Monday, June 29, 2015

week 23

hello fam and friends--
this week I want to tell you all about Sister Tina. She is absolutely incredible.
My first interaction with Tina was in the first couple days in the area. She is a less active that had a note left on her teaching record saying that she was interested in coming back to church. So in our first phone call she told me she had just downloaded the gospel library app and how she listens to scriptures and general conference ALL the time. we set up an appointment to meet with her.
in our first appointment she tells us all about herself. raised in upstate new york, grew up going to the hill cumorah pagaent every summer. always had a very strong testimony that joseph smith is a prophet. she went to college and married a muslim man who did not let her practice her faith. she's been inactive for 30 years.she now has 4 children, and a couple of them don't even believe in God. it's hard for her, but she does all she can to help them.
in recent years her husband's heart has been softened, and she has been allowed more and more to return to her roots and rediscover the testimony that has always been there. and that's where we come in. every time we teach her, she knows everything and has a strong testimony of it. she just hasn't been able to live it for 30 years. she often ends up teaching us. one of her son's has sat in on our last couple lessons and she ends up teaching him.
yesterday in sunday school we were talking about gifts of the spirit. one of them that was talked about is the gift of knowing Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Tina made the comment of, "I think i have this gift, in fact I know I have this gift, because I married an Islamic man many years ago and if it weren't for my knowledge that Jesus Christ is the son of God, I would probably be Muslim today".
she comes to church every week and wants to be involved in everything. she introduces herself to everyone and is so excited to finally be returning to what she was taught as a teenager. 
her faith has lasted through everything, for over 30 years.
two weeks after we started teaching her, we went to an appointment and she said, "i finished the book of mormon!" she listens to the scriptures for an hour or two everyday on the gospel library app. 
she is AMAZING. she has taught me so much about not taking the gospel for granted. in fact the last couple weeks, she has made the comment after church that the members forgot how blessed they are to be able to attend church each week and practice as they will. I'm grateful for the freedoms we have, and for the knowledge of the gospel, and for the power of a testimony that lasts through the trials of life.
love you!
sister mal

finally found a dead big one-- they come out during rainstorms. they hop like two feet in the air. THEY ARE DISGUSTING.

Florida sunsets tho

how we avoid the wind.

 sis sackleys first time dipping Oreos in milk. Im forever changed.

tina gave us eggplant sandwiches and dates this week... it was one of those "mission prep" moments... oh wait. this is real life!! haha

chasing after birds level 10

How I come up to the doors when we are tracting,

that one time our car got stuck in an elementary school parking lot for the night. let's just not talk about that shall we?

Friday, June 26, 2015

week 22

Hello fam and friends!
This week. Wow. I’m just not even sure what to say about this week.
We met with John three times this week and one of the times we met with him he told us how he had just read 2 Nephi 2:11, “for it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things”. He told us how loudly it spoke to him and how it really touched him. 
And that my friends, is our theme for the week. We felt serious opposition this week.
·         We got caught in a thunderstorm almost every day but had an opportunity to clean up our former investigator lists.
·         John’s date has been pushed to July 11th  but we are really happy about it because he feels like the timing is right and that the Lord is really answering his prayers now.
·         I almost passed out from heat exhaustion… but don’t worry mom. The Lord provided, as always. And we got a little bit of time in the air conditioning!! 
·         We knocked more doors than I can count and I can count on my fingers how many people gave us the time of the day but we got our name tags out and we pulled weeds and planted new seeds!
·         We ditched our bikes countless times at random locations to take shelter but we were safe.
·         We walked. And walked and walked. Just like the pioneer children. And now have sweet calf muscles. 
·         Appointments cancelled left and right but we found out who is truly interested in learning more.
·         Sister Olson found a spider living in my bun one day but I learned that my fear of spiders has almost disappeared.
·         We got kicked out of 2 neighborhoods (new record!) but we realized that’s clearly not where the Lord wanted us to be at that time.
·         Every day the weather said: feels like 100+. But I mentally tell myself it’s only 70 degrees each day, and it’s starting to work. Dad- I freeze when I’m anywhere under 70 degrees… I’m going to die in a year!
·         I gained a new hatred for dogs and was attacked by a few too many this week but now I know I truly never ever want a dog.

Every single day, we laughed, we smiled and we had a good time. I am especially grateful for Sister Olson this week and the fact that no matter what the day throws at us, we truly can be positive about it. Each day we woke up a little more determined to have a great day, and when that day was a little bit worse than the previous, it pushed our determination even more. It’s been a hard week, but we are happy. We are exhausted but we are working hard and see countless miracles each day. Life’s not fair, but the Lord always provides and without hardship and sadness we truly can’t know joy. Here’s to good things to come, and here’s to good things that are right in front of our face.

Love you!
Sister Mal

p.s. 5 months…. What the what?!

mom-- i also got your package... you're the best :) let it be known that this is what i look like everyday. how we are allowed to represent the church... i have no idea. but the dress was put to good use the day it came! love ya!!

pure joy came on monday... shout out to mad for being the BEST. i literally was DYING of happiness.

the magic shirt mad!! us riding after a lesson with a Less active family. they have a 9 year old daughter that will go knock doors around their neighborhood with us. she's the best. (Madison's note: this is the "magic shirt" from my mission that I sent her this past wee)

parrots in someone's FRONT yard. oh florida. you kill me.

hunchback of notre dame biking.

one of the new neighborhood developments... wesley chapel is growing rapidly. everything is under construction in these parts of town

Monday, June 15, 2015

week 21

update on John: first of all. I have had a fear all week that we are going to meet with John and he is going to say, "HAHA! I've been a member the whole time!" He knows so much. He's going to be baptized on June 27th. We are BEYOND thrilled. Sister Olson and I screamed and danced and we've been on cloud 9 all week. The things that he says are a clear testament to me that there is no possible way man could have prepared his heart. God prepared him and he is so ready, and we are so grateful. 
This week we tried doing some contacting at the local mall. We saw a man on a bench and we began talking to him. 
He said, "LDS? Every time i talk to an LDS person I get nervous!!" 
We began talking and he couldn't really come to a conclusion as to why Mormons freak him out, but we do. We talked a lot about Christ being the Savior of the world and he expressed interest in knowing what we believe. We began talking about the Book of Mormon and how we believe in the Bible too.
At one point in the conversation he states that he was in the bookstore with his wife and he told her, "I'm going outside to talk with someone" then he met us. I had a lot of faith in that moment. He seemed stubborn, but open and curious.
But as we continued talking, things changed VERY quickly. I had just offered the Book of Mormon to him and he began to tell me that I was going to hell for preaching of this book. It hurt, but not because he told me I was going to hell, but rather because I had the clear thought, "This is how Christ felt. He just wanted to help, and people persecuted him". So I let him say what he desired for a minute.
I realized in that moment that my hands were still extended with the Book of Mormon in them. I had again, a very clear thought, "Mallory. He won't love it". I pulled the book back and said, "I'm sorry, but if you don't want this, that's ok. Because I know there is someone else out there who is desperately searching for it. I know it's true and I left home and family for 18 months to share my love of it with others. If you're interested you can give us a call, but we have to leave". 
Maybe a little too bold? But after we left I thought of Christ again. I have a whole new appreciation for his life since being on a mission. People told me I would, but I don't think I really believe it. Now I understand, and I am grateful every day that I have the opportunity to serve. This is the work of God and I am so blessed to be a part of it. But more importantly, I am grateful for my Savior and everything He experienced. He lives.
Love you all!
Sister Mal

that one time i prayed for a hair tie because i forgot one, and one LITERALLY fell from the sky. i almost cried i was so happy. GOD LIVES.

florida has the weidest bugs. hands down.

biking into the storm... with an umbrella. we get creative.

that one time the random person felt so bad for us they gave us popsicles.... did we really look that pathetic?! haha we'll take it!

our favorite walk way to walk through the neighborhood. we live in the jungle!

grasshoppers get bigger by the second. this one hopped a foot in the air after i took the picture.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

week 20

three things:
Sackley, Mallory...............Stay.
wahoooooo. Things are starting to look normal, but maybe I'm speaking too soon!
2- Update on John:
John is INCREDIBLE. Clearly prayers are reaching him. This week we went to his lesson and he tells us he got a little distracted one day as he was reading the Book of Mormon and started researching the church. RED FLAG. But then he proceeds to tell us that over the course of three days he watched: Ephraims Rescue, 17 Miracles, and all of the Work and the Glory. And he's been trying to watch the Restoration, but hasn't been able to get it. He's prepared and we are beyond excited for him. Thank you for the prayers!!
3- The Miracle of Isela:
At the start of my mission, I would hear the sisters that served in this area talk about a woman named Isela at district meetings. About two months in, she finally had a solid date set and was ready to be baptized. Just before her baptism, she found out she would be moving to Orlando for work, so the sisters arranged for missionaries to baptize her there. To make a long story short-- she didn't end up moving. But got super busy with work and didn't have time to meet with the sisters.
When we arrived in the area we had a note on her teaching record that said, "Keep trying with her, she is prepared, life is just really busy right now". 
So we've tried. For 6 weeks, every now and again. But nothing.
The sisters didn't have her address since they never taught her in her home. We got a self media referal (a referal from where someone refers themself or a friend), for ISELA this week. With an address. We were on cloud 9. 
We go to find her.... of course, the house doesn't exist, but the street does. So we knock every door on the street looking for her. And let me tell you.... that street is LONG. We've gone back on three different occassions to be able to complete the whole thing. Well last night we had two doors left, and we were frustrated. We knock on the door and low and behold, Isela's sister answers the door. Turns out she's out of town for a couple weeks, but she's interested still. God works in mysterious ways, but it is only through diligence that we see the miracles come.
Love you all!
Sister Mal
mission christmas party on the beach... my two children (Sister Olson and Judkins)

fast sundays and dehydration are a real thing. NOTE: she is totally fine, just didn't drink enough water and was being a bit dramatic for the camera. DONT WORRY GRANDMA. 

Mary Poppins!
sister tawzer. after a full year of serving in the tampa 2 ward (the whole time she has been on her mission) she found out yesterday that she will be staying for at least another transfer. i'm happy about it. no changes around here!

week 19

This week we found ourselves knocking doors... for hours.... and NO ONE would answer. It was primetime on a Sunday night.... it was strange.
But then we get to this house and a man opens up and knows EXACTLY who we are and has been dying to learn more about the church. His name is John. We were pumped.
He then proceeded to tell us all about how he has been to Salt Lake to the family history center and how grateful he is for everything the church has for free, that he can use to locate his family. The building we attend has a family history center in it, and he has been many times to work on his family tree. We have a lovely conversation and set up a return appointment.
We go back and have the most amazing lesson of our lives. I can't even explain it. We had planned to teach him the restoration, but he knows so much about the church already that we spent the majority of the time talking about the Holy Ghost and the Book of Mormon only. He is beyond prepared. The following are quotes from him during the lesson, I kid you not:
"I've watched a lot of BYU devotionals, and I've never been so touched in my life. I mean I've heard a lot of preachers and pastors, but there is just something special about those people. They make me cry every time!"
"Mormons are just so happpy! And I can't figure out why. But I want to be like that! I want to be just as forgiving as they are"
"Is the Holy Ghost that little voice I hear in my head, guiding me?"

as he's explaining how he got a Book of Mormon, "I just saw a pile of them at your building when I went to do family history work, and I took it as my invitation to take it and read it!"
"I know what you're getting at! You want me to read the Book of Mormon and listen to the Holy Ghost! Hmmm I can do that!"
He is incredible. But has been out of town for a couple days now. We are so excited to teach him again this week.The Lord truly does prepared hearts, and John is a perfect example of just that. Pray for him?
Love you all!
Sister Mal

I had to ride my bike for a solid 2-3 miles like this for exchanges. 

the CUTEST kids in the ward that took us around to all their neighbors... they literally went tracting with us for an hour. so we let them wear our badges for a minute. they both said, "we want to serve missions, but only for 3 years"

cheers to forever 21 cheap jewelry... i sweat so much that my neck turns green. youre welcome for that visual.

hurricane money party.... you get REALLY weird looks when you ask for 80 bucks in 5s and 1s.... ooops. 

memorial day lasagna and watermelon with the other sisters (also no other apartment in the mission looks like this-- a member gave them old furniture and so their apartment is SUPER nice)

i've never looked so attractive in my life.... we get caught in storms almost daily. thanks florida.

That time we accidentally got stuck on either side of the gate.