Monday, January 26, 2015

Bring on the Baptisms!

 First off I need to mention the most elect man ever that we taught last week!  His name is Manny and he is from Zulu, Africa. He was reassigned from the Atlantic Beach sisters to our iPad.  We met him at his work office.  He had been too busy to meet in December but was able to adjust his schedule for 2015 to put two hours in each Saturday to meet with us.  He had found the Book of Mormon online, downloaded it, and read the entire thing in the three weeks before meeting with us!  He took notes while we taught-seriously!!! He had so many great questions and he would restate what we had said to make sure he understood.  All my mission I thought I had been really bad at teaching the apostasy because no one ever seems to get it.  I finally realized that 99% of the people we teach just have a mental block that there could really be only one church that is Jesus Christ's because Manny got it!!!  We had a member with us who bore her testimony beautifully!  It was amazing!!!  How did I forget to mention him last week?  Well... we found out he lives in the Ft. Caroline ward so we ended up reassigning him again to those sisters.  We are so excited for him and he is going to be baptized on February 21st! 

Wednesday morning we taught Marcus, a man we met last week.  He moved into the apartment where a potential gator used to live.  We finished teaching him the restoration and invited him to be baptized on February 28th!!!  He said yes!!!  After Elder Anderson said we should pray every day to find someone to invite to baptism we decided we would do our very best to invite someone to baptism every day this transfer and we've done pretty well so far!!  Miracles are going to happen!  We were also able to teach Karen that night with Summer.  We talked about missionary work.  She is already telling people about what she's learning! 
Thursday was Dunn Ave's district meeting and after that we had lunch/meeting with Sister Thomas the RS President.  We are working on setting up a list to have two sisters in the ward come out with us each week.  We handed it out this Sunday so we will see how it goes!  Hardly anyone will sign up to come out with us so we assigned them!  That evening we met with Pete.  We decided to start going over all the lessons again so we began going over the Restoration!  We were also able to meet with Veronica that night.  I love seeing the recent converts get stronger in their testimonies and to see how they learn to fit the gospel into their every day lives!
Friday we were able to teach Bridget again.  We read the Book of Mormon with her.  She is heading out of town to see her family for her son's first birthday so we won't be seeing her this week.  We had dinner with the Thompson family that evening.  They recently moved here and are from Texas.  They are the cutest family!  Love them!  We made a stop by Sam and Marina's that night also.  Sam told us he enjoys our visits, but he will never be able to leave his church.  It was sad, but they are going to keep reading the Book of Mormon so we will stop by soon and see how things are going.  Marina is more open than we thought at first.  We realized she gets the story more from the Book of Mormon so we invited her to read it looking for Jesus Christ.  We're praying that they will accept the gospel even if now is not the time. 
Saturday evening we had an appointment fall through so we decided to try the neighbor who was a potential gator.  Her record said she was a teenager named De'ajua.  So we knocked on the door and a grandmotherly woman answers.  We asked for De'ajua and she says, "oh Deondra?"  We figure sure! We'll take Deondra!  Deondra comes out and she is just the cutest thing!  She is a Junior in High School and she was so enthusiastic she was practically bursting!  She is going to read the Book of Mormon and she accepted the invitation to baptism!  We are so excited to work with her!  The Bishop's daughter who is a senior, is coming with us to her next lesson Tuesday!
Sunday was great!  Karen came to church as well as two former investigators: Damean and Jackie!  We had a lovely dinner with Sister Manning and we were able to teach Thelma about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Thelma is one of the most solid recent converts I've ever met and she is just so loveable!  She told us yesterday she has adopted us all as her grandchildren!  Haha!  LOVE HER!
I was also able to teach an online lesson also to the man in Togo, Adebardinho!  We have just been able to message back and forth whenever we are on so it's been scattered.  We had a set time when we would both be on on Sunday but he had bad internet connection so it didn't work out too well.  I am excited to keep teaching him though to see if we can get the missionaries there over to him! 
ALSO!!! This week Aileen's father, Jorge, was baptized!!!  I am so grateful for Aileen's great example and for the choices Jorge is making!  The gospel truly does bless families and it is blessing the Simon's family!

Love    ya’ll
شقيقة موراي
(Sister Murray)

PS  Guess what!  This past week there was a change in some of the mission leadership assignments.  In the past District leaders called everyone in their districts Sunday night to get their weekly numbers.  Then they called Monday mornings to talk about goals.  NOW... STL's call the sisters for both of those!  It's more responsibility which is good, but it's going to take a couple shots to get better at it! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Another Blessed Week!

Arabic Book of Mormon

This week's focus was on finding new investigators!  We had a competition in the zone between Elders and Sisters.  It was close all week, but the Elders ended up coming out on top.  It was really fun to get a bit of competitive spirit to push us to find even more!

After Family Home Evening at the church we went to try to  see a potential named Bridgett.  She was busy when Sister Kloepfer and I knocked on her door, but this time she let us right in and we taught her the restoration!  She has an adorable one year old son!  She is going to pray to set a baptism date!!!  We drove home quickly for the new zone conference call Sister McCook initiated every Monday night at 9:30 called "Monday night Miracles."  We have each companionship share a miracle and it's been a lot of fun!
Tuesday we went to the Ft. Caroline District meeting, and in the afternoon we had the Relief Society President, Sister Thomas, come out with us to a lesson with a former investigator named Barbara.  Barbara is very sweet, but very Catholic and it seems she just wants to know what we want to believe--she doesn't really want to act on anything we teach.  So unless something changes before we see her again we probably won't continue to teach her.  However, it was wonderful to have Sister Thomas come out with us!  Getting members, and especially the ward council involved, is always the best!  That night we also had Sister Pennington come with us to teach Karen about tithing.  Tithing is going to take a lot of faith for Karen at this time.  It will be hard, but I truly admire her willingness to trust in the Lord.
Wednesday... oh Wednesday was AMAZING!!!  The Dunn Ave Sisters met us at the church and we drove over to Lake City (about 60 miles west of us).  There we had a meeting with Elder Neil L. Andersen, quorum of the 12 apostles!  Wow he was spectacular!  We were all able to shake his hand, and I don't think I could sum up everything in just one email, but I'll include a few of the points that stood out to me:
     -He told us 600 is an attainable baptism goal.  It is going to take faith--more faith than we had this year, 
           but with that faith I give you my promise that we can all be together to celebrate next year at this time.
     -He said if he were a missionary he wouldn't want to plan on going a transfer without a baptism.  He said 
          we must think about it every day.  Declare it every day.  And pray each day to find someone who  
          can be baptized. 
     -"There is no better place to see miracles than on a mission."
     -"Faith is a spiritual power to see things that should happen happen.
     -"Faith is the power of the Lord in our lives." 
     -"We'll sleep when we're dead!"
     -"I have to pick up the Book of Mormon each day.  I have to renew the courage."
     -"Faith is not a mortal quality, it is a quality of heaven."
     -"If you don't know what to say, you speak of Christ, you speak of the Restoration... take comfort in   
              knowing your testimony is recorded in the heavens."
     -Don't be afraid to share what you know about Jesus Christ.  We are members of his restored gospel  
             and we know more than others think they do.  "There is no one who knows about the Savior and 
             his atonement like you do.  They don't know what you do."
Sister Andersen was raised in Florida and said:
     -"he does not cease to be a God of miracles, and he invites us to be a part of them." 1Nephi 17:17, 51
     -"This is God's work, and the people who are here are unbelievably good... what an advantage to be 
            able to serve your mission in an area where people still believe in Christ."

Directly after the meeting we began what we termed a "golden trade off!" We did a two day trade off with the Atlantic Beach sisters!  We had a blast! And we did some good work while at it ;)
Mom--you'll be proud of me!  I drove all the way back from Lake City without crashing... I just missed a couple exits ;)
Sister Blatter came to the Arlington area with me.  We were going out to contact some potential investigators and I had the thought to go see Sam.  Well he lives all the way across the area and we had just used a ton of miles on the trip so I decided we would just put him in the plans tomorrow. Well sometimes Heavenly Father helps us follow the spirit.  I put in the next potential and it totally wasn't in the area we planned to work in!  It was out by Sam.  So as long as we were there I thanked Heavenly Father for getting me out there and we stopped by Sam's.  He was home!!!  Granted he was just heading out, but we were able to set a return appointment!  Then we got to stop by Angel's and teach him a lesson.  We've had a hard time getting in touch with both of those families so that was a tender mercy.
Thursday morning we had district meeting in Dunn Ave. Sister Blatter and I presented a plan to the district to help us find new investigators.  Elder Cordon (one of the Assistants) was visiting the district and he told me Aileen's father is getting baptized this Saturday!!!  Aileen is such a wonderful example to her family! 
That afternoon we got to see Thelma!!! I love Thelma!  We taught the Plan of Salvation for a review and were able to go more in depth on a few points that she had questions on.  I haven't really taught new member lessons until I got to this area so I'm loving it!  I also got a new online investigator!  Yea!  My online gators keep disappearing or unfriending me so hopefully this one will go well!  He lives in Togo a little country by Ghana!  I was really hoping he lived in Wyatt's mission, but it doesn't look like it is. Sorry cuz!  
Then we got to go to dinner with the Commanders so we went over the bridge again to Dunn Ave.  The Commanders are so fun!  We had ward coordination after that and the Elders were on a trade off too so that was a bit different, but good.
Right after studies on Friday we swapped companions back and began our weekly planning session!  That night we went to see Sam!  We had another miracle when the Ft. Caroline Sisters had an Arabic Book of Mormon in their car for us to use!  We had Veronica come with us and we taught the Restoration to Sam and his wife Marina.  Marina doesn't speak English very well, but I think Sam's English is even better than last year.  At the end of the lesson Sam said he felt good about it and both were looking forward to reading.  Marina even let us try some Arabic food!  Cabbage wraps with rice and beef inside and naan.  Mmm... so yummy!!!
Saturday we had another great Volleyball game at the church and some less active members came!  That night we were visiting some potentials when the fire alarm went off in a neighboring building.  It was really loud and these two teenage boys came out to get away from the sound.  We were able to teach them the whole restoration with the fire alarm blaring in the background.  They are pretty great! Then we went and saw Sister Ford!  She is a little spit fire and we have so much fun teaching her!
Before church Sunday we attended PEC then Sam came for a church tour.  He was able to stay for sacrament meeting and he enjoyed it.  He has some questions about Joseph Smith, but that's not bad.  Elder Payne was pretty sure it would be his last Sunday in the ward so he volunteered for a musical number.  He sang and I was able to accompany him.  It came together really well. 
Monday was really busy.  We did service cleaning mold off the walls for an elderly sister in the ward.  I never want to live somewhere moldy. The smell of bleach makes my nose burn all day, but it was good to serve her!  We took Grandma Williams with us to see a man Sister Blatter and I met, but he wasn't home.  However we began teaching his son and his son's friend.  Guess who the friend was!  The Quick's nephew!  The Quicks were that super elect family that dropped us.  His name is Thomas and he seems really interested now! 
We had lunch with Sister Williams afterwards and then we were able to visit some less actives before going to family home evening.  We were also able to go read the Book of Mormon with Karen.  She is doing well, but just really needs a lot of peace at this time.
Then it was time for the transfer call!  I am so grateful Sister McCook and I are both staying!!!  I love the Arlington ward and Sister McCook is great!  I am learning so much from her!  I am stoked for the upcoming transfer!!! 
Have the best week ever!
Love y'all!!
Sister Murray

Monday, January 12, 2015

Snow in Florida

Meet Sister McCook!  No we did not plan to match

Service with Grandma Williams
Pete's costume
    Funny story: So this week everyone started freaking out because it started snowing downtown.  I saw a video on Facebook and it might have been snow... but it was the wimpiest flakes ever if it was!  Haha!  Yesterday it was raining this weird mist that totally would have turned into snow if it had been cold enough... but no go there.  And that's ok with me!  I like the warmth!
    Monday after Pday we were able to have dinner with Sister Fresh and Sister Giffen (sisters).  That's always a blast!  Then we had fhe at the church!  Not many people came, but we had a good time.
Tuesday morning our Elders went to Justin and Sheri Williams to pick up some rakes for service.  However they just drove around the block and went back to their home!  Brother Williams hurt his knee and we wanted to rake their yard for them.  We came with the Ft. Caroline sisters to help.  We called Grandma Williams to ask to borrow a rake and when we told her what we were doing she said she would help too!  I don't think I've ever done service with an 80 year old sister before!  And when she pulled out the leaf blower... man!  It was a memory to never be forgotten!  We had so much fun and ended up with 31 bags of leaves for the garbage men to pick up!  Grandma Williams had the sisters over for lunch and her special healthy smoothies after that.  Then we went to Thelma's and watched Joy to the World.  We gave it to her for Christmas and she wanted to save it to watch with us.
    We started our trade off with the Jax Beach sisters that day too!  I went to their area with Sister Pasko and Sister Aure came to Arlington with Sister McCook.  It was a great trade off!  We had a lot of fun serving together!  We also were able to have dinner with the stake President, President Spackman.  I think it was the most high class dinner I've had on my mission.  We ate on the balcony of their penthouse looking out over the dock.  It was pretty fun!
    We traded back companions Wednesday.  That evening we got a call from Pete asking us to let him into the church.  He said his friend, Mr. Bowers, had a nativity he wanted to donate to the church so he needed help carrying it in.  We got there and sure enough there was a beautiful nativity in a big plexi glass box that was about 4 feet long and 3 feet high.  We had no idea where we were going to put it.  Mr. Bowers is not a member and we have been doing service for him for some time.  he always wants to pay us but we won't accept it so he said this was his way to repay us.  We ended up putting the nativity on a table outside Bishop's office. Guess we'll see where it ends up getting stored!  Then if that wasn't strange enough Mr. Bowers got a phone call and said to Pete, "Grab your gun! Someone's breaking into the house!!!"  Ok, we shouldn't have been laughing, but it was just the most bizarre situation!  It was like a weird dream where you have no idea what's going on!  Carry a huge nativity into the church, then grab yer' gun!  Yah... it was funny!  And it all turned out all right!
    Thursday was FULL of meetings!  Which is great because I love meetings.  Weird, huh?  At 8:00 we had a meeting with the Zone Leaders and the District Leaders, Elder Purcell and Elder Young, to talk about how things were going in their districts.  Then at 9 Zone Meeting started.  I gave a training on the Book of Mormon.  We need to have personal revelatory experiences each day in the Book of Mormon so we can strengthen our testimony and then share that with others.  Especially with The Book of Mormon Broadway play coming to Jacksonville we'll need to be sure in our knowledge.  Oh, did I mention President and Sister Craig came to Zone Meeting?  It's always great to have them, but it sure seems like they show up whenever I'm giving a training or musical number or something!  Haha.  Well, right after the meeting Sister Craig had a meeting with the Sisters in our zone.  She asked us to give a 10 minute thought at the beginning.  We talked about the value of sisters and the gifts we have to offer as missionaries using President Uchtdorf's talk "Living the Gospel Joyful."  It turned out really good.  We didn't get to hear all of Sister Craig's talk because we had to run to a meeting with President Spackman and the other missionary leaders in our stake.
    That afternoon we received a media referral on our phone!  Oh happy day!  It was for a man named Antonio Floyd who wanted a Bible.  Well we ordered a Bible, but some other missionaries swiped it.. so we got one from the Elders.  We were able to go see Antonio that night!  He invited us right in where we met his sister, Nygia and her five children: Chris (12), DaShawna (10), David (8), Yatta (5), and Zion--no joke!--(4).  Antonio's mother was there too, but wasn't as involved. WOW this family is golden!!!  I am so excited to teach them more!  We taught the Restoration that night and set a baptism date for Antonio, Nygia, Chris, DaShawna, and David for FEBRUARY 14th!!!! Happiest Valentine’s day ever!
    Friday was pretty normal... weekly planning (one of my favorites!) and Ward Correlation.  We did have dinner with Pete that night at Luca's, and Italian restaurant.  When we got there Sister Weber was waiting out front for Pete then this giant football mascot walks out.  Of course, it was Pete.  So funny!
    Saturday we had some awesome finding time and we got some people to come play volleyball at the church for fellowshipping.
    Sunday was ward conference.  It was a great meeting!!!  Mr. Bowers came for sacrament meeting!  After the meeting we had ward Council with some of the stake leaders.  I've seen President Spackman more this week than I usually do in a month!  Right after that we went to dinner with the Dains family.  Then we took Bryson and Summer Dains to the Floyd's.  We were able to read the Book of Mormon with them and Nygia couldn't put it down!  After that lesson we picked up Veronica, a recent convert, and taught Karen the Word of Wisdom.  It went so well!  Her biggest struggle will be coffee.  Veronica's testimony added so much!  We know how hard it will be for Karen to give up coffee so an hour later that night we picked up some hot chocolate from our apartment and doorbell ditched it at Karen's.  She sent us a text that night thanking us and telling us she was going to be able to do it!
    I am so grateful for all of the miracles I am seeing in Arlington!  I know there are many more to come and I am excited for the work ahead!
I love all y'all!!
Sister Murray

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!
Liahona in Atlantic Beach
M&M Sisters    Murray and McCook

Elder Searle cutting his hair with the flo-be. It attaches to the end
of your vacuum!

Monday I got my new companion: Sister McCook!  It's been fun getting to know her this past week. She is very sweet and quite proper. We've had a lot of fun and we've been working hard. She is so excited to be a Sister Training Leader and she has so many wonderful ideas for the zone!!!
Monday night Veronica took us to dinner.  Veronica was baptized last year and she is doing so great! 
Tuesday we had district meeting in Dunn Ave.
Wednesday we had MLC. It was as amazing as ever!  On Sunday we had a special Leadership fast to be able to set goals for the upcoming year. We set standards of excellence for what should be achieved in the key indicators.  We are doing it different this year where each quarter we will look at what we are achieving and adjust the goals accordingly.  Our mission baptismal total for 2014 was 438.  Sister Kloepfer and I had talked with Elder Payne and Elder Searle on Sunday and we felt 600 was a good goal for 2015.  In MLC missionaries made suggestions and we voted between 550, 600, 650.  Votes were all over so President told us each to say a personal prayer before voting again.  After a couple minutes we voted again and every hand went up on 600.  So our goal for 2015 is 600!!! It was a great way to spend the last day of 2014.
That night we were able to teach Miracle and her family.  Her mother told us to make sure we got in because everyone here can shoot guns towards the ground at midnight.  Apparently "They supposed to go bam, bam, bam, but they be goin' bam, bam, bam, bam!!!"  We've been laughing about that all week.  But don't worry we slept through all the festivities!!!

Thursday we were able to do some service for Veronica.  I sewed some of her clothes that had holes in them and we talked about scripture study.  It was pretty fun :)  We had dinner with the Webers that night.  I love seeing how much they have grown in the past year!!!
Friday we went through weekly planning with a lunch break for lunch at the Penningtons with the Elders.  We had fried turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, and apple dumplings.  yum!   Then we started our trade off with the Atlantic Beach Sisters.  I went to their area with Sister Blatter (pronounced Blotter) and Sister Spendlove came to Arlington.  We had a good time! 
Saturday we finished up the trade off and Sister McCook and I were able to find a family!  They were former investigators and we are going to see if they will progress now.  The mother's name is Tanya and she has three children. 
Sunday so many people turned out for church!  It must have been the 11:00 time change.  It was wonderful!!!  That evening we had dinner with the Weber's again!  Love them!!!  We taught Jake Rutland and his mom, Sister Chun, about missionary work. We really want to work with members a ton!  Then we had a lesson with Thelma, recent convert.  It was a great night.
It was a great week and it is going to be an amazing year!!!
Happy 2015!!!
Sister Murray