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!!!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Monday, October 2, 2017


Here's a quick little update!  This last week has been SO good!  It was a week full of miracles, strengthening of my testimony, and some incredible training, talks, and experiences in general.

We started the week out with exchanges with the Jewel Lake sisters.  I was able to go with Sister Johnson and stay in my area.  First off, she is just one incredible missionary.  She is one of the smartest sisters I know, and she knows her stuff--seriously impressed!  We had some awesome experiences, saw many miracles, and had many people placed in our path that the Lord has prepared.  We were able to teach a few of them about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration and have return appointments this week.  One of them even said to us, "Could I have one of your books and learn more?"  It was so awesome and definitely saw those exchange miracles!

I also learned a huge lesson that day--that the Lord leads us and guides us in this work as long as we listen and act upon the promptings of the spirit.  Silly, cause I'm a missionary and you would think I would have learned this by now, but this last week I truly realized with complete confidence how the spirit works with me.  I have never quite felt I knew exactly how He worked with me, or how to tell the difference between a prompting and a thought.  Tuesday was the clearest I have ever experienced receiving those promptings, and they led us and guided us all day.  It was AMAZING.  This is the Lord's work, and we truly cannot do it without the spirit.  He is there to help us every step of the way if we are just willing to listen and realize we cannot do it without Him!

We also had an incredible lesson with our investigator, Tommy, and I am going to share a little bit of what I shared with my president in my weekly to him:
 What an incredible week it has been!  I have had some of the most amazing experiences and answers to my prayers this week, as well as seen so many tender mercies and the Lord's hand in this work.  I just want to share a few:  The Lord's hand is clearly in the work and has blessed us so much the last couple of weeks in the Bush Branch.  We have received some awesome referrals of people that are truly prepared by the Lord at this time to receive the restored Gospel.  We have had some incredible lessons and experiences where my testimony that Heavenly Father is aware of each of his children grow by leaps and bounds.  

We had three lessons this last week with our investigator, Tommy.  As we started teaching, he was very quiet and hesitant to answer questions and participate, but as we got further into the restoration something changed, and he just seemed to light up as we started talking about Jesus Christ and His earthly ministry.  Tommy bore his simple but truly sincere testimony of Jesus Christ to us, and the spirit was very strong.  This just made me realize in that moment how central our Savior Jesus Christ is to everything--how much He truly loves us, how important and possible it is to have that relationship with Him, and the peace and happiness that comes into our lives because of Him.

As we continued with the lesson, that light about him grew even more as we talked about Joseph Smith and the role he played, and the experiences he had.  Up to this point, Tommy had been reading the Book of Mormon and loved it, prayed about it and always had a good feeling as he read it, and was reading every single day.  As we asked him what he thought of the experience Joseph Smith had and his feelings as he heard the First Vision, Tommy went on to tell us Joseph Smith's life from the age of 14 until the day he received the plates.  Tommy shared with us about the times Joseph was visited by angels, and as he continued to share with us his story, he bore testimony of him and the incredible man he was.  It was amazing to hear someone who had no clue about the restored Gospel, or the Book of Mormon just a month ago, to truly loving something so much and having it become so near and dear to him.  

We invited him to be baptized, and he happily agreed.  As we had more lessons with him the following week, Tommy grew more and more excited, and the light just continued to increase.  He truly loves this Gospel and has embraced it.  It has been so amazing to see and witness, and especially to feel the spirit so strong even over the phone.  This definitely is the Lord's work, and He is involved in every aspect.   
Tommy is one of the most incredibly prepared people I have ever met, and we are so excited for his baptism, and for him to follow Christ's example and receive the blessings of the Gospel.

We also had Zone Conference on Friday and then, obviously, were able to listen to General Conference this weekend.  So, I was on a little bit of a spiritual high for three straight days!  There were many incredible talks, counsel, and advice that was given.  I couldn't help but think about how truly blessed we are to have leaders of this church, and especially our beloved prophet.   

I have so many thoughts from Conference that I am still trying to organize, but one thing I absolutely loved was how often the phrase "COME UNTO ME" or "COME FOLLOW ME" was said.  We were invited multiple times to come unto our Savior Jesus Christ and continue on our journey home.  He loves us so much!  Our Heavenly Father wants nothing more than for us to make it home to Him, and it is through our Savior Jesus Christ that we can--

"We're all just walking each other home."

Okay, love you all, and I LOVE the Gospel and the mission, and our prophet and leaders that are so truly inspired!  Have such a good week.  

Sorry, I have to run,

Sister McKenna Lake
Anchorage Alaska Mission

More pictures from September 25th:

 Visit from General Authority, Elder Brad Foster, and his wife

 Lydie Mattson's baptism

Monday, September 25, 2017

Monday, September 25, 2017

3 X the Party


Now that's out of the way--a little about the incredible week we had!  We were involved in all the new missionary meetings both Tuesday and Wednesday, which is always such a cool experience.  This is an opportunity that I look forward to at the end of each transfer to receive that reboot of energy and fire that I need that is contagious from the new missionaries.  They all come out here so excited to go and just work the hardest they have every worked, baptize all of Alaska, and just be the best missionaries they can be.  It is truly contagious, and I LOVE IT!

After all of the new missionaries received their trainers and headed to their new areas, we picked up Sister Oliver, and the long-awaited trio finally happened!  It has been a straight party ever since Wednesday at 5:30, maybe a little bit too much of a party, haha!!  We had dinner and meetings all night, and then we were able to meet with our mission president the following morning and go over our transfer calls.  First off (quick side note), President and Sister Toone might possibly be some of my favorite people ever.  They are absolutely incredible and just have so much love for us missionaries.  They know how to have fun, yet work SO hard!  Seriously, we just sat there and had such a good meeting, and then just laughed our guts out.  Such amazing people!!!  

 My Homies, Sister Oliver and Cox

Sister Cox, Sister Oliver and I are blessed to be able to travel around the mission this transfer and work with every single companionship of sisters, as well as still work double with the ones we are over.  We will be separated quite a bit but are so excited for the opportunity to do this, which means that I get the incredible opportunity to go and work for a couple of days with the sisters in my previous areas, North Pole and Memory Lake.  I am really excited to see the amazing work they are doing there, and to see some of the people that are so near and dear to my heart.  We are also very excited and looking forward to really getting to know all of the sisters, and to have the opportunity to see the amazing work they are doing all over Alaska.

We were able to attend Lydie Mattson's baptism on Friday.  She is one of my favorite little girls that I have met here.  The baptism service was one of the the sweetest baptisms I have been to, and the spirit was SO strong.  She is always looking for ways to share the Gospel with her friends and is always teaching them about it.  She decided that when she passed out her cupcakes for her birthday to her class that she would pass out invitations for her baptism as well.  The room was filled with all of her friends and classmates that just love her and were SO excited for her.  It was cool to feel of the spirit and to know that many of them there had never felt something quite like that, and to see how it impacted their lives.  She is such an incredible example to me, so kind to all around her, always looking for opportunities to share the Gospel, AND she is only eight!!  She has touched my life so much.

One of my favorite things the spirit does is testify of truth, and those moments where the spirit comes on strong out of nowhere...you just know without a doubt that it is true.  I had a cool experience like that at her baptism on Friday.  As her dad laid his hands upon her head and conferred the Gift of the Holy Ghost, I was thinking about what the many non-members there were thinking.  In that moment it all clicked and the spirit testified so strongly that the Priesthood authority, the same Priesthood authority our Savior, Jesus Christ, received is restored to this earth, and that this is the true church restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.  I can't even begin to describe it, and I know that everyone in that room could feel of that same spirit.  IT WAS SO COOL.  All I can say is this Gospel is true! 

We also had a really cool opportunity to serve at the "Welcome to Anchorage" event on Saturday where they celebrated the many different cultures here, and it was an incredible experience.  We were able to talk with so many people and a local group of LDS children had the opportunity to sing, "I Am A Child of God" in Samoan and Tongan, and it was absolutely incredible!  The second

they started singing the song, everything became quiet, and once again the spirit was so strong.  People just stopped what they were doing and listened.  Such a powerful message to share with so many people!

 "Welcome to Anchorage" service project

Lastly, some miracles from the week:  We had an incredible lesson with our investigator, Diana.  She is AMAZING and so prepared.  It is always amazing finding and teaching someone that the Lord has prepared so well.  She is awesome and just loves everything about the Gospel!  We have another lesson with her today, and we are very excited!  

We also received SIX solid, progressing investigators this week.  They were all referrals, and they are incredible.  They just came one right after another on Friday, and DANG, biggest blessing ever!  The work is going so well!  I love my companions, and this area, the mission in general, this amazing Gospel, our prophet and apostles, the fact that Conference is this week, and the women's session this last weekend!  I am just thankful for the blessings the Gospel brings and the peace it brings during tough times.

On that note, yesterday was Fast Sunday.  This past week I have had so many thoughts going through my head.  I literally have felt like my mind has been running a thousand miles per hour.  My emotions have been all over the place and I just couldn't seem to relax and think clearly all week.  And, so Fast Sunday came along, and the second I started my fast to the moment I ended it, my mind was completely clear.  As we were preparing a lesson that morning on fasting, the lesson talked about the blessings that come from fasting, and one of them was A CLEAR MIND!  This was such a huge blessing.  I was able to sit in church,  organize my thoughts, and receive so much guidance that I had been searching for.  I felt so much peace and was just overwhelmed with my Heavenly Father's love.  Fasting, coupled with prayer, brings so much power.  

I love this Gospel and am grateful for my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ who hear our prayers and silent pleadings.  I have such a strong testimony of fasting, and know that as we fast and exercise faith, we will receive those blessings, maybe not right away or in the way we think, but we will be blessed.  

Also, Women's Conference this weekend was incredible.  I have to share one of my favorite parts.  If you haven't listened to the broadcast yet, do so.  Something quick that I loved was Elder Uchtdorf's talk when he spoke about the Tree of Life and the path that leads to it.  He simply invited us that during tough times, or times when we are struggling, to stay on that path, to be glad and happy to look to the Tree of Life.  Just simply, look to the tree, turn to the Savior, rely on Him and his atonement in our behalf, have faith that He will lift you up and walk you along that path.  I am so grateful for such incredible prophets, apostles, and leaders in our church that are in tune with the spirit, and for the guidance and counsel they give.  

Hope you have a stellar week.  Enjoy Conference!  Thank you for all that you do.

Love, Sister Lake
Anchorage Alaska Mission

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday, September 18, 2017


I am so sorry I have been slacking the last three weeks.  We have been trying to soak up every last ounce of this amazing Alaska summer before winter comes, which means lots of adventuring and very little time emailing.  It has been SO fun and SO BEAUTIFUL.  I really can't even begin to explain how gorgeous it is up here.  I feel so blessed to be serving in such a beautiful place, with such amazing people.  I truly have never seen/been anywhere more beautiful.  I hope you all get to come experience it for yourself one day!  

On that note, we had such an awesome P-day!  We went to this hand tram on Monday up in the mountains that goes right over this huge gorge--slightly terrifying but absolutely breathtaking!  Here are some of the pics:

On the drive there, we were right on the coast the whole time and got to see like 20 beluga whales!  I WAS SO STOKED.

A really bad pic, but it's a beluga whale!

We also received transfer calls this week.  Sister Cox and I were terrified because we just weren't ready to leave each other quite yet, and luckily we are staying together as companions.  We are about to spend 1/3 of our mission together, and we couldn't be happier...and ever better, we are getting a third companion, SISTER OLIVER!!!  We are so EXCITED.  We love her, and she's our bestie, so we cannot wait.  We will have the opportunity to work with all the sisters in the mission, including the ones we are currently over.  

We had an amazing opportunity to have a general authority and his wife come visit our mission this week.  We had an awesome meeting with them on Tuesday, and then were able to meet with them again on Friday.  They have such powerful, firm testimonies of this Gospel, and it was incredible to see and witness.  They brought a lot for our mission and focused a ton on things that we could all improve on.  It was cool to see how the spirit directed them to exactly what this mission needed.  He kept saying a phrase that I absolutely loved.  It was, "The greater the agency, the greater the growth."  So simple yet so profound.  We are all given one of the greatest gifts, the Gift of Agency.  As we use our agency and choose the right, we grow so much.  We grown closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ, and our understanding of the Gospel and the principles are strengthened so much.  Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to return to live with Him again.  I have a strong testimony of that.  As we use our agency and make those decisions that draw us closer to our Savior and strengthen our relationship with our Heavenly Father, we will be extremely blessed.

We have seen SO many miracles this week as well.  Bush branch is poppin!  We got FOUR new referrals this week, and we are REALLY excited to start teaching them.  They are all solid!  And, most of them have been phoning into church the last couple of weeks and want to start meeting with the missionaries now!  We have a lesson with one of them tonight, so I will keep you updated!  It has just been really cool to see the Lord's hand in this work, especially here in Bush Branch.  We have no way of really finding, and the members are spread out literally all over Alaska, but the Lord is so aware of this branch and is blessing us so much.  It has been such a testimony builder that He hears and answers our prayers.  This is His work, and I am extremely thankful to be an instrument in His hands.

Oh, also!  We put Nanette on date for baptism on October 14tth!  She had expressed that she was at a crossroads and needed to make a decision at our last visit.  We were kind of blunt with her and told her that she just needed to make a commitment to a date and act on it.  She agreed to work towards the 14th, which is HUGE for her.  She's been meeting with missionaries off and on for years and has never committed to a date.  You can tell that the Holy Ghost has been working on her, and that she has finally allowed herself to listen and act upon those promptings!  

ALSO, we saw the biggest tender mercy on Saturday, THE NORTH POLE WARD WAS AT THE TEMPLE!!!  And, we got to see some of them.  It made us so happy, and they were confused as to why we were back together; they were really happy to see that we are back!

Okay, I'm going to end with my favorite scripture this week--3 Nephi 11:14-15:

14 Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.   
15 And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into His side, and did feel the prints of the nails in His hands and in His feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was He, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.   

I absolutely LOVE this scripture!  It is such a powerful witness of our Savior Jesus Christ and His atonement in our behalf.   It is another witness that the Book of Mormon truly is another testament of Christ and the love that He has for each of us.  Christ invited each person to come unto Him, and ONE BY ONE they went.  He loves us and knows us so personally, invites us all to come unto Him individually, and to have a personal relationship with Him.  Developing that relationship has been one of the greatest blessings and has helped me each and every day.  Take that invitation and come unto Him.  He loves us so much.

Love you all; thank you for all that you do!  Have such a good week!

Sister McKenna Lake
 Anchorage Alaska Mission