Thursday, August 10, 2017

The One With The Goodbyes

Quote of the Week: (from an elder)
"I'm effing allergic to bees!" 

Hey Y'all!
I don't even know what this week was.
Turns out I am not going to be in a trio after all! 

This week we had to say a few goodbyes. Sister Ferre that I have served around my whole mission went home and a couple of elders. Also someone that has come out and taught with us a lot, Nicky, left to serve his mission in Korea. 
I did service for the Louisiana State Museum. They have all of the library from New Orleans in their basement. BOXES AND BOXES of books! All from when Hurricane Katrina hit. We went and archived books for hours. It was actually super interesting! We had to wear masks and gloves. It was very official. We found this book from the 1880's and it was basically ruined. But it was braille! It was the coolest book ever! They have archived hundreds of boxes since Katrina and they are still not done. That is 7 years worth of labor! 

But this week I wanted to focus on someone we are teaching. 
His name is Jack. He is a 29 year old man from South Africa who lost his fiancee in a car accident. Since then, he has been drinking himself to death. He is stuck in a dead end job and truly believes that there is no point in his life, or life in general. Jack is the smartest person I have ever met and cares for his dog, Maleficent (or Millie) more than he cares about anything else. My companion, Sister Hurd, met Jack in November of 2016. She got transferred out. Since then he has gotten into anti upon anti online. He knows more about our church than any other person. But for some reason he has never run away. He even gave us an 84 page booklet of anti that he ordered online. (which I have read and none of it is valid btw) But now Sister Hurd is back, with me. He stays and listens to the lessons we have to teach. Jack's job is the reason why he chooses unhealthy ways to deal with his problems. He has attended a 12 step program with us. We made a promise with Jack that if we found him a job that he would quit everything cold turkey. The next day we found him 3 job opportunities. We have yet to hear but I will keep you updated. 
The point of this biography on Jack, is I need some help. On Sunday, we shared "hard-day scriptures" or scriptures that we use to get us through our hard times. I am trying to compile a list to help give Jack some hope for his life. And I am recruiting y'all! This is your opportunity to be a missionary! (YAY)

To start things off here is mine. 
Doctrine and Covenants 45:62 "For verily I say unto you, great things await you."
❤Sister Kezos

I love y'all! Now please help me help Jack!

(This is Louis Armstrong's!)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The One With The Dolls

Quote of the week (and new life philosophy):
*drinking root beer out of wine glasses "I don't understand why you have to drink alcohol to be able to drink out of pretty glasses."

Hey Y'all!
Super crazy week, lemma tell ya! A sister in the mission lost some family members unexpectedly and had to fly home for the services, so she came to be in a trio with the other sisters in our apartment. SO THERE ARE 5 PEOPLE LIVING IN OUR APARTMENT. But it is just for a week, then she goes back, and then Sister Ferre goes home. Then Sister Uibel, Sister Hurd, and I are going to be in a trio for 3 weeks. This is going to be an adventure! 

Anyways, after I signed off last week we went to the Baton Rouge Old State Capitol. The view was insane! 
The man who built it was actually murdered inside and they still have a bullet hole (cool fact!)

Last week we were looking at a map of Baton Rouge (to find out where some members live) and a sister found some tiny writing and it said The Enchanted Doll Museum. So obviously we were totally interested. So we went to visit it. Turns out it has been closed for over a year. And for some reason, being the missionaries that we are, we knocked on the door. Twice. And someone actually opened the door. They told us they were having an estate sale that weekend and so we offered to help. (never turn down a service opportunity) So they gave us a tour, and it is totally haunted. They had hundreds of dolls. and So many creepy ones. And we went back throughout the week to help as well. I know way too much about dolls now. I'm not going to put pictures because I don't want y'all to get haunted or something. 

Then on Sunday we got to have dinner with Elder Bluth's wife (area seventy!) She was so sweet.

Sorry this is so short, Love y'all!
Sister Kez

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The One With The Big Mess

Hey y'all! 

This has been the most crazy, wild, overwhelming couple weeks of my life! I'm sorry I haven't done anything the past couple weeks, it's because I was crying because my life is a mess. If you haven't heard, I was transferred. My trainer stayed in New Iberia and I was transferred to Baton Rouge. 
We spent the whole week telling everyone that she was leaving (because she was there for 6 months and I was there for 3) She had packed her bags and everything. They were by the door, she had said goodbye and had taken pictures with everyone... she was leaving for sure we thought. But that morning I got the call. I was leaving the next morning. I had to say goodbye to as many I could and pack my bags, because it never crossed our minds that I would leave, so I didn't even touch my stuff.
The next day we headed to the stake center an hour and a half away for transfers. Plus side, I got to see most of my MTC district! That was amazing! I met my new companion Sister Hurd! I love her so much! We found out that we were getting doubled in (they were taking both of the previous missionaries out and put us both in) so neither of us knew the area. They took out the Elders and put us in, so we got their phone, car, and their apartment. And they took the sisters out in Baton Rouge North and the sisters in the neighboring area, Prairieville. So we got doubled into 3 areas, which has never happened! To say I'm overwhelmed is an understatement. We got to the apartment and we basically cried. Elders are so disgusting y'all. We spent three days cleaning and 43 nerf guns, 2 sombreros, 15 trash bags, and 7 breakdowns later we were done. (who needs 43 nerf guns?!) And we live with two other sisters! Which is called a quadpan, so naturally we call it the squadpan. 

We have met quite a few investigators that are SOLID. The work is so awesome here in BR. And we have an investigator who is on date for baptism!
Surprise surprise we had to speak in ONE of our wards. That's right we have two wards we are over! I went from a small branch to the two biggest wards in Louisiana. Which means 6 hours of church #sos 
Then we had pday with all of the nerf guns. We had a war with the zone. (Not as cool as it sounds) 
Then we got stalked by some drunk dudes but I'm not going to get into that but the Lord protects! And I hit my 4 month mark! It's so crazy! And I sack raced Sister Uibel (of the squadpan) at the ward pioneer activity. And also our first counselor invented the Voodoo flavor of Zapps chips (if y'all know what those are) and that is the coolest thing ever. 

Missions are awesome and hard and overwhelming but WORTH IT!

Sister Kez

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The One Where Freedom Doesn't Ring

Get it? Cause my mom is Freedom and it was Independence Day?

Anyway, here is an update:

Tuesday, June 27th
Had a "funeral" for one of our elders, Elder Floyd. He is by far the funniest human ever. He is so apathetic and he is super sarcastic. He is from Vegas so we put a Vegas skyline on the chalkboard and instead of playing amazing grace we just played slot machine noises lol. Then we all went to a jank pizza place lol. And we went to the Johnson family. They are the most adorable family ever. He served his mission in South America and she majored in Spanish and now they are both Spanish teachers. and their kids are bilingual now. Except the baby one speaks in spanglish and it is so cute. He legit sounds like a little mouse. and he just wants to be held all the time. 

Wednesday, June 28th
We went to a place called Poche's with the Chappelles and I had rice that was filled with chicken liver and gizzard and it was hecka spicy but wasn't too bad. And they told us a story of how she hustled a man in Vegas so that was cool. 

Thursday, June 29th
We had family home evening with Williams. Solange (his granddaughter) said she loves our church and wants to be taught! She is adorable. Some guy asked Sis. Manuma what her race was in the gas station and she said Samoan. and he turned to me and was like "you too?" and I was like "uh.. I'm from Utah." LOL

Friday, June 30th
Elder Hall from my mtc district went home this morning because he tore his acl and had to go home to get surgery and he won't be back for 6-9 months! 

Saturday, July 1st
New mission president got in!! Went to another baptism for the Lafayette sisters. Basically diabetes because they had so much dessert. The park next to our apartment had a soft grand opening and fourth of July kickoff so we walked there. It is the biggest park ever! They have two baseball arenas, two ponds, tons of basketball courts and tennis courts, a splash pad, a football field, a soccer field, and two playgrounds. It's legit! And right next to our house! #contactingGOLD!! They had fireworks and it was amazing! But it was so unbelievably hot. It was kind of miserable. 

Sunday, July 2nd
fast Sunday. We visited a less active who just had surgery to remove her salivary gland. Yep, her salivary gland because she had stones. Yikes.

Monday, July 3rd
We drove to Baton Rouge early to "heart attack" the new mission president's house. And then we had the most amazing zone conference ever! I am so excited for this mission president. He is amazing. He said a lot of things I really needed to hear. He is so on fire too, he memorized EVERY missionary in the mission's name and where they are from before he even got here.

(Getcha someone who looks @ you the way Smeltz does)

Tuesday, July 4th
YAY! We had two meal appointments and ate more than I ever have in my life. but so good! Didn't really get to see fireworks. But we played a haunted game and it was so fun! (I won too!) But we are having the real pday/fourth of July celebration today. With BBQ sparklers and everything with the whole district! I guess I will tell y'all about it next week. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

The One With The Tropical Storm

Quotes of the Week:
"You don't take pics on tropical storm days!"
"Holy cow!....That's what Moses said"

Alright y'all... you probably already know how bad I am at this...but I am going to try again!
Sorry I haven't been emailing and such but I suck and I just want to talk to my mom #notsorry

But this week I thought I should probably let y'all know I am alive. As you may have heard (or not idk) there was a tropical storm named Cindy that hit Louisiana. I was on exchanges with one of my sister training leaders in my area, while my companion was at LSU with the other sister training leader. This was the weather report for that morning. (This phone is older than a dinosaur and this is the only way we can check the weather.)


We called our mission president's wife to ask her what we should do because we were supposed to be exchanging back that day. She told us to pack bags and 72 hour kits and head to Baton Rouge to be on lockdown at their apartment. So we called the other sisters and told them to stock up on food, turn the fridge on the highest setting, and fill their car with gas and we headed our way to Baton Rouge. Luckily, as we traveled the weather was fine so we made it safely. When we got there, we were informed that we weren't on lockdown anymore but we were told we couldn't drive back to Broussard until we got the thumbs up from President. So we double worked the area with the STL's. We went to LSU to go to the insitute class. (mormon religion class in college) and then the Bishop took us all out to Fat Cow for lunch. It was awesome. They make fries that they fry in duck fat. Sounds disgusting-but so good! I had a creole cream cheese malt, and now I know what heaven is like. Then we got the okay to go home. I was hoping we could be the new LSU sisters too.

The next day I hit my 3 month mark! It's so crazy, I can't believe that I have been gone for that long. The work makes it FLY by. 
Speaking of the work... I had my first baptism! Williams finally got baptized on Saturday! It was so amazing and spiritual. He is the cutest and he giggled when he came out of the water. 
2 Nephi 31: Nephi is on his death bed and he uses his last dying breathes to talk about the importance of baptism. He was surrounded by his loved ones and he wanted to be surrounded by them in the next life too, so he taught them about baptism. It is so amazing to see Williams have this wonderful experience and to be so filled with joy that he giggled. He is a child of God and I know that Heavenly Father was smiling down on him that day. This work is so unbelievably hard but it is so worth it. 

Give 'em Heaven!
...and also email me. 

Sister Tessara Kezos

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The One Where Everyone Cries

"'Manuma, what are your favorite kind of lays?" "I like any kind of flower leis and money leis...oh you meant the chips?" #gohome #polyAF #FreshOffTheBoat 

I'm so sorry y'all for being M.I.A these past few weeks. My life has been so crazy! And the Adversary has definitely been working on me lately, so I apologize. Anyways, here is my two/three week update:

> We had Sister Belnap's funeral because she is dying. (Aka stupid mission jargon meaning she is going home this transfer.)

> Exchanges. Exchanges. Exchanges. I've basically been in Baton Rouge this whole time. 

> Prez and Sister Hansen are also "dying" so they had their last conferences with us before they go home and we get a new Prez!

> We FINALLY had investigators at church! #thechurchistrue

> I touched a live frog


> It's been a year since I graduated. Wait. What.

> We met a lady who has 24 siblings but didn't even have her own tv show

> My sister is having a GURL

> We got locked out of our car.
> Two days later we had a waterballoon fight outside in the rain and got locked out of the chapel with no shoes, phones, or car keys.

> I had my first zone conference! Best quote ever from Prez Hansen (on trying to get to heaven and you make one mistake) "Doggonit you're damned." + I had to say the prayer!

> We had 11 kids in primary and 9 of them were investigators!


> We thought we were getting pulled over but really he thought we were just a missing Asian girl.

> Got told I was "white on the outside but black on the inside" #thx

Our district is getting split apart, which is so sad cause they are the raddest. Sister Belnap is going home, Elder Wright and 
Elder Flores are being transferred as well.

Also on a more serious note, Sister Manuma had a loss in her family and is having a very hard time. Prayers would be much appreciated!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The One With The InvestiGATORS

"How did they do it in High School Musical?" "They took it individually not with each other." "NO THEY DIDN'T" *Elder McCormies on the High School Musical jumping picture.

Weird things I ate this week:
*Crawfish Fettucine
*Tobasco Icecream
*Frog legs

After signing off last week, our district headed to Avery Island. Avery Island is home to the Tobasco factory...and a random Buddha statue. Anyways, Tobasco needs to chill cause they have everything: tobasco guitars, tobasco soda, if you can think it they had it. Also tobasco stinks. Like bad. 
But we were hooligans with the giant tobasco bottles #thugmormons

Then we went to the rest of Avery Island. AND I FINALLY SAW MY FIRST ALLIGATOR, #CRIKEY by the end, I saw like 5! Since we have an Aussie in our district, we had him be our tour guide. 
"They are just sitting in the water... uh, I don't really know that much about alligators." 
We hiked to the Buddha statue, Elder Cohen was singing Reflection of course. It seriously looked like we were in Japan. 
We tried like 80000X to take a jumping picture, (hence the quote at the top.) 
And we never even got one lol. ​

Wednesday was cray cray y'all. The storms were so bad that we were put on lockdown and tornado watch. It was raining and flooding so hard that we didn't leave our apartment the whole entire day. When we are on put on lockdown we have to put helmets on. (but we only kept it on for like 1 minute.) We could have made good use of our time but instead I made a bucket list. #yolo

Also I bet you can guess what else we did this week. That is right! We went to ANOTHER festival!! WOOP. The Crawfish Festival in Breaux Bridge!
 Sad thing is they only played Zydeco Cajun music. And really we just want to listen to some apostate music y'feel. I tried frog legs for the first time! It's so gross. I don't know why them guys in Princess and the Frog were all excited to eat Tiana. Afterward, we went to Borden (which is like big biz here) and got icecream!

Spritual thing of the week:
We have been struggling with our branch. (only having the elders over, offending inactives and each other, not a lot of attendance, etc.) We decided to fast on Sunday for our branch. And let me tell ya, the Lord answers prayers. 
We got to church on Sunday and there were a lot of people there! Plus an inactive family we have been working with! One of them even bore her testimony. Then after church, we had 4 families come up and say they wanted us over this week! The church is so true! We were also able to be an answer to someone else's prayers and made a breakthrough with an investigator. The Lord doesn't forget us in our trials. 

Sister Kez


Monday, May 1, 2017

The One With Dave Chappelle And Beyonce

No, not the comedian sorry. A different Dave Chappelle (and probs even cooler)
So let me tell ya about Dave:
He is 70 years old
married to an Australian
loves to Zydeco dance (Creole dance)
has lived in Hawaii
is a navigator and has been all over the world
scuba'd the great barrier reef and has been to a secret waterfall in Hawaii
learned a Hawaiian hybrid of martial arts called Kajukenbo
is learning how to speak French Creole
a convert to the church
originally from California, and only lives in Louisiana cause it's fun.

He is the coolest person I have ever met. He took us to a small restaurant called, Pont Bridge. Where I tried gumbo for the first time. (its overrated.) and it had a live Cajun band. Also cool side note: Patrick Swayze has eaten there. Basically talking to Dave I figured my life out. I'm going to just travel and learn obscure fighting styles. Also, he told us to wait to get married instead of go to Breed-em Young University (Brigham Young University.)


So there tons of Bayou's in the New Iberia Parrish. And only God can make something so beautiful as this earth. But, the crazy culture of Louisiana has a different explanation. For the Bayou Teche (Teche=Snake) there is a legend as to how it came about. 
"Many years ago, in the days of the Tribe's strength, there was a huge and venomous snake. This snake was so large, and so long, that its size was not measured in feet, but in miles. (His head started in Morgan City all the way to Port Barre.)This enormous snake had been an enemy of the Chitimacha for many years, because of its  destruction to many of their ways of life. One day, the Chitimacha chief called together his warriors, and had them prepare themselves for a battle with their enemy. In those days, there were no guns that could be used to kill this snake. All they had were clubs and bows and arrows, with arrowheads made of large bones from the garfish. Of course, a snake over ten miles long could not be instantly killed. The warriors fought courageously to kill the enemy, but the snake fought just as hard to survive. As the beast turned and twisted in the last few days of a slow death, it broadened, curved and deepened the place wherein his huge body lay. The Bayou Teche is proof of the exact position into which this enemy placed himself when overcome by the Chitimacha warriors."
That is some crazy stuff. 
We do service in a place called, "Vermillionville." Which used to be the name of Lafayette. It is a small, living history park. They have tours and everyone dresses in old time period clothing. We go and teach children how to make rag dolls. It is actually really fun! Plus we get to tour for free! I bet you are still wondering about the Beyoncé part of the title, right? Get on with it Sister Kez, amiright?! Unfortunately, (especially for Sister Manuma her #1 fan) we did not meet Beyoncé. But Beyoncé is of the Broussard family, (big money) and her great grandparents home, is in Vermillionville and we walked through it. Probably as close to fame as I'll ever get. And I read a sign and it said that the people are Acadians, obviously, but people got lazy over time with saying it, and it turned into Cajuns. (Acadian, Acadjian, Acajian, Acajun, Cajun.) It blew my mind, y'all. 
We volunteered at another festival. YAY. This one is a lot more popular though. It is the Festival Internationale de Louisiane.  There were tons of international bands and food. Y'all should check out Red Baraat, they are the coolest band ever. Their description is even legit: "A high energy fusion of jazz, hip-hop beats, rock muscle, funky go-go, and scalding hot bhangia." I tried to buy a cd but they weren't selling any.
 Luckily, our shift ended at six and we left because later that night there was a shooting! One person was killed and three were injured. The funny thing about that is that it was our investigator's cousin who killed the man! Small world? 
Also on Sunday, we were put on Tornado Watch. The roads were flooded and the rain was pouring! We still went to church tho. The power was out for a while and we thought we were gonna have to do a pioneer sacrament. But the power turned back on like 5 minutes before church started.  
But missionary work isn't all fun and games.
Because we are so young. A lot of people don't take us very seriously. In a discussion with a lady she asked us if this was our first time. Sister Manuma and I looked at each other and we told her it was definitely not. She said that we just were so nervous. (But I had never felt more calm in my life.) and in the middle of bearing my testimony, she started laughing. She thought that we were too young to be that serious. It was really frustrating. 
But the best thing of the week:
We have an investigator named Veronica. She is the funniest person I've ever met, but she has lived a very hard life. Her and her husband, Phil, have had a lot of marital problems. She told us (which I don't think she should've) that she has tried to kill him multiple times lol. We visited her on Sunday and she told us the most amazing thing! Her husband has struggled with alcoholism. He just woke up on Friday and decided to go to a Rehabilitation center. He told her, "It's not fair that you keep trying for this marriage and I haven't been." She even offered him a beer and he said no. He told her he wants to be better! Because ever since she has been meeting with the nuns, (aka us lol) that he has seen a difference in her and her faith and she talks about God more. He has been going to bible study and when he gets out he wants to meet with the nuns too! and he wants to go to church! We have been praying for them so much! I have such a testimony that the Lord answers our prayers and that He listens to every one of his children's prayers. This is the work that I am supposed to be doing and I love it so much. 
Adios from the nun,

Sister Kezos

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The One With The Boudin Festival

There are a lot of different seasons here in LA: crawfish, lovebug, but best of all its FESTIVAL SEASON!
We have festivals every week for the next 3 weeks so its gonna be LIT! (do people even still say lit?)

This week was the Boudin (boo-DAN) Festival in Scott, LA.
If you have never heard of boudin look it up but don't throw up. It sounds nasty but is actually not bad. ​

I also ate fried alligator.
They had a band called Bag of Donuts. Coolest band ever. (But they didn't have merch so that was dumb. Can you imagine how cool the tee shirts would be for Bag of Donuts?!) And they played my kinda music. Super apostate but that's beside the point. If you can't avoid it enjoy it. Amiright, sistersss? We danced so much and I'm pretty sure all the drunk people thought we were drunk. But we are just drunk on Jesus' love!
Also there was this 9 year old kid who was getting it! He danced with us all night and then at one point we were just watching him and a crowd gathered and they even threw money at him!
holler for that dollar.
We gave his grandparents a pass along card and I'm pretty sure they can be converted.
Also wish I got a video of Sister Manuma fa'umu but I didn't but just know it was fantastic. 

The church is so true and Louisiana can get down!

Till next week and the next festival,
Sister Kezos

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The One with the Catfish

I'm finally in the mish! It's been a CRAY couple of weeks. 
I'm just here to update:
I ate fried catfish, shrimp ettouffee, and crawfish ettouffee.
Plz pray for me because the Lord is testing me. He put me right in the middle of Cajun Country.

We committed our investigator, Williams, to be baptized May 27th! He is definitely Cajun that's for sure.
I'm kind of scattered so this will be quick. 
My companion is literally Moana.

Sister Kezos

Friday, March 31, 2017

The One with My MTC Crib

 I've been in the MTC for a week now (holler) and I've already mastered it. Jk. That's totes not true. This week has been amazing week and a hard week, y'all. *We are not allowed to say you guys but we are allowed to say y'all. But speak your mission language I guess, #page8.* I've hardly had anytime to think. My district is the best district in the whole 🌏 and when we get together in heaven it's gonna be LIT. 

My companion is a-mah-zing and we actually knew each other before the MTC. We met on an FB page, "Many are called...but few are sisters" I commented on her post of her mission call and said we might be companions. And we talked that day until the empty sea (mtc). Divine inspiration y'all.

My roommates are also the best. They are going to Salt Lake. 

Classes are going good. I got the restoration down to 30 seconds and with no crying. Winninggggg. The thing I miss most about the outside world is music. I always either have fergalicious or bohemian rhapsody stuck in my head and so do the other sisters because of me. But we've figured out a way to make them more appropriate. 
      Listen up y'all, the church is true
      We want to teach some lessons to you
      Sister-mishious spirit-licious, make Satan go loco 
....hit it sister! All the time I turn around, elders gather round, always lookin at me up and down, looking at my tag! 

     Is this the real life? Or is this just fantasy?
     Caught in a landslide, no escape from the MTC
     Open your eyes. Look up to the skies and seeeee
     I'm just a sister, I know God loves me 
     Easy come easy go little high little low
     Anywhere the spirit goes, really really matters to me.

You're welcome. 
     Basically I'm back in high school. Except the food is slightly better and the boys actually hold doors open for you. I'm learning a ton and I'm on a spiritual high. But it's really hard. Girls cry all the time. You accidentally nap halfway through your 85736th prayer. Investigators can be super discouraging. But the church is true. And being a missionary is awesome. Also Mormon jokes can never be beat. 

When someone calls you something other than sister 

When your ID card doesn't work on the first try 

When an elder doesn't shake your hand

When you're companion leaves you

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The One With The Farewell

      Last Sunday, March 12th, I gave my farewell talk in church. I cried a lot and now everyone knows I have a ~WeAkNeSs~ but it was a very spiritual meeting and I'm glad to get it over with. For those of you who were unable to attend here it is. It's a little different and there's less crying but you get the point. And if it sounds similar to my other posts that's because it is.

      Good morning brothers and sisters. As you may know, I have been called to the Louisiana Baton Rouge mission and I will be reporting to the mtc on March 22nd. I've never given a farewell talk so bare with me here.
     First, I'd like to talk a little about the reasons why I want to serve a mission. Growing up I never thought about a mission, especially because the age was 21. Until the day after I turned 17, Bishop Taft brought me into his office and asked if I was thinking about a mission. Once I got passed the internal screaming I started to contemplate the idea of going on one. Although, I still had a lot of time to think about it. The next day after that I walked into seminary and it was missionary week. I’d be lying if I said God doesn’t have a sense of humor. We had the missionaries over a lot during that summer also. They would always joke with me about missions. They’d say, “are your papers in yet?” Or “How ‘bout that mish?” But one day they came to teach my sister, who wasn't there. Instead of leaving they taught gave me the lesson. They decided to show me a video. Jesus Christ was walking up and down a street, administering unto the poor. It was such a simple video, but I found myself sobbing. Like full on ugly crying. I was so filled with the spirit. I realized I was thinking about everything all wrong. The only thing I was thinking about was myself. I was being extremely selfish with my reasons for not going on a mission. I was leaving my family and friends for 18 months, I will be walking for miles and getting doors slammed in my face when I could be going to college or be on social media. But I was wrong. For some reason I never thought about the word serve in the phrase serve a mission. You’re helping other people find the Gospel that has brought joy to so many others. There are people who are waiting for me. Whether it's a future companion or an investigator. It’s about changing lives and bringing people unto the Lord. Losing yourself in the work is much more than working hard, it’s forgetting about yourself and your problems and serving the Lord. That was the day I decided to serve a mission. That was when everything clicked for me. The only problem was I still had a year and a half until I was 19. I started preparing for a mission. I had started feeling the blessings that came from my decision. Along with it came trials, but I knew it was the right choice. My advice to everyone is to start preparing for a mission. Even if you aren’t going to go on a mission, even if you are already married. The blessings that come from it not only would help you on a mission, but also in parenthood and in church callings.   After graduating high school I went on a trip. A church history trip. We left for 14 days the day after graduation. We started in Vegas and flew to New York. The next two weeks we visited 22 different states, discovering about the history of the church and American history. It was the most amazing experience of my life. There was one thing that changed my life and strengthened my faith. I knew that I needed to serve. I was walking in Harmony, Pennsylvania to the grave of the young Alvin Smith. I was walking with a sister missionary. I don't know why but my friends had gone ahead and a sister missionary joined me. We were just having a light conversation, just enjoying a little small talk. I hadn't even said anything about my desire to serve. She stopped and turned to me. It was dark and I could hardly see except for a lamp light on the log home behind me. She had tears in her eyes and said, "You're going to make a great missionary." I felt that ugly crying come back on. The Lord knew what I was feeling and he sent me exactly what I needed. I felt recharged and ready to take on the world...or the bus ride home. Back on Thanksgiving I was talking to my uncle. He had served in the Louisiana Baton Rouge mission, I looked him in the eye and said, “I think I’m going to your mission.” Somehow I knew. The Lord testifies to us. Sometimes we can recognize it and it's obvious and others it's more subtle. He has testified to me so much in this journey to wanting to serve a mission I could never deny it.
     A mission is the only path for me right now. It makes sense. Every Time I have thought about the future, it was just too blurry. When I was applying to colleges, I went back and forth so much. I have changed my mind about a career choice more times than I can count. It is still unclear what choices to make. All my plans fell through and I never got a feeling that they were right. The Lord has had a guiding hand in my life, and he has led me to where I am now.
      I’ve thought a lot about what I should talk about. I prayed a lot about it too. Then the other day I got a fortune cookie. The fortune read, “Say it Simply and with Passion.” Too often we over think, we over-complicate when in reality it should just be simple. Mormons love to use metaphors to help us understand. Metaphors surround us. But we should strip it down to the basics, to what we know. President Matthew Cowley said, “The gospel of Jesus Christ is beautifully simple and simply beautiful.”
     One of the scariest things about serving a mission is that you’re in situations where people come to you for answers which you may not have. We think we have to know everything. I, for one, do NOT know everything. I’m far from it. 2 Corinthians 1:12 says, “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly you-ward.” If we have sincerity in what we believe, even though we do not have all the facts, we can make a huge impact.  I have a testimony that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. That he had a vision in the Sacred Grove and translated the gold plates. I have a testimony that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of the Lord and he guides us in these latter days. I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, that it is the word of God. There are a lot of things that I have a hard time with. I couldn’t tell you the timeline of events in the Church’s history and I couldn’t tell you the names either. The only scripture mastery I can tell you is John 14:15. Its “If ye love me, keep my commandments” by the way. ;) I’m an expert by absolutely no means. But I KNOW that I can be a missionary. I can touch lives and I can plant the seeds of the gospel. 1 Nephi 4:6 says, “And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.” The amazing thing about this scripture is that I don’t have to know everything. If I am diligent in my studies the Lord will meet me halfway. The Spirit will guide me and help me to know what I should say. Leading with the Spirit is 100% effective. Oftentimes, it is too easy to feel inadequate. That we are not good enough. That is the Devil speaking. He does not want us to succeed. He does not want us to further the work of the Lord. When we start feeling these feelings, it is hard not to believe them. You see other missionaries who have stronger testimonies and you compare yourself. But comparison is the thief of joy.
      Having the basic truths that we gain testimonies of as young children in primary can help us be effective missionaries. The Lord puts us in situations that He knows we can handle. “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3. That can mean a lot of things. But that to me, means to become simple. To stop over complicating things and to take it back to how we were as children. Children don’t compare and they have simple yet powerful testimonies. They, like the fortune, “Say it simply, and with passion.” Being a teacher in Primary has been such a huge blessing in my life. Those kids have taught me more than I have ever taught them. Many of them bore their testimonies last week and something stuck out to me. Their testimonies consist of saying that they know the church is true. That’s a testament to me. That they KNOW that the church is true. They get baptized because they have this testimony. The only missionary tool that we need is to know that this church is the true church. Everything gets so complicated sometimes that we just need to bring it back to that. Gandhi once said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” Missionaries set out to baptize the nations. To turn hundreds to the Lord. But helping just one person can help change the world. Planting that seed in one person can grow to their posterity. Even if that one person you help is yourself. You can set off a beautiful chain reaction. Children often lead by their example and they don’t even know it. In the October of 2000 Ensign, there was a story called “And a Child Led Me.” It talks of a young college student visiting a friend for Christmas break. It read, “Early Sunday afternoon following church, I found myself sitting on the living room sofa, waiting to leave and reading the comics from the morning paper. Karla’s eight-year-old brother came in, sat down across from me, and opened his Book of Mormon.“Hi,” he said simply, and started to read.“What are you reading?” I looked up and asked.“Nephi,” he replied. “I’m reading it myself.”“Good for you.” I tried to think if I had ever attempted to read scripture when I was so young. “How many times have you read the Book of Mormon?” I asked, half joking. His answer put me in my place.“Twice,” he responded, “with my family.” Then he turned the tables. “How many times have you read it?” I felt foolish. I hadn’t ever read it. “Well, I’ve started it a few times,” I mumbled. Karla was sitting next to me. Her mother was close by as well. I knew they wouldn’t judge me, but that didn’t lessen my uneasiness. Here I was, three months away from being 19 years old, and I had yet to read a book that I had testified to be true. This eight-year-old child was on his third round. I knew nobody was keeping score, but I was very humbled. If I was going to go on a mission, what kind of missionary would I be if I hadn’t even read the Book of Mormon? That night, back at the dorm and in bed, I opened the book and began to read. I literally could not put it down. Moroni’s introduction, the testimonies of the witnesses, Joseph Smith’s testimony, First Nephi, and on and on. Each word called to me, strengthened me. I could feel a great spiritual power begin to flow into my life. I knew it was true, I had felt it before, and now the feeling grew stronger. Not quite two weeks later I read the parting words of Moroni and closed the book. I had done it! Tears of joy filled my eyes. I knelt down and thanked my Heavenly Father.” This 8 year old boy, the same age as my primary kids, had influenced one person to read the Book of Mormon without even knowing it. He helped change so many lives with the simple act of reading in front of someone else.
     in closing I would like to talk a little about Wayne County. Wayne county has been the biggest blessing in my life. (Which hasn't always been my opinion) but ever since I've moved here I've met people who have influenced me greatly. I had the great opportunity to grow up with some wonderful youth. Many of which are serving missions across the globe right now. It's so amazing to see them doing the Lord’s work. They are all amazing examples to me. I'm so excited to join them out in the field. To join them in spreading joy. Moving here was apart of God’s plan. God’s plan for me to serve a mission. Everything that has happened here has led me to this decision to go on a mission. And I couldn't be more grateful. I owe it all to the lovely people here. The scripture I chose to go on my plaque is Alma 29:9 “I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.” I chose this particular scripture because it had a specific phrase that stuck out to me. “That perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God.” My patriarchal blessing had that exact sentence also. That helps me to know that serving a mission is what the Lord had planned for me.
Vaughn J. Featherstone once said, “President Spencer W. Kimball stated-’ make no plans: They have no magic to stir man’s souls.’ This is the vision I have for the South. I believe that one day the South will baptize more people into the church than all other English speaking missions on the world together. There are great hosts of marvelous Baptists, members of the Church of Christ, Methodists, and Catholics who are honorable people, and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and love him, As they see (their) church veering off to the right or to the left of those basic teachings, they will begin to search for truth. And as pivotal teachers come into the church and have influence, we will see the time when we will baptize hundreds and thousands, tens of thousands. In your day you will see a million members of the church in the South. There will be Temples Plural in the South states. What a Great call you have to serve with these marvelous people” I am so beyond honored to be able to be serving in the South. And to explore the deeper meaning to this quote. I know that Louisiana is where the Lord wanted me to go.

The Lord doesn't testify to us by opening the heavens he testifies to us through the Spirit. Through the feelings we have. That's thee most gentle and simple testament to us. It's not big nor flashy but it is passionate. Yet millions feel it and they know it's real. I look forward to the people I'll meet and the experiences I'll have serving a mission. I hope to help others gain a testimony as well. And I pray that all of you will have the opportunity to have missionary experiences as well. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


Monday, February 27, 2017

The One With The Wedding

     My beautiful sister and her beautiful boyfriend got engaged on October 6th, 2016. After a terrible year for her and my nephew, Teddy, this was the best thing ever. On February 11th, 2017, they finally tied the knot. I have never seen her so happy and in such an amazing place. He bought her a house for Christmas and took her to Cancun on their honeymoon. What a keeper, amiright ladiesssss?? Anyway, for the real reason for this post. Shamelessly promote myself. I went with them to their engagements and the bridals and took videos. I went home and threw a little edit together. FOR FREEEEE. So here it is. Plz validate me.


The One With The Mission Call

     When I was 17 years old, my bishop pulled me into his office after Sacrament. He asked me if I had thought about serving a mission. Girls don't serve missions until they are 19, so obviously it had NOT crossed my mind. Once I got passed the internal screaming, I decided to think about it. The very next day, I walked into seminary. To my surprise, it was Missionary Week. The Lord definitely has a sense of humor. A sister missionary was asked to speak. I asked so many questions she probably slept for 3 days afterwards. My best friend's sister had also served a mission. She would often talk to me about her experiences, but I was still on the fence. Until that summer. We invited the missionaries over a lot. They would always seem to joke to me about it. "Are your papers in yet?" "Hey, how 'bout that mish?" I would giggle and mentally run away. Until one day they came to teach my sister. She was not there so instead of leaving they decided to teach me instead. They showed me a video.  Jesus Christ was walking up and down a street, administering unto the poor. It was such a simple video, but I found myself sobbing. Like full on ugly crying. I was so filled with the spirit. I realized I was thinking about everything all wrong. The only thing I was thinking about was myself. I was being extremely selfish with my reasons for not going on a mission. I was leaving my family and friends for 18 months, I will be walking for miles and getting doors slammed in my face when I could be going to college or be on social media. But I was wrong. For some reason I never thought about the word serve in the phrase serve a mission. You’re helping other people find the Gospel that has brought joy to so many others. So that was it. I decided to go. Except the only problem was that I wouldn't turn 19 for another year and a half. I faced so many trials in that year and a half. I wanted to just take it back. I wanted to stop and crawl into a whole. "This is too hard," I thought. 
     After graduating high school I went on a trip. A church history trip. We left for 14 days the day after graduation. We started in Vegas and flew to New York. The next two weeks we visited 22 different states, discovering about the history of the church and American history. It was the most amazing experience of my life. There was one thing that changed my life and strengthened my faith. I knew that I needed to serve. I was walking in Harmony, Pennsylvania to the grave of the young Alvin Smith. I was walking with a sister missionary. I don't know why but my friends had gone ahead and a sister missionary joined me. We were just having a light conversation, just enjoying a little small talk. I haven't even said anything about my desire to serve. She stopped and turned to me. It was dark and I could hardly see except for a lamp light on the log home behind me. She had tears in her eyes and said, "You're going to make a great missionary." I felt that ugly crying come back on. The Lord knew what I was feeling and he sent me exactly what I needed. I felt recharged and ready to take on the world...or the bus ride home. 
video     I didn't start my papers until August 30th. I got my physical done. Then in October I got my wisdom teeth out. I couldn't even turn my papers in until November 11th. Exactly 120 days before my birthday. It took some of my amazing (lol) math skills to figure that out. I was finally finished (cue the dancing) and I turned them into the bishop. My time was wasted by watching hundreds of videos of other people opening their calls. Laaaameeeee. I went to Texas for two weeks and my bishop had STILL not turned them in. ugh. By the time it was Christmas they were finally with the stake. I interviewed with him and then a day later he sent them in. They said I would receive my call around the 21st. It. was. agony. I hadn't started the good ol' mailbox check yet when my dad walked in with my call. It was Friday the 13th. I immediately collapsed to the floor. I was in absolute shock. Here comes the ugly crying. I had no idea what to do. We were planning on driving the 3 hours to my family to open it with them, but there was no way I had THAT kind of self control. My grandma, my mom, and my dad were going to be my only fan base for the grand reveal. We found a corner of the room with good lighting (duh) and began to video. I couldn't breathe, it was finally my turn. All those videos I watched and it was my turn to film my own. The words on the page read, "Louisiana Baton Rouge Mission." I couldn't believe it. I had guessed it. Back in Thanksgiving with my family, I told my uncle who served in the same mission, that I was going to his mission. We for sure shared a moment. March 22nd was my report date. That was so soon. It took a while to sink in, but I'm ready and I can't wait to share this gospel that I love so much.