• 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, July 18, 2016

Stuck Like Glue

Hey Y'all!

That's right! Transfer week is already here! :D My amazing companion Sister Tracy will be leaving me for a different area. Wish her luck in her adventures! As for me, I am stuck to Flatcreek like superglue. I will be second-half training a new missionary this transfer. As of now, I have not received a call from my mission president telling me otherwise, so cross your fingers that he won't change it! :)

The dome inside the apple turnover loaf. Hahaha! :D

This past week has been pretty crazy, as an STL I have to go on companion exchanges with each sister in our zone. Last week we went on our last two exchanges. :) They were so much fun, but so crazy! The first exchange, I went with sister Clark, a new missionary. We had a very fun day! We did service at a thrift store called Cloths Less Traveled, and at the end of the day a member took us out to this restaurant called Franks, where I had the BIGGEST apple turnover I have ever seen in my life! We took it home to eat it and when I got in, all of us decided to call it an apple turnover loaf. Hahaha! :D It wasn't too bad of a turnover either.

The apple turnover loaf in all its glory!

A day later we went to Atlanta for a doctors appointment, there we met with our favorite Atlanta sisters, Sister Dean and Sister Ducharme. :) We had breakfast at the famous Southern Waffle House before the appointment.
Sister Tracy and I with and the Dunwoody Sisters (Dean and Ducharme) after breakfast.
My home made Oreo's which I brought to district meeting. Yum yum! :D
The next day was our last exchange. I had the opportunity to go out with Sister Thompson, who is also a new missionary. :) We had an interesting day, where nothing we did in the morning worked out, but by the afternoon I understood why. We were in Sharpsburg, trying to find any of our members or investigators who were home and not busy when we drove up to the house of Sister Matson, and amazing member who I want to be like one day. :) She is older, and she had her mother Miss Dot out sitting on a chair as sister Matson shoveled a giant pile of dirt into a wheelbarrow. IN THE MIDDLE OF A 90 DEGREE DAY. IN GEORGIA. We pulled over, got out, and told Sister Matson that she needed some help and that we would return in 30 minutes in service cloths to help her out. By 4-4:30ish we were out shoveling a huge pile of dirt into wheelbarrows and giving them to Sister Matson who was placing the dirt all over her yard. She was so grateful for the help, we could see it on her face. Afterwards, she asked us to stay for dinner where we had steak and french fries. :) Blessings of service! It's amazing how the Lord sets the day up how he needs it to be. If we had followed the Plans I had made, we probably would never of made it to Sister Matson's house, and she would have spent all day and probably the next day out in the hot sun shoveling dirt. Instead, the Lord put what seamed to me like obstacles in our path that lead to us being able to help Sister Matson. The Lord works in funny ways. :) I ended up that day tired, tan, sore, and with quite a few blisters, but so happy that I could serve someone and help the Lord in any way that I could.

This last week of the transfer has been a crazy one, but also exciting. Change and anxiety is in the air as all of us missionaries discovered who is leaving, who is leading, and who is training. Last week, we had the amazing opportunity to go to breakfast at the mission home, then have companion study there as well. While there, President showed us a talk given at the last Mission President seminar. It was given by Elder Rasband, and it was on the importance missionaries teaching Repentance. If y'all don't know, there has been a big push by the apostles ever since I came out about "Teaching Repentance, and Baptizing converts." this talk emphasized that for mission presidents. However, when we discussed the talk as a group, we talked a lot about repentance and what it means. It means to change. Turn from a natural, carnal state, and embrace a spiritual, clean, and happy new self. That is what we share to others. One scripture stood out to me when we talked. It's found in Alma 36:20-21. It's about Alma the Younger talking to his son about when he repented and what he experienced:

 20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

 21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.

What I love in particular was the last verse. That there was nothing so exquisite as were his pains, yet nothing more exquisite as was his joy in repentance. Even though Alma did a lot of bad things, he still experienced repentance, the fullness of the Atonement. However, we don't have to be as bad as Alma to experience that change. We can use the Atonement at any point in our lives, no matter how big or how small the imperfections are. We can and will experience a change form the pains of our guilt, to the relief and joy of our freedom form them. How amazing is that? And it's been given to ALL of us who are willing to take it. I love the chance this gospel gives us, and I love the joy it brings to all those who repent and come unto it. I look forward to seeing more people make the same choice as Alma did and come to this gospel to experience joy and everlasting life. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Six Month Miracles

Hey Y'all!

Can you believe that as of this Wednesday I will have been a missionary for 6 months?! Wow! the time really flies when you are doing the work. It feels like just yesterday that I entered the MTC, a fresh, green missionary who had no idea what she was doing. Now, 6 months later, I still have no idea what I'm doing half the time, but I know that my testimony has grown so much more. I also know that I have learned a lot being out here. I can't wait to see myself and in another 6 months and how much I have changed!

This past week has been so much fun! "M", our top investigator right now, has been progressing wonderfully! She is now on date to be baptized. That's right, my first person on date! :D WOOH! I have honestly never seen a person more prepared for the gospel in my life. We had a lesson with her last week, where we talked to her more about the apostasy and restoration. At the end of the lesson, she was so excited. She asked us "how come nobody else knows about this?!"  I almost laughed just from the surprise. I never had that question asked before. We went on to explain that that's the reason we have missionaries out spreading the gospel to all the world. She was so excited about it! Please continue praying for her as she continues to progress in this amazing gospel.

On Friday, we had Zone Conference where we heard lots of amazing words form our mission president, stake president, and also from a recent convert in our stake. We've never had one at a conference before, so President had him come up to the stand and answer questions then bear his testimony. The man's conversion story was absolutely amazing. Before joining the gospel, he was in gangs, dealt drugs, and even ended up in jail and prison a few times. However, he finally realized that nothing he was doing brought him happiness. He thought back to his high school days when he use to make fun of a group of Mormon kids because they always smiled. He realized that he wanted to be like them. Shortly after, he saw the missionaries. He walked up to them, gave them his number, and asked to meet with them. 2 1/2 months later he was baptized. Now he's a strong member of the church for several months, has entered the temple to do baptism's for the dead, and has a calling in his ward. We were able to ask lots of questions to him about coming into the church and his experiences as an investigator and recent convert. But perhaps the best part was that we could hear his testimony and him being there really encouraged me at least to keep working. It showed me that there really are people ready to hear the gospel, that all I need to do is keep working and following the spirit. The people will come when I do that.
Zone Conference - Sister Tracy and I are in the center

Me and Sister Eberhard
Now for a funny experience. We went on exchanges with the Newnan sisters this past week. I had the wonderful opportunity to go out with Sister Eberhard. That day we had a team up with a young member preparing to go on her mission in the winter. We went out to a trailer park where we tried to contact some investigators with little luck, but on our way back, we were passing a house that Sister Tracy and I had previously knocked at which belonged to an older black woman named "Miss M". She seamed nice when we talked with her, but couldn't pray with us because she was sick. She told us to come back, so I decided at that moment that we would! We knocked at the door, and she let us in. Wooh! Right then, she told us she wanted to pray over us. She took our hands and said a beautiful prayer! . . . Then after the prayer she touched all of our foreheads. Then things got weird. Turns out "Miss M" is a self-proclaimed Prophet! That's right, we stumbled onto a prophet! She proceeded to spend 15 minutes on me, prophesying how I would go across seas with a young man and young woman and be "surrounded by little black babies," because I was an anointed one, and then don't you know, I've been praying to do this! She said several crazy things that if I were to write down all now, would take far too long, so I'll keep my story to that. She then moved on to our team up and told her "the Lord is working on her." Apparently this sweet, funny, sister said some unkind words to her mother that she needed to seek forgiveness from. haha! Then she turned to my companion, told her that she was anemic, that her future husband would be taller than her and wear a size 12 shoes. (Sister Eberhard is maybe an inch taller than me). She also said that She would have 3 babies! 

Suffice it to say, we were really trying hard to not laugh. However crazy this experience was, it did teach us something, besides that this woman was perhaps a little crazy. It showed me the power of our living prophet, Thomas S. Monson. The entire time while we were in "Miss M's" house the spirit was not there. And although she may have said some truths, that the Lord answer's prayers for example, she was not a living prophet. The things she said we not from God in the way she may have thought it was. And although she sincerely believed she was a prophet, the spirit did not confirm to our hearts that she was. However, whenever our living prophet is seen, whenever he speaks, the spirit is instantly in my heart. He does not boast that he is the prophet, like "Miss M" did. He does not prophesy to each of us, telling us if we are anemic or how many children we will have. But he leads and guides us through the power of the spirit and Priesthood authority. He warns us of the dangers that will come if we don't follow the council of the Lord and his commandments. He reminds us of the promised blessings that await each and every one of us who keep the commandments and honor our covenants made at baptism and in the temple. This prophet, is what our world needs at this time. He is a guide though our lives, and not in the way "Miss M" was. But in a very spiritual way. Our experience with "Miss M" confirmed that truth to me more than ever. I know more than ever before that Thomas S. Monson is our modern day Prophet, seer, and revelation. He has the priesthood authority to guide and direct us in these latter-days. Him and his apostles are called of God, and are the mouth piece of the Lord. When you think about that, it truly is amazing. We don't have to stumble around in the dark, relying on our own wisdom or words of another man trying to interpret scripture in his mind. Instead, our loving Heavenly Father has given us a Prophet, Apostles, and all the tools we need to be lead and guided in these days by His spirit. I know that this is true, and I know that we can all be blessed from them.

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Me and Sister Eberhard being silly

Sister Tracy made us buttered rice with black beans, corn, and green beans. It was gross. We didn't finish it. Haha! :D
I'm not gonna let her live it down!
Pictures from Zone Conference

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Patriotic Pride

Hey Y'all!
This picture is of us in Atlanta. 
Sister Dean and I had unexpected service, so we are still in our P-day cloths. :) 
Sister Tracy and Sister Ducharm look amazing, though! :D

This past week has been pretty crazy but awesome! :D Last time I emailed, I told y'all I was going on exchanges in Atlanta. Well, I did! And it was a blast! :D The Sisters there are so much fun, and the area is progressing so well. I hope to get transferred there once in my mission. :) It would be such an honor!

President and Sister Foot with their huge baked potatoes
and a photo bombing Elder at our MLC.
Becca and other STL's eating their huge baked potatoes at MLC.

After our two-day exchange, we had Mission Leadership Council at our mission president's home. They gave us HUGE potatoes for lunch! I swear those things were as big as my forearm! No joke! Besides the big potatoes, we had a great time, spending the day with our mission president and his wife, learning so much from them. These meetings are one of the biggest reasons why I love being an STL.  

Later this week, we went out on exchanges with the Peachtree City ward sisters. We had a blast! Not to mention we had an amazing lesson with Michelle as we were out. In the morning, me and my new companion for the day went out and knocked on Michelle's door, leaving her a note. A few hours later she called us! NO ONE EVER CALLS US! :D She told us she needed to run a few errands but that she would call us back because she wanted to meet with us that day. We waited a few more hours until an hour before our dinner appointment when she finally called back. We raced to her house and had the best lesson with her! She had so many questions that we went all over answering them. The spirit was felt so strongly in the room, and to top it all off we invited her to be baptized. She accepted! :D I have never seen a person more prepared for the gospel than Michelle on my mission. We are meeting her again tomorrow for lunch and another lesson. Pray for us that she continues progressing as she is! :D 

On Sunday, we had the opportunity to start our 4th of July celebrations off with an amazing stake Choir Concert. They wen't through the whole history of the United States up through the civil war, then ended with the anthems of each section of the military. It was beautiful, and they centered it all on how the Lord had His hand in preparing this country for freedom from the beginning. :)

At the parade with the member family we found to sit with.
Yesterday was the 4th as you all know, and to celebrate, we went out to the Peachtree City Parade. My companion was sick, so I had the opportunity to head out with the Peachtree City Sisters again. :) We started off the Parade-which is probably the only parade that I will ever see which entailed more golf carts than anything else :P-with a big stack of pass-along cards that we taped to pieces of candy. We headed out almost an hour before it started and had almost NO LUCK! But then we found a member family to sit with. At about half way through the parade we gave the cards to their son and his friend who then proceeded to throw them into the parade floats where they would then be thrown out into the crowds. Best way to hand out cards EVER! :D They had so much fun doing it and we had so much fun watching them! After the parade as we were walking back to the sisters apartment, we looked to see if any of the cards were on the ground. NONE of them were. :) 

The two sister Welch's at MLC.
This past week was crazy, but amazing. I look forward to what the next week brings. One thing that really stuck out to me recently, though, is the Lord's promise of never leaving us alone. He will be with us always. He was there when this country was formed, there when the church was restored back to the earth, and he is with us now. President Foote shared with us a scripture at MLC that I think fit's this perfectly. It's in John 8:29. Christ is speaking of himself, but president related it to us.

"And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him."

I love this scripture and the statement of truth it holds. The Father will not leave us alone. As long as we do His will, he will be with us at all times. He will help us on our way, and prepare the way for us to accomplish all the things he has asked us to do. I know that the Lord is with me now, and when I go out to preach His gospel. He will be with me when I return home, as long as I continue doing the things that please Him. That is an amazing promise he has given, and a comfort that he offers all of us. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Here are some more pictures from Mission Leadership Council.