God is a God of Miracles

 

 

Life is a funny thing. Some days, you are rocking it and loving life. The sun is shining and you just want to shout for joy because you’re so happy to be alive! Some days, it rains, and you’re excited because it’s fun to play in the rain and sleeping through a thunderstorm is the best. Other days, the sun is out and it’s hot and you hate it. Or the sky is gloomy from rain and it’s depressing. But a lot of days, are just somewhere in the middle. You’re not sad or upset, but sometimes, you’re not particularly overjoyed about life either.

And sometimes, we view ourselves the same way we view our days. There are days we feel great! We are beautiful people and we matter and make a difference in the world, despite our imperfections. And other days, we feel like a piece of junk. Our weaknesses are incredibly apparent and we feel like we can’t do anything right. But most of the time, we see ourselves as somewhere in the middle. Ordinary human beings, living our lives from day to day.

Sometimes, I can be a perfectionist. I set unreasonable expectations for myself and then when I don’t meet them, it’s easy for me to get discouraged and feel like I’m not measuring up. I have many days where I am completely in love with life and feel ready to face it’s challenges head on. But there are also days where my weaknesses are staring me in the face, and it feels like I may not be good enough to face those challenges. I may not be enough to accomplish the work that God sent me here to do.

The beautiful thing about God’s plan for us is He doesn’t say anywhere that He expects us to be perfect… at least in this life. He knew with such certainty that we would mess up (and mess up a lot) that He provided a Savior, Jesus Christ, to help us overcome our mistakes and repent of our sins. But knowing that we would need that help didn’t change who we are in His eyes one bit.

God is willing to take us as we are and make us something greater. He never said He would only take us as we are when we’re at our best; He’ll take us as we are today. He is capable of helping us and using us, not just when we are at our strongest, but when we are at our weakest (or anywhere in between). Even if you are just feeling okay today, He is capable of performing miracles through you and using you to accomplish His work.

God doesn’t just perform the miracle of calming the tempest, healing the leper, or causing the blind to see. Sometimes, the greatest miracles He performs is His ability to work through imperfect people like you and me.

All throughout the scriptures, we see examples of imperfect people doing His work. Moses had a speech impediment (Exodus 4:10-12). Jonah got scared and ran away from God (Jonah 1:1-3). Paul spent half of his life persecuting the church and killing saints (Acts 8:1-3). In the Book of Mormon, Alma the Younger also persecuted the church and rebelled against his father (Mosiah 27:8-10). Ether neglected his prayers and was chastised for it for three hours (Ether 2:14).

At the end of the Book of Mormon, Moroni is worried that people would mock his words because of his weakness in writing. The Lord’s answer to him – and to all of us when we are feeling weak – is “Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek…if men come unto me, I will show unto them their weakness…and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:26-27).

The Lord doesn’t tell Moroni that he shouldn’t write just because he’s not very good at it. He doesn’t say, “Well, there were prophets before you who were better at writing and their words should be good enough.” No, he tells Moroni that if he humbles himself and turns to the Lord, His weaknesses won’t matter. The Lord will not only help him overcome them, but turn them into strengths.

So maybe you don’t have the greatest patience in the world. Sometimes you get frustrated and have trouble loving those around you. Maybe today, you really just don’t feel like having an attitude of gratitude. Or you’re feeling lazy and unmotivated to leave the house. But if God can part the Red Sea and feed His children with manna, He can definitely help you perform everyday miracles, even when you aren’t having that great of a day. He can give you the strength to smile and say help to that stranger having a rough day or to perform a small act of service for your family, or buy ice cream for a friend who had an even worse day than you. His message over and over to us is it doesn’t matter that you have weaknesses. I can do miracles through you regardless.

God doesn’t measure and view our weaknesses the same way we view our weaknesses. In our eyes, our weaknesses define us and can even destroy us. But in His eyes, they are nothing. Our weaknesses don’t define our character; they are simply something He can help us overcome.

So don’t get down on yourself or discouraged. We all have weaknesses. We are all imperfect. And we all have bad days. But none of those things matter. They don’t define us. Because God is stronger than any of those things.

Because God is a God of miracles.

RM Problem #753 – The News is Depressing (And the Gospel is Not)

It’s been a little under three months since I got home from my mission (um…what). There have been a lot of surprises and hard times as I’ve adjusted to normal life again. One of the things that has been bothering me lately is how this world is just so … sad. As a missionary, I never watched the news and I can’t say I didn’t miss it. Yes, it is important to be informed of big events going on in the world, but … It’s so depressing!

There are a lot of problems in this world. And people are constantly searching for solutions. We look to science. To the media. To governments and world leaders. To social progress. To our friends and peers. Everywhere we can possibly think of, really. And no matter how we try, or what we do, it seems, not matter what our efforts, we cannot change them.

There has never been a time in the history of the world when there was not poverty. There have always been homeless and hungry…and from the way things look now, these issues may very well never go away.

No one is satisfied with governments and politicians … and that’s not a new trend;  no one’s been satisfied for years.

War torn nations don’t go away. There is still violence and fear in far too many places in this world today.

Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are on the rise, especially in young people. Suicide rates have increased.

Families are broken. Divorced and single parents are widespread and a normalcy in our society. Domestic violence and abuse are both disturbingly common.

It seems, the farther time goes, the scarier and worse the world seems. What are we to do? How can we fix these things? In a world as dark and cruel as the one, how can we have hope or happiness? Can we ever overcome these problems?

Yes. The answer is an absolute and resounding yes! And that much became clearer to me as I served my mission.

About two thousand years ago, there lived a man. He was despised and rejected. He was called criminal, hypocrite, and heretic. He visited the outcasts, the lonely, the lost. He loved saints and sinners alike and encouraged them all to be better men and women.

He was the greatest man to ever walk this earth. He was Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. He not only lived a completely sinless, selfless life, but suffered, bled, and died for each one of us. And after three days, He overcame death itself and rose again. I can testify that it’s true. I know He lives! He overcame all of our sorrows, afflictions, sins, and challenges. And because He descended below all things, He has the power to raise us above all things.

I spent a year and a half of my life teaching people this very thing. That He is there to help us, through both the big and the small. He knows the solution to widespread poverty, as well as how to comfort you and me when we are simply having a bad day. He is there to bring peace when we lose a loved one and the grief is overwhelming. To bring hope when we feel we are drowning in despair. To let us know how loved and important we are when we feel worthless or alone.

I saw people change with my own eyes. As they learned about the Savior and trusted Him, despair was replaced with hope. Inner turmoil was turned to peace. Addictions were completely overcome. A newfound joy and light entered their eyes. Miracles happened.

The answer is as simple as that! If we have faith in Jesus Christ and we follow Him, everything will work out. It will all be okay.

And that’s what we celebrate at Easter time. Because two thousand years ago, He created the solution to every one of our problems. If we trust Him and follow Him, we will find peace, no matter what catastrophes wage in the world around us.

If we follow Him, we will be empowered to act and to change the world around us. To make it a better place and come that much closer to solving these problems once and for us.

If we follow Him, He can change us. And we will become something greater than we could ever possibly imagine on our own.

I am so grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ. I have felt His power in my own life; changing me, and helping me to keep going when I knew I could go no further. Bringing me more joy than I could ever imagine or comprehend … making each day feel like it’s truly the best day EVER!

“He is not here: for he is risen” (Matthew 28:6)

A tomb with stone steps leading to an empty burial bed and discarded wrappings. At the entrance the stone has been rolled away to reveal rays of sunlight and a partial view of outside the tomb.

Taking off the Tag: the biggest struggle of my life

So…I came home from my mission almost a month ago now. And it has been a roller coaster, let me just tell you. I don’t think a single day has gone by where I didn’t think, at least for a minute, “wow, the real world kind of just … sucks.” And I know for a fact not a single day has gone by where I didn’t wish I could go back and be a missionary, even for a few hours. I think about my mission every day.

Has it gotten better since I’ve been home? Yes. I am no longer a complete wreck and I don’t just burst into tears for no apparent reason other than … I hate real life. I really like being able to listen to normal music and you can bet I watched Tangled twice in the same day once I got home and loved it. Is it still hard? Oh, absolutely yes. It still breaks my heart when I am introduced to people as “Carlene” rather than “Sister Watson” (I die a little inside every time).

Everyone writes about how to prepare for missions and the best ways to be the best missionary you can possibly be. Everyone tells stories about mission experiences – both good and bad – and does everything they can to help future missionaries prepare. And that’s wonderful and good and I know I was especially grateful to have so many Pinterest boards and blogs to stalk as I prepared for my mission. No one talks about coming home. No one tells you how emotional you get or how many mental breakdowns you have. No one takes you through a nice MTC to help you reorient to the real world. They smile when your homecoming talk is over, want to hear some nice stories from your mission, and then you go on your way and everything is fine and dandy. They tell you how happy they are that you’re with your family again, laugh a little because you feel awkward wearing pants in public for the first week, and then everything goes back to the way it was before your mission, right?

Except it can’t go back to the way it was, nor do I want it to. Everything has changed. There’s a new Costco by my house that still surprises me every time I remember it’s there. I don’t know the names of half my friends on Facebook because they all got married while I was gone (Also, let’s not even talk about how much social media is changed; I still don’t understand the new Instagram updates from like a year ago). My brothers all got taller and older while I was gone (and the youngest one speaks so clearly, it’s nuts) and my sister is like … an adult now. I still know about zero of the songs that play on the radio and I hate approximately 90% of the clothes that are in style right now (which makes shopping incredibly frustrating).

But most importantly, I’ve changed. I’m not the person I was when I left, nor do I want to be. I’ve had a lot of faith building experiences and a lot of life lessons crammed into the last year and a half. I’ve seen a lot of both heartbreaking and joyous things. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and grown from every single one. I’ve learned so much – from dealing with rejection, getting along with someone I have to spend literally 24 hours a day with (ha! Those communication skills are up to par), and knowing when it’s time to stop to make an ice cream run … but also from bearing my testimony almost constantly, watching people change their lives, and seeing miracles on a daily basis.

I don’t ever want things to go back to the way they were … but I’m really not sure where I want them to go right now either.

I could probably dedicate an entire blog post to the whirlwind of emotions I feel coming home from my mission. But that wouldn’t help missionaries returning home from their missions; they all know very well how they feel. What none of us do know … is what to do about it. So I think I’m going to attempt to explain things that have helped me as I’ve struggled to figure out how to fit the person I’ve become into this new lifestyle that once felt so familiar and easy to me.

 

First, it’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to  feel awkward. It’s okay to cry a lot. It’s okay that going to the store by yourself makes you uncomfortable or you don’t know what the speed limit is because you’re used to just going until the tiwi tells you to slow down. It’s okay if your first name makes you cringe a little or you feel naked without a name tag on. Every returned missionary is going to adjust differently. Some want to sit down and marathon the Star Wars movies they missed the day after they’re released, some don’t even want to see Disney movies for two weeks. Whatever you’re struggling with, it’s okay. You just went through an entire lifestyle change and literally everything will throw you off, both big and small. One of my favorite quotes that kind of became my mantra on my mission is “Have patience with all things, but first of all yourself.” You’re not a perfect person and in this life, you never will be.  Things aren’t going to be completely fine and dandy, so be patient with yourself as you get used to things. Things will get better in time, for now, let yourself be okay with not being completely okay.

 

Celebrate the little victories. One of the biggest things I’ve noticed since coming home is sometimes, it’s hard to motivate yourself to want to be happy. I can tell you right now, I have never been happier in my life than I was on my mission. Sure, there were hard days and bad days. And I’m pretty sure there were absolutely zero days that were perfect. But I can tell you that 95% of the time, I could lay my head on my pillow at the end of the day and say, “Wow, I just had the best day EVER!” Because even if you spent four hours in the rain because no one was home and wanted to let you in or just had someone yell rude things to you on the street … you’ll have that one lesson that makes everything better. You’ll see that person who had just prayed to ask God if He even knew them, let alone cared about them … and then you just happened to randomly drop by to tell them that He does know and care about them. You see the light enter their eyes as they feel His love overpower them. You see someone feel the Spirit for the first time and commit right then and there to change their life. You see someone finally pick up the Book of Mormon for the first time and get excited because they liked it and liked the way it made them feel. And any amount of pain, rejection, sorrow, heartache, or homesickness flies away in that moment. Your joy is so full … you forget about the bad. It doesn’t matter anymore, it’s in the past. Nothing can compare to the joy you feel now. You’re having the best day ever.

And then … you come home. And it’s not that you’re sad … when it’s raining, you can curl up inside and take a nap, or dance in it (depending on how you’re feeling). People aren’t rude to you just because you’re wearing a name tag; you’re a normal person again. Homesick? Mom is in the other room, just go give her a hug (or if she isn’t, just pick up the phone and call her right now). The things that got you down are gone … but so are those incomparable joys. You don’t get to just go visit random strangers to tell them that Jesus Christ lives and loves them. I have a job working as a restaurant cashier; while it’s great (and I actually get paid to do this work), it’s not the same. You’re not sad or depressed … but you’re not happy to the same degree either.

I’ve learned to pay attention to the things that do make me smile. I haven’t had a single best day ever since I’ve been home. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t had moments of joy. I’ve felt God’s love for me as I’ve said my personal prayers. I find myself laughing while catching up with an old friend that I haven’t seen for years (because missions). I’ve been able to talk to past companions and mission friends who went home before me and reminisce good times. I’ve been able to draw closer to my family and enjoy little moments with them. Maybe I’m not watching anyone make drastic life changes, but I’m enjoying a lot of the little life moments that I couldn’t while I was on my mission (like reading my younger brothers a bedtime story). There is still joy and goodness to be found in the real world! But just like the joy your found on your mission, it takes practice to recognize it.

 

Focus on the things that haven’t changed. So much about your environment and your day-to-day lifestyle have changed. Focus on the constants and the things you can anchor in when you’re feeling uncertain.  When I was stressed on my mission, my go to solution was to eat ice cream. That still works! The little things you do to relieve stress still help!

When you come home from your mission, your lifestyle changed and the world you knew before your mission has changed. But just because you take your name tag off, doesn’t mean you take off the person you’ve become. When you take the tag off, you are still you. Your testimony is just as strong as your last day in the mission field (and if you’re doing things right, it will only continue to get stronger). My relationship with the Lord didn’t change just because I’m not a missionary. He’s still just as close as ever and He still loves me and wants to help me. I didn’t suddenly lose everything I’d learned about prayer and recognizing the Holy Ghost when I was released. On the contrary, I learned what the Spirit felt like on my mission and now it’s easier for me to recognize answers. And I’m still a missionary; when people around me have questions about what I believe, I know how to answer. I just spent a year and a half teaching people all the basics about Jesus Christ and His Gospel; I can answer a few simple questions.

 

So is being a returned missionary easy? No. But it’s possible and as time goes on, I know I will enjoy it more! Life wasn’t supposed to peak on your mission. It gets better. You do great things and you have more joy than you did even on your mission! And of course I will always look back on my mission fondly … but I know there will come a time when I’m not looking back just because I want to go back, but looking back and being grateful for how it shaped me into who I am today. And until then, as Elder Holland said, “Don’t you quit. You keep walking, you keep trying, there is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon. Some come late. Some don’t come until heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”

I know there are good things to come! I know our loving Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us and He didn’t plan for a single one of us to fail. I know it may be hard now, but I will learn and grow and be better for the things I’m learning, even now, as I struggle through this. Most of all, I know Jesus Christ is my Savior. And through Him, all of my problems are solved, if I just trust Him and trust His timing. And I say that in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Final Thoughts

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Carlene has just days before she will be finished serving a mission.  We are super excited to see her,  I think she has mixed feelings about coming home.  She loves missionary work. I asked her a few reflective questions recently.  Here are her answers.

#1 What will you miss about California?

Being a missionary .

#2 What are you looking forward to when you get to Texas? 

First … Texas. I love Texas. I miss Texas. God Bless Texas. Also, Blue Bell ice cream. And my family. And plastic bags in the grocery store. And being able to throw away as much trash as you want without paying to go to the dump. And Texas flags flying everywhere! And American flags for that matter; this place has no pride in their country (except the State of Jefferson. There’s lots of those flags)! 

#3 What is one treasured experience that you’ve had? 

 

Redding. Seriously, I could probably say Redding and call it good. I LOVE REDDING! But one experience in particular stands out off the top of my head. When I was in Redding, I had been out for probably 5 months and my companion has been out for a month. We were both young and I had no idea what was going on … and I was supposed to teach her how to be a missionary. We had no investigators and I had no idea how to find any.

Just as we are starting to get the hang of tracting and feel like we are close to getting new investigators … we get in a car accident. And it isn’t too serious; no one is hurt and both cars can drive away from the scene. And it’s not our fault so we don’t have to stress about that. But our car wasn’t really safe to drive further than home because the front bumper was gone, so it had to go to the shop. And our mission had a loaner car, but it was in use and the vehicle coordinator had no idea when it would be available – up to two or three weeks. Our area was huge. And had lots of hills. It was impossible to productively bike it … and we lived 15 minutes away from our area. So the other sisters would drop us off in our area every morning, and we decided to do our best to bike. It was freezing outside (this was in January 2016) and I hated the cold … but we did our best. I just remember feeling so discouraged and stressed. Personal study became a pow wow with the Lord to give me the strength to try for just one more day. And just when I thought I knew what rock bottom felt like … we’d sink lower. It wasn’t too bad at first; we didn’t have any investigators anyway. So we’d pray about streets close to the church (we weren’t even going to attempt far from the church), bike to one, and tract it. And when we were done, we’d go to another. All day. The worst part was probably just not knowing when the loaner car would be available, so there was no end in sight. After a few days we looked at the weather … and it started raining. I hit a new rock bottom and I was talking to the Lord during personal study. I was already struggling and I didn’t think I could do it in the rain. I asked why this had to happen. I’d tried so hard not to complain for so long … and now I was just done. I didn’t know what I’d done to deserve this, but I was sick of it. And finally, the Lord said to me, “This rain is not a trial of your faith. I know where your heart is and where your faith lies. This is a test of diligence. This is for you to prove to yourself whether you are willing to sacrifice all things – even health, comfort, and safety (biking on busy roads is scary. Also I was convinced I was going to catch hypothermia and die) – to build the kingdom of God. You have to trust me. I am not punishing or trying you … I promise you the rain is a blessing and I will bless you for being out in it today.” I was doubtful (I didn’t appreciate that part until later on). And so then, the Lord kind of knocked things into perspective for me, just enough for me to get through the day. He continued, “There are souls to save and you’re complaining that you have to endure rain and cold? The pioneers walked across the plains and many froze to death. They got frostbite on their toes. And poor you, you have to bike about two miles and it’s raining. You are blessed with the opportunity to share the Gospel with others. There are people out there who don’t even have the Gospel! Poor you. You can choose to be happy. The rain is unavoidable. It’s not going away, you’re in a drought. But you get to decide what kind of day you’re going to have. Do your part, work hard, study, and you will have the best day EVER! … today is a marvelous opportunity to show your love for your Savior, Jesus Christ. Show that your love for Him is stronger than a little rain or cold. God knows what you need and today, you need cold rain.” I was pumped and ready to go! You know what, people had been praying for rain for months! This was a drought, I should be grateful! And so off we went, to bike in the rain, thrilled for the chance to share our testimonies with … well, we still weren’t sure who. Whoever would listen for a minute. So we biked in the rain for a day or two and I was done letting my circumstances control me! I was in charge of my attitude and I was going to have the best day ever! And then … my bike tire popped. So now … we were walking in the rain. Still with no real investigators. Still freezing. I knew now, this was rock bottom. We couldn’t stay out after dark because it was sketchy in Redding – there were homeless people everywhere, we were sisters, and we had no car. So one evening after dark, we were studying together at the church, waiting for the other sisters to pick us up, and I opened up to my companion and basically told her how discouraged I was. No matter how hard I tried, it wasn’t enough. More things would turn against us. As I tried harder, it got harder. And at this point, I felt like I was an awful trainer and an awful example because we had nothing to do and everything was going wrong. I told her all this and she said, “Sister Watson, are you kidding me? You’re an amazing example! When we lost the car, many others would’ve given up. Not you – you prepared to bike. In the cold. Many people would’ve given up when it started raining. Not you, you decided that you were going to love the rain and have the best day ever anyway. Then your bike tire popped. And at that point, no one would’ve blamed you for quitting. But not you, Sister Watson … quitting and giving up hadn’t even crossed your mind! It never even occurred to you that we should stop trying – even though we still don’t even have investigators! And you’re trying so hard with no results and still going!” And I realized I was being much too hard on myself! She was right.

After we got our car back, our work skyrocketed. And every single miracle we saw together in Redding, I can draw back to those ten days. But I think my favorite part of this lesson was just a few short weeks after this ended. I was pondering one day and I remembered something the Lord has said about how I would be grateful for the rain. I went back and read in my journal and saw that he’d said this wasn’t a test of faith. It was for me to prove to myself where I stand. And I thought about it … and He was right. I realized, especially after what Sister Gore said, that Heavenly Father knew all along what I was capable of. He knew I wouldn’t ever quit, even if He took all my resources from me. He didn’t need to prove me and see how far I was willing to go. That trial was for me. Because now I know for myself that the Lord can trust me, and I can trust  myself. Even when it’s hard, I know I can push through and do the right thing. I needed to see how far I was willing to go. I needed to know for myself that I was a diligent, hardworking missionary and that I am capable of doing hard things. 

#4 What is one of the most valuable lesson you have learned? 

The biggest lessons I’ve learned on my mission have been about the basic truths of the Gospel. There was a time on my mission when I was really struggling. I was trying to work hard an do my best, but it felt like no matter what I did, nothing went right. We had no investigators and I was a pretty young missionary and didn’t know what to do to find any. And I was also kind of beating myself up because I was struggling to be obedient to a few of the little rules. (I wasn’t being disobedient by any means, I just struggled with a few little things). I was feeling discouraged from just all of the stress of missionary work and these problems and I didn’t know how to solve them. I remember praying and asking for forgiveness of my sins and weaknesses and wishing I knew how to be a better missionary. A very clear answer came to me, and I will never forget it. The Lord said in an almost audible voice, “Sister Watson, stop beating yourself up. I am not disappointed in you. First and foremost, you are my daughter. Your calling as a missionary – and any other calling you have it life, be it mother, wife, or anything else – will always come secondary to that.  I don’t care if you’re the worst missionary in the world. I don’t care if you broke every single rule you could break and if you were such a horrible teacher that you made people leave the church. I don’t care if you’re so lazy that you take a nap and never leave the apartment all day. I’d be disappointed, yes. And I’d be sad for the experiences you were missing and the good you weren’t doing. But it would never change who you are or how much I love you. Don’t ever feel like you’re a failure. Because you’re not. You are my daughter and I love you. Always.” I knew I wasn’t the worst missionary out there (actually, I also knew I was far from it), and even if I was, Heavenly Father would still love me. Because my self worth was not defined by any success I had as a missionary – through teaching and baptisms or even through obedience and diligence. It was defined by who I am as a child of God. And every time I get discouraged or down on myself, Heavenly Father takes me back to that day and that prayer. And He reminds me that even if I feel like a failure, I am never a failure in His eyes. Because I am a child of God. And He loves and trusts me. And every time I’ve struggled since then on my mission, I’ve been able to go back to that.

#5 What has been the hardest thing on your mission? 

Transfers. They are literally the worst! Just as you get close to your zone family … they get ripped away from you! And then you adjust to a new zone and they get ripped away again! And then you suddenly get transferred and you get ripped away from them and you have to start all over. You don’t know where you’re going or anyone in your ward or who you’re teaching … and just when you fall in love with an area, you have to leave again. Your heart literally gets ripped into shreds every 6 weeks.

#6 How have you changed? 

A lot. Spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally, socially. Every way? 

I don’t actually know how to answer this. I understand who I am and so I am able to understand more things about myself. Also I’ve grown up and sometimes I can be an adult now too. 

 

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Missionaries enjoying P-day!

 

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15 days left!

 

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Carlene with her new companion–Sister Price

We are really counting down the days now!  Carlene’s time is short as a missionary.  Right before Christmas she got a new companion and started teaching a new family.  She is enjoying every day she has left as a missionary!  Here are some letters from the past month and a picture of Christmas day when we were able to speak to Carlene over skype!

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  I just love Dry Creek and I love Sister Price and I love this zone and this Ward and I love being a missionary! It’s all the best ever!

We spent a lot of time this week introducing Sister Price to everyone. And this Ward is amazing and has welcomed her with open arms!

We had an amazing lesson with one of our investigators. We read Enos 1 and talked about how Enos was able to strengthen his faith in Jesus Christ. She believes in Jesus Christ … but she feels like sometimes, she doesn’t really know if she has faith to be healed or forgiven of her sins. She’s come such a long way since Sister Mackay and I started teaching her. She just really does sometimes lack in faith. We testified that Jesus Christ could help her with that too. There’s a story in the New Testament about a man that approaches Christ and asks Him to heal his son. Christ asks if he has faith that He can do this and he says yes, but then hesitates and says, “help thou mine unbelief.” Sometimes, we just don’t have a whole lot of faith. But the Savior can help us. We testified that reading the Book of Mormon could help her increase her faith in Christ and left her another chapter to read this week. She told us she feels like a door has opened in her heart – just a little – since we started meeting with her. She feels something. I know that something is the Spirit and that as she continues to act and to try and strengthen her faith in Christ, it will continue to grow.

Sunday was a miracle. Literally, the entire day! We had a lesson with one of our part member families … and they’ve been reading the Book of Mormon on their own! We introduced Sister Price some less actives and they’ve been reading the Book of Mormon too! But the biggest miracle was this evening! We had dinner with a family that the ward had been working with for years. They’d sporadically come to church for a while and then stop. Well, when Sister Mackay and I got here, they asked us to visit them. We tried for a while and they weren’t home, but finally, they let us in. We invited them to church … and they’ve been coming strong ever since! They’ve really decided that they’re going to be active now! Well, they have 3 kids who are 8 and above and none of them have been baptized yet. We were talking to them at dinner and they told us that they’ve talked to the Bishop and they really want their kids to be baptized as soon as possible and they were told we needed to be involved! We didn’t even have to bring it up! We told them one of the things they needed to do was to take the missionary lessons … so they asked us if they could start. Right now. (One of the kids actually asked if we could teach all of the lessons right now … we just started with the Restoration right now). These kids have a testimony; we’ve seen them in primary. They know it’s true. We started the Restoration by singing “I am a Child of God” together. The Spirit was so strong! We talked about how we all are literally Spirit children of God and He loves us. And that’s why he sent us here “with parents kind and dear.” We had such a wonderful lesson and the kids soaked it right up! We talked about reading the Book of Mormon. They’ve all kind of started doing it, but it’s hard to understand. We testified that even if they didn’t understand everything, if they would just try to read it, they could still feel the Spirit and still know if it’s true. And we could answer any questions they had and so could their primary teachers. Their mom also decided that they’re going to get back into the habit of family scripture study, and that will help too! They are just so on fire and ready to go! It was so amazing to feel their love for the Lord and their testimonies of this Gospel.

I love being a missionary so much! It’s my favorite thing ever! I’m so grateful for all the opportunities I have to share my testimony of the Savior, Jesus Christ, each and every day. I know He lives and loves us and I’m grateful for this Christmas season, when we get to celebrate His birth!

I love y’all, have the best week ever!

Love,

Sister Watson

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So on Christmas Eve, we made cookies to take to people we teach (because it’s hard to interrupt that day for long because that’s a family day. And no one wants to see the missionaries when they’re with their families. But if you have food … they will at least talk to you for a minute and you’re not really interrupting their day). We took some to one of our investigators and she sat down and talked with us for a few minutes. Her daughter passed away this year and she’s having a rough Christmas without her. We testified that Jesus Christ’s Atonement can help her and she can feel peace. We talked about how families can be together forever and how we can find peace through the Book of Mormon. She was so grateful we stopped by! And I’m so grateful for the knowledge of Heavenly Father’s plan for us and the knowledge that no matter how far I go or how long I’m gone or even when death itself separates me from my family, I will always be able to see them again. We are an eternal family and we simply cannot be separated forever.

We had another lesson with the family who wants their kids to get baptized! We taught them the Plan of Salvation! They knew a lot of it from primary, so there were parts of it that they taught to us! Their dad pulled us aside at church and told us how excited his kids were about the lessons! He said when he comes home from work, it seems like that’s all they can talk about; the things the missionaries taught and how they are going to be baptized soon! They love this Gospel so much and I’m so grateful to be able to work with them!

We went tracting this week to show people the Light the World video and hand out cards. Everyone here is so happy at Christmas time, they just loved it! And I know that because Jesus Christ is the light of the world, that we feel this joy at Christmas time! It’s because of Him we can laugh and smile and find relief and be with our families forever!

I love y’all, have the best week ever!

 

 

 

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Happy New Year! This week was the best week ever!

We had two more lessons with the family whose kids want to be baptized this week! They are just so amazing! We taught them about what their baptismal covenant entails. If they keep the commandments and follow Jesus Christ, they can have the Holy Ghost to be with them. After we had our lesson about the commandments, one of them said the closing prayer. And he prayed for help keeping the commandments because he wants the Spirit with him. It was so sweet! These kids love the Gospel so much and I’m so excited to be able to work with them and see them grow and progress in the Gospel!

Friday was Sister Price’s birthday! So, it was a little hard for me to do anything myself because I’m with her 24/7, but I got our zone together and managed to plan a surprise birthday party for her! We had a lesson Friday morning and then the plan was to show up at the church around noon and there would be a surprise party. Except our lesson ended at 11:20 and the church was only 15 minutes from where we were. So … we stopped to take a selfie with an emu. And then we stopped at home to use the bathroom. And then I “forgot” to lock the house, so we turned around to do that. And we made it to the church … and she was so surprised. It was the best day ever!

So we were eating dinner by ourselves one week and we got a call from one of our investigators. She was completely distraught because her cat had died. It was an interesting conversation, to say the least, but we were able to talk about the Plan of Salvation. God loves animals too and He will take care of them. Her cat is happier with Him and one day, she will be able to see her cat again. It seemed to help calm her down.

We were driving around Sunday night, going through a list of less actives. We drove past a street and someone who lived there popped into my mind. It was a part member family and I’d only met the dad (who is the member) once and I’d never really met the rest of them. They weren’t on our list, but we decided to try them, so we turned around and pulled up to the house. The mom and daughter were outside and had just gotten home from a bike ride! We talked with them for a few minutes! We shared Alma 37:37 and talked about counseling with the Lord as we set goals for the new year. The mom shared some goals she had that going to church could help her with. She also shared that she’d never grown up knowing about God. She believed in Him, but she doesn’t know the basics. Like, what’s the difference between God and Jesus Christ? Apparently they’re not the same? And she wants to know more and wants to be able to teach her kids about God. So we set up a time to come by this week! It was such a miracle and I know it’s because the Spirit prompted us to try them at a time when they’d be home and willing to listen to us!

Love y’all, have the best week ever!

Sister Watson

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Miracles

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Carlene on exchanges with another missionary

I love that missionaries look for God’s hand in their lives each day, they look for miracles–big or small.  The Lord’s hand is in each of our lives, we just have to look.  Carlene shares some of the miracles in their week.

On a side note….50 days until she comes home!!

 

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Stop and smell the flowers…or make a wish on a dandelion…

 

This week in and of itself was a miracle … literally EVERYONE was home! That never happens, haha! We are so blessed to be missionaries and to see the Lord directing this work and leading us to His children who need our help and support. It’s been amazing to be able to really see the Lord paying attention to individuals and sending us to show them how much He cares about each of them.

One of our investigators asked for a priesthood blessing this week. So two members of our ward came with us to our lesson and gave her a blessing. It was so amazing! The Spirit was super strong! We talked with her a little after the blessing about how she felt and what she was thinking. She was completely in awe. The blessing had addressed problems she had and things she was struggling with … and there was no way these two strangers could’ve known what to say. It was quite apparent that this blessing was from God – if not because the Spirit was so overwhelmingly strong, then because it really had given her the answer to all of her problems. We bore our testimonies of the power of the priesthood. I know that blessings truly are from our Heavenly Father. He loves us and is so aware of us. And He wants to help us! We encouraged her to write down the things she remembered from her blessing and her thoughts and feelings down in her journal tonight so that when she is struggling, she can look back on these things.

We went to see a less active and he handed us a Book of Mormon and was like, “Sisters, you accidentally left this last time” (we haven’t been for a few weeks, so I don’t remember if it was an actual accident or not), “I already have one so I don’t need it. But I saw it there and I did start flipping through it and kind of read a little.” So of course we were super excited! Because us leaving it behind made him read a little of it! We don’t know if it was an accident or not, but we do know that because we left it, miracles happened! He read his scriptures! The Book of Mormon is powerful! And if you can give it to someone, then God can do miracles through it. I love that book so much and I know it’s true!

The new Christmas video came out on Friday! It’s seriously the best video ever, y’all! Oh my goodness, I love it so much! Since it came out, we’ve shared it with literally EVERYONE and it’s touched so many hearts, even in the past couple days! I’ve seen multiple people in tears after watching it! One of my favorites was on Friday! We were having a car fast (meaning they had to bike that day–see picture below)

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and it was dark and cold and we didn’t really know who to see. We went to a potential who isn’t really super interested and we weren’t sure if she’d want to see us, but we couldn’t think of anyone else to see. She was willing to let us in and as we talked to her, we found out that she needed help peeling 3 dozen hard boiled eggs before bed that night. She has arthritis so it takes her forever and she was probably going to be up until midnight doing it. She was hesitant to let us help, but she finally agreed. It took us a little under an hour to do what would’ve taken her probably four hours. She was so grateful! It was a testimony to her that Heavenly Father really is aware of her. She told us that she knew He sent us here tonight to help her and that we really were His servants and His hands. Before we left, we shared the Christmas video with her (all about service) … and it completely hit home. She burst into tears and the Spirit was so strong! She just couldn’t thank us enough and kept repeating that she knew God loved her and was aware of her, just simply because He’d sent us to relieve her of her burden that evening. As we serve others, we can be the hands of Christ in the lives of those around us. We can bring a special spirit into our lives and the world around us that comes in no other way. I love the video so much and I feel the Spirit so strongly every time I watch it! And I’m excited to start the service challenge in the month of December! On Mormon.org, they have simple acts of service suggested for each day! And I know we will feel the Spirit more and feel closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ, this Christmas season as we reach out to and serve others! #LIGHTtheWORLD

Love y’all, have the best week ever!

Love,

Sister Watson

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Interviews with President

This week was super long and full of amazingness! There were so many things that happened; we went on exchanges, I had my last zone Conference (and it was in Citrus Heights, my greenie area! That was super special), we’ve had some amazing lessons, went to a wedding, church was the best ever, and so much I can’t even remember! So I will just have to talk about some of the highlights of the best week ever!

We met another less active this week (there’s so many new ones on the list, haha, I don’t know if we’ll ever get through them all)! She was a very nice lady and she was baptized when she was younger. She loves the Book of Mormon and she watches General Conference every weekend it comes on in April and October. So of course, we were super excited and couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t coming to church. She we invited her to church and she said, “oh no. I love the doctrine of the church, but I don’t like keeping all of the commandments. I live with a man I’m not married to and we’ve been together 24 years (and … so why aren’t you married yet?) and I like drinking sometimes on the weekends.” What? I don’t understand how you can love General Conference and the scriptures so much and then not want to keep the commandments. Because we are taught in the scriptures and at Conference to keep the commandments. The sermons in there aren’t just really nice messages that make us feel good, they call us to repentance. They tell us that if we aren’t keeping the commandments, we need to change. We need to repent and do better. And if you want to keep the commandments and follow the Savior, it’s great. But if not … why listen? What good does it do? It’s just words on a page. If you don’t apply them to your life, they profit you nothing. You can listen all you want, but if you don’t let it change you, there’s no point in listening. God doesn’t just want us to listen to nice sermons about how much He loves us and how we need to follow Jesus Christ to be saved. He wants us to actually FOLLOW Jesus Christ. He wants us to change everything about who we are and become like Him. 

One of the sisters in our ward joined the church a few years ago. Her nonmember son got married at the church (in the primary room) this Saturday. We were helping her decorate a little bit and then the sister asked if I could play a little prelude music while people were sitting down. They had their music for walking down the aisle picked out (some random country songs or whatever … quite unconventional, haha), but they thought prelude music would be good for 5 minutes or so. They didn’t really say what they wanted me to play, just pick whatever. Well, it turned out that the bride was late. And then her mom got stuck in traffic and they definitely didn’t want to start without her…so we waited. It started off easy; I played some uplifting, good love songs from Josh Groban or Phantom of the Opera. And then we were still waiting, so I played a couple Disney songs. But it’s been a really long time since I listened to normal music and my memory is limited. Sister Mackay has been on her mission for a while too and her memory of normal music has also faded … so we started picking primary songs. We tried to stick with happy ones about families … but we were waiting for a pretty long time. So we heard songs about just about everything. Songs about baptism. Christmas songs. We even started resorting to hymns (which was more normal for a wedding in my opinion, but not quite what they wanted I guess). It took about an hour, but everyone finally arrived and the audience was relieved of having sister missionaries DJ the wedding. (Haha, just kidding, they were grateful for the background music and most people weren’t members, so they didn’t even know we were playing hymns and primary songs, they just thought it was nice piano music).  The ceremony was literally 5 minutes long and I couldn’t help but think “all that fuss for this? That’s it?!” But it really strengthened my testimony of the importance of temple covenants. Families can be together forever … when we are sealed together in the temple. Outside of the temple, it kind of means … absolutely nothing. They will be together as long as they both shall live. That’s so sad! God ordained marriage to be for time and for all eternity. It isn’t just a nice 5 minute ceremony, it’s a covenant and it’s eternal and binding. It’s sacred and special and important and I’m so grateful that I know I will be married in the temple someday and it will be a sacred, eternal covenant. And I hope one day, this couple will be able to make it to the temple so that they can have their marriage, not just til death do you part of as long as you both shall live, but for time and for all eternity! 

We had an amazing lesson with one of our investigators this week! We stopped by and she was so glad we did! She has a lot of questions about her purpose on earth and where we go after this life. We’ve tried to teach her the Plan of Salvation, but it hasn’t quite sunk in. But we talked about the purpose of life and how God sent each of us here with a specific mission. She opened up about a lot of her concerns and fears to us and then said, “I don’t know why I’m telling you girls this, I never tell people these things.” And in anyone’s mind, it doesn’t make sense to tell two 20 year old kids all about your problems, because they have no life experience and no idea how to deal with them. But we bore our testimonies of our calling and purpose as missionaries to her. We are not just a couple of kids, we are representatives of Jesus Christ. And that’s why she felt comfortable telling us these things; because we are His messengers and He sent us to help her. We may not have life experience or worldly qualifications, but we love the Lord, are willing to serve Him, and have a testimony of His Gospel. We testified that He was aware of her and wanted to help, and the fact that we were on her doorstep was proof of that fact. And that’s one of the best parts of being a missionary, is getting to let people know how much Heavenly Father really does love and care about them. And we may be young and simple, but our testimonies are real. God is real. And each one of us is one of His precious children.

I love y’all and I hope you have the best thanksgiving ever! I know I sure will! 

Love, 

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Sister Missionaries in Carlene’s district
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Missionaries in Carlene’s district

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Stopping by the park on p-day…on their way somewhere…

He Loves Us and …Wants Us To Come Back Home

img_5337There is plenty of WORK in Missionary work…but there is time for fun too.  Carlene is enjoying her P-day’s (preparation day) very much!  Aside from grocery shopping and laundry on p-day she speaks of playing all sorts of sports including  basketball (she is sure she can play against and beat her little brothers when she gets home –the very competitive 12 year old brother is up for the challenge).

 

Recently in a written letter home Carlene said:  The Book of Mormon is not just for those who have completely solid faith.  It’s for people who struggle.  It’s for sinners.  It’s for those who mess up and go through rough patches and who sometimes have a crisis of faith and need an extra boost.  It is wonderful to have the Book of Mormon when things are going good.  But it’s meant to be a tool to help us when things aren’t so good and when we are having hard days.  Heavenly Father loves us and doesn’t expect us to be perfect.  He expects that we will struggle sometimes and gave us the Book of Mormon to help us when we do.

 

I’m so thankful for those written letters in the mail AND the emails she writes home.  Here are her recent emails:

Howdy y’all! Wow, j can’t believe Sister Mackay and I have been together for an entire transfer! It’s just flown by! And been the best transfer ever!

We dropped by some of our investigators house this week. They were so excited to see us! We had an amazing lesson on my favorite subject ever, “God is our Loving Heavenly Father”! We talked about how God gets excited when we pray, just as when we go off to school or move out, our parents get excited when we call home. We talked about the importance of saying sincere prayers because our Heavenly Father loves to hear from us! The mom said she’d been praying a lot lately and we talked about how God is our loving Heavenly Father. He isn’t just the Being running the universe, He’s our Father and He loves to hear from us. And He’s excited to see us. She was super touched and her son thought that was a neat thought too. Then, out of the blue, HER SON brought up church!! He said he had missed last week, but he was planning on being there this week, 9 am! And then SHE has church at 10:30, but she said she’d come to sacrament meeting with him! And they’re coming to the Fall Festival! AND she insisted on feeding us dinner! AND SO IT WAS JUST THE BEST LESSON EVER!! 

We went to introduce ourselves to a less active on Sunday after church! It was an amazing lesson about the Atonement! He was very blunt with us. He told us that he doesn’t really like coming to church because he feels guilty because he knows he is sinning. And he should change, he just doesn’t want to. He has a long, hard repentance process that he knows he should go through, but just hasn’t. One of the problems he deals with is substance abuse and he used to go to ARP( Addiction Recovery Program), but he is a truck driver and works at 1 am, so a 7 pm class doesn’t work well for him anymore. We talked about reading the Book of Mormon and how it could help him and bring him peace. We also shared a quote from Neil A Anderson’s talk “AWitness of God” about guilt. He feels guilty and knows he needs to change, and now he needs to take that burden and turn it to Christ. We bore our testimonies that Jesus Christ loves him and wants to help him and that the Atonement is always there for him. We invited him to meet with Bishop and let him help him start through the process of repentance. The Savior would be there to help him every step of the way, no matter how long the road. I LOVE talking about the Atonement sooo much! It is so powerful. I know our Savior is there for each one of us, no matter what. And He wants to help us, we just have to turn to him. There is no heart so broken and no life so shattered that he cannot heal us, and I can testify that that is true. 

I love y’all, have the best week ever!

Sister Watsonimg_4872

 

 

 

I just absolutely had the best week EVER!! I love being a missionary so much, it’s the best thing ever! 

We were going through our less active list this week (we’ve been trying to introduce ourselves to all of the less actives in the Ward basically since we got here 6 weeks ago). We tried one guy and he had moved out, but the girl who answered the door was super nice and started talking with us! She’s super sweet, a junior in high school, and went to church with her friend for the first time ever last week (not our church)! She doesn’t necessarily believe in God, but she’s not opposed to the idea. We gave her a Book of Mormon and bore our testimonies that it could help her find out whether or not God is real. We told her a little bit about it and she said she’d read it! Also, we set up an appointment with her for next Friday! It was so exciting to see someone who the Lord has prepared placed right in our path!

Saturday was basically a day of focusing on and teaching the Restoration! And it made me so happy! I love the Restoration sooo much! I know it’s true with all of my heart! In the morning, we went to a baptism for someone the Elders were teaching. Our investigator came with us and it was sooo exciting to have her there! It was probably one of the most spiritual baptisms I’d ever been to! The Elders asked us to teach the Restoration while the lady who was baptized changed. It was exciting to have her there because she’s been praying to know whether or not the Book of Mormon is true and whether or not she should be baptized. We haven’t talked to her since the baptism, but I really think attending and feeling the Spirit there will help her to make that decision for herself.

One of our investigators fed us dinner later that evening. They asked us to bring a movie with us to watch afterwards, so we brought the 20 minute movie, “The Restoration” with us. The Spirit was sooo strong! The mom had a couple questions afterwards. She wasn’t sure how Joseph Smith got the plates and so we talked about the angel Moroni a little bit. We told her to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and testified that if she would, she could come to know whether or not this was true and Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. She immediately replied, “Do I need to pray to know if it’s true? How could he make that up, he’s 14!” The Spirit was there and bore testimony to her that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet. She already knew it was true! And her son was so excited, he said he would iron his white shirt tonight so he could come to church the next morning! They both sincerely seem to be searching for truth and we promised that they could come to know these things were true for themselves as they read and pray!

Church on Sunday was just the best ever! We had a family of less actives at church and two other less actives there! It was so exciting! We were waiting for the investigator we’d had dinner with the night before (because he PROMISED he’d come to church, and the Spirit was super strong during the lesson, so he was actually sincere and going to come). And we were super excited! And then … he didn’t come! Church started and it was so sad! I should’ve been happy because we had so many other people there. I tried to focus on how exciting it was that others were there … but honestly, I was completely crushed. My heart just ached because he said he’d be in church and he wasn’t and he was going to miss feeling the Spirit and being uplifted. After the sacrament, they opened the doors … and he came in! He sat with us and said, “sorry I’m running late.” And we were like, “late? Sorry? Who cares! You’re here!” I was so happy to see him there, I wanted to stand up and shout, “HES AT CHURCH, HES HERE! ITS THE BEST DAY EVER EVERYONE!” And it occurred to me, that’s how Heavenly Father sees us. When we mess up, we come to Him sometimes kind of ashamed of our imperfections and say, “Sorry I’m late, Father.” And He replies, “Sorry? Late? Who cares! You’re here!” He doesn’t see the same weaknesses and shortcomings that we see in ourselves. He doesn’t get upset by our mistakes like we do. He’s excited that we want to do what’s right and that we keep His commandments, even if we are imperfect at it sometimes. He doesn’t care how long it takes us to come unto Him, He’s overjoyed that we are here now. Because ultimately, He loves us and He just wants us to come back home.

I love being a missionary! I love bearing my testimony of the Savior, Jesus Christ, each and every day! I love this Gospel and I love my Heavenly Father and Savior! I am so grateful to be a missionary, it really is the best thing ever! 
Love y’all! Have the best week ever!
Love,

Sister Watson

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The Ability To Change

In less than 100 days Sister Watson will be coming home from her mission!  We (her family) are already looking forward to it… I think she has mixed feelings about it because she is so happy doing what she is doing!

Carlene was able to go to the temple recently (pictures below). She is really excited to be serving in a new area near Antelope CA. , and she has  new companion– Sister Mackay.img_4521-1

 

She still is by farms and has the “small town” feel, but closer to big cities.

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Here are some of Carlene’s  words from the last couple of weeks:

Howdy Y’all! This was the best week ever! I love Dry Creek (the area she is serving in) so much and I love General Conference and I love Sister Mackay and I love being a missionary! It’s the best thing ever! 

We met a less active this week who hasn’t come to church since 2000. She stopped coming because she didn’t like how strict the rules were and felt like she would be judged – she has tattoos, smokes, and drinks a beer every so often. We told her she had her Agency and even God Himself couldn’t control her choices. While we don’t agree with her life choices in our church, we believe we all have the ability to choose for ourselves and respect that. She appreciated that and told us that honestly, she wanted to change and kind if turn her life around and at least get back into some sort of church. And of course, we told her that we definitely believe in change! We believe people can always change through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We shared Alma 36 and talked about Alma the younger and how he went from destroying the church of God to becoming one of the greatest prophets and missionaries in the Book of Mormon.  I love the story of Alma the Younger. It truly shows that without fail, no matter who you are or how far you’ve gone, you can always change. You can always start over. You can always come back. And I love watching people come to realize just how powerful the Atonement is and how it can help them. Alma felt awful for the things he had done – he had worked to destroy the church of God and committed all sorts of crimes. He says that he, “was racked with eternal torment, for [his] soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree … [he] did remember all [his] sins and iniquities … [and he] was harrowed up by the memory of [his] my many sins.” But as he was caught in this awful pain, he remembered the things his father had taught him about Jesus Christ. He called out unto Christ for help. And it completely changed his heart! As soon as he turned to Christ, he says, “I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” We bore our testimonies that that is what the Atonement does. It frees us from all of our sins, sorrows, and burdens – no matter how great they are. She was very touched by his words and teared up a little. We left her with a Book of Mormon and invited her to church and to watch General Conference. Best lesson EVER!!

General Conference this weekend was amazing! I LOVE Conference! I am so grateful to have a living prophet and apostles to lead and guide us. I know those men are called of God, and if you don’t know that … watch Conference! There is a special and powerful spirit in their words and you can feel it for yourself and know for yourself that their words are true. One of my favorite talks was by Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita. He spoke about missionary work. He said in his talk, “Serving Jesus really is the best thing EVER” and I totally agree! I have the opportunity to serve my Savior every day as a missionary, serving and teaching His children. Inviting them to repent and change and come closer to them. And there is nothing in my entire life that has brought me greater joy than this work. It’s the best thing EVER! 

Love y’all, have the best week ever! 

Sister Watson

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Oh my goodness, this was just the best week EVER! Sister Mackay and I have seen so many miracles here! I love being a missionary, it really is my favorite thing ever!

We went to see one of the investigators  (in our area) We met him briefly once before, but hadn’t gotten to know him super well. When we got there, his mom answered the door. She is a strong Christian, but she isn’t a member of our church. Her husband was raised in the church, but has been less active for many years. She was so excited to see us! Initially, she was happy we were there because she wanted us to teach her son and help him turn his life around. We said we would love to do that and before we left, we asked if we could share a scripture with her. We read a little bit of Enos and talked about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. After we finished, she said, “I thought you came here to help my son, but now I feel like God sent you here tonight to answer my prayers.” She explained how she has been searching for truth. She doesn’t know which church to join or which church is right for her. She had been to many and is basically trying to find out the truth about God and who He really is. She feels like she’s had a lot of little answers in the past few days. We bore our testimonies that Heavenly Father loves her and is aware of her. He knows who she is and He wants to help her and answer her questions and her prayers. It was such a powerful lesson and the Spirit was so strong! 

We also had another miracle lesson this week! We were going to see a potential, so we walked up to the gate. It was unlocked… but then a big dog came running up to us and started barking furiously. So we just kept walking and knocked on the first door that didn’t have huge gates and no trespassing signs. A young father answered the door and said we could share a short message about Jesus Christ. We shared the“Because of Him” video and he loved it! He teared up and really appreciated the message. He has a belief in Jesus Christ and knows there is a God, but he is confused because there are so many religions. He isn’t sure what is true and who is right. He has a lot of questions and is searching to find what he believes for himself. We gave him a Book of Mormon and talked a little bit about what it is and where it came from. He read Moroni 10:4-5 and we talked about how God promises that if we read with an open heart, we can find out for ourselves whether or not it was true. He thought that was amazing! It is amazing to see people who are searching for truth, but just don’t know where to find it. It was the best lesson ever!

It’s been the best week ever! I love being a missionary and I love dry creek so much! 

Love y’all, have the best week ever!

Sister Watson

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 We had a kind of crazy miracle this week! It was a Tuesday afternoon, about 4:30, and we weren’t sure what to do. So we decided to visit this part member family. The wife (the non member) is a super cute German lady who basically either loves you or she doesn’t … and you always know exactly where you stand with her. We started walking up the front walkway and the front door bursts open! She says in her cute little German accent, “Sisters! You’re here, I knew it! Come in!” (If you don’t know what a German accent sounds like, think President Uchtdorf. It’s adorable). We were a little confused and she proceeded to explain her excitement, “I have made you dinner, come on, sit down. Everything is ready, It’s time to eat!” Apparently, she had signed up to feed us dinner next week, but had thought it was this week. So she made a bunch of food and then called the dinner coordinator to ask what time she had requested we come … and found out she had the wrong date! She was so disappointed and had no idea what to do with all the food (she’d made quite the feast, haha)! We hadn’t had any idea about this when we decided to go … but it did just so happen that our dinner that night had cancelled! So we were just going to eat by ourselves anyway! It was such a perfectly timed miracle where everything worked out so spectacularly that there obviously had to be divine intervention (which is no surprise; that happens every day in missionary work)! It was the best day ever! She is sooo funny! She told us stories of her childhood in Germany and we had the best dinner (and of course, lesson afterwards) ever! 

One skill I found out I had this week was the ability to give an impromptu talk in Sacrament meeting! We were in Ward council an hour before church started and one of the speakers got the stomach flu. They were in a little bit of a conundrum, so naturally, they asked the missionaries if they might bear their testimonies or something. Oh no, we can do better than that; I volunteered to give a talk on missionary work! Giving Talks as a missionary is the best because for one, you always have the same topic (and can use that topic to help members get excited about missionary work and supporting the missionaries), and also, you move around so much, you can give basically the same talk in every Ward. Granted, it’s good to follow the Spirit and tweak details, but the outline of the talk is generally the same.  But I’ve found the longer my mission goes on, the talk does change a little, because I change. I’ve experienced more and my testimony of different principles is stronger depending on what trials I a, currently going through. I’ve found there’s always been an emphasis on my missionary work talk – I’ve given it with an emphasis on the joy of missionary work, I’ve given it with the emphasis of fathers (specifically my father because it was Father’s Day) on missionary work, or the emphasis of the Book of Mormon. On Sunday the emphasis was probably my favorite one ever; the emphasis that we are children of God. Why do we do missionary work? Because God loves us. And He loves all of His children. And they all need the Gospel. We knew and loved them before this life and we should love them enough now to share the joy we get from the Gospel. Despite all the trials of missionary work, we receive great joy because we get to help our giant, extended eternal family to come back home. We get to bear our testimonies of the Savior and help others to realize that He can help them. Because of Him, our mistakes don’t follow us. We have the Atonement; that’s the solution to every single problem the world has ever known.

I love y’all! Hope you have the best week ever!

Sister Watson

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“Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders Among You”

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I am spoiled in that Carlene not only sends an email each week, she will also send home letters in the mail each week.  I love it…but not sure I can expect that from her siblings when they serve missions.  This week she shared some awesome thoughts on comparison (meaning when we compare ourselves to others.)

…comparing ourselves to others is so unhealthy and such a vicious trap that Satan puts before us.  President Marston says “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  And it’s so true! If we are comparing ourselves to others, we usually are comparing their strengths to our weaknesses.  We forget all the good things about ourselves.  Heavenly Father didn’t mean for us to be like anyone else on this earth except ourselves.  And when we compare ourselves to others we lose sight of who we are.  Heavenly Father is the greatest Being in the universe-He is the Creator and King of it all.  He is powerful.  And because I am a child of God, I must be pretty powerful too.  God is our Father and so we each have inherited divine qualities from Him.  And when we compare ourselves to others, we lose sight of that.  We ignore the divinity within us.  We show Him we are not grateful for the talents and attributes that He has blessed us with.  He sent each of us here with a unique and divine mission and purpose.  No one else can do this in the same way you can.  Because God created you unique.  And if you don’t do what He sent you here to do who will? He can have someone else try, I suppose, but they cannot do it nearly as well or in the same way that you can.  There is no need to compete with others.  We are all on this earth and in this work together.  We shouldn’t compare ourselves, we should serve and uplift each other.

 

Carlene has also told us in letters how often she has used a talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Hollandcalled : Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders Among You (Joshua 3:5)

I wrote to Carlene  several times sharing how one of my sons was  loved this particular talk and would often quote the part about “we get credit for trying even if we don’t always succeed.” That has been a good reminder in our home and has also been relevant to those that Carlene has been teaching and helping others’ with their challenges.  Elder Holland says:

 

First of all, if in the days ahead you not only see limitations in those around you but also find elements in your own life that don’t yet measure up to the messages you have heard this weekend, please don’t be cast down in spirit and don’t give up. The gospel, the Church, and these wonderful semiannual gatherings are intended to give hope and inspiration. They are not intended to discourage you. Only the adversary, the enemy of us all, would try to convince us that the ideals outlined in general conference are depressing and unrealistic, that people don’t really improve, that no one really progresses. And why does Lucifer give that speech? Because he knows he can’t improve,he can’t progress, that worlds without end he will never have a bright tomorrow. He is a miserable man bound by eternal limitations, and he wants you to be miserable too. Well, don’t fall for that. With the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the strength of heaven to help us, we can improve, and the great thing about the gospel is we get credit for trying, even if we don’t always succeed.

 

if we love the Lord Jesus Christ, if we do the best we can to live the gospel, then tomorrow—and every other day—is ultimately going to be magnificent, even if we don’t always recognize it as such. Why? Because our Heavenly Father wants it to be! He wants to bless us. A rewarding, abundant, and eternal life is the very object of His merciful plan for His children! It is a plan predicated on the truth “that all things work together for good to them that love God.”10 So keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever.

It is impossible to not love this talk!  It so applicable to us all and so comforting!

Well…the next big news is that Carlene has been transferred.  We haven’t seen any pictures of her new companion, but she has been moved to an area further south in her mission.  We’ll hear more about it on Monday and get pictures.  We are sure grateful for her time with Sister Tandogan and in Gridley!  Here are a couple more pictures of them before they move on to new places in their mission.

 

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