Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Monday, December 18, 2018


Such a good week!  Sister Kimball was able to say some goodbyes.  I miss her, but also it is so fun that she's just down the road!  We headed into Anchorage Thursday morning and were able to go to breakfast with all of my favorite people, like Sister Cox, Oliver, Pike, Spender, and Mataele!  I miss that crew so much, but it was so fun to see them.  After that, they dropped me off at the church, and I was able to see all of my other favorite people including President and Sister Toone AND meet my NEW COMP, SISTER SPENCER!  She is seriously the greatest person ever!  She was the only sister that came out this transfer, and so we immediately knew who's comps were ours.  We had some awesome training lessons from President and the assistants, and then headed back to our areas.

 Greatest picture ever!  (the elders tried to copy our picture)
 The sisters!!! (after finishing cleaning an elders' apartment that the sisters were moving into--no comment!!!
 Sister Fa'anunu and the ginormous carrot!

It finally snowed and, as a result, our hour trip back to our area took about two hours.  We arrived there, had dinner, and then went out and knocked on some doors.  All I have to say is Sister Spencer is a champ!  She knocked on those doors and talked to those people like she's been doing it for months!  We met some awesome people who let us in--MIRACLES!  We made some return appointments, and she gave away her first Book of Mormon!  She has so much excitement and love for this work, and it's contagious!

 SISTER SPENCER (my new companion)!!

We continued to work super hard, knock on tons of doors, and met with our awesome investigators throughout the rest of the weekend.  We had some lessons that went well and some new people to start teaching, which we are so excited about!  We had a ward Christmas party Saturday and SIX of our investigators showed up!  It was SO amazing to see.  The ward just took them right in.

We had a lesson Sunday evening with one of our investigators where we taught the Restoration with a focus on Latter-day prophets.  We also shared Thomas S. Monson's talk called "The Power of the Book of Mormon," and it was so incredible.   I want to share a little part from his talk that was such a good reminder to me of the power and importance of the Book of Mormon.

"My dear associates in the work of the Lord, I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day.  As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven's help in our lives.  I so testify with all my heart in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

I have come to LOVE the Book of Mormon so much.  It has been such an amazing source of peace, guidance, and direction in my life and I am so thankful for that.  As we were talking with our investigator about the power of the Book of Mormon, the spirit was SO strong.  This is one of the last messages our prophet shared in Conference, and it was the message that our Heavenly Father needed/wanted us to hear, because of the power the Book of Mormon has in our lives and the promised blessing that we need each and every day to continue to stay faithful.  I know without a doubt that the Book of Mormon is true, and is convincing evidence that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored once again on this earth through the prophet Joseph Smith.  These promised blessing that our beloved prophet shared are real.  I have felt each of them daily as I have studied and read the Book of Mormon!  

Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants nothing more than for us to return to live with him again, and has blessed us with so many tools to make that possible, and the Book of Mormon is one of them.  I love this Gospel!  And I love this wonderful time of year that we have to celebrate the incredible life of our Savior.  How thankful I am for the life He has, loves, the amazing example He has set, and the greatest gift He has given.  

Have a Merry Christmas!!!

Love, Sister Lake 

 Palmer, AK! Just on the side of the road as we were driving!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017


It has been such an amazing week!  First off, we got transfer calls this week.  I will be staying here in just the Lazy Mountain Ward and will be training a new missionary.  I am SO BEYOND excited and just SO thankful for this amazing opportunity.  I pick her up on Thursday and seriously cannot wait!  It will be awesome to have that "greenie fire" around me 24/7!  Sister Kimball, my old companion, will be staying in the Cottonwood Ward (our other ward we were in this last transfer) and getting Sister Wilden as a companion.  They will be so close, thankfully.  It's about to be a stellar transfer.

We also had an amazing experience this last week with our new investigator Kassandra.  We had tracted into her my very first hour being in this area six weeks ago and hadn't been able to make super good contact with her; however, in these last six weeks the Lord has prepared her so much.  We were planning on visiting Wednesday morning but felt inspired to go and visit her later that evening.  We stopped by, she came to the door, and said, "I have been thinking about you girls all day, and I thought if I prayed hard enough that God would send you to me, and here you are!"  We visited with her for a couple of minutes, and then she set up an appointment for the following day at 11 o'clock.  We walked away feeling so thankful that the Lord guided us to her at that time on that day.  It just goes to show how aware He is of each of His children, and the things we need that very moment.

We went back the following day and had the most amazing visit with her.  She opened up a ton, and shared with us the things she has been struggling with.  We talked and testified that she was a child of God and that He hears and answers her prayers.  We shared with her the video called "Mountains to Climb" with President Eyring speaking; the spirit was SO incredibly strong.  We talked afterwards and she asked who the man was that was speaking.  We began to teach her about the Restoration and taught her that we have latter-day prophets and apostles today.  She said, "As he was speaking, I just had this feeling that I can't even explain come over over me."   It always makes me so happy to see when these people that I love so much, and just want them to have the Gospel in their lives so badly, recognize and understand the spirit.  It truly is one of the most joyful experiences.

The following day we went back because her kids had been sick, and for "Light the World" challenge, we were supposed to serve little children.  We brought them some dollar sundaes and had another incredible visit with them.  We taught them all about the Book of Mormon, and before we could even give her one, she said, "What can I do to get one of those books?"  She wanted one so badly; it was so cool to see.  We gave her the book and marked some of our favorite chapters, and chapters we felt she could use at this time.  We left her with Moroni's Promise and invited her to read and pray about it.  She said, "I most definitely will, but I have to say, with you showing up exactly when I needed it, and the amazing feeling I have as you teach and testify, I already know in my heart that this must be true, but I will still do it."  Something that I have learned and experienced so much on my mission is that the spirit testifies of truth, and for Kassandra to recognize the spirit testifying of the truthfulness of this Gospel has brought me so much joy.

I know without a doubt this Gospel is true and this is the Lord's great work.  It is so very humbling to realize that Heavenly Father has given us this amazing opportunity to be a part of this great work when He could really do it all Himself.  I am so truly grateful.  I know I share a lot about how God is aware of us and that I know the Book of Mormon is true, but those are two things that I have come to know so clearly and specifically on my mission.  They are two things that have helped me day-in-and-day-out.  So, I know I repeat myself a lot, but I know without a doubt that we are children of God, and that He knows us so very individually.  He hears and answers our prayers.  And, I know that the Book of Mormon is truly another testament of Jesus Christ and is the word of God.  I love that book so much!  And how thankful I am to have it to turn to for guidance and direction in my life.  This church is true, and what a wonderful season it is to celebrate our Savior Jesus Christ's birth.  What better way than going out and #lighttheworld by serving others.  I love you and am so thankful for each of you!  Have such an amazing week!

Love, Sister McKenna Lake

 Sister Burdick and I going back to our North Pole days!

PS:  The stake I'm serving in did an amazing Nativity display this week where they transformed the entire church into Bethlehem and had over 1000 nativities displayed from all over the world.  Such an amazing experience, and so powerful to watch as the entire community came together and celebrated Christ's birth!  

Nativities in the native room
  The international room
 Home Sweet Home room

PSS:  Alaska is playing a trick on us--instead of below-freezing temperatures, we have had this crazy warm, rainy weather, which then freezes at night resulting in the entire surface of Alaska being covered in a thick layer of ice skating rink.  Tracting is quite the experience to say the least.  Pray for us!!  

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Monday, December 4, 2017

Tim's Baptism


Another week!  Quick update!

Tuesday, we had Tim's baptism.  Such a sweet experience!  His friends that originally invited him and his family to church flew up from Utah just for his baptism.  It was such a special experience.  Everything went super smoothly.  At the very end of the service, we were able to sing the song, "Families Can Be Together Forever."  As we were singing, I looked at Tim's sweet family--his wife who was baptized just a couple months ago and his three adorable kids--and in that moment I was just so thankful for this wonderful Gospel and knowledge that we have of the Plan of Salvation that we can live with our families for eternity.   

 Baptism Day--Tim Gruenes, his wife and three children!

We were able to teach the Plan of Salvation twice this week, and what an amazing plan that God has created.  I have been thinking a lot about the plan and the peace that it brings in knowing where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going.   As we were teaching this principle to some of our investigators, who have thought about these questions a lot before, it was so cool to see the peace that overcame them.  Hearing the plan just clicked with them!  It is such a wonderful plan that truly comes from a living, loving Heavenly Father who wants nothing more for us than to return to live with Him again. 

We have been doing a lot of finding, and it has been amazing to see the Lord's hand in it all.  Whether it is through tracting, former investigators, or part-member families, we have seen so many miracles.  There are some incredible people here that I surely do love, and they have made me very thankful that I have been called to serve in this area.  

 Birthday Bash for Sister Wilden!  Sisters (L to R)--Sister Fa'anunu, Yeates, Johnson, me, Burdick, Wilden, and Kimball

I want to share one of my favorite scriptures from this week.  I have been reading in 2 Nephi 2:2 lately, which states:

Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.  

Leading up to this verse, and following this verse, Lehi is talking to his sons and basically giving them his last words before he dies.  Through it all, he shares his testimony with them.  I love this verse because as I have been reading the story of Lehi and his family this last time, I have been amazed at their faithfulness and obedience to the Lord.  They were not asked to do an easy thing whatsoever when they were told to leave Jerusalem.  That was a trial in and of itself, and they had no idea that trials would keep on coming, but through it all they continued to do what the Lord asked of them.  They were given trials, but Lehi saw these trials that we endure can be turned into our benefit.  He didn't see them as bad things, but I feel like he truly understood that those trials and afflictions they exprienced were the Lord's way of helping them learn, grow, and become stronger.  

Elder Richard G. Scott, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said it best, and explained that God provides us with challenges that are designed to help us grow spiritually:  "Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously.  When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more (see Proverbs 3:11-12).  He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit.  To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain."  

Heavenly Father is aware of us and exactly what we need.  He loves us, He knows our potential, and He will help us reach the potential that we have.  I have such a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and know that its words contain the word of God.  This knowledge truly brings peace, direction, and healing into our lives, and I encourage all of us to take our beloved prophet Thomas S. Monson's invitation to read from the book daily. 

I love you all!  Love, Sister McKenna Lake
Alaska Anchorage Mission

 Carrots anyone?  (P.S. Alaska's carrots truly are the best carrots ever--don't know why!)
 Alaska all wrapped up in one picture!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Monday, November 27, 2017

White Thanksgiving?


I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

P-day was so fun.  We were able to go and spend time with the other two sets of sisters out in the valley and go up to Hatchet Pass, one of my favorite places when I was being trained.  We were also able to have our last lesson with our investigator before his baptism tomorrow!  We are so excited for him!

Having fun on P-day with two other sets of sisters traveling to Hatchet Pass 
 Beautiful Hatcher Pass--(L to R)--Sisters Burdick, Dunlop, Melton, and me

Sister Lake and her companion, Sister Kimball

The following day we had exchanges, and I was able to go with Sister Burdick.  It was so fun and we had some incredible experiences.  We had dinner with a less-active, part-member family, and it was AMAZING.  First off, we had a huge salad bar for dinner, so what more could I ask for, right?!  And then we started talking, and they are some of the most amazing people.  We shared a little spiritual thought, and they shared some of their thoughts.  The non-member then opened up so much and talked about the Holy Ghost in his life and how he has felt it so much recently.  This Gospel is truly incredible!

The following evening, we exchanged back and Sister Kimball and I were able to bring one of the Laurels with us and drop off some Thanksgiving baskets.  It was really fun.  I surely love the youth.  I love bringing them with us and just watching as they get so excited for missions because a mission truly has been one of the best decisions I have made, and I wouldn't trade it for anything!

 Visiting homes with the youth
 Serving food with cute hairnets 

We woke up the next morning to a white Thanksgiving, haha!  We had multiple dinner appointments, got filled with some amazing food, and stopped at houses to visit people throughout the day that didn't have anyone to celebrate with.  It was such a happy day!  I'm so thankful I will be on a mission during the holiday season; it is one of my favorite parts!

Sunday came and ended this week on such a good note!  We had the craziest/busiest Sunday ever, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.  We went to Ward Council early that morning, and it was so good.  Then we headed to our first ward, and it was so good too.  We were able to visit all of the classrooms and share/introduce the new "Light the World" initiative with everyone.  Everybody got so pumped about the new program and about missionary work...Miracles are coming!  We went to our next ward that afternoon and the same thing happened.  We were asked by the Priesthood, Relief Society, Primary, and Young Men to share the "Light the World" initiative and explain what it is and how we can invite others to be involved, too.  We could just feel the excitement and love for the work, AND for this wonderful Gospel from the amazing members.  

Here is the link for the video and calendar:
Seriously, watch it because it is so worth it.  

I remember so clearly last holiday season as we shared this with many different people of many different faiths, and how excited they got,  They loved the idea of all coming together and serving others.  This is such an amazing message and tool we have to bring the light of Christ into others' lives this holiday season.

The initiative goes right along with what I have been thinking a lot about/studying a ton about, and that is about Christ and His attributes.  One of my favorite scriptures is Moroni 7:45-47:

45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  

46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth.  Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail--

47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

The Light the World initiative invites us all to become more like our Savior Jesus Christ by following his perfect example this Christmas season and showing charity to others through service to them.  Christ is our perfect example of charity and service to others, and my favorite part about this scripture is replacing the word "Charity" with "Christ":

45 And Christ suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  

46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not Christ, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth.  Wherefore, cleave unto Christ, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail--

47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

I think it truly shows our Savior Jesus Christ and the amazing attributes He has.  The type of person He is, and how much He truly loves us.  "If ye have not Christ, ye are nothing, for Christ never faileth."  He will never fail us.  As we strive to become more like Him and make Him the center of our lives, we will find the power and strength to do whatsoever things we have been asked to do.  With Christ on our side, we can do anything.  It brings me so much peace and hope knowing that I have a savior who will never fail me, and what an amazing message we have to share with others.  I love this Gospel so much.  I love being a missionary, and I love the new "Light the World" initiative.  Everyone, go look at it and share it with anyone and everyone!

Have such an amazing week!
Love, Sister Lake
Anchorage Alaska Mission

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Facebook mission!

We are now a Facebook mission.  It has been so cool to see how the Lord is using technology to His advantage to further this amazing work and bring the Gospel to SO many!  We are still trying to get used to it, but can already see what a blessing it will be.  

We had Zone Conference this week where we received training on using the technology and learned all about the tools we have been given.  It was sooo good to see President and Sister Toone, and had interviews with them afterwards.  I surely do love them.

 Zone Conference

We had a really cool experience about a week ago.  We had received a media referral and were so excited.  We had church all day but planned on stopping by the referral's home later that evening.  We searched for the house address and couldn't find it, so we gave the referral's number a call.  As we called the number, Sister Moffit's (the mission secretary) name appeared with the number.  So, long story short, she gave us a call and said that her son was trying out his new referral app to see if it worked!  He made up a random street and address that just so happened to be in our area.  We had a good laugh, and we told her we were searching for the address last night.  We figured though that we were sent there for a reason, so we decided to tract the road.  

We started tracting and literally not a single person opened the door.  We felt like we needed to just do one more block and then head to our next appointment.  We knocked on a few more doors and still no one answered until we started walking up to the very last house on the block.  Before we even got to the door, a lady opened the door and told us to come in!  We sat down with her and she said, "I have been watching you go from door to door and was just praying that you would come to mine.  I thought you wouldn't make it this far down, though."  It was so cool to hear those words!  We talked with her for a long time.  Long story short, she used to be a member but had her records removed.  She has wanted to come back but just didn't know how or where to go, and then we came along!  It was such a sweet experience.  She is an amazing lady and full of so much energy!  She came to church and the ward just welcomed her right in, and she loved it!  Our Heavenly Father truly does know where each and every one of his children are, and He knows perfectly what they need.

I'm out of time but want to leave you with a quote someone shared on Sunday, and a quick scripture that I love about being thankful.  

It is not happy people that are thankful, it is thankful people that are happy. 

Alma 26:37:  Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth.  Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever.  Amen.

I am so thankful for a loving Heavenly Father and Savior that loves each one of us, knows us individually, and has blessed us with the Restored Gospel on this earth.  I am thankful for the opportunity we have to communicate with Him through prayer, and that He hears and answers our prayers.  I am truly thankful for my Savior and his Atonement, and the peace, strength, and hope that it has brought into my life.  I am thankful for the opportunity I have to serve a mission here in Alaska.  I am grateful for my amazing family and the support and love they have shown me!  And, I am so thankful for the joy and happiness this Gospel brings, and this great season brings as we reflect on all of the amazing things Heavenly Father has blessed us with and given to us to be thankful for.  I hope you all have an amazing Thanksgiving.  

Love you all, Sister Lake

PS:  A quick, kinda funny story:  We got in the car Sunday morning and our heater was broken--it was 9 degrees outside!  We drove down the mountain hoping that as the car warmed up the heater would start working.  We came out of church and it was still broken.  Everything in the car was completely frozen, haha.  We drove around all evening in a car that was freezing and had snow and ice all over the floor.  Thankfully, at about 8 p.m. we figured we would try clearing the vents, and the heater started working again.  (I may or may not have gotten frost bite on my left foot?!)  What a blessing it is to even have a car, am I right?  My companion and I thought this was a tender mercy; all of the talks at church were on being thankful.    

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Monday, November 6, 2017

Transfer to Lazy Mountain and Cottonwood Wards


Whenever I think about the amazing miracles we saw last week with Tommy and his dad, it still puts the BIGGEST smile on my face.  There are people that the Lord has prepared all around us.  It's amazing to see new converts as they finally have the opportunity to accept the Gospel and the happiness that it brings into their lives.

Sister Cox, Sister Oliver, and I were on this little spiritual high after last Sunday, but, sadly, we had to say goodbye and go our separate ways after having the opportunity to pick up the new missionaries and spending their first two days with them.  This experience has been truly one of my favorite things to do because of the "greenie fire" and desire they have to go out and work their VERY hardest, which is so contagious.  It was such a fun day.  

The new missionaries flew in Halloween afternoon.  We had lunch and orientation, and then Sister Oliver and I dropped Sister Cox off with her new companion.  This was so sad to say goodbye to my companion of six months--so many good times with her!  Then, Sister Oliver and I went back and had dinner, a testimony meeting, and a "Welcome to Alaska" presentation with all the new missionaries.  We spent the night at the mission home and were able to have such a sweet experience.  All of the new missionaries were out in their assigned areas, but as a mission we have made it a goal to drop everything that we are doing when 9:45 PM comes along, fall on our knees, and pray together all at the same time wherever we might be in Alaska and the Yukon.  We pray to find our brothers and sisters that the Lord has prepared.  We have been doing this combined prayer for a couple of weeks now, and boy have we seen miracles come about, which has been amazing!  Anyway, Sister Oliver and I were able to kneel down with President and Sister Toone that evening, and Pres. Toone offered one of the sweetest, sincerest prayers I have ever heard--such a sweet experience.  I love them so much! 

 Last day with my favorite zone and best trio ever!

The next morning we got up, had studies, did companion study with them, and then headed to the church for some trainings and have the new missionaries meet their trainers.  So fun!  After that, we were able to spend some time with Sister Toone and just talk with her.  I then said goodbye to Sister Oliver and headed to my new area.  I am now serving in the Lazy Mountain and Cottonwood Wards with Sister Kimball!  I am SO excited.  The first few days have been awesome.  Wednesday, right after I arrived there, we went to visit some less activities, and decided to knock on a few doors around one of them.  We knocked on this one lady's door who was SO amazing.  We talked with her for about 15 minutes, and it was so good.  She invited us to come back to learn more.  She knew who we were and everything.  It made us both think of the talk this last conference that said along the lines that the good women of the world will flock to the church in the latter days.  

My new home--the cutest red barn ever!  (And, yes, it is officially winter!)

The following day, we stopped by some potential investigators.  When they opened the door, they were my old neighbors from my very first area!!!  We had had so many good talks.  He is a youth pastor and is such a nice person.  My trainer and I felt very strongly that we shouldn't do anything but just be nice, ask questions about how the work is going for him, and then casually bring up the Gospel.  That is exactly what we did for 4-1/2 months, but we always felt that at some point he would be ready to hear about the Restored Gospel.  So, he was ready because he set an appointment with us for Friday!  It made me SO HAPPY.  The Lord has such a wonderful plan!  

The next day, we stopped by a returning less active's home who just arrived back home from vacation and said, "My daughter and her finance are living here with me right now and would like to learn more about the church."  We had a lesson with them on Saturday and the spirit was SO strong!  One of them came to church the next day and LOVED it.  MIRACLES.

 Sister Kimball, Sister Storrs, and ferrets!

Sunday was probably one of the longest, but best days ever.  We were at church all day long.  I literally met hundreds of new people between our two wards, and all I can say is that I can already tell that I am going to LOVE it here.  The people are amazing!

We literally have seen so many miracles, and it is just the beginning.  Many good things are going to happen because the Lord is aware of these areas.  My companion is amazing and literally one of the funniest people I know.  I'm so thankful for Sister Kimball; she keeps life fun!  I just wish each of you were able to spend at least one hour with her because she would definitely help you reach your maximum amount of laughter for the day!  We both looked at each other two days after we became companions and after a series of tender mercies, and said, "Huh, it's weird.  It's like Heavenly Father knew that we needed to be here at this exact time in these exact areas with each other for some reason."  Heavenly Father's plan is SO GOOD.  I cannot even say this enough.  

One of my favorite scriptures found in Alma 26:

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?

Not only is this relatable to missionary work, obviously, butI have definitely been in the exact same position as Ammon and his brethren.  At the beginning of my mission I wouldn't have believed or even imagined all of the blessings I would witness, receive, and notice during my mission.  I look back now and am truly amazed at the Lord's hand in my life, my areas, the people I love, my family's life, and everyone around me.  It is truly amazing.  But, just like Ammon and his brethren, the beginning was NOT EASY.  It is just like when trials are thrown our way, at the very beginning it is hard.  It is hard to recognize the blessings and the Lord's hand through it all. But, looking back on every trial, we are able to truly see the Lord's hand the entire time, and see the blessings bestowed upon us as we exercise faith, rely on our Savior, and endure with a perfect brightness of hope in the Lord's plan for us.  I know that Heavenly Father has such an amazing plan for each and everyone of us.  It is not going to be easy.  There will be bumps in the road, but if we trust in our Heavenly Father's love and plan He has for each of us, and do the things He has asked, everything will work out.  Recognize those blessings each and every day, and hold onto them.  Just remember that the Lord is aware of you.  I love this Gospel.  I love the hope and peace that it truly brings.  I love the knowledge it give us and the guidance that knowledge brings.

Thank you for the many prayers.  I love and appreciate you all very much!

Love, Sister McKenna Lake

 When you step in bear poop!!!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

Week of Miracles!!!

I truly don't even know where to begin.  This week has been one of the most incredible weeks I have ever had.  I just want to start off by saying, "I LOVE this Gospel, and I LOVE being a missionary, and I LOVE my Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ so much!  They are truly a part of our lives and are so involved in this great work.  God is a god of miracles, and He truly hears and answers our prayers.  The Book of Mormon is TRUE, and so powerful, and as we put our trust in Heavenly Father He will prepare a way for all things.

This email is a long, but definitely one worth reading, I PROMISE!

We had such an amazing experience with our investigator Tommy this past week.  We have been teaching Tommy for about five weeks.  He is in the Bush Branch, and he lives in a village called Teller, which is about 70 miles north of Nome.  We have been meeting with him over the phone every week about three times a week.  He is truly one of the most humble and most prepared people I have ever taught.  When there were elders up in Nome, they had tracted him and given him a Book of Mormon.  The elders were taken out shortly afterwards, and we received the referral.  

The first time we called him we asked how reading was going, and he was in 2 Nephi.  We were so excited and completely blown away!  We started meeting with him multiple times per week and started teaching the discussions.  He took everything in and had so much faith.  He had prayed about the Book of Mormon and the things we taught him, and he knew that they were true.  

We invited him to be baptized on October 28, and he said YES!  We continued with the discussions, and one of the most incredible lessons we had with him was about the Word of Wisdom.  We went over what the Word of Wisdom was, and after we asked him if he had any comments, questions, or thoughts, and if he was willing to live it, he said, "I didn't know that God didn't want us to drink coffee, but it makes sense.  I will stop."  That was it!  All he needed was to know that God has asked us not to drink coffee, and that was enough for him to go from seven cups a day to zero!  HOW AMAZING IS THAT?  Can you even believe the FAITH he has?  It was such a humbling lesson for me, seeing how willing he was to be obedient to the things that Heavenly Father asks.  

We continued to teach him and ended up having to push his date back a week so that he could attend Sacrament meeting three times.  With stake conference and General Conference, we didn't have Sacrament meeting for two weeks.  We were getting close to finishing up the lessons two Saturdays ago when he said, "Oh, I forgot to tell you, but I just found out that I will be in Anchorage for a week because my dad needs to have surgery.  I fly in tomorrow!"  WE GOT SO EXCITED!  The Bush Branch is amazing but sometimes it's hard not ever having the opportunity to meet the contacts in person.  So, whenever people fly in, it is SO MUCH fun.

Anyway, we were able to go and visit him Monday night.  It was so good to meet him in person, and he was exactly what I expected him to look like.  We sat and talked and talked and talked some more about the Gospel and Book of Mormon reading.  He was in the middle of Alma and just loving it!  While we were talking, his dad came downstairs and waived at us with the biggest smile.  He came and sat down with us, and, long story short, we asked him if he wanted to learn more about the things his son has come to know is true, and he said, "YES!"  This was such an amazing and powerful experience!  The spirit was so strong.  His father's surgery went well the following day, and we continued to meet with them.  

With the next lesson, our branch president and his wife joined us.  We felt prompted to read from 3 Nephi 17.  We were a little confused as to why, but as we were reading, we understood exactly why.  The spirit totally led the conversation and was exactly what Tommy and his dad needed to hear.  One of my favorite parts was while we were discussing the peace our Savior Jesus Christ can bring into our lives during tough times, Tommy brought up and said word for word the story in 1 Nephi 7 when Laman and Lemuel tied up Nephi.  Just sitting there, realizing his love for the Book of Mormon and how much he just lights up as he talks about it, made me realize the power of the Book of Mormon.  After the lesson, Sister Cox said, "I have been a member my whole life and couldn't tell you that story of Laman and Lemuel if I tried."  So cool to see the impact the Book of Mormon has.  The spirit was SO strong.  

As we continued with the lesson, though, we started talking about the logistics for his baptism on November 4.  There is no building where he lives, much less a font; It's a village of 200 people.  The water outside is frozen over this time of year, and it's super expensive to fly.  We were trying to figure out how we can make his baptism happen because he wanted to be baptized so badly and was so ready.  We had thrown out a couple of ideas and planned on just bringing up a portable baptismal font (Yes, those are a real thing; they have used the font before in this branch.), but left with the intent to keep praying about it.  We wanted him to get baptized here, but he was leaving early Saturday morning.  We continued to pray, and the very next day we received the answer to our prayers.  He called and said, "We have extended our stay until Tuesday because my dad needs another surgery.  MIRACLES...and this was the first of many!!!  

After that, we felt like he needed to get baptized here in Anchorage on Sunday.  We talked with him, and he felt the same way.  So, within 24 hours we were able to make all of the arrangements for his baptism the following day.  He had his interview and did incredible.  We made a program, filled the font, somehow managed to do it in the middle of three wards that day (miracles in and of itself--the members are very understanding!), and everything was good to go.  There is no way the baptism at the baptism should have happened, but the Lord's hand was in every second of it.  Everything came together so smoothly and happened perfectly.  I know that our Heavenly Father was looking out for us and was so happy for Tommy.

On Sunday at noon, right after church, Tommy was baptized, confirmed, and ordained to the office of a Priest.  I have never felt the spirit stronger than in that tiny room where 20 of us were crammed int.  I don't even have words to describe how I felt.  Pure joy and happiness filled my heart as he entered the waters of baptism, but especially as he received the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Such an amazing experience and miracle to witness.


The rest of the day Tommy had THE BIGGEST SMILE on his face and had this amazing light about him.  His dad was there the entire day, and I know he felt the spirit.  The sisters will be able to start teaching him and his family.  HOW COOL!  The weeks was so amazing, filled with many miracles.  I was very humbled to see God's glorious plan He had for Tommy unfold in front of us.  He is very aware of each of His children, which just amazes me every day.  I love Tommy, and I love this wonderful and glorious Gospel SO MUCH!  It truly is the source of pure happiness and joy, and Tommy was the perfect example of that this week.

Also, another cool thing...the elder that tracted Tommy up in Nome was able to baptize and confirm him.  Tommy called and asked Elder Sanchez if he would baptize him.  The phone was on speaker when he asked him, and Elder Sanchez's reaction was PRICELESS.  He was so happy.  He is such an incredible missionary, and it made me happy that he was able to witness the fruits of his amazing labors.  Such a special moment!

 Tommy with his father and Elder Sanchez!

A couple more things this past week...I was able to return to my first area, Memory Lake, and see the amazing people there and work with the incredible sisters.  I visited so many friends that I love who hold a special place in my heart.  One of those people is Bobby Smith.  He was the blind and partially deaf bull rider that we worked a ton on to quit smoking.  In just a couple of weeks, he will be going through the temple for his first time.  So amazing!!  He told me that it has been almost an entire year since he has had a cigarette.  MIRACLES!!  The sisters are doing some incredible work there.  

 BOBBY D and his present that he has waited nine months to give me.  He knows I love American flags!

I was also able to see Susie and Lonnie, which was a result of a tracting miracle.  They are preparing to go through the temple as well!  It was sooo good to be back and see many people that I love.  

 Susie and Lonnie

We also received transfer calls.  Sadly, I will be leaving, along with Sister Cox.  I will be going to the Lazy Mountain Ward, as well as the Cottonwood Ward.  We will be "pinkwashing" the Cottonwood Ward, which means replacing the elders there, and I am so excited.  Sister Kimball is my new companion, and she is awesome!  I am so sad to leave this amazing area, and people, and my amazing companions!  Truly so sad!!

 Last district tract!

Sister Dunlop and Sister Yeates

RIP district leader Lewis

Just a quick thought, though.  I have been reading and studying 3 Nephi this last week (favorite book in the B of M), and I want to share two of my favorite verses from Chapter 15:

 9.  Behold, I am the law, and the light.  Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.

17.  The other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Our Savior Jesus Christ LOVES us and is so aware of us.  Verse 17 has really stuck out to me this past week as I have watched Tommy come unto the fold.  I know that our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ were so aware of him and brought him, and soon his family, unto the fold.  And then in verse 9, when Christ says, "Look unto me and endure," He is our most perfect example, and He is there with His arm outstretched.  It is through our Savior Jesus Christ and His atonement that we are able to truly endure to the end and receive eternal life.  He loves us and wants us to come unto him.  How amazing is that...knowing that we have a loving savior who invites us to come unto him and endure to the end?

Anyway, I love you and know that the Book of Mormon is powerful.  Please read it each and every day.  Have such a great week!  I love you all!

Sister McKenna Lake
Anchorage Alaska Mission

The Mannings!  Our ward mission leader from the Bush Branch.  I finally got to meet him in person...six months later!!!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sisters Conference


First off, it snowed this week; winter is officially here.  Pray for me!!!

We had Sisters' Conference Tuesday and Wednesday.  Tuesday was full of trainings, and we ended the night with dinner and a testimony meeting--one of the most spiritual days.  There were some amazing trainings, and we ended our incredible day on such a spiritual high with one of the most powerful testimony meetings I have ever sat in.  I sat there all day just realizing how much I LOVE these sisters.  I was literally filled with so much love for each and everyone of them, and for such a loving Heavenly Father who knew exactly what I needed at the exact time I needed it.  

 Sister Jimenez and all of her companions

 Sweet reunion!

I thought about, and realized a lot that day, how aware my Heavenly Father is of me, and how He knows me individually.  I thought back to my experience of coming on my mission.  I had it all planned out.  I was going to leave right when I turned 19.  I opened my papers and everything, but just felt like I needed to wait a little longer.  A couple of months went by, and I finally received an answer that it was the right time.  Sitting there with all of the sisters and reflecting on my mission a little, I realized why I needed to wait a little longer.  The experiences I had at home during that time was what I needed; they helped me learn and grow so much.  But, also being here at this time with mission presidents, and these sisters, and the incredible people I have met and taught, was exactly why I needed to wait a little longer.  At the time, I was so confused why I couldn't just go on my mission, and why I had to wait, but it all makes so much sense.  I'm truly grateful for such a loving Heavenly Father who knows me personally.

 The entire Anchorage Alaska Mission Sisters!

Wednesday, we got to party!  We were able to go to the temple early that morning and then go on a beautiful hike.  The sisters from all over the mission flew in--first time since I have been out that all the sisters have been together!  It was so much fun.  I have lots of pictures for y'all!  It was so fun to see old companions, and good friends!

 All the sister missionaries on a hike
 The best sister missionary trio the world has ever seen!!!
 My blonde-haired, McKenna-named, hippie-loving twin
 My two favorite greenies, except they're not greenies anymore--3 months old!
 The trio with Sister Toone, Pres. Toone's wife

We trained about partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Life, which is the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  God loves us so much that He sent His only begotten son.  Because of Him, we have the opportunity to become better, He can help and heal us, and we can be saved.  It is the most desirable thing we could have in this life.  Nothing in the world compares to the joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and what it brings.  I love my Savior and am very grateful for Him.  (See 1 Nephi 8, 11) It was such an amazing topic to study and talk about.  There is so much power that comes from the Atonement of Jesus Christ and is essential to our everyday life, and has been essential to mine as a missionary each and every day.  My dad shared with me some of his thoughts about the Tree of Life last week, and something he said that I loved was, "It's not by chance, there is no chance in it.  It is a part of His grand design."  

We had some awesome lessons, and once again, saw so many miracles.  We were weekly planning and got to the section where we are supposed to make plans to find new investigators.  Out of nowhere a former investigator called us.  He said that he is ready to begin meeting again!  He had just run into our mission president down in King Salmon and was reminded of the happiness the Gospel truly brings in his life.  SO COOL.  We were also able to contact some other investigators and set up appointments with them as well!  SO BLESSED!!!

There was a Bush Branch fireside on Friday night in King Salmon.  We weren't able to attend, but we called in and so did four of our investigators!  Our mission president was able to travel to King Salmon and speak to them.  It was one of the largest Bush Branch gatherings there has ever been, and there were only 30 people in attendance.  It was so cool, and President and Sister Toone did AMAZING.

I'm out of time, but I love this Gospel.  I know this church is true because of many prayers and experiences where I have felt the spirit testify of the truthfulness of this wonderful Gospel.  I have also felt of the amazing love that my Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ have for me.

Love you all!

Love, Sister Lake!
P.S.  Sister Cox and I got to cruise around in Bertha, aka the mission van, for a few days! 

 Cruising around in Bertha (aka, the mission van) for a few days!!!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday, October 23, 2017

Weekly!  (from 2 weeks ago)

Quick update!  It has been one of the fastest weeks of my mission, and such an incredible week!  

We started our week off with flying to Fairbanks.  We were able to spend P-day with the zone up there, and then we all split off. I had the opportunity to go back to North Pole for three days and work with the sisters there!  It was so fun getting to see the incredible work they are doing.  They are amazing sisters, and it was such a privilege having the opportunity to work with them.  We saw so many miracles, including finding some awesome new potential investigators.  I was also able to visit with many people that I just loved and miss so much.  Such a sweet reunion!

 North Pole with the North Pole sisters!

Throwback--Sisters Cox and Lake served together in North Pole and visit six months later

  Pam and Gerome, my favs!!
We arrived home Wednesday evening just in time for a lesson with our investigator, Cara.  What an incredible lesson!!  We had planned on talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but as we started talking with her we felt prompted to read with her from the Book of Mormon and help her see how it applies to her life.  We read from 2 Nephi 31 (one of my favorite chapters) and read about the Gospel.  As we were reading, we had such a good discussion with her, and it really helped her understand how the teachings apply to her.  One of her favorite verses from the chapter was: 

2: Wherefore, the things which I have written sufficeth me, save it be a few words which I must speak concerning the doctrine of Christ; wherefore, I shall speak unto you plainly, according to the plainness of my prophesying.

3: For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding.

As I was thinking about that, i realized how cool that was and how cool it must be for people that are new to the Gospel to hear those words.  He speaks to us in a way that WE can understand, and the things he speaks are very plain.  That brings me so much comfort and peace in knowing that our Heavenly Father knows us individually and knows exactly what we need to hear AND how we need to hear it.  It makes me realize how individually he loves each of his children!  Also, how simple His Gospel is!  Yes, living the Gospel seems hard sometimes, but really it is so simple.  The chapter goes on and talks about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, faith repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  Oh, how I love the Gospel so much!

Thursday, we hopped in the car and headed for a little place called Hope Junction--coolest place ever!  It is located halfway from Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula (the most beautiful drive imaginable!), and we met the Soldotna sisters there.  Sister Cox went tracting with them for a couple of days, and then Sister Oliver and I headed back to Anchorage to go on exchanges with the sisters there.  One of the reasons why I love being in a trio is that the car rides are 10x more fun!  It was such a party.  

Sister Bentley
I went on exchanges with Sister Bentley in her area, and we saw many miracles!  She is such a stellar missionary and literally the funniest person ever!  I felt like it was just yesterday that I picked her up at the airport, and now she is almost done being trained!  Time flies so fast!  We had such a good time, found some solid new people to teach, and taught some awesome lessons!  The biggest miracle of the day, though---we went to teach an investigator of theirs who is 11, and her family is all less active.  Her baptismal date is Nov. 4.  As we were driving there she shared with me how she just doesn't feel good about the baptismal date.  She thinks she is just going to be baptized into less activeness like her parents.  The missionaries and members have asked her parents to come to church 1000 times, and they keep saying, "No."  

Anyway, long story short, I asked her what she felt like was needed for her to be totally prepared to be baptized because she has a testimony and strong desire to be baptized, yet she doesn't have much support!  Sister Bentley said if her parents would start coming then it would be totally okay because she would have that support at home!  We talked about the lesson and felt prompted to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, prayed, went in to her home and had the most AMAZING lesson ever.  

We asked the mom, who was a convert, about her baptism day, and then at the very end of the lesson she said out of nowhere that she has been feeling like something has been missing in her life, and during this lesson she realized it was church.  She was so sincere!  She brought her daughter and the whole family to church on Sunday for the first time in forever!  She has started reading the scriptures and praying again--SUCH A MIRACLE!  The Lord hears and answers prayers!

We exchanged back, headed back down to Hope Junction, and picked up Sister Cox!  Boy, oh boy, do I love my companions, I love going on exchanges, and I love all the sisters, but it is always so good getting back with my comps!!

 My companions, best trio ever!

I love you all!  I love this Gospel!  I love my Savior Jesus Christ, and I love my Heavenly Father.  This church is true.  The Book of Mormon is the word of God and truly fills our lives with happiness and peace.  Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God.  Missionary work is so important, and I love the work so much!  Have such a good week!

Oh, I totally forgot to share one of the coolest experiences!  I FINALLY MET ANGIE PITSENBARGER, which was one of the coolest experiences.  I had the privilege of teaching her over the phone since she lives in the Bush Branch area.  She was baptized not too long ago, and I finally was able to meet her as she traveled through Anchorage.  She is one of the most incredible people I have ever taught, and it was so fun finally getting to meet her in person.  She is such an amazing person with such a powerful testimony and love for this wonderful Gospel.  She has been such an amazing example to me.  

 The trio with ANGIE Pirsenbarger!!!

Love, Sister Lake
Alaska Anchorage Mission

 Brother Garza

 Sister Cox and I surprised Sister Hardt!

 Fresh mountain water and BEAUTIFUL Alaska!!!