Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Brave and Beautiful

This blog is written by me-the mom- today.

My heart is full today as I write this. So many emotions. I'm not going to write about the accident. I'm going to start with some miracles and some day we might get to the accident.

Raquel, her companion, Curt and I have been staying at my cousin's home just outside of Hershey, Pennsylvania. The day of the accident my cousin saw a clear picture of how she could help our family and what her family could do. So while I was throwing clothes into a suitcase she was planning. I'm not sure what I thought would happen once I got to Pennsylvania we just knew we needed to be by our daughter's side and by the side of Raquel's companion dear Sister Faamaile. Sister Faamaile's family is in Samoa and jumping on a plane is not an option. (I loved this girl before we left and love her even more now--another daughter.I pray every day that she can feel safe and completely loved in our care.) By the time we got to my cousin's house every needful thing was thought of. Everything. That clear picture of what these sisters would need was given to her--not to the overwhelmed mom and dad. Miracle number one: the location and inspiration of a dear sweet cousin.

By the time we landed in Pennsylvania my cousin had been at Raquel's bedside and already spoken with Raquel's mission president. Her offer was an answer to prayer to him as well. As you can imagine there was so much to be handled and people to love and care for because of this tragedy. We got off the plane at 11:30 pm PA time and my sweet cousin offered to take us straight to the hospital. Raquel hasn't remembered a lot but she told us later that she had stayed awake waiting for us. She remembered we were coming. I walked around the curtain and she was right there alert and anxiously waiting. Oh, what a reunion. I gave her the most tender hug a mom could give not wanting to hurt her. Plus I hadn't held her close for 7 months. In those quiet midnight hours we laughed and cried but the most precious moment came when her father was able to place his hands on his daughter's head and give her a father's priesthood blessing of comfort and healing. Miracle number two: the power of the priesthood in our lives. We found out later that many hands had been placed on her head in the hours that she was admitted into the hospital. I was told of an ER doctor that is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints called upon another member and immediately gave her a blessing as the ambulance arrived. The members in PA love their missionaries.

Which brings me to miracle number three: It's more of a multitudes of blessings that consist of one major blessing. The missionaries were transported to a hospital that wasn't in the area where they were teaching. But when the members in that area heard what had happened they were so devastated they came in great numbers to comfort these sweet missionaries. I don't know her name, but I was told that one woman sat and held our daughter's hand for hours into that first night. This sweet woman must know of a mother's love. Raquel doesn't remember at all but I will forever be grateful to her. We promise to "mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort" and I've seen the absolute drive in people here and at home to fulfill that promise. My family is even being watched over at home while I'm away. Amazing! I've been told that the members in the area were with the sister missionaries round the clock. So many came that they had to ask them to stop because it was too much for the sisters with their injuries.

These two sisters just want to get back to their mission. They sit and plan and talk about all they need and want to be doing. When they pray they ask that they can heal quickly so that they can get back serving. It's a miracle that they can go through all they've gone through and still want to get back to it! Last night Raquel called the Elders serving in her area to make sure they weren't "messing everything up" Haha! I heard her say she's calling again tonight. You can take the missionary out of the field temporarily but you can't take the missionary out of the missionary. Miracles happen when we do the right thing for the right reasons. We don't know how this story will end yet but I've been truly strengthened by the testimony and courage of these sisters. They are brave and beautiful daughters of God.

I don't have time to write of all that has happened and all of the tender mercies and love we have felt. In fact it has taken me 2 days to get this written and posted. So for now I'm going to end with the words of a song that came to my mind one night as I slipped into bed before the next alarm would go off letting me know it was time for one of the sisters' medicine. It's the same song I turned on to comfort Raquel one night when the pain was so bad and we were waiting for her medicine to kick in:

Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed.
For I am thy God and will Still Give Thee Aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand.
Upheld by my righteous Omnipotent hand.

Love to you all for your concern and prayers and love.
Raquel says I'm the senior companion right now in this trio. Haha! All she wants to do is get back to the work. 

Moments after this pic was taken the sisters were back in bed for the night. It was a rare but exciting night to have them both well enough to get out of bed and eat at the table. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Temple-The Highlight Of My Week

The temple was most definitely the highlight of my week! 
The relief society president, Sister Moore, took us to the temple on
Saturday. I felt bad because she had all these things she needed to
do but she sacrificed doing them to bring us to the temple. I'm always
blown away by the incredible kindness of the members.

When we got there and walked in the doors I just felt immediate peace.
It's truly incredible how much power the temple has. I often think
about how my life would be without the gospel and the temple and I
honestly can't imagine a life without it. I've seen and heard so much
heartache on my mission and it's really opened my eyes to understand
the great blessing it is to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints.

Because we went on our stake's temple day, we were able to go through
the temple with a lot of the missionaries from our zone and it was so
much fun! Sometimes I forget what a privilege it is to be serving with
these missionaries. I know they are called representatives of Christ
and it's a honor to serve with them!
We were able to hear from the Temple President in the little chapel
meeting we had before going to do a session and he was so amazing! He
was talking about how we are entitled to the highest degrees of the
priesthood and what a blessing that is. I know that wouldn't have been
possible without Joseph Smith and his wiliness to go through so much
to bring the fullness of the gospel back to earth.

This week we had a really good lesson on the restoration with our investigator
Crystal! She's shown real interest and is so humble and wants to learn
about Christ and how to follow Him! We're planning on seeing her this
Wednesday! At the university this week a girl actually came over to
our booth (that never happens on their own!!) she's
super sweet and hopefully we'll be teaching her and another student, Blake, soon! 
They both said they would come to FHE tonight!!!!! (Pray that they will)

Sister Raquel Jessie Douglas ;)

**Mom's note: This week I asked Sister Douglas to answer the following questions. Her answers were awesome and I thought helpful for those wanting to serve a mission so I included them on her blog.

First, What is the single most important thing you did before your mission that has helped you along the mission path?

Second, what do you wish you would have done to help you prepare for the mission experience? 

1. I'm glad I gained my OWN solid testimony of the Church, Jesus
Christ, Joseph Smith, the Prophet Thomas S Monson, And THE BOOK OF
MORMON!!! In times of doubt my testimony was the only thread of hope
that kept me going. When I didn't know what to say, at least I was
able to testify. You can't go on a mission and say, "I know my mom
knows this church is true" You have to know it for yourself. I may not
have understood everything, or even why I knew those things were true,
but with time I've been able to solidify my testimony of those things
as I've been able to testify daily:)
AND going to the temple!!!!!!! I think as it got closer to me leaving I was going at
least once a week maybe two! That was my safe haven:)

2. Everyone says this, but STUDY PREACH MY GOSPEL!!!! I wish I would
have understood what an amazing tool that is! We don't go on a mission
to be taught but to teach and in doing so we are taught... if that
makes sense! Everyday I  study the Book of Mormon for 30 minutes, then
I study Preach My Gospel for 20 minutes, and 10 minutes of conference talks or the Ensign. In
the world wide missionary broadcast two weeks ago they basically only
talked about PMG and how important it is. I too know it is revelation
from God to help us help others come unto Christ!

AND learn to talk to people. Learn how to start a conversation from nothing!

Our Savior Jesus Christ
In the visitor's center near the Washington DC temple.

The model of the inside of the temple at the visitors center. There
are 7 floors!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Ya We Got Some Snow

 HAHAHA ya we got some snow.... We've been in our apartment the past 2 and a half days! We had been hearing about this storm the whole week and most people were pretty skeptical about it actually being as much as they said it would be. We went and got jugs of water and some more food on Thursday, just to be safe.

Friday night it started coming down and it snowed through the night and ALL of Saturday and stopped around midnight. It was pretty windy so there are drifts up to 5ft! Church was canceled because everyone was buried in and the streets were BAD! Yesterday we had our own church meeting and both prepared talks. It was fun! Then we went to dig out our car so we could go help members, but it took us 3 hours... !! Oh man then we helped our neighbors get their car out which took 2 more hours! I AM SO SORE!! It has been pretty fun though!

So before this huge cray cray storm happened we had a really great productive week! 
We taught so many less-active ward members this week and they are really starting to trust us and feel the spirit in their lives! It was funny because, with the storm, they were the ones calling and texting to make sure WE were ok! I'm so excited to work with these members

We also went and contacted some potential investigators we tracted into a few weeks ago. First we went and saw Crystal who is a young mother of 5 and 6 year old girls! She is super great and has so much faith in Christ. She had a rough life but started going to the methodist church when she moved here and saw how much God can help us in our trials if we turn to Him! They have pictures of Christ all over their walls, even have some of Greg Olson's paintings on their walls lol! 

We also got in contact with this amazing potential investigator Blake, who has been reading the Book of Mormon. We had only communicated through text, but we went over that day to invite him to FHE. He said he would probably come and wants to meet to talk more about the Book of Mormon!!! SOOOO great:)

On Thursday we had a really good lesson with a less-active sister and her son, Noah. We talked about faith and the story of Peter walking on water. We had a member there that bore a powerful testimony of faith and the spirit was so strong. We asked Noah if he wants to take the lessons and be baptized and they agreed! We're starting the lessons on Thursday and I think this will really help his mom get back to church as well!

It's crazy because at the beginning of this week I was really frustrated because it felt like nothing was happening and I felt like the ward members were starting to loose hope in us sisters. But I've really come to know that God works in mysterious ways and that we just have to be patient and know that everything will work out. He see's the bigger picture and all we need to do is what it says in 
D&C 123:17 "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.”

Love Sister Raquel Douglas

Which lump is our car?
Car identified. Now to get it out. Before shot.

After digging their car out!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Finding Joy In the Mission Journey

Back:Elder Smedly(ZL), Elder Baker(ZL), Elder White(DL), Elder Coburn (greenie)
Front: PJ, Sister Consaco, Sister Whyaskit, Sister Faamaile,
Me(one of these sister's is not like the others;)
You were spot on with whole spiritual high of Christmas, then going to
cold new January and being asked to train and having no idea what I'm
doing. Whenever I feel upset or homesick I always get  so frustrated
with myself because I know this is an incredible thing I get to do and
I need to enjoy it. So I prayed and prayed and prayed to Heavenly
Father to help me resolve some of my concerns and help lift my
burdens. Let me tell ya, my prayers were defiantly answered!!!

First of all, being able to study every morning for two hours is such
a blessing. It's my favorite part of the day, because of the sacred time
I have to communicate with Heavenly Father and prepare for the day.
There are times when my thoughts are led to something to read and
it's exactly what I need. That happened ALL week:)
I remembered this BYU devotional some missionaries talked about that I
felt impressed to read called "Remember Lot's Wife" by Elder Holland
*(I totally recommend you read this talk). He talks about having faith
in the future and refers to the story of Lot's wife. The second talk
that came to mind was "Finding Joy in the Journey" by President Monson
and this quote really impacted me, "I plead with you not to let those
most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and
nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to
do. Instead, find joy in the journey--now."

As I reflected on what goals I wanted to set for the new year with
President Johnson on Wednesday, for interviews, my thought's kept
turning to these two talks. I prayerfully decided that I wanted
to strengthen my Faith in the Savior Jesus Christ, through
reading/searching a chapter of the Book of Mormon everyday. My second
goal is to find Joy in the Journey and develop a more positive outlook
on life. The scripture kept coming to my mind, "Adam fell that men
might be, and men are that they might have JOY" 2 Nephi 2:25.

As I talked to my mission president he said that if I continually strive to
keep these goals that I will have life changing experiences here on
the mission and for the rest of my life.

My joy was really tested this week when EVERYTHING we had planned fell
through and each door we knocked was a hard core rejection. But then
I recognized that each day I could see a blessing from Heavenly father.
-Monday: taught a woman named Janelle, and I felt so much love for her.
-Tuesday: Did service at SPO with a ton of non-members who are so
loving and caring.
-Wednesday: had an amazing training by president and sister Johnson on
"staying on the steep end of the learning curve" -Continual growth and
striving to always push ourselves out of our comfort zone so we can
learn to rely on our Savior! As well as being able to sit down and
talk to president about my goals, and receive inspired council! And
getting a very much needed inspired email from my mom:)
-Thursday: Beautiful weather while tracting. It was 60 degrees:)
-Friday: Having a Zone activity and playing ultimate frisbee in the
mud! Then having an incredible testimony meeting afterward. And going
to dinner at my fav families house, They Lymans!!! And hearing sister
Lyman's conversion story.
-Saturday: Planning for the upcoming week and feeling the spirit!
-Sunday: having President and Sister Johnson at Church with us. And
seeing the little 8 year old that we've been helping teach, get

I know that it is as we turn to our Heavenly Father and seek our His
will for us that we can find true and everlasting joy through His Son
Jesus Christ.

xoxoxoxox Sister Raquel Dougals😉

Monday, January 11, 2016

You're Not In Somoa Anymore, Sister

Introducing Sis. Faamaile. She is here all the way from Somoa! New companions.

Excerpts from her letter on January 4, 2016

Haha, you would not believe the week I've had... It's been so CRAZY!
Monday night we drove to Pittsburgh and got there at about 10pm. We
went and stayed with the Gardners, a senior couple in the mission.
When we came in they asked which one of us would be staying for two
nights... we were so confused. They asked which one of us was the
trainer. I said it was me. They said that our trainees were stuck
in the Detroit airport for the bad weather and didn't make it there
that day. I was so tired at that point that I didn't really know what
to think. So we just went to bed. 

Then next day the AP's emailed us and said our
trainee's wouldn't be there until Wednesday so they had me and two of
the other Sister trainers go to Wheeling West Virginia... Before I went to 
West Virginia I was feeling kinda stressed about everything and asked 
Elder Gardner for a blessing and it helped me feel so much peace. 

Sister Hanson, Sister Palmer, and I went to Wheeling,
which took about an hour and a half. Thankfully they had three
Temporary companions on a 2 day assignment to Wheeling.
mattresses there so no one had to sleep on the floor for two
nights. The bad thing was that Sister Palmer and I only had one change
of cloths. Haha the struggle was real! We had to wash our
cloths every night. On top of that I was feeling sick so that wasn't fun.
The full day we were there we went and cleaned this ladies house. Then
we went tracting for a few hours. There was a really sweet lady that
invited us over for dinner-she's a young mom with two cute
little kids. She was recently reactivated and has so much faith.

Thursday we drove back to Pittsburgh and had our Trainers meeting.
President Johnson told us how important trainers are and how we have 
the ability to influence the new missionaries for the rest of their mission. 
That was overwhelming. But then we talked about what our trainers did 
that we liked I got super pumped about training!

We had lunch and all of the sweet sisters that just came to Pittsburgh were
terrified. I totally remember that day. SO HARD! We had a mini
transfer meeting and president assigned all of the missionaries to
their trainee's. I was assigned to SISTER FAAMAILE!!!!! She is here
all the way from Samoa!!

We drove back to Shippensburg on New Years Eve and finally got home at
6:30pm! President wanted us in our apartments cleaning that night, so
her first mission experience was cleaning the apartment. Haha!

She is super sweet even though it's been overwhelming for her with the
different culture and everything. She has been so strong! She isn't afraid of
anything and on her first real day she handed out a Book of Mormon!!!
I was so proud of my baby!

January 11, 2016

It is so stinkin' cold here! The sad thing is that it is a super mild winter this year so thankfully it hasn't dropped below 10 degrees, but man being out in that cold air all day just drains you! Yesterday it was absolutely freezing and we were walking around a neighborhood trying to find a few less-actives and potential investigators and the wind was blowing so hard that the wet cold air would just go straight through our cloths. My poor comp hates the cold, but she's been a trooper and never complains!
Sis. Faamaile wanted a picture with the icy road. She has never seen ice outside before.

I've learned SO much this past week! I've really had to rely on Heavenly Father in EVERYTHING I do. I've really come to understand the importance of planning and how planning and faith truly go together. When we make plans according to the direction and will of the Lord there is so much more peace and the spirit truly directs the work. Tuesday we set goals to how many people we wanted to talk to and how many doors we wanted opened and where we wanted to be.

As we went on tracting for about four and  a half hours, it was hard, but we were so blessed. We were on the outskirts of the University campus where a lot of college students live. It was pretty barren because their semester doesn't start until the 19th so we would go like 20 doors before one would answer, yet I felt like we were in the right place. As we continued through that day we talked to four people that said they would like to know more. I was totally taken back because that was the first time I had been tracting and had someone actually say they were interested. We are planning on going back and seeing them in a few weeks! One girl, Chelsey, who was probably a little older than me, answered the door with this huge smile on her face. She was the nicest person I've ever met door to door. I feel like we were really led by the spirit to meet her that day and I hope to see something come from it in the future.

Heavenly Father once again has truly blessed us. Through a lot of contacting and talking to members we have two lessons with potential investigators next week! One with Chloe, who is in her 80's and had contact with the missionaries about a year ago, but lost contact. The other is a friend of a Sister in the ward who we are actually teaching tonight at 7 :) 

Heavenly Father truly does answer our prayers. It may not always be in the way we want or expect, but He does. I know that Heavenly Father loves us way too much to just sit and watch us fail at life. He wants us to find joy in this life, and that's something  I've been trying my hardest to do. One of my transfer goals is to "Find Joy in the Journey"! Thank's to my mom plastering those words on the wall and reminding us over and over to find the joy of life! I've learned that if we're not seeking it we'll never find it.

This is the true church being led by a man called of God in these latter days in preparation for our dear Saviors return. I know there is true everlasting peace in the gospel of Jesus Christ and if we just endure to the end and endure it well we will be blessed with joy beyond comprehension!

Have a wonderful week,
Sis Douglas
Sis. Faamaile loves her selfies man! That's how sister Hokafonu was too haha! I
love the car so I guess this picture pretty much sums up our lives:)