Sunday, December 21, 2014

Letter from Shaylie's Zone Leader

Dear Sister Williams' Family,

You obviously don't know who we are, but we are your daughter's Zone Leaders, currently. Sister Williams is so great! I (Elder Teeples) was her Zone Leader in Camarillo when she first came into the mission, and I've always been impressed with how hard she works. She is also very mature and is a great missionary. Many missionaries, back then, though that she had been out on her mission much longer than she really had because she adjusted so quickly and was so mature. Sister Williams is also so reliable! We can count on her to do anything we ask her to do.

Sister Williams is definitely working as hard as she can in serving the Lord, and this is such a huge blessing to us all here in the mission! Especially to those precious souls she is leading back to Heavenly Father. We thank you for any and all sacrifices that you have made, and that she has made to be here. We can promise that you'll be blessed for her service! Sister Williams and your family will constantly be in our prayers!

Elder Jared Teeples
Elder Moser

Trios, Transfers and the Time-Out Doll

Good morning, cute family!!

I hope you're having a wonderful day so far, and that all is well back home. :) Things are just fantastic here, and it's been a great last week of the transfer.

Of course, it IS transfer week, so let me just start by saying: these past six weeks have been some of the greatest of my mission so far. I have absolutely LOVED being in a trio with Sister Morrison and Sister Angimarau. For some reason, it seems like all I've ever heard about trios are horror stories, but it seriously was PHENOMENAL. I don't know if I've mentioned to you in the past, but all of our beds are like six inches apart...since we all have to stay in the same room. Every once in a while, Sister Morrison would turn around to say something, and she'd be like 3 inches from my face: awkward, but we'd just laugh our heads off until we finally fell asleep! And Sister Angimarau 's singing is the GREATEST. She sings all day, ever day: quite literally. She just has the happiest personality, and it's totally contagious. Both of my cute companions have become my greatest friends, and I'm excited to see them after the mission!! (It also gives me an excuse to visit Christmas Island! :)

That being said...the transfer news is in, and I'm staying in T.O. 2nd ward! I'll be Senior Companion to Sister Brown. We were actually in the MTC together, but I haven't seen her since! I've heard a lot of really good things about her, and I'm excited! I AM a little nervous though, to be the driver again...especially because Thousand Oaks is basically a giant maze! But it will be great, and I'll be excited to tell you all about her next week!!

And of course, I just needed to take a minute to tell you about the "time-out doll." It's become our running prank of the week. So, a member in the ward left us this terrifying, faceless, time-out doll a few weeks ago, to try and scare us. And it DID. It's the creepiest little thing, and we hid it in a closet for the transfer. UNTIL a few nights ago, when it somehow turned up in my bed as I was going to sleep...then was waiting outside the bathroom after Sister Morrison's shower...and was hiding in Sister Angimarau's cupboard. It's like the Elf on the Shelf gone terribly wrong. And it's just as scary every time.

I have to head out in a few minutes, but I just wanted to send a quick hello, and tell you all I love you!! I'll try to have a slightly more spiritual email next week...but until then, the church is true. I promise. :) Love you guys!!

♥Shay Shay

Nearly Christmas!!

Well hi!!

I hope you're all having a wonderful day--and a happy Monday (cause Monday's are ALWAYS happy, right?!) :) I don't have a whole lot of time this morning, so I just wanted to send you a quick little note to remind you how much I love you all. ♥

It's funny to think it's almost Christmas, when it's still 80 degrees outside! But it's a good thing we know it's not all about snow-covered Christmas trees. :) As missionaries, we've been going around sharing the video, "He Is the Gift." By now, you've probably all seen it, but if you haven't, DO. It really is wonderful, and reminds us what this season's really about--I think we all need a little reminder, some days. :)

I hope you are all staying warm and cozy...and today, Mom reminded me that I get to talk to you in 17 days! Time is really flying, and from there, I know it will just continue to fly by. I'll be seeing you in really no time at all. I love you. ♥

Love, Shay Shay

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Happy Week After Thanksgiving!!

Good morning, everyone!!

Well, as always, it's been an absolutely wonderful week. So, I guess I'll just start from the very beginning (a very good place to start). :)

1. Zone Activity--I don't remember if I mentioned last Monday, but after emails we left for Zone Activity at Sister Taylor's house. The barbecue was a total success, and it was so much fun having everyone there together! It really isn't very often that we get to gather in big groups of missionaries, so when we do, we love it. We all made tie-dyed shirts (I'll have to send you pictures next week!), and played some good old kickball. I thought I'd be SO sad to have to leave my Lompoc Zone last transfer...but Thousand Oaks is pretty good, too. :)

2. The Interfaith Celebration--So the day before Thanksgiving, we had this celebration with all the churches in the community. We had been inviting people to it for weeks, but they were a little concerned about the turnout...this is the first time the committee has let our church actually host the event. We expected about 600 people to come...guess how many came? FIFTEEN HUNDRED. No joke. It was crazy. It was lucky that we held it at the T.O. Temple, because when the first cultural hall filled up...we just opened the second. And then the third. And then the second chapel. And then the fourth cultural hall--it's honestly a little bit ridiculous how giant that building is. But it was such a neat experience! It started with the Islamic call to prayer, then a bagpipe procession. We heard from pastors, rabbis...and it was neat to see everyone come together for it. We're having a Christmas devotional on the 7th, and the turnout is supposed to be even greater. Man, aren't the holidays just magical? :)

3. THANKSGIVING--I won't tell you TOO much about it, since I already told you the whole game-plan last week. But it really was a blast!! The Bakers are so much fun! We had about a 10 minute game of "Who Can Hold a Spoon on Their Nose the Longest." You guessed it--me and my ski-jump of a nose lost pretty quickly. But I WAS a pro at catching chickens, which was our post-dinner game. :) It was weird to be away from home, definitely...but I can't complain too much. It really was a wonderful day!

4. Sacrament Meeting--So guess who sang in Sacrament Meeting--TOTALLY LAST MINUTE!! Yep, that'd be us. They called us Saturday night, letting us know they needed us to sing "Nearer, My God, To Thee" the next day. Luckily, we already have a fun version of that from Solvang...So we just practiced Sunday morning. The tough thing was, when we performed it in Solvang, there were 4 of us...and the song has 3 parts. So I played the piano, and the other 3 sang. This time, there were only 3 of us, so I had to sing, too. YIKES. The sisters sang at the podium, and they gave me a microphone at the piano. It was SO SCARY. But, it turned out well. :)

I wish I had more time to tell you all about everything--this really has been a crazy week! But for now, I have to get headed out. So, I'll just remind you that I love you, and I'll be talking to you soon!!

♥Shay Shay

Happy Thanksgiving♥

Happy Monday, everyone. ♥

I don't have a whole lot of time's sort of a crazy week, but I wanted to let you each know how much I love you, and how grateful I am to have you in my life. I hope you each have a wonderful Thanksgiving--you'll all be in my thoughts this week!

Thanksgiving holiday will be a LITTLE different here, but still great. :) The evening before Thanksgiving, we are having an "interfaith Thanksgiving" with the whole community. It's a tradition here in Thousand Oaks, and it's going to be really neat! It's held at our church building, but there will be sermons from MANY different religions--an Islam call to prayer, readings from the Jewish prayer books, etc. We've been looking forward to it for weeks, and it's finally here! And of course...the missionaries get to serve homemade pie after, so that's always a plus!

Thanksgiving will start with...district meeting. I think we'd still have district meeting, even if the world was ending. :) And, I'll be giving ANOTHER talk on gratitude! Luckily, I already have one written from last week's sacrament I'm already prepared! We'll go to Thanksgiving lunch with the Bakers, who are a lot of fun, so that'll be great! We'll head off to a service project with the students from Cal-Lutheran...then head to Thanksgiving with the Taylors. Woohoo!! Lastly, we'll be going to spend the evening with Sister Petrie, the sweetest old lady I know. Her family's far away, and her health isn't good enough to fly to see we'll be visiting her for the night. :)

Things are great here. I wish I had time to tell you about everything, but for today, just know that I love you. Herodia and her family are doing great, the Peggster's just as funny as usual...I love my companions, but I love you guys most. :) I'll be seeing you before we know it. ♥

Love, Shay

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hello cute family!!

Well, good morning, and Happy Monday!!

What a wonderful week it's been!

Can I just say again, how much I love my companions?! They are seriously the greatest. Sister Morrison reminds me SO much of Ashlyn!! I'm laughing my head off pretty much 24/7. And we spend most nights talking about silly things til 11:30. Sister Angimarou is the cutest--she sings all the time. But really, all the time. And sometimes, when it gets quiet during a dinner appointment, she starts to sing. The members get a kick out of it, and we do, too.

Some fun and exciting events of the week:
Well, we'll start with the picture Sister Sorensen sent you--sewing backpacks for kids in Africa!! It was an activity we're going to start doing each week as part of our JustServe program--there are members in our ward that go to Africa every few months to do humanitarian work. Cool, right? Well, funny story about that picture--behind our smiley faces, we all got secretly injured. Sister Angimarau accidentally stabbed herself in the leg with scissors...Sister Morrison got her finger chopped while trying to fix her bobbin...and I put a needle straight through my middle finger. Yep, who knew sewing could be so dangerous?! We didn't want Sister Sorensen to know, because we didn't want her to we all kept our little secrets til we got back to the car. The African kids might find out, though, cause there's probably a little blood on those backpacks. We had a lot of fun, but obviously, we're not pro-seamstresses.

We are, however, pro at teaching the ukulele!! Well...not really...but it HAS become our newest finding activity! We found out there was a pretty big group of people in the area that wanted to learn to play, (who would've thought?), so we're going to start teaching! I have no idea how to play...but Sister Angimarau does. So she'll teach us, then we'll teach everyone else. We'll see how it goes this week!

In other news, we've started doing a program called "The Legacy" at the senior center next door. Basically, we go and visit the seniors, and they just tell us about their lives. We consider it service, but sometimes they talk about the gospel with us, too. :) We're paired up with particular seniors to visit, so we meet with Chuck each Wednesday. We also read stories to Dorothy, because she's lost her sight with age. It's so much fun, and we LOVE them.

The Peggster's doing great! We're still visiting her twice a week, and she's just as confusing as ever!! She knows the Book of Mormon like the back of her hand. She's been working on this Jeopardy game for months now--there's 30 questions for every 10 chapters in the Book of Mormon. Seriously, if you asked her Pahoran's shoe size, she could tell you. As far as seeing how it will help her in her life...we're still working on it. :)

Herodia's doing just wonderfully! We taught her the Restoration on Wednesday, and on Sunday, she came to church for the first time. Not only that, but she stayed for ALL THREE HOURS, and brought her two adorable sons, Anthony and Giovanni. By the way, Giovanni is the world's cutest 4-year-old. Both of the kids LOVED primary, and are super excited to come back. Herodia loved it, too. Her only concern was in 3rd hour, when she said, "Man, do you guys ever get hungry during church?" Why, yes, yes we do.

I DID speak in church this Sunday, and it went better than expected. I always stress for the week I have to PREPARE the talk, but once I'm actually up there speaking, I'm just fine! Funny how that works. I spoke on having an attitude of gratitude, and how it leads us to selfless service. It gave me a chance to meet a lot of new members, and they've finally figured out that I'm not temporary. Sister Taylor, our Relief Society President, is the GREATEST. She has her house decorated exactly like ours back home, and it totally reminds me of you Mom! You guys would totally be friends.

I wish I had more time to talk, but I'm running a little bit low. We're headed off to district sports in just a few minutes. OH. Fun fact: the church building here is GIANT. It's got two floors, and each of them have a chapel, a gym...EVERYTHING. People just refer to it as the T.O. Temple. And guess what street it's on? Mormon Way. No Joke.

All is well, but I sure do miss you guys! It's weird to think that Thanksgiving is next week...especially when it's 65 degrees, and just as green as it was in the middle of the summer. What are you guys doing for the holidays? We'll be having dinner with the Bakers. They're a great family, and a lot of fun. Of course, not as fun as YOU guys, but it'll do for now. :)

This week, we'll be having Zone Conference, so I'll tell you any exciting news next week!! I love you all, and happy ALMOST Thanksgiving. :)

Sister Shaylie ♥

Happy Monday!!

Well, I'm officially here in Thousand Oaks, and all is well! :) I hadn't looked at my map very thoroughly, I guess...but as it turns out, this area is bordering Camarillo! So I'm seriously right next to Pete and Doenice again. We drove past their house on the way to Thousand Oaks, and we waved and yelled that we loved them. They weren't home, but it's the thought that counts, right? :)

So being in a tri-pan is a blast!! My companions are Sister Morrison and Sister Angimarou (I totally spelled it wrong last week)-- and they are WONDERFUL! This is Sister Morrison's last transfer, so she's heading home in December. She's so much fun, though. She TOTALLY reminds me of Ashlyn, and Sister Angimarau is great, too. She's from the Cristmas Islands (Kiribati), and she's just the world's happiest girl. She sings ALL the time, and we play ukelele for members. English is her second language, so every night we do language study now. :) As far as we know, the tri-pan will be permanent. But it will depend--if any sisters have to go home, or if there are any other unexpected things that happen, there's a good chance they will split us back into a companionship. So HOPEFULLY that doesn't happen. Cause I love it here!!

The work here is MUCH different than in Solvang. Like I mentioned last week, this is a really wealthy area. FOR EXAMPLE: Will Smith's kids go to the school here...Brittany Spears uses our gym...Bro. Porter produced the Hunger Games!! Bro. Neff (yep, like the founder of Neff clothing) is our ward mission leader...oh, and we knocked on Amanda Bynes door the other day! So's about like that here. :) We ARE, however, teaching a few fun people! Our most consistent investigator is Peggy (the Peggster. :) She's not a member, but she LOVES the Book of Mormon, and knows it like the back of her hand. Right now, we're helping her make a Book of Mormon Jeopardy game. And she's working on a painting of us! She's a funny lady. We also found a family named the Griggs...and they are just the greatest! Their oldest daughter, Natalie, is 10 years old, and is very sick with Lupus. But's she's the happiest, friendliest, smiliest girl I've ever seen, and it's amazing how positive she is, even though she's so sick. We're going to start taking her to activity days each week. Lastly, we're going to start teaching David and Brennan today! They have taken the discussions in the past, and WANT to be baptized, but they would need to get married first. At the moment, that's just not their first priority, but, hopefully, we can help them see how important it is. It's going to be an exciting week!!

Another fun fact? I get to speak in sacrament meeting this week, which will probably be good. The ward seems to think I'm temporary, because they're all very confused about this tri-pan. I can't blame 'em, we're a little confused, too. :)

I guess to sum it up, I love it here. I love the people, I love my companions, I love the members...I love that it's green (Solvang was pretty brown. :) It's a little strange that it's not getting cold yet, but I'm getting used to the fact that it's not going to get cold at all. Anyway, I love you all, and I'll see you very soon!

♥Shay Shay

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Transferred to T.O.!!

Hello, hello, cute family!!

Well, since I already ruined the surprise in the subject of this email...we'll just talk about it right now. That's right, I'm headed to Thousand Oaks, (all the cool kids just say T.O.). :)  It's pretty close to Camarillo, so I'm headed back down south!! I don't know a whole lot about it, but my zone leaders told me that it's the wealthiest ward in Thousand Oaks...which is one of the wealthiest areas of the mission. So, I have a feeling the work will be quite a bit different-- but of course, still wonderful!! And on top of that...I'm going to be in a "tri-pan!" Yep, I will have TWO companions--Sister Morrison and Sister Anginarou. Again, quite the change. But there are a lot of benefits to having three--more friends, more laughs, AND probably the most useful--we can go into a home, even if a woman isn't there. That's something that's pretty tough, when all our investigators seem to be that won't be a problem there. :) Yes, I'm SO sad to leave Solvang...but I know that it's right. Plus, as Sister Cox always says, "There's no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone." I'm pretty at home here in Solvang, no wonder it's time to go. :)

Still, I had an amazing last week here. Of course, it was Halloween!! We helped the ward put together a Spook Alley for the trunk-or-treat, and helped take all the kids through the maze. They absolutely LOVED it! And I don't know if I've mentioned before...Hermana Hurley used to be a circus clown before the mission. Hilarious, I know. :) So we also had a missionary station at the trunk or treat, where we would tie balloon animals. Everyone LOVED IT, and we met a TON of non-members that came!! It was great. :) So THAT was on Wednesday.

On Halloween, we're asked to come in early--so we had our party in the daytime! Mom sent us a pizza, so we invited the hermanas over, and had our own celebration. It was wonderful. Arturo, one of our recent coverts, provided the drinks...and it was some aweful, BRIGHT PINK, "strawberry" flavored...stuff. By the time it finished cooking, it was more like gravy than a drink. Needless to say, we skipped out on that. We actually spent most of the day helping Carl, another of our recent converts, pack up and move to Paso Robles. I didn't know moving could be so much fun!! As un-Halloweenish as the day was just perfect. :) And to top it all off...


It was truly a miracle. We went out and danced, until we were soaked and muddy from puddle-jumping. I think the whole city did, actually.

What did all of YOU guys do for Halloween?!

Just a little bit of other news...Lisa's cute sons are doing great--they all came to church this Sunday!! We were so happy to see them there, and the ward's doing an awesome job of welcoming them back in. Albert came to church, too!! I bore my testimony in Sacrament Meeting...and of course, I cried. No surprise there!! But it was nice to be able to say goodbye to people in the ward. We don't normally get a chance to do that (we usually don't get transfer news til Monday morning, but this time they told us on Saturday!). Solvang is definitely somewhere I'll be coming back to visit. ♥ Tonight, we're running around to a few places to do our last performances of the "Restoration cup song," and we're going to sing our version of "Nearer to Me" for Lenore. (Hopefully, you were able to see that in the video we sent!) It'll be a great last day.

I have to head out for today, but I hope you know, you're in my thoughts and prayers. I love you each with all my heart, and I'll be seeing you very soon. ♥

All my love,
Sister Shay Shay

♥you guys!!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

We've been BOO'D!!?

Let me just start by pointing out...this week, we got BOO'd all the way from Bluffdale, Utah. If THAT's not the coolest thing in the world, then I don't know what is!!

Today, we're actually heading down to Santa Barbara to spend the day with our I don't have a whole lot of time. But I DID want to share some exciting news, all the way from Camarillo...

JONATHAN GOT BAPTIZED!!! You got it!! Just another evidence that miracles DO happen. :) I got word today that on Saturday, Jonathan was baptized, and on Sunday, confirmed a member of the church. I couldn't be happier for him, and I'm just SO excited!!!

And as if THAT wasn't exciting enough...PETE'S RECEIVING THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD!! (Did I spell that right? I'm really not sure.) But WOW!! Doenice says he's at the sacrament table on Sundays now. :) I wish I could be there to see it, but hearing about it is really just as good. I am so happy for those cute Chavez's. I sure love them. ♥

As far as news here? We've had an interesting week! Since we've gotten here, we've found quite a problem with a language barrier...not only Spanish, but a LOT of Danish...of course, since this is a Danish town. But this past week, we've decided to start teaching English classes!! It will be gospel based...but will also teach them the basics--and we already have 6 people that want to come! We can't wait. We're ALSO going to start singing in the streets of downtown! WOOHOO! It's a "finding" activity that our ward mission leader suggested to us...and we thought we'd give it a try. So, starting this Saturday, you can see the Solvang sisters on the corner of Copenhagen singing hymns. :)

This week will be quite an exciting one, with LOTS of service!! For one, we're helping Carl, a recent convert in our ward, get ready to move. I'm pretty sad he's leaving...but he'll be headed to Paso Robles with his son. We love him, and will miss him, but it'll be really good for their family. We're going to be assembling packages for the soldiers this week, as well!! This is honestly one of my favorite service projects, so I'm pretty excited!

And of course...HALLOWEEN IS HERE! We're all helping at the ward trunk-or-treat, which will be a blast, and on November 1st, we're having the HARVEST BALL! Apparently, it's the event of the year, and everyone in the community is going. It's really cool, because it's a church activity, but everyone comes. We'll have a live band, and yummy dinner. :)

Lastly, transfers are next Tuesday. I seriously cannot believe how this time has flown by. It DOES NOT feel like it's been six weeks, and it especially doesn't seem like I've been in Solvang for four and a half months...time sure does fly here. Again, predictions say I'm leaving for San Luis Obispo...but who knows! We'll be finding out a few days early this time, so by Saturday, I'll know where I'm going!

Until then, the mission home address is probably your best bet--and I'll try to get some letters out today! I love you all, and will be seeing you soon. :)

♥Shay Shay

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Halloween Happiness!

Hello, cute family!!

I have to apologize upfront, this might be a bit of a slacker update...I don't have a whole lot of time today. But I did want to tell you all hi, and send my love. ♥

Things here are really going great!! Solvang is an ADORABLE place to be in the holiday season!! We just started the "Scarecrow Festival," where every shop in the city and Buellton puts out a themed scarecrow. And you know around Christmas-time, how there's that CRAZY house that coordinates their lights to the radio? We have one of those here, for Halloween. It's amazing!

To answer your question, Halloween is just a pretty normal day for missionaries. Of course, we don't dress up...but, Sister Cox and I are going to switch name-tags for the day and be each other. :) It'll do! Normally we come in a little bit early on holidays, so we'll probably just have a fun night in, full of weekly planning!! Woohoo! It'll be great. :) We DO have a corn maze that I think we're going to do with the district, and a few other fun things. It'll be wonderful!

Miracle of the week: We have a less-active member in our ward names Lisa, and we've been trying to get in contact with her, really, since I got here...4 months ago. She's out of town pretty often, and is a single mom, so she's got a lot going on. Just a week or two ago, though, we were able to meet her, and get to know her--she is just the cutest. This week, when we contracted her, she said she's been praying about, and wants us to teach her sons the discussions! We'll be starting this week, teaching her cute 9 and 11 year-old. I'll tell you how it goes!! :)

As for other exciting events of the week...Sister Cox and I did service in a member's garden, and she got bitten by something GNARLY. We don't know what, but her leg swelled up with a lump the size of a tennis bell, and we had to spend a day inside. She slept the whole day...and I did LOTS of studying! :) She's feeling much better now, and we're back to work.

I'm about out of time for today, but I hope you know how much I love you! Each of you just mean the world to me, and I pray for you every day. Can you believe I'll be seeing you a year from now? Me either! I love you all, and I'll see you very soon. :)

Shay Shay

P.S. - My hair is getting curlier every day. It's crazy.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Week of Miracles

Hello, hello!

As always, this week was just wonderful! :)
We had the chance to go on Exchanges with the Sisters from San Luis Obispo, Sister Hegstrom and Sister Cox! You probably know by now, but they happened to be two of my favorite missionaries. :) They came on Tuesday night, and I think Sister Cox and I were up til about 12:30 laughing our heads off at all the funny things that ever happened when we were together. Man, I love her. For exchanges, I was paired with Sister Hegstrom, and we went to work in Buellton! We had set a goal for ourselves to invite every single person we talked to, to be baptized. It was a pretty funny day...but we saw so many miracles! Some people thought we were crazy...and others said YES! We had so much fun, and met SO many new people! We also had a service activity with the Lutheran Church, where we spent a few hours sewing and tying quilts to send around the world. All in all, I'd say it was a successful day.

On Thursday, we had Zone Meeting with my favorite Lompoc missionaries...I've seriously missed them for the past 3 weeks. We were given permission to play sports with the Lompoc district again, so we'll be going to see them all today. :)

Saturday night, we got a call telling us that the musical number scheduled for Sunday had cancelled, so they asked if we could perform a week early. We ran to the Bishop's house, and he let us use his piano to finish writing the accompaniment...and then on Sunday, we performed Nearer, My God to Thee in Sacrament Meeting. It actually turned out really well! I played, while the other 3 sisters sang. Bishop wants us to come to his house and record it, so if we do, I'll send you a copy. :)

I love and miss you all so much, but, time is flying, and I know I'll get to see you so soon. I'm praying for each of you every day, and I hope you know you're in my thoughts. ♥ Have a great week!

Sister Shay Shay

P.S. - This week was Sister Cox's year mark. For celebration, since we sisters are too smart to burn any of our clothing...we let Sister Cox practice cutting my hair. :)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Happy Conference Weekend!!

Hello, hello cute family!

What a wonderful conference week! And, even better that we all got to watch it together, from different parts of the country (although it was weird to start watching at 9:00 instead of 10:00.)

As missionaries, we watch conference at the church building, and since the rest of the ward was watching at home, we, and the hermanas, got the chapel to ourselves! It was actually a lot of fun! And in between sessions, we put together a musical number that we'll be singing in sacrament meeting one of these upcoming weeks. I'll send you the words and the accompaniment I wrote for it. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but it's actually really pretty. :) As far as conference goes...WHOA. It was SO good! I loved all the talks, but I especially loved Elder Jorg Klebingat's talk. I thought it was so neat how bold he was--as missionaries, they teach us that as long as our investigators know that we speak out of love, we can never be too bold. I saw that in his talk, and really appreciated it! I loved Elder Holland's talk as well, and am trying to think of ways that I can be better at serving those around me.

Other exciting events of this week: we had President's interviews! Our district is in Santa Barbara, so we headed up there for the day. Can I just say, PRESIDENT FELIX IS THE GREATEST. And Sister Felix, too. We are definitely blessed to have them with us! While there, we also got to see Meet the Mormons--it was AMAZING!! I love love loved it! They had a segment about the candy bomber that was SO good, some about the NAVY football coach (there was a football scene, and all the missionaries were like...on the edge of their seats. It's the most football we've seen in a while.) And of course, the missionary mom. All the sisters cried. :) And we enjoyed a few minute of David Archuleta. :)

As far as our investigators go, THEY ARE DOING GREAT! Euell watched conference with some of the members in the ward,and described it as "earth-shattering and magnificent." Whoa. He's reading the Book of Mormon too, and just read 3 Nephi 11. He called us to tell us how excited he was about it. And...Lenore has decided she wants to be baptized! She's a little indecisive at times, and we're still working on helping her pick a specific date...but she'll get there. :) Absolutely!! On a side note, we helped her fix, sand down, and paint her cupboards this week. We went through and painted flowers on some of them, too. They actually turned out really cute!

As for this week, it's going to be great. :) We have our Zone Meeting on Thursday, which means we get to see all of our favorite Lompoc missionaries! And on Wednesday...WE HAVE EXCHANGES!! I'm not sure if I'm going to be with Sister Hegstrom or Sister Cox, but either way it'll be lovely. I'll tell you about it.

I know there were a billion other things I wanted to tell you...but, my mind is blank. So that's all for now. OH! This week, Bro. Klitgaard (the ward's SUPER-DANE) is going to be sending a dvd of the Danish Days festivities. He wanted to send it to all our families, so keep an eye out for us! :)

Love you all, and I'll see you very soon. ♥

♥Shay Shay

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tarantula Season

Hello, hello family!

I'm a bit short on time today, but I just wanted to tell you a few fun and exciting things from this week:

1.  A VISIT FROM ELDER MALM. This was actually from last week, but I hadn't told you about it yet.  Elder Malm, from the Quorum of the Seventy came and visited our mission, and it was SO amazing! He reminded us that we should NEVER expect someone to say no--they all said yes to this plan once, and there's a part of everyone that wants to say yes again. There were lots of other wonderful things we talked about, but it'd take all day to write. You can just trust that it was FANTASTIC!

2.  TRANSFER MEETING! I got to see 4 of my favorite people at transfer meeting this week:
     a) The wonderful Doenice Chavez,
     b) Sister Kayla Cox,
     c) Hermana Proctor (man, I love her) and,
     d) JONATHAN!! In case you don't remember, John is one of my favorite investigators from Camarillo, whom I just adore. AND he came to transfers with news...HE'S GETTING BAPTIZED!! Apparently, he just walked right up to the sisters after we left, and said, "I've decided to be baptized...on THIS day (Sorry, I forget which day it is...:). And since then, he's been working toward it! It'll be interesting to see though--the Camarillo Sisters were just replaced with Elders...and John doesn't take too kindly to them. But, LUCKILY, he's converted to the gospel, not the missionaries. He'll be okay. :)

3.  I HAVE A NEW COMPANION!! Sister Platt is in Ventura 2nd ward now, and I'm serving with Sister Cox (not the same one that trained me :). She is from Mapleton, UT, and has been serving for about a year now. She is SO great. She has such a powerful testimony, and brings the spirit so strongly when she teaches. We've definitely seen miracles this week.

4.  TARANTULA SEASON. So...Sister Cox and I were driving down the road by the church, when we saw something sitting in the middle of the street: I might add, something big enough for us to not only see from down the street, but to stop, and say...what in the world is that?! We seriously though it was a small animal, so we tried driving around it...NOPE. IT WAS A SPIDER. Apparently, this is their time of year, and they are all over the place. They are horrifying...but it's okay, because we have faith that God will protect His missionaries. Still, SO gross.

5.  THE WORK IS PROGRESSING. Things are going great here with our investigators. We had an AWESOME lesson with Euell this week, and we were finally able to find out why he wouldn't commit to baptism. We're working right now on helping him overcome it, but he is SO close, and has so much potential. I have no doubt in my mind that he will get there, even if it takes a little while. :) We FINALLY helped Lenore fix her cupboards this week (who knew I could be handy?!), and she was so darn happy. Now that they're fixed, we've painted them...and next week, we're going back to paint flowers on them. :) Beside our handywork, she's also reading the Book of Mormon. It makes absolute and complete sense to her--it's so neat! She's another, that I have not doubt, will get there. I love that lady, and she's on my list of people to come back and visit. :)

6. EXCITING THINGS ARE HAPPENING THIS WEEK! At the transfer, we actually go put into the Santa Barbara district, which means no more of our fun drives out to Lompoc. :( But this week, we're getting together with our district to see "Meet the Mormons." Yep, they're showing it to all of the missionaries, so we can talk about it with our investigators. It'll be a lot of fun!!

Well, cute family...I have to go for today. But, I hope you all know how much I love you. Can you believe I've been here SIX MONTHS?! Time's flying, and I'll be seeing all your cute faces very soon. Love you forever. :)

♥Sister Shay Shay

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Letter to Dad Oldroyd :)

Hello Dad!

So, it sounds like scout camp was a BLAST! I think it's so fun that you got to go, and really cool that you got to stay on a house boat. As Chayden would say, "You fancy, huh!" What a weirdo. But I'm sure that the boys loved having you there - careful, or the word's going to get out that you're really a big softie. :)

I'm glad you got to meet Pete and Doenice!! Aren't they just so cool?! They really are my pride and joy (well, as far as my mission goes), as far as life goes, you guys are my pride and joy. :) I show EVERYONE my family pictures! I'm glad the weekend was great, Doenice seriously just RAVED about you guys! And Pete's so cool, right?! We as missionaries always joke that it's the coolest to see someone with their tattooed sleeves, and a white baptismal suit. It kind of gives a visual of how much the gospel changes lives. Aren't we blessed to have it?!

I'm glad the Utah season has started off right, although Mom said we have a really hard schedule this year. How do you think we'll do? Is Travis Wilson a senior this year? Hopefully not, I want to see him play again! Do we still have our awesome punter? It seems that all the church members here follow the Utah teams, but I try not to ask TOO many questions. Our Bishop's family, in particular, are GIANT "U" fans, and always try to get the football fan out of me. Members are TROUBLEMAKERS and try to temp the missionaries. "Sisters, the game's on. You can 'linger in the hall' and check the score!" NO, BISHOP HAWS!!

Just a few updates - it's the last week of the transfer. Crazy, right?! I said in my email today: I'm pretty sure I'm staying. However, today I found out that District predictions say I'm leaving for Santa Barbara! :) WOOHOO! Basically, the week before transfers, we all make guesses of where the district's going. We have an Elder who's practically a transfer prophet. Last transfer, he guessed EVERYONE who'd be leaving and where they were going! Either way, don't write to my Solvang address until I can update you on Monday, and tell you where I'm headed. :)

Just another fun update for the week: Euell missed our appointment. Why, you may ask? Our conversation went like this when we called: "So Euell, what're you up up to right now?" "Oh, just at the airport in Camarillo, looking at airplane parts." "Oh...why are you doing that?" "Girls...I've decided I'm going to build a plane." " you know how to FLY a plane?" Well, of course not!! I just came up with this idea yesterday!!" now 'plane building' has been added to his current list of "to-do's," along with taking the bar exam, starting medical school, and teaching anger management classes. Euell dreams big, and we love him for it. :)

Well I've got to go, but I love you both (I'm assuming you'll read this to mom). I love you both!

♥Shay Shay

P.S. - We played "missionary werewolf" in district meeting today! It reminded me of home...except that after we got mauled, we went onto preach the gospel to the dead. :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ostrichland, USA

Do you remember the opening scene in Jurassic Park 2, where the little British girl almost got eaten because she thought the little dinosaurs were cute? This week, I experienced that, in the form of Ostrichland, USA. Scariest place on earth.

MAYBE that's a slight exaggeration, but seriously, it was freaky. We went with the district, instead of doing sports this week! It was fun, but they are SO CREEPY. The ostriches are semi-cute, and at least pretty funny.  They're mean, though, so we have to feed them with a dogbowl glued to a dustpan...yep. The emus, though, are not cute, they're just horrifying. From far away, they look all cute and tiny...til 30 of them come running toward you, and you realize they are just feathered dinosaurs.  THEY ARE SO SCARY!! But, it was a fun day with the district, and we got to explore a little more of Solvang. :)

As far as missionary work goes (that's the important part, right?!), we've officially started the "JustServe" program, and it has brought so many miracles!! I'll tell you about it in much more detail next week, but today, we just have a couple minutes left. Through service, we were able to pick up an old investigator that had dropped the missionaries about a year ago...but this week, the ward will be coming to give her a Priesthood blessing! We also were able to contact a less-active member, that disappeared right after her baptism, about a year ago. Now, we serve with her every Tuesday, and have lunch together!

In other news...this week was Stake Conference.  It was SO good! And it's pretty funny, that even though I've only been in this Stake for 3 months, I knew so many people! That's one of the benefits of being a missionary...we know EVERY SINGLE ward member. This week, we'll also be serving at DANISH DAYS!! It starts this Friday. We'll be having an aebleskiver breakfast Saturday morning, then helping all throughout the festival. It'll give me a good chance to practice my Danish dancing. ;)

Lastly, then I have to go...We have ANOTHER Zone Conference on Friday!! We'll be having Elder Malm of the Quorum of the Seventy come to the mission to speak to us. We can't wait! And then...transfer news comes next Monday! Sister Platt and I have both been here for 2 transfers now--it's more than likely one of us is leaving. We don't KNOW who, but I think Sister Platt's heading out. I think Solvang may be my home for a little while. :)

Anyway, I'm out for the day, but I love you all so much, and I'll talk to you very soon!

Love, Shay Shay

Monday, September 1, 2014

5-Month Zone Conference!!

Good morning, cute family!!

WHAT A WEEK!  There are so many fun and exciting things happening in our mission; I wish you could be here to see it! Instead, I'll try to summarize it as well as I can in the time I have. :)

First of all, Zone Conference was this week!  All the missionaries from the Santa Barbara and Ventura Zones met with President Felix (all the way down in's a pretty good drive!). Let me start by just saying, President Felix is SO cool! It's crazy how different he is from President Castro, but they're both so great in different ways. Anyway, we had a theme centered in Zion, this conference.  We talked about how we can build Zion where we are, if we have Zion in our hearts. He always reminds us that we CAN be Zion.  And he speaks in a way that the spirit is SO strong, you can feel everything he's telling us, and it gets us so excited to do this work.  One day, you'll have to meet him, and you'll understand what I'm talking about.  It was really neat though, throughout the whole conference we had trainings about how to bring Zion to every aspect of our work.  It was such a good day!

Another announcement made for us at the conference, was It's a new website started by the church, where we'll be finding service opportunities in the community.  Normally, we're asked to do 4 hours of service a week, in investigators or member's homes. Now, we'll be doing TEN hours a week, and serving with all kinds of organizations.  We'll be volunteering in Soup Kitchens, Senior Centers, with the Red Cross, etc. We're actually going to start doing service at the Santa Ynez Catholic Mission down the street, too. :)  They've tried this in 3 other missions, and it's had a HUGE impact on the way the community looks at the missionaries, and it'll make it so we hardly ever tract. (FUN FACT: We're going to be volunteering for DANISH DAYS!! What's cooler than that?!)  It'll be so nice to be able to get to know people in the community, and to break down some of the barriers that we all seem to put up. It's going to be great!!

Also...Zone Conference was on my 5-MONTH mark!!  Holy cow, it seems crazy that I've been out that long already--time is just FLYING by!  It was fun though, because I was there with Sister Currie, Sister Olsen, and Elder Payne, some of my favorite missionaries from my MTC district.  We all got to celebrate together. :)

In other news, Lenore is still doing awesome. She seriously is the funniest lady.  This week, she said "You know, you two are just like Marie Osmond...SO VIVACIOUS!" What...?  Man, she's so cool. She's TOTALLY someone I'm coming back to see! We found out a few weeks ago, though, that she was having a hard time reading the Book of Mormon, because the print was so small.  This week, we were finally able to get her a large print book, and she was so excited.  SOOOO excited! She just sat down right there, started reading, and talking about how neat it was that Christ came to the Americas. She loves that chapter.

Euell's still doing really well. At our last lesson, while reading, he flipped RIGHT open to the diagram in Abraham...and just STARED at it.  Sister Platt and I were PETRIFIED, and just stared at each other with a look that said, a "Are you ready to explain Kolob, cause I'm sure not! Luckily, he finally just looked up and said, "YEP. There's a lotta knowledge in this good book." Phew. I'll admit, some things, I am just not prepared to teach quite yet. :)

I've also found the funniest family in the ward--the Goodwins.  They're the ULTIMATE member family, and their daughter is such a good missionary.  She's ACTUALLY the one who found Euell! But this week we were having dinner at their house...and somehow it ended up with them setting up rat traps on the dinner table, and having us set them off with screwdrivers.  I don't know how things like that happen...but we turned it  into a Book of Mormon object lesson.

I love you all, and miss you.  But you're always in my prayers, and I'll see you very soon. ♥



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Exchange week!!

Hi cute family! :)

I'm running a little low on time this week, but I wanted to send you a quick update, and let you know that all is well here in Solvang.

This week, I had exchanged with THE one, THE only, SISTER COX!  Man, I seriously love her.  Of course, I love ALL my companions, but Sister Cox seems to have a special place in my heart.  I was so excited for our exchange, and it was just as good as I had hoped it'd be.  It was crazy to see how much both of us have changed and grown since we were companions!  And it's crazy to think that's been almost 4 months ago.  Whoa, time flies.  We had such a good day though, saw so many miracles...and spent a good portion of our time laughing our heads off.  We tend to do that. :)

As for YOU, I don't think I can explain how happy those pictures made me, of you with Pete and Doenice!  All of my favorite people (well, not all...but a lot) together, at the temple.  What could be better?!  And aren't they just awesome?!  I'm so happy you got to meet them, and Doenice told me today just how much they love you.  I believe it, but I love you more. ♥

Tomorrow, I get to go to my first Zone Conference!!  We'll be getting a lot of exciting new info, and doing all sorts of training.  It's with the whole Santa Barbara and Ventura Zones, so we'll be heading down to Ventura in the morning.  It's a LONG drive...but it's along the coast, so we get to see the ocean along the way.  Not bad. :)  I'll tell you about it next week, but for this week, know that I love you, and I'll be seeing you all very soon.

Sister Shay Shay

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Hello, hello family!

I honestly don't even know where to start...except to say that I am the happiest and luckiest aunt in the world. I get to come home to Baby Noyce AND Baby Oldroyd!  I'm so excited to meet them, and see their cute faces.  Seriously, congratulations! I'm so darn happy for you. :)

As for things here in Solvang, they're going well!!  This week, I think it's safe to say we're finally over the missionary disease (thank goodness!) and the dead body is out of our systems. :)  It's about time!!  Sadly, the sickness made me lazy on my looks, and I've officially adopted my crazy poodle hair.  It looks more and more like Hermione Granger, every single day (no, not from the 7th movie. I'm talking Sorcerer's Stone). But, it's okay.  That's really not what matters.

Our new district is AWESOME. We have 3 new Elders (Elder Cavazos, Elder Hurst, and Elder Harper), and a new Hermana in our ward (Hermana Bennion)!  She's the cutest.  I'll admit, I miss our other awesome district, but this one's going to be pretty great, too!  We had our first district meeting on Thursday. It was so good.  I sent Mom a whole letter explaining it, but to summarize: it started at about 10:00 am, and ended at 5:00 pm...whoops.  That was definitely not in our plans. But it was a good district-bonding experience, and we all became good friend pretty quickly!  And, we got a district picture out of it.  I'll send it as soon as I get it.

The work is going great! We had a Member-Present lesson with Albert this week!  The member happens to be quite the cowboy, and it turned out to be a lesson on church attendance...and rodeos. It's a little hard to imagine...and a little hard to explain. :)  It went well, though, and Albert came to church for the first time this week!!  It was so nice, and he was able to make friends in the ward. We're so excited for him!  His baptismal date is still set for September 20th.  We're also working with Euell, and he's doing really well.

On Friday, we also met a less-active woman named Kathy.  Sometimes, less-active members are less than thrilled to see us, but she could NOT have been happier.  Her husband isn't a member, but she has such a strong testimony and love for the gospel. It seriously was a miracle that we met her, and we're going to help set her with a goal of getting back to the temple. :)

Well, I'm about out of time today,so I'll let you all go... but I hope you have such a good week. You're always in my prayers, and I'll be seeing you very soon. ♥

♥Shay Shay

P.S. - Exchanges with Sister Cox are this week!! :D

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Staying in Solvang!

Hi everyone!

So, first of all, I'm staying in Solvang!!  Woohoo!!  Both Sister Platt and I will be here for another transfer, as well as Hermana Hernandez.  (Luckily, cause she's awesome!)  Not that I have too much experience at transfers...since I've only had 3.  But, from the experience I DO have, it's kinda funny: you can already feel whether you'll be leaving.  And we can usually tell when we need to stay a little longer.  The weekend before transfers, we always try to do some deep cleaning, and throw unnecessary things out (I LOVE throwing things out...I think I get that from you, Mom!) This weekend, though, even though we cleaned, we mostly decorated.  We made it cute and homey, cause we could just feel we'd be here a while longer.  Luckily, we were right. :)

There's actually a lot going on in Solvang right now.  Like I mentioned, Albert's getting baptized! I'm honestly not sure if I've talked about Albert before.  We met him our first week here, and even though he really liked to meet with us, he wasn't really progressing.  He got very distracted in lessons, and he wasn't really absorbing much of what we were teaching.  We weren't sure what to do, so we decided to have a lesson where we just read the Book of Mormon with him.  He LOVED it, and from then on, he started to progress! He came to lessons focused and ready to learn...and now...he's getting BAPTIZED!!  Man, the Book of Mormon is so powerful.  It made all the difference for Albert. :)

Euell's doing great, too!  This week, we did service with him, AND his wife! Normally, she avoids us when we're it was really cool to be able to talk to her and get to know her.  She even hugged us when we left!  That's progress, if you ask me. :)  Hopefully, we'll get to set him with a new baptismal date this week.  I'll let you know!

We finally got over the missionary disease this week; it's about time! We're now very healthy, and drinking body-free water. :)

I wish I had more fun and exciting things to tell you, but this has honestly been a pretty normal missionary week.  Things really are great here, and I'm happy to be staying.

The church is true.  I promise. :)  LOVE YOU!

♥Shay Shay

DON'T drink the water!!

Hi family!

Things are going pretty well in Solvang.  In my last email I mentioned "the missionary disease" here's what's up.

Since the beginning of the transfer, people (well, missionaries) in our district have been getting really sick.  First, we thought it was just the flu, but it WOULDN'T go away.  People were staying in for first, days, then weeks at a time.  They couldn't keep food down, and were losing weight like you wouldn't believe. They couldn't find anything wrong though. THEN, we figured out that the missionaries who were sick were the ones who were drinking the tap water...which comes from Lake Chumash.  (In California, people are water-snobs, and everyone buys bottled water...but we just figured it was cheaper to drink from the tap.)  Since there's a drought though, the lake has gotten really low.  The doctor in the ward thought it was maybe because the water was starting to be contaminated by the junk and bacteria at the bottom of the lake, that we were getting sick.

*NEWS FLASH*  They found a dead body at the bottom of the lake.  Talk about "junk and bacteria." EW.  We aren't 100% sure that's why we were sick, but that's what Brother Saunders thinks (he's in our ward...and was Michael Jackson's doctor :).  He put all the missionaries on a broth-only diet, to kill whatever bacteria was making us sick.  We're all feeling a lot better now.

Another fun fact.  Aaron Eckheart lives in Buellton!  He and his family are less-active members. Pretty cool, huh?  Of course, it'd be cooler if they were ACTIVE members.  We'll work on it.

Here's a sort of random, but funny story:  Today was Elder Fairborne's (our district leader) birthday.  To celebrate, our whole district went out to lunch. Now we have this Elder, Elder Kingray, who's a VERY good missionary, but has a hard time drawing the line between being friendly to sister missionaries (which is always good), and flirting with sister missionaries (which is VERY frowned on).  When all of our checks came for lunch, in an effort to get on Sister Hernandez' good side, he took her check and paid it while she wasn't paying attention.  It was a very nice thought, but after, he felt SO guilty that he called President Felix to tell him he'd accidentally taken a sister missionary on a date. WHOOPS!

Even though we're not perfect, our district really is the BEST.  We have so much fun together, and have learned a lot from each other.  Sadly, transfers are on Monday, and about half of us will probably be leaving.  I think Sister Platt and I will be staying, though. :)  I don't know if I mentioned to you, but we white-washed Solvang this transfer...which means that we were both new to the area.  Usually when that happens, they keep you there at least 2 transfers, but you never know!  We always sing "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go" on the morning of transfers to remind us we'll be happy wherever we go!

I love you all!

Monday, August 4, 2014


Hello, hello family!!

So this has been a little bit of a crazy week...but here's the latest and greatest:

This week, WE HAD EXCHANGES!  To answer your question (Mom), we do exchanges once every transfer.  There are three companionships of sisters in the mission who are Sister Training Leaders. They're job is about what it sounds like...They exchange with each companionship of Sisters in the mission, and give special training, and help us set some goals to work on.  They're the best.  We LOVE exchanges.  Especially now that Sister Cox is a Sister Training Leader...Man, I love her. :)

This exchange was ESPECIALLY fun because Sister Cox trained both Sister Platt AND me when we entered the mission.  We were both so excited to see her!  They come over the night before, stay the night with us, and then we go out together the next day.  This time, I was paired with Sister Hegstrom.  She's CRAZY awesome. She has a reputation in the mission for how diligent and dedicated she is.  The goal I had set for the day was to become more comfortable with street-contacting.  I'm pretty good at tracting, but to be honest, I get PRETTY intimidated when I have to stop someone walking down the street to tell them about the gospel.  Silly, right?  Well, we set the goal to contact and teach at least 10 people that were out on the street that day. By lunchtime, we had already talked to eight people on the street, and taught full lessons to THREE of them!  I couldn't believe it!  I'll was still awkward the first few times, to actually say hello, and introduce myself to someone just standing next to their car, or talking to their neighbor.  Each of the people we talked to, though, were so willing to listen, and to hear our message.

I remember in the Relief Society session of our last General Conference, they said something along the lines of  "All the easy things we'll be asked to do as members of this church...have already been done!"  It reminded me that yes, there will be times as missionaries, and as members of this church, that we will be asked to step out of our comfort zone, and do hard things.  Street-contacting may be my weakness, or my "hard thing" I have to do.  But I DO know that Heavenly Father is preparing people all around us to receive the gospel, and to find the truth.  If we put our trust in him, He will take care of the rest.

I love you all so much, and I'll talk to you soon!

♥ Love, Sister Shay Shay

P.S. - Funny story...right now, there's a sickness going around, we call the "missionary disease" because we're the only ones that seem to have it.  I'll tell you more about it next week, but you can know we're in good hands, because we're being treated by Michael Jackson's doctor. :)

P.S.S. - We discovered this week that Aaron Eckheart is a less-active member in our ward.  Yep, like Harvey Dent.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My mission in "Neverland!" ;)

FUN FACT ABOUT MY AREA THAT I LEARNED TODAY: Michael Jackson lives here (Well, lived here, of course.:)!! Yep, his "Neverland" is right here in Los Olivos.  Our church is actually next-door to the Jehovah's Witness church he attended.  And...his doctor used to be our ward mission leader.  (But don't worry...Brother Saunders is not the one that killed him. ;)

Well...with THAT good news out of the way, our week went about like this:

So, Euell had surgery this week. :(  It was one that he thought would be just a day in the hospital, but it turned out to be a lot harder than he planned.  We had to cancel our lessons, and he wasn't able to make it to church this week.  BUT it's okay.  Everyone in the ward LOVES him, and has been so supportive as he's gone through these surgeries.  They bring him dinners, give him rides to his doctor's appointments, and he says he really feels like part of the ward family.  We'll start teaching him again this week, and hopefully we'll be setting him with a baptismal date!  Lenore's doing great, too. She's a little bit crazy, but we love her.:)
She says she believes that Joseph Smith is a prophet, and that the church is true.  She says "She's a Mormon at heart, so she doesn't really need the official label."  Ooooh, Lenore. I'll let you know how that turns out. :) We've also been teaching Tomas, a man that we met tracting a few weeks ago.  He's Spanish, but speaks English very well.  He LOVES everything he's been taught, but we thought he'd understand the Book of Mormon better if he could read it in Spanish, and since we aren't much help with that, we're passing him over to the Hermanas this week.  We're a little sad, cause we love him...But it's okay.  He'll get baptized and we'll get to see him at church.

We had a really great lesson with one of our investigators, Albert.  He's met with us consistently every week since I got here, but he tends to get distracted and sidetracked in lessons.  At first, it seemed like he hadn't been absorbing much of what he was being taught.  This week though, we were able to teach him about the Book of Mormon, and he TOTALLY gets it all!  We took the chance to read with him, and the spirit was so strong.  He's committed to reading the Book of Mormon, and we'll keep meeting weekly.  We also met with a woman named Christina earlier today (we accidentally planned a lesson on P-day :), and it went SO well! She knows a few families in the ward, and she thinks really highly of them, so she was so excited to be able to learn more about why they do the things they do. She set up another lesson for tomorrow morning!! She also has the cutest little kids in the world -- Jonas and Clive.

Tomorrow, I have exchanges with...SISTER COX!!  I seriously couldn't be more excited.  She and her companion, Sister Hegstrom, are coming down from SLO (San Luis Obispo) to spend the day in Solvang and Buellton with us.  Man, I've missed her.  I'll tell you all about how it goes next week!  Transfers are coming up on the 12th.  It seems like this transfer has gone by SO fast (it was even a week longer than usual!)  I have a good feeling that I'll be staying in Solvang, but I guess you can never be quite sure.

Well, I have to go get my haircut...but I figured I owe you a quick update on the work, since I've been such a slacker these past few weeks!  (I don't know why, but P-days here are CRAZY busy!  Maybe it's because we have to drive to Lompoc to shop, and have sports with the Elders.)  I love you all, and miss your cute faces.  But I know I'll be seeing them soon, and that I have an eternity to spend with you all.

♥ Love you guys!
Sister ShayShay

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Euell, Lenore and chocolate chip cookies!!

Dear Family,

I'm sorry this letter is so short, but I am nearly out of time.  And, I'm also sorry it's been two weeks since I've given an update.  I promise all is well here. :)

So what's new?  Well, let's see...

Right now we're teaching a man named Euell.  He's GREAT.  He's about 60, African American, and he's HILARIOUS.  He's in pretty bad health, unfortunately.  He got in a plane crash a couple years back, and now does dialysis 3 days a week.  He's had a lot of hard things in his life, but he loves Heavenly Father so much, and is so grateful for what he has.  The other day he said to us, "You know...I"m looking for something...something like...the Mormon Constitution!!  I want to know ALL your doctrine, so I can understand what my roll will be when I'm a member."  HEY EUELL!  What a coincidence!  That's what we're here to teach you!!  He's started making friends in the ward now, and friends in Priesthood.  He's already a part of the ward, and has started the Stake challenge to read Preach My Gospel over these next two he just needs to get baptized.

Then there's Lenore.  Ooooh, Lenore.  She's ALSO hilarious.  She's this little old baptist lady who loves God, and loves Billy Graham.  Oh, and she loves us.  She seriously thinks we're angels...but literally...
which is somewhat nice, cause she's always excited to hear what we have to say. :)  The other day, we sang to her, while she held up her and hands and praised God.  After we finished, she said, "That was better than a month-long trip to Bora Bora, staying in a deluxe motel, with FREE room service!" then, "Wow. That was like a shot of Valium, I just feel THAT at peace!" (I've never had my singing described that way before.) We explained to her that that's what we call feeling the spirit.  Man, that lady is great.

In OTHER news, Pete and Doenice came to see me on Saturday!!  I was the happiest missionary in the world.  They took sister Platt and I to Pea Soup Andersen's, Buellton's one and only claim to fame.  It was delicious (who knew pea soup was even good?!), and so good to see the wonderful Chavez family again. Mom, Doenice told me the two of you text all the time.  Pete says you two are new best friends.  I'm glad you get to talk to them, and thank you for all the help you've been.  They seriously love you!

We also had President's Interviews this week out in Santa Barbara. Sister Felix sat and talked with the district while each of us interviewed, AND she made us chocolate chip cookies.  YUM.

I've got to run, but I'll write again soon.  I love you all!!
♥ Sister Shay Shay

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Happy 4th of July!!

Sorry, I'm 3 days late...but HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!  I hope it was wonderful, patriotic, and fun-filled!

It's always a little bit weird celebrating holidays away from home...especially with people I met a week ago, and am still learning their names, but it really was great!  Buellton is a pretty small town outside of Solvang, and it's sort of got a "country feel."  Everyone wears cowboy boots and hats, and has a strangely southern accent.  It seems a little out of place, but we like it.  A lot of the ward is from Buellton though, so we had a cowboy celebration for the 4th!  I was a little worried I'd feel out of place, dressed up in my red, white, and blue, but I've never seen so many button-up, American Flag shirts in my life.  It was AWESOME.  We all made pancakes at the church, then everyone brought their guitars and we sang "This Land is My Land" together.  It was GREAT!  We also live pretty close to the old Catholic Mission, so they did a GIANT firework show.  It was past our curfew, so we did our best to watch it from the apartment.  It didn't work very well.  Luckily, we got to pop the poppers Mom sent from our our balcony.  It was a LOT of fun! :)

Along with that, we got to go down to Goleta and meet President Felix!!  President Felix is WONDERFUL.  Crazy Story:  He actually had a heart attack 5 weeks before he left for the MTC!  At the time, President Castro was unaware, but asked that as a mission, we begin praying for him to be able to come, and be prepared to serve.  President Castro said that when he had the heart attack, he knew it'd be okay, because he had 230 missionaries praying for him!  He had two stints put in his heart before he came out here...So, we've got something in common!  Oh, and he has season tickets in our favorite North Stache Zone--we're basically destined to be friends.  This Thursday we'll be going back for ANOTHER meeting, where they'll announce the changes that will be coming to our mission.  (Last year they said they'd like to have all US missions to have iPads by this July, so that may be part of it.  We'll see, though!)

Sorry my email is so short today--I'll write more next week.  I'm about out of time, and we're running off to OstrichLand with the Elders.  Love you. ♥

♥Shay Shay

Monday, June 30, 2014

Solvang is SO DANG awesome!

Hello, cute family!

Sadly,I don't have a whole lot of time today...but, here's what's happening in the WONDERFUL city of Solvang!

So, we cover North Solvang, and the neighboring city, called Buellton.  It's really just this little tiny town, but it's got the friendly small town feel, and the friendly small town people.  EVERYONE talks to us.  Seriously, everyone.  It took us until our 3rd day here for someone to say "I'm not interested."  Everyone we talk to invites us in, gives us drinks and cookies, and lets us us them them about the Restoration.  I don't know what it is about this place, but everybody loves the missionaries.  It's amazing!

Right now, we have one investigator, named Yule, with a baptismal date...He's so much fun!  He originally had a baptismal date set for July, but the lessons are going a little slower than planned...So, we're helping him work toward August. :)  We're also teaching a woman named Lenore...and Albert, Arturo, Cami, Patty... There's a lot of people that we'll be seeing pretty regularly!  We love to drive past the Solvang Center, but honestly we try not to spend too much time there because everyone's a tourist, and it's not really very productive.

I spoke in church yesterday in our new ward, and it went really well! I actually wrote my talk while on the stand.  But, it was based on "Following Up," by Elder Ballard, and somewhere in there, I told a little bit of Pete's story.  And Pete's got a PRETTY good story.  So, of course, the talk went well. :)  I'm slowly getting over my fear of speaking in church.  Slowly, but surely!

We travel quite a bit here:  Our district meeting and sports are in Lompoc, so we make the drive every  Monday, and every Thursday.  Then this Saturday we'll be driving up to Goleta to see President Felix.  We're so excited!!  We'll miss the Castro family, for sure, but we'll keep writing them letters and updates. :)

This transfer has been bittersweet.  I'm going to miss the Chavez family SO much.  They really do mean so much to me.  You'll probably be seeing them sooner than I will, when they come to Utah to be sealed!  But, I love this work, and I'm so grateful to be a part of it. ♥

I'll talk to you soon!  I love you all.
♥Sister Shaylie Raylie

Monday, June 23, 2014

Transfer Monday!!

As always, I have a fun and exciting week to tell you about:

Who's getting transferred to Solvang?!  Oh, just this sister.  I don't know much about the city, but I guess it's a little bit further north...and is a little Dutch town!  There's a HUGE Dutch festival there every summer as well, so I'm getting there just in time!  My new companion will be Sister Platt, who I don't know well, but I've met a few times.  She's super nice, and I'm sure it'll be great!

Also, I ran my first 5k this morning!!  I don't know if I've mentioned in the past, but Pete is an ULTRA runner.  Like, a few weeks ago he ran a 100k.  Crazy.  But he always talked about how when we were home from our missions, he'd come to visit us, and to run the neat marathons that they have in Utah.  Everyone planned to run the Provo Marathon together...then we realized I'd still be on a mission!  So instead, we decided to run a 5k together before we left.  So, this morning, Pete met us for exercise, and we ran a route that he had made for us around Camarillo.  As fun as it was, it was mostly just nice to get to spend our last day with Pete. :)  On that same note, he got to pass the sacrament for the first time on Sunday!  He was so nervous, but so excited, and of course...he did great.  He seriously amazes me, and I just love him.

We also got the chance to teach Ava this week, our cute 11 year-old investigator!  We got a little lost on the way (her house is way up in the hills and ranches of Somis), so when we called to get directions, her grandma said, "OH!  We're so excited to have you over!  Ava's sister wants to take the lessons too, so she'll be here!"  We were so excited!  And when we walked in the door, our jaws dropped...because we KNOW her older sister!!  She's a less active member named Athena, who came to help us the day we cleaned the crazy house (the one where we found the morphsuit.)  So Athena already loves us!  And she'll be taking the discussions with Ava, and helping her learn.  We were able to commit Ava to baptism for the 1st week of September, but I won't be here to see it.  So, I'll send pictures as soon as I get them!

We had our "goodbyes" with President and Sister Castro at Zone Conference on Thursday.  I love them and I will miss them so much.  But, I get to meet President Felix tomorrow!

We'll be spending today packing and saying our goodbyes to our favorites in the ward.  It's definitely bittersweet.  But I'm excited to see what this week has in store.  I love you, and I'll talk to you soon!! :)

Shay Shay

PS - The ward missionaries had us over for Sunday dinner last night, and we all made our own pizzas.  It was a fun night to spend with all the sisters I love, since we're getting split.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Happy Monday!

First of all, sorry I didn't update ya last week...I'm slacking.  I know.  But, THIS week was absolutely wonderful!  And as always, there are always miracles!

For one, Pete received the Priesthood on Sunday.  Oh jeez, I can't even tell you:  He's just the greatest!  He takes his new responsibility as a Priesthood holder so seriously, and realizes how important it is to his family. He's going to the temple this week, too, with Brooke and Doenice.  Woohoo!

Another miracle:  So we were tracting in Somis this week, a little Spanish town that we're not in very often.  We had been told by a member that there were lots of little houses down a back alley, so we though we'd check it out.  When we got there, there really were no houses, it was just a back alley to some liquor stores and a few little shops.  I'll admit, we were a little discouraged.  But as we were leaving and finding our way back to the car, we heard a shout, "Hey! Are you the Mormons?!"  Well, we sure are!  We walked up to find a grandma and her granddaughter sitting in a car, outside of the stores.  The grandma said, "I'm from the church of Religious Science, but the Mormon church is something I admire, and something I want for my granddaughter.  Is this your lesson teaching day?"  Luckily, EVERY DAY is out lesson teaching day,so we got to teach her the Restoration, and are going back next week.  Ava, the cutest 11 year old EVER, is our new investigator.  It's amazing to see that Heavenly Father's always preparing the people around us to hear the gospel.  It's a good reminder that this is his work, not ours!

Along with that, we've been named "The Singing Sisters" of the Camarillo 6th Ward.  After singing at Pete's baptism, we were asked to sing in sacrament meeting.  After that, we are just know to sing.  If one of our Sunday School classes runs short, they ask us to sing.  If they think of a song in Gospel Essentials, they have us stand up and sing it.  At every dinner appointment, people ask us to sing!  So we've gotten into the habit to find a short hymn that goes along with our lesson.  We're always prepared for a song. :)

This week is Zone Conference, for President Castro to come and say his goodbyes.  We'll miss him...:(
 But we're excited to meet President Felix.  I wish I could write more, but I'm about out of time.  I love you. The church is true.  Have a good week. :)

Love, Shay

P.S. - Picture of the week!

There's this potential that we call Tom the Turkey Man. From his bio, he sounds SO GOOD, and we want to meet him!  But, he lives in Somis...and he has a pet turkey, that is usually blocking his front door.  (Turkey's are mean, right?)  This week, though, we got past the turkey, and got to knocking!  Sadly he wasn't there...But we'll be back. :)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Birthday and Baptism!!

Of course, this week was absolutely FANTASTIC!!
For one, I TURNED 20!!  Woohoo!  Mom, you're all out of teenagers now!  It was definitely a little strange to be so far away, but everyone made it a home away from home. :)  I was lucky, because Wednesdays are my nights with a dinner and lesson at Pete and Doenice's house.  They made us breakfast for dinner, and they got me the cutest "California Love" shirt!  It was so nice of them!  Thank YOU much for your sweet birthday packages.  You set us all up to have a party in the apartment after!  And oh, we partied!  We had so much fun with our Twinkie cakes, and we lit the candles after lights out (actually, we turned the lights our early so we could still be in bed by 10:30. :)  It was a wonderful day, and even though I missed you, the sisters made it a lot of fun!  Also, your homemade muffins made me the happiest girl in the world--no exaggeration there.  I was SO happy. Thank you so much!

As far as missionary work goes, this was the big week:  Pete got baptized on Saturday!  I had mentioned to you that Pete had been interviewed by President Castro, and he had said he wanted to come to the baptism.  But, as we know, he's a pretty busy guy, and we didn't know if he'd actually be able to.  But, sure enough, the entire Castro family was there!  We couldn't believe it!  There were so many people there to love and support Pete, and he was just GLOWING!  After the baptism, he stood up and bore his testimony, and made the whole room cry.  It was such a simple, but powerful testimony, and we were able to see how much the gospel really has changed his life.  Then, the 4-sister missionaries (me, Sister Cox, Sister Reneer, and Sister Proctor) sang Joseph Smith's First Prayer, to the tune of Come Thou Fount.  By the end, Pete and Doenice were crying, so we all started to cry.  We hadn't really though it through that we'd be a little emotional right after hearing Pete speak.  But, Pete was excited that we sang, so that's all the matters, right?  We'll be singing it again in Sacrament Meeting this Sunday, and I'll be playing the piano.  Sister Cox gave an amazing talk on the Holy Ghost, and I think we all cried some more.  Honestly, the spirit that was at that baptism was so strong, I can't even begin to describe it.  We love Pete, Doenice, and Brooke SO much, and have seen how much Heavenly Father loves them, as well.  They're already planning their trip to Utah next June to be sealed as a family. :)

I wish I had more time to tell you about this week, but there are all kinds of things to do today.  Just know that I love you, I think of each of you every day, and I'll see you soon!


Monday, May 26, 2014

Knock, knock... :)

Good morning, cute family!!

Aaaaaand...Happy 2 months on a mission!  How crazy is that?!  I'm already in my second transfer! So, I guess the exciting events of this week would include...

1.  Sort of learning Portuguese!!  I'll be honest, I've been studying Spanish more than Portuguese so that I'll have something I can use after Sister Proctor is in Brazil.  But I CAN say " more door...goodnight..." and I can KIND OF teach you how to pray in Portuguese...I'm getting there slowly.  But it's been a lot of fun to be able to have language study for an hour every day, and I've loved being with Sister Proctor.  I don't know that I'll be fluent when I get home, but it's a fun experience to have, at least for this transfer. :)

2.  Knock, Knock, Knocking!  So, now that our ward has been split, that also means our Teaching Pools were split in half.  And since it was done geographically, most of our old investigators aren't in my area anymore.  It's been weird, because I don't get to teach Sean, Mitchell, or Saige anymore, but I see them at church, and hear all about their lessons from sister Reneer and Cox.  But since we're not really teaching anyone right now, it's given us the chance to work on our knocking skills.  We tract for most of our days right now.  It's a blessing in disguise though, because shy Sister Williams has left the Ventura mission, and been replaced with the girl who won't shut up.  Look out Camarillo, I'm coming to convert you!!  It's been a lot of fun, and I've met SO many new people!  We have a new investigator named Jeremiah, whose brother, we found out, was baptized in Las Vegas a few months ago.  We also met Will, who we'll now be teaching weekly.  It's been a week of hard work, but very rewarding. :)

3.  Speaking in Church!  I gave my first talk in church yesterday.  Woohoo!  It was on Missionary Work and the Atonement, and even though it wasn't at Jeffrey R. Holland's level, I think it went pretty well!  We were able to get a few of our investigators out to church that don't normally come, with the bribe of having Sister Cox and I as the guest speakers.  I know, we're not supposed to do that as missionaries.  BUT, they were able to meet people in the ward, and make some new friends.  Bribery isn't always bad...and Johnathan agreed to come back next week because of it.  YAY!

Overall, there's not a whole lot to report this week.  The work is going well, and I love being a missionary.  Most of all, I love each of you. :)  I got your letters and cards, and they brighten EVERY SINGLE DAY!  Anytime I'm missing you guys, I just remember that this is only a blink in the eternity we get to spend together. I love you all and hope you have such a good week. ♥

Shay Shay ♥

Monday, May 19, 2014

Temple Tuesday...and Transfers!

Hello, hello, family!!

This has been a pretty eventful week, so here are just a few highlights:

Every year, on the month of our birthday, we get to visit the Los Angeles temple!  So this week, we had the chance to go to the big city!  Woohoo!!  It was such a fun day, and quite the adventure.  We left at about 6:00, so we could get there in time for an early session, and walked the temple grounds for a while in the morning.  It really is BEAUTIFUL.  It's weird to see palm trees at the temple...definitely different than home.  But it was such a fun experience, and a pretty great birthday present. :)  Afterward, we got the chance to walk Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica (which is the closest we'll get to the beach on our whole mission), and stopped for lunch in Malibu.  We drove the Pacific Highway home, and the drive was so pretty!  It's neat to see the beach houses, and mansions on the coast, but I'm glad I can call Utah home.  California's a good place to vacation...but I'll be excited to see my mountains again. :)

Along with that, we had Pete's baptismal interview this week!  President Castro came down from Ventura, which is always exciting...we adore him so much.  Pete was pretty nervous to be interviewed by the Mission President, but the first thing he said when he came out of the interview was, "I LOVE PRESDIENT CASTRO!"  He's hard not to love. :)  But the interview went WONDERFULLY.  Afterward, President Castro came up to us and said, "After 3 years of baptismal interviews, I've never seen someone to prepared and ready as Pete."  WOW.  That just goes to show what an amazing guy Pete is, and how fully he has embraced the gospel.  I'll be sure to send you pictures of them next week.  But all is well, and Pete has set his baptismal date for May 31st!!

Of course, transfers were this there was the question of whether or not I'd be able to stay to see Pete get baptized.  Well, there's good news!!  Sister Cox and I will BOTH be staying in the 6th ward!  But, there's a twist...we're both getting new companions!!  They decided because there's been so much work going on in our ward, we're going to get a second set of missionaries!  We'll be splitting our ward in half tomorrow when I pick up my new companion, Sister Proctor.  Sister Proctor is on wait right now for her visa to go to Brazil, so in the meantime, we'll be learning Portuguese together!  It'll definitely be an interesting transfer, but we're so excited!

It's been such a wonderful week, and so many good things are happening in Camarillo.  I love you all so much, and I'm sending sunshine home.  I'll see you soon!

♥Sister Shay Shay

Monday, May 12, 2014

Progress in Paradise ♥

Oh, what a wonderful week!

Friday was the day we've all been waiting for...Sean got baptized!!  We couldn't believe how many people came...there were at least 50 people that came to support him, and we filled up every bit of the room!  We were totally amazed, and Sean was just GLOWING.  We were so excited to see his mom come, and starting next week...we'll be teaching her the discussions as well!!  He was so funny though. He got his first ever suit this week to wear to the baptism, and he was STOKED.  When we told him he'd be changing into a jumpsuit, he asked if he could put it on at the last second so he could greet everyone while he was looking fancy. :)  So that's him, in the middle of the picture, with the priest that took the lessons with him.  The baptism was beautiful--Bishop Parry spoke, as well as Sean's neighbor, that first introduced him to the church.  I wish you all could've been there, the spirit was so strong, and it was such a neat experience!  He was confirmed on Sunday, and has been welcomed into the ward with so much love.  Oh, we love Sean so much!

Along with that exciting news...Pete has his baptismal interview this Thursday!  Because he is being interviewed by President Castro, the process has taken a little bit longer than usual.  Meanwhile, Pete has quit drinking coffee, committed to pay tithing, and basically, has finished the missionary discussions.  He's so ready to be baptized, and is already talking about when he will get to be sealed to Doenice and Brooke.  SO COOL!  Once his interview is over, we can officially set a date, but we're expecting May 31st.  We love the Chavez family. :)

Lastly, this week we met a new investigator named Sage.  She's 14 and was recently adopted by a family in the ward.  She has totally embraced the gospel though, and is already seeing the blessings it brings in her life.  We'll be teaching her tonight, and will set her with an official baptismal date.  Possibly the same day as Pete!

As far as the rest of the week goes...All is well here. :)  I was so excited to talk to some of you on Sunday, and it reminded me why I'm here.  I feel so blessed to have such an amazing family, and I'm so glad I get to spend forever with you. ♥  I get to visit the Los Angeles Temple this week for my birthday...and we are SO excited!!  It seems weird, going to the temple every week before my mission, then not going for a month and a half.  We've been counting down the days!

This is the last week of the transfer, so by the next time we talk, I may be packing to head somewhere new.  I'd love to stay here in Camarillo to see Pete and Sage's baptisms, but I guess we'll just wait and find out.  I love you all and I'll talk to you soon!

♥Shay Shay

Monday, May 5, 2014

Awkward...but awesome!!

This week has been absolutely wonderful, and I could probably spend all day talking about it. But instead, here are some of my favorite moments!

For one, I taught the entire Priest and Laurels class the law of chastity.  So, that was....something.  It was time for that lesson with Sean, and it was the LAST one we needed to teach him.  We had it all planned and ready, when we get this text from the Young Men's president: "In an effort to support Sean, we've cancelled mutual this week, and will be joining you for the discussion with Sean!  See you there!"  Now, we as missionaries love a support group.  But of all days....So, I braved my first chastity lesson, and taught about 15 mortified teenagers. Yep.
With all of that said, it's been a wonderful experience teaching these young men and women, and it's been so neat to see them all come together to help him!  They've each been there, every step of the way, loving and supporting him. Recently, his family decided to move to Ventura, so he'll be moving in with a family in our ward.  We're so excited that he'll be staying here in Camarillo, and he's SO excited to be baptized.  It's scheduled and ready to go for this Friday at 4:00, so you'll have pictures by next week!

Just another bit of exciting news...PETE COMMITTED TO BE BAPTIZED!!  What?! 
Honestly, they are just an amazing family.  Since I last updated you, THEY GOT MARRIED!!  Woohoo!!  Over Easter weekend, they had a wedding in Vegas, then planned to be sealed...eventually.  Pete's been taking lessons since about December, and has been such a faithful investigator.  He's kept all his commitments, always come to church, and really, has done everything he can.  But he's been very cautious in making sure he's joining for the right reasons, and wanted to receive an answer that the Book of Mormon was true before committing to be baptized.  So this week, we focused on teaching him to recognize the spirit.  Everyone shared times that they felt the spirit, and how they recognized the answers they received.  He loved the lesson, and at the end, said, "Well sisters...I think my days of investigating are coming to an end."   He asked us to give him a few days to think about what we had taught.  By the next night though, he asked us to come back over.  He said, "I know now that Heavenly Father answered my prayers a long time ago.  I just didn't recognize it until now!"  He committed to be baptized, and we're in the works of setting an exact date and getting his interview set up!  He wants it to be before the transfer so we can both be there, but there's really no way it can be done that quickly.  Of course, we'd love the chance to be around for it, but we'll go wherever the Lords needs us.  Still, we've been so blessed to have the chance to meet Pete, Doenice, and Brooke.  It's amazing to see how much they've grown as a family, and we're so excited for their future.

Well, I've got to head out for today...But, I love you, and will talk to you on SUNDAY!!! :)


Monday, April 28, 2014

Missionary work is the Lord's work.

It's been a wonderful week, but it'd be hard to tell you each and every part of it.  So for now, I'll just tell you about our wonderful Sunday!

So Pete and Doenice got married last week, which was so exciting!  This is the first week they've been to church as the 'Chavez' family...which was lots of fun.  I think I mentioned to you their daughter, Brooke.  She was technically baptized when she was younger, but then ended up joining another church later down the road.  Really, she's just as much of an investigator as Pete, and is searching for her own testimony.

Since she's pretty shy, we went to Sunday School and Young Women with her.  At the start of Young Women, the leaders called me and Sister Cox out of class and asked if we would teach the lesson.  She explained that there were a lot of young women in the ward that seemed to be struggling, and thought maybe since we were closer in age, we'd be able to get through to them in a way that the leaders hadn't.  No pressure, right?  But the lesson was on the Restoration, which luckily, is something we've taught a time or two. :)  So of course, we agreed, and taught an on-the-spot lesson.  Woohoo!

We taught the Restoration in a way that we had never taught it before, which hopefully means that it was taught somewhat by the spirit.  So often we think of the Joseph Smith story only in the history, and we don't always apply it to ourselves.  But it was so neat, as we talked to the girls, that we were able to explain that it really DOES mean something to them.  He was a 14 year-old boy, lost and confused, just like some of them have felt they are.  Normally, we don't focus so much on the power of the adversary that overcomes Joseph.  But today, that was really our focus.  He really is SO strong, and we all feel those temptations in our life. Sometimes we ARE completely overcome.  But as we have faith, as Joseph did, there is always the light of our Savior to show us the way to go.  He is our light in the darkness, and will never fail us, as we have faith in him.  I was SUCH a cool discussion, and the girls really participated.

After the lesson (here's my favorite part), Brooke asked if we would talk to her for a few minutes.  She said, "Sisters...I have a question.  It seems like whenever you come to my house and teach, or whenever I come to church, I feel different.  There's a voice in my head that I only hear when you're there, and it says 'This is true, this is true.'  Is that normal?"  I think we both about jumped out of our seats and cheered...But, we kept our cool, and explained to her that that's the way the spirit answers our prayers: through that feeling, and that still small voice.  She was so excited and we were so excited for her.

At the MTC, one of my teachers said something that made an impact in my mind: "Missionary work is the Lord's work, and he's going to make it happen.  It's our choice whether or not we take part in it."  I see this every day, and feel so blessed to be able to witness it.

All my love,

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Easter with Elder Nelson!

Okay, so MAYBE I didn't have Easter dinner with Elder Nelson, but this weekend was definitely one I will never forget!

We found out a few weeks ago that Elder Nelson would be visiting the Ventura mission, and since then, I think every missionary has been counting down the days until April 19th.  Just in case you forgot, Elder Nelson was the first surgeon to do a successful repair of Tetralogy of Fallot.  Of course, I love all the apostles, but Elder Nelson holds a special place in my heart (punny, punny :).

Well, April 19th finally came, and was everything we hoped it would be.  He spoke with such power, and brought such an amazing spirit, more than I can even explain.  And of course, he left enough time for each of us to meet him, and shake his hand.  Oh, I love him.

His message was straightforward, clear, and simple: there is ALWAYS more that we can do!  We can be more faithful, more positive, more diligent, more obedient, and more like our Savior.  We can talk to MORE people!

He explained it to us this way: Before we came to our life here on earth, we promised our Father, and accepted the call to be a missionary.  And for our brothers and sisters that knew they would be coming here without a knowledge of the gospel, we promised that we would share it with them!  They have been waiting since they came here, and the Lord has been preparing them to meet us and learn of the message we promised to bring them.  It's not a chance, but a duty we have to share the gospel with everyone we meet!  What a good perspective to have as I go out every morning.

He then asked the question, "As you prepared to come to this conference, how many people did YOU talk to?"  I'm pretty sure we all avoided eye contact as we thought about our nice, cool, 30-minute drive to Ventura.  Luckily, that was the answer he had expected.  He smiled, and loving said, "Cars are the curse of the mission.  If you are not face to face with a member, an investigator, or a less-active, you are not a missionary - you are unemployed."  Right now, every Sister missionary in our mission drives a car, by President Castro's request.  But I think there's a good chance that will be changing after today, and as we get a new mission president!  Elder Nelson urged us to leave our cars behind, so we will never drive past someone prepared to hear our message!

He left us with the message that every day, we will continue to grow, for the rest of our missions.  So try a little harder to be a little better!  Don't set false limitations for yourself, as there is always more we can do.  I think we all left that conference with a new conviction, and a new dedication, to be the missionaries we promised our Heavenly Father we would be.  What a wonderful day!

Sunday was my first Easter away from home.  Of course, to start, we decorated Easter eggs in our apartment, and hid them for each other to find. :)  We had so much fun, and it felt a little more like home.

Today, I tried to imagine Easter from the apostles' point of view. They had been with Christ for three years, and had dedicated their whole lives to him.  To them, He was everything.  They had seen His love, His miracles, and the blessings of His gospel.  They knew Him to be the Son of God, and they loved Him so much.  He was their light, their hope, and their life.

Friday would have been unimaginable.  Christ, their all, who they had promised to follow all their lives, was crucified.  I know it's not for me to say what the apostles were thinking, bur I think for ME, watching this happen, I would have the hope of "This is the Son of God.  Surely He will stop this from happening; it can't be."  But it WOULD be, as this is what was needed to break the bands of death.

Then, came Saturday.  In my mind, this day would have been the hardest.  The man who came to save the world, to change the world, is gone.  The world is dark, they have lost the one to lead and guide them.  They were left to carry on, however they knew how.  They returned to what they did know, back to their nets.  I think that dark and lonely Saturday would have been by far the hardest to endure.

However, the Lord never leaves us without hope, and on the third day, that Glorious Sunday, Jesus Christ broke the bands of death, and rose from His tomb.  Mary Madgelene rejoiced, as He visited her in the garden.  Peter jumped from his boat, to stand with the Savior.  The Nephites knelt at His feet, and felt the wounds in his side.  He had risen, and because He is risen, we may each have the chance to return to our Father in Heaven. Christ gave everything to us - He gave His life to save us from our sins.  He is Risen, and Sunday is a bright and joyful day!

In this day and time, I feel so blessed that I never have to endure that dark and lonely Saturday, and I am never without hope.  We are blessed with the knowledge that He Lives!  Elder Nelson said, in the last session of General Conference, "There is only One in whom your faith is always safe, and that is in the Lord Jesus Christ."  On our dark days, and our low times, we can have hope through Him.  He is our Savior, and Redeemer.  He saved us that Easter morning, so many years ago, and I know that I have felt his Redeeming power, every day that I have been here.  I feel so privileged to be able to serve Him, and testify of His truth.  I love Him dearly.  He is my brother, and my best friend.

I hope that once this Easter season has passed, we can keep Him in our hearts at all time, in all things, and in all places, as He does with us.

I love you all so much, and love you for listening to my jumbled thoughts and feelings.  I hope at least some of this letter makes sense.

Happy Easter cute family.  I love you with every bit of my heart. ♥
Sister Shay Shay

P.S. - That family picture is my favorite thing I've ever seen.  I'll hang it on my wall for my entire mission!