Monday, April 20, 2015

Getting to Know the Area!

Well, this week was a good one!  Full of lots of exciting things!
Tuesday we did a lot of service for the community...all revolved around the senior citizens.  Ha!  We first helped out at a Senior Recreation Center and they had this cute little gym there for the old people to exercise in, and some other classes for them.  Sister Ibarra and I helped out in the organization department, helping put up fliers, putting together bags, information, and a bulletin board.  It was fun.  I kept eyeing the work out room though- maybe one day I will personal train the seniors ;)

After that we headed out with a sister in the ward to go and see some of the people who are listed on our ward roster, but no one has met them yet.  Unfortunately, none were home.  That happens often which is a bummer.  One day Sister Ibarra and I went out tracting and knocked on 18 empty doors, and the rest told us to go away.  ONE guy was nice to us and complimented our efforts. That was the tender mercy for the day, ha. 

That afternoon after a quick lunch at the church (thanks to meal prepping on Monday!  We are too busy to cook!) we went to a Nursing Home and Memory Center.  I was super nervous because in the past I always got super anxious going into places like that.  But I know that Heavenly Father blessed me and I was actually okay!  We colored, played bingo, cut out flowers, and talked with the residents for an hour and a half.  This one little old man named Tom told me that he had been reading in the National Geographic lately and I asked him what he had learned!  He told me with a very stern face, hands gripping his wheel chair handles, "The native African women don't wear no braziers!"  I died!  I tried not to laugh out loud, but I thought it was funny:)  He told me a little bit later that he had bad knees, and when I asked why he told me he was in the Air Force most of his life.  I asked him when he retired and he looked at me for a few seconds, then responded, "3 years ago!"  I had to keep reminding myself that I couldn't believe everything these little old people told me because they had memory problems.  But I learned that I am a very gullible person, haha!

Wednesday we had to leave the house at 4:30 in the morning.  I keep forgetting that the house has a huge security system, so we always need to disarm it before heading out.  Anyway, we drove to the Sister Training leaders house in Cameron (45 minutes away) and then drove the Sanford Sisters to Wilmington where we had Zone Conference.

Sisters from Sanford
We followed the Cameron Sister's car so I didn't have to put that much mental thought into the already long and draining morning.  That was a tough drive to do though.  We got to the church around 8 and talked with the missionaries in the other 3 Zones until the conference started.  President and Sister Bernhisel instructed us as well as a few Zone leaders and Sister leaders, then at noon we broke out for lunch.  We ate, then changed into our “play clothes” because this Zone Conference was special.  It only happens once a year!  We got to go play sports with the Elders!  Yeah, it was great.  We were split into teams and got to play Ultimate Frisbee, Capture the Flag, and Soccer!  Luckily I had a pretty athletic team and we dominated at every game.  All the elders were great and included me (I was the only sister actually PLAYING) in all the things we were doing.  It was so funny though, the first 10 minutes we had to kind of break the ice because we never ever spend time together.  So we had to force ourselves to play and mess around and touch each other during these sports!  It was SO FUN!
My District
The next day - oh heavens.  I was sore.  I guess I forgot that I hadn't played a game like that in a long time and running full out may not have been the best idea.  But instincts took over!  I was sore for the next few days.  The members all laughed at me :) That afternoon we had a thing called 'lunch bunch' with some R.S. sisters and they took us to Long Horn Steakhouse.  I am still trying to keep straight who is in what ward.  Being over 2 wards is quite challenging!  Plus, everyone lives far apart from one another.  There is a good amount of farm country out here- gorgeous, but it makes it harder.  I love it though.
That night Sister Ibarra had scheduled a Relief Society soccer night (maybe not the best idea since we were so darn sore) but it was a blast.  There were only 6 of us, but we played in the little gym and ended up having fun.  We got RSVP’s for more to come next week!  We will use this as a missionary tool as well because the ladies want to invite non-member friends.  It's a great way to introduce the church to people in a non-menacing type of way :)

Friday we had to fast walk the golf course to try and get our muscles least we succeeded in getting 30 minutes of exercise in!  It started raining on us and continued to rain all morning.  So I thought, “hey, this will be a good sweater day.”  We drove to a certain area in town, parked at a ladies house (whom we know) and BIKED around the whole area for a few hours.  (I couldn't stop laughing every time a car drove by.  Because I was picturing what they were thinking to themselves when they saw 2 girls, biking down the road in skirts...I had a goofy grin on my face the whole time...)

We had previously gone through the Area Book and found names of former investigators that were from a year or so ago and decided to go find them again.  Although they weren't home we were able to knock on doors and meet great people.  Some days you just plant seeds, represent Christ, and give a good name to the church.  I tried taking a video of us and almost fell over doing so...guess I was a bit over zealous!  But the sun did decide to come out, and when sun and wet ground in NC mix, it is not the most enjoyable experience. Never wear a sweater!  I was quite thankful for Air Conditioning later!

That evening we went over to a members home to help her organize her sewing room.  She is SO talented at sewing, but because she has been doing it for so long, she has accumulated quite a lot of stuff.  So we made a dent in that after eating dinner.

Saturday we were able to visit a less active sister in the rehab center because she had just gone through surgery to get her right leg removed.  She is a nice lady- but I couldn't really look at her at first because I got nauseous when I did...I just looked in my book of Mormon for a picture to share.  Then we proceeded to help Sister Edwards again with her sewing room.  We did a LOT to it, and I decided that I need to learn how to sew!  Or do something of that sort.  There are so many talents I want to acquire because of my mission!  I see all these things other people do and I want to do them ALL! Ha.

Sundays are my favorite days now.  I go to church from 7:30 - 5:30 in the evening.  Meetings, two wards, and choir.  It is a day I get to actually listen and learn rather than teach and discern.  It is a nice little break in my week and allows me to forget EVERYTHING we have to do and just relax and breathe.  But this Sunday that was short lived.  I was called on and asked to give a talk (which I am fine with...I actually love speaking.  But! As I walk up to go sit on the stand, I see my Mission President and his wife walk in...I was like NO WAY.

Supposedly this was the day for them to come and visit the ward.  NO pressure right?  Luckily my talk went smoothly and I didn't pass out ;)  Afterwards I was bombarded by the ward members saying I did a good job and 3 RS sisters told me I sounded like a future general presidency lady up there.  Oh good grief!  Haha.  But it was neat to hear a small talk from both President and his wife :)

I have been studying a lot about the temple this week because I get to go on Friday.  I have read a few talks, the “Preparing for the Temple” pamphlet, and in the Bible Dictionary.  It has been such a fulfilling study and my appreciation for the temple has grown.  I know that we receive blessings for taking time out of our lives for going- and I would encourage you to go as often as you can.

Never forget the power that can come from taking your questions and concerns to the temple.  It is the holiest place on this earth.  I am so excited to go!

I love you so, so much and hope you have a great week!!!! :D
<3 Sister Golden

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pinehurst, North Carolina!

Hello family!  I have some great news!  I have been transferred to a gorgeous area!  There are so many trees, flowers, golf courses, and pollen.
Pinehurst is the name, and Golf is the game!  Yep, go look it up:) I love it so far.

I am companions with Sister Ibarra who is a fellow Washingtonian, just down the road in Yakima.

She went to 2 years at BYU Idaho after graduating in 2012.  So we are pretty alike already!  She also grew up speaking Spanish!  What do you know.  She said she is going to teach me and we are going to become undercover Hermanas!  Haha.  Every morning we have a glorious run on the golf cart sidewalks snaking around the golf course.  It is so relaxing and really pretty as well.  I look forward to waking up in the mornings!

We live with the Winckley family in their home.  They have 7 children total, 3 are hers and 4 are adopted.  They are amazing and I have grown to love them!  They have a little room for the sister missionaries to live in that consists of 3 beds, and a closet, and a bathroom.  It suits all of our needs, so I am content :)  We just work around each other.

Sister Ibarra and I (as well as the one set of Spanish Elders) are covering 2 wards in this area.  So we go to church twice on Sunday, see twice the number of people during the week, and obviously will get twice the blessings ;)  On Sunday I was called and asked to get up and share my testimony, I guess I did so well that the Bishop assigned me to speak next Sunday on Missionary work.  At least I know a little bit about that topic.

My first day here was a little crazy!  We had the transfer meeting (which I was called up to give the prayer for...I just have that face...) then had to stuff my bags plus ANOTHER sister’s bags into the cars we were riding back with.  She was a last minute addition to our group because no one else was going her way.  So we trek off to go drop her off in Cameron.  When we get there low and behold I see my trainer, with Sister Skokos, who was Sister Jones' trainee!  So we all knew each other.  That was a blast.  We headed into Pinehurst which is where I will be serving.  We got to drop our bags off right away, say a quick Hi and Bye to the family we live with, then hurried to our dinner appointment with a less active older couple.  That night was a blur of visiting a lot of people and having to drive since I am now the senior companion.

Sister Ibarra has only been out for 4 months, so I am her follow up trainer.  I have to be a good example!

The following day we went and helped a lady pick up the pine cones in her yard.  I laughed at first because this sounded funny to me, but then when we arrived I saw how big and how many pine cones there were!  They have little stickers that snag on your skin if you aren't careful!  Another day we went to the rehab center for old folks and visited two older women who are in there from church.  It is neat to see how far reaching missionary work actually is.  We uplift, administer and love EVERYONE.  It is always so hard seeing those little old people in there, but I hope we can continue to do our part.

Another day we went and helped clean out a cellar for this woman who has befriended the sister missionaries.  She is a non member, and has claimed that she will never be converted and is a 'Wicken'.  But she is a funny and quirky lady and the missionaries love her.  She has 27 cats and 5 dogs, dies her hair bright colors, and has a white car with a cat face on the hood.  She is so good, I love talking with her.  She takes the Sisters out to lunch on Mondays and then grocery shopping to help out with our miles, which is SO sweet of her.

This last week Sister Ibarra and I went tracting a LOT.  We knocked on so many doors!  Many of the people chatted with us superficially and then told us that they had their own church, others were nice and listened to our message and politely declined a second visit, then you had those who opened the door to only shut it right away.  I think people are intimidated when they see two cute young girls on their porch smiling...kidding.  It's totally the name tag and the book of Mormon that scares them.  But those who had given their time to talk with us ended up saying they really enjoyed it and have a different view of the 'Mormons' now.  Talking with strangers has become more of a fun thing for me.  I have to think of ways to work the gospel into the conversation, I am getting more familiar with the scriptures because I have to flip to verses that apply to the people, and I am so comfortable with people being rude to us now!  I have no fear of man any more.  It is a great feeling to just go out and proclaim the gospel to anyone we cross paths with.  We ran into two ladies who were on their way to yoga class and after our chat they asked us to come to hot yoga with them, but sadly we had to decline.  Another lady was out looking for her lost husband (haha I laughed) and then tried getting us to listen to an online pastor she really likes in return for watching the 'He lives' video on which was funny.  A lady almost threw her chicken eggs at us through her kitchen door, and some people just lied and said they were getting ready to leave.

Up here where there are more trees, there is more pollen.  Meaning EVERYTHING is caked with this thick yellow dust.  And when it rains, if it doesn't wash it away, it just stays and gunks everything up!  It is so weird.  There are also HUGE bees.  They look like dung beetles but can fly.  It is so scary!  And they tease!  They fly fast at you then stop, then do it again.  They chased us off someone's porch even, haha.  I hate bees so much.  They are gross.

So I had a pretty incredible experience this last Saturday...while I was kneeling by my bed saying my evening prayers, an overwhelming sense of gratitude washed over me.  I had received what I had so long been begging for.  Love for my mission.  I had gotten over the initial struggle, homesickness, fear, doubt and everything else, but I still could feel ties towards home, and was just going through the motions as a missionary.  In that moment, I could feel everything being lifted.  I knew that at that time, I had placed everything on the altar of sacrifice.  I could feel a desire to work hard, I felt a love for my life as a missionary, and I was so, so grateful for all that I had learned.  I had been praying for this since day one, and it finally came.  From here on out I know that whatever comes my way, I will face it with new found dedication and stamina.

I know that my mission is helping me set habits that I will use for the rest of my life.  I am so grateful for the time that I have had to grow closer to my Savior.  I love what I am doing, and I never thought I would say it.  I am willing to be molded and shaped into who the Lord needs me to become.

I love you so much and hope you have a great week! 
Sister Golden :)

PS- here is where I'm at now!  Write me ;)

Address :
89 Stoney Kirk Dr.
Pinehurst Nc 28374

Monday, April 6, 2015


Hello to my sweet family :) I hope you had a great Easter full of traditions, and fun!  But also remembering the why behind it.  I personally love when General Conference falls on Easter, it just makes it that much more special and family oriented.

Conference was DEFINITELY the highlight of my week.  My companion Sister Jones and I made a paper chain to count down the days starting about ... 2 months ago.  It has been a long time coming and I am so sad it is already over!  But I received many answers and personal revelation from those sessions and speakers, and I hope you did as well.  One of the talks that really struck me was that of President Eyring's about fasting and giving a fast offering.  It hit home.  I need to be a lot better about having a full and meaningful fast, as well as consistently paying a fast offering.  I loved how he paralleled it to a way we can give service and help others who are in dire need.  The story of the woman in Africa, who had nothing was very touching.  She paid faithfully a tithe, fast offering and some to the missionary fund.  Although she had little to no material items, she knew the Lord would bless not only HER by keeping this commandment, but she understood that whoever the money helped, they would be greatly affected. What a great example to follow and remember.

I thought it was interesting how the theme of conference in October followed a pattern of: sustaining the prophets.  When we heard of those who stood up in the conference center Saturday and yelled 'opposed' it saddened me, but also made me reflect on all the talks that I heard last conference.  These individuals who felt it necessary to bluntly speak out only fulfilled prophecy and made me that much more steadfast in my testimony of our Prophet and his Apostles.  They are on the earth to lead and guide us, not hinder and frustrate us.  Can you imagine a world without them?  I don't want to.

We had a super fun breakfast with the cute M. family :)  She is part Philippino and made some AWESOME food.  We had some garlic rice with little potatoes and a fried egg over it.  So yummy.  Then we had some waffles and fruit alongside that.  We watched conference with them and are really pleased at how much they have progressed and moved forward with them coming back to church.  This family has really taken us in and made us feel like family.  I am so grateful for the faithful saints who help the missionaries; I know that they will be blessed.  And it teaches me more of how to be a good returned missionary one day and a member missionary.
For dinner we went to the B's house and they made all the festive Easter foods you could think of!  They topped it off with a carrot cake which was quite humorous considering the Easter bunny :)  They told us that their two boys have been really affected by our presence in their home.  One of them had made a comment one night that he was excited to go on his mission one day.  And the other is always asking when the missionaries are coming over.  I know that being a missionary is a calling in which I am set apart.  The light of Christ radiates through obedient and faithful missionaries, which blesses the lives of those they teach, but also the active members they serve.  I feel more successful knowing that the members see me as a worthy representative of Jesus Christ; because that is my duty, my calling, and my privilege.

Many missionaries get caught up with statistics and think that if the numbers aren't high, then they aren't successful.  I was feeling bad last night when we were reporting numbers because we had a really rough, and slow week.  I didn't feel like I was furthering the work, and doing what the Lord wanted me to do.  But after I said my prayers and laid down to go to bed, I was able to ponder and think more deeply about our last week.  Then came the tender mercies, the blessings, the random acts of kindness, service and more that happened but couldn't be accounted for with numerical value.  My companion and I had visited a young marine wife in her time of need.  She was feeling so lonely and helpless, being pregnant and having a deployed husband.  Us asking her to come with us to get frozen yogurt was inspired and helped her through a rough day.  Sister Jones and I went on exchanges with the sisters in the second ward and I learned a valuable lesson on humility and how we are on the path back to our heavenly home.  Each day we have focused on the ONE.  Trying to retain or find the lost sheep.  We received several tender mercies from people in the ward who had us over for conference, lunch and dinner.   Making us feel like family, and loving us when we were sad to be away from home during Easter.

I am going to have a pretty busy day tomorrow with getting up to Raleigh, going to transfer meeting, getting a new companion, then going to a new area!  I hope it all goes well, haha.  That is a lot of change in a short amount of time.  But I know that there is no growth in the comfort zone.  And heavenly Father knows what I need to become more refined and the woman he needs me to be.

I love you so much and hope you are doing well!  Know that you are in my prayers and thoughts!  Have a great week :)
Sister Mallory Golden

                            Goodbye Jacksonville 3 Ward