Monday, May 25, 2015

Happy Memorial Day!!

no library, playing on a blueooth keyboard I bought a while back.
Sorry if it's a bit clunky.

Happy Memorial day!!! We did some community service helping out for
celebraton on Saturday, and that was fun. C:

This week was SOO COOOL!! We had so many fun miracles!! One Thing
that was really fun, we did exchanges [can'nt fiind paranthesis] [when
we trade companions for traiing and learningpurposes, its an exchange]
and I got to go back into Laveen! I've done that before, but usually
Im justquietly hoping to see some of the eople I know and pretend like
I've never been in the area before, just do a normal exchange. But my
Sister Training Leader actually planned in a lot of the people she
knew would like to see me and who I would like to see again....I felt
guilty a lot because I wanted to focus on being a missionary and not
just reuniting with people I love, but it was really fun. We did do
teaching, anyway, and it was really incredible to see how far they've
come and what they're doing now and to testify and encourage them to
keep going. I missed them so much.

(If you haven't notice, I've definitely given up on the keyboard :p)

Julio continues to be the coolest person ever. He's really excited
about receiving the priesthood and had all sorts of questions about
it. It continues to be rough with his family accepting his choice. It
fluctuates, somedays they're totally fine with it, other days they
have a real problem with it. It's hard on him, but h plows on through.
He seriously has such a strong testimony. We just learned and are
excited to tell him, there was a less active youth who attended his
baptism. We'd been trying to meet with him, but he hasn't seemed too
keen with talking to us. He was really struggling with his testimony
and hasn't been coming to church. But when he listened to Julio's
testimony at the baptism, he felt the Spirit really, really strongly,
and he wants to come back to church and start living the standards
again. It really sparked a big fire in him. Man, I can't wait to tell
Julio! It'll help him feel good. Especially, imagine, what if he
serves a mission now because of Julio's testimony? And all those
people he'll help come closer to Christ in another part of the world,
and their families, just how cool is that?!

At church someone was talking about how hard it was to give up coffee.
Julio told them, "when I had cravings, I would just drink water and
read a scripture or two. That's how I got through it." Hahahaha!

Fashe has been struggling a little....I can't imagine what she must
be going through, she's in a country where no one speaks her language
(who speaks Croatian? We used to have a returned missionary in the
ward who did, but he just moved....gah!), she doesn't speak the
language very well, she can't read English at all, she has no
transportation, she wants to work but can't find a job.....and then
some of the stories she tells from before she came to the States are
insane. She hasn't told us anything about how she got here, but the
stories from her past are nuts. We have to teach one small, basic
principle at a time, with very simple sentence structure and words.
Teaching is going slow, but she loves it, and she's always praying and
learning from God, too. And He understands her, He can speak in a way
she can understand. She's so cool.

We had two really insane miracles this week! Very similar! So now
that we just have one ward to focus on, we can do everything we wanted
to do with this ward. It's a huge ward number-wise, but it's so small
because hardly anyone goes to church. So we just went through the list
and decided to go by names we don't recognize. Which is very easy and
productive to do, because I've been here since before Thanksgiving and
know a lot of members, including all the ones who moved out months ago
and who's new to the ward. So we fill in our appointments and who we
want to teach, and then fill in backups with members we don't know. So
one day, everything fell through so no sweat, we go to meet this
unknown member. She comes out and answers the door and tells us that
she doesn't really believe, but....she keeps talking to us, so we keep
talking to her. Eventually she admits, "normally I don't answer the
door for Mormons. Ever. But I don't know what I believe anymore, and
I've been praying so hard for the last three days that God would show
me the way to go. When I saw you through the window, I thought about
not answering, but....well, I'm not that stubborn, if this is His
answer I'm willing to take it." Then it was really cool to see how
relieved she was when we told her, "we're not here to present material
and tell you that you need to believe everything we say. We're here to
help you find the truth for yourself. We're really just guides to help
you look for and recognize those answers from God, and we never want
you to just take our word for it. Always pray and ask God for
guidance." She was pretty excited to set up another time with us. It
was so cool!

Second miracle, there's this door we've knocked on a few times
before, a referral from the Spanish elders, but no one has ever
answered. They've always just kinda been a backup to appointments in a
place we don't have a lot of people to work with. Suddenly my
companion has a little freak out, "what if we're knocking on the wrong
door? Wasn't it 22? Are you sure it was 21? I'm certain it's 22."
Nothing I'm saying is helping her, so she eventually just pulls me to
knock on this other random door. Meh, best case scenario, someone
there wants Jesus whether it's who were looking for or not, worse case
scenario, they don't want to hear it and say no.

So we knock on this door and it's not the one we're looking for, but
we find this random member whose name we don't have and who hasn't
been to church since she was 16. And, whenever we asked her why she
stopped, it was all social reasons. Imperfect people, especially
imperfect children and teenagers. She doesn't remember anything about
the doctrine. We showed her the Book of Mormon and she wasn't too keen
on reading it. "I never wanted to open it again, if it allowed so much
hypocrisy in a church." But when we told her it was a record of a
people in ancient America written around the same time as parts of the
Bible, and that God wasn't just talking to a small group of His
children in the Holy Lands but was talking with all His children, she
got really interested. "I don't remember that," she said, "but it
makes a lot of sense. Yeah, I'd like to read it again, actually. Maybe
I'll understand it this time." She was very happy to set up another
time to meet, too.

My companion, man. :p she was so right when she said that that was
the door we were actually supposed to be knocking at. Haha!

I think that's it for me. I've never been happier. We went through a
few rejections this week, but the miracles were way better. There is
nothing better than helping people come closer to the Savior. I love
wearing His name next to mine on my chest. I love watching lives
change, there's just nothing better than a mission, guys. It's really
the best thing ever!

I love you all! :)

Sister Stratford

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mormon Battalion Hike Pictures

 I know I took some on my camera, but I can't find are some from my companion's camera.
Man, what a week. :)

 JULIO GOT BAPTIZED!!!!! wooooooooooo!!! :D It was such a great baptism, too. For those who haven't served a mission yet, you'll learn that the best baptisms always start out looking like they're going to go horribly wrong. No worries, they'll be the most spiritual baptisms ever. His wife got to come!! And his parents, too, they were so angry when he first told them, but they came to his baptism and really seemed to enjoy it!! And when he bore his testimony at the There was so much stuff he hadn't told us, so many miracles all lining up in his life. He bore a bold and powerful testimony to his family. It was just the greatest.

 We were looking through his teaching record. We seriously just taught him 5 lessons. And even then, he already knew everything because he found the baptismal questions and studied them and prayed about them himself. So he had a testimony about everything before we had even taught it. Julio, why are you so cool?!

 He had a really neat comment in the sunday school class yesterday. He said something along the lines of, "For a long time repentance didn't make a lot of sense to me. I"m allowed to be weak, no one is perfect. And God made me that way for a reason, so it must be okay to be that way. But the sisters shared Ether 12:27 with me, which tells us that God gave us weaknesses so that we can learn and grow and become strong through overcoming them. So giving us a weakness is like assigning us a project. I realized that's what repentance was, and why we had to change." That was a really cool thought, and one I really needed to hear. 

 Being imperfect is a crazy adventure, and we're destined to overcome it. The odds are stacked in our favor, all we need is a Savior and a determination to not give up.

 The mortal experience is great fun!

 So fun news....Ramon is no longer couch surfing! Or at least, the place he's at right now is more solid than it's been in a good long while. He still wants to move back into our ward. But guess what?! He's in the ward I served in in Laveen!!! That's a good ward, and they'll take good care of him. C: we got him in contact with the sisters there and they've started working with him again. I've been so worried about him, it's nice to be able to breathe again. He's doing okay, still enjoying the Book of Mormon, still focused on going to the temple one day. That's really how you know they're solid, when their goal isn't just baptism, it's getting to the temple with their family.

 So we've picked up someone new. Or kinda new. I don't think I've written much about her. Her name is Fashe, we'll say. She's from some European contry I can't remember or even pronounce. I want to say Yugoslavakia, but that doesn't exist anymore. Y something slava. Anyway. She doesn't speak a lot of English. she's never taken a class. She came to AMerica and learned by listening and watching TV. So sometimes teaching is hard becasue of the language barrier. Basic words, basic grammar, as simple as you possibly can. But we got her a Croatian Book of Mormon, and she was just the happiest person in the world right then. She was so excited!! We also got her a Restoration pamphlet in Croatian, and that was awesome too. We'd been trying to teach the Restoration, and she wasn't completely understanding it, but she read it in Croatian and prayed about it and she knows it's true and she's so excited to be baptized!!! She's so neat. She was raised Muslim, but discovered Christ when she came to America. She's very close to the Spirit, recieves impressions and promptings all the time, and has told us the whole guiding process of finding her Savior and then finding this church. It's been really fun to work with her!

 I think that's it for's been a really fun week, and I've been so happy being a missionary!! Also, it rained this week :3 always a good thing when it's May and summer still hasn't come! We were getting worried in April there. Should be coming right round this corner, though. 

 Thanks so much for your prayers and support!! I love you all so much!! <3

 -Sister Stratford

Monday, May 11, 2015


Man, it was so fun to talk to my parents yesterday!! You guys rock! I
have the best mother in the world!!! :) Mother's Day is the biggest
Holiday next to Christmas when you're a missionary. Because we get to
call home!

Btw, not trunky at all, but I have it marked on my calendar that
tomorrow I can start the psalms countdown. Read a psalm a day
backwards from 150 until I come home. It was a cute idea at the start
of my mission, but honestly that is WAY too far away to start counting
down and it was just a dumb idea, but if any of you want to, have fun,
psalms is my favorite book in the Old Testament.

Also, the Doctrine and Covenants countdown will not be happening for
me. A lot of missionaries start that at 138, but that's way too long.

What I WILL be doing, though, when I have 60 days left, I'll read a
chapter of Alma a day. But starting on chapter 1, because of the
story. That's a shorter amount of time and Alma is a really inspiring
book for a missionary, so I won't get too trunky. Y'all should
definitely join me on that one, when that time comes. Alma is my
favorite book in the Book of Mormon.

Anyway, this morning our mission did a hike on the Mormon Battalion
trail. So much fun!!! Then we sat in the shade and there was an expert
there who told us all about all the crazy miracles that happened and
the trailblazing they did. There was a ton of cool stories and history
and stuff, but he said one really neat thing that I think is really
applicable. The US government gave the battalion 42 dollars per man
for a uniform allowance. They all decided that they would go without a
uniform and just wear normal everyday clothes, and send that money
back to Iowa to he their families get the supplies to cross the plains
without them. Right now I'm in uniform and will be for a long time
yet, but generally everyone is fighting their battles are trying to do
good with no uniform at all. We're indistinguishable one from another,
so you can't often see right off who's a solider and who's a civilian.
But we're here to help each other, blaze trails, and help out where we
can. Super inspiring people, something that will be fun to look up
more when I get home.

Julio is getting baptized this Saturday!! Yeah!! We're so excited and
he's so excited and the ward is super excited for him and things are
going well. He actually had an ancestors on the Mormon Battalion, he
told us. The only Mormon in his family before him. He's so into family
history, hahaha. It came from nowhere, he knows so much about his
family now. He likes it.

We're still in contact with Ramon....I don't remember what I've said
about him lately, but he's still moved out and couch surfing. He
epwants to find a place in this ward so bad, haha. He's grown attached
to the people, and they've all grown attached to him too, and people
are asking how he's doing and....he's still praying and reading and
determined to get to the temple someday. He's one of my heroes, he's
so cool.

Anyway, I'm running out of time, but o think that's it for me! Thanks
so much for the emails and the prayers and the thoughts, I love you
all and I love being a missionary for the Lord! Wouldn't trade it for
anything. We do have a Savior, and His power to change hearts is real.
It's an exciting time to be alive!

Y'all are the best! :)

Sister Stratford

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Monday, May 4, 2015

pics: Dance Floor

When the elders set up the beds, we asked specifically for them to be placed in a way that we get a dancefloor in the middle. Being total goofballs, they put a sign on the door that said "Warning, dance party sisters only!" and a sign in the middle that said "EVACUATE THE DANCE FLOOR"

 I have more pictures of how they did our dance floor, pero, las otras hermanas ellos tienen. I'll send them next time, when I can steal them :p

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It's That Time of Year again!

No way, it's already May!!

 And before I forget, HAPPY STAR WARS DAY! May the faith be with you! I mean, May the fourth.

 So we've been watching the temperature thingie in our car start creeping up to 100 and 102 and we're like, "Yup, that's happening again."

 Brace yourselves. Summer is coming. 

 BUT. I've decided I love Phoenix summers because, last year, when I came in in July there were big fluffy clouds and lightning storms and every now and again we'd get some rain. And that's been happening. Last night we sat outside to watch the lightning before going to bed. I love it SO MUCH and I hope I get to spend the summer in at least a similar weather pattern. Summer in Casa Grande and Maricopa was just hot hot hot with no clouds ever. :p The people were why I loved serving there so much, haha

 Having short hair is really nice when it's hot. 

 Julio is so crazy insane ON FIRE. He keeps texting us questions about what he's reading and little testimonies. He admitted to us, "I skipped 2 Nephi because I didn't understand that okay?" 
YES. That's totally fine. Hahahahahaha. Just make it to Enos, it picks back up with the stories again! We were so glad he didn't just give up.
  When we told him he had to wait until we got through all the lessons to be baptized, just to give him time to really have a testimony of what he was getting into and to give him time to try out living all the commandments, he downloaded Preach My Gospel and has been reading the lessons we teach!!! XD Also all the rest of Preach My Gospel, so he's read all the baptismal interview questions, all of our purpose as missionaries, he knows all our secrets! hahahaha. He's so cool. Everyone should read Preach My Gospel anyway. He's been having tons of fun on the Gospel Library app.

 Also, he loves doing family history work. He talks about how his grandma would try to show him photos and stuff and he just felt like it was the most boring thing in the world and would try to get away. Now, without us teaching him about why family history is important to us, he suddenly got a crazy urge to find everyone and understand their story. He visited his grandma and spent hours looking at old photos and journal entries and everything. His wife, Kristen, has lost interest, though. Which kinda makes him sad, but she was never really looking for a church, just a good place where her son could grow up. She likes the church a lot and feels this is the best place for her son, and is happy with the changes her husband is making, but no longer wants to sit in on lessons or anything. 

Ramon's doing well. Still kinda couch surfing. He's going out of his way to try and find an apartment in the ward boundaries, though. He has friends here, he wants to be baptized and go to church here. Sometimes we're like, "Ramon, don't kill yourself, just find yourself a stable place to be! The church is worldwide, it teaches the exact same things everywhere you go, there are missionaries everywhere, it's okay!" Nope, he's attached to this ward. This ward plays basketball together. Haha. It sounds like he might have found a place, though. We still pray for him and call him frequently. He still finds a lot of comfort in the Book of Mormon battles. War picked up again in Helaman. 
 It's been a really good week. We've finally kinda settled in, though it's wierd living with four other missionaries who aren't even in your zone. I've learned a lot about changing and becoming. Needing change doesn't mean you're an awful person. It's okay to have things to improve on. You can be happy with where you're at while still having a long way to go. Just because you're not at the top of the mountain and still struggling to hold on doesn't negate the fact that you just climbed 150 ft. I've loved being a missionary so much. It's been the craziest journey of my life, really high highs and very low lows, but every bit of it has been worth it. I'm glad I still have forever left. A whole season. I don't go home until fall, and Arizona doesn't even really have a fall, so I have forever left. 

 Sister WIlliams and I have a theme for this transfer. We didn't agree on it or look for one or anything, it just kinda happened. We're determined to conquer this transfer. :p We are conquering the things we want to conquer, whatever it may be!

 Thanks so much for all your support and your love! I love and miss you all, and I can't wait to talk to my family on Mothers day! Eeee!

 You're the best! <3

 -Sister Stratford

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