Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Called to be a Sister Training Leader, Ed passed the sacrament for the first time, Katie loves the people of New Smyrna Beach ward

                                                                                          February 24, 2014

I really don't even know where to start in expressing my emotions that I have had living my last week in Port Orange. It's going to be super tough to leave but I am also excited to start a new chapter of my mission. Last week, President Berry asked me if I would accept the calling of Sister Training Leader. The assignment would begin this next transfer. A Sister Training Leader is the highest calling a sister missionary can receive and similar  to being a Zone Leader. Sister Training Leaders, (STLs) are over the sisters in their zone. It's going to be a big responsibility but I feel at peace about it. I know that it will be a challenge but if Heavenly Father believes that I'm ready for this calling, than I guess I'm ready! The Lord qualifies those whom He calls... but please keep me in your prayers that I can be an example, strength, and support to these sisters I will be serving. I don't yet know where I am going. I will find out tomorrow morning at the transfer meeting and, at the same time, I’ll find out who my new companion is!! They are doing transfers differently now... kind’ve crazy!

Yesterday will definitely be one of the most memorable days of my mission. The bishop asked if I would say the opening prayer in Sacrament meeting as well as share my testimony. Right before I went up to bear my testimony, I watched Ed pass the sacrament for the first time!! I can't explain to you how much joy I felt as I saw Ed happily passing the sacrament.... the sacrament has always been a big deal to Ed because when he was part of the Catholic church they wouldn't allow him to take communion after he had been divorced. It was so amazing to see Ed, not only be worthy to partake of the sacrament again and to feel of the grace of the Savior, but to see him pass and give others the opportunity. The Lord has blessed me to have seen so many blessings come to Ed, Michele and so many others. I will be eternally grateful for the time that I have had here. I had been crying during sacrament meeting...I was already a huge mess when Bishop Webb asked me to come up right after the sacrament was passed to share my testimony. I'm pretty sure I stood up at the pulpit for a full minute before I could compose myself...hahaha…I finally started though!! I can't remember everything that I said, but I just had such an overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude for the people of the New Smyrna Beach ward as well as for the Savior. I bore my testimony of our Savior, my gratitude for all of the any miracles and blessings I have been able to witness and the stronger foundation I have found in Christ while I have served here. I said that one of the main things that comes to mind from serving in this area is found in 1 Thessalonians 2:8  "So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us." How true that statement is!! I truly do feel like I have put my whole heart and soul into serving these people. I have never felt greater joy and love than I have being here. As I was walking back to my seat, a sister from the ward got up and gave me a big hug... haha and then I sat down next to Ed and Michele. Michele wrapped her arm around me for the rest of the meeting.

Ah! I don't want to leave.... but I know that it's the Lord's will and that He has other work for me to do. He has other people I need to serve and to love. He has other blessings and miracles I am to witness and be apart of as I follow His will. This morning, I read a passage in Luke that was a good reminder to me. Luke 9: 61, 62  "And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house (or in Port Orange!). And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

I think you all know that I have always had a really hard time with goodbyes... but the Lord is right, I need to look forward in faith, that wonderful life that is ahead of me, and not live in the past of being here in Port Orange. I will always keep this time of my life very close to my heart along with the dear people. I also know that there is so much that lies ahead in these last 9 months of my mission!

I know that this truly is Christ's church. There are too many miracles, blessings and PURE JOY from the spirit that comes from doing this amazing work. As Paul says in Thessalonians 5:21, "Prove all things; hold FAST that which is good." This work and this gospel is not just good…it is sooo great! If you ever doubt or if you want to find more direction and happiness in your life, I can promise you that this gospel has an outpouring of blessings awaiting those that grasp and hold firmly to truth.

I love you guys so much!! Thank you for your example, support and love. You are always in my prayers!!


Sister Kirkham

Monday, February 17, 2014

Jesse and Meradith were baptized this weekend!...transfers are coming up...Katie feels homesick for this area already


This past week seriously flew by. I really can't even remember everything that happened. haha! I will do my best to relay some of the highlights of the week:

I believe I mentioned Meradith's preparation for baptism in my last email but I'll recap a little. So last Sunday, we had a lesson with Jesse and Meradith. Long story short, things were getting really crazy with them and we weren't sure if we should continue teaching them for various reasons. We went through the baptismal interview questions, stressing the importance of being as honest as they could be so we could help them. We were going through the questions to just get a better understanding of their progression and understanding. We had started the lesson thinking that there was a big possibility of dropping both of them.. but to our surprise, the spirit was very present in the room as they both talked about everything they have come to know and love about this gospel. Meradith began to cry as she told us that she truly believed that this was Christ's one and only church and that she would "do the whole nine yards to be a member." She recognized the great sacrifice that the Savior had made for her and she didn't see any problem in making smaller sacrifices in return for Him. She then literally BEGGED us for her to be baptized. It was so powerful... at the time, Jesse was very honest and said that he was not ready yet for baptism so we set up a baptismal interview for Tuesday

At the baptismal interview on Tuesday, our District Leader was on exchanges with one of the Zone Leaders. As Meradith was in her interview, Jesse told us that the night before he had really been praying for direction and had this numbing feeling go from his head to his toes and everything just clicked and made sense. He then told us that he wanted to be baptized! Honestly, I was so taken back by it and had found peace just a few nights earlier that he wasn't quite ready for baptism that I didn't know what to say... we told him that we were excited for him and that we would prayerfully make a decision on how to help him reach baptism. Later that day, we got a call from the zone leader that was there and he put us in our place, asking us why Jesse wasn't getting baptized. hahaha! I don't know why, but I was so hesitant and nervous about it all because the transformation that took place in Jesse and Meradith had been so quick. My mission leaders advised me to go ahead and baptize both Jesse and Meradith together!!! So, Jesse had an interview the next day by that same zone leader and they were all set to go!! The only worry was the bishop. The bishop had not seen their transformation and he was very against them getting baptized. We talked to him over the phone about it and I was so distraught and confused after talking... I talked to some of our mission leaders again about it and they asked, "Sister Kirkham, do you believe that Jesse and Meradith have truly repented and have a sincere desire to keep the covenants they make at baptism?" I did... but I was still struggling with it for some reason. We invited Bishop to a lesson the next night over at the Stress's home and the lesson was so peaceful! I felt ten times better after that lesson. I learned many lessons this week, one being to do God's will, no matter how out of whack it might seem in the moment.

It was a little crazy putting together a baptism in such short time, but they have had such good fellowship from the ward that everyone pitched in and the service went wonderful!! 

On Sunday, to everyone's surprise, President and Sister Berry showed up for the confirmation of Jesse and Meradith. President and Sister Berry also brought along their home ward bishop and his wife! It was fun to meet them. After the meeting, President came up to me and told me just enough about transfers next week that it's got me in a solemn, homesick feeling for this area... he also told me some other news that I can't tell you for another week.... but PLEASE keep me in your prayers as I prepare for this next part of my mission. I will be receiving quite a bit of responsibility and will need all the direction that I can. 

It has been so, very neat to see Port Orange progress so rapidly in the Lord's work over these past 6 months. There have been so many miracles and I know that this area is going to see so many more as the missionaries and the people continually strive to be an instrument in the Lord's hands. I hope that one day some of you will have the opportunity to meet some of these amazing people here. This time here in Port Orange will forever be in my heart. I could never forget these past 6 months!! 

Remember the beautiful simplicity of following God's will. He truly does know what is best for you and His children. Trust Him. Love Him. Know that He will protect and guide you. He knows what will bring you the biggest blessings--even if you can't see them at the moment. 

Thank you for all of the Valentine's treats and cards. I feel very loved. Know that I love all of you more!!!!!!! haha! Until next week!! 


Sister Kirkham

2 more baptisms Sunday 16th February

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Crystal's Baptism!

                                                               February 10, 2014
Hey Family!!!

I want to start off this email by wishing Dad and Grandpa a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!! Love you so much!!!! Second, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!!! I love each of you so much and am so grateful for you!!! MUAH!!!!! Big Squeeze!!! Haha!

This past week was another super crazy week but so full of miracles! We met with Crystal and Brother Dayton every day this past week leading up to her baptism. It was a hard week for her.... there were a lot of family and friends that had a lot of negative things to say and questioned her decision to be baptized but she was so strong. I have learned soooo much from her and Brother Dayton and their love and trust to follow God's will. I wish I had more time to talk more in depth but Crystal is just so neat!! Although I already have a strong testimony of this church and gospel, witnessing someone like Crystal, who has been feed as much anti-material you can imagine, put her full trust in God's will and follow the spirit in being baptized just reconfirms to me of how true this is. I love these moments on the mission where you can see God manifesting His truths to people.... it's so powerful. On Saturday, the day before her baptism, she was struggling (not with her testimony but with emotions of family and friends) and we were praying hard to know what we needed to talk about in our lesson with her. We felt like we needed to watch the Restoration video with her so we sat down and watched it. She cried through it and when it finished she just started bearing her testimony of how she knows this is true. She was just so overjoyed and overwhelmed with the spirit as she saw that Joseph Smith also went through a lot of tribulation for what he knew to be true.... there were a lot of people that thought he was crazy... but just like him, Crystal could not deny the truth and that the spirit had testified of it. It was such a beautiful lesson and it really turned her whole day around to prepare for her baptism in the morning.  Once again, I love being used as a tool in God's hands to help people!!!

Sunday was such a beautiful, miracle-filled day as well :) Crystal's baptism was at 7:30 a.m. (early day for us missionaries!) and it was a PACKED house! We were all so wonderfully surprised!! Crystal's mom came and she cried through the first hymn... although I know this is the right path to happiness, it killed me to see a mother in pain like that.... Brother Dayton's family flew in from Provo for the baptism and the whole baptismal program was just BEAUTIFUL!!!! Crystal was so happy and just glowing!! Brother Dayton's family invited me to come over for Sunday dinners whenever I want to when I return to B.Y.U. It was sweet of them :) I guess I'll be seeing them next February in Utah at the temple anyway!! ;) I’m so exciting :) 

To make Sunday even better, Ed was ordained to the Priesthood! =D He was beaming and smiling ear to ear. :) :) Brother Dayton is actually his home teacher and ordained him. Like I said, it was such a miracle-filled day. :) 

Crazy miracle... so we had actually been thinking of dropping Jesse and Meradith... long story... haha but we had a lesson with them yesterday that changed everything. At the beginning we emphasized the importance of being as honest as they could so we could best help them, and then we went through the baptismal questions to get a good understanding of where they are at. Meradith was so filled with the spirit, she told us that she knew this was Christ's one and only true church and that it has brought her so much closer to Jesus Christ. She said, “I will go the whole nine yards to be a member.” She said that the sacrifice that Christ made for us was so much bigger than any sacrifice we could ever make and so she was more than willing to do so. She then literally BEGGED us to be baptized... haha! Jesse says that he isn't ready, but we are planning on having a baptismal interview for Meradith tomorrow and have her baptism… ANOTHER baptism this Saturday!! ah!! So crazy..... hahahaha Please keep her and Jesse in your prayers.

This morning we had District P-day at the Daytona Beach! It's just right off of Dunlawton Ave. and Atlantic Ave. if you want to look it up online. I've been there was so fun! Sis. Bracken and I, along with the Sister Training Leaders walked over to a pier and took pictures. It was beautiful! We saw a lot of jellyfish and a Samoan elder actually CAUGHT a big bird!!!! He was just holding it in his hands and the bird was just chillin' there.. hahaha pretty crazy. Anyway, we had to get up at 4:45 this morning to go to the beach.... and after an early morning from the baptism yesterday I'm exhausted..... So I'm going to go take a nap =D haha yay for P-day! 

Please stay close to the Lord and remember Him in all that you do. He is there just waiting for you to learn more of Him and how much He truly does love you. Follow God's will and you conquer. I love you!!!!!! 


Sister Kirkham

Monday, February 3, 2014

Crystal is getting baptized on Feb. 9th, new iPads, teaching via Skype...Miracles and high tech miracles!

                                                      February 3, 2014

This past week has been such a crazy, busy week but I loved it! At the beginning of the week we had zone training and all received iPad Minis to help us with our missionary work. Crazy right? It's been so nice though!! I miss the paper planners.... but I'll get use to it. Literally EVERYTHING is to be used on our iPads to help us with our work. Honestly, my eyes are just not use to staring at a screen....haha…I've had major headaches all week from looking at the iPad screens.... kind’ve pathetic, I know... but it will be great once I'm use to it again! Just a sign of how different missionary life really is. It's pretty cool to say that half of my mission was like the "old missionary era" and the other half will be like the "new missionary era"! We have been able to see so many miracles and blessings from being able to use them already this week though. 

With all of the new things that have happened with technology within the last week or two ... I feel like we literally have no time for anything. On top of our normal daily studies, planning, teaching and finding, we are now suppose to do one hour of training, one hour of Facebook, and one hour of updating the area book onto our iPads everyday...Pus, we are suppose to go to our church building to get on Facebook and that is a 30-minute drive one way... ah! Seriously! There is just not enough time in the day! Haha! I have had a really neat miracle happen on Facebook though. I've been talking back and forth quite a bit with a man that is close friends with the Ketchersid family in Winter Garden. Anyway, we planned to talk on the phone about some things in more detail and oh my goodness! he is just so prepared and ready! I got permission from President and we are planning on having a lesson over Skype this week... it's going to be SO WEIRD. but I'm excited to give it a shot and help out this man. He is so ready and willing to learn! 

Friday morning, we woke up at 5:00 a.m. and drove into Orlando to do an endowment session at the temple!!! It was the first time that I have been to the temple in 8 months... it was sooo neat to be able to go again! The temple really has such a sweet spirit. It was neat to be there with the other missionaries from our zone as well as President and Sister Berry. It was great to see the new and improved session!!!! I definitely cried. I learned so much. I got to sit next to Sister Bracken on my left and Sister Hoyt on my right. It was great to be reunited with some of my companions :) 

Just a rerun on what happened with Crystal two Sundays ago: Crystal and Brother Dayton (young men's president) called us and said that Crystal wanted to take the missionary lessons over again! She had been “anti”-ed really hard last spring by her dad when he found out she was getting baptized. She and Brother Dayton struggled pretty hard with all the trials that came and she stopped taking the lessons. Two weekends ago when Elder Nelson came and spoke at a Regional Conference, Crystal had a lot of questions answered and decided she wanted to take the lessons again... so that's when they called us! Two days later- this past Tuesday- we went over for our second lesson. The first thing she said when she sat down was that she wanted to be baptized... on February 9th!!! haha! (On dad's birthday! and two weeks away at that time!) Because she has had all the lessons before (either from missionaries or Brother Dayton) she already knows everything through and through. She is so strong for being “anti”-ed and still wants to follow God's will. She is such an inspiration! 

Yesterday and last night were very powerful. We fasted for Crystal yesterday because of her plans to call and tell her parents about the baptism last night. Yesterday, Fast and Testimony meeting was great and to make it even better, Crystal and Brother Dayton both bore their testimonies. Crystal went first and just said that it's been a long and rough journey but that she has trusted in God to lead her wherever He wanted her. She then said, "…and He led me here!... that's why I'm here! I know... I KNOW this is true!" It was so powerful! Then Brother Dayton got up and was so overcome with emotion that he stood at the pulpit for quite a few minutes trying to compose himself. He said through tears, "If you are looking for beauty in life... ask God and He will give it to you." He truly has created miracles for them and I'm soo happy for them!! Last night we went over to Crystal’s after she had finished telling her mom over the phone. She said that the conversation ended in peace but that her mom said she had a headache and that her stomach hurt. Crystal was still waiting to call her dad later that night after he got off work. She was super nervous about it. We said a prayer with her and I told her that the first thing that came to my mind when we were trying to decide what would help her was the story of Esther. There is a very powerful Mormon Message on Esther called 'Courage' (look it up!! on!!) that we watched with her. The spirit was very strong and Crystal bawled through it. She said that it couldn't have been any more perfect for her at that time. I told her that just like Esther, she was putting almost everything at risk because she didn't know what the reaction would be of her family, just like Esther didn't know what the reaction would be of the king... but that Esther found strength and courage in the Lord to follow and do what she knew was right. She found so much comfort from that and she said that she had felt a kinship and sisterhood with Esther. Brother Dayton then bore a powerful testimony and we all could feel the spirit so strongly.

Lessons like those just blow my mind because I can see how God truly is using me as an instrument in His hands to help these people. It also reminds me of a part of my patriarchal blessings that says that I will be able to discern the needs of others and lift them up to greater heights. I really felt and saw that last night as I pondered and planned the direction I received while planning out a lesson for her. There have been several times as I plan out a lesson or even while I'm teaching a lesson that an idea or thought will come to mind and I feel a little jolt of energy or excitement go through me as I realize and get a confirmation with how perfect that idea or thought is for the people we are working with. It strengthens my testimony so much in knowing that I truly have been set apart as a representative of Jesus Christ to do His work the way He needs it to be done, at the same time He testifies and reaffirms to me that I truly am worthy of the spirit and of that divine help. What a blessing it is to know that I have been given the authority of God to preach the gospel with the power of the spirit and to teach the hearts of many as we bring them closer to Jesus Christ! I truly am so grateful to be serving a mission. I have seen so many miracles and blessings as I have witnessed people find truth and the joy that comes. My testimony and my love for these people deepens but more importantly my love and understanding of God and Jesus Christ become so much richer. I know this work is the Lord's work and as what Mormon states in 3 Nephi 5:13, "I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of Him to declare His word among His people that they might have everlasting life." 

Please keep Crystal and her family in your prayers this next week as we plan for her baptism. Brother Dayton's family is flying in from Utah on Saturday and they are hoping that Crystal's family will stay for her confirmation at church, so we are having the baptism Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m... woo! I'm very excited for them and so happy to see the Lord truly hastening His work. I love you, I love the Lord, I love this work.... and I love being a missionary!!!! 


Sister Kirkham

Orlando Temple