Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Homecoming Talk; Eternal Life Through Jesus Christ

Today I'd like to speak to you about eternal life through Jesus Christ, and of course,   my mission. When I was first given the topic, I had no idea how I was going to relate the two. I was nervous and coming home was still very raw, I was almost hoping there would be a random opening for surgery yesterday and I wouldn't have to speak. Luckily, surgery is still in a couple weeks, and after going to the temple about a month ago, I gained many  ideas of what to speak about.
With such a demanding schedule of icing, elevating, taking Tylenol, and not getting out of the house, my knees could only handle the temple long enough to do initiatories or even just sit in the waiting room a few minutes. One day I was getting ready for a doctor's appointment that I needed my knees to be really aggravated for, so I decided to go all out and do a session. It was my first session since I went to the Chicago temple on my mission, and reflecting on the months between made me think of the plan God had for me in those short months. It also made me think of His long term plan for me and each of His children. The most important part of that plan is our Savior, Jesus Christ, described in John 3:16-17; "for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that through Him they might be saved." Because He took upon Himself our sins and shortcomings, we can repent and be able to live with our Heavenly Father, again!
Moses 1:39 teaches us that God allowed this because His work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. What a beautiful and hopeful plan I am so grateful to have been able to share on as many doorsteps of Indiana as I could! Although tracting was intimidating at first, it came to be one of my favorite things. I got so excited to see who we might meet and to share with them my testimony of the gospel that means everything to me, and how it could bless them. I loved when people would answer and listen, but I loved even more seeing the spirit touch them. The spirit would help them become more accepting of the fact that two strange young girls in dresses and name tags were on their porch, discussing the reality of God and Jesus Christ, and the blessings of having a relationship with them. Often, you could see their eyes get brighter, and they might even open the door wider or hold their dogs inside while they shut the door to come chat on the porch. I loved helping them realize what the spirit was and what it meant. I usually awkwardly went about this by asking how they felt, after sharing a doctrine or principle. Sometimes they'd be confused, sometimes they'd express thoughts instead of feelings, and sometimes they'd say they felt "good", or something similar. We'd then read Galations 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law", and explain that the spirit is how we come to know truth.
By winter, my companion and I were tracting the cities of Beech Grove and Indianapolis during windows when members weren't inviting us to bake and carol with them, or teaching the recent converts who'd been baptized just before I was transferred there. My companion, Sister Peel, lived in Alabama for years before her mission, and hated the cold. She was in denial and wore her coat as little as possible, and used to smile with my persistence of continuing to talk to people even as they were shutting the door. I just had to be sure they didn't want to say a quick prayer with us, watch a quick Christmas video about the reason for the season, or if they knew anyone who'd could use an uplifting message about Jesus Christ. She had to remind me often that my knees needed breaks from the cold.
Something that was super effective in tracting was what we called “5 minute lessons”. These “5 minute lessons” were short, simple lesson plans that we would practice for sharing on doorsteps or on the street. We role played these tirelessly and at a zone conference even videoed and analyzed them. Afterward, Sister Clegg and I began videoing them on our cameras at home as we practiced. The more simply we were able to teach the restoration, the more excited we were to share it with others! Teaching the Plan of Salvation in five minutes was tricky. We would start by teaching that God has a plan for us called the Plan of Happiness. This started before we were born, where we lived with God, who knows and loves us. We would tell them that God gave us the gift of agency and sent us here to earth, before explaining how central Jesus Christ is in the plan. The Atonement made up most of the 5 minute Plan of Salvation lesson. We would explain that Jesus Christ is our savior, and came to earth to pay for our sins. His loving sacrifice for us is called the Atonement, which a allows us to overcome sin and death, and makes right everything in life that seems unfair. This is also explained in Ether 3:14, which reads, "Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters."
One experience that taught me a lot about eternal life through Jesus Christ was a lesson in Mishawaka with an investigator named Rob. Rob is a member's boyfriend and he'd had a rough life, growing up in the hood of Chicago. He didn't have very much religious background, and Sister Clegg and I were lucky he liked us enough to let us teach him. We were teaching him about repentance, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlet, and turned to the page with the steps of the repentance process and a painting of the savior. Looking at the painting, I asked Rob how he thought the Savior felt about him. He laughed and said "Sista Evans, why you gotta ask all the hard questions?" I had to laugh before continuing to testify how much Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ loved him, despite the sorrows and mistakes of his past. It suddenly reminded me of the story of the prodigal son, which was so fitting I can’t believe we hadn’t planned on sharing it, and began sharing the parable of the father, two brothers and their inheritance. We described to Rob how the prodigal son asked for his inheritance early, but used it up quickly in riotous living, and came back to see if his father would take him as a slave. As we next described the unconditional love and sweet excitement of the father, welcoming his son with open arms, the spirit and feelings in the room didn’t allow for any dry eyes. Through tears, Rob said, "I am that son". He was so excited to have the opportunity and blessing to repent and felt the spirit so much! Soon after we extended Rob a baptismal date, and he his reaction was to ask, "of this year??" And made us laugh again. Talking to him recently, I found that he has not been baptized yet, and hasn't been taking lessons from the new sisters, but is still reading the Book of Mormon and seeing the difference it makes in his life. I hope he continues on that path and know that eternal life is available to him. I know eternal life is possible for all through Jesus Christ. How the atonement of Jesus Christ allows ALL to attain eternal life is described in many scriptures, but one of the most simple is the third Article of faith. That is, "we believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel". I am incredibly grateful for the hope that that brings.
This hope is described in Moroni 7:41, "And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise." Learning about the Atonement was one thing I loved most about my mission. I started my mission in Mishawaka, which was super north and super close to Michigan. With humidity and lake effect from the Great Lakes, it could get pretty chilly, and pretty hard on my knees. I started my mission with imperfect knees and physical therapy exercises, but promises from doctors that I would get better in a few months, or, if not, would not have a problem. This was not the case, however, and as things started getting worse, President Cleveland let me know I would not stay there through the winter, but transferred close enough to see a doctor, in what he called the “tropics” of Indiana. My last Sunday in Mishawaka, we were excited about the investigators and less actives at church, and I knew I had to bear my testimony, but my heart was so full I could hardly do it. I finally got up, and spoke about how exciting General Conference was, the week before. I talked about how grateful I was for latter day prophets and apostles, and then talked especially about my favorite talk from Elder Bednar. In Elder Bednar's talk, he talked about a little boy and band aids. The band aids were like the Atonement, and after the boy felt its healing and comfort, he wanted to give out bandaids like candy. This reminded me of our ward mission leader, who loves to say that the gospel is like a good movie or song, when you get really excited about it, you want to share it with all your friends! The same feelings were shared many times in the scriptures.
One great example is Enos. Enos was the son of a prophet, and begins telling about the beginnings of his testimony in Enos 1:3-4, “Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart. And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens”. Pondering his father’s teachings of eternal life, Enos was inspired to act; he was inspired to change. After he received forgiveness, he could hardly believe it. After God explained to Enos that his faith in Christ had made him whole, Enos describes the growth of his testimony of the Atonement, in Enos 1:9,“Now, it came to pass that when I heard these words I began to feel a desire for the welfare of my brethren, the Nephites; wherefore, I did pour out my whole soul unto God for them”.
Another great example of the power of the Atonement is the story of Alma the younger. With the sons of Helaman, Alma the younger caused quite a bit of trouble and led away many. After being stopped by an angel, and realizing much guilt, Alma described in Alma 36:17-19 "And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world. Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more." What amazing hope the Atonement offers that allowed Alma to go from great sorrow and despair for his mistakes, to "joy as exceeding as his pain"!
After he gained strength and was able to stand, he was too excited to keep such a marvelous experience and testimony builder to himself! In Alma 36:24-25 he said "Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. Yea, and now behold, O my son, the Lord doth give me exceedingly great joy in the fruit of my labors". I absolutely love these verses! These verses so beautifully describe my joy in teaching about the Atonement on my mission.
Preparing for my mission I gained a great love for the Atonement, as it helped me to prepare, and gave me the strength I needed to do things I couldn't have on my own. During my mission, those experiences gave me motivation to share my testimony and give my all even when I wasn't sure how it was going to work out for me. The exact hope, strength, and peace I needed, I found in the Atonement. As I, and each of us, continue on our earthly missions, the Atonement allows us to repent and become worthy of eternal life. Alma says later in verses 27-28, "I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me. And I know that he will raise me up at the last day, to dwell with him in glory; yea, and I will praise him forever".
Eternal life through Jesus Christ is taught all throughout the Book of Mormon, as it is another testament of Jesus Christ, and an incredible teacher of the Atonement. This is shown In 2 Nephi 25:23, where Nephi explains, "For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do". As we give our all, our Savior makes up for what we cannot do on our own. I learned a lot about this my last couple of transfers in Mishawaka, after my trainer left. I felt like I didn't know the area, the people, or what I was doing, but with work, my new companion and I saw miracles. One miracle was named Orlando. One day we were looking at our map, planning how to make the most of the miles we'd be using to go to the member dinner we had, and found sticky notes for a few less actives, so we wrote their names down and went for it. Knocking on one of those doors, a young man probably only a few years older than us answered. His name was Orlando, and he told us that the brother whose name was on the ward roster hadn’t lived there for years, but was in the military and stationed in Hawaii. We learned more about Orlando, and that he was not baptized, but went to the Mormon church with his grandma, growing up. Although Orlando didn’t remember a lot of the things that he’d learned, as soon as we started teaching him we knew he was amazingly elect! On exchanges when Sister Clegg and one of our sister training leaders went to teach him, friends of his started showing up and asking questions, and participating in the lesson! It was amazing to see how by small and simple things, great things were brought to pass.
Nephi continues explaining in 2 Nephi 31:19-21, the way to Eternal Life, “And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life. And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen”. After faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, we must endure to the end. Enduring to the end is the longest and probably most difficult part. Nephi explains that to do so, we must “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men”. Our power to press forward and have hope increases as we live the gospel and grow in our faith. Nephi also instructs us to feast on the words of Christ, which is similar to John 5:39, which says “search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me”. As we continually feast on the words of Christ, and hold to the rod, they keep us on the straight and narrow, and give us power over temptation and distraction and mists of darkness.

I’d like to close with the scripture, 2 Nephi 9:18 “but, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever”. To this I add my testimony of the reality of the Plan of Salvation, and our potential for eternal happiness because of it. In his last conference talk, Elder Christofferson said “no one is predestined to receive less than all that the Father has for His children”. I know that this is true, and I love this gospel that helps me to know we can have eternal life with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and teaches and helps us on our way.

Friday, March 6, 2015

February 22nd Updates!

What a week! Monday I called President and received the verdict. As much as I didn't want going home to be the answer, that was the answer I felt fasting, and the answer my parents, and Stake President felt. The neat part about the call was a phrase President Cleveland used, saying "I guess this is the Lord's will!" which was definitely an answer. I was at the mall with a bunch of sisters when I called President and after I stopped crying long enough to tell them, Sister McMillan asked if she could take me on a walk. She said a lot of sweet things, including that she cared, another assurance of my Priesthood blessing the week before. 
Tuesday we got to teach Henry who we had met on the UIndy campus! It was so exciting to teach a full restoration lesson and the spirit was amazing! We met him at the library and were whispering back and forth at a table in the back but it was one powerful experience! We invited him to baptism and to church, both of which he wasn't too sure about, but we told him we were leaving and we would let the IUPUI sisters know and they'd be able to keep teaching him. One funny part of the lesson was when we were showing him what we call apostasy cups and when we spilled them a few people looked at us! Danny, who we also met on campus, walked by and was excited to see us while we were talking to Henry! He only had a second because he was going to study but he wanted to share some sushi with us! 
Wednesday we splurged on miles to see Todd and Donna Castner one last time. We brought the restoration movie hoping to stop in and share a quick message. They were excited to see us and chatted with us for quite a while, giving us lots of life advice, especially after we told them we were both going home! We invited them to baptism on April 4th but Todd wasn't too sure, and Donna didn't think she'd be ready that early. She said she really wants to belong to a church and be baptized, just maybe in the fall.
For our last District Meeting with the weird situations, we watched Prince of Egypt and made grilled cheese with Sister Banks. It was a lot of fun, and made me think a lot about the blessing being in this district has been! We've become friends even though we are all super different, and they've helped me a lot by making me laugh and joining us for lunch or ice cream runs! Sister Banks also made us laugh with her match making. 
When Sister Steadman found out I was going home she called during lunch one day to tell me how proud she was of all I had done. I love her so much! She was so helpful arranging doctors visits with me and so sweet to check up on me so much! Later that week when we were in the mission home after Sister Gil's exit interview I had the sweetest chat with her about God's will and plan for us that helped me to be excited for whatever the Lord has in store for me! Things don't always work out the way we planned, but God's plan is always better than ours.
Saturday it was snowing like crazy and our cars were grounded! We decided to bite the bullet and go tracking a few streets away from our house. What an adventure! We tried helping people shovel their driveways but a few of them ignored or declined, and one of them only spoke Korean! We tried to give him a pass along card with a picture of Jesus but he didn't want one. Later that day our cars were ungrounded and we were running to the post office for some boxes when we got rear-ended. What a day!

Don't worry I did not break this chair! It was just super convenient..

Breakfast at the Lane's in Cross Roads!

This Train is Bound for Glory with Brother Lane!


Our last dinner with the Restivos! They are so sweet.

Favorite Quotes!

"Sister Banks can I not like Elder Givens?" Sister Gil
"NOPE!" Sister Banks
"Can Elder Givens like someone else?" Sister Gil
"NO!" Sister Banks

"You better take a good long look at her and a picture because she's about to go home!" Sister Banks to Elder Lorsch

"Elder Cathcart you left meat on the bones!" Sister Gil
"I can't see it!" Elder Cathcart not wearing his glasses

"I like your necklace!" Lauren Futrell
"Thanks! They call me one chain" Sister Gil
"That's funny, they call me two chains" Elder Lorsch
"They call me three chins!" Lauren

"You look pretty delicate, maybe you just need to go on a raw diet! Get that inflammation out!" Donna (I)

"'and strengthen the feeble knees' hey that's sister Evans!" Elder Given

"oh you don't look that old!" Sister Gil
"Thanks! I might become a Mormon just because of that!" Leah's mom
"Oh don't do that! You've got to pray about it!" me
"I don't pray. I'm an atheist." Leah's mom

"Ok hold on...there's bread...in your hood" Sister Gil
"Oh ya, kids" Brother Gurman

Monday, March 2, 2015

February 16th Weekly Update

Since driving to and sitting for a couple hours at Stake Conference my knees were even more swollen and hurting, so I asked for a blessing Monday. Sister Gil had suggested I get another blessing but I wasn't sure because I'd just gotten a blessing from Elder Mortensen. Elder Rasmussen, who I served with and was friends with in Mishawaka, was at the chapel that P-Day and I knew if I was going to get a blessing I wanted to ask him. I was gathering up my stuff and ran into him in the kitchen after we'd both been busy, and knew I had to ask. One of the parts that stood out to me most was when I was blessed to know that many people cared. Right after, one of the elders asked me why I didn't play soccer with them that day, and I said I went to the mall with some other sisters because my knees were hurting, and he said they missed me on their team.
We also went to the UIndy campus with the elders and taught 6 lessons and found 2 new investigators! One kid we talked to was walking with his girlfriend, so we were trying to talk to both of them, when they saw a friend who wanted to come see what we were doing, and then another friend, and then another, until there were 4 students with super different religious beliefs talking to us! What a lesson! One of them was named Jeff, and he said he knew the Bishop of the Plainfield ward I just served in, had been studying the church for two years, and had a Book of Mormon! That was way exciting!
For lunch one day we went to Sister Bank's for pizza with the elders, but didn't think she'd be home. Before the elders got there Sister Banks came in! We were pretty surprised because we thought she was helping at her friends Linda and Raymond's, but it turned out she was having a pretty rough day and having the missionaries there, who she calls her kids, was so good for her! Later that week we brought her roses for Valentines Day and she was on cloud nine, it was the sweetest! She sure loves her missionaries, and we sure love her!
Wednesday we had a March Madness Zone Conference that was pretty exciting! While I was icing Elder Smithhart asked if he could wear my tennis shoes, and was so excited to get in on the basketball clinic! It was really sweet how many people reached out to me that day to see how I was doing. Afterward I talked to President because I was nervous about training with my knees bothering me so much. That night we had dinner with the Restivo family who had prepared a message for us about God's love, including a video from President Uchtdorf, who is one of my favorites! It was incredibly overwhelming. Getting ready to go, Sister Restive gave me a hug and asked how my knees were doing. She expressed her love, concern, and how much she was praying for me! That night another evidence of God's love was my district leader giving me a call. Elder Diaz asked how I was doing and I told him I was great and asked how he was doing, but he said he knew I'd had a rough day and he was sorry there was nothing he could say to make it hurt less, but he wanted to let me know that he cared.
Waiting for President Cleveland to call and talk to my parents and stake President about how much pain I was in was pretty difficult. I prayed and studied so much about it, and by Friday, reading my Patriarchal blessing, I felt like I should pray more specifically if going home would be best, rather than what to do. The peace that then came over me was amazing! Sunday I fasted that I, and those who were involved in my decision, would be able to know God's will, and that I would be able to accept that will.

Seeing Sister Banks' chicks with Beech Grove 1.3 and Cross Roads!

Dinner with the Hutchisons!

Favorite Quotes!

"My family is actually Amish!" Jake (PI)

"It's open!...It's already unlocked!...We're in here!...Come in!" Sister Gil
"It's me!" Sister Banks

"I like you! Can you come back?" Molly Tomlinson (PI)

"Today we met a kid named Jeff at UIndy that knows the Simpsons and has been studying the church for two years! Crazy!" Me
"What the...get baptized! Haha" Sister Lowry

"and please bless the haters..." Elder Borsch prayer request

"I was gonna scare you because I saw you first but I thought you might scream so I decided to scare Sister Gil" Elder Diaz

"And you should probably look out for Joe" Sister Williams, referring to Kat's son

"I'd be like 'um ya, I can help you with those pillows!" me and moving

"God was smart sending His pretty daughters to find and teach His sons!" Kat (I)

"and I visit teach Sister Comeau" Sister Tait
"Oh no, she hates us!" me
"She hates you? Can she have visiting teachers?" Sister Tait
"Ya, she likes other people, she just called the cops on us!" me

"If you could marry any fictional character who would it be and why?" Sister Williams
"I'm racking my brain for fictional characters...the only one I can think of is Harry Potter and he's not exactly my first choice" me

"We had dinner with the Ronalds who were gracious enough to feed us two triple cheeseburgers...each!" Elder Lorsch, referring to them having McDonald's for dinner

"Should we go check on Elder Bair?" me
"Oh he's fine" Elder Lorsch
Don't worry about it mother Evans" Elder Given

Friday, February 27, 2015

February 9th Weekly Update

Highlights of the week! Wednesday we stopped by to see Donna because she hadn't been answering our texts, and she was not only home, but her husband, Todd, was home too! He came home from the hospital and had been there for just a few days. They were huge chatter boxes and we were there for so long I had to go to the bathroom part way through, but we taught them the restoration! It was sweet, and Donna thought it was so cool! We don't have a solid return appointment but they said we can stop by again soon! 
We also found A NEW INVESTIGATOR!! Our first feat was to find a neighborhood that we could tract in because so many are no soliciting! We were walking around and we saw this guy out playing with his kids so we walked over and talked to him. He was super cool and his family was so sweet! We are going back to teach him Tuesday and are so excited! After we finally found another street we could tract we met this cute couple, the Vanlous, whose daughter and son in law were Mormon! Their son used to be Mormon, they said, and went on a mission, but had a lot of doubts after and decided not to keep going. They were pretty strong in their own religion but we talked to them about Family History and exchanged numbers so maybe we'll be able to go by again and show them more! We'll see.
 We went by the Vasquez family this week as well and they had a lot of non member visitors there! One of them even said he saw us earlier that week at a restaurant called Papa Roux's we went to as a district after district meeting! Another sweet thing that happened this week was when we were eating with the Sanders after we said the closing prayer Brother Sanders asked if he could add to the prayer, and prayed that we would be able to find new investigators. What a sweet, humble family!

Favorite quotes!
"Do you have any...in English? I know he looks ethnic but..." Sydney, a former investigator, after we accidentally gave her a Spanish family history card

"He already peed on me twice so he doesn't get to sit on my lap" Stephanie, who we met at the Vasquezes, talking about their excited dog

"Elder Diaz could you possibly reach that? I'm not too flexible when I'm full" Elder Cathcart

"This cold weather's gotta suck for your knees!" President Cleveland
"Ya...it does!" me
"They should've sent you to Tampa or something!" President Cleveland
"Ya! Maybe next time!" me
"There is no next time..." Sister Gil

February 2nd Weekly Update and Pictures

Highlights of the week!
On Wednesday after District meeting the elders asked us to come PC campus with them because Sister Gil served on another campus for a few months and we were not finding any new investigators tracting our neighborhood. The three of us mostly watched Sister Gil for a minute but then hopped in and tried, ourselves! It was pretty crazy and we met some pretty cool people! One of them was named Colton and he struck up a conversation with us while we were inside warming up for a minute. He talked about how he was researching cancer because his grandma was going through cancer for the second time, and we told him about the Book of Mormon. He was excited to read it and wants to learn more! He's super busy with going to work and school from home in Avon, but we're going to keep trying!
The other day we were trying Less Actives again and were referred by one less active (Sister Myers) to another (Dorthea), and got to share a scripture with her (Dorthea) and a friend (Amy)! They said they work a lot so it's going to be hard to see them again, but it was super cool they both happened to be there when we stopped by! Yesterday we went to meet her mom and brother (the Goodners) and found a nonmember there! His name was Mike and after we shared a scripture with Dagon (Goodner) Mike asked if we could pray for his daughter who had just passed away. We shared a little bit of the restoration with Mike and tried to give him a Book of Mormon but the print was too small for him to read. Nonetheless he is excited to learn more when we go back to see Sister Goodner on Tuesday! Wahoo for new investigators!!
Yesterday was an intense day at church! Ricky Taylor (returning less active) got called to be a gospel doctrine teacher, which he is perfect for him! and Jenny Taylor (recent convert) was so excited to be called as a visiting teacher she spit all over me telling me about it, which was pretty funny! Testimony meeting was AMAZING because Sister Durtschi, the Relief Society President, who's been trying to get over pnemonia so they can do surgery on a tumor behind her optic nerve they just found, was there and bore her testimony. Everyone was so glad to see her and has been praying so much for her family! The Sanders also bore their testimonies because Brother Sanders spent a lot of last week in the hospital with heart failure. Brother Durtschi sat behind Sister Durtschi as she was bearing her testimony and put his arm around her to walk back to their bench, it was so sweet! Then Sister Marks was bearing her testimony and said how sweet it was to watch two of the Durtschi kids watch their mom and dad walk up there and the boy just put his arm around the other and hugged them. I'm pretty there were no dry eyes there! Even better, Tyneka's daughter, Akaiah, went to church with the Sperry girls and Sister Pitcher was called as the seminary teacher! 

Helping at Sister Banks' farm

​Favorite Quotes!
"You ain't gonna be my husband!!" Sister Banks upset with Brother Pace pushing her cart

"We're gonna get you feelin' better and we're gonna get you running and jumping! I don't know why you like those things but we're gonna get you doing that!" Sister Steadman

"I'll buy your lunch!!" Sister Banks, when we had a lunch appointment when she wanted us to come to her farm
"Sister Gil, do you know what 'on sale' means??" Sister Banks, almost buying us 10 Reece's Peanut Butter spreads because they were on sale

January 26th Weekly Update

What a week!
This week we worked with Relief Society a lot on finding and contacting less actives, but were rejected by most of them! Monday one of them called the cops on us because we left a note in their door and they thought we were trying to break in. We were trying a few in the same neighborhood and had already gone to the next house, were parked in front and mid prayer, when we realized there were flashing lights behind us. We turned the car back on so we could roll down the window and they asked if we'd been on a street called Ithica way. We were like "oh ya, we actually were!" and they said someone called them because they heard their doorknob jiggling and they thought someone was trying to break in. Sister Gil promptly told them we were from their church and just wanting to visit them, "we're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! Also known as Mormons!" I almost thought she was going to ask if they'd heard of it before or had a faith in Jesus Christ! They asked our names and I said "Sister Evans and Sister Gil!" And Sister Gil said "Nicole Gil and--" and I said "Amanda Evans!" and they said "ok, and you left a note in their door?" and then he said something to another officer on the other side of us we noticed just then, and got back in their cars and left. That was definitely the first time I'd been pulled over! We knocked on the door we were stopped at, left a note, and went home real quick! The next day the elders were also having a rough one so we had pizza at Sister Banks, and milkshakes the next night! The crazy thing is we had tons of less actives at church, yesterday!
We did get to meet with a part member family yesterday who just found out the husband has cancer. They were super humbled and excited for a message and help from the Relief Society! They chatted with us for a couple hours and it was so great! We watched the video "Mountains to Climb" with them and all cried. 
Another exciting bit of news is that Nora from Mishawaka is going to be a gospel doctrine teacher! Oh my, she is amazing and I am so excited for her!! I can't believe it's been 5 months since she was baptized!

Favorite quotes!
"Bree open the door, I wanna talk to you! And these ladies want yo mama!!" A girl beating us to the door while tracting

"I don't got no bologna, I got cheese!!" Sister Banks

January 21st Weekly Update

Exciting week!

TRANSFER WEEK! I'm now with Sister Gil who is going home after this transfer, and Sister Peel is in Plymouth with Sister Hansen, who I met when she first came out! EXCITING NEWS: the temple is being dedicated August 23rd! The open house will be July 17-August 8 and the cultural celebration on August 22nd. Crazy!!
This week one of the highlights was teaching Donna Castner! Todd Castner was a former investigator, whose record sister Peel and I found and wanted to contact. We went by and met his wife, Donna, who greeted us by asking if we could give Priesthood blessings. We told her we couldn't, but could find someone who could for her, and she gave us her number to set up an appointment. We called and called but she didn't answer, until the elders received a referral for her, probably from her aunt serving a senior mission. They were able to give him a blessing for his MS, and the elders set up a return appointment for us to meet her because they live in our area. Sister Gil and I were looking for her house when sister Gil said she thought it was the one with a sign on the door, but by the time we got turned around to park the sign was gone. We walked to the door and she said she was nervous to talk to us because of how emotional she was about the situation with her husband's health, but decided to take it down. It was taken down as we drove by! We got to know her much better and she will be hopefully calling soon to set up another appointment when she is ready.
We also had a sweet experience with Tyneka, one of the recent converts, who asked if we had a few extra Books of Mormon her kids could have. Her daughter, Akiah, definitely didn't want to go to church or even talk to us but Sister Peel and I went over to play games with them and she started to like us, and then when we went to mutual, Wednesday she was not only there but having fun with the other girls! Tyneka told us Akiah and her son were going to Seminary with Tyneka's boyfriend's kids and wanted a book for it. Her boyfriend is Brother Sperry, he's also a cop, and they're going to get married soon! They're the best, and their kids are a hoot! I'm so excited for them!


"Well, enjoy the rest of your life because we'll probably never see you again!" Library lady to Sister Peel
"Hi! How are you?" Sister Gil and I to everyone at the hospital when we went to see Sister Chisler after her surgery
"You two are such a hoot!" Sister Holt

"I think I'm moving to...moving to...to..." Sister Chisler, visited after surgery
"A condo?" Brother Holt
"No--a rehab" Sister Chisler
"Brother Holt! Who brought you, anyway?" Sister Holt

January 12th Weekly Update

Hello! It's been an exciting week to report on! 

First off, we got transfer calls on Saturday! Sister Peel is leaving and I am staying, as expected, but we will both be training in not this transfer but the next! We are pretty excited! I will be in Beech Grove for 4.5 more months then, and Sister Peel will be in her next area for the same amount, wherever it is! 

Todd Castner, the former we tried by whose sister or aunt was a senior missionary and wanted a blessing we have been calling and calling for a few weeks without answer! The elders got a referral the other day and when they went to go contact them it turned out to be Todd! The elders gave him a blessing and will be going back to teach him, Friday! So cool!!

Yesterday was a crazy day, we saw more progress from our investigators in one day than we have in like 3 months! We stopped by the Riveras and showed them "The Hope of God's Light" and part way through when it was talking about addictions Will said it was so weird because the day before he'd been thinking about stopping drinking! They also prayed as a family the night before!! This man wasn't even sure he believed in God the first time Sister Peel contacted him!! They loved the video and agreed to read Alma 32 for real before we take them on a church tour next Thursday! At the end he asked if he could pray for Sister Peel before she left. OH MY it was amazing!! The Jones hadn't been taught the restoration yet but have been to church, and love us coming over but hardly give us time to even talk about the gospel! They read the restoration pamphlet and we showed them the restoration video yesterday, and let us talk about it! We asked how they felt and Laura said she felt nothing, it was just logical. We kept talking further and she finally said she kinda felt content! We explained that that was the spirit and tried to get them on a church tour but they are moving this week and will be crazy until after. 

Yesterday we also saw Brizeida, the elder's recent convert. She was super sad that Elder Mortenson was leaving and talking about the difference missionaries had in her life and how hard transfers were for her. It was a sweet reminder that as missionaries we leave our families for a year and a half or two so that others can be with their families for forever! Another sweet experience we had with members was when we got a ride home from church with the Crumbos. It started ice raining and Sister Crumbo got really worried so she said we need to say a prayer! Then her son said oh, prayers always help! And the daughter started praying. After she asked for us to get home safely and the rain to stop, it did for a few minutes! Then they felt silly for praying for safety when the missionaries were with them and they would've been safe, anyway:) afterward she thanked us for the spirit we brought even in the car on the way home from church. She is so sweet! I am glad I get to be with the members of the Beech Grove for 6 months! 

"And what's your name, lady?" Theron (former investigator)

"I learned this during WWII, if you eat that salad and think really hard about rolls, your salad will taste exactly like salad!...I mean a roll!" Elder Lorsch

"It wasn't oatmeal lotion! It was lavender stress relieving lotion!" Elder Diaz

"Where do generals hide their armies?...up their sleevies!" Elder Lorsch

Thanks for reading, have a great week!!

January 5th Weekly Update

Hello! This week was pretty exciting! Tuesday Sister Richardson came to Beech Grove for exchanges and we were going to start the day by going to see a less active, Allen Skaggs, and tracting around his house, but when we knocked, this girl, Sylvia, answered the door. Turns out I was looking at an old ward roster and now the Vasquezes live there, who are related to him in some way that I don't remember. The Vasquezes are a part member family and Sylvia was living with them, but I didn't know if she'd been taught by missionaries before. It was super awkward, I had no idea what to do! We just talked to her and then I was about to share a scripture with her and asked if she knew much about the Book of Mormon when she said she'd been taught by missionaries before. Sister Richardson asked why she stopped, and she said it was because she went to college and lost touch, but had been thinking about coming back to church! We got her address and referred the missionaries from her campus to her and invited her to church! It was so cool! Then when we were tracting we met Stephanie, a mom who was looking for a church for her kids! 
Wednesday Sister Peel and I had like no miles left, so we tracted the rest of the neighborhood for a few hours! It was super cold and people kept shutting the door on us but I kept asking questions as they were shutting the door, to see if they knew anyone we could share a message with or if we could say a prayer with them, especially because we're working a lot on referrals! One guy was shutting the door and when I asked him, he was like "oh, and we watch BYUTV!" after saying he was too busy to talk to us. Finally at the end of the day when we were with investigator family, the Jones, we asked for a referral and they gave us a way solid one! We saw her the other day and there were so many things going on in her life that she needed the gospel for so much but she wasn't quite ready. We're going to give her a little time and go back! 
One night all our appointments were falling through so we tried making cookies with our Indiana cookie cutter and they did not turn out! They looked a little bit like really obese Indianas!
Also, during weekly planning the toilet in our appartment broke so we were like dying for a few hours until after lunch we ran to target on our way to see a recent convert, and laughed about our missionary problems!
"I need to live in a bubble, but I'd probably suffocate in it or something" Tyneka, who is always hurting herself!
"My wife and I used to go to the temple every week and I'd fight with her everytime saying we'd just gone last week and after every time she didn't say anything but I knew that she knew that I knew she was right" Brother Kistemann
"On exchanges the other day I fell off like 3 porches!" me
love you! Have a good week!

December 29 Weekly Update

What a week!

On the 23rd Sister Peel received a prompting to go see a former investigator, Mr. Jameson, who she had seen with her previous companion, Sister Vidmar, but he was taking care of his wife with cancer and trying to help her through the holidays. He came out as we were pulling up to tell us it was not a good time, because his wife had passed away a few hours earlier. It was so sad! We shared Alma 7:11-13 with him about the atonement and cried most of the way home that Heavenly Father trusted us to go take care of him. Later in the week we went to see another former, Todd, with MS. His wife answered the door, and asked if we could give blessings. We told her we couldn't, but could find someone who could for her, and she was excited. She said her husband's aunt was serving a senior mission for our church and kept telling him he should get a blessing. We got her number and said we'd call to set up a time for the blessing, it was so cool! We talked to some members pretty close to them about going to give him a blessing and be a friend to their family. 

Yesterday at church one of our Recent Converts, Sister Chisler, had a friend in Gospel Principles while we were talking about final judgement, which we were a little nervous about! Afterward I was talking to her and found out she was less active, which was a relief! Her name is Pam and she is living with her parents while going through a divorce and trying to help some wayward kids, so her life is a little crazy! At first she just said she was going through a rough time, but the more I talked to her, the more she shared her life story! I told her that we texted quotes and scriptures each day to a group of people and asked if she'd like us to send her some as well, which she did, and we got her number. She was so sweet, we are definitely praying for her!

Yesterday we had a super sweet lesson with the returning to activity/recent convert family, the Taylors, about family history and the temple. They have a son who is deaf and a daughter who has down syndrome and is deaf, so talking about their eternal family was so sweet! We talked about when they would be sealed next year, on October 17th and they invited me to go with them:)

Favorite Quotes! (I forgot to write most of them this week, and my camera is dead...sorry!)
"Happy birthday, brother Jesus! Amen" Sister Burtzo

"That was sassy, sister Evans! I'm proud" Elder Mortenson