Monday, November 24, 2014

November Find a Family Month

Trade off with Sister Spendlove in Atlantic Beach
New card.

Our Christmas Tree!

Part of what I ate on my trade off with Sister Egbert in Dunn Ave at a Chinese Buffett. (Octopus)

The wedding announcement of the couple from the YSA that Sister Fife and I totally called would get together! Marissa is Pete Weber's step daughter. I love these two and am so excited for them!
My name tag in Arabic
We usually have some catchy theme for the month's focus.  This month President decided to call November Find a Family Month... which is not catchy at all, but that's what it is!

It was a crazy busy week!  Monday we had that big storm with the tornado warning (don’t worry we are all safe--no tornados here).  Right after p day we had a trade off with the Sister Coordinators (our leaders).  We were surprised when they said I was staying in the area with Sister Blotter, who is from Michigan.  Usually the companion that has been in the area longer stays.  We had a dinner appointment with the Browns.  Their power was still out and so Brother Brown had pulled out his Coleman stove and made chicken and dumplings over an open flame (which Sister Brown was not thrilled about having in her living room...).  He tried to make biscuits but they were pretty doughy.  So part way in to dinner the generator blew out and the lamp went out.  We were left eating by candle light and Brother Brown went to fix the generator.  Apparently last time that happened he lit himself on fire so Sister Brown was telling him to be careful the whole time as we ate in the dark.  It was a hilarous situation!  Dinner with the Browns is never dull!

Tuesday morning was Ft. Caroline's district meeting.  Sister Kloepfer and I were supposed to present a training from Elder Soares's MLC, but seeing how she wasn’t there I got to do it alone.  I wasn’t as prepared as I would have hoped mostly because we assumed Sister Kloepfer would be staying in the area.  So with some last minute planning and alot of inspiration it all came together.  The Zone Leaders were not going to be at the meeting either because they were going to inspect apartments with Elder Schmidt.  THEN who shows up but President and Sister Craig.  Gratefully the Zone Leaders gave me a heads up that they were coming.  My training went well and I had a lot of fun giving it.  I love teaching!  President Craig gave me some very nice compliments afterward.

After the meeting President pulled out the new cards!  They are absolutely beautiful!  The church has a Christmas online event coming up.  You can go to to see the new video they have put out.  AND the back of the card says' "Discover the Gift. Embrace the Gift. Share the Gift."  Sound familiar?  They either saw our Discover the Book event last spring or two people got the same inspiration this year!  We are so excited to get on this event!

Wednesday we went to Dunn Ave for our district meeting.  It was really great!  Elder Payne gave the training I had given the previous day.  It was fun to see how he presented the information and what he focused on.  Right after the meeting we traded companions with the Dunn Ave Sisters.  I stayed in Dunn Ave with Sister Egbert.  Sister Egbert is from Utah, but her mom is from North Caroline and Sister Egbert has the cutest Southern accent from her!  We had a good day visiting some investigators and less active members

Meanwhile, back in Arlington, Sister Kloepfer and Sister Morrill were going to see a struggling member.  Sister Kloepfer got distracted by some pretty Christmas decorations and didn't realize she hadn't followed the gps all the way.  They walked up to the door of a house that looked a lot like the members but as she knocked on the door she realized it was the wrong one!  A man answered the door and laughing at the situation. Sister Kloepfer explained who they were.  The man invited them in where their family was sitting around the dinner table.  They all gathered in the living room and the sisters taught the restoration.  Their last name is Quick and they are so prepared for the gospel! 

Thursday we traded back companions and Sister Kloepfer and I went to clean for Sister Beverly.  It is the sadest thing to see the state she lives in. She can hardly clean for herself and so her apartment becomes a mess really quickly.  

That night we also went and had a lesson with Angel and his family.  Then we noticed the lights on at Sam's apartment so we stopped by.  Sam wasn’t home, but his wife, Marina and their 2 year old daughter were.  She was so sweet and invited us in.  There is still some language barrier but her English is getting a lot better.  She told us about the village she comes from in Syria.  It is mentioned in the Bible 3 times and Jesus Christ himself taught there.  It makes me sad that even desendants of those taught direcctly by Christ have lost truth over the years.  We showed her the Bible video of Jesus being baptized.  She loved it and told us about seeing the River Jordan.  It was a really neat experience.  She showed us her Arabic Bible and translated our name tags into Arabic the best she could.  I love knowing that Dad served part of his mission in Lebanon and even learned some of this beautiful, old language.

Speaking of the Bible!  Today is International Bible day!  Go on Facebook and post something you love about the Bible and include the hashtag #BibleCelebration.

Friday we finished up weekly planning before going on yet another trade off with the Atlaantic Beach Sisters.  I went to their area with Sister Spendlove.  It was a good trade off and we were able to have some really good conversations about the work.  We had a great golden hour tracting where we taught two lessons, got a new investigator, and set three return appointments! 

Saturday at noon we had a service project. An Elderly man donated his home for missionaries to live in so we were cleaning and fixing it up.  It was really fun!  We traded back companions there and then Sister Kloepfer and I drove back to Dunn Ave for interviews with President Craig.  Sister Craig and Sister Winter (our new mission nurse) and Elder Winter (he works with cars and iPads) gave trainings and President tapped us out one at a time to meet with him.  I just love the Craigs so much!  

Right after the meeting Sister Kloepfer was able to see one of  her recent converts who was in the building to baptize a little girl.  Another amazing thing that happened Saturday is that Kristen was baptized!!!!!  Remember the twins I taught in the YSA?  The Assistants have been working with her and she was baptized on Saturday.  I am so excited for her!

Saturday night we held a church tour with the Elders.  We invited investigators, recent converts, and less active members.  The Elders recent convert, Lee, and the Quick family came.  Brother Dains and his boys were at the church playing basketball so they joined in and bore powerful testimony.  It was an amazing experience.

Sunday we waited anxiously for the Quicks to come to church, but they didn't show up.  Angel and his mother did though!  We had lunch with the Dains family, studied, went to choir practice, and then went to visiting people.  We stopped by the Quick home to see what happened.  Sister Quick told us she had a lot of concerns about the restoration and she needed some time on her own to read the Book of Mormon.  It was so hard to hear they didn't want to learn more at this time. It was especially hard for Sister Kloepfer who found them and felt she had such a great connection with them.  We ended up going back to the Dains so Sister Kloepfer could get a blessing.  It was a rough week.  Between two Sundays we dropped two families we knew could be baptized.  We just have to remember God has great things in store!

Thank you to everyone who has been sharing with me how they see the Lord's hand in their lives!  It's been fun to hear your testimonies!  I have definitely seen the Lord's hand in my life over the past year.  I know that this work cannot happen without him. I know the enabling power of the Atonement is real--I have experienced it more this year than ever before.  I am grateful for every person who has been placed in my life--both at home and those in Florida.  I know His hand is in my life because I feel as though each area I have served in has been just for me.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Happy Year Mark!

 One year Celebration!
In the South-sale on turkey fryers!

First off: Congratulations to my mission mamma, Sister Hale!  She and Mitchell Calder are officially engaged!  You two are just "a-door-bell!"  Love yeeee!

Second: You asked to hear more about Sister Kloepfer:
She has been out 9 months! This is only her second area.  She was in Timiquana before.  She has an older sister, a younger sister, and two little brothers.  she loves chocolate, pumpkin cake, stir fry...  She worked road construction two summers before she came out and her biggest pet peeve is when people call concrete cement.  (Apparently cement is an ingredient in concrete.  Guess I should have hung out with you at work more Dad!)  She will reach the ripe old age of 20 on December 3rd!  We were talking about the age change one day and before thinking about it she said, "I won't even be as old as you are now when I go home from my mission!"  Thanks Sister. ;)  I love her diligence and hard work.  She really puts her heart into the work as she serves.  I am already learning a lot from being with her. She likes to sing, she loves her family, she LOVES holidays, and she loves Scotty McCreery. 

It was a good week!  I saw my first live possum!  It was so cute!

Tuesday we went to Jax Beach's district meeting. We tracted Hoover street.  Back story on Hoover street:

Once upon a time there was a girl named Alyson.  She thought it would be fun to put a toy basketball hoop with a suction cup to her forehead.  It was fun, until she took it off and was left with red mark on her forehead for a week.  Gratefully her kind mother let her use some make up to cover it up.

In another village another girl named future Sister Kleopfer saw a vacuum and wondered what would happen if she turned it on and put the hose to her forehead.  She soon also found herself with a red welt on her forehead and borrowed her mother's foundation.

Years down the road these two girls became companions in the Arlington ward.  Realizing they both had such similar experiences they determined they must be called The Hoover Sisters!  When they were busy at work one day they noticed a street called Hoover Street! (no joke)  And went to work tracting it! Anyway...  that night we also visited a 9 year old boy named Angel.  His mother is a convert and married a non member.  Angel has never been baptized, but now he is ready and excited to make these covenants with his Heavenly Father.  He will be baptized December 6th!

Wednesday we went to the Dunn Ave District meeting then drove straight to Jax Beach for our second trade off.  I had my first trade off in our area. Sister Hendricks came here and Sister Kloepfer went to Jax Beach with Sister Hutchins. We had a busy and fun trade off. Sister Hendricks went to Murray High School so that was a fun connection.  We had a member pick us up for dinner and we had Correlation with our mission leader. Sister Hendricks had some great comments in the meeting even though she isn't in the ward!

Thursday was my year mark of the day I entered the MTC. We traded back companions the by meeting at Rita's for some Italian ice to celebrate (and because who doesn't like Rita's?) My favorite! I had gingerbread ice with vanilla custard! Can you say heavenly? Some days you just have to forget you are trying to eat healthier!

Friday we had lunch with Sister Pennington and helped her prepare decorations for the Relief Society Christmas Dinner.  I am going to be playing flute at the dinner so that will be really fun! 

Saturday we visited some people and ran around getting members to participate in the latest Facebook challenge: Thankful to be a Mormon.  We asked members to create a 1 minute video to introduce themselves and to share what they are thankful for.  It is the same idea as the ALS ice bucket challenge where those members then challenge 3-5 friends to either make a video or donate cans of food to a food pantry.

We had stake conference that night in the Hendricks building.  It was a really good meeting--all about hastening the work of salvation.  President Spackman, the Stake President, talked about the difference in being friendly and being a friend.  The latter takes more sacrifice, is more meaningful, and opens doors to share the gospel.  Sister Craig talked about preparing both sons and daughters for missions by teaching them how to: be independent, set and achieve goals, to know they are loved by their Heavenly Father, deal with stress, and to know that life is supposed to be hard.  The Craigs were at a mission president conference most of the week and just flew in that evening!  I was able to see a lot of my YSA's at the conference which was so good!   I love them all so much!

Sunday we planned on several investigators coming to church.  We were disappointed when no one answered their phones.  We went to their houses and no one answered their doors either.  We haven't heard back from Trina McDonald again, and we have had a hard time teaching Amisty and her mother.  We may have to drop them.  That makes me sad, but I know we cant keep trying them if they aren't willing to act.  We were passing out programs when Karen walked in!  She told us she purposely didn't answer her phone just to scare us!  Isn't that awful?  She wanted to get us back because the last time we visited her we knocked on her door and hid to the side so she couldn't see us.  Oh my goodness that last visit was a fun one!  I think she might have been drinking before we got there because she was REALLY happy.  In the I was sitting by her on the couch and when she got to the end of the closing prayer she couldn't remember how to end so she just started laughing and fell over into my lap!  

This session of stake conference was really great too!  One speaker talked about how he ran away from home at age 16.  He had his Bible with him and inside the cover it said' "This book will keep you away from sin, or sin will keep you away from this book."  The Allens, of the temple presidency, spoke about the importance of the temple and temple work.  Satan tries to discredit and distract us from the work of the temple.  Hearing them just increased my determination to attend the temple regularly again in 6 months!  President Craig spoke and told everyone they need to meet their neighbors!   Elder Searle, who is in the Arlington ward, got to speak.  Lucky him!  He did a great job! President Spackman told us that if we want a temple in Jacksonville we not only need too pray for it, but we need to work for it.  We need to increase our family history, or temple attendance, and our missionary work.  This stake has a goal to have every temple name done be a family file. I cannot wait for there to be a temple here!

Reflecting on all that has happened in the past year has really been humbling.  A year ago I honestly didn't  think I would survive long enough to have two Christmases in Florida.  I understand more now what Ammon meant when he said, 

"I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God."  Alma 26:11

I know the Atonement is real.  I've felt its power so many times.  I also have felt the power of prayers from you and from people all around the world.  I am so grateful for those prayers!

Many mighty miracles have happened in the last year and I know there are going to be many more to come in the next six months, and for the rest of my life.  When we serve with our heart, might, mind, and strength we can "expect mighty miracles all day every day."

Thank you all for your support over the past year!  Love y'all!
Sister Murray

PS- So there was a tornado warning and a really bad thunder storm and now the power is out.. so if you get this a day late that is why!