Easter is always a spiritual highlight. Always. What could be better than celebrating probably the best thing that has ever happened in human history, which is the day when death and pain and sin were forever conquered? I can’t think of anything. Holidays are always kind of special on the mission because you get to experience the ~true meaning~ and because you really can’t do what you feel like doing, rather you are doing the Lord’s work as usual. It’s a time when you have license to feel like a much better missionary than you actually are, just by virtue of not going on an egg hunt or getting a basket like you might want to. It’s great. We celebrated Easter in the following ways:

– introducing ourselves to all our neighbors and giving them copies of Finding Faith in Christ
– having a delicious Easter dinner with a sister whose kids were with their dad for the weekend, everyone cried a lot
– helping a family who recently joined the church make Easter dinner for their parents, who are still pretty unfriendly toward their decision
– singing Easter songs with the choir
– teaching a gospel principles lesson on the Atonement
We also spent a lot of the day just walking around doing regular missionary work, which felt so right. What better way to spend Easter than enthusiastically telling everyone about why we have Easter? In Mark 16 we read about the day Christ was resurrected. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome visit the garden tomb and find the stone rolled away from the door of the tomb and an angel where they expected Christ’s body. They were alarmed to see this heavenly messenger, but according to verse 6, “And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen, he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him as he said unto you.”  That is the first charge these good disciples receive when they discover that Jesus is risen: to share what they know. The final charge that Jesus Christ left during his short resurrected ministry is very similar, found in verse 15: “And he said unto them, Go ye unto all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Truly the most important thing that we can do with our knowledge that Jesus Christ lives is to share it. I have received a personal witness of the Living Christ and His love for me and it is my responsibility to share what I know. On Easter I had the opportunity to share my testimony of Jesus Christ many times, and I must say that I don’t think I have ever felt more powerful than I do when I’m telling people that I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our living Redeemer, and that He loves us infinitely. The power I feel when I’m testifying is not my own, it is God’s power. It is the power of His love and Spirit. And it feels so good.
In addition to Easter, this week also featured a long, long leadership meeting and fireside. I got to drive in a minivan with my companion and five elders for many hours and spend many more hours being instructed by President. We also had a former member of the quorum of the seventy give a little fireside. It was fabulous. I learned so much and I love how many resources the Lord gives us to succeed. He knows us, He loves us, and He supports us in our work. It was also great to return to Columbia (where the training was held), especially because my sweet Hannah stopped by during dinner to give me a hug and so that I could give her a happy baptism-type of present. Also! Right before we got the text announcing our Mission Leadership Council meeting, I said to my companion, “Sister Rogers, we should tell President that we want a little breakout for the sister training leaders to talk about specific concerns that we have. I think that would be really helpful.” and then we got a text saying that there would be a sisters’ breakout. Inspired!!! I was very impressed. And very tired. We didn’t get home until midnight. That’s the latest I’ve stayed out since last August.
We also got to go on exchanges with some wonderful sisters in Woodstock!! Oh they are such sweethearts. I was with Sister Rapier, a fabulous fireball who is about eight weeks into her mission. Their car is in the shop so we got to walk all day. Whew. Taking over the area when you’re brand new can be intimidating, but she is a champ. For our final visit of the evening, she give me a list of names and asked me which one felt right. One name jumped out at me very strongly so we walked to the campus of a boarding school, having no idea how we were going to get in to see this young person. We ran into a few students and asked them if they knew the person we were visiting. They did! They took us to her and as we sat down and talked it became clear that Sister Rapier had a special connection with our new investigator. They had both faced very, very similar tragedies in their families and other challenges. I just sat their in awe as my companion knew exactly how to succor this wonderful sister. It was incredible. Two of her friends came out and seemed interested as well. I love missionary work.
This weekend also included the general women’s session! HOLY hannah it was good stuff. I LOVED Sister Marriott’s talk. Watch it all right here! https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/04?cid=HP_SA_3-26-2016_dPFD_fGC_xLIDyL1-B_&lang=eng
Finally, a little Easter song from the old Primary song book:
The seeds and flow’rs are sleeping sound
‘Till Easter time, Till Easter time
And then they rise above the ground
At happy Easter time
And as they rise from sleep they say
That we shall wake someday
The singing birds come back again
At Easter time, At Easter time
The little streams are waking then
At happy Easter time
And as they sing with joy they say
That we shall wake someday
The butterflies and moths arise
At Easter time, At Easter time
And spread their wings in glad surprise
At happy Easter time
And as they rise they seem to say
That we shall wake someday
OK my team, I love you dearly and deeply and forever. Write me!! 841 Thomas Ct. #57 Winchester, VA 22601
Sister Argonaut
Inline image 1

wholly weak

At the beginning of our beloved Holy Week, our bishop’s wonderful wife just gave the best lesson about Jesus Christ and His atonement. She brought some daffodils and talked about how because of the strange winter we’ve had, they got a false start in December and when it snowed 38 inches she was sure they were done for. But when spring came, she saw the dead-looking leaves that had started growing fall and give way to lively and vibrant yellow blossoms. She also used some wonderful resources from mormon.org/easter which website we have been inviting everyone to view. It’s pretty good, honestly. I especially liked the virtual Hallelujah chorus. I obviously cried lots and then I had to give the closing prayer… while crying. Oh well. Crying is good. Our mission president extended an invitation to us which I would love to share with you, which is to review the events associated with our first Easter as narrated in the New Testament. These can be found at Matthew 21-28, Mark 11 -16, Luke 19-24, and John 12-21. I can promise that this study will be wonderful and edifying.
Also on Sunday we had a visiting high councilor and his family speaking. They all have been traveling around and speaking at other wards in the area just to keep things fresh and his wife said, “My favorite thing about this has been getting to look at different babies every Sunday. You have some great babies here” She is a tourist of babies! We do have some pretty great kids in our area. Working with members is very different outside of the YSA because we are catering to vastly shorter attention spans. For example, we did one with a cute cute little toddler where we blindfolded her and played “Hot and Cold” with a Book of Mormon and talked about the Holy Ghost. At the end of the lesson I crouched down for a hug and she tackled me. I started to fall forward and thought, okay, I need to save the baby. So I grabbed Sister Rogers, who was also in an unstable squatting position and brought her down with me. Somehow I managed to not squish the child but we were on the hard kitchen floor and I got a nice bruise on my knee. The things we do for babies, right?

We also had a great combined FHE at the home of our ward mission leader with a part-member family in the ward and a family they’re friends with. We talked about how the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ and shared the story from 3 Nephi 17 (a GREAT chapter if you haven’t read it lately) of Christ visiting the Americas and of His love for children, then everyone sculpted a Christus statue out of play-dough. Classic family ward.
On the other end of the spectrum we have the things we do for the oldies, whom I love dearly. This week a sister in our ward who lives in a nursing home with her husband had a birthday! Sister Rogers is great with birthdays and she noticed that this sister’s husband is always complaining that Jimmy John’s won’t deliver to them (come on, Jimmy John’s) so we picked up some sandwiches for them and decorated their door with streamers and had a little visit. It was so nice.
Best of all of anything ever in my whole life, HANNAH GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love her soooo much. She has been hoping to get baptized pretty much since she was a young child but it took her family about ten years to come around. When they finally did, they came to the service and everything! It was so wonderful. She just had this glow after she was baptized. Can’t you see it even in the photo? The holy countenance. I love her so so much. It was quite an adventure getting there because it was in my past area which is two hours away from where I am now. We had a ride who had something come up at the last minute the day before and so we called pretty much the whole ward to see if anyone could drive us. Prospects did not look good and I got so sad about not being there and then resolved to be happy and at peace with just being happy that she was getting baptized and I woke up the morning of her baptism with a big smile on my face, resolved to just have a great day of working my tail off. And THEN right at the last minute a sister in the ward called us and said, “What the heck, let’s go to Columbia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and drove us for two hours in the snow. We got there pretty late, but better late than never, right?!! Oh it was so wonderful. And right before Easter. It was a great reminder to me of how much we rely on the Savior. I could not do anything without Him. He is my power source. Seeing Hannah bathed in the power of His Atonement was just amazing and walking into a room packed full of people who love her so much with such a palpable atmosphere of love and the Spirit was a testament to me that the Lord works through a community for a reason.
And to my community, I love you. Think of your Savior this week and always and write to me at 841 Thomas Ct #57, Winchester VA 22601
Sister Ashburn

the chester

Well, I made it all in one piece! To the Winchestie! Being back in the West of the mission is great, so many historical buildings (I drove past Patsy Cline’s old house the other day. I mean, come on) and graveyards and blossoming cherry trees. Winchester is famous for what is called the “Apple Blossom Festival” which is characterized by the colors green, pink, and white and which festival featured Nick Jonas last year!! Pretty exciting. Everyone’s house has a little pink and green flair to it.

After we got the news about transfers last week it was the typical flurry of activity preparing to go– goodbyes and packing all while maintaining a full proselyting schedule. We had to say goodbye to the investigators which was the hardest part, especially because they are not always used to transfers. Everyone took it pretty good, though. Fortunately on Tuesday most of the branch gathered together to watch Elder Holland’s young adult face-to-face and so I got to say a hushed goodbye when curfew rolled around while the event was still in full swing, creeping around in the dark and giving everyone a hug and a handshake. Classic awkward missionary expressions of love. We also got to say goodbye to all the sisters with a big end-of-transfer clothing exchange. I got some pretty good ~pieces~ and Sister Walker is saving the rest for her brand new missionary and for the sisters from the branch who are going out on missions soon.
We also got together with a member and made s’more waffles. Here’s how you do it:
Step 1: make waffles
Step 2: line them up on a cookie sheet
Step 3: create a layer of chocolate chips
Step 4: create a layer of marshmallows over the chocolate chips
Step 5: broil
Step 6: heaven
Go try it. Send me pictures.
So after throwing away half of my possessions and packing the other half, Sister Walker made our way to the stake center. This is kind of the central stake center to the mission because it is closest to the mission home, so it was a bit of a madhouse. Fun though! There was a little meeting for the trainers and I invited myself in instead of sitting in the hall with the other awkward companions because I thought I might learn something. I did! Then we joined the brand new missionaries in another meeting I wasn’t invited to but attended anyway to hear their testimonies and introduce their trainers to them. The new sisters were all like, “Wait, who are you training?” and I was just like… don’t worry about it. Finally we departed, and I rode back to the area with a sister from the ward and a fellow missionary who was coming to a nearby area. One fun thing about getting transferred is hearing endless variations on my name again. People really are creative about it. 80% of the time people put in an “sh” sound after the A. I don’t know where that comes from or why it is but there you go.
Since I got here it has just been a whirlwind of miracles and good times. We have an awesome ward here and a great area. People are very friendly and open and we get invited back often. I’m very excited to have our proper appointments with all the contacts we made this week. Here’s some other interesting features of this new area:
– We have been going through copies of the Book of Mormon like crazy because Sister Rogers has this awesome method where if somebody doesn’t want to learn more, she offers them a Book of Mormon and invites them to read it and get back to us. She is great.
– It’s wonderful to be around so many kids and babies and old people again. I really missed that.
– In baby animal news, I met a really nice corn snake this week. Seriously the nicest snake. I loved her.
– We got to help plant blueberries?!
– As you know, Sunday was daylight savings so obviously a fourth of the ward forgot and showed up an hour late, including the chorister. Missionaries are the designated substitutes for everything and so I was called upon to lead the music for the whole congregation approximately two and a half minutes before the meeting began!! Oh mercy. I got through it, though.
– Our gospel principles teacher is Canadian! We started talking about our Canadian heritage until finally our teacher’s wife said, “Is this a lesson on prayer or a lesson on Canada?”
– The missionaries in this unit have been really into whittling lately, and the elders brought us a log to whittle. I don’t know. The nursery calling is real.
– We street contacted this really wonderful older lady who had a denim bucket hat on that had the words, “got email?” on it. She gave us a nice lecture on faith and didn’t really want us to come back but she was great and when a car zoomed by a little too close she exclaimed, “he is going to send us all to glory!” So that’s my new pet road rage phrase.
– The daffodils and crocuses are blooming beautifully!
Sister Rogers, as I mentioned, is great. She is way chill, is from Orderville, UT, and is a jujitsu (did I even spell that right???) master. Also her mom is a painter. She’s the best. She and I go way back so we were already friends when I got there. Oh, and she has beautiful hair. We’re having a great time together and I have a lot to learn from her.
Finally, I would like you all to know that the Book of Mormon has power. Real, big power. Sister Rogers will often tell street contacts that the Book of Mormon has changed her life, and that always gives me pause. I invite you to consider: how has the Book of Mormon changed your life? How could it change your life? How would you want it to change your life? And if you haven’t read it, you can order a copy here: mormon.org/free-book-of-mormon
My friends and siblen, I can’t wait to hear all about your experiences with the Book of Mormon this week. You can write me at 841 Thomas Ct. #57, Winchester VA 22601
Sister Apple Blossom

the rosa bonheur memorial park

To explain the title of this epistle: we were driving through the night talking about something (we’ll just assume it was missionary work) and I interrupted Sister Walker and said, “SISTER WALKER LOOK LOOK ITS THE ROSA BONHEUR MEMORIAL PARK DO YOU THINK THERE ARE PAINTINGS THERE???????” So we texted a member and had her Google it for us (this is the missionary version of Siri) and apparently it is a pet cemetery. I’m still laughing about it to be honest. Amazing. That’s slightly grim baby animal news but there you have it.

Speaking of baby animal news, you’re about to get more of it because I’m getting transferred back to the West end of the mission!!! For the Springtime!!!! I’ll be serving in Winchester, VA starting on Wednesday with a certain Sister Rogers, whom I knew in the MTC. She is One of the best missionaries out there. I don’t know what I did to deserve her. It’s always slightly tragic to leave an area, though. We have some really great investigators and I don’t want to leave them, and I will miss the Columbia YSA so much. Wah. But on the bright side, all of my areas and companions have been so great and I know that this will just be an opportunity to have more great people to love. Most importantly the Lord has asked me to serve Him in Winchester so I will go! I mean, it’s not like I have a choice but if I did I still would, I promise.

Anyway, in fun exchange times this week I got to reunite once again with Sister Nish!! It was just like old times. She’s just a champ and three quarters. During our exchange we had an amazing restoration lesson with some investigators who we gave a church tour to last week. They fed us pizza and we watched the Restoration film and the spirit was just off the hook. And Sister Nish was such a great teacher, it was wonderful to teach with her again. We invited our investigator to be baptized on a specific day and she kind of started smiling and then when we got the question out she was like, “Oh… I will be out of the country that weekend…” but we just picked the next available Saturday instead! Don’t worry.

We also had some great lessons with our investigator who is to be baptized on the 19th. She is just wonderful and is one of my new heroes. She was raising her hand during Sunday School and during the sacrament, she flipped around in her Book of Mormon until she found the sacrament prayers listed in Moroni 4 and 5. So cool. I just want to have her spiritual power and dedication. On the other hand, the other day we had a lesson scheduled with her this weekend but I think the Lord gave her a stupor of thought, because when we texted to tell her we would be about five minutes late for our lesson, she called us immediately and said, “Sisters, I have a big problem!!! I completely forgot about our lesson and I went to Pennsylvania! I’m having dinner with an old friend who is back in town! I’M IN HANOVER EATING PIZZA!!!!!” We calmed her down and assured her that these things happen, and now we say, “I’m in Hanover eating pizza!!!” all the time. I say that her stupor of thought was divine because with our time we would have been teaching, we street contacted two different people who both seemed really interested in learning more about the gospel… who we got to pass off to other missionaries, of course. On once occasion, I was backing my companion out and the Spirit told me, “Put a copy of the Book of Mormon in your backpack.” So of course I did! When we arrived at our next destination there was nobody home but there was a young man walking the other direction. Sister Walker flagged him down and we started talking with him. He was pretty interested and then I remembered the Book of Mormon in my bag. I pulled it out and gave it to him. He started looking through it and said, “For some reason I am really interested in this.” Always follow the spirit immediately!!! Just saying.

Finally, we got to take another investigator to the temple Visitor’s Center!!! It was so wonderful. She is about to move across the country but she promised to be baptized as soon as she gets over there. I know she will be like manna from heaven to her new missionaries and ward. At least that’s what she has been for us. We got to go to Cafe Rio and the little Mormon bookstore that are nearby (basically the East Coast Temple Square) and she really seemed to have an opportunity to be culturally converted. I mean, once you taste the sweet pork the deal is sealed, right? When we showed her the picture of the temple in her future area, she kind of sheepishly told us that she had already looked it up, and she told us that she has been working on living the Word of Wisdom by replacing her nightly glass of wine with a nightly wine glass of apple juice. So cute. Finally, this investigator has many tattoos and when we went to the bookstore we found a book by Al Fox, which has the words “TATTOOED MORMON” really big on the front. And she bought it, of course. She was so excited. It was just too cute.

Okay my sweet friends. I love you. As you can imagine, I have a brand-new address. Who is going to christen my mailbox??? 841 Thomas Ct. #57/Winchester VA 22601

Hugs and handshakes,

Sister Asphalt