Wednesday, December 25, 2013

White Christmas!

This week has just flown by.  I honestly don't remember everything we did but I know we have worked really really hard this week. ;D 
For the last several nights Sister Bray and I have gone caroling as we knock on doors. It has made such a huge difference and opens people hearts just a little bit more to learning the message of the Gospel. And it fills us with the Spirit. It is so cool to teach about Christ through a song!!!!!! hahaha and they hardly realize it until its too late ;D heehee
The English side of our mission went to the temple this week. It was the best WHITE CHRISTMAS EVER! There were so many missionaries in the session! The spirit is always so strong and so invigorating. I always walk out of the temple motivated to go do missionary work! I had a very special surprise at the temple though. One of the YSA members came to go to the session so he could say hello! It was so exciting that day! However it is so hard to go to the temple. I get so drained! It is so hard to not just lay/sit down and take a nap! But I still LOVE it! 
I have been doing a lot of reflecting over the course of this week. Whether that is a good thing or not I am not quite sure. heehee I have thought a lot about the transformation that has occurred within myself as a missionary over the last year. When I first came out I did NOT want to stop people on the streets, bug them working in their yard, knock on doors. I guess I just wanted to have investigators just magically show up on our white board and then go teach them.....boy have I learned a lot! Sister Bray and I have had several experiences of meeting people and having them tell us our religion is not for them, or that they don't need religion in their lives. I have walked away almost every time near tears because I finally understand how the Atonement is necessary. I realized that each and every person needs the Atonement. I just can't seem to make it clear enough to them that the Restoration of Christs church was necessary and that because of Apostasy they are being lead astray. WHY DON'T THEY UNDERSTAND? WHY WONT THEY LISTEN?????? The reason....because its True! I have taken almost a year to understand this concept as well and its very simple; Satan is miserable and wants as many people as he can influence to not make it into the Celestial Kingdom just because he wont be there too. He is so selfish!!!!!! I want to fight this war with Satan and I want to succeed. I want to stop everyone! I want to talk with everyone. They have to know what they are turning down! If they don't know what they are saying no to, how will they ever be influenced to say yes? I have studied the Atonement almost every day this week and it has been amazing! Not on purpose but it has just worked out that way. ;) This is such a special season to reflect on everything that Christs birth really meant. He was born into this world because of Heavenly Fathers love for us and because of His love for His brothers and Sisters. I know that His sacrifice is for us individually and collectively. I feel the effects of the Atonement everyday as a missionary. It makes me want to be a better missionary to understand better and more deeply the Doctrine of the Gospel, to do all I can to one day say to the Lord I did my best to fill the empty seats in the Kingdom of Heaven. This is what the Atonement is all about. Until I better understood the Atonement my desire was not strong enough to act. Now it is strong and now I am acting more on my desires to share the gospel. Its Christmas time and people need to know the good news!!!!!!!!
Our week was pretty mediocre otherwise. We have walked a ton and have talked to a lot of people. We have many many potential investigators we are meeting this next week. 
I am so grateful to be on my mission for another Christmas season. I love it!  
Oh yeah, hahaha we set a baptismal date with our investigator this week! He is so wonderful and is really doing all that he can to come to Christ. He is from El Salvador and his family owns a pupusaeria!!!!! YUM! It works out for everyone. 
Well I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and that you take time to remember Christ.
Hurrah for Israel!
Sister Cottrell

Where to Start??

This week has been abnormal to say the least.
Well we had Zone Conference this week and it was amazing! We learned about the Atonement and the true meaning of Christmas. We talked about the story of Christ's Birth and applied it to missionaries. The angels that proclaimed glad tidings of great joy are us! That is our purpose. To proclaim the gospel and to bring great joy to the souls of men! It was so motivating and it really just makes me want to go knock and doors and say, "Have you heard the news?!? Christ lives! And because He lives His church has been restored to the earth!" But then again most days I'm too chicken to do that! ;)
We had several appointments this week with potential investigators and investigators. Our one investigator totally dropped us hard core. Sister Bray and I felt like we had been broken up with. We were so sad and irritated at this kid. But if he listens to the promptings of the Holy Ghost eventually he will come around. We really just had adventures all week. We went to one lesson with a member who brought her 3 month old son, the person didn't end up showing. His family owned the restaurant where we were meeting him and they don't speak English. Eventually they had a customer translate for us and we left. We went home and just as we were sitting down to hot soup for dinner the phone rang and lo and behold it was our investigator. He told us he was available then and at the restaurant. We left our soup and rushed over there. The lesson went very well and we picked up a new investigator! He even made pupusas for us! Sister Bray is hooked now! heeheehee
The next day we got a phone call from our district leader asking us if we wanted a new investigator with a baptismal date. Of course we said yes! However the details attached to this person came with a risk. I am not at liberty to give all the details over email. However we were sent in there to assess the situation based off the information we had from her past. aka see if she is crazy. She is in the Elders area but President asked that we go instead because it may have been too dangerous for the Elders to go there. I hope I haven't confused you yet. Basically we had 2 elders in the vicinity during the lesson our zone leaders had to be told when we went in and came out of the lesson. We had to have a text prepared to have the 2 elders come and help us if needed. Our mission president is aware of everything that was happening, and the background behind it. We also had to have 2 members with us during the lesson. It was all very exciting. :/ We had to park pretty far away from our appointment and we were almost late. So we decided to jog part of the way to make our trip quicker. Well let me give a scripture to explain what happened next.... Doctrine and Covenants 61:3-4,6 "But verily I say unto you, that it is not needful for...mine Sisters to be moving swiftly upon the [sidewalks of California in long maxi skirts], whilst the inhabitants on either side are perishing in unbelief. Nervertheless, I suffered it that ye might bear record; behold, there are many dangers upon [the sidewalks], and more especially [when you run]. Nevertheless, all flesh is in mine hand, and he that is faithful among you shall not perish [on] the [sidewalk.]"
If you haven't made any assumptions yet I pretty much biffed it on the sidewalk. I didn't take the time to check my knees because I was in a hurry. Well by the time I sat down on the couch I could feel the blood and the sting..... Yeah it was bad. Luckily my companion carries a first aid kit with her at all times and after our appointment I was able to clean up mine wounds. hahahaha  The appointment went well enough, better than expected and we picked up a new investigator. The next day was our ward Christmas party and there was a roasted pig. The pictures are disgusting haha. The food was amazing. This new investigator came (we forgot she was coming) much to our surprise. During the dinner she randomly asked us when our birthdays are. We told her the months and then she proceeded to say, "Oh, on the ______." We would correct her and she would just nod her head. When she left the party Sister Bray and I started feeling sick. The whole thing was just weird. We left soon after her and talked about our feelings on the way home and the situation that we are dealing with. When I went to go unlock the door to the apartment I got a huge prompting to not go inside. It terrified me since I was just about to turn the handle. We went down to our car and called the zone leaders. They came over and by that point we felt fine to go into the apartment. We asked for blessings and talked about what had happened that night. They suggested we stop teaching this sister and to call president. The blessings they gave us were terrifying and comforting at the same time. In my blessing they cast out Satan and any of his followers and proceeded to give the comforting part of the blessing. When the Elders left I started to cry. I explained to Sister Bray that for the last couple weeks I kept getting the prompting to find in the scriptures how to cast out Satan and that lines in my patriarchal blessing had kept coming to mind that would have applied to the evening. She looked at me and said, "I opened my eyes during your blessing and saw angels stand in to give you your blessing." We both cried and felt the Lords love enter into our hearts and our home. The next day we were exhausted and could barely function. The Lord is truly knowing and protects His missionaries. Unless its a sidewalk. =) President Hall has given us permission to not teach this lady but we are waiting for some information first before we make that decision.
This weekend we went to a house we had previously tracked into. We had been told to come back by a girl who looked to be 14 years old. She opened the door and we unexpectedly started teaching her on the doorstep. She is actually 17 and LOVES to talk! She is also a new investigator. So it has been a week of miracles! The Lord has stayed close to us and we know it!
I love you all! Van Nuys is amazing sidewalks and crazy people included.
This next week is going to be great! I promise I'll be safer this week. =D
Hurrah for Israel!
Sister Cottrell


A week of change is always scary at first. However with time everything and everyone settles in and the adjustment is made. This week has been full of changes!!!!!! To start off I have a new companion. Her name is Sister Emily Bray. This is my second companion in a row whose first name is Emily!!!!! Its just meant to be hahaha. She is from Riverton Wyoming. She is 21 years old and has a fiancĂ© at home. (She said yes on conditions she can go on a mission. He purposed thinking he could change her mind. poor guy.) She is so adorable and I love her very much. When went out for the first day she worked like she has been out for 6 months! It was so COOL! I love being with her and we are both learning a lot from each other.
I am opening a new area in the sense that the ward I have gone to now has 3 sets of missionaries. The first ward to have 3 in the English half of our mission!!!!!!! Its a new experience. The area I am in is Van Nuys. I must request that you do not go and look up information or pictures of this part of town. There are pockets of good neighborhoods but mostly this is the true ghetto of the mission. There are streets we have been given strict instruction to stay off of at night. There are a lot of gangs and drug addicts. Please do not worry. We are playing it smart and safe as much as we possibly can. We go to members homes at night and street contact and door knock during the day. We are still trying to figure out all the logistics of it. Its a work in progress. Our bishop has given us 5 names per week that he wants us to visit. We were able to contact all of ours and we even got 2 less-active sisters to come to church yesterday! We taught 1 lesson to our only investigator and we are close to dropping him. We are told by the Elders in our ward that the area we are in hasn't ever really been worked through. So we are starting from scratch! ;D The ward is very welcoming to us. There are many, many different cultures here. The majority of them are English and Philippino. Our first dinner came from a Philippino family. We aren't sure what we ate and we aren't going to ask anytime soon. Im still not sure if I liked it or not. Someone suggested cow vien.......weird.
Miracles and funny stories:
I'll start with funny stories. We went to visit one of the less-actives. The house had been dark for a couple of days so we started to get worried since she is Elderly. When no one came to the door after we knocked I decided I would look through the mail slot to see if there was a light on. (Her door has brown glass) As I was bent over looking in all of the sudden I saw someone walking towards the door! I immediately pulled back blushing from my little spying escapade.... The door never opened! Then the mail man came walking up. I offered to put the mail in for him so I could either replace my foolishness or do a good deed. Pick which ever one you choose to believe. They are both true. I decided to knock on the door one more time while we were having a good hearty laugh and our member finally opened to door. She was completely oblivious to what had happened and it made us laugh even harder. hahahaha She came to church on Sunday! She said it was because she was supporting us because we were giving our testimonies. We later found out from a friend of hers that she said, "The girls always out shine the boys!" Our sacrament program was given by all of the missionaries either giving a testimony or talking on the lessons we teach.
Another funny story is that we were driving like we always do. A yellow jeep cut right across 2 lanes of traffic to make it to the turn lane. I was startled but not upset. When we pulled up next to them I noticed they were sheepishly looking at us. We started laughing and then we just kept looking back and forth. All of us were laughing about it without talking to each other. What made it even funnier was that they were older gentlemen! California drivers are CRAZY!
ummm.... oh yeah miracles. Besides our two less actives coming to church we had some really awesome experiences finding. One day we decided to knock a certain street. I was getting frustrated with all the polite turn downs. I was feeling quite done with the street but decided to just do a couple more doors. A young man was walking out to his car when we stopped him. We started teaching him about having faith in Christ. He mentioned to us that it is the only thing he has to pull him through this rough time. His parents are separating and he isn't happy with it. Why people just decided to open up to us perplexes me but I am glad that they can. This young man provided a light during a dark moment for me that day and I am eternally grateful we pushed on. Later on that day we went street contacting just before dark. We stopped another young man. He said he wasn't in the mood but I felt prompted to give him a card with the YSA info on it. When he got it and looked at it he very seriously said, "Thank you for not passing by." That was it. We wished him well and continued on. Sister Bray has very quickly picked up when a miracle happens. She will just stop and look wide eyed as she reviews the moment and then says something about the miracle. Its so awesome!!!!
Probably the most prominent memory of the week was last night. We went to yet another less-actives home. She didn't know we were coming so it was a surprise. We got to know her a little bit. She is getting married in a couple weeks and had skipped out on church that day. I offered to say a prayer before we left. I felt like it was just a normal prayer for someone but when I opened my eyes she was crying and kept saying, "O, that touched my heart." The spirit was strong. I also noticed that her fiancĂ© had turned off the TV while the prayer was being said. It was just a cool experience.
Well I think that is it. I am safe don't worry. There are lots of miracles to be had this next week.
Love you all lots! Hurrah for Israel!
Sister Cottrell