Monday, April 28, 2014

The Rollercoaster!!

So titled because I've never had so many highs and so many lows in the same week, haha! Missions are still awesome, hard times and all!
 My trainer is a STL, so she was gone to meetings and training three days this week. Which meant her other two companions, us greenies, took over the area while she was gone. Has that ever happened before? What week is this, two? Three? AND WE'RE DOIN' THIS ALL BY OURSELVES AW YEAH
 We learned a lot. Mainly, that neither of us know what we're doing, haha. But we did so good, and we taught so many people. We filled some time by knocking doors, which is NO fun and I kept feeling there were other ways to better fill our time, because no one answers their doors, and when they do, they're annoyed. Understandably. And they don't leave their doors open for long because they don't want to let the heat in. She wanted the "missionary" experience, though, so I'm hoping she's all tracted out, haha.
 But on that note, I'm so surprised at how many people actually want to hear about Christ. I expected so much more rejection. And there has been rejection, but there's been so many people who want to talk to us. These are things I actually heard, while talking to people on the street:
 "Oh, yeah, I pass that church on the way to mine. I've always felt like it's been calling me...when's your service? Can I come?"
 "You're the MORMON Missionaries!!! Oh, I've always wanted to talk to you guys!! Can you come by tomorrow?"
 "I prayed that God would send me someone. He sent me three!"
 "I've been trying to convince my husband to take me to that church, but he's never wanted to go....I think I'll just go by myself this week."
 Like, what is this madness? It's reminded me of that one scripture, "I call my sheep, and my sheep hear my voice." The Lord is calling, and so many people are hearing Him. I'm so thankful to be a part of this.
 And a lot of it is the members. They are so awesome. They feel the call to spread the word and have also been talking to whoever will listen. Maricopa is awesome, and the Gospel is awesome, and missions are awesome, high times and low times.
 We've started going further out into the desert. There are lots of trailer homes out there. There's a Navajo woman, she's the one who's been praying for God to send her someone. She's moved out of town to get away from some family problems and misses her son dearly. It was amazing to pray with her (she prays the Navajo way, which was amazing and beautiful...apparently quite a few Christian Navajo's don't just say amen, but close in the name of Christ like we do. Which was kinda cool to hear!) and invite her to let us teach more about Christ and His Gospel.
 Another trailer has a Baptist family who used to be Mormon but left because they didn't like the bishop. This was news to the daughter, however, haha! She was so surprised her parents haven't always been anything but Baptist and wanted to know more. She's much more interested in coming to church than her parents. We've been encouraging her to come to mutual and girl's camp. She's really excited about it! And, her parents are, too, haha. They like the idea of her being around other good Christians. They aren't interested in coming back to church, but they love the missionaries and want to do what we're doing someday, when their kids are grown. They've invited us to dinner.
 The people in the trailers out in the'd think they'd be scary, but they're SO FRIENDLY, haha! These people are so awesome!!
 I love you all!!! I wish I had more time, but I do love you and I love your letters!!
 -Sister Stratford

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mesa Easter

So I spent a lot more time today on personal letters, so this will be short and choppy
 HAPPY EASTER!!!! It was an amazing, spiritual day!! We didn't really get to celebrate it, just Sunday as always, but just the PSirit of the day, and knowing what day it was....I wanted to be that weird missionary who runs down teh streets shouting "EVERYONE JESUS LIVES AND IT'S AMAZING" and embarrass my companions, haha. I didn't, but i was a lot bolder talking to strangers that day. I was already excited to be out here, but somehow Easter gave it more meaning.
 We got to go to the Easter pageant at the Mesa temple!! It was amazing!! Linda and Tate came with us, and Linda brought her husband!! He really wants nothing to do with the Mormons, and really didn't like his son getting in with all that, but now that his wife is, we's willing to do more. THough he's still not going to talk with us, haha. But the Easter pageant was amazing and powerful, and that image of Christ rising at the end....guh, you guys, Jesus Christ is amazing!!! I'm so excited to be talking about him!! The nametag kinda gives you that freedom to say whatever, haha. It's kinda nice. My trainer knew a lot of people in the pageant, so that was fun, too.
 If you ever get the chance, guys, go to teh Easter pageant. It's so awesome. It's the largest in the world.
 Linda and Tate changed their baptism so that Linda's daughter, Caty, could make it. Caty was baptized a while back in HS but has since stopped living it, and seeing her mom and brother getting back into it has reawakened that desire in her. When we talked about the word of wisdom, something clicked for her and she's giving up the coffee and tea. Linda's not looking forward to quitting smoking, since she's tried before, but she knows that this time she has God on her side and she knows that through the Atonement of Christ she can do anything. It's so, so amazing to see the Gospel work in people's lives!! The miracles they've seen and the peace they've felt....I'm so glad I got to see this at the beginning of my mission. I want this for everyone. It's absolutely indescribible, watching lives change and people finding their happinness again. I can't record it, there are no words. It makes all the hard times so worth it.
 We've still been delivering pictures of Christ. We found an Arabic Catholic woman who doesn't speak much English. She was really excited to hear the word "Christ" and to see the picture we brought her. We gave her an Arabic Book of Mormon, too, and she recognized the word Mormon. She said she doesn't knnow anything about Mormons, but she liked the word "Christ" on the cover and is looking forward to finally reading something in a language she knows. She lit up when we told her there are other mormons on who would love to talk to her about Christ in Arabic. We couldn't get a return appointment, but we left our number, and she said she'd call if she had any questions about the book.
 There was a couple sitting outside on their "lawn" (no one has lawn, it's all gravel, and it's a little depressing haha), and we talked to them. They were uninterested in hearing about the Church, but they were happy to talk to us. We told them if htey ever needed anything, "even cookies when you're sick," to let us know. Which is an odd thing to say...but the wife coughed a little as a joke, and we all thought it was funny. So the next day, we brought them cookies as a joke. They thought it was hilarious, hahaha! So they allowed us in their home, and we talked a little more about what Mormons believe. They're always quick to say that we're not going to convert them, but we're welcome to come anytime.
 We met a Muslim woman, Hapi! She considers herself Muslim, but she has an odd mix of Christian/Catholic beliefs in there. Like, the Islam prophets, they're saints. She prays to Abraham and Muhammad to ask God for favors. She doesn't speak much English, only Farsi, and she can't read or write in any language. She comes from an older generation in Iran, so education was forbidden her. I never thought I'd run into culture shock in Arizona, but she was shocked to see us pray without covering our heads and she can't talk to men. She'll only speak to the sisters, never the elders. We talked to her a little about skyping people in who can speak with her in Farsi, but she doesn't like the idea....she really escaped from Iran, and she doesn't want to talk to anyone from Iran. She doesn't want to be found. And she really didn't like us talking about God as a father. She hated the idea of a Father-like God. I didn't realize until later why that might be a scary thought to her. I did NOT expect these kinds of culture shocks. XD But she loves to talk to us and she loves the christian and ideas, and anything she likes she just adopts into her own religion, haha. She's awesome.
 I'm running out of time, but I love you all!! Mission work is awesome, and there are hard times, but it's so worht it an amazing, and there's not where else I'd rather be!! Thanks for your letters, your prayers and support!!!
 -Sister Stratford

Monday, April 14, 2014


I'm going to change the web address of this blog. I'll let you know what it is before it happens.
sister stratford is super obvious, and I don't know if I'm comfortable with the people in my areas reading my letters home, hahahhaha....y'know?
 But There WILL be a!!
 I'm allowed to make a personal blog as a missionary!!! will be personal stories, insights, scriptures, etc. that I hope will uplift people and teach more about Christ and God's love. Since that's super ovcious, I can give it to others and they can see my public spiritual posts instead of my letters to friends and family.
 I'm actually super excited about it and have several posts already in my head.
 So keep a tab on this URL. my letters will be somewhere else, but this one will still be running and will hopefully still be awesome!
 Thank you all for the letters and support....I really do appreciate it, and I really do love you all. I miss home, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to coming home, as much as I love it here, haha. It's so good to hear from you guys, family and friends alike!!
 Love you all!
 -Sister Stratford

Three by Three v2.0, Maricopa Style

I'm in Arizona and it's HAWT!!! hahaha. It's actually not that bad, only 90 or so. My Idahoan companion is dying, though, hahahahhaa. After being in Rexburg and Idaho during the winters, it's nice to not be a wimp in extreme weather anymore. XD
 at the MTC, our last Sunday, we got to see Vocal POint perform!!! AHHHHHHHHH!!!! I GOT TO SEE NEARER MY GOD TO THEE LIVE!!! Guys, guys, if you haven't heard Vocal point's version of Nearer My God to Thee, PLEASE look it up on Youtube. I was in tears, hearing it live.
 And speaking of amazing Sundays, General Conference was awesome!!! I love President Ucthdorf's talk about getting through trials (President Ucthdorf is just so amazing and his talks are always so uplifting and feel-good, ahhh), and Elder Bednar is always amazing. I loved "Your four minutes" And who was it who talked about the truck in the snow parable? I loved that one too. General conference was so good.
 I met my Mission president. President Toone is HUGE. He's 7''1'. He's sooo tall!! Shaking his hand and looking up at him and saying "hi" was quite the experience, haha. He's so awesome, though. He's not just big, he's a spiritual giant, too. I'm so grateful he's my president.
 I'm in a trio again!! My poor, poor trainer, training two of us greenies, fresh from the MTC....I try to be as little trouble as possible, hahahhahaha. She's been real good, though. She's mind-blowingly patient. I wish I was as patient as her, haha. I guess a mission will do that to you. But seriously, pray for her. She's training two greenies in an area she's never been in before.
 I was looking forward to having my very own companion, haha. I loved mine at the MTC, and I love mine now, but....trios are haaaaaaaard, guys. They're so hard! haha. I've loved all my companions, and I've loved our miracles and all we've learned, but I want my own companion someday, haha.
 So we're all new to the area, and already we have four people on date for baptism. Which...blows my mind. Seriously, God's work is just going crazy here in Maricopa. I'm changing names, and no details, but here are some of our people.
 We have Rachel, who's been meeting with missionaries off and on for three yeras. Just a while ago she went "off" again and went to phoenix for two weeks, and during that two weeks, she just felt...she described it as a tugging on her heart. She was missing the missionaries, she was missing praying and reading, and she realized that fear was holding her back from doing what she had long known was what God wanted her to do. She was sad to see her missionaries leave the areas, but eager to meet us! She's getting baptised in may!!
 Linda and Tate are mother-son. Tate's been taking the lessons for a couple of months with his mom, and he's absolutely in love with the church. He's 13 and he was so happy to be at church knowing he's getting baptized this month, haha. He was smiling sooooo much!! He brought his mom with him, who's been looking at the church off and on for like twelve years. This was her first time at church, and by the end of it...she just had an amazing, powerful experience. The teacher accidently prepared the wrong lesson, but it was the lesson Linda needed. It really hit home for her. She's getting baptised the same day as her son. It's been amazing to be with these people.
 The fourth person we actually really haven't met yet. THe eldres were giving tours in the church building, and he was walking by and they asked him to come in. He's a 16 year old student, I'll call him Jake. He liked it enough that he asked them to come by his place (when his parents are home, of course!) and teach him more...and after one olesson, he wantes to get baptized. He's in our area, so the elders are handing them off to us. I'm so excited to meet him!!
 We've been teaching others. Our stake had a booth at a local festival and had people sign up for a free picture of Christ. We hand deliver it to their homes, and these people who wanted these paintings are so eager to talk about Christ!! Quite a few of them asked us to come back and teach them more. You guys, God's doing some amazing things in the hearts of these people. It's an amazing and powerful thing, and I'm so grateful and ecstatic that I"m here to see it and be a part of it.
 The people here are absolutely amazing. The strangers we meet are so nice, and they're concerned about our safety, three young women walking around and talking to strangers. They offer to give us water or a phone or whatever we need, and they say they'll pray for us to be safe. Maricopa's a small little farmy-urban mix, so the people are really friendly!
 And the members are awesome!! They're so excited about the Gospel, and to share Christ with their friends!! I had heard missionary work is powerful when members and missionaries work together, but man, to really see it in's amazing and powerful.
 Maricopa is so small that we can't get we've been living with members. We've actually kinda been living out of our suitcases for a while, since...well...there's three of us. It's hard to find a member who has room for three sister missionaries with all our clothes and books. We're working on that, though. I also feel really bad at dinners, because, there's THREE of us. the members here are so helpful, though, and it's really humbling.
 I love Arizona, and I love my companions, and i love the people, and I love this work! THere are challenges, and it's hard at times (and I know it'll get harder...we've just barely started, haha) but none of them have been overwhelming or insurmountable. THey're challenges, and they're satisfying to tackle and work with. And, honestly, it's God doing all the work, I'm just opening my mouth over here hoping something good comes out.
 I'm still safe and I'm still so satisfied and happy with my life right now. Thank you all so much for the amazing letters and the prayers!!
 -Sister Stratford
 p.s. yesterday I saw my first scorpion! yaaaaay
 someone please set the desert on fire those things are FREAKY when they move and they don't die when you step on them so fire's the only option

Friday, April 4, 2014

I totally have thirty minutes not 3 so y'all are getting your letters!!

I've been taking pictures and will send them eventually, when I find a computer that can read SD cards! It's fun to see AJ around! If someone could send me that pic he put on facebook so that sometime I can get it on my blog, that'd be awesome. ^^

I'm in Love!!

I've never been more satisfied or happy with my life. I love the people I've met and taught, my companions, my district, my teachers, I love mission work! There are challenges, but they're workable and not overwhelming, and it's nice to see progress overcoming them. Some learning experiences are painful, I've had a lot of foot-in-mouth moments (more than usual, I guess, haha) but at least I never have to learn them again, haha
 My companions are amazing and I love every little bit of them. Teaching in three is really hard, especially in the planning stages, but we're getting better. And it's like Eliza and the marbles; if you can work in three, you can work in two.

 (how'd it get so late?!? I'm going to have to write fast...)

First all, Mike and Lexa, I don't have your emails, but I wanted to say thanks for the DearElder! It came like ten minutes after I had gotten off the computer, haha, but it was a real treat!! <3 And Happy Birthday, Mike!!

 us three girls and the three elders in our district are the only english speakers in our zone. The rest are ASL.....and they are the most fun people ever. They don't have the diginitiy of missionaries because, um, ASL, lol! They're tons of fun.

 I'm starting to adapt and have more energy. I eat more to make up for the energy I don't get sleeping, haha. Which is bad, the food here is not the healthiest or freshest. Cafeteria food. My branch president's wife keeps wanting me to go to the dietician to get back on my painkiller diet, but I really don't want to, and I'll be in Arizona in a few days anyway/.

 IS ANYONE ELSE EXCITED FOR GENERAL CONFERENCE?!?!?!?! omg I'm SO EXCITED. We have to watch it in the gym, which I think will destroy my back (we've been sitting WAY to long, no way will I survive all of general conference!!), but it's still exciting!! We've committed a few of our investigators to watch at least one session with a question in their minds and take notes as to what the Spirit tells them. I'm excited to watch all four and do the same!! We didn't get to see the women's conference last week, but they're showing it during priesthood session.

 Sunday night we had a devotional by Brother Elliot, the organist for Mormon Tabernacle Choir. And it was awesome. He had a song he wrote when he was recovering from surgery and couldn't use one of his arms. An arrangement of "Go teel it on the mountain" with almost entirely his feet. It was amazing...and Inspiring, that he still played the organ even when he couldn't use his arm.

 Also, guess who else was part of that musical devotional? David Archuleta! it was the first sunday off of his mission! He sang "Be Still my Soul" And I needed to hear it. I haven't been able to get it out of my head all week.

 I need to write some of you somne personal letters, and I only have three minutes left, but I LOVE YOU ALL and I hope everyone knows how much God loves them!! This will be my last P-Day at the MTC, and my P-day in the field is probably monday, so it might be a while until my next letter, but I love you guys!!

 Sister Stratford