Thursday, May 29, 2014

I wish I was in Utah's Dixie

TRANSFER DOCTRINE: Sister Shoemaker and I are staying in the St. George Stake and Sister Morales is moving to the apartment right next to us and will be serving in my greenie stake, Bloomington!! And we now have 13 companionships (not including the senior couples) serving in the VC - getting prepared for summer!

Speaking of, on Sunday the VC was PACKED! The place was a sauna just because so many bodies were packed in there! And in the middle of it all I had to give an Italian bus tour. No, I don't speak Italian so the tour guide had to translate everything for the bus. They wanted a tour of the temple pictures we have and of the history of St. George and then to listen to the message of the Christus in Italian (fun side note, when it's really slow in the VC I play the Christus in all the weird languages we have... like Thai and Cambodian and such. And guess what, you can still feel the spirit!). But anyway, it's a little difficult giving a tour when you have a translator because you have to choose your words and phrases veryyyy carefully. I said like a million prayers before the 40 or so Italians all gathered around... and then I had to practically yell because of the amount of people there! But they were a really fun group - had a lot of great questions. And about 8 people wanted an Italian Book of Mormon! We are starting to get a lot more French and German buses as well, about 6 a day or so. Crazy!

Today we had our transfer meeting and I got to perform on a violin for the FIRST TIME! Eek.. There were 4 sisters singing and 1 on the piano and we played "Because I Have Been Given Much." Sister Hansen helped me write out a part last night, it went really well. But my fingers are a little sensitive now since my calluses are completely gone...

Anyway, I have to get going now, but I love you all so much!! We have had a week full of wonderful very spiritual and inspiring lessons - some beautiful miracles have been happening and I can see the Lord's hand in everything we do. I have realized that the more grateful we are, the more we recognize the answers to our prayers. We will be unable to recognize them until we make a conscious effort to be genuinely grateful. I love this gospel and the light it has provided me in seeing the many things I am grateful for and that we are blessed. I strive every day to be worthy of the prayers and sacrifices of all who are helping me serve this mission for the Lord. Blessings and love to each one of you!

Much love, Sister Martin

P.S. I lost my flash drive with all my stake documents on it and a ton of my pictures... pray that I find it! :(

We did this activity days lesson for all the girls in the stake. Fun! (Activity Days is for girls ages 8 through 11. Leaders and teachers use the Faith in God guidebooks as resources for activity days, supporting the work children and parents do at home to fulfill Faith in God requirements)

Sister Morales got stung by a bee on Dixie Rock right on her EYELID ...scary... and it was stuck in her hair forever. I seriously practically ran right off Dixie Rock and on to the highway. Then brave German Sister Greoenveld pulled the stinger out of her eyelid....AHHH.

Me with the Germans on Dixie Rock! 

My ticket to ride the merry-go-round! 

Got that white skirt at DI for $5 :)

Sister Morales didn't even meant to take a pic (or have it zoomed up so far) but she got a pic right in time when this REALLY creepy guy was calling the VC. He calls often and says the creepiest things...creepy. We just hang up. 

Sister Morales, Busteed, and me!! I love them!! 

With the sweater G-ma made me!!! :) 

We went to this place called Coyote Tacos that one of our investigators has been raving about (If we go get tacos there, you HAVE to go to church this Sunday - worked out nicely :) ) and Sister Morales said they were like real Mexican tacos.  And I got to get my favorite Horchata :)

Sister Morales and I!! (She gave me that blue skirt :D ) 

First In-N-Out experience. It was a mad house in there.

There is this member who feeds our district lunch after our weekly district meetings - SOO nice! This is his adorable dog, Sam. Last time he fed us Texas enchiladas (YUM) and this time he fed us wild rice stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon and cheese... I thought dad would appreciate this.

Remember that Buddhist Chinese exchange student that I had that marvelous experience with at the VC?! Well, she's leaving this week to go back and she and her friend stopped by to see me! We are keeping in touch and I'm still teaching her via email :)

This amazing singing group came to the VC (their name is Arete) and I got to sing with them!! A few are from Tennessee and Berkeley. The guy in the middle is the one who put it all together. He studied at Harvard with Clayton Christensen and served in the mission presidency with him in Boston. He helped him write the book "The Power of Everyday Missionaries" - which is a MARVELOUS need to read it! But he felt that God wanted him to do something else so he followed the spirit and organized this wonderful group (he's actually not even musical) and they go around doing these 3 day benefit concerts for mainly non-members.... I can't explain it all but they're really amazing! 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Definition of Successful


How are all of you doing? Summers almost here, how exciting!! Well actually for me it's been here for about a month or so :) I LOVE this weather, especially the zero humidity! 

It's excellent running weather, no wonder people are always doing marathons and ironmans down here. We run 2 miles every morning, sometimes more, sometimes less. I think my running has improved just because of this weather - seriously!! 

I'd love for you to tell me what your plans are for this summer! Temporally, and spiritually 

Well, last week we had interviews with President Center, our mission President, and his wife. We have them about every four months. They are such good people. They have a sincere desire to help each and every missionary in this mission. This interview President revealed to me how companions are chosen. There is actually a board in his office (a cabinet that opens up - it's always locked but I've seen it once!) that's called the "transfer board." He told me that once transfers occur (every 6 weeks) that FIRST week he begins working on companionships for the next transfer. It's an ongoing, never ending process. He said that it takes a lot of prayer and fasting. Sometimes he goes in there when the office is closed and everyone is gone and just sits and stares at the board and thinks, and prays, and thinks a little more, and then finally acts. He starts moving around the pictures of each missionary until he feels the confirmation from the Holy Ghost that these are the two, or three, companions that should be together. He literally spends all of his time and energy thinking about us missionaries. 

I really enjoyed having interviews with President Center and his wife and the time they take to inspire and uplift each missionary. Their questions and comments gave me a lot to think about!

In my interview with Sister Center she asked me how I want the rest of my mission to be spent, and I told her I wanted it to be productive and successful. And then she asked me what I meant by successful. So this whole week I've been thinking about what that means, to be a successful missionary. 

It's interesting, because at times you'll have around 20 lessons a week and feel that you weren't being very successful or productive, but other times you'll have maybe 6 lessons in one week and feel like you've really given your all and it's been as successful and productive as you can make it. I've been wondering why I have felt like this since it seems it should be the exact opposite.

I've realized that our success isn't measured by the choices of others - we cannot control whether or not people will keep their appointments or accept our message, but we can control the type of missionary we want to be. We can measure our success by our willingness to repent and our determination to keep working. 

I have found that when being so focused on a specific type of blessing, we forget to leave our eyes open to the other ways the Lord is answering our prayers and blessing our missionary work. We will be more optimistic about missionary work (whether serving a full-time or life-long mission) when we are able to recognize and appreciate the miracles that happen daily. 

I know that greater faith and in Jesus Christ and gratitude for His blessings will allow me to recognize the ways I can be a successful missionary. And I strongly believe that this same principle applies to measuring our success in our personal lives even after the mission - our willingness to repent throughout the day/week/year and our determination to work is how our success is measured throughout life. 

Much love, Sister Martin

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Spirit of God like a Lava is Burning

Hello Family!! 

It was SO good to talk to you on Sunday - I have been playing and replaying seeing all of you, from Provo to St. Louis! Just seeing you guys gave me so much energy and joy!!! Thanks for being patient with the weird technical difficulties :/ It's so weird to think I won't see you till Christmas... But I know time will fly by! I had a lot of things I had thought about to share with you, but of course right when I see you guys I have a million bajillion thoughts swarming around in my head and can't remember anything else! So I apologize if I seemed a little scattered. Next time I will write all those thoughts down :)

We have been having a lot of success here in the St. George Stake. The High Council is going around to every ward and sharing with them a video on the site "Hastening the Work." Ever since this has started, we have been receiving calls like crazy! People calling to have us teach their grandchildren, their friends, their kids, asking us how to approach their friends, it's great! We are going over to a members home soon to talk to her about how she can help her less-active friend who is an RM. We will give her a few ideas and role play the situation with her. So remember, if you ever need some ideas for missionary work, just ask the missionaries! 

Oh, and is our ward down to one set of elders?

A funny story I forgot to tell you all last transfer: Sister Morales met this Mexican woman at the VC who invited her over for dinner. So on our p-day, we got a ride with an RM from Peru who joined with us. Everyone in the house spoke spanish except for me. In fact, the couple that was feeding us didn't speak a lick of english. So I thought to myself, "Well looks like I can just sit back and relax and enjoy the food!" 

But it was not so. 

Before the lady served us, she had me taste test this sauce she was making called malee. I had a little bit on a chip and YOWZER it was quite spicy. But kinda good at first. So I put my thumbs up and smiled at her and said "Si! Tengo hambre!" - my spanish is limited. 

Well, turns out that we were going to have a little bit of chicken and rice with our malee. And by that, I mean the malee sauce was basically the meal. Never in my life have I experienced my mouth feeling as if it was housing a small bonfire. I wouldn't be surprised if smoke was coming out of my ears. The whole time we were eating and everyone was conversing in spanish, I was sniffing and wiping away the tears from this lava on my plate. I shot a glance at Sister Morales every now and then as if to say, "You Mexicans are crazy!" Just kidding. But really... it was a struggle. 

Towards the end of the meal, Sister Morales began sharing a spiritual thought. Her, Sister Pearson, and the RM that was with us started to testify of the Book of Mormon. And even though I didn't quite understand what they were saying and my mouth was still recovering from the fire damage, I could feel the spirit so strongly. The spirit of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the spirit of the gospel blessing families. 

Lately, when our investigators and less-actives don't read the Book of Mormon, we just read it with them! It's amazing to see the change the Book of Mormon can bring into others lives. this week I have noticed a physical change in their countenance when we do so.  I know without a doubt that we cannot be truly converted to this gospel without a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is tangible evidence of the Restoration. The time it was brought forth testifies alone of it's importance - Joseph Smith received the Book of Mormon even before the priesthood was restored, before the church was organized, before we received the knowledge of truths such as family history work, etc. The prophets who wrote in this book saw our day and the trials we would be going though. They have put their experiences and stories that they knew would have the power to help us overcome our fears, our challenges, and increase our love and faith for our Savior and Mediator, Jesus Christ. I love the Book of Mormon! 

I am so deeply grateful for this blessing of service, for the opportunity I have to be here in St. George, Utah at my age, with my lack of experience, learning and growing and helping others to do the same. The trust that Heavenly Father has in me is incredible and I know I must do all I can in order to live up to His expectations of me. 

I love you all dearly :) 

Much love, Sister Martin

We had some beautiful stormy weather the other night - and this is the view we have from some of the homes in our area that we visit! The picture hardly captures the beauty. It was the first time I heard it thunder since back home in St.Louie :) 

Sister Childs - one of Madeline's favorite senior couples

Sister Arnold (from Germany) and I with all the German Books of Mormon! Preparing ourselves for all the German buses...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


It feels like I just saw you guys, but then again, it feels like I haven't seen you in eternity. The days feel like weeks here and the weeks feel like days. It's all very strange! 

Speaking of strange... there has been a very creepy one-eyed black cat lurking around the temple apartments. And by lurking, I mean it chases me all the way from the mailboxes back to my apartment at night. And from my apartment to the car in the morning. And it meows ferociously. Scary, right? Well of course one of the German sisters fed it tuna and water!! hahaha gotta love them. But the other day we saw an animal crate by the front office and then an animal control truck... and then a guy carrying the cat... so no more rabid kitty. 

But just to let you all know, this past week has been SOOO much better!! I told President that if he wanted to put me in another trio, go for it. Seriously, even though it's quite difficult and exhausting at times, the learning experiences and growth I have witnessed in us ALL is extremely rewarding. 

And I feel that our area is really improving. And you know why? Shorter lessons, more frequent visits, and PRAYER!!  
We realized that we needed to start showing those whom we are teaching how simple and important the gospel is by teaching shorter more meaningful lessons. And I have realized that the most meaningful and spiritual prayers contain many expressions of thanks and few, if any, requests. The more I'm thankful for our investigators and their decision in learning from us, the more my love for them grows, the more our teaching improves, and the more able we are to help them feel the spirit and communicate with Father in heaven. 

Last week in our VC Sisters Training Meeting we had a wonderful training on the Book of Mormon from Salt Lake; they talked about how we can do more than just hand someone a Book of Mormon and commit them to reading it, WE can read it WITH them! Right then and there! It was amazing because later that night two nonmembers participating in the Ironman walked in and I was able to not only apply that training but teach the Restoration in 10 minutes. And now I am teaching them online! It's amazing how when we ask in prayer for opportunities to apply the things we've learned, God sends down experiences for us in 10 fold. I love it. 

And I love hearing about you missionary experiences and what you have been learning about the Gospel of Jesus Christ!! :)

I don't want to share too much more since I will see you on MOTHERS DAY!! :) 

I love you guys :) I can feel your love and prayers all the way down here in St. Geezy - seriously. Thank you :)

Much love, Sister Martin

p.s. Thank you SO MUCH Jackie for the package with food! I have hardly any money down here between laundry, toliet paper, and basic groceries! So I appreciate the to-go food and chocolate :) I ate all the kit-kats in one sitting.... :D heh! 

Madeline's previous district

Sisters serving at the VC! The director and his wife are in the middle. 
They are like my mom ad dad there haha

The Hewstones and me! They are a cute senior couple from Australia (thickest accents you've ever heard) and they went home :( I love all the senior couples!  We have about 12 couples. 

One of our investigators has a little bunny name Roger the Rabbit - SO cute!!
 But when her daughter was playing with it on the floor,
it escaped and darted under my feet and my legs flew up in the air like 5 feet
I squealed like a little girl. The whole family couldn't
stop laughing.... embarrassing. 

An exchange student from China that came in the VC while waiting for her friends who were in the temple - she is Buddhist. She said that she and her mother prayed and prayed to know where to send her for this exchange and they both felt strongly that Utah was the place - how neat is that. I told her that she received that answer for a reason - she is amazingly spiritual for her age.  I gave her a whole tour and she loved it!! We ended it by listening to the Christus in Mandarin. I am now teaching her online and she wrote a little note for Seth in Chinese :)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Poodles, roosters, & cats - Oh My!


I have two great miracles to share from this past week. Are you ready?! 

Number 1: After months and months of trying, we were able to get in to a recent converts house and have one of the follow up lessons with them. She is a 15 year old named Cheynee who lives in a somewhat dis-functional home. To give you a small idea of what it's like, the first time we went to contact her the pit-bull and poodle (whose fur was died blue) were barking like we were about to rob them and a random rooster that sounded like he was about to go to the slaughter house wouldn't stop cock-a-dooling. So we could barely hear her speak whenever she came to the door. And there's a strange head sitting on the porch that looks like the head on the spider thing on toy story (like identical) and it grows hair every time we go back. Scary...

Anyway, we FINALLY got in to a lesson with her! And then she had like 5000 cats in her house. Okay, 5. And I'm slightly allergic to cats so i was getting really nervous. I guess I'm a cat magnet because every few seconds they would try to hop on me. I was sitting on the couch in between my companions and the whole time they would constantly grab a cat by the neck and fling it off while looking at Cheynee and teaching her. And no joke this happened once every 10 seconds the WHOLE time! It was a pretty funny sight and i had to hold back my laughter many times. I don't think she got the hint that I was really allergic to cats... So the miracle is that I have 2 companions who will protect me and throw cats off me while keeping the spirit in the room. And that we had a wonderful lesson with her FINALLY! :)

Number 2: The next miracle is that we have received numerous referrals that have great potential. It seemed as if for a while we were dried our on who else to visit that would actually listen to our message. And the Lord has sent us those whom he has prepared :)We are now teaching a lot of children right now, a few teenagers, and some seniors. It's hard alternating lessons to each of their needs and their level of understanding - but it's amazing how powerful and constant the gospel is to every one we teach. I feel that I can truly say that the Lord is hastening the work in the St. George Stake - it's flourishing. And it's all because members and missionaries are working together and praying mightily :) Angles are sitting around waiting for their assignments, and when there is enough specifics and faith in our prayers, miracles happen.

Despite these small miracles, I've been feeling really exhausted and slightly overwhelmed lately. Working in a trio is hard work. Sometimes I find myself not smiling as much as I used to. I don't get overwhelmed or stressed very easily so it's something I'm not used to. But I've been praying a lot - especially for patience. I know missionary work is not supposed to be easy and I'm glad I'm experiencing a little opposition. I know this will be just a refining point in my life according to the way I respond to these situations. The Atonement is a very powerful and real thing; it is something to be used every day. I'm grateful for this Gospel and the peace and comfort it brings constantly into our lives. 

I love all of you :) 

Much love, Sister Martin