We've had a wonderful time with our Jenna since she returned home. We've been trying to take it easy and let her adjust to this new life. She was released that night and we had a good meeting with the Stake Presidency on Sunday for a mission report. Derek and Jess were here when she got home and Kayli and Bronson came on the 22nd from Logan. It's been a fun Christmas! Her homecoming talk was on Christmas Day and was outstanding. We'll head out to Provo on the 5th of January for her to start the next chapter of her life.
She had a life-changing experience in Wisconsin and we're proud of her for serving so faithfully.
Well holy cow... I can't believe this is my last time emailing! I'll just give you a quick wrap-up of the week before closing out!
We've been busy as could be! I got to go to Fond du Lac on an exchange, and it was SUPER AWESOME because we got to do service at a members' farm! I didn't do anything super farm-y, haha, but I LOVED the atmosphere and those stalwart saints we served with! I feel so much love in my heart for beautiful Wisconsin and the people here. My goodness, I can't even express it. I LOVE WISCONSIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We've been getting a TON of snow lately... this weekend was the first big snowstorm, and they cancelled church in a lot of wards. Luckily we still got to have Sacrament meeting, but all the investigators we had lined up and ready to come to church bailed :( But Nicole, who we were so sad couldn't make it, sent us a text saying that even though she wasn't able to come to church, she has been reading the Book of Mormon every morning and every night, and feels the power of the Lord so much more in her life!!!! She feels that joining the church is the right step for her to be taking right now. Our hearts were so happy when we read that! I'm so excited for her!
We also stopped by Amanda and Karina and Charlotte's house - we haven't been able to see them in a while and were getting nervous. But we had a GREAT lesson with them and were able to reset Amanda's baptism date for January. She is so excited, she just needs to overcome some personal things before being baptized. The changes she's made ALREADY in her life to accept the gospel are truly miraculous - I can't wait to hear about the rest of her journey!
Alright so... I feel like I need to say something super profound or miraculous to package this nice little mission thing up. But I honestly can't fit into words how much it's meant to me, or all the things I've learned. Serving a mission has been a lot different than I expected, but it's been a joyful adventure, and I'm so excited to apply it to the rest of my life!
I've learned that sacrifice TRULY does bring forth the blessings of Heaven! And sacrifices in behalf of the Lord's work turn out to not even be sacrifices at all!
I've learned that the Book of Mormon is the INSPIRED WORD OF GOD!!!!!!!!!!! I've said that before in my life, many times, but now I know more about what that means!!! The Book of Mormon brings us closer to God than any other book - it teaches us the Doctrine of Christ and how to apply it into our lives personally! I've learned SO MUCH about being a missionary from that book, just as much as from Preach My Gospel! And I can't wait to allow the Book of Mormon to teach me about bringing the Lord into my student life and eventually family life of my own!
Speaking of which, I've learned that "eternal life is family life"! Heaven is all about relationships... if we think we can be happy living for OURSELVES, we're wrong!!!
I know that Joseph Smith truly is the Prophet of this dispensation! I know the Gospel NEEDED to be restored... I know it went missing! I have come to love nothing more than standing in the doorway of a strangers home with a smile on my face, bearing my testimony of Joseph Smith's first vision of God the Father and the Son! I know that event truly did happen!!!
And most importantly... I know Christ lives. I know He is who He says He is. I know that He cares about us, that He loves us, that He has done EVERYTHING in His power to bring us back to Him and our Father in Heaven, but it's up to US to accept His offering and His gift. I know the Atonement is REAL, that it lifts us, strengthens us, cleanses us from sin, and carries us, more than we will ever know or comprehend!!!! I love Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father and my heart is bursting with gratitude for Them and all They have done for me in my life. This includes bringing all of you into my life and letting me feel Their love and support through you!!!!!! THANK YOU!!!! I promise to always be "valiant in the testimony of Jesus," in the name of Jesus Christ, amen!
That's right, folks! The weather has been PRIME until this past week... the snow came down on Sunday and now it looks like it will be permanently cold and dreary! But we are so thankful that we had such a wonderful and LONG fall season!
❄ This week we were able to set a baptism date with Nicole! She is an incredibly sweet young mom who we found in the area book. Our mission president has been teaching us lately that area books are living and breathing things, because the people listed in them are constantly having new life experiences that are preparing them for the gospel. Nicole is evidence of that - she is so sincere in wanting to know if the message we share is true. She's a great example of FAITH!!!
❄ We found out this week that Amanda has read ALL THE WAY TO 2 NEPHI 31!!!!! And she knows that what she's reading is TRUE!!!! :) It's amazing, the power that book brings into peoples' lives!!!
❄ We got permission to go to a "worship night" with the V+15s at their church this week! That was interesting! I learned a lot, and you know, I was thinking... the lyrics to their worship music are all TRUE - but they don't mean as much without the knowledge of COVENANTS. Christ and His Atonement are truly phenomenal and mind-blowing, and sometimes it's hard to understand how such a broad and expansive event can apply to us personally... but we are blessed to know that it is through our COVENANTS that we are bound to Christ, and He to us... we can bring the power of the Atonement into the EVERY DAY when we are striving to fulfill our promises, because the Atonement is what enables us to TRY, and BECOME! I don't know if that makes any sense, but it was a beautiful thought that came to me as I was listening to the worship music! I will keep in contact with that family for SURE! They mean so much to me, even if their progression isn't happening right NOW. I know it will someday!!
Um, that's all I can think of to say. Each week as a missionary is pretty much the same. But each week is wonderful!!!
Next Monday is my last time emailing!! WHAAAT?!?!?! haha. CRAZY!
Enjoy the Christmas season, folks! :D
P.S. sorry, forgot my camera cord... no pictures today! which is a shame because I took some good ones this week!
There are so many things to be grateful for I don't even know where to begin!!! This week was wonderful and I really felt the Lord consecrating our efforts! First of all, Amanda, Karina, and Charlotte all came to church yesterday - it was Amanda's first time and she LOVED it!!!! She signed up to bring a salad to our ward Christmas party! And she's planning on coming to YW in excellence on Wednesday with Karina!!! It makes me so happy to see HER so happy and wanting to be involved! I was just reflecting on how much that family has changed since Sister Killian and I first met them 4 months ago... literally night and day difference! I AM GRATEFUL FOR THE WAY THE GOSPEL CHANGES LIVES!!!!!!!!!
Second! I AM GRATEFUL FOR THE WAY THE SPIRIT GUIDES US!!!!!! There were two days this week where we were TOTALLY exactly where we needed to be at EXACTLY the right times - without even realizing it until afterward! Here's an example: when Sister Tidwell and I were together in Kettle Moraine, we tracted into this man named Gary and shared the Book of Mormon with him! Well, this week WE MET GARY AGAIN!!!! In Neenah!!!!! Through a series of small "coincidences" that are too tiny and multitudinous to report! We were blown away. We were able to follow up with Gary's Book of Mormon reading and invite him to learn more, and even though he isn't currently interested, we both strongly feel that he's one of the elect! He just needs a little more time to be prepared!
I AM GRATEFUL FOR GOSPEL-STRONG SAINTS IN ALL PARTS OF THE WORLD! Even random small towns in Wisconsin! This Thanksgiving we were taken in by the Brickeys in the Neenah ward, who are absolutely wonderful and so kind and generous to us, and also by the Prusses, who are quite closely related to Sister Tidwell! I love feeling like I have a home away from home - what a blessing. I will never be able to adequately thank all the people who have made Wisconsin a precious sanctuary to me.
I AM GRATEFUL FOR TRADITIONS! Being raised in a family where Turkey Bowls are non-negotiable, I was SO grateful to get to play football on Thanksgiving morning - even if we WERE the only girls who showed up!
I AM GRATEFUL FOR MY COMPANIONS!!!! ALL of them!!!! I have so much joy and gratitude in my heart when I think of the lessons I learned from EACH of them that I couldn't have learned any other way! And Sister Tidwell continues to be a blessing to me!
I AM GRATEFUL FOR UGLY SWEATERS so we could re-enact last year's Christmas photos. So much has changed, and yet nothing has changed.. all at once!!!!
And definitely not last OR least.... I AM GRATEFUL FOR MY FAMILY!!!!!!!! There is nothing I crave more than to be surrounded by the ones I love FOREVER. So I AM ALSO GRATEFUL FOR THE SEALING POWER restored in these latter days!!!!
I love you all. Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful!!! thank you for the prayers.
I am just overflowing with gratitude right now for this mission thing. Gosh I'm not ready for it to end. I love Sister Tidwell so stinkin' much - she is the biggest tender mercy EVER. It's absolutely incredible how much she manages to build me up and help me grow and push myself and become better. We knocked our goals out of the park this week - well, the goals that were up to OUR agency. The goals that had to do with OTHER's agency, not so much... but I feel satisfied in knowing we're doing all we can to help people to come closer to Christ!!!
We had Zone Conference on Thursday, and it was amazing! Something really cool that happened was that Sister Tidwell and I were in charge of a 30 minute training on "finding," and 5 minutes of that was going to be about family mission plans, but when we got to Conference it became clear that "finding" wasn't what WE were supposed to train on. So we switched it up last minute and went up and trained for 25 minutes on family mission plans instead!!! And it went alright, but the coolest thing was that EVERY SINGLE THING we were GOING to say about "finding"... was said by somebody else! Literally, EVERY scripture reference, every planning idea, EVERYTHING! It was an evidence to me that the Spirit guided our planning (because we felt so strongly that "finding" was something the zone really needed to be trained on), and then guided the conference like CRAZY!!! I don't know if this makes any sense - but trust me, it was the coolest! And I love President and Sister Williams. They are ministering angels to us!
Amanda and Charlotte are now working towards a baptism date in December! We were so bummed, they weren't able to make it to church yesterday :( But it's important to them and they understand why it's important - next week they will be there for SURE!!!!! And we're going to do ALL we can to help them get there!!!!!!!!!!
Blitzes this week with Sheboygan - Sisters Garner and Reid. They're the cutest ever!!! A great companionship and I LOVE them!!!!
I am exhausted. I can't think of anything else to say.
Oh!!! TENDER MERCY!!!!!!!! Sister Tidwell and I saw BROTHER AND SISTER BONNER at Stake Conference yesterday!!! They are our sweet dear friends from KETTLE MORAINE!!!!! And we served there together!!! The Bonners were shocked to see that we are companions again, haha! But it was a SWEET reunion! THOSE TWO are ministering angels, too!!!! Brother Bonner is President Bonner now - he just got called to be a counselor in the Chicago temple presidency, under President Doll!
Well these first few days being reunited with Sister Tidwell has felt like a dream!!! I'm going to be her companion EXACTLY a year after we were companions before... which means I'll be with her for her YEAR MARK!!!! Never ever EVER expected or dreamed that would happen!!! But it really has been wonderful reminiscing and sharing the new experiences both of us have had since being companions!!! She is so incredibly WONDERFUL and CAPABLE and it brings my heart so much PEACE to know that she'll be carrying this area when I leave! I <3 SISTER TIDWELL!!!!!!
We had an AMAZING lesson with Karina, Charlotte, and Amanda!!! We invited Amanda to prepare for baptism with Charlotte and she ACCEPTED!!!!!! The Spirit was so strong!!! She has the greatest desires to follow Christ and change her life for the better! I know the Lord is working in that family to bring them into the fold - something that they have been needing and missing for a long time! They were going to work towards November 26th, but didn't make it to church yesterday, so now they'll be working towards a date in December. (Amanda's phone died in the middle of the night on Saturday so the alarm didn't go off, so they missed church. Bahh!!!! Can I just take a moment to say that Satan works RIDICULOUSLY HARD on people who are preparing for baptism? I KNOW I'm not the only one who's experienced this... Just kinda shows how TRUE the church is though!!!)
One of my FAVORITE PEOPLE EVER, Miss Cherie, had a birthday on the same day as my Mom's birthday - Nov. 12th! We celebrated with her on Sunday and it was a tender mercy because I know my family was celebrating my mom's birthday too! Cherie requested marbled cupcakes with green frosting... haha wherever that idea came from! But we made them and they turned out great!
It gets dark at 4:30 here now! So that's cool.
It's supposed to snow this weekend.
That's about it for the week! Sorry to not have any exciting stories... just know we're doing great and life is wonderful and I'm so grateful for all of you!!!
That's right everyone! Karina got baptized yesterday!!!! It was a wonderful baptism - so many people from the ward came to support her, and there were great talks and beautiful music too. But the best part was definitely when Karina came up out of the water, and I heard Amanda (Karina's nonmember mom) whisper under her breath, "That was beautiful." (and then Charlotte, the nine year old, said, "That was weird." haha.) But baptism really is beautiful! I LOVE the symbolism and the power of the Priesthood that can be felt in that holy moment of redemption. It was a lot of work but a really great day! And because of the Regional Conference yesterday, Karina will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost next Sunday! So we'll keep working with her really closely up until then. Also, we were talking to Amanda before the baptism and found out that she quit smoking 2 weeks ago and is working on quitting coffee so she can "take all this more seriously." THAT is repentance!!!! And it is beautiful!!!!! We are SO excited for the spiritual progress of this wonderful family!!!!!
So yeah we had a Regional Conference yesterday! Which apparently all my Colorado people were watching too! That made me happy :) It was great - a lot of talk about temples, which is always good to hear. Our mission policy just changed so we are no longer able to attend the temple in our mission, which is really sad, BUT when I was pondering about it, I decided that when we don't have things for a season, we often appreciate them MORE when we have them back. So I'm making goals for temple attendance when I am back in temple boundaries! :)
We also had the opportunity this week to BLITZ Sheboygan! (Meaning Sister Killian and I drove down to Sheboygan and worked with the Sisters there for a day!) I was with Sister Reid - this is her first transfer! - and it was cool because she had a lot of the same questions and struggles that I had in MY first transfer forever ago!!!! But I could see so much potential for GOOD in her work ethic and attitude. It was an honor to work with her for the day and we found an AWESOME new family!!!! (and an added bonus: I can now say I've driven all the way around Lake Winnebago!)
Well transfers are coming up on Wednesday, and today we found out the transfer news.... Sister Killian is getting transferred to Wausau, and GUESS WHO IS COMING HERE TO REPLACE HER?!?!?! SISTER TIDWELL!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's right!!!!! My little bestie from Kettle Moraine!!!!!!!!!!! I am so beyond thrilled!!!!!! These next five weeks are going to be the BEST WEEKS EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't think of anyone I'd rather spend my last transfer with!!!!!!!! :D :D :D She is exactly what I prayed for!!!!!!!!!!