Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Monday, May 29, 2017

Weekly!

Hello!
We started the week off with exchanges with the Soldotna sisters!  They both came up to Anchorage, and I got to spend the day with Sister Cox.  It was so fun being back with her for a day.  It felt like we picked up right where we left off two months ago in North Pole, except it is a lot warmer now!  Haha  We saw a lot of little tender mercies and had the opportunity to talk to so many people.  Sister Cox has grown so much in the last two months, and it was so cool to see her progress.  


We had Zone Conference the following day, which is always good and makes me want to work much harder.  It was our last Zone Conference with President and Sister Robinson because their mission will be ending, which is really sad.  I'm surely going to miss them.  

We had a couple of awesome lessons later in the week, one with our investigator Troy.  It was a good lesson.  He can't quite wrap his head around the fact that he is a child of God, and that he has a Heavenly Father who loves him.  So, we told him that we're going to continue to work with him and try our best to help him understand his purpose here on this earth.  

After that lesson, I thought a lot about how the knowledge that I am a child of God has helped me, and it is the reason I am who I am.  This understanding has and continues to bring me so much peace and comfort in my life, especially during the hard times.  I realized how bad I want everyone to have that knowledge because of the peace and comfort it has brought into my own life.  

We then had an amazing lesson with probably one of the sassiest girls I have ever met--Kaeloni.  She lives in Chignick Bay (somewhere in the bush), and so it was over the phone.  I don't even know what she looks like, but I just love her so much.  She has so much sass and so much faith, it is incredible.  I look forward to our lessons with her every week.  She kind of reminds me of my little sister Brielle!  

Friday came and our area became like a ghost town; everyone and their dog left for Memorial Day weekend to go camping and fishing.  People here take every opportunity they can to go camping, so it went from this super busy town to literally what seemed like no one was home.  

We have been trying to go through the ward list and get to know everyone on it, and there have definitely seen so many tender mercies from that.  We're really focusing on getting to know the members and gaining their trust, as well as just finding people to have meaningful talks with.  I have so much faith that the Lord will put those people that are prepared in our path.  




Something that has been on my mind this week is the tender mercies we receive on a daily basis.  I want to share this experience I had when I first came on my mission  I had a really hard time at that time and was really struggling.  I remember talking to my mission president and just expressing some of my feelings and concerns, and what he said to me has changed my whole mission experience.  He invited me to, at the end of each day, look at the tender mercies that I had received along with the Lord's hand in my life, and record them.  He promised me that as I did I would know this was exactly where I needed to be and that the Lord was aware of me.  So, I did.  After the first few days my attitude changed so much!  I felt very happy.  

As I have gone through my mission and things start going good, I will sometimes stop recording those experiences, and then my mission starts getting hard again.  I realize that I have not been looking for the tender mercies each day, and I start back up again and the happiness and peace come into my life again.  Just this week I realized I had stopped and could feel the difference.  Once again, my testimony was solidified of the importance of recognizing the Lord's hand in our lives and the blessings we receive each day.  I know that as we do so we will know that we are not walking through this life alone.  

The Lord is there with us every step of the way and knows all that we are going through--the good and the bad.  He loves us and continues to bless us.  Sometimes the blessings may be small little things like the zone leaders giving us a watermelon this week on a day that I was really stressed; or it might be big miracles and blessings like the opportunity my mom had to attend one of the Alaskan members that I love get sealed to her husband in the Boise Temple.  Heavenly Father is aware of us, and He loves us more than we could ever imagine.

I love this Gospel and am thankful for the opportunity I have to be here.  This Church is so true!  We are all children of a living, loving Heavenly Father, and don't ever forget that!

Love, Sister McKenna Lake
Anchorage Alaska Mission

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

Back to Civilization!

Hello!
This has been probably one of the craziest weeks I have had in nine months, which started off with lots of really hard goodbyes.  Monday evening I went to some of my favorite people that I have had the opportunity to meet in North Pole and said my goodbyes.  It was so hard and made me realize how much I love the North Pole.  The people there are truly incredible.  I feel so thankful for the opportunity that I had to serve there.  I know I complained a lot about the weather and the cold, and, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I would do that winter all over again just for the awesome people up there.

We woke up the next morning and left for the airport, and, miracle of the week:  I had been so sick with allergies and the flu all week.  I went to bed that night still so sick and just prayed more than I have ever prayed to get feeling better, and I woke up the next morning fine as can be.  Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers!!  It was such a good flight, and I even became homies with the people I sat next to.  We had an awesome talk about religion.  We also flew right over Mt. McKinley.  The sky was so clear and it was absolutely beautiful!
Anyway, we landed, and I met my new companion, Sister Jackson (who is seriously just awesome--I just love her so much), and my trainer, Sister Johnson (so good to see her again) who came and picked me up.  We picked up my luggage and then went straight back to welcome the new missionaries--so fun, and I totally felt like I was just arriving in Alaska to begin my mission.  I then realized it has been NINE MONTHS and got so scared because time is flying by so quickly.  We were able to eat a welcome lunch with the new missionaries and then had a day full of appointments.    
The next morning after Sister Jackson, Sister Johnson, and I ate breakfast, we had personal study, and then comp study with all the new missionaries and Assistants to the President, which was so fun.  We then headed over to the church for some training and to help the missionaries get trainers, which was seriously so fun!!  Sister Cox and Sister Richards are both going to be trainers and are going to be incredible.  I am so excited for them, and it was awesome to see both of them!  I was able to be with 4/5 of my former companions again for a whole day!  I loved it!!  
The week has been a crazy week but such a good week.  We cover the Ocean View Ward, as well as the Bush Branch, which consists of all of the members that live in the really small villages all over Alaska.  It is so cool.  We teach them over the phone--Sacrament Meeting, classes, and Ward Council.  Sounds crazy, right?  That's what I thought, but honestly, it is one of the coolest experiences.  The Spirit is so strong.  The phone meeting is so well organized and just so cool to see the faith of these members.  A lot of them are the only members around and don't have contact with anyone but through the phone.  We were talking with this less active member we were working with who is so awesome!  He said to us, "You guys are the closest thing I have to civilization!"  Crazy, right?!  

We are heading to a baptismal interview soon, which is so exciting!  Life is good!  Sister Johnson volunteered me to speak on Sunday before I even arrived here soooo I spoke yesterday in church.  My fear of public speaking is still there, but my talk went really well.  I spoke on spiritual self-reliance and focused on personal scripture study and prayers every day, and studied Thomas S. Monson's talk from this last General Conference.  Go back and read it and do exactly what Pres. Monson says--so good.  [Here's the web address:]

 https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/04/kindness-charity-and-love?lang=eng

The Book of Mormon is true--no doubt about it!  As we read the book, 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.  

Anyway, I LOVE my mission, and I am so out of time.  I'm sorry if this letter makes no sense; I'll update you more on the people we're teaching next week.  I love you all, and hope you enjoy the wonderful summer! 

Love, Sister Lake
Anchorage Alaska Mission

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017

Adios, North Pole!

Hello!

First off, talking with the family on Mother's Day was the highlight of my week!!  I love and miss you all so much!  Second, I have made it my whole mission without getting too sick, up until this week, and the flu has gotten the best of me, so bear with me and my short email.  Also, packing is so stressful.  Who would have thought keeping our suitcases under 50 pounds would be so hard.  

Third, we received transfer calls this week, and I am heading to Anchorage to the Ocean View Ward.  I will also cover the Bush Branch.  The Bush Branch consists of the members all over Alaska that live in the little villages, and they call in for all their meetings.  I am so excited!  I fly out tomorrow morning, and get to spend a whole 24 hours with my mission mom (who was my trainer when I first arrived).  We get to pick up all the new missionaries coming in and do all that fun stuff.  AND, I get to see Sister Cox and Sister Richards again because they are going to be mothers!!!  I am so excited for them; their trainees are going to be the luckiest people ever!  The next few days will be exciting and crazy.  

[Just a little more explanation of what McKenna's new calling will be--She will be an STL (Sister Training Leader).] 

Fun panorama picture with the elders 

As excited as I am for this new adventure, I am so sad to be leaving the North Pole!  So sad!  It has been hard saying goodbye, especially to the ward.  I have grown to love this ward so much, and am very thankful for the opportunity I have had to serve here and meet the incredible people I have met.  I'm sorry the goodbye was a quick one.  I'll fill you in more next week.  


Saying goodbye to the wonderful ward members







 I love you all and I love this Gospel so much!  This Church is so true!! Have a great week.

Love, Sister Lake 

Sister Jimenez and Lake in disguise!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Monday, May 8, 2017

Tender Mercies!!

Hello!  

We have been doing a lot of finding this week through less actives, members, and tracting and have seen a lot of tender mercies as a result.  We received a referral from a member this week and were able to give her a call and set up an appointment for this week.  She called us back and I was able to talk to her for 45 minutes.  She shared her whole life story with me and sincerely said, "I have the desire to repent and change."  She shared how her faith in Jesus Christ has guided her through her whole life.  It was a really cool, humbling experience, and I look forward to meeting with her this week.  We also found a lot of people by tracting that we were able to have great conversations with and set up return appointments.  We're hoping to see some people we can start teaching from that.

I have learned a lot serving here and definitely learned to appreciate the littlest of things, and definitely helped me notice the many tender mercies we receive on a daily basis, even if sometimes they are hard to pick out.  Our Heavenly Father is constantly blessing us.  We just need to choose to accept and notice them.

My favorite less-actives!

Sunday was such a cool experience!  We were so excited because our investigator committed to coming, and when she didn't walk through the door it was honestly really discouraging.  I sat there in the beginning so discouraged, and then the biggest tender mercy happened!  It was Fast and Testimony Meeting this past Sunday.  Our bishop got up to being testimony meeting by sharing his testimony, and I have never felt the Spirit so strongly.  Tears were literally streaming down my face, and that Spirit continued throughout the whole meeting.  

Our bishop talked about how sometimes we're called to do things and don't know why, don't feel like we're good enough, or don't feel like we are doing it right.  Sometimes it is hard and discouraging and those feelings of inadequacy come in full force.  He said we have all felt this way, but wanted us to know that we are called to do things for a specific reason.  He also said we are called to certain callings and certain areas for a reason.  Heavenly Father is there with us every step of the way; He will not leave our side.  Yes, it's not always going to be easy, and in my case, I'm not always going to see these huge miracles, but I am doing what I am supposed to, and He will make up the rest.  

His testimony really hit home and made me realize that this is where I need to be; that what I am doing is what I am supposed to be doing, that I am not alone in this, that Heavenly Father has a plan, and if that includes finding His children and planting seeds for months or years down the line, that is where I will go.  His words were exactly what I needed to hear after a long week.  

I know that God is there for us every step of the way; He will not leave us.  He will lead us and guide us on the path we need to be.  His plan isn't always going to be what we want, but it is going to be what we need.  Serving here has taught me so many things, and it's not always what I want, but it is what Heavenly Father knows I need.  Anyway, sorry for that long rant, but I know this Church is true, that our Savior lives, and our Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us.  

I love you all, Sister Lake 

The beauty of the snow melt in Alaska

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Monday, May 1, 2017

Watch Out for Dogs!!!

Hello!

This one will be quick because today is P-Day, and we are heading out to the Knotty Shop (a really cool and famous shop in the middle of nowhere).  I have a funny story about the shop for next week, but...this week was so good!

First off--the weather has been incredible.  Absolutely incredible!!  Well, I guess, except for the random hail storms here and there.  It has been so nice, which means North Pole has all of a sudden turned from a ghost town to an actual, normal-looking town with people walking around instead of hibernating, which makes mission work so much more fun!

 My favorite kids!  (P.S.  This is what all of North Pole looks like right now; it's called break-up season!)

It has been fun just to walk around and talk with people and share with them what we believe.  It has been so awesome, and we have found some new potential investigators because of it!  We had some awesome lessons with our investigators this week.  The first one with "H" went really well.  It just seemed like everything clicks with her, except for the importance of partaking of the Sacrament every week.  A lot of people have a hard time and just don't understand why we need to go to church every Sunday.  So, we're working on that.  It is so cool to see the Gospel principles all come back to her memory because she already knew; she just needed to be reminded, and the Spirit is definitely doing that!

Our other lesson was with this family that has been investigating for quite some time now--like a few years.  We have met with them almost every week since I have been up here, and we will see changes and progression, and then...STOP!  So, we took a break and just started meeting with them again, and it has been so cool.  We have been making the lessons more fun and focusing 100% on our Savior, Jesus Christ, because the Gospel is centered on Him and His atoning sacrifice.  Since then, the lessons have been going really well.  The Spirit is so strong, and she even notices that.  She said there is just a different feeling--a good feeling this time.  We are excited to see her progression!

Such a good week!  I surely do love being up here and especially love the ward!!!

Quick story--So, Sister Jimenez is terrified of dogs, and so am I, but thanks to my trainer--she made me just suck it up and have faith that Heavenly Father would protect me.   If we skipped the homes that had dogs, we would probably only have 10 homes left to track in North Pole.  EVERYBODY has dogs!  Anyway, I have been doing exactly what my trainer did with me, and also making Sister Jimenez go up to the home with dogs.  This trial of faith was doing really well until just this last week.  I told Sister Jimenez it would be fine, and we starting walking up to a home and this HUGE black dog comes running out of nowhere, passes right by me, and starts attacking Sister JImenez.  She is totally fine; the dog just bit her coat, but I felt so bad!!!  We laugh about it now, but I'm pretty sure she has lost all trust in my capability to calm dogs.  We will continue to work on that!  


Ummm, correction!  We have the truth!! 

This Church is so true.  The Book of Mormon is powerful and a guide for our lives.  I know there is power in prayer and fasting.  I also know that our Savior lives; He loves us and wants us to be happy.  As we come unto Him, that happiness will come!  I love Him and am so grateful each and every day to testify of Him.  I love my mission and am so thankful for the opportunity that I have to serve here.

Love, Sister Lake 

Fun fact--White mice are the only legal mice to own as pets in Alaska!!