Monday, December 21, 2015

18 months in a nutshell

4 areas, 8 companions, 18 months. Quite the adventure. 

The past 7 months have been spent in Rock Springs, Wyoming, where everyone owns a truck and people actually wear blue jeans, cowboy boots, bolos and cowboy hats to church. During the winter time you have to plug your truck in at night to keep the diesel lines from freezing up. The previous 7 months were spent in my beloved Cottonwood stake where I was tried and tested, where the people loved the church or hated it. It was a well-off stake that was as humble as they come. A short 6 weeks previously I spent in the East Millcreek stake. Although time was short, the people were kind and I learned a lot. And of course my first 3 months of being a missionary was spent in the Parleys stake. The highlight of that was my wonderful trainer and the wonderful people who welcomed us as we whitewashed in. 

Sister Unrast, Sister Brown, Sister Talbert, Sister Britton, Sister Masih (twice!), Sister Carlson, Sister James and Sister Kennedy. 

There aren't words adequate to explain these past 18 months. My mission was the hardest thing I've ever done. It's also the most unexplainable. It is also the best decision that I could have made for my future. My mission has changed everything about me. It has made me love myself! It has converted me to the beautiful gospel of Jesus Christ! It has made me have an eternal perspective. It has given me so many life long friends. My mission has began my path of eternal discipleship. I finally feel like I am living my baptismal covenant to take Jesus' name upon me. I have learned that it is through obedience that I receive the choicest blessings and miracles. How can I ever thank my Mom, my Dad, Kamee, Elder Nathan Dodd or Nicole for supporting me? How can I ever thank my family and friends for supporting me, writing me and praying for me? How can I ever thank my Savior for his infinite sacrifice? How can I ever thank my Father in Heaven for supporting me in a decision I did not want to make? How did he know that I needed my mission? My convert, Mills, once had a dream that going on a mission saved my did she know? 

My dear brothers and sisters, my mission truly did save my life. I love my Heavenly Father and my Jesus. "O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!" (Alma 29:1). I came on my mission to cry repentance and I leave with no regrets. I know that my Savior suffered for me, died for me, and rose from the dead for me. This is the truth that I have shared for 18 months and that I will continue sharing for the rest of my life. The gospel is restored! The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church, once again established on the earth preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and contains the fullness of the gospel. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Last week!

This week was awesome! I was able to go on exchanges in Lyman. We had
an appointment set with this lady named Ha**ah. When we went by she
said that she just got her baby to bed so now wasn't a good time.
Turns out she is the sister of a lady we are teaching in Rock Springs.
As we made small talk on the porch she eventually said that we could
come in and we started talking to her. Her baby, Lu**s, has major
heart problems and has underwent many surgeries. Every time they have
a check up they find another surgery that he needs to have. Ha**ah
opened up and told us about how she blames God. She said that she
knows that God can't control other peoples actions but her baby was
born with a lot of health complications and that was because God made
him that way. We let her just talk and vent to us for about 10 minutes
or so. The Spirit was strong inside of me. I told her that L**as is
perfect. He has no flaws. He is one of God's choicest children. We on
the other hand are blessed with these beautiful children so that we
can learn. I don't remember exactly what the Spirit told me to say but
I remember that it was all the words that God needed Han**h to hear.
She started to cry.
Fast forward to my return to Rock Springs, We went to visit Ha**ah's
sister and she wasn't home but her mom was. We ended up talking to
their mom for an hour. After I mentioned going to Lyman earlier in the
week she talked about how she knew it was me! She opened up about what
a blessing I have been to her daughters. She said that H**nah had been
struggling a lot and that she posted on FB about the sister
missionaries coming over and being exactly what she needed and she
wrote about my comment of Lu**s being perfect. Apparently it was this
big FB thing. Anyways D**tiny and Ha**ah's mom talked about God
answering prayers.
Moral of this story is not to brag about me being helpful everywhere I is to illustrate that God works in mysterious ways. There are
no such things as coincidences and as we have the Spirit, Heavenly
Father can use us as tools in His hands.
I love this gospel! I love being a missionary!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Blessings and miracles!

McK**zie was baptized on Saturday!
There are so many blessings and miracles that I am able to witness on
my mission. I know that blessings and miracles come because of the
Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Atonement has been one of the things I
have studied most throughout my mission and the more I study it the
more I realize that it is the study of a life time. The love that
Jesus Christ has for each of us is a love that penetrates any sin that
keeps us from God. The love that Jesus Christ gives us is the joy,
feeling, and spirit of Christmas. There is a reason why Thanksgiving
comes before Christmas, it gets us in mood for the most wonderful time
of the year!

I love you all

Sister Kennedy and I!

M***nzie's baptism!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

We can be grateful!

"Everyone’s  situation  is  different,  and  the  details  of  each  life  are  unique. Nevertheless,  I  have learned  that  there  is  something  that  would  take  away the bitterness  that  may  come  into  our lives. There  is  one  thing  we  can  do  to  make life  sweeter,  more  joyful,  even  glorious. We  can  be  grateful! 
True  gratitude  is  an  expression  of  hope  and  testimony.  It  comes  from  acknowledging  that  we  do not  always  understand  the trials  of  life  but  trusting  that  one  day we  will. " -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Gratitude. Thanksgiving reminds us of it every year but we should be grateful EVERY DAY. In Alma 34:38 it says, "That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you." I know that as we live in thanksgiving daily we are happier. The joy that comes from recognizing blessings is humbling. I know as I look at my life and realize that the Lord has been watching over me I see Him in the hard days, in the good days, in the moments when I lose hope. In the story of the brother of Jared it says that the brother of Jared sees the hand of the Lord because of his exceeding faith. Likewise in the story of the ten lepers that are cleansed by Jesus only one comes back to say thank you. When he does the Lord says, "thy FAITH hath made thee whole"....isn't it interesting that he doesn't say that his gratitude has made him whole? Gratitude is a sign of faith. It is acknowledging that we have a loving Father in Heaven who is mindful of us and blesses us. 
I am thankful for the holiday season. I am thankful that at this time especially my heart reaches out in thanksgiving and love for the many blessings that I have been given. The greatest blessing of all is the gospel. It is the good news of Jesus Christ. It is the good news that I can be with my family forever. My family is of course one of my greatest blessings. I am thankful that I have been able to give 17 months to my Father in Heaven. I'm grateful for the change that I can see in myself. My mission has completely molded me into a better person, a person I actually want to be around. I have never felt the spirit so much. I am thankful every day for the people in my life that I need. I love being a missionary!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving and eat lots of turkey! And take a nap for me ;)

At Jay**'s Baptism!

Sister Kennedy and I!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Tale of Three Trees

"The Tale of Three Trees" retold by Angela Elwell Hunt
"Once upon a mountaintop, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. 

The first little tree looked up at the stars twinkling like diamonds above him. 'I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I will be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!'
The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean. 'I want to be a strong sailing ship, I want to travel mighty waters and carry powerful kings. I will be the streets ship in the world!'
The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and busy women worked in a busy town. 'I don't want to leave this mountaintop at all, I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me they will raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world.'

Years passed. The rains came, the sun shone, and the little trees grew tall. 

One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain. 

The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, 'This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me.' With a swoop of his shining axe, the first tree fell. 
The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, 'this tree is strong. It is perfect for me.' With a swoop of his shining axe, the second tree fell. 
The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the woodcutter never even looked up. 'Any kind of tree will do for me,' he muttered. With a swoop of his shining axe, the third tree fell. 

The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought him to a carpenters shop, but he busy carpenter was not thinking about treasure chests. Instead his work-worn hands fashioned the tree into a feed box for animals. The once-beautiful tree was not covered in gold or filled with treasure. He was coated in sawdust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals. 

The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took him to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ships were being made that day. Instead the once-strong tree was hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat. Too small and too weak to sail an ocean or even a river, he was taken out to a little lake. Every day he brought in loads of dead, smelly fish. 

The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard. 'What happened?' the once-tall tree wondered. 'All I ever wanted to do was stay on the mountaintop and point to God.'

 Many, many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feed box. 'I wish I could mak a cradle for him,' her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and sturdy wood. 'This manger is beautiful,' she said. And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world. 

One evening a tired traveler and his friend crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake. Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. He knew he did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through the wind and rain. The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, 'Peace.' The storm stopped as quickly a it had begun. And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the King of heaven and earth. 

One Friday morning, he third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry, jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hands to her. She felt ugly and harsh and cruel. 

But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled beneath her, the third tree knew that God's love had changed everything. 
It made the first tree beautiful. 
It made the second tree strong. 
And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. "

I love this story. It tells me that the path and the goals that we establish for ourselves don't always work out the way that we want them to but God sees the full picture. He sees that we must experience opposition and heartache and despair in order to fully taste of the joy that comes when our righteous desires are fulfilled. I love this gospel! I have one month left of being a full time missionary and I will cherish it. The greatest gift to me is the gospel. 

Ka**en was baptized this past Saturday and confirmed yesterday. After church we got a text from Ka**en's mom telling us that she was ready to learn more about the church and to get baptized! The spirit is so good. 

Love you all! Have a great week. Remember: God loves you, Satan hates you. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Watch what you say!

Transfer news: Sister James is leaving and I am staying. That makes
this 4 companions, 5 transfers and 1 area. I don't know what's wrong
with me! Apparently I'm really hard to deal with. Hahahaaa. (Sucks for
my future transfers for him)

I've been learning a lot lately.
First lesson: Watch what you say and what you think. I was able to go
on exchanges this past week with a set of cute sisters. Whenever I go
on exchanges it is pretty much a 24 hour vent session. I'm grateful
that the sisters can feel open enough with me to open up to me and let
me know what's going on.The one that I went with is a "greenie" and is a
convert of a year and a half! She's super sweet and opened up to me
about a few comments that her companion had made to her that belittled
her and made her cry herself to sleep. I know you're thinking, well,
Sister Missionaries are pretty emotional so I'm sure she just read
into something and made a big deal out of nothing. Honestly the
comments that her companion made were so inappropriate and hurtful.
I'm a pretty chill person usually but I might possibly have freaked
out just a little. As I took a few deep dragon breaths (don't worry,
no fire came out) and relaxed just a little I realized that being
raised in the church sometimes gives us a prejudice. I think that we
spend a lot of whole lives being judged for being members our whole
lives and having people think that we don't have real testimonies that
one day we look at our lives and realize that we're judging everyone
else because we think that they are judging us. After the "greenie" told
me all the things that her companion had been saying I found myself
judging and saying mean things about her companion. COMPLETELY
INAPPROPRIATE! Satan has such an easy way of tempting all of us to
combat our hurt with hurting others.

Second lesson of the week: Modern day revelation is so real. To every
new revelation that the church receives, WE CAN RECEIVE REVELATION
THAT IT'S TRUE! You can ask God if it's true. This church was restored 
because Joseph Smith read "if any of ye lack wisdom, let him ask of God" 
and then what did he do? HE ASKED GOD! I know that God talks to his 
children. If you have a question you can ask him and he will answer. 
I know that to be true.

My Zone!

Thanks to Sister James for my birthday breakfast! :)


Silly Zone Pic!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Family: The GREATEST blessing!

This week was really good! Being a missionary is honestly the greatest
thing I could have done to better myself and to become converted to
the gospel. I will never regret this experience. The quote on the
church program yesterday said, "Being happy doesn't make you thankful,
being thankful makes you happy". As we go through our lives we can't
say, "Once I have this I will be happy" or "Once I'm done with this I
will be happy". We must be happy in all of our circumstances. We must
see the good in every day! As we are thankful we are happy. As we are
thankful, we recognize that Heavenly Father blesses us much more than
we deserve.

I would love to share my testimony and express to my amazing brother
how much happiness he brings me. Throughout my life Nathan has been
there to be someone to laugh with; someone I could always turn to when
I needed to have fun or if I just needed someone to listen to. Sadly I
can't ever claim that he was just the support and the comfort that I
needed but he was that to so many other people. (This is beginning to
sound more like a eulogy...) Heavenly Father loves each of us and
knows that as we serve others we grow. Thus missions are essential to
so many people. Heavenly Father gives us spiritual gifts that are
meant to help others. Nathan honestly has the gift of others being
attracted to his spirit. On his mission he is going to be able to
bless so many because of the amazing gifts that he has. As the spirit
works through him, he is going to change, and grow and change others.
I am so pleased with my brother and the young man he has become. He
will do amazing things in the Anaheim, California mission. Good Luck
Elder Dodd

I love you all, have a great week!