Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What a week!

Dearest family and friends:
Such cool things are happening.  Amazing things!  It's sweet.  Sister Gladden and I were just talking about how we have fun wherever we go.  It's really true.  The members here are awesome and I am becoming really close with them.  We exercise with some of the sisters in the ward a few times a week.  Like the young mothers-like Becca's and Jessica's and Valerie's age.  I feel right at home with them because I think of my sisters.  Then I miss my sisters.  But they are cool too.  We really enjoy talking with them about their cute kids and all the things they do.  I have been amazed at how much service and help they are to the ward.  It's crazy because so much weight gets put on just a few people in this ward.  I know they are blessed for it though.
So yesterday was probably the best day of my life.  Definitely the best Sunday.  I felt an increase of the spirit from the time I woke up.  As we got to church, I loved seeing the ward members. I am so happy that I am remembering their names and getting to know them better. It makes church really fun.  We just had a great time talking with them.  Then the miracles started happening.  We had an investigator come to church!  Doesn't sound thaat amazing, I know, but it was.  It's hard to get them to church.  But once they are there, I know that they will feel the spirit and know that this is a place of God.  God is there and the spirit is there because the priesthood is being exercised righteously.  That is powerful.  We also had 3 less active families come that haven't been to church in a very long time.  It made me feel so much happiness.  Then, to my great surprise, the entire bishopric got changed around!  It was really exciting for us and the ward.  What stuck out most to me was the quiet humility in the eyes of the newly called bishop.  I could see the weight of his calling sinking into him as he stood before the ward.  He talked about how he had been blessed with 4 things in his life.  1: A deep testimony of the life and mission of the Savior  2: His wife-who is responsible for everything that he is 3: His family  4: The ability to sleep anytime anywhere.  These comments were meaningful to me, because he understands who he is.  He knows who he is because he knows who the Savior is.  The Savior is the reason we can all repent and rise to greater things than we now know.  That is how he was able to be blessed with his family.  I was grateful at that time for my family and the examples you are to me.  I know that family relationships can be eternal when we know who the Savior is and why it's important for us.  I also chuckled when he said his comment about sleeping anytime anywhere, because that is also something our family has been blessed with. :)  Anyway, we got to teach great lessons yesterday, and just had a really fulfilling day. 
Last week, we had a great experience with fasting and prayer.  We decided to fast and pray for this family who we have taught in the past, but haven't been able to see for 6 weeks. (after many times of trying).  The family is Mark and Terry.  So we were walking down the street that day, and heard a voice say, "Hello Sisters!"  We turned around to see a nice woman and her husband who told us that they were members of the church and had just gotten off of their mission.  We had a nice conversation with them.  As we turned to walk away, lo and behold, there is Mark standing in front of our eyes.  WHAT THE!  (I decided to throw that phrase in for Toby :))  God just scooped Mark up and set him down right in our path.  Mark said, "Hey, I saw you girls on the street as I was driving, so I decided to park and come talk to you" .  It was really cool.  The problem has been that they are so busy working that there is never a time that they are both home for us to go over.  As we talked he said that his whole family would be home at 4:30 that day.  This was a miracle.  We went over at 4:30 and watched everything unfold beautifully.  We got the chance to sit outside with Terry and talk about her job as a caregiver.  The people she cares for are very old and are on the verge of passing on.  I know that's a horrible way to say it, but I mulled over a couple options in my head and this was the best one I could come up with.  She talked about how sad it was to see them pass on because she had grown to love them so much.  We talked about the special feelings she felt when she watched them go to the other side.  It truly is a sacred experience I imagine.  She expressed her concerns about why we have to be on earth to watch people suffer- and Sister Gladden and I got to testify of  God's plan of happiness.  True and simple.  We learned so much from Terry about love.  That is what it is all about.  That is why we have the plan of happiness-because God loves us so much.  We are sent here to learn how to make good choices and love everyone around us.  Christ atoned for our sins because of His great love.  I was grateful for this experience.
Well, last week I got to go to the Alligator Petting Zoo.  It was sweet!  This week a lady in the ward is going to give me and Sister Gladden manicures and pedicures.  We are stoked.  I love to hear about all of your lives, so thanks again for writing me letters and sending me cool things.  It makes my life so happy.  I'd like to say how awesome it is that Elisa Kynsie and Chelsea got their calls!  I am so excited for you all.  I hope you read this.
I love you all very much.  Keep going to church, keep reading your scriptures, and keep praying-because God loves you!
love sister annalisa wilde    

Thursday, April 19, 2012

God is in the details

Sorry it took me a few days to post .....

Dear Family,
We had a really cool week.  Man, I don't even know what to say.  People are always talking about tornados here.  I have never been in one so I don't really know what to expect exactly.  People here have real storm cellars, just like in the Wizard of Oz.  Do they have one in that movie? I thought they did.  Anyway, we get a lot of storms here.  Yesterday we were on a tornado watch all day.  I really love rain though, so I'm pretty okay with it.  Also yesterday, my companion and I got to speak in Glenwood branch.  It was a really good experience.  I love the people in that branch.  One of our investigators actually drove us all the way there!  I know a lot more of the people's names now, and I feel a lot more at home.  Missionary work is really picking up in Glenwood.  When we got home last night, we went in to talk to Brother and Sister Griffin (which we do pretty frequently).  We talked about our day and our cool stories while they fed us dinner.  It was so much fun.  We got talking about Brother Griffin's experiences with the apostles.  He has met almost all of them, and a lot of them have stayed in his home!  He has been a bishop, stake president, area 70, mission president, and temple sealer!  So when I get married, I am going to go out to the Memphis temple so he can seal me to my husband!  How cool would that be. :)  He told us this really funny story about Elder Haight.  Once he was having a meeting with some of the apostles in the Joseph Smith Building in SL.  As they got out, they looked down from one of the upper floors to the lobby on the first floor.  There were a lot of people looking up at the apostles.  Elder Haight was holding on to Brother Griffin's arm as they were about to go down the stairs.  As soon as he saw all the people, he straightened up, took his hand from Bro. Griffin's arm, and said, "Well I better do this on my own with all these people watching!"  It was too funny.
On Saturday, something amazing happened.  A woman from the ward called us in a panic-needing help moving from her 1 bedroom apartment to a 2 bedroom apartment.  We'll call her Angela.  Angela had just found out she could get the place, and needed to be completely moved in by Monday because she wanted her 6 year old grandson Dennis to live with her in order to get him out of a foster home.  The social worker people are coming to inspect her home on Monday to see if it is a good environment to put Dennis.  He is not happy in his foster home and wants to live with his grandma Angela-since his mom is recovering from addiction and cannot have custody of him at this time.  I hope this is making sense, it's kind of a confusing story.  We worked very hard all afternoon cleaning her kitchen and unpacking as much as we could.  Angela's husband is a non member, and both of them were grateful for our help.  Now here's where it gets crazy.  The next appointment we had was with Joy.  We got to her house and told her about the experience we had just had.  We ended up finding out that Joy had been Dennis's foster mother a few years ago- and that her friend Jamie who she had introduced to us and who we are now teaching, is the social worker who will be inspecting Angela's home.  As we talked to Jamie, she told us that she had not previously been inclined to let Dennis live with Angela because of past experiences with her.  But when we told her of Angela's desire to give Dennis a home where he is loved and can learn the ways of God, Jamie said she would now look at the situation completely differently.  Point of the story: The Lord's hand was in this miracle.  We had been in the right place at the right time in order to meet Joy and Jamie, and also to help Angela.  Through our promptings of the spirit, we helped them in ways that built trust.  Because of this, we have changed Dennis's life, Joy's life, Jamie's life, and our own.  It is a witness to me that God loves His children-that he prompts people to do small acts of kindness and service that end up blessing individuals in miraculous ways. 
Sorry if that was really confusing.  If so, just skip to the point of the story and know that that is what I want to convey.  Well, time is short.  Thank you for your prayers, letters, packages, and love.  I couldn't do it without you.  Every person can make a huge difference!  So go out and help somebody because it could mean a whole lot to them.
Love you all,
Sister Annalisa Wilde

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy Easter!

Dear Family and dear Friends,
I hope you all had a wonderful Easter, I really did.  It was very good and also very interesting.  I missed going to Petite Meet with yall, but heard that it was a success.  Is it still pretty cold?  It is not cold here.  I'm getting kinda nervous because it's in the 80's already and everyone is saying we're a month ahead.  I'm going to get roasted this summer.  I hear about lots of bugs that will supposedly eat me alive. Chiggers, ticks, lightning bugs, fleas, cockroaches, even tarantulas.  Let's just say I'm trying not to think about that.
Well, yesterday I got the opportunity to play the piano as a special musical number in church.  Mom sent me some great music and I really enjoyed the time I had to practice a little and to perform.  I really love piano.  I am in my element when I play, so I am comfortable.  I have found that I truly bear my testimony through my playing, and I think it is because I am comfortable.  I am reminded of a conference talk we heard last week- they said that we need to share the gospel in a natural and normal way.  This is crucial because that is how people will really grasp onto it.  So as I become comfortable with people by getting to know them and being a true friend, I can share the gospel with them naturally and normally. I can be comfortable not just when I play, but when I care for others.
After church, Sister Gladden and I went up to Glenwood which is about an hour away.  From there, a lady in the branch, Sister Burnette drove us around to our appointments.  When we were finished, we had to get back to Hot Springs for an appointment-but found out that the keys to the car were nowhere to be found.  We looked everywhere, and called all the people we had visited to see if they had fallen out there.  Nothing.  I am continually humbled and grateful for the selfless service of the people who surround me.  Sister Burnette drove us half way to Hot Springs where a lady in the Hot Springs ward picked us up.  We called the vehicle coordinator in Little Rock, Elder Pugsley, to tell him the news.  He immediately offered to drive the hour and a half from Little Rock to Hot Springs to give us a spare key.  They came last night and arrived at 10:15 pm.  From this whole experience, I was so grateful that these people immediately responded to our needs and served us with love.  This is so priceless.  The best part about it is that we can all do that for someone every day of our lives.  We really can make significant changes in the lives of others as we observe their needs and respond in a Christlike way.
I have seen little miracles every day this week.  One day last week, we went to a retirement home to contact a referral.  As we walked, this woman stopped us and said, "Excuse me, are you missionaries?  From the mormon church?"  We said, "Yes mam, we are."  She explained how she had been inactive for years and really wanted to get back to church but didn't know when our meetings started.  She expressed gratitude that God sent us to her because she was really lifted.  The craziest part was that she was next door neighbors with the referral we were going to contact.  She is friends with that person, and will be instrumental as we meet with him to help him receive the gospel.  On the way back from that appointment, we were walking down the street and heard someone say, "Sisters!"  We turned back in surprise to see a beautiful family.  They said, "We're mormon!"  We immediately hugged them.  We had a wonderful conversation with them.  It was awesome.  The Lord blesses us!
Well, have a good week.  I love you all. 
Love Sister Wilde

Monday, April 2, 2012

My first transfer is almost over!

Dear Family,

It's hard to believe that I'm on my fifth week in the field. Already.  We had another excellent week last week.  President Petersen is always saying that if we are exactly obedient that we will see many mighty miracles.  Our new goal as a mission is to get 7 new investigators a week, so one for each day.  At first this sounds pretty hard.  But our companionship has seen it happen.  Each week, we have gotten 7 or more.  This last week, we got 10.  It is a big blessing to see how the Lord puts people in our path.  I'm still not great at just waltzing up to people and talking about the gospel, but I'm getting better.  I can kind of tell which ones we should talk to, so that's pretty cool.

I loved watching Conference this time.  I listened with new ears, especially when we had an investigator sitting next to us.  The prophets and apostles taught with such clarity the plan of Salvation and the role of our Savior as the central figure of that plan.  I don't know if I have ever felt the Spirit with more intensity than I did these past few days.  We were thrilled to have 2 of our investigators come to one of the sessions.  I felt such a desire for them to understand with their heart the message that was being taught.  I then realized that this is exactly how Heavenly Father feels about us.  He wants us to be aware of Him and His goodness in our lives.  In the Saturday afternoon session, I was surprised to see the MTC choir singing!  It was way sweet, because I knew a lot of them!  I was slightly jealous but then remembered Elder Holland's remarks, so tried to change my attitude. :)  It was wonderful to see them up there, especially singing praise to the Man because I could feel their testimonies of the restoration of the gospel.  I know that God loves us, and that is why He restored the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth.  This is the way to happiness in this life.

Saturday was pretty much the best day of my life.  We spent the evening with Joy (the lady I met at Wal Mart) and her mother and her friend Jamie.  They are all very religious and believe already a lot of what we believe.  They fed us dinner, and I felt very comfortable there.  The night seemed to naturally unfold.  We laughed a lot, and talked about sad and happy things.  They are all single mothers and have had a rough going with their divorces.  But I could feel of the love they had for their families and for Heavenly Father.  We shared the message from Elder Baxter's talk about how the children who come from those single parent homes will praise them for what they have done for them, and that it would count in Heaven all the sacrifices they made.  I felt equally grateful for my own parents who have sacrificed so much of themselves and their time on my behalf.  We bore testimony, taught truth, and grew closer with these wonderful women.  The coolest part was watching the friend Jamie.  Her husband just left her for another woman, and is struggling a lot right now.  We saw how her countenance changed over the evening.  At first when we met her, she was very stand offish and quiet.  Throughout the night as we talked and shared, she opened up a lot more.  They asked us to sing hymns for them, and this really touched Jamie.  The spirit entered the room and quietly assured us all that we had a loving Father in Heaven who was with us.  All she could say was, "wow, that was beautiful".  By the end of the night, she said, "You sisters are gonna come to see me at my house, right?"  It was amazing. 

Last night, we visited a family who is wonderful.  The parents have 5 kids who are very beautiful and energetic.  It sort of reminds me of being with Jeremy and Chelle and their 5 kids, although I love Lincoln, Grace, Graham, Jayne, and Peter more.  Any more on the way I should know about? :) hahaha sorry I couldn't resist.  Anyway, this family is undergoing a transformation.  We have to remember to be patient, because the transformation takes time.  But they have already come a long way.  It really touched me to see that as we opened up the scriptures and started reading and discussing, the kids all went to get their own copies of the Book of Mormon and flipped through the pages.  I will never forget little 4 year old Alex who walked up to me, and with pure trust and humility in his eyes said to me, "Help me find the page, help me read.  Will you help me find Jesus?"  Tears came to my eyes and I told him I would help him.  Mosiah 3:19 took on a whole new meaning to me.  That is what it means to become as a little child.  That is the way we need to approach our Father in Heaven in prayer.  Pure humility and real intent-being willing to change whatever it is that is keeping us from progressing on the path of discipleship.  I loved what I learned from the apostles yesterday.  No matter where you are on the path of discipleship, you are on the right track.  It is all the same work- seeking daily to become more like our Savior through faith and repentance, and that through following him, we will be led to the presence of our Heavenly Father and know true joy.  I'm grateful for a family who understands and lives this.  Thank you for your example and support of me on my mission. 

I love you all with all my heart.

Love Sister Annalisa Wilde