Monday, July 27, 2015


Me and my trainee!! Fresh off the plane!! :D It's weird because she kinda looks like Sister Hutchison, who trained me. So weird.

We got to go to the Phoenix temple!! IT'S SO PRETTY!!! (obviously, still in Phoenix in this picture)

Me and Julio in the Church yard.


#MissionLife #TheDream #LosSeunosDeLaMisionera

We tried to bake cookies at Transfer meeting. And tried again with the popcorn. After 3 hours the cookies were only sorta baked (great for pazookies, if we had ice cream :D) and still a no go on the popcorn. Maybe someday.

Cactus Fruit

Alright so real quick before I forget

 Next Thursday--Not this Thursday, but next Thursday--we're starting the Alma countdown. Countup, actually, because we're starting with Chapter 1. If you don't have a Book of Mormon, or if it's next Thursday and you're too lazy to pick it up, you can find it here:  The book of Alma is my favorite. It has most of my favorite scripture stories. I'm hoping I'll be able to post my thoughts on each chapter on Facebook everyday, but we'll see how that goes. Anyway, nothing in the Book of Mormon makes sense unless you read the introduction first, so make sure you do that.

 October is like two months away. What is this madness.

 So we've kinda been taking this area slowly. We can't really tell who the misisonaries before us were teaching, because the areabook is a small explosion, so we've kinda just been going by everyone and trying to get to know the area. Phoenix is a grid system, so it's weird trying to navigate Maricopa.

 We did have a little bit of an adventure, though. :p So the cacti are fruiting right now, and I asked my companion, "ever had cactus fruit before?" She said no, so we pulled over to pick some from one that wasn't in someone's yard. I love how it tastes, but I've also learned (the hard way) that you have to be really careful picking it, because it's covered in spines. So I warned her, "Don't touch anything that isn't red, or you'll get pricked."

 She got the fruit...but she wasn't careful enough....XD I saw them all go into her hands, and we tossed the fruit into the back seat of the car and pulled cactus spines out of each other's hands. She didn't feel them or know they were there until I pointed them out. They hurt later. They're evil like that. It's sitting in the fridge right now, partly because I'm bitter at it for what it did to our hands, mostly because she decided to try and make a drink out of it. :p It was a fun little adventure.

 While I don't have a lot of cool stories or people to talk aboutthis week, I do have a strong testimony of the tender mercies that come in hard times. God doesn't remove the situation or make things easier, but He does send little messages that He's still there, He hasn't left, and He's still in control. Usually those messages are very personal in a way that only you will know. A bid landed on the window sill while I was studying. A member gave me a jar of raw honey. Little things that don't mean much, but mean everything in the moment, because it means we have a loving Father in heaven who knows just what little thing will give us the strength to keep going.

 Ultimately, life is good. It is good because we have a Savior who makes everything fair in the end.

 I love you all! Thanks for the letters and prayers and encouragement!! You are the best and I miss you so much!! <3

 -Sister Stratford


Monday, July 20, 2015

The Copa Chiasmus

So I spend a year in Phoenix and I'm like, "I'm gonna see what else is
out there in the mission! Where will I go?!" And I get sent to
MARICOPA!!!! Wooooooo! I was trained here!! Haha. Oh man, it's so
nostalgic and weird.

Especially since, I'm training!!! Ahhhh!! XD trained in Copa, Went to
Phoenix, trained in Copa. #Copaisdopa

Whitewash training is so, so hard, especially when our area book is a
total mess and we basically have absolutely nothing to work with. :p I
spent the first bit of my mission feeling overwhelmed and stressed and
crying every night (but still feeling happier than I ever have in my
life, somehow), and I feel like I'm probably going to end it the same
way. Yeah!

I'm going home in less than three months, it might as well be hard.
I'd be disappointed if I had it easy at the end. This is the point
where I could probably handle the most.

Ugh, Copa, forgot how beautiful it is here and how amazing the people
are. I miss Phoenix so much, but it's nice to be back in Copa.

(Yes, I did spend some time in Casa Grande, but Casa grande is
basically Copa. In fact, I think a bit of my Casa Grande area is now
in my area.)

It's been a slow moving week, since we're trying to get to know the
area and settle in and figure out what we're doing with our lives.
Some Phoenix news, Fashe was finally able to come to church again!
It's been a really hard couple of months on her, and there's only so
much a couple of kid missionaries can do. Especially when we just
can't meet with her.

Julio is doing okay, but he just looks so tired trying to stand
strong while his family's attacking him all the time. And due to a
house accident, they're all in a small hotel room together now, so
being in tight quarters with each other, it's even harder. I continue
to pray for him....I'm kind of protective of him :p just hoping he's
able to stay strong through all of it.

I'll let you know how this areas doing when we can get around to
actually finding and teaching. We've stopped by some of the members,
and they're great. We actually live with our Ward mission leader, so
that's kind of a tender mercy. He also knows everyone in the Ward and
everyone the elders were seeing, so that helps with the disastrous
area book. There have been so many tender mercy miracles all this
week. God really does take care of His children.

I have no way of uploading pictures right now, but we tried the
popcorn again during transfer meeting, plus baking cookies. The
cookies were half baked after three hours--not good as cookies, but
they looked like they'd be great pazookies!--but the popcorn was still
a bust. Ah, well. That was during the morning hours, we'll try to see
if there's a way to do that during the afternoon or something.

It's been in the 80s and 90s in Maricopa. :) also cloudy and rainy. Love it.

I love you all! The Gospel really is true, and I'm loving being a
missionary! Heavenly Father really does look out for us and carry us
if we rely in Him and not our own strength. All we have to do is pray
and do our best.

Miss you! You're the best! :)

Sister Stratford

Monday, July 13, 2015

Stay by the tree!

Sister Stratford

Took a selfie when on exchanges with Sister Wright. :) that tree is in
the middle of our church building. Wierdest set up ever, but it makes
for good exchange selfies.

Last 12 weeks

This is technically week one of the next transfer, even though
transfers aren't until Thursday. So officially 12 weeks left. 12 is
such a small number. Where did July even go? Last I checked it was

Don't know what's happening this transfer, but I'm fairly certain I'm
going. I've broken records here, haha. Though I've been certain I was
leaving for the last 4 or 5 transfers, so who knows. Logic means
nothing when it comes to predicting transfers.

I'm hoping I train a new missionary. I've wanted that since the start
of my mission.

It was such a good week!! We did so much good work!

One lesson we taught was a family whose mom was a fiery new convert
with a powerful testimony, but the son and daughter in law weren't
really interested. So we taught a little about the Restoration, and
they didn't have a problem with any of it. They believed what we
taught was possible, they had felt the Spirit when the mom had
testified to them before, but something was missing. We offered a
BoM,and they told us they had several copies but didn't have a reason
to read it.

So we asked, "Do you want to know if the Book of Mormon is true?"
Which is one of my favorite questions to ask. It's a soul searching
question, if they really want to know the truth for themselves. And
they get to determine their own level of commitment. And it was cool
to watch them think, and he told us, "I don't think I'm ready to find
out yet. If God told me it was true, I'd have to change my whole
lifestyle. Am I ready to quit [certain habits and activities]? Uproot
everything I do? No, I'm not ready for that, even if God told me it
was true. I don't really want to ask Him if it's true yet."

Man, I just love asking that question. We taught about faith and
trusting God and all the blessings God has to offer us. We had another
lesson with them, where we introduced the BoM in more depth—where it
comes from, what it's about, etc. we read the introduction with them,
and at one point, the husband stopped paying attention. He read the
intro himself, and then he got real curious and kept reading ahead,
got somewhere into 1Nephi....we just let him....XD when we left, he
said he would keep reading.

Speaking of faith and trusting in God, in another lesson we were
teaching a couple who is less active and is trying to get back into
living the Gospel, but are just struggling. They've admitted totally
that they know what they're supposed to be doing, but consciously
choose to not do it. At one point they ask, "What happens to us if we
know what's right and we still choose not to do it?"

I'm not a hellfire preacher, and neither is Sister Williams. We
showed them a video called "Your Potential and Privelege." (You can
look it up if you want, it's really good. I might put a link up on
this blog. We're allowed to have blogs as missionaries, and the
blogger app is good for download now, so I maybe updating this more
frequently....especially during the Alma countdown. I hope you all do
that with me! It starts in like a month :p) You don't need to be a
hellfire preacher, I think it's bad enough to know what you're missing
out on. It hit home pretty good.

Honestly, God doesn't really have to punish us. The laws he set
aren't arbitrary. They're there because He knows the natural
consequences. To put it proverbially, He tells us to it touch the
stove because it will hurt us, and if we do it anyway, there's no need
for punishment. It's just consequence. So when we don't keep His
commandments, the natural consequence is simply, we are not as happy
as we could be. We don't get His Spirit to guide and help us. We don't
get peace. Life is hard, not the Gospel. It will be hard, that's just
mortality. Might as well trust someone who knows the safest and
happiest way through and get His help.

We met with Michelle and got to teach her about faith and moving
forward with trust! We also sang "Come, Come, Ye Saints." She loves it
when we sing. Also, that suing is just so encouraging. It's gotten so
much deeper meaning for me on the mission. Done just right, it makes
me cry. So while you're on YouTube looking for President Uchtdorf
talking about "your potential, your Privelege," check out piano guys
playing come come Ye saints. I cry every time.
She's doing better. It's been incredible seeing her journey.

We haven't heard from Julio, and we're feeling a little worried. :(
if I'm transferred, I plan on keeping in touch via Facebook. He
deserves all the support and encouragement in the world.

And btw, it's still very very hot. But not hot enough to pop popcorn
or bake cookies anymore. :C I hope I didn't miss my window of

Thanks for all your love and support! You are the best! :D there is a
Savior who loves you, and the Gospel is true!

Love you all!

Sister Stratford

Monday, July 6, 2015

Independence and Freedom!!!

Aw yeah, 'Murica!! We had a good 4th of July. We had to be in early,
and we were planning on having some party time, but honestly we all
were just so exhausted that we played two or three games of Boggle and
just wrote in our journals. It was nice to have some rest, haha.

This was my last "go-in-early" holiday of my mission. Weird.

Also, July 2nd officially marked me being here for a full year. At
this time last year, I wrote to tell you all that I was in Phoenix and
that I loved Laveen. I've served in this stake for a year. We
celebrated by having ice cream. And, on that same day, I got my trunky
call. Which is when they call and say, "we have to book your flight 90
days before you go home, so we need to know which airport is closest
to home."

I go home in (circa) 90 days. Gah. You guys, when I first came to
Phoenix, I was bewildered and blinking and had just finished my 90
days of training. I've like spent my whole mission here. So crazy....

We had two people walk into church just off the street, yesterday!!
That was super fun! We have the "visitors welcome" sign, like all
church buildings do, so it's nice when someone takes us up on the
offer :p

Julio got to go to the temple this week!!! Yeah! He loved it! He had
such cool experiences in the temple, and some he said he couldn't
quite describe because words would ruin it. However, his family has
gone from disapproving but supportive enough to come to his baptism,
to not supportive at all, to actively trying to pull him away from the
church. It's so sad! The day after the temple, his family decided he
needed an intervention and they cornered him in a circle to tell him
why this church was evil, showed him some videos, tried to convince
him to leave. He's taking it like a boss, though. He was like, "you
guys don't get it. I just went to the temple yesterday and had all
these cool indescribable experiences. It's the truth, and I can't deny
that." Still, good attitude or no ("well, it was the first time we'd
all been together in years, so there's that!"), we can see that it's
really rough on him—how can it not? I can't imagine, that'd be so
hard!—and we make sure his friends in the ward know somethings going
on and he needs some solid support. No journey or adventure was ever
meant to be had alone, especially when it's this hard. That's why the
Savior did what He did, so even when we feel alone, we're not. He's
there, and wherever there are true Christians, true followers of His
Word, no one ever needs to be without a friend.

Michelle is feeling better, thank goodness! But, when we went, she just has so many bad influences. There's so much
darkness when we go by to see her, and it's so sad. She's looking for
the light, and she sees it and recognizes it when it's there, but
she's just not strong enough to keep it around with so much darkness
around her. We're trying to see her everyday to try to keep her

We've been eager to try the popcorn experiment again, but we've had
such beautiful weather lately, it hasn't been hot enough! Beautiful
clouds and summer rain and thunderstorms, it's been awesome! I love
cloudy weather and wind. It makes me feel like I'm on the brink of
doing something amazing. It's nice when it's warm instead of cold,

I love being a missionary! I love the weather and the people and the
work and the Lord! There has seriously been nothing better in my life.
Serving a mission has been my best decision in my life.

Thanks for the prayers and encouragement! I love and miss you all! :)

Sister Stratford