The Mighty Aurora Ohana

Hey everyone,

It’s been a beautiful week here in Aurora! I absolutely love the people here. Everybody is really open to talking to us, which means we have a TON of investigators. Basically our job is to figure out who is actually interested! Haha and it is super sketch here (if you look up Montbello you will know what I mean). Luckily all of the resident drunks love missionaries. Also I’m becoming accustomed to the constant wail of sirens. If you don’t hear them, you know something’s wrong. Don’t worry, Sister Mitchell and I are keeping ourselves out of trouble:)

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The Aurora zone calls itself the Mighty Aurora Ohana. As you probably know, ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten. We’re committed to talking to everyone and helping them come to Christ!

By the way, Sister Mitchell is amazing! She has wonderful testimony and a beautiful heart, plus she’s super smart and went to MIT before her mission. Hopefully some math skills will rub off on me.

One of my favorite investigators is this cute old man who has been coming to church for a year and a half and still hasn’t been baptized. The missionaries picked him back up right before I came. We had a couple lessons with him last week, and it went really well! He has such strong faith in Christ, and the Spirit has been really strong as we’ve discussed how the gospel helps us find healing through His Atonement. One of my favorite things on my mission is seeing people discover hope through the Savior. It is a beautiful thing!

There’s this returning less-active who lives in a group home, and I think he’s going to baptize everyone in it. Last transfer, one of his friends there was baptized. Then when we were meeting with him on Saturday, he wanted a Book of Mormon to give to another of his friends there. The next day when we saw him at church, he had not only given the Book of Mormon to her, but had brought her to church as well! Then after church he asked us to come see her, so we went over and now we’re teaching her and she’s really interested in learning more! Haha Sister Mitchell and I think maybe we should just go teach classes at the group home every day:D

So this morning I was reading Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage, and I was reading in chapter 12 about Nicodemus. It was really interesting! I loved this paragraph:

“The narrative of this interview between Nicodemus and the Christ constitutes one of our most instructive and precious scriptures relating to the absolute necessity of unreserved compliance with the laws and ordinances of the gospel, as the means indispensable to salvation. Faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, through whom alone men may gain eternal life; the forsaking of sin by resolute turning away from the gross darkness of evil to the saving light of righteousness; the unqualified requirement of a new birth through baptism in water, and this of necessity by the mode of immersion, since otherwise the figure of a birth would be meaningless; and the completion of the new birth through baptism by the Spirit—The narrative of this interview between Nicodemus and the Christ constitutes one of our most instructive and precious scriptures relating to the absolute necessity of unreserved compliance with the laws and ordinances of the gospel, as the means indispensable to salvation. Faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, through whom alone men may gain eternal life; the forsaking of sin by resolute turning away from the gross darkness of evil to the saving light of righteousness; the unqualified requirement of a new birth through baptism in water, and this of necessity by the mode of immersion, since otherwise the figure of a birth would be meaningless; and the completion of the new birth through baptism by the Spirit—all these principles are taught herein in such simplicity and plainness as to make plausible no man’s excuse for ignorance. All these principles are taught herein in such simplicity and plainness as to make plausible no man’s excuse for ignorance.”

I love how Christ’s gospel is so clear: faith, repentance, baptism by immersion, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. As we do these things and endure to the end, we will be able to find peace and joy through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We will be able to learn from our mistakes and be a little better each day. And eventually we will be prepared to live in God’s presence. The gospel is so beautiful and so simple, and the best thing is that it works! Living the gospel has brought me so much joy, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share it:)

I love you all and hope you have a fantastic week!
Love,
Sister Stratford

TRANSFERS

P1020230Hey everyone,

I’m going to Highpoint ward in Aurora!!!! It’s my dream to go to Aurora!!!! So here’s what’s crazy:

Sister Harker trained Sister Kastner in Strasburg.

Then Sister Harker went to Highpoint ward (companions with Sister Smithson), and Sister Kastner trained me in Strasburg.

Then Sister Kastner went to Highpoint ward (companions with Sister Smithson), and I trained Sister Sherwood in Strasburg.

Then Sister Smithson left Highpoint and came to be companions with me here.

Now Sister Kastner is leaving Highpoint and I’m going there!

WHEW.

Haha so I’m excited! But it also is going to be sad to leave this area. These people are amazing and I love them so much!

I’ve definitely learned a lot here about working hard and never giving up. It’s been harder to find people to teach, so I’ve learned that I need to always be truly committed to the work, even when it’s tough, and Heavenly Father will bring miracles:)

P1020276I’ve also felt Heavenly Father’s love for the people so deeply here. I’ve had some of my greatest joys as I help people feel the Spirit, and I’ve had some of my deepest sorrows as I’ve seen people who don’t accept the gospel but who need it so much. It blows my mind because I love them so, so much, but I know that Heavenly Father cares even more for these people than I can even imagine. And He will keep taking care of them and reaching out to them:)

I’ve also come to know a lot of people who have experienced the Atonement of Jesus Christ in their lives. They still struggle, life is still hard, but they’re strong. Just like Nephi, they know in whom they have trusted.

And I’ve also learned that God answers prayers, even the ones about little things:)

IMG_0547Yet again, mission life has strengthened my testimony:D I’m so grateful for it! I know that Heavenly Father is there for us, I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and I know that Christ’s gospel is on the earth today. He is at the head of this church. Heavenly Father speaks to His children through personal revelation and through living prophets. And I can’t begin to list the blessings of living the gospel.

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary! I love it. I love the Lord, and I love His work:)

Love,
Sister Stratford

Spring is Here!!

Hey everyone,

It’s been beautiful and warm this week! And the sunshine has that certain feel to it that means summer is coming. I’m so excited:D (Since I’m saying this, it’s probably going to snow in 10 minutes.) Also since the weather here can never make up its mind, yesterday we had a little rainstorm with some real-live Colorado lightning. I’m hoping for more this week:D

P1020204This week, we mostly worked with less-active members. I love them:) There’s this one woman we’re teaching who is in her 90’s and hasn’t been active for most of her life. A year and a half ago, the sisters went by, found out she had never read the Book of Mormon before, and had her start right at the introduction. We’re still going:) It’s so wonderful to see her love of this book growing and growing each week. She LOVES it. She has her little red pencils she ordered from Deseret Book that she uses to mark her favorite verses. Each week, we ask her how the reading was, and each week she exclaims, “Oh I thought it was beautiful, just beautiful!” And guess what? Her reading assignment this week is Moroni 8-10, the very last part of the whole book!! She’s so excited to finish, but she’s even more excited to start it all over again:)

Sister Training Leaders Apr 2016
Sister Training Leaders

We also met with a family with several children who are in a Russian immersion program at school. It’s so cool to hear them speaking Russian to each other:) A while ago, Sister Wick and I had met a Russian gentleman who seemed interested in learning more, so we ordered a Russian Book of Mormon for him. Then Sister Smithson and I went to give it to him, and it turned out he already had one! So we asked this family if they wanted the Book of Mormon, and they did, so we went over yesterday and gave it to them and had a scripture study with them. They would read a verse in Russian and then in English, and it was awesome. They were soo excited and are planning to show it to their friends and teachers:)

We met with the less-active husband and investigator wife again! They have SO MANY QUESTIONS but it’s great that they’re not afraid to ask them:) They really want to understand and gain a testimony for themselves about the truth of the Book of Mormon, particularly the wife. She’s amazing and has such strong faith in God and the power of prayer, so I know that her answer will come:) Also at our last lesson she made us delicious brownies, so yeah we like her a lot.

This week we’ve been in Walgreens twice, and both times someone has come up to us and started talking to us about the church. Maybe we should just hang out in there.

Well I hope you all have had a wonderful week! If you haven’t watched all of conference yet, you should definitely check it out on lds.org!

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be here serving these people:) I love the Lord, and I love His work!

Love,
Sister Stratford:)

Small and Simple Things

Hey everyone!

This week was basically lots of meetings haha. On Tuesday we had a mission-wide sisters’ conference in the downtown Denver building. And it is really smack-dab downtown. First time I’ve seen a church building with a parking garage! It was pretty tiny, so they handed out quarters for parking:D

It was such a good conference! The theme was Doctrine and Covenants 64:33– “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” I love that scripture!

The small things really are so important. I’ve seen this principle a LOT on my mission. I’ll see someone on the street and talk to them, and it will lead to them taking the lessons and coming closer to Christ! I mean that doesn’t always happen, but maybe it’s just not their time yet. It’s still a small step that will lead to great things.

I loved how in general conference, President Monson taught us about small things!

“It’s been said that the door of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives.The choices we make determine our destiny.” That is such a crucial thing to understand.

Here’s his conference talk: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/04/media/session_4_talk_4/4829398050001?lang=eng

One of my goals is to work on the little things in my life that will bring me closer to Christ and build my ability to help others come closer to Christ.

I'm so good at volleyball
I’m so good at volleyball!

I’m so grateful for the restored gospel and continued revelation! I know that President Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God and that following him leads us to follow Christ.

I love you all! Have a great week!

Love,
Sister Stratford:)