Monday, June 24, 2013


Man, the time really does fly by!  I didn't believe it when people said they felt like they were just at the computer and now are back again but it is true!  The days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days.  And this week has certainly flown by!
So this week, we have done a lot of tracting, trying to find new people to teach.  As of right now, we only really have one person that is progressing like we want them to.  Her name is Helga; she is a grandma and takes care of 7 little kids under the age of 8.  She is such a sweet lady and is really accepting and eager to learn more but is struggling with some personal and family problems right now.  She was supposed to be baptized this Saturday but this week told us that she wants to push it back till the 31st of August because then hopefully life will settle down for her.  So that was kind of a bummer but she comes to church every Sunday with her kids and is excited to be baptized in August (I guess the 31st is her birthday as well so she wants her new life to start the day she was born).  Speaking of kids at church, if anyone has any good ideas or games that would be good for Sacrament meeting, please let me know!  We are putting together a 'mommy bag' for when we bring investigators to church and want something to help with the kids so the parents can actually pay attention in the meeting. 
We have another guy, Ricky, that works at a group home.  It's funny how we met him.  So we were out tracting (knocking on doors) and we go by this home and there is this guy sitting out front.  You can kind of tell how he was acting and looked that he had some kind of mental handicap.  But the gospel is for everyone!  So we went up and started a converstation with him.  His name is Jeff and he came over on the Tuscany ship in 1492.  I guess it was quite an adventure.  So Ricky, he saw us talking to Jeff and came out to see what we were doing.  We introduced ourselves and he said he was interested and wanted to know more!  So we sat down outside with him (Jeff kind of walked around us) and started teaching him.  He seems pretty interested so we'll see how that goes!  But while we were talking, Jeff told us that he was there at the Sermon at the Mount and that he and Jesus were best buds.  I think that it is going to be fun ;) 
Sisters Verkist and Nunn are Sister Training Leaders for the zone,  they are like zone leaders but over the sisters.  Because of that, they have to go on exchanges with the sisters in our zone.  Sooooo, on Thursday they went to Fallon, NV and I went out with some other sisters our area....Spanish speaking.  That was an adventure!  My conversations usually went like this, "hola!" *smile, nod, smile, nod etc...* "adios!".  Even though I understood less than 20% of the conversation (thank you high school Spanish!) it was fun to listen to the lessons.  I could feel the Spirit so strong and testifying that what the Sisters said was true.  It was such a neat experience!  And the people were so nice.  One lady pulled me into a hug and kissed me on both checks and then just started talking (really fast!!) in Spanish.  I was just like, "Sorry, I don't speak Spanish."  Then her husband says, great!  Then we can say whatever we want about you and you won't know!  Then he turns to the Sisters and says something and they start laughing.  So of course I get bright red and asked what he said.  Apparently he said that I have beautiful eyes...they remind him of grapes.  Haven't heard that one before!
One thing that really stood out to me this week was a devotional given by the Stake President.  Every transfer he has all the missionaries come to his house for breakfast and then he welcomes the new people to the area.  This transfer, he talked about miracles.  Our God is a God of miracles and missionary work CANNOT happen without miracles.  He challenged each of us to pray everyday for miracles and then expect them to happen.  My companions and I have really taken that to heart.  On Saturday, after the devotional and before our studies, we got on our knees and asked God if He would give us miracles that day, specifically that we would be able to find someone who is ready to hear the gospel and that we could teach.  Almost right after the prayer, we get a phone call from two less active ladies that we have been working with for the longest time.  We invite them to church every week but they always have some excuse or another.  The purpose of the phone call was to tell us that they were coming to church this Sunday (and they did!) and that they would be there every Sunday after that as well.  Talk about fantastic!  Then later that day we went out tracting with some of the youth in the ward.  We split up the street and started down it.  The first few houses were like normal...."no thank you, we have a religion", "get lost",  no answer, etc.  but then at the next house, there is a guy outside cleaning out his car.  We start talking to him and he is super friendly and open with us about God and religion and his beliefs.  Then his wife comes home.  We ask if we can share a message of Christ and they invite us in!  It was a great talk and we left a Book of Mormon with them.  They invited us to their church (the way they phrased it sounded like they thought it was us that needed saving) but said we could come back AND they gave us 4 strawberry plants.  I have no idea what we are going to do with them but there you go.  At the next house, a lady opens the door and has heard about Mormon's and some of our beliefs.  So she is asking us questions and throwing scriptures at us, she was super knowledgeable, it was so much fun!  Sis. Nunn shared the First Vision with her.  It was so powerful; you could see her tearing up and could see the Spirit testify to her that it was true.  One of her concerns was that she didn't think that there was anything else out there, the Bible should be enough.  So I asked her if there WAS more truth out there, wouldn't she want to have it?  That stopped her for a moment.  She still seemed skeptical but agreed to take the Book of Mormon and really read and pray about it.  She was sincere!  I don't know if anything will come out of those two meetings but it really was miracles for us and an answer to our prayers!  I know that Heavenly Father truly does hear our prayers and that He will, without question, always answer them.  He wants to bless us!  He is just waiting for us to ask. 
Well that's that from Nevada for this week!  Hope you all have a fantastic week!
Sis. Rae

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

From the Mission President

June 12, 2013

Dear parents and loved ones:
I am pleased to let you know that your missionary has arrived safely in the Nevada Reno Mission.   Sister Hermansen and I are so grateful to have them join the ranks of our committed and faithful missionaries. 
Please send all mail directly to your missionary.  They will let you know their physical address on Monday when they write.  Any mail sent to the Mission Office will be forwarded the next day but the US Postal Service prefers that we not forward too much mail.  E-mail should be sent through using your missionary’s personal e-mail address.  
We have a wonderful Mission Blog.  You can see pictures and updates from time to time at the following website:
Attached are the following items:
·        Your missionary with Sister Hermansen and I
·        A picture of the group that arrived together
·        Your missionary with their new trainer or the missionaries they stayed with their first night until they meet their companion  
·        A letter from your missionary to you
Thank you for sharing your wonderful missionary with us.  We assure you of our interest and concern for their happiness, safety, and success as they serve in this great mission.
With every best wish,
David N. Hermansen
President, Nevada Reno Mission
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
1146 Prater Way
Sparks, NV  89431

Monday, June 17, 2013

Greenie Fire

So I have survived my first week as an 'official' missionary.  The MTC doesn't really count. My first impressions of Nevada....slot machines.  That was the first thing that I saw when I walked off the plane.  They lined the walls throughout the whole entire airport.  Gotta love Nevada ;)  Brown.  I have never seen any place so brown in my life.  But everyone has roses and are always watering their lawns so they are all green until you get to a house or place that isn't watered.  The difference is really funny!  Also, everyone has dogs.  Their dogs even have pet dogs.  I have a feeling that I really am not going to like dogs by the end of these 18 months.  Week one and I already have had to run from a dog that was lose (and not very nice) in one of the areas we were walking in.  
So we got here on Tuesday around noon and we met Pres. and Sister Hermansen and were in meetings for a while just to let us know some mission rules and safety and other fun stuff.  There were 30 new missionaries that come in this transfer; the largest group they have had yet!  When we boarded the plane a guy was talking on his phone and said something along the lines of, "most of the plane is missionaries, they must be turning over the whole state of Nevada!".  We got lots of comments like that at the airport.  It was weird to be out in public as a missionary and not have everyone around you be a missionary; people look at you different!  We had about a hundred of us that came from the MTC so people were grabbing their phones and taking pictures and videos of the group of us coming in.  It was fun ;)  But that night we got our assignments and companions!  I am assigned in the Sparks 2nd Ward with Sis. Nunn and Sis. Verkist.  They are super cool. 
 My first night, we saw a plane flying over and sis. Nunn turns to me and asks, "How close do you think that plane is?"  I say I have no clue, maybe right above town?  "Nope!  It's about 18 months away, but you see that plane over there?  It's only 8 months away."  They have both been out about a year and love throwing things at people.  I was coming out of the bathroom one night and they attacked me with nerf guns, pillows, and some beanbags we have laying around.  Like I said, they are pretty cool and dedicated missionaries.  Sparks is a pretty big city that borders Reno and is where the Mission home is.  We live about a 5 minute walk from the mission home in the ghetto.  Our neighbors are....interesting.  My first night I came home to the smell of weed and rap music, our apartment is really nice though!  I like it there.  We actually live out of our area; we have the upper/middle class side of town so it is a nicer area to tract in and walk around in.  We do have a car (just because Sis. Verkist and Nunn are training leaders) but we use our bikes quite a bit.  
So we have two investigators that we are teaching and are set with baptismal dates so hopefully I will have news of those coming up in the next couple weeks!  This week was busy, we had 22 lessons!  Our goal was 20 and I guess that neither of them have had so many in a week before.  Sis. Nunn calls it my greenie fire...hopefully we can keep it up!  I love being out here.  It is the most fantastic thing every to see people you taught come to church and sit with us and make changes in their lives.  I know that I have only been out a week  but you can still see it!!  We only have two investigators right now so we have spent a lot of time tracting and looking for other people to teach.  My first full day out they only did one door and then made me do the second one.  Talk about intimidating!  It get's easier though and we have only had one door slammed so far, although we have had a couple people ask if they could pray for us to find our way out of our misguided ideas.  Those are always fun ;)  The people in the ward are great and really helpful to us.  So all in all, it's been a great first week and I'm looking forward to them getting better and better!
Love you all,
Sis. Rae
My apartment.

Sparks! You can see the casinos in the background.

Sunsets here are pretty.

Sis. Verkist with the extra Father's day candy!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Second and Last Week in MTC

First off, thank you everyone for all the birthday wishes and packages!  It was a pretty fantastic day :)  The Elders in our district would let everyone know it was my birthday when we walked from place to place so I got lots of songs and happy birthday wishes in many different languages.  It was pretty cool!
This week has all just blurred together and I have come to accept the fact that I am just going to be tired for the next 18 months of my life.  But it's a good tired!  Means I am actually doing something productive with my life once in a while.  So this week, lots of people left on Tuesday so the place was super empty Tuesday until Wednesday night and then it got even more crazy!  There were over 900 missionaries that entered the MTC this Wednesday!  I heard it got close to 1,000 and they are expecting even more next week.  How crazy is that?!  It's so fantastic.  Last week, I forgot to mention that Sis. Hartzfeld and I were assigned as Sister Training Leaders last Thursday and we are like Zone leaders except over the sisters in our branch.  So on Tuesday, we were asked to meet a sister that was coming into the zone from Australia and she was our third companion all Tuesday until the rest of her district arrived on Wednesday.  It was fun to introduce someone to the MTC and show them around and stuff.  Weird to think that that was us last week!  Then on Wednesday we went in during their ward meeting with the zone leaders and gave some rules and tips and then gave them a tour of the campus.  Even though we are only a week older, it was fun to take care of the 'new kids' and still to see them around the residence hall and stuff.  
So this week has been a week of teaching, and learning, and having fun!  We had 4 investigators that we have been teaching all this week.  They are people that are either converts that are acting out their own back stories, in active members, or people that are really investigating the church.  Talk about pressure!  It has made me realize how much I love the gospel.  I just want everyone to take it!  This will make you happy, just listen to what I have to say!!  It takes a lot of patience to have to slow down and actually listen and help people work through their concerns.  We also teach our teachers that role play investigators.  The teacher we have been teaching got sick though so we have been through 3 different people whereas everyone else just gets to teach the same person.  It is hard to have to adjust plans and start over every time and not get very far with one person!  It's been fun though and a good experience since that is what it is going to be like in the field!  
I love my district they are fantastic people and super fun to hang out with!  We have gym time every day and we go out to the outside (WOO!) field and play sand volleyball.  The other day we walk over there and the workers were sitting there and Sis. Renaurd goes up and asks "Could we maybe, please, get a volleyball?"  they kind of laugh and give her a hard time about how she asked so timidly.  She laughs too and then turns to them and says "I invite you to bring me a volleyball.  I know that if you do this, it will bring you happiness from serving us and allowing us the chance to play."  Can you guess what we were talking about in class right before? ;)  Also, Sis. Knight got a box of doughnuts from her family and she brought them outside on one of our breaks so we could eat them.  She started talking about how these doughnuts gave her such joy and that that if you partook of them, then they would bring you happiness and would infinitely bless your life.  She continued like that for a while...this missionary stuff is really taking over our lives! :)  Along with that, I tried one of the most interesting things in my life.  A maple, bacon, doughnut .  If you have not had one, stop reading this email right now, go buy one, and eat the most delicious thing of your life.  Not kidding.  Well, I have to let other people use this computer but the next email will be from Nevada, woo!!
Love you all!  Thanks for the letters and I will get back to you as soon as possible!
Sis. Rae

I just had to get a picture like Curtis's!

Top row; Elders Stevens, Reynolds, Price, and Blanch.  Front row; Sisters Ison, Webb, Catlett, Knight, Hartzfeld, Rae, Renouard, and Christianson.  

The sisters going to Reno:  Sis. Catlett, Rae, Hartzfeld, and Knight.

My district. :)

This is us sniffing the cream soda tree.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Hola family and friends!
I have officially survived my first week at the MTC! It has been great. Seriously, I have never felt the spirit so strong for such a long amount of time. It's like a whole different world out here, but a great one! So when I got dropped off, they took me in to get me my name tag (I HAVE A BADGE! :)) and dropped my stuff off at my room. Then I met my companion, went straight into classes and have been in classes and praying harder than I have in my whole entire life since then. My companion is Sister Hartzfeld from Oklahoma! She is super cute, favorite color is grey and loves sharks. We do most of our classes and teaching with our district which is kind of like your family out here. There are 12 of us total; 6 are going to Columbus, Ohio and the other 6 (including me) are going to Reno. There are two Elder companionships and 4 Sister companionships and half of the Elders and half of the Sisters are going to each place. It is amazing how fast you grow to love these people. There is something about feeling the spirit and praying together that just brings you together like nothing before. So it is going to be sad when we split up in our different areas! Another thing that I think is so cool about here is how many languages you hear! Everyone you pass greats you in the language they are studying and yesterday at breakfast some Elders came up to us and asked if they could bear their testimony to us in Figian! I didn't even know that was a language. But it was so cool because I had no idea what they were saying but you could definitely feel the Spirit so strong and testifying that what they were saying was true. And come to find out, they had only been here 3 days! Same as us! It's amazing what the Lord does to help further His work here on earth. Every second of our day here is planned out. I guess this week, they had over 700 missionaries arrive (when they usually have only about 200 this time of year) so everything is super scheduled to accommodate all the new missionaries. My day looks like this: wake up at 6:30, get ready and be to breakfast by 7:30, go to classroom instruction from 8-11; in classroom we study HOW to teach, not WHAT to teach and focus on learning the "language of the Spirit" and we have 'investigators" that we teach. Then we have Zone teaching for an hour where we mix with other districts and role play; sometime act out the part of the investigator and sometimes the part of the missionaries. It is amazing to me how even though these aren't real people we are teaching (we get those next week) I still have received revelation for these people! It was weird and kind of awkward at first to pray to find the needs of a person that isn't even 'real' but the Lord answers our prayers and it is such a great learning experience! I don't think I have ever had prayers answered so fast or so clear as I have hear. It has been very humbling and I can feel my relationship with God grow exponentially even though I have only been here 4 days! After zone teaching we have lunch from about 12-1:45 (they have outside vendors that we grab a pizza or sandwich from and then eat outside)then we get personal study time and doctrinal study time. Those are geared toward studying what you need to study for your investigators so that when you are in your lesson, you can know what to say and turn it over to the Lord. Then we have gym time! It is nice to get out and run around and not be in the books (however amazing those books are). Then we teach some more lessons and do more role playing and then at 5:10 we have dinner. It is so early! It has been hard to get used to but they have us eating so early so that other people can come in later and eat their dinner. After dinner we have more class time till 9:00. I love class time. We have some amazing teachers that really help us understand. The lessons are much more geared toward feeling the spirit and how to prepare and how to see people how the Lord sees them. It is much different than I expected! After class time, we have companionship planning session where we talk about what we should study the next day, how our investigators are progressing, things we can work on better as a companionship and things like that. Then we finally get to go home! We live in a dorm- type setting so 6 girls in a room and then there is a community bathroom. There are only 6 showers for a floor so it gets kind of pack but it still amazes me how smoothly thing run even though there are TONS of people here! We then get ready for bed, write in our journals (as much as we can) and then lights out by 10:30. I never thought that I would be so exhausted by 10:30 but I am! I have just resigned myself to the fact that I am going to be sleep deprived for the next 18 months. It a great mental work out here but so amazing at the same time. Later today, we get to go to the Provo temple, so I am super excited for that! Also, there are only certain computers here that have the ability to download pictures and those were full so I will get pictures to you next week of my district and companion! Also, word of advice to those preparing to serve missions, break the habit of saying 'guys'! That is the hardest thing for me to do! But we are supposed to address each other as Elder and Sister (which is so cool by the way, love it!) just because we do represent the Lord and we aren't 'guys' or 'dudes'. So that has gotten some taking used to. Sorry this is kind of scattered, my brain has a lot going on in it right now but if you have any questions let me know and I'll do my best to answer them!
Well, my time is up but I love you all and I will write you next week! :)
Love, Sister Rae