Monday, December 30, 2013

yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.

Hey loves,

Was it not just a beautiful week? I love Christmas. I love it with my whole heart. And boy, do I love being a missionary. Sister LeDoux went home today. And it's been a bit triste for all of us. But it's also been re-energizing for me. Her companion, Sister Gifford, is with us in a trio 'til the end of the transfer and so we're covering the Manito ward and the Spanish work. And we are buuuusy. And I love it. I love being busy and working and teaching and testifying. 

On Tuesday, we had lots of miracles and lots of appointments. We went to visit Mayra, a referral from one of the English members here. She was super nice but not very interested. As we were walking out of the lesson we ran into this guy, Isaac. He's like in his late 20's early 30's and he was super intrigued that we really believed in the whole Joseph Smith idea. And we told him that we help people come closer to Christ and he decided to sit down to hear us out. So we taught the Restoration and testified of Joseph Smith and as we shared the First Vision, it was just so still and sweet. He felt the spirit. It softened his heart and he just wanted more. Wanted to read the Book of Mormon and come to church and do it all. It was a tender mercy I needed. Of course we had to give him away as a referral, but the work of the Lord is the work of the Lord.

I've been feeling so happy lately. I mean, I feel happy pretty much all the time, but I feel endowed with power. I feel like things are finally clicking for me in my studies and in my teaching and finding. In terms of numbers, this is the least "successful" I've been on my mission, but in terms of spiritual strength, I feel like I'm constantly winning. My prayers are meaningful and I love talking to people. I've just determined to be the happiest, most hard-working missionary there ever was. Nothing will get me down. And so I'm rolling with the punches, going with the flow, singing 24/7. I read Alma 37 and 38 today and I could not get enough. The Book of Mormon is just the best. 

I love my Heavenly Father and I really love my Savior. And I love the Holy Ghost. I'm as happy as a clam. No reason not to be. 

I can't think of what else to tell you about this week. Here's some pictures:
I haven't sent very many pictures of Sister Walton and I so this is a little Christmas gallery for you to enjoy ;)

Editor's Note: We think she is the cutest little sister missionary there ever was!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

and he shall redeem all mankind who believe on his name

Hey all you people (*editor's note: for those not familiar, this is a reference to a SpongeBob cartoon--family inside joke),

I just love being a missionary at Christmas. It is just so happy, and SO fun! We have appointments lined up all day Christmas eve and Christmas visiting different less-actives and members and I'm pretty much as excited as it gets. 

And I think I've confirmed my decision to never bring Santa back into the Christmas picture. When it's Christ centered it's filled with love for the Savior and love for family and serving. That's where the Christmas joy comes from. 

I don't have too much time to write right now and I'm not positive when I'll get back on to finish my email but I'll just give you the run-down.

So on Monday we stopped by and visited Adriana randomly and her husband and all her kids were there and we watched the Restoration DVD and invited them to say family prayers every night and it was so sweet. They are the cutest little family and they remind me a lot of Genaro and Claudia from my Moses Lake. Then we had an appointment the next day and it was EVEN better. We sang hymns and read scriptures and watched a mormon message about families and it was like a little testimony to Adriana that these things will unite her family. So happy! But then our next appointment got snowed out and the roads were too bad to drive in so we'll have to wait 'til after Christmas to go back because they are visiting family all week. But I have a good feeling about them. I just love them so.

Juan and Ramon, our miracle church-going boys, came to the English classes this week and love the Book of Mormon and came to church again yesterday. We had a lesson after church and asked them how their reading was going and Ramon says, "Well, I felt the so peaceful as I was reading. That tells me it is true." And we were all smiling and "yaying"! And then Juan says, " I had an experience similar to that too! I just felt a tingle all the way up my arm as I was reading." So we were super excited. Ramon lost his mom in March and he hasn't been to church since but he has so much faith. He is so good-hearted. I know that is why the Lord is helping him recognize truth. We talked a little bit about the Plan of Salvation and he just loves it. They are both 21. I love YSA but I like REAALLY love Spanish-speaking YSA!

We have been praying as a Zone for each companionship individually on a specific day, and it's been filling my heart with so much love for everyone.

It was a really un-focused week for me. Sister Ledoux is going home on Sunday and Christmas and everything just has been putting me in a funk. I got a sweet little letter from Sister Rowe and it has helped me a ton. She made this little bracelet that  says. "Come home in pieces." in morse code? It's been pushing me to work as hard as I can. Somedays I feel like my mission is never going to end (in a good way, I want to stay as long as I can) and then other days I feel like I'm being swallowed up with how fast it is going. 

Anyway, Christmas party is starting soon. Hopefully I'll get back on later.

Love you!
Hermana Em

Monday, December 16, 2013

and doing these things, they did abound in the grace of God.

Howdy loves,

It was such a great week in the Washington Spokane mission. I love this place so, so, so much. I'm absolutely convinced these Washingtonians are the greatest people on the planet. The week before last week it was like beyond freezing. Like 5 degrees every day but this last week it was in the 40's so it was toasty and nice :)

We had interviews with President and Sister Mullen on Tuesday. It was so great. I had a heart to heart with Sister Mullen about the little (and big) things I'm working on right now in my missionary work. I'm trying to be more humble and have less pride. But boy, I've got a lot of pride and I know at least a little has been chiseled off in the last 15 months, but I sure do got a ways to go. She told me just to "act" like the way I want to be. She says, "Maybe you don't feel like being kind but just act kind and God will supply the feeling". She is so right. I can't change my heart, but God can. 

We've been accounting every night to our District leaders about how many people we've talked to and if we are being exactly obedient and things like that and it's been super motivating. I sometimes feel like I'm in a slump that I just can't get out of but I've been really trying more to focus on the work, focus on the people and make every opportunity a good one. I feel like my forte right now is working with our members. We've earned a lot of trust here in this area and I feel the prayers of the members.

There is a young couple that moved here for Dental school from BYU-I that we just love because they are so missionary minded and we went to their house on Monday and then afterwards we asked if they would come upstairs to carol their neighbor who speaks Spanish. They were so on-board and super excited. Members make all the difference! Maria, from Argentina, is now like our BFF :)

We had a grand miracle this week. On Friday, the Manito sisters (whom we live with) gave us a referral for Juan Miguel. He is like early 20s from El Salvador and he's studying here at a community college in Spokane. We called him Saturday evening , and because of our accountings each night, we invited him to come to church on Sunday. And he came! And brought a friend, Ramon! And stayed ALL 3 hours! And they took the bus! And they lives in OUR area. It was the craziest, most awesome thing. Church attendance is probably the hardest thing for our investigators. People always make up excuses to not come but Juan AND Ramon came! We had never even met them or anything. We sat by them during church and everyone came up to introduce themselves and ask us how teaching was going and we just looked at them like, "nope, never taught them. never met them. they just SHOWED up!" needless to say, we will be meeting with them this week. SO great! TONS of potential. miracles for Christmas!

Also, yesterday morning we were calling different people to invite them to church and we called Isabel, who we met this week and we left her a voicemail and I said (in Spanish), "Hola Isabel, we just were calling to invite you to church today. It starts at1 pm at the Indiana building in Spokane. We ask thee, Father...uhh I mean, we ask thee to come. See ya. Bye" I hung up and we died laughing. Believe it or not, she didn't come. you know you are a missionary when...

Here's some pictures:

so, the other day we taught the Bautistas and Sister McCombie came with us (and because she is a saint) she brought the little girl she babysits everyday (yes, she has 6 of her OWN kids!) and the little girl, Leann has this little reindeer and I said, "I HAD that reindeer TOO when I was growing up!" and I had to take a picture 'cause it was just a little bit of home.

Porche's baptism! 

one of her and President McCombie.

more pics: our little christmas tree! aren't the ornaments so cute? a member gave them to us and then another member gave us lights and a star so it's actually a little more decked out and already we've received a few packages to put under there :)

elder wilson is one of the senior missionaries in our spanish branch. he's a hoot. he came to our coordination meeting the other week and brought his shoe shining supplies. love it!

it really was 5 degrees! this is also us listening to the lower lights cd for the umpth time. love it!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.

Hey sweets,
I love being a missionary. Love it with my whole heart.
Things are already looking up. We had more lessons last week then we had TOTAL in our time on the South Hill. But we needed our South Hill transfer. I have a firm testimony of that. But I am SO grateful to cover the West stake area. We are seeing many beautiful miracles.
I'll start at the top:
Monday: The new transfer didn't officially begin 'til tuesday so our evening was stilll full of South Hill appointments. We had a couple member visits set up and some were a little further out. I knew if we tried people between the lessons we'd probably be late. But I felt impressed to try a less-active, Reyna, that we've been trying like every other day for the last month and a half and WE'VE NEVER had luck with. Satan kept telling me we shouldn't go because it wasn't going to amount to anything and he knows just how much I hate being late but we went anyway. AND she let us right in! And she felt the spirit and wants to come back. It was a small victory. We did end up being late to our next appointment and it was pretty far away and I kept thinking maybe we should just cancel and not waste our miles. That dang Satan again, planting doubts in my mind. But our member visit ended up being the most worthwhile  member visit I've had a on my whole mission. We walked into their house and before we could even sit on the couch he said, "You serve in Cheney, right? Because I've been making a list of people you could visit since I knew you'd be coming over." And then he gave us like 9 names of Spanish speakers in Cheney. Before we even said the opening prayer! I thought I would cry. Another small victory! (not to mention, they were absolutely hands down the cutest family I've ever met, and that's saying a lot because I've met the most adorable "pinterest" families ever one the South Hill) All I know is that if we hadn't had our South Hill transfer, and hadn't received training from President to have more lessons, we would have never had this lesson or received those referrals for Cheney of all places! God is good and the church is true!
Tuesday: Our first day to the new transfer! While we were serving in Cheney, I went on exchanges with the Sisters in Airway Heights and we did some service and I met this Hispanic lady, Adriana and got her address so we could pass by and tell her about the English classes. I forgot to ever give her info to the elders, but I remembered her immediately and so she was our first stop. And she let us right in and we sang her a Christmas hymn and taught her about the restoration and she loved it! And her husband works for Brother Christiansen (who is another member from the South Hill that we've become besties with) and so it's just perfect.
Wednesday: We taught the Baustistas and sweet, sweet Sister McCombie came with us. And Ernesto told us that the more he reads the Book of Mormon the more he knows there is something good about it. They are so active in their church though that I think it would be a huge sacrifice to be baptized. But God is a God of miracles and I am counting on this one before my mission time is up.
Thursday: MLC! My favorite time ever. Sister Haynes is a sister training leader now! My little baby all grown up! (and Sister Gardiner is training! I'm a proud momma!) I do feel like time is going so quickly because most of my missionary friends are home or headed there. And I'm not too far behind. Freaks me out.
Friday: LA POSADA! Shoot, I didn't take pictures. Don't hate me. But I'm just now realizing and I'm so bummed. Anyway! It was the best Christmas branch activity of ALL TIME. We should do it in all the wards. So you walk in the chapel and the nativity story was playing along with Mormon Tabernacle singing Christmas hymns and we handed everyone an electric candle and told them to wait to turn it on, and then once the seats were filled (and extra filled because MORE THAN 200 people came!) we started the program and President Condon explained the meaning of "posada" which is like when Mary and Joseph went from inn to inn to inn searching for shelter. Then we instructed everyone to remove their shoes in reverence of the Savior, and turn their candle on and small groups went one at a time to follow Mary and Joseph. And a little guitarist followed them playing acoustic beautiful versions of Silent Night and then at each door, the innkeeper would say "no hay espacio" until finally the inn keeper President Condon opens the door and lets you into the banquet hall to have a feast. It was very sweet and touching and perfect. Low lighting and ahh so great! And little cut pine trees all around!
And we took one home and decorated it and it is beautiful!
Wellllll I'm outta time! i'll send pictures next week.
I love this gospel. I love my Savior. I love having this time of year to celebrate His sacred birth. I have never felt so much peace and joy in my life.
love ya!
Hermana Judd

Monday, December 2, 2013

If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me

Hey all you people!

We went fear busting this morning and then we have an appointment at 5:15 tonight and we have not even gone shopping yet so I've got zero time so this email will probably be lame. So sorry!

I'm staying in South Hill/West Stake with Sister Walton. This last transfer flew by, didn't it? I can hardly believe that today is another transfer. And it's the Christmas transfer. You already know how much I love mission Christmastime! 

We had a good week. We are finally meeting people that speak Spanish! And yesterday we had a feeling to stop by some members from an English ward who we thought were probably out of town but we went anyway. They had literally just gotten home! And they were the cutest young married couple ever. The husband served in Chile and he is just so missionary minded. AND he just helped his upstairs neighbor move in and guess where she is from?? ARGENTINA! A Spanish speaker! 

A few weeks back the stake had a returned missionary meeting to reemphasize Elder Ballard's invitation from conference:

"We are simply asking all members to pray, knowing that if every member, young and old, will reach out to just “one” between now and Christmas, millions will feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what a wonderful gift to the Savior."

I'm so impressed with how all our members are SO willing to help. I probably love visiting members the most. I mean I LOVE teaching people the gospel, but being in the homes of our sweet members fills me with true joy. 

We are finding a family this week. A family of four that is getting baptized in December. We prayed and prayed and continue to pray and we both feel it. I'm excited. The Lord is good.

In other news, Porche is getting baptized on Saturday. Porche from Cheney. YAY! She wrote me a sweet little letter telling me how grateful she was for all I did. I am filled with joy.

Thanksgiving was great. We had a traditional dinner with President Condon and then we stopped by the Rodriguez and had pork tacos. I love the Rodriguez so much. It always feels like McAllen in their home. And they are actually from Texas, so that is probably why. Lots of happiness around here. We are very happy to stay for Christmas. Miracles are so on their way. 

And so is the snow! Freezing!

Love ya!
Hermana Judd