Monday, December 29, 2014

35 - I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

Last P-day was pretty awesome. We went to Sam's house and we watched..... a MOVIE.... WHAT?! 

We weren't being disobedient though, because our mission president has authorized us to watch this movie on P-days if we so choose. You know what this movie is....?.....
Saratov Approah. Aka, a mormon horror movie. haha. It's only about two missionaries getting kidnapped and held ransom in Russia! And the scarier thing is... my companion's had an experience that was very similar.

The movie:
They just wanted one more lesson, but the spirit prompted them not to go in as they knocked on the door, but they went in anyway. And they were beaten and held at gun point and kidnapped.
Sister Burt in Wyoming:
They just wanted one more lesson, but the spirit prompted them not to go in as they knocked on the door, but they went in anyway. They just needed one more lesson to meet their goal after all, and when the door opened the spirit just left, and as they were teaching her it was very scary, but the biggest freaky thing was she told them that if they had knocked on their door just a month earlier, she would have let them in only to kill them.
So! That's that! 
It was a super awesome movie though.

Bishop Taylor and Family
Christmas Eve
But onto happier topics, we spent Christmas Eve night with the Bishop Taylor and his family! 

They played some Manhiem Steamroller, which I thank them for, because it's not really Christmas without Manhiem Steamroller! 

And they gave us both beautiful journals! How nice!

Our awesome tree began to have presents under it a couple days before Christmas. We were glad we didn't have to wait very long to open them!

I love Christmas morning, rushing out to open presents in your Christmas pajamas as soon as you wake up!

Oh, and we can't forget the stockings of course. ...I sent my family chocolate coal for Christmas. They were quite offended. haha.

Weeeee had a lot of appointments scheduled for Christmas, to just go and share the Christmas story with people. But they all canceled except for one darn it! 

Spontaneous going out of town, not getting home in time, just not 'there,' sigh. 

The one appointment that did not fall through was the family who fed us an early dinner.

Sister Hartl, Daughter, Cat and Blankets
A good ol' Christmas ham, and rasberry pie after, yum! 

So we at least got to read the Christmas story with one family!

And Sister Hartl is so nice and made us blankets!!! Mine has a purple corner because she ran out of thread for mine, which I think is awesome. haha.

The "Phone Call" Home
And then, it was time to call my family! Oh, it was so wonderful! I was able to facetime them for about an hour on a member's ipad. Oh man, my heart was pounding soooo hard before I called. I think it's just because it's so rare and special and you are 'not' allowed to do it except for as this time so I almost felt rebellious. But oh man, it was so good to see my family, as well as my friends who were there who are basically family to me. 

The biggest changes are 1) My dad has a beard which I don't know how I feel about but have to accept, and 2) My youngest brother Marshall is going through puberty and his voice is like, practically an octave lower, which I definitely don't know how I feel about but have to accept! haha. 

And I got to watch my family open their gifts which I sent them! It was soooooooo good to see they are all doing well!

And I opened my gift from my family that got here just in time on Christmas Eve and the tradition lives on! My mother always buys me a nice Sunday outfit for Christmas, so she sent me a super cute outfit! Thanks mom!

Sam with Her New Book of Mormon. :-)
And at the end of the night we gave Sam her Christmas present. We gave her a Book of Mormon because her two-and-a-half-year-old gave her other one a bath... which is super sad because it had all sorts of markings in it from when she first joined the church a few years back. 


So we gave her another hard cover one like the one she had and wrote our testimonies in it and little sticky notes throughout the Book of Mormon. She loved it!

Oh... and by the way. I thought we were going to have snow.... I mean, this is the midwest, South Dakota, has already snowed and it was super cold during Thanksgiving! I should have been a guaranteed white December but....

After Christmas

Day AFTER Christmas...Now That's More Like It!
Christmas Day...Where's the White Stuff?
I LOVE the Snow!
 This was the extent of my 'white' Christmas. 

And then...

Oh course, the day after, it snows. 

The irony. I can't help but laugh. haha. So, I'm still dreaming of a white Christmas.

But man, the day after Christmas was crazy. You know why? Because we had somebody give us harmful substances that night after much struggle and turmoil. It was an increadibly huge step. And we come to find out that -- remember that guy who we found a month or so ago when we went over to teach a lesson that we had to let the Elders teach him because he wasn't in our area? Well he gave up his addictive substances to the Elders that night as well of his own desire and free will. 

So all in all, this week was a real treat. We did not have very many lessons, but this was one of the most special and treasured and crazy weeks in my mission. I am already sure of that, despite having 10 months left to go. 

I have only nine days left with Sister Burt, and I'm confident they will be good ones. It's tough to go home, especially when you grow connections to select people in your mission that are so strong. But it'll be alright.

Also, it's Sister Hawkes's birthday today! 

The big two oh! Twenty years old! 

And haha, she loved the shirt that my family gave me for Christmas. 

(Don't worry, I'm not giving away my present to her. I was just letting her look at it and she approves.) 

So we took her out to breakfast today.

By the way, I think this is the official winter. I think it is here to stay now. It was 7 degrees outside and I don't think it's going to get above freezing again for awhile. I am so blessed that December has been a mild month though! Seriously!

I hope you all had a great Christmas and were able to witness Christmas miracles. We were sure able to the day after! The miracles came a day late, just like the snow haha. But it was definitely all in the Lord's timing. 

Give something back this Christmas season (yes,it's still the Christmas season) and you will be so much more satisfied with you life! 

I love being here in South Dakota serving the Lord!

Have a Happy New Year Everyone!
Sam's Cool Black Cat

Look at this cute cat that Sam has haha. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

34 - Tis the Season

Yes, It Snowed!
So last week, remember when I said it was going to snow later? Well when we walked into the library it was raining, and then when we walked out two hours later, it was snowing! Like, wet snow that pelts you in the face and kinda hurts snow, haha. 

I guess lots of schools were let out early because of the snow. And it was raining today when we walked in the library and I think the same thing is gonna happen again, cuz it's supposed to snow, again! haha. The weather has actually been very mild! Around mid November was really cold, but it hasn't gotten as cold since then. It's supposed to be really cold the day after Christmas, but still not as cold as it was in mid November!

Sister Burt's New Hair
After emailing last week, Sister Burt and I got our hair done. I got mine cut. Finally I got all the back of my hair chopped off again. It's always liberating to get my hair cut. 

Even though it looks basically no different from the front, seriously a small dog was born on the ground because I have so much hair on the back of my head! haha. People are always amazed at how much hair I have. 

Sister Burt got her hair dyed a dark brown color with burgundy low lights. 

It suits her very well.

Caroling In The Snow
That night we had plans to go caroling, and the weather didn't stop us! 

The weather really wasn't too too cold. It's just hard when it's actually snowing because the roads are always bad when it snows. 

But oh my goodness, I loved caroling in the snow! Even though it makes it harder to sing haha.

Caroling for one of the members
It reminded me of the caroling parties we have back home with my family, only we were bringing people poinsettias instead of way awesome treat plates with superly awesome decorated sugar cookies. 

And we were caravanning in the snow instead of on the dry streets of Tempe, Arizona. 

It was a little bit weird because we were only caroling to members when we should have been caroling to less actives... but we didn't orchestrate the whole caroling thing... So I count it as good service. 

It was fun.

Here is the story of the week.
On Saturday we were tracting in Tea and we met someone whom I will call Elizabeth. She seemed really nice and we set up another time to come and see her at a time that worked better for her. Later when we texted to confirm the appointment, her husband, whom I will call Henry, texted back, and asked us who we were. He told us he was just getting out of the hospital and we asked if there was anything we could to for him. He told us he had been instructed to wear thermocare heat things on his lower back everyday because he was still experiencing problems from having spinal surgery a year prior and he just hasn't been able to afford them that regularly. So for our return appointment, the member that went with us was willing to buy him one. We were able to serve Henry in a unique way.

We showed Henry and Elizabeth the He is the Gift video for the lesson. Elizabeth was more inclined to answer questions and with her husband's silent nod of approval, she explained that Henry has been angry because of the painful death of his saintly grandmother in 2007. So anything involving religion is a sensitive topic. Henry explained to us a bit about his grandmother's death, that she was killed because of someone who was texting while driving. The texter walked away with a few bruises while his grandmother suffered in the hospital for a long while before passing away.

He used to be a strong believer in Jesus Christ, but has had a hard time with his faith ever since then. But he has just recently started to soften his heart because of the birth of their now six-month-old baby girl.

It was no coincidence that we came knocking on their door at this point in Henry's life. Heavenly Father knew he wasn't ready to be taught the gospel before, now he is. We have a return appointment with them next week.

So that was Wednesday, halfway through the week and then... Sister Burt, poor thing, she got the flu! It's been going around like it always does this time of year, and she fell victim to it. I just feel so bad because she had the flu at this time last year too and it was so awful that she told me, "Sister Sanderson, I would rather die than have the flu again. I'm serious. I give you full permission to kill me!" And then she gets the flu, sad face. I may be 'killing her off' in mission terms, but I wasn't about to kill her in real life. I was helpless as I saw the progression of the awful virus causing her so much misery for three days give or take.

The good thing is, I am ok! It is a miracle that I haven't gotten the flu, and I thank Heavenly Father for blessing me with good health at this time!!! I found things to do with no problem. I had plenty of Christmas cards to write as well as miscellaneous letters. Plus, we have the entire standard works that we can read! I studied some Isaiah. It was fun.

The other good thing is, Sister Burt is feeling much much much better now and we can go out and work tomorrow! Yay! Also, we were able to fulfill our baptismal covenant yesterday and "comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:8-10). There's someone in the other ward whom I will call Sam who we know very well from spending some P-Day hours with her and stuff and she's been struggling to rekindle her testimony amongst an array of obstacles. Sister Burt and I were able to be a friend to her on Sunday. And, it's great because since Sister Burt goes home in a few weeks, she will be able to talk to her as much as is needed - she hopes - when she is no longer a missionary. Yaaay!

That's it for this week! I'm excited to call my family for Christmas! Stay well everyone, and happy holidays!

Monday, December 15, 2014

33 - Oh, the Weather Outside's... Delightful!

Before I say anything about this week, there is a story that I forgot to tell that's too good to leave out of my mission blog!
Black Friday Mall Crowd

Flashback to Black Friday amongst the hustle and bustle of the mall in the afternoon!

We were at the food court and had just gotten our lunch. Problem is, there was hardly any places to sit. Solution- sit on the rim of the indoor fountain, like everyone does when there's nowhere to sit. I was by a guy who was playing some game on his cell phone. Well, we're counseled to talk with everyone to give them an opportunity to accept the gospel, so I strike up a conversation. I'm only eating my fries as I talk. I don't want to be so undignified as to be workin' on my messy Whopper when fulfilling my calling as a representative of Jesus Christ. Somehow, I doubt that would invite the spirit. haha.

The conversation was going fine. He didn't seem too interested, but I brought up the Book of Mormon and was going to talk more about it when his phone rang. He did mention that he was waiting for his wife and kid to meet him. I reached for my Book of Mormon and discretely pulled it out and kept it by my side, but then the guy got up... darn it...

Sister Burt realized the situation. "Sorry," she sympathized. But then a few seconds later, "wait, isn't that him?" The guy had just put down his phone and was just standing there, looking around. 

Woo! Here's my chance! So I walk up and say,

"Hi, sorry, we have to get going, but here," I say as I place the Book of Mormon in his hand.


"I know if you read and pray about the Book of Mormon that the Holy Ghost will tell you it is of God."

"Well... thank you, but I'm Luthran, so I don't want this."

"Well, that's ok, just give it to someone who needs Jesus in their life!" I said with a smile.

"Oh! Ok, I'll do that! Thank you!"

"You're welcome, Grr... g..rraa....."

"What are you trying to say...?"

"I'm trying to remember your name."

"You don't know me."

"! ...Oh! hahaha.. well then! ok, well, anyway, you have a great holiday season!"

"You to, thanks."

Hahahahahaha! I totally gave it to a totally different guy! hahahahah! But it totally worked! I I think that I ended up putting it in good hands! hahaha.

So that's that story! haha. Back to the present.

"Frozen" Falls Park

After emailing last P-Day we went and took pictures at Falls Park! 

It was cold that evening, but it was so fun and so beautiful! 

Our Group at the Frozen Falls
We walked and climbed on the frozen falls and everything! 

We had some great pictures taken! 

And the place is soooo beautiful and Christmas time at night!

You know what's really rewarding? 

To have your mission President mention your success story in his weekly email to all the missionaries. He said:

"Great success is being experienced through the He is the Gift initiative... One set of Sister Missionaries packed a lunch, asked a member to help them get their bikes to a neighboring town in their area and spent the day tracting then the member came back at night and picked them up. They passed out 29 He is the Gift Cards, five Books of Mormon and are returning to follow up on the appointments they made and to do more tracting."

How awesome is that!? After reading that I really wish we had been able to report better news about going to Worthing again, but see, we tried our hardest to call everyone and get someone to come with us to the appointments we set up with people there, but because of various reasons, nobody was able to at all. Darn Christmas shopping and sickness and lack of answering phone. But, the Lord knows what he's doing because in the morning we contacted the people we had appointments with by phone and one of them was very sick and the other was out of town.

We ended up going to Lennox to find some innactive people on the ward list there. Lennox is a little tiny bit futher out than Worthing and it's also a little bit bigger and a lot bit more getto. 

Also, you find odd things in small towns, like buses parked in driveways of houses. It gives Sister Burt the creeps Lennox does. 

We were able to find at least one member who we could come back and see sometime, so that was good.

We also went to Tea and tracted a bit.

It was successful. We go to Tea a lot to teach a less active family once a week. 

A 2-Track Crossing!
It's good because it's the closest to us and it's larger too, more options to choose from as far as where to tract.

Warm enough to RAIN!
Also, the weather... has been an absolute miracle. Saturday it was 55 degrees! And same with Sunday! 

Like... what! NOT South Dakota winter weather at all! I went to church with no coat! It was amazing! Moss was growing on the trees and everything! It's so warm that it's 'raining' right now! Granted it's going to snow again today later... but still! I'll take a two whole day miracle!

Also, Sister Burt got her trunky papers. Poor Sister Burt... haha.

So that's about it! We are going to be working hard this Christmas season! Woo!


Gas prices have been awesome here lately.

Door @ a Gift Shop...Is that a...hmm?

This handle at the Sioux Falls gift shop totally looks like a video game controller.

Monday, December 8, 2014

32 -The Worthing Souls Are Great

It's been a productive week! And Sister Burt was even sick for the beginning of it, and we still got a super lot done, just, wow! And you know why? It's because we made awesome plans and followed through on them. This is how it went down.

We were doing weekly planning. Every week, it's the same people... And I knew there was more people that we still had yet to meet in the ward. So we finally sat down and figured out who all was in our area, active and less active alike and we highlighted all of the people we knew. There were a lot of un-highlighted names, so our goal is now to get as many names highlighted on that list as possible. Because we now had a definite list of people to visit, we met and taught two new less actives and have return appointments with both of them! We really should have done this sooner.

Beautiful Stained Glass.         An Uplifting Christmas Program
The day after that, we went to support one of our less actives who was in a Christmas program at a methodist church. She goes to a Methodist school.
The church was beautiful and the program was very cute and uplifting. They did a great job.

The mayor even passed by us while we were walking in the parking lot to the car and said, "Thanks for comin!" But we didn't know that was the mayor until the member who was with us notified us. Otherwise, we would have totally taken more advantage of that opportunity! But, still awesome that the mayor talked to us.

A map of the "city" of Worthing. :-)
The crowning event of this week though (as you can guess by the title), was the day in the City of Worthing.

This little thing is Worthing. 

There's a little bit more to it on the outskirts that doesn't show here aparently, but still, it's tiny. It has about 1000 people who live there we've been told.

You see, we have a few little tiny cities south and west of us that don't get touched very often because we are of course limited on the amount of miles we can use. 

But we decided that we NEEDED to get out to one of them and work there before weather became too severe. We found out that the best day would be Saturday, thanks to members who have smart phones and are willing to tell us the weather forcasts. We announced the previous Sunday that we needed a ride with our bikes to Worthing on Saturday and got things all orchestrated. (See how much preparation this took? Couldn't just do this on a whim.)

So, come Saturday we armed ourselves with supplies and a packed lunch because we didn't know if there were any places to eat there. We ate a big breakfast that Saturday (conveniantly served at the church because it was the holiday Christmas breakfast thing) and we hooked our bikes up and we were off on an adventure!

Worthing... honestly wasn't quite as far away as we thought. It took about fifteen minutes to get there, but it was still worth getting a ride. Before long there was a little sign.

There it is! Worthing! Haha. 

We were dropped off at the east end of the city and we started knocking on doors! 

The low was 26 or so and the high 42 and it was sunny and not very windy. It was still cold, but completely bearable, the perfect day to tract out that town.

Worthing, and just small towns or... cities... (it is a city. Has a school and a little City Hall and everything.) they remind me of what it would be like in the book "To Kill a Mockingbird." Just super small with dirt roads and the houses are more old and everything. It's a cool feel.

Cold Chicken Noodle Soup for Lunch
I am glad we brought a lunch though, because the only places to eat were two bars and the gas station. Soooo cold chicken noodle soup it was! A little bit colder than room temperature, but, hey, it was food!

We actually did not tract out the entire town. We tracted until Juniper, so we only covered like a third of what we have on our map. 

In the five and a half hours we were there we passed out 29 He is the Gift cards, 5 Book of Mormons, and found many people who have been humbled by their life's circumstances and who are much more receptive to the gospel than most of the people in Sioux Falls. 

We are going back to Worthing on Saturday for two return appointments and some drop-bys and more tracting!

One of the most powerful experiences was this:

It was later in the afternoon, one of the last doors we knocked on, and this lady opened the door. She was getting out her Christmas decorations, seeing what she already had and what she still needed. We gave her the He is the Gift card and she started telling us how this was a hard time for her and her family, that they were going through a lot. And she mentioned her sister who lived in town (so there are still little towns where people are related) and she was actually one of the first people we tracted into, so we already had that connection.

We bore testimony that us meeting her, AND her sister before her, was no coincidence and that the Book of Mormon, this gospel, is what they need in order to bring them peace. There were tears in her eyes from just referencing the hard time she was having. Sister Burt then said,
"Do you want a hug?"

"Yes, I actually would."

I watched with humble heart as they hugged. Then I hugged her and said,
"I know we just met you, but we love you already!"

She had tears streaming down her face. This is the first time I've ever seen someone cry on my mission right there at the doorstep. It was really, really quite something. We gave her sister before her a Book of Mormon and we gave her a Book of Mormon as well of course. 

We will be sure to try them next Saturday.

Shortly after that experience, we went to the gas station and called for our ride because it was getting dark outside. (It gets dark at around 5:30 right now.)

It's a cute little gas station, as you can see, but the sad thing is, it's bigger than the Circle K I worked at. I swear, there's not a gas station that I've ever come across that is smaller than the one I worked at, or in other words, has only two islands of food stuff! This one had like, four. But, I guess it is the only gas station, so they should have more stuff I suppose.

Our ride came and we were happy to report the results of the day. It was a taxing day and we were sore the day after, but it was so worth it!

And for the hard work we put in, Heavenly Father poured out a blessing upon us the day after. 

Travis and Jasmine and their four little boys came to church! We have lost contact with them because they just had a new baby and Travis is out of town a lot. Jasmine was baptised earlier in Mexico, but doesn't know anything about the church really. They all enjoyed church and we have a return appointment with them on Thursday! 

We have more set appointments this upcoming week then I think we've ever had! It's been a productive week for sure!

Also, if you haven't seen the He is a Gift video, go to and watch it! It is a great video and gets better when you share it with people! The first time I watched it, I will confess, I had thoughts of "...her shorts are really short... ...that's a weird looking depiction of Jesus and Mary... ..the music is eeeh." But as I've watched it more and read the words, it is now a powerful video! So go and watch it, and think about how Jesus Christ is the greatest gift and more importantly, think of how you can show your appreciation for him.

Discover the Gift.
Embrace the Gift.
and, Share the Gift.

Remember what Christmas is truly about and I promise, you will have a merry Christmas.

Monday, December 1, 2014

31 - The Week of Thanksgiving

...that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you. (Alma 34:38).

Lots happened this week, and I know I'm not going to be able to cover all I would like too. Darn. But I'll try to hit the important things.

Tuesday was great because we saw lots of progress with people we are working with! The native family is opening up to us a lot more now. It's been awesome. And what else is awesome is the deaf recent convert that we have been working with, Sunshine? Well, someone was apparently giving her a hard time and telling her to go to a different church, trying super hard to control her. But Sunshine stood up for herself, telling her friend that she was satisfied with her church right now. But her friend was just NOT leaving her alone! But she felt comfortable to call us for comfort and support after that happened! How awesome is that! She's been struggling with her testimony and that just shows how far she's come!

The day before Thanksgiving, we had Thanksgiving dinner with the Taylor family. 

They did Thanksgiving a day early because Sister Taylor was going out of town on Thanksgiving. It was wonderful! 

As you can see by my plate, it was a lot of good awesome Thanksgiving deliciousness. 

And afterward we had a Thanksgiving activity where we made thankfulness turkeys. 

So that was super fun and filling.

Thanksgiving day. I prayed that day to see miracles. In my mind, I reminded myself that this was the only Thanksgiving I would have as a missionary, as a representative of the Lord, and I wanted to tell people what I was thankful for and give them something more to be thankful for! 

I expressed my desire to work hard today to Sister Burt, and I told her we 'would' see miracles today.

The miracle came almost immediately. We had tried knocking on this less active family's door multiple times with no avail, but this morning, the door was opened. We were able to share a Thanksgiving message and set up another time to meet and we have high hopes with meeting with these people more regularly in the future!

We then went back home and were picked up by Sister Thulin to spend Thanksgiving with their family of ten kids all under the age of sixteen! Crazy! I love their family! 

And Sister Thulin is such a saint and even brought little treats to her person that she visit teaches after she picked us up.

Man, Thanksgiving at the Thulin house was so high energy and fun! 

See, I told you it was COLD outside!
Never A Dull Moment At the Thulin's - 10 Kids!
We've been to their house for dinner before, but, and this is so typical of kids, they wanted to give us a tour of the house! Haha. So we walked down the stairs, following the barrage of excited little ones and were shown the big awesome room that is the basement and the playroom. 

And they had a big bean bag that we were playing with, giving them rides on it one at a time, and then we played "Binky Ball" (dodgeball basically with one of those squishy stringy balls) which is totally a game which we in my family as little kids would have made up and played, and it was awesome. 

So much running around!

And then one of the kids wanted to play outside in the like, 10 degree weather, and I was all for that! 

There wasn't too much snow, and the snow wasn't sticky enough to make anything more than a simple snowball, but we had fun playing soccer as best we could while the little ones sledded down the soccer goal haha, and while one of the youngest sucked on a football.

Problem is, I got my camera slightly snowy, aka, slightly wet... and the picture was um, not doing so well... but! It took an awesome picture of pre-digging into Thanksgiving dinner where it made it look like a memory! haha

So that's awesome! But then I just put it in rice and my camera was all good to use again. Yay rice!!!

And we after that just had a good relaxing time. 

It was so homey and nice.
But... we did end up staying longer than we probably should have. I prayed to see miracles and I saw one. I was satisfied with the one miracle and I shouldn't have been satisfied with just one. It was a great Thanksgiving still, but I regret not having set the expectation to leave the member's house earlier. And there's no other Thanksgiving for me to have a second chance. But, I suppose that's what the atonement is for, to make up for those things that you can't repay yourself. What a sacred gift. I will repent as I take advantage of the future holidays. Though, of course, everyday we can see miracles.

Also... guess what....

You'll never believe this, but our Mission President authorized us to go Black Friday shopping, just us sisters in Sioux Falls, (cuz we called and asked haha) and so we did! We switched most of our P-day hours to be on Friday instead of Tuesday so we could shop for a long time!

This was my first Black Friday experience actually haha. How ironic. We got up at 5 and were at Target by 6. It actually wasn't very busy, it was nice. After Target we went to Hobby Lobby. 

And then we went to Style Encore which still opened at 10, and haha, there was a little line five minutes to opening that formed! So we totally stood in a little line on black Friday! How awesome is that!?

My crowning buy was from Style Encore though. I got this coat for just $15.90! Hopefully it will hold me through the negatives. If not, guess I'll just have to find something else haha, but it seems like it should do me good. 

But yes, black Friday was very successful.

And guess what! A less active family who we have been working with, the native family, they came to sacrament meeting on Sunday!!! That's huge!!!

And I am out of time. 
Just because: So cute...Link gnome leprechaun...hahaha

Looking forward to writing next week!