Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Ha I bet you thought I wouldn't write this week, huh? Well, yes we are! We just had yesterday as a proselyting day, which was quite adventurous. Holidays are always interesting. And Tuesdays make a weird P-Day.

We went tracting on Tuesday and the first door we knocked was answered by a college student named Madi. Her best friend in the whole world is a member in 2nd ward. She invited us in and we talked to her for about 45 minutes, answering some questions about what we believe and teaching about the Book of Mormon. We are going to be starting teaching her soon! She is so excited to learn and we are so excited to teach!

This week we went on exchanges. Sister Peterson and I worked in their area, and Sister Manning led our area with Sister Osburn. It was so much fun to go with Sister Peterson. She is a great missionary! We had a lot of fun together and got to go tracting, try a lot of potentials, and teach together, so that was nice. Exchanges are awesome! Sister Manning and Sister Osburn got to teach Barbara, and it went really well! She is excited to know more and just wants to join God's Church. 

Ashley is doing great! She is getting baptized this Saturday and we're finishing getting everything ready for that! She is getting so pumped and excited. It was so cute, last time we went over the baptismal interview questions and under the Law of Chastity, we taught her that the Prophet has asked us not to date until we are 16. Ashley did not like that rule, and she wasn't very happy when we told her that. We invited her to pray about it, and promised blessings, and left it there. A couple of days later, Sister Frei was talking to us ad mentioned to us that the day before at the Young Women activity, Ashley had excitedly told the girls she had just learned about the no dating until you're 16 rule, and as such had broken up with her boyfriend that day. What a great example for all of us! It reminds me of a quote I heard that some things may contradict our social or political views, but when we follow the commandments, we are innumerably blessed. She is one awesome girl! I'm so excited for her. 

It has actually been HOT this week. I never thought I would say that, but in the matter of 2 days, it jumped from 30 degrees to 85, so it freaked all of us out. Well, Sister Manning and I live above a garage. It gets pretty hot up there. For the first few hot days, we just turned on a fan we found in the cubby and hoped it would help. It didn't really, though, and so we asked the Noel's if we could put in the AC. Let me tell you, I am so grateful for the AC! It is a wonderful invention! So now we're not dying every time we're inside. Success!

This week, we went to stop by Karla as we haven't seen her in a while. She let us right in, and started talking to us. She looked really happy, back to her normal self. She told us of an experience she had last week where she was driving home from Stanley and she had her 2 little ones with her, she wasn't wearing a seat belt. It was dusk, and the next thing she knew, she had hit a deer in their small car. She had been driving 85 MPH. Luckily, no one was seriously hurt. What it did do for Karla, however, was change her perspective. She realized that life is short and you never know what moment is going to be your last, so you must be prepared. She wanted to call us the next day, but didn't, so she was so excited when we came by. I almost started crying with joy as she told us she wanted to start up the lessons again. I was further touched when she then explained that she is putting together her daughters' baby books and taking pictures with people that have been important in their lives, and she asked us if we could have a picture with each of them. Of course, we were honored. We were able to teach her yesterday, and we just had a simple lesson. We watched a Mormon Message and read part of a Conference Talk. But it was what she needed. We're going back over on Friday. The Lord can soften anyone's heart!

This week at Sacrament meeting, we had Ashley, Shirley and Barbara all there. It was great to see Shirley there are she just came on her own. Barbara is so excited for us to come again tomorrow to teach her about the Plan of Salvation. It is such a blessing to be working with someone who has such real intent. Ashley looked radiant as always. She's also starting to look more comfortable there at Church, she's making friends with the girls and is loving it so far. 

Because of Elder Ballard's talk this past conference talk about following up, I want to take a second and ask, What have you been studying in Preach My Gospel? Elder Ballard asked the missionaries to tell their family and friends what they are studying, and for their families to do the same. So, this week I have been studying all over the place a little bit, but I did a really great study in there yesterday. On page 95 of Preach My Gospel, there is a great personal study on prayer. It really helped me to change my outlook on prayer and how meaningful it can and will be when we do just simple things, such as pray with real intent, have faith, and pray for specific things, not general whatnots. So, what have you been studying? Your turn!

With the increase in heat has come a bajillion bugs out of nowhere. It actually is humid here (which is odd)but there are clouds of bugs everywhere, which makes life exciting. Yesterday, Sister Manning and I were doing 12 Week Training and suddenly saw a HUGE wasp flying around our apartment. You may laugh, but we both freaked out. Sister Manning is a hater of all bugs, everywhere, and I'm just not too fond of flying, stinging things. So we went downstairs to borrow a fly swatter. They couldn't find one, so we found some butterfly nets instead. Ivy, Sister Manning and I eventually got it (midst some screaming and jumping and throwing the nets). The 4 little ones (see picture) were downstairs cheering us on. Ha it was quite the adventure. We have titled it The Great Bee Hunt. 

Last night we went tracting, and the first door we knocked on belonged to a woman named Helda. She is from England and is in her late 70s. We ended up talking to her for an hour, about the gospel, and how good God is to us, and she was telling us great life experiences she has had. One thing in particular she said the stuck out to me is that God loves all of us equally and requires of us the same. Loving all of God's children equally includes loving ourselves as much as we love others. Not more--we're not supposed to be conceited and prideful, but we must learn to love ourselves as the Child of God we are and recognize our strengths as well as our weaknesses. We're hoping to go back in a couple of weeks. She took our card with our name and number on it, and told us she was going to keep it safe in her Bible. That was a big honor. :) She gave us a big hug and a kiss on the neck when we left. It's awesome the connections you can make with people! 

I think that about sums up our week! I hope all is going well wherever you may be and that you are getting involved in the Lord's work! 

Until next week!
sister leslie.

Sister Peterson and I took some artsy pictures at the end of exchanges

The classic.

Us with Esperanza, Karla's ADORABLE baby!!

Us with Naomi, Karla's ADORABLE 2 year old!

The Great Bee Hunt Participants: Ivy, Sister Manning, Me, Violet, Ruby, and 2 of their friends.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Church is True and the Book is Blue

I'm just going to get right in it as there is a LOT to write about today!

First off, Zone Conference! It was AWESOME!! So inspiring! I got the opportunity to be the driver, and it was quite the party! I'm now a driving Diva! (At least on NoDak roads....they're not very populated). It was WAY good though. I got to see Sister Christiansen again (we stayed the night with her and her companion) and also Elder Melle, both in my MTC District. SO that was awesome! The trainings  were AWESOME! President and Sister Anderson did a great training on the doctrine of eternal marriage, and it was great!! Not saying I'm trunky or anything, but it did make me want to get home and get married ASAP. And then I realized it's a process to get married, it doesn't just happen. It's a process of meeting someone and dating...uck. So don't worry, parents, I will have a while before I get married. Rest assured. But it was a GREAT training. President and Sister Anderson are so cute together. :)

I got a huge compliment this week that every missionary wants to hear. Elder Casey, one of the assistants to the President, is going home soon. Elder Casey is a fantastic missionary and you can just see the power that emanates from him as a disciple of Jesus Christ. He's inspired me to be better, so after Zone Conference I just went up and told him thank you and good luck. What he said next hit me hard: "Thank you, Sister Leslie, I appreciate that. Since I've seen you last, you're different. You're becoming more consecrated." I wanted to hug him right then and there! But obviously I didn't. It hit me so much because my biggest fear is that I'll return home the same person I left as. Which, don't get me wrong, I want to be, to an extent. I still want my same personality and some habits, but I want to be converted to the gospel and willing to follow Christ no matter what, and I want to be active in His Church in all that I do and say. So even though I can't see it, someone else could see that I am starting to change a bit, and that was awesome to hear. 

I have officially made it to my 8 month mark alive! Success! It's crazy how fast it goes, it freaks me out. 10 months and counting.....yikes!

But this week was good! We saw a lot of miracles! We were able to find 3 new investigators, all sisters in a family, which is great! They are 12, 16/17ish and 17. They are all foster kids, but hopefully soon to be adopted. They ask a lt of deep questions, but we like questions, so it works out. :) Their mom is a member, just less active, and their dad is Southern Baptist, so it's a fun family situation. We're excited to be able to go back and teach. We really needed this to boost our area, so it was great!

AND! Drumroll, please...................................It has been 60-70 degrees this week for almost ONE WHOLE WEEK! Man, it's about time! 70 degrees never felt so good. Ever. 

There were a ton of people at Church yesterday who were not members, a lot of the elders' investigators, but also a couple of people that were brought by members. One of these was a lady named Barbara. She was brought from a member in the ward because she just wanted to check it out. She is from Brazil and we will be teaching her on Wednesday! She is really interested! We gave her our number and then she asked us, "So you could teach me?" My mouth almost dropped to the ground. I was like, "Um, YES!" So we are very excited for that. She goes to school here at MSU and is such a sweet girl. The work is starting to pick up a little bit here! Woohoo! 

This week I truly came to the conclusion that I can't do this on my own. I've been trying so hard to train Sister Manning by myself and run the area by myself to prove to myself mostly that I could do it. Well, news flash: it doesn't work. SOunds like an obvious thing, but it's much easier said than done. I had one of my classic breakdowns this week to Sister Manning, so we're on the same page now. Things are looking up! Seriously so much of missionary work is determined by your attitude.  SO I've been very humbled this week and I feel that's a big reason we've been having so much success. It reminds me of the APs training in February about the rocks in the backpack. That has always stuck with me. I don't want to hold back my area anymore! 

I'm just going to preface this paragraph with "Don't Freak Out". This is privileged information and so yeah. Just know that I'm safe and all is well. :) On Saturday, Violet Noel (in case you forgot the family we live with) was baptized. It was such a sweet program and evening! The Noel's had a lot of family in town for the baptism and so they all stayed at the Noel's. Fast forward to Sunday morning. I wanted to listen to music in the morning, so I went to tur it on to find our portable DVD player missing. I thought it was odd, but I didn't think much of it until we came home for lunch after Church. Sister Noel asked us if we had noticed anything fishy, and explained how her phone and a couple of their laptops were missing. I then mentioned our DVD player was gone, and we put the pieces together: Saturday afternoon, when we were all out at the baptism, someone broke into the Noel's home and stole some stuff. They just got out DVD player and charge cord and Sister Manning's camera (which was SO sad!), and then Sister Noel's brothers laptop, Sister Noels' Mom's laptop, and sister Noel's phone. So that was quite the adventure. The Noel's had left their door unlocked and so whoever it was just walked in. It could have been much worse, but it was weird to know that someone broke in. You never think things like that will happen to you until they do. So that's the latest. We get to talk to the detective tomorrow. Fun stuff, fun stuff. 

We're teaching this cute girl named Analeon the missionary lessons before she gets baptized. She and her family are active, but her parents want her to know all the information so she can make her own choice. It's such a joy to teach someone who is SO excited to be baptized (She bounced up to Sister Jensen and I our first week in Minot [Early October] and exclaimed: "YOu get to teach me in May for my baptism! You get to teach me in May for my baptism!" Of course, Sister Jensen and I didn't think either of us would still be in Minot in May, but here I am).

...And that pretty much sums up our week! I hope you are all getting out there and doing missionary work and being examples of the believers in all that you do and say!

I have no doubt that this Church is true! If your testimony is dwindling, read the Book of Mormon. I stand with Joseph Smith declare that "Man will come closer to God by reading this book than by reading any other book."

The work is working!
sister leslie.

The Bismarck and Minot Zones: the ones in attendance at our Zone Conference!

Sister Christiansen, Me, Elder Melle

The Elders in the back of the minivan driving back up to Minot. Front: Elder Robinson
and Elder Probert, in the back (hat) Elder Nelson and Elder Stenquist

Lake Sakakawea, the closest we have to an ocean her in NoDak. 

Sister Manning and Analeon (the girl we are teaching the lessons to before she is baptized), Me. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Tracting up a STORM

The more accurate version would actually be "Tracting THROUGH the Storm(s)", but it didn't sounds as enthralling, so I didn't do it that way.

SHout out to all the Mothers! Hope you had a great Mother's Day full of happy children and clean houses. :) If you haven't had a chance yet, please check out the Mother's Day video the Church put out, "It Was Mom" (motherhood.mormon.org). It is powerful! You will love it!

The big reveal is below in the pictures.....Sister Manning and I both got haircuts! Our motto for this transfer is "Go Big or Go Home, and we can't go home, so go BIG." It works out quite nicely. SO we cut our hair. Which is nice also for the wind problem here because the wind gets really ANNOYING, especially when you have hair blowing all over everywhere. You start to feel kinda like Cutting It. Which doesn't look very professional. Or feel very nice. 

We met with Ashley this week again on Tuesday and had a great lesson teaching her about prophets. The Spirit also guided us to put Ashley on date, so we were able to put her on date for May 31, which is awesome!! She is SO excited and happy. As soon as we went into the invitation for the baptismal date, her face started beaming brighter and brighter, which is awesome. She is coming to Girl's Camp AND Trek, so it will be awesome! She loves the girls in the ward and they are good to her. We are also so excited for her! She is a great example to her family and will do many great things in her life as she continues to keep her covenants kept and her faith strong. :) She is even standing up for the Church already! On the bus, some friends were mocking the Mormons and how they were still polygamist. So Ashley texted us and then we called her and talked to her about why polygamy happened, when it stopped and all that. We gave her the scriptures to look up on her phone, and she explained it all very well to him. It was great! She's not even baptized and she's not afraid of standing up for her beliefs, even when she doesn't quite understand them yet. 

I have now reached the lowest number of lessons I've ever had in a week, but also the most contacts I've ever gotten in a week. Most of our appointments fell through this week, so we got a lot of tracting in. We didn't have snow this week (knock on wood), but we did go tracting in freezing rain, intense wind, and 20 degree weather. It was quite the experience. We didn't have a whole ton of success, but we did get a couple really solid potentials. Our most promising potential is a mother named Hannah. She currently is reading the Book of Mormon and we have an appointment to go back on Saturday and teach her more about how we got the Book of Mormon. It was really cool. When we were doing our approach on her doorstep, when explaining the Book of Mormon, we simply said something like, "The Book of Mormon is Another Testament that Jesus is the Christ, and it is a record of the ancient inhabitants on this continent, in the same time period of the Bible." Hannah then told us that the thought had never occurred to her before that people lived on this side of the world at that time, because they are never specifically mentioned in the Bible. She says it makes sense that there were, though. She is a modern day Joseph Smith story, she has that sincere desire to know which church is right but is overwhelmed by all the churches claiming to be Christ's church. We are excited to work with her more. :)

Obviously, one of the highlights was when I got to Skype with my awesome family! It's crazy how we haven't seen each other for 5 months, yet it feels like no time at all when I'm talking to them! It made for an awesome Mother's Day. :)

Oh yeah, for all those who are interested, Sister Manning and I were on TV! If you look up KX News in Minot, and then search "Stake Split, May 4, 2014" or something the story should come up. We weren't in a cameo or anything, but we were still in it! Check it out and tell me what you think! 

We are starting this new initiative with a lot of the members in the ward to follow up with the commitments made at Stake Conference. The 4 commitments extended were 1, to pray and ponder for missionary experiences. 2, Visit the Hastening the Work website and read Handbook 2, Chapter 5. 3, Read and study Preach My Gospel. 4, Think of someone who could benefit from making or renewing gospel covenants and open your mouth, do something to reach out to them. I know that these were given to our stake up here, but they apply to you as well! Doing these things will help you to become more missionary minded and to help hasten God's work. And remember: Hastening the Work isn't just missionary work. It also includes family history and temple work and all other aspects of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. YOU are needed by God to help this work progress! He can't do it alone. Us missionaries can't do it alone. Yes, there are 83,000 missionaries which is awesome. But there are 15 MILLION members! Can you imagine what would happen if every member reached out to just ONE person? It would be incomprehensible the joy and unity that would come into our lives and hearts. SO, what are YOU waiting for? 

I love you all! Thank you for your prayers and thoughts and missionary work! 
sister leslie.

Sister Manning and I the day of our new haircuts!

A selfie of my new haircut.....why not in Minot?

The family we ate and skyped at yesterday for Mother's Day, the Costabile family. SIster Costablie is an interior designer, can you tell? Notice the wall and photo arrangement in the picture. I love it! Totally doing it someday! 

Monday, May 5, 2014

6,500 Members in Zion

This week was a week full of miracles!

I don't know why I didn't mention this before, but THIS WEEK OUR STAKE WAS SPLIT! There are so many members now (6,500 in our Stake and 3/4 of NoDak and some of SoDak), that it was just too much for one stake presidency. I believe we had something like 18 units in our Stake. Splitting the Stake was a 2 day event and included 2 members of the Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Shayne Bowen (who talked in General Conference October 2012, Saturday Morn. Session) and Elder Brent Hillier. Both were rock solid. Our investigator, Ashley, was in attendance at both the Adult Session on Saturday night (Ages 12 and up were invited to attend) and the Sunday General Session. But I am getting ahead of myself. It was a big thing, this Stake Conference. President and Sister Anderson came up from Rapid City, as well as some of the office couples. For the Sunday Morning session, all the missionaries in the Stake were able to attend. (Which was so cool, because I got to see Sister Christiansen and Elder Melle, 2 of the missionaries that were in my MTC District! They both serve in Bismarck now.) The COnference was held in Minot, which was also super cool. Elder Bowen was the main speaker at both of the sessions I was in attendance to, and he did GREAT at inspiring the members to do missionary work! As part of a visual, in the Saturday evening session he asked all the full-time missionaries to stand up. There were about 6 companionships of us. He then asked all the "permanent full-time missionaries", or everyone, to stand. Once this happened, he explained that the missionaries can't do it on their own. He explained it by saying that the missionaries work for the members, not the other way around. The members are like on a spiritual high, it's great! We're going to take advantage of it for sure. Sunday morning was a historic occasion. There is now the Bismarck, ND Stake as well as the Minot, ND Stake! It is so cool because Both the Stake President (Brother Tyson WIlliams) and Brother Greg Tonini (2nd Counselor) for the new Minot Stake are from the Minot First ward! Woohoo! It was so cool! Such a great day! It was awesome to see the thousands of people there in attendance (probably around 2,500 members or so). Elder Bowen gave another solid talk to us on Sunday, and as part of it he asked everyone to think of a family who is struggling and could benefit from the blessings we have as members of Christ's Church. He asked all those with a name in their head to raise their hand. He then explained that we just received personal revelation from God, and it was now up to us to follow through with that person. It was sooo insightful! It was an amazing experience. I got to shake hands with both Elder Bowen and Elder Hillier, and though I vowed I would never wash my hand again, do not worry. I did. :) But by FAR, this was the best stake conference I've ever been to. The SPirit was so strong!

Because President Anderson was up this weekend for Stake COnference, we got to have interviews with him this weekend instead of while we are down at Zone Conference next Monday and Tuesday. It was great! He told me things that I really needed to hear. And SIster Anderson is such a doll! Such a sweetheart, I just love her to death. I can't wait to see her again in a week! 

Ashley is doing really really well. This week we had planned to teach her the Word of Wisdom, but once we started teaching it, she asked some questions, so we taught her the Law of Chastity as well. It went great! Her dad was also very involved in the lesson, which was great because he doesn't always. Ashley's main struggle is going to be modesty, but she committed to live the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom, and so far is keeping both! She went out and bought knee-length skirts for Church and has been wearing t-shirts and capris--she is literally glowing. She is coming along so well and is LOVING Church and Mutual. She will be going to Trek and Girl's Camp in June, which will be great for her. Because she had such a good experience at Stake Conference (Elder Bowen even thanked those who were not members that were there in attendance for coming and then he bore his simple testimony to them--he is solid.), we are going to start praying about a date for her. Hopefully it would be before I left, but not my will, but His is the one we will go with. :)

We have been trying REALLY hard to do more tracting this week, and the Lord has been blessing us. We haven't gotten anymore new investigators yet (but it's a matter of when), but we have some solid potentials who have invited us back. Mike, Misty, Kyle, A lady we don't even know her name, Bradley, Aaron, Jen, Martin...SO one of them (or another one we find!) is bound to become a new investigator! It's always awesome to see your potential investigator pool growing!

We did another MSU Booth this week and it was good. Sister Manning and I talked to 2 people about Gospel things. One was a student who may be interested. We talked to him about the Plan of Salvation and exchanged numbers. We also talked with a fun Bible Basher, who knew the Bible very well. It was a bit intimidating, and he was NOT interested, but it was a good experience nonetheless. Never a boring moment as a missionary!

It was SO cute, the youngest Maples' boy heard last week that missionaries were coming over for dinner, and he was SO excited! He spent the whole day talking about it and everything. SO when the doorbell ringed, he ran to the door to see the elders standing there. He promptly exclaimed, "Not THESE missionaries!!!" And burst into tears and was grumpy the rest of the night. It's a super sad account, but at least this little guy likes it when we come over. :) He's our little bud. 

Karen and Brian are doing really well. We were able to teach them this week about prayer and they shared some awesome experiences with it. They weren't able to come to Stake Conference, but they were open with us! So we are moving forward. We're going to keep working with them, they'll get there. :) 

Shirley also continues to progress! This last week we taught her again, and reviewed + finished the Plan of Salvation. We got talking about baptism and the Priesthood Authority needed to perform baptism, when she asked the perfect question: "How do you know that you are the ones with the real priesthood and it's not someone else?" Next time, we will be teaching her the Restoration to help her understand how we know we have God's priesthood authority on the earth today. :) She also came to another Relief Society activity this week, which was GREAT! She really likes coming. :) 

I can't think of anything else awesome to write about, except I would like to invite you all to start reading in Preach My Gospel daily! Elder Ballard in General Conference invited us to, as well as Elder Bowen yesterday, so I know that it is important. You members are the actual missionaries; us missionaries are just here to help you. Next week I would love to get an email from you about what you studied in Preach My Gospel this week. So will you do that? "Of course, Sister Leslie!" Awesome. I'm excited to read your emails next week.

Shout out to all the mothers out there: Happy Mother's Day! Thank you for all you mothers do for all of us, everywhere! 

Love you all!
sister leslie.

Saying Goodbye to Elder Larsen! He is now in the Land of Eternal P-day
(otherwise known as he finished his mission and is now at home)

At the MSU Booth this week, I made a very impressive (or so I thought)
card tower out of Mormon.org cards. 

A shot of part of the people in attendance at the Sunday morning session of Stake Conference (was held not in our Church building as our Church building is TINY) It's fuzzy, but you get the picture.

A tracting shot, YESTERDAY, in the SNOW. Yep. It has
snowed every month since I've been here. Yay...