Monday, November 28, 2016

Anchorage Bound - Let the Greenie Breaking begin !!!

Thanks for the flowers
Mom & Dad

My birthday was on P-day last Monday, which made it extra fun! We went on a nature walk supposedly to a frozen waterfall, but surprisingly it is not that cold enough here for us to walk on the river yet.  The water was half frozen but not enough for us to cross.  So we just took a bunch of pictures.

On Wednesday we had lunch with some recent converts from the Eagle River area where Sister Gardner recently served. They are super nice and funny.  We did service which lasted 30 minutes.  Elder Rogers threw a piece of wood and accidental hit Sister Gardner in the arm.  No damage done - thank goodness.  That evening we had a lesson with some less actives and drew on the iPad while teaching.  It was pretty cool.

For Thanksgiving we visited a lot of members in the ward. One of my favorite families was putting up their Christmas tree on Thanksgiving.  We ate at our Bishop's home and I taught some of their daughters the Tongan shuffle.  It is a weird move/dance that my Tongan friends did to create more room in their bellies for food. Surprisingly, it works.  I had room for seconds and a huge piece of pie.  I was worried that we would get over fed but we weren't.  So thankful for that. 
So my Ipad broke Monday evening so I had to go a few days without one, but then my Mission President came up to conduct an exit interview with one of my companions who is going home.  He brought me a loaner Ipad while mine is getting fixed. Apparently that hasn't happened to many missionaries, so I am grateful that I am blessed to receive a loaner.

Saturday one of the members in our ward cut my hair.  She went to beauty school for over a year.  I am just so grateful that I was able to get it cut.  I have had so many split and dead ends.  It feels so much healthier now.

Yesterday was my last Sunday in this ward.  I am getting transferred to Anchorage in the Huffman Ward on Wednesday.  I will be "greenie breaking" Sister Jewel, who came out a transfer after me.  I will be in the Anchorage Zone - not to be confused with the North Anchorage Zone.  Two of our investigators came to church and Sister Gardner and I bore our farewell testimonies for the ward.

Our new convert Timothy
 and his son, Ritchie 
Nick and his daugher Kia,
our two investigators
I am so thankful for this time that I have spent in the Lazy Mountain Ward in Palmer.  I have been so blessed to have served my time in this area and spoiled to have this place as my first area.  I will forever remember these members, but I am excited for the new adventures and the opportunity to serve the people in Anchorage.

Our Ward Mission Leader, Bro. Miner vacuuming his bear skin

Christmas lights get turned on at 3pm each day
due to the decrease of sunlight each day.

Sent from Palmer, AK !!!

Sister Shelley Willden

Monday, November 21, 2016

We had a cool experience this week.  Not that anything amazing happened, but we know the Lord guides us to who we need to see.  We had one of our ward missionaries out with us and both back-to-back lessons cancelled on us so we decided to go visit other investigators.  It is rare that both NIck and his daughter Kia are home at the same time.  Either she has the car for work and Nick is stuck at home or she is home from work and Nick can use the car for errands.  But this time both were home and we had a member present (Normally when we have a member scheduled to come with us the investigator cancels and they don't even know the member is coming.  (That Adversary - He is the worst!)  During the lesson when we were teaching about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Nick was basically testifying to Kia that what we are teaching is true and that he is reading the Book of Mormon to gain a testimony that Joseph Smith is the man whom Jesus Christ told his ancestors would come.  We all just had chills the entire time and it was a lot more meaningful for the father to testify the truthfulness to his daughter.  The thought came to my mind that once he is baptized and fully coming to church regularly, he will never leave this church.  I don't know if that will be true but it brought peace to my mind.

Well, another investigator dropped us this week, meaning he no longer wants us to teach him, but oddly enough, even though I was a little sad, both my companions and I were at peace with it.  They say we are cleaning out our area book for the elect.

We had dinner with this lady in our ward who has recently moved into the ward.  It is normally awkward eating with her but she was telling us a story of a friend and he knows where she is to be married.  I jokingly said, "well if you find out our futures let us know"  and then all of a sudden she went off telling us about our futures.  I found this very exciting and just fun.  Do I actually believe all this stuff, I'm not sure, but it is just fun to dream.  She said that I would be married in 2 years (I still have a little over 13 months left of my mission meaning that I am to be married then in 11 months of me getting home).  She went on about more stuff, even about a specific moment in time with me on a mountain but the most out-there idea was that I am to have 3 sets of twins.  Well twins don't run in my family so we'll see if my future spouse has that trait in his.:)
For one of our investigators we do a lot of object lessons.  Last time we did the Apostasy cups and he hardly remembered what the principles were so we reviewed them before we did another activity.  We wanted to then move on to the importance of the Book of Mormon so we acted out the story where Nephi and his brothers go get the Brass Plates.  This definitely keep him and his brother engaged and having fun. We decided we are going to do another one this coming week.

One of the members in our ward had an Apples to Apples game, but a Disney version. We played that one night before bed, and this just proves how well we know each other.  Sister Christian always talks about not wanting to get married anytime soon. She chose mine which was the date card.:)

Some of the people we visit go off on personal experiences they have had in the past.  Two people this week told us stories of their near-death experiences and how much peace they felt being given the choice of whether or not to come back to this life. I know that there is more after this life when we die and there is nothing to be afraid of if we are being righteous.

Another holiday I'll be spending on my mission comes this week and we have already started with the big meals.  A family in our ward was celebrating Thanksgiving with their extended family yesterday that we were invited to, and let me just tell you that I am going to have to work extra hard this week !!!

Sent from ALASKA !
Sister Shelley Willden

Monday, November 14, 2016

Last Monday seemed to be months ago.  We planned on having a bonfire by the Knik River again.  We made s'mores with Reese's and roasted starbursts.  It was cold outside so we were huddled around the fire for way too long.  My hair took a couple of washes to finally get the smell of campfire out of it.
Our temple trip was happening on Wednesday and we needed President LaVoie, our vehicle coordinator, to check out one of our tires while we were in Anchorage. Because he was to do that we couldn't let him see how filthy our car was.  This car, which we named Filthy Animal, has not been washed the entire time I have been in Palmer, so we had to wash it, but the bad part was that we realized this is the Tuesday before.  I know this is breaking rules, but we went to a car wash that day. We had about 20 minutes before our next lesson - plenty of time to get the car washed. Everything was going fine but then all of a sudden the water was just going back and forth behind the car stalled in one position.  Naturally we would call the phone number to get them to fix it but the number on the side of the wall was faded off.  We were contemplating on calling anyone in our district but then we would have to explain why we were getting our car washed on a non P-Day.  It took about 5 to 10 minutes for a worker to come shut it off.  He had us go to the next lane to start over which he paid for.  We were a little late to our appointment and couldn't stay too long because we had our quarterly interviews with our Mission President, which went well.

Wednesday we went to the temple and normally because Satan knows you are going to the temple there is a lot of opposition leading up to that moment but that day everything seemed to be going well.  It was a good session and I spent some time just reading the scriptures in the Celestial room.

Thursday we had exchanges with the STL and her trainee.  Sister Richards came with me and Sister Gardner in Lazy Mountain and Sister Christian went with Sister Grieve in Beach Lake.  It was a good exchange but it happened all too quickly.  Before I knew it we were exchanging back.

Friday night we were teaching Chrisian, an autistic child in our ward, about the apostasy.  In order to help him stay focused on the lesson we do a lot of object lessons.  This time we took 6 cups and stacked them to make a pyramid.  We said this represents Christ's Church He established while ministering on Earth.  We taught about the Priesthood and how it was taken away once Christ and all of the apostles were no longer alive on earth.  This meant that no one was able to be in charge to run the church "we knock the pyramid down".  Each one of us took a cup and said what piece of truth we had.  For example, Sister Gardner took the piece of baptism, Sister Christian took the piece of salvation, and I took the piece of repentance.  Christian had the piece of faith and his brother Kellen had the piece representing Jesus. We all had pieces of truth established by Christ but none of us had the whole puzzle.  This is the period we call the Great Apostasy.  Then we taught about the need for a restoration of truth. This was done through a new prophet named Joseph Smith who restored the Church back to how Christ first established it "we put the pyramid back together."  This allowed him to see that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the same church that Jesus Christ built while He was on Earth.  Christian was able to stay focused for the majority of the lesson and we think he was able to retain the information better.

Yesterday Nick and Kia, his daughter, came to church and stayed the entire three hours.  Our lesson in Gospel Principles taught about how the Book of Mormon is a sign of the Second Coming preached about in Ezekiel.  Relief Society went well, too, and even Kia was participating.  We finally saw Timothy who had lost his phone in Anchorage.  He is going through a hard time keeping the Word of Wisdom which is heart breaking.  Pray for him that he is able to quit.  I know that Christ's gospel is able to help us overcome any mistakes we have made and have yet to make.  His grace is sufficient for all of us no matter how many times we mess up.

Sometimes that's all you can do !!

Someone said that God's love is 100%.  He will not love us more if we do things right nor will He love us less if we fall short. His love is unconditional and infinite. 

Aren't Alaska Husky's precious ???

Sent from  ALASKA !!!

Sister Shelley Willden

Monday, November 7, 2016

Fun week!!  If I didn't write down the highlights of the week, I don't think I would remember what had happened.  Our P-day was Halloween, which made it ten times better. We carved pumpkins.  I chose to make the CTR Shield, but when I started cutting it out it started to break.  A couple days later I smashed the pumpkin off our balcony for fun and let out some frustration we have had with some of our leaders. Because of the holiday we as missionaries had our curfew changed to 7pm that night. We went truck-or-treating at the church for 10 minutes and then headed home. My costume was the Holy Ghost!!   

We got a lot of logistical things taken care of like laundry, putting away groceries, cleaning a bit.  We watched Facet-to-Face with Studio C and then had a spiritual conversation about the Atonement until late into the evening.

We had another church tour but this one was for our investigator Harold.  He is another Alaskan native who likes the concept that the Book of Mormon is a record of the ancestors of the now Native Americans.  He didn't accept the invitation to be baptized, but he said, "Maybe" to coming to church.  Unfortunately he, nor Nick came to church this week.  Everyone seems to be sick, so the attendance was very slim this past Sunday.

So there is this lady in our ward that I have visited with Sister Nield almost every week.  She is now in the hospital.  The Ward Council has been deciding on what to do with her cat, Abbu, and who can take care of him.  Somehow we got volun-told to take care of the cat:  to feed him and clean his litter box daily.  We told our Bishop a couple days later that we didn't feel comfortable taking care of the cat as we are not allowed to have pets on our missions and we are gone 10 to 11 hours a day. Later we found out that the cat had a flesh eating disease and no one assumed to tell us that, which is why the lady in our ward is in the hospital.  He apparently had been cleaned but still, that is frightening to know after we had been petting him and he has been hugging on Sister Christian for the past few days.  Long story short, the cat is gone and from what we can tell neither of us have the disease for we are all still alive and well.

During Zone Meeting for one of the training's we played a game of telephone.  This version there were two stories being told on either side of the line and they were to cross paths and get from one side to the other.  The story that started closer to me was changed a lot but not as much as the other one.  The one that I got passed near the end went from Wasilla Zone celebrating a birthday at Red Robin to the Wasilla Zone breaking the law of Chastity.  We were all dying with laughter.  The training was on gossip and it put in perspective how much "mission drama" being spread around is a real thing and that it needs to stop.

We had an amazing lesson with Nick on Saturday.  We taught him the Plan of Salvation and after the lesson he basically quoted Moroni's challenge to us and he hadn't even read the Book of Mormon yet because it was just that day we gave him a large print copy of it.  He is so meant to be Mormon.  I can't wait for him to realize everything we are teaching him is true and for him to follow Christ by being baptized.

Yesterday was my 4 month click day.  Every 6th is my month mark of being on my mission.  I actually found out why our mission calls our month marks click days - it is because "click" is the sound our tags make when you put them on so it is a representation of the first day they clip your tag on you in the MTC.  So to celebrate my 4 month birthday in a way was to sleep in an extra hour due to daylight savings!

Sent from ALASKA !

Sister Shelley Willden