Monday, May 30

Happy are we, Happy are we.

 I love singing and hearing others sing. A few of my favorite hymns mostly include happy upbeat music like, We are all enlisted (I like singing the part over and over again, HAPPY ARE WE HAPPY ARE WE"), There is Sunshine in my soul, etc. I think you get the point.

These past couple days I've had this one song lingering in my mind: "Count Your Many Blessings." You see, this is mine and Sister Barnes theme for this transfer (6 week period). We even have a wall of our many blessings we put on sticky notes and hang up each night.

Part of the song goes, "Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? Count your many blessings and your doubts will fly, and you will be singing as the days go by." Isn't this a lovely song? I love it. Because, I've seen in my life when we focus on the good we are happier and people can see that reflect off of us, even when we are experiencing hard times.

So let me tell you some of the blessings we've experienced this past week:
- Some how getting everywhere we need to go even with a broken down car.
-Weeding our neighbors garden, I LOVE WEEDING.
-The flowers our neighbor gave us after weeding!! AMAZING! They we're even PINK!
-Laughter. Lets just say we've laughed A LOT! Like when we had a hard day, we we're walking and a dog started CHARGING us and my companion slumped over and said with drama "I HATE EVERYTHING." HAHAHA. Lots of laughter this past week.
-Food to eat even with no food in our house.. miracles really happen.

-Sister Bakes (the bishops wife) randomely finding us whenever we needed a ride!
-The little flower seedling I'm growing from a cup is starting to grow! EXCITING!
-Priesthood Blessings :) Healing.
-Finding solace in the scriptures and going to church.
-An AWESOME ward!
-A letter from a friend at home during a rough week (miss soderberg shout out).

I'm sure there are more, this is just an example. The Lord is FULL of mercy, lots of tender mercies daily. What has the Lord blessed you with lately? Think.. once you get going its hard to stop. Write some down and then give thanks to our loving Father in Heaven for his abundant grace :)

Wednesday, May 25

Fireflies and Love

"For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so,.. righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness,  neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad." -2nephi 2:11

This is something Sister Barnes and I are definitely growing our testimonies in these past couple weeks. Some pretty amazing things have happened. First off we had the wonderful opportunity to help prepare Julie for her baptism. This is the most happiest thing you get to experience: helping others come unto Christ. And as missionaries it our whole purpose to help others come to Christ by preparing them for baptism for the remission of sins! So this was pretty exciting, I've never felt so much joy, peace, and love all at the same time. 

Shortly after the baptism: we've had a few crazy days. One of them including ticks, chiggers, getting really sick from something I ate, and even our car breaking down all in the same 24 hrs. Despite all the opposition that has come the Lord still blesses us. Sometimes it takes a little extra effort to recognize even just the little miracles in our sometimes crazy lives. Like for example even though our car broke down it broke down just in time for us to turn  into our drive way and park it for the night. And even though we've experienced certain sadness's like sickness I was able to receive a powerful priesthood blessing which promised I would gain strength to do the work I needed to. Within one day of that blessing I'm back to normal and able to go about all I need to do. And despite all the gross bugs we were able to see fireflies for the first time! As you can see there truly is opposition in all things. And its all for our benefit to help us learn, grow, and most importantly learn to rely upon our Lord :). I know he hears and answers our prayers. I know we have a loving Father in Heaven who knows us very personally. If you're not quite sure about this, I invite you to pray and ask God. I know he will answer your prayer in a very distinct unique way you'll be able to recognize.

Walking home in the rain. Needless to say our sad walk turned into another miracle with a random LDS family who lived in Paducah drove by and picked us up. :)

Saturday, May 21

I am a Child of God

This is my goofy family. Colton (14), Mom, Cody (18), Robyn (24), Me (21), Annie (20). I love my family! It is in with my family that I  gain strength, courage, and love from. I've been blessed with a very humorous happy family. Though this picture may look like it ;), we are definetly not perfect. But as the years have gone on I have seen my family grow closer as we have gone through certain trials. What's most wonderful about my family is that we are each very DIFFERENT!

Colton for example is the youngest and probably the most goofiest in the family (with me coming in 2nd). He plays every sport and even though he is close to the size of a tooth pick he has the personality of a sumo wrestler.

My mom is one of the sweetest most caring people you will meet. She's always thinking of ways to be postive even when our basment gets flooded, moe's dug the 15th hole in our backyard, or even when death comes in the family. She always has a smile on her face.

Cody is the manly man in the family. He's always encouraging everyone around them to be tough and strong. Not to mention he's very shy but probably one of the funniest people I know.

Annie, is another shy case in the family, but is a super perfectionist. Everything is does is done with exactness and with her whole heart. She is super sweet and caring as well, she would never do anything to harm another person.

I'm just my own person, with my uniquness and colorfullness. And was known as the "drama queen" growing up.

And Robyn is the hippy of the family bringing world peace to all who come in contact with her not to mention she has really good taste and is definitely the fashion statement in the family.

Needless to say, just like my family, we all have our own personalities and traits. We are all children of a loving Heavenly father who knows us very individually. He knows our weaknesses as well as our strengths and is constantly calling out for us. I know this because I've seen it and felt it in my life. This video/ song is my favorite, it teaches and testifies so simply exactly who we all are, and that is: Children of God.

Wednesday, May 18

"Purple warm fuzzies,"

Coming to this point in my life wasn't easy, and honestly I never thought I would serve a mission till about 2 years ago. The story starts when I was 12 and made the decision to be baptized -well I'm sure the story starts well before that but for time sake we'll start here.

Robyn (my older sister), was my biggest influence for me to make this decision. She'd been going to church a few years before this and one day invited me. I remember the first day we attended church together was scary. It was just before I was 12, so while my sister went to a different Sunday school class I went to another. Besides feeling apprehensive to leave her I felt somewhat comfortable and at home. I remember loving teachers and kids who treated me as if they knew me their whole life. At the end of the meetings that beautiful sunny Sunday, my sister and I walked home. I remember thinking about how I felt when I went, and blurted out to my sister, "While I was in Sunday school today I felt this warm feeling, Do you know what it was?" Needless to say she didn't have an answer but I knew what I felt was good and I wanted to feel it more. Shortly after that I met with the missionaries and they taught me and prepared me to be baptized. They would come over and draw pictures of the restoration, plan of salvation, and the commandments. I don't remember much of what they taught me but I remember how I felt and it was the same way I felt that Sunday I went to church with my sister. I started noticing a pattern that every time I learned something more about the church I would have this warm feeling, my sister called it "purple warm fuzzies." Shortly after that my sister stopped coming to church and I went with my friends from church (mostly my leaders who would come pick me up, since we didn't have many youth at the time). It was hard watching my sister go her own path but at the same time I couldn't deny that warm feeling I had every time I met with the missionaries, read from the Book of Mormon, went to church, or even prayed.

Fast forward a little to 2009... for those 9 years I attended church pretty regularly and dedicated myself to following those warm feelings I continued to feel. In March 2009 one of the most devastating events happened in my life (I'm sure a lot worse could happen but at this point it was devastating), my Dad had suddenly passed away. This tore me up and really tried my faith, but I continued to be faithful to warm feelings I received from reading the scriptures, praying, and attending church. I found refuge in the teachings of Jesus Christ. As the days, months and year went on trying to face the fact that I couldn't physically talk to my dad anymore, I did a lot of thinking and pondering and a lot of this was done at my dad's graveside. One day I was sitting there pondering reading my patriarchal blessing  and I felt that warm feeling again that I needed to serve a mission. I felt a strong impression that it would greatly bless my family. I couldn't deny this feeling, so I went forward with faith and shortly after received the call to serve in Nashville, TN for 18 months. The joy that I've received from following this warm feeling is indescribable. I've watched the Lord bless my family and help me become happier than I ever thought I could. And now its my duty to invite everyone to listen to the message I have to share. Its a message of truth, restoration, love, and light. Its a message that will make you too, feel how I felt: warm, familiar, and happy. And now I can answer the question I once asked my sister, of what it was I felt: I know that the warm feeling I felt that sunny Sunday and all through out my life is the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost testifies of Truth (Alma 5:46-47). How grateful I am for this gift. You too can feel this way.

For more stories of Faith and Warmth: look on Alex Boye's is my favorite:

Alex Boye:"I was born in London England. I am a recording artist. I'm a Mormon." 

Monday, May 16

There is Sunshine IN MY SOUL TODAY!

This is me and my new companion SISTER BARNES! I love her! This picture shows a little bit how our companionship has worked so far. And that's unity with strength in the Lord! Through the Lord we can do anything. All that seems impossible becomes possible through Him. Isn't that wonderful?

Through Him I've been able to overcome some of my greatest weaknesses including shyness. He truly can make weak things become strong. I'm so excited to serve in Murray and with my NEW companion! I can already see how the Lord is blessing us and preparing people to receive His restored Gospel :).

Saturday, May 14

"An Anchor to the Souls of Men,"

In the Bible Peter declares: "Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you." (1peter 3:15).

What is this hope he is talking of? "Faith is rooted in Jesus Christ, hope centers in the atonement, charity is manifest in the 'pure love of Christ." -Russell M. Nelson.

I'm grateful for this hope within me! Often times I get the same question "why are you so happy?" It's because of the gospel of Jesus Christ that I am happy and that I have hope for the future.

Yesterday Sister Barnes and I had a particularly difficult day. It seemed that we were having weird experience after the next, rejection, and sadness. At first I let it get me down, especially when the soup I made during lunch exploded out of the microwave and somehow covered my whole front side. But this morning as I was studying I was reminded "when you have hope, you work through trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for your good." (PMG pg 117) Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ I can have a eternal perspective and hope for you future.

"The unfailing source of our hope is that we are sons and daughters of God and that His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, saved us from death." -James E Faust

"Wherefore whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world." -Ether 12:4 (Book of Mormon)

Wednesday, May 11

From Dickson to Murray

This past week I've gone from Dickson, Tennessee to Murray Kentucky. I was sad to leave but at the same time felt peace because I know that I'm still a servant of the Lord and will go where he needs me to go. I LOVE MISSIONARY WORK!

When Sister Barnes and I got to our new apartment on Tuesday we were there for about 30 min. and then traveled up to Paducah/ Metropolis Ill. where we met 8 Elders and sand bagged for the next couple days. It was some of the hardest work I've ever done but it was rewarding to know that all we do as missionaries is for the benefit of God's children and helping them come unto Christ. Just as Christ declares in Matt 11:28-29 "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." In life we all have some type of thing weighing us down, whether it's caused by a natural disaster or even just an inside concern, through Christ our burdens can be lifted. I watched this happen as 10 of us elders and sisters tried to help those in distress.

 I'm grateful for Christ and know that He lives. I know that through him we can find rest to our souls; all that we need to do is follow his invitation and "Come unto [him]."
Picture by Greg Olsen
                                             "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness." -John 12:46