Tuesday, February 18, 2014

We Love YSA!

This is what happens when Sister Hale takes the tape off of our white board during my weekly training conference call. (I'm done with training now!  How crazy is that?)

Just a sample of the member's delicious cooking!  Black Rice with mango and chicken!  Yum!  These YSA's know how to cook gluten/dairy free!  I should be coming home with some good recipes!

Look at these masterpieces!  Would you ever guess they are gluten and dairy free?  Sister Hale and I are going to be the pros at baking without gluten and dairy!  Thank goodness for rice flour and dairy free chocolate chips! :)  Next time we'll just add some applesauce so they're not as dry :)

Happy transfers!  Sister Hale and I will be staying together, serving in the Jax YSA Branch.  We will no longer be in Arlington, but will cover the East AND West stakes of YSA.  That includes 12 wards so we're going to be staying busy.  The other set of YSA sisters have been moved to a home ward so it will just be us and the Elders in YSA now.  We're super excited to be staying!  We love the members, the leaders, the missionaries we work with... everything!  Even with the occasional love drama... Oh, we will be staying in the same apartment too.

It's been a rough past few weeks for our companionship... we're not sure why.  We just decided that Satan hates us... which means we must be doing something right!  Right?  Haha, but we are looking forward to another transfer together.  This morning in our studies we sang the hymn We are All Enlisted and decided it should be our theme song (just read it!).

Even with some bumpy times there have been so many miracles!  This week we stopped in to meet a less active YSA named Teritia.  As we got there the Atlantic Beach Sisters were just leaving!  Neither one of us had set an appointment, it just "happened" to work out like that.  As we talked to Teritia she broke into tears because she knew we loved her and God loved her enough to send her two sets of sister missionaries in one day.  She is such a sweetheart and is wanting to get some good friends in her life.

A huge miracle this week happened in Dunn Ave.  We were literally backing out of our apartment to go to an appointment at Jacksonville University with our investigator there when our District Leader, Elder Dean, called and told us to get to the Dunn Ave building, "Right now!"  We explained we had an appointment, but he said we needed to be in Dunn Ave.  So we put our trust in our leader, canceled our appointment (did I mention we even had a member coming with us?), and made the 20 minute drive to Dunn Ave.  When we got there we saw Elders Dean and Parker sitting on the church lawn on some chairs with a YSA woman.  Her name is Shelby and she is amazing!  Here's her story:  She was raised going to Christian schools and loves the Bible.  In fact, it's her refuge in a home that is less than ideal.  She's been through some hard times and has felt so alone.  She had been praying for God to send her some good Christian friends, and this morning she had felt it would be "the day!"  She said she just felt so happy and didn't know why.  Well throughout the day some things took a turn for the worse and she ended up at the library where she sat down and began crying.  That's when Elder Dean approached her and asked what was wrong.  The Elders had been doing Facebook at the library (which is not where they normally go.)  They began talking and Shelby considered them her answer.  They walked across the street to the church, but couldn't be alone inside so the Elders pulled out some chairs and began to teach the Restoration.  Sister Hale and I got there in time to add a bit to the lesson.  You would have had to be blind to not see the light in Shelby's eyes.  She told us she knows what we were teaching is true because God answered her prayers by sending us to her.  She kept asking why she hadn't heard these things before, but she fully accepted what we taught her.  She was so excited when we gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon.  (The Elders saw her about two days later and she had read 16 chapters!)  She wanted to know about missionaries, and she asked if she would be expected to serve a mission.  She was totally willing to drop everything and go serve like we were!  Elder Dean invited her to be baptized and she accepted a date in March!!!  We are so excited for her!  We waited with her at the church waited for her ride to come.  While there Elder Dean came to us and said he had a feeling the Dunn Ave missionaries needed to teach her.  We all prayed about it, and Dunn Ave will teach her, but we are hoping to get her to YSA Family Home Evening or institute so she can begin to make those friends she was praying for.  Over time she will likely transition to YSA.  

On our way out the door to District Meeting Elder Dean called and asked if I could do a musical number on my flute (are you seeing a pattern here?  haha, he really had meant to ask me earlier he just forgot).  I was so excited!  District Meeting began, and who walks in but President and Sister Craig, along with their niece who will be leaving on a mission soon and came to get a preview of mission life.  Sister Hale gave a great training on using Preach My Gospel, and my musical number went really well... especially for no practice!  It was fun to have the Craigs join us!

I had the best Valentine's Day of my life last week!  Jeremy from the YSA Branch took all four Sister missionaries to dinner at Chipotle (which is kind of like Costa Vida).  The Elders' investigator came too.  She was going to invite the Elders, but we're not allowed to eat with the Elders so we avoid looking like a date. Have I told ya'll about this investigator?!?!  She was investigating last Spring I believe, and for a few months she stopped coming to church.  She's a bit of an eternigator, but she's ready now!  Elder Calder (Sister Hale's boyfriend) actually was one of the Elders who taught her.  The light in her eyes is incredible!  She comes to church each Sunday and she makes institute and other activities a priority.  Visitors have no idea that she hasn't been baptized yet.  Her baptism is in March and we're so excited for her!  So it was Jeremy and 5 women... we hope we didn't send the wrong message about Mormons...  haha.  While we were in line a woman behind us said to Jeremy, "Looks like you've got your hands full!"  We had a good time together!  

After dinner Sister Hale and I went to University of North Florida to teach Caitlin.  We had a great lesson on how the Book of Mormon and Bible work together.  She really had her eyes opened about their connections.  Then she asked about temples.  We had the wonderful opportunity to bear testimony about eternal families.  I can't think of a better way to spend a Valentine's Day night!  

Saturday afternoon we had three sets of sisters go to Pete's house for service.  It felt so good to get outside and do some yard work.  It is really warming up here!  It feels like April in Utah!  Only the calendar reminds me it's February!  That evening Sister Hale and I taught Pete the Plan of Salvation.  It went really well and we set a baptism date with Pete.  He came to the conclusion that he should come to church.  We were going to invite him anyway, but his own conclusion was so much better!  Have I mentioned Pete's cooking hobby?  He made all six sisters a full meal to take home of roast beef, beans, potato salad, coleslaw, brownies, cake....  Mmmmm...

Sunday was a full day!  We went to an Arlington meeting before church.  Pete and Amy came to church!  He cried in Sacrament meeting!  He didn't want to leave when it was over!  We had time for dinner before driving to YSA.  After church was a linger-longer, and then we had a fireside on missionary work with President and Sister Craig.  THEN there was a fireside for investigators with President Craig and some recent converts speaking.  We pulled some strings, said some prayers, and got an investigator to come!  This girl is friends with someone the Zone Leaders are teaching.  She has sat in on some lessons, but hasn't really connected with them.  Lately, however, she's been talking to me on Facebook and we've gotten to know each other better!  The fireside was really great! We also got to see Shelby again!  

Missionary life is hard, but those miracles make it all worth it!  I love ya'll!  

Sister Murray

P.S.  The Zone Leaders are staying, Sister Fife is staying in Arlington and Sister McCleary is going to Hendricks.  Elder Dean is being transferred and will be a Zone Leader!  And his companion, Elder Parker (who came out with me) will be our new District Leader and will be training a new missionary!  

P.S.S  I forgot to mention that last Sunday Sister Hale and I did a violin/flute duet in the YSA ward.  It went really well and it was so fun!  Sister Petramolo accompanied us on the piano.  We played I Know That My Redeemer Lives.  The first speaker was asked to choose a hymn to speak on and she chose the same one!  It was such a wonderful tender mercy!!!  

AND THANK YA'LL FOR THE VALENTINE'S!!!  I've felt so much love from your notes, treats, gifts, cards, letters, and prayers!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!