tiara testimony

This week we were called upon to help a family weed the poison ivy out of their yard. It was actually an exciting adventure, in my opinion. This family has an extremely adorable 3-year-old who is going through a Michael Jackson phase. She was running around the yard dancing and singing “Do you remember?” and generally being a lot too cute. The family we were serving also has a tenant who we are teaching. This investigator is just golden and we love teaching her. For example: we were talking to the little one and I asked, “What happens when you’re 8, Katie?” and she was a little confused, so our investigator said, “What ordinance do you partake of when you’re 8?” What the heck… how is she so good at learning. Anyway we were reading the Book of Mormon with our investigator after the yard work portion but not before Katie put a sparkly, light-up, fuzzy tiara on me. I super forgot about the tiara sitting their blinking on and off until I started to bear my testimony. Our investigator looked at me and started to giggle. Then my companion started to giggle. I was like… why are you laughing at my testimony of the Book of Mormon. Rude. But it was just the tiara.
In other adorable/baby animal news, last Monday we celebrated Preparation Day by going to the emporium entitled “Southern States” which had live baby chicks and turkeys which you could put in a carton and take home!!! Now, the white handbook says, “Do not keep pets of any kind.” but I can’t say the temptation wasn’t there. They were pretty cute to hold and snuggle. I felt just like Snow White.
Today’s Preparation Day/Memorial Day celebration was also pretty good. Our AC died on Thursdayright around when the month of rain ended and the week of intense, muggy heat began. Our apartment is on the 3rd floor and when we got in for the night it was 90 degrees in there. The sisters in the next ward over live pretty close and so we got permission from the mission president to do a Preparation Day Eve sleepover. It was pretty great. We watched The Phone Call and giggled a lot and told stories. In the morning we crashed the Memorial Day pancake breakfast of a neighboring ward where a fellow missionary was playing the bugle as they raised the flag. And then we had pancakes. I love the Mormon people.
The same sisters we had a sleepover with also provided our wonderful exchange this week. Sister Tripp was my temporary companion. She is such a cutie. She and her companion are meeting their six-month mark soon, I’m so excited for them. Together we saw a lot of miracles, taught some discussions, and shared some laughs. And we ate a hamburger.
Because of the heat and the mugginess, I got so warm the other day that I experienced what Sister Tripp described to me as a “treat emergency.” We were cruising around in the back of someone’s car with no AC and walking around and I’m not great in the heat. I started to wilt really good and got kind of confused and in a sweaty daze and the Spirit told me, “You absolutely need a Slurpee right now.” Actually, maybe that was my brain/body. I’m not sure. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Anyway, we got a Slurpee and I was all better. Thank you 7/11, for contributing to the hastening of the work.
We had a great visit with another investigator yesterday, this nice old lady. I really feel like we got to connect with her on a personal level and she started to get curious about missionary life. She said, “Now do y’all have husbands or boyfriends or anything like that?” and we said, “Oh no, we don’t really date or anything like that until after we’re done with our missionary work.” And she said, “That’s the spirit! Just tell them all, JESUS IS MY BOYFRIEND hahaha yes!!!” She also asked how long Sister Anderson and I have known each other and we told her about a month and she said, “Oh really?? I thought y’all were really sisters! I mean, other than sisters in Christ.” I don’t know, it was just so cute. Sisters in Christ ❤
We also enjoyed a wonderful street contact wherein we handed a little boy a picture of Jesus and said, “Do you know who that is? And he said, “George Washington!” Thanks buddy. On a more serious note, we were driving through kind of a fancy neighborhood we never ever visit when we saw some people sitting on their porch. Sister Anderson, spiritual giantess, said, “Pull over, we need to talk to those people.” We walked up and started talking to Jason. He was kind of making excuses, telling us that he is a SWAT officer and therefore too busy, that his wife and daughter are busy too, etc, etc. His mom was there too, smiling serenely. Sister Anderson did not hesitate to start telling him some of the sublime truths about how Jesus Christ’s gospel has been restored in its fullness and about the first vision. I told him that the Book of Mormon could strengthen his spirit and bore my testimony of it. At this point this big tall bald intimidating police man was beginning to weep. He thanked us over and over again for what we shared and said, “I really needed this. It’s been hard. Can I give you guys a hug?” We were kind of hesitant and tried to shake his hand but he stood up and enveloped us both in a big hug. It was kind of beautiful. Sister Anderson invited him to be baptized and he said, “I’m open to anything right now. My soul just needs healing.” and he started to open up about how he’s seen so many traumatic things as a police officer and how he’s at his breaking point. You never know when and how somebody will need the comforting words of the gospel! It was beautiful and so sad.
On Sunday I got to speak in church. I was the concluding speaker, which is kind of the worst because you never know how much time you will have and because you have to wait through the whole meeting to get relief for your nerves BUT it was such a great learning opportunity. I drew a lot from Elder Christofferson’s “Why the Church?” and talked about the purpose of organized religion in bringing us to Christ and told of the little branch I attended in Germany. It was a good experience. Also we had a pretty small congregation thanks to Memorial Day.
Well my friends… thank you. Happy memorial day. Write me!!! Please!!!!! 841 Thomas Ct. #57, Winchester VA 22601
Love,
Sister Afton

the shower

Every week here in Winchester we see a shower of blessings, both literal and figurative. It has rained more days than not this month. We also have been teaching some amazing new people! For example, we got a call last week from our mission president’s wife, who is an actual angel. She told us that she was passing through the area when she popped in to buy something at the local CVS. At the cash register the woman working there looked at Sister Christiansen’s name tag and said “Are you from a Christian church?!” She got so excited and said she had been looking for a church. After we got this wonderful phone call, we went immediately to the aforementioned local CVS. There was a man working at the register so we walked a slow circle around the store. We didn’t see her so we decided to come back later. As we walked out of the store, it felt like my legs were turning into cement. I honestly could not walk another step. I said, “Companion, we need to turn around.” And we went to the register and asked for the interested party in question. The cashier called her and she came to the register with a confused look on her face, then nearly jumped out of her socks in excitement/surprise when she saw our tags. “You’re from the church!!” she said. Yes we are. We scheduled an appointment at the home of some members who have kids about the same age as her son. It was such a great lesson!!! She’s amazing!!! Everyone is amazing! We kept talking about the hypothetical “when you find your answer” and finally she corrected us and said, “I got my answer when that nice blonde lady walked through the door. I had been praying to find a church and the Lord sent one to me.” :’)
We also got to go on an exchange with the Harpers Ferry sisters. Sister Sobieralski and I have a long history together, I have been her STL pretty much her whole mission and have followed her from area to area. That’s how you can tell it’s meant to be. She’s just a sweet, delightful little seahorse. We ALSO got to have dinner with some members who I used to teach when they were very new in the church a year ago. The mom in the family said, “You’re not the shy little girl I used to know! When I first met ya I thought, she looks just like a porcelain doll!” So cute. They have just been blossoming and growing. Nothing is more rewarding than the success of people you work with on your mission.
SPEAKING of which, we brought our investigator to the visitor’s center this weekend! We have some awesome members who are very intellectual and well-studied, which was the perfect fit because this investigator is working on her dissertation for her computer science Ph.D right now. We had a nice long drive down to learn nearly everything that has ever been revealed about the plan of salvation together and we got to talk about art history. Yes. My poor companion just fell asleep as soon as we got to Dali. It was probably for the better. Anyway she loved the visitor’s center and the temple and as we testified of the Savior, we extended a baptismal date to our investigator and she accepted!! We were telling her about some things she would need to do to qualify and we explained the word of wisdom. She said, “No coffee? Well, okay.” Pure gold!! Even though she teased Sister Anderson a little for crying while she was bearing her testimony. She’ll get used to it.
On Thursday we had our Mission Leadership Council, which is always just a fun exploration of the gospel and missionary work and learning together and trying not to get run over by the herd of zone leaders. This time our mission president and his wife got kind of sidetracked talking about scatological stories about their grandkids… nobody really knew what to do. It was hilarious. We also enjoyed many hours in the mission minivan with two sets of ZLs. You can imagine. Later that night we went to visit one of our members, a wonderful young woman in the ward. When we got there, her nonmember friend was around too, looking kind of shy. Finally she said, “I was wondering if you could do a lesson with me tonight?” Yeah, I think we can meet that request.
Finally on Sunday I got another blast from the past from my Charles Town days when our former ward mission leader was a visiting speaker!! I shook his hand enthusiastically before the meeting and as he began to speak I was sitting comfortably when he said, “I was drinkin from the watering fountain when I heard a voice say my nayme! I looked over and it was none other than Sister Aysplund. I remember her early days in the beginning of the mission. She was just so… (at this point I could just hear him ruling various adjectives out)… energetic. And such a blessing to our ward.” I just blushed and was heartwarmed and everything.
This week I saw that the Lord has the power and the desire to multiply our efforts. Just think of how He multiplied the loaves and the fishes: a young boy had a meager offering, which was all he had but still not enough to feed thousands. He put everything he had in the hands of the Savior and it was enough. So it is with our efforts. I do not have personal power to bring anyone to conversion but when I give the Lord my everything He multiplies it to make it sufficient. Hallelujah!
Thanks for being my friends. I love you. Write me! 841 Thomas Ct. #57, Winchester VA 22601
Hugs and handshakes,
Sister Pampered

Yasmine and the Jasmines

First of all HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!!!!!! I have learned on my mission that creativity is the greatest source of joy and that parenting is the greatest act of creativity, so mothers are kind of the whole point of it all. My mom especially. I don’t even know where to begin with how great she is. Something that my mom taught me that I have always treasured is the role of work. When we talk about work there are a few meanings. Working hard can be taken in the direction of putting worldly pursuits first at the expense of other, more important things, but my mom taught me by example that our hardest and best work should go into what matters most: our art and creativity, our families, that which brings us and others joy. This has had such an impact on my missionary service. Being wholeheartedly dedicated to worthwhile work is a wonderful feeling.
Being able to see the beautiful faces of my family was such a treasure. Our other Mother’s Day festivities included singing “I Often Go Walking” with the young women in sacrament meeting and bringing roses to all of our investigators. So fun.
We are experiencing a time of Big Miracles here in the field. Here are four:
1: First, a temporal miracle. It was sprinkling a little but nothing too bad. We walked past a door and the Spirit said, “Go knock on that door.” So I said, “Let’s go knock on that door.” We did and the lady who answered was of the Jehovah’s Witness faith and was not really interested in learning more but she was very very nice and we loved getting to know her. As we talked to her, a sudden downpour began. She said, “I’m about to have a yard sale and get rid of an extra umbrella. Let me give it to you! I’ve been out preaching and I know how hard it can be.” So nice!!! We got to stay a little dry. The Lord knows when it’s going to start pouring and He knows who has an extra umbrella and He will tell us.
2: On Saturday we had an appointment scheduled with some investigators and a member was planning on coming to teach with us. Our appointment cancelled but she decided to just come out and do whatever missionary things we were doing. We were just walking/driving around to different potential investigators all day. We were driving past a corner and Sister Anderson said, “Pull over. We need to talk to them.” So we did! We started talking to a couple who told us that sometimes the Mormons would stop by. I asked them their names and once they told me the veil was lifted and I remembered that I had been to their house once! So now we know that we should go back ASAP. That was some good clear direction. This wonderful member stayed with us for six hours and took us to dinner and she just loved every minute of it because she is a queen. It was so fun to introduce someone to the magic of missionary living and watch her get used to talking to strangers about Jesus.
3: Last week during our long weekly planning meeting that we have as a companionship, Sister Anderson was looking through the contact information for former investigators who we had stopped teaching for one reason or another. She found the name of Jasmine Fernando (last name has been changed because idk) and said, “We should definitely try again with Jasmine Fernando.” and I said, “Sounds great! Let’s do it!” and we wrote it down in our planners. The night before during our short nightly planning meeting, the Spirit had suggested to me that, despite the foreboding-looking forecast, we should walk to one of our appointments. So we did. As we were strolling through the rain after weekly planning, Sister Anderson said, “Wait. We need to knock on that door.” So we knocked and knocked and finally a young woman came around the side of the house. She introduced herself as Jasmine and she seemed to recognize who we were and said, “Yeah, some other sisters from the church used to come by and I was reading the Book of Mormon, but then I kind of got busy and we lost touch with each other.” Sister Anderson and I kind of looked at each other and asked what her last name was. She said, “Fernando” and we tried to be normal but secretly fistbumped when we were around the corner. When we came back, we discovered that Jasmine had a twin sister Yasmine, a stepsister Jasmine, and two friends name Jasmine and Jazmine. One of the friends was not really interested but the other Jasmines were! So we teach four Jasmines at once. It gets a little confusing. They’re amazing though, they have such a sincere desire to change their lives through the Atonement.
Finally, some funny times:
1: We knocked on someone’s door who had been interested and after a long time her husband peeked his head around the door and said, “Now I’m just settin here in my underwear so can y’all come back another time?” yes… yes we can.
2: We were praying with a lady we were visiting and her son came in the door, talking loudly on the phone. He got the message and got reverent but after he apologized and shook our hands. He said, “Normally I’m a hugger, but I’m all sweaty right now.” Kind of a tender mercy, really.
Anyway I love you friends! Write to me and tell me why you love your mom! 841 Thomas Ct #57 Winchester VA 22601
Love,
Sister Andersauce

the bloom abides

Where to begin?? Well this week we said goodbye to our sweet Sister Rogers, she traded places with Sister Anderson in Hagerstown. Sister Anderson is AMAZING and I have seen the way special people are prepared for special times in our lives. Sister Rogers was exactly the right companion for that time in my life and (more importantly) in the life of the area and now Sister Anderson is just exactly what we need. We also got two fresch new elders in the ward because the other two were needed elsewhere. I think this will be a bold new phase in the Winchester ward. It’s pretty exciting stuff. As a weird and wonderful farewell to Sister Rogers, we started teaching a family of twelve!! They consist of a mom and a dad and a whole bunch of their grandkids living with them. It’s been pretty cool on my mission to see how people can use the mighty force of love to create families that work even when things are hard or different than you expect or you end up raising ten of your grandchildren at once. The kids were so well-behaved and they loved what we were teaching them. We have a lesson with them tonight, I’m so excited for it. I love them so much.
Then we sent Sister Rogers off with a hug and a tear and brought Sister Anderson in. She has a powerful faith and determination, and she is so committed to fulfilling her purpose as a missionary. Every day this week I have come home completely exhausted and happy. We’ve been seeing huge miracles all week and we plan to continue seeing such miracles.
This weekend was highly eventful!! We had the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, which is a big deal here. Like, they left off school early for the event. It’s just a giant parade and lots of other weird and magical things. We set up a little table downtown, which we were instructed should be after the manner of the Relief Society lessons from The RM. We gathered pink, green, and white (these are the Apple Blossom colors) burlap and lots of water bottles and pass-along cards. You know, the Relief Society classics. Anyway we had a ton of fun and a kid who lived nearby decided to be our sidekick and gave everyone free water as an act of service. So much pink and green.
Sister Anderson’s investigator, Buddy, also got baptized this weekend! We took our sweet investigator who had such a good time. Buddy is just this humble quiet guy. After he was baptized he stood in the water and said, “I definitely feel different. I’ve never felt this way before.” He just did not want to leave the font and we slowly filed back into the chapel while he and his friend who baptized him stood in the water, literally soaking it in. It was so sweet.
On Sunday our ward finally got a real chorister instead of me at the last minute waving my arms haphazardly. Whew. We also found a great new family to teach! We had dinner with one of our favorite member families (oh they have the BEST baby honestly, I could cry) and we were just walking around their neighborhood after dinner when we ran into a fellow walking outside his house. He told us that in Eritrea, where he is from, they were celebrating Easter that day. He was so excited about Jesus. We are too! Constantly! We talked to his brother-in-law whom he was visiting and he said, “Go home and teach!” and pointed at his house. We walked in and started teaching their family about the restoration. There was a major language barrier but the Spirit was so strong and I think they understood. I shared the first vision and our investigator Teddy’s face just lit up. He said, “Ahhhhhhh” and committed himself to follow the challenge in James 1:5 and to study and find out for himself if what the church is teaching is true. We were just coming from a dinner appointment so we were pretty full but when they invited us to partake of their Easter dinner of course we couldn’t refuse. They brought down injera and piled lamb and chicken and other food about a mile high and then spread several tablespoons of Sriracha over the whole thing. I thought, “This is it. This is the meal in my mission that won’t fit in my body.” It was so delicious and so so spicy and their was so much of it. I was praying with every bite and finally Sister Anderson excused us. They didn’t seem to mind that we didn’t clean our plates. I was sweating the whole time with the spiciness of it all.
Anyway I love you my friends. Here is your Apple Blossom scripture: “He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.” Isaiah 27: 6 Israel is the family of God and our fruit is our good works! I love it!
Write to me, your friend. 841 Thomas Ct. #57 Winchester, VA 22601
Lots of love,
Sister Apple Blossom Festival
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