Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Reminiscing’s of a Returned Missionary

First off, I’d like to thank everyone who took their time to read the words of my journey each week. Your support is indescribable. I’ve now been released for two and a half weeks. It gets easier each day. Hopefully this post will help bring to light some of the feelings of those who freshly return from their missions.
Being released as a missionary was the hardest mountain I have ever had to climb. When my Stake President thanked me for my service and told me I could take my nametag off, it was all I could do to fall to my knees and thank my Saviour for every minute of my missionary service. When my nametag came off and I was just Charlotte again, hearing my name felt like an insult. It has been a journey to discover who Charlotte is again.
To say I miss my mission doesn’t even begin to cover my feelings. My mission did for more me in 18 months than the past 19 years of my life. There’s an underlying sadness to all that I do; a sadness that feels like there has been a death. In a way, there has been a death to a chapter of my life that will never return. It’s hard when your whole life you dream of being a missionary, and then in a blink of an eye you did it and it’s over and you’re expected to move on. Since I’ve been home it is much harder to do the things that are considered “normal”, ie facebook, wearing normal clothes, dating etc. It feels like I’m polluting my soul that used to be filled with holiness, but these are just normal parts of every day living.
Serving in my mission surrounded me with not just one bubble, but about four. The mission bubble, the Utah mission bubble, the Utah visitors centre mission bubble, and the small town St George Utah visitors centre mission bubble. I’ve travelled into London three times this week and have felt sickened by things that previously never bothered me.
These are some things I’ve felt as I’ve been breaking out of the bubble:
The first thing I’ve noticed is how much I cry. Before my mission I never cried. I was the cold-hearted one of the family who never shed a tear. Well, my mission broke my reputation and has caused me to cry at every opportunity. For the last six weeks of my mission, I’d go to dinner appointments and they would ask how long I had been out for, and the inevitable tear would spring to my eye. But since returning home it’s been a whole other ball game. I’ve cried in the gym, the theatre, various restaurants, church and during the night. These tears come as I feel that there is somewhere else I need to be, doing something of a much higher plane. They come when I feel like I am in an unholy place, or when I feel like a missing part in this grand scheme of life. It’s easy to feel like a lost piece of the puzzle.
It’s hard to face your old life, knowing that you are not the same you anymore. It’s hard to feel satisfied doing anything that isn’t saving souls. When it’s been your every thought for 18 months, it’s hard to think things that aren’t about missionary work and not feel bad.
It’s hard to go back to being dependent again. It’s hard to get into the routine of just talking to my family and calling my extended family, when I’m used to just getting on every day talking to just the Lord and my companion.
It’s hard to be surrounded by people who have no idea what you just did for 18 months, and how it changed you and how you can never be the same again because of what you saw and what you learned. It’s hard to know that everyone around you has never met these people you now call family and the place you now call home. It’s hard to tell your stories when you know that no one fully understands how you felt each day for those 18 months. It’s hard to be expected to just fit right in and know who you are again. It’s hard to have to be happy or else you know you’ll disappoint other people.
This post was not to point out all the negative things of being released.
This post was to show that “the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom He hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance” [1 Nephi 1:20]
He truly has sent me many tender mercies. Every time I’ve needed to cry He has had His arms around me. He hasn’t forgotten me just because I’m Charlotte and not Sister Nicholls. He still has a plan for me, He still shows me His hand and His miracles every day. I still feel His closeness when I pray or when I read the scriptures. My life isn’t over – it is just beginning. But now I have so many more people to love and such a greater appreciation for the Gospel and what it really means to rely on the Saviour and be healed by Him. I have no doubt that everything is going to be okay and one day the pain will stop. I know that this adjustment is all part of the learning process. I have felt His love just as strongly and His presence just as close.
I’m not Sister Nicholls, and that’s okay. I’m not who I used to be either.
I’m a daughter of God who He is keenly aware of, and whose life He is very involved in. I am a daughter of God who can do hard things, and if my mission taught me anything at all, it taught me that
I love my family for helping me and understanding me through this process.
I love my Saviour for His mercy, and His constantly outstretched arms.
I love that He loves me enough to push me out of my comfort zone so I can grow, which is what this life is all about.
I may be the other side of the world from my mission, but the things I learned and the people I love and the testimony I gained are still very close to me.
As much as I want to hold on to what used to be my entire existence for 18 months, I know that there is a life of greater abundance ahead.
John 10:10 I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly
Christ is all about blessing each of us. That isn’t conditional upon wearing a nametag.

My favourite passage of scripture dictates perfectly how the Saviour continues to guide our lives, based upon our faithfulness, not upon our calling. It begins by talking about the Liahona
 40 And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day.
 41 Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;
 42 Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions.

Then he goes on to explain the spiritual context of this lesson:

 43 And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual.
 44 For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.
 45 And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.
 46 O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.

From this we can see that the Lord guides our lives according to our faith and our diligence, not according to our status as missionary, returned missionary or whatever you might be. If we feel that our life is not filled with direction or comfort, then we must increase our faith and our diligence in those small and simple things. There is beauty to be found in every chapter of life:

 “Shall we not go on in so great a cause?” Joseph Smith Jr. 

Monday, 16 March 2015

And the Great Jehovah shall say "The Work Is Done" - Joseph Smith Jr - 16-3-15

Dear Family and Friends

It is so surreal that this is my last email as a missionary. When did I even leave the MTC? It feels like yesterday. The journey I have been on has been incredible and has been exactly what I have needed. 

A brief update of my week:- 
We worked very hard and achieved 19 member present lessons, 1 away from our goal of 20!!!! But that’s okay, people have their agency. We got stood up twice last night in my last few hours of missionary service, but it was good because it was in keeping with the rest of my mission ;) We worked hard and found 5 new investigators, but decided not to count two of them because they are moving really soon. So ANYWAY it was a successful week where the Lord did indeed bless us. We had my last ever Zone Meeting. It was about finding new investigators and talking with everyone. It was hard to stay focussed in it and I found my mind wandering. But it was a spiritually uplifting event as always. And in keeping with tradition, the dying missionaries have to bear their testimonies. So I was the only one leaving and stood up to bear my testimony and could hardly speak through the tears. It's hard to put into words how you feel, and when you do, they all just come out as tears haha. It was a great meeting though and sad to think I will no longer be a part of the camaraderie of missionary service. I love the missionary meetings, singing the hymns and praying together. There's a real spirit of strength in those rooms. 
Our beloved G took us out for lunch to Applebees. He is doing so well! We taught him about tithing and he said he would live it, just had one concern. He told us, it would be difficult to go back to when he started working at 15 and figure out how much he has earned and open some bonds of his to pay the tithing on it all from his whole life! I wanted to get up and hug him it was so cute and child-like faith. We explained he would only have to start from now on! But he was so willing, it was so cute. We all need gary-like faith. It was so fun to have lunch with him. He has great stories from his life in Louisiana and is just my favourite person ever. 
We also went out for lunch with K. She is a less active we barely started working with like two weeks ago, but we just instantly clicked and she is relearning everything she should've known a long time ago. She has great things in store. They came to Church this week for the first time in a LONG time! We cried when we said goodbye. She is another one of those souls that you just know you were meant to find. I know I am supposed to be here in Cedar because every day we see miracles and find people that we feel so connected to. 
We found a part member family who agreed to let us come by and teach. We met them at Church because they've lived here since August but never come to Church. In the lesson I asked them “What made you decide to come to Church last week?" They went all quiet and tears came to their eyes and they said their little boy was stillborn and they know they need to get God in their lives. It was so touching. I will never tire of those moments when you can proclaim that families will be together forever. 
We have been fed SO much this week!!! But for lunch and breakfast all I've been eating is apples and grapes so that I won't be too fat when you see me ;) 

I want to take some time in this, my last email, to pay tribute to the last 18 months of my life. The best decision I was ever prompted to make was to serve the Lord on a full time basis. The most precious 18 months of my life have been here in Southern Utah. It feels like when I leave I am going to leave behind a piece of my heart forever, and not a day will go by when I don't think about some of the people I love and my new-found family here. This mission has shaped who I am and what I will do for the rest of my life. I needed to be brought out of the world to realize how far into the world I was. I've seen how small decisions change the course of people's eternities. I will be forever grateful that the Lord loves me enough to push me out of my comfort zone for a brief moment so that I could be a part of His army, saving souls and proclaiming truth. 
I've learned what it really means to love. I've never loved people so much that you cry for them, or the second you see them at the door you want to get on your knees and beg them to listen to you. I've never loved so much that it hurts when they reject the opportunity of greater happiness. I took the opportunity to memorize 1 Corinthians 13 and it has changed me. I realize who I was before and what I needed to change about the way that I love. The Saviour has a perfect, unconditional love, and while I am still so far from that, I understand it better. I have realized that we can be perfect in keeping the Word of Wisdom, paying tithing, attending Church etc but if we don’t have charity and actually love the people the Lord puts in our path, how can we call ourselves Christian? Charity never faileth. "Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains and have not charity, I am nothing. Though I bestow of my goods to feed the poor, and give my body to be burned, and have not charity it profiteth me nothing". Pauls words have pierced my heart and that is something I have been learning a lot about on my mission. These people that I have met - I love them more than anything. They feel like permanent members of my family and I cannot wait to spend eternity with them. 
I've learned what it means to truly be humble. Again, I have a long way to go, but I have a greater understanding of it. It's not just thinking that you're not better than anyone else, but truly seeking the Lord’s will in all things and knowing that it is NEVER about what you want. We need to "cheerfully do all things that lie within our power and then stand still with the upmost assurance to see the salvation of God". The weeks I prayed for humility were the hardest most painful weeks of my mission. My favourite Mormon Message is The Will of God by Elder Christofferson because God truly does love us enough to cut us down and reshape us. I will be forever grateful that He loves me enough to cut me down and teach me better ways. 
My testimony of the Gospel has been solidified. I have seen so much that I know without a shadow of a doubt that we have a loving Heavenly Father. He truly orchestrates our lives perfectly, so that we are where we need to be when we need to be there. He loves even the most vilest of sinners, and is a part of their lives to help bring them back into His arms. I've seen potential in other people that they have never seen in themselves, and I know that that is God's potential for them that I am seeing. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, as I have seen the spirit that touches people's hearts when we share the first vision. I know that the Book of Mormon is a true testament of Jesus Christ, and I have felt my Saviour's love as I have poured over those pages. They really do contain answers to any questions we have. All I'd need to do was pray and open the Book and my Father would speak to me. He has picked me up and served my mission for me. I could not have served for 18 months. He has done it. I spent countless hours on my knees pleading for strength and crying for guidance, asking for forgiveness and seeking blessings for others. On those hardest days, all I had to do was close the bathroom or closet door and kneel down before my Maker and cry to Him and every single time He picked me up and eased the burdens that were put upon my shoulders. I've seen how He answers and hears every single prayer we send up to Him. The more specific we are, the more specific He is back. My Saviour has never been more real, and never been so close as He has here. I've lived on his Atonement day after day and done things through Him that I never would've been able to otherwise.

One of the most hugest lessons I have ever learned in these 18 months is this: I'm not perfect. and that's ok. I love myself for who God has made me. He has given me weaknesses so that I can feel and taste of the Atonement of Christ, which brings joy greater than anything else. I've learned that everything is always going to be okay. Every transfer call I'd get super nervous and not sleep the night before and not eat for a few days and then it turned out to be the best transfer ever. Finally I have learned that Heavenly Father guides us to places for our happiness, not for our misery. Now I just stay calm and know that everything will be okay with the Saviour by my side. I needed to learn that lesson, to pull the anxiety out of me and simply trust in the Saviour. 

Some of the memories that will stick with me forever will be sitting in front of the Christus statue listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir while reading the word of God. I will always remember when E decided to get baptized, and not believing that it will really happen until the moment she stepped into the font. I will always remember A telling me that the Book of Mormon has filled a hole in her heart that she didn't know was there. I will always remember A sitting in front of the Christus and crying quiet tears before whispering “This gospel is true isn't it?". I will always remember going back to M's door after he had heavily rejected us only to find him sitting there waiting for us to come back because he felt something he'd never felt before. I will always remember R wanting to kill himself before we knocked on the door and he asked us to never leave because when we were there he felt giddy and light. I will always remember G crying at the baptism and saying it feels like coming home. I will always remember J coming to her second lesson after bashing us apart the first lesson, only to start the lesson by telling us that the Book of Mormon is true. I will always remember N saying that when he's with us he feels goodness but when he's not with us it leaves, and that if it is US that are teaching these commandments then it must be from God because we wouldn’t teach what is not from God. I will always remember the French woman in the VC who spoke in French to me and I understood everything and responded and she wanted to learn about the Gospel. I will always remember the homeless man who needed a ride to Vegas, and after praying, a couple turned up who were on their way and he was able to learn the gospel. I will remember every single family who have held us in their arms and cried, expressing their gratitude to us for serving a mission and finding them and never giving up on them. I will remember every single first prayer I have ever been privileged to hear, and every single first testimony that is ingrained within my heart. These have been the most fulfilling and enriching 18 months and I am so abundantly blessed that I cannot put it into words. 

In Alma 26, Ammon says  
 36 Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land.
 37 Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. 

The Lord truly has been mindful of me as I have wandered in a strange land. He is mindful of all of His children, no matter what they have done. He wants no empty chairs in Heaven. The thought fills me with desire to go out and declare the Gospel to everyone, but my time is finished and I will assist in the work however He wants me to. No empty chairs. Our family members and friends and neighbours all have their name on a chair in Heaven, and we want no empty chairs. I have learned what it means to be truly yoked with the Saviour. To do His work with Him. Before I feel like I was yoked with my family and my phone and Facebook and clothes and friends, relying on these for support. Now I am yoked with the Saviour and know that I can do all things by His side. He will never leave me. My nametag will come off, but He will never leave me. 

Honestly. I don’t remember who Charlotte was. I don't know who Charlotte is. I only know Sister Nicholls. It will take some time for me to relearn who I am. I feel awkward when I'm doing anything that isn't teaching or knocking haha. 
In Matthew 16:24-26 the Saviour tells us 
 24 ¶Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

I feel that on my mission I have taken up my cross daily to follow Him in a way that I never have before. I have lost my life for His sake. Every thought I've had, every word I've spoken and every desire of my heart has been to share the Gospel. Even in my dreams I'm always a missionary. I have lost my life for Him and in doing so I have found it in greater abundance. 

My family have been absolute champs. I will be forever grateful for the eternal family that I was born into, my best friends. I can’t wait to see you tomorrow and hold you in my arms and thank you personally for loving me enough to let me go. Thank you for raising me to the Lord, thank you for showing me through example what it means to live the law of consecration. Surrendering our own will and time for Him. To serve others and put others first. I learned that first from my parents and brother and grandparents. I've seen so many families torn apart, and I am so grateful for the family that I was sent to. I know that I lived in Heaven before, and that My Father knows me personally and spent time with me, tutoring me for my life. I feel more comfortable as a missionary than I've ever felt in my life before. More secure and more at home. And I know that that is because that’s what I did for millions of years before I came to earth, teaching about the Saviour and encouraging others to choose Him, and spent 19 years here before going right back to do it again for 18 months. I know that I was always supposed to serve and that the Lord prepared hearts of His children for me. I will be eternally in debt for the blessings He has given me here. I needed my mission more than my mission needed me. He has changed me and lifted me. I am excited to go back and see what the next transfer has in store. I have a whole life time to keep learning and keep having spiritual experiences.  
Thank you everyone for your support for these 18 months. I will forever hold these experiences sacred and dear to my heart, as there are not words to express how I feel.

I will be forever grateful to be able to say these most precious words: I served a mission.

For the last time. 
Sister Nicholls

Monday, 9 March 2015

"Have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay" Moroni 7:29 - 9-3-15

Dear Everyone, 

A week of miracles for sure! I count myself blessed in every way because of the mighty miracles we saw this week. 

Firstly, remember G I told you about last week? Well we have seen him every day this week! He gets more and more interested every time we come, and does his homework between visits. I can't even tell you of the love I feel for this old gentleman who lost his wife a year ago. He breaks my heart every time we meet him because he is so sweet and Southern and cute. We watched The Restoration with him and he teared up and said he felt upliftment from the Holy Spirit. Then the next day we went out on visits with the Bishop and stopped by G's house and it went SO well!! They got on really well and he asked great questions and at the end the Bishop gave him a hug and G said "I think I'll be seeing a lot more of you!" and told us that he wants to be more involved etc. So we invited him to our BAPTISM on Saturday (tell you about that in a sec) and he came, dressed up in his little suit! He sat at the back and we taught The Restoration during the baptism, which he has heard twice already, and he just sat there and cried through it all. At the end as he was leaving we said to him "How did you feel G?" and he couldn't talk for tears and managed to choke out "It feels like coming home". We both cried too and I wanted to hug him so badly! The Ward welcomed him so beautifully as well. We went to his home afterwards and read 3 Nephi 27 with him and we asked him "What sort of experience did you have there this morning?" and he said "A very uplifting one. I haven't felt the Holy Spirit like that since I was a young boy (his Mum was a pastor). It felt as though Christ's presence was really there. It was a church filled with love." And again he was crying trying to tell us that. We invited him to be baptised on April 18th and he was crying and said yes and managed to choke out that that was his mother's birthday and his wedding anniversary. We all were in tears and testified that his late mother and wife both love him and want him to feel and embrace this so they can be a family forever. It was such a tender moment and one I will never forget. I just wanted to pause time and be in that moment forever. 

The next miracle was that we have been teaching this 12 year old girl since the second week we got here. She has been coming to church for 9 months already but missionaries never made contact with her. We had an appointment with her on week 2 of the transfer and have been teaching her ever since. We have to get permission from President to baptise a child under 15 and so we submitted a request and didn't know how long it takes to get back as I've been with YSA since that rule was instituted. Monday night we looked at the phone ringing and had the heart attack when it says "President Center" and formally picked it up. He gave us permission to baptise K!!!! And told me that he had endorsed me for BYU. I said "Don't you have to interview me?" and he said "Are you going to keep campus rules?" and I said YES and he said "Well then good, I have endorsed you." Hahahah. Anyway we REJOICED and let K know the next morning and planned our baptism for Saturday! Her Dad is a non member who totally feels the Spirit in the lessons and her Mum is less active. Her Uncle and Auntie drove up from St George as the Uncle baptised her. Tons of people turned out for her baptism and it went really well. It was so beautiful. My last baptism on my mission and Sister Wilson's first!! Very special. We had to rush to get all the lessons done in time but managed to cover it all and have good daily contact with her. It was a blessing indeed. 

Another miracle!! We met with the S family on Tuesday and followed the Spirit in what to teach. We taught about family history, and challenged L to read certain scriptures about baptism and pray specifically about a date to be baptised on. She looked wary but agreed. It was good we got her on her own because usually her husband talks a LOT and so she could actually talk and we could learn what her concern might be. It helped out a lot. Then we saw them Thursday and Friday, in which we taught about recognising the Holy Ghost. Which was inspired because she started our meeting out by saying "I feel like I don't feel the Holy Ghost, or if I do, I don't recognise it." And we were so happy we'd prepared the lesson we had! It went really well and we rechallenged them to keep praying and reading those scriptures. In the meantime we prayed SO specifically that she would recognise the Spirit and that she would just wake up and feel good about it all etc etc. The Ward ladies fasted for her last week too. Anyway Sunday afternoon they invited us over for dinner. They also invited the Halladays, their fellowshippers, over and the WML's family and the Bishop's family. But the WML and the Bishop couldn't come. Then before they dished up they said "We have an announcement to make. We wanted to just say that we love you all, and no matter what we're all friends.....but....we've decided not to get baptised." And I felt sick and Sis Halladay gasped and it was silent for about 3 seconds. Then J laughed and said "....On July 30th" which is what they previously agreed to with the Bishop. We all exhaled, then he continued "Or March 21st....." and the silence continued until he said "But L has been praying. Can you tell them what you decided?" and I was like COME ON ALREADY and she said "I've been praying and I am ready and feel like we need to be baptised on April 25th!" which is a Saturday and she didn't even know that which is perfect! Very inspired. We all hugged and cheered and cried and clapped! There was a huge line to hug them haha. It is a HUGE DEAL!!!! They have been taught since August and never accepted a baptismal date. And now they will finally do it and have come up with the date themselves through inspiration from the Holy Ghost. I felt so heartbroken that I will be across the world when they get baptized. It's this deep hurt right inside my heart. I was so happy for them but after we left last night I cried the whole way home and for about an hour when we were at home because I love G and I love the S's SOOOOO MUCH I CAN'T EVEN WRITE IT DOWN and to think that I won't be there for the biggest steps of their lives and I wont be there to help them prepare for it. I just kept thinking "I wish I had just six more weeks....just six more weeks". When I woke up this morning my eyes were all sore and crusty from crying and I remembered the S family the night before and felt so happy again! It's such a miracle. I just feel like I'm going to leave a HUGE part of my heart here. 

Another miracle happened last Monday evening. We ventured out into the snow that didn't stop coming for four days, and taught this less active woman. She had answered the door the week before and I felt this instant love for her. Anyway we taught her and she said "I just want you to know that you came at the perfect time. If you'd have come a week earlier I would've said no thanks. But I don't believe in coincidences, and a week before you came, all these events kept happening that made me think I needed to try LDS again." and the miracle is that we came by a week before but walked past the house and both felt like we shouldn't knock there and give it a few more days. It was SO interesting to hear that there was a reason for that. I feel a strong connection with her and am glad that she opened up to us and told us that! She said she feels something is missing and wonders if maybe it's reading the Book of Mormon. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY. 

We had MISSION CONFERENCE this week! The first time I've ever been there for one. The last one was July 2013 with Elder Bednar. This time we had a special Mission Conference because we got trained on how to use our IPADS. Except I don't get one BECAUSE APPARENTLY I'M LEAVING. So I had to sit through six hours of iPad chat. I just made goals for when I'm home. It was intense though because we had two visiting General Authorities from the First Quorum of the 70 visiting. But it was the best day ever and I was so excited to see all my friends. I feel like they are my family now. I feel heartbroken to be leaving them all too. THE AMOUNT OF COMMENTS I GOT ABOUT GOING HOME WAS RIDICULOUS. Everyone was like "Oh hey Sister Nicholls you're nearly done" and "Oh hey you go home next week" and "Hey are you trunked out of your mind yet?" haha. But it was sooooo nice to see EVERYONE I love and say goodbye. 

And here's something weird that happened. We went to a wedding reception haha. Sis Halladay's son got married. They have been dating for EVER and they sent videos to each other their whole mission and made a long video out of all those videos. They invited us along because they were showing their mission video at their reception and then wanted to introduce us to everyone there and explain about eternal marriage and have us there in case anyone wanted to learn more. So we got permission and went along. Let me tell you - TRUNKINESS NEVER WAS HAPPINESS. That's all I have to say about that. Don't expect a missionary who is finishing in one week to go to a wedding reception and not have one trunky thought #foreveralone haha but it was really weird to be a missionary at a wedding reception. It was really beautiful though. 

Funny story of the day. We got stuck in the mud at Bishop Shumway's house. We tried to get out but our wheels were just spinning and mud spurted EVERYWHERE. I asked Sister Wilson to back me to see if I could reverse out and she stood REALLY far back so that mud didn't go all over her! It was to no avail and finally they had to get someone to come and tow us out haha!!!! Also we started teaching a Philippino man which is cool! 

The miracles I have seen this week will stay with me forever. We now have 9 people on date for baptism. I feel so filled with gratitude and love that I never want to leave. Like Ammon, this is how I feel this week: 
 16 Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.
We have goaled for 20 member present lessons this week and 4 new investigagtors to keep me focussed. 

Shout out to Sam Shelley who got MARRIED FOR ETERNITY ON SATURDAY! I thought about you ALL DAY and am so proud of you. You are incredible. Your husband is a lucky man. You were the main feature of my talk on Sunday. I'll update you when I see you soon! 

ALSO shout out to the best Mum in the world. I won't talk to you on Mother's Day on Sunday but you'll get the best present ever two days later ;) ME haha. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH and wish that I could be half as loving and giving and selfless as you are. I am so blessed. 

Please keep me in your prayers this week. I will try not to cry ;) I love you all SOOOOO MUCH 

Sister Nicholls

Monday, 2 March 2015

"O That I Were an Angel, and Could Have the Wish of Mine Heart” - 2-3-15

Dear Loved Ones, 

I can't believe that these emails won't be coming forever. It's still the most exciting time of the week logging on and being updated with all my beloved family and friends. As always it’s been a week of ups and downs, incomprehensible joy, and tears of heartbreak. I think that's what makes your mission so beautiful, is how you lose yourself in it and how you give every last tear and every last ounce of energy and every last thought and breath to the people you love. A missionary's happiest day is the day they forget themselves and love the people more than they love themselves, and I can truly say that I love the people of Southern Utah as I love my own family, and it fills my heart with heaviness when I think that I won't be here much longer. 

This week we went back to the lonesome old man who lost his wife a year before. We took a woman with us so we could go in. We taught the Restoration and the Spirit was so strong. It truly solidified my own spiritual testimony that Joseph Smith was indeed called to be a Prophet of God. No matter what anyone else tells me about him, I know for myself from God that He was called to be a Prophet. Anyway the Spirit was strong and he said that it could indeed be true and that it makes sense. We gave him some things to read and went back to visit him on Saturday to teach the plan of salvation. He said that he would be at church the next day; the first time he would've been to church in like 30 years. He read what we gave him and enjoyed it. I really love him already. He is a cute old man and our discussions with him are great. It was wonderful teaching him that he will see his wife and child again. His son died in a hurricane, the one before hurricane Katrina. He lived in Louisiana his whole life until just barely moving here. We were very disappointed when he didn't come to Church though. Last night was hard for me because a lot of them stood us up or didn't come to church. There were some silent tears shed. It always hurts when people don't do the things that will bring them the answers they are thirsty for. There's only so much we can answer for them until they need to do the things that will allow God to answer for them. 

We had a wonderful miracle with E. She is the one that has never believed in God or prayed before. She was raised in New York and her Dad was Jewish while her mother was Catholic and so she was raised with no beliefs. Now she married a member a year ago and is wanting to learn. So we taught her the restoration and before the lesson we prayed about a baptism date for her. We both felt strongly that we needed to pick April 11th. So we followed the Spirit and in the lesson presented that date to her. As we told her she gasped and said that that was the day her father died years before. She also expressed that he has been baptised in the Temple and so “is a Mormon up there in heaven". It was perfect because she doesn’t yet know if God exists, but took that as a huge sign that He does and that her Dad wants her to be baptized on that day. It was such a cool experience. I really love her. 

We have taught the S family a few times this week!! They are getting soooo close to being baptized! Week after week we have tried to teach the underlying doctrines of baptism, like agency and commandments and temple work and eternal salvation etc. Anyway finally, they invited us over for dinner and during dinner J said "I realized that God isn't going to tell me what to do all the time and that I just need to go ahead and do what I think is right - that’s why he gave me agency" and we were like YESSSSSSSS and I said to them “How do you feel about getting baptized when my parents are here on March 21st" and he looked sooooo happy and looked at his wife and said that they will give it some serious talking about and thought and prayer. But it was so great! He even prayed at church!! His wife just has some last minute hold backs which she wanted to talk to the Bishop about and she did and apparently it went well. They have the best fellowshippers ever and we aren't worried about them! Just keep them in your prayers. They come to church every single week and read every day and pray all the time. They just need to do it :))) 

Remember the family who lost a child who said they wanna get baptized? They stood us up like three times since then and we haven’t been able to get hold of them. Every week they say they'll come to church but then don't. Then set appointments for us then stand us up. Anyway we had another appointment booked and they stood us up so we went over to this other family's house and they were HOME and invited us in!!! We had a great chat and they expressed how they want to be baptized and showed us everything they've read in the Book of Mormon, and they made another appointment with us. Which they then stood up. I just don’t know what to make of them, if they are sincere or not. Either they are sincere but flakey or just people pleasers. 

We found another family like that who invited us in right away, they are from Vegas just moving in here now, like four houses down from ours. They've made about 3 appointments with us but stood us up every time. Finally we just stopped by there and they let us in and we talked and she said she wants to be baptized! They invited us back for later that day and said they'd give us dinner and then we can help them move their stuff in. We went back and the wife was mysteriously sick and we couldn’t go in. It was really strange. So we don’t know what to make of them either. They said they would be at church but also didn't come. It's weird how many people tell us they want to be baptized but don’t make any kind of effort to get there. We just keep doing our best and waiting til they are ready :) 

We walked for about half an hour in the snow to lovingly invite someone to church and then half an hour back and we found out that the woman told her neighbour she did NOT appreciate us just showing up without an appointment. We felt horrible and just wished she could've seen our intentions, that we walked so far through the snow uphill in the road for half an hour just to give her that invitation. I wish we could all just see each others motivations and feel the love behind them. Sometimes it feels like we can't do anything right, the member who told us said that they don’t want her to be pushed away and we thought "How is that pushing someone away??? If we don’t invite them to church what are we supposed to do?" so I shed some tears over that. But honestly it helps me to understand on a tiny portion what Heavenly Father must feel, how He tries so hard to give us what we need to return back to Him but we still don't take it, or we misinterpret it. He pushes us so that we grow and learn, but we sometimes take it the wrong way. My service as a missionary has helped me learn more about my Saviour than anything else. 

Over all it has been a wonderful week of learning and growing and feeling the Spirit. We were invited to attend the Bishop's meeting with the Stake President last night. It was all the Bishoprics in the Stake and the Stake Presidency, they did an hour’s training on missionary work. At the end they invited me to bear my testimony because I will be leaving them in two weeks and thanked me for my service in their Stake. Anyway I was crying before I even stood up to bear my testimony. I managed to speak through the tears and take lots of deep breaths. At the end one of the Bishops said “You managed to make a whole room full of men cry" hahaha. It was a spiritual moment. 

Well it's that time again. I love you all SO MUCH and will see you soon. 

Sister Nicholls

Monday, 23 February 2015

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!! - 23-2-15


Now I've gotten that out of my system I can write about more positive things: 

We have had a WONDERFUL week! 

First off last Pday we went to St George with the Halladays and the Pitts and the Shelys. The Shely's are so close to being baptized, they just need to make that final step. While I was praying for them I thought "They need to see Gods Plan" but we are in Cedar not St George....so we got it figured out that we could take them. It definitely ate into our Pday, as in we did nothing but email, but we thought it was for a righteous cause so hopefully our apartment and car will clean themselves and food will magically appear in our fridge. Haha the latter did happen - the Halladay's left groceries on our doorstep very late Monday night which was soooooo kind of them! And we cleaned our apartment this morning while we waited for it to stop snowing and for the roads to be kind of cleared so that we can avoid death by icy roads. Anyway in St George last week it was so warm and it was like coming home. I was nervous that I'd feel homesick leaving it again but I felt fine! We ate in one of my favourite restaurants for lunch and it was so nice to just get to know everyone better. It was a really great Pday. It felt so natural being back in the VC and seeing all the Sisters. As we parked the car and got out and walked across the road, the VC doors opened and Sister Garcia and Sister Biery ran out and we hugged and cried. It'd only been a week and a half but when you see each other EVERY DAY for YOUR WHOLE MISSION it feels like ages! Haha it was a great day. 

That evening we taught this couple, who are about in their fifties, with the Bishop of that Ward. We met them last Friday and they said they want to be together forever and they want a stronger relationship with God and they subscribed to the Mormon channel and enjoy what they watch. So we taught them and they agreed to pray about the Book of Mormon. We were supposed to go back on Friday night to teach them the plan of Salvation at 6pm, but at 5pm they called us to say that they had watched some videos on youtube about Joseph Smith and have decided to discontinue their learning as they don't want to be associated with a Church that has a leader like him. He also said he'd prayed and felt to stay where he's at. So we were super sad, and then had to go to a dinner appointment with a smile on our face and be sociable like missionaries always have to do. It still hurts so deeply when people reject the Gospel. I thought it would get easier the longer I've been out, but honestly I'm glad that it still hurts because it means that I'm not past feeling for these children of God. It's not just a "job" I do, and I don't just "leave my work in the office", this is eternal life and I want all of Heavenly Father's children to accept it. Now I only have three weeks left to do this great work I feel a sense of urgency to speak to EVERYONE and to boldly invite all to listen. 

At the dinner appointment they gave us a referral so we went straight over to contact them now that our other appointment had dropped us, and she was this old CAT woman with 22 cats and cat blankets and cat cushions everywhere. She invited us in and then proceeded to bash everything we believe in. She told us horrible things about Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and testimonies and prayer and God and scriptures. We just sat there listening and testifying and finally after about 40 minutes of listening to her telling us that I finally said "We have an appointment to get to, but thank you for your time" and left. She said "Don't worry, you wont be seeing me at your Church". I don't mind being rejected but there's a way you speak to human beings and that wasn't it. I felt bad for her because she was so confused about everything, and her own theories didn't make sense nor were they historically accurate. If she did some research on Joseph Smith she'd see he wasn't a genius who smoked pot but in fact a young farm boy with no education who had never read the Bible the whole way through. 

So we were feeling pretty low and sad and then had an appointment with Bishop Smith to teach a part member family he home-teaches. As always, he carries the Spirit of Christ with him which balmed my soul that evening. We sat in this home and testified and the Spirit was so strong. The message was about testimony and conversion and how to gain both and how Missionaries see it happening etc. Bishop asked me to discuss how I'd seen people gain testimonies and how it had strengthened my own testimony. I couldn't even speak for the tears flowing down my cheeks as I pondered on the beautiful children of God that He had brought into my life and the miracles I had seen in them gaining testimonies. Every one of those people are the people I love more in this world than anyone except my own family. Their stories are tender and precious to me and I couldn't talk for the love I feel for those experiences. I was able to stutter out some things about these people gaining testimonies and how my own testimony has grown because of it. It is so hard to talk about leaving all of this. But that evening Bishop Smith was a balm to my soul and exactly what we needed to calm us after a day of horribleness. 

We had a beautiful miracle the next day. One that I will be telling my grandchildren about for years to come. We went with Bishop Shumway's wife "out into the trees" as they call it. It's this area in our Stake that is literally in the middle of nowhere!!! There are like coyote carcasses and you can't see any homes because you're just in the trees. It's the weirdest thing if you're from London haha. Anyway she said she knew that there is an Australian family living with a member in one of the houses so we went to their house. They immediately invited us in and had us sit down. They told us that they moved here to Utah because one day they woke up and God told them that they needed to move to Utah and they didn't know why. They quoted the Book of Mormon without even knowing it and said "So we left our home and our possessions and the land of our inheritance" haha we were just thinking about Lehi the whole time! He told us he had read the BOM and that it had brought him closer to Christ, and then asked us to share our testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Then our testimony of who Christ is. Then how we know of Christ's goodness. Then about the second coming. Then about the commandments. We were there for a long time! They had this glow about them and such a firm conviction of Christ. The wife said that she had a very personal sacred experience with Christ and shared it with the people in her Baptist church in Australia and they kicked her out because God doesn't speak to us anymore so it must've been deception. So now she is afraid of churches and sharing things like that. We told her about Joseph Smith and how our testimonies are based on personal revlation. We asked for a return appointment and they told us that they would love to have us come back and talk about Christ with them but that they have no set schedule for anything, they just go day by day doing what God wants them to do. They said that that morning they were planning on going out for the day but that they felt this heaviness when they planned to do so, and so decided that they needed to stay home for some reason, and then we showed up and now they know why. So they said if it's what God wants then the next time we decide to come they will know and will be there. It was so awesome! If nothing else happens with them, I have learned so much from them about purity and following the Spirit and devoting your life to God. They were so spiritual and trusted God so much. I loved them instantly. 

Another miracle was that we had five minutes before our next appointment so we knocked on a door and this cute old man came. He was Catholic and invited us in but we couldn't go in because we had no one else with us. So, we talked on the doorstep in the snow and he told us his wife had died and we shared that he will see her again and he said that we can come back and tell him more on Wednesday! I was so happy!! I am excited for him! Also anothe little miracle, we were assigned to speak in the Hillcrest Ward about the Atonement and being Missionaries with a homecoming of a Missionary from that ward. While sitting on the stand before the meeting begun A from Dixie who got baptized in October walked in and sat down! I was so happy! It was a tender mercy to see him, and now I know why we were assigned to speak in that Ward! If we hadn't, then we wouldn't have gone to that Ward and I wouldn't have seen him! It made me so happy to hear that he is going to mission prep :))))))) 

We also went with a Relief Society President to visit this part member family and she immediately invited us in and talked with us and we talked about the Family Proclamation and invited her to take the missionary lessons and she said yes!! It was such a miracle because her husband is excommunicated and her kids have all been baptised but she never was interested and now she is. I truly can see why I am here, because Heavenly Father has prepared so many people for us. We have been kept so busy this week and it has been a pleasure to serve here. I am just so happy here, happy with my companion and happy with what we are accomplishing. We went on exchanges and it was so good to see the Sisters from St George! It was such a happy week. 

I can't believe that Sam Shelley is getting endowed this week. I remember her first lesson with the missionaries! I remember all her questions and the first time she read the Book of Mormon and her trying to explain how she felt etc. And now she is going through the Temple. More than anything I wish I could be there but I will be thinking about her alllllllllll day and praying that everything is great!

Also thank you to everyone for the emails you sent me this week! I don't think I've ever gotten so many emails on my whole mission! IT TOOK the first hour just to go through the 50 in my inbox, all from England friends, BYU friends, Dixie friends, former areas, former investigators, former companions, MTC friends and family etc etc. Please keep it up! It's great to hear from everybody! 

I am determined to work harder than ever and make these last three weeks the best of my mission. 

I love you all dearly

Sister Nicholls

Monday, 16 February 2015

"The Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld His glory and I am eternally encircled about in the arms of His love." - 16-2-15

Dear Family and Friends, 

We have had a good week over all. I am working hard to make every single minute count of these last few weeks of my mission. I cannot BELIEVE I only have four weeks left. When did that even happen? About 17 times a day I tell Sister Wilson to use every single minute wisely and that I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY haha. We had some missionary miracles this week. 

We have been trying to contact this part member family for the whole week and a half we've been here. FINALLY they opened the door and it was the husband who is a member. He immediately looked thrilled to see us (which hardly EVER happens haha) and invited us in. He had us sit down and began to tell us his WHOLE LIFE STORY! Haha but we listened and made noises of approval at the correct moments, and then after telling us about how his ex wife cheated on him and now he is remarried to a non member who he is trying to share the gospel with, said wife came into the room and sat down to join the conversation. She proceeded to ask us 10,0000 questions about everything. Mostly the word of wisdom and temple marriage and the Book of Mormon. She asked us how it would go if we came to teach her so we told her we would see her a few times a week and would invite her to do certain things and would set a date for baptism! She was like "Have you taught people in our situation before?" and I said yes many times and she said “Do they usually get baptized?" and I said “Yes every time" haha so she looked satisfied with that. Her husband, who has been less active for a while because of work but loves the Gospel very much, kept piping up and bringing up things that no one should ever bring up in a first lesson haha. I'll tell you what it was when I see you ;)  But anyway we managed to take control of the situation but they kept talking and talking and talking so about between 1hr 1/2 to 2 hours later we left with a  new family to teach! She has been prepared and I am excited to see where it goes! We came away very very happy with that. We let our Ward Mission Leaders know every time we have a success and they are all like "YOU SISTERS ARE AMAZING!! THE LORD IS BLESSING THE AREA BECAUSE YOU ARE HERE” haha!!

We spent time on Friday afternoon making Valentines treats for everyone at Elder and Sister Nelson’s house. We got heart lollipops and m&ms in the bag and put Jesus stickers on them and heart confetti. We put the scripture from Lehi where he says "I am eternally encircled about in the arms of His love" on the label and went around handing them out to every non member we were aware of. When we finished them and stepped back to look at our creation we laughed because it was such a Sister Missionary thing to do! No Elder in the history of time has made heart confetti with Jesus pictures on it haha. But it was very well received. Everyone we gave them to seemed to be very pleased with it. We spoke to some Jews and some Baptists and some atheists haha. We meet all sorts every day here :) It softened lots of hearts and got us into lots of doors and lots of gospel conversations. We are just tilling the ground right now. There are so many part member families here that I can’t wait to see how this area will be in a few transfers once it has all picked up again! It should be very productive! 

We had my last ever Zone Meeting this week :(((( It’s my last because next month we actually have MISSION CONFERENCE because we are getting IPADS!! TEN DAYS BEFORE I LEAVE #mylife #wewould anyway I'm not even bitter. But I'm excited because my posterity Sister Babygirl Wilson will be able to use one every day and it will help so much! Also I'm excited because I'll get to see all my nearest and dearest friends from my mission, no matter where they are serving now right, before I go home!! I cannot wait! Anyway the last ever Zone Meeting was sad. Two days before, the Zone Leaders asked me to do a training on our purpose as missionaries. I cracked out some scriptures and some experiences and was prepared! I stood up to give the training and looked out onto this new Zone, the Cedar Zone, and knew like ONE person haha. And then President and Sister Center were there also, and President and Sister Cornelius. So it was strange to be at my last Zone Meeting and not know anyone. Looking back at me were just a bunch of Elders who I'd never met! I might've shed some tears giving my closing testimony. I've seen missionary after missionary bear testimony as they are leaving and I never thought that time would come when I would have to do it. But it was a great meeting but I felt like I was betraying the St George Central Zone, my home of 11 transfers, being there ;)

After Zone Meeting President and Sister Center took myself and Sister Wilson out for lunch and we talked about the area and our investigators. President gave us some great advice that we are trying to implement and Sister Center actually came out with us after lunch for some missionary fun. When we got to the restaurant that we ate in, Sister Center said to the person taking our order “Now, we are all LDS missionaries so you will be getting talked to a lot ok?" and he said “ That's okay, I like talking!" so after ordering our food at the counter we went and sat down but before sitting down, Sister WIlson and I were talking to a waiter, then Sister Center was talking to a man and a baby, and President Center was talking to an elderly couple. It was so funny how we all just dispersed to divide and conquer! Our man was actually not LDS so we had a good chat. Missionaries are never off duty ;) It was such a treat to spend time with them. Before we got out of their car, President went around and opened our doors because we're all ladies. I need to marry someone like him ;) 

We were having quite a discouraging day, knocking on everyone's doors and no one answering and it felt cold and two people had come to their door, looked out their window at us, and turned off the lights and walked away. So we kept going and working and finally a door opened and it was this whole non member family. She said they'd met with missionaries before and that they want to be baptized!!!! We were like “We can do that!" haha. She told us how they lost a little girl and they want to be a family forever. They gave us a return appointment, so we will see how it goes. I remember right at the beginning of my mission I felt like I would find a family who lost a child who needed to know they would be together again. I feel like I finally found that family. It's just another confirmation that this is where I'm supposed to be, even for just six weeks. I love how Heavenly Father sometimes gives us glimpses of His plan for us and for all His children. If I've learned anything at all on my mission, it has been that He cares for EVERY one of His children and has a plan for their happiness. There is nothing more joyful or nothing I love more than sharing with families that they can be together forever and that God has a plan for them. What am I supposed to do not doing that every day?!?!?!?

We had some funny stories from this week. We had an appointment at 6 and it was in the "back of beyond" area of our Stake. It’s a bigger area than I've ever covered before and it goes right out into farm land behind Cedar City, where you travel for miles between houses and there are NO LIGHTS ANYWHERE so you get super lost. Well............after 45 minutes and 25 miles later, we finally found where we were going. The man had to just come and meet us on the highway! It was so confusing that we would never have found it. This city girl cannot navigate through farm lands haha.  Someone made us elk meat for dinner as well!! Hahah! Also we got home the other night at around 9:15pm and pulled up onto our driveway and Sister Wilson exclaimed "LOOK" and I looked and beheld THREE DEER in our garden! They saw our lights and just stopped and looked, mesmerized. I freaked out that there were deer really close to us because I just assumed they would attack us haha. But they just looked at us and galloped away. They were crowded round by the door to our apartment because it’s round the back of the house thorugh the garden so we knocked on the front door and the family let us walk through to our apartment the indoor way and laughed because deer are more scared of us than we are of them! 

We were knocking around in another farmy part of the area and came across this couple who had met with the Elders a few times before. It was a really positive meeting because they said they want a stronger relationship with Christ and they want to be together forever. They gave us a return appointment for tonight so we will go and see what we can do. We knocked around the area and found this trailer with this little boy who told us he is atheist and investigated every religion and he was so smart alecky and proud and told us that the Book of Mormon is holding up his kitchen table leg right now. He thought he would make us all angry and rebuke him but we just smiled and bore testimony, we asked him how old he was and he said he is 16. It cracked us up that little 16 year old boys think they know everything. After we left we laughed so much about him! 

Well it's time to go! We are off to St George to get some of our eternal investigators a spiritual experience at the Visitors' Center. President gave us permission to take them so we will teach them today at the VC on our p-day! I'm excited to go back but nervous that it'll be hard to leave again. We are praying for some miracle baptisms with them. They've attended church since August, they just need to make the commitment. 

I love you all. Please keep me in your prayers. I pray for you daily! 

Sister Nicholls  

Monday, 9 February 2015

I'll Cast On Him My Every Care and Wait For Thee, Sweet Hour of Prayer - 9-2-15

Dear Beloved Everyone, 

First off, CEDAR CITY IS SO WINDY!!!! I've never Marilyn Monroe'd so many times in my life. Our skirts are like parachutes. Remind me to never ever do my hair ever again!!! We run to our car and our hair is stuck up like a lions mane. It cracks us up though! 
I have so much to tell you this week and it's all so exciting. 
I want to start off by saying how much I love my BELOVED DAUGHTER!! Her name is Sister Wilson and she is from Prosper, Texas which is north of Dallas. She looks like she could be my daughter in real life. Well more than my last little Hispanic daughter haha. I really like her a lot, we get on really well and laugh a lot together!

Well Tuesday was a whirlwind, I was getting more and more nervous as the day went on. Finally I got a blessing on Tuesday night from Elder Cleverly, the new Visitors' Center Director and it was so inspired. It was exactly what I needed to hear and more. It truly has given me strength this week. President never gives me easy transfer calls, it's always white-washing or reopening along with training or what have you. Well this week was no different! Wednesday morning I sat in the VC for the last time until I go home. I soaked it in and just did my favourite thing. I sat in front of the Christus and listened to Deep River by the Mormon Tabernacle and read my scriptures. Afterwards Sister Biery and I watched John Tanner and then it was time to depart! I felt calm and ready! We drove away from the VC and my family there and I just felt excited! We went to the Mission Office for the trainers meeting, which is where President and the AP's talk to us for three hours about how to be a good trainer, then we go into a room where all the greenies are and President calls out your name and your greenie's name and there you have it - you got yourself a baby! After a few hugs with Sister Center and some pep talking, we got on the transfer van and drove away with St George in the rearview mirror. It's the first time I've been on the transfer van for my whole mission! I've sent so many companions away on it and finally it was my turn! I managed to pack my stuff into two cases, a duffel, and three boxes ;) travelling light! But no fear, I'll throw away EVERYTHING in five weeks time! I felt very calm and could really feel the power of everyone's prayers. I think it's times like this, where you know that this is completely out of your comfort zone and completely pushing you and stretching you to your limits when you know that you are simply living from the Saviour's strength. I can't tell you how many times that strength has kept me going this week. 

We arrived in Cedar City, got off the van, and the Elders had to get all our luggage off for us because it's WAY heavy! We found our car, which coincidentally was parked right outside that little Subway we ate at when you came down to St George the week before I went into the MTC! It was a nice little tender mercy to see that place and not feel so unfamiliar and far away from home! The Elders drove us to our home so that we didn't get hopelessly lost. By then it was about 4:30 so they brought our bags into our house and left and we introduced ourselves to the members we live with. I had spent time calling Ward Mission Leaders and Bishops the night before so we'd have SOMETHING to do. We had a dinner appointment with a Bishop and he said he would meet us at our house so we could follow him to his, or else we would get VERY lost. So we had a few minutes while we waited so I took my greenie knocking on doors so that she knows we use every single minute available. We went to the house next door to ours, and knocked and waited. FInally this man came to the door, saw us, and said "I'm not interested" and shut the door. HAHAHA of course that was her first door contact EVER! I felt so horrible for her. I remember saying the same thing to Sister Garcia this time last year "He didn't reject us. He rejected the Saviour. We'll pray for him tonight!" haha poor thing. We went to the Bishop's for dinner and then to a Ward Mission Leader's house and then to another Ward Mission Leader's house! There's a LOT of part member families in this area, more than I've ever seen before. And none of them are investigators. So, we went to work!! One of the Ward Mission Leaders is called Brother Ashdown and his ancestors are from Kent so we're probably related? They're from Pratts Bottom in Kent.

On the Thursday we just spent the whole day with our Senior Couple Elder and Sister Nelson. It was really effective because they know the area as they've lived here forever and they took us to visit some investigators etc. We are so pleased to have them here. Then on Friday we tried to do weekly planning but didn't really know anyone so that was weird too.

Anyway..... I want to share some uplifting stories from the week. 
On Wednesday night as I laid in bed, all week I'd been afraid that I would just want to cry and feel really homesick and nervous. But I laid there and just felt so calm and so peaceful and so not alone. It really is in those moments when you know that the atonement is carrying you. All I have to do is pray and feel this sweet peace and assurance that we are in the right place and that I can do this. I remember on Friday morning I woke up feeling so homesick for St George and so alone and so inadequate to build this area back up and train at the same time that I felt like I just wanted to lay in bed all day and cry. But of course I got out of bed and acted like nothing was wrong. I wanted nothing more than to call Sister Center and just cry to her but felt like I should just wait and everything would be okay. I prayed to Heavenly Father and asked Him to give me something that would uplift me, and during studies a miracle happened. SISTER CENTER JUST CALLED US!!! We spoke with her and it uplifted me so much!!!!!!!!!!!!! She told us that Jesus walks beside us and that we are awesome and can do this and even gave us a referral for someone who wants the Sister Missionaries and called the Mission President because that was the only number he had haha!!!!!! It was a huge miracle!!!! From that I know that Heavenly Father hears all the thoughts and intents of our hearts and will openly bless us when we willingly and cheerfully have an eye single to His glory and His will. I love Him SO MUCH and have never felt His pwoer and His strength this strong before. I just feel like everything will be okay. I remember last week leaving Dixie I didn't get to say goodbye to A and then while sitting in front of the Christus Wednesday morning, I looked outside and saw A walking past the VC! I ran out and said goodbye! This week has just been filled with tender mercies like that. I know the Lord is aware of us and what is hard for us, and he showers down little blessings when we cheerfully submit. 
So - awkward funny story, we got a referral to visit this polygamist family. We think the Dad is still actively polygamist because he is gone for half the week every week haha. So we pulled up across the street and walked up their drive and while we walked a huge polygamist van filled with kids and wives came towards us, indicating to get onto the drive, saw us walking up their drive and rapidly turned the indicator off and kept driving straight hahahahah!!! Sister Wilson and I were like "...Was that them?!?!? Did they REALLY just see us and keep driving?!" So we knocked in case someone was home. As we were walking back up the drive towards our car they pulled up AGAIN and this time just put their heads down and ignored us. WE FELT SO AWKWARD!! Part of me wanted to stand there until they acknolwedged my existence! We laughed so much about it though! Cool story too, Del Parson the artist who painted everything ever is a Ward Missionary and lives a few houses away from us. The Ward Mission Leader of that Ward is out of town for a while so we hooked up with Del to get the work progressing. He took us out for lunch and then we went to a teaching appointment with him, which was actually the Stake President's mother who is not a member!! She is old but really cool. Anyway Del is HILARIOUS!!!!!! He is not what I was expecting at all! He has this curly almost shoulder length hair and is really eccentric and all over the place. He was sitting on a bouncy exercise ball during the lesson and just cracking jokes the whole time. We love him so much!!!!! It was one of those surreal moments when you stop and think "What just happened?" haaha we were in this old woman's cluttered house, with Del Parson the artist sitting on a bouncy ball, singing O My Father to an old woman haha. When does that ever happen?! 

We found 3 new investigators this week, which is apparently more than the last Elders found in a few months. We are just contacting everyone and working hard and trying to use time wisely. We can see that the Lord has prepared specific people for us. One is a 17 year old girl whose mother just got baptized. We just clicked with her and will help her progress. The other is this less active family with an upbaptized little boy. We are more concerned with helping the family get back to Church than baptizing the little boy. But again we just clicked with the family and I just love them so much already. We have a lot of work ahead of us but are ready and willing to give it our all. I want to go out strong, working harder than ever before. 

We were invited to the Stake High Council Meeting yesterday morning at 7:30 in which we discussed missionary plans for the Stake and have a great plan ahead. There was also a missionary returning home who reported to the High Council and I silently wept some tears down my cheeks as I thought that that is me in five weeks time. I cannot express how much I love my mission and how sacred this time is to me. The whole Stake knows that I am going home this transfer and they bring it up a lot and I cry every time I think about leaving this place. 

We have a good long week of hard work ahead of us. Please keep us in your prayers. 
I love you all so much and can feel the power of your prayers. 

Sister Nicholls