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Monday, September 21, 2015

Yes I Am Still On My Mission - NO NO ONE IS GETTING MARRIED !!  
But The Zone Meeting Was About The Importance Of Marrying The Teachings of the Bible and the Book of Mormon

Ashley's Letter Sept 7, 2015
I thought the Zone Leaders Did an Outstanding Job !!!!

So... This week has been interesting.  We didn't get to teach many people this week because we kept getting sick.  Note for the future: Some of the restaurants around here actually make me sick.  This is pretty hard to do because I know I don’t get sick much because of restaurants.  Sister L’s doing well.   Poor girl.  I told her this is probably her own personal "hell week", just like I had around her time of training if I remember correctly.  But we are working through it and everything will be just great!  I am doing a little better.  Besides getting a mild case of food poisoning and heat stroke this week, I'm doing dandy.  ;)  But Sister Alexander is the best.  She is more of the "mission mom" type.  We saw her at a fireside on Sunday and she asked how I was doing, if I needed anything, etc.  I told her I was doing better and that I was just fine.  She is so sweet.  She does it out of genuine care and love, and I adore that.  But, anyway... Here are some highlights of my week.  :)

Experience #1
We went to go see a member called Sister M this week to see how she is doing.  She is doing a little bit better with positive thinking and such, but that isn't so much what made this an experience.  It's good, don't get me wrong, but the thing that stuck out to me was the message that we felt inspired to share with her this week.  We read in Moroni 10:1-20 with her, and discussed spiritual gifts.  We had an amazing discussion with her about what gifts Heavenly Father had given her or gifts that she could develop according to her will as well as His.  She said that this is something that she had honestly never thought about before.  It was really nice to see the light of our message shine through her eyes when she understood what we were saying.  We talked about gifts such as kindness, love, charity, cleanliness, singing, drawing, etc.  but there are hundreds if not thousands more that we never even touched on.  I am learning so much myself from what we are inspired to teach others.  And I am glad I am learning something.  Because Heavenly Father must want me to learn something about Spiritual Gifts/Talents because we had this lesson on Tuesday, I think, then on Sunday we showed up to no gospel principles teacher.  This meant that it went straight to us or the elders, but neither were informed that the teacher wouldn't be there.  So we volunteered to take the lesson, we opened up the book to none other than the lesson on Talents.  So I am doing a little more study and prayer about both of those things, to try to find out what it is that He would have me know or learn about them.  And maybe he is just hinting that I need to use mine more.  I guess we'll find out, won't we?  ;)

Experience #2
We got the privilege to go out to lunch with E again this week.  It was so great.  The food was amazing and delicious as ever, but the thing that really struck my heart this week was his honest and sincere testimony about the Atonement when we asked about it.  We simply brought the topic up and he just took it and rolled with it.  He bore his testimony about how mistake we make in this life are quickly forgiven and forgotten by the Lord if we will truly and honestly seek repentance and forgiveness.  He then tied the Atonement into missionary work.  He mentioned that the Atonement doesn't always apply to what we do wrong, which I knew, but he brought to my understanding something that I had never before realized.  He brought up the fact that the Atonement really goes along with Heavenly Father's individual plan for each and every one of us.  I thought that to be interesting.  Especially in my case.  Knowing that I came home from my mission was kind of a set back all of last summer.  But you know what?  Now I have come to realize that it was something necessary for me to be able to learn from that experience, grow from it, and become better in order to understand what people are going through and help them in any way I can.  And, in a way, I have the Atonement to thank for that.  Heavenly Father has turned my set back into a blessing.  He has blessed me with the ability to truly empathize with people on something that most people don't, and may never understand.  I find that to be humbling and honorable.  I am so thankful that Heavenly Father has that much trust in me.  He truly does give us our trials to make us better and to help us know what we need to do as a result of them.  Which brings me back to a conversation I had with the Alexander's on the way to Mountain Island.  Yes, I got the privilege of being in a car alone with the mission president and his wife.  That is something not every missionary can say.  But they were talking to me about anything and everything and this actually came up.  And we all concluded that some things happen that we don't, and possibly won't understand until our next lives.  However, the things that are brought to our understanding, we can use now to bless the lives of others and really see where they are coming from through the true and full love of Christ that he lets us have for these people, should we choose to use it right.  I am so thankful for the understanding that I have gained.  :)

Experience #3
This week we got the privilege to go and eat with the elder's recent converts and their daughter, J.  When we showed up, we offered help with dinner and she said it was almost done, and that we could just go visit with her daughter.  So we were talking to her about her parents baptism and how she felt about it.  She is 10 years old and the elders have previously had no success in trying to meet with her.  She said she was happier because her parents seemed happier.  We asked her if she would want that happiness for herself and she asked how she could get that.  So we explained that missionaries would come by and talk to her about everything the elders talked to her parents about, and all of the sudden, she said, "Can you two come and teach me?  I don't want the elders."  We were kind of taken back.  We asked why and she replied, "Because your girls and I'm a girl.  You would just understand better."  So we said that we would talk to the elders about it and see what we could do.  I think originally, the elders were kind of hurt, but they realized that if it will bring J into the waters of baptism, it would be better for their family overall.  Because then they can get sealed in the temple, hopefully.  :)  So we are now teaching the new member lessons and the lessons to J.  So wish us luck on that.  It is just going to be hard now because we have to find a third female to go with us every time because the mom is going to school and work, so she won't be home a lot of the time.  But we know that Heavenly Father will help us because we can see and feel of his love for them.  :)  It's amazing.

Experience #4
We had zone meeting this week.  It was so much fun.  Apart from us showing up super early because we allowed too much extra time.  But whatever.  We walked in and I stopped dead in my tracks.  I looked around and saw white streamers, and isle, flower bouquets, a sign in book, lights, etc.  I was like... ummmm... what?  Then the zone leaders came over and said, "Please, please, sign in."  So we did, and I gave Elder P the strangest look that I am hoping conveyed something like, "What in the world are you doing?"  He just laughed and they wouldn't say a thing about it.  There were even little plastic rings on everybody's chairs.  When we got into zone meeting, we had some wonderful trainings on charity and service.  Then it was the zone leaders' turn to train.  I was excited and nervous at the same time.  Elder P got up and said, "Welcome everyone, to the wedding of our dear friends Bibi (Bible) and Moe (Book of Mormon)."  You see, there is a HUGE push for working with the Bible and the Book of Mormon in our teaching.  We have kind of gotten into a trend where we are afraid of using the Bible because we know that the people that are in our mission are very experienced when it comes to the Bible, so we have just kind of veered away from it.  But they put on this whole wedding display with a cake and everything to signify us "tying the two of them together for time and all eternity."  It was hilarious!  I seriously LOVE when zone leaders make the zone meetings fun!  :)  It was one to remember for sure!  And again, I took lots of notes that I will be sure to share with all of you when I return home.  :D

Experience #5
We went to go paint a member's porch yesterday.  She is 84 years old.  She picked a seafoam green color and had us paint the entire porch.  Unfortunately, this resulted in me getting heat stroke because I was careless and didn't have any water the entire day, then she gave me a soda for lunch and had us eat practically the entire pizza while we were sitting there.  She wouldn't let us keep working until all but two pieces were gone.  But before you ask, yes.  I was wearing a hat.  But it was tons of fun.  I may have gotten paint on my shirt and my pants, but I am hoping it washes out.  If not, oh well.  That's what service clothes are for.  But we were just glad that we could implement one of the things we learned at zone meeting.  They are doing a HUGE push for service all of the sudden.  Like, they want us to do somewhere between 1-4 hours of service in ONE DAY!  And that is wonderful in my eyes because that is something that I have pushed for my entire mission.  However, I don't know how that is going to work with the key indicators and standards of excellence.  We are going to try to balance it out though.  So wish us luck and if you have any suggestions, let us know.  One quote I loved regarding service at zone meeting was, "Elders and Sisters.  We were 'Called to Serve', not 'Called to Preach'.  We need to be doing both." -Elder Cravey  I agree completely, but still know that we need to be teaching people and helping them come to the waters of baptism at all opportunities.  So I am praying that Heavenly Father will help us find a balance.

Experience #6
In preparation for the Mission Home Fireside this week, we were thinking of people we wanted to invite from the ward as well as investigators who would benefit from the message.  We had about 22 people lined up to come.  (Which is A LOT for the Mission Home Firesides).  But a lot of them said that they didn't want to, they couldn't, or they cancelled last minute.  We were kind of bummed.  Then all of the sudden, we get a call from the Assistants to the President.  Elder B, (one of my past zone leaders who also served in Mountain Island), was on the phone.  He said, "Good evening, sisters.  How are you doing?"  We said that we were well and that we were just thinking of some people that we could invite to the fireside the next night.  He gave us some ideas, then all of the sudden said, "Hey, have you heard from Sister P lately?"  (His recent convert).  We told him no because she has kind of been avoiding us.  He said that they had gone over there earlier in the day because they are teaching her daughter, B.  He mentioned that we could invite her to the fireside.  We told him we had tried already, but she said that she had some "previous engagements."  He started laughing really hard.  We asked him why, and he said, "Well yeah she has some 'previous engagements.'  She got married today."  We were like... WHAT!?  As far as we knew, she wasn't even dating anyone.  We were so shocked.  And I thought it was so out of the blue and hilarious, that I just had to include it so that you can know of just some of the randomness that I go through on a weekly basis.

Experience #7
We got to go to the mission home fireside on Sunday night.  It was a BEAUTIFUL message about baptism given by President Alexander.  It was also good to see friends like Sister V, Sister B, Sister Z, Elder H, Elder H, Elder C, etc.  But I'll attach some of those pictures.  But I realized that I never include the notes for things like this, so here are the notes for the fireside.  Enjoy!  

Mission Home Fireside - President Alexander:
"The longer I'm here, the more I love the missionaries and the people of North Carolina."  -Sister Alexander
"What is it that makes missionaries earn money, sacrifice, leave everything to do this? - Because of the wonderful feeling we get in our hearts by going to the temple, reading the Book of Mormon, and
partaking of the sacrament." -Sister Alexander

"I am grateful for the priesthood that [President Alexander] holds."  -Sister Alexander

President Alexander:  What should I speak on?  I never fully felt that I should speak about
a certain subject.  Sometimes we can speak to large congregations and we may be speaking for one person.  So it may just be for you, whoever you are.  And the rest of you can listen.  As Sister Alexander spoke of her ancestors, I thought of my own.  They gave up their families, they gave up their homes, and everything to
join the Church.  It is a very, very important decision to investigate the church.  If we remember Jesus' life, and when he came to his cousin John, he said, "Will you baptize me?"
John said, "Look, you should baptize me."  He knew Jesus was the Son of God.
Jesus had to fulfill all righteousness.  He said, "I Will be the example."
Why is baptism so important?
Those of you who have been baptized: your baptism is just as important today as it was the day you were baptized.  Our baptism is for a remission of sins.  It allows us to be forgiven of our sins.
Things we know about baptism:
1. It is an Ordinance

What does that mean? 
It is a requirement.  For what?  Salvation and Exaltation.  An ordinance is a physical act.  It is something that we cannot do by ourselves.  It has to be done under priesthood authority.
How do we know that is true?
Look at the life of Jesus.  He taught us the pattern, he went to someone with authority, humbled himself, and went into the water.  The first ordinances of the gospel are baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Why did Nicodemus come to Jesus by night?
He may have been embarrassed.  He said, "What must I do to inherit the kingdom of heaven?"
"Unless a man be born of water, and of the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."
Did Christ teach us the pattern for baptism?
Yes.  He went to John where there was a lot of water.  He needed to be fully immersed.

2. Priesthood  Matthew 28:18-20
What was the last thing that Jesus said to his apostles?  (A man in the congregation said "Amen."
He told his disciples to go forth to all nations and teach the gospel.  That is what missionaries do.  It is a commandment Jesus gave.  3 Nephi:19-21
In the Eastern Hemisphere, he told them to preach the gospel.  In the Western Hemisphere, he gave them the authority to baptize.  "Baptism is important enough to change our lives."
"You can't hold the keys to baptize unless you have been baptized."
-Brother Husky

"It was important enough for someone with no sin, to be baptized, to set that example." -Sister Leach

There is nothing that we can ever say to him that means "You don't understand."  He understands everything.
As Joseph Smith was translating the Book of Mormon, what was the message he was getting?
He needed to be baptized.  He recognized the beauty of the Book of Mormon and the beauty therein,
and he was learning.

His wife was a scribe, part of the time.  Once, he stopped her and said, "You know Emma, I didn't know there was a wall around Jerusalem."  Then he continued...  When Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery prayed about baptism, John appeared to them to confer the priesthood of Aaron to them in order to baptize one another.

Why is that important?
I testify that John the Baptist returned.  I testify that he restored the priesthood.  Then Peter, James, and John restored the higher, Melchizedek Priesthood.  Which the prophets and apostles held.  If you can find out that the Book of Mormon is true, you will find out that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that what he taught was true, and that he was called of God.

3. Symbol   Romans 6:3
What are we learning about the symbolism of baptism?
It symbolizes when we are alive, dead and buried, and resurrection.  It also symbolizes Christ's life, his death, and his resurrection.  It is our witness to ourselves, and to others, that we are willing to take upon us Christ's name.

4. Covenant
It is a promise.
It is a contract.
It is two-way.  Between ourselves and God.
What do we promise?  That we will take upon us Christ's name, always remember him, keep his commandments, bear one another's burdens, mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort, take upon us His work!  He promises us that His spirit will always be with us, everlasting
life in the kingdom of heaven, remission of sins. 

Why is that important?  So the Holy Ghost can more fully impact our lives.  "No unclean thing can enter into the kingdom of God." -Elder Ales

If we will have faith in Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, he will change us.  As we are baptized and receive the gift of the whole ghost and endure to the end, every day trying, we will say that it is through him that we will be saved.  3 Nephi 30:1-2

I think that is about all I have for you guys this week.  I am having so much fun here and I am excited to see what this next transfer brings.  I get transfer calls on Saturday, so I will let you all know what happens with that.  I might stay in Mountain Island, I might not.  President has alluded to both.  So we shall see.  But on Monday I will be sure to keep you all informed.  I hope you are all doing well with school, work, friends, church, sports, etc.  But update me!  How are things?

I love you all soooooooooo much!  I will talk to you guys on Monday.  I love you to the pearly gates of the celestial kingdom and back!

Ash :)

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