Monday, December 24, 2012

Day 89: "Rediscovering the Christmas spirit!"

Dearest friends and family,

Merry Christmas eve! Oh, today is the best day ever! There is no better time to be a missionary than during the Christmas season. As excited as I am to talk to you tomorrow, I am a little sad that it means that Christmas is over. I wish it was Christmas time every day! It's so much easier to talk to people and teach lessons. We ask people if we can share the story of Christ's birth with them and people are so much more willing to let us in. And then we always share a little more about the restoration and Joseph Smith and it leads to us teaching more lessons. The spirit of Christ and His birth is so beautiful and strong! 

We had a really good week. Sometimes I get a little discouraged because even for how many lessons we teach and new investigators we find, people aren't coming to church-which is just so important! We do everything we can but still people have their own agency to choose and so even after all we can do, they decide not to act. I've been learning to look forward, with brightness of hope. Truly, it's all I can do. Just be patient and trust in the timing of the Lord. When we first meet so many people, we come away from the first lesson filled with the spirit, SO excited to see them progress and change their lives. We see so much potential and feel so much love. The trick is keeping that vision for our investigators, even when they start slipping and not keeping commitments. We have to see everyone the way the Lord sees them-their true and magnificent potential-and we have to love them the way the Lord loves them. He loves everyone SO much. The more I understand that, and feel that for others, the more I see how much the Lord loves me, and trusts me and sees my grand potential. Sister Tippetts was explaining to me that the further out she gets on her mission, and the more she learns, the more she sees how much more there is to learn. The more our testimonies grow and our knowledge of the scriptures increase, the more room we see for improvement! 

Like in Ether 12:27 where it talks about how when we come closer to God, the more we recognize our weaknesses.
"27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them theiraweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make eweak things become strong unto them."

This week I went to Othello for exchanges! I was so excited because I've just been itching to get to Othello since I first got my call. It was so great because one of my SOAR students, Keave, happened to be one of the members going out to teach with us for the night. It felt so funny because I knew it was only this past summer that I was living in a far off land of Provo, helping out with SOAR. It feels like worlds ago. 

I also got to see the Boucks! It was precious. They were beyond thrilled to see me and I just felt so happy like they were an extra part of my family on my mission. It was a little confirmation to me that I am serving in my mission-Spokane Washington. It's my place to be and serve and love. I love it so much.

Today, we are doing a white elephant gift exchange with all the missionaries in Moses Lake (thanks to me of course! Sister Tippetts and I were trying to think of a fun way to spend our P-day Christmas eve and I thought of getting cheap dollar item things and doing a little exchange! We are super excited!). One thing I didn't expect from my mission was the friendships you make with all the missionaries serving around you. Especially for the elders in my district, we have so much fun together. I just always think of my little brothers going out to serve soon (and someday soon) and I love them so much. Moses Lake is probably the biggest area with the most missionaries (well on this side of the mission) and so it will be a great little fiesta. I can't wait to explain more when I talk to you tomorrow because there are so many details of missionary life that you never hear about. Being a missionary is the best thing ever.

I never thought I would feel this way, but I am so grateful I have two mission Christmases. I know that I have 812379 more wonderful Christmases with my family for the rest of my life but right now, right here in Moses Lake, I get to spread the joy of Christmas with those who really, really need it. I've never been so full of joy. We are visiting a single, less-active sister tomorrow who has no plans, no family, hardly ever any visitors, and we are going to bring her treats and the love of Christ. She was so surprised and touched when we showed up on her doorstep and asked her if we could come back on Christmas. Oh, I am just so excited to cheer her up! This is what Christmas is about. Like Elder Holland's message in the Ensign, "I can truly say that because of my mission, Christmas, like so many other aspects of the gospel, has meant more to me every year since that experience." I know I really am learning the importance of the message of Christ. So many people need the joy and peace of the gospel. 

I know this message is true! I love the Book of Mormon so much. Everyday I read it, I find new things and learn more about my Savior. I'm having the best time of my life as a missionary! 

Love you all!

Can't wait to talk to you!

Hermana Em

Em with the Grandparent Boucks!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Day 82: I glory in plainness, I glory in truth

Loves of mine,
Christmas is the best time ever to be a missionary! I keep telling Sister Tippetts that I wish everyday was Christmastime on our mission. And then she said that missionary work is also awesome in the Summer and then we talked about all times of the year so I imagine it's pretty much always great to be a missionary. Did you get my Christmas card? I didn't realize how early BYU let out so I hope Becky and Jacob got their cards before they left for home.
This week, Jonathan got baptized! He is such a sweet, cute kid. Afterwards he told us, "I just feel the Holy Spirit!" So great. He will be a wonderful missionary someday! We teach such amazing kids. So pure hearted and innocent. They recognize the truth and have sincere desires to follow Christ. We have been teaching a few families where the kids are more interested then the parents. It's tough because we really want the whole family to be converted together and we know that if only the kids accept the gospel, they will have the hardest time continuing to stay active and going to church their whole lives.
I went to East Wenatchee for exchanges this last week and this week I'm finally going to Othello! Home of the Boucks! I'm getting nervous that I may be transferred next transfer. I don't want to leave Moses Lake yet. I love the members. I love the people we teach. I know I will love wherever I serve but I just want so badly to have one more transfer here. We've just started teaching some really amazing families and I want to be here to see them progress. I know the mission work will move forward whether I'm here or not but oh man, I'd love, love, love to stay here!
Here's some pictures cause I'm for a loss of words today. So much happens in a week and I can't ever quite put it all into one email. I'm so glad I can talk with y'all and tell you so much more!
 I'm not sure what order the pictures are in but here's what's going on:
1. Some sisters in our ward own a little chocolate shop and we stopped in one day to help out. It was so fun. Kind of like my dream come true. Sister Roylance took a picture and texted one to you, did you ever recieve that, mom?

2. Walter (he is one of our recent converts) works on a farm with chickens, cleaning and feeding them and sometimes they have dud (sp?) eggs so he brought some home to show his daughters. Turns out they hatched! I was a little bit freaked out because I've never actually held a chick in my life (what kind of childhood did I have??) But it was just a tender moment in my mission. Life is full of so many joyful experiences. I could hold onto this memory forever just because I know that the life Ana and Walter had before their baptism was so different. There is a different feeling in their home. They are converted to Christ and you can feel His spirit in their home. Family and chicks and love. 
Nothing better! 

3. It snowed! Oh, it was majestic. I was eating it up. Sister Tippetts didn't love it so much because she had to drive through it, but it was just so beautiful and still. So pure and lovely. It feels like Christmas with the snow all around.

4.Jonathan and Genaro before his baptism. I was so proud of Genaro! He really has been changed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was so sweet to see him take his role as priesthood holder in his home. He worked hard to memorized the baptismal prayer and he did perfect! So precious and cute. I love their family so much. What a blessing to be a part of it all.

5. There is a terrible picture of me right before bed, after we finished our daily planning. But I have three tags now! I lost the one on my coat so I ordered a new one and they accidently ordered the wrong kind so they ordered another and so now I have three.

6. Behind the chapel where the Spanish branch meets is a little light show/nativity scene. You can drive by and tune in with your radio to watch the show. It's so cute. It's for the whole stake and they do it every year but this was the first year they had it where the Spanish branch meets. And it's in Spanish too. I just love these people are their little efforts to follow Christ.

I know there is more I want to tell you but I'm nearly out of time. Love you lots! I can email you next week before we skype on Tuesday, so yay!
Thanks for the letters. Love every bit of them. And don't worry. I print out the things you email me and read them later on.
Have a great week!
Hermana Em

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day 75: For my soul delighteth!

Queridos Chaparitos,
You can know when I'm up to date in my journal writing when I know how many days I've been on my mission. I don't count the days to be trunky but I just like to look through to see how far I've come and what I've learned. It's cool to look back on day 5 or 7 in the MTC when I felt like I was there forever! I've been in Moses Lake for nearly 2 months and I can hardly believe it. This is my home. I love it here so much. I love my wards and the people and the work. This is exactly where I'm supposed to be right now.
And I am having the best time of my life. Seriously. Sister Tippetts and I were best friends in heaven and then we decided to serve in the same wonderful mission together and we get to be best friends on earth again. It's so wonderful and fun and enjoyable to serve and work with her! She's like my Becky Jones on the mission. We aren't exactly the same but we balance each other well and we are both super funny. Even in the tough times and the sad stuff, it's nice to have Sister Tippetts by my side to lift me up and help me learn. I seriously love it so much. I don't want this transfer to ever end. Sister Tippetts was saying how we always seem to be with our favorite companions for the least amount of time and the hard companions for the longest so we have a feeling this companionship won't get to last too long. It's just too good to be true. But it will be such a wonderful Christmas.
Elder Ballard explained that missionaries need to have 20 quality, gospel conversations per day, outside of lessons being taught. When I first heard that I thought it would be easy because we talk to everyone all the time. But a quality conversation means that we are talking and teaching of Christ and extending invitations to people to learn more. Since we are in a car all the time, it's kind of hard to find people to talk to. Ideally, we want to talk to 140 people a week but for most of the missionaries here we've been excited if we talk to 30 or so. Sister Tippetts is awesome though because she really had the fire for QGCs and wanted to meet our goal of 140. And so we worked our tails off. The first three days we hit 20 each day but Thursday was a little tough because it's our planning day and we are inside until about 3 or 4 (yuck! I would rather spend all day tracting that sitting inside planning!) but our final total for the whole week was 104 people! And we had 11 new investigators and 28 lessons! I don't want you to think that we focus a lot on our numbers because really we try to focus on people, but it was an exciting week. We met a lot of our goals and even though there were tough times too, we just saw so many blessings from the Lord. It was an incredible week of miracles! And the miracles didn't just come from talking to all the people. I'm not sure if we really had any new investigators from the QGCs but somehow, because we were trying so hard, and showing diligence to the Lord, he blessed us in other ways. There is definitely power in QGCs and showing diligence and dedication to the work!
Jonathan is getting baptized this upcoming Saturday! So all the Avilas will be baptized before Christmas! I'm so excited for their family. And Jonathan's dad, Genaro will be performing the baptism and using his new Priesthood authority! All of the branch are recent converts of some degree and it's exciting to see them grow in the gospel. I really love the branch. The all work so hard and do all they know how to do to. Purest hearts, sweetest intentions. I want to come home and serve in Spanish branches forever.
The 6th Ward feels like home to me. I feel like I'm home every time we visit different families here. I feel like it's home with the bishop and our ward mission leader and with the primary president and elder's quorum president. I can't express all my love really. It's just so good to be serving here! We have the best ward council in the 6th ward. We started teaching a young, single mom, Brittney and she accepted a baptism date for Jan 5th! It's pretty exciting because the 6th ward hasn't had a convert baptism since April. The members are so good and they really want to help in missionary work, but it's so hard to find people to teach. It's easy in Spanish because people will let you into their humble homes no problem. Pasanse! They tell us. But English families, who do well and have nice families, don't really want to hear our message. But Brittney moved into the extra room of the home of one of our former investigators/less-active families and so it just all came together perfectly for us to teach her. She really wants to learn more and come unto Christ and feel His love in her life. She is so great. She came to our Christmas party and now the ward wants to do everything possible to help her reach her goal. It's really cool to be a part of a ward council that is so dispuesto a servir!
Well, there is always more to say, but not enough time.
I love being a missionary! I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know He is my Savior. He is the reason for the season. It's so joyous to be a missionary because we are always thinking of Christ and how we can be more like Him. There is nothing sweeter, truly.
Happy week!
Le quiero muchisimo!
Hermana Em

Monday, December 3, 2012

He is in the details of our lives

Dear Little Family,

Sister Tippetts are I going to see so many miracles this transfer! I'm already so happy and excited to work with her. 

I love both my wards so much. This past Friday, Sister Tippetts had a training all day in Spokane (she's the new traveling sister so get ready for more exchanges!) and so I stayed with a few members during the day to finish my studies. I went and had breakfast with the Williams-he is the EQ president-and then did my morning study while the little kids got ready and played. Their home is so cute! Being on my mission makes me so excited to be a mother. I see so many examples of how I want my future home to be. Full of love, and Christ and the gospel! Then I went over to the Richard's home. Sister Richards served a mission and I'm positive I want to be her when I grow up. She is crazy and fun and her house is FULL of color everywhere. I just saw a vision for my future life while I was in their home. She teaches her children so well and I was just thinking of how my mission will truly shape the rest of my life. I feel like everything I know about the gospel, the testimony I have and the love I cherish for the Scriptures and for Christ has really all come from my mission. It's only been 2 months but it's changed my life in so many ways. My mission means everything to me!

We've had a pretty bitter-sweet week. Highs and lows. Good, great, beautiful times. And also some pretty sad times. Genaro and Claudia were married on Friday and baptized on Saturday! It was so amazing and wonderful. I just have loved seeing their family grow in faith. It's a real tender mercy to be part of it all. I know that if they can stay faithful and if their son, Anthony can go on to serve a mission in 5 years, their family will continue to see so many blessings. The spirit of Christ is in their home now and they can feel and recognize the difference. It's during times like this, where I can witness families coming closer by coming unto Christ that missionary work is just to fulfilling and sweet. 

Also,  their next-door neighbors-Nancy and her kids are all getting baptized on Christmas day! It's going to be a beautiful, white Christmas! It's a miracle and we'll have to work SO hard to really help them make this day but I know that the Lord can do anything. Sister Tippetts and I are going to give it our all. It will be such a wonderful Christmas for their family! We made prayer rocks with their family last week to get them excited about saying prayers and they all loved it. It's so fun to teach families and we really are blessed to have this opportunity. As I understand from other areas, Moses Lake really is special. I'm so happy to be here and I just want to embrace each day cause who knows how long I get to spend here!]

Arturo, Virginia's husband hasn't chosen a baptismal date yet and so he's not progressing or moving towards anything. He reads his scriptures everyday (well he listens to the Book of Mormon because he can't read) and he is praying and going to church, but we've been in the same boat with him for a month. So we are giving him a breather. He wants to be baptized but he is waiting to feel right-to feel like he just HAS to be baptized. So we told him to call us when he is ready. We will still teach Virginia the new member lessons and we will see him at church but it's pretty sad to let him go. But we have to help the people that are progressing and spend our time finding those ready to change their lives!

Brenda and Fernando were getting ready to be baptized on January 12th but yesterday when we passed by to pick them up for church, Brenda said she didn't want to go and that they didn't want to have any more lessons with us. It was so heart-breaking. Oh man, I'm still pretty sad about it. It's hard to not let things like this get you discouraged-because I know how much the gospel of Jesus Christ will bless their lives! If only, they knew what I knew! But we have to keep moving forward-it just means there are people out there-waiting and ready to accept our message.

But then-last night we had an appointment with Maria who is a referral we received from the Elders. We had tried this lady before but she was NEVER home so we had almost given up on her. Then we went earlier this week and she said Sunday would work for her. We stopped by last night and we had a quick lesson on her doorstep. Her husband was sleeping so we just stayed outside in the cold. We taught about the restoration and our purpose as missionaries. We asked her if she would be baptized if she prayed and found out what we taught her was true. She said yes! Then we asked her if she would prepare for January 5th and she said, YES! It was unreal. She just liked everything we were teaching and saying. After a hard day yesterday, it was such a nice tender mercy!

It's been pretty crazy and awesome taking over the area this last week. I'm constantly surprised by how well I know the city. I'm positive I don't even know Provo or McKinney this well. I'm certain it's a little gift from God. It was so helpful that Sister Hicks was traveling sister last transfer because I really had to learn the area quickly. I'm trying to help our Sister Tippetts with her new calling and I think she wants to me show the newest missionary around this week for exchanges! It's always nice for me to have to step up and take more responsibility. I feel like that's when I have to push myself and I really learn more about the language and the work. 

One of our members in the branch, Lorena Sandoval is like our 3rd companion. She is so wonderful and will call us when she can come out with us. We try to have members at so many of our lessons so it's always a blessing when someone volunteers their time! She joined the church 3 years ago and her testimony is so strong! She came on a miracle church tour with us this week and it was incredible! The Munoz family live out in the farm country which is the boundaries for our 6th ward and usually it's all English speakers out there so it's pretty neat that we found them too! Sister Hicks met them a while back and she was dying for us to get out there and teach them but the only time we made it out was the VERY LAST day of the transfer. It was SUPER foggy (it's foggy here all the time) and it was freaking me out to be driving out in the country where it's pitch-black and 4 pm. I told Sister Hicks that I wasn't feeling good about going out there and she was getting worried too. "Are you nervous because of the fog or you have a bad feeling about trying the Munoz family??" I couldn't decide! But we went out there anyway. Agostine answered the door half asleep but he was still so kind and friendly to us. We set up an appointment for this past Tuesday and it was amazing! They have a good faith in Christ. I could just envision Agostine being the next branch president! We set up the church tour that Lorena came on and it was the best church tour I've had on my mission. The spirit testified of truth and I think it really clicked for them. They asked so many good questions and we just bore simple testimonies of Christ. It was pretty powerful. They said they would start reading the Book of Mormon and praying to know if it's true. We have an appointment tonight with his wife, Maricela and so cross your fingers it all works out. I'd give everything I had to see them join the church and rejoice in the fullness of the gospel!

Lorena also came to the wedding on Friday night and afterwards we waited around for Claudia and Genaro's baptismal interviews. While we waited, she asked us if we knew how to conduct music. She told us it was one of her great desires to lead the music someday. How tender, right??! Sister Tippetts taught her how and it was so precious as they counted out loud and practiced different songs. It was the sweetest moment of my mission. The hispanic people have such good hearts. I love Lorena so much and her desire to follow Christ and keep moving forward in the gospel. She is preparing to enter the temple soon and I'm so happy for her. The church continues to move forward! I'm so blessed to be a part of it all.

Well, that was a lot, huh?

Always so much to say and share! I know that Christ lives and he is our Savior! Invite Him into your home this Christmas! 


Hermana Em

Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 62-"oh sweet the joy this sentence gives, I know that my Redeemer lives"

Oh happy day! 

It's the start of a new transfer and I'm super happy to stay in Moses Lake. It is the BEST place to be for missionary work. I love it. I LOVE IT! I have a new companion! Well, not yet. She will come on Tuesday but I found out last night who she will be. Hermana Tippetts! She was also trained by Sister Hicks so she will probably do missionary work similarly. I'm sad Hermana Hicks left yesterday but I'm actually pretty excited too. It means that I'm taking over the area because Hermana Tippetts has never worked here so she doesn't know anybody! It was reeeeaaaallly  great that Hermana Hicks was traveling sister because all the exchanges prepared me to feel ready to take over the area now. When I first got here I never thought I would know so much about everyone or even WHERE TO GO. Does anyone know me? I'm terrible with directions! But somehow I can manuever my way around Moses without a problem. It's definitely the Lord working through me. I had a feeling from the very start that Hermana Tippetts would be my 2nd trainer. She was training one of the sisters that came out of the MTC with me but she was in a trio so it just made sense to bring her over to me. But I think more than making sense, it's what the Lord wants and knows Moses Lake needs to help the work progress. Ahh! So fun!

I love change and newness and beginnings and so I'm super excited to work with her and get to know her better. And I also love the responsibility of looking over my Moses and taking care of all my sheep here. I love the people. People make the mission. They are everything. Yesterday I gave a talk in 6th ward and as I sat on the stand and looked over the congregation, I just felt so much love. I don't even know many of the people in 6th ward very well but I LOVE THEM. I feel a divine love for them and I am so happy to serve in their part of the vineyard. Being a missionary is such an amazing privilege. This was the week where I decided I'm going to LOVE my mission-which may sound silly to you but this first transfer was rough. There are some really hard days where I just don't love being a missionary. I received a letter this week that really changed everything for me. It came on the day I needed it most and it was everything I needed. It put things into perspective and I realized it's really no sacrifice to be a missionary. Especially here in Washington-I live a more luxurious life than at college for sure. I mean I buy all brand name food! :) But this one year and half of my life is everything. The Lord sees my great potential and it's going to be a rough go to get there but I have this amazing time to learn and grow in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm really learning to apply the Atonement daily. It's so important! But this last week-especially since it was Hermana Hick's last week-we did our everything to work hard and give it to the Lord. We saw miracles and reached nearly all our goals! It was incredible.

And next week we are having a baptism! Claudia and Genaro are getting married on thursday and baptized on Saturday. I'm super glad Hermana Tippetts will get to see this baptism and witness just how miraculous and wonderful Moses Lake is-but more importantly how wonderful the people are. So Hermana Hicks left yesterday at 2 pm so I had one of the YSA sisters come and step-in as my companion for the night. It was super fun. She is headed out to serve in Romania in February so she was soaking everything up. She has gone out and taught lessons with us before but this was the first time it was just me and her. I had a glimpse into trainer-life [yikes! tough stuff. hopefully not anytime soon!] But it was cool for me to see that I can do it! I can step up and take the lead in our spanish discussions and I can listen to promptings of the spirit and to apply the scriptures and doctrine of Christ to people's lives! And I can love the people I serve. I can be a missionary! I am a missionary. I still get surprised some mornings because I'm actually still pretty much the same. My testimony has grown, my love of the scriptures has exploded and my desire to be more like Christ increases everyday-but I'm still me. Little ol' emily who sometimes can't decide what to wear in the morning because I love clothes too much. And little emily who reads the scriptures and finds inspiration for new art projects! But the truth is-I'm actually not emily for now. Not for the next 16 months. I'm Hermana Judd. I'm a representative of Jesus Christ and it is a sweet, sweet privilege. Bearing testimony is my favorite! More than anything I want to help others feel God's love for them and help them recognize their amazing, divine worth. The worth of souls is GREAT in the sight of God. And I'm witness to that everyday!

I sometimes don't know what I should say in my letters. Do you want to hear more about my investigators? Should I tell more missionary experiences? I mostly just tell my feelings cause that is so me. Ya know? Digame, mama. 

For now I'll leave you with some photos from the last few weeks.

So I am not sure what order they will come in but here goes:

1. This is Jonathan. He is Claudia and Genaro's son and he was going to get baptized this weekend with them too but he told us last night that he wants to keep reading the Book of Mormon and really pray to know it's true. He is such a solid 9 year old! He always tells us how much he loves church and how good it makes him feel. It makes me so happy that he really wants to have a testimony and be baptized because he knows it's true! The primary in the branch gave all the kids missionary name tags with their last name. He's Elder Avila. It touches my heart to think of him serving a mission! Oh, I love this family so much!

2. This is outside the temple with Hna Donaldson and Hna Sanchez from Warden. Also, Sister Mathyer is a sister in the 6th ward who always drives us around and takes us to the temple. She is the best!

3. The sun doesn't shine very often in the winter but it did on our temple day! I thrive on sunshine. It is so great anytime we see it!

4. This is my district. We set our cameras on the sidewalk so we could all be in the picture. Tallest to shortest of course. Ahh, so great. I forgot that working with Elders is such a big part of my mission-but turns out it's awesome. These Elders are so great! 

5. This is Elder Bell. He was my Zone Leader before he left for home today! He is so great! It was so fun to work with him. And he's like literally 3 feet taller than me. SO funny! He is the tallest in the mission and I'm the shortest. We had to get a picture, of course!

6. Hermana Hicks and yo. I don't know if we had ever even taken just a single picture together so there!

7. This is a boy named Cody in Jacob's freshman ward. It was super random that we were at the stake center and that he was there too but he came out and was like, "are you sister judd??" so had to take a picture to show Jake and remind him that he should write me! Or send me your address so I can write you!!!!

8. & 9. We ate Thanksgiving dinner with the Bowens in 6th ward. It might honestly have been the best thanksgiving meal I've ever had. Such good broccoli salad and sweet potato souflee! Afterwards we watched profiles with the family and shared a scripture with. Definitely a good thanksgiving!

10. This is Virgina and Arturo in their living room. Oh, I love them. Gollee, we are praying for a miracle with Arturo. I don't know when he will be baptized but I pray it's soon.

Welp, that's all for now I think. 

I love being a missionary! I can't believe it's been two months. Time stands still just as often as it flies by. Had I stayed in the MTC for 9 weeks I would be coming out in the field today! Man, I'm so glad that I was here in Washington instead. I have learned SO much about the gospel and about Spanish just from working with the people here.

Here's to the start of an awesome transfer 2!

Love you all!

Hermana Em

Sunday, November 25, 2012

quick letter: oh may my soul commune with thee

Hey family!

This will be a quick letter. We just got back from the Temple and we only have about an hour and a half to get everything for the whole P-day done! The temple was great. I'm at the public library today so I don't think I can send any pictures but I will send some next week! I don't even have organized thoughts this week so I'm sorry if this letter is a total bust!

Our last exchange we traded with the Othello sisters! I stayed in Moses Lake and Sister Collins came here but we drove through Othello to pick her up so I wanted to give Brother Bouck a shout-out from his little home town. I thought Moses Lake was a pretty small town, but there is nothing in Othello! Granted, it was night time when we went and I couldn't see much anyway but it was pretty precious. Sister Collins was super awesome. I am hoping she can come to Moses Lake next transfer and be my 2nd trainer! People say you can never guess at how transfers will go because it always ends up being different than what you expect. The worst would be if I leave my Moses Lake. But asi es la vida. I'll go where the Lord wants me to go.

This is Sister Hick's last week so we are going to make sure she goes out with a bang! We are praying and fasting for a miracle. Arturo hasn't set a date for baptism (his wife Virginia got baptized Nov. 3) but we really think he will do it this Saturday. He is ready, SO ready! I asked him to pray last night for a baptismal date and I really, really pray that the Lord will answer his prayers with a quick response! More than anything, the blessings that come from baptism will be so wonderful for his whole family! Claudia and Genaro are going to get their wedding license tomorrow and if all goes well we'll have ANOTHER wedding/baptism day. CRAZY! Sister Hicks said she only had one wedding on her mission before this and I'm already on number 2! Moses Lake is the promised land! So much great work happens here! I really hope I can spend my Christmas here.

Patrick, our hopeful from last week, came on the Church tour and really liked it. We have another appointment with him tomorrow and I'm so excited. I know it will change his life! 

A few weeks ago I told you about Nancy. We met her outside her house and shared the book of mormon with her. We've been meeting with her every week since then. It's been hard because her husband doesn't want to listen but then on Friday we sat down and watched the Restoration DVD with them and he stayed and watched it! He even commented at the end. The spirit was working on him! And then they came to our Branch Thanksgiving dinner that night. Oh, it was precious. A smorgasborg of food that doesn't really belong at thanksgiving. Oh, I love these hispanic people. It's so tough because most of the people we teach are in the spanish branch, and I love spending my time there, but the 6th ward is FULL of amazing members and I love them too. I really want to get to know more people in that ward so I'm setting a goal for next transfer to get in as many homes as possible! It will be perfect since Christmas is coming up and we will have the best excuse to visit people in their home.

Speaking! It's a new campaign to get people excited about the holidays! Check it out and share with your friends!

We were having trouble with a less-active family in the 6th ward and we went over to their house this week and showed them a few videos. It invited a spirit that we hadn't been able to feel there. It was so great! At the end their 12 year old son said the prayer and asked that his family would be able to attend church. It truly was a miracle!

Well, that's all I can think of for now.

Love you all lots. Thanks for the letters and love! And keep the mission calls coming! I'm so happy and excited for everyone! 

Hermana Em

Monday, November 12, 2012

Day 48: 'i will give away all my sins to know thee'

Dearest family and friends,

I never know how much or how little to say to y'all. So much happens in just the span of 24 hours that by the time a new week has come, I can never seem to summarize it all.
Last Monday , after I wrote my email to y'all we went home to see that our family had returned! We've been living in this beautiful home all by ourselves because the Andersons have been in Samoa and Tonga. They finally came home and it's been the best! They are a very sweet and tender elderly couple. They are just so precious and so kind and loving! Everytime we come home sister Anderson has a little something special for us. It feels like we are living with our adopted grandmother. Friday was Hermana Hicks' birthday and they surprised us with the best brunch ever! It was probably the best meal I've eaten on my mission so far. It reminded me of the scene in Little Princess, after they stay up in the attic and dream about a big feast and the next morning the Indian man surprises them with lush furnishings and wonderful food. It was just like that! They set the table with beautiful decor and had glasses of apple juice with frozen raspberries at the top. It was all very Nancy Judd :) They had squash soup, marinated chicken, corn on the cob, salad and homemade pineapple upside down cake. Brother Anderson used to be a baker so he knows a thing or two about sweets. It was SO good-I just kept thinking of you, Mom, because I know how much you love pineapple upside down cake. Oh man, I love the Andersons. They are so cute to each other. I want to be just like them when I get older!

On Wednesday, we had new missionary training in Spokane. It is always so great to be with President and Sister Mullen. I love them so much. They just always say the best, most uplifting and inspiring things. I feel so blessed to have him watching over us missionaries. We talked a lot about love and having charity in our companionships. It was funny because on Tuesday, I woke up feeling bleh. Everything was just rubbing me the wrong way. I was frustrated with Hermana Hicks and I was frustrated with myself for being so hard hearted. But sometimes you just can't let go of the anger in your heart. But I knew we needed to talk about it, so we talked it out and had a real heart to heart about how we were feeling and how we can work on communicating better. I just felt so relieved after talking to her. We made peace (I had already shown her how we make peace in our family) and then we both felt so much more happy. It was probably the best day of my mission so far! We had so much love and unity in our companionship and nothing could get us down. We taught with a powerful spirit and we met a lot of people and set up a lot of appointments and it just was so great. It felt so wonderful to be a missionary! I was so glad that we had talked it through and forgiven each other. It's so important to strive to have the spirit with us all the time. We are only effective when we work with the Holy Ghost and allow the spirit of Christ to testify!

We had another Zone Training on friday and talked about using the Book of Mormon in every lesson. We have really been trying to read more with our investigators so they can see how important it is. The Book of Mormon is the word of God! We just want people to read it and feel His love and come closer to Christ. It's so true!

We had another exchange! I will be super bummed when I get a new companion in two weeks and I probably won't be the traveling sister companion anymore. Exchanges are probably my favorite things each week. It's so nice to have a new companion and a different view on missionary work. This week, Hermana Linn came down to Moses Lake with me and Hermana Hicks went up to Quincy. Hermana Linn served in Moses Lake for 5 months and so she knew the area and people really well. It was cool for her to see the people again and to see how far everyone has come. She was the first missionary to knock on Ana and Walter's door but they always avoided her. It was so beautiful to have her see how happy Ana and Walter are now! It's a testament to persistence! Even if someone isn't ready now, they could be ready in a few months and for different missionaries! The gospel will always change lives. They are baptized and married and well on their way to the temple! Ana is just glowing. She has never felt so great in her whole life. There is a temple trip this saturday to do baptisms and they are SO excited to go. We gave them a copy of the temple edition of the ensign and they just love it so much. I can't wait for them to experience the peace and beauty for themselves!

So Hermana Linn is so great! She is probably the most happy, positive person I know. She has such a refreshing take on her mission. She goes home in two weeks too and she is so happy and excited! She has loved every minute of her mission, loved all her companions, loved all the hard times and now she is ready to face the future! I want to have that attitude everyday on my mission too. I know in my emails I probably seem like I'm always sunshine and lollipops over here but I've felt pretty low too. I get discouraged and worried about the work-am I doing enough? am I being loving enough? do i put my whole heart into serving others? Talking with Hermana Linn was so great. It just gave me a new resignation and desire to give it all to the Lord. I want to leave my mission with no regrets. I chose to be out here, I chose to be a servant of the Lord and I will do everything, EVERYTHING to use His time wisely! I am happy to be a missionary! It is so sweet to share this gospel with others.

We met a guy last night named Patrick and he's had it rough. He has been through a lot, but he just talked to us with a quiet dignity. He wants change in his life and I just felt so happy to share with him the power of Christ and His Atonement. The Atonement is so powerful, so incredible and so wonderful. As I study more about Christ each day, I am always humbled and grateful for His sacrifice. Patrick is supposed to come on a church tour with us tonight and I want to badly for him to come! Oh, it would bless his life so much!

Wanna hear something pretty funny? We have been teaching a new young couple this last week and they are so prepared! Brenda is the wife and she always reads and has questions for us. It's so awesome! Well their cousins have been joining in on the lessons too and one of the cousins is named....Melvin?!?! hahaha. It was so funny to meet him. He actually reminds me of the other Melvin I know. He's got great faith and a sincere desire to do what's right. 

We met another family this last week, Grace and her four kids. They are all grown up ranging in ages 14 to 18. They are awesome! We were headed to an appointment with Ana and Walter and we saw them getting in their car and heard them speaking spanish so we ran over and handed them a card. We asked where they lived and the daughter pointed to her apartment. So we decided to stop by and they were just awesome! They let us in and stopped everything to let us share a scripture and thought with them. They all listened sincerely and had good questions. They speak English and Spanish so depending on what ward they want to go to they may or may not be our investigators. I hope they stick with Spanish because they would be such a solid family to have in the branch!

A lot of our spanish members live in trailer parks and live from month to month. I'm actually so surprised how EVERYONE here lives pretty unstable lives. This is a farming community so people either work in the fields doing the harvest, or they work for the factories surrounding the city. People always seem to work 12 hour shifts so their days consist of working and sleeping and that's it! Even our english members have tough, long-hour jobs. Nobody here works an office job or anything commercial. It's pretty humbling to see how hard every family works to make ends meet. Of course our English ward also consists of all the farmers who actually own the farms everyone works on so there is a lot more stability in the 6th ward, but there is just a great work ethic here. These are good ol' people who know how to work with their hands. I love serving out here because it really is so different from anything I grew up with. I feel like I have such a blessed life to have parents with an education and that I'm working to get my education too.

People call Moses Lake "Moses Hole" because nobody ever seems to leave. I am pretty sure everyone is related one way or another. Both our english and spanish wards are just one big happy family. We have like 6 Roylance families and 3 of the Roylance brothers married 3 Bergeson sisters and they are cousins to the Bakers and on and on. And then in the Spanish branch we have President Guzman who is brother to Andre Guzman and they are cousin to Clif Perez who is related to Brother Cruz and on and on. People settle here and stay forever. It's pretty cool, actually.

Oh man, well I know I probably have more I want to say but I never have enough time or clear thoughts to put it. Thanks for the letters and love! Keep the mission calls coming! I love to hear where people are going [and that they decided to serve!] Being a missionary is so, SO great. It's changing my life everyday. I love serving the Lord and helping His lost, wandering sheep!

Hermana Em

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 41: surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful

(Sorry for the delay in posting her letters. It's not like some of us are in graduate school with 2 jobs or anything like that.) 

Querida Familia,

This week was so amazing. It might have been my very favorite week of my mission so far!

On Tuesday we had Zone Conference which is like Spiritual Thanksgiving. Oh, my soul was nourished and fed and it was WONDERFUL! The best, most uplifting, and inspiring messages.  My heart was just so full and happy to be a missionary! President Mullen put together this slide show about the Book of Mormon that has changed my life. My mission has really strengthened my testimony about the Book of Mormon. It is proof that God loves us! He went through the hard evidence of why the Book of Mormon is true (which is cool but we would rather the spirit testify of truth rather than hard facts) and it was pretty awesome. The book is filled with allegory and references to the bible. It just could not be hand written-especially in the time that it was made. Then he went through a slide show of pictures depicting Book of Mormon scenes and he talked about how it relates to modern times. It talks about families struggling, and growing, missionaries not sure if they are doing the right things, serving others. And then he showed a slide of Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah and he said, the Book of Mormon speaks about less active members who make amazing comebacks in the church through the faith and diligent prayers of those around them. It really hit me so hard. I just wanted to sing it from the hills, "The Book of Mormon is the word of God!" I had a hard time consistently reading the Book of Mormon before my mission, but I will never ever let a day pass again where I don't read and study from it. Hand in hand with the bible, it is filled with advice and love from God. It helps us become closer to Jesus Christ. It is so amazing! 

Then right after Zone Conference we had another exchange (we will do them every week since Sister Hick's is the traveling sister). This time I went up to Leavenworth which also might be heaven on Earth. I loved it SO much. It is a tourist town up in the mountains and the whole place is a Bavarian Village so everything is in the Olde English Theme. It was like little Duloc from Shrek. I felt like I was on missionary vacation. It was such a different scenery from Moses Lake and since I was visiting a new place, I had no responsibility but just to help with the work and talk to as many people as possible. And I was in the cutest, most quaint and beautiful place ever. Oh, I hope I can have a transfer up there someday. Look it up and see pictures, it is so great!

I came back to Moses Lake just in time for Halloween, which was a little crazy. It feels so funny to be a missionary sometimes, because normal life things seem so odd. Doesn't everyone on the planet just want to share the happiness of the gospel with everyone?? But being with all the families here gets me so excited for my future family. The gospel is everything to me. I just want to a raise a family in righteousness and love, centered on Jesus Christ!

Then this weekend was a WHIRLWIND because we had a wedding AND a baptism on Saturday! Ana and Walter got their license on Tuesday and we thought they would get married and wait a week to be baptized but then on Thursday they decided they just wanted to do it all. Which was exciting but actually really crazy. I loved it but I will never do anything like this again. The baptism was so great. Oh, I just love these people so much. We called everyone we knew to make sure they came and it was so great to see all the love and support from the branch. Most of the members are converts themselves, and their testimonies are so strong. I just admire their willingness to serve and love everyone. We were working on patience this week as a companionship and even though we just about lost our minds a few times, there was still an overwhelming peace that Heavenly Father loves us. He is always watching over us and helping us out. Just when we were on our last straw, he'd pour down a simple blessing. It is so sweet to be a missionary and to be a witness to His grand, amazing love for us.

I love you all so much! Thank you for your prayers and support! Being a missionary is the best thing I've ever done. 


Hermana Em

p.s. here is the link to the video we watched at our zone conference. so great!

oh, here are pictures from the baptism:

the first is Virginia and Arturo. Arturo is still working towards baptism. Despite the glum looks on their faces, they really are happy to be there!
the next two are ana and walter and their girls. this was right after their wedding and right before the baptism. perhaps our biggest mistake was scheduling them so close together!
the last one is from a day of tracting and we stumbled upon texas street so you know i had to have a picture taken

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 34: How has is only been ONE month??

Hola amigos! I feel like I've been here forever but I also feel like time flies by.

I should probably tell you all about my wonderful investigators. I came to Moses Lake at just the perfect time! We have 8 people on date for baptism! Isn't that awesome!? First is Ana and Walter. Ana is from McAllen! I knew it even before she told me. She just seemed like she was from the valley. I was super excited to talk to her about it and tell her about my grandparents. She speaks perfect english but Walter doesn't so we teach in Spanish for them. They are the IDEAL investigators. They really wanted a change in their lives and want to be converted to the gospel of Christ. They always pray and read to find things out for themselves. They have incredible faith and strong testimonies. Walter is so kind and thoughtful and he really wants this to be a permanent and wonderful change in his life. They were supposed to get married last week but they couldn't get a wedding license because Walter doesn't have the right ID. So we are praying that they can figure it out and get their license this week and if they do they will get married this Saturday and possibly even baptized that day too! It is super exciting. They will always be faithful members.

Then Virginia and Arturo. They are an older, married couple. Virginia is rock solid. She has a great testimony and understanding about everything. She is so committed and ready to make this step and she is getting baptized this Saturday too! Arturo is planning on getting baptized too but he still seems a little hesitant. We have talked to him about prayer and faith and we are hoping that he can commit to this step. 

Claudia, Jonathan and Genaro are awesome. So Claudia is the mom and Genaro is the dad. They have four kids. Anthony is 13 and he was baptized two weeks ago! He is preparing to receive the priesthood pretty soon. We are super excited for him. Jonathan is 9 and yesterday he had a little part in the primary program singing the song, "I will go, I will do!" It was so cute. I loved it so much. Claudia and Genaro aren't married and that is what is holding them back from getting baptized. We are working to help them move towards that step but Claudia has so much faith and hope. She is so good-hearted. Love them so much!

We have really good luck with Spanish speaking investigators. We only have one investigator for our English ward and we are going to work and pray really hard to find someone this week. I know there is a family waiting to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and have it change their lives!

So yesterday was the Primary Program in our Spanish branch and it was SO precious. All the boys had matching red ties and the girls had matching red flowers. They looked so cute. Most of the leaders in the branch are converts so they didn't grow up in primary so I think they worked SO hard to learn the songs together and put on the cutest little program. I love my Spanish branch! A lot of returned missionaries who speak Spanish get called to be in this branch to work and build it up. I love all the little efforts of everyone here. 

After church we went to visit a family that we had met the previous Sunday. Only the mom was there and she was locked out. We talked for a few minutes and then she said, "ok, I have a question for you...What is the Book of Mormon?" It was a spiritual goldmine for a missionary! I opened up the Book of Mormon and talked to her about how it's a record of Jesus Christ visiting the people of America. Like the bible, it contains the words of God revealed to His prophets. We shared our favorite scriptures and explained how reading this book brought us closer to God and increased our faith. She was excited and said, "I am going to read it!" Then I asked her if she prayed to know it was true, and if she received an answer, would she be baptized? Part of the training of the new missionaries is that I take the lead in a lot of the lessons and all the invites. It can be a little daunting, but you just feel the spirit so strong that I have to ask her! We don't like to beat around the bush as missionaries. We are called to be servants to bring others unto Christ. This is His work and His glory and we try to take it seriously! She didn't initially accept but she wants us to keep coming. She wants her family to have a good influence of Christ in their lives. I am so excited! Our next appointment is tomorrow!

Well, my companion is the traveling sister so that means she coordinates the exchanges between the sisters in our area. Which is awesome and scary because we do exchanges nearly every week. Which means one of us switches spots with a different sister in a different companionship. For this first one, I stayed in Moses Lake and Hermana Hicks went to Warden. I was SO nervous because now I was in charge of the area and our investigators! But thankfully, Hermana Hicks switched with Hermana Sanchez, who was the last sister here before me. So she knew the area and all our investigators. Not to mention, her spanish is perfect. So the day went great and it was cool to see missionary work with a new companion. Lots to learn from everyone around me! We are doing another exchange tomorrow and I'm going to Leavenworth! I'm excited!

Sister Hicks is the best! We are super similar and it's really great because she always understands what I'm going through. She will encourage me and tell me of how things went for her. She's so funny too. Seriously, we are always laughing and joking. It makes hard days easier. When we have door after door shut on us, and it seems like nobody wants to hear about Christ or listen to us, it can be pretty rough. A lot harder than I thought actually. I'm surprised how hard this mission has already been. Being on this side of the fence of missionary work is just so different than I ever imagined. My perspective is so unique. I could never have imagined the things I would feel and learn as a missionary. You think you know and then you get out here and it's crazy. Crazy good and crazy bad. But I love it. I'm learning to enjoy each moment and love the people I serve.

I've still got quite a few more mountains to climb before I come home.

Well, that's all I can think of now.

Keep sending letters! I love them so much. Everyone always knows just what to say. I love you all! At the end of the day, I love being a missionary and serving the Lord. His tender mercies are endless!


Hermana Judd

P.S. Here is Sister Judd's address for the next 2-3 months if you'd like to drop her a line!

Hermana Emily Michele Judd
562 Young Rd. NE
Moses Lake, WA 98837

P.P.S. I don't mean to brag, oh wait... I always mean to brag, but she sent me my own little personal email about sisterly things and it made my day! I love that short little girl so much and I'm so glad we get to hear about her adventures each week! If you have any suggestions of some uplifting music to send her, please send them my way!