Sunday, July 6, 2014


Well this week has been the weirdest week of my life! But I am happy to report that I am still alive. =)
 Coming home off a mission is one of the most tear gripping, entertaining, confusing roller coaster rides EVER! As I was sitting on the plane just about to land at the Salt Lake City airport I could feel my anxiety heighten but with the anxiety came excitement. I was so excited to see the family that I haven't seen in person for 18 months and yet again I was soo nervous. It was a wonderful experience to come down the escalator to see 3 huge families waiting for their missionaries to come home! It was an experience that warranted the tears. It was such a relief to be with my family and once I was all the anxiety melted away.
 It was almost torture to wait to be released at 7 pm but it came quickly. As I was being released I could definitely feel the added measure of spirit leaving. It was heart breaking but at the same time I felt well prepared for it. I knew it was coming and I also felt in my heart that it was okay for it to happen. I know that even though it will be hard to not have it 24/7 I still have access to it. I have made the goal to study each and every day as long as I possibly can (meaning up to an hour if I have time for it). It is there in my studies that I feel the influence of the spirit the most. It is so comforting and calming. It sets the day off right. It makes me more mindful of the things that I do during the day to keep that spirit around. 
There is nothing quite like being a missionary one minute and then suddenly the next minute you aren't a missionary anymore. Once you are released you suddenly have all the possibilities of things to do yet I often find myself staring off in the distance trying to decide what to do next. I have no planner, no plans and a big list of questions. Some of the questions are When do I go find a job? Where will I find a job? How do people contact me (I have no cell phone)? etc. It took about 3 days but I finally got brave enough to get on Facebook. Its amazing of all the things that happen in 18 months! Truly Fascinating! Other things that have fascinated me are how well trained my body is to wake up after 8 hours of sleep, how different my reactions are to things, and how much I have truly grown closer to my Savior. I knew there were things that would change as I changed but I didn't realize just how much I would need to continue to change regarding myself as I settled back in. I reference the movies I now watch, the conversations I now participate in, how I respond to comments, and how I treat my family members. All these changes are for the better and if it wasn't for the mission I would never have been able to see the changes that still need to take place. So coming home is not only the strangest and hardest thing ever it is the most rewarding. I imagine that going home to Heavenly Father will feel much like coming off a mission. So my advice is to never stop looking for the changes that we can make. Our full time missions may be over but our mission here on earth isn't, so we must make the most of it =) Love You! 
Hurrah for Israel!
Randall Cottrell (that's still weird) 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Last One!

This is her last letter to us, from Sister Cottrell's mission. We have loved having her serve, we will really miss these weekly letters, but we are so excited to have her back home again! She comes home tomorrow!

Well I am faced with 2 choices. I could either tell you all about the week or I could share something else. I might do a little of both.
This week I had the opportunity to go to the temple twice. On Wednesday I went with the mission and enjoyed getting to see so many missionaries that I love very much. Then onFriday just the departing missionaries went. I got to ride with the other sister going home in Pres. Halls car. We enjoyed the ride down and talked about our missions and the memories he has of his mission so far. It was quite insightful. I love President Hall so much. The session was amazing and the spirit was so strong in the Celestial room. While there I started to pray. I hadn't been able to come up with a question to take to the temple so I just prayed. I am so glad that I didn't have a question because I would have totally missed what he had to tell me. In my prayer I heard the words, "Its okay your mission is ending. Its time for you to go home." The peace that accompanied it was overwhelming. I had been having little panic attacks over the matter and needed to be comforted and calmed. As I sat in the temple I could think of nothing but the peace. I didn't want to leave the serenity with in its walls. But the time eventually came to leave. 
Over the next couple days we continued to work hard and to do the very best we could to share the gospel. On Sunday night I had my departing interview with President. Normally I could expect he would ask me questions. This time it was just a conversation. The things we talked about were very interesting and were all tailored to the next chapter in my life. I had been warned in a letter from Pres. Hall that he would be asking me if I had been faithful to my mission call. For days I had been asking myself if my mission was worth it to the Lord. I know that it had been worth it to me but I was wondering if it was worth it to him. At the very end of the interview President Hall gave me a blessing. It was such a sweet blessing and a very special one at that. Its not everyday that your mission President gives you a blessing. At the very beginning of the blessing I had the distinct impression that the Lord had accepted my efforts as a missionary and that my mission was worth it to Him. Then President Hall told me as a voice for Heavenly Father "Well done thou good and faithful Servant." (Matt, 25:21) It was so wonderful to feel the burden lifted. 
As I have been reviewing my mission in my mind there are certain things I have learned that I could have only learned on the mission. I am so grateful for all those lessons. They were learned through trial and at points I couldn't see why I was going through the trail but I am very grateful for them. 
I will close with my testimony:
I know that this is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know that the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was necessary so that we could have the fullness of the gospel on the earth. I know that Joseph Smith as a young boy had a question. I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and answered his questions by telling him that Christs church was not on the earth. I know that in the coming years Joseph Smith was prepared to be the prophet who would organize the church back on the earth with Christs Authority, the priesthood. I know that through the Priesthood the Book of Mormon was translated. The Book of Mormon is the Word of God. It was written for us today so that we could pattern our lives in a way that we could follow the Savior. I know that when we do all that the Savior has asked us to do we will have the opportunity to live in our Heavenly Fathers presence. I know that through the Atonement we can be forgiven for all our mistakes. I know that he is waiting for us to come unto him and to give our burdens to him so he can lift them. I love my Savior and I have been able to come to know him so much more through the scriptures. I know that when I get down on my knees to pray that an answer will come, no matter in what way or what the answer may be. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and that he has prepared me and others to learn and grow together. I know that my mission has been worth it to the Savior and that my efforts were enough to bring some of our Fathers children back home, where he is waiting to receive us. I love this Gospel with every fiber of my being. Amen.
I am so excited to come home and to see you all again.
Hurrah for Israel!!!!!!
Sister Cottrell

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Getting Better!

This week did get better as I hoped it would. We went to our Bishops house to go teach Rock the next lesson but we didn't teach him. The Bishop did! It was great. He taught about the Priesthood. Once again we were able to see how the influence of the spirit works on Rock's kids. We told them that once their dad has the priesthood he can baptism them if they choose to be baptized. One of the sons just gets so excited when we talk about it. He lit up and you could feel the happiness and excitement emanating from him. The only sad part is that other son is refusing to be happy about anything to do with baptism. I am sincerely concerned for him. Rock is getting his first true test after being baptized. His company his having a business trip down to Cabo, Mexico. In this trip there is a lot of drinking and other temptations. Rock has had to mentally prepare for this trip for 3 weeks and has set limits and boundaries of activities he will and will not participate in. We have been on the edge of our seats for 3 days now because we cant talk to him. We just keep praying he will have the spirit with him and make good decisions. If he can get through this trip he can overcome anything! 
Yesterday was an amazing day! We had the special privilege and opportunity to have Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Wong come! It was so fun to watch him arrive early and go around the entire building to meet everyone! Our Stake has over 1300 people in it and a good chunk of those individuals got to meet him. My companion and I happened to be standing next to some other Sisters and when Elder Oaks shook our hands. He took just a couple extra seconds to ask where each one of us is from. It was so fun to see him get interested in the people. It was an amazing conference and there was a lot of laughter. Elder Oaks is funny!!!!!! He had met a lot of our investigators and made a point to speak to them about the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation. He is the only person I have ever heard gracefully bring up our Heavenly Mother. It was quite amazing and had me on the edge of my seat...... I got worried for a little second. hahahaha silly me. Probably one of my most favorite parts of the talk and the most memorable was when he shared a story of cornering his RM grandson and asking him why he wasn't married yet. His grandson's response was, "Well grandpa in the last year I have dated 106 different girls." To which Elder Oaks responded after thinking about it for a short time, "It seems you are putting forth a lot of effort and I commend you. But your standards must be wrong if you have not found a wife in those 106!" He is now married. But the memorable part of this story was when he raised his voice pounded the pulpit and said to every young man of the dating age. "STOP HANGING OUT! YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DATING!" I will tell you every Elder we saw after the meeting felt chastised in advance. It was so funny! There were many other things said that all missionaries just drooled over. He referenced the Articles of Faith 1 and 3. They are the short statements of pure doctrine of the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation. He also said that the Roman Catholic church is our natural ally. Their beliefs run so closely to ours that they are our best natural ally. The church has done a lot to put our forces together to stand for right throughout the world (i.e. abortions). It was insightful to say the least. 
We tried to ride bikes again this week. Last week my companion crashed. It was hilarious after I figured out she was okay! On this weeks particular day we talked to some very nice people who took the time to have a conversation with us. It must have been the Lords will that we just talk to them and no one else in the Park at the moment because as we went to continue on up the hill, my bike pedal snapped off! Not so funny! I had to walk up the rest of the gigantic hill! =) Luckily I could coast down the hill back to the apartment. So now I need to go get some new pedals. 
It has been super hot this week. We have already broke 100 degrees. It just tells you what this summer is going to be like. Not cool weather! Everyone is worried about fires and how hot it is going to get. Its not normal at all that we are heating up this fast. 
Well I think that is just about it for this week. 
I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!
Hurrah for Israel!
Sister Cottrell

Webs of Entanglement

I am going to apologize in advance. I am not sure how positive this email will be. My heart is heavy and my attitude is somber. This week has been so hard. With all that happened last weekend with our Bully it has really put a damper on a ton of other things. We had a lesson with Rock to start his new member lessons this week. Everyone failed to tell us that his ex-wife was coming and we were NOT prepared to teach a lesson for her. They wanted to move the lesson time up and gave us 45 minute notice. Then when we got there we still didn't start until the original time because they kept talking and wouldn't sit down so we could start!!!!!! Oh and the ex-wife didn't show up till then! Not only that but because of our Bully and his attitude towards us and the way we felt in his home we couldn't teach with the spirit to save our lives. It didn't go well and Rock's ex-wife was no more convinced what we believe is a good thing for her kids than when she arrived. Its a nasty situation and totally stressful. Our ward mission leader met with us to talk about what to do with the situation. He felt it important to talk to the Bishop about it and we told him we weren't comfortable with it because it might cause another flare up if the Bully got word of it. Wellyesterday (luckily) our Bully was out of town. The Bishop asked us to come and meet with him after church. We were slightly apprehensive. The whole time he talked and then when he wanted us to "vent" we didn't. When we tried to talk and inform him of the details we felt were important for him to know he justified every single thing said and done to us with "Well he has a big heart and is like a bull in a china cabinet and you are dainty flowers so you got stepped on." What we didn't know before that meeting was that our Bishop and our Bully are super close friends. So of course what we have to say about how we feel and what happened is totally unbelievable to him. All he kept saying was that he was going to talk to the Bully and when we said we weren't okay with that because of  fear of having a repercussion it was totally dismissed. It appears that no matter what we say to the men in this ward it doesn't matter they dont listen!  I AM SO FRUSTRATED! I can't do anything here! I am totally and completely stuck in Castaic. Like a fly stuck to a spiders web! I have tried so hard to love the ward and the area and I just can't seem to accomplish it. We aren't sleeping, we can barely work, I have had a migraine from stress the last 4 days and I want to leave. I have no idea what I am supposed to learn. I dont understand why it has to come this way. I get yelled at everyday, I get doors slammed in my face but I know its not personal. I can deal with it, but this is personal and I can't handle it. That is it. 
On the lighter side of companion and I went on a little road trip with some other missionaries to the Arcadia mission for a doctors appointment. It was so fun to see more of California and to have the time to get to know other missionaries on a level that was personal for all of us. It was a grand ol' time and the break we needed from Castaic. It felt so good to not have to focus on our area while we were gone. Doesn't that sound horrible?! But its the truth. Now my companion is doing much better with what the appointment was for. I am glad it got worked out just in time for things to keep blowing up. 
Our investigators this week asked about baptism and the things they need to stop doing so it can happen. It was a step in the right direction and we were so excited. Also they were able to read Alma 32 and got so much out of it! Baby steps are necessary for these particular people and its beginning to show. That is about the only highlight this week I can think of. 
So I apologize again for this email. Like I said its been hard to stay positive this week. I have no idea what this week holds in store but I hope its better.
Hurrah for Israel!
Sister Cottrell

Difficult Week!

So I sent another message with pictures hopefully it came. The pictures are of Rock and Brother Tujague (his friend from coaching days. Victory should know who he is! =D BYU Cougars), Rock and his kids and then Sister Hatfield and I spending some time at the Lake on our Easter Lunch picnic. 
This week was such an emotional roller coaster. I will try to spare you the gory details but in short the sister missionaries in the Castaic ward have identified a bully. Without going into what all happened it put me in a very hard situation and President Hall and I have talked for about 2 hours 30 minutes in person and over the phone. Yesterday was the worst of it all. Our Bully sought us out took us outside and proceeded to yell at us and belittle us. It didn't matter what we did or said it was going to be his way. I felt so small, so unappreciated. The focus of Rock getting baptized was entirely lost in this members perspective because all he could focus on was what we had done that he didn't like. I will admit that with all the events it could have been done better but what is done is done and it cant change. After our little show down at church we left. (It was right before the last hour of church) When I had finally calmed down enough to talk we decided to take a picnic to Castaic Lake (the park) to work through more of the emotions of the day. So here is what is now happening; Essentially my companion and I are now slaves to the member (our bully) and for the sake of our recent convert it has to be that way. President Hall has counseled me just to go with what he wants. It stinks because I am not the type of person who goes with the demands of others unless it is for a very very very good reason. The fact that I am literally a slave to the demands of this member is killing me. I have to be at his house when he says we will be there. I teach what he wants us to teach. We get no say and are not allowed to give suggestions. Follow the Spirit?...out the window, mostly. The member is in total and complete control. President Hall was extremely upset when he learned the details of our showdown. He also had to calm down and make sure he didn't do anything that would allow me to see his anger over it all. He was sad that I had to have this experience. It was a good conversation he and I were able to have. We decided the best thing to talk about after all of this came to light is to let it go. He compared our bully to the one year old child that punches you in the nose. You don't throw the child down and step on him because of it. You change the position he is in so he can't punch you. Basically you don't engage. In our confrontation with the Bully I had the rare opportunity to put into practice everything I have learned on my mission of getting out of a heated argument/discussion/situation. I tried so so so hard to not engage. I wasn't perfect at it but I did try. President Hall is very proud of my efforts and that brings me comfort. I was also told that while I am trying to let go of the things that have happened I shouldn't work on forgiving him for 3 years. Why 3 years? I have no idea. Maybe by that time I will realize I have forgiven him and will know that it doesn't matter anymore. I will have let it go. While I have been thinking a lot about letting it go I have thought of Dad's phrase he used with me when I had another bully in elementary school. Set yourself free...Its the same concept and one I believe I will work on my whole life. At the end of the conversation we reviewed things that have happened to me on my mission with bully's. Turns out I have had quite a few of them. President Hall shared with me some of his insight into my mission. He said, "I have just sat here and listened to you talk so calmly about your mission. Not about what was so horrible and bad but the things you have learned." He explained to me that on my mission I have learned a gift of self awareness, the ability to recognize things I need to change. He told me that I have learned to be teachable and that Heavenly Father must really love me because he keeps sending experiences to me so that I can be teachable. I probably wouldn't have learned these things any other way. I am teachable because I love my Savior and want to follow him as best I can. Heavenly Father is hearing my prayers and knows the desire I have to be better. He suggested that Heavenly Father must have something for me to do and so he is helping me now so that I can be prepared to do it later. President Hall then asked me "Why do you think I understand so well what you are going through?" My answer was because he has been through it too. He explained that everything I have been through he has gone through too but much later in life than me. Last night I learned what has changed about me while I have been here on my mission. It was an answer to a prayer. I have been praying to see the changes in myself because I still feel there is so much to change in so little time. He stopped me when I explained that and told me, "but you recognized it!" I recognized that there is still change that needs to take place. And there always will be. Its just a part of life. He also explained that when he finally figured things out he started to love the imperfect him because that was part of The Plan. It was so good and better than the hug I had been longing to have. (Which he ended up giving me...heehee..... shhh....)
That was a really long explanation of a 48 hour period of time but there you have it. Easter dinner was amazing! We went and had some authentic Korean food at a members house! It was so yummy! Still working on perfecting my chopstick skills though. ;) The most important part of this week was Rock's baptism. He is baptized and confirmed and it is wonderful. A word we use in this mission with each other is "Shaka" (shaw-ka) Which literally means "everything is good." So, Shaka. 
I love you all and hope that you had a wonderful Easter! 
Hurrah for Israel!
Sister Cottrell

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


This past week was so full!!!!!  Both my companion and I had health complications that put us out a couple of days. During those days we just rested which was perfect because the first time ever on my mission Saturday morning I woke and literally popped out of bed. I felt so refreshed and happy from the moment the alarm went off. I found myself singing in the shower and laughing to myself. It only lasted that morning but it was preliminary to the mission conference we had with Elder Kent F. Richards and Elder Garnes. 
This conference was amazing!!!! We had so much instruction on how to teach simply and to teach only pure doctrine. Elder Richards shared something with us that has been rolling through my mind since. He said that Happiness is directly related to the Spirit which is directly related to Acting in Faith. As I have thought about this I realize that the more we act on the Faith we have in Jesus Christ the more the Spirit will be with us. And the more the spirit is with us the happier we are because at that exact moment we have no desire to sin which would cause the spirit to leave us. Therefore we have more ability to trust in the Savior. Mind blowing right? Another thing that was taught was that we should be learning new things as we are teaching by the spirit as evidence we are teaching by the spirit. This week I realized this truth. When we were teaching Rock I realized that as I was teaching the 10 commandments I was learning something new! It was awesome! There was just so many good things talked about that day. I went into the conference with several simple personal questions; How can I become more Christlike? What do I need to change to go home without Regrets? How can I get more out of my mission? How can I simplify my teaching so my investigators don't misunderstand? All the questions were answered with very simple answers. It was great!!!!!!! 
The other amazing things this week is Rock. He is getting Baptized on Saturday!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are so excited because we have been working so hard to  get him to progress. We have 2 more lessons before Thursday when he has his baptismal interview. Some of the lessons were hard to teach him because it was going to cause some major lifestyle changes for him. But its all for the better and he knows it. He has also seen many blessing already of being able to avoid and turn down temptations! He needs a lot of prayers still because Satan is still really working on him. 
Its just been a good week. Well time is short so I will need to say goodbye. But I love you all have a great week!
Hurrah for Israel!
Sister Cottrell

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Words Of A Prophet!

Hello everyone!!!!!!
Wasn't conference so great this weekend???? I love conference and always have. I have reveled in the opportunity I have had to share with members my first memory of conference. I have been told many times that growing up I hated missing conference or getting left at home so one of my parents could enjoy a peaceful session. Well during one of the many times I attended with my Dad I had fallen asleep. When I woke up I saw Howard W. Hunter's face on the screen. Ever since then I have loved conference because I know that a prophet is speaking to us today. In 1 Nephi 22:2 it reads, "And I, Nephi, said unto them; Behold they were manifest unto the prophet by the voice of the Spirit; for by the Spirit are all things made known unto the prophets, which shall come upon the children of men according to the flesh." The words of the prophets we hear come straight from our Heavenly Father to them through the spirit. They receive revelation for the world and then they teach us. This is something that I have learned and gained a testimony of this week. 
So here are some of the things I loved in conference:
President Uchtdorf- "Be grateful IN our circumstances." Already I have been able to put this into practice. During one of the sessions we were at a members house. They made a massive breakfast just for us to help ease Sister Hatfield's homesickness. It was a tradition her family would do. We walked out of there and I thought, "Why do the members feed us so much? I am getting so fat!!!!!!" Then I thought about how grateful I was to have food and that the members love us so much. So I began to be grateful in my circumstance. 
Elder Ballard- the WHOLE talk!!!!!! loved it! In taking his counsel I will try to start sharing things with you that I have learned in my studies in the next coming weeks. I would love to hear what you are also studying and learning from Preach My Gospel.
Bishop Stevenson- life is our 4 min race. "What do I need to do next to get my medal?" "What is the next ordinance or covenant I need to progress to finish my race?" That's a thinker! 
Elder Christofferson- I am not sure if he said this but this is what I wrote down: Christs resurrection is one of the final evidences that Jesus is the Christ, that what he taught is true, and that he is the Only Begotten Son of the Father. I loved his talk so much!!!
Elder Zwick- I have thought a lot about what it means to not have corrupt communication in my home, and initiating more actively the question "What are you thinking?"
And one of the best themes...LOVE ONE ANOTHER!
There are so many other things that stood out but those are the highlights for me. 
Another Highlight was that we got one of our investigator families to the conference yesterday for the last session. Its the family that we have been doing all the service for. They really really enjoyed it and got several things out of it! They are progressing so nicely. I have realized that the reason I am still here is for the families we are teaching. Both have had several sets of missionaries and I think they have all prepared the investigators in some way so that we could help them progress the way they are. I am so excited to see what happens in the near future! 
This week is going to be great we have Elder Kent Richards coming to our mission on Saturday for an All mission conference. This hasn't happened since I have been here so I am way excited! 
Well I am trying to think of anything else and it was a pretty dull week other than conference. =) 
I love you all so much! I hope and pray that you have found things in conference that have touched your heart and encouraged you to want to do better. 
Hurrah for Israel!
Sister Cottrell
 The Assistants and Sister Hadfield
The Zone Leaders and The "Sisters"