• 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.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

4th Times the Charm!

Hey Y'all!

This week has been a little different. :P For all Ya'll who don't know, I went in for my 4th oral surgery since before my mission when I had my wisdom tooth removed. To make a long story short, it was due to a recurring infection. However, that put us out of commission for a day or two. But I am so appreciative of the members who helped me out at this time. I truly do serve in the best ward. :) However, this is not something I care to relive for a 5th time so let's hope that 4 is my lucky number! But even though we were out for a few days, it didn't stop a lot of miracles from happening and work getting done.

Our first little miracle came on Wednesday, the day before my surgery. We got our first headquarters referral since April! A Headquarters referral is someone who has requested something online through one of church-run websites, or through a church add. This man, "C", requested a Bible. When someone requests something, a missionary calls them and asks if they would be okay with missionaries delivering their item along with giving them a brief lesson about the gospel and Book of Mormon. "C" was very interested in learning how the Book of Mormon could bless his life. We called him soon after receiving the referral and he was super interested! :D He asked if we cold meet on Tuesday and teach him more. Yay! :D I literally jumped up and down with excitement after getting off the phone. :) I hope and pray that he will progress and recognize the truthfulness of the gospel. :)

Another miracle happened on Saturday. We were able to attend the Baptism of one of the other wards converts. Her name is "T". I had the opportunity to teach her a few transfers ago, and sister Clark was able to teach her when she served in her last area. "T" is such a bright and happy girl, and she was so prepared to accept the gospel when it was taught to her. Seeing her get baptized was like nothing I have ever felt. The air was electric, and the spirit was so strong. I don't think anything could wipe the smile from her face. Afterwards, we hugged her and asked how she felt. She broke out into her "happy dance" and told us how excited she was to be confirmed at sacrament meeting the next day. :) This was the first convert baptism I have been to as a missionary, and I can honestly say that it is so different than any other baptism I have attend. To see these people who have finally found the gospel take a step, one that I have taken so long ago, with such excitement and determination is amazing. It made me kind of wish I could be baptized as a convert just so I could understand and feel how they feel. :)

This week has definitely been different, but in a good way. :) It has really made me set out with optimism and determination to try and find as many people as I can find and bring them to the gospel. 

I'd like to share something from my studies. I was reading in Matthew 24 about the death of Christ. Although this is a sad moment, as we read about him hanging on the cross, what struck me even more is that these people never truly realized that they were watching the Son of God die for them. It wasn't until after he died that a Centurion with some others looked around and "Watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God."

Those things were the tearing of the temple veil, the rising of many righteous from the graves to walk about the city, and the short death of Christ. All of these things pointed to even the Centurions that this was the Son of God. They trembled in fear. It is sad to me that they never realized it fully until the end, when they thought it was all over. This WAS the son of God. Christ didn't stop being the Son of God when he died, no. In a more joyous way, I'd like to rephrase what this unknowing centurion said so long ago. Because he was killed for the sins of the world, he was able to rise again form the grave three days later. Christ isn't a past person. He is ever-living. He IS. That simple fact evaded this centurion and his little group. They didn't know, and even the apostles didn't understand, that Christ would rise again. That he isn't gone permanently, and he isn't something of the past. He lives today, he is here today. And he is as current as you and I are right now. Truly this IS the Son of God. He surpasses time and death. He is forever, and his goal is to let us be forever too. :) I love that simple fact, and how it changes everything. I love my Savior, and I'm so grateful that he has chosen me to bare his name on my chest for 18 months. :) 

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Here are some pictures of a really pretty lake we saw on exchanges. :) Also some really weird looking orange mushrooms on the path to the lake. Yes, they are naturally orange REAL mushrooms. Don't ask me how they got so florescent. :P

Monday, August 15, 2016

Hiding A Refugee

Sister Ashbaker, Becca and Sister Clark

Hey Y'all!

This week has been an interesting one, but I guess what week isn't when you're a missionary? For all y'all who don't know, on Monday night/Tuesday morning Delta had a glitch in their computers that crashed the whole system, grounding a good portion of their plains and making lots of people miss or have very delayed flights. Now, you may be wondering what all of this has to do with me and my mission. You see, it just so happened that because of the crash, it left 15 new missionaries heading to the Brazil MTC and other missions there stranded at the airport. Being that the Atlanta Airport is in our mission, guess who got these little seedlings? :D That's right, us!!! So at 2:00 in the morning the assistants to the president and a few other missionaries picked these little seedlings up and took them to the mission home. The next morning they decided to put them with other companion ships since many of them didn't have another flight for a day or two. Sister Clark and I got the amazing privilege to take with us a little refugee missionary named Sister Ashbaker.  She was so sweet and amazing! I swear, this girl didn't need to go to the MTC with how well she did in the 24 hours that we were with her. :)

However, even more amazing was just before she left. I'm sure she probably was wondering why all this happened, making her stay in Georgia for a little while. But I assure you that the Lord knows EXACTLY what he is doing and why things happen the way they happen. :) We were visiting a widowed member of our ward, who's husband died in a plane accident. We introduced Sister Ashbaker, and immediately they connected on something was so surprising. You see, Sister Ashbaker has Swiss ancestry, and our member's husband was from Switzerland. It was such a tender mercy for this member. She lit up when she found out, then ran into her room and pulled out all these pictures of her husband, talking about him and his family. You could tell that Sister Ashbaker being there really touched her life and heart. That was a tender mercy extended from a knowing Lord through a sister missionary who never should have been there. :) I wish we could have kept our little refugee, but she has work to do in Brazil and I know she will be the best missionary ever! :D

This week, we also had the opportunity to do 2 sidewalk chalk pictures. The first one we drew the golden plates and the bible, writing the scripture about the stick of Judah and Stick of Joseph becoming one in our hands. The second one we decided to take the scripture from 3 Nephi (also found in Matthew 5) about being the light of the world and a city set on a hill. We drew a little city on a hill and the scripture next to it. At about part way through we looked up and noticed a young girl watching us. Sister Clark asked if she wanted to help draw buildings.
She jumped at the offer and excitedly helped draw buildings, the sky, and flowers on our mountain. Her little brother tried to draw a tornado. Haha! :D it was so cute, and the mother even took a picture of it afterwards. This family is a regular at the park, so we hope to come by when they do and draw more with these kids. :) Perhaps we can start teaching them through this way. :)

Our last miracle this week came when we were on a team up with an awesome member. :) We went to visit an investigator named "L", who we haven't been able to see for a while. We knocked at her door and she let us in! :D When we were in, we talked a little, and shared with her a little bit about the plan of salvation. She was very excited about it, and even said that she was going to teach it in her Sunday school class at her church. haha! :D We found out that on top of her reading the Book of Mormon and loving it, her daughter has started too. To top off this great visit, she told us about a little homeless girl who was very enthusiastic about church. Her and a small group of other homeless children have been attending their church and wanted to get baptized. "L" then turned to us and asked if there were any baptism's going on at our church soon that they could take them to. I was all, um YES!!!!! It just so happens that we are having a convert baptism on Saturday the 20th at another ward. She was all "Can we go to it?" And we were like "HECK YES!!!" It's funny that they would ask to come to our church to see a baptism, but hey, maybe they will feel the spirit super strongly and the whole church will be baptized. That would be a cool story. Haha! :D Please pray that they will make it to this baptism!

This week has been full of crazy things happening. I wish I could share all the fun and amazing miracles and experiences I have every day, but that would take too long. Instead, I'll just stick with this and leave y'all with a scripture that I found while studying. We will be having interviews with our mission president this week and he asked all his missionaries to study John 15-16 in preparation for our interviews. As I was reading, I came a cross a scripture that really hit me. It is John 15: 16, 19:

"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain. . .
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."

These scriptures really hit me when I read them. This is Christ talking to his disciples, and I felt it really related to me as a missionary and member of the church in general. I have been chosen, and ordained that I might bring more people to the fruit of the gospel. That they may taste of the same fruit and live forever with our Father in Heaven and Savior. My calling is not of this world, it is of heaven. Therefor, many people will persecute and hate me for what I do. I will be yelled at, I will be argued with. I will be told that what I am going out to preach is vain and evil and that I should turn back. But I won't. I can't. For the Lord has called me to be here and this time, in this place. I was plucked from the world and placed here to help others who are in need to hear the message I am sharing. What a great calling it is I have now to be a missionary.

However, this doesn't just stop at missionary work. It continues on. Each of us have been chosen of God for a special calling here on Earth. If you don't believe me, read your patriarchal blessing. Heavenly Father has a special purpose for each of you. :) But Satan doesn't want us to know that. He sends the world to try and beat us down and tell us that what we are doing is dumb, or useless. That there is no God. That we don't need to be baptized or live worthy to enter the temple to receive saving ordinances. His goal is to pull us down so that we are part of the world. But we are children of God, in His restored church. We have all been chosen out of this world to be examples. We may be persecuted. Our pioneer ancestors already have been, some of us continue to be, even now. But we can continue on with an assurance that we are part of something much better, much grander than the world. This is of heaven. I know that, and I hope y'all remember that as you pass through this week. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Pictures from temple day and zone training 2 weeks ago.

Pictures are of our chalk art wonders. :)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Just the Right Timing

Hey Y'all!

This week we went to the temple! :D It is such a great experience to go to the temple, and each time we go I am increasingly grateful for having a temple in my mission. It brings so many blessings and gives me a sense of comfort and relief every time I enter its doors. And that is what I really needed after working all day every day in the hot Georgia sun!
However, the blessings of the temple didn't just stop when we left. After our trip, Sister Clark and I decided to draw the Atlanta Temple in chalk at the same park we drew the Plan of Salvation at. We spent a long time that evening trying to make it great. Many people walked by and complimented us, but none were interested. Discouraged, but hopeful, we walked away with the determination to go out the next day and see if anyone was interested.
The following day was gloomy and looked on the verge of down pouring all day long. We hoped and prayed that it wouldn't. That evening we got out to the park and decided to sing hymns next to our temple. We sang for a good 40 minuets or more, and yet nothing. But the Lord doesn't let any of our efforts go in vain. As we were backing out of our parking spot, one of the men who had walked by came up to my companion and asked us what songs we were singing. He thanked us for the music and told us to come back more often to do that. We gave him a card and would have done more, but we were blocking traffic. We hope to see him again! :D Until then, he has our number. That was a big testimony builder to me that our efforts never go wasted. 

We also had another faith-building experience, that came this weekend. On Saturday night, one of our elders called and told us to come by and visit this woman named "B". They had tracted into her and apparently she had met with sister missionaries before and wanted to meet again. We were already pretty excited. :) So on Sunday, as we were heading home from church, we decided to drop by "B"'s house. We knock at her door and her daughter answers it. Immediately she asks, "Did my mom call you?" We were all "ummm.... no?" Her mother came down shortly after, affirming what we told her. It was then that she got excited. They let us in, and Beth asked us to pray with them. We asked what we could pray for and she said her daughters health. She had been having several panic attacks that was developing into an issue. We prayed, and afterward I shared my testimony and story of my anxiety problems which were similar to hers. She was in tears by the end of the lesson. We gave them a pass-along card and she invited herself to church, and also gave us her number to come by again! :D That was such an amazing miracle! As we were getting ready to leave, the two of them kept telling us that we have touched their lives today and that they knew we were sent here for them. I can't wait to teach these two! :D It really showed me that the Lord puts us in the right places at the right times.

Later on yesterday, we dropped by a member family who we were dropping cookies off to. The husband, Brother Galli, was there with an old mission companion form when they served in this mission 30 years ago. We had the opportunity to listen to their amazing stories and testimonies that the Lord puts His missionaries in the right places at the right times. That was a further testimony to me that this is truly a heavenly work. At the end, they asked us to sing "Praise To the Man," my favorite hymn. As we sang, the spirit filled the room so sweetly and powerfully. It testified to me that this is truly the everlasting gospel. And what we are doing out here is the Lord's work to help his children return to live with him again. We have a prophet now, and one that through the power of God restored His church to the earth again. "Hail to the prophet, ascended to heaven! Traitor and tyrants shall fight him in vain." That is so true even now. Thanks to a loving Heavenly Father, though a modern prophet, he has set for his gospel to spread to every corner of the earth and make it possible for us to live with him again. I'm grateful to know this truth, and to be able to share it with others as a missionary and member on this glorious church. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Aunty Jan, a sister in Becca's ward, sent these pictures of Becca and Sister Clark with her recently converted niece Rachelle.  Janet is raising her niece and nephew after their mother, her sister, passed away.

Here are a TON of pictures of this week! :D First off, we saw an armadillo! A live one! :D Usually we see them as roadkill. We also saw some cool moths and mushrooms. :) Then are some pictures of us at the temple and of some of the beautiful flowers at the temple. :) Lastly, is the drawing of the temple we did. The temple is brought to you by Sister Clark! The crooked writing is by me. :P Haha! :D 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Chalk Art Fun and Library Books

Hey Y'all!

This week has been a little slower on the investigator side. You see, the problem with Flatcreek is that everybody works for Delta, which means in the summer and especially the last weeks before school starts, EVERYBODY IS GONE. -.- Sister Clark and I had in mind at the beginning of the week to focus on finding new investigators. . . That, didn't go too well. However, in trying to find more people, we expanded our finding ideas. :) What we decided to do on Wednesday was--you guessed it--chalk art! :D We went to the local park in Tyron with a box of sidewalk chalk and drew a huge Plan or Salvation. It was so big you couldn't fit it all in one picture! :D We were covered in chalk and sweat, but had lots of fun doing it! :D Unfortunately, that day we didn't find anyone who was interested, even when we were doing the chalk. However, the Elders decided to go take a look at it later that evening and found 2 new investigators! At least we are helping the work progress. :) 

On Friday, we decided to go about a much more conventional method of finding people. Knocking doors. We knocked from around 3:30 to 6:30, with no luck! My knuckles were so sore! -.- We only had one person who told us to come back and pray, so hopefully she will let us teach her the gospel. :)

On Saturday, we were able to help out at a Charter Elementary School that is opening up in a few weeks. Us and a big group of other missionaries along with volunteers built fences, moved furniture, painted walls, and set up a a library. Sister Clark and I worked in the Library, taking donated books and placing little pouches in the back for students to check them out. We were there for a good while, but it was lots of fun. :) The people were so grateful for the help that we offered and were so excited to see all of us missionaries there to work.

However, by Sunday, we were pretty discouraged. We had worked all week to find people, to see our investigators, and to see members, but found NO ONE! -.- However, the Lord really knows when to lift us up and help us out. :) Earlier last week stumbled across some Addiction Recovery booklets that the church put out. I looked at them and instantly thought of a potential investigator we had who said he wanted to quit drinking alcohol. This man and his wife--"T" and "J"-- were going through a harder time. "T" lost his job, and he felt the increasing guilt of his drinking problem weighing him down. When we saw him, we told them about a 12 step program that the church did for addiction recovery, but didn't know anything about it. However, we talked about the restored gospel, and they took a Book of Mormon and Restoration pamphlet, even though they said they were devout Catholics. 

When I found this booklet I was excited. :) But, I kept forgetting to put it in the car and take it on team ups! So on Sunday, I noticed the booklet sitting on the table. We decided to go take it to them. We were only able to see "J", but when we gave her the booklet and told her we would find out more about our program she was very touched. She looked about to cry! She hugged both of us and thanked us repeatedly. It was such a sweet moment. :) We talked with her more about how we would be willing to go through the program with them too, and that to help them understand more we would like to teach them more about the church. She agreed and we set up to come by for our first visit on Saturday! It was amazing to see how the Lord really prepared this family. He put them in a situation that humbled them enough, then sent His missionaries to help them. I look forward to teaching "T" and "J" and helping "T" to overcome his addictions.

This experience showed to me first-hand that the Lord is in this work. He doesn't let any effort go wasted. Even if it feels at that time that maybe he isn't hearing our prayers or seeing our efforts, His work and His blessings will come. It took us a whole week to finally have success, but we did. The Lord answered my prayers to find someone who is prepared. He will guide us and lead us to in everything that we have. So, even if you are in the middle of a huge trial, and maybe you don't feel like the Lord is listening to you, or even realizes how hard you are working, or praying, I promise you that He is listening. He will bless you, so hang on. Hold on to the promise and hope that he gives us in the scriptures. Hold on to the words of the prophets and apostles. And don't give up, even if it feels like that's the only option left. The Lord will be there, and He will rescue you. Keep your faith, and most of all, don't forget that you are a beloved child of God. :)

Y'all Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Most of these pictures are of our chalk-art fun! :D We plan this week to draw the Atlanta temple, wish us luck!  The last picture is of a moth. Yes, that's a moth, not a leaf. It was BIG!!!! :D

Becca said this moth was about 4 inches!

Celebrating Pioneer Day

Becca with her new companion, Sister Clark.
Hey Y'all!

So yesterday was Pioneer Day, yay! :D And it seams as though my whole week was themed to it. First off, transfers went almost exactly as my mission president told me. :) I'm second half training an amazing missionary, Sister Clark. She is so excited to do the work and ready to serve to the best of her abilities. :D What was unexpected was that I had to stay at transfer announcements longer because I was a new trainer and needed training myself, haha! :D So here I am now, pioneering myself as a new Trainer. :) 

What happened next took me back to my Trek days. :) It all starts with us needing to bring our car in to the shop for a defect. We had gone to see the dealership the week before, but they kept my companion and a sister she was out on exchanges there for 7 hours! Then sent them home saying they didn't have the parts and that they needed to come back the next week. They set up the appointment for Friday morning at 7 am. The dealership is in a town called Morrow, about an hours drive from PTC. So Sister Clark and I got up on Friday and took the car to the dealership. They told us it would take all day to fix, so we decided to call some sisters in the area to go out on exchanges with them. :) It just so happened they were taking their car into another dealership that morning too, so on their way they dropped by and picked us up. We ended up at the other dealership with no cars, but a GPS! The two sisters, Sister Fennwick and Sister Washburn who I came out with, had the idea to do some studies at the church which was 3 miles away. So off we went! :)
However, about half way through the walk, we get a call from our car dealership saying they still didn't have the part and that we needed to return and pick up the car. From where we were, that dealership was 2.7 miles away. So what did we do?! We turned around and walked to our car dealership! In total, we walked over three miles in about 2 hours. It was hot, and the grass on the side of the road was wet, but we had fun doing it! :D That was just our little way of celebrating Pioneer Day I guess. It really made me appreciate those pioneers who trekked across the states in the hot sun. 

The last thing that happened is that we got rained on. A TON. Which is typical for Georiga, however I don't think I've gotten so wet in such a short amount of time! We were on the porch of an old investigator named "P" who had questions about the restoration. We were in the process of placing a Book of Mormon with her when it hit. A huge thunder storm that decided to dump buckets came down. After we were done with "P", we ran to our car, but by the time we got there, we were already soaked! We decided to drive to a Less Active's house, and while pulling into his driveway we met a man and talked to him, but you see, I was so excited that I didn't grab an umbrella and the man didn't have one, so in a few minutes I was dripping wet! by the time we got home there was no helping me. The next day we went all day without rain, and just as were heading home the same thing happened! I ended up running from our car to our apartment, which drenched me! I just can't imagine how those pioneers felt pulling wagons, with no relief from the rain and sun and elements. It makes me increasingly grateful for their sacrifice so that I could be here on a mission and have all the blessings of being raised in the gospel with an amazing family. 

As we take this time to remember our pioneer ancestors, it really makes me marvel how much trust they put in the Lord. They didn't give up when it got hard, and instead pushed forward, Trusting that the Lord knew what He was doing and that soon they would find rest and peace. It reminds me of a scripture in Alma, when Alma the Younger is talking to his son Helaman. Alma 36:27-28

27 And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me.

 28 And I know that he will raise me up at the last day, to dwell with him in glory

I love that Alma says that he trusted the Lord and was delivered out of all his trials, but that he continues to trust in the Lord even now, through whatever he is going through. He, like the pioneers, trusted the Lord to deliver him from death, from "all manner of afflictions" and continued to trust in Him. I am forever grateful for those ancestors that I have who trusted in the Lord enough to leave their homes and all their comforts to travel with the saints to Utah. I can only imagine the hardships they had, and the trials they were put through, some passed on to the spirit world, and some lived to see the Salt Lake Valley. However, I don't doubt that they all had faith and trust. They knew their reward, just like Alma did. That if they trusted long enough, they would live with God in glory again.
I look up to our amazing ancestors and pioneers both in the past and here in the present. I hope one day to have the strength and faith to trust in the Lord as completely as they did. And I can't wait to thank them in person when we are all living in Glory together with our Heavenly Father. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

These are a bunch of pictures of us walking to the car dealership. Sister Washburn is the one taking the pictures. Sister Clark is in Red, and Sister Fennwick is in the front of the line. The tallest one. :) 
Yes those are headstones.  I know, right?!