Monday, February 22, 2016

"And now I bid unto you all, farewell." Moroni 10:34

email 22 Feb 2016

This last week was one of the most humbling weeks of my mission. I was able to go on exchanges in inner-city Ogden. I've been in rural areas almost my entire mission. The city is sooooo different. We went to this apartment building to find people to teach. It turns out it was an apartment building for mothers that went through an abusive relationship and it's transitional housing between being homeless and finding a place to stay. Well the night before we had gone to a funeral and they had a TON of extra food. Like pans on pans of casseroles and rolls. So we offered to take it, not knowing what we would do with it. Fast forwarding back to the apartment building. We talked to everyone there and no one was interested in being taught. But the spirit brought to our remembrance all the food we had in the back of our car. We asked the big group of women and children if any of them needed food. You would not believe the reaction all these people had. They were overwhelmed with joy and emotion. It honestly made me feel as though we were right there with Christ when he fed the five thousand with the loaves and the fishes. (The Utah version is rolls and funeral potatoes.) It was really cool to see how afterwards, some of the people actually wanted to be taught. I believe it's because they felt Christ's love for them. I don't know exactly what it was. But I know we all felt love for each other. Love is the essence of missionary work.

I'm not sure what to say in this letter, as it is my last one as a full-time missionary. I think I'll start it off with a count down of my time here in my mission. :)

78 weeks
58 wards (8 stakes)
47 talks
18 months
10 companions
9 skirts
8 apartments
7 cars
6 areas
5 tubes of mascara
4 kills (companions who completed their mission and went home)
4 musical firesides
3 zones
2 mission presidents and their wives
1 mission
Unlimited and eternal amounts of blessings, friends, and experiences.

There's no way I would be able to sum up my mission in any amount of statistics, numbers, or even words. As my time is getting short, people ask a lot of questions. "What will you miss the most?" "What's been the best part of your mission?"  Two of the HARDEST questions. 

What's been the best part? There have been countless of bests in my mission. But by far the best thing is seeing people change. I've seen myself change. I've seen my companions change. And I've seen the people I've met, taught, and served change. I've come to know Jesus Christ so well. He is my best friend. And that's why Jesus Christ is my best friend. Because He loves every single one of us so much that He changes us. His gospel changes us. 

What will I miss the most? I will miss testifying. I will miss promising people blessings in the name of Christ. I will miss all the doors slamming in our faces. I will miss the ones that were opened wide. I will miss saying prayer after prayer after prayer for miracles. I will miss having someone by my side every second of every day. I will miss putting on broken shoes, tattered skirts, and worn shirts just to go out and find those who are broken, tattered, and worn. But most of all, I will miss being a representative of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I will miss His name on my chest.

So what I want to leave you with is my testimony. I know this gospel is true. I know it makes us happy beyond belief. Because I've felt it for the last 18 months. I've felt Heavenly Father's overwhelming love for each of His children. He knows us perfectly. Inside and out. I know the Book of Mormon is true. It's my favorite book. It has brought me closer to Christ and His love than anything else this world can offer. Please read it and pray about it. I know that families are meant to be and can be eternal. I know that there are no lost causes. The atonement is real and it heals. Please use it! Please come unto Him! I feel like Alma in chapter 26:16 "Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." If nothing else, please know that I love this gospel with all my heart and all my soul and all that I am. And I love being a missionary in the Utah Ogden Mission.

With all my missionary love,
Sister Sarlls
(Friend Sister Sarlls on FaceBook here. - Ed.)

(A few links for those interested in learning more. - Ed. Get your free copy of The Book of Mormon here. Read about Jesus Christ hereRead about the Plan of Salvation hereRead about Family Values here.)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Oh Happy Day!

email 15 Feb 2016

Golly gee! Okay I had a little freak out moment that this is my second to last email. I'm trying not to think about it. But it just keeps going faster and faster! Ahhhhh. It's okay though. :) Well I've been super sick lately because of all this inversion. So my email may be a little lacking today because of that. It's all the pollution in the air that's trapped because it can't go anywhere because of the mountains. So we breath in all the pollution. Someone told me that if we run a mile, it's like smoking 3 packs of cigarettes. Crazy! It's been super gloomy and gross outside. I'm ready for the sun!

Well I have a lot of fun experiences to write about this week!

Last Monday night at FHE we played with bubble balls! It's those things that are blown up and you are inside. Not the hamster looking ones. But your legs are outside of it. Well we got in them and played soccer and played sharks and minnows. Haha. I got knocked down SOOO many times. But it was really fun and bouncy! I have some battle scars that I'm proud of, too.

So this last week we had a first. We shaved someone's dog for service. And it wasn't just a dog. It was an Airedale. They're huuuuuge and curly. We didn't know that they have a specific haircut either. But the dogs hair was so thick that the clippers wouldn't go through it! It took us 4 whopping hours to shave that bad boy! It was a lot of hard work. And we were just praying that we did his haircut correctly. I definitely have a lot of respect for dog groomers, now.

We never really get a lot of the same foods, but when we do, it's all in one week. So we had spaghetti 5 times out of the 6 dinners this last week. lets just say thinking of Texas food is one of the things that's making it okay to come home soon. :)

We went on exchanges twice this week. The sisters have been having some struggles with loving the work and using things they like to do to help them cope with stress and assist in the work. So I did a lot of arts and crafts this week! We painted, colored, sang, you name it! Man, we have some AMAZING artists in our mission! Like HOLY COW. We made a lot of little cards that have quotes, scriptures, and hymns on them. Then we made copies of them to place in sacrament programs so everyone gets a little note from the sisters :). It's been really fun and the members LOVE it!

Last Tuesday we got to go on a temple trip as a mission! I love the Ogden temple so so so much. It's just beautiful. On our way back to the dressing rooms, they let us stop and take a look at the different sealing rooms they have. This may be odd, but I think the sealing rooms in the Ogden temple are my favorite. They're even more beautiful then the celestial room. But I just love what the sealing room is for. That's where eternal families are created. And that's the ultimate goal, isn't it? It's such an amazing thing. I'm so grateful to be sealed to my family forever. And I'm so grateful for my savior Jesus Christ. He, His life, and His atonement are what makes it possible. It was a wonderful temple trip. I was able to really feel Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's love for me.

Also, HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! Yesterday we spoke in one of our YSA wards. They asked us to speak on love. Which is kind of ironic for a YSA Ward, haha. But we decided to speak on God's love. It's interesting how sometimes you have one plan in your mind, and God just changes it completely. I absolutely love it when that happens! I had the intent of speaking on the hope of God's love. But instead, I was meant to speak on how God shows His love for us by giving us trials and by chastening us. I felt kind of bad, honestly, haha. I didn't want it to come across as me rebuking them. There's a primary song called God's Love. Some of the lyrics are these:

God's Love
by Elizabeth Cushing Taylor
We do not see the wind;We only hear it sigh.It makes the grasses bendWhenever it goes by.
We do not see God’s love,But in our hearts we knowHe watches over usWherever we may go.
Of course, we can't physically see God's love. It's like the wind where we can only feel it. But also it says that the wind is there to bend the grass. So it is with God's love. We can feel His love and know it's there when we see and feel ourselves bending. I looked up the definition of Love in the dictionary. It's European root means "desire". So plugging that into the song lyrics, it says.
We do not see God’s desire,But in our hearts we knowHe watches over usWherever we may go.
Sometimes it's hard to see God's will and His desire. But as we allow Him to bend us, we will be able to feel it. And of course, bending can hurt. But it hurts more when you aren't flexible, haha. As we keep a flexible heart and allow God to bend us, we'll be happy. :) Its one of the ways God shows His love for us. And we can show it back by taking the road He has laid out for us.

It's still been a slow week. But Heavenly Father has been so gracious to allow us to see some fruits of our labors this week. Seeing answers to prayers. Whether it was our own prayers or whether it was someone else's. It was a fun week and a fun Valentine's Day. :) I hope all of you felt the love of God and of Jesus Christ. If not, search, ponder, and pray. I promise you will feel it. :) I love this work with all my heart. Don't you forget it!

Sister Sarlls

Monday, February 8, 2016

Super Bowl? More like the stupid bowl!

email 08 Feb 2016

Hello hello family and friends! What to say about this week...hmm....its been pretty slow honestly. It's been kind of a rough week. No one has been answering us on our phone. We don't know if it's because everyone hates us or if it's because our phone is messed up. Haha. We're gonna go with our phone being messed up. :) Even though it wasn't a super busy week, it was still chock-full of things we were able to experience and learn!

We go on 2 exchanges a week with sisters and it's EXHAUSTING. I feel like Sister Law and I are hardly companions some weeks!

On Tuesday, all the leadership in the mission was trained on how to use FaceBook and how to use Skype and FaceTime to teach people! It was a really good training and it opened our eyes BIG to all the possibilities using media can bring! I'm excited to be using it more and more! So if you're reading this and you aren't my friend on FaceBook, please add me! (link) I don't post very often. But I love being able to share my testimony with people EVERYWHERE, not just in Ogden. :)

Okay I'm going to say it, I HATE THE SUPER BOWL. It makes it nearly impossible to find anyone at home, and if they are home, they get upset with us knocking on their door. And everyone was making the excuse that they couldn't come to church because of the Super Bowl. Even though it started after all the blocks of church were done. I even promised this guy that if he went to church, his team would win. We were on exchanges so the guy I said that to is in another area. So I can't exactly follow up with him. But I'm sure he went, and they won. :)

In sacrament meeting yesterday, we heard this story about a little girl and a grandma. The girl was complaining to her grandma about her trials in life. But then her grandma took her into the kitchen and put three pots on the stove. The put carrots in one, eggs in one, and coffee beans in another.  She let them each boil for 20 minutes and then they observed each one of these items. The carrots, once hard, were now mushy and soft. The eggs, once liquid on the inside, was now a hard boiled egg. The the beans had produced coffee around it. I loved the moral of this story. Which one are we in times of hardship and trial? Are we the carrots? We seem strong but then once adversity comes our way and the heat is turned up, we get mushy and loose our strength. Are we the eggs? We have a humble and malleable heart until hardship comes our way. Then our heart hardens to where it can't be changed or moved. Or are we the beans? Where we turn the water, the thing that gives us the trial, into something sweet. We use it for our good and our growth. It was a thought provoking story and it caused me to look inward to myself and see which one I was. I know that Heavenly Father has situations for each of us to go through that aren't easy. But as we follow His path for us and trust in Him, we can turn our weaknesses into strengths. It's hard to keep that mindset in the middle of a trial. But I know it's true and it blesses us. :)

I was reading in Alma 12 in the Book of Mormon this week. (Of course, because it's my favorite book.) This specific verse really stuck out to me and showed me how much Heavenly Father loves us.
"10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full." (link)
Of course we want to be the people who's hearts are soft. But when our hearts are hard, it doesn't say "the same receiveth NO word!" No. Heavenly Father still wants to give us a chance to draw near to Him. Even when sometimes we probably are acting prideful and hopeless, He doesn't see us that way. He sees all the potential in us, and He wants to give us everything that He can to make sure we're on His path.

I had a really neat experience yesterday while taking the sacrament. We were in one of our YSA wards so it was really quiet. And I was thinking of all the things I had messed up this last week. It really started getting to me and my self esteem. But as I drank the water and put the cup in the tray, I heard the clink it made. I don't know why this stood out to me. But I started hearing every clink in the chapel. With each clink I imagined it being one of my worries, one of my sins, or one of my mistakes, falling away from me. Burying it. Leaving it with Christ. Imagine all the empty cups piled under the tray. Everyone's mistakes are under there. And they place it under the cloth, with Christ. We can give it to Him. He wants it. I love the sacrament and the ability to partake of it every week. I can't describe what I felt exactly. But I could feel light coming out from my heart. Jesus Christ is here to heal us. Even in the little things. As long as we give it to Him.

I love it out here! I never want to leave. (Sorry family). :)


Sister Sarlls

Monday, February 1, 2016

"Kill it with the sword of Faith!" - Sister Richins

email 01 Feb 2016

[Sorry for the late posting of this letter. Totally my fault, but worth the wait! - Ed]

Well this week went by insanely fast! As usual. It was a really awesome and great week though! I'm really so blessed to be in this area. Everyone is just so loving towards us.

This week we made Valentine's Day sugar cookies for people! We made sugar cookies and frosting from scratch. I can say that I'm very proud of us :) because they were delicious. We kept them in the trunk of our car and we kept on having to tell ourselves, "We're handing out cookies, not eating them. We're handing out cookies, not eating them." But they turned out super cute! Since missionaries don't really celebrate the relationship part of Valentine's Day, we put John 3:16 on there.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
I love this scripture because it shows both Heavenly Father's love for us and also Jesus Christ's love for us! So that's what we'll be celebrating this Valentine's Day :)

Last p-day Sister Law, Sister O'Connor, and I MADE OUR FIRST SNOW MAN. I always thought it was a myth that you rolled a snowball in the snow and it built up. I thought that was just on cartoons. BUT ITS REAL. It was a blast! We made him a little missionary and we ended up leaving the Book of Mormon there for someone to find later. :)

So this last week I got to go on exchanges with R-Money. (Sister Richins) it was a blast to be back together with her for a bit! We were in my area and we didn't have many miles left for the month that we could use. But I kept getting a feeling like we should visit a certain Ward. But it was the farthest away and would use a lot of miles. But we put our trust in the Lord and did it. So we went around a trailer park trying to find some people in there. We went to go find this one girls trailer and when we got there, it was literally gone. The trailer had been removed. We were like "oh no. It's gonna be one of those days." But we quickly repented for thinking and saying that. And it was AWESOME. We found 5 new people that day that wanted to come to church and FHE! It was so great! Repentance is real! And so is choosing to have a good attitude!

2 days after V's baptism, her honey, L, passed away. We were so sad for her. But then we thought of all the miracles that went into this. She was originally going to be baptized on the 30th. But her family couldn't come so we moved it to the 23rd. Heavenly Father wanted L to be able to see it. He also wanted V to have the gospel and the gift of the Holy Ghost for this specific trial in her life. And in a year, V can go to the temple. And L's work can be done in the temple. Another miracle. Heavenly Father timed it perfectly so they could be sealed in the temple for time and all eternity as soon as possible. Family is God's plan. That's why it's called the plan of HAPPINESS. :) President Jaggi was so kind and gave us permission to attend the funeral an Brigham city, which is outside our mission boundaries. It was so good to be there for V. I'm so glad she has the gospel of Jesus Christ and that she has such wonderful family to help her through this time.

I've been studying a lot about the Jaredites and the story of them crossing the seas. It says that as they were on the sea that
"...the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind." (Ether 6:8 - link)
I'm sure being in the barges was kind of scary. Flipping around in there. If it were me I would be terrified that we were going to the right place or that it was a storm that would kill us. But these people had more faith than that. And comparing it to life, sometimes it probably feels like God is throwing that at us. He's giving us heavy winds and rain and storms. It probably is scary and unknown. But really, he's moving us toward our promised land. And it says the wind did never cease. Not even a little bit. As long as we have faith in Him, He will ALWAYS be blowing us forward. Another part I like is when it says
"...and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water." (Ether 6:10)
Again, in life, there are times when we're under the water. When we feel like we're drowning. But God will always provide His light for us. And that light Christ. Heavenly Father is so good to us and so merciful. He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to lead us when we're under the water as well as when we're above. There are so many people in the world. But He loves, cares, and guides each one. Remember to reach out to Him! Because I can promise you that His hand is already extended. He will give you the light and the wind to take YOU to YOUR promised land.

Well there have been a lot of miracles his week. It's been amazing to see the hand of God all around us. In all sorts of situations and people. I love this gospel so much. I'm so grateful to have a chance every day to testify of my Savior, His gospel, and the happiness it brings me! I can't say it enough! I wish I could tell the world! I love every bit.


Sister Sarlls