Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What a great week!

Dear Family,
We had a great week!  I am going to recap the last two days of last week.
Saturday:  During our studies, Bro. Griffin came upstairs and invited us to go do street contacting by the convention center that morning.  They had a big republican convention and Bro. Griffin was invited to give the invocation.  Pretty cool.  We did some contacting and got a new investigator. 
Later during the day, we went to contact a referral.  We knew the street, but didn't know the house number.  We were driving pretty slow down the street, and saw a lady out working in her yard.  I thought-oh maybe we can ask this lady if she knows where Lena lives.  Then Sister Gladden said, "That's her."  She got out of the car and said, "Hey Lena!"  It totally was her.  I thought it was pretty cool that the spirit told her it was Lena. 
That night, we went to a lesson with BJ.  We've been teaching BJ for quite some time, and she knows the BOM is true..but was having a hard time because she didn't want to leave her church.  We taught the restoration in this demonstration we have with cups.  The foundation of apostles and prophets is key-and all the doctrines and principles of the gospel are built upon that strong foundation.  After we taught, she said, "I'm so glad God showed me this today".  She really understood the apostacy and how the authority of the priesthood could bless her life.  She said she felt that her prayer was answered that night.  This was a big stepping stone-and a miracle, if you ask me.  To receive an answer to prayer is a great blessing.
When we got home that night, it finally dawned on us that the best day of our lives was the next day.  It was the day Brother Bledsoe would be baptized.  We started to get really excited, so we did a happy dance, which I so graciously recorded.  :)  We felt like it was Christmas Eve cause we couldn't sleep-that's how excited we were.  So I sang myself Christmas songs in hopes of faling asleep.
Sunday:  We got to Glenwood and everything was hopping.  Everyone came in their best clothes, carrying plates and plates of food for the lunch afterward.  The fridge was completely full.  Our stake president, Pres. Beheshti, and mission president, Pres. Petersen both came.  They were the speakers for sacrament meeting.  The spirit was there.  Their talks were powerful. So many people came for the baptism.  We had the whole branch and then quite a few members of the Hot Springs ward who know the Bledsoes.  One of my absolute favorite parts was meeting their beautiful family.  Brother Bledsoe's son Garry came from California to baptize him.  He brought his wife, and three of his kids( who are all grown now with their own children).  His kids are Katherine, Jeff, and Kristie.  Kristie brought her kids too.  So Brother Bledsoe had his wife, children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren there for his baptism.  The moment I met them, I felt a love for them that I cannot describe.  I felt as if I had known them my whole life.  I know I say that all the time, but I really did.  Garry took me and my companion aside and thanked us sincerely for teaching his father.  He said that he knew we were called to this exact mission for the purpose of bringing his dad into the waters of baptism and receiving the gospel.  So many elders had tried to teach him in the past.  I know that this must have been the right time, and I know it was Heavenly Father who did it, because I didn't do a thing.  I just met him and loved him and tried my best to teach.  Garry said that his dad told him that they adopted us as the daughters they never had.  He said he considered us sisters, and that if we were ever in the San Diego area to call them up.  It was so meaningful to feel that love and acceptance from that beautiful family.  In a year's time, Bro Bledsoe will be sealed to them.  
There's more..but it's too long..Antwon and his family are making a ton of progress.  They are truly ready for the gospel.  We are seeing Antwon change. He's in 3 Nephi!  Well, he said he kinda skipped around, but he's read a lot of it.  It's way more exciting than it sounds, I promise.
I love you all.  I feel really happy.  Mostly because of Brother Bledsoe's family.  Now I have two amazing families!  I just cant believe it.
love sister annalisa wilde

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Another Hot Week in Hot Springs!

Hello my dear family!
It has been another hot but wonderful week here in Hot Springs.  My days are numbered I'm afraid...Sister Gladden is training a new missionary coming next transfer, so I will unfortunately have to say goodbye to the Griffins, all the people in the ward that I love, and our awesome investigators.  I love these people..it feels like I've known them my whole life.  It's cruel for them to be taken away from me. I'll just have to keep in touch with them I suppose.  Anyone who knows me knows I am crappy at dealing with change.  I am really bad at it.  But it's coming so I'm trying to brace myself.  Anyway, I wrote my list again of things I needed to include in my letter.  Funny things and spiritual things. 
Funny things:
Last night we were visiting Cynthia and Paul.  Cynthia just had a baby 2 months ago, but thought she was pregnant again.  Her mom went and got her a pregnancy test, she took it, and found the result-all in the time we were sitting on the couch talking. hahahah.  Well, she's not pregnant, if you're wondering.  But she is the funniest girl, so I had to share some things she said.  We somehow got talking about how Paul accidentally ran over their dog Nemo, and he died.  This is not funny, but the whole conversation was already funny, so we laughed all the way through it.  Cynthia said, "Stop talking about that Paul-I hate thinking about that because I still feel personally responsible for the death of my turtle!" hahahahaha.  Man, I don't know what it was, but we couldn't stop laughing.
Being missionaries, we run all over town every day.  During our galavanting(did I spell that right?), we see lots of names of churches.  First Baptist, First Pentacostals of Benton, Grace Bible church, Gospel Light, Church of the Nazerene, Trinity Baptist, Cowboy church (Yes, cowboy church.  What on earth would you do at cowboy church?!), well that's all I can think of right now.  My favorite one is cowboy church.  Almost everywhere you go you can see signs saying scriptures from the bible, or "Jesus is Lord".  One of my favorite signs at a church said, "We may not be dairy queen but we sure have good sundays".  :) 
Spiritual things:
Last week we had a specialized training, which is a meeting where two of the zones get together to have training from President and the assistants.  We do a lot of role plays at them.  They are always great because they are really uplifting.  This time, the assistants called me and asked if I could do a special musical number with another elder who is a pianist.  His names is Elder Sudweeks-he is a jazz major at BYU.  I think it's jazz, I know he's a jazz pianist.  Anyway, I was lucky to have a duet that Sister Hugentobler gave me(because we were going to do it together).  So that's what I brought to the training.  We practiced for about 20 minutes before the meeting and then performed.  It was fun to make music with someone again.  I miss it so much...I wish we could have played more things and for longer.  It was really fun to get that together though, because that's what I love to do.  Like all the times I made Michelle and Chelsea and Elisa and Joy and Kynsie do all these musical numbers with accordians, guitars, barbershop quartets, caroling..:) haha.  We played Dad's favorite primary song "My Heavenly Father Loves Me".  
 The other day we had a lesson with Brother Bledsoe, who is getting baptized next sunday!  He had specifically requested a special musical number of this song called 'In the Garden'.  Mom, do you know it?  I had never heard it before, but we sung it ones at the Bledsoes' house.  I was playing through a book of hymn arrangements last P-Day and came across this song!  So when I saw Bro. Bledsoe a few days later, I played it for him.  He began to cry.  It was very sweet.
We had a lesson with Antwon the other day that was incredible. We taught the Plan of Salvation. As we talked about the pre mortal life and how we lived with God, they looked at us and said, "Really?? Are you serious?" We explained the spirit world and resurrection, and the look of shock on their faces intensified. Antwon said, "Preachers don't tell you this stuff..why hasn't anyone ever told me this?" He talked about two of his best friends who passed away because of over dosing on drugs. We explained that the gospel of Jesus Christ is being taught to those who have not heard it and they get another chance to change. There was a change in his whole countenance when we told him that. He looked at us in disbelief. I could see that hope entered his eyes. The whole lesson was like this-he kept saying, "I never knew this.." At the end, he said, "You know, a lot of different church people come around and knock on my door. I don't want to turn away the Lord, so I let them in. What they said never really sat well with me, but ever since you two starting coming around, I feel like what you're saying is real. This is real." Yesterday, Antwon brought 8 kids to church with him. 8! Some of them were nieces and nephews, and some were his own kids. It was rather remarkable. It took a mini van and another car to get them all to church, but it was worth it!

Well, I hope you have a good week.  I love you all very much.  I think of and pray for you often.
love sister annalisa wilde

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Week of July 16th

My dear family,
I started writing a list of the things I needed to include in my letters home because I didn't want to forget the funny things that happen.  So I hope you all feel really special because I've been working on my list since Wednesday.  It has been a really good week.  It has rained quite a bit, and hasn't been too hot.  Well, it hasn't been as hot.  I am making it though.  It's really not that bad.  We only see a few cockroaches..haha.  The other night, Sister Gladden became frantic as a cockroach entered her closet.  She began tearing all of her clothes out, searching for the bug.  She then picked up a hanger and started wacking it.  I cooly said "Why don't you just close the door and find it in the morning sister...?"  She said, "Well, you wouldn't be so calm about it if it went in YOUR closet, would you?!" hahahaha. I kept my apathetic attitude and said, "Well there are probably some in there right now.." haha.  It made her so mad. :)
A few of our investigators made some big strides this week. After zone meeting on Thursday, both Sis Gladden and I felt strongly that we needed to repent and teach the law of Chastity boldly to Tiffany Martin. She had a baptismal date for Aug 4 with her daughter Cheyenna, but is currently living with her boyfriend.  I have come to realize throughout this week even more clearly that Satan is real and is really working hard against Tiffany because she has a growing testimony of this church. We had a wonderful lesson with her at Bro Devaux's home, where he was able to give her a priesthood blessing. I felt the spirit strongly during it, even though I was not the person receiving it. She told us later that she felt like his hands were heating pads, and felt this warmth all throughout her body. We assured her that that was the Holy Ghost. She is feeling the sorrow and disappointment of the fact that she has to work out her living situation before she can be baptized. I have a feeling that once she sees Cheyenna's baptism on the 4th, that she will feel the spirit even more strongly-strongly enough to do what is necessary to keep God's commandments.

Do you remember the family I talked about that we taught on the fourth of july and they all love to read the book of mormon?  Well it's Antwon. He has come to church 3 times. Yesterday after church, Bro. Devaux invited him over for lunch. During lunch, I could feel that he was feeling the spirit more and more as he came to church and became immersed in the gospel through watching those who live it. He and his son Marian set a baptismal date for Aug 4th. Sweet huh.  During our lesson after church, we asked Antwon if he had any questions for us.  He said, "Yeah, I have a question.  It's something I've been wondering all my life.."  I'm thinkin, oh great, he's gonna ask why his previous baptism wasn't valid-what am I gonna say?  He said, "What does Santa Clause have to do with Jesus?" hahahaha.  What the?  It was so funny.  But I didn't laugh out loud, I saved that til later.  Anyway, Bro Devaux gave a good answer. :) 
Last Wednesday we spent some time in Glenwood.  We went to Sister Hawthorne's house to see Howard-you remember, the really stubborn one who has gone to church for 12 years but won't be baptized?  Well, he's just as stubborn as ever.  When we arrived, he wasn't home, but Sis Hawthorne came out of her house before we could even get out of the car.  She told us that she had been really down that day and had prayed, not quite an hour earlier, for a missionary opportunity in her home.  Then we showed up!  It felt good to see the answer to her prayer.  Later, Howard came home, and started working out in his shop.  We went out there to talk with him.  He was making his own diesel fuel.  Seriously?  He was making his own!  I didn't even know that was possible.. I soon realized how very little I knew, and how foreign I felt.  He explained the process, pointing to various tubes connected to big barrels of things, talking about chemicals and such, and ended by saying, "see, there's really nothin to it".  Umm..okay.. It was strangly comforting and wonderful to be there watching him make diesel fuel though. I loved seeing the sunset and the countryside.  We then had a good ol' southern meal. Cornbread, fried ocra, fried squash, pea sausage(10 bucks to anyone who knows what that is), and tomatoes from sis Hawthorne's garden.  It was a beautiful experience.
The other day, we visited Margaret.  Dominoes Margaret.  She has dimensia and is goin downhill since she fell and broke her hip, bless her heart.  She said the sweetest thing to us- "Are you real sisters? Or are you sisters in the Lord?"  We told her sisters in the Lord. She then asked, "Have you known each other a long time?"  Without hesitation we said, "Yes".  It was so cool, because we've only known each other for 4 months, but it felt like so much longer because we have been able to connect spiritually. 

Today, Sis Gladden and I had a special experience during companionship study. I said the prayer, and thanked Heavenly Father for faith-the first principle of the gospel. I said that we knew it was the foundation. As we got off of our knees, Sis Gladden said, "Did you read President Eyring's talk too?" I told her I hadn't. She said, "That's funny, because faith as our foundation is exactly what his talk is about!" I knew that I had received revelation through my prayer when she said that. It set the tone for our whole study. I learned a lot about faith, and she helped me understand my own concept of faith. She received revelation for me too. I love her.
Okay one more story.  I saved the best for last.  On Saturday, we got a call from Bro Devaux.  I knew he was at the Kansas City temple that day for the temple sealing of a girl who had been part of the Hot Springs ward.  She was taught the gospel in his home. He was the photographer for her wedding. He said to me, "Hey, do you know Briawna Hugh?"  " YES I know her!! I love her".  He said that she was at the same temple sealing!  She had met him and asked if he knew a Sister Wilde.  How cool is that?!  Then yesterday at church, Bro Devaux handed me a folder. I opened it and there was this huge picture of none other than Sister Hugh in all her glory.  She was waving hi to me.  It made my day. How thoughtful of Bro Devaux.
Well, those are my stories and thoughts for the week.  I hope you all have a wonderful week and take care to remember the small blessings you receive.  You might find that you are super blessed.  That's cause God loves you.
love sister annonisa wilde

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Week in the HOT South!

Dear Family,
We just had a great week!  It has been very hot here, but it did rain a few times last week.  I LOVE rain so much.  Rain restores any happiness that wasn't previously inside of me.  Life is good also because I get to stay in Hot Springs for one more transfer!  I pretty much know that I'll leave Hot Springs next transfer though.  I'm so glad President is keeping us here together because there is so much work to be done.  Wonderful things are happening.  When we told Tiffany and Cheyenna that we were staying and would definitely be at their baptism, Tiffany burst into tears, and Cheyenna just hugged us and said how much she loved us.  She is a special little girl.  Tiffany asked if Sis Gladden and I would make sure to keep in touch with Cheyenna because of how much she looks up to us.  Cheyenna said that we were like big sisters to her.  We will also be there for Bro Bledsoe's baptism.  It has become this huge deal because everybody and their dog wants to be there so they are all trying to get him to change the date to one that they can come to.  I don't really care what day he does it, as long as I get to be there.
Wednesday:  The 4th of July was..well..I'm not gonna lie. Disappointing and not very 4th of July like-even at all.  Oh BY the way!  Happy birthday to Melissa, Hannah and Elliot.  I thought about you all when it was your b-day.  Anyway. As for missionary work-the day was really good.  The best part was when we went to Antwon's house.  Antwon is this really cool black guy that sounds like he's rapping every time he talks. :)  We got there and there were a ton of kids running around.  Like 7.  Some of them were his, some were nieces and nephews.  When we came in, he said, "Who wants to do bible study?"  5 out of the 7 kids shot their hands up.  The two that didn't were the ones who can't even read.  How awesome is that?!  They all wanted to read from the Book of Mormon with us!  We passed out BOMS and those kids sat with us and read a whole chapter.  We read and discussed for a good 45 minutes.  I was honestly astounded. I loved those kids so much and was proud of them for wanting to read the scriptures.  
Friday:  We had two baptisms!  It was a wonderful experience.  Craig Baldwin was baptized. It was great to see how happy Nancy was. She bore her testimony at the end of the service about the Holy Ghost and how she knew in her heart that this was the path to her Savior, and that now that Craig is baptized, he can be on that path as well. We experienced first hand the truth that attending baptismal services is the best converting tool. Tiffany Martin attended on Friday and was very touched. She said that as she witnessed the baptism, she was completely overwhelmed with the peace and love she felt. She said that she now knew what that "energy for God" that she was looking for felt like. We helped her identify it as the Holy Ghost. She felt confident of that feeling and said that she knew this was the right church for her to be in.
Saturday:  Weekly planning got a little...long.  Somehow we got off on the tangent of how it's funny sometimes when people get mad and start yelling.  It really is funny.  I always feel a little bad for laughing, but it's not as bad as when I laugh when little kids get hurt.  I'm awful, I know.  Sister Gladden re-enacted her mom comin at her with a coat hanger yelling.  It was super funny.  Then, I remembered the time that I was little and our cousin Hannah was even littler and she got mad at me and came charging at me like a bull. We started laughing really hard, and then somebody from downstairs was like, "Sisters...are you okay?" hahaha.  It was the Griffin's niece, Chantel.  She said we weren't making normal "sister noises". We kinda aren't normal sisters. :)
Sunday: All our dreams came true because Valerie came to church.  She is doing so good.  She has gotten a lot of criticism from her family and the deaf community about studying with the missionaries and wanting to go to the Mormon church.  (If I've already told you all this, sorry).  She was nervous to come to church because of what they'd say, so she always made excuses why she couldn't.  Yesterday was finally the day that she came.  She told us of a conversation she had with her 10yr old daughter, Maegen.
Maegen: "You really need to be in church, Momma"
Valerie: "Even if it's the Mormon church?"
Maegen: "Momma, I see Christ in them"
WOW!  That was cool.  Valerie is prayerfully considering a baptismal date.
Well, time is ticking.  I love you all. I really do.
love sister annalisa wilde

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

4th of July

Dear Family,
I am sad to think about how you all are having a blast this week.  Fourth of July is my favorite holiday.  I will also have everyone know that tomorrow is my half birthday, so that is an accomplishment. :)  I hope you all have a great time at the balloons and the parade..(I'm only being a little bit sarcastic).  Send me pictures, okay?
Well, it is blasted hot here.  It has been over 100 degrees every day this week.  People are dropping like flies.  Literally.  Someone died here the other day because their internal temperature was 109 degrees.  Sister Gladden had an asthma attack on Friday and had to go to the ER.  JUST for being outside in the heat for 20 minutes.  It's nuts.  It's always an adventure to go to the ER though. haha.  I feel pretty cool giving her nebulizer treatments and driving her around to safety-sorta like I'm a doctor or paramedic.  Savin lives.. haha. Well not really.  But she is doing good now.  I have a horrible fear that they are going to transfer one or both of us next week.  But they can't, you see!  Because listen to this..
Miracles this week.
Tiffany and Cheyenna have been comin to church and meeting with us regularly and reading the Book of Mormon.  They have felt a lot of resistance and negativity from family members for doing this.  Last night she told us that she knew this was the adversary being mad that she is doing the right.  Tears filled her eyes as she said, "I want to set a baptismal date.  I want to be right with the Lord".  YEAH!  Like Joe always tells me "Punch Satan in the face!"  That's what she did.  I hope Joe is reading this.  I am humbled to be able to have seen the change in her since she has been gradually accepting the gospel and the blessings of the atonement in her life.  They are getting baptized August 4.
Brother Bledsoe has finally worked out his baptism date.  It's July 29.  He asked me and my companion to sing a special number at it.
On the way home from Joy's house the other night, this lady came out of her apartment as we were driving by.  Immediately, I thought of our investigator Marci.  I said, "We've got to see Marci.  Tomorrow."  Sis Gladden said, "That lady looked like Marci, didn't she."  We had had the same thought when we saw her.  The next day, we went to Marci's.  She told us she had been very depressed and had laid in bed for 3 days crying and praying.  She said, " I could feel you girls getting closer.  I knew you would come soon.  I  thought it was going to be yesterday.  But today was the day I finally got up, and then you showed up."  Wow.  As I thought about it later, I realized that I'm not sure how much that lady even looked like Marci- but just the slight resemblance was enough.  Heavenly Father had timed that just right so that we could receive the prompting to go see Marci when she needed someone.  I witnessed how Heavenly Father is the best composer in the universe-  using us as instruments to orchestrate our lives and interactions with each other in perfect harmony to bring about His eternal purposes of our peace in this world and eternal life in the world to come.
On Thursday I think it was, we went with the Relief Society President to see a young mother whose family is struggling very much.  We went in to the appointment thinking that we would watch Finding Faith in Christ with her.  As we sat down and began talking, it became apparent that we should go in another direction.  We didn't know what that was, but we just listened as she talked.  I always think of Dad when things like this happen because he is the best listener I know.  Somehow, with her talking and just a few questions from one of us, Sis Floyd(rs pres) was able to give wise counsel.  Her story brought me to tears.  I felt so bad for her and the situation.  At the end of our talk, we asked her to pray and plead with Heavenly Father for the things she needed.  It was a beautiful heartfelt prayer.  As we talked about it on the way home, I realized that the object had been to soften this woman's heart to come to humility and prayer.  I also realized that in the process, my heart was softened too.  I have become so grateful for a family who supports me, and that I am healthy.  I have gone to visit quite a few people in the hospital lately.  How cool is it that I don't have to be in the hospital.  It's a blessing.  I pray for those who are sick in our family.
I don't know if I've shared this with you, but something my mission president told me has helped me a great deal.
Seeds of doubt cannot be planted in grateful soil.  Seeds of worry, anxiety, fear, anger, envy, impatience...any kind of negative seeds.
I love you all dearly.
love sister annalisa wilde
P.S.  Elder Anderson says HI to everyone.  He thinks I'm the coolest.