Sunday, April 15, 2012

April 9, 2012

Hello Everyone!!

Hmm.... I dont even know where to start. It's been a pretty discouraging week to say the least. Everything is crumbling! No one wants to talk with us! Our investigators are avoiding us! Actually, we dont have any investigators at the moment, so thats not even true...
Ok... I'm done. I just wanted to complain for a minute. Missionary work is hard. But salvation is not a cheap experience, so I have no right to expect it should be easy! In the words of Elder Holland " Missionaries, you are not the first ones to ask if there is an easier way. The savior himself asked that very question in the Garden of Gethsemane."
Speaking of which, how was everyone's Easter? I think this was possibly the greatest easter i've ever had. The first time ever I truly got to spend the whole day focused on the Savior. We got to share the bible videos with a lot of members and there families yesterday. Have you all seen these? . Theyre really good. Anyway... there were many tears shed and testimonies born. It was amazing to see how the atonement affects everyone so individually. I complain about how things aren't going so well right now, but truly, I see miracles every day. Do you remeber a couple weeks ago when I wrote about sister madron? She left her husband who has been struggling with bi polar disorder. Well yesterday brother madron got up and bore his testimony on eternal families. Wow. Talk about someone who has used the atonement. Thats a miracle. We met with the newton family yesterday. The father was less active for years, and just a few months ago he's come back into activity, his wife and daughter were baptized, and they are preparing to be sealed in the temple. We showed them the video I linked above. Brother Newton cried through the whole thing. Another family who has used and come to deeply understand the atonement. Another miracle!
I know I dont bear testimony too frequently in my emails like other missionaries do. But I want you all to know that I know our savior lives! He loves and understands us more than we could ever comprehend. His atoning sacrfice means everything for us. Through him, all hurt can be healed, all sins can be washed away, and all our shortcomings and weaknesses can be overcome. And because he lives, we will too!
I love you all! have a wonderful week!
Sister Walker

Im attatching some pictures from this week. saturday sister richards and I had some fun in a parking lot with sidewalk chalk. We drew a giant plan of salvation and im holding my hand up because you're supposed to see their covered in chalk, but it didnt show up. Well anyone...We talked to a guy for about 25 minutes because of this! Taught him the whole plan of salvation with the diagram conviently right in front of us! Unfortunately, he doesnt wamt to meet with us :(

April 2,. 2012

Hello Everyone!!!

How was everyone's week? I hope you all enjoyed conference as much as I did! It goes by much too fast! I really loved Elder Holland and Elder Uchtdorf's talks.... we live in a world with way too much pride. I've made a resoloution to be kinder to everyone! And did you all see David Archuletta in the choir at the Saturday afternoon session? HA! For some reason his christmas album has become a bit of an inside joke with the entire mission. It's out of control. Good for him for going on a mission!
Well its been a bit of a rough week, Sister Richards and I are really struggling to find people to teach. I miss the africans. They always wanted to hear about God! Americans are just rude people! We did have kind of a miracle this week though. We've been praying and working our hardest to find someone who is ready to be baptized and it seems like NOTHING has happened in the four weeks ive been here. But on thursday the daughter of a less active couple texted us and said " Sisters! I want to get baptized! How do I do this?". I am convinced that if we work hard enough and pray diligently the Lord litterally starts dropping people into our laps! Well anyway, her name is Katie, she's 12 years old. She's been coming to church on her own for a while and has been talking with her parents about getting baptized recently. She's really mature for a 12 year old. It takes a lot of courage to go to church on your own without any family support. So hopefully we can get that worked out for her. It's exciting!
Hmm... well theres not much else going on thats really worth writing about. I'll send some pictures we took last week!
I love you all and thank you for the support! I am so grateful to be a missionary! There really is nothing better!
Sister Walker

March 26, 2012

Hello Everyone!!

How is everyone? I've only heard from a few people in the past couple of months, I hope everyone is still alive and well!
Sister Richards and I had an ok week. Definitely had better. We're lacking people to teach right now. Well, actually there are a ton of people we could teach, but no one will meet with us. We had 7 former or potential investigators at church yesterday. Everyone will come to church, but they are all "too busy" to meet with us. It's kind of frustrating. We are just going to keep working hard and bugging these people until something happens!
Our investigator lawrence kind of flopped this week too. He's still smoking and there hasnt been any plans made for a wedding. His such a good guy, but he's not very self motivated. So we're going to give him some space and hope that he figures things out on his own terms. I think his girlfriend is also a huge issue. She's not too fond of us. We dont want to cause contention in their relationship, so thats another reason were going to give him space. The whole situation is so sad! Lawrence would be baptized tomorrow if he could be. He'll get there eventually.
So... I think ive realized part of the reason I was sent to kent island. I've already mentioned how the branch really struggles, the members arent very strong, etc. Well im also learning that many of them also suffer with depression, bi-polar disorder, etc. We had kind of a crazy experience this last week with sister madron. She was the woman who we helped with the lice problem. I'm proabably making here sound crazy, but she's really awesome. She's a great mom and everything, takes good care of her kids. Anyway. So her husband suffers from bi polar disorder and has been in a mental hospital this past week. Wednesday morning Sister Madron called us and left a message telling us that she was moving to kansas, and that if she didnt see us before she left, good luck on the rest of our missions. She sound VERY upset. We were a little confused, so we called her back and aked her what was going on. She told us again that she was leaving for kansas, and asked us if we could help her pack because she was leaving that night. Then we asked her if her husband was going with her, and she just started crying and hung up on us. We tried to call her back, no answer. We had an appointement in 15 minutes, so we decided we would stop by her house afterwards. Well, as soon as we got to out appointment, we both knew that wasnt where we suppossed to be. Luckily it was just with lawrence, so he understood that we had to cancel. So we headed over to the madrons. Knocked on the door, but there was no answer. After banging on her door for 5 minutes, we let ourselves in. There were half packed boxes and suitcases everywhere. Sister Madrons 5 year old son was playing a game on the computer, and no one else was in the house. Of course Sister Richards and I both started to panic a little. We found an empty gun case on sister madrons bed and became REALLY panicked. Sister madrons suffers from depression as well and we thought she might have done something rash. We kept asking Ezekiel ( the 5 year old) if he knew where his mom or the rest of the family was and he said he had no idea. It was probably the most frightening 10 minutes of my mission. We checked the closets, bathroom, everywhere, didnt find anyone. After a few minutes, sister madron showed up though. She never really explained where she went or what she was doing. We could tell she was extremely stressed. She continued to pack everything frantically.Thankfully Ive learned a couple of helpful things in my social work classes! We got her to calm down a little and talk to us. She told us she had reached a breaking point with her husband. They were going to send him home from the hospital that day, but he hadnt made any improvement. According to sister madron he hasnt been on the right medication for over a year. So for her well being and the kids, she felt it was best to go live with some family for a while until everyone was mentally well. At first I thought she was making a pretty harsh choice, but after talking with her for a while, I realized that she knew what she was doing. She had prayed a lot about her decision and felt that it was right. I never expected to walk into a situation like this on my mission, but im gald I did! We kind of showed up at just the right moment. I cant imagine how overwhelming it must have been to make the decision she did, pack up a house and four kids and leave in 1 day! She definitely needed our help! So we talked and packed until some members of the ward were able to come and help out later that evening. Once again, this is an experience that I just cant put into words very well. But it was a day I definitely wont forget. It meant everything for me to be there for her.
Heavenly Father is aware of his children. I keep seeing the evidence of it over and over again. He loves each one of us more than we can understand. He knows our struggles and everything we are going through, no matter how big or small it may be! And he hasnt left us to face our challenges alone. He sends others to our aid when we need them!
Well other then some stressful moments with the members, theres not much else too exciting going on.... It's been warm here all week, in the 80's. The beach is really tempting. During the day we walk down the piers and docks when we need a five minute break from knocking on doors. Island life is great! I'll eventually get some good pictures to send. I've got a few I can send today.
I love you all! Have a good week! And dont pass up an opportunity to help someone who needs it!
Sister Walker

March 19, 2012

Hello Everyone!

Well spring has exploded in kent island! EVERY tree flowers here. My allergies arent doing so well, but atleast its nice to look at!
We had specialized training tuesday and wednesday this week. 2 days of 8 hour meetings! I feel like half my time as a missionary is spent in meetings! It's kind of exhausting, but i do love it! We get some really good training from president and sister belliston and the zone leaders.
Our investigator Lawrence is doing well. We're taking him to the temple visitors center on wednesday (hopefully). He's cut back on smoking quite a bit. I can't get over how amazing he is! We stopped by his house unannounced last night and he was sitting on the couch reading the book of mormon. He kept telling us how grateful he was that he's found THE church. He's so cool! I can't wait for him to be baptized. Right now his date is set for april 8th. With the way things are going it'll be a stretch for him to make it, but it can definitely happen.
I'm really loving being in kent island. I never realized that missionary work could be totally different from one area to another. We visit less active and part member families here all day. The branch isnt strong enough yet for converts. Not that we arent trying to find people, but our job here is mainly to strengthen the branch.
I'm sending a picture of some service we did this week. One of the members had a pretty rough week. Her husband has bi-polar disorder and was hospitalized. And then her kids came home from school with lice! So... we her helped out. It wasnt as gross as it sounds!
My time is running short! Have a good week everyone!

March 12, 2012

Hello Everyone!!

Well first off, to answer everyone's question, I got transferred to Kent Island!!!! And yes, it is litterally an Island! It's in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. I am SO excited to be here! I was really hoping I would get to serve in this area at some point on my mission. I coudn't imagine a better place to be during the summer! The Island is beautiful! Everyone's backyard has a dock and a boat. It's a lot like what I had imagined maryland to be like. Beach homes and boats everywhere. My new companion's name is Sister Courtney Richards. Funny thing is sister Richards and I knew each other at BYUI. She was a cashier when I worked at the bakery. She would come over and eat our reject cookies all the time. Small world! She's great! I have a lot of respect for her already, actually. She's kind of engaged... well she's really engaged, she's getting married April 12 next year. But she chose to come on a mission anyway. She could have easily stayed home and gotten married, but she realized she could have the mission and the guy, so she's doing both.
Anyway... Kent Island is much different than Eldersburg. WAY different. Theres just a branch here, not even close to being a ward. And a struggling branch at that. A lot of the members who are now active were recently less-active. The ones who dont fall into that category are from part-member families. I felt a lot of weight on my shoulders the first few days I was here. We didnt work with less active members much at all in Eldersburg, and I had no idea how I was going to help this little branch. But I feel an overwhelming amount of love for the people here. They are amazing. Somewhere along the line these people have forgotten the why of the gospel. So i'm here to remind them and to love them back into it! I know that this area is where I need to be right now, there is no doubt in my mind. We've already had some really amazing things happen in just this past week. First, theres this girl here named Emily Gates. She's 13 years old and she's been coming to church with her next door neighbor for 5 YEARS. She hasn't been baptized. The first day I got here sister Richards told me about her,and I couldn't believe it! Emily is kind of quiet girl, but she's expressed that she wants to be baptized, wants to serve a mission and be married in the temple. Some how this girl has slipped through the cracks for the past five years. I asked sister Richards why she hasnt been baptized, and she just said " I have no idea." So yesterday at church, I asked Emily if she wanted to start taking the lessons from us so she could decide if she wants to be baptized. And of course she said yes. In 5 years the missionaries havent had the stroke of brilliance to just ask her if she wanted to take the lessons. Of course we are getting permission from her parents, but i'm pretty certain they will let her meet with us. They've let her go to church for 5 years on her own, I dont see why they would have any objections. The whole situation was kind of odd to me, but it's been a testimony to me that the Lord has his timing for everything. Hopefully everything will go over well with her parents and I will be able to see emily get baptized after she's waited for 5 years. I feel really priviledged to be here right now and hopefully have the opportunity to teach her. I feel like the Lord has put me here for her. For some reason, He has saved her for me to teach.
There are some other really great people they've been working with here as well. Theres this amazing guy named lawrence who really wants to be baptized. He has such a strong testimony of the restored gospel. We've met with him twice this week and each time he expresses how much he loves the book of mormon he know's its true because he feels the spirit when he reads it. The only issue is he needs to quit smoking and he needs to get married. And he wants to do both of those things, baptism set aside. He's having a really hard time quitting smoking, and he's not much of a planner so the wedding has kind of been on the backburner. We had the coolest lesson with him last night though. We dropped by his house because he didnt go to church and wasnt answering his phone. As soon as we showed up at the door, he said " I knew you'd stop by" . He was having a really really rough day. He was a mess. He was upset that he didnt make it to church, he had been on a smoking that day, an he had just gotten a phone call from his brother who was asking him to send him money because he hadnt eaten in three days. Oh and lawrence hasnt had money this week either because his SSI check hasnt come in this month yet. ( I often walk into situations like these and wonder "how am I loving this right now...?") We talked with him for a long time and tried to calm him down. It was definitely a time when I realized there wasnt much I could do for this guy but just love him. We got some plans set in motion for him to get married and baptized next month. We're calling him 3 times a day to see how he's doing with smoking. And we left him with a burger king gift card for his brother. It's hard to put into words everything that happened last night. You can't put experiences like these into words, actually. But it was definitely one of the most meaningful hours of my mission so far. God loves his children so much. He is aware of each of us. He knew that lawrence needed someone to talk to and that his brother needed something to eat. Somehow we showed up at just the right moment. I feel so priviledged to be here doing the Lord's work.
Well there were lots of other amazing experiences I had this week, so many more great things I could say about the island, but unfortunately I don't have time. But I' am doing well, I love it here, and I couldn't be any happier than to be a servant of our savior jesus christ in the Maryland Baltimore Mission!!!
I love you all! Have a good week!
Sister Walker

Marcvh 5, 2012

Hello Everyone!!

Taofeek was baptized on Saturday, confirmed on sunday! It was a good week! he still hasn't told his mom.... Brother Okereke, he baptized Taofeek, is going to Nigeria in a couple of weeks and will be going to the same ward as Taofeek's mom. So he will be telling her in person that he baptized her son. Pretty cool! Taofeek is happy, i'm happy for him. He's had a bit of a rough past and really needed the atonement in his life. He couldn't stop saying how clean he felt! I just can't get over how everything worked out with Taofeek. There are no coincidences, thats for sure.
We've found a few families this week, which was really exciting. I havent taught a single family so far. Unfortunately, I wont get to teach any of them. Transfer calls came today and I'll be leaving Eldersburg wednesday morning. I'm kind of bummed to be leaving. I love it here, I love the ward, I love the people. But i'm sure I will love my new area just as much! I just cant believe I'm already going into my second area. Sisters usually only have about 3 areas their whole mission, 4 tops. Time is flying. This past transfer has been a total blurr to me, I have no idea where it went!
What else...hmm. Well a member from the ward told us to go visit her neighbor. She's 90 some years old. She's not too interested in changing religions, although she is very curious in the things we believe and she has a lot of respect for the church because she has met a lot of very kind lds people over the years. But she has the most amazing house! It's about 250 years old and a maryland historical landmark. I wish I had taken pictures. It's huge! 7 staircases, 4 floors. A lot of the original woodwork is still there. Probably one of the coolest things ive seen in MD so far.
Everything else is going very well I suppose. I really do love being a missionary. It's scary to think what life would be like if I had passed up this opportunity. It truly is the best decision i've ever made!
I'm sending some pictures today....
1. Taofeek's baptism! Taofeek is the taller one, bro okereke is standing next to me.
2. Hike with elders fife and good last week.
3. Sister's specialized training. This is sister Lieber's lineage... sister richardson and sister montes were all trained by her too.
4. Bowling with the zone!
5. This is Ron we visit him every sunday in a nursing home along with a lady named marcia who is a member. He's been in a wheelchair since he was 21 and has the best stories!
6. Broom Hockey! We just played this morning. This was by far the FUNNIEST zone activity i've ever had. It's brutal. I think just about everyone left with a few battle wounds and a broken broom.
Love you all!
have a good week!
Sister Walker