Sunday, June 19, 2016

Counting on Change

June 13, 2006

Hey, y'alls.  This email's probably going to be kind of short because we are in a hurry to get to the beach party.

On Tuesday night, I got to meet a woman named Kate and her daughters.  Sister Anderson has been teaching her for awhile.  She wants to be baptized into our church, but her husband is against it and she has a teaching commitment with her current church.  She is amazing and has two beautiful daughters that I also got to meet.  She is really good friends with a member who lives only a few houses down. :)

On Wednesday, we went to see a guy that we had talked to last week.  He was standing outside when we walked up and waved at us and said he had not had time to read the Book of Mormon.  We invited him to church and he wanted to come, but needed a ride.  Sister Anderson remembered a member who lives in the neighborhood and called him up.  He said he could give him a ride and that we could come over and introduce him right then.  It was so awesome!  We didn't see him at church, but I think he'll remember the kindness of that man.  Later he called us and said he had started reading and asked us a question that he had. :)

Then on Thursday, it was so awesome!  We visited Angelina and invited her to be baptized!  She wants to be baptized and she thinks her husband and two oldest daughters will want to as well.  I love that family so much.  Unfortunately, we will not be able to teach them anymore :(  Because…

On Sunday we had a huge meeting with almost all of the wards in the Brandon stake and ward boundaries were changed.  They dissolved a ward and created two new wards, the Providence and Lithia wards…can you guess which one we are in? :)  We got a call from the Assistant to the President that night that we will be in the new Lithia ward.  We will be losing a lot of our investigators, which is really sad, but Sister Anderson says we can still go to Angelina's baptism because her ward will meet in the same building as us.  We were able to introduce her to some members yesterday, so I'm sure they'll take care of her :)  Brother and Sister Murga speak Spanish, so we brought them to a Spanish lesson yesterday on Angelina's street.  It was really good to have them there and they are amazing.

Last night we were a little confused about what we should do, because we had changed our original plans to be able to teach people and some of them had canceled on us.  It didn't make sense to go back to our original plans because they were far away.  So we prayed, and we felt that we first should go to a neighborhood that we had planned to go to the day before but hadn't had time to.  After that, we felt we should go see a few people that we had talked to in another neighborhood.  We only had time to see one person, but he was there!  He is a teenage boy named Tyrell.  The first time we saw him, we gave him a Book of Mormon.  While we were talking to him, his mom called him.  He said, "I'm gettin' a Jesus book, mother!"  Haha, we thought that was funny.  Anyway, this time, he got off the phone to talk to us.  We had a great lesson and were able to tell him that he can go on lds.org and listen to the scriptures if he finds it hard to read them.  We invited him to come to church as well.  He even said a prayer with us!

Sister Anderson said something that she realized early on in her mission that pretty much sums up my mission so far.  "The only constant in my life is Jesus, my pillow, and change."  Every week, I have had a crazy change.  It has almost been like a transfer every week.  But it is so good.  I know that it is God's will.  The ward boundaries changing will be hard, but it means that the church has grown a lot in this area.

Anyway, it has been a good week.  God is good.  Off we go to the beach party!
--
Sister Porter

P.S.  The tropical storm was just a lot of rain, thunder, and lightning.  The sky turned a dark purple that night which was really weird.  Other than that, not too bad.
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Pictures:
 
We went to Dunks last week to get quarters to vacuum the car.  At least that was our excuse :)
 

 

Our Trio's Down to Two

June 6, 2016
 
Hello, all!  So on Wednesday we found out that Sister Meagher was getting transferred to Citrus Ridge, near Orlando.  Other sisters who haved served there say you can see the Disney fireworks every night :)  We were sad to see her go, though.  We went out for frozen yogurt that night, but she actually ended up being able to stay until Friday.  On Tuesday and Friday we taught an investigator named Nicole in McDonald's.  She is awesome.  Unfortunately she usually works on Sundays and hasn't been to church yet.

Friday was pretty crazy.  We packed up Sister Meagher and had to go get a bike rack from the Valrico elders because the Riverview elders apparently do not have a car anymore and we inherited Sister Alder's broken bike rack when she transferred and needed one.  We taught Nicole with a member, and then had to rush off to meet Sister Meagher's new companion at the mission office.  Because Sister Anderson and the other Sister Training Leader had a Mission Leadership Conference, we did an exchange so I was with Sister Lance who serves in the YSA ward.  We walked around the USF (University of South Florida) all day and talked to people.  It was really fun and it is a really beautiful campus!  We also did a Skype lesson with a recent convert who had moved back to Peru.  The meeting got out pretty late, so we didn't get home until around 10:30 that night.

This week we met a really nice woman with 5 daughters ages 11, 8, 4, 2, and 3 months.  (We haven't met the baby yet!)  They want to come to church next week!  They don't have a car, but they might be able to borrow one from the grandma or we can try to find them a ride.  That could be hard because they are such a big family!  The husband and son may come as well.  Nobody that we invited to church this week was able to make it, though.  At church yesterday, I met a woman who I thought would really get along with the mom and I told Sister Anderson.  She said she had been thinking the same thing!  So we invited her to come visit her with us tomorrow.

We actually taught a few lessons in Spanish this week!  Sister Anderson knows it pretty well, so I didn't say much.  When I tried, it was really hard.  We are going to get some members who speak Spanish to come with us next time.  People are really nice here.  One woman invited us onto her porch and gave us glasses of cold water.

We also had a cool experience on Saturday.  We started tracting and then Sister Anderson said, "I feel like there's somewhere else we should be."  So we decided to move on to the next place we had planned to go to.  As we got to our car, we met a young man walking a dog.  We stopped and he said his family was going through a hard time, so we said a prayer with him.  As Sister Anderson was saying the prayer, I thought that I should teach him about the Book of Mormon, so I did.  I knew it could bring him peace in this hard time.  He wanted to read it, and even said he would come to church!  Sister Anderson said she had never seen someone so receptive in Fishhawk before.  Fishhawk is a rich neighborhood, and I guess most people there aren't interested in learning about our church.

Last night we went to a graduation/going away party for a young woman in the ward.  It was fun, there was good food, and we were able to talk to several people.  We also found out there is a tropical storm coming our way, and our beach party that was supposed to happen today was postponed until next week.  I'm excited, we are going to have a sand castle making competition!  Anyway, it's been a good week and I hope you all are doing well. :)

--
Sister Porter
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Pictures:

The first two pictures are us eating frozen yogurt :)  Then there is the three of us at the mission office, and us with Sister Meagher's new companion in the last picture.





Saturday, June 4, 2016

Goodbye, Valrico…Hello, Riverview!

Hello, all!  So on Tuesday night, we got a call from the mission president…our area was going to close!  Sister Alder got transferred and I moved in with the sisters in a neighboring area.  It was sad and a little bit stressful, but I love it here, too, so it's okay :)  I'm in a trio now; my new companions are Sister Anderson and Sister Meagher.  My new address is 13948 Circa Crossing Dr. #107, Lithia, FL 33547.

Last Monday we got an email that we have a mission beach party next Monday!  I'm really excited :)  Sister Alder and I went shopping for shorts because we didn't have any.  I found some nice capris that fit on sale for $5!  Then when I checked out, I saw some chocolate bars and figured since the pants were so cheap, I would toss one on the counter.  When the cashier rang it up, I regretted it…the chocolate bar cost more than the pants! ($7)  Oh, well.  We then went out to Jeremiah's, a really good ice cream/Italian ice place and a Chinese restaurant.

We had a district meeting on Tuesday morning, and since Sister Alder was a sister training leader, she had to go to another district meeting with the other sister training leader (now my companion), so I was on splits with her companion (also now my companion).  Since Sister Meagher doesn't have a license, I had to drive to the church for the meeting.  I was nervous but it was okay.  What's really ironic is that when I got to Riverview, the sisters had decided that I should be the designated driver and had already asked the Assistants to the President to make the change.  I guess they thought it would allow Sister Anderson to work in the backseat and me to get to know that area more quickly.  So I've been driving all around our area since then…except Saturday :)  But I'll talk about that later.  Driving is scary, but it's good to practice and I've only been honked at a few times…lol.

So Tuesday night we found out about the craziness of a surprise transfer.  On Wednesday we packed and decided to go out to dinner as a "last night" celebration.  We went to Panera!  I used to love that restaurant when we were in Massachusetts, but they don't have it in Utah.  So that was exciting.  Then we went out for ice cream at Coldstone's.  I  got Oreo Cream Filling flavor with gummy bears in it…SO GOOD!  Anyway.  Then we went to the bishop's house to teach the Activity Day Girls (8-11 years old) about the sacrament.  They were making bread for the sacrament on Sunday :)

So Thursday I moved.  Then we rode out on our bikes.  That was the first time I got to ride my bike on my mission.  It was okay but I need a clip for my skirt and haven't found one yet.  I had to keep pulling my skirt down and I fell really behind the other sisters.  We work hard and are always knocking on doors and hurrying around.  It's crazy, but good!  I love meeting a lot of different people and sharing our beliefs even when they're not really interested.  Sister Anderson has taught me that we need to talk to every single person we can, and that we need to smile and wave because we may be the only thing someone sees about the church.  Smiling is hard, especially when you've been walking around for hours!  I'm definitely getting a little tan, haha.

So Saturday.  We headed out on our bikes after study and lunch.  We rode for awhile and then turned onto a road with no sidewalks.  There wasn't really a good place to ride, so we just rode in the grass and dirt on the side of the road.  No problem, right?  No, actually, it was sand.  I tried to stay away from it, but I hit it and totally fell and hurt my ankle.  I called for my companions but they were ahead and didn't hear me.  Fortunately, there were some people nearby who saw and came to help me.  They were so nice, they pulled up a truck for me to sit on, got me water and paper towels to wipe myself off and offered to call someone, but I didn't know our phone number.  Pretty soon the sisters realized I was gone and came back.  We got a ride home in the truck with our bikes in the back.  I was so grateful for their help.  My ankle is fine, but I was limping around for awhile.  We were out working again almost immediately, which was hard, but Sister Anderson drove.  It is red and swollen but doesn't hurt anymore.  Other than a few scrapes and bruises, nothing else happened and it could have been a lot worse.  I'm glad I can walk normally again :)

Anyway, it has been hard but so, so great.  My apartment is really nice and my companions make good food :)  It is a bigger area so there is more to do.  Sister Anderson has leadership training on Friday so Sister Meagher and I are going to get to serve on USF campus with the YSA sister whose companion is also a Sister Training Leader.  I probably won't have a lot of time to email on Monday since we have to be at the beach at 2,  but I'll try.  I love and miss you all!

Sister Porter
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Pictures:
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Here are some pictures that Sister Alder sent me of us.  The first is of us at the Gladys Knight event, and the second is us when we first met. :)


--
Sister Porter




Here are some pictures of us at the transfer at our apartment.  The last one is me with my new companions.  Sister Anderson is on the left and Sister Meagher is in the middle. :)

--
Sister Porter



Week 3 at MTC and Week 1 in Valrico

Hello, all!  Sorry I didn't get to email last week.  It was really hard not to, but we were flying out on our P-day and when we asked they said not to email the day before. :(  It feels like FOREVER since I've emailed!

Anyway, I am now in Valrico, Florida with my new companion and trainer, Sister Alder!  Florida is great.  The heat and humidity isn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I love the sun and the palm trees everywhere.  There are lizards all over the place, and small bodies of water everywhere.  I haven't seen an alligator yet, though... :P  It hasn't rained that much, but there was a torrential downpour my first night here while we were at the mission home.  We stayed overnight in a hotel the first night, and then the Assistants to the President gave us a crazy hard workout that first morning.  We got some last minute training and then we were off!  I can't use my iPad yet because I had to do some training and now I have to wait to get approved.  So Sister Alder has to do all the iPad stuff by herself :)  Sister Alder is super great.  She's from Arizona.  She likes musicals and singing in choir like me.  She's funny, too.  Last night I was talking about how it feels like it's been forever since I emailed, and she said, "Your mission is like a roll of toilet paper.  As you get to the end, it goes faster."  Haha :)  She's only been out since February though, so she has just finished her own training!

Okay, so I should probably go back and talk about the last week at the MTC.  We got the 2 new districts in our zone and they were awesome.  I saw a girl from my ward in Rexburg, Sister Wellard who is going to Japan.  I also saw a friend from From the Heart, Sister Parker!  Our district had a lot of great times together.  Sister Jensen and I had some good experiences with our new investigators, Josh and Janie.  They both prayed with us!  It is really powerful when someone prays, especially when it may be their first time.

On the morning of Tuesday, May 17, I woke up at 2:30 am and got ready to board the bus for the airport!  I got to call my family for a little bit after we got through security.  We went first to Atlanta.  It was funny how people would recognize us and say hi :)  One security guard came up to us.  "Elders and Sisters!  Where are you headed?  There's a guy around here who buys food for missionaries when he sees them, so stick around if you can!"  When we got to Tampa, we were met by the mission president, his wife, and his assistants.  We drove to the mission home and had some training and a great dinner :)  The next day we got assigned our companions and went to our areas.  Valrico is a nice place and there are a lot of communities within communities, if that makes sense.  We have a car (apparently it is named Legion), and the elders dropped off my bike that night because our bike rack is broken.  We never bike, though.  It is just a whole lot of walking :)  The first couple days, my feet and legs killed, but I'm okay now.  My legs are getting stronger :)  The first night, I had a hard time getting to sleep because we are right next to a busy street, our ceiling fan is really noisy, and there was a cricket outside that sounded like an alarm clock.  So I've been exhausted, but I feel better today.  Our apartment has a washer and dryer in it, and our grocery store is Winn Dixie, like in the book and movie! :)  My brother sent me an Amazon pantry box which was a lifesaver :)

Friday was an absolutely great day.  The mission has been hyping up for a Gladys Knight event for months.  She is a famous singer and she directs an award winning gospel choir.  Well, Friday was the big day!  There were 2 performances at our local chapel, one at 5:30 and one at 8:30.  They brought in all the missionaries from surrounding areas to our area to advertise it.  Then we got to go because we had people coming to both performances!  It was amazing.  The music was awesome and Sister Knight has a really powerful testimony and a wonderful way of communicating it.  It was so awesome!  There were order forms for a gift package that missionaries would deliver.  In the packages are a Book of Mormon, a Restoration DVD, and a sample CD of the choir.  We were so excited to get them in hopes to have people to teach, but we only got 6 to deliver, and Sister Alder knows them all already.  Hopefully we will get more as the forms get sorted out.  I have met a few people that Sister Alder and her former companion have been working with, which is great.  They came to the Gladys Knight event.  One is Greta, who is less active in the church, and Dari, who seems to like the church but doesn't want to commit to anything while her husband is gone in Afghanistan.  Her son comes to youth group on Wednesday nights, though, and her husband is coming home for a visit soon :)

It was great to go to our local congregation yesterday.  The people seem really awesome.  I'm excited to get to know them and get involved in the activities.  I hope we can get the members involved in the missionary work, because it really feels like we have nothing to do.  It sounds like Sister Alder and her former companion have done just about everything already and the work has died down.  Sister Alder says she has knocked on the doors in the area multiple times already and the people recognize her, so it's kind of ineffective to knock again, especially after Friday.

Sorry this is a really long email.  I hope I'm not forgetting to say anything.  I love and miss you all!  It is hard to be so disconnected from the world.  Speaking of which, apparently sister missionaries in some areas of the world can wear pants now to prevent insect bites!  A member asked us about it at church yesterday.  It is not allowed in our mission, but some of the members were saying that it should be because of the Zika virus.

Anyway, I wish you all the best!  My address is 3404 Pine Trace Circle, Valrico, FL, 33596 if you want to write me!  I would love mail :)

--
Sister Porter

Week 2!

Well, another week has gone and passed.  It feels like it has been a month!  So much has been happening.  I've been learning so much.  Something that really impressed me this week was how much the gospel of Jesus Christ can change lives.  I heard some stories this week from missionaries who had really hard lives, such as being in jail or having a violent lifestyle.  And yet now here they are, completely different people and serving the Lord.  Hope is never lost.

My companion and I vacuumed all the stairs in a 5-story building for our service activity on Thursday.  One of our investigators has eaten dinner with us a couple times.  She really loves us.  Friday was a great day, there was pizza for dinner and when I went up for another slice, there was pumpkin pie!  I was so excited and Elder Ogden thought it was hilarious.  I also saw an old friend from the Nashua New Hampshire Stake, Elder Lanier!  He and his twin sister are awesome and they go to BYU-Idaho so I've seen them there.  I think I forgot to mention that Sister Jensen and Sister Josephson went to BYU-Idaho.  

We got our travel itineraries.  I leave the MTC at 3:30 am on Tuesday!  In one week I will be in Florida!  Elder Koontz will be our travel leader.  The other district in our zone left so now it's just us until tomorrow when we get TWO new districts and they both have 4 girls!  I can't wait for them to come!  Yesterday I saw my great-aunt (grandma's sister) Yvonne here at the MTC!  I didn't even know she worked here!  I got asked to be the music coordinator for Sunday which means I choose the hymns for the church meetings.  Last Tuesday, Sister Oscarson and her husband spoke at devotional.  She is the leader over the young women in the church. Her husband said, "When we decide to go the extra mile, the hosts of heaven acknowledge that and go the extra mile with you."  She told us to love our companions and to expect miracles.  

It was nice to call my parents on Mother's day.  I will be able to call them at the airport on Tuesday as well.

Sorry this is a really random email but there are just so many exciting things.

Well, I hope you all are doing well.  Missionary work can be pretty stressful, but the Lord helps us.  I would love to hear from you all.  There is a website called dearelder.com which you can write to me with while I am still at the MTC and I will get the letter the same day.

Much love,

--
Sister Porter
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Pictures:

The first picture is a picture Sister Jensen drew because she thinks it's funny how much I don't like rain.  There was a hailstorm a few days ago and I didn't want to go out in it.  It hurt!

The second picture is us with the branch presidency wives.  Me, Sister Josephson, Sister Giles, Sister Jensen, Sister Thompson, Sister Gines, Sister Kramer

The third is us with the branch presidency AND their wives.  They are so awesome.

The fourth is my district at the temple this morning.   Me, Sister Josephson, Sister Jensen, Sister Giles, Elder Koontz, and Elder Peterson are in the back and Elder Ogden and Elder Holton are in the front.  I love these guys!

--
Sister Porter