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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hey you guys.  I think I'll start out with my spiritual experiences first, then go on with the rest of the stuff. :)

Experience #1:
We are split teaching a woman with the elders right now.  It is proving to be a little difficult because it seems as though she is determined to find everything wrong with what we are saying. But the thing is, the last time we went over, we explained to her that everything that we are saying is exactly in line with everything she has been taught since she was very young.  She asked about the three kingdoms of glory and how it doesn't mention that in the bible.  But, Sister Bagley was on top of it and had a plan of salvation pamphlet that listed the bible scripture to look up.  We read it with her and she just kind of sat there with an, "Oh Shoot" look on her face.  I then jumped in and said, "Can I tell you something?"  She replied, "Sure."  I said, "The reason we are here is not to fight about or convince you of what we are saying.  The reason we are here is to invite the spirit and to let you find out for yourself that the things we are teaching are true."  She just stared at me.  I knew because of past things that she had said that she wasn't receiving answers to her prayers.  We taught about the Holy Ghost and how he answers our prayers if we are asking with sincerity.  I told her that the answer may even come through a peaceful feeling.  I then challenged her to pray and just wait.  I explained that, "We have been told a few times out here that when we pray, we often have the habit of getting up too fast and not listening for the spirit.  That has a dramatic and unfortunate effect.  If we are saying our prayers, and not giving Heavenly Father time to answer them through the spirit, no wonder we aren't getting answers."  She responded, "I have never thought about it like that.  I will try it."
I think the most amazing thing about missionary work is, you are teaching the same thing to everyone, but if you are in tune with the spirit, Heavenly Father will show you different ways of putting things that will make sense to the specific investigator.  That has shown me that not only is the gospel true, but that it is very personal as well.

Experience #2:
We had to go get our car inspected on Wednesday.  As we were sitting in the lobby, a man came and sat down across from us.  After a few minutes, he asked me what my name tag said.  I explained that we were missionaries for our church.  He said that was wonderful and immediately asked one of three questions people always ask us when they first meet us.  That being, "What is your church's standpoint on same sex marriage?"  We instantly thought, "Annnnndddddd, strike three."  But when we explained the church's view on it, he said, "I couldn't agree more."  Then something amazing happened.  He shared with us his experiences.  He explained that he had  been an alcoholic, a drug lord, etc.  Then he said one day, he got in his third (I think) car accident from being high.  He still doesn't know, to this day, what he hit.  He just knows that he didn't hit another car because when he walked out in the morning to look at the damage, it wasn't that bad.  He knew at that moment that he wanted to give everything up and change his life.  He said that because he turned to God in that moment, he was able to stop everything cold turkey.  But there was undeniably a void in his life that he had to fill.  So he immediately started going to church and doing everything he could to share Gods message with the world.  Isn't that amazing?  He was so kind and we couldn't help but extend the invitation to explore our church.  Unfortunately, he is in the Gastonia area, so we had to refer him to the elders there.  But hopefully they get in contact and all goes well.

Experience #3:
This was kind of a fun and spiritual experience.  On Thursday, the stake relief society leaders came to our Ward and put on a relief society activity.  The theme was - The Amazing Race,  it had all of these cute little challenges like Two Truths and a Lie, Cleaning part of the Building, Filling out a pedigree chart, Putting together a puzzle, etc.  It was super fun.  I had bishop's wife on my team and she is really competitive.  I got super excited when I was the first person in the stake to have filled out all of the Two Truths and a Lie correctly.  That put us in first place, and it ended up helping us take the victory.  ;)  I have to bring that idea back to Utah with me.  It was adorable.  I don't think I got any pictures, but I'll check.  Then when we were all done with the "race", one of the stake leaders got up and gave a talk by President Monson,  from last October General Conference, "Ponder the Path of they Feet."  She talked about the Savior's journey throughout his life and really emphasized one of my favorite things from that talk.  That it isn't as important to walk WHERE Jesus walked, but walk AS he walked.  It was a really fun activity.  I asked the stake leaders where to get all the printouts and information, so hopefully we can put one together when I get home or something.  Because it would be sooooo fun!

Experience #4:
We were able to volunteer and help with the Habitat for Humanity 5K on Friday night.  They expected a lot more people to participate.  They had about 100 shirts, and only about 25 runners show up.  But hey, I got a shirt and a cowbell.  So win win?  :)  I think the funniest part was the fact that they put us out on the course to show people where they were going to be running, so we got to see different running methods that people use.  I think the funniest of all though, was one lady who was walking the entire time, walked up to us when she was on the phone.  We heard her say into the phone, "No.  Don't wait up on me.  I'll probably be another 30, 45, 50 minutes."  After she passed us, we had a good laugh about that one, because you could tell that she was just taking her sweet merry time!  It was the best thing ever!

Experience #5:
We got to go on exchanges with the Alexandriana Sisters this week as well.  They are our Sister Training Leaders.  I was originally not very excited.  I haven't had the best exchanges on my mission thus far, so it's generally not something I look forward to.  But this had to be the BEST EXCHANGE I HAVE EVER BEEN ON!  Sister Allred is possibly the greatest ever!  We are going to be such good friends after our missions.  We had so many wonderful lessons that day in Alexandriana, and I truly felt love for each and every person they are working with.  AND THEN..... She proved to me that missionaries with my point of view on missions exist!  She said that it is really important to work as hard as you can on your mission, but it is just as important to play as hard as you can on your mission.  So when we had a little unplanned time before dinner at a member's house, we asked if we could go to downtown Charlotte and take some pictures by the Cityscape, because we didn't know if we were ever going to be back.  She said, "OF COURSE SISTERS!"  So we stopped at the park across from the Bank of America Stadium where there is an unbelievable view of the Skyline in Charlotte. 

It was so amazing and I learned so much from her.  She said that she has also been in 2 or more areas on her mission that had really low statistics every week, no matter how hard you worked.  She said that she knows for a fact that I am working as hard as I can and that I need to ignore what everyone else may do or think or say and just do the work that I know is the best that I can do and that is the best for the area, and I will be incredibly successful on my mission.  That gave me the encouragement and energy boost I have been so desperately needing from another missionary.  :)  She is incredible.

I think that was all of the main highlights for the week.  We did have a baptism for the elders and a baby shower for a member yesterday, but there isn't too much to go into detail about with those.  Besides the fact that Sister Grace and I won one of the baby shower games and got a little baby hungry with all of the clothes.  But you know... so goes life.  ;)

I am so glad to hear that Jared Barbosa's homecoming went well.  Charity really is the most important thing that you can possess and exercise as a missionary.  But not only that, I would echo that statement by saying that it is also something extremely necessary to possess after the mission as well.  I was listening to Elder Ballard's talk from this last Priesthood Session a few weeks ago, and this section of his address really stood out to me:

"I remind you returned missionaries that your preparation for life and for a family should be continuous.  'RM' doesn't mean 'retired Mormon'!  As a returned missionary, you 'should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of [your] own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.'  Please use the skills you learned on your mission to bless the lives of people around you every day.  Do not shift your focus from serving others to focusing exclusively on school, work, or social activities.  Instead, balance your life with spiritual experiences that remind and prepare you for continued, daily ministering to others."

That really stood out to me because it is sooo true.  We need to remember that we are sons and daughters of an almighty Heavenly Father.  It is a blessing to be here on this earth, and we need to always be aware and conscious of how we can help others.  Even if it is the simplest of ways.

It is true what he said about the fact that if you don't have Charity and Love for those you come in contact with, nothing else matters.  These are our Heavenly Brothers and Sisters, not just some random person that we met on a street.  It is our job to bring them home.

I love your words of encouragement mom and dad.  You will never know how much it means to hear from the both of you and my sisters.  It is the thing that keeps me going.  I love you all so much more than you could ever imagine.

I hope you have a crazy fun, busy, and exciting week.  I love you to infinity and beyond.
Loves and hugs from NC!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Image result for lds sister missionaries clipart 

First Things First - Stick Out Your Tongue and Say AHHHH !  
Yap Your Sick Alright !

(Sorry it's so late and sorry it's shorter.  I emailed all my sisters and The Other Sister Irwin back too and had shorter time this week.  But I love you just the same and I'll send hand written emails.

Hey y'all.  How are you doing?  
I had a pretty decent week.  I have been trying to fight off getting sick while one companion was out for
two days because of sickness and one is getting over it.  So that has been fun.  ;)
Thank you so much for sending me those spiritual thoughts - mom.  I really appreciated them.  I definitely benefited from some of them, and some of them I will share with others.  That really helps.  I got the finding ideas from the momma's that you attached.  I will be happy to try some of those.  And I am more than welcoming to any further ideas that anyone has.  The problem sometimes too, is the area that you are in.  But we will power through this.  I know there are people here in Shelby who need us or need the gospel in their lives.  :)

Okay - The Easter bunny picture was CLASSIC!  I almost died laughing when you said that he came riding up on grandpa's chair scooter.  So funny!  But it sounds like everyone had tons of fun!  That makes me happy!  I did receive your Easter Package yesterday!  Tons of chocolate and candy!  I loved it a lot, so thank you!  :)

I heard Beth got to go to Disneyland.  Super jealous!  My companions and I have been Disney hungry all week long.  We will randomly burst out singing Disney songs, talk about our favorite movie, or our favorite thing about the park.  Yes, we are dorks.  But we have decided that we are going to plan a mega trip to Disneyland with all
the people that we have served with, and we are going to call it, "NCCM goes to Disneyland!"  :D  It'll sure be fun!  (If it ever happens)! ;). 
But anyway, it sounds like you guys had tons of fun while you were there.  Apparently I must see Cinderella when I get home.  It got raving reviews from all three sisters, so obviously it's a must-see.  ;)  Funny thing is, I knew it was in the making, but I didn't know it was anywhere near being done yet.  So I'm excited to see it after I get home.  But to be fair, they're right.  I wouldn't have to go far to watch it if we owned it.  Haha  The beach also sounded like fun!  And I can't believe you went to forest lawn without me!  How long have I been trying to get you to go?  I am jealous. We will go when I get back though, because apart from seeing great-grandma and grandpa's graves, I definitely want to see Walt Disney's.  You know me too well.  :)

Sorry this week's email is a little shorter, but not much happened.  I will share some of my favorite moments or miracle stories, but like I said, my companion has been sick and we haven't gotten much done.  No worries though.  I am confident things will turn around based on the miracles we had happen on Sunday.

Experience #1:
We were able to go see a less-active member twice this week.  She has such a strong testimony and knows of the truth of the gospel, but because she is so old, she has been living in a nursing home and can't come to church.  We started seeing her a couple of weeks ago, and she mentioned that she wished she could still read from the Book of Mormon.  But because her eyesight is so bad, she can't see the words.  So we decided to come over and read Alma 32 with her in parts this week so that she could still have it in her life.  Then we would sing songs to her and leave her with a prayer.  Simple appointment, right?  The thing is, it amazes me how much she yearns for that truth and uplifting message that the Book of Mormon has to offer.  One time this week, we asked if there was anything that we could do for her, and she replied, "Sweetheart, you've already done it.  This means so much.
Thank you."  For the past couple of weeks, I have been worried because we have no one to teach, our finding efforts have failed, and I felt like we weren't getting anywhere.  But then I realized something.  Missionary work has many different aspects.  Wait... What?  It isn't all about the numbers, you say?  No!  I realized that while we are
working on finding people to bring closer to Christ, we can also be strengthening the ward and its current members.  It has been so fulfilling.  Because, even though they have been baptized already,  doesn't mean they don't need the strength that the missionaries bring in their lives either.  Look at the things I am learning!  ;)

Experience #2:
We were able to do genealogy with Adam again this week.  After about an hour of searching and searching and searching again, we finally found something.  You see, I am finally starting to understand what my mom means when she says that genealogy is like a treasure hunt.  You never know what you are going to find.  We had been looking at census record after census record, and all I could seem to find was people with similar family names and backgrounds.  But then, Heavenly Father answered our prayer.  They was one random death certificate mixed in with the census' an it not only contained the death date of one of the people we have already baptized that seemed impossible to find, but his parents names which no one knew or could trace.  I can really see the Lords hand in this work as we continue to do it with the members.  It is a divine work that we could not accomplish without His divine help.  And in all honesty, we are helping baptize people not only on this side of the veil in North Carolina, but we are giving the opportunity to our brothers and sisters in the other side of the veil
that didn't have the opportunity while living here on earth.  It makes me so happy!

Experience #3:
We have had a less-active's family on our mind for the past little while.  So on Sunday night, when plans fell through, we decided to go ahead and give them a visit because they moved just recently from over by the church to our apartment complex.  So we went over.  The wife answered the door and let us in because she had met me before.  We started talking with her and shared the Because He Lives video.  She was so touched by it, that it made her cry.  She asked us to come back and share more messages with her because it's exactly what she was
needed to hear that day.  When we left, we texted bishop to see who in that family is actually members.  Turns out that the wife and both of her kids are not members.  So we are hoping more wonderful stories and
miracles come from teaching them.

Experience #4:
When we were about to plan on Sunday night, a member texted us.  She just had her interview with the stake president so that she can put her mission papers in.  Apparently, while talking to her boyfriend about the church and missions, he told her that he would be interested in starting the discussions.  And since we friendshipped her when she moved in, she asked if we would be willing to do that for her.  YEA FOR REFERRALS!  We are really excited!  Good things are happening in Shelby.

Sorry this week's is shorter.  But tell me more about you guys.  How has work/school/life gone lately?  What's new in the family?  I haven't heard from grandpa and grandma Irwin and Deinstadt lately... Or anyone else for that matter.  ;)  So let me know.

Mom, Dad, and my sisters - I will try to send home written letters on Monday with dads birthday present.  Speaking of which.......... HAPPY BIRTHDAY ON Saturday DAD!  And guess what?  I get to be your
birthday present in less than 365 days!  ;)

Also, I GET TO SKYPE YOU GUYS IN 26 DAYS!  Yaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy!

Well... I think that's all for now.  Sending loves and hugs from NC!
Love you all tons!

Monday, April 6, 2015