November 24, 2014

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I’m sick! πŸ™‚ Yesterday was sooo boring. We went home after Sacrament Meeting, I forgot how boring it is to do nothing all day. And I’m a lil better today so hopefully by Thanksgiving I’ll be able to taste food. We have 2 dinner appointments that day so we’ll get taken care of πŸ™‚

One day, a few weeks ago, we went to McDonald’s to try to talk to someone, so we used our leaky tire as a conversation starter. We met "June-bug" and Una, an older couple who eat at McDonald’s literally every night…but June-bug happened to have a brother who owns J.R. Tires (we later went there and got our tire fixed for free!). That first night with June-bug and Una, we just kinda talked to them for half an hour and gave them a card, and when we came back a week later, they waved us over with huge grins and told us to sit with them, and said they’d been telling their friends about us and that we’d been on their minds. June-bug loved the card we gave him, the one of Christ coming to ancient America, so we gave him a Book of Mormon and he invited us to come by their house anytime. We’ve taught them the Restoration and read from the Book of Mormon a lot…June-bug said he’d read and pray about it! It was hard for him to say that, he’s been Baptist his whole life.

We had an awesome dinner at the Elams with Judge Herman! Judge is a big Abraham Lincoln fan, he has books and souvenirs and Lincoln stuff all over his house, so when he saw a book at the Elams with that name on it he got excited…haha it was "Abraham Lincoln and Joseph Smith." He must’ve been scratchin his head about it because halfway through dinner he said, "I wonder why there’s a book about Abraham Lincoln and Joseph Smith." Brother Elam offered to lend it to him and he said "If you don’t mind!" and took the book. The heavens have aligned! haha. I remembered how Elder Ruth gave Judge a blessing a week before Evelyn died, saying that as he listened to the message the Sisters had, he’d come to know his potential as a child of God and have greater peace. So I’ve been reminded how we need to be brave and teach Judge!

Too congested to remember what else happened this week…I’ve been thinking about energy. Like, my biggest excuse in life that allows me to be lazy is that I don’t have energy. I’m too tired to get anything out of my studies, I’m too tired to pray, I’m too tired to be obedient, etc. Then I wondered….is energy a choice? So my goal for the week/month/life is to choose energy over apathy! boom.

Okay hope you all have a good Thanksgiving! Play basketball! and football! and chess!

– Sister Victoria Hale

November 17, 2014

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Happy birthday Uncle Steve! 50????? And Christa! We’re 22!!!

I’ve been meaning to say this, I’m able to read missionary blogs, so yes I look at mine sometimes and can see the comments you all have made, I just can’t reply on the site. (so Gayla Steve Jerry Mom Uncle Brian….and anyone else….hi!)

So it was my birthday yesterday! And I’d have to say I’m a very blessed person. I got Dad’s stuff earlier in the week and was really confused by the gloves…I had 2 theories, 1) he sent me and Jillian the same kind of gloves but accidentally mismatched them, 2) wearing mismatched gloves is the hipster thing to do and I have a super hipster diddly whack mack Mormon Daddy. I went with Theory 2 all week and showed everyone my hipster gloves with pride. Now that I have the other pairs to both gloves, I just don’t think I can match them up. Oh and I liked the Snoopy musical card… I kinda started using it as an exercise DVD. And yes momma the skirt fit perfectly, you’re a magic sewing angel goddess, thank you!

Lots of members were really nice to me for my birthday too, old Mr. Bilyeu remember it was my birthday and gave me some diamond earrings that his wife never opened, and we had an amazing Thanksgiving dinner meal appointment at Charlie and Cedell Riggs (Cedell is the sister of Wanda Elam that you’ve been talking to, Mom and Dad). We dropped in on Judge and he had a card and a gift certificate for me! So I had a good birthday without even trying too hard. Thank you everyone!!

Ok on to business. On Thursday we were walking around and found a man from Burley, Idaho! Then we met his wife, who I realized I met at the food pantry once…she’s Marianne Bohon and worked with Marion Wadsworth I think? They let us in their house and we talked for an hour and left a Book of Mormon with them, it was fun to talk to someone from home.

I guess one of the biggest things I learned this week was from President Smith. He was telling me about a lady in his ward who was trying to quit smoking. She said “Trey, what’s something that when you see it, you have to have some of it?” He said “Butter pecan ice cream!” She said “Give it up.” him: “For how long?” her: “Well how long do you want me to give up smoking for?” …and he suddenly realized how hard it was to say “Forever.” That impacted him so much that since that time, he doesn’t eat butter pecan ice cream. He’s slipped up a couple times, but that experience stuck with him and he doesn’t eat that ice cream anymore.

I also wanted to share what Thomas B Griffith has suggested as a way to gain or deepen a testimony of the Book of Mormon:

1) Study carefully the four gospels. There is a power that comes from reading what the first Christians had to say about Christ. 2) Study carefully 3 Nephi 11 — 28. The visit of the Risen Lord to the people in the Book of Mormon is the highlight of the record. 3) Study the Acts of the Apostles. 4) Study Galatians and Phillipians and Romans. 5) Study the most recent General Conference Addresses. And if you can, in all this Gospel study, use something like the method Clayton Christensen used in studying the Book of Mormon. Perhaps you know his story. Clay is a hero to my generation. He was two or three years ahead of me at BYU and was generally known as the brightest and nicest person at BYU. That he won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford only added to his luster. Clayton tells a remarkable story about gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon. This comes from a talk he gave introducing the Church and its message to non-LDS students. There is much about this account that amazes me, including the fact that he was a returned missionary at the time:

“I was born into a wonderful Mormon family, and as I grew up I found few reasons to disbelieve the teachings of the church. My parents had deep faith in its precepts, and their example and encouragement were powerful – I believed in my parents, and I knew that they believed the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was not until I was 24, however, that I came to know these things for myself. I had been given a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in England. After I had lived there for a few weeks, far away from the supportive environment in which I had been raised, it became clear that adhering to Mormonism in that environment was going to be very inconvenient. In fact, doing the sorts of things I described in the first part of this essay within the Mormon congregation in Oxford would preclude my participation in many of the things that had made Oxford such a rich experience for prior recipients of my scholarship. I decided, as a result, that the time had come for me to learn for certain and for myself whether Mormonism was true. I had read the Book of Mormon before – seven times, to be exact. But in each of those instances I had read it by assignment – from my parents or a teacher – and my objective in reading it was to finish the book. This time, however, my objective was to find out if it was a true book or a fabrication. Accordingly, I reserved the time from 11:00 until midnight, every night, to read the Book of Mormon next to the fireplace in my chilly room at the Queen’s College. I began each of those sessions by kneeling in verbal prayer. I told God, every night, that I was reading this to know if it was His truth. I told Him that I needed an answer to this question – because if it was not true I did not want to waste my time with this church and would search for something else. But if it was true, then I promised that I would devote my life to following its teachings, and to helping others do the same. I then would sit in the chair and read a page in the Book of Mormon. I would stop at the bottom of the page and think about it. I would ask myself what the material on that page meant for the way I needed to conduct my life. I would then get on my knees and pray aloud again, asking the Lord to tell me if the book was true. I would then get back in the chair, turn the page, and repeat the process, for the remainder of the hour. I did this every evening. After I had done this for several weeks, one evening in October, 1975, as I sat in the chair and opened the book following my prayer, I felt a marvelous spirit come into the room and envelop my body. I had never before felt such an intense feeling of peace and love. I started to cry, and did not want to stop. I knew then, from a source of understanding more powerful than anything I had ever felt in my life, that the book I was holding in my hands was true. It was hard to see through the tears. But as I opened it and began again to read, I saw in the words of the book a clarity and magnitude of God’s plan for us that I had never conceived before. The spirit stayed with me for that entire hour. And each night thereafter, as I prayed and then sat in that chair with the Book of Mormon, that same spirit returned. It changed my heart and my life forever. It was as if I had been looking out as far as I could see toward the horizon, and had been quite satisfied that I could see everything that there was to see. When I undertook to read the Book of Mormonin that manner, however, I discovered that so much more beauty and truth about who we are and what God has in store for us, lies beyond that old horizon. I did not know what I did not know. I love to go back to Oxford. As the beautiful, historic home of the world’s oldest university, the town is filled with students and tourists. To me, however, it is a sacred place. It is there that I learned that the fundamental message of the Book of Mormon is in fact true – that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. It is there that I learned that God is indeed my Father in Heaven. I am His son. He loves me, and even knows my name. And I learned that Joseph Smith, the man who translated the Book of Mormon and organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was a prophet of God in the same sense that Peter and Moses were prophets. I love to return to Oxford to remember the beautiful, powerful spirit that came to my heart and conveyed these messages to me.”

All right, once again thank you for all the birthday wishes and every bit of help that so many people have sent my way. Have a wonderful week! πŸ™‚

– Sister Victoria Hale

p.s.

I have to write down all the weird things people say…
___
“Goodbye, my little Mormon friends!” – guy we talked to for 45 seconds
___
me: “in the early 1800s, there was a young boy named Joseph Smith, who–”
Eddie: (starts cracking up laughing)
me: “What’s funny?”
Eddie: “Oh nothing… but Joseph Smith? Really?”
me: “Yeah…”
Eddie: “It’s just that that’s the name I use for everything, like if I need to make up a name, it’s always Joseph Smith.”
hahaha
___
there’s more (always) but I don’t have time this week, love you all, bye!

pic 1: Marionne and Don Bohon

pic 2: Charlie & Cedell Riggs & me & Sister Rindlisbacher

pic 3: hipster mismatched missionary gloves

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November 10, 2014

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Somehow I spent most of my emailing time writing up a reply to Cormac and now I have t-minus 5 minutes to write everything!!!

First off, I feel a lot better about winter happening now…Bro and Sister Elam from the branch took us to Knoxville and I got a super warm coat!! maybe too warm…but it’s supposed to get into the single digits next week (why??) so I’m prepared.

Our investigator Anna has a baptismal date!! For November 29th. She continues to read the Book of Mormon like crazy and is super amazed by it. Also she thought the Word of Wisdom meant we were all vegetarians and she was even willing to jump on the vegan train, haha. She just needs to cut down on her smoking, right now she is doing 12 a day (cigs, not packs), and she’s willing to try it.

Our investigator Andrea got back with her boyfriend a few weeks ago (nooooo) and was doggin us like crazy, but we found his address and finally got to talk to her!! She will probably continue to avoid us though…sad day. She was doing so good!

Speaking of cigarettes, I am super mad that addictions exist!! We talked to an awesome less active couple yesterday, and the lady joined the church a year ago but stopped coming, and part of it is because she fell back into smoking and feels unclean. I love our Branch President and the way he views everyone. An addiction doesn’t have to mean unclean.

Speaking of so-called “less actives,” I’ve learned a lot about these people. At the beginning of the mission, I thought “How in the world is there a less than 10% activity rate for recent converts? That’s just horrible!! The church can’t be true!!” haha. But I have learned a lot just being in so many people’s homes, where they often suprise me with their testimonies and experiences and the way they live their lives. We want them to join us at church because there is strength in numbers and blessings to be had by all (like the Sacrament), but it’s also humbling to see that their lives are still greatly influenced by their testimonies of the restored gospel. Right now, our branch is making goals to become a ward, and I am excited to see the part each “type” of member will play in that goal.

Okay I will try to be better at writing more next week. Pray every day! Happy Veteran’s Day tomorrow and Happy Jillian’s Birthday on the 13th!! (also I’m almost 22!!!)

– Sister Hale

p.s. a little Tennessee vernacular for you

“It’s pert-neer Thanksgivin!” – President Smith
“The whole nine yards!” – Bro Bilyeu (old people phrase or hillbilly phrase?) (what does it mean??)

victoria.hale@myldsmail.net

Sister Victoria Hale

Tennessee Knoxville Mission

11320 Station West Drive Suite 101

Farragut, TN 37934

November 3, 2014

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I have learned so much this week!

One thing you all should read is Tad R. Callister’s "Blueprint of Christ’s Church" [https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/ces-devotionals/2014/01/what-is-the-blueprint-of-christs-church?lang=eng]. Of course, it is possible to make a "house" with the right blueprint without God’s permission, but if you believe it was with God’s permission, studying this talk is cool because there are a lot of things I hadn’t thought of before. A big one was blessing children… I hadn’t ever thought of why we give babies blessings in church, so it was cool to think about how Christ blessed children.

I kind of have a vision for La Follette, and that is to build on the trust and repect that we’ve gained so far by helping unite the community in their Christian beliefs. I want to go around and invite more pastors to Wednesday morning prayer circle. I want to get to know more of the religious leaders and help us all understand each other better. Last week at prayer circle, Cormac said he thinks there will be a revolution within Mormonism soon, now that the Church is being open with it shistory, and young people will wake up and come to terms with Mormonism vs. Christianity, and it will be wonderful to turn the missionary force into the cause of mainstream Christianity. I told him he was right–there WILL be a revolution within Mormonism (already happening), and young Mormons will see clearly and candidly the history of our church and grow up with stronger testimonies with Christ as their foundation, not with men and leaders. That being said, I do believe those leaders restored the Priesthood and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I told him we could meet with him this week to talk… sent him [http://www.byutv.org/watch/90be2679-e6eb-4039-afa1-fee5477b0c20/new-day-for-the-book-of-mormon-new-day-for-the-book-of-mormon] just for fun. haha. For some reason he thinks I’m supposed to read his anti book without him looking at the stuff I sent him….

Skyler came to church!! We aren’t sure what he thought if it, it was testimony meeting after all….all I know is he was taking notes in a written language that he made up so I couldn’t even cheat and see what he was writing. We finally had a good lesson with him on Saturday. His sister Sydney who is 15 wants to start meeting with us, and she and their mom were listening in and making comments as we read through Moroni 7.

Elder Nelson visited an area of the mission this week… I didn’t see him but he did a ward council role play with the missionaries. He said "once the woman’s voice is equal with the man’s, then will this work move forward." Brother Russell Williams in our ward gave a good talk based on the talk "Are you sleeping through the Restoration?" or something like that… that the Restoration is ongoing, and we need to wake up to certain things. "Wake up and stay awake" was the title of his talk. We need to gain a testimony that the Lord has hastened His work and that the gospel has been restored but that the work isn’t done. We can’t sleep through opportunities to serve, opportunities to grow, opportunities to change. Deliberate change requires work. I’ve seen how my mission has changed as I’ve deliberately worked harder and woken up to certain things. This paragraph has like 3 different directions…but…equality plus an ongoing Restoration plus hard work are all important. haha.

I’ve thought a lot about commandments and obedience lately. Mosiah 5:7-9… is obedience a virtue? Obedience is a willingness to obey, and is a virtue because the one commanding is perfect and the things being commanded are to make us free. "Under this head (Christ) ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free." Obedience to anyone else is probably not a great kind of obedience, because anyone else isn’t perfect. God is not an arbitrary ruler, he is a loving Father who wants us to progress. We are blessed as we obey and that blessing is progression. 3 Nephi 24 talks about tithing…God says "return unto me and I will return unto you" in connection with tithing. We return by paying tithing and are blessed–or we are cursed with a curse. What curse? Anytime God says we will be blessed and saved or cursed and damned that has to do with progression. We are blessed as we pay tithing, and that blessing is progression. We learn sacrifice, trust, self-control, prioritizing wants vs. needs, and a good way to reach out to others who are in need. Or we don’t learn those things, and that is our "curse," a lack of progression. God cares about our progression, not arbitrary rules.

I will talk to you all next week! I’m excited for Blake to join me in Tennessee!! πŸ™‚

– Victoria