Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Week 4: Score!

Hi Everyone!!

First of all, I'm SUPER excited and thrilled about Abby Woods putting in her mission papers!!!! :D #iknewit.  Please keep me updated!!! 

Steven's Point is great. I feel all adjusted to missionary life now.  Lots of people are at least willing to listen to our message, out in the cold! Haha.  We were fortunate enough to follow up with one potential investigator who has read half the Book of Mormon already! Awesome.  I love that book! It truly should be a bestseller.  People that read it know it's true! It has been very cold here! It's been like 28 degrees when this time last year it was around 60! Hopefully spring will come one day!

May I just say though that on my mission thus far, I have been into some VERY interesting houses.  Smoky houses! One time the people we taught asked us if we minded if they smoke like 2 feet away from us, and we were like "umm...." I wanted to die! xD But that's okay.  It's character building.  And it fills me with a much greater appreciation for my mother and her extreme swiffering!!! 

Funny story this week.  We went to District Meeting (on Tuesdays) and one of the Sisters told us how the mission president had she and her former companion go to marriage counseling!!!! Bahahah.  They disliked seeing the therapist so much that they resolved their companionship issues and got along after that.  I just thought that was funny.  

This letter is going to be much shorter this week. It's been a rather strange week, actually.

A great talk to read is Elder Holland's "Cast Not Away Therefore Thy Confidence."  I read that this morning and it really uplifted me.  The adversary is always there trying to exploit any chinks in our armor whenever we are doing something good in our lives, whether it is a mission or a baptism, or a new calling.  But I'm doing great! I am just so excited about missionary work!!  I just wish we had more people to teach. Lots of people keep telling us to come back when it's warmer.  So hopefully spring will be here soon! This week we are focusing on helping the members do member missionary work. The deal is...  they bring their friends to the fun activities and we, the missionaries, do the awkward part and invite them to learn more! It's awesome.  We don't mind if they think we are weirdos because we are going to be transferred. ;) 

But we do have some interesting investigators right now! To start off, I already mentioned Bryan to all of you.  He is in his thirties and his baptism date is April 12.  He feels ready and we are SUPER excited for him.  We taught him about following the prophet and general conference yesterday and he seems excited to watch all the sessions with us! Awesome.  

The next investigator is Skylar.  He is 11 and I finally got to meet him yesterday at church. He lives far away which makes it difficult for them to attend.  But he will (hopefully!) be baptized on April 26th.  He's not sure why HE wants to be baptized yet, so we are hoping he will continue to pray and read the Book of Mormon and feel that desire.  We as missionaries know what amazing blessings and happiness come from being baptized a member of this church but little kids don't yet.  His Mom is totally for it, though.  We still have a bunch to teach him.  :) 

I met Abigail this week. She is totally spiritual and cool.  She and I clicked when I shared my pre-mission experience with physical pain.  She has suffered from fibromyalgia!  She knows the Book of Mormon is true and believes Joseph Smith was a prophet and that God has led her to this point in her life. But...she says she can't be baptized because she is getting married to a hard-core Catholic guy, who would be very opposed if he knew she was investigating our church! He may even break off the wedding.  But she doesn't like the Catholic church and doesn't think it's true. She would be baptized if it weren't for that!  This poor girl has been pleading with God to lead her to the truth for years and Sis. Pearson and I know that the Gospel is what she has been searching for! She loves our church...But it's a hard situation.  So we've been teaching her 1 Nephi 3:7 (the Lord will provide a way!) and Ether 12 (faith!).  We know the Lord is going to help her know what to do.  Please pray for her if you feel so inclined!

And next is Barb.  Poor Barb! She too, knows the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith is a prophet.  But her husband is adamantly opposed to her investigating the church and being re-baptized. Her husband is making her choose between their marriage and the Book of Mormon.  So... she had to drop us.  What is it with these men, huh?!! Seriously. Pssht. But this is not the end for her! She told us she'll keep reading the Book of Mormon.... secretly, I guess.   

Also, there are some awesome members in our branch.  One of them, Bro. Martz, was in one of the Wisconsin Symphonies.  He plays trombone and his wife played viola.  He told me all about his son who plays the cello and is also a pagan. Apparently paganism is a real religion!! One of our investigators is a pagan, too. What?! :P

 I don't think there's a cello to play in this area.  But maybe next transfer! Most people around here aren't musically inclined. That's okay... :) 

Anyway, I feel the Spirit so strong out here on my mission! I feel it as I teach and testify to people.  I just wish everyone else felt it too, and knew what a blessing this Gospel is.  I know the Church is true!!!! :) 

I hope you all have a wonderful week! LOVE YOU! 

P.S. I met a Kristen Stollenwerk in the branch yesterday, who says she is related to me.  She says her uncle is Dad's cousin.  Cool! And Mom, I met another missionary in my mission (I forgot her name) who says her mom knows you! Any idea who that could be?? :) 


Sister Woods

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

More Pictures from the MTC

Adorable MTC roomies . . .
Sis. Woods, Sis. Askerland, Sis. Mortenson and Sis. Osmond

Feeling overwhelmed with appreciation for the number of packages she received at the MTC

Lacey taught her district all about "scandalous"

MTC Companions . . . Sis. Woods and Sis. Askerlund

Everyone that is headed for Wisconsin on 3/11/14

Wisconsin or bust!!

Lacey was soooo excited with the amount of letters she received at the MTC!!

Lacey's "district" at the MTC

Look at all the cute missionaries . . .

The roomies of Room 307
Sis. Mortenson, Sis. Osmond, Sis. Askerlund and Sis. Woods

So excited to work out!

Cute companionship!

Lacey loved her companion at the MTC, Sis. Askerlund

Sis. Woods showing her love and excitement for the temple!

New Address for Sis. Lacey Woods

Sis. Woods' new address in Stevens Point:

1224A Northpoint Dr.
Stevens Point, WI  54481

First Area--Stevens Point, Wisconsin!!

Stevens Point, Wisconsin

Sis. Woods gets her first companion in the mission field, Sis. Pearson, and her first area assignment--Stevens Point, Wisconsin

Week 3: Yippee!!

Hello Everyone!

I have arrived in Wisconsin!  My new address is: 1224A Northpoint Dr. Stevens Point, WI 54481.  

I'm attaching a picture of me and SIs. Pearson wearing a Packers scarf that one of the members made for me!! :) Happy St. Patricks Day!!!! (hahah there will be lots of alcohol about wisconsin today) 

The mission home is super cute!!  I LOVE my mission president! He is the sweetest, most kind man ever. In my interview with him he offered such a powerful and wonderful prayer on my behalf, blessing me that I would grow and develop many new talents on my mission.  I wish I had recorded it, it was cool. I got to tell him about why I came out to serve a mission and told me he thinks i'll get some opportunities to use my cello talents.  Throughout the interview I felt that he really understands and loves me.  Sister Cutler is a super good chef and made us delicious food, including homemade french toast with berries for breakfast in the morning! We stayed at the mission home for just one night.  I love them both.  

There are about 262 missionaries in my mission.  Our schedule is the standard missionary schedule except until General Conference we work out an hour instead of a half hour.  MIssionary work is VERY disciplined and structured.  I'm getting used to it still, but I love it! And we get 2 hours to email on p-day.  The good news is I can wear chapman shorts every morning if I want when we work out in the laundry room (we jog outside if it's "warm" enough... I walk fast and Sis. Pearson, who did track in school, runs in circles around me :P), but even on p-day I have to be in my skirt and tights!! It's not TOO bad, though.  I can see it's important to dress nice becasue it makes people more willing to talk to us.  

I am in a small town, called Stevens Point, right in the middle of WIsconsin.  THere are only about 27,000 people who live here and not even 300 members.  There is only 1 small branch which will hopefully become a ward in months ahead.  maybe while I'm here! It's just 1 set of elders and us. There were only like 5 people in Sunday School yesterday, hahah.  This branch is fun sized! 

My companion, SIster Pearson, has been here since the beginning of August.  She is from Cedar City, Utah.  She is the second oldest of five children in her family.  THis is her second transfer in Stevens Point.  I am actually just 1 month older than she is.  She is a runner, and likes to eat healthy, like me.  But maybe not exactly like me.  She is nice enough... though it's taken me a few days to loosen her up a bit.  I admire her calmness when talking to people.  

The weather here has been freezing! Well, according to the Wisconsin people, it's hot! It's been around 20 degrees every day and it was lightly snowing this morning. I saw a guy running outside in shorts and a t-shirt!!! I've been freezing, I'll just say it how it is.  I'm learning that I need my big coat everywhere we go! I don't know if it's worth buying the super big boots yet.  I can jsut use my Welly's.  Sis. Pearson's quote of the day yesterday when it was 20 degrees outside: "This is the perfect weather for tracting." Haha, not!!! And people say "cool beans" lots here. 

Speaking of tracting, we do LOTS of tracting in this mission! It's rather unfortunate, because referrals would be best! We desperately need some. 
I have actually had really good tracting experiences so far. No one has slammed a door or anything! The people are very nice here, all things considered.  The meanest thing so far was one guy interrupted and said "no thanks, ladies" and closed the door. I can handle that. :) Lots of people say they are Cathollic or something.  But almost everyone is willing to hear us out.  

 I'll start out with the best tracting find.  I was feeling rather discouraged yesterday, plus it was freezing. But then, we met Owen!! He is a vet, very nice, has a spiritual family, and was very open to our message.  He was about 25, I think.  But we gave him a Book of Mormon and told him how it would bless his life and give him guidance and direction in his life.  And he was way into it! His Mom is also a potential investigator, but she wasn't there that time! Anyways, we always say a prayer with them at the end (people love to say prayers outside in the cold in Wisconsin).  So we prayed with him and he said he felt all warm inside. We were like, that's the spirit!!! He wants to meet with us again,so we are excited.  :D Tender mercy! 

But this week we've  mostly been working with less-actives, who live in SUPER smoky houses!!! I've had to hang up my clothes to air them out.  My first tracting experience... it was "fun-kward!"  Awkward, but actually quite fun.  I've been really bold (not afraid to teach and talk), and enthusiastic, according to SIs. Pearson, who is assuring me that I'm doing really well.  Most missionaries are afraid to talk at all when they first start out. But, I still need to work on being confident when I first talk to strangers.  They told us not to do that when we were little! Cause it's awkward.  But in the mission field, awkwardness abounds so you might as well embrace it.  It's fun not to care what people think! Hahah. :P Oh, and I invited some people to baptism this week! That was the goal.  :) cool, eh? They said they'd try.  

There are 2 potential, quite likely baptisms that will be happening next month, though!! One is Brian, who is in his early 30s. He just had nose surgery and is a little different, but he's awesome.  We need to help him feel forgiven before his baptism on April 12.  And the other is Skylar, who is 11.  He lives far away and his mom has been out of town so we need to find a way to get him to church each week and meet with us more regularly.  He doesn't have a date yet.  

I did get a chance to play the cello at sacrament meeting in the MTC. That was great! People liked it.  And, yesterday I introduced myself at our branch.  I said that in addition to being a full-time servant of the Lord, I play the cello and would be beyond willing to seranade anyone who has a cello for me to borrow.  So... they want me and SIs. Pearson (who plays piano) to perform for Easter and Stake Conference!!!! It's not for sure yet because they still need to secure me a cello.  Most people here do not play instruments.  But everyone has a dog here! 

I'm running out of time here, so I'd like to mention some things I learned in 2 wonderful talks I heard this week.  One is "My Grace is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox.  If you haven't heard it, stop what you're doing after this email and read it!! It will change your perspective about the Atonement and grace.  I loved how he applies the concept of the Savior's payment for us to a parent who pays for piano lessons for her child.  We aren't repaying the Savior for what he did, just like as the child, we aren't paying our Mom for providing the lessons. We don't repay the Savior either.  He already paid the price.  All we are doing is determining how comfortable we will be in the next life. How do we prepare? We practice!!! Ask any musician when he/she will be done practicing and they'll tell you... never!! That's how it is with us, too.  We never stop refining ourselves.  The purpose of the Atonement is change, not punishment or repayment. The atonement was an investment... for us! So we could become what we need to be to live with God again.  We aren't earning heaven, we are learning heaven!! So, while on my mission, I'm learning a new instrument... a spiritual one! One that I will keep practicing for the rest of my life and applying to all areas of my life.  Also, Christ isn't at the finish line waiting to make up the difference after all we can do, He is there with us, every step of the way! I love that.  

Sorry this is a long email! But I will admit I was feeling anxious and worried a bit this week and I want to share something that lifted my spirits.  Leave it to Elder Holland to do that! He has a great talk called, "Remember Lot's Wife." It's a good one, look it up sometime.  So what did Lot's wife do that was bad enough to make her turn into a pillar of salt? At least part of it lies in the fact that she looked back longingly, and wanted to go back to the city.  How often do we get caught up remeniscing about the past and forgetting to worry about the present and future? Lot's wife also doubted the Lord's ability to give her something better than she already had. After a dream, I was thinking about the good old days I had in high school where all I had to worry about was playing the cello and homework, (what I'm best at) and wondering how it is that I got here on a mission, where things aren't always super exciting.  But we must remember that faith is ALWAYS pointed to the future.  In that brief though process I was guilty of the same thing as Lot's wife.  I had to kick myself in the rear and remind myself that God doesn't care nearly as much about where you have been as He does about where you are and where you are willing to go with His help. I had to reremind myself that my purpose as a missionary is to bring others closer to Christ and thereby grow and learn myself!! As it says in Genesis 18:16, (this is a paraphrase), is anything impossible to the Lord? He can do anything for us, and make us as mighty and awesome as we are willing to let Him.  So let us all look forward with an eye of faith toward the future and a willing heart, and above all, trust Him!!! 

I know that the church is true!!! I have felt the Spirit testify to me more than ever out here!  

I love you all!!!!! 

Sister Woods

Week 2: Phew!!

Hello Everyone!

I always feel bad replying so briefly to people, but there just isn't enough time to do my week or the sweet people who write to me, any justice.  Just know I can't possibly write everything that's on my mind or let each of you know adequately how much it means to me that you write to me all the time! You are all wonderful. 

Sister Askerlund is from Bluffdale.  She is 22.  She and I have become really close, because, after all, we spend every minute together!!! We probably know each other too well...Having a companion all the time is interesting... I imagine this is what it is like to get married. You see, at the MTC you have to do lots of practicing teaching your companion.  It gets pretty hilarious after a while when you're companion has pretended to be about 7 different people that day and all their responses start sounding the same and obviously fake... seriously, it's hilarious.   There have been several instances where I couldn't stop laughing and then she couldn't and then we had to stop, walk around, and say a companion prayer to invite the Spirit again.  :P    but anyway, we teach really well together and make a great team. Our teachers have been saying we are doing really well and are good teachers.  I love her and she's awesome.  Her family was inactive for her whole life, and she finally got back into the church 3 years ago when she was in college.  She is the only one who is active.  What a strong woman!

We have had some good experiences teaching our investigator, Joe (our teacher in a hoodie.)  We committed him to baptism.  We have discovered that we need to be completely ourselves around our investigators and really get to know them and connect with them, and speak every thought that the Spirit places in our minds, that Heavenly Father would have them know.  We have done MUCH better this week! But I have much to learn, too.  

But we have also had some not-so-good experiences teaching a real investigator, Isabella.  She is 19 and we have had some real difficulties teaching her because she does NOT seem at all interested in what we have to teach her.  We've REALLY tried to get to know her and when we testify to her about the nature of God she's like "That's nice that you believe that."  It's a struggle.  She's very nice though. Anyway, so here's how our last lesson with her went.  We were teaching her the Plan of Salvation.  It wasn't going well, because she thinks of Heavenly Father and Jesus as "things" not beings.  So we were explaining the preexistence and Sister Askerlund and I were like wow it looks like she's really starting to get it, because she started looking at us really intensely.  And then she's like, Sister, there's a bug in your hair!! There was a HUGE brown cricket with creepy legs in SIster Askerlund's hair!!! Needless to say we freaked out and I started trying to smash it with her notebook. We were rolling with laughter and embarrassment.  If the Spirit was ever in that room, it was sure gone after that!! Oh wow.  and my favorite part of that epicly bad lesson was when Sister Askerlund was like, "the Book of Mormon is like.... a fortune cookie!!" Bahahahhahaha.  She hasn't kept any of the committments and so we are just going to testify to her tonight.  It's rough.  But that's okay! Such is life.  We can only go up after THAT lesson.  ;D 

We laugh lots in our room.  The elders in our district are really fun, too.  But really great. They have all started saying "scandalous."  SInce there is no Lady Gaga at the MTC or anywhere in themission field, we have had hymns take her place.  Seriously. All of us four sisters have been singing "hark all ye nations" for the past 5 days!!!! Like, nonstop. ALL THE TIME!! We dance to it, too.  How firm a foundation and i know that my redeemer lives are the new "alejandro" and "Gypsy."  Never expected that to happen, hahahha.  

So I saw one of the elders from the District and he was like right behind us and all of a sudden i shouted, "that's the guy from the District!!!" He was serioulsy like 5 feet behind us.  It was funny. :P  

Let's see.... I was finally able to play a cello yesterday! Of course, I have to take all four of us because SIster Matheson is accompanying me.  I didn't have time to audition for the big devotional. That just wasn't going to happen.  But I'm playing a nice arrangement of "Our Savior's Love" and I'm playing "I am a CHld of God" while my district sings, for we needed a special musical number. There was a cellist who played at our Sunday devotional.

So last Sunday we fasted until 5:30!!! I had never fasted so long.  Our entire district got to bear our testimonies.  I like how one of the branch presidency put it, that fasting allows the Spirit to take charge.  I felt the Spirit so strongly.  I feel it all the time here! Even though it's so hard to fit all the scriptures study in the day.  THere is never, ever a moment of rest around the MTC!! It would be horrible for someone who didn't really, really love the Gospel and want to be here.  We are striving to be exactly obedient but it hasn't happened yet. :P  We are doing our best.  

There have been moments when I've felt alone or missing my cello at the MTC.  I started to think about Ari on Sunday, and wondering if I'd be able to play at all when I got back home. I was also feeling stressed, wondering if I should play the cello here, since my branch presidency encouraged me to. there is no time to practice here.  So I asked the branch president for a priesthood blessing.  The spirit was SOO strong and he blessed me that i would retain my love for music and that I would be able to pick it back up again as I allow my cello ability to go dormant and focus on my spiritual development.  He told me that there may well be many opportunities to perform on my mission, with the mission presidents direction.  He blessed me that I would be able to focus 100% on the Lord. I have felt SO much better ever since that blessing.  I am full of desire to study the scriptures and be a missionary!! The Lord has been so merciful to me and I suspect He will contintue to be mercful in providing me opportunities to bless others with my music.  He knows me so well..  I did not think there would be a cello here at the MTC!

I've felt lonely and a tad homesick at times, but it doesn't last long.  As I pray to Heavenly Father for comfort, comfort always comes. He fills me with courage and confidence.  I'm getting so much more at ease and confident when we practice teaching.  Some have even called me a confident missionary! Say what!? It's not me, it's the Lord.  And as I do my best to rely on HIm for strength and I am filled.  I love Joshua 1:9: "Be strong and of a good courage... for the Lord, thy God, is with thee, withersoever thou goest."

I've found that I feel so happy here as I turn myself outward.  We got to watch Elder Bednar's Character of Christ devotional.  It is ONLY shown at the MTC and I'm not gonna lie, it was the best talk I've ever heard in my life.  It was basically about how we need to be converted to Christ, not just have a testimony.  That's not enough for my investigators.  Christ's character is to turn outward, and always focus on others which is so unlike the natural man tendency of all of us to turn inward when times get hard.  The natural man says "I want it now! and what about me?" The thing about missionary work is you can't think about improving yourself, or you won't be blessed.  You truly have to lose yourself in caring for others, or you miss the blessings.  I am really working on this and I think it's so important that I turn as outward as possible so that the Lord can change me and make me into an effective missionary.  I know that I will enjoy my mission so much more if I can apply this principle all the time.  As I've done so, I've felt so much more happiness!!!

 We also had a great devotional about the incredible promises the Lord gives to missionaries by a member of the Seventy.  (Audokidis?).  Anyway, it was great! Sorry there's no time to elaborate more.  

I love you all!

Sister Woods

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Day Has Finally Arrived!!

The following are pictures of Lacey and some of her family members, taken on February 26, 2014, as we dropped Sis. Woods off to serve the Lord for the next 18 months in Wisconsin!    We love you, Sis. Woods!

So proud of her!

World's best big brother . . . we love you, Kyle!

Love my baby girl sooooo much!  Losing my best friend for awhile . . .

So happy that Grandma was there with us to say goodbye

Across the street from Lacey's new home for the next 12 days . . . Provo Missionary Training Center

Lacey was so excited to get there, yet so "nervitous!"

We pulled up to the curb in front of the MTC and Lacey was greeted by an army of sweet, fellow missionaries

We were able to give Sis. Woods one last quick hug, and then she squared her shoulders, and walked forward, never looking back, to her exciting new adventure!  We will miss you, Lacey!!

Picture from MTC

Picture taken and sent by Bro. and Sis. Nally at the MTC 
Picture from left to right:  Sis. Woods, Sis. Mortensen, Sis. Osmond, Sis. Nally and Bro. Nally

Missionary Photo Shoot

Monday, March 3, 2014

Week 1: First Letter From Sis. Woods

Week 1:  So far, so great!

Hello everyone!

What a "nerviting" three days it has been! I can't adequately describe the emotional dynamics that take place those first 2 nights at the MTC.  I am in a room with 2 other sisters.  My companion, Sister Askerlund ("Sister Jensen") and I are the same height!  That's a little unusual, haha. :) And Sister Osmond and her companion, Sister Matheson are also in my room.  We are all going to Wisconsin! They are such sweet and kind girls. The people here are seriously the nicest people I've ever met. We are very open with each other and get along super well, which has been a real comfort and blessing, especially those first two nights! I'm not gonna lie, we were all close to tears throughout the day, which is unusual for me. This letter in no way does justice to all the ideas and experiences I've had since I got here! There just isn't enough time for everything.So I'll do my best. :)   

We've decided that the most stressful part is deciding what to wear each day, haha.  And following all the rules and being on time.  We are still working on that last one.  It's a tight schedule and we are still adjusting. Everyone says over and over how important it is to be exactly obedient... for if we are obedient we will be blessed.  Sister Askerlund and I got busted for taking an apple out of the dining hall, (seems innocent, but it is against the rules!)  Haha, SCANDALOUS.  Like I said, I'm still working on it!  

We have a very small district.  The MTC isn't very busy right now.  Normally there are 42 in a district and there are only 7 in ours.  There are 3 elders going to Houston, Texas. The elders going to Wisconsin are in another district. I LOVE my branch presidency.  They are so kind, sweet and inspiring.  

The food is alright here.  There are definitley some Lacey-approved (healthy) options, like a salad bar and a wrap station at each meal.  The oatmeal is the bomb here.  :)

THANK YOU THANK YOU for all the letters and packages y'all have sent me! I've gotten 4 boxes so far! My entire district was like "Seriously, Sister Woods? AGAIN?"  hahaha.  I've officially been overrun with food.  Thanks Mom for the dark chocolate superfruits and Dad for the box of healthy things.  And a special and noteworthy thanks to a Ms. Mendy Peacock for the almonds, bubbly water and the...  sandwich!!? That. was.  awesome!!  :P I feel very loved and blessed. I also got a nice box of food from the O'Reilly's who lived in the Fountains ward a long time ago.  

I loved reading all of your letters.  Please, if can, send me more!!!  I may not have time to reply to each one but know that I LOVE hearing from you.  Kyle, you are beyond amazing.  I loved your last letter!!!!!!  It really inspired me.   Like.  Just what I needed to hear! I do feel that the Lord has been shaping and directing me to serve a mission.I KNOW that this is where I'm supposed to be. I am SO fortunate to have been raised in the Church.  The chances of that are very small.  As I'm learning to teach, I'm super grateful that I memorized so many scriptures before I left and in seminary, especially Joseph Smith's vision.  It makes my work that much easier!

I have to say I'm enjoying the MTC.  The classes feel lots like an institute class, which I like.  We pretty much go to class all day, every day.  It has been difficult for me to feel comfortable teaching when it's just me and Sister Jensen (Askerlund).  Teaching someone the Gospel is SO MUCH more difficult than I thought! You really have to develop the gift of charity and love the person you teach.  And really strong interpersonal skills, so you can really connect with their needs.  No one will care what you have to say until they see how much you care about them.  You also can't properly teach someone unless your personal conviction of the principle you are teaching is rock solid. You have to really feel it yourself before the Spirit can be there to bear testimony to the person you teach. And you CANNOT worry about what to say! You have to completely focus your mind on listening to the investigator.I much prefer teaching with a companion as opposed to teaching my companion.  Sister Jensen and I's first lesson went better than we expected! 

For instance, Sister Askerlund and I had to teach our "investigator" (who is actually our teacher wearing a hoodie :P)  how to pray and get an answer that God loves him.  I've always sort of felt that God loves me because He has blessed me so much, but I wanted to try it out so I can assure Joe that he will really get an answer.  So, I tried that experiment for myself and prayed and asked God to allow me to feel His love and comfort.  And I did!!!! All day yesterday I felt so happy and loved. Praying opened my eyes to the comfort and peace that Heavenly Father has instilled in me since I've been here.  Even though I'm still learning and making plenty of mistakes, I feel Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's love and acceptance of my efforts. I feel carried. I love my Savior! 

The spirit is SO strong here. I'm recognizing it more than I ever have before, which is exciting.  It is also nerve-racking because that means I have to open my mouth and say it, haha. 

I'd like to share a nerve racking experience we all had my first night here.  So the MTC hires investigators to come into a room and allow a room full of brand-new missionaries to teach them.  Terrifying! Though undoubtedly, we all were feeling the Spirit prompt us with ideas of what to say to the investigator, we were all so NOT confident enough to speak up. (I had made only 1 comment at that point.) Only about 10 % of the class was asking the investigator questions.  So this sassy, logical girl goes, "Why are all of you here if only 10 % of you are acting like you care and want to teach me? Are you just filling chairs?"  Oh goodness, we were all struck to the core with that one!! Ouch. So, then I remembered that as missionaries we are all set apart and entitled to inspiration.  In fact, we are commanded to open our mouths so that the Spirit can teach our investigators what they need to hear! I vowed from that time forward to forget my nerves and just always open my mouth when the Spirit prompts me.  It has really paid off! I'm feeling less nervous every day.  

One of my favorite scriptures is Ether 12:27 (like you mentioned, Dad).  I've been reflecting on that lots lately and it really applies to my missionary experience.  It is wonderful to me that God accepts our offering as long as we are pointed toward Christ and trying our best. Then He will make us better than we are.  I find that my anxiety ceases when I strive to relax and rely on this promise.  I feel happier and more confident. :)   I love the nametag and calling each other Sisters!  It is an honor to be a missionary.  And a huge responsibility.   

Guess what? They have a cello here for me to borrow!! My branch leader heard that I play cello and got super excited.  He wants me to play tomorrow and/or next week.  I'm not really sure, haha.  Sister Matheson also plays piano so she will accompany me. There is absolutely no time to practice at all so I may just play out of the hymn book.  I can also audition to be  a part of a special musical number.  I want to take a look at the music they have here and see if there is something I can play for it before I decide.  We'll see. :) 

That's all for now! 

Love you all lots and hope all is well at home and for each of you! 


Sister Woods