Monday, June 29, 2015

10 Months!

So this past week was the 10 month mark since I entered the MTC.  WE are NOW in the double digits people! Repeat...double--digits! It is crazy, but still feels like a long time. 

Anyways! This week we got caught in 2 thunder/lightening and rain storms!  They are the summer storms the south experiences.  It isn't too fun because you get SOAKED if you're out in it for a few seconds, but also welcoming because it drastically effects the heat!  It dropped 20 degrees after both storms.  Much needed after our 100 + degree days. The only thing is that this weather really wreaks havoc on my hair!
Waiting out the storm in our car!

My hair by the end of the day, haha!
 So, I am learning many fun and interesting home-making skills along with building myself spiritually on my mission!  I have successfully grouted a laundry room floor, canned plums, made squash cookies, created curry, and do exquisite braids on little girls. 

During the week we made it a goal for ourselves to find and contact the less and inactive members of our wards.  We set out and made some good progress contacting about 16 of them.  It is neat to see how people respond when they realize they are missed. 
 We shared a verse out of the Book of Mormon with each of them and they thanked us for the visit.  The spirit does truly work on the heart if the right situation and right preparation are made.  “Those who have read [the Book of Mormon] prayerfully, be they rich or poor, learned or unlearned, have grown under its power. … Without reservation I promise you that if you will prayerfully read the Book of Mormon, regardless of how many times you previously have read it, there will come into your hearts … the Spirit of the Lord. There will come a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to his commandments, and there will come a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God” -Gordon B. Hinkley.   This is something that I have been privileged to experience while studying each and everyday for 10 months straight. 

While out contacting people this week (proselyting) we met a really old cute grandpa at one of the doors.  He was confused as to why we were there and kept asking me to repeat myself because he was partly deaf.  I read him a scripture tilting my head up, and holding the Book of Mormon over my head so he could read my lips...let me tell ya, any car driving by probably thought I was dancing with a book and yelling at an old innocent man at the same time.  I laughed afterwards.  But everyone deserves to hear it...whether or not they are hard of hearing!

Another lady we contacted told us that her sister needed to be saved so we should go preach to her.  Hmmm...I ask her then, "So, you're I saved?"  And she goes, "Hunny have you given your life ova to the Lawd?"  “Yes m'am” was my response.  And then she raised her hands and said, "Why yes child!  I'd say you were!"  In the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we believe relatively the same thing.  We try to live each day as our Savior would, right?  We just believe that we are also judged by our acts and are not saved by grace alone.  Few differences, but there is enough common ground for all of us to get along!
I'm not quite sure what this means:-)
I love being able to attend 2 wards every Sunday.  I am learning more about how to observe the Sabbath and treat it special rather than like another ordinary day. 
What did the Savior mean when He said that “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath?” I believe He wanted us to understand that the Sabbath was His gift to us, granting real respite from the rigors of daily life and an opportunity for spiritual and physical renewal. God gave us this special day, not for amusement or daily labor but for a rest from duty, with physical and spiritual relief.  In Hebrew, the word Sabbath means “rest.” 
When participating in an activity on Sunday, ask yourself the question: 
“What sign do I want to give to God?”

I know that although some days may be hard, and things don't always go our way, if we persevere we will make it with Christ and his Atonement.  That is not the light waiting at the end of the tunnel...that is the thing pushing us through and helping us towards our goal. 
"What does it mean to endure? I love this definition: to withstand with courage. Courage may be necessary for you to believe; it will at times be necessary as you obey. It will most certainly be required as you endure until that day when you will leave this mortal existence." -President Monson.

It is so true. I know it, I live it, I love it.
Sister Mallory Golden

Monday, June 22, 2015

Happy Fathers Day - a day late!

Well hello!  We had a lot of UN-planned teaching opportunities this week! That was great.  We were leaving the house of one of our less-active members and some lady was walking her dog.  I made a quick comment about how it was smart to be walking at night when it was only 87 degrees and not 100.  That led into a 35 minute conversation touching on religion, backgrounds, beliefs and more.  She had actually been to Gig Harbor before, knew a little bit about mormons, and was nice to chat with.  She wasn't interested, but we did have a very positive interaction with her and that always makes me feel better.
The second one was when we were going to go see one of our sisters in a Care Home since she was recovering from surgery.  We walked into her room to see that she had actually been moved, but her roommate was still there.  So we asked her how she was doing and let her know that we were missionaries for our church.  She told us right away that she was a Jehovah's Witness and was baptized about a year and a half ago.  I didn't want any confrontation so my mind switched into 'find common ground' mode.  I asked about their beliefs and validated her faith in God.  When she asked us to read a verse from her bible I felt stupid because it was really...different and the chapters and verses were set up all weird.  When I went to tell her about the resurrection and the spirit world (that was what our conversation was about) she points her finger in my face, goes stone cold still and says, "You're wrong" very loudly.  I was shocked.  Really? I thought to myself.  Why is heavenly Father placing me in the paths of all of these nay-sayers of my religion? I just listened and bore simple testimony.  She again denied it and said, "We'll see where we end up..."  And I said, "Yes, and when I see you there I will hug you anyways!  Because I've been raised to never tell someone they are wrong or make them feel bad."  I was slightly teasing and slightly letting out some of the anger that was bubbling up.  But the Lord has blessed me with the ability to bite my tongue (helpful) and places in my head the thought, "If anything, how can I bring this individual closer to Christ or build them up?"  It has been a good thing for me to learn.
Lastly, we were visiting yet another lady who is in a clinic also, and as we were visiting with her the attending nurse walked in and sat down.  She completely opened up to us about her life and the woe's and trials she felt she was going through.  We were impressed to just sit and listen.  After doing so she said that she appreciated that we didn't get all preachy on her and just listened.  Little did she know that I had a scripture up my sleeve.  I asked her to read Mosiah 24:13,14 and tell us what it meant to her.  She loved it!  We referred her to and asked her to watch two specific videos that we felt impressed to have her see.  It is amazing to see who the Lord puts in your path and for what reasons.  Not everyone you talk to will want to see you again, accept a return appointment, or need any other help, but knowing that what you say to them may have an impact is enough for me.

Funny story for the week:
We went to go see this cute little 95 year old lady named Lucille at her apartment in the senior center.  We usually talk about the ants, or clouds, or encourage her to walk outside and get fresh air.  Well we sat outside this day and it was HOT, HOT, HOT.  We are just dripping sweat and she doesn't ever want to go back inside.  I said something funny and we all laughed, and then Lucy goes, "Oh you're full o' prunes!" WE died!  IT was so funny. I took it as a compliment from an old person.

Spiritual Highs of the week!
This week our investigator Ginny got baptized!  We were so excited and happy for her.  She has gone through a lot, and overcome many things, but she made it and many people were there to support her.  After she came up out of the water she threw her hands up in the air and said, "Yeahhhh!" Everyone laughed.  Prior to this event, I had accidentally ran my toe over with a fully loaded chair rack that we were trying to move out of the chapel.  Oh it was SO painful. So there I am hobbling around with an ice pack strapped to my foot- what a dork.

Dinner Celebration
Wednesday we had our 'Goodbye Zone Conference' which was the HARDEST thing ever.  We had to say goodbye to our mission president and his wife :(  They are leaving next week to go back home and we are welcoming a new mission president into NC.  It was an emotional meeting, but also a spiritual one.  When it was over, and just before lunch we got to line up and give them both hugs.  All the sisters were crying and so was Sister Bernhisel.  The Elders and President Bernhisel were just smiling and taking it all in.  We got to hug them both and when I hugged President I choked up!  He squeezed me and gave me what I call a 'dad hug' one that I have been so long without.  I truly owe my first 9 months of growth to the Bernhisels and all they have done for me and this mission.

Zone Conference Luncheon

I love being able to boldly declare the Saviors love and doctrine to both people I know and don't know.  The name tag as well as being set apart allows for the spirit to reveal and prompt us as to what to say and do.  I really hope I can keep that desire when I no longer have the name tag or obligation of being a full time missionary. 

I love you so, so much and hope that your fathers day weekend was a blast!
Miss you dearly!
Sister Mallory Golden

Monday, June 15, 2015

Listening to the Spirit!

Hello Everyone,

This week our mission president's wife sent all of us missionaries a voice mail saying to prepare for this upcoming week or two because it will be reaching the hundreds.  I am not necessarily looking forward to that!  Oh boy!  But Mom, don't worry. I wear sunscreen and keep it in my bag on person! You should be so proud:)
This week has been SUCH a spiritually deep one for me.  Although our numbers aren't the highest for lessons, we didn't baptize anyone, nor find new investigators, I was able to tap into the spirit and feel it working inside me several times.  I have been able to feel the spirit very strongly before, but this week I have felt first hand what it is like to be an instrument in the Lord's hand...literally. 

It first started whenever we were driving in the car.  I receive a lot of revelation, or 'thoughts' while I am driving.  I sometimes ask my companion to write them down for me really quickly, ha.  But this is when the names of people we need to go see pop into my head. 
Example 1: We had an extra half hour that we hadn't planned for and were just going to go to the church to eat lunch and get online.  Well the name of a family that is in one of our wards popped into my head.  I thought, "No she works during the day, as well as her husband.  And their daughter won't want to open the door when she is home alone..."  Thump--> Spirit says go.  So I punch their name into the GPS and we go to their house.  We happen to park in the driveway right behind their daughter who just drove into town to visit.  She is inactive, but still really nice to us. As she leads us into the house, her brother who is also inactive, greets us and calls for his mom.  She decided to come home for lunch from work.  She goes upstairs to get her daughter who is graduating high school this week, and is inactive.  We all meet in the kitchen and have a great conversation just getting to know each other and having a good time.  We segway into a gospel discussion and share a scripture and ask an inspired question.  Everything was fine and dandy and we left thinking what a tender mercy it was to go over when everyone was at home.  Well, this Sunday, the mom came up to us and said that her oldest daughter went back home and made plans to go to church with one of her old friends.  SO great!

Another way the spirit has effected me this week is in our lessons.  We taught two active families a lesson on missionary work after having dinner with them.  Our plan was to share a certain scripture, video, then close with a prayer.  But I felt prompted to read from a few accounts given by prophets in the Book of Mormon about missionary work.  After doing so the spirit was so strong and we ended up getting a few names of their friends that they wanted us to go and see.  This week I received more referrals from our members than at any other time on my mission.  AMAZING.

Lastly, as I have been reading the scriptures and words of the living prophets I have been receiving comfort and revelation for myself.  I have been pondering and praying at how I can become a better missionary.  I don't want to get comfortable with my calling, fall into vain repetitions, or only do things because I am told. I have been able to personalize and apply the principles I read about in the verses and then use them to help those we teach as well.  I have truly felt an overabundance of the spirit this week- and I don't want it to stop!

On Tuesday night a pair of sisters came to stay the night so that we could drive up to Raleigh together to go to the first transfer training meeting. 
 We were instructed by our mission president and his wife, plus the assistants and ourselves.  It was a great time and I was re-taught and got to re-practice a lot of things that I had forgotten since being trained.  I am sad that our Mission President is leaving in about a week- we all love him and his wife.  But I am excited to see what our new Mission President does for the NCRM!

This Saturday Ginny our investigator is getting baptized.  We are so very excited for her.  She has had a long road and has overcome many challenges.  I know that this will change her life and give her more purpose than anything else ever could.  We are still trying to work with our Part Member family- they are so ready!  They are just so very busy.  It is so great though to be able to see a person make the changes, then reap the benefits of having the gospel in their lives.  Sometimes I wonder why I was blessed to be born into a home with supportive parents, growing up in the gospel, and having so many wonderful opportunities.  But I take that gratitude and add it to my drive to find and help other families that we come into contact with.
District Meeting
This week I was reading in the New Testament for a part of my studies, specifically in Luke.  I am loving how detailed the stories have become by reading Jesus the Christ along with it.  In Luke 17 Christ is talking to his disciples and they realize that their service to him requires their all.  Their whole soul.  Christ knew that their faith could best be gauged by obedience and untiring service.  As a missionary I think I am taking part in those two things.  Giving my all, leaving everything behind, as well as showing obedience and working each and every day tirelessly.  This is important because everything we do affects our eternal progression and helps us form habits that are either righteous, or contrary to God's will.  My mission is only prepping me for the rest of my life.  

I hope you listen to the prompting you receive and follow them!  That is when Heavenly Father entrusts you with more!
My family away from home!
I love you all and can't wait to hear from you!  <3
Sister Golden

Monday, June 8, 2015

I Love Monday's!

Hello My sweet family! How are you doing this wonderful Monday morning? I remember I used to hate Monday's; now I look forward to them more than anything! Haha.

The Ward Chorister has very unique shoes!

Wow- it is getting HOT!  I don't know if I like it!
This week has been SUCH a good one for us.  We have seen the Lord working in the Pinehurst and Southern Pines area and feel so privileged to play a part in that work.  What I have come to realize through this week is that obedience brings blessings.  Now that I am training I am extra cautious of everything I do.  Making sure that I am in line with the Mission rules as well as following the Lord in all things.  So I have made a lot of slight corrections and alterations to the little details that come with missionary life- and I am seeing the sweet blessings that have come from it.
The Elders we serve with gave us some names of a few ladies they wanted us to go and see (we would be able to visit them easier since they are single women).  We were able to visit them that same week and OH my they were about the sweetest southern grown ladies I have ever met.  They let us in and talked with us about Christ, life, family and more.  One of them asked us to keep coming back to see her because she liked the way she felt around us.  It is neat to know that the spirit we carry can effect others around us, as long as we are worthy to receive it. 

Another day my companion and I went out tracting with a youth in the ward who is debating going on a mission.  We didn't have much success at first...but you ALWAYS keep going.  Just ONE more door is my policy.  We passed by a house with a stand up tin garage roof cover but there were no cars under it.  My companion and the youth said that we should keep going because obviously no one was home.  I felt otherwise; so off we went up the porch, through the 50 hanging chimes that were in the sun room and knocked on the door.

A little old lady came and answered and started chatting with us right away about all the little knick-knacks that were strewn across the room.  We eventually told her who we were and what we did and she thanked us for bringing more light into the world.  She was really sweet.  We had a good gospel discussion and shared a verse out of the Book of Mormon with her.  She invited us to come back the next week after she gets her eye surgery.  When we got back to the youth's home to drop her off she told us that she was going to go on a mission because she loved that little lady we contacted and wants to do that herself one day!  It was so great to see. 

Later that week we received some names to go and visit (usually this is in a text from the MTC or the church) and we can assume that the person isn't LDS.  So off we go to see this referral we were sent.  We knocked on the door and were ACTUALLY invited in by a dad and his daughter.  The woman we were meant to see was his mom and she asked us to sit with her in the living room.  We made small talk for the first little while and then she said, "You know, I used to entertain Mormon missionaries back when I was raising my kids." Then she looks at her granddaughter and said, "Someone must have known I was having a hard time and decided to send the missionaries to me."  We were the missionaries who showed up at her door and listened to her about her life.  She was very impressed by the video on the Mormon channel we showed her and told us to come back whenever we wanted. 

Another day we went out with a member from the ward to go and visit a lady who had just moved in and her records just arrived.  She wasn't too thrilled at the idea of us being there, especially unannounced, but let us in anyways.  One thing I am personally working on is letting the spirit speak to me, and tell me what the person we are visiting needs to hear.  We heard her life story, empathized, shared a really great endurance scripture from the Book of Mormon and just sat there.  It wasn't awkward silence, but the kind that is comfortable and un-rushed.  That's when the spirit came and I felt prompted to ask her a question...a question about what was holding her back, and why she felt she didn't deserve God's love.  She stared at me and then asked how we knew that's what she was struggling with.  We dove into a very touching conversation and after leaving I was really moved at how 'inspired questions' really work on people.  That is something we as missionaries in NC are striving to always work on for lessons.  Asking inspired questions.  They WORK. They are real.

The sweet part member family we are working with have also come to church twice in a row now and are progressing through the lessons. I have grown to really like them and appreciate the things I am learning each time I teach.  Each person is different and responds to different styles of teaching.  No matter the style however, the spirit needs to be present.  I love prayers, because I KNOW they work.  I know that the spirit will be there if we pray for it.  I know that the person will receive the message into their heart if it is the Lord's will, and I know that all the principles and doctrines I am expounding on are true.  By teaching other people and bearing testimony, I have been able to convert myself, and become a tool in Christ's hands here on the earth.  What a privilege.  It has taken me a long time to get to where I am.  A lot of blood, sweat and tears.  But ALL that I have lost has been magnified, made up, or received 100 times better because that is the pattern of our Savior. 

So here is a funny story for the week.  We have a sister who is staying in an assisted living home for a while until her health gets better.  We go and visit her every week and make sure she knows that we love her.  So we went in to go see her and were chatting with her and shared a message.  She then informs me that "Bong" the Filipino nurse always asks about me.  She says he has a crush on me and wants to know when we usually come and visit.  NOT 3 seconds later does BONG walk into the room to say hello!  I died.  He saw the picture of Sister Ibarra and I taped onto the closet and asked if he could have it since he was moving to Texas the next day.  When he was leaving he asked to give me a hug and I politely declined...but I was flattered!  The Sister we were visiting said he thinks I have some Philippine blood in me...HA.  That makes it 3 times this week someone has asked me if I was black, hispanic, and now Filipina. Antoinette our cute little recent convert is a black girl and told me she thought I was a mix when she first met me.  Then my companion Sister Burdette laughed so loud and said, "I thought I was the only one who thought that!"   And proceeded to tell me I would look great with dreads...
I know that the Lord is there to direct our paths, and all we need to do is listen to the spirit.  I am grateful for the good and bad times, the tough and easy, the highs and the lows.  Because before them, I was only a follower of Christ.  Now I can consider myself a full disciple of Christ.

Love you all so much and can't wait to hear from you soon!  <3
Love Sister Mallory Golden