Monday, February 22, 2016

My Last Two Weeks!

So I only have some time for a few highlights from this last week!

HERB is amazing.  We have been teaching him for almost 7 or 8 weeks now, and have grown to really love that man!  Each time we teach him something new he accepts it readily, studies, prays and comes back telling us he knows it is true.  He is so excited for his upcoming baptism.  He came to a fireside the missionaries put on last night and said it was very enlightening and wished he had found the church earlier.  He always had religion, but when he started learning about the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he said he felt at home.  I loved that.  (
Herb is in the middle of us!
This week we also had interviews with President James and his sweet wife.  It is weird to think that it was my last one as a full time missionary.  But the culmination of what I have learned on my mission is something I won't ever be able to forget, nor would I want to.  It has shaped me and created a canvas on which I can continue to work on for the rest of my life.
Ward Missionaries
As we come across people each day with such different beliefs and such different opinions, I find myself grateful for my testimony and knowledge.  I love everyone we meet (yes, even the challenging individuals) and try my best to share with them what I know will make them happy.
The McEwen's
I am thankful for these past 17.8 months I have had to learn, grow, and serve.  The people you work with and associate with out in the world will be drawn to you because of your desire to be like the Savior. Let your love for Him shine from your eyes. Let there be no doubt that He is who you follow. You have an understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ that the world needs to see and feel. The Book of Mormon is what teaches and clarifies the Atonement in a way that changes our hearts so that we can be born again.   Let us do our best to let other people see our truth and light.  As missionaries we have the capacity to bless many people here in North Carolina with our talents and abilities that are magnified in the Lord.  Go forward to teach and testify.
“Our talent is God’s gift to us. How we use that talent is our gift to him. My sincere hope and prayer is that God finds my gift back to him a worthy one. May God bless you, keep you and continue the good fight of faith.” –Emmitt Thomas

Love, Sister Golden

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Happy Valentines!

Hello My sweet family!
This last week was a HARD week.  Sometimes we get into a really good flow and when a hard day comes it takes your breath away.  Well Sister Macrum and I experienced a hard WEEK!  But we overcame it and did a huge high five and dance when Monday (our preparation day) came.
Last Monday we drove down to Wrightsville beach to have an activity with our Zone.  Let me tell you- the next day we were SO sore.  We played soccer and football and tag and other games.  It was a blast.  The beach was chilly- but we warmed up quick with all of our running around haha.

That night as well as Thursday we had a lesson with Herb in two different couples homes.  It is amazing when a person from church is willing to let you teach in their home!  The spirit is strong, the friendship is made, and they help bear testimony.  We love Herb; he is just so prepared.  He loves each lesson we have and says we have a 'way with our words.'  He told us he feels something special when we teach and that we just aren't the run of the mill girls that this day and age produces.  Isn't that sweet?  Whenever we ask him if he has questions he says, "Why would I have any questions? This stuff just makes sense!"  He reads in the scriptures, prays and loves the people in the local congregation.  He is 'Golden' ;) haha
After Monday is when things started getting tough.  Members who were going to drive us to a certain place cancelled.  People coming with us for lessons fell through.  Investigators called and said they were busy.  I was reminded that life isn't always easy.  And when we are thrown into a rough situation, we CHOOSE how to react.  Our ability to look at things in a positive light will drastically change our attitude and ultimately the outcome.  I got to practice this a lot this week.

On Wednesday we had ZONE TRAINING!  My last one on the mission.  I got to bear my testimony of what I learned and knew to be true- which I was grateful for.  After this training all the missionaries were treated to lunch- the senior missionary couples bought 8 Costco pizzas and brought them back to the church for us to eat.  There wasn't a slice left :)
Departing missionaries from my zone!

We started together at the MTC
I went to Richlands, in Jacksonville, with Sister Paynter on an exchange and had a good time.  We had two lessons lined up and got to teach together.  She is in her first 3 months still and is progressing each time I am with her.  I can't believe that I was once where she is at.  I see a lot of growth in myself- but it has come after a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and obedience.
Friday we got a storm warning saying there was going to be ice and heavy rain with freezing temperatures.  So a lot of people cancelled on us and we had to go find stuff to do! 

Hanging out at the Bishop's house after the storm warning!
We did end up doing a lot of tracting this week (knocking on doors) and talking to people!  But that helps us to get out and working, and meeting new people.  Plus it pulls us out of our comfort zone :)
This sweet dog followed us all day!
So Sunday was obviously Valentine's Day right? Well naturally as missionaries we basically forget all holiday's except for Christmas and Mothers Day because we get to Skype our families on those days.  So Sunday afternoon, and then after dinner we go out knocking on doors...I was SO EMBARRESSED!  Around 6:30 we knocked on someone's door and they opened and what do we see?  Rose petals covering the table, candles lit, steak on the get the picture.   We immediately said, "WE ARE SO SORRY!  Close the door...just close the door...we forgot it was Valentines day!"  Oh it was awful...hahaha!

The next day, yesterday (Monday) we drove to Jacksonville to throw a surprise birthday party for Sister Alldredge with our district and their district.  We had goodies, played sports, and had a super fun time.  She was so happy! All in all it was a week to remember.

I hope you are doing well!  I will hear from you soon :)
Sister Golden

Monday, February 8, 2016

To Be Consecrated!

Gig Harbor Stake sent me a poster and picture of themselves:)
Okay, so last night we stopped by a families home who we have slowly built up trust with.  The mom and dad are inactive members and their 15 yr old son isn't.  They harbor some negative feelings, but we haven't let that deter us from loving them!  And we really do haha :)  But we stopped by SUNDAY night...and they invited us upstairs where the rest of the family was. BAD IDEA!  They had the Super Bowl playing and Sister Macrum's team is the Broncos!  They were giving us a hard time about mission rules and what not...but we withstood and didn't watch it and left shortly after. But it was hard!

Earlier we went to a Stake Youth Fireside with our Recent convert Ezzie and her sister Monica who is our new investigator.  3 girls had recently returned from their missions and shared stories and insights from their 18 months of service.  It was neat to see their take on a mission and think about how I want to reflect on my mission experience. 
Something I was reading these last few days really hit me about what a mission is...and how I wanted to live my mission.  Serving is more than just going out because we have a sense of duty or obligation.  Serving a mission is about consecrating ourselves and laying everything on the altar of sacrifice.  When Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile he collapsed at the finish line into the hands of his well-wishers.  A journalist sensing all that was involved in that historic moment wrote, "The runner, open mouthed, thin legged, knowing only pace and goal, spending his strength so that the finish at one mile, there was nothing more."  For a consecrated missionary there is nothing more to give at the end of the day.  we have put it all on the altar of sacrifice.  Consecrated missionaries are missionaries who would finish the marathon.  They are missionaries who would go the full fifteen rounds.  They are missionaries who carry no white flags. 

Us missionaries came out here to change the world, to change lives, but there is a cost.  It costs everything that we have- we place it on the altar of sacrifice.  Our fears, our pride, our laziness, our disobedience, our weaknesses; we cannot hold anything back.  When we came into the mission field we burned the bridges behind us, I burned my ships in the harbor.  There is no retreat to my former life.  I cannot have one foot at home and one foot in the mission field.  The Lord demands our whole soul on the sacrificial altar.  That is the price we must pay, and when we do, we then become instruments in the hands of God. 

What is the driving motivational force for a consecrated missionary?  It is the Savior and his atonement.  If we fail to be obedient, if we fail to be humble , if we fail to be fearless, perhaps we intellectually understand the atonement, but somehow we fail to grasp the underlying love of His sacrifice.  Once we feel that, as well as understand it, we will give our all.  We will realize that our all is a small repayment for His all.

Whatever the weakness may be that holds us back from becoming this consecrated person, missionary, individual....the Lord has promised that if we have faith in him, and humble ourselves before him, that he will make weak things become strong unto us. (Ether 12:26-27)  I believe that.  I do not believe there is one missionary/person's weaknesses that are greater than the potential strengths within him. WHY?  Because each of us is a son and daughter of God, with his divine nature and divine potential woven into the very fabric of our souls. 

May we not be content with being GOOD, even GREAT.  When we have the capacity to be CONSECRATED.  Mormon declared with boldness: "Behold I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  I have been called of him to declare his word among his people that they might have ever lasting life."  (2 Nephi 5:13)

Love you,
Sister Golden
Boiled Peanuts ~ the Southerners love these!
Super Salty!!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Getting Hit With the Flu!

The snow storm that hit this side of the states actually missed Hampstead luckily.  It was more of the Raleigh area that got blasted and DC of course.  But it was freezing and we got a snow flurry for a minute or two! 
This last week was an interesting one.  First off I got the flu and was down for the count on Saturday after 4 days of getting worse.  It was NOT fun let me tell you.  But I have a fabulous companion and the ward members were good to me:)  I got doctored up, given a blessing and now we are out on the streets teaching like crazy!  (PS- today was 70 degrees and sunny! So nice.)

Last Monday we got a call from a member in the ward who said she had a friend who was ready to hear more about the gospel.  While this sweet older sister had been gone on her mission in Utah for a year, an older gentleman named HERB (CUTEST name ever) watched her cat.  Slowly over the months he read in the Book of Mormon, some of the church magazines (the Ensign) and looked around on!  This sister got back from her mission the same time Sister Macrum and I got to Hampstead and has been talking to Herb about the gospel slowly through the weeks.  We all had dinner together in her home and then we taught him what we call the First Discussion, or the Message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  When we explained authority and the need for a Prophet etc. Herb announces, "Well YES!  That just makes sense!"  The rest of our lesson went this way with Herb asking questions here and there and saying that it all clicked and he couldn't understand why everyone wasn't a part of the church. It was cute :)  We both felt the spirit very strongly prompting us to invite him to be baptized.  Many may say, 'WHAT? Invite him to make a life long commitment the FIRST time you meet him, let alone the first lesson he has ever heard about your church??'  Precisely!  So I say, "Herb, when you come to know that this is the true church, and Christ's church here on the earth, will you be baptized by someone holding the proper priesthood author...." *Herb interjects* "YES. I will!"  Hahaha we didn't even finish inviting him to be baptized but he knew he was hearing the truth and couldn't be more excited to join himself with it.  In preparation for yesterday (Sunday and his first time coming to a Mormon church) he went out and got a hair cut, bought a new sport jacket and laid everything out at the ready.  Everyone at church loved him and wanted him to come to their home for another lesson.  I love that this ward (congregation) reaches out to any new face they see walk through the doors. 

Tuesday we had some minor details to take care of...such as getting a state inspection done on the car, calling the Sisters in Jacksonville and seeing how they were doing (Tues. is my accounting day with them) and setting up a few appointments.  That night I started NOT feeling good at all and didn't have an appetite for dinner...despite the cockroaches and little termites that were dropping into the crock-pot from the ceiling. Hehe...oh the South.  We then went out and visited a less active lady with two older ladies who remind me of Lucy and Ethel...we were all roaring in the car and I was wheezing because I was so congested.

Wednesday we had district meeting way out in a little place called Mt. Zion.  To give you a better idea- we have no service for the last 20 minutes of our drive there.  We have a lot of new faces in the district!  3 new elders.  It will be good.  That day we also went on exchanges with the Jacksonville 2nd sisters- Sister Alldredge (who I actually roomed with in the MTC: Missionary Training Center) came to Hampstead and Sister Macrum went to J2 where she actually started her mission. So weird, huh?  We had a fun day and saw an investigator, a part member family, and two less active families.  The older couple we went to go see will be turning 90 something come MAY and they are the most precious things on this earth!  Brother Bryant gave me some wise advice that I wrote in my Planner, that said, "If you can't control something, let it go! will kill yeh!"  Hah.

Thursday we went out to lunch with our investigator named Alecia and her cutie little girl named Caidyn.  We ate at HWY 55 (I couldn't taste anything and was not feeling good this day either.)  But we love Alecia.  She told us that she wants to be sealed in the Temple and go on a couples mission one day with Mike who is a member.  We love them! 

We did our weekly planning the rest of the day (which I used to hate but now I love) and had dinner at a Mexican restaurant.  (I just asked for it to be put in a To-Go box because I was feeling so gross.  I had to keep blowing my runny and congested nose too which was embarrassing!  That night the Sister Missionaries who are serving in Wilmington came to spend the night at our apartment because Sister Muder and I had a leadership training the next day in Raleigh. We had to be there at 8:30 and it was a 2 and a half hour drive.  We were going to meet the Spanish elders at their apartment in Wallace which was a 40 minute drive and carpool with them.  So that meant we had to be out of our apartment at 5:45.  So NATURALLY we had a Sleep over!  It was so fun!  Sister Macrum and I got really excited and made beds for them with some sleeping mats provided by the Bishops family.  We put little chocolates on their pillows, placed a Doterra diffuser on the bedside table that we threw a sheet over and a lamp under to make it glow, turned on some classical music, put some slippers and lotion at the end of their bed and waited for them to arrive.  We put little note cards saying "Hotel Hampstead" by the desk and couldn't help but giggle and get a little slap happy!  They died when they got to our apartment; it was fun :)

The Next morning (Friday) I was dog tired.  I hadn't been sleeping very well due to my illness and was lacking sufficient rest!  Sister Muder and I got ready and met the elders in Wallace and drove the 2+ hours with them to Raleigh.  I had to keep blowing my nose... -_-
At the Leadership training meeting we had instructions given to us by different missionaries, by President and Sister James, and then lunch.  After lunch the Sister Training leaders and Zone leaders met in a room to council over new rules, changes and more for the mission with President James.  It is always interesting because everyone wants to share their opinions and sometimes it goes on for way too long.  But it is needed nonetheless.  It was a long day.  We didn't get back to Hampstead until around 6:20 in the evening and met back up with the sisters who had been doing work in the area all day.
Sister Muder
Saturday is the Day we had to stay home!  I was the worst this day and stayed in bed.  MY body needed it though!  Sister Macrum was really sweet and found stuff to do all day.  That night we had dinner with the Porters and they had our new convert Ezzy over as well and after dinner we watched the Restoration Movie! The good one that is an hour long.  I love it!
There is a scripture I read this morning that was in Alma 58:10-12  and something stuck out to me.  I like how in verse 11 it says "We should hope for deliverance IN him."  Deliverance doesn't come by diligence and self propelling ourselves through a problem we face.  Deliverance in him suggests that He goes with us through the darkness and guides us by the hand until we see the light again.  Deliverance in him means we seek him out first above all else.  Deliverance comes after ample time is served, lessons are learned and our vision is lifted.  This is the grace of Christ, given as we hope for deliverance in him.  

I love my mission because I love my Savior.  How does He strengthen you?
Love Sister Golden :)

Monday, January 25, 2016

My Birthday Week!

Hello to all! I had a great week here in Hampstead this last week:)  It was one that kept us busy and working, cold and hungry, but GOOD nonetheless.

First off, our investigator Ezzy got BAPTIZED!  We held the service on a youth activity night so that all the kids in the ward that were her age could come.  It was a really big turn out which was nice to see.  It really meant a lot to her family.  Sister Macrum and I got her a picture of the Raleigh temple and had everyone who attended sign the back.  We want her next goal to be going to the temple to do baptisms there.  And guess what? She got her temple recommend on Sunday after her confirmation:) (When she received the Holy Ghost.)  She was elated and couldn't stop beaming.  I think the highlight was when our Mission President showed up with his wife and daughter (who was here visiting) to see the baptism.  We were nervous, excited and more nervous and excited! It isn't everyday that your Mission President comes to your investigator's baptism!  He was thrilled and excited to be there.  He told our Bishop, "I knew that Sister Golden's name was good for something!  These two sisters are the best around!" It was cute.

Later on we went over to teach her what we call the 'new member lessons' or the lessons all over again just so she doesn't forget.  So we taught her #1 which is The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I Love teaching!  I have found that I thrive off of helping others to learn and gain a better understanding.  So as we were teaching,  Ezzy's older sister walked in the door from work,  she sat down and joined in on our lesson which actually turned into all of us teaching Ezzy's sister Monica.  After the lesson we asked Monica if we could continue to teach her about the church and allow her to learn just what her sister was learning and had learned.  SHE AGREED!  We don't teach just to baptize, in fact I look way beyond that benchmark.  We teach so that people can come unto Christ, take steps towards Him which includes baptism, so they can reach the goal of going to the temple to be sealed as a family forever.  The temple is different than the local church meetinghouse- it is the house of the Lord.  A place where we make sacred covenants, and receive eternal blessings.  And when families go there they can be bound together not only here on earth, but forever...we are bound eternally. (See Matthew18:18)

We had another great teaching opportunity with a young man named Charles.  He hasn't grown up in any one church and has a basic understanding of the Bible.  But he is so great.  We tracted into him (meaning we were knocking on doors and ran across him at home) and have had two really solid lessons with him since.  The one we had this week was the Plan of Salvation- which is God's plan for us to live happily and return to live with Him again; all based upon how we use and exercise our free will or agency.  He loved this lesson and what made it more great was the fact that we had it in his buddy's home who is a member of the church.  They have grown up together and have that bond.  So when Jake, his friend, shared his testimony it meant so much more to Charles because they have that connection of friendship already.  It was great.  Something that really stood out to him was the aspect that because of the Priesthood (or power and authority to act in God's name) we can be sealed to our families forever.  He recognized the difference between self proclaimed religious figures, and being called and ordained to do so by God.

Something I have come to notice is that God sends us to places NOT by accident.  Why do I say that?  Well when I started my mission in Jacksonville I thought I would never return to that place.  But little did I know that by being there it would actually affect my mission almost 13 months down the road.  When I was in Jacksonville as a Sister Training leader I had to go on exchanges with the Sisters in Hampstead for a period of 24 hours.  This is to ensure that the sisters are doing okay, that the work is moving forward, to be an example, and to encourage them.  So almost over a year ago I was in Hampstead a few times going around meeting the members, teaching investigators and knocking on doors.  There are two experiences from this week that I want to share- that proved to me that the beginning of my mission was meant to help me at the end of my mission.
   1.  We went tracting this weekend around 11am and it was COLD.  Like under freezing temperatures with 20 mph winds.  We were tough and layered up and it wasn't too, too bad. 
As we were knocking on the different trailers (I love trailer parks!) we weren't making much headway at first. The people were enjoying their Saturday morning and didn't want the cold air to enter into the trailer (reasonable right?).  We kept going and got to the end of one row and found a lady WAITING for us behind her glass door.  She opened it and asked if we wanted to come in.  (Of course we didn't decline!)  As we walked in I had a strange feeling, sort of like De-ja-vu but I didn't know why.  We started talking to this sweet mom named Caroline who opened up to us about her past life and how HARD and challenging it was...and it WAS.  When she started talking about her husband and family my mind took a flashback to a year ago when I was in Jacksonville but had to come to Hampstead on exchanges.  Sister Alldrege and I had come to THIS very trailer, knocked on HER door, and talked with her husband who was holding the kids that were now sitting before me.  Coincidence? I think not.  When we finished teaching her some of the first few points of the Restoration I told her that I had been here before...and asked her if this lesson was familiar.  She looked straight into my eyes and said, "Yes,  and I remember you.  My husband told me about you last time you came."  I could feel the spirit enter the room and I testified that God wanted her to know something.  And that something, was what we taught people for 18 months of our lives.  It was a sweet encounter. We can't wait to go back next weekend to see how things turn out.
   2.  In Jacksonville I remembered going around looking for less-active members that we weren't sure still actually lived at the address that was listed.  One man we went to go find had the last name of Moneymaker.  That isn't too common.  When we knocked on his door he opened and told us he was who we were looking for, but he didn't want us to come back by again. He was done with the church.  We respected his decision, took the note, and went on our way.  13 months later, as I am serving in Hampstead the name Moneymaker comes up again and I thought to myself, there is NO way there are two of those guys with the exact same first and last names!  We waited for church to start and I was keeping my eyes peeled for this, 'Moneymaker'.  I saw him- walking in with a white shirt on, sleeves rolled up to show his tattoos, gauges in both ears and a black vest on.  I marched straight over to him and said, "Are you ___ Moneymaker?"  He replied that he was...a little taken aback.  I continued, "Did you used to live in Jacksonville?"  Then he says, "Yes, and I remember you.  I told you to go away and not come back." Then he smiled sheepishly-this big burly man- and says, "Well, I'm sorry. But I'm back."  I patted him on his large marine-like deltoid and said, "The Lord wants you back and so do we."  And we went away and sat down again.  I love that we are placed in each others paths for a reason.  It may be just for that time, or it is because it will affect our life somewhere down the way, far into the future. 

Oh yeah and I almost forgot.  This week was also my Birthday!  A few members caught wind of it and we had some invites for lunch and dinner.  Well, at lunch it was a big feast- Cafe Rio style.  Then lemon cake.  Then we moved on to the dinner appointment.  Pork Pasole with tortillas and chocolate mint cake!  Then lastly we go to the Bullard's house (a family we are teaching) and they made us dinner and cake!  3 layer cake! Oh my gosh it was so sweet of them and they went out of their way to surprise me, so I couldn't decline.  Let me just tell you- I have never felt so fat nor full.... Woes of a mission I guess ;)

But the best part wasn't that.  It was teaching Mr. Bullard about the Plan of Salvation.  When we told him about the afterlife and the Kingdoms of Glory (see 1Cor. 15:39-41) he says, "Wow.  I like this. I love learning!"  He said he would come to church and listen to the next lesson we have next Sunday.  To say the least, it was a pretty great week. 

I love teaching, I love learning, I don't like the cold too much, but that is fine!  I hope you are enjoying where you are at and love the life you are leading :)
<3 Sister Golden

Monday, January 18, 2016

Setting Goals Leads to Success!

This week was FABULOUS!  Sister Macrum and I were able to see such success as we went out tracting and found new people to teach.  How did this happen you might say? Well, we covenanted with the Lord.  We set apart specific times to go knock on doors, and told the Lord our goals of what we wanted to accomplish.  And let me tell you, God is good.  We were able to find such solid investigators.  I feel so blessed.  One of the young men had a broken foot, a cast on it, and crutches, but still came out on the porch to sit and talk with us because we couldn't come inside.  He told us about all the plans he had recently made but fell through and then said he was turning 25 on the 24th of January and still felt directionless.  1. We have the same birthday so obviously we were meant to meet. 2. It is crazy how our lives happen and allow us to be in a certain place at a certain time.  We taught him about the Restoration of the gospel and gave him a Book of Mormon after teaching him about it.  He was genuinely excited!  Which made us excited!  He told us to come back the following week.  And that we will do!

Then we had an amazing lesson with this family of three.  David, his wife JJ and his daughter Kameryn are so, so sweet.  Our night had completely fallen crashed and burned. But we persevered and didn't stop working.  Because of that we were able to share the message of the Restoration with this family, and David and JJ told us that they were willing to do anything to be better parents for their daughter.  They warmed up to us right away and actually invited us to stay for dinner!  Which was a blessing because we didn't eat anything all night!

We had to get 3 new tires on our car this week.  Just time for it I guess. That took FOREVER.  So we made a bracket for our zone and assigned people to certain houses at Hogwarts...and this was at McDonalds. Ha:)

We had Zone training on Wednesday and I learned so much.  A photographer for the church also came and was capturing the action!

I got to go to Jacksonville again on exchanges and see more of the people I love. I am grateful for the second chance I was given to go there.  Otherwise I would have gone home with a bad taste in my mouth from my first experience there.  The Lord knows what we need and when :)

We went out to get Sushi with an investigator named Alecia and before we left her boyfriend had to show us his latest catches.  He had gotten 2 coons while out 'coon-hunting' and 2 beavers.  He was in the process of skinning them and had hung the 2 raccoons for us to see.  It was...lovely...haha! I laugh and the 'country-ness' of the folks down here.

Sunday we all went to Wilmington and watched a broadcast from a few General Authorities that was specifically for the South Eastern side of the country.  Our investigator Ezzy came and enjoyed it.  We were able to travel with the Bishop's family and had a lesson in his home after that, which was really special.  She is so excited to be baptized on Wednesday- it will be the activity for the youth that night.

I hope you have a great week! Love
Sister Golden :)

Monday, January 11, 2016

My last Zone Conference!

Sharing our testimonies!
Well this week was a whirlwind of emotion that is for sure!  I had to give my departing testimony at Zone Conference we had on Friday- and truly I never expected that day to come.  But it has! I will share with you some of what I said:
1.  My mission has helped me to develop Charity...and I have defined charity as a never ending search for someone else's happiness.  So therefore my mission for me has been a never ending search for someone else's happiness.  And because of my Savior, I am able to feel a greater understanding for everyone I meet.
2.  My reasons for coming on a mission have slowly changed over the course of these last 17 months.  I feel a sincere desire to help- lift- and support.  That has come through hours, tears, and sacrifice while on my mission.  As I have developed better study skills and tried to overcome some of my inadequacies I have felt Christ qualify me for the work I am doing.
3. I love my mission BECAUSE I love the Lord.
4. I didn't want to change on my mission.  Change scared me!  And little did I know that the only consistent thing on a mission IS change.  HA.  But I realize that it is more refining than it is change.  I am still the same old me, but better and more in-tune.  I have seen in myself the spark of a new person and I would never give that up.
5. Life is hard.  But Christ makes it possible...and it is oh so worth it. 
6.  "This isn't the best 18 months OF my life...but the best 18 months FOR my life."

So after that shocking experience and for the FIRST time realizing that my time here is running out....we had lunch. Okay! Moving on!

Sister James gave an instruction on 'healthy eating' and proceeded to make a healthy green smoothie in front of us all and gave us each a sample.  Then she brought in Kale chips she made and had everyone try them.  AND THEN she handed out a yellow piece of paper that said SISTER GOLDEN on it and there were several 'healthy recipes' I have compiled while on my mission.  She had heard from a few of my companions, and other missionary friends that I am a health fanatic and she asked me for these recipes.  Well, now everyone in the North Carolina Raleigh Mission has a copy of my recipes.  HA.

This week we had a lesson with a part member family in which the Bishop accompanied us to. We taught the restoration to the dad who is working towards being baptized and it went so smoothly.  The Bishop added great insight and was so spiritually in-tune.  I was glad he took the time out of his schedule and came to this lesson with us.  I am so grateful that we have leaders in the church who have authority and the priesthood to act in God's name.  These leaders truly make a difference in my life and I know that because we have the gospel here on the earth, we are blessed with revelation and insight from them.

I had to go on 4 exchanges this last week! It was crazy.  I went to Jacksonville and got to see a few of the members I grew to love! Oh it was so FUN!  I was sad to hear that people have moved, become less active, or don't talk with the missionaries.  But so is life. 
Jacksonville 3rd Ward

Jacksonville 2nd Ward
I was able to have a lesson with my convert Mellisa and talk to her about getting ready to go to the temple and get her patriarchal blessing.  I feel so privileged to be an instrument in God's hands...because Mellisa's life is SO different than what it was just a year ago.  She is still going, still loving the members of the church, and is involved. It made me SO happy.

Last night we were able to watch the Young adult broadcast given by Elder Nelson at BYU Hawaii with our investigator Ezzy.  It was a great broadcast and something that Elder Nelson said stuck with me, he said, "Listen with the intent to obey."  Do we listen to God- the prophet- our leaders- with the intention to apply and obey the counsel they give right away? Or do we take it as a nice little devotional, and get pumped up, but then go about our day.  I challenge you to heed promptly to the counsel we receive from the Lord and our Prophet.  Don't listen just to listen, but listen with the intent to obey.

"I hope this new year to come you make mistakes.  Because if you are making mistakes you are trying something new, learning, pushing yourself, changing the world.  You are doing things you have never done before and more importantly doing something.  Dare to make mistakes. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough or it isn't perfect.  Whatever it is you're scared of doing, DO IT.  Make your mistakes this new year and forever."  (A quote by Pres. James adapted and abridged from Neil Gaiman.)
Love, Sister Golden

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year!

HELLO from Hampstead.  This week was a busy one- but a good one nonetheless.

Last Monday we went to Wilmington to play some sports together with some missionary friends.  It was a well needed outlet!  We played soccer...but it was a small field and everyone was like, "Don't break Sister Golden again!"  I was sore the next day, but a good sore.

Then I was able to go on exchanges down to Jacksonville and the highlight of it was seeing my sweet convert Mellisa who was baptized just over a year ago!  I know that eternal relationships are built on missions!  In heaven it will be just one big party with everyone who loves each other :)
The Jacksonville Gang!

In between our appointments and meetings and other missionary duties we were able to find 5 new investigators and talk baptism with some of them.  In our area book we have records of people who used to take the missionary discussions but for some reason discontinued them.  We decided to try and go contact them since it has almost been a year or more for some of them.  There was a neat experience I will share.  We tried to contact this woman who had been interested in learning more about the gospel- and when we knocked on the door a middle aged man stepped outside, gave us a huge smile and said,"HELLO!"  He was quite enthusiastic.  Ha.  We told him we were looking for this woman..who turned out to be his mother, but she was in a care home now.  We continued talking with him about family, and other things he cared about.  We then transitioned into the gospel and our purpose as missionaries.  NOW,  I have NEVER had this response from anyone on my mission, but he said, " I would invite you in...but I have family in town." *I was used to that and almost expecting it* Then he goes, "Is there a time you can come back and teach me about what you believe? I really want to learn more!"  *SHOCK!*  Sister Macrum did a double take and I had to keep my voice even to show him that I wasn't extra-excited!  So we are planning on going back and teaching him this upcoming weekend! SO that was great!

Tuesday night we drove in our jammies to Wilmington to spend the night with the Sisters there.
Some kind of portable puff up bed!
The next day, Wednesday, Sister Muder and I had to wake up at 5am, get ready, pack up, and get a ride with the elders to Raleigh at 6am. We had to drive 2.5 hours to get there...I slept in the back and the poor elders had to stay alert the whole time.  The meeting was a Missionary leadership meeting and I had to give a thought, then we talked a lot about upcoming changes.  Such as not having transfer meetings anymore, and peoples departure dates getting pushed back by a week because the MTC time is going to be restored from 2 to 3 weeks now.   So yeah.  That was interesting.  We went out to dinner afterwards and took a long car ride home.  We saw a few fireworks that way for New years;) 

This week we had a really good lesson with our investigator Ezzy in a member's home.  She is so excited to be baptized she has a count down going.  When she said the closing prayer she prayed to God and said, "Thank you so much for sending these wonderful ladies to me.  I love them for teaching me more about you and making me feel like I belong."  It was so touching!  It makes me sad to think that there are some people who live without the gospel.  It brings so much joy and satisfaction.
Cookout with the local Baptists!

Billy making fried cornbread!
I am grateful for this time I have to forget myself for 18 months and serve other people.   I have been changed for the better and I want to continue blessing others as an instrument for the Lord.

Sister Golden