The Best Christmas of My Life

image1On Tuesday, my 11 month mark, we celebrated the only way we could think of – tracting Timberlake Drive while coming up with missionary lyrics to his songs. Haha, such girls!

Wednesday was nuts! We had so many teaching appointments all day long! We didn’t get a lunch or a dinner hour. Luckily Sis. Ewell thinks of these things and packed us snacks. We were running from one thing to the next. It started with district meeting in the morning. After the meeting we used the remaining minutes to create a short video of our elders playing nose whistles. This is the video we sent in to be viewed at the mission party. Being a missionary is the best.

On Thursday the nicest old lady in the world, Millie, took us to lunch. She met us at the library when we were doing service and she gave us her number to call her so we could go to lunch. People here are just sooooo nice! I wish I had a picture of us with her, she’s an angel. I do have this picture with a huge Clydesdale in the church parking lot. We were practicing our musical number and then walked out and, bam, horse.image2

Friday I had my first fish fry Friday! I’ve heard about it and seen signs at restaurants, but I hate fish, so why would I eat fish and chips – gross. Well I’ll tell you why, because our best friend in the ward, a hilarious British man, invited us over for homemade fish and chips. He did it all while we were there and his friend from Scotland came over. They’re both actors and just a riot together. So many cool accents in one room. It was hilarious. The fish wasn’t good at all, but there is no place I would have rather been than in that little apartment with the people we were with. It’s moments like that I wish I could capture and keep forever.

Saturday, the Christmas conference was soooo much fun! Baptism, talent show, mannequin challenge, white elephant, lunch, friends, devotional, musical numbers (a few of us sang O, Holy Night. Why do I get myself into these things. It was amazing! How did I get called to the greatest mission?! Love these two!image3

Wow, Sunday, Christmas. Honestly the best Christmas I’ve ever had. Church was incredible. Powerful musical numbers, a great speaker and we had Aimy, her boys, her boyfriend, and less active friend there as well. My heart was just soo full of joy, I can’t even describe it. Then the Ward members took care of us the rest of the day, they are incredibly nice to us.

Well, this has been the best Christmas season of my life. I thought it would be really hard, but inviting others to come unto Christ during this time when everyone is thinking of Him has been such a blessing and a privilege. Lighting the world isn’t over, however, “let’s make it last all year.” I’m so grateful to be serving the Lord right here, right now, and forever.

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The Most Interesting Week of My Life

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This was without a doubt the most interesting week of my life. Oh my goodness. Hold on to your seats. Or wait for me to send the pictures and just look at those, I’m sure that’s what most of you do. 

 MONDAY: best birthday ever! The rumors are true, I got my ears pierced! The ladies at Walmart were really confused why I was 21 and getting my ears pierced for the first time haha, I just never got around to it before! Then we ate yummy Paula’s Donuts, went shopping at the mall with a bunch of elders, that night we went to the ward ‘Buffalo Bells’ concert at a Catholic church, and then dyed my hair! This time it really is a few shades darker and it’s permanent. Ears pierced and new hair for the new 21 year old Tessa. AAAAA! One of the members in the ward bought me a cake as well. It was such a good day.

TUESDAY: Saw a cat get neutered. Yep. You read it right. We were doing service at the cat shelter and Sister Ewell comes in asking if we want to see a kitten get neutered. Ummmmmmm okay? So sure enough, they took us back as companionships and we watched them sedate the kittens and do the surgery. What in the world…My thoughts, “What am I doing right now? Why am I in New York? How did I get to this point where I am seeing a kitten get fixed?” A lot of existential questions. My life. Haha all I can say is what-in-the-world. That day we also met MARTHA! She was a former investigator and we stopped by and helped her shovel and scrape her car. She had met the elders but could never have them come inside so she is very excited to have sisters here. We’re going back this week to bake cookies and teach the Restoration! Sister life is awesome. Her son’s family are all Mormon and she has a grandson preparing for a mission. We are very excited for Martha.

THURSDAY: was freezing! Negative temperatures the whole day. We planned to do service at the library and they were kind enough to let us do some dusting to remain indoors. I heard it once said, “If you can survive a winter in Buffalo, you can survive anything.” Bring it on. My Nevadan companion is not enjoying it. Pray for her and her body that’s sore from slipping.

FRIDAY: Miracle of the mission. We got a call from a lady in Arizona saying her friend lives in East Aurora and wanted a priesthood blessing after being diagnosed with a horrible disease. So we call up Aimy and set up a time to come by with the elders. We came the next morning and had the coolest experience. Literally one of the most spiritual visits ever. She was able to really connect with one of the elders who was supposed to be going home that day but for complications is staying for a few more weeks. They explained priesthood blessings and gave her one and it was so amazing. Not a dry eye in the room. She wants to come to church and be taught! And she is friends with an inactive member we visited who said she’s not interested in coming back to church or having us come visit again. So Aimy reaches out to her and says, “Do you want to come to the Mormon church with me?” Inactive friend tells her that she’s been wanting to come back but wasn’t comfortable doing it, but will come with Aimy and no one else! MIRACLES! Aimy is our new best friend. She is amazing. Then that night we had a Nerf war with a couple of the young families in the ward as a combined birthday bash for the three of us missionaries. We’ve been celebrating birthdays all week, it’s been great and this Nerf war was so much fun and much needed after hearing about grandpa’s death earlier that day.
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SATURDAY: Carolcade. Literally the coolest thing EVER! I’ve told you how much we LOVE East Aurora, especially their cute main street. Well, each year they block off Main Street and everyone gathers to sing Christmas carols! Talk about magical! You could’ve convinced me we were walking on Main Street Disneyland. The elders didn’t want to go, “‘cuz it’s cold, and raining, and wawawa” well we dragged them along and it was so much fun. As we entered the streets they handed us bags of roasted chestnuts and a program with about 30 Christmas songs printed in it. In the middle of the street is a lone man on a stand with a tuba band (haha, that’s a funny sentence) leading the street in song. They were trying to break a record so there was close to 3,000 people there! All singing along, drinking hot chocolate and having the best time ever! It was so cool. 

So yeah, this week was filled with lots of miracles and so many hilarious moments. I haven’t laughed so much ever. Our teaching pool has shifted from young single men to old women haha, so we’re excited. I cannot even comprehend the fact that it’s Christmas this week. What in the world. So excited to see and talk to you.

Oh how I love Christmas. But don’t forget the Christmas story in the Book of Mormon..3 Nephi 1:13-“Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.” 

Lift up your heads and be of good cheer! Christ lives and is the light of my world! 
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Snow For My New York Birthday!

image7Wow, how did I get so lucky to have my birthday land on a Pday? AAAND it’s snowing so beautifully for me right now. As you know that’s all I ever want for my birthday. It’s great. We’ve gotten a lot of snow this week and we busted out the winter boots. YAY!! It is also two other elders’ birthdays this week in my district so we have been having some joint celebrations at members’ homes. It’s been a blast. img_4623Our ward Christmas party was on Friday. It was so much fun, I love this ward. We performed our bells number. It wasn’t our best performance, but we had so much fun. You might have seen the video on FB, if not I’ll send one. 15337626_10155025161127780_7065781408984492591_nWe’ve been doing a lot of finding this week. I’m so lucky to also be best friends with my companion. It makes finding so much more fun. We’ve been using the Light The World video and the Christmas season to meet so many cool people. We found a potential family we have high hopes for so stay tuned. 

Yesterday was the stake Christmas choir festival thing. Orchard Park had the best number. Our choir is more than twice the size of most of the other ones and we had bells accompany us. That’s what you get when a former Tabernacle Bell Ringer is your director.
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This little dog, Gizmo, is CRAZY! I will always hate cats, but I am getting better with small dogs.
 
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We had to cook for ourselves a couple times this week but we were so proud of our creations we had to document it. Yes, I’m learning how to take care of myself and eat real food while on my mission. Just kidding, all I’ve eaten is ginger snaps since mom’s package came.
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New York LOVES to decorate for Christmas. This house had some unusually large nutcrackers so we had to take pictures. This was also a blessed house because they actually watched our video. image5
The missionaries of Orchard Park. This was after our bells practice. I would say it’s our district but I forget we have a MEGA district with 3 other missionaries. It’s just for a little bit before missionaries start going home for Christmas. Still, this is a pretty good group right here. 
We taught CTR 7 again yesterday. Our first mistake was rewarding them with Sour Patch Kids when they answered questions. They were bouncing off the walls! We love our class. They might as well call us to be the permanent teachers. 
I was reading in Jacob 5 yesterday, such a great chapter. I’ll leave you all with a verse. 72-And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things.  It’s such a joy to be laboring side by side with the Lord in this part of His vineyard. This is the Lord’s work, and He can do His work! Life is so good. Love and miss you all!

We Escaped the Transfer!

image6Happy day! SISTER EWELL AND I ARE STAYING TOGETHER IN Orchard Park FOR ANOTHER TRANSFER! Can you believe I’ve been here for a whole transfer? I can’t. Holy guacamole. We got transfer emails last night and we both held it together and were calm, then as soon as we got into the car we just started screaming. For the past two years this ward has gotten sisters this time of year and they only stay for one transfer and then leave right before Christmas. We’ve broken the sisters’ record and get to spend the holidays in our beloved Orchard Park. TOGETHER! Woohooo! Our ward is ecstatic.

In other news, this week was great. We did some finding, some teaching and some service. All great things. Also we had interviews with President Evans which is always great. And Sister Evans came as well so it was great to see them both. 
Things we did…
-Setting up Christmas for two families in the ward. The one just had a little baby and she has two toddlers, so we set up her tree and helped with some other things around the house. The other ward member has a really hurt back and said that if she didn’t set up Christmas her family wouldn’t do it and so we went and set up for her as well. 
-service at the cat shelter. Cleaning/organizing their basement. I will hate cats for the rest of my life.
-lesson with Evan 2.0. We are in the midst of passing him off to the YSA elders. He’s very excited about it. 
-setting up a book sale at the library. The library/historic society LOVES us.
-helping another ward member fill bags of “reindeer food” at her work for the Santa festival this week
-we started a scripture study in the ward on Thursday nights. This was the first week. We were supposed to have Evan and other investigators, instead we had a couple of youth, but it was good because now that we got it started they’re going to invite their friends and we’ll have a lot of people there next time. I love scripture study. Also that night we didn’t have a dinner appointment, so we put stuff in the crockpot at lunch and made so much that we just fed our district at the church. Our district has been so much fun this transfer, we’re sad to be losing two of the elders.
-bells practice. See Dad for video.
-Yesterday during Gospel Principles we got flagged down by the Primary president and asked if we could sub for third hour. We had the cutest class of seven year olds. Unfortunately the lesson she gave us was the same one they heard last week, so we ended up playing red light green light for the majority of the hour.
-CAROLING! Our new tracting approach is the “live Christmas card.” It starts with us singing Joy to the World as they come to the door, and everyone just loves that, then we tell them we are delivering a live Christmas card and ask if we can come in and share a two minute Christmas video with their family. Sometimes they ask what church we are and kindly say no, but we were able to get into a couple of doors and we had some AWESOME experiences. We took one of the Young Women in the ward, Anna Bagley. It worked so well, it’s our approach for the next month, now to figure out how to transition into them having us back to teach the Restoration…
-Speaking of Anna Bagley, today for Pday our district gathered at McDonald’s to watch her attempt to eat an entire dinner box (two Big Macs, two cheeseburgers, six nuggets, and four small fries) She did all of it but three of the fries! It was crazy impressive. She is the tiniest little teenager and she stuck the nuggets in the Big Macs and then smushed the cheeseburgers and ate those together. Truly impressive. 
So many reasons to have joy. It’s Christmas time, people’s hearts are softened, Sister Ewell and I aren’t getting transferred, and we have the coolest message EVER! Now if we could only get some snow….

image4Miss and love you all! Hope the Christmas initiative is working for everyone and that you’re all feeling closer to the Savior this Christmas season.

I Joined the (bell) Choir!

image1This week I joined a bell choir. That’s right. Sister Collett, our in-ward Bells on Temple Square ringer/Young Womens president taught the district a song to be performed at the Christmas party. IT WAS SO COOOOL! Life dream accomplished. It’s going to be awesome.

image4Tuesday was good ole zone conference. We’re having zone conference every transfer instead of every other now. Same goes for interviews. We had a lot of good trainings and it’s always a blast. That night we dyed my hair! That’s a first. It was a mid-mission crisis. Plus this time of year I just need a change. It wasn’t very noticeable to begin with and now it’s really faded. That was an adventure.

Wednesday we went with the Activity Day girls to the food pantry. They’d done a food drive so we were helping them deliver their stuff. That morning we also helped the Orchard Park Historic Society decorate their center. That was fun. Old people are hilarious.

We taught a couple of lessons to our Evans. Finally found the first Evan. We had to go to his work and buy pizza to meet him. It was a sacrifice, but I’ll eat pizza if it means meeting an investigator. Yesterday Evan 2.0 came to sacrament meeting! He got a new tattoo yesterday and what did the speaker talk about? How evil tattoos are. Then we taught Sunday school.

image5Yesterday it snowed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE SNOW!!! Not so much driving in it, but everything else. Miracle: We were in East Aurora yesterday and I was itching to go tracting before our dinner appointment. We knocked all around the neighborhood and finally the nicest lady answered. She let us come in and get warm (Sister Ewell was frozen), and we asked her if she had any tips for the winter. She talked about having a good hat and we mentioned that yeah, we were talking about how we need to get some hats, and then her husband went and gave us a couple! Wow, so kind! And they took a Book of Mormon. The people here are soo nice.

Service this week included cutting shapes for story time at the library, pulling out dead plants at the nature center, Christmas decorating and cleaning bloody cat sneeze off the walls of the cat shelter. YUCK!! I love all of it but the cat.