• 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, April 25, 2016

Over the Top!

Hey Y'all!

Transfers are THIS WEEK, but I have good news! I'm staying here in Flatcreek with my amazing trainer Sister Kanongata'a. :D This will be her last transfer in the mission field, so I will have the honor of sending her home. We also have been given the unexpected responsibility of being Sister Training Leaders at the start of this new transfer. As STL's we are in charge of training and serving all of the sister missionaries in our zone. We go on exchanges with them and help them in any way that we can. I honestly have no idea why they trust me to do this after only 3 months out here, but I will do my best! I feel this will be more of a learning opportunity for me, than for the other sister missionaries, haha! Wish us luck!

This past week has been so over-the-top! To start off, we helped some amazing people in our ward move out. Well... I guess we didn't really help. They asked for us and the biking Elder missionaries to come help, but had a moving company move everything out! We arrived first before the elders, and all we did was load literally the remainder of their food and cleaning supplies from their pantry, fridge, and freezer, into our car. We now have so much food and supplies that we can barely fit it all in our kitchen! AHH!!! Everyone told me I would hardly have any food on my mission, that is a TOTAL LIE here in Flatcreek!

We did have an amazing amount of miracles here to balance the amazing amount of food we got. The first person is an investigator named H* and her little daughter T*. H* was an investigator from before I got out here in the field, but she is so hard to see because she works a LOT. However, we had the fortune for seeing her three times this last week. Our first meeting with her was amazing, and we were able to set up a return appointment the next day with a member. That next visit was golden! We taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then invited her to baptism, in which she accepted! :D She also accepted the commitment to come to church and read the Book of Mormon with her daughter. When we saw her next, we testified of the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy and she re-committed to reading the book of Mormon. Unfortunately, Heather is in a difficult position at home. She is a single mother living with her sister and her family. The sister's family is very anti-Mormon and do not like us very much. When they found out that Heather was coming to church on Sunday, they popped it on her last minute that her cousin was being baptized in their church and that she should come to that. Unfortunately, H* couldn't come to church yesterday because of that very reason. It is gong to be hard teaching H* and T* in this situation, but pray for her anyway! She is so ready and willing to accept the gospel, her only hold-back is her family!

Another amazing miracle that happened came from a referral that we got from the District Leaders. They referred us to this older widow named C*. We went to see her on Wednesday, and had a great lesson.  At first, she was very suspicious of us, but after a short while she opened up. We testified the importance of eternal families and we shared with her about our families. She has two sons who have gone a little wayward, one hasn't spoken to or seen her in three years. The other sees her all of the time, but does drugs and she is very worried about him. The spirit was so strong as we all testified, I shared the story of the prodigal son as well. By the end of the lesson, she had invited us into her house, taken a Book of Mormon with promises to read it, and set up a return appointment for us to wash her car and share our message of the restoration. YAY! :D However, the funniest part of the lesson was when she discovered that I'm 19. Se kept staring at me, then shaking her head, then staring at me, and then saying that I look more like I'm 12 or 13. Hahahaha! Short people problems. :P 

To put this week over the top, we had the very special opportunity to attend the temple with one of Sister K's recent converts. It was his first time entering the temple, and we did baptism's for the dead. The spirit was felt so strongly there, and to see the look on this recent convert's face was amazing. He is not a man of many words, but you could tell that he really felt the spirit in the temple and wanted to return. This was an amazing step to see! I have yet to baptize a convert, but I'm glad to have seen the progression of the ones here in Flatcreek and Peechtree City! It's beautiful!

This week has been absolutely amazing and spiritually up lifting. As I leave Ya'll I wan't to share with Ya'll my testimony of missionary work. This past week I have seen what missionary work can do for the lives of those who'm we teach. You can seriously see the light come into their eyes as they accept the gospel more and more, but you can also see that same light leave when they reject this amazing message. However discouraging or disappointing life may be right now. No matter how many doors I get slammed in my face, or how many people who reject me, I am gonna keep moving. Why? Because this is the TRUE and EVERLASTING gospel. We have a special message of God's love for us that all of us have been charged to spread in these great and last days. Missionary work is hard, long, and sometimes discouraging, but the rewards that come from it are countless to both us and the people who's lives we change. I hope to continue seeing that as I experience more and more of my mission.

Y'alls Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Monday, April 18, 2016

Just Keep Swimming... Swim, Swim, Swim!

In her private letter to me this week Becca shared that Sister K's nickname for her is Dory.  I couldn't agree more.
Hey Y'all!

This week has been a little different. To start off, I had the most amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get my patriarchal blessing out here in the mission field.  What a wonderful opportunity it was! The most amazing part was how much it lifted me up for that day. It boosted my testimony more than I could have imagined, and it also let me know that there are people here who need to hear MY message to them. I can't wait to get my blessing in the mail and read again all of the wonderful blessings the Lord has in store for me.

The other slightly different event in my week was oral surgery. For all ya'll who don't know, I have been having some problems from having my wisdom tooth removed before coming out here in the mission field. (Yes, I said tooth. I only had one.) To put a long story short, it all ended up in me having my third surgery this weekend. Now, you may think that sounds horrible, but the Lord blessed me in so many ways! First off was with the member that took me to the surgery and took care of me all day. She was AMAZING! The members here in Flatcreek are one-of-a-kind. I am so blessed to have been out here. She made sure I was comfortable and really took care of me as if I were her daughter. The other blessings came from the love extended from our ward members. They were so kind and ready to help. 

Even though I was out for two days, we still got a lot done. The Lord knows what is going to happen, and he has a plan for us. Everything comes in HIS timing. 

Unfortunately, we didn't see many of our investigators this week. However, things worked out how the Lord had planned. Instead of spending a lot of time with investigators, we were able to see our members. A few of them have had some rough trials lately. One of our beloved members, who we call Momma C, was in the hospital and got home this past week. She had a serious infection and had to go into surgery for it! She is on the road to recovery now, and we were able to see her with a member. What a hard trial to go through!

Another member we saw is a recent convert of about 5 years. This poor woman is the single mother of a child who seems to think she is an adult when in all reality is really is acting like she is 5. This woman works hard to earn enough money for her and her child. Unfortunately, an incident happened this last week while the mother was at a church activity. The child had the police called on her, which resulted in her being taken away from her mother. This was a very trying time for them, and still is. One of our amazing members took the child in, and she will remain there for the month until she can hopefully return to her mother. We came over and visited with the mother a few times this week. She told us her story, and we did our best to uplift her. Please keep her and her daughter in your prayers, along with Momma C. Our members are so amazing, going through all these challenges and staying active in the church. 

To end this letter, I would love to share a scripture I came across in my studies the other day. It's in D&C 6: 34-36 "Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you. Look not me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." I know that as long as we rely on our savior and build our foundations up on His rock, that nothing will move us. Earth and Hell may combine against us, we may feel in the deepest darkest cave, or the world may come crashing down around us. But the Lord knows how we feel. He assures us that as long as we rely on Him, do His work, and He will lift us up. Look to him in all that you do. Have faith in Him, because he is perfect. He WILL NOT let us fall. Don't be afraid, especially in times that the adversary is crushing against you. He has no power over a faithful servant of the lord. I promise that WHATEVER challenge we may face in life, the gospel is the answer, the key to happiness. I have seen it in my life, and I see it continually in the members of the Flatcreek ward as they go through their trails.

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tracting, Singing, and Miracles

Hey Y'all!

This past week has been absolutely crazy! To start off, Tuesday was zone training and interviews with President and Sister Foote. That was so spiritually uplifting! We started the training off with testimonies of our favorite talks in conference. The spirit was so strong in the room by the time the whole zone finished. We were all so prepared for the training that we received. In the interview, I told president that I didn't want to leave my companion next transfer, apparently she said the same thing. Haha! He told me, however, that he couldn't make any promises, but that he doesn't like to move missionaries when the work is going well. Transfers are in three weeks! Cross your fingers!

We really didn't get to see Miss C*, J*, or S* this past week. They were all gone, or didn't answer their phones, but the Lord blessed us in other ways. We had lots of lessons with members. And we even had an opportunity to go tracting. We almost never get to anymore, so it was really nice. :D One of our usual old less-active couples that we meet kind of dropped out on us for a meeting with them, so we had some time to spend between them and our next appointment. So what did we do? We knocked on doors! :D And what a miracle that was! We met THREE people who prayed with us. The first was a young single adult named J*e. He is catholic, but accepted missionaries over to take some discussions. We referred him over to the YSA missionaries. The next was J*l. WOW! J*l is probably in his 30's if I had to guess. He had an adorable daughter that came to the door with him. We introduced ourselves, prayed with him, and talked about the Book of Mormon. He was very interested, and after a little while, he asked "So how do you know that Joseph Smith really saw God and Jesus Christ?" SCORE! :D That lead perfectly into a short Resto lesson and a powerful testimony from us about Moroni's promise! He was really interested, took a BOM, and said that he may not get to it for a month or so, but that when he does, he is going to really study it and pray about it. WHAT. A. MIRACLE!!!! Who said tracting wasn't cool?! ;D

The last miracle person, or i guess people, who prayed with us was the White family. They are a cute African American family. The dad opened the door and was super interested. His son came out and was so cute! We prayed with them, shared a short resto lesson, and talked about the Book of Mormon. He was so interested! He wanted to learn more, but his family was going out to dinner just then, so we set up a return appointment for this week to come back and start teaching them the discussions! Woooh! :D

To top off the end of the week, on Sunday we had our first "Why I believe" fireside. We had invited several investigators to come, but none did. This fireside featured three converts who shared their conversion stories. It was such a good pep-talk for the missionaries! Along with the talks, there were also a few musical numbers. One of which literally half of my district performed. A member of each companionship in our distinct came up and sang, then the zone leader played the piano for them. We had practiced all week! I didn't sing in it, but it was so much fun to watch them practice. The rest of us just sat in the pews during practice and got to know each other. Everyone was nervous about the song, even though it sounded great. But when they got up there, they sounded amazing! :D What a blessing it is to have such a gifted district!

This week has been filled with miracles and blessings! I am so grateful to be out here, serving the Lord. I know that my service will change SOMEONE'S life, even if it is just my own. Like it says in D&C 4: "If ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work." I promise that is true. Whether we are serving full-time missions, or at home being missionaries, we are all called to the work if we have a desire. I promise that this field is white, ready to harvest! All we need to do is get out there and harvest it. the Lord will guide the way, and bring those to us that are ready and willing to hear of His gospel. What a blessing it is that we have been given the privilege to bring them this glorious message!

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Monday, April 4, 2016

Exchanges, Conference, and a Penny War

Saw this cute sign while on exchanges this week.  

Hey Y'all!

This week has been crazy! We started off with an adorable miracle that happened as we went to the house of little Miss May. She is an older woman, suffering from dementia. She can't ever remember anything, but she loves us coming and reading from the Book of Mormon to her. We were doing just that on Monday when this adorable little girl came in and asked May if she could go get the woman's mail. After that adorable confrontation, we gave the girl a pass-along Easter card. She was so excited to have it! When we left Miss May's house, we found her with a whole group of kids, gathered around one of our members kids who had fallen off of her bike. That little girl went right to her aid and helped our member's daughter, Kyra, by putting a band-aid on her scrapes. We walked over to see what was wrong and how we could help.

The first thing I noticed was that the little girl still had her pass-along card in her hand. She was so excited to see us! We talked to the group of kids, and she stated that she got the awesome card form us. The kids then turned to us and insisted we give them cards so they could pass them out at their churches. Hahaha! They completely cleaned us out of pass-along cards! :D They were so excited to get them. Then, one of the kids noticed the Book of Mormons we were holding and asked us about them. I told them that it was another Testament about Christ that goes hand-in-hand with the Bible. The kids eyes went wide and one said "There's more than just the Bible?!" It was adorable. Haha! We left them all with a Book of Mormon each and told them to show their parents. We plan to go back and see how they did with the BOM'S and pass-along cards.

Our next day was filled with service for members and a great unexpected appointment with a headquarters referral, P* H*. We've been trying to give her the Bible she ordered ever since I got out here in the field, but each time she doesn't answer her phone, or isn't home. We met her father and niece and actually had made an appointment to go see her on Tuesday. The niece wasn't home, but miraculously Paula was! We talked to her for a good long time. Paula is a minister, and at first we were like oh no, not a Bible bash session. But this lesson was different. We discovered Paula is a very deep thinker, and very willing to search for the answers in scripture and to pray with a sincere heart and real intent. We showed her the Book of Mormon towards the end and had her read the last two paragraphs of the introduction. She read, and re-read, and re-read, thinking long and hard. Then she looked up at us and said that she needed to take this book and do exactly what the introduction said. Read it, and pray with real intent to know if it is true. WOAH! Our minds were blown away! We were so excited about that. Then, to top it all off, Paula asked us to come back and speak to her youth group about all this. OH MY GOSH! We were so excited and we readily agreed. That was a BIG blessing an a miracle. :)

Wednesday was... Interesting... We had an appointment with Miss C* first, and decided to take a recent RM named Desitny. The lesson itself was great. She shared a powerful testimony and really blew us out of the water with her teaching skills. She really made Miss C* think about the Book of Mormon and if she really believed in it. It was AFTER the lesson that our lives got crazy... Miss C* decided it would be a good idea to take us out for milk shakes. We didn't really know what to do, but since we had a member with us, we agreed, thinking that it wouldn't take more than 15-20 minutes to do. Instead Miss C* was cruising us down the road WAY out of our area. WAY OUT OF OUR STAKE! She took us almost an hour away, then had us sit and eat the shakes at the restaurant for like an hour, then took us a long way back home. She took lots of detours, showing us her friends houses, and other things we honestly didn't care about because WE WERE BEING DISOBEDIENT!!!! We were freaking out in the back seat. Miss C* was NOT a good driver, and we were breaking  so many rules because of her. She took us in-front of Creflo Dollar's house and then turned around into the front lawn and almost stalled the car, trying to get up a ridge onto the road in the wet grass! WHAT THE HECK Miss C*?!?! We returned 3hr's later to her home, having missed one of our appointments with a member and being late for our next lesson with J*. Lesson learned. NEVER GET IN THE CAR WITH MISS C*!

Like I said, J* was next on our list. We went with Sister Fincher, and we are so glad we did. J* is someone who likes to search a LOT. Knowing this, we gave him church websites that he could look into and warned him of anti mormon material. Still, he didn't listen to us and found his way into anti material. He wasn't scared away from us, and he still wants to and is reading the Book of Mormon to find out more and understand more, but he asked us to discontinue the discussions. Sigh... Sister Fincher was golden with us, though, and helped answer many of his concerns about Church History and the Book of Mormon. Thank goodness for members!

We went on exchanges on April 1st, which was fun. But the high-light of the day was a prank we pulled on our District Leaders. Sister K called them up, and pretended like we got in a car accident. She sounded out of it and was really playing it up, then Sister Magkopa started crying in the back-round. We scared the heck out of them!!!! Hahahahahahaha! They were so mad that we did that! They tried to get us back, but we knew and the prank was pretty lame. :P Hahaha!

Finally, we had General Conference. wow. That was an amazing weekend. We watched it at the church, and it was just so amazing. None of our investigators came, although we almost had one. S* came in the morning for regular services. Apparently our new phone had made his contact change names and so when we thought we were texting S*, we were actually texting someone else who never responded. URGH!!!!!!!!!!! S* texted us in the morning, but we didn't get it until after the first session of conference. NO!!! He didn't go to the last session unfortunately...

However, that didn't ruin our spirits for General Conference! There were many talks that touched me, made me think of our investigators and less-actives, and really helped me with my own questions. President Uchtdorf's talk on Sunday morning really touched me, though. His talk about how no matter how shattered our lives may be right now, if we look to the Lord and go to Him, he will rebuild us. His use of the Good Shepherd was beautiful. How can we get the Good Shepherd to come rescue us? We are already worthy of that rescue. It doesn't matter how we got lost, if we are the ones who caused it through sin or trials, the Good Shepherd WILL find us, and if we look to Him and reach out our hand, asking for Him to save us, He WILL. There are no conditions, all we need to do is remember His love, and keep trying harder. Have a hope that we can believe in Him. Act on that hope, cry out to our Savior who loves us more than we can possibly imagine. And if we do that, he will rebuild us, he will save us. What an amazing thought. It's hard to believe that there is someone out there who loves us THAT much, but there really is. Our savior is truly the good shepherd, he is there waiting, with open arms and a stretched out hand, ready to lift us up. All we have to do is act on that faith, that hope, that he is there to help. I love my Savior, and want to spread that message with everyone I see. That's why I'm out here.

What was ya'll's favorite talk? I challenge all of you to think of your favorite talk, then to share it. Post it on Facebook, share it with a friend, write an email to someone with your testimony. don't let the wonderful spiritual outpouring we have received this weekend go un-noticed by the rest of the world. This is a wonderful opportunity we have to share the words of our LIVING prophet and apostles who spoke to us. Don't pass it up! :D

I love all y'all!

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

These first three pictures are of a war I am having with my companion. 
She payed me 69 cents ALL in pennies for an item. I DON'T want the pennies, so we have been sending them back and forth to each other in funny ways. Here are her ways.

While on exchanges everyone piled up on each other one night. 
Poor Sister Makgopa is on the bottom!