Welcoming Sister Ray to Sierra Vista

From September 26, 2016

Dear Family,         

Okay first I will tell you about my new companion!  I am training again.  Sis Ray is from the Los Angeles area.  She is 20 years old and went to two years of college at BYUI and BYU Provo before coming out.  Most importantly, I feel like we get along really well. We have a lot in common.  She told me of her love for A$AP Rocky and the Red Sox and I said “Sis Ray, President is INSPIRED.” She obviously has good taste.  This transfer is going to be so dope.  We already found matching ugly sweaters and socks to wear together!  How much better could it get?!

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Tuesday I picked her up at the transfer site and we were able to find a ride back to our car which was parked in Benson. Then we headed off to the wonderful land of Sierra Vista.  The most exciting part of the day was explaining the army blimp to her.  I told her the aliens had landed in Sierra Vista first to watch. When she didn’t believe that, I told her someone tried to make a giant, white, flying goldfish model.  Truth- it’s the army’s blimp that they put in the sky everyday and it runs surveillance…boarder control.

Our first lesson was with Branden!  Wow, it was a powerful first lesson for Sister Ray!  We taught him the plan of salvation.  He knew less than we thought he did.  We asked him if he read the Book of Moron. He said that he reads every day and is almost to 2 Nephi.  We asked him if he is praying and he said,  “oh yes, I’m trying to.”  What the???  YAY BRANDEN.  Everyone should keep commitments like this all-star.  At the end of the lesson we invited him to say the closing prayer and specifically ask God for an answer on whether the Book of Mormon is true or not.  So of course he said yes!  And in the middle of his prayer he got all choked up and he finished and expressed that he feels like God is answering him.  Sadly, he is leaving for vacation for a couple weeks but he said he would come to church with us when he gets back.

Our other crazy lesson this week was with Jim. The spirit was SO strong.  Jim is so very close.  He has finally started reading the Book of Mormon so we discussed the differences between Nephi and Laman.  He made the comment that Laman and Lemuel weren’t evil, they just weren’t obedient.  We also talked about the feelings he gets as he reads the Book of Mormon.  He described it as peace and more patience for his day.  So we asked if he thought God would give him those feelings if the book were not true and he kinda tip-toed around the question. Then he was quiet for a long time (this was one of those moments where you start to sweat and think oh crap, too bold) and he said God only sends truth.  YES JIM YES!  He did admit that he is scared to commit though because he knows it would be a major life style change for him. He is praying about a November 5th baptismal date.

Saturday we had a cool experience.  We had a few things we wanted to do before Women’s Conference and only about an hour and a half… not sure we had time to fit it all in.  Anyway we made our plan but for whatever reason it got switched up.  We visited a family who were very much not interested in the gospel so it led us to the next thing on the list which was to stop by the dollar store, right?!  As we were walking up this older lady was trying to get her cart out of the door and we opened it and helped her.  Then she took a double take at our tags and was like, “hey I know you guys!”  Turns out her husband was a member and he had just passed away a few weeks ago.  She told us she’d like us to come visit her next week!  The timing was crazy!!  It was cool to see how the spirit led us there and had us in just the right place at the right time.

Okay, women’s conference was insane!  My heart was so full.  President Uchtdorf is a silver fox.  That man is stealing everybody’s hearts.  But I loved how he talked about listening differently – and Sister Ray and I were able to use that in our lesson with Jim the very next day!  I loved the emphasis on gaining a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ.  That is our purpose as missionaries is to share the doctrine of Christ!!!  So it was cool to see them telling even church members to understand it so they can really live it!  Another funny highlight of our week was when we taught a lesson to a man who was soooo high!  Lol that was funny!  Love you all.  And have fun listening to the prophet this weekend wahoooooooooo so stoked!!!!!!!!🙌🙌🙌

Sister Packer

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It is the Wounded Christ Who Leads Us

Dear Family,                                                                                                  Sept. 19, 2016

It has been a strangely slow week! We didn’t teach a ton of lessons but we did teach a few important ones!  It’s been different.  My companion for the week hasn’t even been through the MTC so I was also teaching her how to teach.  But we had fun!  And I think she feels a lot more comfortable about going on her mission now too.  She will be getting her call in about a month!  It’s been funny because she takes everything I say very literally and wants to soak in everything. So I have had a lot of fun with that.  The question of who will be joining me for next transfer? Drum roll…… I have no idea! Hahaha. Really though.  I get to train again so I won’t find out till I go to the meeting tomorrow morning!  Back to our week and lessons – Elizabeth was one of those important ones.  We had her meet us at the church and we talked about some questions she had from reading the Book of Mormon and we took her on a church tour.  It was an awesome lesson!  And we ended in the chapel and talked about how sacred the sacrament is to us.  She offered a prayer there in the chapel and it was a very spiritual experience.  She is still planning on a baptism in October and it sounds like her mom has been supportive of her decision!  She also said she would come to church.

We had an interesting lesson with a less active young man. He is our age – 19! He was at one point considering a mission but then he stopped going to church.  His friend who is in our ward, left on a mission, broke some bones and had to come home for surgery.  This friend set up this appointment with us in hopes that we could help this young man come back to church and hopefully onto a mission.  It was fun to meet with people our own age.  Automatically gives us something to relate to!  We could tell he has a testimony.  He maybe just forgot about it for a little bit.  

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One of our highlights this week was our temple trip. FINALLY.  I love the temple.  And I feel so so lucky because I got to go last week with the northwest zone and then AGAIN this week with my own zone.  Extra blessings for Sister Packer!  Joseph Heckert’s baptism was Saturday.  He is an adorable twelve year old who was adopted by the Heckert family.  He was baptized, confirmed, and received the Aaronic priesthood all in one weekend!  President called us up yesterday because Sister Gross is finishing up her mini mission.  I was to take her home after our dinner appointment Sunday night.  I got to surprise the Casas Adobes sisters by showing up on their doorstep once again!

 I was reading in Mormon this week.  And in chapter 8, Moroni takes over the record from his father and is telling everyone that he is all alone but is fulfilling the commandment his father had given him.  This week I have felt that to a certain degree,  like “SAME MORONI, SAME!”  Your study in the book of mormon reminded me of a quote that I found particularly helpful this week  “It is the wounded Christ who leads us through our moments of difficulty.  It is he who bears us up when we need more air to breath or direction to follow or eve more courage to continue.”  He is with us, He is always available.

Love you all, Sister Packer

The Story of the Dream Team Continues

From Sept. 5, 2016

Two missionaries. One week. Three new investigators. Two baptism dates. One baptism. Three hundred thousand bunnies.  A few weeks ago Sister Waldron and I had talked to these people who had met with missionaries before and said they would be interested in having us share our message.  They had told us to come back but when we did they were never home.  Well this week we finally got in touch with them again!  Haha, we knocked on the door and the husband, Max, opens it and says,  “OH Mormons! Come on in guys!”  Wait really?? They were excited to have us there, they even offered us wine TWICE, haha. No thanks.  We started to talk about God’s plan for us and wow, they got deep.  Max knew his bible from cover to cover.  He didn’t necessarily want to bible bash, he just politely disagreed with with everything.  Honestly, some of their questions I felt like I didn’t know how to answer. They asked us to come back on Sunday, so when we did I brought a member from our Sierra Vista ward that I really admire.  Brother Drake teaches gospel principles right now and he is explains things in such a sensible way.   We had some good discussion with Max and Mindy.  But ultimately they couldn’t  agree with the way we view God and a few other points of doctrine. It’s easy to promise that reading the Book or Mormon and praying sincerely for your heart’s answers will work and there WILL be an answer.  But first you have to believe in God and that He will answer a human’s prayer.  They don’t… yet.  I hope we will be able to teach better that the fundamental doctrine of God and how we can communicate with him and that He can help us more than we realize.  It did make me a little sad because I want them to have the gospel.  He was willing to read the book but wasn’t sure he would pray about it.  How sad?!  Sometimes we felt like he was trying to convert us to his ways.  He did say one of us is right and one day  if it turns out we were right, well whatever, it’s all cool.  Frustrating.   

So in one week we found two new investigators and then had to drop them.  But we did find another new investigator.  We went to teach Elizabeth a lesson and her friend Alex decided she wanted to start sitting in on the lessons too!  They both read some of the Book of Mormon. They didn’t read like a chapter or anything but they randomly flipped through it and would read scriptures they found. We got to teach them the plan of salvation and talk about the good and bad decisions we make here on earth.  We brought a girl from the ward who is our age and was baptized also at 14 and she told them about her experience. We invited them to be baptized and they accepted a date!!!  We still have to tell them they need permission from their parents, so hopefully it’ll all come.  And oh I almost forgot! Angel’s baptism was Saturday!!!  Another successful jumpsuit jam.  It was awesome to see her make this step!  Starting to wonder though- what is it with us teaching fourteen year old girls?! Hahaha.  

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Also, not only did I once upon a time deal with a crazy lady who had 90 cats but I have now eaten dinner at a crazy bunny lady’s house too!  LOL – Literally every  shelf in her house (and there were many) was covered with bunny decor.  My chair for dinner was right in between two display cabinets both stocked with random bunny figurines. They were watching me… creepiest thing.  She only has ten actual bunnies but every space of her house has to have something to do with bunnies on it. 😳  

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BUNNIES!

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Somehow we are still teaching Jim.  He expressed how he feels the Spirit in us and the people at church and how he wants it so badly but he just cannot get over the origins of the church. Aka the Joseph Smith story has some holes to him. Once again- READ THE BOOK OF MORMON!  We told him why keeping the commitments we give him are so important. It’s so you can know the truth. He first committed to keep commitments haha. Then he committed to read one chapter from the Book of Mormon every day this week and to pray about it.  The hardest part about missionary work is that it’s all up to the individuals. We can’t control if they read or if they don’t. So it’s ultimately up to them and how much they want the gospel and the truth in their lives.  Agency has definitely been a theme for the week! Sometimes it’s annoying other times we love it. We have 100% agency which in turn means we have 100% responsibility. We can’t make a person choose a certain ways and they can’t do that to us. But we all have to deal with the consequences of our actions and sometimes the consequences of other’s actions.  I am so thankful that I have the Saviors atonement to cover all of that.  And I know he is also there to be with me and hold my hand through the consequences as well.  

 Grateful for all of you, your prayers, and emails. LOVE YOU!

Sister Packer

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