Monday, April 28, 2014

Learning a Second Language

Welcome to Florida!!
In Florida-when it rains it pours!!!

On Tuesday we were knocking doors in an apartment complex near UNF.  I knocked on a door and a man who appeared to be in his 20's opened the door.  He pointed at his ear to signal that he is deaf.  I got so excited because Sister Hale knows sign language!  She couldn't see him from the angle she was at so I nudged her until she looked.  She signed enough to bear a powerful testimony about the Book of Mormon.  He agreed to take the Book of Mormon and read it and pray to know if it was true!  He told us his name is Codey.  His sign name is done by making a "C" by your eye.  Apparently he got that name because his eyes are so blue.  He was very kind and signed thank you with the Book of Mormon several times.  With the language barrier we weren't able to find out if he will be here over the summer or get a phone number or last name to find him on Facebook.  However, there are three girls in the branch who sign really well.  We have one of them coming out with us on Tuesday so we are praying we will be able to contact him again.  I've been having fun learning bits of sign language.  So far I can testify of the Book of Mormon, sign Heavenly Father loves you, and invite someone to baptism!  What else do I need?  Haha, I am still learning, and I love it!
Wednesday night we had a final lesson with Caitlin and Kristen at a sister's house.  She made dinner and we talked about Enduring to the End.  We showed the video Only a Stonecutter.  We will miss these sweet sisters, but we know they are going to do great things if they continue on the right path! 

Friday night we had a lesson with Territa who is a less active member.  She has a very sensitive spirit, but hasn't acted too much to come to church.  She did come once with a friend though!  Someone in her home ward asked a YSA, Clinton, to offer her rides.  That same week we asked Clinton to come with us to her lesson!!!  Coincidence?  I think not!  Clinton was in the navy and he is amazing!  He was baptized about two years ago and we first met him at the Military Relation's home during dinner.  We were telling the story of the Jaredites and Clinton was able to share his own experiences on a boat on stormy seas.  His testimony added so much to our lesson.  Afterwards he got in his car and put on his shades and we realized that with his sunglasses on he looks just like Frozone from The Incredibles!  He is super tall too!  We told him that in church on Sunday and he got a good laugh from it.  So he might just be referred to as Frozone from now on! 

After that we went to family home evening at Sister Ramirez's home.  Her daughter, Marissa, is home from college and taught a lesson.  It was really great and we are excited to have Marissa coming to the YSA branch!
Saturday morning we did some more yard work for Pete and Sister Ramirez.  Then in the afternoon we went to the soccer game of the team Pete coaches (9-12 year olds).  It was really fun, and we got to soak up the sun for a good 45 minutes!  I'm actually starting to get tan... and lots more freckles... but slightly tan! :) 
Sunday night we had dinner with the Caruso's.  Brother Caruso is a counselor in the Branch Presidency.  Dinner was amazing!  We had baked sweet potatoes, sauted kale and squash, the best salmon I've ever had, and ice cream sundaes for dessert!  We love them so much!  Sister Hale and I hadn't realized how much we missed the feel of an established home with the priesthood.  We love the YSA, but the feeling in a home is so different, and we hadn't noticed until we hadn't been in one for so long! 
Have a blessed week!
Love, Sister Murray

Monday, April 21, 2014

Broken Hearts and Broken Cars

Sister Murray at the beach. The mission ends where the sand starts.
Jacksonville Beach.
A Sail Boat
Florida Kisses-I know what happens when you kiss a frog...but what about a gator?
The Easter Bunny Comes to Missionaries too!!

Last Monday we picked up the Ft. Caroline Sisters (Houtz and Williams) and headed to the beach!  We planned to meet the Jax Beach Sisters (Joseph and Liao) at a little Italian Ice shop called Rita's.  As we are looking at the ice cream flavors we hear the door open.  Guess who walks in?  President and Sister Craig!!!  Straight from the beach!  Haha, their hair was all wind blown and they had definitely been in the sun.  Their daughter and son-in-law came to visit for a week before she ran the Boston Marathon.  It was so fun to see them, and we got a good laugh when President Craig talked about how nice it was to not be wearing a suit. After ice cream we drove to the beach and walked on the sidewalk that is as close to the beach as you can get without being on it.  We found a fun little gift shop with shells, alligator heads, postcards, t-shirts... all the fun stuff!  Do you want to guess who was there?  The Atlantic Beach Elders!  We were running into all sorts of people we knew! 

Tuesday morning we took our car into the shop for a repair.  Last transfer we had a slight adventure with the front right fender but we were all safe and the car wasn't damaged much either.  It was a tender mercy in a way though because we got to spend the entire day with the Ft. Caroline Sisters on Sister Houtz's birthday!  We went to Sweet Tomatoes for lunch and they went to pick up something from a member and it turned into a whole surprise birthday party!  So that kind of took up the day and then we went to the Mandarin building to skype the twins for a lesson before institute. 

Still no car Wednesday.  We did some tracking with the Ft. Caroline Sisters before we got kicked out of the apartment complex.  The manager came right in the middle of a great lesson with this amazing YSA aged man!  He was a professional fighter and he just started meditating and looking into religions.  He was the first door Sister Hale and I knocked at so it was a blessing we started with his door before the manager came and got mad at as.  People don't understand the difference in soliciting and proselyting.  That apartment complex must be super elect for us to get kicked out that fast.  Satan doesn't want us there!  Haha, that won't keep persistent missionaries away for too long!  We have to go back and see the man we left a Book of Mormon with AND the Ft. Caroline sisters met a YSA aged girl we will go see too!
Wednesday night our ward mission leader, William, took us and the YSA Elders to dinner at Bono's BBQ.  He has so many funny stories from his mission in Paraguay!  We were laughing the whole time!  Our Elders are so funny too!!!  They always have good stories.
We finally got the car back Thursday evening!  We are so blessed to have a car, and now we really appreciate it!  Just a few hours after getting our car repaired we got our hearts crushed.  Kristen messaged us on Facebook and told us she couldn't get baptized on Sunday.  She's not ready and she wants to learn more about Catholicism because she's not sure she gave it a fair chance.  

Friday night we had a lesson with Caitlin and Kristen about the Book of Mormon and it was so powerful!  Kristen reassured us she is not done learning, she just wants more time to be sure this is right for her.  After the lesson Sister Hale and I agreed that we felt a great peace that she needed this time to gain her testimony.  We will need to be patient.  The hardest part is that both of them are going home for the summer this Friday.  We are planning on contacting the ward, and missionaries there.  We are going to miss these girls!

After the lesson Sister Hale and I went on a trade-off with the Sister Training Leaders.  Sister McCleary stayed in our area with Sister Hale and I went to Hendricks with Sister Heckel.  We visited a woman who is less active.  She is YSA age and has a son.  I was excited she might want to know more about the YSA activities.  Then she pretty much started bashing YSA's and the programs.  I am really not one that gets mad, but it took so much control not to get frustrated with her.  You do not mess with my YSA's!  I was able to tell her how much I love the YSA's and I told her about the upcoming CES broadcast, institute, and all of the other great activities. 

Saturday morning Hendricks Ave. ward had an Easter Breakfast.  It ended up being fruit and donuts.  It was weird being in a family ward, but it was so fun to watch the kids do the egg hunt.  After that we went to help a member moving into their ward.  Of course, she was moving into an apartment on the third floor and she had a ton of heavy furniture.  That was a really good work out!  Gratefully we have some strong Zone Leaders and several men from the ward made it out.  She was a sweetheart!  She even had fruit and donuts for us.  Haha, it was a sugary day....  Good thing donuts are not much of a temptation for me!  Now fruit on the other hand... yummy!  We went home for showers and lunch.  If we had waited a few hours we could have stood outside in the rainstorm and been clean!  It was pouring!!!!  I love the rain!  

That evening Sister Hale and I were happy to be together again.  We were able to go to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's performance of Handel's Messiah for about an hour.  It was beautiful!  I am not sure if I could listen to hours of opera, but an hour was perfect!  (It looked like we enjoyed it more than the Elders, haha!!)  The musicians are all so talented! 

Sunday was a wonderful day to reflect on our Savior's life and sacrifice.  It wasn't much different than other days work-wise, but there were two beautiful musical numbers in sacrament meeting and two wonderful speakers. I am truly grateful for all that my Savior does for me.  I love him and am grateful to know that with His help I can continue to repent and improve each day.  I've loved all of the BecauseofHim posts on Facebook.  If you haven't seen the video yet check it out Here:  Watch it and think about all of the things you can and will do/become because of Christ!

I Love ya'll!!!
Sister Murray

Monday, April 14, 2014

Our Recent Convert Gave me Flowers

This is what happens when you help Pete paint a bedroom.  He spoils us so bad!  Happy Easter!!!
The beach.  The mission ends where the sand begins. :)

I don't have a lot of time to write today since we're going to the beach!  haha, ok... we're going to look at the beach from a distance and do a little shopping.  The mission ends where the sand begins. :)

We have been trying to focus on finding new people to teach since all of our amazing gators are getting baptized.  Heavenly Father definitely places people in our paths.  We spent some time in the mall parking lot, but it was a slow day so we're going to have to try it again on a Saturday or Friday.  We did, however, meet this really great guy on a motorcycle!  He was super nice and really interested in learning about the church.  Guess what?  His grandpa is from Ghana!  I told him my cousin is serving a mission there!  I love connections :)  He is married so we won't be teaching him, but we were happy we could get him started.
While we were tracking the other day we were just leaving for an appointment when a man came out on the balcony of his apartment and asked if we left the card.  We said yes and told him to give us a call.  He is a Protestant from India.  Well we just happen to have a recent convert from India in the Branch!  How perfect?  The guy in the branch is named Sunny, I might have mentioned him before.  He is one of the most missionary-minded members I have ever met.  He brought a guy he met at Wal-mart to church with him once!  And he just took his mom, who is not a member, to the temple grounds this past week.  He said it was really neat because growing up his mom would take him to Hindu temples, and now the role has been changed.  I will definitely have to let ya'll know how the lesson with this new gator goes this week!

Kristen was going to be baptized on Thursday night, but due to some complicated circumstances and a lot of misunderstanding we have moved her baptism to Sunday the 20th.  Easter!  That's the best way I can think of to spend Easter anyway!  We had already made a cake for the baptism so our district got to eat that at district meeting.  Sister Hale gave a training in district meeting about using the introduction of the Book of Mormon while contacting.  Her favorite door approach is to stand at a door holding a Book of Mormon and talk to them until they look at the book.  Then you conveniently change the conversation with, "Have you heard of the Book of Mormon?"

Once while I was backing Sister Hale up this older lady walking her dog came by.  I thought I would be a great missionary and run over and give her a card.  Let's just say she had NO desire, whatsoever to hear about Christ.  It makes me so sad that someone can turn away their Savior like that.  But we all have our agency.  Haha, I think Heavenly Father was preparing me for angry, swearing people when He led me to work ushering sporting events at USU and with customers at the DI.  Isn't it great that He knows what we need to prepare us for the future?  I have seen that again and again in my life. 

On Saturday we had dinner with Pete and Sister Ramirez.  Pete spoiled us, as usual- salad, rice, garlic bread... mmmm... and fresh fruit for dessert.  Then he brings out a box with new shoes for Sister Hale!  He had seen how badly her shoes were falling apart so he got online and ordered her the exact same ones!  Never mention to Pete that you need something unless you want him to buy it for you!  He has such a giving heart!  We love him!  And of course he had to get something for me if he was getting something for Sister Hale.  He got me a pack of adorable flower hair clips!  Do they know me well or what?!?  I had started thinking I would never want to serve in a family ward again after loving the YSA so much!  But I really love this family so I think I could manage to adjust again. :)

Well I hope ya'll have a blessed week! 
I love you!
Sister Murray

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sacrifice Brings Forth the Blessings of Heaven

Pete's baptism and confirmation was a very spiritual and wonderful experience!  We are so proud of the path he is taking.  He has such a light about him now.  He really is going to be a leader in the church!  He is so loving and fun.  His testimony is solid too, despite family telling him what he is doing is wrong he KNOWS this gospel is true!
Text in Conference
Remember how Elder Ballard told us missionaries are good at being
persistent? I think I'm learning that well.  We have tried this door
so many times we finally decided we would just attack it with cards. I
think she will get the message, do you? :)
What have we been eating?  Gluten free BBQ chicken pizza!
Murray!  It must be good.

When Sister Hale and I agreed to let Sister Chappell join our companionship last transfer we knew it would be an adjustment, and it was.  We all grew a lot, and there were so many miracles along the way.  I suppose the best way to tell you about this week is to start at the beginning.

Tuesday was our P-day.  We went to lunch with Sister Cano, the wife in a family Sister Chappell reactivated.  That night Sister Chappell was having a hard time with changes and a lot of other things.

Wednesday morning we drove to Mandarin early so Sister Chappell could talk to President Craig.  It was decided she would be going home on Monday, and until then she would remain with us.  We attended institute that night and had a wonderful lesson on the Good Samaritan. 

Thursday night a miracle happened.  The Elders showed Pete Finding Faith in Christ, but they had to leave right after.  We began talking to Pete about his baptism.  Sister Chappell decided to bear her testimony and the Spirit completely took over.  She testified of turning our will over to God.  That is what she is doing in leaving the mission again, and that is what Pete would need to do to get baptized before marrying Sister Ramirez.  He wants to wait to marry her rather than moving out and being baptized now.  Or at least that was his plan, until Sister Chappell invited him to be baptized sooner--she said she would like to see him baptized.  The spirit was so strong!  Pete agreed to be baptized Saturday between the afternoon conference session and priesthood session.  We started getting all of the plans together for the baptism.

Friday we spent the day planning for the next week, and for Pete's baptism.  In the afternoon we went to Chirag's house and taught the first lesson to his friend, Aileen.  Chirag is the guy the AP's taught and he is friends with Caitlin and Kristen.  The twins know Aileen from school too, actually.  She is so sweet and has a sincere desire to learn more.  She agreed to be baptized if she prays and finds what we taught is true. 

Saturday we watched conference in the Arlington building.  We weren't with any of our investigators, but when something stood out that was relative to them we would text them and make sure they were listening!  Caitlin, Kristen, and Pete LOVED conference!  In between sessions we ran to the Post Office to mail some things home for Sister Chappell.  The office was closed but the self-serve was open.  While there a woman came in and started talking to us.  We were walking out of the Post Office and I realized I hadn't handed her a card!  So we turned around and went back to give her one.  She said she could tell we knew Christ by the light in our faces before we even gave her the card.  Then she told us her son is a member of our church.  Here comes the biggest tender mercy: her son is Brother Cano-the same family Sister Chappell reactivated.  She was so happy we knew her son and was so grateful Sister Chappell had helped him come back to Christ.  We left her with our card and she gave us hers so we can come visit her again.  She is not YSA so we'll be referring her to the family ward, but it was perfect!

Pete and Sister Ramirez, and her daughter, came to watch conference at the church before his baptism.  The baptism was beautiful.  Pete says he felt so warm and clean when he came up.  Even physical pain he has had for years was gone at that moment.  It was beautiful!  Then Brother Commander, the Arlington ward mission leader, surprised us by saying Pete would be confirmed then instead of waiting a week. 

Sunday morning we watched conference in the Mandarin building, where the YSA's meet, but there weren't any YSA's there.  (Did ya'll love the Southern accent in the closing prayer?  It made us happy!) We came home for lunch and then went to Sister Ramirez mom's house for the afternoon session and dinner.  It was fun to see Pete so involved.  He is still working on getting names right though (Sanctuary=Chapel, President Munson or Monsoon=President Monson, John Smith=Joseph Smith).  Haha, I forget how many names and terms are unique to our church.  Before we left Pete was the one that said, "We need to say a prayer before you go."  He gave a beautiful prayer and asked for Sister Chappell to have safe travels.  We are so excited to see what happens to the Ramirez family with the Priesthood in their home.  It is such a blessing! 

Monday morning we took Sister Chappell to the mission home at 7:15.  Apparently there was some confusion in the times because President Craig was in the middle of his morning exercising when he answered the door.  oops!  haha, we had a good laugh about that though!  And now I am here writing to ya'll!

I hope ya'll were listening to Elder Ballard's talk!  I would LOVE to hear what you are learning as you study Preach my Gospel.  It really is an amazing book and as we study it I know we will be more prepared to share the gospel.  There were so many wonderful talks and messages that were perfect!  I am super excited to read them all! 

Have a blessed week!

Love ya'll!
Sister Murray