Monday, September 28, 2015

Bite, Black Boxes, BBQ

In the beautiful Pennsylvania forest. 

Only one more week of Training! (thumbs up)
Between the dog bite, zone conference, black boxes, German food, and
the Elders quorum bbq I would say it was a pretty fresh week!!!

Ok so back it up! We went and visited our little 96 year old friend on
Tuesday! We were outside playing this German game called rummy cube
with her and our other dear friend Sister Swazuk... who's a total
Pittsburghian! She has a legit Pittsburghies accent, oh boy that lady
can't say one thing without making me burst out laughing! :) Anyway, we
were getting whooped at this game by 96 year old Sister McCarty, which always feels great, haha! I was petting her dog Bear and he turned for
me to scratch his tummy so I did like any Christ-like missionary
would... then Bear got mad because he had a sore on him or something
and went all crazy! He barked at me and bit my arm....dingus dog! It wasn't bad, and it didn't puncture the skin, but it was all red and
sore! Her cute little care taker, Freddy was so upset and felt really
bad, but it wasn't a big deal. Haha sad to say, but I doubt that will
be the last time that happens, EVERYONE in Pennsylvania has dogs!!

Zone conference was, as Sister Hokafonu would say, A1! Translation: A1
= AWESOME First we had training from President Johnson, who
focused his remarks on how keeping the Sabbath day holy can build our
faith in Christ. He talked about how as we as members strive to keep
the Sabbath day holy, that faith will increase across the world. We
watched a few clips from Elders Holland and Ballard from the mission
president training last year. In the message by Elder Holland he
talked about how the sacrament is the most repeated ordinance we do
Got a quick pic at zone training with the AP's because Elder Birrell
is going home next transfer. These two are incredible missionaries
as members for ourselves. We only get to be baptized and go through
the temple for ourselves once, but in taking the sacrament each week
we are renewing those covenants individually. He also talked about how
the Sabbath day shouldn't be a list of do's and don'ts, but rather to
think of what sign we want to give God on the Sabbath. My mission
president asked us that question and it has really made me think
differently about the sabbath and how I worship. So what sign are you
choosing to give God?! We were all asked to come to conference with a
3 minute talk prepared on this topic. I had totally forgotten about it
so I stayed up writing it the night before... apostate, I know! But
I'm grateful I did because I got called on to give a talk. The focus
of my talk was on how we were given the Sabbath day "in remembrance of
Jesus Christ"

Then the not so fun part of zone conference came with the loathed
black boxes...nooooo!!! Basically we now have these gps speed tracking
devices in all the mission cars that talk to you and tell you to slow
down and such. I'm not a fan. But I know they're just trying to keep
us safe. These things are crazy though, we have to log in as the
driver and then it records our driving and gives our President a
report each transfer. My poor Californian companion’s crazy driving has
been put to an abrupt halt, she's not too excited about the whole
thing haha!!
We found this little nature walk by the really cute Cranberry park. We
went for a walk before we taught Jerry, because we were so tired! I
love how pretty it is here! Always brightens my day:)

That night we went to a members home for a really nice German dinner!
Sister von Rintelen went on a mission to Germany where she met her
husband, who is German and has a sweet accent! It was fun to talk
about his life back in Germany and have all of this traditional German
food that was really different and good!

There was an Elders quorum bbq that we helped put on Friday night! It
was such a good turn out and a ton of people brought their families
and many members brought friends and their families too! This ward is
seriously stellar, they're really trying their best to help in this
great work:)

Well just another great week in Cranberry, PA! I can't wait for
General Conference this weekend and to get three new Apostles!!!!!!!
There are good things to come my friends:)

I hope all is well and I keep all of you in my prayers.

Lots of Love -Sister Douglas

More beautiful PA.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Promise

The whole western side of the Pittsburgh mission.
had a really great week!!!It's starting to get colder here, but it's still pretty nice. I'm kinda dreading the cold weather, because normally when the weather is nasty you just stay inside...well not missionaries! But it will be ok.

I was on an exchange this Tuesday. I stayed here in Cranberry and Sis. Hokafonu went to Franklin. It was really weird leading out the area for the first time but I was excited to take on the challenge! Sis Hokafonu will most likely get transferred October 6th...which makes me sad. She's my mama and I don't want her to leave haha! We actually got to teach a woman named Erla who was investigating a little. She's super nice and the elders had taught her the first lesson so we were going to give her a Book of Mormon and teach her the Plan of Salvation. But she is REALLY hard to teach. I don't think mentally she is all there so it was really hard to understand her beliefs and see where she is coming from. We would ask her a question like, "Where do you think your relationship with God is?" and she would go off about the Presbyterian church and where it was and how they always went as kids... so she never would answer our question. In the end she wasn't really interested and we had to leave.

Thursday was AWESOME! Elder Stanfill of the Seventy came and we had training with him and President Johnson with the whole western side of the mission! It was so fun to see other missionaries that I hadn't seen for a long time, like Sister Hamblin from the MTC was there and Sister Schofield! Gees I just love that girl. I feel so blessed to be able to see her so many times on the mission already! The training was really good though. We heard form Sister Johnson first who always brings such a strong spirit into any meeting she speaks at. She just radiates the light of Christ. Then President talked a lot about the standards of baptism and how we need to focus on retention and really "think with the end in mind" which ultimately is the temple. We can just baptize these people and say, ok have a good life, enjoy the holy ghost. But it's as we keep progressing that we help people find continued peace and joy in their lives. 

Elder Stanfill was amazing. He's actually going to be speaking in conference in the Saturday session, so watch and you'll see what I mean! Having a general authority in our mission really changed my perspective. He was just so loving and powerful with all of his remarks. He's actually the newest general authority, so it was amazing to see his humility and how he wasn't afraid to admit that even though he is a general authority he isn't perfect and he doesn't know everything. He talked to us about member retention as well and showed us how the scriptures teach us exactly what to do as missionaries and how we know we will have succeeded! He served his mission in France at the same time President Johnson was serving in France, just in different areas. He talked about how hard his mission was. This kinda caught me by surprise, I guess I just thought that general authorities would have "perfect" missions. But that just goes to show how real the general authorities are. He really brought me comfort when he was telling us to just do the things Heavenly Father asks and He'll take care of the rest. He talked about how as missionaries we are too hard on ourselves and how we need to give ourselves a break sometimes. The spirit in that meeting was just so strong and I knew that he was an ordained man of God and a witness of his son, Jesus Christ. He promised us an incredible blessing that brought tears to my eyes. He said, "I can promise you that when you return to our Father in Heaven you will be greeted by thousands or millions of people who will thank you for helping them get back to our Heavenly Father". What an incredible promise, and I know that's true for all those who aid in this missionary work and family history work. He said there is no other thing we could be doing in our lives here on earth or in our lives to come in the eternities that will be of greater importance. That’s how important this work is and I'm forever grateful I get to be a part of it!

After our training we had a lesson with Jerry that went really well. We had to be quick because he got there really late and we had a dinner appointment to get to. We wanted to go over the Gospel of Jesus Christ with him just to make sure he understood everything. So when we started talking about faith in Jesus Christ we had asked him to read Alma 32 on faith and how it's like a little seed. But he hadn't read and that opened an opportunity for us to ask if this was something that he really wanted to find was true. He said it wouldn't hurt to know, which I thought was incredible. What a huge step of faith. With Jerry, I really do see his desire he just needs to act on it! So hopefully we'll start seeing more progress with him. He's so funny though and always asks if we're staying out of trouble and if we have boyfriends we go see hahahahha! We explain to him that we don't do that kind of stuff on our missions and he said he would be our secret boyfriend... oh Jerry what are we going to do with you!?

Saturday was crazy and we spent the WHOLE day at the church! I think I've been in this church building more than I've been at our apartment! We had two stake activities that we were helping with. Sisterfest with the Relief Society and a Back to School game night for the youth. They both went really well and it was a really long day. But I'm glad we were able to help out and participate in both of them. All of the sister missionaries from our zone were at Sisterfest so it was really fun to talk to them for a bit. Also one of our less-actives came and it was soooo good to have her there!!! It's too bad though, because she's actually moving to Idaho in a month:( But I think it will be really good for them!!!

I'm doing really good though. I'm super happy I'm almost done with training and I feel like I'm way more comfortable with everything! I'm really excited for Conference, Halloween and the leaves to change colors, I've heard it's absolutely beautiful! I'll be sending a ton of pictures:) 
LOVE LOVE LOVE Sis Douglas❤❤❤

Gees I love this girl!

Comps for just a little longer.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Things Are Good In the Cranberry Hood

 Desperately using Starbucks wifi !!! I love you mom:)
Last Sunday we had a lesson in Relief Society that was exactly what I needed to hear! It was based on the General Conference talk from October 1976 Notwithstanding My Weakness by Neal A Maxwell. The bishops wife taught the lesson and she actually reminds me a lot of you! It's a really good talk and the steps that he suggests in it really helped me change my perspective on myself. She told us about another talk that she sent to her son in Ecuador that's really good. It’s a BYU devotional by Sister Holland called Be Renewed in the Spirit of Your Mind. I loved this talk, you should totally read it! I'm really trying to do some of the things that these talks talked about on helping build self confidence. Satan wants me to feel bad about myself and feel inadequate. So I'm trying my best to put all of my trust in the Lord! I know Heavenly Father is real, I know He loves me, and I know he'll help me with any command He asks of me!

Not much happened this week. We had all of these appointments with our less actives and Jerry but they all fell through. So we worked on entering records into the iPad. I found all of these old teaching records and I asked Sis. Hokafonu what they were and she said we didn't need them. But then I started reading them and I think we need to contact these people because they were once interested in the church. People change! The Lord's timing is so important! We did go to the ranch and stacked a ton of hay! Yay... There was hay up my nose. But it was pretty fun! Oh and we helped with a mission prep class that went really well! It was crazy to be the missionary there teaching because I still feel like I need to be the one sitting in that class. This week on Thursday we are having a member of the seventy come and that should be really cool, then we have Zone Conference the next week! So these next few weeks will go by quickly!

But ya, things are good in the Cranberry Hood! There's a really nice lady named Tracy that lives above us and I can't wait to convert her  ;)  Haha she's such a nice lady! 
I hope you all have a great week! :)

Love Sis Douglas aka Raquel!!!

I'm so lucky to be serving with these amazing missionaries! Each of
them have such incredible testimonies and have taught me so much. I
love my beautiful green Cranberry PA!!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Cranberry Famous!

Haha! So this random guy at the community center came up to sister
Hokafonu and I and asked if he could get our opinion on Michael Vick
being in the Steelers... Well I just thought, this is the first time
someone has ever come up to us to talk. So I had no clue who this dude
was and didn't think he'd use my response...I was just talking to him
so I could give him a pass along card, which I did. Haha! All the old
people that get the newspaper around here, the peeps at the
senior center, were saying, "we saw you in the paper" and we had no
clue what they were talking about! Haha! Check this out. Oh boy, they
didn't even write what Sis. Hokafonu said, they spelled her name wrong, and said
she was from Utah!

(excerpts from her letter Sept. 6, 2015)
We had a funny experience this week with a referral from church 
headquarters named Althea who wanted a Book of Mormon. We
called and didn’t get an answer so we took an adventure out to the booms of
PA. Seriously, we were just about as backwoodsie as you can get on
dirt roads with these tent things... Some weird stuff. We got to a sign that said no 
trespassing, and I figured that is was probably a legit don't trespass sign. So
we tried turning our huge Ford Fusion around on this tiny road that
had a drop off on one side. Imagine us doing the 17 point turn thing when a lady 
came out and said to pull up to her drive way and turn around, so we did. We asked if
she knew an Althea, and she said, "Yes that's me.... What do you want?”
Seriously, I feel like such a creep being a missionary sometimes! We
told her we had been notified that she wanted a Book of Mormon. She
said, “Oh ya, I've been looking for a church to go to.” She told us she
wanted to find the church that taught the things Jesus Christ taught
when he was here on earth.....I was like, seriously, you're talking to
the right people! We gave her the Book of Mormon and she gave us
t-shirts with a cross on them that said “I Believe”. Haha super
friendly lady! We'll definitely be following up on her in a few
weeks. :)

We also had a lesson with Jerry on Saturday that went pretty well
now that I look back on it! I felt so nervous the whole time, and
felt like I was floundering. But it was so nice because we had an
amazing member with us who has had a lot of experience with teaching.
When we asked what Jerry thought when he read 2 Nephi 31 he
said he read it not only once but three times! He said it talked a lot
about baptism and that he wasn't really interested in being baptized again. My
heart sank and I felt so bad. I honestly didn't know what to say. I
testified of what I knew to be true and so did Bro. Jacob, the member
with us. He has such a powerful testimony. He shared Moroni 8 with
Jerry, which was perfect. It talks about how little children shouldn't
be baptized and how we need to be baptized how Jesus was. It was
really cool because I could tell he was really thinking about what we
had said. He asked, "So do I need to be baptized again?” That's when I
flat out said, “Yes!”

Sorry about the novel.... I just like to tell you EVERYTHING! I'll get better at condensing it!
Well I love you so much mom and thank you for fasting for me and Jerry and the people we teach, it means a lot! I miss you too sweet mom. Have a fun Labor Day. ;)

Love Sister Douglas AKA Raquel❤️

Oh man, Sister Tunion is THE BOMB! She has so much faith and knows her
purpose in life and shares it with EVERYBODY. She always invites
people to activities and church! We love this spunky lady😄

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It's The People That Make It All Worth It

This Sista loves packages from home!
I can't believe it's been 2 months!!! Some days it feels like the
mission is flying by and others it feels like it's going really slow.
It just makes me want to enjoy every day that I'm here, because it
really will go by fast. 

This week was pretty good. We found a potential from these records I
found from 2009 and we are going to teach her this Tuesday. We also
had a pretty good lesson with our potential investigator George from
the Senior Center. After we served them lunch this week he and another guy from the
Senior Center were sitting outside waiting to talk to us. I asked if
he read the scriptures we highlighted in the Book of Mormon we gave him and
he said not yet. Then he told us he would read if we read something he wanted to show us on
the internet. Haha we told him we can't go on the
internet and told him that those websites are written by people who take the
scriptures and use them out of context. The guy sitting with us
was super cool. He's catholic and I asked if he read the bible and he
said yes. Then I asked if he just took everything it said to heart
right away or if he prayed about it. He was able to also testify of
the power of prayer in understanding. Isn't that so cool! It was like
having a member present lesson, but with a catholic member present :) I
know George is seeking the truth, we just have to give it to him! Also,
I gave Bob, George's friend, a Book of Mormon! :)

On Saturday I got to teach my first actually lesson!!!! It was so
cool. It just reminded me of why I'm here. Teaching by the spirit is so important and going into
that lesson, that's all I wanted. We had our ward mission leader come with us which was great.
Members always make such a difference. We taught about the restoration and I
was worried Jerry wouldn't understand anything we would teach him, but
he did! The spirit was so strong when we talked about Joseph Smith, it
was amazing! Jerry has so much faith and knows God has a plan for him. I
invited him to be baptized at the end of the lesson and in the
moment I felt the spirit so strong tell me to ask him. When I did it
was just so cool to hear his response. He said, I'll get baptized
again if that's what God wants me

to do.”  Oh boy, can you say tender

It was actually a really good week. There are some times when it's
hard, but it's times like teaching Jerry that makes it all worth it!

Love Sister Douglas

This is us today (on our P-day) in Zelie where the elders live. It's a cute small
town with a really cool candy shop! They had soooo much
candy,I was in heaven. But now I feel sick! #selfiesfordays