Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Girls Are Back in Town!

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!

Sister McKenna Lake
Alaska Anchorage Mission


Monday, August 7, 2017

Monday, August 7, 2017

Fishing for salmon!!


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.

President and Sister Toone
Alaska Anchorage Mission

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Monday, July 31, 2017

Update on the last two weeks!

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 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 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