Monday, September 22, 2014

You'll never guess...

   I'm training again! I don't have any idea why..... but I apparently need to learn something else that I didn't get the first time. Also, Sister R_____ is going to my last area in Boise East! It was such a crazy transfer call; we were screaming and jumping.  I am going to miss her a lot, but I can't even be sad because she's going to the best area in the mission.  I'm a little bit jealous actually.
   Earlier this week we had a Sister's Training Meeting, which basically means that all of the sister missionaries in the mission get together for a conference at the Mission Office. It was SO good, and I learned so much. The theme was Priesthood, and we were trained by President and Sister Winder as well as Sister Christiansen (first counselor's wife--basically Mom's job).  It was truly amazing, and my hand was flying down the page, trying to take notes on everything they were saying. My favorite thing was a parable by President Packer about the Keys of the Priesthood. I'll probably just attach it or put it at the end of this email.
   Well, a lot else happened this week, but I'll just tell a really quick story involving a member of our ward.  After a couple empty doors, Sister R_____ and I decided to stop by Sister T's house quickly to let her know about transfers before we headed off to a baptism that evening. Right when we were walking up to the house, though, she came flying out of the front door with tears in her eyes saying, "How did you know to come?" We held her for a few minutes before going inside. Apparently, she was just having the worst day of her life and was just about to start her pity party, when she looked out the window and saw us driving up! After talking for a while, Sister R_____ and I had the same thought.
  "Do you want to have a really spiritually uplifting experience? I know it's last minute, but we're on our way to a baptism right now, and if you're feeling spontaneous, we'll just hop in your car." She immediately agreed that it was exactly what she needed.  Anyway, that was just a little miracle we had.
   I love you all so much! I will let you know next week who my companion is!
Sister Pratt

P.S. This is the parable I was talking about. It's pretty long but SO worth it!

   Once a man received as his inheritance two keys. The first key, he was told, would open a vault which he must protect at all cost. The second key was to a safe within the vault which contained a priceless treasure. He was to open this safe and freely use the precious things which were stored therein. He was warned that many would seek to rob him of his inheritance. He was promised that if he used the treasure worthily, it would be replenished and never be diminished, not in all eternity. He would be tested. If he used it to benefit others, his own blessings and joy would increase.
   The man went alone to the vault. His first key opened the door. He tried to unlock the treasure with the other key, but he could not, for there were two locks on the safe. His key alone would not open it. No matter how he tried, he could not open it. He was puzzled. He had been given the keys. He knew the treasure was rightfully his. He had obeyed instructions, but he could not open the safe.
In due time, there came a woman into the vault. She, too, held a key. It was noticeably different from the key he held. Her key fit the other lock. It humbled him to learn that he could not obtain his rightful inheritance without her.
   They made a covenant that together they would open the treasure and, as instructed, he would watch over the vault and protect it; she would watch over the treasure. She was not concerned that, as guardian of the vault, he held two keys, for his full purpose was to see that she was safe as she watched over that which was most precious to them both. Together they opened the safe and partook of their inheritance. They rejoiced for, as promised, it replenished itself.
   With great joy they found that they could pass the treasure on to their children; each could receive a full measure, undiminished to the last generation.
   Perhaps some few of their posterity would not find a companion who possessed the complementary key, or one worthy and willing to keep the covenants relating to the treasure. Nevertheless, if they kept the commandments, they would not be denied even the smallest blessing.
   Because some tempted them to misuse their treasure, they were careful to teach their children about keys and covenants.
   There came, in due time, among their posterity some few who were deceived or jealous or selfish because one was given two keys and another only one. “Why,” the selfish ones reasoned, “cannot the treasure be mine alone to use as I desire?”
   Some tried to reshape the key they had been given to resemble the other key. Perhaps, they thought, it would then fit both locks. And so it was that the safe was closed to them. Their reshaped keys were useless, and their inheritance was lost.
   Those who received the treasure with gratitude and obeyed the laws concerning it knew joy without bounds through time and all eternity.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

No Time

   I seriously don't have any time this week to email--sorry! We got to go to the temple today which was so amazing. It's my favorite thing to do! I'm just gonna send some pictures of that p-day activity we had a few weeks ago, and call it good. Love you all!!
Sister Pratt
Our zone at a correlation meeting

Our district at the temple today

Now for the fun ones.  This was the tug of war I was trying to describe.

Hermana Cole being dragged against her will.

I learned how to play lacrosse! (sort of) Notice what shirt I am wearing.....

It was so fun!

They had a bunch of puppies!

Monday, September 8, 2014

September? Really?

   Wow. Time is going WAY too fast. It's not allowed to be September, yet. Sister Roundy and I decided. So everyone has permission to just go back to August. Today is officially August 39th, so enjoy it :)
   For my email this week, I just wanted to share one experience that just sums up why missionary work is so amazing.  I know that if you persevere through the test, blessings will come. I know that Sister Roundy and I have been up against some opposition in this area, but we have continued to press forward, and the blessings are coming!
   This week was actually really slow in the beginning. No one really "had time" for us.  We couldn't find many people to teach, but we kept going.  Saturday was a miracle day.  We contacted this part-member family that we had met before but never had been able to teach.  The mother, Kim, is a less-active member, but she still has a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  She just doesn't want to choose church over her family. Her husband isn't a member, and neither of the children have been baptized because the mom hasn't really encouraged them at all. Anyway, when we went to the house, the only ones there were Kim and Preston, the 16 year-old son.  We basically just started right in asking questions about the church. They explained that the dad of the family won't join just because he doesn't believe it, but they have confidence that he will eventually get the answer he is seeking. Preston casually mentioned that he has already read the Book of Mormon. The rest of the lesson went something like this, with Sister Roundy and I switching off basically every question and significant pauses in between.
  "What did you think of the Book of Mormon when you read it?"
  "Well, I basically looked at it as a history book."
  "What do you mean by that?"
  "Well, I just knew it was true. There wasn't even a question in my mind."
  "That's amazing. We know that testimony will truly help you in your life as you face trials and opposition.  The Book of Mormon contains so much truth and strengthens our relationships with our Heavenly Father." We read the last two paragraphs in the Introduction to the Book of Mormon and talked more about how having that testimony can also lead us to develop faith in Jesus Christ and His established church on the earth. After a long pause we said, "I know you might not feel ready now, but will you prepare yourself to be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?"
  "I think I can say yes to that."
  By this time, the Spirit was so strong in the room, I couldn't believe it.  "What do you think you need to do in order to achieve that preparation?" 
  "Probably go to church..... and also, I want to talk to my family about it and get their support."
  "Yes. Those are things that you need to do."  There was another long pause.  "Preston, how do you feel right now?"
  "Calm." He smiled. "Right when I said 'yes' this wave of calm just came over me."
  "We want to testify to you that this feeling of peace is the Spirit of the Lord.  He is telling you that this is the path you need to be on.  We want you to remember this feeling and look for it often as you go down this path because that is how you will know that you are doing the right thing." 
  He agreed with us.
   Sister Roundy and I left that lesson star-struck. Nothing we said or brought up were even things we talked about before we went in.  It was given to us by the Spirit because we really just tried to listen to what he was saying.  I can probably count on one hand the number of lessons that I have had on my mission when the Spirit was so strong, and the person was so prepared.  These experiences are what make up for the hard times. They are the experiences that confirm your testimony and faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  
   I just love my mission so much! Everything about it--the growth, the people, the trials, the testimony, the Spirit.  All of it!!
Sister Pratt

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Throwing Giant Metal Coconuts of Mean Words!

 That's a quote from a little girl, Halley K___, describing what happens when the Spirit isn't in your home. We had FHE with her family last night. She's so cute.
   Right now, the only thing at the forefront of my mind is how incredibly sore I am. Yesterday was Pday and we went to the Brunson's home as a zone to play games. It was SO much fun. We did double dutch and volleyball, as well as lacrosse, botchie and football.  We also played board games like Madgab and Trivial Pursuit: Lord of the Rings.  The best part by far, though, was the tug-o-war.  Imagine the anchors that they have at the end of the ropes that people can stand in and use their whole body weight to pull. Yeah ok. Imagine 4 of those made from deflated innertubes (one person in each) and they're all pulling in 4 opposite directions. It was so fun. We did it probably 7 times. I loved it so much, but I am SO sore... I noticed this morning that I have patches of popped blood vessels on my hips from where the band was sitting.  There are some STRONG sisters in our zone.. but I'm happy to announce that I won a couple times! At one point, the 3 other girls teamed up against me to keep me from winning... so basically the 3 of them were pulling in my opposite direction. It was insane. Hopefully we will have more pictures next week!
   Another exciting thing that happened this week was I got to go on exchanges with Sister Haas. A lot of you probably don't know this, but she was in my ward at BYU before the mission!  It was so much fun to be together for a day.  We met this lady named Olga. I was pretty excited to tell her I was almost named that--almost being a relative term because we all know Mom never even considered it--and she basically told me that I was lucky and she hated her name. I didn't really know what to say to that honestly. It was pretty funny.   
   Sister Roundy and I spoke in Sacrament Meeting 2 days ago. The only odd thing about it was that we were the only speakers assigned for the whole meeting. I was the second speaker, and I was so nervous that I wouldn't be able to fill the time, but I know that the Spirit was with me because I did fine! I actually even went over a couple minutes. I'm so grateful for the help from our Heavenly Father with things like that. 
Anyway, I know that recently I have been talking about how nothing would be able to shake my testimony of the Book of Mormon... well, I guess I had to walk the walk! If there was ever a week when I would have doubted, this probably would have been the one. Just a little background: there is a church here that really doesn't like our church (for whatever reason) and they actually fund the production of their own line of Anti-Mormon videos and pamphlets, etc.  Anyway, to make a long story, short, we were spiritually attacked and hounded by multiple people this week. It was really hard. I began to be fearful because I have known and worked with so many people that have fallen away from the church because of experiences like that. I finally realized that I don't have to be like them. I don't have to give in to the adversary, nor do I have to deny the sure witness that I have received from the Spirit of God. Despite what others may say about our church or about Joseph Smith, I know that this church contains the fullness of the gospel and that Jesus Christ is at its head.  I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and I truly cannot deny that, I cannot.
Love you all!!
Sister Pratt

(This is a reply to a conversation we had about this email....
I agree with you whole-heartedly about the reason for the anti-mormon hype over here. The building of the temple is having a HUGE impact on the members of the church and everyone in the area.  This stake is so special and so blessed, but blessings don't come without opposition! 
This is Elder and Sister Gibbons. They were the office staff that just got released from their mission! So sad to see them go.

We were going to visit someone in this house... then we saw the sign.... then we decided not to chance it.......


Big Weekend! (written 8/25/2014)

 Wow! Wow! Wow! I'm gonna try to fit everything in, but I really don't have a ton of time, and this week was insane! 
   The first big thing that happened this week was the funeral for the little handicapped girl, Erin Haney. We wanted to help as much as we could, but we still didn't really know the family that well because they had just moved into our area from the split.  They are such a wonderful family.  We ended up helping laminate, cut, and tie ribbons on these little bookmarks to hand out at the service.  It had a poem on it that was really gorgeous, written by the mother. I don't have it with me, though, so maybe I'll send it next week. The funeral was gorgeous and there were so many people there to celebrate the short 7 years of this little girl's life. Despite all the tears, the talks were faith-filled and hopeful for the future. They were able to share sweet and funny stories.  It truly was a celebration of her life.
   Most of the week, we have been preparing for the Meridian Temple ground-breaking ceremony that is happening in our stake! It was so busy and so much fun. I loved it.  The dedication happened on Saturday morning, and Elder Bednar came. We weren't able to go to the actual site, but we watched the broadcast at our stake center. The Spirit was so powerful during the whole meeting, and I was touched to hear over and over again of the faithfulness of the saints that is allowing this temple to be build.  The most powerful part was hearing an Apostle of Jesus Christ testify of our Savior's divinity and reality.  My testimony was strengthened as I heard that witness, as it is every time I have the privilege of hearing our priesthood leaders.  Elder Kent F. Richards of the 70 was also at the meeting, and he joined us for our Stake Conference this weekend, as well.
   The adult session Saturday night was the most interactive, interesting church meeting I have ever been to.  It was a true example of following the Spirit. Apparently, Elder Richards told the Stake President that he would be speaking that evening, so half-way through Elder Richards' talk, he turned the time over to President Firmage for about 1/2 an hour.  Then, President Firmage just started calling people up from the audience, randomly.  They would stand up next to the podium with their own microphone, and he just asked them questions about their experiences with missionary work.  He called up a Ward Mission Leader and few recent converts--one of which, Margi, is a 70 year old black lady from Florida.  She was so great. She talked and talked and bore her testimony so powerfully and made us all laugh so much.  She was quite the dynamic speaker.  Another convert was able to talk about his experience with family history, and the topics took a turn in that direction. We watched this super cheesy church video that I'm now obsessed with! 
You all should watch it. Careful, though... it's catchy.
   Well, I'm out of time! I just loved this weekend so much. It was a spiritually packed time, for sure. I want you all to know that I love my Redeemer, and my love for Him grows every day.
Sister Pratt
We found this random swiss army wrench.  Anyone know what this is used for?  Please enlighten me.

This lady just sold her car and was showing us her money.  It was hilarious.

This is the CUTEST puppy I've ever seen. 

It was just running around the yard forever.

We were helping this lady organize her books and we found this one, from 1966.  Pretty cool!  Mom and Dad do you remember it?