Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Monday, August 28, 2017

Heyyyy from Juneau!

Hello!
Dang, it has been such a good week!  Sister Cox and I flew to Juneau early this morning for P-day and exchanges with sisters!  The weather was so beautiful and sunny...Alaska is amazing!  We had such a good week, though, and I am just going to send bits and pieces from Sister Cox's email combined with mine cause she's the best!

 Boarding pass and flight to Juneau
 
Last Monday, it was pouring rain.  We ran and played soccer outside all afternoon, and it was so much fun.  Everyone kept biffing it because the field was slippery.  Too funny.  Within the first couple of minutes, I tripped Sister Cox so bad (on accident of course), and it was game on after that--no mercy from her.   

We trained in our district meeting on Tuesday.  We talked about the potential of those that we speak and work with, and how Christ sees them, and us.  He sees us all as divine sons and daughters of God with eternal potential, the potential to become perfected through his atonement and to be able to dwell in the presence of our Heavenly Father.  We need to see that potential in everyone we come in contact with.  One of my favorite quotes is:  "We're all just walking each other home."  And, we do that by helping others and inviting them to receive the restored gospel, and by loving them and seeing them for the potential they have to become.  It was one of my favorite trainings to present!

After District Meeting, we went on exchanges with the sisters serving in the Jewel Lake Ward.  I was able to go with Sister Wilden.  She has been out for two weeks and, honestly, I felt like I was with a sister that had been out for 18 months and was about to go home!  She is such an INCREDIBLE missionary.  She has such a strong testimony of the Gospel, constantly looking for ways to serve everyone, and truly loves the work.  We had some incredible lessons as well!  It was such a good exchange.  We had a great lesson with Annette and set up a chapel tour because she really wanted to come to church but was so nervous!  We then stopped by a less active's family that we have tried so hard to get in with but have never been able, and we had such an amazing lesson with them.  Such a good day!

Wednesday, we hit an all time low with exhaustion, and got so desperate that we bought sodas to stay awake.  I can't even remember the last time I had soda, and it didn't even taste good, but, boy, did that caffeine help.  We ended up having two bomb dot.com lessons with an investigator in Bush--Arthur--and our recent convert--Angie.  We set a date for baptism for Arthur!  We are working with him to get him ready for his date; it has been good!

We met with our other investigator, Nanette, on Thursday.  We're still trying to discern her needs as she knows the Church is true and the Book of Mormon, but she says she's Catholic and that's just how she is.  We invited her to pray from her heart, read, and come to church.  AND, she came!!!

That afternoon, we were searching for potential investigators, and we came across one that Sister Cox and I had found while tracting when we were on exchanges a few months back.  We tried him and he let us in, and he started asking a bunch of questions about the Book of Mormon and the Prophet Joseph Smith.  We were able to teach him a scattered version of the Restoration.  He said he had seen us walking earlier and his wife had said, "Look, those are the girls," and he said, "Just give them 30 minutes," and there we were 30 minutes later.  That was such a cool experience and a definite testimony builder for me that Heavenly Father will lead us and guide us where we need to go!

We trained in the trainer Trainee Meeting on Friday.  The topic we were given was the white handbook and "seizing the opportunity."  For those of you who don't know, the white Missionary Handbook is a little book of guidelines for missionaries to follow.  We talked about all of the opportunities and blessings that are presented to us as we follow the standards.  It's divinely inspired for our safety and protection, and is promised to help us magnify our calling.  I have such a strong testimony of that.  I have seen so many blessings from following the guidelines. 

Saturday, we tracted all morning, gave Annette a chapel tour, visited our investigator John, and had correlation with our Ward Mission Leader.  We run into a lot of people who have a hard time with addiction, and our Ward Mission Leader has struggled in the past.  But, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, he has overcome his addiction.  Now, he is married in the temple and has three beautiful kids.  He has a video on the Addiction Recovery Page on lds.org, "Meet McKay."  Check it out at: 

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2013-07-0050-meet-mckay?lang=eng

He shared with us a funny quote as well, "Satan is a spiritual retard."  We giggled, but it's true!!!

We had so many miracles and blessings.  We hit all of our goals for the week--Six new investigators, four who attended church, and one on date for baptism!  The Lord's hand is in everything in this work.  It is the best to be able to teach others about the restored Gospel and help them come closer to Christ.  I love being a missionary.  I love the Gospel and the happiness it brings.  God is real.  He lives and he loves us.  He is in all of our lives every day.  Look for Him, pray to Him.  Read His words and listen to His prophets.

"And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God.  For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.  O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it."  (Mosiah 2:41)

Love you and thank you for all that you do!  Have such a good week and enjoy school!  

Sister McKenna Lake
Anchorage Alaska Mission 

Sister Jewel, Sister Cox, and Sister Lake were reunited for a quick reunion--surely do love my MTC homies.

 Sister Jewel and I FINALLY took the picture we have been trying to take our whole mission!!!  We're still praying we will get to serve in the Jewel Lake Ward together--anything's possible, right!?



 

 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday, August 21, 2017

There ain't no rest for the weary!

Hello,
One (1) year down...something I never thought would happen and never thought would be so sad about!  It really hit me this week how fast time is flying, and let me just tell you, I am so thankful for the six months I do have left.  

 Huuummmppp Day Celebration (chicken Thai and amazing apricot pizza at the one and only Moose's Tooth)

It has been such a GOOD week.  Sister Cox and I got together last week and just hit the ground running.  We haven't had a second to relax, and it has been so awesome!  I don't think I have laughed as much as I have in the last week than I have my whole mission.  We saw so many miracles, found some awesome new people to teach, and had so many good times!  

 Sister Cox and McKenna

We had another amazing lesson with Annette, and she is doing good.  It has been really sad to see how many challenges have been thrown her way and how much the adversary is working on her; BUT, each time she gets back up and keeps going, and it is all because she is trying to do what's right.  We are still working with her and making some progress.  

We were also able to go on exchanges this week, and I went with Sister Bentley.  She is a new missionary and has only been out for two weeks.  Let me tell you, she is such an awesome missionary!  We were talking about the negativity that a lot of people have against our church, and how even though our investigators are doing everything right they are thrown trials and hard things left and right...how hard it is sometimes, but how truly amazing it is.  It just shows how incredibly true the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is because if it wasn't, Satan wouldn't have to try so hard.

We also went through our former investigators list a little, and even received some referrals from members.  Wow, so many miracles!  The first one was a referral from a member.  We stopped by the referral's house and started talking with her.   She has met with the missionaries before, has read the entire Book of Mormon, knows the church is true, knows that Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God, and so forth.  After Sister Cox and I asked all these questions, we looked at each other and then she opened up to us a lot.  She has some family things standing in the way, but we had such a good discussion and talked about the importance of prayer, and her attitude changed.  She said, "You're right!  I need to really pray to Him and let all other things go away, and really just pray to know if baptism is the right choice."  It was so good.  And, even better, she came to church on Sunday!  The talks were absolutely perfect and just incredible.  They were all about the Book of Mormon and praying to know if it's true or not.  She was really focused in.  We are meeting with her again this week!

We also met another former investigator and was able to talk with him quite a bit.  He is such a stellar guy and so sincere.  He just returned from deployment and happened to move into his old address, and so we were able to find him.  We are meeting with him again in two weeks to start teaching him more!

We met another former investigator from the Bush Branch and had an awesome lesson with him.  He has a desire to be baptized and said he wants to start taking the steps to get there.  We will begin to teach him this week.  Seriously, so many miracles!

Sorry for the big long rant, but we had such a good week.  To top it off, we had Zone Conference and that was incredible!  Sister Cox and I had the privilege of training at the meeting on the power of prayer in missionary work.  Studying for it was probably one of the greatest and most powerful experiences, AND, exactly what I needed.  We found this incredible talk called "Pray Always," by Elder Bednar.  Go and read it; it's worth your time, I promise!  

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/10/pray-always?lang=eng 

Zone Conference

As I studied his talk, my testimony of prayer grew so much.  A lot of times when in the moment something is tough, I don't always realize how aware Heavenly Father is of me, but when I look back and realize how many prayers he answered and how much prayer helped me though, I am sooo thankful!  I also had the opportunity to reflect a lot on the power prayer has played a large part in my mission.  I was just overwhelmed with gratitude for a living, loving Father in Heaven who truly does hear and answer our prayers, and for the opportunity we have to communicate with him, our very best friend, each and every day.  One thing that really stood out to me, and definitely something I need to improve on, is being grateful and expressing that gratitude to Him every day.  Elder Bednar said, "Expressing gratitude more often in our prayers enlarges the conduit for revelation."  So cool, and so true.  

One of the Sister Cox's favorite scriptures, and one that I have come to love, is Alma 37:36-37:  

36: Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.  

37: Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

And, wow, is that so true!!  I have seen time after time as I have counseled with the Lord in all things--the day ahead, the people we are working with, how to help companions, investigators, or other missionaries--he has directed me for good, and I know that is true.  I love you all!  Thanks for the love, support, and great examples.  This church is so true, and the Gospel is just too good, and the mission is amazing!

Love, Sister Lake
Alaska Anchorage Mission

 Three pictures of our hike to Flattop Mountain last week, which over looks all of Anchorage, the Alaska Range, and Cook Inlet.  I know I have said this 1000 times, but Alaska is BEAUTIFUL, AND I FEEL SO BLESSED TO SERVE IN SUCH A TRULY INCREDIBLE PLACE.




 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Girls Are Back in Town!

Hello!
Such a wonderful week!  We started out by going fishing, and let me tell you, I could totally be an Alaskan and fish every day all day because it's so awesome.  It's not like the pond fishing where you just sit there and wait for something to bite.  You're standing in water mid thigh and throwing your fly over and over again, and you are surrounded by TONS of other fishermen.  Seriously, such a blast!  I was fishing next to a less-active member the whole time, and he was such a champ and gave me all the good tips.  

Tuesday, we were able to witness one of the biggest group of missionaries the mission has had in a long time, as 24 of them came walking through the small gate all at once.  Coolest sight ever!

I feel so blessed every time transfers come because of the new missionaries love for the work, desire to go out and share the Gospel and the message we have, and their desire to be exactly obedient is contagious.  We spent all day Tuesday with them, and then took the two sisters back home with us to spend the night.  Such incredible sisters!  Seriously love them.  It was so fun to get to know them, and they are both being trained here in Anchorage, so I'm stoked!

 Sister Jackson, Sister Lake and two new sister missionaries!


 We woke up the next morning and headed back to the mission home.  We spent another whole day with them listening to them bear their testimonies, and watching them as they received their trainers and all that fun stuff.  The spirit was just so strong, and boy are they going to do some incredible things here!

After all of the craziness, I dropped off my incredible companion, Sister Jackson, that I love and miss, who is now happily and safely home in the beautiful state of Utah.  I then picked up my "Day 1-mission-home" Sister Cox!!!  Seriously, so good to be back together!  We picked up right where we left off in North Pole and got right to work.  I freaking love her.  You are probably already annoyed, but we only have six weeks to be together again before transfers.  

We had the craziest week...I don't know where to begin.  We tried lots of referrals, met with lots of members (and they gave us lots of referrals), knocked on lots of doors, talked to lots of people, laughed lots, and had a total blast doing it all.  

We both spoke yesterday in both Bush Branch and Oceanview, and that was so good.  We met with Annette, and, of my, she is the greatest.  She just has so much faith and patience, and is truly incredible.  I love the people in the mission field that I have been blessed to meet!  

A couple of weeks ago when I was able to see the Ronne family...Wow, that was probably one of the best moments on my mission.  Memory Lake will always have a special place in my heart, and being able to see the Ronne family and spend time with them was such a sweet experience.  They are doing so good and seriously have the strongest testimonies.  We went to lunch, and when we had all sat down, they asked if we were going to say a prayer on the food.  I don't know why, but that was seriously one of the sweetest experiences watching them all say a prayer in a public restaurant.  I love them so much!  

 Repost picture of the Ronne Family

And, I also got to see Bobby D. and the Henson's this week, too!  Boy, I surely do love those people! 


Bobby D and McKenna

Anyway, it was such a good week.  I clearly can't remember everything, but it has been so good, so busy, and amazing being back with Sister Cox.  Get ready for some high quality video updates coming up!

On a more serious note, though, my talk in the Bush Branch was on the spiritual gift found in D&C 46:13, the gift of believing in Christ.  As I thought about it and studied it, I came to realize and really think about my belief and testimony in Jesus Christ and the role that this has played in my life.  My belief in Christ is something that continues to grow stronger and stronger each and every day, something that has truly blessed me in my life and helped me in the hardest of times.  I know that our Savior, Jesus Christ, lives.  I know that He loves us.  I know that He came into the world to atone for the sins of all mankind.  I know that He knows every trial, pain, affliction, hardship, and suffering we have personally experienced.  He knows what we are going through, and He is there for us every single step of the way. He is just waiting for us to call out and reach up and grab His hand to lift us up out of the pain, heartache, and trial we are in.  I know that my Savior knows me individually, and I know that He has been there for me, and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ I have received that strength to get back up and keep going in the hardest of times.  I love Him and am so grateful for the knowledge of Him.  I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I have had to go out and share my testimony with the people of Alaska.  I just feel so blessed, and am thankful for the testimonies of others that have blessed my life.  

Thank you all for the love and support, many prayers, and incredible examples you are to me!  I love you all, I love Alaska, I love the mission, AND I love Sister Cox!  Have a stellar week!

Love, 
Sister McKenna Lake
Alaska Anchorage Mission

    

Monday, August 7, 2017

Monday, August 7, 2017

Fishing for salmon!!

Hi,

We went fishing this morning...first time and so fun!  We caught FOUR fish.  So, sorry!  I'm on the computer late and will only be able to be on for a little while; however, this will be a picture overload email!!

 My fish (just kidding--)
Here's one of the four I caught!!!


My four fish + my favorite little boy (he reminds me so much of my little brother Channing!)

So, we had transfer calls this week and you are not going to believe who my new companion is.....SISTER COX!!!!!  I am seriously so excited to be companions with her again, and so relieved.  She will be awesome for this ward.  In our very last prayer that we said together before we were assigned new companions, we prayed that we would be companions again, and the Lord answered our prayer.  

 Saying goodbye to my "dearly departed" companion (departing from the mission to return home)

We also go to the airport tomorrow to pick up 24 new missionaries (the biggest group this mission has ever had!), and sadly, there are only two sisters out of the 24.  But, they will be staying with us until Wednesday, so it will be fun.  Things will be crazy the next few days...!

 Mission Leader's Conference

Sorry I have been so bad at keeping in touch.  My current companion is going home in two days, so she hasn't emailed much this last transfer, and so neither have I.  Hope you know how much I love and miss you!

Sister Lake
Anchorage Alaska Mission 

 Pre-fillet of 50-lb. salmon
Post-fillet of salmon
Downtown Anchorage building painting!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Friday, August 4, 2017

New Mission President

Dear Family of an Alaska Anchorage Missionary,

We want to express our joy at being here in the Alaska Anchorage Mission!  How vast and beautiful is this area of the Lord's vineyard!  Each place that we visited is impressive and has its own special uniqueness.  We have just had the privilege of finishing a tour of the mission and meeting every missionary.  It has been such a blessing to visit with your missionary, and we want you to know that we greatly appreciate the work that they are doing.

 Sister Lake with new mission presidents

We know that the work of the Lord is progressing and that we feel that the Alaska Anchorage Mission is a very blessed mission.  We have already had some faith-promoting experiences that bring us more fully to realize that the work here in Alaska is being guided by our Father in Heaven, and this knowledge helps us more firmly resolve to live lives that will make us worthy recipients of His many blessings.

Thank you again for allowing us the blessing of working with your missionary.  We truly look forward to working side by side with them in this spirit-directed endeavor.  We testify that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ and the surely of His atonement, the Holy Ghost witnesses of truth, that all scriptures testify of Christ, the restoration has come forth, Joseph Smith was a prophet, there are prophets, seers, and revelators upon the earth today, and missionary work blesses the world.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sincerely,
President and Sister Toone
Alaska Anchorage Mission

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Monday, July 31, 2017

Update on the last two weeks!

Hello!
As I told you briefly in the last sentence of my short letter last Monday, Odi came to church last Sunday!!!   It was so cool!  We had had a lesson with Odi and invited him to church two Monday's ago, and he wasn't liking the idea.  So, later that week, we just sent him the address like we said we would and invited him to attend church one more time.  This time, he replied, "Great!  I'll see you tomorrow," and he SHOWED UP!!!  He stayed for Sacrament Meeting and Gospel Principles and participated so much in class!!!  It was very exciting.  We had another lesson with him this last week.  We talked about church and the similarities and differences in his church and ours, and more about the Book of Mormon and the Prophet Joseph Smith with a focus on praying to receive that witness...it was all good.  The spirit was very strong.  He has had a hard time believing in the Restoration, especially the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith.  But, he seemed very willing this last week to sincerely seek to know for himself.  

We were able to go on exchanges with the Soldotna sisters, Sister Cox and Sister Bowers...so fun!!  First off, it's always a good time when I am able to see Sister Cox.  I seriously love that girl and miss being companions with her, but she is doing some incredible things in Soldotna and is such a great trainer!  My companion on the exchange was Sister Bowers.  It was fun and so beautiful, and the people there are incredible.  We had this awesome lesson with this less-active lady.  My, oh my, she was the sweetest person I have ever met, and it was so inspiring to go and meet her.  

Visiting Soldotna on the Kenai Peninsula

Sisters Jackson, Mataele, Lake, and Kunz
Sisters Jackson and Lake--companions
 Visiting Girdwood, a resort town and ski area south of Anchorage
The valley, as viewed from Mount Alyeska
 
Tram ride
We even went tracting on the docks to all the fishermen.  That was so fun and exciting because half of them caught huge salmon in the middle of talking to us.  

I was able to see the Grieve Family!  I am so bummed that I totally forgot to take a picture with them, but it was seriously SO GOOD to see them.  I stood up in church yesterday, turned around, and there they were!  They are seriously the greatest, and it was really fun to see them!

Tracting, tracting, and more tracting-- 
I LOVE tracting, and we did a ton of it this week and saw some super cool miracles.  We met so many people and were able to teach a lot of them about the Book of Mormon and set up some return appointments.  One of the people we met was a girl named Nivea.  She wanted to hear our message.  We started by sharing with her the Book of Mormon and talking about our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We asked her if we could give her a copy and come back next week.  She said, "YES, I AM SO EXCITED TO LEARN MORE.  COULD YOU COME BACK ON FRIDAY?"  She just had the biggest smile and was genuinely excited!

Tender Mercies--
We saw so many little tender mercies this week with finding and with the members, and everything, and I was so thankful for that.  Heavenly Father is very aware of us, and His hand is in our lives all around us.  We just have to notice.

Thoughts for the week--
I have had so many thoughts but something that really stood out to me was thoughts from a talk by Elder Neil L. Andersen called, "You Know Enough."  The talk was so good.  Elder Andersen talked about visiting a mission in Europe on a day when when a brand new missionary to the mission field was ready to go home.  The missionary expressed that he didn't know anything and felt so inadequate to be there.  He even said, "I don't even know if Heavenly Father loves me.  Elder Andersen was inspired to say, "You do know that."  The boy thought about it for a second and said, "You're right, I do!"  Elder Anderson explained, "He didn't know everything, but he knew enough.  He knew God loved him.  That priceless piece of spiritual knowledge was sufficient for his doubt to be replaced with faith.  He found the strength to stay on his mission."  Elder Anderson goes on to talk about faith and says, "Faith is not only a feeling; it is a decision" and, "He chose the road of faith and obedience.  He got on his knees.  His spiritual balance returned."

I have been thinking about this talk a lot lately and how at times in our life our testimony, our faith in the Savior, the Book of Mormon, the Gospel, etc., might be a lot stronger than at other times, but how, if we always remember that Heavenly Father love us, that is enough
I have had so many times on my mission when doubt and discouragement creep in and that strong faith I have had before seems to have diminished.  In those moments, the one thing that always keeps me going is the reminder that Heavenly Father loves me.  He is aware of me whether it is through a blessing, or the scriptures, or just getting on my knees and finding that spiritual balance again.  I have held onto that knowledge so much on my mission.  As I go out each day and sometimes get discouraged or doubt why I'm here, every time knowing that Heavenly Father loves me has saved me and helped me choose to have faith once again.  

I know that Heavenly Father loves and is aware of each and everyone of us.  I have felt of His love He has for so many people that I myself have come to love.  I love this Gospel and the peace and happiness it brings each and every day.  We may not know everything we hope to for a surety, but never forget the love our Heavenly Father has for us, and THAT IS ENOUGH.  I love you all!!

Sister McKenna Lake
Anchorage Alaska Mission