• 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.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Fun!

The picture wall over my desk. Thanks to my parents, I have lots of pictures of my ancestors and family.
Hey Y'all!

This past week has been full of Easter fun! I hope ya'lls Easter was fun and relaxing. We went to a members house and proceeded to over-stuff ourselves. They had so much good food, we couldn't just eat a little and call it good. It is funny, though, because the people here in the ward were so concerned about us going some where for Easter. I'm sure if we didn't already have a family to go to, we would have ended up going to like 5 different families for Easter.
The adorable table set for us by the family who had us over for Easter dinner.
Not only was this week physically filling, but it was also a spiritual well. We had an unbelievable about of members coming out with us to teach people. And in turn, we got some amazing member present lessons. One particularly special lesson was our amazing member Sister Atrice who came out with us to see a lesbian couple. We saw one of the adults with her daughter from another relationship. Now, a little information about the Atrice's before I continue. Their ENTIRE family is spiritually overwhelming. If we had a bad day, we go to the Atrices and hear a pep-talk from Brother Atrice about how we are the light and the we are to bring others to it who are in darkness. Sister Atrice then backs him up and it is just freaking amazing! Anyway, when we went to that lesson, the spirit was powerful. Sister Atrice was able to testify and share so much! We talked about Christ's resurrection, shared the new Easter Video, and ended with both mother and child crying. It was beautiful. We hope to see those investigators again with Sister Atrice.

We also saw S* this week with a member. It was great! We shared with him the Easter video and he is still committed to come to church next week, even though it is General Conference. We are now working on getting him to a members house that would really relate to him. He is a total MAN. Like his house is decorated where on one wall is a stack of bows and arrows, and the other is a light. :P yeah. We don't really relate to him, but are hoping to find someone who does.

Miss C* is doing okay as well. We are having a really hard time with her. She refuses to pray, and we are feeling that she doesn't have the real intent to find out if the church is true. If this were a normal situation, we would have dropped her for a while, to let her really think about everything we've taught and decide for her self if she wants to know, but this isn't a normal situation. Her son who she lives with is a recent convert, and is really pushing and wanting her to be baptized. They are also good friends with the ward mission leader who doesn't want to give up on her either. He thinks she is so close, and would be really upset if we dropped her. We are hoping and praying that Miss C* will come around eventually. Please keep her in ya'lls prayers as she goes through this. All she needs to do is pray. That's all! I can't believe it is so hard just to get an investigator to do that. But we will keep working with her.

We also had another lesson with J* that went a little awkwardly. The normally opinionated, question-asking, soul-searching, investigator was more closed off today. He had no opinion as we read with him 3 Nephi 15. At first, we were really confused with why he as so closed off. Then we connected the dots. His normally absent, very religious wife, who want's nothing to do with us was home that day. You could tell James was very different. You could see he was holding back questions and comments because he knew his wife would disapprove of him asking them. And he even declined the invitation to church that we believe he would have otherwise accepted. It was very disappointing. After, we talked with the member that we took with us to the lesson. She suggested something so perfectly obvious that I can't believe we didn't think of it. Take J* to a members house! That way he can open up and really ask us questions. Why didn't we think of that?! We have another appointment with him this week and hope to have a family lined up to have him over. Pray that all goes well!

General Women's Broadcast as absolutely amazing! I loved all the speakers and the themes that were spread across the whole meeting. Service and prayer really stuck out to me. Also, I loved something President Eyering said, that we are not alone in the work. and the quoted a scripture, a promise from the Lord that wherever we go in the service of HIim, that he will be on our right hand and our left, and His angels will be around us to lift us up. That is a beautiful thing to know, especially for me out here on the mission. I know I'm not alone, and I know that where ever any of our Heavenly Father's children go in His name, doing His will, that he WILL protect us. Not just missionaries, but all members. That is truly a great and wonderful comfort to have. As the world spins deeper and deeper into the pits of chaos. As more and more people are hurt or even killed by rebellious factions, we can be strong with the assurance of know that the Lord is there for us and will protect His children who go out and serve him. I will press forward with a knowledge and peace, knowing that my Heavenly Father is watching over me. :)

Y'alls Southern bell,

Sister Welch :D

Close up of the "bunny" napkins from the table setting above.  How cute!

Cookies that Aunty Jan and her niece and nephew brought us.

Angry Old People, and Yellow Cars

Me with Aunty Jan and her niece and nephew who live with her.
Hey Y'all!

Spring is here! We had an very warm week, and because of that everything has started to bloom! It is BEAUTIFUL here in the spring. There is this one tree that grows all over and budds white flowers all over. If you are under a row of them, it's like walking through the gates of heaven, no joke. I've never seen so much green and colors before in my life, it feels! I've also never seen so much yellow before either!
Every spring a certain popular tree releases this yellow pollen that COVERS EVERYTHING! We washed our car last week, and the next day it was covered in yellow pollen! It looked more yellow than gray! the streets get covered with the pollen too, and make everything have a yellow tint to it. I can honestly say that I have NEVER seen this before in my life, but that I LOVE IT!

This week has been crazy! We finally got out after being stuck in the apartment all week, and in return, we were able to see a lot of people. We had an amazing young sister come out with us for almost 6 hours. That was fun. We got to see Miss C* with her, who committed to read the Book of Mormon. We haven't gotten her to pray about it, but we are hoping that we will commit her maybe today when we see her again. Pray for miss C*!

The middle of the week, I'll admit, was a little rough, but it was covered in blessings too. We took our amazing member Auntie Jan out to Fayetteville with us to see our new investigator, P*. He was the old drunk guy that we met with Sister Stallings. I'll admit, P* looked kinda drunk today too, and he was a little out of it. We taught him the Restoration, and immediately after I had quoted to him Joseph Smith's first vision, he interrupted and asked some random question about the Bible. It as weird, and a little funny. But we did bring the spirit in, and committed him to read the BOM again, since he didn't read it last time.

After our visit with P*, we dropped by an old man named J*, who I had never met, but was a possible potential Sister K and her last companion had given a BOM to. He was a BAD idea......... Think of the typical Bible lovin', stubborn, argumentative southern person, then mix it with them trying to be manipulative, and you have Joe. He was trying to pit me and Sister K against each other. He would ask us a question and Auntie Jan would try to explain it, then he would say we should stop talking about it cause it wasn't important. The only important thing was Christ. That man was SO FRUSTRATING!!! Auntie Jan was a big help though, she calmed Sister K down who was really getting annoyed and helped me too cause I was really nervous. After leaving him, we went and cooled off over lunch. THANK YOU AUNTIE JAN!! A funny comment that I'd like to add, is that while J* was reciting his Bible and everything, and he shared with us a piece of information about one of the apostles which sounded incorrect to me. I didn't say anything cause it was for the most part insignificant, even though he was making a big deal out of it. I forgot about it, until I was reading Jesus the Christ and read that one detail about the apostle, discovering that I was actually right and the man was completely wrong. He hinged on that one detail for his whole argument, and I found it incredibly funny that he didn't even get that detail right! Haha!

However frustrating that appointment was, the Lord blessed us for trying our best in the situation. We got a new investigator! The Elders referred us to her, and her name is K*. We had finished an appointment early and had about 45 minutes before seeing the old woman, Miss N*. The referral was close to her, so we decided to check it out. That was a huge blessing, but had a negative repercussion. Little did we know that K* is this old woman, with a big long story and probably has the beginning stages of dementia. She welcomed us in, sat us down, and proceeded to tell us her life story and battle with cancer. She even told us how much she loved the missionaries, and that she had lots of experiences with them. This woman was so prepared! We are way excited to go and teach her. However! K* took a MUCH longer time than we had even guessed possible. We kept trying to get out, when she would pull us back and keep talking. By the time we escaped from her house it was 30 minutes past our appointment with N*. We started racing over to her house and called her on the way. N* was NOT happy. She was very upset in an very passive-aggressive way. She had only agreed to take the lessons to help us out with her teachings, and apparently she has a lot of prejudice against Mormons. Before hanging up on us she stated that "we proved to her everything she thought about Mormons." . . . . Yeah.... I honestly believe that K* was a sign that we shouldn't have been teaching N* yet. Her heart is hard towards the church, and I don't know if it will be softened any time soon.

To end the week, we had an amazing blessing. J*, our investigator, came to Church. This is my first investigator that we have had at church ever! I was so excited! He only stayed for 
Sacrament Meeting, but I counted that as a win. I was so excited to see him there. We asked him how he liked it, and he said he really enjoyed it. Especially the two youth speakers who talked about repentance and the atonement. One was an RM sister from Mexico who did an AMAZING job. We were so happy to have him there.

This past week has been really centered on repentance in our mission. For Zone Conference, we literally talked for 5 hours on just Repentance, what it means, and how we can teach it to our investigators. It was beautiful. On top of that, we watched the new Easter video form the church, #Hallelujah. It was beautiful. The whole video was testimonies of people about Christ and the resurrection and that because of Him, we can all live again with our families. This was an amazing video, and I encourage ya'll to go onto FollowHim.mormon.org to look at the website, watch the video, and share it with someone else. At this Easter time, it is so important to remember everything our Savior has done for us. In companion Study this week, Sister K read to me a scripture that really struck me. It's Matthew 28 5-6 about Christ's resurrection and the angle coming to both Mary's saying that he is risen: "And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. he is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay."

He is risen! I know that is true, with all my heart. My Lord and Savior, the redeemer of the World is alive even now, and because he is, I can live again. He broke the bands of death, did the impossible, and showed us that he is the Son of God. He suffered in the Garden and on the Cross so that He may know our pains and our anguishes. That we don't have to go through this life alone. And then he rose on the third day, and overcame the greatest obstacle the world faces. Because of Him, we can live again. Because of Him, we can see our families and loved ones again in a state of perfection and happiness. Hallelujah! What better message can we share with the world than that of love and repentance! I know that my Savior lives! I am ready to share it with the world, and I challenge ya'll to share it too!

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Plague!

Hey Y'all!

This week our mission was struck with a PLAGUE!!! Alright, it wasn't THAT bad. There has been this sickness going around the mission especially in the Flat Creek, Fayetteville, and Peechtree city areas. Almost all of the senior missionaries in the office got it, our mission president and sister Foote got it, almost everyone in my district got it, and even the AP's got it. One of them had to go to urgent care! The symptoms included a high fever and heavy coughing, along with several others symptoms. Unfortunately, Sister K was not immune to this virus and it took hold of her last week. We spent the whole week starting on Tuesday in the apartment, quarantined from the outside world. Wow, that was tough. The first day wasn't so bad. I read all of "Our Search for Happiness," which was written by M. Russell Ballard. That is a great book and I suggest everybody read it. After, I started reading "Jesus the Christ." By the end of the day my mind was so blown with deep doctrine that it had turned to mush. But that's okay! It was WAY cool!

The next day was a little worse. I watched ALL of general conference for 2005. ALL OF IT. It was very good, but after that, I had nothing to do. The third day I made cookies and proceeded to be INCREDIBLY bored, re-watching some general conference. The bright side to that day was that Sister K, and one of our senior missionaries who was returning our car after getting a sensor called a Tiwi put in.  She tried my cookies and said they were the best they had ever had. Hahaha! I didn't think they were my best, but they were yummy.  Sister K then demanded that I make them for the next District meeting, when I told the District leaders that, they said they were holding me to that promise. Hahahaha! I guess I'm making cookies next week! :D

An attempted selfie with Sister K hiding under her blanket
and Sister Halford in the back
Day four was quite a bit better. Sister K was still very sick, but our Sister Training Leaders Sister Halford and Sister Makgopa (ma-ho-pa) went on exchanges with me. Sister Halford and I went out into my area while sister Makgopa stayed with Sister K. That was an AMAZING DAY! We were able to contact a less active that we have literally been trying to contact for the past transfer. I had never met her before, and it was a complete surprise to us when she answered the door. We talked with her for a good while, then invited her to practice the 5 PMG discussions with us and she accepted. I am excited to see her again.
We also saw S* for the first time in a while. At first, he was a little closed off to us, but after a while he opened up more. We found out that at some point a pair of Elders gave him a Book of Mormon. S* has a problem with the Book of Mormon because he was raised to believe that the Bible is the only word of God. Sister Halford and I explained to him that we use both the Bible AND the Book of Mormon. They testify and uplift each other. We also testified and asked if we could come back and explain to him more about the the two books supporting each other. He said no, very politely. That was a disappointment, but we didn't stop there. As we talked to him, we found out he was considering coming to church on the 21st. It was funny because at the beginning he said he was 68% likely to come, maybe. And by the end of our discussion, he was a solid 72% percent likely to come. WE HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE, S*! :D We also found out that he had been reading the Book of Mormon and was finished with the first three chapters. This surprised both of us since he had just said he was unsure about the book. We left S* with a commitment to keep reading and praying, and to also come to church.

Day 5, Sister K really wanted to get out and work, but her body was still very week form being so sick. We managed to go out for an hour to pick up some things we needed and were then told to stay home from the mission nurse. We did make lots of phone calls, though and were able to get a hold of M*. However, the contact was not very good. She sounded annoyed that we had called, said she was busy and would call us back later, then never called us back. We are worried about her as an investigator, but hope that she will come around. Pray for her and her family.

J* was not at church on Sunday. That was very disappointing. He also wasn't there when we sent the Elders with Sister Fincher to the appointment we had set up on Wednesday. We hope to get in contact with him this week. Our goal is to get him to accept and be on date for baptism. J* is really prepared for the gospel, if only he would come to church and listen. Sister Fincher was a big help, before the appointment, she had printed up a big list of links to LDS websites and talks about the Church, knowing that James was looking into the church more online. She had a big list of information and resources he could look at that were church approved. She left them at his door, and waited a few minutes after the appointment time to see if she could catch him. What a blessing it is to have her with us doing the work!

Although this week has been less productive than we had hoped, I am still grateful for it. On Tuesday when Sister K was sick with a Fever, we asked our Ward Mission Leader Brother Worthington to come give her a blessing. We aren't allowed to get blessings from the Elders. That was a very sweet, and very spiritual experience. As I listened to the blessing he gave, I noticed how close to the spirit he was, he even got choked up towards the end. I am so very grateful to have members of our ward who honor and uphold their priesthood authority the way Brother Worthington does. I knew, without a doubt in my head that he was the mouthpiece of our Heavenly Father, giving sister K a blessing to heal her. That simple fact was impressed upon me again that night. It also made me realize again, the importance for families to have worthy, priesthood holders heading the house. I know, as I always have, that I wan't to marry a man who is a worthy priesthood holder. Who is a faithful, who respects and honors his priesthood and loves his religion more than anything. I am so grateful to have grown up with that standard, and I want only that for my family as well. I have seen less active's here, who went less active because they chose to marry a person who wasn't a member or who was very less active and not strong in the gospel. It is hard on them, especially as we help activate them. I hope that never happens to me, and I am grateful that it didn't happen to my parents.

I know this church is true. I know that the light of Christ is in all of us, and all we need to do to spread it is to share it with others. That is why I am out here, to bring that light into people's eyes. I hope that we can all remember this very important task as we go out into the world. 

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Pictures from last weeks district meeting.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Lost and Found

Me with the new "allergy free" blanket mom sent.

Hey Y'all

This week started off pretty chilly! But each day got a little better and sunnier. :) Transfers are this week, and I am happy to say that me and Sister K will remain companions in the Flat Creek Ward! I am so thankful, especially because I have so many people to teach and investigators to bring the gospel to. I can't leave now!

This past week was a little crazy. However, we did have a few great lessons with members present. The first is kind of a funny story, well, actually both are kinda funny.  We went with our awesome member Sister Fincher, to go see S*, who wasn't home. After that small disappointment, we decided to go see an old investigator that we had given to the Elders. His name is J*. They had not had much success with him, which was weird because before we gave him to them, we had lots of success. We dropped by, and he welcomed us in gladly.  As we talked to him, we came to find out that he had attended church the Sunday before! NONE of us saw him at church, except maybe me. I remember seeing a man that fit his description at the other end of the chapel walking out. However, as of that Sunday, I had not really met J* and therefore didn't know what he looked liked. I thought for a moment that it might be a member that we don't see often and shrugged it off. Oops!

After finding out that J* was at church, we committed him to come in two weeks. We wanted him to come this week, but we had Stake Conference and he wanted to see our normal services. That is completely understandable, but we still wish he could have come. J* also shared with us an experience he had had with an answer to his prayers. After a crazy Sunday experience, where he showed up at our church 30 min late, and went to a disappointing Baptist sermon, J* was thinking that he needed a sign to know what was true. The day we came, he told God that he wanted his sign to come at his door in threes, knocking first. Right after he had said that, we came up to his door, two missionaries and a member, and knocked first. How crazy is that?! We had an amazing discussion afterwards, and we left him with the commitment to read the Book of Mormon.

Our next member present was interesting. We asked our awesome member Sister Stallings to come with us to go delilver a Bible to a woman named P*. We had set up the appointment earlier, and we were hoping to share with her the Book of Mormon as well. We met at P*'s driveway, and as we were about to go to P*'s door, a man came out of a little barn in front of us and told us she wasn't home. He looked in his 60's. We then turned our attention to him, and found out that his name was P*, and that he was the father of P*. He let us in to his little barn and started talking to us. The place smelled of smoke and beer. P* was even drinking as we talked to him. Just as a note, it was 11 in the morning... He was a very nice man, though, and very funny. Although part of me wonders how much of that was the alcohol. We did have an amazing first discussion with him. We gave him a brief view of the restoration, and a Book of Mormon which he promised to read the Intro. Sister Stalling's bore a sweet testimony which was amazing. At the end, we asked for a prayer and P* offered it. We all bowed our heads and waited. . . and waited. . . and waited. . . We looked up. P* had his head bowed and eyes closed. He said nothing. We had no idea what to do. After several long, awkward moments, P* lifted his head and smiled. That was the most interesting prayer I have ever had!

As we left, Sister Stallings gushed with excitement. This was her first time doing missionary work and she was so happy. I could tell that her testimony was strengthened because of P* and our lesson with him. To put the icing on the cake, as I was backing sister K out, P* came out of his barn, holding up the Book of Mormon, and said: "See ya'll! I'm already readin' it!" We hope to see P* and his family again.

Our other members are doing great. C* (older woman suffering with lymphoma) is fantastic, and although she hasn't prayed to know if this church is true, we think she knows. All that is left is getting her to be more at ease about leaving her church that she has attended most of her life. We hope to keep working on her.

M* (mother of 5) has been interesting... We drove by her house this past week only to find a big UHAL Truck parked outside. We knocked on her door to see what was going on, but nobody answered. We are really hoping that she hasn't moved! She has been our top investigator, and we don't want to lose her!

The rest of our week was pretty fun. We had stake conference, which was amazing. Sister K and I got a ride up to the stake building from the senior missionaries that live in our complex, the Jeffery's. It was lovely, and we had a fantastic time. The Jeffery's dropped us off at our apartment after, and just as we had gotten to the door, Sister K looks at me and says: "I think I left my quad at the church." I didn't realize the magnitude of this comment, until she told me that our apartment key, car key, and cell phone were all in her scripture bag. . . HAHAHA! We burst out laughing, realizing that we were practically stranded out here! We spent half an hour thinking of members near-by who would give us a ride. Finally, Sister K was like "Why don't we just ask our really nice neighbor?!" So we did! She is a non-member, but super nice to us and she willingly gave us a ride. Although the ride was awkward, she really is very skeptical of the church and she is a scary driver. . . But we are so grateful for her willingness to serve us. The people here in Georgia, no matter who they are, are so nice and willing to help others out.

It's been a great week, where I have seen the Lord in my life, and the lives of my investigators. I now that He answers prayers. He has answered all of mine. One thing that really stuck out to me at stake conference was something that President Foote said to us. He told us that we all come to this Earth with a "greenie fire" just as new missionaries enter the field, but that we need to keep it burning. We come with a greenie fire, and return with a "forest fire!" I hope that we all press forward, not just missionaries, but members as well. We all come to this earth, ready for the challenges and trials that await us. With excitement and energy. Let us not lose that fire, that light. keep it going, nurture it, and let it turn into a "forest fire." I love ya'll, and pray that ya'll have a blessed week!

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

My hand :) and one of our member's dog's, Annie, that we watched while they were on vacation. She is so funny! She think's she is a lap dog, but she is a fat golden retriever! haha! :D

I LOVE my new blanket!