last week! 25 Jan 2016

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Wow what a fun filled week. I can’t really remember what happened at the beginning of it so I’m going to work backwards and see if that helps.

This morning I had my departing interview with President Griffin! So now I can go home. I am proud of myself for making it!!! (almost). At the beginning of my mission I was so sure I would never last a whole year and a half…..but I did it! very grateful for being helped along the way. You always think a mission will be awesome because you’ll be happy and feel the Spirit all the time but actually it’s pretty hard…….but I’ve seen over and over that right at the breaking point, I get exactly what I need to keep going. Sometimes the words of a hymn, or something someone says, or a perfect moment in a tough week.

Sooooo it has been super cold and it actually snowed! Knoxville got it a lot lighter than other areas in our mission but all the school kids got 3 snow days and they shortened church yesterday….had all 3 wards meet at 10:30 for just Sacrament Meeting. Ohh ok now I remember the beginning of the week. That is when Sister Skinner started to not feel so good. She has been on medicine that makes her pretty sleepy and very loopy, so that has brought some variety to the mission life. I am going to miss her and Sister Beckstead a lot!! but they will miss me even more!;)

We ended up having another great week with our friends we are teaching. Great moment was when Chuck had an Aha moment of realizing that the thing he needs to do is ask God about the Book of Mormon. He has been taught for a long long time and trying to get an answer about the church, but has had a problem understanding Joseph Smith’s role in it all. But it clicked this time that that is what he needs to do. Another fun thing about the week was our hospital visits….it has happened over and over in the past few months that a less active member will end up in the hospital and then we are able to meet them and become friends! We heard an awesome conversion story last night of the Fairweather couple and how they joined the Church. They have also helped others come into the church, and even though they haven’t been coming in a while, they talked a lot about how it is time to get a different job and be able tp come more often.

Well I think that is all for now. I will see you westerners soon!

Love y’all,

Sister Hale

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18 January 2016!!

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Crazy day!! We have been in the smoky mountains and then we were about to email but got a call that a member is in the hospital so we headed right over there with Brother Puckett! Luckily the timing was perfect that we could go over there, it’s Sister Paul that we’ve been visiting, I sent a picture of me with her last week 🙂

Wednesday we had a good evening with the Clemons. Edie is our super missionary enthusiastic friend and Allen is in “reduced participation” with the church, as he puts it. We love them both!!! We had a self reflection lesson of things we honestly believe, things that cause us to doubt, and moments of spiritual peace in our lives. We each wrote about this for 15 minutes and then shared our thoughts. It was cool for me….this is what I did a couple years ago when I was having a harder time with the church, I wrote it all down and it helped me sort out where I honestly was. Writing this time helped me see how far I have come!! Not that a whole lot has changed, just that I have found new ways of looking at things and found greater stability. There will never be a time in our lives where we won’t have questions but we find out what works for us, what is meaningful in our lives, and then we can decide we’re here for the good parts.

This was honestly a great week, we have had so many members go out with us and been able to go out and visit more people. Oh and 4 of our friends who are investigating the church came to church yesterday!! We had a great lesson yesterday in the Bryce’s home with 2 of their family members’ friends, both of the girls (16 and 20something) haven’t grown up in very religious environments but they have been coming to church with the Bryce’s….Tara had never prayed in her life so we started there and at the end she said the closing prayer! and tonight we are having a lesson with Annie again at the Christiansen’s. Love all the friends I am making every week and the difference they make in my life. I have been working on a new attribute every day with my companions and it has helped me have a greater desire to change and have a softer heart. D&C 12:8.

Ok gotta go!! I will send pictures of us in the Smoky Mountains 🙂 it was an 11 mile loop with tons of old log cabins and barns that have been preserved. We also got to go inside of this old Methodist church built in 1902. Love the history of this area!! P.s. 10 more
days…..y’all be excited!! 😉

Sent from my iPad

January 12, 2016

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This will be short!

This week was a good week, we are finally getting a little busier and have more appointments to bring members to. We went out with Sis Rainey (RS president) one night to drop in on a potential investigator named Kathy who is Unitarian. That was a fun one! They are a church with people of all different beliefs (God, no God, Buddhist, Christian, all sorts of diverse beliefs) and they get together and do service and their goal is to help everyone with their own spiritual journey. At least that’s how she explained it to us! We had planned to share a portion of an Uchtdorf talk with them, and it actually went perfectly with what we were talking about, loving others and loving ourselves despite our differences. I shared how I don’t know everything but my belief in Christ and God has brought me strength and peace, and asked if they wanted to have us come back and share our beliefs. She said no but she did say she would check out our church service sometime! They are actually 2 churches up the road from our own church building. The cool thing from that lesson is that we really felt like the 17 year old daughter in the room felt the Spirit as we shared our thoughts together.

We started teaching our Ward Mission Leader’s son’s girlfriend Annie! The son is on a mission. We have already met her several times and she is super sweet and fun, she wants to learn more about what Austin is doing on his mission. We talked about faith, how God speaks to us through the Spirit, and started the Book of Mormon with her. It was nice to have a lesson in a member’s home!! A ton less distractions, and the Christiansen’s have a good feeling in their home. I haven’t gotten to do that a lot on my mission.

Last cool thing, we decided to send an email to the ward council Saturday afternoon telling them 5 appointments we have set up for the following week. Also sent them a picture of us with a dog. And they loved it!! Bishop Kah had everyone open it up in ward council and we spent the whole time going through the email and talking about who could go with us to the appointments. They want us to do that every week, it seemed to make ward council go a lot smoother.

Oh and today is PDay because yesterday was Zone Conference. They made the departing missionaries bear their testimonies and I didn’t really want to but I did anyway. I am grateful for the way my mission has taught me to visit the lonely and empathize with those in pain. I think a lot differently about people than I used to………through my own painful experiences that have ended up to be a big blessing in doing this work.

Love you all!! Don’t forget to say your prayers;)

– Sister Hale

4 January 2016

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Hello everyone, It has been a pretty good week! Sorry I haven’t written in a few weeks, I didn’t have the energy but today I will make up for it!

So Christmas happened and that was really fun! We went caroling with our district a couple times and with some families in the ward. The best part of the season was Christmas Eve, a couple ladies in the ward had us deliver Christmas presents to another family. Totally made my day to be the deliverer!! She was so grateful!!!
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New Year’s Eve was a fun day, we got New Year’s stuff at Walmart so at Subway’s after District Meeting we had sparkling cranberry juice in shot glasses and took a picture with party hats on. AND as a result, a less active member happened to see us and thought it was funny, so she came and talked to us for a while. And now the Farragut missionaries get to go see her and her family!! Moral of the story: be a fun person and God will use you in creative ways!
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This week Sister Skinner has been sick. Oh! And we are in a trio now. Sister Beckstead is with us (we served together in Waynesville). So a few times this week, I went out with a member while Sis Beckstead took care of sickly Sis Skinner. One night I went out with Sister Griffin (mission president’s wife) and we taught Christine and Jorge about the Sabbath Day. That was a fun lesson, and I remembered that I like teaching, even though it is challenging. I realized that the hard thing about missions and why I don’t like it sometimes is because we try to teach so many people who don’t really want to be taught. They love us (most of the time) so that is nice and I am grateful for the many people I have met here. Many will be lifelong friends. But it is hard! I think about the times I really love to teach, and it is when the person wants to learn and be taught. Wow this sounds so obvious when I try to write it out. But basically I get down because I feel like I don’t want to teach anyone about the gospel and Christ anymore, but I’ve realized that’s not because something is wrong with me, it’s because I want people to want this but it is rare for someone to have a desire to learn and study and grow. When they DO have that desire, it completely makes my day/week/life!!! I remember teaching the Mendiola family in Athens and the first few lessons there were so powerful because everyone in the room was hungry for the gospel, they wanted to learn and understand, they studied and came up with ideas and questions between our lessons. Same with Kay Hebert who ended up getting baptized. So there is obviously a lesson here for me I am sure…..I need to be more teachable myself; maybe when I go to church and sit there impatiently or distractedly, or resist the people and the words, it is because there is something I’m not willing to admit to myself or change. Gotta let go of that in order to move forward.
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It has been wonderful to be in this ward. I am grateful I stayed another transfer because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have come to another area and met all my new friends! I have seen so many cool things through my trial of being sick/stressed/down where I have been able to recognize others who feel the same and hopefully help them in some way. I like this talk [https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2009/04/none-were-with-him?lang=eng], I remember reading it a while back with a girl close to my age who didn’t realize all that the Savior went through in order to be able to empathize with us, she was really impacted by that talk. It makes me grateful for the trial even though it was an awful 2 or 3 months to go through. Also super grateful that Sister Beckstead is in a trio with us, it has helped me a lot!!
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Ok got to go. Will include a few nice pictures.
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1: Hog-jaw and black eyed peas…mm mmm.
2: close up
3: our trio + Marco
4: Christine our friend that we teach who is almost 95! She worked in Oak Ridge in the 1940s….she is on the front cover of this book! Me and Sister Skinner tracted into her several weeks back.
5: happy new year’s!!!!

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14 Dec….11 days til Christmas!!

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Don’t even know where to start this week….maybe I will tell a story with pictures so refer to them as you read ok?

Photo #1!
So on Wednesday we volunteered to help unload hundreds of boxes of wreaths (Wreaths Across America….that is where they place wreaths on veteran’s graves every December). We made a lot of friends! These are my new friends Tramp and Beast. I’m going to join their motorcycle club in 10 years (they said I am too young right now). One of them gave me their card. woohoo! They also took a few “A Savior is Born” cards for themselves and their friends. (p.s. their wives’ names are Lady and Beauty)

Photo #2!

So Friday we had a tri-zone conference with Elder Craig Zwick of the Seventy and Sister Zwick. They both spoke and President and Sister Griffin spoke. Now check this out….this is my favorite part of the day because it was awesome for Sister Skinner. She has been super worried about her mom going into a really long and risky surgery. After the meeting Elder Zwick came and talked to her, and found out about her mom, and said he and Sister Zwick will go visit her in the hospital in Utah and give her a priesthood blessing.  Made her feel a lot calmer. Out of everyone in the room he gives Sister Skinner his cell number and wanted a picture with her too!

Photo #3!

Sister Mickelson and me with our scary mission President…….

Photo #4!
Went on exchanges to Hardin Valley with Sister Parry. We frosted a billion cookies! With Beth and Jeremy. Jeremy has been a member for a long time, the Sisters randomly ran into them and the son got baptized a few months ago. And Beth is working on it! They are super fun and I wish they were in my area.

 
Conclusion!
So apart from this week being an obvious party, it was also one of the worst and toughest of my mission. Kinda hit the point where I felt like I couldn’t do this anymore, and feeling very numb in general. But that is ok because that will happen at many points in our lives, whether it is with missionary work or school or career or any large decision or commitment. We hit a wall sometimes. I know this feeling will go away and it is already much better. There have been a lot of things to help me keep going and this week will be a lot better.
This is from Preach My Gospel chapter 6, Elder Zwick quoted it in stake conference this weekend. “Hope: Hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance. It is believing and expecting that something will occur. When you have hope, you work through trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for your good. Hope helps you conquer discouragement.”
I found these verses this morning in Isaiah:
5 ¶Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
6 I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
Someone taught me this week that “our grown up journey in faith is about finding the Lord going with us through grief as we learn of his holiness. But we, like Nephi and Isaiah, are promised joy ultimately (see 2 Nephi 30-31) if not interwoven with the struggle along the way.” As we read through the scriptures, we see how God is going with us through these things. Sometimes we hit a wall but soon enough God will help us recognize that he is still with us, and if we soften our hearts, He will open our eyes and bring us out of prison and darkness into light.
Thanks everyone for being my friend. Love you all!:)
– Sister Victoria Hale
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7 December, 2015

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This was a crazy week! Tons of good things happening. On Monday, the Christiansen family had us over to share the "A Savior is Born" video with them and their neighbors. We had a good discussion after and everyone shared their thoughts on how the gospel had blessed them, there was a good feeling there. At the end, Sister Christiansen said "These Sisters are always looking for people to teach, would you want to come back and have them share more about the church and the same things our son is sharing on his mission?" And they said they’d like to. We are excited to teach them!!

We have had luck finding other people to teach, too. A lady ordered a Bible online so we brought it to her and asked if we could come back and share a Christmas message….she said yes!…wasn’t there for her return appointment (who ever is?) but we will try her again 🙂

Saturday we had the chance to be in a parade with the Hardin Valley ward and the Elders in our district. President Griffin bought us all santa claus hats to wear and we handed out candy canes with the "A Savior is Born" cards and invitations to the stake Christmas choir devotional next week. We stapled these together, over 300 of them, and ran out about halfway through! So we started handing out normal cards haha. We had a little bit of a setback….apparently they had gotten the float all ready the night before, and then it mysteriously disappeared/ was stolen! so we used the back of a truck to put Mary and Joseph and the manger in. (2 youth were dressed as Mary and Joseph). It was still nice though and kinda symbolic that they didn’t get a fancy inn/ float but a simple stable/ truck.

So the craziest part of the week, I was on exchange with Sister Trommlitz in our area and we had 20 extra minutes before a dinner appt. And by the way the whole day had been awful and no one was home and it was raining. So towards the evening we had that extra time and decided to pull into a gas station and get some gas. We noticed a lady standing there and wanted to go talk to her…..so we did and turns out she was having intense chest pain and needed a ride to the ER, so we were able to do that and stay with her. She was really worried and wanted us to stay with her so we did for 3 hours. She got admitted over night but she is doing better now! It was cool to see how an unsuccessful day was actually just us being led to the right place at the right time to help this lady. We missed our appointment with the

Just remembered other good news…Edie brought us to a cocktail party, woohoo! Edie is in our ward and knows EVERYONE in Knoxville….she is over public affairs for the church in this area and is also a big event planner, so she thrives off making people connect and is great at missionary work, she is always taking us around to meet people. So the party was a "toys for tots" Christmas party that one of her friends put on. We ended up being able to invite a few people to the Christmas program for next week, one or two are planning on coming! (don’t worry mom i didn’t drink anything).

Well even with all the good things going on it is kinda wiping me out…. wish I had Gretchen’s enthusiasm right now! There is so much to do and I feel like I am dragging….. luckily Sister Skinner is patient with me!! How do you apply the things you teach people all day to your own life? That is the question of the week. I did love the Christmas devotional though and it helped some. The promises of the Christ’s gospel are huge and generous but they take willingness on our part to accept God’s will and follow his guidance.

all right gotta go, love you all!

– Sister Hale

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last day of November 2015!

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Fun week! We have been having great experiences with the members in the ward. We have had a lot to do because several members have given us names of nonmember friend and neighbors to try, and we’ve also visited a ton of less active members that have been suggested to us. We went out with a lady Nancy in our ward to go visit people and it was super fun! We accidentally visited someone on the “do not contact” list but it worked out because we both don’t know anything yet so we can get away with more:) Brother Christiansen (ward mission leader) also went around with us to bring ice cream pies to a couple members and a couple of our friends we are teaching.

We had a great lesson with Jorge and Christine. They are awesome (also pretty much the only ones who want to be taught right now) and we had a Thanksgiving-y lesson. President Uchtdorf gave a talk about how the blessings God wants us to have are like rain showering down all around us. We just can’t always see that because we are holding up an umbrella……….an umbrella of doubt, fear, and sin. I think I’d add apathy to that as well. Through the gospel we learn to close that umbrella and remove the things that cause us to feel distant from God’s love. Christine had the idea of all of us thinking of something we can do to recognize our blessings more. So this week we are all trying to love and appreciate our families (/mission companion), have meaningful morning prayer, and smile more 😀

Every other Wednesday we go help at the Bishop’s storehouse here in Knoxville…… along with a dozen other missionaries (mostly elders) who get a little weird when they are all together….it’s a little hazardous. One of them injured me but don’t worry it’s scabbing over, I’m ok 🙂

On Thanksgiving we went to the Christiansen’s! They are my favorite. They had some cousins over too. Sister Christiansen goes all out and made everything picture perfect and even had music in the background. So delicious. Then they introduced us to their zipline…..perfectly safe Thanksgiving activity right?. We were so glad they invited us because we weren’t sure where we were gonna go until Sunday. Felt very spoiled. And they are planning an FHE for tonight with their neighbors and want us to share the Christmas video (christmas.mormon.org) and a message so we are excited for that.

Sunday was wonderful! We have a great ward council, we spend a lot of time talking about visits……who was visited in the past week, who we want to visit in the coming week. Very helpful and it made us feel good that we have been able to meet a lot of members and that good things are happening! We taught Relief Society class yesterday about ward unity…..that topic always comes up in my head whenever I’m asked to teach or speak and it must be important because it always goes super well and brings a good feeling to the room. The ladies came up with ideas and ways to help each other and be welcoming and reach out to people in the congregation that they don’t know as well.

Through the many tracting/door knocking adventures we had this week (we have no one to teach and are getting desperate haha) my favorite was this lady named Sheila that we met. We were going to contact a referral that a member gave us, and they wanted us to act like we just happened upon them, so we figured we better talk to 1 or 2 people before we “happened upon” this family. So Sister Skinner chose the house with the most Christmas decorations and there we met Sheila. Before we left that morning for some reason I had the thought “family history” come into my head……and so I grabbed a family history card (which we rarely if ever use) and stuck it in my Bible just in case. When we met Sheila she said “Oh, we have been talking about the Mormon church a lot in our house lately. I’ve been doing a lot of family history and I’m descended from Lucy Mack’s brother Daniel.” Lucy Mack Smith is Joseph Smith’s mother, who wrote a book about her son Joseph. We asked if we could bring over stories from that family and she said we could! So that was a fun little coincidence. Then we contacted the referral and that didn’t pan out but because the member gave us that referral, we were able to talk to Sheila so it was worth it:)

All righty running out of time, talk to you later!

– Victoria

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