• 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, May 23, 2016

Havin' Fun in the Hot Sun!

Hey Y'all!

It's for sure warming up here in good ol' Georgia! :D This next week is suppose to stay in the high 80's to low 90's! Wooh! Humid, sticky, hot, and so much fun! :P But anyway, we had a great week non-the-less. :) If y'all haven't noticed, most of our top progressing investigators here in Flatcreek have for one reason or another been dropped. Suffice it to say, we were pretty disappointed at the beginning of this week, however, we went forth with faith and great miracles happened because of it! :D

Georgia is so beautiful and green this time of year.
We have now picked back up a long-time investigator named "K". She has apparently been investigating the church on and off for over a year, going through several sets of missionaries. Just a couple weeks ago, we  got back in contact with her, and saw her. This past week we had a return appointment to see if she had been reading the chapter in the Book of Mormon we committed her to read. She had! :D We brought a great member with us that connected well with her. We then committed her to come to church. However, "K" is kind of a hard investigator if you didn't notice from how long she has been investigating. She has researched a lot of anti information and made up her mind about a lot of church history. She enjoys the Book of Mormon, however, and likes the members of the church that she has met. Hopefully, she will one day see past all the lies that have been planted on the internet and actually seek the truth about the church. :) 

So like I said, this week has been filled with miracles! Two that stand out to me right now, came while I was on exchanges and another hot day out tracting. So on Wednesday we went on exchanges with some sisters in our Zone. I went out with Sister Hunter, and we started off all excited and pumped! We had a lesson first thing in the morning with an investigator to teach her the restoration. She had kept her appointments before, so I wasn't too worried about it, however, she didn't answer her door when we got there. I was like okay, that's okay. I have a good list of backups! We visited about 6 other potentials and members, blowing through my list of backups for that area, which was bad because we would be there later on that day... Now I'm a little nervous, but I was all It's all good! We will visit this one last family then maybe go back for lunch. Thankfully the member family we saw was home, however they were out doing yard work with the elders. :P We shared a scripture and left them with a prayer. After lunch a very similar situation happened in another area. We saw two people from 2-4pm. 2 people answered their door. -.- I'll admit, I was getting a little frustrated, but I knew we had an appointment in that area with a dependable member at 4 so we stayed. 5 minutes to 4 our member called and canceled the lesson, but said to meet her and a group of members at a dinner place an hour later. I was all, okay then!

The magnolia flowers are about 12" across!
So beautiful and fragrant.
In a last hope effort, I went to contact three more people with sister Hunter. NONE of them were home. -.- Finally, in my stubborn way I got it set in my mind that SOMEONE would answer their door and we WOULD share a message! If it was the last thing I did! So after the last potential didn't answer their door, I marched over to their neighbors house saying "We are tracting! SOMEONE will answer their door!" It's funny how the Lord works, I think he is a funny person to be honest, because as soon as I said that the guy answered his door. YAY! He didn't want a prayer or to take a pass-along card, but he referred us to a neighbor. We quickly marched to that neighbor's house and knocked. WHAT AN AMAZING BLESSING! The man who opened the door was WAY interested! He had a lot of questions and really wanted to learn more about the gospel. Woah! He even invited his friend over and we talked for a good long while, sharing our testimonies and answering questions. About half way through the lesson we discovered that he had met the biking elders in our area who gave him and his wife a Book of Mormon and said they would return in a couple weeks. Sadly, they are the elders investigators that we had tracted into, HOWEVER, that was just the miracle we needed to have! :D it made us SO late to our dinner appointment, but we had a great story to tell when we got there!

The other great miracle that comes to mind happened this past Friday. Since a good portion of our investigators were dropped, we decided that we needed to go out and find some more! We went tracting on a certain street first. Before getting out our nice, air-conditioned car, we said a quick prayer to find the people who need to hear our message on this street. With faith, we stepped out of the car and walked right into a gentleman ready for a full-out bible bash! We didn't get into one, because of my amazing companion who testified of the gospel and left, leaving the man to think and hopefully ponder what we had to say. After that we knocked out the whole street and found no one except for one man who said to come back when his mother was home. Disappointed, hot, and sweaty, we turned around and started toward our car. Just as we were about to reach it, we notice a person pull into their driveway. It was the mother of that man who told us to come back! At first, I didn't want to run all the way over there and try to see if they were even interested, but sister K pushed us forward. We talked to the woman, and she was extremely interested! Her name is "P", and her and her son "M" have been looking to have God and Jesus more in their lives. She kept saying that we were an answer to her prayers and that all she wanted to was to feel the same spirit she felt when she was baptized into her church. We gave a short restoration lesson and promised that as she continues taking lessons, she will feel the spirit and have a desire to be baptized by proper authority. HOW COOL! the next morning we get a call from "P", telling us that she had read the pamphlet we gave her and that she is ready to have God in her life. HOW COOL IS THAT! :D The Lord really answered our prayers and hers!

Looking back on this week, I have seen the Lords hand more apparent in my life. He guides me, and leads us to the people who are prepared. Sometimes it takes a frustrating day of empty homes and no contacts to realize that he knows what he is doing. As long as we are diligent, the Lord will bless us and answers our prayers in HIS TIME. It took me all week to really understand and learn that, but I am glad that I didn't give up. That my companion didn't give up. Even though it was hot, even though it would have been easier to just get in the car and go home, we DIDN'T. And prayers were answered, lives were blessed because of it. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Finding Reprieve

Hey Y'all!

This week has been crazy, but absolutely amazing. :) To start off, we had the amazing - and much needed - opportunity to attend the temple for Zone Conference this past Wednesday. The peace and solice were exactly what I needed, espeically at that time. It's crazy to me that I ever waited more than three months to attend the Temple back at home. Now, I find it hard to wait that long. If it were up to me, I would go every week if I could! :) Attending the Temple does wonders for my spirit and re-energizes me for the next three months.

After the temple, we had Zone Training. Since Sister Kanongata'a and I are Sister Training Leaders, we had to help give the zone training with our Zone Leaders. We were stressing about it all week! Once we were done with it, we felt exhausted, but so much better. We also have a funny story from it as well. :) We played a game where we blindfolded an Elder from our zone, hid a jar of Nutella in the room we were in, and had one of the assistants to the president
try to talk the elder to the Nutella. However, we let the other missionaries try and get in the way without making noise. THAT WAS A BAD IDEA!!!  All of the Elders in the Zone attacked the poor blindfolded Elder, who just so happened to be our District Leader. They were literally hanging off of him, putting chairs in his way and all but wrestled him to the ground! Ahh! But in the end he got the Nutella and we were able to relate it to how we as missionaries need to follow the council of our mission president and exactly obey all of the mission rules he has set. In the end, we did feel the spirit, although I might not ever do that game again for zone training. :P

The rest of this week has been full of ups and downs. It has been by far the most fatiguing week I have ever had. We were exhausted. However, we worked though that exhaustion and were able to see may miracles. One in particular came as we followed the council of our mission president to contact 15 new people a day. We had gone to a trailer park where one of our less-active members live to pick up something from her house. When we left, we decided to turn around at the end of the road. As we did, we noticed a woman sitting outside her house. We had seen her a few days before at this trailer park and wanted to talk to her, but never got a chance. Immediately, we pulled over, jumped out of the car, and walked right for her. And what a good thing we did! We talked with the woman who's name is "P" a while and learned that she had taken the discussions from Elder missionaries about a year ago and had even attended church 4 times! She had wanted to see the temple, and the Elders had tried to set something up for her when for some reason they all lost contact. Perhaps those missionaries were both taken out of the area, or whatever, but during all the confusion this poor woman was lost. She had been given a Book of Mormon and was now living with her daughter-in-law after her son had passed away. She loves missionaries. How amazing is that?! The Lord knew exactly where she was, what she was going through, and when to send us! :D We hope to pick her back up as an investigator and help her and her family progress in the gospel. Please pray for "P"!

Unfortunately this week, our main investigator "J" dropped us. Please pray that he keeps reading the Book of Mormon on his own and one day will ask for missionaries again.

Y'all might not remember, but we had an investigator when I had just gotten out here, named "Th". For various reasons we had decided to drop her a few months ago. However, over Mother's Day we sent out a text to all the mothers in our ward and investigators, to which "Th" texted back. This is the first contact we have had form her since we dropped her! So, on Wednesday we decided to go back and visit her. We had a powerful lesson, and she told us about how she had fallen and hurt her back really bad. In that time, she realized that she needed to go back to church. Yay! :D We committed to read the Book of Mormon again and to come to church. However, Sister K and I personally think she has some kind of mental problem. Her and a companion we were out on exchanges with the next day went by to do service for "Th". They knocked at the door and "Th" screamed at them as if she would kill them. The sisters quickly went to the car, shaken. Just as they got in, "Th" came back out and acted as though nothing happened. Hmm.... Weird. She didn't attend church either. However, we hope to keep teaching her if we are safely able. Everybody needs the gospel, and who knows, perhaps this is what she needs to make her emotional side more stable.

Like I had mentioned before, we did our first exchanges with sisters in our zone. :) What a fun time it was too! I went out with Sister Christ, who I came out with and was in my district at the MTC. It was so incredible to see how much we have both changed and grown as missionaries to the Lord. One lesson that really stands out to me from that day was with an investigator named "T" who we dropped in to see. We had an appointment with him, but as we got there, he was just about to leave to pick up his son. We had enough time to give him a short lesson on the Restoration and ask him to read the introduction to the Book of Mormon. He was very interested as we spoke and we both testified so boldly. "T" took a BOM and told us to call him next week about a time to sit down and teach his family. It was so cool to teach with Sister Christ and to see the miracle of a new investigator become more interested in the gospel. :)

Every day in the mission field has been an incredible experience for me. The weeks seem to fly by, though. I can't believe that it has been over 4 months since I left my life in Utah to go serve the Lord. I feel as though I just got off the plain yesterday! It makes me realize how important and precious every second out here is. I only get to do this once, and this once is flying by so fast! :)

As I was studying, I came a cross a scripture that so adequately describes what I as a missionary want above all else. What is of the most worth to me. :) It is found in Doctrine and Covenants 17:6

"And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen."

That is the reason every missionary out here is called to serve. That is what is of most worth to me personally and probably to every other missionary. :) To preach repentance to our Heavenly Father's children. To bring them into the waters of baptism so they may one day enter His kingdom and we can rest with them, rejoicing. I hope when the day comes that I go to the Celestial Kingdom, that I see the people I helped to bring to the gospel. That I can hug them and congratulate them. Then I will see the last fruits of my labors out here. To see them in white that third time, in the Celestial Kingdom with their families. :) I can't wait for that day, and hope to keep that at the center of my mind as I teach all of my investigators. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Here are some pictures from last weeks Sister's training meet and clothing swap

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mothers Day Fun!

Hey Y'all!

Happy Mothers Day to all you amazing mothers who read this! The world wouldn't be the same without our special and wonderful influences in our lives. Ya'll deserve a day set apart to celebrate your divine calling!

This week has been busy busy busy! We had two 9-10 hour meetings in a row! The first was a sisters specialized training where all the sisters in the mission came together to hear from Sister Foote, have a couple workshops, talk, and just have fun. At the end we had a clothing exchange where sisters brought in any cloths they didn't want anymore and gave them away to other sisters. Any leftovers goes to thrift stores. That was a very fun day, being able to see all the sisters, especially the ones that I came out with. :D

The next day was Mission Leadership Council, where all the zone leaders and sister training leaders came together and received training from president and sister Foote. It was more of an open discussion on how we can better help our mission be the best that it can be, but it was still fun. We were able to talk with and learn a lot form the other leaders in our mission.

Since we had two meetings in a row, some of the missionaries living near the mission home had the opportunity to take sister training leaders who came from farther away in the mission out on exchanges. Sister Kanongata'a and I had the opportunity to have Sister Hansen and Sister Welch out with us. That's right! I went on an exchange with Sister Welch! Hahaha! And, we had many miracles come from these exchanges. We were able to have both companionship take a member out with us on a team-up. Sister Welch and I took Sister Cardon, an amazing member of our ward. We had a set appointment that fell though, but the Lord blessed us in another way. We were able to see "L", who is an investigator who LOVES service! We taught her an amazing restoration lesson on her front porch, then found out that she had been reading the Book of Mormon, and really liked it! She said it helps her to understand the Bible better. We committed her to read a certain chapter from the BOM and Sister Cardon invited her to a service project the Relief Society was doing the next night for refugees in Croacia. We left that lesson on a high! "L" never came to the service project, but we are still hopeful that she is reading and praying about the Book of Mormon. :)

More amazing miracles came from us following the challenge our Mission President set for us as a mission. He asked us to contact 15 people a day. Contacting them means that we walk up and try to either share a gospel message, or give them a pass-along card like the #hallelujah Easter card or something like that. Now, you may say that is too hard, and I'll be honest, we have only exceeded the goal once in the week that we have been doing it, but many miracles have come from it! One day, after Mission Leadership Council, we decided to go out to a park and walk around a big path that circled a pond. We went the opposite direction everyone else went so they couldn't run away from us, hehe. >;) Although we didn't find many people interested, we ran into our progressing investigator "H" and her daughter "T" who we hadn't been able to get in contact with all week! We talked with them for a while, then prayed with them and tried to set up a time to come see them this week. What a huge miracle! The Lord knew exactly where we needed to go, and guided us right to there.

The next miracle came when we went store contacting. We weren't going to go, but we needed to bring a treat for an appointment we had with an investigators son. So we headed over to Walmart, parked, and prayed for those who are ready to hear the gospel to be put in our way. I no sooner stepped out of my car, when I heard someone tapping on the window next to us. It was this woman sitting in her drivers seat, poining at my name tag. At first I was really confused, and so was she. Then she rolled down our window, and said "You still have your name tag on!" We laughed lightly and told her that we wear it all the time. She laughed too. :D We then decided to give her an Easter card. At first, she was all "I don't need that, I already am christian." but after a few minutes of talking, she became interested in what we believed. We told her about the Book of Mormon, and shared a short restoration lesson. She went from being not interested at all, to taking a Book of Mormon, an Easter card, and a Restoration Pamphlet, with the promise that she would read it and call us when she was done. How crazy is that?! The Lord answered our prayer immediately!

The next day the appointment with our investigator and her son fell through, and we ended up with two bags of tacki's that we didn't really need to buy. But I know that we didn't go to that store for treats, we went for that woman we gave a Book of Mormon to. I hope and pray that she calls us back, wanting to learn more. :)

This week has been truly miraculous. :) We saw so many miracles and had so many spiritually uplifting experiences, and to top it all of I was able to call my family for mothers day. I thank my family for preparing me to go out and serve the Lord. I don't know where I would be without my mom and all the other motherly figures in my life along with my family. They taught me how to be courageous and serve the Lord without doubt or fear. I have never been a missionary before coming out here, and yet they prepared me more than any experience could have. I would love to share what was said of the striplings warriors: 

"Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them."

"And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it."

This totally applies now. We are in battle even now, but we don't worry or doubt. If you remember at the end of this story, these warriors went into battle and all returned alive and well. Not a single soul was lost among them, because they had been taught by their mothers to never doubt our God. He knows all, and will lift us up and help us when we need it the most. They had no idea how to fight, yet they were kept safe and fought fiercely for their loved ones and their religion. Now, in 2016, we are still fighting a war. I am out here, serving him as I see many of our Heavenly Fathers children fall to satan. But I won't doubt, my parents have taught me differently. The Lord will help and deliver me in ways I cannot even imagine. All I have to do is live what I have learned from my mother. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch :)

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Day In the Life of a Missionary

Our district before transfers.
The two elders sitting in the chair were our district leader and his companion, who is now our new district leader.

Hey Y'all!

This week has been pretty awesome! :D We've had lots of cool miracles and many great times. It makes me so glad to be out here on my mission in Georgia, serving God's children here and bringing them closer to the gospel.

To start off, I would love to share a wonderful miracle that happened last night. The youth in the stake had a fireside where a man, brother Chapman, came and talked to them. He is a former BYU basketball player who shared his conversion story as he went to BYU for school. This man was funny and spiritual, and really connected well with the youth. But the real miracle was that we had two investigators from a part-member family there. One of these investigators is a teenager who is VERY into sports. The other is in college and also loves sports. When we first left with this family to the fireside, they really did not want to go. But by the time it was over, they were beaming! :D We asked if they wanted to shake Brother Chapman's hand after, and they teenager especially smiled so big and almost ran to the speaker! I am positive that this fireside influenced them for the better. I sincerely hope that they listened to this man's conversion story and felt the sweet whispering of the spirit telling testifying of truth. I am so thankful for the members for taking these boy's. :D
Flowers given to us by "H" and her daughter "T".

The rest of this week has been up and down. "H", the woman who was planning to come to church yesterday, canceled again on us. We know she is willing and ready to accept the gospel, but it is so disappointing when they don't come to church. My heart drops every time when I look at those doors to the chapel and do not see our amazing investigators come. I can only imagine how Heavenly Father feels when we don't come to church.

We are hoping to take this investigator on a church tour, to show her the significance of church attendance and especially taking the sacrament. Please keep "H" and "T" in your prayers, they really need it!

Our investigator "Miss C" asked to discontinue the lessons. This was disappointing, but perhaps it is for the better at this time. However, I know that as one door is closed, our Heavenly Father opens others, and that is exactly what he did. :)

We were out trying to contact some potential investigators in a trailer park, when we came across a former investigator's son, "E". We hadn't contacted them for a while, but "E" was very excited to see us and offered to go ask his mom if we could pray with them. We enthusiastically agreed and were even able to get in and share a piece of the restored gospel. This family claims to be Jewish, but they don't appear to be practicing. The father of the children also says he is a Jehovah's Witness, but we have yet to meet him. The family listened to the lesson, and seamed interested. The mother even asked us what will happen when we die. We opened our Book of Mormon, and gave her a chapter in Alma to read that perfectly answered her question. We were also able to set up a return appointment to come back and help her son, "E" as he sets goals to be a better listener! What a blessing! :D

Another big miracle happened while we were outside waiting for a member to pick us up. For all those of you who don't know, we do have a car in our companionship, but one of the rules of the car is that we have a certain number of miles we are allowed to drive per month. This month we were almost out of miles for this last week which has never happened before. This is an important note, because if we hadn't of been out of miles and waiting for that member, this miracle would never have happened. As we were waiting outside, a potential investigator, and our downstairs neighbor, "R" showed up. We haven't been able to contact him much for various reasons, so we jumped at the opportunity to talk with him. We asked him if he was reading the Book of Mormon that we gave him my first day in the field. He said yes, and we continued to have a great conversation. He is Baptist, and was spending the whole week going to this religious revival and even singing in a choir! "R" opened up to us so much more, and we learned a lot about the trials the Lord has put in his life. At the end, we were able to pray with him and asked him to continue reading the Book of Mormon. He didn't want to set up a return appointment yet, but we hope to set one up next week. This just shows how the Lord works to put people in our way to teach, in every moment.

Before I leave Ya'll I want to share a scripture I came across in my studies. It's Moroni 10: 32  "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God."

When I read this scripture, it hit me. All we need to do is come to Christ, our savior and redeemer, and he will perfect us. Love God with all of our hearts, might, mind, and strength. Give Him your all, and he will give you even more. By his grace, we WILL be made perfect. That message is so amazing and so powerful. They want us to return back to live with them so badly, that they are telling us exactly what to do. If we follow our savior, love our God, and keep the commandments, then we will live with them and our families for eternity in the Celestial kingdom. I know that is true, and with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength, I will testify and declare it to as many people as I can. That is my life, for the next 15 months. And I love it. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Destine, a returned missionary from our ward, and her little nieces.