Monday, September 28, 2015

week 34

So this weekend our ward saw a pure miracle fall out of heaven, and I wish I could say I had something to do with it, but I didn't. But it's still an incredible story, so I will share it with you all now!!
There is a family in the ward that has three sons and a daughter, all are in young mens/ young women. All three boys hold the priesthood and all the children have been baptized into the church. The dad is a member and up until this weekend the mom was not.
For over 20 years she investigated the church and has taken the missionary discussions multiple times. She attends church almost every week. She has held callings and even though she is not a member, she is still referred to as, "sister". This family is amazing member missionaries and two other family friends were baptized this weekend because of the missionary efforts of this family.
About a month ago, the sisters asked her when she was going to get baptized, and she agreed to take the lessons for herself, without her family knowing. So over the past month she has been meeting with the sisters without her husband or children knowing. On Thursday night she informed her husband that he would be baptizing her on Friday and he couldn't even believe it. However, they decided to keep it a secret from the kids.
Friday came and the kids thought they were attending a baptism of their neighbor (who ended up getting baptized on Saturday). They all showed up and their family and the bishop were the only ones there besides the missionaries. Programs were passed out and we all sat and watched as each of these four children realized they were attending the baptism of their mom. They could NOT believe it. Within moments, everyone was in tears. It was a very simple, sacred baptism and the spirit was so strong it was tangible. The only people that were invited were the bishop and the ward mission leader so they could be the witness and all the missionaries with the family. I can't even explain the spirit that was in the room as we closed singing "Families Can Be Together Forever". The oldest son will graduate high school this next year and they planned to be sealed just before he leaves on a mission.
This is a woman that time and time again missionaries have tried working with, and she just wasn't ready. But, the ward didn't give up on her. And on Sunday when they announced that she was baptized there was an audible gasp. The ward literally couldn't believe it. Miracles happen, sometimes we just have to hold on a little longer.
"Don't give up. Don't you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead. You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come" -Jeffrey R. Holland
Love you!
Sister Mal

we had to go inspect an elders apartment this weekend because the sisters were suppose to move into it and they left this note in one of the bathrooms...

This is what we found under the sink! 

how many sisters does it take to kill a palmetto? (flying cockroach)

I volunteered to plug the baptismal font. 

week 33

this week I learned the power of those two sentences. 

it's been a week of recovery, but things are going much better. i have found myself becoming frustrated over very small things and at one point I had a distinct impression to just take a slice of humble pie and say, "I was wrong and I am sorry". and holy cow, those are powerful sentences. 

growing up dad would ALWAYS say to us, "Life's not fair". And guess what, that is so stinking true. It's the farthest thing from fair. And although I might try as hard as I can to make it fair, it's just not the way God planned it to be while we are here. But you know what? everything that is wrong about life can be made right through the atonement. But the only way we can access the atonement is by repenting.

"There is no royal road to repentance, no privelileged path to forgiveness. Every man must follow the same course whether he be rich or poor, educated or untrained, tall or short, prince or pauper, king or commoner" -President Spencer W. Kimball

There is no easy way out, but through the atonement our burdens truly become lighter and a little easier. I think it's a lesson I will continue to learn for the rest of my life. 

We met a man this week named Isaac Williams. His wife died four years ago and he told us about how life's not fair and he wants to make sure he lives the same life as his wife because heaven wouldn't be heaven without her. He doesn't want to live a greater life than her because if he does, she might not make it to where he goes! A valid concern... but as we bore testimony of the plan of salvation and how God's plan is greater than anything we can imagine, tears came to his eyes. He couldn't even believe what we had to tell him. We've seen him twice and we plan to see him again tonight. Everything that is unfair about life is made right through the atonement of Christ. EVERYTHING. Jesus is the Christ and no one is exempt from His sacrifice.

Love you!
Sister Mal

Hermione taking a nap.

fake squirrels in the new fake neighborhoods that are going up in wesley chapel. picture edward scissor hands neighborhoods... or the little fakeville on big fish. those are the neighborhoods we work in 

Thanks mom! 

week 32

other titles that could have worked for this week are:
-schedules keep you sane
-it's NOT about the numbers
-the bathroom is the only place you can be alone
-"it's not your day to have a mental breakdown"
welp folks. it's been a hard LONG week, not going to lie.
I'm not even quite sure how to sum it all up. But 4 of the nights I spent sleeping on a hospital couch and the other 3 were with a different companion other than Sister Harper. All six sisters in Tampa 2 were companions at one point or another this week and our brains are FRIED because of it. 
here's a short summary of what happened: Sister Huber and I were put together on Tuesday morning to train at a district meeting together. After the district meeting, we spent the afternoon going around to different doctors to have tests done. That night she was admitted into the hospital and I spent the next 48 hours in the hospital with her. Our trainees were off taking on the world togehter- and killing it might I add. Sister Huber has been in the hospital all week and so we've all been taking shifts. It's been a tad bit of pure insanity and a little hard, not going to lie. 
BUT. Last Sunday, we were really struggling, as missionaries, to be unified in working with the ward. We were all running around trying to get the referrals and basically wanted to kill each other last Sunday. But this week, we were forced to all work together like crazy. Everyone taught everyone's investigators. We truly learned that these people are not "my people" or "your people" but they are the Lord's people and we have the joy of working with them. It's been a humbling week and a hard one. But we are united and yesterday was fabulous because of it. The ward can tell we are working together and things are changing. Sister Huber should be released today and all should be well.
Multiple times this week, I was left alone without a companion... whether it was because Sister Huber was taken off to have tests done or President told me to go home and shower, I was solo multiple times. It was STRANGE and slightly terrifying, however I felt the Lord guiding me and protecting me throughout it all. I'm running on barely any sleep and dealing with an apartment full of emotional sisters-- but we're having fun and becoming great friends as we do it. 
Here's to getting back to schedules and the missionary life, I've missed it.
Sister Mal

switching the IVs

Craziest week ever

How many sisters does it take for it to work?

when you gotta go...

Monday, September 7, 2015

week 31

i'm copying Elder Go this week and doing a word vomit... I have no idea what I am even going to write about. here goes nothing!

First things first: SISTER OLSON AND JUDKINS ARE COMPANIONS AND OPENED A THIRD AREA IN TAMPA 2 AND LIVE WITH US. I know that doesn't mean much to anyone but me...but let's just say all three of the sisters I have trained all live with me know, and I am one happy camper. I love our little apartment, even if things are a tad bit crowded, it's wonderful!
Second: Sister Harper, 19 (but her birthday is this week) from Ajo, Arizona and she is probably the most driven, hard-working trainee I have ever met. Half the time she has no idea what's going on but she roles well with the punches and its up for anything and everything. I am really excited for this transfer and for the things we are going to accomplish!
Jaylen update: So Jaylen has meeting with his uncle this next Sunday to talk about his baptism, so his date had to be pushed back a week. He's 18, so technically doesn't need parental permission, but it's always nice to know that your family supports you in what you do, so we are taking an extra week so that his mom and uncle will support the whole thing. He's amazing though. Every time we teach him anything, he soaks it right up like a dry sponge. Keep him in your prayers.
This week I think I realized I got stuck in a rut and didn't even realize it. The first few months of my mission were filled with change which kept me on my toes, but these last couple months, everything has been the same. This week, Sister Harper joined in and I decided that change needed to come. Her first night we met a man who invited us to come back and teach his family, so we did just that. On Saturday we taught the whole family, mom, dad, and three kids. I have tried to change a lot over the past week, including how I teach. IT WAS THE BEST LESSON I HAVE EVER HAD. The whole family was engaged and interacted the whole time. They all wanted to share something and the dad asked that we return to share more. I feel like over the last couple months, I stopped letting myself change. The rut was comfortable and I thought life was going great, but by stepping back and asking for help from the Lord, it's been an amazing couple of days. I use to hate change, every thing about it, and now, change has become my new best friend.
Love you all!
Sister Mal
sister harper and I on her first night riding bikes... it was a blast

sister olson and judkins took our car for the day and the next day we got in it and hermonie was being hung...

the night Kate Cusick (The Mission President's daughter)  slept over :) sister olson and i bought matching grandma nightgowns for her birthday... kate thought we were freaks hahaha

Thursday, September 3, 2015

week 30

Hello family!

Sooooooooo-- transfers.
Sackley, Mallory....... Stay and train

Sister Olson is headed out and we are just a tad bit sad over here,
but we aren't dwelling on it. Mainly because Sister Olson turns 20
tomorrow, so we're trying to enjoy our last couple days together. We
have had a splendid 18 weeks together and it looks like it's time for
this chapter to end. I just pray that my new trainee is just as
wonderful as Sister Olson!

But since she's leaving me, I've been thinking a lot about what she
has taught me over the past three transfers. From the very beginning,
she realized that I am not sympathetic and my communication skills
need serious improvement... So she took it upon herself to change me.
Sister Olson is one of the most caring people I've ever met. She truly
cares about everyone she meets and is real good at the whole sympathy
thing. I can think of countless times that when she was upset or
frustrated she would say to me, "Dont you dare say to me, 'What are we
going to do about it? What can we change?' I just want you to listen
to me". She kept me inline and helped me understand what it means to
offer help out of love instead of offering help just to solve the
problem. And by doing so, I feel like I've learned to love the people
we encounter every day. She's taught me so much. We communicate openly
and the second there is a problem, it's brought to the table. She's
honest and loving, and because of it, she's got the world at her
finger tips. I'm grateful I could spend some time learning from her
greatness. I feel so blessed with every companion I have had, can we
pray they just keep coming??

Jaylen update: we went over yesterday and he is doing so well. He
wants to be baptized to be able to follow Christ for the rest of his
life. It's so cool to hear him talk about long term as he recognizes
this truly is changing his whole life. Every time we ask him a
question like, "how would you feel to be able to have the Holy Ghost?
Or how would you like to live with your family forever?" Or anything
like that, his response is always, "Blessed". I think that sums it up
perfectly. We are SO blessed. He needs lots of prayers this week as he
is now having family members question the decision he is making. Pray
for Jaylen!!

Love you all!
Sister Mal


the whole family! They are seriously my favorite (the de Oliveiras) 

this was my miracle to president this week: So last Monday, I decided not to bring water because we weren't going to be out for very long. We headed out, and by the time we had an hour left in our night, I was dying of thirst. Normally I would just be a big girl and ask someone to fill my water bottle, but I didn't even have that to offer. I prayed SO hard that someone would offer us water.... The hour went by and still nothing. The last house we knocked on, we talked to the guy for awhile and he wasn't interested, but then he offered us ice tea. Immediately I thought, "faith without works is dead, you have to ask for the water!" So I asked... He came out with four water bottles. God answers even our smallest pathetic pleas for water. 

setting up dinner for the departing missionaries at the mission home.

sister olson just wanted an ice cream cake for her birthday... so her mom sent money so we could get a DQ ice cream cake. we have 48 hours to eat it all before transfers... WE CAN DO IT!!! hahaha

we set up our new air mattresses in the spare room for a sleepover!

we pass this every week on our 40 minute drive to church hahahah

 The Nielsens! a couple in our ward that lives next door to the other sisters. they are the best

Monica and Kasey Hess-- our WML. They are the most incredible people. I don't think we would survive without them. 

week 29

Hello family!!
So this week was just dandy. First off: Jaylen is doing so well. We talked all about the word of wisdom last night and he said, "I've never had coffee or tea in my life, so I think we're all good". He's golden. We're pumped for him. Pray that he can receive answers to his prayers. 
We went to two zone conferences this week... out of pure luck. We live a very good life here in Wesley Chapel :) but anyways, President shared this story at both and I am going to butcher it so you should probably google it to find the real thing. But it basically went like this:
One night a man awoke and Christ appeared to him. Christ told the man that there was a large rock outside his home that he needed to push. The next day the man pushed and pushed, but it just didn't seem to budge. He did this day after day with no such luck. Years went by and discouragement set in. He began listening to the advesary and thinking he was doing no good. One night, he cried out in frustration asking Christ why the rock won't be moved. In response, Christ said, "When I asked you to serve me, you accepted. I did not ask that you move the rock, but rather you push it! Your calling was to be obedient and to push the rock". Christ went on to expalin to the man, how the man had changed over the process. He was strong and had a firm determination. Christ then said to him, "I will now move the rock ". 
This story struck me. We have to exercise faith to move mountains, but we must recognize that Christ will move the mountain. The Lord is creating us to be the servant He needs us to be, not who we want to be. But really, go google the story, because I'm sure google can tell it better than me :) I love this work.
Sister Mal

happy hour at sonic on a 105 degree day! it's moments like these that i thank the Lord I'm still in the states :)

crazy storms. i'm just about ready for storm season to be over! but i don't think i'll ever get over these clouds!!

my fav apartment to knock in... mad it looks just like the ivy!

this guy gave us a cup filled with ice water because he could tell we were sweating so bad.... 

sister olson forgot her nametag after changing one night after dinner... because we were so sweaty. IT'S BEEN SO HOT THIS WEEK

President called us one day at 4:30 and told us to meet him for dinner at 5 at chilis :) we are so lucky. it just happened to be my 7 month mark as well. I LOVE THIS AREA. we may have been covered in sweat and looked frightening... but it was fabulous

air mattresses came in the mail yesterday for when we go on exchanges... so we decided to have a sleepover in our spare bedroom and try them out.