Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I'm already dreaming of a white Christmas

email 24 Nov 2015

Hello hello! All is well over here in the Utah Ogden Mission! It's getting FREEZING here. I forgot how cold it could get. I keep my Benadryl in the car in case I need it but now it doesn't even matter because it's frozen. It never thaws out, haha. You know it's cold when your nose hairs freeze and when you're door is frozen shut. Even with all this frost, there is still no snow! My rule is it shouldn't be this cold without snow.

Okay time for the embarrassing moments of the week. The musical fireside is coming up so we've been advertising EVERYWHERE. So we were in a Ward Council meeting and I was really excited talking about it and I was like, "It's non-congregational! Everyone is welcome!" They all looked really confused and said, "So how does that work? Do you just walk around listening?" Well ... I meant to say non-denominational. So they imagined there not being a congregation and just walking around listening to the music, haha. I just meant that all faiths and religions are welcome! So now that ward thinks I'm a little wonky.

Another embarrassing moment. Sister West and I go to a community center gym every morning to exercise. Sister West has been acting like my personal trainer. She's teaching me how to do all these fancy work out things. Well she was teaching me how to do squats with weights. I was facing away from everyone else in the gym so I couldn't see people looking at me. All of a sudden, while doing squats, I hear this popping sound. I didn't think much of it till my pants felt a little looser. I realized I had just RIPPED MY PANTS RIGHT OPEN. And like I said, I was facing the other way. And I'm pretty sure the noise echoed, hahaha. One of the most embarrassing moments of my life. Let's just say I'm buying new pants today.

We've had some exciting things happen this last week! We got to go to the Temple with our recent convert, Luis. Then right after we went to the family history center so he could find some family names!

  


This last week we get a call from a girl named Dani. She called us and said, "I want to go to church with you this Sunday." WHAAAAAAAT. So we set up someone to give her a ride to church and we met her on Sunday. She is so prepared by Heavenly Father to hear and accept the gospel at this time. As she was talking to us and as we were teaching her, I could literally feel in my heart how much love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for her. The next day she went to a job interview and we asked her how it went. She said, "Well if I accepted the job then I wouldn't have any time to meet with you. So I turned it down because I really want to learn." OH MY GOSH. Seriously. When the scriptures talk about the elect, Dani is it. She's going to be baptized in December. It's going to be a white Christmas! (Like baptism clothes. Get it?)

This week we've talked to a lot of the people we're working with about the feelings of the Spirit. A realization that I made this week is that the most important feeling of the Spirit is peace. The Spirit can come in lots of different forms and feelings. But Satan can replicate excitement. He can replicate happiness. He can replicate laughter. He can replicate a lot of things. But he will never ever be able to replicate the feeling of peace and comfort. Whenever I feel peace and comfort, I know without a doubt that it's from my Heavenly Father. And I get those feelings in this gospel. When I go to church. When I read the Book of Mormon. The peace that comes into my heart is overwhelming. Look for those moments of peace and comfort in your life. Of course the other feelings can still be from God. We can still get answers through other feelings. But I know that peace and comfort is always 100% from our Heavenly Father.

Sister West and I were able to give a training to our zone the other day. We started off by showing the Mormon Message "Look Not Behind Thee":


New Year's: Look Not behind Thee


We then read the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's in Alma 23. They were a blood-thirsty people until they learned about God and wanted to become righteous. So in Alma 23:7 it says:
"For they became a righteous people; they did lay down the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more, neither against any of their brethren."
I know there are things that we all do that fight against God or our Brethren. Maybe not in big ways. But we all do it. So as a zone, we made cardboard swords and wrote down some things we wanted to give up and bury. Then we all went into the backyard and dug a hole and literally buried our "weapons of rebellion." It was super fun! And it was a really spiritual experience to commit together to be even more obedient and even more consecrated. It brought our zone close together and we're all trying our best to not dig up our swords but to keep hem buried. I want to take this practice with me when I go home, too. I want to continually bury my swords little by little.





Well I'm doing great here! The gospel is true. Heavenly Father is real and listens to us and our hearts, our thoughts, our desires, and our needs. He is aware of each one of us individually. And I know Jesus Christ is there for us to strengthen us and heal us through everything. Big and small things. I love you!


(Bonus video to prepare for Christmas! - Ed.)
video

Love, Sister Sarlls (31 days till Christmas!)

P.S. Y'all, I made gumbo for the first time by my self and it tastes EXACTLY LIKE IT! I DIDN'T EVEN BURN THINGS!




Tuesday, November 17, 2015

If I could save time in a bottle

email 17 Nov 2015

I really don't know where the time goes anymore. The weeks are going by faster and faster. I'm trying to make it go by slow and suck it all in while I can. This week marks my 15 month mark.  Luckily, because Sister West has been out longer than I have, people usually focus on her. But when people ask how long we've been out, usually we both respond with, "About a year." I don't know If that's considered lying or just being optimistic. Haha

Well in other news, they made me an STL (Sister Training Leader) again, haha. Kind of random. Half-way through the transfer. But it's fun! I like being an STL. I like sharing my thoughts and opinions about things and I like coming up with ideas. They are thinking of trying me out as a "traveling STL". I wouldn't have a set companion and I would travel the mission going on exchanges with sisters and helping them with their companionship and their area. It's still just a thought but it's an interesting concept and idea! I don't exactly know how it would work. But I'll give you an update if it happens!

WE HAD SOME MIRACLES THIS WEEK! Sister West and I decided to give up one thing to help us be just a little more consecrated as missionaries. And I know that these miracles came from doing that. God is good.

So we have an investigator named Alex who has a girlfriend on a mission. He's never come to church and he keeps canceling lessons. Well on our lesson this last Wednesday, we read 2 Nephi 31 with him. In that chapter it talks about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Or the things that we need to do in this life to return back to Him. Well we asked Alex what some things were that stood out to him and he responded with, "I need to go to church." Sister West literally yelled "HALLELUJAH!" in the lesson, haha. So Sunday rolls around and Alex worked a 16 hour shift and got off work at 5 in the morning. AND STILL CAME TO CHURCH. To say we were excited is an understatement. I'm so grateful Alex was able to come to church and experience the joy that it brings.

The other miracle has to do with the musical fireside, of course.  So we were counting on school being out on the 21st of December, which is a Monday,  for Christmas break. Well.....apparently it's not. And now that the mission no longer has Facebook and is now half the size it was, we were all freaking out about how we're going to get people there. We feel lost and don't know where to go or where to start. We thought of posters and stuff but missionaries are poor. Here's the miracle part. There's a man in our area who works for a printing company. And he offered to provide 150 posters and 10,000 pass-along cards for the entire mission. FOR FREE. I just about cried. And then he proceeded to tell us that he had connections to get an ad in the local newspaper and possibly on the radio! AHHHHH WHAT! I could literally feel the burden being lifted from my shoulders. Again, this is God's fireside. When we do things that honor and praise Him, He will ALWAYS help it work out. ALWAYS.

Sister West and I sing everywhere we go. Every dinner appointment. Every lesson. Every door contact. It's a blast! And we sound pretty good. (If I do say so myself).

This last week I got to go on exchanges with my beloved Sister Richins. If you don't remember, she's the very Christlike one that I was in a trio with in Hooper with Sister Betzold. I'm her STL so I got to spend the day with her. I always learn a lot when I'm with her and this time I was reminded of a lesson I was taught at the very beginning of my mission. We were in a lesson with a teenage girl and we were teaching the restoration when it was Sister Richin's turn to share the First Vision (see link for short description - Ed). She messed up quite a bit on it...she said things backwards that didn't make sense at all. But as she was saying it, the girl we were teaching started crying. Then I started crying. Then Sister Richins started crying. The spirit was so thick in the room. And it testified that what Sister Richins had just shared was true. In this moment I remembered when I first came out and how I would always say, "I'm not a perfect teacher. But the spirit is." I've honestly forgotten that over time. I think because I'm older in the mission, I pressure myself into thinking that that doesn't apply to me anymore. That it's all up to me now. Like I've taken the training wheels off. It was a nice reminder that I wouldn't be able to teach at all without the spirit. No one would listen to me. But because the spirit teaches them, they listen. And they want to know more.

Feature Film depicting the First Vision experience of Joseph Smith - Ed.

I have definitely felt strengthened lately. To sum up how I feel, I feel like Alma in Alma 26:12:
Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.
Love you all!

- Sister Sarlls 
P.S. 38 days till Christmas

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Now I see

email 11 Nov 2015

Sorry this is late! We've been busy busy!

Well yesterday we got our Samsung tablets that we're piloting. They can't get iPads in Europe or Asia so they're having us test out the Samsung Galaxy to see if we should get these so that other countries can use them as well. So far, honestly, I'm very confused by it, haha. It can do more things than our iPads could. But this is definitely for computer people. But it's good! It's a blessing even though I don't know how to use it yet.

Okay. Time for the embarrassing Sister Sarlls story of the week. The fact that it's a weekly occurrence is rather sad. But this week Sister West and I were sitting in a YSA (Young Single Adult - Ed.) ward sacrament meeting in the front pew. Well our investigators in that ward didn't end up coming, so we were going to go to another ward but we didn't want to disturb everyone so we were just going to slip out the side door really quick. Well we gathered our stuff, counted to three, and zoomed out the door. And into the SACRAMENT PREPARATION ROOM. (Basically a closet with a sink. - Ed.) And then we have to turn around and walk alllllllllllllll the way to the back door in front of everyone. And of course they had just seen what we had done. We ran out as fast as we could and I felt like Napoleon Dynamite running off the stage. We had quite a few texts from people making fun of us, haha. It was hilarious but VERY embarrassing.

Today Sister West and I went to the Burger Bar and every month they have a different exotic meat. So this month is kangaroo! We went and got a kangaroo burger in honor of my Aussie sister. It was actually delicious and I would recommend kangaroo to anyone. Another fun thing we did today (and almost always do) is we went bowling. I've found a new gift of mine. I am MUCH better at bowling backwards and under my legs than I am normal bowling. I played a whole game bowling backwards and got a few strikes and ended with 117 points. I did a game normal bowling and got 46 points, hahaha. I don't know why I'm so backwards with everything. But it was pretty fun.

The musical fireside is very slowly coming together. We only have about 2 songs left to choose and then we'll start rehearsals. Yikes! I feel like we just ended the last one! This one is going to be wonderful though. We've never done a Christmas fireside before. On the subject of musical firesides, the recordings for the last musical fireside can be listened to and downloaded at this link:

https://soundcloud.com/user-804581904/sets/musical-fireside-sept-2015

This is seriously a huge miracle that you can hardly hear any of my cracks in the recording. God is good.

We've decided to go to an institute class on our p-day at Weber State. It's been really exciting! I love deep gospel discussions that we go into together. Perks of serving in YSA.

I've been studying a lot about the natural man lately in the scriptures. A lot of references that I looked at talk about how the natural man can't know of spiritual truths. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
As I was reading about the natural man, the thought came to me about how much the world focuses on being "natural" now. I've never thought about it being a bad thing. We always think about natural beauty, natural hair, natural ingredients, natural talent, natural produce, etc. All of those things sound appealing. But part of being "natural" is not being altered. Isn't this life our time to be altered? I think today people like to justify being rude or stubborn because that's "who they are naturally". We shouldn't have to change ourselves for other people, right? WRONG. This life is here for us to change. And we are changing for someone. We're changing for Jesus Christ. To show Him our appreciation for His atonement. I love that we don't have to be our natural selves. We can be our perfected selves. :)

One of the songs in the musical fireside is called "Sweet Little Jesus Boy". I was studying the words to this song and one of the lines that stood out to me was "Our eyes were blind, we did not see. We didn't know who you were."   I think a lot of times people think we live the gospel because we are "blinded". But we follow Jesus Christ and his gospel because we see! The followers of Jesus Christ weren't blinded. They saw who he was and they saw the eternal perspective of His ministry and His purpose. And it's the same today. We aren't obedient because we're blind. We're obedient because we can see. I know this gospel is 100% perfect and 100% true. I know it with all that I am.



Sorry again for this being late! This week has been awesome and I'm having fun every single day:)

Love, Sister Sarlls (44 days till Christmas)



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Paperwork

email 03 Nov 2015

Well this week has been awesome! Sister West and I are having a blast together. We actually cover two stakes. A home (Family - Ed.) stake and a YSA (Young Single Adult - Ed.) stake. YSA is verrrrrry different from a home stake. First, because sacrament meeting is extremely quiet. I felt like my stomach grumbling was echoing! Second, their testimonies are short and to the point. No one does a 45 minute testimony. Something that is odd though is some people kind of advertise themselves while they're up there. They'll casually slide in the fact that they're single or that they're a returned missionary haha kind of funny. But I guess that's one of the purposes of YSA!

Sister west gave me nasty Australian candy. And nasty Australian vegemite.

video

We're teaching a lot of fun people! There's one guy, Richard, who's from Kenya. Like STRAIGHT FROM KENYA. He travels around running marathons. That's literally his job is running races. So he came here and met the missionaries and last weekend got baptized and received the priesthood. This past Thursday we got to go with him to do baptisms in the temple for the first time. It was so special! It was so neat to see how everyone in the temple made him feel so special for his first time. But this morning he left to go back to Kenya. I was sad to see him go! But he took a whole box of Book of Mormons with him that are in Swahili. He's got that missionary spirit!

Okay last person that we're teaching that I wanted to tell y'all about. His name is James. James CRACKS. ME. UP. He's 25 and he wants to come back to church. He's overcoming his drinking and smoking problems. We were talking about the atonement and I said Christ had felt every stubbed toe to every broken heart. Well that really resonated with him. A little too well actually. He started dramatically telling us this story about how he stubbed his pinky toe. He said it was one of those moments where, "It made me question all of my life plans." And he went into his room and said, "I dropped to the floor and just rolled around. Just rolling and cursing." We were all dying at his dramatic pinky toe story. But if that's the moment that helps him gain a testimony of the atonement, then it works! Also he talked to the bishop about getting the priesthood. But he was saying, "I'm not sure if I want to get the priesthood." And we all felt sad. We asked him why and his response was, "I just don't want to spend my weekends doing paperwork." We were like....Uhhh......what?? "Yeah it just seems like it would be a lot of paperwork." Hahahah, oh James. He's awesome. Now that he understands that the priesthood isn't endless amounts of paperwork, he's working towards it. :)

On Halloween we had to go in early. But we got permission to watch Cokeville Miracle. It was amazing! I loved it. It was an interesting experience to think that it actually happened. I love the message of prayer in this movie. Because of the humble prayers of the children and the teachers and people around the world, everyone was able to survive the bomb. It truly was a miracle. I would encourage everyone to watch it. It's great:)

Cokeville Miracle Trailer

This last week we attended a scripture study group for the YSA. And today we went to an institute up at Weber State University. I absolutely loved being spiritually fed that way! We studied Isaiah in 2 Nephi 14. The part that stood out to me was verse 4:
When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning.
When it talked about "washing and burning" it made me think of baptism (washing) and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (burning). But it also said they're being washed by the "spirit of judgement." We can be cleansed by Heavenly Father's loving correction. His judgement helps us realize how we can become better. And what we can do to be cleansed every week. Judgement is part of the process of becoming perfect.

Another scripture I studied this week is Matthew 4:18-20:
18 ¶And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
I've studied this passage a lot. But this time something that stood out to me is how hard it would be to be an apostle. You have to leave behind your livelihood. Your family. Literally everything. I tried to put myself in that situation. Just dropping what you're doing. No questions asked and following Christ. It took me a LONG time to come on a mission. But the apostles did it fully and completely without delay. It made me look at the motivation of my obedience. If it's because it's convenient. If it's because of the blessings. Or if it's because I love Him. I think the apostles felt that strong love for Christ as soon as He spoke and that's why they followed so willingly.

Well I'm having a blast here in the Utah Ogden mission! I'm loving every second. Love ya bunches!

-Sister Sarlls