Best Week EVER!

Hi everyone!!

This week was FANTASTIC!!! First of all, I found out that my investigator from Strasburg (the woman who felt the spirit super strong at church and who has a pet pig) was baptized!! Her name is Trish and she has the most amazing faith of anyone I know!

On Wednesday and Thursday, Elder Soares of the Seventy came and spoke to our mission! Basically he called us to repentance for a few hours haha. Sister Wick and I were sitting right in the front row, so it was pretty intense! He told us, “You are good. You are very good. But you can do much better.” I was just like okay I will repent of everything!! And oh my goodness ever since he left, it’s been CRAZY.

As soon as the last meeting with Elder Soares was over, I pulled out my white handbook (the little manual of all the missionary rules) and a colored pencil and started highlighting everything I’m not being exactly obedient to. Then in the car as we drove back to our area, Sister Wick and I talked about everything that stood out to us from the meetings. The biggest things we thought of were working hard at night, talking to everyone, and achieving our goals.

Our first test was Thursday evening. Up to this point in the transfer, our nights hadn’t been very effective. Mostly we would try dropping by the same less-active members night after night, but they would either never be home or always be busy. Not a very good use of time, but we thought it was weird to tract at night. By the time we got to go work after the meeting on Thursday, it was 7pm, so we still had two hours and we didn’t have any lessons planned. We tried to visit some people, but they weren’t home. So per Elder Soares’ advice, we knocked on their neighbors’ doors and said, “Hi, do you know your neighbors over here? For some reason they are not home; do you know if they’re okay or if they need any help? No? Well we actually were going to share an amazing message about Jesus Christ and how faith in Him helps us through our trials. Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” And no one thought we were weird!! (Or at least they didn’t show it:D) We got to give someone a Book of Mormon and he said he would read it!

That same night, we were driving to a different area at about 8:30pm when we passed a little side street. I was driving, and for some reason I felt drawn to it. I kept driving past a couple more streets, but the feeling just stayed, so I blurted out, “What was that street??” Sister Wick was so confused. I turned the car around and turned onto the little street and started driving down it. When I reached the other end, I parked. Sister Wick said, “You better figure out why we’re here!” and I was like, “I have no idea!” and she was like, “PRAY!!” so I prayed. And after I prayed, the only thing I could think of to do was to get out and walk down the street, so I told Sister Wick and she said, “Good. During the prayer I just kept hearing ‘get out and walk’ over and over!” So we got out and walked. I just knew somehow which side of the street to go down. And a few houses down, Sister Wick pointed at a house and was like, “look a cat!” and she likes cats so she went to go pet it. On the porch, we looked at each other and then Sister Wick rang the doorbell real quick. And this guy answered and we started talking to him and he shared some of his beliefs and we gave him a Book of Mormon and committed him to read a chapter that applied to him and he’s going to do it and we’re seeing him again this week!!!!!!! It was so cool!!!!!! We got back in the car afterward and said a thank you prayer:) It was especially amazing because I hadn’t felt the Spirit guiding me as much lately and had kind of been struggling with it. I think that I was able to have this experience because I tried so hard to immediately follow what Elder Soares had taught:) So follow the brethren!!

The next day was incredible. Elder Soares had said that we needed to talk to everyone (we had only been talking to almost everyone) and we needed to achieve the goals we set each day for how many lessons, new investigators, etc. So we went out to work and just talked to every single person we saw! And it was like everyone was interested!!! There is this family who is moving and we’re probably going to come help them, there’s this Russian gentleman who we’re going to get a Russian Book of Mormon for, it was just amazing!

Just so you know, I’m really awkward at talking to people. Like super awkward. Haha there was a lady getting home from somewhere and it was my turn to talk, so I said, “Hey, we’re going around asking people about their relationship with Jesus Christ, so uh.. what is..uh your relationship. With Jesus Christ.” And she started talking to us and we’re going by next Friday! What? But seriously I’m so awkward. In the Doctrine and Covenants, God promises us that if we open our mouths, they will be filled. I open my mouth and weird stuff comes out. So I think for me, the promise means that when I open my mouth, it’s filled with the Spirit and not with eloquent words. Haha:)

We were heading back to our car to go to dinner when Sister Wick spotted some teenagers at a park a ways away. So we went over there and started talking to them! We had an amazing discussion with three of them. At one point, one of the guys said, “So I hear Mormons have a lot of rules.” We waited. Then he said, “What if you already broke them?” We were able to teach him about the Atonement and how Christ heals us so we can be clean. He didn’t have a religious background, so he was just soaking it all in, and I could see how much he wanted to be free of guilt and shame for mistakes he had made. We taught him about baptism and about how it makes us clean. We’re meeting with him this week! And there was a girl there who was so hungry to know about The Book of Mormon. She’s studied the Bible a lot, and she was so focused on us as we explained about how we have another testament of Jesus Christ. When we gave her a Book of Mormon, she started reading it right then and there! And later I remembered that for the meeting with Elder Soares, we had been asked to come fasting. And I had felt impressed to fast for the youth in the area.

That evening, it was 7:30> and we hadn’t reached all of our goals. We still had a goal of teaching a little missionary lesson to an active member and of teaching a new investigator WITH a member present. (The one we had planned for the day had fallen through.) The only thing we could think of to do was to go to a member family who had told us about their friend who might be interested. Our plan was to teach the family and then go with them to their friend and teach them. Sounds like kind of a stretch, right? Well we wanted to reach our goals. Elder Soares had told us that we had to. So before we went and knocked on the members’ door, we prayed for a miracle. Then we went and knocked. They were home, so we told them our plan and asked if they were okay with doing that.. and they said no. My heart dropped. But they said we could teach them a member lesson. So went in and started to teach them, but I had no idea how we were going to reach our goal. As we were teaching them, their daughter walked in with two college friends. They said hi and went downstairs, and then the son who had been listening to our lesson said, “Well there go your non-members.” Sister Wick and I felt severely chastised by this 14-year-old boy. After we finished the lesson, the son said, “I’m going to go get my sister’s friends so you can teach them.” And he marched downstairs! Sister Wick and I were kind of dumbfounded. And we were even more so when he marched back up with one of the friends!! So we taught this guy about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon, gave him a copy, and invited him to read it. He said he would! It was the coolest thing ever!! He’s not a new investigator because he actually lives kind of far away, but it was still a miracle:)

Oh my goodness it’s just been an incredible week. There have been so many other little miracles all over the place that I don’t have time to tell you about all of them. But I KNOW that the Lord is directing His work. I know that Heavenly Father is there. He is truly our Father and He is aware of and loves each one of His children. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. He lived and died and lives again so that someday, we can go home to our Father. I know that the gospel of Christ is on the earth today, restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. God still speaks through prophets. He still answers prayers.

I am so grateful to be able to share this message, my testimony, with the people here! And I hope you guys take every opportunity to share it as well!

I love you all:)

Love,
Sister Stratford

P.S. This Wednesday is transfers, and I’m staying! Sister Wick is leaving me (sad!) but my new companion, Sister Smithson, was in my district when I was in Strasburg and I love her so much!!

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Steve Got Baptized!

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Meet Steve and Fonda 🙂 They’re awesome!!

Hey everyone,

On Saturday, our investigator Steve got baptized!! It was a really amazing day and everyone felt the Spirit:) He has grown so much through this process and was really ready to make these covenants with Heavenly Father:) And I loved seeing his wife smiling so big the entire time! She’s been waiting for this day. It’s been a wonderful journey for them to come closer to Christ together:)

We had exchanges earlier in the week, and the sister I was with gave a dinner message where she lit a teabag on fire and talked about the fears that keep us from doing missionary work. I remember some missionaries giving us that dinner message years ago, but they almost burnt Joshua’s hand off. Anyway the members that we did it with told everyone at church about it, so now everyone wants us to come do it for them. So I’m going to learn it and try not to burn anyone:D Maybe I should practice first with some members who I know like us and won’t try to sue us or anything.

Oh at the nursing home this week, I was bawling out bingo numbers again, and I heard one of the elderly ladies tell her friend, “This one is really good– you can really hear her! With some of those gals you can hardly tell what they’re saying!” I had never in my life received a compliment of this nature. It brings a tear to my eye just to think about it. 😀

Miracle time!!! A couple weeks ago, Sister Wick and I really felt like we needed to remember we were still missionaries on p-day. It’s easy to forget when you’re going around washing your car and buying groceries and such. So that morning, we made a goal to give someone a mormon.org pass-along card. As the day progressed, we’d had no success. We were at the grocery store and felt like buying bagels for a snack, which we don’t normally do. So we bought everything and went out to our car, and then we decided to come back in to eat our bagels at these little tables in the store. So we went back in and sat down, and a lady at another table complimented Sister Wick’s skirt. So we started talking to her, and she was super nice and we just kept talking to her and she told us her family was working on painting a house and we offered to help and then she gave us her card and we were like, “oh yeah, we have a card too!” and gave it to her! And then we figured out which missionaries’ area she lived in, and we told those elders about her, and they scheduled a time to help her paint. THEN the day before they were supposed to go over, they were tracting her street without realizing it and the second door they knocked was her, and they talked for about an hour, and then the next day we just made it a party with the elders and us and another set of sisters helping paint, and their family was so grateful, and they said the elders can come teach them anytime they want! Yay!! I love when it’s so clear how the Lord is directing His work. I know He leads us to those whom He has prepared:)

In my Book of Mormon study, I’m reading about the sons of Mosiah. I want to be like them! They are pretty much the best missionaries ever. They started out so wicked, but once they let Christ into their hearts and repented, their only desire was to share their joy with others! I love Mosiah 28:3-4, “Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble. And thus did the Spirit of the Lord work upon them, for they were the very vilest of sinners. And the Lord saw fit in his infinite mercy to spare them.”

I love how miraculous the change in them was. I’ve seen a lot of miracles on my mission, but the biggest one of all is the miracle of conversion. And that one is available to all of us:) When we seek Christ, the Holy Ghost is able to change our hearts and help us become the people we want to be. It’s a lifelong process, but it’s completely worth it. It’s been amazing to see this process in Steve and others, and the person I’ve seen it the most in is me:)

I love you all!!

Love,
Sister Stratford

Mission Life is Good

Hey everyone,

Oh my goodness I keep running out of time!! Today we do have a little less time because we’re going to go do service at the nursing home soon:)

We made valentines to give to our investigators, former investigators, less actives, and just people in the ward who we thought would appreciate it. We delivered about 30 on valentine’s day:)

In The Book of Mormon I recently have been studying Mosiah. Mosiah 27:36 talks about the sons of Mosiah and how they were instruments in the Lord’s hands. That’s something I’m working on–being an instrument in the Lord’s hands. I know that we all can do His work here on earth. He needs us to love and serve the people around us. In John 13 it says that people will know we are disciples of Christ if we love one another. I want to challenge all of you to pray and look for opportunities to help the people around you. They’ll be able to see that you are a disciple of Christ, and both they and you will be blessed:)

Sickness and Snow and Such

P1020032Hey everyone,

It’s been an interesting week! On Monday we had a huge snowstorm, so for a few days after that we were shoveling snow a LOT. We shoveled for some members, but we also just went and asked random people if we could shovel their driveways and it was a really cool experience! I’m getting pretty darn good at this snow thing if I do say so myself.

Tuesday was fun because there was too much snow and the mission parked our cars. So we set out on foot! We live about five miles out of our area, so it was a long walk. Fortunately (or Providentially!) we were able to catch a bus for part of the way, and then later some members from a different stake were driving by and offered us a ride! Haha there still ended up being a lot of tromping through snow, but it made things a lot easier. Sister Wick and I also taught each other children’s songs, me from primary and her from the church she grew up in. I taught her “To Think About Jesus” and “Two Little Hands” and she taught me “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” So we just tromped along and sang and it was awesome:)

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Strasburg was too much for my little California boots as you can see. 🙂 I had to get new ones.

Wednesday we got to go to the temple!! Yay!! I love the temple and the perspective it brings. Heavenly Father loves each one of us so much:)

Also on Wednesday, Sister Wick and I led roleplays in district meeting. It was fun! They were about working with members. All of you should go call the missionaries and ask if you can go teach with them!

On Friday we were in a big missionary meeting when Sister Wick grabbed my shoulder and stood up. I looked over at her, and her expression was pretty funny. She ran out of the meeting to go throw up in the bathroom. So yeah, for the next couple of days I sat in our apartment and read the scriptures and watched church movies and drew pictures while she slept. She’s feeling a lot better now:)

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Hagar and Ishmael

And then yesterday we weren’t allowed to knock doors because people were watching the Broncos and would probably murder us, so we sat inside and did weekly planning. (If the fireworks that were going off all night are any indication, the Broncos probably won:D) Basically I’m pretty well done with sitting inside and am all ready to get out and work hard! Hopefully I don’t get sick! *knock on wood*

On Saturday we did get to teach Steve, our investigator who is getting ready to be baptized. It was a really good lesson! We talked about tithing and fasting, and the Spirit was really strong. Steve’s wife is a member, and it’s been amazing to see both of them getting excited about the gospel. They have so much real intent, and they love living everything we teach them! Every time I teach them, my testimony of the gospel and how it works in our lives to bring us joy is strengthened. I love them!

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President and Sister Mendenhall

Every morning in our companion study, we recite Our Purpose, which is to “invite others to come unto 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.”

This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. That’s what we learn in the Book of Mormon. Each part is so critical to live by. Everything else branches off of these things. Recently I’ve been going through and reading the Book of Mormon, highlighting everything that talks about these five basic parts of the gospel. It’s really shown me that the gospel is everything! It’s the reason we’re here on earth and the way we get back to our Heavenly Father.

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Here is Sister Wick sporting her Bronco Pride! The picture is from today (2/8). I wore orange yesterday though! 🙂

I’m so grateful to have the gospel in my life and to be able to share it with others:) How does the gospel work in your life?

I hope all of you have a great week! I love you all!:)

Love,
Sister Stratford

A Spoonful of Service

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Haven’t seen any donkeys lately, but last pday we got to hold puppies at the pet store!

Hey everyone,

I’ve been in Thornton for a week and a half now! I’m starting to get to know the people, and I really love them:) It’s weird to be in two wards because sometimes I forget who belongs where, but I’m slowly learning! Also it’s hard to balance two wards because this week we accidentally pretty much only worked in one of the ward boundaries, so we basically did nothing in the other ward. Oops! We’re setting individual goals for each ward this week to try to prevent that!

In this area we do a lot of service. Tuesdays we play bingo with people in the old folks’ home and then we paint their nails. It’s pretty fun:) Sometimes the old ladies get mad at each other and it’s kinda funny. Sister Wick said sometimes they even try to steal stuff from the prize cart, so we have to keep a watchful eye on them. There’s this woman named Faye who is one of my favorites. She always tells us that she loves us:) She’s so sweet! Also while we clean up we get to see them do yoga, which is interesting for the elderly!

Thursdays we go back to the nursing home, this time with our zone, and we sing hymns and traditional songs for them. (Co-op prepared me well!) They really love having us and it’s a really sweet experience, especially when the residents can sing along:)

We also try to look for unplanned opportunities to serve. This morning, we shoveled a lady’s driveway. In skirts. Haha sister missionaries are tough little things.

On Wednesday we were able to teach a man who doesn’t pray, so we taught him to! That’s one of my favorite things to do– teaching someone to pray for the first time. His prayer was so simple and sincere. “I’m seeking for You, and I hope You’re seeking for me too.” It was a beautiful experience:)

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Doesn’t it kinda look like Strasburg out there?

Saturday was beautiful and sunny and we bought lemonade from some kids while we were out tracting. Then we had a picnic. By that night it was snowing. ???

Once again I’ve run out of time. My goodness!! Anyway, I love you all and hope you have a great week for of opportunities to serve!

Love,
Sister Stratford