Wait Where Did August Go? Like Really?

Hey everyone,

Not a long email today, but it was a great week!

Still working at the temple, still loving it, still lots of spiritual experiences happening there!

We introduced Debi (we just found out she spells it this way. awk.) to family history and she loves it! The family history coordinator in our ward is helping her find information about her birth family and they’ve found some cool things:) The Spirit of Elijah is REAL.

Had a neat lesson with an investigator. We’ve been trying and trying to get her to come to church. Finally for this lesson, we just focused on listening to her and understanding her needs. Then our member who was with us bore his testimony of how coming to church had helped him with those specific things. By the end she committed herself to come! (Then she got sick on Saturday night and couldn’t come to church, but at least it’s a step in the right direction!)

We also did some service helping an investigator clean out her garage. (It was actually really fun. Mom, Dad, when I get home I’m cleaning ours.) A couple of weeks before, we had invited her to the temple open house, and she seemed mildly interested. But this week as we were cleaning and talking with her, she said she showed the invitation to her friend and she really wanted to go, so now they’re going together!:)

We also got followed by a random lady, and it ended up in a high-speed car chase and a trip to the police station. But we’re safe and it’s a good story so we’re happy.

Well I hope all of you have a great week! Christ is our Savior, the gospel is true, and this is His work:)

Love,

Sister Stratford

P.S. From Emily’s mom:  She told us the whole story hinted at above, so here’s a little more in case you’re interested.  They were tailed aggressively by a woman with questionable motives for some time through residential streets and on the freeway.  They called their missionary leaders and 911 during that time.  She finally left when they drove to a police station.  Then they hopped back in their car and went to work at the temple open house.  We’re very thankful that they’re safe!  Always remember to pray for the missionaries!

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Fort Collins Temple Open House

Hey everyone!:)

Wow after I email I think I’m going to spend p-day sleeping. It’s been a whirlwind of a week!

First of all, transfers are this week! Sister Johnson and I are both staying here in Arvada:) I’m excited!

Debbie at the FC Temple
Debbie and her neighbor at the temple open house

We also got to work at the open house a couple days this week! Basically the sister missionaries are at the beginning of the tour and the end of the tour. So when people first come for the open house, they go to the church building across the street. There are several video rooms there where they come to see a short video about temples and why they’re important. There are sister missionaries in each of these rooms to go over some things, like no food and drink, no smoking, what’s going to happen in the tour, etc. The other place we’re stationed is the big reception tent behind the temple. So after people go through, they come here and we talk to them about their experience and answer questions. There are also some displays about Jesus Christ and temples and a place to take pictures. Our whole shift is six hours, but we have to be there an hour early, and it takes an hour to drive there, and we have to meet a half hour before that to carpool. So it’s an all-day thing!

Wednesday we worked our first shift! The official tours hadn’t started yet, so it was a VIP day. Which meant it was slower, but lots of mayors and state senators and ecclesiastical leaders of other faiths. Kinda intimidating, but we made it through and had some cool experiences! Each person had received a special invitation to come, and they were each very impressed with the temple and were glad they had accepted the invitation:) It was awesome because pretty much no one was a member of the church, so there were some good questions!

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Two very tired missionaries

While we were in the reception tent, I talked to a father and son who actually had just kind of walked in haha. They were in Colorado because the son was about to start school at DU to study architecture, and they saw that the open house was happening and thought it would be a great opportunity! They were both super impressed with how well the temple was built. It was great to talk with them about how important temples are to us and how they’re the house of the Lord so it’s the best we can give of everything!

We also worked on Friday, which was opening day for the general public! There were a ton of people and we were constantly getting groups to go through. Sister Johnson and I spent most of our time in one of the video rooms, so we pretty much have it memorized. My favorite part is a little clip of Elder Holland speaking, and he says something like, “I can’t think of the traditional, paradisaical idea of heaven without thinking of my wife and my children. It would not be heaven to me. Some may say that’s just because you love each other and you’ve gotten cozy here on earth and you like each other’s company. It’s a lot more than that. There’s something eternal about the statement, ‘Neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord.'” Every time that part of the video came, everyone’s eyes were just fastened on the screen and the Spirit was there:) That’s the whole focus of the temple. We are a part of God’s family, and He loves our families here too:) It’s meant to be eternal.

We did get to spend a little while in the reception area too. That’s my favorite place to be:) You just get to talk to so many people who are already feeling the Spirit from walking through the temple! A cool experience was when I saw a group of ladies come through, and I went over to talk to them and they immediately latched on to me and started asking tons of questions. Everything from the angel Moroni to “The Book of Mormon” musical to the role of women in the church. Haha and when they asked me, “So, what’s the difference between you guys and Catholicism?” I just taught them the Restoration:) They were really glad they had come and they were excited to fill out comment cards about what they thought and felt about the temple:)

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Our District

There were just so many amazing people who had come for lots of various reasons, but they all felt the Spirit in the temple:) The comments I got the most were, “It’s a beautiful building!” and “It’s so peaceful inside.” They knew it was a holy place:)

All in all it was a wonderful week at the temple and I’m excited to do it again!!:)

Love,

Sister Stratford

Click here to see pictures of the temple

 

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Hey everyone!

Whew this week was busy and I don’t even know what we were running around doing the whole time but it must have been important!

Debbie’s still doing great! Something she was talking about this week was how free she feels now. She said lots of people think that keeping commandments and living according to Christ’s gospel is restrictive, but really it helps us have true freedom. And that’s so true! Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know what choices us will help us reach our potential and which ones will keep us from reaching it. And that’s why we have commandments! It’s so cool to see Debbie realizing this:)

So you know how we were staying with a family in the ward who treated us like princesses? Well their daughter just got back from a mission and they have a bunch of family in town, so for about a week we’ve been living with a cute older couple in the ward. (We’re going back tomorrow) They have one princess bed and then we brought in one missionary bed. Unfortunately, the missionary bed turned out to be a box spring. And the little bed frame thing it goes on is tiny, so the box spring just balances precariously on it and wobbles when you move. Sister Johnson and I decided to switch off, but then she realized she wants to tell her family that I’m torturing her so she took it the whole week and pushed me off every time I tried to sleep on it. #CompUnity 😀

I found a new hero this week. It’s a woman in the ward, a mom with young kids, and she has cancer. She hasn’t made it to church in a while because of it. We were able to meet her and talk with her for a good while. And let me tell you, Sister Johnson and I walked out of there knowing that we had just learned way more from her than she had learned from us. Cancer is trying to take over her life, but she won’t let it. She’s one of the funniest and happiest people I’ve ever met! Her testimony is beautiful, but she didn’t share it in words so much as in the way she looks at life. She knows the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and she knows how to use it. I’m so glad I have the opportunity to learn from her!

Yesterday was very very long and spiritually exhausting but in the best way possible! First we spoke in church. I talked about how important it is to feed Christ’s sheep, and Sister Johnson talked about taking Christ’s name upon us and staying true to it. Then Cami, the daughter of the family we are normally staying with, gave her homecoming talk! We actually had to leave early because we had to drive to Broomfield, pick up some sisters there, and then drive to Fort Collins for a meeting about the temple open house.

Guess who I saw at the temple??? Sister Goldberg!!!! Man I love her 🙂 It was so good to get to see her!! She’s doing great and we’re both so excited to be a part of the open house!! (I was really really really hoping I’d get to see her! 🙂

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Me and Sister Johnson

The temple is beautiful. It was my first time seeing it. It’s very unique (the roof is blue!) but still distinguishable as the house of the Lord. We were a little early, so we got to go explore the grounds. It was amazing because it felt like temple grounds even though it’s not dedicated yet! Then we had our meeting in the church building across the street. There were maybe 30 or 40 sisters from the Fort Collins mission there and 20 of us from the Denver North mission. And Elder Andersen of the Seventy was there! He talked about how we need to have the light of Christ’s gospel in our countenances as we help at the open house. And he said we need to remember two things for that to happen. First, speak from the heart. Second, love brings the Spirit. Basically we need to sincerely help people feel our love for them and the Savior’s love for them.

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Me, Sister Goldberg, Sister Tolman (in our mission but she was in the same MTC district as Sister Goldberg), Sister Kaupert (Sister Goldberg’s companion)

Then Elder Andersen took us on a tour of the temple! And it was amazing! He took us through each of the rooms and taught us about the meaning. He even opened it up for questions and the Spirit was so strong as he was talking with us! I definitely spent a long time writing in my journal last night:)

I’ve been teaching and testifying about the temple for months now as I’ve been inviting people to the open house. I’ve talked about how the Spirit will be there. I’ve told people they will be able to feel God’s love for them there. And now I’ve finally been able to feel it as I walked through the temple myself. So much work has gone into the construction of this building, and now it’s almost ready to be dedicated as the house of the Lord. I’m so grateful for the opportunity so many people will have to walk through it and feel that Spirit before the dedication.

And the time is finally here!! The open house officially starts on Friday!

Debbie’s actually driving us to the Fort Collins temple today for a sneak peek open house for missionaries and people we’re teaching! And she’s bringing her neighbor, the same one she brought to church when she was confirmed! He’s seen how happy all of this is making her and wants to see for himself:) I’m so glad that both of them will be able to experience this!

So most likely this week will be super busy as well with the open house starting! But I am so excited!! I know that this is the Lord’s work and that it is moving forward!

Love,

Sister Stratford:)

Christ’s Light

DSCN0707[1]Hey everyone!

Nothing super huge this week, just everyday missionary fun:)

Tuesday we had exchanges, and I got to go up to Boulder which was Sister Johnson’s last area:) So I was able to meet a lot of people she worked with and it was really fun!

DSCN0669[1]Wednesday we went to the temple ❤ I love the temple so much! It is a sacred place where we can feel so close to our Father in Heaven. My testimony that we are all His beloved children is strengthened every time I attend the temple:)

Wednesday we were also able to meet a young couple who just had their first baby and want to raise him in a church. As we were talking with them, we could just see them all in white, being sealed for time and all eternity in the temple. That’s what Christ’s gospel is all about, really– building eternal families:)

We’re teaching this 15 year old kid who has been out of town this week, so he suggested we just call him and have lessons over the phone. We were happy to oblige! Phone lessons are interesting but it’s been good:) And he’s back now, so we’re glad. He wants to be baptized soon and we’re really trying to help him to be ready!

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Our thank you note for people who have us over for dinner
Saturday we helped with a really cool stake service project. Basically we teamed up with the red cross and the fire department and installed free smoke detectors in people’s homes. There were a lot of people who weren’t home, but we did meet one lady who was so grateful to have us help, and she accepted our offer to come back help in the neighborhood garden as well! So we’re going to get some other missionaries over too and it should be really great:) Plus we get free kale whenever we want! (cue grimace from Sister Johnson)

We’re starting to teach Debbie the new member lessons and she’s doing awesome:) She is so excited to be learning more and more. That’s something I really love about the gospel– we keep learning and growing no matter where we’re at.

DSCN0628[1]Speaking of which, I learned something in my personal study today that I wanted to share!

I’m going through the Book of Mormon again and am in Ether right now, and today I read chapter 6. It’s where the Jaredites are crossing the ocean to the promised land. In the chapters before it talks about how there was no way to have light inside their ships, and so the brother of Jared had asked the Lord to touch some stones so they would shine in the dark. And because of this man’s incredible faith, the Lord answered his prayer. And then in chapter 6 verses 2 and 3 it says:

“For it came to pass after the Lord had prepared the stones which the brother of Jared had carried up into the mount, the brother of Jared came down out of the mount, and he did put forth the stones into the vessels which were prepared, one in each end thereof; and behold, they did give light unto the vessels.

“And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness.”

That second verse really caught my attention, because I don’t think it only applies to glowing rocks. I started to think about other words I could substitute for “stones.” And there are a lot! The Holy Ghost, prophets, the scriptures. And the most important one, of course, is our Savior.

Jesus Christ was prepared from before the foundation of the world to shine in the darkness and give light to all of Heavenly Father’s children. We don’t have to live our lives in darkness or sorrow or fear. Our Savior overcame all of that through the Atonement. I am so grateful that I can have this light in my life and share it with those around me!

“Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

“Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

“Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth.” (2 Nephi 2:6-8)

DSCN0633[1]So share that light with someone around you this week:) It’s too wonderful to not share!

Love,
Sister Stratford

God Loves You :)

Hi everyone!

We had a beautiful week! It was pretty crazy actually haha. For one thing, we had to help our investigator get all ready for baptism on Saturday, and also she’s moving soon so we were helping her pack and clean a ton, and on top of all that we ran out of our allotted miles so we were basically walking everywhere in 90 degree weather!

So yes Debbie was baptized! She’s amazing!:) It was a whirlwind leading up to her baptism, let me tell you. It was kind of a weird situation because she’s moving, plus when we came into the area, she had two weeks to get ready for baptism and still had to be taught everything. And she had to overcome smoking! But she was so set on being baptized on the 30th, and she knew the Lord would help her. And He did. Honestly, it has been so humbling to see this miracle in her life. She is so changed from when I met her. There’s just this light about her now, and she is so much happier. She’s good friends with her neighbor, who likes to tell people what their auras look like, and he says hers is bright white now! (In fact, he said he might have to try this whole thing out, so Debbie brought him to church yesterday for her confirmation and it was awesome:D)

Another amazing thing was that the mission president interviewed her, and she felt the Spirit so strongly from it that she asked us if he could baptize her! We looked at her blankly and then kind of hemmed and hawed and said we would ask but he is a very busy man after all and we’ve never heard of him baptizing anybody. BUT we asked him and he said he would love to!! So President Mendenhall himself baptized her. He said in his two years as mission president, he’s only had one other opportunity to do this.

This morning in personal study, I was reading about Moses (both in the Bible and in the Pearl of Great Price). And it was really touching to see how God interacts with Moses.

3 And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am theLord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?

4 And, behold, thou art my son.

6 And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of Mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior.

How incredible would that be? Here Moses is,and we know that he already feels pretty overwhelmed and not sure what he’s supposed to be doing, and God speaks to him and tells that he is of divine origin. He is a son of God, in the similitude of the Savior. And he has a work to do.

The first thing we teach people when we meet them is that God is our loving Heavenly Father. He knows us and cares about us on a personal level, and He knows our divine potential as His children. I really love that. A lot of people today don’t have that knowledge. And many more know it but don’t really know it. And it is so important that we have that knowledge and truly believe it because that’s the only way we will reach our potential and the fullness of joy that our Father has in store for us.

I think Debbie is really the reason I’ve been thinking about all of this. Two and a half weeks ago, she didn’t know too much about the gospel but she believed that God loved her and wanted her to do His work. That is what motivated her to do everything she needed to do so she could be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. And because of that, she has been baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost and is becoming more and more Christlike every day. And she’s so excited to keep going:)

It makes me think about how I need to continue to have those changes in myself as well. Heavenly Father has done everything for me, most importantly sending His Only Begotten Son to make it possible for me to grow and change and become the person I want to be, the person He knows I can be. So I need to do everything I can to live up to my divine potential so I can live with my Heavenly Father and my family for time and all eternity:)

This opportunity to share this truth with those around me is the most amazing experience of my life. I know that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ shows us how to live in the way that will help us reach this potential and have these wonderful blessings. And the only way it works is when we learn to use the Atonement of our Savior.

I hope you all see Heavenly Father’s love for you! He knows you and loves you and believes in you:)

Love,

Sister Stratford