Monday, December 22, 2014

Write Madeline for Christmas!

Even though Madeline is now in Manti, please still address all letters and packages to the same address; it is listed under the "Write Madeline" tab.  Feel free to send her a little note for Christmas!

Manti Temple
Mailing Address
Sister Madeline Beth Martin 
Utah St George Mission
881 South River Road
St. George, UT 84790

Please address all letters and packages with Madeline's full name.  This is what her Mission President requested since all mail is sent to one place.  


Merry Christmas from Manti

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MANTI! I still can't believe I'm up here. I feel slightly isolated but it's a good feeling. Before I was used to seeing tons of missionaries each and every day since there was a lot of us down in St. George. Plus I served in the VC that whole time. But this...this is the smallest town I have ever lived/served in. Only 3000 population and 80 non-members in Manti.  And oh my goodness it is just the cutest little town ever. It's already become home for me. I don't think I've ever gotten so many warm welcomes as I have here! Everyone says "Oh! We have a new one! Welcome to Manti!"

We go to this adorable little post office to pick up and send our mail. Everyone knows us there and even calls us if we get packages. This town sometimes makes me feel like I'm on one of those old small town 90's movies... does that make sense? Right now we are in the cutest little library! There are a total of 3 restaurants here and not a single signal light. Everyone knows everyone. If you moved here 5 years ago, you're considered new.

And talk about a GORGEOUS temple! We went to the temple on Saturday with one of our recent converts. He was doing baptisms and wanted us to be there with him. We were SO excited to go and see him and feel of the spirit that's there. Their baptistry is one of kind. It's so fun being in a temple that's so old! I can't believe that my whole mission I've never been more than 10 minutes away from a temple. We can even see it from our house!

Sister Lasalosi is awesome. She is honestly a hard worker and I mean that. She doesn't waste time. AND I LOVE THAT!! I love being with a companion who has such a strong desire to find, teach, and baptize. She is the sweetest Tongan I've ever met.

We live with the sweetest couple ever, their names are the Valentines. They live down a dirt road in Manti on a farm. She is the director of the family history center here and she is AWESOME! She reminds me SO much of Aunt Becky. You guys will love her. She is one of a kind and just totally down to earth. And her husband is secretly hilarious. They are in Arizona now for Christmas. I was so sad when they told us they were leaving for two weeks :( I feel like I am just always missing people! They are having us feed their ducks, chickens and cat and check on the cows and such. We thought we would be living in the apartemnt in the barn but we actually live in their basement :) And it's about 50 degrees down there. ...heh :)

In our district meeting this week, our district leader gave us atraining on the "Doing Good" section in Preach My Gospel. He committed us to pray for and seek service opportunities. We've included it in a lot of our prayers since then and holy guacamole. God has answered our prayers. We went to contact a non-member referral the day after that training. It was just a single woman and she was very stressed out; dirty house, needed to get things ready for leaving out of town for Christmas, emotional stresses, etc. We kind of walked in her home uninvited and put our coats down and told her to put us to work. We cleaned. And while we cleaned she told us her whole life story (score). She kept talking and talking and saying things like "I don't know why I'm telling you all of this!" And honestly I'm not sure why she did tell us all of it. It was all a little intense. Maybe it was because we were cleaning her house for her. Maybe it was because she grew up in St. Louis too (go figure!). Or maybe it was because we are representatives of Jesus Christ and she recognized that. Our listening and cleaning while she talked and talked helped us to know her needs. When it was time to go, we shared with her a message of Jesus Christ; a message of peace, and hope and comfort. We gave her a "He is the Gift" card/ I have never seen anyone so thrilled to watch that video as she was. She thanked us over and over again for cleaning, listening, and easing her burdens. That last one really touched me. She said we were angels and kept asking us how we knew to come over to her house at that exact time. She then invited us over to her house for some "religious discussion" the next week :)

There is more teaching here than any of my other areas. Which is totally ideal, don't get me wrong, but time is going by sooo fast. I don't quite like that aspect of it. I was talking to this greenie in our district meeting last week and he asked my companion and I how many months we have left (not very many months left...). He replied with "Lucky. I have two years left." I imagine that's probably how I felt as a greenie at first. It's crazy how much you can change in a year.

I love you all very much :)

Love, Sister Martin

I'll be in Manti for Christmas

I'M GOING TO MANTI!! 3 hours away. Tomorrow morning. It feels like a dream! It almost feels as if I'm leaving home all over again. I've lived in St. George for a year now. I've served in 4 stakes here. I've been in the Temple Visitors' Center this whole year. I've adjusted to the red rocks and the warmth...

It's such an interesting experience, transfers are. The only events I absolutely know on my mission are holidays, meetings, and General Conference. I never know where I'll be or who I'll be with for any of these though. BUT you know that wherever you are, that's where the Lord wants you to be. Transfers kind of remind me of this scripture in Proverbs 21:1. "The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will." So, I know the Lord wants me to be in Manti at Christmas with Sister Lasolosi! 

She is my new companion and she is also Tongan!! She comes straight from Tonga. I served in the VC with her for just a little - and oh my goodness she is just the sweetest sister ever. 

The majority of my companions have been French and Tongan... I love it. And I'm really going to miss Sister Liu! She has such a big heart and a rock solid testimony. Plus she is absolutely hilarious! We learned so much together... I'm really going to miss her. I'll miss caroling with her at every doorstep, speaking and singing with her in sacrament, making each other laugh at the door as we're knocking, having super spiritual experiences with our investigators, talking to everyone we see, having deep companionship studies, and most of all, I'll miss her famous coconut rice. Her and her new companion Sister Hansen (the sister I always do music arrangements with) are going to be perfect for Washington Fields. 

And oh my goodness I am going to miss Washington Fields so much.... This is just so weird! We've grown really close to our leaders here of the 11 wards, and especially our investigators. I know without a doubt I will stay in touch with Vincent and Kalii for a longgg long time. I'm trying so hard to not cry over all of it but it's going to be weird when I am thinking about who we're teaching 24/7 and then realizing I won't be able to see them for awhile.  I never quite anticipated this whole aspect of missionary work, having to leave those you love over and over again. I'm forever grateful for the friendships and memories I have here in St. George. And I know there is more awaiting me in Manti!

And I won't even go into missing the VC... but the good thing about that is I know it'll always be there!! We have the exhibit for "He is the Gift" set up in there along with all of our Christmas trees and decorations and nativity sets. Granted I've seen that video about 200 times, I never get sick of it! Watch it on :)

Thanks again for the letters, emails, and support :) I love you all :)

Love, Sister Martin

Sister Hansen, Elder Grover and I played a Christmas arrangement in our Zone Conference. We played "What Child is This." 

One of our Ward Mission Leaders and his awesome family. We were really close with them. The MacLellans :)

Monday, December 8, 2014


Some fall pics in front of our driveway. 

Playing some kickball with our missionaries :)

Trying to visit one of our investigators and while I was eating my apple the hoses were goin crazy. So we fed them.

Sis. Liu and me :) we have so much fun together :) And this is the shirt that Aunt Barbara got me!!!! 

We ate dinner with our investigator family (the Lusts's) last night which was SO fun. This is one of their cute kids. After our dinner of butternut squash soup they made us herbal tea and we talked about the gospel for a long time... good times. I will have to tell you more about them next week. They are awesome.

One of the people I met in the VC in the spring, Nate Hardison. He was very less-active. I taught him over the phone once a week for months. He is now preparing to receive the Melchizedek priesthood!! He came down from northern utah and said hi - it was so good to see him.  He is awesome, such a missionary! Now he goes out all the time with the missionaries! 

The Christmas trees in the VC before fully decorated. 

Sister Liu's old ward mission leader, Larry Lyman. And WE'RE RELATED!! I remember grandpa mentioning something about him. We three had a great time talking together at the family search library, where we do our emails. I guess his cousin Marilynn also works there!! 

One night we came into our apartment and we found this cute Christmas tree and stockings put up by our landlord!! SO nice! They have 3 little ids, 6 and under. The 6 year old is just like Seth and loves playing basketball. And they have a full out court pretty much... So today Sister Liu and I are going to shoot some hoops with them :)

And of course my beautiful Tongan queen companion, Sister Liu! Posing by the tree!! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

What matters most

Wow! I CANNOT believe it is already December!! And I cannot believe I am 20 yrs old! And I cannot believe how much food we've eaten this week! Thanksgiving was great - pretty similar to Thanksgiving at home.

Here's what we did: We went to a sisters apartment for breakfast at 7 am with all the other sisters in the VC. One sister tried making an omelette in the waffle maker... that was the extent of the attempts to make it a fancy meal. Mostly cereal. Then we played a game of kickball for a few hours with a lot of missionaries. I just love playing sports with all the elders and sisters because everyone is absolutely awful (except for my Tongan companion). We took a break from sports in the morning and got dressed and ready to attend our district meeting - a meeting comprised of three companionships in our district. Our district name is "Onidah." We actually were allowed to forgo the whole district meeting that day but our district leader decided we would have it anyway. Sister Liu and I had to do the training so I was having a twinkling of a feeling of hope that he would cancel it...

But little did I know this meeting would have a great impact on me.  It was a little distracting knowing that everyone else was still playing sports and eating and having fun. Some of the missionaries wanted to end the meeting early. We went through with our normal protocol, just as always, but this time I felt something different. As we were having a scripture study together I began to think again about what day it was. I began to think about all the things we COULD be doing. And I realized why I felt so different, in a good way, during this meeting.

We were in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, doing the right things. We do the important things no matter what. No matter the holiday, the activities, the distractions, the events, the circumstance. We do it. Sure, we were a little antsy to get out of there at first, but as time went by all of us realized our purpose in being there. We were all edified, inspired, and uplifted. At the end of the meeting us three companionships could agree that meeting was one of our favorite meetings.

The mission is really helping me to recognize how I need to pattern the rest of my life. I know that I am no where near understanding a lot of things right now, but what I do know is that I never regret making decisions that bring me closer to God.

I've began to realize how important the "Armor of God" really is. I love these verses in Ephesians 6:

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

That Thanksgiving district meeting helped all of us to spiritually prepare ourselves. The Lord needs soldiers every day. When soldiers get up in the morning I'm sure they're not playing cards while the enemy is attacking. They're preparing themselves with armor and with courage. So that when the enemy attacks, they are "able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." God doesn't skip a day off in giving us blessings, nor should we skip a day off in remembering Him though prayer and scripture. I have come to realize that we need those blessings more than we even realize.

After district meeting we had a huge thanksgiving feast with all the sisters and senior couples that serve in the VC. We had a talent show right after and Sister Hansen and I got to play a bassoon and viola duet :) Then we went to one of our ward mission leaders homes for ANOTHER dinner (yum). That night, our district went to one of our members homes in their home theater and watched "How to Train a Dragon" (one of the few on our approved list). It was SO GOOD! I loved it!

Friday was the lighting ceremony for the temple lights and holy cow were we packed full in the VC or what. It was crazy!! About 2000 people came through. I love having tons of people in there, but I also love when it's just a few because then we are able to teach more. We have all the Christmas trees up and decorations :) It's so pretty!

Thank you again for all the birthday wishes, cards, and gifts. I had a wonderful day :) Sister Liu and I caroled at a lot of doorsteps and found more new investigators than we have in the past month. It was a great day :) I love singing with her!

Hope you have a great week :)

Much love, Sister Martin

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am absolutely loving the weather down here right now. Not too hot, not too cold.... it's perfect. And the palm trees are all still green :) Yesterday Sister Liu and I felt like such wimps in our boots, tights, and coats when it's only like 60 degrees. We also spoke in 3 of our 11 wards sacrament meetings yesterday. There is ALWAYS good that comes from that. We received lots of positive feedback and many referrals. But I don't think I will ever schedule us to speak three time in a row again. 
This week we had a lot of great dinners in one of our wards. It's just so much fun when you can sit at a dinner table with a random family eating good food,getting to know each other, laughing, sharing missionary moments, talking about the gospel, etc. One couple we ate with this week was Marvin J. Ashton's son and his wife. He lives just a few streets over from us. (So does Elder Wade from the Seventy whom we eat with and the producer for the Piano Guys, and the Piano Guys studio... all in out little neighborhood. Crazy.) Brother Ashton is a returned mission president and you'll never guessed what he asked at dinner. He asked to see my planner. AHHH. I seriously felt like I was sitting in an interview with President Center. But him and his wife just asked a lot of questions about us and about the area. We had some things we were struggling with in the stake so we talked to THEM about it. And boy did him and his wife give us some of the best advice ever. They were so humble and caring with everything they said. You could tell they really wanted to help us. And you could tell they really understood missionary work. 
That whole day was just great actually. When I got in the area at first with Sister Calves we fasted and prayed a lot that we would be sent to people who were actually prepared to receive the restored gospel. And lo and behold all these people just showed up in our teaching pool!! Some of them even referred themselves on to receive missionaries. But one of our lessons that day was with out investigator Vincent. I think I talked about him a little bit a few weeks ago.. ANYWAY well so basically he really has the desire to get baptized and receive the priesthood and everything, but that first road block was him receiving confirmation that the Book of Mormon is true. And that's kind of what I explained last time - miracle. This next stumbling block is actually a problem we have faced recently with a lot of the people we are teaching and even members, and that is all the media that has been about Joseph Smith recently. A lot of those whom we are teaching have looked further into the subject on sites on the internet. Not exactly the route to go. Really quick, if you want spiritual knowledge and confirmation you do not turn to your neighbor or the internet of all places, you go to THE SOURCE. That source being God. Simple as that. 
Anyway, we talked to Vincent for awhile about the role of prophets on the earth. We knew the only way to help him get all this darkness and doubt out of his mind was by filling it with light and truth, with doctrine. We helped him understand the confirmation he already received about the Book of Mormon and how that confirms the reality of the Prophet Joseph Smith. We related all of this to his desire to leave Florida because of the lack of morals and values he felt were there. We told him that we are promised that as we heed to the prophets voice we will be provided with an anchor of eternal truth in a world of shifting values. That the confusion and strife of the world will not overwhelm us. We showed him a short clip of Elder Christofferson testifying of the prophet Joseph Smith and how we can know of ourselves. For me it was great! It helped to strengthen my conviction of the prophet even more! And I was hoping and praying that Vincent would feel the same. As soon as the clip was over we looked over at him and it was silent. He sat there still staring at the blank screen and then turned over to us and said, "It sounds like that man is telling the truth. All of that sounds very true to me. I love that!" And he continued to talk about how badly he wants to be the best disciple of Jesus Christ he can be. He read all of Joseph Smith History that night. He is just awesome.
Well, our baptismal date with him for the 29th this week has to be pushed back because we found out a few days ago that he smokes. We did the stop smoking program with him immediately and have had daily contact with him for awhile now. So on the 29th, when the program is finished, we will have a small celebration to celebrate the fact that he is no longer a smoker :) I'm so excited for him!!! 
Anyway, we've been playing volleyball down here with the other missionaries in St. George in the mornings and we play on p-day too. It's so much fun because we are all just completely awful at it but we still manage to get a pretty good game going! We might play a little bit today at the end of our p-day. Then we are going to Colorado City for exchanges :)
And THANK YOU so much everyone for the birthday wishes! That just made my week! I love you all!! :)
Much love, Sister Martin

Sister Liu and me :)
We went to our ward mission leaders home last night to coordinate and we made Italian creme sodas with him and his family! 
P.S. my hair is kinda growing out...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Malo e lelei!

Malo e lelei!! My new companion is Sister Liu! :) She is from Pittsburg, CA - the bay area. She is Tongan and full of the best one-two combo: Island love and love for the work. I love her! She is the oldest of 13 kids in her family. She is the leader of the pack. I love serving with her. She is HILARIOUS and we have the best time together.

She came right when Washington Fields needed her!! When we were in the car driving to our area for the first time I kept telling her of all the people that were going to benefit from her strong testimony and Polynesian characteristics - because a few days before we found a whole less-active Tongan family with a non-member Hawaiian in the home!!

Here's the story: Sister Calves and I had a ton of our appointments cancel one night and we had already tried all of our back-ups. I remembered hearing about a family named the "Katoas" from one of our ward mission leaders and it just popped up in my mind so we decided to go on over there. Kind of random. Before we went in we said a prayer and Sister Calves prayed that we would be able to find a new investigator. Now I have never heard anyone pray for that while entering into a home full of just a less-active family. But you never know I guess. That little french sister is full of faith because right when we walked in the Tongan mom greeted us and immediately this cute 22 yr old Hawaiian named Kalii came up to us and said "Hi sisters!" I just thought she was a daughter or something. So we went into the family room and started talking with them and then Kalii told us she wanted to be baptized and asked us what she has to do in order for that to happen. *jaws drop* "Well, ehem, uhm..." That's always a "catch you off guard" moment!! Anyway, long story short, Kalii has a baptismal date for Dec. 13. She is the girlfriend of the family's son - so we will have a little wedding before she gets baptized :)

I couldn't believe that right when we walked in she just started gravitating toward us and talking with us. She took the missionary discussions when she was living in North Dakota with some elders, and even though she wasn't prepared at all then to change, those elders really did prepare the way for her. We asked her what had changed between then and now, what suddenly sparked her interest in wanting to get baptized. The first thing she told us about was family prayer.

So here we are sitting in a less-actives home and their occasional family prayers that they said together had the BIGGEST impact on Kalii. the spirit of love and unity that she felt created this yearning within her to want to have more of that spirit in her every day life. She has the CUTEST baby named Lion. And she wants to do everything she can to be the best mother for him. She has kept all of her commitments and came to church for the first time last Sunday to all three meetings!!

What a miracle that was. And Sister Liu of course is just absolutely perfect for this family. They already have so many connections with one another!! In one of our lessons Kalii just kept telling us over and over again with tears in her eyes "Thank you for coming. Thank you for coming." She told us that she feels she has known us before - and I feel that I was sent here just for her!! I can't wait to see her again this week for our lesson!!!

I have found that when praying for one thing, Heavenly Father of course knows best and will answer us with another. there is a great description of this pattern by Elder Bednar:

"The stripling warriors in the Book of Mormon (see Alma 53: 56–58) prayed earnestly that God would strengthen and deliver them out of the hands of their enemies. Interestingly, the answers to these prayers did not produce additional weapons or an increased number of troops. Instead, God granted these faithful warriors assurance that He would deliver them, peace to their souls, and great faith and hope for their deliverance in Him (see Alma 58:11). Thus, the sons of Helaman did take courage, were fixed with a determination to conquer, and did go forth with all of their might against the Lamanites (see Alma 58:12–13). Assurance, peace, faith, and hope initially might not seem like the blessings warriors in battle might want, but they were precisely the blessings these valiant young men needed to press forward and prevail physically and spiritually.

"Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity, and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals. And when we plead for relief from physical, mental, and spiritual difficulties, He may increase our resolve and resilience."

I love this!!!!! I have seen it time and time again throughout my mission. One of my favorite scriptures that relates to this trust we must have in the Lord is found in Doctrine & Covenants 123:17 "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed."

Much Love, Sister Martin

The typical missionary fridge.
Sister Liu opened it this morning and shouted at the top of her lungs, "THIS IS SO DEPRESSING!" 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Overwhelmed with love

Dear loved ones,

My heart is so full right now! In the words of Ammon, "I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." I feel overwhelmed with love for my Heavenly Father, love for this great work, love for those we're serving, love for my angel companion I've had the privilege of serving with, love for all of you!!

Sister Calves has hit that 18 month mark and is going back home to Bretagne, France on Wednesday. Boy, am I going to miss her! With Sister Calves I felt like we had the perfect combination of laughter and hard work. I have never worked harder than I have this transfer with Sister Calves. Nor laughed as much as we did! She has instilled some great French work ethic in me.

My new companion will be Sister Sesilina Liu! She's from California and is Tongan. And she is CRAZY!!!! In every good way possible though. I served in the VC with her for awhile. I'm really excited for this next transfer :)

As I was studying this morning, I began to look back on the past six weeks of this transfer that I've been with Sister Calves. I began to see from a further out perspective all the miracles that we've witnessed and all the lives that have changed. Including ours.

While in our leadership meetings and zone meetings this week it dawned on me actually how much I just absolutely LOVE my mission! I love it! There is nothing more invigorating than sitting in those meetings and discussing with so many wonderful missionaries the ways we can improve as a mission and as servants of the Lord. The spirit is always incredibly strong when we're united with those who have the same purpose as us: bringing souls unto Christ. We wake up at 6:30 every morning in unity, we study the scriptures in unity, we plan in unity, we rescue in unity.

Something I've really been focusing on lately is patience in the work. As amazing as Alma 26 is, I never fully realized how this chapter is essentially all about the blessings of patience!! So here is a story of something we've had to have a little patience for:

Last week I think I mentioned a little bit about Vincent Lynch. He is in his 40's and has moved up here from Florida, where he was a lawyer for a number of years. He is an extremely spiritual man; he moved from Florida because he felt that he needed to escape the lack of morals and values that resided there. When he got here he had a tour with one of the sisters in the VC and requested to have the missionaries to come teach him more!

It's really amazing because he feels so strongly that he has had the administering of angels in his life before - witnesses that God is there and that He loves him. He expresses his desires to us about following the commandments more diligently and strengthening his relationship with God. You guys, he is absolutely amazing. Never have I met someone, even a member, who has such a strong love for God and is constantly striving to please Him. He is such an example to both of us - we learn SO much as we have our discussions together! And our Senior couple we work with here in the Fields are the PERFECT fellowshippers for him. He comes to church every Sunday for all three hours, he has the strongest desire to be baptized and receive the priesthood and my goodness I could just go on for hours about everything he does!

So what you're probably thinking is "when is his baptismal date?!" Well, that's what we have been struggling with. We invited him to baptism our first lesson, and he accepted! But he doesn't feel comfortable setting date yet. He knows he wants it to happen, but just not when. And this is because he feels he does not understand the Book of Mormon and he feels he has not received a confirmation that it is true. That is how awesome he is, that he recognizes the importance of gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon before baptism! He read up to 1 Nephi 21 the first night and just could not understand any of it. He prays about it constantly. So as Sister Calves and I were preparing our lesson to read the Book of Mormon with him we were struggling with what we should read with him. I didn't understand at the moment WHY he just wasn't getting the Book of Mormon yet. We had read some with him before, explained the what why how and everything else! I knew that the Book of Mormon was exactly what he needed at this time in his life - I knew it contained all the answers and hope he was searching for. I wanted so badly for him to recognize how much this book could enrich his life. It was so hard for me to exercise my patience and just rely on the Lord. During the planning I felt frustrated and felt like I was going to cry. Which is never a good sign. In the middle of our planning I asked Sister Calves if we could just say another prayer to REALLY know what we should share with him. Shortly after we both decided on Mosiah 3.

Holy cow was that ever inspiration from the heavens. Vincent had tears in his eyes the whole time as we read Mosiah 3. The whole chapter is about Jesus Christ and what we need to do in order to come closer to him.The spirit was so strong the whole lesson. He closed with a beautiful prayer thanking Heavenly Father for sending his son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to set an example for him and to die for him. Everyone in the room had tears streaming down their cheeks at the end of the prayer. He read the whole book of Mosiah that night and came back for a lesson the next day talking non-stop about how much we loves Mosiah 3. He told us it was everything he needed and more at that moment. We did a fast with him this past Sunday for him to recognize an answer to all his prayers and a few other things. We are seeing him tomorrow - we are so excited.

What an answer to a prayer, many prayers, that was!  As Ammon so beautifully puts it: "Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.

"Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people... yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land."

I know that God is not only mindful of Vincent and his individual needs, but each one of our needs. With enough prayer, faith and patience, miracles happen.

Love, Sister Martin

Me in Washington fields! Literally loads of beautiful fields. 

The "Onidah" district! We have so many senior couples, it's the best!! 

Cold rain storms in St. George!

Hot chocolate and biscoff cookies :)

Sister Calves and I in the tabernacle.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Glory in His service

Wow family - I really do love you. A whole lot. I hope you all know that.

And I hope you know that I also miss all the Missouri colors in the fall... we don't have that here in St. George. Quite the contrary actually, we have loads of palm trees and tumbleweeds and red dirt. It's really growing on me here!! You know that I'll never become a desert rat but I sure do enjoy warm weather. Speaking of warm weather it's disappeared and now it's FREEZING! It's 50 degrees outside!

This past week with all the Halloween parties and everything has been a jackpot for us missionaries. "Trunk-or-Treat" never sounded so sweet as it does when you're a missionary. Basically translates into "Find more investigators and contact more referrals in one hour than you would in a whole week." While covering 11 wards, that means we have a LOT of Halloween parties to go to! On Tuesday night we went to 3 in a row. I was really tempted to dress up as "Encarnacion" - the nun from Nacho. But that didn't quite work. A lot of kids thought we were actually normal civilians dressing up as missionaries.... Which means I probably look like a "teeny bopper" as dad calls them. No one thinks I look old enough to be an actual missionary! Maybe my 20th birthday this month will help me to age a little.

I love wearing a name tag because it gives us the perfect reason to go up to anyone and everyone and start up a conversation intertwined with the gospel. Most of all though, I love who's name is on our name tag.

Real quick: Our new senior couple serving with us at the Visitors' Center and other cites in town is George Durrant and his new wife, Susan Easton Black (now known as Elder and Sister Durrant). Both are accomplished authors and Sister Durrant was a professor at BYU for decades. They will be giving a series of lectures at the tabernacle each week on the Prophet Joseph Smith as well as Jesus Christ and Brigham Young in addition to the service at the sites. This morning we had an early morning meeting with them at the tabernacle. As Elder Durrant was speaking, he kept mentioning having "Christ's confidence." He told us as we are representatives of Jesus Christ, as baptized members of his church, we do EVERYTHING in his name. We don't just end prayers in his name, but we say "Hello!" in his name, we teach in his name, we serve others in HIS name. For me, it seems that as we have confidence in Christ, as we exercise our faith in him, our countenances and actions show that we have "Christ's confidence."

So as his name is on my name tag, as I point to his name and show children and parents, it constantly reminds me of who's name I am doing this work in and, most importantly, who is helping hasten the work right by my side.  The talk "Act in All Diligence" by Henry B. Eyring helped me to understand how to remember our Savior in all that I do in the work.

And now it's almost the end of this transfer... we receive our transfer call this Saturday! Sister Calves, my lovely companion and friend forever, will be returning home to Bretagne, France as it is the end of her mission. Boy, we've had a great 6 weeks together. I've loved every day of it. At the very beginning of serving in Washington Fields together there wasn't a whole of people to teach. The work was a little slow. We were in need of some great miracles. So that first Sunday we fasted. We fasted to find those whose minds and hearts would be prepared to receive the message of the Restoration and who would have the desire to follow the example of Jesus Christ and enter the waters of baptism. As we fasted, I had the words of Alma 17 in my mind, when Alma and the sons of Mosiah reunite together:

"They had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God."

"They fasted much and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren, the [people of Washington Fields], to the knowledge of the truth."

That Sunday we received two texts from investigators that they didn't want to meet with us anymore. A little unusual to get the texts back to back... But on the bright side they both said it very kindly! And instead of feeling devastated, Sister Calves and I felt excited (as odd as that might sound). We were excited because we knew that Heavenly Father was helping us reorganize our teaching pool, making us aware of those who were not ready to receive the blessings of baptism. So we knew there was something really GREAT in store - that there was someone who was ready to receive these blessings!

Sure enough, we got a call a few hours later from one of our Ward Mission Leaders telling us that there was a 13 yr old boy named Jake who moved in that had already been attending church for 2 years and already had all the missionary discussions in the past and he was tired of waiting to be baptized and finally they were just ready to do it! Imagine that! So we went straight over to their home, asked him to tell us the story of Joseph Smith, asked him to tell us why he wanted to be baptized, and then set a date for baptism. It was a literal miracle. I have never seen a 13 yr old boy more ready to follow the example of Jesus Christ. There were about 40 people at Jake's baptism - the spirit was so strong. And especially strong in his confirmation in sacrament meeting in the Sunday after. My eyes were filled with tears and my heart was filled to the brim with love for our Savior and the many marvelous ways Heavenly Father accomplishes His work through His children.

We have also met another who is prepared for baptism! His name is Vincent Lynch. His story is an amazing one. I will have to email you about him next week.

It is amazing the ways that I have seen the hand of the Lord in my life this transfer. I could go on for days listing the ways he has helped our investigators, my family, and myself.

I glory in being in his service and wearing his name every single day.

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

With Much Love,
Sister Martin

Monday, October 13, 2014

9 month mark

2: The little critter.... Sometimes it's a little slow in the Visitors' Center so we have to come up with some creative things to make good use of our time... :) this is in our exhibit "God's Plan for His Family"
3: The map in our apartment of our area - the 11 wards are color coded. And I'm pointing at where we live!

This is where I lived when I was serving in the Washington stake - we lived in the basement of this members home who I am in the picture with. I just absolutely love them to death! CUTEST kids ever!! This is the view of the back of the house and you can see where we would go in to the basement.

We give tours in Brigham Young's home from time to time. One of my favorite things to do :) Here's the parlor room, his actual chair, and a picture of the twelve apostles then! Guess who's one of them?! :) Our great great great great grandpa! 

2 of my favorite families when I was serving in the Washington stake.

I had a really special experience with the family that has 3 kids - the Nay family. We baptized the two oldest kids and the mom is becoming active again. This is a family I will never forget! The time we spent together changed both of our lives forever.

The boy and the grandparents Sister Archambault and I are with is another family that is near and dear to my heart. The boy, Colby Covington, wanted to be baptized for the longest time. I had the privilege of being there from the beginning to giving him his after baptism lessons. His grandparents (the Fifes) adopted him. His story is an amazing one that I will for sure have to tell you when I am able to speak - I'm not very good at explaining things via email. But the Sunday clothes occasion was because we invited 10 yr old Colby to bear his testimony at our recent convert fireside. The meeting is a very special one because of the strong spirit that is there from all these recent converts from all over St. George bearing their testimonies. It's a wonderful occasion to bring investigators or less-actives to. Colby bore a beautiful testimony of his conversion - he was by far the youngest one I've ever seen go up there! He was so brave! During the fireside 3 other missionaries and I sang the tune of "Abide with me Tis Eventide" (my fave song) to the lyrics of "Go Forth with Faith"

1. Go forth with faith to tell the world
Of Jesus Christ, the Lord.
Bear witness he is God's own Son;
Proclaim his wondrous word.
Go forth with hope and courage strong
To spread the word abroad
That people of all nations
Are children of our God.

2. Go forth with love to tell the world
The joy of families--
That we may be with those we love
Thru all eternity.
Go forth to serve and do your best
With no thought of reward;
Then you shall know the boundless joy
Of serving Christ, the Lord.

3. Go forth with pow'r to tell the world
The gospel is restored,
That all may gain eternal life
Thru Jesus Christ, the Lord.
Go forth to preach his glorious truths
Of peace, of joy, and love,
That all who heed his holy word
May praise the Lord above. 

My favorite phrase is the one in bold. I can remember so clearly the great spirit I felt while singing this beautiful melody with such a sacred text in the chapel with these other diligent missionaries. I remember looking out on the congregation and seeing Colby and his sweet grandparents. I remember thinking about how excited they all were when Colby was baptized because now they can be sealed in the temple together. There is no more rewarding joy than that that comes going "forth with love to tell the world the joy of families" and seeing them unite together. What a special event that was and an extremely strong spirit that was present that I will never forget.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Never too lost

Bonjour mes tendres amours!!!!

I just love being companions with another sister from France!! Sister Calves is my third companion that speaks french :) She is always talking about her home in Bretagne, France. She lives by the ocean in a picturesque little village and has great things to say about all the people there. When we're in the VC I always see her praying for a french bus to come! One time she told me that she was having a rough week and was really just missing the people at home as well as her culture and everything. She said that she prayed to Heavenly Father and asked him to send a bus full of french from her town - and he sure did. A bus load of french from Bretagne! The french people that come in just adore her. As does everyone else! She has the thickest most beautiful french accent I've ever heard!! I love being her companion and her enthusiasm for just about everything she does. I don't think I've ever laughed so hard and so often with a companion as I do with her! We have some great times together. She leaves to go home at the end of this transfer so I'm praying that time doesn't fly like it usually does!

Washington Fields is amazing. We cover the whole Washington Fields stake - 11 wards. It's quite opposite from Washington, where I was before. Washington is a pretty humble area. Washington Fields is filled with doctors and more doctors. The two stakes are right next to each other so we pass through my old area in Washington a lot. Which is a little difficult and heart breaking at times because as we pass the homes I remember the miracles, the things I learned, the people who we were really close with and it's hard to not be able to visit them and continue teaching their families! BUT - in a sense it's good because it helps remind me of all the things I learned there and how I need to continue applying those things in Washington Fields.

For conference we watched the Saturday morning session at a less-actives home (and the talks then were exactly what we wanted them to's great how that works!) and then we were going to watch the afternoon session in our Live At Home Senior Couple's house with one of our investigators but he never showed up... so we just watched with the sweet couple that we work with in the stake! For Sunday morning we watched it in one of our ward mission leaders homes and had one of our investigators, Danielle, come. Our ward mission leader and his family made us quiche, homemade cinnamon rolls, and tons of fruit. I was in heaven. And last night we had a family home evening with the same family and Danielle and they made us homemade Cafe Rio and Sister Calves made her famous french crepes and they provided all the toppings. It was...amazing. And to top it off we spent the whole lesson talking about the Holy Ghost and how we recognize it and Danielle was SUPER open in talking about how much she felt the spirit during conference and how much the gospel has already blessed her life. The spirit was strong there as we all shared different experiences we've had with the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives.

General Conference for a missionary is the equivalent of Christmas morning!!  I loved how the conference ended with the talk of Elder Bednar about basically WHY we share the gospel. I think it was not only great for those whom we are teaching to hear that message but also for missionaries and members to be reminded of WHY they are doing this great work.

It reminded me that I am not a missionary just because I want to preach the gospel, just because I want to baptize people, just because I want to serve, and DEFINITELY not because I want to earn brownie points in heaven!

I am a missionary because I have felt for myself of the miraculous healing and strengthening power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in my very own life. I have felt of Christ's redeeming love and have witnessed the change His sacrifice has made in my life.

And my little heart can't stand to think that there are others out there just like me who are in great need of this healing balm.

That is simply why we are here as missionaries. Not to hand out Books of Mormon and increase the numbers of the church, but to help those around us come to the knowledge of the change, the relief, and the peace that comes through obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are to help others come to a knowledge that they are never too far, never to distant, never too lost to feel of the redeeming love that comes from our dear Savior.

With much love, Sister Martin

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

By small means great things are brought to pass

I will be serving in Washington Fields with Sister Calves! She is from Serent, France :) And I absolutely love her to death. I've served with her in the VC ever since I first got here. She is the french tour bus queen! We will be living on a casida in our area and will still be working in the VC half the day.  Here is some of what I wrote President:

Well I am very excited for my call to serve with Sister Calves in Washington Fields and to serve many sisters as well!! A bit unexpected, but I know great things are in store. This is the first time that I'll have a companion who's shorter than me!! Yahoo!

We'll be a short companionship, but the scripture in Alma 37:6 gives me great hope. That by small and simple means, great things are brought to pass :)

I'm thrilled to see the miracles and growth that will occur this transfer. It's hard to leave Washington - I have learned SO much and I feel I have grown SO much while being there. It's been amazing to see the changes and the progress in the stake. It took 9 months for me to finally grasp what the Lord has sent me out here to do: to learn how to love our brothers and sisters. Don't get me wrong, I am still learning a whole lot on that subject - I don't think I'll ever fully master it in this life. But it has helped me to find so much more meaning through out not only these past few transfers, not only through this mission, but through my mortal existence. I feel the people we taught, the members we worked with, the leaders we we coordinated with, the companions I served with have all contributed to helping me learn this great lesson from Heavenly Father.

When I think of my experience in Washington I think of Mosiah 18 when Alma and his people gathered in the place of Mormon to organize the Church of Christ. In verse 30 it reads:

"And now it came to pass that all this was done in [Washington], yea, by the [desert] of [Washington], in the [stake] that was near the [desert] of [Washington]; yea, the place of [Washington], the [desert] of [Washington], the [stake] of [Washington], how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever.

Well I guess you could use the original word "waters" considering how many floods we've had over here.... But I love this verse so much because not only do I feel that I have come to the knowledge of my Redeemer here, but I have seen many others as well. And no matter how many red rocks and tumbleweeds and gusts of blowing red dust there is over here it will always be beautiful in my eyes for the experiences I have had here.

So that is what I wrote President. I will seriously miss Washington - but my sweet old companion, Sister Morales, will be taking my place. She is the most loving person I have ever met so it is an answer to many of prayers!! These wonderful people need to be taken care of by someone who LOVES them!

P.S. this is a pic of my last district. Was it any coincidence that it was named the "waters of Mormon" district? :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

God answers our prayers

Greetings loved ones!!

The city of Washington is treating Sister Archambault and I very well. Transfer calls are coming up next Saturday so I'm a little nervous! I would love to stay in Washington and continuing working with the beautiful people here. I really feel like this is home! It's so bizarre working in 6 week increments - time flies WAY too fast. My 9 month mark is coming up in a few weeks. WEIRD! It's so strange looking back to what I was like in the MTC and then to now... it has indeed been the refiners fire that's for sure. I never expected how much I would change out here just in 9 months. It will be exciting to see what the next 9 months will bring!

Yesterday I was on exchanges with a Sister in St. George in an area called Morningside. They are full proselyting so we had some time to tract out some different apartment complexes  - and get this - that was my first time tracting! While serving half the time in the VC it's easy to have the remaining time in your area just be all referral work. But I was so excited to tract! We ran in to the most interesting people in some of the most interesting situations! It's fun because at each door you never know what you're going to expect - but you know one thing is constant - you know that at every single door you will testify of the restoration and of Jesus Christ and commit the person to doing something. I'm so glad that that stays constant because testifying of these truths has the power to change any awkward, negative, and unexpected door contact into one filled with the spirit and hope and love.

One home we knocked on was this extremely elderly woman who looked liked she was just about on her last straw... she was very shaky and nervous she wouldn't make it through the day. She told us she was really miserable right then. We tried to start a conversation about things that she is grateful for in the great life she's lived - she talked a lot of about her husband who was a patriarch and her children. She was having a hard time hearing us so we both had to kneel by her feet and talk with her. We shared some scripture with her and bore testimony of the love that Heavenly Father has for her. It was so hard to hold my tears back the whole time. It's incredible how we on earth can feel just a slight portion of the love that our Heavenly Father has for His children. She thanked us repeatedly for coming over and then started to cry and said with a slight smile, "I guess God does answer our prayers, doesn't he?"

I know that God truly does work through His children here on the earth to answer the prayers of all those around us. I have seen it in my own life repeatedly and the life of others.

We also had some time to go to a rest home and talk with a lot of the people there. I even played the piano and we sung some hymns! I feel like I haven't had an experience like this since I was back at home with the family at Christmas time - brought back so many good memories! I can see how all those visits with the youth in the ward and with my family helped me be prepared to brighten maybe some ones day at the rest home yesterday. Again, it's amazing to feel just a very small portion of the love that Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father has for each one of those beautiful people we visited with there.

I know that at one point in our pre-earth life we talked with and walked with and loved our Father in Heaven. We promised Him to take good care of His children on the earth. We promised to show others love, that they might feel of His love.

And I sure do love each one of you!!! :)

Love, Sister Martin

Friday, September 12, 2014

"It is more important to love than to be loved."

Dear loved ones, 

This week has been a turning point for me in my mission. Well, really, a turning point for me in my life. 

Sister Archambault and I received a text from our mission president on Saturday night that asked us if we would be able to attend a meeting at the Institute building at Dixie State at 8am. We had no idea what this meeting was for seeing as how it's not in our stake. And needless to say I was kind of hyperventilating because we never receive messages like that from him. 

So naturally we showed up like 20 minutes early to insure that we were not late... heh :) Well then walks in some of our past stake presidents of previous areas. We were really confused at first but asked them if they knew what was going on. They told us that Elder Wade of the Seventy had called a meeting for the east side of St. George leadership. When we walked in the room Elder Wade greeted us as well as our mission president and the stake presidents that were there. There were 12 of them around the table. I felt slightly out of place. We were the only missionaries there along with our high councilman over missionary work and one of our ward mission leaders and bishops. Elder Wade began the meeting by talking about the "why" of missionary work. Then we discussed how ward councils and missionary coordination meetings are to work effectively and efficiently together accomplishing the same purpose. Sister Archambault and I talked a lot about the importance of the ward auxiliaries knowing each one of the individuals whom we are working with. We discussed the importance of caring for each one of these children of God and recognizing the duty that comes with our specific callings. 

We walked out of that meeting on cloud nine! It was so inspiring and uplifting to be among so many spiritual giants discussing the work of salvation! We realized a lot of what we need to be doing more as missionaries in the area and how we can care even more for members and those we are teaching in the stake. 

On Tuesday we had a zone conference (where half of the missionaries in the mission gather for a 6 hour training) with another member of the Seventy, Elder Clarke. It was an extremely invigorating and eye opening meeting! Something I loved about it was that when I was conducting the music for all the hymns we sung, I got to look out on this massive army of missionaries that I just LOVE serving with! The spirit was incredibly strong there. 

While in the conference I was pondering about how I began this transfer just extremely happy - which is great - but I didn't quite understand why I was all the sudden so happy. But at this meeting I finally figured out why. 

I have been thinking lately about how much I not only love the members we're working with in Washington, but how I absolutely love the people we're teaching. I feel that I have gone from having the perspective of "alright let's go teach these 5 lessons tonight and hope something changes" to "I am so excited to visit these families! I am so excited for the things we are going to learn together and for the spirit that we'll feel and the miracles that will happen!" I find myself constantly thinking about those we are teaching and the members who we're working with. It's a good feeling. No, it's an exceptional feeling. I love them and would do anything for them.

So when Elder Clarke said at zone conference that "the day they love the people more than themselves is the happiest day of a missionary's life," it finally dawned on me why I was so happy. I realized that I had finally quit thinking about myself so much and finally started focusing on others. Caring about others. As President Monson has put it so simply yet powerfully, "It is more important to love than to be loved." I have seen probably the most touching experience on my mission this week that I will keep near and dear to my heart forever from following the counsel of our dear prophet and Elder Wade and Elder Clarke. I have seen a whole family change their lives around simply because of the love that was demonstrated to them - they were obviously able to feel the love of Heavenly Father through those that showed they cared.

I have been having this inner battle with myself trying to find out answers to questions like "Am I doing enough? Am I being exactly obedient? Am I having any success? What should I be doing more?" etc. I reflect again and again on the scripture in Matthew that so simply states "He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." I know and I have seen evidence because of the events of this past week that when we lose ourselves in the service of others, when we love unconditionally, we will find ourselves fulfilling our purpose that we were sent here to accomplish. 

That was what the majority of the conference was about - well both meetings actually - all about loving and caring for everyone: Those we are teaching, members we are working with, leaders who are serving us, missionaries we serve with. 

I think the times I will be able to remember most about this mission are the times when we hear the sweet and simple prayers of those we are teaching, when we are able to witness hearts softening and families changing, when we share tears with one another and know that we will always be here for each other. I have grown to really love the people in Washington and I hope with all my heart that when I leave this area (hopefully not for a long time) the next missionaries that come in will take good care of each person here. 

I know that when we apply the teachings of Jesus Christ, the prophets, and other leaders in the church that we will see the fruit of our efforts. We will see God's hand in our lives. I love being a member of this church because of what it does for me. I have found that when I learn something, and I do it and apply it, I am happy :) 

I strive to live worthy of your prayers each and every day; thank you for all the support and love and care I feel from each one of you :)

Love, Sister Martin

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Logistics + Pictures

So I am over the whole Washington stake - 7 wards. It's a little overwhelming at times. We get to about 3 sacrament meetings per morning and sometimes we go to like 4 ward councils right in a row. It makes it difficult moving to new areas constantly because you have to memorize wards, meeting houses, boundaries, which investigator/less active is in which ward, bishops, ward mission leaders, and tons and tons and tons of paper work. But It also gives us the opportunity to have tons of great leadership examples to learn from and various missionary techniques and efforts. And we get to work closely with the stake president. Its also nice being here in Utah because you work with so many returned missionary presidents! which sometimes makes things really nerve racking but it's really great working with all of them.

In the VC (Visitor's Center) we have VCT's (two sister designated at Visitor Center Trainers) and they compile the mass schedule for the transfer. They have to take into account car shares, meeting times, language sister (there always has to be a few sisters of each language on) P-days, and a lot more. It takes them 10 hours to make the schedule!  So we get a schedule and it tells us when we are on the morning shift or afternoon shift (either 9am-3pm or 3pm-9pm) And then we have a schedule for where we are supposed to be while we're in there. Like the front, the art room, the back, the savior room, the teaching center (where we make calls and such)

Every Thursday morning in the VC we have this thing called story time where 70 children come (okay - that's an exaggeration but sometimes it feels like that many come) and we teach a principle like honesty or sharing with fun books and videos and songs! This is me with the Dr. Seuss hat on because I'm reading (we're forced to wear it...:D ) and playing some of the songs for them.

One of our ward mission leaders and his wife took Sister Pearson and I up to Zion National Park before the transfer ended. It was the most BEAUTIFUL day!!! Rainy!!

Brother and Sister Carter. We rode the tram through the park.

We hiked up to "Weeping Rock." It always has drops of water falling off but it was more like sobbing rock that day since it was raining.

View of weeping rock. 
Finally got sunny at the end :)

This is Sister Clarke (from South Africa) Sister Groeneveld (Germany) and me at Jacob Hamblin's home!!  

The baptism of one of the most inspiring boys I have ever taught - Colby Covington. His grandparents adopted him because he was orphaned - grew up in an environment that was extremely harsh. I absolutely love teaching him and hearing his thoughtful answers and insights. This baptism was a miracle and an answer to a lot of prayers in the stake! 

Sister Hee, Sister Lomiga and me at our transfer meeting - Sister Lomiga got transferred to the YSA ward in Price!

This is a sweet, sweet girl who was baptized on Sunday! When we found her and her family she had been wanting to take the missionary discussions for a LONG time. She even had a goal set for herself that she would get baptized before she turned 16, and she is 15 :) She has some great goals for herself as well. She always tells me how she wants to serve a mission and get married in the SLC temple! Now we are just working with the rest of her family :)