Monday, August 3, 2015

We Lived After The Manner Of Happiness

Week   74   4:10 pm EDT    We Lived After The Manner Of Happiness

To everyone who is still reading these emails - 
(way to hang on to the bitter end; talk about enduring well)

"How great reason have we to rejoice; for could we have supposed when we started...that God would have granted unto us such great blessings?"  - Alma 26:1

The last week of a mission is odd. For all of us old timers, think of an emotion and it probably feels like that for at least one of us.

We have seen miracles happen this past week and great things are happening left and right, which doesn't make it any easier to leave. I know that this is the most worthwhile thing I could have ever chosen, because it has brought me and those I love closer to the Savior.

Endings are hard. But the end of a mission is not the end of discipleship. or testimony. or conviction. or capability. or potential.

"In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings.

Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny.
The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions—temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful.
How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings." - Dieter F. Utchdorf

death surely has no sting.
sister bishop

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith"
2 Timothy 4:7

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Almost home

This week will be Elizabeth's last letter home while serving as a Missionaary for the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints.  We have witnessed many, many miracles and have received so many blessings as she has been serving in the Washington Tacoma Mission.

I am looking forward to seeing Elizabeth this week, hugging her, and to hear her experiences as a missionary.  I have missed her so much, but as much as I miss her and want to see, talk, and be together, our Heavenly Father feels the same way about all His children but on a much deeper level.   I am so grateful for His love and the chance that Elizabeth has had to help bring His children home.

Thank you for all your support, letters, love and prayers.


Miracles Happen Once In A While

Week 73  July 27, 2015    4:20 pm EDT    Miracles Happen Once In A While

Friends, let me tell you a little bit about miracles.

1. they're real.
2. they're undeserved.
3. they're happening in Lacey.

There we were, weekly planning for what felt like the sixth hour, when our zone leader asks us if we have a particular address in our area and lets us know Soundview will give us a referral.
We figure it's just a solid referral but when Sister Lomu calls that night she gives us all the details: Brittany, a convert of a few years, has two sons that want to be baptized. This weekend.They've been taught everything, passed their baptism interviews and since they just moved this week will now be baptized in the Lacey 3rd ward. 
Straight out of left field, we had a baptism to plan and coordinate in less than 24 hours for a family we've never met.
So needless to say. it's been quite the week.

Domenic is 9, is adorably smart and was able to be baptized on Sunday. His brother older Jeiden is 11 and will be baptized next weekend so other family members can make it to his.


Jessica was also able to attend the baptism and loved it. So really, life is good.
I honestly didn't think anything like this would happen my last weeks but God certainly works miracles in the 11th hour.

"For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the worldthat I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith." 2 Nephi 27:23

Apparently dying missionaries rival even greenie faith. 

The rest of the week was also exceptional, but somehow pales compared to craziness of this weekend. So I've give it to you in pictures 

Burning dresses for Harris' year mark:

Birthday shenanigans with the Lacey and Olympia sisters​

Numbered birthday love notes left by Sister Harris for me to find on the strangest and "old lady"-est items in the house 

Going to Girls Camp and giving trainings (:

MMA Street fights in the Tanglewilde (home sweet home sweet home.)

(3 Nephi 11:29 - "For verily, verily say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contentionis not of me, but is of the devilwho is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.")

An exchange with Sister Julien (just sticking the old ladies together for the day, nbd.)

Getting attacked by a great dane/rottweiler named Thor. #realmissionarystatus
**no picture needed.**
(and thank heavens for the retired nurses in Lacey 3rd)

​Street contacting at the Annual Mushroom Festival...

It's been an adventure.
A miraculous adventure.
sincerely from the senior sister,


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summertime And The Livin' Is Easy

week 72  July 20, 2015  3:45 pm EDT   Summertime And The Livin' Is Easy

Have I mentioned that I love summer?
(Because I do.)

Since it has been so nice out (and because we all get a little ADD when stuck inside the apartment for hours on end), Sister Harris and I have been doing our weekly planning out in the park. Thankfully Thursday mornings aren't prime for Tanglewilde shenanigans so it's actually productive. (though to note: the Tanglewilde's got nothing on Parkland)

Even so, Sister Harris still gets a bit...undone by the end of weekly planning.

Meanwhile, all us missionaries in Washington have been supplementing our diets with the blackberries that grow wild everywhere.
Every time I turn around, Harris is dangling precariously over thorns and berries.

This week we had Jessica pretty much come out of nowhere, so prepared, asking us how baptism works. She had spoken with some Spanish Elders, has been learning on her own from and, came on an amazing church tour and brought her own bread for the sacrament on Sunday. She loves everything from the Relief Society lesson, to the safety she feels in the chapel, to the "Meet The Mormons" movie she watched on netflix. We are praying nothing will come up that will keep her from being baptized on August 1.

We also found Kathy while knocking a street in the middle of nowhere that we weren't even positive had any houses. It was a whole string of events that led her to be sitting on there her parents' porch thinking about her own faith and her own prodigal son when we walked up and were able to talk to her for almost an hour. She is so excited about the Book of Mormon and the peace she feels.

Sometimes things just come easily or at least it appears so - we don't always recognize just how much time and effort and planning has gone into every aspect of the miracles we see each day. How much God has been teaching and preparing and aligning things to work out just perfectly for us to be where and with exactly who he needs us to be.

On my exchange with Sister Harward we knocked into the kindest people all night. (I think something about living on the water can make people a bit more content with life and thus, less angsty about talking with missionaries.) An elderly man named Dick really needed the opportunity to pray and was so grateful we were there. Since his wife had died he didn't have anyone to appreciate her dahlias, so he sent us into his vast garden to make bouquets to take with us.

When his wife was alive, he would accompany her to countless dahlia shows and conventions because dahlias were her pride and joy. At one of the conventions she was standing amidst all the dahlias and he was standing against the wall when another man asked him, "Don't you just love dahlias?", to which he thought and replied,
"No, actually! I don't love dahlias at all.
But I love Evelyn. And Evelyn loves dahlias. And that is a good enough reason for me."

Some things about missionary work or life aren't easy or come easily or are easy to love. I don't always love being out all day every day in the rain or the heat, always being exhausted from working and worrying, or trying to talk to everyone possible, or getting bitten by dogs or having guns pulled on you or seeking after the one, or struggling and striving and placing trust outside of yourself and expecting miracles.
It isn't easy to give all of yourself.
But I love my Heavenly Father.
And Heavenly Father loves these things, because it allows His children to come home. And so I can love these things too. It is a good enough reason for me.


P.S. Just how little time you have left becomes so much more real when your milk has the same expiration day you do.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Country Roads, Take Me Home

Week 71  July 13, 2015     3:59 pm EDT        Country Roads, Take Me Home

This week has been full of exchanges, good things with silly friends, and silly things with good friends. 

Life is winding down and speeding up at the same time and I've become a paradox of emotion. But life goes on with or without you, so it's best to keep up and find joy in it.

Sometimes I forget that we live in western Washington, and western Washington is forest at heart and sometimes wilderness by choice. 
And then I see this:

and I remember that this place isn't always as urbanized as I think.​
(to which Sister Harris replies by singing, "makin' my way down town, walking fast, faces pass and I'm homebound")

Sometimes it feels like we are just wandering, but we are never truly lost. There is purpose in the journey we take, regardless of detours or setbacks.

More often than not, I feel like we are "wanderers in a strange land" (see Alma 13:23) because if you haven't noticed, the pacific northwest is a pretty strange place. Also pretty. And just strange. But we do not wander aimlessly - on a mission or in life. We have purpose, and responsibilities,  roles that only we can fill, eternities that only we can change. We are here because we came to succeed. We need not ever feel lost. Heavenly Father gave us a first class, round trip ticket - paid in full by Jesus Christ - to bring us home. So it's up to us to live up to that privilege.

Until next time,

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Let Freedom Ring

Week 70  July 6, 2015    4:15 EDT     Let Freedom Ring

Happy Birthday, America.

The Fourth of July is a bit different for missionaries (actually, every day is a bit different for missionaries, but I digress.)
We were able to knock early, focus on sharing family history, spend the day with members, and be in early enough to avoid too many shenanigans.

It's the time of year when fireworks and gun shots intermingle and become indistinguishable (which may almost send your companion into cardiac arrest on occasion.)

We talked with people about family history, genealogy work and cultural heritage and actually found people who were super interested (one man even used to be a host at the family history library in Olympia and brought out family histories he had written and lots of old pictures.) #SpiritOfElijah

It's been hotter here than most of us are comfortable with, but thankfully Sister Harris found a way to cool down.

yes. those are ice packs and various frozen foods.)

And as a general rule, if you are able to befriend the neighborhood dogs, they probably won't bite you.

We were invited to a Samoan luau in the afternoon - complete with a roasted pig. Needless to say, we left happy and well-fed.     #AllenmoreDreamin'

We spent the rest of the day with members and missionaries - chilling in the cool of the trees and playing games

Independence Day - our day of freedom. The 4th of July is the one holiday that allows us to celebrate every other holiday (and holy day). It is our privilege as a free people.

It is our privilege to "stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1) 

"The Spirit of God which is also the Spirit of Freedom" (Alma 61:15) gives us opportunity to remember Christ's sacrifice in our behalf and lets us retain "the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Romans 8:21)

"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Corinthians 3:17)

- Elizabeth

p.s. Mindy and Chloe set a temple date: August 27th!
p.p.s. the trunky papers came in (talk about underwhelming and overwhelming at the same time.)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Only The Good Die Young

Week 69  June 29, 2015  6:23 pm EDT     Only The Good Die Young

Time is short, so I made a list. Because everyone likes lists.

Things learned this week:
- stinging nettle comes from Satan himself
- how to cut curly hair
- old age is a pain. literally and figuratively.
- if you can quote movies well enough, you won't miss watching them
- how to pop a shoulder back into socket
- the power of everyday miracles: flipping nigh-impossible u-turns to avoid backing (for the record, Ford Fusions have the turning radius of a boat)
- the entire Relief Society Rap by Alex Boyé
- how to really stretch a dollar, a quarter gallon of gas and a roll of toilet paper
- stalkers happen. ET's happen (not the phone home kind.) and good things are always cut too short.
- sleepovers are always a solution.

​​- sometimes mourning with those that mourn and bearing another's burdens just involves being there.  or better yet, being there with ice cream.
- prank wars never get old, even if you do.
- if you truly want to love someone, learn their love language and actually use it.
- how to maneuver in traffic with a black box.
- tracting treasures will always be fun to find.

​- air conditioning is not mandatory, but it probably should be.
- if you need a reminder that there is still good in the world, teach Primary.
- sometimes you're the last person to recognize changes in yourself.

- there are few things as powerful as last words, especially when bearing testimony.
- time only accelerates.
- missions are forever.

"And inasmuch as ye are humble and faithful and call upon my name, behold, I will give you the victory."
(D&C 104:82) 


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Let Zion In Her Beauty Rise

Week 68       June 22, 2015  3:55 pm EDT         Let Zion In Her Beauty Rise

Last Stop: Lacey

Sister Harris and I are going one more round together here in Lacey 3rd - so it seems I'm in my final resting place. All the "Senior Sister" jokes are starting to get a bit old (oh the irony) but only becoming more accurate.

And for more transfer buzz: Sister Kramer will be training - so I'll finally be a grandma (again, the old lady jokes are becoming so real.)

This past week was awesome. Another week full of road trips and reunions.
First and foremost, Debbi had her baptism - her transformation over the past few months has been amazing - her family has been through the ringer, but her and her family are wanting to get to the temple so they can be sealed together and to their parents.

We then skedaddled back to Parkland for Pierre's baptism. Blessed Parkland.
I'll take you down memory lane real quick - Peirre married the Parkland Bishop's daughter Nicholle last summer. Pierre has attended church for the past year with her and the family, but didn't feel the need to be baptized. While sitting in Stake conference, he finally realized that he needed to be with Nicholle for forever. So he told Bishop he wanted to be baptized, read entire The Book of Mormon in three weeks, set a date for him and Nicholle to be sealed in the Logan temple in a year and was baptized on Saturday.
I'm pretty sure I got more hugs from walking into that church building than I have had in the past few transfers combined. Parkland will always be where I belong.
(President didn't receive the same revelation I did that I should double out the elders and die there haha.)

Our mission headed up to Zion's Camp in good old Belfair (lemme just visit all my old areas in one week haha)
Sister Harris, Madsen, Heaton and I facilitated the ropes courses for the sisters; it was an entirely different learning experience from last year being on our end of the courses. The theme through out Zions Camp was becoming like the people of Ammon - facing insurmountable challenges with faith, supporting each other's weaknesses with our strengths, developing trust and letting go of what holds us back.

What do we choose to take with us? What do we choose to leave behind?

Lay aside your weapons of war - fight against God no more.
(​see Alma 23:7)

Onward ever onward.

- elizabeth

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Reunited and It Feels So Good

Week 67   June 15, 2015      3:58 EDT        Reunited And It Feels So Good

This week has been full of all the things.
Think this:

Things are moving along well in Lacey - we have a few new investigators that have really benefitted from our refocused and simple lessons. Lorainne, Cameron, Tien and Cassidy all want to be baptized (!)
So I'll be sure to keep y'all posted on my end of all this

We had a great exchange with the Olympia 4th Sisters Rasmussen and Carr. Sister Carr is anything but green and is already a powerhouse teacher. We also saw the ugliest cat alive. Exhibit A:

Our mission was pleased as punch to have Brother Gonzales and Hemmingway (a director and manager of proselyting from Salt Lake and the MTC) come and give a phenomenal training about the Doctrine of Christ, teaching simply, planning and goal setting and helping all we meet come closer to the Savior.
It was an all day affair, but oh so good.

The next day we also had a leadership training for Zion's Camp this week - so some of our best friends were able to stay with us for the night and drive with us 
Time with Sister Brewster and Swann are always good times (:

We were also able to attend Lincoln's baptism in Belfair, which was very spiritual and emotional. It made such an impact on Lincoln's older sister who has been struggling to commit to be baptized but wants to (her biological dad is Catholic and she's afraid he'll want to sever ties) and now knows the amazing amount of proven support she has. So many of the missionaries that taught her were there and she was crying from the all love for her and her brother. Lincoln's father and grandparents were there - all nonmembers; the father was very supportive of Lincoln making his own choices from the beginning, but the baptism was a big turning point for him as well. Sister Diener was able to talk with him about what he felt and he wants to learn more for himself now. This family just keeps getting closer and closer to being together forever. It's awesome.

Lincoln being a stud with all the sister missionaries

Sister Harris and I finally got to cash in on having our babies (Sister Kramer and Warburton) serve together in Belfair - sweet, sweet reunion. ​

​Sister Harris and I were also asked last minute to speak on Sunday - because missionaries never say no to an opportunity to teach and testify and all that jazz. Especially on the spot.

Please just remember that I love you and that I love this work.
No effort is ever wasted in helping people feel the love God has for them.

- elizabeth

Monday, June 15, 2015

Here Comes The Sun

Week 66  June 8, 2015   8:53 pm EDT   Here Comes The Sun

Hello hello -

This week has been full of some pretty awesome things. Scott was able to be baptized on Saturday and Sister Rasmussen and Diener (and their companions) were able to come back for it.

 Scott was able to receive an answer to be baptized in a dream, just like he (and we) prayed he would. He is super excited to keep moving forward, learning and making new friends in the church. 

Pro Tips from Lacey:

* If you want to be part of the in crowd, name your children after leafy greens - we have three kids in the 3rd ward named Kale. (yep.)

* Invest in fiber.

* Find the right size of baptism suit before the baptism. It's less awkward for all involved this way.

* Check for screens before putting a fan in the second-story window. It'll make your night go a whole lot easier.

* If you go on an exchange, remember to bring clothes for the next day. 

* If you go on an exchange, remember to not leave your clothes behind the next day.

* If you go on an exchange, remember to not leave your clothes behind the next day.

* Actually read the label on medicine to avoid giving your companion four times the recommended dose of allergy medicine. Again, it'll make your night go a whole lot easier.

* Keeping consecrated oil on you will come in handy. You might just save the day.

* You can come to the conclusion that your bishop is a dead ringer for Steve Carrell  and Tom Hanks with a military haircut (and minus the humor), just don't tell him that conclusion.

* Fresh cut flowers will look great at your baptism, the bugs and spiders that accompany them, will not.

* If you can't get an acceptable selfie after three tries, you probably won't, so just stop.

* Pain is inevitable, but suffering is a choice.

* When going to a 5 Stake Youth Dance Festival, remember that it will be hotter than hades inside the pavilion.   Also, Restoration and Plan of Salvation pamphlets make great fans for such occasions.

* Pay attention to the kids - you'll find new people to teach, new friends and people who are ready to learn and listen. Don't overlook 'em.

* Moving in after elders who leave everything behind will actually come in handy when your recent convert has a need for white shirts, ties and dress pants. 

* Service opportunities involving cuddly baby animals will always make you smile.

* Relate everything in District Meeting to the Testaments to prove that you're a real missionary...

* Remember that if you enlist the help of six elders to help you move quickly and efficiently, the move will end up being neither of those things (though you'll get out of a lot of heavy lifting).

* Wearing a bag of ice on your head will help you beat the heat on hot days in the sun.

* Seeing the people you love from your first area afar off will turn you into that freaky sister missionary who runs after people in parking lots screaming. And you won't care.

Life has been good. It really has. And it hasn't slowed down at all. 
Lacey's been a great place to learn new things and remember things we've learned before.
It seems to me that is what this life really is about, to learn from experience all the things that we had been taught previously. Our time here is short (see Elder Stevenson's talk 'Your Four Minutes" for more on that subject) but we've been well-prepared for it. We were born to learn, grow, thrive, succeed. You were born to lead, and you were born for glory (see Isaiah 62:2–3).

- elizabeth

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Final Countdown

Week 65  June 1, 2015   2:59 pm EDT   The Final Countdown

Things are crazy busy in Lacey - moving out the elders:

moving all the necessities out of our apartment:

​tracting in what seems to be the middle of nowhere:

and prepping for three baptisms (woot woot!)
We are booked solid these days and we have no time to do it all - which is a good problem to have, I suppose.

This week we also had an exchange with in Deschutes River (way out there past Yelm) - it was a gorgeous day to spend in the boonies with Sister Barker and Harward. 

To take a line from the good old white handbook, let me remind you all just how fast time flies when you don't want it to (it is really a fickle thing, time.)
Time is one of the most precious resources Heavenly Father has given us. The period when we are able to serve the Lord with all our time and all our efforts is extremely short - so use it fully and wisely. This opportunity is a privilege, a blessing, and the most worthwhile endeavor.

Until next time, 
peace an blessin's.