Temples and Sore Throats and Transfers and Such

cutecompsHi everyone!!:)

It was a great week!!

We’ve been using the BofM as a finding approach lately. So when we’re knocking on doors or when we talk to someone on the street, we’ll introduce ourselves as missionaries and then ask them what they know about the BofM. I love this because it instantly lets the person know exactly what religion this is, and then also they tell us what they already know and feel about it. Which sometimes they have bad feelings about it, but then we can address their concerns right then and there. And by starting with the BofM, they understand how important it is. You have to have a testimony of the BofM in order to have a testimony that this is truly the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Period. End of story. You can’t believe in the church but not the BofM. So we’re really focusing on helping people understand that and Moroni’s promise in Moroni 10:4. If they read the BofM and pray about it sincerely, with real intent, and with faith in Christ, they WILL receive the answer that it’s true. And if it’s true, then this is truly Christ’s church, and if this is Christ’s church, they need to be baptized. BAM.

denvcotemple

Wednesday we went to the temple!! I love the temple:) I love how peaceful and close to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ I feel there. It’s such a sacred, holy feeling. I love how on the front of the temple it says, “Holiness to the Lord. The House of the Lord.” I know that the temple is truly the house of the Lord! He is there. He walks those hallways. The temple is a place where we learn about Him and promise to follow Him. We receive so many blessings from going to the temple:)

cloggedsink
Our sink kept clogging up and Sister Kastner decided to take matters into her own hands.

Also I gave a training in district meeting! It went pretty well. It was about making changes in our lives that stick. This is something I’m working on, because it seems like I have all of these things I want to do better, so I’ll start doing something for a day and then it will end up only lasting a day. It’s so hard! It reminds me of Nephi’s psalm in 2 Ne 4 when he’s talking about “the temptations and sins that do so easily beset me.” That gives me a lot of hope because I mean this is Nephi we’re talking about, and I thought he was pretty much perfect! But ALL of us have things that are really tough for us. Every single one of us. But that’s all provided for in God’s plan because He knew that this would happen. And so through Jesus Christ (just like Nephi talks about later in the chapter), we are able to overcome those things and make those changes that will help us become more like Christ. And the practical application I talked about in the training was that we need to write down the changes we want to make, and we need to pick one to focus on. Because when I see everything I need to do, I get overwhelmed and do none of them:)¬†And after you pick one, you decide why it’s important that you do it, and then you make yourself accountable to someone so they can follow up, and then you work on it for one week! That’s how I think it basically works, at least. I’ll still experimenting on it, but it seems to work:)

flowersSo then…….we got sick. Really bad sore throats. Like I couldn’t swallow or talk without feeling like scorpions were dancing to la cucaracha in my throat and stinging me ecstatically. (I know cucaracha means cockroach, not scorpion, but these were definitely scorpions.) Sooo that was fun. We had to stay at the apartment that day and almost all of Friday as well. We were super popular though. Like all the other missionaries were texting us jokes and calling us and stuff. But we felt sorry for ourselves since Strasburg was too far away for them to actually visit us, so we bought ourselves flowers. They’re super pretty:) At first it was actually kind of nice to have a break from working since missionaries NEVER have breaks, but after a little while it got really really really boring. So it was awesome to go back to work ūüôā

Today is transfer day! Sister Kastner and I are both staying!!:) It’s funny because Sister Kastner started her mission here and as soon as she finished being trained, she became my trainer. So we’re both like new missionaries who don’t know anything about the rest of the mission areas:) Haha but we have sooo much fun together and laugh all the time. Like when we’re tracting we’ll be snapping and singing and stuff:) Our leadership calls us the Smiley Strasburg Sisters. candyposterSpeaking of leadership… we’re losing our district leader and our zone leaders:( One of the zone leaders, Elder Craggs, finished his mission and is going home today, and the other zone leader Elder Larsen and our district leader Elder Mourino are being transferred. All three of them are seriously some of the funniest people I know as well as some of the best leaders I’ve had,¬†and I’m going to miss them! So yeah Sister Kastner and I were kind of best friends with the zone leaders and we were really scared that the new ones would be super solemn and not fun, so we didn’t know what to do. But luckily we remembered we’re hilarious and we can just make them love us, so we made this poster for them:)¬†We’re going to meet them tomorrow!

Well I have to go but I hope all of you have a great week!! The gospel’s true. Live it. Share it. It’s awesome:)

Love,
Sister Stratford

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Wait, the transfer’s almost over? Whaaat?

Day 1 in Colorado
Day 1 in Colorado

Hi everyone!:)

I can’t believe that the transfer is almost over. It’s so crazy! They say that the days feel like weeks but the weeks feel like days, and it’s true!

Sister Kastner and I are enjoying warm, sunny days. But we’re a little apprehensive because this is what we’re used to, being from California, but everyone keeps telling us that it’s so weird it’s not snowing yet and we should prepare for blizzards and such. Hopefully that won’t happen for a little while longer!:)

P1010743This week was slower than other weeks have been, but we still got to meet a lot of amazing people:) We’ve been going through the less actives on the ward list and meeting them. They’re awesome! I love them all so much:) For the most part, they know how much the gospel will bless their lives if they live it fully. They just need a lot of love and support.

DSCN1983
Our district wore pink to the zone conference.

We had zone conference this week! I loved it!! Zone conference is every three months and it includes a few zones, so there are a LOT of missionaries! Sister Kastner and I get a little lonely for missionary company out here. Every time we see an incoming call from other missionaries, we get really, really excited haha:) It’s kind of easy to feel like we’re the only missionaries in the world! So zone conference is awesome!!!!:) And I got to see a couple people from my MTC district, so that was great! We had trainings from the AP’s and from President and Sister Mendenhall. One thing I really liked was a training about asking inspired questions. I want to be better at that!

Sister Smithson, Me, Sister Katsner, Sister Hudson
Sister Smithson, Me, Sister Katsner, Sister Hudson

When we ask investigators the right questions, they think about the doctrine and figure things out on their own, and then the Spirit is able to testify to them more. It’s amazing! I also liked something President Mendenhall said about exact obedience versus full obedience. Exact obedience is necessary, but full obedience requires that you change your nature instead of just your behavior. I’m trying to be more fully obedient!:)

I love President and Sister Mendenhall so much, by the way:D They’re so great!!

Day 1 in Colorado
Day 1 in Colorado

Oh I went on exchanges for the first time! I actually went with my grandmother, Sister Harker (she’s my trainer’s trainer!). So we were in Aurora, which is more in the city and it was very strange. I kind of felt like a country bumpkin or something because I was like “WHOA CARS. LOOK AT THE CARS. AND PEOPLE THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE.” We did service at a homeless shelter, which was awesome (I’m a pro at making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches now), tracted for a while (everyone was really open and a lady even ushered us inside and let us teach her a lesson in her home!), and visited some potential investigators and less actives. It was great! But I was also glad to get back to Strasburg:)

Also we get to go to the temple this week!! Yay!!:)

This is our cilantro plant, Subash! We planted him a few weeks ago. He's getting so big. *sniff* They grow up so fast.
This is our cilantro plant, Subash! We planted him a few weeks ago. He’s getting so big. *sniff* They grow up so fast.

And a couple days ago, we were talking to our district leader on the phone and he asked us what we wanted to learn about in district meeting this week, and I said I wanted to know how to make changes in my life that actually stick instead of doing them for a day and then giving up, and he said, “Great! Will you do a training on that?” Sooo I’m giving a training in district meeting, which is scary, but also I’m kind of excited!:)

So that’s basically what happened this week!:) I love you all and hope you are doing well!:)

Love,
Sister Stratford

A Week of Miracles

Hi everyone,

We had an AMAZING week! Lots of miracles:)

pumpkinsSo the week started off great because for zone p-day¬†last week, Sister Kastner and I¬†convinced the zone leaders to let us carve pumpkins, and they made it a contest and let us be the judges!! Yayy!!!!:)¬†The luchador on the end won:) And ours is the third one in the line-up. He’s named Alfredo and he was so cute. But now a week later he’s saggy and moldy and scary (see the second picture). ūüė¶ Oh well. He had a good life.

alfredoThen on Wednesday an appointment fell through and we both decided simultaneously to go see another of our investigators. I’ll just call him L. We dropped by his house, and he was really excited to see us! He grabbed his Book of Mormon and we all sat down out in the front yard. We had assigned him 3 Nephi 11 the last time we met with him, and he had read some of it. We all decided to start at the beginning of the chapter and read through it together. He was really really touched by the account of Christ’s ministry among the Nephites. He started to cry as we were reading, and Sister Kastner and I just kept going through the chapter, but we were¬†both kind of¬†tense and wide-eyed with wonder as we let the Spirit do His work:) Then when we were finished, we had a discussion about the Spirit, the priesthood and baptism. We invited L to be baptized, but he wasn’t that interested. He did, however, ask if we could keep reading. We just looked at each other and were like, “Well YEAH of course!!” No sooner had L read the first verse of chapter 12 than he put down his Book of Mormon, stood up, and declared, “I’m convinced. I want to get baptized.” He then proceeded to tell us about a small creek nearby and to ask if the priest figure could come and baptize him right then and there! Sister Kastner and I stared at him and then at each other and then at him again. Then we finally remembered we should say something:) We told him how we were so happy and excited for him, and then we explained the preparation that would be necessary, and also the doctrine of immersion:) So he should be getting baptized in a few weeks!!

I'm drawing Esther. I'm not done yet.
I’m drawing Esther. I’m not done yet.

After L, another appointment fell through. So we were driving down the road and we passed this huge field where a group of six teenage guys was playing baseball on the far side of it. Sister Kastner slowed down and then stopped. We looked at each other, then at the guys, then at each other. We thought about how we were supposed to talk to everyone.¬†“How awkward would it be,” asked Sister Kastner, “if we walked straight over to them, across the whole field, and interrupted their game?”¬†“Very awkward,” I replied; “We should do it.” We laughed awkwardly and excitedly, said a giggly prayer, and got out of the car. We marched across the entire field, straight for those boys. Then we called to the nearest one, “Hey! We’re missionaries. We want to share a message about Jesus Christ and His restored church with you!” The guy was understandably taken aback,¬†but HE SAID YES and THEN he¬†called in his four friends (one had left during Sister Kastner’s and my deliberations) and told them that they were all going to listen to a message about Jesus Christ! And THEN when they came in, ONE WAS A MEMBER. How much more perfect could this be??? And so we shared the message of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ with them, and then we gave them Book of Mormons, and the member was there to add his testimony to ours, and a couple of them seemed really interested, and we’re meeting with them this week! The Lord prepares people to hear His word, and He prepares situations so we can meet them. It is amazing to see:) Also¬†my new motto is that awkwardness brings miracles.

Then another miracle happened with our investigator C. We met him recently and shared the Restoration with him, and he was really interested! But when we came back for our return appointment, his mother answered the door. We had woken her up and she was not happy. Like really not happy. It was a little frightening, to be honest. So the next day we were like, “We need to see C really bad. But what if his mom answers the door again?” So we did what any self-respecting missionaries would do. We went back to¬†our apartment, put tootsie rolls in a cute jar and made it all adorable, grabbed a movie about the Restoration (because who doesn’t like movies?), and went back to C’s house armed with our peace offerings. tootsierollHow could C’s mom be mad at us if we were giving her a cute jar of tootsie rolls and a movie??? She couldn’t, that’s how. So as we drove up, C actually was right in front of us and we saw him go inside. So we put our gifts in our bags and went up to the door and knocked. C answered, and he was really happy to see¬†us!¬†He was really sorry about the day¬†before. His mom¬†had told him about it (indignantly) and he had defended us.¬†And he wanted to hear a message! We were able to share the Plan of Salvation with him. Here’s the miracle. It’s actually a sad one but it’s amazing. As we were talking about the Plan of Salvation, C told us that his friend had passed away the week before. So he had been thinking a lot about this sort of thing. He felt the truth of our message, and I think it brought him a lot of comfort and peace. The Lord had prepared us to be in the right place at the right time to give C the message he needed when he needed it most.

embaptism1And then on Saturday, something exciting happened. Like really exciting. WE HAD A BAPTISM!!!!!!! I mean I didn’t teach
him that much and he had already decided to be baptized before I arrived in Colorado, but still!:) So the man who was baptized is M. His wife K was baptized a couple months ago. I can clearly see how the gospel is blessing them because they are going through a lot, and this is getting them through it. M had been down a long road of preparation leading up to his baptism, so it was especially wonderful to see him be baptized. He had an amazing day and was able to feel the support of the ward. Sister Kastner and Sister Harker (the missionary who was here before me and taught M and K) gave the talks and I played the piano:) Now I want to baptize everyone!!

learningspanish
We’re trying to learn Spanish. We recite Joseph Smith’s First Vision and Doctrine and Covenants 4 in Spanish every morning after we say them in English:)

Then on Sunday we had a Spirit-filled lesson with our investigator J. Her mom R has been investigating the Church off and on for NINE YEARS, but we just started teaching J too. She is the sweetest person ever and I love her so much!! Sister Kastner and I were blessed to have a member there for the lesson, and it was so good. J accepted the Book of Mormon and has been reading from it, and in the lesson we talked about the Restoration. After we talked about the restoration of the priesthood, we invited her to be baptized. She was unsure, so we talked about it for a while. She definitely feels the desire, but wants to get a little more comfortable with everything first. She loves learning about the gospel and discussing it with us, and she feels like she really needs it in her life. After the lesson I was just super happy and filled with the Spirit:)

So as you can tell, the Lord is working miracles here in Strasburg, Colorado! And not just here. He is preparing people EVERYWHERE. The field is white all ready to harvest. El campo blanco esta ya para la siega. (I’m pretty sure that was wrong. It’s something like that though.) So go ask the missionaries if you can go out with them! We love that so much!! And it helps our investigators more than you know. Think about how much the gospel has blessed your life. Read Ether 12:4. Then think about which of your friends/co-workers/acquaintances needs that anchor for their soul. Then bring up the gospel with them! If you don’t know how, email me or send me a letter or something and I’ll help you. Or ask the missionaries in your area! And seriously,¬†overwhelm your missionaries with offers to help. Missionary work has blessed my life, and I know it will do the same for you!

alfredoo
He scares us. And yes, that is a picture of the famous missionaries Sister Anna and Sister Elsa in the background. ūüôā

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true! And we need to help build Christ’s kingdom on the earth:)

I love you all!! You are amazing and I’m grateful for your prayers:)

Love,
Sister Stratford

Donkeys and Testimonies!

Hi everyone!!

bikepicThis week was AMAZING. The Lord has definitely prepared the people of Strasburg, Colorado! The Lord is guiding us to new people all the time, people who have a desire to serve the Lord and are ready to hear about His restored gospel:) I love teaching lessons so much, but I also love tracting because that’s how we find new people! We have been talking to EVERYONE. For example, last week we were tracting, and we got a glimpse of a man in his garage on the other side of the street, so we went to talk to him. We ended up teaching a lesson to him and his family, and we’re visiting them again this week:) We never know who is going to let us in, so we try to never let anyone slip through our fingers!

I am totally in love with all of our investigators. (That was a weird way to say it. I mean that in the most platonic way possible.) They are amazing, strong people who have been through a ton but who still have the desire to follow their Savior. It’s incredible!

bike On another note, we got bikes!! That’s why there wasn’t an email last week… we went into town to go bicycle shopping:) I’m actually just using a member’s that they were going to throw away, but Sister Kastner bought a nice one! Haha it is definitely interesting to bike in a skirt. I hope we get better at it soon:) We had to trade vehicles AGAIN because our black jeep didn’t have a place for a bike rack. So now we have a white jeep, which isn’t quite as cool as the black one but we love him anyway.

Also we planted cilantro in a little container in our apartment and it’s growing quite nicely. We’re quite proud of it.

allthedonkeysI have now added donkey poop-scooping to my list of accomplishments! It’s a new experience, but actually¬†more pleasant than¬†you might think because the baby donkeys follow me around and it’s so cute:) And we got to name a couple of new donkeys that came in! Sister Kastner named the boy Skyler and I named the girl Ariana. She’s dark brown and really gorgeous:)

Oh I found out something interesting! Four of our five small towns don’t actually qualify to be towns. They’re technically villages:) Haha I live in a village:D

notherdonkeyOne of our new investigators is the sweetest old woman and I love her so much! The second time we visited her, I left¬†a Book of Mormon accidentally (besides the one we’d already given her). And then the next time we saw her, we got it back. But I accidentally left my personal scriptures. Bible, BofM, everything.¬†Haha so when we went back later to get it, she was like, “I think you’re doing this on purpose!”

emanddonkeySo as a missionary obviously I bear my testimony a lot, and it’s been amazing to see how much my testimony is growing because of it! I know what I am telling people is true. I know it will bless their lives if they live it because it has blessed my life. Seriously, everyone should bear their testimonies all the time:)

Conference was awesome! One of my favorite talks was the one about “What lack I yet?” I will be asking myself that every day now:) The prophets and apostles and other leaders of the church are truly called by God. Their word is His word!

This past week in our district meeting, we had a training about extending baptismal invitations. It was really good! Some people think that the missionaries just want to baptize them. And that’s true, but not for the reason they think! Baptism is how we are washed completely free of our sins, it’s how we make the sacred covenant with our Heavenly Father that we’ll follow Jesus Christ, it’s how we qualify to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, it’s a necessary ordinance for salvation… so yeah, we want to baptize them, but it’s because we love them and want the best for them!:) Sometimes it’s scary to invite them to be baptized. My first week here, I was supposed to invite one of our investigators to be baptized in a lesson we had planned with him. And then I didn’t do it. I chickened out. And I felt awful! In the next lesson, we did invite him to be baptized. He said no. But we found out what his concerns were and why he felt that way. So extending the baptismal invitation is a win-win situation! That’s what the training was about, and afterwards Sister Kastner and I decided to be better about inviting everyone to be baptized. Before the training, we had two investigators on date to be baptized. And a few days later, we had two more! It was amazing. It reminds me of this scripture (It’s kinda long but I love it too much to cut it down):

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, as I said unto my disciples, where two or three are gathered together in my name, as touching one thing, behold, there will I be in the midst of them– even so am I in the midst of you.

Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward.

Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.

Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you.

Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.

Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.”

That’s D&C 6:32-37. I love it:) Whenever we do good, the Lord will be there helping us. So we should all take courage! We are children of God. We are the brothers and sisters of Christ! We can do anything he asks:) “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (1 Ne 3:7) I know that I am on the Lord’s errand, and He is with me!

emanddotI love you all! Have a great week!:)

Love,
Sister Stratford