February 23, 2015

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This week was similarly cold and wonderful. We found out that Sister Mickelson will be leaving Athens to be a Sister Training Leader on Wednesday and I will be getting a brand new missionary! young and impressionable. I have been waiting for a chance to turn our designated Mormon.org hour into Youtube hour and ……. Jk jk, I am actually feeling very much the areas I need to improve and work harder on, and it is very humbling. I got a blessing from Brother Ward after church and it was perfect for where I’m at. My big weakness as a missionary/in life is that I’m always anxious to get on with the next stage, to go back to school, but I’m here and I need to appreciate where I’m at. The blessing was specific on 2 things I need to do… “You have only to be obedient to the commandments and to let time rest still where it is, so you can listen to what the Lord has to teach you.” I have also found a lot of help in the Doctrine and Covenants. There is so much good stuff for missionaries in there! It’s always talking about those who are called to the work or the ministry, and how they need to purify themselves and repent and walk in obedience and study and be diligent, and then they will be filled with love, their words will be guided, they will be perfected in their ministry, God’s grace will attend them, all sorts of blessings that missionaries really and truly need. I am excited for the new missionary to come to this area, there are a ton of good things in store for her, I know that because I have been so blessed being here as well. I am so grateful for investigators and members alike, they are all awesome. So many of the ladies who go out to teach with us regularly crack me up entirely and just make each day so fun. Missionaries need team-ups not just for their investigators but for their own sanity!

Okey dokey that’s about it, love you all!

– Sister Victoria Hale

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February 18, 2015

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This was a good good week.We have had "inclement weather" aka frozen rain and snow, which means they close down the libraries, which is why today is Wednesday and not Monday. The rain encased our car in ice on Monday so we didn’t really do much, and then the power went out because the rain encases the trees as well and then the branches break on the power lines.

We have seen tons of miracles with the people we are finding and teaching. I wish I could just give everyone my journal!! There is never the time or ability to write everything I’d like to. And missionary work is just so amazing in the way you can’t tell all the stories. You go into people’s homes and learn very personal things about them and have very wonderful experiences but it is hard to share them.

We had an awesome Zone Conference, which is where 20-30 missionaries get together and learn all day. We used to have the goal of "finding" for 12 hours every week and we reported that number…now that key indicator is dropped and President Griffin is really focusing on improving our teaching. We are learning better ways of studying and teaching to meet people’s needs. I am pumped for becoming a better listener and teacher.

I got to talk to Judge on the phone on Monday!! He is driving the La Follette missionaries to transfer meeting next week so it will be awesome to get to see him.

So mostly I wanted to write about yesterday because Elder Christofferson (of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles) came to our mission. He and Elder Suarez (a Seventy) had their flights cancelled, so Elder Suarez didn’t make it and Elder and Sister Christofferson drove 9 hours to get to Farragut. Since they were late, we had a testimony meeting for an hour. So they got there to a chapel full of missionaries who were really excited because of the suspense, and then for the time we had with him we just had a question and answer session. It was awesome. At first, I thought he was taking too long answering each question and kinda felt like he was rambling, but then I realized I just wasn’t listening because everything he was saying was important. I realized he was sharing things that were building on each other. Now I wish I could go back and listen to the first couple questions where I was impatient. A few questions he answered were "How can we reach people who already have faith in Christ?"; "What do we do when people talk about spiritual experiences in other churches, how can we help them accept the Restored gospel when they are satisfied with what they have?"; "What is the most important Christlike attribute for a missionary to develop?" (he talked about Charity); "How can we repent of our sins if we have a life full of mistakes that we can’t even remember them all?"

If I had had time to ask one, I wanted to ask how we can help people who have become disillusioned with the Prophet Joseph Smith or with the church. But he kinda addressed at least our own testimonies of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith in his closing remarks. Oh oh I forgot my favorite thing. When he was talking about charity and how important it is to have the pure love of Christ, he talked about how it is a gift of the Spirit and that we can pray for it, it is something that can be given to us even if we’re not born with it. He said that when he lived in a certain ward, there were people he avoided because he thought they were weird. Then he got called as bishop and the mantle fell on him and he was granted charity, and truly loved everyone. I just love that coming from an Apostle, that it is a common struggle to love people who are different from us but that it is possible if we really strive for it and pray for it and act on it.

He promised us that as we study the Book of Mormon, there wil be light added to us and those we teach will feel what we feel. He told us that as we bear witness of the Prophet Joseph and the Restoration of the gospel that the Holy Ghost will bear testimony of our testimony to us from time to time. He told us that Christ lives and was literally resurrected. I want to grasp these realities more fully. I am so amazed at the Book of Mormon lately. I know it is our biggest tool to our own conversion. As you read it, think about what it teaches you about who Christ is. Who is Jesus Christ? What is Christ’s message to us?

Have a wonderful week. Love you guys! 🙂

– Sister Hale

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February 9, 2015

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Update on the Mendiolas! They made it to church again!! The ward just loves them and feel like they just belong. Sister Mendiola has had some awesome breakthroughs this week. She called us one morning and was reading (or rather, listening to…she’s blind) the story about Nephi getting tied up by his brothers and she had been listening all morning to the Book of Mormon and just kept going on about how she is just so amazed and filled with hope and joy to think that the gospel has been restored and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. She said it hasn’t clicked completely but she feels like it’s coming soon. She also threw this in… “Joel is making pancakes, I think it’s nice for him to know how to cook, now if he goes on a mission he’ll be able to make himself pancakes.” ahh!!! She also says we just need to tell the people we teach to read the Bible and then they’ll understand the Book of Mormon. haha. We have Kathy, Joel Sr. (you said it with an h), Joel (12) (you say it with a j), Sara (13), Andrea (16), and their cousin Brandi (19) all progressing really well. We had a lesson with them last night about each of them getting their own answer. Also they probably watched a lot of anti-videos last night because they had one pulled up when we got there, so that will be fun, but I’m not super worried…I think we prepped them pretty well, and they have already had some really good experiences. We just love them a lot.

There are a ton of good articles in the February ensign! Pull that thing out. There’s a couple on helping ward members/families with disabilities and making everyone feel included and part of the ward family. That is so important. Our 84 year old Caroline was almost in tears yesterday because she couldn’t hear anything in Relief Society. Learning about Kathy’s blindness helped her a little I think…but we all need to be aware of helping everyone be able to learn and feel comfortable!

We went to a Baptist church last night! Sis Mickelson hadn’t ever been to one so she didn’t know how to handle the intensity, haha. I just love being there, especially for the music. We went with a lady named Davette, she is the sweetest lady and she is married to someone completely opposite to her, like COMPLETELY, she goes to church all week and is a nurse and really hardworking and he hunts and fishes and sits around all day. He is really funny, we try to give him a hard time…my goal with them is to get him to go to church with her! (even if it is their church!) She wants him to come so bad. It is just amazing to see the difference in their countenances. Hope we get him there!

Okey doke, have a wonderful week! 🙂

– Sister Victoria Hale

1: Mendiola and Hansen family

2: sistas

3,4,5: Bald River Falls

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February 2, 2015

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This week was joy and happiness!! No matter how well I do at writing about it or how good you are at reading, you will probably not get the taste I want you to get. Also y’all sent me really long emails this week, which is awesome, but which also means I won’t do too well writing about it. but I’ll try!

Mostly, yesterday was just wonderful. But before that, throughout the week we have had some landmark lessons with our progressing investigators. Bro Hebert joined in Kay’s lesson and it helped so much, she trusts his testimony so much and they are really growing together as he prepares to baptize her in the next month or two.

Friday was wonderful. We have been planning a lesson with Jen and Joe, Joe’s a returning member and Jen is taking the lessons…so we’ve been planning on seeing them with Bro. and Sister Ward for WEEKS but it always falls through. This time, we got to the house and Joe’s car was gone…great…but then we had such an amazing lesson with Jen. She was really going through a rough time, and the Wards were so wonderful building her up and testifying of the plan of salvation. Bro Ward gave her a blessing and it was wonderful. I tell you, when we walked in that door I saw a completely different countenance than when we left. There was such a spirit of love in that room, and that girl was shining. I have never seen her filled with that much peace and light.

Right after that lesson, we took Bishop Laing and Sister Laing to a lesson with the Mendiolas. It was AWESOME.

All this is leading to yesterday when we had 8 investigators at church!! Never had more than 2 or 3. Jen and Joe and their 6 year old Marcus came, the Heberts came, and yep the Mendiolas finally came!!! 6 of them!!!! They came to all 3 hours, too!!! There is Joel Sr. and Kathy and their kids Andrea (15) Sara (13) and Joel (11) and their niece Brandi (19). Testimony meeting was dynamite, several people told their conversion stories, starting with Bishop. Then Joel gets up there and bears his testimony. He is the coolest 11 year old I know! Later he said the Spirit kept telling him he had to get up there and he was scared, but as he walked up he felt peace come over him and that the Spirit helped him. He told a story and told everyone they have to stay on the right path and God will guide them. Awesome. We went over last night to see how they liked it. We were nervous with the dad because he’s only joined lessons a couple times, but he loved it and said he felt really good there and that he cried. The girls loved it, Sara said as they learned about their bodies being temples that she really felt the Spirit and that she was clean like a temple building. Sis Mendiola had us sing "O my Father" to her, and just cried and said that everything means so much to her. She is a special lady, a blind mom of 5. It was so wonderful to see how the ward just took the family in their arms. This ward is awesome at team ups so they had SEVERAL friends when they got there. If i ever had to write a book called "how to be an awesome team-up" I would just write about the Athens ward.

Ok gotta go. love you all. God is good!

– Sister Hale

victoria. hale @ myldsmail. net

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