Monday, September 26, 2016

Week Five – Sept. 26, 2016

Week Five – Sept. 26, 2016

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

This week has been such a quality week!  I seriously love the mission more and more each day! 

A few things about Wassila and Alaska in general:
1.  There are roads that are for cars, and then on the side of the road there are separate dirt roads for 4-wheelers and dirt bikes because nobody really drives cars here.  They get around on dirt bikes and 4-wheelers, which is actually pretty cool.
2.  You literally cannot find anyone in Alaska—they hide their house numbers!  No joke!!  Some of them even add extra numbers just so that people can’t find them.
3.  We pretty much go off-roading every day.  My dream of having a Jeep and going off-roading everyday has been fulfilled on my mission.  Our car is just covered in mud when we return home.
4.  I see moose so often now that it is not even exciting any more.  It’s just a normal thing.
5.  If it is the beginning or the ending of hunting season, no one is home.  Literally all of the houses are empty.
6.  It has rained every single day since I have been here—literally!
7.  The mountains are all covered in snow, so everyone says it should start snowing this week.

So, as you can tell—Alaska is pretty awesome, except for the rain and snow.  Haha, but honestly I love it!
 P-Day Hike (next four pictures)

This week has been so awesome!  I have grown to love my ward.  The people truly are some of the most amazing and genuine people ever.  They are so good to us, and I am so thankful for that. 

We are working with some of the coolest people ever.  One of the guys we’re working with is Bobby Smith.  He is less-active and is struggling with obeying the Word of Wisdom right now, but is one of the coolest guys and has such a cool life story.  He is a seven-time World Champion bull rider, but is now deaf and blind but one of the hardest workers I know.  When we teach him, we literally have to yell as loud as we can for him to hear us, but our lessons with him are so amazing, and he truly has such a strong testimony. 

Another guy we’re working with is named Bro. Stoelberg.  He is from New York, so we totally bonded over that.  Anyway, he is so cool and has such a crazy life story.  He was in 9/11 and survived it.  He was also on that plane that landed in the Hudson River [The new movie that just came out in the movie theaters, Sully, is about this incident,], and has been in prison a ton.   He has just had a crazy life and hasn’t been active in over 20 years.  He hasn’t even stepped a foot in a church building for that long.  We met him my very first day in Wassila, and that following Sunday he came to church.  Just yesterday, he received a calling, and it was the coolest experience.  For the last few weeks he has been totally active and just excited about getting involved.  He has so much faith it’s crazy!  He is working on going through the temple, which just makes me so happy!

Our newest investigator is a guy named Samuel Bird.  He lives in a bus—it’s pretty cool.  We have our first official lesson with him this week, and I have so much faith in him.

We also started teaching these two teenage girls whose mother was recently baptized six months ago.  We taught our first lesson to them on Friday, and they have such strong desires to really know if this church is true.  I am so excited for the chance to teach them because, as I watched their mom while we taught them, she was just so happy watching her girls take the step starting on their own journeys.  She wants nothing more than for her family to live together for eternity, and I know as we were sitting there with them she could see for the first time that this is a possibility for her.  I am so excited to continue teaching them! 

We have a baptism this Tuesday for our investigator, Gracie, and I am so excited for her!  She is just the sweetest girl and is so excited to take this step.  She asked me to speak at her baptism, which made me so happy. 

I love this place!  I love the people!  I love this Gospel and the message we get to share each day!  I love the Book of Mormon, and I know that it is the true word of God!  I know that whatever guidance we need we can receive it if we sincerely ask our Heavenly Father and then daily, gently, search the scriptures.  The Book of Mormon is so true.  I don’t understand how people who really read it don’t believe it!  It truly is one of the most amazing books!  I feel so blessed to be given the opportunity to carry it everywhere I go and testify of it to everyone I see. 

Love you all so much!  Thanks for all that you do.  Hope you all have a great week!

Love, Sister Lake

P.S.  Little MTC reunion this to see my MTC homies.  So much fun.

P.S.S.  Funny story for the week—The elders keep complaining about how they have no food, and so we told them we would bring them some.  They got super excited, and when we showed up with some roosters, they weren’t too happy.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Week Four - Sept. 19, 2016

Week Four - Sept. 19, 2016

So many dogs!

Let me just start off by saying the longer I am here in Alaska, the prettier I realize it is.  It truly is one of the most beautiful places! The trees are all changing color and everywhere you look we are surrounded by mountains.  Pictures just do not do it justice!  The days are definitely starting to get shorter, and it seems to be getting darker earlier and earlier each night, which is hard to realize that before I know it, it will be dark pretty much all day.

This week was one of the hardest weeks but one of the most amazing weeks as well. The week started out pretty tough, to be honest.  On Tuesday, we went tracting and ran into a lot of people who just had really negative things to say to us.  Read Alma 30 and, word for word, that is what happened to us (except for the ending).  It was seriously the scariest thing ever.  It was just crazy to see how much has changed but what the scriptures talk about is still happening today.  It was a really good learning lesson, though.  After that, the rest of the week was a little tough. 

Sister Johnston, her companion

We're in an area where a lot of people come to get away from the world and to get away from people, and so it's been super hard finding people to teach.  So, we turned to the Lord for strength so much this week and just kept working.  When Saturday finally came, we were kind of at our breaking point, and so we received blessings, which was one of the coolest experiences I have ever seen.  The blessings were truly inspired, and we left there feeling so confident.  The next day we woke up, started fasting and went to church, and, one thing after another, everything we had been praying for was somehow answered.  It was the coolest thing to see the Lord answering our prayers right then and there.  We walked out of church just amazed at how many of our prayers were answered, and then throughout the day we just saw more and more blessings.  

I have such a strong testimony that Heavenly Father hears and answer every single one of our prayers.  He knows us individually and He knows our weaknesses and the things that we need.  We are never alone.  He is always there for us. I know that through His Atonement our weaknesses can become strengths.  Our feelings of inadequacy can be changed, and we can feel of His love.  Our relationship will grow stronger with Him and we will feel comforted.  I know that as we grow and understand the Atonement more, we realize how important it is to use the Atonement every single day.  It is one of my favorite things to share with people because when you really think about it, the Atonement is one of the most powerful things.  It is one of the greatest acts of love, and it really truly is one of the most comforting things to really know that, no matter what is going on, our Savior is there for us.  

 My Zone

We also had Zone Conference this week, and it was such a cool experience.  I was able to see Sister Cox and Sister Grieve, which made my week!  Sister Grieve gave a killer training, too!  It's fun getting to see her and having a familiar face up here!  She is the greatest and just such an amazing missionary.  I get to go on exchanges with her next week and I am seriously so stoked!  

Sister Cox

  Sister Grieve (also from Eagle, Idaho)

An exciting thing that happened for the week is a dog chased us, which was probably one of the scariest moments of my life.  Everybody has dogs up here--not cute ones, scary ones.  They all have these huge guard dogs and they are usually not on leashes or chained up.  We went to this less active’s house and their dog started chasing us.  I put my Book of Mormon out in front of me and said, “Stop,” and the dog just stopped.  So, all I have to say is the Church is true and the Book of Mormon is true.  I also ate my first sheep, and after tomorrow I will have eaten my first elk tongue, so wish me luck!  I love this place!  It really truly is beautiful up here, and the work is starting to pick up!  We have three new investigators, as of yesterday, and a baptism this week!  I love getting to share a message that is so true!  This Church is so true and I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to be one of the Lord’s servants.

Love you all and can't thank you enough for everything that you have done!  Have a great week!

Love Sister Lake

Monday, September 12, 2016

Week Three - Sept. 12, 2016

Week Three - Sept. 12, 2016

Moose, Moose, and more Moose!

Hey all!  
I made it to Alaska, and it truly is SO beautiful here and SO cold as well!  All of the leaves are starting to change color and so everywhere you drive is amazing!  

Anchorage Alaska Mission missionaries in front of the Anchorage Alaska Temple

 Sister Lake with her mission president and wife, Pres. Eldon Ray Robinson

I'm in an area called Wassila and it was just whitewashed about six weeks ago, so we are really working on trying to get the ward to wake up, as well as the area.  Sooo it's slow but it's coming along.  We work with a lot of in-actives, which is different but really cool.  We are currently working with three in-actives.  They all haven't been to church in over 20 years, and on Sunday every single one of them came to church for the first time in those 20 years, which was so cool.  My trainer is seriously awesome and has taught me so much already!  Her name is Sister Johnston, and she is from Logan Utah!
 Sister Lake and her trainer from Logan, Utah, Sister Johnston

It's been a crazy week, and a really hard week, but the more and more we work the better it gets.  I have truly come to learn the importance of prayer.  I have prayed more in this last week than I think I have my entire life.  I know that our Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers, and that He knows us individually.  He knows what each and every one of us is going through and will give us guidance and comfort as we go to Him in earnest prayer and ask for His help.  I know that through the power of prayer, we are able to strengthen that relationship with our Father in Heaven and feel of His love, and I am so grateful for that.  It has been the one thing that has helped me get through this week, and I know the rest of my mission, and I will never forget that.

This gospel truly is amazing. This work is amazing!  I look at what we get to share with people I and feel pretty lucky.  It is so true and our Heavenly Father really truly does love us!  I know that He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins, and through His atonement we can grow and be strengthened.  It truly is an amazing thing.

A mission is the best choice I have ever made, and it's just starting.  Alaska is amazing!  The people are so amazing and have some crazy life stories! The food here, though, is well, let's say--interesting.  Mom you’re probably going to have a heart attack after this, but just know I almost did, too.  On Friday, we were driving and we came right in front of a mama moose and her baby, which was so cool to see --my first moose.  Then we went and ate lunch, and I ate moose for the first time, and then I went and ate dinner and had moose tenderloin for the first time.  That's right moose tenderloin--grossest thing I have ever eaten.   I was sitting at the table literally trying to swallow it whole praying I wouldn't throw up right then and there.  It was bad!  Anyways, I'm pretty sure after my mission I am never going to want to eat meat again.  So that is officially the craziest thing I have eaten as well as the grossest! 

 First sighting of a moose and her baby

So excited for everything to come!  Thankful for the opportunity I have to be here and share such an awesome message.  Thanks for all you have done!  Love you and miss you all so much!

Love Sister Lake!

 Pictures of family to remind her of home

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Week Two - Sept. 1, 2016

Week Two - Sept. 1, 2016
Hey, Hey, Hey!  
It is seriously crazy to think that I am almost done here at the MTC!  I received my flight plans this week and leave Tuesday morning at 3:30 AM.  I will be traveling for 10 hours, but my travel group is awesome so I am pretty stoked!

This week has been so good!  My companion and I were called to be the Sister Training Leaders and so this week has been crazy, but it was so fun getting to welcome in the new missionaries.  I also got to see Halsey [her friend from high school and roommate at college] right after she got here which made my whole week!  I have learned so much this first week about how to teach and just how to really love my investigators, which makes me so excited to get out and just meet new people in Alaska and get to teach them! The MTC is really one of the most amazing places; I’m seriously kind of sad to be leaving here but so excited to get in the field. 

Halsey and McKenna

On Tuesday we got to hear from both Brother and Sister Maynes of the Presidency of the Seventy; he gave one of the coolest talks!  He talked a lot about the importance of the Book of Mormon in missionary work, and how it will help tremendously in the conversion process with our investigators. One thing he said really stuck out to me, which was, "It is my testimony that the Book of Mormon saves lives."  I heard that and just really thought about how powerful that is. I have come to realize since being here how powerful the Book of Mormon is and can’t wait to share that with my investigators because it really truly is one of the most powerful books.  Another thing he said was, "Have the courage to talk to everyone you see.  If it does not end up in a baptism, that is alright because it planted a seed for later in life when they are ready," and "…the impact of one is so great."  I loved these two things because I just realized that I should never be discouraged on my mission if teaching an investigator does not result in baptism because it plants a seed for later in the future when they are ready for the gospel in their lives.  I know that missionary work will not be easy at times, but I know it will be so worth it! 

We also had another really cool experience.  On Wednesday night we sat around as a district and had kind of a little testimony meeting.  We just opened up with each other about why were serving, what we have learned, and just how we have seen the Gospel bless our lives and families since we have been on missions.  It was crazy to hear what has happened for some people and strengthened my testimony of our Savior’s love for us and our families.  He is working miracles and it’s so cool to watch!  Our meeting was one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had. I really have been blessed with such an amazing district and have grown to love each and everyone of them.  They are truly amazing, and I am so excited to see what they will do in their missions. 

McKenna's District

I do have to just share one really funny story, though.  Last night my companion and I had 30 seconds to prepare a quick lesson on the Word of Wisdom to teach our teacher, and so we found a scripture quickly and felt pretty confident going into it.  We started our lesson and it was going so well, and we felt like we have totally got this.  We then asked our teacher to read a scripture and told him to read verse 16, but meant to say 17. Anyway, so he started reading the scripture and, long story short, the scripture said that they were going to be destroyed!  My companion and I just looked at each other like what did we just do, and then we just started busting up laughing, like my zebra-kind-of-laugh, and my teacher totally broke character and could not pull himself together.  It was the funniest thing ever!! 

Anyway, this week has just been another quality week.  I love my experience at the MTC, and know I am just going to love Alaska!!  I know that this Gospel is true; I know that our heavenly father loves us and hears and answers every single one of our prayers. I know that He has a plan for us and that He wants nothing more for us than to return to live with Him again. I know that the Book of Mormon is another testament of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His love for us. I know that through diligent scripture study we are able to receive any answers we may have.  I know that this Gospel brings true happiness, and I am so excited to share that with the people of Alaska!  I love you all so much and cannot thank you enough for everything! 

Love, Sister Lake

Provo Temple