Monday, October 31, 2016

Mission Prep, Temple Prep & My Week

My mom asked me to focus my thoughts this week on the temple and preparing for a mission.  Of course I'm thinking of Amanda who will soon be a missionary, but these thoughts are very personal and might not apply to everyone, so take what you would like from them . . .

The temple for me as a missionary:  I was really homesick at the beginning of everything.  California, even though it is not Hong Kong, has a totally different feel than Utah. Homes here are different and everything felt messy and crowded,.  The pace of life is fast and nobody wants to listen to you unless they have recently been humbled my the Lord.  When I first got here, we had a missionary out with us who had just returned home from Mexico.  He was shocked when the first door we knocked on was slammed in our face and they yelled at us to go away.  He was more surprised when the people on the street weren't even cordial with us, even if they have nothing better to do. Everything felt superficial and hard.  I was just tired and felt so far away from everything that was comfortable to me. We went to the temple, and the second I walked in, for the first time in two and a half months, I felt like I was at home. I went through the endowment with just complete peace in my heart.  I wasn't worried or scared or tired. I was happy -FINALLY HAPPY.  I cried because I was so relieved to finally feel normal.  Then I went to the celestial room and told God how grateful I was for this home, His home.  I asked Him if I could feel His Spirit.  I feel the spirit powerfully, . . . that is something I have learned since I have been a missionary.  The spirit comes to me with a very distinct feeling, and I can feel it any time I am worthy.  But it usually only lasts a short time and then it leaves.  This time in the temple, it just kept coming.  There was no limit to how much I could feel it and it felt like home.  It was wonderful.  That is why I love the temple.  I care a lot about the covenants I make there and I am keeping them, but on my mission, the peace and happiness I have felt there has been life sustaining for me!  I love the temple because it is the closest thing to our heavenly home that the world offers.  AND YOU CAN FEEL THAT when you go. 

Preparing for a mission:  I hesitate to say much because I feel like I wasn't very prepared when I left, and I still feel under qualified.  I also don't think anyone can specify the best ways to prepare for a mission because everyone needs different things. So I'll tell you what I needed at the beginning of my mission that I didn't have. 

1) Practice teaching as much as you can . . . it is necessary!  You should practice teaching every mission prep class.  So sorry to the instructors who talk a lot, but practicing teaching is the way to go. The more we practice teaching, the better we will get.  
2) Use the best three resources money can provide for missionaries every lesson: Preach my Gospel, The Book of Mormon, and recent RM's. 
3) Sharing mission experiences is wonderful, but a few are enough to motivate each class. They really inspire but too many can be distracting. 
4) The best mission prep class I went to was run by RM's during Sunday school in my singles ward.  It was run with the intent of creating good missionaries. It wasn't the one at the institute, and it wasn't the one I went to at 6am.  It was the one that involved group discussion, practice teaching, and using PMG a ton. 

1) Homesickness- Recognize that you will be homesick for something.  It may be your family, your old culture, watching movies, or living normal life.  Everyone is homesick for something.  I know very few missionaries who are never, and have never been homesick... and the ones who claim it are probably liars:) A good cure for homesickness for me has been journaling, praying, and reading The Book of Mormon. 
2)  New missionaries are many times humble in the fact that they are ready to learn, but prideful because it's hard to be corrected.  Let people correct you, take the blow to your pride, and be better. Sadly you don't know everything, so let your companion help you even if they are crazy. 
3) When you are mad at your companion, which will happen, pray for love and serve them. Those ALWAYS work. 
4) When you are tired and unmotivated, tell your companion, and pray.  Even if you are with your companion just say, "Hey I need to pray, can I have three minutes"?  Then beg God for energy and desire to do the work. HE WILL GIVE IT TO YOU IF YOU ARE WILLING.  The natural man doesn't really want to be a missionary- but God wants you to do it. He will help you. 

1) I wish I would have known the Book of Mormon better. I think the best way to come to know the Book of Mormon would be to memorize scripture references that are often used by missionaries.  (2 Nephi 2 and 32, Alma 5, 11, 40, 32, Ether, 3 Nephi 11....)  Just know the basics of where stories and famous scriptures are. 
2) I wish I had memorized the points in the missionary lessons before I came out. 
3) I wish I had gone out to lessons with the missionaries more. 
4) I wish I had watched the entire "District" (a series provided by the church)
5) You have time on your mission to prepare with things to know. You should prepare beforehand more on the spiritual and emotional side of things.  Make sure you are ready spiritually and emotionally- these are key to success!

MOST OF ALL - GOD LOVES HIS MISSIONARIES!  Missions are hard but really amazing!

So . . . This week was awesome.

I went on exchanges with Sister Montague and Sister McGarry.  Both of these sisters were in the MTC with me,  so it was fun to catch up and be near them again. It's cool to see how they have changed. 

T AND HER KIDS ARE GETTING BAPTIZED THIS WEEK!  That's four people!  The missionaries found T and her kids three weeks before I got here and we have been teaching them 2-3 times a week since I arrived. They are so neat and I really like them.  They are golden investigators, and have been super prepared by the Lord.  They were ready to be baptized when they were found. 

We were driving down the street and a POSSUM fell out of the truck in front of us.  Random!

The YSA elders called us and said they found a lady we could do service for. We went over with the elders to do service. We were raking her leaves and a huge black widow came booking it out of the wall.  I freaked out and Elder Salazar came over and started to playing with it.  NOT SO SMART! Anyway, he killed it with his hand, and he is still alive.  I personally think he is crazy. We ended up teaching the lady who we did service for and it was the first lesson I have ever given in pants.

We also had the Halloween party this week and it was so much fun! The kids did a trunk or treat, and we actually had lots of non-members there.  

Anyway- the church is true like the sky is blue. Have a good week! 

Love, Jes
Our first day together in our new apartment and it was FREEZING COLD!
Think I may be loosing it some nights!
This is as dressed up as we get on Halloween:)

Letting it all out after daily planning!

Beautiful Cali sky

Love Sister Watson

My first day being an STL

Our zone

Stole my comps companion in the bathroom #alwayshavetopeetogether

Glad she's the driver!


THANK YOU Jim, Rach & Family for sending me a Halloween package.  I LOVED IT!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Life is good, God is good . . .

This was a crazy week!  I had my first two exchanges this week and I felt the Spirit so strong.  I know Heavenly Father needs me to be an example to these sisters.  It was hard at times, but we saw so many miracles.  Heavenly Father wants His missionaries to succeed and be happy!

We had a family home evening at the stake president's house with T and her kids. The spirit was so strong. It's amazing what members can do to invite the Spirit! 

On Tuesday morning we went to a less active's house and she was outside.  She said that she wanted to come back to church so we get to meet with her again this week and help her come back. We also found a new investigator in the last five minutes of the evening that day.  It was so neat!  (The part I wasn't going to tell you was that he was really good looking and I was so proud of myself for being able  to talk to him without blushing or stuttering or anything! I acted totally normal!  It was fantastic.:)

We met with another less active family.  He is a surfer and loves the beach and she is a sweet mother. They have met with many missionaries in the past and they tell all the missionaries they want to come to church again.  They just have a hard time getting there.  We are going to love them and keep encouraging them to come!.

We had a stellar lesson with S and C. They are investigators who want to obey God and His will for them.  They have some strong opinions, but they are devout Christians.  They listened to us, and they think our religion is interesting. So we get to keep teaching them! 

I love my companion so much!  It's amazing for us to be back together!  We get along so well and we laugh all the time.  She feels like a sister, and I'm not even kidding.  I could do or say anything with her.  I love her SO MUCH! 

We also had a training from President on how to work with members.   He had some really good ideas but I still am not totally sure how to do it.  SO I decided to ask you all back home, what can a missionary do to help members do missionary work?  

Have a great week!
Love, Jes

Monday, October 17, 2016

Spam & Conversion

This week was crazy! We have been trying to get our feet under us and especially me as I adjust to my new assignment and responsibilities.  We were busier than I think I've ever been.  A few days we forgot to eat lunch!  

On Sunday we had FIVE investigators at church. It was wonderful.  We are teaching a family that I really love. My biggest adventure this week was trying SPAM for the first time.  I actually liked it!  My mom probably won't fix it for me when I get home, so I better enjoy it while I can:)  I am in Westminister which is just north of Huntington Beach.  It is beautiful here and cooler than La Mirada.  I saw the ocean for the first time on my mission!  We were dropping some sister off in Huntington Beach and I was so happy because I love the ocean!

I really love my mission, the work is rolling forward and it is so much fun.  We do lots of tracting- but my new mission president changed the rules. He doesn't want us to plan our day around tracting.  So basically we set appointments with people and when they fall through we tract by them. My area is HUGE compared to my first area, but compared to other missions it's tiny. I'm in the smallest mission in the world.

I've been thinking a lot about conversion and how it can be a difficult process for many.  There are a  lot of negative things, true and untrue, about our church.  Faith is so important in conversion!  Sometimes you have to look at the reasons why the church is true instead of the hard things it says or does. Believe it or not, the "pro" list outweighs the "con" list (I've actually made one).  The doctrines, feelings and opinions in this church are pretty bold.  But you can't forget that the God we believe in destroyed cities because of wickedness and is constantly declaring repentance and rebuking His children for not following his ways.  Even the Savior spoke boldly.  So boldly that they took His life.  Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ do love us SO MUCH. They would do, and have done everything for us, but salvation was never easy. I find for many people it's much easier to not go to church, to not go on a mission, to not obey the word of wisdom, to not read the scriptures, to not be Mormon.... but I believe in God. I know He wants me to do something about the feelings I've had, and when I pray like Joseph Smith did and ask "Which church is correct, or is there a church that is all true" I always receive the answer that it is this church.  Even if we get yelled at all day with this and that and told by others how they hate our church, I still know it is true.  It's not because I'm stubborn or prideful, It's because of the Spirit.  One of my favorite talks this conference was by Elder Ballard entitled, "To Whom Shall We Go?".  Here is  the link: I would recommend it to anyone who is struggling with doubt and fear, or who may feel inadequate or unworthy.  It is wonderful!

I promise that there is nothing in this world you can do that would cut you off from God.  Sin can be forgiven!  That is why we have repentance, so everyone can be worthy to return to God. Even the worst sinners can repent. WE ALL FIT INTO GOD'S PLAN!  We always have.  

Love you all,

Monday, October 10, 2016

Leaving La Mirada with only 24 WEEKS LEFT!

Jessica has been called as a Sister Training Leader (STL) and will be serving in the Huntington Beach North Zone with her previous companion, Sister Watson!  As I asked what STL's do she told me that they only have 2 STL companionships in their mission.  These sisters watch over about 20 sister missionaries (there are about 40 sister missionaries in her mission).  They conduct exchanges, help teach and train, go to leadership meetings,and work with closely with sisters that are struggling.  This will be a new adventure for her and she is excited for the challenge.  She sent some wonderful pictures of a baptism of a sister named Judy who she loves this weekend.   Judy texted me on Saturday and Sunday with pictures.  Her excitement to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was overwhelming.  Here is what she texted me:  "I feel fantastic!  Your daughter is the sweetest, most sincere person I have ever met.  I'm sad she is being reassigned and leaving La Mirada.  I am going to try and meet her for lunch in Huntington Beach.  Thank you for raising a delightful, sweet, darling daughter."

Jessica also sent pictures of members who have become like family to her in the La Mirada Ward.  Here is her letter:

SO this week was a little crazy.  I'll highlight a few things 

1) We had Elder Aldern of the Seventy come visit our mission this week. He is the nicest guy. He said a ton of things we need to work on and do.  I have a list the size of a small planet with things to work on. I was really upset though because I was thinking about how I'm never going to get there, and how it was going to be way to hard.  Then I felt this overwhelming sense of love and peace. God told me how proud He was of me and how much He loved me.  He told me He knew I was going to work on them anyway but He wanted me to know he was proud of where I was. 

2) We had dinner with M&L at In-n-Out.  This is the wonderful couple that joined the church while I was serving in Cypress.  Judy almost came too, but she couldn't make it.  It was so fun to see them and talk about the church.  Mike has one of the strongest testimonies I have ever seen.  

3) Judy was baptized!  The baptism was crazy- we had to do all the set up and take down.  Judy was so excited and the Relief Society had so many treats.  I was asked to give a talk and so I talked about the Holy Ghost.  It was fun! 

4) I'm getting transferred to Huntington Beach and I would write more but I have to go!

Love You All!

Sister Webb
This is Sister Watson and I with Judy.  We will be a companionship again in Huntington Beach!

Judy's dear friend introduced her to the church and this is her friend's son who is a return missionary from Alabama.  He was able to baptize her and it was awesome!

This is Judy and her husband

Brignoni's - a wonderful family from our ward

The wonderful Bishop and Bro. Degner

Wonderful Bro. Oto came out every week with us on splits.  Such a faithful and devoted member!

These are my girls!  The Young Women of our ward!

Another wonderful ward member

Our amazing ward mission leader

The Smith family who made THE BEST GF food for me!

The Price Family

My friend, Katie

Fellowshipping more ward members

A great family in our ward

A family that was reactivated while I was serving here

The Aiono's from Tonga

The Power family - The dad can read minds . . . I'm not kidding!

Such a great baptism!

We found HONEY STICKS last P-Day!  I love these!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Hong Kong and General Conference

FIRST OF ALL . . . AMANDA IS GOING TO BE A MISSIONARY IN HONG KONG CHINA!  I still can't believe it!  I cried when I heard the news.  She will be amazing and I'm going to miss her so much!  My 18 month mark is March 9th, but because of transfers, I won't be coming home until the end of March.  I thought about trying to push getting home a few weeks early so I could see her before she leaves for China on March 8th, but it didn't feel right, so I'll just have to write her and pray for her!  


So if you wouldn't mind, send me your favorite quote, line, paragraph, talk- whatever!  I just loved the whole darn thing!  

So here are some fun things that happened this week-

1) On Saturday night we decided to go to Brother Moriel's house (we never go on Saturday night- he is always working). We caught him outside and invited him to come to conference with us at the stake center the next morning. It was so wonderful! It felt like the entire session of conference was built for him. We all came away uplifted, and he was so happy he got to come!

2)  Sunday we went to a less active/ investigator's house (President changed the rules and asked us to try and watch some of the sessions with people we are teaching). Anyway- the Spirit was so strong. There were several talks that we felt applied directly to this family. 

3) Sister Gil made. the. best. Mexican. food. in. the. whole. world.  She really is the best cook ever and I honestly think I get better Mexican food from her than the missionaries in Mexico.  She made red, green, and mole enchiladas and they were SO GOOD!!!

4) I shut myself in the trunk to see if I could get out... I CAN!

5) We had a neat experience with a less active lady.  I have been knocking on her door for literally 7 months, and she has never been home. BUT this week she invited us in!  We got to share the restoration with her and she cried several times. She really wants to come back to church so we are going to try and help get her there.

6)  We were going to see a less active member and we were contacting people on the way. A lady was outside, so we started talking to her, and she said, "I can't BELIEVE you are talking to me!!"... We were both thinking "Oh no, here we go again- she's going to yell at us for talking to her"... Then she started telling us about how she had wanted to join our church at one point in her life and how her best friend was Mormon. She was excited for our message and asked us to come back. We areso excited. 

So many people this week came up to us and told us that they had "noticed something different" in our religion and that they had "always liked our religion".  They know that we are DIFFERENT.  So keep being different because they are finally seeing something! 

Love, Jessica

We think it's guava?  We ate it anyway

Post Daily Planning . . . 

Right after prayer

Flu Shots! OUCH

General Conference Weekend!


A beautiful early morning at the LA Temple!  I really love the temple!

Sunrise over the LA Skyline

Still smiling after a long missionary day:)