Monday, January 30, 2012

Miracle Monday - and the week that came thereafter

Let's start with last Monday - Monday night, our investigator Paul calls us. He calls alot, and usually just to talk... but he's a great guy and needs lots of love and support right now. Anyway, he calls and I'm talking to him. He tells me about all these things that he knows aren't right but that following Jesus Christ is right, so then I ask him, since he knows these things are true, if he will be baptized. And he says yes! He was SO excited about it! He knew that it would be a wonderful blessing and he was just so excited! We had to go to an appointment right then, so he said he would pray for the people we were going to teach and that they would want to come to church because of how wonderful it was and everything was really great. Then we get to our appointment - which was with Don's neighbors that he referred us to because they are going to through a hard time right now, etc. Just as we pull up, so does someone else. A family gets out of the car and goes right up to the house we were about to go up to! They went inside, and we're sitting here awkwardly wondering what to do, because obviously our appointment just got company. Just then, Don comes walking up to the car (I have a picture of this, because he was bundled up so funny I couldn't resist) and startles us a bit, but he said he had talked to Jeff and Melissa and they were planning on us coming over, so to "get going!" We knocked on the door, and they let us in - and then ALL 4 of the adults sit down with us! The kids all went to their rooms to play, and Jeff, Melissa, Jennifer and Scott all stayed and talked with us. They had some awesome questions and seemed really interested in coming to church. Jennifer and Melissa even said they would try to come to the RS activity Wednesday night. So from one referral, we got 4 new investigators (TWO families!), and we got someone on date for baptism. All on a preparation day. It was awesome :)

And then the rest of the week happened... Jennifer and Melissa didn't come on Wednesday. And they didn't come to church either. Paul cancelled our appointment on Saturday and didn't come to church on Sunday. Cierra didn't come to church on Sunday. Kasey didn't come to church on Sunday. So we went from thinking we would have 7 or 8 investigators at church plus Cierra's mom and aunt, to having 3.

This week wasn't terrible though, in fact we had some really great appointments. We just also had quite a few disappointments... Mostly everybody falling through on church was the biggest thing. Well and Paul getting all weird over the weekend... but we had and AWESOME appointment with Rose this week and a really great lesson with Cierra which her mom joined at the end.

Rose has started listening to the Book of Mormon on CD while she drives to and from work (and Don just said that they were listening to it while running their errands on Saturday too). We went over on Friday and basically she just wanted to double check her understanding of what she had heard so far. She was amazing! Don was speechless (which NEVER happens) and Sister Stewart and I were just in awe at how much she had listened to and how much she had gotten out of it. It was really cool. They're not on date to be baptized yet, but it really is only a matter of time. I think the only hang-up right now is the Word of Wisdom. They need to quit smoking, but I think even more than that, it is a matter of understanding WHY we aren't supposed to drink coffee. They know smoking is bad for them, but they don't see what the big deal with coffee is. It's hard because Don KNOWS Joseph Smith was a prophet, and has a testimony of the Book of Mormon and I think Rose is really close to that point, but they still haven't quite gotten that if Joseph Smith was a prophet and said we shouldn't drink coffee, then that should be enough. I realize that they have to come to that point on their own.

Bummer about Nate's pneumonia! Awesome birds of prey stories! And that's super funny about Elder Thomas with the cups. hahaha. I got Sue's package today! It came on Tuesday, but I had to wait until today to pick it up, since the post office is out of our area. By like 10 feet mind you, but out of our area nonetheless...

Cierra is doing great. She was going to come to church on Sunday, but slept through her alarm :( We had an awesome meeting with her on Thursday though. We talked about prayer and she's just awesome. Every question we ask, she has the greatest answers to showing how much she understands her relationship to God and the importance of following Him. Then at the end, her mom came in and sat down with us while we watched some mormon messages. Sister Stewart has a DVD (which by the way, if you can find those DVD's at Deseret Book, I would LOVE them! They are great teaching tools. She has the one with "My New Life" as the last video so if there are others that would be a good place to start... though that one would still be good for when we're not companions anymore) with a bunch of them.

Anyway, Tina likes them, so we watched a couple and then had a really good discussion about forgiveness. 7 months ago, her sister, Samantha, was shot in the head by their mom's husband. It is a complete MIRACLE that she survived. She said that she is no longer angry about it, but that she's still not ready to forgive him. But I think where she's at, is a form of forgiveness. No, they haven't forgotten about it, but they have moved on. There are still suffering from the affects of it, but they are moving on with life. They are helping Samantha with her recovery, and they are a stronger family because of it. Tina and her fiance were going to get married last summer, but then this happened and they are now waiting until Samantha can be in the wedding - standing. Because soon she will be able to stand on her own again. She has made some incredible strides in her recovery in so short a time. This family is AMAZING. We also asked Cierra about baptism again, and she said that she talked to her mom about it, and at first she was pretty against it. But after they came to church, she opened up to it quite a bit. One of our members knew Tina from work - they knew each other well enough to recognize each other at least - and Cierra said that after talking to Sister Dodd, who told Tina she herself was a convert and that joining the church had "changed her life", that she was much more willing to consider Cierra getting baptized. That, on top of the fact that she has been joining us for the mormon messages the last few times, gives us hope that soon we will be able to teach them as a family. Cierra was really awesome too in switching from "student" mode to "teacher" mode when her mom joined and it was cool to see her sharing her testimony a little about these things.

And Mario came to church again! We weren't able to meet with him this week, but he still came to church! And he stayed for Sunday School this time. It was really cool, because the lesson was on baptism, but Sister Smith was focusing a lot on the repentance part - which is somehow I think what Mario needed, even though he totally doesn't have any big sins he needs to repent of or anything. (Mario is the one who when Sister Brown and I first met him, basically told us that he believed in and was living the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity) Anyway, we're going through the lesson, and Sister Smith says something about having a firm testimony. Mario raised his hand and asked if she could "elaborate on 'testimony' " which then led to the whole class having a really great discussion about what it means to have a testimony. Most of the people in there were converts and so it was cool to see them all working together to help Mario, and remembering what it was like for them investigating the church. Hopefully that was what he needed to be confident that he can join the church without knowing everything - but that he knows enough. We'll find out on Thursday.

Don cut our hair this morning and it was really fun. He is so funny and it was just great to be able to give him that joy of being able to practice his trade again. I'll send a few pictures that the other Sisters took.

I love LOVE LOVE you!
Your littlest one, your missionary, your Sister Ali

Monday, January 23, 2012

Liebe Familie,

Thank you SO much for your letters last week. They were perfect. I laughed - and cried. And it was great. Thank you for the advice and the words of comfort and love.

Last week I got a new pair of shoes. Don't worry, I didn't spend any money. A less active Philippino lady in our ward gave them to me. Haha. She said she had some shoes for me that she thought would fit me, because they didn't fit her, and I was thinking okay... Sister R...... - you are TINY. How could a pair of shoes intended to fit you possibly fit ME? And what on earth are they going to look like?? This woman is 84 years old mind you. And not that 84 year olds can't look good, but usually they don't have the same kind of shoes as 21 year olds... So the next time we went over, she had the shoes out. And they were Clark's - which is the brand of ALL the shoes I bought for my mission. And they were cute! And they fit perfectly. And I'm wearing them right now :)

And speaking of Philippinos... today Sister Stewart and I learned how to make Shanghai rolls (basically egg rolls) with another Philippino sister in our ward. It was super fun. She took us to the Asian grocery store and we mixed the meat and veggies and rolled them and fried them and then ate a TON! It was great. And they are surprisingly easy to make. I'll send a few pictures.

We have a new investigator! His name is Paul. We think his tendencies are possibly the affects of being an alcoholic for many years...? He's been sober for about a year and half though and doing great. He wants to devote his life to Jesus and we are excited to help him in that journey. I think the best way to describe him, is to say that he is childlike. He's hard to keep on target, and to get a straight, simple answer from, but he is completely devoted to God, so definitely worth the struggle of teaching. He calls us all the time. Seriously like 4-5 times a day. But he LOVED church, and he called the other night to say that he knows the Book of Mormon is true! yeah, he's great :)

So... random side note... but have you ever seen frost on the INSIDE of a car?? The other morning, we went out to start the car, and all the inside windows were completely covered in frost. It was the weirdest thing! I didn't know that could happen, but I guess that's what happens when you live in a humid place...

Yes we had our big storm! And it was like the Chicago winter I have been expecting. But then it got warmer again and turned into more of a Boise winter. It has been raining today and most of the snow is melted. Last week it was 8 degrees outside and it snowed all day. We had a Zone Meeting in Joliet on Friday which was when we got hit hard with the snow, so that was an adventure. We got there fine, but by the time we got out of our meeting, there were like 4 inches, and by the end of the night, there were probably 8-10 inches. The weird thing is that the snow is so light! I guess that's what happens when it is SO cold. The snow doesn't stick together at all because it's so frozen that there's no real moisture to it. And then it just blows everywhere. It makes shoveling both easier and harder...

[This is from my letter to President Doll this week, but I decided to just send it to you as well, so that a) you know a few of the things I'm feeling/thinking about right now, and b) I don't have to retype it]

A few "other" concerns: 1) I have been struggling to figure out how to share with people on the doorstep that our doctrine of eternal families is unique. It seems that most people we talk to already believe that they will be with their families again. While I know that we are unique because we actually have the AUTHORITY to make that happen, I don't know how to gracefully share that with people on the doorstep. Any ideas?

2) I feel like I'm not feeling the Spirit as much as I should be - or not following it enough in my teaching. I can't decide if this is because I have gotten "the hang of things" a little more now and so I am falling into the trap of leaning on my own understanding, or if this is because I am used to having the Spirit with me so much now as a missionary, that I just don't realize I'm following it. If that makes sense... In retrospect I can see things that I did and said that were definitelyprompted by the Spirit because it turned out to be exactly what that person needed, but I don't ever FEEL like I'm following a spiritual impression. I'm unsure if the Spirit is guiding my ideas for what to teach next, or if it is just me following what seems most logical.

3) There is so much to pray for!! How can I possibly do it all? I was reading this morning in PMG chapter 4 in the section about praying with faith because I was wondering if perhaps I was trying to pray for too many things for my investigators and our companionship and my family and friends, and I think if anything that made it worse, because then I read about even MORE things I should be praying for. But when do we ever have enough TIME to pray for all that? and still get to bed by 10:30?

Well I think that's about all for now... I LOVE YOU! And miss you - but not in a distracting way.
Vielen, vielen Liebe!
Sister Hatch

Pictures: 1) the weird geese statues everyone has here... and a lovely display of the array of clothes they give them. 2) you know you're in a missionary's apartment... when the dresser looks like this :) 3) our deck after the storm. 5) the finished egg rolls

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Winter has arrived and God answers prayers

It finally feels like winter in Chicago today. We did have one big "Chicago" style snow last week (where it snowed for literally 13 hours straight), but then it warmed up again, and this morning we went running outside for our exercise. Crazy! I walked outside in shorts and flip flops to do my laundry! This should not be possible. Apparently the weather realized what it had allowed me to do though, because it quickly turned cold and now there are little ice balls falling (though more like being driven - becuase of the wind) through the sky. I suppose I can't really complain about it snowing so much last week, because technically I prayed it in. Cierra's mom and step-dad make most of their money for the year by shoveling snow. We haven't had ANY snow yet worth shoveling for, so last Tuesday night I prayed that enough snow to give them some good work, wouldn't totally mess anyone else's prayers up, could we please have some snow for the Falbo family. Wednesday morning we got a text from the office telling us to be careful driving because a snow storm was expected on Thursday, and Thursday it snowed all day. We had 6 or 7 inches I'm guessing. God Answers Prayers.

Don said that cigarettes have started to have a funny taste to him. Like he hasn't brushed his teeth in 7 years. :) YUK!

Mom, I met that lady again who grew up in the 3rd ward and I got her name this time. Kaaren Nokleby - related to Lee's Candies. She knew RaeAnn too and a bunch of other people whose names I knew from stories from you and Grandma and Grandpa. It was fun talking to her.

Friday night I had my first experience with having my testimony rejected. True, I've had many people turn us away at doors, but I've never had my testimony rejected by someone that I love and care about before. Tom is an inactive member in our ward, and his wife Lynn is not a member. She is studying the Bible THOROUGHLY, but is not ready to accept or read the Book of Mormon, because she doesn't feel that that is what God is telling her to do. We meet with them every week though, hoping that she will accept it soon, and in an effort to strengthen Tom. We have really great discussions with them, but she's still not ready for the BoM. Friday night, I bore a brief testimony about the Book of Mormon, and how it contains the same teachings of Jesus and does the Bible and I said that I knew she wasn't to that point yet, but that when she gets there I know she will feel that too. And then she said, "I love you. But I don't think I'll EVER be there." That really hurt! I shared something with her that means SO much to me and she doesn't want it! And I shared it with her because I love HER so much. But she doesn't want it. And while it hurt to have her say no, I'm not sorry that I shared my testimony of it with her. Because I did it out of love. And this has given me a new conviction that I need to love everyone at EVERY door better than I do, so that when I bear my testimony of these things at their door, they can feel that it truly is out of love for the Savior, for the Book of Mormon, and for them.

You had 7 investigators at church???!!?!!? That's AWESOME! How are they doing it?? The fact that we had THREE this week was a major step up for us.

Another miracle and another answered prayer. Yesterday I was trying to think of who would be a good visit buddy to go to Kasey's tonight when Sister Stewart and I have to do splits. Sister Charles is always a favorite choice just because she's so awesome (seriously this woman is INCREDIBLE) but I wanted to make sure she would be the right one. I prayed about it and felt okay about calling her, and as no one else came to mind, I decided to ask. I made one other call first, and then called Sister Charles. She was at Ikea taking apart a shelf so that she could fit it in her car and then put it back together at her apartment and she desperately needed help. Our morning appointment had been cancelled, so we quickly threw on our shoes and ran over to help her. We finished that up and then helped her put it all back together at her apartment. I told her about what had led to me calling and then she told us a story. When she and her son had moved to Georgia, they had a lot of trouble finding help unloading the moving truck. After working ALL day in the sweltering heat, and only getting halfway done, she expressed that they could not do this alone in that heat. The next day they went back to the storage unit to finish unloading and they realized the work was going much quicker. And then they realized that it was 20 degrees cooler than the day before. She had said they couldn't do it alone in that heat, so Heavenly Father made it cooler for them, so they could finish the job. She was remembering that Ikea, so very specifically prayed that she could not do THIS particular task alone - with no mention of the weather or other conditions. And that's when I called. GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS.

Lots and lots of love!
Love, Sister Hatch

Monday, January 9, 2012

Losing Lizzie


Thanks for the idea to give Rose a Daughters in My Kingdom book, Mom! I think that's a great idea and that she will LOVE it. Did I tell you we are going to get her the Book of Mormon on CD? So that she can listen to it in the car going to and from work. She's excited for them. Don and Rose are doing so well!!!!! They are really working on keeping the Word of Wisdom and and starting to smoke MUCH less than they were. They are also working on giving up coffee, though Rose is a little more hesitant on that one. Seeing how far she has come with everything else though, I'm not too worried about it. She told Brother Anderson and Brother Ioannou (ee-oo-wa-noo) yesterday that she can tell a difference in her week from when she goes to church and when she doesn't. She knows that when she comes to church she'll be able to get through the week no matter what happens. !!!!!! SO EXCITING! Brother Anderson and Ioannou went over yesterday to give them both a blessing because Rose has been having some health problems and Don still has lots of pain from his osteoarthritis (and they are trying to quit smoking) and today Don said that they both felt warm all over when they gave them the blessings. (Happy! Happy! Happy! That's what that makes me.)

We also asked Don if he would cut our hair for us and the other missionaries close by because he was a barber for 41 years but can't work now because of his osteoarthritis and he got so excited! It was awesome to be able to see like that. Sister Stewart came up with the idea as a way to help him feel like he is needed. He also found out what our family crest is apparently. He really likes family history work... He is so funny. I wish you could all meet him.

About Sister Stewart: She is really sweet and very genuine and sincere. She has so much love for our brothers and sisters all around us! She has had some really great insights for our investigators already, and I think she will be a wonderful companion to work with. She is really focused on meeting the needs of everyone we meet and I want to learn from that example.

A crazy tale, which I like to call "Losing Lizzie": Thursday afternoon we decided to stop by Lizzie (I think I told you about the miracle of how we found her, right?) She had to cancel our second appointment, and we never heard from her after that, so when her name came to mind on Thursday, we decided to follow up with the impression. Well Lizzie wasn't there. And neither was her house. I swear it was like Harry Potter and 12 Grimmauld Place. Only there were no missing numbers! Just her missing house! I had written down that it was number 4, but I KNOW it wasn't number 4. Number 1 was abandoned just as I remembered and I am 99.9% positive that it wasn't house number 2 or 3 either. I seriously have no idea what happened to her house! It still boggles my mind.

After feeling a little out of sorts for the whole losing Lizzie incidence on Sister Stewart's first real day of working in Woodridge, in combination with a couple of epically failed stop-by's to some potentials, I was struggling. We had planned to stop by Mario who is the most golden potential (very soon to be current) investigator EVER, but it was still early and we needed more to do before seeing him. We decided to try a less active member in our ward, Jess. She was home! Which was a miracle in itself, and then she let us in. We had a really great discussion with her about how she wants to come back to church and be a better mom and all that good stuff. Sister Stewart had some divine revelation to make a calendar with her to help her set goals to get back on track and she was really excited about doing that. We went back to see her today, but her son was sick, so we said a prayer with them and are going to reschedule. Then we went to see Mario and it was so great! We have an appointment with him tomorrow. He is seriously so awesome! He wants to do what is right SO BADLY! But he just hasn't known where to look, or that there are other people out there like him. We are really excited to finally be able to start teaching him.

Another MIRACLE: On Friday we went to work on Cherokee Dr, and it was my turn to pray. I prayed that we would "find a miracle" and that singular use of the word turned out to be quite significant. (Usually I would have said "miracleS" but this time it just felt like I should be more specific.) We knocked a few doors, and then someone pulled up into the driveway as we were approaching. We waited for her and then told her who we were. We could tell she was having a rough day, so when we showed up she had some groceries to take in we offered to help. She said that she would be alright, but we both just stayed. When she realized we weren't going anywhere, she agreed to let us help. We took them in for her and then she had us sit down. We learned that she had some breathing problems, so the help with the groceries was actually a HUGE blessing to her! Then she told us some of her story and the difficult things she is going through right now. (The crazy part is that as she was telling her story, part of what she said was something that I KNOW I have heard her say before in a dream or something! I know I have some sort of connection with this dear Sister now and the Lord has a work for me and Sister Stewart to do in helping her) We were able to share the Book of Mormon with her and promise her that as she reads she will feel peace and our Heavenly Father's love for her. We set a return appointment as well. She needs us, and we were all able to recognize the Lord's hand in bringing us together. She mentioned that she had been wandering around the store and then decided it was time to come home. If she had come two minutes later, we would have completely missed her.

Sister Stewart and I have been working really hard this week, and I am exhausted! It's a really good exhaustion though, because I know I'm working hard and we have met some really incredible people. I love you so much!!!!!!

How are Grandma and Grandpa doing? How about Norah? The rest of my wonderful family?

Love YOUS! (apparently it's a Chicago thing to say "yous"...)
Sister Hatch

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


First things first. A Christmas miracle: Sister Worlton gave us some of her homemade jam for Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Strawberry, Peach, Pear and Plum.
Oh my yummy!

Also - how the heck did it get to be 2012 already??? Happy New Year! Where on earth has time gone though?

I got a letter from Tanya. It was great. Tell her thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Would it be possible for anyone to find me some sheet music (for a duet, trio or quartet) for the song "How Can I Keep from Singing?" ? When Dad set me apart he said that I would be able to use my singing voice to help share the Spirit and I have been trying to think of ways to do that, and this is the first idea I've had...

So, about Sunday: CIERRA CAME TO CHURCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Waaaaahh! I'm still so excited about it! She texted us around 10:15 and said that they were getting ready and we were just giddy the rest of the morning because she would finally be there! She and her mom showed up just before the meeting started, so we didn't have time to introduce them to anyone, but that's alright. They were THERE. Then the opening song was Hymn #291 "Turn Your Hearts" which is all about Malachi... I was mortified. Of ALL the songs they could have chosen. Really? We're going to sing about Malachi today?? Don't they know we have an investigator here for the first time??? yeah... and then it got worse. The youth speaker announced that he had been asked to speak on Temples and Baptisms for the Dead. Awesome... THIS is what Cierra needs her first week at church. To get freaked out because we baptize dead people...

All the speakers actually did a really great job though of explaining that temple work is on behalf of the dead and done in proxy. And they didn't seem to be too freaked out, so that was nice. No, it actually turned out fine and once I calmed down a bit and realized that Heavenly Father must have had a reason for having THAT be the day they talked about Temples, I was okay. Who knows, maybe something from those talks really touched them and was the piece they needed to maintain (in Cierra's case) or gain (in her mom's) interest in the church. God is in charge though, and He'll take care of it. If those talks weren't for them, he at least knew that they would be okay with them. I just have to trust Him. After Sacrament meeting, I was able to have a really good conversation with her mom, Tina, and finally get to know her story a little and bear my testimony to her that despite how hard life has been for her, and the disappointments she has experienced, God does love her. It was pretty cool.

Oh! It was also super awesome, because as soon as the meeting was over, Sister Dodd who was sitting right behind us started talking to Tina and I guess they work at the same place. Then other ward members and the bishop all started coming over to meet them. I LOVE OUR WARD!!! Cierra also recognized a couple of the kids from school, so that was cool too.

Another very exciting part about Sunday was this: I stood up after Sacrament meeting was over, and since Sister Dodd was talking to Cierra and Tina, I was just looking around the chapel. And then I saw Leah Hoogland. !!!!! It was so weird to see someone that I knew from pre-mission life. So much fun though. She is in the 1st ward that now with the time change meets right before we do. She said when she saw the Elders serving in her ward, she grabbed them and wouldn't let them escape until she found out if they knew me and how to get ahold of me. Haha. They told her not to worry and that I would be coming with the next ward. It was so good to see her! They live just outside of my area, but she said she might be able to meet us in our area on a preparation day or something.

Saturday night we got a call telling me that I would be staying here in Woodridge 2 and that my new companion would be Sister Stewart. The ward was so relieved that I would be staying, because apparently the last few times they got Sisters, they didn't stay for very long, and even that was a couple of years ago. It was nice to feel so loved though that they wanted me to stay and didn't want to see Sister Brown go.

So this morning we went to transfers and I met Sister Stewart. She is really tall, which means that together we will be the tallest companionship of Sisters in the mission! haha. It also means that I won't be the giant companion any more! Because even though I'm really not that big, next to Sister Brown, (and Sister Kearnes, and just MANY of my roommates...) I'm tired of being the giant. Perhaps this is one reason Juliette and I are such good friends?? ;)

Sister Stewart seems really great and I think we are going to get along just fine. I'm excited to be staying in the area, and it will be fun to learn some new styles of doing missionary work as I learn from her. I'll tell you more about her next week, when I actually know a little more. I can tell you though that she is from Oregon, though her family lives in Utah now. Both of her parents are from Idaho (Rigby and Hunt) Wasn't Grandpa born in Rigby?

In an appointment with Don the other day he said that he and Rose were talking about it, and they determined that Sister Brown and I would "make great wives". Hahaha! I love that they were talking about that. It was a really nice compliment, but it was just funny. Especially since he told us that in the middle of the lesson. Oh Don...

Well I think that's all for now.

I love you lots and lots and lots!

Love, Sister Hatch

  • Sister Stewart!
  • the park at the end of Don's street.
  • bundled up for winter - the first day of the big puffy coat.
  • pants that match the bulletin board at church. Thank you for sending me new PJ's! those ones were getting a little old...