December 29, 2014.

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I feel like I have way too much to say for the little amount of time I have left. Ah!

Mason told me what Christmas gifts he got, "a grabber claw thingy for when I’m too lazy" sounds like the perfect present for him, haha.

I am working through reading people’s emails right now. I’m happy for the kitchen! it looks great! That is an awesome pic with Elder Babbitt and Elder Mumm, momma.

That was a fiasco skyping everyone but I was really glad it worked out to face-time the older kids and grandma!! I loved seeing everyone’s faces and hearing your voices. Christmas morning we woke up at 6 am to open presents and I loved the Oakley water!! my companion thinks I’m a freak haha.

I opened up to Sister Mickelson about my bad attitude and the things that are hard for me, haha. And I feel better already! I am trying to have fun on days that are hard and have a good attitude while I’m out here. I think I’m being a better companion at least, just by being happier and funner.

On Friday we had a lesson with the Mendiola family and the dad joined in this time! Twist in the story, now it is him that is willing to come to church but Sis Mendiola feels she needs more time to study before she comes. This is the family that the 24 year old son found a Book of Mormon/Doctrine and Covenants/Pearl of Great Price triple combination and has read most of it all. The family hasn’t gone to a church in years because they feel no one teaches the truth. So Sis Mendiola is still hesitant about coming.

Joel Jr. (he’s 11) told us about a dream he had that he was in a place and saw a "good temple" and went in there and he felt really amazing, and there were a bunch of "old people, like ancestors" and one looked like his grandpa. A couple weeks ago we were telling Sis Mendiola about confirmation/receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and she told us she had had a dream a couple days earlier that she walked into a room and there were people there and a man laid his hands on her head and blessed her. I really want this family to be baptized. There are so many things that they have been prepared for. They love us lots and love us coming over to teach. And this is what they are looking for.

Ahh there is this lady we love named Kay Hebert. Her husband is already a member and she will be baptized soon. They came to church yeasterday! They were all excited telling us they had done some family research and Kay has a great great grandpa who was a member of the Quorum of the 70, she didn’t even know she had Mormon roots. Then Brother Cole gave a talk on family history so it fit perfectly.

We contacted a referral yesterday named Aaron Taylor…he’s a pretty intelligent guy who is Christian and studying Israelite lineage and Hebrew and he came across the church website and ordered a Book of Mormon! that is neat. I hope we get to teach him more.

I am sure there are other things I am forgetting to write but we have nothing to do today except read and rearrange furniture (stranded in Madisonville) so I may actually have time to write to people today. We bought a ton of those Christmas cards, cute how we thought we’d have time to send them all…

All right I love you all and will try to send pictures some day too! Happy 2015!!!!!!!!!!!!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

– Sister Hale

victoria.hale @myldsmail. net

Sister Victoria Hale
11320 Station West Drive, Suite 101
Farragut, TN 37934

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December 22, 2014…..merry merry merry Christmas!

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This will be short today! Because nothing happened this week! haha.

I got sick on Wednesday and we were out for 2 days, I don’t really remember Thursday happening, but we were well enough on Friday to go to Christmas Zone Conference, which was a really fun day. We had some training and did skits by district and then everyone played dodgeball while I sat in the sick corner and last but not least we got to watch a movie!!!! A real one!!! (well kinda real….Frozen!!!) President and Sister Griffin also had some TKM hoodies made for all of us.

We have a good week ahead of us, full of park days and macaroni because we’re out of miles and money. haha. But really, we are excited for Christmas and have places to be on Christmas Eve and Christmas and it hasn’t been as hard to teach during this time of year as expected.

K fambam, I will talk to you on Thursday. Love you all! πŸ™‚

– Sister Hale

December 15, 2014

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Thanks Dad for reminding me BYU basketball exists, maybe I didn’t need to know they lost to Utah though. 😦 😦

"How is Athens?" you people ask. I will tell you how it is. Basically the same as La Follette in a lot of ways, really spread out area, and the ward is about as big as the branch was. But let me tell you, we are teaching some amazing people right now. I will share real quick what happened at the beginning of last week. On Sunday it was really weighing into me that I want to be changed by my mission…I want to be pure, I want to have charity, I want to be genuine, that is what I was fasting for. I saw immediate results not only in the way I personally felt as I went into each lesson, but it seemed like me and Sister Mickelson were truly able to teach to the needs of the people. Monday and Tuesday we had lesson after lesson of big turnarounds, 2 ladies in particular started out each of their lessons saying something like "You girls are really sweet and nice and I appreciate what you do, but I’ve been doing studying this week and we just believe SO differently, and friends have been telling me things, I just don’t want to listen anymore." By the end of each lesson we were able to turn it completely around and help them see we were normal people, clarify some concerns and misconceptions, and understand a little better how our message is centered in Christ. And we got return appointments instead of getting dropped. I know my worthiness affects my teaching. I am so often distracted and not focusing on the person in front of me, and I end up teaching well but not effectively. I HATE rambling, I hate talking and talking, even when I am teaching well, if I’m not teaching to people’s needs. I love when I am able to ask, wait, listen, and discern. To truly help people connect with God, themselves, or a principle or doctrine that changes the way they see things. That is my joy. I love this lady named Mary Copeland, after about 5 minutes of the lesson she said "Girls, I just don’t know what you’re saying and I don’t think I’d ever become a Mormon." She wanted us to leave but we started asking questions and realized she didn’t feel like she understood what the Bible says. We read from John 14 and talked about the nature of God and our potential as his children and who Christ was. By the end of the lesson she said "Girls, you have helped me understand so much today, let me tell you, ever since we met last week I have learned so much and it’s been awesome. I guess that was kinda rude saying I’d never be Mormon." haha. I’ve just KNOWN, deep down, that somewhere, beyond La Follette, there were people who weren’t on drugs who would listen to us.

Thanks for sending the picture of Christy teaching, what a foxy professor art history lady. I’m excited to here how Ryan’s baptism goes!

I was able to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting on "Discover the Gift" from christmas.mormon.org. I talked about the many gifts that come through the central gift of Christ… a lot of things we can discover, or rediscover. I was kinda fascinated by the definition of discover: to arrive at through search or study. Do we need to discover/rediscover the gift of peace? The gift of the Spirit in our lives? The gift of repentance? The gift of healing in our homes? The gift of purity? Do we need to discover or reclaim faith, innocence, love, joy, the blessings of the Priesthood, or the temple, or the many gifts offered through the Restoration of the gospel? We can seek after all the best gifts, offered through the gift of the Savior, and arrive at the peace and power and strength and contentment and purity we need.

We had a Half-Mission Conference and Elder and Sister Renlund of the 70 came. They both spoke and we all loved them a lot. Pres and Sister Griffin spoke as well. I am gonna start looking at my weaknesses differently. They are just reminders to lift our heart to God and get extra help. I need a lot of reminders to pray so it’s a good thing I have a lot of weaknesses.

As long as we let prayer be the reflex to our weaknesses, we can change. I feel like I’ve changed. I’m not sure how measurable it is but I know it’s real. I’m grateful for the Christmas season.

Love you all, have a wonderful week! πŸ™‚

– Sister Hale

December 8, 2014…first week in Athens!

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So transfers happened, I’m now living in Madisonville and serving in the Athens ward. My companion is Sister Mickelson from Logan, Utah and she just got done being trained but is a really good teacher. She talks fast and I talk slow so we’re trying to balance each other out, haha.

Transfer meeting was so fun! All the Sisters from my MTC district were there, mine and Sister Lundberg’s companions were both in the training meeting so we got to hang out for a long time. Love her!! My MTC comp Sis Trommlitz is now an Hermana. And Sister Jensen is in my district in the Chattanooga Zone!

I feel like everything is right. Our apartment is nice and the people we teach so far are really cool, there are quite a few who are progressing, which hardly ever happened in La Follette (that’s ok though?), and everything just feels right. So far my first Sunday has worked out a little better than my first sunday in La Follette, no investigators trying to put their arm around me. We had a ward Christmas party on Friday so I’ve had a few chances to get to know the ward already.

Hope you all got a chance to watch the Christmas Devotional! It was cool for me because I’ve been memorizing The Living Christ, so I noticed tons of stuff that was referenced from there or really similar. We watched it at the church building in Athens with some ward members. I liked Elder Christopherson’s thoughts on OUR condescension…we descend below some things so that we can comprehend more things, and so that WE can learn how to succor and empathize and help others. Talks and music broadcast from the promised land, what a blessing.

Ok hope you all have a wonderful week!

– Sister Hale

victoria.hale@myldsmail.net
…
Sister Victoria Hale
Tennessee Knoxville Mission
11320 Station West Drive Suite 101
Farragut, TN 37934

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^Elder Babbitt is home!!

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Pictures… La Follette!

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^Thanksgiving at the Bradneys!

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^Thanksgiving at Sister Winters!

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^ full-time missionary, part-time hog whisperer

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^ Anna Moritz

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^ the Smith clan(:

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^ Elder Searle (left) and Elder Bright (right)…Elder Zachary Searle is from Burley and he’s been the zone leader so he and Sis Hansen and I have been serving around each other for a while. Sis Hansen went home this past transfer!

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^ Francis Kurowicki

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^ Betty Lou Smith

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^ Dotty Anipen! she takes us out all the time, I adore her

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^ Brother Muggridge, branch mission leader!

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^ Kima Smith!!!!

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^ Railey Whitson! We’ve been teaching her for a few months, she is planning on getting baptized in January

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^ KYOTOS!!! my very favorite restaurant.

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^ at June-bug and Una’s! They are the couple we met at McDonald’s.

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^ Jim and Bev Smith, they are hilarious

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^ my friends at the food pantry!

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^This is Wanda and Larry Elam…always taking care of us!

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December 1, 2014…last week in La Follette!

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Thanks for all the pictures of Thanksgiving and Christmas tree adventures and Chana and Donovan and Draiden (they are so cute and I hope they’re still as hilarious!). And Kalan/harper/olive/liana/desmond. And Seth and Rachel’s new baby! Tell them to email me. πŸ™‚ Aww and I just saw the one of Erica and Christian. I wish I had more people’s contact info! Just tell everyone hi and give them a big hug for me.

All right.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The same was in the beginning with God.

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

3 Nephi 13:23. But if thing eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

So, Jesus has just said in this chapter that the light of the body is the eye. Our eyes are how we see the world. If our eyes, or the lens through which we see things, are dark, then everything is dark. With evil or dark eyes, or with a false, misguided, or evil perspective on life, we won’t properly ascertain truth and light. Our view would be clouded, we’d be looking through sunglasses. Still, we’d try to look. And we’d get as close to it as we could with the eyes we do have. Maybe that is why we can look back and wonder why we believed or thought something that now seems wrong or misguided–we were looking through darker or foggier eyes and couldn’t really have believed differently. Christ says, “if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light”–single meaning dedicated, or meaning single to the will of God. If our eye be single, Christ keeps adding more and more light to our eyes so we can see clearer and clearer, or get closer and closer to ascertaining truth through the Spirit, rather than doing the best we can with dark or cloudy eyes. There is a real danger, Christ insinuates, of having darkened eyes–thy whole body shall be full of darkness. In other words, your entire perspective will be mildly to extremely altered from the “truth.” And you wouldn’t be able to tell.

These are my thoughts in relation to the reality that you can literally make yourself believe in anything or have a “spiritual” experience about anything, and why so many people believe in so many different things. Perhaps they believe and feel good about certain things because they’re doing the best they can with the eyes they DO have. ButΒ Christ wants to give us new eyes.

Still, within the Church and among other believing people of the world, our eyes are flawed to varying degrees. They will be for the majority of our mortal lives, simply because we are human. But, if this is all true, there must be moments where Christ gives us the cleansing and the light we need. Or perhaps lets us see through His own eyes. This is the Spirit, this is Love, this is Truth. The more I humble myself and try to do what God wants me to do instead of what I want to do, the more I see and understand through eyes of light. This is why we convert, this is why we believe. I know that purity is so important. Whatever else is true, pure thoughts and pure motives and pure actions are what really allow a person to progress in life. Otherwise we are caught in selfishness and aggression and are separated from God, others, and ourselves.

“Truth lies not in facts alone, but in the meaning we give the facts.” The truth/falsity of different aspects of the church is contested by people who give different meanings to the same facts, not just from the facts alone. We watched the Restoration DVD with a girl named Nakitta this week. After it was over, we asked what she thought of it. She paused and said slowly, “It reminded me of God.” Right after that lesson, we saw a man with a leaf-blower outside of his house, so we went to go talk to him. He said he’d read parts of the Book of Mormon…I asked what he thought, and he said he thought it taught a false gospel and that what we are doing is evil. There is such a drastic difference in the way people receive us just in a single day. On the one hand, what we are doing is reminding people of God. On the other, we are teaching an evil and false gospel. When I am honest with myself and everything I know about church history and the confusions and loopholes, I know that I can handle leaders being imperfect. Of doctrines being misunderstood and later clarified (or still misunderstood?). I can handle the gender balance because I know it is also being clarified and changed. I can be patient and forgiving of these things…although they DO try my patience at times…you all know me(:

Other than all that, the core of my questioning the church has been about Joseph Smith and polygamy. He says he was commanded, and that’s been hard for me. Either he was lying and a creep, or he was deluded and thought he was commanded to live polygamy, or he really was commanded by God to live that law, however well or poorly he understood it, and he did it despite his own desires and with a LOT of faith, with persecutions and mistakes and misunderstandings to follow. Those are the options, and that is the question. I’m still seeking to understand the meanings that give the facts truth.

And then there are all the good things… I KNOW I’m a better person when I read the scriptures. I make better decisions on the days I read the Book of Mormon, end of story. I know prayer changes desires. I know that studying the life and teachings of a perfect person, Jesus Christ, has the power to motivate me and change me. I know that light is good.

Got transfer news, I am leaving Sister Rindlisbacher and La Follette! I will miss everyone here, they have all been so good to me. Brother and Sister Elam gave me a goodbye gift and it was so sweet of them! We also got to eat at the Holler (the Smith’s hollow) last night…that’s the Branch President’s family. I have really appreciated them a lot! They are hilarious and my friends.

I have lots of pictures but will have to post them next week. Love you all!

Sister Hale πŸ™‚