Happy New Year!

20151225_184148Hi everyone,

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas!

The work was slower this week because of the holidays, so hopefully it will start to pick up again. Sister Sherwood and I have had a lot of fun, though! On Christmas Eve and Christmas day we basically hung out with members. And of course we got to talk to our families!!:) Haha everyone said it would be weird, but it was just fun:) I’m so grateful for modern technology! And then that evening we were allowed to watch a Disney movie, so we watched Tangled and sang and danced around our apartment:)

One of the sisters in the ward told us, "I got you this present. I wrapped it twice so you can both take a turn opening it." "How sweet!" we replied. When we got back to the apartment, we realized the real reason she wrapped it twice. :D
One of the sisters in the ward told us, “I got you this present. I wrapped it twice so you can both take a turn opening it.” “How sweet!” we replied. When we got back to the apartment, we realized the real reason she wrapped it twice. 😀

Yesterday we had a miracle! We had two pretty solid appointments scheduled in the evening, and they both canceled. But then this less-active girl texted us and asked if we could come over that night! So we went over, and her less-active older sister and her non-member younger brother both came in and participated in the lesson! And the sister even prayed for the first time in a long time! So everything just worked together so we would be able to see them. This is the Lord’s work, and He is truly directing it:)

So I’ve been thinking a lot about goals lately since it’s almost a new year. (Can you believe it?? 2016!!) As a missionary, you make a TON of goals all the time. Daily goals, weekly goals, transfer goals. In Preach My Gospel, there’s a quote by Elder M. Russell Ballard that says:

Sister Sherwood and I bought tiny stockings. Hers is Elsa. Mine is Darth Vader playing the piano.
Sister Sherwood and I bought tiny stockings. Hers is Elsa. Mine is Darth Vader playing the piano.

“I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to made a great difference in the results he attains in this life.”

I love this quote! We are children of heavenly parents. We have so much potential, it’s crazy. But if we don’t do anything to reach it, we’re not going to go anywhere! We have to have something to work toward.

Goals have been hard for me throughout my life. I’ve set them so many times, but then I wouldn’t reach them. But since going to college and especially since going on my mission, I’ve been learning how to make good goals and how to work towards them and reach them. It’s really exciting! There are a few things I’m learning that I want to share:

P10109401. It’s so important to make realistic goals. If they’re not attainable, why make them? With goals you should be able to see the steps you need to take in order to reach them.

We’re teaching a woman who is discouraged because she doesn’t understand the difference between dreams and goals. She has so many dreams, but they’re pretty lofty. We trying to help her see that she can make realistic goals so that eventually she can reach her dreams!

2. You have to care about it. I’ve made goals that I didn’t really care about and guess what? Never reached them. But then I’ve had goals that I cared a ton about, like going on a mission, and here I am!

It’s really about knowing the reason behind it. I’ve never done this before this year, but for my new year’s resolutions I’m writing down the reason for each of my goals. I think it will help!

Our Christmas decorations! :)
Our Christmas decorations! 🙂

3. Be accountable to someone. Tell them about your goal, and check in with them periodically.

This makes it sooo much easier because sometimes you let yourself get away with things that someone else wouldn’t let you get away with:D It probably should be enough to just be accountable to yourself and Heavenly Father, but I know that for me, I usually have to have someone else too.

So those are some of my thoughts about goals! I know that we can be the people we want to be, but we have to make goals to get there. And our Savior will always be there to help us. There’s the part of the Atonement that means we can be forgiven of our sins, but then there is another part called the enabling power of the Atonement. That means that Christ made it possible for us to grow and to get stronger and to learn. He made it possible to change! In Mosiah 5:7, King Benjamin taught his people that a change of heart comes through faith in Christ. He’s made it possible for us to reach our full potential.

I hope that all of you have a happy new year and that 2016 is full of joy! Thank you for your support:) I love you all!

Love,
Sister Stratford

Merry Christmas!!

IMG_0214Merry Christmas, everyone!

Here’s Sister Sherwood’s and my Christmas card:

Our boots were completely caked in mud haha:D

It’s been a good week! This one day, Sister Sherwood and I were trying to decide whether to get pizza or Mexican for lunch, so we did rock paper scissors and pizza won. So we went to the little pizza place here and there was just one girl working, and we were the only customers. So she saw our nametags and started talking to us about where we worked, and we told her what we do and shared a little about the Restoration of the gospel! She thought it was awesome! She gave us her number and we’re going to try to meet with her soon:) That rock paper scissors game was definitely inspired!

P1010929 Monday night through Tuesday morning there was a huge snowstorm. So on Tuesday, all the missionaries’ cars were parked, meaning we had to walk everywhere. Haha so we were just trudging along with snow pelting our faces. We mostly just visited nearby members and shared the “A Savior is Born” video with them. (Watch it on christmas.mormon.org if you haven’t yet, and if you have, share it!) It was good because everyone felt sorry for us and let us in!:) Haha then we walked to a Mexican place for dinner since we couldn’t drive to our dinner appointment, and we got this call from a member. She was like, “Are you guys okay??” And we said yeah, and she said, “My husband said he thought he saw you two walking through the snow on the side of the road!” Haha that made us laugh:D

We got a ton of these pink sugar cookies (from Liahona Academy) so this is what our weekly planning looked like... we just sat on the floor and planned and ate cookies:D
We got a ton of these pink sugar cookies (from Liahona Academy) so this is what our weekly planning looked like… we just sat on the floor and planned and ate cookies:D

We’ve been teaching this teenage boy who is awesome, but every time we go to see him, his grandpa comes out and monopolizes the lesson. He’s about 70 years old, with a weathered face and a long, scraggly beard. He’s nice and all, but he could talk for hours without taking a breath! He just waves his cigarette around and says things like, “Eve was actually Adam’s second wife” and “Based on the DNA evidence, every person on earth comes from the same woman– except the Eskimos of course” and “The only difference between us and that tree is one percent of water.” Super nice guy, but he makes it a little hard to have a spiritual discussion with his grandson!:)

Snow is so pretty!!
Snow is so pretty!!

This week, we’ve been talking to a lot of families about how they can remember Christ this Christmas. We were talking to one family about how Christmas lights remind us that Jesus is the light of the world, and we asked what a Christmas tree represents. One little boy said, “Jesus is like the tree trunk, and we’re the branches. He holds us up!” I loved that:) Jesus Christ is always there to hold us up!

Some of the most well-known verses in scripture about the Christmas story are found in Luke 2:

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.

We hit a milestone this week! 0 degrees!
We hit a milestone this week! 0 degrees!

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

What were the good tidings? They were tidings of a gift. A gift to the shepherds, to you, to me, to the world!

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

Our tree :)
Our tree 🙂

Jesus Christ. He was a a gift of a Savior. “And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us– That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness.” (D&C 76:40-41)

It was a gift of hope, of mercy, of forgiveness and eternal life. A gift of love. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God is our loving Heavenly Father, and He gave us this matchless gift of a Savior!

So we should be singing with the angels, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

We teach a less-active family from Venezuela, and they feed us the BEST food ever. This time was ayacas, which are like Venezuelan tamales!
We teach a less-active family from Venezuela, and they feed us the BEST food ever. This time was ayacas, which are like Venezuelan tamales!

The shepherds recognized this wonderful gift. In Jesus the Christ, James E. Talmage writes, “They waited not, but went in haste, for in their hearts they believed, yea, more than believed, they knew, and this was the tenor of their resolve: ‘Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.’ They found the Babe in the manger, with the mother and Joseph near by; and, having seen, they went out and testified to the truth concerning the Child.”

Even though we don’t see the angels or the manger or the star, the Lord has still made these glad tidings known to us. We can still go in haste. And just as the shepherds, we can testify to the truth concerning the Christ.

I know that Jesus Christ was born. I know that He lived for us, and I know that He died for us. And I know that He lives again.

Mary and JesusI hope that we all come to our Savior, at Christmastime and always, and that we bear testimony of His truth to everyone! Because what better tidings could there be? A Savior is born.

Merry Christmas!

Love,
Sister Stratford

Christmastime is Here!!!!

IMG_0182Hey everyone!!

This week was really busy with lots of lessons and introducing Sister Sherwood to everyone! She is awesome and I love her and she’s going to be so good for this area:) she’s an amazing teacher and the people have been really receptive to her!

Sister Sherwood was in the Arvada area for the six weeks before she came here, and she’s been telling me about how they basically tracted all day. It’s helped me realized what a blessing it is that we have people to teach here! Sometimes we have to literally run to the car after an appointment because we have another one right then. It’s amazing!:)

Everybody hunts here, and they even had to schedule their primary program around the hunting season. Last week somebody gave us elk meat for dinner. It was good, but super rare and bloody. I felt like a Lamanite woman.

There was a special guest at the devotional! :)
There was a special guest at the devotional! 🙂

Last week we had a missionary Christmas devotional! It was almost a whole day long, and basically it was a ton of missionaries together and we all sang songs and performed skits (my zone’s was a skit where Buddy the Elf stowed away and showed up at the mission office and became a missionary so he could go find his less-active dad) and had lunch, and then the guy in charge of the Piano Guys came and spoke to us, and then the mission president and his wife spoke to us, and it was just a really nice day!:)

I can’t remember if I told you about the nine-year-old son in the less-active family, but we’re teaching him and he’s going to be baptized really soon! Last Sunday, he and his family came to church for the first time in a long time! It was so exciting!!:)

In my personal study this morning, I was studying and trusting in the Lord and aligning our will with His. It’s a really important subject! Here are some of my favorite scriptures I found:

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” proverbs 3:5-6

“Delight yourself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.” psalms 37:4-5

Also Alma 37:36-37, but I’m almost out of time!

I love you all and hope your week is amazing!:)

Love,
Sister Stratford

More Pictures from Strasburg!

My new companion Sister Sherwood and I!   P1010884

Left Picture: Sister Sherwood and I! 🙂

P1010893   P1010894

Right Picture: These little guys are named Tom and Jerry. They’re not babies, but they’re the tiniest things!!

P1010899   P1010901

Left Picture: Have you ever seen roasted chestnuts? There was a Christmas party all along the main street in Strasburg, and some people had a fire and were roasting chestnuts and giving them to people. They were so yummy:)

Right Picture: Sister Smithson and Sister Harker! They were our Sister Training Leaders this past transfer, which means they took care of the sisters in the zone:) Sister Harker trained Sister Kastner for the three months before I got here. And Sister Smithson is Sister Kastner’s new companion!:)

News, News, and more News! :)

P1010902Hi everyone!:)

So this week has been kind of crazy!! First of all, Sister Kastner was transferred today and now I’m follow-up training Sister Sherwood, who has only been out for six weeks!!! I’ve only been out for three months!!! I feel like I just got here, so it’s weird to be the senior companion!! But Sister Sherwood is awesome, and this transfer is going to be so much fun:) I’m going to have to rely on the Lord a LOT, but that’s a good thing so it will be fine:)

P1010903
Four generations!! Sister Harker trained Sister Kastner, Sister Kastner trained me, and I’m follow-up training Sister Sherwood:) (Basically I’m a step-mom:D)

I’ve been thinking a lot about one of our investigators and the lessons we have with him. His lessons always have a lot of silence. It’s really cool. We’ll discuss something with him, and then we’ll just wait while he thinks about it. And after a minute he always has a really good thought or question about it. Sometimes it feels like we always need to be doing something, but it’s those quiet moments when we’re able to be taught by the Spirit. I’m trying to be better at listening to the promptings of the Spirit instead of just jumping in and trying something by myself. I know that sometimes it’s hard to feel the Spirit guiding you, but it gets easier as you practice:) I’ve had to get a lot better at listening to the Spirit as a missionary!

This is Sister Baker:) She made us adorable hats!!! And they are super super soft:)
This is Sister Baker:) She made us adorable hats!!! And they are super super soft:)

So the investigator I was talking about last time, T? We had another lesson with her, and it was amazing. I could not keep myself from grinning through the whole thing. She was talking about church, and she said she just had this warm feeling there, like a blanket was wrapped around her. We were just like, “Yup that’s the Spirit!!!” We had a really really good discussion about that and about baptism. She wants to be baptized!!!! We’re shooting for the beginning of January:) I’m so excited for her!!! She said the feeling at church was so strong, she felt light-headed. Sister Kastner and I sometimes talked about all of the people in the Book of Mormon who pass out from feeling the Spirit so strong, and then we would talk about what it would be like if our investigators did that, so we were like, “Whoaa.”

What would an email be without donkey pictures from Strasburg??
What would an email be without donkey pictures from Strasburg??

Oh haha last week we were at a less-active’s home, and her son was talking about this spicy stuff he loves called Satan’s Blood. It’s ghost pepper extract. If you don’t know what that is (I didn’t), it is HOT. Sister Kastner wanted to try it, so she made me do it too. OH my goodness. At first it was like, “Hmm, this is spicy.” And then it completely enveloped everything and yeah it was CRAZY.

 

The elders trying Santa's Blood.
The elders trying Santa’s Blood.

So of course the family was like, “You should borrow this and give it to all the other missionaries in your district tomorrow.” So the next day at district meeting, that’s what we did. Grown men cried. Two of the elders suffered for a few minutes and then disappeared somewhere. When a couple other elders went out to find them, it turned out they were in the parking lot eating dirty, leaf-covered snow. Yup it was fun:D

I love love love the Colorado sky! :)
I love love love the Colorado sky! 🙂

If you haven’t seen the new Christmas video on christmas.mormon.org, you should watch it! This time of year is so beautiful because of the focus on Christ. He is truly the light and the life of the world. When we follow His example and teachings, we are able to have joy and peace in our lives. I challenge you all to find a way to more fully center your lives on Jesus Christ this Christmas! I know you will see blessings through this. I am so grateful for Him, and I feel His love for me everyday:)

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Thank you all for your support:)

Love,
Sister Stratford