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Monday, April 18, 2016

Jan 11 at 1:58 PM

Hey Family and Friends!  Hope everyone's week was simply fantastic!  Mine was.... slow.  It was bike week and a lot of the plans that we made just didn't end up happening.

We realized that we weren't focusing on nightly planning as much as we should have been.  We were also really stressed because they changed the referral system.  So now all of the referrals for the entire Mountain Island Ward, (which means all six missionaries), come to us and we are in charge of getting them to other missionaries in a decent amount of time so that the people who order things are still interested in getting the things they ordered by the time we contact them.  It's like a game almost.  But not...?  We got about 45 referrals in the last two weeks and they are proving to be very difficult to contact.   Then another thing that got in the way a lot was that we decided that we need to be doing better exercises in the mornings.  So I got up last Wednesday and did a super hard core leg workout that left me in serious pain for the next three days.  Still not quite over it. Sister P and I keep laughing because every time I sit down or get up, I sound like a really old lady.  haha  But here are at least some of the things that happened this week:

Experience #1

So this week it was unimaginably cold.  For somewhere with humidity, that is.  Of course I have endured negative temperatures before.  But I have never had to bike in them.  On Tuesday this week, we knew it was going to be about 30 degrees, with added humidity.  But we did have an appointment with a media referral from Church Headquarters who ordered a Bible.  When those come around, we don't mess around.  President Alexander always tells us, "Elders and Sisters -- When we get media referrals, that means that our brothers and sisters are exercising at least a particle of their faith by ordering something from the Church Websites."  So we were going to do anything we can to get there.  Well, we have an app on our iPads that we can use without wifi to get maps as to where we need to go, how to get there, and how long it will take us.  But it sometimes lies.  It told us that it was going to be about 3 miles to get there.  Easy enough bike ride for us because we bike all the time.  As we started out, we noticed that the route was going to be a little bit different.  We kept going and going and going.  Then we came to a huge hill and Sister P asked me to pull out the app and see how much longer we had.  It said that we were about 2.6 miles away.  Well, about 45 minutes later, we finally got there.  Luckily, she kept her appointment and was home.  We gave her the Bible that she ordered and we were able to introduce the Book of Mormon and the Restoration.  She is older and has a lot of doctor's  appointments, so she asked if we could call her and come in about a week or so.  It was really good.  So we got back on our bikes and we tried a couple of other people while we were in the area.  But no one could meet at that time.  So we decided to make the "few miles" journey back home for lunch.  (Considering it was almost 2:00 at this point).  When we made it finally made it home, we ate and headed up to the clubhouse to contact some more referrals.  I got on google maps just out of curiosity to see how long we actually went because we were sore, tired, and had windburn all over our faces and necks.  It turns out that our piece of junk app told us 3.6 miles one way, when it was actually 7.1.  So we unintentionally biked over 14 miles.  Well, that was fun.  But hey, I am getting more in shape and we got to teach a solid lesson.  So no real complaints.  Just fatigue.  ;)

Experience #2

On Thursday, we were about half way through with weekly planning and Sister P wanted to make
cookies.  Right when she was done and sat back down so we could finish, we got a knock on the door.  We were confused because the Elders hadn't told us that they were going to come over to get anything or to drop anything off.  I was on the phone with an investigator, so I wasn't really paying attention.  Sister P answered the door and I saw the shadow of someone with curly hair.  I was really confused at that point, and still on the phone. Once I hung up with who I was talking to, I walked over to see who it was because I figured either: -Elder D was wearing a wig or –It was the post lady coming to drop off a package.  I walked up to the door because Sister P was in complete shock.  I saw that one of her previous companions, Sister K had come to visit unexpectedly.  She was just talking to us for a minute and asked if we had already eaten lunch.  We hadn't, so she told us to get our stuff and she would take us somewhere.  Then the adventure happened.  We got our bags, got our shoes on and walked out to her car.  She pulled on the handle to get in, but it was locked.  She was driving her brother's car that only had one key.  She looked, and looked, and looked through her bag to find that one key.  Then she said, "How funny would it be if I locked it in the car.  I do that all the time."  Then Sister P looked in the window and saw the key sitting on the floor of the driver's seat.  We all just kind of laughed and then we called the elders to see if either of them knew how to break into a car.  They both did, but said that they would need a wire hanger.  So they brought one down and worked on getting into the car for about 10 minutes before we got inpatient and called the volunteer fire department down the street.  Three men pulled up in a fire truck and came with their supplies to get the door unlocked.  Sister K was so embarrassed.  We thought it was hilarious.  When they got the door undone, we were still laughing.  We said thank you to the kind volunteers (who we brought cookies to later) and they left.  Sister K looked at us and said, "Stop giggling and get in the car."  So what was supposed to be a quick visit and a lunch break turned into a good old adventure with someone we both now know and love.  We just visited with her and connected about past missionaries, current missionaries, school, family, etc.  It was really fun.  Then we came home and figured we better get to work for the rest of the day and then finish weekly planning the next day.  I just love and live for spontaneity.  It makes me happy.  And Sister P was really happy to see her.  So that is good.  :)

Experience #3

We got home from biking to a couple of potential appointments this week and we were DRENCHED because it had been raining for about 2 hours.  We had scheduled to go to a recent convert's house with the relief society president, but he cancelled on us last minute.  So we decided that we would take her with us to see a couple of the referrals that we have gotten.  We dried off, changed our clothes, and walked out to meet her.  We told her that plans had changed and she said that she would love to take us to see some referrals.  So we drive to see the first one who had ordered a Book of Mormon (few and far in between), and she said, "I am just going to wait in the car so that we don't overwhelm her at the door."  We both just kind of looked at each other and said okay.  But then we got out of the car and we said, "That isn't the point in having you come out with us.  Don't get me wrong, we were grateful for the ride, but we wanted her to come and teach with us."  Maybe that's how they did it in her mission, I don't know.  But the first referral wasn't home so we gave it to the man who answered the door.  We assume that he was her husband.  But who knows. Then we went to another referrals house who had ordered a Bible.  She let us right in and told us how she came in contact with the website, why she ordered it etc.  She let us know about her religious background, her faith in Christ, etc.  She has been through a pretty rough time in her life and we tied it back to prayer.  Prayer is one of the things she used most to get her out of those situations.  I was able to share my favorite scripture, Alma 37:36-37 with her and she was interested in the Book of Mormon.  We explained what it was and how we got it and that the Book of Mormon ties back to the message that we share with people, the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus
Christ.  She was interested in hearing more.  We aren't sure how interested, but interested nonetheless.  So we have an appointment to go back and see her on Thursday while Sister P and Sister L are here on exchanges.  I will be in Mooresville with Sister W again, so I will let you know how that goes next week.  :)  So just pray, if you can, for a woman named F - that her interest in the gospel will grow and that she will be open to hearing the truths that we share.

Experience #4

We were waiting for a phone call from Sister Al last night while we were in the car because she wanted to ask me if I would sing for a musical number on Thursday.  But it hadn't come time for that call yet.  So we decided to call a referral from the Matthews Sisters, C.  This poor woman.  She has lost many, many people in her life since July and is having a very difficult time coping with it.  One of her loved ones that she has lost is her husband.  So she is now in a very tough situation having to take on his business, pay the bills, raise their daughter, etc.  We were both on the verge of tears as she was talking to us because of how much she is struggling.  I was able to assure her that her Heavenly Father knew of her and her struggles.  He knows what she needs at this time to be able to function and get through this next year.  He knows how she feels and he has his arms outstretched to help her.  She thanked us so much for our generosity and our willingness to serve and help her.  She said that she has an LDS friend from Utah that has encouraged her to get out and serve others to take her mind off of it, but she can't see herself helping anyone else right now until she can get herself in the right place.  I empathize with this woman because of her kindness and her desire to just make everything right.  We told her that sometimes, it's okay to be sad.  It is okay to feel that loss.  And it is okay to only take care of yourself for a little while.  We offered to have her get a blessing from the Elders to see if that will help and we are hoping that we can continue to meet with her as the other sisters had been so that we can help her through this.  I testified of eternal families and told her that she would definitely be with her loved ones again.  I was sure of it.  There is nothing that can stand in the way of that love and those relationships if we will but turn to our Father in Heaven and accomplish the things that are according to His will, He can indeed bless us with all that He has.  Will you guys send special prayers to Heaven for this woman?  She really needs them.  She really needs divine help at this point and we are hoping that we can be Heavenly Father's hands in that way.

Thanks for the news on the Royal Baby coming soon – and I will actually be home this time.

Let me know how everything goes.  And I will talk to you super soon!

Love you to England and back!

Ash :)

Dec 28 at 3:40 PM
Hey everybody.  This email is going to be a little shorter this week because we just talked on Friday.  But here is what has happened in the last week:

Experience #1
We had the best Christmas Conference in the history of mankind this week!  It was sooooo much fun.  We had to get there at 8:00 am because I was one of the four people in my zone in a musical number.  We practiced for the musical number, then went to sit down and spiritually prepare.  When the meeting started, we heard a few words from President Alexander and Sister Alexander.  Then, we heard Gastonia's musical number (What Child is This?) which is the one I was in, and the whole zone bore one-minute testimonies.  Then we heard Charlotte South's musical number and testimonies, then Charlotte Central's musical number and testimonies.  Then we had an amazing ham dinner for lunch made by all of the senior missionaries, and we had a talent show by the missionaries.  We had a tight-rope walker, a rapper, a missionary making motorcycle noises, and our group.  Our group did the Hakka.  And we OWNED it!  It was so good that, when we got back from lunch, President Alexander said that he thinks every companionship should have to do that in the mornings when we leave our apartment.  Then, the mission got a visit from President "Santa." (Pictures to come).  Then, after we ate, we played "Zion Zone Bananza."  It's that game where the officiator asks for a certain thing or asks a certain question and the first person to run up and answers it wins.  Then we came back from lunch and the senior couples acted out the nativity.  It was soooo good.  And we sang many songs along with it.  Then we heard from President Alexander, got our Christmas present from them (a new customized temple  recommend holder), and headed home.  It was the best thing of my life.  So much fun, yet so spiritual.

Experience #2
We were able to go see Sister H this week.  She hasn't been letting us over for a couple of months now, and hasn't been coming to church.  We were really concerned about her and we decided to come to the Youth Caroling Night and go with the group that was going to visit her.  She said that we could come back on Christmas, so we did.  We brought her a loaf of bread that a member made us because we forgot to make her cookies (whoops).  She started talking to us about how she had been and how her family wins, etc.  She was really closed off, so I started praying in my head that Heavenly Father would give us the words to say to get her back.  I kept saying, "I don't want to lose her, and I know you don't.  So please help us."  We kept talking and she expressed a concern that she has with one of the church's policies.  We kept focusing on faith and how much we just need to put it in the Lord's hands when we don't understand things.  But it still wasn't getting though.  After a while, she just kind of broke down and said that she is sick of the trials that Heavenly Father is putting her through.  We told her that Heavenly Father only gives us what He knows we can handle.  We told her that maybe some of the trials she is going through are from the adversary because she felt something so special when she came back to church.  She just paused for a moment and said, "Out of the mouths of babes."  Then she said that she would try harder to make it to church, even though she knows she doesn't agree with everything right now.  It was a MIRACLE!!!!  I could really see how Heavenly Father was assisting us in that lesson.  I could feel just a glimpse of the love that our Heavenly Father has for her and it is abounding!  She just needs to act on the love that she had for the gospel.  She also said that we could keep coming over.  So please please please pray that we will be able to help her understand the concern that she has and do what she needs to work toward the temple.

Experience #3
Obviously, one of the highlights of the week was the skype call.  It was FANTASTIC!  So many gems!  And it was so good to see all of you! You look so good!  ;)  But y'all were there.  So it would be pointless
to tell you about it.  Haha

Other than that, nothing happened much.  I was sick a majority of the week.  So that was a bummer.  We didn't get many lessons, but we did finding A LOT!!!  And it rained A LOT!!!  But it's okay because we have the car this week and my cold is on the downhill. So... Yay!

Thank you for saying I look great.  Even though my poor, sickly self was miserable.  But it is getting better.  Yeah.  My companion is doing okay.  She is just really trunky most of the time, when I am trying not to be.  But she has been keeping it on the down low because I've been sick.  So we'll see what happens!  But I just want to focus. Yay for focusing!

I will send you the other video of us doing the Hakka. Today for P-Day, I went shopping for a really hot dress and to the church to watch the elders play chess.  It was really fun!

Yay for packages!  I will look forward to getting the license and a few other things!

Tell dad that I know how he feels!  I am so glad that the dog is getting a haircut, too.  He looked VERY fluffy!  You'll have to send me pictures of Bethany's new haircut!  Sorry mine looked like a mop.  It was good, but then humidity hit and that happened.

I can't believe Annie contracted Mono.  How did that happen?  What in the world?  I am proud of her for staying out there though.  That takes a lot.  Yay Annie!  And I am so glad to hear that Lauren is
doing well also.  Wow.  It is REALLY cold!  I kind of miss that!  We have heat and humidity!

I hope Kylie gets a boy.  That would be fun.  I just laugh at the fact that I knew before you did!  Isn't that what happened with Roxie and Zoie too?  L.O.L.

I hope they send me somewhere that will work my butt off for the last two transfers of my mission as well.  Will you pray for that?

Well, I think that's all for today.  I will obviously write a longer email next week.  But, until then, I will see y'all soon!  Don't freeze your behind off in Utah!

I love y'all to Utah and back.  Haven't used that one in a while.  Love you sooooo much!

Ash :)

Dec 11 2015

Hey you guys!  I have had a pretty good week.  We spent the week trying to teach everyone.  There were some really good lessons, but none stood out enough to include in here this week. Want to hear what
happened that I did want to mention?  Take a look:

Experience #1
We went to Sister M's this week to read the Book of Mormon with her and our plans got a little switched up.  When we got there, after biking for four hours, she was really really sick.  She had been in the hospital for a couple of days with high blood pressure and got something else.  So she was super horse and was on six kinds of medicine.  We asked what we could do to make her feel better and she said we couldn't do anything.  Sister P asked if we could put up her tree for her, and after some convincing, she said yes.  So we went out to her "building" or shed, and got the EIGHT plastic tubs of Christmas decorations she wanted!  We started putting her tree up, branch by branch.  Once it was up, it was about the size of Sister P,  we asked what was next.  She then had us put blue lights, green lights, multicolor lights, etc on the tree while she was putting up a dancing Santa that sang jingle bell rock, (like Maria's Santa). After a few minutes, we had thirteen strands of lights on the tree according to her specifications.  She asked us to keep going and start putting bulbs on the tree.  Again, after a few minutes, we had near 200 ornaments on the tree.  That thing is a literal fire waiting to happen.  I'll send pictures.  But the most rewarding part of it is when she said, "Girls, I don't know what I would have done without you.  I think this tree will really lift my Christmas spirits and it means so much to me.  Thank you.  I love you."  It just made everything worth it.  It was so special!

Experience #2
This week, we were also able to go to the relief society dinner.  It was so inspired.  We decided to go even though we didn't have an investigator going, so that we could gain member trust.  We called a
member and asked if we could get a ride so we wouldn't have to bike 16 miles.  She said she would be glad to.  Later that night, when she came to get us, they pulled up in a car that we didn't recognize.  Turns out, she had invited her non-member friend to go with her.  So it was perfect!  When the member told her that they were going to pick the sisters up, she said, "I didn't know the Mormon church had Irish nuns!"  She grew up Catholic.  So the member explained that we were just like the elders.  She responded, "The elders in my church are old and have white hair."  So she finally said, "THE MISSIONARIES!!!!  WE ARE GOING TO PICK UP THE MISSIONARIES!!!"  It was an amazing experience though.  The thing that stood out to me most is a song that some women in the ward sang a song called, "Do you have room?"  It brought me to tears.  Apparently, the original version is on YouTube.  So you can search it if you want... But I don't know what it will bring up.  But I am going to get a copy of the lyrics and sheet music.  So you could probably just wait for that.  But it was something that I will never forget.  Then, they gave out these cute little key ornaments with a tag that said, "Let Him In."  So special!

Experience #3
We are trying to think of unconventional ways of doing missionary work that will catch people's attention.  So we decided to set up a booth in Uptown Charlotte to advertise and show "A Savior is Born."  It was such a success.  Apart from the elders showing up a half an hour late, of course.  We had tons of success for the first little while and even got to meet some members from the Charlotte area and some from Nevada that were out here for the Panthers game.  We were able to give out tons of cards, show the video lots of times, and... Wait for it mom... CONTACT WELL OVER 100 PEOPLE!  It was so fun and so effective!  We are hoping to do it again at least one more time before Christmas.  We didn't get to hand out many of the magnets, but we are going to next time.  :)  The funniest part though, is the war tactic that we took.  About 45 minutes before we left, some baptists showed up and tried to teach us and tell us that we need to find "the real truth."  So we just threw it back at them and told them that we invite them to watch it and find out who Jesus Christ was and what he has done for us for themselves.  They just got irritated with some of us.  Speaking of which, I was people watching during the booth and I noticed that people would more generally avoid Me, Sister P, Elder D and Elder B.  They would go after Elder G and Elder S because they are newer and can't defend themselves as much.  But anyway, it started with one girl, then a guy, then two other girls. So the elders split off and talked to them and basically ignored everything they had to say just so that Sister P and I could talk to everyone else without competition.  It was great!  They got so mad and eventually just left!  #mormonsforthewin

Dec 8 2015

Hey you guys!  This week was possibly one of the best weeks I've had on my mission.  Don't get me wrong, there were some down moments.  But who can focus on those too much when there has been so much good? Want to hear some?  Feast your eyes upon the goodness......

Experience #1
So on Monday, we were privileged enough to get permission to go to uptown.  We went everywhere from the NASCAR Hall of Fame to the Bank of America Building to the Hornet's Stadium.  It was sooooo fun!  We took lots of pictures that I will be sending home.  It was just so great because I got to be back in the city for a little while.  I mean, I serve in the city, but not in the city scape city.  It was so great!  I attribute being able to get anywhere to the fact that we have traveled so much and y'all taught me how to do it.  But I just had to share that!  Because it was definitely a highlight.

Experience #2
When we were at a member's house for dinner this week, we had this delicious rice and teriyaki.  After we ate, she offered us ice cream so she could get it out of her house.  She offered us chocolate syrup and we said that we would love some.  When we put it on, I asked if she wanted me to put it back in the fridge.  She said, "It doesn't go in the fridge.  Does it?"  Then she looked and it said, "refrigerate after opening".  She looked at us and said, "Oops.  Sorry if you get botulism."  We laughed so hard we could not contain ourselves. She and her husband are really sarcastic, so everything they say makes us laugh uncontrollably. They are so great.

Experience #3
I just wanted to talk about the new video, "A Savior is Born".  At first, we were worried that people wouldn't respond to it the way that we had hoped they would. But after starting to show it to people, we
realized very quickly that it softens their hearts and enables us to talk to them about the Savior's fact, we showed it to someone yesterday and we were able to talk about how families are able to be together forever and how the Saviors atonement can cleanse us. We were able to invite him to baptism and invite him to make the changes in his life that will bring him closer to the Savior. My personal thoughts on the video, are that it is amazing that children of their age can comprehend what the Savior can do for us in our lives. The power that the video has to bring in the spirit, is something that I can't even describe in words. I am so grateful for the inspiration that the church leaders use when they create these videos. They truly touch people's hearts and changed their lives for the better.

Experience #4
This week, we were also able to have zone meeting. They talked about how we need to use our technology to better the lives of others, how we can implement the new video initiative, and how we can invite people to church in order to change their lives because of the power of the sacrament. The spirit that is felt in these meetings, is something that I honestly could not do without. I always learn so much that I will be able to implement for the rest of my life. They allow us to practice and become better. I think my favorite part, was when we got together as a zone and counseled about how we can be fishers of men. The insights that the rest of the zone had were very deep and really influential on how I want the rest of my missionary work to be. I can't even express how much I love what I'm doing at this time in my

Experience #5
This week, we were able to go on exchanges with the sister training leaders. I was blessed to have the opportunity to go to Mooresville with Sister L. We were able to teach their progressing investigator, S. She is so solid. She was one of the examples of heavenly father truly preparing people for us to teach. We tried a couple of other people that night, but they weren't home. The next morning, we got on a conference call with the mission leadership and heard some very inspiring words from President Alexander about how we can increase the vision of our mission and accomplish the goals that we have set. The rest of the morning, was spent counseling with Sister L about how I can become a better missionary. She invited me to do some very special things. She invited me to read my patriarchal blessing every day and to take the spiritual gifts and blessings that I have been given and study them out. She asked me to also study the enabling power of the atonement. Because a lot of people think the atonement is only there to save us from things that we have done, we often forget that it's also there to help us do the things that we never thought we could. So those are challenges that I have taken from her, and if you would like to, the people at home reading this can take the same challenges because I know that they will change your life. Also, we decided that we may be rooming together at BYU Idaho next fall. We would have so much fun and neither of us have really thought about who we want to room with yet. So it would be a perfect match and we are both really excited.

Experience #6
This week, the stake put on a nativity festival in our building. It was amazing for us to see how many nonmembers and how many members would come together to celebrate the birth of our Savior. There were well over 800 nativities and you could just feel the spirit so strongly in that room is soon as you entered. It looked amazing. There was a live Nativity room in the primary room, the Nativities in the gym, live music in the chapel, and a craft room for the children in the Relief Society room. I will send pictures home see you can share in some of the magic. I think the best part, was that all of the full-time missionaries gathered together and took a Nativity picture as a group. But it was amazing to see the response in the community from people who are not members of the church. The respect they gained for the members was amazing and we were able to friendship them in ways that we wouldn't have been able to otherwise.

Experience #7
How great was the Christmas devotional last night? I think my favorite part had to be when President Uchtdorf spoke about the light of Christ and how he is the literal gift giver all year round. Of course, as you have heard in the past, he is my favorite speaker. But I just felt really influenced by what he said last night. In my studies this morning, I noticed everything that he said stood out in passages I was reading in and things I was learning. Of course, I also really enjoyed when the Mormon Tabernacle choir sung Carol of the bells. Not only is it my favorite Christmas song, but they sing it with such power that I can literally feel the heavenly Angels guiding them. That was definitely a conference that I will not forget and it was even more amazing because of the place that I am at right now. Some of you should write back and tell me what some of your favorite parts of the Christmas devotional were. I would love to hear them.

Man, I wish I had been below 35° here and snowing. It has been below 35 in the morning, but it's full of frost and icy cold. But I agree, if it is going to be cold it might as well snow.

So I am still in Mountain Island, and I will be for the next six weeks. Just because I know it will come up later, the next transfer meeting is on January 19. So you can feel more than free to send my Christmas package to Mountain Island at the same address that you have been. My week has been a little better. We were able to teach more and get lots of new investigators because of the video. So we are looking forward to see what is going to happen in the near future. I love your suggestions about how we can contact people and we are trying to brainstorm how we can best do that. Thank you so much for your love and your caring about how we can progress to work in this area. I have heard of the 12 days of social media, but unfortunately we cannot get them to load on our iPads, and we can't seem to find the computer that has some speakers so that we can watch them. What are they about? Do you know? But the other two videos, the main videos, we have been utilizing to the best of our ability. People are becoming really receptive to it and we are very pleased with that.

I am glad to hear everyone is doing well. I am almost positive that we will be able to Skype on Christmas. We are thinking that it will be sometime after dinner our time, but we will probably know for sure
next week. I haven't heard any direction on the links or anything like that from President yet, but I will let you know as soon as I can. Unless of course you want to set it up before then, then let me know
and I will trying get back to you before the day is over.

I am glad that dad is enjoying his new job. And yes, you are a little crazy for taking Emily and Caitlyn to Temple Square this week with their friends. But it will be fun. I kind of wish that I was home to help with Christmas shopping because that is some of my favorite parts of the holiday season. And I know that that was not grammatically correct, you'll have to excuse my southern tendencies. ;)

Thank you for sharing the experience from the family history center. I really enjoyed reading it and feeling the spirit that truly comes from this holiday season. The savior is  constantly aware of us as well as the people on the other side of the veil. He loves all of us and wants us to return home to him. I am so blessed to be able to spend eternity with the people that I love more than anything in the world. And I
hope you all know that.

Thank you so much for the encouraging words. I just want to be able to do the best that I can in order to help the people in this area and the people on my mission. Tell Lauren that I love her and I'm so proud of the sacrifice that she has made. Tell her that she is welcome to write me whenever she wants, and that I would love to hear from her.  She is so strong and I look up to her as well as every other missionary out here at this time, as well as past and future.

I love you so much and I will talk to you really soon.

I love you to the north pole, around the toy factory, into Santas
bakery, through the jolly post office, and back.

Ash :)

Nov 16 2015

Hi Everybody!  How are you doing?  For those of you who haven't heard yet, I had a pretty interesting week.  Here's why:

Experience #1
I went to go to my follow-up appointment for my foot surgery on my toes a couple of weeks ago, and I got a little thrown off.  They said the two that they had worked on looked perfect and that I took excellent care of them.  BUT... He looked at me and said, "Now, there is a third ingrown toenail that I hadn't seen before.  We can take care of that today, or you can let it get worse and come in and fix it later."  I was like, "You have got to be kidding me."  So, since I can't call my parents, I called the mission nurse and told her that she should call and let my parents know that I was probably going to be doing a third operation and that they should expect another co-pay. It was ridiculous.  And Dr. Shapiro was busy that day, so he had Dr. Zapazoti do it for him.  She was really nice and does a good job, but she was less careful in certain areas than Dr. Shapiro was.  For instance, when numbing my toe, she struck a nerve and I wanted to kick her.  It hurt so bad!  But I got over it.  Then, she went to test my toe to see how numb it was and I could still feel everything.  So she had to give me even MORE numbing agent.  It was ridiculous.  She finished the operation and we check out and as I was walking on my foot, I realized that the top half of my foot was completely numb.  Oh well.  If it was numb, I couldn't feel pain, right?  So I went about my business for the rest of the night and it didn't actually hurt too bad in the morning.  It was a little sore, but you know.  Whatever.  I did find out though, later in the week, what happens on a long-term basis.  I found out from a member that has had the same surgery done that when they put the chemical in to prevent it from growing back, it also kind of prevents your toenail from growing back on the sides.  So I have a smaller big toe nail on both feet now, permanently!  But it's good!  They hurt a lot less, so that what matters.

Experience #2
We were out tracting one night this week and while we were walking to a potential appointment, Sister P had the thought to turn down one of the side roads instead.  There was a woman out on her porch who we began to talk to.  We talked about the regular family situations, religion, faith in Christ, etc.  Then randomly, she said, "Do you want to come in and smell these soy candles that I make?"  We said we would love to because obviously it would get us into her house.  She is actually really good at making them.  She had all kinds of scents like pumpkin (which she gave to us for free), Christmas tree, pecan pie, one after an alcoholic drink, and many others I can't think of.  But I looked at her after smelling all of them and said, "Well, since we are in your house already, can we share our message with you?"  She said yes and we were able to share a really great Restoration message with her.  The worst part though, is we got to the Joseph Smith Story and someone pulled up into her driveway and she said that it was someone coming to get her and that she had to leave.  Sister P and I just looked at each other and thought, "Satan."  But we figured there was nothing we could do about it.  So we got a return appointment to finish the lesson and let her go.  We have really high hopes for her though.  So that is exciting.  Even though she got home from a Christmas show last night and said she was too tired and cancelled our appointment.  But she does want us to check back with her after the twenty-second when she will be done with shows for a while.  So pray that a woman named M will be able to meet with us and accept the message.  I mean, she has already read the entire Book of Mormon.  So she may be prepared for the gospel right now.  Fingers crossed!

Experience #3
We were at a member's house for dinner this week and I was dying of laughter all night.  They are just so funny.  They made "taco soup" for dinner.  Unfortunately, because of the stewed tomatoes in it, I couldn't have any because it had dehydrated bell peppers.  But her husband kept calling it chili all night long when giving it to their kids.  At one point, she looked at him with a weird face and said, "It is not chili.  It is taco soup, obviously.  I put taco seasoning in instead of chili powder.  Duh."  He just looked at her with a facial expression like, "My bad!"  And he just said, "Ooooohhhhhh."  Then later in the dinner, she asked him what was different about the soup.  You would have thought she had asked about their anniversary and he forgot by his reaction.  He grabbed the pot and looked intently at it. He was so nervous that he was going to answer wrong.  He started naming all of the ingredients in it that he saw and he could never get it.  So she grunted and grabbed a spoonful of it and showed it to him over his plate.  She pointed to something and said, "What is that?"  He was like, "quinoa."  And she gave him a look and nodded as of she were saying, "Duh!  I am so creative and I have been waiting for you to notice that all night long!"  He was like, "Oh.  Nice honey!"  I was dying.  Just shows us how much some males pay attention, I suppose!  ;)

Experience #4
So... also.  This week we decided that one of my first zone leaders, Elder B has just been an assistant for wayyyy too long.  So we were joking with the Elders that on every facebook post, we just need to hashtag, #prayforb on everything.  Because he is just TIRED!  I mean, we are all tired, but he is an eternal level of tired.  But then, randomly, we got a call from Elder C on Friday.  He said that Elder B would be coming to Mountain Island for 4 days on exchange.  We were so confused because this NEVER happens.  But we figured, since he has been an assistant since February, he just needed a little 4-day break.  So we went about our business.  When we got to Ward Council on Sunday, everyone freaked out because Elder B's second area was Mountain Island.  He was here for 8 months and everyone is crazy about him.  So they started asking all these questions.  We found out the same time as everyone else that they were doing an mid-transfer transfer.  So now, Elder C is going to be our Zone Leader with Elder P, Elder P is going to be an Assistant with Elder K and Elder H, and Elder B are going to be our District Leader here in Mountain Island.  He is really excited because this is the first time that he has ever been a District Leader.  He shot straight from "normal missionary" to Zone Leader.  So this is definitely a new adventure.  But we are definitely not going to be fed as much because Elder B is back for a transfer until he goes home.  ;)  It's okay.  The members still love us.  ;)

Experience #5
We went over to a member's house this week to check on her and to share a message with her.  She told us this hilarious story.  So I thought I would tell you.  She and her husband were out with another couple in the ward and her son walked up to the other couple and said, "I don't like it when women marry women.  You know, like the sister missionaries."  The other woman in the ward looked at her and said, "Ummmm... You should probably clear that up."  She just started laughing and laughing.  Because we are the only ones that ever go to their house.  The elders have never been over, so her son doesn't know any better.  She responded, "Yes.  I will fix it.  But that is HILARIOUS!!!"  We just laughed and laughed and laughed.  Poor thing didn't know any better, but from a four-year-old perspective, I was dying of laughter.

Experience #6

This week has been interesting in the way of the law.  This week, we were listening to one of the songs on the flash drive that you sent me last year.  Well there is a part in the very end that has some intense clapping in it.  We both just tensed up and got really quite as it played.  We didn't talk, we didn't look at each other, we just sat in awkward silence.  As we pulled up to our destination, the song got cut off because we turned off the car.  I just put my hand over my heart in relief and said, "Oh my gosh.  I thought someone was getting shot!"  Sister P looked at me and said, "ME TOO!"  We just laughed hysterically.  Then I said, "You know you have served in Charlotte when..."  I still cannot believe that both of us instantly went to that thought instead of any rational explanation.  Oh wait.  That is the rational explanation here.  Luckily, we live in the somewhat safe area of Charlotte.  ;)  Then a few days later, we went to a certain area and we were trying to find some potential investigators.  We knocked on this one lady's door and her son came to the door.  He started telling us that his mom wasn't home, but that he had some limitations as to what he could do because he had just gotten put on house arrest the day before and had to wear an ankle bracelet.  We still taught him though.  Because all of God's children need the truth.  Then that same day, we were in a different area and I heard the phone going off in my bag.  So I pulled it out and looked at it, realizing that I had accidentally hit too many buttons and it had called 911.  So we got a call from emergency services asking if we needed assistance.  We told her no, that it was an accident.  She sounded a little irritated, but just got off the phone.  Then a few days later, we were driving to Huntersville, and this cop was in a left turn lane.  Then all of the sudden, he just stuck the nose of his car in our lane.  We were going fast enough that we were about to hit him.  So I gasped and Sister P moved quickly into the other lane and slammed on her brakes.  Then the stupid Tiwi marked her for Aggressive Driving.  It was so ridiculous.  Yeah.  Run-ins with the law.  What the Sister Missionaries are known for.  ;)  Hence the title of the email.

I am so jealous that you are getting snow!  Honestly, I have been in a very Christmas-y mood.  But there is no snow today.  It is getting colder, but it is still sunny almost every day.  I am so jealous!  I want it so bad this year.

My companion is great!  I just love her!  We get along so well and we are constantly laughing!  We work hard, it is just being a struggle right now to get appointments because we don't really have anyone solid to work with.  But we keep going along.  We know that they are here, we just have to find them.  My district went to the zone activity today.  But it ended up being pretty lame.  Don't get me wrong, we had fun.  But it could have been a lot more fun.  We played sand volleyball and the elders played football.  I got sand all over my toe though.  Luckily, not in the incision, but all around it.  Tender Mercies.

Like I said, the work is slow.  But it keeps going.  We are finding a lot of people, just not many that are willing to keep commitments.  We are kind of excited for Thanksgiving to pass because the people of North Carolina are so much more willing to talk to us because of the Savior on their mind.  But I have never been in Charlotte for Christmas and there is a lot of people that get transplanted here.  So maybe they will be receptive, maybe they won't.  I don't know.  Hopefully.  And I am sure the magnets will help.  I am so glad that you got to go to that Fireside.  And I am so jealous that you got to go to the building that Elder Oaks was at too!  That is so crazy!  Interesting that he didn't speak as much as people thought about Christmas, but I love the message about the temple's significance with the Plan of Salvation.  I don't think I really connected that until my mission.  But I think that is vital to remember because of the symbolism and importance behind it.

It sounds like so much fun that Grandma and Grandpa Irwin got to go to Tahoe.  Bummer that it was in the middle of a huge storm, but it warms my heart to hear that she met someone that you and Donelle grew up with.  That is so exciting and such a small world.
I definitely think you should go to the Tijuana Temple Open House.  It looks so pretty.  I just got a glimpse of the photos on Facebook the other night.  Plus, you are going for a righteous purpose.  The Lord will protect you and make sure that nothing happens to you.  But if Bethany can't miss class, just see if y'all can go down and maybe she can drive/fly later.  But I definitely think that you should go for Thanksgiving and go to the temple.  If you want my input at all.  But there it is.  :)

Let me know what happens with Girl's Camp.  I would be curious to find out.  :)  Hopefully the stake gets their act together.  It's about time they do.  Geez.

The other toe went well.  It isn't hurting as much as the other ones did.  But it should heal just as well as all the rest did.  The head is good as well.  It isn't hurting as much anymore.

I am looking forward to being able to Skype you as well.  I can't believe that is only like, 40 days away.  Crazy!  It goes so fast.

Thank you for the picture of the royal family and keeping me updated on everyone.  I really appreciate it.  :)  I love you so much!

As for Christmas, I am really good with whatever y'all want to send.  The only problem I am facing is, I am going to be home like 3 months after Christmas.  So like you said, I need not to clutter my suitcases up too bad.  But I am running low on skirts and shirts a little.  I would more appreciate shirts.  Because, even if you buy them big, I can still wear them when I lose weight at home.  But if you buy big skirts, they won't fit once I lose weight.  There are some pictures I will send you with ideas of what I want for Christmas, but I am pretty open to whatever you and Grandma want to send.  :)

Yes -- I do want to build a snowman!  But I guess it'll have to wait till next year!  I love you to all the Disney's all over the world!  That's a lot!  ;)

Ash ;)

So this week's email is going to be a little different.  There wasn't much that happened at the beginning of the week.  So I found some little experiences that I could write about, then some big ones.  So here we go.........

Experience #1
So... I'm pretty sure I have never told you this.  But we call jay-walkers something specific here in Charlotte.  But I'll get to that in a minute.  The relief society president texted us and asked about a sister in the ward.  We hadn't been working with her, but we told her that we would go check on her because ... Member trust.  Plus, she was at church.  So anyway, we put her address into the GPS and realized that it was really far away.  And because of mileage restrictions, (or in other words, as Sister G used to put it, limitations on the Lord's work), there was no way we could make the trip.  So we texted one of the youth and asked if she would like to come with us.  She said she would, because she is planning on going on a mission herself.  So she picked us up, we went to a potential appointment that we had set up, and the lady wasn't there.  So we decided to go to this member's house.  We hadn't realized, however, that her address was where it was.  It should have occurred to us that it was off of Freedom Drive.  So that obviously meant we were headed to the ghetto.  YAY FOR THE GHETTO!  As we were going down there, there were some SUPER sketchy people out.  The girl that brought us out... Bless her heart... Kept looking around and saying, "Well this is a fun area."  I wanted to literally laugh out loud simply because of the awkwardness and sketchiness of the situation.  As we approached the street we needed to turn on, there were a bunch of thugs gathered on the street, and a BUNCH of jay-walkers.  All of the sudden, Sister P and I turn to each other and say, "CHARLOTTE SHUFFLERS!!!!" The girl looked super confused and we had to explain that one of the assistants to the president when we both came out had nicknamed it that because when they jay-walk, they shuffle their feet like they don't know where they are going.  Then we all watched one super closely and it's true.  They just stand there shuffling their feet like... "Do I go now?  How about now?"  It's hilarious!

Experience #2
We were walking home one night this week and Sister Pulley noticed a guy at the bus station near our apartment complex.  She wanted to go talk to him, so we headed that way.  Neither of us knew how to start the conversation because we said hello and he just looked at us weird and responded, "Hi."  Plus he had ear buds in, so that makes everything awkward anyway.  But we walked past him and we were just looking at each other with expressions of, "What do we do?" written all over our face.  Sister P stopped and asked him if we could ask him a question.  He looked puzzled, but said we could.  She asked if we could show him a short, two-minute video about Jesus Christ.  So we showed him "Because He Lives."  He said he really liked it, and if it had been a movies he probably would have gone to see it.  So we started talking about his family, his faith, etc. and then on a random note, he said that he would like to read the Bible more, but he always seems to lose his.  I happened to be holding a Bible and a Book of Mormon because president always asks us to.  It had occurred to me already that I was going to give him the Bible.  But I could just feel Sister P's gaze fixed on me.  I looked over and she was looking at me, then at the bible, then at me, then the bible.  She did that about three times and I really felt like yelling, "CALM DOWN!  I KNOW I AM GOING TO GIVE HIM THE BIBLE!  YOU ARE GIVING ME ANXIETY!!!!" haha  It was sooooo funny.  Yes, I ended up giving him the bible and we got a return appointment, that he wasn't home for.  Lol

Experience #3
So yesterday we went to go to the return appointment with the guy at the bus stop, but he wasn't home.  So we decided to walk down the street.  It really isn't a thing to go door to door anymore.  So we were looking for the houses with vans.  Because minivans mean families obviously.  But Sister P saw a house with like 30 gnomes outside, so we went to knock on that one.  Because we were like, "GNOMES!  WE MUST KNOCK THAT ONE!!!"  The woman answered the door and invited us right in.  We asked her how her faith in Jesus Christ started, and she responded, "You mean, how did I become a Mormon?"  The best part was, when she said that, Sister P immediately thought, "Oh my gosh. She is a hidden member."  (Members that aren't on the roll, but that we randomly run into).  I immediately thought, "Oh my gosh!  She is so golden.  She wants to be baptized!"  haha  But after we kept talking to her, we found out that she was baptized when she was 8 and she just hasn't been for a few years.  She said one of her family members are really sick and the elders had just met her last week as well and they were supposed to give her a blessing.  So we set up an appointment with her to come back, and the elders are going to come the same night to give her a blessing.  Talk about a miracle!!!

Experience #4
We had zone conference and zone meeting this week.  Zone conference was all about the sacrament

It was an amazing conference.  Zone meeting was about unity.  I did a training on the doctrine of Christ.  I can attach that in a different email.  But other than that, it was a week of finding, finding, and more finding!  So, you know how I told you I got hit in the head with a basketball last week? Yeah. I got a concussion. But no need to fear I got a blessing and everything should be fine. Unless another elder hit me in the head with a basketball like almost happened five minutes ago.  Because we have some not so bright elders in our district. ;)

So, was it direction from the mission office that you were supposed to have it there by the 1st December? Really, all I want for Christmas is cute clothes that would last me another three months, chocolate orange, and whatever else you feel so inclined to send me. If I have more time, I can email you a list of everything I would actually want next week when I can think more about it. I would love it if I could come directly to me though that would be more fun than having to wait for it. I think Sister P's family is going to send her stuff, but it would be fine if you sent her a few things in mine as well.   Transfers this next time are going to be on December 8.  President Alexander follows roughly the same schedule, but it's not exactly the same. So we still have a few weeks before the transfer, but it will come up quicker than we think.

I would also love more wooden plaque magnets because those were so creative and everyone loved them. Sister P and I decided that since we're in Charlotte, we could use 100 of them. There will be lots of people that we can give them to, as opposed to when I was in Pilot Mountain. ;)

I think sometimes I would take having nothing to do over how tired we both are. But I'm glad that you are keeping yourself busy, because that's important when my sisters are at school.  My toes are fine.  They hurt a little bit, but I'm going to ask him about that at the follow up appointment tomorrow. I think it's really funny that they called the house phone when I told them to call the cell phone first.  The work is fine we are just working on finding a bunch of investigators because we aren't really teaching anyone right now, but we're doing a few unconventional methods that should reward us in a long run.  Continue the prayers that we will find people because I know that God has been preparing them here. And I do think that methods like caroling in handing out the magnets will help us at this time of year especially. I did explain the goal of 10 to Sister P, it is something that we are working towards. We are just focusing on finding families in order to obtain that goal. I don't know if it will be done by the end of the year , but I'm having faith that it will, and if it's not then I will work on it toward the beginning of the year as well.

I really like Jason's perspective of the hands and how we are literally instruments in Heavenly Father's hands. It sounds like he learned a lot on his mission and had some really amazing experiences.  We are really working on finding service opportunities locally and while we are out proselyting as well. That way, we can get the name of the church out and help people and influence their lives. I like that goal as well. That could be something that I work on that I haven't paid much attention to throughout my mission.

Glad to see that everyone is still doing well and everyone looks super happy. I'm glad that you were still working in the temple and having life-changing experiences there as well. I am so glad to hear that the doctor’s appointment went well. I literally look forward to that news every year and I am so glad that it was positive this year as well.  You should go to LA for Thanksgiving.  It's OK that you don't go to Disney this time you can just go to downtown Disney because it will be … Free.   I'm super excited to hear that they're building Harry Potter World at California's location though.

Thank you for the loving encouraging words. I love you all so much and I hope that you have an amazing week.

I love you the amount of inches tall that the Charlotte Malls Santa displays this year. I win.  Because it's huge. And it's themed like Shrek.

Ash :)

Fall Festival 2015

Hey everybody.  I hope you had a fun and not-too-scary Halloween this weekend.  Wanna know some things I did?  Take a gander:

Experience #1
This week it has been raining A LOT!!!  We tried to go see an investigator that we met about a month ago who has been super flaky lately.  Surprise, surprise... He wasn't home.  So we went down the street to knock on his neighbor's door.  She answered the door, we introduced ourselves, and she let us in by the reasoning that "we looked cold."  We sat down and talked to her for a minute to get to know her and she asked what the major difference between our church and any other church is.  I told her that was a wonderful question and that we would love to answer that question for her by the message that we share.  She agreed, we started with a prayer, and taught a powerful restoration with a lot of side track questions that she had throughout. By the end of the appointment, we had a return appointment and we had brought up the topic of baptism for her to think about. She also said she would think about coming to church with us, when she had not been to church in many, many years.  It was amazing to see how the spirit had touched her heart in a way that we couldn't have done so by ourselves. We have a return appointment with her on Tuesday and she is really excited to hear more about the gospel. It just shows me that heavenly father truly does lead us to the people who are ready to hear the gospel.  Please pray that she will continue to want to learn more and be interested in what we have to say.

Experience #2
So we went on exchanges this week, and we would've had a lot of success, except for the fact that the sister training leader lost our phone. So we pretty much spent the entire exchange looking for our phone so that it wouldn't be lost the rest of the day. It was exhausting. We were able to teach a couple of people, but nothing too exciting.  It was a lot of setting up return appointments or getting doors slammed in our face. I pretty much felt reproved the entire time.  She just pushes too hard.  When people don't want to listen, they don't want to listen.  It is not worth pushing them so far as to the point they yell at you because you won't leave them alone.  That's basically what I learned on this exchange.  Not much, but hey.  You can't have a good exchange every time.

Experience #3
I finally have a funny moment for y'all.  So we had coordination meeting this week. Our ward mission leader said that he wasn't going to be able to make it so we decided to hold it on our own. After the meeting was done, Elder C took Elder D's rose gold watch. He tried it on and he wanted to keep it.  Elder D demanded that he give it back.  He was taking it off and he said, "Man it's tight." Elder R was confused and said, "Like, physically too tight?  Or like.... (While throwing a gang sign) it's tight, bro."  We laughed so hard we could barely breathe.  Silly little white boy.  We have pretty much decided they three quarters of our mission are "white girls." Most of us like leggings, Nutella, Apple products, music, Starbucks, etc.  It is super funny!

Experience #4
When we were helping out with the fall festival this week, we were in charge of greeting people.  Brother H, our new ward clerk pulled up with his family and I mistook him for the past Alexandriana ward's bishop.  So I went up to the car and said, "Hi Bishop M!"  He got this weird look on his face and his wife started hysterically laughing.  She said, "Haha He wishes he was bishop M!"  I was so embarrassed!  I am such a doof sometimes!  Haha

Experience #5
We had the mission home fireside last night.  Apart from the fact that no one that was supposed to show up with us, it was a beyond amazing message.  Here is what stood out to me most from President Alexander: The main purpose of the Book of Mormon is to convince everyone of Christ.  It is then to be a testament that the bible is true.We want to read a little more, but I want to give you a challenge.  Let's say that this is a college class and you are given an assignment.  You are to write a book about the ancient people of Tebet.  It is going to start 2,200 years before Christ and go until 400 years after his life. Why Tebet?  Well, you don't know about ancient Tebet any more than Joseph Smith knew about ancient America.  At the date of publication, you cannot be over 23.  You have to have spent most of your life in farming communities.  You cannot have had more than three years of official schooling.  To do your research, you cannot have anything looking into the future.  You can use a scribe, but can't pay him.

You have to make two copies of everything.  It had to be over 300,000 words in length.  You must describe the religious, social, economic, cultural, judicial practices, cooking habits, clothing descriptions, etc of two major groups in society.  It has to have 50 war chapters. 70 with gospel doctrine.  50 containing visions.  20 containing Christ
ministering to the people.  280 new names they have never been heard before.  They must have different literary types.  It must be proper for terms to be used in their original language.  You must lead the gospel of Jesus Christ and testify that this book is the word of God and another testament of Jesus Christ.  Then you must invite scholars
to translate this into their own language.  Since you claim that you are just the translator, you have to change writing styles quite often.  24 to show that there were different writers.  Archeological evidence must continually evidence the truths of what you have spoken. The bible must back up everything in your book.  You then must find
three well-respected witnesses that will sign a testimony saying that they have seen an angel, the voice of God has witnessed that this is truly his word, and inspired of him.  They must never disavow their witness throughout their lives.  Its origin must continue to stand as the only plausible explanation.  Then you must put a promise in the
back that people must read it, pray and ask if it is true, and ponder on their feelings.  They must be able to come closer to God by simple living by its teachings and knowing that it and the bible are true. You must have no monetary gain.  Thousands must experience extreme hardships because of your claims.  You must agree to a lifetime of persecution and at the age of 38, willingly give your life as a martyr
for the book which you have written.  This includes being run out of two homes, being arrested, thrown in jail, hiding the gold plates, and receiving constant threats upon your life.  You then have to talk a friend into mortgaging his farm to get the money to print all of these books.  And all of this must be done in the time frame of 65 days.
Doesn't that just give you so much respect for Joseph Smith and what he did for us and the church?  It was amazing!

Happy Halloween !!!  So to the fun parts - I got to carve pumpkins with my district.  It was really fun. Everyone but the Huntersville elders came.  It was all our idea.  But it's no big deal.  ;)

I am emailing and playing basketball at the church with my district for P-Day.  I love
my new companion!  Sister P and I are constantly laughing!  We love each other so much!  We have like no investigators right now except for R.  So maybe you could pray that we get more.  The weather is SUPER rainy!  Like, flood rainy!  I don't know about a mild winter until we can get past the rain.  ;)  The mission is not doing well baptism wise.  But sister P and I were talking about it. Most of the baptisms the mission got while president Craven was here and even before, are now less-active.  So we think that we are getting less now because most of the baptisms from this year are completely active.  We think we are focusing more on the quality of the investigator.  Whether they are going to stay in the church or not. Now we just have to find large quantities of quality investigators. ;) But I am still holding tight to the 10 people that you talked about as well as the blessing I got saying that I was going to help many people into the waters of baptism.

I love you all the way to the North Pole and back because all the Christmas decorations in Charlotte are up already!

Ash :) <3

Joseph Smith

Hey everybody!  How are you doing?  We have had an interesting week.  Here are some of the things that have happened.  You ready... set... go!!!

Experience #1
Do y'all remember my recent converts B and L?  Well, I was thinking about them this week.  I was remembering the experience that I told you a while ago about how B told us that I was sent to themat the right time.  And if it wasn't for me, they may not have joinedthe church.  Well, I think I forgot to tell you what happened lastweek.  When we were at stake conference, I saw them and just got totalk to them for a little while.  They said that they were doing great!  When stake conference started on Sunday, they had all the men being ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood stand up.  I was taking something down on my notepad, when all of the sudden I hear, "B B’s from the Shelby ward."  I looked over to where he was and he stood up and everyone sustained the ordination.  I was so humbled.  I was so glad that I was able to be the one that made the difference because of the inspiration that the prophets received because of the knowledge that Heavenly Father has.  I went up to him afterwards to congratulate him and he said, "All of this is thanks to you."  It really amazes me what Heavenly Father has planned for each of us and the way he inspires us to fulfill the plan that he has.

Experience #2
It was just a really inspired transfer meeting this time.  I just want to share some of the things that I took away from this meeting: President Alexander: Isn't this exciting? I don't know that there are many meetings in the church with such a spirit as is here right now.
D&C 31:3 "Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come; and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy unto this generation. You shall declare the things which have been revealed to my servant, Joseph Smith, Jun.
You shall begin to preach from this time forth, yea, to reap in the field which is white already to be burned. Therefore, thrust in your sickle with all your soul, and your sins are forgiven you, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your back, for the laborer is worthy of his hire." The way wheat was harvested was with a sickle.  They would have
to cut down the stocks of wheat.  The sheaves were gathered and placed upon the backs of the laborers as they carried them. "The sheaves were those who were baptized.  The garners are symbolic of the temples."
-Elder Bednar
We baptize people and we help them go to the temple.  "I am speaking before Sister H because in fast and testimony meeting, I usually have to listen to her and close the meeting after I am done.  I first felt the spirit when I was four years old.  I was standing with my dad, holding his hand with my little one as he was bearing his testimony.  I knew that Heavenly Father was there.  I know that the gospel is true.  I know that Joseph Smith saw that vision.  I know that Thomas S. Monson is our prophet and receives direct revelation.  And by that same prophet, each one of you have been called to preach the gospel to the world.  Sometimes, your mission is going to be hard.  And sometimes you will get discouraged.  He knows your heartaches.  He knows your problems.  He will bless you to get through those.  A lot of our challenges happen to make us grow.  Each of you are members of our family.  You have been adopted.  He is going to bless you, the harder you work." -Elder Hunt

There were tons of other things, but those men were the two that stood out to me most.  Sister H and Sister A were also my favorites, but theirs were really long.  I am truly excited for the things to come this transfer.

Experience #3
Earlier this week, my companion and I were trying to contact a media referral that we had tried to contact like, five time.  And surprise, surprise... She wasn't home.  But we decided to walk down her street and try to talk to people.  No one was really outside, so she had the inspiration to knock on someone's door.  This girl answered and asked
if we could come back in a couple of hours.  So we went and taught some other people and came back when we told her we would.  She answered and came out on the porch.  As we were teaching the Restoration, she started getting emotional and told us that this was the perfect time for us to come.  She had been going through a lot in
her life and really needs the teachings of the church right now.  She said that she really wants to learn and grow closer to the savior at this time!  She even accepted a baptismal date!  She is so solid!  It is so nice to be able to follow the spirit and go where Heavenly
Father needs us.

Experience #4
Sooooo... I have had some ingrown toenails lately.  I know.  Gross.  Sorry.  But anyways.  I had to go get surgery on them on Thursday.  It hurt so bad.  And I have a follow up appointment in two weeks.  But it was a horrible day full of pain, and numbness, and swelling, and other stuff.  Then we had to go get a prescription filled and the only thing that fit on my feet were socks.  Have you ever worn only socks on your
feet in Walmart?  Don't ever do it.  It's disgusting.  Haha. But anyways, I think they are getting better.  Honestly, not really sure. But I'll keep you updated.  Yay for dumb blocks in the road that Satan gives us to try to defeat us!  (Sarcastic tone of course)!  WE SHALL

Thank you so much for "splitting the team" and going to Sister Grace's  homecoming.  She emailed me today and said that she loves both of you so much!  That meant a lot to her.  I loved the picture that you took with her as well.  That makes me so happy.  And then a little weird because someday that will be me.  Nice to know the things that you wish she would have talked about.  Gives me a little hint as to what I
should talk about in mine.  ;)  But I'm sure she had some great things to say.  She had some miraculous experiences during her mission.  So I'm glad you enjoyed it.  Yes, I did expect her to say y'all a lot.  ;)  But it isn't that common for us to pick up a ton of southern words or phrases out here.  It's kind of funny.  I think I am going to incorporate more of it into my homecoming talk than that, but just to lighten the mood and such!  :)
I can't believe Jason is home.  That is so weird.  I keep hearing of missionaries that are going home and having a hard time readjusting to life.  So that kind of worries me.  Hopefully, I will just be more awkward than anything else.  But I'm sure that if I give the transition over to Heavenly Father, everything will be okay.  :)  Tell him I say hello back and that I will work hard till the end.

I love what the gentleman said after Sister Grace.  I have noticed that Sisters really do make a difference out here.  No matter what anyone says, there is a reason we are here.  There is a reason I am here.  I am here to bless people's lives that have been prepared for ME!  Like I said above, B and L came to the knowledge and practice of the truth because of one simple phrase that I said.  They were prepared for me.  I was called here for them, as well as others. It is amazing.  I really feel the strength and encouragement I receive from members all over the world praying for us, and praying for me.  I agree with what he said about the Elders being priests. ( Remember that elders were just Priest two months ago.  They’re title is not always reflective of their maturity or their age. Be patient with them. )  I have just come to realize that they really do act their age and sometimes, we just have to realize that they are being silly and move on.

I can't believe that Bethany can send her papers in 4 months from now.  That is crazy!  And I will be home in about 5 1/2 months from now.  I can't believe that time flies so fast.  But I have really seen blessings come to me and to all of you because of my mission.  It is amazing.

Soooo.  My new companion is... Wait for it... Sister P!  Yes.  I love her.  She is very opinionated, and very bold.  But I need the boldness.  We laugh constantly.  She's great!  The work is going great!  We saw so many miracles before the surgery and I am confident that we will continue seeing them.  There is one new elder in the
district that I have wanted to serve with forever.  Elder D. He opened Pilot Mountain after I closed it.  Then he closed it and Sister P opened it.  So we are talking about Pilot Mountain all the time.  Elder R hates it.  Haha  We are also teaching him to be more fun.  ;)  We only have one of the new elders in the zone.  The zone leaders are training Elder B  Let me know when that picture gets to his mom.  He was so happy about it.

I am sorry to hear about your phone screen.  That stinks.  I probably would have had the same reaction. Glad to hear everyone is doing well still.  Yeah.  I feel like the past three stake conferences have been the same.  But it's okay.  Like you said, it's nice to have time with friends and family.

Sister P is from Elko, Nevada.  She has five siblings.  She is super funny -and really great.  I am still getting to know her.  She goes home a transfer before me with elder Hutchinson though.

Thank you for sending me more Christmas things this year.  I loved them. 
Thank you for the encouraging words.  Know that I love you soooooo
much and am praying for you all every night.

Love you worth the pain coming from my two big toes.  Which is a lot.  ;)

Ash :)

Hey you guys!  How are you doing?  Here is how I am doing:

Experience #1

We were at the mall last Monday, and we were walking by this make up store. Before Sister L could blink, and she showed this little ounce of compassion, one of the make up ladies grabbed her and ask her if she wanted some organic make up. She sat Sister L down in the chair and just started doing her make up. She mixed this color of eye shadow with Vaseline and turned it into some sort of lipstick. It was possibly the weirdest thing of ever seen. Then she decided to try and sell her on this organic foundation. Yeah... it was pretty weird. I have to say though, the funniest part was when she tried to put blush on her face.The lady picked a… Interesting color? Let's just say, it was at least three shades darker than Sister L’s skin tone.  The lady said, "you have such porcelain skin."then, proceeded to put on this blush that probably would have worked better on a Native American skin tone. But meanwhile, the lady started asking us what we do as missionaries. I figured, that she was more interested in selling us things than what we had to say. But after she ask us three or four questions, I decided to stop being ignorant and put my iPad away so that I could talk to her. She said she was really interested in the service aspect of the church, but she wasn't so interested in the actual message. She did let us introduce the Principles of the Restoration and the Plan of  Salvation. We told her that if she let missionaries come over to talk to her, more service opportunities would open up for her. We got her name and her address and her phone number so that we could see if she was in our area or another one. Turns out, that she is actually in Pineville area. But, we did exercise the practice of teaching people when we first meet them, and talking to everyone. It seems like she was more interested in the message after we talked to her. The funny thing is, she said that she lives 20 minutes away from the mall, but in fact she lives 50 minutes away from the mall. So we had to decide if we were going to give her to Pineville elders or Pineville sisters. We figured it would be better to give it to the Pineville elders because there were three of them. So we called Elder Brogdon, Elder Hutchings, and Elder Jackson to give them the referral. They seemed really happy and we're hoping all works out. :)

Experience #2

We had another experience as a companionship this week where we really followed the spirit. President Alexander has been asking us to do at least three hours of finding every day. We planned our finding, but it probably wasn't the most detailed. So the result was, no one was outside and we didn't talk to a single person. So we figured we could go back to the car, and just put in lessons. But the thing is, I didn't feel like that is what we needed to be doing at that time. So we said a prayer and asked that Heavenly Father would have us go to help the people that needed us at that time. I prayed that certain names would come to my mind, whether it was them or someone else that needed us. The first name that came to either of our minds was an investigator named T. T's area was decently close to where we were, so we decided to go. When we got up there, we saw our investigator named F outside washing his car. We parked our car and walked over to him. We started talking to him and ask if he had read the restoration pamphlet that we left for him last time. He said that he was going to be honest with us, and told us that he hadn't read it. So we asked if we could just teach him the restoration right there outside his house. He agreed and we had a very spirit filled lesson where we were able to testify of the importance of families and how we can come closer to our heavenly father through his plan for us. We introduced the Book of Mormon and the concept of baptism and he said he would talk to his wife about it. He also said that he would read the book of Mormon and think about coming to church with us this next week. So we are so glad that we were open to listening to the spirit and that he may be ready to make more commitments with us. Just hope and pray that we will be able to find him home this next week.

Experience #3

This week we also had stake conference. It was a really inspirational meeting, but it was focused on ward councils. Don't get me wrong, it was still good. I just feel like it was more for the members than the missionaries. There were some really great things that I took notes on in case I am ever in a word counsel in the future, but for now, all we can do is present the work that we're doing and ask for the best help that the members can give. I think that was also a big focus of the meeting - was the fact that the members really need to get involved with the missionaries more. This is not just the work of the missionaries, it is also the work of the members. I will attach some of the notes I took from President Alexander and Sister Alexander because they stood out to me the most at that meeting.

Sister Alexander: We have invited our missionaries to use music to bring the spirit into their lessons. Such an exciting time to be a member of the church. We see evidences of the hastening of the work. Years ago, it seems as though we planned parties and calendar items.  But now they are powerful meetings to bring people closer to Christ. We love our missionaries with all our hearts. As we were preparing to serve our mission, we were first called by Elder Ballard. Then we were formally called by President Eyring. This year, they gave us the assignments ahead of time. We were in President Alexander's office studying, and he started to cry, then I started to cry. We first felt a love for the missionaries we hadn't met yet, then we felt a love for all of you that we hadn't met yet. There is a difference between missionaries attending ward councils, and missionaries fully participating in ward councils. They have been called of God, they are young men but they have old and wise spirits. I can feel the mantle of their callings. As you work with them, realize that we need and can use their help. But we are also teaching the future leaders of the church. Among the missionaries in the church right now, are the future apostles and prophets of the church. It is also an amazing time to be a woman in the church. Last month, three women were called to be on the general auxiliaries of the church. -Give women a chance to spiritually prepare.  We think differently.  We can receive inspiration that others may not. Give them material to study and ponder before hand. As we knelt in prayer with the assistants today, it was a very sweet and emotional experience. We felt that the change was accepted by the Lord. President Alexander fasts, works tirelessly, and involves the lord in every aspect of this work. The temple is also very important in our lives. When we go to receive inspiration and guidance, the lord never failed me. We can receive revelation in these meetings as well.

Meetings such as ward councils. D&C 138 - "Foreshadowing..." "This earth would be complete garbage if we don't find families and seal them." -Elder Kopischke Our purpose is to bind families. We can do this through ward councils. 

President Alexander: You met the best part of my companionship already. Recently, we were headed back from the Charlotte airport and it looked like she was thinking intently. I asked what she was thinking about and she said, "I am just practicing singing hymns in southern." (He talked about his occupation to his mission call). What we have is a 50/50 companionship. She generally asks, "What can I pray for you about?" They tell her and she does. Our son returned from his mission and fell away. She began to pray that he would remember his mission. We got a call in the middle of the night from my son saying that he didn't want to be where he was at anymore. He said, "Dad, I just couldn't stop thinking about my mission." When they were gathering things out of their closet as they were leaving, they then saw the spot in the carpet all matted where sister Alexander prays. (President Alexander had us all stand). He described how Elder Nelson/Anderson said that we are extensions of the apostles, sent out to preach the gospel. Both as mission presidents and as missionaries. (He then had us recite our purpose). We don't only offer the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, but also of sacrament. What a great blessing we have to have our missionaries go to families, help your children, and participate in ward councils. We are grateful to be a part of your ward councils. We talk about people. We answer questions like: -Who is coming to church today? -What can we do to help them have a spiritually uplifting experience? If we could ask questions like: -Who are less-actives and what is the next ordinance that they need to receive? Help us in that. Come out with our missionaries. There are so many who could benefit from our message. There are less-actives who could be free of guilt. There are non-member friends who, if they understood the message, would be lining up for the ordinances of baptism and confirmation.

The next days conference when it is all about being in tune with the spirit while we are focusing on going to see people outside of our homes and outside of our church buildings. They were both really great meetings that I learned a lot from. And I will have to share more of my notes with you when I get home. :)

Experience #4

We also got to go see Sister H again this week. We just love going to see her because of the special spirit that she has about her.  She told us while we were over at dinner this time, that we were her missionaries. No matter what happened it transfers, nothing would ever change that. We watch the Thomas S. Monson movie with her and ate pizza because that is one of her favorite things to do when I come over for dinner. She had a bunch of questions that she has started keeping a notebook for us after the movie. She is just the sweetest. The fact that she is so willing to learn and so open to the Gospel is really an inspiration for all of us. There is not one thing so far that she has completely disagreed with. The other week, we were over at her house and we hadn't really described the word of wisdom yet, yet she told us something that she did by her own free will. She told us that she had taken the step to pour out all of her wine and that she was going to slowly but surely continue getting better with things like the word of wisdom in things that she is not used to in her life yet. I think the thing about this weeks visit, that was the most unique to me personally, was the fact that she said that she is now open and willing to go to the temple. You see, the first time that we went over to go teach her, she said that there was no way that she was going to go to the temple anytime soon. However, this last time, she said that she would only really struggle with paying tithing for a year in order to get the temple recommend to be able to go. We described how it would be a sacrifice and it is a trial for all those who excepts the commandment to pay tithing to our Heavenly Father, but when we do, he will bless our lives abundantly and we will see things happen in our lives that we have never seen before. We talked about things that she will be able to do in the future as we help her continue to learn more about the gospel. Things such as, going to the temple, going to General conference, and receiving the ordinance of eternal marriage that everyone in this life gets a chance to participate in. I am just so excited to see how much this special woman has grown over the last few weeks and how much she will continue to grow as we continue to meet with her. 

Experience #5

We also had Elder Kopischke come to the mission this week. It's like the third time I've heard him speak, but this time was as good as every other time that he's come. I really like when he comes because he doesn't come with an organized plan that he wants to talk to us about. More so, he comes and stands at the front of the pews, and he basically tells us that if we don't ask questions we are not going to learn anything. There was one point during the meeting, that you literally stood there for four minutes and said that we could end the conference early if nothing was going to be said. I just really like how he goes so by the Spirit. He really focuses in on what we need to hear. There were at least three times during the conference, that I found him looking up towards the heavens, and praying to Heavenly Father to know what it is that he needed to say to most enrich, uplift, and edify us. There was one story told that I thought you might like.
Elder H, Elder B, and Elder J were in a park one day.  Elder J had it in his head that he wanted to talk to everyone in the park. He spotted this family about 200 yards away, and decided that he was going to leave his companions and the people they were talking to you and go hunt down this family. When they noticed that he was bolting off, they started running after him. But this crazy little dog went after his two companions and instead they started talking to the owner. The family that Elder J had seen, wasn't interested in the message. But the family that the other two started talking to, were very interested and excepted the invitation to read to ponder and pray and have the missionaries over to continue talking to them. This family, just entered into the waters of baptism on Saturday and I was blessed enough to meet them as we were leaving the parking lot from stake conference yesterday. The elders flagged me down and introduced me to this special family. They had a glow about them I was indescribable. I know that the Spirit leads us to those that are prepared by our Heavenly Father to learn from and except the message of the restored gospel.

I love the comments from Brother Trainer.  Especially the comment about success when we invite.  Elder Kopischke also commented on how when we sacrifice things, he recognizes our sacrifice and blessings!
And I love what he said about senior couples too.  The example I've had from the senior couples here make me want to serve a senior mission with my husband someday.  They are so absolutely key and influential to every mission.
Those people that haven't accepted the message of the gospel , definitely will someday.  I get so excited when we get to talk to new people because I know if they don't come into the gospel by our efforts, that they will be ready soon because of the contact I made with them.

It really is "the next step" that we need to focus on.  By that, we can worry about the small things that will bring great things to pass in the near future.
In response to your question about the magnets: I WOULD LOVE SOMETHING SIMILAR!!!  They helped us so much in Pilot.  I only had a few left that I have given to companions and members. I have just a few left but I LOVED THEM!  They were so helpful.

I am really good with whatever you would like to send.  I don't know if I want tons of candy.  Maybe some Charleston Chews would be great, and some fun dips, and if you could find a nerds rope because I have wanted one forever, and whatever else you want to send.  I am on the "six months to sexy" now.  So I am trying to lose weight, but it is so hard because of how tired I am in the morning.  And... I only send you good looking pictures.  I actually need a lot of your help when I get home.  ;)  haha  What do you mean by other?  If you have ideas, send them my way and I'll tell you yes or no.

Sooo... Transfers.  I am staying in MOUNTAIN ISLAND!  Hence the address above.   I love you to the eternities and back.  I will talk to you soon.  Let me know if I skipped any questions you need answered.  I love you all so much!

Ash :)