Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Triple Baptisms

WOW!! Where to start! 

So we had three baptisms on Saturday!! The first was a couple named Robert and Kelly who were previously homeless and hitchhiked their way to St. George from Colorado. Every person who picked them up and drove them was LDS! So they took that as a big sign from God, met the missionaries at the VC, and then wanted to be baptized! They weren't our baptisms but since they live in our area now we are going to teach them the follow up lessons. Sister Liu and I sung "I stand All Amazed" with Sister Hansen playing a beautiful accompaniment of it on the piano that she wrote. The spirit was so strong I had to try my best to hold back tears and keep singing! 

After Robert and Kelly's baptism, we had Jose's. He is so sweet. The night before his baptism he wanted to meet us at the VC and talk about some more about the baptism. He repeatedly told us how much he will miss us (since he's from Mexico and still has a hard time understanding English, he will be transferred to the Spanish ward) and how much we have helped him to change his life. He said he wants a picture with us and a picture frame that says, "The three sisters that changed my life!" So sweet. I will never forget seeing him time after time walk into the VC holding his Book of Mormon and reading it like it was his only possession he ever owned. You can see in his eyes that he knows that the Book of Mormon is true and that it has already brought much comfort, peace, and direction into his life. And guess what?! I got to play a viola for his baptism!!! One of our ward mission leaders mom's plays and she let me borrow it! (it was a really nice viola...) I played "The Lord is My Shepard" with Sister Liu accompanying me. Jose just loved it. It was a really special baptism. 

Anyway, this week has been absolutely wonderful. I LOVE working with Sister Pearson and Morales. We have way too much fun together! Sometimes we just cannot stop laughing! Especially when we are all trying to go to bed...we can just never stop talking and laughing! They are also so sincere and thoughtful in their teaching and they truly care about each one of their investigators. It's inspiring. They've helped me a lot in getting used to teaching with different companions. 

I've made a few goals of things that I want to look back on and say that I did as a missionary when I return home. One of those goals is that I want to be able to honestly say that I loved every single one of my companions. I think when you learn how to love your companion, you learn how to love your investigators. It's kind of like what mom always used to tell us: "If you want friends, you better be friends with your family first." I think that when we realize that companions can be more than just an assigned roommate and that they are indeed friends, then we will have a glimpse of how our Heavenly Father wants us to live, not only as two or three random people stuck together by random circumstance, but as very close friends who can help us progress in this little time we have. The same goes for family. 

I have to leave now, but I know a lot of you are all probably thinking of the words in Alma 60:6... "And now behold, we desire to know the cause of this exceedingly great neglect; yea, we desire to know the cause of your thoughtless state." I PROMISE I will get letters to you all sooner or later... The work is just blossoming out here and there is so much to do!! 

I love all of you!!! Keep standing for truth and righteousness!! 

Much love, Sister Martin

Our room.. the apartment is really only made for 2 sisters

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


When Sister Brenders asked me how I felt about E.T.'s, I thought she was referring to the little fictional alien that's always pointing his finger... You know, the movie Seth always quotes? haha! Well, it stands for Emergency Transfer. Not the best phrase around the mission, I'll tell you that. 

Transfers (where you could be transferred to a new area with a new companion) happens every 6 weeks. When you first enter the mission field and are being trained, you almost always stay with your trainer for 12 weeks so you can complete the 12 week training program. Well, it's been about 8 weeks so far and our next transfer isn't coming up for another 4 weeks. BUT there was a sister up in Beaver waiting to get her visa to Russia...

So, first off, when we are not on shift at the Visitors' Center we can teach lessons to our investigators there, which is extremely helpful with all the great resources, theaters, and movies we have. After a wonderful lesson with a 20 year old boy named Aven there (who believed in Taoism until we introduced the idea of God. Making excellent progress.. Went to church for the first time this last Sunday!), our mission president appeared and pulled Sister Brenders and me aside to talk. Uh-oh! He told us that this sister in Beaver that's waiting to go to Russia just got her visa and had to leave immediately. He needed a sister to go up to Beaver. "Sister Brenders, you're going to Beaver." It felt like a reality TV show or something... So then I ask, "What's going to happen to me?" He replies, "Sister Martin, you're going to downtown St. George." AHHHH!! Leaving your trainer and greenie area unexpectedly with only 2 days to prepare was a little.... overwhelming. I had barely got the hang of the seven wards we were covering, the names of everyone, the leaders and investigators trust and friendship, etc etc. Sister Brenders and I were not ready to leave the beautiful Bloomington area, our faithful investigators, our inspiring leaders, or each other!! The other set of sisters who were covering the other half of the stake now cover the whole stake (14 wards) for the last 4 weeks of the transfer. It was REALLY hard saying goodbye to all of our investigators and members... but I know they will be in good hands and that the Lord is still watching over them.

So I am still serving in the Visitors' Center but I am also in the St. George Stake (it's a walking area - and I am so glad because the weather right now is absolutely gorgeous. And I could use a good tan...). I am now in a trio with Sister Pearson (from England) and Sister Morales (from Puebla, Mexico). It is a joy to be with two very sweet sisters like Sister Pearson and Sister Morales. Things are different, but I'm learning to adjust. It's not going to be easy to re-learn wards, names, streets, investigators, and so forth, but just from our first day together I know that the Lord knew that this is exactly what I needed! I already love the people in the St. George Stake and especially my two companions. Their optimism and genuine kindness is more than I could ask for :) Andddd the temple apartments that VC sisters stay in are teenytiny so I'm kind of living out of my suitcase... but that's okay! Because the church is still true! And the book is blue! 

We taught a man last night named Jose. He has amazing faith and is on date for baptism pretty soon. He was telling us how people that he works with bash the church and try to convince him of all the reasons he shouldn't join. He has a very strong Spanish accent so sometimes he would just describe his feelings in Spanish. I thought that Sister Morales would translate for Sister Pearson and me but then Sister Pearson started speaking Spanish! Ahh! Between all the French and Spanish speakers, I feel like I got the short stick on this whole gift of tongues thing! But anyway, he kept on explaining how happy he feels when he reads the Book of Mormon every day and how he knows the the adversary is cracking down on him because he is making all the right decisions in life. He told us that he knows that how he reacts to this opposition in life will strengthen him and his testimony, He's awesome. And SO nice! His baptism was supposed to be pretty soon, but we had to break the news to him that he couldn't get baptized since he was still living with his ex-wife (they are now best friends). We felt really bad about saying this after he had just poured his heart out to us about how happy and excited he was for doing the right thing... We shared with him 1 Nephi 3:7 and told him how the Lord will provide a way for him to keep this law of chastity. I thought he might be really discouraged...but nope! He said he knew that was the right thing to do and that he will text us today and tell us how he will make the situation work! So. Awesome. The Lord will always provide us a way to keep every commandment He has given us. I know that for a fact. It just requires our faith and trust in Him!

One of our last lessons Sister Brenders and I taught was about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It's not the typical Preach My Gospel lesson, but this lady had a LOT  of questions about it, so we studied it out and came back. Something that really struck out to me (don't ask me why I haven't realized it before) was JUDGEMENT DAY! Ahh... And why did judgement day all the sudden pop out at me? Because I realized that in reality, every day is a day of judgement. WE speak, think, and act according to celestial, terrestial, and telestial law. Our faith in Jesus Christ, as shown by our daily actions, determines which kingdom we will inherit. After this insight, Sister Brenders and I made the goal to make every day a CELESTIAL KINGDOM day! Not only that, but we are preparing our investigators for the Second Coming and judgement day! So something I have been thinking is, "Am I preparing these people to stand before the Lord at the judgement bar with a clear conscience and the feeling of confidence in standing in His presence?" Are WE preparing ourselves for this day? This day will come, no doubt about it. And THIS is the time we have to prepare for that day. Having the spirit is not part of the formula for preparation, it IS the formula. Preparations focused on earning the blessings of the spirit are essential to our day of judgement. 

I love all of you! Remember, as mom always says, stand for TRUTH and RIGHTEOUSNESS! 

Love, Sister Martin

Friday, March 14, 2014


We have a senior couple serving in the VC from Sydney, Australia
and they are just the cutest! So we have a lot of these Koala bears hangin around 

In one of our district meetings we baked our secret "missionary cookie recipe"
all of our bishops... that's a lot of bishops! We have 7!
And yes, we are cutting up Milka chocolate to put in them :) So good!

Sister Garcia and me on shift at the VC!

Sister Leota and me before she was transferred.

Sister Biery and me!! I love her!! She's from Kentucky :)
She is German speaking.

niece/daughter, mother/daughter, mother/grandmother, daughter/aunt/sister.

 My favorite little french canadian, Sister Antian!
She has the cutest french accent ever. She was transferred to Price.

Sister Busteed, one of my STL's (Sister Training leader)!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Confessions of a Chocoholic

So on March 1st the "No Sugar March" diet went into effect... implented my Sister Center (mission presidents wife) and other Visitors' Center sisters. Of course I wasn't exactly thrilled about this, but I thought I could give it a try.

Well, whaddya know, March 1st rolls around and Sister Brenders and I get up and get ready to exercise at 6:30am. And of course I need a little pick me up so I grabbed some dark chocolate.... but hey, at least I stayed with the plan for 6 hours and 30 minutes, right?! The more I think about it, the more I realize how attached I really am to chocolate. I love it :)

But ANYWAY! I just wanted to start off and say how grateful I am for my family, my ward family, my friends and those supporting me at home. Your letters mean so much to mean and I can feel your prayers every day. There is an unseen force holding me together and pushing me forward - And I know that is because of the prayers from you and the love from our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now :) Especially with this heavenly weather... It's been raining a lot recently and us mid-westerns out here are LOVING it!! Reminds us of home :)

It's so fun being companions with a french sister and serving with them too! They make crepes all the time and they are SO delicious!! It reminded me of you, Adam :) (try making them with coconut milk and almond milk instead of regular) I'm still waiting for them to make some french pastries...

In the stake we are serving in our stake president invited us to attend every missionary prep. Every time he asks us to participate in one way or another. There's about 100 people that attend... a lot of youth with a few leaders. Awesome, right?! All the bishops and ward mission leaders attend. The stake president also assigned two assistants to the president and split every one up into districts and assigned district leaders. How neat is that!! They are serious about mission prep and we love it!! In every sacrament meeting we attend, we hear our names mentioned in the prayers. I encourage all of you to pray for your missionaries by name at home and get to know them!! THIS is the time to gather the Lord's sheep and work TOGETHER!!

Sister Brenders and I with Julie Rogers.
One of her original paintings behind us of Christ's baptism! :)
We currently have an art exhibit in the Visitors' Center by a local artist from Kanaab, Julie Rogers. BEAUTIFUL art. The exhibit is called "Yesterday, Today, and Forever." It depicts certain gospel principles and doctrines that have been in effect ever since the beginning of time. It shows a picture of Christ and of the pioneers side by side to demonstrate the parallels. We give a  lot of tours in this room and the spirit is very strong.

We are teaching a "lost boy" (excommunicated boy from the FLDS church) named T-Ben (short for Teancum Benjamin) and he is currently staying with the mayor of St. George's family. We teach them every Monday night and this past Monday we took them on a tour of the paintings. It's really hard to get T-Ben to open up, but he opened up to all of these paintings. It's truly amazing and inspiring the testimonies that can be conveyed through the arts - whether it be uplifting music, soothing poetry or descriptive paintings. We got to have a personal tour by Julie and she told us that she decided at a young age that she would use her talent to build up the Lord's kingdom - and boy has she done that!! Hearts have been touched,  tears have been shed, and testimonies have been strengthened in this spirit filled room.

I know that the Lord's hand is present in our every day lives. Whether he reaches out to us through others talents or loved ones around us, His spirit is there. And He loves us. I know that we are given our small talents and gifts to help build up the Lord's kingdom, just like Julie Rogers demonstrated for us in the Visitors' Center. One of my favorite quotes about this is from President Gordon B. Hinckley:

"Though my work may be menial, though my contribution may be small, I can perform it with dignity and offer it with unselfishness. My talents may not be great, but I can use them to bless the lives of others. I can be one who does his work with pride in that which comes from hand and mind. I can be one who works with respect for my associates, for their opinions, for their beliefs, with appreciation for their problems and with a desire to help them should they stumble. I believe in the principle that I can make a difference in this world. It may be ever so small. But it will count for the greater good. The goodness of the world in which we live is the accumulated goodness of many small and seemingly inconsequential acts." 

Never underestimate the influence YOU can have on someone!! Each one of you has influenced me in my life one way or another, each on of you has helped me feel Heavenly Father's love. And for that, I am very grateful :)

Much love, Sister Martin

Brother and Sister Thompson were in my branch presidency at the MTC.
She is the mom in "God's plan for His Family" at the VC and in many other church movies!!
So I get to see her every day :) She bought a skirt for me and brought it down here!! 

Facials at a Relief Society activity
Sister Leota and I giving tours at Brigham Young's home :)
Those are almond trees!

Senior couples

Madeline hides in the other missionaries' cubbies to scare them ... haha!