Monday, February 24, 2014

Here Comes The Sun...

we found these outfits in the OLD APARTMENT!!
So what a week!!!!! Wow! Like the title suggests THE SUN is finally coming out!! 

It has been warm the last few days and beautiful. The fresh air and melting snow makes me happy. When we were outside the other day I was remembering the soccer games in the spring - the air smelled the same!!! I loved it and it made me miss those days. 

Exchanges in Presque Isle went great, Sister Drew and I came out together so it was just the newbies figuring things out, getting lost and laughing a ton. She went to Utah State too (she is 21) and she is hilarious. We had a lot of fun together and actually had a really spiritual day. We were able to teach quite a few people and we know that Heavenly Father was helping us because the Spirit testified of our words even though we are imperfect teachers. It was wonderful to see the recent converts and their faith - it truly built my own faith. The light of Christ was shining brightly in their eyes.

Then moving and packing - harder maybe than the bike ride to crazy horse (in S.Dakota)......
We moved to the third floor of the apartment building across the street. Yes the third floor and carrying that heavy stuff up those stairs was definitely a challenge. Sister Lewis and I were laughing too hard half the time to carry anything because it was such a struggle for us..Luckily the Elders were there so they helped A TON! I am still extremely sore though..I also fell down a whole flight of stairs - in front of everyone - so much fear in my eyes (and theirs) what a sight. I was embarrassed and my arm hurt after that hahahahahhahahaha
Anyway, the new place is beautiful! It is so much cleaner and nicer. We are very lucky! And it doesn't smell like smoke or other drugs (well the hallway still does but it's ok). We are still working on unpacking but it's fun to make it our own - feels a little bit more like home. We had to go back and clean out the other apartment though - that was gross to say the least. I don't think it has been clean since the thing was much dust and stains and spiders but we laughed the whole time and got huge headaches from the bleach. It was great!! So my new address is 181 Parkside Drive #32, Fredericton New Brunswick, E3B 5L7 (L not B now) CANADA <3 

Now to transfers!! Yes I am staying here in Fredericton which I am excited about. There is much to be done! However, Sister Lewis is going back to Moncton (her first area) to speak French!!! She is excited and I am happy for her. She will do great, I will miss her though. She taught me a lot and we got along really well. My new companion has been out since September and is just coming off the rock (Newfoundland). Her name is Sister Turner and she is from Alberta. She is tall and blond and played basketball in college. Woot woot! She seems so great and I am really excited to meet her!!!

This week I have been studying 

It is a remarkable topic and something I have really needed to work on. Patience with myself, with the Lord, with the people, and with my area. I was reading in Hebrews and I received so much strength from the 12 chapter verses 1-3..LOOK IT UP!! I love how it says "let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking forward to CHRIST - the finisher of our faith." This life is a race, we know how to run but sometimes the finish line seems like it will never come. DON'T STOP..even if some days all you can do is walk or crawl, DON'T QUIT - there is help along the way and hope and light at the finish line. Christ endured everything for think of him - his life, his love, his light and his sacrifice next time you feel weak and exhausted - when life is stretching you to your limits - and patiently endure. That is when we see the blessings, that is when we know we are LIVING. 

Heavenly Father answers my prayers. He knows my weaknesses and is helping me overcome them. He is making me happy and testing me because he knows how strong I can be. 

He loves us. He wants us to be patient so he can bless us for BELIEVING. 

Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for helping me and encouraging me along the way. I love you all - forever

Love, Grace

PS: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO EMMA AND HANNAH THIS WEEK!!! Love and miss you both so much. Hope your day is unforgettable. I got several letters this week from Will and Olivia and Jake and Sara and David's baptism invite and Callie May 
...and a package from my aggies!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!! 
TWO months this week. Can't believe it's real. BYE BYE

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"The cold doesn't bother me anymore...."


This week YES we were hit by the storm and it is still FREEZING but we had fun. The snow is this weird powdery type and with the crazy wind here (that literally doesn't stop blowing) snow is constantly just slamming into your face. It's funny. We got to dig our car out for church and the snow came up to our knees. We laughed a lot..and we made it safely to church. Along with 14 other members!! It was such a blessing that we were still able to take the sacrament and then we had a short testimony meeting before everyone went home. It was powerful - the spirit was strong among the few members who were there. I bore my testimony about a few scriptures I have been reading lately (D&C 6 - last couple verses and D&C 50:40 and 41 or around there, sorry) about how Heavenly Father never wants us to be afraid. That because of the Atonement we can overcome our fears and weaknesses and we can find peace and strength. I love that reminder.

Dad asked me to share a little bit about the ward - usually there are about 95-100 who come to church each week. They are amazing and I have truly grown to love and respect them. Most of them are converts, each with such profound stories about how they found the church. I love hearing them. It is amazing to recognize how real God's love is for each of us. Again, he is so mindful of all that we do and he truly prepares his people. Many of the younger families are military families who live in Oromocto (about 15 minutes outside of Fredericton) because there is a military base there. Most of the members do not live near the church but they come - to activities and church and they are all working very hard to feed us - it is SO sweet. 

I think that my whole life I have taken for granted the fact that church is only a few streets from our house and the fact that all of my friends attend with me. Here it is much different, their testimonies have to be so strong because their situations are much more difficult than mine was. 

One member (convert) told Sister Lewis, "there comes a point of no return..when it doesn't matter how hard it is to make it to church, no matter if everyone hates me or is mad at me, no matter what is going on in my life - i will go to church, I will follow the teachings of the gospel because I am past the point of no return. I will not turn my back on what I know for any reason."

Isn't that amazing? ..they are all funny and a little weird and so loving. They have really taken me in. I will always remember them. 

Yesterday since we couldn't actually get to the doors of any of the homes..the snow was piled too high..we decided to go shovel finding!!! We went with the elders and shoveled as many driveways as we could. It felt good to be serving in that way. We were working hard and having a lot of fun. 

I received a letter from dad this week and he told me about a statue of Ghandi that has this message engraved at the bottom - 
I love that. It is so simple yet so powerful. Dad said, we should all strive to live our lives so there is no question what our message is..that we are disciples of Jesus Christ. So true. As a missionary, that kind of is my life.. but I still could be better. I want people to simply look at me and KNOW..that I am a representative of the Savior of the World. Thanks dad, ILU.

Thank you for your prayers - I need them and I can feel them. I know that we will find an investigator soon. I know that when we find them that Heavenly Father will send another trial my way and I can't wait - I love every chance I have to become stronger. To draw closer to my Savior and become who HE needs me to be. 

Sorry this is scattered and crazy!!! We don't have much time today but I love you and am so thankful to have you all in my life. You are always in my prayers. I hope Will is on his way to recovery - I am so sorry for him. I hope you had the best time in Las Vegas and enjoyed the sun because I miss it!!!!! My hair is dark...and my skin is white but its ok!!! My eyes are still bright :) I miss those tournaments .. I miss soccer ..and lucy. Cute jake. I have now received two letters - THEY ARE THE BEST THING OF MY LIFE. He is soooo sweet and thoughtful and kind. 

This coming week is going to be awesome and BUSY! We are planning to drive to Maine tonight for exchanges and then we are moving into our new apartment on Friday!!!!! Yayayayayay and transfers are next week. Can you believe it? Time is moving too fast and I have too much to learn so I am striving to make the most of every minute that I have - I don't want to leave with any regrets. 

Love, Sister G

We had a Valentine's Party for the Ward!!

Freezing in the CAR!!
Sister Lewis and I built and little snowman and brought him inside!

Snow and Sunsets...the cold doesn't bother me anymore....

Monday, February 10, 2014

Service with a half smile...


SO this week I guess I need to be better at giving details so I will try!!!

P-day is always awesome but it is about as stressful as all the other days - so much to get done so little time!!! But it is nice to have a slight change in the schedule. We usually: 
  • buy groceries 
  • do laundry
  • clean
  • try to write letters when there is time..
Tuesday we drove with the Hendrickson's to St. Stephen (almost two hours) for district meeting. It is fun to get together with other missionaries in our little district. Our district leader - Elder Diodati, is the greatest! He is so kind and encouraging. He let us teach his investigator because we have yet to find our own (saaddd). The lesson went really well. The investigator has given up smoking and absolutely loves the Book of Mormon. We taught him some commandments and he really understood everything and was very sweet. Even though I haven't seen it fully for myself (except the personal change in me).. I know the gospel changes people. It is powerful to witness those simple miracles..
Later in the week Sister Lewis went to Moncton for a leadership conference..I didn't get to go but I stayed here in Fredericton and went on exchanges with Sister Doherty (her comp went with sis lewis) that day was quite an adventure!! 

I got to drive the car - woot woot and it's fun to realize how well I actually know my little area. Fredericton is start to fall in love with every detail of it - the good the bad, the weird and gross and the beautiful parts - Anyway we started by going to a ward member's house to help her with some cleaning. Let's just say I had no idea what I was in for...
Service with a half smile... 
is the best I could do to describe it. Anna is about 22 and she basically takes care of her parents and older brother. She is very nice so when we got there she fed us two large sausages, noodles cooked in maple syrup and this weird drink filled with pulp and goo (it was very sweet and a little hard to swallow). Her little apartment was filled with cat hair and dust and bins..the neighbors place had been infested with bugs so we were cleaning to make space for the people to spray...I wish i could do a better job of helping you picture what I saw..I kind of felt like I was on that tv show hoarders. We opened bins and went through them throwing everything away that Anna felt she could let go of...which was basically just the spiders, old candy, ripped paper, hairballs and broken I don't even know what they were. You know how I felt about cleaning out nana and papa's old storage unit (no offense I love you nana and papa - SO MUCH)..yeah I felt like that again but worse. I felt so bad, I wanted to help and I tried my best but that stuff is just hard for me. We laughed a lot along the way. I was half smiling to myself pretty much the whole time. 

Ohhh the things I am doing :)

That day just kept getting better. One lady we knocked into told us that we chose a VERY bad time, she had just come home from the hospital after a heart attack and was not allowed to breathe the cold air!!!!! 
I QUICKLY apologized and shut the door. Poor lady. 

The next house we came to a guy was literally just chillin' out his open window. We walked up and started talking to him..we were looking for his wife who wasn't home so, as we were leaving I asked if I could give him a pass along card..I awkwardly traveled through the deep the window...
and said, "am I going to reach you?"
man, "YES of course"
me: 'ok'..stood on my tippy toes and handed the window guy a card. 

That is about all for now. We are still searching for that investigator. I feel we are on the verge of greatness. Sister Lewis's dad wrote and said, "keep up the good work, things will get better, they can't get worse.." hahaha so true. 

I also got to speak in church yesterday. With the other four missionaries here. It was an inspiring meeting. I really look up to Sister Lewis and the Elders. They all shared profound messages that the ward and myself really needed to hear. I spoke on the plan of salvation and HOPE. I used a lot of things from Elder M. Russell Ballard's book OUR SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS - it is life changing. Sara (Christensen) sent me a few letters and in one of them she talked a lot about hope and what it means for her. I loved it and it really made me think - 

What does HOPE mean to ME?

As I thought I realized, I have hope that the sun will rise tomorrow, I have hope that I can be better tomorrow than I was today, I have hope that even though I fall short my Heavenly Father loves me still, I have hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ - I can always turn to him, I have hope that my weaknesses will be made strong as I live like my Savior, I have hope that I can reach my divine potential, I have hope that I can live with my family forever. I am filled with hope all because of this plan that Heavenly Father has created for us - to help us be happy. To help us return. We are so blessed and so loved.  

Also reading Alma chapter 26 - it was written for me GRACE CAROLINE GOCHNOUR. Can you believe that? I can make it through. I can do this. I love those amazing missionaries in that amazing book.. 

Hope you know how much I love my Savior and the message of hope I get to share with my brothers and sisters. Hope you know I love you and pray for you always. Have the best week. MISS YOU

Love, ME :)

PS - I am so proud of Sarah (Stringham) - I wish her the best of luck this week, she is in my prayers. I bet her talk was FANTASTIC. I wish I could have been there. Tell her I love her. 

PSS...THANK YOU FOR SENDING THE EVERYDAY MISSIONARY BOOK - I was just going to ask for it!!!! Isn't it amazing? - Everyone on earth needs to read it. Thank you SO much!!!

Monday, February 3, 2014

JOY in the JOURNEY!!

Hi amazing people that I miss always, 
I believe that this is what life is all about 
Finding JOY in the journey. 
Finding it again and again every day.  Finding joy on the hard days and recognizing it on the better days.
Heavenly Father didn't send us here to be heartbroken and sad.  He sent us to find PURE JOY!! He even provided the way. All we have to do is listen to his words and follow in His footsteps. It is our choice however, we can choose to be upset or frustrated. We can choose to be hurt or afraid 
But luckily we can also choose to be HAPPY and that is what I've done. I am so happy to be here!

I love the quote by Elder Holland in the Mormon message titled, 
Good Things To Come  
he says, "Don't you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don't come until Heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, THEY COME. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come."

That is powerful and that is what I am striving to do  
fully embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ.
SO when I slip on the ice several times, landing on all fours with my hat covering my eyes and my scriptures flying away 
I just laugh..HARD (bless my heart)
When the snow starts to melt and large puddles of dirty water form on the side of the road - and cars drive by too close..attempting to spray us - we laugh.
When someone walks to the door, turns on the lights, peers out and WAVES (I waved back) then turns the lights off and walks away  
we laugh..mainly because we feel so awkward for them.

But it's all part of the journey and it's so much better to choose joy. 
Now its not always easy - it requires a lot of faith, patience and hope BUT nobody said it would be easy - they simply said it would be worth it. So give it a try..

These are my 5 word phrases for the week:
Find joy in the journey 
Have the courage to try!!!!

With that said - I got two packages this week!!!! Best week ever. I am getting a little sick so I drank an airborne this morning (DISGUSTING BUT HELPFUL) and I absolutely love everything in them. 

It is like you read my mind - they were full of all the things I was thinking I needed and wanted. They were perfect. Mom, thank you for telling me the story about Paul, I love the faith of the prophets of old. They were so bold. So sure of themselves and the message they were sharing. They were unshakable - I admire that.

Also I would love mission stories from dad, the boys, and papa (ANYONE!) Sara sent me Adelide's letter where she told a story about papa - it meant a lot to me being out here so I am dying to hear more!! Papa is an amazing story teller. 
Also I ate fish last night!!! 
Yep, we had a dinner appointment with a darling couple and then broke our fast on FISH!! Thought I would miraculously enjoy it..but I couldn't - I simply chewed and swallowed and ate as much of it as I could. I survived though so everything is GOOD.

It has been warming up a little bit which is CRAZY, Fredericton is beautiful and tiny. We got to go to the bridge the other day - crossing over the frozen water..the sun about to set. That was breathtaking

I'm going to find someone to teach this week - I know it!! Thank you for loving me and supporting me. Thank you for leading by example. Thank you for teaching me to choose the right. I love sharing the Gospel - 

I kind of like going out of my comfort zone?.....but I LOVE how much I am learning and growing. Miss you all SOOO much. A package is coming your way soon. Have the best week 

...and remember to choose JOY.

Love you!
Love, GG