Monday, November 20, 2017

Working With Lots of Great People!

Monday night, we didn't have a lot of time, but we decided at 8:00 PM to try to go by a family. We showed up just as they were pulling into their driveway. We were able to get their phone numbers, then they said, "Do you want to come inside?" We all sat down around the table, and it turns out that one of them has been independently searching for a church and had decided to come to ours on Sunday.  We talked about our purpose as missionaries and how we can know that God is really there and taught her how to pray. We asked her if she would be baptized if she knew this was all true, and she said yes and committed to be baptized on December 9th! ... The only sad part of this story is that they didn't come to church like they said they would, so we're going to go by tonight and hopefully figure out what happened. 

 One person did come to church, whose going to an English ward closer to their house, but they went with Sister McKeen and are excited about it. We've started teaching the daughter and she has a lot of questions. It's so fun to watch her mom teach her, and be so excited to share the gospel with her daughter. She's already set a night for family night and wants us to come whenever we can. This Friday we're going to the Mesa Christmas lights with them, which I'm excited about!​  ​

Hermana Garner with one of her new friends! 
Another young woman we are teaching didn't get to go to church (she also goes to an English ward closer to her house) but her father said he would go WITH her next week, which we're excited about. She has great support in that ward. The Young Woman's president is amazing - she took her to Deseret Book and bought her her own set of scriptures with her name on them, and has been willing to drive to Phoenix to pick her up for church when she's with her mom over the weekends! I want to be that devoted to service when I return home. We sometimes have trouble getting in touch with her, but we're going to start having regular lessons before mutual, so that'll be great. She's already telling everyone she's going to be baptized.  She went to the New Member Fireside with us last night  and said she felt the Spirit a lot and felt direction from the Lord.  ​

As we were trying to contact some potentials and new investigators, we met a man (who I'd actually met before, but never had a full conversation with). We'd talked to his wife a couple weeks ago and she seemed super interested, but when we were talking to him he kept saying he already knew about the church and saying that we needed to study the bible more. It wasn't in an antagonistic way, he was just emphasizing how much he believes in the bible, but he was talking about how the bible says not to add to the gospel, and he thinks the reason his wife's interested in what we're saying is because she doesn't know the bible as well as he does and doesn't know that we're adding to it. Though I didn't say that, I was struck by the truthfulness of that scripture - that we must not add to the gospel of Jesus Christ. What people don't understand is that the Book of Mormon doesn't add to the gospel at all - it's the same gospel, just another witness of it. We didn't try to argue with him about it, though, but we did talk about the importance of relying on the Lord to help us understand the scriptures, and by the end he agreed to read a pamphlet and pray about it, which to me was a small miracle. 

The choir is sounding great for the Christmas concert, I'm so excited about it! We also had a review of all the small group numbers this Saturday, and I was super impressed by them - they sound so good!  They're all so talented! 

I've been really bad at sharing my scripture study the past couple of weeks, and I apologize for that! But here are some of the thoughts that have stood out to me the most recently. 

 In Isaiah 28:24-29, Isaiah talks about how the plowman doesn't treat every plant the same, but he knows that they each need something different to grow. He compares this to how the Lord will harvest the earth, and it made me think more about our individual journeys to conversion. Everyone has a different story, and what brought me to Christ and to know of the truthfulness of the gospel is very different than what has brought others that I know to that same knowledge. But the Lord knows exactly what we need to grow, so that He can harvest us up to Himself. 

 I shared D&C 64:33 a while ago which is the one that says, "Be ye not weary in well-doing..." and while reading in Isaiah 40:28-29, I was reminded of it. Isaiah says, "Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?" Well, duh, right? But what's important to us is the next verse - "He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength." It's so comforting to know that we can and do receive strength from one who never wearies, who is always strong. Thus, the commandment of "Be ye not weary" can really be seen as an invitation - "Come to me, and I will strengthen you, that you may do my work." 

  ​Last fun little tidbit for this week - I've been learning how to pray and testify in Samoan! So I say most of my prayers in Samoan now, though it's very broken Samoan haha.

Ou te alofa mo otou uma lava! (I love you all!) 
 Hermana Garner

Monday, November 13, 2017

More Miracles!


It never ceases to amaze me the miracles I see on the mission. I don't know why I'm always surprised, but I constantly am by just how active the Lord is in His work. It's because we are His children, and He truly loves us and wants us to come back home. It's humbling to be able to feel a portion of that love and help Him in this important work. 

 Wednesday was zone conference, and every zone conference we have car inspections. So we got there a little early so we could refill the coolant and things (they always have supplies available) and when we went to open the coolant it started boiling over. So ... that's not good. After zone conference we ended up having to go all the way to the dealership to drop it off, and then we were stranded in Gilbert and had to find a ride back home.  
flat tires from running over goats head thorns

And as a result of all of that, we didn't have a car on Thursday for exchanges, so we were on our bikes all day. And as you can see from the pictures I sent  ... that didn't turn out so well haha. We ended up stranded halfway to an appointment and had to call the other sisters for a ride back to the house.   




But then, we were walking to WalMart to buy tubes for our tires and I heard someone call my name! Natalie Giddens (one of Herman Garner's young women's leaders forom when we lived in GA) came up to us! Turns out she lives in our area, and she actually ended up giving us a referral. We stopped by the next day and also made a dinner appointment, so we're eating dinner with them this next Thursday :) 

 We finally got the car back that night, and headed to an appointment. We had a great lesson, reading Mosiah 18 and talking about becoming converted and the choice to be baptized. We extended December 2nd as a baptismal date, and they both accepted!!  The spirit was so strong! They are both diligently seeking truth! 

  Friday night, we organized a night of going on splits with a bunch of ward members, and I went out with Sister Dickinson, the relief society secretary. She's from Ecuador and she's absolutely hilarious, and really sweet. That morning, Sister Fuimaono and I had planned what we each wanted to do while we were on splits, but as Sister Dickinson started driving none of it felt right. So, we said a prayer, and eventually ended up at the house of a family that's been on our potentials list for a while. When we got there, the 13-year-old daughter answered the door, and she was clearly happy to see us. Long story short, she had taken her mom's Book of Mormon and started reading it, even though it was in Spanish and she doesn't really know how to read Spanish. So she was thrilled when we gave her an English one. We taught her how to prayer, and in her prayer before we left she said, "And please help me because I really do want to know if the Book of Mormon is true." We have an appointment with them tonight and are excited to get back in! The older sister came out at the end and asked for her own Book of Mormon as well, and they both told us that the dad has been hoping we would stop back by soon.  

  We're definitely looking forward to this week and hoping that we'll be able to put more people on date and help them to find the joy of the gospel! 

Love,
Hermana Garner

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tender Mercies 6 & 7: Finding Happiness and Learning to Forgive

First day of 6th grade. New state, new school - new life.

It would be an understatement to say that I was nervous.

But I went in with high hopes. When I saw Rachel in the hall - the one person I new in my grade, since she was a member of my ward - I smiled and waved, but unfortunately she wasn't in my class.

That's okay, I thought. I'll just make new friends.

Sitting down, the shocking realization that everyone around me was speaking another language momentarily put me into a catatonic state. I knew we lived close to Mexico, but I hadn't really thought about how close and that I would suddenly be a minority in my community.

It was overwhelming.

But again, how exciting, to be able to have this new experience and learn about a culture that was different than what I'd always grown up with!

The day went by quickly, and before I knew it I was in line waiting for the bus. Two girls sat in front of me, chatting away in Spanish. One of them turned to face me, and I felt my heart jump a little with the anxiety any new kid feels.

"Do you speak Spanish?" she asked brightly.

"No," I said with a bit of a sheepish laugh. "I just moved -"

"Oh, good!" she said, sounding relieved, then turned and continued to animatedly talk to her friend.

***

A few months passed, and I felt like I'd begun to find my place in this new world. I was learning a few Spanish words, but still couldn't join in many of the conversations my peers were having. But that was all right, they all spoke English too!

I'd joined a few school clubs - band, music appreciation, theatre - and was enjoying developing my talents. I'd also made an amazing friend - we'll call her Sandra - and spent most nights at her house playing with her dad's old typewriter and recording equipment.

She was in my classes, and we were almost inseparable. Every activity we did, we did it together. She even came to some church parties with me and enjoyed them!

Things were much better than they had been at the beginning of the year, and I was starting to feel like I fit in.

***

I don't remember when it was - sometime about halfway through the school year - but I arrived at school, and no one would talk to me. Not even Sandra. I told myself I was imagining things, but when we went outside to recess, and I went to the usual spot to hang out with my friends - no one joined me. In fact, they moved to the opposite end of the field, and kept moving further away from me when I tried to join them.

What is going on?

I ended up giving up on trying to join them, and went to sit on one of the swings. The playground almost immediately emptied of all the students in my grade. I watched them scatter from my presence like wild animals that sense danger.

Finally, after about 10 minutes, Victoria started heading towards me. She seemed somewhat hesitant as she sat on the swing next to mine, but managed a smile.

"How are you?" she asked.

"Confused," I said, frowning as Sandra and I made eye contact for just a moment before she immediately turned away. "Why is everyone avoiding me?"

Victoria hesitated, but then sighed. "Because of what Sandra said."

My eyebrows shot up in shock. "What - What did she say?"

The rest of recess, Victoria told me how Sandra had spread all my secrets throughout the school (as horrible as a 6th graders secrets can be) and dozens of lies as well, saying I said things I never did, that I stole from her, that I was a liar - and many more horrible things I never thought people actually said about each other.

That night, I went home and cried for hours. I cried every night for at least a month.

***

Victoria was practically the only person who talked to me at school. I was grateful for her friendship, but that didn't make everything else that much easier. Still, she was someone to lean on.

But I was not happy. I wanted to go back to Utah desperately, where I knew I had friends and I wasn't ostracized by my class. Or at least, I wanted the school year to end so I could move on to middle school and hopefully make friends with people who didn't think I was a thief and a liar.

It was in the middle of all of this that I turned 12 and joined Young Womens. I was immediately introduced to the Personal Progress Program.

Well, I had no friends to really spend time with, so what else was I going to do with my time?

I jumped head first into completing my projects to get my medallion. And suddenly, I found that I was happy again. People still didn't really talk to me, and they still made fun of me, but as I developed my faith, divine nature, individual worth, and other values, I didn't feel alone. I started to recognize who I was, that I was a daughter of God, that my family was still there for me, and that they always would be.

And that, above all, Heavenly Father had a plan for me, and that plan included being happy.

The next year was full of rich, rewarding experiences that brought me closer to my Father in Heaven and healed broken bonds with my friends and acquaintances at school. I did move on to middle school, and I met some amazing people. And before I turned 13, I'd earned my Personal Progress medallion.

***

As 7th grade ended, so did my time in South Texas. The last day of classes, I boarded a plane with my family to our next stop on our journey - New Jersey. I didn't know what to expect, but I was looking forward to a fresh start - and I knew that, no matter what happened, Heavenly Father would make it all work out, because that's what He did for me in Texas.

But as we got settled in our new house, there was a weight on my shoulders dragging me down - the bitterness I felt towards Sandra for what she'd done. There were so many things that would have been different if it hadn't been for her! I wouldn't have struggled so much, I would have had more friends, gone to more activities ...

One day, as I was again reflecting on this, a scripture came to my mind: "I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men." (D&C 64:10)

Letting out a deep breath, I asked for strength from the Lord to forgive Sandra, a girl who I at one point had called my best friend. And when I'd worked up enough courage, I picked up the phone and dialed her number.

"Hola?"

"Hi ... is Sandra there?"

"Yes she is, just a minute ..."

I let out another breath until I heard her voice on the other line.

"Hello?"

"Hey, Sandra," I said softly. "It's Tiffany."

There was a long, uncomfortable silence. "Hi ..."

"So, I - I just wanted to call to say sorry," I muttered out.

There were plenty of things I'd said over my time in Texas in my anger that I shouldn't have, and the spirit was helping me recognize that and feel sorrow for not being more Christlike, whatever another person's actions had been.

"Sorry?"

"Yeah, for being rude to you," I said. "And ... I wanted to let you know that I forgive you, too, and I really, really hope you have a good school year."

Another awkward silence followed. "... Okay."

After a few more awkward exchanges, we both hung up. And the burden I'd felt on my shoulders was gone.

I couldn't stop smiling, feeling so much gratitude to my Father in Heaven, and truly wishing the best for Sandra.

A little bit later, I called Victoria, my one really close friend from Texas. A couple minutes into the conversation, she said, "I thought you would miss me more, but you sound so happy!"

I just laughed, smiling widely. "I do miss you, but ... I am happy. Really happy."

Monday, November 6, 2017

Jesus, Others and You

Not that much to report on for this week. It was a bit slow - we weren't able to get in with a lot of people, and both Sister Fuimaono and I have been sick - but we persevered and did see miracles from it!   

Yesterday we had a regional conference where Elder Cornish, Sister Marriott, and Elder Christofferson spoke, so it was STACKED. It was all about service and how service is what brings us joy - the other 70 that spoke said that 'Joy' can be broken down as am acronym: Jesus, Others, and You. When we focus on things in that order, that's when we find joy. It made me rewrite 2 Nephi 2:25 In my head: "Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might serve."  

 The ironic thing about all of that is that, while serving this week, I got a concussion. It was really stupid. I was under an overpass picking up trash and didn't think about the fact that there was a road right above me, so ... I banged my head. So Saturday was spent in Urgent Care getting checked out. It's a very minor concussion, nothing to really worry about, but it's definitely made it a bit hard to focus and typing this email isn't very pleasant. But I'm grateful I can still work!  

Highlights of the week, though - Tuesday, we got to go to the temple while everyone else in the world
We got to go with Gloria to the temple to do baptism for the dead
was trick or treating, and it was such a special experience. It was definitely one of the times that I've learned the most while in the temple, and I got to talk to Sister Wheeler in the celestial room about some of the symbolism and came to understand and appreciate it better.

Friday, we had an incredible lesson with a new investigator. She's very strong in her own beliefs, and you can tell that she has an earnest desire to follow God. As we were speaking, she acknowledged that she'd never heard any of this before and expressed her concerns, we testified of how she could know for herself and she immediately agreed to read and pray. Despite her doubts, she wants to know the truth and is very open to not knowing everything and gaining a better understanding. She's so humble! She also just has the cutest
I saw one of my STLs from the MTC at the temple
family ever and a genuine light of happiness and gratitude to our Savior.

 Thursday was awesome with choir practice - we were really focusing on the words of the songs, and I expressed to the missionaries that I wanted to feel their testimonies as they sang. We were about to sing Joy to the World, and we just talked about the wonder and majesty of the Lord's birth and what it means for all of us. When they started singing, I was hit with a wall of the spirit - dozens of missionaries bearing their testimony with the power of the spirit behind it at once. It brought me close to tears, and I actually had to take a step back and just breathe when they finished singing the song. I feel so privileged to be able to work on this concert and have such a testimony of the power of music!

Love,
Hermana Garner

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Tender Mercy 5: Pushing Through

I had planned on focusing on past experiences and writing them in story form so it was a bit more engaging, but today is different. Because today, I have a concussion - MINOR concussion, mind you, but it still hurts. It's been hard to focus and my head has been pounding all day.

This morning, after a meeting we had with the bishop, I asked the elders to give me a blessing. In that blessing I was promised strength to be able to overcome what I was facing as I put forth my best effort.

So after dinner, when I felt like I was going to throw up what I'd just eaten and couldn't even imagine trying to teach the gospel, let alone in Spanish, I resisted the urge to tell my companion I needed to go lay down. I thought to myself, "You can do it, at least for a little while."

After each person we visited, I found myself tempted yet again to say, "Sister Fuimaono, my head is killing me." And she, being the observant person that she is, wasn't ignorant of how I was feeling (and on another note, didn't feel great herself today). She kept asking me if I was sure I was okay, and I thought back on the blessing and said yes.

I can knock one more door.

Almost 3 hours later, we headed home to do our studies. And after that last door - spending all the time we could proselyting - my headache subsided considerably. Yes, it still hurts, but much less than before.

I know that's a direct blessing from the diligence I showed today to the Lord. I wish I could say that every day I'm that diligent - the sad truth is, I'm not. But we don't ever have to wonder if our effort is worth it, no matter how painful the process - there's always something better waiting for us on the other end of the trial.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Tender Mercy 4: An Unwanted Answer

Texas.

I barely remembered anything about it, it had been so long since we lived there. I remembered visiting relatives a few times, and I knew that it was really far away from all my friends in Utah.

And now, my parents were telling us we might move there.

I didn't want to move. I didn't want to leave my school or my ward, or the community theatre I'd gotten involved in. Life was great where we were! Why would we move?

"It's a better job for your dad,"  was the answer, but it wasn't one I was really satisfied with. I didn't see why he needed to change his job if we were perfectly happy where we were.

Saturday night, Mom and Dad gathered us into the living room. "We're going to fast together tomorrow and ask Heavenly Father if this is what we're supposed to do," they said.

Okay, I thought, If it's what He wants, I'll do it.

But even as I thought those words, I was sure it couldn't possibly be what He wanted.

The next day, we said a prayer as a family to start our fast in the morning. Being ten years old, it was my first time really fasting, but this was a serious matter, so I took it seriously. Even when my younger siblings snacked, I didn't, because I wanted to make sure my parents got the right answer - which, of course, was that we were supposed to stay in Utah.

Finally, the time came to break our fast. We knelt down, and my father offered the prayer. As he said "Amen," I immediately felt my eyes well up with tears.

Heavenly Father wanted us to move.

In that moment, I knew that as surely as I knew my own name.

And I was not happy about it.

But I'd told myself that, if it was what Heavenly Father wanted, I would do it. So I didn't fight it anymore, and instead tried to prepare myself for the change.

15 years later, looking back on that moment, I can see how it changed my life forever. I wouldn't be the person I am today if we'd stayed in Utah, and I don't think my family would be as close as we are. It was hard, but as was said in General Conference, hard is good.

I am grateful that Heavenly Father gave me an answer I didn't want, so that He could give me something better than I had imagined.

Lots of new things this week

So, surprise surprise, I actually didn't move haha, the assistants were confused about where my area was and tried to move us 20 minutes further from it ... we already live outside of our area and struggle with our allotted miles. So I said no haha.   We have two English companionships living with us now, both of them with brand new greenies.  It's been fun so far, but it's weird not having other Spanish sisters in the house! And like I said last week, I'm in the same area.  The sisters living with us are actually in a different zone, so it's weird that we don't have any of our meetings with them. The environment in the house is good - the greenies are really excited to be there so it's a positive atmosphere with excitement. 


I'm sure you want to hear more about Sister Fuimaono! . She's really an amazing woman. She was born in Samoa but has lived in Utah since she was about 9. She's hilarious and also really sweet. She's also really humble and always striving to learn more. And every time I leave the room, I come back to about 15 selfies of her on my phone. She's obsessed with taking pictures haha.     It was a crazy week, but a great one! You've already seen parts of it on Facebook with the story of Joyce - it truly was a miracle, and we've seen so many people being generous and giving us food. It's good because we thought that we would get our cards refilled last week, but it turns out that they won't be refilled until this coming weekend, so we won't be able to buy the things we were planning on. But we have more than enough and don't have anything to worry about. The Lord truly provides for His missionaries, and it's humbling to be on the receiving end of it! 

 In our last two days together, Sister Showalter and I found THREE new investigators, which was exciting! We have a lot of potential in the area to follow up with as well. There's almost too much to do, sometimes I feel very overwhelmed looking at the list of names on my phone and knowing that each is a precious child of God. I want so badly to help them feel His love.   

 We had an investigator that I found my very first week in the mission, last July. Well, she'd moved, but the sisters in Gilbert happened to knock on her door, and she still had the Book of Mormon that Sister Cedeno and I gave her with our testimonies written in it! She kept talking about us as her friends. It was tender to know that she remembered me! 

    Wednesday was the ward's trunk or treat, which was a lot of fun! There were a LOT of people
there, too, including a lot of investigators and less actives, which was great to see! We tried to facilitate fellowshipping without forcing it, and we think everyone had a good time. Be on the look out for new people when you're at activities, ask the missionaries who their investigators are and reach out, and it makes SUCH a difference!!  

 We had two great lessons with an investigator this week. She's truly growing in her faith, and she keeps all of the commitments we give her. She wants to know if it's true. She's also had some really, really awesome experiences in this week with receiving answers to prayers - she had a question, more of a curiosity really, and prayed about it. Immediately afterwards she ended up reading the Plan of Salvation pamphlet we gave her, and on the FIRST PAGE the question was answered. She said she was super surprised! But she also understands that her questions won't always be answered immediately, and she's willing to be patient. I love her!!!  

Biggest news of the week - KARLA GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't know if you remember me writing about her, Sister Hanson and I were teaching her a lot when I first moved down to Queen Creek, and she really wanted to make changes to join the church and come closer to Christ, but was so stressed with life and had a lot of challenges and obstacles in her way. Well, they continued working with her, and they started going to an English ward and she and her two kids who are old enough all got baptized on Saturday!!! It was so humbling to know that I was the smallest part of that, and there were SO many missionaries there because we've all worked with them. Karla was so happy,  I got to perform a musical number as part of the program, which was a privilege for sure.

We're not allowed to be proselyting or on the streets Halloween night so they're putting all the missionaries in the temple.  I'm excited!

 I was really impressed by Alma 45:1 - it talks about how the Nephites gave thanks to the Lord through fasting, which I had never, ever thought about before. Fasting I always thought about as something you do when you want or need something, not to show thanks. I've been reflecting a lot on it and changing the way I think about that act.

Love,
Hermana Garner

We also received some nice words for her new companion Sister Fuimaono

 I am doing great, this week has been awesome. Hermana Garner and I hit it off just great and I love her.  She has talents! I told Hermana Garner that I'm going to do all that I can to make her few last transfers the best! She is an amazing missionary that HAS power, She has been the biggest blessing already! I hope you know how FIRE  her Spanish is. She is awesome. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Tender Mercy 3: Saying Goodbye

I LOVED Activity Days! Aside from being baptized, it was probably the best thing about turning eight. And I LOVED my Activity Days leader (who we'll call Sister Jones). Sister Jones always had the funnest activities planned, and one time we even got to make our own dolls!

Plus, she made really, really good brownies.

Sunday morning, I walked into church just like any other week, immediately making my way to my family's bench (because, yes, we did have our own designated seats, of course). I hugged Sister Jones on the way there and happily sat down next to my mother.

The meeting started - we sang a song I didn't know, someone said a pray I didn't really pay attention to, and then the bishop stood up to give announcements. Suddenly, I heard Sister Jones' name, and looked up to see her standing.

"Sister Jones has been released as Activity Days coordinator."

My jaw fell open. How could they do that?? It was an outrage! I folded my arms across my chest and pouted in a huff.

"I cannot sustain!" I announced to my mom as every raised their hands to the square.

She looked down at me with raised eyebrows, and in a whisper explained that by not raising my hand, I wasn't thanking Sister Jones for everything she'd done. My scowl turned into a frown of regret as I saw that lovely woman sit down, and I looked down at my lap, feeling very sad.

I didn't pay attention to who they called as the new Activity Days Coordinator - I was still incredibly upset. When we got home, I went to sit next to my mother on the couch.

"Mom," I whined, "why would they release Sister Jones? She's awesome!"

"Maybe Sister Johnson will be awesome, too," my mom assured me.

"But why?" I demanded. "It doesn't make any sense! She should keep doing it!"

"Maybe the Lord has something else He needs her to do," my mother explained. "We don't always know why people get called or released, but it's not our decision - it's the Lord's, and we just have to support them as they try to do what He wants."

I was very quiet after that. I hadn't really thought about how callings were decided before, but in that moment it started to sink in that there was more to it than someone being 'awesome' or the bishop deciding something needed to change.

So the next week, I went to Activity Days with a smile.

And yes, Sister Johnson was awesome too. And of course she was - Heavenly Father chose her, after all.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Tender Mercy 2: The Abandoned Dollhouse

A pile of empty cardboard boxes was slowly forming in the living room as the morning drew on. When I was sure that I had enough for my project, I set off to gather glue, scissors, and markers as well.

Why? Because it was time for General Conference again! And that meant that we didn't have to go to church, so I had plenty of time to make the perfect dollhouse I'd been dreaming of while Mom and Dad listened to all those old guys talk on the TV.

When the music started, I hummed along while I set up my supplies, and was soon hyper-focused on my task. This wasn't going to be just any dollhouse. It was going to have at least 6 rooms, and all of them fully furnished! Soon enough, the bedroom on the top left started to take shape, and I excitedly started moving on to the next one -

"All right, kids, it's time to listen to the prophet," my dad announced.

My tongue sticking out of my mouth in concentration, I ignored him, trying to glue down the bed I'd just made in the perfect spot ...

"Tiff-girl," my father's voice sounded again. "Come sit on the couch, the prophet's talking."

I groaned quietly and pouted, but put down my precious project and went to sit next to my mom. I recognized the old man on the screen as President Hinckley, but it was always so hard to understand him. And yet, for some reason my parents always made us stop playing when he talked at General Conference.

As I leaned into my mother and she ran her fingers through my hair, I found myself starting to pay more attention than I had in the past. Maybe I was finally learning how to understand his voice, I'd heard it so much. But even though I didn't entirely understand everything he was saying, all of the sudden I felt a warm feeling come over me, like I was being covered by a blanket.

"He really is the prophet, huh?" I whispered.

"Mhmm," my mom responded quietly.

I sat up a little straighter, setting aside thoughts of what I would do next on my dollhouse, and for the first time really tried to listen to what the prophet was saying. And when he finished speaking, I didn't move, but stayed next to my mother as the next speaker took the pulpit.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Tender Mercy 1: Finding Anastasia

The frantic sound of small, running footsteps down the stairs interrupted the rare quiet of the house. My curls bouncing with every anxious step, I rushed from room to room, my six-year-old face contorted with distress.

"Mommy! MOMMY!"

"What's wrong?" she said, emerging from the study. Her tone was ever patient, and filled with motherly concern for the woes of her child.

Tears began to stream down my face. "I can't find it!"

"You can't find what, Tiffany?"

"My blue dress Anastasia!"

With those words, she knew this was truly an emergency. I had begged and begged for the blue dress Anastasia Barbie doll for Christmas, but Santa was only able to get me the yellow dress Anastasia. A little after Christmas, though, I got the best surprise of my life when another present showed up from Santa with the Barbie I'd wanted all along.

And now, she was missing.

My dear mother knelt on the ground next to her crying child. "All right, when was the last time you saw her?"

"I don't know!" I wailed, about ready to give up. "I've looked everywhere!"

"Have you said a prayer?"

My crying stopped as I looked at her, her question sinking in a little. "No ..."

"Well, I don't know where she is, but Heavenly Father does," she said, brushing my hair back and giving me and encouraging smile. "Let's say a prayer."

I nodded and knelt down next to my mother, mumbling out a simple prayer asking Heavenly Father to help me find this doll that was so precious to me. When I opened my eyes, I looked over at our blanket basket, and suddenly remembered. Rushing over, I threw all the blankets out, and there between them was my blue dress Anastasia.

Quickly, I snatched her up and held her tightly to my chest, relief filling my small frame. "Thank you, Heavenly Father!" I squealed, then rushed back upstairs, smiling from ear to ear.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Cultural Fair

So, I'm not getting transferred, but I'm moving houses, so I'll let you know my new address next week!

Sister Showalter's getting transferred. 

It was a good week, though a little bit slow as far as the work goes. Not a lot of people answered the door and we dropped a lot of potentials. 

    Choir practice was good, but I'm realizing just how much I need to practice leading the songs. It's definitely not a skill I've really learned! But it's a good challenge and I'm having fun with it.  

We had a lot of fun dancing on Friday, even though we didn't do the best job ... but hey, we got to be part of a traditional Mexican dance! The "Fiesta de la Hispanidad" basically turned into "Fiesta de la Hispanidad AND Samoa!" Sister Fuimaono has extended family in the area, and they're teaching them (because not all of them are members). She invited them to come to the cultural night (it's to celebrate all the cultures found in the ward and anyone in the area who wants to participate, they're just mostly hispanic lol) and MAN they put on a show! I'll send a couple videos, it was fantastic! The food was really good, too, We had to leave right at 9, which was sad because it kept going for much longer after that. I want to come back next year and just party all night long with the members :P 

 There are also a lot of community events that happen here, and we volunteer at a lot of them but can never participate really. One of them was this weekend, it was a HUGE Halloween activity that took up most of the nearby shopping center. We just helped set up for it. It looked like it would be so much fun! 

 We met a potential last week who we had an appointment with, but when we stopped by she wasn't there. No one answered the door for the longest time, and we were a bit disappointed, but then her husband FINALLY answered. He apologized for her, and then said, "She said to tell you she's sorry, and to give you this." In his hand he had a small nativity ornament from Mexico. The first time we met her, we bonded over our nativity collections, and she said she was going to give me one of hers. I didn't expect her to in the slightest, but even though she couldn't make the appointment she remembered and had him give it to me! It was so tender, I almost cried! I will treasure it forever. We're hoping we'll be able to see her tonight.

  Other than that, things have been pretty slow here. We're weeding out our potentials list, but not really finding any more. Pray that we'll be led to those the Lord is preparing over this next transfer.  

And I just have one scripture this week that I wrote down to share - Psalms 103:22-21 ...  11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.  12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.


Love,  Hermana Garner

Music Practice, Heavenly Homes, and Dancing With Piñas

Choir practice started this week for the Christmas concert!​ It's been exciting, and nerve-wracking at the same time. I didn't have a pianist, because neither of the ones in my area could make it, so I had to play out parts and direct with my other hand. Which was ... interesting. I'm looking forward to directing more and not having to focus on so many things at once haha.  But it went well overall! We also had a meeting with the narrators for the program to brainstorm a bit, and I used some techniques that I've learned throughout my schooling and teaching to generate ideas. As I was getting everything started, one of the other sisters said, "You should be a drama teacher." I laughed, thinking it was a joke. It turned out she had no idea that I am, in fact, a drama teacher. I guess it was just meant to be :)

  We had an incredibly humbling experience with a member that we met. She goes to an English ward, but she's from Ecuador and Spanish is her first language. Immediately, she welcomed us into her home and served us an impromptu dinner (which was a miracle, because we didn't have dinner that night, and it was GOOD). She lived in a small apartment with her two daughters, and there was furniture packed up the walls. Turns out they had just moved from a big house to that little apartment as a waypoint as they look for a new home. But the moment we stepped into that cramped little apartment, the spirit was overwhelming. That woman truly is celestial. As we visited with her, we learned of all that she's given up for the church - family, friends, even a house - and she is actively sharing the gospel with everyone she meets. Being in her home, I was reminded of Elder Bednar's talk, and I truly felt the same spirit that I feel in the temple. At one point, she said, "Satan has no power here," and it was true. Because of her faithfulness and her choice to be cheerful despite her circumstances, there was no way for the devil to enter that home. I strive to some day have half the faith that she has.  




with Ana Maria
And speaking of celestial homes, we got to go to the Mesa temple!! Normally in this mission we never get to go inside the Mesa temple, but Gilbert was closed for cleaning and our recent convert, Ana Maria, was getting her endowment, so we got special permission. It's beautiful inside, I have a newfound appreciation for it! And it was just wonderful to be in the temple again. We also saw Sister Weyand, who came back for it, which was so fun!  ​

reunited with Sister Weyand
In other news, we're going to be dancing this weekend. Somehow the members convinced us to take part in a traditional Mexican dance from Oaxaca, la baile de la pina, which celebrates the harvest of pineapples. So ... we're dancing with pineapples. It's going to be interesting for sure!​  


​ I was humbled and shocked by a visit that we made to a member. ​ I felt like we needed to show her a video about using technology to spread the gospel. As she was watching it, she started crying, and proceeded to tell us about her grandmother's funeral. In the middle of sharing some thoughts about her grandmother, she wanted to play "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" for those in attendance (the majority not members) and rather than going to LDS.org to find something, she went to facebook - and played the video that I recorded a couple weeks ago, holding her phone up to the microphone. She said that there were many people there who were touched by it, including her brother, who said he felt the spirit stronger than he has in a long time.  As I listened, I couldn't believe that the Lord had used the small prompting I received to record that video to reach people who I've never met all the way in Texas through this one member who saw it. Nothing is a coincidence, as Elder Rasband taught us in conference, and I felt the spirit confirm to me that I was an instrument in His hands in ways that I don't even know. I likely never would have known about her decision to share that video with her family and acquaintances. And it wasn't something that I needed to know - but it was something that strengthened me this week and showed me that yes, my efforts are making a difference, and in ways that I can't even see. 

Love,
Hermana Garner

Monday, October 9, 2017

I've Been Loving the Work!

     
We've fallen out of touch with a number of our investigators, which is saddening, but we're working hard with those that we still have and have seen miracles as we've tried to really have daily contact with them. The scriptures talk a lot about how we need to be continually nourished by the Word of God, and we're trying to help nourish everyone we meet.  

        I've been LOVING the work. As we've gone through our area book (we have to enter all of it into the church's app, which takes forever but will be SO worth it) we've found names and addresses of people that we've since contacted and they now have some potential. Miracles are truly coming from us prayerfully trying to find. 

     We also get to go to the temple this Saturday with Ana Maria to get her endowment, which is going to be amazing!! I'm excited, too, because since Gilbert's closed we get to go to Mesa, so I get to see what the inside's like!   

      There are so many wonderful people here. We got a call from a member in an English ward one night out of the blue asking us if we had dinner or not, and then she invited us over and gave us some great Thai food, and we got to be part of her hula class that she was teaching to some neighborhood girls. Her name is Sister Jarvis, we love her! 

      We've also made a great relationship with a number of families in the area that, though they're not interested in learning more about the gospel right now, they see us as family and we keep inviting them to social activities and things.

      Oh, the BIG thing that's been going on is preparing for the Christmas program. We got everything approved to move forward, ordered the music we didn't already have, and today I'm trying to work on putting them all in folders but realized that the arrangement I picked up from the office isn't the one we're doing ... so I'm going to have to cram it in tomorrow and Wednesday. Rehearsals for the whole choir start on Thursday and we're going to set up rehearsals with the small groups soon as well. I love being able to use my talents to work this way, we're also going to have four narrators that I'm going to have help me decide how to present everything (slightly theatrical, but not really, just telling the story more than just singing pretty songs). I'm excited about it!

    So I'm reading through the Book of psalms right now in my personal study and have been struck by a number of the verses. 27:14 stood out to me especially: "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord." 

  I was also really struck by the JST footnote in Psalms 30:9 - "my soul shall declare thy truth; for what profit am I, if I do it not?" That is a piercing question! Truly, we are not accomplishing our purpose if we are not declaring the truth of the gospel, not just vocally but also in the way we live. We're not just here for ourselves, but to help others!  

    Love,
Sister Garner

Monday, October 2, 2017

I Love General Conference!

  We saw miracles this week with service! We've been trying to just randomly serve people on the street, not just ask if they want help but just go ahead and start helping. It's led to some great, door-opening conversations. We even met a Spanish speaker through it! We're going to try to go back this week. 

  We had our first Facebook lesson! I was really, really skeptical about doing actual lessons over facebook, but it was such a miracle. Our investigator opened up like never before and the spirit was so strong. They then came to conference and had a wonderful experience where they said answers to questions were received. It's amazing to see the power of conference and see people progress!  

  And of course, conference was amazing all around! Just like I challenged everyone else to do, I came to conference with three questions written down. I received direction and answers to ALL of them in the FIRST session, and continued to receive more direction throughout. I know that the talks we hear in conference are inspired, that they're not just meant for the world but for each of us individually, just like the scriptures. And we've been able to share messages from conference IMMEDIATELY with our investigators because of the technology access we now have, which has been such a blessing and really brought about miracles!  

The psalms have brought me comfort this week, particularly psalms 9:9-11, which says, "The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings."   

Conference! (Just highlights, don't worry 😋)  1. Service, service, service! I need to lose myself and focus on others. As a missionary you kind of have no choice but to do that to a certain extent, and I've already been trying to do so, but I felt it more as a warning for when I go home in 6 months, and I felt impressed with a promise - that the only way to find and be sure of my own path is to lose myself in serving others. 

 2. Salvation is individual, exaltation requires family. 💖 

 3. Elder Holland's explanation of the inconceivable gap between the 10,000 talents and the 100 pence touched my heart. The 100 pence is all the Lord asks of us - we CAN and MUST give it. 

 4. Just a quote from Elder Rasband: "Coincidence is not an appropriate word to describe the workings of an omniscient God... The Lord IS in the small details of our lives." 

 5. In many talks they stressed how we can't control our circumstances, but we can control how we react. This was stressed as well in women's conference. I need to be better about this for sure. 

 6. Tad R. Callister's talk was AMAZING and I want everyone to hear it haha 

 7. Elder Andersen - I need to repent of not giving more heed to the conference addresses in the 6 months between conferences. The spirit taught me that there are messages contained that are specifically for me, but not at this moment - but I WILL need them in the next six months. I'm grateful for the new technology I have to help that be more accessible on my mission. 

 8. Elder Hales' words as shared by Elder Andersen: "When we choose to have faith, we are prepared to stand in the presence of God." What an incredible example and final message, as he has shown us his own faith and now taken another step towards that ultimate goal.

Love,
Hermana Garner



She was excited to have crepes because her dad always makes them.



Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Technology!



   Our car broke down ... three days in a row ... we've become really good friends with the guys at the auto shop ... and we now have a new car! 

   The biggest change this week was obviously the addition of technology! It's something I really wasn't sure about at first, especially with social media being brought into it all, but we've already been seeing miracles - some people just open up a lot more on social media than in person. 

having fun with their new phones
Of course, there are also temptations associated with it, and distractions. The Church has a wonderful booklet called "Safeguards for Using Technology" that we're studying, and it's something that can benefit everyone (you can find it in the missionary section of the gospel library app). Sister Showalter and I have also come up with our own companionship "safeguards" to help keep us completely focused on our purpose. There's going to be a big learning curve with this change, but it's something we're all excited about.
In district meeting this week we really focused on talking to everyone, no matter how quickly or how awkward the situation. Well, Sister Showalter and I tried to apply ourselves to that and we saw a HUGE miracle - almost everyone we talked to was Spanish-speaking! That NEVER happens when you're just contacting people on the street, especially in the kinds of neighborhoods we were in. But we definitely felt the Lord blessing our efforts and putting people into our path so we could meet them and hopefully share the gospel with them!

Most of our investigators have hit a bit of a plateau in their progress, so we're praying for them and actively working to find other people to teach as well. A couple of them moved back to Mexico this week, which was sad, but they're going to keep meeting with the missionaries there which is all we could hope for! 

We also helped some investigators work on their homework as service. I ended up working with one of them on graphing quadratic equations. Now, solving quadratic equations I remember and love (and I did a lot when I was tutoring at Huntington) but graphing them ... I think I was more of a hindrance than a help haha.

I can now draft my emails throughout the week, which is awesome, so that's what I'm doing. I'll try not to overwhelm you with information though 😁 

I'm continuing to read through the Old Testament, and I had a profound thought this week. We read so many lists of people and the numbers of their households. But as I read one of those on Thursday, it struck me that those aren't just numbers - their individual people who are loved and cared for by our Heavenly Father. It was humbling to think about how even though we don't have all their names, the Lord knows each and every one. 

Also, in Nehemiah 8:10, I was struck annd comforted by the phrase, "for the joy of the Lord is your strength." We don't often think about not being a strength, per say, but I've definitely seen that in my life. As you all know, joy can be a hard thing for me to feel, but the Lord lends me His, which allows me to move forward.

I was also moved by the story of Esther as I read it yesterday, but particularly the miraculous preservation of Mordecai's life. It's not coincidental that the king couldn't sleep and that what he ended up reading happened to be the record of Mordecai saving his life at the exact moment that Haman came to petition the king to hang him. It was a miracle, and the Lord preserving a righteous servant's life - in great part because of that faith that Mordecai had that he would do so (Esther 4:14). 

Job 3:23 is a great scripture that helps us understand the purpose of trials. Though in this chapter Job is mourning his existence, and the day he was born, he teaches us that trials are necessary. "Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in?" If we're 'hedged in' we cannot learn - we cannot receive light and knowledge. 

Love,
Hermana Garner

Prepare Your Heart


They got messy doing some service this week
This week honestly felt like a month. Soooo much has happened and Sister Showalter and I feel like we're tripping over our own feet trying to keep everything straight and get everything done!  

Our phones are all set up! We'll get the last of the initial training on it this Wednesday, but we're already good to use LDS Tools and other things that I'm SUPER excited about to enhance our missionary work. Sister Showalter and I had a lesson this morning where we were able to use some resources that we don't normally have in order to help our recent convert prepare for the temple. I'm so grateful for modern day technology and that I get to use it in this way, and I want to take and apply the things I'm learning on my mission to my everyday life after the mission!  

We found TWO new investigators this week! One of them is a sophomore in high school and is really interested in learning more about the church. We met her on Tuesday, and when we went back on Thursday she opened the door, and through the screen we could see a book in her hands. Sister Showalter asked, "What are you reading?" trying to strike up friendly conversation, and she said, "Oh, it's the Book of Mormon," completely nonchalantly. That made our day. 

 There's a new sister in our house! Sister Neahusan is from Nevada, and she's in a trio with Sisters Hanson and Fuimaono. She's awesome! She's pretty much already fluent in Spanish, and she's also fluent in German.  She's really funny and witty and I look forward to getting to know her more!  

One of our investigators is doing great,  he's set September 30th as a goal for himself for when he'll stop smoking. We're proud of him and praying for him a lot! He was touched when I told him that you've been praying for him as well. 

 The other sisters' car has been having all sorts of problems - they were almost stranded on Thursday night going to dinner because their car was going to break down. We've had to rescue them a few different times this week, including right when we started emailing today - they called because their car wouldn't start and they were stranded with all their groceries in the Wal Mart parking lot. So that's been an adventure! But at least our car's not having problems now so we're able to help! 

 I've been learning a lot about hope this week and how to continually have hope in our lives. Moments of despair are going to come, but they're just moments. They will always pass. In the moment, it's often hard to look past it, but if you just take a breath, take a nap (if you're not a missionary, lol), you'll be refreshed and it won't seem like such a big deal. It's not something that's easy for me, but it is something I'm learning. Happiness really is a choice! 

A few quotes from Ward Conference yesterday. It was a really impactful Sunday for me, I felt the
with Brother Mitchel 
Spirit so strong and feel like I better know what the prophets are talking about when they tell us to "feast upon the words of Christ" and to "hunger and thirst after righteousness."   ​The Stake President said a few things that stood out to me - "The Church and Kingdom of God will go forth with or without you" and "Let us not live below the privileges." In other words, ​you choose whether or not to be a part of this work and enjoy the resulting blessings. It's entirely up to you.  And then, Brother Mitchell said a few things that really stood out to me (well, more than a few, but I couldn't record his lesson haha). The quotes I wrote down were, "The power of the priesthood is the power to organize - to create" and "When your heart teaches you things that your mind doesn't know, listen to your heart." talking about his testimony and how he puts aside his doubts in favor of what the spirit has told him is true. He's really a great example, it was such a privilege to be in his class!

The one scripture I wanted to share this week was Ezra 7:10. It's a perfect example of how we qualify and sanctify ourselves. Ezra 1) studied, 2) applied what he learned in action, and 3) shared the gospel. But before any of that, he "prepared his heart," which meant that he was willing and ready to receive the counsel of the Lord in humility. He was open to the spirit, and it was because of that that he was able to qualify for the spirit and to be a servant of the Lord.

Love,
Hermana Garner

Sunday, September 17, 2017


This link is a pretty funny video of Hermana Garner doing the "Untalent Show", she got second place and won a rubber pig nose!


It's been a good week! We're all kind of on edge right now though because everything with transfers is still completely up in the air. We have TWO new Spanish sisters, and President also wants to do zebra companionships (one Spanish sister, one English sister together covering a Spanish area and an English area) so there are too many factors to call it. I don't know where I'll be this week then haha but just go ahead and send letters to my current address, if I move the other sisters will get it to me.


I know I say this almost every week, but I don't know what happened to this week. Time is going by so fast.

We roasted marshmallows in our backyard (we have a firepit) and Sister Norgrant had the brilliant idea to put the marshmallows between oreos instead of graham crackers with chocolate.
They were AMAZING. It was also just super fun :)
I've definitely felt myself humbled this week and felt the Spirit prompting me to be a more and more dedicated servant, to increase my own testimony so I can help others. And my testimony truly is increasing. It's a wonderful experience. People think of change and repentance as something painful, but it's wonderful and joyful when it's done with pure intent.

We were antied by a couple people on Tuesday. One of them insisted that we don't believe in Jesus Christ ... I repeated the full name of the church, and he said, "No, no, no, you're Mormons." So ... that made no sense. But we just testified to him and left. Sometimes that's all you can do.


We had a great lesson that night though with some investigators! I don't know if I've talked about them at all in previous emails, but their son is a less active and they've been investigating on and off for a long time. We read 3 Nephi 11 with them and talked about the role of baptism, and why we're talking about it if they've already been baptized in other churches. Christ Himself speaks of giving authority to them and of them baptizing in ONLY the way that He teaches in this chapter, and that seemed to hit them. Sister Showalter had invited them to be baptized before (three times, actually) and they'd said no, but as we were talking I felt very strongly that I needed to invite them again. So I first invited them to pray to know if our church had the authority, and they said they would. Then I said, "And when you receive your answer that it is true, that the priesthood has been restored in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through Joseph Smith, will you be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?" They were both really quiet, but they nodded their heads. Hna Showalter was thrilled when we got back to the car, because it wasn't a flat out 'no.' We feel like theyr'e opening up and beginning to understand the gospel.

We've seen an amazing change in Jimmy this week. He has more hope and is really beginning to rely on the atonement to help him change. It's amazing and humbling to see him allowing more light into his life.

We also found a new investigator this week! He has a lot of questions and we're excited to get to teach him.

Saturday night was stressful - we were about to go out and try to visit some people when we got a somewhat panicked call from asking us to come help her fill out some papers. She got a new job that's going to pay better, so we were more than happy to do it (they were all in English, so she needed someone to help translate). Well, we got there, and it at first was the standard job forms that are easy ... and then we had to fill out tax forms. TAX forms. First of all, we had to read and understand them in English, and then we had to TRANSLATE them. My head hurt so much by the end of the night, it was definitely slow going! We were able to help her, but we still have to finish it tonight (there's a whole handbook she's supposed to read, and they didn't have a copy available in Spanish so we're translating it all to her ... I'm realizing how limited my Spanish vocabulary is.)

I've been repenting of not studying enough from Preach My Gospel. One thing that stuck out to me this week was that I need to pray less for the Lord to give us guidance and more to recognize that guidance, that I can be sensitive to the Spirit and follow His will.

 There was a verse that really stood out to me in this study - Isaiah 58:13-14, which has some great counsel and promises related to the Sabbath Day: "If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."

Also, I love the Old Testament. If I tried to share everything I've been learning from it I'd never end my emailing time haha, so I'll just exhort you all to study it :)

Love,
Hermana Garner

Monday, September 4, 2017

It's Been a Really Amazing Week!


 I can feel my heart changing more and more as I continue in the Lord's service, and am truly humbled that I have the privilege and opportunity to be here serving Him. 

The highlight of the week was definitely Elder Andersen's visit. It's always special to be in the presence of an apostle of the Lord, and I was reminded of President Wheeler's admonition last zone conference that, "Every time you're in the presence of an apostle, if it doesn't change you, it's your fault." So I went there with the intention to change and striving to have a humble heart and follow the counsel he was going to give us. He talked a lot about having the faith to find, and about how faith is a real power that can cause things that normally wouldn't happen to happen. He told us we needed to raise our expectations, especially in a place where people are already so familiar with the church and generally have a lot of friends and family who are members. It was very inspiring, and he gave us a few ideas about what to do to increase our finding.

 At the end of the meeting, he focused on how we can have a bedrock foundation in Christ, and about how if we have that bedrock foundation - if we really believe and know that Christ is our Savior, the Son of God - that we will never fall from the church. He made us a lot of promises relating to that, and told us to take a few steps to strengthen our testimonies not just for our missions but for the rest of our lives. They're steps I would like to invite you to take as well. 

1) Take some time to sit down and write what you really believe about Christ. Not what's always been taught to you, not the rote answers, not just quotes from the scriptures and apostles. What you really believe. When I did this exercise, I started with, "I believe that Christ is my elder brother," and went on from there. Before writing down each item, I paused and thought, "Do I really believe that?" And each and every time, I felt the spirit confirm to me once again that it's all true. It was an amazing experience. 

2) Read the New Testament, and constantly ask yourself, "Do I believe Christ did this? Do I believe He said this?" 

3) Search for scriptures that are the essence of your testimony, scriptures that cause you to feel the spirit testify of their veracity each time you read them. Elder Andersen invited us to choose ten from the New Testament and ten from the Book of Mormon, and then to memorize them, so that we could always have them in our minds and call upon them at a moments notice to share with other people and to support ourselves in moments of doubt. That's a lot of scriptures to memorize, so my invitation to you is to choose three from the New Testament and three from the Book of Mormon. He promised us that as we did these things we would never fall away, we would have more opportunities to share the gospel, and we would be happier in our lives and gain more and more knowledge of the gospel. 

 The testimony he shared at the end of the meeting was especially powerful. He said, "I never thought I'd have the opportunity to look beyond the veil." As much as this statement brought the spirit and filled us with some awe, what he said next was even more powerful to me: "I didn't think I needed that to stay faithful." The reason he and the other prophets and apostles throughout the dispensations have been granted the privilege to look through the veil is because of the greatness of their faith, and that they didn't need to see through the veil to believe and know it was true. And we don't either. I can know it's true with certainty without that great privilege, and know that one day all things will be revealed and we will have the opportunity to see our Savior face-to-face. 

So now for how we've tried to apply the things we've learned this week. We've had a lot of service opportunities with members and non-members (Sister Showalter was praying for service all week). Friday was the biggest one - we were in the middle of weekly planning and one of the other companionships announced in a bit of a panic that they had a part-member family who needed help moving - they had to be out of the house by 7:00PM that night, and only had the moving truck until 5:00. It was noon. So we finished up our planning and got there as soon as we could.  Sister Showalter and I somehow ended up in charge of packing up the master bedroom, We were happy we were able to serve, we were able to be the Lord's instruments in helping His children who were overwhelmed and stressed. 

while tracking they came upon a
star wars themed party
We haven't been able to get in touch with a lot of our investigators, but we've been working really hard with Jimmy. We saw him almost every day this week. He's really struggling, and is feeling discouraged about his smoking and unsure of whether or not he can actually do it. Every time we talk to him he feels a little better, and motivated to continue, but it's been really, really hard for him. We're praying for him a lot and doing what we can.  Just keep him in your prayers - he's earnestly striving to change his life.

 As a side note, I'm starting to work on the Christmas concert, which is exciting and fun. I'm really enjoying the opportunity to use my musical and directorial talents to bring the spirit and bless lives.

D&C 18:13 - speaking of the Savior, it says, "And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!" It hit me so much just how much the Lord rejoices when we turn to Him and leave behind the sorrow of sin. I feel that too as a missionary when I see people changing their lives. The Savior has so much love for us, and this work is so important to Him!

Love,
Hermana Garner