Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas morning with Zone 11

Sister Williams' MTC district, in Ohio
My MTC family had a party in Ohio without me:( Here's a pic of the 7 greatest people you'll ever meet.

Monday, December 22, 2014

More Christmas celebrations!

Okay, does President Taggart even know about this? 
Please get your teeth fixed before proselyting, sisters! - Love, Mom

We had a Christmas party for all the missionaries. It was so much fun to see everyone!

Sister Cobb and I have a little Christmas corner in our apartment where we stacked everything. The members have given us so many presents, too. We don't have a tree so we just drew a picture of one and taped it to the wall. Sister Cobb wants to open all the presents early, but I won't let her because surprises are too much fun.

 Sister Cobb went to see Janelle on Saturday, but I was on exchange so I didn't get to go:( Apparently she's being very receptive though. Amanda finally came to church!! She's so ready to be baptized. We also had two less active members at church, which is a record for us. We also got into a house by Christmas caroling:) 

Weird things about NJ: The house numbers never match up because they are just spontaneously built. No planning. 136 and 8 will be right next to each other.

It's a thing for the fancier houses to put a single candle in each window of their house. Not sure why, but it is really pretty.

Hope you have a great Christmas!

Sister Williams (right) on exchanges with her training leader, Sister Shimon (left)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas celebration of some sort with Pres. and Sister Taggart

Monday, December 8, 2014

6 weeks in: Staying in Eatontown

Zone leaders decorated their apartment door while she and Sis. Cobb were out teaching
I'm finished with my first transfer! 12 more to go. I'm going to be staying in the same area with my same companion because I'm still in training, but lots of other missionaries are moving around. This has been the longest six weeks of my life but I've loved it:)

We taught a lot of lessons and visited a lot of people this week. We have one investigator who is the most prepared and spiritual person I've ever met. She glows when she talks about the Gospel. We taught her about the law of the fast on Saturday, and she told us completely nonchalantly that she had fasted before just because she felt like it would bring her closer to God. She is also receiving revelation when she prays. We're hoping she'll get baptized this transfer. She still has to come to church because every Sunday something comes up. Hopefully this week:)

I love being a missionary at Christmastime. Everyone is more open and we've been able to share the He is the Gift video with a lot of people. We also got to help our recent convert decorate her Christmas tree. 

We went on a mini exchange for a contacting blitz. I went with Sister Ivie who is a Spanish Sister. I was so pumped up to share my testimony with everyone, but the first lady we ran into wanted us to teach her about the Restoration. That was great, except she only spoke Spanish. So, I got to witness a Spanish lesson for about half an hour. It was really cool and really boring at the same time, but at least that lady was introduced to the gospel. 

Love and miss you all!
*Sister Williams

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

At the Woodwards' house
Middletown, NJ

Thanksgiving was a lot of fun:) The morning of, all the missionaries from the southern part of the state came to the Princeton stadium and we played football all morning. It was freezing and snowing outside, but still a lot of fun. Later that day, Sister Cobb and I went to a member's house for dinner. The members here take such good care of us. We had so many offers for dinner appointments because everyone wants to make sure we're being fed. This ward is very focused on missionary work. 

Missionaries from Zone 11 at Princeton Stadium on Thanksgiving Day 2014

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we're trying to focus on the new Christmas initiative the Church is putting out. It's a short, two minute video called "He is the Gift". We watched it with a member and I absolutely love it. We're encouraging everyone to watch it and then share it. I'm starting to really love Christmas because it's a time when millions of people celebrate the birth of Christ. Also, no matter what your religion is, you are focusing on Christlike attributes (joy, gratitude, love, etc.). I'm so excited to share this with everyone.

Surprising reception in the 'hood

Best experience this week: We were trying to find a former investigator to see if we could continue teaching her. It was 8 o'clock at night and we were in one of the more sketchy neighborhoods in our area. We drove past her house, but there were two tall black men standing on the porch. We were kind of terrified to approach that house, but we decided we should. So, we said a prayer, locked our purses in the trunk and walked up to the house.

The two men had gone inside. We knocked on the door and when they opened it, we saw that the house was full of people. It felt cramped and they were blasting music. We asked for the former investigator and they immediately invited us in. I'll admit, I was kind of terrified because I didn't know what I was walking into. But, as soon as they saw who we were, they all got really excited, jumped over each other trying to talk to us, turned off the music, asked us to play the piano for them, asked us to pray, wanted to know where we were from, introduced us to everyone in the house, showed us family pictures, and told us their family tree. All in the space of about 10 minutes. It was so cool how excited they all got. We don't know how interested they are in the church, but it was great to be received so well. We are going back next week, so we'll see how that goes.

Love you all!

Sister Williams

Monday, November 24, 2014

Surprise exchanges and new investigator


We had surprise exchanges this week. It was pretty much just a sleepover. On Friday the Sister Training Leaders came to our apartment and we switched companions. I was with Sister Shimon. She has been out for 9 months and was really fun. I learned a lot from her. I went to her area with her and we taught a few lessons that night. The only problem is that now I want to keep teaching those investigators, but they're not in my area! 

Sister Cobb and I have a new investigator though. We met her while contacting on the boardwalk and she had lots of questions for us. This week we taught her about the Restoration. The lesson was a little scattered because she asked so many different questions, but the Spirit was very strong. I'm starting to really love teaching. 

We also went to specialized training this week. It was for all the new missionaries who had come in 3 weeks ago. It was really fun to see all the sisters I came out with. I still don't know them very well because we were only together for a day, but it was nice to see familiar faces. 

I'm excited for Thanksgiving this week. Apparently missionaries just accept every invitation to dinner and go to all of them. We had a small thanksgiving dinner yesterday at a member's house. She'd been talking to us for weeks about a new ham recipe she was going to try. It was funny how excited she was about it. 

It still hasn't snowed and I still love New Jersey!

Sister Williams

Monday, November 17, 2014

One month down

So apparently it's in the single digits in Meridian, but it's still 30's here! Lots of rain though.
I have been on my mission for a month already. It feels like forever but at the same time went by very fast. I feel like the rest of the months will fly by. 

Last p-day we got to go bowling as a zone so that was really fun. Other than that, it's been a week full of knocking on doors, trudging through leaves, and planning for appointments. It's hard to contact because it gets dark at 4 now and people don't like answering their doors when it's pitch black outside. Apparently everyone here goes to bed at 8.

We had an appointment this week where we were planning to teach our investigator and her boyfriend about the Law of Chastity. We were so nervous and spent a very long time preparing. When we went over to teach it, she started asking us about the Word of Wisdom. So, we had a spontaneous lesson on that instead. It went over really well but was a weird switch. Her boyfriend made us soup and called us his daughters. I love meeting with nice people:)

We got a text Tuesday morning from a recent convert saying that she was told by the Spirit that we had a message for her. We didn't have one in mind, but we went over that night to visit her. My companion opened to a chapter in the Book of Mormon and we started reading and discussing it. It was just going so so, but while we were discussing, the recent convert looked down at the scriptures, read a verse that was completely unrelated from what we were talking about, and said that was exactly what she needed to hear. The Lord had a message for her, not us. We just had to turn to the right chapter for her to find it. I've seen so many little miracle like this that I can't even remember all of them. It's amazing how little we do and how much the Lord actually does. 

Hopefully it stays warm here as long as possible!

Sister Williams

Monday, November 10, 2014

Pulled over while proselyting in the "crazy cat state"

Policeman nicely asks Sister Cobb and Sister Williams to cease and desist while proselyting at Monmouth University
 Hello everyone!
It's been an interesting week. I've mostly still been trying to adjust but I still love it out here.
It's still full fall right now but a couple days ago we had what New Jersey calls a nor'easter. It's pretty much a storm that blows in from the north. Sister Cobb and I were out contacting when it hit, which wasn't the best experience.

Something I've noticed about New Jersey is that every single person in this state has at least two cats. I'm not exaggerating, they really do. Jersey is the crazy cat state of America. We also have a less active member who has a pet pig. His name is Barbecue.

Last p-day we went to the beach which is only about ten minutes from our apartment. It's so beautiful there! The shore is covered with millions of shells, you are almost always standing on them.

A couple days ago, our district decided to all go contacting together. The Elders wanted to go to a college campus. I wasn't sure about that but we went. We contacted for about 20 minutes and then kind of got thrown off the campus by the police. They were super nice about it though. The Spanish Sisters got a picture of us being "pulled over" while proselyting.

So something that almost every missionary dreads doing out here is role plays. We do them in companion study and practice teaching each other. Sister Cobb and I decided to make it a little more exciting. We dressed up as missionaries from Book of Mormon times, stood on the couch, and preached to the Lamanites, speaking in biblical language. At first I thought those Lamanites would stone us or something, but they accepted our words and agreed to come to church on Sunday:)

Missionary work is pretty fun. I love going out and meeting all sorts of new people. We taught the Restoration of the Gospel to two investigators this week and the Spirit was so strong during both. I love sharing my testimony.
Sister Williams 

From Sister Cobb: The companion's view

This whole week has been pretty tough. It was almost like a scene from The Best Two Years. Knock - slam. Walk - pouring rain. Appointments - not home. We don't have a lot of people to teach, and we got a few doors slammed in our faces. I'm so proud of Sister Williams for persevering through it (we did a lot of finger painting and piano playing this's therapeutic). She is determined to keep working hard, even though we aren't seeing a lot of the success most missionaries expect.

Interestingly enough, November 8th was my favorite day of the week.  It started off on an amazing note - teaching. We finally got to teach someone! We went over to a less active's home. Her name is Sister Woods, and she is a character. She feeds us figs and seaweed and has an enormous pet pig. His name is Barbeque, and she feeds him bacon (she thinks it's hilarious). We had a sweet lesson with her and her grandson, Ryan. Ryan isn't baptized (his parents aren't members), but he loves the missionaries and always sits in on our lessons. He's a pretty spiritual little guy though.

After that, all of the missionaries in our area met at the church to go on a contacting blitz! It was a blast. We went contacting around Monmouth University and then in Asbury Park. Asbury Park used to be in our area, but the sisters are no longer allowed to go there because the ward petitioned to get us out. It's pretty dangerous, even during the day (I know some sisters who almost got kidnapped there). We got to talk to this really neat woman who asked us a lot of questions, like, "Will I ever see my mom again?" and "What happens to us after we die?". She was really interested and invited us to come back and teach her! We gave her to the elders though, because she lives in Asbury Park. We also contacted a sweet Spanish woman who wants to know more about eternal families! She also invited us back, but we gave her to the Spanish elders because we don't really speak Spanish. All in all, we got to talk to a lot of people about the gospel. It was so fun.

On Saturday, we had another appointment to teach Amanda! Hooray! Amanda is one of the sweetest, most prepared people I have ever met. She was texting us all week about how much she was loving the Book of Mormon. During our lesson, SHE taught US about the gospel. She is really excited to be baptized!

We taught her about the Restoration, and Sister Williams got to share the first vision for the first time on her mission! When she recited the first vision for Amanda, the Spirit completely filled up the room. It was powerful, and Amanda could feel it. It was one the most spiritual Restoration lesson I have ever been a part of. Sister Williams is a clear teacher and is so sincere. After the lesson, we invited Amanda to pray to know if the Book of Mormon was true, only to find out that she had already prayed about it and knew it was! 

That night, our recent convert Crystal invited us out to dinner. She is such a humble and giving person. I always feel bad when members take us out for meals or buy us anything, but I know that they will be blessed for serving us. If anyone deserves blessings, it's Crystal. She was baptized in May, has more trials than any person should have to endure, and loves the Lord. She is so faithful and determined to keep her family rooted in the gospel.

Sister Cobb

Their humble home (apt)

Monday, November 3, 2014

First Week in New Jersey

Sister Williams and Sister Cobb

New Jersey is BEAUTIFUL. The fall leaves are absolutely gorgeous, although it's already starting to get really cold. 

I thought my departure date from the MTC was on Wednesday (Oct 29), but the elders from the New Jersey district surprised me when they told me only three days before that we were leaving Monday. Had to get up at 4 a.m. to get to the airport. I miss my district so much, but it's still great out here.

So we flew out to New Jersey and spent the night at the mission home. There were a lot of other sisters there that had flown in from the Mexico MTC. I was the only English sister there. The next day we had a lot of meetings and then we were assigned companions and areas!

My companion's name is Sister Cobb and she is the best trainer in the world. She's from Arizona and has been out for four months. Our area is Eatontown South so we are at the very bottom of our mission. Our area covers the coast (everyone here calls it the shore) so we get to contact on the boardwalk sometimes. 

We actually got the night off for Halloween this week because Pres. Taggart didn't want us outside after 6. So we carved pumpkins and made caramel apples. A less active member we visited also gave us a huge bag of candy:)

I love the people here. Everybody talks A LOT. We've visited so many people and handed out so many pamphlets. On Saturday, Sister Cobb had the impression that we needed to go visit a former investigator and commit her to baptism. We did and she accepted! Her baptismal date is November 23rd. She said she was so glad we came by because this was just what she needed. 

I feel like I've been here forever even though it hasn't even been a week, but I love it so much:)

Sister Williams

First Week in New Jersey: The Companion's View

I am the proud mother of SISTER WILLIAMS! *insert cheering and dancing*

Needless to say, I already love her to death. Seriously, I think I might suffocate her with my love. I had to rein it in a little bit when we first met so that I wouldn't overwhelm her. 

Sister Williams is from Boise, Idaho. She's 19 years old, attended BYUI for a year, wants to be a social worker, loves art and music, and her spirit animal is a fox. We had tons of fun on the night of mischief and on Halloween (mission rules - we had to stay inside). We carved pumpkins, made caramel apples, watched Legacy, finger painted, and made popsicle stick temples. It was a blast. We are having so much fun and working hard out here! I absolutely adore her. The full story of our companionship is actually really neat, so I'll tell you more about it.

Inspired companionship

I have been more than a little worried about training a new missionary. I'm still ridiculously new and inexperienced, and I don't feel qualified to be a trainer! I've been praying A LOT for comfort and counsel as to how I should train her and what we need to do to be successful in our area. 

The Lord told me so much about my new companion before she got here - her name, what her emotions would be like when she came to New Jersey, her personality, and even her coping mechanisms for stress. I have been able to love her and serve her from the second she got here, because the Lord prepared me for her. 

Last week, I managed to get Sister Gilchrest (a very nice, cookie baking senior sister) to share two things with me: her peanut butter cookie recipe and the list of incoming missionaries. Well, the second I glanced at the list of new missionaries, the name "Williams, Rachel Yvonne" literally leapt off the page at me. It was amazing. I just knew that Sister Williams was going to be my trainee, even before I discovered that she was an English speaking sister! 

Here's how President decides on the trainer/trainee companionships: On Tuesday, before transfer conference, all of us go into a huge room and eat lunch. He goes into another room and prays with the assistants to know how he should pair the companionships. He receives that revelation, comes back out, and then announces the companionships. On Tuesday, we drove up to Morristown for the "Meet Your Trainers" meeting with all of the trainees! As soon as we got into the room with all of the scared-looking trainees, I scoured the place for Sister Williams. I marched right up to her, gave her a huge hug (it took her WAY off guard, ha), and pulled her into lunch with me. Of course, I didn't tell her I was her trainer. That would just ruin the surprise. When President Taggart announced my name and called Sister Williams to be my trainee, I wasn't surprised at all! Knowing that Sister Williams really was supposed to be my companion was very comforting. I know that the Lord does bless and inspire the priesthood holders who lead this church.

Our first night in Eatontown was really fun. I am pretty sure Sister Williams was scared to death (I'm not sure if it was of me or of being on a mission...) and wondering what in the world she got herself into. We didn't even unpack before we went out to go and meet the good people of Eatontown! It was quite the adventure. The next day, we went out contacting on the boardwalk at Bradley Beach (which was super fun, by the way... we met all of these really cool people), had dinner at our recent convert's house, and met with the Bishop. 

Sis. Williams' first contact

Proudest moment of my entire life: Sister Williams' first contact! It was her first full day in the mission field, and she went for it all by herself! She was SO brave and started talking to this man named Howard while we were grocery shopping. He about talked her ear off (people in Jersey LOVE to talk), and she listened patiently and wove the gospel into the conversation. She was a pro. The look on her face after the contact was over was absolutely priceless: it was a mixture of shock, joy, pride, and adrenaline. We did a little happy dance in the juice isle of Shop-rite to celebrate.

First baptism invitation and acceptance

On Saturday, we had interviews with President and Sister Taggart. President Taggart gave me some really inspired advice for our area and for Sister Williams. He challenged us to use the power of faith to find the prepared people in our area. Right after interviews, we went to our favorite trailer park in Eatontown to meet with some old investigators. They weren't home, but I felt strongly that we needed to go and visit another former investigator, Amanda. It's a miracle we even know about Amanda. She was meeting with the missionaries two years ago and even had a baptism date, but disappeared right before it. Last transfer, while Sister Fjerstad and I were teaching George and Debbie, Amanda walked into their trailer! As soon as she saw us, she said, "Wait! I used to meet with you! I think I still have my Book of Mormon. I finally feel ready to come closer to God, and I want to meet with you again!" Amazing, right? Well, we never got to see her again before we got doubled out. 

Anyways, while Sister Williams and I were driving to see Amanda, I told her that she was going to invite Amanda to be baptized. She had a terrified look on her face. We stopped outside of Amanda's, and I asked Sister Williams, "Do you have faith?" She replied, "Yes?". "No, Sister Williams. Do you have faith?" She paused. After a minute of thinking, she looked at me again, this time with confidence, and said, "YES". I nodded. We prayed in our car, and then walked through the rain to knock on Amanda's door.

A man answered (we later learned that it was her boyfriend, Angel). He invited us in immediately and called for Amanda. She came out of a back room, saw us, and gave us enormous hugs. She was so excited we'd come back to see her! It was amazing. We sang, "I am a Child of God" with her and Angel, and by the end of it, she was in tears. Amanda told us that she could feel the Spirit and that she wanted to feel this way all the time. Sister Williams bravely charged forward and promised Amanda that she could feel that way all the time. She testified of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost and invited Amanda to be baptized... and Amanda said yes! I don't know who was more excited - Amanda or Sister Williams! Angel wants to start meeting with us too, so we're hoping to have a wedding and two baptisms this month. Miracles miracles miracles!

Diligent and obedient

 It's been amazing to see how the Lord blesses us as we work as diligently and obediently as we can. We're already seeing miracles, and it is not a result of our talents or abilities. It is the Lord's power and goodness that is making this work possible.

To quote Sister Williams (the best trainee in the whole world): "I like being a missionary! This is fun." It took her until Friday to say that (another one of the proudest moments of my life), but she's right! Being a missionary makes me so happy.


Sister Cobb

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The  Amazing MTC  

                                                    First companion, Sister White
Hello everyone!

The MTC is absolutely AMAZING. I love it here:) My companion's name is Sister White. She's from St. George and is going to Columbus, Ohio. She is so sweet and I love working with her. So there are three districts in our zone. One is all going to New Jersey, but I am the only sister, so they put me in with the district going to Ohio. The third district left for Australia yesterday. There are two other sisters in our district, Sisters Morgan and Davis. We all share a dorm together and we have so much fun. All these sisters are so sweet and hilarious. We were a very quiet group at first but now we are all so comfortable around each other that we can laugh at anything. 

We mostly have class every day with our districts. Our teachers are Brother Leah (who has a legit British accent) and Sister Borland (she looks like Anne Hathaway). I love class, I am learning so much about sharing the gospel and loving the people. We've taught several investigators, although we don't know if they're actual investigators or just members volunteering, they don't tell us. I already love teaching. I was afraid everything here would be too much  of a spiritual overload, but it's actually so amazing. I can feel the spirit during any part of my day. I really don't want to leave. 

It took us a while to figure out how to get around campus. The second day was the most confusing. To start it off, I found out after we left that I had forgotten my socks, ctr ring, watch, map, schedule, hymn book, and planner. I think my memory is improving though:) We also spent five minutes trying to find stairs to the third floor of a building, only to have someone tell us it was a one story building. 

I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my life as I have here. There are four elders in our district and they are so hilarious. I don't even know how to describe them. Let me just tell you that two of the most normal things they've done are 1. argue for an hour about whether or not raisins are against the word of wisdom and 2. draw a picture on the board of a unicorn inside a narwall with its horn poking out of the narwall's forehead. Sometimes they'll be super spiritual, but eventually the 18 year old boy comes out. 

We went to the temple this morning so that was really nice. The Provo temple is so beautiful. Umm...what else? The food is delicious. The campus is pretty. The Church is true. I love being a missionary!


Sister Williams

Wednesday, October 15, 2014