I'M IN AUSTRALIA!!!!!!!
The flight was pretty long....especially because I couldn't sleep due to some crying babies right in front of me :) but all is well! I am almost over the jet lag. Every night I am so exhausted. I lay down and fall asleep within 7 seconds everytime.
So you know the Sister Baker whose blog we read for months? Guess whose companion she is now? Yep, MINE!! HOW CRAZY IS THAT?!
I am in the Narre Warren area and cover the Churchill Ward. Not that that means much to Americans... :) I LOVEit here! We live in a little flat with two other sisters, and it's always a party.
Australia is crazy. From driving on the other side of the road, to having the grocery store in the middle of a mall, many things are very different.
We tract a LOT. Saturday we tracted for 5 hours. The homes in our area are all very small and old, but almost all have cameras by their front doors! THE PLANTS IN AUSTRALIA ARE AMAZING! Everyday I see the most exotic flowers and bushes I have ever seen! Most people here take very good care of their lawns and I am constantly seeing new varieties of plants. And birds!!! Oh my goodness! They make the funniest sounds! There is a type of magpie here that reminds me of a flying skunk! It sounds like a combination of a parrot/lamb. Yep. The majoirty of people whose doors we knock immediately say "Oh I'm busy" and then shut the door. The people of Ausrtalia are quite occupied with their time apparently! But that's okay, we have found a few people who we have made appointments with, and that makes everything worth it :) I can see how missionaries could get very discouraged though. We will knock on 100 doors, and get maybe 2 appointments. But cheerfulness is the key!!!
The diversity in Australia is so cool. Multifariousness to the max! There are so many islanders and asians! On Saturday morning we had to do something at the church, we went inside and the stake basketball tourn was going on. Have you ever seen big Samoan men play basketball??? It's so great!!!! They had loud happy music playing and everyone was just laughing and socializing, and when someone would score, the gym would ERRUPT!! They are such loving, happy people.
People here are ENTHRALLED when they hear i'm from Texas. We were at a family's house the other day and the mom said "are you just terrified everytime you go outside?" hahahahahahahaha! I guess guns are illegal here, so the thought of people being allowed to have guns in america is associated with aboslute danger. Others have asked me if i have seen shootings. You know what else is illegal? Riding a bike without a helmet. Missionaries have gotten $200 tickets from it! You cant get your liscense till 18, and drinking is allowed at 18...weird.
The ward (congregation) here is QUITE a bit smaller than our ward in Texas. Most people were very welcoming to me! By the end of the day I'm pretty sure I had lipstick all over my cheeks from all the women that kissed me. I am afraid that my area is not thought of as a "high baptizing area." It makes my heart ache. But coming into the mission I refused to let that thought effect my mindset. Mindset is key!! I have put up a sign in our flat that says "We live in the highest baptizing mission in Australia!!!" I know that if we increase our faith and dilligence, God will bless us. I am not here to just plant seeds, I want to baptize. On Sunday the msisinoaries taught the 3rd hour with the men and women combined. We talked about how essential it is that the members and missinoaries work as a team. We met a few days before and I expressed to the missionaries ...2 elders and sis baker, the recent sucess of the Carriage Hills ward, and my testimony of the importance of the missionary-member relationship. I told them that we MUST UPLIFT all the auxillaries, and develop a genuine trust. We must feel an URGENCY for this work!!! ....They listened to me!!! our lesson was based off of it) President Maxwell has organized this next fast Sunday the entire mission, both members and missionaries to fast that we will be able to find those prepared to hear our message. Then in a few Sundays, we are having a special sacrament meeting in every ward where everyone brings their nonmember friends. We are hoping to have 125 people invited per ward. Our message to the members was very bold, but full of so much love. A change has to be made if we want success. And a change there will definitely be :) We announced the fast and the big upcoming Sunday, and everyone seemed willing.
Apparently a family from the Churchill ward moved to the Austin Tx stake and EVERYONE asked me if i knew them....can you see if theres any Felts in our stake?? Also, what is Bro wrights first name again?? haha I know I should definitely not already be forgetting things!! Will you PLEASE tell Sis Wright that everyone is obsessed with my watch and I dont know what i would do without it??
I AM SO SOSOSOSOSO THRILLED FOR GENERAL CONFERENCE!!! Family! Before GC, read in Mosiah 2:1-9. Talk about how it relates and let me know your thoughts!! Yall get to watch it a week before us! Everyone send me your fave quotes!
Today a family in our ward took us to a koala park!!!!!! I saw kangaroos and the most darling (And lazy) fat koalas!
I love being a missinoary. It's seriously the greatest. Thank you so so so so much for your prayers!!!
I love you all so much! Or as they'd say here "I love you heaps!" I know that the family is central to God's plan for us, and I'm so grateful for y'all! I know that Jesus is my Savior and Redeemer, and I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.
This picture is from the MTC....Trying to send pics of Australia but i don't know how and sis baker is busy :( next week hopefully!!!
HELLO HELLO HELLO!!!!! (I am typing so fast so i can write a lot!!! )
Holy goodness. I don't even know where to begin. I absolutely ADORE the MTC (Missionary Training Center). People say Disney World is the happiest place on Earth...but they are wrong. The MTC is by FAR the happiest place on Earth. :) I truly have the most wonderful companions in the history of companionship. Yes! I said companionS! Sister Mendenhall is from Mons, Belgium and is darling. She's American, but has mostly only lived in Germany, Belgium and South Korea. Sister Vermeulen is from Johannesburg, South Africa and has THE COOLEST accent I have ever heard. Sometimes it rubs off on me....Woohoo!! She is obsessed with American food and products, and we are constantly cracking up at the things she says. She almost cried yesterday when we told her there are over 7 types of Oreos. I am a part of the smallest distrcict at the MTC. Sister M. was originally my companion but Sister V's comp never showed up!!! And she was from England! I seriously have the most exotic, cultured companionship. When I told Sister V. she is from a cool country, she gasped and said, "You are from the coolest country of all!!!" Ah, SO TRUE. I am humbled when I hear about what she has had to go through in s.a . But we really feel it was meant to be that we were all together. Having a trio can be tough, but we have learned so much. Besides us, there are 4 elders in our district. They are so hilarious and are all 18! We are all going to Melbourne. Speaking of Meblourne....I LEAVE MONDAY!!!!!!!!!!!! (I fly to LAX at 6pm and then on the Melbourne at 1130pm)
I love my district. I love my zone. Guess what? You never know who is going to speak at church...you are given the topic a week beofre, and ANYONE could be called up to give a talk on that. My companions and I are the Sister Training Leaders for our branch!!
We got to go to the Temple today! It was so beautiful. It was a really special expereince being with my companions that I love so much.
A few things I have learned about myself/the gospel:
-I am endowed with POWER from on HIGH! How amazing is that?! I can have power as I live a righteous life.
-I will thing of the next 18 months for the rest of my life....I don't want to remember being homesick or self -centered, or having contention with my companions, or feeling inadequate. I want to remember loving unconditionally, and uplifting every single person I come in contact with.
-I will forget the world and find myself.
-I LOVE the fact that we are called to do things that aren't easy. How else would I ever grow?!
-I need to be alligned with God.
-Repentance is changing our hearts and our vision. It is such a positive thing!! Repentance is not just for sin. It's for growing from better to best. We must EMBRACE repentance!!
-God HEARS every single prayer, as we have faith, he answers those prayers.
-The Book of Mormon combined with the spirit is my most powerful resource in conversion.
-"Charity faileth not"
-LOVE is essential. Towards God, towards each other, and towards oneself.
-Courage is the key. We must endure with courage!!!
-annoyed/angry/frustrated with someone? Read Moroni 7. It cures the soul.
Last night we walked to the Marriott Center for a devotional!!! I was so giddy just being on BYU campus. A general authroity spoke so it was such a treat! As 4,000 of us missinoaries sang"I know that my Redeemer lives", I sensed a multitude of angels around us. It was one of the most sacred experiences of my life.
From just a week of being here, my life has been changed. And slowly but surely, I am becoming more of the person that God wants me to be. The MTC has been a VERY humbling expereience, and I needed that. There have been some tough times while being here, but such is life :) If we let them, those tough things can bring us so much closer to Christ. I have a testimony that it is ONLY though Jesus Christ that we can return to Heavenly Father. I am nothing without Christ. His Atonement blesses me with strength beyond my own. I know that Heavenly Father's love for us is more than we could even fathom. I love being a missionary. I know that I am involved in the greatest work on the Earth today.
I LOVE my teachers at the MTC. They are all byu/uvu students and are SO entertainging, interesting and insightful. THe amount that I have learned this week has blown my mind. THe only way that I could learn, and retain all this info, is with the help from GOD and that is exactly what's happened :) SOmetimes we start getting drowsy after learning about faith for 3 hours straight, so then our teacher will make us do a lap around the building, or do wall sits or something. Teaching investigators is hard and sometimes frustrating, but we are improving. Love for the investigator is so essential.
SO I WAS the only missionary in our zone that got flight plans, and it said it was just me and a man named Juan flying to melbourne together! The other missionaries were devastated that they werent going yet, but today 11 of the mish. in my zone got their flight plans!!!!!!!! AND WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME FLIGHT!! I'm zee travel leader! hahaha
I wish i had time to tell you about my flight to slc. I met a man in his 50s, HIs name is Kyle and is in the sugar business! we talked the whole 3 hours about a huge variety of things. but so much about the gospel!!!! 30 years ago he was given a bom, he never opened it, BUT HE NEVER THREW IT AWAY and still has it! I told him about how it changed my life, and how the gospel of JesUS CHrist defines who I am! He just sat and listened and the spirit was present!! He asked many questions about my mission and was so impressed and intrigued. BY the end he promised me that he was going to find a church building to attend one sunday (he is from montanta) I just happened to have a pass along card so it was soooo perfect cause it has the website and everything! He said that he would find his bom as well. KYle is a special person. It was so apparent that he truly felt something during this conversation. it was moving for both of us! It was obvious he is yearning for something more in his life. ANd that something is our SAvior Jesus CHrist!!! I KNOW that if he can meet with the missionaries (i told him how to do that as well) he will come unto CHrist. God puts people in our lives for a reason!!! EVERY single person on this planet needs to hear our message and come unto CHrist!!! i love reading about the sons of mosiah who tremble and quake at the thought of someone not having the gospel, and perishing. I want to be that type of missionary!!! It's easy to think, oh, well its not too important to share it with her, she's such a strong christian already, or, he would NEVER be baptized, he detests religion, but EVERY PERSON NEEDS to know our Savior. As members of the church it is our DUTY to share this!!!
The other morning we did an aerobics step class!!! It was absolutely HILARIOUS to see the look on all the sisters faces when the teacher turns on this techno, jazzercise sounding music. HAhahahaha so great. It made all of us sore!!! TWAS AWESOME! Hoooooly goodness. Provo Utah is absolutely divine this time of year.
the other day Sister V. was inhaling the paper towels (smelling deeply) and says "OOH these smell just like bacon!" she is just so intrigued by Americans.
Yes, using my camera often!
Thank you SO much for the Dear Elder letters!!! They are the greatest thing in the world!!!! Could y'all send Sister Vermeulen a letter via Dear Elder? She hasn't received anything since she has been here...her address would be just like mine.