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

So Many Things to be Thankful for

This transfer is already half way done.  The days are long; the weeks are short.  But then I think, "we went hiking just Monday?  It feels like forever ago."  Well here are just the highlights for this week:"

P-Day:  Well, yep, we went hiking.  I haven't hiked since I was in Wasilla and it was fun not to confined to just the cultural hall in the church.  We were rushing a little because we were a bit behind with laundry and emailing.  We did the fastest Walmart shopping ever.  We met up at the church to go hiking at Thunder Bird Falls which was my third time hiking this trial. But it is still beautiful every time and this time there was snow which made pictures a lot different. Afterwards we had planned on having a fire at one of the bishop’s house but we were a bit early so we played scatterball for a little bit. Then we drove to have s’mores around a campfire and played this game where two on a team would throw a frisbee to try to knock off a can on top of a pole. It is harder than it looks but a lot of fun. 
Facebook: We got Facebook this week during zone conference. Approaching Thursday we were to watch videos recorded as part of District 3 (film segments of missionaries in a different mission showing us what they are doing and applying the skills of missionary work). During zone conference we were trained on using Facebook by watching more videos and talking about what we will be doing. The time came for us to download FB and log in to our accounts. Some of us needed to figure out our passwords and try to change it if we couldn’t log in. We are limited to what we can do on Facebook and as of right now we are limited in time to use it too. We have 30 minutes Tuesday through Friday morning to do what we need to. Hopefully we will be allowed more time in the near future. We also got trained about the new Christmas initiative which is very similar to last year’s as they found a lot of success and positive results from it. We are thinking of different ways we can spread the world through FB and helping others to remember Christ this Christmas.  
Friendsgiving: We attended a youth activity where the youth invited their friends to a little Thanksgiving meal. At the end they played this game which was very similar to speed dating. The inside chairs would rotate down a person and the two people would answer a question about Thanksgiving traditions, people they are thankful for, and even favorite Thanksgiving foods. One of the adults sat across from Sister Johnson and said, “I’m excited; I haven’t been on a date in 20 years!” So funny. There were a lot of people there who aren’t members which was great. 
Sing for Fireside: Normally when people find out what I went to school for they usually want me to sing. This time one of the members we had dinner with said that some of the members are performing for a fireside on Sunday which was in 3 days from then and that the director was looking for a singer. I don’t usually like to sing in front of people songs that I don’t have down with lots of practice but I felt impressed that I should offer my talent. In this way it is more of a service and I feel better about performing for those types of situations. I went to the practice the next day and the director was so appreciative. Mind you I still have a cough from my sickness last week and at times the cough makes it seem like I’m dying. I prayed a lot and drank over 160 ounces of water on Sunday to prepare to sing. It was only because of the love of God that I made it through the entire 7-minute song without one cough or even a need to clear my throat! #blessed
Saturday: So many tender mercies (miracles to be thankful for). So long story short my mother sent me a birthday package in the mail and said it will be getting to Anchorage no later than 3pm on Saturday. Normally that would be fine and it would just be sent to me later but she said there were things in the package that needed to be refrigerated. That made things a little more complicated especially since the mission office isn’t open on Saturdays. Tender mercy is that Sister Johnson got permission to attend a baptism in Anchorage on Saturday so, after a lot of communication with Sister Jeppson in the office and the post office, we were able to pick it up and keep it in our cold car during the baptism. While we were there we went to take a picture in front of the temple and I was blessed to see some of the members from Soldotna who came up from the  3-hour drive to attend the temple on that day. What are the odds of me running into them?! Some other minor tender mercies happened which made the day pretty great.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden 

And Then There Was Three

This was a very long week.  My companion went home this week due to medical challenges, so I was Emergency Transferred (ET) again; both times out of Anchorage.  This is now my 7th official area on the mission, having had 12 companions, and third time "pink washing".  No one can beat this record!  So much has happened that this is post is going to be day by day.

Monday:  Your typical P-day.  We did laundry and emails at the Weaver's house.  I am going to miss them so much.  They were wonderful!  We then went shopping before meeting up at the church.  We ended up playing missionary ball, volleyball, chair soccer, and I taught an elder how to play Catch Phrase.

Tuesday:  We had Zone Conference; well the first half.  We are getting Facebook now for our mission and President wanted MLC to experiment with it first before he tolled it out to the other zones.  We had interviews later that day.  I had Sister Bowers go first and then President pulled me in and told me that she is going home and that we were to cancel all of our appointments for the rest of the evening and pack.  We didn't know exactly when she would be flying home so we just had to pack up everything we could.  The Huffman sisters bought us dinner that we could eat while we packed.  Our District Leader, Elder Poppleton, quickly organized a funeral to happen that night.  Sister Richards and Randall were down for MLC the following day so I got to talk to them.  We all stood in a circle to say something about Sister Bowers and she handed people little trinkets she had collected on her mission.

Wednesday:  We thought she would be leaving today but didn't find out until closer to noon that she would be flying out super early the next morning.  So we basically hung out at the mission office.  Sister Bowers needed to check the weight of her luggage and do some logistical things.  I helped Sister Moffitt with stamping the seals for the certificates they give to returned missionaries.  We left to eat lunch at McDonalds.  We got the call from the STLs that I was getting transferred to trio with Sister Johnson and Sister Yeates in Eagle River.  They had pink washed it a week prior and apparently the ward was super excited to have sisters back.  We went back to the mission office two more times.  The first time to talk to Dr. Moss (I had him look at my throat because I was starting to get a sore throat), and the second time to say goodbye to some more people for Sister Bowers.

Thursday:  We needed to be at the Strawberry Chapel at 6:30am, which we were to get Sister Bowers to the airport on time.  I hugged her goodbye and she said she would email me all the details when she got home.  We then headed to Eagle River.  Our Vehicle Coordinator, Elder Jeppson, was super nice to let up keep the Nissan rogue and replace the truck they had.  When I got there Sister Johnson was on exchanges with Sister Burdick.  We did studies and I feel asleep towards the end because my sore throat was turning into a sinus infection.  They had me go to sleep so I slept for a good 2 and a half hours.  Later we drove to Eklutna (halfway between Eagle River and Palmer) to exchange back. 

Friday:  Well this day my sinus infection turned into a chest cough.  I felt, at times, I was hacking up a lung.  After studies we went to the church to have a mini district meeting to be trained on the safeguards of Facebook prior to our Zone Conference  We are to watch 33 videos on Facebook trainings and safeguards over and over again for the rest of our missions.  There will be set aside time Tuesday through Friday in the morning where we are to do Facebook things.  We will be trained on it more this Thursday so a lot of our questions won't be answered until then.  We spent the rest of the day doing only weekly planning.  We had to start from square one again in order to catch me up.  I started crashing a little after lunch so they made me take another nap.  We didn't even finish planning before dinner with the Betz.  They made hamburgers and then pumpkin cake!!  So good.  Sister Betz did the lesson for us as she was doing an assignment for her online class.

Saturday:  Feeling energized, but just having the symptoms of the sickness, we went zone tracking.  Normally it is district tracting, but since President created a new language zone, the Chugach Zone got a lot smaller.  We met up at McDonald's afterwards for an apparent zone tradition of getting ice cream.  Ice cream wasn't going to help with my sickness so what did I get instead?  Cookies!!  Well they were 3 for a dollar, I couldn't pass that up.  We all were losing our energy trying to plan our church lesson and do goals.  We then had to get to our dinner, which was at a dinner group.  The ward is doing this to help the members fellowship each other and to help reactivate the less actives.  The one we went to even had some non-members come as well.  There were a lot of people who came and then they started playing Kahoot.  It was just funny to see older adults doing things like that.  We visited with some people  but then I started getting to the loopy stage and we finally went home.  I still don't have the area book so I sit in the back of the car reading.

Sunday:  I was a bit overwhelmed by the number of people who attended the Eagle River Valley ward.  I hardly know anyone so it was just being surrounded by a ton of strangers.  This Sunday was the primary program so there were more people who attended than normal.  For Gospel Principles we were in charge of giving the lesson.  The lesson was on scriptures and we asked two questions and they took up most of the time commenting.  We then split up the class into groups to each read about the four standard volumes of scriptures we read in our church:  The Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.  They gave great insights and one member helped a lot with an investigator who is from Anchorage, but for some reason attends our ward.  We then went to RS and the lady giving the lesson called us the night before wanting us to teach a portion of it.  She ended up getting called out to attend one of her children getting set apart so she turned the time over to us.  We just asked some questions, and the class did well at sharing their opinions and talking about member missionary work.  We visited some people and had a good dinner with the Marchants.  That night we decided to play this jelly bean game called Bean Boozled.  You pick a jelly bean and it is either a good flavor or a bad flavor like canned dog food, dead fish, or moldy cheese.  In order to see who was to pull from the cup we played BS.  If you were caught lying or you called someone out for no reason then you pulled a jelly bean.  It was a lot of fun and I ended up getting only bad ones.  The taste wouldn't come out of my mouth!

It is fun to be in a trio at time because it seems like we have a sleepover every night with the way our beds are set up, but we seem to get distracted all too easy.  On Sunday they found the records for one of the people they were teaching who said she was baptized when she was fifteen.  It is great that we found them and can now help her to get to the temple!

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden     

Keep moving forward through the fog

This, by far, was the fastest transfer week ever.  So much has happened especially when you are pink washing an area.  The ward apparently applauded when they heard sisters were coming to their ward.  I don't know if I can narrow all that happened down to a few events so this might be a tad long.
P-day:  We met at the Institute building for p-day today because we needed to sign transfer journals and we are all tired of volleyball.  Our institute has a pool table, foosball table, and a ping pong table.  We played Uno for a little bit and went around YSA playing different games.  Mack took us out to eat sushi again!  For FHE I said my goodbyes to people.  I will miss the Fairbanks YSA fam.
Drive down:  Our logistics for transfers was for me, Sister Vellinga, and Sister Spencer to drive down from Fairbanks to Anchorage.  Normally this is a 6 hour drive if you are going fast.  The roads weren't as bad as I thought they were going to be.  There was a lot of fog though.  This entire week we have had fog.  It was almost impossible to see where restaurants were in Anchorage to go eat.  Though the fog subsided when we got to Denali.  "Stop and have lunch in Denali,"  the APs said.  Well Denali is all shut down for the Winter season.  There wasn't even a place open for a restroom.  We took some great pics by the wonderful sights on the way down.  We stopped in Wasilla for lunch and then drove to Palmer for me to get a fireweed milkshake.  Oh how I love those shakes.  We got to the Strawberry chapel just in time.  There was a trunk-or-treat happening, so we got some candy!
Trio:  Spent the night with Sister Randall and my new companion, Sister Bowers.  In the morning they had to finish packing and we dropped off some of our luggage at the Brayton chapel because we couldn't fit all 11 suitcases in our car when we would need to drop Sister Randall off at the airport.  There are a lot of missionaries in Anchorage.  It seems like a party every time we all end up somewhere.  Later, after Sister Randall was dropped off at the airport, we were shown to our new apartment.  It is far from "new" though.  Elders have lived in this apartment for at least the last three years.  We were given cleaning supplies by our ward mission leader whom we had dinner with so I went to town on the bathroom.  Later that night we met Alisha.

Alisha:  She was being taught by the Huffman sisters but she recently moved across the street landing her in the Brayton ward.  She is an investigator already on date, which is fantastic.  We met her with the sisters, then brought over Sister Long with us the second night and then the third time dropped off a box of clothes and helped to clean her house prior to Sunday.  On Sunday she called frantic while driving.  It had snowed Saturday night and she didn't have snow tires on to drive to church.  She called saying she wouldn't be able to make it because she needed to get those on and was sliding around and ended up in a ditch.  Her brother, thank goodness, was able to pull her out.  We watched the Restoration with her that night with the Weavers who brought their daughters to help distract Alisha's two-year-old son, Luke, and get to her ten-year-old daughter, Linda.  It went really well and while watching the video about Joseph Smith she said some of her questions were answered.
New Car:  "You have not because you ask not" - my philosophy in life.  If you were to ask Sister Richards how many times I said that the three months we were together she wouldn't be able to count.  As we are pink washing an area, we get whatever car the elders were driving.  Well it was a truck.  The trucks don't have good turn radius and they aren't the best in the snow.  I asked Elder Jeppson, our vehicle coordinator, if there was a better car we could use and he said the only ones we could do is a Subaru or a Jeep, which are both worst than the trucks.  I told him if there was another car that came available we have our request form in.  Later that evening he called us saying one of the elders would trade cars with us!!!  Whoot whoot!!!  It's a 2016 Nissan Rogue; back-up camera and all.
District Tract:  Saturday morning we went district tracting, more like with the zone for it seems like everyone was there.  We got our street the Oceanview sisters wanted us to tract.  We see this guy in a car just stalling out in the middle of the street.  We knock on a door and ended up waking up a sick kid ... our bad.  When we walked back out to the street I saw the car still there.  We didn't necessarily approach his car but he started rolling down his window.  He was telling us about his neighbors car that got burned down just last night.  Part of the tree is burned; the lamp post next to the car is destroyed, and the neighbor's second car on the side was burned.  After talking to him for a while he shared with us his shooting story that happened to him earlier this year that made him loose his thumbs.  It's a crazy story where he ended up killing the drugged guy who shot at him who had followed him home.  We testified to him that things happen for a reason and offered him a copy of the Book of Mormon.  He said prior to that event he would consider himself atheist, but now believes there is something more.  The Lord prepares His children to receive the gospel with a willing heart.  Hopefully we can get in contact with him in a couple of weeks ... amazing guy.
Girdwood:  We spent the rest of Saturday in Girdwood, which is another town about 45 minutes away from Anchorage, that has a branch we are in charge of.  We visited with the Branch President who talked to us about the people and the Branch.  He nad his wife took us out to eat after that and we rode in their car; I played with their 5-month-old baby.  We ate and talked some more about part member families and ideas to find more people to teach and we asked questions about their missions.  They met each other serving in Italy.  They were a lot of help and I was grateful we got to meet them because the next day we were told that the Girdwood branch is now going to be covered by the APs.
Because of all the fog that we have had, we talked a lot about how this applies to life.  If we just waited for the fog to disappear to see where we were going, we would never move from our position.  We have to move, even just taking a few steps.  If it's only what we can see in front of us, then it is enough for us to take another step.  In life we aren't going to know all that will happen for us in our future.  Take it one day at a time and life seems to work itself out.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden

I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go

Well my last full week is done in Fairbanks.  I'm getting out before I freeze over so that is a plus, but I have really enjoyed Fairbanks.  I got to know the majority of it serving in the YSA.  Here are the highlights of the week:

P-Day:  P-day on a Tuesday because of zone Conference Monday.  We had the APs stay up here for P-day and even Barrow staying down for the rest of the transfer.  Everyone in the Zone was here so we played volleyball but missionary style.  WE had four teams rotating basically playing king of the court.  After that we played chair soccer.  So many people having a chair not even five feet away from you most of the time is ridiculous.  We had to eventually make it so each person had three lives or else the game would never end.  We played lightning (knock out basketball game) and then dodge ball too.  For FHE we did pumpkin carving.  It's hard to do the small, intricate details so I found a design on Rachel's phone that wasn't too bad.  It's a witch, but you can't really tell until you have a light in it in the dark. 

Nenana:  We drove up down to Nanana for our service day.  While at the senior center having lunch Sister Richards had the idea to shovel driveways as a service.  We told our branch mission Leader, Brother Verhagen, about it and he said we are "cool missionaries", :) He told us where we could get shovels and he drove around the Main Street asking whose place we could shovel.  One was a man named Robert from the senior center.  He has attending church in the past.  As we were doing other sidewalks we talked to him more and we asked him if we could visit with him when we return and he agreed!  We shoveled sidewalks, driveways, and even church ramps for other churches.  For once it was a good thing that it snowed.  Though it all melted this week.  It is fine for it to snow if it is going to stay freezing, but not when it toggles between degrees surrounding freezing.  That means the ice melts and refreezes causing it to layer when it continues to precipitate.  Not good when you are driving on this.  We helped out at the library afterwards before having dinner with Evelyn.  We drove home and the roads weren't as bad as I thought they would have been.  Everyone kept talking about freezing rain but it didn't come until a couple of days later.

DJ:  We had a lesson with him Thursday after dinner at Rachel's house.  DJ is in a culinary class and made break that he brought over for us to eat.  He made this cream cheese spread with passion fruit which was to die for.  After dinner we asked him how he came to the conclusion that he wasn't to be baptized and shared with us his experience with his sister and realizing he needs to be baptized.  He says he still doesn't know if he believes this Church to be true yet but he is working on it.  We extended an invitation for him to be baptized the 18th of November and he accepted that date via text the next day!  So excited.  Too bad I won't be here for it.

Productive Day:  Saturday we had things scheduled every two hours starting from 1pm.  We did our studies and lunch prior to that and the day just flew.  The zone Leaders in 3rd ward were having a baptismal service so we invited DJ to come and he came.  It was a really good service.  The people who spoke about baptism and the Holy Ghost did a really good job.  The guy who got baptized shared his testimony which was really powerful.  After that we had a lesson with Craig.  Kaiana and Ethan came as fellow-shippers.  Craig serve a mission and knows all that we are teaching him but at one point he confessed that he hadn't read his scriptures all week even when he committed to do so last lesson.  Sometimes it is really fun to call people to repentance.  The Spirit takes over whatever it is I'm saying and it is awesome.  Craig committed to read again so hopefully he does.  I'll write Sister Richards to see if he does.  We then drove out to North Pole for dinner with Mack and Taylor, his friend who returned from serving in Iraq.  We then drove over to the city of Ester to have a lesson with Corey making good time.  He got called into work at the first station so we had our lesson there.  We invited David to come as a fellow shipper since he works as a firefighter too.

Transfer call:  So I am pink washing (taking over an area where elders were before) Brayton.  This ward is in the Anchorage zone meeting at the building in the same parking lot as the temple.  That is always exciting.  My new companion is Sister Bowers.  She was in the Cook Inlet YSA, but now we are both starting new in this ward.  Sunday I said goodbye to the YSA Ward up here.  It doesn't feel like I'm leaving.  It never really feels like you are leaving; especially only after two transfers.  We are to drive down tomorrow at 8am to Anchorage.  Hopefully the roads won't be too icy.

I've enjoyed serving with Sister Richards.  I'm going to miss her and the fun times we have had.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley         

"How about getting me baptized"

So much has happened this week from Sisters Conference down in Anchorage to exchanges to zone conference.  The snow has finally come and is deciding to stick around.  It's cold, but we haven't hit the negatives yet.  Here are the highlights:

FHE:  We played sardines at the stake center for FHE.  Jessie was the first to hide and I was the first to find her.  Curtis was the best player though when it came to leading others astray, he came in to hide with us, but then Sister Richards came in.  He got right up and said we weren't in there and went out to lead her to look on the other side of the building.  He then came running back in once he was away from people.  It was a lot of fun. 

Sisters Conference:  We flew down to Anchorage at 7:40am Tuesday morning.  The whole day was spent like a zone conference.  They had some senior couples give training's in the morning and most of it was talking about our self-worth and how beautiful we are.  It was like a session of women's conference.  Each of the STLs had get-to-know-you games and also to give training.  This is where the meat was.  We all centered it around Christ.  We had a panel discussion with President and Sister Toone which was really fun and ended the evening with a testimony meeting.  Sister Richards has trouble sleeping so we asked if we could sleep in a separate room in the mission home.  We got to sleep in the General Authority room.  Anytime a General Authority comes from Church Headquarters they sleep in this room.  We were able to get sleep while all the sisters sleeping downstairs didn't go to bed until after midnight or 1:00am, if they got any sleep at all.  The next morning we were able to go to the temple which was really nice.  Because we are so far away up in Fairbanks we aren't able to go every other transfer so that was a real treat.  Afterwards we changed into p-day clothes and played in the gym for a little bit waiting for pizza to be delivered.  After lunch we went on a hike closer to Girdwood on your way if you were to drive down to Soldotna.  That was fun and we all took a ton of pictures.  I think that is what caused my iPad to go kaput.  The next day my iPad couldn't keep a charge and the next thing I knew it was dead.  It is getting looked at right now so hopefully they can fix it before transfers.

DJ:  We had a lesson with him on Thursday with Rachel and a friend of hers up from Utah came as members present.  We taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ and asked if he would be baptized.  He said that he doesn't want to rush into things and wants to make sure that he does all he can to find the church for him.  But as of a few minutes ago he texted us out of the blue saying "Sooo ... how about getting me baptized."  OH MY GOODNESS !!!!  Such a tender mercy right now!!

Exchanges:  We spent Friday having a lot of lessons.  William (a less active we have been trying to get a hold of) texted us back and agreed to meet with us.  Right now is not a good time for him with coming back to church or even reading the Book of Mormon so hopefully he will be prepared by The Lord for later to return to the fold.  We had a lesson with Mack which went well.  He said it is the highlight of his week to have us come and teach him.  We are soon going to just pass the torch over to his Home Teachers to keep visiting him.  Later we had a lesson with Dalen and Ethan present which went well and it was a lot easier to chit chat with them this time.  We had exchanges that night and I went to North Pole to be with Sister Langford who came out on the mission the same time I did but we just have never served around each other.  It was a lot of fun.  We did service to take down a health fair that happened that weekend and I was able to take some booklets home about exercise and eating healthy.  We had a lesson with one of their investigators and he is so elect.  He was making analogies with us about how the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be related to like working out and other things.  He agreed to be baptized, but wants to wait for his Mormon girlfriend to come visit for Christmas to do it while she is there.  We helped to celebrate Elder Voss's birthday and then we went to the adult session of stake conference which was really good.  President Toone came and spoke and he was amazing.  He is a great speaker and is super funny.

Zone Conference:  We had interviews with President and he basically told me my transfer call.  I won't spoil it now as I know the majority of the call but not everything so next week's post will tell you what is going to happen.  We had zone conference.  It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed the training's.  We had our talent show afterwards and Sister Richards and I went first.  We pretended we were doing a singing act.  I start to sing and Sister Richards doesn't so we get mad at each other and start to stage fight.  It went really well and the zone was eating it up.  It was a lot of preparation that we had to do for this, including getting a wrestling mat to borrow and getting it all lined up to look like we were actually fighting.  At the end Sister Richards kills me by snapping my neck and we worked with the zone leaders to twist a plastic bottle at the right time for the sound effect.  We had a lot of laughs and I think everyone had a lot of fun.  I was super exhausted later that evening.  For FHE we did pumpkin carving.  Rachel and I worked together to carve one.  She took out the guts and the pieces that needed to come out as I carved the witch design.  It didn't look like much in the light but when we put a flashlight in it in the dark it turned out pretty nice.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley