Monday, August 27, 2012

I'm in Bartlett Tennesse!!

Dear Family,
Life has been a whirlwind the past week.  Lots of changes.  I am now in Bartlett, Tennesse with not just one companion, but two!  Sister Yuen from Hawaii and Sister Bridgewater from Idaho Falls, Idaho.  They are wonderful girls.  We have a lot of fun together.  Amazingly enough, we have had absolutely no problems sharing our one bedroom, one bathroom apartment, no problems teaching, no personality clashes...nothing.  What a blessing.  Funny though, when we found out a transfer ago that there would be a trio of sisters soon because of the uneven number of sisters, Sister Gladden said to me, no joke, "If there would be one sister who could be sweet and easy to get along with and good in a trio, it would be you Sister Wilde".  She called it.  We both had a feeling I would be in the trio 6 weeks before it happened.  It's going well.  Bartlett is like this unearthly nice place..I keep looking for the ghetto, but they don't have one!  I never thought I would say this, but the other night I said to my companions, "It's weird to be in homes that are clean and nice and don't smell like smoke.  I think I feel more comfortable in houses that smell like smoke." hahaha.  It's kinda true though.  There are 2 wards here, and we are over both of them.  We are on a car share though, so that's kinda rough.  This past week has been walk week.  We would bike, but Sis Bridgewater hasn't riden a bike since she was 12- and even walking it into our apartment, she fell on the curb and scraped up her knee pretty bad. haha.  So we walk.  Which is good cause we found 8 new investigators in 4 days. :)  Another plus-when we first got to the apartment, there were only two beds.  So that night, I took the cushions off the couch and made a bed that looks like a Catholic cross.  Wasn't too bad, but we got a bed that next day and things are good.
On my first full day in Bartlett, President called me-and without taking a breath said, "Sister Wilde I have bad news for you your mother's father passed away".  He and Sis Petersen drove 2.5 hours to Bartlett so that he could give me a priesthood blessing.  This was very kind of them.  Apparently, he had found out a few days earlier and meant to tell me on Wednesday(transfer day) but we had gotten stuck in traffic, he was busy, and it completely slipped his mind.  As he visited with me on Thursday, he realized something.  He said he thinks that it was supposed to have happened that way, because if he had told me on Wednesday, he would have had no time to spend with me, let me talk to my dad, or give me a blessing.  He would have left me in a puddle on the floor.  This way, he had more time.  I'm grateful for that.  In the blessing I received, I was blessed with the love of Jesus Christ.  I feel that that was fulfilled in an experience I had on Saturday.
  On Saturday, we had the opportunity to attend the baptism of Rachel and Johnny Clemons. I don't know these children very well-I had never taught them, and had just barely met them. But as I looked at these beautiful kids, I felt overwhelmed with love. I loved them. Even thinking of them brings tears to my eyes. Witnessing that baptismal service was the most spiritual experience I have ever had. The speakers loved these children too. As the children were baptized, the sweetest reverance filled the room. I can't describe the feeling that I felt. It was a privilege to be there and feel that pure feeling. After Rachel was confirmed, she opened her eyes and silent tears streamed down her face. She is only 10 years old-but the look on her face showed that she understood the importance of the decision she made that day. She knew. It was a sacred experience.
I got to meet a very special man named Brother Lackey.  In our visit with him, two really cool things happened.  One.  He has the EXACT same remote that we used to have when we had our Mitsubishi TV.  The big long black one with the blue power button.  I know you guys will remember it.  I freaked.  I asked him if I could take a picture of it. haha.  I loved it.  Two.  Sis Bridgewater asked Bro Lackey if he liked chocolate cake.  He said yes.  She said, "well when you eat a bite of good chocolate cake, you don't have to eat the whole thing to know it's good, right?  Well that's how it is with reading the book of mormon".  A few days later, we went back to his house.  At the end of the lesson, Bro Lackey said, "Did you girls bring chocolate cake?"  "Umm no..but we have the Book of Mormon."  And then he told us that he made us chocolate cake!!  Who does that??!  It was the sweetest things I have ever seen.  I love Bro Lackey.
Gotta go but I love you all.
love sister wilde

Monday, August 20, 2012

Transfer is coming...

My dear family,
I think it's not a very good thing to know that you're getting transferred in advance because then it just becomes this dramatic thing.  I try not to be dramatic...but...let's just face it, I am.  So it's been hard the past few days saying goodbye to everyone.  Bishop called and asked me to speak because I wasn't going to be here too much longer.  That was nice of him to think of me.  My question is, why break up a good thing?  We were not the only ones who tried to get President to keep us together.  Bishop DeVaux and President Palmer both talked to President and said that our work here was not done and that he should keep us together.  Man, if you got the bishop AND the branch president putting in a word with President Petersen...I don't know how much higher on the "spiritual corporate ladder" you can get.  (One of the guys in our bishopric always jokes about how he's moving up on the spiritual corporate ladder haha).  But I guess it's really time for me to move.  In Sacrament meeting, I talked about the sacred experiences I had in that area/ward, and that what I think characterizes a sacred experience is when we are edified by the spirit. D&C 50:22.  Then I related it to the parable of the sower.  We always think of ourselves planting gospel seeds among our friends.  We see many times that the plant doesn't grow automatically.  It falls by the wayside, among stony places or thorns.  Rarely do we see it planted on good ground.  But what if, instead, we thought of Heavenly Father as the sower, planting seeds of opportunity in each of our lives.  Do we let those opportunities fall by the wayside or on stony places or thorns?  If we put ourselves in the right attitude of faith and hope, He will plant opportunities for us to share the gospel with those we love that we may then have sacred, edifying experiences.  Anyway..I'm not sure if I did my talk good, but I just hope they knew that I love them.
We got to do something cool last week.  We had zone conference on Wednesday.  A few days earlier, the assistants called and asked if we would instruct for 45 minutes.  What the?  We were surprised, but it was a fun opportunity.  We taught about how we can teach people, not lessons.  We focused on asking inspired questions, and then discerning by the spirit what doctrine we need to teach that will meet their needs.  We did this object lesson with balloons.  We put all the investigator's "needs and desires"  on different balloons.  We did 2 role plays.  The first one, we had the investigator throw all his needs at us, and we as the missionaries just completely ignored them all.  They were hitting us with the balloons, but we just kept on talking.  We compared this to all the times we go in and "teach" people, but don't listen to what they are really saying or what they need.  We did another role play where we asked questions to see what their needs were and then taught doctrine to help them.  It was a lot of fun. :)  It really is a true principle though- I have seen it in my life from Dad's example.  This is the way he talks with me.  Instead of dragging me to the "right answer", he listens, asks questions, and draws out of me the things I need to learn.  The lesson is in the learner.  This principle has helped me.
We got to see this sweet Samoan family the other night.  It's not the Kennach's, but the Loa's.  Something about the Samoan people is so sweet and pure.  Anyone who comes into their house, they feed and they love.  When we got into the house, only the father and two of the kids were downstairs.  As we began the lesson, they called all their kids to come together.  All these kids came out!  I couldn't believe it-I didn't know they had that many!  They just kept coming.  There were 7 all together I think.  At the end, Brother Loa asked if we could sing a hymn.  He wanted me to play the guitar.  I agreed, but told him he shouldn't expect too much because I don't really play the guitar.  He brought out this old suuper out of tune guitar and handed it to me.  I didn't think the strings would hold the tune, but they did. He said it had been in storage for a few months.  haha.  Well, it worked.  We sang Joseph Smith's First Prayer, and the night ended with the most beautiful spirit.  He told me that he would fly me back out to Arkansas when I got home from my mission so that I could teach his kids the piano. :)  He then asked for my home phone number so he could call and arrange it.  He wasn't kidding! What a sweet family.
Okay, one more.  A few days ago, we were in line for the drive through at Chick Fil A.  The line was pretty long.  As we were sitting there, this girl was trying to get out of her parking space.  There wasn't a lot of room, and we had to back up a little to make room for her.  The guy behind us backed us.  It was really nice of him.  A few minutes later, the exact same thing happened.  This guy behind us was being so nice!  By this time, we had gotten to the place where you order.  Sister Gladden said, "I dare you to get out of the car and give that guy a card".  I jumped out and went to talk to this guy.  I told him how we appreciated his kindness and wanted to give him a card.  He said he had met with missionaries before.  He didn't want us to come visit him, but he appreciated the gesture.  It was fun.
Well, we'll see where I go on Wednesday.  I'll let you know- so if you write to me, write to the mission home.  
905 Kierre Dr
North Little Rock, AR 72116
I love you all!!
love sister annalisa wilde  

Monday, August 13, 2012

Last days in Hot Springs

Dear Family,
So I'm on my 9th to last day in Hot Springs.  I will have been with Sister Gladden for 6 months (well, not including the MTC).  Isn't that crazy?  It's been a good run.  It will be hard to leave the area...but alas, I must.  
This weekend was a special one for our area.  We did this outreach program where all the missionaries from our zone came to Hot Springs and we all went on splits with the members to visit less active families to invite them to take the missionary lessons again.  The ward council made 25 different routes and we all went out on Saturday morning.  It was a special feeling.  I went out with Sister Nelson.  At the beginning she said, "I am scared.  I've never done this before".  I said, "Oh, don't be scared, it's not scary. You are going to be wonderful!"  When inside I was thinking about how I was scared too cause I'm not usually the leader, or haven't  been in our companionship for the last 6 months.  It went really well though!  Probably the best experience we had was trying to find Jeffery Lowery at 1008 Leach St.  I knew I would like him because he spells his name like my Daddy does.  Well there we were on leach street and there is no 1008 to be found.  They were all in the hundreds.  I suggested that maybe it was supposed to say 108.  We looked for that-but there was not a 108 either.  We ended up skipping to the next person on our route.  After that visit, I said, "Let's go try Leach St one more time."  As we drove down, we looked at every house.  We got to the end of the street where we saw a house that said 100 A.  Sister Nelson said, "I bet you anything that is the house".  We got out of the car and this way nice guy came out.  We talked to him for a minute and found out he was Jeffery Lowery.  He said, "Did my Grandpa call y'all?"  ""  "Really?  He told me he had given my address so that y'all could come visit me.  You know, that's funny that you came today because yesterday I was driving along and saw a woman at the side of the street with a flat tire.  I helped her change her tire and then she offered me money.  I wasn't doing it for the money, I just wanted to help her.  Then y'all show up today!  What a coincidence!"  "Wow, that's crazy!" I said.  I didn't see how it connected..but the important thing was that he did.  It was meaningful to him.  He said, "It just shows you that when you do good things then good things happen to you."  He said he needed Jesus in his life and wanted to get back to church but that it was harder than we thought.  I understand that.  
Last night we had a special devotional for the Hot Springs community titled, "Because you asked...We Believe in Christ".  It was for them to learn about what our basic beliefs are.  The stake president and his wife were the keynote speakers.  They talked about what every mother wants her children and grandchildren to know, and how the Book of Mormon supports the Bible.  I can't describe the feeling I had when I sat in that meeting.  Something about knowing that Christians of different denominations were there together with us, sharing in our devotion to the Savior.  As I listened to the messages, I knew more than I had before that the Book of Mormon is true.  It miraculously came forth in our day for our day.  The prophets in that book clearly and boldly testify that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and redeemer.  This is an eternal truth that we can come to know more deeply as we seek to live our lives for Him.  President Petersen always says that I shouldn't be on my mission for any other reason than that I love my Savior.  Not for friends, not for me, but for Him.  I am coming to know that more than I did before.  After the meeting, there was a beautiful display of pictures of Christ.  So many people came!  Something especially wonderful was that Valerie's mom (who is deaf) came.  Valerie was home with a sick child. This is significant because she and the other members of Valerie's family have been hesitant about Valerie going to church. They have heard a lot of anti from their pastor and were unclear on a lot of the things we believe. Her mom brought an interpreter with her to the devotional. As we sang "I Believe in Christ" I looked over to see them signing the words. The spirit touched me in a special way to see that beautiful expression of love for their Savior.
I love you all. 
love sister wilde

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tornado in Hot Springs

Dearest Family,
We had a bomb week.  I wonder if any of you heard about the tornado in Hot Springs yesterday.  We really had one!  It was downtown and it knocked over trees onto power lines and there was a huge hole in one of the hotels.  Funniest part was that we didn't even hear about it til after. :)  Were you worried? We were in the nursing home playing dominoes with Charlie and Margaret the whole time.  A lot of people lost power for a few hours but everything ended up being fine.  I don't think anyone really got hurt.  So you don't even need to worry after the fact. 
This coming sunday, we are having a devotional that the whole community is invited to where we share about our basic beliefs.  A lot of people think that we don't believe in Christ.  The title of this devotional is "Because you asked..We Believe in Christ".  Our stake president and his wife are the keynote speakers.  Afterward there will be an exhibit with pictures of Christ displayed.  They had the same devotional in Little Rock last month and it was a huge success.  We are excited about it.  Yesterday at dominoes we invited Charlie to come.  Now.  Here's a little background.  Charlie doesn't believe in God, but a higher power or force greater than us.  He respects us and our religion because he says we aren't hypocrites, though.  Anyway, we invited him to the devotional.  He basically said thanks for the offer but no thanks.  Now.  Here's a little background on his wife.  She works for Bishop Hugentobler as his secretary.  Okay, so after dominoes, Charlie called us and said, "Hey, about that devotional ath the church...My wife is going, so I will probably be there".  Hahaha.  The power of a wife I guess..
We had two baptisms on Saturday!  Tiffany's daughter Cheyenna Williams and Antwon's son Marrion Amos.  I think these baptisms are the beginning of a miracle for the two families.  I really liked the baptism because it reminded me of the talk that Boyd K. Packer gave last conference "A Little Child Shall Lead Them".  They are the sweetest kids who recognized truth-even when people were pulling against them.  For Cheyenna, it was her own mom.  Tiffany has gotten antied and was about to tell Cheyenna she couldn't get baptized because her aunt told her she was joining a cult.  A few weeks ago Tiffany asked Cheyenna what baptism meant to her.  She keep in mind that this is a 10 year old talking..."It's being re-born.  Starting a new life and following Christ. It means to repent".  I was blown away then, but didn't realize the significance of it until after Cheyenna's baptism.  We were talking with Tiffany at the DeVaux's house and she was relaying that story.  When she got to the part about Cheyenna's answer, she said, "When I heard that, I said to myself, okay, she's getting baptized.  I can't keep her from what she knows in her heart".  That was what changed her mind.  Since then, she has been able to step back and see that baptism is still what she wants.  She wants to be part of this church because she knows it's true.  She also told us a cute story from the night before Cheyenna's baptism.  Cheyenna said, "If people come up to me and try to tell me that my religion is wrong, I'll tell them that I don't wanna be right". :)  Child like faith.
We have been going over to Antwon's every day this past week to get Marrion ready for baptism.  It seems that every time we come over, there are more kids than the time before.  We have really grown to love them, and I think they might like us a little bit too.  Last time we left I said, "Sister, I think we have a fan club".  They always want to wear our tags and look through our scriptures, and best of all, sing hymns with us.  Once we taught them "I am a Child of God".  Last week when we were over there, I was touched to find out that they had looked up the song on the internet nd learned all the words.  We all sang it together, and even 4 yr old Bubbie (he's named after his dad Antwon but we call him Bubbie) knew the words. I felt the spirit.  Nothing could have made me happier than to know that those kids can feel and know that Heavenly Father loves them when they sing that song.  Bubbie makes it into an R&B style song, switchin up the rhythms and stuff.  It's funny.  5 yr old Amir was talkin to Antwon about baptism and said, "Daddy, I want you to baptize me".  Antwon said, "Naw naw, I can't baptize you.."  I said, "Yeah, but when he gets the priesthood he can.  By the time you're 8 Amir, your daddy can baptize you".  She said, "Good, cause I want my daddy to baptize me".  I can't wait for that to happen.
Craziest thing happened.  The elders were teaching a girl named Danielle a few months ago, but then she went through all this crazy stuff and none of us saw her for a few months.  She loves the gospel though, and has wanted to be baptized for a long time.  She has just barely been back in touch with us and we have begun teaching her again.  The other day she texted us and said that she just found out that we know one of her best friends Antwon.  Our Antwon!!  They have been friends ever since she moved here a few years was awesome.  Apparently they hung out the other night and they were sittin around talkin about their favorite books in the Book of Mormon.  Her's is Alma and his is Nephi.  So great.
I have realized that Heavenly Father lets me have little piano times every so often.  I have gotten to play in zone conferences, at people's houses, at the nursing home..remember when I went and recorded a song for Sis DeLong's preschool program at the baptist church?  Well I also recorded a Janie Kapp Perry song that they were using at girls camp.  I recorded the piano part and then went up in the studio and sang the words with it.  I thought it was just a practice CD.  Come to find out yesterday, they used it for the real thing at girls camp last week.  Haha..I was a little embarrassed to find out that my voice was blasting for the whole stake to hear because I feel like it wasn't a very good recording, but it was still really cool cause I got to help them.  The girls had a marvelous experience.  I really think that girls camp is inspired of the Lord because it is truly a place where testimonies grow.  I have sacred memories of girls camp and the way the spirit touched my heart while I was there.  I grow increasingly grateful for the leaders I had who helped me.  Because of them and my family, I was able to testify to Antwon that I know that if he makes family prayer and scripture study a daily habit, great things will come to pass.  I wouldn't be on a mission if it wasn't for small and consistent efforts of those who loved me enough to teach me the gospel.
I love you all.  God is real and Jesus Christ is real.
love sister annalisa wilde