Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Last Email as a Missionary 2/11/2013

Hello everyone!

I can't believe it's this time already.  My last email as a missionary (because I'm pretty sure I won't be emailing next week.)  My heart is full at this time.  It's so hard to accept the fact that I have to leave!  This has been a truly wonderful 18 months.  I have loved being a missionary.  I have loved meeting new people.  I have loved studying.  I haven't loved tracting.  It seemed like the mission would go on and on forever, but now it's ending.  It doesn't even feel like 18 months have passed!  I don't think it's really going to hit me until either on the airplane or when I get off and see everyone.  It's going to be hard to leave!

This last week, as I'm sure you've all heard on the news, was rather interesting.  On Thursday we were going to go to the boardwalk to contact people.  Once we were there we checked our phone because it had been on silent for a while.  We had about 5 voicemails, all from different people in the ward who wanted to let us know that there was a man hunt going on and that we needed to get inside.  We went to the church and I practiced the piano for a while, and during that time, three more people called to tell us about it.  It's nice to know that they're all looking out for us.  After hearing a little bit more about what was going on, we decided the majority of Big Bear residents were not in immediate danger, since he had that list and wasn't going after random civilians.  But all the schools went on lockdown and so did the hospital.  The next day they brought up 300 police officers, there was a swat team, I think they talked about getting the marines up here.  And then that night they had five black hawk helicopters searching the mountain with infrared...it's been interesting.  But we're all alive and haven't seemed to be in any danger.   :)

And then something really cool happened on Sunday!  We had a meeting with Alyn (ward mission leader) and we had a conversation about Andy and decided to just ask him at church if he wants to be baptized.  We ended up having a lesson with him right after church.  Andy likes to overanalyze things, especially the things that Alyn says.  After we had taught the whole lesson, they got into a LOOONG conversation, which ended with Andy saying 'there isn't anything I've learned about the church that I don't like and I want to be a good person and follow Christ' so Alyn said 'Okay then let's set a baptism date'...and he did!  Andy knew I would be leaving next week, so he wanted to make sure it was this week.  So Andy will be getting baptized on Thursday!  What a great way to end a mission!  There is nothing that makes serving a mission more meaningful and worth it than being able to see someone you've taught get baptized.  It is so special.  And now I can tell people 'I baptized Andy Griffith'. haha

We had a great lesson with Kevin last week.  He is so so so so excited to be able to go to the temple and loves learning all that we can tell him about it.  We had a really spiritual lesson about the temple.  He's going to do baptisms for the dead next week.  He's already planned on going to the temple the day he hits his one year mark.  I'm excited to be able to go to the temple as often as I can!  Once every few months is not enough!  What a blessing to have so many temples way close to us in Utah! 

Today we also hiked Mormon Rocks.  There is so much church history here, and so many people don't even know it.  It was a fun little hike.  Even though it's warmer in the desert, it felt more cold because they have really cold wind there!  I'm happy to be in the mountains where there isn't too much wind. 

We also got a lot of snow on Friday during the man hunt.  It was a pretty decent storm (but not 'blizzard-like' as the news called it).  We got around a foot of snow, and then a couple more inches last night.  I remember my last email in Fontana that I was complaining that it was getting a little chilly there and I wasn't sure how I would do going back to Utah.  I'm glad that I was able to get used to the cold again before going back. 

Those are the highlights of the week.  I'm excited to see all of you (as many of you as I do see, anyway) next week! :)  18 months come and gone.  Weird.  I have no idea how to respond to the question 'how was your mission?' because 'it was good' doesn't come close to how my mission was.  There were good days, there were bad days.  There were almost impossibly difficult days, and there were days that were full of miracles.  I've learned so much and completely changed my entire future.  I've acted upon my testimony and become converted to the gospel. Most importantly I come to know the Savior so much better.  Reading the scriptures will never be the same because of the experiences that I have had serving a mission.  There are verses that I never knew would mean so much to me.  I love the Lord.  I love being one of His missionaries.  Even though I'm going to have to take off my name tag soon (which will be the hardest thing in the world) I hope that what it means to me will be forever burning in my heart. 

I love you all.  I appreciate all of your letters and your words of advice.  I can't imagine what this would have been like without all of you supporting me. :)

Have a great week!  See you soon!
Love, Sister Stacey

Working on Finding 2/4/2013

Well, not too much to update on this week.  It was rather slow.  Not to mention that I just emailed about four days ago it feels like.  I wish more had happened, but more has not happened. 
We're going to be doing a lot of finding this week.  We've kind of stepped back from Blake and Andy because it's been very hard to get ahold of them.  Our ward mission leader wants to be heavily involved in their teaching and he is busy a lot of the time, then when he's not busy, they're busy.  We really want to find a lot of people to teach, though. 
Donna was not able to be baptized this last week, unfortunately.  She got ill and was unable to get all the necessary things done before her baptism.  So it will either be this weekend or next weekend. 
Also, it has not been wintery at all, so the fact that Punxsutawney Phil says that Spring is coming, does not surprise me.  IT has been in the 50s just about every day.  All the snow is melting.  But I just heard that we're supposed to have a little bit more snow this weekend.   
Well, what's new with everyone else?  I heard that Matt and Felicia are now parents.  So exciting!  I also heard that some of you went to Disneyland and forgot to invite me.  You know who you are.  I hope you at least thought of me while you were driving past San Bernardino county. 
As I was reading Jesus the Christ this week, I just read the chapters about the Atonement.  It is unfathomable to me, the things that He went through.  It made me realize even more how much the Savior loves us.  He was perfectly obedient to our Heavenly Father.  He was obedient even when it seemed impossibly difficult.  He set a perfect example for us.  It really hit me that He is the only one who knows what it feels like to completely and utterly alone.  He is always there for us even if we don't recognize it.  I am so thankful for Jesus Christ and for His sacrifice.  And I am especially thankful to know that I am in His church. 
I think I'll end this email here.  One more email left.  I know I'm almost done, but it doesn't feel like it.  It probably won't hit me for a while. 
I love you all!  Have a great week!
Love, Sister Stacey

Monday, January 14, 2013

Finishing My Mission in Big Bear 1/14/2013

Dear Family,

Hello!  I'm sure you're all wondering what happened with transfers, so here's the news:

I'm still in Big Bear.
Sister Davis is still my companion. 

I am pretty excited about this.  I'm glad I'm finishing my mission here and that I'm still with an awesome companion.  I'm glad I don't have to wonder any more about where I could potentially end up or who I'm going to work with.  Also, that leads me to my next item of interest.  Since I know I won't be going anywhere after this except home, here is my address up here so that we can all communicate oh so much faster.

Sister Stacey
P.O. Box #84
Big Bear City, CA 92314

So that's the big news.  Which all the rest of my news isn't really all that exciting, unfortunately. 

Tuesday we had an awesome zone conference and set some pretty good zone goals.  We really wanted to help with them.  But Sister Davis was still sick, and I was getting more sick.  I decided to call the mission nurse and tell her what was going on.  I had no body pains, no headache, no nausea, no sore throat, no runny nose, no ear ache, but oh man my tonsils were in a LOT of pain (and they were starting to get some weird white spots).  I didn't get too much sleep for about three nights in a row because I would wake up every time I swallowed.  So we ended up calling a doctor who actually works in Orem, Dad.  Dr. Peterson.  He works on 800 north I think?  I think it's over near where Dr. Morgan is.  And he prescribed something for me that helped. :)  Two days later I felt all better.  During that time I also developed a cough, which still lingers, but I feel much much better. 

So with Sister Davis still getting over being sick, and me being sick, we didn't get out as much as we would have liked.  Saturday was the first day we were feeling really good, so we worked really hard that day.  We taught Kevin one of the recent convert lessons.  He is so awesome.  He's such a good example of how when you've received a witness from the Holy Ghost that the gospel is true, you will do all you can to change and become the person God wants you to be.  He has so much faith and is so excited about the church.  He is in so much awe of how the organization of the church takes care of everything.  He's getting the priesthood soon, so he's pretty excited.  As we were leaving his place, we noticed that the park near his house (I say park, but it's just a small snowy spot by the lake) was swarming with people.  We recognized that as an awesome opportunity to go talk to lots of people, even though none of them are from here.  The population of Big Bear practically triples over the weekend with people wanting to come and be around snow for a couple days.  I wanted to get on a soap box and started teaching about the gospel like they do in the Restoration movie.  We didn't, but we still talked to lots of people.  It's interesting how intimidating things like that, and somewhat fruitless, you feel super energized after. I love tracting because I'm showing the Lord that I have enough faith to find on my own and that He'll bless us, and He does.  I've only ever really met a small handful of people who were genuinely interested in the gospel from tracting, but in the meantime the Lord blessed us to receive a referral or they came about in other ways.  That's how it is with life sometimes.  We are doing something that we know we should do, even if we don't see the immediate benefit from it, but the Lord blesses us in other ways that are so great. 

So the ward council up here has a goal to read Preach My Gospel by the end of April.  They also had that goal last year and didn't do it.  We decided to help them out and create a schedule to be able to read all of it in that amount of time and thought of a way to institute a good way to follow up.  It was just to read one chapter a week and then if we learned anything or had an experience that related to what we read, then we'd share it in ward council.  Things like that usually motivate people and get them excited to do more.  Preach My Gospel is such an amazing book!  I'm going to be studying from it my whole life.  But they all got kind of angry at it and said that there's no way everyone is going to read it by the end of April.  We thought that was weird because it was their goal in the first place. Our ward mission leader was sad because he thought it was a good idea.  It was a weird ward council.  Oh well. :)

Last night we got to bed a little later than we had hoped.  I was in our study putting a couple things away and a mouse ran under our dresser.  It was a cute little mouse, but it was a cute little mouse that was actually gross.  Also that it was inside, a place where it doesn't belong.  We set up a barricade around the dresser and got a box to trap it under.  Then we got a stick to get it out from under the dresser.  It was FAST.  We tried a couple times and did not succeed.  Then upon another attempt, it started hiding under a flap on one of the boxes in our barricade.  That gave it enough time to figure out an escape plan.  It noticed, I'm sure, that one end of the skateboard we were using, rounded down and wasn't as high.  It sprinted and leaped a mighty leap and completely cleared the skateboard (a mere inch from my hand) and disappeared somewhere in the room.  We know it's still in there.  We have an idea of how we're going to catch it.  BUT we didn't have time to do it this morning.  We COULD buy mousetraps, but we want to try this first.  So gross.  Still gives me the heeby jeebies to think about it.  I don't like mice in the house, it turns out. 

Also, on that note, we didn't find any more bed bugs THANK GOODNESS.  And besides all that, a lot of people were not home or were too busy to meet with us. :(  We did finally meet up with a woman who had her records removed from the church a few years back, and now wants to be baptized and be a part of the church again, so that was exciting.  It will be on Feb. 2.  She has a daughter who isn't a member, and will maybe start sitting in on the lessons (Bishop wanted us to teach her the missionary lessons before she gets rebaptized.)  She is really sweet and initially had her records removed because her circumstances were not letting her go to church for many years and she felt bad.  But now she realizes that she misses all of that and is very excited to be able to go back to the temple.  :)

Well, I hope that you all have a fantastic week!  Ours will be!  Love you all!

Love, Sister Stacey

Monday, January 7, 2013

Nice Winter in Big Bear 1/07/2013

Dear Family,

Hello!  It's a nice winter morning up here in Big Bear! We got five inches of snow last night, which was fun to wake up to!  I used to laugh when people who weren't around snow very often would get so excited.  But after being in summer for 15 months straight and finally have some snow, it's pretty exciting!  I enjoy seasons.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot to report on for this week. I am glad weeks like this last one don't come along too often. They're not fun. Not only was Sister Davis pretty sick most of the week, but when we WERE out, no one was home or they didn't have time, or they were also sick. It's going around I guess. I got sick on Saturday and I hope it doesn't bother me too much this week.  My ears were feeling weird yesterday at church and I was worried about getting an ear infection.  I guess people get them up here all the time.  But I'm feeling a bit better today, so hopefully it was just some weird weekend cold thing.

Andy got out of the hospital yesterday, so hopefully we'll see him soon. I guess they didn't actually operate on his brain. There was just something up there to drain some fluid that kept collecting around his brain. So that was good. He slipped and fell on some ice. He hit his head when he fell and his brain shifted a little bit and he lost the use of the left half of his body temporarily.  He was unable to stand back up, so he had to call for help.  He's usually more careful on the ice, but he had been drinking that night so he wasn't as stable on his feet. He said he never wants to drink again, which made us very happy because that was definitely something that was holding him back! 

There's another man we've been trying to start teaching named James. When we talk to him he sounds so sincere and excited to start learning. He really wants to go to church and everything. But when it comes to making a commitment, he won't follow through. He is so sincere in his desire, so we can't figure out why he won't do the things he's said he would do.  When we saw him last week and invited him to church he said that he would definitely be there.  We asked him if he wanted us to find him a ride to church, but he said that he wanted to walk there.  (he lives about three miles from the church)  He said it's not so bad if he walks 'as the crow flies'.  So we figured if he has to trudge through snow and people's property, he probably wouldn't be there.  And he wasn't.  We should try just sending someone over there on Sunday morning to pick him up and see what happens.  We really want him to come to church!

And Blake, our other investigator, is still having a hard time matching his schedule up to the person he wants to help us teach him. But in seminary he was talking about how he wants to go on a mission. That was really cool! We hope we can continue teaching him again soon!

Ed Stanik, a recent convert, invited us to go see The Hobbit with him.  But obviously we couldn't go.  So sad. 

The last bit of news is that we found a bed bug in our house.  I knew it was a bed bug, because Jenn sent me a picture of one a while ago, and I recognized the creature instantly.  They're gross!  We tore our house apart looking for more, but didn't find any.  We must have taken him home from someone else's house.  I REALLY hope we don't find any more.  It just doesn't sound like too much fun trying to get rid of them. 

Also, I learned how to widdle.  And today we're going to a silver smith's shop.  He did all the silver work on the Three Amigos and silver work in other movies.  We're going to see if he'll make something cheap for us, because that sounds pretty cool. 

Well, I suppose that is all for this week!  Love you all!  Have a great week!

Love, Sister Stacey

Thursday, January 3, 2013

White Christmas in Big Bear 1/02/2013

Dear Family,

Hello!  How was everyone's Christmas?  It was pretty awesome up here!  So glad we got to have a white Christmas!  Big Bear is still great.  Heavenly Father has done a great job with nature.  It's beautiful in the mountains. 

Anyway, I know there is a lot to talk about from the last two weeks, but sometimes when you sit down to actually write about it, it all just slips from your mind.  So I'll do my best. 

Actually I'll just write about the main events.  So on the 21st we had a mission party.  It was way fun.  We all gathered together and had dinner and then we had a talent show.  There are lots of missionaries who play the guitar it turns out.  Then we all sang some Christmas songs, during which Santa (Pres. Godwin) showed up.  It reminded me an awful lot of the Rowley family Christmas parties.  Those were good times.  Yes, I even was forced to sit on Santa's lap.  I have a picture, but I'm not sure I'll be able to have the time to send it upon this day. 

On Christmas Eve we had dinner at our ward mission leader's house.  He's so awesome!  He had Andy there as well and we were able to teach him a second lesson.  We taught him the restoration.  He like it so much.  In addition to Bro. Nielson, his wife was also there, as were his parents.  They're all converts to the church, so at the end, they ended up being the ones to invite him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon because that's how they all got their answers.  The spirit was really strong during this lesson.  It went so well.  At the end I invited him to be baptized, to which he said he needs to check out his ex-wife's church before he can make that commitment.  BUT then on Thursday Bro. Nielson called us and said that Andy called him and asked what he needs to do to join the church, to which Bro. Nielson said finish taking the lessons and be baptized.  Andy didn't say no, so we were hoping to meet with him soon to talk to him more about that.  I say 'were' because a couple days ago, Andy slipped on some ice and got a concussion.  Shortly after taking him to the hospital, he was life-flighted down the mountain to a hospital in Riverside, where he had brain surgery!  I hope he gets well soon.  That didn't sound to good to us.  Please keep him in your prayers. 

Christmas day was fun!  We had district meeting in the morning, and then went over to the McCutcheons to have a Christmas lunch feast.  We spent a lot of the day there, because that's where we skyped from.  After that we went over to another woman's house in the ward and had a dinner there.  And there's a family from Anaheim who own a home up here, so they were here over Christmas and they really wanted to have us over, so we also went over there.  It was a good day. 

The next day snowed a ton. :)

Today we got to go to the temple with all the sisters in the mission.  I love that we get to do things like that.  Some missionaries never get to go to the temple during their mission.  But we usually go about every other transfer.  I'll probably even get to go twice next transfer, if I stay in the Apple Valley zone.  I love the feeling in the temple.  It is the most peaceful place on the earth.  And it was neat to be able to go with all the sisters.  There were about 24 of us there.  It was packed!  I always feel the spirit so strongly while I am there.  I am excited for when I can go whenever I have the time. 

Well, I guess those are all the major things that have happened.  So I'll just tell you about something cool, that I don't think I've mentioned yet.  We have another investigator named Blake.  He's the kid living with Bro. Nielson.  He's been coming to church every Sunday, and I think he really likes what he's been learning.  We haven't been able to meet with him again yet because he's busy and so is Matt (Bro. Nielson's son that he's really good friends with).  He wants Matt to help teach him, but their schedules don't always match up.  So that's one of the holdups.  But Bro. Nielson asked Blake 'So if Matt baptizes you, who are you going to baptize?'  and he said he would baptize another one of his friends.  That was cool, because we haven't even talked to him about baptism yet.  Bro. Nielson is so awesome at sharing the gospel with others and helping us with the work.  Hopefully we can meet with him soon!

Here's another cool thing.  This one doesn't have to do with the work, but it does have to do with Big Bear.  I hope I haven't told you about this yet, either.  We were helping a member do some service in Onyx and he took us to some one's property who trains lions.  And tigers.  And bears.  And panthers.  And wolves.   He trains them for movies.  His lions were on Gladiator.  We want to help feed them sometime. :)  We got to see them and it was pretty awesome. 

Well, that's about it for this week.  I hope all is well with everyone wherever you're at!  Love ya!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Snow In Big Bear 12/17/2012

Dear Everyone:

Hello!  How was the week?  We had a great week up here!  It snowed!!  We were so excited.  We first shoveled ourselves to our car, and then drove over to people's houses to then shovel them out too.  In our skirts and flats, no less!  It was fun. 

Well last week we had our final lessons with Kevin.  I love teaching people who just really want to learn and do whatever it takes to be closer to Jesus Christ.  He was really sick on Friday and Saturday, so the bishop and ward mission leader suggested that we postpone it until he was feeling better.  So we asked him about it and his answer was (we asked him the day before)  'Even if you have to bring me in on a stretcher, I AM getting baptized tomorrow night'.  Good answer.  He was so excited.  The water heater wasn't working, so he got baptized in liquid snow.  BUT he said he also felt like he was just walking on cloud nine and didn't care at all that it was freezing.  It was so fun to teach him and I'm excited to go through all the lessons with him again.  He's going to be Santa Claus at the ward Christmas party on Friday.  Perfect man for it.  He's 6'5" or something and we had to call the Polynesian ward to find a jumpsuit big enough for him haha. The only thing he's lacking is a white beard.  Other than that, he looks just like Santa. 

We had lots of appointments set up for last week, but almost everyone cancelled because they were all sick.  It seems like everyone is sick right now.  So we're really hoping that this week we're able to find some new investigators.  There are a few people that we've been trying to see, so hopefully this week is the week!  It's hard to find people with spare time the week before Christmas.  We've been trying to share a quick Christmas message with people.  I love how the meaning of Christmas has changed for me.  I understand so much more about Jesus Christ and just how much He's done for us.  I love that we have a whole month basically to enjoy the spirit of Christmas.  If we pause for a minute and ponder the birth of the Savior in our hearts, just as Mary did, we will experience the true joy of the season.  I read this awesome book by Emily Freeman called 'A Christ Centered Christmas' about the nativity.  She goes through every figure of the nativity and talks about what we can learn from them and then at the end of every chapter there are spiritual things to do that will help pull our minds and hearts closer to Jesus Christ. 

I wish I had more to talk about from last week.  It was kind of slow with all the illness and snow.  We were able to do a bit of service, though, so that was fun.  We are going to do all we can this week to teach lots of people and stay busy.  It's a hard week, the week before Christmas, but as long as we're doing all we can to best represent Jesus Christ in this area, then we will have a great week no matter what. 

I love you all!  Have a great week!

Someone KNEW I was coming to the mountains!

Our sweaters for the zone ugly christmas sweater party we're going to be having.

Kevin's baptism.  He looks like Santa Claus!  And the guy on the left is our ward mission leader.  He's so awesome!

Me and Sister Davis.
Love, Sister Stacey

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Best Transfer Ever! 12/10/2012

Dear Family,

Hello!  Oh man this is going to be the best transfer ever!  I am emailing you from a small library in Big Bear City.  So many reasons why it is so awesome to be here.  First, there are a lot of cool people to work with up here.  Of course.  So many unique personalities.  It's fun.  Second, I am with Sister Davis, and she is awesome.  Third, we made mission history.  Before her and Sister Fairbourn were transferred here, sisters hadn't been up here in about 15 years.  And they've NEVER been left here during the winter.  So naturally everyone assumed that I would not be transferred here.  And now I am!  This is the most wanted area of the mission.  All the elders were bummed that we were coming here.  :D  We're going to have a white Christmas!  It's so fun to be in this little ski town.  No snow yet, but they say it will snow this weekend.  I love being in the mountains.  The altitude has been a little bit of an adjustment because I got very used to being down the hill.   Now we're at 6000+ feet.  Some people are at 8000 feet.  So it's a little different.  I was hoping they would still have a truck here, but they took that away and gave us a jeep.  As long as it has four wheel drive I'm happy!  I love it here and I hope I'm here next transfer as well.  We'll see. 

Here are a couple of the people I've met so far.  First, there's Kevin Manor.  He's getting baptized this weekend.  He's friends with a woman in the ward and when he started coming to church and seeing what Latter-day Saints are like, he knew that this was Christ's true church.  When people get that witness, they will do everything the Savior asks of them.  He's quit smoking and drinking coffee and he is so excited that he's found a church where the members actually live what they're taught.  He's a really neat man.  I'm happy I've been able to be here for a little bit of it.  OH YEAH we also live right by Big Bear Lake and we were going to go fishing with him today, but he had to work.  So I guess we'll go next week. 

We also went to do service for a recent convert up here named Ed Stanik.  We helped him dig a well and bury a cat at some property he owns near Onyx summit.  WAY different service than what I've done every where else.  I'm definitely not in Fontana anymore.  Soon we'll be able to help people shovel snow and whatnot.  I'm pretty excited. 

We got a referral for a girl named Natasha who we called and she sounds very nice.  We accidentally called her twin first, and her twin sounded really excited for her to be able to meet with us.  So hopefully we'll be able to see her soon.  She is busy this week and doesn't know what her schedule is for next week, so we weren't able to set an appointment with her yet. 

So my birthday was spent up here and I could not have picked a better place in the mission to be.  We were able to teach some great lessons that day.  We went over to a member's house to have a little dinner.  Her husband is not a member.  Before when missionaries would come, he totally ignored them and would go to a different room.  But since sisters have been here, he's started opening up a lot.  He sat and talked with us for a while and he's a really nice guy!  I didn't think too much about it until after we left and Sister Davis told me about how he was at first.  We're not currently teaching him the lessons because he doesn't want them, but the fact that he's opened up so much to the idea of missionaries being in his home is wonderful.  He even invited us over for Christmas.  So maybe he's one of the reasons that sisters are still here.  Some people need elders, some people need sisters.  Maybe he's just needed sisters.  We'll see.  We also have a few other we hope to be able to start teaching this week.  There's Blake, a kid living in the ward mission leader's home, Andy Griffith, who is friends with the ward mission leader (our ward mission leader is AWESOME), and James, a guy who randomly called Sister Fairbourn and Sister Davis saying that he really wants to change his life and come closer to Christ. 

Anyway, that's basically what the last week has been like.  It's COLD up here but that's okay.  I still love it.  I love the people up here.  It's kind of weird being in a vacation ward.  They say the number of attendance doubles during the summer and winter.  The ski slopes don't have too much snow on them, but it got cold enough last week so they could shoot some snow on the hills.  It's cool.  They've got a pipe system that takes water from the lake and turns it into snow.  So when it melts in the summer it just melts right back into the lake. 

I hope you all have a great week!  Love you all!

Love, Sister Stacey