Monday, September 18, 2017

AAM in Online

We received transfer calls on Friday this past week and the crazy thing is that I kept forgetting they were happening at all.  This transfer has just gone by so quickly.  Sister Richards and I will be staying together for another transfer.  A lot happened this week, but here are just some of the more prominent things:

LDSSA:  UAF has this new program called LDSSA which I believe is Latter-Day Saints Student Association.  It's a group that helps with the school that gets our name out there.  So they asked last Sunday for volunteers to help with a tailgate party for the UAF/UAA Girls Volleyball match.  We handed out free t-shirts and other school brand things like lanyards to people who came up to the booth as well as free pizza. It was all first-come-first-served and people will come for food.  We told people about the game to have them come support the girls volleyball team at UAF.  One of the members of the Branch is on the team.  It was a lot of fun and we were able to talk about the church to those who asked.
General Authority:  We had Elder Foster from the Seventy and his wife come visit our mission.  They shared with us insights about working more with members to propel missionary work.  Also he said we are going to start online proselyting so that means our mission is getting Facebook.  I haven't wanted to have Facebook in our mission just because I feel like I would go back into bad habits with Facebook and it is just something else to add on top of all the things we have to do already.  But the more I think about it the better I feel it will propel the work faster.  Some will fault our mission because we have cars and have IPads, which definitely seem like a luxury for some other missions, but it is a blessing to have to reach more people in a quicker manner.  We are on The Lord's errand, and we don't have too much time to do it. Facebook can be a great tool if used properly, so we'll see how that goes once we are trained with it for the use with our mission.  We had a Double MCL this month because of Elder Foster's visit.  We did a sort of Skype call for those in remote locations away from Anchorage to have a discussion with all the Zone Leaders, STLs and the District Leaders.  The meeting didn't last as long as they said it would have, so we went out to lunch at Denny's.  The Denny's up here says on their sign, "The Northern Most Denny's in the World".  That is something definitely to photograph.  Sister Richards loves bacon; so all she ordered was bacon!

Food bank:  Thursday we show up and they said there were not too many orders for us to help with, but that they had another job for us to do.  We were to sort through the break and throw out any moldy bread.  At first it was one here and there, but then it got to the point where a whole box was full of moldy bread.  I smelled awful and it was making me cough so I worked with a mask, but then they just asked us to throw it away still in its wrapper.  There were a lot of garbage bags filled with bad bread.  At least they don't give out bad bread to the people.  We went back to help with the orders before we were finished.
Cory:  So we were trying people on Saturday and had the thought to go and visit Cory at work.  He works at this Dice Pawn Shop from Tuesday through Saturday.  He was there and very welcoming to us coming to visit him.  He is just very open about his past and has a desire to build his relationship with God again after his mother's passing.  We met his father who, same thing, just told us his life story basically of how he is at a point where he is not ready to come back to the church yet because of some issues and also with his wife passing.  We talked to Cory a bit more and asked if we could visit him the following day.  We brought a couple of guys from the branch to come visit him with us and that went okay.  Hopefully we helped him a little bit with his relationship with God and gave him some commitments to do.  When we asked if we could visit with him again next Sunday, he said, "how about I just come to church?" Awesome !!!
Out with the Missionaries:  Rachel, one of our branch missionaries, was off work on Friday and Saturday, so she took some time on Saturday to come out with us.  We wanted to have lessons with single males so that we could best use our time with her. We had a lesson with Craig which went really well.  He has a desire to come back to Church, which is awesome.  Our next lesson though ... we met at the stake center and he had opened up about his concerns and said he was just happy right now with the way he is living.  We shared with him how the BOM and having good friends who influence him for good can be a benefit, but I think it was too much for him, so he said he wanted to leave.  He and his nonmember girlfriend left.  I said a prayer of comfort to help ease my sad feelings.  We tried by some other less actives in the spare time and got in with a member we have been trying to get a hold of.  He said he could come to the activity tonight, but ended up canceling again.  The Activity was a success though.  A lot of people came and Neva came with Sister Wright.  Hopefully we can talk with her more about religion.

Michelle:  We had the thought to call this girl named Michelle that we had called before, but she forgot and made plans.  We called her while we were calling a lot of former investigators and she was crying.  Her neighbor died in her arms and now she has his cat.  She was very traumatized by what happened just earlier that day so we were trying to help her through the phone.  The scripture we read to her Alma 7:11-12: "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.  And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities."  We aren't counselors, but what we do know is that the gospel can help people.  The Savior can help people.  We, most likely, won't know what people are going through, but Jesus Christ does.  Let go and Let God.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden       

Monday, September 11, 2017

"I don't know any nuns"

Fall is here.  The leaves have changed so quickly in just one week.  It is pretty, though I wish the trees would have some red because it is all orange and yellow.  I feel like I can't enjoy it because I know Winter is just around the corner, which is accompanied by the darkness.  It is already starting to get dark now at night.  Again, that is normal back home, but I know it is only getting darker day by day.  Here are the highlights for this week:

P-day:  We did some Labor Day shopping at sears and value village.  I got a cute dress for only $3.  We went to the church and played a little bit of a nerf-gun war.  Pretty fun.  We played volleyball after that and I just love volleyball.  We had roasted weenies and s'mores at the Maynes' house.  We played a little bit of spike ball, which I need way more practice with; it is harder than it looks.

MLC:  We had our Missionary Leadership Council this week.  The Zone Leaders and STLs from all the zones come down to Anchorage for an all day training and counseling about mission matters.  They needed someone to drive down a car from Fairbanks, so we volunteered.  It was a pretty drive; it rained the latter half.  I now want to go visit Denali.  Driving through there was legit.  We stopped by the Hensons and Bobby D in Wasilla as we drove through.  Also got fireweed milkshakes!!!  Oh how I missed those so much!  That night we spent the night at the Oceanview sisters apartment with the Colony sisters coming down a day early as well.  It was a party, but my companion and I still went to bed on time.  Sister Jewel and I did these facial masks that were exfoliating or detoxing.  So fun.
At MLC we had spiritual discussions about certain topics like faith and companion exchanges.  We played this game that we play a lot at EFY which is clumping together and grabbing each others' hands to then untangle everyone.  They had the elders do it all together and the 6 sisters do it.  We were done in less than a minute.  They took over 20 and still didn't accomplish the task. One of the APs (Assistant to the President) ended up splitting his pants.  Great day. We flew back around 6pm after the meeting.
Cult:  We were texting people we knew in the Branch about the activity happening on Saturday.  One of the phone numbers we had was not a correct number.  The person texted us back asking who we were.  We told him we are the sister missionaries  He replied saying, "I don't know any nuns", and looked up our church online. Automatically he said we sound like a cult.  Just like you wouldn't look for information on Wiki for an English research paper, you shouldn't look to anti-Mormon material to learn about our church.  That, of course, is skewed and not a good representation of our Church and our beliefs.  The best way to learn about our church is by reading and praying about the Book of Mormon.  As cliche' as that sounds, it's true.  We don't call it the keystone of our religion for no reason.
Tracting Miracles:  Who says tracting doesn't work?  Yes, it is not the primary focus of a mission, but we can't teach people if we don't find people to teach.  This week we were gone for basically two days straight in Anchorage, so this just makes it even more sweet that these things happened in a shorter time frame.  We tracked Thursday and with one person they said we could come back and another we gave a copy of the BOM to him.  A couple of days later we were actually trying to find a former investigator, but didn't have her apartment number.  We decided to just tract the apartments there and hopefully, if she was prepared at this time, would greet us and say that she has met with missionaries in the past. Well on the very last door (not necessarily "4th floor, last door"), was a lady named Ellen who invited us in to talk about religion.  She said she hopes to find a church she believes has the correct teachings.  After a little while she said she is thinking about being a follower of our church.  She already had a copy of the BOM.  The only sad thing about this is that we are YSA, so we teach people between the ages of 18-30 as our branch is consistent of those people.  All other wards are family wards so it doesn't matter the age.  We had to refer her to the 5th sisters to begin teaching.  She is very promising though!
Activity:  We had an activity at the Wright's house this weekend making nachos and then spray paining canvases with leaves.  Dr. Wright invited his Medical Assistant from work to the Activity and she came!  We got to meet her and she is pretty cool.  Had a fun night!  Had to give a talk the next day at church, which went well.  I spoke about how the BOM has increased my testimony of Jesus Christ.  We even watched a devotional broadcast by Elder Bednar about linking our families and keeping our future generations in the Church.  Pretty good!

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden       

Monday, September 4, 2017

Exchange Miracles

I wish I could remember what happens all in a week.  Thank goodness for our area book to tell me what actually occurred.  Here are some highlights:

Institute:  I love institute.  We have two in a week.  The first is for the Old Testament. The lady who is teaching is very knowledgeable and has a very organized structure with the class.  I'm excited to learn more about it since I have never read it cover to cover.  The other class is on the Book of Mormon.  After the first class I realized that our mission has basically been a BOM institute class.  All of the material that we covered we learn over and over in our district and zone meetings.  There were only two YSA members who attended the Old Testament class and also attended the BOM one.  One is Caitlin, who is the Relief Society President and the other is Kaiana, who is up here for the Air Force.  I was impressed that this guy, who works on the AFB, and is a student at UAF, would come to both institute classes and participate.  He just got called to be our new Branch Mission Leader.  So excited to work with him.  According to President Wright, he seems so enthusiastic about missionary work.   He served his mission in South Korea and loved it.

Service:  I love that we get unplanned service opportunities that arise throughout the week.  We have glam nails on Tuesday (which I realized I am not good at painting people's nails and should just stick to removing their nail polish), and Food Bank on Thursday's.  This week we received a text from a girl in the YSA Branch needing help moving her stuff into storage for the winter as she moves back down south till next Summer.  We got some of the elders to come help and we loaded our cars with furniture and boxes and got done pretty fast.

Lessons:  We had another lesson with Tucker for his new member lessons.  We had the lesson after dinner at Rachel's house.   Her roommate Danny came to dinner and she even participated in the lesson.  Hopefully we can work with her soon.  We had lessons planned for DJ and Terry, but both got cancelled this week.  Hopefully we can meet with them again soon.  Terry will be gone until mid September for work though. We drove to Nenana for a lesson with this lady Robin.  She had us go on a little goose chase to meet with her.  We brought a member from the Branch who met with us while at this restaurant.  We started sharing what the BOM was to her using the pictures in the front and she cut us off to do this later.  Though she said she is interested.  She flaked on coming to church, but hopefully we can continue to meet with her and help her anyway we can.  We also had Church in Nenana.  It was interesting.  The Branch is mainly made up of one big family:  the Verhagens.  The "parents" have 9 children who still live in Nenana.  They were very emotional on Sunday.

Exchanges:  Exchange miracles never fail.  I went on exchanges with Sister Burdick who came out on her mission the same time I did.  We stuck around the North Pole area because it is helping their area and our area since our area is everywhere.  We tried by some people and got in touch with a less active who had more information about a recent-convert-less-active member whom we just found out about earlier that same day. Amazing.  We went tracting later and found some YSA-age people and a potential investigator for them.  Two birds, one stone.  It was really fund to visit and catch up with her about our mission lives.

We did visit someone who had opinions about our "Mormon culture". This Church is a hospital for the sick, not a palace for the perfect.  I know people have been offended by Mormons before and I apologize if anyone has.  We try to live what we preach for this is not just a Sunday religion, but a way of life; and we are not perfect people.  No one is except Christ.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden