Monday, April 13, 2015

What I have learned......It was ALL worth it!

Hey there family!

     These past couple of days have been a whirlwind and crazy. We have done lots of missionary work and met with our investigators and born our testimony a lot. Many stories, laughs, adventures, hard times, spiritual moments. The works.

    Today I want to try and share with you some of things that I have learned  over the last 18 months and that have meant so much to me as I have had the opportunity to be a representative of our Savior Jesus Christ.

1. "Be kind regarding human frailty. Your own as well as those around you" We often preach to others about the grace and mercy of the Lord and then we think that it doesn't fully apply to us. So be patient kind and forgiving.

2. Those times when all we can think about is how weak and imperfect we are. All the times we have messed up or sinned or didn't try as hard as we should have. Beg the Lord to change you and remember "acknowledge and face your weaknesses but don't be immobilized by them because some of them will be your companions until you depart this mortal existence." It wasn't until Peter denied Christ and went back to fishing that he realized what the Savior wanted and expected of him. Even the best fall down sometimes, so get up brush yourself off and keep going. 

3. LAUGH. Don't ever become a lifeless walking breathing Mormon robot. This is the gospel of happiness and we are to live it fully. The counsel Joseph Smith gave to the early saints states it perfectly.  D&C 123:17  "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we standstill, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." Cheerfully is part of the commandment and what God expects of us. If you can laugh at it you can live with it. Just laugh. When you are quoting the first vision and you get thumped in the head by a bulky child's light up shoe - laugh. When you fall down rain saturated stairs and your dress flies up or the wind just makes a tent out of it - laugh. When it is hard, people tell you "they don't care what you have to say" you're tired, you are forced to start swatting roaches with a fly swatter there are so many, the unexpected happens - JUST LAUGH.

4. Nature's characters and hearts can be changed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In  Alma 5: 12-14 it states:
 12. And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true.
 13 And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers,and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved.
 14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? 
     Isn't the greatest miracle of all the changing of a human heart?  Isn't that worth whatever it takes on our part to see if that will happen? We know that the Lord won't force anyone to be what they don't want to be but we also know that he can and will soften hearts and change things." It is the greatest miracle of all. It doesn't matter to God who we were but who we are and who we are becoming."

5. Love is the answer to every problem and is the catalyst to change. Preach my Gospel says "people will not likely change unless invited to do so" Love invites them to do so. God loves us unconditionally and we change with his help. In returned he asks that we follow the first and second commandments. To love him and love others. There is a reason Christ asked Peter 3 times if he loved him. That love is forever and eternal. It changes us - it is what creates true, devoted, converted, disciples of the Lord. 

6. Live in the now. Love where you are and learn from it. Don't wish for the past, yearn for the future or better circumstances. God knows where you are and has placed you there. He needs us where we are but if we are to help him we have to have a willing heart and a willing mind. Don't wish it away. Became a force for good wherever you are. Be a creator of circumstances instead of a creature of circumstances. 

7. I love and appreciate my parents and grandparents. Family is everything - it is eternal and a God-given gift. I have recognized how much they have taught me through words and example. A mothers quiet example of selfless Christ-like service. Pops example of a worthy priesthood holder, good fashion sense and love. Both who are always there to talk and listen endlessly and offer advice. Gramsy and Gramps diligently attending the temple weekly showing their love for the Savior and an understanding of the covenants they have made. As well as my siblings and Melissa who is pretty much my sister. Your example, kindness, love, prayers and letters mean the world to me. As well as everyone else who took the time to write and pray for me.

8. An emphasis on simply just going misses the mark. Too often we focus of going on a mission, going to church and going to the temple. Simply just going misses the mark. Instead we must focus on truly becoming letting the Lord change and mold us (Jeremiah 18:1-6) We are all in the hands of the divine potter. We must actually become a disciple of Jesus Christ worshiping, renewing our covenants and keeping them in our heart continually. 

9. "Get really really good at repenting thoroughly and quickly." and "Accept trials set backs and surprises as part of your mortal experience." Elder Jorg Klebingat. He says it well. 

10. Jesus Christ is my Savior and best friend. This hasn't been easy. But worth it in every bit. By going through these trials and struggling I have come to know Him. By participating in this work I have been able to see in a VERY small part some of the path that he walked. It will never be easy but we can find joy and it will always be worth it. Our afflictions are swallowed up in the joy of Christ and I look back and see all the times he has carried me, comforted me and how he always loves me. I am unworthy of that love but he does it anyway. He lives. Words cannot describe the depth and magnitude of my feelings but I love him with all my heart. One day every tongue will confess that he is the Savior of us all. 

     No matter how hard I try, words just can't describe what I have learned in Georgia. How much I love these southern people. The fire burning in my heart for the work of the Lord, this mission that has shaped the new me. This is the greatest work to ever be on this earth it is not hapless nor hopeless, it is the work of the Almighty God and "No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing..." Words just can't do it justice. To steal the words of Ammon (Alma 26:16) "Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.

Love you bye!

Love Sister Weeks

Rachel, Sister Castleton, and an investigator

(Well I have to say I will miss our weekly letters and the blessing that come from having a missionary in the service of the Lord.  She has been a  great missionary and a wonderful example to all of us.  We all look forward to giving her a big hug.  We are very proud of what she has done and who she has become.)

Her Homecoming will be Sunday, April 19th.  Our church begins at 12:30 but we end with Sacrament meeting that starts at 2:20 pm.  The church is located at 2200 Miller Avenue in Burley Idaho.  We will be eating after at the house.

Monday, April 6, 2015

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ

Hey there family!

     Well here is the update for the week in the life of your very own Sister Weeks here in Georgia where they don't actually have peaches that much.... so there goes the Sister Weeks Georgia peach. haha too funny. The secret is out! Well this week was fantastic because of course , it was General Conference. It was amazing. General Conference for me is like opening presents. Except even more exciting than that. 

     Well this week we had some pretty amazing miracles with our investigators and their hearts softening. God is so good in the miracles that he shows us. Our investigator, Mary, talked about how she likes what she is hearing.  She  just wants peace in making her decision, because when she gets baptized she wants to keep that promise forever. It was such a good thing to hear. She really just gets it.  I love to look at her and see how she changes and the questions that she has and her willingness to align her will with Gods will. In church last Sunday we had a lesson on Priesthood blessings and she asked us if she would be able to get one to help her make her decision. Like I said, she really just gets it. 

     Also Debbie this week told us that she knows that the church is true. That The Book of Mormon is true and that..... SHE WANTS TO GET BAPTIZED. It will be in a few months that she is looking at because she really wants her daughter to be baptized with her and she feels that that is a good time table. It is amazing how far she has come in just 6 short months - from being Jewish and not even believing in Christ to accepting him into her life and believing his Gospel is true. If that isn't a testament that he changes hearts and lives and that this is his gospel I don't know what is.

      Easter Conference weekend was absolutely splendid. I LOVED conference like a mentioned. I don't know if I had a favorite talk. There were so many different ones that answered the questions that I had.

      This week I have been thinking a lot about how we live a life of converted discipleship. There were many talks that spoke to me about that. Our mission scripture is 3 Nephi 5:13 and it says "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ the Son of God. I have been called of Him to declare his word among his people that they might have everlasting life." I was thinking a lot during conference and this week about what that really means. President asks us to repeat it every morning together as a companionship at 9:59. The Lord doesn't require that we serve a lot for a little bit and never do anything else but to keep on trying no matter how many times we get knocked down. I love that one of the talks said "a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying." We have to recognize that others are trying too. It is something that I try to remind myself of. 

     The Atonement and hope that I testify of to people daily is available to all. No matter what circumstance they are in. I think that sometimes we are hardest on ourselves and sometimes the people that are close to us. But we need to extend the same grace and mercy that we preach of to all no matter who they are. Forgive and forget for ourselves. God does and so should we. We should never forget the miracles and signs that we witness.   I love that one talk said to pray for our spiritual eyes to be opened to the mercy and miracles that are all around us. And then lastly I love  when Elder Pearson said "enduring to the end is constantly coming unto Christ and being perfected in him." We must let the Saviors Atonement envelop and follow ALL  of us wherever we go. Love and then accept the grace that is so freely given. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. He has called me to help his children. And He IS the Son of God. That little verse has so many eternal truths. 

     Well I think that is all for this week. I hope y'all have a great week. You are in my prayers. Remember the Savior in all that you do and reach out and help others in need.

Love you bye!

Love Sister Weeks 

Angela sent me these pictures during the week of the special days

Monday, March 30, 2015

We just think you look great in White! :)

Hey there family!

     Well I keep saying it was a crazy week and that's because it was and then the next week is still crazy or gets crazier.... so maybe I should just stop saying that. Well I already did this time we'll see what this week brings. 

     On Friday evening we were supposed to have a lesson with Debbie and a couple of our other investigators.  Angela, who is the recent convert who got married last week and her husband Guillermo are the only ones who showed up. We had totally planned a lesson for our other investigators. So we were going to watch the Restoration video I decided that we should just watch it since that was our plan. Sister Castleton and I were whispering trying to figure it out. So we watched it in Spanish because Guillermo understands that better. Afterwards he said he loved all of it and he felt it was true. During dinner, out of no where, he told us they were moving to Orlando on Wednesday. WHAT? So Guillermo said he wanted to be baptized before he leaves. As soon as we left, we called the elders and threw a plan together! So, we had a baptism this week which was crazier than the wedding last week. It was AMAZING! He speaks Spanish better which is why we were team teaching him with the Cumorah Spanish Elders and so the Baptism was half in Spanish and half in English. The best of both worlds. It was the best. It was a good test to see how much I understood. I had to give a musical number.  The Branch President was talking to me afterwards in Spanish and I somehow knew what he said... YAY! The gift of tongues....? Or what he said was really easy to understand. Choose the last one then you'll be right. The baptism didn't start on time of course, because we are Mormons, and not very many of us know what ON TIME means. Guillermo was so happy. It was crazy how it all happened  God definitely has his hands in their lives and continues to work many miracles. We made it through all the craziness of the week. 

     This week I have been thinking about the Easter season. Yesterday at the baptism the Branch President said a baptism on Palm Sunday is the perfect way to start your new life to follow the Savior. The church is doing an Easter initiative very similar to the Christmas one. This one is called "Because He Lives" it is amazing. It talks about how he truly changed EVERYTHING. The people who were distraught at his loss, that seemed so permanent, experienced profound joy and once again as he changed everything. They received a manifestation unlike any other. He lives. He still lives. We are able to receive a similar experiences although it may not be the Savior standing in front of us asking us to gain a greater witness of his divinity through the marks in his hands and feet it comes in the peace that we receive through the spirit daily. "for what greater witness can ye have than peace?" Through his spirit that he left with us we can know who he is, receive help, and guidance and know that He does live. He is always here for us and ready to RUN to our aid. Those dark and along days that the people were waiting were hard.  We often experience those times in our lives but Sunday came. Sunday always will come.  We need not worry he is there. All #becausehelives. Discover, embrace, and share. Watch it and love it!  Here is the link. I LOVE IT. I am so grateful for what I learn about Jesus Christ - his forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Words cannot describe all that he has taught me here in Georgia through these people. But I do know that He lives and because He lives - we will also.

     We also met with Mary. She came to the Women's Broadcast and to church. She is one of the most sincere people I have ever met.  She is so close, if she could get her family to come it will happen in no time. Debbie is in the same situation she loves the church and believes that it is true and it is what she needs for her family, but she is scared to move forward and wants her daughter to be more involved. Please tell me how you get a 14 year old to have a good attitude about church? I haven't quite figured that one out yet. They are doing well though and I am so grateful to see the miracles that happen.

     Well everyone enjoy General Conference this weekend. Be looking for answers to your questions. God always answers, we just have to listen. Have a great week y'all are in my prayers. Happy Easter and remember the one who this season is about.

Love you bye!

Love Sister Weeks

BAPTISM TIME!!! The whole crew:  Bro Hirschi Sister Weeks and Castleton, Angela his wife, Guillermo,  and Elder Jensen and Elder Wood. Notice that they are about 2 feet taller than everyone else. 6 foot 7 inches is a birds eye view. I wonder what that would be like.... 

Bro Hirschi and Guillermo and then Guillermo his son.

Two Guillermo's and two sisters at a baptism.

Sisters Weeks and Castleton after a long day and a baptism.  Very tired but happy!

Sisters in the Marietta Zone after the Women's Conference broadcast.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Time for a bike ride.....Can you feel so now?

Hey there family!

Well  this week was so crazy. So many things happened I don't even know where to start and I am pretty sure the craziness hasn't ended yet... Yesterday we attended a wedding as well. O
ne of the recent converts in the ward. Hopefully her husband gets baptized soon. That is our goal. She told us on Wednesday that she wanted to get married and told me like she just bought a gallon of milk from the grocery store.... So then we thought it was going to be in a little bit the Spanish Elders are working with her now husband and so I texted them while we were in the car with her. Their reaction was priceless. I'm just 20 y'all... I have experienced so many things that I did not expect.... did I sign up for that?? They just got married in the bishops office and afterwards we got stranded at the church for 2 HOURS. OH man oh man. Then our ride finally showed up and when we were about home we got a call from the Elders who were standing in the POURING rain in the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant saying that they got a flat and they couldn't find a ride. So we went and picked up their bikes and put them on our bike rack. Then because of being stranded at the church we were so late for our appointment and dinner We finally made it through the day!

On Saturday night I had a brilliant idea to ride our bikes to Roswell which is 7 miles away... It was so fun! My yellow friend didn't fail on me and we did not get any flats. Yay! Then we did service and then rode back. Making it 14 miles in all.... (that isn't that much for anyone else but I consider it an accomplishment)  Well the next day aka Sunday I thought I was going to be so sore but I woke up and I was fine. My legs didn't hurt at all but sitting on a hard chair at church after a delightful bike seat was um.... well that was sore. haha. The elders called us on the perfect day I had empathy for them because of my sore rear end. There were so many people mad that we rode our bikes.... and I told them the Elders do it everyday and they say "but they are boys" Okay well I am a girl and I can ride a bike. The end. :)

Also for comp study this morning for our role play I taught my comp how to play red light green light.. she had never heard of it before I almost cried.

For District meeting this week since we got a new district our district leader and a couple of the other elders made us an all green breakfast. haha. One of the elders from Brazil who doesn't speak English very well wasn't wearing green and a couple of the elders pinched him and he said I am not Catholic. Not understanding the if you don't wear green part you get pinched. Catholics have a saint for everyday so they don't celebrate them in predominately catholic countries because then they would have a party every day. So we explained to him and he said "oooohhhh I did not know that!" Then he companion who is also from Brazil found out too chased him down to pinch him... We created monsters. hahahaha

 This week Elder Zwick who is a member of the 70 came to  our mission. He met with us and all the ward councils for several stakes on Wednesday night and then on Friday we met with him as missionaries all day long and it was AMAZING. He is such an inspired man. At the end he was bearing his testimony and he said "As a special witness of Jesus Christ I know that he lives..." And as he was saying that I just had the feeling that he has SEEN our Savior Jesus Christ. He is an amazing man and we were stuffed spiritually. His wife talked to us as well and that is what I wanted to talk about. She focused what she said on my favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon Alma 5. It has like 41 deep soul piercing questions. Every time I read it it is like a "check yo-self" moment. She was talking a lot about vs 26 "if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?" This stuck out to me a lot. As we go through life with the trials and hardships receiving the strength of the Lord and witnesses and a change of heart can we feel so everyday? Do we allow our change of heart to continue to take place everyday? The help of heaven is essential for our spiritual life. But we have to acknowledge our dependence on him and allow him into our lives. This is about giving your heart to him. There is a Mayan word that she talked about that I do not know how to spell or say that means "how is your heart?" and she related it to the question "can you feel so now?" I think they are very similar. Never let a moment pass us by where we are not letting the Lord change us and mold us into what he wants us to be. He cannot change us unless we let him. CAN YOU FEEL SO NOW? HOW IS YOUR HEART?

Debbie came to the wedding too and we taught her The Gospel of Jesus Christ this week. She is so close! Pray for her please. And Dakota, Mary and Skylar. Debbie also came to church again this week. There was a young women's fundraiser for girls came and she went around and knocked on doors and asked for donations... Then she called us and told us the she was practicing for our job. She said she told them oh by the way I am not a Mormon yet but I sure love them a lot. haha Oh Debbie. I told her that we could fix that.. They are all so close.

Well I think that is all for this crazy week. Have a great week and y'all are in my prayers!

Love you bye!

Love Sister Weeks (Rachel)

A little easter egg decoration

Lighted fountain

New haircut

The Elders and us with Angela and Guillermo after their wedding.

Rachel and Sister Castleton at the wedding

Monday, March 16, 2015

If we can laugh at it we can live with it!

Hey there family!

     This week was a great week here in Georgia. It was overcast all week long and then yesterday I looked out our door to check the weather, because that is how we do it when we don't have access to technology and there was SUN outside and I leaped and screamed because I was so excited. Sister Castleton thought something was wrong. Nope I just love warm weather. :)

     Well I have gained such a greater testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Especially what it says in Mosiah 24 about their burdens becoming light so light that they couldn't even feel them even though they were still there. Heavenly Father has this amazing ability to strengthen our capacity to deal with our trials and weaknesses and I KNOW that I could not do it with out him and I am so grateful.  

     We had zone meeting this week and the Bennion's came and Sister Bennion said "You have to do my nails!" haha. She is hilarious. Zone Meeting was so good though. A lot of the trainings were based on conversion and how THIS IS FOREVER. We must have it written in our hearts and be truly consecrated to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

     This week I have been remembering something that I have thought about a lot and my favorite scripture is about. D&C 123:17 God promises to reveal his hand in our lives when we do things cheerfully.  I have noticed several other scriptures that talk about the happiness that God wants us to have. This week we were visiting someone and we shared a scripture about happiness with her and she said the gospel doesn't make me happy it gives me peace. I have thought about that all week long because it confused me and her statement just felt not right. And I know why because if you aren't' happy you aren't doing something right. This is the gospel of happiness and God wants us to live it fully. In 2 Nephi 5:27 it says:
 "And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness." and King Benjamin in his last sermon to his people ends one of the chapters with "And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it."
      Not only are they blessed and at peace but they are HAPPY. And it Hebrew the meaning of enduring to the end it to "press forward joyfully with purpose." It seems to me that God when he set his Gospel up and organized it every time he wanted the gospel, our life, and his son Jesus Christ to bring us JOY. We receive blessings when we do things cheerfully that is a part of the commandment. The Lord wants me to show others how happy this Gospel makes me, the light and the joy that comes into my life is something that is with me FOREVER. This is the Gospel of Happiness because of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful. For the love of all that is good on this earth don't be a lifeless walking Mormon robot....or any kind of robot. Laugh and feel joy. Laughter is one of the best medicines it truly helps me to recognize the grace of God in my life. Laugh along the journey of life. Feel happy.

     We had a lesson with Debbie this week at the church during mutual and we were trying to get her daughter Dakota to play human Foosball with the rest of the youth.  It took a bit of time but she finally jumped in, Sister Castleton jumped in too and played  in her skirt. haha. I stayed out for the sake of everyone else and talked with Debbie. It was such a great opportunity to ask her some questions and her not feel hindered in answering them. She said she loves the path that she is on right now and doesn't want to go anywhere else but she is also scared to move forward. She said that she really wanted to learn about the Plan of Salvation again so we retaught it at a members house and she was tearing up as we told her some experiences and stories. I shared with her about Jose - he is in the spirit world as a missionary right now. The spirit was so strong and the next day she texted us and said "I finally understand. I do believe that the gospel you are teaching me is TRUE." It was amazing. We have been praying for the Lord to soften her heart more and more and her to have a desire to make promises with the Lord soon, so she doesn't get comfortable. The Lord is amazing  - she is so close. Any prayers for her would be amazing! She is sincere in her quest for truth I am so grateful to be able to see her change and grow.

Then we met with Mary again. She is such a Christlike person her desire to do service and help others is so amazing. She is scared of the change but she will get there. The bishop always says she is the future relief society president and to hurry up and get her baptized hahaha.  She is so close as well!

Then on Saturday, we are running out of miles on our car because of the meetings that we have had to drive to lately, so we decided that we were going to do like Jesus and walk. We walked for about 5 or 6 miles. I am so grateful to have a car and once again to not be in a bike area. I am so blessed. But it was fun. Sister Castleton kept telling me to slow down because she couldn't keep up, but we needed to get there sooner rather than later. haha We made it. Victory!

Well I think that is all for this week. Remember to laugh! Thanks for all you do.  You are in my prayers!

Love you bye!

Love Sister Weeks

Rachel will be home April 16th and her homecoming address with be on the  19th of April.  Our Sacrament Meeting starts at 2:20 pm.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Character of Christ turns outward.

Hey there family!

     Well first off I just need to start with  little funny story that happened last Monday. It was all sunny outside and we have to clean our car every week. So we took it through the car wash, but the guy working there said that we aren't allowed to go through with a bike rack on the car and he needed the key because there is a lock on it to keep it there. So we gave him the key and the wrench and after about 10 minutes of him struggling and me holding up a whole line of cars sitting there he had me pull over and asked if I knew how to do it. Well I looked down at myself in a skirt and said "Well I have done it before but it has been a while." He proceeded to tell me that I was using the wrench wrong and tightening it instead of taking it off. After a couple minutes he walked away and I tried it the other way again and what do ya know? Sister Weeks in a skirt and using the wrench the right way got it off. :) YAY! I will try really hard to not be prideful. :)

     This week while we were tracting we met this cute little old man named Jim.  He was in his 90's and he answered the door. We tried to tell him who we were but his hearing was a little... off. We gave him a card to give to his daughter and he said where are y'all from again and I said, "We are from The Church of Jesus Christ of latter day Saints. We are Mormons". He said, " WHAT? Mormons." Then again, " What? You're in mourning?" No no no we are MORMONS so here I am on the front porch screaming at this old man telling him that no sir I am not in mourning we are representatives of Jesus Christ. Still to no avail, so I just screamed "HAVE A GOOD DAY!" Smiled and waved. And then turned to Sister Castleton well the whole neighborhood knows the Mormons are here now. 

      I have been studying a talk called "The Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar. He quotes Elder Maxwell saying "There would have been no Atonement except for the character of Christ." he points out some pretty interesting things defining character and how poignant that statement is. If we want to obtain salvation through the Savior looking to him and just relying on his grace is not enough we must have faith in his name, character and atonement. So what is character? He defines it as the sum of the moral and mental qualities which distinguish an individual or race; mental or moral constitution; moral qualities strongly developed or strikingly displayed. But he also says that "Perhaps the greatest indicator of character is the capacity to recognize and appropriately respond to other people who are experiencing the very challenge or adversity that is most immediately and forcefully pressing upon us." It is revealed in the power to discern the suffering of others when we are suffering. The sadness of others, the hunger of others, discouragement and agony when we ourselves are being pressed upon by these same challenges. Do we have the ability to reach out and extend compassion and love to those who are suffering while we are burdened with our own struggles. While I was reading this talk a question came into my mind. What if Christ had not turned outward in times of crises and his struggling like Elder Maxwell says there would have been no Atonement. There would be no miracles nor an example to follow. But Christs character left a lasting impact to all. It is the tendency of the natural man to turn inward but "though the merits, mercy and grace of the Holy Messiah" (2 Nephi 2:8) he enables us to reach outward to go beyond ourselves, to overcome the struggles and challenges that will come day to day, and to earnestly plead with our advocate and Father in Heaven that we may be able to cultivate a Christlike character. I have the opportunity to have a front row seat of that change working in my life and the lives of so many others. We can all through faith in His sacrifice reach out to others and become even as he is. 

      There is a lady named Mary that we have been teaching, she was taught by sisters in the past but took a little break. She is amazing. She is one of the most Christlike people ever she does so much to try to help other people and she knows that what she is getting at her church right now is not fulfilling her and she said that many people she knows wear a brand of Christianity and do not truly try to be Christians. But her husband said you can go but I won't be going with you. He isn't against her doing it he just won't come. But she came to church today and she even commented in Relief Society!

     Angela is a recent convert in the ward and we are teaching her son Guillermo and his father Guillermo but mostly he is being taught my the Spanish Elders. But I have learned a lot of new Spanish words recently being around him. :) YAY. They are amazing they miracles that have been taking place in their lives in the past few weeks blows me away. It shows me how much God loves all of his children and if he wants something to happen he doesn't waste anytime for it. I love having a front row seat in the miracle theater. The best one of all. :)

     We have been witness to so many tender mercies and miracles in the lives of others and our own this week. God truly teaches me everyday of his love and compassion that he extends towards all. Being able to be an instrument in his hands brings the greatest joy of all. Through the hard and difficult times he is always there. To know God or Christ we must struggle. 

     I hope y'all have a great week. You are in my prayers!

Love you bye!

Love Sister Weeks (Rachel)

Our district before Elder Galvez went home and then we got combined with another district. 

 Us waiting for our ride to pick us up for church. :)

I may or may not have climbed inside the dryer this morning while doing my laundry... I'm still a kid at heart. :) And hey I still fit! Oh the memories.

Monday, March 2, 2015

"It's Desperation Ain't it?"

Hey there family!

     Okay well I hope you all catch the title reference and if not I'll just spoil it for you. "The Best Two Years" Elder Calhoun "It's humility ain't it?" Yep that too. :)

      So this week was an interesting one because we had snow.... Which I do not like, pretty much at all. It is pretty when you can be inside and warm other than that out with you I say! But good thing in the south it disappears pretty fast. And now today it is a nice 60 degrees and I am loving it. Georgia decided to finally realize what season it was supposed to be. Hallelujah. Blue skies! Maybe my ankles will see the light again. At last I have seen the light and the sun. YAY.

     Well this week the classic response we heard with many of our appointments and while we were tracting was "Go home the weather is too bad." The Governor declared a state of emergency for the threat of snow. That's right an EMERGENCY. It snow alright and then melted like an day later. Well that was fun. So when they tell us to go home then we just find something else to do. I wonder if they actually thought we would go home...? haha. 

     Every week we do service at a Nursing home and we play trivia with the cute little old people. They surprise me sometimes they know so many things. And then sometimes I have to wake them up or repeat the question a million times. A lady this week walked right passed me and asked "Where is my school?" So me not knowing what to say I just pointed and say "That way ma'am." Then I accidentally let a laugh escape and she said "haha is that all you know how to say?" In a rather disgusted tone. She said she found her school though. :) There was one of the doctors there that pretty much knew all the answers to EVERY question. That reminds me of someone else. I felt like I was trying to play trivia with Pops. Yep no one else has a prayer of a chance. You are still the human encyclopedia to me. 

     In a talk by Elder Nielsen in the last General Conference he talks about our own personal "spiritual oxygen mask" and how that represents our testimony. We have to have our own spiritual oxygen mask adjusted before we help anyone else. In district meeting we had a conversation about the "fire" in our lives and what the different components are to create the fire. We came up with the oxygen is our testimony. The spark is our conversion and then at the end our district leader sent us on a quest to find out what the fuel is. So all week in my studies and throughout the day I have been thinking about it and I haven't been able to think of anything. Then on Sunday during my personal studies Heavenly Father helped me to understand so much. He taught me that the fuel is desperation. Let me explain because it sounds kinda strange like that. Each time I am desperate to achieve a goal I spend so much more time in heartfelt prayer I exercise more faith and the goals are accomplished. I am literally filled with fire. I don't know if this is true with everyone but the Lord taught me something about myself that desperation or passion or truly being emotionally involved in all that I do helps me to grow and even when I have experiences that knock me down I am that much more determined to get back up and through the Lords strength I can. Okay so this makes sense and relates in my head so just pretend if it doesn't for you... 
      I was reading a talk by Elder Holland called "The First Great Commandment" it is about John 21 and Christ asking Peter "Lovest thou me?" Elder Hollands expounds on the experiences of Peters response saying “Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn't it obvious then and isn't it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me.” then continuing he asks some questions "Then, turning to all the Apostles, He might well have said something like: “Were you as foolhardy as the scribes and Pharisees? As Herod and Pilate? Did you, like they, think that this work could be killed simply by killing me? Did you, like they, think the cross and the nails and the tomb were the end of it all and each could blissfully go back to being whatever you were before? Children, did not my life and my love touch your hearts more deeply than this?” I feel like in this exchange that Christ has with Peter and the rest of his apostles described by Elder Holland he is begging them to be desperate in their quest to go forth with as much fire and passion as they possible can. This moves Peter and the remaining apostles to do just that to live a "majestic life of devoted service and leadership" As I was reading in Alma 5 the perfect chapter for self reflection,  I think Christ is asking us similarly "Do you love me?" Are you desperate and passionate in my cause? And I want to be able to answer without hesitation "Yeah Lord thou knowest that I love thee."

     This week we fasted especially for our investigators and a softened heart for them. Debbie and her daughter Dakota haven't been reading as much and Dakota is a slightly moody 13 year old so she doesn't often like church... We aren't' sure what to do but yesterday night Debbie texted us and said  "I am enjoying the Book of Mormon stories. She was sitting and reading while her daughter was at cheer leading practice. Then she said that she has been praying regularly. I thought I could fly. It makes my heart happy. I realize how much I care about people when they don't do what will make them the most happy and when they reject the most important thing to me. And I am SOO happy when they accept it. :)

I am truly blessed beyond measure. Even when times are hard and Heavenly Father teaches us through trials I can't even believe the miracles that pour in. Especially that he is able to use someone as weak, simple, young, and inadequate as me to do his work. I am so grateful for that trust. The snow is gone and I hope the warm weather stays! It is bound to be a great week serving beside the best life who has ever lived on this earth, Our Savior. He lives. 

Have a great week! I love y'all and pray for you always. Work hard play hard and be happy. :)

Love Sister Weeks (Rachel)

No transfer for them this week so I guess she stays with this companion until the end.  This is her last transfer and then she is coming home! Six more weeks.  She is not thrilled to leave.  She loves being a missionary and doesn't want to come back to make decisions in real life.  But we are a little bit excited to see her.

What happens in the south when it snows. . 

 No scrapper...? Looks like we just use a water bottle.

I don't like being cold. :)That is fake excitement on my face.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Faith unchallenged remains unchanged

Hey there family!

     It has been a really interesting week to say the least. haha. Well hold on for the ride and I'll tell you all about it.

      First of all... guess what!!!?????????? We reached our goal to get 10 lessons with investigators with members present! YAY! It has been an interesting week and Satan worked so hard on many people and in the end we ended up having about 13 or 14 cancellations.... But we got the goal. All because Heavenly Father is so merciful, it was a test of faith and diligence but it happened. I am so excited!!!!!!!!!!! I can hardly contain it all. :) And then our district leader called last night and said I am so proud of you sisters you got 10 now your goal for next week is 20 right?.... I don't need that much stress. 

      And one day this week in only warmed up to about 19 degrees so then I wanted to cry but we made it through. :) Cold weather better be on it's way out. humph. And I am eternally grateful that I am not in a bike area right now.
      Well here is my funny story for the day.... This morning we were doing our grocery shopping and I was looking for some frozen peaches to put in my smoothies. Well then all of a sudden someone appeared right next to me and I gasped and turned and was confused and then realized it was one of the elders -  our district leader to be precise. He was in normal clothes and didn't have his tag on and I said "what the.... you look normal!" He startled me and then I realized how funny it all was. (and I also realized that is how I will feel when I see people later in life and they look normal. They are unrecognizable for a second haha)  And then he proceeded to tell us that he lost his companion somewhere in Walmart and if we found him to let him know! hahahahah. I'm dying. Oh elders..... He said he forgot his tag. We then ran into his companion that he lost a couple minutes later both trying unsuccessfully to find each other. One is from Guatemala and the other from Brazil. The one from Brazil barely speaks English but he walked up to us and said I lost my companion.... ay ay ay. Missionary Problem #537: That awkward moment when you can't find your companion and find yourself in a panic and then realize they are super close to you. haha. That wasn't the case for the elders but they were frantically running around trying to find each other. hahahaha

      This week I was thinking about a quote that one of my companions and I would say all the time as we were pressing forward through the trials. I have no idea who it is by but it is "Faith unchallenged remains unchanged." Well I have felt that a lot we all do as we go throughout life. But to strengthen our faith we have to do things that require faith. I can testify to that, every time I feel like I have had to do something really challenging or jump into what seems like darkness. I look back and could do it all over again if I had to because  my faith is greater. I was reading in Mosiah 23 and 24 this week and it fit perfectly. I love these chapters! In 23:21 It says: "Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people yeah he trieth their patience and their faith." Before it talks about how the people are prospering and doing well they aren't lifted up in the pride of their hearts yet the Lord still sees fit to try their patience and faith. The people were scared at first but Alma says that they "hushed their fears and began to cry unto the Lord" and then in the next chapter in 24 he says: 
13. And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease,and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
16 And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again,saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.
     I have literally felt this week the Lord easing the burdens so I could hardly feel them. And the Lord says clearly he does this that we may strengthen our faith and be a witness for him. I know that the Savior does visit us in our afflictions he eases our burdens and he loves us. Because of his strength our load is light and we can carry what we have easily. And the people who are going through intense difficulties and are told that they aren't even allowed to pray and pour out their hearts to God and they "Submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord." They don't complain or place blame they forget themselves and their faith is strengthened. It was a great lesson to me once again, what is my reaction when faced with adversity? Faith unchallenged remains unchanged. I just wanted to end with one more quote from Elder Klebingat he says "When these trials come, the adversary’s minions begin broadcasting that you did something wrong, that this is a punishment, a sign that Heavenly Father does not love you. Ignore that! Instead, try to force a smile, gaze heavenward, and say, “I understand,Lord. I know what this is. A time to prove myself, isn't it?” Then partner with Him to endure well to the end. Spiritual confidence increases when you accept that“often trials and tribulations are allowed to come into your life because of what you are doing right”

      This week for a couple of our lessons we went on splits. I went with one of the Laurels named Courtney and we taught a lesson to Dakota who is our investigator Debbie's daughter. She is 13 and has quite a bit of attitude but she loved the lesson. And told her Mom afterwards. She told me in the lesson that she wants to be baptized! Debbie is so close to getting baptized she really loves the church.

      And last we had a lesson with Tom. He is a neighbor to the Wrights in the Milton ward and so we had a lesson at their house. It was great!  Sister Wright bore her testimony about the Book of Mormon and the miracles she has seen come into her life because of the Gospel and the Savior. He said that he sits in church and he feels that this is the place for me. Now... we just need to get his wife on board she isn't against it but doesn't really have a desire to learn. We are praying that her heart will be softened.

      Well I think that is all for this week. I hope you have a great week filled with lots of happiness and tender mercies. You are in my prayers!

Love you bye!
Love Sister Weeks (Rachel) 

Tried Baklava and it was fabulous!

"Just wanted you to know we love having your missionary in our ward. She is doing a great work and loved by the members of the Milton ward. It's super cold here right now in Atlanta, snow and ice but they are warm and happy. Good job mama your daughter is amazing!" by Sister Erickson.  Thanks for the photo!  Love members that send me pictures.

I got the privilege of trying my first fresh mango. It was SOO good. I know what Pops is thinking. Eww a headache. :) (Ken thinks that mangos taste like a headache and avoids them)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

No excuses, No Regrets!

Hey there family!

     This week has been a great week! But also FREEZING. I am currently sitting at the computer in our apartment complex holding a hand warmer. Why I didn't bring my man shirt down here I have no idea. I'll tell you all about our week.... here it goes. Hold on for the ride! 

      I have got some practice on my Spanish this week! One of the recent converts in the ward speaks it and her child's father speaks it as well. We taught him several lessons and we passed him over to the Spanish elders. He is amazing. So ready to hear the gospel. He is always impressed when I can understand what he says. :) Thanks to Melissa and my Mom and some random little books I can piece things together. I can't wait until I can actually speak Spanish. Hopefully that day will come. 

     I got to go on exchange with Sister Rueckert who was in the same MTC district as me. It was so fun we haven't seen each other in a while and we got to catch up. And get this, her very first area was Milton so we visited some of her former investigators and she helped me to get to know a few more people in the ward. She is a lifesaver. It was so great and we laughed and talked way to much. But she is a great missionary, I am so grateful to be able to learn from others and their examples. 

     This week is going to be interesting because, This week our district leader challenged us to get 10 lessons taught to investigators with members present at those lessons. Last week we got a total of 2.... HELP! Any prayers for that would be great. He said that it is a promise from the Lord that if we do we will baptize someone next transfer if we do this and I am not about to argue with the Lord so we are doing everything we can. I really want to reach it but I know it is only possible with the Lords help. So we need all the help we can get especially since we have had several lessons cancel on us. aahhh. I know it can happen though. Promises from the Lord aren't for nothing. 

     Well my spiritual insight for the week is about a quote that I loved from Elder M. Russell Ballard called "Create Success" It is quite long and I don't want to type it out so I will just share a couple of my favorite parts. He talks about our attitude and the difference that it makes in our life. He says don't be a person that complains about everything but "Be a person who can be placed in any calling and in any set of circumstances and be relied on to set things right. Become a creator of circumstances instead of a creature of circumstances." Then he goes onto say that "We each learn that failure and excuses go together, so we must learn to get away from excuses." My motto "NO EXCUSES, NO REGRETS" Then he ends with "Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve... WE need to get involved emotionally in our goals." I was reading that we often never achieve our goals because we are not desperate enough to accomplish them. I was listening to the youth theme song this year called embark and the words struck me "We will give what we've been given, Live our lives with faith, lift up those around us and help them on their way. We will live a life of meaning and cherish every step so when we meet our maker there's nothing to regret no matter how far we're not afraid cause love will light the way..." Charity truly never faileth love does light the way and we can with the Lords help create the circumstances where we can be successful. Even when they are difficult we are growing. The two most powerful words I can utter in my prayers are, "change me." it takes courage to do that but it shows the Lord where our heart is and we can achieve what he wants us to. I want no excuses no regrets. I want to love others with all my heart and I am desperate to accomplish the goals we have set inspired by God. I want him to change me. I need lots more of it. 

     If you haven't listened to the son go do it. It is so good. :) So powerful. 

     We had Zone Conference this week as well! The office couples came and it was soo good to see them. They are some of the lasting friendships that I have made here in Georgia. They all go home pretty soon. Elder Residori is the one in charge of the car inspections and I always give him a hard time. :) But they do it anonymously but we WON! Yay. Thank goodness for that. It means that we get extra miles each month. And we worked really hard to clean it too. As in we went to one of those things that clean it for you. :) haha. And Elder Jessen is a jokester. He is the one in the picture that you found on FB. His wife tells me not to laugh at him or tell him he is funny anymore because then she will never get him to stop. I still think it is hilarious. 

     We were teaching this investigator named Ann who is a referral from the other mission and some other missionaries. She insists that she won't go to our building so she drives to another one. But whenever I would talk during lessons she would stare forward like nobody else was in the room. I'm pretty sure that she hates me. So I wrote on a sticky note. She won't listen to me... invite her to be baptized. haha Well she said she would think about it. But then later she called and said she is going back to school so it isn't going to work out. I guess that means no? Well I will miss teaching her and the stuffed animal bear that stares at me from her pocket as we teach. I love my life. :)

     Our investigator Debbie is still doing well! She came to church on Sunday. She really does love it and the Milton ward is doing such a great job at fellow shipping her and her daughter. Every other week a family invites her over to their house for a lesson. It has made the world of a difference in being in a place where the spirit is to teach. She is so close. Prays for her and her daughter Dakota would be great. :) Thank you! 

     Then lastly when we were on exchange Sister Rueckert and I went to lunch with a member and a less active and another girl who just turned in her mission papers. Bianca hasn't been active for a while but has had some humbling experiences that have changed her heart. It was such a great opportunity because we got to teach about the Atonement. She wants to embrace the change and come back. The spirit was so strong as we all had the opportunity to testify to her. 

     Well I think that is all for this week. Thanks for all you do. I appreciate your love support and prayers. I hope that you have a great week! You are in my prayers. 

Love you bye!

Love Sister Weeks (Rachel)

Rachel and others at Zone Conference.

Look at this little beaut. Sister Chapman and I are reunited. We go to district meeting in the same building. Pretty much we are besties for life. :) 

Then next to her is her comp Sister Kafu (she is from Tonga) on the other side from front to back Sister Castleton (my comp) and Then Sister Gerrard and Sister Smith. We went to lunch after district meeting. So much fun! :)

Roswell Zone Conference