ASHLEY IS TURNING 20 THIS WEEK ! HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEETHEART!
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.
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!
LOVE YOU TONS!