Monday, June 30, 2014

IIner has a baptismal date! Growing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ by Having the Courage to Live What we Know

Family!                                                                             June 30, 2014

There's a lot that's happened this week but I only have time to highlight two big things! The first one is that we are now teaching Rosemond's friend, Ilner who is also from Haiti. He is really progressing and has a baptismal date! It's amazing how you can see such a big difference in the progression of those that really are prepared and those who aren't prepared to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's exciting to work with him!! The second big thing, I spoke in church on Sunday and really had a great experience preparing and giving the talk. I want to expound more on the things that I learned and the gist of what I spoke about: 

I was asked to talk about growing in the gospel of Jesus Christ by having the courage to live what we know! As I was thinking about this subject I was pondered upon all of the things that I know that are true. As I pondered over these thoughts throughout the week, I felt the spirit so strongly. I know that I am a daughter of God!! That knowledge makes me so happy and helps me see the divine beauty and potential that I have as well as the beauty and importance of all other people around me. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I have come to know this more than ever due to the experiences I am having on my mission. I've come to learn more of WHO He is and how special my relationship with Him is as my brother, Redeemer and friend. What would I do with out Him? I know that Christ's church has been restored to the earth through Joseph Smith and that we have the fullness of His gospel. This gift makes it possible so that we know how to return to live with our Heavenly Father again :) I also know that we have a prophet today, President Thomas S. Monson who is a very humble, kind man that has been given a great responsibility. I know that the Lord qualifies all that are called and that through his divine guidance we can stay safe from the world. I also know that God has given us scripture in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon that give us multiple witnesses and testimonies of our Savior! It has not necessarily been an easy process for me to come to know that these things are true.. I have done a lot of studying and praying, and had the COURAGE to act in faith believing that it's true. As I have done so, I have felt the spirit touch my heart and have seen the great changes that it's made in my life. I know that this gospel is true!! 

So the question I was asking myself all week was... since I know these things are true, what am I willing to do with that knowledge that God has given me? 

I know that as we courageously do what is right, we grow in faith :) We need to have the courage to say “no” when we should, “yes” when appropriate, and to do the right thing because it's right. 

President Monson quoted a Christian author, Charles Swindoll who said,  “Courage is not limited to the battlefield or bravely catching a thief in your house. The real tests of courage are much quieter. They are inner tests, like remaining faithful when no one's looking... like standing alone when you're misunderstood...” President Monson then added, "...the inner courage also includes doing the right thing even though we may be afraid of defending our beliefs at the risk of being ridiculed and maintaining those beliefs even when threatened with a loss of friends or of social status." 

There are so many examples of courage in the scriptures that I love so much! A few are: 

-Abinadi, who was willing to offer his life rather than deny what he knew was true. 
-Moroni, who was the last of his people to believe in Christ and persevered in righteousness to the end.
-The 2,000 stripling warriors, or sons of Helaman, who demonstrated the need for courage by following the righteous teachings of their parents; they were chaste and pure :) 

Alma 53:20 describes these 2,000 sons: "They were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage and also for strength and activity, but behold, this was not all, they were men who were true at all times whatsoever thing they were entrusted." 

We have all felt the spirit at one point or another in our lives testifying of truth. Heavenly Father TRUSTS us with that knowledge and that we will live righteously, according to that knowledge that we receive. These sons were such a great example of that. 

I also love the story of Daniel and his courage. He stood up for what he knew was right and demonstrated the courage to pray though threatened with death if he did so. 

In the story of Daniel, we know that a decree was signed that no one was to ask or petition any Gods or men except the king for 30 days. It's interesting as we read what Daniel did when he heard that! In Daniel 6:10 we read, "…when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his WINDOWS being OPEN in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees THREE times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God as he did aforetime." 

I love that! He was not ashamed to live what he knew was right and true no matter how much the world changed around him. As we know, Daniel was taken and put in a den of lions but God protected him! :) 

What's interesting in this story is the King. The King was a good friend to Daniel and HE was the one that signed the petition! A lot of times our friends and people around us don't know that they are threatening our values and beliefs but when Daniel stood his ground, the King realized what he had done and tried to do all that he could to help Daniel. The King himself ended up fasting the night Daniel was in the lions’ den... and as we all know, when we fast... we also PRAY. Because of Daniel's example, the King went against his own petition and the whole kingdom was encouraged to believe in "Daniel's God". 

In my talk, I also briefly shared my experience of how I came to know that I should go on a mission. To be honest, deciding to go on a mission was one of the hardest decisions that I've ever made but I'm so glad that I followed the spirit and put my trust in the Lord that He would lead me to where I needed to be. When I was trying to figure out if I was supposed to be going on a mission, I was praying hard to get an answer from God but He just didn't seem to be answering me. I knew that if I did ALL that I could that I could rely on the Lord to answer my prayers.. so I started filling out my mission papers and I put a deadline on God, (which was not good!) I thought that He would tell me if I should go or not as I was filling them out... but guess what? I finished my papers and I still hadn't received an answer. I was so frustrated and scared about making the right decision but I knew that God had not told me “NO”... so He was trusting me to make the good decision. It wouldn't have been wrong for me to continue with my schooling and it wouldn't be wrong for me to go on a mission.  I decided to submit my mission papers anyway and now, I'm so grateful that I had the courage to  put my trust in God, believing that He would help me. The spirit has touched me so many times while I've been here in Florida confirming to me that my decision to go on a mission was the best choice for me. I can't imagine missing out on these 18 months here. 

There are many hard decisions that we have to make in life and there are many challenges that we have to face, but I know that as we live all of God's commandments and have the COURAGE to LIVE and STAND UP for what we know to be truth, that we will reap so many more blessings than we ever thought possible. 

Thank you so much for your courage and faith to do what is right and to live it! Thank you for your examples and testimonies. As Dad says... don't just keep the faith, SHARE it!!! 

Love you! 


Sister Kirkham

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I Love This Work and I'm So Grateful To Be Serving Here in Orlando's Olympia Ward!

Family!                                                              23 June 2014

We were so busy that I honestly can't remember anything that happened! haha! Just give me a minute to think…Okay, we went on three exchanges last week...Kill me now! haha! I was so tired! It was great to be with the sisters though and to help them in anyway that I could. 

Last week I was on exchanges here with the Conway sisters and saw a great miracle! We had dinner with the famous Herzog family. They are so awesome! Brother Herzog does the official temple tours and is such a great help with missionary work. He and his family have an awesome view of Disney World from their apartment. You can see the Hogwart’s castle and many of the roller coaster rides! Fun, huh? That's the closest I've seen it! haha! Angie... be jealous! Their family is so great. After dinner they came with us to a lesson with Rosemond (the returning member from Haiti.) Rosemond is so cool! He is so excited to be back and attending church. When we walked into his home, he had a roommate that was sitting at our table. I invited him to join us and he loved the lesson too! Brother Herzog was perfect at answering their questions and invited them to go on a temple tour (that Bro. Herzog runs!) within the next couple days. They were all for it and went!!! Rosemond’s roommate also asked if he could sit in our lessons with Rosemond... which of course we said, "Yes!!" He's great. Rosemond was also able to get work off again this Sunday which is a great miracle. Disney is NOT nice when it comes to getting work off for church... another miracle!!! Brother Herzog picked and dropped Rosemond off for church on Sunday. Later, Brother Herzog called us and said that as he was dropping Rosemond off at home, Rosemond was practically in tears because he was so happy to be back :) 

Wednesday was a super busy but awesome day. We had breakfast with a recent convert, Singh, from Guyana.... he LOOVES spicy food... hahaha He fed us a super spicy breakfast with fish.. not exactly what I would call breakfast food…It's an experience that will go in the journal! Haha! He is such an example of one that has been changed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Last year he was very depressed and had soooo many problems with his life... but when he found the missionaries and the church... it changed his whole life around!! He went from being one that was probably more a burden to society (I mean that the nicest way possible!) He just didn't work and was into bad things...and now he works, serves regularly at the Bishop's Store House, and attends every church event. He is awesome! I love him. 

After breakfast, Sister Welch and I taught a lesson through Facebook to a woman that lives in Apopka, Florida. We taught her the first lesson... and committed her to be baptized... THROUGH FACEBOOK!!!! Crazy Cool right?? We are experiencing so many miracles. I couldn't believe that we had done that! She was soaking in everything that we had to say and wanted to learn as much as she could. We were able to talk to her more yesterday over Facebook and got her information and are sending the Apopka missionaries her way to give her a Book of Mormon and teach her :) :) :) Amazing, right? It's so cool to see how the Lord really is hastening His work. My testimony of sharing the gospel online is growing more and more all the time. It's so weird to think that we have this great relationship with this lady... but we still have never met her before. haha! Maybe one day :) 

We also taught Dave again on Wednesday. We felt impressed to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ next and it went really well!! The spirit is always so strong when we are there teaching Dave. We challenged him to a baptismal date in July and sadly he said no...but it's because he is the kind of guy that will follow through with his word. I’ll be honest, usually when moments like that happen I get kind’ve nervous about investigator’s progression... but both Sister Welch and I felt very at peace with it. He is studying and praying so much! This past Sunday was a test of faith for Dave to see if he would come to church because his wife was out of town. On Wednesday we invited him to church on Sunday but he was pretty noncommittal. On Sunday we didn't see him when we first got to church. The 1st Counselor in the Stake Presidency gave a talk in our Ward Conference and related fitness to a principle of the gospel. In the middle of his talk, he gave a shout out to Dave!!! Sister Welch and I spun around in our seat to see Dave!!!! He came to church without his wife! He had a big grin on his face :) He is so awesome. We are continually praying hard for him that he will receive the answers to his prayers and recognize those answers :) 

This weekend was super crazy because we had two back-to-back exchanges. Yeaaahhh…I went to the Windy Ridge Spanish area and guess what...! I bore my testimony in Spanish!! =D I was so proud of myself. I said it pretty well too :) 

Saturday, I was on exchanges with Sister Bracken and Sister Salvesen (from South Africa) in the YSA ward. I went there with Sister Salvesen. We were able to teach a lesson to a kid that Sister Hoyt and I found on the street a whole year ago!!! It was such a miracle when we found him last year. He had just moved from Spain and was about to let go of the church...but we found him and past him off to the YSA and he is active and doing great!! It was sooo cool to see him a year later and see how he is doing. The Lord truly does put you where he needs you at the right time. 

There are so many other great things that happened this week. We are working super hard! 24 lessons and 78 contacts total last week! Ok… numbers don't mean everything but…Seriously, you feel it after having so many exchanges in one week as well.

I love this work and am so grateful to be serving here in the Olympia ward!!! 

I love you! 


Sister Kirkham 

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Miracle of Prayer


There are several great stories from this past week that I hope I have time to share with you today!! 

Last Monday, we had dinner at a returning member’s home and they STUFFED us so full... by the time they pulled out the little cupcakes for dessert, I seriously couldn't eat another bite without getting sick. I had this cute little cupcake in my hands and while no one was watching me, I shoved it into my napkin and no one noticed!!! I felt kind’ve bad.... but seriously, the life of a missionary requires ridiculous eating sometimes haha! My companion Sister Welch, laughed at me after dinner when she realized what I did. She is always so nice and finishes my dinner for me when the members aren't looking.... hahaha! 

On Tuesday, we taught Dave Helsel the first lesson! The spirit was really strong as we told him about the Restoration of the Gospel.  He is already somewhat familiar with some of the doctrine but he had great questions that really invited the spirit. Let me, backtrack for a minute…so during my last transfer, I got this impression that I needed to be focusing a lot more on recognizing the spirit and following the impressions I receive. Well, I've definitely seen blessings come from doing that. I had this impression while saying my nightly prayers that we needed to share a video by Elder Bednar. It’s about receiving personal revelation and “How To Begin Teaching.” I’m so grateful that we reviewed it before we started teaching and shared it with Dave during the lesson.  He totally understands the need to be able to recognize and follow the promptings of the spirit. It has just put so much more depth and understanding into our lessons and into his personal studies. He said that he feels good about everything that he hears but that he just wants to gain a testimony of it. 

To finish up the story of Dave...we also saw him Thursday night! He had read a little from the Book of Mormon and had done some serious studies. He also had great questions! We spent that lesson talking more about the Book of Mormon, the spirit, and prayer. We found out during the lesson that he didn't think that he had ever really had an experience with getting an answer to prayer or receiving a prompting from the spirit... he just doesn't know what the spirit feels like. We read Moroni 10:4-5 and promised him that he would feel the spirit as he reads, prays, has a sincere heart and show real intent! I had an impression to point out to Dave that to show God our real intent we need to show him that we are willing to give up or do anything that the He asks of us. I pointed out that he would need to show God that he is willing to give up beer and coffee to come to know that it's true and recognize the spirit. (He already knows a little about the Word of Wisdom because of his member wife.) 

On Sunday, we talked to his wife at church and she said that Dave has been writing down impressions that he is receiving!!! He is trying really hard to recognize the spirit. =D He has also quit drinking beer and coffee!! Here's a funny story his wife told us. Because he has quit drinking, he has had a hard time sleeping at night. Sister Helsel suggested that he pray and ask for help to be able to sleep better at night so he did Saturday night and he fell asleep on his knees praying! haha! When he got into bed, he didn't wake up ONCE which apparently is a big thing for him because he is a light sleeper. He woke up Sunday morning and told Sister Helsel in Sacrament meeting about it and that he needed to write that experience down :) :) ahh!!! I was soooo happy to hear of those little miracles happening in Dave's life!! I don't think I've ever prayed so hard for someone as I have for Dave. I hope and pray that he will continue to feel the spirit and have the courage to follow it. Please keep him in your prayers! 

This past week, I was on exchanges with a sister that is in her first transfer. We met an Indian woman that loved what we said about the Book of Mormon. She believed what we said was true. It was a great contact but she wouldn't commit to us coming back because of her husband. I did recognize it as a great miracle and blessing that we met her but not as much as I should have! This young sister that I was with was so ecstatic about it and thought it was the biggest miracle that she had ever seen! It was a great reminder to me that we really do see so many amazing miracles everyday -big and small- and to never take them for granted. There are so many things to be thankful for and Heavenly Father is so merciful!!! I hope to better recognize those small miracles in my life the way this young sister did. It was a great reminder and lesson learned :) 

We also had dinner with a recent convert and her grandson, Allen. We pulled up 3 minutes after the hour and Allen, the 9-year old boy, was outside and came running over to our car! He said, "It's 5:03!! I've been waiting forever!!" I asked him how long he had been waiting outside and he said that he had been standing outside waiting for about 45 minutes… hahahaha it was so cute. I love that kid. Last time we were over he gave Sister Welch and I this little wooden angel and now it’s sitting between our desks :) 

We also taught two online lessons over Facebook this week! We contacted this lady... and we committed her to be baptized over Facebook after we taught her about the Book of Mormon and Restoration!!! How cool is that?!! She lives in Apopka, Florida so we will have to pass her on to missionaries in that area when she feels ready and comfortable to meet with them. So many miracles!!

I wish I had more time to share more... but I love this work! I love being a missionary! I love the small and big miracles that are always right in front of us! I love the spirit and the power of prayer! I love being a servant for the Lord. I know that this is where the Lord needs me at this time in my life and I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm so grateful for this gospel and for the woman that it is helping me to become. 

Thank you for all your love and prayers! Good luck this next week! 


Sister Kirkham

Monday, June 9, 2014

Record breaking week--24 lessons, 11 member-present lessons

                                                                                                June 9, 2014

I'm so sorry... I'm running out of time to email... I have to admit that I spent a big part of my time sending an email for Jane's wedding!!! It seriously won't hit me that I'm missing Jane's wedding until I come home in December and see that ring on her finger... I've cried a little bit in the Family History Center today. I miss her so much but I'm SOOOO happy for her!!!! She looks so beautiful and so happy! Since when were we old enough to marry? Who knew?! 

This past week was FULL of great things!! This is the best week that I've ever had number wise on the mission. We taught 24 lessons, 11 of those were member-present lessons and Sister Welch and I are just on fire here in Olympia!! We have been working super hard to get this area moving and things are coming! 

I don't even know where to begin... so I'll just start with the biggest miracle that happened this week! 

There is a 30-year old part-member couple that have been like the dream people to teach for all missionaries here in this area. They are just perfect in every way. Well, for many months missionaries as well as the home teacher have gone in to a lesson with full intent to invite them to meet with missionaries... but during their visits the spirit would tell them not to.... well, last night their home teacher asked us to come along for the home teaching lesson... and we didn't know what to expect or what his plans were because he wouldn't tell us... which was a little nerve racking... but long story short, the spirit was super strong in the room and the home teacher invited the husband, Dave, to take the lesson from us :) The spirit was super strong and I felt impressed to share with him the scriptures James 1:5 and a scripture on the "still small voice" in Kings. After we had read James 1:5, he said that scripture has always pressed on his mind because that was the first scripture that his wife had ever recited to him when they first were getting to know each other. Then we talked about the power of the Holy Ghost and how it usually isn't a big feeling that shakes you awake but a small, good feeling inside. We then asked if he would say the closing prayer and ask to come to know if the things we are teaching are true by the spirit. We all knelt in prayer and he offered it... sooooo powerful!!!! You guys, I'm not kidding when I say this..... if Dave becomes a member of the church... he will one day be AT LEAST a bishop. He is amazing. I feel so honored yet a little intimidated and humbled that Heavenly Father has given me this amazing opportunity to teach him.... but I'm SOOOO EXCITED!!! 

Just so show how cool he is I want to try and recap a story of him and his wife before they married a couple years ago: 

Both Dave and his wife are major runners and athletes. Sister Helsel (his wife) was running in a Boston Marathon a couple of years ago. It was one of the hottest days (record breaking heat!) for a marathon. She had only run about half of the marathon and was very hot and exhausted. Dave was waiting to cheer her on at about mile 17 and when he saw her he knew that she was in trouble and was really guess what he did? In his normal everyday clothes, he jumped into the race and ran along side her, giving her words of encouragement and support by always being by her side.... and they were able to finish the race!!!!! It touched me so much in two ways.... 1. That is a sign of true love right there... 2. It made me think of how the Savior does that for us all the time. He knows when we are struggling and I know that He is ALWAYS by our side... whether we realize it or not. He walks (or runs) with us, trying to guide us and give us strength to make it to the finish line. 


Well, sadly I'm out of time... but I'll try and write more later!!! 

I love you all so much! Once again, please give Jane (and Alex!) a big hug for me and tell her that I love her. 


-Sister Kirkham