Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"Send us out into the desert, seeking thy wandering sheep"

Dear loved ones,

For clarification, dog-town is  town full of trailer parks. Or so I am told. Hopefully that makes more sense now :)

I am starting to adjust to the hot weather. I kind of enjoy it now. Pretty sure this is a blessing from God, seeing as how the hot weather has destroyed many of my belongings when I leave them in the car... But you know me, always FREEZING where ever I am so it's nice being a little toasty at times.

Speaking of toasty, one of investigators (who previously had a baptism date set... but not anymore because her less-active husband is a little controlling) has been having a hard week. She is really an amazing woman. She has overcome a LOT in her life. She hasn't been responding to any of our texts or calls or answering the door so we were really worried about her. We've been praying for opportunities to get in touch with her again and find ways to serve her. Well, one night we went once more to knock on her door and she was HOME!! Right when we walked in we saw she was doing dishes and cleaning her kitchen so we just scooted right up next to her and started up a conversation over the sink while helping her wash and clean. Her son burned pancakes all over this frying pan so she had the water on extreme hot and her trailer doesn't have a AC so needless to say we were all sweating up a storm.

We then started to clean her family room and such and she slowly began to be more open about the things that were holding her back and weighing her down. We finally began to realize what the whole iceberg of her problems were at the end of cleaning. We offered to come back the next morning to pull her weeds at the end of our conversation.

So when we got there with some tools the next morning she was at work but her husband came out. I was a little nervous at first because he was calling us a lot of names and making fun of us because we came to pull weeds in the heat of the day around noon. Then he was criticizing our pulling weeds techniques. 

Embarrassing. So I told him to come off the porch and show us how to pull his weeds (aka mini cacti...fun weeds to pull!) He ended up talking to us the whole time and by the end of it we had committed him to coming to church with his wife the next morning! I firmly believe that when you want to win someone's heart over and get their attention, you serve them! I am so grateful the Lord blessed us with that opportunity. Even though it still might take some time for hearts to soften, I know that these experiences were a miracle and that there are more to come.

When we serve in the VC we have some homeless people that come in regularly - nothing scary, they are very kind and reverent when they come. I love talking with them and hearing their testimonies of when they have seen God's hand in their lives throughout their different journeys. The other day while driving in Washington (which is about 7 miles or so away from the VC), we saw like four of the regulars who come in walking with their backpacks on the side of the road throughout the day! Sister Pearson suddenly started singing, "Out in the desert they wander, hungry and helpless and cold. Out to the rescue we hasten, bringing them back to the fold!" HOW TRUE is that!! Which brings me to my favorite verse of that hymn:

"Green are the pastures inviting;
Sweet are the waters and still.
Lord, we will answer thee gladly,
'Yes, blessed Master, we will!
Make us thy true under-shepherds;
Give us a love that is deep.
Send us out into the desert,
Seeking thy wandering sheep.' "

I remember when we sang this in the Rising Generation :) I love this hymn. I know that there are those in the world who are hungering for truth and thirsting for light. I know that Jesus Christ is the life, the light  and the way. And that it is our job to help bring those of his sheep who are wondering back to the fold.

As President Hunter once said, "A great indicator of one's personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others." By praying for opportunities to serve and becoming more familiar with Jesus Christ and his life I have felt this desire come.

I love my Savior with all my heart and am grateful to be involved in such a remarkable era of missionary work. And I am thoroughly grateful for each one of you :) I strive to be worthy of each one of your prayers and I can feel increased strength and courage and desire given to me each day to endure  the heat and find those wandering sheep :)

Much love, Sister Martin

Some of my favorite families in St. George!

Gavin (our recent convert) and his cute fellowshipper, Grace. 

I love these people!

Sister Brenders on her last night here! My mama! She trained me! 
All the sisters and mom - she trained all of us, so she is our mom, and we are all sisters!
All of her decedents :) I love my sisters! They are my best friends! 

Some beautiful views of the temple and the sky. I love the weather down here - especially desert storms!!! 

One of our recent converts at her baptism - she is Navajo. There is a Navajo branch down here too. We've taught lots of them. Really neat!! She is one who is truly converted.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Living it up in Washington, Utah

The other day when Sister Pearson and I were driving around Washington on our way to a lesson, we passed about 5 trailer parks (they're all over Washington). I turned to her and said, "Now it makes sense why everyone always calls this 'dog town'".  She was a bit confused... I don't think they have that term in northern England.. because she looked around and said, "Yeah I've seen a few dogs out this week!" But then of course she says some phrases at times too that I'm absolutely clueless on. 

A lot of the trailers don't have AC in them.. so it's a wee bit toasty at times. But now that I live in the area and not in the temple apartments I really feel like Washington is my home! I feel like I really belong here. I love it here. I really do. 

We live in the basement of a members home. It was previously housing elders... so you can imagine the condition of the place. Our light in the bedroom is held on by masking tape and the AC doesn't work very well. So to turn our fan on at night we have to twist the light bulb a little so the light goes off but the fan stays on. And there's a few other weird quirks throughout it... The apartment is totally sufficient for our needs though -  I love it :) And the family upstairs has 4 kids ranging from age 2 to 11. So I seriously feel just at home when I hear little feet running around at 6 am, the soft noise of cartoons on Saturday mornings, and kids wrestling with one another and then someone starts crying and I hear "MOM!!"  Oh it's the best. Sister Pearson and I have some great laughs from everything that goes on. And then of course they wait for us to leave every morning and run our and say "Bye Sisters!!" and when we get home at night they are there to great us as well. The parents will come down and give us vegetables out of their garden and invite us to dinner at times too. I feel just at home :) 

There was a really neat story that happened last transfer with Sister Shoemaker and I in the St. George stake that I forgot to tell you guys too. 

One day we went to contact some less actives referred to us by our ward mission leader. We stopped by one of the families and the dad clearly look like he was active as well as the setting of the home - the pictures and other things they had hanging up. We asked him how church was going for him and his family and he gave us a positive response. So then we left. So first thought was, "okay - they're active! Next!" 


I then had the worst guilt trip of my life! My conscious felt like it was going loco crazy and I just felt sick to my stomach that I didn't even bother to set up a family home evening with this family. So it was quite apparent that we needed to go back. 

Well, needless to say, the Holy Ghost was whispering to me something fierce because I was determined to go back, teach,  and set up another appointment. 

We went over a few times but no answered. We went over once more and finally someone answered the door. We had a positive conversation with the mom and one of the boys about the church and we set a family home evening appointment with them so we could meet her other 5 kids and husband again. 

When we returned, we sat in the family room with the parents wondering where the rest of the family was. Sure enough right then, four very tall, sweaty and shirtless boys came walking in the door. Awkward. 

I was a little nervous at first because I was afraid that all these boys wouldn't be very receptive to the message that we had prepared for them. lack of faith on my part. We had an amazing lesson with all of them. Each brother had something to contribute to the lesson - each one bore testimony of a principle we taught about - from service to Joseph Smith to experiences with the priesthood. The spirit was so strong. 

The mom and dad were both pretty emotional throughout the lesson. The mom played volleyball for BYU Hawaii and the dad played basketball for BYU Provo and all the sons played basketball... so they were a pretty tough looking family at first - but extremely soft hearted. 

When we left the home the mom followed us out with tears streaming down her cheeks. She told us that when we stopped by her house last time she was in the middle of pleading with the Lord in prayer that something could help the contention and arguing in her home - that she would know what to do to solve the problems arising in the home and how to bring the family back together again. And it was right then that we showed up to her door. She thought at the moment that she wasn't in the place to get up and answer the door - but she felt prompted to do so. And when she opened it, there we were. 

This whole family has gone through some extreme trials in their life - they are amazing to have come so far. They all gave talks in sacrament meeting before I left. The spirit was so strong there. To see each one of those boys and the parents get up and bear testimony of what they know is true and how the gospel has changed their lives was truly amazing. They were many tears throughout the entire congregation. And the mother shared the miraculous story over the pulpit. And what's even better is that we had a few investigators there and that sacrament meeting helped them along their process of conversion so much.

This has taught me the importance of prayer as well as worthiness to be sensitive to the promptings of the spirit. 

I know that we must do all we can to remain worthy of the Holy Ghost. I know that faith and obedience is vital to our happiness.  I know this is a gospel of miracles.

I love you all.

Love, Sister Martin

Here are some pictures of 2 absolutely adorable girls we baptized last transfer. They grew up in an extremely tough home environment, but recently started going to church with their grandma - who is awesome. These two cute girls knew more about the gospel than I did when I was 12! I love them - they are just wonderful. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Change of address

There will be a change of address for the Utah St. George Mission Office. Effective July 18th, the new address will be:

Utah St George Mission
81 South River Road
St. George, UT 84790.  

No mail can be sent from the 13th till the 17th of July. 

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.  



I got transferred to WASHINGTON! A city just over a few miles... not too far :) I will still be serving in the VC, but not living in the temple apartments anymore :( I will live in my area, but that has its perks! We will be in the basement of a members home. And we are driving a brand spankin new white Jeep! You know... for all the dirt roads we will encounter! Haha not so much, it will probably be transferred to an area that is in real need of it. And my companion is Sister Pearson again! The one from New Castle, England! I was in a trio with her for awhile. I'm excited to be with her again. Her English accent is more Scottish. Reminds me of Adam's accents ;)

Oh and also! Before I forget - there will be a change of address for our Utah St. George Mission Office. Effective July 18th, our new address will be 881 South River Road, St. George, UT 84790.   No mail can be sent from the 13th till the 17th of July :( Sorry about that!! 

I hope you all had a great 4th of July!!! We went to a few ward parties in the morning in our stake (one started at 6:30 - the weather was SO nice!) and then we had an AWESOME zone meeting (I just love my zone. They're the best meetings ever), and then we went on shift at the VC. The director (Elder Watkins) got us all catered Chick fil A :) yum! It was pretty quiet the whole night there so we watched a lot of church movies. And then watched the fireworks with the beautiful temple from our apartment :) 

And we have been getting RAIN the past few days!! SO beautiful! It was thundering and just pouring down! First time it's actually been like a mid-west storm since I've gotten here! We all went out of the VC and started playing in the rain. We felt like the lady in that movie "The Windows of Heaven" ...the tithing one with Lorenzo Snow in St. George. Watch it! It's good. We were probably acting just like her when they got rain. 

So I have a pretty cool story about a woman who came in the VC not too long ago: 

Sister Watkins (Directors wife) came in the back with a woman next to her and said, "Sister Martin, this lady wants to learn more about he church. Will you help her?" Yay!! I just love hearing those words. 

This woman is from Zurich, Switzerland (so I automatically liked her since I love Switzerland). All the people from Europe come in with their hiking boots on, hats, and nice cameras - since they are always coming from the national parks. So I kind of already knew she was European! She is Christian and speaks German. I asked her if she preferred a sister giving her a tour in her native language but she insisted that English was fine. She came in very interested and prepared by the Lord. She said she had already visited Temple Square in Salt Lake City THREE times! She said was enthralled with the unity and love in the church.

I asked her what brought her here into this Visitors' Center and she said she wanted to come because she loves the felling that is in these places. I explained to her that this is what we call the Holy Ghost and told her of the importance of it. She also said that she loves learning about our beliefs and thinks that everything is very interesting. It was pretty neat because she didn't want the history of how the town came to be or any small chat - she just wanted pure doctrine. 

I gave her a tour of the temple pictures and of the Savior of the World room (pictures depicting Christ's life and a model of Jerusalem). I told her about the Book of Mormon. she asked if she could have one! And she was SO excited to read it. 

On our way to get the German Book of Mormon she mentioned that she still wanted to go inside the temple. I guess someone had told her that if she wears a badge we can taker her through. I had to break the sad news to her. I told her that because it's the Lord's house, we need to prepare ourselves to enter in. And I told her that if she prepares herself, she can one day go though the temple. 

I started to talked to her about missionaries that can visit her and help her on her way to the temple and described some steps in the process, such as baptism. She then asked me if it's a difficult process to be a member and if you had to be born and raised in the church in order to be a member. I kindly and quickly corrected her and said that we have baptisms in this church ALL the time and told her of the simplicity of the process. She was extremely excited to hear this!

She also asked me what I was going to pursue after my mission and then asked if she could stay in touch with me (she was just doing all the work for me!). Absolutely! Along with that I explained the process of me teaching her via phone call or email and sending the missionaries in Switzerland to her. I then invited her to be baptized. she kind of thought about it for a second and sweetly replied, "Yes, yes. But let me read this Book of Mormon first!" 

I will update you on this wonderful woman and her progress in the gospel :)

The Lord really is preparing people all over the world to hear His word. Even those Europeans who sometimes aren't the most receptive... so really this was a miracle! I have come to realize the importance of being worthy every minute of every day for when the Lord places one prepared on our path.

Thanks you for your continued prayers and support :) I love you.

Much love, Sister Martin

Sister Sordes (French) and me - twins!! :)

Sister Shafer (German) and be at Brigham Young's Winter Home.

Me and the kids of another one of our baptisms.