• 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, June 27, 2016

Secret Stairs and Open Windows

Hey Y'all!

Today, I am emailing you from the busy upper part of Atlanta. Yes, that's right, I am on exchanges with some sisters up here while we are going to appointments! :D City life is where it's at!

This past week ended up not going at all as how we had expected. What a surprise! :D But we ended up being able to do a lot of service. We helped a new member unpack as she moved into our ward. They live in the awesome house! We call it the Narnia house. It has hallways and doors that lead to strange places. You could get lost in the house! In the master bedroom, we found a skinny little door that leads to a set of stairs bringing us to the garage. Craziness! We are so excited to welcome this new family into the ward. We plan to visit them again this week, where I will take pictures of the crazy Narnia house. :)

The start of this transfer brought some disappointment with our investigators. Some of them we haven't been able to get in contact with for weeks, and others keep canceling appointments and dodging our calls. It seamed as if doors were being closed all over, however, I'm a big believer that when one door closes, God opens a window. And that's exactly what He did!

So first, we were suppose to have a return appointment to see "H" and "D" this past week, but they turned us down. "H" with her sister "J" and boyfriend "D". At first, we didn't go by and talk to them and just went to contact a referral. However, on the way back, we noticed them still outside and decided to stop by and talked with them. We pulled over and talked for a while about the Book of Mormon and where they were at. We found that they really enjoyed what they had read so far. Then, we turned to "D" and asked if he wanted to read it with them. He said sure! :D So we gave him a Book of Mormon too and left them with a prayer and promise of it's truth. 

Our second window opened to us was a referral from a member in the Peachtree City ward. She told us about a young family who just moved into our ward boundaries from Rhode Island. They were renting a house that this member owned. She told us their names were "M" and "R". I thought "R" sounded familiar, but I brushed the feeling off and we went to contact them with a member. "M" is like the perfect investigator situation! She has been searching for the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and hasn't been able to find it in any church she has been going to. When they decided to move to Georgia, she prayed to know why she was being sent there. A few days later she got a call from the member and she was introduced to the church a little. "M" later talked about how she had a feeling that her life was going to change when she moved to Georgia. That is when she stared learning about the church. How cool is that?! But wait, there's more! :D You remember how I said that "R" sounded familiar? So after talking with "M" for a while, it finally clicked why! Two months earlier, we had ran into a man named "R" at the store. We talked with him for a little and found out he was moving to PTC from Rhode Island for work, and that he was here early while his family packed up and moved. We gave him a card and moved on with our day. That "R" is "M"'s husband! :D It's amazing the way that the Lord works when accomplishing the work. He truly does have a huge hand in his work, and we are just here to help move it forward. :)

Something I learned this week is that nothing will ever go how YOU plan it. It always goes how the Lord plans it. If all of our appointments didn't fall through, if we had gone through our week as we had planned it, we probably wouldn't have found those people that the Lord wants us to talk to. I was taught through my life and especially out here on my mission, to give my will to the Lord. So many times I have had to be humbled and reminded of that very simple fact. However many times that I have been shown this, it still amazes me. I grow from those experiences and I learn from the Lord that he is making me who He wants me to be. I was thinking a lot about this last night and decided to write a poem about it I'm not the best at writing them, but I couldn't get it out of my mind.

Give me your heart,
and I will give you life.
Give up your soul,
and I will show you 

I paid the price,
so you can have no chains.
I suffered,
for your happiness.

So give me your heart,
your will and might,
and I will give you
Eternal Life.

I know that as we give up our hearts, and our wills to the Lord, He will give us the most precious reward of all. Eternal Life. But it takes trusting in Him. That he knows what he is doing. Take that leap of faith. Step over the edge and know that He will catch you. Because he will. I have learned that over and over again in my mission. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Some pretty awesome spaghetti we made! :D So proud of us!

Sister Tracy trying to stuff frozen crock pot food into our crock pot! LOL!

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Tour and New Miracles

Hey Y'all!

This past week started of HOT and HUMID! Yuck! It reached 97 degrees several days, how crazy is that?! But the works still goes on, no matter how hot or humid it gets here in the Georgia Atlanta Mission. :) 

This Thursday we had the amazing privilege to have Elder Craig A Cardon of the 70 over for a Mission Tour. We got to hear many wise words from him. :) One big thing that really stuck out to me is our purpose as missionaries. We are the literal arm of the lord. Over and over in the tour it was stressed to us that we are our Heavenly Fathers children, with a special calling at this time to serve and help his other children. The Lord's arm has been extended and we are that arm, reaching out to His children to bring them back to the fold. How amazing is that?! It made me really appreciate and take more seriously my role as a representative of Christ. This was my first time having a general authority out with us, and it was the best experience ever! :D

After this amazing conference, we had a few great miracles. The first came as a testimony to both my companion and I, and also to one of our members who is our visiting teaching companion. In the mission we have started involving the missionaries more in visiting and home teaching. We went out with Sister Jensen to go see our assigned sisters who were very less-active. We first had dinner at Sister Jensen's house, where we noticed that she appeared to be at the end of her rope with her two young children running around. You could tell she was a tired mom, ready to send them away if she could. We almost decided to cancel on her because her babysitting set up fell through, but last minute she was able to get a babysitter and we were off! The Lord truly does bless us when we try our hardest. 

The first woman we saw connected amazingly with Sister Jensen! And they became quick friends, but the next woman we saw was the real miracle. Her name is Krystal, and we had been trying to contact her for over a transfer (6 weeks) without a sight of this woman. We had never seen her before, and as we got out of the car to her apt complex, I had little faith that she would be home. However, as we turned the corner to her apt, there she was, sitting outside! I was surprised and excited. We sat down and talked with her for a long time, discovering a lot about her past. She is a young single mother of two kids, one 10 and the other 7. She stopped going to church at a young age because of a lot of doubts that Satan put in her head, but as we talked to her more she kept realizing that she was happier at church than she has ever been out of it. She told us she needed to come back, and was ready. Her 10 year-old son has yet to be baptized, we discovered. So that day we set up our first appointment to start teaching him the lessons and preparing him for baptism. It was truly a blessing that we went out and saw these women. Sister Jensen talked with us after about how she needed that, and how she had doubts visiting less-active women, but that after our lessons with them, she knew why she was their assigned visiting teacher. She related to these women in a way that we as missionaries could never have. And she was able to help them and share her testimony with them. :)

Erin, Becca and Sister Tracy
The other great miracle came the next day when we had the great opportunity to go out with a RM visiting the mission. She had served in PTC for 17 months and was coming back for various reasons and decided to shoot us a text to see if she could come out with us. We jumped on the opportunity and went out with her in the morning. :) Our first lesson was with Heather and Debbie, where we taught the restoration. The lesson was very powerful. :) This sister was the best team up for this lesson. She testified of the truth in this restored gospel and really let our investigators know that God loves them. At the end of the lesson we invited them to baptism and church as well as a return appointment to see them this week. They will be attending church this Sunday if all goes well! At the end, we were even able to get Debbie to pray. :) The spirit was so thick in that room, you could cut it with a knife!

This week has been filled with tender mercies and miracles from our Heavenly Father. Answers to my prayers peppered the days and really assured to me that I have a loving father in Heaven, and that this is the true gospel. This fathers day, as I was reflecting on the amazing example and loving parent my father was, I realized how loving God was too. In 1 Nephi 11:21-22 it talks about Nephi and the angel that comes to him, showing Christ and describing to him about the vision of the tree of life and the iron rod which his father Lehi saw:

"the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?
 And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things."

This scripture hit me in a different way than ever before. I realized as I read it, that I have a loving Heavenly Father. That He sent his only begotten son to earth to save us. Then, he sent us the way back. The tree in Lehi's dream is the pure "love of God." The pure love of a Father who wants nothing more than to see all of his children return to him. This pure love, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the most desirable above all things. It is the only thing that can make us eternally happy. And we are given it freely, all we need to do take it and live it. I love my Heavenly Father, who gave me a way back to him. I love my dad who showed me this gospel as a young child, so that I could grow up in it and eventually teach others it. This gospel is the Love. Plane and simple. And as we come to recognize it, we understand how it can soften the hearts of others and penetrate their souls, making them desire it above anything else. I hope to see that in my mission and in myself continually. :) 

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Monday, June 13, 2016

Thrown a Curve Ball

Hey Y'all!

So I know last week I told y'all that I was going to be welcoming in a new missionary from the MTC, however I really think the Lord likes to throw me through loops. :P 

That night I received a call from my mission president, telling me that I would actually not be training, but would be serving another transfer as STL with a new companion. WHA?! I just wrapped my head around training! Oh well, when God throw's you curve-ball's, all you can do is to keep swinging and do the best you can. :)
My new companion is Sister Tracy, she was trained by sister K just before I came in, which is pretty nice because she knows the ward and the area for the most part. 

Sister Kanongata'a with President and Sister Foote
wearing the leis she gave them.
This week has been a little crazy, what with Sister Kanongata'a leaving, and sister Tracy coming in. At transfer meeting, we gave President and Sister Foote leis, which they so appreciated.  The day before, we spent much of our time going around and visiting members to say goodbye. It was tearful, everyone was happy to see my amazing companion moving on to another chapter in her life. :)

The remainder of this week wasn't too eventful. My poor new companion got pretty sick, so we weren't able to go out much. However, we were able to see a few people. One included the illusive Miss "C" whom we saw with a member. Apparently she was in a pretty bad car accident, however, thankfully she was okay. She was feeling pretty sick, and is still rattled about her accident. We shared a scripture with her, to help her feel the spirit and love of God, then left. It was so good to get in contact with Miss "C" and just see how she is doing. she may not be an investigator right now, but she is still someone we can plant seeds with and keep a good relationship with.

On Saturday, we needed to stay in because my Companion was so sick. However, I spent my day watching some old General Conference sessions and putting together this baby blanket that a less-active member gave to us a long time ago apparently. That was pretty fun. :) It's not done, but I hope to finish it some time. I don't really know what to do with it when I'm done, but I'm sure I'll find some way of using it!  

This past week was definitely not what I expected, but I'm okay with that. :) One thing I have learned especially out here in the Field, is that nothing will go how you expect it to go. It only goes how the Lord wants it. He knows everything, all the details. That is why things happen the way they are. I'm glad that He controls His work instead of me. I love this area, and love being out on a mission. Because I'm actually an STL again, I will have the privilege to attend a Mission Leadership Council with Elder Craig A. Cardon of the 70 on top of attending a mission wide Tour with him. I'm so excited for this event and to have a general authority come to the mission. I hope to learn a lot from him and our amazing Mission president and his wife.

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Becca is becoming well known for her giant chocolate chip cookies.  Her district begged her to make some for their last meeting together before transfers. Here are some pictures of them enjoying the cookies.  (Seems like every district picture is out of focus LOL. Hopefully by the end of her mission they'll figure it out and we will have one where we can see all their faces.)

Monday, June 6, 2016

Bitter-Sweet Goodbyes and New Adventures

Becca and Sister K on her first week in Georgia.  
Hey Y'all!

So this week has been very successful, yet a little bittersweet. We have transfers this Wednesday, where I will be sending my amazing trainer and companion Sister Kanongata'a home. She has been the best companion and trainer to me! :) Me and the entire Flatcreek ward that she has been serving in for 14 months will miss her dearly!

But the Lord doesn't waste time saying farewell with tears, on Wednesday my companion will leave me and continue on with her amazing life outside the mission field. But the Lord has different plans for me. :) As of this morning, I was called to train a new missionary fresh from the MTC! The Lord is really hastening the work and I have seen it in my mission as he has kept me moving and progressing. Although this feels like a daunting task to take over an area and train a new greenie, I know the Lord is there to help me in this work. :) He won't leave me alone to do this by myself, but he will send helpers and miracles wherever I go.

This last week has been amazing. But, unfortunately, the woman we met at Home Depot never called us.  We plan to go there today and perhaps find her. :) Even though, we had a few disappointments like that, the Lord has counterbalanced them with amazing miracles and blessings!

Earlier this last week we had been given a few new referrals from the Spanish Elders serving in our stake. They had met this teenage girl named "H" who was very interested in learning more about the gospel. A couple days later, we headed over to contact "H" with an amazing member who is preparing to turn her papers in. :) What ended up happening was when we entered the house, we met the mother "D", and after just a few minutes of us explaining who we were and why we were here, "D" went on to tell her life story about an abusive husband who did all these horrible things to her and her two daughters. The man is now in jail, but the scars are still lasting from these three daughters of God. She went on to say that sometimes she feels like God was punishing her. How sad is that?! We testified to "H" and "D" of the loving nature of our Father in Heaven, and how sometimes things happen, and people have agency, but that doesn't mean that our Heavenly Father doesn't love us. He sent his son to suffer for our pains and afflictions so that He can help us through these trials. I hope their hearts were a little softened and minds a little more enlightened. We left them with a Book of Mormon and pamphlets on the restoration and plan of salvation. They were very interested, especially heather. She has read the bible twice! And the only reason they weren't reading the bible now was because the abusive husband/father had burned all their belongings, including their bible. We set up an appointment to see them the next day and give them two new bibles. We didn't get in to see "D" and "H", because "D" was sick, but we did meet H's sister and gave them their bibles. We will come back to see them next week and teach them more about our loving Heavenly Father! :)

Another amazing miracle happened on Friday. We were rushing out of our apartment to the car when we noticed an Asian man filling up a bucket of paint in the back of his van. He looked like a worker. As we passed by, we said hello and tried to talk to him. But guess what! He only speaks Korean! :O Oh no! He barely spoke broken English, and I was stuck on what to do next. But sister K came up, pointed at her name tag, and said "Jesus Christ!" He totally understood that and  lit up! We then gave him the Easter card about Christ and left him with a BOM. That's what you call teaching simply! Just a little while later we were at the mission office and had the idea to grab a Korean book of mormon for this man and drop it off to him on the way to our next appointment if he was still there. We raced back to the apartment complex to find his van still parked where he had left it. He wasn't there, but Sister K ran out and placed the book in the back of his car where he could see it. I really hope he read that book and ponders, then calls the missionaries! :D

Becca with Sister Hughes and her niece and nephew
Earlier that day we had another amazing blessing as we went out with Sister Hughes to see a long-time investigator "K" and her daughter "S". "K" is a very strong-willed and stubborn person, but she really likes missionaries to come over. She says that she really feels the spirit when we are there and loves everyone of our faith, but wont convert because of issues with blacks and church history, along with the organization of the church. She has been taking the discussions since before she even moved to Georgia! One of our members felt inspired after meeting "K" to have us take Sister Hughes to her. :) So we went, with Sister Hughes, and her daughter Rachelle who is a recent convert. The lesson was probably one of the best we had ever had with "K"! Sister Hughes completely answered almost all of K's concerns, while leaving her speechless, which is a very hard thing to do! by the end of the lesson, we left our investigator with a lot to think about and a commitment to come to church with "S".  
In the middle is Sister Hughes' daughter Jenna who recently left to serve
in the California Rancho Cucamonga mission.

NOTE:  Sister Hughes is the African American member in the Flatcreek ward who has been like a mother to the sister missionaries.  She was the only member of her family to convert to the gospel about 10 years ago. She became mother to her niece and nephew a couple years ago when her sister passed away, which is why her now daughter Rachelle is a recent convert.
Becca and Sister K with some ward members

This miracle, leads to the best miracle we had at church! "K" and her daughter did indeed come for two hours of church! Along with several of our less-actives. One family of which I had not seen at church since my mission started. They all came for Sister K's last Sunday. And since it was fast Sunday, we had several members bear their testimonies and talk about how impact-full Sister K has been in their lives. This really inspired "K" to go up and bare HER testimony, and talk about how much Sister K has impacted her too. The meeting left Sister K in tears. I honestly believe that "K" will be baptized one day, even though she said she won't. She will one day realize that the spirit she feels, that she has felt with all of the missionaries and members, is the Holy Ghost telling her that this is the place for her to be.

This past week has been filled with so many miracles that I can't even count! Every day has brought something new, and I wish I could share them all with y'all, but that would take FOREVER! So I'll stick with the ones I have talked about along with my testimony. The Lord really IS hastening his work. He is preparing so many people for the restored gospel that we can't even keep up as missionaries! But that's how it's  suppose to be. Miracles happen every day and people are progressing in every way because the time will soon come when the prophesy will come true, that this gospel "will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done." I have a strong testimony of that. I have seen it here in Flatcreek and in the rest of my mission. The Lord is truly hastening the work, and we need to hasten out steps with him to keep it going and prepare for the day with the Savior will come again. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Expect the Unexpected

All the sisters in the Georgia Atlanta Mission - May 2016
Becca is in the middle on the right side
Hey Y'all!

Wow! What a crazy week! I hope that everybody has had a wonderful Memorial day! It's the best time of year to remember our fallen brothers in sisters who serve our country. And it's also good to remember our own ancestors who came to this beautiful country to start a new and better life for them and their posterity!

This past week has been full of the unexpected! This is my amazing companion sister Kanongata'a's last week in the mission field. Because of that, our ward asked her to give a talk in church last Sunday. She was really nervous, but the entire week I was all happy with myself because I DIDN'T have to give a talk. :D And then, on Friday evening we were on companion exchanges and I get a text form sister Kanongata'a, telling me I'm giving a talk on Sunday. At first I thought she was joking, but when we got back into the apartment, she showed me the voice mail given by our new bishopric, asking me to give a talk. AHHH!!!!!!!!!! Suffice it to say, we spent a good portion of our Saturday writing talks to give at our 9am sacrament meeting the next day. Life of a missionary! :P

Despite a slightly more stressful weekend, we did have a great week. :) We did a lot of service for our members, which resulted in a crazy miracle! One of our recent converts had us over to help clean her house. Her husband, who is not a member and was never interested, was home too. Just a few days before, we discovered that he had been reading the Book of Mormon with their son who is also a recent convert and has been going through some difficult times based on his choices. This came as a surprise to us, so we brought it up when we saw him during service. He said he had gotten through the 7th chapter and liked it so far! At the end of service, we invited him in to hear a scripture we were going to share before leaving, and he came in! For the first time! :D We were so excited! He participated in the lesson and even said a prayer with us. We hope to help him continue to read the Book of Mormon and to also come to church. :)

It always seams that God puts opportunities and blessings in our paths when we least expect it. This next miracle is a perfect example of that. Last week on p-day, my companion and I had made it a point to try and contact as many people as we could through p day. At the library, we tried to contact every person who sat next to us at the computers. It even resulted in a little 80 year old man running away. Haha! I had never seen an old man run that fast! :D But anyway, we didn't get a single phone number or solid potential at the library. Then, later that day, we were at Home Depot to get a box. When we entered, we saw a worker there, and went up to ask her where the boxes were. But before we could do anything, she looked at us and said "Can I give you my number? I want to meet with y'all." We were flabbergasted. That had never happened, to either of us, and we didn't know how to respond at first. she then asked "Y'all are the missionaries, right?" Our brains kicked out of their freeze and we were able to give her a card and set up a time to see her. We hope to see her this week, so wish us luck! :D

This week has been, hot, amazing, and crazy! :D Just yesterday it got up to the 90's, with humidity and hardly a breeze! But we have seen so many miracles and blessings come when we hit the pavement with uplifted hearts. Just yesterday, we had decided to walk to an appointment with a member. We were low on miles, so we parked at the grocery store outside her neighborhood and decided to walk to the appointment and perhaps contact some people along the way. it was 10:30 in the morning and already it was 80 degrees! But we set out with high spirits, and not doubting we would find people. It took us a while, but we did find new potentials and were able to contact some old investigators! We were hot and sticky, and really thirsty, but we were happy. :) The Lord made us able to get though the day, as we faithfully did his work. 

Yesterday, we shared a scripture about the stippling warriors that I think really applies to us today. They were going into battle with the Lamanites, who out numbered them buy a large amount, however they had faith and did not doubt that the Lord would give them strength beyond what they could do alone, and because of that, they were able to win the battle and none of them had lost their lives, but: "Behold, they have received many wounds; nevertheless they stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually; and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come."

At times in life, I feel like I have had many wounds, or trials. Things may not happen how they are suppose to, loved ones perhaps have died, families are broken by death, divorce, or other means. However, the Lord can make us stronger. He will carry us through our hardest trials, so that we can emerge triumphant at the end, without a life lost. :) All we need to do is have faith, and know that as long as we rely on Him, and do what he as asked of us, then we will gain the rewards and return to our Heavenly Father triumphant. Sometimes it's hard to remember, but at the times when it is the hardest to remember, that is when we have to know. Know that we are children of a God who would never want us to bare these wounds alone. I know that, with all my heart. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch