ash wallpaper

Thursday, May 28, 2015


        Sun and Sand - Even though I am Hundreds of Miles From the Beach 

Ashley Mission Letter May 26, 2015

Hey family!  How are you doing?  We are kind of out of miles this week.  So I am very much sunburned... ;)  But here are some experiences from my week!

Experience #1
We were able to go last Monday to a member's house and watched him make knives.  It was so much fun.  There are many, many steps to it, but it is something I will definitely never forget.  First, you have to draw out your design on a piece of scrap metal.  In our case, he used old lawn mower blades.  Then, he had to cut out the design.  He was willing to let us do it, just not as missionaries in case something went wrong.  ;)  Then he had to basically sand down the edges.  Then you have to put it in this huge oven over and over and in between putting it in there, you let it cool down in peanut oil.  (Don't ask me why).  That is as far as we got this last week, but he is going to let us watch him finish them next week for P-Day.  So I will definitely keep you all updated!  :)

Experience #2
We were able to have a really fun and spiritual family home evening at a member's house with a recent convert, her two kids who are investigating the church, and their next door neighbor.  We taught the lesson about the Ten Commandments and all of the signs that go along with them.  I think that lesson is probably one of my favorites to teach because it makes it so easy for the families to get involved.  It was a really great lesson because the kids were really involved and it was so easy for everyone to understand. 

Experience #3
We were able to meet this less-active member this week that has not been able to come to church due to various health challenges that she has been struggling with for years.  I wish I could express to you the spirit that was felt in this lesson.  She is an amazing woman who chooses to have optimism and happiness rather that the opposite.  She focuses more on what she CAN do that what she CAN'T.  We were able to show her the Because He Lives video.  It brought her to tears and she bore a powerful testimony on the Savior and how much he loves each of us individually.  I realized on this day that the resources that we have been given as missionaries and as members, a lot of the time, we take for granted.  Something so simple and so quick was something she described as, "much needed and heartwarming."

Experience #4
We were able to go teach an investigator and his recent convert mother this week as well.  We had a member named Sister C come out with us.  We were teaching the Word of Wisdom, so I figured that it would be pretty cut-and-dry.  But boy was I wrong!  She bore her testimony on the ability that the Word of Wisdom has given her to do many, many things in her life.  A lot of the time, we see the Word of Wisdom as a commandment God has given us, filled with all of these "cant’s".  But that isn't the case.  He has given us this commandment to keep us pure both by keeping bad things out, and bringing good things in so that it makes it that much easier for us to return to live with Him someday.  Isn't that amazing???

Experience #5
Last week we were also able to have another Mission Conference.  It is really sad to think that this will be the last Mission Conference that we will have with the Craven's.  But we are really excited to have the Alexander's come be a part of our special mission.  Anyway, this conference was a little bit different.  They said that they gathered us together because they felt a sense of urgency to share certain things with us.  It was interesting though, they actually gathered the mission together in two different conferences.  So we had the Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point, and Hickory Zones in the conference.  I think the thing that stood out most to me was, Sister Craven gave a training on the power of the Book of Mormon in our lives and President Craven gave a training on the Priesthood - Men and Women in the Gospel.  Sister Craven focused a lot on how the Book of Mormon is really the key to everything in our lives.  As soon as we stop reading it or studying it out for ourselves, is when we start to see things go downhill.  She shared a lot of letters from family members, ward members, and past missionaries who have left the church because they were not finding the truth of it through the Book of Mormon any longer.  I took vigorous notes during the training - so I'll have to show them to you later.  But if you want your heart to ache for your Heavenly brothers and sisters - listen to things like that.  PLEASE!  For all those reading this, always remain active in going to church, reading your scriptures, and praying.  President Craven's was also very interesting.  He talked about how men need to be aware - especially elders after their missions - of what the priesthood is and how we use it.  He tied in also, how important the female role is in the priesthood.  I have a favorite thing that he said, but not because of bragging rights, feminism, etc.  He said, "Sisters, you have more of a right to exercise and receive the blessings of the priesthood than you think."  He really emphasized that we are Daughters of a Heavenly King, and that we need to remember and uphold that title.  He also tied in the relationship that Men and Women have with the Priesthood.  It was awe-inspiring.  I will again, have to show you those notes I took later.  ;)

Experience #6
We were able to go out to dinner with a family in the ward last night.  Her husband has been busy working on Saturday nights and sometimes is even required to work on Sunday.  He has gotten a new job in Wisconsin and will be moving by the end of next month, so the end of the transfer.  But she really wanted us to share something that would be inspirational to their family and really hit home.  So we were racking our brains all day yesterday - especially while we were biking.  (I did say we are really low on miles, right?)  But we concluded that we should show the Mormon Message - You Never Know.  Indeed, it was inspired.  It had both of the parents in tears by the end of it and the daughter had a smile that stretched ear to ear.  They both thanked us numerous times and said that it was exactly what they had been needing to hear.
I sometimes forget on my mission that I am not only here for the investigators and less-actives, but I am also here for members.  After all, I am one.  I need strengthening sometimes, just as much as they do.  They are a remarkable family that has taught me a lot about enduring to the end and working through trials, even though they may not be the most convenient thing for us.  ;)

Mom - I am soooo happy that you have enjoyed working at the Payson Temple so much and sincerely hope that you get to continue to do so.  I really, really liked what you said about the infants and children going through the celestial room.  I have a firm testimony that infants, children, and even animals recognize those things that the rest of us are essentially blinded to.  There have been so many occasions where animals run up to us or children start a conversation with us and you can tell that they just recognize the spirit and want to follow it.  Now, the parents or owners do not always comply, but it is something that I had really never noticed before.
I am sorry that your feet have been hurting though.  You're right.  That is exactly how I feel after each day.  Tired, (both spiritually and physically), and my feet are in pretty bad shape every new night.  But you press forward with faith, knowing that your Heavenly Father will provide the means and the strength to do so.

Again, let me know how the dedication and the celebration go.  :)

I can't believe that Matt Searcy is old enough to go on a mission.  And I really can't believe that it has been two years already for Benson and Ty!!!  That has really flown by!

I will read the talk that you sent me, Mom.  Funny enough, I was just thinking about that talk the other day and decided to download it on my iPad so I could listen to and study it out some more.  We are still in sync!  ;)

I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT BETHANY IS GRADUATING!  HER ANNOUNCEMENT IS SOOOOOO CUTE!  I love it so much!  Thank you for sending it to me.  I took it to Walmart with me today and printed it out so I can hang it on my wall.  :)

Isn't the vision of the south talk amazing?  I had read the first part of it, but I hadn't read the second part where he had the vision of all the temples that would be here!  I can't believe that there are only two of those left!  I think times are getting harder and the work is about to explode.  Thank you so much for sending that to me mom!  And you're right.  I think Satan probably cringed when that hit Facebook.  ;)

The work here is going pretty well.  We have a ton more people to see here than I have in my last two areas.  I am really excited to get finding down and be able to talk to all the many different kinds of people that Danville has to offer.

We are trying to implement genealogy here as well.  It is just slightly harder because the bishop really wants us to work through the ward family history consultants and they are impossible to get a hold of.  So I will let you know how that goes as we continue on.

But I think I had better get going for now.  I love you all sooooo much.  To Danville, Virginia and back!  Hugs and Love from NC!


P.S. I am singing again in Zone Conference tomorrow.  I swear, as soon as they get word that you are even slightly better than tone deaf... BOOM!  You are signed up for ALL musical numbers!  ;)


Tuesday, May 19, 2015



Danville, VA : River District - Tobacco Warehouse District Cherry Blossoms Danville Virginia

Danville, VA : Riverwalk Trail Danville VirginiaDanville, VA : Walking Tressle

Letter from Ashley May 19, 2015


Hey you guys!  I hope you have had a wonderful week because mine has been all sorts of crazy!  To start off, I told my family on Sunday when we skyped, but for those of you who don't know, I am no longer in Shelby!  It's weird.  But we will get to that in a minute.  

So because I was leaving, Monday was a day of packing, packing, and more packing.  You would think with all the traveling we've done and two different areas under my belt, I would have this down by now.  But nope, I was still packing until the very last minute Tuesday morning.  But as long as most of it fit, I am okay with it.  I actually had to sit on my luggage this time!  Which means next time I get transferred I have to part with some of my stuff whether I like it or not.  ;)  Anyways, I only had a limited time to pack on Monday because we had dinner with the S's and a couple of other people to go see that night.  Dinner was great.  The only thing was, I didn't really get to say goodbye to the S's daughter, who I am really close to.  Her daughter was having a crying fit and they had to go home.  :(  But it's okay.  We'll keep in contact later I am sure.  So we finished eating and were able to practice teaching the restoration with them.  They shared some of their personal conversion stories with us and you could feel the spirit so strongly.  After we finished, we met J at the church so we could go teach T for my last day there.  We got there, and they brought out their s'mores maker.  We had some great s'mores and some cherry lemon sundrop.  YUM!  Then we went outside to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Again, we had an amazing lesson, brought up baptism, and he was really excited.  He told us, "Well, I said I was going to do it last time you came over.  So let's do it!"  The date we set of June 6th apparently conflicted with graduation for the C's, so he said, "That's alright.  We can do it that night so the party and everything will be over with."  We were thrilled.  We concluded the lesson and then had to say some bittersweet goodbyes.  I know I will see them again soon, it's just really hard to leave the people that you have become so accustomed to working with and become so close to.  But it was great!  Then we had to head straight for Dairy Queen.  The three members that we nicknamed "The gang", because they are ALWAYS together, wanted to take us out for ice cream.  We showed up and they said they pulled a fast one on us and invited the elders too.  So we all ordered and just visited for a while.  They were all really upset to see us go.  But I told them that I would be back soon, so that made it easier.
After that, there was really just a ton of time spent packing, loading, and traveling to Charlotte.

As far as transfers go, I am now in Danville, Virginia!!!  You were right, family.  I did indeed get transferred to Greensboro Zone!  I AM IN THE PARTY ZONE!  I should add the word finally, because from Charlotte, we had to travel to the Guilford missionaries' apartment.  Then we had another hour-long drive ahead of us to Danville.  But at least I can now say I have been in all three states!  My companion's name is Sister T.  I actually came out the same time as she did!  But she was in a different MTC district than I was.  She is really sweet.  We are still trying to get over that awkward transfer phase where we don't know much about each other.  But so far we have both been to Italy and we both like to cook.  The Danville Elders are hilarious and our District Leader is fantastic!  I am nicknaming him Elder fun.  I have already heard him say at least five times, "I came out to have fun.  I am not here to be a robot."  He calls almost every day just to see how the work is going and how we are doing!  Okay, now for some experiences, then I will tell you more.

Experience #1
We were able to go teach a woman here on Wednesday.  We started talking, she grabbed her Book of Mormon, etc.  It was a very nice and calm lesson, then a less-active member came up and said, "This is my church!  These are my sisters!  You need to join this church."  She went on about how the church had been blessing her life, and then the woman's boyfriend came over.  He was less than thrilled at the whole situation.  He started going off on a tangent, saying how his way of life and our way of life are different.  He started arguing with the less-active member and he said, "There is some form of the devil in all of us.  In fact, what if I am the devil?"  Then he started laughing and got on his motorcycle and drove away.  Sister T and the woman looked at me with sympathy and said, "We promise he isn't always like this.  He is just a little crazy sometimes."  I must have had a weird look on my face or something.  It was pretty strange, I have to admit....

Experience #2
We were at coordination meeting on Wednesday night.  I wasn't really sure how everything was going to go because missionaries are always saying that, "Things are done differently in the top of the mission."  I have come to know that that is true!  But it is a good kind of different so far.  :)  Anyway, Sister T had told me that the bishop in Danville was kind of younger.  But by that, I didn't know what she meant until we were in the meeting with him.  We were talking about a common relative that he and Sister T have, and a movie about his life.  The bishop then said, "You should really watch it.  It's a tear-jerker.  The whole time I was watching it I was like, (then he proceeded to pound his chest twice with his fist and raise his fist in the air), THAT'S MY PEOPLE!!!"  We all died of laughter.  He is so great!  He served his mission in Madagascar, and because he didn't want to lose the Mangasee language, (I think that is what it is called), so after he got married, he taught it to his wife and is teaching it to their kids as they grow up.  They are the best!

Experience #3
We were able to go eat dinner at the Bishop's house on Thursday and they invited their neighbors over who just moved here from Poland a few years ago.  It was a really special/awkward dinner.  Awkward because of that fact that no one knew me and we didn't know the neighbors, etc.  But it was special because the neighbors had attended one of the Bishop's kid's baptism a few weeks ago, and they had given them a Polish Book of Mormon.  After dinner, we were able to share with them what missionaries are, what we come out to do, and who we come out to teach.  Then we showed the Restoration video with Polish subtitles.  It was amazing!  The spirit you felt in that room was indescribable.  Even though I don't think they completely understood what we were talking about, I know they felt good.  The wife said she couldn't think of the words in English to describe how she was feeling.  I am going to take that as she was feeling something that she hadn't felt before.  :)

Experience #4
I went to meet a less-active woman this week who people around here call, "The Coke Lady."  Any guesses as to why?  I'll give you a hint, it isn't the bad kind of coke.  ;)  Its because she has this amazing Coca-Cola collection that you wouldn't believe!  She even has a sign that a man in prison made her, (I know right... But you heard me right.  Prison), that says her name and has the Coca-Cola logo on it.  Unfortunately, I only saw what was in her front room and her dining room, but she says that next time we come over, she will show us her shed full of Coca-Cola things.  So expect pictures to come.  She did show me however, the book full of little English goodies that I sent a couple of pictures home of.  You see, this woman is older, and she said that she has to do something in her free time to keep her busy.  So she has been writing major league baseball teams, celebrities, and the English Monarchy for years to see if they will write back.  Well, now they are sending her merchandise, autographed headshots, and personalized letters back from Buckingham Palace.  She has a full 2" binder full of letters from the Monarchy.  Granted, they are not signed BY the royals, but still.  She looked at me and said, "Are you jealous?  I really like making people jealous."  I responded with a BIG yes and she gave me a thumbs up and said, "Oh goodie!  Mission accomplished!"  She is the cutest thing in the entire world.  From just meeting her, I never ever would've guessed that she was 98.  But she promptly corrected me and said, "No dear.  I am not 98.  Like I tell my granddaughter, you must tell people I am going to be 100 in 17 months.  It makes it sound like more of an accomplishment."  She is great!  She is going to have us back for a pizza party and I will let you know how that goes for sure!  But the visit wasn't all lounging about.  We did come to show her something spiritual.  We showed her the Because He Lives video and she started talking about how she had been practicing I Know That My Redeemer Lives on the piano.  She bore her testimony of the Savior to us and started crying because she said as much as she plays around, she truly is so grateful for all the Lord has given her in her life.  The spirit in that room was so thick you could have run into it like a brick wall.  It was amazing.  Then she got all silly again and committed me, (that was a table turner), to do whatever my heart desires when returning from my mission.  She said that that is what she has lived by and it has brought her all the happiness in the world.

Experience #5
We also had Stake Conference this weekend.  Can you believe it?  That means that in all three of my areas, I have had a Stake Conference, and in all three, there has been a general authority present.  We had Elder Kopischke come to Greensboro stake this time.  I was kind of concerned that it was going to be exactly the same as Gastonia Stake Conference, but silly me.  What was I thinking?  The first part of it was the same when he was talking about Ward Councils and everything, but the brethren added something to it this time.  They wanted him to talk this weekend also, about keeping the sabbath day holy.  It was remarkable.  He talked a lot about how we need to focus more on what we CAN do on Sunday, rather than what we CAN'T do on Sunday.  He focused on how we need to counsel with our families and make the day about families, Christ, and Heavenly Father.  I will tell you more about it if you would like me to look at my notes.

In response to your questions:
- My new area is in Danville, VA as mentioned above.  I am in a house now, not an apartment.  Sister T says that if you send me something, it should come straight to the house, whether it be letter or package, but when you are sending me something from USPS will you check on that?  I believe it is right, but let me know.

- My new companion is Sister T.  She is from Ogden, Utah.  I came out with her, she likes to travel, and she is a sweetheart.  We are complete opposites in some things, but we are getting along great now that we realized that.  haha ;)

- The new ward is fantastic!  The people up here are different from my past couple of areas, but guess what?  I am in a small town, again!  I'm thinking at this point, Heavenly Father is going to put me in country my whole mission, then the last transfer, he'll put me in the city and blind side me!  ;)  haha  But guess what?  There is a member who served her mission in Charlotte 20 years ago.  And she has served in PILOT MOUNTAIN of all places!  She even knows the H's!  She was there when R was just three years old!  But that is nice to have in common with her!

- I think President knows that this area will be good for me because of my companion and the people.  They are still wonderful people, but they are definitely different from anything or anyone I have experienced so far.  Also, because my companion and I have some differences, I think it will be a learning experience.  But my first impression as to why he said that is, I need to show some people up here how to have fun!  Like I said, my district leader is super fun.  And one of our zone leaders is... But we need to spread it around a little more.  Basically, we just need to show people that you can be an exactly obedient missionary, get work done, and still have fun!  So I'll let you know as the transfer goes on, but right now, there are a variety of reasons.  :)

- I checked the receipt today.  The packages aren't supposed to get there until tomorrow.  So no worries.  I think there was only one, too.  So if two don't show up, don't worry.  :)  Speaking of packages, did you get Elder H sent this week?  He asked me about it at transfers and I joked that you would be sending a three page I'm sorry letter.  If you haven't sent it already, please try to send it this week.  And if you want to get extra funny, you could copy and paste a thousand "Sorry's" onto three pages.  ;). But please let me know if you have sent that for me.  Thanks!  And he went to Pineville, if you were wondering.  I will have to find my note with where sister B went.  But sister G stayed in Shelby and got my MTC companion as a companion.

- I did SEE Elder B.  But I didn't get to say hi unfortunately because I had to catch my ride to Greensboro.  But he is being trained by one of my past Zone Leaders and Assistants in Gastonia.  He is with Elder H and Elder G in G, if I remember correctly.  But yes, email his mom and tell her that he looked great and he was excited!

The temple sounds amazing and crazy busy!  You'll have to tell me how Saturday goes and what preparation they are doing for the cultural celebration!  Please remember to film it, or parts of it, so I can watch it when I get home.  :)
And yes, dad just can't keep away from those walkie talkies.  ;)

I am so proud of you, Beth.  I can't believe you have graduated from seminary!  That is so crazy to me.  Essentially we are in the same boat right now in the way of school and missions and stuff.  Isn't that weird?

I did get the information about the genealogy and so did sister G.  But I will probably have to ask you the questions I have about it next week because I am running out of time.  In fact, we are on the way to a member's house who said they would teach us how to make knives.  I am definitely in Virginia!  ;)  I will tell you all about it next week because, to be honest, I don't really know what to expect.  All I know is, we have been running around all day trying to get things done.  :)

I just want my sisters to know how proud I am of them.  Cait, you'll have to show me your soccer skills when I get home.  Em and Beth, keep it up with school and things.  You are both so amazing.  AND I LOVE ALL THREE OF YOU MORE THAN YOU KNOW!

Thank you for all the pictures of the family!  I love them!  I am going to print them out next week and hang them up!  I am also going to try to get some better pictures of Sister T and I and the house we are staying in, Danville, etc.

I love you all sooo sooo sooo much!  To DANVILLE, VIRGINIA and back!  I'll talk to you all next week!  Loves and hugs from NC/VA!

Ash <3

Monday, May 18, 2015

And Where She Went ... Nobody Knows !!

I love it when you wait all week to see where your daughter gets transferred to .... and she sends pictures - she just forgets to tell you where she is.  The Minions were taken while packing for transfers and the rest are with her new companion Sister T during Service Activities for a member. And last but not least, the sunset on a perfect day.

Monday, May 11, 2015

This Week in the Life of a Sister Missionary in the Charlotte North Carolina Mission !!

This was last weeks P-day activity.  A stop at the zoo !!

Inline image
Inline image
Inline image

Inline image
Inline image
Inline image

Inline image

Inline image

Inline image

On a more spiritual note ...  A one of the young women in the ward Ashley is serving in got her mission call this week ... Congrats !!!

Inline image
Inline image

Then there was the trip to the office ... one of her companions is finishing up her mission and had to go in for her exit interview

Inline image
and then back home ...  When you serve in the South you are never far away from a Dukes of Hazzard Day !!

Inline image
Inline image
Just thought you may enjoy seeing what P-Day looks like in the south !!!  Just as a heads up - Ashley is receiving a transfer and we will be sending out a new address for her next week.  She would like us to keep her in our prayers and hope that this transfer will be as incredible as the two previous areas were.  Thanks she send her love to everyone.

Have a great Day 

The Irwins

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Hey you guys!  How are you doing this splendid day today?  I hope well.  Most of this was written on Monday, I just had to slip in the mission call story.  Here are some highlights of my week:

Experience #1:
It is now common knowledge that my companions and I are complete and utter goofballs.  Sister B was assigned to give the training on transportation at district meeting this week, but the funny thing is, she hasn't driven once on her mission.  She grew up in a really small town in Utah, and doesn't feel comfortable driving on main roads where there is a lot of traffic.  Understandable.  So her companion always drives.  So she looked at us when she got the topic and said, "Help me!  I don't know what to do."  So we put a little "role play" or skit together.  Basically Sister G was the driver, Sister B was the passenger, and after they had made up about 8 mistakes going against our mission driving rules, I got to come in and "pull them over" acting as the Cop.  The funniest part is, when I came to the window of their "car", they said they didn't have registration with them and that they were missionaries, so they are protected by the Lord.  Then they proceeded to tell me what missionaries did and asked if I had ever read the Book of Mormon.  The district got a pretty good kick out of it, and if not, at least we did.  It was really fun!  No more boring trainings for us!  ;)

Experience #2:
We were able to teach T again!  It was such an amazing restoration lesson.  The C's/B's are amazing fellow shippers.  They don't so much wait for us to ask them to say something, instead, they just jump right in and bear their testimony about something or share an experience from their lives.  And it is so much easier having fellow shippers that know the person we are teaching because they know exactly how they are, how they learn, and what will be best for them.  So pray that we will be able to catch his interest and help him realize that this is something that he wants for himself.  But like I said, it went really well.  He had read the restoration pamphlet that we left with him the first time cover to cover.  So as we were going through the lesson, HE ACTUALLY ASKED QUESTIONS!  And he was able to answer our questions with what he had learned or retained from the pamphlet.  We introduced the Joseph Smith Story and the Book of Mormon and invited him to read it.  But of course, we were low on miles and had to have J pick us up, and NONE of the three of us grabbed a Plan of Salvation pamphlet or a Book of Mormon.  So when she dropped it off, we sent it back with her.  :P  We are excited to see how he progresses on Wednesday when we are able to teach him next.  Hopefully all goes well.  Cross your fingers!

Experience #3:
A couple of days this week were thrown off because one morning, Sister G woke up with a pinched nerve in her neck and couldn't move her head.  By this time, it was too late to set up slits or anything, so we were all just kind of stuck in the house for the better part of the two days.  We did get out to do a wee bit of finding, but didn't see any real results coming from it.  But hey, it gave me a little time to catch up on Book of Mormon reading and Journal writing.  I am trying to have the Book of Mormon read all the way through by Sunday.  Hopefully I can finish!  I am so close!  But these things are not the experience.  So since I have had a stiff neck before, I told her that she should try putting some Bengay on it.  Since she was laying on the ground, unable to move, I told her to put her hand out and I would put some on it, but that she would have to wash them afterwards so that she doesn't risk getting it anywhere near her eyes.  Well, she did put her hand flat, but just as I was putting it on her hand, she flinched and a big glob of it landed right on her eyelid.  So much for that!  She started screaming, "I'm blind!  My eyebrow is going to singe off!  What do I do?"  I couldn't help but hysterically laugh at this point.  I just wiped it off and told her to go wash her eye with soap and water.  But since her neck was stuck, it was quite the challenge.  So I pretty much blinded my companion this week... Whoops? ;)

Experience #4:
On Friday, we were able to go do some sidewalk chalk at the park.  We asked the man running the carousel if it would be okay, and he said yes.  So we drew out the Plan of Salvation, which also looked like the word love.  (I sent you a picture).  It was really fun and it looked pretty decent.  (Unfortunately, we came back the next day and they had hosed it off).  I don't think they were too happy with us.  But oh well.  We are sharing the gospel, here.  Not looking for approval.  Right after we had done the chalk though, we decided to go knocking a little bit.  We had actually planned to go downtown, but I felt impressed to go back to this neighborhood that we had never finished knocking a few miles up the road.  So we went.  Door shut after door shut, and then... A man answered the door and said he was on his way out.  I asked him where he was going and if we could come back.  He said he was taking his son to baseball practice, I think.  And he said to come back the next afternoon.  We were so excited because he said that he wanted to hear more.  We did go back on Saturday, but we think that he had just left and the car that was there wasn't answering because they didn't recognize us.  So we are hoping that we can go see them on Tuesday and talk to them.  :)

Experience #5:
One of my favorite members got her mission call this week.  She got it today actually, before we went to the zoo.  Her mother was the one taking us, so we got to talk about missions with her all day long.  It was so great!  Today in the car, Sister G asked if there was anything that we could do at the mission call opening.  Sister C asked if we could share a short message about missionary work before she opened the call.  We were more than happy to.  When we arrived, everyone sat down and ate for a few minutes, then we delivered our message.  We read Alma 7:11-12

 11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
 12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

and Sister G discussed how she would be sharing this message in her missionary work for 18 months.  I then added my testimony about how important the missionary work here is, how important it is in the world, the blessings that will come to her, the people she works with, and her family and friends at home.  We closed, and she started opening it.  We told her to put the book in front of it so she doesn't read ahead.  She started reading it and started crying.  This made me choke up a bit knowing how important missions are to me and the Lord and knowing what a great missionary she is going to be.  She read a little bit and it said that she has been called to São Paulo, Brazil, Portuguese speaking, and she leaves October 7th for the MTC in Brazil!  We are so excited for her!

Now, THANK YOU A TRILLION TIMES OVER FOR TELLING ME ABOUT PRINCE WILLIAM AND PRINCESS KATE'S NEW LITTLE GIRL!  You're right.  I wasn't waiting by the TV.  In fact, I didn't even know she had been born yet.  I am on a mission, yes.  But I am still as obsessed as ever with the British culture.  So that filled my little British void.  So thank you!  ;)

This last week was decent.  We are noticing that the work is getting slower and slower here.  It's kind of hard when you don't have members that are really on board with how the work is changing and don't want to help out that much.  I mean, changing in that, there are other ways of doing it now.  It isn't just door knocking anymore.  But I am hopeful for this next week because we had a relief society lesson on Sunday about missionary work.  I think some of the sisters got the real idea and some didn't, but hopefully it helps.  However… we were able to serve others this week and that always makes my week better.  Elder M, Sister B, and I were able to sing at a member's funeral who just passed away.  We sang I'm a child of God because that was her favorite church song.  Elder C played the piano and it was really important to the ward and the family because the family isn't very active in the church and they were really grateful that the bishop let them hold the services there.  Sister G said she didn't want to sing because she and Elder C were "voted off the island."  Originally it was supposed to be the five of us, but turned into three because of that.  ;)

We have a couple of potential investigators and a couple of new investigators that we are working with, but we are trying to get a feel for their potential at this point.  The investigator that we are most excited for is T at this point.  Like I said, pray that everything works out with him.

We are trying to work with a couple of inactive members, but they don't seem like they want to come to church yet.  M, the less-active that Sister B and I found is still progressing nicely.  He calls us every once in a while just to hear from us or get a lesson over the phone.  He is one of my miracle stories from my mission for sure because he tells me every time we talk that we were able to change his viewpoint and that we were an answer to his prayers to God asking for someone from a church to come visit him.  So that makes me happy.  To know that I affected someone's life like that.  Everything else is doing okay. 

Companions are doing well.  Sister B is starting to come to the realization that she is going home soon and I think that's getting to her a little bit, but she is charging through that.  And I am just little old me.  Still blonder than ever, getting a few cuts and bruises every now and again to keep myself sane and still obsessed with Britain bviously.  ;)  The food is still fried, salted, and buttered, but it's good most of the time here.  The members are pretty good.  They're preparing for one member to get married next month and I think two or three of them are expecting kids this year.  So fun!  :)  

We are going to get transfer calls on Saturday night.  So I will definitely let you know about that on Sunday night.  Speaking of Sunday, I am planning on calling you guys so that we can Skype.   I am going to use the same account that I did at Christmas time I am just going to go off of the username and password that you sent me at Christmas.  I just need to know what account to call now.  So let me know if you can.
I can't believe Roxie is turning 1 already!  That's crazy!  That means she is going to be almost 2 when I get home.  Aaahhhh!

I am glad to hear that Bethany made it home safe!  Totally jealous when it comes to what she got to do while she was there though!  Sorry she didn't make it to finals, but hey, at least it was fun!   But I can't believe she got to go to Harry Potter World, Walt Disney World, EPCOT, and the Animal Kingdom.  Soooo envious!  Soooooooo.... Does this mean that we get to go to Disneyland when I come home AND Disney World?!?!?  I hope so!  ;)  Did I mention that my companions and I are planning this epic trip to Disneyland next year and we are going to call it, NCCM goes to Disneyland?!  We already have the sister training leaders and the zone leaders on board and we are slowly spreading the word throughout the missionaries.  So whoever decides to come next August, who is going to be home, can come!  It's gonna be the best!

I'll have to let you know if I see Elder B next week.  Does he know that I am serving here so it isn't super creepy if I say, "Hey my Grandpa Deinstadt helps your family with genealogy."  If not, tell me so I don't embarrass myself.

Cait mentioned to me that she is going to a competition for soccer this year!  Way to go girlie!  And Em, who knew that you would like choir so much?  I am so beyond proud of all three of my little munchkins! 

I wish I could have heard what Caitlyn said in her testimony in sacrament meeting.  I am so glad that she has her sights set on the temple, as do my other two sisters.  That is the ultimate goal that we can obtain as youth and young adults.  Get to the temple and keep going and going and going!  And I didn't know that you were thinking of going on a mission when you're old enough, Cait!  That will be so exciting if that is what you choose to do!  I am slightly biased, but they are so much more than worth it!
And thank you for the sweet words of love after that mom!  I love hearing little things like that because the love I have for you, dad, and my sisters is indescribable and it has grown even more on my mission!  I am so lucky to be able to spend eternity with the five most amazing people I have ever known.  And my mission has made me have an even greater respect and love for each of you.  It makes me want to strive my best - to be the best that I can and share what I learn with all of you.

I liked what Sister P said.  It's so true.  A lot of times, people look at other people and think that they are better or that there is no way they could ever associate or be around someone else.  But reality check people!  We are all heavenly brothers and sisters!  No escaping that one!  I did have a question about that though.  There is a lady in Shelby who said that the Irvin's are all connected somehow.  She went on and on about how we are all tied to celebrities and things, and that I was even tied to her.  And her last name isn't even Irwin.  She said if you go to, you will see what she did.  Can you check that out for me?  It doesn't seem to reliable, but I never know without looking.  So let me know what you find.  In fact, I am doing genealogy again today.  So let's see what I can find out of that today.  I will let you know on Sunday if we find any more names.

Thank you for your sweet testimony mom.  I love you so much and I am so glad to know that because of Christ's love for us, he has given us modern day prophets and apostles, the Book of Mormon, and the atonement.  If you think about it, Christ and Heavenly Father are all powerful and all they ask of us is that we love them and follow them.  They give us so much.  Including the opportunity to be washed clean and forgiven instantaneously, if we will just turn to them in repentance.  There is nothing more glorious than this gospel.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to be in the family that I am in as well.  I am so grateful for the opportunity we had to go to the sacred grove.  I don't think I really knew the importance of it, even when I was standing in its midst.  But there is nothing in the world I would trade for the testimony and knowledge that I am gaining.

I am so happy that you get to volunteer in the temple as well.  Way to be a member missionary and help hasten the work of the Lord in these, the last days.  I know all who are reading this are doing their very best to strengthen and uplift those around them and I am so proud of each and every one of you.

I love you to heaven and back.



P.S. I had a couple of questions, but can't remember what they were.  And I am going to bring up some of the things from sister's and dad's email on Skype, but will respond to them next Monday so that they can add to them after we skype.  If that makes any sense.  ;)  LOVE YOU!!!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Hey you guys!  How is your week going?  Here are a few spiritual/fun experiences I had this week:

Experience #1:
We were able to go finding this week.  We went shopping.  When we were back by the camping supplies and tires.  We saw a man looking at some carabineers  I think, and we decided to start talking to him.  He started the conversation with, "I gather that you are on a mission of some sort, correct?"  Bingo.  We told him that yes, we were on missions.  He asked what church we were from and our basic beliefs.  He said that what we were doing was really admirable and that he respects and honors the calling.  Unfortunately, he was more than content with his own religion when we asked him if he would go watch the Because He Lives video.  But it really made me think about the reason I am truly out here.  I'm not here to convince people of what we believe,  I'm not here to just "dunk and dump" as some of the missionaries here say.  (Which means, I am not here to just baptize people, and then forget all about what I did here for a year and a half ).  I am here to invite people to come closer and to help people and show charity wherever and however I can.  Yay for learning new things!

Experience #2:
This week, we were helping one of my companions feel better because she had to go to the doctor and get a blood test and things and we also didn't have many miles.  So we were teaching a lot of phone lessons.  But the really neat experience when we had a returning member we are working with call us and ask for some specific scriptures he could read when he was having a hard time.  He said he wanted some scriptures that came directly from Christ, like in 3 Nephi.  So I told him to go to 3 Nephi 12.  He said that since Sister B and I were the two that originally found him, he really wanted my favorite scripture as well.  So I told him to go to Alma 37:36-37.  I didn't think much of it and figured that he would just enjoy the scripture and that would be that.  But the thing is, he called us the next day and we missed the call.  So he left a voicemail on our phone and asked for me specifically to call him.  So I got on the phone and he said, "Sister Irwin, I would just like to sincerely thank you.  I asked for a scripture that I could turn to in hard times and you gave me so much more than that.  That scripture, your favorite scripture, really touched me.  I just thank you for that and for all that you have done for me thus far.  You have changed my outlook on people and on church.  Just thank you."  Of course by this point, I was in tears.  It just fills my heart so much to know that I was able to help one of Heavenly Father's children, my Heavenly brother in such a simple way, that made such a tremendous impact.  I LOVE WHAT I DO!!!

Experience #3:
This one is kind of sad, but happy too.  Since March, we have been going to a nursing home in Shelby to visit a less-active that lived there.  There are two members that would go over to see her every Sunday and just visit with her and her family, because she wasn't physically able to come to church.  But one Sunday, they both got really bad colds and asked us to go.  So we went over and were able to share a video and a prayer with her before we had to get going.  But we instantly fell in love with her.  So we started going back once a week since then, if possible.  One time in particular, we asked her what we could do for her.  She responded with such kindness in her voice, "You girls have already done it.  Just coming to visit me makes me so much happier."  We said thank you and asked if there was anything that we could do when we come that she wasn't able to do by herself.  She said, "I would really like to read the Book of Mormon.  But since my eyes are so bad, I can't see the words."  We told her that we were more than happy to do that for her.  We would go over and read about half of a chapter with her and come back and finish it.  Anyway, on Tuesday, we tried to go see her, but she was not in the facility.  She was at the hospital.  Then the next day we got news that she had passed away.  I would usually be a lot more upset about it, but her husband just passed away two or three weeks ago.  So now they can be together again.  We were also able to attend the funeral with a handful of members from the church.  She had mentioned that she wanted an LDS funeral, but since there are so many members of her family, they wouldn't all fit in our building.  Something that I really respected though, was that her family respected her wish that she be buried in her temple clothes.  Also, they asked our bishop and one of the members to speak at the funeral.  And the member that spoke said that the member that had passed away told her that she had really appreciated us going over to read to her and sing her some songs.  I only hope to be as faithful as this woman someday.  She is the only member of the 170 people in her family.  (Kids, grandkids, great grandchildren).  Isn't that amazing?  She said she knew the truth as soon as the missionaries knocked on her door and began speaking to her.  And she tried her hardest never to miss a Sunday after that.  She was a truly faithful and "virtuous woman."  I had to say that because that was mentioned so many times in her funeral. 

Experience #4:
While we were in Ward Council on Sunday morning, Bishop Shaw echoed  something the new stake president, President H, said in one of their meetings that really stood out to me.  He said, "Power comes in praying for people by name."  That was just something that I hadn't thought about.  But if you think about it, it is true.  If we have specific people come to mind that we need to pray for, we need to pray for them.  Just thought I'd share that with you this week because it really stood out to me. 

I think those were mainly the spiritual things that happened this week.  But one of the fun things we did was help in a Mormon Helping Hands activity where we helped vendors on the city's court square set up tents for the farmer's market.  It was very.... Wet.  It had been raining all morning and continued to rain when we got there.  But it was worth it when you saw how grateful everyone was that we helped them set up so quickly.  Then of course, the best part was when Bishop and Sister S offered to take all 17 of us out to IHOP for breakfast to warm up!  Yum!

Other than that, our week was pretty slow.  It seems that when we have a fairly good week and our lesson totals are up, the next week is pretty bad.  But something that I really took away from exchanges this transfer is when Sister A said, "When I was in one of my areas, almost the whole transfer, we had straight zeros across the board. But we were working our hardest.  The numbers system is not directly correlated with the individual missionary's efforts."  So you know what?  *dramatic glass shattering noise followed by the sound of something flying through the air and crashing on the depth of the earth below*  I just threw the numbers out the window.  I am here to help, help, and help people.  And I am going to focus more on inviting people to be closer to Christ and in teaching them what they need in their lives and serving where I can, rather than stupid numbers.  Like I always tell my companions, "I would rather be able to name personally the people I am able to help on my mission, than come home with 1,000 numbers and not be able to back up those numbers with names."  After all, Jesus wouldn't have cared about numbers.  But enough of my rant.  Hehe 

You had Stake Conference this week?!  No way!!!  I hope it was amazing!  That was the same topic we had this last Stake Conference I attended.  It was also really good.  I think I took like 6 pages of notes.  Whoops.  ;)  I completely agree with your thoughts on He that loses his life for my sake shall find it.  That is essentially what we do as members of the church.  We are willing to put down everything we have to serve the Lord in various ways because we recognize all the things that we have been given.  And we know that we can accomplish nothing without him in our lives.  And like you said, it does require dedication and laying aside what we want to or could be doing, in order to serve him in our various capacities. Your second point from stake conference is exactly what I am talking about.  It isn't our job to convert people.  I seriously wish that more people would realize this.  It is our job to invite them to come and SEE FOR THEMSELVES!  All I care about is that people are personally coming closer to their elder brother Jesus Christ.  YAAAAAAYYYYYYY!   And I really liked brother Matthews' question about being aligned with the SON to accomplish what the Lord would have us do.  That is our goal while we are here on earth.  To accomplish those things that the father would have us do with the talents that we are individually given.

On another note, I am so jealous that Beth got to go to Harry Potter world and possibly WDW.  But I am glad that she is having fun.  She is so good at what she does in DECA.  Doesn't it just make you so proud?

And I enjoyed Paige's comment.  The thing is, Sister G always says, "God knew I couldn't handle a foreign language mission, so he sent me to the hardest English speaking one."  The gospel in the states is definitely harder to teach because everyone is so set in their ways and they have heard rumors and things.  But it is sooooo far past worth it.

The work is kind of slow at the moment.  We aren't teaching anyone consistently and it is becoming harder and harder to find people.  But we keep trying our hardest and doing what we can.  Yes, the next transfer day is the 12th of May.  I haven't heard anything about staying in Shelby again or not, we will find out on the 9th.  All we know is that Sister B is headed home because she has reached 18 months.  Woo!

The weather right now isn't that bad.  Two weeks ago we were getting flash flood warnings, hail, lightning, etc.  but the past week or so, it has been sunny with slight wind chill.  So not bad.  I am so sorry to hear about the earthquake in Napal.  But I am glad the missionaries are safe.   Oh my goodness the Payson Temple is GORGEOUS!!!  Thank you for all the pictures.  I can now say that I have been through the Payson Temple while on my mission.  Haha 

Sister Irwin (Finch)"

I really enjoyed the pictures again this week and hope that that will become a regular thing.  I am having a blast here in Shelby and can't wait for things to get up and going.  I love you supercalifragilistically!