Tuesday, January 9, 2018

President Monson passed away...and it is almost my turn

In the mission we have terminology that equate mission life to real life. We say your first area in the mission is your “birthplace”, your trainer is your “mom”, your trainee is your “daughter”, and so on. So we are born into the mission and we die leaving the mission. Eagle River and Mount Baldy is where I come to “die”. It’s just something funny we, missionaries, do. As most of you know, President Monson, our prophet, passed away this week. It has been a cool teaching moment to explain to people how a prophet is called and how Jesus Christ is still the head of this Church. There is order to our religion and that is because it is the same Church that Jesus Christ established almost 2 centuries earlier, and now has been restored. We continue to see miracles happen in the area and it makes me not want to leave. Here are the highlights:

P-day: We went hiking at Thunderbird Falls again. We went with just the sisters in the area. It was us, the sisters of Colony, Lazy Mountain, and Cottonwood. Wasilla couldn't come. This is my fourth time hiking the trail but this time was the most fun by far. The waterfall was iced over!! The falls were still flooding down water but we were able to walk up to sit on top of it because of all the ice. Later that evening after dinner we walked out and I slid down the stairs because of the frozen rain that left its wonderful gift for us. (Can you hear the sarcasm?) I liked the ice on the hike but not when we have to walk in it for our day to day activities. That fall came with another gift: a ginormous bruise on my backside. At least it only hurt for the first two days and is on in the process of healing. 

Zone Conference and Interviews: We had our zone conference this week. We were told at 9:30pm the night before that Sister Jewel and I are to give a training on the language of prayer. Our zone conference started at 8:30am in the morning. You can see why someone might be a little frustrated, but we did it and President Toone was in the back fist pumping basically saying we nailed our training :). That made me happy! It was Sister Jewel’s 21st birthday that day so she even prayed before we left how thankful she was that the zone was coming out for her birthday celebration and them just calling it “zone conference”!!! :D. Her birthday present was getting a smartphone! 162 missions are getting smartphones this transfer. In just a week we have seen how this tool can help further the work of the Lord. I was told the day before that I would be having my exit interview with President after zone conference as well. An exit interview is a departing missionary interview where we talk with our mission president about our mission and go over some logistical things in preparation for returning home. He began with a prayer and I started tearing up. We talked about all sorts of things and even about school when I go home. It took an hour and he had me give the closing prayer. I have done a good job at not being trunky (mission term where you basically have your bags packed [old term trunk] and are ready to go) but I got emotional during the prayer. It is hard to leave the mission where this has been your life for the last year and a half. Big changes are coming and it is hard to let go. I still have over two weeks left but I am just being reminded of the time coming to an end. It is crazy that at some moments in my mission I am so ready to go home and just want this to all be done and over with but my last transfer on the mission has been the busiest and now I don’t want to leave. 

Service: It snowed a lot on Wednesday of this week so we spent some proselyting time shoveling people’s driveways. We chose to shovel Nicole’s driveway before she wakes up and goes to work. We were just about done when she came out of her house. We don’t do service to receive recognition but it felt great to see her so thankful. We helped with her neighbor’s driveway who was out shoveling and then did a member’s while we were on their street. 

Returned Appointments: In our zone we are having a little competition to see who can give out the most copies of the Book of Mormon and have return[ed] appointments meaning that we don’t just have to receive a return appointment from a potential investigator, but we must actually follow up and have the returned appointment. We are in the lead for the latter. We have had so many lessons this week and it has been awesome. We had two lessons on Wednesday with dinner in between. We brought the Tovars with us to Patrick’s lesson which went great and they were a big help and had our first official lesson with Leah which was amazing. She teared up a bit talking about her relationship with her mom and we equated that to her relationship with her Heavenly Father. Oh she is so elect (meaning she is so prepared for the gospel at this time). We had a lesson with the Hinckleys (which doesn’t count for the competition since these are new member lessons, but I wanted to add it here because it went so well). We had Brother Stewart and his eldest son come as members present and they helped a lot as we read from the BOM teaching about prophets. We helped them understand about calling prophets with the example of how President Nelson is now our acting President of the Church. For exchanges Sister Fa’anunu and I taught this family that the elders tracted into and the mom was so much engaged and with conviction said she would read the BOM!!! The member we brought, her name is Dixie, is preparing to serve a mission and after we left she was like, “that was amazing! Are they always like that?” We didn’t have the heart to tell her no so we replied, “not always”. We were glad her first experience with teaching lessons went well and she now has more excitement to serve a mission. Nicole’s lesson, which also doesn’t count towards the returned appointments because she is a progressing investigator, went well though. We taught the Plan of Salvation and she loved it. Our last lesson was with Scott who is pretty devoted to his faith. We had tracted into him a couple weeks before and were just able to meet with him now. We brought Brother Walser with us and that lesson was amazing. He wrote down so many questions he had about the BOM, mainly scriptures he found online that were different to him. The Spirit was so strong as we were testifying of Joseph Smith and about the BOM. We hope we can still continue to teach him!! 

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Will you be baptized?...Of Course!

I have less than a month before I come home! I don’t know where all the time goes. It has been getting pretty cold lately so this week I wore double layers. That seemed to help a ton. Here are the highlights:
Last P-day with Sister Johnson: For her last p-day we went to take pictures at the Nature Center in Eagle River but it was very cold outside so we didn’t stay for too long. We did some shopping and later did her funeral. Sister Jewel and I changed the lyrics to White Winter Hymnal to words about Sister Johnson and sang it to her at her funeral. We each then wrote advice to her on pieces of paper. This is just something fun Missionaries do when missionaries are going home. One of the programs we made was accidentally left in the Relief Society room so some of the members happened to see it...oops. Once they understood what it was they were laughing but I can see how some people might actually think a missionary died. Sister Johnson, may she Rest In Peace in paradise of California. 

Bri: Some of the elders tracted into Bri during a zone/district tract Saturday and scheduled an appointment for us to come back to share the #Lighttheworld video with her after district meeting on Wednesday. We came back and she was super nice. We talked to her a little bit about eternal families and she seems interested in learning more and mainly having gospel conversations. She taught us a little about what Catholics believe. Hopefully we can teach her more in the future. 

Baptism: So on Thursday we saw on Facebook one of the members had posted a picture of their twins who were getting baptized on Saturday. We used that as an opportunity to invite Nicole, one of our investigators, to come. She came and it went great! Three kids ended up getting baptized which was cool for her to see and the talks given were directed towards the kids so it was definitely easy to comprehend and spoken very simply. We had a lesson with her right afterwards which we finished teaching the Restoration. When we asked her if she would be baptized, she said “of course”! Later that day we were trying by some of the part-member families after tracting and got in with the family that had moved in not too long away that we miraculously found. After we shared a video with them the mom brought up that her 10 year-old wants to be baptized! So we set up a lesson with them for this Wednesday!! So exciting!!!

5 Hours of Church: I don’t think I’ll ever complain about having 3 hours of church again. Because we are covering two wards we go to two hours of Eagle River Valley and 3 hours of Mount Baldy. After Gospel Principles class (which one of the part-member families stayed for!) this guy asked us to talk with him in the hallway. We just thought it was like a referral or something but he gave us $100. He said he was a missionary once too and knows how tight we are on money. When we asked him his name he said he better not give it. That was super sweet of him to do that! 

As happy as I am to be going home soon it is hard to leave when such wonderful miracles are happening in this area. I love teaching the gospel and seeing people’s desire to change their life  to follow the Savior, Jesus Christ, increase. Being an instrument in the Lord’s hands to further His work is a true blessing. We just get a taste of happiness of what our Heavenly Father feels for His children. 

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas miracles while beatboxing

So normally I go through our area book to see what had all happened this week and so much has been happening but I don’t have the time to write it all. I will try to condense it all but forewarning, this email will be long. 

Caroling: We did a lot of caroling this week. We went to a Relief Society activity in the Mount Baldy ward last Tuesday and had the opportunity to meet a lot of sisters in the Ward. And we had the opportunity to do some caroling there. We set up a time to do some caroling with the ward missionaries in the MB Ward (who are all Laurels in the Young Womens) and carol to some members of their ward. We were doing a lot of our own caroling as a form of tracting and found some people who have attended some activities with members of the Church in the past. We also have been caroling as our way of visiting part-member families that we want to stop by and visit once every other week. We had dinner with some members in the MB ward and they said they were going caroling that evening and invited us to join. Their son who was home for the holidays is a beatboxer which made caroling a lot more fun. We even caroled with some of the elders in our district when we tracted and gave out cookies. It was a lot of fun and was cool to see how music brought the Spirit so quickly to people’s homes. 

Elizabeth: We got invited to a dinner group happening at the Pearch’s home. While we were there we were introduced to a lady named Elizabeth who wasn’t a member. Her and I just clicked. A lot of things she is going through right now I have gone through while on my mission so we bonded over a lot of similarities. I sat with her through the dinner and got to know her. She is Seventh Day Adventist but said she wants to learn more about our beliefs to see “the path we walk”. She is up here to do some custody things and is moving to Oklahoma shortly but mentioned she has to clean her house the following day. We offered to help and it was so amazing that all the people who were there helping her clean her house were members of the Church, a church she doesn’t even belong to. It is great to see people having positive experiences with members that pull them to want to know the truth of the gospel. The gospel can allow them true happiness and enable them to have their families be together forever. Elizabeth came to church on Sunday which was fantastic. 

Christmas: On Sunday we attended our two wards’ Christmas programs. Eagle River Valley was packed to listen to all the wonderful music. Sister Galloway played the violin beautifully. An investigator in the Westchester boundaries who attends our ward because he is dating a member got baptized on Saturday in Anchorage but got confirmed in our ward. The Westchester elders (all four of them) came to our sacrament meeting. We got roped into singing with the choir in Mount Baldy so in between the two services we practiced the songs. We did pretty well considering we got the music two days prior to the performance. The Mount Baldy ward had a balance of music and talks given. We tried our best to say hi to people who weren’t members after each service. We had lunch with some members in the Eagle River Valley ward after church which was great. I talked to the husband who is the bishop of one of the YSA wards and teaches institute. Later we visited with the Watson family and was able to talk to Leah, one of the potential investigators the elders were working with, and set up a time to come back to talk more about the gospel with her. The next day on Christmas we got up and opened all our presents at 6:30am. My mom was very crafty with the gifts this year making them all about missionary work. It was great to FaceTime with my parents. As much as it may seem to make a missionary trunky for home, it helps motivate me to finish strong. I get the information I need when I talk to them and then I can move on and focus on missionary work. 

Tracting Miracles: We went tracting Saturday during our district tract in our area and had decided that we were going to tract a street that didn’t get finished when we had our mega tract in the beginning of the month. We had knocked on 6 doors and of those 4 answered. The first house we went to was trying by a potential the elders had tracted into during the mega tract that we have yet to get a hold of since. She and her husband were finally home packing up their house to move soon. We talked to them a bit and found they have a lot of family members who are members of the Church. They didn’t seem interested in wanting to be taught the gospel so instead we offered to help them clean their house for their move. We set up an appointment for this Firday. Hopefully that will help a little for us to be able to have a gospel conversation. Also the best part is that they are moving from the the Eagle River Valley boundaries to the Mount Baldy ward boundaries which we now cover as well which is amazing. The next house that answered was this lady who seemed to have just gotten out of the shower. Surprisingly, she let us come in to share with her the #LightTheWorld video and her and her mom watched it. We told her about the BOM and she accepted a copy and we set up a return appointment for this Thursday! The next house that answered was this military guy who also agreed to watch the video. He did mention he attended a different church which just makes it even more amazing that he accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon. We got a return appointment with him for later this week! The last house we tracted into was another military guy. He was wearing a Texas Rangers shirt which made for an easy ice breaker conversation. He watched the video, accepted a copy of the BOM and made a return appointment!! Afterwards I was so elated that I found a patch of snow for me to make my first snow angel in Alaska. I normally don’t do that because I don’t want to get wet but I was too happy to care. Such a wonderful experience. Tracting does work if you are following the Spirit. 

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

12 Days of Christmas...actually it’s in 7 now. What?!?!

Well I think I have broken records now of the many areas I have served in with the amount of companions. This past week we have transfers and the elders who were serving in Mount Baldy both went home. We then took over their area and now have two wards at once. What are we a Utah mission? Here’s my final record: 8 areas, 4 companionships (two repeats with Sister Williams and Sister Jewel), and 4 pink-washes (replace elders). No one in this mission can say they have those statistics.  Here are the highlights for this week:

P-day: We made our own Christmas cards to send out. Fun! We had funerals for Elder Barney and Elder Smith. It was fun and just something silly we can do to say goodbye to departing missionaries. We did journal signing a bit and some more the next day and said our goodbyes. After p-day fun we went to a dinner group’s white elephant gift exchange. I re-gifted a gift I was given and it was the first present chosen and the first gift to be frozen! I ended up with a game called Switcharoo! We played it a little, my companions and I, right before bed and it was fun but challenging. 

Transfer day: We had to get our oil changed so while we were driving to Anchorage we set up an appointment to do it there. The worker at Big Mike’s named Kevin started talking to us about the Church. I feel like I know how to be a missionary now when I’m about to go home. I was like, “what’s your hold up?” He kept saying that someday he will go inside the Church. Someday is not today. We told him about chapel tours and he was interested in that wanting to do that to help with his fear and anxiety. We switch companions at the Brayton chapel and we got Sister Jewel. We had a chapel tour scheduled later that day with Nicole. That went so well and she said she feels like this is where she is supposed to be. We talked about baptism and she brought up some concerns about her husband. She is amazing though! We had Sister Betz come as our member present which she said a lot of things that Nicole has expressed in the past and Sister Betz had no idea. Oh the Spirit!! Because we found out like the day prior we were getting Mount Baldy so we cancelled our dinner appointment because the elders had scheduled a dinner with this part-member family which was awesome! Later that evening we met with our other ward mission leader Brother Kammer and got the low down on the ward and missionary efforts. 
Saturday: We started the day off with a ward Christmas brunch which a lot of members came to. Our stake’s goal is to flood Eagle River with the Book of Mormon. They ordered 12 cases of the Book of Mormon (which is 40 copies of the Book of Mormon each) to give to the wards to spread the BOM. Later that day we were trying by a potential investigator and saw some people with a moving trailer so we walked by offering to help. We saw it was one of our members and that they were almost done. We came back after trying the potential and wanted to ask the members if they would fellowship Nicole who lives right across the street. We didn’t realize until later but it was our members who were helping their neighbors move in. Sister Jewel doesn’t know too many people yet, let alone faces to the names of people, so she walks up to the neighbor and asks her if she would fellowship our investigator... Sister Johnson, for the win, goes up and saves her by saying “friend”. I had no idea about any of this happening because I saw the member we needed to talk to and went to ask her while all this was going down. Afterwards I go back with them and introduce myself to the neighbor. My companions had already invited her to church for the next day and used the reason of us singing to invite. That evening we had dinner with the Burrups (I love the Burrups) and we helped them deliver their 12 days of Christmas gift to a family in the ward. We think they totally know who it is. That evening the Burrups hosted a gingerbread house making party. We decorated ours as the temple! With a lot of members there we used that as an opportunity to tell them about chapel tours and inviting them to pray about a friend they could bring to do a chapel tour with us.

Sunday:  We sang, "O Little Town of Bethlehem", which the piano sounded amazing.  The accompaniment changed it into a more eerie sound; very mysterious, which I love.  We had a church marathon because we had back to back church meetings.  Eagle River Valley starts at 9am and Mount Baldy is at 11am.  We had a meeting with Brother Kammer and some Laurels who are ward missionaries right after church.  By the time we got home to eat, it was 3pm.  Our tender mercy for that day was one of the member in MB gave us some muffins and cupcakes.  That tied us over until we actually had lunch.  We had to do some switching around with the dinner calendar because we don't want to have double dinners for two weeks straight.  We found out we have our P-Day next week on Tuesday because of Christmas.  After Christmas shopping ?!  Oh yeah!!!

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Line Upon Line, Miracles Upon Miracles

What a week. I thought last week had all the miracles but this week had an overflow from last week. Though would you all pray for snow? I know that sounds ridiculous coming from someone living in Alaska but we need it. We have gone through a heat wave and the roads are just covered in ice. Sister Yeates has fallen a couple of times from the ice but she realizes the more you fall the easier it is to get up. What a life lesson we can learn from that. Here are some highlights:

Lessons: We had a lesson with Sheyla about temples with Sister Fitzpatrick as a member present. It went great because Sister Fitzpatrick works at the temple once a week and was able to share her testimony of how going to the temple gives her peace and enjoyment and helps her to have an eternal perspective to life. Since we found Sheyla’s records we are helping her to work towards going to the temple and she is very excited to do family history work. Later in the week we had a lesson with the Hinckleys. One of their sons and the husband are fairly recent converts so we are finishing the new member lessons. One of their other sons is not baptized so we are trying to work with him too. We forgot they had changed the time of our lesson with them so we were a bit late but were able to teach obedience in 15 minutes by using an analogy of a kite. The boys seemed to like it.

Tracting Miracles: Well we went back to Rhiannon and she told us that she is not wanting to explore other churches right now as she is just now attending a church since she was 7 years old. We will still keep in contact and hopefully can still teach her a little bit about how this gospel can improve the quality of her life. Right after having somewhat of sad news to not teach her automatically we went tracting and one of the first few houses we knocked on was this woman named Kim who let us come in to share the #LightTheWorld video. She cried. She was overcome with the Spirit and said her daughter who is 7 is asking questions and wants religion. We set up a time for her to come have a church tour. We practiced doing a chapel tour the next day with our ward mission leader which went really well. The day we scheduled to have the tour we got a text from her saying basically her husband is not for it which was really sad. Okay so these two tracting miracles ended in tracting blues but then there is Nicole. The elders tracted into her the same mega tract day and we went back and caught her at the perfect time when she was waking up before going to work for her graveyard shift. We set up an appointment to come back and we were beside ourselves. She said she wants to go to a church that is a community with each other and teaches about truth to help us in our lives and not go for the rock bands and that such. With my mouth dropped we told her that this is the Church she is looking for. We taught her the first half of the restoration and she was excited to read the Book of Mormon. It is like The Lord let her fall into our laps. What a tender mercy and miracle for us after so much hard work lately. 

Facebook Video: We were at dinner with the Palmers and we asked them what their ideas were of doing something with children that can be shared on social media. The Light the World scripture of the following day was Mark 10:14: “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” As missionaries we are limited on what we can do with children as it can turn into legal complexities if people want to take advantage of the Church. They came up with the idea to video children’s testimonies about Christ. We asked some members nearby who had kids if we could do this and post it on Facebook and it was awesome. The kids really enjoyed it and it was fun for us. It was a bit stressful having to work only in the bounds of our photos app’s video editing resources but it turned out the best a missionary could do. 

Double District Meeting: Okay this is just another way of saying zone meeting. Zone meetings use to be a thing in the past prior to having zone conferences and interviews every transfer. We had this meeting to talk about all the announcements being discussed in MLC and to come up with our goals for baptism in December.  It was needed and cool to have some input to what our zone goals will be. 

Transfer calls: Normally the sisters get our transfer calls on Thursday night but that didn’t happen this time. President Toone was up in Fairbanks for zone conference and then coming back they had to sleep in the airport and fly out the next morning. Long story short we got our calls Saturday afternoon. Sister Johnson and I are staying and Sister Yeates is going to be with SIster Vellinga in South Anchorage in the Jewel Lake and YSA wards. Guess who is coming here? Sister Jewel!!!! I was called to greenie break her after my first area but then emergency transferred to Soldotna after a week. I got to know Sister Jewell pretty fast and always wanted to serve with her again. Well now she gets to kill me! (“Kill me” means that she will be my companion right before I go home—like you die on a mission if we relate a mission life to real life). She is getting a double kill. We will kill off Sister Johnson who is going home a half a transfer early for school right after Christmas and I die at the end of January. It is gong to be so much fun. 

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden 

“I Believe in Miracles”

Well the weather this week got above freezing which means the snow was starting to melt. It, of course, refreezes over night so we were ice skating on Sunday. Seems like the weather is going to continue like this for the coming week. So much to tell and no time to tell it. Here are some fun highlights though:

Miracles: So we were told by other missionaries that this part-member family moved into our ward boundaries this week and all we were told was the mother’s first name, the street they lived on, and that they had a black suburban. That is not much to go on especially since it is a pretty big street. We tried one house that evening and asked if they knew of any of their neighbors who had moved in recently. We decided to give up then because it was too dark at 5:30pm at night. We planned to tract the street the next day and the time we chose was apparently the time all the kids were coming home from school. We were just trying to find a place to park when Sister Yeates motioned to a house she saw with a black van in the garage and a For Sale sign shown sold on the lawn that we should try first. Lo and behold it was them. We just did a tracting approach to share the new #LightTheWorld video. She mentioned they had just moved in not too long ago and when we asked her name we knew we had found it. Cue the Hallelujah chorus! We set up a time for us to come help them unpack boxes which was fun. 

Other Miracles: Got Panda Express twice in a row!!! One of our members asked us where we wanted to go eat and because Panda just opened in Eagle River I was so excited to go. The next day our dinner had to cancel so she gave us money which for dinner we took Sister Burdick with Sister Yeates and I to Panda for exchanges! Another miracle was that the senior couple in our district bought us all paper towels, tissue boxes, a whole case of apples from Costco and a bunch of bananas. The next day the same member who gave us money for dinner also bought us groceries!!! We are so loved.

Sheyla: We had a lesson with her last week of her telling us of some stresses she is having and she wanted a blessing. With everyone being sick we couldn’t get it to work out. We had a lesson with her at the Krage’s house who was then going to give her a blessing but he couldn’t get another priesthood holder there in time. Sheyla ended up going to the hospital for her nose and we were kinda freaking out because she is pregnant. She is fine and the baby is fine. She was able to get a blessing for both her health and for guidance on Sunday which was a cool experience. 

Annett: We have begun teaching Annett who lives in Anchorage but has a friend who attends the Beach Lake ward that she feels comfortable attending with but then wants to be taught by sisters. She is super sweet and has had some hard experiences in her past but it is cool to see how far she has come. She just wants to learn which is great because we just want to teach!! Her fellowshipper is great and was even extending the baptism comment to her instead of us. So cool. We will continue to keep working with her. 

Zone Service: We were told the day before that the whole zone was signed up to do service for the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and Winter Festivities. We had orange vests on and us sisters were in charge of helping with the line to see Santa. It was a great opportunity to talk to people because they can’t go anywhere but wait in line for their kids to see Santa. Totally maxed the standard of excellence for the day! We took lots of pictures afterwards and had fun as a zone. 


Mega Tract: So for our mission we want to have a “White Christmas” meaning to have a lot of people be baptized in white for the month of December. Our area isn’t so hot in the teaching pool department but we have been trying to find people to teach. The zone leaders thought instead of just zone tracting in one person’s area to do three areas in 4 hours on Saturday. We did an hour and a half in Beach Lake’s, and hour in Mount Baldy’s and an hour and a half in ours until 4pm in the afternoon. Oh we were so tired but we found potentials of people interested in learning more. We found a girl named Sarah who lives right next door to one of our members. We are doing a survey approach to ask people questions to get a feel for how well they would respond to our message. After getting her opinion on a few things we shared with her the Book of Mormon and she committed to read it! We are so excited about that. Later we get information from the elders if they have any referrals for us to try by whom they felt would be open to the gospel discussions. We went back the next day to some and got in with one. Her name is Rhiannon and she is super sweet. We shared with her the #LightTheWorld video which she really liked and introduced her to the Book of Mormon. She seemed eager to read it. We have an appointment with her on Wednesday. Did my happy dance a lot this weekend.

The Lord is willing to help us if we turn to Him and do our part. I do believe we can accomplish miracles with the Lord’s help and have faith that it can be accomplished. 

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden

Monday, November 27, 2017


I look back at our area book to see all that happened this week and it amazes me what all happens in just one week. I constantly think that these events happened forever ago and not just this past week. I can’t include everything that happens but here are a few:

P-day: We got asked two days before to help a family move on Monday. Normally we don’t do service on our p-days but it was really late notice to get many people from the ward to help and not sure if anyone who could help saw the FB post our ward mission leader sent on the ward page. It was just us and Sister Galloway, the member who notified us about the opportunity to help move her neighbors who aren’t members. We were able to talk to them a bit about the church and found out they have attended before. We were helping to clarify misunderstandings about the Doctrine of our church. Later we went shopping and played a bit with the elders before going to dinner. That night we did an FHE with some members who then helped us to photograph pictures for #LightTheWorld. 

Birthday: My birthday was Tuesday and I turned 24. We had district meeting which went a little long and then worked on Facebook. I have learned to not ask questions on or around your birthday because it takes the fun out of being surprised. My comps had planned a surprise party for me with the sisters in Palmer and told me we got permission from the Zone Leaders to go take pictures in Chugiak. They played it off that they needed to get wifi for directions and stopped at Colony chapel where the Colony and Lazy Mountain sisters were there to help celebrate. We had a lesson scheduled with some former investigators that evening. They are super nice but aren’t interested in changing churches right now. 

Door: Wednesday morning Sister Johnson realized that she had left her iPad in the car all night long. We were putting our coats on for this freezing weather (it hit the negatives this week). We couldn’t get the door to open and eventually Sister Johnson climbed out the window to then open it from the other side. It seemed like our door was just frozen shut. We carried on throughout our day and later that night we were returning home from the ward Pie Night social from the bishop’s house to find it hard to get in through the door. I would just like to mention that I did not touch the key nor the door this entire time. My comps were trying their best to try to unlock the door but it seemed stuck. One of my companions tried it again and saw the key was starting to turn but soon realized it was just the key turning and not the lock. She pulled it out with the broken piece attached by its last thread and then the key broke in her hands. We called the landlord and she was just happy that it didn’t break inside the lock. We waited in our heated car for the landlord to come with another key and we called our new investigator to get to know her over the phone. She lives in Anchorage but goes to church with a close friend of hers in the Beach Lake Ward here in Eagle River. She has had some traumatizing experiences in the past and right now is only comfortable to be taught by female missionaries. So we are beginning to teach her but are trying to do our best to help her transition to be in the ward she is suppose to attend. 

Thanksgiving: We party hopped as we always do but this year I paced myself with food and ended up only having two dinners with one set of desserts. I didn’t take seconds at either which was good but it didn’t have the same feel to it as most Thanksgivings do where you gorge yourself. Our ward mission leader suggested that we sing for people we visit because singing the hymns helps to bring the Spirit the quickest. We tried it as we went to people’s houses for Thanksgiving. Brother Holt, our WML, said he was inviting a nonmember family over and wanted us to stop by but not wanting it to seem like he had invited us. So we stopped by at a random time and we talked to everyone for a little bit and then we sang For the Beauty of the Earth. Afterwards we shared Alma 26:37 “Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.” A couple days later on Saturday we got a text from the Arctic Valley elders that they met the family we sang to on Thanksgiving (they were shown as formers in their area book) and they are now their newest investigators!!!!! Tender mercies and it is so cool to see that an action of ours helped them to start wanting to visit with the missionaries. Miracles. 

Needing Pie: On Facebook Friday morning we saw that one of our members had reached out to Sheyla in fellowshipping her on our group chat we had created which was awesome and that Annett was responding to some Thanksgiving messages on a group chat as well. It was a tender mercy to open up facebook messenger and see that.  The rest of the day was long and tiring and we were just in the need for some pie. We figured there might be some members who are in need of getting rid of pie! We first thought of Sister Betz who makes the best desserts ever and gave her a text. Later that night she was excited that we had asked. She said her mother-in-law was in town visiting that wasn’t a member and thought we should come by and share a message. For some pie... I think we can make that happen. :) She made this amazing pumpkin cheesecake that was to die for. I love this time of year because pumpkin is in season. We shared with them the new #LightTheWorld video for the Church’s Christmas Campaign with the advent calendar and they loved it. Sister Betz was very grateful we came by and for us it felt inspired that we asked her for some pie and having that want for pie turn into a missionary moment.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden