Monday, August 25, 2014

Sister Kelly Emails at the Local Library

Good Monday to all. From last Thursday to this Monday (today), so much has happened. Unfortunately, the keyboard at the library is super ghetto and annoying. Yes...I have become THAT missionary who emails at the local library. My patience is already on the line. that....a Christlike Attribute? It is???? NO WAYYY. What a coincidence, since Christlike Attributes are what I am gong to talk about today. And, if you're reading this and happen to not believe in Jesus Christ, no worries; this still applies to you :)

The manual we refer to a lot as missionaries is titled, "Preach My Gospel." In Chapter 6 of "Preach My Gospel, " there is an entire chapter dedicated to Christlike Attributes. These attributes are so important. My companion, Sister Savage and I have been teaching ward members as well as less-actives about these attributes and we challenged all of them to pick one attribute and focus on cultivating it throughout the month of August. Here are some of the attributes: 

Charity and Love

Intimidating, huh? Yeah, that's what I thought too. But no worries. They're not that bad, actually...they're life changing.

During the month of August, I personally decided to focus on the attribute of HOPE. 

Trying to have hope is hard.  Not gonna lie. It's hard especially when you're going through a challenging time. For example, I remember during the only two years I did Cross Country in high school (major LOL on that one), cross country meets were very challenging for me. I would be in a race (pure torture) and these randoms on the side-lines would be cheering me on saying, "KEEP RUNNING! YOU CAN DO IT! PUSH THROUGH! YOU ARE ALMOST DONE!" I seriously wanted to kill all of them. They had no idea how hard the race was because they weren't running in it. Stop telling me to push through! The cheerleaders (parents) on the side-lines didn't get it. (Reflecting back on this time, I realize it was all me. The cheerleaders/parents were there to be helpful and add support.) In short, I used to think that is what hope was all about...being told to push through a trial no matter what. I thought having hope was accepting the shout-outs from those annoying armchair quarterbacks telling you to run faster, push harder and get through that awful trial. I have since learned that this is NOT how hope works. 

During the month of August, I learned what hope really is. Hope is trusting in God. Hope is knowing that God is going to hold you during that challenging race or trial. And, if you're really lucky, you will have hope that God will give you some Gatorade at the end of the race. Hope conquers discouragement. It does. When things are hard, sometimes hope is all you have. Hope mends wounds. Hope cures fear. God doesn't expect you to be 100% hopeful all the time; in that case, I would be doomed. But He does expect us to try, to trust in Him, and to endure to the end. As we develop this Christlike Attribute, we realize that trails will be less painful, that life will happier, and that light at the end of the tunnel will be brighter. The darkness of the tunnel won't be that noticeable. Hope pulls you through the darkness. Hope is so important. I encourage all of you to trust. Trust in God and in yourself. We all have to grow and stretch. We do this through challenges. But God and Jesus Christ get it. I know that God and Jesus Christ work as a team to help us pull through the trials. They are not those un-empathetic cheerleaders. Trust that God and our Savior Jesus Christ will be helping us and holding us....because He knows what will be at the end of the race. He knows what we are going through. I know this. I am so grateful I know this. 

Thank you so much for the support. I love you all!

And it wouldn't be a blog post without some awkward lowlights:

1. Looking like a full-on hobbit during gym time.
2. Thanking members for having us in our home during dinner appointments.
3. Completely messing up the 1st lesson to these poor teenagers from Nepal. I left them so confused on life.
4. Asking Sister Savage what awkward things I have done this week and her reply being, "I don't know, you do them everyday...I just don't write them down."
4. Layla, the Somalian girl I teach ESL to, told me I would be "ugly" if I cut my hair...among other insults in broken English. Oh, Layla.

Sister Elizabeth Kelly.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Unforgettable Highlights~Awkward Lowlights

Hello Everyone: 

Why am I writing this on Thursday? My companion, Sister Savage and I are off to the Washington D.C Temple this afternoon. We switched our P Day (Preparation Day) from Monday to Thursday. We went 11 days without email. Yep, you heard that correctly. Eleven days without access to our email. We almost died. Seriously, I am never doing that again. But all is well because we are off to the temple this afternoon. It is such a sacred place and such a blessing! 

Since I have another Preparation Day on Monday, I will write a more "in-depth" post but until then, here are some unforgettable highlights, as well as awkward lowlights:

Unforgettable Highlights:

Just starting the day by reading The Book of Mormon is so peaceful. I am grateful for the time I have to read this wonderful book of scripture and a testament of Jesus Christ. 

The baptism line-up. 
Tian's BAPTISM. A highlight that left a lasting impression on me. Her baptism was beautiful. She shared her testimony about how she is so grateful to have found God and how she cannot wait to share the gospel message with her family in China. She is so amazing as well as strong. I was able to play the violin at the baptismal service. I was overjoyed - surprisingly so, since I hadn't played the violin in over a year. Shout out to my family and the Mitchell family for sprucing up my violin, giving it love, and sending me music. I loved the photo you sent of Jack looking bewildered at how small the rosin was in my violin case. Proof that my violin was behind Poppa's bedroom door for a year and well...thanks to my family and the Mitchells, this "light 'o mine," is no longer under a bushel, or behind Poppa's bedroom door. I am shaking off the past and, moving on... 

Jack has never seen such small rosin.
Kate getting my violin mission-ready.
We found some new investigators. One is named Al. He is about 60 yrs. old and has an awesome mustache. I am pretty sure his wife thinks he is crazy for taking discussions but oh well; she'll learn ;) We also found a married couple that are so sweet and amazing. We gave them a Book of Mormon and a pamphlet and  we are meeting with them this week!  

There is a wonderful couple in our ward, The Stoddarts. After careful consideration, I decided to share something with her that is very near and dear to my heart: I told her to watch the fabulous movie, "Strictly Ballroom." She watched it and she loved it; just as I knew she would. For the record, Scott Hastings will forever be one of my heroes because he danced, "unfederated, new steps," in the Pan-Pacific. That movie is epic. I now officially consider Sister Stoddart a true homie. 


Awkward Lowlights:

Once Upon A Time this past Monday, I woke up and got out of bed way too fast and PASSED OUT. I full-on collapsed on the bathroom floor. But, I am fine! I didn't hurt myself and I was able to go out and work. Sister Savage and I laughed because it was so random. Like, what in the world?

This past week, Sister Savage and I went to visit this less-active member. We knocked on her door. She welcomed us into her home. She was this sweet-old-thing from Idaho Falls. She continued to be sweet until we invited her to find her Book of Mormon and asked her to start reading it again......and she KICKED US OUT. She then told me to stop talking. My companion offered a closing prayer. Then she told us to leave. Well, okay then. Sometimes you have to laugh about things. And laugh we did.  

Thank you so much for the support. I love every one of you! I mean it. 


Sister Elizabeth Kelly  

Tian and me with one of our very best friends: Kate Spade. 

Sunday evening, August 17th, the day after Tian's baptism. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Bad, The Great and The Pathetic

Hello Family and Friends:

Many things happened this week. Some good. Some bad. Some ugly. I decided that "sugar-coated" blogs should just be a big ol' no no. I am a missionary. Things are not all puppies and rainbows and miracles and fun here in Northern Virginia. Sometimes it's actually old kitties, rainstorms, tragedies, and hard work! I want my posts to be real. So here you go readers. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. But we're going to do, "The Bad, The Great, and The Pathetic" instead...just to shake things up a bit.

The Bad

To begin, my companion, Sister Savage and I had a lesson with Tian, our "golden investigator." 

Okay, Strike #1. "Golden Investigators" should not be a thing. What does that even mean? No investigator should be too easy.  If  missionaries say they have a "golden investigator," that just means that they are not really teaching the lessons or they are not checking in with the "golden investigator," and making sure they are ok. Conversion is hard. End of story. But it is so worth it. 

With Tian, everything had been going great. Word of Wisdom? Easy! She hates alcohol and coffee and everything in between. Book of Mormon? She reads it everyday. Church? She comes every week. Chastity? Not even a concern for her. TITHING? Oh boy...that's where we hit the bump in the road. While preparing for the lesson on "The Law of Tithing," Sister Savage and I thought, "hmmm this should be a breeze!" If she can handle all the other lessons, she will be fine with this one. So, let's not over prepare.  

Strike #2. Big mistake. Just because certain things are easy for some people does NOT mean that EVERYTHING is easy for all. NO! Not even. We seriously should have reminded ourselves of that because what started out as a cute little lesson on paying 10% of your income to God turned into a 3 hour lesson of a passive-aggresive debate, tears, and confusion on everyone's part. Tian refused to pay tithing because she thought that God was asking too much, especially considering her financial situation. Between us missionaries and the Muir Family (a family from the ward who hosted the lesson) we probably told about 20 personal stories of how during financial struggles, we all still paid tithing. We all put our hearts and souls into this discussion. After the lesson, Sister Savage broke down. What did we do? Can she even get baptized now?  

Strike #3. Why were we so quick to give up? Just because there's a bump in the road it doesn't mean that it's all over. We must always have hope.

Strike #4. We also had a potential investigator fall through but yet he still continued to send us creepy, flirty texts hours after he canceled on us. My personal favorite text was, "Never hesistate to come to my house for a glass of water ;)" ummmm yeah right.

Strike #5, #6 and #7. Waking up at 6:15 a.m.? No me gusta. Not being able to take any sort of rest? #struggle.
Being really stressed and having no outlet to decompress because you're too busy? #theworst

The Great

Boon #1. Tian and the tithing problem was solved through a series of miracles. The Muirs offered Tian an opportunity to move in with them. They have extra space in their home. Tian can have reduced rent in exchange for teaching the Muir boys Mandarin. With some financial burdens lifted, Tian, now has the means to pay tithing. What a miracle. One of the best parts of all of this was that the Muirs called to tell us the news on my grandpa's (Poppa) birthday, August 6th. Brother Muir is from the same small town in Montana as Poppa. I truly believe Poppa was in the planning stages getting this whole situation handled for Tian. "Get it handled," was one of Poppa's famous catch-phrases. What a miracle!!! How blessed Tian is and how grateful we are for the Muirs and their generosity!

Boon #2. Another beautiful thing happened this week. A lady from our ward had a health scare...the EXACT same one I had Fall Semester at BYU-Provo.  I consider the BYU Student Health Center the depths of all evil. This lady called us late at night, feeling prompted to share her health worry. It was such a blessing because I was able to share my experience and let her know that it was going to be okay and that I was there for her. In tears she told me that maybe the reason why I had that health scare (which was SUCH a waste of money) was so I could help her. So true. Heavenly Father awlays has a better plan for us. NEVER forget that. This past year, I have struggled with why God gave me that trial and panic, when it turned out to be nothing? Why???? Well through this lady in my ward, I am humbled and have a better understanding of God's work.
Boon #2.5 I want to add that the only thing I did not like about BYU was the Student Health Center. Even though NO ONE gets my BYU stories or thinks that they are funny (I have just stoppped telling them all together #tears), I am so eternally grateful for the experience I had there. So many memories, so many much academic work to catch up on (that last comment is for you, dad). I love BYU and I am so excited to see all my amazing friends again. 

Boon #3. The Oakton Ward is incredible. The support we get is amazing and humbling. Every single family is so great. There are some people from this ward that have influenced me for the good and I will forever be grateful.

The Pathetic:

Insert Eye-roll #1. Mosquitoes just love me. My legs are out of control with bites. The Virginia bites on my legs are 10x worse than the Wisconsin bites. They hurt! I have so many scars and I look like a malaria victim. Gee thanks Mother Nature...

Insert Eye-roll #2. I am always afraid of getting Lyme Disease since sooooo many missionaires here get it. One of the sister missionary's face got paralyzed! One more reason for me to HATE NATURE.

Insert Eye-roll #3. I love gospel music. After years of mocking Mormon artists with their "Mormon-y tunes" it is now all we listen to and ughhhh I have to confess that I know all the lyrics.

Reality Wrap-up

Sometimes I think, "I can't do this!" "I'm giving up!" when let's be real, it's all Satan. Never forget that fear is ALWAYS Satan. So pathetic of  him. Never give up. If you give yourself to God and "Come Unto Christ,"
(one of the Mormon-y tunes Sister Savage and I reverently jam out to-haha) then you will always win. I promise.
I hope everyone is well! Keep in touch.

Peace 'n Blessins'
Sister Kelly

Monday, August 4, 2014

My Trip Into Big DC!

We are so tired after the baseball game...

Bryce Harper, fellow Mormon, no words.

We truly love Bryce Harper.

In front of the beautiful DC Temple!

Me with Kaley and Sister McCoy at the Temple!
At the stadium!

A Baseball Game, A Trip to the Temple and a Metro Ride

Hello Family and Friends!
     This week has been incredible. So many amazing experiences! I am reminded daily of how much our Heavenly Father knows me for sending me here.
     Everyday is different. Somedays we just teach people and teach people. I love teaching investigators, especially Tian. Tian is from China and is getting baptized on August 16th! Yay! She is here in the U.S. getting her MBA. She was Buddhist her whole life but never felt complete. When we teach her about how much Christ loves her, she gets so emotional. She loves God and Jesus Christ. Her love for them is strong and deep. Her prayers are so beautiful. She is willing to do anything to feel the spirit and never misses church. I have a real connection with her and it's not because she loves Kate Spade and Marc Jacobs. Ha! She is a friend. WE LOVE HER. 
     I also love our less actives. One of my favorites is Sister H. Oh how I love her. I cry everytime I teach her. Then she cries. Then we all cry. I prayed so hard on Sunday that she would come to church and she came! She has the saddest story but it is a strong story. She is a personal trainer and worked out with us on Saturday. My companion and I laugh all day long because we are so the point where it hurts to sit! She worked us GOOD.
     One of my favorite moments this week was taking sweet Kaley to the temple! Kaley isn't really religious but her cousin, Sister McCoy (one of my FAVORITE ward members) is and so we took her to the temple grounds. Walking around the Washington, DC temple is amazing. My favorite temple has always been LA but DC is seriously giving LA a run for it's money! The Visitor's Center at the temple is incredible. 
     Oh how I love Kaley. She is so strong and incredible. She loves feeling the spirit because she feels protected. She is visiting the McCoys for the summer in VA and heads home to Texas this week. She plays the violin and played for us the other day. Then I told her I played the violin. She told me to play something and we all chose "Nearer My God to Thee." There was a very strong feeling of peace and love in the room. We did a duet and it was so amazing. Sister Savage (my companion) and I went over to see Kaley last night to say goodbye and to play "I Need Thee Every Hour" with me on the violin and Sister Savage singing (she has such a gorgeous voice). I then gave Kaley a picture I found at the MTC. It is a picture of a girl in armor and it symbolizes being protected from evil and staying strong..and most of all fighting for what you know to be true. Kaley then said that she is considering baptism. What a blessing.
     OH AND WE WENT TO THE NATIONALS GAME ON SATURDAY. We beat the Phillies 11-0. Ha! I gave away my first Book of Mormon on the Metro to an awesome girl my age who loves Guster and Beyonce! Like hello are you mah soul sister??? We talked about music and concerts and then the gospel. What more could you want? She said she can't wait to read The Book of Mormon.
     I love the ward. I shared my testimony on Sunday. I was doing pretty fine with the tears until I started talking about how grateful Sis. Savage and I are for the support we have here. Ward members go to the ends of the earth to help us. I am so touched and humbled by their service each and every day. I shared in my testimony that being overwhelmed (ummm hiii that's pretty much my #1 emotion here) is the best feeling because it allows you to get down on your knees and to pray for help. It's what I do everyday and I am so much stronger because of it. I am overwhelmed by the hour here; but I am blessed because it's what keeps me close to God. I feel God's and Jesus' love every minute of the day. I feel their love whether it is watching a Somalian girl write her name for the first time while I am teaching the ESL classes,  or teaching Sister H., the personal trainer, about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 
     Missions are so hard but so worth it.


Sister Kelly

P.S. Email my mom if you would like my mailing address: