Monday, May 26, 2014


HOLY COW was this a week of miracles!!! I don't even know where to begin!

At transfers, our mission president promised us that if we became more diligent in our planning, each companionship could find at least one person ready to be baptized this transfer. Which has never been done in our mission and is completely unheard of. So we've started working on that and fasting for that. Our district leaders had us pull names for a companionship that we would specifically fast and pray for. Sister Westfall and I got a name, we fasted for them, and literally thirty minutes after we broke our fast, we get a text saying, "Miracles are already happening! Elders [So and So]'s investigator suddenly got excited for baptism and moved their date from July 31st to June 7th! Thanks for whoever fasted for us!"

 And we're over here baptizing weekly. Literally, we have a baptism every week the next couple of weeks, and the only break was the Saturday after Jose's. And we're finding people who are legitimately thinking about it. This area has never seen so much craziness before.

 So Vince  has been being taught since before I came, but he dropped off the map for a couple of weeks and we just found him again. His live is even more turned around than Linda's!! He had to drop a ton of addictions to live the Word of Wisdom, one of them was meth, and now he's found work at a drug rehab center. He won't. stop. talking. about. God. IT'S SO COOL. He really loves Jesus and he's so grateful God sent him missionaries to help him turn his life around. He doesn't understand the scriptural language of the Bible or the Book of Mormon, but he's reading from them faithfully. He's always praying and he's telling everyone who looks like they're listening that he's getting baptized and he's a "church boy now" and he can tell people are annoyed but he doesn't care because it just means so, so much to him. It's so cool to see!

 Jose's doing solidly!! He keeps getting flack from his family. They never really liked the idea of him becoming Mormon, and no one came to his baptism. But He's coming to church and reading and praying, and he has good friends in the Church who are eager to help him out. I hope he keeps that support, because we won't be in Casa Grande forever.

 Remember the family thing I was talking about? We teach a lot of kids whose parents left the church a while back but want to work their way back. So they're like 10 or 11. And that's really, really fun, because you really have to use Bible and BoM stories to get them interested. It's sooo fun!

 One kid we teach has a bit of a focus problem, and one time we dropped by and he happened to have a friend over. We were willing to leave and come back at a better time, but the mom didn't want us to go and the friend was absolutely fascinated by us. So when we sat down to teach, his friend was all ears and big eyes. He was FASCINATED. He flipped through the children's BoM we had given the family, and he thought the stories were so cool.

 Children are so neat. I'm so glad I'm around them so much. I thought they would be my biggest problem, since I figured teaching them would be harder than just playing with them, but they're super fun!

 i don't know how many of you knew about my fantasy of being one of the first missionaries in China...because I really really really wanted to teach people who had never heard of Christ in their life. I thought that would be the coolest experience ever, was to introduce them to Jesus, and I thought I wouldn't get that opportunity in Arizona.

 But I totally did. There was a woman we were teaching who wanted to hear more. Since we'd never even thought that she hadn't heard about Christ, we just launched right into the need for prophets and the Restoration and we stopped at one point to see if she understood, and she said, "What do you mean, they rejected Jesus Christ?"

 "Well....they killed Him...."

 "Really? Why, what did He do?"

 That was a messy lesson, just because we had to do so much backpedalling, haha. But it was really a neat experience to tell her about her Savior. I hope we didn't confuse her too much with a lesson that was all over the place. 

 Last night we bumped into a man named Billy. He opened the door and let us in. He said he's run into the missionaries before and they gave him "one of their little Bibles" (he was talking about the BoM) but he didn't ready it. So we talked about what it is and where it came from and read the introduction with him. He looooved the first paragraph, the idea that it was another record of God interacting with His children in a different part of the world. That was fascinating to him. And then we got to the last couple of paragraphs, where there's a promise that anyone who reads the book and asks God, He'll tell them whether it's true or not, and it will be by the same power that they'll know that Jesus is the Christ, and He is the Savior of the world. That paragraph made him a little emotional and thoughtful.

 It's so cool to see people change. Sometimes it takes a long time, and sometimes it's like a light switch turned on behind their face, and it seriously is the coolest thing. I don't even feel like I'm doing anything, I just babble something or give them something to read, and the Spirit just hops from person to person pushing a button and turning a light on. People become happier and more hopeful, and it's indescribable. The most common phrase in my journal right now is "So a miracle just happened but I can't write it down because there's just no words to explain it." 

 Missions are so awesome. They can definitely be hard, but it's worth it, because you really do get those front row seats to the greatest miracles ever. 

 I love you all! Thanks for your letters, and for your support!! God bless!! <3

 -Sister Stratford

Monday, May 19, 2014


MY LETTERS WILL BE AT: is going to be uplifting messages and stories about my spiritual experiences and the Gospel. I'll also talk more about what the Gospel is and what I believe as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I chose to change the name of my letter blogs, because I'm sister stratford out here and I want the URL to be easy to remember when I hand it out to the people here. 

(Come on, you all know me, I always change my name. :p)

Random Transfers, MY VERY OWN COMPANION!!!

Y'all thought I was in Maricopa this week. PSYCH the day after I emailed everyone I was in Casa Grande. A sister had to go home for medical reasons, and so I was pulled from my trio to replace her.

 ...Guys, I miss my companions. Like, a lot a lot. And I miss Maricopa and all the people there I didn't get to say goodbye to.

 But I do have my very own Sister Westfall, and she's AWESOME. She's from Boise. Uncle David, you're one of our mutual friends on Facebook! She said she knows you! So that's weird XD

 The Night before I left (and like an hour before I got the call) we taught a lesson to a guy we found, Mitt. He had met with the missionaries for a long time, but they got transferred out and no other missionaries have tried to contact him since. We found him because there was a little duplex neighborhood we felt strongly we had to tract. Turns out it gets forgotten a lot.

 But he was really excited to see us come back, and because of time constraints, we couldn't teach him in his home and asked him to come to the church. We taught him a lesson in the chapel. And it was AWESOME. As soon as we walked in and turned on the lights,  the Spirit was there and powerful. He looked around and said, "That feels good...yeah, I like this." He said that a lot during the lesson. He loves the Gospel and really wants to make changes in his love to come closer to Christ, but he doesn't know how, and he's scared of what God will ask him to do. I would love to keep helping him...but I'm grateful for the chance I got to teach him even one lesson. 

 When I was in Casa Grande, there were less people to teach, but the people we had were AWESOME. We taught a Jose who just got baptized on Saturday. And that was really cool. I got to know him really well the week before as we taught him the rest of the lessons. He's kinda quiet and doesn't use a lot of facial expressions, but he's super powerful. He testified of the Book of Mormon and the power of Christ's Atonement in the middle of a lesson, and I was just blown away. He stopped illegal drugs cold turkey when he learned about the Word of Wisdom. Because of all the changes in his life, his friends and family were abandoning him...he invited everyone he could to his baptism, but no one came. Only members who knew him.

 But that baptism was absolutely amazing. As soon as he came out of the water, he looked different. Completely and absolutely different, like when someone gets a haircut and you know something's different about them but you can't figure it out? That's what it was like. We asked him after it was all over how he felt, and he said "different." And he looked it. 

 We did find people to teach in Casa Grande. That's all we did last week! It was actually a lot more fun that I thought. I still suck at finding, and I still struggle talking to strangers, especially when they see the black nametag and they get that look on their face. But I am getting more confident, especially when I realize God is really just doing all the work. Seriously, just like in Maricopa, I hear miraculous things like, "We lost contact with the missionaries when we moved, and we don't know how to find you guys, so we've just been praying you guys would come back!" Or we run into people who are asking things like, "I need guidance, and none of the palm readers have been much of a help. You guys have gotten a strong enough answer to be out here. How did that happen?"

 It wasn't just Maricopa, all of Arizona is looking for God!

 Another thing that's really fun about Casa Grande is the kiiiids. Oh my gosh, there are so many KIDS in this ward!! And not just the members, we're teaching whole families!! It's the coolest thing!! There was one lesson I spent the entire time teaching with my head at an angle because the little four-year-old was "braiding" my hair. She had been eating a cupcake, so I had frosting and crumbs in my hair the rest of the day, haha! It was pretty fabulous. And while we were helping a sick recent convert clean her home, her 2-year-old got up to "help" me with the dishes, and I went back out to proselyte withmy clothes all soaked down the front.

 When I got my call letter, I was so excited for ASU, because of all the college-age kids who are going through all those hard college times and are searching for their way. I was so excited to help them......but families are the best. I'm so grateful I get to work with families. I've really started to gain an understanding of what "the Gospel blesses families" really means. 

 Being out here is amazing. It's hard, and it's hot, and you run into people who just want to tell you how wrong or annoying or hell-bound you are, but the amazing bits are just AMAZING. I've never seen so many miracles. God's hand out here is almost as visible as it was to the Brother of Jared, and the Spirit is so strong. There is seriously nothing else I'd rather be doing with my life right now. 

 I love and miss you all!! Thank you for the letters and for the support and the prayers, it all means so much to me!

 Stay cool and stay awesome! God really is over all, and He really does love you, I promise!

 -Sister Stratford

Monday, May 12, 2014

Quick Update and pictures!

This week was a little slower, and I got to talk to Mom and Dad ono the phone yesterday and tell them everything, so now I can say silly stuff liiiiike
 -it's so weird how desert vegetation and sea vegetation look soooo similar. Seriously, I stare at some of the cacti out here and I'm like "HOW ARE YOU NOT IN THE OCEAN"
 -Buffalo meat tastes good. And tamales are huge when you wrap them in banana leaves instead of corn husks (OH MY GOSH I DIDN'T NEED TO EAT FOR THE NEXT FIVE MEALS)
 -There's something awesome about eing a missionary and coming home covered in sweat, dust, and dog hair, smelling like tobacco smoke (some people we teach are heavy smokers) with shoes that are now light pink instead of black (duuuuust). Exhausting, but satisfying. Not very many people wanted to hear, BUT we worked hard that day.
 Linda says she feels like a million bucks. Everyone she knows is shocked that she stopped smoking so fast, because she's tried many many times. "This time I had God on my side," she said. "And I wish I could brag, but I can't, because, y'know, God." And she laughs at herself because she used to be so sick of those people who would talk about God all the time, and now she is that person. "And I can't help myself!" She told everyone about her baptism. bahaha! She's so awesome. And Tate got ordained a deacon on mother's day! He's started counting the days when he can serve a mission. There are so many miracles happening in that family. I can't even comprehend it.
 Dara's really hard to get a hold of, because she's jsut sooooooooo selfless and serving all the time, and always responding to emergencies, ahaha. I'm sooo excited to meet her son, and I'm excited to get to teach her!
 I'm still surprised at how many people want to hear from us. I shouldn't be, because the Gospel is true and amazing and I've never seen so many miracles in my life, but I heard so many people complain about the Mormons and the missionaries, and I was scared. I'mm getting used to not listening to them, because a lot of people actually want it, and I keep thinking about LInda and Tate and what their lives have become, and the Spirit that's now in their home when we walk in, and it's just worth it.
 I love you all!!! thank you for the emails, I love reading your letters!!
 (Pictures!!! Finally!)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Not too hot for a scarf!

It's May, and that's NOT okay >.>
Hope y'all realize I'm still wearing scarves out here. It's not too hot for a scarf until it's over 95 F, haha.
 LINDA AND TATE GOT BAPTIZED!!! Just this Saturday!! It was SO COOL!! I'm so grateful that I got to see Linda and Tate at the beginning of my mission, because oh my gosh, their live have taken a complete 180. It's so, so crazy to see the Gospel work so totally in someone's life, and to see the light turn on behind their eyes, and to see just how much this has helped them. Linda explained how it didn't take away her problems, but with how much is on her plate, she feels a peace and a calmness knowing God's there and helping her and approves of her efforts and choices. It's helping me gain a little more confidence and courage, because if I could give someone what LInda and Tate have, it's so worth 30 seconds of awkwardness on the street or on a doorstep. We also talked to a recent convert who misses her missionaries so, so much, and keeps in touch with one of them. She was so grateful for their persistence, and regrets her "sassiness," and committed us to be bold, hahaha. Missions are awesome.
 We're teaching someone new! Her name is Dara, and she's so amazing and selfless. She's always volunteering. She started looking into religion because her son, who is mentally and physically handicapped, is suuuuper close to God. Some of the things he says are just amazing and incredible. He feels strongly that God gave him his infirmaries because He wants him to use it to help others who have it worse, and he wants to be a special ed teacher someday. She was turned off by religion for a little bit, because of some Christians who told her her son's problems were a curse from God, but she's out searching again, and really loves a lot of our beliefs, especially our views on baptism. It's hard sometimes to find time to teach her, because she's just so selfless and out helping people all the time. But whenever we get in contact with her, she's eager to pray with us for her friends and the people she helps.
 Hapi has decided she really, really likes the Relief Society!! She still doesn't talk to men, but she loooooves being with the Mormons! She says we're way too nice, haha. She's not interested in converting--whatever she likes from our beliefs, she just kinda adds it to her own Muslim-Catholic-Christian beliefs--but really, all she needs right now is to feel loved, and I'm so, so happy to see that we can do that for her. She's graetful for the patiences the women have in her English. She's still weirded out that we don't cover our heads and that we address God as our Father, but y'know.
 I don't have a lot of time, and I don't feel like my letters are expressing how awesome everything here really is. Missions are awesome, even when it's hard, and I'm standing by what I said when I said I've never been more satisfied or happier with my life. I love teaching and I love working so closely  with God. Thank you all for your letters! I look forward to them every week!!
 Love you all!
 -Sister Stratford
 (I'm still trying to figure out how to set up another blog. One of htese days, haha)