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.  (www.lds.org)
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 stove....you 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
Exchanges
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 lds.org!  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!  Otherwise...it 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!
Ezzy
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 :)