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Monday, September 21, 2015

It Rains Sometimes in North Carolina !!

On Monday, September 14, 2015 2:20 PM, Ashley Irwin <> wrote:

Hey everybody.  My week has been pretty good.  We finished up Sister L's training, got a little sick again, and had tons of fun.  Here are some of the things that happened.

Experience #1
We got the chance to go to Lazy 5 ranch again this week.  Well, again for me.  For some, like Sister L, it was the first time.  But for me, it's my third.  So there isn't much to say.  Same animals, still fun, still smelly, still full of animal slobber.  But it was really fun to be back with some of the missionaries that I have served with before and some that I have never served with before.  We are still as goofy and fun-loving as ever.  After all, there isn't much else you can be to keep the mission interesting and full of laughter.  ;)  

Experience #2
We were able to go see Sister M again this week.  We brought our notes from the mission home fireside to talk to her about them because she was unable to come in person.  It was so good.  I am realizing that even the littlest things we don't normally associate with talents or gifts are.  For instance, Heavenly Father has given me the ability to take notes really quickly.  And it isn't just for personal gain.  Now, because I have them, my family (both present and future), will be able to learn and gain knowledge from them.  And I can share them with members and investigators here.  It's amazing.  Anyway, she was able to learn so much about what was discussed at the fireside.  (I hope you guys enjoyed the notes as well).  And she was able to share with us some really fun facts about her family.  She is a direct descendant of Hyrum Smith.  So she has held in her hands some of the journals and diagrams that the prophet Joseph Smith himself wrote.  So she was interested a lot in the part about the priesthood and Joseph Smith.  It was so interesting to hear her testimony about it.  She said that, that was the moment that she really knew that everything she had ever learned from her parents and from church was true.  When she held in her hands some of the most important things and pieces of information that she had ever seen.  She is such an amazing woman that deserves so much more than she is going through right now.  But that is part of the reason we are here.  To uplift her and share of the spirit that we bring with us.  :)

Experience #3
So there is a sister in the ward who is just returning to activity after about 9 years.  She basically just decided to come one day and she mentioned in a relief society lesson last week that all she really wants is to "learn how to be a Mormon."  She has been a member for quite a few years now, but she said that she joined just to "have a church."  She never really came to the understanding of the teachings.  So she took us out to dinner this week and we basically had a Q&A session.  If you really want to know how much gospel knowledge you have, have someone who wants to know a lot give you a bunch of questions.  It was some of the most simple questions I have ever heard, yet I actually didn't know how to explain some of them.  It was kind of refreshing.  This far out, there are not many things that make me stumble, but it is the moments that do, that keep me the most humble.  For those curious as to what some of the questions were, one of them was, "What is the Pearl of Great Price and what is its purpose?"  Simple... right?  Well you try answering it in a simple way.  I had to actually turn to the introduction of the Pearl of Great Price and read it with her.  Thank goodness Heavenly Father has given us the tools to be able to answer questions like that.  But this woman is an absolute sweetheart and just wants to learn so much.  She asked what, in my opinion, would be the best thing for her to do to learn all that she wanted to.  I simply responded, "Take the missionary lessons again.  They will teach you everything you will ever need to know."  She giggled and said, "Well, maybe not everything.  I have a lot of questions.  But at least it is a start."  So we are going to go over this week and start the lessons all over again.  We are really excited.

Experience #4
So... I told you about the member who just randomly got married, right?  So we called her one night this week and asked if we could come over.  She said if we could make it quick, we were more than welcome to because she was going to go to bed after that.  So we drove down there and talked to her for a few minutes.  But since Elder B was the one that told us that she got married, we had to wait until she said something about it.  So we asked some digging questions when we first got over there because she kept saying that she was really tired and that she had just had a really busy week.  And it was unbelievable.  It took us about five minutes to get her to finally tell us that she got married.  So we acted as surprised as we could muster and she just got the biggest smile on her face that I had ever seen.  It was adorable.  She said that it wasn't planned.  He just called her one day and said his work was transferring to him to Charlotte and that he wanted to see her.  Then a couple of days later, he called her and said that he was there and wanted to meet up.  She was like, "Are you serious?"  He said yes and about three days later, they were married.  She said that he is "all in" for joining the church as well.  She said she brought up the fact that it is pretty much unlike any church that he had ever been to, but he said that as long as she was there it would be worth it and that he was ready to be baptized.  She was like, "Whoa!  Slow down hot rod!  How about you try attending church first before you say that?"  So we have yet to meet him and have him go to church so we can start teaching him the discussions and see where his interest level is really at.  Because obviously we want them to be happy together and have the ability to someday be married in the temple, but we also want him to join the church for him.  He needs to gain a testimony.  So wish us luck on that whole situation.  ;)

Experience #5
We had a really great District Meeting this week about the parable of the sower.  Elder C is really passionate about the parable and he gave a 45 minute interactive training on the things that we deem necessary for an investigator's conversion, and what really matters.  A lot of it was the same, but there were some significant differences.  For instance, yes.  It is important to read the Book of Mormon with them, but he took it one step further.  He broadened our thought process.  Something that most of us have run into down here is, there are quite a few people that don't even know how to read.  We need to get down to the nitty gritty before we can leave a solid invitation to do something.  He mentioned that a lot of us have probably fallen into the trap of something like this:
Missionaries:  Will you read this passage of scripture for us?
Investigator:  No thank you.  I don't read well.  You can read it.
Missionaries: No problem. (We read the passage).
(At the end of the lesson):
Missionaries: In order to know that what we have discussed today is truth, will you read the Book of Mormon on your own time?
Investigator:  Yes I will.
It was a really good training.  Then I had one of the possibly worst role plays of my mission thusfar.  But hey, at least it was just for practice, right?  Luckily Heavenly Father gives us better inspiration as to what to say when we are actually talking to people.  But we are trying to implement more of the Bible in our teaching and I have come to realize that I don't actually know the Bible that well and I need to do better.  It is a lot harder to pull specific passages from the Bible than I thought it was going to be.  So I am working on it.  But that is something that I hope to continue even after my mission.
Then we went out to a District lunch afterwards.  Elder C, Elder H, and Elder H were going on and on about the fun adventures they have in uptown Charlotte.  And by fun, I mean that they have had multiple run-ins with some very interesting and intimidating people that have just gotten out of jail, do drugs, drunks, etc.  Elder C is VERY animated in his story telling.  I don't think I have laughed so hard my entire mission.  I could barely breathe.  I just love every district I am in.  :)

Experience #6
So... this week a lot of time was spent in bed again because we got sick.  Again.  A different type of sick though.  This time is was a cold so bad that I could barely breathe.  But anyway, I was kind of sick of being sick and I said a prayer asking that the spirit will lead us to someone to go teach.  There is a potential investigator about 4 miles from us, and I really felt like we needed to go see him.  Which was kind of odd, considering neither of us has ever met him because they were on exchange when the other sisters met him and I wasn't here yet.  Also, he has NEVER been home whenever we come by.  So we were a little hesitant.  But I figured, if it was a prompting, and I ignored it because of probability, I would constantly be living with the "what if."  So we went.  And guess what?  He wasn't home.  Figures... right?  Wrong.  As we were walking back to the car, his neighbor across the street was just pulling in and she got out of her car to check her mail.  So I stopped her and asked if she knew him and she said that she didn't know him, but she did know that he drove a grey car.  So whenever the car was home, he was probably home.  We thanked her for the information and kept talking to her for a minute.  Sister L complimented her on her necklace.  I then said, "Yeah.  We are missionaries, so we really like knowing where we could possibly go shopping for cute things after our missions."  Bingo.  Conversation started.  She asked us what church we were from and we told her the name and what our purpose was as missionaries, and if we could come back and see her.  She says that she is really busy, but if we can catch her, she would love to have us back.  So we got her contact information and we have been trying tirelessly to contact her.  So pray that we will be able to super soon.  However, I know that because we were open to and willing to listen to the spirit, he lead us to her.  Whether it is her time right now to hear of the restored gospel or not, it is so fulfilling to know that Heavenly Father trusts us with inspiration to move the work forward.  We just all need to strive to live worthy of it.  :)

Experience #6
We had two lessons last night that we decided to implement Sister Alexander's challenge to include singing in our teaching.  We did so at a dinner appointment with a member.  We sung "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" to the tune of "Come Thou Fount."  It sounded so good.  The mom's eyes lit up and she said that she loved it!  It brought the spirit in so quickly.  Which was great because their daughters are just full of energy and it is hard for them to pay attention.  The second one was the one that stuck out to me the most, though.  We were teaching a member who is preparing to go to the temple.  We showed a video about the temple and started to bear our testimonies about the temple and what it has done for our lives.  All of the sudden, I had a little voice come to my head that said, "Sing I Love to See the Temple."  I didn't hear it once, but three times.  So I just pulled it up on my iPad and Sister L picked up on it and we sang it so powerfully.   So of course the spirit was so strong that I started to cry.  The member just said, "Wow."  That's all she could say.  After we wrapped up the lesson and got in the car, Sister L actually stopped me and said we should say a "thank you" prayer to Heavenly Father.  I kind of laughed because I was the one that showed her that.  That is a practice that I have gotten into when amazing things like that happen.  So I have definitely come to gain a testimony of how powerful music and song really can be in our teaching.  :)

I am doing quite well.  As mentioned slightly, earlier, I got a little sick this week.  But past that, I am doing well.  Just enjoying working as hard as I possibly can because I came to the realization this week that I have 6 1/2 months left to work my heart out.
But anyway, I'm sorry to hear about the guy on the cruise that gave his silly cough to everyone. That is no fun!  What was he thinking.  That is really annoying.  Mine is just a sore throat that won't seem to go away.  It goes away during the day, but nighttime and morning time is just ridiculous!  And it has started cooling off of the last two days.  So that helps nothing.  But it is kind of nice because it isn't so blasted hot anymore!  SO WAYYYYY NIIIICCCCEEE!!!

I am so glad to hear that you had a blast on the cruise!  Did you do anything in Seattle?  That's somewhere we haven't been before.  When I told Sister L what you said about people in Alaska being in a hurry, she just laughed and nodded.  It's pretty true.  Except that Sister L was born in South Carolina and she is always in a hurry and can't be late for anything or it bothers her.  ;)  But I agree, it is important to stop and smell the roses once in a while.  Especially because it is something that you don't get the chance to do every single day.  :)
The picture of grandpa Irwin made me laugh so hard.  I just hysterically died and then said, "I think he looks a little cold."

I sincerely hope that you didn't hold your breath through that super long tunnel.  That's a long time to hold your breath.  Do you have pictures of the cabins.  I am glad that the grandparents made it out for a majority of the cruise.  That's the important part.  I am sure that grandpa Deinstadt really enjoyed the fish.  As soon as I saw it, I immediately thought he would.  I would have reached out to grab some.  ;)

The food sounded amazing!  Did you turn into food photographers?  I definitely would have.  Immortalized the food!  ;)  I could use some good cheesecake!  That sounds so good.

The train looked fun too!  So did the whales!  I guess I'll have to go back to Alaska with you sometime to say that I've been!  :)

Thank you for telling me about the regional conference!
I really liked what he said about Sister Missionaries especially!
It is really hard to join the church.  I hear it all the time from Sister L.  It is a really hard task to give up everything that you are used to and start some brand new things that you have never done.  I would really like your insights for family history and other things.  Don't worry about being slow.  Just whenever you get around to it.

Yes, our numbers have been lagging a little both this week and last.  But we are not discouraged.  We know that there are at least two, maybe three people that we could help to the waters of baptism in this next transfer!  And it is hard, but your right.  Chin up and keep moving forward!  As long as we are working as hard as we can, I'm not worried.
And yes, I love Sister Alexander.  She is the greatest.

Did you mean can dad bring back treats from China for me?  Because I would love some considering I am STAYING IN MOUNTAIN ISLAND FOR ANOTHER FIVE WEEKS!  It is not a six week transfer, it is five.  A shorter transfer because of holidays, but I would love some treats from China if that is what you meant!

And thank you so much for getting me a sweatshirt from Alaska!  I am looking forward to seeing it!

The mission is going really well.  I am determined to keep working as hard as I can.  Even though I am going to start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I am not packing my bags until my job here is done!  Sister L is done with training and ready to work!  We have our differences, but there are not many.  And that is truly a blessing.

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