Monday, March 28, 2016

God Hears Us - It's All Real

Hermana Reed needs surgery on Friday. Waiting to hear the plan.

Hello hello! Sorry today is a crazy day again. Sorry I didn't send a good email last week but, man this was a good week!
Spanish Chistoso (funny)

We had an awesome specialized zone conference earlier and I assume you don't care about all the details but I was amazed that all of our leaders taught an entire day of meetings JUST FOR ME. Haha, seriously though everything the zone leaders, sister training leaders, assistants, and president Wakolo said was exactly what I needed to hear. I am in one of those transition times where I got kind of comfortable with missionary work and it's time to stretch and grow again. I learned about the power of diligent fasting and prayer from president Wakolo. He said he would imagine that his missionaries fasted and prayed and fasted and prayed and acted on their faith by following the Spirit to say the things they needed for the Spirit to spark his conversion. The initial thing that caught his attention was the name of the church. If Christ had a church, what would it be called? The church of Jesus Christ! It's so simple yet so profound and I'm grateful for the missionaries that so diligently followed the Spirit so we could be touched by president Wakolo's testimony and conversion.

Aww

I also... ... ... ........ ENJOYED A ROLE PLAY. Hahahaha I do not like doing role plays because it's awkward but I got out of my comfort zone and received so much revelation for an investigator and a less active member. IT'S LIKE THEY'RE INSPIRED OR SOMETHING. President Wakolo asked us to do them everyday everyday everyday and as awkward as they are it really is the best way to receive revelation. And elder Hale is cool and decided we need to do district role plays every Monday for comp studies. So we go to the church Monday mornings now and work together to move this mountain! It's great. Anyway I wish I could explain better how awesome our leaders are and how even more awesome the Holy Ghost is.
Just finishing District Role Play


Something the assistants talked about at specialized was asking "heaven inspired questions." Avoiding the routine questions that may or may not be productive and asking questions that are sent from heaven-or the Holy Ghost- to help identify people's needs and to help them think about their own conversion. I needed this so much and it came just in time for us to have a great lesson with a new investigator. He is this big, muscle-y work out guy who I totally thought would brush us off, but he's actually really cool and very genuine. We started off just getting to know him and his background and then together sister Reed and I thought deeply about what he was saying and how the gospel and the experiences we have had can in a very real way, bless him and address his needs. We did our best to avoid asking questions that were yes or no, or that didn't make sense or that were looking for an obvious answer and tried to ask more about his views and purposes and about God and HIS views and purposes. We have yet to see him again but I know he got closer to Christ; he got one step closer to believing in God and believing that he is really listening.

He told us about feeling unsure if the stories in the Bible are real, if those miracles really happened. He also asked me after talking about God and his purpose and role in our lives, "So you actually believe that God is up there listening when you pray for him ...?" YES!! I was so happy to testify to an honest seeker of truth that yes, I know God is listening. There have been times in my life where I was unsure, I felt alone, I wanted immediate answers and I wasn't getting them. But I know right now that God is listening and wants to hear from us. He is the same yesterday and forever and helped those people out of bondage in the Old Testament, he called prophets to lead and guide the people, he sent his son Jesus Christ to atone for the sins of the world, and he is so aware of each person on the earth and is actively waiting and listening!! It's just so true. It made me go home and reflect on the miracles and tender mercies and blessings I have had in my life that because of my faith, I know God is real. I have been so blessed!! :)
Cici's Pizza with Roques

Sweet Sister Reed has been such a trooper this week! All week she has been hobbling around on crutches and is still willing and able to teach the gospel! We will find out soon what exactly the game plan is, but for now we are being so well taken care of by the Spanish branch and the English ward and all the missionaries. Seriously so many tender mercies. I'm so grateful for sister Reed and her diligence in still wanting to find people and teach and make good relationships with those in this area, despite the challenge of a torn ACL. Your prayers and support are felt and much appreciated! :)
Happy Easter sign from Mom

I of course have been thinking a lot about Jesus Christ and his Atonement, death, and resurrection. I love taking the sacrament but it was especially sweet on Easter! I read Alma 11:42-45 a lot this week and thought about why it was even necessary. I love in the hallelujah video that explains we need Jesus Christ so we can have a new life. I tried to apply that a lot this week, really repenting everyday and starting over new. I'm so grateful that I can repent everyday in preparation to partake of the sacrament and renew that sacred covenant, and be clean as though I had just been baptized. Cool right? It is all only possible because of the love of God which is in Jesus Christ.
Old watch. :(

New Walmart Special. Yay!

There were lots of funny and good things that happened this week, most notably: I broke my watch, we had a fun Easter breakfast with the Spanish branch, enjoyed the niƱos on their sugar highs, bought a new watch, have yet to buy new shoes to replace the ones I accidentally threw away ... (it's okay because now I have an excuse to not go running anymore. Aside from having an injured companion, of course), had an amazing breakfast/lunch with the Stokes and some other families in the ward, I have had a twitch in my eye for two days, and just had lunch with Hna Espinoza at Umami's-which is always a great time! And today we have dinner with the Davis' and I know she reads my blog so Hi Sister Davis! see you in a few! :)

Beautiful Tulips. Me, Sister Hilton, Hermana Roque (RS Pres) and Tina

New Easter dress worn backwards because I don't like the front neckline. But it was cute and so so cozy. :) I knew she wouldn't like the neckline but sent it to her anyway. Never guessed she would wear it backwards. Very Ashley of her.
I'm sorry this is a dull letter, I promise we are having fun and working hard and enjoying seeing lives change because of the gospel of Jesus Christ!!

MOSTLY I'M SO EXCITED FOR GENERAL CONFERENCE AND TO HAVE MY QUESTIONS ANSWERED AND AHHH I LOVE THE GOSPEL.

Prepare yourselves, this will be a good one.

Keep serving, keep loving, keep Hermana Reed in your prayers and keep being awesome.

I love you!

Good Times ... Good Memories ... Mi Amiga (referring to when I broke my leg and we rode around on motorized shopping carts everywhere we went)
Easters

Awesome outdoor chalk thing that Grandma Stokes put up.

Awesome swing and rope thing also and Grandma Stokes

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Short but sweet


Sorry that I have zero time for a weekly email because it's been crazy! I love you all and remember with God on your side, one is always the majority.

We are doing speed emails because we have dinner tonight at 5:00 and we had a lunch and a doctor's appointment. Crazy. Sports night + rubber shoes + carpet floor = possible torn acl? She can walk on it mostly but the doc just said she has to get an MRI.
 
video
As a side note, we got a letter in the mail wherein she told us she put her running shoes and exercise clothes in a shopping bag to take with them on P-day. She didn't end up needing them but realized when she got up the next morning to go running that she had inadvertently taken them out with the trash the day before. BUMMER!. So, I guess I know what she's getting for Easter.

Monday, March 14, 2016

New Comp, Tender Mercies, and Weekly Goliaths

Hola,
Birthday Party! (the birthday boy in front sent this to me Sunday night on Facebook. I love modern technology!!!)

So this week was little bit crazy because last Monday I GOT A NEW COMPANION, HERMANA REEEEEEED! Haha it's been great, we are getting along really well. She is a very intuitive person and it's been fun to help her get to know the people of Russellville in Spanish and English. We had a few tender mercies this week, and I don't have a lot of time today (I say that every week and then I feel like my emails are way too long. IDK):
New friend, Kathy

Kathy-One lovely afternoon after we had seen a tender mercy and ran into a less active lady we have been looking for, we were about to go inside for lunch and there was this neighbor of ours out doing yard work and we decided to go help her. We went over and asked how we can help and she gave the typical "oh no it's alright, I'm a hard worker and you're in skirts" remark and so I practically took the shovel from her hand and started talking to her. She was pretty strongly against anything church related, she hated the huge church across the street from her, she was upset from a few hypocritical Christians that were unfair, and she believes her relationship with God doesn't need to be any deeper than prayer and occasional scripture study. We just smiled and said okay and kept working and talking about life stuff. We eventually explained that we do not worship Joseph Smith but we honor him as a prophet of God. We are centered on Jesus Christ and families and we love to live the gospel as a way of life! Huge bouquet, lots of sweat, and a new best friend later, she invited us to go back and help her finish her yard work and teach a little bit about what we believe in. She said we were the nicest Christians she had ever met and that no one had ever helped her like that before, not even her own daughter-in-law would! haha it was so cute. This was one of those experiences where we hardly did anything. It was all the hand of God and we were just the instruments willing to pull a few weeds and plant a few flowers and He did the rest. Tender mercy.

The Rain ...

video


Don-Don is a less active member who we run into occasionally. He referred us to the coffee shop for wifi and we see him there now pretty frequently. On Hermana Reed's first night we had a little lesson with him and got to know his story and talked about church and reading the scriptures. Then later that week we went to Quiznos right around the corner and he came to eat with us and he shard the most beautiful testimony of God's love and timing and the power of the Holy Ghost! I have never asked someone to share their testimony in church before but we did. He came to church even though his father was having health issues, and he didn't share his testimony because like 1/2 the ward did (not complaining. It was awesome.) and then he stayed for a great lesson in gospel principles! I'm so blessed to get to know these people here. Everyone has the coolest stories and most tender experiences, I am very grateful for the Lord's hand in His work!

D-Is the guy who works at the coffee shop. One night we were syncing our iPads and talking to Don who  faithfully lives the Word of Wisdom (so much so that he almost gave up hot chocolate because he forgot that it's on the okay list!) and the worker at the counter was like "hey, isn't it because of caffeine?" (Referring to the reason for no coffee and stuff) and off we went! Haha it was so fun to teach him, in a coffee shop, why we don't drink coffee. Don bore his testimony of living this commandment and feeling at peace and we explained all about Joseph Smith and that this revelation was given even before we knew that cigarettes are bad for you. God gives revelation to the prophets, even if it doesn't make sense to the world. In the morning when you wake up, God would prefer you turn to Him and your scriptures for energy than to coffee or tea. And to ask for help and use the Atonement instead of alcohol or tobacco or any other addictive substances. He kept saying "ooooh okay that makes sense. I don't even like coffee actually." Haha! Golden! It was so fun. And then he showed us some of their herbal teas and accepted a Book of Mormon and told us he was so grateful for us explaining this commandment to him.

Ruben-I wish I could put in to words how cool Ruben is, but I can't. I will just say that he is one of the most genuine investigators I have seen on my mission. He takes every word we say and really thinks about it and asks questions to make sure we are on the same page. His comprehension of the Book of Mormon is amazing and I feel like he is already so incredibly receptive to the spirit. He really loves anything that is good. He told us about his sweet mother who raised his family to welcome all things that are good, and he does! He believes the Book of Mormon and he wants to apply it to his life. The other fun thing is that he has like 4 or 5 LDS friends, most of whom served missions and he is still in contact with them and they are encouraging him to keep reading and praying and listening to the Holy Ghost.


(This is the bunny that Bernie from the rest home wouldn't let me go home without for some reason ...)
video

Hna Barrera-Hna Barrera is a rockstar missionary. This week we went teaching with her and she told us she had 2 friends that she was nervous but really wanted to share the gospel with! One was her hair lady and the other was a lady who works at a clothing store. She took us right over, introduced us, and we all chit-chatted and set return appointments with them. This is such an amazing example because I often felt at home that I wasn't sure how to do missionary work. All my friends were members and if there were any that weren't, they knew where to go to find it! But it doesn't have to be so intense. It was as simple as getting their numbers, telling them who we are, and giving them a pass-along card and VOILA, missionary work! :)

Drawn by a ward member
Broadcast-Okay but really though this was a hard one to put into words, too. President Wakolo, Elder Merideth, Elder Kapishke, Elder Renlund, AND their amazing amazing amazing wives for 5 hours straight... #hallelujah (go watch the new Easter video, BTW). It was so fun to be edified (mostly because I didn't have to translate, haha!) and listen to these women counsel about Elder Nelson's "Plea to My Sisters" talk and then the rest of them spoke mostly about keeping the Sabbath day holy, service, and all sorts of other awesome stuff.

Wal Mart ladies-CUTEST CUTEST ladies at WalMart stopped us and gawked at Hermana Reed's bag because one of them had a matching one. She gave them a card and they went on their ways. Then we went out and happened to be parked next to them and they came running over and said "where is your church??" We gave them another card, got their numbers, and set a lunch date to go have limeade out on the porch and talk about God. Tender mercies all over the place!!!



This week we did not have high numbers but we worked hard and were so blessed to see these tender mercies all over the place, these were just the big ones! The Russellville ward and the Spanish branch are so amazing, I am so blessed to be serving here. Thank you for your prayers and your love.

I just want to add my testimony to Elder Merideth's about Sabbath Day observance. As David prepared to meet Goliath, he stopped by the brook to get his stones ready ... 1 Samuel 17:40 "And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine." Sabbath Day observance is like going to the brook so that we can face the Goliaths of our week. What better armor to carry than renewed covenants with God! This is such an important commandment and I am so grateful for it and the chance I have to take the sacrament every week and give one day back to the Lord, and rest in preparation for the Goliaths of my week.

I love you and I'm grateful for your prayers and sacrifices and obedience!

Hermana Macfarlane

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Sweet Sister Moore is headed to Memphis!

Hola!!!!!!!!!!
Love these girls.

Today is crazy = hopefully a short email.

The puppies are growing.

video


"With God on your side, one is always the majority." -President Wakolo

Cutest.
Last Monday was super awesome. After p-day dinner we went teaching with Scarlett. We went to the house of the cutest young couple who we have been sort of working with. They are very very active in their church and have a lot of knowledge so it's fun to teach them because they understand scripture really well and will actually read when we leave them a commitment! Anyway, they had read the introduction to the Book of Mormon and we got talking about the need for the Book of Mormon and the Bible together. A lot was said but my favorite thing was at the end Scarlett brought up a very logical point that if God is the same yesterday today and forever, we need to have a continuation of the word. We have the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and modern day prophets and apostles who continue to give us the word of God-it just makes sense! I was so grateful for her testimony which helped me have clarity. They promised to ponder on that and look for the ways that the Book of Mormon and the Bible complement each other. (Also it was cool and again it was inspired that we brought Scarlett with us because she had been learning about Isaiah in her institute class and was able to explain a few of their questions!)
Preach the Gospel
Sherrie Collins is the best

I have been learning a lot about the Book of Mormon and why we need it. I kept trying to study about how to prove and confound using Bible cross references and deep scripture. But I got a firm but loving reminder from the Spirit that what I was looking for was not there, hence why we have the Book of Mormon! (This was a big "a-ha" moment for me.) I was asking Hermana Moore about it and trying to figure out how to testify boldly of the Book of Mormon using logic and simplicity. We talked about the introduction to the Book of Mormon and how at the end it says "...will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is His revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the Second Coming of the Messiah." I also love in Chapter 5 of Preach My Gospel, Ezra Taft Benson explains why the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion, he gives three reasons. It is a witness of Christ, it has the fullness of the doctrine, and it is a foundation of testimony. It is so simple, yet so profound! We don't need to know the ins and outs of the Book of Mormon and the Bible and all the deep doctrine, at least not right now. But we do need to recognize that it testifies of Jesus Christ and of the Restoration of the gospel and if those things and the Book of Mormon are true, this is Christ's true church and you probably really want to be a part of it!!! So cool. I love the Book of Mormon and the pure power it holds. I'm grateful for my testimony of it and for the sacrifice it was so that we can have it in our day. What a blessing!
Zoney Zone
First Sunburn

I'm also very grateful for Hermana Moore. I am sad to say that she is going to Memphis! She has spent her entire mission here, minus the one transfer in Danville with me. It's cool how God knows what we need when we need it and we needed each other!! She is a very smart and obedient missionary and I will miss her a lot, a lot! But I'm excited because Hermana Reed (who has been in Memphis) is coming to Russellville with me this evening!
Elders brought us Ice Cream after a hard day

We had kind of a cool experience Tuesday morning. Every Tuesday we go with Hermana Roque to teach in Spanish. We had a few people in mind but she said she felt like no matter what our plans were, we needed to go see this lady who is not coming to church. So we drove all the way out to her house and Siri took us somewhere relatively close but it wasn't the right spot so we almost missed her house! We decided to just try the one we thought it was, just to be sure. Sure enough it was her! She let us in and we had a great talk  about church and her conversion story. She is the nicest lady who is taking care of her mom so she can't leave very often, and not long enough to come to church. But she said they are working on hiring someone for Sundays so she can come more frequently. It was just really neat to see that she was in need and Hermana Roque, the relief society president, received inspiration that there was a specific sister and her family in need of a visit and someone to turn to. Also it turns out she had been praying for missionaries to come by, so that was awesome too!!
This is the Carnathan's daughter and she is the best obviously.

Beautiful bonfire at the Carnathan's

This week was very sad because Hermana Moore had an incredible amount of tooth pain that for some reason got worse whenever she sat or laid down. So for two nights in a row she not only didn't sleep but didn't even sit down! My testimony of prayer was strengthened as we knelt in prayer together fervently praying for her to have peace and rest not only for her sake but for the sake of the people we needed to teach the next day. Eventually she was able to get some rest and went to the dentist! Huge shout out to sister Davis for sitting with Hna Moore at her dentist appointment while I went teaching with Sister Watts (also huge shout out) and for all the people in the ward that gave us rides and prayers and love this week!!! If you're going to have a tooth problem as a missionary, the Russellville ward is the place to do it! But also it was the funniest and saddest thing because at 3:15 am, the second sleepless night, Hna Moore asked me if we could find another solution for the pain. There was nothing we could do and she finally found a decent position to give a little bit of rest, kind of a kneeling prayer thing. She was rocking back and forth telling me that she loves rocking chairs and "at least there's not an ornery grandma behind it..." ... ... ... ... She was so delusional hahaha it made no sense and it was so funny but also so sad. I'm just grateful she is doing well now!

I'm so grateful for my testimony of the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the gospel and Christ's true church on the earth. Thank you for your love and support!

First Sunburn

Greek Chicken Pita on transfer day
Hermana Macfarlane

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

It's a Good Time to be HERE

Amber, HMoore, HMac, Sister Carnathan


Hello hello! We are doing well here in Russellville, Arkansas! Here
are a few highlights for this week:

District Meeting

After our district meeting last week we both didn't feel like eating
eggs/cereal/yogurt again for lunch so we decided to go out to eat. I
remembered from before that I had an awesome sandwich and turkey
cranberry salad from McAllister's (soup/salad/sandwich place) a few
weeks ago so we decided to try it again. Unfortunately, they changed
the sauce so I was unpleasantly surprised at that. BUT, it was soo cool
because the cashier was a former investigator that Hermana Moore
recognized, and it was good to make contact with her again. But then,
the manager came over and was like "Hey are you with the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?" Surprised and excited we said yes
and he proceeded to tell us he was a member in Conway, but he is
less-active right now. He was very kind and much to our PLEASANT
surprise he paid for our meal! It was such a blessing because Hermana
Moore forgot her wallet so I was just going to pay for us both, but
then we didn't have to because he paid for us! And gave us free
cheesecake!! Tender mercy.

H Moore felt like a genius because our speaker wasn't working for our conference call so she plugged this one in and it was awesome.
We were asked to stop by a less-active member's house who is moving
and had recently had a fire, but they weren't home (turns out we were
knocking at the wrong house anyway ...). So, we decided to knock around
the area. Nothing really came of it until we were driving away and
Hermana Moore felt like we needed to give a card to a nice older man
who was walking around outside. So we pulled back around and jumped
out to give him a card. He was so kind and open and we talked for a
moment and ended up giving him a Book of Mormon. Long story short, he
is currently in the book of Jacob and loves it and is excited to come
back to church again next week! We had some good lessons with him and
we are excited to watch him progress.

Miss Thelma is the best
Again we were going to an appointment, and it fell through so we
decided to knock around some apartments because there were tons of
people outside. We tried to talk to this one family but they went
inside before we could get to them. So we knocked on a door and this
sweet young mother hollered at us to come in. (It is 100% the best
thing ever when they just tell you to come in.) So we did and we had a
great lesson with her. The next time we went back, she said she had
been meaning to read the Book of Mormon but hadn't. BUT, it was on her
night stand so it's a step! Anyway we taught her the restoration and
invited her to be baptized and it was so cool because I was a little
bit nervous about it because I wasn't feeling 100% confident that the
Spirit was touching her heart but then I just went ahead and extended
the invitation and it was like the Spirit told her to say yes. Haha I
don't know how to explain it but Hermana Moore felt the same way. It
was like she was surprised to hear herself say yes with so much
conviction and certainty. I'm so grateful for the Spirit that teaches
and testified and confirms truth because without it, missionary work
would not happen!


Breanna was baptized!

BREANNA GOT BAPTIZED!!!! The sweetest little 10 year old. I think I
wrote about her last week, she was so ready for this step in her life
and she was beaming all day long! The day of her baptism was crazy
because we had interviews with president Wakolo and then like an hour
to go to missionary work, then we had to come set up for her baptism,
then have her baptism, then to go lunch with their family, then we had
like 20 minutes to grab our stuff and prepare for the Spanish branch
activity we were in charge of then we did the activity and had sports
night! Being at the baptism with her sweet family and the support from
the ward was certainly the highlight of the day, no, of the week!
Brother McArthur spoke on baptism and Hermana Moore spoke on he Holy
Ghost and I played the piano and it all went really well. :) (also she
had the cutest little blue baptism dress.) I'm so grateful I got to be
a part of Bre's conversion and help her learn the simple doctrines for
herself. She was beaming all day and then on Sunday when she got
confirmed it was the sweetest confirmation. We are so pumped to keep
teaching their family and help them progress toward the temple!! :)

Games with YSA
This week was really great and I have felt my testimony of prayer,
scripture study, the sacrament, repentance, and the Book of Mormon
grow significantly. It's such a cool opportunity to be here learning
to serve others and therefore increasing my faith! We went teaching
with Sister Watts yesterday (well really we didn't because no one
was home but she came with us) and she is a very educated woman with
good opinions. We talked about this area (the general south but mostly
Arkansas) being so prepared for the gospel with their belief in Christ
and good values/morals. It's a good time to be here! :)
video

The feet of her who is publishing peace! (Actually just a picture of new Bobs, but still.)
Your love and prayers are much appreciated. :)
Someday I will learn enough Spanish to know different ways to end my letters.

Hasta la muerte,

Hermana Macfarlane

Worst picture of the cutest dog
(P.S. Shout out to the one and only Katie Shelton for giving me a back
rub yesterday and for being the best. And to Autumn for giving me
cereal. And the Wyatts for having a cute dog. And Lee for being a nice
person and stuff. And sister Davis who I know reads my blog and gave a
great talk in church on Sunday!)

Coco because he colored on the wall with make-up
Bon fire con la Rama