Prairie Dogs

Letter received from Emily:

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Random Week

Hey everyone,

It was kind of a random week but a good one!

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Embracing Fall

We had a really good lesson with one of our investigators. She is really having trouble receiving answers to her prayers about if this is the right path for her, and she’s been getting kind of frustrated about it. So we went over and brought a member with us and taught the Plan of Salvation about how we’re Heavenly Father’s children and He wants to talk to us and then the member said something I loved. She talked about how she knelt down and asked Heavenly Father how He speaks to her personally. And from that, she was able to start learning how to receive answers:) I think all of us should do that at some point in our lives! It’s so crucial to our happiness here to be able to communicate with our Father in Heaven.

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Companionship inventory: drawing each other without looking at the board

A couple of weeks ago, a member asked us for a Book of Mormon to give to her friends who came to the temple open house. So we went by this week to follow up and she was talking about how she wants to share the gospel with them so much because she loves them and loves the gospel, but she never went on a mission and felt like she didn’t know what to do. But she told us that she was praying hard that she would recognize promptings from the Spirit and know how to act on them. We gave her some more ideas, but we told her that she’s already doing the most important thing! That really is the trick- follow the Spirit:)

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Me and Sister Johnson

We’ve been doing service for a 90-something-year-old couple. The wife is a member, husband is not. He has an impressive Avon perfume bottle collection. Like over a hundred probably. When we first met them, his wife exclaimed, “Oh we’ve been waiting for sisters for so long! We have a project that’s just not for elders.” So we are meticulously washing and arranging each unique piece. It’s actually pretty fun because they’re all sorts of different types- trains and cars and cowboy boots and such. We’re almost halfway through haha but it’s going to take a while!

On Tuesday night we met a family who was outside cleaning their car. Turns out they just moved from Jordan (the country, not Jordan Utah) and so now we’re giving them English lessons! They’re so great and the kids are just the cutest:) So that’s exciting!

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McDonald’s sundaes after Women’s Conference

General Women’s Conference on Saturday was so amazing! I loved President Utchdorf’s talk about faith. I loved the story he told about the missionaries who were tracting an apartment building trying to share the gospel. No one on the first floor was interested. But they kept going. No one on the second floor was interested. But they kept going. No one on the third floor was interested. But they kept going! And no one on the fourth and final floor was interested until the very last door. And the girl behind that door was President Utchdorf’s future wife:) It was amazing to hear that story because in my studies I’ve been focusing on the Christlike attribute of diligence. So I’m going to make sure I always go to the fourth floor, last door. We really need to keep going even when things are rough because that’s when we show our faith. That’s when Heavenly Father can truly bless us with increased strength and faith and hope!

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Sister’s fireside to talk about the temple open house (and the miracles!)

Hope you all have a wonderful week:)

Love,

Sister Stratford

 

Be a Shiblon

Hey everyone,

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Avengers Pop Tarts!

This week we had a car fast on Tuesday. Basically we couldn’t drive from 10:30am to 5pm, so it was good to walk around a little more than normal and talk to lots of people:) And we had a few miracles! For one thing we were able to teach a man from West Africa who we’d met before, but this time we had a French Book of Mormon for him and he loved it! (We were able to give him a French pamphlet about the Restoration yesterday too!) We also found a park that’s great for talking to lots of people:) Also it has great quotes on signs around the park. At one point of the day, we had been tracting an apartment complex but we felt like it wasn’t quite right. So we were praying and talking about what to do when the door next to us opened and out came a less-active member we hadn’t seen in a while! She was going out to walk her dog, but she was having a hard week and was so excited to see us and wanted a lesson so we were able to teach her about the Holy Ghost and it really helped her! So it was a good day:)

I’m running out of time but you should all go read Alma 38 in the Book of Mormon. It’s the prophet Alma’s advice to his son Shiblon. It’s really short but really powerful! I think of Shiblon as a guy who just did the right thing and didn’t want people really notice or give him credit for it but he did it anyway. I drew a picture of him.

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Shiblon

Have a great week!

Love,

Sister Stratford

Back to Normal?

Hey everyone,

Well, the temple open house is over! Our last days were Thursday and Friday, and the last day of the open house was Saturday. It was sad to leave.

dscn08811One nice experience was on Friday. I took a older couple’s picture, and they were both members and had just gone through the tour. Instead of just moving on, I felt like I should stop and talk to the wife who was resting on her walker. Her name was Helen. It was her first open house, and she was touched by the Spirit. We talked for a minute or two about nothing too exciting, just that the temple was beautiful and we were happy to have one here in Fort Collins.

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The members from Ft. Collins made a ton of amazing quilts that are displayed throughout the meetinghouse.

 

But before we parted ways, she took my hands and told me she was so glad to meet me and that I’d made her day! It was such a little thing to talk to her, but it really meant something to her. It just made me think about how we have countless little opportunities like that in our lives. And we have to take those opportunities if we want to be like Christ! I love the story of the woman with the issue of blood. She touched Christ’s clothes and was instantly healed because of her faith. Christ could have just kept going, but He stopped and showed her that He noticed her and cared about her. Because really, those little things are the big things in the end.

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At the temple with Pres. and Sister Mendenhall
When our shift was over, we were able to go through the temple one last time, and the mission president and wife came too so that was pretty awesome. It was in the afternoon, and the only other times we’ve gone through have been at night after the last tour. So this time we got to actually see the other people touring it with us, many of them non-members. Most of them looked pretty awe-struck. It was cool to see:)

 

Then we just tried to go back to normal missionary life! Saturday was pretty crazy though– we were arriving at an investigator’s apartment for a lesson when she texted us that she was on her way to the ER. So we went to go give another investigator and give her a little gift, but she was outside talking to a bunch of police officers so we didn’t stop. Then we went to visit a member and she started sobbing. All within an hour. So yeah, we’re definitely going to keep busy even without the open house:)

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The life of open house sisters (I’m laughing at them and eating flan)

Hope you all have a good week full of wonderful little things:)

 

Love,

Sister Stratford

 

 

A lady at the open house got cool self-defense stuff for all the sister missionaries. So now I have pepper spray and an awesome weapon thing to hit people with. Mine are pink and purple. Sister Johnson’s are ninja. (She got there first.)

My First Birthday

Dear everyone,

On September 2, 2015, I walked into the Missionary Training Center. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year. It’s been a wild ride but I’ve loved it so much and am beyond grateful I still have 6 months:)

Guess I’ll do a quick recap of areas/companions? I don’t know.

Left-to-right:
* MTC with Sister Choo
* Strasburg with Sister Kastner (and a baby donkey)
* Strasburg with Sister Sherwood

Thornton (left-to-right):
* Me and Sister Wick
* Me and Sister Smithson

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Sister Training Leaders and Sister Mendenhall

 

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My nine month mark (traditional burning of an item of clothing)

Left-to-right:

* Aurora with Sister Mitchell (“Fit to the Finish” 5K)
* Arvada with Sister Johnson

 

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Ft. Collins temple open house

And missionary life just gets better and better:) Seriously this has been the best decision of my life!

Here are some pictures of the Ft. Collins temple:

Anyway, I can’t decide if I’m a temple open house missionary or a proselyting missionary. Oh well. We were up in Fort Collins more than ever this past week and got to see lots of miracles:) On Wednesday (I think…the temple days are all blurring together) we met a woman coming into our video room. We said hi to her and she started a conversation. She’s a non-member from south of Denver, about two hours away from Fort Collins, and she heard about the open house and said she felt drawn to it. She’d had a reoccurring dream about being submerged in water and she had come to the temple open house looking for answers. Obviously we were excited! We showed the introductory video to her and the others in our room and they went off to the temple. After a while it was our turn to go to the reception area behind the temple, so we went over and lo and behold, there was our friend! We talked with her, and she had spent a lot of time in the temple. And she had gotten her answer:) She told us she knew this was right, so we and the other sisters got her information to have the missionaries in the Denver South mission visit her. They better take good care of her!!

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On the way up to the temple we stopped and bought a doughnut as big as my face.  It lasted us all the way through our 6-hour shift!

This week will finish it off. Our last days up there are Thursday and Friday, and the last day of the open house is Saturday. It’s going to be strange to not be going up there anymore! On Friday after the last tour, Sister Johnson and I went through the actual temple for probably the last time on our missions. It was pretty sad. Then we just sat outside and looked up at the temple all lit up and beautiful. It really is a beacon of God’s light, and it’s been amazing to see that in the people going through it. I love the temple so much!

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Halloween at the dollar store

It has been hard to balance the open house with normal missionary work lately. With it ending, Sister Johnson and I are really starting to think about goals for our area. We also just got a new ward mission leader on Sunday, so it’s basically a new start all around. We’re making lots of goals and plans for the things we need to be doing and how to work effectively with the ward. It’s actually really exciting and just reminds me that when one door closes, another opens:)

I just love missionary work!! There are lots of ups and downs and ins and outs and everything in between, but it’s all worth it:) I love the Lord and I love His work! And this IS His work. If I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that:)

Love

Sister Stratford

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!

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!

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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