While on my mission I can be contacted at ashley.lynch@myldsmail.net

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Big Bad Willie to Brother Houser

We had out first interviews with President and Sister Stratford this week! They are wonderful and have so much love for each of us already. Something that President Stratford has invited us all to do, and I would extend this invitation to all of you as well, is to really focus on our nightly prayers. That is such a  sacred time we have each day to account to the Lord the things we have done and tell him how we feel about the things we experienced throughout the day. I promise that as you come to the Lord and pour out your hear that he will ease your concerns, answer your questions and let you feel how much he loves you. Those assurances are what keep me going everyday.

"I went from Big Bad Willie to Brother Houser." Bill was baptized this Saturday! It is always a wonderful and special experience to witness one of God's children make such sacred covenants that will alter the course of their lives. Bill has already made so many changes in his life to come closer to his Heavenly Father and his Savior. I have come to love hims o much as I have served him and been an instrument in the Lord's hands to help him get here. I cannot begin to express to you the joy I feel! God is going to do amazing things with him on this journey he has just embarked on. Funny thing though, he didn't show up Sunday to be confirmed and receive the Holy Ghost....we had a nice long talk about recognizing when the spirit is telling you things and when it is someone else. He will officially be a member next Sunday, you can count on that.

I want you all to know my testimony of how much our Heavenly Father loves each of us. God knows us and loves us each of us individually. All he wants is to help us reach our divine potential he has seen in us from the beginning, because we literally are his children and there is a piece of his divinity always with us. He will give us correction, but always out of love so we can learn and grow. God only wants to build us up to reach that potential, so he would never tell us anything about ourselves that is degrading, discouraging or disappointing. If you do have these thoughts, you are listening to the wrong voice, which is are challenge many of us have to overcome. I would plead with you to do the things God has asked of you aren't prepare yourself to hear the voice of the spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Strive to listen to the Spirit! I love you all, just keep smiling!

Monday, July 10, 2017

God Answers Prayers Because He Cares

 Everyday I think about how amazing it is that God places us exactly where we need to be. He is so mindful of all of his children and what they need, I am so grateful to be his hands and part of that delivery system.

First off, Bill Houser. He has been working towards baptism for a very long time and recently he told the sisters that if he prayed about a date to be baptized and got the same answer they did he would know for sure it is what God wanted for him. Well, on the 4th of July while Bill was cooking hotdogs for all of us we asked him if he had been praying about a date. He said that he had, but wanted to hear ours first. We told him that we had felt that July 15th was right and as soon as we said that he stopped, his eyes got wide and said, "No way! That is the day I thought of too!" Bill is so ready and very excited for his baptism this upcoming Saturday. It is amazing that the Lord knew he needed that kind of witness and provided it to him.
Bill, Sister Asay and I
God knows the kinds of answers we all need, even if we don't. I have experienced so many answers to prayers for myself lately and none of them have been in ways I expected, but they always come. Often times the Lord wants us to make a decision and come to him for confirmation. Like one of our friends lately has been struggling with making a very big decision. She never felt a definite answer from God as she prayed, but she felt Him pulling her in a specific direction and was able to find peace in that answer. That is the key, is being humble enough to accept the answer even if it doesn't come in the way we expect or hope for.

Thursday we had exchanges and oh boy was it raining that day. It started pouring as soon as we left the apartment and all we had that morning was knocking doors. We looked absolutely ridiculous trudging through the pouring rain and now flooded streets trying to find those who were whole and ready to hear the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Despite the elements we were smiling all the way and the thought came to me that nothing is worth more than sharing the gospel, no shoes or possessions, comfort or pride. We met many wonderful people that day who I know were put in our path for a reason.

Last night was so cool. We ended the night with Tom who we met sitting in his garage as we were walking down the street. He waved us up his drive and set chairs out for us and we talked about the beauty of God's plan for each of us. He just kept saying how neat this situation was and how much he was going to thank god for it. Before we left he offered a prayer and said that he usually doesn't talk to people like us but thanked God for having him keep his garage open that day and that we walked down his street.

I am so grateful to be a part of this great work and to experience people's prayers being answered everyday. I love in the Doctrine and Covenants 103:36 where it says,
"All victory and glory is brought to pass unto you through your diligence, faithfulness, and prayers of faith." I know that we will be successful in life when we realize who has control. As we are diligent in our faith in Christ and rely on the Lord through prayer w will receive answers according to our faith and willingness to act. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Just keep smiling!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Becometh as a Child

This week was great! It was my first full week here in Piqua, there has definitely needed to be some adjustment but I am loving it!

We are working with some awesome people! I told you a bit about the Schaeffers last week, they are still doing awesome. It is just the coolest thing to have a whole family learning together and making changes to come closer to Christ. Everything is so much more meaningful as a family because that is how God intended it to be.
There is also Bill who has actually been meeting with sisters for about a year and now his son Chad is as well! They are working towards baptism and it is so cool that they have each other to learn from and to support each other
. I'm telling ya, learning as a family is the way it's supposed to be.

I always love that God knows exactly what we need. I have been constantly growing when it comes to opening my mouth, but I am pretty sure I am going to hit my growth spurt here with Sister Asay. She really helps me push myself and reach my goals, and most of the time I really appreciate her tough love. 

This week we met our new mission president. President and Sister Stratford seem great and I love them already. I cannot wait for interviews coming up and getting to know them both better! 

Something I have been thinking and studying about a lot lately is about learning to do God's will. I really love the scripture Mosiah 3:19
"For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."

Our whole purpose here on this earth is to learn how to align our will with our Heavenly Father's and strive to become like Him. I know that we do that by following the spirit who teaches us to rely on and follow Christ. I know that as we do this and are humble and full of love we will have greater joy in life.

I love you all, hope you have a fantastic week! Just keep smiling!


Monday, June 26, 2017


I am in Piqua, OH! Boy are there a lot of cornfields. We are serving in the smallest ward I have ever seen, but there are still two sets of missionaries because we cover a lot of ground. My new companion is Sister Asay and she is a blast! Missions are so bizarre, we just get thrown with a person we know nothing about and immediately go out to share the gospel together. It is truly a beautiful thing, I just hope the adjustment gets quicker each time I do it.

I was very excited to come to Piqua, but not quite as excited as Sister Speakman was for me. This is the area she served in before joining me in Hilliard and I was so excited to meet the awesome people she has told me so much about. And they are awesome, it always amazes me the capacity of love Heavenly Father allows us to feel.

There is a particular family I am so excited about. They are the Schaeffers, their father is a member and now his wife and both of their kids are working towards baptism! They are such genuine people and have hearts of gold. I love being a missionary!

Something I have been thinking a lot about is from my studies this week.   
1 Nephi 21:15-16
15 For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel.
16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
Jesus Christ will never, and can never, forget us because of the incredible sacrifice He performed in our behalf. He knows everything we go through and everything we feel and will be by our side to help us through all of it if we let Him. So I would encourage all of you to find ways to allow Him to be a bigger part of your life and I promise that you will find greater peace and success. 
I love you all, just keep smiling!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Happy Transfers!

Well, I'm saying goodbye to Hilliard. It has been amazing here and I have met so many wonderful people, it is going to be hard to go. I am excited for what is in store though and to arrive in the next place the Lord needs me to be!

This week has been awesome! I saw fireflies for the first time, we went to a baseball game, and we had 8 investigators at church this week! 
Lately I have been learning a lot about faith and trusting in my Heavenly Father. Sometimes it is easy to doubt, because honestly it doesn't take any effort, but I know that if we put the work into exercising our faith that we will be able to experience true joy. I did a lot of that learning on exchanges this week with our amazing Sister Training Leaders, which is also when I saw fireflies for the first time.
We went to the Columbus Clippers Baseball game because my amazing companion was invited to be a part of a choir of missionaries to sing the National Anthem. It was pretty weird to be in the real world like that, but we got to talk to a ton of people!
Probably the most exciting thing though was having so many wonderful people join us in worshiping
our Savior this Sunday! Some of the Salem family was there, as well as a new family we met (The Galbans), and Rachel and Daniel! Our ward did an amazing job of making sure everyone was taken care of and had a friend. All of these amazing people have such a special place in my heart that will always be there. I'm sad I won't get to be here myself for all of it, but I can't wait to hear about the amazing things things in store for them as they continue to come closer to Jesus Christ.

This past week was Father's Day and I have been thinking a lot about all the amazing men that have influenced my life; my father, grandfathers, uncles, friends. Something that really struck me with all the talk of fathers this Sunday was the reality of our Heavenly parents. Of all the things we could call God, He asks that we call Him Father. I know that He loves each one of us individually and perfectly, and that he wants for us to turn to Him and know of that love. I am so grateful for the influence of my heavenly parents in my life in addition to all my earthly role models. I encourage you all to continue to develop your relationship with your Heavenly Father, because the closer we are to Him the more peace and joy we will have in our lives.

I love you all, just keep smiling!
The Salem Family

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Being Sister Lynch

This week has been a truly great week and I feel so good! Heavenly Father has blessed us with some truly awesome experiences!
Our week started with an incredible example of member missionary work. I have talked before about how the greatest way to share the gospel is through love and service. Well a sister in our ward has recently developed a friendship with her neighbor and they talk about life and all the little and big things. Well, often gospel topics will come up in conversation. The Sister in our ward told her friend about the missionaries and how all they do is teach lessons that answer a lot of her questions, and asked if she would like to meet us. It is such a simple thing that I think we often make too big a deal out of. We were able to meet her neighbor and have a normal, enjoyable conversation where any other person wouldn't have realized it, but we taught her the whole first lesson. AND she wants to meet with us again. So many miracles can come from just the simple act of faith of inviting.

So last Monday we probably met one of the coolest people ever. Her name is Rachel and we met her outside her apartment walking her dog. We started talking to her like any other random person we meet, but it soon became a very unique conversation. I think my favorite thing about her is how many questions she asks and that everything we ask her she asks right back to us, and you can tell she cares about the answer and sees us as real people and not just missionaries. That first night she eagerly put her dog away and grabbed a blanket so we could sit outside and teach her. It has only been a week since we met her, but she has invited her boyfriend to learn as well and they are both doing awesome! They read the Book of Mormon together and probably offer the most sincere prayers I have ever heard. They are just so humble and have a true desire to learn. I have no doubt that Heavenly Father has been preparing them and that He put her in our path that night for a reason. I love being a missionary!

This week we had our last Zone Conference with President and Sister Daines, and we got to go to the temple! I have missed the temple so much and it was a blessing to be able to go again. There were so many wonderful things that I learned this conference, but the main theme that hit me was prayer.  We talk about prayer so much with our investigators, that that is how they will find answers. We teach them how to pray, what to pray for, who they pray to, and the way answers will come. We as missionaries pray so much and I have noticed that if we are not actively working on it, like with all things, it is easy to become complacent. So my focus now is going to be on my prayers, and applying all of those principles we try to help our investigators understand. Because effective prayer requires great effort.

Something I have been focusing on a lot lately is "Being Sister Lynch." That may seem like an odd thing, but I have noticed that the more I think about all the things I have to do, the more I get in the way of myself. So, I have been putting more emphasis on putting myself out there and showing my personality and things have been a whole lot different and I have been able to be more effective. I know that there are people here who need me specifically, they need my type of personality to help them understand this message. I have become a more effective instrument in the Lord's hands when I allow Him to use me, Sister Lynch, not just some person with a tag on who tells people about the gospel. So I would encourage each of you to just be yourself. Open up and put yourself out there so the Lord can use you to reach others. Because I know there are people in your lives who need you specifically, so serve others and let them see who you are. 
I love you all! Just keep smiling!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Go About Doing Good

This week has been a weird one, but still good. There have been a lot of ups and downs, and funny things that happened.
Up: we had a translator at a lesson with the Salems family for the first time this week which was so cool! It was so nice to be able to hear everything the parents were saying to us and know that they will be hearing all of our words as well. 
Down: even though we had a translator things are still going to be a challenge. It is especially hard on their mom who told us she doesn't want us coming over as often. They also didn't come to church this Sunday. We are very anxious, but we will keep doing everything we can for their family and we have faith that the Lord will take care of it all.
Funny: yesterday was a very warm day, and from what we saw on the weather it was going to stay that way. Wrong. As we were walking yesterday evening it instantly got about 10 degrees cooler and the wind picked up. We were caught in off-and-on thunderstorms without jackets for the rest of the night. It was awesome. Thankfully we met some really cool people that we talked to and got to get out of the rain for a little bit with.

This week seemed to be all about service. We got to do a lot of painting this week which was a blast! We helped out our good friend Jeannie who we met a little while back at her garage sale, and then a sister in our ward that we help regularly. We have also been talking a lot to the members in our ward about service, because it is through those small acts that others can recognize us as disciples of Christ. There is a video about gratitude from this Easter's Prince of Peace initiative that I really love that I would encourage all of you to watch. 

I know that our own gratitude for the blessings in our life is the purest drive we have to serve others. So carry with you an attitude of gratitude and I can promise that your actions will distinguish you as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
I love you all, just keep smiling!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Happy Memorial Day!

First off, I don't think I could tell you how much I love the Salem family. My love for them grows constantly. It is such a unique feeling, and I don't think I have ever been more invested in someone's life or cared about them so deeply. They are amazing though, especially their father. We have been putting a lot of effort lately into making sure their parents are included in our discussions despite the language barrier. We are working on being able to have a translator for church and lessons and have even started working on the long term goals of them learning English. There is a member of our ward that came up with the idea to have a Sunday school class dedicated to teaching English in a gospel setting that we, as well as the Salems, are very excited about. But having the children translate works well enough now and we have been able to have some wonderful conversations. The other day their father expressed how much he desires to follow Jesus Christ, and that he is ready for this new knowledge so he can do that more fully. Our last lesson with them was probably the best we ever had. Their mom was actively engaged for the first time which was so wonderful. At one point Jumana, the daughter, asked us why she had to pray and ask if these things were true if she already knew. This family has so much faith, but of course we talked about how vital that witness from the Holy Ghost is for their testimony. And at the end of the lesson, instead of arguing over who prayed last and who had to this time, they fought over who got to pray and then who got to pray first when we told them they both could. It just gives me so much joy to be a small part of this family's life and to help them make these change in their lives so they can be even closer to Jesus Christ.

Today, our ward put on a Memorial Day 5K and breakfast (which we got to participate in). It was so much fun, but to prepare for it this week we spent a lot of time visiting members and committing them to invite their friends and neighbors. It surprised me how many people were actually excited for this invitation. I have a very strong testimony of how important this is, because no matter how hard we as missionaries work, the work cannot go forward without the help of the ward and our leaders. I am so grateful for the awesome ward I get to serve in who is so excited to do missionary work and share the gospel in the best way-by This week was great and full of learning like usual!
simply loving those around them.

I mentioned before the commitment President Daines had given me to become equal with my companion in opening my mouth. Well the day before interviews, which is when he would be following up with me, I had a very sudden and emotional  realization that I had not made it there. I was a mess. Sister Speakman did not ignore the distance I still had to go, but she gently invited me to think about how far I have come lately. And then she simply asked me what I thought President would say to me the next day when I told him. The first thing that came to mind was the feelings that I have when I repent, when I recognize that I have fallen short despite my efforts and ask for help to be better. I always have feelings of immense love from my Savior because He knows I am trying. And what I felt from President Daines in our interview was a shadow of that. I am so grateful for my ability to keep moving forward, even though sometimes I slip up, because my  Savior was able to say "Thy will, O Lord, be done."

Yesterday while preparing for the Sacrament we sang that hymn and the last verse reads,
"We take the bread and cup this day
In mem'ry of the sinless One,
And pray for strength, that we may say,

As he, "Thy will, O Lord, be done."
That line really hit me as we sang that. I am so grateful that because my Savior had the courage to be perfectly obedient, I can rely on Him to have the strength to do so as well. Life may seem hard and we are all far from perfect, but through the Savior, we can keep moving forward.

We Ran!

Our new District

Sister Speakman and I

Monday, May 22, 2017

From trainee to JC

It has only been four short days since my last update, but it has been a roller coaster. First of all, Sister Speakman and I are staying together another transfer! AND I have officially finished my training, at least that's what they say. It doesn't really feel like it. But we keep moving forward, and things are going great!

Crazy awesome stuff! The Salem family (the one I told you about last time, whose parents don't speak English) is doing amazing! We are looking for more ways to effectively teach their parents, but they have a Book of Mormon and most of the pamphlets in Arabic which they read. All of them except their oldest son came to church this Sunday! How dedicated is that for the parents to come to church even though the service was in English. They are such special people and have a sincere desire to learn. That desire is so sincere that they are working towards baptism! We are so excited for their family, they are some of the greatest people I have ever met.

I have also been focusing on just being myself. Keith and Sister Speakman brought to my attention that I am very relaxed and speak freely around those I love (which is normal). But they also pointed out that I would be a lot more effective as a missionary and people would care more about what I was saying if more people got to see that. So that has been my focus and it has been amazing! It was really hard at first, but I have felt so much more comfortable the more open and genuine I am. Or at least I am really good at convincing myself I am comfortable. I am developing a strong testimony in the "fake it til you make it" principle.

We have been doing a lot of visits with less active members in our ward,  which honestly has been the hardest part of my week. Our Relief Society President gave us a list of names of women in our ward who need visits or don't come to church and we have been trying to see as many as we can. I know a lot of you are probably wondering what the hard part about this is, but it is simply seeing how quickly people can forget the blessings of living the gospel. As missionaries we put  so much time into helping others come to know Christ's restored gospel and it hurts my heart to see those blessed to have it forget it's importance. I know that it is the simple acts of living the gospel, like prayer, scripture study, and going to church, that keep our testimonies strong and living. Our Heavenly Father has given us so many things like the scriptures, prayer, family, our ward families, and most importantly our Savior Jesus Christ, that we can rely on to stay strong. We are to endure to the end, but nowhere does it say that we must endure alone.

That relates a lot to what I would like to share with you this week. It comes from Alma 38:2
"And now, my son, I trust that I shall have great joy in you, because of your steadiness and your faithfulness unto God; for as you have commenced in your youth to look to the Lord your God, even so I hope that you will continue in keeping his commandments; for blessed is he that endureth to the end."
As we learn now to be committed to God and build our faith in Him, we will not easily stray. We can have those blessings and the strength to endure to the end, even when we face the most difficult trials, as we look to the Lord in all things.

I love you all, just keep smiling!
The sun shines, even when it's raining buckets!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"Read Until It Hurts"

There are so many awesome things we experience as missionaries and I wouldn't trade any of it for the world. There was an experience last Monday that made my favorites list. We went to go see a referral and it wasn't at all what I expected. This 10 year old kid came out of the house and was sent to apologize to us for making us come, and that made us so sad.  What happened was he accidentally called missionaries in California and when they asked if he would like to meet with missionaries he said yes. So that's where we come in and we assured him that he wasn't wasting our time at all and we really do want to talk to him. After a few minutes of trying to get to know him a bit his friends at the park see him and walk over wanting to know what was going on and who we were. So we told them and started talking to them about what we do as missionaries. One of the girls sat down and before long all six of us were sitting on the sidewalk in front of this kids house eating sour patch kids this girl was pulling out of her pocket and talking about Jesus Christ. We were able to share with them the whole message of the Restoration of Christ's gospel and have a wonderful conversation. That is something I will always remember and I hope they will too. We wanted to make sure they remembered the name of our church before we left so we covered our tags and this one boy said (basically jumping up and down) "I know! The Church of Jesus and the After Saints!....or something like that." It was the best thing I have ever heard someone call us.

We met this crazy awesome family this past week! Meeting with them just makes us so happy. Last Wednesday we were trying to visit someone but they ended up not being home, but Sister Speakman had a feeling we should knock on the door across the way so of course we did. We met a young woman and we started to share the message of the restoration with her at the door, but she stopped us and asked if we would like to come in and meet the rest of her family.  Of course we would! Their family moved to the United States about three years ago and started practicing Christianity when they did. They are so interested in learning more about Jesus Christ and they wanted us to come back and share more with them. We have been going back since then and reading from the Book of Mormon with them and talking about who Jesus Christ is and what He means for each of us. Testifying of Jesus Christ and explaining the gospel to someone with little knowledge of Christianity has really strengthened my own testimony and love for Jesus Christ. We teach the three teenagers, and then they share with their parents who don't speak English. They are some of the kindest people I have ever met and are truly seeking. I cannot wait to see how having to gospel will bless their lives.

This week has definitely been a hard one. It is really hard that Satan is so loud almost all of the time and the Holy Ghost has to speak so quietly. But I am learning to listen better to the right voice, and even though it is hard right now I know that the more I do what I know is true the better I will be able to hear it. What I want everyone to please remember is to go to the right sources, don't judge or dispute anything until you have done sufficient research from notable sources. Like when you have a representative of Jesus Christ and the church in front of you, don't ignore them and then trust the first result on Google as truth. The theme this week has been for people to tell us all the reason they believe we are wrong and why our personal testimonies don't stand. It has been really hard on us, but I know that I cannot deny what I know to be true. No matter how shaky my testimony has felt because of these attacks on the church and us personally, I know it still stands. Lots of prayers and having a wonderful companion have been a huge strength in this time. Satan can tell us some pretty awful lies, like that we aren't doing our best or aren't on the right path, but I know that in the times that feel hardest if we pray and really listen our Heavenly Father will bless us with guidance and comfort. Like my very wise companion told me, if we just go one moment and one decision at a time, and choose in all the small moments to do our best, we will be alright.

2 Nephi 32:3
"Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do."

I want all of you to know how much I love the scriptures. I remember a time when it was hard for me to sit down and get myself to read the scriptures, but now an hour is just not long enough. It is so incredible to me that the scriptures literally contain the words of Christ and the things our loving Father in Heaven would have us know. It has been amazing how every time I fervently pray, and really need something, I find exactly what I need in my scripture study the next morning. I can promise you that if you humbly pray to God and really seek, you will always find our answers in the scriptures because that is how God speaks to us. We were talking to Keith last week about scripture study and we asked him what he though it meant to "feast upon the words of Christ." He said it's like Thanksgiving, where we eat until it hurts and we feel like we are going to burst. So Keith's advice to all of us is to "read until it hurts" and I can add my witness to that, because in doing that we can find great strength.

Monday, May 8, 2017

"I'm so glad I don't missionary alone!"

We got a new car! It always amazes me how much they trust 18 and 19 year old kids, but they sent us on our way with a brand new Chevy Malibu. I probably will never drive such a new car again in my life. And the best part is we no longer have to share!

  Heavenly Father is absolutely amazing. He gives us strength where we lack, He accomplishes the impossible, His plan for all of His children is perfect.

  He gives me strength where I lack: I have been working hard to keep President's commitment to me of being equal with my companion at opening my mouth, and let me tell you, it is so hard. I can't believe how much I get in His way. When I just let go it is amazing what the Lord does through me, and our teaching is so powerful. But sometimes I still let my own fears keep Him from working those miracles with me, even though I have seen them before. I have seen what can be done when I just open my mouth and say the words the spirit gives me, our challenge now is to make those amazing powerful moments more consistent. I know with the Lord's strength I will be able to keep my commitments.

  He can accomplish the impossible: We are His hands and as long as we keep working hard and doing all that is asked of us, His work can be done and miraces will come about. We set goals everyday, and as long as we keep pushing to the very end and have the faith that the Lord will provide, we always meet them. There have been countless times this has happened, like the other night where we found a new investigator in the last 15 minutes of our day. She was very closed off at first but we were literally able to see the spirit work on her and open her heart. Last night was especially amazing. Half an hour before we had to go home we knocked on the door of a woman who used to meet with the missionaries, we talked for a while and she really wanted to start meeting with us again. Before I really got what was happening, Sister Speakman extended the invitation to be baptized and the woman accepted! I am learning everyday that a lot of times what the Lord has planned or is asking us to do, does not make logical sense, but we have to just run with it and have the faith that He has a better way than us.

  He has created a perfect plan for all of His children: The highlight of my week was this Friday night when we were able to accompany our recent convert Keith to the temple for the first time! Our Father's plan for us is perfect, He has given us everything we need in this life to return back to Him. One of those necessary things to return back to Him is baptism by His authority. The temple is a very special and sacred place where baptism, and other saving ordinances, are performed  in behalf of those who did not have the opportunity to receive them during their time in this life. Again, our Father's plan is perfect, no one is left out. Keith had the amazing opportunity to be baptized for his own brother, and it brought tears to my eyes knowing that he is giving his brother the same opportunity that has brought him so much joy.

Keith at the Temple!
  Quote of the week, "I'm so glad I don't missionary alone!" -Sister Speakman. I'm so glad I don't have to missionary alone either. I'm so glad I don't do life alone! I have an amazing family, some fantastic friends, and wonderful companions to help me face it all. Most importantly though I know that no matter what any of us are facing, we always have the support of our Savior Jesus Christ. Something I have been thinking a lot about lately is how amazing it is that we can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Often when we talk to people about their personal relationship they will indirectly answer our questions or talk about something totally unrelated, and I am starting to realize that many people don't know they can or don't know how to have a personal relationship with their Savior. I am so grateful for this knowledge. I know I am just at the beginning of my life and the start of my journey of coming to know my Savior, but I am more grateful everyday that I can know Him and that He knows me.

 I love you all, just keep smiling!

Monday, May 1, 2017

In His Strength I Can Do All Things

We had interviews this week! I love interviews with President and Sister Daines, although this one was a little intimidating because we would be teaching them the first lesson. It wasn't that bad though and interviews were just as wonderful and packed with learning. We talked a lot about fortifying ourselves and how important it is to build up that protection in the good times when it doesn't seem like Satan is fighting us as hard. That was such an interesting thing to discuss after my realization last week that it is just going to be a continual cycle of pushing through the battles just to reach another one. Satan knows us and knows where our shortcomings and weaknesses are, and that is where he will go for first. I would encourage everyone to really look at yourself and if you don't know where he hits you to find out so you can start fortifying yourself now, even if it may seem like a time of peace. 

President Daines left me with a commitment like he usually does, and it was that by next interviews I will be able to say I am equal with my companion in opening my mouth. This week as I have been working on that the changes have been incredible in just this short time. Sister Speakman and I have become more unified, I am following the spirit more, and our teaching is much more powerful. I am very excited for the progress yet to come so I can keep that commitment.

So I told you last time about the Little girl we met who wanted to learn more about Jesus. Well her name is Alexis and she is the sweetest thing. We were a little late for our appointment earlier this week and apparently she was very disappointed because she thought we weren't coming. But when she answered the door she was basically jumping up and down. I had never taught anyone that young before so it was definitely an educational experience on how to teach simply. I am so thrilled by how excited she is about everything and so happy that we are helping her build that foundation in Christ at such a young age. I was so blessed to have that growing up, and that's really the reason I came on a mission. So knowing I am helping others have that same opportunity makes me so happy.

Rick came to church! I don't remember how much I told you about his situation, but he was on date for baptism and working through some things but a few weeks ago told us he wanted a break from meeting with us and everything. We keep in contact with him every once in a while just to see how he was doing and the other day I don't even remember what I said, the spirit had definitely taken over at that point, but before we knew it he said, "you know, you're right. I'll see you at church Sunday." And we did! I hope this is a step in the direction of us being able to meet with him again and help him continue to work towards baptism.

With the experiences I have been having and struggles I have been facing lately, my mind keeps going back to my favorite scripture in the Book of Mormon, Alma 26:11-12
      11 But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.
      12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

We can have so much joy in our lives when we realize that we truly cannot do anything on our own. When we humble ourselves enough to rely on the Lord we will be granted the strength to do all things. As I am learning how to more fully rely on the Lord I have been able to do things I know I otherwise would not be capable of. I find so much comfort in knowing I don't have to worry about anything because I will always have the support of He who is capable of all things.

I love you all. And remember, just keep smiling!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Walking by Faith, I am Blessed Every Hour

You know what's hard about improvement and overcoming struggles? Once you reach the top of the hill you've been working hard to climb you can see the next obstacle you need to overcome and even more ways you now need to improve. It will never end, but that's the beauty of Heavenly Father's plan for us right? Our existence is an eternal progression, there will always be more to learn and ways to better ourselves.

This week was full of learning, and it started off with exchanges. I was with the amazing Sister Gruver who took me out on OSU my first night here. I actually had a feeling we were going to be companions when I first got here, so we kept joking that I was kind of right since we got to be companions for a day. The biggest lessons I learned that day were about following the spirit. I realized that I follow the spirit and receive promptings more often than I think, but I think too much and don't recognize where it's coming from. The greatest piece of advice she gave me was to not even worry about where it's coming from and to just say whatever comes into my head, because if it is a good thought and I'm trying to fulfill my purpose then I can trust it is from the spirit. That is something I have been trying to implement this week and it is hard to keep myself from thinking too much, but it is a whole lot easier when I am able to let go and not worry about saying the "wrong thing." Funny story, at the end of our day we met a man who was super nice, shook our hands and had  a pretty great conversation with him. Sister Gruver tried to set up an appointment, but he said not any time soon because he has pink eye and wouldn't want us to get it. When he said that I just froze, and guess what I was doing....rubbing my eye. I usually feel so much love for the people we talk to, but I had to repent because those were not the feelings I had for him after that and all I could thing was why in the world would he shake our hands if he knows he has pink eye. My miracle of the week though was that I didn't get it! Sanitizer and prayers work.
Sister Gruver and I
This whole week has been full of experiences where the Lord has led us to the people he has been preparing. It seems like every day we put people in our plans and either they aren't home or don't want to talk to us, but we run into someone amazing and there is no doubt in my mind that God had us go to that area specifically for them.
  There was a woman the other morning who was in a hurry, but as soon as we started talking about Jesus Christ she broke down and really opened up to us about all the struggles she is going through and how relying on the Lord is the only thing getting her through. It was truly humbling because in that moment that I was able to testify of the peace that Jesus Christ and His restored gospel can bring her I had an overwhelming feeling of what it truly meant to be called as a representative of Christ. 
  The other night we met a man on the street who had talked with missionaries for years whenever some would stop by, but he had never really been taught much. He is absolutely amazing, and told us how him and his wife just recently talked about finding another church to go to. I think my favorite thing about our conversation is that he really understands prophets. Most people just move on after we say God called another prophet, which is so hard because I want to help them understand how incredible that is. But we had no problem with it this time because he gets how profound that is, and basically set up his own return appointment and invited himself to church.
  That same night we had a goal to have one more new investigator, but it was 8:45 and time for us to bike home. I think it is so amazing how the Lord blesses us when our faith is completely stretched. As we were about to leave that particular neighborhood we stopped and talked to this man in his driveway. We talked a lot about his faith and how it has blessed him and shared some of our message. He invited us back and I am so excited to teach his cute little family. 
  This is a crazy one. Last night we met a woman cleaning her car with her little daughter. It turns out she was raised in the church, but stopped going as a teenager. She now practices another religion, but really wants her daughter to learn so she can make a decision for herself someday. Her daughter asked her about going to church the other day and has been wanting to know about Jesus. After those recent events we show up and have this conversation, in the middle of it she tells her daughter that we would come and teach her more about Jesus. Yes we will!

The Lord works in mysterious ways and I know that if we look around we can see the miracles happening all around us. As we walk with faith and have trust that the Lord will direct our path, we will often be blessed to be an instrument by which those miracles happen.
"The Lord is my light; the Lord is my strength.
I know in his might I’ll conquer at length.
My weakness in mercy he covers with pow’r,
And, walking by faith, I am blest ev’ry hour."

I love you all! Just keep smiling!