Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Week 71

PRIEST UPDATE: I just want to shout it from the roof tops: WE GOT ONE OF THE PRIESTS TO AGREE TO START HIS MISSION PAPERS THIS WEEK. I really can't even explain how huge of a miracle this was. Sister Sutton and I were doing the happy dance and literally have been on cloud 9 all week.

Here's the story, we went over on Tuesday to do a Book of Mormon read with him (I've talked about these before, but basically we read the Book of Mormon for 10 minutes with them and help them receive an answer. the youth love it). Well his mom was there too, and his grandma and his dad. It was a party!! So we read and he gets his answer in 10 minutes and then his mom says to us, "Alright sisters, tell Johnny what the best part of the mission experience is, because currently he doesn't not want to go but he also doesn't want to go". 

So I asked, on a scale of 1 to 10 (I'm a big fan of the scales) 10 you're going no questions asked and 1 being you'll never ever go, where are you? He said, "5". So then Sister Sutton and I both shared our experiences of choosing to go on a mission. I told him how I prayed for three years, and how my mission papers sat for 6 months before the submit button was clicked. I told him that I was at a 5 too, but if the Lord said I needed to go, I would be at a 10, if he told me I didn't need to go, I would be at a 1. But my 5 didn't change until after I had my call in hand. Over the months leading up to my mission I went from a 5 to 6 to 7 to 8 to 9 and then once the MTC came, I hit my 10. 

He was kind of surprised by what I shared with him, and it seemed to help him see he doesn't have to be all in right away. Our commitment to him at the end was to start his mission papers... he agreed. His mom was FREAKING out. It was AWESOME. We'll keep following up with him, but I would be ecstatic if he had his mission call before we leave!

Other news: Doug. I wrote about him a couple weeks ago. His daughter, is a recent convert and he has recently shown a lot of interest in the church. He has made MAJOR changes in his life to be ready for baptism. We continue to work with him, but he is doing so well! We stopped by to drop something off for his daughter and he was all, "Whatcha doing here? I'm ready for my lesson about God and His church! What are you going to teach me today?!" So we read in the Book of Mormon, the story of Nephi's brothers tying him to the ship, and he got SO emotional about it. He loves everything that he's learning, the processing is just a tad bit slower though, so we're taking it one step at a time. He's probably the first person I have had to tell not to jump in the font quite yet, he's beyond excited for baptism. 

I just can't imagine if I had never served a mission and met Doug, or the priests or any of my companions or anyone. It really has been one of the greatest choices I could ever make. We have more priests to get on board and more people to find! Time is of the essence. 

Love you all!
Sister Mal

crazy Florida doors

Sneaky Sister Sutton. The summer clouds are coming and so are the
summer storms!

I forget my height on a daily basis. That day a tree was stuck in my hair.

Sister Sutton learned how to cut a watermelon this week

Hills. This is something I have not seen since I left home. It was
the WEIRDEST sight.

Sonic slushies

This is right outside one of our sisters apartment complexes,
manatees swim up and down the river, but we couldn't see any :(

Sleepy Sister Sutton

Flamingo and daisy paints

I just told the deacons about this in my letter,  but the frogs
outside our apartment have really stepped up their game. There are
three of them now and we can't leave the house without them trying to
jump on us. This one was trying to get inside.

Bryson was happy, I swear. The Skeets! Jalen won his game.

I just love these flowers.

These are my absolute favorite palm trees in the whole wide world. I want one in my backyard one day... Just not in Florida.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Week 70


Transfers: So all week I have really felt quite confident that I am staying in Land O Lakes... we go over to the Cusick's to help with the departing and the incoming missionaries dinners and President told me I was being transferred. The transfer email hadn't come out yet and I was so mad! Later, we talked more and he told me that logically, I have served in this area for WAY too long. Plus I only have two transfers left, so it would make sense to send me somewhere for my last two so I have enough time to get things moving. I agreed, but I still REALLY didn't want to go. It ended with him telling me that logically he wants me transferred, but the Lord disagrees and he feels that God wants me to stay... so I stayed. I have had the feeling multiple times over the last week that there is someone that I still need to find, so I'm excited for the next couple weeks.

Priests: Those boys are amazing. The one priest that wanted to say the sacrament prayer, didn't come to church last week. We saw him mid-week and called him out on it and he promised he would be there on Sunday to say the prayer. Wow, the spirit was SO strong during sacrament meeting. Both priests that said the prayers went slowly and you could tell that they were really thinking about what they were saying. Sister Sutton and I are so proud! We're expecting big things over the next week with each of them!

Gladys Knight: My weekend was filled with gospel music and a lot of "praise Jesus!" and "Hallelujah!" For a moment, I thought I belonged to a southern baptist church, but then I realized we were still in a mormon church building. Gladys Knight came and put on a "fireside" (basically a massive concert) on Friday and Saturday. Two shows in Valrico and two shows in St. Petersburg. There were 12 of us missionaries asked to help with the event. We started to be referred to as "The Twelve" haha.

The performances were about two hours long each and were filled with testimonies and songs. It was AMAZING. Check out suvchoir.org. I really can't even explain all that happened, but the spirit was so strong and there were hundreds of non-members in the church building. It was one of the best weekends of my mission so far. President gave all the missionaries permission to dance, so during the last song of the show we all went running up to the chapel and started dancing with people in the audience. It was SO much fun. 

One of the songs they sing says, "Come head, come love, Come to Jesus Christ, come willingly to eternal life. Come feast upon the word of God, just trust in Him and come!" It was SO moving. After Sister Knight got up and bore her testimony about how everyone needs to "come" and give the church a chance because this really is God's church. She talked about her own conversion to the gospel and it was incredible. We are expecting big things to come from this over the next couple weeks.

Life is good and I really can't complain. Staying in Florida for the rest of my life is sounding more and more tempting. God lives and Jesus is the Christ. 

Love you all
Sister Mal

 i love flroida trees


Florida has hills! What is this!?

A picture Sister Sutton drew me. i was EXHAUSTED this week.

This is the big mormon van that "the twelve" all rode in together. It was a party.

lunch on Friday

that's Kenya Jackson in the middle- she is Gladys Knight's daughter and helps run the show

van selfies for days :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Week 69

Well family, it's been quite a week and I don't even know where to begin. 
Maybe let's start off with a funny horrible story?
With all these lice happenings we have been boiling our brushes, combs, hair ties and bobby pins like crazy. Last night, we came home after church and had dinner and then did a quick hair check (we've been clean for awhile but we keep checking mom!) We put a pot of boiling water on the stove like we've done a hundred times before and threw the hair accessories in, but we forgot to turn off the stove...
A couple hours later we came home and could smell something strange... We opened the apartment door and it was filled with smoke. So naturally we ran inside. We instantly knew it was the stove and so we turned it off and opened up all the windows. The fans were blowing and we were choking on the air. I'm still not sure how the smoke detector wasn't going off, but luckily the only things that were ruined were Sister Nasman's comb, a bunch of hair ties and bobby pins. Our apartment reeked of toxic plastic and so we called the zone leaders for permission to sleep at the other sisters apartment. They have been hearing about all the crazy happenings over here and when we called they just laughed at us and told us to watch "The Refiners Fire" Mormon message. We are VERY grateful that we are all still alive and well. Anyways, seven sisters in one apartment, it was insanity. We came back this morning and it still reeks pretty bad, even though all the windows were left open overnight. We have been airing it out and cleaning like crazy. We pray that we don't get cancer in twenty years. 
Happy story: I was standing outside the bathroom, waiting for my companions, eating a granola bar just after ward council yesterday. I noticed a couple coming down the hallway, so I turned to see who it was and I had to do a double take because ALLEN AND JANICE WERE WALKING DOWN THE HALL!! It was a happy moment, and when my companions came out they were quite shocked to find out they really were my aunt and uncle! It was so fun to have them there for a bit. After church I had multiple ward members come up to us and say, "I couldn't get over to you, but who was that couple sitting with you?! Are they investigators? Because they look SOLID!" Nope, not investigators... Just Uncle Allen and Aunt Janice :) 
Spiritual story: the zone leaders were going through their areabook and because of the ward split they still have some former investigators that now live in our area. They sent us to go visit a woman named Leslie, who seemed to have a solid background. We went and visited her and it turns out her niece is a member, and 75% of her social media is LDS. She met with some sisters a year and a half ago, but then was handed off to elders and she didn't feel comfortable meeting with them. She reads from the Book of Mormon occasionally and wants to serve everyone around her. She wants to start meeting with us again and she's been through A LOT over the past two years. She is absolutely amazing though. It's funny to me to see how God uses different people to carry out His work. He knows the trials, hardships, talents and gifts that we have to offer to others and that alone can help people to be interested in the gospel again. We are super excited to meet with her in the coming week! 
Transfers are today- so stay posted for that!
Love you!
Sister Mal
spotted.. allen and janice!! i'm going to get busted!

shout out to mom. you're the best in the whole wide world

this is a pet chicken that watches tv with these boys

 the weirdest looking turkey that fights raccoons and dances

 the chicken again

a drawing some other missionaries made for us

 ice cream sandwiches are how i've survived this week

sister sutton is the only thing that keeps me sane

 the pot that ruined our apartment

heading out last night to flee the toxic smoke

Monday, May 9, 2016

Week 68

Hello again!

As I explained to the family yesterday- we think the lice are gone. The majority of the week was spent quarantined to our apartment. After finding more lice, we were told to go on lock down. We did an olive oil treatment first which consisted of washing your hair with a harsh shampoo, blow drying, saturating your hair and scalp in olive oil, put it all in a shower cap, let it sit for three hours, comb through the hair (with the oil still in it) looking for lice, wash the hair twice with dish soap.... Repeated two more times for each sister. As we were at the very last step for me, the last one to go, we got a phone call instructing us to get a prescription shampoo. It cost $260 for two ounces of straight up alcohol. We had to leave it on our head for twelve hours  and we thought we were going to die of intoxication, our apartment smelt like a bar. We also had to avoid anything that produced heat because of the chance of our head exploding. At the end of all of the alcohol, we really think we are lice free. Don't worry mom, we will continue to check everyday- we have already done so this morning. 

Update on the priests: it's always funny to see who shows up each week, they haven't all attended since our very first lesson with them, but they come and go. We taught them about the gospel of Jesus Christ and ended up talking about the sacrament for quite some time. We compared it to a weekly baptismal service for the entire congregation and that they, as priests, are the ones who make it capable for all of us to be made clean. It clicked for one of the priests. He was amazed by the whole thing,not had never occurred to him before how absolutely important the sacrament is. We spent some time talking about the proper way to say the prayer and allow others to feel the spirit. Right before we said the closing prayer, this priest looked at bishop and said, "I want to do the sacrament prayers next week!" We're celebrating small victories over here. 

On Saturday we went and taught a recent convert, Yvonne. Her dad, Doug, has been seeming more and more interested lately. He came to church for the first time on Mothers Day and LOVED it. We taught Yvonne and at the very end of the lesson, he pulled up a chair and wanted to join. He had some questions, so we addressed them and then I asked him if he wanted to be baptized... I didn't even realize what I had said until it came out of my mouth. He said he was definitely interested but wanted to learn more, so he agreed to go through the lessons. 
Well he came to church yesterday and was so moved. He left after second hour and a member took Yvonne home. We got a text from the member that said, "Just took Yvonne home. Doug told my husband, 'tell the bishop I'm going to be a Mormon'. Josh   (Her husband) said, 'Oh yeah, you're thinking about getting baptized?' He said, 'I'm not thinking about it, I'm doing it!'" We went over an hour later and set a date with him for May 28th. He's on fire. Pray for Doug!

Love you all,
Sister Mal

 i feel like these explain themselves... let's just say i've eaten a few too many ice cream sandwiches this week to compensate for the amount of stress that's been going on 

I was trying to fix it and ended up breaking it...

This is Doug and Yvonne. Yvonne was baptized back in December and
we've been working on her dad for awhile. He's preparing to be
baptized at the end of the month!

This is Fred. He lives above our door.

For Logan's sake because I guess he didn't get this... Garrett has
a mop on his head.
Ahh ... the stickers in the south

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Week 67

A little bit about mothers and fathers. 
This week was the first time ever that I almost picked up the phone to call my mother, but the mission nurse had to do instead. 
On Friday here are two comments that were made to us:
While we were sitting on a couch in a less actives home, her six year old daughter came up to us and said, "I have a cold and lice!" You better believe there was a great big smile on her face.
The next came from the father of someone we teach to which he said, "I'll have you guys in the house next time, we got to get this bed bug situation figured out". Great. 
Just skip this paragraph if you're already grossed out. So Friday night I had a panic attack because that wasn't the first mention of lice that we have had. We've been told this years lice is a super lice that is hard to kill. That evening my companions spent the evening hour going through my hair. We'll just keep it short and say all three of us have lice and that's what we've spent the weekend dealing with. I am suddenly extremely grateful for the fact that I have had it before, because I knew what to do. I am also grateful for a mother who didn't just shave my head the first time. Don't worry mom, it could have been worse. Look at Sister Suttons hair- long, blonde and thick. It's been quite the weekend. 
Priest Update: One of the priests got up in sacrament meeting and bore his testimony about the church and how excited he is to serve a mission. I made eye contact with Bishop and we both made a half smile. Not sure if our lessons have had any effect, but we did challenge him the week previously to pray and ask God if the church is true and he told us he had done it. Whatever it was, we'll take it. 
We taught the priests yesterday about the plan of salvation, and it went really well. It seemed to give them all a bit more of a perspective as to why we are acting with so much urgency. Now is the time to make the choices that will effect you for the rest of your eternity, and you truly never know how long you'll be here. We talked a lot about judgement day, when you stand before God and whether that will be a happy day or a scary day. Most of the boys talked about how you would feel fear at first but then you would hopefully feel peace. The young men's president told them to think about their own dads and then recognize that Heavenly Father is the perfect Father. With that perspective, it seemed like the boys realized it won't be scary at all, rather a glorious reunion. 
But then I had this little thought, so I shared it with them. I think about my own dad and how I know him. I know when he is happy and I know when he is not. I know when he is pleased with me and I know when I could have done better. I have had to build a relationship with my own dad, and our Heavenly Father is no different. Think about it. Can you imagine going to judgement day and a Man standing before you that you don't even know? He runs up to you to give you a hug and you suddenly feel extremely awkward because you have no idea who He is. Heavenly Father knows us perfectly, but we have to come to know Him. We have to learn of who He is, when He is happy with us and when He corrects us and shows us how we could have done better. If we truly want it to be a happy reunion when we stand before the judgement bar of God, we MUST do our part. As we live the gospel of Jesus Christ, we come to know our Heavenly Father. 
A couple of the boys told me I just ruined the happiness they were looking forward to. Sorry. But it's better to figure it out now, then to have that awkward moment on the other side. 
Adios from Lice-Ville. Family: we'll chat on Sunday. 
Love you!
Sister Mal

Right before we discovered it

We had a good laugh - selfies haha!


The only way to survive a lice attack

This is proof I love Sister Sutton

Frozen Gator

Lice shampoo directions

This is how I wait for my companions


Sister Sutton and Hermione

Hermione and flamingos
Love notes from Mariah and her friend, who's a member, Michele
Tampa Zone!
Ward BBQ
The girls gave us hand paint instead of face paint.
Washing the long blond hair
Clothes for days ...
It was literally the worst!
It took hours for them to go through my hair!
I lover her!