Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Silent Night

email 29 Dec 2015

Howdy y'all!

This last week, of course, was amazing because of CHRISTMAAAAAAAS!!! We got some gifts from the mission and Sister Law and I together received 16 Hershey bars, haha, not to mention all the other treats we have received. Lets just say going to the gym will be one of our New Years resolutions for 2016. But really we have been overly blessed with people's love here. One of our favorite families let us come over Christmas morning to open gifts with them. It was a wonderful Christmas morning to spend with family! And I mean both my real family and the family I've made while here on my mission. :)

It's been FREEZING over here! Really. Two days ago we woke up and it was 1 degree. One. We are so so SO grateful to have a car right now. I hope that all the missionaries out there on bikes or walking are getting rides. Because I've started having a real fear of my fingers or nose falling off from being so cold, haha. But luckily we have a car, layers and layers of clothing, and hand warmers.

Not much has happened this week for me to talk a lot about. But I'll share a few things that were really special to me.

This year the hymn Silent Night has stuck out to me a lot. In my mind and in my heart. I was a little bit confused about why that was. It seemed that every time it came up, I felt the spirit very strongly. And I felt my heart swell. It had never done that before when I heard this hymn. I saw one of my mom's Facebook posts saying that Silent Night was my Grandma's favorite Christmas hymn. I believe that I felt her influence every time we sang it or heard it. It was a special experience for me and I've learned to love and cherish "Silent Night."

Christmas Eve was also a spiritual experience for me. We were driving around caroling, delivering gifts and messages, and as we were standing on someone's doorstep, Sister Law looked at me and said "It's 8:30 pm on Christmas Eve and we're knocking doors." As she said that, the spirit hit my heart. The only way I can explain it is it felt like someone shoved a hand warmer inside of me. In that moment I realized where I was and what I was doing. I looked at her and said, "Yes, we are. And there's nothing else I would rather be doing on Christmas Eve." 

If anyone knows me, you know that I love Christmas. This was probably my first year ever to not have Christmas decorations everywhere. That night we went home and set up our nativity. We turned on our Christmas lights and got out our scriptures to read Luke 2 (link). As we started off with a song and a prayer, the spirit entered our home. Even though our house wasn't the most tidy or the most decorated or "Christmassy", the spirit was so strong. There's nothing I would rather be doing, especially at Christmas time, than testifying of Jesus Christ. This has honestly been the least "Christmassy" Christmas I've ever had. But it was by far the best one I've ever had. I felt so close to my Savior that night. It truly was a silent night and a holy night.

Videos of the Christmas Story

I know my Savior lives. I know He loves each of us and is here to strengthen us individually. I know we can turn to Him in every situation. I'm so incredibly happy to be here on a mission. I know I say it a lot. But i mean it. There's nothing else I would rather be doing. :)

Love, Sister Sarlls

Christmas Skype with Mom and family!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

It's a Christmas Miracle!

email 22 Dec 2015

It's a Christmas miracle!

Man oh man. This week ... so many Christmas miracles. Just wonderful things that have been happening.

First news: I got my iPad back! YAAAAY! Also I got Facebook back! There's only about 10 of us with Facebook right now to test it out. But I'm back on so please add me (link) if you haven't yet!

Well Dani got baptized this last Sunday!!! It was such a beautiful baptismal service. She was so ready. And we had 4 investigators able to come to her baptism! It was amazing. Also her family that weren't members came to support her at her baptism. We always share the first lesson while they get dressed. This time it was Sister West's last time to do this. And her last baptism. It was pretty sad but also very moving. She's not a crier. But I could hear her voice quiver here and there as if she were about to. But don't tell her I said that. ;)

I think for parts of my mission, I've had moments where I've thought to Heavenly Father, "I'm on a mission, you're welcome." As if it were a favor to Him. And looking back on it, those parts were the hardest parts of my mission. The parts where I think, "I'm on a mission, thank you!" are the parts that have brought me happiness and peace.

This week had a lot of ups and downs with everything going on, the musical fireside, Sister West leaving, being a STL (Sister Training Leader), more musical fireside. And I know it's from looking inward instead of outward. I've been humbled a lot this week and I've had quite a bit of "you're welcome" moments. But after all the miracles and wonderful events that have happened this week, I can't help but say, "I'm on a mission, thank you!" I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world. :)

The musical fireside was yesterday. BOY, AM I POOPED. I felt like a zombie. But it was just wonderful. The spirit was there. And so were angels. We have some recordings of it, and I promise you, IT WAS NOT US. It sounded nothing like us in rehearsals. Heavenly Father is so good to us. I'm so so sooooooo eternally grateful for the opportunities I've had to participate in the musical firesides that our mission does. I've felt my testimony grow each time. The whole thing was just great. I wish EVERYONE could've been there.

[Listen to Sister Sarlls' performance of Who Would Imagine A King at this link. - Ed]

Who Would Imagine A King
Mommies and daddies always believeThat their little angels are special indeedAnd you could grow up to be anythingBut who would imagine a king?
A shepherd or teacher is what you could beOr maybe a fisherman out on the seaOr maybe a carpenter building thingsBut who would imagine a king?
It was so clear when the wise men arrivedAnd the angels were singing your nameThat the world would be different 'cause you were aliveThat's why heaven stood still to proclaim
One day an angel said quietlyThat soon he would bring something special to meAnd of all of the wonderful gifts he could bring
Who would imagine?Who could imagine?Who would imagine a king? 
Well Sister West is gone now. I'm sad to see her go. She's taught me so much! But I'm happy I have Sister Law here with me to help me through this time:)

This last Wednesday and Thursday we got together as a mission and read the Book of Mormon in 24 hours!  We spent Wednesday reading from 8 am to 9 pm. And then on Thursday we read from 7:30 am to 5 pm. We had a few musical numbers in between and we had different people come and read for us like the office staff, President and Sister Jaggi, and even a member of the quorum of the 70! (Dani wanted to come with us, too! Gosh, that girl's testimony is amazing. It just radiates out of her.)

It was a really fun experience and it just furthered my testimony of the Book of Mormon and the guidance it gives to us. I love the very end of the Book of Mormon the most. When Moroni is bidding us farewell. I love the promises he give us and the very last thing he wants us to do, his last words, are to come unto Christ. (link) That's what our purpose is as missionaries is to invite others to come unto Christ. There are a lot of people that I meet and only come in contact with once. I want my final and last words with these people to be inviting them to come unto Christ. If I do this, I have fulfilled my purpose, as Moroni fulfilled his. I love the Book of Mormon. I draw closer to my Savior and know Him more every time I open it.

Of course, I need to share my Christmas Miracles!

1. We had to cut down the fireside to an hour and it was EXACTLY AN HOUR TO THE MINUTE. 
2. We sounded good at the fireside! 
3. Dani got baptized! 
4. I'm pretty sure our fireside "saved Christmas" just like any good Christmas Story does. 
5. The biggest miracle of all, A Savior is Born. He was born so we could be saved, redeemed, and set free.

We were teaching a little kid and we were teaching that Christ's name was in Christmas. He responded with, "All that's left is Mas! And that means MORE in Spanish! So Christmas means More Christ!" I loved having this simple lesson from this amazing child of God. That's truly what Christmas is all about is having more Christ in our lives. Just like in 2 Nephi 25:26 when it says:
And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
Let's talk MORE of Christ. Let's rejoice MORE of Christ. Let's preach MORE of Christ. And when we do that, we will become MORE LIKE Christ.

I love you all and I love this time of year! HAVE A MERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!

Love, Sister Sarlls

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What Can I Give Him, Poor As I Am?

email 15 Dec 2015

Our weeks keep getting busier and busier! I try my best to include everything in my email. But there are just too many activities to get them all in! We've been having fun in our trio! It's a pretty good dynamic and we're getting better at teaching with the three of us. We've been getting a lot of lessons done from being able to split up.

This is something that I wanted to share but I didn't know how to go about putting it into my email. So it'll just be it's own thing. A Kangaroo is a mixture of a deer and a t-rex. 

We've had some amazing lessons and miracles happen this last week! I don't remember if I've talked about Alex or not. I think I have. Well Alex hasn't read in front of us. Ever. We had a lesson with him where we sat in silence for 15 minutes waiting for him to read. For a while we were contemplating if he could actually read or not. But in this last lesson, HE READ 9 WORDS! I know this doesn't sound like a big deal. BUT IT WAS HUGE! It was a miracle.

Another miracle! We were pondering which ward we should go to Sunday morning. We prayed about it and felt we should go to a specific ward that has no work in it right now and that I hadn't attended yet. So we went there and afterwards we were chatting with some people when this lady comes up to us and tells us that a young woman was there with her two sisters that weren't members. So we walk over there to introduce ourselves and it turns out that these two girls have been going to church for 2 months! When we talked to them they told us that they really really wanted to be baptized! So later that day we went to their house for the first lesson. These girls are prepared by Heavenly Father to accept the gospel at this time. These two amazing girls are going to be baptized together on December the 26th! And the best part is that their mom watched their example and is now coming back to church and sitting in on the lessons. Heavenly Father is so merciful towards us. Blessings and miracles keep being poured (or snowed) upon us!

Yesterday we woke up to a whopping SEVEN inches of snow! Can I just say how beautiful it was? Ogden it kind of ugly with it because all the snow turns dirty and black. But out in the country (where I always seem to be) it's BREATHTAKING. It looks like a calendar.

The snow made me think of the song "In the Bleak Midwinter". It starts off talking about snow then turns to Christ's birth. I was pondering why it did that and thought it was because Christ came in a similar way to snow. Quiet, pure, almost unnoticeable. But when all is done, it makes a huge difference. And it's noticeable. Just like His atonement. Some don't like snow. But today we went sledding and I had a BLAST! I think that's also like Christ and His atonement. If we use it, it makes up happy! Just like I used the snow. If we use His atonement by being the best we can be and by keeping His commandments, we have a blast! Sometimes we look at it as being freezing cold and wet. We look at the gospel as restricting or hard. But when we live the gospel, we love it.

In the Bleak Midwinter - Sissel with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra

"In the Bleak Midwinter" is a Christmas carol based on a poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti written before 1872 in response to a request from the magazine Scribner's Monthly for a Christmas poem. It was published posthumously in Rossetti's Poetic Works in 1904. The poem became a Christmas carol after it appeared in The English Hymnal in 1906 with a setting by Gustav Holst. (Wikipedia)
In the bleak midwinter
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficedThe Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,The ox and ass and camel which adore.
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart. 

We've been singing to everyone that we can sing to. Our favorite to sing right now is "In the Bleak Midwinter". It's fun because we all three sing so we can sing in three part harmony and we sound pretty good, if I do say so myself. :) One of our favorite families invited us over for their family Christmas dinner and party. And when we were leaving we left them with a song. I couldn't help but notice a lady in the back starting to cry. After our song she came up to us and proceeded to tell us how she was just reading the poem of "In the Bleak Midwinter" and how much the poem touched her heart. She felt a real need to "Give Him her heart" as the poem says. She was having a rough time that specific day and she said that our song reminded her that she needed to turn to God more in her life. It was a really special experience to know that we can deliver revelation for Heavenly Father through the power of music.

I've been studying the Christmas Story in preparation for Christmas and also the musical fireside. As I was studying, I realized that it would be CRAZY to try and follow a star. If I tried to follow a star, it wouldn't go too well. But I thought that the star they followed was a lot brighter than the other ones. It was obviously the star to follow. So it is in life. The gap between God and the world is getting bigger and bigger. There is a noticeably bright star we need to follow. There's a reason one of Christ's names is "The Light". I'm sure it still wasn't easy for them to follow a star, even as bright as it was. And it's not always easy to make the right decision to follow Jesus Christ in life. But I don't believe they would have found Christ if they had followed the general direction of the star. They followed with exactness. And so must we. For if we follow the brightest, most glorious star, we will reach Him.

I'm doing great out here! I'm so so so incredibly grateful to be on a mission and to be here during Christmas. I love my Savior and I invite all of you to discover for yourself why He was born. #ASaviorIsBorn

Love, Sister Sarlls 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

He is the Light of the World

08 Dec 2015

Hey yall! This week was great. A lot of ups and downs and in between. But first, TRANSFERS. So Sister West and I are staying together for her last 2 weeks! I'm sooooooo happy. I love Sister West to death (literally [meaning until the end of her mission - Ed]). We're the STL's (Sister Training Leaders) over the entire mission now. So we have unlimited miles on our car because we're having to drive all over, haha. It's going to be pretty crazy being in charge of the musical fireside AND being the only STL's in the mission. But I know it's what Heavenly Father has in store for me right now. Here's another fun fact, we're going to be in a trio! We're getting Sister Law. Sister Richins just finished training her and she's going to come with us and when Sister West goes home, she'll take her place and an STL. It's going to be a fun transfer. Plus this is the fireside, Christmas, and New Years transfer. There's a lot of fun things coming up!

One of our bishops owns a recording studio! Like a legit one. That's his job. So last P-day he invited Sister West and I to go record a song. IT WAS SO FUN. It was actually pretty hard though. It's a lot different singing live where you need to project everything. The microphone to record music picks up EVERYTHING. I lightly scratched my finger and they had to cut out the noise it made. WEIRD. But we should be getting the recording of our song pretty soon. :)

It's funny that my friend Allie Hansen sent me her weekly mission letter and named it "The Birds". Because I've had my own bird experiences this week. First off, birds are not my favorite. I'm quite scared of them. We were at a dinner and we were sharing our message at the end when a BIRD came and started flying around the room!!! SERIOUSLY. Who let's their pet bird roam free like that?! So then we went home and I was opening the door and out of the wreath on the door FLIES A BIRD. AHHHHH. It almost hit my face! But I got knocked to the ground because it startled me so much, haha. On Sunday we had dinner at the Jaggi's house and we were going downstairs to watch the Christmas devotional when I see a bird perched there waiting for me. Just waiting for the kill. Not really but it felt like it. Apparently the Jaggis have a bird that just flies free everywhere. All these unleashed birds are freaking me out. They're wild in Russia and they're wild in Utah.

WE GOT TO GO TO TEMPLE SQUARE AND SEE THE LIGHTS!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHH! We got to take someone we're working with. Most magical experience of my life. We were able to sit in the tabernacle and listen to a choir perform some music. It was so peaceful to sit there and listen and to feel the spirit. Ahhh. I can't even describe how amazing it was. It was just all one bit magical and spiritual experience. It really confirmed to me that Jesus is the light of the world.

The musical fireside is going so good! The first practice was kind of a train wreck. But this last rehearsal was just a miracle. Everyone knew their part. The pianists knew their music. I can't exactly explain the miracle. But there's no way we could've done it alone. We've been keeping up online at christmas.mormon.org with free daily videos and the daily GIFs. And every single thing is perfectly lined up with our musical fireside. Even to the songs we chose and the scriptures we chose and the order we put them in. They're the same as the website online for Christmas. Heavenly Father has been more than gracious in letting us see His hand in the fireside. As I was praying to Him, I told him to have Mimi to sing with us. I have full confidence she will be there with us singing praise. :)

This last week on exchanges I got to go back to Hooper and see Debi #2. It was sooooo good to see her! She's grown so much. She's the one that we promised if she read the Book of Mormon that her anxiety would go away. Well while I was there I followed up with her on it. Since I've been gone she's been reading the Book of Mormon every day and she is now off all of her anxiety and depression medication. This moment I really felt the power we have as full time missionaries. As literal representatives of our literal Savior, Jesus Christ. Sometimes I feel like it'll be the same doing member missionary work. But when she told me her news, I realized what we had just done. We aided Jesus Christ in healing someone. That's only something that can be done by a man with the priesthood or as a full time missionary. How great is our calling!  Debi is now preparing to go through the temple on February 10th. Just 19 days before I go home. I'm so grateful Heavenly Father is allowing me to see this miracle take place.

Well there are a lot of Christmas miracles taking place. I'm excited for what these next 6 weeks will bring. I love you all!

- Sister Sarlls

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

In Christ, I am alive

email 01 Dec 2015

Well right after I sent the email of no snow, IT SNOWED.  It snowed just in time for Thanksgiving! It reminded me of last year when I was with Sister Hadden. When we went around singing "For the Beauty of the Earth" to everyone we could find. This year we went to go play a mission Turkey Bowl. But my HAIR FROZE. It was 12 degrees outside and windy. NO THANK YOU, haha! But it was still a very very full day. Full of family, full of singing, full of snow, and of course, full of food. :)

One of our YSA (Young Single Adult) wards had an auction to raise money for a charity. It's the first real auction I've ever experienced (the ones with the people saying random words between numbers).  PEOPLE SPEND SO MUCH MONEY! OH MY GOSH. Well we decided to auction off a date with Sister West during her 2 weeks in the US after she's released, haha. It was kind of hilarious to see people's reactions. They were confused if it was real or not. Some people wanted to even bid for it, haha. I ended up getting a date with her for 50 dollars ;).

Okay, Sister West is so very Christ-like. I've been getting a little sick lately because I didn't have a sufficient coat to keep me warm. So we went to Ross and found one and when I went up to buy it, I didn't have enough money. It was pretty embarrassing. So we went home and we were getting ready to go out again when Sister West pulled out the jacket. She bought me the jacket that I wanted and needed. I don't know when or how she bought it. I was with her the entire time and I still don't know how she did it. Seriously this girl is so thoughtful and I love her to death. She's always looking out for others and turning outward.

We had our first rehearsal on Friday for the musical fireside. Honestly it was pretty rough, haha. But I'm having faith that Heavenly Father will provide us with angels to sing with us like he did last time. I know that the songs we picked were the songs Heavenly Father wants and needs us to do. I got a few confirmations of that this week. One was with the new Christmas Video that just came out. It's called "A Savior is Born". Everyone should watch it! Just like the other ones that the church puts out, it's beautiful. It's in a different style than the last ones. But on the website there's actually another video and some other fun things, too! When I watched "A Savior is Born" though, the spirit told my heart that we were on the right track. And every single song and the whole program is in line with the video. I'm so excited for this fireside and for everyone to watch this video!

This last week I truthfully had the hardest and worst lesson in my mission. A less active church member we were working with was progressing so much. He was really gaining so much faith. Then all of a sudden, his brother passed away. His brother was like his dad. When this happened, he just kind of fell off the face of the earth. We didn't see or hear from him for a while. Then we decided to drop by and see how he was doing. He seemed okay and let us in. Then he started expressing his anger towards God. Toward Jesus Christ. Toward us. It seriously broke my heart to see him that way. I can't explain it fully. After that lesson, Sister West and I just sat in the car and cried. Sister West isn't a crier. But it taught me that that's one of the parts of being a representative of Jesus Christ. We feel what He feels for people. I truly felt close to Jesus Christ in that moment. Even though it was one of the hardest moments of my mission.

My dear sweet grandma, Mimi, passed away this morning. She was the pioneer of our family in bringing us into the gospel. Her testimony was stronger than anyone I've known. I know the Plan of Salvation is real. I have really seen the difference it makes to have a strong knowledge of God's plan for us. But in the spirit of Thanksgiving, this is the thing I am most thankful for. I am thankful for this gospel. I'm thankful that there's a plan for us. I'm thankful that I know His plan and that my family knows His plan. I'm excited to be with Mimi in the spirit world, and one day, be with my whole family in the Celestial Kingdom.

"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

I'm loving it out here. I know I am glorifying my Father being out here. I love all of you. :)

Love, Sister Sarlls