Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Required Action -- Promised Blessing

President Summerhays gave us an assignment just over a month ago. We read the Book of Mormon and marked in one color the required action and in another color the promised blessing. For example1 Ne 1:12 And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the spirit of the Lord. 'he read' would be one color and 'he was filled with the spirit of the Lord' would be the other.It was an amazing experience. He challenged us to finish it by Feb 20th (Zone Conference) which meant at least 20 pages a day. It took a lot of work and time, but through the enabling power of the Atonement I was able to finish. It was powerful. I came to see how much the prophets of the Book of Mormon cried repentance. I saw how the miracles were all according to the faith of the individuals. I saw things I've never noticed before. It was an amazing experience. I invite all of you to do the same.

Transfers were this week and Sister Wilcox and I are still here. At Zone Conference on Friday President Summerhays said that there were two new sisters coming out next transfer but that he thinks campus will remain the same (we'll both still be here). It is possible that will change, but Sister Wilcox and I like the idea of serving together longer. We are so very different, but we get along so well. Between the two of us, there isn't a person we can't relate to in some way or another. We work hard and we have fun. It has been great!

The highlight of the week for me was Zone Conference. We talked about diligence. I left with a resolve to do and be better. I re-dedicated myself to the work. I will not just wake up at 6:30, but get out of bed and exercise. I will work all day, even when it is cold and/or rainy. I will show the Savior my love for Him through my actions and my continued diligence. It was a call to repentance, but it felt amazing. I love the chance we have to partake of the Sacrament each week to start over clean and pure. We also talked about the Book of Mormon reading we had been doing and we all committed to read the Book of Mormon every day for the rest of our lives. I'm excited about that. That is something I know I can be diligent about and unlike getting up on time in the morning, it is something that I can make sure happens at some point in the day, so I know that every day for the rest of my life I will read from the Book of Mormon and partake of the power that it holds.

In Zone Conference we also had the chance to talk about the District Meeting we held in the beginning of February where we finally became unified. We shared with what we did to get there, which was we committed to work together as a team or family to accomplish our goals as a district. We dissected what President had guided us to do and so Elder Rasmussen asked me to write on the board what I had written on the board at the District Meeting. As I did so, he continued to explain that we all committed to work together, but then I 'said ok, now HOW?!'... The entire Zone burst into laughter as he did a pretty good impression of my frustrated 'how'. President Summerhays laughed and said something about always needing the counsel of a woman and then handed me his name tag. I was thoroughly embarrassed for my boldness, but later when I talked with Sister Summerhays she said that I had gained the respect of the Zone, so it was a good thing. Then later another Elder needed to write on the board but was very hesitant to erase what I had written. President Summerhays commented that it was nice of him to not want to erase what I had written without my permission and the jokingly added 'especially since she might kill you'. Again laughter. President Summerhays knows me better than I ever realized :) **Note - I would never kill anyone, especially not an Elder, but the Elders in my district are well aware that I do fight for what I feel is right and, as already demonstrated, I'm not afraid to speak my mind... **Anyways, I found it all highly amusing and it was nice to laugh at myself a bit.

The work is going well. We have four progressing investigators and are working with a few less-active members. We are excited to have time to go tracting this week and find those that are prepared to hear the gospel.

I love you all! Read the Book of Mormon!

Monday, February 16, 2009


Farah Lamore Lester was baptized on Friday the 13th of February 2009!

That's really all I have to say, but I'll provide more details because they are amazing!First, the other things of the week.

Tuesday we had district meeting and it was the last one for the Zabriskies, a senior couple that went home on Friday. They serve two years in Quincy and accomplished miracles. We will miss the wisdom and insight as well as the fun they bring to district meetings. We then hiked up much farther than necessary (we couldn't find it at first) to contact a referral from last week. We had dinner with Kristen Hill - she always feed us very well :). And she has non-member roommates and friends that we get to spend time talking with. One of them even holds a bible study with Kristen each night and they use the Book of Mormon too! She is an excellent missionary :)

Wednesday we spent literally hours making phone calls an updating the area book. We taught a couple less-active lessons and they are all doing so well! One has said that she decided to quit smoking and drinking because she is reading the Book of Mormon and no longer has a desire to do those things. Hooray!

Thursday we spent most of the day at the TCC booth and had a lesson fall through and an unexpected lesson pop-up. It was fantastic! I love getting to talk to people about the Book of Mormon and all the ways it blesses my life. We helped Kristen Hill clean her room and were able to sit on her bible study with her roommate Rachel. It was a great chance to serve and to teach. :)

Thursday night we were on our way to a lesson with Farah when she called and told us not to come because they were leaving to follow the ambulance with her grandma to the hospital. We didn't hear from her that night and so in the morning we took cookies over (what else do we do) to make sure her grandma was okay (honestly, I was afraid she'd die or be really sick and Farah would want to postpone or something). Her grandma answered the door! Whew! We talked to Farah and everything was good to go. Talk about over reacting :)

Friday we had service for a bit at the Ronald McDonald House and then we were off to get ready for Farah's baptism. It was amazing! Eddie Wester, the friend that introduced her to the church, was able to baptize her. He was baptized the week we met Farah and was able to receive the Aaronic Priesthood and perform the ordinance. He did a great job too. It was amazing! The Spirit was so strong. When we met Farah in the bathroom after all she could do was cry (but she cries pretty, not sobbing) and we cried with her and hugged before we let her get dressed. The Spirit is so strong whenever we are with Farah. Several people commented that it was the most spiritual baptism they have attended, even recently returned missionaries. I am so thankful that I've had such a cherished opportunity to get to know her. That I'll be able to continue to spend time learning and growing with her. I am thankful that she will be able to uplift the members of 5th ward with her sweet and gentle spirit. She is an amazing woman that has overcome numerous obstacles. She is so happy and feels so good that you can't help but feel the same way. It is truly amazing.

Saturday was tricky since it was Valentines Day, so we planned, let someone into the institute, made phone calls, updated the area and member books (the member book helps us to know who all the members are and a little about them- I'd be lost without it! but it is NOT a gossip book as some missionaries call them. We treat the information we have with the respect it deserves so that we can best help the members of the ward- sorry, I'm a little sensitive on the issue...)

Sunday was wonderful! Farah was confirmed by Brother Dennis Prescott, a member of the 4th ward that she works with at Publix (a local grocery store- possibly the best ever). It was a beautiful blessing and reflected who Farah is. Her countenance has changed since we met her about 2 months ago. It was always sweet, but now it is even brighter! She has also made numerous friends in the ward and is growing more and more each time we see her. We had other miracles Sunday. We had a goal of 4 new investigators this week, but we didn't really have time to tract. A member brought someone to church that we are going to teach, and when we went to contact a referral, we were able to teach her and her boyfriend as well as tract around her complex really briefly and find another new investigator. 4 in a matter of hours! It was a huge blessing and an amazing miracle to witness. When we went to church we had 2 appointments set up for the week. By the end of last night we had 8. The work is amazing!

So Katie Hawkes shared a bit of a talk by Elder Bednar with me, one that I've been studying for months and I realized that I should share some of the great talks I've found and had shared with me.
Pray Always & Ask in Faith by Elder Bednar
The Good Samaritan: Forgotten Symbols by John W. Welch
In the Strength of the Lord by Elder Bednar (this is the one Katie found too) It has also been a theme for our mission. I love it!
We also read the Ensign each month and there are always things that relate directly to our own lives and/or the lives of our investigators. I encourage all of you to get a subscription! Enjoy! I'll try and remember to send more later.
Katie Hawkes- I did get your letter and will reply asap. Thanks so much! Happy 22nd!
Katie Lewis- I have to find out you are dating someone from Katie Hawkes? Consider your self rebuked. I want to hear about it! You can email me!
Caraline- Katie says you aren't in the circus yet, there are circus classes at FSU, you should come down here.
Katie Lee- how goes student teaching? What would it take to get your last From The Heart cd from you?
Erek - congrats on BYU Hawaii!! Way to go!

The rest of you- I'd love to hear from you :)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Address Update

Dear Family and Friends,

Alissa and her companion have had several thefts from their mailbox in the past few months. Alissa is missing a few cards with some cash that were sent and her companion is missing a Visa gift card that her grandmother sent, among other things. They are trying to track the purchases to find the culprit, but that could take time. Alissa and her companion, Sister Wilcox are currently seeking a locking mailbox, but as of yet have been unable to get one. So, if you plan to send her a box or even a card in the near future, please send it to the office address below and ask them on the outside of the envelope to keep it until zone conference or send it to the following address for her district leaders. Thank you for understanding and for your continued support for our girl.
Jill (proud missionary mom)

1701 W Pensacola St #113 Tallahassee, FL 32304

Key Indicators

We have started approaching goals in a new way. Each week we report our numbers on Sunday, but then Monday we report our goals for the current week. We also track our key indicator numbers each day on a little white board. All of this is at the request of President Summerhays. Whenever we talk about goals we say 'people represented by key indicators' and we apply that to make our goals more meaningful each day. We have our key indicators color coordinated and each time we have a lesson with a member present we write that person's name in green, or when we find a new investigator - they go on the board in orange. It makes each day exciting as we get to rejoice that we met Kaley or that we had a lesson with Erin. It has added a better understanding as to the purpose of goals. It may not be exciting to ya'll, but Sister Wilcox and I love it!

Monday all our plans fell through, but we did have time to make lots of phone calls and contact some hard to reach people.

Tuesday we had an amazing district meeting! Our district has been struggling with unity since I got here, well even before that, but we got down to the root of it and each committed to make the changes necessary within ourselves. It was great to realize what I contributed to the problem, how I needed to change, and to accept responsibility for it. I was no longer blaming other people, but changing the one person I could, myself. What made it even more exciting is that everyone did it together (that also made it easier).

Wednesday we got another referral (we got the first one on Monday). Hooray for meaningful fasts! We also got to teach two lessons to less-actives and were able to help encourage one to ask for a blessing for an upcoming root canal. (Which went perfectly and she came to church!)

Thursday we spent most of the day at TCC and were able to teach an amazing lesson to James (it was amazing because of him and the Spirit, not us by any stretch of the imagination). He is a very spiritual person and excited to learn more. We meet with him again this Thursday.

Friday morning we got yet another referral! We went to the Ronald McDonald House with Amanda and Dan and were able to talk to them about what they believed and share a first lesson with them. They are great people with a lot of love. Both agreed to read the Book of Mormon and they liked the doctrines we shared with them.

Saturday we had a great lesson with Farah and were able to plan her baptism. She is so excited! I think Sister Wilcox and I are equally excited! This is the first person that we started teaching that we also get to see enter the waters of baptism. I can hardly wait for this Friday.

Sunday we had an amazing time at church. Farah really seems to feel at home there and is looking forward to Friday more each day. We met a friend of Kacie Bunch's, Kaley, who is interested in learning more. We also received a referral for a girlfriend of someone in the ward.

We are super busy, but we wouldn't have it any other way.Today we had a lesson with Farah and she also had her baptismal interview. We also had another lesson with Erin and she is coming to church on Sunday. I'm excited to write both their names one the whiteboard tonight as they represent the key indicators!

I love you all! Tallahassee is beautiful, the people are wonderful, and the work is going forth at a pace I can only keep up with through the strength of the Lord.

Dallas- you still owe me cookies. I think interest is beginning to develop...

Erek- you win the email game this week, I'm not sure what that entails, but congratulations. (besides mom, who wins every week)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sparkles and Bubbles

This was a very busy week! Here is a day by day play by play. (Everything is amusing when you are a missionary!)

Monday - We went grocery shopping at Walmart and were able to stock up on some of the necessities like make-up and deodorant. It is the simple things in life, like new mascara, that bring me daily joy. We had an amazing lesson in which she said she is leaning toward believing the Book of Mormon to be true! We invited her to church on Sunday - she said she couldn't come this week because of the Super Bowl, but that she'll be there next Sunday. We have another lesson with her tonight! We then had a quick lesson with Farah about the Priesthood and Priesthood blessings. It worked quite perfectly because I had asked the Elders for a blessing for a migraine that had been bothering me for a week now (and thus bothering Sister Wilcox) so we asked them to come at the end of the lesson so that Farah could experience one and hopefully she'd ask to have one herself. (She eventually did) It was an amazing blessing and my head stopped hurting immediately. This seems to be a monthly occurrence for me on my mission. I am so thankful for the power of the Priesthood to heal and to give comfort. Farah then got to stay for FHE. She is doing so well!Tuesday we talked more about faith in District Meeting. We also talked about an area wide fast on Sunday. All the missions and stakes in the North America South East Area fasted on Sunday for missionary work - our mission specifically fasted for faith and to become the prepared missionaries that the Lord will lead the prepared people to. I became even more excited about it.

Tuesday we had two lessons fall through so we went to campus and ended up having an amazing experience! There was a traveling preacher, Brother Micah, on campus yelling at everyone. He was telling them that they are all going to Hell and that they all hate God. He said that he was no longer a sinner, that football is a sin because it is violent. He even said that Bobby Bowden was going to Hell. I thought they were going to kill him when he attacked their beloved football coach. It really is sad that he thinks this way, but it led to some great teaching opportunities for us. A girl named Amanda asked us if we were Christians and if we were with him. We responded yes and NO respectively. We explained that we're missionaries, sometimes called 'Mormons' and we got to tell her and her friends Megan and Josh that God loves them and that while He doesn't want them to sin, they can repent. We talked about the Book of Mormon and the Atonement. Brother Micah especially hates homosexuals and Jews. We had the chance to talk to several people and explain that while we don't support homosexual marriage or actions, they have agency and the inclinations alone doesn't make it a sin. It is the actions, just like it is for heterosexuals, that make it a sin. We even have a new investigator, Dan - or Sparkles, who is interested in what we believe. It was a completely unexpected day and much better than we could have hoped for. We had to leave campus to teach a lesson to a less active that another set of Elders found, Madisen. She hasn't really gone to church since she was 8, but she is reading and praying and knows the Book of Mormon is true. She understands what we teach her and desires to learn more. It is really great to get to teach her.

Wednesday it was raining so Brother Micah didn't show - we were there though. We did some research on so that we'd know exactly what the church teaches about homosexuality so that we can better teach. It was really helpful and very uplifting. It eventually stopped raining and we contacted people on campus. I had an interesting conversation with Frank, a man from China that is here for six months doing research in finance. He asked me about debt and my experience in it and I told him about the counsel of the Church to stay out of debt and the blessing that has brought. When I had answered all of his questions he allowed me to talk to him more about the church and the Book of Mormon. I was able to teach him a full first lesson :) We had a lesson with Kiley, a girl whose New Year's resolution is to come back to Church. She knows just enough to be dangerous, so it is really good that we are teaching her and that she is able to feel the Spirit testify of the truthfulness. We were spending the last bit of the day on campus when we ran into the Elders at a fountain that had been bubbled. It was a much needed lift for all of us as we've been struggling in some areas of the work. The Lord answers prayers in many different ways.

Thursday we spent more time on campus with Brother Micah. We taught nearly two dozen people! Sparkles (Dan) was contending with Brother Micah and when we greeted him Brother Micah said that it was interesting how well the Mormons get along with the gays. We responded that we like to get along with all of God's children. He didn't hear us, but several of the people around us did. After we left for a dinner appointment the Elders said they overheard Dan telling people that they should talk to Sister Wilcox and Sister Short, who isn't very short, because we knew about love. I love the gospel! It really is a message of love, hope, and happiness. I can't imagine a message of anything else.

Friday morning we had a lesson with Farah and we talked about several of the commandments. She said she is going to miss sweet tea, but she committed to live by all the commandments! She even said the closing prayer- she hasn't ever prayed in a lesson before. It was powerful and she really was speaking to her Heavenly Father. I loved it! She also asked if she could receive a blessing on Sunday! She is growing so much and so quickly! It is only a month ago that she even heard of the Book of Mormon, two weeks ago that she started to really pray to her Father in Heaven, and next Friday she is going to be baptized. I am so thankful to have the chance to see her progress from start to baptism. It is such a blessing!

Saturday we had 3 lessons at 10, 11 & 12! Jacqueline came with us to all of them. At 10 we had one with Kalee, Jerika & Cora. Kalee was sick and Jerika was sleepy, but Cora was really excited. She expressed that she didn't want to be baptized or something like that until she was ready to be faithful. She didn't want to do planned repentance or anything like that. She may take some time to gain a testimony, but when she does she will be a powerhouse! Jerika was really sweet and poor Kalee was sick as a dog, but they all agreed to read from the Book of Mormon. We had a lesson with France, but she wasn't home, so we talked to her non-member cousin briefly. We had another lesson with Madisen and then we talked with Jacqueline for an hour or so about less actives (she is the Relief Society President). We began our fast as a mission through a conference call and then attended Jon's baptism. He came to our Christmas Eve Celebration and didn't really talk and wasn't very happy, but now he is well groomed, stands with good posture, and talks with people. It is amazing to see the change the gospel makes in people's lives.

Sunday was amazing as usual. Farah asked some great questions about the Sacrament and about testimony meeting. Her blessing was powerful because her faith is so strong. She loves and trusts in Heavenly Father. We broke our fast via conference call again - it was amazing to be so unified as a mission. This morning we received our first media referral. A meaningful fast is powerful!
I love you all!

Missionary Prep by Sister Short :)

Monday we played football for P-Day with some of the Elders, some members, and a few investigators. It was great to be able to run and play! (Even if everyone was sore the next day) We had another great lesson with Erin that night. She said that she was praying again and that she wanted to go back to church (she mentioned the Catholic Church, but hopefully she'll come to ours as well). She said she likes how she feels when she reads the Book of Mormon and she even made sure that we'd meet the same time next week. I'm excited for her as she continues to progress.

Tuesday was Zone Conference! I love getting to spend time with the Zone and especially with President and Sister Summerhays. We talked a lot about faith and not having even a seed of doubt or fear in us as we tract, contact, teach, extend commitments, etc... I came to realize that I accept that I choose to be offended, why can't other people make that same choice. I don't need to be afraid of offending when I speak with faith and love. It was a very powerful and uplifting day. I loved meeting with President Summerhays. It was brief but powerful. Our District has been struggling with unity and President called it exactly like it is and was rather blunt about it. He asked me to be patient with a few of the Elders, which was much easier to agree to because he clearly knows exactly what is going on. It probably helps that he has the Spirit to help him discern ;) He told me that the Lord loves me, is proud of me, and that I should be growing in my confidence. I was a little taken back by that - my confidence should be growing. I feel fairly confident, at least with the help of the Lord, but as I have thought about this more and more I think it has more to do with faith and trust in Him growing, and my confidence growing as a result of that. I am so thankful to have the chance to meet with President Summerhays monthly! Some of the Elders think he will be an apostle or even the prophet someday, but he does so much good on an individual basis that I think he'll continue to be a mission or stake president, where he can help to change individual lives. He is an amazing man of God that radiates the Spirit within him.

Wednesday we had 3 lessons scheduled, all of which fell through at the last minute. We were able to contact a member referral and set up an appointment, so that was good. It really is according to the Lord's time.

Thursday we had our only lesson fall through, but we did contact several potential investigators at the booth on TCC.

Friday we had an amazing lesson with Farah. Her countenance has changed so much in the past few weeks. She is so excited to be baptized and to grow closer to her Savior. You can't help but to be happy around her. We also got to serve at the Ronald McDonald House as we do every Friday. That night we had a lesson scheduled with Jerika, but the last several have either been rescheduled, canceled, or no-shows, so we were afraid we'd have to drop her. By a miracle she was there and ready! We had Melanie, a recent convert, come with us and she powerfully shared her own gradual conversion story and how she had to continue to read and pray to know. We watched The Restoration with Jerika and then her cousin Kalee came over with friend, so Jerika wanted to watch it again. It was powerful! When Melanie shared that she would read the chapters assigned by the Sisters Kalee said she wanted assigned scriptures to read! It was wonderful! Both Kalee and Jerika committed to read 3 Nephi 27 and/or Alma 32 and to pray to know if it is true! It was such a powerful lesson and the exact opposite of what we thought it would be.

Saturday we planned most of the day and tried to contact a few less actives, but with no success, at least not any success that we saw immediately. Sunday we were supposed to have 4 lessons and 4 investigators at Sacrament Meeting, none of which happened. We did have a few less actives come and they were really excited to be there. Again, it is all according to the Lord's time and in His way. We set goals, work to achieve those goals and pray, but ultimately it is up to Him. Any good that happens here is because of Him. I am merely an instrument in His hands, but how thankful I am to be that! This past week as I read Silvia H. Allred talk from conference she listed ways that each of us can be missionaries:Then, be more specific in your missionary efforts. Let me suggest some ideas. You might find two or three that work for you:
If you have children at home, help prepare them for missionary service. Prepare yourself for missionary service.
-Invite family and friends to listen to the missionaries or to attend our Church meetings and activities.
-Accompany the missionaries to investigators’ homes, or invite the missionaries to teach nonmembers in your home.
-Invite people to a family home evening in your home.
-Invite people to a family history center, or help them do family history research.
-Give referrals to the missionaries. Members can be the greatest and best source of referrals.
-Share your beliefs and testimony with nonmember friends and family.
-Seek for opportunities to reach out to others.
-Extend friendship to investigators and new converts.
-Give your best efforts to finding those who are seeking the truth.
-If you have family members or friends on missions, send them letters of love and encouragement, and pray for them. The last one was my favorite ;)

Now for a few personal responses:

Ashley Hathcock - I can't find your address anywhere! I don't know what I did with it, but I can't find it. Please email it to me or something so I can send you a letter! I loved the package in the MTC! Sorry I'm so slow on responding, I was hoping to find your address. Gilbert Girls - while I can't email you, you can email me and then read my blog. I'd love to know what on earth is going on in your lives, for example pregnant, for all I know Katie Hawkes is engaged, Caraline has joined the circus as a high flying acrobat, Brooke is playing the piano at a jazz lounge, etc...Dallas- I'm still here. I was not transferred and President Summerhays does not anticipate transferring me anytime soon. Please send the cookies as soon as possible :)Danny- One of the Elders reminds me so much of you! I miss you Danny Boy!