Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Oh Boy... Good Times At the Ranch!

A happy missionary!
Taking pics to send to Sis Hokafonu's sister as a thank you for sending them matching shirts.

There's a crazy funny lady, Sis. T, in our ward. She's from Panama (I mentioned her last week) and is just amazing and has been helping us out so much this week. On Sunday she brought her neighbor to church which was awesome! We were able to meet with him this Saturday and give him a lesson with Sister T on Heavenly Father, families, and a little bit on the Book of Mormon. We invited him to read and pray about 1 Nephi 11, which is all about the Savior. We really wanted to establish that everything we do in our church is centered on Jesus Christ and how we can come closer to him. He's Catholic and has a strong relationship with God, which is really cool! We are going to see him again next week which is super exciting! Sister T also told us she wanted us to meet this lady and her 5 kids that she gave a ride to the other day. Sister T is very open about her beliefs to everyone she talks to and always invites #goldenmember, she talked to the lady who said she was looking for a church! We went over and she wasn't there, but we did get in contact with two of her kids and her boyfriend who was very nice. Hopefully we'll set up a time to meet them next week! 

The ranch was... a hoot! Boy let me tell ya, them horses know how to poop! Basically we cleaned out the horse stalls, which consisted of a lot of poop scooping! Then we stacked hay down in the lower half of the ranch. Let me try and explain this situation to you... So there is an upper level of the barn that has all of the hay stacked up like 30-40 ft high, then below that is where the horses are all in their stalls. But there is a little hatch that they put the hay down so they don't have to walk up and around the barn to bring it to the horses. So D (a christian missionary we work with) was up at the top of the hay stack and was throwing those 50lb suckers of hay down this little hatch door. They would come zooming down and Sister Hokafonu and I would have to run so we didn't get nailed by one. It was pretty funny though we would take turns each time D said, "In coming" and then it came crashing to the floor and we would run and stack it then run away! It was quite the party and I got hay in places I didn't know hay could go! Oh boy... good times at the ranch!

This Sunday was awesome. After church we went to have lunch with the less-active family we always eat with on Sundays! We had the Elders quorum president come with us which went really well. He was really bold with them, but in a loving way and basically just said, you guys need to be at church. The dad has a hard time with church because he hears voices and it intensifies when he's at church. But we were each able to testify of the power of the sacrament and how important that is. The spirit was so strong and I hope we'll start seeing some progress with that amazing family:)

We went to a Why I Believe fireside down in Pittsburgh on Sunday night! Seriously I have the most AMAZING Mission President. We first heard from his wife, Sister Johnson, who I just adore. My goal in life is to be as happy and humble as that woman one day! She bore the strongest testimony of the gospel I think I'd ever  heard, there is no way you could deny the spirit I felt as I listened to her. President Johnson also bore witness of the truthfulness of the gospel and how important it is to know why we believe something. We heard amazing songs by very talented missionaries and watched a few mormon messages. Along with my favorite one, Because of Him. It always brings tears to my eyes to watch that video. All the missionaries sang the opening and closing songs, and we closed with the Sisters in Zion and Armies of Helamen medley. There is power in music. I feel the spirit touch my heart every time we sing that together as missionaries! 

I Love you all an hope you're doing well! I'm always praying for you:)

Love - Sister Douglas❤

Driving into Pittsburgh for the Sunday night Fireside. Check out the famous bridges!

Look who she found in Pittsburgh!! MTC Companions--Forever Friends. 

Ready for church.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Week 5--Half Way Through Training

Week 5 :)
So basically this week was amazing! It went by so fast!!! I can't
believe I'm on my half way mark for training:) We had our last
district meeting with Elder H and during the meeting my mission president
called us out one at a time for our interviews! It was so good to
see President Johnson and his wife this week, they can always
brighten your day! I love President Johnson and he always knows just
what to say. He works so hard to help us missionaries and truly loves
the Lord.

We also had Zone training and a zone activity this Wednesday which was
really good! We talked about The Book of Mormon and how important it
is in conversion. The Book of Mormon is what truly helps us come
closer to Christ and endure to the end. I have a new found love for the
 Book of Mormon and I get so excited to read from it each morning! 
I know that there is true peace and joy that can only come through the 
Book of Mormon.

We contacted our referral from Church Headquarters, the one that we
brought a Book of Mormon to. We were pretty nervous about what he would say,
but when we called he was super nice and said that he read the whole
first chapter of the Book of Nephi!! Oh man I was so happy to hear
that he had actually started reading! He said he wanted to read the
rest of it before he met with us to discuss it, but that is totally fine
by me, if he's actually reading. I mean the scriptures can teach him a
hundred times better than I can:)  I just hope and pray he'll keep

We were able to finally have a lesson with one of our less-active ward members
that we've been trying to get in contact with for week s and it went
so well. The spirit was so strong and I really grew to have a true
love for this woman. I know Heavenly Father is aware of each one of us
and the things that we are going through. He sure is aware of Sister
B:) She said she wants to come to church, but she is worried that
people will judge her for smelling so strongly of smoke. I told her
that church is like a hospital and that if someone is sick at the
hospital and coughs, we don't ask why they coughed, because you're at
a hospital where people need help. It's the same thing with the church.
We are all spiritually sick and seeking help. I know there will always
be people who judge, but maybe that is the "sickness" they are working
on. We talked a little about the talk, Latter-day Saints Keep on
Trying by Elder Dale Renlund. It's such a great talk and if you
haven't read it, you totes should :)

The stake has put together an addiction recovery program and they have
two service missionaries who run it, but they also wanted all of the
missionaries in the area to attend as well. It was such an incredible
experience to see how the Atonement can truly heal each of us. I loved
hearing the experiences of the people there and how they had such a
strong desire to change. It reminded me of that talk, Latter-day
Saints Keep on Trying and where he quotes President Thomas S. Monson
by saying, “One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying
again, for no failure ever need be final.” It's so true and as we
really turn to our Savior I know he can help us overcome anything!

Service at the ranch was brutal... once again! Sister Hokafonu said
they didn't used to do such labor intensive work until the new elders
and I got there. The lady that runs the ranch probably took one
look at me and thought, "Oh man, this girl needs some work" haha!
Elder R was really sick so the elders couldn't come with us...they
only missed sweating out in the sun while shoveling rocks into this
huge crack by the barn wall! Let's just say I was really tired when we were
done with that project ;)

We had a pretty busy Sunday and had a few appointments with some of
the less-active members we've been working a lot with. Sister R
is turning 86 tomorrow, which she's not too happy about... She's a
funny lady, yesterday was the first time we were able to stay on topic
for about half the visit, and I think she's actually considering on
coming to church after not having gone for like 35 years! It's a
serious goal of mine to get this lady back to church! I know it will
bless her life so much and she won't feel so lonely all the time if
she knew more of the ward members. The hard thing is that we think she
might have early dismissal because she's having a really hard time
remembering anything. But she will go... One of these days :)

Well I hope yins have a great week! Thank you for all of the prayers,
I truly can feel strength from your prayers and support!

Lots of love- Sister Douglas;)

We made Elder Hunsaker a cake out of Tastykakes doughnuts that he loves. Haha
good times! It's going to be so weird without him here! 

Scripture Power :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Great Companions Think Alike

We woke up and got dressed and went out of the house basically dressed
the same...great companions think alike:)

On Tuesday this week I made banana bread and we brought it to some of the less-active members of the ward. Only one of them answered the door, but we left the rest on their door steps. The next day one sister called us and said she was grateful for the bread and that she was going to come to church this Sunday, and she totally did! That was really cool, because we've been trying to get in contact with her FOREVER, and I was finally able to meet her at church which was great. 
We also got a sweet referral from a member in the ward who's house we were at for dinner. She said she knows this really neat lady who is pretty interested in the gospel and they have talked about the church a lot. We invited her to get in contact with her friend to set up a time when we could meet with her and her friend for the missionary discussions. I really hope and pray she actually does. I know it can be scary, but it's so true, our only success really does come through the members.

More of the matching day photo shoot.
Friday night we got really sad news though. The amazing assistant ward mission leader passed away suddenly. We were so shocked that we had to listen to the message twice. He was such an incredible man and was probably only in his early 70's if that. In fact we had just talked to him the other day about helping re-activate his son who just moved into the ward. I feel so privileged to have gotten to know that great great man, Brother R, for a few weeks. I know it was inspired that I was able to come here and be with him for a short time. In ward counsel we talked about some really incredible things about him. The previous ward mission leader told us that he had come to him with a few things he felt needed to be worked on, and said "if I'm not at ward counsel next week share it"... He wanted us to know that we needed to find a way to integrate missionary work and family history work together, to help a Spanish man in the ward be able to have the same privileges of learning the gospel and not let language ever be a barrier. And to work on bringing the other ministers in the area together and having the LDS church be part of their group. The guy that told us all of this stuff also said that Brother R saw Lehi's vision only about a week ago and this man was privileged to hear of that experience before his passing. This same man also was interviewing people about the history of Cranberry and was able to interview Brother R a week before he died and was then able to share that interview with his testimony in it to his family. It's crazy though, because it's like he knew his time was coming and that he had certain things he was working  so hard on before he passed away. It's incredible to think that he is now with his wife who passed away about two years ago. 
The funeral is going to be big though, because of all the lives he was able to touch. I will be forever grateful that I was able to get to know him for such a short time and feel of his sweet grandpa spirit:)

Saturday we went to the ranch like usual and it was really hard work. There is this huge indoor arena for the horses and they wanted to put sand on the floor to cushion the horses joints as they walk/run around. So I thought ya this will be fun and easy.... boy was I wrong. The arena is about the size of a small soccer/lax field and we were spreading the sand over one half of it and had to make it four inches deep. Dan, one of the missionaries from another church, drove a huge thing of sand in with a tractor and we spread it out in that area. It took five hours and after that I could have just laid down forever. I was tired and really sore. But it was good because I have like no muscle so by the time I'm done working on the ranch I'll be super buff:) haha 

We went to a ward member's house for lunch on Sunday and they taught us
how to make sushi!! It was really fun, and really gooood :)
Sunday was such a great day! President Johnson and his wife came and they always make my day better! The talks were also really good and really stuck out to me. Sister M spoke about obedience and how when Jesus Christ was suffering on the cross He prayed and said, "if it be thy will let this cup pass from me" and Heavenly Father, being the Loving father He is, let him exercise his agency, but he didn't leave him comfortless. He sent an angel to comfort him. I really do know the Lord sends me angels daily to help me and comfort me.  Sister M's son, who just got back from his mission, talked about patience and said a quote from Preach My Gospel that I love, it says,  "Patience is the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. It is the ability to do God's will and accept His timing. When you are patient, you hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully. Patience is related to hope and faith- you must wait for the Lord's promised blessings to be fulfilled." That really stuck out to me. I know I need to have more patience in the Lord's will and instead of asking him to take hard things away from me, ask Him to strengthen me as I exercise faith in Him.

Well I love you all and I hope you are happy and well!
I pray for you always❤
Love Sister Douglas aka Raquel

More of sushi making Sunday! Hoping she remembers how to make it when she gets home. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

One Month Down!

This week I met a 100 year old lady, Sister D, who was the cutest lady ever. She has dementia and lives in a nursing home. She just smiled the whole time we talked to her and she thought our iPads were the coolest thing ever. We showed her the message of the restoration video and she would just keep saying, "Oh that's nice!" It was really cool to think of how much this cute little lady had done in her life and I feel so privileged to get to visit her.

This Thursday at the Senior Center it got pretty crazy. All of the old people were really mad at the food we were handing out and asked us for different food, but we didn't have anything else to give them. Haha they got all worked up about the unripe cantaloupe! I felt really bad though because this lady was going around asking people how they liked their food and trying to get them to sign a paper to get the menu changed for the future but she tripped on a bag and fell pretty hard. We had to call an ambulance to come and get her. It was really bad and hopefully she's ok. The lady that was standing by her was mad though because she almost knocked her over when she fell... dude it was crazy! 

Friday we helped the elders move a new family into the neighborhood then we all went and visited some families in the ward. It was such a good experience to be able to get to know them better and share a spiritual thought. Each thought we gave we would just go by the spirit and it ended up being exactly what each family needed to hear. The bishop has asked that we really get to know the members, because as we build good relationships with them, they'll be able to trust us more and be more willing to work with us on finding new people  to teach.

We met with this amazing woman, Sister E, who is a convert to the church and has been through some really crazy things in her life. But she has one of the strongest testimonies I've ever heard. She is planning on going on a cross country trip to all the temples in Utah (and some on the way) to do temple work for her ancestors. She has about 40 names she's going to try and do all the work for. She's probably in her 60's though and has some medical issues with her eyes; she's worried about traveling that far by herself and seeing at night. So she asked the elders if they could give her a blessing. She has incredible faith and really strengthened my testimony. She asked both of the elders how their faith was and then determined that she wanted Elder H to give the blessing. It was such a beautiful blessing and the spirit was so strong as we sat out on her deck on the beautiful Pennsylvania night. During the blessing my companion and I were just crying because we felt the spirit so strong. It was such a testimony builder to me to see the power of the priesthood and how incredibly amazing it is that the Lord trusts these 18-20 year old young men with that incredible power of God.

After this experience I was able to read this amazing talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks called The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood. It really explains how important and essential the priesthood is to everything in our lives. Without the priesthood we would have nothing. The world was created by the power of the priesthood and everything that is on it, ahhh isn't that the coolest thing ever! We are so lucky to have access to the priesthood in our church and it honestly is such a blessing!

Workin' the ranch!
Saturday was a pretty crazy day!!! We went to the  youth ranch and basically there was hay everywhere!!! We had to stack three huge trailer loads of hay into the barn for the winter... Oh man it took five hours and we were sweaty and had hay er where! We found a dead mouse and this huge black dead snake. Man it was NASTY!!! I seriously was speechless and thought I was going to die. It felt really good to work so hard and then see so much progress. Missionary work takes a lot of hard work and results come really slow, so it was a really nice change! 

I love you all and think about you all the time!
Sending prayers your way:)

Love Sister Douglas

With the elders and her companion at the ranch. We spent hours and hours and hours looking for dresses and skirts for this girl's mission. Who knew we could have shopped at CalRanch??

Bean Boot!!