Saturday, April 27, 2013

Famous in a small town.....

So I am extremely late on the missionary update this week - sorry!  It is so exciting to have so many young people that I love serving the Lord right now!! I pray for each of them, their families, and those who are seeking the gospel.  What an exciting time!
In my email from Elder Packham this week he let me know that he is famous in a small town! LOL - ok, he didn't say it like that but let's face it, I have seen the stats on Thompson Falls and Plains, MT and they are DEFINETLY small towns!  Apparently he was in the paper for helping with service in Thompson Falls. I think service is such a great way for the missionaries to get involved in the community!  Here is what he said:

       "We've been doing a lot of service tracting which has helped.  The other day we took windex and paper towels and went down main street cleaning windows for businesses and people's cars."

I know that when we serve others with no intent of receiving anything back - the blessings flow.  I have seen it in my own life.  I also know that sometimes when we are serving others that they feel like we must have alternative motives.  It is all about softening hearts. Good job Elder Packham!  I  think it is great that they are getting out in the community and being seen doing good works.

In my mind I was thinking that Elder Packham and Elder Ashcroft had a baptism scheduled for today, Saturday, but I guess I was wrong.  Here is what Jake said:

       "Everything is going great and so is the work.  We have a baptism this next Thursday and have 2 others committeed.  We are wroking on 2 more but their conversion might take a bit longer.  Hopefully we'll have 4 more baptisms soon."

Jake gave me some great advice for my calling and I really think that it can be applied to us all in our relationships with others ~ so I am sharing, Take Notes!

       "Keep trying! Don't get discouraged! Missionary work is a commandment. I mean think about it, we covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Christ.  So even if we aren't openly sharing the gospel by mouth we need to be examples to the nonbelievers.  You're doing a great work mom and you'll be blessed.  Pray for inspiration and guidance as you make phone calls. Pray before you call and pray for people daily.  Take a few less active members and pray for them each week.  Stop by their house.  Randomly call them and tell them they're loved.  It may be weird at first, but that shouldn't matter.  I love you.  You'll find success as you continue the work.  Not everyone will come back at once.  But if you can get that one reactivation that's a huge deal.  Each child is precious in the sight of God. Don't give up."

And last but not least.... I decided this blog post would not be complete without an update on Jake's new healthy lifestyle.  I still have no idea how he can afford to buy all natural foods on a missionary budget.  Anyway - this is what he said:

       "I've lost almost 10 lbs now with me eating healthy (:  It works! I feel better than I ever have in my life and I'm not working out every day like I used to.  Weird but true."

I am really proud of Elder Packham  He wrote me a letter this week and even though I am not home, Alex read it to me. It was awesome.  He called me Momma-Bear... I love that!!!

The scripture I want to share this week is this:

IN the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil, and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike—and they will—you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection [see 2 Kgs. 6:16–17]. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham's seed.

—Jeffrey R. Holland, "For Times of Trouble," Devotional Address, March 18, 1980

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Seriously Jake?!?!?! ..... AND a crazy dog story that will make you laugh!

Okay - so this week Elder Packham says to me:

Don't send packages with junk food! No more. Please and thank you! I'm changing my diet. I've been learning a lot on what to eat and what not to eat. I've cut dairy products out of my diet and I drink almond milk. Regular milk is so bad for you. My peanut butter, the ingredients: Peanuts. That's it. The closer food is to God made, the better. I've been eating tons of bananas and stuff. "It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle." I've come to realize that what members feed us isn't all that bad. You just gotta watch what you eat. Not reading the nutritional facts but reading the ingredients. That's the important part. It's all part of living the word of wisdom. The W.O.W actually says no meat. Meat is supposed to be used sparingly. The pioneers packed lots of meat because it was a hard time. Meat takes REALLY long time to digest. So I've cut meat out of my diet too. It's not a regular thing for me.

Is he for real?!?!?!  I am thinking, "Who are you and what did you do with my Jake!"  I am all for being healthy and have even begun counting calories myself but he is sounding a bit extreme.  I am still shaking my head.  Is this a phase?  Yesterday I was in a store and when I went up to the counter I see this, "Big Sky Granola."  I almost bought it to send to him but all I can bring myself to do or say is shake my head and say, "Is he serious?!"
Elder Packham sounds as if he is doing great and he is full of spiritual fire - which is awesome! Here is what he had to say:
I have a lot of good stories for you this week. One of our zone leaders, Elder Burrows is with us this week. He's going around to all of the companionship's to just help out. We did service in Thompson Falls for about 5 hours, it was "beautification" day. The whole town just cleans up. It was a great time and we really enjoyed that. After that we came back to Plains to do more service and to cut wood for the Doney's. The Doney's are an active, but really old couple. They're in there 90's. So before we cut wood we were talking and this dog to Sister Doney's slipper. I thought it was just a chew toy so I was playing with the dog for a little bit. The dog went running outside and Sister Doney yells, "Give me my slipper back!" It was funny. So Elder Burrows decided to take charge. This is a small dog, not a Chihuahua but really small. So Elder Burrows quickly snatches the end of the slipper to stop the dog from running. We are out on the porch at this time. The dog just wouldn't let go! So Elder Burrows tries prying the jaw of the dog open and this small dog has a death grip on this slipper. He tries pulling put the slipper started to tug and almost broke so he stopped. Sister Doney is just freaking out, "Get my slipper! Oh no! My slipper!" They have a bigger black dog who just went nuts. He started running around as fast as he can trying to bite the littler dog. So I'm like no way, this isn't gonna happen. So I try stopping the big dog, for a little bit. The little dog was relentless with this slipper. Sister Doney is slapping the side of his face trying to get him to let go. Sister Doney backs up and Elder Burrows lifts the slipper up but the dog came with it. So I step in, keep in mind everything is just out of control and the situation is just out of hand at this point. So I step in and start petting the little dog, Elder Burrows doesn't know what to do and Elder Ashcroft is just standing there watching like an innocent by-standard. I keep petting the dog and Elder Burrows starts punching this dog. So picture it, I'm petting the dog, Elder Burrows is punching this 3 legged dog in the side of the face trying to get it to let go, and Sister Doney needs calmed down. Finally the bigger dog came in and bit one of its 3 legs and it leg go. SO FUNNY! We left there house laughing so hard! Sister Doney was more than relieved to get her slipper back to say the least. 

One has to wonder..."Is it legal for a missonary to be punching a 3-legged dog in the side of the face to rescure a slipper?!"  LOL - I suppose it all worked out in the end.  Maybe Elder Burrows should have done like the other dog and just bit him! LOL
So in all truthfulness, it was a bad week for me.  Michael had left to Army basic training on Monday and I was a miserable, sad mess.  I thought for sure that Jake's email for the week would cheer me up and instead it made me grumpy.  Why is that?!  I don't really know but I must have given Jake that impression because he emailed me right back and said this:

       you sound really upset. Pray! Be happy! 
       Love you! praying for you! gotta go bye!

If you are wondering what D&C 121:6-10 says, it is this:
6 Remember thy suffering saints, O our God; and thy servants will rejoice in thy name forever.
7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
9 Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.
10 Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job.

Ok, Okay Elder Packham.....

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Love you all to the moon and back!

I am a bit slow with my update this week - sorry.  I want to start this week's post by saying how much I LOVE p-day. (aka preparation day)  For those that do not know, this is the day of the week when the missionaries do their shopping, cleaning, laundry, and writing home!  It is has quickly become a favorite day of mine and that is pretty remarkable considering that prior to Jake leaving on his mission - Monday was my least favorite day!

As always, Jake taught me another lesson.  I had mentioned to him that I have a new calling as the Missionary Meal Coordinator for our ward and shared an experience with him.  I had decided to make some phone calls for meal appointments and decided to start with some names I was not familiar with.  Now... Ankeny 1st ward is larger than what we have been use to and I really do not know a lot of people.  While making these calls I discovered that I had called some part member families and less active familes - unbeknownst to me - sheesh.  Anyway... the words denied, denied, denied come to mind.  Big sigh.  For me it was the equivalent of having a door slammed in my face and it was quite discouraging!!!  I said to Jake, I don't know how you do it!  This is what he said:

"Mom, when we do all we can, the Lord blesses and sustains us.  The outcome of just trying shows our Father in Heaven that we love that person and we are doing what we can to help. Even if we feel like we messed up.  We just try and love them - we must have charity of heart."

That was really important for me to hear - thank you Elder Packham!  Some of the other things he shared about my calling were:

Mom, your Heavenly Father has given you this calling because he knows your strengths and he knows your faith. He knows you perfectly. Keep trying! If you can't get them a dinner appointment ask them if they have any service or project that the missionaries can come do for free. Let them know that the missionaries always offer service to anyone. If they say yes, tell the missionaries and they can set that appointment up. You're doing a great job and don't get discouraged. Show your love to everyone. You already do and you have such a big heart. You'd be surprised at how many less active there are within the church mom. It's crazy. Everyone Elder Ashcroft and I go see are Less Actives. We'd have a ward in T-Falls if the less active came. You can get shut down 10 times but keep going back, keep calling, keep knocking.

I love that boy!!! all my friends who read this blog that are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints... I would like to challenge you to reach out to a less active member or family.  Invite them over - take them a plate of cookies - drop them a note! Do Something!!! This new calling is teaching me - as well as Jake's mission - that so many just need to know that we are here and we love them.  For any of you who think this is too hard - let me share another story with you.

It is no secret that I haven't had the best experiences in my ward and I shared this thought with Mikey, "how do you encourage someone to come out to church when you know that the experiences you have had with some of the people have not been positive?" Mikey said, "Mom - you show them who you are - you show them the love you have for them - and you don't worry about anyone else."

I love that boy too!!  Great advice from them both.  Whether or not someone joins the church, is a less active, or anything - the most important thing to remember is that EVERYONE is our brother or sister and we should love them - and love, to me, is an action word.

Ok - more than enough about me.  More from Elder Packham:

About my new area:  It's harder to schedule appointments with us being gone every week but we make it work. We live out of a suitcase week to week. I'm going to buy a duffle bag here soon. In Plains we live out of a trailor, the bedroom is only big enough for a bunk bed and that's it. We take 1-2 minute showers in Plains because there's no hot water. In T-Falls we can take like 8 minute showers so its nice. We live in the back of the Branch Presidents garage. The other day Elder Ashcroft left the keys in the truck, so we went tracting (: It was SO funny! It's so beautiful out here! The first morning I was in T-falls I walked out side and the Branch Presidents wife was hand feeding the deer. The deer are EVERYWHERE they just feed on the lawns. It's awesome! The scenery is so beautiful! We walk alot. Elder Ashcroft is from Clovis California, right next to Fresno. He's the only person in his family to go statewide. Even both of his parents went foreign. In his first area he was there for 3 months but since then he's moved every 3 weeks, not even a whole transfer. I think it's because he can touch the hearts of so many people. He's so great! We laugh so much. He's like a little brother to me. He has the most positive attitude ever. He's like me! We get along so well. We went for a run this morning in the snow and it was cold. We ran 1/2 mile just cuz it was cold and we're out of shape. You get so out of shape on the mission! There's no time to work out or anything! Especially when members feed you the biggest meals you've ever eaten, there's no point in trying to stay in shape.

I loved conference. Conference was so great and I loved all of the talks! That's all I'm gonna say. I loved it. 

Well I love you all, to the moon and back. Keep up the hard work with school and work. Have faith, Pray and Study! You won't go anywhere with your testimony without those two. I'm just so fired up right now. We're in the latter days, there's no time to slack off or not repent or be disobedient. We're re-reading the BOM in 6 weeks as a transfer. It's like 12 pages a day or something like that. We're highlighting everytime it mentions Christ or an Adjective of Christ like (he, him, myself, etc.) plus all of his names. In 1st Nephi alone it mentions Christ over 300 times. I'm not sure about the exact number. I stopped after 300. I love you all. Have a great week! 
He makes me laugh - I love it!!! Anyone who knows Jake knows that he is ALWAYS good for a laugh! I so miss that!!! But, alas, once a week I get to laugh with him.  His comment about running a 1/2 mile because it was so cold and he is out of shape was funny... I can't imagine that he is happy with that.  Apparently he is being fed well in Montana - LOL!
Here are some pictures:

Okay - Picture #1 and #2 are 'Beautiful Montana'!!!  Picture #3 is Jake with the deer that he was talking about.  It seems crazy to me that you can feed them out of your hand!  Picture #4 we shall call "Classic Jake" - love it!  The last picture is of Jake, his companion and some other Elders. ( I don't know their names)

Thank you to everyone who is sharing Jake's journey with me!!  I want to send three shout outs this week. Jake's good friend Cade Robinson has been called to serve in the New Mexico mission. His friend, Chloe Myers, has entered the MTC is preparing to go to California and Jake's cousin, Levi Cunningham, went in to the MTC yesterday and will be going to Peru.  I know that Jake is excited for all them.  He said this to me - "Missionary work is so important and there is no excuse t onot be anxiously engaged in the work. Every member is a missionary no matter who you are, what gender you are, or what age."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

EXTRA EXTRA ~ Breaking News!

HERE'S THE NEWS: I am getting transferred to Plains and Thompson Falls, I'll be in the Kalispell Zone. We got our transfer calls this morning at 9:30 or so. Elder Ptacek will be staying in Shelby and will continue to be the District Leader. Plains and Thompson Falls are two different cities but that is the name of my area. My new companion will be Elder Ashcroft. I leave Shelby on Wednesday.

The picture above is of Thompson Falls, Montana.

I looked up Thompson Falls, Montana and found this picture. It looks beautiful!  Something tells me that there will be a lot of beautiful places in Montana that I will want to see one day!

Statistics & Facts The population of Thompson Falls is approximately 1,321 (2000).
The approximate number of families is 619 (2000).

The picture above is a sunrise over Plains, Montana.

Statistics & Facts The population of Plains is approximately 992.
The approximate number of families is 468.

So I am wondering... I see all these beautiful pictures of Montana and wonder why more people don't live there.  Any ideas?

This week has been outstanding!!!

I have changed the names in order to protect the identity of those Jake is talking about but I think he says it best. So here goes ~

This week has been outstanding!! In the past 7 days we've taught the Henrys 4 times and I've taught the last 2 lessons. I taught the last lesson on repentance. I asked this super inspired question I can't even remember what it was. She answered, Elder Ptacek testified. Then Dee just starts bawling and she bears testimony that the church is true and she knows it without a doubt. She says in the past few days something has just come over her. She was worried about quitting coffee and that was the one thing holding her back. She said before she started drinking coffee she'd get these really bad headaches. We promised her that if she took that leap of faith she wouldn't get those headaches. We taught them faith 3 times. Just faith and nothing else. Our lessons are usually almost 2 hours long. After Dee bore testimony I testified. After I was done she just stood up and went to the kitchen. Dee threw away her brand new coffee maker, all of her coffee, and all of the tea that they had in the cupboards. John Henry, the husband, didn't know what to say or what to do. He said, "I've never seen my wife so serious in my life, not even when she wants to kill me." The power of the Atonement is real. She knows it and she's received that knowledge. She knows the church is true. They've been meeting with missionaries for 7 years. We did not have them on date for baptism but one day we were reporting numbers to our zone leaders in Great Falls and I looked at Elder Ptacek and was like April 27th. That's the day. He looked at me and said the same thing. April 27th would be the day. So we've been telling everyone we have a baptismal date for April 27th and guess what?! Dee committed to April 27th. She said she wants her boys to grow up and to serve missions just like we are. She says that she's so humbled because missionaries have never given up on her and they keep coming back. Missionaries may drop them but then the next set of missionaries always come back. She said she knows that there are families that her boys may get to touch the lives of. She wants nothing more than the gospel right now. John said it's different with Elder Ptacek and I. He doesn't know why.

That was an amazing witness and I feel blessed that Elder Packham shared it with us. The gospel is true - this I know, with certainty!  If you doubt it - you should read the Book of Mormon and do as the Lord admonished in the Bible in James 1:5 - "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God."   You can receive another witness as well through Moroni's Promise in the Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:3-5.

“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of theHoly Ghost” (Moro. 10:4).