Monday, December 29, 2014

Re-Invigorated


Hello to you all!  I am so glad that Christmas is over!  It was a stressful time of year for me!  Now that New Years is coming up things should be picking up speed:)  The week prior to Christmas day was pretty slow just because so many people went out of town (military -_-).  But on the 24th some pretty heavy rain hit NC and FLOODED the area.  All the roads were tire high with water and it started blowing wind and a few homes lost power.  It was crazy. 

The family we had dinner with that night lost power for a few minutes and they had been warned that may happen.  So to be prepared they had gotten foil, steak and potatoes in case none of the ovens worked to make normal Christmas dinner.  That was funny, but things ended up working out!

Christmas morning the missionaries put on a breakfast for the marines and any families who had to stay here for Christmas.  An assortment of Casseroles, cinnamon buns, fruit, pancakes and hot chocolate were served.  It was fun and about 30 people showed up.  We showed a short nativity clip and played a few games after everyone was done eating.



  
For lunch we went over to the Benson's house.  All the boys in the family went and played soccer (so not fair, I miss it so much) and my companion and I stayed with Sister Benson and cleaned up the house, laid out food, and looked through her wedding albums.  She is a phenomenal photographer and I try and pick her brain about it as much as I can:)  I love photography as well.  When all the boys got back we ate and packed up to go to.... THE BEACH!  Yes, the beach on Christmas:) 



It was sunny and a nice temperature outside, so the only thing to do of course was to go polar dipping in the ocean says the Benson's... I'm glad I could only watch.  I don't enjoy cold water very much!  We watched them all play rugby down the beach, and then went shark tooth hunting. You can find some good ones if you really look!

We headed to another families home in the ward for dinner.  The Letteers are one of my favorite families here.  They are both returned missionaries from Brazil and are both extremely interested in working out and healthy eating- we get along SO well.  We had a yummy dinner and visited with their parents who came to town.

  
We played Pictionary, and saw every single toy the kids got for Christmas... we had to humor them:)  After this the kids were put to bed and it was SKYPE TIME.  I heard Brother Letteer talking to Gretchen on the phone trying to set up a time for us to coordinate.  And since that moment I couldn't stop shaking, sweating or tearing up.  When I logged onto skype and called the family I saw Gretchen (because the rest of my family wasn't present for some reason;)) and just CRIED.


I had to let out all the nerves I had been holding in all day.  It was so great to see them all.  I was nervous to even see them because I had been so homesick previous to that.  But seeing them only encouraged me and gave me a new drive to work hard and effectively.  I brought my box of Christmas gifts they so kindly sent me and opened it with them to pretend I was there as well and sharing that special moment:) 


After skyping we sat in the living room and talked with the Letteers about their memories of the mission and calling home.  It helped us calm down and get prepared for the drive home which is about 20 minutes.  It truly was an amazing day and I was so blessed to have spent it with such wonderful families.  The Lord placed me in this area for a reason:)

The next day I was REALLY SICK.  I had been sick the day before and day of Christmas and was not feeling well.  But the day after was definitely the worst.  I had to take a nap for a few hours- and luckily it was weekly planning day so we were at the apartment all day.  I had to take some medicine and take a break from working out for a few days.  The lady whose house we went to for dinner that night was a Navy Nurse and she gave me a few medicines and tissues and other fun things only a nurse has.  I sounded so bad, haha.

Prayers are answered!
So last week we had really been praying for people to find that we could teach because we just had no investigators.  On Saturday we went to downtown Swansboro right by where we live and tracted around.  We ended up getting 13 referrals that day from people we came into contact with!  We immediately went and contacted them, got 1 return appointment in, and got 5 other lessons from it.  I knew that Heavenly Father answered prayers, but this was so specific I couldn't help but feel that He does listen to ME personally.  He did bless Sister Jones and I this week.  When we went to go contact those referrals, they all happened to be relatives who all lived in trailers down one dirty dusty windy road.  



Little Weiner Puppies!
I am a cautious person by nature so I wondered whether we even should go down it by ourselves.  But luckily I have a confident and devoted companion who fears nothing and no one and marched us down this road.  The people were all very southern and unique.  One of them even honored me by being my FIRST door slam! :D  It actually happens!  She saw the Book of Mormon in our hands and looked us in the eye, frowned, shook her head, and said very firmly, "NO."  And *whoosh* pushes the door closed.  I was appalled at the rudeness of it all, but just laughed because I know that is not how I would respond to two nice young girls smiling on my doorstep.  Whatever! 

That night we had some fajitas at the Searls home and enjoyed listening to their two young boys jabbering about all the neat things Santa brought them.  Sister Searls came with us to go visit a young couple in our ward that don't come to church very often but are active...it's weird.  We show up at their home and there are actually 6 people there in all.  The couple we went to go see has two best friend couples that are also in our ward and they were all having a fun date night and just hanging out.  It was odd...they are all in my age range (20's) and when I walked in and sat down I had a yearning to be a part of that group that night.  I wanted to be married, sitting around a living room, not worrying about missionaries stressors, and just relaxing next to what would hopefully be a prince charming.  But then the spirit chastised my unconsecrated thoughts, and I told myself to be grateful where I was!  There are so many young couples in my ward, and when I first came out I really struggled with that.  I wanted to be them and have the life they were living.  But over a period of time and learning I have come to the realization that I have not yet reached the potential I have and can offer to a spouse.  Heavenly Father is giving me this period of 18 months to become refined, and more committed to my spiritual values.  I want to be the wife my future husband deserves and needs, and I know that that would not have happened if I had stayed home and gotten married.  

On Sunday my companion and I got to teach a lesson to a sweet mother of 3 girls.  We had gone out on exchanges with Sister Tumanuvao in our ward (also a returned missionary herself) and had dinner at her home afterwards.  She had invited their good friends and we shared a short message after dinner.
Tumanuvao Family and Friends
We continued to talk with this friend and she ended up asking us the GOLDEN question of, "I just don't understand how there are so many churches if we are all on the same team and have the same goal."  and then she goes on, "why is it that we are here on this earth?"  WHOA.  
In my head I am thinking to myself, 'we have all the answers... this church IS true... everything she just asked I have been privileged to know my whole life.'  My own testimony grew in that moment.   We ended up teaching her the Restoration and not a dry eye was left when we finished.  She said she had so much more respect for Mormons in general as well as us missionaries and said she would come to church to check it out.  This is HUGE because she told us earlier that she was a devout Baptist.  Usually, that is pretty scary when someone tells you that.  Haha.
But the spirit was SO strong in that home and the Lord really prompted us to answer in the ways that we did so that her fears and uncertainties were answered without us even knowing it.  It is truly amazing.  

Today my companion and I went down to Historic Swansboro and walked around all the little gift shops.  It's very similar to Gig Harbor and it was even rainy today:)  We roamed in the little gift shops, walked the docks, and avoided the ducks. Then we did the other menial chores that come on “Preparation Day” such as laundry and cleaning and grocery shopping.  I always look forward to Mondays- even though back home I hated them!  It is a much needed break in my week. 








I hope you are doing well and know that I love you so much!
<3 Sister Golden

Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas in 3 Days!


So this week has been a pretty slow one.  The week before Christmas everyone takes off and is preparing for family and the crazy schedule that Christmas brings.  So we were kind of not as busy this week.  But there were a few highlights:)  

Last Monday my companion and I treated ourselves and did a little shopping at Forever 21...which was so weird!  It was like we were part of the real world again.  It took me a minute to adjust, haha.  

On Tuesday we had the Zone Christmas conference!  There were 3 zones there and after the training session and lunch there was a fun little Christmas program where people performed all types of things.  It was fun!  So I'm pretty sure I have 'The Face',  the one where people look over the crowd and think, “Huh, I will pick on them.”  I say this because in the MTC when they choose a random person to speak in Sacrament meeting, I was chosen.  Then while going through 12 week training I was selected to give the spiritual thought at the meeting.  Next, when we had a conference call for us trainees I was called on to be the one to bear the testimony at the end of the call.  And low and behold at this Conference I was selected out of all 300 to give the random talk!  So I quickly prepared and gave it at the end.  Luckily everyone said it was good, so I wasn't as embarrassed as I felt at first:)  
My companion and I wore some ugly Christmas sweaters along with another couple of sisters.  We were definitely the only ones and stuck out like sore thumbs...but we did get a lot of compliments! 

Zone Christmas Conference

This week my companion got the flu.  It was not fun! I felt so bad for her.  So in the mornings since she needed the rest I got time to bike on my bike trainer that I got for an early Christmas present!  I absolutely love it and am so grateful for it:)  I got some good cardio in for sure.  

Here is the weird stuff that happened this week.  When we went out with Sister Parker to go visit some less actives on our ward roster (keep in mind our ward roster is somewhere between 300-400 people) we ran into a few weird situations.  The first house we came to looked abandoned.  I mean boxes, blankets, garbage, shoes, pillows, and other random items were strewn across the porch.  The smell was awful!  To make things worse... there were a dozen cats just laying around in this stuff!  It was gross.  I turn to timidly knock on the front door (sanitizer at the ready in my bag) and I almost step on a dead flattened squirrel!  You can imagine my face.  
The second house we went to was not only the home to a sweet little old lady, but also to 5 dogs, 4 chickens, and 18 cats.  Yes, 18.  She said she had downsized from 67 cats!  I couldn't even believe it.  She was probably a hoarder.  Haha.  
A few other fun activities we participated in this week included making Christmas cookies with one of our investigators, painting the inside of a trailer home, wrapping presents with a member, making and assembling ornaments for the 25 days of Christmas activity with a member, eating really bad Chinese food, attending a Christmas party with a family in the ward and watching all the kids put on a nativity play afterwards :)  

This week I really enjoyed my personal study time.  It truly is a privilege to be in the scriptures and learning each and every day.  One quote I really enjoyed was by Harold B. Lee and it reads, "Life is God's gift to man.  What we do with our life is our gift to God."  This made me want to make sure that all that I am doing is pleasing to the Lord and allow me to receive any blessings He may have in store for me.  

Secondly, I read the talk called "Lessons learned from the Sacred Grove" by Marlin K. Jensen.  I so enjoyed this!  I would encourage you to go and read it after you respond to my e-mail;)  

This Christmas season has really been magnified for me as I am currently serving as a missionary.  I get to see more deeply the reason for why we celebrate this holiday and what I can do to make sure I apply it to my life.  I feel that even if I didn't have any success as a missionary, I would still come out being totally converted.  That has been my biggest blessing so far.  Without any shadow of a doubt I know that this is the true Gospel found on the earth today.  And I am so grateful to be a part of it. 

Here are some pictures of my friends that I have been able to see during transfers.

Sister Avondett

Sister Bowers from my BYU-I Basketball Team

Sister Gropp

I love you all so much and can't wait to see you soon:)
Love, 
Mallory

Monday, December 15, 2014

3 Months:)


Last Monday Sister Anderson picked us up to go shopping for a couple crafts for the relief society craft day, and then to her house for dinner, and ginger bread house making!  We used graham crackers and frosting to build them- which is fine with me:) It was fun and we all had a good time.





Tuesday was a pretty special day for me...I hit my 3 MONTH MARK!  




I hear that that is the first hump you have to get over as a missionary.  Next is the 6 month mark.  Oh boy, let's not think about it just yet.  That seems far away.  That night we had dinner with the Ferrin's and she let us look through her Christmas sweaters so that we could wear them to our Mission Christmas Conference that is tomorrow!  Mine is cute and has snowmen all over it.  I will get you pictures of that as soon as I can;)  I bet I'll look just dashing in it.  We headed to Institute with her daughter Amelia and then afterwards some of the young single adults took us to Chili's to get what they call a skillet...or something.  A cookie on a little pan skillet with ice cream on top.  sister Jones and I finally decided to split one because, "Heck! We're young!  These are the Lord's pounds!"  Ha.

Wednesday we had a good lesson with a less active girl in our ward.  She is 19 and got married this past summer to a non member.  They are happy and doing well, but when we were saying goodbye she started crying.  All her life she struggled with her testimony and moving to NC where religion is very prevalent she said she has been even more confused.  So the night before, she dropped to her knees and asked Heavenly Father what she needed to do and where she needed to go because she didn't know anymore.  The next day we showed up at her door to share a short Christmas message and check up on her.  This visit wasn't planned; we actually were going to go see another lady, but I felt that as we passed her home that we needed to stop.  It is such an amazing thing to know that the Lord works through people to help others who are struggling. 

Thursday was our special Sisters Christmas Conference! ALL the sisters in the NCRM met in Raleigh for a meeting and got to visit with one another.  There was training and lessons and speakers from 8:30-12 (I was chosen to be one of the speakers of course) then lunch and then pictures!  It was so much fun to see the girls I was in the MTC with and meet more that are serving here with me.  

Reunited with Sister Alldredge
That night after getting home Sister Jones and I made some homemade hot chocolate and stayed up watching the Emma Smith movie together.  We wanted to bond!  Every night we have been getting to bed late because we just talk and laugh and share stories, both fun, sad, and dumb ones:)  Well, we have made a resolution to get to bed on time this next week because we are SO tired in the mornings, and almost fall asleep after dinner!  It is funny:) 
Making Breakfast with Sis Jones







Sister Jones has been running every morning since she came out on her mission.  This was super exciting news to me because it is great exercise, and I hadn't been able to run really with my previous companion.  Well, I have been humbled and see that 2 months without ample running can leave you looking like an elephant trailing behind a human being, huffing and puffing.  She is so patient with my lack of fitness at this point in time ;)  But!  I will keep it up and hopefully get better! 













On Friday we went to the R.S. craft day and learned how to make a ribbon wreath, and fun decorative vases that say 'JOY' on them.  (Pictures to come...we didn't finish.)  It was a lot of fun and we got to spend more time with some of the ladies in our ward.  

Craft Day
I miss being crafty and doing projects!  I decided that I want to be a crafty mom and make my house super cute with decorations and things...but that day will come.  
Brooke our Recent Convert always laughs at me because I talk about my future husband/and family as if I know them.  She makes fun of me when I say, "Yeah! Me and my future husband will...____" because I am totally single and serving a mission.  But hey, a girl is allowed to dream right?
That night we had dinner with a member (and of course they are our age and we just feel like we are all hanging out when we get together) and then went to go visit a few less actives who were in their neighborhood.  The visit was very successful and they were able to make friends with those we visited!  It was perfect.  It is kind of an inside joke between Sister Jones and I, but the husband is very VERY talkative.  He doesn't know when to stop.  So when they dropped us off back home, he followed us all the way up to the door because he wasn't done with his story yet! We died. 

Saturday- wow.  What a long day.  We went and saw some less actives in the area and had an amazing lesson with one family that is only part members. The spirit was so strong and I just felt that they need to go to the temple and get sealed!  We are planning on working hard on them!  After those visits we went over to the Crum's house and helped Sister Crum make homemade rolls for 5 hours!!!! We had to make 300 rolls for the ward Christmas party that was that night.  She is 8 months pregnant, has 3 little kids, and her dear husband volunteered her to make them.  He is a hilarious guy, but I questioned that choice of his!  The rolls all turned out really well and were super good.  I was proud that I mastered the art of home made bread making!  Hopefully I don't forget!  The Christmas party was fun.  There was good food, people, and Santa.  The missionaries helped serve the food and clean up afterwards.  It was a successful day.

Here are 2 quotes that I wrote down this week because they impressed me!  What do they mean to you?
Boyd K. Packer said, "Those who listen to and heed His words and the words of His chosen servants will find peace and understanding even in the midst of great heartache and sorrow."

David O. McKay, "The responsibility of showing o the world that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will solve its problems rests upon the men who make the claim...I believe too that every world problem may be solved by obedience to the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

I hope that you are doing well, and have fun plans for Christmas!  In conclusion, “If the Savior were amongst us today, we would find Him where He always was—ministering to the meek, the downcast, the humble, the distressed, and the poor in spirit. During this Christmas season and always, may we give to Him by loving as He loves.” 
I love you and miss you!  Until next week,
Sister Mallory Golden :)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Prayers really do get answered!

So as you know- transfers were last Tuesday!  Oh my goodness was I a nervous wreck.  I had never prayed so hard or fervently before.  WELL...after enduring through transfers, I have come to the amazing realization that our prayers ARE answered! :)  The President announces your new area and your new companion AT the meeting over the pulpit in front of everyone.  Lots of suspense; I guess he enjoys a good laugh.  But when he called my name, "Sister Golden, staying in the Jacksonville 3rd ward will be serving with..." Dun dun dun.... "Sister Jaleisa Jones."  OH MY GOSH.  This was a small miracle and blessing from the Lord!  She was in my current Zone and we had built up a small friendship due to all the Zone training meetings and lunch dates we would go on afterwards.  So I already knew her and knew that she and I were pretty similar.  She loves to exercise, eat healthy, work hard, and she is super outgoing and friendly!  This week has been amazing.  I haven't had this much fun on my mission, laughed as much, learned as much, or felt the spirit as strongly as when I have this week with Sister Jones.  We were thinking last night and realized we have only been together for 5 days and we’re already best friends.  I know that Heavenly Father places specific people in our lives for certain reasons; and he has placed an amazing girl in mine at this time.  How grateful am I.


New companions

My new companion ~ Sister Jones
At Zone Training the next day when Sister Jones and I walked in everyone busted up laughing because they couldn't believe she had only been transferred down the road...(not really.)  But she had been in her area for 7 months and everyone was betting on her going up to the Raleigh area.  So many people there said we are the new power companionship.  That made me laugh.  As tradition goes, all of us Sisters went out to lunch afterward to our favorite Mexican place.  The waiters all know our orders and get things started for us right away- haha.  We had a chance to meet the new Sisters who had been transferred in...and they are all so nice and genuine.  I feel lucky to have such great girls in this area. 

On Thursday we went out on exchanges with a super nice lady in our ward named Sister LaBanc (Luh-Bank).  We drove around and didn't have much success in making contact with the less active members in our ward, but every effort counts, so we didn't get discouraged.  On our way to get dropped off at our dinner appointment *BAM* all of a sudden a headache hit me so hard I felt nauseous and was afraid I would throw up inside of her brand new white BMW.  She was so kind- she pulled off at a gas station and said in her cute Texan accent, "Let me go get you a Diet Coke.  That'll help ya!"  It's a good thing I drink soda ;) Haha.  She came back with Cheese Its and Reeses PB cups telling me that chocolate will clear any ailment right up!  (I ended up giving those away to the Anderson kids we saw later, haha!)  But after being with her we had dinner with the Bensons and had an amazing bowl of curry & rice.  She is 23 and he is 24 so we all get along pretty well!  It is weird being around the same age of some of these younger couples.  But he told us some of his mission stories and got us pumped up to endure through the rest of our missions.  His sweet little wife had wanted to go on a mission but he wanted to marry her so she stayed home.  She said we are lucky to have this opportunity, and to work hard during this short time. The people in our ward are amazing.

On Friday I got to participate in my first day of TRACTING!  I thoroughly enjoyed it- and yes because it was extra exercise I too was equally excited.  We handed out the new 'He is the Gift' cards, that the church is advertising this season, to quite a few people.  I am starting to realize just how diverse this world is...some people are very...unique :)  But Christ talked to everyone, and that means I need to talk with everyone as well!  An awesome lady in our ward named Sister Parker came on exchanges with us that afternoon- and boy that was divine intervention.  She is a raw woman; says things how they are.  She is one tough cookie and is really into lifting competitions.  Well we went around trying to make contact with less actives that are on our ward roster and ended up running across a few random people while doing so.  Some of these people were weirdos!  Sister Parker laughed and said it was a good thing she came out with us that day.  One guy answered his door with blood and guts all over his right hand and a knife in the other...I was like, "Uhm, hello.  We are just coming to invite you and your wife to our ward Christmas Party this next Saturday"...*please don't kill me*  I guess he was in the middle of skinning a deer in his kitchen.  I kindly handed him an invite between two extended fingers and made my way off of his porch.  Another house we went to we witnessed a fight between a young married couple in their driveway...ending with him locking her out of the house.  Another woman told us that since no one from the church had contacted her in years she said, "to hell with 'em!" We ended up getting a return appointment with the crotchety old lady...I will kill her with kindness...

On Saturday the LaBanc's called us after our study time and said they wanted to take us to lunch.  This worked out perfectly because our appointment for that afternoon fell through.  They came by our apartment not empty handed.  They brought us a little 4 foot Christmas tree, gold glittery ornaments, a nativity set, and some twinkle lights!  Our apartment was looking pretty much like a prison cell, so after we set all of that up it was looking a lot better! :) They took us out to a little restaurant called Yana's that is themed after Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.  My order came with onion rings, but when they dropped them off at our table they looked like DOUGHNUTS because they were so huge.  They made them and fried them in pancake batter.  I did not finish them because they were so darn big and greasy.  But it was made up by the banana fritters they gave us afterwards.  Sometimes southern cooking IS really good ;)  I asked them what makes a southern dish and the waitress responded with, "Oh honey! Just Butter and Sugar!"  -_- Remind me not to ask again.




On Sunday we were in the church building doing some FaceBook proselyting when a member informed us that a man had walked in and asked to meet the missionaries.  He told us that his girlfriend was in Florida and he had been Skyping the Elders that were in that area.  She encouraged him to find the local ward and come to a Sunday service.  I was astounded that sometimes the Lord sends us people to teach, and we aren't always doing the finding.  This was a tender mercy to me because I had been feeling the stress I was putting on myself to do all of the work.  In reality this is the Lord's work and we need to let Him assist us during this time.

So for my little Christmas spiel: President Benson said that, "One of the greatest things about Christmastime is that it increases our sensitivity to things of God. 
I hope you had a chance to watch the Christmas Devotional that was broadcast last night.  I really enjoyed it :)  President Monson taught about love in a previous Christmas Devotional saying, “Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values. It is peace because we have found peace in the Savior’s teachings. It is the time we realize most deeply that the more love is expended, the more there is of it for others… There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus Christ.”

I hope you are preparing for a great Season full of love and service.  Think of all the gifts you have been given.  And this week, do something for someone else with those gifts and talents you have been given! :)  

I love you all so much and can't wait to Skype you!  I will let you know the details as SOON as we figure them out:)  So don't you all worry.  
CHALLENGE!  Everyone write me a letter this week ;)
Love,
Sister Mallory Golden

Monday, December 1, 2014

Transfer Time!!!


Hello to everyone! I hope you had an amazing Thanksgiving and that it was a blast! I do miss being home for the holidays, but I was able to be with some amazing members here.  We went on a SUPER good run (compared to the usual work out) that morning down to the high school thinking the boys would be playing in the Turkey bowl, but they were actually at another high school.  I didn't complain though because I enjoyed the much needed exercise- especially on Turkey Day! 

My companion and I were able to go to Sister Anderson's home in the afternoon to help prepare the last few food items.  We cleaned the dusty china dishes that one usually brings out twice a year, set the table, laid out snacks, and then got everything ready to go!  We had 4 other people join us, so we were a happy number of 11:)  It was a really good lunch and I paced myself knowing we had another appointment that evening.  I only took a spoonful of everything!  It was perfect.
Thanksgiving at Sister Anderson's House
  When we showed up to the Cunningham's there were snacks and games and cooking all going on.  We helped where we could, but ended up talking to the senior missionary couples (whom I just adore!) and the marines who were there because they couldn't get back home for the holidays. It was a fun group of people and many laughs were shared.  After dinner we played a game that is tradition in their family.  Everyone that came had brought candy with them- and not just any candy.  But the GOOD kind.  The whole table was FULL
once the bags were all emptied.  The game went like this.  We all sat around the table and passed the dice from one person to the next after our roll was done.  If you roll a 1 or a 6 you get to choose a candy from the center of the table or steal what you want from another person.  There were only 20 minutes on the timer, so you had to go fast!  When the timer rang, whatever candy you had was yours to keep.  You'll never guess who had the most candy...yeah...this girl!  The one KNOWN for not eating sweets. Haha!  It was a good time.  

This week we baptized our last progressing investigator.  Which means we have to go find more now!  That is a good thing...right? In November alone we have had 4 baptisms which is exciting.  We are leading the zone in baptisms for the month!
  
At the baptism I was asked to sing...again.  I don't know where everyone got this idea that I am a performance singer, but I keep being asked, and I can't say no! That would be offensive here in the South! So I am getting more and more comfortable at singing in front of an audience.  I sang with a woman in our ward (gorgeous voice) and my companion played a flute accompaniment to the piano. It was really pretty and many people said it brought the spirit into the room.

This week I had to participate in what's called the 2nd Training Call-In.  All the missionaries that were going through the 12 week program (or our first 3 months) got on a conference call with the President and his wife.  We each had a small assignment we were to speak on, and at the end I was called on to bare my testimony.  It was fun because I got to hear the voices of all my friends who came out into the mission field with me from the MTC.  A fun little reunion!

This week we were able to go Christmas Tree shopping!  Okay, not for us, but with a recent convert.  They took us with them, and then we got Chinese food for lunch and helped decorate their house for Christmas!  The whole shabang.  The tree, the dining room, kitchen, and doors, lights, bows and more.  They even let us pick out an ornament at the Boutique to sign and put on their tree so they will be reminded of us every Christmas! So sweet.

This is the real deal; Not an ornament!
We had a powerful lesson with them afterwards about the temple.  We watched the movie Mountain of the Lord, and explained how to be temple worthy and that they will need to obtain a temple recommend so they can enter.  Brooke said that she is determined to get her temple recommend before December is over because she NEEDS to be ready to go!  She wants to be sealed to her husband Ryan so badly!  She can't wait to go and do baptisms in the Raleigh temple; I wish we could go with them for that!  It just showed me that I have been so blessed to have grown up in the church and know of all the blessings that I can receive by being married in it.  I am so glad that my family was sealed in the Seattle temple; that has become more precious to me the longer I've been here.

On Saturday we were able to go out on exchanges with Sister Tumanuvao from the ward.  We saw a few members that are less active and struggling right now.  Just talking with them and being in their home changed their attitudes completely!  They became more upbeat and positive and talked a lot more than they had earlier when we just showed up.  That showed me that when we do have Christ as the center of our home, or when we live worthy to have the spirit dwell in our household, we are happier and more unified.
Sister Tumanuvao served a mission in Missouri when she was in her mid twenties and always talks so highly of her experience! I envy her and the way she talks about her mission.  I am in the midst of mine, so I still feel all the challenges and hardships that come with each day.  But I hope that I can serve the rest of the 15 months in such a way that will allow me to reflect back on my mission and KNOW that what I did blessed my life.  She was saying that all the qualities and traits she inherited and learned on the mission have helped her to be a better wife, mother, church member and friend.  She encouraged me to “seek Jesus Christ out in EVERYTHING you do.  When you exercise, put Him at the center. When you cook. When you clean. When you serve.  Anything and everything you do will become magnified and so much better when you think of Jesus Christ and place Him in the situation you are participating in.” I thought that was interesting because we as people tend to separate our religious and secular life from one another.  When really, we should be trying our best to unify them and make them intertwined.  Just a thought.

This week we found out that my companion will be transferring out and that I will be getting a new companion.  I am staying in my area and will be the one who knows the ropes when it comes to people and places.  May I just start by saying I AM FREAKING OUT.  I have been so nervous!  It is my first transfer and I have no idea what to expect.  Each day I am reminding myself that the Lord is still with me.  And he knows what will happen.  So if I rely on Him, He will guide me.  That doesn't make me any less nervous though;)  Please keep me in your prayers!
Sharing one last moment together!
I challenge you to go and watch the new video "He is the Gift" on LDS.org. Watch it then share it to your Facebook.  It is a great message and is a good reminder on what our focus should be on this Christmas season.  Speaking of Christmas season...everyone and their dog had their Christmas trees and lights up on their houses the DAY after Thanksgiving.  Very eager for Santa Clause to get here I guess!

I love you all so much and hope that you have a good week.  You are always in my prayers!  Keep writing and e-mailing!  It truly makes such a difference in my week <3
Sister Mallory Golden

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gratitude!

Hello there once again! :)  Another week has passed and here I am writing to you from the little local library down the road from my apartment. 

So this weekend was a pretty busy one for us.  We had to be in Jacksonville at 7:30 am for the Holiday Parade!  The ward made a float and all of us missionaries walked beside it the whole parade.  The manger, Mary and Joseph + Baby Jesus, wise men, and angels were all on it waving and saying Merry Christmas.  Before the parade started, our float was missing Mary and Joseph and they needed someone to step in and act in their place for the judges.  Well I was chosen as well as one of the Elders!  Everyone told me I made for a great Mary and looked just like her! Haha.  It was fun.  The extra layers from the costume kept me a lot warmer- it was around 35 degrees out and the sun was hidden behind the trees!  Not the most ideal!

The senior missionaries had made a lot of hot chocolate and were handing it out to the people watching the parade.  Somewhere around 300 people had come by and used the restroom and took some hot chocolate expressing their gratitude in our church being so helpful and kind!  That was great.



While we were walking in the parade we got a lot of great responses from the crowd - in past years there have been no religious floats or anything surrounding Christ at all in the Holiday parade.  We got a lot of, "Praise God!  I like 'dat!  Keep Jesus in Christmas!" or "Yeah, that's right! Ya'll got the right idea!"  So we were kind of a hit with the religious people of the community:)










A few hours later we had a baptism for Ryan (Brooke's husband).  This has been the most spiritual baptism I have had on my mission so far...well, all 2.5 months of it.  The speakers all brought such a strong spirit and the musical number brought everyone to tears.  The Bishop closed with a powerful testimony and you could feel the love in the room that everyone had for Brooke and Ryan.  The next day at church they bore their testimonies in Sunday School and thanked everyone for being such a significant part in their lives.  The gospel is truly working on them and changing them in front of my eyes.  It is an amazing thing to see and to be a part of.  They are a prime couple and are already making plans to go be sealed in the temple in a year.  They already told me that they would wait until February of 2016 when I get off my mission because they want me there :)

A fun service activity we did this week was something similar to 'heart attacking' some member's front doors.  We made a bunch of gratitude notes and stuck them to the door of two members and rang the doorbell and ran.  We had a young wife (whose husband is away at training with the Marines) help us make them, then deliver them.  It was great for her because she has been a convert for less than a year, and she is meeting more people when she comes out with us.  She took us to Mexican food for dinner and then we watched the movie The Testaments at her home for a lesson.  This movie is really good and I suggest you watch it if you haven't seen it!

On Sunday we went onto Base to try and go meet with a few Less active members of the ward.  I felt impressed we should go see a young family that is pretty active, but the husband doesn't come a lot because he works the Saturday night graveyard shift at the Naval Hospital.  They were on our back up list in case the other families weren't home, but as we were driving down their street I said, "We need to go see the Benson's!"  I had no clue why...but we went in and talked with Sister Benson for a good hour about many things. She is 7 months pregnant and has been having a lot of fatigue during this pregnancy.  Her 18 month old daughter was with us and keeping us all entertained, but Brother Benson was upstairs probably sleeping, so she had to keep an eye on her daughter.  After we left, Sister Benson texted us that night and said, "Thanks so much for stopping by.  It's simple, but I believe that Heavenly Father does  send angels in our lives at a certain time!"  She had obviously needed some company and some people to talk to, so it's good that we followed the impression and stopped by.  You never know who needs something, even those we consider strong members.

So after dinner this week with one of the members, I was trying to be helpful and put the salad dressing away.  I stuck it in the shelf that is on the door of the fridge, and something weird happened!  The whole shelf FLEW out of the fridge and the contents went everywhere!  Good thing they were all just bottles and condiments, nothing glass.  But I was mortified!  I couldn't believe it.  I was embarrassed because just a few minutes earlier I accidentally knocked over the soy sauce and it spilled on my place mat.  Everyone was teasing me and said they didn't know I had a clumsy side.  I am not usually clumsy, but I reevaluated this thought after dumping the popcorn onto my lap during the movie while I was trying to make room for the dog who was trying to get down off the couch.  It was just one of those days I guess.  Awkward.

The weather has been real funky this week.  One day its in the 30's, then it's all windy and gross the next day but in the 50's, and then you get days like today where it rains and it gets humid and jumps into the 60's!  I just don't get it.  But I am glad it hasn't snowed here.  If I were at school in Rexburg it would be in the negatives and snowing everyday.  So I need to count my blessings I guess!

This week I learned how to Crochet! And no. It is NOT easy.  And yes.  I did get very grumpy.  I didn't get very far and Mellisa kept having to come over and remind me what the next step was.  I have short term memory loss when it comes to needles and thread.  I am trying to make an ear warmer head band, but it looks more like...a small square of fuzzy yarn.  Not very becoming.  I don't know if crocheting will become a hobby of mine; but you never know! 

Good news!  We got our tire fixed.  There was a nail in it and we just hadn't been able to see it I guess.  We took it to Good Year and had them pull it out and pump it back up for us.  Now we don't have to have Brother Cunningham pump it up every Wednesday night!  Even though he was so happy to help:)  We were able to go over to his house this week to try and work on family history.  But it was frustrating for me.  I don't know where I put my pedigree chart, and I can't remember anyone's birthdays, or the names of my great grandparents.  I didn't get very far because of this and was super bummed because my companion is already back in the 1500's with her family just from going those 2 days.  So I was sitting and talking with sister Cunningham about it and she saw little tears in my eyes and was consoling me and telling me it's okay that I will get it done soon!  She has a whole room full of binders with her family history and all the important documents for them.  They are so amazing at it.  They are our “safe house” which means that if there is ever a storm and we are told to leave, we go to their home for safe keeping.  I told them I was praying for a storm so that we could come over for a full day and I could just look at all of their family history and whack out some of mine!  They just laughed.  But we ARE going to their house for dinner on Thanksgiving;)

The Cunningham's
I think that the Lord places us in the right place and the right time to either be of comfort for others, or to answer someone else's prayers.  This week we had to go to Ace Hardware to make a copy of our house key for our mission home, and had decided to go to the library later after cleaning the apartment for check ups.  Well, we are driving down the road and are coming to the stop light before our turn.  I felt like we should just go to the library then, because we were out and about and it just made more sense to go now rather than later.  So I told this to my companion and we continued on down to the library to do some FB proselyting.  When we got there, we ran into Sister Giltner, an older single lady in our ward that is struggling financially right now.  She saw us and came over to chat for a minute.  Then she stopped, looked directly at me, and said, "Can I just have a big hug?" Of course I asked no questions and threw my arms around her and squeezed her tight.  After a bit we released and she told us of the challenges she is currently facing.  She may be losing her trailer, she doesn't have much money left and has been using her savings fund, she has had to borrow a members car, and her kids are ignoring her.  We mostly just listened to her and I gave her some ideas on where to go to apply for a job since she doesn't have one now.  Before she left she whispered to me and said, "you were an answer to my prayers today, thank you."  It was touching, and it has been reaffirmed to me that we must always listen to promptings.

With it being close to Thanksgiving, I have a small quote from President Uchtdorf in the April 2014 conference.  He said “It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach? We can choose to be grateful, no matter what. This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer. When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation.” (April ’14 Gen. Conference ‘Grateful in any circumstances’)  Let us all remember to be grateful for where we are at in life right now!

I love you all so much and hope you have a great weekend with the family:)
I miss you!
Love, sister Mallory Golden

Monday, November 17, 2014

Finished the Book of Mormon!



 Things I Learned this Week:
1. When a person begins to see something of eternity in its true perspective, the blessings begin to far outweigh the cost of leaving 'the world' behind.  
I am trying to apply this to my Mission!

2. Prayer is less about changing our circumstances and more about changing us.  It is about seeking His will and asking for His help to do what we need to do.  I am trying to do this each day, and I am realizing how different our purpose becomes when our perspectives shift.  

Food of the Week:
This week some of my favorite dinners were when we had “Homemade” Pizzas, Sushi Bar, Thai Night, Taco Tuesday, and a Potato Bar with Turkey!  Just a little rant about the food.  It's NOT all fried! Hallelujah!  Haha:)

Homemade Pizza

Highlights:
1. Brooke's husband who was deployed in Romania had been given permission to come home for 2 weeks!  His first question was, "Can the Sisters come over?"  And the first thing he asked us was, "Can I get baptized next Saturday?"  He has been investigating for three years and finally felt the push when Brooke, his wife was baptized.  Now they are preparing to go to the temple and be sealed a year after his baptism.  YAY!  Families are GOLD if you can find them:)

2. Next, Mellisa (our recent convert) has told us that she will teach us how to crochet! I am going to make a head band (the ear warmer ones), because I am dumb and either can't find where I packed mine, or totally left them at home.  I am excited!  Then we are going to get really warm fuzzy yarn and make baby hats for the NICU in Wilmington, because they are in need of them! 

3. This week we were able to see a lot of members because of dinner appointments, and going out with them on splits.  We got some recent converts to come along with us to these dinners and worked on fellow-shipping them into the ward even more.  For a fun activity we watched the Joseph Smith Movie about the Restoration, The Emma Smith Story, and The Testaments.  They were all REALLY good!  I hadn't seen them before.  I couldn't believe the trial and hardships some of these people had to endure.  It was a testimony builder to me- they wouldn't have gone through all of that turmoil if the church wasn't true.  No way Jose!  After one of these lessons we went out into the backyard and checked out the chicken coop that was back there.  We ended up leaving her house with free eggs:)  All 18 of them!

4. We taught the lesson out at Camp Johnson this Sunday to the young Marines.  I am glad when they show up because boot camp just drains them and takes everything they have and breaks them down.  There were about 6 that showed up which is way better than usual!  They were all excited that the sisters were teaching...I think it is because they rarely ever see girls.  Haha.  But they were all nice and respectful.  They threw me off though when I challenged them all to commit to something for this week.  They looked at me and said, "Yes mam!" I just laughed haha!  It is the military way.

5. Two of the members in our ward have gotten my companion and I Christmas gifts!  So nice of them!  Transfers are coming up on Dec 2nd and they wanted to make sure we got stuff in case we are leaving.  One of the ladies got us sock slippers, and a hot chocolate care package!  Yay!  It's getting cold.  The other lady got us back massage-rs that vibrate when you push a button!  Oh how heavenly!

Fun Reindeer Slippers!
6.  We had another Zone Training this week.  It was super good this time- considering I've been to two, ha!  I got a lot of revelation and I learned many new things.  Afterwards us sisters all met at the local mexican food place and had lunch together!  It was a blast.  You get rice, a taco, an enchilada and of course the chips and salsa for $5.08!  Such a deal!  And we get to chat and be social for just a little bit.  It's a nice break:)

Zone Training
Having lunch together













































Funny of the Week:
So since I'm a Washington girl, I am pretty used to the rain...right?  We go out running at 6:45 on Tuesday morning and see that there is a light drizzle.  My companion looks around and I can tell she in considering going back inside.  I take off and start running so that she has to follow me!  I don't want to be inside more than I have to be!  We get down the street and the rain has picked up a little bit.  We turn the corner and the rain seems to get a little thicker.  I am telling myself we will hit a dry patch where the clouds break...just like back home.  Well, we reach our destination of the area we usually run in and the rain just LETS down!  I am thinking to myself, "Oh Great."  We turn back and start heading to our apartment.  It took us twice as long because we had to keep wiping our eyes so we could SEE where we were going!  Back inside we are drenched, hot, and probably sweaty.  Who knows.  But that showed me that West Coast rain is VERY different from East Coast rain and not to forget it!  Haha.  Then low and behold 15 minutes later it got sunny.  Just my luck.

Soaking Wet!
It is getting around that I try and eat healthy and haven't been eating desserts that are being offered.  So more families are making salad when we come to eat with them, and less desserts.  HA!  One of the families got us snacks from the Commissary and gave Sister Arave Gluten free protein bars, and then whipped out 'Veggie crisps' and 'nut trail mix' for me!  I died laughing!  It's so cute seeing people try to guess what I will like and what is healthy.  I am not picky!  I’m just trying to be careful so I don't gain any more weight:)  I always appreciate the help and love from the members though:) 

Remember This: 
When we explain a problem and a proposed solution, sometimes Heavenly Father answers yes, and sometimes no.  Often he withholds an answer not for lack of concern, but because he loves us- perfectly.  He wants us to apply truths he has given us.  For us to grow, we need to trust our ability to make correct decisions.  We need to do what we feel is right.  In time he will answer.  He will not fail us.

Consider This:
Our personal prayers are a barometer of our spiritual strength and an indicator of our spiritual well being.  What would listening to your personal prayers reveal about you and your relationship with Heavenly Father?

I love you all and hope you know that you are in my prayers:)
Keep me updated!  I want to hear all about your lives and what's going on in them!

Using my time wisely by "multi-tasking"
  
Love always,
Sister Mallory Golden :)