|I was a bit scared that all of Jacksonville would be like this, but it's not.|
|We finally made the connection that Jacksonville was named after Andrew Jackson|
|We haven't driven on the Blue Bridge yet, but we got to walk under it. It's amazing to think about the cars driving over your head! This is the parking lot we used when we went downtown.|
|The JAX East Zone! Thanks Elder Collins for helping me look so beautiful... This picture is an eye spy! Find the creepy troll!|
|My gift from the Elders. It is a Murray.|
|Happy New Year!!|
|Thanks Mom for the New Year package.|
I just want to thank ya'll again for the kind letters and gifts! Each one really brightened my days! Thank you for your love! Second, I have to tell you to stop saying you're jealous of the warmth here... it is so cold!!! haha, yes I know 27 degrees is not cold where you are, but we are freezing! I'll just keep blaming my wimpiness on my Reynauds (really bad circulation in the cold) so I don't feel like such a wimp being cold in Florida! haha, I know all of you back home have it much worse! Gratefully it won't last long here!
President Craig has began implementing some of his own rules and adding his own personal touches. One of these was changing our recitations we say each morning and in meetings. He left 3 Nephi 5:13, and added Doctrine and Covenants 4, the Standard of Truth, and the motto "I love tough things, I am the first to do tough things, I do tough things first, I love being a missionary!" I think the Zone Leaders really took the motto to heart when they asked each of us to choose something to fast for the month of January. It will be a challenge, but since I love tough things I'm excited! :) We are also doing something else that I believe is going to bring miracles! Sunday was fast Sunday like normal, but every day after for the next couple weeks is assigned to an area in our Zone. On that day the missionaries in that area fast, and the entire zone will pray for them and the work going on in that area. Arlington got to go first, fasting Monday. We have already seen miracles from this! Sister Hale and I were able to teach some wonderful lessons, which I will talk about later. Also, a sister in the zone was having headaches and after fasting for her on Sunday she found out what was causing them. It was a miracle! I have a testimony of the power that fasting adds to our prayers. Fasting humbles us, yet strengthens us.
Last Monday we spent some time in downtown Jacksonville. It was so pretty! I love all of the bridges! I had never really thought about the lack of bridges in Utah. These are gorgeous! I hope you enjoy the pictures!
Transfers were this week! Monday night we got with two other sets of sisters to listen to a conference call as President Craig read through every area of the mission and who would be serving there. Sister Hale and I are staying in Arlington and YSA!!! Actually our entire district is staying! I love these missionaries so much and am excited to keep serving with them! I am learning so much from my beautiful companion. She has a natural ability to connect to people. Everyone loves her! And she is so sweet and caring! We work hard and well together, but we also have a lot of fun. We've been coming up with songs to memorize scriptures and we jam out to them during companion study. We even sang one to our district leader when he called for our goals.
I failed to mention that we got to see a baptism in the YSA branch last Sunday. Seeing someone take that step really got me excited to see our own investigators reach that point. Our missionary work is really taking off. Sister Hale and I have been laughing at the trends that have been showing up in our teaching. Probably 90% of the people we're working with are men, and we keep finding twins! It's so funny! Sister Hale said she's never taught this many twins before! It's fun to make connections and tell them about my amazing twin sisters! :)
All of those weeks of organizing are beginning to show. We still spend a lot of time knocking on doors of members that no one knows anything about, but we're getting a lot more lessons in. Yesterday we were able to meet with a less active YSA and we got had an appointment with a media referral. Caitlyn had some Mormon friends who suggested she talk to the missionaries. She got online and asked to see the missionaries. She is a student at the University of Northern Florida, and we are so excited to meet with her again! She had some really great questions and her background in the Catholic church has built a good foundation for what we had to teach her. That evening we were able to teach another first lesson to the boyfriend of a YSA age woman in the Arlington ward. It was a short, but powerful lesson. I felt honored to know that this sister trusted us enough to let us come teach someone so important to her. She served a mission in Argentina, and has a strong testimony. She's been able to introduce him to the Book of Mormon and some of the other basics already. I know that Heavenly Father is preparing people to hear the gospel. We just need to go find them!
This week we also got to see the ocean!!! Since our "mission ends where the sand begins," it won't happen too often! We were blessed to have a less active YSA who lived right next to the beach!
I hope you'll get a good laugh for the week from the gifts the Elders have given us. One evening during dinner we get a text from the Zone Leaders telling us they have a gift for us. We can't decide if we should be excited or scared. So far the Elders "gifts" to the sisters have ranged from pictures to troll dolls, to hams. They tell us to go to the parking lot and when we come out we see Elder Collins driving the car and Elder Francom (who was on trade-offs) riding a child's bike with extremely flat tires. We were laughing, and praying that he wouldn't break his head open. Somehow he managed to do a jump on the curb before pulling up where we were. He explained that he got us a bike, and it even had my name on it. I look closer and sure enough--"Murray." Well... Sister Hale and I did want some bikes to use on campus... We told them thanks and didn't mention we had already seen the bike at the dumpster that morning! Last night we come home to our apartment to find a hideous troll doll staring up at us. Thanks again Elders! That same night while we're getting ready for bed, there's a loud knocking on our door. We can't see anyone so we crack open the door to find a bouquet of fake flowers with a note "To the Sisters, From the Elders." Do we want to ask where those came from? Probably not, but it was nice of them.
Last week I talked about making goals to come closer to Christ this year. I have my third goal! I am going to finish memorizing The Living Christ. I love this testimony of Christ, and coming to know it, has already strengthened my testimony and helped me begin to understand all that He did for us.
I wish ya'll the best in achieving your goals this year, and hope you will find yourself closer to your Savior in the process. I love ya'll so much! Thank you for all you do for me!