Monday, December 28, 2015

week 47

It's going to be a great week for that reason alone!! Happy new years everyone!!
Three lessons learned this week....
fleas: This might be one that I should save for after the mission, but it was so funny. I won't go into great detail... but here's a basic summary. We taught in a home this week where there was a two year old running around the house in a diaper, covered in red big bites. They have a dog, three cats, a bird and three bearded dragons. His mom made a comment that she wasn't sure what was biting him. We had a member with us and when we left this home she told us she watched multiple fleas jump up and bite this child. They were jumping all over the carpet right where the member was sitting. We jumped in the car, drove down the road, before jumping back out and shaking out our clothes and hair to make sure we were rid of fleas. We think we escaped okay, but we went home and threw our clothes in the wash and showered. It was a mission moment. Like I said, there's a lot more to the story, but it's best to be saved for later :) I'm not sure if I will ever own animals. 
drugs: When teaching the Word of Wisdom, go over, IN DEPTH everything it includes. Also even if you teach it three times and bring it up in every lesson, people will still hold things back. It's important to be honest and to recognize where we fall short. We are exercising a lot of faith this week in God's timing and his plan for our investigator.
god-sent miracles: We found ourselves lost as to what to do one night. Our plans fell through, our back-up plans fell through and we had prayed to ask God what to do and we had no luck in what we were directed to do either. We had one hour left and found ourselves completely clueless as to what God wanted us to do. We started driving towards an apartment complex to go tracting, but suddenly I realized I had gotten in a turn lane without even noticing. We realized that we were right next to Tina Parker's house. We taught her a couple months ago and she was progressing well before life happened and she told us she couldn't meet with us any longer. So we decided God wanted us to go see her. She welcomed us in and we taught her about the Book of Mormon again. We have an appointment to meet with her and her daughter and grandson tonight. As we left she said, "You just brought peace into my home, thank you!" We were so happy to see her again and plan to recommit her to baptism tonight. God works in mysterious ways, we need to make sure we are effective instruments.
Happy New Year!! I think this might be the first year ever that I'm actually PUMPED for new years :) Missions are the best.
Love you!
Sister Mal
christmas package

it was a "smell good" christmas... i think people are trying to tell us something hahaha

this is what happens when a member finds out your first name. dang it!
Family- I know you're already sick of me talking about Night in Bethlehem, so sorry for the continuation of it. But also, I'll be skyping with the you this week so I don't feel like I have to say much... oops.
But to everyone else out there.
This weekend we had the incredible experience of seeing and working at a live nativity that the Tampa Stake puts on every year. I have literally heard about this since day one in the mission field, so after 10 and a half months... I finally got to see it. It was worth the wait.
The first night, my companion and I went through one of the first shows and the spirit that was present was indescribable. As we sat there watching the reinactment of the birth of the Savior, I was taken aback at just how scared of an occassion it truly was. Christmas on the mission is amazing because everything is focused on the true meaning of Christmas. The first scene in the show is of Mary and Joseph looking for room in the inn and a song is sung as Joseph runs from inn to inn. At the beginning of the scene they posed the question, "Do you have room?" And I want to pose the same question to each of you... Do you have room for the Savior? I think the song explains itself.
Do you have room?

They journeyed far, a weary pair
They sought for shelter from the cold night air
Some place where she, could lay her head
Where she could give her babe a quiet bed

Was there no room, nor corner there?
In all the town a spot someone could spare?
Was there no soul come to their aid?
A stable there was where the family stayed

Do you have room for the Savior?
Do you seek him anew?
Do you hold place for the one who lives and died for you?
Are you as humble as a shepherd boy?
Or as wise as men of old?
Would you have come that night?
Would you have sought the night?
Do you have room?

The star arose, a wondrous light
A sign from God this was the holy night
And yet so few would to come to see
The babe who rescued you and me
This child divine is now a king
The gift of life to all the world he brings
And all mankind is saved from doom
But on that night for him there was no room

Do you have room for the Savior?
Do you seek him anew?
Do you hold place for the one who lives and died for you?
Are you as humble as a shepherd boy
Or as wise as men of old?
Would you have come that night?
Would you have sought the night?
Do you have room?

Will you come tonight?
Will you seek the light?
Do you have room?
I know that Jesus is the Christ. He is my Savior and Redeemer. What a wonderful time of the year it truly is. 
I love you all and have a Happy Christmas!!
Sister Mal

we passed out 250 copies of the book of mormon to all the non-members that came this weekend. there was well over 2500 people that came to Night in Bethlehem

we got a couple of our investigators to participate in the angel choir or be villagers. we love the youth in this ward. they are absolutely amazing. all of our work comes from them

week 45

Saturday was probably one of the best days of mission. Two things happened that I really don't even think I can explain just how happy I was...
1- John Moore was baptized.
2- Mike Mesick agreed to be baptized on December 26th.
John first. I was looking back on my journal to when we first met him. May 23, 2015. Over the last 7 months I have seen so many changes in that man and I really can't express how grateful I am that I have been able to see his conversion. Everytime I see him, I've been asking how he feels, and he just says, "peaceful". The spirit at his baptism was truly just that, "peaceful". I look back to July when he told us he needed some time and how heart broken Sister Olson and I were... but it was 100% worth it for the joy and happiness that came from seeing that man follow the Savior. I am so incredibly proud of him.
Mike. I wrote about Mike last week and how the ward member sat him down and was so bold and loving. Well we met with him again this week and he still feels like the Lord has not given him an answer. At the beginning of the lesson I felt like I needed to explain to him my experience of whether or not to go on a mission, but I didn't want to take the attention away from him, so I didn't. As the lesson continued, I felt like I really needed to tell him, so I did. I told him that I prayed about a mission for almost three years and an answer never came. I explained that I chose to act in faith because I learned that the Lord trusted me enough to make the decision. It wasn't until after I received my call that peace came. He was fairly surprised. This lesson happened Friday night. We got a text from his wife on Saturday night that said, "I thought I would tell you the exciting news, Mike just told me he wants to be baptized on December 26th". We called and told him we were so happy that he had received his answer to which he said, "NO! I haven't received my answer. But your story made me realize that the Lord trusts me and its time for me to act in faith too! I'm waiting for the peace to come". Peace will come, it always does. My heart was so touched that the Lord used me as an instrument to do His work. 
If the only reason I came on my mission was to see these two men be converted to the gospel, it was ALL worth it. I would do it again and again and again just to see John and Mike follow the Savior. This truly is the Lord's work and the gospel is the only source of true peace on earth.
Love you all!
Sister Mal

we can't hold babies... but we can hold puppies. haha
mike and sister mesick
maddie remaley came biking with us to a lesson again. we love her.
some members gave us a little christmas tree and cookies yesterday... we were SO happy.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

week 44

"For behold, this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" -Moses 1:39
immortality and eternal life of MAN, not men, but MAN.
The Lord's work is always focused on the one. And this week I learned the importance of truly focusing on the one.
There is a man named Mike who married a member of the church almost 20 years ago. She has struggled with attending church over the years and staying active, but she knows without a doubt that the church is true. Almost five years ago she finally convinced her husband who has never attended ANY church in his life, to meet with the missionaries. He felt the spirit immediately, but has never felt worthy to be baptized all these years.
He has a lot of health conditions and when I very first came to the area, he was progressing. We tried to meet with them, but health got in the way and they both literally disappeared for six months. Bishop called us a few weeks ago and explained that she wanted to come back and that he wanted to take the discussions again.
This man listens to the Book of Mormon every day and prays over meals, as he wakes up in he morning, with his wife when they are arguing, everything. He knows more about the church than most members do. But he has never prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is true. The last time we met with him, we got him to FINALLY agree to baptism, but we couldn't get a date set. And we haven't been able to meet lately because of health.
Well this last week, they gave us a call and asked that we arrange for Mike to be given a blessing because of the health difficulties. He had told us before of a man in the ward that he felt very close to and Mike knew that this man loved him and cared for him. So we gave this brother a call and arrangements were made.
As we talked before the blessing, this ward member said to him, "Mike, what is holding you back from being baptized?" to which he responded, "I don't feel like I'm worthy". 
I can't even begin to explain what happened after that. This brother explained the power of the atonement. No one is worthy before they are baptized. The whole purpose of baptism is to be made clean and to receive the spirit of the Lord. We don't have to wait for the atonement to work because we are all broken and we all need to atonement no matter our circumstances. Baptism is only the beginning to help us know how to more fully access the powers of Christ's sacrifice in our lives. The spirit was beyond tangible. It was so powerful. This brother then said in the most loving bold voice you can imagine, "Mike, I want to baptize you a week from Sunday. I want to help you take this step. I'm here to help you through this. We're going to do it together".
There was not a dry eye in the room. We then asked Mike to pray and ask the Lord if he was to be baptized a week from Sunday. I'm not sure if I have ever felt the spirit so strong in my life. It was incredible.
His story has only just begun, and due to a rough weekend with his health, the baptism will not be able to happen this next weekend, but we will be meeting with them tomorrow to create a better timeline. He's ready, even if he doesn't feel like he is, he just needed someone to help him through it.
We were reading "The Miracle of a Mission" this morning and I loved this quote: "This is higher and holier and more sacred and more eternal than anything you've ever done. It is by definition the most important thing you can do in the world, in time or eternity. For this reason you are engaged in the saving of the human soul. And that is the highest and holiest work in the universe" -Jeffrey R. Holland
It's not about everyone, it's about the one. It always has been and always will be about one human soul.
Love you all!
Sister Mal

Meet Maddie Remaley and Ashley Lahey. We've been teaching Ashley for awhile now and she'll be baptized just after Christmas break. We convinced Maddie, one of our favorite beehives to come out biking with us to her lesson. Maddie is the best missionary ever. It was a blast. I love these girls.

you can't see it here... but that tree looks like it's snowing. i love christmas!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

week 43

dear family and whoever else is out there-
I'm not sure if I have anything imparticular to share from this week, rather a bunch of little miracles that have happened lately that I am extremely thankful for.
Tina: remember Tina? She was the LA we started working with when I VERY first came to the area. We have continued to work with her and she is doing so great. She is the one who married the muslim man and hasn't been able to come to church in 30 years. Well she now has a temple recommend and is doing family history. She's been a great example to her family all these years and has silently tried to share her testimony with them. Well last Sunday she told us she wanted us to teach one of her sons... She explained that they had a long talk about life and how he was having a hard time. She told him the only way to find peace and happiness is through learning about Jesus Christ and his church. We'll be meeting with her son this week. 
John Moore: Remember him? He broke Sister Olsons and my hearts back in July. We've stopped by his house multiple times and had no luck. Well the other sisters stopped by a couple weeks ago and he welcomed them in. He was at church yesterday and I don't remember the last time I was so happy to see someone. He's planning to be baptized on December 12th.
Jaylen Clark: Remember him? He dropped off the face of the earth about three months ago. Well last night as we were eating dinner Sister Harper said, "Let's call Jaylen!" So we did. He answered and we know have an appointment to meet with him. 
I am thankful to be in an area long enough to see things come full circle. I am grateful for the miracles that are placed before us every day. I am grateful for this short amount of time I have to serve the Lord. I am grateful for my family. I am grateful for the gospel. But most of all, I am grateful for Jesus Christ and the strength He gives me every single day. 
Love you all
Sister Mal

A Mad English Man lives here... we talked to him for 20 minutes one day about the gospel and how we aren't nuns...
but he also spray paints his palm trees orange because he thinks it adds a good "pop of color" to the house. you can't see it but the flag he is flying is half brittish and half american

week 42

So we met with sweet Ashley this week and came up with a brand new game plan. Due to holidays and being a teenager- we reset her baptismal date for January 9th. But we wanted to make sure she still REALLY wanted to be baptized... so we talked all about it at our last lesson. 
We asked why she was still meeting with us and she said, "Well you know my dad passed a couple years ago and ever since I've been meeting with you I feel closer to him. Like I feel like he's proud of me and this is what he would want me to do. He loved church and Jesus and the bible so I just feel this connection to him as we talk".
We explained more about families being together forever and how proud her dad is of her. I think one of the coolest things of being a missionary is being able to feel an ounce of God's love for others. It's the strangest thing, and I'm not even sure how to describe other thatn I just want to tell everyone that I love them! But I know that's creepy, so I don't. But in this moment I truly felt not only God's love for Ashley but that her dad was so pleased with what she was doing. 
There are angels all around us that are helping us through each day and they sure do make missionary work a lot easier for us.
I have always loved this quote by Jeffrey R. Holland but over the past couple weeks I have come to understand it more and more as I have truly felt the help of the angels that surround us.
In the gospel of Jesus Christ
 we have help from both sides of the veil. When disappointment and discouragement strike—and they
 will—we need to remember that if our eyes could be opened, we would see horses and chariots of fire
 as far as the eye can see, riding at great speed to come to our protection. They will always be
 there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham’s seed.
Love you all!
Sister Mal

biking with sister haper down my favorite bike path

our dishwasher broke this week... it was smoking and i tried to save the day and ended up burning my little fingers. not smart sister sackley, not smart.

week 41

About a month ago we were walking away from a house and this man at the end of the street started waving at us, which NEVER happens. And it wasn't a member we recognized so we quickly went up and talked with him. 
Turns out he is a member of the church and hasn't come in almost 5 years. He has a brother on a mission in Texas. He asked us where the local congregation met, and we told him and then he promptly ended the conversation and walked away. I didn't think much of it for whatever reason.
As we walked away back down the street I had these sudden prompting of, "You just let that Elder in Texas down! He's praying that his brother will come back to church and you just let him down!!" So I turned to Sister Harper and said, "we're going to go talk to him and set up a return appointment, RIGHT NOW".
He was walking pretty fast and he had gotten pretty far so I made Sister Harper run. She kept saying, "What got into you!?" 
We approached him and I said, "Look, I'm going to tell you what just happened. We were going to let you go easy, but I had a very strong feeling that your brother loves you and is praying that you will go back to church and we can't let him down!". He looked at me half shocked and said, "I know he's praying for me".
Over the next couple minutes I was extremely bold with him but due to trips and school, he didn't have a time that he could meet with us for the next couple weeks. So I told him that if he promised not to ignore our calls that we would set something up later, he agreed. 
Well we FINALLY met with him this last week. He's agreed to take the lessons again and figure it out for himself. He's not doing it to please mom and dad anymore, rather he really wants to know for himself. 
He told us he promised his brother to wave at missionaries if he ever saw them. He sees the missionaries on USF campus almost every day, but has been too scared to wave, so when he saw us, he felt like he HAD to. And then he was completely taken aback when we chased him down. But he said, "Ever since you came after me, I've started reading and praying again". The lesson ended with him saying, "You have no idea how happy my mom would be if she knew I was meeting with you right now". 
I can't even begin to explain what an incredible experience it is to be on this end of helping answer others prayers. The Lord truly leads us to those that need our help.
Love you all!
Sister Mal
how close can you get to a gator??

happy november... we made a sandman!

exchange with Sister Foderaro last night... the woman's bathroom was locked, so one of us stood guard and we quickly used the mens. cheers to mission life.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

week 40

A couple weeks ago, the sisters that we were living with decided to hand out 14 copies of the Book of Mormon one day, just because. When they got home they told us about how incredible of a day they had and all of the sudden Sister Harper and I got all these ideas... 
Would if we handed out 22 copies for my 22nd Birthday? Would if I wrote my testimony in each one of them? Oh and why not also mark 22 of my favorite scriptures in each one? 
Over the last couple weeks I have written my testimony in 22 copies of the Book of Mormon. They were each addressed to someone different: a mother, a father, a child of God, a stranger, a friend, etc. And they had at least one of my favorite scriptures marked in every one. 
So on Friday, we ran around like crazies and successfully left 22 keys to heaven all over town. 22 random people that I have never met before received the Book of Mormon, and let me tell you- it was the most incredible birthday ever.
The lady at the gas station, Joseph (the grilled cheese eating man), the pre-teen washing the truck, Luis and Loran who spoke in tongues after we gave it to them, Noah's grandma (a little boy we met outside his house), the Amaya family (who we will be going back to teach this week), an awkward tween, a young girl who had tye-die socks, a larger black woman who loves Jesus, another Jesus loving woman that had over sized sunglasses on, our waiter at dinner, Christian (the pro soccer player), a French woman at the French bakery, a lady who told us "I will probably need this later tonight!", James (a man with headphones in that looked very sad), a man who was waiting for his wife and told us he had read it before and would try it again, two spanish men who were in a fiery conversation when I interupted, a man speaking insanely fast in an un-known tongue on the phone, a worker at the sunglass store in the mall (it's a good place to hit a lot of people), a couple that was speed-walking past, and then we ran into our Bishop... who pointed to a man, who received the 22nd copy of the Book of Mormon, at 8:56... we still made it home by 9. 
I really can't even begin to explain the miracles that we saw come of it. It was the most amazing thing. About half of them noticed the note in the front of the book and the other half gratefully accepted it. On a day that is so normally focused on you- we did our best to focus it on the Lord and it was AMAZING.
This work is good, even on hard days, it's wonderful to be apart of. 
Love you!
Sister Mal

Birthday package 

Monday, November 2, 2015

week 39

sister harper has been so stinking sick all week, and it's provided for an interesting week. we were in all day thursdayand then have been doing half days since then. she's doing much better now, all is well in zion!
on a happy note! we attended an incredible young women's lesson yesterday with our investigator, Ashley. In the middle of the lesson, the teacher completely paused the lesson and said, "Do you feel this right now? Everyone, just stop for a minute. Do you feel the spirit that is in the room right now? That goodness that you are feeling is the spirit. You know you're doing what's right when you feel this way". 
as missionaries, we were pumped that she took the time to point out the spirit, not only to our investigator, but also to all the other girls in the room.
right after church we had a lesson with Ashley and addressed some of her concerns. we've been trying to get her to set a date for baptism and she's told us multiple times that she wants to keep praying about it. so yesterday, we told her that we were all going to pray about it together.
we were in a random little sunbeam classroom and the three of us knelt down on our knees and she asked the Lord if He wanted her to be baptized on November 21st. That same feeling, that was in the lesson earlier, filled the room. After the prayer we asked her how she felt and she said, "I feel the same way that I did in that young women's lesson. I feel that goodness".
sister harper and i both had to restrain ourselves from screaming, "THAT'S THE SPIRIT!!!!!" to her.... but we got the message across. and she agreed to November 21st. she's 15 and honestly seeking God's plan for her. she's a sweetheart and we love her dearly. pray for her?
love ya!
sister mal
p.s. it's november 2nd and there are people sunbathing at our apartment pool RIGHT now... WHAT IS THIS?!

melissa... she pulled clothes out of the dress up box and created her own witch costume

Trunk or treat with the youth! me, sis harper, marcus (the clown), alec, sophia, victor, connor and ashley (one of the girls we are teaching). everyone in this picture but the missionaries and ashley are cousins.

more trunk or treat. maddie and marissa (we just started teaching her and her family).