• 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, February 24, 2017

I Love to See the Temple

Zone Conference with Elder Maynes, one of the seven presidents of the Seventy.

Hey Y'all!

I'm going there someday
To feel the Holy Spirit,
To listen and to pray."

We have had a pretty amazingly miracle filled week, and I can't wait to tell y'all all about it! :D To start of this glorious week, we had the special privilege of having Elder Maynes from the Presidency of the Seventy here to council us. As an STL my companion and I came down a day early and had a special meeting among the leadership by him. I learned much from him in the two days that we heard him talk. We have some truly inspired leaders in the church. One thing that he talked about which really hit me was that most missionaries when it comes to finding let fear win out over faith. He said that fear is the opposite of faith and that we should not let it win! He told us to be sweetly bold and to trust in God that it will all work out. This really rang true for me since I sometimes do that, but his words and council really encouraged me to have faith.

"For the temple is a house of God,
A place of love and beauty."

In relation to this faith over fear principle we were taught, we received an amazing miracle because of it. :) It was Wednesday night, at 8:15-30 and we were driving from the church building after a meeting, trying to figure out what to do in the 15 minutes we had before we needed to drive home. After a little, we decided to park at a publix grocery store while we figured out what we wanted to do. We went through the list, seeing if we wanted to see less-actives, former's, or what in the small amount of time we had. Eventually we decided to actually go store contacting. We never usually like this method since it's perhaps the most awkward method and neither of us had found much success in doing it, but I had a cough and we thought it smart to get some cough drops at the very least. We went in, and really didn't contact anyone until towards the end. We saw a man with headphones on, but thought it would be too awkward to try and talk to him. So we went and stood in line, and guess who stands behind us! You guessed it! the man listening to music! Finally, sister Davies mustered the courage to say hi, and he did the rest for us! He took out his earbuds and asked us about our name tags! :D One thing lead to another and soon we were standing outside talking to this man named Eddie about the restoration, giving him a Book of Mormon, and setting up a return appointment for Friday. It was amazing! :D

But wait, there's more! :D We had almost canceled our appointment with Eddie because we couldn't find a member team-up which we needed to teach a single man. But last minute a member said yes and we went on with the plans. We had exchanges so I wasn't there, but the lesson went amazing! :D he had several questions and by the end committed to come to church as well as have a lesson in that families home the next week. To top it all off, Eddie came to church! Of course with our timing he came on Ward Conference so many things went over his head, but he liked it! :D This man is really a seeker of truth, and we would have never found him if we hadn't gone finding and let faith win out over fear. :)

"I'll prepare myself while I am young;
This is my sacred duty."

Another amazing miracle also happened on exchanges so I wasn't there. Robert, our potential that texted us a few weeks ago asking if God knew he existed, called the sisters out of the blue. He said that he wanted to meet with us and that he had been looking at other churches but they all seemed to have something missing. The sisters started teaching him the restoration over the phone since he doesn't live in our area yet. What is even better is that he asked about prayer. They taught him how to pray and he said his first prayer! :D He was crying by the end of the lesson.

"I love to see the temple.
I'll go inside someday.
I'll cov'nant with my Father;
I'll promise to obey."

To put the Icing on the cake we had some pretty amazing experiences with our recent convert Abbie and her family. :) She has been preparing to do baptisms at the temple and on Saturday we took her for her first time! :D She had such a light and excitement about her that she seemed to almost glow. She wasn't able to take her own family names to the temple because of her family. They have generally been pretty supportive, but her mother specifically doesn't understand why we do work for the dead. The Lord works in mysterious ways though, and the day before when I was on exchanges we had a dinner appointment with our bishop who took us out to eat at Hibachi grill and guess who ended up sitting next to us? That's right! Abbie's whole family! :D We had a good dinner with them and were able to explain to her mother about the temple and why we do work for our dead. We even got her interested in going to a temple open house! :D

"For the temple is a holy place
Where we are sealed together.
As a child of God, I've learned this truth:
A fam'ly is forever."

Well! As you can see, our week has been super duper full and exciting! I couldn't have asked for more miracles and blessings that this. :) Before I leave y'all I would like to share one scripture. It's in Malachi 3:6  

"And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."

As has been revealed in modern day revelation, we know that this scripture refers to family history and the sealing ordinances in the temple. I have thought a lot about family history lately since we just took our recent convert to the temple. She was so excited to do the work for people she didn't even know! And yet she understood this scripture. This scripture is being fulfilled now! in the latter-days. Because of the temple we have the ability to be connected with our ancestors in an unbroken chain to Adam and Eve. We will be able to see our loved ones passed on again, and we can do their work so that they may receive the eternal blessings and joy found in the gospel. It is truly amazing what we can do in the temple. I testify that no matter your family state, whether you have lost a loved one or are a new convert, that because of the temple and restored priesthood we CAN live with our families again. In eternal joy and happiness. As we take those precious names to the temple we are not only helping them in receiving blessings but also binding them to our families. I am positive there are hosts of spirits shouting praises for all of us who have done their work. Who remember them, and who love them. :) I am grateful for temples. And I am grateful for the blessings that come when we do our family history work. It truly brings countless blessings.
Y'all's southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Monday, February 20, 2017

Press Forward Saints!

Hey Y'all!

"Press forward, Saints, with steadfast faith in Christ,
With hope's bright flame alight in heart and mind,
With love of God and love of all mankind."

It's been a good week here in Good ole' Atlanta Georgia! :D covering three wards has been definitely an experience, but I have loved it. Our mission President has asked us to continue covering three wards for a few more weeks and then he'll make the decision on which ward to remove us from. So we will be pretty busy for a while, but that's just missionary work right? :)

Not a ton happened this week, my poor companion caught a sickness that has been going around the mission so we needed to stay inside as much as possible. But we still managed to attend both FHE and Institute for YSA and we also did something we call Tabling up at the Georgia Tech campus. It's a really pretty campus! :D What we do is set up a table on a walk way, put out pamphlets and Books of Mormons and other church produced items, then go and stop people, asking if they would like to do a religious survey we have. It was really fun and we got a few good lessons from it. :)

"Press forward, feasting on the word of Christ.
Receive his name, rejoicing in his might.
Come unto God; find everlasting light."

On Friday we did something y'all should be familiar with. :) CHALK ART!!! :D This time, we took a member of Dunwoody ward, Sister Parry with us. She is an amazing artist and loved the opportunity to draw out the plan of salvation with us. She did most of the work, but we added scriptures, questions, and words when needed. Not only did we find a couple people who were interested, but it was also a great opportunity to get to know Sister Parry. :) The only down side was that with the wind, we had a bitter cold day, so our fingers were frozen by the time we got back in the car.

Also, this week, we met with a former investigator named "A". She is a super nice woman, who we needed to drop because she works three 3 jobs and never could meet. Her schedule is starting to open up more so we asked if we could come back and teach her again. She said yes! :D "A" has a Book of Mormon and expressed a desire to come to church and to learn more so she can pray about it. I think that with some time she will get Baptized. :) There are a few things that might pose as stumbling blocks, but we are still hopeful!

"Press on, enduring in the ways of Christ.
His love proclaim thru days of mortal strife.
Thus saith our God: "Ye have eternal life!"

We didn't have too much more happen, but before I leave y'all I want to share with you something that I studied this past week. It's from 1Nephi when Nephi was asked to build a ship. His brothers, after seeing what he was about to do, mocked him and told him that it was pointless, he couldn't do it. Nephi's reply was one of faith and courage. Buy perhaps my favorite part came at the end when he was speaking of God's power. It is 1 Nephi 17:50-51 and it says:

"And I said unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done.
And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?"

I love his faith and knowledge in God's power. He doesn't doubt for a second what the Lord can do, and that He will help him. Nephi goes forward, believing in the power of God. It made me think how often we sometimes forget the power of God. He has the ability to turn water to earth, to part seas, to heal the sick, to restore sight to the blind, to do any number of things as long as we have faith. Sometimes we think that miracles like these don't happen in these modern days. But how often is it because we don't have faith that they can happen? They seem like crazy things, but they happen even now. Joseph Smith himself saw in vision God the Father and Jesus Christ, and many other heavenly messengers. This is still possible today. Perhaps we don't need to build ships, or divide waters, but we cannot forget the power our Heavenly Father has to help us in any trial we have put in front of us. It's why he gives us trials, so we can ask for his help. I know that's true because I have seen it and received a testimony of it in my own life. And it continues to help me everyday as I work as his missionary. :) I encourage y'all to look back and see a time when the Lord has used his power to help you overcome your challenges.

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Welch

Me blowing bubbles :-) 

Some awesome sauce pictures of chalk art. :D

Some cool sky scrapers next to Georgia Tech.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Savior, Redeemer of My Soul

Hey Y'all!

Whose mighty hand hath made me whole,
Whose wondrous pow'r hath raised me up"

Well It's been a crazy week, and a lot has happened. :) First off, there has been some changes for the missionaries. They have changed our schedules, giving us more time for p-day, more time for sleep if we need, and more time to go out and do the work. My companion and I have been testing it out for the past two weeks before it was announced on the World Wide Missionary Broadcast. :) Another big change was to our key indicators that we set goals on. They shortened the list and made us focus more on baptisms. This will be awesome! :D I'm excited to see how this will change our focus as missionaries.

Another big change was with me and my companion. We have been asked to test out serving in the YSA ward that meets at our church building too. We are doing this for one week to see how it goes. However, we are still covering our old areas. Yes, I said areaS. We cover two wards normally so we are now covering 3 wards! If our mission president likes having us in YSA then we will probably loose one of our other family wards so that we aren't triple covering. But how crazy is that?! We went to the YSA ward on top of our others yesterday and it was lots of fun! I hope that we can cover that ward, I've never served in a YSA ward before so it would be lots of fun. :) 

"And filled with sweet my bitter cup!
What tongue my gratitude can tell,
O gracious God of Israel."

The rest of the week has been crazy, but really good. :) We had a really awesome lesson with a man named Willie. He asked for a bible several weeks ago but it's been hard to get an appointment with him until last week. We took a member named Sister Feigleson who was a temple square missionary not too long ago with us to see him. The lesson went very well, and she was able to connect to Willie pretty well. :) He took a Book of Mormon too, and said he would come to church the first week of February. We have another appointment with him this week, and we are taking sister Feigleson again. :D

"Ever can I repay thee, Lord,
But I can love thee. Thy pure word,
Hath it not been my one delight,"

We went on exchanges with the Twin Oaks sisters on Thursday. I went out with Sister Mangum, a missionary that came out with me when I returned 4 weeks ago. It's crazy to me to see how missionaries have changed in just a few short weeks! She is so strong and she's barely been a missionary for a month! While walking to a park to go finding, we came across a man named Ted. He was an interesting character. After just a short while, he started sharing his whole life story about how he was framed for something and thrown in jail and all the chaos that happened after. It was crazy. But something that really caught my attention was how happy he was even though he told us all these horrible things. He kept saying how grateful he was to be healthy and alive and free form prison. He really had a good outlook on life, even though all these terrible things happened. I was impressed. We gave him a card, with a link to a video about Christ. I hope he reads it and wants to meet with us. :)

"My joy by day, my dream by night?
Then let my lips proclaim it still,
And all my life reflect thy will."

To top off the week, Sister Davies and I with the Zone Leaders did a zone training for three hours on Friday while President and Sister Foote were doing interviews. It was crazy and stressful, but also really fun. I learned a lot in preparing to teach all the missionaries in our zone. :) That's one of the biggest blessings of being a Sister Training Leader.

"O'errule mine acts to serve thine ends.
Change frowning foes to smiling friends.
Chasten my soul till I shall be
In perfect harmony with thee.
Make me more worthy of thy love,
And fit me for the life above."

I was emailing a friend who just returned from his mission the transfer I went back out. I asked him a question and his response hit me so much that I felt inspired to write about it in my weekly email. I asked him what was his favorite part about being a missionary.  
His reply was this: "This quote from adjusting to missionary life is my favorite part of being a missionary: "You have a front row seat to the greatest miracle of all: the effect of Christ’s Atonement on individuals and families."
That is a quote from a little booklet we get as missionaries which I have probably read a thousand times on the mission. But I never realized the full power of it until my friend pointed it out like that. As a missionary, I have a front row seat in seeing the greatest miracle known to the universe. The Atonement working in others lives. There are people in this world who never tasted the sweet fruit of the gospel and of Christ's Atonement. It is my mission to not only see it in action, but introduce it into their lives. To personally bring that fruit in to their homes as ask them to accept it. Along with my friend, I would have to say that quote is the best part about being a missionary. It is the reason we are missionaries, and it is the fruits of our labors as we go about doing the Lords work. At this time in my life, I wouldn't rather be anywhere else doing anything else. I'm grateful to God for giving me 9 more months to be His servant and to watch these miracles unfold.

Y'all's Southern Bell,

Sister Rebecca Welch

This is a car we parked behind this morning. I thought the bumper sticker to the bottom right was pretty funny.