Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New 2 more days! Dakota was baptized!

                                                                                                December 30, 2013
Kirkham Family (aka the best family in the world!!),

Wow. What a treat to be able to Skype, talk and see you guys on Christmas day! That was so awesome. You guys all look so great! That was the best Christmas present ever and it won't ever be forgotten. I hope that the rest of your Christmas went well :) 

This past week was still very productive in our missionary work although we had Christmas. We were very blessed! We are still teaching Jesse and Meradith and have scheduled a baptismal date with both of them for January! I have a feeling that we will need to push the date back to help them be fully prepared but things are still looking up for them. We had jokingly been telling Jesse that he needs to talk to his manager to change his shifts so that he has Sunday off... and if he is able to get it off then it's a sign from God that he needs to go to church! ... and guess what happened? He got Sunday off! haha!

On Christmas Eve we went over to the Steflick's home for Christmas Eve dinner. They are the sweetest family. They had us over for Thanksgiving as well! We were spoiled with having the bishop's smoked turkey... mmm mmm!!!  Christmas morning, I Skyped you guys!!!! =D best 40 minutes ever! haha You could probably see the commotion going on in the background at the end of the call, but some people came over to join us at the Kidd's home for a Christmas lunch/dinner. We had fun meeting the Kidd's neighbors, and then the Kidd's wanted to watch the movie, “Joy to the World,” and sing some Christmas hymns. It was a good way to try and make it feel like Christmas, but in reality, it really just felt like another day ;)  It's all good though! I really am so grateful for the opportunity for being able to spread the word of God on Christmas. What an amazing opportunity! Later that day we met with some single, lonely members of the ward and sang some Christmas hymns to a member in the nursing home. It was a sweet experience to see her face light up when we came. No one had been to visit her on Christmas and we were so grateful that we were able to see her. No better way to be spending that special day.

Christmas night, the Sister Training Leaders came for exchanges and I went to Deltona for the next day. Surprisingly that was only the second time that I have left my area for exchanges. I learned a lot about how to work more effectively with members and enjoyed getting to know Sister Low (the STL) more. We have so much in common! Not to mention that we were born a day apart ;) I love her! During the exchange, we went to a member's home for dinner. She is a sweet lady that is very excited about missionary work. During the closing prayer that she gave, she prayed for practically everything including genealogy work. As she was thanking Heavenly Father for genealogy she said, "We are SO blessed to do the work for our great, great, great, greats, greats, greats, greats, greats, greats, greats, greats, greats, greats, greats, etc." (I think you get the idea)! hahahaha every time she said another "great" she would get more emotional too. It was a very sweet prayer... but it was soo funny. Sister Low and I were trying so hard not to laugh.

Saturday, we had two baptisms in the ward!! The elders had a baptism at 3:00 p.m. and then we had Dakota's baptism at 5:00 p.m. Dakota's family wanted him to have a separate baptismal service. They were both very sweet services. Dakota was smiling ear to ear after the baptism and he said that he felt so good. :) Cool thing: Dakota's uncle had been baptized 13 years ago, (December 2000- same year that Dakota was born,) in the same font that Dakota was baptized in! Crazy! So cool though. The spirit was very strong that night. The next morning Brother Westcott confirmed Dakota a member of the church and conferred the Holy Ghost. It was such a sweet blessing. In the blessing, Dakota was promised to be an example to his family, and that he would be able to fulfill a full time mission. My eyes filled up with tears with the thought that not only had we been able to help Dakota, but if Dakota stays strong, he will in turn be able to help so many others! It's just a chain reaction! The gospel is so true and so perfect. :) 

Last night we had the most spiritual member lesson that I have had on the mission. We were over at the first counselor in the bishopric's home. We had each person take a turn talking about what they know to be true and what they love about the gospel. After we helped them recognize that the Spirit was there as we had heard truth. We then helped them see that it's through the humble testimonies of those that share the Gospel that the Spirit will touch the hearts of others testifying and expounding on their words. You don't have to have eloquent words to share what you love and know!! It's in your heart, if you just have enough courage to START talking and open your mouth to share it with others, the Spirit WILL help you. This is the Lord's work, He is not going to abandon you when you are helping Him with HIS work. So don't be scared :) Be happy! Be Loving! Be an example! Share the simple truths that you love about the Gospel. Don't be afraid of reaching out in love to those around you. The Lord will be there with you :) 

Well, I better get off. Once again, I was so excited and so happy to Skype you guys!! I hope you had a merry rest of your Christmas and that you enjoy the New Year!! I'm so excited and so ready for the year 2014. There are so many GREAT things that are awaiting each one of us... up to the very end of the year ;) Wow. This will be a year to never forget :) I love you guys. Remember, never be afraid to share something that means so much to you and that you know would only do good to others around you. You will be blessed as you do so!! 

I LOVE YOU! I'LL SEE YOU THIS YEAR (and two days)!!! haha :) HAPPY 2014!!!! 


Sister Kirkham

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It's Christmas Adam! Merry Christmas!

Family!!                                                                            12/23/2013

Wow! I can't believe that it's Christmas Adam! haha! Time is flying.... just like Santa's sleigh and reindeer... haha.. anyways! wow! Where to start with this week. We have seen a lot of miracles. I really don't have a whole lot of time to write... but I will try my best to write the highlights! 

We had a lesson earlier this week with Jesse and Meradith (the investigators we found on my birthday). The spirit was very strong as we talked. The most surprising part was that Meradith had started reading from the Book of Mormon and was all the way to Words of Mormon! So sweet! I think she understood a big majority of it as well. :) A couple days later we had a second lesson with them and committed both Jesse and Meradith to be baptized on January 18th! I know that Meradith is feeling the spirit guide her. Jesse is going along with it but we are hoping that it becomes more sincere as time goes. They need some time to prepare for baptism... but with a broken heart and contrite spirit all is possible! :) We have high hopes that things will work out for them. They had both met missionaries back in Tennessee but moved for Jesse's work. There are small miracles left and right that have been showing them the restored gospel. :) 

Ed and Michele are doing well! Ed had a meeting with the bishop and is planning on getting the priesthood pretty soon. We are so excited for him! Today is actually his one month mark since he got baptized!!! I can't believe that it's been that long already.... They got me a cute, green Christmas scarf. So cute! love them. 

We had a less active member named Shawn come to church for the first time in YEARS. A member of the bishopric was totally floored when he saw him at church. We had a lesson with him and he is really just trying to change his life around for the better. I've come to learn on the mission how sweet the joy and spirit is of those that need not just to be found... but those that need to be rescued. There are so many members of the church that have lost their way and simply just need direction and love to know how to feel the love of the Savior again. It's so exciting to see them return! We had another less active couple return and go to church for the past two weeks as well and hope that we can continue helping them return.

Dakota is getting baptized this next Saturday! We are so happy that this time has finally come for him. He is such a sweet kid. I can't believe that he is Rilee's age... just blows my mind. He's got good support within the family and within the ward so we see a bright future for him. Continue to keep him in your prayers especially during this last week before his baptism! 

On Friday we had a Trainer Follow up Meeting. It went really well and we all received great advice. President was also very pleased to tell us that all of the trainees were adjusting well. I know that Sister Bracken is doing really well! I love her! 

After we had a Christmas Mission Conference! It was my first time being together with the whole mission. It was super fun to see all of my old companions and other missionary friends that I have made these past 6 1/2 months! You really do make life long friends out here in the mission. I love them so much! It's funny how much more you realize you love your companions after they are gone... cause once you see them  again you get so excited! haha! As I mentioned last week, I was asked to give a musical number for the conference. I played 'Oh Holy Night' and felt really good about it! :) I had a lot of people compliment and thank me. Man... you don't realize how much you miss playing the piano (or playing soccer, etc.) until you get a real taste of it. I miss playing!!! I'm getting pretty rusty... it's sad and scary but hopefully I'll be able to pick it back up when I get home. It's all worth it though!! The best part of the Conference was that at the end President Berry read off the lyrics to a song called, 'Strength Beyond My Own', which is all about temples... and then he had us watch this gorgeous music video to the song (and of course the Bountiful temple was the first one it showed!!!). I just knew that President wouldn't torture us about talking about the beauty of the temple unless we would actually be able to go.... the thought of being able to be back inside the temple walls made me start crying. ha I MISS THE TEMPLE SO MUCH. I never thought that I would miss it THAT much. But I do. I miss the peaceful, sweet feeling of the spirit inside and ahhhh I just yearn to go back.... anyways, President Berry was being the sweet man that he is... and announced that we can now go, as a mission, to the temple once in January and once in July!!!!!!!!!!!! =D I'M SO EXCITED! Seriously... the best Christmas present that President Berry could have given us. It was such a joyous feeling hugging and crying with all these other missionaries that were also so excited to go back to the temple. It's a moment that I will never forget. It reminds me of when the Kirtland temple was first built and how the Saints gathered together rejoicing with having a temple. There really were no words to express how happy we all were when we found out. I hope that I never take the blessing of the temple for granted ever again. It has been such a big blessing in my life. "I love to see the temple.... I'll go inside... in January!!!!" haha :) 

Today we had District P-day and we made graham cracker houses!! Glad that I was able to keep the tradition going ;) We made a Florida home during Christmas.... which consists of bright colored homes, lots of green and water... and Sister Missionaries!!! ;) haha I'll have to send you a picture :) 

Well, I better go.... but I'll see you on WEDNESDAY!!!! ah!!! I'm soo excited to talk to some of you guys and see your faces!!!! I LOVE YOU!!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!


Sister Kirkham

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Katie shares "All within a couple hours, we had three new investigators and one new former investigator to teach! Happy Birthday to me!!!...It was definitely a gift from God."

                                                                                      December 16, 2013

I seriously can't remember much of what happened this past week…It's all a blur. haha I'll try my best to remember! 

My birthday was a very happy birthday! Thanks so much for all the sweet gifts and love that you sent my way. It means so much. I love you!! It's super weird to think that I'm the big TWO-ONE!!! ahhh.... weird!  Also weird to think that I'm now less than a year away until I'm done with my mission.... didn't I just get out here?? How in the world have I been out this long?! Hahaha! The day of my birthday we had interviews with President Berry. Everyone there greeted me with 'Happy Birthdays" and I had an interesting interview with the President! The whole interview was pretty much about online proselyting in the near future. I don't know a whole lot other than out there somewhere is a chance that we will be starting Facebook, etc. at the New Year.... we will see! Honestly, I'm a little intimidated to get on Facebook... haha! It will just be weird. I'm excited for the opportunities that are ahead to help move the work forward though :) 

After interviews, ALL of our appointments fell through... ugh. Those days aren't the best. We just followed up on our back up plans though and saw many miracles! We tried dropping by a less active's home and they weren't there so we started knocking on doors. We knocked on the 3rd door and this man named Cord came out and immediately sat us down to teach him. His mom who lives a little ways up north is reading the Book of Mormon right now and he was interested in learning more. We taught him the Restoration and he wanted us to come back. Literally FIVE seconds after leaving Cord's home, this lady was walking onto the sidewalk from getting out of her car and asked us what we were doing. We told her who we were and she invited us into her house! We went inside and taught her and her husband and they have been reading the Book Mormon! We left their place and we decided to try dropping by a former Investigator (Jason's) home who lived a couple doors down. As we were walking up to the front door, Jason leaned over the balcony above the front door saying, 'Hi'. He said that he had seen us walking around and hoped that we would come by his place. Apparently missionaries had started teaching him back in the summer but after both of those missionaries left the area, the two new missionaries that white-washed the area either lost contact or didn't try seeing him.... so he was super excited to have us there! All within a couple hours, we had three new investigators and one new former investigator to teach! Happy Birthday to me!!! haha! It was definitely a gift from God. I don't think I've ever seen anything like that so far on my mission. It was awesome :) I was very spoiled by some members in the ward as well. Brother Westcott doorbell ditched a bouquet of flowers off (and we saw the whole thing through our window hahaha), What a great guy! Ed and Michele gave me a Christmas teddy bear with the year '2013' on the foot along with a big ice cream cake from Ritter's that they handed out at a scripture study class later that night. So cute of them!! I also received a lot of  texts and calls as well. Let's just say that I felt very loved. Thank you so much for all of the cardigans and things! I will love those for the winter time. It really was such a great way to celebrate my 21 years of life! haha :) 

We had a lesson with Wayne again. His member friend from Orlando that gave us the referral came to the lesson. The spirit was super strong in the lesson. We had tried committing him to baptism before but he kept putting it off and talking about "next summer". At the end of the lesson, I had a very strong prompting to invite him to baptism. I did, and he said 'yes'! I didn't feel like it was the right timing to push him to commit a date yet though. So we are getting there ;) It was such a miracle though! He commented on how at the last lesson he wouldn't have said 'yes'. We asked him what had changed and he said that he is coming to know Jesus Christ more than he ever has in his life and it's changing him. We really are seeing changes with him and hope that things will work out for Wayne :) He's a great guy. He lost the bottom half of one of his legs last year... but he has the best attitude about it. He is actually carving out a wooden leg! It's sick! hahaha! I promise I will get a picture and send it to you :) It's just so him. He was a former sailor and he has carved out a black anchor on the front of it. So awesome. 

We went over to a less active's home called the Santana's. They fed us Puerto Rican food (super good!) and then we had a lesson with them. They opened up to us and told us why they hadn't been going to church. It was a big miracle for them to do that... they haven't told anyone else about it. We talked through things and they decided that they would go to the Ward Christmas Party and church this weekend. They went to both and I think they felt very loved, missed and welcomed back into the ward. I sure hope that they continue coming. They are a great couple. Please keep them in your prayers! 

This next week is going to be super crazy. Our whole week is pretty much already full and scheduled. That's NEVER happened to me, not even close. We are being soo blessed right now!! We are working super hard but are seeing so many blessing from doing so. :) I'm a little nervous about this next Friday though... the Assistants asked me to give a musical number at a Mission Christmas Devotional.... yes, the whole mission will be there.... first time I've been with the whole mission. ah!! There is a member in the ward that has some piano music... so I'm going to be playing a version of 'O Holy Night' on the piano... I don't have much time to practice it because of our crazy schedule... so PLEASE PRAY FOR ME. hahahaha I'm getting pretty nervous about it. I'm honored to play though! 

Well, I can't believe that we are almost a week away until I get to Skype you! ah! I'm sooo excited to talk and SEE you guys! ah it will be the best Christmas gift I could ask for :) I still don't have a specific time of day for sure of when I will Skype you guys... but keep your Skype open, ready and waiting in the afternoon. I will for sure email you next Monday with a more specific time. I love you guys so much! I hope that you are enjoying having Christmas Break. Angie, GOOD LUCK WITH FINALS! You'll be awesome, I'm sure. I love you!!!! 


Sister Kirkham

Sunday, December 15, 2013

New Smyrna Beach pics

I'm a trainer


So... I have to let you know.... I will be getting my first daughter/TRAINEE tomorrow!!!! AHH!!! hahaha :) gotta love missionary lingo ;) but seriously, I've been called to train! I'm super excited... but super nervous. I know that it's going to be a very humbling experience for me. I'm very excited to love and serve my trainee with all my heart :) I just pray and hope that I'll be able to help her feel loved, welcomed and help her confidence grow as a daughter of God and as a missionary. The first couple months as a missionary can be a roller coaster ride and with Christmas around the bend it might be a little shaky. But I have faith that a lot of great things are going to come from these next several transfers! Since I am training (which takes 12 weeks/3 months) I will most likely be here in New Smyrna Beach for a total of 6 months! 1/3 of my mission! That is kind of a weird thought... but I'm very grateful for it. I'm so grateful that I'm going to be surrounded by the people of this area for the holidays and to be with Ed and Michele longer. I was so worried I was going to leave!

Saturday night I found out about transfers. It was pretty crazy. My District Leader, Elder Flood, called us and started talking about Sister Damato leaving... we were super confused with how he knew she was leaving because we usually wouldn't know about transfers until Monday morning in an email. We didn't believe Elder Flood until the Zone Leaders called us and told us that Sister Damato really was leaving! Within MINUTES after getting off the phone with the Zone Leaders, President Berry's ringtone went off and my stomach did a couple flip flops... President then asked if I would train! Apparently there are only 4 sisters coming in this transfer... and there is only 1 other sister out of the other 25 sisters that I came out with that have yet been trainers, so that was flattering to hear from the President! But I also know that I've been asked to train because I have a lot to learn. Please keep my trainee and myself in your prayers. I'm sure I will have a lot to talk about next Monday! :) While we were on the phone with the President, he also told us that he has changed how transfers how happening. From now on if there is a change in transfers, the zone leaders will call those that will be leaving and let them know. Then those missionaries that received a call will meet at the Wetherby chapel in Orlando for a devotional, the announcement of companionships and areas, departing missionary testimonies and lunch! Sounds fun but also stressful! That will be crazy to find out who you are with and where you are going like that! It should be fun though :)

This past week we saw quite a few members because of Thanksgiving. In the morning, we had quite a few extra miles on our car so we decided to take an hour and heart attack several of our members to say "thank you". My adrenalin got pumping a little when we thought we were going to get caught! haha! We went over to the former bishop's home at 1:00 p.m. for Thanksgiving. Four different old women in the family started talking about how I should start writing their missionary, Jeff, who is serving out in California... it was sooo funny. Sister Damato was making fun of me so much and I was trying so hard not to laugh! hahaha! We went over a couple days later to rake leaves for one of those same elderly women and she pulled out all these pictures of the missionary and kept bringing up how I should write him... hahaha People are trying to set me up out here!! haha! But no worries. I've got my "missionary goggles" on tight!!! Later, on Thanksgiving evening, we went over to the Stelflick's home and had dinner with them and the Call family (the Jessup's friends)! It was a lot of fun to be with them :)

We had a member cancel on us last second to come to a lesson with Wayne... we had tried getting a hold of everyone that we could... and I had this thought come to mind that we should ask Ed to come! Ed was super excited to come and he was SOO awesome in the lesson! :) I was bursting with pride as I watched him bear his testimony of how he came to know of the truth and how it touched his life. It was a really neat experience. It was also a miracle and answer to prayer... Ed surprisingly related very well with Wayne. It was great!! =D Ed is so awesome.

Yesterday, Wayne came to church for the first time. He hadn't ever been to another church service other than Catholic. He kept saying the whole time that he felt very comfortable. There seemed to be more members than usual that came up and welcomed him (which is always such a relief as a missionary). He felt very welcomed and loved. Long story short... a member ended up taking him into High Priest third hour. They were talking about how they needed 3 men to be Wise Men for New Smyrna Beach Christmas parade float that the ward is apart of. Wayne immediately raised his hand and volunteered to be one!! Sweet!! Wayne knows and understands a lot about the church. He has been a little hard to teach because he seems to focus more on making everything logical instead of focusing more on his feelings... so we are working with him on feeling and recognizing the spirit. He is great though! Ed really helped with that during the lesson... he said that as a cop he has always had to look for reasons and evidence to everything but once he put all that aside and humbled himself so that he could receive inspiration, it came :) I have high hopes for Wayne!

We also were finally able to set a baptismal date with Dakota for December 28th! I have seen so many miracles out here... it's awesome! We will be blessed to see at least one baptism a month out here! It truly is evidence that the Lord is hastening His work :)

Well, I better get going... we have a lot to do to get Sister Damato packed, as well as prepare for my trainee to come tomorrow!! =D I hate to ask for prayers, but I would really appreciate if you sent up some prayers for my trainee and I. Thank all so much for all that you do! I love you!!!!!!!


Sister Kirkham

P.s. 6 months down!!!! one year to go! :)