Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Monday, February 12, 2018

Happy Days!!

Hello!
Happy days cause it's getting so bright out...still cold and windy, but the sun has been shining so bright!  Also, because the Lord is so aware of these people here, and His hand is so evident in this work!

We had such a wonderful week and met so many incredible people.  We did a lot of finding and definitely saw miracles from our work.  It always amazes me how, as you listen to the promptings of the spirit, you are led and guided to those exact people that are just so prepared, or they are led to you.

We also had some incredible lessons with our investigators this week.  Because of lack of time, I won't go into details, but I will say the spirit was SO strong with each of them.  They all just have this sincere desire to know for themselves and are really looking for the truth.  There were some incredible experiences.  I truly just love all the people we are teaching SO MUCH!  Greatest humans and families ever!  I feel so blessed that the Lord has prepared these people at this time so that I can learn and grow from them.

Yesterday, though, was literally a dream come true.  Like I said, we have been doing tons of finding through Tracting, formers, and part-members.  Along the way, we have found so many people that are members but have not been active in years, have just moved up here, AND their records never followed.  We invited them to come to church, and yesterday they just continued to walk through the doors, one right after the other.  It was so incredible!  On top of that, our incredible investigators just walked through the doors one after the other. Then to top that off, the coolest family walked in with this ward member!  Our member had met them a couple of weeks ago when she felt super inspired to pull over and help this guy whose car was broken down on the side of the road (something she said she would NEVER do).  Long story short, they became good friends, and she invited his family to come to church.  He was a member growing up, and he brought his wife and 10-year-old daughter yesterday.  They LOVED IT!  We have a lesson with them this week, and they are so excited, and we are so excited!  Seriously, coolest family ever, and they just showed up to church!

Isn't it just so cool to see how the Lord is involved with this work?  Each of our incredible investigators right now pretty much showed up to church themselves, and we met them there.  The Lord is truly preparing the hearts of the children of men at this time, and it is amazing to witness it.  

I sat there yesterday in Sacrament Meeting as we were singing the opening hymn with the biggest smile on my face as I looked out and saw all of the amazing members and investigators, and just felt so grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve.  These people here in Alaska are truly incredible, and I am so thankful for each of them.  

This is the true church...I cannot deny it.  The feeling of joy that overcame me yesterday sitting there as I looked out on these people that I can call family, and thinking about how incredible it is that we were all here to learn from one another to renew the covenants we have made, and remember our Savior Jesus Christ.  I love this Gospel, and I love being a missionary!

Also, so cool, Gerard received the Priesthood and a calling yesterday!  Happy day!  He is just glowing.  

We heard some awesome talks yesterday in Sacrament Meeting.  One of the thoughts was on the word "remembering" from Helaman 5.  The speaker shared the Hebrew definition of "remembering."  I don't remember the definition exactly but, basically, to remember is to act, and it means to act upon those things that we remember or that are brought to our remembrance.  Woah!  I thought and realized how often I remember something, or the Spirit brings something to my remembrance, and I think about it but don't ever actually do anything about it, and I do that ALOT.  I then though about the word "remember" in the Sacrament prayers, and how we can't just partake of it and remember our Savior Jesus Christ in that moment, but we need to, instead, remember Him every day and act upon those thoughts and impressions.  Anyways, that was probably a whole bunch of rambling, but I love this Gospel, I love my Savior Jesus Christ.  I am so thankful for the infinite act of love he showed.  I'm thankful for the Book of Mormon and know that the book truly is another testament of Christ!  I love you all.  Have a great week.

Sister Lake
Anchorage Alaska Mission

Monday, February 5, 2018

Monday, February 5, 2018

MOOSE ARE FRIENDS, NOT FOOD!

Hello!
It has been such a wonderful week!  Just a few highlights...

--Gerard was confirmed yesterday!  It was such a special day, and the spirit was really strong.  He also received a calling, and we are just so excited for him!!

--Gerard's best friend/neighbor wants to learn more about the Gospel, and all about "the thing" that has changed his life so dramatically in such a short period of time.  We stopped by and talked with her, and she said, "Yeah, when Gerard decided to live that Word of Wisdom thing, I decided to do it as well, and so I stopped drinking and smoking and even stopped drinking coffee.  I'm ready to find God."  How amazing is that?  We shared with her our purpose as missionaries and invited her to take the lessons--she agreed!  We will be starting the lessons this week, and Gerard will be able to help with all of them.

--We had an amazing visit with one of our investigators right after church yesterday.  They just moved up here, and the husband is a returning less active, and she has been coming to church with him the last couple of Sundays.  We had a little FHE lesson with them on Monday, but then were able to talk with them yesterday about taking the lessons from start to finish.  They both said they would LOVE that.  We were able to go to their home right after church and sit and get to know them.  We started out talking cruises and their trip, and all of a sudden it turned into such a spiritual conversation about faith and God's plan for them.  It's always my favorite when those Gospel conversations come about so naturally, and they are the ones that bring it up.  We have another lesson with them this week, and we are so excited!  They are just the cutest and sweetest family, with the cutest kids ever!!

--We had another incredible lesson with another investigator yesterday evening, and it was one of those moments that I just kept realizing, this is why I love being a missionary.  So much!  We had planned on teaching the Plan of Salvation, went in, and the spirit totally directed it a completely different way.  We followed up on the commitments we extended and then asked if they had any specific questions.  We knew they did, and so after a minute or so of silence, they just started blurting out these questions.  They would ask a question concerning the Restoration, and we would go right into the scriptures and answer them.  And then, they would ask another question and the same thing happened.  We did this for about an hour!  And it was amazing---the spirit was SO strong.  It was cool to see how the spirit was bringing to remembrance scriptures to us as missionaries that helped answer those questions, and truly filling our mouths and lips with the exact things we needed to share.  It was one of the most incredible lessons I have been a part of.  The mother has such a strong desire to know for herself, and it is clear and evident in how much she is searching for answers.  Such an amazing family, too!  They will be so hard to say goodbye to.

--Yesterday, we had fasted as a zone, and we saw so many miracles.  As we were leaving our last lesson last night, we really didn't think it could get much better because we had just walked out of such an amazing lesson where the spirit taught us all--we were wrong!  We had a missed call and voicemail from an unknown number.  When we called the number back, Eric and Rebecca answered.  These people were these potentials from a couple of weeks ago, and they kinds just kept blowing us off.  So, we told them that when they were ready and wanted to learn more, to give us a call.  They called and with such sincerity said they were ready and set up an appointment with us.  MIRACLES!!!  The Lord is so aware of these people, and fasting, coupled with prayer, is so powerful.  This experience made me think of a scripture in Alma 6:6:

6:  Nevertheless the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God.

We have such an amazing work to do, not just as full-time missionaries, but every single member in bringing the Gospel to those who don't know God and are searching for more meaning in life.  Through prayer and fasting, Heavenly Father WILL put people in our path, or bring names to our mind, of people that need the Restored Gospel!  What an incredible work we have to do.  

--We also had Trainer and Trainee Meeting, Zone Conference, and I had my exit interview with my mission president.  WE WERE ON A SPIRITUAL HIGH!!  They were absolutely incredible meetings, where the spirit was SO strong.  We learned from the scriptures the entire time, which was absolutely incredible.  I would share but am so out of time.  I love President Toone!  I love being a missionary, every second of it--the greatest decision I have have made up to this point in my life.  I love the scriptures and know without a doubt that they are the word of God.  There are many people looking for more in life and simply do not know where to find it, but we, as member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have it, and so let's share it with others!

Have such a great week!
Love, Sister Lake

Haha, moose are friends...just look at these pictures!









Monday, January 29, 2018

Monday, January 30, 2018

Earthquakes, crazy snow storms, and a baptism!

Hello,
It has been an exciting week, filled with earthquakes, crazy snow storms, and a baptism!  Many of you probably heard about the earthquake that happened in Alaska this last week...I slept through it!  Haha!!  We woke to a bunch of texts, and we were really confused as to what was going on.  We were so tired, though, that we slept right through it!  We did feel a pretty good quake on Friday during planning, though!

Gerard was baptized on Saturday, and it was truly incredible.  The spirit was SO strong.  He just sat there with the biggest smile on his face, and after he was baptized, there was just this peace about him.  It was such an amazing evening, and one he has been looking forward to

for a long time.  We stopped by the next day and the first things he said was, "That was incredible.  When do I get to go to the temple and do baptisms for the dead?"  So cool to see how he wanted to share that joy he felt with his ancestors.  We were able to do some family history work with him and some members this week, and he just lit up when he realized and saw that many of his ancestors are waiting for the saving ordinances he will be able to do on their behalf.  Such a special day, and always a testimony builder to me that this is Christ's church restored to the earth.  I surely do love being a missionary and being able to witness how the Gospel can truly change someone's life completely, and fill them with so much joy!

 GERARD'S BAPTISM!!!


We also had an awesome experience with out investigator, C.  It's been a slow process, but we had a lesson earlier in the week, and then later in the week she texted us asking for a blessing for her daughter.  Some of the ward members came over and gave her daughter a blessing, and, once again, the spirit was so strong.  She truly is exercising her faith so much.  It's amazing to see how the spirit prepared these people all around us.  We are having FHE with them tonight and are so excited.

We had so many tracting/finding miracles!

We took one of the Laurels out with us on Saturday (one of my favorite things to do!) and stopped by some potentials, people we had tracted into and said to come back.  We stopped by one man named Dwayne.  We had tracted into him about six weeks ago, and he didn't even tell us to come back, but Sister Spencer felt like we needed to go back about four weeks ago, so we did.  He was really appreciative that we came back again but we just never could catch him at a good time.  We once again felt super prompted to stop to see him on Saturday, and he let us right in.  We had an amazing lesson!  We talked about his faith in Jesus Christ and who our Savior means to him.  We then shared with him the Book of Mormon and explained that it truly is another testament of Jesus Christ, and so forth.  He was SO excited to read it!  We left him with some awesome chapters to read, and he said to come back next week.  He is looking for a church and is excited to come this week to ours!  Miracles!!!  It's been cool to see the role the spirit plays in this wonderful work!

We also were going through some lists we had and people the Ward Council asked us to stop by and visit.  I swear EVERYONE has moved, which means lots of opportunities to share the Gospel.  We had some amazing experiences, and were able to teach so many different people and find so many potentials.  So awesome!

It has been one stellar week, and we know another awesome week to come!  I really love being a missionary.  I love the opportunity we have to bring the Gospel to so many that are truly searching for more.  I have come to realize that a lot of these miracles we see don't result in a baptism, but instead result in another seed planted that will continue to grow.  Each person we meet and teach has had multiple encounters with missionaries or members before they are ready to receive the Gospel.  It just goes to show that no effort is wasted.  If you're ever feeling like you're not doing enough, or nothing seems to be happening the way it should, just remember that every seed counts, and one day you will see the wonderful fruits of your labors.  We have been able to witness the fruits of thousands of people labor each and every day.  It's incredible!

We had a regional conference yesterday and had the privilege of hearing so many amazing talks.  One of my favorite talks was from Elder Nastress.  He talked about a simple calculation, 3 + 1.  He talked about three things we can do daily, plus one thing we can do weekly, equals that no matter what life throws at us we will be able to withstand the punches.  The three things are prayer, scripture study, and service, and the plus one is Sacrament Meeting weekly.  He talked about each of these things individually and if we make them a priority we will truly feel the joy the Gospel brings into our lives and find the strength and faith to stay on the straight and narrow path.  I can testify that this is true.  It has helped me each and every day to follow this calculation and has helped so many of those I love each and every day as well.  This is a Gospel of joy and peace and happiness, and as we do these things daily, we will feel that in our everyday lives!  I love this Gospel and I love being a missionary, if you haven't heard me say this 1000 times already!

Love, Sister Lake
Anchorage Alaska Mission

 Last P-Day with the coolest zone eva!!

 Dinner shenanigans

More animals...

Monday, January 22, 2018

Monday, January 22, 2018

Hello!

Sorry, this is going to be a quick email today because our ward mission leader has a pet moose, and we get to go see it!  (only in Alaska)

One of the 10,576 reasons why I love Alaska--We were tracting and these people let us right in.  We talked for a bit, had an awesome discussion about Christ, set a return appointment, and on the way out, they hand us a frozen fish to cook, Haha.

 Our gift of a frozen fish given to us while tracting!


We had so many awesome experiences and chances to share the Gospel with many different people this week!  It has been cool having so many opportunities to testify of Christ, the Book of Mormon, and the Restored Gospel to people from all over the world and all different backgrounds!  

Some quick highlights:

We had an awesome lesson with one of our investigators, J, last night, and the spirit was just so strong!  It has been amazing to see how the spirit works with people, and how the Lord truly prepares people through the experiences they have.

Gerard had his baptism interview on Saturday, and we are good to go for Saturday!  He is SO, SO excited!  He texts us every day with a countdown until the 27th and how excited he is.  Reflecting on getting to this point, tracting him was definitely a miracle, but most importantly, it was such a huge miracle for the ward.  The excitement for the work is lighting up, and so many of the ward members have been able to get really involved, and it is AMAZING.  We are so excited for Saturday!

We had an awesome lesson with a former investigator, that is interested in meeting again, named David.  We taught the Restoration, and he said he believes that Joseph Smith is a prophet called of God, and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  We were able to invite him to be baptized on February 24, and he said if he receives an answer, then he will!  Right before we left, though, he said he felt the spirit really strong.  We have another lesson Wednesday.

Church was awesome!  We had many of our investigators show up, and gospel principles were poppin!  I was also able to speak in Sacrament Meeting with a sister who just returned from her mission.  We both spoke on strength and fortifying our testimonies.  I never thought I would say this, but I had so much fun standing up there and speaking, and I learned so much as I prepared for the talk.  I spoke about Moroni and his Nephite armies who fortified their cities, and strengthened them so that the Lamanites had no power over them.  One of the verses I LOVED was Alma 50:1; this is right after the Lamanites came to fight and saw how strong the Nephite cities were, and the Lamanites backed down.  The Nephites could have just stopped, but instead they continued to work hard and continued to prepare their cities for the next time that the Lamanites came to battle with them.  

Alma 50:1 And now it came to pass that Moroni did not stop making preparations for war, or to defend his people against the Lamanites...

Just like Moroni continued to work daily at building up his cities to protect his people, we must, too, continue to strengthen and fortify our testimonies each day by centering our lives on Jesus Christ.  We also need to continue daily to strength our relationship through prayer, scriptures, and keeping our covenants.  Elder W. Craig Zwick said, "We must fortify ourselves.  That sure spiritual fortification is found in two words--Jesus Christ."  As we focus our lives on Jesus Christ, we truly will receive the strength we need to overcome any trial, resist any temptation, and find the strength each day to continue to move forward.  It takes effort, but the blessings that will come because of that effort are far beyond anything we could ever imagine.

I love you all!  Have a stellar week!
Sister Lake
Anchorage Alaska Mission

 Sending much love from the cold Alaskan air that freezes your hair!!


Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday, January 15, 2018

Hello!



First off, thank you so much for all of the birthday wishes!  I'm so very thankful for each of you.  You all made my whole day!!!

This week was such an amazing week.  We saw many miracles, and they came right in the time that we needed them the most.  It seemed like all of our lessons cancelled this week at the last minute, which meant lots more time to find our brothers and sister that are prepared and searching for the joy, hope, and peace the Restored Gospel brings!  


 District Tract Meeting

Here's just a few of the miracles:  
* We did a District Tract Wednesday night in our area.  It was 8 PM and so dark.  The temperature was in the teens (with the wind chill, it was in the negatives), AND part of our district didn't show up.  I will be honest, I was not in a good mood, and I had no clue why!  It was one of those days when nothing seemed to work out, and it was bitter cold!  We had prayed and felt like we needed to visit these roads, so we started knocking on doors, and, to say the least, we didn't have the nicest experiences.  After about the third door we knocked on, I just had a little vent session to Heavenly Father as we walked up to the fourth door. I  said a little prayer to give me the strength to keep going and just pleaded with Him to help me know why we are doing this.  We knocked on that door and the NICEST guy opened the door.  We talked for a little, shared the Book of Mormon, gave him a copy, and he said that he wanted to learn more and to come back next week when his kids weren't all asleep.  In that moment, I was just overwhelmed with gratitude for a loving Heavenly Father who is so aware of us.  It is times like this, which may seem like such a small thing, but in that moment that was exactly what I needed.  That experience gave me a daily reminder that I need sometimes that we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father.

We continued down that road and met some of the most amazing people I have ever met--kindest people, who have such an incredible love for our Savior and welcomed us right in.  How grateful I am for a loving Heavenly Father who so kindly and patiently listens and answers my silent prayers/vent sessions over and over again, and continues as I strive each and every day to let my faith override my fears.  And, for the many moments like that night, that my fears become so much more apparent, loving me through it, and helping me learn once again that as we exercise faith and trust in him, all will work together for the good.

* Yesterday, church was cancelled because of icy road conditions, but we were able to still go out all day.  It was another day full of finding potentials, part-members, tracting, and everything in between.  I woke up with the worst head cold, and my voice was like five octaves lower, haha!  Luckily, I had been preparing a talk for Sacrament meeting yesterday on strength, and the strength we can receive as we rely on our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His atonement.  I said a prayer and pleaded for strength that I needed to work my very hardest that day.  As the morning went on, my head cold, cough, and throat got better and better.  

We had such an amazing day.  We were out trying to contact the people we had in our records when Sister Spencer turned to me and said, "We should try formers," so we immediately started trying formers.  We went to the closest former we had in our records, and the address took us to a street I had never seen before.  We knocked on their doors, and then as we were walking away, I turned to Sister Spencer and said that we should tract this road.  So, we did and met some awesome people.  On the very last home on the road, we walked in, knocked on the first door in the 4-plex, and we started talking to a guy.  Long story short, he is a member but hasn't been active since he moved a couple of years ago.  None of his family are members.  He gave us his number and said to come by this week when everyone's awake!  

We knocked on the next door and Ben opened the door.  He said he would love to hear our message.  We shared the message about the Restored Gospel and the Book of Mormon, gave him a copy, and set up another appointment with him next week.  He loved it!  He also said he is looking for a church!

We knocked on the next door and Davo answered.  He wanted to hear our message as well.  He shared with us how his friend just recently returned home from his mission, and Davo has been wanting to learn a little more.  We are meeting with him again next week, too.

Sadly, no one was home at the fourth door, but Sister Spencer and I called it the MIRACLE APARTMENTS!  So cool to witness so many people that are really searching for something more in their lives and to have a message that will fill their lives with that peace and happiness they are looking for.

I was talking with Sister Spencer last night, looking back on the day, and realized how happy this work makes me, how happy the Gospel makes me feel, and how happy I am being a missionary.  Even though I was sick, and we were knocking on doors all day, I was just SO HAPPY all day.  This is a gospel of happiness!!

This email is already a novel, so I'll spare you having to read a ton more, but the day was truly incredible!  I wrote just a few of the many, many miracles we saw.  They may seem so small, but each time they reminded me of how important this work is, how much I truly love being a missionary, how aware the Lord is of everyone, how thankful I am for the spirit that will lead and guide us to those that are searching for something more, and how incredibly thankful I am for the Restored Gospel, and the happiness, hope, and eternal perspective it has brought me in my life.

A little update on Gerard--he is doing amazing!  We finalized his baptism program this week.  I think he is more excited than we are, and that's saying something cause we are SO excited for him.  We finished teaching the commandments this week, and I am truly amazed at how much faith he has.  Each commandment we have taught him he just listens and then immediately makes the necessary changes, or begins to live them right away.  Truly incredible.  He is living testimony of Mosiah 2:41, and every time in the scriptures where it says, "As we live the commandments, we are blessed/filled with happiness."  He told us yesterday that if he didn't receive an answer that this church was true, he would know either way because of how happy he has been since he started living the commandments and going to church.

Okay, and last thing--Like I said, I was preparing a talk for Sacrament meeting but then church was cancelled, so giving my talk never ended up happening.  Haha!  But, I want to share a couple of thoughts as I studied and pondered the word "strength" this week.  All throughout the Book of Mormon, it talks about how many different people prayed in times of trouble and affliction for the strength to overcome, or continue to push through, and they received the strength they needed.  Just like Nephi when his brothers bound him with cords (1 Nephi 7:17), or when Alma was praying for the strength to bear these afflictions which came because of the iniquity of his people (Alma 31:30-31), and so many more examples.  Just like these amazing prophets and examples, as we exercise faith, turn to prayer, and plead for strength to face the trials or things we are facing, we will receive the strength we need through Jesus Christ and His atonement.  I have felt that strength through Jesus Christ and His atonement.  I have felt that strength every single day of my mission, and I know without it I would not have been able to do the things that have been required.  

I love this Gospel and I love my Savior, Jesus Christ, so much.  He lives and loves us, and as we rely on His atonement, we will find the strength we need to do all that is asked.

Love you all!  Have such a good week.

Sister McKenna Lake 


Me with Sister Spencer, my companion

My former companion
 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Monday, January 8, 2018

Hello!  Quick Update!

Last Monday we were able to hike Thunderbird Falls with the sister missionaries, including my Day One MTC Companion, Sister Jewel!  So fun to see her again and catch up!  The Falls were so beautiful and just another reason why I love Alaska SO MUCH!  It's about the 1,752 reason why.  I'll make sure to send lots of pics!  We made it back without anyone falling in, miracle in and of itself!

 Hike to Thunderbird Falls






 Such a fun P-Day with the sister missionaries

Gerard is doing amazing!  We had two incredible lessons with him this past week on the Plan of Salvation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  It has been incredible to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ in action, in truly changing his life.  We have noticed the change, and more importantly he has recognized it.  He told us yesterday that he has just felt much happier, peaceful, and feels like he has a purpose in life now.  He showed up to church with a white shirt and tie yesterday, which made Sister Spencer and me just so happy!

We also met with one of our potentials, Jessica, and had dinner with them this week.  She has been coming to church for months with her returning LA boyfriend and is seriously my soul sister.  We clicked Day 1, mainly because she's vegetarian and we love all the same things, Haha.  Anyway, we had an amazing spiritual thought (the spirit was so strong) and we felt like we needed to invite her to take the lessons, and so we did, and she said, "YES!"  We will be meeting with her this week.

Kassandra and her family are doing awesome!  Sadly she got called into work a bunch this week and we weren't able to meet in person, but we talked a ton over the phone and she and her family are doing SO good!  We are meeting with them this week.

We also had Zone Conference this last week.  I know I have said this a thousand times, but, man, I surely do love President and Sister Toone.  They are truly some of my favorite people.  We had such an incredible Zone Conference, and it has been so cool as we receive more and more amazing tools to see how the Lord is truly hastening His work.  One of the things that our mission president invited us to do was to come to know the worth of our soul.  As we come to know the worth of our soul, we are able to understand and recognize the worth of everyone's souls.  It has been something I have been focusing on lately and trying to study, and come to know sincerely and truly.  

I want to share with you a quote that has kept coming to my mind by our beloved prophet, Thomas S. Monson.

"God's love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve it.  It is simply always there."  

As I have thought about the worth of my soul, I have thought so much about who I am, and that I am a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father.  We were created in His image.  He loves me and each and everyone of us, no matter whether we feel we deserve His love or not.  He loves us unconditionally and truly the worth of our soul is great in His sight.

As I have been thinking and pondering about the worth of our souls, and our beloved prophet, Thomas S. Monson, I am so very thankful for the knowledge of the Restored Gospel.  For the blessing of Latter-day prophets and continued revelation.  For Thomas S. Monson and the truly incredible life he lived and example he set.  The love he had for the Gospel, Jesus Christ, and our Heavenly Father.  The knowledge of the Plan of Salvation.  And, for the wonderful opportunity to have the Book of Mormon.  

I often think of the last talk President Thomas S. Monson gave on the power of the Book of Mormon, and I am just filled with so much gratitude for the Book of Mormon to lead and guide us in this day, was well as for the powerful testimony he bore.  This is the true church, and I know that God lives and loves us so very individually, and so does his son, Jesus Christ. 

 
Here's the link to Pres. Thomas Monson's talk in General Conference, April 2017: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/04/the-power-of-the-book-of-mormon?lang=eng
 
Love you all!
Sister McKenna Lake
 
 

 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 was one for the books!

 Talking to the family on Christmas--the best!!!

Hello!
What an incredible blessing it has been to spend 2017 serving a full-time mission for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  As I have reflected on this last year, I have just been filled with so much gratitude and joy for the experiences and opportunities I have had, the people I have met and grown to love, and the opportunity I have had to grow even closer to my Savior.

Sister Spencer and I ended 2017 with a week FULL OF MIRACLES!!  It was truly such an incredible week and absolutely no better way to end this year.  As a mission, we have new standards of excellence:  One return appointment a day, one new elect investigator a week, one baptism a month, and one extra hour of finding on top of the finding you normally do.  We have prayed and prayed and feel like that one extra hour of finding has been needed to be tracting.  So, each morning as we are planning, we pray to know where the Lord needs us to find those that are searching for the Restored Gospel, and we have seen miracles upon miracles.  We have found some of the most amazing people that are truly searching for the blessing of the Restored Gospel, AND, they have all come during that extra hour!  I want to share a little about a few of them:

 Picking up Sister Spencer; I love her so much!!!
 
GERARD, such an amazing person:
We were tracting, and he was one of the last doors we knocked on.  He was super busy but asked if we could come back the following day at 4:00 p.m.  We did and had the most incredible lesson with him.  We extended the invitation for him to be baptized, and he said, "YES!"  He is preparing to be baptized on the 27th of January.  We have had a couple more lessons with him since then, including a lesson on the Word of Wisdom--such a humbling experience.  As we were teaching the Word of Wisdom, he mentioned a couple of things that he was struggling with.  We promised blessings would come to him if he followed the counsel and asked him what we could do to help.  He got up and headed into the kitchen, came back with everything he had that went against the Word of Wisdom counsel, gave it to us, and told us to take it and throw it away.  The faith he has is AMAZING!  As we were leaving, he picked up the cup of tea he had been drinking before we got there and said, "Oh, I guess I need to get rid of this, too."  He got up and dumped it right down the sink.  This was truly such a humbling experience watching him as he felt the Spirit testify of the truthfulness of the Gospel, exercised faith, and took those steps to help him prepare for baptism.  He was also able to attend a baptism last night.  I wish so badly that I could have recorded the happiness that overcame his face as he watched this sweet girl enter the waters of baptism, but it is definitely a certain moment that I will never forget.  He turned to us and said, "I am so excited for my baptism in a couple of weeks."

C and K--another tracting miracle:
It was about 8:30 at night.  We had tracted a total of 1 hour and 55 minutes, so we had 5 minutes left.  The weather was bitter cold and the wind was crazy, but we felt prompted to stop on this road and knock on a couple more doors.  We knocked on a few doors, and people were not too happy that we were knocking so late.  After a couple of people yelling at us, we decided we would knock on one more and then come back tomorrow.  We knocked on that one more door and the father let us right in.  We talked with him for about 30 minutes, shared with him the message of the Book of Mormon, and even taught part of the Restoration.  At the very end, he asked, "I have one question for you.  With all that is going on in the world, do you believe that modern revelation could come again?"  My companion and I looked at each other, smiled, and
were able to share with him about latter-day prophets and Thomas S. Monson.  The spirit was SO strong! We went back two days ago and sat and talked with his whole family.  He shared with us all that he had read in the Book of Mormon, and the family had the most amazing questions. As we shared with them our purpose and explained the lessons we teach, they all said, "We want to hear them all; can we begin right now?"  We began teaching about the Restoration, and the spirit, again, was SO strong.  The family soaked everything right in and asked question after question.  They have been so prepared.  We are going back again this week!

One more quickly, and then I have to run...I'll update you on everyone else next week:

K and her family:  
We had a lesson and dinner with her and her family this week.  Let me just say, "I LOVE THEM SO MUCH."  You have no idea...she is my long-lost best friend.  We met her tracting my very first hour in the area, and after not being able to contact her, we finally have been meeting with her here and there.  She has the sweetest family!  Her husband is awesome, but usually just jokes with us.  Whenever we start talking about the Gospel, he leaves or kinda messes with us in a kind way.  We were sitting there this week and were able to teach them about the Restoration.  The husband sat there right in front of us the entire time listening so intently and asking questions.  At the very end, he asked if he could have his own Book of Mormon.  We gave him one, and he spent the rest of the evening with the book in his hands flipping through the pages.  He had such a change of heart.  It was incredible.  We talked about baptism a lot.  Please keep them in your prayers that they accept the invitation to be baptized as a family!

I'm so sorry for the crazy, long email, but this doesn't even touch the surface of the miracles we saw this week.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a servant here in the wonderful state of Alaska, in helping bring the amazing message of the Restored Gospel to the people who are searching.  The Lord is aware of His children...so very aware.  I love this Gospel, and I know that the Church of Jesus Christ has been restored to this earth.

One of my favorite scriptures from Alma 29:

1 And now, these are the words of Ammon to his brethren, which say thus:  My brothers and my brethren, behold I say unto you, how great reason have we to rejoice; for could we have supposed when we started from the land of Zarahemla that God would have granted unto us such great blessings?  

2 And now, I ask, what great blessings has he bestowed upon us? Can ye tell?

I am so thankful for the blessings all around.  I could have never imagined at the beginning of my mission, or this year, the blessings that laid ahead.  But, I have so much reason to rejoice, and so do so many others.

Hope you all have a great week and a happy new year!

Love, Sister Lake

 The other sister missionaries trying to get me to eat Rudolph (reindeer sausage), and I was not about doing that!