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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It Doesn't Snow Here - It Rains Ice !!!!  I Thought I Was Going To The South Where It Is Warm ???          

Ashley Irwin
Feb 23 at 10:58 AM
Hey everybody!  How are you guys doing?

This week, I didn't have tons and tons of spiritual experiences, but there are a couple.  There are also a couple of funny moments, and sad/happy moments.  So I'll include all of those as well!

Okay.  So let's see...

We went to Gastonia to meet up with the Elders and Sisters there.  We had planned a district activity that day.  So we went to meet up with them, then to Charlotte we went!  We went to the Premium Outlets in Charlotte!  I MISS SHOPPING SOOOO MUCH!  It was really fun, but more so because I could live vicariously through Sister M, who was going home on Saturday, so she could buy whatever she wanted to.  So we went to Nike first.  Because all of the Elders wanted new basketball shoes.  A couple of them were even contemplating buying shoes for over $120.  I don't understand why you would spend that much money on shoes that you are probably going to end up leaving here because they won't fit in your suitcase at the end of your mission.  But oh well, their choice, not mine.  We went to a few other stores, and then Sister M wanted me to go back to Nike to get these Purple High Tops that she wanted oh so badly.  They were really cute though.  And they were on sale!  So we went back to get them.  One of the stores we went in to had all of this superhero stuff and band merchandise, so Elder C wouldn't go in with us.  He said that it was a "Satanic Store".  So we went in to see what they had.  The majority of the stock was Batman, One Direction, Sherlock, Dr. Who, etc.  They even had a My Little Pony section.  Sister M and I wanted to get some jewelry.  She wanted this bracelet and a necklace.  I just wanted a bracelet.  But the necklace that she wanted came in a set of two, so I have the gold one and she has the silver one!  Awww PRESH!  It was really funny though.  We walked out of the store only to find Elder P and Elder C.  Elder C was giving us this look of pure and utter disgust!  It had to be the funniest thing I have ever seen because we literally did nothing wrong!  In fact, the bracelet she wanted happened to have a tree that looked similar to the tree of life on it.  LOL  When we got home, We tried to go buy Eggs, Milk, and Bread.  Now, the weather was really bad that day and they expected a snow storm.  I have NEVER seen those things FLY off the shelves faster than they did that day.  There was NOTHING!  We were forced to buy Reduced Sugar Almond Milk to get us by until the middle of the week.  Then, once we got home, we got a call saying that we couldn't drive anywhere for the next two days because the roads were too bad.  Figures... right?  haha  So we stayed in and worked on a couple of things we needed to catch up on in the apartment.  Oh, and when I say it "snowed", it didn't.  IT ICED!  There are little chunks of ice that fall from the sky.  And it hurts!  


We basically had to stay inside all day long.  We taught some Facebook lessons, We watched Johnny Lingo and The Phone Call, and basically had to catch up on studies because we couldn't walk or drive anywhere.  I had never felt so antsy!  Well... one other time I did.  When Sister B was sick in Pilot.  We couldn't do anything then either.  But anyways...!  The really funny thing that happened this day was, we had dinner with the M's that night.  We didn't really want to cancel it, because they are the closest ward members to us.  So we figured we could just walk.  We walked the two miles to their house in the snow.  It really wasn't that bad.  We even found a sign outside of Family Dollar that informed the public that they had bread in stock!  ;)  But when we got there, we were telling them about the sign and Sister M said, "By that, do you mean that you two WALKED HERE!?"  We nodded our heads, and Brother M looked at us and said, "YOU DOOFUSES!"  haha  Apparently they have gone on and on about it for days!  But it's okay.  Because we all had a good laugh about it.  That night, we got Transfer Calls.  We found out that both Sister B and I and the Shelby Elders were all staying in SHELBY!  WOOHOO!  But the Gastonia sisters got pulled, and two of the three elders in the Gastonia Elders' trio were leaving.  :(  BUT I GET TO STAY FOR THE BAPTISM!


We had district meeting in the morning.  This was a very spiritual district meeting because we left time for departing testimonies from Sister Meads and the rest of us.  Then we all wrote our testimonies down in our journals.  I do so encourage each of you to try this if you haven't already!  It is so neat to be able to write down my testimony of the gospel, and be able to look back on it at later points in my mission and later points in life.  I am so excited to see how it grows over the years and even over the course of my mission.  I will include some of it here:

"I have a testimony of this true and living gospel.  We are so blessed to know all of the things that we do because of our religious freedom.  There is no other way by which we can return to our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ than by studying about them each day and striving to do our very best to live the way that He would have us live and to accomplish the things that we want to, both in our lives and in the gospel.  I know for a fact that Joseph Smith is a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator.  I am so thankful for his willingness to act upon the impressions that he got at such a young age.  Because of his service, we are able to have the Book of Mormon and Prophets to lead us and guide us today."

On Thursday,

We were able to do weekly planning.  After that, we went to go help one of the youth in the ward, I M, start her family history.  We wanted to do this so that she could have some names to do the work for when she goes to the temple on the 14th.  But we ran in to hours and hours of issues.  Mom - I will send the issues we are running into in another email and maybe you will be able to help me work them out.  But we are convinced that this ward is going to do amazing things with Genealogy because the adversary is working his very hardest to make sure that we run into EVERY issue possible so that these people cannot get their work done.  But who said that a few confusions and issues are ever going to stop me?  I just need a little assistance from the two best genealogists that I know (Mom and Grandpa) because the family history consultant here hasn't done it in years and can't answer any of my questions.  But we WILL work this out.  Also, that night we had dinner with some of the recent converts in the ward. 


We went early in the morning to help the T's unload a box truck.  After we had unloaded all of it, we were cold and very, very dirty.  We were planning on going home to eat and change before we were going to go finding and teaching.  But, we had noticed that we had a missed call from the Zone Leaders.  We called them back and he was asking us if our baptism was still set for Saturday, how we were doing, etc.  Then he said, "Did you sisters get a ride for your new companion to Shelby after Transfers today?"  We were like, "WAIT... WHAT?"  We were totally scrambling.  We had to set up the extra bed that we had in our apartment, go to habitat to get a desk, set up the apartment, and get a ride for her by 4:00!  That was insane!
BUT I'M IN A TRIO NOW!  It's me, Sister B, and sister G!  She is super sweet!  She is from Lehi, Utah.  We all teach together so well!  And we get along splendidly.  I will be able to answer more questions if you have any later today or on Monday!  :)


We had two baptisms that morning!  B and L B’s got baptized!  They were so happy and so excited to finally be able to enter the waters of baptism and receive all of the blessings that we had been telling them about.  The really spiritual part of the baptism, other than seeing the beautiful smiles on their faces, was Sister P's "Welcome to Relief Society" for L.  She said that while she watched them be baptized, she could almost see the faces of Jesus Christ and John the Baptist while she was watching them.  She said this was a true testimony to her and everyone else at the baptism, that we are all truly following the example of the Lord Jesus Christ by entering into the Waters of Baptism and taking upon us, His name.  I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to find, teach, and assist in baptizing these two wonderful children of God our Eternal Father.  I love them with all my heart!  They are always going to be my friends and my converts.  They always tell us how much we mean to them, and I wouldn't trade that for the world!


Was a day of getting more comfortable in a trio.  In church, we were able to friendship lots of members, Sister G got to know a lot of people, and we got to know how well we get along together.  After church, we all watched Johnny Lingo while eating lunch.  (Because Sister Grace has never seen it).  Then we were able to go teach two lessons.  When we were teaching a man named T yesterday, he said that he thinks we might be someone that God sent to him, and that he needed to listen to us.  Although we weren't able to teach the entire restoration, we were able to teach him about the Book of Mormon, and he accepted the invitation to read it and to pray about it.  One thing I learned from Sister G yesterday, (because she has a lot of mission knowledge - being out ten months and all), was that if we mess up in lessons and don't deliver the message in the way that we wanted to, maybe it's because that is the way that the investigators or the less-actives needed to hear it.  Interesting... right?  I had never thought about it that way.

Other than that, I am pretty good.  I have had a couple of moments where I have been homesick this week, but I say moments because they were brief.  I do miss you guys tons, but I wouldn't trade the work that I am doing at this time, for these people, for anything in the world.  It's amazing!

The weather is pretty weird.  At the beginning of the week, we were having ice storms and it was 2-6 degrees.  But the past couple of days it has been around 57-60.  We even went for a run this morning.  Granted, mine was a walk/jog because my foot started hurting.  But I'll take it.  I am glad I am a little more south than I was in my last area though.  According to pictures, they got dumped on and it's super cold!  ;)

Sister B is a lot better.  I think she was just getting a little worried about transfers.  But we are all good now and we adore Sister G!  And the California family will be glad to hear that, she is an ANGELS FAN!  :)

I got Sister Burrows to send you a friend request on Facebook and she says that she will send you her new phone number if you want it.  :)

I am glad to hear that Elder Standefer's homecoming went so well.  I will definitely tell MawMaw that the elders say hello.  We actually went over to eat with her last night.  MawMaw's real name is S M.  She is Brother M's Mother.  Bishop S is doing well, but can you guys please pray for their daughter.  She has been in and out of the hospital her whole pregnancy and had to go to the ER again yesterday because of a serious migraine, and since she can't take anything due to the pregnancy, she could use a lot of prayers.  The girls they were talking about are the W's.  I have mentioned their grandmother Sister M before.  And yes, they still live here.

I am still in Shelby, so please keep sending letters and packages to the same address.  And go ahead and send the vitamins as well (with the apartment number) in the next couple of days.  I am out of the main one already, so I would greatly appreciate it.

YES!  Tell Bethany to email me with pictures of Sweethearts so I can see everything!  I am glad that the little ones are doing well.  And I am glad that Cait can play soccer again this year.  She was doing so well last year!  DON'T BE AFRAID TO GET IN THERE BABE!  The genealogy is doing well, I don't know if there is anything you can help with right now, but I did mention that you are willing to.  So if they ask for your number, I'll give it to them. 

What kind of dancing did you and dad do at the Sweethearts dance?
You're right!  The zoo was soooo fun!

I have had an interesting week.  It has been a lot of cleaning, preparing, and rearranging, but it has been good.  I missed you guys a little more this week, but I notice that it happens around every transfer meeting that I get a little bit homesick.  So oh well.  Satan didn't really mess with us or with our investigators before the baptism other than that though, so that's always good!

I am doing great and I will let you guys know if I need anything!  I love you lots and lots and lots and lots!  Loves and Hugs from NC!


P.S.  I am off to play Settlers of Catan with the elders.  Wish us luck?  ;)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

We Went To The Zoo

In The Pouring Rain
And Had A Blast

Ashley Irwin
Feb 16 at 4:04 PM


WE WENT TO THE ZOO!  It was... Shall we say... An interesting experience?  You see, when we finished planning that morning, we got two voicemails from the zone leaders.  One said that we didn't have to wear "Proselyting  Clothes"!  Yay!  We got to wear... JEANS!  The second voicemail was Elder Morrow doing his impression of a weatherman.  He said, "Elders and Sisters today we are expecting a slight chance of precipitation overhead, hope to still see you there!"  But there was no way rain was going to stop us!  It didn't start raining though, until we headed into Gastonia to meet up with Sister M and Sister T to ride up there.  We also had to take our car in that day to Firestone while we were at the zoo to get a leak checked out.  I thought it was brake fluid, one member thought it was power steering, one member thought radiation, and one member thought oil.  So we just brought it in to find out for sure.  So once we headed into Gastonia, it started POURING!  We couldn't see ten feet in front of us!  But we made it safely.  Then the sisters picked us up from there and we were on our way.  It was a total party!  Sister M is always a good time!  On the way, we were looking for a place to eat, so she screamed, "SISTERS!  BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR CHICK-FIL-A!" over the blasting gospel music!  Once we found one, she barreled across the highway, we spent ten minutes looking for the actual building, stopped to inhale our food and keep heading to the zoo! 

Now, when I say zoo, it was really more of a ranch.  But it was the closest thing within our boundaries and they had giraffes and zebras.  So I'm counting it!  We got there and it was still down pouring.  We went in the gift shop and we all decided that it would be more fun to pay the ten dollars each for the hay ride than to try to see which animals would come out in the rain.  SO WORTH IT!  We saw Emus, Ostriches, Buffalo, Bison, tons of Llamas, Deer (My favorite because they had baby deer), Giraffes, and Zebras.  I am probably missing a couple, but you get the picture.  :)  The entire time we were on the wagon, we were allowed to feed all the animals but the zebras and these weird cow things with mega horns!  I'll show you a picture.  But because we were allowed to feed them, they would not stop following us the entire time!  We felt like Noah in the Ark the way they would follow us!  After the hay ride, we went to see a couple of animals like the wallabies and such, took a zone picture, and had to head home.  (The wagon ride takes about two hours).  So we headed back, smelling AWFUL!  It was like animal feed, wet fur, and slobber all mixed into one smell.  Rank, rank I tell you!  Haha  But as we got back into Gastonia, we had the sisters drop us off at Firestone and leave.  Well, since I am the "experienced" one with cars in the companionship, (thank you dad), I got the task of figuring out what to do about the car.  But, when we talked to the manager, he said it was a good thing that we had our car towed into the shop because it was leaking engine oil and if they started the car without this part they had to order, it was going to explode.  Guess the drive from Shelby that morning wasn't the BEST idea ever... But I wasn't going to tell them that.  Our vehicle coordinator called and asked if we did have it towed and started to get irritated because we hadn't asked permission to tow it.  When I told him we had actually drove it in he said, "Whoops.  Don't tell them that!"  And he started laughing and wished us luck on getting home.  So there we were.  Stranded an hour from Shelby.  We called the sisters, had them take us to the church, and we got a ride home from the P's when they offered to come get us.  Eventful day... Right?  The sisters said we should have just stayed at their house and slept over for zone meeting in the morning, but Sister Buckner said no.  :(


We had zone meeting this day.  It was absolutely amazing!  We had an amazing training given by a member of the Gastonia ward.  Brother B trained on how to more involve members in missionary work.  He is also really into psychology.  So he went around and "read our body language and speech" as we were role playing.  That was a little weird.  But he is really cool, so I didn't mind it.  We had an amazing rendition of If You Could Hie to Kolob by Sister T.  Then, we were going to have a training on using Facebook in the work, but it was going to ruin the spirit in the room.  So the STL's did their training, and we had departing testimonies from the missionaries going home.  Talk about spiritual!  Elder S and Sister M made me cry the most.  I probably sat there for a straight ten minutes and just cried.  Then, after the meeting was over, I went to congratulate and say goodbye to Elder S.  He then proceeded to make me cry again.  Unintentionally of course!  I am just a big sap when it comes to missionaries going home!  If I could simply just tell you how much I enjoy zone meetings!  (Apart from role playing of course, that's awful!)  But the spirit you feel and the things you learn are indescribable.  And I do take lots and lots of notes! After zone meeting, we ended up waiting for a baptismal interview to be done, going to lunch and an appointment with the Gastonia sisters!  By the way, I really LOVE hibachi grills!  Mmmmmm!  The appointment was good, we were teaching one of their new converts about family history and temple work!  So very appropriate for what my talk was on this week.  Then we hurried to go pick up the car so we could get to our dinner appointment.  Then we basically planned and made up for the time we lost.


Unfortunately, this was one of those days where we didn't have any solid lessons scheduled or they had fallen through.  So we planned to help a ward member chop some wood for he and his wife so they could stay warm this upcoming week.  They find it pointless to pay for heat and air conditioning for some reason... Lol.  But since I had chopped wood before, (again, thank you dad), I let Sister B go first.  We had to first chop a piece of wood by hand for "experience".  It took her about 50 swings to finally get it.  But it was pretty good for her first time chopping wood with an ax.  Then it was my turn.  It took me all of 5 swings to chop it.  He gave me oak, which is harder to split.  I was a little rusty, but I split it nonetheless.  ;)  Then we got to split the rest of the truck load of wood with the wood splitter.  That thing is AMAZING!  If we had a wood fireplace, I would tell you to invest in one!  All you have to do is set the wood on there and guide a lever forward.  It’s trying work! ;)  It took us about 45 minutes to split all of it for him.  It was really fun!  But I think the most fulfilling part of the entire thing was when he wife said, "Girls, you have no idea how much that means to me.  Our room was 53 degrees last night, and that wasn't even with the storm warning.  We are actually going to be warm next week.  Thank you so much!"  It's little things like this that make me appreciate more and more the work I am doing for my brothers and sisters, the Lord's children.  It is not only about serving those outside of the church, but strengthening those already in it as well.


I'm not going to lie to you guys.  The spiritual side of things this week really didn't start picking up until Friday through Sunday.  So I will tell you about a funny lesson we had instead.  We knocked on this door in Patterson Springs and before we could even out our hand forward to knock, this girl opened the door and her giant dog came barreling out.  This would have been fine if the dog didn’t looked like it wanted to kill me.  All she said was,"I'm glad you're here.  I needed someone to talk to.  Don't mind the dog.  He won't hurt you.  Come in."  I have never been so hesitant in my entire life.  She said that she was sorry about the smell, but they raise 6 dogs, two rats, tons of fish, and she is a lizard breeder.  She then proceeded to tell us how one of the two rats they had to shoot because it ate three of her lizards and bit off one of the geckos tails.  Then she showed us the geckos tail growing back.  Gross!  I never want lizards or rats.  Ugh!  She invited us into her room to look at the decor which consisted of, how do I say this, band posters who thrive on singing about death, misery, and destruction.  Tons of fun!  :/  She told us to go back into the front room and she would wake up her mother who is a minister, and we could all talk.  Basically, the actual lesson wasn't bad.  She just sat there and judgmentally stared at us.  Meanwhile, her 16-year old kept asking us if she was going to heaven or hell.  We shared the whole restoration and planned to go back last night and read the Book of Mormon with them, but they didn't answer the door.  Oh the experiences you have on a mission.


This day, there were two really amazing things that happened.  A couple of weeks ago, we had this bible referral that we had dropped because we had tried multiple times to get ahold of her with no success.  And the number she had was disconnected.  But, the other night, while we were looking for another former investigator, we noticed a car at her house.  So we decided to knock on the door to see if she was home.  She answered and we set up a return appointment for Friday.  So when we got there to give her the bible, we were determined to teach her about the restoration as well.  We taught a very basic restoration lesson because she had a few questions.  But she said, "I am so thankful you girls were able to come over today.  I have been looking to get closer to Christ since I was saved last year, and my church that I'm going to doesn't seem to be preaching the truth all the time."  She agreed to come to church with is, though she never actually showed up.  Then, we headed toward Mooresboro because that's where our dinner appointment was.  Two things came from that:

1.       On Thursday night, we went to dunkin' donuts because sister b wanted some really badly.  When we left, we saw this car covered in storm troopers and Mickey Mouse heads because they had run the Disney triathalon.  We thought nothing of it and left.  But when we were in Mooresboro, we saw the same car at a neighbor's house of a less-active!  So we are going to see if we can go teach them soon, instead of just asking if they know their neighbors like we did the first time.  If they let us teach them and they end up getting baptized, I am going to use the hashtag - #dunkindonutstodunkinfamilies!  Isn't that funny??

2.  We were in Mooresboro, and we got lost.  Surprise, surprise!  So we went to a members store a few miles back to get wifi.  When we got there, they said that we should go visit their daughter.  Funny enough, we planned the night before to go see her that day.  There was an incident and her ten year old got in serious trouble.  So we stopped by to visit her.  She looked at me and started crying.  She asked, "How do y'all always know where to go at the right time?"  I told her that we go where the spirit guides us to go.  This was a true testimony builder that if you show faith to the Lord, he will place you in the paths of those of his children that you need to be.


This day, we were able to go see a man that we met last Sunday.  We met him on his porch while we were walking down the street.  We were able to teach him the restoration and set up a time to come back on Saturday.  When we came back, he told us that he was having a really hard time accepting the fact that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet and that he could receive revelation.  So what we did was, we read the Book of Mormon Introduction with him.  Nothing to out of the ordinary, but as we read it, he said it was too much to take in.  I pulled up Mosiah 10:3-5 and read it to him.  I invited him to read from the Book of Mormon and pray to know about its truth and the truth of our message.  He suddenly calmed down a bit and he said, "Well since y'all took the time out of your day to come explain this to me, I will give it a shot."  The thing that was different is, it was nothing that I hadn't said in a lesson before, but you could sense the love of God for him through me.  I felt it so strongly.  Our Heavenly Father was trying to reach out to him!  I was just his temporary mouthpiece!  It was amazing you guys, really.  I couldn't have been happier that I was so willing to open my mouth and proclaim the truth of our everlasting gospel!

I gave my talk this day!  Mom - I really appreciated your copy of your talk because I stole all of the stories from it.  I basically just changed the perspective of the stories and added a few paragraphs and testimonies of my own and took out some of yours.  It went REALLY well.  I had two people ask me for copies of my talk because they "couldn't take notes fast enough."  I also had the bishop, his wife, and loads of other members tell me it was the best talk they've ever heard on family history!  So thank you so much for the help!  I didn't end up having the time I thought I would to write it... Silly me!  But I had three members say that my talk made them so excited for family history, that they couldn't even wait until I was done.  They were using the church wifi on their cell phones to sign up for and use family search!  One of them found their four generations DURING SACRAMENT MEETING!  And one of them got on and found where their grandmother was born, and they had been looking for a long time!  I also had the assistant family history consultant ask if we would come talk to the family history committee of the city of Shelby once he gets some more credibility down there!  Isn't that great??

The other great thing that happened this day was... OUR INVESTIGATORS WERE ABLE TO GET OVER THEIR WORD OF WISDOM ADDICTIONS IN ORDER TO BE BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY!  That's right!  I have two baptisms set in stone for Saturday!  They are so happy.  The amazing thing is, that the bishop was able to get out of them something they hadn't shared with us.  He asked them how long they had been looking for a religion.  She replied, "Oh, probably 20 years.  See, we had been going to a Church of God.  When we were in a hard spot, we asked the preacher for counseling, and he said he wouldn't do it.  We got to the point where I was praying every night because we couldn't do it anymore.  We couldn't do it on our own.  Then these two lovely ladies showed up at our door."  20 YEARS!  I was almost to the point of tears when I realized that I was the answer to that prayer.  Missionary work is the greatest!  God called me to Shelby for them specifically, and I am so grateful for that!  And they are ready to start family history and attend the temple after their baptism.  And they are looking forward to maybe being able to go to the temple with us when I come back if it will work out.  So we'll see.

Apparently, all the missionaries are going to be giving their iPads back to the mission in March and we are all getting new ones to use.  So I'm just wondering how much they had you pay for them.  I want to see if I can buy it off of you... ;)  So let me know!

As for the Vitamins, I am going to find out if I am getting transferred or not on Tuesday (tomorrow).  So just hold the order and any other mail until I can let you know after transfers on Monday.  Okay?  Oh!  Speaking of which, I think if I am getting transferred, I am going to be able to send a package home before the end of the week.  But I have a question, I want to keep things like the drum sticks you sent me for Christmas, but there may not be room for them.  So what kind of things am I allowed to send home and not allowed to.

Speaking of packages though, I am OBSESSED with my Valentine's Day package!  Thank you sooooo much!  Dad - I got the cinnamon lips finished in like three days and they were delicious.  Beth - I am savoring the chocolate!  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!  But, I would have to say, my favorite (non-food related) thing was the two frogs!  Who am I supposed to give the other one to?  And was there a purpose behind the FROG?  ;)  lol

Tell grandma happy birthday for me!  Sad that I am missing it, but tell her I am sending her hugs and kisses from North Carolina. And no!  I can't believe how fast time is flying!  It's insane!  You'll have tons of fun at Elder Standefer's homecoming!  You'll have to tell me if you hear him say anything about Pilot Mountain, or Y.O.S.O. (You Only Serve Once)!

And basketball sounds super fun this year!  I wish they had thought of themes when I went to play with the young women's!  That would have made it so much more fun!  And I am also glad that they get to go to a scout camp for girls camp this year.  That was by far my favorite year of girls camp!  Far too many memories from that year!

Thank you for the idea for the genealogy night!  I'll keep it in mind if I do indeed stay in Shelby.  My thoughts on transfers, they are definitely closing the Gastonia area for sisters, which I am sad about.  But we think they might transfer Elder P and Elder C.  My personal thought is they might close Shelby for Sisters as well because we are losing so many sisters in the mission!  This transfer alone, we are losing 17 sisters and only 9 are coming out.  Then, we are losing 14 elders and only 8 are coming out.  So I think that one of us will be transferred, they'll close the area to sisters, or they'll keep us both here.  (Which I honestly don't think is very likely).  But I'll let you know on Monday what happens!  I probably won't be able to let you know before then, but like I said, please hold the vitamins and any other packages or letters until Monday when I let you know for sure!  Because, mail is going to be even slower getting here because of the weather. 

Speaking of weather, THIS IS INSANE!  I have never seen anything like it!  We are having blizzard warnings left and right!  Now, the actual snow is not the thing I am concerned about, considering where I grew up.  The thing that concerns me is the 1-digit temperatures and the rain and snow instantly turning to ice.  It took us 5 minutes to start our car to get to Walmart when we came home from Gastonia today, and when we got to Walmart, all the eggs, milk, and flour were gone.  Stores are shutting down, and people are going into hibernation.  Literally.  I think it's funny!  I'll let you know more next week as it continues!

The outlets in Gastonia were great!  I got some new bracelets.  So I'm excited!  I wanted a lot more, but I have no room first of all, and second, I can't wear the stuff I wanted while I'm out here anyway.  Practically everyone in our district bought either Nike's or Van's... But I had no room or money... So ya know.

I did hear Jessica and Robbie had their baby!  He is so cute and I am so excited for them!  Thank you so much for all the pictures!  I love them!  Finally I get to SEE how y'all are doing!  Haha JK

Next week, I'll let you know about the baptisms, transfers, weather, etc.  But until then, LOVE YOU SO MUCH AND HOPE YOU ARE ALL HAVING SO MUCH FUN!

Hugs and Kisses from NC!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Our Zone is Going to the Zoo !!!

Ashley Irwin
Feb 9 at 9:00 AM

Hey y'all!  How are you doing?
We are going to try something a little different today.  I am not going to give a whole weekly layout this week.  I have been trying to get journal entries done, so it can go in there.  Mom - If you haven't already sent the package, could you please print the weekly recaps from pilot mountain and put them in the package so I can catch up on journal writing in that way?  I can't access them on my iPad.  But it would really help a lot.  If not, no worries.

So what I've decided to do today is write either one spiritual experience or testimony builder from each day of the week.  (Warning: Some of them may sound like a lecture.  Don't take it that way, just simple advice from the your favorite NC sister)! ;)

What I learned on Monday is that we don't have time to procrastinate.  Let me explain.  When we go to houses, knock on the door and get a response from the person saying that they are not interested, it saddens me.  One of the major lessons I have learned out here is, we don't have the time to say, "I can just do it later!"  We have to do all that we can NOW to repent, change, and strive each day to become more like our loving Father in Heaven.  These people that have no interest in hearing what we have to say are going to look back on it and think, "Boy, if only I had listened."  Do we want to live a life of "if only"?  NO!  I learned that we must do everything we can to come closer to Him in these, the last days.  That way, we will be able to stand in front of the Lord at judgement day, look our loving Savior in the eyes and say, "I have truly done my best."

The Spiritual Experience that I had on Tuesday was how much missionary work really means to those we are teaching.  It had been a long day of finding less-actives with no positive responses. We decided to turn down a road near one of the houses we were going to.  We parked the car and started knocking.  We ran into a few houses who weren't interested, but then we came to a trailer that stood out to us.  Normally, I do not particularly enjoy knocking on trailers in the middle of nowhere, but I figured, why not?  So we knocked and a man came to the door.  He began to talk to us and said he hadn't attended church in over 10 years and was completely comfortable with that.  I was not taking no for an answer again that day.  So I said, "What do you look for in a church?  If you had to describe your perfect church, what would it consist of?"  He started joking with us and replied, "A shooting range in back."  Then he said what I had hoped the question would lead him to.  He said, "I don't know.  Probably a church with welcoming people who are not judgmental and try every day to help you overcome what you've done in the past and help you become a better person."  Bingo.  I told him that he had perfectly described our church.  Because, in reality, we try every day to do exactly that.  As members, is it not our job to help people in their repentance process?  Our job is to love them and help them, not judge them and hurt them.  After we talked to him a little bit more about repentance, he said at least he would try to overcome his work schedule to see if he could come to church.  But he really wanted to
check out the website.  If nothing else, we planted the seed and someone else will get the opportunity to harvest that seed.

Caity - Pay attention.  Here is your story that you could use for your talk.  On Wednesday morning, before we left the apartment, we decided to take some advice from some other missionaries that we had talked to and pray specifically to Heavenly Father for what we wanted to happen that day.  We prayed for a new investigator and for a lesson that could really change someone.  (We also prayed for 2 other lessons, but that is irrelevant to the story).  Anyway, so off we went for the day. Well, we had planned to go down to Grover to see some potential investigators that we had met the week before.  When we parked our car and went up to the house, we found out that they were really sick, they had gotten two hours of sleep the night before, and weren't in the mood to talk.  So what did we do?  We decided to go knocking.  I said a little prayer in my heart to remind myself what we had prayed for that morning and to regain my faith that Heavenly Father would put us in the right place, at the right time.  So we walked down a few houses, and rounded the corner.  My companion started to go up the driveway of the first house on the left.  I kept walking straight, so she figured I didn't want to go to that house.  But in reality, I saw a man sitting on his porch that I really wanted to go talk to.  So I said, "No, we are going to talk to him."  When we got up his driveway, he said hello and asked what he could help us with.  I replied, "Oh nothing much.  It's more what we can do for you."  This whole time I was hoping and praying for the faith that it would take for this man to listen and receive our message.  We started talking, he told us where he worked, asked where we were from, etc.  his name is J.  What was amazing was, he said that Wednesday morning he woke up sick, called in and got the day off, but by lunch time, he felt so much
better.  And about an hour later, we showed up.  We told him what our purpose was as missionaries and told him that we would love to share the message with him.  He said that he has been through a lot in his
life, but he never denies the opportunity to hear about God.  So we were able to share the entire Restoration lesson with him while he was sitting on his porch.  He was very involved in the conversation and he got so excited.  When we finished the discussion, he looked at us and said, "Wow.  He really does listen to me."  Slightly confused, I asked what he meant.  He said that he has remarkable faith in Christ because he has made it through so many things in his life.  However, he has been praying for an enlightening experience from the Lord.  He told us that when he saw "two white girls walking around in his neighborhood, something was up."  He said he knew that we were an answer to his prayers and that God sent us to him at that time for a reason.  He said that he believed what we said and he had a desire to read from the Book of Mormon even though he doesn't read that well and hasn't even really read the bible before.  It is amazing what you can
accomplish with faith in the Lord and prayer.  We have an appointment to see him later this week and we are going to try and get him to come to church with us.  Hope that will help with your talk, Caity.  Good luck!  I love the topic you chose!

This was another day of trial and error.  We were trying to track down a lot of potential investigators with no success.  But, no matter how hard the day, the Lord always gives you something that lifts you up.
We have a part member family that we have been working with lately.  We taught the non-member the plan of salvation and invited him to be baptized and he started slipping away because he felt pressured.  So what we did was say a prayer and tell Heavenly Father that we know the importance of him being baptized, but that we needed more trust with him first.  His name is C.  We went to dinner with them that night hoping that we would be able to get a lesson in with him afterwards.  But alas, it is on the Lord's time that we accomplish such tasks and we ran out of time.  However, on the way home, he wanted to tell us an experience he had the week prior.  He told us that when he was at work, his boss started making Mormon jokes and making us look and sound awful to the rest of his co-workers.  He had finally had enough and told his boss that everything he had said in the past half an hour was complete lies and he took it very personally because his wife was a member and he was trying hard to come to know for himself that it was true.  He even gave his boss the websites to go look up what he had said and know that he was spreading lies.  The conversation was left at that.  He
figured it was over with.  About three days later, he said that his boss came to work and called all of them over so that he could make a formal apology to C in front of everyone.  Isn't that amazing!?  He was so proud of himself!  He was standing up for himself, his loved ones, and his potential beliefs, and he isn't even baptized yet!  We were so proud.  We asked him about his Book of Mormon reading and he promised that he would take it with him to work so that he could read it on break.  These two things were literal tender mercies of the Lord.  We are trying our hardest to gain his trust before we move any further.

We had district meeting this day.  It went really long over because we went to lunch, so we didn't get back until almost two.  So we decided to try to find some potential investigators before we had to go to dinner at four.  We made return appointments with a couple of them, but couldn't teach immediate lessons.  But the experience is actually that night at dinner.  The woman feeding us that night is struggling financially as so many people are right now.    Anyway, this meal was really humbling for me because I knew how much money she has, and despite that, she insisted that she feed us that night.  She said, "I have to look after my missionaries."  The meal took her a lot of time and more money than she has - we had spaghetti, rolls,
and green beans.  The fact that she took all that she had to feed us, was remarkable.  I have decided that no matter where you serve your mission, you always find people having hardships and you want to help these people.  Her sacrifice for us that night reminded me of the woman who gave all that she had to pay tithing to the Lord, and was blessed immensely because of it.  A true testimony builder for me.

This day we went to do service for a couple of hours, then we went to plan for the genealogy night.  Now, to clear things up: I am trying to get the WARD MEMBERS to plan this activity and get people excited with
the help from the missionaries!  We spent two hours just trying to think of things that could get everyone excited and picking a date to do the activity.  Mom - What I could use help with is maybe some ideas
of what we could do for a two hour activity to get people youth-adult excited about family history.  They were maybe thinking of doing a murder mystery type of thing, but with the plot and characters based
on different ward member's ancestors.  Fun idea, but hard to accomplish.  I think the most spiritual thing that happened this day though, was being able to reflect upon the dream that Grandpa Deinstadt had that really started our family's desire to do family history in the first place.  It made me choke up a little bit, and reminded me how family history work is really missionary work for our ancestors and brothers and sisters that have already passed on without the opportunity of hearing the gospel.  

We had a baptism this day for a child in the ward.  Because he is 8 years old, we don't count it as a baptism for us on our mission, but what was amazing is the things I learned.  Seeing the love that his family and ward members had for him was so amazing.  The ward may be really small, but it is filled with such immense love, that it is almost indescribable.  If you go check my Facebook page, it will have a picture of sister Buckner and I with their family.  The words she attached with it made my little heart swell.  She said that we have helped them come closer and build their testimonies.  (Or something similar to it).  We often forget as members and missionaries that we are not only here to share the message of the gospel with those of our brothers and sisters that have not yet received it, but we are to also strengthen the testimonies of the members in the church already.  We are here to bring ALL souls to Christ, not specific to any certain category.

Sounds like y'all are having fun planning future trips for the year!  You'll have to let me know how they go,
Please please please send me pictures of the Payson Temple Dedication and program!  I can't believe I'm missing the cultural celebration!  So jealous!  But I know you guys will do great!  Haha  Yes, mom.  You can use my current Facebook profile picture.  I quite like it.  I am still able to use some of my photography
knowledge out here.  I didn't actually plan for the light in the background, that was an added bonus.  But feel free to use it for the plaque.  I don't know that it will get much better if I take it again.  We can only work with so much out here. ;)  I am having to rush again in writing today because our amazing Zone Leaders planned for the whole Zone to go to the Zoo today!!!  WooooooHooooooo!  It's a drive-thru zoo kind of thing, hard to explain.  But that is why I can't send pictures this week.  I'll send lots next week.  I am having to write on the iPad again!

Here are a few quotes I believe, that I constantly remember in order to be the missionary that
I want to be: I will give you two quotes by Elder Holland and Elder Ballard

Holland- "This is a life or death contest we're in here."
Ballard- "If you don't pay the price of success, you will pay the price of failure."

I am growing into the person I want to become, despite challenges like my ankle or pulling three muscles in my back like I did three days ago.  Satan works hard on missionaries, but I am becoming the daughter, sister, wife, and mother that, three years ago, I could've only dreamed of becoming.  Now, I was called to talk next Sunday and I got to pick the topic.  I picked family history.  So if you could send me quotes and outrageous stories along with the ideas I requested earlier, I would appreciate

I love you guys lots and lots!  I love being on my mission for the growth I see in myself and others!

I love you to the ends of the universe and back!  I'll talk to you guys soon!  Love you TONS!  Hugs and kisses from NC!!!



Friday, February 6, 2015

Hey lovlies!

How ever are you doing on such a fine and beautiful day as this?  Oh wait... it's raining.  Again!  I don't think I have ever seen so much rain in my entire life!  It's ridiculous!  haha  But you know... life goes on.
I'll do a weekly recap real quick!

We woke up, studied, emailed, then we went to go explore P&M Warehouse because that is where the Hunger Games was filmed for part of it.  We think we narrowed down exactly where they filmed it as seen in the pictures that I sent, but it was really fun!  Apart from it being about 30 degrees and windy of course!  Then we went shopping!  We first went to get groceries from Walmart, but then we decided to go over to Kmart and get some NC merchandise (i.e. A Hoodie and some sweatpants).  I absolutely adore them!  I bought them with the money that both sets of grandparents sent me for Christmas!  So thank you Grandparents!  I love them!  Then we headed home to eat lunch, play some games, and Sister B took a nap.  Then we had dinner cancel on us, so she picked us up some "Cook-Out" -- A southern delicacy -- and we headed off to see our Progressing Investigators B and L.  They are progressing sooooo well.  Last week, we were able to teach the Law of Chastity, the Word of Wisdom, and the Importance of the Book of Mormon.  So … they are headed quickly for baptism on the 21st.  If we can get everything taught before then, we can move it up.  :)  After their lesson, we traveled home.  They live a good distance from us, so it takes a while.  Then we planned and went to bed.

We woke up, studied, and headed out to do some less-active finding that morning.  Two of the three of them weren't home, and one of them was just getting over that nasty flu down here, so she told us to come back another time.  Then the less-active we had a set appt. with blew us off, they didn't even bother letting us know even though we had to drive thirty minutes to get there!  Ugh!  But oh well.  We went knocking/finding around her area with very little success.  You won't believe the finding luck we had this week.  It was so sad.  We then planned for 7 streets.  Okay?  SEVEN!  A whole 3 people were home on those streets, so no luck there, but we did almost get attacked by demon dogs who tried to break through the house's front window just to attack us.  There were like 6 of them!  I don't think we had run so fast and so far in our whole missions!  haha  We also got recognized and asked how many sister-wives we have.  Seriously!?  haha  We then went to uptown to go street contacting and then went to go try to teach a couple of facebook lessons.  Then we got picked up for dinner and were able to teach a wonderful lesson on how the kids of the family could be missionaries now.  We taught them about how they can invite their friends and family to their brother's baptism for the 8th and they said they each wanted to invite like 3 friends and their families.  So hopefully we will get some new investigators as a result of that.  :)  Then we went home, planned, and went to sleep.

We woke up, studied, and headed straight for District Meeting.  We got there quite early, so we practiced a song that Sister B might be playing at that baptism on the 8th.  Then we walked in, still a few mins early, and the Gastonia Sisters were there.  Oh the things our district talks about.  You'll have to remind me to tell you some of the things Sister M comes up with some day.  But now is not the time... ahahaha  THE SUSPENSE!  ;)  So we had a wonderful DM on how to be more bold and loving!  Then we went to lunch at a place called Newt's.  SUCH GOOD BURGERS!  It's amazing and we have to go!  Then our appt. cancelled on us, so we went to go finding for a couple of hours.  Result -- One person was home on 3 streets and even then, he said he didn't know if he was interested.  But we will be going back soon!  Then we went to teach our recent convert about eternal marriage and general conference.  He has a bit of a problem in thinking that he will be able to marry one of the sister missionaries.  So we are trying to show him other options.  haha  Then we tried to go finding on his street.  Didn't work real well.  So we headed to the church to eat a packed dinner (my idea).  Then we had B and L come to the church for a lesson just before Scripture Study.  Did y'all know the manuals are HUGE for institute now!?  Seriously.  Then we went to send an email to ward council about how wonderful the Shelby ward is in helping the missionaries progress in the work and what they can do to continue assisting in the work.  Then we headed home, planned, and bed.

We woke up, studied, had 3 hours of weekly planning, lunch at home, then we went to go contact a media referral.  She was really sweet, but she doesn't live there permanently.  We are still hoping though, that we will be able to teach her on a regular basis.  She is expecting a baby in august and getting married next year.  Maybe we can teach them the gospel so that they can get married this year.  We'll see!  :)  Then we did 3 hours of finding.  We did have some success though!  We met a woman named R.  We taught her a solid Restoration Lesson and she said that she believes it could be true, but she would have to come to the church first to find out for herself.  We are planning on going back next week.  (She wouldn't come to church yesterday because it was Super Bowl Sunday).  Football is kind of a big thing down here.  haha  So I will let y'all know how that goes.  She is super sweet and we are hoping that she enjoys church so that she will be open to reading the Book of Mormon.  Then we pretty much headed to dinner that night and came home and worked on our "Member Map" which enables us to see which less-actives we can/can't see and where they live.  Then we planned and went to sleep.

More finding!  All the finding!  We woke up, studied, and headed out to park our car at DQ because we were running sadly low on miles.  So we parked it there and went finding for about an hour and a half.  But silly me didn't put my hair up that day and the wind was blowing at 40 mph.  GEEZ!  Unfortunately, no success before lunch.  So we headed to the church to eat packed lunches (also my idea).  After lunch, we headed to go finding over by the Bishop's house.  We came across a neighborhood that we just had some members move out of, so we figured we would go finding there.  As Sister B calls it, we went "Castle Knocking".  This was one of very few seriously wealthy neighborhoods.  Everyone was either not home or super rude.  Some of the few things I am sick of hearing while knocking are: "Girls, I am a baptist."  DOOR SLAM!  "Girls, I am a Christian."  DOOR SLAM!  (Btw... SO ARE WE!  Hence the name JESUS CHRIST in the center of our nametags!)  "Girls, I am saved."  DOOR SLAM!  "Girls, I already know Jesus!"  DOOR SLAM!  Quite comical if I do say so myself.  But after 20 houses saying the same things... it gets a little old.  But we "Keep Moving Forward"! #waltdisneyquote  So after we did that for hours, we headed to Pizza Hut to get dinner and Walmart to get a cake!  (SUPER GOOD!)  After that, we met some members at B and L house to teach them a lesson on the Book of Mormon.  :)  After that, we headed home to plan a lesson for church on Sunday and attempt to plan for the Family History activity for the ward.  Then we planned and went to bed.

I TURNED 20 THIS DAY!!!!!!!!!!  And yes, it feels super weird.  I can't quite explain it.  But anyway... We woke up, studied, then we went scowering the town all morning to find the appropriate supplies for a stop smoking lesson we were going to teach a less-active.  (I say "going to teach" because after all of this, he cancelled on us an hour before).  :(  But anyway... we had to find cinnamon mouthwash, cinnamon toothepaste (the easiest), and white grapefruit juice.  You wouldn't believe how tough that is.  Did you know that only CVS carries cinnamon flavored mouthwash.  There's a little tid bit for you.  haha  So then we went to the Library to print some things off, and home for lunch.  After lunch and every appt. for that day fell through in the course of an hour, we decided to head to Habitat to do service for a few hours.  1.  We were low on miles.  2.  A family in our ward that we love manages it.  :)  So we priced things for about 3 hours.  Then we headed home to share a message of love and try to do some finding through facebook.  Then the Bishop and his wife picked us up for dinner at FATZ.  Again, super good.  We need to go.  Then we came home, did tons of planning for the week, planned for the next day, and went to bed.

We woke up, had personal study, went to church, had an amazing fast and testimony meeting.  We FINALLY got a teacher called to teach Gospel Principles because the missionaries were teaching it every week.  I told that to President Craven when he was here and it was more than quickly resolved.  THANK YOU PRESIDENT CRAVEN!  Then we went to teach Sharing Time in Primary.  Okay.  Y'all have no idea how small the congregation until you know that there are only 10 kids in junior/senior primaries combined.  Weird right?  But it was super fun.  We talked about events from the Savior's life and how he did everything he did for us because he loves us so much.  Then we went to go find some less-actives.  Again, no luck.  :(  But we went home to have dinner after a few hours of finding.  Then we headed to Sister P's for a ride to Charlotte for a mission home fireside given by President Craven with our recent converts.  That was an amazing meeting, then we traveled home, planned, and went to bed.

I want to share with you all some of the things discussed in the Fireside last night.  I have such a love an appreciation for President Craven.  You wouldn't even believe it.   

At the fireside, he discussed that we have 3 elements as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that make our church unique.  They are: 1. The Fullness of the Doctrine.  2.  Priesthood Power.  And 3. A unique testimony of Christ.  It is so amazing that we have been given the opportunity to have these things readily available to us.  Think about it.  Heavenly Father could've said, "Well, congratulations.  You made it to Earth.  Now figure it out."  But instead, he has given us the tools and the privilege to have everything we need right in front of us.  There is no guessing as to what we need to do in order to return to Him.  And I for one, am so thankful for the undying and unconditional love that He has for each and every one of us as his sons and daughters.  I would also like to share a brief testimony of the Book of Mormon and Prophets that I have gained while being on my mission thus far.  The Book of Mormon truly is the word of God.  There is no possible way that this book is false. And when we come to know the truth of it, we will discover things about ourselves, this church, and the Savior that we didn't even know were possible.  I encourage each of you as you are reading your scriptures to think of their history.  The trials and the testimonies of those that have written and translated this book all because of the love that they have for you and that your Heavenly Father has for you.  I also encourage all of you to read "Safety for the Soul" by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.  Then come to find your own testimony of the Book of Mormon.  As I was reading this talk, among many others that I studied this week, I was reminded how lucky we are to have Prophets, Seers, and Revelators on the earth today to lead and guide us.  These men are the closest thing we have to council given straight from God!  (Apart from blessings and prayer of course!)  They love each of us uniquely and they care about each of us.  When Elder Christofferson was here he said something along the lines of, "You should hear President Monson pray for the members of the church.  We all pray for you, hope for you, and love you."  Please remember that these men put their lives on the line in order for you to have the council we need from our Father in Heaven.  I love each of you as well and encourage you to think about what I talked about today and how you can improve your testimonies and keep growing closer to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ every day.

Now, the weather here has been rainy, windy, and gloomy most of the week.  I guess this must be what spring is actually like in most places other than UT, where, we don't really have one.  haha
I am glad to hear that Genealogy is still going well and I really appreciate the stories you have been sending me.  Hopefully we will be able to use a lot of them in the ward activity.
Visiting Teaching is a HUGE focus in this ward.  The Bishop's wife and the RS Pres. spent about 100 hours on it this month.  INSANE!  haha

I did get the birthday package!  THANK YOU SO MUCH!  I think I died laughing at all of the cards!  Although I loved each of them, I think Beth's takes the cake! ;)  SOOOO GOOD!  haha  I also thank you for the shirts and socks.  Much needed.  Daddy - I loved the Despicable Me figurines!  What did you guys end up sending the Elders?  Did you take pictures?  I want to know!  :)  I think my favorite thing though, had to be the earrings.  I LOVE THEM!  Thank you!  It feels really weird to be 20.  I can't believe I am old enough now to finish my mission out with a bang and have the possibility of going home and getting married.  I'm too young for that!  haha

But I am going to wrap it up for now.  I love you guys sooooo much!  More than I could ever describe to you!  Let me know next week if you have any specific questions I could answer for you!  LOVES YOU!


P.S.  We only got 5 lessons taught this week.  :(