Monday, January 26, 2015

My Birthday!!

Happy 21st Birthday!
This week was a pretty good one!  It is funny, I am almost at my 5 month mark and now I am starting to feel the days going by faster.  The days are still pretty long, and we work hard.  But when it comes to 9pm at night and we are planning for the next day I find myself thinking, 'Wow, it is already bed time again.'  So in that regard, time seems to be going more quickly.  However, I think the mission has made me less of a morning person.  Because every time my alarm goes off, my heart sinks, I get a pit in my stomach, and I cover my eyes so the light doesn't blind me when Sister Jones turns the lamp on.  I have caught myself giving an audible groan as I hit my alarm (to turn it off of course.)  But after our workout, breakfast, and study time, I find myself saying I like waking up early because I've already done a ton and it is only 10:15.  Haha.  

So last Monday I was able to get my hair trimmed!  There is a young wife in our ward who is a cosmetologist, so she offered to feed us dinner then do our hair.  I was super excited.  Well, that 'trim' turned into a hair-CUT.  She straightened my hair for me afterwards so I didn't really notice the length until I showered and wore it natural.  Oh my, It is just under my shoulders.  I think it was this short in 5th grade when I cut all my hair off!  I cried a little..haha.  I am just telling myself it is healthy and easier to take care of as a busy missionary.  Pray for me that it grows!
Tuesday we had Zone Conference.  The President and his wife came and instructed us as well as our Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders.  MY companion and I were in charge of making some role plays, demonstrating them, and then having the Zone do them.  It was fine, but we were both nervous- especially with our Mission President being there! 

Mission President's Wife ~ Sister Bernhisel

Wednesday morning when our alarm went off Sister Jones asked me if it was 6:30.  She has been doing this every day, haha.  I think we both have hopes it is going off early so we can hit the snooze and get some more sleep.  Sadly it is never the case. Today was also the day that we were supposed to go out on exchanges with two ladies in our Relief Society, but they CANCELLED.  Both of them.  When we go out with members it really helps because it saves our miles on the car.  But we have enough for this month so we drove around and visited people ourselves.  We saw all the young wives this day, all 19-21 years old.

The Young Marine Wives
They have to stay home all day because their husbands are at work and they only have 1 car.  (It is actually really boring sounding.)  But we went over to see them at the perfect time!  The first girl is pregnant and is my age, and we were able to help her clean her whole kitchen, and cut out letters for her son's nursery.  The second girl had been having a hard day and was feeling really lonely, so when we showed up she got really excited and thanked us for coming to see her.  She never comes to church because her husband is a non-member and she has been struggling with her testimony her whole life.  It makes me so grateful for my testimony and being able to learn more and grow every day.  The next girl we saw had JUST gotten back from dropping off her husband at the air port.  He is going to Japan for a deployment and will be gone for 9-12 months.  She cried a little bit to us and said it was a tender mercy we stopped by because she really didn't want to be alone.  So I know that even though our previous plans fell through (all of them) we were supposed to go and see those sweet girls and be there for them.  The Lord knows best!

That night ended up being so good though!  We taught the Elisara family, who are friends with someone in the ward and are interested in the church.  We had taught them the restoration, and were going to teach them the Plan of Salvation.  We had the usual amazing Samoan meal, and then had our lesson.  We were given some laminated visual aids to use, that made it so much easier to teach because it kept it simple, and understandable.  They loved it and had so many questions about the Celestial Kingdom.  After we were done, the father said he wanted to be with his family forever and didn't want to do anything to ruin that.  They are SO ready for this gospel and asked us to keep teaching them every week and that they would feed us dinner beforehand.  They are so amazing.  I have only been with them twice, but I already love them so much.  Christlike love and charity is a real thing!  I didn't think I would be able to break those thick walls down that I had put up because of previous heart break, but when you rely on the Savior and allow His enabling power to influence your life, you truly can be healed and changed.  

Thursday morning....oh boy.  That morning was SO thrown off for us!  Both the alarm clock and the phone didn't go off!  So at 7:15 I woke up to my companion flying out of bed and saying, "Sister Golden! It's 7:15!!!"  I responded in a weird way- I was still pretty groggy and tired, and I ended up laughing after she said that.  I thought it was the funniest thing that she called me Sister Golden and not Mallory. Because that is what I was so used to.  Anyways, we got up and got ready and didn't get to work out that day.  BUMMER.  That day was kind of just a haze for us, but that's fine.  That night when we were going over to see our investigator Gabby, at like 8pm, Sister Jones was craving pizza really bad and stopped at Michaelangelo's and got a thin crust, HUGE slice of pizza!  It was as big as her head.  Oh the missionary life.

Saturday was my BIRTHDAY!  The big 21.  Wow, I feel so old!  No, not really ;)
I got some packages, letters, cards and candies from family, friends, and loved ones:)  YAY <3

My companion sang me happy birthday and made me a protein shake (we are so weird...).  
We got some amazing news right after study time.  The Mission president sent out a voicemail to all the Zones announcing that Elder D. TODD CHRISTOFFERSON would be coming to speak to our mission February 20th!  Sister Jones and I were jumping around the room screaming and laughing!  We are SO excited!!!
That afternoon was spent visiting less actives on our ward roster (like usual) and going on an exchange with a few ladies in the ward.  That night we went to Sister Abasta's for dinner and she made us fish and veggies because she remembered me saying I loved seafood!  How sweet is that?!  Then she gave me a little present and card that ended up being a watch!  One that I can work out in!  It was something I have actually been wanting, so she was happy when she saw how happy I was:) It was the perfect gift.  Instead of going to go and visit the family we had an appointment with, we randomly showed up to the Frozen Yogurt place.  I was so confused, but they made me go inside.  There were about 5 of my favorite families in the ward that were there along with the young wives that I'm friends with!  They all planned to surprise me and have a little party at the Forzen Yogurt place since I love that stuff.  It was so sweet of them!  It made my day:)

I hope you are doing well and know how much I love you and miss you!  Thank you for everything you have done for me:)
Have such a good week!  Love you so much <3
Sister Mallory Golden

Monday, January 19, 2015

Challenge: Invitation Super Sunday

This last week we had some more crazy weather.  Freezing temperatures, followed by a rain and thunder storm, and then a sunny day of 65 degrees.  I can never get on top of it, it seems like!

So this last week held some very interesting appointments.  We went to go contact a less active family (which is what we usually are doing in this area) and they let us right in!  That was a surprise and a treat at the same time.  They were an older couple- a retired military family as well.  The wife was this little Philippine woman who had quite a temper!  

She told us all the stories of how she had gotten offended at church, how she hates girls because her daughter is rude, and how she is just 'pissed off' at anybody who crosses her path (Yikes).  Keep in mind she is like 4.5 feet tall and has a thick accent, haha.  She had a huge catholic shrine in her living room and pictures from the Catholic church all over her kitchen.  She didn't really understand the scripture or message we shared with them... but she did give us home-made chicken noodle soup (philipino style) and ribs.  The sister from our ward who came out with us asked us if contacting was always that fun.  Haha. it is not.  At least in that way :)

Another day we got to go help a new mom in our ward clean her downstairs to prepare for her in-laws arrival the next day.  Well, this cute little house really needed some TLC... they have a dog who sheds a LOT.  We had to sweep a couple times to get all the dirt and hair up before we mopped... then had to mop a few times to get all the dry dirt off the wood.  We then proceeded to do the other chores that a kitchen usually requires.  It was nice to be able to perform some service in a home, but at the same time I was taking notes on what to do and what not to do in my future home:) It's crazy how much I am learning about being a wife/mother/adult on my mission.   But I am grateful!

That same night we had dinner with one of my favorite members!  Her husband was away training in the field that week, so she wanted us over for some company.  Her two little kids are so adorable, which helps:)  She made an AWESOME Thai dinner and then a 'cultural dessert', which is what we decided to call it after we were all done making it.  It was supposed to be like tapioca pudding... but it turned out more like hot mushy glue looking stuff.  Haha, we all died.  The recipe called for leche fruit and some other random things we had no idea about.  It was a 'cultural experience' we decided:)  "Better to be experienced than not" she said!  She served her mission in El-Salvador and decided she will make us a native dinner next time we come over. I'm excited!

On Thursday night there was a Relief Society activity at the church.  And this was a fun one!  My companion and I were asked to teach - so we prepared a pretty good lesson.  The focus of the evening was on testimonies and how we can build them and increase them.  As we were teaching we related each thing to the take-home hot chocolates the ladies were going to be making later.  So each ingredient they added to their hot chocolate represented a trait or task that was needed in order to complete a testimony.  At the end we went over really quickly some etiquette that comes when sharing your testimony... everyone always needs a little friendly reminder ;)

So my biggest pet peeve is when people ignore the appointments we set up with them the week prior.  We stopped by THREE homes where we had set appointments on Friday, but all of them told us it was a bad time.  Would you like to hear the excuses we got?
1. Oh, well, my wife is feeling a little down and tired right now.  She just got toe surgery and is not up for a visit today.
2. We are actually on our way to....the park.
3. Oh shoot..I actually have something on the stove that is boiling. And if I recall right, it isn't supposed to be I gotta go check on that.  Bye!
Yes.  This is real and happened.  Haha.  I decided I need to get a little notebook and write down all the excuses we get.  
The next lady we went to see told us that if we keep pushing her to come to church she was going to hiss like a snake...I guess she isn't ready! So we slithered out of there... bahah.

On Saturday we were able to go visit a less-active family that NO ONE gets in to see.  Not a missionary, visiting teacher, home teacher or leader can make it through the door.  Well guess who did?!  These sisters.  I don't know how or why, but I know that the spirit softened their hearts, and it wasn't because of US at all.  We commented on how cute their golden retriever puppies were and chatted about their lives.  

We left the gospel talk out for a while.  When they saw that we were interested in THEM, and cared about their feelings and lives, they let us in.  I can now see the importance of loving and having charity with everyone you teach or come in contact with.  Sometimes it is hard, especially when you are a judgmental person like me, but it pays off in the end. is what Jesus would do... (WWJD).

Last Sunday I forgot to tell you that I was asked to give a talk.  It was on the second coming and how we can use the scriptures to prepare us.  The first two speakers spoke for a good 5-7 minutes.  That left me a lovely chunk of time to blabber on and on about the topic.  It actually ended up being okay:) And I love speaking so I didn't mind too much once I got started.  I filled the remaining time and got a few compliments later.

This next Sunday is going to be a pretty great one!  The Raleigh Mission is doing something called 'Invitation Super Sunday' and we are basing each talk, and class on the fundamentals of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is to make it investigator friendly and more understandable for those who do have questions about our church.  This whole last month we have been asking our members to pray about a friend to bring with them for the 25th.  So far each family has a name they are praying on!  So that is great in and of itself! :)   
We can not let the ever expanding gap between the Lord’s ways and the world’s ways deter us to teach and invite for “I say unto you that ye are chosen out of the world to declare my gospel with the sound of rejoicing, as with the voice of a trump. Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom. Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being united in prayer according to my command, ye shall receive. And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts.” 
With this wonderful promise I cannot wait for INVITATION SUPER SUNDAY, and our followup!

I love you all and hope you are doing well.  Family scripture study, prayers, and meals are so, so amazing.  I am grateful we did that growing up as best we could.  Family meals are something I always think back on and remember:) You are all great examples to me!  
I challenge you to all invite a friend to church with you this week...that is what I will be doing:) So join me!  Love you all <3
Mallory (Sister Golden)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Becoming a Sister Training Leader

This week has been pretty good.  Some of the days were just down right slow.  But you have to have those days so you know when the good ones come along.  We work a lot with the less active and part member families in our ward as we have been trying to find new investigators.  So that is mostly what we did this last week.  There are a few lessons that did stand out that I would like to share though!  On Tuesday we ran into a woman named Doreen who is actually Lutheran but her husband is LDS.  She chatted with us for a minute on her porch before finally saying, "you know, you always show up here.  So persistent you Mormons!  I don't mean to sound rude, but we are just NOT interested."  She sounded a little flabbergasted and confused.  I would have taken this as a cue to leave, but my senior companion who has been doing this for a lot longer than I have, pushed onward and continued to talk!  By doing so this woman ended up softening and telling us some of the struggles she has been going through right now involving family.  We shared a few scriptures with her and even got to say a prayer with her on her porch.  Well, she ended up loving us and inviting us inside to eat her home-made German cookies!  I can testify that if you love someone and listen to them, they will be more susceptible to the spirit and that is what you need to be successful.  I am learning so much from Sister Jones!

Wednesday we had zone training up in Wilmington so we had to wake up at 5:45 and leave and 6:30 to make it there by 8:15.  We had training from our Zone leaders from 9-12, did a few role plays, and said our goodbyes to those who were being transferred.  That's always a sad day.  Afterwards, it was Sister Jones and my turn to go on exchanges with the Sisters from Hampstead who are currently the Sister Training Leaders for our Zone.  (Tomorrow Sister Jones and I will take over as the STL’s).  I went with Sister East to her area where a member from her ward took us out to lunch. 

We went to Chipotle and I got a burrito- it was so good. The lady and her husband were a little bit quirky so that made for a good time.  They told us stories about their 10 cats, and new dog and the many travels they have been on and animal shelters they volunteer at frequently.  We walked through the Whole Foods store afterwards and I thoroughly enjoyed perusing through all the isles of healthy food and seeing what 'new' things are popular now if you want to be fit.  
That day we just went around and visited the members and less actives in Sister East's ward.  the members we visited were amazing.  So welcoming, loving and giving!  That just instills in me the want to be a great returned missionary and when I am older to be a good member missionary.
Since their church building is being renovated, they are currently meeting in a Catholic church.  You can probably imagine my face as we roll up and walk inside this catholic building.  It was finally explained to me that the local catholic church reached out and offered to let their ward meet in their building and added trailers to the back where the Young Women, Men and Primary could meet.  Sister East and I helped the young women decorate the trailer they would be meeting in so it didn't look so gloomy, and had Costco pizza!  We worked on their personal progress afterwards:)  I really hope that one day I get a calling in the young womens.  They are so fun!
That night we got a voice-mail from our mission president's wife saying that the next day was going to hold freezing temperatures and if your skin was exposed you may get frostbite and get hypothermia!  Well this freaked us out!  We were counseled to leave one faucet dripping during the night so they wouldn't freeze.  The next morning was about 17 degrees, but the 'feel like' was somewhere around 5.  Brrr.  That is not my kind of weather.  That just reminds me of school up in Rexburg!  We didn't exchange back to our own areas until around noon when things finally warmed up a bit.  It is always nice coming back to your own area and companion:)  

Friday I hit my 4 month mark of being a missionary!  Yay!  Well, that's good, haha.  We did our weekly planning that day, so we stayed in for most of it.  But dinner that night was amazing.  This member made us cajun shrimp, with honey glazed salmon, and risotti with a divine salad.  It made me miss Washington and all the seafood!  Mmmm:)
Go Hawks!
I have come to the realization that you don't prepare your whole life to go on a mission.  Your mission prepares you for the rest of your life.  Everything that I am learning out here can be applied for what will come in my future.  Being a better friend, daughter, sister, a wife someday (hopefully, ha!) and mother.  I have been able to become more converted myself and I know that in turn that will help me in my life once I am off the mission.
I am grateful for all that I have learned.  That knowledge has definitely come through hard work, sacrifices, and tears.  But on an eternal perspective it is so worth it.  I hope to give my mission all I've got.  In the garden of Gethsemane Christ asks his disciples why they couldn't wait up with him for but one hour?  They had succumbed to the natural man and fallen asleep.  I try and apply that to myself and picture the Savior asking me, "could you not stay awake for just 18 months?"  I want to try and do just that.

I love you so much and miss you!  I pray for you all everyday!  Do good things and read your scriptures:)
<3 Mallory

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year!

I can't believe it is already 2015!  I remember last New Years and being in Canada skiing... crazy to think how much has happened and changed 365 days after that.  For New Years we had to be inside by 6pm just for safety reasons.  So after District Meeting and a few lessons we went over to a members home and made home-made individual pizzas!  Sister Searls got a really good dough recipe off of Pinterest- I miss Pinterest ;) Haha.  After that we helped her make their families traditional Popcorn Balls.  This was a bunch of popcorn held together by melted down marshmallow with peanuts and M&M's inside - yumm!  Since we couldn't watch any of the movies they had they kindly pulled up the Restoration movie that is on Netflix and we watched that until we had to go.  It was a pretty fun night:)  

But as for the rest of this week!  
I guess I still have one of 'those' faces.  I was asked to give a talk for next Sunday on the second coming and how the scriptures can aid us as this time draws nearer.  Okay- that is deep!  I hope I do well, haha.  
On a random note, it was also 70 degrees and rainy on Sunday.  This weather is WEIRD!

A really interesting visit we had this week was with a woman who hasn't been to church in 15 years because she got offended a long time ago.  She is a very loud woman and didn't have a filter!  When we first got there she kept saying that we didn't really care about her, and were going to leave soon and not come back, and that we were there to condemn her.  This was all false.  But we didn't get much of a word in because she did most of the talking.  Some of the things she said to us as we were listening to her were, "You look pitiful, pumpkin!"  "Are you TIRED over there? I saw you YAWN!"  And none of this was said in an 'inside' voice.  We couldn't help but smile to ourselves at the very unique situation we were in.  But by the end of the visit we could see how apparent the Holy Ghost was in the room.  She had softened, accepted a return appointment, said she would have us for dinner, and gave us some tea to help our sicknesses we were battling.  My testimony grew and I knew then that having the companionship of the holy ghost when you go visit people is so crucial.  He is the one who softens their hearts and allows them to feel the love we have to offer.  

Another lesson we taught this week was interrupted by what you could call a small 'cat-fight.'  One of our recent converts has a roommate that has been causing some issues in the household.  So rather than listening to us and the message we had to share, a sensitive subject got brought up and they ended up having a full out argument in front of us about their problems and feelings.  We sat there just staring at the random pet turtle that has become a part of their 'happy' family via adoption.

When the roommate stormed out of the house we sat there awkwardly listening to our recent convert vent and ask us what to do.  We gave the typical answer of 'read your scriptures and pray' but couldn't say much else.  We are advised not to 'counsel' people we teach in their problems they may be having.  Half an hour later the roommate came back in saying she just broke a nail and they ended up becoming friends again over the fact that they would go get their nails re-done that afternoon.  Women I tell ya...

FRIDAY.  The day that added to my already building stress!  After studying that morning we got a phone call.  But this wasn't any old phone call.  My companion picked up the phone and immediately her mouth fell open.  She looked at me and said, IT'S THE MISSION PRESIDENT! PRESIDENT BERNHISEL!  We answered the phone and had a few short words before he got to the point.  He said, "Sisters, transfers are coming up and it is time for some changes..."  I was panicking!!!!  My companion that whole last week had been teasing me that I would be called to train this next transfer because she feels I am such a mature missionary and ready for more responsibility.  I brushed it off saying I would throw up and die if I were ever called to train.  Well this conversation flashed through my head as I sat there numbly listening to his voice.  He continued, "I would like to extend the calling to you two, to become the next Sister Training Leaders for the Zone." (This is being in charge of all the Sister missionaries in our stake, teaching at Zone conferences and zone trainings, going on exchanges with the other sisters each week, traveling to leadership trainings with the other leaders in the mission, meeting with the President and his wife, having weekly phone conferences, and making sure we are mindful of the well-being of the sisters in our Zone.)  My companion was jumping for joy because she has wanted to be a Sister Training Leader (STL) for forever!  I was just trying not to pass out- so I sat down.  When the phone call ended she asked me what was wrong.  I told her I felt overwhelmed.  Why would they call me, a 3 month old missionary to be a STL?  I was still so new and so inadequate.  She told me that this was extended from the Lord.  And even though it doesn't happen often, The Lord wanted me to serve this area as well as have responsibility over it.  I had a little cry session, and then got over myself and bucked up.  I am still scared, but I am not as stressed out about it as I was in the beginning.  

De-stressing with a facial mask

Stuff I've learned
I have been able to learn a lot this week in my morning studies.  I will share some of what those things were.  First comes from a talk that was given by Elder James J. Hamula called “The Sacrament and the Atonement” given in October 2014.
Bread and Wine (water):
- Emblems of Israels past  salvation from slavery and death
- Of a future redemption yet to be realized  
The participation of taking the sacrament:
- Is a solemn acceptance of Jesus Christ and a whole-hearted willingness to follow him and keep his commandments 
- Symbolic; "Spiritual death would pass over' them.
Priesthood brethren breaking the bread:
- Are expressing gratitude for and faith in His marvelous redemption of them.  
As we take it:
- We recommit ourselves to more closely align our lives with His in days to come.  We can claim the blessings of this supreme act of grace.

This week I had a bad case of 'stress' (as you have already read). I'm pretty sure you understand what this emotion is and can testify that when it gets bad enough, it can be debilitating!  I get caught up and stressed out about the little details and the schedule that is associated with being a 'Missionary'.  After getting through the week I started studying on the topic of Tender Mercies.  Elder Bednar describes tender mercies as "The very personal and individualized blessings, guidance, loving-kindness, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and through the Lord Jesus Christ."  
President Eyring continues saying that it is important to write down our daily tender mercies.  He says "More than gratitude began to glow in my heart.  Testimony grew.  I became more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers.  I felt more gratitude for the suffering and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ.  And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance - even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.”
My Mission President wrote to us also about tender mercies in the letters we receive from him.  "Sometimes the tender mercies are the hard things in our lives.  Do we take the time to see how our testimonies grow as a result of those hard times?  Do we grow as a result of those hard times?  Do we take the time to see how we grow and become the person our Heavenly Father wants us to become because of those hard things?"  Nephi states in the Book of Mormon, "Behold I Nephi will show unto you that all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."  As we increase our gratitude and recognize the tender mercies in our lives the Lord will shower us with more.  Learn to recognize those blessings and mercies in your life!

I hope you had the chance to set some goals or resolutions for yourself!  3Nephi 12:47-48 says that Old things are gone away and new things are coming...make a goal for yourself to become more like your Savior:)

I miss you and love you so much! 
Sister Golden