Sunday, December 15, 2013

Birthday!! December 9, 2013 email

I had a great birthday! And I actually got your birthday package on Monday so I was DYING all week - but more on that later.
This week was really good! It was time for exchanges with the STLs again. I stayed here in 5th ward with Sister Jones and, once again, learned a lot from her. Oh, and here's a fun tale: So, Sister Keihle is the assigned driver, so I haven't driven this transfer. When Sister Keihle was gone, I got to drive. Guess what happened on Wednesday, when we had exchanges? We got somewhere between 6 to 8 inches of snow. Yippee!! I hate driving in snow, but it must be done. I didn't wreck anything or hurt anyone, so we're all good here.

This week we re-put our investigator Debbie on date for this Saturday! She's getting baptized! We're so excited for her. We also put Joyce on date for January 4th. Joyce is a little nervous and isn't sure if she'll be ready by then... She's going to be SO READY! Joyce is easily the most prepared investigator I have ever met. I taught her with Sister Jones on Wednesday, and after we left Sister Jones told me that Joyce was the most golden investigator ever. I love her so much, and not just for that. Joyce has such a desire to learn. She has said that she had been looking for a home and that she thinks she's found it. Oh the joy!!!

Sister Keihle and I taught the HARDEST lesson of our lives on Thursday. It was to this couple who were asking us these deep, doctrinal questions. They were mostly about the nature of the Godhead and the premortal life. oh boy. We were not smart enough to adequately answer them. Brother Groves, our ward mission leader, said that we should take him to our next lesson with them. (Brother Groves is a lawyer... and you can tell. Hahaha.)

So, my birthday was on Friday. Sister Keihle made me pancakes for breakfast, the singles ward sisters took me out for lunch (at this sandwich restaurant called Which Wich?, which is really good!), we did service, and we had our ward Christmas party! Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling too well on that day and was really tired. I asked the elders to give me a blessing. It was really great and I really, really appreciated it. I also realized that that was only the 2nd time in my life I've gotten a blessing of healing. Sadly, on Saturday I had to spend the day in bed. I had a case of stomach flu and I really wasn't able to do much. Which is the WORST as a missionary because all you want to do is work!! But I recovered pretty swiftly and was totally ready for church on Sunday (after seeking some much-needed "mom advice" from Sister Rasmussen, one of our ward missionaries").

Thank you so much for all the love you sent me for my birthday! It was a great day and a great week! By next Monday I'll be able to tell you if I'm staying or being transferred! Stay tuned!
Love you!!!!

Love, Sister Noakes

So, like I mentioned - lot of snow Tuesday night. A little more fell on Saturday night as well. This is apparently very un-Grand Junction like, but oh well. I haven't fallen on ice, at least not yet.

Oh, so funny quote of the week: at the ward Christmas party we sat with the Steeles (that's Brittanie's family, who we had Sister Keihle's birthday dinner with? Yeah? Okay). As they were leaving Sister Keihle mentioned that it was my birthday, and Sister Steele goes "What, it's your birthday? We could have fed you raw chicken!" I laughed a lot.

Birthday pictures! I didn't get to make the brownies you sent yet, but Sister Cope and Sister Joslin brought over that brownie with the candle in the morning, and I blew out the candle that night. Haven't eaten the brownies yet since I hadn't been feeling too great. Hahahaha. (Please ignore how huge my forehead looks in that one picture....)

Birthday banner and birthday girl (20!)

Birthday brownie! (Thanks Sister "J" and Sister "C"!)

No birthday's complete without a Princess crown for Princess Sarah!

Sister Noakes and Sister "C"

Sister Noakes and Sister "J"

ONE DEGREE??!! Sigh ...

Thanksgiving in Grand Junction!!

Well look at my beautiful family!!!! (In response to a photo of us taken on Thanksgiving.)

I'm glad you guys had a good Thanksgiving, even with all the crazy stuff that happened. I'm sorry to hear about Uncle Jimmy, but we know where he is and that he is okay. Tell Grandma Noakes I love her and give her a hug for me?? I was going to write her this week anyways, but now I definitely will. And I am very impressed that Donald came! Good for him and you guys!

Okay, so about my Thanksgiving and then my week. Thanksgiving was really good! Of course I missed you guys, but I still had a good time and wasn't really homesick. Although there were no sweet potatoes served, sooooo I'm still a little hurt about that one. But it's okay, I'll survive. Anyways, Thanksgiving was a no proselyting day, and it was weird to still be a missionary but to not be doing missionary things. In the morning us, the single's ward sisters, and the 1st ward sisters went to the institute and made hashbrowns and pancakes. Tasty stuff. Then we went over to a church building in the other stake where a lot of the missionaries were playing soccer. Unfortunately we had been dressed in church clothes (missionary habit), so we weren't really up for playing. But we did play some ultimate frisbee! Then, Sister Keihle and I went to our dinner. The couple is an older couple in the ward, but some of their kids and grandkids were there. One of their daughters who was there was even named Paula! We had a really good dinner and we also played Farkle. It was great! Later in the evening we went over to a member's house for pie. The Rasmussens are the greatest family! There's 5 boys but one is on his mission. Being with all of them was honestly kind of like being around the cousins, so I felt right at home. Then we had a sister meeting at the institute where we played games, and that was our Thanksgiving! It was fun, but like I said, weird to be a missionary but to have a whole day of not doing missionary work.

The rest of the week has been pretty good! Okay well we'll start with the bad news. Sister Keihle and I were supposed to have a baptism this Saturday, but it was contingent upon that investigator attending church yesterday. Guess who wasn't at church yesterday? Debbie :( but it's okay, it will all work out in the Lord's time and in His way. We are just trying to get in touch with her, because no one really has been able to. Prayers please! But good news about Debbie: she passed her baptismal interview! And President Murdock said she was one of the most prepared people he's interviewed! The credit totally can't go to us - it has to go to the Fruita sisters who taught her before she moved into our area. And, of course, Heavenly Father.

Okay on with more good news! Our investigator Joyce came to church yesterday and she loved it again! Sister Keihle and I basically barely talk to Joyce at church, and that's the way it should be. Joyce even set up her own member present lesson on Wednesday. SO AMAZING. We were also able to start teaching the 3 daughters of one of our other investigators, Tia. Tia already knows a TON about the structure of the church in terms of wards and stakes and all sorts of stuff about Relief Society, but she just doesn't know about the GOSPEL aspect of it. We're working on it. We also managed to find a new investigator yesterday, which is a miracle on Sundays. His name is Derek and we were sent to his house as a referral from our elders to try and see his wife/girlfriend/we don't know, Niki. Well, we talked to Derek outside yesterday and Sister Keihle decided to be bold about the Book of Mormon. This was a suggestion from Brittanie, a young woman in our ward who recently returned from her mission to London. After Sister Keihle brought it up, he said, "Well, if you have one, I'll read it." !!!! So we gave him one and he said we could come back next week! So awesome. So, as I said, this week was pretty great! I hope you all had a great one too. Love you!!!

Love, Sister Noakes

Sister "J"
Sister "C" and Sister Noakes
Yummy breakfast!! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

November 25, 2013

Another great week in Grand Junction!

We have 2 new investigators, which brings our teaching pool up to a grand total of 3! One we found because we were tracting in some condos and found a member who is from Utah. She was having an investigator from Fruita move into her condo with her. This investigator, Debbie, is on baptismal date for December 7th, and it looks like she will be baptized on that day. This is a huge miracle! President Murdock had challenged all the companionships in the mission to have one baptism by the end of this transfer (Dec. 16th), and Sister Keihle and I weren't sure how we were going to accomplish that since we just opened the area and started with nothing. We just decided to work hard, be obedient, and see what happened. Voila, miracles!! Our other investigator is Joyce. She was a referral from 1st ward. She's been reading the Book of Mormon and she really likes it. She accepted the invitation to be baptized if she finds what she is reading to be true! Best part? Both Debbie and Joyce were at church on Sunday!! Our other investigator, Tia, was planning on coming with her family, but some last minute plans shook things up and she couldn't be there. That's okay, she'll come next week. We're really excited about her and her family, and we hope to be able to see all of them at once and teach them.

So this Thursday was Sister Keihle's birthday, and dinner was a fun one! We had dinner with the Steele family. Their daughter, Brittanie, just got home from the England London mission (be still my heart), and she's come out with us a couple of times. When she found out we didn't have dinner on Thursday, she informed her family so we went over there. Oh my goodness gracious, probably the most memorable dinner yet! We showed up and Brittanie was the only one at home. There was a delicious looking chicken dish sitting on the counter, a cake, a happy birthday banner, but just 3 of us. We decided to start eating, figuring her mom and brother would show up shortly. Right after we prayed they did. Brittanie cut into a small piece of chicken, but it didn't look really cooked. Sister Steele ate a bite and said it was okay. Well, I cut into a different piece and it was raw. The Steeles weren't trying to kill us, but they had moved while Brittanie was gone and she apparently didn't know how to work the oven! It was hilarious. So we had spaghetti, and we had spaghetti sauce. Well, Brittanie was getting more salad and instead of pouring dressing on it... she pours spaghetti sauce all over it. She realized halfway through what she was doing and we all DIED laughing. It was a super fun dinner and very memorable. They had also made a chocolate cake and gotten mint chocolate chip ice cream, since that's Sister Keihle's favorite. It was fun!

Oh, another thing: Sister Keihle and I both spoke in church yesterday, along with Brittanie. I think I did alright. It's a little scary to have to give a talk when you have 2 investigators at church. Hahahaha. But it was all good.

This week is Thanksgiving! Can't wait!

Love you all!!!!

I had asked how many times she was being fed on Thanksgiving; sometimes missionaries go to two or three homes, depending on where they're at. I also asked about the talk she gave in church the previous week. Here's what she said:

Well, President asked us to try to get invited as many places as possible, but people have been asking if we're being fed and we don't want to lie and say no, so when we say yes we don't necessarily get invited. Hahaha. But an older couple is feeding us, but their kids will all be there. Should be fun!! I wrote my talk in my study journal, sooo I can't send it home. Sorry! It was about developing, nurturing, and strengthening our testimonies.

Sisters Noakes and Keihle
Grand Junction Sunset
Snow! Beautiful snow!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

November 18, 2013 -- Elder Ballard, Stake Conference

Our conference was incredible! It is a privilege to be in the presence of one who is called of God to be a special witness of His Son, Jesus Christ. Elder Ballard talked during the Saturday evening session about the hastening of the work, and it sounds a lot like he talked about similar things during your Sunday session. On Sunday he talked about becoming better by doing those small and simple things - studying the scriptures, praying, etc. He said "If you members would do the basics, then we could worry about where Kolob is." (Talking about why, during general conference, it seems like we hear the same basic doctrine over and over again.) He talked about how we need to live our lives for spiritual experiences, constantly reaffirming and growing our testimony through spiritual experiences, seeking spiritual growth. He talked about the Gospel appealing to some logically, but for it to truly become a converting force it must also appeal to their heart, and how we can help those who have wandered return by giving them spiritual experiences.

After the Sunday session of stake conference, all of the missionaries went into the Relief Society room to have him speak with us for a few minutes. I was in the front row, and while I didn't get to shake his hand, I got to look into his eyes. When Elder Ballard walked into the room and each time he looked at me, I felt the Spirit strongly and undeniably confirm to me that he is a man of God, that he is a witness of Christ, and that he holds great power and authority. What a privilege and an honor to be so close to one who is so called of God!

Oh, another thing: indirectly, Elder Ballard knows dad's conversion story. Let me tell you why. On our second night here in 5th ward, Sister Keihle and I went and visited Sister Rock, who is one of the ward missionaries here. Her husband, President Rock, is in the stake presidency. They were asking about our families and President Rock asked if we came from convert families or what, and so I told him about Dad and how he was asked by Brother Perry to take the discussions and all of that. After I finished, President Rock thought for a moment and then said "Can I use that in a talk?" I was a little taken aback but said "Sure!", and he did! He started it and I was just amazed. His talk was about not judging others based on if they're ready for the gospel or not, just ask, even if they've been asked before. And at the end of the story, he said "And this man's daughter is now serving a mission, and I don't know if she's here tonight, but she was recently transferred into our ward, and her name is Sister Noakes." So yeah, that's something that happened in my life this week. An apostle knows my dad's conversion story.

The rest of this week was pretty great! We now have one investigator! Pretty awesome. We also have appointments set up with 3 potential investigators this week, and one of them is SUPER promising. We see miracles happen as we work hard. The 1st ward elders gave us a referral for this solid potential, and she has been reading the Book of Mormon, is dating an LDS guy, loves what she's learned and wants to learn more. So exciting! Sister Keihle and I also tracted into a member from Utah, in a condo. Well, she's having an investigator who's on baptismal date move in with her next week! I can hardly believe the blessings that come from my loving Heavenly Father, but that's what happens when you "forget [your]self, and give it all to Him." We're excited for this upcoming week. I love this ward, and I'm having fun!

I love you guys!!!!!!

Photos followed ...
First is me and the Gyllings! Well, most of them. Brother Gylling is a ward missionary and Sister Gylling is just awesome. She has 3 daughters (one, obviously, not pictured) and one on the way!

The other is me and Melanie and Sondra :) I saw Melanie on Saturday at stake conference! She was excited to find out that I was still in GJ.

First is the 1st ward missionaries of last transfer. My face is dumb and I'm laughing at the distance between me and Elder Jacobson. Missionary life.

The second is our district last transfer. The beloved Grand Junction East district. From left to right, Sister Masima, Elder Rollins, me, Elder Austin, Sister Cope, Elder Jacobson, Sister Joslin, and Elder Mortenson. Elder Rollins and Elder Mortenson were our zone leaders, but Elder Mortenson got transferred to Denver and so our new ZL is Elder Jessee.

The last picture is Elder Jessee, wearing high heels post hymn festival yesterday. It was pretty hilarious.