• 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, October 26, 2016

Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy

Hey Y'all!

Yup, it's me, Sister Welch. :) I may not be on the mission now, but I still have many miracles. Here is an update on the temporary home life!

From His light-house ever more..."

First off, a medical update for all those who wish to know. I am having my first jaw surgery this Wednesday. They will find out if the infection got into the bone and find the best anti-biotic that can treat it. If the infection does not return in the next 2 months, then I can return to Atlanta Georgia! If it doesn't, they will do surgery again and remove the molar closest to the site which should solve the problem and give the site more room to heal wihtout getting infeced again. If so, then I can return 2 months after that surgery. I am also having a sinus surgery to repaire a deviated septum adn clean out my sinus's in hopes of stopping my frequent sinus infections and making it easier for me to breath. Wooh! :D

"But to us he gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore."

After my return home, I went out to eat dinner with my parents and Great Grandmother who is turning 94 on Wednesday. She is still so healthy and lives all by herself in a 3 story condo. I can't believe she is still so strong! We had such a good time with her as she shared stories from her childhood and meeting her husband. It was a great opportunity to see her again so soon. :)

"Let the lower lights be burning;
Send a gleam across the wave."

I had the wonderful opportunity to go to a plethora of doctors appointments, and also to spend some time with my good friend Sister Palmer who has also returned early from her mission to the Atlanta North Mission due to health reasons. The highlight of our time together was when we went to the Bountiful temple to do endowments. It was my first time doing a session in this temple and I was in awe at how big it was! I guess I'm still used to Atlanta's small size. When I entered the rooms my jaw almost dropped. Haha!

I was also recruited to give a talk in a different ward with a departing missionary. It was so much fun to talk with her about going out. She was very excited and very nervous. It reminded me of how I felt 9 months ago. It was a very exciting time, but also a very scary time. But I wouldn't trade the last 9 months for the world.

"Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save."

In preparation for my talk I studied a lot on love at home. I realized how much I have seen the Lord's love for all of His children. I never realized how much he cared for each individual until I set out to teach all of them the gospel. Heavenly Father puts those special people in our paths just so that they can have another opportunity to accept the living gospel. How amazing is that?! I love this gospel, I loved being his servant and I can't to head back out and be his full-time servant again. Until then, I'll do his will here. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Lead Kindly Light

Hey Y'all!

"Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom;
Lead thou me on!"

So this past week has been unexpected in many ways. There have been a lot of changes, and some of them have perhaps not been as happy. Others are more bitter sweet. But one thing I know for sure is that God leads us and this work. He will guide us where we need to be. :)

So first off, on Wednesday we had an interesting day. First, we attended the funeral of a member family's son who died while serving for the military in Korea. It was a very bittersweet day for this poor family. Just after learning about his death, their daughter returned from her mission. I can't imagine coming home to that, and I am glad that wasn't me. However, the family remembered the simple messages of hope found in the gospel. That they would see their brother again. Death isn't the end. And that they were sealed to him for time and all eternity. I hope these principles continue to give them peace, comfort, and guidance as they go through this process. 

The same day we attended this funeral, we dropped by "S'" house. There we found the miracle aunty who looked very upset. She was planning on taking "S'" 8 year old daughter "K" away. Why? Because drugs were found at the apartment in an easy to reach place and she was left home alone. This was very upsetting news. The grandmother "D" was extremely upset about the situation. We talked with her for a little, and made her a promise that if she read 10 minutes in the Book of Mormon every day she would feel the light and hope at the end that there is in the gospel. She readily agreed. We also asked if she wanted to quit smoking, if there was a better way to feel calm. She said yes enthusiastically. By the end, we had called the Elders and asked them to come by and give her a blessing that night. It was a very sweet and tender experience. 

"The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on!"

The next day was pretty amazing. It was hump day! :D Yup, I hit my 9 month mark along with my companion and one of our STL's, Sister Lunt. We had an exciting day and everything was great. I had a doctors appointment so not much was done, but that was okay. We celebrated. :)
However, at the end of the night President and Sister Foote called, concerned. I have another infection in my jaw. They were considering sending me home. 

Friday was very stressful, there was much I had to do with doctor notes being transferred and whatnot. We also found out that Sister "J" got into anti material. By the end of the day I got the dreadful call from my mission president. They are sending me home to find out what is wrong. I had until after our stake conference to pack and say goodbye. My companion and I were very sad to hear the news. We were so excited to stay together. The next two days I packed and said goodbye to all those I have grown to love in Hiram.

Saturday we did our last chalk-art together. :) We drew Christ coming to the Americas. Many people loved our chalk and complimented. It was an amazing experience.

Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene--one step enough for me.-- 

On Monday I boarded a plane. Headed away from a place I had called home for 9 months. During this whole experience I felt a sadness leaving those I loved. However, I knew it was for the best. I asked the Lord to lead and guide me. Give me just enough to see one step in front of me. And He did that. :) I made it to my plane. I made it to my parents. I made it home. And eventually, I'll make it back to dear old Atlanta Georgia to finish my mission. This is not the end, I know the Lord just needs me to do here. 

During this unsettled time, I found comfort in a scripture I found while studying in Mark. I had just finished reading about Christ feeding the 5,000, and got to the point where he was waking on the sea towards his apostles who were struggling with the winds. When they first saw him, they were afraid. But he called out to them as he walked closer and said:

"Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid."

That scripture hit me with force. Christ is with us. Sometimes we see trials as terrifying, like me going home. However, they are there to make us more like Christ. We need to recognize where he is in our lives. Sometimes he is right in front of us, walking on our spiritually turbulent waters. His message is plane and simple. Be of good cheer... be not afraid. Don't fear the trials ahead. Don't fear what might happen. Look to Him. Let him guide you. Take a step of faith into the waters, and know that if you start to sink, He will catch you. I learned that lesson as I was preparing to go home and even now. We cannot be afraid of what lies ahead. Just look to our loving savior and He will never let us falter, never let us fall farther than he can reach. That is an amazing promise, and one that I'd like to leave any who may be going through a hard time. Look to the Savior. Listen to His words. Be of good cheer! And don't be afraid. :)

Y'all's Southern Belle,

Sister Rebecca Welch

Hump Day Pictures

Christ in the America's chalk art frenzy.

My last night in Hiram.

Celebrating with sparkling cider. :D

Sister Williams ready for bed! She wears that headband because she's afraid of bugs crawling into her ears.

Sister J

Sister Byle saying goodbye! She and her husband played a key role in helping Sister J come back to church.

Coming home

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hark, All Ye Nations!

Hark all ye nations! Hear heaven's voice. 
Through every land that all may rejoice!
Angels of glory shout the refrain:
Truth is restored again!

Hey Y'all!

So this weeks has been a fun one. :) Many miracles have happened and we were able to teach lots of people. Our first great lesson was with "S's daughter "K" and "D" the grandmother. We decided to teach "K" the Plan of Salvation with chalk. So we drew it out with her in front of their house. She really loved it. The next day we came over with a team-up and were told that she had been explaining the Plan of Salvation to EVERYONE. It was very cute. :) And I really enjoyed helping this little 8 year-old learn about how she can live with her family forever.

The next great lesson came that night and the next day. We found out that one of our favorite returning less active members "J" is going to be a ward missionary! :D We were supper excited because we haven't had ANY at all! So that night we set up an appointment with our investigator "T" and went the next day with Sister "J". We thought they would be perfect because they have similar backgrounds. But little did we know how absolutely PERFECT they were for each other! :D They are literally the same person except one has the true gospel. We taught the Plan of Salvation and listened to President Monson's talk from last general conference. She really seamed to take it well and is still interested in finding out if he is a prophet. :) Sister "J" testified the whole way and it turned into a very amazing lesson. :)

Searching in darkness, nations have wept;
watching for dawn their vigil they've kept.
all now rejoice; the long night is o'er.
truth is on earth once more!

Baptism's at the temple with Sister J.
Speaking of Sister "J", this Friday was the day she went to do Baptism's for the dead for the FIRST TIME! :D We went with her, and it was such a spiritual expereince. As we were driving up there, we saw a big double rainbow above the temple as we were driving up and entering. It really amazed sister Jones. While in, she was able to do several family names. the spirit was so strong, I just knew it was Heavenly Father telling her that this was the right thing to do. :) I can't wait until she gets her endowments. :D

Chosen by God to serve him below,
to every land and people we'll go,
standing for truth with fervent accord,
teaching his holy word.

My last miracle I'd like to talk about has to do with something that I have done before. That's right! SIDE WALK CHALK IS BACK! :D We had a competition with the elders who could make a better plan of salvation. In the end, we decided that we should have collaborated because they both had strengths and weaknesses. :P However, while we were drawing, a man came up on his bike and asked us what we were doing. We told him what it was and he was very interested. We have a good conversation where we answered some questions and rumors he had heard about Mormons. In the end we gave him a Book of Mormon and testified of it's truth! It was very cool! :D Many others looked at the chalk and really enjoyed it. We hope more questions are raised, it was a very busy place and many saw it. :D

Oh, how glorious from the throne above
shines the gospel light of truth and love!
bright as the sun, this heavenly ray
lights every land today!

This last week has really shown me how much I love the restored truths we now have. :) As you may have noticed we taught a lot of the plan of salvation. We also asked many what they thought would happen to them after we die. Many had a very bleak and sad outlook on who our loving heavenly father is and what he would do for them. However, we know the truth. Thanks to that loving heavenly father who restored it through Joseph Smith. I am forever grateful to him and to God for revealing these truths again. It is because of them that I can be out serving a mission and preaching repentance and the restored gospel to all those who don't have it in their lives. This gospel is truly a "light of truth and love. . ." As this song says. And it is the reason we go out every day and serve him, rain, shine, or anything. Nothing gets in the way of God's work. :) I hope to always remember that I am called to spread this message.

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Selfies in the car! :D

Pictures of our fun district! I forgot to mention that it's transfers this week. My companion and I are staying but we are loosing our amazing district leader! (the one in the picture holding the guitar) so we said farewell to him. 

 Pictures of our amazing chalk art at the park! :D

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Come Listen to a Prophet's Voice!

Hey y'all!

and hear the word of God. . ."

Wasn't conference just amazing? :) I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to listen to a modern day prophet and apostles for 8 hours! There were many great talks and questions answered. But just because we have conference, doesn't mean that the work will stop for a week! We have seen many miracles so far!

The first miracle came at our investigator's "S's" house which we have now designated the plot-twist house! Why? You will soon discover. :) We went over there Monday night to see stacey and her mother that we gave the large print book of mormon to. Well, when we got their, "S's" daughter "K" answered and said she wasn't home but that her grandma was. We went in and saw the grandma, but she was doing awfully. She still didn't have any medicine. :( We said a prayer with her and on our way out we met "K's" aunty, who came outside and talked to us! She had so many questions about the church and the restoration a long with a lot of useful information about stacey and her family's background, which was not a very nice history. :) At the end, we gave her a restoration pamphlet and a book of mormon. But wait, there's more! Right as we finished with her, "S" pulled up! :D We taught her a little bit of the restoration before an argument in the house drove the spirit away and we were asked to come back. It was crazy, though, to see yet another person being prepared in that household. :D 

"And in all the way of truth rejoice, 
and sing for joy aloud."

The next amazing event came when we went on exchanges with our sister training leaders. I was on exchanges with Sister Nau, who just so happens to be Sister K's cousin and was companions with the other Sister Welch who just returned home from this mission. How funny?! :D We had an amazing time and saw many miracles in her area, especially as we went tracting, there are so many people who are prepared to hear the gospel in this area! :D

"We've found the way the prophets went
 who lived in days yore."

Our last and most crazy miracle happened when we went back to "S's" plot-twist house on Friday to invite them to General Conference. As we pulled up we saw yet another stranger sitting outside. Little did we know that it would soon be an amazing potential! We walked up to the woman, who was on the phone with her mother. She looked at us, asked if we were mormon, and after we answered yes she told her mom she would call her back. She then pulled out two more chairs and told us to sit down, she had a lot of questions. This woman just so happens to be "S's" boyfriend's mom who was visiting from another part of our stake to get away from her abusive husband and to take care of her grand daughter because both "S" and her son are sick. This woman's name is "B". She has lots of questions, and we did our best to answer them. We taught a lot of different things but mostly the last part of the plan of salvation. She told us her whole life story which is pretty rough for only being 42 years old. She said she didn't know where she needed to go and she really needed hope in her life. At that time, we promised that if she investigated the church, read the Book of Mormon, and went to at least one session of General Conference she would find that hope. Sister Williams shared an amazing scripture that made her cry. By the end she knew we were sent from God, she said she would make it for one session, and she took a "Book of Mormon". We didn't see her at General Conference, but we are hoping she watched it online. This was truly a miracle of God, "B" wasn't suppose to be there, and we weren't suppose to come for another hour, but the Lord knew where we needed to be to lift her up. How I love His work! :D

"Another prophet now is sent
this knowledge to restore"

As I reflect back on General Conference I am increasingly more grateful for the opportunity that we had to hear the restored gospel. During these dark times before the Saviors second coming, it is important that we look to the prophets and apostles even more now. The gospel is the way to have joy. I loved Elder Neilson's talk in the Sunday morning session about us having joy. "Men are that they might have joy!" He asked how that is possible, in these times especially? Well it's possible through the atonement of Christ. This is the truth, the light, the way to happiness. I loved that message. I felt it fit so well in these dark times as a beacon of light. There is no darkness that can cover our lives that the savior can't pierce with his everlasting light of the atonement. As long as we focus on that joy, we will be able to persevere through any trial the Lord gives us, because we have Joy. I love how in the end, Elder Neilson says that "every day can be a joy of gladness!" How true is that statement? I testify along with this profound apostle that we are on this earth to have Joy. Through everything. I have seen that, and I hope to continue remembering that as I live my life. :)

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Some pictures with Becca at Zone Conference a couple weeks ago.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Press Forward Saints!

Hey y'all!

What an amazing week we have had. :) Like all weeks, there was plenty of ups and downs, but the Lord blessed us for our efforts. . . And taught at least me a thing or two. :P The first and perhaps funniest thing I learned came last Monday.

You see, we had a pretty uneventful Sunday last week. No investigators came to church and we didn't have too much happen. That night I asked for a more eventful day. Of course I meant eventful to find people ready to accept the gospel. :P Well! Fast forward to that Monday. We found out the night before that a main gas line to Georgia burst, leaving the whole state with practically no gas and the sister missionaries searching for gas. Thus started our eventful day. :) We went to 5 gas stations before finding one that had gas. That crisis averted, we ended P-day and went to a dinner appointment with a member. Our dinner conversation somehow lead to weird things that happens to missionaries and members going out with missionaries. I shared my story of "Miss M" the prophetess, Sister Williams talked about some people in her last area speaking in tongues and saying rather strange prayers. :P We also talked about how often we run into a Buddhist tracting- which is like never- and also how awkward it is when people come to the door, peeking their head through the window, then telling you they are not wearing anything so they can't open the door. :P

Well! With dinner over, we set out to tract the rest of a neighborhood we had so much success at. While there, we said a prayer with a Buddhist, and met a lady who couldn't answer the door cause she wasn't wearing cloths. But! to top it all off was when we went across the street to contact a potential we met last week. It was the woman who's daughter died recently, and we wanted to talk to her about the plan of salvation. We knocked at her door and she let us in, telling us our timing was perfect. She then launched in to this whole crazy life story of her getting into drugs, going to jail. Getting out, and becoming a preacher. Then creating a cd album of christian music which she promptly gave us. And at the end she talked about how people think she's a prophet. :P But that she doesn't know what else she needs to do. She thinks her life is over. So in response to that, I challenged her to read the book of mormon and she would find her answers. Well! She placed her hand on the book of mormon, spoke a weird prayer in tongues. My companion and I looked at each other and began praying REALLY hard that she would receive an answer. . . And she did. . .  In the index. :P She pointed to Counselor, Jesus Christ. However, she took it as her needing to become an counselor, and not counseling with Christ. -.- At the end, we walked out of the lesson, and ended the day kind of in a daze. We didn't exactly know what happened. Looking back on it, this investigator did receive an answer for her prayers and she wants us back. It was just a really odd way of doing it. Also thinking back, I learned that I need to be more specific in my prayers. A LOT MORE SPECIFIC. Hahaha! :)

His love proclaim thru days of mortal strife,

After learning that very important lesson, the rest of the week wasn't quite that strange. :) We worked very hard in the hot sun. Not too much happened, though, and we were feeling kind of discouraged. However, on Saturday we had a couple miracles. :)

The first was pretty unexpected. You see, a little while a go one of our investigator's, actually this old mother of one of our investigators. Had complained to us about how small the book of mormon was and that she wish she could get a bigger copy cause she enjoyed reading it. We were surprised she was even reading the Book of Mormon, so we told her we would order her a large print copy. :) It came this past Saturday, and we picked it up at the church. Later that day, we dropped by this investigators house and saw the mother, sitting outside with her head slumped, smoking. You see, she suffers from terminal cancer I would assume due to a life time of smoking. It is one of those sad cases where they keep doing it even though it's killing them. However, we went over to her, and showed her the Book of Mormon. She at first looked really sad and in a lot of pain, but the moment she saw that book, her eyes lit up and she was on the verge of tears. We gave her the book and she immediately opened it up, put on her glasses and started reading. She pointed to a name and asked us how to pronounce it and we told her. Repeatedly, she kept thanking us and telling us this was exactly what she needed. She said that doctors hadn't yet approved her medicine and she had gone 4 days without it. She was in a lot of pain and had an awful day. But that book of mormon made it so much better. She put her cigarette down, let it burn out, and eventually excused herself to walk inside and read it. It was perhaps the sweetest scene I have seen on my mission. :) How one simple act and a Book of Mormon lifted someone's life from such darkness. We walked away feeling such peace and comfort knowing what we did was good.

Later that day, a member who recently had some major surgery and has been bed ridden called and asked us to pick up her medicine and some groceries and bring them to her. The nurses that she had the first few weeks after surgery have now been stopped and she can't go anywhere. When we arrived, we found out that this poor woman had gone several days without pain medicine. She was in tremendous amounts of pain and could barely get up to see us. We gave her the things she asked for and she was so grateful. She said, that if there was no one else's life that we touched today, we touched hers. Those were such encouraging words. We felt better, a lot better, about our efforts that week. 

Thus saith our God: "Ye have eternal life!"
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

The best ending to our week was the General Women's Broadcast. What inspiring words were said to point us to eternal life. All of the talks were amazing, but I would just like to conclude with my testimony about President Uchtdorf's talk. He talked a lot about faith, and what it can do, and what it can't. But perhaps the biggest message I had as a missionary was the end. That faith is Trusting in God, in His love, and in His knowledge. And that we need to have the faith to "keep going to the 4th floor, last door." As a missionary I have experienced many doors slammed in my face. Many people not interested. And many miracles happened. In my close to 9 months of service I can say with assurance that Heavenly Father will not always give us our reward after our first try. Or our second try. Or ever our third. No, there are so many days that I have gone out, knocked entire streets, entire neighborhoods. And not found a single soul ready to hear the gospel. But, in the end, Heavenly Father WILL reward us. Sometimes, after a whole day of finding people and searching, the last door we knocked is the one. The place we needed to be. And the person we needed to touch and teach the gospel to. It's hard, I have learned that so many times, and will probably continue to learn that because I am very stubborn. :P However, I have found the most sweet, most precious blessings have come form that 4th floor, last door. It is true what President Uchtdorf said. I testify of that. Our reward will come, but until then, we just need to "walk by whatever faith we have, seeking to strengthen our faith."

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

 Flowers I got for my birthday
More fun street signs

Our calendar with pictures of the fall and the tree of life