Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The end of 18 months, The beginning of the journey

Well it's the end of the journey here, I've been out 18 months, and I'm coming home soon. I can't believe it. How time flies. There are so many things I wish I would have done, so many things I wish I wouldn't have done, so many things I wish I would have become. But regardless, I'm glad I'm not who I used to be. Serving a mission is one of the most refining times of anyone's lives. I am so grateful, and will be forever, for this experience of a mission. You can read back on my other posts and see, yeah it's been so hard and so trying for me, but the hardest workouts, give you the strongest muscles. I can't believe my journey of being a missionary for the Lord full time for 18 months is now coming to a close. Though time has flown, it has gone slow, but there has been so many things happening this past year and a half that I would have never imagined to happen in my life. I have grown so much, I have changed, but I am still myself. That's probably going to be the weirdest thing going home, I'm a new better me, but I'm still me, my family and friends are new and changed, but they are still themselves. 
Coming home is going to be hard, because you've lived such a strict and exact lifestyle for so long. I know I will struggle, but I will be grateful to be normal again. A cool experience I want to share. So about 2 weeks ago, I was praying one night "Heavenly Father, it would be really nice if I had sister missionaries to come back home to." But I knew that probably wouldn't happen, we've had elders in our branch for a long time. So 2 days later we had a member in my ward send a picture to my parents. My mom replied to him and told him "Will you let Courtney know we just got sisters put back in our branch?" I started crying, I was so happy! We haven't had sister missionaries for at least like 6 years, maybe more. And the sisters were taken out of our branch just before I started to grow up and want to go on a mission, so I never was really able to go out with the missionaries, since they were elders. God knew exactly what I needed and wanted to show me his love for him, by giving my branch Sister Missionaries!! I gave the greatest prayer of thanks that night possibly more than I ever have to my Heavenly Father, I just prayed for that! And God came through, he blessed me with my needs. And I know so many other people at home need these sisters too. I am so grateful to know God is always aware of us, and really does love us!! 
 Serving a mission tests your love, faith, hope, and endurance. And through testing these things, if you let it, helps those things become stronger. I have learned to have so much hope and faith, faith that my Savior is here for his missionaries, hope that we can follow what he is telling us, hope that those that we teach and talk to every day might one day listen to what we have to say. I've grown lots of endurance. I've been really tested to see if I will endure the trials of my life. Though I don't always respond maybe as I should, I know as I have grown with my faith to know that these are the things my Heavenly Father wants me to be doing, so having the faith that I can endure these things, even when they hurt. You don't stop in the middle of a mile long race because you're burnt out, you can't stop, you have to at least get to wear you can cross that finish line, and at the end, you're stronger because you kept going, stronger than those who stopped along the way because it was too hard. I'm so grateful I never fully gave up. I'm grateful I never gave into the adversary telling me it's too hard, and I can't do it. I'm grateful I learned to thank God for my challenges. Because there's no comfort in the growth zone, and no growth in the comfort zone. I've grown so much love. I never knew I could love so many strangers. So many people who were recently strangers to me, or who still may be, I have been blessed to be able to see them through the Saviors eyes. When you see people how our Savior sees them, it is the coolest experience ever. You see them as a child of God, who has as great of a relationship to our Father as you do, though they may not be strengthened in theirs right now. They have a life, a family, a God, a purpose. When you love others, you forget about the bad around you.
 I have made so many new friends, missionaries, members in the wards I've served, investigators, or just people in my areas in general, sometimes complete strangers, and my companions. I've made so many lifelong memories and had so many life changing experiences. I've grown to love California and come to know as it in some part as home. As I end my mission, it's going to be like leaving home to go home. I am so excited to go home and be with my family again. I am grateful for my family and all the love and support they have given me throughout my mission. I couldn't have done it without them. I'm excited to share my experiences with friends and family. Leaving is a strange experience, but at least this time, I get actually keep in touch with people a little better. 
 I know God sent me on a mission to be the instrument in his hands to help people to find the gospel and to bless and change their lives forever. But I know God sent me on a mission to help me fully find the gospel, and to bless and change my life forever.  The biggest thing I have learned on my mission is that our Savior lives, and he loves us, and he did suffer for our sins. We can be forgiven, we just have to let him heal us. I have learned how to let him heal, and how to let him accomplish his will in our lives. I am so grateful for my Savior and all the love he has shown me. I am so grateful for his mercy, because I have not always been the greatest or most diligent or most caring loving missionary, sister, daughter, or friend.

Let the gospel change you. I promise you will never regret it. I'm so glad I let it at least a little bit help change me. Never forget who we are, sons and daughters of God.
Coming home is going to be the happiest experience of my life, yet such a sad experience, leaving behind those I have come to love. But this is how it shall be, and I am grateful. Always remember, God is good.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Why a mission?

Well it's been about 10 months now on a mission... it's been a while since I've had anything posted on my blog, or have even told much about my mission life at all. But I've been feeling lately like I need to share some things and open up about my hardships and some things that I have learned. So I'm sorry if this all is not what you'd like to hear or if you think I'm being negative and a wimp but I want to be real with you about my mission experience thus far, and maybe I can help some people out who are struggling as well. I'll try to have a positive vibe.

So... the mission... One of the biggest questions I've gotten on the mission, especially in my first 6 months was: "Is the mission like what you expected?" And let me tell you, I didn't really have any expectations, I wasn't really sure what it would be like, I mean I spent lots of time with missionaries before, I thought I was ready, but didn't know what to expect... But it definitely isn't anything like I could have thought it would be if I were to have expectations, it didn't meet any of them. And you may ask me why, what is different, what is it like then? Or "well what the heck did you think it would be like then?" But I don't really have too much of a solid answer for you on that one. All I know is that none of you returned missionaries fully explained how hard missions are! Which I see now is probably a good thing so sorry if I ruined it for anyone by telling you these things... But all I can say is I will never ever regret coming on a mission. So, I would never do this again although if anyone would have explained how hard it is I may not ever come but I will always be glad I went on a mission.
So now you may be asking "well, why is a mission so hard for you Sister Day?" Because we all know current or returned missionaries who just love or loved their missions so much who had the best 18-24 months of their lives and don't care as much about all their hardships because "they were all worth it." Well let me clarify, I don't hate the mission, nor do I hate being a missionary. But if you were to ask me if I loved being on a mission, I could not truthfully say yes, or even say I love being a missionary. I'm sorry for the negativity, but I just have to be honest, I will try to explain this all the best I can...

I've had a hard Mission so far not really because of hard circumstances, or hard companions or anything bad happening to me per se, but mainly because of my attitude and my stubborn unwillingness to submit my will to the Lord. I mean yes I know, missions are definitely hard, for everyone. But there are those who make it harder and more miserable than it could be... But yes everyone has hard times on their mission and anyone who tells you they didn't is lying. You have to wake up every day, follow a strict schedule, follow a strict set of rules, and not get much free time or time to rest. That in itself is hard, some days you just don't want to, but you have to. And then you have to spend your entire day, from roughly 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. with breaks for meals, finding something to do the fulfills this purpose:  "to invite others to come to Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." So all day, every day, we are trying to find people to talk to, to teach and help feel the spirit. Of course yes, I do agree, what a cool calling this is! To be on the Lord's errand 24 - 7 for a year-and-a-half is super cool but after awhile, it kind of wears on you, because being a servant of the Lord doesn't come without the persecution in the reviling and the works of Satan trying to stop us. And yes we get persecuted, we had that terrible "Mormon missionary" stigma to us, no matter what kind of missionary you are. And then the people who truly know you, members, family, all expect and hope you to be perfect and obedient and strong, and positive. Especially our local leaders where we are serving. The pressure is always on. As the Lord's servant we are held to a higher standard. Through all this, just trying to help people, touch someone's heart, while trying to stay sane.

Through all my heartache on my mission, I think the biggest thing God has taught me through all of this is just: that life is full of trials, we are ALWAYS going to have trials. Most importantly he wants us to use him to get through them. And all he really wants, at least I think, is that he just wants you to be stronger and have unshaken faith. Which I don't think you can have unless your faith is truly tried. We can't appreciate the good without traveling through the hardest of times. Truly, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. And that's what I'm finally starting to realize.   There is a poem common among missionaries that writes out my thoughts perfectly it's called quote highs and lows:

A mission is a strange experience
It is a trial and a test.
A mission throws at you the worst
Yet, teaches you the best.
I've never been so happy,
I've never been so depressed.
I've never felt so forsaken,
I've never felt so blessed.
I've never been so confused,
Things have never been so clear.
I've never felt my Heavenly Father so distant,
He's never been so near.
I've never been so discouraged,
I've never been so full of hope.
I feel I could go on for forever,
I think I've come to the end of my rope.
I've never had it quite so easy,
I've never had it quite so tough.
Things have never been so smooth,
Things have never been so rough.
I've never traveled through more valleys,
I've never ascended more peaks.
I've never met so many nice people.
I've never met so many freaks!
I've never had so many ups,
I've never had so many downs.
I've never worn so many smiles,
I've never had so many frowns.
I've never been so lonely,
I've never had so many friends.
BOY, I hope this is over soon,
GOSH, I hope this never ends.

 The first time I heard this poem I cried because it is so true and accurate I mostly just agreed with the "lows." But then I have realized yes there are so many of those lows on a mission, but it's true there are those "highs" and I have to keep that in mind. And this is why I will never regret coming on a mission because I have learned and rejoiced so much more than anything else I could have done in this life. For example,  I've had the privilege of being a part of three people's conversions and to go all the way up to their baptism by the priesthood authority of God in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These people who were once strangers to me became some of my most loved friends. I've been able to see so many other lives change as well through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As missionaries we get a front-row seat into seeing people's lives change, we see lots of the hard and then the joy. How sweet is our calling!

Through all of the great and through all the hard, I have learned what I feel is the true purpose of the mission. I mission is the time to be the most selfless you can be. But it's also time God is really focusing on and improving you.   I think one of the biggest reasons God wants young 18 to 20 year olds to go on missions is to improve and strengthen them through focusing on anyone but themselves. God sends us out here to try to help others come closer to him and decide other people's lives while he sneakily  just as equally is improving and helping the missionary.   God really COULD do this work all on his own. He honestly could, he technically doesn't need us. He can touch the heart at any time with the people he had chosen to be a part of the Kingdom. He can touch people by a visit to the temple, TV spot, a book from a friend, any of the ways people can be touched by God doesn't require missionaries. But he uses us. He requests us. He wants us. Because not only does he want us to go out and save his sons and daughters, but he wants us to be strong, faithful, and undaunted, he wants us to push harder than we ever have, so that we can grow more than we ever have.  We study the scriptures, words of the prophets and things of God-every day.  We teach by, think by, and feel by God's spirit.  Every day. How could we not grow closer to our Heavenly Father by doing this?
And if we follow God and become more Christlike, won't that just entirely improve us as people? Obviously we don't become PERFECT through a mission. But I guarantee you every missionary who comes home will be at least a little closer to God and little better as a person. We learn that Christ is real, and that he suffered for us. We have first hand experiences every day. This is one of the greatest things in life any person can ever come to know. This life - A said in the book of Mormon in Alma 34 vs 32: "this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men do perform their labors."  God needs brave sons and daughters. He holds our feet to the fire because that's how you make steel. We are being properly trained and taught in the gospel to prepare the world for the second coming of the Savior, and to prepare OURSELVES for the Savior.

So yes, some of my hardest and most depressing darkest moments of my life have been on my mission.  I've had a hard mission and through most of it haven't wanted to be here. And I missed my family more than you could imagine. Being away from your family, who are your best friends, missing a year and a half of your lives... But I know God is testing me to see if I will be faithful to him in tribulation (read Doctrine and Covenants 122:7-9). I know God is forming me into the person he needs me to be, and that comes with "growing pains".

So I am so honored to be a full time serving to the Lord, I'm grateful to spend this time focused on him and my fellow brothers and sisters. I know that our Savior suffered for us, the heartache, sins, sadness, pain - everything for us. Look to him. His gospel Works. Use it, you will never regret it. I know missions work. I first came on and a mission because I wanted to help people, I wanted to share the gospel and help people. Because I know how much it has changed, helped and blessed me, and my family. I had seen so many people's lives change because of the Gospel. I wanted to do it full time, for so many more people. And some days, when you knock on 5 million doors and nobody answers, or you get yelled at through a door, or yelled at out of a car driving by or when people are just mean to you, and you feel like you haven't helped a single person that day... Those days I only stay for God. I am still here because I love and want to serve God. At least I'm trying. So you people who are not members of our church, have mercy on the "Mormon missionaries". Imagine if you thought you had the greatest cookie in the world, no cookie can compare. Wouldn't you want to go and share that? Give that recipe to everyone you know so that they can enjoy those amazing cookies? That's what missionaries are trying to do. We are trying to show unique message that can change and bless your life. We're not just "trying to get ya". Hear what they have to say, invite them in your home. Be their friends, even if your "good in your religion" at least hear what they have to share and help them. Members of the church, help and love the missionaries. We need you. Introduce them to your friends, family, feed them, help them, listen to them. We aren't perfect. God's work isn't for the missionaries. Be a member missionary. You make a difference. Serve your God. You won't regret it. God is good. Matthew 28:19 -20. Matthew 16:24.

--Sister Day :-)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A testimony

I have seen SO many changes in myself. I am so glad I came on a mission, no matter how much I want to go home. I realized I didn't just come out here to only help people. I now realized why everyone says boys need to go on a mission to grow up. Because I have learned so much mentally and spiritually, I couldn't even afford NOT going on a mission. My mind has been changed and I realize so many more things now. I appreciate the importance of the gospel, and I am growing so much myself. I am learning how to need to work hard, because I was such a princess at home. Still am... haha, but I'm realizing why God put us on this earth. I can't believe I almost didn't come on a mission. I highly suggest a mission for every young adult... including girls! Especially with this age change, I promise no girl would regret going on a mission. You learn so much and grow so much closer to heavenly father. You learn the important things in life. I can't believe how much I relied on social media, and now I don't have it, I don't really miss it as much as I thought how important it was... Conversion is not an event it is a process.

Monday, May 16, 2016

April 28/ May 5, 2016

Dear Family,

Wow what a week it has been.  You wouldn’t believe all that has happened this week.  That’s why you haven’t gotten a letter in a while, I’m very sorry about that!  Well I don’t even know where to start.  I guess I’ll start with the biggest news...I am now a trio!  We got a new companion! (Yes, you are thinking correctly, we are halfway through transfers)  So it is now Sister Thomason, me, and now Sister Dinkle from the Silverlakes ward in our zone.  Some crazy stuff happened.  But to say first, I’m kinda excited to have Sister Dinkle, even for just 3 weeks, because she goes home this transfer—which is in 3 weeks.  Oh and other news going along with this, I am doing much better, I had an amazing week.  So where do I begin to tell you what all has happened…Also, as I tell you all that has happened, I know that a lot of things are confidential and I won’t be able to tell you some things, but I will tell you as much as I can.

So let’s start with my week.  I already told you a bit about Monday.  After we came out of the library we got stopped by a guy wanting to bash with us.  And then we went to the zoo!  There’s a zoo in Phelan called “Forever wiled-exotic animal sanctuary” and it was really good!  Lions, tigers, monkeys, sloths, parrots, etc.  And we heard they had been on Extreme Home Makeover years back.  It’s a nice place!  It was really fun; we went with the Wrightwood Sisters!  But the bad thing was a storm was rolling in (for once) and it was so windy and cold!  I took some pictures.  So that was a good day. 
Then Tuesday I had a really good day too.  We had a district meeting in the morning as always, which was really good.  I learned a lot about relying and listening to the spirit.  And I knew I should have a package from you guys, and Aunt Melissa said she sent one, and I had still yet to get the package they said they made us at the Women’s conference.  So I was expecting to have 3 packages.  And when the zone leaders got there they only had missionary supplies.  So at the end I asked one of them “hey I should have like 3 packages by now and there are no boxes?”  And he was like “Haha ohhh yeah, that’s our bad, we forgot the boxes at our house, you had some packages, we will bring them by your apartment tonight.”  So it’s a good thing I asked.    Oh yeah, also after district meeting an Elder from eh other district showed us the new missionary parody of “Hello.”  A member put it on a flash drive for him and he showed us all it.  I have to say it was so cheesy and weird, but it was also THE funniest thing ever, and so spot on and true!  The part at the end where a lady finally lets them in ad you see them just fill with joy, I felt the spirit watching that so strongly, because the pure astonished excitement and unbelief they expressed at that part of the video is so true!  It is really what missionaries go through!  And the words to their song, so great!  Haha, I love it!  If you haven’t seen it go watch it, I heard it’s gone viral.  The difference though from that video is, we don’t sit and sing on peoples porches J Haha.  But also funny thing about that video is none of the other missionaries know the real song Hello besides Sister Johnson and I because we just got out and everyone else is too old!  Haha. 

Anyways, then we tried lots of people, Linda a lady we’d tried before, and finally had talked to out on her lawn last week and said we could come back said when we got there, in tears that her brother in law died a few days ago.  Very sad.  We tried to comfort her, we said we’d come back, and she even came out and gave us such heartfelt hugs, and said thank you.  Then we tried a lady who said it was her daughter that had been taught, so we talked to her, probably 18, she said she’s trying to look at all the religions to see which is right before she picks one.  Super cute.  Gave her a pamphlet.  Then tried lots of people who weren’t home or weren’t interested.  Then we had dinner with the Keserich’s, a returning less active family.  She’s a health freak, so we just had big ole salad with lots of healthy toppings, and dressings, it was actually Reeeally good.  They shared their plan with us about their non-member friend who’d been to church; they’re trying to get a plan for him to meet with us.  So cool!  Then we went home.

Now Wednesday, it was probably my best day of my mission so far.  It was such a great day.  So Tuesday night and Wednesday morning I decided to change.  I figured out I was not being selfless and truly loving God.  So many prayers were answered.  So as you know I’d been having a pretty terrible week, sad, missing you guys, wanting people to teach, wanting to be more bold, wanting to be able to recognize the spirit, and not having a good attitude.  The biggest reason is because I haven’t been truly loving God.  I learned that by listening to the talk “The first Great Commandment” by Jeffrey R. Holland.  I’ve heard this talk a million times before, and it finally hit me Tuesday or Wednesday whenever we had it playing in the car.  When Jesus asks Peter 3 times if he loves him.  And then as the story goes Jesus asks him basically why he isn’t fully giving himself to the Lord and just feeding his sheep.  And then a scripture, no, two scriptures popped into my mind: Matthew 10:37-39: “he that loveth Father or Mother more than me, is not worthy of me.”  And Luke 9:61-62 “And another also said, Lord, I will follow the, but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.  And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  It made me cry of course.  I realized I was not truly loving God.  I’ve been worried more about my family and how easy life was back home; I haven’t been truly putting in my whole soul and hastening this work.  So wow.  Then Tuesday night after I realized this, I decided I was going to just have a good attitude.  My family is fine, my attitude doesn’t technically physically change anything at home, so why not put my whole heart in it, and I decided that.  And that night and the next morning I was just naturally more positive and ready to work.  Then God was so great.  I’ll tell you about Wednesday.  So we were able to text and call so many people and make so many appointments.  Oh and by the way I had also been praying so hard to find those being prepared for us, because I wasn’t really seeing any, and I’d lost hope that there was any.  Anyways, Wednesday started with studies of course, which went really well, I learned a lot.  And in comp study I was more positive and contributive.  Then we went and saw a less active Sister Hearn.  He is making so much progress, it is just so great.  Read the Book of Mormon with her and answered questions and explained things.  She’ trying so hard, doing everything she can to improve.  So that went really well.  Then we went over to Jennifer and Abel’s who we had briefly talked to last week.  We went in, talked with them, our first lesson with them and we taught the whole restoration and they took it SO WELL!  When we asked if they knew who Joseph Smith was he said he didn’t know a ton, but he must have been a good man.  Then said he’d, they’d, like to read the Book of Mormon and build on their faith.  We gave them one, they said they’d read it together and AH it just went so well!  Two new investigators there!  They received the lesson amazingly and seem so promising!  It made me so happy.  Then we went to go see less active Sister Coleman.  We have tried her so many times; I’d never met her yet.  She let us in; we talked, she was happy to have us, and then shared so much heartache and trials she’s been going through.  Her father died, her rent went up, she can’t get a job, and they turned her water off.  Sheesh!  What next! I cried.  IT was terribly sad.  She told us she was ready this morning to stop meeting with the Sister Missionaries, but God had been preparing her.  Last night she did all her laundry and dishes, and then this morning her water was turned off.  We were going to share Alma 7:11-13 with her.  But when we got talking I felt prompted to share D&C 122:7-9 with her that talks about when Joseph Smith was in jail, to be patient in his afflictions, it will give thee experience, to remember God is there and to trust him.  Bad thing though I didn’t pull that scripture out right away.  I was hoping Sister Thomason would read the Alma 7 first, and then I’d get out D&C 122.  But then Obviously Sister T had a prompting as well, and she read D&C 121:7-8 same story that I liked and wanted to read, same story where God tells Joseph to be patient in his affliction and endure it well and God will triumph you.  So then after she shared that I shared mine.  And Sister Coleman really loved it.  She knew she had God, and she felt loved, and she felt a little more comfort.  It was so good.  It made me cry and made me soo so happy.  Before we left she told us how amazing we were for being on a mission, and if it weren’t for missionaries she wouldn’t be here today, so to keep working.  That always helps me so so much.  I know God speaks to me through those sweet people.  I felt the spirit.  Then we went home for lunch and some more companion study.  Which was really good and effective, I was mentally being more cooperative.  Then we went to go bring dinner to Keith and Sheryl.  They are the cutest things!  We brought them dinner from a member and they invited us to come in and sit down and we talked with them and we talked about Keith and his diseases and everything and then they said how him getting sick has really opened their eyes and brought them to God and faith.  It was so good, but we had to get to dinner so we just shared Alma 7:11-13 with them and they loved it so much.  They said they would look at their calendar and have us come by for a real lesson and that they had some questions and they said they were almost done with the Book of Mormon!!!!  Then we had to go to dinner, but how great is that, right?!  Dinner was with a less active—returning less active convert.  It was really good and we helped her print out some names for temple work!  So good.  Then we went over and had a lesson with Sandra, we had made that appointment that morning, and had gotten Sister Ratliff to come for a member present!  We taught her the last needed lesson with service and missionary work in the church, it went really well!  She’s golden.  And she even shared an experience with us about how her husband went “back into his shell” and is having problems again and things weren’t going great.  And I can’t remember exactly what she said she was praying for, but she said as she was praying she realized God gave her unconditional love and she felt him saying “you want unconditional love from me when you won’t even give it?”  So she told her husband and said she loved him.  So it was a great night.  We came home and did all we needed then went to bed, like normal.

Wednesday night we went to bed like we were supposed to.  We were fast asleep, and at about 11:18 pm the phone rings, waking us up, I look over and pick up the phone and the Silverlakes Sisters are calling, Sister Stallings and Sister Dinkel.  And it was actually Sister Bergstrom and Sister Dinkel and they were on exchanges.  But we were confused because they had been on exchanges the day before, and they only last one day.  We answered the phone and it was Sister Bergstrom.  She said, “Can we come over to your apartment?”  We said sure and she said “we’ll explain when we get there.”  So we were so very confused, had no idea what was going on, hoping they were okay and hoping they weren’t bringing any bad news.  So we got out some extra sleeping pads and blankets from our closet and waited like 10 minutes, really hoping everything was okay.  They arrived and told us the story, but all I can say is that there was an emergency transfer of one Sister, and the others had a prompting to leave their apartment, they didn’t feel safe.  So yeah now Sister Dinkel is moved in with us and for now we are covering two wards.  I like it so much.  Sister Dinkel is so awesome and fun!  It’s so much more fun.  I love being in a trio.  It will be sad to see Sister Dinkel go home in 2 weeks!  I’m doing pretty good, still just trying to figure out how to teach better.  I miss you guys so much!  I love you so much!  I can’t wait to talk to you! J



Saturday, April 16, 2016

April 16, 2016

Dear Family,

Hello my beautiful family, I miss you all so much.  I think about every single one of you daily.  It’s sad for the missionaries who don’t have any homesickness, because they don’t have good families back home, but they’re kinda lucky too, because they have no homesickness!  L  I miss you guys tons and tons!  Thank you for all the letters, emails and packages you send!  You don’t even know how much they mean to me!  I’m sorry first of all to say this letter is going to be freaking long!  But this week was an eventful week, so don’t give up!  It’s worth the read!

So, starting with Monday.  We had our regular studies (personal study @ 8:00 and comp study @ 9:00) we did laundry, it’s nice because we combine our loads since we both don’t have a whole ton of laundry.  By the way did I ever tell you guys our apartment has 2 bathrooms, so we each have our own bathroom!  Which like never happens, most companionships share a bathroom.  So that’s really nice.  Anyways, back to explaining…so then we went shopping, I got all the supplies I needed, and food.  Then we had lunch, and the sisters from the silverlakes ward who are in our zone came over and had lunch with us, that was good, they’re our good friends. J  Then we emailed, I’m sorry I still really such at emailing L and I wish we had more time.  Then I went to the post office and sent a package home, then we had to go to Walmart, then came home and chilled until dinner.  Which by the way it rained SO MUCH!  I totally used my rain jacket, and they were so right when they say it floods up here.  The roads and everything flood so bad even if it only rains for a half hour.  It was ridiculous!  But it dries really fast.  Then we had dinner at the Maiavas, super cute family.  You guys would be so proud of me.  I will eat ALMOST anything now, I don’t always love it, but I eat it!  Then after dinner we went over to try Marlene W.  Our ward mission leader asked us about her the other day; we’d never med or heard of her, she was a former investigator, so we went to go try her.  We looked at all her past notes from other missionaries.  We went there and she was happy to see us, said she missed missionaries coming over and they haven’t had them in a long time.  She has 6 adopted children like ages 6-10.  We got to know her a little bit and scheduled to come back on Thursday and asked her to read the Book of Mormon.  It was interesting.  Then we tried a few people who didn’t answer.  Then we went and met with Brother Blood, he’s not a member, he and his wife aren’t members, but their daughter and son in law are converts who just moved out of our ward, so we would visit with them when visiting their daughter.  They love us so much and always tell us to stop by if we need anything or want to share a scripture.  They’re Pentecostal, but they love our church and really respect it.  We went, Sister Blood was asleep, but Brother Blood let us in, we visited with him, he showed us his garden, and we shared a scripture.  Then the last visit of the night was to a less active family, the Alfaro’s.  They have like 5 kids, two boys older and moved out I think, and a 12, 8, and 4 year old at home.  We visited and the day before they had just gotten back from a trip up to Utah to visit people, and while they were there visited Temple Square and did all the tours and stuff.  That was good to hear.  This day just throughout the day I just learned over and over D&C 121:7-8, mine adversity, this hardship for me, is but a small moment, I just have to endure it well.

So Tuesday we had studies, and then District Meeting like always.  It was a good meeting like always.  With transfers the day before, we got 3 new Elders in our District.  Then we had lunch.  Then we went out to go see lots of people.  We tried lots of former investigators and some potentials.  A lot of people not home, a few people just we got a different person we were looking for, so told us to come back another time.  We met a guy, in his driveway, he didn’t live there but he was super nice and enthusiastic to us, we gave him a card.  We went to try Marquis and Shantel, husband and wife both former investigators, and Marquis was out on his porch.  He said he remembers missionaries teaching them before, he was very happy to see us, super nice guy!  He said his wife was inside getting ready to leave to pick someone up; she came out as she was leaving and said hi.  But it was good we talked with Marquis for a while, talked about the church and told him a little bit about the Book of Mormon.  We read him some verses, and he really loved it, we gave it to him and he said he’d read and we could come back Friday.  That was really good.  Then we went to go try a less active who doesn’t care for the church anymore but doesn’t mind us coming by, Sister Hunter.  Her neighbors were in their driveway so we decided to go talk to them.  It was an older man and he saw us walking up and he asked “what can I do for you ladies?”  My companion said “well, we’re the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are you religious at all?”  The guy just looks at us and says “Girls, I’ve been through 5 wars, seen so many children, women, families and innocent people die terrible deaths, there is no God.”  It was kinda silent for a second and he said “I know there is no God, and you’re not going to convince me.  Are you really wasting your lives away doing this?”  We kind just simply said okay well you have a great day or whatever…it’s so sad; death and illness isn’t the end!  It’s not eh worst thing that can happen to you!  But nothing we could have said would have changed anything for him.  So then we went and saw Sister Hunter.  We talked with her, gave her a scripture thought.  Then we had dinner at the Echegoyens, the Bishop’s house.  They’re from El Salvador, but have lived here a long time, I love them, his wife is super cute, and they have a 21 year old son still living with them.  They’re practically vegan, mostly Sister Echegoyen, but they make great food.  After at their house was a Relief Society recipe exchange.  Lots of ladies came over and brought even more food.  It was nice.

Then Wednesday we had studies, and then we had to go to Pep boys Auto to get our windshield wiper replaced.  That took a while.  We had to wait inside until they finished.  Lots of pop music was playing the whole time, and it made me think of all the music I loved to listen to back home, it drove me crazy, it made me really sad, I had a hard time.  Satan was really making me miss home.  Then we had lunch, and 4 people we tried to make appointments with weren’t available, 3 investigators.  That sucked.  So we went and had time.  I always love time.  I organized all the talks on my USB, watched videos, did stuff on my missionary portal, etc.  Then the Lents took us to dinner out at Chili’s!  So good!  They are so awesome!  Then we went by the church to see if there was a bible study class, there wasn’t.  Then we tried lots of people, weren’t home, so we went home and updated our area book.  I learned a lot of patience this day…

Thursday we had service as always at the Homeless shelter, and then we had lunch.  Then we went to this guy Charles’ house, he is a member, he’s 29, he goes to the YSA ward, but his Mom is a member of our ward, he’s active and she’s not.  We go over there occasionally to give him a lesson; we went over to help him with service.  We re-painted their house number on their curb.  Was easy.  He has some disabilities.  Then after we went home and changed, we went to go try lots of people.  This day was pretty full of seeing people.  So it started out we tried a few people who weren’t home, or had moved and didn’t live there anymore.  One house who the family didn’t live there and the new family wasn’t interested there were some guys out in the driveway next door.  As we started to walk up to them one of the guys came to meet us halfway, he was super nice, asked who we were.  He said he lived right next to a “super Mormon guys” in Hesperia.  He said they were good friends and talked about our religion a lot.  He said how he wondered which churches were true and there were so many but said ours was good and he thought it was interesting, and we asked him if he’s ever prayed to God to know that and he said “Haha, well actually…I don’t believe in God so…Haha.”  We were like ohhh well then there’s the problem.  Haha.  We told him to keep talking to his friend and gave him a card.   Then we tried a lady on our potentials list, but she didn’t live there anymore, but the lady there was super nice, accepted a pamphlet, said she’d read it and told us we could come back.  Then we tried some more houses, people weren’t home.  This one house of a potential the door opened a crack and we saw a lady’s face and she said “yes?”  We asked for the name, she said “that person doesn’t live her” so we proceeded to tell her we were missionaries, and before we were even done saying it she just shut the door.  Okay, cool, thanks.  But her neighbor in his garage was getting ready to leave, we told him who we were, that we had a message, explained it a little bit, and asked if that would be something he’d like to learn about.  He said “yeah I don’t see why not.”  Then said “but I’m getting ready to leave, do you have something to leave with me that I can read and you can come back whenever?  But I’m not home much.”  So we gave him a pamphlet.  Then we went to a house of a potential lady, her probably 17-21 year old son answered the door, said she was sleeping but asked if we had something to give her and we could come back.  Then he told us he thinks he’s been to one of our churches before and he’s seen missionaries, thought it was cool.  Told us to come back.  Then we went to try another potential—a woman named Nikki.  We were walking up to the address and there were like 5 thug looking boys in the garage.  I was thinking to myself, oh no.  We went up and said hi, the boy who lived there said hi, we asked if Nikki lived there still, and he was like, “Oh Haha, that’s my great Aunt, and she’s actually in jail right now…” hah, awkward.  He was like “she gets out next month if you wanna see her. “  So then we asked them if they were religious, the one said yes, another guy said “well not really religious, but we’re believers,” and then we just started talking to them.  They were asking us questions about our missions and one was like, “Yeah we’ve seen the guy missionaries a lot, but they never come up to us probably because of our appearance” Then the one guy was like “I wanna ask you guys your opinion on the rule your prophet set of children of gay parents not being able to be a member of your church.”  Oh boy, that was super fun.  He was lie “How can he do that, that’s judging the kid because of the parents.” And kept going on about it, no matter what we said he still just kept going.  And then one of the boys was like “I just have one thing to say, you guys are really awesome for what you’re doing, especially because you’re just doing it because you love God and I’m sure people turn you down all the time, but you still keep going, so don’t give up!”  It was nice to hear.  So we asked the one that lived there if there was a time we could come back and teach them all a little more.  He said yeah we could come back on Monday, they’d all be there.  Haha, so that was interesting!  Then we went to Sister Wolfe's for dinner she’s so awesome, she always feeds us every other Thursday.  She’s so sweet.  Then we went to have our lesson with the former investigator, Marlene, now she’s an investigator again.  We went and taught the whole Restoration lesson, probably her 3rd or 4th Resto lesson.  But she seemed to really like it and she seemed sincere about listening and reading and praying about it.  She was happy to hear about church being at 1:00 pm, so hopefully she’ll come.  After our lesson with her we wanted to go try some people but it was late and their lights were off.  So we went home.

Friday was weekly planning.  So we had studies, planned for a few hours, ate lunch, and then planned for a few more hours.  Then we went out and tried the new investigator lady again, no answer, sad, she seemed kinda sincere.  Then we tried a few people who didn’t answer, one former investigator told us no thanks, one former investigator told us to come back earlier in the day.  Then we went over to our investigators, Clay & Brittany’s.  Brittany wasn’t home, but her sister and Clay were, so we didn’t want to do a full lesson without Brittany, so we just talked with them and shared a scripture.  We asked him if they’d be at church and he said he always wants to but Brittany won’t always.  So it seems like he wants to progress and she doesn’t care as much.  Then we went over to Marquis and Shantel’s, the former investigators, who are now investigators again.  Shantel was out on their porch when we got there, she said Marquis never told her we were coming but yeah we could totally stay and talk, she said he was taking a nap.  We talked a lot with her, she’s super cute and awesome, asked us lots of questions, told us lots of things, she was so fun to talk to.  She asked us a lot about our missions and our church.  Then halfway through Marquis came out, he was happy to see us and he said so sorry he totally forgot we were coming.  So we talked a lot with them, shared a little bit of the Restoration, and gave them a Book of Mormon, gave them a chapter to read, and explained how we wanted them to pray to know that it’s true.  They both were super enthusiastic about it and told us they would and we planned to come back Wednesday to teach the real first full lesson, so that was really good.  Then we had dinner at the Millers, super cute family, love them.  Then we tried a few people who were busy, and just came home and updated the area book.

Saturday we had all our studies.  Then we were supposed to go see Sister Hearan, but she called and wasn’t going to be home.  So we tried a lot of houses and no one was home, or the person we were looking for wasn’t there.  Then we went home for lunch.  On our way home we saw this lady on the side of the road with a big tent selling food or something, we see those things all the time, we decided to stop.  So she spoke Spanish, we couldn’t really communicate, but we gave her a thumbs up.  I guess she just had fresh fruit in her thing; she cut up lots of pieces of different fruit and put it in a big plastic container for us.  Super random.  There are also these guys who walk around with shopping carts selling what I think is corn on a stick with some weird condiments on it.  They walk around and honk a horn to get people to come buy, so many people do.  It’s weird.  Anyways, after lunch we tried a lot of less actives we have never met, none of them were home.  Tried a few potentials that weren’t there.  These two old ladies just moved into the ward, they are sisters, both widows, so they came to live down by one of their daughters.  They came from Barstow.  We stopped by to see them because we wanted to get to know them; they were super sweet and talked a lot with us!  Then we had dinner with the Lewis family, super cute, love them.  Then we went by to see one last less active family who always texts us that they’re busy.  They have 4 kids over 8, only two are baptized, so we’ve been trying to get them baptized, but we want them active.  All the kids were in their rooms mostly, in and out, the Dad was around, we mostly talked to the Mom, super nice family, and they just don’t come to church.  We talked a lot with her and shared a scripture we asked if they were coming, they asked at what time, cleverly dodging the question.  Then we went home.  Oh another funny thing on Saturday, we were about to leave our apartment and our doorbell rang.  It was 2 little black girls and one said “can we take your trash out for a dollar?”  Haha, uh sure.  So we gave em our trash and 4 quarters.  Alrighty then.

Sunday—today, we had studies of course.  Then we had to run to Brother Lent’s to get him a paper for ward council.  Then we called Sandra, because we haven’t seen her, she’s been gone.  We convinced her to move her baptism date to May 7th because she would be confirmed on Mother’s Day and that would be very special.  So she’s still so excited!  That makes me so happy.  Then she told us she was going to set aside Sundays so she wouldn’t miss church, so no matter what, she’s going to be coming!  So happy!  And she and Jen came today!  Then we went to see David Love, less active.  And he was in pain and tired and just didn’t want us there…then we had lunch, then went to church.  There were tons of people there for a baby blessing, and we had 3 investigators there! Sandra, Jen and Marlene!  We had no idea Marlene was there but bishop told us she came in late and sat in the back.  Then we had class, taught Gospel Principles, and then Sandra asked for a blessing.  She’s been having trouble sleeping and she doesn’t want to rely on sleeping pills.  So Brother Waters and Brother Cammack gave her a blessing.  That was good, and she stayed for Relief Society.  Oh I love her!  Then we tried a potential Jennifer, she invited us in, but they were making dinner.  We met her two daughters and her husband Able.  They knew some Mormon people, they asked us a few questions, said they haven’t found a church since they moved that they liked, they might try ours, and said we could come back!  Then we had dinner at the Waters after trying a few more potentials that weren’t home.  I love the Waters!  They just got back from trek—youth conference last night, they were dead but still fed us.  They told us all about trek stories.  Reminded me of our trek and how bad I didn’t want to go, but how glad I was that I did.  They are so awesome I love them!  And now their married daughter and son in law live with them, even better!  Then we came home.  And now I’m here.

Sorry it’s so long!  I’m still doing okay.  I miss and love you guys!

Love, CourtneyJ