Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Merry Christmas! It was so great to get to talk to you guys! I had a different, but good week. The highlight was our Christmas Miracles. On Christmas Eve we had a get-together for our investigators that didn’t have family to spend it with. We spent the day baking and setting up. We had Victor come. He came to church a few weeks ago, but we hadn’t been able to get a hold of him since. Tuesday we called to invite him and he said he might come. When he came in at 7 my heart went through the roof. I was so glad that he came! Before the night was over, we had a great 1st lesson with him. He described how he felt at church like when you have a flat tire, you loose your job and everything is going wrong, but that doesn’t matter anymore. He has such a great spirit about him and I’m sure it will be only a matter of time before he is baptized. We also had a less active that Sister Wilcox knew from her last area. She hadn’t been to church since she moved to Tallahassee because she said she couldn’t find it. She also has both her sons in prison, so she didn’t have anyone to spend Christmas with. She is in her 40s, but she had a great time and now she knows where the church is.  There were several other small tender mercies and other miracles. Christmas day was wonderful as well. Sister Wilcox and I woke up and opened gifts. I love them all so much! It was fun to not know what I was getting. I cried when I opened most of them because they were all so thoughtful! Thank you! We studied and got ready and then headed down for district meeting. It was a great meeting! We talked about unity and read a bit from President Eyring’s last conference talk and then we talked about the strengths of each member of the district. When it was my turn I cried several times… I feel funny telling ya’ll what they said, but I’m going to anyways. The comment was made when it was Sister Wilcox’s turn that between he two of us, we can do anything and everything. Our companionship is really strong and our strengths complement each other well. Then it was my turn… Elder Rasmussen started with “Sister Short is tight!” I get along really well with all the Elders (Thanks to my five brothers) and they appreciate that. They also talked about my strength and while they don’t know all that has happened in my past they know that I am strong today because of it. They talked about my strong faith and my courage. One even said I remind him of the Christian Courage from the talk last conference. Others were impressed with how prepared I was for my mission and how well I know my scriptures. They appreciate the new missionary zeal I have and the strong desire I have to work and be obedient. Elder Clasby said that I lead the ‘pack’ and that he would follow me anywhere. Elder Gleason said that he was impressed that I don’t react or get mad, even when he is trying to push all my buttons. He thanked me for my charity and patience (all the praying for it is starting to work!). There were other nice things said, but even now, this is overwhelming me. It is nice to know that I’m doing a good job as a missionary and that I touch the lives of those around me. It has been cool to see parts of my Patriarchal Blessing come to pass. It was such a great meeting! Later, we went to the Bowcutts for dinner. Brother Bowcutt is the institute director and his parents are serving a mission out here and helping him teach. He also has 7 kids, so it was fun. I played Risk for the first time and wiped all the Elders out! You’d all be so proud of me ;) We had lots of good food and a ton of fun. It was nice to be in a family setting on Christmas. Kaylee, I think she is 4, showed me all of her gifts, and one of the boys wanted to give me all of his candy. They are such a great family! We originally had a service project planned for today, but it was postponed, so I wish I was doing that, but it is good to email all of you. Oh, and I met Tasha Benfield this weekend, she trained Sister Wilcox. She knows Katie Lewis and Katie Hawkes! Small world! I really think all of you should write to me- our mail box has developed cobwebs! Thanks to those of you who have faithfully sent mail (mostly mom and grandma) I love you all! Merry Christmas! Be sure to set New Year’s Goals!

Monday, December 22, 2008

December 22, 2008

The highlight of my week was Zone Conference. I love President & Sister Summerhays so much! My favorite part of it was my interview with President. I had been struggling with an Elder in my district, and since there are 3 companionships in our ward, we work together a lot. It was to the point that I didn't feel the Spirit when I was around him because of my hard feelings toward him. I talked to President about this and how I know that it is my problem and not the Elder's. I know that when I am annoyed or frustrated that I choose to be. I was praying often for charity and patience, but I was still struggling and I was getting more and more annoyed with myself. President thanked me for sharing my struggle with him and told me that by telling him about it, it shows my desire to be good and to do better. He then told me a story about Howard W Hunter asking for a blessing because he was having hard feelings toward someone and it was literally making him sick. President then offered to give me a blessing. It was beautiful. He blessed me with the power that when I hear that Elder's voice next that I would feel the love of the Savior for him. I was also blessed that I would know that the Lord was working on and with that Elder and that I didn't need to worry about him. I hadn't even told President about my desire to help the Elder be a better person (partially because he bugged me, but mostly so he could be happier), but the Lord knew what I was thinking and feeling and He helped me to overcome it too. It was amazing, and it all came to pass. The next time I heard that Elder it was like he was a different person. I understood where he was coming from, what he was feeling, and most importantly what the Lord feels for him. It has made such a difference in my day to not have those hard feelings. I have loved it! The entire tone of my district has changed (all of us struggled with this Elder) but we have one by one grown to love and appreciate this Elder. The power of the Priesthood is amazing. I am so thankful to President and his inspiration to give me a blessing and for the blessing he gave. The rest of Zone Conference was great. As a part of it we did role plays, and since I was new, it was mostly me. With the help of Sister Wilcox I was able to do well and I felt confident. We also did a fun thing- President charged each of us with being a successful missionary. Two witnesses had to testify of our success and then we were convicted. (Basically two people said something nice about each person, but with a more dramatic twist) One of my witnesses was the very Elder that I had been struggling with, in fact that was the first time I heard his voice after the blessing. It was an especially neat experience. At the end of Zone Conference we all re-committed ourselves to the work. I shared a dream I had that my mission was over and I was so upset because I didn't get to teach people or share the gospel. I wanted to share what I had learned from all of my experiences, and that I've been given the experiences to share them with other people and have the chance to uplift them. It was a wonderful day!Congratulations to Danny & Tia! I am so excited for both of you! I can't wait to talk to you on Christmas and tell Tia all the stupid things Danny did as a kid (he ate my chalk that went with a little school house and chalkboard I had). I hope you know how much I love you and I'm proud of you. Thanks to the Moab Ereksons for a great Christmas package and to Ruthie Peterson for the first letter from a friend! You guys cleared the cobwebs in our mailbox! Thanks Grandma & Grandpa for sending the money - I used to buy food for a great Christmas Eve Celebration we are hosting for our investigators that don't have family to spend Christmas with. I'm really excited about it. I love you all! Merry Christmas!

PS Hi! This is Alissa's Mom. Her preparation day (P-day) has changed to Mondays now, so her posts will be updated on Mondays or Tuesdays, depending on how soon I can sit down at the computer. Thanks for all your love, prayers and support for her. Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

December 13, 2008

So last week we had 7 new investigators! It was amazing! So far this week we haven't found any. But that doesn't mean we haven't been working, more like students are studying for and taking finals, and we haven't had time to go tracting. Besides, President Eyring said that a key indicator that is a zero just shows us what we need to work on. Sunday - Melissa Mae was baptized! It was a wonderful experience and her family, especially her mom, seemed very touched. She is such a great example to all of us. She is disabled and has to use a walker to get around (she literally can't without it) but she always has a smile on her face and it doesn't slow her down. The 1st Presidency Christmas Broadcast was also amazing! I love all of those men so much. They truly are Men of God and are called to lead His church today. Monday - We met with Melissa again. She had said Saturday that she wanted us to come over and talk, but she was very cryptic, so we were a little nervous. She just had some questions about polygamy and other stuff that people were throwing in her face. She didn't doubt at all, but just wanted to know more. She has such great faith. Then we read the Book of Mormon with her. The Spirit was once again there with great strength. Tuesday - We had 4 lessons back to back after district meeting! It was a great day. The best was with Candace. She wasn't there on Saturday when we went to meet with her, but was happy to reschedule and the lesson was amazing! We brought along Melanie Parker - which was perfect because they both want to be physician assistants. We really wanted to establish a relationship with Candace so that we'd be able to call her over break and continue teaching her when she got back. Then when she told us she was moving I was inspired to ask if she needed help. She had several large items, so Friday we brought the FSU Elders (Clasby & Rassmussen) with us and were able to spend time with her then. It was fantastic! We also had a great lesson with Seth. He is going home for Christmas and won't get back until a few days before his baptism on the 3rd, so we were a little anxious about that. Then we were inspired to look up the ward locations and times in his home town. He said he'd go and that he'd like us to call and remind him. I love inspiration! It is the only way to do missionary work! We also caroled to a girl that the TCC Elders (Lewis & Gleason) had found earlier. She was super receptive, but had to take a phone call and then leave for work, so we didn't really get to teach her. It was really awkward when she was on the phone and we asked her roommate how she felt about Christ. She was Jewish. Insert foot in mouth. We continued talking to her and it ended up okay, but it was really awkward for a while. Wednesday - Sister Wilcox woke up with a swollen neck. It was tender and it hurt to swallow, so after a lesson with Melanie Grosinbough, we went to the doctor (that's right- I wasn't the one that was sick!). He said it was most likely a swollen lymph-node and that it would go away. (which it has, she just looked funny for a few days...). We came back and contacted on campus for a bit, but it is finals week and it was raining, so not many people talked to us. Sister Wilcox started to hurt even more so we headed back to the apartment and she slept. Later the FSU Elders came and gave her a blessing. The Priesthood is the Power of God!Thursday - Erekson Raymond Short turned 18!!We had our last lesson with Melanie G. She will be baptized in Tampa on the 20th so all her family can be there. She is an amazing girl and the Lord has a lot in store for her to do. Sister Wilcox and I went on exchanges to go visiting teaching with some sisters in the ward. It was fun to do visiting teaching again (even if none of our appointments were there). It was also great to get to know Christine Morse (daughter of the dr we saw Wednesday) and I look forward to working with her more as she was just called as a ward missionary :)Friday - SERVICE! We helped Candace move in the morning and then went to the Ronald McDonald House and cleaned. (So we got to wear jeans pretty much all day) We talked to a woman who had just had a son a few days ago. He is premature, so she'll likely be at the house for a while. We talked to her about quiting smoking. She wants to and is trying, hopefully we'll get to talk to her more next week, and hopefully I'll remember a Word of Wisdom pamphlet. We tried contacting at Big Lots and talked to probably about 30 people, but the only ones who talked to us was a 6 yr old boy and his 2 yr old sister. When I asked the little boy what he wanted for Christmas he said that he wanted a house and a car for his mom. He was so sincere about it too. I wanted to give him a hug, but a high-five was all that I could do. He made my night.Saturday - is a special day. Its the day we get ready for Sunday! We are having dinner at Melissa Mae's tonight and she is super excited to have us over. Then we have another ward's Christmas Party. It is a family ward that has invited a lot of non-members, so they are bringing in extra missionaries. I'm really excited for that.So while our week didn't yield new investigators, we did have great lessons with members present, great service opportunities, great 'other lessons' and a really great week. I love being a missionary! I love you all!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Primary Songs

I've sung countless Primary songs throughout the week. I've had 'Jesus said love everyone' or 'Kindness begins with me' pop in my head when I'm around someone difficult. I hear 'My Heavenly Father Loves Me' as I see all the beautiful trees and flowers. Everything is so green and beautiful here! I sing to myself 'Jesus came to John the Baptist...' as I teach about the necessity for baptism by the proper authority and according to Christ's example. As I teach the commandments I hear sweet children singing 'Keep the Commandments'. I love the Primary songs so much! There are such sweet and simple truths in all of them. This has been another great week. I've seen so many miracles and answers to prayers. From lessons, to getting in touch with an investigator, to blisters healing. Here are this week's highlights...Sunday- I got to meet some of the Tallahassee 5th ward. It is different to be in a singles ward, but I love it! Most of the people are converts and I love hearing their stories. They also have a strong desire to share the gospel, which is always a plus for missionaries :) Monday- We got to teach a new member lesson to Lindsay. She is really cute and really excited to be a member! I got to teach Eternal Marriage, which I love and is something so dear to my heart. I love showing off our family picture, especially Mr. Mitchell!! **Then we taught Melanie, a girl that is getting baptized in Tampa on the 20th. She knows so much and more importantly has a strong testimony. She is such an example to her family and I bet they'll follow before long.Tuesday- We had a powerful district meeting. Our district has the Elders assigned to FSU and TCC (Tallahassee Community College) as well as a sweet senior couple. They bring so much insight and are so open and honest with us. It touches my heart as they express their weaknesses and trials and give me the courage to do the same. I'm really close to having everything ready and memorized for Zone Conference on the 16th. I'm excited to get to see President Summerhays again. We also had a great lesson with a girl named Melissa. She was taught by the 4th ward missionaries because it was a family that introduced her to the gospel, but we get to have her in 5th ward with us! She is being baptized on Sunday and is really excited. I was really nervous to teach because it was with the Zone Leaders (who are the 4th ward missionaries). I wanted to do a good job, for my own prideful reasons, but when I got in there I realized that it didn't matter what they thought about my teaching, as long as I taught with the Spirit so Melissa could understand. It wasn't perfect, but it went well. After, one of the Elders said that I could easily pass for someone that had been out for a year because I knew my scriptures and was so confident. That was a tender mercy from the Lord. I am often too hard on myself and need to be reminded that I'm doing well. That night we went caroling/tracting with the Elders and it went really well. We found a new investigator, but more than that we were able to talk to a lot of people that probably wouldn't have listened otherwise. We found a great old Austrian man who teaches Biology at FSU and he told us when the missionaries taught him in Austria while he was in the army. He said they helped him through some rough times. He said he 'wasn't in the running to become a Mormon' but we bore testimony and I think that sometime soon he'll 'be in the running'.Wednesday- the morning started out a little rough. I let unimportant things get to me. Then when we went to our first appointment I had written the number down wrong, so we didn't ever find him. I was annoyed with myself, but we just kept going. We were tracting the rest of that apartment complex, but I didn't have the Spirit with me, and I knew I wasn't going to do any good. Through several prayers of repentance and pleading, I was able to feel of and testify with the Spirit. From then on we had a lot of success. We set return appointments, handed out Books of Mormons & pamphlets, and best of all we taught a great first lesson. We taught three girls: Nikki, Rochelle, and Tiffany. Nikki is very religious and had a lot of great questions. She has a real desire to know about other religions as well as to find truth. Rochelle has such a sweet spirit. I had asked Nikki about her relationship with her family, and then asked Rochelle. I normally don't ask more than one person the same question, but the Spirit was there and I asked Rochelle. It turns out she has recently lost her mother. She is hurting and looking for peace. She is prepared to hear the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and come to know that families can be together forever! Tiffany was a little antagonistic, but through the Spirit we were still able to maintain control of the direction of the lesson and testify. When I was bearing my testimony near the end Nikki commented that she could tell this was something I was passionate about. The Spirit had touched her heart and I got to witness it! That is probably one of my favorite experiences so far and I can't wait to go back and teach them more this afternoon!Thursday- We spent most of the day at a booth in the Student Union at TCC. It's different and a little difficult, but I did have the opportunity to bear testimony to a few people. The best part of Thursday was meeting with Seth. He is an investigator that we hadn't been able to contact since we got here last Tuesday, but Wednesday night as we were talking about him Sister Wilcox was prompted to call him then and he answered! We were finally able to meet with him. His baptismal date is set for the 4th of January (I think) and he is ready to put in the work to be prepared to make that sacred covenant. I'm excited to get to know him better. Friday- We did weekly planning, it is something I really enjoy. We get to look at the needs of people we're teaching, less actives, and others and then we get to pray and receive revelation as to how we can best help them. It is truly a spiritual experience, plus it gets me excited for the next week! We also had lunch and went to the Ronald McDonald house to clean with a less active named Kacie. She is a really sweet girl and we get along really well, I think she just needs a bit of a push to make it to church and then some friends there when she arrives. I'm excited to get to know her better. Last night was also the ward party and it was great to see Melanie and Melissa again. I'm still trying to learn everyone in the ward, but I'll get there someday...Saturday- Today! We had our usual study time, we're emailing, and later we have two return appointments, dinner with Melissa, and we're going to spend time with a recent convert, Amanda. Amanda is great so I'm excited!In other news, I feel very loved. I received three packages over the last week! One from the Shorts full of wrapped gifts that I've shaken but can't figure out what they are, one from Gma & Gpa Clonts with a great red blouse, scarf, and gloves for now and more presents for Christmas. I also got a great package from the Clonts/Short gang with a great Christmas tree, decorations, (some even hand made :) ) lights, stockings, and a few sweaters and stuff that didn't fit in my suitcases (how they'll fit now I'm not too sure, but I'll figure it out). I feel so loved! I think I'm getting more gifts this year than ever before. Another blessing of serving a mission I guess :) I love you all and hope you are enjoying this great Christmas season! Spread the joy and love wherever you go!