessons already. Everyone loves it. And it has MY picture in it too! It's really neat that is shows paintings of Christ when he was younger. It's been interesting to talk to people about Christ at this time of the year and see what they do to show Christ their love. The best things I think we can do are to love each other and treat each other like we do AND to be obedient. That's what Christ asks of us. One of my favorite obedience scriptures comes from one of my favorite Book of Mormon prophets...does anybody know? King Benjamin! Mosiah 2:22...all that He requires of you is to keep His commandments...

Well I hope you are all ready for Christmas. We have our Christmas Mission Conference tomorrow and then afterwards I am going to the Henrico spanish branch till Thursday morning. I am finally going zebra...even if it is just for a day and a half. Yes, per my request. They are trying to get us on more exchanges and because my time is limited I gave my opinion. Next, hopefully the country or the suburbs. In all my mission I've only served in the same type of place. City and ghetto. I don't really want to serve anywhere else because I love city and ghetto, but for an exchange it would be perfect! I'll keep you posted. And cross your fingers I get some gooooood Mexican food. I am already practicing my Spanish. I'm thinking caroling in Spanish!

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Snowing!

Hey! We woke up to snow and now are enjoying it! It's so pretty. I forgot how much I liked snow. Luckily it's not too cold out or I probably wouldn't like it as much. Haha. Wow, Christmas is coming up so fast. It feels like the beginning of December, but it's not! We have seen some interesting decor around here. One thing that people do here is get on their 2nd floor and fasten the string of lights to the top and then drop them off and call it good. And they use a lot of the rope lights. So we see houses with a bunch of lights coming straight down from one spot and then just pile at the bottom. There is no order to it at all. We have enjoyed that. Haha

We have had such a great transfer so far and it's only been one and a half weeks. We have seen lots of miracles so far. When Sis. Adaniya was here we kept going back to this one street called Garland Ave. Well when Sis. Stoehr got here she was looking at the map and pointed out that she liked Garland Ave. At the time we had 2 investigators on Garland Ave. and have been tracting around each time we went there. So her first full day here we went to follow up with a former investigator on Garland Ave. and did some more tracting and the second door we knock we meet Vernitta Manuel. As we were telling her who we were she looks at us and asks "so are you gonna come in?" So we did and we taught her the Restoration and then she came to Stake Conference that Sunday. Then we saw her pretty much everyday this week. And she came to church yesterday and just loved it! She is going to be baptized this Saturday the 18th at 4pm. She just loves everything we teach her. At Stake Conference Sis. Derricott bore her testimony and talked about quitting smoking and coffee and when we taught Vernitta the lesson after Stake Conference she brought it up how she used to smoke 1.5 packs a day and she was down to a half pack. She is still working on quitting...only a couple more left...so if she is able to stop by her goal of Thursday then she will get baptized on Saturday. She is so prepared it's not even funny. She is like David Payne in Norfolk...just unbelievably ready for the fullness of the gospel. The Ward Mission Leader picked her and Janice, one of the ladies the elders are teaching for church. On the way home Janice was talking about how she is just wanting more knowledge and not getting it. So Vernitta shared her testimony about how it's going to be fine and this is the right thing, etc. It was sweet to hear about that! And another cool thing is that Vernitta's brother in California has met with missionaries before and if I understood her correctly he has asked them to come back. He is being so supportive to her and just helping her to be excited. How refreshing that she isn't getting anti from him!!!!

We are also teaching a friend of Sis. Ibrahim's named Inez. Inez is so cool and she is also soooo prepared for the gospel. Referrals and prepared people are coming out of the cracks and it is sweet! Last transfer was so hard to find real solid investigators, but this transfer is so amazing. We love it so much because we are teaching people who want it and are keeping their committments. We still have those that don't, but it's nice that we have a handful of progressing investigators.

Most everyone here in the Branch will leave for Christmas break, so as a Branch we are done with Christmas parties except for the program next Sunday.  The different families will probably have some things going on that hopefully we can join in on.  As a zone we are going to have a Christmas Eve ugly sweater white elephant party.  It'll be fun.  Sis. Adaniya and I found a trumpet in our trash area once, so we cleaned it up and Sis. Stoehr and I will take that for our white elephant gift.  We thought that would be funny.  And the Ibrahim's signed up to have us for Christmas Eve, so instead of Mexican food I will probably have African food!  Haha, so fun.  I love this family.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Another week

Hello everyone! I hope you are doing great and enjoying the Christmas spirit. We had such a great day yesterday! It was Stake Conference and it was just so good. Pres. & Sister Perry were among the speakers. Pres. spoke about 1 Corinthians 12. I've heard him talk about it before, but this time he expounded more and it was so insightful. This chapter talks about the body of Christ and the eluding message is of unity. A few of the verses talk about how there are many members of Christ's body, but only one body. So as a member of Christ's church we make up that body of Christ and we are all necessary for it to be complete. He metioned how the feeble are necessary and shared a nice story and also shared a story relating to the "less honourable". I love this chapter in the Bible. It really does help to see that those we think aren't likely to accept the gospel or those we think aren't worthy...they are and they are necessary. I wish you could have been there because there is no way to paraphrase it. Also at Stake Conference Pres. Anderson spoke on the real meaning of Christmas. He shared great testimony and it was a great lead into the First Presidency Christmas Devotional that we watched last night. I hope you've all been able to watch it. It's on lds.org if not.

This new transfer has just been so wonderful. I love Sis. Stoehr. She is from Colorado, northern Denver. She was trained by Sis. Cox and has been out half her mission. She just came from the rich area south of here with all white people. This is quite a change for her, but she is excited to be in Richmond. That's helped me a lot too. I loved Richmond last transfer, but not the way I love it now. We have already seen so many miracles. The first full day she was here we did a little tracting around an investigator and we knocked on Vernitta's door. We tell her we're missionaries, give a brief rundown and she just looks at us and said "so are you coming in?" Haha, it was awesome! So we teach her the Restoration and she was really feeling the Spirit. Because of her background she knew she was too! She said she felt happiness as we shared the First Vision. She came to Stake Conference and it was such a good experience for her. As of Saturday evening she wasn't coming. I said to Sis. Stoehr that we had to get an investigator to church every Sunday this transfer and she said let's do it. So we prayed and then shortly after Vernitta called us and said she wanted to come to church. Ahhhh!!!! She just loved it and everyone kept asking her if she was coming back next week. She started out by saying that she wasn't sure and then by the end of talking to people, she was saying yes! We've had some other great experiences and great lessons too, but unfortunately not the time for them. Things this transfer are just so great. I feel freed almost. It's weird, but I know Sis. Stoehr and I will see the Lord's hand in many things this transfer.

I finally ate at Ronnie's Ribs. It was soooo good. And I will try and save more time next week to email pics to you! Can Santa grant me more time on email for Christmas?!?!

Oh one funny thing...we had a lesson yesterday with this man who was at his father's house and some pastor guy was there. When we found out he was a pastor I got the distinct impression twice in my mind not to invite him to sit in on the lesson. We had a member with us and she is bold and invited him/practically told him to come. So I was nervous about that. As we were talking about prophets he made a big stink and the member and he started arguing, so after some arm twisting we asked him to leave and he did and we were able to really have a good lesson after that. But that definitely made for an awkward and hilarious memory.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Another transfer...just not me!

Sounds like everybody had a great Thanksgiving in Mesa. It was really great here in Richmond! We went to Misty Gholson's house with her and her 5 kids. I will have to email pics later...running short on time. Her kids are 13, 9, 6, 5, and 2. It was soooo fun! We had some different foods for Thanksgiving than I am used to and it was all really good. We had collard greens, mac & cheese, macaroni salad, lil smokies, sweet potato pie and then a lot of the traditional foods. In the evening we went to the Thompson's house and they had over the elders and a bunch of other young families who didn't go home for Thanksgiving. We had banana pudding there...they had a lot of food left by the time we got there. We went late just for games! The banana pudding sucked me in. It's so good. How did I never have it before VA?!?! And then after that we went to Sis. Campbell's with the elders and we watched Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration. It was another P-Day, so I took a nap! Thanksgiving was a lot of fun and my VA family took good care of us!

So yep, transfer calls last night. I am staying in Richmond and Sis. Stoehr (steer) is coming here. She has been with Sis. Dickson in the Manchester Ward the last few transfers. She has been out 9 months. Sis. Adaniya is replacing elders in Charlottesville with Sis. Cooper. That should be a lot of fun! I don't really know much about Sis. Stoehr, but everytime I see her she is really positive and upbeat and I do know she is a hard worker. That is so good because Richmond needs a serious overhaul, so it's good that we are both new to the area and have no bias about members or areas of the city. She was trained by Sis. Cox during her last 2 transfers in the mission.

We have recently been talking a lot in meetings about how important the Sacrament is.  Getting people to church in the areas I have served has been a struggle, but it is "the most important meeting to the salvation of our souls."  I can't remember where that quote came from, but I like it.  What I've learned in a nutshell about the Sacrament on my mission: The sacrament itself is more than just remembering Christ.  We should remember Him always as we covenant to do.  The important part about sacrament is receiving the remission of our sins.  It's like we are being rebaptized each Sunday.  The remembering is just a fraction.  We should think throughout the sacrament about the covenants we made at baptism and repent and think of how we can be more like Christ.  It's in D&C 20:77 and Moroni 4:3 where we can read the prayer for the bread where the covenants we make are listed.  It's the renewing of our covenants (done in mind and heart) which makes the sacrament so important...more important than even General Conference.  As we promise to keep those covenants each Sunday, the Lord promises us a remission of our sins and His Spirit.  So it really is like baptism! 

We had a really funny experience last week. We were tracting on this street and one lady comes up to the door and says "one minute" and she was on the phone. And suddenly she says on the phone, "let's pray". So she starts with the Lord's Prayer and then keeps going on. After a minute or two she starts getting louder and her voice has a rythm to it and then she started stomping eventually and raising her arm. She was getting really into it. At close to 10 minutes of us waiting and laughing (inside and out! we couldn't help it!-she had her back to us!) I said "ma'am" and got no response. She was so into her prayer! We finally had to leave for a lesson and so we just left a card. I wanted to talk to her so bad! It really puts into perspective what Christ means when He says to pray in our closets and secret places. Hahaha we are still laughing about her. Here are some quotes: "And we pray for those in the institutions. We know you died for them too." "And we love everyone, even if they're gay." I would have to say this was the highlight of last week because it was so unreal and soooo funny. I love Virginia! Oh and Sis. Ibrahim made us some good African food too. She made this spicy spinach tilapia dish with mashed white yams and fried plantains. I love my life!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hey from Richmond, Monday, Nov. 22

Hi family! Sounds like Ashlyn's baptism was really nice. I'm sad I missed it, but I am so happy that she made the decision to be baptized.

I spent 4 days last week at the Leadership Training Meeting. It was so awesome! We were trained on how to not just teach lessons or just invite people to do things, but how to teach to the people and their needs and how to help them keep committments. We've had trainings on those things my whole mission, but it is a new training program that will begin at the MTC in May. Our mission is one of those that is trying the new program out to fix any kinks. I think it's great. We've been having Zone and District trainings on it since Pres. Perry got here and it's really helped us a lot. In the evenings I was with Sis. Niemela and Sis. Butterfield in the Gayton area. We had a Thanksgiving dinner with one of the Gayton members. I love pumpkin pie! Feel free to send pumpkin goodies my way this holiday season. The member here in Richmond that we are having Thanksgiving with doesn't like pumpkin pie, so I won't get any on Thanksgiving. But we'll probably make some rounds to find some :) We are eating Thanksgiving dinner with Misty and her 5 kids. Her daughters Joyce and Ashley are recent converts and she has started to come back to church since their baptism. They are such a fun little family. They have a lot of trials in their lives, but they find a lot of happiness in the gospel. It's refreshing to see families/individuals like this who literally see the change in their lives when they let Christ back in. I read somewhere, probably PMG, a line that goes something like, we don't truly have faith in Christ until we start living the principles and ordinances of the gospel.

We had a fun FHE last week with the kids from the projects. We meet with them every week along with the elders. We usually meet at the park, but now because it's so dark we are meeting at the Ibrahim's house. They live in the Gilpin Court projects. The elders make us call them when we enter the area and they wait for us outside and walk us in. It's kind of funny, but really nice. The Ibrahim's are the best. They are from Nigeria and she is a great cook. She had dinner for us last week and we are going again on Wednesday for dinner too. She pulls out a regular dinner plate and fills the whole thing with rice and then slaps on fish, beef, and the best fried chicken ever. We passed those over to the elders and offered to help dish our own. The elders must have been so full, because those plates were loaded. Haha. She is a really good cook! We are teaching the lesson tonight and I hope she has food again :) We are having a charades activity and it's going to be so funny. We are bringing props for bonus points. We have randomly collected a drum and a trumpet and some other various items recently, so we thought it would be perfect to use them tonight. We've wondered what to do with them and now we know. Haha

So yesterday the 5 of us missionaries and Sis. Naylor (senior couple sister) sang in sacrament meeting. I thought I was going to pass out. We sang a song called Servants of Our God. Sis. Campell in the ward wrote and composed it and a few weeks ago walked up to us and said you're singing in church in 3 weeks. It's a good thing she told us, otherwise I might have politely declined. I don't know how it sounded, but I hope okay. Haha. Never again, never again.

Have a great Thanksgiving!!!!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekly News from Richmond

We had the Primary Program yesterday. It was really good. We have a pretty small Primary, but pretty much all of the kids sang and sang good! Because of being in Singles for a long time, I have missed out on lots of Primary programs. But I've had 2 in the last 6 weeks!

This last Wednesday the whole mission had a car fast. So no car from 10am-5pm. No big deal for most elders who aren't even in a car and they also all have bikes. Long day for sisters who have feet as the alternate mode of transportation. We had to move a lesson because we couldn't get anyone to come with us and it was really far away! I like the idea of a car fast, but 7 hours is long! If we had small areas like they do in South America it wouldn't be a big deal. Our area is surprisingly large. We will be doing it the 2nd Wednesday of every month, so we'll plan better next time. More advance notice.

I found out on Saturday night that this upcoming Tue-Fri I will be attending a Leadership Training in another area along with a few other sisters and all the DL's and ZL's. They do it every couple of months and I'm up now. So we've been last minute trying to figure out what Sis. Adaniya is going to do. She will be with Hermana Law and in the evenings I think I will be in the Gayton area with another sister who serves there that is also going to the training. It's kind of a mess. Normally they just have all the sisters stay at the mission home, but the 3 of us going from the Richmond Zone have to come back to Richmond. So we'll miss out on the fun sister stuff. Unless of course we talk to Sis. Perry and she lets us join in ;)

We taught quite a few lessons this week with most of them being recent coverts and less active members. There are a lot in the Branch! This area is just so different from my others. Hardly any of our new investigators keep their appointments, which in Norfolk most of the people kept their appointments! It's weird because we really don't teach that many investigator lessons throughout the week. I don't really like that! I can't figure out why either. I really feel like there is a family that we are supposed to find that we haven't found yet. I like Richmond and the Branch is really diverse, but I have really missed Norfolk this week. I hope to see Sis. Vawdrey at the training, but I don't know if she gets to come or not. David Payne is supposed to be getting baptized this Saturday, so I hope that's still happening!!!

We have one investigator with a baptismal date, Jessica. I think I mentioned her before. She's the one who was a member until her mom had her name removed when she was younger. She wasn't able to come to church again yesterday, so we might need to move her baptismal date back another week or two. She is doing well, but still needs to be taught a lot. We have had a few sisters in the ward come to the lessons and that is really helpful for her. She really likes everyone she meets! Her concerns are more social and cultural that doctrinal. Whenever we teach her doctrine she has her doctrinal questions answered without having to ask them, which is great. But she has concerns about not wanting to take out her piercings and she has tattoos and things like that. Lots of people have those concerns, but that is small potatoes compared to gaining a spiritual witness of Christ's church.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Another Week in Richmond

Richmond is just so different and it's great! There are a lot more opportunities for "creative finding" around here. Just like Phoenix does First Friday, so does Richmond. Friday night we set up a free hot cocoa stand on Broad St. and between us and the elders we passed out anything we could to whoever would listen. We were able to set up some lessons and get some phone numbers. It was really cool and not traditional finding which was so nice! There were a lot of people who didn't want to listen, but we planted many seeds! The missionaries who serve in the singles ward also were there and we heard they found a family. Since they are in the singles, I'm hoping that family will get passed to us...hoping they live in our area of course. Last night we did some finding at the MCV hospital and found out some information for coming to volunteer. There is a big cancer center, so I hope we can volunteer there! While there I saw Sis. Augustine from the Newport News 2nd Ward. I forgot that she worked there and commuted. So it was great to see her. She is having her 2nd c-section in 9 days from now! She is pretty much the exact same story as Neely with trying forever to get pregnant and all the stuff that goes along with it and she also has a 5 year old, but she has girls.

We've been able to have some great lessons with some of the young families in the ward this last week. They are all so excited about the Branch and love everyone in it. It really is a family here in Richmond. We met with the Shafer family last night. They are here for dental school. They live out of the area and were assigned to come to the Branch. They are awesome!!!! They both served missions and are still interested in sharing the gospel and helping to fellowship and teach! She's been out with us twice and has a powerful testimony. We talked to them about how it's inspired of the Lord for them to be where they are and that if they continue to go about doing good the Lord will lead them to people who are prepared to hear the restored gospel. I love Ch.9 in PMG! We read with them "Find Them That Will Receive You" and parts from "Go About Doing Good". It is a promise to all that if we seek to do the Lord's will then He will allow us opportunities to invite others to come unto Christ. It doesn't mean those opportunities will necessarily result in a baptism, but surely cultivating a seed for future acceptance. I hope that in your families you have made a goal to pray and seek for missionary opportunities. I love this quote from I think Elder Uchtdorf, "When our wagon gets stuck in the mud, God is much more likely to assist the man who gets out to push than the man who merely raises his voice in prayer." I know that prayer is only part of it. We have to seek for opportunities and have faith in the Lord that He will help us to know what to say and what to do. Sharing the gospel doesn't have to be big and grand. It can be a simple declaration of our belief, it can be sharing a pass along card to the checker at the store, or it can be inviting someone over to teach them about FHE. Missionary work brings more joy into our lives! Read the First Presidency message at the beginning of PMG for some really sweet promised blessings.

Yesterday we taught our investigator Jessica and brought Sis. Derricott with us. Sis. Derricott was baptized on October 9th and has a really solid testimony of the Restoration and of Joseph Smith and is excited about learning more through the Book of Mormon. Her excitement is really catching and Jessica LOVED her and loved being able to ask her questions about her conversion and how she has been able to overcome opposition in her life. Jessica is getting baptized on Nov. 28th and it is going to be a great day for her. She was baptized at 13 and then a few years later without her knowledge her mother had her name removed from the records. She recently was put back into contact with missionaries and after a whole ordeal the sisters discovered the whole story and now she is preparing to be rebaptized. I had never heard of anything like this before. What an opportunity to be baptized again! Her daughter is almost 5 and is soooo smart. When we taught Jessica on Friday Rosie was combing and playing with my hair during the whole lesson. It was really therapuetic. I need one of those copper head things that are amazing. I don't know what they are called. Does anyone know what I am talking about?

The extra hour of sleep for daylight savings killed me. I was so tired yesterday! And I woke up early today, but luckily went back to sleep. My body is on such a system right now. It's weird. I wonder what I'll be like when I get home. Are my days of sleeping in over? Nah, probably not :)

I love each and every one of you! It is always great to hear how you are doing and of course see how you are doing in pictures. I hope you are doing well and that you are all happy because of the gospel!

Bishop Cluff and his family

My farewell to the sisters at Book Club...definitely their idea :)

Talbot Hall St. in Norfolk

Halloween with the elders in Richmond Branch

Pretty fall leaves!

Monday, November 1, 2010

I'm Coming Home February 22nd

Halloween was fun.  We dressed up like elders for the Friday night Trunk or Treat.  We carried our backpacks around and borrowed some ties from a member.  It was funny and everyone guessed what we were.  I think the elders were jealous because they didn't dress up.  Haha.  A lot of the members brought friends and/or relatives that were either less active or not members, so we have a lot of good referrals to follow up on!  This last week was a pretty cool week.

I have decided to come home on February 22nd. I decided that those 6 weeks would be great to stay on the mission, but I think I want to do what Pres. Millburn would suggest and that would be to go home when the prophet originally called me to. Extending would be cool and I would probably have really awesome experiences, but what I can do back home during those 6 weeks will also be very important to me. I want to go to the mission reunion in SLC during General Conference and we also wanted to come back to visit my mission too. I prayed hard about it and asked the Lord to just help me feel good about a decision because I really had no idea. And as I pondered about it I just decided that staying in the mission an extra 6 weeks will cause me to miss out on some other things I really want to do. So that was that and I'll be home in less than 4 months.

Richmond is so pretty! The fall here is so pretty.  The trees are so pretty and they line the streets. The spring is really pretty too. The houses are very historic and a lot of them built in the early 20th century. Lots of history and things to do, but I probably won't do a whole lot of them, so we'll be busy when we come back. Richmond is sooo different than my other areas in so many ways.  There are a lot of professional working people as well as a lot of VCU students. It's a really cool diversity.  I love all of my areas! I really have served in the best areas! 

Sis. Adaniya and I have a lot of fun and we eat really good food. She knows how to cook all the Japanese food, so I am loving life. She is happy to have a companion that appreciates it!

The Branch is so fun and full of returned missionaries. A lot of RM sisters! Because it's small and a lot of people work, we don't really get many opportunities for them to come out with us...yet. I am all about doing what we need to so we can have member involvement. There is a much higher success rate in retention when members are involved. So we are going to try and start working on refining that and in the process seeking for referrals. I don't think referrals will be a problem coming from this Branch. I am back having 7 missionaries in one ward/branch. We also serve with the zone leaders and they are a trio and we have this new proselyting senior couple in the branch too. The Naylors! The first thing they say to me is Christy says hi. I was so confused until he said he was from Ephraim. I guess he is the neighbor of Christy's parents there in Ephraim. Haha, how cool! What a small world!

Last week was a test of our faith for sure. We set a goal to find 9 new investigators and when we went out Saturday morning we still had a big fat 0. We kept our spirits up all week as much as we could and knew the Lord inspired our goal of 9 new investigators. All of our lessons cancelled on Saturday, so by the time it was time to leave the house Saturday morning, we were just really enthused for the day. Yes, sort of sarcastic. We knew the Lord would provide us with the Spirit to show us what to do and we prayed for angels to help the people we met feel the Spirit. So at the end of the day, the Lord blessed us with 9 new investigators! And it was so awesome! I am out of time, so I cannot really finish explaining my story. Just know the Lord answers prayers and will alway give us ways to strenghten our faith!

Pictures! from Norfolk

My favorite mermaid in Norfolk!

Bro. Corry and some of his relatives/friends. He always has random people show up at his house during our lessons. Haha

Elder Carter and Elder Beus were the tall companionship in Norfolk and we were the short companionship.

David Payne...getting baptized in Norfolk Nov. 20th

The Drake family...they know Craig and Christina from Philadelphia

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hello from Richmond!

I am officially living in Richmond now. How weird. I never thought I would live in Richmond, but it's really cool and a lot more diverse than Newport News and Norfolk. There is no military, which is a bummer, but we have a lot of people that attend VCU. It's diverse because we have the really nice historical homes, but then we also have the Projects. As sisters we have areas that we cannot go to unless we have an appointment and then only during the day. We call it the "never zone". And we also have areas that we try not to be in after 5pm unless we have an appointment. It's weird because I came from Norfolk, which is super ghetto. But ghetto doesn't necessarily mean dangerous I guess... Don't worry, we are careful!! I know what you are all thinking. But trust me, we are not being silly sisters. We are following the restrictions. The Branch is small and they have most of the leadership positions filled by members called in from other wards. So half the ward is out of our boundaries. We have a few African families and a bunch of college students. Two of the YW, both from the African families, when they met me were in amazement of my hair. I wore it down and they kept touching it and telling me they like it. Haha. After Sacrament started I realized that I was one of 2 people with blonde hair and the other ladies was dyed. I tend to stick out with my blonde hair. That's strange because I'm in America. Haha.

Because it's a branch, there aren't as many members and apparently a lot of the women work too. Church is at 11am. I've had 9am church my whole mission and then for almost 3 years before that, so it's different meeting later in the morning. We don't get out till 2pm, so we were starving after! We get an hour of study in the morning before our bishop meeting, which is different. I've never had Sunday study! It's great.

Sister Adaniya is great. We are very similar to each other as far as the work goes, so it's going to be a good transfer. She is a convert of 5 years (sweet!!! to have a convert for a comp!) and her dad was baptized a couple of years ago, but her mom and brother have still not joined. She is Japanese Okinawan, but 2nd generation raised in Hawaii. She likes foreign foods and is a good cook, so we are going to eat good this transfer. We are both excited because she hasn't really had any comps that are into foreign things really. She has done some traveling, so we are going to have a lot of fun this transfer. And we both have some really good ideas of how to help the area grow.

We have a recent convert named Raymond Woods. He got baptized not too long ago at the age of 90. Sound familiar?

I told you about the prank we pulled on the elders right? About the Black Woman perfume on their handlebars? I hope so. Well Elder Meacham finally got me back. He dumped this really smelly cologne into my purse. We were out with a member in Norfolk and I was in front of her and Sis. Vawdrey and they both were like you have to walk behind us, you stink. So now everywhere I go I smell like stinky man cologne. Hopefully with P-Day I will have time to wash my bag. Haha.

Well here is my address:

3300 W Grace St, Apt 3
Richmond, VA 23221

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October Pictures

The Kreitzer's with Vinolia Simmons

At Wasabi, the Tepanyaki place

We get creative when we tract...when no one is home

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Transferred - email from Oct. 18, 2010

So we got our transfer calls last night. Based on some things Pres. Perry said to me in interviews last week I thought I would get to stay another transfer. But I am being transferred to.................................the downtown Richmond Branch! My companion will be Sis. Adaniya. She came out 1 transfer before me and was in the trio in NN1 right before I got there. She is from Hawaii! I don't really know much about her, but that and that she is a hard worker. So it's going to be awesome! Sisters have only been in the Branch for 6 months because of the danger risk. Sister Case opened the area, so she's been excitedly telling me all about it. Apparently there are areas we cannot enter after 5pm and some areas we cannot be in period as sisters. That's kind of like Norfolk except we didn't have actual restrictions...we just follow the Spirit.  It's a way different experience than anything else in my life and I love it! Mom and Dad, you'll just love visiting my areas. Haha. In the Branch we serve with the Zone Leaders and they are usually a trio, so there will be 5 of us. I'm excited for the new change because change on the mission is great. BUT, I am super bummed about leaving Norfolk 2. I love this ward. The members are so great and so supportive and the area is just one of a kind. Sister Vawdrey has been awesome to serve with. We are so depressed to be separated, but we knew it was coming. Pres. told both of us a change in companions was happening.

When I spoke with Pres. we had a really random conversation about all sorts of things. At one point I think he was encouraging me to marry a younger man. Haha. It's likely to happen, let's be honest. Last P-Day we had a zone sports day and Elder Ghelfy, one of the Spanish elders was making fun of me because I am "going to be so old when I get home". At conference he asked how old I was and we ended up figuring out we were the same age for another 2 days anyways. So at P-Day he was telling me that I would be 27 when I get home and all sorts of lies! And I told him he was old then. But he said because I am a sister that makes me old and that I am going to be single forever because I am going to be old when I get home. I was so mad at him! He is blacklisted from the cool elder list.

So I got a phone call from the office the other day saying that I need to decide now if I am going to be going home in February or April. Ahhhh! I don't know. That's forever away! I am supposed to let them know asap. How can I make that decision so far in advance? I didn't think I would be given an option because Pres. Millburn said that we go home whenever our release date is...Feb 22. But Pres. Perry is a little different and he lets us decide. So I need your advice and opinions on what you think. Please, send me these in your emails next week because I told them I will let them know after I hear from my family about it. I keep thinking, it's just 6 weeks why not stay? And then I keep thinking how I have no idea what I'm going to do when I get home, so I should go in Feb so I can start figuring it out before school application dates close in. Ahhhh! I really have NO idea what I'm going to do when I get home.

Yesterday we had dinner with the coolest family. The Peterson's are such a sweet family and are in Norfolk for med school. She reminds me so much of Christina, it's crazy! They have the cutest son too with the whitest hair! His name is Brayden. He served in Russia, so he said he'd make us Russian food. We had Solyanka (soup with pickles, sauage, bacon, olives, random things) and then Pelmeni (potstickers basically). It was so good and we ate both with lots of sour cream.

We also went by Sis. Dietz house and she had a friend over who when they were both in Hawaii had been scheduled to be baptized, but then her husband wouldn't let her. It was so cool to talk to her and she has been thinking lately about church again, so we are going to start to teach her and hopefully through a lot of prayers and fasting her husband will soften his heart. There are so many amazing things that are going to happen here next transfer and I'm excited for Sis. Vawdrey to get to experience it! And somehow hopefully I'll get to hear about it!

We taught David Payne the Word of Wisdom this week. He is a sweet tea drinker and at the end we asked him "Will you start now to live the Word of Wisdom?" He said hold on a minute and picked up his tea, took one more drink and said okay now I will. Haha. It was so cool. He has so much faith! He has been really sick, so he couldn't come to church unfortunately, but next week!

We taught this awesome lady named Sheilia this week. Her 7 year old daughter Alexis was there and so excited for us to come. Her mom tried to schedule when her kids would be at school so there wouldn't be a distraction, but there was early out and when Alexis walked in and saw us, she's like "yes they're here". Haha, it was so cute. She has a 5 year old son named Dylan. He's so tall. I've never seen a 5 year old that tall ever. The lesson went really well and she came to church! It is so hard to get people to come to church here after just one lesson, so we were so excited! And her kids of course loved it. It helped that it was the Primary Program too. We found Sheilia tracting to find the apartment number of a less active member. They are friends and upstairs/downstairs neighbors, so it's sweet. We left a note for the member on her door and she randomly showed up to church last week. It was so cool. That never happens. She actually had recently come back to church, just in the Mt. Pleasant Ward with her fiance who is also coming back to church. We are going to see the member tonight and talk to her about encouraging Sheilia and sharing her testimony with her. So cool!

Well the next time you will hear from me I will be in Richmond! Maybe I'll find that BBQ place. Hmmm...can you look it up and tell me where it's at?

I love you all and hope you are doing well!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Another Week

Aiden is soooo cute! He looks a lot like Tyler. Wasn't one of the other kids 7lb12oz? Ashlyn? How do Ashlyn, Hazen, and Rigg feel about the new baby? I'm glad Tyler approves. He looks like a good big brother! How cool Tyler got a certificate for being smart. He must take after his aunt :)

I was thinking the other day how I'll have to take Ashlyn and Tyler on a road trip to Eagar with me when I get back. Make sure I get the new address for Cody's family.

We've had a good week, but it's also been a really weird week. I'll spare the details of the really strange events.

Erica was just too much for us this week. One funny thing...we were looking at Erica's conference notes and one thing she had written down was "God reveals His gospel to His chosen serpents." Yes, serpents. Didn't you know. Apparantly she didn't find anything strange about that because she didn't say anything to us. Isn't that crazy? Another funny thing...ok I've told you about Erica, I don't know how much though. She has some mental illnesses and we're not quite sure her accountability level, but in school she gets a's and b's, so we're not sure about it all. Anyway, so somedays we teach her it goes really well, but others not so well, which is more often. It's a little frustrating. We've been debating as to whether we should stop teaching her. She comes to church but we think it's really because she wants to get out of the house and she can get free stuff (like raiding the lost and found) and she has Sis. Cobb to pick her up. So here's the funny story: Sis. Cobb was teaching about developing talents in Gospel Principles and had an object lesson. She had 3 people come up and gave them each a gift bag and inside was full of candy. The first looked inside said pretty much thanks but no thanks and threw the bag in the garbage (part of the object lesson). Erica was shocked and I heard her say, well you didn't have to throw it away, I'll take it. The next looked in the bag and quietly sat down, not saying anything. Then the last person looked in her bag and was so excited and wanted to share. But while Sis. Cobb started explaining it all, Erica went all the way across the room over to the garbage, got the candy out and took it back to her seat saying, well if he didnt want it, I do, I'm going to take it. It was hilarious. She was so focused on the candy being thrown in the garbage that she didn't even listen to the point Sis. Cobb was trying to make. We officially decided last night that we have to stop teaching her. When we feel like we have to bribe people to keep committments, it's not right. She wants to come to church, but she's not willing to consistently keep committments and she doesn't really care about reading or praying. She gets mad when we ask her about it too. She's a really great person, but we are just not going to continue teaching her. Maybe later on she'll be more ready.

We've seen David a couple of more times this week too. He is so cool. He knows the gospel is true, so whenever we teach him he just accepts the teachings as true. It's so cool. That is how Rodney was too. We hope his twin 15 year olds come along too.

Well sorry for the lame-o email. It really was a strange week, but we still had fun together!

Love you!

Sister Talbot

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Do We Have a New Baby Yet?

A 5pm c-section? That means it will be 8pm here. That's forever away! I am so excited to see pictures of Tyler Jr. So what are we naming this baby anyways? Liam sounds like a good name to me ; )

Just a side note from Katy's mom - Aiden Kean Judd was born Monday, October 4, 2010 at 5:32 p.m.  He was 7 lbs. 12 oz. and 20" long.  Mother and baby are doing well and he really is a Tyler look alike.

This last week has been so great! Time is passing by really quickly. Last transfer seemed long, but this one is flying by. Mom, you asked if I would get a chance to see any other part of VA? I have no idea. I assume I have one more area in my future, but who knows if it will be somewhere new. I had a dream once about 2 months ago I was going to Harrisonburg. That'd be cool. They don't have sisters there now though. Pres. Perry has really been sending sisters to the other side of Richmond though, so you never know.

We taught this man named David Payne this week. We actually taught him twice this week. He has been friends with a member in VA Beach for 30 years or so and over the last 4 or 5 months David has really had an opportunity to read from the Book of Mormon and talk to his friend about the Church. So a few months ago the Stake had a High Priest Group social and he went and met Bishop Cluff and talked to him for a really long time. Bishop gave the elders his info and then the elders passed it to us because he lives too close to the beach. So we finally got to teach him and he is awesome. He already has a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. He has committed to be baptized on November 20th! He has colon cancer and has been able to beat the odds over the last 2 years he's had it. He knows he's going to die and we know he will too. But that is why having the restored gospel is so wonderful and amazing. We know that because he will receive the ordinance of baptism he will be one of the valiant missionaries in the Spirit World. His testimony will convert many. He asks the question, why not be happy? He's dying of cancer and he asks, why not be happy? This man is incredible. He has two 15 year old twins who hopefully will be able to soon start the lessons and come to mutual activities. They need the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation to prepare for the inevitable event sure to come over the next year. Sister Dietz has come to both lessons with us and after the first lesson she said, I like him, we should keep him. Yes, we should and we are. David has to wear a bag to use the bathroom (tmi, I know) and mentioned that would be a concern in order to be fully immersed and before we could say anything about it, he said he'd check with his doctors and it will all work out. Seriously family, this guy is awesome. We will for sure visit him mom and dad when we come back next year.

We had some random man who may or may not have been under the influence of something shout to us as we were walking "ya'll are gorgeous ladies." So let it be known, the mission weight isn't too bad. As Sister Pinter and Sister Case say, we wear it well.

General Conference was so awesome! I forgot to bring my notes to the library with me :( So maybe next week I will give a conference review. They focused a lot on strengthening ourselves through faith and consistency. And they spoke a lot about agency as well. They quoted from 2 Nephi 2 more than anywhere else I think. If you haven't read this chapter in a while, it would be a good one to chase conference with. One quote I really liked was from Pres. Uchtdorf and it was proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstance. I like the idea of doing what is realistic for you. Sis. Wixom said that it took them 3.5 years to read the Book of Mormon as a family. They started by only reading a few verses a day, which was realistic for them at the time and then slowly increased as the kids got older. I am so glad she shared that story. Even if it is just one verse a day, it's something and it's showing the Lord we are willing. I also really liked the 14 points of why we need a living prophet and what comes with that. The prophet today is more valuable to us now than the standard works!!!!!! WOW!!! I talked to a member before conference and he said he told his 8 year old daughter that there was no church today. What!?!? I cannot believe people think General Conference is a weekend off. Just like Nephi says in 2 Nephi 33:15, "what I seal on earth (or what any prophet does), shall be brought against you at the judgement bar..." Makes me want to listen! I liked how Pres. Monson said at the end how our testimony should be a protection to us when the times get hard and someone also commented how the testimony should continue to be strengthened, so when hard times come we will have our strong faith to get us through. I read 3 Nephi 4: 10 this morning and I love the last half...the people were prepared and received strength of the Lord. Now is the time to prepare ourselves spiritually...but remembering to proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances. Conference rocks!

I hope you all enjoyed Conference. Sister Vawdrey and I were talking this morning about how surprised we were at how many people we've talked to didn't watch it because they are waiting for the Ensign or just don't care about it. The prophet speaks for God...Conference is God speaking to us.

I seriously love this ward so much. The members are too cool and if I was married with kids, this is definitely the ward (not necessarily the city!) I would want to be in.

I love you!!!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hey Everybody!

Last night we had a Missionary Fireside and it was so good. The elders and us put it together and it turned out so nice. If only more people would have come though. As active and less-active members we have to ensure that we continue to have spiritual experiences and last night was. Jamien Basso was baptized last week gave his testimony for the first time and also Liz and Bella Otis who just hit their year mark of their baptism. Liz is such a rock. I love her so much and she really strengthens me everytime we teach her or hear her testimony. She just turned 26 and her daughter just turned 10. She had a rough patch in her life, but it was necessary because she sees now how necessary a Savior is and how the gospel blesses us. As far as individuals that have changed me on my mission, she is right up there with the Hamilton family. Oh by the way, did I tell you Sis. Dunn got transferred back to NN1? Pres. Perry has no idea what our old areas are, so there is still hope I can go back there someday! She is there with Sis. Woodruff now. Sweet! Back to the fireside...Sis. Stewart in the ward is an amazing pianist and she composes music, so she played one of her pieces. Bishop Cluff spoke and he shared insights from a book about William Tyndale called Fire in the Bones by Michael Wilcox. I want to read that book when I get home. Tyndale was around during the reformation era and translated the Bible. He suffered a lot of persecution and was a martyr for the cause. You can also read about him and other reformers in PMG, Chapter 3, end of Lesson 1.

On Saturday we taught Kat again. She is so great and I want so badly for her to accept the gospel. She admits that she has a hard time praying specifically to know the BoM is the word of God and that Joseph Smith is the prophet of the Restoration because she is afraid of the answer and because she is not quite ready to submit to the Lord's will. She helps to remember that this is real life. She reminds me a lot of me actually. Some of the things she says make me think if I wasn't born in the Church I would probably be like her. She has a great faith and is looking for more, so these are the times when we as missionaries develop patience and trust in the Lord's timing. But the lesson we taught was about real intent and asking questions in prayer. There is a lot of value in asking specific questions especially in regards to wanting to know truth and needing specific guidance. There haven't been many times on my mission where my own personal experiences have been relevant (never done drugs, never been to jail! haha) in a lesson, but in regards to asking specific questions I shared about when I was trying to decide where to go to college. I wanted one thing and I went for it and then ended up finally realizing it wasn't the right decision and then I made the decision to do what the Lord had in store. Kat is just so great!

We had a lesson with Jessica. I taught her once back in May. She is the young cute Navy wife who's husband is deployed and grew up in small town Baptist North Carolina town. We taught her the Plan of Salvation and she loves the idea of eternal families. The way she was raised (Baptist/Adventist) they believe you remember you were married to your spouse after this life, but you are just brothers and sisters in the end. She at this point in unwilling to change her religion.  But we are hopeful that she likes eternal families so much, that she will pray about it.

We were able to teach Shekaylia finally. We tried to pass her over to the Singles Branch, but nobody did anything. So we are hoping to see her every week! She pretty much fell less active after her baptism. Thank heavens that we rely on the Spirit to change people because we would not get anywhere with her if it was just us.
So we've been seeing lots of bugs and creatures lately. We had 4 cockroaches in our house. They were big ones too. Sis. V and I don't do bugs, so we yell for Sis. Case to save the day. The Kreitzer's took us to see this crazy spider at their house and when we were dropping off our laundry today the Kane's had a tree frog on their door frame. Ewww!

Relief Society Broadcast - It was soooo good!  I really liked Sis. Thompson's talk a lot.  She is great!  I have really gained a testimony of VT on my mission because I see the fruit of when sisters do it and the potential fruit if others would do it.  Sis. Long one of my favorite sisters in the ward came back to church about a year ago and she gives a lot of credit to her faithful visiting teacher, Sis. Royl.

 Have a wonderful week!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hey, Hey!

What's new this week? We had a great week. We had dinner last night with the Drake family. They are so cool. They invited Sis. Cobb and Sis. Cacho over, so it was a party. The Drake's were telling us how in Philadelphia they would get together with other dental students a lot and it was so much fun. Our ward here is pretty good about getting together and having FHE or dinners too. I hope my future wards in my life will be so fun like that. Bro. Drake also told me that Craig sent him a picture of a really disgusting mouth. I laughed because I knew that was my cousin. Haha

We had such a great lesson with this man named Anthony Calahan. We call him Bro. Calahan. We met him while tracting around a referral we received. He is retired Navy and was on the Enterprise for about 5-6 years. He grew up in Louisiana and was Catholic. I'm tempted to say his family came from the Carribean originally, but I'm not sure. While he was in the Navy he found himself a cute Filipino wife and has been married 23 years and has 4 kids. I talked to him this morning and he doesn't think his wife is very interested, but he already has read the passages in the BoM that we left with him. Now if we can get him to church and to pray specifically...! He lives around the corner from the Shealey's who are incredible and so willing to help, so they will be very instrumental in fellowshipping. Before we came to the lesson he had already read the pamphlet and looked at mormon.org (which if you still haven't done that...do it!). He seemed like he was skeptical, but by the end of the lesson he said he wanted to know and he knew that man would not give him the answer. So cool!

We had at least 7 less active families at church this Sunday. We again had to open the curtains! This ward is so awesome! Bishop Cluff is such a great bishop and is always willing to give his time and energy to serving. We always joke how he never sleeps. I learned early on in my mission that the leaders in the ward determine the success of the people in the ward. It's true and I've seen it over and over on my mission. Where the Ward Council is strong, so are the members and the missionary work.

Jamien Basso was baptized on Saturday. The elders have been teaching him for a couple of months. It was such a great baptism and was perfect for Jamien. We are super excited to have him in the ward. He is a man of many talents too. His mom is learning and so is his neighbor upstairs. They are both set to be baptized in October. They live on the roughest street in our area, so it's so awesome that the Spirit is changing it! There of course will still be lots of gang stuff and drugs on that street, but slowly but surely we'll convert the whole street! Bro. Corry used to live on it, but it was too bad he moved shortly after his baptism last August. The Lord has definitely prepared hearts in the ghetto areas here. I have had such an interesting experience in VA. I had no idea how many people were addicted to drugs and that it's normal for kids to be surrounded with it and with stabbings, etc. It's so sad. But I know the Lord will allow each of His children to choose to accept the gospel whether in mortality or in the Spirit World. I am listening now to a mom yelling at her kid in the library.  I am truly grateful for the way I was brought up and that I have the gospel. The gospel truly blesses families!

I'm out of time, but I have a funny story to share first. We met this lady named Rhoda when we were going to contact another member referral (love those!). She asked us all sorts of sweet questions and then we set up a time to see her. She had to reschedule that lesson and so we finally saw her last week. When we got to her house she wasn't home. We were bummed, but we called her and she actually picked up. Usually they don't. Haha. She was at the store and originally in her mind I think she wasn't home on purpose. But the Spirit prompted her to return home for the lesson. She had lots of great questions for us and also some strange ones. She asked us randomly if we were virgins. If we would go to the Holiness church with her (we really hope we can work that out!). And if we wore perfume. This is where it got really funnny. She walked us out to our car and stopped at hers and said she wanted us to have this perfume. It's called Black Woman. She put a bunch on our arms and the smell was awful. She was like isn't this so good and nice and soft? Uh yeah sure. Haha. Well I tried to wash it off 3 times and it didn't budge. It was so stinky. We were telling a member about it and he said we should put in on the elders bikes. So after our meetings on Thursday we put some on their handle bars. It was so hilarious. They called us and said "you know what they say about paybacks right". Haha. They still haven't done anything to us. I don't think they will, they are too nice. Haha. The perfume is so strong it wouldn't surprise me if they'll be smelling black woman for a few months. Haha.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Good Food Week

So I have finally been to a Tepanyaki place. It's called Wasabi. It was soooo good. We went with the Mitchell's who are one of the coolest families in the ward. They are so fun! They grilled up some good food right at our table and we had some sushi and some Tempura cheesecake. It was cool when we shared our lesson, Sis. Mitchell said they have been studying PMG everyday since we came a week ago. So cool! Then at church I talked to another sister in the ward and she said that she has been studying PMG too. We are getting into every member home and teaching PMG. We share every member lesson practically out of PMG, so we always make them pull it out. Quite a few have started studying out of it on their own, which rocks. PMG-a guide to missionary service. It's purpose it to help every member learn how to be a missionary. It's so sweet! The day after we went to Wasabi we went to the Williamsons for dinner and a PMG lesson on Missionary Work. We gave them some pass along cards and they immediately set the goal to each give 2 away by the end of the month. So cool! I love this family. She does hair, so the first week of last transfer we all went to get our hair trimmed. He is from Scotland originally and they just moved here so he could do his PHD at Old Dominion University. And they made us curry!! This has been a good week for food I tell ya. I miss Indian, Thai, etc type of food.

So we have recently had some cockroaches in our apartment. Gross! Sis. Vawdrey and I have found 3 of the 4 and we just usually scream really loud and yell for Sis. Case to come and kill them. We're not sure where they are coming from suddenly because our apartment is clean. I'm afraid they are going to crawl on me in my sleep or something. We've gotten really freaked out. I hate praying next to my bed after the lights are out. I've been kneeling on my bed just to be safe. Haha

Vinolia is doing well. She was at church yesterday and really enjoyed herself. I didn't get to talk to her much because we had so many people at church. The last 2 Sundays we've had to open up the back! We see Vinolia for another lesson tomorrow. Her and her husband spoke about finding a church together, so she was hoping he would come with her to church, but she said that he wasn't ready. He wants her to wait to be baptized, but he's not doing anything about finding a church, so hopefully she can talk to him more about just letting her do what she wants to and he can come along when he is ready to do something about it. We need to start teaching more of the lessons when he is at home, so we can invite him to listen in.

We had a lesson at Mildred and Theresa's and Mildred's daughter Paulette who owns the house who just got out of jail was there. She was really interested to learn more, so we are going to start teaching her too. She is really cool and seems open to learning. She said she'd try to come to church, but she didn't make it unfortunately. There was a man who was fixing their toilets while we taught the lesson and then we ended up talking to him in the parking lot for 20 minutes. He was interested in learning more, but he's more of the skeptical type. The problem is that he would meet with us, but he lives in my last area in Newport News. He said he doesn't want to talk to other missionaries because he said he met us for a reason. So we're not sure what to do about him yet. We didn't set a lesson, so we'll have to call him.

Sunday we had 2 investigators at church (should have had more, but that's pretty normal) and a bunch of less active members. We had this one family show up. She has now come 4 times since I've been here in Norfolk and her husband came with her yesterday. He is on the Enterprise and this last run they had he got hooked up with the church members and I think he is ready to get the priesthood now. He grew up LA and never got the priesthood. They are a young couple and have an 18 month old, so it's the perfect timing for them to come back to church. He deploys in January and there are a bunch of members on the E, so it'll be a good situation for him.

Well time is up and I've got to go!  I wanted to share some scriptures that I found recently that I have been sharing with lots of people because they've really helped me to understand more about the purpose of scripture study. I wish I had more time to elaborate, but I will share the scriptures and leave it to you. So read the section called Study the Scriptures on page 73 of PMG and then it's the verses on the top of page 74 I really like. My favorite is 2 Timothy 3:16-17. They are all good, but the Bible ones are my favorite. When I read this section the other day, it was like I had never read it before. I know that by studying scripture we can truly know what we need to do and who we can become. We learn about Jesus Christ and by doing so, can know what we can do in our lives to become more like him. We committed a member last night to read scripture everyday and I cannot wait to see how she is influenced because of it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hurricane Earl

Another transfer in Norfolk for Sis. Vawdrey and I. Yay! I'm going to make it to at least 6 months here. One of the other sisters is transferring and another one coming in. With the elders in our ward, Elder Meacham who came last transfer is staying and Elder Cook who has been here for 2 transfers is transferring and they will both be District Leaders. So we will be getting Elder Crossley. I don't know him yet. A lot of changes are happening each transfer with Pres. Perry. Sis. Dunn is going back to NN1 and will be with Sis. Woodruff. That's crazy that she is going back there...she's only been away 2 transfers. They are also taking some sisters out of areas and putting in elders and also vice versa. There are 2 areas being opened to sisters this transfer on the other half of the mission which make a total of 4 sister areas on the other side. And I don't think he is done spreading the sisters out.

We have started teaching this new lady named Olivia. She is so cool. She has the 3 cutest kids ever. She used to meet with missionaries years ago, met with the elders once earlier in the year and now we are teaching her. The elders saw her in Wal-Mart last week on P-Day, so that's crazy she keeps running into missionaries. She lives in a bad area of town where she was raised and she wants so badly for her boys to grow up with a better life. She is a great mom and is trying really hard to help them be good. The gospel of Jesus Christ will definitely help her with that!

We are teaching this lady named Vinolia who is from Africa. She met her husband while he was in the Peace Corps assigned to Africa and have been married 5 years now. She has 3 kids still in Africa and she is trying to get her 12 year old here with her, but it's really expensive! The elders were teaching her, but have recently had us start teaching her. (It is so easy to pass the men to them and they pass the women to us.) We taught her in the Kreitzer's home yesterday and had dinner. It was fun. The Kreitzer's have 2 little girls and 1 little boy and Vinolia does so well with kids and they love her! She is one of those investigators who you know will keep her committments and tell you what she is thinking about what she is learning. Yay! We have talked to her about baptism and her husband who is not interested in learning but supportive said that she needs to wait a while. So we'll see what happens with him.

Yep, we survived Hurricane Earl. Haha. It was supposed to hit in the middle of the night Thursday night, but it took another path. All day Friday was windy and rainy though. But not really what I thought it would be. It wasn't like the Noreaster last year. The preparations for the hurricane were pretty funny. We had to carry our 72 hour kits with us everywhere. We also had to flip a huge trampoline upside down and fill a bunch of buckets of water. The Wal-Mart was really packed last week. We were looking forward to being Hurricane survivors, but we're glad it didn't stick around and cause us to have to be in.   I had some weird flu last week and the day of the wind and rain it was the worst. But it's gone now and so is the rain.

Obviously the email is one day later than normal. With Labor Day, the libraries were closed, so we are emailing today. We forgot to plan it in our schedules, so we don't get the full hour. What were we thinking!?

Our youth had a fun activity this last Thursday. It was a YM/YW vs. Bishopric volleyball game. It was so funny! We wanted to go play too, but me in skirts and volleyball is a bad combo.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mixed Reviews

All of these pics are from the Elders Quorum Fry Party that we had this last Saturday night. It was at the Banks house and it was so fun. I think the EQ definitely respects the sister missionaries! The big burger we ate (or attempted to eat) was called the Luther Burger. It is a double cheeseburger with bacon and an egg inside of a sliced in half krispy kreme donut. I gave Bro. Banks so much crap about this burger for months...until I tried it and it was actually good! We put the elders to shame who gave a weak effort. Haha

When Sis. Clous (recent convert) painted our fingernails for us.

-District P-Day (b-ball, v-ball, ultimate frisbee!) and our coordinating outfits.

-Our current district

With the Book girls

We taught a class at the Primary MTC class. So fun!

So this last week had some serious downers, but also some pretty awesome stories.

I never know if it's better to start with sad news or end with it. So I'll just go for it. Tomorrow we will be going to a funeral for 2 year old Dane Royl who was run over and died on his birthday this last Friday. It's so sad because Sis. Royl is one of the sisters I feel the closest to here in Norfolk and he was always the life of the party. She called us that night and asked us to come over. We quickly said of course and then I realized how underqualified I was to be the Lord's instrument at that time. But it's times like these that we truly learn to lean on the Lord and have confidence in Him and not ourselves. We didn't get home until 10:30pm and I slept horrible because all the events just kept replaying in my mind. I can't imagine what they are going through. She received a blessing and it said that the Lord has prepared her for this event. How interesting. It's strange that it sounds like almost all of us have funerals on Tuesday. Can someone please try and find his obituary and print it for me? We have no way to do that, but I would like to have it.

So you should have gotten the pictures for the EQ Fry Party. It was so funny. They started with the grill and did the Luther Burgers and then moved onto the deep fryer. They deep fried just about anything. They tried key lime pie, but it didn't work. They did pickles (so good!), oatmeal creme pies (not so good), nutty bars, rolos, twix and I think that might be it. It was such a hilarious party. It's not the first. Apparently it's at least an annual thing and I've heard rumor they do it more often...haha

The Primary had an activity called the Primary MTC. We were in charge of teaching the class on how to prepare to serve a mission and how to be a member missionary and then they wrote/drew letters for the missionaries serving elsewhere from the VA Beach Stake. I hope the kids got something from it. Those 3 year olds are a tough crowd. We enjoyed it a lot.

There is a section in Ch.9 of PMG that talks about going about doing good and so we are always looking for random service opps. They don't come around very often, but we went to tract this sketch area and we found one and then it turned super weird. This lady who was in a scooter was just looking around so we went to ask if there was anything we could help her with. She said she needed her wet laundry taken to the laundry room to be dried. Well we volunteered and she just kept saying it was too heavy for us. Well she underestimated us because we could do it no problem. We started walking to the laundry room and she came along on her scooter and was talking about how she forgot her helmet. We were talking to her about the Book of Mormon and she was saying really strange things, so we figured she wasn't really all there. When we got there we went back to her apt for the other bag and she sent us with her keys. So we go get it and then helped her put it in the dryer. The phone rang, so I was on the phone and then Sis. Vawdrey was setting up a lesson with a lady who walked up. Then this other lady started saying things like "are you saying I'm mental?' and all sorts of weird things while Sis. Vawdrey was setting up this lesson. Awkward! We ended up passing her a couple of more time and when we were back around her apt she was yelling about how "they stole my money. this is a drug place and they stole my money." We weren't sure who she was accusing but she gave us her keys at one point, so we decided it would be best to just leave at this point. It was the funny half hour ever.

We had some great lessons this week. We watched the Testaments with Mildred and Theresa Davis and they loved it. Their house keeps getting broken into while they are at church, so Mildred said she wasn't coming to church so she could catch the people. We both had a really bad feeling about that, but she had her mind made up. Until she watched the movie and then she's like "nothing is going to stop me from coming to church." Yay! So she came to church and it was so good. We also had a few other "returning members" show up at church. There is this one man named Bro. Crisler. He is so cool. He is a biker dude with the long ponytail. We haven't really taught him much, but we've stopped by a handful of times. He said that when he was going to come to church that he would surprise me. And he did yesterday! It was so cool to see him there. He came because his 8 year old daughter wanted to! Yay!

Well I hope this letter finds you all doing well. Norfolk is crazy as always, but that's why I love it so much!

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Fun Week

This week was a lot of fun. We had a lesson with Terra and Zach Drake who are new in the ward. We were getting to know them and we asked about the Navy and all that good stuff. He's been in the Navy technically for like 5 years or something, but went to dental school right after he signed up. Guess where he went and when he graduated? He went to Temple and graduated in 2009...just like Craig. And yes, they know them! How cool! I haven't really had that many connections on the mission yet, but this is the best! Oh and guess who I saw on Sunday going to the Bayside Ward? Justine Wiltbank! I only saw her long enough to grab and hug and for her to call me Neely. Haha.

Tuesday night we taught Kat again. She read from the Book of Mormon, but I don't think she actually prayed to know the truth of it and also about Joseph Smith yet. She had a concern about Joseph Smith and about us following him. This is a valid concern with her background. She is Lutheran and Martin Luther was one of the great reformers who called the Catholic church out on lots of things (payment for forgiveness of their sins being one of them!). He was a good man, but he didn't want any followers, but those that believed his teachings created the Lutheran church. So she respects him a lot for doing what he did and not expecting people to follow and worship him. So we taught her a little more about why we talk about Joseph Smith, but that he was an instrument in God's hands and not to be the person we follow. She didn't come to church again, but she strikes me as a person who once she does, she will come every week. We are going to teach her next about prayer and humility. I think she is fearful of praying because she knows she can and will get an answer and it might just mean that she has to change. Submission to the will of God is challenging thing, but is necessary! We love her so much!

Bishop Cluff is getting really excited about missionary work. Our new ward mission leader is amazing and Bishop just called two more couples to be ward missionaries. We have so many now! I love my life! I really hope the Lord sees fit for me to stay in Norfolk for a little while longer. The elders in the ward are really good too and understand the concept of multiple missionaries in a ward.

After Bible Study on Tuesday we get a call from the sisters we live with saying they just got in an accident and they need a ride. Uh...?! The roads in Norfolk are weird and have medians that really make it hard to see oncoming traffic and it was dusk and they didn't see a tan colored car coming. It crushed the front end of the car, but the car they hit didn't really have damage to match that of the poor Corolla. They are okay, they just don't have a car. The elders in their ward have a car and bikes, so they have been able to use their car temporarily. It's not sounding like they'll get a car before the transfer either.

Oh guess what I forgot to tell you?!?!? Nylons are now optional in the VRM! And we can now use iPods! Pres. Perry has taken away all the restrictions pretty much. Before elders couldn't get within 2 blocks of beach, but that rule is gone now. This change is now going to allow more sisters to serve on the other half of the mission. I kind of want to experience the other side, but I also want to stay right where I am at!

We taught Mildred and Theresa about the Word of Wisdom this week. Mildred has been drinking green tea and we wanted to teach it to her so she knew it was against a commandment. She is hard core and when we were teaching it she's telling us how she drinks it everyday and said that she would no more. She just wants to live the best life she can for God. She's had a CRAZY past and she is just so motivated to do the right thing! She is awesome!

Well it's that time again. I love you! Thanks for the letters you send me!