Monday, May 25, 2015

First Week As a Trainer!

Hello Cute Family!  How is your memorial day going?  I hope it is a blast!  We have had a pretty busy day so far, but it has been good.  I was thinking about how you Golden's would be going to the breakfast that the Scouts put on at church, what a fun time!

1st.  I opened my Mission Call ONE YEAR AGO!  What the heck!

This week was a BLUR!  Getting a new companion straight from the MTC is something that will keep me going I have found.  She is great.  Her name is Sister Burdette from Utah, and has 5 younger siblings.  All of them are adopted including her.  She is also gluten free which I thought was funny since MY trainer was gluten free.  Maybe it's a sign that I need to eat less wheat;)  She went to beauty school and graduated in 2013, and has been doing a great job this last week.  I know she is going to be a great missionary.

Tuesday was transfer day and the training meeting consisted of 10 of us trainers; 7 sisters and 3 Elders.  We were separate from our new companions for a bit, and then we met!  It was great.  We were trained together for the rest of the session.  That night was busy and she probably doesn't remember a lot of it because of the lack of sleep you get your first few days:) 

We both were able to branch out and meet more of the ward members during the week- setting up appointments and stopping by.  I've found that short visits with the members and asking them about their personal lives leads them to trust us and want us around.  Sister Burdette and I want to meet everyone in the ward and make sure that we build up that trust!  People have been so kind and considerate towards her food allergy; one lady bought her a ton of gluten free groceries for her first week, and the other members have made pizza, chicken pad thai, Zoodles (noodles that are actually zuccini) and other things that are all gluten free!  We are blessed.

We had interviews with the Mission President and his wife this week (which was great) and we talked more about conversion.  I had a little realization driving one day, that if I were to never be a part of someones conversion story on my mission, I would walk away from this experience more converted than I would have been if I had stayed home.  I have been learning a lot about the dedication that the disciples of Christ had, while reading in the New Testament.  They were so converted that they were willing to put up with all types of persecution, long journeys, leaving family, and all material things.  Not only can we learn how to be Christlike as we study the scriptures, but we can learn HOW to be better disciples of Christ by reading and pondering them. 

This lesson was meant for ME.  Because this week I faced a challenge that I had never before dealt with on my mission.  I have been serving for almost 9 months and I have run into some southerners who don't agree with our faith, but have been cordial about it.  Well, this was not the case for the first time I took Sister Burdette out tracting. 
On Saturday we happened to knock on a door that was home to the most Mormon bashing, condemning, loud and boisterous, damning people in the south.  Oh it was so bad.  I left that contact crying...of course after leaving because I had too much personal pride.  Anyways.  There was so much contention, finger pointing, negative speaking and hard questions coming from them that whole time; I was completely overwhelmed.  Our M.P. said in those situations you don't do anything but bear testimony and try and build common ground.  Don't feed the fire.  And that is exactly what we did.  They wouldn't let us leave.  They kept going and going and going.  After they told me that my God isn't the real God and I'm going to drink His wrath on Judgement day I got up and took Sister Burdette and we walked out.  They asked us to come back but that wasn't going to happen.  I have never been so shaken before.  I felt like I didn't know how to defend my faith, and they threw everything back at my face and everything they said was followed by, "Because that's in the Bible."  When we left the house the wife said, "Sorry about the mess...but my daughter just reminds me it's going to burn one day.  And that's true because it's in the Bible."  The whole time they were telling us to stop reading the Book of Mormon and to only read the Bible and kept urging us to listen to them because they were right.  I told them they weren't going to convert me, because I had received personal revelation that this was true.  And they pretended to not know what I was talking about. 
SO.  That whole day I just felt sick to my stomach and by the time we got home for the night I was just so confused and upset and lost.  They had really shook me and I was afraid that they may have taken a hit to my testimony.  In my prayers I cried out to the Lord to help me.  To take those feelings away.  And once they left, all my doubts turned into faith.  Fierce faith.  I remembered all the joy this gospel has brought me.  It's simple.  It's merciful.  I feel good because of it.  And that's all I needed.  Prayer is real; revelation is real.  And I am so grateful that I was able to turn a bad situation into a testimony building one. 

"If we can stand without shame, without hesitancy, without embarrassment, without reservation to bear witness that the gospel has been restored, that there are prophets and Apostles upon the earth, that the truth is available for all mankind, the Lord’s Spirit will be with us. And that assurance can be affirmed to others." I add my testimony to this, what Elder Packer has said.  I love my Savior.  And for Him I will do this.
  Lots of Love, Sister Golden :)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Last Day with Sister Ibarra!

This weekend was GREAT.  We had stake conference!  I really enjoyed it.  There was huge emphasis on the family and marriage- not that I'm marriage hungry but I am excited to have a family of my own one day whenever that happens.  We rode up with members for both sessions which was fun being able to get to know them better and what not.  On Sunday my companion and I sang in the choir and the spirit was definitely super strong after we sang 'I believe in Christ'.  I love how music can bring the spirit and allow us to focus our thoughts on the Savior. 

I have been studying the topic of conversion a LOT this week.  It has just caught my attention and I am finding really good material that has helped me prepare and get ready for training.  A testimony is what I had before my mission I realized, and having served for a little over 8 months, that is slowly morphing into something greater.  A testimony is personal knowledge of spiritual truth obtained by revelation.  That happened plenty of times for me back home.  But conversion is an enlarging, a deepening, and a broadening of the under girding base of a testimony. 
- An offering of ones self, of love, and of loyalty we give to God in gratitude for the gift of a testimony
- Getting it requires individual repentance, obedience, and diligence.  One thing that I am learning is that conversion requires both persistence and patience, HA.  Both things that a lifetime can grant us.  But I know that testimony is the beginning of and a prerequisite to continuing conversion.  Testimony is a point of departure and is not the ultimate destination.  A strong testimony is the foundation on which conversion is established. 

I am a bit nervous to be training actually.  It is a big task, one that I am not taking lightly.  But I know that we are all there at one time or another.  For me, the unknown is very scary.  I like having things planned out and in view so I can fully prepare and be ready for what lays ahead.  But that is not always how the Lord works.  President Monson said, "Difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us and to become something different from what we were.  Better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before."  I love that those two thoughts go hand in hand.  Difficulty & Testimony.

This was Sister Ibarra's last week in Pinehurst, and everyone was really sad to see her go.  It was great to see how much she meant to this ward; so special!  The week held many goodbyes and seeing the members.  On Tuesday we held our weekly Spanish class (which I don't know how I will keep it going...lots of prayers!)  And it is so funny, each class we hold, one more lady comes.  So this time we had 4 ladies learning English!  It was a blast and we had Patty read some verses out of the Bible afterwards so we could have a spiritual lesson.  Her Bible wasn't a King James version, which is fine, but the stories were different:) Ha.
We went to Elmcroft, the nursing/Alzheimer home after that.  This time only the little old ladies showed up- none of my main men!  But we had a great time sitting around the table talking and chatting.  They asked us a lot of questions, and we asked them a lot as well.  The only difference was that we didn't get any answers :) They are so cute though. 

Wednesday morning we had District meeting and focused solely on how we can be better receptive to the spirit.  That is something we always need to be reminded of, because we are so busy doing a million things per day.  That afternoon we went out to lunch with Sister N. and immediately following we saw two of our investigators.  The one only speaks spanish so we got a lady from the ward who is hispanic and speaks fluently to come with us.  My companion and her taught the whole time.  I unfortunately kept nodding off!  because it was warm, the afternoon, just had a great lunch, and I was listening to the wonderful spanish language!  Ha.  I felt bad afterwards. 
That night we decided to go over to a sweet woman’s house who lives alone, and make her dinner.  We made chicken, sweet potato fries, and mango salsa with a spinach and strawberry salad on the side all from scratch.  Some serious home making skills right there!

Friday was a busy day.  We went out and saw 3 less active ladies and visited with them.  I wonder what it is like to get visited by the missionaries...I AM the missionary so this is normal for me to just show up and say 'HI! You haven't been around, how can I help?' (Not really.) But for them it is probably really weird and random, haha. 
After doing that Sister S. gave us a wonderful cooking lesson!  She is so talented! We made chicken with white cream sauce, an appetizer, and carrot and leek vichey.  Oh it was yummy and I learned so many tricks.  Man, I'm gonna be a good wife! ;)

Bed and Breakfast from the 1800's

All in all I am still learning the area, I am being humbled every day, and I love my Savior.  I am so grateful for the conversion I have experienced by serving selflessly, acting in love, and doing what Christ would do.
I love you so much and hope you are doing well! 
Till next week!
Sister Golden

Monday, May 11, 2015

8 months! Whooooo!

It's happening!  It is getting warmer!  You could even use the word hot!  Today it hit 91 and was quite a smack in the face when we got in and out of the car as we shopped around for our Preparation day.   The locals keep saying, "honey it's not even started!".  Oh boy.
Mothers Day Picnic
This week I received big news.  When the mission president texts you and asks you to call him, it is not because he wants to say, "just thinkin' about ya! How have you been?" Although I wish it had.  President called to tell us that my companion was going to be his own words, "I'm going to take Sister Ibarra away from you."  I had a little panic attack.  I don't know the area, the people, or how to get around yet.  She is my rock here!  That’s what was going through my head.  Then to shatter any sanity that I had left in me he says, "and Sister Golden you will be training!" Time stopped. I swear.  After croaking out, "I will do my best President,"  big crocodile tears rolled down my face and I went to the bathroom and just cried.  After I composed myself I walked back out and told Sister Ibarra that I better learn the area real quick otherwise this poor greenie was going to get one confused and lost trainer, Ha! It’s just surreal to me right now.  Come the 19th I think I will be a lot more nervous.

This week we (and when I say 'we' I mean Sister Ibarra and I play the supportive role of side-kick) had English class!  It was a lot of fun because it happened to fall on Cinco De Mayo!  Patty and Sister Mizelle made Tres Leches and lunch for us to celebrate with and sang some spanish songs.  It was a blast.  I am actually learning a lot and am enjoying it.  Patty and Sylvia were there and invited a friend that is named Maria!  We were able to kind of tell them about our calling as missionaries and gave a spiritual thought out of the Bible afterwards.  I think over time they will become more curious about the church :)

We also went and volunteered at Elmcroft Nursing Home and had a blast playing Bingo.  I kind of make myself laugh because I really get into it and forget that these little old people are just wanting to relax and win their prizes (candy.) I went to go give this man candy and he shouted 'I can't have sugar!  don't cha know!'  So I gave him some crackers.  HA.  Sometimes the old people there think I am an employee because of my name badge, and ask me to take them to the bathroom.  I play along and point them in the right direction and say I will be there in a moment.  Or they will ask me if I can help them, and when I ask what with, they just repeat the question.  One little lady was getting frustrated with Bingo because her card was bad and she wasn't putting any chips on it.  So she threw it and said 'I have no talent!'  I assured her that God gives all of us talents and hers might not be bingo but that's okay.  See? You can have missionary moments anywhere ;)

Wednesday was a blast because I got to go to my first Zone Training in the Fayettville West Zone.  I saw some missionaries I recognized from my last area, so that made it even better :)

I really love these trainings- I always learn SO much.  This time I received a LOT of revelation about Conversion.  Oh my, when you are in tune with the spirit you can learn some magnificent things!  I know that the Lord is prepared to give us what we are prepared to receive.  If you want answers, then you need to prepare appropriately.  Afterwards all of us sisters went to a place called Cookout which is a fast food place only found on this side!  It is what they like around here :) It is always fun spending time with these girls and talking about our lives.
That night I was introduced to a 'real southern BBQ' restaurant called the Pic-N-Pig.  It was good and I enjoyed it.  A little lady from the ward took us there and we got to watch the private planes take off on the runway that was situated right behind it.  Fun times!

This week we have been able to meet with 3 of our progressing investigators and have pretty solid lessons with them.  It's so exhilarating when you have people to teach who are actually interested and ask you questions!  I felt like I was truly fulfilling my purpose as a missionary in that moment.  I forgot all about myself and was able to focus solely on them.  It was great.  One of the ladies only speaks spanish but that was neat because I could still feel the spirit when they talked about the Book of Mormon.

Then it was Mothers Day and I was able to Skype the Fam! It was so great to see all their faces and hear their voices.  It was definitely what I needed!

I hope you know how much I miss you and love you! I always pray for you and hope for the best.
Until next week!
Sister Golden

Monday, May 4, 2015

Speaking Spanish?!

So this week has been a good one for us.  We have tracted, served, taught, and all those fun things missionaries do.  Let me start at the beginning of the week, shall I?
Last monday I was a little 'chinese-ed' out.  For lunch Kate took us to a really good sushi place.  I got the cashew chicken and brown rice with one spring roll.  Then we did our thing and shopped and wrote letters and did laundry and then meal prep since we have no other time to make any food for ourselves.  So we just put lunches in tupperware and take one to go each day.  It's been working quite nicely actually! Well that night we had dinner with some members and they ended up making us the same thing.  Asian food with rice and egg rolls.  Haha.  I was grateful though- I love spending time with the members.  They are so great :)

Tuesday was SO fun.  You are going to love this.  I am LEARNING SPANISH.  Yes.  Si.  My companion is teaching english to a few hispanic women who have friends in our ward.  This is a great opportunity for us to get to know them and for them to know us and the church.  The church has a binder that is specifically made for missionaries who are teaching a language class.  So we go to this ladies house (Patty) and her friend (Sylvia) is there with her.  Sister Mizelle the woman in our ward who knows them came along.  Her and I are the ones learning spanish while the rest learn english.  I have officially learned how to introduce myself!  I can tell someone what my first and last name are in spanish, that I am their neighbor, and that my house is next to theirs.  It was quite fun and really interactive.  After that lesson I made the decision that I want to go to Mexico and just immerse myself until I actually learn!  Wouldn't that be neat?
Well the spanish didn't stop there.  The elders referred us to a single woman who wanted to learn more, but the catch was that she only spoke spanish.  So during this lesson I sat there smiling and nodding and saying Si whenever she looked at me :)  We had a member with us who also spoke spanish so that helped.  But this woman ended up calling me 'pretty eyes' instead of sister Golden.  Haha.   She was quite funny I came to find out once we were back in the car and Sister Ibarra translated the whole thing for me.  Maybe the Lord is trying to tell me something ;)
Then later that day as usual we went and helped out at the nursing home.  We did something new today!  We sang hymns because I told them that I liked to sing.  So the workers whipped out a Baptism hymn book and all started singing with the little old people chiming in.  I just clapped and swayed and followed their lead.  It was a good time :)  after that we played the game 20 questions.  Sister Ibarra and I asked them questions about themselves and they shared in a big circle.  We asked Wilda (who just turned 100) "what is something that nobody knows about you?"  She replied and said, 'I don't even know anything about me!'  Then when we asked the question, "What is something you would want people to know about you?" Tom said 'that I'm rich and very giving.'  That made us laugh.  He is quite a character.  I really enjoy going to that place now.  I am developing love for these old people that I never had before.  It's a good thing.

Something that I've never experienced in the church is the Welfare Program.  I had the opportunity to help divvy out and organize peoples food orders for this ward.  A woman had brought a few orders back to the church and we stuck it all in the fridge and freezer to be picked up later.  She was telling me all about the process and how everything is done in an orderly manner and everyone gets everything they need in a very timely process!  I was amazed that the church can provide so much help for its members and do so in a way that is so organized.  My testimony really grew then about the church and its services- I loved being able to help with that.  I have been able to see more of the organizational and business side of the church on my mission than ever before.  I am so grateful to be a part of a church that gives spiritual, and physical help to its members and even those who aren't a part of our faith.

Wednesday we had District meeting and it was so funny.  Our Zone leaders Elder Wolf and Elder Cluff (who were actually in my last Zone in Wilmington; so we know each other pretty well...and they were both on my team for the activity fun zone conference) came to our District Meeting.
We were all sitting there just pondering and taking notes before the meeting started when the elders from the other side of the room said, "Sister Golden, what is your ethnicity?"...then another one, "Yeah what is your race?"  I laughed because I get that all the time but wasn't expecting it from them!  I made them guess for a bit and they thought maybe I was Italian, Hispanic and then one said 'no you have to be part black.'  Then from the African American Elder in the room I hear, "Yep.  That's my guess." I died.  I told them I was Caucasian and spent some time trying to convince them.  I showed them a picture of our family and they finally accepted it:)  Last week some lady also asked if sister Ibarra and I were related or really sisters because she thought we looked alike... Anyways it was fun.
Later that afternoon we decided to go and find the people on the ward roster that nobody knows.  After knocking and realizing that it was an empty trailer, or they weren't home we did some proximity work.  Gotta love the principle of proximity.  We got a few interesting encounters doing this.  One lady just yelled at us through her open door, “I am in a wheelchair.  I am not interested in the Jehovah's Witnesses.  Go away!” I told her, "Lucky for you ma'am we are the Mormons!" answer... "We are hear to help you come closer to the Savior" ...silence... "I'm sorry, can you not hear me?"  She told us to go away,  haha.  Oh well.
Another lady told us that she was hurting too much from her sickness that she couldn't focus on Jesus.  And closed the door.  This man said, “Sorry ladies, we aren't looking for what you're talking about.”  People are tough sometimes!  But low and behold, the last 3 doors we knocked on proved to be successful!  One was a Hispanic woman and Sister Ibarra taught a quick lesson then set up a return appointment.  The other two were women who also accepted a visit at a later time.  The Lord knows who we need to see and where they are.

On Friday we were able to go out with Carina who got back from her mission in Boise in December.  She is back from BYU during her time off and wanted to go out with us.  We were able to see a few people but not very many because they turn us away or don't answer.  But luckily she understood how that goes!  It was nice.  She said that she had gained so much more from her mission than she ever thought she would and is so grateful to have served.  Even though it is probably the hardest thing I've ever done, I know how far I've come and how much better my life will be after learning all these things now.

We were able to have a really good lesson with a part member family this week as well.  Sister Baker the seminary teacher came and brought her son who is the same age as this families son.  They have 6 children and all but 1 can be baptized.  We have had about 3 lessons with them and have slowly gotten them more involved in the ward.  The lesson we taught just last night was such a good one- the spirit was there and the Bakers testimonies really helped.  We listened to them, valued their opinions, taught the lesson at their pace and at the end my heart started beating really hard and really fast!  I knew that I needed to extend a baptismal invitation.  So I did.  I asked the son if he would prepare himself to be baptized on a certain date and he accepted.  I love when the spirit takes over and I'm not the one speaking.  They then signed up to feed us on a night sometime next week.  I truly believe that when we take the time to learn about people and let them know we love THEM, they open up and trust us.  I hope they continue to progress.

That same day was also Fast and Testimony meeting.  Two less active women in particular got up to bear their testimonies.  Of all the people who got up, I felt prompted to write a short thank you for what they said on a sticky note and give it to them afterwards.  After church they both came up to us and said that they appreciated our notes.  Then the one ended up signing up on our meal calendar to feed us.  That was another witness to me that when we follow the promptings of the spirit we are able to be instruments in the Lords hands.

I am so grateful for all that I have been able to experience.  Both the good and the bad.  I know that we will find JOY when we put Jesus first...Others second..and Yourself last.   J-O-Y.
In a talk I read Elder Funk states, "The Lord instructs His servants to be humble because the process of being made whole spiritually begins with a broken heart.  Think of the good that comes from broken things.  Soil is broken to plant wheat.  Wheat is broken to make bread.  Bread is broken to become emblems of the sacrament.  When one who is repentant partakes of the sacrament with a broken heart and contrite spirit, he or she becomes whole.

Love you so much and can't wait for MOTHERS DAY! <3
Mal Mal
Sister Golden