Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How Great Thou Art

email 29 September 2015

Oh my goodness. This week was miracle after miracle. And I know without a doubt it came from obedience. Obedience to God's commandments is the most powerful tool we have.

That kind of leads into my first little experience. We went to go visit this old man. He's 98. He was the sweetest and kindest person I've ever met. It seemed like he had life pretty figured out. I mean...he made it to 98. That's pretty good. So I asked him if he had figured out the secret to life yet. And he told me the secret to life is to "Keep ALL of God's commandments. No questions asked." At first this seemed like a Primary answer (church class for children - Ed.). But I think we sometimes take for granted those Primary answers. There's sooooo much power in doing the Primary things. More than we could realize. But I also realized that keeping God's commandments means also acting on the revelation He gives us. It's personal commandment. I love that that old man said no questions asked. That part is probably the hardest! But I know he's right. If we keep all of God's commandments no questions asked, we will receive more blessings than we could ever imagine.

Also I forgot to say this past week how AMAZING my senior couple is. They're names are Elder and Sister Hadley. I can't explain to you how amazing this couple is. They are purely Christlike. They will help us with ANYTHING. They went and bought us lights for our bikes. They give us rides. They feed us. They won't stop! I can't begin to describe how grateful I am for the Hadley's and how much love I have for them. They are truly disciples of Christ.

Okay time for the first miracle!!! We were going around knocking doors of some former investigators. We get to this one woman's house and we're on the doorstep doing our introductions and she just tells us "I'm not interested at all. I mean...you seem nice. But I'm not interested" and out of nowhere I just said "yeah, I'm still getting used to biking. It's pretty rough." I have no clue where it came from. I was kind of embarrassed it was so random, haha. But then she said "yeah, and it's hot." And Sister Manley said "we're both from Texas. This is NOT hot." And the lady looked at us and said "where in Texas?" And at the same time we both said "Houston." The lady lit up and said "I'm from Houston!!! Come in right now!!!" So she let us in and we were able to have a really spiritual discussion with her. She was crying and she invited us back anytime. MIRACLES. Seriously. I wouldn't be surprised if the only reason we were together in this area is so we could get to meet and know her.

Okay the next is Kayson. He's an autistic boy and his family is completely active. But he was so scared of getting baptized that he waited till he was older. Therefore, he needed the missionary discussions. He's 9 and the cutest thing in the whole world. He makes my heart smile :) But because of his fear, we and his parents weren't sure if he was going to still get baptized on Saturday. We were praying and praying. And On Saturday morning, he was able to be baptized. And when he came up out of the water he said very loud and proud "I did it!" We were so proud of him! He did it!

So everyone who's ever been in charge of the musical fireside always gets sick for it to where they can't sing. So I guess I had to be initiated in. Because I got sick the day before the musical fireside. And I don't get sick! EVER! So it was so weird! I could hardly talk. I couldn't smell or taste and I could hardly breathe. I was so so so scared. So I went over to the Hadley's for help. Elder Hadley gave me a priesthood blessing and Sister Hadley gave me this nasty nasty concoction. If any of you remember the story from the very beginning of my mission when someone gave me that oil that made me almost die...well this was even worse. It was tea with all the essential oils in it you could ever think of. But luckily I had a brownie I could take a bite of after every sip! It was nasty but it helped! I had every medicine you could think of. Tea, honey, mucinex, decongestants, allergy pills, and of course, priesthood blessings. And the next morning I woke up even worse. It would be okay if I was singing a small song. But my solo was quite large. And high. We get to the musical fireside and I was terrified. My song was at the end so I had no clue what my voice would be like at that point. So I get up there to sing and my voice sounds completely normal. But then on the high notes my voice cracked a ton. I was kinda bummed. But when I asked people about it, no one heard it. These weren't little cracks you could ignore. I know Heavenly Father helped everyone hear something different. And I know the spirit filled in my gaps of imperfection so people's hearts could be touched. This was God's fireside. The same exact thing happened for the Sunday performance. I haven't listened to the recordings yet, so you can probably hear all the mess ups. But I'm so grateful that Heavenly Father healed me for that moment. Once it was done I could feel the weight of sickness on me again. He lifted it for those nights. Miracles happen. Priesthood blessings are real. Angels are real. Heavenly Father and His love is real.

Fireside view from the choir loft. - Ed.

Okay I'll end with a funny moment. I was the one directing the opening and closing hymns that the audience would sing with us. So I had the choir stand then I turned around to motion the audience to stand. And no one stood. I motioned again. Nothing. So I was up there flailing my arms around and finally they took the hint and all stood and everyone was laughing. It was so embarrassing but kind of hilarious, Hahaha. Classic Sister Sarlls moment.

Well today we're taking a mission trip to the Ogden Temple. So you'll get to hear about that next week. I love this gospel. I can't explain the feelings in my heart from this past week. Pure happiness.

Love,
Sister Sarlls

P.S. 87 days till Christmas:)





Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I'm officially a Sister Missionary

email 22 September 2015


Honestly this week has just been a roller coaster! It's been rough. But I've found that the roughest times are the times that you can draw closer to your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

My new area is very opposite of what I've had in the past! Geographically, it's TINY. And all suburbs! And we're on bikes!!! I was honestly terrified, but I love it! Fall is starting here so it feels GREAT outside and we get to ride around on our cute little beach cruisers. Our bikes are pretty adorable. The first time we rode our bikes, we put on our helmets and looked at each other and went, "WE ARE SISTER MISSIONARIES!!!" It didn't feel official till now, haha. Now that I have an awkward tan line, biking shorts, and a dorky helmet, I feel initiated into the Sister Missionary club. As we were riding home the other night, I realized that everyone's sprinkler systems come on at 9 o'clock at night. I guess that gives me a little more motivation to get home exactly on time. So I'm not soaking wet, haha. 

So my new companion, trainee, baby, daughter, whatever you want to call her, is Sister Brittany Manley. She's from Spring, Texas (Super cool, right?!) Shes actually called to the Brasilia, Brazil mission and she's waiting for her visa. So I'm TRYING to help her keep up her Portuguese while she's here in Utah. She's a STUD missionary. Seriously, she talks to everyone, she's comfortable teaching, she's testifies powerfully. I feel like she's pre-trained. And sometimes I feel like she's training me! She's really an amazing missionary already. I'm a proud momma. :)

We were at a dinner and they decided to take us out to a pizza place. They had a four year old boy who LOVED it there and he was cracking us up. At the end of the dinner we were joking around with him and said he could live there and eat all the pizza all the time. He goes, "No I want to eat you." And we were just thinking to ourselves, "Oh, that's creepy." And we told him, "I don't think we would taste very good." And he says, "Yes you would! Because you're so sweet!" Wow. Only a four year old could turn cannibalism into a compliment. It was hilarious! We were all cracking up and he had no clue why.  
The musical fireside is THIS WEEKEND AHHHHHHH I'm kind of freaking out but I'm SO excited!!! I hope we can fill the tabernacle twice! This musical fireside feels like my baby. We had the first full dress rehearsal last Friday. Yikes. It was pretty good but I hope everything just falls into place this Saturday! The Jaggi's had the whole mission fast this last Sunday that it would all be good. I have faith that it will be. Like I've said earlier, this is God's fireside. So I know the spirit will be there no matter how it ends up going. Lives will be touched. Miracles will happen. 


video
(Fireside promotion video. Note they all use iPads for music folders. - Ed.)

This past week, as I said, has been full of ups and downs. There were a few days where I felt overwhelmed, stressed, and done. Especially on Sunday I was feeling those things. I was sitting during the passing of the sacrament and praying. I was praying for a change. I didn't like these feelings. I didn't want to be feeling the way I was. As I was sitting there and I partook of the bread and water, I felt a literal and physical change in my heart. I can't explain it. I felt it soften. I felt it come forward. I felt my stress, my impatience, and my bitterness melt away. I will never forget this experience. I felt all of those things turn into charity. Charity for my companion, the members, missionary work, and even myself. The sacrament and the atonement heals. It changes. It transforms. This was a miracle that I needed throughout the week. I don't know what qualified me for this miracle. But I'm grateful that Heavenly Father gave it to me. 

Yesterday as Sister Manley was doing her language study, I was deciding on a Mormon Message to show a family at a family home evening that night. I know all of them pretty much but I came across one that I didn't recognize the name to. It was called "The Will of God". As I was watching it, I finally recognized it. I had seen it my third week in my mission at a district meeting. I remember watching it and crying knowing that I was meant to be here on my mission. And that I shouldn't go home.  Right as I was watching this video, I got an email from my sister Rachel asking if I had seen that Mormon message. I knew that that was a confirmation that we should show that message to the family that night. But as we were watching it in their home, I realized that I needed this message. Lately I've been feeling a lot like I did at the beginning of my mission. A little bit of a desire to go home and a little bit of hopelessness. As I was watching this video, I realized that I needed to be cut down. I'm being cut down at this time. But I'm becoming what Heavenly Father wants me to be. When I got home I realized that it was on the same exact day last year that my heart was changed by this video. This was a tender mercy to me. I realized how far I had come since then. I realized how much I really had already changed. Heavenly Father has been giving me so much strength lately. And it feels like undeserved strength. I don't understand why He loves me so much. But He does. I'm SO grateful. 

I wanted to end this email with a scripture I have rediscovered and absolutely love.
D&C 68:6 "Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come."
I read this yesterday and I gained comfort and motivation. Comfort that Jesus Christ is with me on this journey. And then when it says, "and ye shall bear record of me." That is like Him saying, "You're gonna do this! Let's do this thing!!!" Probably not what He meant, haha. But I love it! This is my favorite scripture at the moment. Let's do it! I love this gospel. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ. I will testify of Them whenever I can. They are real. They know us. They are aware of everything. And I have felt that abundantly this week. 

I love you all! 
Love, Sister Sarlls

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

IT'S A GIRL!!!

email 15 September 2015

Well Sister Smith is safe and sound in Arizona now. I miss her already. But she's an amazing daughter of God and has a lot ahead of her in life!

So President Jaggi called me on Friday to talk to me about some things. We talked about how the musical fireside was going, how I was doing personally, and he asked me if I would be willing to train a new missionary. I told him no. The musical fireside is pretty stressful and I don't know if I could train a missionary. Not to mention train them while doing the musical fireside. So we left it at that. I wasn't going to train. I felt kind of bad. So I prayed about it and I told Heavenly Father that if he really needed me to do this, then I would. I get a call from President Jaggi the next night and he tells me that Heavenly Father really wants and needs me to train. So I am now white washing (replacing the missionaries) Syracuse Bluff and I'm training a visa-waiter who is actually called to serve in Brazil. I'll be trying to help her learn Portuguese as much as I can! Yesterday we had a 5 hour meeting for trainers. It was one of the most spiritual meetings of my mission. And very humbling. We talked about Jacob 5 and how it can apply to us. This verse specifically stuck out to me. 
4 And it came to pass that the master of the vineyard went forth, and he saw that his olive tree began to decay; and he said: I will prune it, and dig about it, and nourish it, that perhaps it may shoot forth young and tender branches, and it perish not.
I feel as though this verse is a story of my mission. At the beginning of my mission, I was decaying. And throughout these 13 months I've been pruned, dug, and nourished. So that one day I could produce a young and tender branch, or, train a new missionary. That day is now. I can't explain to you the feelings I had during this meeting. Complete peace. Complete gratitude. Gratitude that Heavenly Father trusted me to even come on a mission. And gratitude that he trusts me to train one of his "Young and tender branches". I feel 100% inadequate. I do. But I understand that this is an experience I need to grow. As I was studying the story of Christ's baptism in Matthew, I realized it applied a lot more to me than just my need to be baptized. 
14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
Sometimes we're asked to do things and we say "You want ME to do it?" This is one of those times for me. But it will becometh me to do this thing. I'm excited! I really am. I can't say I'm not nervous. I'm terrified. But I'm excited to see what this experience will bring. I will also be piloting a new training program where we have set hours every week to do community service and family history. It's interesting! We'll see how it goes. I've decided the scripture I will turn to for strength in this experience is Mosiah 4:9:
9 Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.
Going along with that, my new area doesn't have a car. I will now be a walking and biking missionary. AHHHHHH WHAT?! I'm going to die. Especially since it's starting to get colder. Heavenly Father knew that it was too easy being put back with my two best friends, twice. Now it's payback time, haha. I'll have monstrous calves by the end. This may be my last area I serve in! I only have 4 more transfers. So it could go either way. 



Well now for some fun things of this week! Utah missionaries get the best service experiences. I got to help out with shampooing and drying hair extensions, haha. It was definitely interesting! I need a list of new skills I've acquired on my mission. 

On Sunday they wanted Sister Smith and I to share our testimonies. Which is good! They just made us do it along side Missionary Moms. BAD IDEA!!! We were all crying. To celebrate the close of Sister Smith'ss mission we took some #artsy pictures in front of corn. 


 

Everything is going well! Any prayers for me this transfer will be very welcomed:) but I'm putting my trust in the Lord! 

Love, Sister Sarlls













Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Deedle ling ding ding ding ding

email 08 September 2015

My oh my this last week has gone by crazy fast!!! I bet you all thought the parade phase was over. I did, too. But yesterday we got to be a part of Hooper Tomato Days parade!!! This one was probably one of the most fun because we got to hang off the side of an old fire truck the whole time!!! It was a blast! Part of me was scared that I would just fall off as we were going but I made it through the whole parade! Hooper Tomato Days is a big deal here in the Ogden area! It's one of those small community parades and rodeos but EVERYONE goes to it. It was packed. After the parade we got to walk around and proselyte to the people at the carnival. We tried on some cool hats and we met some people that were very interested and receptive. It was a fun day:)





So one of my dreams in life is to learn the banjo. And we have a bishop who bought a whole bunch of instruments for his kids hoping they will pick one up. Well, no one has picked up the banjo. So he let me borrow it and practice it!!!! It's been a blast! It's hard but I love it so much. Sister Smith and I have started making banjo noises whenever we see something super hick or country or we'll add our own banjo part to songs we listen to. It's been fun! Deedle ling ding ding ding ding.






video
[Emily practicing the banjo. - Ed.]

In our district meeting this past Thursday we were receiving a training when one of the elders dropped his iPad and it shattered the screen. It was a terrible event. But not as terrible as the picture an Elder took of me and Sister Smith's reaction to the fall. I don't know why he was taking pictures of us. But he just happened to capture our priceless faces. This pictures has now reached half the mission. Haha it's really a hilarious picture. Sniff and Snarls at it again.







The musical fireside stuff is going swell! It really has God's hand in it. There's no way you could take a random group of teenagers and make beautiful music. Watching the rehearsals and hearing the choir numbers strengthens my testimony that:
1. Every single missionary here has been called to the Utah Ogden mission for a reason and by inspiration, and
2. There are angels among us. I know there are angels lifting our voices so we can help the people in Ogden feel the spirit.
I'm SO EXCITED for this fireside. I feel as though it's my baby that I have the responsibility to take care of it and he joy of watching it grow into its full potential. Kind of a weird thought haha but I'm loving it!

This last Saturday Sister Smith and I were able to take part in 3 baptisms. The first was Marge. She's an old lady in her 80's that I worked with in Hooper. She's lived in Utah her whole life. She's had the lessons many times. But now was her time to accept it. She tells us that when she's 90 she wants to serve a mission! She's so spunky and just the neatest lady. Her baptism was beautiful. When she came up out of the water she smiled and looked at all of us. And then she let out a big "WOOO!!!" Hahah I love her spirit and her love of baptism and of the gospel. The second baptism we got to attend was someone Sister Smith worked with in inner-city Ogden. She has had a ROUGH life. I don't know if I could be in that area. Is makes my heart weep knowing some of the things these people have to go through. But what a joyous day when they make the decision to follow the example of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! And then the last one we went to was another area's baptism that they asked us to sing "savior, redeemer of my soul" at. It was a really neat day to see all of those people be baptized. It the first step to being more like Jesus Christ.

I'm getting a little sad sending another beloved companion home. She's a hard worker though. I'm so blessed to be able to have hard working companions. Sister Smith has taught me a lot. She really has taught me how to love the Book of Mormon. Not that I didn't like it before. But her example of how she loves the Book of Mormon inspired me to feast upon it. I love the Book of Mormon. It is truly my favorite book. Whenever I would hear people say that, I thought it was cheesy. But it has changed my life. I understand my savior so much more. I have the spirit more abundantly in my life when I read it. I can't explain the joy, comfort, understanding, peace, and excitement this book brings me. And honestly, I can say all of this because of Sister Smith's example to me when we were first companions. She is very humble. She is always willing to change. She's constantly looking for how she can improve. I look up to this beautiful daughter of God so much. Her testimony strengthens mine every single day.



I'm loving every second of it here in the Utah Ogden mission.


Love, Sister Sarlls

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Savior, Make Me More Like Thee

email 01 Sep 2015

Soooo, my first 3 days back in Ogden Weber North have been nothing short of fantastic. Oh my. This week has been the most stressful and the most amazing week of my life. 

I don't remember if I've talked about the wisdom of Sister Richins. She. Is. So. Wise. Sister Betzold and I were talking about how we want to change the world. So we asked Sister Richins how we change the world. And she responds, without missing a beat, with:
"Be a missionary and raise good kids."
Wow. Well she just summed it all up. That's really how we change the world! I miss her randomly profound comments. But I'm loving being with Sister Smith again! :) 

Okay the musical fireside has been miracle after miracle!!! So like I said last week, it hasn't been working to do the song A Little More Like Thee. Well finally we decided to move on. So we googled songs with the phrase "more like thee" in it. And we fell in love with the words to the hymn "Savior, Make Me More Like Thee". These words are BEAUTIFUL and exactly the message we want to convey. We tried singing the words to different hymn tunes. We found some that worked. But none were anything spectacular. So I thought "maybe we can come up with a tune". So I started singing just to see what comes out. And it came out with the tune of "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need". Which was in this month's Ensign. So we looked up a choir arrangement of it by Victor C. Johnson and tried singing the words to it. We both looked at each other and knew instantly that this was the song Heavenly Father wanted us to do. We both got tears in our eyes and chills on our arms. It was one of the most spiritual experiences of my mission. It was a huge confirmation that we needed to do that song. 

So our first rehearsal for the musical fireside just happened to be on the same day that I was supposed to pack up and switch areas. That was a verrrrrry packed and stressful day! But Heavenly Father blessed us because everyone in the choir learned their voice parts super fast and we're all sounding AMAZING. We were a little worried since the mission split and we have half of the people. But I'm pretty sure Angels were singing with us. The whole chapel was filled with voices of praise and I can't describe the feelings of the spirit that was there. Heavenly Father has handed us the songs we need to do for this fireside and who needs to sing them. It's a lot of hard work. But man, it's worth it. 

I had a really embarrassing moment on Sunday where I dropped the sacrament tray. And it happened to be the water. And it happened to be the metal trays. #classicsistersarllsmove 


Sister Smith and I went to go visit people we had worked with in the past and they're all doing super good! No one had been by to Debbie's house since she got baptized so I was a little worried how she would be when we got over there. But when we went over there, we saw how prepared she truly was! Because she's been going to church every single week and she has received her temple recommend and she's getting ready to receive her patriarchal blessing!!! I can't explain how happy I was to hear all of that!!! Seriously! She's amazing! Then we went to go see Sandy and Trusie. They were baptized while sister Smith was in the area and they just got back to church while I was there. They've been going to church faithfully and have been 5 weeks clean from smoking and drinking and are on their way to the temple!!!!! MIRACLES ARE HAPPENING!!! It makes me so happy to see how all of these people are progressing. So Sister Smith and I have a couple of temple trips coming up :) ! 

We were having a lesson with Sandy and Trusie and we were talking about the sacrament washing our sins away and comparing it to a chalk board. How when were baptized and when we partake of the sacrament it's like Christ sprayed our chalkboard with a hose. And then Trusie said that doing it ourselves without the atonement is like erasing the chalkboard. It takes away what it says but in the end it just ends up smudging around the chalk and it's still on there. We need the atonement and we need the sacrament and baptism in our lives to fully clean our chalkboard. I thought that was a cool way of thinking about it and it made a lot of sense! We do what we can to clean it (works) and Christ takes care of the rest (grace). Our works lead to grace.

Man this week has been awesome and full of miracles. Im not looking forward to Sister Smith going home:/ but I'll survive! I get 2 weeks with her:) also we have an elevator in our house!!! SO COOL!!!

I love you all! 
Sister Sarlls