The Work is Moving Forward

Hey y’all,

It was a very busy but exciting week here in Arvada! It started off great with interviews with President Mendenhall. He is so amazing and I know that the Lord called him here for a reason! And part of that reason is that Sister Mendenhall is wonderful and I love her so much and she’s just perfect:)

Sister Mendenhall told us some exciting news: Sister Johnson and I have been asked to participate in the Fort Collins temple open house!! We said yes, obviously:) We will be going up to Fort Collins to help out with introducing visitors to the temple and answering questions at the end of the tour:) I’m so excited!! We’ll probably be going up four or five different days to help out. We had a meeting with some of the other sisters in our mission who will be participating and got some special training on how to prepare. So we’ve been focusing a lot on the temple during our studies every morning, and it’s great because it helps us with the missionary work in our own area as well. We’ve been able to talk with the members a lot more about inviting people to the open house, and we ourselves have been inviting all the investigators and less-actives we’re working with. As I’m learning to explain the importance of the temple simply and clearly, my testimony of the beauty of its ordinances grows. The temple is really is a place where we can feel a bit of heaven is like:)

We had a cool experience this week. We were tracting, and not much was coming of it, but then we came to this woman who was working in her yard. We started talking to her, and when she found out we were missionaries she emphatically told us that she had lost her faith several years ago and wasn’t interested in what we had to share. We told her we understood, but we offered her help with her yard. She was so surprised that we wanted to help and didn’t even want to be paid for it. So she said we could come back the next day. So we went back (in jeans this time) and helped her with weeding for a good while. As we worked together, she just talked and talked. From little things she said, we knew that her faith wasn’t completely gone:) We were able to talk with her a little about God and even invited her to the temple open house! It was an amazing experience because we were able to show her that we really did care about her as we served her, and that’s when she opened up. We’re going back to finish working in the yard, and I’m excited to get to know her better and help her to little by little feel Heavenly Father’s love for her!

We’re still working with our investigator who really wants to be baptized! We’re planning for this Saturday. She’s so amazing and I’ve really seen a change in her from the time I met her a week and a half ago to now. It’s incredible. She’s been working really hard to keep the commandments, especially the Word of Wisdom, and there have been so many blessings. Heavenly Father loves her so much! She’s learning to recognize the Spirit, and it’s strengthened my testimony of doing the little things each day that help us stay close to the Spirit’s influence. She’s a wonderful example to me:) And it’s amazing how she can clearly see how Heavenly Father has been preparing her for her entire life to accept the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. God loves each of His children, and He really is preparing each of them for the gospel!

Baptism_KeyzahMaryannRemember the two sisters from the Micronesian island of Chuuk, the ones I taught in Aurora with Sister Mitchell? Well, they were both baptized on Saturday!! Sister Johnson and I had the opportunity to go, and it was so wonderful!! They were really happy and the Spirit was so strong:) I’ve been thinking about them a lot. Sister Mitchell and I met them because we saw the older sister sitting on the curb looking sad, and we stopped to talk to her. And now look at what has come because of that! The promptings we receive from the Spirit are for a reason. The Lord wants to work through us. We just have to be receptive and have the determination to act on those promptings. And miracles will happen:)

Have a wonderful week!
Love,
Sister Stratford

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Arvadan Adventures

DSCN0589[1]Hey everyone,

Arvada is beautiful! We’re right by the mountains, and rumor has it we’re going on a hike with the mission president’s wife for sisters’ p-day! I’m crossing my fingers:)

Sister Johnson is HILARIOUS. She’s from Texas and has been at BYU for the past couple years (go cougs!). She keeps me laughing all the time:D She swept into the Boulder area with her first trainer, so now she’s pretty much an expert at sweeping in and staying sane at the same time. We’ve been having a fun time meeting everyone and figuring out the area!

Some highlights from the week:

We’re living with members! My first time for that:) They’re an amazing family and they have a daughter on a mission, so they treat us like princesses. Like seriously, when we first went to their house on Wednesday and saw the basement we’re staying in, we were speechless. Floofy white full-size beds with tons of pillows, antique furniture, a huge bean bag. It’s beautiful.

Our first dinner was with a cute, young, recent convert family! They’re going to be sealed in the temple soon:) The dinner conversation was mainly about childbirth, but we still managed to transition into a dinner message. #success

We have an investigator who was meeting with the missionaries a few years ago, but it kinda stopped after a while, but the day before we came, she called the elders who were here and said she’s ready to change her life now and wants to be baptized! So yeah, sorry elders. But we’re happy we get to teach her:D She’s so awesome, and she came to church on Sunday and loved everything! (even though sacrament meeting was a hardcore law of chastity lesson!)

We do service at a food bank here, and so I was just minding my own business and sorting produce when this man came up to me, staring at my nametag, and said he’s a Stratford too! We had a nice conversation (“Do people leave out the second T all the time?” “Yeah, I get Stafford a lot” “Man me too seriously I thought I was the only one”). Also the food bank gave us free donuts!

We were going to see an investigator, and on the way we met a cute old lady and got to know her a bit. She’s about 4 feet tall. She says God blesses her through gambling. She also said we can come back and talk with her more:)

Quote of the week from a guy we met as he was smoking on his porch: “Like spirits know each other in the midst of hell.” We’re going to put it up on our wall.

We also got to do some yard work for another investigator! We were pulling up stray tree shoots in her lawn. She gave us a hammer to use.

DSCN0583[1]Also I broke free of the Colorado Denver North Mission boundaries muahaha. Basically, our church building is under construction, so our ward meets at a building in Golden, which is in the Denver South mission. (We got permission from President, don’t worry.) I feel like I can’t talk to the missionaries of the other wards meeting there because it would be fraternizing with the enemy or something.

So yes there have been lots of adventures already, and I’m sure there are many more to come!

One last thought: missions are interesting because there is SO much change all the time and you’re constantly moving around and meeting new people and doing things in new ways, but what I’ve really realized is that all of that change is necessary for growth. I’ve seen that growth in myself. And it’s not just a pattern on missions; it’s a pattern of life. The whole reason we chose to come here to earth was so we could learn and grow and become like our Heavenly Father someday. We knew it would be uncomfortable and hard sometimes, but we also trusted His promise that it would be worth it. So now that we’re here, we just have to keep trusting and keep stretching and keep becoming:) And I know that as we follow the example of our Savior and learn to use His Atonement, it will be worth it.

And we can have quite a bit of joy in the journey as well:)

Have a wonderful week!
Love,
Sister Stratford

Temples and Transfers

Hey everyone!

Lots of exciting things going on in Denver!!

First of all, I’m being transferred to Arvada! It’s by the mountains:) I’ll be in the Arvada 1st Ward, follow-up training Sister Johnson! She’s been out six weeks so far and is super awesome! It’ll be interesting because we’re sweeping in, which means neither of us will know what we’re doing, but it will be fun!:) I LOVE Aurora and am sad to be leaving the amazing people here, but I know that the Lord needs me in Arvada and I’m excited to go work hard and keep the gospel rolling forward!

In other news, our favorite Chuukese investigators are doing well! One of them has an adorable two-year-old girl, and after yesterday at church, she has the whole ward wrapped around her little finger:) Our mission president’s wife came to a lesson with them this week, and it was so fun! They are so excited to be baptized and are willing to do whatever the Lord requires:) It strengthens my faith see their testimonies and their strength!

fort-collins-mormon-temple

The other thing we’ve been excited about is the Fort Collins temple! The open house goes from August 19 to September 10, and the dedication is October 16. Before temples are dedicated, people (including non-members) can go take a tour inside and see the different rooms and learn about the purposes of the temple. It’s really amazing:) The Fort Collins temple is a beautiful building and will bless so many people’s lives as the House of the Lord! One of the people who has been integral in the construction was speaking to us at a missionary meeting last Friday, and there have been many miracles with building this temple:) Some of the sisters in our mission will have the opportunity to help with the open house, so I hope I get to go:) ┬áBut either way, I’m excited!!┬áReservations for the open house are available starting today:)

The temple is so wonderful because it really shows what the gospel is all about: eternal families:) We are meant to live with Heavenly Father and our families after this life, so everything that Jesus Christ has always taught is to strengthen our families and help us achieve that goal! I’m so grateful for the temple and all that it represents. When families are sealed together in a temple of the Lord, it’s not “to death do us part.” It’s for time and all eternity:) And as we receive that blessing in the temple and then live our lives worthy of that each day, we will be able to be with our families forever!

I think it’s important to remember these things because sometimes we get caught up in things that don’t really matter in the long run. When we keep our lives centered on Christ and His gospel, on the temple, then we’ll turn out alright:)

To learn more about the temple, you can go to lds.org/church/temples ­čÖé

I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week! Focus on the significant things in life by setting your sights on the temple:)

Love,
Sister Stratford:)

Happy Fourth!

P1020441[1]Hey everyone!

Happy Fourth of July!! I hope you all had a wonderful time:) It’s good to remember how the Lord has prepared this country as a place where the Restoration of Christ’s gospel could occur.

Since the Fourth was on preparation day, our zone went to Strasburg! We spent time at a members’ home (it was so good to see them again!!) having a bbq and playing water balloon volleyball and it was so fun!

Last week we had our MLC meeting, so we got to hear from President and Sister Mendenhall. They’re so awesome:) They talked a lot about the spiritual power that comes as we have faith in Christ and make the sacrifices we need to in order to more fully let Him in. It was really good! I’m always just so excited to go out and do missionary work after hearing them talk:)

P1020433[1]
Paint Twister with the Sisters
Laramie is still doing well! The day after her baptism, she was confirmed a member of the church and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. And she is continuing to learn and grow and share her sweet testimony with all those around her:) It is so beautiful to see how making sacred covenants with God, through ordinances like baptism and confirmation, brings such great joy! Our Heavenly Father wants us to come home someday, and those covenants are the way He has given us to get there.

A couple weeks ago I wrote about talking to a woman who was sitting on the curb looking really sad. Well, we’ve taught her several times now, and her sister too, and they came to church and to the ward bbq, and they both want to be baptized! As we were talking about it with them last night, they were so excited! And it’s wonderful because they speak Chuukese (of the Micronesian island Chuuk), and there’s a recent convert family who live two floors below them who also speak Chuukese! They get along great and it’s been a big support on both sides:) Heavenly Father┬áhas┬ádefinitely been making sure we’re all in the right places to help this happen! He is so perfectly aware of each one of us and is preparing the way that we can return to Him and find peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come:)

I’ve been trying to be better at ponderizing a scripture each week, and this week I’m working on Alma 27:18. It’s after Ammon and the other sons of Mosiah have been serving their missions among the Lamanites and have brought so many to the fold of God. So Ammon is already full of joy, and then he is reunited with his friend Alma, and that just overwhelms him so much that he is overcome and falls over. So the verse says: “Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness.”

P1020435[1]I thought that was interesting. To receive the most amount of joy that we can, we have to be truly penitent and humble seekers of happiness. What does that mean? I’m not done studying it yet, but I think it means we have to seek after the source of all happiness who is Jesus Christ. We have to be penitent, so we have to use His Atonement to overcome our mistakes and weaknesses, and we have to be humble, so we have to see the blessings we have through Him and recognize our dependence on Him. And we have to keep seeking. Of course life won’t be perfect, but we’ll find happiness and joy that goes deeper than this life. It will be an eternal kind of joy:) I want that. And I’m out here serving a mission because I want other people to have that too:)

I’m so grateful for Jesus Christ! He is my Savior, and He is your Savior. He has overcome the world and made it possible to have eternal joy. And we can build that joy day by day, little by little as we turn to Him and live His gospel.

I love you all! Have a fantastic week:)
Love,
Sister Stratford