Yay For Jacob!

Letter from August 29th, 2016

Dear Family,

Hey hey what’s good? I can tell you what’s good in Arizona,  Jacob got baptized!!!! It was most definitely  the highlight of our week.  I’ve never met an eleven year old so engaged and excited about the gospel. It’s cool! His whole family came to support him! And Debbie (mom) said she couldn’t stop crying. She loved the service and so did his brothers and sisters!  It was nice to get to know the rest of his family more and we invited them all to join us for Jacob’s new member lessons!  Crossing our fingers they will sit in.  We did our  ‘jumpsuit jam’ with him before the baptism to get him all pumped up.  It’s a cute little dance we do with investigators while they are in the jumpsuit and after we take pictures. Haha, he thought we were a little crazy but it’s a fun tradition.  His Sunday school teacher, Brother Finck, baptized him and another one of his teachers confirmed him.  Jacob was glowing the whole day and his confirmation the next day in sacrament meeting was beautiful.  We wrote it down for him so he could always have the blessing with him and show it to the rest of his family.  That kid is going to serve a mission.  He is already talking about it and about how excited he is to get the priesthood!  We love him!

Sister Waldron also got to see her first tarantula this week!  And this time the hairy dude was just chilling on our wall by the bathroom!  Not sure how it got in… It seems too big to fit through any cracks but somehow…there is was.  She totally freaked out it was so funny. And luckily we got Brother Bingham to come up and get it off the wall.  I can look at it and nudge them into a box but there was no way I would touch a wild one.  I’ve heard their bites hurt like crazy!

So to answer your questions about our service on the ranch, we actually found it through the website Justserve.org.  We are asked to aim for ten service hours a week.  So we volunteer there every Tuesday morning for a few hours.  The ranch is a horse rescue that is run completely by volunteers.  They have 51 horses right now.  And then they also have the cows. So we just do whatever work they have for us. Grooming, feeding, poopy duty, cleaning out sheds or bridles, and fixing fences.  We all love it!  And we love the horses!  It’s been fun to interact with the other volunteers too.  A lot of people don’t know much about LDS missionaries!  Service opens a lot of doors and helps us meet more people.  Sister Waldron and I also fill our service hours by volunteering at the food bank, working on post, and whatever else comes up during the week!  We have gotten some interesting compliments this week.  Elder Phippen, one of the senior missionaries, told us at zone conference that we were some of the most laid back missionaries he had ever seen and then just laughed at us when we asked if that was good or bad?!  Then Sister Falcon told us we were weird…but gung ho. Hmmm, compliment right?! Haha.   The Falcons are awesome. They have kind of adopted us as grandkids!  When ever we come over to teach them we never leave without some sort of food in our hands. They are such a fun couple to work with. They are returning  to church and working towards the temple!  

I got to speak in sacrament meeting. Again. Different ward this time though.  We both were asked to speak on missionary work.  The youth speaker and Sister Waldron took up enough time that I only had to talk for about five minutes, maybe less!  I promise I did prepare a talk but I think I used maybe three line from it!  By the way Mom- I totally used “cookie Friday” as an analogy for sharing the gospel and talked about how we have the cookies of eternal life and we need to share them with all our friends. What a great recipe we have! I did find a cool scripture while preparing and shared it as well.  The prophet Ezekiel prophesied, “Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?” (Ezek. 34:2.) we are the shepherds.  And we can ask ourselves- Do I as an active member of the Church stay so busy feeding myself in my Church classes, meetings, and activities that I am ignoring the rest of the flock?  So there is my plug on missionary work for the week😜  We also had to talk for about ten minutes at ward standards night.  We made the mistake of asking the Bishop if there was anything we could do for him Friday night at dinner. Just kidding,  we love doing stuff like that. We talked about modesty!  I actually appreciate modesty a lot more on my mission than I did before as a youth. So it was a good topic for us.

You asked about personal scripture study as a missionary.  It is one of my most favorite parts of the day!  I love it. One thing that helps with my study is as I read from my Book of Mormon,  I have my iPad open to Gospel Library and I have the Institute Study Manual pulled up.  It gives a lot of insight!  Try it out!

Here’s to another good week!  Love you all!  Sister Packer

Finding water in the dessert.

These roads are why we drive “Teancum” the mission truck!

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Jacob’s baptism

Moving our friends to greener pastures.  Sister Waldron, Elder Deyarmond, Elder Potter, Elder Jorgensen, Elder Jordan and me

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More furry friends, yuck!

Last week at opening ceremonies of Zone Olympics!

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Los Tres Milagros

Letter from August 15, 2016

Dear Fam,

It’s been an exciting week!  Monday was my last night with Sister Brooks and now she is home in Utah!  Our investigators, the Thackers, took us and our ward mission leader and his family (the Rawlings) out to dinner that night. It was so fun and a perfect way for Sister Brooks to end her time in Sierra vista.  She will be missed!  

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Dinner with the Thacker’s: Conner, Grandma, Laura, Jim, Brother Rawlings, Ryan, Maya, Sister Rawlings, Brooks, me, Jonny and Julie

But I got an awesome new companion to replace her!  Sister Waldron!  She is from Kaysville, Utah. She is super cute and a hard worker.  We are going to have a good time together.  So we had our trainer/trainee meeting Tuesday morning.  They assigned us our new babies and then President assigned them the challenge of inviting someone to be baptized by the end of the first week.  Sister Waldron was able to do this her first night out!!  

Meeting Sister Waldron

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We have been working with an 11 year old boy who had previously had a date but missed it.  Tuesday night we met him and had an awesome lesson about baptism.  After setting a date we had him give the closing prayer and he prayed that his family would get sealed in the temple too.  This sweet boy loves the gospel and wants his family to be together forever so bad!  We really believe his baptism could bring his family back to activity in the church.  I was so proud of Sister Waldron!  This week we were really lucky!  We got to set not just one date, but TWO. What da whaaaaa??  Saturday we had a lesson with the Thackers.  We had started the plan of salvation last time we went and planned on finishing it. Wow. She is prepared!  It was like she already knew everything!  Everything connected.  We talked about baptism and the steps we take to get to live with Heavenly Father all throughout the lesson. We invited her to be baptized. This was the cool part. She said she was ready, but wants to do it with her husband. Ahhhhh yay yay. Then she put the Book of Mormon she had open up to her face and began to cry! The spirit was so strong. She told us how her husband has been struggling and she really feels like this can help both of them.  We bore our testimonies to her that it would bless her family and their relationship and that by showing the Lord her commitment, he could further bless her.  I know she is going to be such a great example for her family.  And I know the Lord really does have people prepared to hear our message, we just gotta get out there and find them.  I’m excited to see how she progresses.  She has such strong faith!  

The most exciting part about setting a date with someone is knowing that they are about to make promises with the Lord and receive the protection of the Holy Ghost.  That protection is what guides us to Him!  I’ve been reading in the Book of Mormon in Third Nephi when Christ teaches the people.  Did you know he mentions about forty times in one chapter the word “baptism”??  It’s so important.  We need baptism to qualify us for the Holy Ghost, which then allows us to return to him.  I’m so grateful to have that in my life. 

Along with those two, we had another crazy miracle!  These things must come in three’s. So we went out to an appointment and when we got there they told us they were super busy and cancelled.  For some reason we both had a feeling that would happen.  And we knew exactly where we needed to go.  We sped off to our recent convert’s house who hasn’t had any contact with us in six weeks!  She hasn’t come to church since May!  But right as we pulled up, she and her daughter came walking out of the house to leave.  It was PERFECT timing.  We met her and talked with her awhile.  She didn’t let us set up a time to come back or even say she would come to church, but we were able to make contact with her and remind her how much we love her.  God was definitely guiding us that night.  Here is the best part, he wasn’t done guiding us after we left.  The adventure continued!  We went off to a potential investigator’s house we had met two days earlier.  We knocked and talked with the mom a bit.  She was clearly not interested as she had her own faith.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt more persistent at a doorstep before; I just felt like we couldn’t let her close the door.  Her fourteen year old daughter also came to the door and as we talked she said she wasn’t really sure what she believed in.  Then suddenly, WE GOT IN THE DOOR.  It was crazy.  She opened up to us, we stepped in and just kinda stared at each other like, “did that really happen?”  We had an awesome first lesson and by the end of it, the mom said we could come back next week!  And she even asked about our church services!😱😱😱😱  

We have just had an exciting week. I think there were some really great experiences for Sister Waldron’s first week!  Here’s my “mission dog” story.  Everyone has one, right?  We went tracting and went into a yard with a ‘beware of dog’ sign.  But after shaking the gate and seeing no dog and hearing no dog,  we thought we were fine.  Long story short, we we’re chased out by the biggest and scariest German shepherd I have ever seen!  Another funny thing that happened was that shortly after that we met a woman who was a ‘fellow believer’ who said they (I don’t know who ‘they’ are) would be coming for us. Apparently ‘they’ are going to gather up all the believers, and get rid of us. Yep, and the homeless will be the first to go, she said.   Had we not noticed the shortage of homeless people already?? 

 I had a little bit of fun with my greenie.  The Bingham’s grandparents are living with them and the grandpa has his own area in the garage with a desk and stuff.  So I told her that a homeless man lived in our garage and she totally believed me.  I told her he was really nice and helped with the yard work sometimes.  She was so funny, every night making sure the door was locked so he wouldn’t come in.  Hahahaha, I finally told her about ten minutes ago and she laughed pretty hard😂,  don’t worry though, I’m being  nice to her.  That was my one prank.  She is a good missionary and so willing to work hard.  Keep her in your prayers!  One thing I’ve realized this week is that training is not as easy as I thought it would be.  Even though she is awesome, it’s still a bit stressful because I want to do things well.  But the Lord is blessing and strengthening us.  Thank you so much for your prayers.

Love you all fam, Sister Packer

This is our apartment… the whole thing!  It may be smaller than my dorm room at Utah state!

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The mission vehicle can get us through anything.

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Got Preggerzzz

Letter from August 8th, 2016

Hi Family,

We were in Tucson on Friday because Sister Brook’s had MLC.  While we were at the mission office she had her last “dying” interview and when they came out of President’s office, he asked if he could talk with me.  That made me nervous.  He asked me if I was ready (ready for what???) He asked me if I was ready to train?!  Guess what?!   I’m having a baby!!!!!  Hahaha, that’s the mission lingo – Ahhhh I’m so excited. I get to train a new missionary this next transfer.  Not gonna lie, I’m a little nervous too.  I’ve been fasting and praying that I will be able to help my new missionary and that I won’t mess up her childhood, hahaha.  So we have been really crazy busy today trying to get Sister Brooks all packed up and also to get the house ready for the new baby.  Which reminds me I need to send a video of our little attic!  I want you all to see some of the smallest housing in the mission.

Goodbye, Sister Brooks  

Okay so we had a little miracle last night. Sister Brooks and I decided we really wanted a new investigator. We made it a goal to find one before the end of the week and by Saturday we still hadn’t found one!  Sunday came and we still had nothing. So within every thirty minute intervals between appointments we were trying potentials or knocking on doors. It felt like everybody wanted to slam the door in our face or make some rude remark. Ouch. We had our last appointment for the night at seven and got out at eight. With thirty minutes left before the trainer conference call started, we tried two potentials.  Once again nothing. Hmmm, so now it’s 8:15.  Sister Brooks suggested we try another potential we had met two weeks ago but waved us away quite angrily.  Since she had been a referral we figured one more try couldn’t hurt.  We knocked, she answered, she invited us in and told us to preach to her. Boom, we had a new investigator. Ahhhhhh!!!  It was a freaking miracle! I know that when we set goals, Heavenly Father helps us to achieve them, especially when we do all that we can and pray for his help.  He really does care about each one of our concerns.  

… yes this is our mission car!

So we had a really good last week of the transfer.  M- and the girls came to church.  It was awesome.  Right before the third hour of church, Maria wanted to check on the girls and she asked them if they wanted to stay or go into primary.  They waved her away and said they were staying!  It has been pretty cool to see such young girls so open to the gospel and curious to learn more.  One of our other families is also progressing.  We went to the little boy’s birthday party and his dad told us how he only read one night and his wife read the other night and then he told us how he is going to make it hard for us.  Oh, if he only knew how easy he was making it by reading!   Well, have a good week.

Love you, Sister Packer

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Hottest District in the Mish!

I learned how to cut hair!

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Rescuing Horses & Jumping Through Puddles

Letter from August 1st, 2016

Hola familia,

It’s crazy that Jaces two years are up already. Don’t worry mom this next year will also fly by.  So it’s been a busy week and it kinda just felt like a normal week too.  Not much to report.  We have started doing some really fun service.  We are volunteering out at a horse rescue ranch!🐴🐴🐴   It’s so cool.  I think I am going to be a horse expert by the end of my time here in Sierra vista.  We get to feed them, groom them, and next week we will learn how to take care of crap… 💩, literally!  This week Sister Brook’s and I learned the grooming from head to toe and then how to saddle and bridle them.  It wasn’t bad but it did make me nervous to clean their hoofs.  It’s freaky to be that close to a huge normal that could kill you.  My favorite horses name is Sundae- he is gorgeous.   I will have to take my iPad this week so I can send you pics, it’s a beautiful place.

We got two new investigators this week!  Brother Rawlings, our ward mission leader in the Hereford ward, told us a few weeks ago to visit a family they have been friends with.  The grandpa is inactive and none of his family are members but the 8 year old boy goes to scouts so they know a little about the church.  Anyway, we had a lesson with them this week at the Rawling’s house and it went really well.  The father remembered a little bit about the gospel because the grandpa had taken him to church when he was a boy.  So when we shared the first vision and asked their thoughts and feelings the mom told us she felt good about it but didn’t know why.  The father replied before we could,   “you were feeling the spirit!”  Ah, it was so cool to see him answer her question!  So they accepted a Book of Mormon on one condition.  That we sign the inside cover and come to their son’s birthday party next week.  We seriously love them so much.  The son is so cute and we got to teach him how to pray at the end of the lesson.

M- and her family are doing pretty well.  We asked them if they have prayed about a baptism date but M- feels she isn’t ready yet.  She voiced her concern for not having enough dedication or conviction yet.  She thinks it all makes sense and that it’s good but she wants a sign that this is meant for her.😑  Well, we boldly told her that we had been inviting her to make commitments that would help them to gain a conviction of the gospel and she hadn’t been keeping them.  So far they haven’t come to church (although they keep saying they want to) and she hasn’t read the chapters in the Book of Mormon we give her.  Actually her two daughter’s have been reading and they are doing AWESOME.  They told us that they enjoy the reading and the lessons more than they like their children’s bible!  They said this stuff was easier to understand!  How cool?!  So anyway we invited M- to commit to do the reading with her kids.  And she said she would.  We just have to keep inviting, hopefully she will find her own conviction.  When she does follow through, she will be blessed with answers.

As you know, there really are so many homeless people here!!  There’s a family here with hearts of gold who are letting homeless people live in one of their houses. They told us to go visit them.   One of the guys living there has been a preacher and apparently he is one of God’s anointed.  When we started talking about prophets being called of God he was like, “oh yeah like me”. ….uh no not like you…  When we shared the first vision he was like,  “yeah, I totally believe it because I have been visited by God too”. …wait what?… It was interesting.  It led Sister Brook’s and I into a very serious discussion after the lesson about priesthood power, priesthood authority and miracles.  It came down to whether or not people need the priesthood to perform miracles and to prophesy.  We brought the matter up with brother Rawlings.  We all had a good discussion on it and came to the conclusion that miracles and hearings depend on faith.  Faith fuels the power.  So when righteous people with enough faith do something in the name of Christ, there can be miracles.  But we still need priesthood authority to perform miracles because it’s not only organization in the church but it’s what makes our saving ordinances count in the next life.  

Remember those cool storms I was telling you about last week?  Well we had a really big one last night.  It was crazy.  Sister Brook’s and I went outside to jump in the puddles by the church before our nightly planning. We went inside the church to plan but decided we needed a picture of the rain so we went back out.  And guess what… We locked ourselves out in the freaking rain and lightening!  We had no keys, and we had no phone – everything was locked in the building! We started walking to a member’s home, in the rain and puddles,  and luckily some member’s saw us about halfway and had keys to the building and saved us! We were completely soaked, the closest we will get to swimming probably😂.

Okay, love you all!  Sister Packer

Addition to the bugs and scorpions of Arizona, I present the Western Diamond Back Rattlesnake.  We chatted with some workers catching this little guy in some grass along the sidewalk (the 10th catch of the day for them).  And a pic of someone with an actual rattlesnake bite one month later.  Ouch!

 

Pretty Sunset in Sierra Vista

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The District

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