Aloha

P1020425[1]Hi everyone!

This week was awesome! The highlight of course was that Laramie was baptized!!

Yay!!! It was such a wonderful experience for everyone involved!

Let me tell you, though, I have never had Satan try so hard to stop someone from being baptized! Basically in the 24 hours before she was baptized, all hell broke loose and Sister Mitchell and I had quite a time getting everything pulled together. First the time of the baptism had to be changed, and then the entire location (for a while we were wondering if we’d have to find a river or something), and then no one had keys to find the baptismal clothes, then our ward mission leader was out of town, then the baptismal interview almost didn’t happen, then Laramie couldn’t find the church, and basically it was a huge mess haha.

BUT then the baptism was *beautiful* and Laramie was just glowing so it was all good:) When she came out of that water, the Spirit filled me up and I completely forgot all the stress it had taken to get to that moment.

Moral of the story: trust the Lord. Even if you have no idea what’s going to happen or how, He has a plan. Just keep praying and doing all you can to do His will, and He’ll make sure it works out:)

And we even managed to have refreshments! (Who cares if there are no programs, right?)

I hope all of you have a wonderful week! Trust the Lord, and remember to focus on the things that really matter:)

Love,
Sister Stratford:)

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Happy Father’s Day!!

Hey everyone

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!! I’m so grateful for my dad:) He’s the best and I would not be the person I am today without his wonderful example and love:)

Today was kind of a crazy week but it was so good!

We have an investigator who has a sister who is a member of the church, so she’s been looking into it and coming to church and she loves the Spirit and everything in the gospel so much that she’s planning on getting baptized this Saturday!! She is the sweetest little woman ever. She’s from Hawaii and moved here a few months ago to be closer to her daughter and grandbabies. She really wants to bring up her grandbabies in the church:) So yeah we are working with her a lot lately and I love her so much!!

We’re teaching a less-active woman from Africa who is soo nice and she had us over for dinner last week for some delicious African food. Yesss.

We have another investigator who used to be high all the time, but now when we teach her, she just cries the whole time about how good she feels when we come over and bears her testimony of the Restoration! And last time, her brother and husband were making fun of our lesson and she threw them out so we could teach in peace!

Our younger, single, Asian ward clerk invited us over for dinner and asked us to bring some Chinese Book of Mormons since he was having “a few friends” over. When we got to his house, he was still out picking up the food, but there were already some people inside. One of the guys was like, “Are you here for the party?” And we were like “…party?” And then over the next little while, people kept showing up and they were all students from China studying at Denver University. So pretty soon it was just this raging Asian party. We were seriously the only white people there. But it was really cool because they were all asking us questions about being missionaries and about the church, so we got to talk about the gospel a lot! And then finally the ward clerk came with the food (Chinese of course) and it was delicious, and then we went around and taught a few of the people we’d met about the Book of Mormon and gave them copies and got their information so the missionaries in their areas can teach them:) haha it was the best finding opportunity ever!

Last week, we were walking around this apartment complex back to our car to go to dinner. Then we saw this woman sitting on the curb who just looked so incredibly sad. We looked at each other because we were already going to be late to dinner, but we both felt super impressed to talk to her, so we did. We just prayed with her and talked a little bit about how much Heavenly Father loves us and about how we can find strength through prayer. I think it helped her. She gave us her address so we could talk with her more. Then yesterday we were able to see her again! She said she has really been praying a lot more, and she looked a lot happier. We talked with her about the Restoration of Christ’s gospel and how it helps us come to know God’s plan for us. She’s excited to read from the Book of Mormon and to keep meeting with us! I’m so glad we stopped to talk to her last week. The gospel brings so much peace and I just want everyone to feel it!

I hope you all have a wonderful week! And find someone to share that peace of Christ with:)

Love,
Sister Stratford

Tidbits and Pictures

P1020378[1]Hi Everyone!

I got to see **Elder Worley at Zone Conference!!!!!  (And I managed not to hug him!) Haha he’s in Aurora too, but he’s in the Aurora South stake so we’re in different zones. But we were at the same zone conference! It was so fun to see him:) he’s in a trio with Elder Hulka (I know the name makes him sound like a Tongan but really he’s a skinny white guy with glasses) and Elder Call. I served in the same district as Elder Call in Thornton when he was a little baby first being trained, and Elder Hulka is pretty much one of the best missionaries ever and was an A.P. for most of my mission. Elder Worley is in good hands and it seems like he’s doing really well!

I went on exchanges in Strasburg!!!!!

Wow it is seriously storming outside right now. The rain is just pounding down harder and harder by the minute….Actually maybe it’s hailing.

P1020415[1]Sister Mitchell and I text out an inspirational quote to our sisters (we have three companionships) every day, and on Mondays we like to do Disney quotes but I’ve forgotten them all except the songs! Can you pretty please email me some inspirational quotes from our favorite magical multi-million-dollar corporation?

Wow there is crazy intense thunder going on right now. Super loud, even being in the library. Haha and it was sunny this morning. Oh Colorado.

I’m having so much fun here and meeting so many amazing people:) Missions are the best!

Have a wonderful week!!!

P1020375[1]Love,

Sister Stratford:)

P.S. Okay I think it stopped raining. Good. I left my jacket in the car anyway.

**Elder Worley is a friend from Emily’s stake back home, who is in her mission for a month or so waiting for his Visa to Scotland/Ireland.

The Great Refining

IMG_0677[1]Hi everyone!

This week I passed my halfway point! Nine months out and nine to go. 9-month ceremony: burn a piece of clothing. I didn’t actually want to burn any of my clothes, but luckily I found a shirt that some previous missionary had left in our apartment. It had a fluffy decal thing on the front that burned quite nicely.

Honestly I can’t believe that it’s already been this long. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been a missionary forever, but most of the time I feel like I just walked out of the MTC. I have so much more to learn!

IMG_0681[1]I’m going to try to get some of my thoughts together about it all. Since I burned a shirt to celebrate, I was thinking about fire haha and I started thinking about the refiner’s fire. In Malachi 3:2-3 it says: “He is like a refiner’s fire… And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” The Bible Dictionary provides further insight: “Refiner: A man who separates the precious metals from the dross with which in nature they are usually found mixed. Part of the process consists in the application of great heat, in order to bring the mass into a fluid state, hence the term “refiner’s fire.” Christ is the great Refiner.” So I was thinking about it and realized that my mission has been a refiner’s process for me. I mean, yes I have been able to help others and will continue to do so, but I think I’m changing just as much as the people around me.

On my mission, my lifestyle is pretty much the definition of “in the world but not of the world.” I am completely focused on helping people come to Christ. That is my calling. No movies, no TV, no internet (besides weekly emails) and no books besides the scriptures. I don’t go to parties or on vacation. I go out every morning and talk to people and serve and teach all day and come home at night and sleep and then do it again the next day. No pay, no worldly rewards. But the blessings are incredible. As have been doing my best to consecrate my time and energy to the Lord, I’ve seen that those little things I’ve given up have become less important to me. I’m starting to see that the things that really matter are the things that last longer than this life– my faith, my relationship with my Savior, my family. I’m being refined.

IMG_0680[1]So then I started thinking that I don’t want to stop being refined after my mission, and then I realized that the reason I’m being refined is not just because of those things I’ve given up but because I’ve turned to Jesus Christ. And I don’t have to stop doing that after my mission:) Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is a lifelong pursuit, and that means a lifetime of growth.

So it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are or what you’ve done. If you center your life on the Savior of the world, the great Refiner, He will help you fill your life with the things that matter instead of the things that don’t. It will take change because none of us are perfect, and it will not be easy, but it will be worth it. I know that His way is always worth it.

And I love the last part of that verse in Malachi. It explains why Christ refines us: “that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” When we allow ourselves to be refined by focusing on Christ and using His Atonement to become more like Him, we truly are able to become instruments in His hands to help those around us and to do His work.

IMG_0672[1]I love my Savior and I love His work. I’m so grateful for the opportunity each one of us has to follow Him:)

I love you all! Have a wonderful week!

Love,
Sister Stratford