Monday, September 29, 2014

Sacrifice of Military Families

Dear Family and Friends,

Well there isn't a whole lot to report for this week. The mission is still going good, the military is still moving people in and out of our ward, and a bunch of the fathers in our ward are about to be deployed. As missionaries we aren't supposed to discuss politics but it is interesting how being here in JC I have learned more about the current state of war than I did all the years before I came out. The difference being, for the first time in my life I finally understand how much of a sacrifice these military families actually make to serve our country. They part at each deployment not knowing if they will meet again in this life, and then they find strength in the Atonement and their temple marriages. Sad to admit, I didn't think much about the military before I left on my mission, but I know that my view has been changed forever by these families that I have had the opportunity to serve. 

Urgent: I need your help! I need you all (well those who are in Utah and already guaranteed to have the movie in your areas) to go and request that it come to Manhattan Kansas. I believe the zip codes are 67202/03 but I could be wrong so double check before you enter it :) That would be a huge help because we really want the movie to come to Kansas!

Huge news of the week. We found out our mission The Kansas Wichita Mission, is the top baptizing mission in the North American Missions! Now before you wonder how we beat the Utah missions I will explain. The North American Missions don't include those on the East Coast/ Side or those on the West. It does include the more Central US missions, Idaho, and Canada! This is a huge miracle because a year ago we were lucky to break 30 a month, last month we got 61 and this month our mission wide goal is 75. Then 85 in Oct, 95 in Nov, and finally 100 in December! We are really growing our faith and being as diligent as we can. Please keep us in your prayers that we might be able to find all of those people who will be counted among those found in the next few months. They aren't numbers each number represents someone who is found and brought to Christ!

Love you all!
Sister Blood 

 Elder Hulse and Elder Carlson, they have their suits on inside out in case you were wondering 

Look who I got to see! My "Mom" Sister McDermott

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cop gets pass a long card

Dear Family and Friends,

Wow this week had so much happen in it, I can't believe it was only last Sunday we meant our new investigator Jenaya (Jenni). Since then we have taught her lessons 1 & 2, she came to church and had a small church tour. She told us that she is really beginning to feel and believe that our message is true and that it is what she needs to help her heal from some of the trials from her past! We are so excited! You hear stories about finding insanely prepared people but I didn't think I would find one on my mission! Most the members thought she was already a member who had moved here because she dresses so modestly, she has basically the same dress standards as the Sister Missionaries do, and she adds a lot of really good insightful comments to the lessons, which is so awesome! She really is our miracle of the week, I can't believe how fast she is learning and accepting what we are teaching her, she really has been so prepared, it's not even funny!

On Saturday when we were teaching her the Plan of Salvation there was this really crazy moment when in the middle of the lesson she said "guys I have a confession..." Our minds were racing, thinking she was going to tell us she actually wasn't interested and that she had just been stringing us along... "I am actually starting to believe you guys." We freaked out and couldn't stop smiling, neither could she. She said she hadn't had as many "lightbulb" moments this close together about religion as she had during our lesson. In her prayer she thanked Heavenly Father for sending us to teacher her and "blow [her] mind", and that this was the closest religion she had hear to her own beliefs. It was so amazing!

A really cool part of our first lesson with her for me was towards the end she voiced her concern about what would happen when she let her family know that she was starting to look into the Mormon religion and that this was the path she was going to start taking. I felt so strongly the need to share a bit of Sister McCarrick's story, how she had joined the church and had her family react not to kindly and after she finally started to mend those relationships she felt impressed to go on a mission. And how unexpectedly she had been told it was time for her to go home but she had already seen some miracles in her family with their heart softening a little bit. The spirit was so strong and when I finished she thanked me and told me how much she needed to hear Sister McCarrick's story. So even though my Amazing Companion isn't here in JC her story and testimony are still touching people here and helping them to find hope and strength to continue to press on! 

Hailey's baptism went so well, there were a lot of the YW that came to support her. She has been going to YW for over a year and a half and is now finally an official member! She even decided on her own to invite a good friend from school who isn't a member! It really is so cool to see how much she has changed in just a month! Being a missionary is AWESOME!

Oh wow, another story from the week, on our way home from dinner on Tuesday we were driving with a member and they got pulled over because one of their headlights was out. When the Cop came back to give the driver his licence the member gave him a pass along card and told him to check it out! That may have been the craziest way I have even given away a card.

Love you all!
Sister Blood :)

Are Deacons  Allowed to Drive?

Hailey's Baptism

Sister Blood with pet Cockatoo

Monday, September 15, 2014

See a view that will take our breath away!

Dear Family and Friends,

This was a bit of an interesting and very long week. It feels like last p-day was two or three weeks ago. The week started out really hard but I was able to make a 180 degree change on Friday. Sister Dean shared a quote with me from a successful swimmer when he was asked what the key was to his success. He said "I kick when I don't want to kick, I stroke when I don't want to stroke." I can't even count how many times I said it this week. It really helped to keep me going this week when I really wanted to stop. And because we kept going we had an awesome miracle last night. We were on a team up with Sister Medina trying some of the possible Part member families in our branch. We knocked on a door and found out that the members had moved but we ended up talking to the very young military couple that lived there for over an hour. The wife grew up in a cult and her family got out when she was 13. She loves Christianity and has been wanting to find a church to go to. She had a really good family friend, who was an elderly gentlemen who was a member, when she was 13-16 who would bring her a copy of the ensign every month and told her about our church and his beliefs. Her parents forbid her from going to any church after their experience in the cult they had finally gotten out of, so she said reading the Ensigns was her "church" every week. She is now on date and is really excited to come to church. The more she talked to us and asked us questions about our beliefs the more excited she became. She is meant to be Mormon! 
Even though this time on a mission is incredibly hard, and sometimes very overwhelming it is 100% worth it. There will be moments like last night when we found Jenni, and moments when you see someone you have worked with for a long time make it to baptism that make all of the hard times worth it. Life is the same way, some days, weeks, and even months or years will feel so hard and like the hardship will never end, but they will. Be of good cheer and as President Uchtdorf said last conference (paraphrased) "be grateful in your hardships and don't wait for the rainbow to thank God for the rain!" When we are going through trials we can often be like someone climbing a hill, we look down out our feet staring at all of the hard boulders and rocks that are in our path, we look ahead and see a long road ahead of us that filled with obstacles along our road. We know there will be a beautiful view when we get to the top but sometimes we wonder if it will really be worth the pain of climbing. As we climb we can either be angry and bitter at how hard the things in our path are to get over, or we can look at how beautiful the trees are around us and take note of how interesting some of the things we come across are even if it is something we have to figure out how to get over. We can take heart in knowing we can look back and share with others how amazing and massive that bolder we had to get over was and how it strengthen us! Then with out even knowing it we will break through the tree line and see a view that will take our breath away!
When we are in the middle of trials it feels like that is all we will ever know, but even when we feel like we have stopped moving we just have to keep going. As Carie Thompson likes to say, "keep turtle-ing upward". We are moving forward and closer to the top of our climb, even if it feels like we have stopped. And when we really do get stuck Christ is there to help us out of the mud, or over the rocks that are too big to climb. Take heart, he isn't there just when you need help with what you can't do on your own, he is there with you every single step, he walks and climbs beside you. He is always there talking to you and encouraging you to keep going. He has climbed this hill before and he knows the best route. He is our Savior and our Older Brother. He loves us more than we can imagine. This I know with all my heart in the name of Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Love you all
Sister Blood    

Hills and Trees in Junction City

Are these sunsets for real? 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Sister McCarrick

Dear Family and Friends,

This was probably the hardest week of my mission, and possibly my life! Saying Goodbye to Sister McCarrick was really rough, as proof by the fact I actually cried... a lot! My companions and the people I serve around tease me about the fact I never cry. But I did when I said goodbye to Sister McCarrick, shows how much praying for charity and the ability to help someone can change you! Being Sister McCarrick's companion was honestly one of the best experiences I have had on my mission, it is 6 weeks where I was able to grow and really understand how Christ loves us each individually! 
Other than transfers, and becoming companions with the Awesome Sister Howell (I don't have a picture, but I did take a picture with her and send home clear back in February); this week consisted of getting sick. Apparently there is this random bug going around which has had a huge outbreak in Kansas and Missouri. It was not fun being down for more than half the week, but I am on the mend now! And I wasn't surprised  I got sick since this now makes 5 or 6 years in a row of being sick the week of Labor Day. 

That sums up the week,

Love you all, and thanks for the prayers you send Heaven ward for the sake of the missionaries!

~Sister Blood :)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Biggest Roller Coaster of My Mission

 Dear Family and Friends,

This letter is really long, just so ya know. This week has been the biggest roller coaster of my mission, possibly my entire life. Really it all boils down to what happened Friday.

We had been able to set up a time for our investigator Lavida to be interviewed by our mission president in hopes that we would be able to move her baptism date forward from February to November. She ended up having a funeral in Manhattan and was going to be cutting it really close, to when she was supposed to be at the church for her appointment, with President Bell, at noon. We had been stressing since the night before re-arranging things with the schedule with her and the APs to make sure it was going to work out. But much to our relief she was on time. She went into the interview and then after what felt like a very long time she came out in tears with President Bell and he said, "She is getting baptized next Saturday!" our reaction was thus "Wait, is this a joke?" "Are you serious?!" 
We were so excited and were talking to her about it and realized that since transfers were this week Elder Hamblin, who played a huge part in her conversion, would miss her baptism, and she wanted him to be the one to baptize her. So we ran to grab President Bell before he left, to see if we could move the baptism. He told us we could do it the next day, or Sunday after Church. We decided to do it Sunday, which thus put into the works an amazing baptism. 
The baptism was amazing! She has been investigating for 4 months a lot of the branch knows her and many people stayed after to support her! She was so happy after she came out of the water.  She was crying because she felt so happy and loved! And then when she was confirmed she had a great feeling of peace come over her that she told us excitedly Monday hadn't left her yet! I know it meant so much to Sister McCarrick to be here with her when she was baptized since they found Lavida in her first transfer here.

That was the joyful part of the week, but Friday also was really hard. Sister McCarrick has been the greatest example of endurance and trusting in God. Her family has been very unsupportive of her as she has been on her mission. (She is a convert to the Church, and the only member in her family). So she asked President Bell if she could meet with him on Friday when he came up to interview Lavida. She was expecting to get advice on how to continue to cope and help her family, feel more at peace with her decision to be serving a mission. So it was a huge shock when President Bell told her that the feeling he was getting was that she was supposed to go home. She told him she didn't want to go home. And so he counseled her to call home that evening and then pray about what she was supposed to do. 
By a huge miracle the Sister Training Leaders felt that we should have a second exchange with them and that one of them would spend the day with us in a tri-pansionship, and the other would be in Manhattan with the University Sisters. Even though she was struggling with the decision she had to make, Sister McCarrick still followed through with our plan to have two splits. Which means one of us would stay with Sister Roquemore (our STL) and the other would go out with a member of the ward or branch their our companion. I went out with Sister Medina in the morning, and she went with Sister Wells in the afternoon. We taught a ton of lessons and found three new investigators! 
I had been feeling sick all day and had been getting worse progressively all day Friday. I felt like the area in my abdomen was going to kill me because of how much pain I was in. By the time we all went back to the church and the other STL Sister Dean joined us so that Sister McCarrick could call home.  I was in so much pain I was lying on a pew trying to not breath, because of how much it hurt. The Branch President and his Counselor were there and gave me a blessing of healing. Then sister Dean took me back to the apartment while Sister Roquemore stayed with Sister McCarrick, while she called home. Blessings really work, two hours later my pain had left, just in time for Sister McCarrick to return to the apartment after talking to her family.
After talking with them and them telling her to come home, she said she would call them back when she decided. She prayed and read her scriptures and then went and told Sister Roquemore that she was staying. Sister Roquemore talked to her about it and asked if Heavenly Father was there would she go home, and would she listen if it was just a quite voice telling her she needed to return home. They talked more and Sister McCarrick finally said, " I think I need to go home" and with those words she finally felt peace that she has not felt in months. 
Watching her listen to Heavenly Father and accept what He needed her to do, even though it wasn't what she wanted or wasn't expecting has been a HUGE learning experience for me and I feel very privileged to have been her companion for this last transfer. I have cried more in the last three weeks than the rest of my mission combined. I don't want to let her go because I know she has a hard road to walk, especially for the next few months, but I KNOW that she is doing God's will because I have felt peace and comfort as has President Bell, Sister Roquemore, and Sister Dean. This is Gods work, and his plan. She listened to him that she needed to come on a mission, and she is listening to him now as he tells her she has finished the mission he needed her to do and has another plan in mind for her! I love her so much and cannot express how privileged I feel to have been her companion!

Love you all 
Sister Blood  
Elder Hamblin & Lavida

Lavida & Sister McCarrick

 Sister Blood, Lavida, Elder Hamblin, & Sister McCarrick
Sister Blood, "True Kansas Wichita Missionary"