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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Dynamic Duo Are Staying Together for 6 More Weeks !!

That's right!  I am staying in Danville, VA with Sister Hoffman for 6 more weeks!  It's gonna be great!  I know that we will continue enjoying and learning from each other!  Want to hear about some of our adventures from this past week?  Here they are:
Experience #1
On Monday, we were able to go to the C's house for dinner and FHE for the first time.  They are so crazy!  When we come back, you will have to see their house.  They are in the process of remodeling it and it is going to be AMAZING!  It really reminds me of Sherlock's House in the version of Sherlock that Beth and I watch.  That is really her whole goal anyway.  She has a sitting room, dining room, bedrooms, a library, bathrooms, kitchen, writing room, laundry room, etc.  Like a normal house, but there is so much history behind it.  Like the laundry room used to be the servant's quarters where they would prepare food for the master of the house.  It was great to hear all of that.  You'll just have to see it to believe it.  I think the house was built in 1810 if I remember what she said correctly.  But we had a wonderful meal with them.  They made spaghetti with fresh fruit and vegetables.  Then we shared 2 Nephi 5 with them and asked what gifts Heavenly Father had given them and how their family can receive the "manner of happiness" it talks about within the chapter.  They talked about how they can be more helpful and industrious in helping with the house, school, and so forth.  Which of course opened the door for us to come and do service for them in that BEAUTIFUL home.  Which I sincerely hope we get to do very soon.  Because GORGEOUS!  They are so funny!  The mom and the oldest son have the most unique relationship.  There are moments when he will act more mature to match her, or she will act immature to match him.  It's so fun to watch!
Experience #2
We got to go see Sister G again this week.  I told her that you guys can't wait to meet her because, meet her you must.  She is so sweet.  We visited for a few minutes and asked how her knees were doing because she went to the hospital this week due to pain in her knees and they told her that she has flared-up arthritis in both of her knees.  But she explained to us, that despite the pain, she will be keeping a vow to herself and to Heavenly Father that she will be coming back to church next week and every week after that.  We decided to read Alma 32:13-21 with her and talked about faith and humility.  She mentioned that the attributes of Christ that we possess have set such an example to her.  We talked about the strength and determination that she has to keep going and to keep getting better.  Then something amazing happened.  She got really quiet for a minute and told us that we worked really well together.  Although we kind of already knew this, we asked what she meant.  She said that it is because of the two of us that she has decided to come back to church.  She said, "Sisters have come and sisters have gone.  But you two didn't give up on me.  You two believe in me.  And that is why I have decided to make the changes that I am."  It floored me.  I couldn't believe that I was one of those people that had influenced her the most to come back to church and receive the blessings that she knows she is going to.  I couldn't be more thankful to be where I am at this time, and with the people that I am working with.  And to make it even better, I get to stay in Danville another transfer, so I get to actually see her come back to church!  :)
Experience #3
We went to Sister M's house again this week.  She wanted to show Sister H some of the autographs and personalized letters that I got to look at last time.  Then she went to show us her "Coke House."  It's basically a shed full of everything that has ever collected that has to do with Coca-Cola.  It is quite the impressive collection.  I am short on time today because of district activity, but I will have to just show you the pictures when I get home.  I think the thing that was the weirdest though, is we asked if we could have a picture with her, and she said NO!!!  But whatever.  She does always tell you when you meet her, "You get to a certain age when you just don't care about people's feelings anymore."  And yes.  She proved that.  But now we can just laugh about it and move on.  Because there really isn't much else you can do.  She is one interesting lady.  That's for sure.  ;)
Experience #4
We were trying to find out what we wanted to do from 8:00-9:00 one night.  Sister H suggested that we go see some investigators that we are basically split-teaching with the Elders.  Well, we showed up, parked the car, and walked up.  Only to have someone that we had never met before, or seen for that matter, answer the door.  We asked if the investigators were home and he said, "Hang on.  I don't live here."  Then we had someone that looked really familiar walk outside.  We found out that it was a member's nephew.  The reason he looked familiar was his younger brother lives with his uncle.  So we started talking to him for a minute.  He said that he has read the Book of Mormon and the Bible before and that he was interested in coming back to church.  Then the craziness started.  One of the investigators, who has been trying to give up the word of wisdom, walked outside and said, "I'm going to be honest.  I am drunk and I don't want y'all to see me like this.  But would I be a horrible person if I asked you to stay and talk for a few minutes."  We figured there was no real harm in it because we were on the porch instead of around the alcohol.  Then, one by one, they all started coming outside.  There was this one guy with a long, grey ponytail that kept calling us pretty and asked if we would like to stay for a drink.  Then the investigator snapped at him after I told him that we don't drink and said, "How dare you talk to the people that have changed my life like that!"  Long, long story short, it was a very interesting hour full of people walking in and out of the house either buzzed or drunk as a skunk.  It was really funny and at the same time really sad.  We went to see her a few days later and she told us that she is going to work harder.  But if you guys could pray for them to give up alcohol and cigarettes, that would be fantastic.  :)
Experience #5
We had Zone Meeting this last Friday.  It was soooooo much fun.  I am sad to say that one of my two Zone Leaders is being transferred because this is the most fun I have had in a zone so far.  And I have told them that.  We started off the meeting with a training about music and what is acceptable.  I think it's funny that we keep going over this.  It's like, "Yes, it stinks that we can't listen to all the music that we are used to.  But it isn't forever.  Just deal with it and someday you can listen to it again."  Then we had a break for a few minutes.  Then we had a HUGE counsel where we put all the chairs in a circle and talked about these bullet points that President Alexander sent out from the MTC Mission Presidents Seminar this year.  The bullet points were all focused on consecration.  I honestly had no idea what the word even meant until after the meeting.  But I learned so much.  We focused a lot on how the interests and talents that Heavenly Father has given us, we can use as more of an asset than a liability.  Then we had some trainings on Facebook, Potential, and working as a team.  I really liked the working as a team training.  They talked about how we should all be focused on numbers.  Not necessarily "numbers driven" but we should always be working our hardest so that the numbers increase.  Then we did this pep rally type of thing where we cut down a basketball net to symbolize our unity as a zone.  And one of the role plays we did that I liked was 2 missionaries were the parents, and 1-2 were the kids.  We had to role play our kids not wanting to go to church and how we will someday handle it.  That is how our mission is a today, tomorrow, and forever teaching mission.  We learn and APPLY what we learn in our lives.  I am sorry that was super jumbled.  If you have questions on anything, let me know and I will explain in further detail next week.
Experience #6
That night, we got home and we completely forgot about an appointment we had made.  Sister H realized that I was beating myself up about it because I was frustrated.  I hate doing things like that, it makes me feel terrible.  So she suggested that there may be someone who needed us more that night.  We prayed to know who it was that was in need of our service that night.  We were lead to some less-actives who said it wasn't a good time and that they would call us.  So we decided to go see our investigator, N instead.  As we were walking up her driveway, her neighbor H asked if we had a minute.  He asked us what time church started on Sunday and said that he was interested in getting back into church.  He described some traumatic things that happened in his childhood and how that has affected his view on God.  We showed him "The Hope of God's Light" and invited him to read the Book of Mormon.  He said that he really needed to hear that and was glad we had come that night.  That just proves to me that again, this is NOT my work, but HIS!  Heavenly Father knew that we were going to forget about that appointment.  He also knew that there was a son of His in need of our help and that we would get there on his time.  I am so thankful to be an instrument in the Lord's hands to help Him hasten the work at this time.
Experience #7
We went fishing in Caswell today for District Activity.  It was really fun and I even caught a fish!  It was really hot though.  We were all sweaty and sunburned by the end of it.  haha  We came back and the member's house we were at made us hotdogs.  The house he has was owned by a slaveowner.  So there was the master's house and the servant's house.  We hung out in the servant's house most of the day because of the air conditioning.  It was so much fun.  I will try to explain more in detail next week.  Because lack of time... darn it.
But no.  Sister H and I are both staying in Danville.  Elder B is leaving though and Elder C is training.  So we are getting a new missionary in Danville.
Yes.  Please send the package.  And please tell Bethany that she can send hers as well.  :)
You did not tell me that you have a new calling.  But I am excited for you!  That will definitely be a change of pace.  :)  However, I don't think you will ever really "walk away" from family history.  You love it too much and you are too good at it.  ;)  But that is your call.  I just think you should keep doing it when you have free time.  That's all.  :)
Camping at Shaver Lake!?!?  How many YEARS have we asked you to do that and you wait until both Beth and I can't go.  Sad.  Well, hopefully we can go with them next summer or in a couple of years.  I guess we'll have to see.  But until then, have so much fun!
Yeah - Where did the summer go?  It went by WAY too fast.  I just hit my 10-month mark on Saturday.  WHAT!?!?  That means I have 8 months left and by the end of this next transfer I will be done with almost 2/3 of my mission!  WHERE THE HECK IS THE TIME GOING!?  Work, work, work, until the job is done!  :)
Lake Powell sounds fun.  The pictures are all soooooooo cute!  I sure do love seeing all of you and the many adventures you're on while I am on my many adventures!
And again, thanks for the pics of the royals.  Love seeing those as well.  :)
I heard about the Blue Moon on Sunday.  No one told us about it because we can't watch the news.  Oh well.  Guess I'll have to see it in 2018.
I love you to the LAST blue moon and back.  #topped  But I sure do love you more than that!
Loves and Hugs from VA and NC!  I will talk to you very soon!
Ash :)

President and Sister Alexander - Love Them Already

Experience #1
This last Monday, we were able to go over to the C's for dinner for the first time since I got here.  We would go over and play around and things, but rarely is their whole family home at one time.  So we took advantage of it and Sister C made this amazing chicken Caesar salad and watermelon.  And we had homemade ice cream for dessert.  She has this amazing device thingy that you freeze the bowl for about 24 hours, put all the ingredients in it, and it sits there for about 20 minutes and just mixes it all into ice cream!!!  I want one!  It was so good!  But the best part was the message that we shared after dinner.  We were shorter on time than we had expected because Sister H also cut Sister C’s hair.  (I mentioned that she is a hair stylist... right?)  Well, anyway.  We were going to teach the Restoration, but we decided to share Mosiah 14 with them and talk about the Atonement.  It was really special to hear from some very strong and humble members how the Atonement has affected them and their lives and how much they love and honor the Savior because of his act of selflessness.  I could feel the power in the room.  What made it even better is the inspired invitation that I left with them.  I asked them to pray every single night, but for the next few nights, not to make it an ordinary prayer.  I asked them to include a thank you.  A thank you to Heavenly Father for the divine plan that He has for each and every one of us and for the Savior and the Atonement that we have been blessed with in order to return to live with him someday and be spotless in their presence.  This is something I tried one night on my mission.  I was just saying my nightly prayer, and I decided to thank him for the Atonement.  If you haven't done so yourselves, you may want to try it.  That is one of the most amazing personally spiritual experiences that I have ever had.  My whole body was just filled with gratitude, warmth, power, love, etc.  I can't even really explain it.  So each of you should definitely try it.

Experience #2
That actually leads me to another experience we had this week.  I am going a little out of order, but that is okay.  We have an investigator named N that we are working with, but last week we were having the absolute HARDEST time getting in contact with her.  Turns out that she was going through something really tough, and it didn't help that there has been some discussion about religion in her home since we have met with her and her fiancĂ© that isn't exactly positive.  She agrees with everything we are saying, but he doesn't.  So that's been hard.  But we felt inspired to stop by one morning this week.  She let us right in and asked if we can keep meeting when her fiancĂ© is at work.  We told her that would be great.  Just as we were about to start the next discussion, he walked in and started talking to her.  Which would have been fine, but he wouldn't stop!  It was so frustrating.  So we asked her if it would be okay if we came and got her later in the day with a member and had the lesson at their house.  She said, "We can do that??"  It was so sweet.  She really wanted to meet and was so frustrated that he wouldn't let her talk to us.  So that's what we did.  We texted the C's and set it up for later that night at their house.  We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We read 2 Nephi 31 with her and then discussed each of the five points.  The three that brought up the most discussion were repentance, baptism, and the Holy Ghost.  She said that she does want to repent and forget all the bad things that have happened, and that she wants to follow the example of the Savior and be baptized.  But she said she was concerned about having the gift of the Holy Ghost 24/7.  I asked her why, and she said that she is afraid that he is going to warn her of something, and she may do it and fall on her face because of it.  I was so humbled by that.  Because I have felt that.  As I'm sure we all have.  Yes - we do have him with us always.  And yes, he does warn us before we are going to make a mistake or do something we probably shouldn't.  But if we do happen to ignore the prompting, we have been given the opportunity to repent.  I told her that it happens to everyone.  And that it shouldn't necessarily be a fear, but a warning.  We reassured her that there is nothing that she couldn't repent of because our Heavenly Father is an all-loving, all-knowing, and all-forgiving Father if we just follow the steps and guidelines that he has given us to return to him.  She got really emotional.  At that point, I asked if she had prayed about the Book of Mormon and what answer she got.  Her answer was amazing.  She said that from the very moment she met us, she felt no need to pray about it.  She had prayed about it, yes.  But she got the same answer that she knew all along.  She said that when we come over, we bring a spirit with us that is noticeably different, and that part of that spirit leaves when we do.  She knew that if someone can bring that spirit, power, and peace with them, they must know the truth.  How amazing is that?  She gave me goosebumps.  All I could think is, "You're so right.  How is there even a doubt that what we share is true.  You don't only hear it, learn it, or know it, but you FEEL it."  She is amazing.  Please pray that she will be able to come to church this week.  We are going to have to move her baptism date back because she hasn't been to church yet, but that's okay.  And yes, we have a rule in our mission that they must attend church three times before they can be baptized.  So please, please pray for that.  :)

Experience #3
This week at District Meeting, it was a little bit different.  The Alexander's were coming up to Eden for interviews, so they told Elder C that the meeting was going to be slightly interrupted.  But here is how everything went down.  The Danville Elders had their interview at 9, so we asked our ride to pick us up at about 7:45 so that we could all be there about 15-30 minutes early.  Responsible of us, no?  Well, we got there about 8:30.  Perfect.  :)  We walk in, see the Eden Elders, and start talking.  Suddenly, Elder L gets a call from the zone leaders saying that the Alexander's were going to be about an hour late.  They got the destinations confused and were running really late.  But that's okay.  It wasn't going to put them that far off.  But then about 15 minutes later, the zone leaders showed up and said that the Alexander's had made it all the way to Winston-Salem before they realized that they were supposed to be in Eden in the morning and Winston in the afternoon.  So they were running really behind.  So we just visited until the Caswell Elders got there, and we started District Meeting.  About 5 minutes in, President Alexander walked in feeling simply terrible.  We all told him that it didn't matter much to us because he was still getting used to everything and none of us had any drastically important appointments to get to after the meeting.  So we went on with it and he started interviews in another room.  Elder C gave an amazing training about the Book of Mormon.  Part of it was the "flea theory."  Apparently it has been proven that if you put fleas in a jar, they are going to try to jump out.  But if the lid is there, they will only try to jump a couple of times before hitting the lid, coming back down, and getting discouraged.  After the lid has been on for a while, if you take it off, the fleas will assume they still can't get out.  So they will only jump a little below the lid.  He compared this to our investigators, as well as us.  If we try to jump for our dreams and don't get there immediately, we hit the lid, and get discouraged.  But he related how we, "the fleas", need a springboard to get out of that jar.  What do you think that springboard is?  The Book of Mormon.  Only the Book of Mormon contains the truths and evidences necessary to "spring" us out of our discouragement and help us to KEEP MOVING FORWARD!  It was great!  I am now trying to get to know the Book of Mormon better and better.  Not only for my mission, but to help myself and others when I return from my mission as well.  It is difficult, but I know that with the help of my Heavenly Father, I will definitely get there.

Experience #4
When it was my turn for interviews, I got to go in and talk to President Alexander for the first time face-to-face.  He is such a spiritual man!  He was asking me questions like, "What has the hardest thing on your mission been up to this point?", "How did you overcome that or how are you currently overcoming it?", "What have you learned most on your mission?", "What is your real purpose as a missionary?"  He is very concerned about the spirit of the law.  He wanted to know about my family, what I hope to accomplish on my mission, etc.  As we talked, he said the following things that he wanted me to let you all know.  He said:
1. "Your father sounds like an amazing man who has firmly rooted your family in the gospel."
2. "Your mother sounds like a very inspired person who is close to the spirit."
3. "Tell your family I say that you are an amazing missionary who has and will accomplish wonderful things."
It is not word for word what he said, but very close to it.  I just love him!  When the interview was over, and Sister H walked in, I got a chance to talk to Sister Alexander as well.  She and I are interested in all of the same things.  She is very interested in service, and 100% interested in Family History.  She said that my insights on both were inspired and she kept quoting me.  She said if I think of anything with how we can better use family history in missionary work, to let her know as soon as I can. So mom - If you have any ideas on how we can better use family history in missionary work, please email me back and I will pass everything on to Sister Alexander.  Thanks!  :)  I love them both so much and cannot wait to continue working with each of them to further the work here in this, the greatest mission in the world!

Experience #5
We had exchanges this week.  Sister S came to Danville this time.  It was so much fun and very disheartening at the same time.  We got yelled at multiple times by some less-actives, had to drop multiple people, and found no one.  But I did learn a valuable lesson about optimism from her.  She is so good at just looking at the bright side and not letting a day like that get in her way.  I just love her.  We nicknamed it "The Drop Exchange."  But we did have some highlights.  We got to go to the Caldwell's for dinner, we took lots of pictures, and we just talked about everything.  :)

Experience #6
We went over to teach Sister G again this week.  She was telling us this time about how she wants to set new goals for herself in her life and how she wants to be happy.  She was looking at her original goals for her life and was kind of sad that she hadn't obtained them, but set new ones that she can obtain.  We showed her the Mormon message, "Moments That Matter Most."  (Which happens to be my new favorite Mormon Message, by the way).  We shared with her that yes, she is more than welcome to set new goals.  But that doesn't necessarily mean that she should throw the old ones away either.  We told her that Heavenly Father wants her to be happy.  Not just settle for the best she thinks she could get.  She started crying and told us that we were right.  She wants to turn her life around and she said that she made a vow to herself and to Heavenly Father that starting on her birthday next month, she is going to come to church every Sunday.  Because that is where she remembers being the most happy in her life.  I would like to share part of her conversion story with you because it is amazing.  She said that one day, years ago, she was sitting on the couch with her newborn son, and her husband walked in and said that he was leaving her for another woman.  She was heartbroken.  She said she didn't know what she was going to do.  She remembers sitting with her son on her lap and reading the Bible just crying and crying.  She said a prayer and asked Heavenly Father to lead her in the direction that she needed to go.  All of the sudden, she and her son both stopped crying and were just peaceful.  They went to bed that night, and she woke up the next morning, and got in the car.  She said she didn't know where she was headed, but she got in the car ready to go wherever she was lead.  She said her car basically drove to the church building.  She said she had driven down that road many, many times, and had never noticed the building.  She parked, walked in, and asked what she could do to join the church.  And the rest was history.  She has such a strong testimony about the gospel.  That's why we need her back.  So please pray that we will be able to get her coming back to church as well.  :)

Those were the highlights of my week.  It has been a pretty good one.  :)

Sounds like you had an amazing trip to Washington!  I am so glad!  He is going to be one amazing missionary, that's for sure!  I can relate to the "all night on the toilet" thing... trust me.  ;)  I wish I could've seen Art in the Park.  It sounds like so much fun.  Ooohh... J-Dawgs.  That sounds good!  Whatever... I don't believe the whole "if you knew me 4 years ago" thing.  I always knew he was going to go.  But I also don't doubt that he was a "rabble rouser."  But I do agree with everything you said about two Irwin's as missionaries in the south.  What are they going to do?  How will they survive???  WE ARE GOING TO BAPTIZE EVERYONE!  Mwahahaha  haha JK ;)  Yes - "Lethal that close in proximity" describes the situation perfectly!  :)

That is soooooo funny what parker said about the 2 things he knows and the one he doesn't.  We laughed really hard.  Because... true.  We were actually talking about that with the Zone Leaders and Eden Elders on Sunday.  Dear Johns and Dear Janes are a VERY real thing!  #truth

The area is going well.  We are working with our investigator, N a lot.  But past that, we are trying to find new people to teach.  We aren't progressing with that too far.  The problem is, too, our area is so large, that if we find someone, more than likely they live about 20 miles from us.  And we just don't have the time or the miles.  Because we are at a dead point with member splits too.  So we are working on elevating everything in the ward again so that we can elevate the work.  I will include more of how the work is going in a hand-written letter so that I can be more specific.  Can you email me specific questions about the work that you would like answered?  That will make it easier for me to tell you everything that I can.  :)

We went to the river walk again, took more pictures.
Then we went to O'Kelly's with Sister T and her daughter for lunch.
Then we went to the Antique store on Main Street and I had to resist buying more original Disney records.  These were slightly more expensive.  They were Cinderella, Winne the Pooh, and Mousketeers.  If you happen to want any of them, tell me and I will go get them.  But I didn't because... poor.
Then we went grocery shopping.  Then emails.
Next week we have district activity.  So we are going to have a barbecue, play board games, and just relax.  It's going to be great.  And we are going to the Caswell Elder's mansion because they have a HUGE backyard.  So we are excited.

But... challenge accepted.
President Uchtdorf has said, "Astronomers have attempted to count the number of stars in the universe.  One group of scientists estimates that the number of stars within range of our telescopes is 10 times greater than all the grains of sand on the world's beaches and deserts."
Sooooo.... I LOVE YOU TO THE POINT PAST THE POINT THAT THEY HAVE GOTTEN TO THAT SAYS WE HAVE 10 TIMES GREATER THAN ALL THE GRAINS OF SAND ON THE WORLD'S BEACHES AND DESERT'S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) ;) ;)  #gospel #prophets #sand #beach #trytobeatthat  ;)  Bottom Line:  I love you A LOT!

I will talk to you next week.  :)

Ash <3

With Christ Nothing is Impossible

Experience #1
This week we had a really great dinner with the C's.  She made homemade Nicaraguan burritos with all the fixings.  It was DELICIOUS!  Brother C really likes spicy food, so he bought this salsa that was so hot it made me cough.  That hasn't happened in a while.  But what was really special is the message that Sister H came up with for the dinner thought.  She found this talk by Neil F. Marriott that talked about letting our lights shine as bright as temples and what a great comparison that was.  It reminded me of this story that everyone out here mentions when talking about the temple.  Apparently, soon after the Washington D.C. Temple was built, there were a lot of complaints.  You see, that temple is similar to San Diego in that you can see the temple from the freeway.  Also considering that it is the second largest temple in the world, it was beginning to be a distraction to many drivers on the road.  In fact, it was causing man, many car accidents because of the brightness and grandeur.  So the people went to the city and ask them to demand that they turn off the lights of the temple.  So they asked around with different people, occupations, etc.  And they found that there was no way that they could turn down the lights, let alone off, because the pilots had begun using it as a landmark so they knew where they were in the darkness.  Isn't that spectacular?  We always say that we need the temple to be our beacon of light in the darkness, but who knew that some actually use that literally?  I just felt the need to share that with you because of the feeling of amazement that it gave me.  So I do hope you enjoyed that story.

Experience #2
We were also able to have a lesson with our investigator, N, this week.  She is so excited and anxious to learn more and to expand her knowledge.  She said something that really struck me as amazing.  She said that after we left her home from teaching the restoration, something happened that really made her want to do her own research about the church.  That concerned us as she was telling us, because as we all know, there are some very horrible and very false things about the church on the Internet.  So we brought that up with her.  She said she did come across those things, but she chose not to read them because she has no interest in negativity.  We were overjoyed!  She said when she was doing her research, she was really impressed by three things.  -Our Church Services, -Our Service Involvement, and -Our Missionary Work.  We were so happy!  We talked some more about the Book of Mormon, paid clergy, service, love, etc.  We basically taught 1/2 of the lessons in 1 lesson.  But yes, we are still going to go over everything.  She is just amazing.

Experience #3
We also had District Meeting this week.  I really like how Elder C does his District Meetings.  We had a training on how our investigators would thank us when we get to the next life and how they are going to be so grateful that we were there to help them and to save them when they were "the lost sheep of Christ's fold."  It almost brought me to tears.  Let alone Elder C, he was almost sobbing as well.  Then we had a "Book of Mormon Counseling Circle."  We basically all got in a circle, (there is 10 of us in our district), and we shared things we have learned from the Book of Mormon, study helps, etc.  Little did I know that we aren't supposed to be using the institute manuals for further understanding.  I shared that as one of my tips, not knowing that President C told the mission a few months ago not to use them while on our missions, whoops.  Guess that's what happens when you are exiled to the top of the mission in Pilot Mtn.  News must not travel that far... ;)  But that's alright.  You live and you learn.  Looks like I'll just have to read them when I get home.  Then we had Role Plays.  But you see, Elder C doesn't like regular Role Plays.  So for this District Meeting, we were paired up with someone else in the district and we had 60 seconds to list all the things we are grateful for.  I think the top score was somewhere around 80.  But his point to doing this exercise was that if we were given 60 seconds to think of all the things were weren't grateful for, it would be a lot harder and we probably wouldn't be able to accomplish nearly as much.  That was influential and something to really think about.  Because it's so true.  We need not focus on the things that we don't appreciate, but rather focus on the blessings that Heavenly Father has given us.

Experience #4
We went over to see two members of the ward, B and A.  They are SOOO funny.  They had us laughing for a long time.  In fact, it took me a few minutes to get serious enough to share our message with them.  They are the best.  I have never seen B smile so much.  But she was happy and giddy that whole night.  They made us cookies and everything.  But I have mentioned before I think that A sometimes gets sick.  Well, she and her mother are both working on getting to the temple before the end of the summer/year.  They are so excited.  When we brought it up for the message that night, they were just beaming.  We asked what we could do to help them get there, and they said they couldn't think of anything.  But they are so excited.  We gave them little tidbits of hints and tips that we had that helped us when we were preparing to enter the temple.  And we were able to bear our testimonies about temples and temple work.  It was such a special occasion.  I can't wait to hear about it when they get to go.  We shared the Ensign article for this month about temples and preparation for those of you who are wondering.  It is such a good article to read.  :)

Experience #5
We went over to teach N again later in the week to teach the Plan of Salvation.  She just absorbed everything.  She realized at the end of the lesson that her beliefs and our beliefs are practically the same.  There are just a few minor differences.  Her fiance was there the whole time and kept giving us pretty funny looks or just laughing at what we said.  It was disheartening at first, but N told us just to ignore him and keep going.  We had many spiritual discussions during that lesson.  Including, but not limited to, the Holy Ghost and how we can feel it, Adam and Eve's story as a blessing, and the Three Kingdoms of Glory.  She really liked that Heavenly Father has given us a way to return home.  Which I just have to completely agree with.  There is no way on earth that our loving Heavenly Father is not a God of second chances.  HE GIVES US SO MANY!  The spirit world, yes.  But even here, we mentioned that there is not an act or a mistake that we can not repent of in this life.  She loved that!  On a slight side note: We can see really great things happening with their family and the gospel.  In fact, we were able to get N's daughter N to church yesterday, and we didn't even know her name yet.  N couldn't come because she got food poisoning, but N loved it.  Even though her fiance isn't thrilled about it quite yet, we still see so much promise from them.

Experience #6
We were also able to go see Sister G this week.  We read the talk, "Latter-Day Saints Keep On Trying", with her.  That talk is AMAZING!  Not only did it give her the strength that she needs, but it was inspiring for me as well.  There have been times, not only on my mission, that I have truly felt like giving up.  But that talk perfectly describes how we need to look toward the Savior for hope and "Keep Moving Forward."  Yes, that was Walt Disney's favorite quote.  Just had to throw that out there.  ;)  But the line out of the whole talk that stands out most to me is, "God cares more about who we are and who we are becoming, than who we once were."  It is so inspiring and really testifies of the Atonement to me.  He doesn't care what we have done in the past or how we have felt.  If we repent of those things, they are promised to be wiped clean and we are given a fresh start.  If y'all haven't read it yet, read it.  It is so great!  It will change your perspective on things really quickly.  :)

Apart from that, we are just trying to find, find, find.  We know that Heavenly Father has elect sons and daughters in this area that we are meant to find.  And we will find them.  I have so much faith since I have reset my vision of what I am capable of and what this companionship is capable of.  :)

I can't wait to hear all about Parker's farewell.  I am so excited for him to join me in the South!  What are they going to do?  Two Irwin Missionaries within a few states of each other?  CHAOS!  ;)

I am sad to hear about Uncle Arden.  He was getting old though.  And now he is in a much happier place with people who love him there as well.  :)  I didn't know he served in WW1.  That is so interesting!

Looks like when I get home, I'll have to get my ankle all fixed up so I can jump on the marathon bandwagon.  I have always wanted to run one, but I have never gotten the chance, or been in shape enough, to actually do it.  ;)

I am so glad to hear that everyone is doing well.  Tell me where you go camping.  I want to see pictures too.  Sister H and I both really like camping, so that is one of the things I want to do after I return.

I had the same thought today.  Where DID the summer go?  I can't believe it's already august.  That means I have almost been out 10 months.  It doesn't seem real.  I am savoring every moment.  I can't even express to you how influential this mission has been on me and will be for the rest of my life.  I have learned way more than I ever would have on my own.

The work is going well.  I have a lot of hope and faith in N and her daughter N.  They are both so open to learning and they love what we have shared and the spirit they feel.  We are working hard on planting seeds and harvesting them soon after.  We are literally talking to and inviting everyone that we can.  

Today we went to do the river walk in Downtown Danville, then we went out with Sister T and her daughter and did ALL THE THINGS, haha  We went to lunch, Hobby Lobby, Sally's and Walmart, and now we are going to the C so we can have dinner with them and Sister H can cut Sister C's hair.  Did I mention she is a hair stylist?  Did I also mention that it is really tempting to have her dye my hair?  But then I would lose the pretty natural color and length that I have worked so hard for.  So no.  haha

But I think that's all for this week.  I will talk to y'all next Monday.  I love you to the moon and back!

Ash :) <3