Monday, May 19, 2014

From the one who had to take off the nametag

Well, it's crazy to sit here and think that it's already been 2 1/2 months since I got home. Aaahh!

I doubt anyone reads this blog anymore, considering the fact that I'm HOME now, but I figured I could at least tie up this blog with one last post.

I am being completely honest when I say that it was fifty times harder to LEAVE my mission than it was to go on my mission. It truly was the most incredible, life-changing experience that I have ever had. I am so grateful for the lessons I learned, for the people I met, and most importantly for the person that I became.

The "transition" back from a mission is a whole new experience in itself! I definitely had my fair share of awkward moments and running away from boys and talking to myself in the car because I missed having a companion. I still find myself missing the mission almost every day, especially because right after I left, the Ft. Lauderdale temple was finished and they had an open house and then the dedication. It was hard to leave right before that, but I've had multiple experiences since being home that helped me recognize that I am WHERE God wants me to be WHEN He wants me to be here. Even though I wanted to stay in Florida for six more weeks, God's timing was, of course, impeccable. I was needed here. And within the next week, I'll be moving onto the next adventure and I fully trust that God will continue to lead me to the people I am supposed to meet.

I think one of the coolest things for me to recognize since being home is that even though I'm not a missionary anymore, I am STILL progressing spiritually. I am STILL growing in my understanding of the gospel. I am still becoming a better person. In fact, I think that I am a better person now than I was 2 1/2 months ago when I stepped off that plane. I am still dedicated to becoming more like Christ and I've learned that it is possible even without that black nametag. I remember at one point during my mission when I was at a church meeting and someone said, "The real test of your mission is going to be AFTER you get home. Being a missionary is easy. Continuing to apply the things you learned in the real world is the hard part." They were SOO right! It is difficult to be here in the world where there are so many distractions. There is a lot more temptation and a lot more opportunity to go astray. However, there are still many opportunities to serve and to be a good example in ways that I think you don't get as a missionary.

Well, I guess this is my final blog post. I can't live on my missionary blog forever. ;)
I haven't started blogging again back at my home blog, but I love blogging too much to stay away for an extended period of time. I'm sure I'll be back soon enough.

For now, enjoy this letter that I emailed to a bunch of my sisters the first week after I got home.


My lovely sisters,

Oh my goodness, here I am writing to you as an RM (returned missionary). Yeah, it's weird.
I hope you are working hard and having the TIME OF YOUR LIVES! I know everyone says this, but it really does go by WAY too fast. When I walked off the plane I literally felt like I had just left. It was so strange. For the next couple of days I kept expecting to wake up, because surely I was still in Florida and this was just a dream, right?!
Going to Orlando to go to the temple with the other departing elders was AWESOME. The temple was AMAZING. It was (obvi) the first time I've gone since the MTC and...WOW. Mindblowing. Super spiritual. I loved every moment of it and the second I left, I wanted to go right back. I'm definitely excited for you all to be able to go soon when the temple opens!

Thursday was hard. Basically I just cried a lot all day, ESPECIALLY in my interview with the stake president when he was going to release me. It was kind of weird, though, because he didn't really release me and he didn't make me take off my nametag. So I wore the tag the rest of the day and still felt like I was a missionary for the next couple days since I didn't feel like the mantle was really "removed" from me. However, it was interesting to note how the more I let in the distractions of the world (be it worldly music, not having the missionary schedule anymore, getting on Facebook for the first time on Saturday, or watching my first movie Saturday night--"Frozen", which was super good), the more I could feel the mantle leave me. It was sad, and I wanted to hold onto it really badly and keep pretending like I was a full-time missionary. But I realized that I'm not anymore, and so I need to be able to move on and start this next part of my life.
On Friday I got to go to the temple again with some of the ladies from the relief society and again, it was so awesome. I'm learning a lot about the things that I will need to do to be able to keep the Spirit with me strongly, including regular temple attendance and studying my scriptures FIRST THING in the morning--even before exercising. The world really just has so many distractions. As a missionary, we almost take it for granted how close we are to the Spirit. Now, don't get me wrong, I haven't done anything too crazy and I still feel close to the Spirit. But it is a different feeling and I miss the ease with which I could hear from the Spirit as a missionary.
I guess the moral of all this is that you are in such an amazing place right now. You get this incredible opportunity to eliminate all distractions and just learn and grow from the Spirit. Wow! What a blessing our Heavenly Father has given us! Continue being exactly obedient and work hard every minute. One of the weirdest things being home is not feeling purposeful every minute. Take full advantage of your purpose and of your opportunity to bring souls to your Heavenly Father. I know sometimes it can be tempting to look forward to the end, but I promise you, there's nothing here that can't wait. It really isn't that exciting. I would give anything to be back on the mission, serving alongside you!
You are incredible and you truly are changing lives. And don't worry about me....I am doing okay. I really am happy. It's definitely a weird adjustment, but I know that this is going to be good. In relief society today I felt super lonely without a companion, I still feel weird every time someone calls me "Kelli," and I feel a little lost without the missionary schedule. But life is good. I've only had one awkward manhug....I went to visit my friend Natalie and her husband and he tried to hug me and I like awkwardly sidehugged him and patted his back. He just laughed and said, "Wow, you really are straight off the plane!" *sigh* I guess all those transfers in YSA didn't make me any less awkward around boys. Oh well. :)
I love you and I keep you in my prayers!

(the late sister dougal)
PS- I skyped with Sister Stegelmeier today....OH MY, it was so fun to talk to her. We laughed for an hour. She sends her love. :)
PPS- Yes, I DID wear my wig off the plane like I said I would. And I included some pics so that you have proof. ;)
Orlando temple!

Sporting my fancy Florida wig

They look thrilled, don't they?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Letter 71: "There never was a girl that had so great reason to rejoice as me"

Well, this is definitely a strange feeling. This is the last email I get to send while still wearing this lovely little black tag I have come to love so much. It's so weird...I feel like there is so much that I want to say and so much that happened this week, but I honestly am at a loss for words. (that's an odd happening for me)

I guess the emotion that I am feeling most strongly right now is just one of overwhelming gratitude. I have loved my mission so much. This last transfer was completely the opposite of what I wanted it to be, but as I spent some time in my study this morning reviewing the things I learned over the last 5 weeks, I was completely blown away by the things the Lord has taught me. Even during this last week, (which, by the way was one of the STRANGEST and hardest weeks of my mission, especially owing to the fact that we didn't have a car for half of it and somehow still needed to cover all of Miami-Dade county!) I feel like I have learned some of the most life-changing lessons on my whole mission! I am so grateful that my Heavenly Father gave me this opportunity to come here and to become more like my Savior Jesus Christ. Because as I look back over the last 18 months and think about all of the many people I have influenced and the lives that I have changed, I know without a doubt that the one He sent me here to change most of all was my own.

I'll be completely honest; even though I am more at peace now with leaving, it doesn't mean that I want to! Ahh. It is heart-wrenching to be pulled out of Miami, out of this branch (which I thankfully have come to really love), and out of doing the Lord's work full-time. I wish that President would have granted me an extension, but I guess like Alma says, "I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me" (Alma 29:3). And I am. I am truly grateful. I have watched the Atonement work in the lives of so many of Father's precious children, my brothers and sisters, and I am just amazed that I had the chance to be a part of their lives. I think back to the person I was a year and a half ago and I just shake my head, thinking, "Was that really what I was like?!" He knew I needed this mission. And I guess I just have to trust Him that I need to take the next step now and that it will be just as amazing as the last 18 months have been.

Although the week was quite the rollercoaster ride, my last Sunday as a missionary was the best Sunday I ever could have asked for. We had SO many of the less-actives and recent converts that we've been working with come to church. But probably the most amazing thing was that Sybil's sister Toni came with her! On Saturday, we had a lesson with Sybil and her family where Sybil actually taught the Plan of Salvation. She did an amazing job, but it was hard for us and for her when her family wasn't as receptive as she was hoping and the lesson kind of ended on a sour note. After the lesson, we went outside and she just started crying. It broke my heart and I of course cried with her. Despite the fact that she's only been baptized for a month and a half, she has such a solid testimony and is so converted to the gospel. She wants this so badly for her family because she KNOWS this is the truth and that they need to partake of it. At fast & testimony meeting the next day, she bore an incredible testimony that her sister Toni was there to hear. Sybil shared why this is so important to her and how she wants her family to receive it so they can all be together in the celestial kingdom. Every meeting on Sunday was fantastic and at the end of the day, in relief society, Toni actually got up and shared HER testimony! She talked about how she has seen the gospel change Sybil's life, how she loved the way she felt at church, and that she knows that her whole family will be there one day with Sybil. Wow. I just had such an incredible feeling, coming out of yesterday. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who allowed me to have that amazing experience before I left!

Well, in the words of Alma, "Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never [was a girl] that had so great reason to rejoice as [me], since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God...Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever." (Alma 26: 35,37). I do rejoice! This is the greatest work. I am committed to be a missionary for life and I am grateful for the incredible training that I had here in the Florida Ft. Lauderdale mission. I love you all and am excited to be able to share my experiences in-person soon with many of you. :)

Con amor y mucho gusto,
la hermana dougal

PS- My mission was made COMPLETE by my fabulous zone leaders. I asked them if I could help out with reading the transfer information over transfer calls. They let me be in charge of the WHOLE CALL. WOOT WOOT! Soo sweet. I got to deliver everyone's destiny to them. ;)
PPS- I am especially a little bummed that I am leaving because they closed the south area of our branch which means that Sis Gordon is now in charge of the ENTIRE Snapper Creek area, which goes all the way from downtown Miami (which is north), down through Homestead and to Florida City...and technically all the way to the Keys! (not that she'll ever go there, haha.) Man, we would have had SO MUCH FUN tearing that whole thing up together. I absolutely love our northern area. But the southern area is a BLAST. She was a bit overwhelmed when she found out but I know she's going to rock it. ;)
PPSS- I forgot...God really did grant me all the desires of my heart! I FINALLY saw REAL LIVE ALLIGATORS IN THE WILD!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bye bye li'l bro Jeff, now Elder Carreno! A real-life missionary!

Ft. Lauderdale temple!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Letter #70: We went back!

How strange it is to sit here and realize I only have a week left. I'll be honest, it still doesn't feel real. I feel like I will keep living here in Miami and attending the Snapper Creek branch every week! (Which I would be fine with, actually. I have really come to love the branch members here. The branch has been making a LOT of positive progress lately and it has been wonderful to be a part of.) But I've come to understand that the mission is really just a boot camp for the rest of my life. And it'd be silly to stay at boot camp forever....just like it'd be silly to stay at the MTC forever. Eventually you have to go out into the world and use the skills that you learned! So although I'm sure I will still bawl my eyes out next week as they put me on that plane, I know things will be okay.
Like I mentioned last email, this transfer has not been ANYTHING I expected it to be. However, I truly am full of joy and loving every moment, even though outwardly we are not experiencing the success we would like. This transfer, the Lord has really been teaching me a lot about finding success even in failure. (Maybe I shouldn't say "failure"....that sounds a bit harsh! haha.) I am really learning to seek approval from Him, as well as to see the other fruits of my labors even if they aren't so obvious. I had the goal to leave this branch better than I left it when I came in, and I really feel like I have done that. This last transfer especially, we have watched the changes occur in the branch and its members as we just reached out to them. I truly do feel like I will be leaving it better than when I came. I had the opportunity to give a "final talk" yesterday and even though I felt like I didn't get as much preparation time as I usually do, I think it was one of the best talks I've ever given. It was all about the Restoration of the gospel. It was so cool to see the Spirit speak through me as I said things I hadn't planned on talking about, and it was especially incredible to feel the strength and power behind my words as I bore my testimony at the end. I had a lot of members comment on the talk afterwards and Sybil told me I should be a public speaker.

But the COOLEST thing this week has been the many miracles we have seen! We are teaching an AMAZING girl named Felicia. She is literally the only one we're teaching right now. But she is INCREDIBLE. She is trying to make a LOT of changes in her life, especially overcoming addictions. She has a "home church" but when we taught her the Restoration it clicked and she understood that not every church is true. She asked us, "What happens if you've been going to the wrong church?" and we were able to have a good discussion about how God leads honest seekers of truth to His church, just like He has been leading her. We had asked her earlier in the week to come to church with a question that she wanted God to answer. She hadn't been able to think of one, but after our discussion on the Restoration, she said that she wanted to come to church with the question, "Is this the true church?" I was so excited for her to come this Sunday because I knew that all the talks would be focusing on the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. During the last talk, she wrote something on her hand. Afterwards, she showed it to us with a huge grin and this is what she had written: "God just answered my question." (And it was a yes!)  WOW! So cool. She is so amazing. We are praying hard that she will be able to be solid in living the commandments and avoiding her addictions so she can be baptized before I leave.

This week we were really focused on relying on the Spirit and acting on all promptings. We had some amazing experiences as we did so! One of the biggest ones was on Thursday night. We had taken Sybil, or recent convert, out teaching with us and had stopped by to try and visit another recent convert. He wasn't there but his brother was. We had taught his brother a little bit before but he hadn't been super interested. We ended up having a pretty awkward conversation with him and we both were trying to decide whether or not we should have a lesson with him...and we both kind of wanted to...but we ended up just leaving. Anyways, we are driving back on the Palmetto Expressway and I just keep thinking about. I just kept thinking, dang....we should have taught him! And then Sybil mentioned something about how the conversation was really awkward and how she could see in his eyes that he had some questions for us. And then Sis Gordon said she felt bad that we hadn't taught him. And I realized, We have to go back! I voiced it, kind of as a wild idea at, "What if we went back right now and taught him?! Would that be crazy?" (The answer was yes, because we'd been on the freeway for 10ish minutes and it was getting late and we were already 50 streets away) But I just kept talking about it....and we all felt, YES, we need to go back! So I was like, "Look for an exit!! Where's the next exit?!" And we finally got to one and we turned around and went back. Sister Gordon texted Enrique to make sure he didn't leave his house and told him we forgot something and were coming back. We showed up to the house and sadly....he wasn't there. I was kinda bummed. But as we were walking back to the car, we saw ANOTHER boy we had taught a couple of times whose dad is actually a member of the church. I said, "That's why we're here! We're supposed to teach Derek!" So we ran across the street and I said, "Derek, God sent us to visit you tonight because we have a message for you!" And he was so shocked that I don't think he could have left even if he'd wanted to. So we started talking to him and then during the conversation, Enrique showed up too. He asked us what we'd forgotten. And we told him, "God sent us back here because He knew that you had some questions for us, and we forgot to answer them! So....what do you want to know?" He too was a little taken aback. But all in all, it ended up being an AWESOME experience and we all felt super great afterwards. Sybil was pumped to serve her own mission. Yeahhhh! I am grateful that we listened to and acted on that prompting of the Spirit!

Well, I love you all. Other wild moments of the week included playing volleyball in a skirt and getting in a bad car accident last night...but don't worry, we are doing well. Now we just get to figure out how to work our area this week without a car....! Hmm...
SO keep praying for us and our area!  I plan to have the most fabulous week EVER.

Sister Dougal

cow tongue


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Letter #69: satisfied

OH my, I'd better make this letter good, since I only have a couple left. Literally a couple. As in 2. dos. #whattheworld

Well, I'm sure Mom will be relieved to know that I am doing a little bit better with the whole "coming home" thing. I'm sure she was imagining a scene at the airport in a couple weeks similar to the scene at the airport right after receiving my call and announcing it in church...aka lots of tears and a bit of tantruming. haha. Don't worry, dear mother, I've stopped fighting against coming home. I really am feeling a lot more okay about going back and starting the next step, especially thanks to some emails from the late Sister Steg who informed me that "everyone who ever told me that coming home from a mission is the worst thing in the world stressed me out for no reason. I love being home!" So I know it's going to be okay...even if you don't know yet where I'm going to sleep. As much as I LOVE everything about Florida, I guess I can't spend my whole life running around Calle Ocho chasing people down and trying to give them Jesus cards. I actually am starting to get a bit excited about coming home, too, which I think is a good sign...even though in all reality I'll probably just sleep for the first 2 weeks.

My last transfer thus far hasn't been quite like I imagined it. In my head, we were going to have wild success tearing this place apart, baptizing everyone between the ages of 18-30 that we laid eyes on. Instead, apparently God thought it was more important to teach me a few more lessons in the time that I had left. Basically Sister Gordon and I have spent all transfer knocking on doors looking for people to teach. I definitely think one reason I was in YSA for so long on my mission is because God was trying to teach me that I can't always be in control. You literally have zero control over finding as a YSA missionary. It doesn't matter if you knock in complexes where you KNOW there are tons of YSA, you just can't control when and where you find them. In that sense, it's quite a bit different than in a normal area where you can teach basically anyone you find. We have met some amazing people recently but have had to pass all of them. However, I fully trust that God has prepared some incredible people between the ages of 18-30 who are going to be placed in our paths very, very soon. As in today. And I can't wait to meet them. :)

We had our Valentine's Day activity last went GREAT! We were a bit nervous at the beginning when no one was really there, but we had about 20 people show up and I think they all enjoyed themselves. We could see the difference, too, in branch unity afterwards which was the whole purpose! Yay! I am really starting to get to know the branch members on a more personal level and I am coming to love them all a lot!

Last week, I had one of the most amazing spiritual experiences of my life as Elder Kopischke of the Seventy came and did a mission tour. Not only did I get to hear from him during the zone conference we had, but also at MLC on Friday! He is incredible. I honestly don't think I've ever felt quite so spiritually "full" as I did after the zone conference on Wednesday. He is a great teacher and I learned so much. First off, did you know that the calling of the seventy is to be missionaries? Yes! Except they get to be missionaries for like 20 years! And they have transfer meetings and receiving divine callings to different "areas" (of the WORLD!) just like we do! I wish you could have seen my eyes light up as he was explaining it. I turned to Sister Gordon and said, "Sister....I NEED TO MARRY A MAN WHO WILL BE A SEVENTY. IT'S LIKE BEING A MISSIONARY FOREVER!" (Of course I am a #missionaryforlife #nomatterwhat. But cool would that be?!?!) 
I loved everything he talked about, but I think the most important thing for me was when he talked about doing all we can and then being satisfied. He told us to stop being so hard on ourselves and to ask the Lord to be able to feel His acceptance and approval. I honestly felt a huge burden lifted as he talked. I have never been one who is very good at being satisfied, even when I have done my best. So this is something I am striving to be better at--seeking the Lord's acceptance and then allowing myself to be satisfied. He also talked about comparison, something else I've always struggled with. He said, "Don't compare yourself. Instead, CONNECT yourself to Jesus Christ & your Heavenly Father." I loved that as well! 

Anyways, I know I'm at the point in my mission where people start to just say, "Oh, she's coming home soon, whatever." But I truly believe that some of the most important people I am supposed to meet in my mission could show up in these last 2 weeks. So I would ask that you continue to pray that God will send angels to assist us in the work and that He will put these people in our path!

I love you all!
hermana dougal

Letter #68: "Because when you follow Him, you ARE a success"

We are continuing to see miracles as the work hastens with receiving member referrals! Yay! Tonight is the FHE activity that we are putting on. We are excited and hope that it goes well. Yesterday at church, a lot of people were talking about and we could sense some excitement about it as well. Perfect! We are praying that this activity can be the start of many more and that this can lead to greater branch unity.

Despite all the miracles, we have felt really frustrated also. We are meeting and teaching people who are incredibly solid, yet they are not coming to church!! It is so sad that "flakiness" has become a characteristic of this generation. I have been dealing with flaky 19- and 20-year-olds for 7 transfers of my mission now [yes, that IS how long I have been a YSA missionary], but yet I still continue to trust each one of them and it still breaks my heart every time they flake out on us! We felt like we had been doing everything we could to get people to church, including introducing them to their rides ahead of time, but apparently (and obviously) we can always do more. We have come up with some specific plans to make sure that this week, our investigators will be there!

I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father who cares enough to send me guidance and answers right when I need them. Even though yesterday at church the fact that no one came and a pointed comment from our branch president had left us feeling pretty down, the relief society lesson we had was completely tailored to me and definitely helped lift me up again. I had jokingly told Sister Gordon after sacrament, "That's it, I'm done! No one came! Get me a plane ticket, I'm going home 3 weeks early!" Of course, our lesson in relief society was all about ENDURING TO THE END. The teacher even said during the lesson, "We can't ever just throw up our hands and say, 'That's it, I'm done!'" I found myself chuckling to myself. Thank you, spiritual chastisement. We also focused in the lesson on learning to turn our burdens and trials over to the Savior. As we discussed that, it hit me very hard that this is one of the final and most important lessons that my Heavenly Father wants me to learn on my mission and it is something He has been trying to teach me for a long time. I have never been very good at this, as I always feel like I can just carry everything and handle everything myself. So now I am really focused on learning better how to give things over to Jesus Christ.
Plus, church didn't end up being a total of our members brought a friend, and we set up a return appointment to see him tomorrow! Yay! #memberreferral #hasteningthework

I have also been struggling recently with COMPARISON. Not just comparing myself to others, but even comparing myself to MYSELF and to the past success that I have had in my mission. God has been talking to me a LOT lately about comparison, and how it is "the thief of joy." I have always had a hard time with this and have been really competitive my whole life. Today my Dad sent me an email that couldn't have been more timely. Just a snippet from it:

"...I'm talking about those who compare themselves with others and, in the process, encounter futility and depression.

I'm talking about those nights that you cry yourself to sleep, wondering why you're even there in the mission field in the first place. Wondering if you really can make a difference.  Wondering if He hears you in the stillness of the night.

Although you don't know me, take me at my word when I say:  He does.

You see, you bring a unique, individual gift to the mission and the people you serve.  It is your uniqueness, your combination of individual gifts--not shoehorning yourself into someone else's expectations--that makes the difference and makes the magic happen.

You need to know that if you will give it your best, the Lord will make up for what you lack...

The Lord will definitely use you in your imperfections.  He has a long, distinguished history of using truly imperfect people to bring about truly miraculous, awe-inspiring results.  On that note, elders and sisters should be asking the Lord where to go, where to turn, what to say and what to do.  Ask to be led to those that are looking for truth.  He is the ONLY one who will guide the way.  He always has, and always will.

Because when you follow Him, you ARE a success...

After all, even Peter sank into the water when he left the boat to approach the Savior.

Some see Peter's sinking as a sign of failure.

But he was the only one who left the boat in the first place."

Ah, yes. Sometimes it's hard to remember that I AM a success just for being here and for doing this work, even when the outward results aren't the ones that I want.

But, on that note, yesterday Vicki got baptized! So technically she is the other sisters' investigator (we have 2 sets of sisters in our branch). But for some reason, Vicki adopted me as her "favorite missionary sister" when she met me at church a couple weeks ago. This week, I went on an exchange to their area and we visited Vicki for her baptismal interview. She was THRILLED that I came! In her prayer at the end, she said, "Thank you for sending Sister Dougal, she is the BEST! I love her so much. Oh...and Sister S too." And then at her baptism yesterday, her whole family came and she was like, "Mom, mom, this is Sister Dougal!! You have to meet her!" Oh my, I adore her. She is absolutely precious. She already gave me all of her contact info so I can write her when I leave. We are writing a musical/movie script together about missionaries. haha.

Well, life is still fabulous. Sorry I haven't sent pictures in ages....will be sending a boatload today. Also, Elder Austin....seriously man, take care of that tooth. The last thing I want is for you to get some weird central American infection in your mouth.

Love you all!

Sister Dougal

Calle Ocho, her "most favorite street in the world"

"These were some of my emotions when I got "the last letter" from President. Basically I was not happy."

Vicki's baptism

Letter #67: Catching Fire

I am so grateful for the chance to be on my mission during this great hastening of the work! WOW is it incredible to watch as the fire of missionary work starts to spread to the members. This last week we were able to have 12 different members come teach with us. Some of the lessons ended up falling through, but the fact that we had that many members of our branch out with us is a HUGE miracle. This definitely has never happened while I've been in the branch, and I have a hunch that it may have been the first time ever happening here. God is truly hastening his work and the members are beginning to recognize that He requires them to be a part of it! We also received member referrals this week, which again is a really huge step in the right direction for the work in this area! I am grateful that I had the opportunity to stay in this branch for a little bit longer because now I have the chance to really leave it better than I found it. Sister Gordon and I have a lot of plans to help strengthen the branch, including an activity we are putting on next week to increase branch unity and encourage branch missionary work.

I had an AMAZING opportunity to watch a regional mission leadership broadcast from Elder Perry and some other members of the seventy this last weekend. OH MY GOODNESS, I wish it had been broadcast to the entire world. It was hands-down the most AMAZING broadcast I have ever experienced. Elder Perry was SO wild and SO energetic. You would never guess he was 92 years old. He had us practically rolling on the floor laughing. But then he shared some incredible experiences, such as when President Kimball received the revelation on the priesthood for every worthy man. As he was talking about that, I literally couldn't move because the Spirit was so strong. WOW, it was awesome. And of course, like everything else recently, it was COMPLETELY FOCUSED ON MISSIONARY WORK!!! I went out of that broadcast pumped on life and wanting to baptize the whole world.

I have been reading near the end of the Book of Mormon recently and it is so sad to me to watch the decline of the Nephite civilization. In 3 Nephi, they are visited by Christ and for hundreds of years afterwards, they experience such great peace and joy that their society has no contention. Yet within only a couple hundred years after that, their entire civilization falls into destruction. Mormon explains that the sin that ultimately brought about their downfall, which seems like such a small thing, is PRIDE. In 4 Nephi 1:24, he informs the reader that the people began to have a teeny bit of pride enter into their hearts; they started wearing "costly apparel" and "fine things of the world." And from that point on, everything that they had worked so hard to build up began to fall. That tiny 5-letter word brought about the destruction of the great Nephite nation. Similarly, that same pride exists today and brings pain and destruction into so many families and so many people's lives. I've seen that over and over again on my mission. As I reflected on this, I recognized one reason why it was so important for Heavenly Father to send me on a mission: to teach me humility and to help me be able to grasp an eternal perspective. I have always been a person who loves the things of the world, such as nice clothes and nice things and the praise of the world. I know I will have to work hard when I go home to make sure that I am always focusing on things with eternal consequences rather than trivial, worldly things. But I am so grateful for the chance I've had to learn and see firsthand what brings true joy--and it does NOT come when we get caught up in the pride of the world.

I am looking forward to many miracles this month. In preparation for the coming of the Ft. Lauderdale temple, my vision for this transfer/month is to make my life a temple--holy, pure, and productive. I am really working hard to cut out any thoughts, words, or actions that are not holy, pure, or productive and that do not reflect my Savior Jesus Christ.

Well, that's about it for today. Love you all! 

Sister Dougal

PS- Also, just a few random things about me nowadays:
--I drive like a maniac. I worry about bringing the bad driving habits I acquired in Miami to little ol' Battle Ground, WA.
--I can't eat at Subway anymore without buying cookies
--I don't like candy anymore.
--My favorite scripture is now Moroni 10:32.
--I am still obsessed with David Archuleta. :)

Letter #66: Hastening the Work!

A week or so ago, President Anderson gave us a list of scriptures on faith and asked us to study one each day during our personal study. I've loved reading them each day! It has been so interesting to me on my mission to find out how much I thought I knew about the gospel, only to find out that each gospel principle has such a deeper level to it. Heavenly Father has definitely helped me to see this as I have been humbled again and again and am required to learn things on a deeper level. These last couple transfers I have wanted to focus on strengthening my faith, and these scriptures have been a great way of helping me learn and grow. I love being able to look at faith from so many different angles. I have learned a lot about how faith is choosing God over the world and trusting God and His promises. One of my favorite studies that I did was when I studied James 2:41-26 and Ephesians 2:8-9 together. Separately, they appear almost contradictory, but I was able to reconcile them in a way that taught me a lot about how our faith and the power of the Atonement work together to bring us salvation.

We saw a lot of miracles this last week. Former investigators re-surfaced, branch members started volunteering to come out teaching with us, and we are meeting some truly amazing people. Yesterday, we actually had different members come teaching with us! I don't know if I've ever brought out 4 different members in one day, especially not in a YSA branch....and especially not in THIS particular YSA branch. Things are changing for the better! It has been a slow process, but I am grateful for the chance that I have to continue to help strengthen and change Snapper Creek. I am so thrilled about the stake and their amazing plans to hasten the work here in South Miami. This weekend, ALL of Florida had stake conference with a broadcast from Orlando featuring some of the general authorities, including Elder Nelson. They focused a lot on hastening the work, especially in our sessions on Saturday that were just amongst our stake. IT WAS AWESOME. On Saturday, we had the chance to be a part of the stake's ward mission leader training and there are truly incredible things happening here. There are some awesome things happening in South Miami. Our stake presidency is really pushing the importance for members to get more involved with the missionary work. At the session on Saturday night (which was actually an adult AND youth session), they actually had missionary ROLE PLAYS so that the members could see what we do and get involved! SUPER COOL.

And, because this stake ROCKS and the work is really beginning to hasten, I am grateful for the chance that I have to be here for my last transfer! Sister Gordon and I will be staying together. So, it looks like mi hija will be killing her "mom". Pretty crazy.
It's definitely a weird feeling. Your whole mission, you always wonder "where will I serve? Who will be my companions?" And after they announced on the transfer call last night that we were both staying, it hit me.....this is it. There won't be anymore areas. There won't be anymore companions. This is it. I am happy, because I love this area and I especially LOVE YSA. I will have been in YSA for 7 transfers of my mission....more than half! I guess it's true, I was called to the "Florida Ft. Lauderdale Young Single Adult Mission." #YSA4life.
But even though I'm happy, it's still a really weird feeling. I know this transfer is going to fly by, especially because it's only a 5-week transfer rather than a 6-week. (Can you believe that? I'm totes getting gipped. Haha. Both my 1st transfer and my last transfers in the mission are 5-weekers.) we go. I am ready to have the most fabulous 5 weeks of my life! I have plenty of time!

This Thursday, we were in an apartment complex harvesting when we saw a YSA girl walking through the parking lot. We of course went to talk to her, offered to say a prayer, and had a powerful experience with her. Nicole was crying after the prayer and talked about how much she needed it and how good she felt afterwards. We invited her to baptism and after some hesitation, she accepted. She told us that she had actually gone to "Mormon church" in high school and had really liked it. She didn't have time to meet on Friday, so we set up an appointment for Saturday. That day when we texted her to confirm that we could still come see her, she told us that she didn't want to meet up because she just didn't feel like "she was ready for this." We were super heartbroken, because she was awesome! Anyways, we were at a DIFFERENT apartment complex following up on a potential that day and all of a sudden, who do we see walking towards us but NICOLE! She was surprised to see us, but she knew it wasn't a coincidence and we testified to her that God had sent us to her again. She had to run, because she was late for work, but not even 5 minutes later we got a text from her saying how happy she felt when she saw us and that she wanted to meet up with us. We met with her yesterday and she is AWESOME! She said she's been feeling great since meeting us and that she couldn't stop thinking about the prayer we left with her. She is now preparing for baptism because she knows that this is what she's been searching for!

Okay, so I'm not going to lie.....I got "the last letter" from President on Saturday and I freaked out. At the beginning of your last transfer, he always sends out this letter that basically tells you to keep working hard and to give it your all until the end. We came home, got the mail, and as soon as I pulled it out I KNEW what it was. And I literally had a little freak-out of the "yelling-and-shouting-like-a-crazy-person" variety. I think Sister G was unsure about what to do with me. I just do NOT feel like this is real! I do not want to go home. I just can't!! I can't be a normal person again...nor do I want to! THIS is my life. I will be a Florida Ft. Lauderdale missionary forever!!!!!! They may have to put me on that plane kicking and screaming.

Anyways, that's how I'm feeling most recently. I'm glad I still get 5 more weeks to run around in Little Havanna. 

Con amor,
la (loco) Hermana Dougal