Monday, March 30, 2015

#BecauseHeLives

What's a week without running around being crazy?? I have no idea, I haven't had one in a while!! 

This will probably be fairly short because we have a LOT to do today (as we haven't even started packing yet...oh dear...), but I had to write a last email. How weird is that, everyone?! A LAST email! Honestly, at the start of my mission, I never thought this day would come and now as I sit here writing this, I'm all shaky and on the edge of a breakdown, like I have been all week. But this week has been a great last week, considering everything we've had to do to prepare our area, so I can't complain!!

This week, we had so much service and paperwork/cleaning out the apartment stuff to do, it was ridiculous. But! We still had some great lessons with people and had some good laughs and some good cries intermixed with all that.

I really want to talk about yesterday at church, so I'm going to do that first. It was fast Sunday yesterday, so Sister McConkie and I got to bear out testimonies and listen to the great testimonies borne by the awesome ward members here. Corbin and Sylver and their girls were at church yesterday, and Corbin got up and bore his testimony for the first time in his life!! To thank us as the missionaries for all we've done for him!! Oh man! Sister McConkie and I started fighting back the tears it was so great. Then, the closing song was "Families Can Be Together Forever", and we were sitting by the Ooka's, so Sister McConkie and I LOST it! We were there bawling in the middle of sacrament meeting! We tried so hard to compose ourselves, but then the member who gave the closing prayer blessed the missionaries and I lost it again, and then after the prayer we look over and Sylver is starting to cry, so that doesn't help!! Oh man it was quite the ordeal!! It was one of those reality-setting-in moments. But I'm feeling a lot better about leaving Corbin and Sylver now because they had great comments in Gospel Principles and I heard Corbin had great questions/.comments in Priesthood, they got to meet with Bishop yesterday and then we had dinner with Corbin and Sylver and their family and the Bishop's family last night. SO they're going to be okay! They're starting to internalize the things we've been teaching them and they're starting to get to know members in the ward! Last night when saying our goodbye's, Corbin gave me a bear hug and it was super weird!! SO, all guy friends at home expect hand shakes, okay?! OKay thanks. So yesterday was  one of those days that makes the hard times worth it. And that's why we lost it in Sacrament meeting--that was the last great missionary SUnday we'll ever had, and feeling the joy I do when I see someone start to understand the gospel is incredible. I'm really going to miss that. SO I just have to be a great member missionary so I can still keep having those feelings.
I don't even know what else to say!! I'm trying to think  of my whole mission in my mind and I just want to write all my feelings down about it, but that's impossible. I've loved my mission!! More than words can express, I've grown on my mission to become a better version of myself. My testimony and conversion has been strengthened, my desires turned more righteous and my faith has grown leaps and bounds. I love my Savior and and I know He lives. I'm so humbled to be His representative, His missionary. I can't honestly say I've loved every moment, but I have done my best to learn from every moment and become who Christ knows I can be. This is Christ's work. This is His Church. He is at the head and directs His living prophet, President Monson. He loves us and wants us to be happy. He has provided the way for us to return to Him if we will but be obedient and faithful to His commandments. 

The scripture I wanted to share this week is the promise given at the end of the Book of Mormon (Moroni 10:4-5): "4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.  5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." God wants to answer our prayers and show us the way to true joy and true happiness. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is one of the ways He does that. It is a record to show that Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and He loves His children ALL equally. As I have been a missionary, I have seen the Book of Mormon change lives and I have come to solidify my own testimony of this great book. I know it is true. I know God's word is contained in it. I know it, I know that God knows it, and I cannot deny it. I am so honored and grateful for this time I've had to spread the good word of the gospel through telling others about the Book of Mormon and I hope to carry this same mindset into the next chapter of my life. 

How many of you have seen the new Easter video the church came out with, Because He Lives?? It is AMAZING!! If you haven't been able to watch it, please go to HeLives.mormon.org to watch it now! The website is full of uplifting media and a fabulous walk through the last week of the Savior's life!! Go and get on now!! 

As far as this week goes, Sister McConkie will actually be going home on Wednesday and me on Thursday. She will be going on a family vacation immediately after she gets home, so she won't be here until the following Wednesday, April 8. What will I do without her for a whole week?! I have no idea!! But we'll make it work, as always. 

For any who are interested, my homecoming will be April 12th at 1:00 at the Stake Center by my house. More info to follow as it gets closer!

I love you all! 
sister leslie. (Oh, how I'll miss signing my letters and emails that way!)

Our fabulous district! L to R: Elder White, Sister Andersen, Sister Springer, 
Sister McConkie, Me, Elder Bell

Our special waffles at Leslee and Teresa's!

The Ooka Family :)

The one and only Bill the investigator.

Monday, March 23, 2015

HOLY GUACAMOLE!

That's right! We didn't do anything with sheep this week, but we did with cows!! I'm gonna flip out when I am in the city again! I'll be very claustrophobic and all...it'll be a weird adjustment for sure!! 

So what exactly did we do with cows this week? We vaccinated them. That's right! We herded them with these big sticks called Rattle Paddles into a chute of sorts, then they filled up the big needle with meds and did their thing! Sister McConkie and I each did 1 cow, because we're not professionals or anything. But! I can officially say that I've vaccinated a cow now! How many of you can say that? None? Oh! Well, it's fun! If you have the opportunity someday, go for it!! Ha,ha. It worked out great because we helped out Meghan and Bryce (Meghan is a less active and Bryce isn't a member), and were able to eat dinner with them after and share Because of Him with them! So yay! It was super fun. They own a cow ranch, it's pretty legit. Meghan was riding her horse for a while, and she had her chaps and spurs on and everything--they don't mess around! These are real, live cowboys!! At one point, one of the calves got loose, so Bryce got his rope, ran and hopped the fence, lassoed it while RUNNING, and then the other guy there helped him tackle it to the ground and get it back in the pen. It was nuts!

Neck update on Sister McConkie: so here's the real story. She hurt it originally 4 1/2 years ago playing soccer, and has reinjured it a bunch of times. She can't play soccer any more because it's too bad. She got it cleared to come on a mission, but then her first week in the field she got in a car accident and hurt it again. It wasn't too bad until a couple months ago, and then it's just gotten way bad. She's now used up all of her chiropractic appointments she can on her mission, and it's still not great. So she'll actually be coming home with me next week so she can really focus on her neck and give it the time and attention it needs to get better. So we'll both be home next week! Isn't that so sad?! But good in a way because since we're both from Bountiful, we'll be together to help each other out. So our list of things to do has skyrocketed this week, because we have to prepare our area to be washed (bringing either 2 sisters or 2 elders into the area), so there's a lot of information we have to let them know. So we are staying very busy! This will be one of the busiest weeks of my mission, I'm sure. Woohoo! 

We also got to see Tracy this week (sheep lady), and this time she showed us her box of cremated animals....she had us feel the difference of a cat compared to a border collie. SO that was weird!! But we also got to share Because of Him with her, and we got a really good discussion going, so that was awesome! More progress than we've ever had with her! So yay! Oh yeah! We also tried lamb formula, and after we tried it found out it was medicated. So good! We won't get any weird sheep disease!! Yay!

BILL CAME TO CHURCH! It was an Easter miracle!! We were so so excited!! We had a good lesson on Saturday, but what helped him to commit to come was the member who was with us. As soon as she found out that he was off work the next day, she straight out asked him, "Can we pick you up for church tomorrow?". He then had the whole lesson to think about it and by the end said, "If I don't get called into work, I'll come." When he got there Sundaymorning, We asked him how he was doing and he said, "Really nervous." After Sacrament meeting, we asked him how he was and he responded, "It wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be." So woohooo!! He went home after Sacrament meeting, but now that we got him there once and he liked it, it shouldn't be too hard to get him to come again!! Yay!! We were super pumped! That's the first time I've had an investigator at Sacrament meeting since I was in Casper! 

We've been starting to make great contacts with some of the part member families here, which is so great! It's a bit unfortunate because we're building these awesome relationships, but then won't be here to actually see where they go, but it's a part of the work I guess. But we've been loving the miracles we've been seeing with that! They are evident every day!! 

Bobbie's getting there. We had a pretty good lesson on prophets this week and were able to have it outside because it's been so warm! Towards the end of the lesson, it was fairly dark, but still! It's been great!! We've been loving the weather here. It;s been in the 50s/60s this last week, and the week before it was in the 70s all week! We're getting spoiled and we're loving it!! 

Corbin and Sylver are doing well, They are super bummed that both of us are leaving (as is everyone else we've told so far), so we're making the most of the lessons we have left with them. Corbin has been sick this week, and the stopping smoking thing didn't go so well, which is sad. So we'll get there. Tonight, we're going to provide them with some motivation by talking about eternal marriage!! 

The good thing about both of us going home is that it gives us a great excuse to get in with people, because they want to see us before we go and then we fit our lesson in there--BAM! That is good missionary work right there!!

Alma 7:11-13 has helped me so many times on my mission. It reads: "11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. 12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me." This is especially an appropriate Easter scripture. My favorite word in these verses is the word "succor". Succor means 'to run to'. When knowing this, it tells us that Christ didn't perform the Atonement just to cover our sins and mistakes, but EVERYTHING. Christ performed the Atonement so He might now how to run to our aid when we need it. He performed the Atonement to enliven us. My favorite quote on the Atonement was first spoken by Elder Bednar a couple general conferences ago. He said: "It is one thing to know that Jesus Christ came to the earth to die for us. But we also need to appreciate that the Lord desires, through His Atonement and by the power of the Holy Ghost, to enliven us—not only to guide but also to strengthen and heal us...There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first." I love that!! I have come to understand the Savior and His role in my life so much more as I have served Him as His full time representative. This is an amazing talk and I invite all of you to read it at https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/bear-up-their-burdens-with-ease?lang=eng. I love the Savior and am grateful every day for all He has done for me!!

I love you all so so much and am so humbled by all the experiences I have had and the testimony I have gained as I have been serving as His representative. Sister McConkie and I are going to make this the best week of our missions and serve with everything we have!!

I love you!
sister leslie. 

St. Patty's day green!

Us in Brother Stednick's coat. We were cold while standing outside, and we both fit in it! haha

Us with Meghan and our Rattle Paddles

Us and the cows!!

Vaccinating my cow!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Another Week In The Life of Me

Wow! I have the worst luck with being sick here! Last Tuesday, again we were in most of the day so I could sleep because I felt awful! And then, lucky Sister McConkie got it from me so she's just getting over it now. And, on exchanges, I passed it onto Sister Merrell! Wow! Yay for me. So that was the biggest adventure of the week.

I don't think I said enough last week about Sister McConkie. She has a bunch of neck problems that we've been trying to figure out, so for the moment we are going to the chiropractor a couple times a week, drinking crazy turmeric smoothies, I'm massaging her with a handheld massager thing, we go on a nice walk everyday, and I make sure she ices and heats it every day. It's quite the process every day! But if it helps her to not constantly be in pain, then it's worth it!!! So onward we are going and onward we will continue. :)

We had exchanges this week, and I got to stay in Belle with Sister Merrell, it was super fun!! She is a really good missionary, and she actually trained Sister McConkie, so that was a pretty fun thing! We had a great day, mostly helping 2 less-actives, Leslee and Teresa, clean out their backyard and clear out a woodpile infested with spiders. I just have some type of animal/insect contact every day. Maybe that's why I'm always sick here: its from one of the sheep! Darn.

We actually only met with Corbin and Sylver once this week, on Pi day! March 14, 15 was pi day because pi is 3.1415. So, we went over for dinner there and had chicken pot pie and blueberry pie to celebrate the occasion. It was awesome and now I can officially say I have celebrated Pi day to the fullest extent I can (while being an obedient missionary, of course!), so that is pretty darn awesome!! They continue to do well, although they haven't been keeping a lot of their commitments, so we're making that a focus in our next lessons! "If ye believe all these things, see that ye do them"! Name that scripture! (Hint: It's in the first 1/2 of the Book of Mormon!)

The other awesome things about this week is we got to go up to Alzada, Montana again!! We were supposed to meet up with Tim again, our investigator. But, he ignored us and "had to shear the sheep" or something, so we didn't actually see him. Which was a big bummer! But it turned out okay because we got to have a nice lesson with their daughter, Kelsie, who is less active. So it all worked out. But we hope to be able to teach Tim soon (or help him shear the sheep!!)!! But since we don't go to Montana that often, we took advantage of that opportunity and got pictures with all the state signs we saw: Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota! It was fun and adventurous! The pictures didn't turn out that great, but they'll work!!

We had 2 visits from Williston members this week who were woming through for various things that took us out, so I got to meet some cool members that love Sister McConkie! So that's always fun! Gotta love the members!!

We also attended a funeral this week for a woman who has been in the ward for many years, but in the nursing home for the last 3 or so. It was very evident who were members in the funeral and who were not, because of the way they reacted. All those present were sad, of course, but those who were members had a more hopeFUL look about them, while those who weren't members had a more hopeLESS look about them. It was very interesting. The knowledge we have of the plan of Salvation and especially life after death becomes a life line to us at those times. I don't know what I would do without having the sure knowledge that my family Is sealed together because of the temple. The gospel truly does bless our families!!

The scripture for this week: Alma 26:27. "Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions , and I will give unto you success."  This scripture is direct counsel given to missionaries in The Book of Mormon, but even though it was counsel given thousands of years ago, this verse has been the scripture I have turned to the most on my mission. There have been times on my mission where I have forgotten the Lord's promises to a diligent missionary, and at these times, I have come to this verse to get my mindset and attitude back on track. I have seen this work so many times! The times I have felt the most successful have been the times I have worked my hardest. That's no coincidence! That is an attitude I will strive to keep even after my mission, for it still applies!

I am so grateful for this time I have to serve the Lord, though it is quickly speeding by. It has really taught me to make the most of every day and to live every moment so as to have no regrets!

I love you all a ton!!
sister leslie.

Exchange with Sister Merrell (we switched back in Sturgis, the light up cross belongs to a church there)

Pi(e) day!!

Me and SoDak

Us and South Dakota

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Ox Tail Stew, Lunch with President and Sister Anderson, and other fun adventures

Hello!!! Greetings from Sheepville, USA! We actually haven't done anything with sheep this week. IMagine that!! It was good to get a good break from that for just a bit. Right after I leave, in about a month, we might be helping another member family brand cattle! And I'm going to miss it! DANG IT!!! Ahh well. What can you do?

So, about that Ox Tail stew--it's a real thing!! Some less active members fed it to us and it is officially the weirdest thing I have ever eaten in my life! It's regular stew with carrots, potatoes, onions (I've just gotten used to having allergic reactions by this point, and the Lord is for sure blessing me to not react as much as I normally do), just with an added oddity. Ox tail bones look like vertebrae bones, and the meat sticks to it (the cartilage gets all melty and gooey), and it's pretty elastic-y and chewy. It was not that good. But! What can you do? Sister McConkie and I did our best to eat as much off the bone we could, but neither of us finished. So guess what they did with it?? They KEPT our left overs to finish them after we left because they like it so much!!! What in the world?!! That is not okay!! Oh man, it was so weird. So, everyone back in Utah, never complain about the "gross food" you have to eat because it could be ox tail soup!!

This week was Zone Training Meeting, my last one as a missionary, and it was so good! All of them have been awesome, but I tried to make this one extra special. My favorite training was Sister Anderson's training on gratitude and how much of a difference it makes in our lives. At this point of my mission and heading into non-missionary life, it will be vital to remember to be grateful IN my circumstances and to be seeing the positives in whatever situation I find myself, especially with my mission ending. That is really throwing me for a loop and I feel at some moments like my life will literally have no purpose as a non-missionary, but I know there are still things I need to learn and do that I can't do out here, so I will keep trusting in my Heavenly Father and cleaving to Him at this time of my life. Although, I was sick (again, this time with a sore throat..yippee) and there was a lot going on, so that added a bit of stress, but it was still super fun. We had a nice long talk after with President and Sister Anderson about a bunch of stuff, which really helped us out. From there, we went out to eat and just picked a place by random, Qdoba, and we walk in and who's there? That's right--President and Sister Anderson! SO we got to eat lunch with them, one-on-one, which was really fun because that doesn't happen every day! Most of the time everyone's trying to talk to them, so it was so fun to get some personal time with them. They are awesome!! And so happy and just plain amazing. Remember how the mission is splitting? Well, it's actually happening on April 28, we found out and so my group that goes home with me is going to be the last group to go see Mount Rushmore with the Mission President and his wife of the SDRCM! How crazy is that?! (That's the tradition now for all the missionaries going home, is going to see MOunt Rushmore the day before going home). The mission home moves up to Bismarck the end of April. It's going to be so weird. SO that's the latest SDRCM news! I'm part of the last group EVER to return from the SDRCM. All the other transfers will be from the NDBM (North Dakota Bismarck Mission). It weirds me out! 

The LOrd has really been blessing us with good appointments and people to teach, especially less-actives, which has been great! A lot of people are starting to progress and to move forward! Corbin and Sylver are doing pretty good, we only saw them twice last week, but they still love us coming over and they even gave us a present last week: a SOns of Provo CD! Oh brother! Corbin was so excited to give it to us, but since it's unapproved, obvi we're not going to listen to it. So, parents, we'll have to listen to it on the way driving up to Belle just for that reason. They didn't come to church and didn't have a reason not to, so that was a bit frustrating. But we'll get them there! We'll keep working with them and doing our best! 

We're starting to work more with a less active, Sister Bowers, who is so awesome and prepared!! She is trying to quit smoking and coffee on her own because she knows it's wrong and hurting her body. It's pretty awesome to work with people who are self-motivated and doing everything they can to come closer to Christ. So we're super excited to keep working with her and to do everything we can to help her along the path she's already on! :)

I feel like a lot happened this week, and it did, but most of it was going to doctor's appointments, having Sister McConkie get an MRI, driving to Rapid and Spearfish getting all of this figured out, so it's just been one of those weeks with a lot of stuff going on! But everything is looking up and we're doing everything we can to get Sister McConkie back to tip-top shape!! 

The scripture I wanted to share for this week is Ether 12:4: "Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith , maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God." I LOVE the image of an anchor. Anchors keep a ship from being tossed by the waves and wind around them; faith helps us keep from being tossed by the trials and questions we have. It's easy to forget sometimes that faith is so important, it's easy to look over because it's so simple. But having faith and building faith needs to be one of our very top priorities. It's something that constantly needs effort, and as we grow more faith, more is required to keep it growing. But it always bring so much more peace, joy and contentment into our lives as we have more faith. We are built upon the rock of our Redeemer, "a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall" (Helaman 5:12). Check out the talk "Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority" by Elder Ballard at          https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/make-the-exercise-of-faith-your-first-priority?lang=eng         for more study on this great, awesome subject that all of us need!! This has been a great scripture for me at this time because I have started to feel so lost at the prospect of ending my mission and becoming a normal citizen again. But, no matter what, I still have my faith and I can stay strong in that when I'm not a missionary! In fact, in some ways, I feel like it will be even more important for me to cleave to my faith after my mission. 

I am so grateful for your support and prayers! 

I love you!
sister leslie.

Us at ZTM :)

The Coolest semi ever!

Voice Recording: Happy Birthday, Daddy!!!!  Hope it's the best one you have EVER had!

Monday, March 2, 2015

All About That Laura Ingalls Wilder Life

Well, howdy!! I feel like a true South Dakotian this week as I write because we have done some pretty South-Dakotian things in the last 6 days!!

First of all, we tagged sheep. Yep, that's right!! What is that, you ask? Tagging sheep is where you put the little ear tags on them with the numbers on them so they have a form of identity. To prepare ourselves for this fun task, we went and bought thrift store shoes and clothes so we didn't kill our other ones and we could trash them, if needed. When the day came, we first had to gather up all the little lambs and then herd the sheep them Sister McConkie or I would wrangle the sheep and hold their heads as still as we could so Tracy, the less active we were helping, could effectively pierce their ear with the tag. It was quite the workout!! It was pretty crazy, actually. But really super fun!! At one point, the sheep were all crowded together and we needed something from the other side of the pen, so I got volunteered to go get it...by walking across the sheep! Who can say they have walked across sheep?! I even have a picture included so I have proof!! You think horses can buck, sheep's heads go CRAZY when the tagger machine touches them. It was seriously one of the hardest things ever. And then sheep step on you and all that...no bueno! These are like 200 pound pregnant sheep! It doesn't feel great when they step on you. Next we did the lambs. What they do with the lambs is they tag their little ears, too and then some of them have to get their tails banded off (using a really small rubber band and putting it on the right spot of the tail makes it fall off naturally in a couple week!! Yikes!)  to avoid infection and stuff...I felt bad for them. But it's all a part of life, I guess. It also worked out great because Steve, Tracy's husband has a super nice camera so he was the photographer, so we got super legit pictures of it all! We're going to remember it forever. I won't how to use a smart phone or facebook when I get home, but ask me about banding and herding sheep and I've got your covered. #SDRCMlife

Corbin and Sylver are doing so awesome!!! This week, we had a super awesome experience with teaching the Word of Wisdom. Corbin's friend was also there and he joined us for the lesson, and the Word of Wisdom totally made sense to him and he was willing to try living it! How cool is that!! If that doesn't testify of the converting power of the Spirit, nothing will! We went over the next morning, Saturday, to teach Corbin and his friend the stop smoking program!! His friend ended up not joining us, which was a bummer, but Corbin did it and he is doing awesome!! He has smoked for 12 years and in the last 2 days has smoked 4 cigarettes total. That is a HUGE difference!! He is coming along great and totally open and willing to change so he can be sealed with his family. Every time we come over, he tells us, "Never think that your mission has been for nothing. If anything, you've helped me." That is so uplifting and so good to know! There are those really sad, disheartening days, so it really helps to know that I'm needed here in Belle and am helping someone. It's an awesome feeling to know that not only are SIster McConkie (and the SPirit) and I helping this one family now, but it's helping them for eternity, and that's the power of the gospel!! We love going over and teaching them, they're the members we're definitely closest to here. 

Bobbie is doing awesome!! We're so helping that she'll be with us at church next Sunday, and we know she can get there! She loves us and is open with us and is coming to find for herself that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints truly does have all the pieces of Christ's gospel He taught while on earth...I love helping people make that connection!! 

We had a great experience doing family history with Sister Crippen, another less active in our ward!! We were able to use FamilySearch and Ancestry.com to get one of her lines all the way back to the 1000s! It was a really powerful experience and I even got into it!! She and I kept getting so excited every time we found a name and I learned a lot about family history! Not all, but most of my tree is done, so I've never been able to search for my great-grandparents and all that. SO it was really cool. It got Sister Crippen so excited, and I think it helped our relationship with her to develop more! Yay! We hope to do some more family history with her again this week! :)

The scripture for this week has helped me immensely on my mission. It is Mosiah 24:13-15. At this point in the scriptures, the people are in bondage to the Lamanites and are enduring all sorts of trials and hardship. They keep praying to God for help, and this is how their answer comes:  13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. 14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions. 15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord. I love how this scripture tells us the people were strengthened. I have felt that in the hardest times of my mission, that strengthening power!! That is powerful! It is real! It is there for any and all who need it. In our trials, we often cry out, "Why me?", but I have come to learn that because God loves us, He wants us to be as He is and feel the joy He has. The only way for us to become more like Him is going to be a difficult but worth it road, an uncomfortable but blessings-filled path that will lead us to perfect joy and happiness. The way that God helps to strengthen us is through His Son's infinite Atonement. Take some time this week to read the talk, "Bear Up Their Burdens With Ease" by Elder Bednar--It will make this scripture even more personally meaningful.

I love you all so much!! I am grateful to be serving as a missionary full time, with everything I have, for the short time I have left. I'm learning things I couldn't in any other way. 
sister leslie.

p.s. reminder about that Nebraska quarter!! I really need to find one!! :) 


Bringing in the lambs we caught

Yep, that's right--walking on the sheep!! 

Poor little lamb getting his tail banded off

Us with Tracy, the less active we did this for. 

Eeeewwww! Us with the cigarettes we confiscated from Corbin 
while doing the stop smoking lesson! 

Us with Willow and Sakora, Corbin and Syler's daughters--
they wanted to be missionaries, too!

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Typical SoDak Week

This week, even though it's been a bit shorter than a usually email week, has had so much stuff packed into it, it's insane!! Sister McConkie and I have been staying super busy and we've been having some really cool experiences! 

But, first of all, I need a Nebraska Quarter to finish my SDRCM quarter collection. SO I would really appreciate it if someone could send me one!! I need to finish it before my mission ends. So calling all help for that!

Missionary's immune systems are definitely made stronger and are able to withstand a lot because we have been in so many germy situations this week!! We're always in the Parrot Welfare (haha Sister McConkie's not too into birds, so she kept joking about the bird flu), but this week we also cleaned this really dirty house that had dog feces everywhere and all the dog hair was stuck to it....we'll just leave the imagery at that. How did that happen? 3 dogs and 3 cats that aren't well trained at all, and her kids don't do anything to clean the house and she works full time...yeah. But legit in that place we thought we might get something or react weird to something in there because we didn't have any masks or gloves or anything. But it definitely looked a lot better when we left than when we got there, so that was great!!! And we didn't get any weird disease...yet. Hopefully it can stay that way, because it was not pleasant. I don't know how that family lives there. And then, we went and visited with a less active who is a dog trainer. She has TWENTY-SEVEN dogs of her own and is training 13 currently, so there are FORTY dogs are her place right now!!! FORTY!!!! What in the world?? But Tracy, the less active who we were visiting up there is so funny! She also has a whole bunch of sheep to effectively train her dogs to herd, so Sister McConkie and I got to hold a lamb that was only 24 hours old and to feed a lamb that is only 2 weeks old and SIster McConkie got to hold a chicken! Her house is always a party!! We're going back on Tuesday to help her tag and band her sheep! We'll have to like tackle them and stuff! That'll be fun!! Haha Tracy kept talking about how she needs to move to a place where there's not as many people, and she lives in Arpan. Arpan is a village of sorts, really just a cluster of houses, but all the houses are spread waaaaay apart, so there's only one neighbor of hers that you could see. DOn't know why she needs less neighbors than one, but she does!!! I'm just sooo glad I'm not allergic to animals, because it wouldn't work as a missionary, and definitely not in the places I've served. People here looove their pets....gross. 

Bobbie is doing awesome!!! We had a really cool experience this week with her daughter, Krystal, getting a priesthood blessing. Krystal was really sick and in a lot of pain, but the doctors said she was physically fine and the ER wouldn't take her because she wasn't a "true emergency" or something like that, so Bobbie was understandably stressed. We got a hold of the elders in time to have them come to give the blessing and it was an awesome experience!! Bobbie recognized immediately after the blessing Krystal started doing a little better. She could walk by herself and she was laughing a little bit. And she also recognized that the spirit was really strong, so that was awesome!! Her testimony of the priesthood and thus the restoration is increasing and growing without her even realizing it! We had a great lesson with her this week about faith and repentance and we talked about the power of the Book of Mormon a little bit and experimenting upon the word. She told us that her meeting with missionaries has been able to open her a lot to the "Mormons" and to open her to coming to Church. She had a bad experience with members in Utah, so she's been closed for a long time. But she said she'll come to church with us and give it a good, honest try! SO that was a HUGE breakthrough with her!! SHe is starting to come along so well!! And to help her to trust us more and to see where she's coming from, we went to church with her yesterday! She goes to the Connection Church, which is a non-denominational church, so that was exciting. Sister McConkie had never been to any other religion before, so it was fun to watch her. :) Church was actually pretty good and fairly accurate, I just kept feeling that something was missing. What was it? Oh yeah! The Restoration and the Book of Mormon! But it's great to know that there are good people in the world who know that Christ is their Savior and it is through His grace we are saved, after all we can do. We got to talk to the pastor afterwards and we had a good conversation with him. President Anderson gave all the missionary companionships in the mission a Bible Videos DVD, 50 scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. We're going to go back in a few weeks to meet with him and see how he likes the videos!! SO that was really cool.

Bill is getting there! We taught him the word of wisdom and it actually went fairly well. He is willing to live it, we just have to help him stop smoking, so we need to help him build up his motivation and confidence in himself, so we're going to keep making that a focus with him!! 

We've been able to get in with some less actives that I've never taught yet, and it's super cool because they're part member families!! The wives in both of the homes we were in last week are members, but their husbands are not, so that have some pretty great potential for us to teach! Especially Steve, the husband of Tracy (dog lady). SO we are way excited about that!! 

I love SIster McConkie so much!! She is awesome! It's been really fun to talk about some Bountiful native things. And she is just so cute and funny! We laugh all the time and are having all sorts of fun adventures and experiences. She;s a great teacher and she's a great person! We have a lot in common and she's keeping me focused and working my hardest! We're expecting miracles and already starting to see some!! The rest of this transfer is going to be awesome!!!!!

The scripture of this week is Alma 26:11-12. It reads: "...I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy , and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing ; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things ; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever." I love this scripture because Ammon, who is speaking at the time, is so humble!! He recognizes that he is weak, but God is strong, and so everything will work out in the end. All of us need to get this attitude. Can you imagine the impact if every person in your family/work/church group just realized this simple fact that "With God, nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:37)? It would have a hug impact!! Realizing where our true strength comes from leads to a strengthened relationship with our Heavenly Father and a solid view of who we truly are. Take some time this week and ponder about what you can do to understand better your relationship with Heavenly Father! I know you will learn something new that will help you!!

I love you all so much!! I am so grateful for this time I have to serve the Lord with all my heart, might, mind and strength as His full-time representative. :) This is His work, this is His Church!!
sister leslie.


Dressing up at the TriState Museum

The super gross suddenly salad we made ourselves because we didn't 
have anything else to make ourselves

Aren't we just the cutest?! 

The Geographical Center of the Nation picture that didn't make it on there last week...

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I'm Still Alive!!!

Sorry, sorry, sorry this is late, this week has been CRAZY!! This letter will be short but I'll try to fit everything in there!! So first point, Sister Barrett got transferred this week to Wiliston, ND! She left on Monday, so I was in Rapid Tuesdayand most of today (until 3) waiting for my new companion, Sister McConkie, to come. So I have her now and she is great!! She is from good ol' Bountiful, UT (OH YEAH! Parents, you must track down her family! You have no excuses now!) and has been on her mission for 4 1/2 months. I'm so excited to work with her!! :) More pictures to come next week. :) She is awesome though. I love her a lot already. It's so weird that Sister Barrett left though because I was just with her for 1 transfer and I'll just be with Sister McConkie for 1 transfer. Crazy stuff! (Yes, she is related to Bruce R McConkie. He's her grandpa's brother.)

Okay super abbreviated version!

Zone Conference was amazing!! I loved it!! I had to bear my final testimony because it was my last Zone Conference and even though that was awful that it was my last ZC I loved being ble to share with others my love for my mission! So that was pretty powerful!

We went ot a bull sale to support one of our less actives, so that was a new experience! Never been to one of those before! Each bull was like 3-9 thousand dollars! Crazy!

We finally got up to Alzada, MT to teach on of our investigators the day before Sister Barrett left! It was super fun! We have special permission to teach them because they live out of our mission but we get to teach them! It's awesome! So that was great.

Sorry this is so short!! I have no time!! Look up 2 Nephi 2:11! That's the scripture of the week!! I love you! I promise to write a better email next week!!

love,
sister leslie.

Me and Gospel Lane

Sister Anderson and I at Zone Conference last week

At the Bull Sale...yeah that's right!

President and Sister Anderson came to our district meeting!

Us and Bill

The Belle Fourche missionaries!

Us with Corben and Sylver and their family

Leaving the mission to teach a lesson...yes it's approved!

Last pic with Sister Barrett

Seeing Sister Woodbury again on her way to Grand Forks, ND

Monday, February 9, 2015

Never Boring!

Just when you think things are going to calm down, they pick right back up!!

Take, for example, that last MOnday I was feeling much better and then on Tuesday--BAM! I was sicker than a dog and sicker than I've ever been in my whole life, or at least in my recollection! So that was a not too fun adventure that set us back another couple of days. Yaaayyy. But the good news is I am back to full health now, knock on wood, so I am counting my blessings! 

Even though I was sick and down for a good 3 days, we still had some awesome lessons and were able to accomplish some great things!! Heavenly Father truly is aware of me and my situation here in Belle, I cannot deny it!! 

We had exchanges this week, and I stayed here in Belle with Sister Rodriguez, our Sister Training Leader. I also came out with her, so it was fun to teach with her and get to know her more!! SHe is an awesome teacher and it was super fun to be able to teach with someone who has had a lot of experience teaching, like I have. I love her a lot!! We got to teach some awesome less actives and our investigator, Bill, and we also got to serve at the Parrot Welfare place again, which was super fun! Sister Rodriguez loved it and being able to talk to all the birds, haha. SO it was a really fun exchange!!

Bill is doing awesome!! He has given the closing prayer at our last 2 appointments!! That is HUGE for him!! SO slowly but surely he is progressing and he will totally get there!!

Sister Barrett and I have been making a big focus this week on having lessons simply about Jesus Christ and HIs atonement, and it has been so powerful!! The SPirit that it brings into the room is incredible and it builds a relationship of trust between us and who we are teaching, so it has been great!! It's making a big difference for those we are teaching and it's helping me to focus again on why I'm a missionary and what "inviting others to come unto Christ" really means. SO it has been really powerful!!

Corben and Sylver are still doing awesome, but they didn't come to church!! SO that's a super bummer. But we'll get them next week!! We were really bold with them this week about repentance and what sincere repentance means and how we can sincerely repent. I think it helped them to gain new perspectives that they hadn't thought of before, so mission accomplished!! (Not really, but lesson accomplished!) 

We found this new less active couple, the Bowers, and they are super super cool! They remind me a bit of the McKinney family up in Minot that I taught, so I am super PUMPED to work with them!! We found their house finally after we almost murdered 2 deer that were trying to commit suicide.....missed them by like 2 feet! Missionaries are watched over for sure, not a doubt in my mind about that!! 

Sister Barrett and I are starting to get along much better, we're starting to become actual friends. Thank goodness the awkward phase is ending!! But transfer calls are this Saturday and there's a big chance that she could get moved so I can hand off the area before I.....never mind. I'm going to be a missionary forever so I don't know why I'm all worried. Ha. 

Fun riddle of the week: "Where do horses go when they're sick? To the neigh-popopital!!!" (The little boy who told us this couldn't say 'hospital' haha. So stinkin' cute!) 

The scripture of the week is Ether 12:27"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." This week, I have felt weak very many times, moments when I am tired or done trying people and the like, and I know I should act better or just BE better, but it doesn't happen like that. My weaknesses can be very frustrating sometimes, because I've been a missionary for a while, so I feel like I need to be a lot better at many things than I am, but if I didn't have any weaknesses, I couldn't grow!! That's partly why focusing on teaching about Jesus Christ has been awesome this week, because it has again given me the perspective that I can use my weaknesses to bring me closer to Jesus Christ, who can help me turn them into strengths. It's a very powerful principle and I have seen it work again and again on my mission!!

I love you all and hope you are just dandy!!
sister leslie.

Sister Rodriguez and I cleaning one of the bird exhibits at the Parrot Welfare

Oh no--we're stuck in the exhibit!!!

Yep, that's right--petting a toucan!!

Our district: Me, Sister Barrett, Elder Dudley, Elder Emmett, Elder Powell and Elder Bell

Blizzard of the Month after a rough appointment! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Another Week Survived!

Now, that's not the attitude to have, I know. You shouldn't look at a mission by getting weeks done with. But this week I got the flu, so I was glad to have that go into the past! I forget how miserable that is!

But we had some fun times still this week, before that set in! 

Corben and Sylver are still doing awesome!! We met with them 4 times last week! How cool is that?! We are reviewing a lot of what we've taught them already so they can remember those things and grow to gain a testimony of them! So that is great!! We've been doing a lot of object lessons with them this week, which has been fun for their girls. They didn't come to church this week (darn it!!), but don't worry--they'll get there! They take good care of us as well. We went over and taught them on Saturday as well as ate dinner with them, but I was super sick that day, so I just drank Sprite and they let me be chill! They also helped teach the lesson, they're awesome! So they're continuing to do great!

We also found a new investigator this week who seems very open! At District Meeting on Friday, we were talking about our concerns and doing our best to help each other solve them. The concern that we brought up was how to effectively find and retain investigators. (Sounds funny to have to retain investigators, I know, but it's the truth! A lot of our investigators have dropped us since I got here). We got some really good ideas about how to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost to end up in the place where Heavenly Father needs us to be. And also that morning, before district meeting, we had texted one of our potential investigators to ask when would be a good time we could come by to share a faith-building message about Jesus Christ. Miraculously, during district meeting, he texted us back (which is a miracle even of itself) and said he was free that afternoon!! That like never happens! So we were super pumped!!! We got a member to come and we taught him! His name is Kacie, and he has a catholic background. He seems pretty open and willing to learn more! We're excited to work with him!! So that was a HUGE blessing from our Heavenly Father to help us out a bit since we have been struggling with finding and teaching investigators. 

We started a new service project this week helping at the Parrot Welfare! Sara, you would DIE at this place! I got to PET a TOUCAN! Yep! It was awesome!! They have all sorts of birds from cockatiels and lovebirds to macaws and cockatoos to some bird from Africa that is the only bird of it's kind in captivity in the world! And it's here in Belle! So that was fun! They have one that looks just like Alfredo and a couple that look just like Sweetie. 

We got in with a couple of less actives this week that haven't been visited by missionaries in a very long time, we think, so that was really cool! One of them is a part member family, so that was great! We're not sure if we're going to be able to get back in, but we will sure try!! And try again if necessary! And again! And again! We can be persistent! :) 

We also found a really good pizza place here that's one of a kind and homemade, kinda reminds me of the Pie a little bit. SO that was cool! When you start looking, Belle Fourche has some pretty cool places in it and unique things that you can't find anywhere else in the state, nation, or in some cases even the world!! Who would have thought?! 

So yeah Saturday and Sunday I was pretty much down wit the flu, today I'm much better but not perfect yet by any means. But it's a process and I'll get there! Luckily, we only had 1 lesson on Saturday and 1 on Sunday that we had to go to, and then church obviously, so I could lay down for those 2 days pretty much and sleep!! And sleep I did. And watched some of the movies I've seen about 20 times....yessss!

The scripture I wanted to share this week is 2 Nephi 31:20--"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope , and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." This is one of the only times in the Book of Mormon where our Father in Heaven directly tells us something. And here, He gives us the way to return to Him again! It's very simple and it makes a big impact (remember last week's scripture? By small and simple means are great things brought to pass? Here it is again!) I like to think of this scripture when I'm having a rough day or having a hard time with something to remind myself that I don't have to be perfect in everything, or really in ANYthing. I just need to keep moving forward with faith in my Savior and trust in His plan for me. I can build my faith by reading the scriptures, praying, making church and the sacrament a meaningful experience and following the promptings of the Holy Ghost. These things DO make a difference for me, and they do for all of us!! Keep pushing forward and using the tools our Heavenly Father has given us to fight the adversary! His tools are sooo much more powerful than our enemys'. :)

I love all of you so much!!! I hope your week is going well and will continue to get better and better!!

love,
sister leslie.

Oh, and weather update! It's a balmy 30 degrees outside with a few inches of snow and ice! Welcome back, winter! :(