Monday, December 29, 2014

My Christmas in Virginia

Hey Everyone!

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! Sister Rossi and I kept thinking that snow was going come to us....but it never did. It rained instead. 

Last night as we were sending in our numbers for the week, Sister Rossi and I looked at each other and wondered why our numbers were so low....we realized it's because we pretty much Christmas Carol'd around Virginia every night instead of proselyting. Oops. We sure made a lot of memories.

On Christmas Eve, Sister Rossi and I were on our way to give some members little gifts we made for them when we stumbled upon our Methodist friends and their LIVE NATIVITY! We waved to them from our car and they summoned us to come join them. Somehow Sister Rossi and I got roped-tied into being a part of their Live Nativity. I was Mary and Sister Rossi was the angel. We had a time shift and everything. It was funny when some members of our church came to take pictures of the camel and ram only to see us with our missionary badges and fake baby Jesus. When Sister Rossi gave her talk yesterday in Sacrament Meeting, the Bishop introduced her as "The Angel of the Methodist Nativity". 

One of Sister Rossi's Christmas Eve traditions is to watch a movie and the mission wasn't going to stop us from that tradition. So, we pushed our beds together to make a MegaBed and watched a movie our church produced called, "Johnny Lingo". It was pretty much our only option. It was a good time. After some self-reflection, I realized that on a good day, I am most likely a, "three-cow-woman." 

Christmas Day was so wonderful. We spent it with members and we felt so loved and appreciated. It was so good to talk with them and laugh. Shout out to the Jensen family for having the funniest mission stories. And for the Noel's for talking about movies with me while Sister Rossi skyped her family. 

Skyping my family was wonderful. I thought I was going to be a mess but I kept my composure. My dad used the timer on his phone to keep within "mission rules." Each of them talked to me for eight minutes alone but apparently my dad went over time (he was giving me words of advice) and so my mom ended up going over time as well. Then they all joined in for the last ten minutes. I included Sister Rossi in these last ten minutes because she has such funny stories. We cried just a bit but mostly laughed.   

The day after Christmas half of the missionaries in our mission gathered for a Mission Conference directed by our mission president, President Riggs. As always, I learn so much about myself at these conferences. President Riggs always knows what to say. He talked about "Being All In" while serving mission. He discussed the importance of staying focused and devoted while serving a mission. Something I need to work on. I am excited to improve myself in this area. Sometimes I get distracted by thinking about the future and all the things I want to do AFTER my mission. What I really need to be doing is to consistently think about the things I need to be doing DURING my mission. 

Today we went to Mt. Vernon with two other sister missionaries in our area whom we love so much. We're quite a clan and it's going to be really hard leaving them this transfer. At Mount Vernon, I saw the bed where George Washington died. We also saw his tomb. It's so beautiful there! It was a wonderful way to spend my Preparation Day.

Happy New Year To All...


Sister Kelly

Monday, December 22, 2014

Who Would Have Thought?

Merry Christmas To My Family and Friends:

As I look back at the last two weeks, I am so grateful my mission is interesting every single day. This week I would like to dedicate my blog to "the many wonders of it all." 

First off - Who would have thought I would be serving my mission near Old Town Alexandria, VA where my mom and dad met...

Just look at those cobblestoned streets.
A Walgreens to the right and a Lulu Lemon to the left...not bad.

Second - Who would have thought I would have so much fun decorating a Christmas Tree? Here I am with Pastor Dawn Singleton in her home making another memory. 

Decorating the Christmas tree at Pastor Dawn Singleton's home.  
Meowy Christmas
Third - Who would have thought I would have such an amazing experience teaching Haksong the gospel. He leaves for Korea on December 28th. A Korean family, the Moons, in the neighboring ward helped Sister Rossi and I a lot while we were teaching Haksong the lessons. Brother Moon confirmed Haksong the next day at church (yesterday) and he said the first part of the prayer/confirmation in English and then finished the prayer in Korean. I had never seen that done before and it was such a spiritual experience. 

Haksong's baptism.

All of the Oakton Ward Missionaries and Haksong.

Photo taken by Brother Noel - our ward mission leader.
Celebrating a really good week with some Sparkling Apple Cider.

Fourth - Who would have thought I would want to be in Activity Days again so that I could hang with these girls? I love them.  

These young ladies are quality!
Fifth - Who would have thought I would finally meet Katy (Calhoun) Banks! She is one of my mom's bestest friends ever in the whole wide world. Since I am a "Facebook" missionary and she lives in my mission, I found out today via Facebook that today is her birthday! I wished her happy birthday and told her that Sister Rossi and I were off to the Tyson's Corner Shopping Center. Thanks to email and Katy's knowledge of Tyson's Corner (shout out to her years at Nordstrom) we met at 1:30 pm at "The Shake Shack." I have heard about Katy my whole entire life and I have always wanted to meet her. She is everything I always thought she would be and more. Beautiful, funny and...I could go on and on. Thank you for making the effort Katy...oops! Sister Banks.

Finally, Katy Banks. A Christmas Miracle we met up!
We own this shopping center...we put a new spin on "Mall Rats." 
Sixth - Who would have thought I would have a 40 minutes only Skype conversation with my family on Christmas Day? I will let you know next week how it goes. 

Love to everyone,

Sister Kelly kind of people. I took this photo for my siblings. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I Need Thee Every Hour

Dear Family and Friends:

It was a Wednesday of adventures that is for sure. Sister Rossi and I decided to switch things up and we went to the Washington, DC Temple today and then we went to Old Town Alexandria. 

It was a good week but there were some hard times. Sister Rossi and I had some tender moments with some families in our ward that have been hit with some challenges. One evening, while we were with a family, I was able to play my violin. I played, "I Need Thee Every Hour," and "Lead Kindly Light." It was a sweet experience. Hymns mean more to me everyday. Hymns ease the pain when there are hardships. This I know. 

Coincidentally, we have been meeting some people who happen to be friends with members in our ward. This past week, while visiting some people with our ward mission leader, we met a couple who recently lived in Utah and they went to the University of Florida. Go Gators! I know all about Gainesville, FL. I lived there and I am a huge Gator Fan. I love making these connections. We invited them to the Washington, DC Temple Visitor Center's Christmas Light Festival. Who would want to miss that!? So grateful the Visitor Center and the Temple are so close.

What a beautiful sight.

Then today in Old Town Alexandria, Sister Rossi and I met an attorney from Norway. We talked and talked to him then we invited him to the Christmas Light Festival. We are excited that even though it was our Preparation Day, we were planting seeds along the way in Old Town Alexandria. The most of me is Icelandic and Sister Rossi is very Norwegian. We have this "Roots," thing on lock.

My mom wanted me to describe my mission thus far with 3 likes and 3 dislikes. Here goes...

Likes - 

1.  Driving slowly through beautiful neighborhoods in Virginia to see if we can get a glimpse of people's Christmas Trees.
2.  Getting stories from my DC friends who know: Mitt Romney, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W., Obama and George Clooney. 
3. The love that I'm surrounded by each day from my family, friends, Virginia family and most importantly, our loving and understanding Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.

Dislikes - 

1. Having a Costco only seven miles away and not being able to go because it is not in my designated area. All I want for Christmas is a Combo Pizza.
2. People giving Sister Rossi and I the wrong address ON PURPOSE. Shout out to "Reese" (if that is even your real name) who made us go on a two hour scavenger hunt to try to find "her house" that didn't even exist. THANKS GIRL.
3. When people think I'm foreign because I come from a mysterious place called...MILWAUKEE. Knocking my hometown hurts. Words hurt.   
To wrap it up, I am having an incredible experience studying the Savior in the New Testament during this Christmas Season. It is a scripture reading experience I will never forget.

Merry Christmas Everyone! 


Sister Kelly 

Photo taken at the end of the day...we still have our smiles.

A Great Day in Old Town Alexandria

Monday, December 15, 2014

We Wait Until Wednesday

Dear Family and Friends - 

We received word that Elizabeth will have her Preparation Day this Wednesday...and not the regular day, Monday. So we will wait until Wednesday for news in "her words." We do have some information of her goings ons this week:  she played the violin. (Yet again, proof the violin is not collecting dust.) She performed at the Mission-wide Christmas Conference and the Oakton Ward's Annual Christmas Party. It has been a tender experience for our family to have a missionary during the Christmas Season. Having a child be out in the mission field preaching of Christ and His love has made our hearts more joyous than ever as we celebrate His birth. 

Elizabeth's friend, Karenna (Hermana Meredith) emailed this photo to me today. I love it. It's pure joy sharing the message of Christ at Christmastime. 

The stuff dreams are made of...

This past Saturday, we took our family Christmas photo sans Sister Kelly. We managed. It was a foggy day and we had to change venues. We ended up alongside the Milwaukee River, right smack in front of the Milwaukee Rowing Club's Boathouse. We promised Matt we would not mention the fact that he rows crew or that we were near the boathouse in our Christmas card. We kept our promise. I'm not mentioning the venue in the Christmas card. I am mentioning it in Elizabeth's blog. Side note: We call the Milwaukee River, "Matt's River." We say that when he is not in the car. So, for recording purposes only, here is the "fun" we were trying to have without our Elizabeth. We were sad she wasn't with us for the photo, but so, so grateful she is happy. 'Cause that makes us happy. 

Capturing words of advice from Dad...along Matt's River.

Always good times to be had along the Milwaukee River...ha!

See you on Wednesday,


Marya, Craig and Family

Monday, December 8, 2014

I May Be Down...But By No Means Am I Out

Hey Everyone!

This week has been quite the roller coaster. First off, I have came down with this monster of a virus and have had to sloooow things down this week. So, not much happened other than me blowing my nose and eating my weight in popsicles. Three cheers for Sister Rossi for having the best bedside manner ever. 


I don't remember much. My memory has seriously taken a toll this week...probably because I coughed it out.

- We had a training session this week with our Mission President. President Riggs conducted an in-depth discussion on charity. Basically, we were taught how to love EVERYONE! Even if they hate you! Even of they take advantage of you! Even if they don't deserve the benefit of the doubt! This was a hard one to hear since I seriously need to work on loving everyone regardless of how they treat me. Apparently the whole "I'll be nice if you're nice" motto I've been living on isn't gonna fly anymore :) 

Super Highlights

- We took our investigator, Haksong, to the light festival at the Washington D.C Temple. 

- Ran into my beautiful best friend, Sister Meredith, at the Washington DC Temple's Visitor's Center!

Sister Meredith + Sister Kelly = Soul-Sister Missionaries
This friendship is one of the best gifts ever. 

This Week's Wrap-up:

This week has not been easy and it's safe to say I wasn't "on game." But going to the Temple's Christmas Light Festival last night was such healing oil. Even though I didn't go inside the temple, I felt such joy on the temple grounds and an overwhelming sense of peace. Something about Christmas Lights and seeing Sister Meredith really does fine-tune the soul. As I wandered through the Visitor's Center, I felt such joy. Joy that the gospel is true. Joy in the love and spirit of Christmas.

Love to All,

Sister Elizabeth Kelly  

The Washington DC Temple's Christmas Light Festival

Make new friends, but keep the old...

Monday, December 1, 2014

Wrong Door...Right Door

Hello Everyone - 

Sister Rossi and I had another wonderful week.  Here's why...

Haksong is getting baptized on December 13th. He is the nephew of Sister Muir, a lady in our ward. We were originally teaching him, then the Elders taught him, and then we ended up teaching him...again. We are really excited. As stated before, the Oakton Ward is so amazing at fellowshipping new members; I know that Haksong will be well taken care of. 

Thanksgiving was a memorable experience. One I will never forget because of the love we felt from friends I know I will have forever. Sister Rossi and I were invited to Thanksgiving dinner by the Hudners. They are empty nesters. They remind me so much of my grandparents. Sister Hudner is a member but her husband, Dennis Hudner, is not. About a month ago, Sister Rossi and I had dinner at their home and he personally invited us over for Thanksgiving with their family. We were thrilled. We did not realize how big of a deal this was until we shared the news at our weekly meeting we have with the bishop and the other auxiliary leaders in the ward. Bishop Burton's jaw dropped when he heard that Dennis Hudner loved us enough to invite us to Thanksgiving dinner. Apparently he has never formed any good relationships with church members. He is always friendly but never reached out to any ward member in the past 20 something years they have been in the area. And all it took was me talking New York City and films (Woody Allen can definitely turn into a gospel discussion...right?) and Sister Rossi exhibiting her fantastic sarcastic wit...who knew? 

This was such a big deal that Bishop Burton sent in a request to our mission president, President Riggs, that neither of us get transferred before Thanksgiving. Bishop Burton's wish was granted! On Thanksgiving, we went to the Hudners and enjoyed a delicious dinner with them and a few of their friends. It was a little odd at first. There we were, two 19 year-old sister missionaries with a gathering of some 60+ year-olds. But thanks to our "gift of gab" (shout-out to our moms) we started chatting with their friends, and the scene became more comfortable and everyone warmed up to us. We were enriched with good food and a lot of wisdom, that is for sure! My grandfather (Poppa) always said, "It's a shame that young people don't have the wisdom that the older generation has." So true! At the end, Dennis invited us to come over any time. He said that after our missions, we better come back and visit. Such a memory. I have grown to love the Hudners. They will be my friends forever.  

And this week we had a MIRACLE HAPPEN!!!  Sister Rossi followed a prompting. This is really HER story. Sister Rossi always explains things better anyway :) 

"A few months ago, Sister Kelly and her last companion met a member, Alex McClain, on the street and he told them he would love to have the missionaries over as his wife and son are not members of our church. For the past month, Sister Kelly and I have stopped by his home many times, trying to contact him. We never received a reply. We just figured he wasn't interested. However, a few weeks ago, we went back to the house and saw him in the parking lot and he invited us to come over Tuesday.  

We showed up Tuesday, and he didn't answer the door. We figured Brother McClain was just being nice but didn't want to really meet with us. Then this week we decided to go back again. When we arrived at the door, the lights were off in the house. We decided to turn around and leave. As we did, I saw that the neighbor's lights were on. I had the thought that we should meet the neighbors but was going to ignore it. We had other people to go visit, I really didn't want to bother him, and it was late. 

Then I remembered...a few days before I had been studying "Recognizing the Spirit" in the "Preach My Gospel" manuel that we, as missionaries study daily.  In the "Recognizing the Spirit" section, it discusses how in order to know if it is a prompting or not...we need to act. It adds, that as disciples of Christ we need to be willing to get out of our comfort zone to follow promptings. I boldly told Sister Kelly that we needed to go back and knock on the door. 

We knocked and someone shouted,  "Who is it?" We said, "The missionaries," and I for sure thought we were going to be ignored after that. But then a woman came and opened the door and quickly ushered us in. She told us to come in and sit down. We were so confused! Never had I been invited into a home at a "door approach." She acted like she was waiting for us. When we got into the family room, it all made sense. Who was on the couch? None other than Alex McClain.  

In short, we had been knocking on the wrong door FOR THE PAST THREE MONTHS.  Brother McClain told us that they had been waiting for us since last Tuesday and just thought he got the wrong time. We ended up chatting with them for quite some time. They fed us and even offered to take us into D.C. sometime. His wife said that she has always wanted to see the Christmas temple lights and wants to go with us! Brother McClain also shared that he wants to take his 9 year-old son to our church because it has been over 15 years since he, himself, has gone. His son had never been. It was such a testimony builder to me that Heavenly Father is taking such great care of this work and His children. And especially, that Heavenly Father's unconditional loving spirit guides His missionaries. Sister Kelly and I love this work. "


Sister Kiersten Rossi

Family and friends, what a remarkable story. I am so grateful I was a part of it. What a week!

And as always, I love you all! 

Sister Elizabeth Kelly 

The Hudners

Haksong's Korean friend who we were teaching. He went back to Korea.
Note his outstretched arm...he is a pro at the "selfies."

The snow never bothered us anyway....#Frozen