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Monday, October 12, 2015


Halloween Is Coming  !!

Hey you guys!  Hope you had a good week.  Mine was interesting.  Here are some things that happened! :)

Experience #1
Sooooo... Let's start with the best thing first this week.  We had a baptism this week.  J entered the waters of baptism following the examples of her parents as well as the Savior.  It was amazing!  It was so well put together.  Everyone was prepared.  We were just a few minutes late in starting because her mom was coming back from school and was running a little late.  But we took pictures, and got started.  The bishop's son gave the talk on baptism.  The actual baptism ordinance went well.  The only problem was, it was her father's first time baptizing.  So he couldn't get the words right.  He had to redo the words at least four times and had to dunk her twice.  But it went well in the end.  She was baptized and said she felt "clean" and "new".  Sister L gave a beautiful talk on the Holy Ghost.  Then we closed and had some really good refreshments.  It was a great day and everything ran smoothly.  :)

Experience #2
We had interviews this week.  It was really fun.  Sister B offered to drive us to Gastonia.  I was wedged in between two little boys in car seats which were like possible 11 inches apart.  I have never felt so squished.  But she is so funny.  When we got there, we had to wait for a few minutes before talking to president.  They focused on strengthening our companionship as well as self-reliance and confidence.  They didn't say anything about how well I did, but more of general guidelines.  But that's okay.  They told me that my family is very wise and insightful in the guidance they have given me in my life that has led me to being the woman that I am today.  It was a really good interview.  He gave me some advice for the last part of my mission and told me that my rating myself at the obedience of 9/10 is good, but it could be better if I lift my companion to that point.  He told me that the main focus is missionary work, but that we have to realize that the end does come someday.  Which was sad to think about.  The funniest part though, was the beginning of the interview.  President looked at me, trying not to crack a smile and said, "Sister Irwin.  Salt Lake is not very happy with the TiWi report that we got from you this morning.  They tell me that on Wednesday, you went to uptown Charlotte at 11:00 at night and came back at 2:30 in the morning."  I giggled and said, "Hmmm.... I wonder why President."  Which leads me to my next experience...

Experience #3
Sister L and I went to go get out flu shots on Wednesday.  We were both fine all day other than the doctor who gave me mine was English and flirted with me the whole time.  But around 10:00 at night, Sister L threw up, started shaking, became pale, and got hot and cold sweats.  So we called the mission doctor and he told us to take her to the emergency room.  So we called Sister A and she said that she would meet us there.  It was 12:30 before they called us back.  In the meantime, Sister L got a blessing from President.  After hours of tests and blood work, they couldn't find anything wrong.  So they diagnosed it as nausea.  We decided that it was probably an allergic reaction to her flu shot.  But it was around 2:30 before we got headed home, we almost got T-Boned again, and we were exhausted.  We got home around 3 and President asked us to sleep in in the morning.  Elder C called us around 10 and asked why we had slept in.  We explained the whole situation and he said he felt like a jerk for assuming.  I was like, duh.  Why would I purposely disobey?  So silly.

Experience #4
We were low on miles on Saturday.  So we planned to bike.  But because it's our luck, we picked the only day of the week that it rained.  So I thought I practically ruined my multicolor tie dye skirt.  But I got most of the dirt and stuff out, but I have to ask - there is a hole in it now, so should I just sew it?  And what would be the best method for doing so?  Other than that, we met a few people and ended up biking around 14 miles.  I.  Was.  So.  Sore.  It was ridiculous.  Just thought I would share how wet, miserable, and exhausted I got.  I think I literally cried myself to sleep that night.

Experience #5
I love the moments that I can really tell that someone needs us.  We went to see Sister H after church today.  She had a breakdown at church and went home early.  I think she just got overwhelmed by the ward changes and everything.  So we got to go over and just simply answer questions she had.  And I could feel the spirit so much!  She apparently had tons of questions about the Atonement and Jesus Christ that she hadn't asked before because she felt like they were stupid questions and that they should have been common knowledge.  So when we brought up the Atonement, she started crying when I read a quote from Richard G. Scott from his October 2004 talk.  It just makes me so happy when I can bring things back to the basics like President Uchtdorf encouraged us to do and how much of a difference it can make in people's lives.  I love this so much!

Experience #6
There were so many things that stood out to me at church yesterday.  J's confirmation happened and I actually cried.  I could almost feel or hear the spirit saying, "Thank you girls, for bringing a family back into my fold, and making sure you completed the family first."  It took me quite a few minutes to calm down.  Not going to lie.  Also, when the sacrament was being blessed and passed... They had to say two water prayers because since our ward is three times the size now, they underestimated the amount of cups.  But you won't believe by how much.  One cup.  They redid the sacrament prayers for literally one cup.  That just manifested to me the importance of the sacrament prayers and ordinance.  And the bishop got up and mentioned it to everyone as well.  It was amazing to know that our church and the blessings therein, are that sacred and that special.  Also, I bawled like a baby because Gospel Principles was all about temple marriage and sealings.  So all I have to say is, I love you guys and I am so thankful that Heavenly Father has given all of you to me as my eternal family.  :) <3

What movie are those lyrics from.  Elder Hutchinson and I have been driving ourselves mad trying to think of it.  And where did she get all of those?  Are they CD's or actual records?  You're right.  Some people have all the luck.  And are we putting the movie room together?  The directors chairs would look great in there if that is the case.

The BYU planetarium sounds like it was fun.  I wish that we had done something that fun for girls camp certification.  You sound like a really fun camp leader.

I am sure that Em will be able to get her grades up.  She is smart.  I have faith in her.  Just tell her less time on the phone and more time in the books.  ;)  I am also really sorry to hear about Brenda.  Is she doing okay?  I am glad they got it in time.

YAY!!!  BYU WON!!!  I am so happy about that.  I can't wait to go to games in person when I get back.  Or watch them in general.  ;)

Is "Once I Was A Beehive" an actual movie that came out in theaters?  I will have to see it when I get home.  It sounds really funny!  You'll have to involve me in some of your fun girls camp things when I get back.  I would love to help when I get home.  If I am in Utah for the summer.  Do we know what we are going to do about that yet?
I am just fine waiting for the package.  It will be special to hear from the ward members.  So I will find out if I stay or go on Saturday.  So I will let you know as soon as I can on Monday.  Most likely, I am staying.  But you never know.  So I will let you know.  I am so excited to get the package though.  I love your packages!!!

I know how you feel with tons of conferences.  We have general conference, two mission conferences, interviews, and stake conference this month.  And I completely agree with Sister Searcy's comment about the spirit.  Without him, we are nothing.  That is why it is the GIFT of the Holy Ghost.  We need it ALWAYS!

I am glad everyone is still enjoying my emails and pictures.  The district is doing okay.  Everyone is acting a little better day by day.  There are still little freak outs, but oh well.  You can't win all the time.  Sister L is hanging in there.  Transfers are next week actually because it is a five week transfer this time and a seven week one next time.  We are just making the most of it.  Thank you for the encouraging words.  I need to pray for help to fix the problem.  I got a flu shot this Wednesday.  So today we went to the church with the district to play sports.  I am doing some of them, but if I have to kick a ball, the toes hurt too much.  So I am doing a little of both.  The shot wasn't bad though.  I didn't even bleed.  I thought it was going to be worse than it was.

It's crazy to think that Jason gets home in 9 days, then all of the sisters in the ward.  We try our hardest and keep working tirelessly.  Fight on, battle on, and come up strong.  We literally are God’s Army here on the earth and we need to act like it.  It may be hard at times, but if we keep going, the Lord will bless us.

I love you guys sooooooo much!  All the way to Germany and back because Elder Kopischke is coming this week.

Ash :) <3 

Monday, October 5, 2015

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Mormon Newsroom

 Ponderize This !!!

Hey everybody!  I had a really good week!  Here are some of the major highlights!  I hope your week was as good an insightful as mine was.  Enjoy!

Experience #1
We got to go to the mall and Panther's Stadium last Monday for P-Day.  It was super fun.  We started at the mall because, before the boundary changes, we didn't have one.  So we were really excited.  I parked and the first thing I saw was the big H&M.  Of course.  ;)  Still not as big as the one in City Creek, but it will do.  :)  But the mall itself is huge, and fabulous, and shopping, and happy.  I was excited, if you couldn't tell.  Well, we had no money last week.  So we were basically window shopping.  Which I was perfectly fine with, but Sister L was getting bored and we had extra miles.  So we decided to go to Panther's Stadium and explore uptown for what little time we had left.  Sister L is funny.  When I told her I was a city girl, I don't think she entirely believed me.  I was driving in Uptown amidst all the construction and pedestrians only to find a parking spot that she was determined was not there.  I told her to give me five minutes and if we didn't find one, we would go home.  Not only did I find a parking spot a block from the stadium, but I did it in three minutes.  And as an added bonus, the meter we had to pay still had 25 minutes on it.  YAY!  So we went and took pictures by the stadium and walked around for a few minutes before heading back to the car so that we could finish up the rest of the stuff we had to do that day!  It was really, really fun!  And today we are going shopping with a member named Sister C.  She is great and loves spending time with us!  We have to get Sister L some winter clothes.  She is from Alaska and has literally ZERO winter clothes with her out here.  I found that both ironic and comical.  ;)

Experience #2
We have been struggling with Sister M.  We are sharing lessons with her that are uplifting and we can tell they bring her closer to where she needs to be, but after a while, she just kind of stops and figures that there is no way that she can climb some of the mountains that she needs to in order to achieve the goals that both she wants to set and that we want her to set.  So Sister L was inspired to start with the basics.  We just taught an entire lesson about Jesus Christ and His Atonement.  We could all feel the spirit so strongly.  I showed a specific picture that I had taken from a Sister Training Leader.  I told her that when I look at this picture, (which I will attach in my picture emails), all I can feel is the Savior's infinite love for me and all of my Heavenly Brothers and Sisters.  I feel like it perfectly describes what He did for each and every one of us through the Atonement.  He picks us up, brushes us off, and as was said in conference, "lifts us to where we need to be."  It was such a remarkable lesson.  I invited her to do something that simply changed my life and outlook on the Atonement forever.  I invited her to do something I did at the beginning of my mission.  One night, I thought to myself, "Self, we are all aware and grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ, but how often do we ACTUALLY say thank you to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for coming up with this plan and executing it perfectly for us?"  So that is what I did.  I prayed and thanked them for the miraculous grace and mercy they have for each of us.  I thanked Him for this plan that will enable all of us to return.  And I thanked Him for the actually suffering and dying on the cross for us and for rising on the third day so that we could overcome the pains of mortality and physical death.  Then something indescribable happened.  I was enveloped in such a feeling of love, warmth, and peace.  If I had to put it into words, Heavenly Father was probably saying, "My daughter.  You understand.  You understand the importance of it all and you are willing to do what you can to obtain the blessings that I am ready to give you."  I invite all of you to do the same thing.  I promise, as a representative of Jesus Christ, that it will forever change you... so long as you let it.  :)

Experience #3
We had a mission conference this week.  It was AMAZING!  President and Sister Alexander focused the whole conference on one principle that we need to start using more in our missionary work.  Mom - you will really like this.  FAMILY HISTORY IN FINDING!  They had their son J came from the family history library in Salt Lake and his wife R come to our mission to teach us about exactly that.  I am not joking when I say that we had a four-hour training on how to incorporate it.  It was fantastic!  For lack of time today, I will just tell you briefly about some of the things I learned.  But next week, I will compile some of my favorite ideas and concepts that we were able to pull out of it.  :)  He talked about finding with family history and how we can just go up to people on the street and start talking about it and it really isn't that weird.  Then we talked about member involvement and how they are our most valuable assets.  Then we talked about retention in recent converts and less actives because of family history.  One of the funniest moments was, they pulled up a sister in our mission to do a demonstration on how to get people started.  Then all of the sudden, they were going back through her great-great grandparents, I think, and Elder M raised his hand.  J called on him and said, "Do you have a question?"  He replied, "More of a comment.  I think we are related."  Everyone laughed sooooo hard.  She looked horrified, which made the whole thing even better.  But then we had lunch, and a training on our new TiWi Boxes.  They are horrible.  They are these little boxes that measure your seatbelts, speed, speed bumps, aggressive driving, etc.  They really aren't that bad when you get used to them.  But the whole goal is to stay in the "green zone."  But that is easier said than done.  You have to remember to log in and out every time you enter and leave the car.  Because it counts how many times it has to correct you.  If you get into the "yellow zone" or "red zone", depending on how many times, you can get your driving privileges taken away.  But I have only forgotten to log in once.  And it has only told me to slow down once.  So I am still what I call a "greenie driver".  :)  Then we had a video conference basically with Ardeth Kapp.  They pre-filmed a video with her for just the missionaries in our mission and she talked all about self worth and viewing ourselves as Heavenly Father does.  Again, for lack of time, I will tell you all about it next week.  But it was really, really good.  I cried so many times.  ;)

Experience #4
We got to go see J, W, and T this week.  We are just continuing their lessons.  We are supposed to finish up J's lessons this week so that she can be interviewed on Thursday and BAPTIZED on Friday!  We are so excited.  I feel like this one is one of the more special baptism's that Heavenly Father has given me the chance to be a part of.  Since her parents were already baptized, it is basically like completing a family puzzle.  Since she is being baptized not long after them, they are going to have the opportunity to be sealed together in the temple sometime next year.  And I am sooooo happy for them.  She seems excited.  A couple of things are starting to scare her.  Like the water.  But we keep reassuring her that everything is going to be more than great!  I just feel so blessed to have the opportunity to work with this wonderful family and bring them closer to each other and closer to the savior.  I love what I do.

Experience #5
This is little.  But, as Sister L and I were driving last night, I looked down and realized that my tag was gone.  I was pretty sure it was at home, but she asked, "What is the big deal?  It is just a nametag."  Without really thinking, I responded, "This is not just a name tag.  This thing is more important to me than my life right now."  I am pretty sure I didn't mean my literal life.  But my "temporal life" I guess you could call it.  While reflecting on the statement I made, I told her that I obviously consider my life to be a gift from God and that nothing is more important than that, the gospel, and my family.  But that this has become a part of me.  This name tag is something that defines who I am right now.  A representative of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I don't think that there is anything that I would rather be doing or anything that could be more important to me than what I am doing, right now in my life.  It also really comforted me to know that my Heavenly Father has an eternal plan for me.  It just so happens that mine included serving a mission.  Not everyone's does.  And that is just fine.  But I honestly know that I would not have been able to come to the point that I am at right now by myself.  And I especially would not have been able to grow this much spiritually if I had not come to participate in this magnificent work.  Just thought I would share that with all of you.  It really impressed me.

Experience #6
We were also able to go see Sister H again this week.  But before I get to that, let me tell you.  This has been a weird week.  We got a text in the middle of the week that told us that a member in the Huntersville Ward had a missionary living with her that had just come home on medical leave.  She said that this Sister was still set apart as a missionary, and would like to come out with us.  So we called the president to coordinate with him.  He said that she would not be living with us, but that she could come to do studies and some lessons with us occasionally.  So we technically have a third companion (sometimes) named Sister M.  She is so great!  I don't have a picture with her yet, but hopefully soon.  So we met up with Sister M before the appointment with Sister H.  We told her about her, and headed straight there.  We were able to talk about the Plan of Salvation with her.  And, like normal, she had a lot of questions.  But it was a really good lesson and she learned a lot.  She did say that her purpose in life right now is to confuse the missionaries.  And that night, she definitely succeeded.  She asked us what the "pride cycle" was.  Now, I have always known what it is.  But I have never really had to explain it to anyone else.  THANK GOODNESS FOR THE IPADS!  I was able to search for it and ask her for her wifi password so we could see what the picture was.  She complied and the picture of the cycle was basically explained as the people being righteous, then not so much, then repenting, then being righteous, then not so much, etc.  It was good because I was able to learn how to explain it and we cleared up any confusion.  Man!  This lady is inquistive!  I LOVE IT!

Experience #7
Now, this last experience is hopefully one that everyone had this weekend.  GENERAL CONFERENCE!  It was sooooooooo good.  I had SO many takeaways!  I am so excited to have Elder Rasband, Elder Stevenson, and Elder Renlund join the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  They will do a fantastic job.  I was so hopeful when President Monson got up to speak.  He looked so upright, and his voice so powerful.  But by the end of it, I wanted to cry because of the shakiness in his voice and the shrinking of his stature.  But he bore powerful witness and gave us life-changing advice and guidance that I truly hope we can all apply.  I have to say that of course, Elder Uchtdorf's was one of my favorite talks.  But it didn't make me cry like his last one did.  Now, Elder Holland's on the other hand.... Rivers running down my face.  His talk on Motherhood was a complete and total heart wrencher.  On one hand, all I could think about is my love for my mother and all that she has done for me.  How she continues to lift me up and support me.  How she always teaches me.  How she is a constant beacon in the darkness.  And especially how she was able to lead me and guide me, along with my father, back to the path I was supposed to be on when I was at a time in my life where I really didn't know what to do or how to go about doing it.  Then on the other hand, I was thinking of my own future children and how I will be able to learn from the example my mother gave me and be that strength for them, in their lives.  I also really liked the talk that followed his by Elder Foster.  It was so insightful about what I can apply and teach to my children to help them be raised in and live in righteousness.  Like I said, I have many takeaways from this conference.  Like, Elder Bednar's topic about the age of the General Authorities I found to be very interesting.  But I have to say, that along with the two talks mentioned earlier, one of my favorites was probably Elder Nelson's about the influence and power of women.  I truly think that was remarkable.  Women in the church need to start realizing our worth and value in the eyes of our Father in Heaven.  And in some cases, even men do.  We are all brothers and sisters.  There is none better than the rest of us, save it be Jesus Christ.  I will definitely let you know some of my favorite quotes from this conference in my picture email and will expound on my favorite moments in next week's email.  :)

But besides that, yes.  We have had a ton and a ton, and a ton of rain.  In fact, today is the first day in about 10 days that we have had sun.  But no, we haven't floated away just yet.  Getting there, but hopefully we will have a nice break before even more rain comes in fall and winter.  Because, it rains more here than it does snow.  Oh well, gives me something white and fluffy to look forward to next winter.  Besides Max!  ;)

We did go to the ward building for conference.  It ended up being just the missionaries and occasionally one or two member families would come.  It was kind of depressing that we didn't have any investigators, recent converts, or less-actives come.  But I guess that is the appealing thing about watching it in your home.  I understand.  :/
I really thought they were going to call a foreigner too.  But you're right.  Maybe it just isn't the Lord's will for this point in time.
I had completely forgotten that Elder Durrant was on the BYU team back then.  That is so funny.  I am never going to be able to watch or read that talk without thinking about that now.  haha :)  I really did like his idea of "ponderizing" the scriptures though.  I think I am going to have to try it as well.

I really do love what you said about how we are going to have to stand beside the priesthood in preparation for the second coming.  It is so true.  Women do not hold it, but we sure as ever have the authority to act under it when called upon.  And our generation really is a force not to be reckoned with.  We each have our talents.  Just sometimes Sisters can accomplish what Elders can't.  And Elders can sometimes accomplish what Sisters can't.  That is why we work TOGETHER!

I can't believe I hit my one-year mark this week.  That is insane to me!  I can't even believe it!  I have made a promise to you, the lord, and the mission president that this is going to be the six months that I work the hardest on my mission, though.  So expect to see some good things to come.  :)

Sounds like everyone is doing great!  I am so proud of each of my sisters for what they are accomplishing!  They are so strong and determined!  I love it!  :)
Sounds like the extended family is doing well, also.  I love seeing their fun pictures!  Excited that I will be able to see everyone and their growth when I get home, but not quite ready to be done either.  I have come to the realization that I am going to keep working 24/7, my absolute hardest, until the moment President Marshall looks at me and says, "You have returned with honor and you can take the tag off knowing that your Heavenly Father is proud of you."  :)

We are working on getting ahold of a bunch of our potential investigators.  The problem is, we find them, then they are really hard to get in contact with.  ;)  But we keep working on it!

I am excited to receive your package this week!  The postcard from Yosemite, was it the one that you sent from the Borax museum?  If not, then I don't think I ever got it.  :(  I will look forward to your package this week then.  Let me know when you send it so that I can watch for it.  :)

I can't believe Jason is coming home that soon.  That FLEW by!  And it's true.  Time does fly when you are having fun.  It's like I blinked and September was gone.  :O  Soon enough, it will be you guys preparing the welcome home posters.  But not quite yet.  We still have months of hard work, a Christmas Skype Call, and another General Conference to get through.  ;)

I say hello to everyone back and hope that they are doing well in return.  I am even more proud of you guys and all that you are accomplishing.

I love you guys an incomprehensible amount.  Ponderize that one!  ;)

Ash :) <3