Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Oklahoma... still the greatest place ever!

Hello everybody! Wow! It's been a crazy week! I know everybody has heard about what's been happening here in Oklahoma. Thank you for all your prayers! The people of Moore OK and other parts of the state really need the prayers right now. Ok... google a map of Oklahoma for this part of my letter. :)

View Clean Up Efforts in a larger map

Shawnee Clean up crew.
On Friday Sister Pfister and I drove up to Enid from Stillwater to do exchanges with the sisters there. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot at the church in Enid, the Zone Leaders called us and told us to drive back to Stillwater, get our equipment, and drive to Shawnee to do tornado clean up. Sister Pfister and I just laughed. We have tried doing exchanges with the Enid sisters 3 or 4 different times this transfer and nothing has ever worked out. Anyway, we drove back and finally... after 6 hours of being in the car.... from 8:30am to 3:30pm we made it to Shawnee. We were helping move debris from a family's home. I have never moved so much wood. It was good hard work. It was nice to be able to help and make a difference.
Sister Pfister after being in the car appx
5 hours. haha! On our way to Shawnee
to do tornado clean up

On Saturday we did tornado clean up in Carney. Our whole zone or 20 missionaries came to Carney to help. The Elders went to one persons house and helped clean up 80 acres of land. Then the sisters went to another house just up the road. The family we helped are dog breeders. They had 4 or 5 HUGE Alaskan Malamutes and we cleaned debris out of the kennels. With 10 of us working on the kennel, it only took 2 or 3 hours to clean it up. Then we went and started hauling logs to one pile, debris and trash to another, and other debris to a burn pile. It was a lot of hard work. But oh man... the transformation after we were done was amazing. At about 2 or 3pm the Elders came over because they had finished at their house. With their help we worked until 6pm and got a lot done. It was wonderful to work right alongside other missionaries and the home owners and others from the community who came to help.

Two Bibles and a Book of Mormon
At this house the homeowner found a Book of Mormon and two bibles that had been blown into her property. Before we left all 20 of us missionaries sang "Nearer My God to Thee" for this family. It was amazing and the Spirit was strong! I am not sure when I will get to help with clean up again, but I hope it is soon. I love to help and do what I can for the wonderful people who have lost so much in the last week.

This morning we taught a wonderful lady about the Plan of Salvation. We were preparing to teach her this morning and out of nowhere things got a little contentious. I was upset about something and my companion was also upset about something and the Spirit was instantly gone. It was actually really frustrating. As we left the house we prayed that we would have the Spirit. I'm thankful that God works with us even when we make mistakes.

The lesson was so amazing! A lot of her questions were answered. We read some verses from the Book of Mormon and told her some things about the plan of Salvation and she started to cry. She told us she really appreciated learning this because it helps her know she isn't crazy. She also told us she feels like God has been revealing things to her and she feels like this is what he has been telling her. She kept telling us that people can't put God in a box. We taught her things, but she also taught us a lot. Yeah... she is fantastic and SO open! We are meeting with her again tomorrow. :)

Well... I love you all! I am thankful to be a missionary. It is hard and at times discouragement comes, but God is always going to be there for us. I felt his guiding hand many many times. I have felt his peace and love in the hardest times. I have felt the joy that comes from serving and I am so grateful for this opportunity. Talk to you next week!
Love, Sister Record

Excerpts of a Letter to the Missionaries from President Taylor

“As you know, May 19th and 20th were historic days in our mission area. On Sunday night the 19th, the cities of Edmond, Carney, Shawnee, Little Axe and Wellston were hit by tornadoes that caused significant damage and the death of two people. On the afternoon of Monday, May 20th, an EF-5 tornado formed in Newcastle and traveled through Moore causing massive destruction and the death of 26 people. Hundreds more were injured and over 1400 homes were destroyed or damaged. The morning of May 20th I had an impression that all of our missionaries needed to find underground shelters instead of above ground shelter in bathrooms and bathtubs. I instructed the assistants to notify the zone leaders to contact every missionary and get confirmation that every missionary had access to a below ground shelter. I did not know that an EF-5 tornado was coming later that day but I knew you all needed to be in underground shelters if storms came. I was informed by the zone leaders and assistants that everyone had located an underground shelter. Now, after a week of tornado cleanup, I realize that people do not survive an EF-5 tornado with wind speeds over 200 miles per hour, unless they are underground. ”

Last Monday morning cleaning out the storm shelter, just in case we had to use it

“Your efforts have been extraordinary. Each of the Stake Presidents and Elder Southward have repeatedly praised the efforts of our missionaries. You have brought energy and faith to the clean up effort and the members greatly appreciate your involvement. We are building greater trust with our members and softening the hearts of those who are not of our faith. ”

President and Sister Taylor

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mission President Update 05/23/13 2:17pm

Dear Parents:

I know you are following closely the news from Oklahoma so I thought you would appreciate a quick update. First, your sons and daughters are safe. They are wonderfully capable young people who are expanding their capacities through their mission experiences here in Oklahoma and Texas. They are learning to rely on the Lord and apply His teachings as they face the challenges and opportunities of their missions. They are all eager to assist the people of Oklahoma who are affected by the recent tornadoes and help them rebuild their lives. All things are spiritual to the Lord. Your sons and daughters represent Jesus Christ and they minister powerfully to everyone they meet. They will continue to be a great blessing here as they lift, encourage, inspire and bless the people who are put in their path.

Access to the affected areas has been restricted up to this point so we have been limited in what we could do to provide assistance to those in need. We have used this time to make sure our missionaries are prepared with the proper gear to assist when called upon. They have been instructed to purchase thick-soled work boots as well as leather gloves, filtering masks and safety glasses. Those who cannot afford these items will be able to obtain them through Mission funds or from donors. We have advised our missionaries to wear jeans, long sleeve shirts , hats and sunscreen when they are working in the affected areas. We advise them on safety issues before they can participate in the cleanup. Those with health restrictions will be given the opportunity to assist in appropriate ways.

Many of you have asked how you can help with the relief effort. We are grateful for the outpouring of support and concern and especially for your prayers. Other than prayer, the best way to help is to donate to the Humanitarian Aid Fund of the Church using a tithing slip available from your bishopric. Donated goods, while appreciated, create more work on this end because we have to obtain a warehouse to house the goods and staff the warehouse with volunteers to sort through the goods and distribute them. Cash contributed to the Humanitarian Aid Fund of the Church is the most helpful and direct way to assist. Please do not send cash or gift cards for the relief effort to the Mission or your missionaries.

Please be aware that your missionaries will be emailing you next Tuesday morning because of the Memorial Day Holiday on Monday (libraries will be closed).

We are grateful for your prayers and for the character and faith you have developed in your children. It is an honor to serve with them.

Warm regards,

President Taylor

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Clean Up Begins

The storms have passed, and the clean up begins. I read this article in the paper that includes comments from President Taylor, Sister Record's mission president. It sounds like he plans to rotate missionaries throughout the mission in and out of the work area so they have a chance to serve in the clean up efforts and to continue their missionary labors.

Tornado relief spurs LDS Church, Layton's Christian Life Center to action

Published: Tuesday, May 21 2013 10:35 p.m. MDT

Monday, May 20, 2013

Severe Weather Update 5/20 7:30pm

Dear Parents:  All of our missionaries serving in the Moore, Oklahoma area are safe. The City of Moore, Oklahoma located just south of OKC sustained heavy damage and loss of life today as a very powerful tornado cut its way across the city during  about 3:15 pm CT.  Our hearts and prayers go out to the people who have lost so much today.  Again, all of the missionaries serving in the affected area are safe.  The rest of our missionaries checked in safe earlier today.  We were blessed again today.

In the coming days our missionaries will be called upon to help with the cleanup from this devastating storm.  We are asking the missionaries who do not have leather gloves to buy some in the next couple of days.  We are also asking those who can afford to buy work boots to do so.  These boots will help prevent foot injuries (from nails) that could be sustained during the cleanup.  There will be some ability in the future to reimburse missionaries for the boot purchases.   As future storms occur, I will keep you updated (provided we have power).  If you do not hear from me by email after the storms clear following a tornado outbreak, call the Missionary Department.  I will have notified the Missionary Department by phone and confirmed the safety of our missionaries.  Thank you for your prayers and for your wonderful sons and daughters

President Taylor

[NOTE: Sister Record is serving about 60 miles away from Shawnee, OK, and 75 miles from Moore, OK.]

View Tornadoes in a larger map

Current tornado reports at http://www.spc.noaa.gov/climo/reports/

I'm Doing Fine


First off, I want everybody to know I am fine. Apparently news of the tornadoes is all over the place. Keep the people of Oklahoma in your prayers though. Those tornadoes do a lot of damage.

Sister Crystalyn Hunt
Last Monday we had a zone p-day and the sisters from the north part of the zone came down. I found out that one of them is from Spanish Fork, Sister Crystalyn Hunt. It gets better though. We were both set apart by President Angell, she knew me before she came out because of the blog, and we went to girls camp together at Koholowo. CRAZY! I actually get to go on exchanges with her this week. I am pretty excited.

We have had a good week. Both Sister Loveland and I felt kind of discouraged this week, but we quickly realized it was the adversary trying to get us down. We knew that wonderful things were about to happen here in this area. Well, Saturday and Sunday we met two amazing women who are so ready for the gospel!

I want to tell the story of how we found one of these ladies. I was on exchanges with Sister Obena. She served here in this area at the beginning of her mission. We were actually companions for 6 weeks. We were planning for the day and she mentioned somebody that she had met that the sisters before her had taught. This woman's teaching record did not have an apartment number or a correct phone number. If it hadn't been for Sister Obena telling me about her, we never would have found her. Sister Obena and I tried to go visit her on Tuesday, but she was not home. Sister Loveland and I have been trying to get a hold of her. Finally, yesterday we were out with our Relief Society President and we were able to meet her. We talked on her doorstep for about 30 minutes about how she has seen God's hand in her life. She is AMAZING! I love her so much! :D We are going back next week to see her.

Stillwater, OK Zone
I love my new calling as sister training leader. I am learning SO MUCH from the Sisters I do exchanges with. I love exchanges! It is so fun to get to know the other sisters and to help them with the things they need. I am learning so much about how to minister to other people. I always learn from the other sisters how to be a better missionary and how to improve my area. 

Sister Record is 7th from the right, sitting next to President Taylor.
My companion is fabulous! I also love the other sisters that live in the house with us. I'm so blessed to around so many wonderful sisters. Transfers are coming up next week, I'm hoping since we have only been companions for three weeks we will get to be together for one more transfer. I also hope I don't get transfered. I have been here 6 months and I would LOVE to finish my mission here. If I did, that would put me at 9 months in one area. :D Well, I love y'all! Keep Oklahoma in your prayers.

Love, Sister Record

Severe Weather Update 5/20 7:30am

Dear Parents:  As you may know, yesterday we experienced severe storms including several large tornadoes in our mission area.  All of the missionaries are safe.  Damage occurred in localized areas.  While two of the larger tornadoes caused substantial damage in the Carney and North Shawnee communities, we are grateful that most of the tornadoes touched down in more remote, unpopulated areas.  

While severe storms can occur in any month of the year in Oklahoma and Texas, May is the month when the most tornadoes have occurred historically.  We have a system of alerting the missionaries of approaching storms.  This system includes text and telephone warnings well in advance of the storms and updates as the storms continue.  Each companionship is to have a local weather contact with whom they communicate about local weather conditions in the event of severe storms.  Our missionaries have been given written materials and periodic zone conference instruction informing them of what to do in the event of severe weather.  We also have a communication system which we use to confirm the safety and location of our missionaries in the event of severe weather. 

We are grateful for the Lord’s protection of His missionaries.  We are also grateful for your prayers.  You have wonderful sons and daughters and you should be very proud of them.  We love them and are privileged to serve with them.

When we experience tornado outbreaks in the future (and we expect more today) we will keep you updated once the storms pass and we confirm the safety of all our missionaries.

Warm Regards,

President Taylor

[NOTE: I will continue to post mission office updates to Sister Record's blog as I receive them.]

Monday, May 13, 2013

Howdy, Howdy, Howdy

[NOTE:] We had a great talk with Sister Record on Sunday for Mother's Day. She took some time to talk individually with each sibling as well as her Mom and Dad. We are grateful for her sweet spirit and faithful service.

Hello everybody!
It has been a great week! I got to experience my first wedding as a missionary. Two of my favorite people got married on Saturday. Here is a picture. :)
Sister Record, [Name withheld 1], [Name withheld 2], Sister Loveland

This week I'm going on exchanges with on of the sisters that I was companions with when I first came here. I'm pretty excited to spend a day with her and see how much she has grown in the last 5 or 6 months.

Sister Loveland and I are doing great here in this area. The area is doing fabulous. Funny story.... I lost my drivers license last Monday. (Go figure. I'm just surprised it took 15 months to loose it only once.) I haven't been able to drive all week. The other night Sister Loveland and I were talking about how she hates driving and how I wish I could drive. I came to the conclusion that I feel like the grandmother whose children revoked her drivers license and driving privileges. :D Hopefully I will figure it out soon.

Another funny story. This may be one that is just funny if you were there, but I'm going to tell it anyways. First off, I have gotten to the point were I use "y'all" without thinking. Second, we were talking about armadillos the other day. Instead of saying armadillo I said armadilla. I am speaking okie (people from Oklahoma are called Okies).

Sister Allen and Sister Record
Lets see... last Wednesday I went on exchanges with Sister Allen. (one of the pictures I sent) She came to my area. She is the happiest, most bubbly person ever. I love her! We had a wonderful day FULL of miracles. Elder Andersen told us to expect miracles every day, so I was expecting miracle. The night before we decided our theme for the day was going to be," have faith, not fear." Wednesday morning I woke up with a line from the hymn "Do What Is Right" going through my head. "Be faithful, Be fearless!" I may as well have woken up singing "Oh what a beautiful morning!" It was a beautiful morning. :) I love those kind of mornings. Like I said, so many miracles happened that day because both Sister Allen and I had faith. That's what we need to see miracles happen. Faith that leads to action and obedience. It isn't just a blessing reserved for missionaries. :) Well, I love you! I hope you have a great week!
Love, Sister Record

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tengo Gozo en mi Alma Hoy

Hello everybody!
It is a beautiful day here in Oklahoma! In a couple hours we are going to Boomer Lake to have a picnic and play games. I'll send pictures next week. Sorry I didn't write last week... life has been pretty crazy. I don't have a lot to write this week. I mean, a lot has happened, but it doesn't feel right to share everything that has happened just so it can go on my blog. There is too much to share. With that being said, I do want to share the lessons I have learned over the last month or so.

1. God ALWAYS knows what is best.
2. When God prompts you to do something, even when it is a scary thought, just do it.
3. There is no way to truly be LIVING the gospel of Jesus Christ and be miserable.

Sister Loveland is my new companion. She has actually lived in the same house as me for the last 8 weeks, so we already know each other pretty good. She has just switched from being a Spanish sister to English. That is a little bit of a transition for her, but she is doing great! So right now I am in a house with three other sisters who speak Spanish. I am learning quite a bit of Spanish. (not enough to ever carry on a conversation. But I understand a lot of what they say) I even said my first prayer in Spanish today! Okay... I only started and ended the prayer in Spanish and the middle was in English. One day I will be able to pray in Spanish. (that is one of my goals before I come home. haha!)

There are a lot of 19 year old sisters in the mission. I will send you a picture of all the sisters in the mission about a year ago versus now. It is crazy! There are so many more! It is wonderful!

All Sisters in July 2012 (22, excluding Sister Taylor)
All Sisters in April 2013 (39, excluding Sister Taylor, a 44% increase)
I am still trying to figure out what my role and responsibilities are as a sister trainer. My role is different from a regular trainer because me and the other sister I work with are to minster to the needs of the sisters in our region. We are going to be doing two exchanges with two sets of sisters this week and zone conference and then possibly two exchanges next week. Life is crazy and super busy, but it is good. :) I love you all so much! Thanks for everything you've done for me!

Love, Sister Record

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Minimal Update

We didn't get much of an update this week. Sister Record is very busy as a Sister Trainer. Looking forward to next week.