• 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.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing!

Hey Y'all!

So this week was pretty amazing. :) To start it off, we had Zone Conference. It was an amazing experience, especially since it was all about faith. The faith to accomplish our goals. The faith to find, teach, and baptize. The faith to basically be a missionary and know that God is going to help us. I didn't really realize it, but this message was exactly what I needed. This area, however amazing, is still very new. We don't have many investigators and it has been a little frustrating to go out and work with little success. However, as we were in this conference we listened to a talk by Elder Anderson to mission presidents. He told them to have their missionaries keep praying for and expecting baptisms as we go out. He told the story of some missionaries who took the challenge of their mission president to pray for and expect a baptism by the end of the month. Miraculously, they got one the last day of the month! As we listened to this, the thought came to my companion and I's mind that we should do the same thing for this transfer. We left that meeting with renewed vigor to go out and find that one person to teach and baptize by the end of this transfer. :)

And I hope by thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

So we set out, faith high to accomplish our goals and find the one person. The first two days, well they didn't end as we had expected. We worked hard. During weekly planning we talked a long time about our goals and what we felt we could accomplish. On Wednesday we found one or two okay potentials but they weren't interested in meeting us. But we didn't let it get us down!

Jesus Sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God.

On Friday things took a complete 180! We scheduled out to go an tract a TON. Like more than I have ever tracted in my mission. But our hopes were high to find people and we set out. We first contacted a referral from a member. His name is "M" who lives across the street with his fiance. We pulled over at the side of the house and before we could even walk up the steps a man came out. He was "M"! :D We talked with him, and told him that we heard he had just moved in and wanted to know if he would like to hear a message about Christ. He asked what kind of message and we gave a very brief restoration. He agreed with everything! :D He even talked about how it would be important to have Christs original church back on the earth. We were super excited! :D He asked about the Book of Mormons we were holding and said he saw a Spanish version in the house they were renting from relatives. He wanted to read it but it was in Spanish. We gave him and English copy and talked more about it. :) He then told us to call him and set up a time for us to come back! How cool?! :D

After an amazing start to our day, it just got better. We went tracting on this once street and found so many people! One was even a lady who was taking the lessons but stopped. Her daughter died recently and she wanted to know what our belief was on the Plan of Salvation. We talked a while with her and she told us she wanted to attend church some time. :D  By the end of the day our spirits were high and we had exceeded three of our goals we set for the day!

He, to rescue me form danger,
interpose His precious blood.

This week has truly been a test of faith. However, no week as a missionary isn't a test of faith. :) We work hard, trying with all our might to bring souls back home. Sometimes, well a lot of the time, we experience rejection. At the end of zone conference we watched a video to missionaries about the Atonement. Elder Holland speaks at one point and, like usual, is super powerful. :) He says the reason he believes that missionary work is so hard, is because "Salvation was not a cheep experience." Jesus Christ atoned for us all. He suffered for us all. We are declaring that, but it won't be easy. The atonement wasn't easy. We need to understand even a fraction of that sorrow that he felt to really know the beauty of this plan. Missionary work isn't suppose to be easy. It's suppose to be hard. But the rewards are the sweet fruits of everlasting life for us and those who do listen and follow Christ. We really are being richly blessed, but we have to experience these hard trials as missionaries to appreciate the blessings. I know that's true, and I know that as long as we keep working we will see more miracles. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Cute little kitten snuggling on my foot.  Too bad I'm allergic to him.
Hey everyone! Hobbits! :D

Just for my dad. They have a leprechaun street. :D
The ghetto way of road signs. ;)
In these last two pictures we got lost in down-town Atlanta heading home from a doctors appointment! :O

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief--Our Final Testimony!

Google Maps street view of Becca's apartment.
She lives in a barn that has been converted into an apartment at the end of this drive way.  If you look close you can see it!

Hey Y'all!

So this week has been a little crazy. But what day in missionary life isn't? :) It's been full of ups and downs and diagonals and sideways and every direction in between. :) But in the end, we made it through another awesome week. :)

The first thing we did was visit an eternigator, a woman who's husband is a member. Her name is "K". She is supper sweet, but at this stage in her progression she has asked us to find evidence both in the Bible and in other standard works to prove every principle we teach investigators. It was very long and hard work, but we completed the first lesson and gave it to her on Wednesday. She seemed very appreciative and touched that we would go to all that work to help her out, and she promised to look through it before our next meeting with her. We plan to do this with all the lessons, which is long and hard, but I feel will be totally worth it. I know that the Lord won't let those efforts go to waist. :) Already he lined someone else up who could use it. We knocked on the door of a less active member we had never met but had wanted to meet with us. We talked a while on her front porch and she expressed a lot of doubts about the Book of Mormon and other principles of the church that she never quite understood before her baptism 2 years ago. At that moment the thought of what we were doing for "K" came into our heads and we told her we would give her a copy of all the scriptures as well, so that she can understand better. It was really cool, and she started getting much more excited. :)

Later that day we also had a crazy miracle. We were tracting a street before dinner with a member. The first man who opened the door said he appreciated what we did but no thanks, and that went rather consistently with the rest of the street if they opened the door. In fact, that went rather consistently with the whole day. But we pushed forward and tracted as much as we could before we had to leave. As we left, the man we first met was walking out of his house. He waved at us at first, then stopped, then waved to pull us over. We stopped and had a really good conversation with him. :) He asked us why we decided to go on missions and what they consisted of. He asked a lot about what we believe as well. We soon found out that he is a Jehovah Witness Missionary with his wife. However, he was very interested in what the church taught. We answered his questions as best we could and offered to teach him the 5 lessons and give him a Book of Mormon. He declined both, saying that he would find the book online and read it there. He didn't take a card with our number either, but I hope he reads the Book of Mormon and prays about it. :) It was such a cool miracle!

The Savior stood before mine eyes.
he spake, and my poor name he named, . . ."

We also had great success with a less-active woman named "J". She is this spunky southerner who LOVES the missionaries and can sing like none other! She has been coming back into the church for a little while now, and has even given up drinking coffee again, hopefully for the final time. :) We visited her last week and she talked about how because she was now living the word of wisdom she could ask for a limited use temple recommend to baptize for the dead! :D She had never been in the temple except at an open house a long time ago, which she loved. She was so excited about this and even had us help call to set up an appointment with the bishop. On Sunday night, after a long day where we ended up dropping two of our investigators, including one who said she wanted to stop the lessons for now while she "researched". . . Anyway, after that long day, Miss "J" called us all excited. She had her recommend! :D She will be going to the temple on October 7th! We are so excited for her!

"Of me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto me."

I don't have a lot more time, but I just wanted to leave y'all with the reason why I put "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" in my letter today. Tomorrow we will be singing as a district a medley that Sister Williams and I put together for Zone Conference. It is to the tune of this song. :) As I was reading through it to practice the melody for our practices I noticed these verses and thought they went really well with a scripture that really touched me this week. It is from D&C 76:22 "And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!"

In this verse the person did not recognize the savior, but in the end he realized this was Jesus Christ. And that he lives! After all that he did for Him, the savior revealed himself to him and told him good job! This goes with our last testimony. The one revealed to that man in this song and to Joseph in this scripture. That he lives! Our savior lives and will soon reign over us all in peace and glory! It's amazing! And I'm so glad and feel so privileged to proclaim this!

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Rebecca is living in Austell Georgia and serves in the Hiram LDS Ward which includes both towns. Here are pictures of both.
Downtown Hiram Georgia
Downtown Austell Georgia

Friday, September 9, 2016

I Like to Look for Rainbows Whenever There is Rain!

Hey Y'all!

So I know y'all are probably wondering, and I'll tell you. I have been sent to the Hiram Ward! :D This is in the furthest stake north in my mission. Hiram was created about 2 months ago after several ward/stake changes disintegrated the old wards and they re-organized new ones. It is COMPLETELY different from Flatcreek. It's more rural, not filled with mansion-sized houses, and the ward has many more older families than in Flatcreek. Oh and most importantly, there are no golf carts. :P Haha! :D We are living in a re-modeled barn behind our landlady's house. It's a really nice place. :)

My new companion is a sister that I sat with on the plane when we came to Atlanta. Sister Williams! :D We weren't in the same district, but came out together. She has been here a transfer longer than me, and neither of us have any idea who anyone is! We have about 4 investigators. But one is progressing. Her name is "J". :)

My companion met "J" last transfer, but she didn't progress much until we went by the day after transfers. Funny story, "J" lives on a hill. On the side of a really busy street. We didn't want to park on it cause it was scary so we went to this little duplex community about a block down and parked there. We didn't have out umbrellas and it was raining lightly, but we thought we could get there and back without much problem. However, as we walked closer to "J's" house, it started raining harder and harder until we finally got under her porch. It DUMPED rain. We knocked on her door and her son answered, told us she was asleep on the couch. She woke up long enough to tell us to come back the next day at around noon. We said okay, closed the door and looked into the wall of rain. And so we walked, to our car. Without umbrellas. By the time we got to the car we were literally soaked to the bone! We decided that it happened because we were demonstrating how one should look after baptism. :) Soaked through, not a partical dry. We then went to the church and rung out our skirts. And hair. And shoes. Just everything. :P Oh, Georiga rain. :P

Anyway, we went back to see "J" the next day and taught a great restoration lesson! We invited her to baptism and she said yes! We set up a return appointment for Sunday and left. NOT IN THE RAIN. Haha! :D When we came back, she had read through all the questions and scripture answers in the back of the pamphlet! We taught her about the Plan of Salvation with her two sons and she ate it up! I can't wait to see her and her family progress in the gospel! :D

We have had so may miracles this week, and I wish I could talk about them all. But I'm running out of time. However, I would like to talk about one other one. This miracle is pretty cool. :) As I mentioned before, we are both new to the area, and therefore don't know anyone. We spent a good part of our day on Sunday finding less active members and seeing if they are interested. We knocked at the door of a woman named Sister Tripplet. Her daughter-in-law opened the door and got her. We sat outside and talked with her for a while, and it turns out she really isn't less-active. :) She wasn't able to come to early church due to medical reasons and has really been missing going. She told us about her conversion in Washington. How her whole family is strong in other faiths, has pastors in other faiths. And she went against them all and joined the church. They tried to convince her not to, but 3 weeks after she met the missionaries she was baptized. At one point a group of pastors took her aside and tried to convince her not to join the church. She prayed and was given the spirit to testify and quote scriptures from the bible which she studied extensively. By the end, she had converted one of the pastors! That's a strong testimony! :D Sadly, her family still didn't approve and she left Washington and after several moves, she ended up here in Hiram. We were amazed by her story and I personally admire her for sticking up like that. She knew what was true, and wouldn't let anything dissuade her.

I really wish I had more time, but I just don't. :/ So I'll leave y'all with my testimony. I know that Heavenly Father is there for all of us. :) He helps us through trials. He knows where he puts each and every one of us. It's not an accident that we are where we are. There is someone we need to touch, and there is someone that needs to touch us. So don't get discouraged. Don't get depressed. The Lord knows all. And he will help you, even when you are feeling at a free-fall. He never lets us hit the ground hard. Not as long as we rely on him.

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch.

We went to the temple today! :D Here is me and Sister Williams and the members that took us. :D

The last three pictures are of this crazy Wreath we saw on a door. People in Georgia like Wreaths. :P 

And the last picture is of this weird hammer or pick-axe at the parking lot of the library. WEIRD.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Be Still My Soul

Hey Y'all!

I know this probably sounds like a typical missionary phrase, but this has been a CRAZY week! To start off, on Wednesday we found out that we would be getting a wonderful sister Missionary to add to our companionship. Her name is Sister Leyba, and she came to stay with us until transfer day because her companion was going home. When we found out the day before I was pretty excited, I have served with sister Leyba before, in fact, she was in my first three districts and was my STL once. That was such a fun time, she is an amazing missionary who loves to serve the Lord. :) However, that meant that we have been covering two areas, Flatcreek and her ward which is right next door, Fayetteville. I thought that alone would be crazy enough!

However, as I have mentioned before, it's transfer week! :D And yes, I got a call on Saturday, telling me to pack my bags, they are kicking me out of Flatcreek and having Sister Clark take over! Now on top of double covering, I am leaving and wish to see all those members and investigators who have touched my heart. :) It will be bittersweet to leave my first area  after being here for over 7 months, but I'm excited to explore more of the mission. :)

But the Lord just wasn't done with us yet. The cherry on top came this morning when we got a call from our mission president, who had decided to change his mind a little. I'm still leaving, Sister Leyba is still going back to Fayetteville, but he decided to close down Flatcreek for Sister Missionaries. Sister Clark will now be transferred to the Peachtree City Ward where they will be double covering for a little while. So now, instead of me  and sister Leyba packing our bags, it's all of us packing bags and boxes and moving stuff out of our apartment. :P This came as a surprise to me, and I honestly am not sure why he chose to close down our area. There are several people, both members and investigators, who sisters have been working with. They just like us better or can usually only have sisters over. It seams odd to me, but I'll do my best and trust in the Lord. He know's what is best for this area. And if that means what's best is closing it down for a time, then so be it I guess. :)

So as you can tell, we have had a less than normal week to say the least. :P However, there have been such cool miracles and tender mercies of the Lord. I would especially like to talk about one. As I have mentioned every week this transfer, Sister Clark and I have been drawing at a park in Tyrone every week. I'll be honest, I thought that we would have gotten one investigator from this new finding effort, but we weren't seeing any progress. To dampen our spirits more, it has rained the day of or the day after several of our chalk-art sessions, ruining our art before people could really see it. A particularly depressing one came this past week when we drew the Gospel of Jesus Christ and an Iron rod with the tree of life from Lehi's dream in 2 Nephi. It looked BEAUTIFUL! and it was big and noticeable. The next day at around 2 or 3 we had a rainstorm like never before. It rained so hard I couldn't see the road in front of me! This is perhaps the only time I have ever hated a rain storm. -.- Our chalk-art was ruined and it felt as if all our work had gone to waste. I was wondering why we even did it, or why the Lord let our efforts go to waste like that. 

But the Lord always keeps His promises, just not in the way we may think. That night, we were sitting in our apartment when we got a call from one of the Elders serving in our area. We answered the phone and they told us about a crazy miracle from a man who had seen our chalk-art every week. He had passed us by every week as we drew, and even commented on our work. The elders found him later, and he commented on the art. The man had missionaries teach him the discussions before but never got subjected to some anti information and dropped them. But when he saw us doing the art, he got curious again. He wanted to know about what we drew and what our church teaches. They set up a return appointment and will be teaching that man the 5 PMG lessons. :) When I heard that I was so happy. Sure, Sister Clark and I haven't gotten any investigators, and it took the whole transfer for us to finally know. I know now that if we hadn't been doing that every week, that man probably wouldn't be prepared to receive the Gospel. I'm sad I won't be here to see him progress or to even see how it ends up, but I'm glad to know that our work did a little to hope in his progression. :)

This week has definitely been a Hurricane of events. And I mean a Hurricane. I have had so many reminders that God is in control. As I was thinking of what I should title my next letter, a hymn popped into my head. "Be Still My Soul." I looked it up on lds.org and read the 
lyrics. The last verse I think really applies to this week, and to our lives in general. I'd like to dissect it a little.

" Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as he has the past."

I don't know about y'all, but sometimes-well, more like many times I feel as though my soul is caught up in a storm. As a missionary, when we have a crazy week I often wonder what is going to happen next? How on earth will anything work out? When will the storm end and the waters finally calm. However, we need to remember to let our souls be still. Anchor them with the gospel, and let the lord guide our souls through the stormy seas.We will eventually see calm waters, but only when we trust in Him. 

"Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;"

In life, there are so many things to shake our hope and confidence. So many trials enter our lives and different twists and turns take us on roads perhaps we never even thought we would travel. And then, that bright eyed confidence in our savior and in Heavenly Father shakes. As with Peter when he walked on the sea, he was confident, until he looked at the storm around him and began to sink. Then he reached out to the savior, who immediately saved him. Although my confidence in finding and working as hard as I can, wavered, the Lord reached out his hand of mercy. Whenever we experience moments of weak hope or confidence, we can look to the savior and ask for his arm of mercy to be extended. He will be ready and waiting. :)

"All now mysterious shall be bright at last."

Although we may not know why some things happen in life, we do know that one day we will understand. Weather that is in this life, or when we come to live with Heavenly Father again, we will know. There are so many things that happen to me and have happened this week that I just don't understand why the Lord is doing it. But I have the faith to know that whatever will happen will be exactly what needed to happen. Perhaps I'll never know, why it needed to be that way, but I do know that it did. And one day it will all be made "bright at last."

"Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below."

Finally, we can have our souls stilled with the knowledge that Heavenly Father controls the waves and winds of our lives. He has simply asked us to trust in Him. To trust in the Atonement. To trust in the Eternal Plan that He has set out for each and every one of us. That seams simple, right? Just trust Him, believe that He knows what to do. But that is hard for us to do sometimes. While reading this hymn, I looked up a scripture that was linked to in D&C 101:16 "Be still and know that I am God." He is God, and we can let our souls rest in his presence, even when the storms of tribulation threaten to tip us over. 

I love my mission. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else than out here serving the people. :) And although there are so many crazy twists and turns, I know that the Lords will is going to be done, no matter what.

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Okay, first off, look at this GINORMOUS SPIDER!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was in the front of one of our investigators houses!!!!!!! :O We were terrified of it.