Monday, May 26, 2014

Sweet Week

It was a really great week!  We may or may not have had frozen yogurt for dinner on Tuesday, and Smoothie King for dinner on Wednesday, and Rita's Italian ice for dessert on Saturday... umm... yah it's been a "sweet week"!

Onto the important stuff... Tuesday we had a lesson set with Matilda.  The ward mission leader, William, had moved his work schedule all over so he could come.  Then she canceled on us.  Welcome to the life of a missionary.  Well we weren't going to have William have gone through all that for nothing!  So we invited Thomas, who is less active, to come instead!  He agreed to meet at the church and stay for institute, which is really big!!!  It ended up being perfect!  Thomas is going to Spain this Fall and was mentioning how he wanted to improve his Spanish.  Well William happened to serve his mission in Paraguay!  William testified in the gift of tongues and taught that his Spanish greatly improved when he prayed in Spanish.  Praying in another language really makes you think about what you are saying.  William taught Thomas how to say a basic prayer and Thomas said the closing prayer in Spanish.  Also, Sam brought his girlfriend, Jenny! 

Wednesday was Zone Conference!  You should have seen me and my amazing Sister Hale when we saw each other!  We gave each other the biggest hug!  I miss my sister!  But I know it was time for us to be split up, and when I saw her I didn't feel like we should be serving together now or anything it was just good to be with her again!  We were able to sit together during Zone Conference!  Speaking of, Zone Conference was amazing!  There were three zones filling the chapel of the Mandarin building!  It is like a spiritual Thanksgiving dinner!  The meeting started at 9:00 am and went until 5:00 pm.  We were all exhausted by the end, but incredibly uplifted!  I had the amazing opportunity to play piano!  We didn't have time for a closing hymn, but the opening hymn was Scripture Power.  You have to imagine the spirit and enthusiasm in the chapel full of missionaries singing "Scripture Power," and raising fists in the air on the chorus!  I was really grateful I was able to play the song!  I learned it and used to play it on Sundays at home when I was in Young Womens.  I snuck into the chapel before institute the day before to try playing it once and I sounded terrible!  It's not really a hard song, but without practicing I was worried I wouldn't be able to play it, but I believe in Angels and in the gift of hands!  Somehow my fingers knew just which keys to hit.  Thank you Heavenly Father!  

The Conference itself was amazing!  We used a talk by Elder Tad R. Callister's talk, "The Consecrated Missionary."  I definitely have some things to focus on working on!  The mission had a huge banner made with our mission goal of 1,000 baptisms this year and each missionary prayerfully decided how many baptisms he or she would contribute.  We each signed the banner with our name and how many baptism we would get by the end of the year.  

After Zone Conference we had a lesson with Aileen at Chirag's house.  Problem #1 We left our phone in our apartment in our rush to leave. Problem #2 when we Facebooked Chirag for his address he didn't give us his apartment number.  Problem #3 When we got to the complex nothing looked familiar and we realized we didn't have the apartment number or wifi to message Chirag or Chirag's phone number.  So we went to McDonald's parking lot.  Problem #4 we knock on his apartment and it still doesn't look familiar... we were in the wrong complex.  Problem #5 we ended up being 45 minutes late.   Embarassing!  But it was a really great lesson about the Plan of Salvation.  It probably even helped Aileen get more comfortable talking to Chirag and hanging out a bit before our lesson!

At Zone Conference  President Craig told us a funny story: A Sister says to President, "I wish I were rich."
President asks, "What would you do if you were rich?"The Sister says, "I would buy t-shirts and hand them out to all the men who walk around without shirts around here!"
 Haha, welcome to Florida!  I hadn't really thought about it lately, but it's going to be different next summer in Utah where guys actually wear shirts!  It will definitely be a good sort of different though!

So Thursday we were going to see a man we tracted into last week, Elijah.  This African American man on a skatebord (without a shirt on of course) goes zooming by.  We laugh about how he probably was going the same place as us... yep he was!  We were able to teach Elijah the Restoration and this other guy, Michael came in part way though to listen while he ate his pop tart.  They both said they would read the Book of Mormon and come to church.  Unfortunately William worked a super late shift and slept though church instead of picking them up... next week we'll get them there!

Friday we had a lesson with Matilda.  She is from West Africa... I can't remember which country though.  She said she will come to church next week when she won't be singing in her church choir.  That night we attended Beth and Kendall Williams' daughter's wedding reception.  It was absolutely gorgeous! Instead of a cake they had a cupcake tower that Brother Williams made.  We got to help put lace around the cupcakes!  There were vases with fish in them and flowers on each table... unfortunately they used tap water and the fish were all dying... poor fishies!

We learned quickly that holiday weekends are not good times to catch people at home, but we did get in some lesson on Saturday.  Sam and Jenny invited us over for dinner and a first lesson.  Both dinner and the lesson were great!  

Sunday afternoon we were surprised to see Sam enter the church without Jenny.  Apparently sometime between Saturday evening and Sunday morning they had a "falling out."  I feel bad for them.  Sometimes being a YSA isn't easy.  We aren't sure if Jenny will still be interested in learning more or not if she's not dating Sam, but we are hopeful!  At the very least though we were able to talk to Sam.  He hasn't been attending church very much and he asked us to help him strengthen his testimony by sending him scriptures to study and such.  We decided if all that comes out of this was helping Sam then that would be enough!
Aileen and Chirag came to church!  Aileen really enjoyed it!  After church we had dinner with the Caruso's.  Two dinners two nights in a row?  Unheard of in YSA!!!  So it was a really good week! 

I love all ya'll!!!  Have a blessed week!   
       Sister Alyson Murray

Monday, May 19, 2014

Technological Difficulties

Florida Traffic   This is the loop of the exit to our house. It usually  is not this backed up, but this day it was crazy.
Whistling like Snow White  by Sister Hale

Transfers went well.  I really miss Sister Hale... she is my sister!  BUT I also really love Sister Fife!  It is different, but it's also really good for me.  I have definitely been pushed out of my comfort zone this week as I have had to show Sister Fife the ropes of YSA.  I'm not used to not having Sister Hale to answer my questions!  But Sister Hale was a very very good trainer!  I love yeeeee Sister Hale!!!!!  (she is going to be reading this)

Tuesday was P-day and also my six month mark!  Can you believe I have been gone six months?  I can't!  We had lunch at a really good island restaurant called Bahama Breeze.  Haha, we had a good laugh when we went to the restroom and saw that they have mouthwash for their customers.  It was fun!  Then we drove around until we found Sweet Frogs Frozen yogurt.  Frogs stands for "Fully Rely On God."  That was as yummy as ever!  I LOVE frozen yogurt!

That evening we got to take a new sister out for a few hours of Prime Pross (The evening is the best time to find people because families are home so we call it prime proselyting).  Her name is Sister Stitt and she is from... Washington?  I think.  Anyway she is really great!  She is literally like a combination of me and Sister Hale so it was perfect!  We had a lesson set up, but it fell through-welcome to missionary life Sister Stitt!  And so we went to Jax Beach and talked to people there.

Wednesday afternoon we drove to Mandarin to get our new companions.  The six Elders going home bore their testimonies.  Elder Lundburg from Logan was one of them.  He was our district leader last transfer.  We got Sister Hale's bags loaded up in their truck and somewhere in the process an Elder thought  our car was his new one and he put his bike on our bike rack.  We came back to find a green bike on our rack and no missionaries around.  Haha, we laughed about riding it around until someone came to claim it.  He finally realized his mistake and got it.  Also!  I met Kyle's (my brother in law) cousin!!!!  Elder Rockwood!!!!  He was standing next to our car and he asked if I had any sisters.  I told him I did and he said one is married to his cousin!  I love connections we find on missions!

There were three sisters from temple square going back to Utah and their flight was delayed so Sister Siegle got to come with us for the rest of the day.  She is from Brazil.  She is so sweet and has a powerful testimony!  She got phone numbers while we were tracting so she can call them from Salt Lake.  We got Sister Fife moved in.  She was living in the same apartment complex just two buildings over so it was a pretty easy move.

This week my iPad decided that I was not authorized to use the missionary planner app.  So I felt super disorganized until Sister Rhoads was able to fix it Monday morning.  Then when I got on to look up the Jax East stake roster all I could see was the North Logan Green Canyon!  I was completely kicked out of the area!  We joked that I had been released early and no one told me.  AND when Sister Fife and I got together I turned on my GPS and all of the people had been deleted!  So there we were covering half of the geographically largest city in the country without people in our GPS.  Needless to say we had to take some organization time to put people back in the GPS.  I often find myself wondering why technology hates me so much.  I think it's a curse.  Well technology is just going to have to learn to live with me because I am using it to preach the gospel!

Thursday and Friday... oh and Saturday were pretty slow.  We visited some less active members, tracted apartments, and went through various ward rosters to find YSA's we don't know about.

Sundays must be my favorite!  We started out with Branch Council before church.  It was fun to introduce everyone to Sister Fife.  Only one person couldn't pronounce her name!  (She normally gets called Sister Fee-fee a lot.. haha)

After church there was a linger longer and then Phillip was baptized!  The Elders have been teaching him and he was planning on being baptized mid-summer.  Then this week the spirit prompted him to move his baptism up!  You know how everyone thought a recent convert was a member before she really was? Phillip is just like that.  I first met him at Caitlin's baptism and I had no idea he was not a member.  He is in the Navy, and he came to church after meeting Sierra (a member in the YSA who is home from her mission on medical leave for a few months) on a LDS dating website.  Only in the YSA would you find investigators on a dating website.  Haha!!!  Sister Fife and I joked about telling President Craig we need to get accounts on LDS Singles. :)

We also got a new gator!!!  Sam brought his new girlfriend to church and she is not a member!  She is so nice and we are excited to start teaching her this week!

I hope ya'll have the best week!  I love all ya'll!!!

Sister Murray

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Great Divide of "Hale Murray"

I Love the South
For FHE we decorated prayer pillowcases to deliver to less active members:) Sister Hale drew the Mickey Mouse. Can you tell she is a Disney fanatic?
A visit to the zoo
The new tiger exhibit is amazing!  There is even a tunnel the tigers can walk in that is over your head. It's hard to describe but it reminds me of a hamster tube:)
Tree?  Is this suppose to look more natural?
You can talk at this door Sister!

Last night Sister Hale and I went to the Arlington sisters' (Sister Larsen and Sister Fife) apartment to listen into transfer calls.  We are supposed to get on Sister Training Leaders' phones so we don't overwhelm the conference call.  When President Craig said that I would be serving in the YSA with Sister Fife we both got looks of shock on our faces!  Then we had to give each other a big hug!  She was my Sister Training Leader when I was in Arlington!  She is a hard working, diligent missionary, and is so sweet!  I am really excited to serve with her!  I think the first while I will feel like I am just on another trade off with her though!  We had a good laugh about her only having to move her stuff over two apartment buildings!  The YSA's are going to love her!  I am so grateful to have another wonderful companion! Sister Fife is from Colorado Springs, Colorado.  You can look at her Profile here: 

Sister Hale will be serving in the St. Augustine Shores Ward.  There is a school for the deaf and blind in St. Augustine so SISTER HALE WILL BE SIGNING!!!!!  I am sooooooooooo excited for her!  It's crazy we met two people who are deaf in just two weeks and we haven't been able to contact them since!  Maybe we just needed that so I could brag about Sister Hale's abilities enough for President to know she can sign.  I know transfers are assigned by inspiration, but I also know that President looks at our abilities and talents as he prays about where to place us.  I sure am going to miss my Sister Hale.  It has been such a blessing to be with her these past six months.  I know she is going to continue to touch so many people!!! 

This past week was really slow for numbers, but we were able to get things organized for transfers and we had some good times finding.  A recent convert (who was baptized in March) came with us to Jax Beach and we had great success!  Funny thing though... only men seemed interested in talking to us...  Haha, we decided she is our secret weapon to increasing the priesthood in the YSA Branch.  We actually had men stopping us to talk!  Flirt to convert right? ;)  The only problem is that now we have guys calling us and asking to hang out.  We always offer to read the Book of Mormon with them! :)  One invited us to go to the shooting range!  That same day a man on the balcony of a hotel on the walkway yelled down to us and asked if we wanted a shot.  That's the first time I've been offered a drink (other than in restaurants of course).  We politely turned him down and told him to check out  He wanted to know more and came down to talk to us.... or at least to flirt with the convert sister.  But he did accept a card!  We believe some of the people who talk to us will find a true desire to learn the truth.

We also were able to meet with a man named Dillon who hasn't been to church lately.  He travels a lot.  When we first messaged him on Facebook he was in Rome!  He is very smart and I think we are going to be getting some really good studies in as we work with him!

This week Pete and Amy went to New York!  They spent a day in the sacred grove and each were able to go off on their own and kneel and pray.  We were the first ones Pete called to tell about it.  We were practically crying ourselves!  It is truly a miracle to see someone change their life so much!  Just a few years ago Pete was angry at God and now he has turned his life completely over to Him.  Pete and Amy are getting married June 7th!  I am excited I will be here to see them! 

Speaking of weddings, we were able to go to Thomas and Tiffany Wink's wedding reception.  Thomas was baptized about a year ago and Tiffany grew up in Utah and served a mission.  She was the first one who talked to me on my first Sunday in the YSA when I took off my name tag and pretended to be a visitor (it was part of the other sisters' Relief Society lesson).  They looked so completely happy!  It was wonderful to be able to see them!!!  The Craigs were there and the YSA Elders too.  We only had permission to go if we didn't stay too long and if we talked to Thomas's non-member family... which you don't have to tell a missionary twice to do that!  I was even able to give a card to  the boyfriend of a girl in the YSA who was asking about missionaries.  The reception had a Tangled theme with lanterns and suns all over.  It was pretty cute!  They were married about two weeks ago in Utah... I think it was in the Bountiful Temple.  Sister Hale's boyfriend, Mitchell, knew them from when he served in this YSA so he was able to go to their wedding!!!  There were actually four past Jacksonville mission missionaries there AND the parents of Elder Tuft, one of the missionaries who taught Thomas.  So it was pretty much a mission reunion/wedding. ;) 

Well, transfers are going to be an adventure!  I'm not one who likes change so I really appreciated the following quote Dad sent: "You're going to change tremendously and the world around you is going to change.  The purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to change you so that you're not trying to resist change.  You're trying to have change take you where the Lord wants you to go." -President Henry B. Eyring BYU-I Devotional Sep. 2001

I know that is true!  It was soooooooooooooooo good to call home for Mother's day! 
I love ya'll and miss you!!!!
Love, Sister Murray

Happy 6 month anniversary!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Work on the Beach

Sidewalk Chalk at St. Augustine
St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the continental United States. It was founded in 1565.  This is a street with a ton of old buildings and shops. If you want to buy a gator head, this is the place to go! Apparently, the YSA Elders go tracting down here.
The oldest wood school house in the US
The cement walls and sidewalks and even some of the buildings are made out of this rock with shells. It is called coquina. There is a fort completely made of it but we weren't able to see it. This stone makes good material for forts because cannon balls would sink into it rather than shatter or puncture it.
I FED ALLIGATORS TODAY!!! It was like feeding ducks on steroids. So So So Cool! AND THEY GROWL! This is at an alligator farm.
One day Sister Hale and I got ready and discovered we were united and matching
I spent most of today in St. Augustine so I don't have too much time to write, but it was a really good week.  On Monday before FHE we had a great lesson with two new investigators: Kendall and Nhat.  It went really well!

We spent some time tracting this week on the walkway by the beach which was so great!  We found a girl who is deaf!!!  Sister Hale was able to tell her a bit about what we were doing and gave her a card.  She and her fiancee were super nice!  Then we met a guy named Majin.  He is in the navy and was just hanging out enjoying the sun.  He had heard of the Book of Mormon broadway show but not much about the real book.  He was really interested and we are looking forward to meeting with him again!

Saturday night we were able to watch to cultural celebration for the Ft. Lauderdale temple dedication.  It was fun, but a bit more cheesy than we were expecting.  The ending was really great though--showing pictures of Florida families who had been sealed in various temples.  Then the sheet the pictures were shown on was pulled down and a huge picture of Christ was shown.  It was also fun to hear a bit about the history of the area.  President Uchtdorf talked about being a sunshine (sunshine state) for others and elevating those around you (even though the temple ground is only 20 ft above sea level).  

Sunday morning the AP's taught a Sunday School lesson for investigators.  We went to the 3:00 temple dedication.  It was AMAZING to be in the church building which became an extension of the temple for the dedication.  I miss being in the temple, and it was so uplifting!  The talks were really good!  Funny side note: President Uchtdorf said it's ok to have naps in church!!!  He said it is a way of finding peace and it is healthy!  Haha!!!!  I NEVER though I would hear a general authority talk about sleeping in church!

We had a chocolate chip waffle dinner at the Caruso's before going to church for the CES broadcast.  The broadcast was amazing!!!!  Elder Ballard was loving but so SO bold!  He said so many things that really needed to be said straight out.  LOVE IT!!!

Well off to another exciting week!  I can't believe transfers are next week already!!!  It's gone too fast!

Have a Blessed Day!
Love, Sister Murray