A Beautiful Week :)

P1020140Hey everyone,

I hope you guys had a wonderful Easter! I know I have grown closer to my Savior and more grateful for His Atonement.

This week was beautiful:) Definitely hard parts, but lots of moments of joy as well:)

A couple of weeks ago, we had dinner with some members whose address didn’t show up in our GPS. So we figured out the general area where we thought they lived, clicked randomly and had the GPS take us there. We left early so we could have time to find the house. When we got there, we realized we were at the exact address! Since we had a few minutes before we had to go in, we knocked on one of their neighbor’s doors and he answered, and we set up an appointment to come back! There ended up being some complications with meeting because he went out of town, but then last Monday we tried by again. This time his wife answered, and she said we could P1020127come back the next night! And so the next night, they were both home and ready for us, and they received the message of the Restoration, and it turns out the husband is very less active and the wife is interested in learning more! They are awesome and we’re so excited to continue to teach them:)

Tuesday was beautiful, sunny and warm. Wednesday we got BURIED in snow. Denver hasn’t had a blizzard like this in years and years. It snowed all day, and we ended up getting about 20 inches. It was crazy!!!! Sister Smithson and I decided not to attempt walking a few miles to our ward, so we just shoveled some snow around the apartment complex and tried to make snow angels. Then we came inside and read the Bible Dictionary, made tortillas, worked out to some Richard Simmons, just normal stuff:D Honestly we got super bored and were so excited to go out and work the next morning!

The rest of the week has been gorgeous and the snow is melting super quick. I really don’t understand Colorado weather. You don’t even know how many times the people here have quoted to me: “Don’t like this weather? Wait 15 minutes.” SO TRUE.

P1020164Oh my goodness Saturday was amazing!!! One of the people I taught in Strasburg, Robyn, got baptized with her daughter!! I didn’t really know that daughter, but I taught her other daughter and I have faith that with the example of her mom and sister, she’ll come into the waters soon enough:) Sister Smithson and I drove all the way out there for the event (and used all our miles–we may be walking the rest of the month), and it was one of the most spiritual baptisms I’ve ever been to. Robyn was just beaming the entire time!

Haha when Sister Smithson and I walked into the building, I got a flying tackle hug from Sister Sherwood, and then she told me I was playing the piano and accompanying a musical number:D And my trainer Sister Kastner was there too!! P1020165We gave the baptism talk together:) The Spirit was just so strong the entire time, and my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ was strengthened. I know that baptism is truly the gate to the path that leads to eternal life. When we are baptized, our sins are washed away, and we promise to follow Jesus Christ for the rest of our lives. Through priesthood authority, we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost, who helps us and strengthens us along the way. I saw the joy that comes from these truths in the shining faces of Robyn and her daughter. I think that is the happiest I’ve even seen either of them. One of my absolutely most favorite things about being a missionary is seeing the miracle of changing hearts:)

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Strasburg!

And then Easter came and it was just too much goodness! Church was so amazing. Sister Smithson and I went up and sang with the ward choir, so that was fun:) And in relief society we talked about the Atonement and everyone was crying and it was wonderful:) Then after church, we felt like we should visit an elderly woman in the ward who lives alone and is too sick to go to church anymore. We went over and had a really nice discussion about the Atonement with her, and she was super appreciative that we had gone by. She loves music (she was in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir when she was 19!), so we sang “I Stand All Amazed” and she mouthed the words along with us. It was a really tender experience. I love her so much! Her faith in Christ is beautiful to see.

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Also Strasburg!

I am so grateful for Jesus Christ. I’ve been thinking about the Atonement in relation to Ether 12:27 in the Book of Mormon. Through Christ’s Atonement, our weaknesses can become strengths. I’m so glad for that! Whenever I feel like I’m just not good enough, like I’m making the same mistakes over and over, I find hope through Christ. He’s the one who picks us up and dusts us off when we fall. He’s the reason that we can learn from our mistakes and try again. Through Him, we can be a little better each day. I love my Savior:)

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I hope all of you have a wonderful week!

Love,
Sister Stratford:)

Happy Easter!

P1020091Hey everyone!

Happy Easter! I hope you all are feeling your faith in Christ grow as you remember His atoning sacrifice and resurrection. I know that my faith is growing:)

It was a good week! We had zone conference on Wednesday, and the theme was “what lack I yet?” from the general conference talk by Elder Larry R. Lawrence. It was such a good conference and I was able to think about the things I need to improve. I love that this gospel is one of continual progression– we’re trying to just do our best and become a little more like Christ every day:)

Seriously everyone should read this talk! –> https://www.lds.org/ensign/2015/11/saturday-morning-session/what-lack-i-yet?lang=eng

One night it was about 8pm and we had tried to visit some people, but no one was available. So we didn’t know what to do. (We have to be in at 9.) Then we both had the same name come to us at the same time! It was an active sister in the ward. So we went to go visit her, and as we were parking we noticed some people sitting in the car next to us. We felt like it might be too awkward to talk to them, but the same thought came to each of us: “Preach My Gospel says talk to everyone, dang it!” So we girded up our loins and started talking to them about the Hallelujah video, and they turned out to be super nice and interested in coming to church! We had a nice little lesson with them. Then we tried to go see the active sister, but she wasn’t even home. God definitely sent us to that area to talk to those people at that specific time:)

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We accidentally locked ourselves out of our apartment so we had to chill in the apartment complex’ office for a while until someone came with a key.

Sister Smithson and I are working on spending as little time in the car as possible. As Preach My Gospel says, “Nothing happens in missionary work until you find people to teach,” and we’re not going to find someone while we sit in the car. We’ve kind of gotten into the habit of driving to someone’s house, knocking on their door, and if they’re not home we just get back into the car and drive to try by someone else. Our goal is to drive to an area, knock on the person’s door, and then knock on their neighbors’ doors and talk to everyone we see on the street.

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Our snowman, Frosty!

Yesterday was amazing! First off, the topic in Cherrywood ward’s sacrament meeting was missionary work and specifically the new ward mission plan. The ward mission leader spoke about the plan, which includes things like serving others daily and looking for opportunities to share your testimony, and then a couple of youth who have had friends get baptized spoke, and then a ward missionary got up and called everyone to repentance. He’s a big man with a big voice, and as he was powerfully yelling over the pulpit, I’m pretty sure the walls were shaking. I know I wanted to be a better missionary because of his talk, so I’m hoping the ward members feel the same:)

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Sister Smithson’s dream is to have dreads. So we lived her dream. (I look like Emma Smith, but she can totally pull it off.)

The ward is also starting a 40-day fast for missionary work, meaning each family is going to fast for a day. It started yesterday, and guess what?? A young woman who nobody knew walked into sacrament meeting looking for a new church, and she stayed for two hours and said she wants to come back! It was so amazing! In Sunday School, we were reading some verses from the Book of Mormon, so I shared my scriptures with her. She stared at it as we read, and then she grabbed my book and started flipping through it. Sister Smithson pulled out a brand new Book of Mormon and gave it to her, and she kept looking through it and reading little bits of it during the rest of class. When class ended, she looked at us and demanded, “What is this book??” So we took her out into the hall and taught her about the Book of Mormon, and she thinks it’s great and is really excited to read it! It was so amazing to see the Spirit bearing witness to her that this book is the word of God. And the ward members were so great about coming and meeting her and making her feel at home. She is a really wonderful person, and I’m so excited to help her build her testimony of the gospel!

IMG_0459I am so grateful for my Savior and all that He’s done for me. I know that His church is on the earth today, with the same authority and same teachings He established. Hallelujah!

Love,
Sister Stratford

Hallelujah

Hey y’all,

Happy pi day!!!!:D

It was a great week! Sister Smithson’s sister is getting married, so had to send her a package. We asked a member how to press flowers and she looked it up for us. After much trial and error, we came up with some real good ones. We carefully packed them up, along with some other gifts, and it was the cutest package I’ve ever had the privilege of sending.

We’re teaching this woman who is having a lot of health problems, so this week we taught her about the Plan of Salvation and how it can help her find peace and strength. It was an amazing lesson, and at the end of it we asked her if she would be baptized and she said yes! I love teaching her because now she has a real purpose in having us over– she wants to be ready to be baptized:)

We sing at a nursing home with our zone each week, and every time there is this little old woman named Joy who says, “Do you know the first song I learned when I was a little girl? It’s called ‘Jesus Loves Me'” and proceeds to sing it for us. It’s not an LDS primary song, but lots of other Christian kids learn it at church. Since Sister Wick was a convert, she knew it and taught it to me. It goes like this:

Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
The Bible tells me so.

Basically, it’s super cute and primary kids should sing it. The week before, we told Joy we would sing it for her this week. I had time to teach it to Sister Smithson, but not anyone else in our zone, so we didn’t know how we were going to sing it. But then one of the ladies who works at the nursing home pulled it up on the internet, music and lyrics and everything. So we all sang along, and all the elderly people sang along, and it was fantastic. Joy loved it:D We should sing it every week!

We had a meeting on Friday with the other missionaries and it was great! We talked about the principles of gospel leadership and how it won’t end after our missions. As we learn to lead and teach here on our missions, we’re preparing for the rest of our lives.

So as missionaries we go to bed by 10:30, right? Well Saturday night at 10:30 the zone leaders texted us that we had to go to a 6:30am meeting the next morning. I think we threw the phone. We were already losing an hour with the time change, so we were not happy campers. To rebel, we didn’t change our alarm, so we woke up at 6am, threw on skirts and only got to the meeting one minute late.

Easter is coming up quick this year! There are some cute ideas on lds.org for keeping Christ at the center of it:

7 Family-Friendly Ways For Centering Easter on Christ

Yesterday, the church’s new Easter video came out! It’s called “Hallelujah” and it is BEAUTIFUL:

Go to followhim.mormon.org. The other videos and information on the website are really cool too:) We started sharing this video with people yesterday and it’s been really great! I love the Easter season because the whole world is just filled with praise to the Lord. He’s done more for us than we can even imagine. It makes me think of the lyrics to “I Stand All Amazed”:

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully He proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me He was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, He suffered, He bled and died.

Oh, it is wonderful that He should care for me enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me.

I can’t express the depth of my gratitude for my Savior. He lived for us and He died for us. And He lives again. Through Him, we can find peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come. Hallelujah!

Love,
Sister Stratford

Transfers

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Sister Smithson and I!

Hi everyone!

This week was crazy busy!!

On Tuesday, two of the sisters I was serving with finished their missions!! So we had to figure out how to get them to the mission home, and then one of them cracked her tooth so that just made things more complicated. Sister Wick and I ended up sending her companion off with some other sisters, and then we took her to the dentist.

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On exchanges, I got to go to a wildlife preserve and paint a gate!

She was bummed because all of the departing missionaries get to go to the temple on their last day, and she thought she was going to miss it. But her dental work finished pretty quickly, so we thought we could make it if we drove her straight to the temple. We told her we were going to an appointment and she could sleep in the car. She woke up as we were driving into the temple parking lot and screamed, “You lied to me!” and jumped out of the car and we sent her in. Then we just stood there a moment and soaked in the peace of the temple. No matter how crazy your day is, if you go to the temple and just stand there, even on the grounds, you can feel the Spirit. I know that the temple is the house of the Lord.

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Colorado is so beautiful!

Wednesdays were transfers! Sister Wick went to Parker to train a brand-spankin-new missionary, and I got Sister Smithson! She was my sister training leader the whole time I was in Strasburg, and she is AMAZING!! I’m so excited to serve with her:)

Last week I met this recent convert who is awesome and I love him so much! He’s had some rough times lately, but he said he is ready to come back to church and to start reading the Book of Mormon again. And on Sunday he came to church for the first time in a long time! The gospel really is the best way to heal, and I’m excited to help him with that process.

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We have a little recent convert girl, so for our Plan of Salvation lesson we had her and friends draw it out with chalk while we talked about it. So cute. 🙂

Since it was fast Sunday yesterday, I fasted for new investigators. And I later found out that Sister Smithson did too:) That afternoon while we were still fasting, we were trying some less-actives and no one was home. We were tired and hungry and not in the best mood, honestly. When we tried probably the fifth one and he wasn’t home, we saw a man down the street working in his yard. So we decided to go talk to him, and he let us share a message! And one of his best friends is LDS and they talk about the church all the time! We taught him about the Restoration and challenged him to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. He said he would, and he also said he’d talk to his friend about it, and we’re going back later this week! It was a cool experience because if we hadn’t gone to talk to him, I don’t think we would have found a new investigator that day. Then we might have felt like our fasting and prayer wasn’t working. It just strengthened my testimony that we have to pray for blessings, but then we have to do all that’s in our power to get them. That’s when we see miracles:)

Sister Smithson and I got some seeds and some little pots and we really wanted to plant a garden, but we didn’t have any dirt. We looked around our apartment complex, but we couldn’t find any. Then Sister Smithson looked over that little wall again and found a bucket of dirt! We’re pretty sure it wasn’t there before and is miracle dirt. So we planted our garden and it was awesome:)

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We drew the Plan of Salvation again in front of another member’s house.

Sharing the gospel is the best. I love it so much! I would invite all of you to pray for opportunities to share the gospel, look for those opportunities, and then have the courage to take them. I know that the Spirit will help you because this is the Lord’s work and He will always be with you when you’re doing your best to assist in the work of salvation.

I love you all!

Love,
Sister Stratford