Monday, February 24, 2014

When Sickness Strikes

I have decided that my mission is destined to be...not normal. Hahah because this week Sister Redd got reallyyyy sick and we weren't allowed to leave the house for 4 DAYS. Yup. Not normal. It's a little rough being a missionary who can't go out and serve people and uplift people and find people and teach people and help people come unto Christ. But you know what? I felt so much peace despite being stuck inside. I knew that that's where we were supposed to be, whether simply to give Sister Redd the rest she needed or for another reason. And I got to study so much! I read the Book of Mormon, started "Our Search For Happiness", read Ensign articles, BYU devotionals, MTC firesides, watched Restoration and church movies. Hahah really everything that a missionary can study I studied.
I have also gained a huge testimony of service. If you want to love someone, serve them. My love for Sister Redd has grown more and more rapidly in the past few days than it ever could have if she had been healthy. Every time I serve her my love for her grows. I also learned how to be a real life adult and cook food and all that good stuff.
So because of that my stories this week are a tad limited, but I''ll share a couple of my favorites :)
On Tuesday Sister Redd wasn't quite as sick, so we went out to meet some people and TRACTED! Hahaha ok first of all tracting in the middle of Virginia is probably the least efficient missionary work on the planet, but it was fun and people are also really impressed when they see you walking up their super long, muddy, rocky driveway. And by impressed I mean their hearts are softened and they are more open to hear what you are sharing. We didn't get any appointments, but met some very nice folks and had a jolly good time regardless. BUT. Best part. We went to see a woman who used to take the discussions. So we knock on her door and she opens it and next thing we know we're being invited into a Jehovah's Witness Bible study. In Russian. Hahah whaaaat?? And then this little Russian grandma who didn't speak any English hands me a mug of coffee and is repeatedly motioning me to "drink. Driiiiink." And then they gave us chocolates. Oh my goodness it was such a unique experience. We talked to the woman a little bit (she speaks English) and are planning to go back when the Jehovah's Witness people aren't there (it's feels weird to be teaching about our church in the middle of their lesson. We don't want to be disrespectful, and bible study is always a good thing!) Also don't worry I didn't drink the coffee.
Yesterday, we were banished from church on the doctor's orders to stay away from people. Sad sad day. But we're all for making the best of situations so we did! We walked all over the farm and visited the horses and donkeys and llamas. I've decided that llamas are really creepy and scary hahah. Also they don't like apples. But it's the best ever: the donkeys follow us around. Ok. Just let that sink in. When we walk around, there is a trail of donkeys behind us. Heart meltinggg I love them. We really live in such a beautiful little oasis. Our own personal peace of heaven where we can enjoy God's incredible creations. I wish you could all see the stars. I've never seen the sky so speckled with constellations. And they're so bright! I'm rambling.
Then we had our own little church meeting out on a picnic table with the donkeys attending as well (hahah is this real life?). We sang and shared our testimonies and studied the sunday school/RS books. Simple as it was, setting aside the time to worship and study like at church was really special.
Well, that's the news this week. I'm learning and growing each day in so many aspects. I have a long way to go in improving, but I do know a few things. I know that God loves us individually and endlessly. No matter how alone we feel or how unimportant, HE knows us, HE loves us and HE wants us to be happy beyond comprehension. If everyone could just understand THAT, our world would be a much better place. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. If you haven't read it, I invite you to. Oh I invite you with all my heart! The more I read the more humbled and awed I am by our Savior and by the simplicity of the gospel. I know that the true gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored and I cannot wait to go and share that joyful news this week!!
I love you all to pieces,
Sister Evans

Sister Evans with her newest converts
 McKay arrives in Richmond- First Companion, Sister Redd
 McKay Arrives in Richmond Mission with Mission President & Wife- Feb 14, 2014
McKay with New Missionaries, Richmond Virginia Mission - Feb 14, 2014
Being nibbled by the horses
 Outdoor church & study 

This is where we tract.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Out in the Boonies--

Hello loved ones!! 

I finally get to write to friends too yahoooo! And I get an hour and a half so maybe I'll actually get to respond to some of your incredibly kind and uplifting notes. Goodness I love you all so much. If you are getting this email, or if you are simply reading this, know that I think about you constantly. You have no idea. I think about ALL of my friends and family (especially cause a-duhz you're my family and i'm obsessed with you) everyday. This little not-so-little missionary hasn't forgotten you!

Well hoo-dog. I am in the COUNTRY!!!! I'm serving in Rivanna, Virginia. Google map it or something because it's pretty much wide open space with houses every mile or so and mile-long muddy driveways and acres upon acres of rolling farmland. hahaahaah I about died when I found out where I was assigned because Heavenly Father once again showed His delightful sense of humor. Hahaha I love His loving jokes that make up the changes in my life. No sarcasm, I really do. 

Get this. I live on a farm. Hahah like a real life farm. Seriously. Heavenly Father sent this international, city-loving girl to the country. My apartment is in the basement of some members, and they own horses and donkeys and a giant white 4-ft irish wolfhound named Happy (ha nice) and....llamas. (KAILEN STUCKI shoutout!) IS THIS NOT THE COOLEST EVER? I shall paint you all a picture: I'm on my morning jog, around 6:30. Behind me is a private lake, with barren trees and a gorgeous sunrise behind it. And I'm just jogging up and down the only paved section of the driveway so my shoes stay any color but brown. And 4 horses and 5 llamas are staring at me, turning their heads every time I turn around. Unreal. It's just unreal. And then I run back toward the house and Happy freaks out and starts barking at me and the whole family upstairs starts opening up their windows and I'm all, "sooooorrrrryyy!! I'm just jogging!" Hahah so funny. Oh and in the meantime the donkeys are getting all concerned and start looking and the sheep and ducks are going nuts. Man, it's just too good. 

My companion/trainer is Sister Redd. She is an absolute doll and I love her! Everything she says is full of love and kindness. She used to be in the other half of our area, so people already know her and they all adore her. Which I think says more than anything. Also she wants to be super healthy too which is great! Especially since she cooks like a boss: lunch today was lentil soup made from scratch. Yup I'm a happy camper. 

We haven't gotten to teach too many people, because we've just been moving in and getting situated. But last night I taught a recent convert L. I had planned on studying baptism during personal study, but felt prompted to study afflictions and our reaction to them instead. So of course I did. Well guess what. That exact topic came up with L and I was overcome with how prepared I was to answer her questions and share the verses I'd studied that morning. Miracle. I was also overwhelmed by the love I felt for her. I have been filled with so much love already, love I KNOW isn't my own. It's Heavenly Father's love for His children and I just get the blessing of channeling that love and sharing it with them. Wow, this is the best job ever. 

I just realized last time I wrote I was in the MTC. So quick recap. My teachers in the MTC were Sister Garlick and Brother Kramer (Sister Garlick is in the far right on the picture in front of the map in the classroom). They were angels for me and taught me so much. I left on Wednesday morning and talked to people in the airport again. Gave away 2 pass along cards! One woman on the plane was very spiritual but had a lot of skepticism about absolute truth and religion and stuff. But 4 hours on a plane next to me and she took the card :) I arrived in VA at 4:30 to a gigantic snowstorm. All of the later flights had been cancelled and 19 missionaries weren't able to make it here, only visa waiters. So President Wilson and Sister Wilson took us out to dinner and then dropped me off at some other sisters homes until Friday (when the other 19 arrived). Alas, I should write a book on how to go insane because it's quite simple. Be a new missionary in a new area with a snowstorm that makes driving impossible. Aka, be a new missionary who literally doesn't get to leave the house for 40 HOURS. Yep, that is the secret to insanity. But bonus: I read half of Preach my Gospel and did a ton of other studying :)

Also HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! We heart attacked people's doors. Valentine's day as a missionary rocks, since we just love EVERYBODY! 

And then it was transfer day and now here I am! 

I'm just having a blast. This is an adventure for sure. It's been a little tricky to know how to approach being excited for my visa to come while still being so happy to be here too. A little bit of a torn heart about that, but Sister Redd suggested thinking of it as another transfer, so I'm going with that. Pray for my visa to come, but not too quick :)

Thank you for all of the love and prayers. I need the prayers for sure. You can be sure I'm praying for you too! 

All my love and happy smiles to you!
Sister Evans

Favorite scripture of the week: Moroni 7:33 and D&C 100:5-8
New address: 495 Deep Woods Farm Dr., Scottsville, VA 24590

Companion/Trainer Sister Redd in Rivanna, VA

Making Valentines with Sister Silva and Sister Bennet while snowed in Richmond, VA

Hello, I'm Sister Evans and I like to STUDYYYYYY

 MTC District:  Sisters: Saet (Phillipines), Tamara ( Brasil), Mason ( Conneticut),
 Jesse (Marshall Islands), and Huang ( Taiwain

 My Mission Assignments
 Last time at the temple for 18 months- 
Wish I could go again.

Just my average view
In Rivanna, VA


So Cute every day

Photo for Alex

Morning Rooster-- "Happy" the Irish Wolfhound

Friday, February 7, 2014

Hi Ho Missionary Work!

Greetings good people!

Wow. Ok I think I'll probably just start every email like that. This place, this grand place they call the MTC is a place of divinity. I am amazed by how much I've learned and grown (thank you Hay) in the past week alone. My testimony has increased and strengthened tenfold and it's only the first week. 

I have mostly just been learning learning learning at the MTC, so I want to focus this email on my trip to San Francisco yesterday to get my visa. 

I woke up at 1:30 in the morning. Got dropped off at the airport at 3:00. And little did I know that this would be the start of a day of tender mercies centered around me. I don't write that to sound self-centered, but honestly all day long I could feel God's love for the people around me, but even more so for me specifically. I'll just go through a few of them, but it really was all day long!

It was around 3:30 and I was sitting in the SLC airport trying to read Preach My Gospel. Security didn't open until 4:30 so there was nothing else for me to do. Suddenly I had the prompting to get up and walk around. I thought it was weird, cause there were literally 10 other people in the airport and all of them were sleeping or wishing they were. But I thought maybe it was to get my blood pumping or something. Either way, I did it. And there I am, 3:40 in the airport in a skirt randomly meandering about a measly crowd of sleepy travellers. When an older man calls me over and asks if I can help him. OH MY GOODNESS YES YES YES I CAN HELP! I thought he thought I worked for the airline cause I was in a pencil skirt and blue tights/sweater so I kinda looked like a flight attendant? But of course I'll help! He got up and I helped him check in. And then the miracle began. He was from Samoa and had moved to America in around 2000. I have learned this week the importance of silence, so I just made acknowledging sounds and let him talk. And he spoke of the most wonderful things! All about Samoa and the culture and food (it gives him a "happy stomach" his words not mine :)) ), about his family, his children, his brother who served a mission and wrote home telling his parents "if you love me, get baptized" (and they DID!!), about the Bible and oh just on and on. It was so wonderful. And then after we got through security he told me his gate and....IT WAS THE SAME AS MY GATE. Not a coincidence my dear friends, not a coincidences. I don't believe in coincidences, I believe in God. So I sat back and heard what this sweet man had to say. 

Later I went to buy some breakfast, and was just standing in line when a man started talking to me. And the next thing I knew he goes, "me and my wife would love to buy you breakfast". SERIOUSLY. I tried to object, but they insisted. God blesses His servants, and simple as it was, I knew that He had sent this sweet couple to make me feel appreciate and watched over. 

Thennnnn.....I get to my gate and a girl is sitting on her iPad. I smiled at her and then continued to smile at all of the people around me sitting on their phones and staring at screens (hahaha but really). Well that girl put away her iPad and started talking to me. She said she wasn't a member, but her boss was. And that his son was serving a mission. And then, talking about that son, she goes, "McKay is such a good kid...". Ok. Again, NOT A COINCIDENCE. What a tender mercy to hear my name. Such a simple thing, but such a blessing. 

And then Molly Gardiner shows up!! So I wasn't travelling all by my lonesome anymore ;)))) She's going to my mission, but reports in March and I was so sad I didn't get to meet her before we left. And then there she was in the airport! Shout out to Molly, you were a tender blessing :) And I already love you. And had an absolute blast with you. And you have a nice laugh ahaha

Ok, now I've got to cut some things out. But I talked to my taxi driver about missionaries, went to the consulate and then it was....oh just 9:30. In a strange city. Just me and Molly. And our flight was at 1:30. 

Sooooo we street contacted! Or tried hahaa. Neither of us had any idea what we were doing, and we either got rejected or ignored everytime, but it was such a good learning experience (aka don't street contact in the rain....)

We wandered SanFran (love it) and then headed back. At the airport I kept talking to people and was amazed by all of their stories. And of the way that if you show a little interest, a little love, a little concern, people open up to you! After one simple question, it is extraordinary the way you can interact with total strangers. So OPEN YOUR MOUTH. Even if it's's not. 

I got back safely and then had some more amazing news. I've been reassigned temporarily until I get my visa to New Caledonia. Starting next Wednesday, I'll be serving in the....bah bah duh baaaaah....VIRGINIA RICHMOND MISSION!! Is that crazy or is that crazy. I'm so excited! I can't believe that now when people ask where I served my mission, I will get to say two places!! Baaaaaaah blessings blessings blessings!

Alright, happy day all is well. I love you all! Thanks for all of the love, prayers and support. I can feel it all so strongly! Praying  for all of you!

Sister Evans
(6 weeks or so until I'm Soeur Evans)
 Sister Evans with her MTC Sisters
 Provo Temple with District
 Badges.. Cute little badges

 Missionaries everywhere at the Temple
 Visa Trip to San Francisco with Molly Gardiner

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

McKay's MTC Address

Here is McKay's address:  She'll be here until February 11th.  I am sure she would love any mail.

Sister McKay Lindsay Evans
2007 N 900 E Unit  68
Provo UT 84602

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Two Days and I'm Already Stretching

Hello Everyone!!!!

Wow. This place is incredible. I don't really know where to begin. In these past two days I have learned so much about myself and about how I can improve. Hours upon hours upon hours of sitting in the classroom studying the gospel, learning to love and teach as Christ does and evaluating yourself and your companionship is exhausting, uplifting and educative in pretty much every single sense of the word.

Ok. My mind is going to be everywhere but I want to give you the best impression I can of the MTC. First of all, we learned a cool thing. You know how MTC is normally Missionary Training Center? Well, we are told to think of it as My Time with Christ. I love that. And of all the places, this is absolutely the best place to draw closer to Christ.

My companion is Sister Mason and she's great! She's from Connecticut, loves to read, fenced in high school and is a spiritual rock. All her life she has wanted to serve a mission, and boy oh boy is it clear in everything she does. I have a lot to learn from her. We have a really good relationship in that we are pretty much polar opposites aside from our testimonies of the gospel. But it means that we bring completely different things to the table when we study or discuss, and then those opposites mesh into a beautifully blended lesson. Like, it's awesome. I'm impressed. 

My first day was SO CRAZY BUSY. EVERY day is SO CRAZY BUSY. We have literally 30-45 minutes of personal time when we don't have our exact schedule or study habits planned out. Hahah I guess it is scheduled, but it's the only time we have during the day to even think about ourselves for a second. The rest is focused completely on investigators and Christ. That has been kind of a hard adjustment. I'm terrified of losing myself, but at the same time am trying so hard to do exactly that.

They give us no time to sit and linger and mope so I was honestly (like really truly I was) just ridiculously happy and excited for most of the past two days. Then, last night I had a bit of a rough go. We were in a Branch conference (OOOOOOOH! My Branch is AWESOME. Super duper international and cool. I'll get to that later). Anyway, we each got up and bore our testimonies and said why we're here now. These missionaries are incredible. Their stories are filled with trials, and, more importantly, with case after case of turning to Christ and choosing to serve a mission. I know I must have had trials, but honestly my life feels so easy. I guess moving was hard, but it mostly just feels like a blessing, so hearing the lives of these missionaries was very humbling. Well, the Spirit was so strong and then a wave of emotions just hit me. You know...those same ones of inadequacy. I was sitting there and I couldn't really stop the tears, while in the meantime our President is saying these incredible things to us. Hahaha I knew I'd be "that sister". Can't help it I'm an emotional amusement park. Long story short I was pretty much bawling and I asked for a blessing. My Zone Leader gave me one and I'm doing much better now. Like I said before, I'm clinging to "me" and am so scared of losing that identity. I don't want to become a robot missionary. But I also know that clinging to my old self means no growth. And no growth means I'm not helping anyone. So it's hard, but the blessing brought a lot of comfort.

Righto! Everyone says missions are hard and at the same time the best thing to ever happen to them. My good people, I've solved the puzzle!! At least for me. Right now. I can legitimately feel myself stretching. I am so uplifted and determined to grow, while at the same time 100% overwhelmed. We've been learning to compare ideas to things that investigators know and understand so I took some of my own medicine: I know sports. I know track. I know hurdles. It's a metaphor: I'm in a hurdles race with myself. Six lanes all with a different me in them. And ultimately, I want to be the winning hurdler, the best missionary at getting over obstacles. Everyone knows that the best athletes have to warm up and stretch. Well, the Spirit is my warm up: it fills me and draws me closer to Christ and is (I've learned this without a doubt) ABSOLUTELY necessary to succeed. And now I have to do the stretching. It hurts a little, and I've got a few knots to work through, but in the end that's the only way I'll be flexible enough, and even able, to get over the hurdles. I don't know, it helped me, hopefully it makes sense.

But Mother I know you said you'd dwell on everything said for the whole week so I don't want you to be worried. I am HAPPY. I really am. We got to do a really cool thing (my favorite so far) where we sat in a room with about 50 missionaries and had one investigator. And as a group of 50 we raised our hands and taught them. Wow. It was incredible. The first time I understood the power the Spirit has. And I volunteered multiple times, which surprised me hahaha. You raised me to be bold and to participate, so participate I shall! I had no idea how quickly they have you teach in here, but it's pretty much "Welcome to the MTC! I'll take your bags! Here's your classroom! Here's a brief summary of your investigator! Teach them!" hahah uhhhhhh ok, I will?

Hahaha alright, I hope this was "real" enough for you. They surround us with optimism and love and support, so I feel like I'm already sounding like a missionary and that may not be the "real" letter you're looking for. But this is my life and I'm sharing it with you :)

p.s. Random tidbits of my mind:
-I was the only one of all the new missionaries to stand up for the DC area. Yay for awkwardly standing alone and not realizing it until the crowd chuckles.
-Favorite quote: Don't just be a tool in the Lord's hands, be a sharp tool.
-Favorite scripture: Mark 3:26, "be not afraid, only believe"

Much love,
Your exhausted, happy, overwhelmed, spiritually filled, physically really hungry (weirdest thing ever for the first time ever food isn't that appetizing, but i'm always so hungryyyyy), stretching, excited Sister Missionary, 
Sister Evans