Monday, March 30, 2015

                        Sister Moreland likes to draw comics about missionary life.  Here is a sample:

                                                                                 Doing Service
                                                                              Haha, Potato!
                                                              Baptism of Natayla and Joanne
Hello everybody!

Well I definitely had a humbling experience at the very beginning of the week. On Monday night, we had a baptismal interview with Joanne and Natayla, and I was honestly pretty worried. I think I really forgot that the Lord is the one who prepares people for baptism, not me and Sister Leasi. And she had had a pretty miraculous experience the day before that confirmed to her that this was all true, and that she was heading in the right direction.  It was really a testimony to me just how in charge God is. He knows what He is doing, and I shouldn't try and interfere with that.  It definitely put me in my place!  But it was very exciting to be a part of their journey to the waters of baptism.  They had a death in the family just a day after the interview, I think the Adversary was really trying to test their faith, but they pulled through the hard time and made it to the gate called baptism. 

 They had asked me to speak on baptism and S. Leasi to speak on the gift of the Holy Ghost. A few hours before the baptism on Saturday, Sister Leasi and I are driving around going to our usual Saturday morning correlation meetings when we suddenly receive a text message. It was from President Brinkerhoff. "Sisters, what time and where will your baptism take place this afternoon?"  My heart stopped.  Oh man. President and Sister Brinkerhoff were coming to our baptism.  We texted him back the time and place of the baptism (a little reluctantly, I hate to say).  We arrived at the baptism early to make preparations and such, and our nerves were quite on edge.  But when the baptism started, we looked around, and no President or Sister Brinkerhoff. *Whew!* I don't know why it feels so nerve-wracking to have the President come to your baptism, but it just is.  You want to make sure everything goes perfectly.  And sometimes at a baptism, not everything goes totally smooth. 

 Anyway, I got up and began my talk on baptism.  I based a large part of my talk on Elder Bednar's talk "Ye Must Be Born Again" where he compares conversion to the process by which a cucumber becomes a pickle.  Everyone was quite puzzled when I brought out a giant pickle jar and a cucumber, but it made a lot more sense once I started comparing it to baptism and life-long conversion. About halfway through my talk, guess who snuck in through the back? Yep. The President and his wife.  Well I finished my talk and all went well.  Both Natayla and Joanne were baptized and everything went as planned. The President and his wife talk to us afterwards, congratulated us, gave us a few suggestions on the baptismal service, etc.  It was a good day. 

DawnRae is preparing for baptism this Easter Sunday! What a great way to celebrate the Resurrection of the Savior--with a baptism! :D She is still going strong with the quitting and is getting excited for the big day.  We are making plans and such and everyone is really excited.  Can't wait for this week and all that it will bring!

Love you all so much!
God Bless,
Sister Moreland

Monday, March 23, 2015

                                     Relief Society Birthday Party with Natalya and her Grandma!
                                                  Teaching Plan of Salvation with the Primary President

Dear Family,

Had kind of a crazy week. We are preparing for a baptism this weekend...honestly not sure whether it's going to be one or two people being baptized...I'm unsure of how the baptismal interview will turn out. We will see. But I know that God prepares his children on His own time and on their own time.  Our time really isn't important in the larger scheme of things.  

Exciting news for Dawn. She is quitting! Like it is for real this time.  She went from a pack a day (20 cigarettes) to 6 cigarettes in 3 days.  That is incredible. Today is her quit day, so please pray for her.  We have a baptism scheduled for her on April 6th! I am ecstatic. She's been waiting for this for so long.  Her family will be bountifully blessed, I know.

There's a lot that goes on within ourselves, I think, when we are repenting and really trying to change.  We can think that we are changed or that we are better people than we used to be, only to be smacked upside the head and feel like we're right back on square one again. Oh well.  I won't stop trying to change myself until I never turn back. I want this mission to so extremely change who I am that there is no way I can ever be the same person again.  I want it to change me from the inside out.  I want people to be able to see it.  I want to be able to keep the things that I have learned with me for the rest of my life.  I will never stop putting myself through the fire of purification until I can look in the mirror and see the savior staring back at me. That is my goal. That is my will--to align it with God's.

Sorry this is a short one this week. We've got a lot to do today.  Shoot me an email! Let me know what you're up to!! I love hearing from you all :)

God Bless you all,
Sister Moreland

Monday, March 16, 2015

                                                                               Zone Luau

                                                       The Polynesian dancers (sort of!)
                                                               Aiden's Baptism
My Beloved Ones,

Oh, my goodness, what did we even do this week? I don't really even know. The weeks are all just sort of blurring together. I'll try my best.

We taught a new member lesson to Joe and Daisy. Their kids were not present, unfortunately, but it was a great overview of the restoration and a good refresher for them. It was also great for us to see how much they really understand about the restoration of the gospel. We had this lesson at the Bishop's house, and the Bishop gave them tickets to general conference.  I am extremely jealous.  But they are SO excited to be able to go and see the prophet speak! Yayy! 

Zone meeting on Tuesday was very powerful.  Our Zone Leader Elder Jordan gave a very powerful training on giving everything to Christ. He gave a really great quote from C.S. Lewis, but I just asked him for it and he doesn't have it. But it was something about not just giving Christ a branch here and there from off your "tree", but giving Him the whole tree. It struck me pretty deep, and I'm really trying this week to focus everything I have to why I am here, and being willing to give up all I am for His cause.  
Remember the very first baptism I had in the area? Ethan and Emily? They moved this weekend :( luckily, they're not too far from the family history center that we email and do records in, so I'm sure we'll see them around. We helped them move this week, and that was fun. 
So we've been teaching this little boy named Aiden the lessons even though he's only 8.  He only gets to go to primary every other week because the other week he's with his dad, who doesn't take him to church. So it was really nice to be able to get to know his family and really teach him the discussions.  I honestly think it's a good idea to do that with all 8-year-olds, just to make sure they really know the gospel and understand the commitment they are making when they get baptized. So he got baptized this Saturday, and it was neat to go to that.

On Saturday, we had a Luau! It was a missionary activity for our entire zone. All of the missionaries in our zone invited all of our investigators and less active members to come to this huge Luau and enjoy island food and a performance by we, the missionaries!  Unfortunately, even with all of our inviting and encouraging people to come, we had 0 people from our area show up. Bleh. But it was still fun.  We did a couple different dances; the Elders did the Haka, which is a New Zealand Maori dance (led by our own Elder Teokoti from New Zealand) the sisters did a Hula dance, and all of us together did a Samoan Sasa.  There were a couple other solo numbers done by some of the other Polynesian missionaries in our zone and from other zones.  It turned out really good, and it was fun to perform. 
On Sunday, we took  Natayla and her grandparents to the temple visitor's center! We love taking people to the VC, it's always a very spiritual experience.  

Alsooooo....I found my package!!!! Thank you, Chase, you are the best!! :D

I love you all so much and hope you are having a wonderful week. Please pray for Natayla and Joanne, who are striving towards baptism but are struggling to gain testimonies of the Book of Mormon. 

God Bless,
Sister Moreland

Monday, March 9, 2015


So, I haven't been keeping up with my journal writing at all. Which is making it really hard to do emails because I can't really remember what all we did this week...but I'll try my best.

We've been focusing a lot on Natayla, our baptismal date.  In order to preserve privacy, I usually change the spelling or change slightly the names of people...and by now I'm pretty sure I've used like 3 different names for Natayla so now I can't keep track haha.  But she is doing really well; reading the scriptures that we assign her, having family prayer....her grandparents, whom she lives with, are progressing right along with her.  We went over to their house on my birthday and they made us dinner.  They made this sweet chili which was delicious, and Natayla made me a birthday cheesecake! :D They are so sweet.  Then we had a lesson on the word of wisdom. Her Grandpa, who is a less active member, really had some concerns about the word of wisdom, but hopefully his struggles won't affect Natayla's commitment to follow the prophet's counsel.  Her grandma is quite an example of the fact that we really shouldn't judge who will and will not accept the gospel. At first she seemed as though she would never accept any kind of religion into her life.  But she now goes to church more than Natayla and Dan.  And although she is blunt and sarcastic about many things we teach, she follows right along with us, highlighting scriptures as she goes.  We are all seeing a really incredible change in her, even her family is surprised.  The baptismal date is for March 28th, and we can't wait! 

Now that Joe is baptized, we've been making arrangements to set up new member lessons with other families in the ward.  Hopefully that will be a success! 

uhhhh, man, that is really all I can think of.  Not a whole lot of exciting or unusual things happened this week.  I received a couple packages this week for my birthday. Thank you to all who wished me a happy birthday and who sent me things! You guys are so sweet and make me feel so loved! I hope you are all always praying for opportunities to share the gospel in your own lives. As Preach My Gospel says, "You are surrounded by people.  You pass them on the street, visit them in their homes, and travel among them. All of them are children of God, your brothers and sisters.  God loves them just as He loves you. Many of these people are searching for purpose..."  We all have so many opportunities to help others feel the spirit of God.  I hope you will search for an act upon opportunities to do so. 
Oh! and I forgot something. We had zone conference this week! That was fun. And very inspiring. We have some amazing missionaries in our mission, and some of them gave really good talks.  

Love you all so much!
God Bless,
Sister Moreland

Monday, March 2, 2015

 I FLIPPED OUT at the Lion King watch.I've been wearing it all week. I love it. Best birthday present ever.
                                                                All my Lion King stuff!
     I LOVED the card, that was so thoughtful of everyone!! Made me tear up a bit to see everyone in the family sending their love.
                                                   The fields are alive, with the Sound of Music!
                                                                   ...or is it about to be...
                                                  Auntie Em, Auntie Em, it's a twister, it's a twister
                                                               Joe's Family at his Baptism

                                                                             Joe's Baptism
                                                           "Make your own birthday cake!"

Man. Long week.

 We were excitedly preparing for Joe's baptism this week, so we saw them a lot this week.  After Elder Cox interviewed him for baptism on Monday night, Elder Cox said that he was one of the most prepared people he'd ever interviewed for baptism, and congratulated us for teaching clearly and helping him get prepared.  After all the hard work we do, it was really nice to hear that.  But it's not us, really. Joe had such a strong desire to search for what he was missing in his life.  He knew that he wanted an eternal family, and through prayer and scripture study, the spirit testified to him that this was the way to get it. 

Wednesday was rough. But your birthday package came just in time! On Thursday morning, I got the package, and my week was immediately made.  Thank you so much to all of my family members who included their bit! I love you guys so much!! 

On Friday, we had one of the most welcoming dinner appointments ever.  This Sister in the ward has a daughter out serving a mission, so she really took care of us.  She was telling us that her daughter experiences some of the same trials that we do, even when serving on the other side of the country in Mississippi.
  One of those things in common is really trying to encourage the members to make sure the welcome in the new converts with welcome arms. 

 So just a little pep talk for my family and friends back home: Gordon B Hinkley said in a talk that he received a letter from a recent convert about her experience with becoming a member of the church. "My journey into the Church was unique and quite challenging. This past year has been the hardest year that I have ever lived in my life.  It has also been the most rewarding..." She goes on to say that when she joined the Church she did not feel support from the leadership in the ward. "Church members don't know what it is like to be a new member..." President Hinkley said to his listeners "I challenge you, my brothers and sisters, that if you do not know what it is like, you try to imagine what it is like.  It can be terribly lonely.  It can be disappointing. It can be frightening. We of this Church are far more different form the world than we are prone to think we are." The recent convert woman says in her letter "When we as investigators become members of the Church, we are surprised to discover that we have entered into a completely foreign world, a world that has its own traditions,culture, and language...At first the trip is exciting, our mistakes even amusing, then it becomes frustrating and eventually, the frustration turns into anger.  And it's at these stages of frustration and anger that we leave.  We go back to the world from which we came, where we knew who we were, where we contributed, and where we could speak the language."

President Hinkley eventually goes on in his talk to explain that every new member of the church needs three things:  nourishment by the Word of God, a calling, and (maybe even most importantly), a friend.  Please be that friend to new converts.  Please let them feel the support and welcome that they so desperately need. There are too many people that get baptized and fall away from the church shortly there after.  It is so extremely sad to us as missionaries when we see someone feel the spirit, progress in the gospel, and get baptized, only to feel lost and alone in this new, foreign world without the love and support from individuals in the ward, and eventually fall away.  Please help us in this effort. Missionaries will be transferred away, so we can't continue that support system on our own. But as the members, you will stay in the area, in that ward. You can be the friend that these investigators and new converts need.  

Okay. That's the end of my soapbox.

What a wonderful experience Joe's baptism on Saturday was! Thank you, mom, for sending me the talk and telling me about the ensign article, I used both of those for my talk on Baptism! I made little cut-outs and everything, I think it went pretty well! It was wonderful to hear Joe and Daisy bear testimony of the truth they have come to discover. 

Well that's all I can think of for this week! Love you all sooooo much!!!

God Bless!
Sister Moreland