Monday, September 29, 2014


Happy Birthday, Daddy!!! I love you!!!!! <3

 So I have like 20 minutes left hm what can I write

 Merry and her family threw a surprise birthday for me on MOnday. :) That was sooooo fuuuuuun....I'm so glad I'm not leaving this area. Too many families I love here. I can't imagine saying goodbye to anyone.

 Lizzy's been so stressed it's been causing some bad medical problems. We got a priesthood blessing for her. it was a super powerful experience. She still doesn't like the idea of organized religion, or hte idea of one true Church or one right religion, but she seemed to really enjoy that blessing. I don't know if I wrote about it last week, but we showed her the Gospel Library app and she FLIPPED A LID, she was so excited about everything there!! And she was excited to hear about the women's conference, too. She had a conflict and was sad until we told her it was a broadcast. Then she got excited again that she could listen to it while she did stuff. Technology is so great, guys :)

 We've been trying to contact David and Cindy all week. Cindy left us a voicemail that sounded like a not-goodbye, like she expected us to cut her off and never talk to her again so I'm saying goodbye but I don't really want to. She really embarrassed herself, we don't think she's comfortable around us anymore. :C Which is reaaaally sad....we really, really don't want to give up for her. I saw what this did for her, for just a few weeks she was a little bit happier, a litlte more hopeful, a little more certain that there was a Father in Heaven who loved her. it's hard to give up on someone when you've SEEN that. We're going to keep leaving her notes and trying to convince her tat we still love her and we're not going to cut her off just because she was drunk at church.

 The women's broadcast was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!! The women here basically partied all day, haha!! We ate salads and cakes and ice cream and made crafts and we had display tables for family history, history of the scriptures (one sister brought a 200-year-old German family Bible, SO COOOOOL!!), and the temple open house coming up this month. :D We've been handing out invitations to that like candy, btw. Lots of people didn't get to see the Gilbert temple when it was open, so they get another chance! Not to mention, people have heard how "secret" our temples are, so they get kinda surprised and really intrigued when we hand them an invitation and say, "Do you want a guided tour?!?" haha. 

 Anyway, the broadcast. I know I had so many questions answered. We had Tanya was really kinda cool, I loved hearing hte women speak, but she felt a difference between them and when President Ucthdorf talked. There's really a difference when an Apostle of the Lord speaks. 

 Tammy and Tallie and their mom (who was baptized years ago but has been struggling with church attendance) were there too and loooooved it. They're getting more and more excited about the temple celebration!! And their mom was hit hard, too. She;s got a sudden fire to make her home more Christ-centered, to read scriptures and to pray (she struggled with that hard before) and help her daughters feel the Spirit more. That was really cool to see. 

 I have so much more to say, dangit, but I love you all and you're all amazing!!! I'm still happy, I've never been happier! The mission has been the best thing of my life! I know Christ lives, I know God loves us, and I love the scriptures! I know the Bible and hte Book of Mormon are true books containing the Word of God! 

 You are all awesome! <3

 -Sister Stratford

Monday, September 22, 2014

Awesome Birthday!! C:

I need to keep a better note of what I want to share in these letters. Things happen, and I think, "haha, better write about that on Monday!" Then Monday comes around and I only remember what happened since Friday. Especially when it's as crazy as it's been. 

 btw, we got transfer calls, and Sister Nelson and I are staying another transfer. :D Good....i love Laveen, and I love these people, and I didn't want to leave.

 One of hte really fun things I love about being a missionary, is people make me think. People ask questions I've never thought about, because I've always considered them so obvious, having grown up with religion, but then when I'm asked to answer them, I really have to think. Questions like, "What does it matter to me if there's a prophet on the Earth? How would that affect me and my relationship with God?" "What was the point of Christ's horrible death on the cross?" "What can Christ and His sacrifice offer me?" "How can He help me change?" "How can I be happy?" "How do I know if heaven is worth it?"

 And one of hte most valuable things I've learned, is why Christ answered questions with questions. At the beginning of the week I started just answering them because I've known and lived the answer my whole life, should be pretty simple to talk about. Mm, nope, doesn't work. That's not how Christ taught His disciples, that's not how God answered my questioning prayers, that's not how people find their answers. And when I stopped and listened, I questions began to form in my mind that I could share with these people to help them understand. When I was asked, "Why did Christ have to suffer so much? What was the point?" I was able to ask, "What would've happened if He had NOT suffered? Where would we be then?"

 And she thought about it, and then she realized that there really is such a dire need for a Savior. Everyone needs a Savior. And once people see that need, they immediately start to listen for the voice of the Shepherd. They get that desire to come closer to Him. 

 You guys, it's the most incredible thing to see people light up with that desire. I can't even describe it. It's just amazing, and I'm so grateful that I get to see it. I'm grateful I get to be the messenger and bring the good news.

 Cindy was one of those people. She got so thirsty for the Gospel and loved to hear about Jesus Christ, and it was neat to see her start to come closer to Him. She misses her Bible, so we were able to give her a Bible and a Book of Mormon, and she was eager to read it.

 There was an incident on Sunday, sadly...I won't tell the story, because I'm positive it's not one she would want on the internet, even with the name changed. But if I had a "mission bingo" board, I get to put a marble on the "Drunk Investigator at Church" square. She absolutely loves church and looks forward to it every week, but right now we're hoping she'll still be willling to let us come and talk to her. We really hope she's not too embarrassed and that church is still something she wants. We love her so much, and we've seen what good it can do for her--we've seen a little glimpse during lessons, when she feels the Spirit and desires that relationship with her Savior. We want this for her so badly. 

 We invited Tanya to the General Women's broadcast this Saturday (YOU GUYS I'M SO EXCITED WHO ELSE IS EXCITED?!?!? GENERAL CONFERENCE IS STARTING AHHHHHHHHH) and she sounded really excited to go. She really likes Yoshi a lot and asked if she'd be there. So glad God knows better than us; by our logic, we never would've guessed those two would click, but hey, God's the one in charge and not us. Thank goodness. Tanya is soooo neat, though....we're mainly hoping she's patient enough and not too frustrated to hear those quiet impressions from the Holy Ghost. She wants her answer so badly, right now, clear as day. She just wants to KNOW, now. What she's heard, though, she loves the doctrine. She loves the idea of eternal families and a prophet and apostles and continued revelation and the Book of Mormon and especially the Plan of Salvation. She loved the visitor's center at the Mesa temple and wants to take her daughter, her sister, her mother, everyone to go see it. 

 And speaking of temples, the Pheonix open house starts...October, I think? :D Super excited. That's always a great opportunity for people, to be able to walk through the temple and see everything and experience it. Soooo excited!

 My birthday was awesome!!!! 21 on the 21st, it's my golden birthday and my golden year!! Definitely golden, because I'm spending it entirely on a mission!!!!!! Everyone should be jealious, hahahahaha. So excited for this year in my life!! I have about a year left....I go home first week of October next year, so yeah, I've got a whole year left to go. That feels nice. C: Going home will be hard.

 Yesterday was busy, so we're more celebrating it today. We're going out to dinner :)

 and you wanna know what made it the BEST BIRTHDAY EVAR?!?!?!? Besides being on a mission?!?!?!

 So on the 20th, Elder Christofferson was like, "I'm in the area....can we just gather the whole Tempe Arizona mission together so I can meet them and talk to them?" And not just him, but also Bishop Davies (Presiding Bishopric) and Elder Corbridge (Quorum of the Seventy). It was basically General Conference early, which is basically Christmas early :D It was so awesome!!! I get General Conference three weeks in a row!!!!!!

 .....I don't have a lot of time, why did I save that for the end? Well, it was awesome and he said some suuuuuuuper cool stuff, had a little Q&A, as well. Which is always exciting, when an Apostle has a Q&A. :)

 I love you all!!! Thanks so much for your love and your letters!!!! God bless!!

 -Sister Stratford

Monday, September 15, 2014

How many letters have the word "miracle" in the title?!

So this week was AWESOME!! A little rough and very exhausting, but awesome!!!

 So we got to talk to Tanya, and she brought up the stuff she read on the internet. It was really simple stuff to discuss and resolve, and while it seemed at the beginning of the conversation she was prepared to drop us, she quickly decided that wouldn't be a good idea. She feels so confused, because the internet is saying one thing and we're saying another. 

 Here's kinda the cool thing, though; the reason she went on the internet hunting for so long and read and watched so much stuff is because she is just SO HUNGRY to know the truth for herself. She's been praying and reading and studying, and she really wants to know which way she's supposed to go. Which is great. We encouraged her to go straight to the horse's mouth and read from teh Book of Mormon, and listen to General Conference.

 There's a recen convert (Yoshi) we've been talking to (she's been baptized for like two years now) and we kept getting a prompting to see, everyday. And we started thinking, "alright, is this God telling us to do something, or do we jsut really like to be around her?" But, she needed us everyday that week. Badly. 

 When we're in a lesson with Tanya, we kept getting the impression, "She needs to be friends with Yoshi." Which, honestly, defied logic for me, because Yoshi talks a lot, and Tanya needs to be listened to. Yoshi was a reverand before she converted and actually joined the Church because she knew the Bible so well, and it was the only religion that had everything the Bible had. She knows everything, and tells us everything and is always explaining scripture and what this prophecy meant and this and that, and we love it, but the last thing we want to do to an investigator is firehose her to bits.

 The problem is, Tanya kinda has been wanting to be firehosed. ANd she's been firehosing herself with the wrong stuff. So, as always, turns out God knows better than we do and they hit it off. Yoshi took her and us to the Mesa temple visitor's center. We watched the videos and she talked all about temples and prophets and apostles and the Book of Mormon and everything. Tanya really seemed to enjoy it. She also relates a lot with Yoshi, and they seem to enjoy being together. 

 Cindy and David loooove going to Church. They absolutely love the Church. They just don't see any reason to be baptized into it, when they can just attend. Haha. Well, it's a start. Sometimes Cindy is hard to teach because she talks so much, and tbh, we can't always tell if she's sober or not, but when she wants to listen, she REALLY listens, and she feels the Spirit, and you can see that she wants to be forgiven and she wants this badly. She struggles with the idea of a Savior, the reason why Christ had to go through what He went through, but while she can't really name that that's what she wants, the way she talks and asks questions, you can see that's exactly what she wants in her life. I love working with these people, so much. I love seeing them grow and watching God's hand work in their life.

 Tammy and Talie haven't been coming to church. :C BUT They've been practicing for the cultural celebration (Phoenix temple is opening up soon!!) and they absolute love that!! 

 It was really fun, we're close friends with the members who divied up the partners. And we were asking who Tammy and Talie's partners were, and also the Amary teenaged girl (She's not a member, but she enjoys mutual). And when we heard, our jaws droped, because THEY WERE SO PERFECT!!!!! And we were jumping and getting all excited, it was just so amazing how they got exactly the kind of partners they needed to make this a good experience for them. So we asked these members how they decided on partners. They said they prayed about it and did it kinda like how they assign Visiting or Home teachers.

 Boy, was it clear. It was SO COOL. Only God could make it that perfect.

 We ran into an interesting fellow last night. We were walking passed to knowck on a door of a person we were looking for, and he was really warm and friendly and waved. He asked if we were Mormons, and we said we were. Apparently he had met with missionaries about a year and a half ago. He absolutely loved our Church. He loved the Book of Mormon and the doctrines and the standards and the culture, loved everything about it. "If I had the choice between your church and hte one I'm going to know, I'd choose the Mormon Church," he said. Then he gave an apologetic shrug and said, "But....I'm Catholic. Always been, always will be. My whole family's Catholic. My parents are Catholic. My kids will be Catholic."

 So we probably won't be able to teach him, which is sad, but we hope to visit him maybe once or twice. He was SO NICE. Maybe next time we have treats to give out, we'll give them to him. So many people I just want to hang out and be friends with and bake treats for htem and their family all the time. I can't wait to have neighbors.

 yesterday was the primary program, btw. Merry was told a few days ago that she had the most kids in primary out of the whole ward.

 "I don't know if I should laugh or cry," she said. "Can I get a medal or something, at least?" haha. 

 ....I think that's it for the week. More stuff always happens, but that was the main stuff. Thanks for the leters and the prayers! I can feel the prayers, and it's a little crazy and weird, but I really appreciate them!! Thanks for being awesome people!! I love you all!!

 -Sister Stratford

Monday, September 8, 2014


It feels like the difficulty level in this area has cranked up a notch, haha. But we have a good handful of people to teach now!

 shoot, I haven't named her...her name's Tanya, she's the one who said that whenever something happens, we show up. We were teaching her more about the Restoration of the Gospel, and she was basically a textbook lesson, the kind that you see happen in seminary videos and in roleplays in the MTC but you know actually aren't real. It was the coolest thing. She had read both the pamphlets and started on the BoM, and was really liking what she was reading. She said she's be willing to pray to know if it was true, and she even asked how she'd get her answer. It was really fun, talking about the Spirit with her. She talked about the day we knocked, how she was in tears and didn't want to deal with ANYONE that day and wouldn't have opened the door, but "something" told her to anyway. She talked about the times she knew Jesus Christ was real and that He was her Savior, and she even said, "Wow, I've recieved a lot of answers, and I've felt the Spirit a lot...I guess I just never realized what it was." It was super exciting. She wanted to get baptized.

...Then she went on the internet. :/ Suuuuch a tool for good, and then suuuuuch a tool for bad. We're hoping to go back sometime this week...she said she'd be at church, but never showed up. :c *shakes fist* All you can do is bring the Spirit in and testify of truth, and the rest is all up to their agency, their right to choose for themselves. 

 Speaking of Internet, have I ssaid anything about my Facebook adventures? They've been pretty awesome....our goals on Facebook are different, if they're interested in talking with us we try to get them to meet with the missionaries in their area. So, there was one intellectual kid who was asking about archeological evidence of the BoM....which got my fingers itchy, because I googled that obsessively for a little bit and I had good stuff to say. But all the "evidence" in teh world doesn't amount to a testimony. I learned it was true because I read it and asked God, and because my answer came from God, I know with an absolute assurity that I can trust that answer, and it is true. So he got real interested and said he'd be alright with missionaries coming over to give him a BoM and talk more about it. :) That's something that's really fun for me, watching certain people go from intellectually interested to spiritually interested. Way fun.

 Lizzy is still struggling...she feels very abandoned by God. :c She still doesn't understand why bad people can get away with their bad stuff and the good people get trampled under. She liked some of hte plan of salvation, but doesn't feel like it answered her questions. She was interested in the BoM, though, and agreed to read it. We're mobilizing the Relief Society to make her feel loved and make it clear she doesn't have to go through anything alone.

...the funniest thing is, she really doesn't like organized religion. Well, this is the purpose of organized religion--to help out struggling sheep. So many people we meet, and I'm just like, "you know what you need? Relief Society." I felt that way with Hapi, too. But Lizzy likes to hear about God and likes to feel the Spirit, she just....doesn't know why God seems to have left her all alone to suffer....dangit, I just want people to be happy. :c

And someone who's REALLY fun!!!! Her name is Sindy, and her boyfriend David. David is no stranger to missionaries; he was almost baptized three times several years ago. Sindy is new, though. She's a little strange...I don't know how to describe her. But teaching her is difficult because she always goes waaaaaay off topic and just says whatever's on her mind for however long she wants to say it. XD Makes Gospel Principles class really fun (any missionary knows that that second hour of church gets really stressful). She talks to the speakers at the pulpit while they're giving their talk, too. XD She's a blast. It's these kind of people that makes transfers really scary....I never want to leave these people. I grow to love them SO MUCH, and I worry that whoever replaces me or my companion won't love them the way I do. I just want to work with them forever, I've totally fallen in love with them.

 We taught them some of the Restoration but had to kinda migrate onto the Plan of Salvation since that was their concern (no one ever wonders if the Gospel was restored, they're more interested in why they're there and what God's plan for them is and where they're going and why tought things are happening and why they should care about what Christ did for them...we try to teach the Restoration first, to show the significance of what we're teaching, but lately we keep teaching the second lesson first because those are the questions they're asking). But they seemed to really liek what they were hearing and reading. We had Sindy give the closing prayer, and she was all geared up to ask God all these questions and give Him a piece of her mind....but as soon as she started, she just burst into tears and started thanking Him for everything, even though she was still unhappy about her situation. She just felt so good and so loved and grateful that God had still given her these tender mercies in her life. It was so, so amazing. She's strange, but when you work with these people, you can just feel how much God loves them, and she feels the Spirit so strongly. She drinks it up, she absolutely loves the Gospel. 

 I love teaching people!! missions are the coolest thing ever!! Sisters don't have an age limit....if I wanted to, I could essentially become a "Mormon nun" and just serve mission after mission my entire life....somedays it gets tempting. :p

 But then you eat dinner with a young family and you think, "oh...I want this...."

 And then you miss your friends and family.

 But there are some moments where it is tempting. XD Missions are AWESOME.

 The other day we got to help the Amary's plant fruit trees! Sister Amary twisted her ankle at a camping trip, and farm deadlines need to be met, so we helped out.

 I can't wait to be able to plant things again!!! I want a farm, guys. Haha. Another thing I can't do as a "Mormon nun"....ah, well.

 I think that's it for me...I love you guys so much!!! Thanks for the letters and for the prayers, I can very much feel them! There is a God in Isreal and Jesus Christ is our Savior!!! It's been the coolest experience to watch and feel the Atonement at work. Thanks for sharing it with me!!

 -Sister Stratford

Monday, September 1, 2014

What's Changed Since Wednesday

The principle is still true; when it's hardest, that's when the coolest miracles come. It's been a HAAARD week, especially with p-day getting all messed up (thankfully it's all back to normal now, haha). I've never been so exhausted in my entire life. But I've also never been happier. I'm still in love with being on a mission, and there's still nowhere I'd rather be. It's the greatest. 

 We were finally able to meet with Lizzy again! It's hard to get with her because she's so crazy busy, and so much is happening in her life, but she really works hard to try and have us over. One of the hard things about being a just want everyone to be happy, but you keep running into these broken people who have a real hard time believing that God loves them and that everything will be okay. We hope we can continue to have miracles in finding her home, and keep trying to give her this amazing gift we have. She wants to believe God loves her, but she just doesn't see the evidence. She's doubtful, but she's reading the Plan of Salvation pamphlet again (she lost the one she marked up--it really stressed her out. :C) and the BoM, because she says she's willing to try anything to find out if He's really there for her.

 We found a woman named Angel! We've knocked on her door several times, and eventually she said, "I know when God's trying to tell me something. I figured I might as well let you guys in and hear what you have to say." haha! So that was fun. She set up a time we can meet with her every week. She has all sorts of Christians in her families, including Mormons, and she loves hearing about God. She started going through some rough family stuff right before we showed up, so she's eager to listen about the doctrine of the family. We're excited to work with her!

OH mission tours were this week!! Elder Schwitzer came and spoke to us, and that was really fun. Something that really stuck with me was what he said about testimonies, that they shouldn't just be an "I testify" thing. He talked about being a living testimony. Not just something we believe, but someone we are. Which was something I really needed to hear; I struggle with being a personable human being but also a missionary here to teach the Gospel. I shouldn't be balancing the two, I should be mixing them. And that way I can actually keep everything I learned and everything I became when I go home from this mission.

 Tammy and Talie and their mom have been slowly warming up to church. Tammy started going to seminary again, which is awesome! We had dinner at tehir house the other day (the grandma is DETERMINED to make me fat....>.> lol) and grandma pulled out the BoM and said, "I have some questions." which blew out mind, because she really doesn't care much about the Church and doesn't like reading scriptures. She's still reading about Amalickiah and the struggles, and she's actually getting into the stories. She's trying to figure out who the judges are, the king-men, who Alma and Helaman were, etc. 

 The scriptures are super cool, guys!! haha. They're so not boring. I have a lot of fun introducing people to scripture.

 I don't remember if I gave her a name, or even if I talked about her, but one woman we were hoping to teach (she was so excited about the Gospel and really interested in the idea of becoming Mormon...who actually says that the first time they talk to missionaries?!? SO COOL!) answered the door and said, "My husband was really unhappy that I was trying to get more information about you don't want to waste your time...." Argh, devastating. :C But she said she's still reading the BoM and she's really liking it, and she still has our number. we still have high hopes for her.

 Not a lot of time left, but thanks for everything you guys do! I love you and I love hearing from you! If I can't tell Lizzy, I"ll tell you: GOD LOVES YOU and He IS there for you!! Christ died so that you could live! <3

 Love you all! :3

 -Sister Stratford