Thursday, May 17, 2012

Home to Heal

Ali has been sick since early February, and they finally determined she needed to come home to rest and get better.  She has just been working through it for a few months, but it hasn't gone away.  She got home to Boise last night, and it was great to see her.

She of course has mixed feelings and will greatly miss the people in Chicago she has learned to love.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Wonderful Stake Conference

Andrews Baptism from Last weeks letter.
I will call around 5:00 my time for Mothers Day!!!  I'M SO EXCITED TO TALK TO YOU!!!!!!!!!! :)

This week has been good, but pretty boring as far as lessons go.  As in, we had ZERO lessons with investigators or just people letting us in after knocking on their door.  We had 3 less-active/recent convert lessons and 6 active (from dinners) and that was it.  But we did find a lot of potential investigators this week.  Hopefully we will be able to turn them into new investigators soon!  Because we are really struggling for a teaching pool right now.  Sister Carlton and I are doing well though and are as happy as ever together.  She is seriously hilarious and cracks me up on a daily basis.  It's great :)

Stake Conference was AWESOME!  We got to go to the Saturday evening session, because we had a potential investigator who was able to attend.  His name is Charley and he's been going to church for 3 months in the Soldier Field area (I think that's somewhere in the City??) but he lives in our area, so the Elders just told him that he needs to be taught and baptized in our area!  So we met him for the first time on Saturday, and will hopefully begin meeting with him officially very soon.  He is super busy though, so it's going to be hard to schedule things.  At least we know he has the desire though!  So back to Conference.  Elder Oaks is really funny.  All the talks were great - there were a lot about parenting, which is kind of fun, because the principle totally relate to teaching investigators about the church! And the things that don't apply now, are good reminders for the future.  And then Elder Oaks got up and was commenting on all the other talks and adding his bit to what they all said and throwing in random stories all over the place.  It was great.  He did the same thing on Sunday :)  As he was speaking on Saturday though, after a while, he paused, and then said that unrelated to anything that had been talked about and not concerning anything he had thought he would talk about, he felt impressed to talk about Family Prayer.  He said that we need to be having DAILY, KNEELING family prayers, and that as we kneel in prayer, we are able to overcome the formality of prayer "which won't help God at all, but it will sure help you!" 

Sunday, he talked about the Sacrament and how if we truly take the name of Jesus Christ upon us, we are promised that we will ALWAYS have the Spirit to be with us.  Then he talked about the difference in the two Sacramental prayers and how that condition and promise is only given together in the prayer for the bread.  It was pretty cool.  Along with that, he had a big emphasis on the NAME of Jesus Christ and said that there are over 1500 references to the NAME of Jesus Christ throughout the scriptures.  He said that Apostles are not special witnesses of Christ, they are special witnesses of the NAME of Jesus Christ and that it is by the NAME  of Jesus Christ that we are saved.  I'm not really sure what the full significance of all this is yet, but it really stood out to me.  I need to study it more and I would love to hear all of your ideas about it!  

He also talked about Tithing.  In our "Tithing" pamphlets that we use there is a story about Elder Oaks mom, so it was really neat to hear him share the experience himself.  His mom told him that there might be some people who were rich enough that they could afford not to pay tithing, but that they were poor, so they needed to pay their tithing.  

Then he gave this little formula:  90% + Blessings > 100% without blessings.  

It's so true!!  We NEED the Lord's help in our lives.  None of us are rich enough to get along without his blessings.  We ALL need to pay our tithing.

On Saturday, he also talked about the Articles of Faith and compared them to other "supreme expressions in the English language" such as the Gettysburg Address, the Declaration of Independence and parts of the Constitution.

He told a story about when he was serving as President of BYU and Elder Maxwell in one of their meetings asked all the men present to think about "What do you want to be remembered for when you are released from you current calling?" and then related it to parenthood.  I think it's a great question to ask ourselves in ANY situation we find ourselves in.  

Elder Payne of the the Seventy also came and one really profound thing he said was, "The first element of Testimony, is gratitude." and then talked about how if we feel like our testimonies are waning, we need to work on being grateful for all that our Heavenly Father has given us, and then our testimony will grow.

One of the funny stories Elder Oaks told was about a letter that he got from a little 10 year old girl after speaking at a Stake Conference in England a number of years ago.  At the end of the letter she wrote, "I know you are an Apostle, because you are clean and your head is shiny."   Hahaha!  It was great. 

So yeah, Stake Conference was great.

Sadly though, we found out Saturday night that our District Leader, Elder Harmon, is being transferred.  We are really going to miss him.  He has been a FABULOUS District Leader and we have had a lot of fun together as well.  He really cared about us and our investigators, and it was nice to feel that love and concern.  

Oh!  And the very exciting news of the week, is that President Doll gave the WHOLE mission permission to go to the Cubs game on May 29th!  Woohoo!  We're super stoked :)

Can't wait to talk to you!  LOVE LOVE LOVE!
Sister Ali

p.s.  Do you by chance have any news about Juliette and the wonderful Soelberg family?  I haven't heard from Jette since December...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Happy Birthday Dad!!  I've been thinking about you ALL week :)  I hope you have a good day and have fun with the missionaries tonight!

So it turns out I might be allergic to minocycline?  Well, not might be.  Most very likely am.  And all tetracyclines for that matter.  Weird.  My blood tests came back all nice so I went back to taking the minocycline since Elder Craner (mission doctor) had told me to wait until everything was back to normal before taking it again.  Since all was well, Friday morning I took some.  As we were tracting that afternoon I started to get sore, but I just figured it was from our run that morning and that my arms were sore from some exercise I had done on Thursday.  But then I realized how odd it was to be so sore from a run in the same day.  And it just kept getting worse, and it was happening rapidly.  I decided I better take some ibuprofen since that's all they did for my last time, and I wasn't sure what else to do.  We had Andrew's baptism Friday night, and all I wanted was to be able to get through that.  Sister Carlton could tell I was starting to suffer the more we walked, so when we finished the section of street we were on, we headed back to the car, I took some ibuprofen and we went home until dinner so my body could rest.  I ended up sleeping for the whole hour because the pain was exhausting!  Miraculously, I was still able to get down on my knees, and I said a prayer asking Heavenly Father to help my body have the strength to get through the evening without being distracted by the pain.  The worst of the pain held out until after the baptism was over.  It was a miracle.

The baptism was perfect.  Andrew's whole family came and some very good family friends drove all night from Delaware to be there for it, so that he could baptize Andrew.  They stayed for Sunday so he could be confirmed, and then drove all night back to Delaware Sunday evening.  Brother and Sister P... had so much love for this family!  It was a really neat experience to see their love and sacrifice for their friends because they wanted them to understand how important being active in the gospel is to them.  Dear Sister P... started crying as we talked with them after church on Sunday thinking about how sad it made her when she found out that they weren't active, and then thinking about how happy she is now that they are starting to come back to church.  It was also a really incredible experience to witness Brother B... wrestle with the Spirit on Friday at the Baptism.  That was his first time in a church building in several years, and the first time that many of the members had ever seen him.  All the songs we sang were primary songs, and it was great to see Brother B... start singing them.  And then as we watched from the corner of our eyes, we noticed he would close his eyes and really seemed to be wrestling with the Spirit as Enos describes in the Book of Mormon.  We are praying that he will allow the Spirit to win this wrestle. 

Saturday I woke up and my body was all puffy and swollen, and I was in pain.  Not as bad as last time though.  We had a really busy day planned, with several appointments, but there was no way I was going to be able to make it.  We called the Woodridge Sisters, and their schedule happened to be completely open during all of our appointments, so they were able to come do splits with us, so that we didn't have to cancel.  I am very grateful for their help, and grateful to see another example of how God is in the details of our lives.  I was able to get through church yesterday, and today I have more energy, but my body still hurts - especially the bottoms of my feet, which makes walking difficult...

Oh right.  So back to how I'm apparently probably allergic to minocycline.  So Elder Craner and the nurse at my Dr.'s office both said that somehow I must have developed a sensitivity or an allergy to the medicine and that's what's causing the pain.  So all I have to do is never take minocycline (and probably not any other tetracycline either) ever again, and I should be fine.  Elder Craner doesn't think it's necessarily related to all the crazy blood tests from earlier, or the pain BEFORE the major attack, but at least it's ONE thing we can be pretty certain about.  I have an appointment with Dr. Weinberg tomorrow, so we'll see what she says.

Brittaini is doing really well.  The ward is getting her involved with things and soon she will be a visiting teacher!  We will be riding with her to Stake Conference on Saturday night :)  She bore her testimony on Sunday and it was beautiful.  So did her son Alec.  He's only 5 and only been to church 4 times.  It was so sweet to hear him share about how he knows Heavenly Father and Jesus love him because they created the earth for us to live on.  They were also able to come to Andrew's baptism, and it was super cute because afterward Alec was just jumping up and down and told me "I want to get baptized RIGHT NOW!" 

Rick is going out of town for a couple of weeks, which is kind of scary because Satan works really hard on people who have chosen to change their lives and follow the Lord, and Rick is on date to be baptized, so Satan will be working hard on him.  It will be hard to not see him for so long, and I just pray that he will continue to read and pray while he's gone and stay close to the Spirit.  He is worried about his family and not having them come with him on this spiritual journey to a church that asks so much of us.  We are trying to help him understand that it's not because the CHURCH requires so much, but the LORD that is requiring his time and sacrifices.  Even if it means not going to church with his family because they've chosen another path...

I actually saw Don this morning, because he gave me a hair cut :)  He and Rose are doing well, but still working on a few things.  They finally stayed for Sunday School!!  We all really want them to come to Stake Conference, but Satan is so tricky how he comes up with ways to keep people from going to where he knows they will have a spiritually strengthening experience!  Bill's daughter (the man who lived with them until he died in February) wants to "talk" to them, and apparently the only time she can do it is Sunday morning.  I think he would LOVE to hear from you.  I will also attach some pictures of the fun Sister Carlton, Sister Weber and I had while Don was cutting Sister Stewart's hair... 

This afternoon, we had a May Day celebration with some of the other missionaries.  It rained though, so we had to improvise on our "pole" inside...  I'll send some pictures :)  Between the adventures this morning during the hair cuts, and the May Day Celebration this afternoon, it was a really funny day. 

Also - the most success in missionary work comes when MEMBERS REFER people for us to teach!  Preferably where YOU - the members - introduce your friends to the missionaries by inviting them all into your home for a lesson.  Most people won't listen to us if we just knock on their door. But when they KNOW the missionaries are coming by to see them because you suggested it to them, or you invite them over to learn more about the family proclamation, or something important to you and to have a gospel discussion with the missionaries, THAT's when the work moves forward and we actually see investigators progress to baptism.  It's possible the other way, but it's much more difficult.  So PLEASE think about someone you know that you can tell about the gospel and invite to learn more about why it means so much to you.

This gospel is TRUE.  Sometimes it gets frustrating when people don't accept the truth, or can't see how it really all DOES make sense.  And sometimes I find myself questioning why it is that they can't put the pieces together, and I start to wonder if it really DOES all make sense.  But then I think about all the things I KNOW to be true.  And I realize that Satan is just trying to stop the work.  I know the gospel is true.  I know Joseph Smith was called of God to restore the Church of Jesus Christ upon the earth again.  I know that the Priesthood - the authority to act in the name of God - is real and that it is powerful.  I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church on the earth to hold that authority from God.  I know that in order to return to our Father in Heaven we must have faith, repent, be baptized, receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the End.  I know that God requires these things of us in order to help us grow and learn so that when the time comes, we will be comfortable in His presence.  I know that God loves me.  I know He loves you.

Alma 26.  Read it.  It's amazing.

All my love,
Sister Hatch


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dear Mom, Dad, Danny, Shar, Katelyn, Madison, Jane, Amy, Nate, Lucy, Ivy, Jack, Alicia, Alan, Norah, and everyone else,

First of all Mom, Thanks for all the news! (I haven't read the rest of your letter yet).  OH MY GOODNESS on all the marriages.  Craziness.  Congrats to Nancy! And welcome home to Ashley!  Congratulations to Lacey and Jake and Becca!  It's weird that that much time has already passed.  I just realized the other day, that I have been out for 7 months! Which is getting close to halfway.  Very weird.

We had a great week this week.  On Wednesday, we discovered that the less active family we have been working with to get the son Andrew ready for baptism will actually count as a convert baptism because he turns 9 two days before his baptism.  So we have a baptism this weekend!  We were always planning on being there, because we've been working with him and his family, but because both of his parents are members (they just aren't super active and the dad is totally inactive) we figured it would be a primary baptism.  Plus the ward kept going back and forth on what they were going to consider it and never told us for certain how it was all going to come together.  But we are excited for him to get baptized on Friday and we hope we will be able to help the family stay active!  

The greatest part of our week though, was Friday.  We were on exchanges and I was serving with Sister Weber, while Sister Carlton went to Woodridge with Sister Stewart.  We went to our appointment with Rick and when we followed up on how his reading of 2 Nephi 31 went, he said, "it made me want to get baptized"  !!!!!!!!!  Oh my goodness! This is exactly what we were hoping would happen!  Right about then, he ended up having a question about authority, so we answered that question, and then I led that into a discussion about Faith so that we come back to the whole baptism thing.  We had a great discussion about Faith as we read from the Bible Dictionary and then the member with us shared her conversion story of having to take those steps of faith even though she didn't know all the answers.  She shared how as she has continued to keep the commandments, she has seen more and more that the decision she made was right and she has eventually gotten all of the answers she needed.  It was really great.  Then I looked Rick right in the eyes and asked, "So Rick, will you take this step of faith, and follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the Priesthood authority of God?  We are holding a baptismal service on June 23rd.  Will you prepare yourself to be baptized on that day?"  He got this curious look as I said the date, looked at his calendar, and then asked how we came up with that particular day.  We explained that we had prayed about it and just felt like that was a day he could be ready by.  Then he told us that in Puerto Rico, where he is from, they have a holiday every summer.  This year it falls on June 23rd.  It is called "John the Baptist Day."  He agreed to be baptized on June 23rd :)  SO COOL!  He is really excited about it and he feels that us choosing that date is another sign from God that he should in fact be baptized.  Sister Carlton was so excited when exchanged back that night!  We are really happy for him.

After Rick, we had an appointment with a woman named Brandi that we had tracted into a few days before.  She LOVES family history and she has worked with the church website a LOT.  Sister Weber and I had a great talk with her, getting to know her and about her family history.  Then before we left, we quickly introduced the Book of Mormon and asked her if she would read from it and then if we could come back and talk to her more about it.  She said she would and was quite excited about her "homework" :)  The best part though, was when we were first talking about it. She mentioned how the Jews have the Old Testament, most Christians have the Old and New Testaments, and then the Mormons have the Old, New and Another Testament.  And then she said, "What I don't get, is why hasn't anyone else picked up this book?  Why haven't any other churches started using it?"  Very good question Brandi.  Very good question :)  We would be thrilled to answer that for you when we come back.  

So we were very happy with our investigator on date to be baptized and our new investigator for the week.  

I am still absolutely loving working with Sister Carlton.  She is fabulous and we work so well together!  I enjoyed working with Sister Weber on Friday, but I really missed Sister Carlton while she was gone.  I'm happy to have her back again.

Last night in 2nd ward we had a ward activity centered on missionary work.  It was AWESOME!  Brother Oscarson put together this whole program of speakers and videos from etc, to talk about what it means to be a Mormon and how we live our lives according to the teachings of Jesus Christ because of that.  Several youth spoke, and Courtney (one of our recent converts) and then the Bishop gave a great talk at the end about acting on the feelings that anyone may have had during the program which then led into the "Waiting on the Road to Damascus" mormon message.  It was fabulous. (P.S. Mom, you should try to put the video on my blog right here if you can.  That would be cool.)   Waiting on the Road to Damascus - President Deiter F. Uchtdorf

I also forgot to tell you about this cool thing that happened last week!  Last Sunday, we had a comparative religions class from the College of DuPage (CoD) come visit Sacrament meeting in 2nd ward, and then they stayed after for a question and answer session with us.  We were able to get several members to stay with us to help answer questions and it went really well.  We ended up giving them all a restoration pamphlet and we gave away about 6 copies of the Book of Mormon.  We had a few with us, and passed them out for them to look at while we explained a little about what it was.  We were hoping they would want to keep them.  At the end, one lady handed hers back to Sister Carlton, and when she told her she could keep it, she said she didn't want it to be wasted, so she would just give it back.  Two seats down, another lady had heard her, and jumped at the opportunity, reaching across and saying, "Well then can I have it??"  It was exciting to see her so excited about it, and a few of the others holding their copies, gently fingering through as they pondered on the things they had just heard and felt.  Then this week, we found out from one of our Bishopric members that someone else in the class had stayed after and asked him if he could get a copy of the Book of Mormon!  It was really neat and I hope those who were touched - which I would say there were many who were - will get the chance to learn more about the church and will request the missionaries in their respective areas.  That would be even better if they lived in ours :)

I think that's about all for the week.  Healthwise:  Saturday was a pretty yucky day, but yesterday was better and today is a good day too.  I got my follow-up bloodwork on Friday, so hopefully we'll have those results back soon.  Sister Bostrom (WML's wife in 3rd ward) also said she would ask one of the doctors she works for if she has any ideas what all this could be.  She said this doctor is an excellent diognostician and that she would be willing to look into it for me, so I gave her a list of all my symptoms and we'll see if any new ideas come from that.  

I love you! I miss you! (in a good way)

Love, Sister Ali

Monday, April 16, 2012

Haha you wore my clothes :) Well I'm glad they can be there for you when you're missing me. For exercise we sometimes go for little runs outside, sometimes we just walk, and sometimes we just stretch and do crunches in the apartment... Way to go Dad! Running a whole mile! I bet he's sore!

We get to go to RS in the 3rd ward, but not in 2nd because that's during 3rd ward's Sacrament meeting. I can't believe our ward has 7 recent converts! How many converts did we ever have my whole time growing up in that ward? Like, NONE? That's awesome and amazing and wonderful.

Our "Walk with Christ" was on Good Friday, and they had about 6 different rooms set up with either "live" scenes or videos playing (with a narrator in every room) to share testimony of who Chirst was, or to depict scenes from his death on the cross and resurrection and then it ended with Him visiting the Americas. It was pretty cool.

Happy Birthday Sheeshee! I hope you have a wonderful fabulous day!

This week I got sick again. So far it's just a cold, but a few of the signs/symptoms from when I got SUPER sick have started coming back, bit by bit. I'm trying to take care of myself and take it easy so that it doesn't end up like last time. We'll see what happens and I'll keep you posted. A funny thing did come of this though. For a couple of days, but throat was so raw (like when I got my tonsils out) that I couldn't/didn't have any desire to speak at all. So for two and half days Sister Carlton and I communicated by limited sign language skills and writing things down when it was too complicated to sign. She was awesome and took over teaching a couple of lessons all by herself. So one day, we had to go to the Sprint store to see if they could fix our phone, because it is having some major issues right now - we like to say it's possessed because it is seriously wacky. Anyway, we went into the store and I just kind of hung back while Sister Carlton did all the talking. As we waited though, I came up by her and I had a few things I wanted to tell her, so I wrote it down on. The girl working noticed my lack of vocal communication, and drawing conclusions from the name tag I wear asked, "Did you take a vow a silence?" Hahahaha! It was awesome. We explained that I had just lost my voice, and she was afraid she had offended us, but we weren't upset at all. We just thought it was hilarious.

For our Stake Conference on May 5 & 6 Elder Dallin H. Oaks will be coming to preside. AWESOMENESS! Super excited about that. Hopefully we can get some investigators there!

And speaking of investigators: We had a really great lesson with Rick this week. We had planned on teaching him the Plan of Salvation, but then when we were following up on how he liked church, he had some questions about the Priesthood, and when the member with us mentioned one of the differences between Aaronic and Melchezidek being that one could baptize and one could confirm, he ask what being confirmed was which then led into a really awesome discussion about the Holy Ghost. It was super cool and the Spirit was definitely there. We asked him if that constant companionship of the Holy Ghost was something that he would want and he said it was, and that he thought it would really help. Then we explained that that is why we invited him to be baptized, because we wanted him to be able to have that as well. This week he is going to pray on his knees at least once a day and ask about baptism and the Holy Ghost and if that really is something that he can have and needs to do in his life. We are excited!

Agnes, the sweet Sister that we visited in the hospital last week, passed away on Saturday. Her daughter visited our ward on Sunday and thanked us for going to visit her. We are both so grateful that we had the opportunity to meet her. Her funeral is on Saturday and perhaps Dean, the man we met while sharing the Easter message on the driveway will be there. I am happy to know that she is now at rest from all her pain and no longer has to suffer.

We have been having some CRAZY thunder storms the past few days. The only problem is, they have only been happening at night - as in the middle of the night - so I don't really get to enjoy them, and then they just end up waking me up periodically throughout the night because the thunder is so loud and the lightening is so bright. But oh well! I can sleep well another night... Maybe not until I'm done with my mission... but another night nonetheless :)

Saturday's Miracle: We went tracting in the neighborhood just south of our apartment complex, so instead of driving, we decided just to walk there. We worked on a street called Applegate and we met some nice people, and a few not so nice. Overall, it was a good and successful morning. Then it was time for lunch, so we started to walk back. As we were walking by this field close to home, we crossed paths with an older lady walking her dog. We ended up talking to her for about 25 minutes and she said she was currently in a "state of transition" religiously. She said she would be interested if she could ever make the time to sit down with us and learn more of our message. So we gave her our number, and then asked for her number and address. She lives on Applegate. I guess we were going to find her one way or another! It's amazing how the Lord leads us to those that He has been preparing.

I love you all very much! I miss you!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for the pictures Dad!

Oh! And last night we got a text from Brittaini saying that she was going to quit smoking once and for all! She asked for our prayers, saying that she was going to go cold turkey and that she had just thrown out her last pack of cigarettes, but that she knew with the Lord's help she could do it. We promised her on Saturday that if she read from the Book of Mormon every day she would have greater power to resist temptation and now she's acting on it! What a show of faith. She decided to do this all on her own, and we are just happy to be a part of all these wonderful changes she is making in her life.

Sister Ali

The pictures are from our lesson with Andrew (the one from the less active family getting baptized on the 27th). We talked about Nephi building the boat and then we made our own :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dearest Familia,

This week has truly been a week of miracles!

Miracle #1.
Last week we had a woman named Brittaini call us. She told us that she was a member, but hasn't been active in over 10 years. She wants to come back and to raise her kids in the church and she wanted to know what she needed to do. We met with her on Tuesday and it was AMAZING. We started with a prayer, and she was crying by the end. She said she hadn't felt the Spirit that strong since she was learning about the church and joined when she was 12. It was pretty cool. She told us her story, which is basically that she's always known the church was true, but was looking for something that would be "easier" or that would let her break more rules. She got married to a Muslim man and for the sake of family unity, converted to Islam. And then she got really depressed. And I mean REALLY depressed. Finally one day, she realized that it was because she couldn't NOT accept Jesus as her Savior and as the Son of God. Once she started coming back to that realization, and decided that she wanted to come back to church, she started feeling better. And so a couple of weeks ago she looked up the closest church building on and saw that the 4th ward met on Tuesday evenings for mutual, so she figured she would show up at the church and see who she could talk to. When she got there though, no one was there. It was Spring Break and they had cancelled mutual. Just as she was about to leave though, someone pulled up. It was the Executive Secretary from the 4th ward. He was able to look up her address and see that she was in our ward, so he gave her our number and the Bishop's number. MIRACLES. So we met with her on Tuesday and then invited her to the "Walk with Christ" event that the 3rd ward (her ward) was doing on Friday night to celebrate Easter and she and her son came and LOVED it. Alec is 5 and he had never been to church or anything before. He had a really hard time in the Crucifixion room and got really sad, but then by the end when they showed Christ visiting the Americas and blessing all the children he got happy. Then as they were driving home he said, "Mom, I really love Heavenly Father and Jesus." I am so excited to be working with Brittaini and her sweet family! They ALL came to church on Sunday - even her husband - and they had a great time. The ward was so welcoming and loving. It was wonderful.

Miracle #2
On Saturday, after tracting for a couple of hours, we had to use the bathroom, so we called the Matsens to see if we could stop in quickly and use theirs. On our way over, Sister Carlton suggested we share the Living Easter Card with them and see if they could think of anyone we should share it with, since the next day was Easter. We were able to share it with them, and then Sister Matsen suggested we visit an older lady in our ward named Agnes who has cancer and so is unable to come to church. Her husband is not a member, but Sister Matsen said he was really nice, so we should be okay to go over. When we got there, there were three men sitting in lawn chairs in front of the open garage door, just talking and drinking their beers. We asked for Agnes and they told us that she was currently in the hospital, and gave us her room number. Then we asked if we could share our Easter message with them, and they said that would be alright. So right there in the driveway, we pulled out our scriptures and hymn books and started to sing and read the Easter story. The neighbor across the street had been mowing his lawn, but he stopped and came over to listen as well. So here we are, two young girls, and these four old men, all drinking their beer, and listening to us sing about Easter. It was pretty cool. When we were done, the one man who had been very quiet the whole time, stood up and came over to us. He thanked us and reached out to shake my hand and then pulled me into a kind of hug (we didn't know what to do!), and then did the same to Sister Carlton. It was powerful to see this man so touched by the Spirit. We gave him a card and told him he could find us on there. We are praying that sweet Dean will visit the website and request us to come back. If he doesn't soon, we are just going to tract his street until we find the right house! We know it's close. Then, Jesse, Agnes's husband, wanted to make sure we would go visit his wife and share our Easter message with her. That night after dinner, we went to the hospital, not knowing what to expect. Agnes was worse than we could have imagined. We found her room, and saw this tiny, fragile woman, clearly in a great deal of pain. We shared our message with her, and though in agony, she joined in singing with us as much as her frail condition would allow. Every so often, I would look up from my hymn book and scriptures, and I saw this light come into her eyes. She was still in pain, but she had joy and hope now. And as we finished our message, she smiled. It was one of the sweetest things I have ever seen. Her smile told us what she could not say: that although she was in the deepest pain and agony, she had hope and faith that because of our Savior's Atonement, one day, her pain would end. And until that day, she knew that at least she wasn't alone in her suffering. My testimony of the Atonement and the Easter season was strengthened greatly by this dear sweet Sister's song and smile.

Miracle #3
Rick is awesome. We went to his new house for our appointment on Friday and got the tour. Nothing is moved in yet, but in his daughter's room was one picture sitting against the wall. It was the "One hundred cats and a mouse" picture that we have hanging in our downstairs bathroom! I have never seen that picture anywhere else. It was really cool. But then, this picture became more than just a fun connection to home. As we went forward with our lesson, Rick told us that sometimes he feels like God speaks to him through dreams. We said that was perfectly plausible - and then he proceeded to explain: A couple of days before Sister Sorensen and I knocked on his door, he had a dream. Though unclear in the details, he somehow knew that I (me, Sister Hatch) would be coming to learn his story. So then we knocked on his door and our journey together began. When I recognized the picture, that was just one more sign that I really was the one he had been told would be coming. HOW CRAZY IS THAT??!? And by crazy I mean that in a good crazy way. It was really cool to hear that. Anyway, we had a good lesson with him. We invited him to the "Walk with Christ" and to church and he said he would try to make it to both, but he wasn't certain he would be able to come, but he would try. All the pipes started leaking in their house Friday night, so he couldn't come to the Walk with Christ, and then he wasn't at church on Sunday either. But then, as I was handing out flyers for a ward mission activity at the door after Sacrament meeting, someone told me that there was a man in the foyer looking for me. I peered around the corner, and there was Rick! He came to church!! He was just a little late and didn't want to interrupt the service. So he listened from the foyer and gave himself a little tour of the church and looked at all the pictures. Then he came to Sunday School with us and he went to Priesthood as well! We were super excited :)

So yep. It's been a pretty amazing week. There have been tons of other little miracles happening all this past week, but those are the big three.

On Sunday, I received probably the greatest compliment anyone can receive as a missionary. Elder and Sister Anderson are Stake missionaries for the Addiction recovery classes and such, and they are in the 3rd ward. I absolutely love them :) A few weeks ago, Sister Sorensen and I had dinner with them, and yesterday Sister Anderson told me that after we left Elder Anderson said to her, "I really wish we had someone for them. ... I would trust Sister Hatch with anyone. She is something special." I was blown away! I'm not sure what I have done to deserve that, but I am grateful for the gifts that Heavenly Father has given me to gain the trust of the members so fully. I must strive to keep that trust that they have in me, to teach their friends about the gospel.

I love you very very much!!
Sister Hatch

Sunday, April 8, 2012

April 2, 2012

Dear Mamacita and Papcito,

I'm really glad to hear that Don and Rose said they were excited to watch Conference! Sister Stewart's recent updates haven't been too heartening, so I've been worried about them. She said they still come to Sacrament, but they won't stay for the classes, and for a couple of weeks they kept cancelling their appointments. I hope they really did watch Conference. It was FABULOUS! We watched it at the Naperville Stake Center (because it's closer than Joliet which is actually our Stake...) and it was fun because a lot of other missionaries were there and Sister Charles from my last area brought the Woodridge Sisters and food for all of us :)

I did get the money from Grandma and Grandpa and I am very grateful for it. I plan on using the birthday money to get a few summer-y things in terms of clothes because I'm starting to realize that what I have is going to be too hot!

So, about this week: My dear sweet companion is named Sister Carlton. She is so awesome! I seriously LOVE her. We get along really well, and I keep forgetting that she's brand new because she's such an incredible missionary already. She's from a tiny town in Kansas called Larnad. She is number 8 of 9 in her family, and her dad died in a car wreck when she was 3. She graduated from BYU-I in early childhood special ed in December. She is super cute and tons of fun. It's great because she's so fresh from the MTC, and I'm still pretty new, so we are figuring things out together, and moving forward with some fun plans to get our wards ready to take the next step in doing missionary work. She has a lot of good ideas and is really excited about the work and the possibilities ahead of us, and it helps me remember my excitement when I first came out and to keep it up, rather than letting it dwindle with time.

We had an AWESOME first "official" lesson with Rick on Friday. We taught about the Restoration, and we were able to flow really well together in our teaching, and while sometimes he went off on a few digressions, we were able to bring it back to the Restoration. It's interesting, because we talk so much about "teaching people, not lessons" but then we also talk about how important it is to bring things back to the Restoration, so sometimes it's a tricky balance, but I think we did pretty good. Then he ended up bringing up on his own things that TOTALLY sounded like the Word of Wisdom, so we gave him a pamphlet for it, and told him to read D&C 89. Things worked perfectly into that because we had just given him a large print BoM, but they only make them in triple combination form, and literally at the last second before going in to meet with him, I decided to put some more pamphlets in my backpack, and Sister Carlton must have been inspired to hand me one for the Word of Wisdom. I love little miracles like that :) Then at the end, he gave the prayer, and it was one of the most sincerely searching prayers I have yet heard from an investigator. It was really powerful.

After Rick, we went to visit a woman named Jane, who loves us and says we are always welcome, but isn't exactly interested in changing religions. I think she totally knows it's true though, she just doesn't want to give up her Catholic traditions - even though she doesn't believe it all! People are funny like that... Anyway, I had been reading the Conference talk by Elder Cook from October, "The Songs They Could Not Sing" and kept thinking about her, because she has been through a lot of really difficult things in her life, and I wanted to give her a copy. We stopped by and ended up having a great lesson with her and invited her to watch Conference. She seemed really interested and I hope she did! She is a really sweet lady, and just fun. But she needs our prayers. She's one of those people that we WANT to visit regularly, but she's not officially investigating, so we can't just go over to hang out, but at the same time we're still always teaching her things about the gospel (oh yeah, and she's already read most of the Book of Mormon!) so I don't know quite what to do. But she's definitely someone we don't want to lose contact with.

The other woman we don't want to lose contact with, but aren't teaching - though again, we're always welcome - is Carla. From the second I met her, I loved her. Sister Sorensen and Sister Carlton were both the same way with her. She knows who God is, and has a great understanding of Jesus Christ and His role as our Savior, but she "cannot" accept the Book of Mormon. She thinks that she can just get her authority from the Bible and that it was never lost from the earth. Other than that though, she is spot on with pretty much everything else we have talked about. She and her husband are in Brazil for two weeks and they are going back to the place where he had his "spiritual awakening". We are praying that that site will continue to be sacred ground for them, and that somehow they will have another Spiritual awakening wherein they desire to read from the Book of Mormon to see if it is true.

And now back to Friday... After Jane, we stopped by a less active Sister in the same neighborhood, but she wasn't home. We had planned to just tract her street afterward before moving on to the area that was closer to where we would be having dinner. When she wasn't home, we walked back to the car to grab our tracting bags, but both ended up just getting in. I had this weird, uneasy, kind of creepy feeling and I didn't like it. I had worked in that neighborhood before (that's how we found Jane) and had even been on that street before and felt totally safe, but something was not right. I was trying to decide if I was just feeling like that because I didn't really want to tract right then, or if there was something else going on. I expressed to Sister Carlton that I was feeling kind of uneasy about the area, and she said she felt that way too, so we quickly started the car and left. We went to the area we had planned to work later in the day, and after listening to a couple of hymns, everything was better and the creepy feeling left. I had heard about missionaries feeling warned about certain areas before, but I had never experienced anything like that before, so it kind of freaked me out at first. I don't know what would have happened if we had stayed, but I'm glad that I don't have to find out. I am grateful that we were both in tune enough with the Spirit to recognize his warning and that we were able to remain safe and protected.

On a happier note, this morning we were studying the Christlike attributes section of PMG (Preach My Gospel) and our focus was on Hope. We had a really awesome study, and I encourage you all to study that chapter (Ch 6). As we read through the scriptures and talked about it, I came to realize the significant relationship between Hope and Eternal Life. The scriptures tell us that if we want to have eternal life, we HAVE to have hope. I had never realized that before! Hope in Jesus Christ and His Atonement is essential to obtaining eternal life. And as we talked about it, we came to the conclusion that hope in eternal life (that through the atonement and resurrection we can all obtain eternal life) is really the only thing there is to have hope IN. Everything else comes back that - to our Heavenly Father's Plan for us. I don't know if that is making any sense, but it was an epiphany for me. Eternal Life really is the greatest gift God can give us. And so it is in eternal life, through our Savior Jesus Christ, that we have hope.

Happy Birthday to Alan! I hope it was a fun day with all the Conference goodness imaginable!

Today we are going to dye Easter Eggs with the Woodridge Sisters using the dye Shar and the Girls sent me for my birthday :) I'm excited. Happy Easter on Sunday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love Spring.

Love yous! (I told you the "yous" thing is a Chicago thing, right?)
Sister Hatch