• I am serving in the Georgia Atlanta Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from January 26, 2016 to August 1, 2017. This blog contains weekly letters and pictures about my experience.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I Belong to the Church!

Hey Y'all!

"I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

Some big news this transfer! :D My dear sweet companion Sister Davies will be transferred to another area and we are no longer STL's. I will miss her dearly, but she has lives to touch in another area and I'm sure my next companion will add greatly to the work here. :) It's going to be strange not being an STL since that is all I have known since I've been back, but I'm also a little excited to just be a normal missionary.

"I know who I am.
I know God's plan.
I'll follow him in faith."

So we had a pretty amazing week. :) Jessica came to church! Yes, this is the Jessica with 5 children all 6 and under. She and her kids got picked up by a member and they went to all 3 hours. It was perhaps the craziest church service of my life! We were helping her with her wild kids, and so were several members. The oldest child, Christian, was super good. He LOVED every second of church! We were told after church that he even offered to say the closing prayer in his primary class! This was especially amazing because he didn't even know what a prayer was a week ago! Even though it was crazy, Jessica was so happy and excited. At the end she kept saying that she would come back every single week! :)

"I believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ.
I'll honor his name."

We have another investigator on date! :D Her name is Harriet Starks. The sisters had met her in December after she asked for a Book of Mormon. Shortly after that they got her on date for February. She was drinking it all in! But then her mother got really sick with cancer, requiring her to come and help her for a few months. On top of that she herself ended up in the hospital for a short time because she had some terrible kidney stones! Finally, after all that, we had a lesson with her last week where she told us that she wanted to get baptized, just tell her the date! :D She has been reading her Book of Mormon everyday and is just so ready! She came to church yesterday and loved it! I know that Harriett is ready and I can't wait to see her get baptized. :D

"I'll do what is right;
I'll follow his light."

One more cool thing that happened actually worked in a sequence. At the beginning of last week we met a woman heading up the stairs in our apartment building. We talked to her a little and discovered that she was the daughter of a woman who lives her and that the daughters father had just died. We expressed our condolences and then offered to come and teach the family more about heavenly fathers plan for us. She said maybe some time and we continued on with our day. several days later we met the sister of the woman who's husband died! And we did the same thing with the same response. All this happened and we never met the woman, Vigivie, herself. Then yesterday, we saw a woman walking a big load of trash to the dumpster. We stopped by and took it for her. On our way back she thanked us and introduced herself as Vigivie! Yes, the woman we were wanting to see! :D We sat down and talked to her for a while. Then we gave her a Book of Mormon and Plan of Salvation pamphlet, then set an appointment for this Sunday to come and teach her more. This was so cool, but the coolest part was that we only went home because we were waiting for a member to text us back and let us know if we could come over. As soon as we were done with Vigivie, we got a text from that member saying we could come. This was a real show and testimony to me that God cares about ALL of his children and will make time for EVERY one of them to hear the gospel. :)

"His truth I will proclaim."

A lot has happened this week. And it has been quite crazy. :) But I'm glad to be out here. I'm glad to be serving in Dunwoody and North Point YSA now, and I'm glad that I have so many amazing investigators to work with. Ones that are honest seekers of truth and that want to progress in the gospel. Being a missionary has taught me a lot, but most of all, it has taught me to trust in God. It has taught me that He is working in the details to give us every opportunity to hear his word. But it has also taught me that God can't do it without me. Without every one of his children there to be his instruments and to teach others the way. For the path is straight and the gate narrow. I know that this Gospel is true. I know that this church is the one that was called of God to be re-established upon the earth. And I know that I am a representative of Christ himself. There is a lot of power in that statement alone. It makes me grateful to be a missionary, even after all the trials I have been through to get me here. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Monday, April 24, 2017

Onward, Christian soldiers

Hey y'all!

Onward, Christian soldiers!
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before.
Christ, the royal Master,
Leads against the foe;
Forward into battle,
See his banners go!

This week has flown by! I can't believe it's already Monday again! :D There was lots done and we had tons of fun, as we always do on the mission. :) First off, I wanted to update y'all on Eddie. He fasted for 24 hours! He still hasn't received a full answer yet, but boy is he trying! Please keep Eddie in your prayers. He is really wanted to know if the church is true. :)
In other big news, if y'all remember I have been serving in three wards, and attending three wards for church. THAT'S A LOT. -.- So finally our mission president made the decision to take us out of Sandy Springs Ward. It's sad to say goodbye to these lovely people, but it's also a relief to only have to worry about Dunwoody and the YSA ward. :)

At the sign of triumph
Satan's host doth flee;
On, then, Christian soldiers,
On to victory.
Hell's foundations quiver
At the shout of praise;
Brothers, lift your voices,
Loud your anthems raise.

So we've had quite a few good experiences this week, but I'll only share a couple. :) We met a new investigator who is on date! :D Her name is Vicki, and he had gone online and ordered what we thought was a Book of Mormon. Come to find out, she actually ordered a Bible but the missionary at headquarters miss-heard her. Good thing for that too! Because of that, we were able to share with her the Book of Mormon. She is a very spiritual person, and readily accepted that there could be another book of scripture. What is even cooler though, is her story. This woman is such a trooper and a soldier. She has stayed true to the faith she has, even through all the trials she went through, both physical, financial, and emotional. And then the Lord put missionaries in her path 20 years ago! :D She told us she felt the spirit from the Book of Mormon when she read and studied with the missionaries, but for some reason, they didn't say much about Joseph Smith or tell her that Christ came to the Americas. Over time, the missionaries eventually dropped her, and now, 20 years later we are back! And she understands so much! She still has a lot of hurdles to climb over. She believes she has been saved, but understands a little more about authority and the apostasy. She also smokes, so this will be a bumpy road for her, but I know she can make it. Keep Vicki in your prayers! :D

Like a mighty army
Moves the Church of God;
Brothers, we are treading
Where the Saints have trod.
We are not divided;
All one body we:
One in hope and doctrine,
One in charity.

Another short miracle came when we were in Atlanta. We were suppose to go table at Georgia Tech, but things weren't working out with the procedures we had to follow and the Elders coming. Somehow we ended up at a park a little farther down, waiting to hear from the elders if we could go tabling. There, we met a man named Jake who was waking the softest pug I have ever felt! He was super nice, and as we shared our message, he was interested. He took a book of Mormon and told us to call him next week to see if we could meet with him. :) It was a pretty cool little tender mercy!

Onward, then, ye people;
Join our happy throng.
Blend with ours your voices
In the triumph song:
Glory, laud, and honor
Unto Christ, the King.
This through countless ages
Men and angels sing.

My last miracle was over getting one of our new investigators Jessica and her 5 children 6 and under to church! You see, she doesn't have a car. . . Or car seats. . . and to put the cherry on top, she doesn't know how to use MARTA. We spent two hours on Saturday after our first meeting with her trying to find some form of transportation. We said a prayer, asking pretty much for a miracle. I mean, 5 car seats and a car big enough for her and her children?! The Lord heard our prayers, though. :) And he made it possible for a member and her daughter to take the whole family, and had 5 car seats because the daughter's kids were staying with their dad that weekend. It was truly amazing how the Lord provided for this warrior mom and her army of 5 small children! Unfortunately, Jessica had to cancel the next morning as her mother recently was taken to the hospital. But the miracle was still there, and I am grateful that God heard and answered us. :)

Onward, Christian soldiers!
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before.

This week has truly been amazing. :) And I have loved every moment. As I reflect on this past week as even my time as a missionary this song comes to mind. Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war. Which Jesus Christ going on before us. We are his army, as missionaries we fight many times on the front lines. But as members we are thrown into battle at any time. Whether it be a battle of moral, of doctrine, of belief in god, of families. It does not matter. We must continue on strong in the faith. We must fight. But sometimes that can be hard. For me, it's been hard to continue fighting, through the toughest of trials. But one scripture comes to mind when I am about ready to give up and I feel I cannot do it alone.
Deuteronomy 31:6  "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."
The part I want to point out is the last line. "he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." The Lord will NEVER leave us. Throughout my mission I have found over and over again that I am being helped with the hosts of heaven. The name "Jesus Christ" that is written on my name tag is not only a sign to others that I represent Him, but that He is with me. That he is helping me. That I can do anything, and as long as I trust in him, he will never forsake me. He will never let me down. That is an amazing promise as a soldier, that when I wear the armor of God and fight, Christ is right next to me, fighting and helping. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Not a lot of pictures this week.  This just seemed like a very farmer house. That dog is real, by the way. Haha! :D

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee!

Hey Y'all!

With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far thy face to see
And in thy presence rest."

We've had a pretty special week. :) To start it off, we had zone conference on Wednesday. We got to go to the temple, and I had the opportunity with my companion to do initiatory's and an endowment. This is the first time I've done initiatory's since my own, and it brought a lot of wonderful memories back from when I went through my endowment over a year ago. I love going to the temple before our meeting, I feel as though it brings a peace and spirit to the whole meeting that would have otherwise not been there. I'm so grateful to have a temple in my mission and so close to me! I see it just about ever day now, and I love it. :)

"Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
Nor can the mem'ry find
A sweeter sound than thy blest name,
O Savior of mankind!"

Another amazing miracle happened when we went to see an old investigator named Cindy. The Sandy Springs Elders gave her to us because they were having a hard time setting up appointments with team-ups at the times she could meet. We got her and taught her part of the restoration, but then left and didn't get back to her for a few weeks. We set up an appointment for Thursday last week and had an AMAZING lesson. :D I could see Cindy really soaking everything in when we taught the restoration completely. She still seemed a little skeptical, but she recognized one thing, and even told us, that she needed to read the Book of Mormon to find out if any of this is true. When we asked her what she will do with her answer she told us then she would make changes. At the end we invited her to be baptized if she came to know it's true, and she accepted! :D Pray for Cindy please, as she begins this journey to find out the truth for herself!

"O hope of ev'ry contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind thou art!
How good to those who seek!"

That same day we had another really cool experience. We were walking away from an appointment that fell through at an apartment complex when we ran into a Muslim woman with her young son. We asked if we could say a prayer with her. She then lead us into her house where her high-school aged son was able to help translate better for us. We said a prayer, and then the older son talked about his brother who was interested in reading religious texts and finding out what is true. At that instant we knew why we were there. We told him about the book of Mormon and he said he'd ask his brother if he would be interested. At the end we asked if we could do any service and they both perked up and asked us if we could walk with the mother and young son every-so-often to keep them company. It was super sweet to see how even though these people weren't interested themselves it lead to another missionary opportunity as well as a service opportunity. :)

Finally, I know y'all have been waiting to hear about Eddie. ;) Well, Eddie is still struggling. But he is moving forward and in my eyes is making great strides. Last night he said he was sick of not knowing if the church was true or not. It was then that we invited him to fast and pray to know. this invitation has been coming up in our minds for him for a while now, but we haven't felt like it was the right time until last night. And guess what! He accepted! He said he wanted to fast as soon as possible. Today he is fasting for his answer. I ask that everyone pray for Eddie as he searches to know if the church is true. He can use all the prayers he can get! :D

"Jesus, our only joy be thou,
As thou our prize wilt be;
Jesus, be thou our glory now,
And thru eternity."

One scripture that came up today that I felt impressed to share as I've reflected on this week is form D&C. It simply says:
"Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not."
This scripture, although very short and simple is filled to the brim with power. This is the Lord speaking. He is telling us that if we look to Him we will not doubt, nor will we fear. If we keep our eyes on the Savior and our Heavenly Father we cannot falter. However, if we do take our eyes off them for even a moment, doubt and fear will begin to creep into our hearts. This reminds me of the time when Jesus walked on water and peter came out to meet him. Peter had such a strong faith, looking at the Savior and keeping his eyes focused on Him. But then Peter looked away and, with fear creeping in, he began to sink. As he cried out to our savior Christ caught him, then said "wherefore did though doubt?" This question made me think hard about myself and look back at my life. When have I doubted in the savior? When did I begin to look away Christ and God? Of course we are all not perfect, and we at times will be like Peter, and look at the storm coming. That is only human. But the real test is will we look back at Christ? Or will we continue to let our faith be shaken? I testify that the reward for our faithfulness and eye single to Christ and God is greater than any trial we will go through. Any hardship we may suffer. Any pain we may feel from life. Our Heavenly Father promises us Joy beyond our comprehension. So in the midst of trials, let us make a special effort to look to our savior and live. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Guess what we did! :D The Georgia Aquarium!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was one of the penguins hatch day. :D

Yes, that big figure is a whale shark.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Come Unto Him

Hey Y'all! :D

"I wander through the still of night,
When solitude is ev'rywhere--
Alone, beneath the starry light,
And yet I know that God is there."

Atlanta temple grounds in bloom
We have had a pretty crazy week! First off, I'll share with you about Eddie. On Monday last week the Lord gave him a trial that I think probably took him to his knees. On Wednesday he texted us and said that a lot of things had happened and because of this sudden debt he would have to start working more. This meant he wouldn't be able to come to church or meet with us as often as he could have. We were very sad. We told Eddie that if he trusted in the Lord and went to church this Sunday that He would send blessings down and help him. At that time he said no to our invitation, however, he still wanted to meet with us. He said that "there was something to" the lessons that he couldn't pin-point (the spirit testifying of course!). After a couple days of texting, we helped him recognize the feelings he was getting when he came to church and met with us was from the spirit and that this was true. We set up a time to meet with him at the church and give him a picture book version of the Book of Mormon to help his studies. There, we asked him what he thought of everything. It took him a second, but after a little he told us that "he wanted to go closer to there." "there" was the temple which he pointed at. :D He knew he wanted it, and even though he still had questions and doubts, the spirit was testifying to him that this church was true! We committed him to come to church and this time he accepted. He went to 2 hours before he had to go to work. This was a huge sacrifice because he only got 3 hours of sleep so he could attend. While there, one of his questions about the Holy Ghost and it's role in the Godhead was answered with powerful testimonies in sacrament meeting and an amazing lesson in Sunday school. It's amazing to see what the Lord did when Eddie just took a step of faith and attended church. :)

"I kneel upon the grass and pray;
An answer comes without a voice.
It takes my burden all away
And makes my aching heart rejoice"

Wednesday proved for a pretty miracle-filled day. We were in an apartment complex trying to contact former investigators and knock around them when we came across a distraught woman. She had her door open and she was talking to a worker in Portuguese. The man left pretty soon and we decided to come up and ask her what was wrong and if we could offer a prayer. She looked at us gratefully and told us all about how her and her two children had moved form Brazil just a month ago, and that in that month they have had so many problems with their apartment. The current problem was that it was infested with rats! She went on for a little and then asked us to pray for her. We did, and then shared with her a scripture from the Book of Mormon. She ended up being interested! :D We gave her one and got her number. She told us she would be interested in us coming by after her and her kids moved out of their apartment. It was really cool to see how the Lord used us as instruments to brighten her day.

"When I am filled with strong desire
And ask a boon of him, I see
No miracle of living fire,
But what I ask flows into me.
And when the tempest rages high
I feel no arm around me thrust,
But ev'ry storm goes rolling by
When I repose in him my trust."

On Friday we went to Mission Leadership Council for all the Sister Training Leaders and Zone Leaders in the mission. There, we talked a lot about how we could better push forward with the work. One thing that was brought up quite frequently was finding and how we can always be finding in every situation. Finding between appointments was specifically mentioned. So, trying to be obedient missionaries, Sister Davies and I did exactly that when our appointment after the meeting fell through. We knew we were in the apartment complex for a reason, and the Lord truly showed us!
After the appointment didn't answer her door, we turned to the building across the street and knocked the first floor. Nothing. Then we knocked the second and last floor. And it wasn't until we got to the last door that we met our new investigator and the reason we were in that complex. His name is Terry. When we told him who we were and shared with him some of our message he said he wanted to learn more and to know if it was true. We taught him a little about the Book of Mormon, and had him read Moroni 10:3-5. We then asked him if he wanted to know if the book was true and if God had again called a prophet. He said yes! :D We then set up an appointment with him for this next Sunday. :D

"It matters not what may befall,
What threat'ning hand hangs over me;
He is my rampart through it all,
My refuge from mine enemy.
Come unto him all ye depressed,
Ye erring souls whose eyes are dim,
Ye weary ones who long for rest.
Come unto him! Come unto him!"

This week truly has been miracle filled. But one thing I noticed was that it was only filled with miracles when we made the active decision to trust in the Lord and act on that trust. This has been brought up a lot, especially since I have returned from my mission. The Lord can do nothing until we trust him, and if I have learned anything in the past 14 months, it's just that. We need to trust in him. Every time I share my story of coming home and going back out people look at me and are like "wow! you are so strong!" "you are so brave!" "I could never have done that." And I mean yeah, what I had to go through in the past few months and what I'm still going through is rough. But by no means does that mean I am this big strong person for going through this trial. It only means that is how the Lord taught me to trust in Him. Each of us learns in different ways to Trust in the Lord. For me, that included me going home, then accepting the call again to return. But that was a specific trial for me. Every one of us has our own unique stories. Or own ways of learning to trust in God that no one else could have done. Perhaps they aren't as dramatic, but they are just as important. There is a scripture I came across in 2Nephi that I love it says:
"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation."
Christ truly is my strength and salvation. He has been the reason I have been able to bare all the trails that have come upon me. He has helped me learn to trust in God. And although I am still far from perfect, I am grateful everyday for the trials that have come upon me. I love Christ, I love my Heavenly Father. And most of all, I love who I have become when I trusted in them. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Look at this amazing sunset we saw at the temple!

Pictures from Leadership Council meeting.