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Friday, January 30, 2015




From the places she loves to the people she's painted - We Love Everything About Her!!  Happy Birthday Baby!

Letter Written Jan 26,2015

Hey everybody!  How are you doing?  I hope this week has treated you as well as this week has treated us.  We had an amazing week.

Yes, that's right.  I will be 20 this week and I'm not exactly sure how I feel about it.  Good I guess?  It's just weird that I am 2 decades old now!  haha  I don't even know what to do with myself.  It's hard when you're on your mission because you can't say Happy Birthday to anyone over Facebook, and no one can say Happy Birthday to you.  So you want to hear something funny that Sister Buckner and I did?  You do.  We have a ward Facebook page here in Shelby, right?  So what we did was, we posted that we needed a member to try to pick up one of our investigators for church, then we added "Also... it's my birthday on the 31st and no one has signed up to feed us yet.  ;)"  About 20 mins later, the Bishop's wife commented and said that we are going to have a Birthday Dinner at her house that night!  So we are super excited (and feeling a little greedy and guilty)!  haha  ;)  Then we had a couple of ward members offer on Sunday to feed us, but we were already taken.  J

So in response to what I am doing for my birthday, we are going to "Find, Teach, and Baptize" all day, like President Craven says, then we are going to go have a party at the Bishop's house!  WOOOOHOOOOO

And while we are on the subject of Birthdays... HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!  I am so sorry I couldn't say it the day of... but so goes missionary work.  ;)  I am sending your birthday present in the mail today, along with a card and hopefully some candy.  It's not very big, but I think you'll love it. 

So this week was really great!  We met so many new people, got a couple of Miracle Stories, had the blessing of setting 2 solid baptismal dates, and had the opportunity to have President and Sister Craven come to Shelby to speak in Sacrament Meeting and teach Relief Society and Priesthood.

On Monday-
It was a weird day.  We woke up, studied, and went to the library to email.  But... being missionaries, you are not as aware of Holidays happening unless you have memorized the day.  We had no idea that it was Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  So we get to the library and Sister Buckner says, "YES!  NO ONE IS HERE!"  I looked at her strangely and said, "Yeah.  Unless it's closed!"  haha  Turns out it was, so we had to quickly come up with a backup plan.  We called the Bishop and asked if we could use their wifi to send emails.  It was working quite well until they had to go to a birthday lunch for the Bishop's dad, but we enjoyed the time we had there.  So we left, not even 1/3 of the way done with emails and headed for Chick-Fil-A for lunch because it has free wifi.  However, all of the many emails that we sent from there, didn't actually go through because the wifi was down.  We found that out at around 5.  So we had to go grocery shopping, clean the apartment spotlessly as fast as we could, and hurry to the church before p-day was over to get all of them sent.  We were running around with our heads cut off, I swear!  haha  But no worries!  All was sent and we started getting hungry.  So we decided to go to Applebee's.  Now, for anyone that knows what kind of food I like, I loathe Applebee's.  So it was really weird that I wanted to go there.  Anyway, we were seated after about 5 minutes and we started looking at the menu.  All of the sudden, Sister Buckner looked at me and said, "I think a less-active might work here."  I had absolutely no clue who it would have been and she couldn't remember her name.  We ordered our food and while we were waiting for it, the manager (the woman who seated us) came over and said quite bluntly, "Okay.  Are you here for me or are you here for the food?"  We must have looked a little shocked because she just stared at us, waiting for a reply.  I said, "No.  We were just hungry and decided to stop by here tonight."  All she said was "Okay" and she walked away.  A few minutes later, she came back and said, "I'm sorry that was so rude.  Members of the church have come here before trying to get me to feel bad and guilt trip me into coming back to church."  We explained that we had just felt like eating there that night.  She immediately softened her expression and her tone and said that we were welcome to come by their house any time.  We just can't ring the doorbell past 12 noon because her husband works weird hours and is usually asleep.  She gave us her number, (which she hadn't given out to more than 3 members of the ward, and asked us not to give it out, but that she would love to talk to us soon.
Isn't that a miracle?  The Lord does work in mysterious ways.
The rest of the night was spent trying to contact a referral, updating our finding map, and going to sleep.

Tuesday was another really weird day.  We woke up, studied, and headed out to go volunteer at a retirement home in Shelby because we have a less-active that lives there.  We went in to visit her, and they were just getting her ready to take a shower and we were asked to come back.  We tried to visit some other people while we were there, but it turns out that at that time of the morning, they are either preparing people for showering or for lunch, so they aren't allowed to talk.  We tried instead, to contact someone that had asked us to come back later, a few neighborhoods over from our house.  Again, no success.  They said they were in the middle of a business transaction, and we needed to come back later.  So we headed home for lunch.  So we went to get Slushies and Corn Dogs while we called some less-actives to try to get in with them.  We had a lesson scheduled about an hour and a half later, so we went finding around that house.  We met a man named C.  We got to teach him the restoration on his porch and he accepted a challenge to read the Book of Mormon and have us come back to talk to him some more.  Another Miracle!   But our appt. that was scheduled in that area cancelled because they were sick.  By that time, we just decided to head to dinner that night with the M's.  She made homemade chili and brownies.  Simply delicious.  Then we had to head home to be picked up for another dinner with a Part Member Family that we are teaching.  We were able to eat with them, and teach the Plan of Salvation to the Member's Husband.  We invited him to be baptized and he said he would think about it.  Then we found out that he felt really pressured.  So we are going to lay off for a little bit and just teach powerfully and simply and he can let us know when he is ready.  Then the member took us home and we planned and went to bed.

We woke up, studied, then K (a returned missionary from the NCCM that lives in Shelby) picked us up to take us and the Elders to Gastonia for District Meeting.  I was giving the training that Morning on Consecration.  I had no idea what that word even meant until I gave the training.  Apparently, no one else in my district did either, because I asked for a definition and no one raised their hands.  Consecration means to dedicate formally to a religious or divine purpose.  I really liked that definition because it reminded me what our focus is as missionaries.  We have a divine calling that the Lord has entrusted us with, and only we are the ones who can accomplish it with His heavenly help.
After District Meeting, we headed home to drop off the Elders and K offered to take us out to lunch.  We went to a place called FATZ.  It's a MUST if anyone ever comes to Shelby.  Let alone the fried green tomatoes that the south is famous for, they had the most amazing chicken wrap ever!
Anyways... after lunch, we went to teach a lesson to some members at their car shop.  That went really well.  We showed the Mormon Message "Good Things to Come" and seeing her face and how hopeful it made her, made me instantly start bawling because I could truly look at her with the love of Christ in my eyes.  Something that we all truly need to strive for!  It will change your lives.
Then we went to see a less active in Shelby who actually moved a few months ago and didn't tell anybody.  (Always a joy!)  So we headed to Subway for dinner and went to the church to plan our lesson for our Golden investigators B and L.  We taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ that night and they committed to be baptized on the 21st of February.  The only thing they said was, "As long as you promise to dunk me fast!"  We all had a good laugh about that one.  They are amazing.  They just keep learning, growing, and making friendships in the ward.  After their lesson, we went to the Scripture Study class, had the Stake President (who is in our ward) teach about temples, went to write an email to the ward council afterwards, and went home to plan and to sleep.

We woke up, studied, had weekly planning for 3 hours, ate lunch, and tried to go see a less active and our investigator T

After we had no success contacting either one of them, we headed to a new member's house to finish up his new member lessons.  We talked about service and how General Conference is going to be coming up soon in the next few months.  We encouraged him to read all of the talks from last conference again in preparation.  And I would like to invite all of you reading this to do that as well.  Then write me and tell me how it is going!  Okay?  We also finally convinced him to watch Mary Poppins.  He had never seen it, and we said it would bless his life eternally!  ;)  haha  That's me!  Spreading the Gospel cheer and the Disney wonder to all I come in contact with!  ;)  Lol He loved the movie though.
Then we went to teach one of our bible referrals.  It went really well and she said that she wanted to attend church on Sunday and that she would talk to her boyfriend about going.   Then we went to serve some members at their store for a few hours and he offered to teach us how to make big, fluffy bows that night.  It was really fun and it came out really well.  The member offered to text a picture of me to someone, so I sent it to Bethany if anyone wants that.  After we left, we went to go find a Part Member Family that we were eating with.  The directionally handicapped one strikes again!(ME)  We couldn't find it after like 20 minutes.  So we pulled over, called the elders (because the member of the family is one of their recent converts), and asked how to find it.  We drove back and forth for about 4 miles until we found out that where we had pulled over to call was actually across the street from their house.  My luck right?  We had a wonderful meal and discussion about prayer with the new member and his wife.  I shared Alma 37:36-37 and we talked about how prayer can help us in our lives.  Then we headed home, to plan and go to bed.

We woke up, studied, looked out the window and noticed that the only day of the month that we decided to go without the car (to save miles) was the only day that it decided to rain buckets!
So we headed out.  We got about 1/3 of a mile down the road and a member had driven by, so they pulled over and offered to drive us closer!  BLESSINGS!  After about an hour of trying to contact some investigators and less actives with no success, we went to IHOP for lunch.  I am learning quickly that Sister Buckner really likes that place!  I am getting kind of sick of it because it isn't as good as Utah's is.  Anyway, we finished there and walked about 2 miles to get to Washington St. to try to contact those that we didn't get the chance to a couple of days before.  No success.  And we were cold.  And we were wet.  And it was about 20 degrees.  haha  So we walked over to a less-actives house that the bishop wanted us to see.  On the way there, we found the exact spot where the Hunger Games was filmed!  Unintentional of course!  ;)  So we are going back later today to take pictures!  We taught a wonderful lesson about the importance of the Book of Mormon and showed her the Mormon Message about the Bishop in England that was converted through the Book of Mormon, but I can't remember what it's called.  But go look it up!  IT'S SO GOOD!  Then we headed to a former investigators house!  It was a great lesson where we turned the discussion from him not being interested, to him accepting the Book of Mormon and talking about basic beliefs only by sharing our testimonies of the truthfulness of the gospel!  It was amazing!  Testimonies save lives ladies and gentleman!
Then a member saw us an offered to take us home to dry off before our member dinner that night.  BLESSINGS!
We dried off, got picked up for dinner, ate, and we were able to share a powerful lesson about prayer with this member who has not stayed active in the church her whole life.  She shared that she wanted both of her kids to receive the discussions and be baptized because they are fairly active again.  The thing is, her son is 99% deaf.  So we encouraged her to talk to pres. Craven on Sunday.  He instructed her to call one of the senior missionary couples because they can sign, and he will be able to be baptized!  ISN'T THAT AMAZING HOW THE LORD PUTS IN OUR PATHS THOSE WE NEED RIGHT WHEN WE NEED THEM?!
We were then headed home to go teach B and L that night, but they got sick.  So we ended up updating our finding map, planning and going to bed.

So we woke up, studied, went to go find some less-actives through Facebook, had lunch, and decided to go find some former investigators.  First one, moved.  Second one, we pulled up and the people standing in the driveway said that the Former had actually passed away, but he used to live there.  The guy that actually lived there was uninterested when we introduced ourselves, but we interested his friend Ralph, and we are planning to go see him sometime this week.  Third one, not home.  So we decided to go finding down Yoda and Darth Maul drive.  Weird names, I know.  But we ended up finding like 5 new people!  It was amazing.  Too many stories to share with limited time unfortunately, but I will share one.  We were walking down Darth Maul and Sis. Buckner told me to pick a house.  I chose one, we knocked on the door, and the man was really excited to see us.  He introduced himself immediately, invited us in, introduced us to his wife, and we sat down.  They said that they are looking for friends their age, a church to go to, and they have briefly talked to the missionaries before.  I couldn't believe it!  They were the most prepared people ever!  We have an appointment set to go back to see them with the Bishop and Sister S this Saturday.  So we are really excited.
We then headed to dinner with the C's.  We had a wonderful meal and had a lesson about the 10 commandments.  We went over the hand signals that missionaries teach kids so they can remember them.  It was really fun.  Then we went to teach a less active who the bishop actually baptized like 25 years ago.  So bishop is coming back with us this Saturday as well!  Then we went to go to try to see T again, but he wasn't home.  So we sang a couple of songs for his mom and niece, went home, planned, and went to bed.

We woke up, went to ward council, had an amazing sacrament meeting with President and Sister Craven as the speakers, went to Gospel Principles which went WAY too deep into temples.  So now we are going to have to teach a simple lesson on temples for our investigators to undo the damage.  haha  We then had Priesthood and Relief Society taught by the Craven's.  We had interviews after church which went really well.  Yes, I passed.  Then we had a couple of hours to go finding, which wasn't very successful, but quite entertaining.  A man looked at us and asked, "Do you know Jesus like I know Jesus?"  We kind of giggled and said, "Yes.  We know we do."  He asked what church we go to.  We read our nametags to him and he said, "Well... I don't think you do, but I hope you learn someday."  He shut the door and we just started laughing.  haha  Then we went to go to MM's for dinner.  She made BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and choco cake for dessert.  After eating and visiting with everyone, we went to go send our numbers email, (WE GOT 15 LESSONS!)  That's the highest I've ever gone!  And we went home to plan and go to bed.

Hopefully some of the stories this week have made you laugh and have uplifted you about the miracles of missionary work.
I am so happy I get the blessing to be a missionary and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Thank you for the information about family history.  You'll be interested to know that we are actually setting up a ward activity with the family history consultants and the bishop to get everyone excited about family history.  So if you could send me some of the most fun, random, and exciting stories we have from our family sometime this week, I would greatly appreciate it!

I am glad that my sisters are doing so well!  GOOD JOB ON DECA BETH!  I am soooo excited!  Very fitting category to be competing in as well!  ;)  You took first?!  That's amazing!  Cait... keep bing you?  haha  And Em.. I hope you feel better soon!

Remember that I love you guys more than you can ever imagine.  I am going to try to get hand-written letters done this week.  And I am going to try to get emails written out for cousins and grandparents if possible.  But there is such limited time.  So i'll let you know what I can get done!  I know this is a super long email.  But I just had to update you all on my amazing week!  I would love to hear the genealogy stories soon if you have time, mom.  If there is anything I can do for you guys, let me know!



Monday, January 19, 2015

Our Mom's Have Known Each Other For Years ...
and We Just Met Each Other For The First Time in North Carolina !!!

Hey you guys!  How are you?  I miss you tons and tons!
To my sisters - Start practicing journal writing now!!!  It will really help! Anyway... Here it is!

We woke up, studied, went to email, then we got Chick-Fil-A for lunch.  Then we had to get our grocery shopping done, so we drove across the street to Wal-Mart.  But how could we ever do grocery shopping in a boring manner?!  We decided to do English accents the entire time we were shopping.  (And even though I'm out of practice, with my vast knowledge on English literature, it wasn't that far off!)  Plus, the looks we got from EVERYONE in the store were priceless!!!!  The only time we switched from English to American, is when we had to ask where something was and when we ran into a less-active... Haha.  After Wal-Mart, we went over to K-Mart to see what NC merchandise they had there.  They were kind of low on stock, so I think we are going to come back today to see.  Then I bought something I needed to make mom's birthday present.  My goal was to send it off this week, but unfortunately, I won't be able to send it till next week.  Sorry... I still love you.  Haha. Then we went to dinner at the C's house,  we had a downscale version of Navajo Tacos that were super good.  They doubled as dessert when you put honey and powered sugar on them.  Then we went to try to see our investigator, but he wasn't home.  So we went to a sister and talked to her.  She doesn't want to come to church.  Her reasoning is that she wants to bring her kids to our church because she knows it's true, but her kids attend another church and she would rather go to church with them.  :(  Then our time had run out for the night.  So we headed home, planned, and went to bed.

We woke up and basically had to head straight for King's Mountain after getting ready for the morning because we had to catch our ride into Gastonia for Zone Meeting.  It was rather amusing because the elders were teaching their recent convert a lesson on the way there because he was the one that was bringing us.  The amusing part was that when we got in the truck, Elder P put a pillow (that was randomly found in the truck) in between us and said, "Pillow Barricade.  Pass and be vanquished!"  Haha  Our elders are interesting sometimes, but we love them.  Then we got to sit back and relax and listen to them teach a lesson on the resurrection.  That was sure interesting, because the new member asked TONS of questions.  We then got to Zone Meeting.  It was great because I got to see Sister M.  She's the greatest.  I can't even describe it!  Zone Meeting was based around sacrifice and teaching people, not lessons.  I was trying to get the picture with Elder S on our first break, but we didn't have time.  So we sat back down for accountability, and then had a second break.  I went up to him and said, "Hi Elder S.  It's nice to meet you."  I said this because I wasn't sure that he remembered me.  We shook hands and he said, "It's so good to see you here Sister Irwin.  WAIT!!"  He looked at me super confused for a second, then I said, "Did your mom mention... Me?"  He still looked confused then said, "OH MY GOSH!  You're Dr. Keith's Granddaughter!  He is the best!  What are the odds?  I can't believe this!  So where are you from?  How are you doing?  How is your family?"  He got really excited, really, really fast!  I kind of giggled and told him that everyone was good and that I am living in Spanish Fork!  He was shocked that we had lived so close for all these years and we had not been friends.  He made me promise that we are going to hang out when we get home and with that, we had to sit back down.  It was super funny!  After Zone Meeting, we went to a place called Tequila's Mexican Restaurant.  I love that place!  It is the closest thing to real Mexican out here.  Then we came back and exchanged with the Sister Training Leaders.  I went to Alexandriana with Sister L.  It was really fun.  Unfortunately, we didn't get to teach many lessons because it was cold and no one was home when we were knocking... But I learned a lot.  We did however get to teach a man.  That was interesting.  They aren't going to teach him anymore because he is so closed off to all of our teachings, but the things he did were so funny.  She asked him to start with a prayer, so he went to grab his prayer beads.  She started freaking out and didn't know what to do.  He also told us halfway through the lesson that there is no way that Christ is the son of God because that would mean he is half mortal, and mortals are made of mud!  Anyways... After we went to teach him, we went finding a little more and found a man out walking his dog.  He listened to our quickened version of the restoration and said we could come back the next day.  Then we went home, planned, and went to bed.

We woke up, studied, made lunch, then we went to R's to talk about the restoration.  He was really receptive to the message and wanted them to come back on Friday.  But I won't be there, so you know...
Then we tried to do some more finding.  But again, there was no one home and it was really cold.  So we decided to go back to Gastonia and do our evaluation, then switch back with the other sisters.  We headed back toward Shelby.  We had to go back to have lunch, so after that, we tried to go to contact a referral for the second time and then we went to go see some less-actives.  But again, NO ONE WAS HOME!  Haha  So we decided to head for King's Mountain to go teach a lesson to our investigators.  We brought the Elder's new convert with us to friendship them.  We talked about the restoration again because they hadn't heard that discussion yet.  Overall, it went well and they were really receptive.  Then our night got all flipped around.  Sister B had planned without me because of exchanges the night before.  So we switched some plans around and decided to go see a couple of people they had met the night before and some less-actives that live around them.  But guess what??  No one was home... Again!!  So what we did was, we called the Ward Mission Leader and asked if we could go send an email using the wifi from their family's lake house because we were super close.  He found no problem with it, so we headed that direction.  Well, Brother P had forgotten to disable his family's alarm system before we got there.  Great... Right?  We unlocked the door and tripped the alarm!  And you know those baby alarm systems that are just there to scare people off?  It wasn't that.  There were at least three different alarm sounds and it was loud enough to hear on the whole block!  Yay!  So we did what any normal human being would do... Oh wait!  We aren't normal.  Sister B sat down and started freaking out because "She was a missionary.  Missionaries can't go to jail!"  I told her to calm down because we had permission to be there.  Meanwhile, I stood there trying to devise the most clever thing to say to the police when they got there, because I figured they were on the way.  This was all after we called him to tell him what happened.  He laughed and took the blame.  Then we had to go into spy mode because he told us that we had to get into the house without tripping any more alarms, get upstairs, disable the system, and act like nothing ever happened.  Easy enough right?  Haha  We finally got the system disabled, he got a call from the chief of police about it, had to call off the cops, send our email, and be on our way!  ALL THAT FOR ONE LOUSY EMAIL!  Lol  Then we decided that we had better go to Bible Study because we had an investigator going.  Turns out that the Elders were there that night.  This was a tender mercy from the lord because Sister B needed a blessing, and the elders NEVER come to Bible Study.  So everything aligned perfectly.  Just as the Lord wanted it.  After the blessing, we chatted for a minute, then we home to have dinner because by this time, it was around 8:30.  Then we planned and went to bed.

We woke up, studied, then we had 3 hours of weekly planning.  This was nice because my ankle was really hurting and it was freezing outside!  After that, we planned to eat lunch, go see some former investigators, who weren't home, and go marinating (knocking) in the area.  But no one was home and that is when we got lost and ended up at the giant salt pile!  After a while of being lost, we had to head home at 3:30 to go to dinner with the S's.  Who eats dinner that early?!  Anyway, they picked us up and we went to their house for roast, potatoes, slaw, carrots, and beans.  It was super good.  Brother S is a very spiritual man that apparently gives amazing blessings.  He kept asking me questions over dinner about my mission.  He asked me what I hoped to get out of my mission and I responded, "I hope to gain the knowledge and experience necessary for me to raise my children and my family in the way that God would have me and the way that I want to."  He said that was the best answer he had ever heard from a sister missionary.  That made me feel all nice and fuzzy inside.  He then asked how long I had been out, and I said a little under four months.  He was shocked by that and said he would've guessed nine or ten because of my knowledge and testimony of the gospel.  :)  After dinner, we went to T's house to teach him a lesson.  He was really close to baptism like I mentioned last week, but he is having a hard time giving up tea and coffee.  We are going to teach one more hardcore commitment lesson and then we are going to see where it goes, so I'll let you know.  After the S's dropped us off, we were supposed to go teach a few more lessons, but we ended up teaching a drop lesson to a bible referral, then we went home to work on our finding map, planned, and went to bed.

We woke up, studied, then we went to go finding for a few hours and we went to update Facebook and our areabooks.  After this, we decided to go to IHOP for lunch.  This was so far past amazing!  We had all you can eat pancakes with bacon, eggs, and hashbrowns.  So so so good!  Then we spent (no joke) like 3-4 hours contacting less actives, referrals, etc.  but no one was home and no one would answer the door.  Then we went to a new member's house for dinner.  She made us chicken, noodles, and gravy.  Yum! And I had an allergic reaction to the salad dressing because it had bell peppers in it.  Yay!  Haha  Then we tried to go see a contact that Sister B had found on exchange.  They were home, but they didn't come to the door.  Unfortunate.  So after we tried to contact a few people, we decided to go to a less actives house.  His name is J and he is fantastic.  The only thing is, he is really old and can't get to church for health reasons. 

We woke up, studied, then we were supposed to go see our investigator named S, but she cancelled on us, so we went to do service for some members at their store.  We were able to really help them before they had to leave for the day, so that makes me feel good.  Then we sat in our car and ate our packed lunches for an hour, and headed to go contact a Bible referral who asked us right off the bat how she could come to church and receive a blessing.  So we are thinking that she is going to be a solid contact.  Then we went to go see some less actives and one said that she was the member that fed the elders oppossum a few years back.  Then... She offered to feed us sometime…  Anyway, then we went to dinner at Pizza Inn with the P's.  Then we headed home to go to a lesson with J and L with the J's.  Well that lesson on the plan of salvation went really well, we just ended up spending 2 hours there instead of a half an hour because Sister J really likes to talk about gospel topics.  So since our night was pretty much blown after that, they decided to take us out for Japanese food. 

We woke up, got ready, and went to church.  We were really excited because we had our investigators J and L show up and they told the Bishop's wife that they were thinking of coming all the time!  Hooray!  After the block, we went home, had lunch, recorded the songs for you, and went to try to contact some less actives for a few hours.  We contacted three of them, but they were all so busy that they had asked us to come back sometime this week or next week.  Then we headed to our dinner appointment to help with whatever we could.  Dinner was the best!  We went to M’s and had the best food!  K and W (other members of the ward) came to dinner, which made it even better.  K served her mission in Charlotte and never left.  She met her husband at institute in Charlotte, and they got married a few months later.  Her husband is basically a real life Sheldon Cooper.  IT IS FANTASTICALLY MARVELOUS!  You know how much I love the “Big Bang Theory” We laughed a good bit, sent an email to the zone leaders, and went home to plan and go to bed.

So that was my week.  Overall, the work is going really well.  The three weeks I have been here, we have surpassed our goals for total lessons each week.  Much improvement over meeting our goals in  Pilot Mountain!!!  I am doing a lot better!  Things are getting more familiar and I am feeling better as well! Oh!  Speaking of which, I went to see the doctor about my ankle this week and he said that what happened was that there could have been a hairline fracture at the very beginning, but there is no way to know for sure.  The theory about a high ankle sprain isn't that far off either.  But according to the x-rays he took, (By the way, that is the third time taking them!  I am going to get freaking cancer in my leg or something!), he found that ligaments are torn in my ankle.  And every time I step wrong on it or bend it the wrong way, it gets stretched out even farther.  He said the best thing to do for it is just wear the brace like I have been, doing the exercises that you sent me because I can't go to physical therapy, and it should heal by itself in another 3-6 months.  He said if it isn't completely healed by then, it may require surgery.  I asked him if that could wait until I got home from my mission and he said yes.  He said, "If you wait, it shouldn't get worse by any means."   I AM SO HAPPY!
I'm glad you had so much fun while Grandma and Grandpa were there.  Oh, and Sister B and I have decided that we are attending church with Aunt Debbie when we get home if the general authorities sometimes attend.  Haha  JK... No but really.  ;)

Answers to questions:
1. My companion is amazing.  She is so amazingly weird (like me), that we have made it a thing.  Like I said earlier, we walked around Walmart doing English accents, we talk about BYU Provo stereotypes, etc. we get along splendidly.
2. Above
3. The food is much better.  Lots of roast and barbecue.  No complaints from this happy missionary.  
4. The baptism may or may not happen.  He literally just texted us telling us that the pressure from everyone to get baptized is getting to be too much and is driving him away from the church,  so we'll see.  I'll keep you updated.
5. Most of the new friends on Facebook are members, only one or two of our investigators actually have Facebook.  Which makes posting and Facebook lessons harder, but oh well.
6. The Weather has been really nice the last few days.  It's around 40-60 degrees typically and sunny.  really really nice!  :)
7. His name is Allen B. Alexander and his wife's name is Denise.  Basically all we know about him at this point is what is on  Go look him up.  He is the only one under that name.  :)
8. The missionaries in my district and zone are really great!  We have a good mix of missionaries and we all get along really well.  As Elder S said at Zine Meeting, "Y.O.S.O.  You only serve once, so make the best of it!"
9. Thank you so much you guys!  You are amazing and I love and pray for you so much every single day
Like I said, I love you soooooo much.  I will be looking forward to those letters if you ever get them sent off.  ;)  Just let me know about the weekly recap and ideas for teaching with family history.  If you have time today, I'd love to get those ideas.  If not, then send them next week.  Thank my two sisters for writing me and tell Emily that I hope to hear from her soon.  Love you to infinity and beyond!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Transfers Came !  Now I am in Shelby NC
"On Guard" 

Hey Mom !  So I have just finished emailing and shopping for the day.  And you know, I was thinking ... my situation really isn't that bad (she was feeling sad that she left Pilot Mountain and the people she had come to love) .  But what's even worse is I am letting myself feel sorry for ... ME!
That isn't how it should be!  This, being said - I decided that it would be good to read a talk by Elder Quentin L Cook called "Hope Ya Know, We Had a Hard Time"  It's funny how the Lord Leads you to those talks & scriptures that help you most - right when you need it.  I encourage you to go read that talk.  And do forgive me for my "down in the dumps day!"  I tried to make the pictures and letters as upbeat as possible.  I hope I succeeded.  I really am enjoying Shelby.  The members are great.  Bishop S and his wife, The P's and the M's are some of the people we have to come back to see.  Oh!  and Sister C and the M's, and the T's!!  Just everyone I guess Sister C is a kick!  She took us into Gastonia for District Meeting last week and when she picked us up she was wearing her "fun week"!  She has a very nice new car and BLASTED MANNHEIM STEAMROLLER's - DECK THE HALLS like we were all "hood" or something!  Plus ... I have Sister B as a companion.  And she's like ... amazing!  She just sits there quietly most of the time, but when I can get her going on something .... she doesn't stop! :)  Plus, my district is great!. We have Me, Sister B, Sister S, Sister M, Elder P, Elder C, Elder S, Elder C, and Elder S - He is from South Hampton, England!  I Love England.

I really have been blessed with a lot.  I just need that little reminder and tap on the shoulder from you guys and Heavenly Father.  SO I DON'T LIKE TONS OF CHANGE !  So What?!  LEARN TO EMBRACE IT!!  After all, traveling is an all new experience all the time.  Maybe I need to look at it like that!  So my ankle hurts?  So What?  Like you said, I could have amoebas.  Or I could be Elder S.  He biffed it on his bike a week before Elder Christofferson was here and Messed up his face.  He had only been out like three weeks. :( And yeah, it landed him the the ER.

So I don't love the dangerous areas of town?  SO WHAT?!  At least i'm not in Russia or Africa like some of my friends dealing with war and Ebola.  Like I said, I really am blessed.  Thank you for putting up with me today.  I really hope you can focus on the happy parts of my email.  I am trying my hardest to put a smile on my face constantly.  Because I learned yesterday that you never know who is watching or listening.

I was joking with the elders.  They asked Sis. B to play the piano for the baptism yesterday and they asked if I would sing a solo.  After I said yes... The were shocked.  They told me they were kidding.  So when we got there, I said, "Elders, What happened to my solo? I was so looking forward to it" (just joking with them)  They just laughed and then 5 minutes later a member asked me, "Did you really want to solo Sister Irwin?"  I didn't even know we were all speaking loudly enough for anyone else to hear us.

I few minutes before that, a young girl came up to me and said, "Sister Irwin, you always look like you just enjoy being a missionary and doing missionary things.  You make me want to go on a mission even more now."  I didn't know she had been watching me.  Plus, she had seen me cry at transfer meeting and a little during church.  Goes to show how influential missionaries really are.

In the talk I was reading, it references D&C 121:7-8 "My [daughter], peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment (my ankle), And then if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes."  Isn't that a great reminder of why we're all sent to earth?  Who said it was going to be easy?  If I can't do this ... then what can I do?  After all, I am 1/6 done and can already tell you more than 20 families that I have blessed and that have bless me.

To My Sisters:  Girls, missions are NOT a piece of cake. BUT .. they are worth every living second of it.  I hope you can tell as much as I can how much my mission is already changing me for the better!  If any of you have the desire to go serve the Lord for 18 months DO IT!!!!!!  I can already tell you that it is the best decision I have ever made up to this point in my life.  As I was telling Sister B yesterday. "  Let's knock every house that we can.  It would kill me to know that if I skipped a few roads while tracting, there could be that one brother or sister of mine that I promised that I would find; that has been praying and hoping that we could bring them home."  I also siad "we won't be able to do everything, but we can sure try our hardest.  God will bring them to us or us to them either way."  It means the world to me to know that my eternal family is always loving, supporting and cheering for me !!!

Now we just need to bring that blessing to others!  Mom - thank you for being a little rough with me !  I needed it !  DOn't get me wrong.  I love a little sympathy.  But, it took you and daddy being encouraging yet realistic, to get me don off my high horse and remind me that I AM NOT THE REASON I'M HERE!!!


Love, Ash

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

It’s my 3 Month Mark !!!

Isn't that nuts?  I never thought I'd make it this long.  But we can't stop now!  I just finished training and I am now in a new area with a new comp!  Transfers was a really good meeting.  The testimonies heard from those leaving the mission were both amazing and inspiring.  It was kind of hard because I had to say goodbye to one of my zone leaders and one of my sister training leaders.  It was also really, abnormally hard because I had to say "see you later" to the best trainer in the world and one of my new best friends.  But, so goes mission life.  I got transferred to a new area called Shelby, NC.  We thought it was interesting that I went straight from the border of Virginia to the border of South Carolina.  Haha  But anyways, my feelings on my new area as of yet are undetermined.  Half, if not more than half of the city is very poor and a little scary.  Most of our investigators live on the most dangerous streets too.  So that's great.  But at least we have God on our side... Right?  But then there are those areas of Shelby that are ridiculously nice and out of place.  So I am trying to go knocking in those areas as well so we can spend some more time there.  ;)

My new comps name is Sister B ( I seem to like that initial ).  She is from Vernal, UT.  She goes to BYU Provo.  She is really sweet, just a little quiet.  In fact, she classified herself as an introvert.  Yay!  Haha  Y'all know that I am the farthest thing from introverted.  (Did you like the y'all?)  ;)  But I am trying my hardest to get her to talk more.  She is interested in a lot of the same things I am.  (i.e. Disney, Sherlock, England, etc). So that's really nice.

Anyways, mom - I can try and work on being in the right place at the right time, but you know how I am.  ;)  In the way of transfers:  Sister B went to Kernersville, Elder H went to Albermarle, and I didn't catch where Elder G went... But he's training!  Yay!  Also, FUN FACT: Elder S is in my zone now!  So expect a picture of the both of us next week.  We are going to try to take one with him at zone meeting so that we can show his mom.  :)

MY NEW ADDRESS FOR SHELBY IS: Please contact my mom for it !

I hope that I will be getting lots of mail and packages and things.  Looking so forward to it!  Is dad planning on picking me up some things for me when he’s traveling?  Hint hint!  ;)  Oh, and I guess I can forgive the fact that Beth and Em still didn't write me this week... :(  But I hope to be getting a hand-written letter from each of you!  :)  Mom.. Maybe you can set aside an hour or something on Sunday's and have everyone write me an email.  I would love it !!  Missionaries hunger for mail!  ;)
Oh!  Speaking of what missionaries love - The elders packages

I can't believe I am turning 20 at the end of the month.  That is simply crazy to me.  I am two decades old!  One guy last night that we met while door knocking said that I look 13 years old and that the cops should be pulling me over for walking the streets...?  So essentially he was calling me a 13-year old prostitute?  Hahahahaha  We and the elders had a grand old laugh about that one last night during call ins.  Lol  Can you believe that though?  It's insane!
I am glad that you are able to talk to Sister M and D M.  We did get to say goodbye to her, but she started crying.  She was really sad.  I told her I can't email until I get home, but that I promised I would.  She emailed me and said she missed her little girl and that the elders are a bore.  Haha
We are being put back on full-car, but we still have limited miles.  So we are going to have to walk sometimes.  It has been dreadful weather the past few days.  Non stop rain.  So bad in fact, that the boots that I bought for my brace?  The lining ripped and ruined the soles.  So now I have to buy new soles and shoe goo to fix it.  Haha. But at least I know how so I don't have to waste them.  Plus, the members here are good about giving us rides when we ask for them.  And NO!  We are unfortunately not missing the storms.  But for the most part, it is okay weather.  :)

I am glad that you got to get the house all done up.  Send me pictures of the exercise room.  I can't wait to see it!  Tell grandma irwin that I really hope she gets feeling better soon.  That is awful!  :(  Haha  You are saying that it is warming up to 28 degrees today.  Meanwhile, I walk outside and freeze even when it is 49 degrees outside today.  Humidity is awful.  You are freezing, so you don't want to take your coat off.  But you are sweating buckets underneath it.  Lose-lose.  Haha

It's good that you had a manageable New Year's Party.  That's good.  I saw 80 and almost died!  Haha  Sad that you missed Brenna though.  Maybe next time.
Wait... Why does Beth hate AP Art?  I thought it was supposed to be fun...?  And I know they aren't excited.  But hey, at least you're not running the risk of getting hit by a semi every day while walking down the side of the highway... Right?  Oh wait, that's me.  "The grass is always greener, in somebody else's lake."  ;)
Mom - I am glad that you have that New Year's Resolution.  I am going to have the same one when I get home.  And you're going to have to help me!  Southerners have no concept of that.

And I also know why you went on that Tangent.  You know how you and I always know when each other are having a bad day, so we call each other to talk it out?  Well, I have been having a really really hard time here lately and I prayed all of yesterday that I would get some inspiring words.  I even got a blessing.  But it basically told me to look at things through the Savior's eyes and think about how hard his mission was.  So I felt a little chastised.  Haha  Maybe I am being too quick to judge a situation for my own benefit...?  Let me tell everyone that is reading this: A mission is there to humble you.  These people are in some of the worst situations that I have ever seen.  It reminds me how blessed I really am and how much I take for granted.  Sometimes we will even give a pass along card to someone and tell them to go to MORMON.ORG without remembering that some people down here don't even have access to a computer because even at the library, you need a current ID, which a lot of them don't have. 

My New Year's Resolution is to become more Christlike, to learn as much as possible from the scriptures, and become so in tune with the spirit while I am out here that I will be able to help people of all situations.  :)  Sp mom, I know that what you wrote was for me and that it helped me a lot.  Plus, props to us for still being in sync and not even trying!  :)

I don't think I will do a weekly recap this week.  All you missed out on last week was caroling with the elders.  Although, that was insanely fun!  They thought it wouldn't be, but I made them, and they LOVED IT!  This week has been a lot of getting to know new people and trying to get to know the area.  Anyways..  That's about it for today.  Plus I had to write on my iPad, so it took wayyyy longer than necessary.  Haha

I love you all soooo much!  Keep my in your prayers!  Send me letters!
I'll talk to you guys next week.  LOVE YOU TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!