Monday, September 29, 2014

My Life in the "Present Lane"

Hello Everyone!

I am off to DC in a matter of hours! I am so excited...the excitement is real. We get to go to DC and see the sights, once a transfer (or every six weeks). We couldn't go last transfer so, this is my first official time touring our nation's capitol. 

This week was incredible!!!

I do not really remember what happened in the beginning of the week, (#missionarybrain) but as far as the rest of the week was concerned, it was memorable and amazing.

We had a Missionary Conference with just the sister missionaries who are currently serving in the Washington DC South Mission. We listened to our mission president and other speakers. This was my first Missionary Conference and I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical. I thought it was going to be a one of those sessions full of tears and fake compliments. It was not like that at all. 

The theme of the conference was, "Live in the Present." Don't dwell on the past and don't hyper-focus on the future. It dawned on me that I rarely spend time in the "Present Lane," of life. I realized that I am so focused on the next step of my life and idealizing it, that when the future comes, it's nothing like how I expected it to be. Then I dwell on the glory days...

In short, I am Uncle Rico in "Napoleon Dynamite." 

However, I am committing to change. Since the Missionary Conference, I made a goal to accept and notice the beauty of taking things day by day. I cannot control tomorrow OR yesterday. Deep down, I thought that I could! But what does dwelling on the past do for me? NOTHING. What does only focusing on my future life...which to be probably not going turn out like how I envision it...going do for me? NOTHING. Now keep in mind, learning from your past mistakes and creating future goals are very crucial and important. But focusing on today and living in the moment is very crucial and so benefical!
Another (extremely) important thing I learned while at the Missionary Conference was how to make a meal out of a Crock Pot. Such an accomplishment.

At the conference I was finally able to meet Sister Kennedy. We passed like ships in the night at BYU last year. She knew my friends and I knew her friends, but we did not know each other. I met so many wonderful, beautiful and hilarious sister missionaries. I loved every minute of the conference and I learned so much.  
Also, can we take a moment and talk about how AMAZING General Women's Conference was, on Saturday night (9/27)? I got so choked up when I found out that Sister Neill "Nana" Marriott was speaking! It made me think of my Mitchell's and how I love them! Everything she spoke about was incredible and was what I really needed to hear. I will carry her words in my heart, always. Everyone around me that evening loved Sister Marriott's talk. I feel so special to know her and her amazing children and GRANDCHILDREN. 

Me and my very best friends, the Mitchells...

Missionary Update:
***Shangita and Dee came to church.
***We officially have a family from Nepal on date for baptism. 
***And, we are meeting with "B" on Wednesday

Awkward Moment of the Week:
***Chasing after someone who I thought was an investigator named wasn't.  Instead, it was Neil's roomate (or evil twin),  named "Vinand."

Thank you for your support, love, and prayers! I feel it all!

Sister Kelly

Living in the Present Lane while Singing in the Rain.

Finally, Sister Kennedy! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

My National Day To Serve

Happy Monday, Readers - 

This week was crazy. So crazy, I don't even know where to start.  I am going to start jotting down the weekly anecdotes of my daily life. In other words, keep a better record of what I should say in my weekly posts. You deserve to hear only the best and craziest and funniest stuff.

I want to begin by thanking you so much for all the support you have given me these past few months. In this business of being a needs support. It means so much. Everyday, I am humbled and so grateful. Thanks for just reading my blog and appreciating what I write. I love you all. (And if there is some random creeper from let's say, the Ukraine, who is stalking my mission blog? I thank you, as well.)

I want to start by spotlighting two awkward moments I had this week. 

**Awkward Moment #1 - I was really (like really....) tired and we were at a less active's house home teaching her about prophets. I decided to lay my head back on the chair to see if that would make me more comfy. The gal yelled in her SASSY African-American voice, "OH YOU WANNA TAKE A NAP? YOU WANNA? WELL GO ON AND TAKE A NAP!" I thought she was ticked. Come to find out, she was actually serious. She offered Sister Savage and I a spare key to her the occasion we are in the neighborhood and we get tired (again) and need to take a nap.

**Awkward Moment #2 - I am now officially a Facebook Missionary. First step, I had to clean out my FB profile. Then I had to hide (I REFUSED to delete) all my photos that don't "fulfill or correlate with my  missionary purpose." Looking at all my 80s dancing photos at a public library, with my "Sister Kelly" name tag on, was a real treat.

This week's missionary moments are as follows:

A quick update on "B." He got sick and had serious back pain this week and as a result, we were unable to teach him. All is not lost. We will not give up on "B." 

This past week, in terms of "stereotypical missionary progress" such as baptisms and new investigators? We fell short. But in terms of bonding and gaining really deep trust with less actives and members?? We struck gold. 

I saw first hand the strength of the Oakton, VA members of our church. I am truly amazed. This past Saturday, September 20, the Oakton Ward had their National Day To Serve combined with The Church of The Brethren Presbyterian Church and the United Methodist Church. We made blankets, organized 3,000 kits for laundry and made hundreds of infant care kits. Our Mormon congregation (we have about 400 members who come to the Oakton Ward every Sunday) and the two mentioned congregations, met at the Methodist church. We had a blast! 

I particularly enjoyed getting to know Pastor Singleton from the United Methodist Church. (#mynewbff) She loved talking to us about our mission. About 200 people showed to serve at the Methodist building and 80% of them were from our church. The other churches were astounded and shocked at how much we were willing to serve. A few people asked me, "HOW MUCH DO YOU PAY YOUR BISHOP TO GET PARTICIPANTS AND SERVICE LIKE THIS?!?!?!"  We had to break it to them that our Bishop doesn't get paid and no one gets money for their service or church assignments. 

Also, I was able to bond with Karl, a member of the Church of the Brethren. This awesome 60 year old man with a SWEET ponytail and beard, is in charge of a donation center and wants us to help in Vienna (no...sadly not Austria). He was so kind and sweet. I LOVED the Day to Serve. I loved everything about it. I loved how willing people were to help others. Mostly, I loved the fact that we were all from different faiths and backgrounds. We are all under one God.  

Service, from what I have learned, is the glue that holds our world togther. It is truly a beautiful thing. Service can be the smallest of a smile or a card. Sometimes the smallest things are the biggest. Little acts of service truly make the biggest difference. I know that to be true.

Sister Kelly

Loving our National Day To Serve

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Umbrella...

Hello Everyone!

So this week was a week of miracles. Sister Savage and I have experienced many blessings and miracles through members and less actives; but we realized that we hadn't had any solid success with investigators. 

But that changed this week.

First, let's back track to about four weeks ago to the worst day of my life as a missionary. Literally, the worst. It rained all day. I love rain, but on this particular day, it poured. My dress got super see-through, my shoes got ruined and I had a headache. To make matters worse, EVERY SINGLE APPOINTMENT FELL THROUGH. Every single one. Which gave us none other option than to tract. All day. In the rain. People were rude to us at the door. It was awful. We were on this particular street and we decided to knock on this one particular door. Why not get yelled at or insulted one more time? We knocked and a man answered. He looked annoyed. I thought, "Great, he probably sees our name tags, hates Mormons, thinks we are crazy because in reality, we looked crazy being so wet and soaked to the bone. 

What did he say to us? "How long have you two girls been out in the rain? WHERE IS YOUR UMBRELLA?!" It was obvious we had forgotten our umbrellas. Why not make this day any worse than it already was? After we told him we didn't have our umbrellas, he raced to his car and gave us his umbrella! Greatest gift ever. We were so shocked at someone being kind to us that we responded awkwardly and I almost started crying and that's never a pretty sight; so, we quickly left. Shout out to my brother Matt who won an umbrella at the Prom last Spring. When he came home at 2 a.m. he said to my mom and dad, "I'm going to give this umbrella to Elizabeth for her mission." I use that umbrella now, Matt. Thank you!

Then a week later, we returned the umbrella and we gave this kind man a copy of The Book of Mormon and a Resotration pamphlet, shared our testimonies, and gave him a thank you card with our number on it. He said he would love for us to come back in a couple weeks. 

So, we left on a really good note.

Flash forward to two days ago. Earlier this week while I was on exchanges (exchanges are when we switch companions for a switch things up); we went to check on him. (We'll call him B for the sake of privacy.) It turned out we knocked on the wrong door. B called us on Saturday and asked if he could have a lesson soon! WHAT? NO ONE DOES THAT!!!! It is usually us missionaires that have to track people down; but, he tracked us down! He was wondering why we hadn't come earlier. We said we would be over that night.

Family and friends, I have never felt more fulfilled as a missionary than when we taught him Saturday night. It was the most beautiful lesson. He came with typed-up questions for both me and Sister Savage and they were the sweetest questions i.e."Why are you Mormons?" "Is is okay to ask God questions?" He read all of 1 Nephi (#amazing) and had so many thought provoking questions on what he had read. He was shocked that other religions don't read The Book of Mormon! He thought it was a beautiful and peaceful book to read. For the "Gospel Blesses Families" portion of the Restoration pamphet, he had printed out a picture of his wife and baby son so he could show us how God has blessed his family. Sister Savage and I completely spoke through the spirit. I was able to tell him my testimony and how this gospel changes lives and brings nothing but peace and joy. He really listened. He drew away from God because he was brought up in a really strict religious home. His dad was a minister but could never answer his questions. He said that Sister Savage and I were able to answer many of them that night. He said such a beautiful closing prayer. We have another lesson with him this week. What a blessing.

My emotions got the best of me when we left his home. Tears. To think that the "worst" day of my mission led to the most beautiful lesson I have ever taught. B is incredible. A true light to all. He is so prepared to become a part of this beautiful gospel and I pray that he will come to find that on his own. We are meeting with him on Wednesday and I cannot wait!

So all in a missionary, you're gonna have wacko, crazy days where giving up sounds glorious. But, you have to keep in mind that God ALWAYS has your back and ALWAYS has a blessing around the corner. So glad I came to realize that. So incredibly glad.

Have a great week...sorry no pictures...all I took this week on my camera is a blurry pic of two cats I was trying to stalk/chase. 

Sister Kelly 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Six Weeks of a Steep Learning Curve

Hello Everyone!

I am back. This week it is me, Sister Kelly, writing the words. As stated in my post last week, my iPad was giving me problems. Last week I was unable to email from the local library because it was Labor Day. (I can't decide if that is a good thing or a bad thing.) Who knew Labor Day would be such a struggle?

Well I am one transfer down. Eleven more to go. I am not counting. (That's right?!?!)  I know my grandmother (Marilyn) has a jar and she puts a jelly-belly in it everyday I am gone. So, I know she is counting. :)  

A transfer is every six weeks. So, every six weeks I don't know if I am going to be moving to another area or staying put where I am. Luckily, I did not get transferred. I love my area and the ward.
Adjusting to the mission life has been no walk in the park. I have learned so much. So, in a nutshell, here are some of the things that I learned being a brand new missionary.  

Interpret each point as you wish.

- Never interrupt a former Black Panther (yes..a Black Panther member).
- Never try to discuss politics with people. Especially if they are crazy old men named "Dave" or "Richard."
- Do not ever sit on abandoned toilets.
- If you forget breakfast, you will regret it.
-  You can receive just as many endorphins if you pretend to workout.
- Dogs are EVIL, but squirrels are cute.
- God doesn't want to CHANGE you but he does want to REFINE you.
- There is a difference between change and refinement.
- God has a plan for each and every one of us; so access it!
- So what if Mormon Messages are cheesy? They are sooo good.
- Our trials are not consequences of disobedience; they are proof that the Lord wants us to grow. He knows that you are prepared to grow.
- Sometimes, to get to where God wants you to be and where we are currently...requires stretching.
-...and that stretching? Super uncomfortable.
- There is beauty in laughter.
- There is beauty in a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
- There is beauty in emotionally drowning, because that is when the Lord can fill us and keep us afloat.
- There is pure comfort in Christ.
- Pioneers were incredible people and everyone can be a Modern Day Pioneer.

I have learned so much. And I have learned a lot the hard way. This transfer and training and just being a missionary was seriously not what I expected. But that's okay! There is such power in learning and accessing God and Christ. There truly is!

Love you all! I hope everyone is healthy and safe.

xoxo Sister Kelly

P.S. WHAT?! JOAN RIVERS DIED? What is going to happen to, "Fashion Police?" Robin Williams, now Joan? Who's next? Jimmy Fallon? Better not be. 

Chick-fil-A isn't too terrible, I guess :0

The Oakton Zone...a valiant group.

Sweet Sister Kambourian, my Aunt Paula's friend who is in the neighboring ward.

My district. Another valiant group. 

I found my "Meredith." 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sister Kelly Does NOT Email in the Library

Sister Kelly's parents received an email from her yesterday, Monday, September 1, 2014, on Labor Day. The local library was closed. No emailing in the library for Sister Kelly this week. Her iPad was acting up and she did not have time to send a post or photos. 

In order for this to not seem like a Christmas Letter where nobody knows who is writing the script, I will make my presence known so that there is no confusion as to who is submitting this week's post. It is Elizabeth's mother. Me, the (full-on) blogger. 

A wonderful experience happened to our family and Sister Kelly last week. Last Wednesday, August 27, 2014, Elizabeth's dear friend, Avery Anapol from Shorewood made the trek by metro to see her at the Washington, DC Temple's Visitor Center. Many thanks to a member in Elizabeth's ward, Sister McCoy, who picked Avery up at the metro station, took her to the visitor's center and then took everyone to dinner in Bethesda, MD. Avery is a sophomore at George Washington University and she basically took "planes, trains and automobiles," to see Elizabeth. I had no idea these two had made plans to meet. 

I was very surprised to hear from Avery and delighted to get a full report of her take on the Visitor Center and of Elizabeth. Avery shared something; and, her words are ones I will never forget. Avery expressed that she always knew Elizabeth was Mormon. Avery said, "Everyone knew she was Mormon. But watching her in action at the Visitor's Center made me realize that her religion is something that means a lot to her." Simple and beautiful. I had never put those words and thoughts together before. Serving a mission for your church shows how much your beliefs really matter to you. 

Heartfelt. Insightful. I get emotional every time I think about or share with someone the words she said. Avery, your perception of that experience with Elizabeth will stay with me forever. Thank you. You hold a special place in my heart for taking the time to see our Sister Kelly.

Avery at the Washington, DC Temple Grounds.
Shorewood Shines...