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

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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!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Happy Easter!

There seemed to have been a theme this week, and that is how important the message of Christ's restored gospel truly is. Our challenge this week as a companionship has been figuring out how to help people understand that we aren't just another church inviting them to come out for Easter, but that we share a unique message of how Christ's original gospel has been restored to the earth. It truly is a challenge and we try very hard not to get frustrated, prayer is a huge help with that. Talking with so many people everyday about this though really makes me appreciate the knowledge I have and see how much it blesses me everyday.

We have also been doing a ton of work with the members in our ward which has been so great! We put at least one family in our schedule everyday and share a message with them. The most important thing though is we always leave a commitment, an invitation to share the gospel with their friends in some way. It has been really neat to follow up with that and to hear about their personal experiences. Our ward truly is amazing already and is missionary minded, but it is so great how this extra interaction is making that excitement even greater! 
Stopped by a sister's home while she was making Russian food, blessing!
Have I told you that I absolutely love Zone Conference?! I love interacting with so many other missionaries I don't get to see on a regular basis and the opportunity to receive counsel from President and Sister Daines. They truly are amazing. I think what made me happiest was when we came in for the first meeting and we got to give Sister Daines a hug as we walked in and were able to shake President's hand. He looked into my face and with the biggest smile told me how wonderful and different I look. He was going to continue but he just smiled and said I knew what he meant. I definitely do know exactly what he meant, and that excited approving look on his face made my day. I feel so different and am so much more comfortable and confident than I ever have been and I feel wonderful, I am just thrilled that there is an outward expression of that. You know how I said helping people understand the Restoration has been the theme for us this week? Well it was actually a huge theme in our Zone Conference this Friday as well, how ironic. We discussed how teaching about the Restoration is not about the event, but we should be referring people to the doctrine and the actual truths we are so lucky to have, like the Gift o the Holy Ghost and knowing our families can be together forever. We also talked about the many resources and media we have available to us as missionaries to use in teaching. It was shocking for me to learn about things I didn't even know existed and to see how we aren't even close to using our materials to their fullest. That is something Sister Speakman and I have decided to focus on as a companionship and it really has been great so far. 

We ended the conference in probably the best way possible. They gave us time at the end to share our testimonies if we would like to. The spirit was so strong there and I really enjoyed listening to the experiences and testimonies of my fellow missionaries. It really made me think about my own experiences and lessons I have been learning recently. I think with this transfer and getting a new companion and all the changes that have been happening, it has been a reminder of just how aware the Lord is of me personally. Every experience we have, person we interact with, companion we are given, or trial we are experiencing, is given to us because the Lord knows it is exactly what we need at that moment to grow into the person He know we can become. Well, as I was listening and pondering I could feel President Daines looking at me. He actually wasn't looking at me much at all, but I could almost feel that he was thinking about me. After one Elder had finished speaking, President stood up and said, "Sister Lynch, would you please share your testimony?" I kind of just stared at him for a second because I was shocked and really don't like getting up in front of people, but of course I did because he asked me to. I shared what I just shared with you about being reminded that God does know us perfectly and knows exactly what we need. After we had ended and everyone else was leaving, President Daines came over to talk to me. With tears in his eyes he asked if I knew why he had called on me. I honestly just started crying because I recognized in that moment exactly what had happened. He explained to me that as he was listening he could feel that someone really needed to share and when he looked out at me he knew I was receiving a prompting and not listening to it, so the spirit had instructed to call on me and not let it pass. I think what troubled me most was that I didn't realize in that moment that it was a prompting, I just thought I was being given thoughts of what I would say if I did feel the need to share. I have come very far, but in some ways I still let my fears get in the way of me opening my mouth. I am just so grateful for an inspired mission president who loves me enough to bring that to my attention and teach me so I can continue to work on that.

So funny story about the mysterious ways God works. Friday night after Zone Conference we stopped to get gas, no big deal. As we went to leave, the doors had been locked somehow....and the keys were sitting on the passenger seat. Sister Speakman and I had no clue when or how the doors had been locked, or when we even shut them, but we were stuck there. Here is the incredible part, for some reason Sister Speakman had been holding both her iPad and our phone. So we were able to call for help and actually be useful for the hour we were stuck at the gas station while someone brought us the extra key. Our ward mission leader actually showed up at the same station to pump gas so we were able to talk to him about things we had been needing to, and we contacted so many other people there and actually got three return appointments. I know that even though it seemed ridiculous that we were locked out of our car, God needed us to stay there for a reason. 
Well, I hope you all had a wonderful Easter yesterday! It is wonderful to have a time set aside to remember our Savior and the sacrifice he performed on behalf of all of us and everyone who has ever and will ever live. I am so grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ, to know that everyday I can repent and become a better person. I can testify that He knows each of you individually, He knows everything you feel and what you struggle with. I find great comfort in knowing that I have someone who loves me unconditionally, who I can confide in and understands me perfectly, and most importantly, who offers me help. It is my prayer that we keep the spirit of Easter with us always, that we may have a reminder of the great gift our Savior, Jesus Christ, has given us. I love you all! Just keep smiling!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Jesus and I Are Tight

Well, as I said in my last post, Sister Hall was transferred. That was definitely a shock for us, and for all our investigators who are taking it pretty hard. I took it pretty hard at first too, but I know what the Lord has in store for us is always better than our plan. My new companion is Sister Speakman and she is wonderful! I don't think you will meet anyone more focused on our purpose and I love it. I have a lot to learn from her and the wonderful example she sets, I will definitely not be the same person a the end of our time being companions. I am so excited for this transfer ahead of us and for everything we have already been able to accomplish!

Hilliard is doing phenomenal, like I honestly cannot believe it. We are meeting so many new people, which has a lot to do with the weather. This means I have also had to talk to a lot of new, random people which is still very uncomfortable, but gets easier everyday. Sister Speakman is absolutely fearless and is just so sweet, I can't help but try to do the things that scare me with her there. 

It has been fun getting to show Sister Speakman where everything is and getting to introduce her to all out amazing investigators. Thank goodness I learned a lot from Sister Hall or this would be a lot scarier haha. It has been fun too getting to teach all the cool people Sister Hall and I had found recently. There is a lady named Carrie who is very active in her church and at the end of our first lesson with her we asked if she would be baptized when the Lord answers her prayers about the truthfulness of our message. Her response was definitely not what I was expecting. She said, "You know, I have been thinking about that. I am pretty upset that I would have to leave my church if I did find out this was true, but the truth is more important right?" She doesn't know it yet, but she is totally getting baptized very soon. And Mike is this sweet guy who has so many wonderful questions. He has such a genuine desire to learn and accepted our invitation to be baptized next month! He has a long way to go, but it is wonderful what can be accomplished with the Lord's help and a goal to shoot for.

We have been biking a ton lately, probably more than I ever have while I have been here. It's really fun when you are riding along a scary road and some members of our ward drive by and cheer you on. I love when people love us! And biking is honestly how we have been able to meet so many people out an about lately. There was this lady the other day who we were trying to talk to, but she was in a rush and just really did not want to talk to us. She stopped just before she ran in her house and said, "You know, Jesus and I are tight" and closed her door (definitely the quote of the week). A few minutes later she runs back out of her house, apologizes for not making time for the Lord's work, and asks if she could pray with us. So we stopped right there on the sidewalk and prayed together. How crazy is that?! And I had someone yell at me and slam the door in my face for the first time this week, it was awesome.

We just keep pushing on and I am loving life. I love being a missionary! Something I have been thinking a lot about lately comes from the Book of Mormon. 
Ether 12:27
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
There are a lot of things about life that are hard, and sometimes we feel that what is required of us is so much bigger than ourselves. Honestly, it is probably true. The Lord gives us these challenges so that we will remember to be humble, and if we choose to rely on Him through those times we will be blessed. There are so many times throughout my day where I remember that the work I am doing is so much bigger than myself and I am merely an instrument in the Lord's hand. I can only be successful if I rely on Him and I can see how much I am being strengthened and growing in the process.
I love you all, just keep smiling!
Sister Speakman and I
Grocery Shopping!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Transfer 1 Done!

Growing up we are always told not to talk to strangers, and then you come on a mission and you are told to forget all that and literally talk to everyone you see. Last Monday after a wonderful lesson with Keith our plans were to walk home from the Bishop's house and talk to people on the way. Our bishop was not thrilled with that idea and either was Keith, but we were grateful for his wife who made the compromise that we would only call if we were going to be late getting home. She helped us out the door and we finally escaped our "stand in dads" arguing about our safety. We did talk to a few people and had some great conversations. So at the end of the night we would have been late getting home, but just before we called the bishop's wife a car pulled up next to us. It was a cute little family we had talked to earlier who didn't like the idea of us walking at night either. So they came and found us and offered us a ride home, which we took without hesitation. I didn't really think about the fact that we just jumped in a stranger's car until we were safely home, but it was a great opportunity to share more of Christ's gospel. Moral of the story, our plans are inspired and talking to strangers is ok as long as the spirit doesn't tell you otherwise and if you give them a pass along card.

In case you didn't know, I love being a missionary! I love teaching lessons and I have had the opportunity to lead quite a few of our discussions this week. That seemed a little scary at first, but it was so much fun. Sister Hall has been helping me a ton with being less awkward. Everyday during our companion study she will chooses a pamphlet at random. I get a few minutes to look over it, and then a few minutes to teach the lesson. That is probably my least favorite thing to do, but also something I wouldn't want to go without in our day. It is helping me so much and we always talk about ways to improve, that list gets shorter and more specific everyday. I am so grateful that prayer works and Heavenly Father is blessing me with this progress so quickly.

I love General Conference! And I love the wonderful members of our ward who invited us to watch it with their families. Something I did this time was not only listen for things I like, but pay close attention to counsel and instruction given. There was so much about the importance of teaching the gospel in the home and the huge roles that families have. There was also a focus on the importance of the little everyday things, like prayer and scripture study, that have a huge part in building our testimonies. Our spiritual experiences are great, but they are only the foundation that we need to be constantly building on through our daily efforts to come closer to our Savior. I think what is so profound to me about conference is that there are a limited number of speakers compared to the many people listening, yet they are so inspired that if we are prayerfully listening we can each receive personal counsel or answers to questions we may have. Something that really spoke to me this conference was when Elder Ransband talked about being a Spiritual First Responder. We need to show the Lord that we appreciate the promptings He blesses us with by acting as quickly as possible. When we do that He will trust us with more. I have been focusing on applying that lesson every day since then and it has been a profound experience. When I am able to look past my fears and just act, I notice so many more promptings from the spirit. And sometimes I don't see an immediate result from my actions, but I know that sometimes the Lord just wants to know if we will follow Him before He entrusts us with something big.

Monday was an amazing day! We actually only had one scheduled lesson, and it was our last one with Steven. We are very sad that he will be moving, but I am so excited for him to start the next phase of his life with this foundation in the gospel he has worked so hard to build. The rest of the day though was full of finding. It was amazing and so much fun! We found the same number of new investigators in a day that we found all of last week! How crazy is that?! Effective planning makes a difference and applying what we have learned from General Conference did amazing things. There was this one family who was hilarious. We knocked on their door and this girl about 15 years old opens it and was super nice. As we are talking to her a lady in the background yells, "Who is it? Is it church people? Tell them we like Satan" The girl just shook her head and apologized that her aunt had a little too much to drink and invited us inside. We were a bit hesitant, but we went in and were able to share a message with their whole family and we are coming back! I love meeting crazy, funny people.

Also, I will be staying in Hilliard this next transfer, but Sister Hall will be leaving. I have loved being companions with her and she has taught me so much. Transfers are way too short, but I am happy to know that it's not the end and I know I will see her later. I am excited to have a new person to be able to learn from!

During this Easter season, the church has put out the Prince of Peace initiative. I would encourage all of you to visit mormon.org and share it with your friends and on social media. On the website there are also eight videos on people's experiences and ways we can all find peace through Christ. It is amazing how many people we have been able to talk to because of the video. I know that through trying times, and even good times, the most effective way to find peace and comfort is by relying on Jesus Christ. 
Roll Tide! Our gifts from Keith. He said it's a trade off, he's going to help us convert now