Monday, May 25, 2015

(Fiesta con la rama en espanol)

Bike week again. Wooohoooo. We got some good sunburns and sore buns. (garment rashes are real) Daniela keeps teasing us that she is going to give us some of Elizabeth’s diaper cream haha. We hate bike week but get the best laughs out of bike week....Lewis totally fell off her bike this week and her Books of Mormon in her basket fell out on the road (30 pounds!). I about peed my pants hahaha. Her pride was hurtin’ pretty bad.
Elizabeth (my favorite nina!)

Grace went to the temple this week. Ahh so cool! She was able to take 10 family names with her to do baptsims! We were so stoked about that! 
Grace went to the Memphis temple to do baptisms this week. 

We also set 2 dates for June! 

We were on our bikes, and our appointments fell through so we had an hour before dinner to fill in our time. We decided to pull over on the side of the road and say a prayer. We asked for someone that we could teach or an idea to come to mind of how we could fill our time wisely. Not 5 minutes after this prayer we ran into April and her 3 little girls. We found out she is a minister and has talked with missionaries before but wanted us to come back and to teach her more! Yay! Heavenly Father’s hands are in our work every second of the day. He aligns everything perfectly. Every bad thing that happens or disappointment or whatever it is leads to us being in the right spot, with the right family/person, at the right time, teaching the right lessons. It's absolutely incredible. 

Most the things we do out here are small. We don't always see big miracles or big life changing experiences. Which is sometimes hard because obviously all missionaries want to know that they are making a difference and all these long hard days are worth the time.  But recently I've been noticing that there are so many little small tender mercies or miracles every day. One that was super cool:

Paul & Daysha. They are just really struggling. Lots of things that I don't want to share on here but they've hit rock bottom. And the other day we stopped by to see them and before we left Daysha told us that since we've been talking with them they have seen a change in their lives. They have hope they have a want to change their lives for the better. They want better for their families and they see blessings in their lives now. What’s even cooler is that change is not coming because of me. It’s because of the gospel that I have. The gospel is absolutely perfect and changes lives. It’s so small, but it’s the happiest feeling in the world knowing that because of the gospel I bring to others it is changing their lives and making them happier. 
Diamond (Paul and Daysha's daughter)

Small and simple things=great things, verdad(truth)?

Don't worry y’all I'm staying real busy. Language is coming. Work is moving forward.  Read your scriptures and say your prayers. Helaman 15:6
We had to order an Arabic BOM for a memeber.  I am eternally grateful for the Spanish language. I can't imagine learning a language that looks like a toddler scribbles. =/
Teaching the ninos noche de hogar (family home evening)
Picnic with the Carnathans!
P-Day adventures. This is the prettiest trail!
 Spanish Fiesta!
Thank you Zolei for the picture!

Wanna hear the BEST NEWS EVER? Sister Lewis and I are staying in Russellville together!! Ahhh Yay! But scariest thing happened...last night we had a missed call from the AP's (Assistant to the Pres) and we were sick. We thought that they were going to transfer us. Usually transfer calls are Sunday mornings so we thought we were safe but President can always change his mind. So we called back SOO scared and sad, but turns out they are opening a new area near us and the sisters that are assigned there need  a place to stay so we are going to pick them up Wednesday at transfers in Little Rock and bring them back with us for a while! Sleepover!! ;) I wish y'all could have seen us celebrate when we found out we weren't getting transferred. ha ha  Heavenly Father knows we need to be here! And I couldn't agree more because the work is going so well!

First off we have been visiting with a less active member, Julia, for only a week now, and we invited her to come back to church with us. She agreed and came yesterday and everything went so perfect! She loved it! She's been a member her whole life, she just didn't know anyone and was afraid to come so once we introduced her to the ward she loved it! It feels so good to reactive =) And also we brought Daniella with us to teach her (Daniellas first time teaching) And we had her share her testimony about how the church has changed her life since she's been baptized (it’s only been a month), it was so sweet! And afterwards she kept telling us "I feel so happy, I have so much joy right now" We told her that’s what happens when we share the gospel and bare our testimonies! It's so cool to see how far they have come in just a month. WE LOVE HER SO MUCH. Daniella and her husband want to get sealed in the Salt Lake temple next year! Woot Woot! 

Funny story, we went to the rest home last night of course, and I was talking to Danny. We were having a good conversation about Jesus and all of a sudden he just bursts into song. Ha ha  I'm not sure what the song was and he couldn't remember either but I just sat there with a big ole cheesy grin on my face and listened to him sing to me. We love the rest home.
Janie painting our nails!
 We were teaching Ricardo yesterday, first lesson with him, at first it was rough. He thought all churches were true, which it’s always hard to explain that one, without offending, especially in Spanish. But Sister Lewis recited the First Vision to him and INSTANTLY the spirit was so strong. He just zeroed in on our lesson and everything after that point went so well! He wants us to go back next weekend when all his family is there and to teach them too! How cool? Joseph Smith is a prophet and EVERYTHING he said happened, I know that without a doubt. 

We skyped with a man from Jordan (idk spelling, the place next to Iran) this week. Pretty crazy.

I've never been so excited to study the scriptures before in my life. After personal study we share with each other the things we are learning and we just get so pumped. hahaha I can't believe it’s taken me so long to realize how cool the Book of Mormon is. EVERYTHING applies to our lives and stories are so cool! I wish I could go back to 16 year old Taylor and tell her that she’s dumb for not taking scripture reading seriously, she was really missing out. 

I started reading Our Search For Happiness this week and its incredibly good. I'd invite y’all to read it if you get the chance. 

I love y’all. Have a good week! 

 Sport's Night!
Last District meeting all together. Dyrich (tall one) goes home tomorrow 

Monday, May 11, 2015

My first baptism! Grace wanted us to go back to the font with her so we got to watch her be baptized right next to the font. It was so cool! I cried! The spirit was so strong it felt like we were in the temple.

Carting pitchers of water for the font...haha!
 I didn't realize that the missionaries do everything for the baptisms; set up, the program, fill the font, everything! We showed up early to fill up the font. It usually takes about 2 hours to fill. We started it and then went to Subway for lunch while it filled up. While we were gone, a member saw it and thought it was supposed to be draining and so he turned it off and pulled the plug to drain it. So when we got back it was only about one fourth of the way filled up. We only had 40 minutes until the baptism so we had to fill up pitchers from the kitchen and go back and forth to the font to dump them in so it would be filled up in time!

Diamond and uhh they call him Fat thats what we call him too..haha
We have been teaching a family and we invited them to come to church. They wanted to, but had just had their power shut off so there was no way for them to get cleaned up to go. We weren't going to take no for an answer! So the mom, Dasha and her little girl, Diamond showered at Katie's house and came with us to church!

The Elders found our tombstone referral. hahaha
They called us asking for directions and we were lucky enough to be in the same area as they were so we parked our car and hid and actually got to watch them find it! hahaha! We were absolutely dying! I have some fun videos I wish I could send. One day y'all can see them. 

P-Day festivities last week. Katie took us fishing!

 One of the Elders caught a catfish
Camo cake!
 Last night was the worst storm I have ever seen. Our alarm kept going off and it was supposedly 60 mph winds. The lighting and rain and thunder were so loud it took me hours to fall asleep. There were flash flood and tornado warnings. I was legit scared at some point because it sounded so scary outside. One of the electrical wire poles broke and a whole area lost power, luckily we didn't. It was so scary. Storms here are absolutely crazy!
I love y'all!
*We got to skype with Sister Moore yesterday for Mother's Day and it was so fun to see her smiling face and hear her cute voice. She even spoke to her dad in Spanish for a little while! (I may or may not have teared up with pride a little when I heard that!) She is doing so great! She loves Arkansas! She loves her companion! She loves her friends (Katie for one)! She loves being a missionary! It is so fun watching my little girl grow into such an amazing person! She is having so many awesome experiences. She told us that she was proposed to by an intoxicated man, she teaches people while they are high on drugs, and she has survived crazy weather. But she assures me that she feels safe! And I know she is watched over and protected. Couldn't be prouder! -Ashley

Monday, May 4, 2015

So remember how last week wasn't super great? Well it doesn't even matter because this week was FANTASTIC! There weren't enough hours in the day for us because we were having so much fun and found so much success this week! Gotta get through the bad weeks to get to the good ones, right? We were definitely tested a lot last week but it was all worth it to have a week like this one.

This week we went and got Sushi at this place called Sumo's. (When it’s the end of the month we go blow up our MSF cards  before they renew) And during our meal Taylor Swift and John Mayor songs kept coming on. #BLESSED
Octavious & Galacious: They are brothers, mid 20's. Galacious has a wife and 3 kids. They constantly remind us that they are "straight from the hood" haha I may have mentioned them before but we saw them outside playing basketball and went over and started playing with them a few weeks ago and anyway we ended up back at their house and taught them The Restoration and they wanted us back again and we taught them the Plan of Salvation. They have lots of questions, and also have lots of energy so we tend to get off subject but they really like everything they are hearing and are praying and reading the Book of Mormon! Both Lewis and I feel like they are part of the reason we are here in Russellville. But the coolest part about all of this: At the end of our Plan of Salvation lesson we had them watch the “Because He Lives” video (if y’all haven't seen it yet go watch it) It's only two minutes but so dang powerful! By the end of the video the spirit was so strong in that home. Their faces changed, they were quiet (which they never are), and honestly were a little uncomfortable because they hadn't felt the spirit like that before. They loved the video but it was cool watching them react to the spirit. I truly felt like that was the first time we left someone in AWE (remember this goal I set for myself?). We plan to go back and teach more this week. And we text them scriptures to go look up and stuff. And they coach 12 year old basketball and want us to go to one of their practices soon and play with them! Fun side note: They also fed us Kool-Aid during our lessons (don't worry it isn't spiked, we asked haha). 

The elders gave us some referrals this week so we went to check them out and both times weren't able to find their houses! We aren't sure if they are just messing with us or just gave us the wrong address but we were so tired of driving all over the place to find these referrals and we wanted to get back at them, so we found a street sign above a tombstone in the cemetery and gave them that address and the name on the tombstone. hahaha They were all excited to have a referral and we can't wait for them to go look for it =) 

Last night after a looooong Sunday, (seriously Sundays are so exhausting, we had ward council at 8:30 and don't leave the church till 2:30, and between running around and trying to understand lessons in Spanish and fasting we leave church with headaches and droopy eyes. Don't get me wrong we still LOVE coming to church and the members are so great here, it’s just stressful. And once church ends our day is just beginning and we go straight to our other appointments and proselyting. Sunday naps are no more =(. ) So by the end of Sunday night we were exhausted. We had one hour left until we had to be in and we weren't sure what to do, since we don't have time to study in the mornings on Sundays we thought about just staying in and studying. We had ran into a family last week and gave them a card, they live like 2 blocks away so we agreed that we'd just walk over there and see if they were home and we could chat with them. They were all outside (couple and their little girl and friends) and hollered at us to come chat. She was super welcoming to us and told us she still had the card we left her. She went on to say that her husband’s dad had died the night before and that he had been inside all day really upset. We gave them a picture of Christ and talked about receiving strength through His Atonement. They all really appreciated our words and the picture. We all held hands and said a prayer and by the end the lady was just bawling. She told us that we were her angels tonight and that she was so grateful that we came to her house. We left feeling so grateful because we had no idea that family was going through a hard time, the spirit puts little thoughts in our heads and leads us to people who need us. Church is true ya know? Our Heavenly Father is looking out for all of us. 

Helaman 4:13 "because of their boasting in their own strength they were left in their own strength."  I love this. Pretty straight forward. If you aren't going to let the Lord strengthen you than you get to depend on your own strength. And I dunno about y'all but I'm not as strong as God is. 

We hear this a lot- "Girls I really like what you’re saying but I've gone too far to ever repent and turn back to God" But that’s the thing that is absolutely beautiful about our gospel, we have never gone so far that we can't come back. Jacob 6:5...”His arm is always extended towards us.” This gospel is all about second chances and clean slates. 

And I'm going to leave y'all with a "Will you" commitment because that’s what we missionaries do best.   Will you...Go watch or read "The First GreatCommandment" by Jeffrey R Holland. It was given a few years ago but it's worth a rewatchin’ ;)

Love y’all

 We always look for an excuse to take a drive because it's so pretty!

 Our last visit with Earl (His is a recent convert and he just got put in a home.)
We love Janie! She is from the rest home. She is so dang cute!