Monday, August 26, 2013

Time for GROWTH!

Hi Mama and Daddy!

Hermana Foster is showering so I'm writing down everything I want to say, so when I go to the library (now) I can just type it in an email.

Life is good. I've just seen miracle after miracle. The Lord loves me a ton. I feel so good when I see the Lord using me to touch other people's lives. It's so humbling.  But yet, so refreshing at the same time because you can just walk away and take a deep breath and smile to yourself because you know you've done something good.

Being a Sister Training Leader is HARD. I am growing and learning so much. Like, EVERY day. When we go on exchanges, and meet with the other Missionaries under our stewardship we ask what we can do better, how we could help more, or serve them better. Sometimes it is hard to hear the critiques when you are trying so hard. It feels like getting beat up sometimes. But I basically write it down and pour my love out to them as I promise to do better in the future. I know Heavenly Father is aware of how hard my companion and I are working, and how much we LOVE these Sisters and want to be the best Leaders we can be. The blessings are flowing like you cannot believe. Here are a few that I am SOOOO thankful for.

1.     Unlimited Miles- We never have to worry about using too many miles in our car because hellooooo, we have a huge stewardship, so we have to put huge miles on the car. Big blessing. Big.

2.     Companionship study with the Assistants.- That is pretty self-explanatory. Who else in the entire mission gets to do Companionship study with the Assistants? Elder Alldredge and Elder Hudson are some of the greatest men I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know and serving with. Elder Hudson was my Zone Leader in Palmdale with Elder Rockhill. Elder Rockhill was/is amazing too. He was called as an Assistant right before he went home, so when Elder Rockhill finished his mission and went home, Elder Hudson (my other former Zone Leader/served in my former ward) was called as the new Assistant. Elder Alldredge has been one of the Assistants to the President my entire mission and he got sent to the Bakersfield Mission to help President Wilson. I will be GREATLY surprised if Elder Alldredge doesn't become a General Authority some day. The man is basically a Mission President as it is. AND… I get to work with them :) What?!?!

3.     MLC- Mission Leadership Council. I get to go to the middle of the Mission every month, and meet with both sets of Assistants (because there is one set for the West side and one for the East), President Wilson, Sister Wilson, and the Zone Leaders in our Mission! We learn and teach each other, and then go teach the people in our stewardships. MLC is the greatest blessing EVER! You are surrounded by some of the best Missionaries in the Mission. It's an honor to be able to go, really.

4.     Awesome communication with the Zone leaders- the Zone Leaders become your best friends, like your go-to people. They take care and watch out for us, and we take care of them. It's a nice place to be, really.

5.     We are constantly learning and growing and relying on the Lord. I'm learning now more than ever to stop caring so much about what everybody else thinks and just put my focus on pleasing God and my Mission President, and taking care of my Companion. Because really, Heavenly Father trusts me, President Wilson trusts me, and so do the Assistants to Pres. Wilson, and the Zone Leaders, the other Sister Training Leaders love and trust me too, so I must be doing SOMETHING right. So I can't beat myself up about the people who don't agree with me, too much. But I do pray about their suggestions and want to always be open to improve, and grow.

So, there’s that. Now for some miracle stories. I gotta go soon. But:

We didn't have dinner scheduled with a member this week so us Sisters decided to go eat somewhere together! We were thinking of going to Panda Express but Hermana Foster doesn't really like it, or wasn't really in the mood. Anyway, I suggested we go to Wendy's! So that's where we all agreed to go, and off we went!

We got there and ordered and I just got a sandwich and the other Hermanas got something small because we had a later lunch and didn't want to stuff ourselves. So we ate and I was thinking "Hmmm...I want some French fries!..." (this part is only funny to the people who know that I love French fries) but then I thought "No... you don't NEED French fries, you already spent enough money and the whole point was to eat something light!" and then something just popped in my head that just said "JUST GO GET THE DANG FRIES!" so I jumped up and off I went...

I was standing in line when this man comes in and shows some other people on the other side of the restaurant a piece of folded up paper. And then he walks over to another table to show them the piece of paper, and then another. I thought he was trying to find the owner of the paper, like maybe somebody dropped it and it was important, so I didn't really think much about it. It was then my turn to go up and order, and the man comes up to me and doesn't say anything, but holds out the folded paper and it said:

"I am deaf. Do you have $2.00 to buy me some food?"

And then it hit me. He wasn't trying to find the owner of the paper, the man was hungry and needed some food!

So, I smiled and nodded "Yes!" and then pointed at the menu and told the cashier "And get him whatever he wants also!" Then I thought to myself, "No, dumby! Help him pick!" So I handed him a receipt and a pen and he wrote "fish sandwish" on it. But Wendy's doesn't have fish sandwiches and so he got closer to the menu and wrote "spicy chicken" and so I told the cashier guy "Spicy chicken sandwich please!" and then the man motioned to me and made a drinking motion and I thought, "Oh! He needs a drink!" so I wrote on the receipt, "What kind?" and for the first time he tried to speak and said "CO!" So, I knew he meant Coke! So I got his drink and sandwich and brought it to him (because after we ordered he sat down)  Then I motioned to the straws so he knew I was going to get him one. I went and got him a straw for his drink and some napkins and he smiled really big at me and said, ‘thank you’ in sign language. I smiled and went back to eat my fries. I ate like TWO before the Spirit reminded me that I always have that note-pad in my purse for a reason! So, I took it out and wrote "I am Sister Dodge. I am a Missionary from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" and then I nudged my Companion and asked, "Hey- do you have anything in English?" and she said,  “I think I do in the car!" So she and Hermana Wagner ran out to the car and brought back a General Conference Ensign in English! I then added to the note, "This magazine is a magazine put out by our church. This is a Special Edition that has messages from our church leaders. There are Missionaries just like us who share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people all around the world and there are some here in Lancaster that know sign language. They would love to stop by and share more with you!" So I got the Ensign, grabbed my pen and paper and my French fries and sat down by him. I gave him my French fries and started "talking" to him. His name is Larry. As he read my note he smiled really big and nodded  and wrote that he would like that but he was moving to the Morena or Movela Bay area to live with some family. He had been living here in Lancaster with his daughter and grandkids. Anyway, he taught me the signs for "God bless" and Bible, and Jesus Christ, and thank you, and you're welcome. It was amazing. We gave him our phone number just in case he needed anything he could call or text us, and we gave him the phone number to the Assistants to the President and said wherever you go, call this number or text it, and they will help you!

Best part- we talked to him about how he is a Son of God, and about how he has a loving Heavenly Father who knows him and knows everything that he's going through right now in his life. Larry got a little emotional and talked about how sometimes he tries to pray and everyone prays differently and I told him (well, wrote him) that Heavenly Father really is listening when he prays. He's there. And then we taught him how to pray. In the middle of a Wendy's. It was beautiful. We taught him to start with Dear Heavenly Father and then express whatever is in his heart, ask for what he needs, express gratitude for his blessings, whatever he wants and end in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. He said thank you about 100 times. It was one of my favorite lessons I've ever taught on my Mission, and we didn't even say any words. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, Mom. It truly changed my life.

I have to go now. Know that I love you! I'm trying to do my best. I love your guts. I love you a whole bunch!  Tell everyone I said, hi and to write me an email!

-Hermana Dodge

Trevor Bird and I say goodbye. He leaves in just a couple of
weeks for his Mission. He enters the MTC in Mexico City.
His family is great to all of the Missionaries.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mexico, Near Cancun

Hi Mama & Daddy,
This week I didn’t get to finish telling you what I wanted on our P-day email. There are so many miracles that happen when you not only ‘listen’ to the Spirit but ‘heed’ the Spirit. I think we need to change our verbiage and just say ‘heed’. Because, to ‘heed’ actually means; to give careful attention to.
Example: Yesterday we went out tracting/visiting members who have not come to church in a while. We go to this one Sister’s house (she wasn’t home) and left her a note that basically said, ‘Hi, we’re the new Missionaras in your area & we’re trying to visit all the members. So give us a call, we’d love to see you.’ Then we decided we weren’t going to leave that area until we understood why we were led there, aka, until we found who-ever it was who needed us. So we walked around the block a bit and Hermana Foster asked, “Why aren’t we knocking on this door?” –or- “Why are we skipping this one?”, etc. I simply told her that it was because they weren’t ready yet. She would knock, and no-one would answer. Here is the thing about planning and knocking; if you plan by the Spirit, the Lord will guide you to the streets you need to go to. Then, if you tract or contact by the Spirit, the Lord will lead you to the people who need you, whether it’s a ‘golden contact’ family, or someone who just really needed to hear our message & a seed will be planted for the future.
Anyway, Hermana Foster kept saying, “I feel like we’re supposed to be in this area, but I don’t know why.” So I said, “Well, let’s go find out why.” So we were kind of walking back towards the direction of our car and this house just ‘sticks out’ to the both of us. So we knock and then we hear someone inside say, “There is two white girls at your door!” (in Spanish) and then a lady walks up and says, “Hi Sisters!” then the gated door opens and this middle aged woman opens the door and asks us to come in. Her name is Sis. P and she used to go to a ward in Palmdale. She is a convert of about 10 years, but hasn’t gone to church in a really long time because her friends moved away and she moved out here to Lancaster where we were. It was a miracle! We enjoyed getting to know her. We shared (Alma 7:11-13) and talked to her about how Jesus Christ suffered everything. He didn’t just suffer for our sins and transgressions, but also for our HEARTS! She started tearing up and told us how much she needed to hear that and how thankful she was that we stopped by. She said she saw us walking around a bit, but wasn’t sure if we were Missionaries or not. So she was so glad we stopped by her place. We prayed with her and we are going back this Thursday to see her again.

We also have a few sketchy places in our area. REALLY sketchy. Let’s just say…we are watched over and protected…a LOT. Not to scare you or anything, but just to let you know that if the Spirit tells us to be somewhere…we WILL go. After one such very interesting knock….my Companion and I looked at each other and still felt like we should be there. So we kept knocking until we met Anna M. We talked to her about prayer and I looked at her and said, “Anna M, your Heavenly Father knows you and loves you. He hears your prayers.” She just burst out BAWLING and hug-attacked me and said she had been praying for some help and then here we came! It was so cool.
Anyway- you can see that knocking on every single door is so ineffective!! Listening to the Lord directing you through the Spirit is much more effective.

I went on my first Exchange as a STL (Sister Training Leader) I was so nervous, and yet I was calm, and confident at the same time. I was with this new Missionary who didn’t know her way around her area…at…all. And she wasn’t the best at looking at a map. Luckily, she had me as a co-pilot. J It went well! She was kind of stressed to kind of ‘be-in-charge’ of her area for 24 hours, but you could totally tell they were obedient Missionaries. They take great care of their area book, and they are planning how they should be. So, I consider that a success! Anyway- we had a really cool experience together. Her and her companion had planned to go see a potential investigator at 1pm. So, we went there and the lady wasn’t home. So the new Missionary I was exchanging with just walks back to the car. I asked her, “Do you feel like we have fulfilled our purpose in this area?” She stopped and thought about it and just kind of shrugged and said, “I mean, I guess so. I don’t feel a big pull to stay here. What about you?” I looked around and I felt like we should walk around the corner (to an area I felt was out of our sight) down the street. So I said to her, “Hey, let’s go down that street a little ways.”
So, we knock on a few doors. One guy said he was Catholic, the next door doesn’t answer, the next guy jokes and said his wife wouldn’t ‘appreciate’ him listening to us. So as we walked away, I was thinking and praying, ‘Come on, come on, come on…where are they?’

Then, next house we walked up to …there was an older Hispanic woman who had her door open, but not her screen door. She was smiling a big grin at us and began to fiddle with the knob on the screen door. We got right up to the door and we introduce ourselves and tell her that we are Missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we are in the area sharing a special message about Jesus Christ. I asked her if she believes in Jesus Christ, and she said, yes of course she does, she comes from a Catholic background. I asked her how her testimony of the Savior has blessed her life. And without hesitation she said that He has blessed her with a good family.

So, as it turns out she was there visiting from Mexico. She actually lives near Cancun. Anyway, she was visiting and her son had left for work and he locked the doors and told her NOT to let anyone in. We laughed as she was trying so HARD to open that screen door to let us in. She began to feel bad that she couldn’t open the door. She said she was so sorry. We told her it was okay and that we could teach her through the screen door. And we just started teaching her. When we left we got her information in Mexico so that the Missionaries there could go visit her. That made her so HAPPY. We also gave her a card which had a picture of Christ leaving the tomb, and on the back of it was a number to call to get a free DVD about finding faith in Christ. We told her she could call that number and Missionaries would visit her, but that I would also forward her information down there as well. We also wrote the Hermanas number on it as well and told her if she needed anything this next week, before she goes back to Mexico, that she could call on the Hermanas to help her. She never did get the screen door open so we just had to slip it underneath the door! (Where there is a will, there is a way!) She was so happy, Mom! We prayed with her before we left and she was crying! We all totally felt the Spirit. As we left she said thank you, God bless you, etc. She then put her hands up on the screen door and we put our hands on the screen door where hers was. It was a super tender moment. She kept saying, “Thank you.” over and over as we left and walked away. I was thinking as we walked away how much I loved that experience, and I was thankful that the Lord’s work WILL go forward…even through screen doors. I also began wishing I could have told her everything about the Restoration of the Lord’s gospel. Oh well, I must be thankful for what we were given and thankful for the Missionaries in Mexico, near Cancun. I looked at my new Missionary and she was smiling from ear to ear. I said, “Okay, NOW we can leave the area. Our job here has been fulfilled.” I was actually freaking out inside because of how cool that whole experience was. I couldn’t have planned for a better experience to have with this young new Hermana. WE MUST trust the Lord, and He must be able to trust us. I’m so thankful.

I love y’all dearly. I’m having the time of my life!
Hermana Dodge-

Monday, August 12, 2013

STL's in Lancaster, CA


I'm loving life. There is a lot of new things going on, a lot of changes, a lot of patience, a lot of everything, which is great! I'm just learning and growing a ton! I love you bunches! I pray for you every day, mommy!  
I love you mommy. I'm a Sister Training Leader! One of my mission dreams came true: I opened up an area in Lancaster to not only Sisters, but HERMANAS. They're taking Hermanas farther into the desert, little by little. And I'm loving it.

 This week was one of the hardest weeks of my life. Oh my goodness Satan really put the pressure on me. Sister Training Leaders have a TON of responsibility, like, so much. We're basically zone leaders. We had MLC (missionary leadership council, used to be known as Zone Leader Council, until Sister Training Leaders got created) and I felt great! I felt like that's where I should be. But, then Satan tried to tear me down afterwards. I felt so inadequate. I felt like none of my questions or comments were worth-while, I felt like I shouldn't have talked so much (btw this is going to sound crazy, but I've calmed down on my mission. Like, I don't talk as much. I still do, don't worry, I’m not losing my personality! But, I'm refining it) and so Satan just kept telling me I'm too loud, I'm not good enough, I don't have the experience that I need to be a Sister Training Leader… blah blah blah, just a bunch of nonsense. So that night I just got home and was done with the day and just told Heavenly Father I don't know why You called me to do this. I don't get it. I don't know what You want me to take from this. But I'm only going be able to handle all of this with Your help. I'll go and do whatever in the world You want me to, I just need Your help as I go. So, that's exactly what happened! It's been beautiful. My companion is from the other side of the mission (aka the Ventura side) and she's been out 13 months. She reminds me a TON of Aunt Shanny. Just her facial expressions and the way she talks, and also the way she gets annoyed TOTALLY IS SHANNY. Hahaha. So you KNOW I love her. She's was one of the STL's  during the previous transfer. We were an answer to each other's prayers. That being said, we're different. and so we're still working out a few kinks.

 This is what I sent to President Wilson this week:

Hi President!

Talk about the craziest week of my mission! This has been a week full of very rapid growth, and change, and stuff I'm not used to. And let me just say, I love it! This week has been HARD, President. So hard. But beautiful in it's own way. Hermana Foster is amazing. I love her so much already. We've grown a lot together this week. But we're glad we have each other. We were both an answer to each other's prayers, so THANK YOU for listening to the Spirit and sending her to me. That being said, we're different. So we're still trying to work out the kinks. It's a cool process. I'm really trying to step up to the "Sister Training Leader" plate. To be honest, after MLC, I felt a little inadequate. And by a "little" I mean "a lot". I have a bright personality. I like to laugh and smile and talk to people and make people feel good. The Spirit likes happy people! And so sometimes Satan tells me that I need to be quieter, that I need to be more reserved, that my comments aren't worth anything, which is not true at all! I got a blessing last night from Elder Wendt and Elder Moser in which Heavenly Father told me that my personality and brightness is a spiritual gift and to never let that light dim. And that I was called to be Sister Training Leader because the Lord has big expectations for me and that I'm going to need to use this happiness that I have to help all the Hermanas under my stewardship. President, I NEEDED TO HEAR THAT. I am so grateful for worthy priesthood holders that are willing to help me out when I need it. So, don't worry, I'm doing great! I had a really good personal study and companionship study. The Spirit makes everything better.

I'm loving life out here in Lancaster! I've always wanted to open a Hermana area out here! It's been fun. I love being a missionary, President! This is the best thing in the whole world! I love being able to bring the Gospel to other people! I'm happy as can be, and we're working hard! Love ya!

-Hermana Dodge

So there’s that. I honestly can't remember a lot about this week. The Spirit just takes over and you do what you gotta do. I'll try and write you a letter this week. Ryan sent me a birthday package full of awesomeness. He's such a stud.

I’m excited to get that Down East stuff you got me! i hope you didn't go too crazy. We start doing exchanges next week so there will be lots of traveling. I'm now driving a 2013 red Toyota Corolla. She's a beaut!  The Elders who had her before us are in our Zone and are super upset that we got her and they got their car taken away. It's SO funny. They call her "The Mistress" or "The Red Mistress" but only "when she gets angry." We parked under a tree and she got some bird poopie on her during church and so when the Elders got out of the English ward they came and left a pass-along card on our window that said "Poop?! SHE DESERVES BETTER THAN THIS!" OH, and when the elders gave us the keys, they kissed her hood goodbye. I about died laughing. They are so fun. Missionaries are happy, fun, people with everyone.

Ok Momma, here is my NEW address:

2040 W J-13
Lancaster, CA, 93536

I gotta run. I love you! Send me a card, or something with more info! Write me a letter or something!
I really love you! I'll send pictures next week.

Hermana Dodge

Monday, August 5, 2013

Sister Training Leader- ME!

Wow,  so many CRAZY updates! THIS TRANSFER IS NUTS.


In a reply to last week's email to me, President Wilson said this,

"Sister Dodge you are an awesome missionary who really gets it.”

How nice is that?! He always replies to my emails and he doesn’t respond to everyone's emails every week but he always responds to mine! I think President Wilson likes me. When he called me (to call me to be a Sister Training Leader) we were about to say goodbye and I said, "Well, President, I'm excited! Is there anything else I can do for you?" and he said, "No, Sister Dodge. You just made my whole day!! I'll see you at transfer meeting!"

So,  I think he likes me. Lol. I sure hope so. I think he's a BOSS. I'm emailing him real fast and then I'll send you a juicy one, k?
Hermana Canto took us out to eat after our wonderful temple trip in Los Angeles and she took us through BEVERLY HILLS and we drove down/past Rodeo Drive and guess what? 

Hermana Ostler & Me.

I SAW THE LADY FROM BEVERLY HILLS HOUSEWIVES. NOT KIDDING. The blonde one. super skinny. She's crazy. It was awesome. I about died. I totally had my nose pressed up against the window. Hahaha

This is my email to President  Wilson today"

Hi President!

I feel like the last couple days have just been a blur, so I can just imagine what you're feeling right now! First off, I just want to thank you for this opportunity to serve as a Sister Training Leader. I'm excited to SERVE and LEARN. The past few days have been a blur, like I said, but really great.

For example, Saturday morning we were coming back from doing some service and we were walking from our car into our apartment and we passed a man taking a couch down the stairs! So, we offered to help him. The man's name is Joel and his wife is Cecilia and they have two daughters. They are just a wonderful family! So, it turns out they were moving out, and they just started. In fact, the couch we helped him move was the very first thing he was moving into his U-Haul! This whole thing is interesting because Joel and Cecilia moved in just 2 months ago and were staying in an apartment until they bought a house in Lancaster. When they moved IN we (Hermana Tavoian, Sister Peatross and Cottrell and I) helped them move ALL of their things IN, and now we (me, Hermana Ostler, Sisters Peatross and Filimoehala) were helping them move OUT! When they had moved in Joel told us about how he had hired people to help him move before but on one occasion the workers stole things from them and broke things, and on the other occasion the man they hired wasn't very nice and took lots of breaks and asked for food and did a horrible job. So, when he moved in he decided to just do it himself. Well, then the missionaries (us) walked by and offered to help. and we didn't just help with one or two things, we unloaded the entire truck! So when we helped them move out, we didn't just help him with the couch, we helped him move ALL of his things into the U-haul. It was a beautiful experience. At one point, he was helping Hermana Ostler carry a book case and he said "I think I need to change religions!" and she said something along the lines of "Yeah, me too!" and I was carrying something with Cecilia and she said "I was going to do all of this yesterday with my husband, but I got called into work, so we had to do it today!" and I said "Cecilia, I think God keeps putting us into your path for a reason! All of our experiences together have happened for a reason!" and she smiled widely and agreed. So, after we were done, they basically FORCED us to let them buy us a pizza and so we all ate on the floor of their empty home and we prayed before we ate, and then Joel started asking questions about our faith. We had the opportunity to share the first half of the Restoration with them and answer a lot of their questions. Then, I got their phone number and address and told them I was going to send it to the missionaries where they live in Lancaster so that they can help them unpack in their new house and that they could share more with them about our beliefs if they would like and they said yes! So, I sent all the info, and the Lancaster Spanish Elders were waiting with some of the members of their future ward to help them move into their new apartment. 

President. HOW COOL IS THAT?!?! Huge miracle. HUGE. I just thought you'd like to read that. The Lord is so great. Being a missionary is the greatest thing in the whole world. Sometimes I just take a step back and marvel at how much he leads and guides us and that his hand is in EVERYTHING!! Palmdale is great. I set up Hermana Ostler so her and her new missionary will hit the ground running. We did our weekly planning VERY specifically and in-depth. It was one of our best weekly planning sessions together! She's wonderful. She's going to do a great job. I'm excited for the things the Lord is going to start sending our way. I will be eternally grateful that I got to be a part of the Hastening of His work. Love y'all! See you in the morning!

What do you think about my new hair cut?

Okay. So, transfer CALLS came, and then transfer MEETING where we find out where we're going and stuff like that is TOMORROW. President already told me where I'm going. I'm going to be a Sister Training Leader over the Antelope Valley and I'll be serving in the Lancaster 2nd Spanish Ward. Today we have crazy amounts of stuff to do. We have to drive to Lancaster to pick up my bike because I had to get new pedals on it and get a tune up before I get transferred again. We have to get a car wash, wash clothes, pack, etc. Anyway,  this week was wonderful. I didn't write in my journal at all,  but I'll have a two hour drive to Bakersfield to catch up on that. 

First miracle is what I already wrote you about helping Cecilia and Joel move out of their house. 

Our trip to the temple was so great. We went with some Spanish members so I got to experience it all in Spanish and I sat there marveling at the miracles in my life. Sitting there with such gratitude in my heart, that I am here at this time serving the Lord on a full-time mission is the BEST thing I could be doing. I love the mission. I am so thankful to be here. It was awesome.

Hermana Ostler and I at The LA Temple Visitors Center

After we went to the temple, Hermana Canto took us out to eat after so we got to see the REAL Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica. It is GORGEOUS. We passed Rodeo drive and I about fell out of the car. Needless to say, my face was plastered onto the window. It was gorgeous. The weather was fantastic. 

Did I mention that I chopped off my hair so that's fun! I like it and it's MUCH cooler.

Oh, just send me those shirts from Down East and I'll be good. Remember that money you gave me for shopping for my birthday? Yeah. I never actually went shopping, because we never had the time. But I would like to go to old navy and buy a button down blouse or two today before our transfer meeting tomorrow where I get officially called. I don't know though. Money drives me nuts. I hate it. I feel like I'm spending too much so I don't want to get anything. One thing Kristi WAS right about- you wear your clothes OUT. The clothes you leave with are NOT the clothes you come home with... fa sho. I wore out a few shirts and a couple skirts so the closets starting to dwindle a bit.. lol. But I'm good! I just think I should buy a nice button down blouse or something like that for the meeting tomorrow. I keep washing my Toms and they wash like a charm but are getting a bit worn out. LOL.

Okay anyway, sorry for the randomness. 
That is Kenneth Moroni Garcia. Except in Spanish it's pronounced 'More-oh-knee', which I think is so cool. He's such a good little kid. He LOVED me. He loved coming in the door when we would be over eating dinner and yelling "MISIONERAS!!!!!!!!!" I learned  how to yell at my kids in spanish from his angel of a mother. :)

President said that I'm going to be paired with one of the Sister Training Leaders from the Ventura Mission, so she's had a little experience already and she's super excited to serve with me and she's a "very dedicated missionary" according to President so, yeah. should be good!

I've learned a lot about just teaching people when you find them. Not asking "do you have time for us to share a message with you?" and dumb stuff like that. I just start talking to these people. Anything and everything they say will highlight a part of the gospel that we can share. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for EVERYONE. Everyone is different, everyone comes from different walks of life and everyone has different challenges. But there is one answer for everyone, and that is Jesus Christ and His Atonement. It's so beautiful. I love it. I love being a missionary. Being a missionary is the greatest thing in the whole world. Everything in my entire life has led me here. It's so fantastic.
OH! And...

This is what a Sister Training Leader does, according to the press-release:

“Each mission in the Church will organize a mission leadership council that will include both elder (male) and sister (female) as missionary leaders. The new mission leadership council will consist of the mission president and his wife, assistants to the president, zone leaders and sister training leaders — a newly created role.

"We are very excited about the new mission leadership council and this role for sister missionaries,” said Elder David F. Evans, executive director of the Missionary Department. “It will be a blessing to both missions and missionaries throughout the world, and better employ the remarkable faith, talents and abilities of all missionaries."

The role of sister training leader has been created as more female missionaries serve in missions around the world. Sister training leaders will be responsible for the training and welfare of female missionaries assigned to them and will be members of and participate in, the new mission leadership council. Assistants to the president and zone leaders will also participate in the council, and those roles will remain unchanged. Missions will continue to be organized by zones and districts, with district leaders being responsible for baptismal interviews, but the mission leadership council will replace the zone leader council.

Sister training leaders will continue to proselytise and will also spend time each week training and evaluating the needs of female missionaries. They will report directly to the mission president on the needs of sister missionaries. Additionally, the wives of mission presidents are now being asked to play an enhanced role in training and caring for sister missionaries, subject to their individual and family circumstances.”

 "So, I'll be doing that. And, just so everyone knows, I called the creating of Sister Training Leaders IN THE MTC BEFORE ANY OF THIS HAPPENED. I thought in the MTC: Man, they're going to HAVE to come out with Sister Leadership positions to help all the new sisters. And BOOM… they did. Isn’t it wonderful how the Spirit works and testifies to our hearts?
Seriously, right as you get comfortable with something, Heavenly Father throws you a curveball. And I LOVE IT.

Well, That is all I have time for this week. I love you. I am doing GREAT! I am excited about my new area, companion, and calling. I am growing and learning every day.

I love Y'all!

Hermana Dodge
Some of my favorite Elders

Me with Pres. and Sister Hall and their family.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Are you ready for some more miracles?


Hermana Dodge and Hermana Ostler

So last Sunday we decided to go over to Mari's house. Mari is a lady that the Elders contacted and referred to us because she lives in our area. she wants to find something that will help her and her family, especially her sons. so we've tried contacting her but she works all day and her husband just lost his job so it has been a little difficult. Last Sunday when we went over she answered the door and immediately invited us in. It was so cool! I had to ask her twice if we could come in just because I was like, "Oh, wow, we're really going into her house!", so we sit down and start sharing the gospel with her. I offered to say the opening prayer if she would like to say a prayer before we leave and she just beamed and said, "Yes! Can you teach me how to pray? I just don't really know how!" And I said, "Yes of course!" We went through the steps and I prayed to give an example and she just loved it. We shared the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with her and she soaked it up. Angels have really been preparing her to listen to us. Right before we shared Joseph Smith's experiences with her, she stopped and said, "Hold on! Let me shut off the music!" (there was soft music on in the background that we didn't even really notice) and so she went and shut it off and then said that she really wanted to pay attention because she could tell this was very special. So, Hermana Ostler shared the First Vision and the Spirit was there with us. It was amazing. We introduced her to the Book of Mormon and explained what it was and before we could even commit her to read a specific part she held the book up to her chest and said, "Thank you very much! I work every day but I will read this book every single day at work when I have time or before I go to bed!" and we just looked at each other like... "Did you hear that?!" and so we marked Chapter 10 of Moroni to read in the Book of Mormon and she said she would definitely read it before the next time we came. We asked her to give the closing prayer and she knelt down and scooted closer to us and said "I want to pray by you!" and she offered one of the most sincere prayers to our Heavenly Father I have ever heard. She forgot how to end and so she looked at me and I opened my eyes and whispered, "En el nombre de Jesucristo, amen." to her and then she said it. She opened her eyes and said I feel this cool feeling on my body, kind of like cool water inside of me. I've never felt this way before, and I looked her in the eyes and told her that was the Holy Ghost testifying to her that what we've shared is true, and that she can feel good feelings like that every single time she reads and prays. Her eyes started to fill with tears and she clasped her hands together and closed her yes and said "Gracias, Padre. Gracias". It was one of the most amazing things in the whole world. We didn't even have to ask her to kneel and pray, she just did it. She beat us to making commitments! Of course, we still made them, but SHE is the one who brought them up! The Lord is preparing people to hear this message of the Restoration. People are looking for the truth to fill the part of their hearts and souls that cannot be filled by anything else.
This dog just kept wanting to shake my hand. So funny!

Then, yesterday we were visiting some potential investigators and referrals. There is a specific apartment complex that we have a lot of contacts in. So, we were there and we were about to walk out and there was this younger (20s or 30s) Mexican guy working on his car. The Spirit said "GO TALK TO HIM. NOW."  So I said "Well, alright!" and walked over. Hermana Ostler just turned around and I was already half way across the parking lot, and she just hurried after me! (She's getting used to me doing stuff like that.) Anyway, I walked over and introduced us and asked his name and he said, "Angel!" (pronounced ahn-hell) and my jaw dropped. We had been trying to meet Angel for a few weeks now! He was a referral from some other missionaries and every time we went over he wasn't home, was working, or something. We had only talked to his wife! And so we set up a time to meet with his wife and kids on Tuesday (tomorrow) and then we would try and meet Angel later. So, there we were, talking to Angel in the flesh! I looked at him and my jaw dropped and I said, "WE'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR YOU! NO WAY!" I explained that I saw him and felt really impressed to come talk to him right now and that was why! We talked to him about his belief in Christ and He told us about how in a lot of churches they preach about Paul and John, and other apostles and a lot of churches doctrines contradict each other and that he just really likes learning about Jesus Christ because he is "the way and the truth!" It was amazing. We talked about how the Savior is the head of our church and how everything we do as missionaries revolves around sharing his gospel-the original gospel that he set up when he was on the Earth and he really liked that! Anyway, we told him we were going to stop by on Tuesday and visit his wife and then set up to teach his whole family and He loved that. We talked about how the Gospel of Jesus Christ blesses FAMILIES. It brings us all closer together. It was wonderful. I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost and how he leads us to the people who need this message. I'm grateful for the guidance He gives us. All we have to do is ask for it and listen to it. I love his work. I love being a missionary!
You cannot believe how many people have dogs here.
Everyone has at least one dog, many have many dogs,
and they LOVE to take pictures holding their dogs. LOL

The weather is crazy, it's over 110 out here about half the time. We only see under 100 in the mornings and evenings. Hermana Ostler is great! She's doing good. She's learning a lot. Being a trainer is so hard but really awesome all at the same time. My mind never stops. I'm always thinking and praying as we walk down the street. We're getting 20 new sisters in the mission this next transfer, and because of the split, there are only about 20 sisters here in the mission! And, they want to keep all the Sister Training Leaders together in companionships to make it easier, so some Hermana's will have to train 2 new sisters at once. And,  the Assistants asked Hermana Ostler if she was ready to train at the Zone meeting a few weeks ago and she just looked at them with a deer in the head-lights type of look and said, "I'll do what God wants me to do!" So, she might be training too! I've been really focusing on her getting ready. I might have 2 new missionaries next transfer! Crazy!

Studying, and planning. I LOVE being a Missionary!

We're going to get pedicures with the English Sisters after our zone activity today. OH MY GOSH. Aunt Lynn sent me a beautiful birthday card with a $100 bill taped inside! Can you believe that!?!?! I was SHOCKED. I am so grateful. Don't worry, I will be sending her a very nice hand written thank you note. I am so grateful. It's crazy. She is such an angel! I don't think I'll have time to go get something today, but next week I might go buy a new pair of shoes with it. All of my Toms are just worn out! I washed them this morning so hopefully they will look nicer. I don't need anything  (for my Birthday) I'm doing great! I'm a missionary! Missionaries don't need stuff! All we need is people to teach, the Spirit, and a copy of the Book of Mormon! :)
I'm absolutely loving life right now. God is so good to me. YOU are so good to me, mom and dad! I love you both so incredibly much.
Hermana Dodge

This is Estrella (Star in English) she wanted to wear
my name tag so bad...and who can refuse this face?

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Mission Training Fireside yesterday was awesome!

So, first things first:

My new missionary is absolutely amazing and I love her to death. She is one of the funniest people I've ever met in my life, besides me and Erika, of course. Her name is Hermana Ostler and she's from Billings, Montana and she went to BYU-I for a semester before her mission. She is so cool. We are being exactly obedient and I love it. We're actually on time. She's so easy to train. She makes me laugh so hard. Heavenly Father sent her to me. I've laughed so much. I'm so happy. As we were getting our new missionary picture taken together, Sister Hall (President's wife) was telling us all about how excited she was that we are companions and about how we're going to be just 2 peas in a pod and how amazing we're going to be together and I was just smiling thinking, "Yeah, okay, no pressure or anything!" hahaha! But we've been working our bums off. The other day we biked about 12 miles just contacting potentials that we met and tracking down referrals. Being a trainer is hard. I feel super inadequate for this job. But Hermana Ostler is such a champ. She loves her bike. She wanted to ride bikes, too. We are so alike, but different enough to keep it entertaining. She rapped missionary songs to me while we were riding down the road the other day. That was when I knew it was going to be a GREAT couple of transfers! 
So, we had a Zone Conference 2 days after transfer meeting and, holy. cow. It was amazing. We learned about the first missionaries out here in the desert. Sister Hall's great grandpa was the Mission President for this area way back when. Cool, huh? Runs in the fam. Anyway, he made the missionaries come out here without purse or script. That meant that they didn't have any money or a place to live. All they had was a suitcase that said LDS MISSIONARY and some copies of the Book of Mormon. They weren't allowed to ask for a place to live, and they weren't allowed to ask for food, but if someone offered, they could accept! But through their faith, and obedience they saw MIRACLES. They told us all about the history out here and I loved it. They were telling us about how President and Sister Hall love us so incredibly much and how they feel like they are sending their kids out on missions (to the other Mission)! Then we sang 'Carry On' (Hymn 255) President and Sister Hall and most of the missionaries in the room just started to weep when we got to the part that says "And we hear the desert singing: Carry on, carry on, carry on! Hills and vales and mountains ringing- carry on, carry on, carry on! Holding aloft our colors, We march in the glorious dawn. O youth of noble birthright, Carry on, carry on, carry on!" it was amazing. Then they asked me to give the closing prayer. It was really special. President and his family took pictures with all of us. He said he can't wait to be in the temple with all of us one day. President Hall and Elder Cropper talked a lot about mission reunions and how we need to go to them. The zone conference was amazing. 

That broadcast yesterday was awesome. I'm not going to lie, I was hoping they would extend girl's missions to two years but, alas, I was wrong. One miracle at a time, right? I found myself, and many of the Elders I was sitting by, in tears a few different times yesterday during the broadcast. It was so incredibly tender. I just love being a Missionary. It's so amazing. The videos that they kept showing just had me teary. I felt Heavenly Father's love so strong for His missionaries. 

A few of the things that I learned:

-He won't let us fail as we do the best we can

-When we act in faith, the Lord's blessings may be different than we expect, but they are ALWAYS BETTER than we've ever imagined. (see the first presidency message on the first page of Preach My Gospel)

-Missionary work is a rescue mission

-live so that you can abandon yourself, and script, but just follow the Spirit and let it flow

-The greatest teaching is done by a mother. The Priesthood holders think sometimes they have the power, but it doesn't compare to the power of a mother. -Boyd K. Packer aka- one of the greatest teachers of all time. Wasn't his message powerful?

Anyway I love being a missionary. It's so cool. Being a trainer is freakin' hard, but awesome. I am growing more than my new Missionary and President Hall told me that was going to happen! It's cool just watching it happen. I'm so thankful. I love you!
Hermana Dodge

Monday, June 17, 2013

President Hall asked me to Train!

So, surprise! President Hall just called me and asked me to be a trainer! Saturday night I found out I'm going to stay here in Esperanza and Hermana Tavoian is leaving. So, that means I'll be in the newly created Bakersfield Mission with President Wilson! and then President called and Hermana Tavoian answered and said hello, I'm actually calling to talk to Hermana Dodge! And then he asked me, "Will you be a trainer? Will you be exactly obedient? And will you fulfill the 12-week program?" and I said, "Yes, of course!" Then he gave me some more information. I'm going to transfer meeting tomorrow to pick up my new trainee and to drop off Hermana Tavoian!

It is so evident to me that I needed to be in the Bakersfield Mission. Think about it:

When I sent in my mission papers, the Bakersfield Mission had not been created yet. So, Heavenly Father must have wanted to me to go to San Fernando because He knew that's how I would get to Bakersfield. So, then, I remember getting the letter from President in the mail that talked about all the different Spanish areas in the mission. (aka- a ton) and one was called Esperanza (aka- the area I'm in right now) and I knew Esperanza meant "hope" in Spanish and I remember sitting on the couch in the living room and thinking, "Oh I want to go there! I'm going to need a little esperanza!" and then... I got sent here. THEN, I remember right when I heard that the mission was being split I thought, "That is why I'm here... I'm going there". Also, I only had a month in between when I got my call and when I reported to the MTC (Mission Training Center in Provo, UT). That is almost unheard of for missionaries at the time that I submitted my papers because of that huge wave of missionaries. People had to wait months to enter the MTC, because the MTC was PACKED. All the missionaries in my District in the MTC had submitted their papers way before I did! The Lord needed me out in the field, and he needed me TRAINED so that I could hit the ground running and be ready to help open this new mission with President Wilson. He needed me to be ready so that I can be an asset to my new Mission President. I'm going to see miracles. I was bummed for a grand total of 5 minutes because President Hall is awesome and the valley is cool. But then... the Spirit just hit me and was like, "You need to become what Heavenly Father wants you to become and is planning on you becoming. Stop worrying about yourself and step up to the plate!" and then I got called as a Trainer. lol. It is awesome.
Prep-Day at the church.
I love being a missionary. We are seeing miracles out here in the desert. Please send me Erika's birthday so I can make sure to not miss it.  I need you to look it up on FaceBook or something and let me know when it is! Please send back the SD card that I sent you with everything on it. Don't worry about my birthday. To be honest, I forgot about it until last night because Sister Peatross's birthday is today and I realized my birthday is in a month. I'm fine. I have everything I need :)
I'll let you know if I need anything! I love you a whole bunch. Life is so good. Hermana Tavoian and I have been having a lot more fun this week which is awesome. We've been working really hard. Life is good! I'll only be on for 10 more minutes because I'm writing to President! I love you!

We went to lunch with some GREAT members
Back- Sis's Scaife, Fish & Peatross
Middle- Sister's Cottrell, Tavoian, & Hermana Dodge
Front- Wendy & Trevor Bird
Hermana Cassi Dodge

Monday, June 3, 2013

Other Interested Church Members

Hi Everyone!

Here is a little excerpt from our email from President Hall this week:

~If you ever wanted to know what the MTC experience is like for Mission Presidents, this is your chance. They will be broadcasting a special session from this year's seminar for New Mission Presidents live on Sunday, June 23rd, 2013 at 4pm (mountain time). The following is a letter from the First Presidency.

"Ward and Stake council members, their spouses, full-time missionaries, and other interested Church members are invited to participate in a special session of the Seminar for New Mission Presidents entitled, "The Work of Salvation," which will be broadcast from the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah. (time above). The program will be subsequently rebroadcast to many areas of the world. President Thomas S Monson, President Boyd K Packer, and members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will share messages about missionary work and conversion. Where necessary, we ask local leaders to adjust scheduled worship services so that members are able to participate in the live broadcast of this historical event."

Pres Hall continues; All full-time missionaries are invited (and required) to attend this broadcast. I would also talk this up to your wards, and branches. All ward council members should attend, but invite EVERYONE to attend (note "other interested Church members"- shouldn't everyone be interested in missionary work?). This will be a very important and memorable broadcast related to this great hastening of the work that is taking place today! ~

Monday, April 15, 2013

Palmdale News

Hi. this letter is going to be super sporadic and not very fluid. Also, I'm awful at grammar and spelling in English now. Lets just go with it :)
Yes, I got the Toms and brownies and cards! Thank you so much! They are awesome! The brownies were delicious and we tried to make them last as long as possible so we cut them in half and only ate a little bit at a time :)
Mom: Make Codi Peterson and Dylan Gardner stand together and take a picture of them! Tell Lara and Codi I love them and I would LOVE to hear from them BOTH. 
So, lots of things to talk about. Ready? GO. 
Kristi might think this is cool- They have created a new thing called Sister Training Leaders or something like that! They are new leaders that work with the Zone Leaders and are specifically the conduit between sisters and president and they go on exchanges with other sisters and do training and stuff! So now, they don't have Zone Leadership Council with just the Zone Leaders! Now the Zone Leaders and the Sister Training Leaders go to a meeting with the President. It has a new name. I forgot what it was. I left my journal that has all of my notes from training in it at home! (dumb, I'm sorry. I'll repent and be better) So, that's cool! That is church-wide! This is a new thing for all Missions everywhere! :)
Also, speaking of, who was the first sister missionary? Can you look that up for me? Who was she? Where did she serve? Tell me about her!
Also, could you send me one or two good smoothie recipes? Maybe one involving oatmeal?
Also, just FYI, I rediscovered my love for Cheetos. Yeah. it's a blessing and a curse. I'm 9 years old again. I love it. Haha.
So, I get to help plan a wedding! Who would've thought that the first wedding I plan would NOT be my own? haha! Our investigators are getting married so that they can be baptized! It was awesome. I was kind of concerned about how they were going to react to our invitations but I trusted the Lord! Here is what I wrote President about it: "This week has been wonderful. We've seen many miracles. The one I'm really excited to tell you about is Teresa and Jessie. We've been teaching them and this week we had to find out if they were married or not. I was excited, but a tiny bit nervous because if they weren't married, they would have to get married before they could get baptized. So, when we got there Jessie wasn't home from work but we started to teach Teresa and her daughter! We taught her the 10 commandments and the law of chastity and she definitely understood everything and said she liked it a lot. So, we brought up marriage and how she needs to be married to be baptized and she actually really liked that! She said she doesn't feel good living with Jessie without being married and that they had plans to get married and they've wanted to for a while but they just always push it back. Well, then Jessie walked in from work and sat down and joined in. We kind of reviewed with him what we had talked about and started talking about the Law of Chastity with him, too! He was really receptive and open to it, as well! He liked it and Hermana Tavoian and I talked about the huge blessings that come with being married. We talked about how marriage will bring them closer together as a couple and how they will be able to go through trials and difficulties together when they have Jesus Christ as the center of their relationship. We talked about how when they grow closer to Christ they will grow together and they loved that! So, we asked them if they would get married to prepare to get baptized, cleared up some confusion and worries they had, and they said yes! Jessie is excited but he wants to make sure his wedding is nice and that they do everything "right" so, we decided to give them a little over a month. We set their baptism date as May 26 and they committed to getting married before then. We're going to teach their daughter, Adriana as well so that we can baptize them as a family! They're really excited, we're really excited, and I'm so thankful for the Spirit and the hand of the Lord in all of our lives. None of that could've happen if Heavenly Father hadn't softened their hearts and helped us have the Spirit. So, we get to help put on a wedding! We're getting the ward involved and so it will be interesting to see how everything plays out. It was a miracle for us!

So, needless to say, we're doing great here. I'm still trying to get used to everything and there are hard days, but I'm so happy to be here. There is nowhere I'd rather be! I love being a missionary and sharing the message of the Restoration with the people in this area. I'm so grateful for the Book of Mormon and I'm reading it daily. Anyway, thank you so much for all you do for us and I hope you and your family are doing well!

-Hermana Dodge
So, we are STOKED. 
Also, I experienced my first sandstorm this week! That was awesome! In Texas, ya know how you can see thunderstorms rolling in from miles away? It's like a wall of dark gray clouds? Yeah, Sandstorms are just like that, except light gray/tan because it's just a wall of sand coming. It was SUPER windy. 
Oh, and by the way, we get to Skype our families on Mothers Day and Christmas!! :) No big deal! Hahaha! Also, I noticed this Sunday that sometimes I stick out like a sore thumb in my congregation. Hna Tavoian has a darker complexion and so she kinda fits in, but I just stick out! I love it! It's so fun! So, apparently President Hinckley said that if anyone reads the Book of Mormon in another language, they will be fluent in that language. Can you research and find that for me? I would love to see a talk or something or a quote on that, because I'm BANKING on that! lol. 
So, this week we had Zone Conference! It was awesome! We had the Lancaster Zone with us, and there are Korean Elders in the Lancaster Zone. So, there is one Elder named, Elder Kim. He comments a lot and sings really loud, and he is the definition of a tenor. So, I noticed him singing and then after conference he came and found me and said, "Sister, what is your name!?!" and I said, "Hi! I'm Hermana Dodge. Nice to meet you!" and he said, "Oh yes it is very nice to meet you too. You have an amaaazing voice, Sister. You sound beautiful! Have you ever taken any voice lessons?"  I proceeded to tell him a little bit about my vocal background and he said, "Wow, I'm classically trained, too! I was trained to sing Opera!" Anyway, I talked to him about that too and he said we need to tell President Hall that we need to sing together! I just smiled and said, "Okay!" It was just so funny and random. I was sick last week and so I know I didn't sound my best, but Elder Kim sure thought I sounded alright! LOL.
So, last but not least. Last night we were visiting some potential investigators before we went home, and we were going to see this guy named Frederico and his wife Erika (yeah, her name is Erika. I almost cried and hugged her when she introduced herself) but that's not the point! Anyway, we went over and when we were walking we passed this apartment that we had contacted (or "knocked") the week before. We had contacted this guy who was watching us out his window for just a couple seconds as we knocked on his neighbors door. So, I smiled and waved and we saved his house for last. Well we knocked and he opened the door,  we shared a really short message and asked when we could come back and talk more and he said come by sometime in the evening this week, my baby is crying so I need to go and we said ok and left. We went back that week and nobody was home so we left a card with our number and a message on it. When we were visiting Erika and Frederico (who live around the corner) I just really felt like we needed to stop by, so I thought... Okay, after Frederico we will. So, we went over there and the wife (or girlfriend, or something) answers the door holding the baby boy (who is precious) and says, "Come in come in!" We go in and sit down and she tells us her name is Ruby (such a pretty name) and the tells us she's a member! So we asked her about her background and she began to tell us that she was baptized when she was younger. She went to girls camp, and even went to the temple and did baptisms for the dead! She said she loves the church and the gospel is so beautiful and that although she attends the Catholic church with her husband, her heart has always been with our church. So, her husband was upstairs taking care of the children and he didn't come down to listen, but Ruby and her daughter listened very intently. We shared the restoration with her and left her 2 copies of El Libro de Mormon and 2 pamphlets about the restoration, one in English and one in Spanish, and we scheduled a follow up appointment for this week. it was amazing. Seriously... it was a miracle. She said she has always hoped that little by little her husband would come around to hearing the gospel and that he is shy but she really wants this for her family. She said her cousin is actually preparing to go on a mission right now and her siblings are members too! We felt so guided by the Holy Ghost to go and talk to them that night. I am so grateful. I am honestly so happy that we had this experience. The Spirit was there in our lesson and we felt so much peace in their home. She was just lost for a little while but the Lord has perfect timing. Ruby and her family needs the gospel and we're going to work with her and her family. Ruby said she saw our card that we left and asked her husband if he knew what that was and who left it and she said she told him that it was actually a card from the real church and that missionaries left it for them! She said she was so happy! :)
Gosh, the time is gone...I guess I'll leave you with this: I love being a missionary. I love wearing this badge everyday. It's weird because I remember looking up to the missionaries as a little girl and I remember writing Kristi all the time and it's just so awesome that I get to be a missionary now! I love the Book of Mormon. I read it everyday. It changes lives, it brings peace when you feel like you can't find it anywhere else. It brings a joy that you can't get from anything else. We have a Heavenly Father who loves us so much. I love the people here. I love California. People can say what they want, but I love California! The Lord is "exalting His valleys" Isaiah 40:4
I love y'all. I love you mom. I love you so much. I'm sending you copies of my journal entries from this week. 
P.S. Can you tell everyone I said hi! I love you!