Monday, November 25, 2013

An email from Accokeek that will probably make Mom worry...

Mom, please sit down.

     I fell down some stairs Thursday morning and injured my back. They were wooden, outdoor stairs at the Rockhill Sisters' home. (Picture is attached.) Sister Olsen was at the top, and she said I didn't really fall or slide...My feet just came out from underneath me and I landed on my back. I hit three steps. One was my lower back, just to the left of my spine. I had an abrasion and small lump that's mostly gone now. That's where most of my pain has been. The next step hit my right shoulder blade, and it's only sore when I stretch too much. I bumped the back of my head, right where my neck and head meet, on the third step. My neck has been very stiff the past few days. 

     It didn't hurt immediately, and I feel like I was especially protected because of my temple covenants/garments. On Friday, I was in a lot of pain. It hurts to stand for too long, and it hurts to sit unless my back is properly supported. The only comfortable chairs are the church pews and the passenger seat in our Toyota. I got a blessing from the Accokeek Elders on Saturday and I talked with the mission nurse. I'm supposed to ice my back three or four times a day and take a lot of advil (anti-inflammatory). It's not as painful now, just sore and uncomfortable. Especially in my hips and lower back. I am still able to perform all of the work normally, except I just go to bed earlier and I ice my back instead of exercising in the mornings. And it's a little more difficult to sleep at night. Sister Olsen said she wants me to see a chiropractor this week. I tested positive for scoliosis in 8th grade, so I'll probably give in and go;)

     I can just imagine what Grandma Crandall would be telling me if she were here right now. Don't worry, Grandma, I remember how to eat an elephant. And I'm sorry for taking hot showers at night. And I only went running once since the accident. I'm sorry to hear that Grandpa Crandall also took a fall this past week! He's actually been on my mind a lot. When I received my blessing, the Elder said that my family is mindful of me and that I am in your prayers. I want you to know that you're in my prayers too!! I wrote letters this past week that I am mailing to Nephi and Santa Maria today!

*Also, read Psalms 145:14.

     Here's an interesting service that Sister Olsen and I were able to do:

     We had a potential investigator named Veinza. We offered to do service, but she said it was a bad time. She was walking slowly, and looked like she had a back injury. When we went back, her sister had just arrived with groceries. We helped the sister carry in the groceries, and she explained that Veinza had been in a car accident. We came back a third time, and Veinza was just leaving. She invited us in and took us to the cutest little pink princess room in the world. She asked us to bag all of the clothes in the closet after separating it into winter and summer clothes piles. Veinza said she had been trying to do it earlier in the day, but that it was too emotionally difficult. She said that we can help her move out the furniture and paint the walls in the future. She then left to run other errands. Her daughter probably died in the car accident. The Spirit was so strong in that room. It took everything in me to keep from crying as we packed away little dresses and shirts and skirts. The girl was probably 10 or 11. Veinza invited us to come back, and we're hoping to see her later this week!

     On Friday, we did a "blitz" in the Rockhill ward, where our district meets together to tract one area. Sister Olsen and I came to a door where the screen was shut, but the door was open to the inside. The walls were covered with hunting knives and guns as decorations. There were three bearded men in the room. I felt like Rapunzel when she enters the Snuggly Duckling bar with all of the ruffians in Tangled. We knocked on the door and one answered. We introduced ourselves as representatives of Jesus Christ and he immediately said, "Sorry, we're devout atheists." Sister Olsen and I didn't really know how to respond, so we told them goodnight. Then we laughed really hard all the way down the driveway. 

     A few doors later, we were stopped in the middle of the street to check our voicemail. It was really dark outside and the street wasn't well lit. I looked behind us and saw three men in the dark coming towards was the devout atheists!!! Needless to say, we got to our car as soon as possible! On that tracting trip I also got my first real door slam. I've had people say or do rude things, but this one woman yelled and slammed the door. There's a first time for everything, right?;)

*Here's an update on our investigators:

     Alex canceled his baptism. He's still struggling to accept a modern day Prophet and that this is the only true church on the earth. He came to church on Sunday and he's been listening to a lot of conference talks. Tonya has stopped progressing. She's back together with her boyfriend. Dean hasn't kept two appointments now, and we think he purposefully planned them when he knew he wouldn't be home. Latrice texted us and said to not come back. 

     Sister Olsen said I'm not allowed to pray for humility anymore, because things like this happen;) I'm doing the best that I can, but people still have their agency. People that I love love love. Isaish 61 talks about the Savior and the work that he does, but I think it also applies to missionary work!  I'm really happy because I know that I'm obedient and faithful and that I have my family supporting my 100%. Except Lindsay is supporting me 200%... :)

     Speaking of which, congratulations to my sister Lindsay on her pregnancy:) I am happy beyond words. I found out from Darci's email about an hour ago, and the people in the library think I'm insane. I am so excited to be an auntie:) I have been praying earnestly for this to happen. Robert and Lindsay will make excellent parents!! I love you both SO MUCH. I look forward to receiving the letter that I was supposed to get;)

     For Thanksgiving I'm eating dinner with a member family, and then helping another family decorate for Christmas. It's an exciting time to be a missionary!:)

I love you. Have a happy week:) Sister Crandall

Monday, November 18, 2013

Staying in Stafford!

Beautiful Sarah at Government Island
I love you all so much:)

     This little Rahrah is staying in Stafford in the Accokeek Ward for 6 more weeks:) I'm so excited for the holiday season! I get to be here--living with a family--for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year! Sister Olsen is also staying, though her visa is supposed to come through soon. We haven't heard yet about whether or not we'll be picking up a third companion.
Sister Van Buskirk is going out of town for a week for a wedding, and we can't stay in the home alone with Brother Van Buskirk. We get to move out for a while! We'll be staying with the Rockhill Ward Sisters, Rushton and Robinson. They're in our district and they are so nice! They live in a little home (not even a townhome!) by themselves. They said they have an extra room with two extra beds. It's kind of like a missionary sleepover:) Sister Olsen and I will be there from this Tuesday until next Tuesday.

Beautiful Government Island
     Last week Monday, for P-day, Sister Olsen and I went to Government Island with the Aquia Sisters (Bennett and Thuerer) and the Stafford Spanish Branch Hermanas (Moon y Arce). It's an old quarry. Stone from Stafford was used to build all of the old colonial buildings in DC. Now it's just a walking path. It was really beautiful, even though the trees here are beginning to look bare. I've attached some pictures and I'll forward on some of Sister Olsen's pictures.
Sister Olsen & Sister Crandall
     On Tuesday, we drove north to Woodbridge for a Zone Conference with Elder Sitati of the First Quorum of the Seventy. The Accokeek Elders (Gambles and Ray) came with us. Sister Olsen got into the carpool lane to avoid all of the government worker traffic. The carpool lane ended up not letting us off until we were all the way in Franconia! That's in the DC South Mission! Oops:) We crossed mission boundaries. Elder Ray was originally in the DC South Mission before the split, so he recognized some of the areas where he had served. Stafford used to be in the DC South Mission too! Remember how I guessed that I was going to serve in DC South? Well, I sort of am!

     Anyway, we made it to the conference on time. Elder Sitati was amazing. He gave some great advice. He said "you will rarely be given to equally good options." And he also talked about how humility is a prerequisite to the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel. Of course I wanted to hug him, which is against mission rules. Fortunately, I was able to sit next to him during lunch and I hugged his wife:) I love meeting General Authorities!!

     Here's a little funny story: Sister Olsen and I had an appointment fall through. On our way out of the apartment stairwell, we saw a man moving things out of his car and into his apartment. We offered to help. He almost accepted, and then said: "No, I couldn't make you do that. You're too pretty. I wouldn't want you to get dirty." It was so funny! Next time we'll send the Elders to take care of it.

     Mommy. Sunday was the Primary Program. I don't have much to say about it, but I just wanted to make you aware. I only cried thrice:) I love kids and I think I want six of them. Can you imagine? Six little people running around me calling me Mom! (That means six little people running around you calling you Grandma.) I can't think of anything better.

     Sister Olsen and I also wore all black to church yesterday. We were in mourning of the impending loss of our cute girlish figures. Over the past week, we were fed dinner at least ten times. People keep shoving food down our throats. Sister Olsen's Auntie sent a package that was filled with candy, cake mix, and gingerbread cookie mix. We ended up giving most of it to the Elders. There's no way I could eat that much food! We wrote "no desserts, please!" on the meal calendar. We've decided to cut out sweets and desserts completely. We also follow the "one-roll-rule" at dinner to keep our carbs to a minimum. Sister Olsen got a pic of our dark attire, and I will forward that on when it comes:)

     Here's an update on Tonya and Alex: Tonya is back in town! We heart attacked her door and it was so much fun! We're going to visit her today, and hopefully help her paint her living room next week. She's been talking about how her conversion story is coming together. I am so happy for her and I love her to death:) Alex is still progressing, though we've pushed his baptismal date back a week.

     We gave Alex the coolest assignment this past week! He's been getting into and he loves to watch conference addresses. We invited him to check out, and gave him the challenge to find our profiles. He didn't know our first names, so he was going to have to sort through a lot of people. Our hint was that we both have Bible names (Sister Olsen's name is Esther). After about an hour, he texted us saying that he had found us!

     My challenge for you is to find me on! It shouldn't be too hard:) After that, I challenge you to make your own profile! It's really easy. If you need help, ask Dad because he already has one. Then you can share it on facebook, through email, etc. We use the computers on Friday to make electronic progress reports. We also get an hour to mess around on and I hope I can find some of you by then!

     Alex and Tonya aren't the only people we are teaching. We are teaching a ten year old boy. His parents are divorced. (Mom is less-active, dad is Catholic.) The boy wants to be baptized, but his dad won't let him. Another woman we're teaching has had significant medical challenges. She is Clarissa-sized! She lost a son at 17 weeks...very sad. But she has a lot of faith and she loves our reading assignments. Another woman always says "coolbeans." We told her about prophets, and she responded with "coolbeans." This one man is in the Marines (we are minutes away from Quantico Marine Base) and he just had surgery, so he's staying at home for the next few weeks. That means we have a few weeks to love him into the Gospel! Another Marine is trying to drop us, but we asked him if we could visit with him one last time. There's a woman who contacted the church because she wanted to be taught. She is a former member, but requested to have her records deleted over 35 years ago. She won't get baptized any time soon because she's been living with her boyfriend for 20 years and they don't want to get married until next fall.

     The final thought I want to leave with you is about depression. The Relief Society is putting on a dinner program Thursday night all about depression, titled "Like a Broken Vessel" after Elder Holland's talk. The Bishop's wife will be speaking. We're hoping Tonya and a few other investigators can make it! I've been thinking a lot about depression and the influence it's had on my life. Depression makes dreams and memories and hopes for the future very vivid. Because of that, it's often difficult to live in the present. Days can seem dull and colorless compared to the things I used to be doing, or the things I'll be doing in the future. Sister Olsen and I always try to do fun things to change it up. For example, wearing black to mourn the impending weight-gain of the Christmas Season. It's simple, but it gives me something to be excited about in the present. Writing in my journal is also very therapeutic because it helps me realize how fulfilling my life is right now. 

     Even though depression has been the biggest challenge in my life so far, it has also been the greatest blessing. Because of my depression, I have to be passionate and excited about things. If I didn't have this perspective, I think I would take a lot of things for granted. I am so happy to be here! Choosing to serve a mission is the hardest decision I have ever made. It's the only hard decision I've ever had to make! But I know that I made the right decision:)

     Quick shout out to my good friend Stella, who just received her mission call! She'll be serving in Manchester, England, speaking Mandarin, beginning in March. Stella and I used to work together as custodians in the JFSB on BYU Campus. She also attends the Asian Ward so she knows Dad:) 

Text from a Member
I love you all so much. Have a beautiful week:)

*And send me mail! 

Sister Sarah Crandall
110 Galway Ln.
Stafford, VA 22554

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sweater Weather in Accokeek

Waiting for Library Computers!
To the people I love:

     Most days it hovers around 65 degrees, but yesterday it hit 75. I'm loving the weather here! I've never seen such a warm November!

     Let's talk about Stafford. A woman in my ward had to explain this to me. Because Virginia is a commonwealth, not a state, it's organized differently. There are some cities, like Fredericksburg. But most places are counties. Stafford is a county, not a city. Spotsylvania and Caroline are counties, not cities. Accokeek isn't a city in Stafford county, it's a creek that my ward is named after. Aquia, Garrisonville, Rockhill, Culpeper, etc., are the names of other wards in Stafford county...but they aren't cities. 

     Mommy asked about the Accokeek Ward: I LOVE THIS WARD. The Bishop is amazing. The Ward Mission Leader contacts us at least three or four times a week. This Relief Society President...I cannot believe how much she does! She is super woman. We get fed about 5 times a week, if not more. People are always asking what we need and what they can do for us. I know the names of at least half of the active families. 

     I am praying praying praying that I'll get to stay for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Next Sunday Sister Olsen and I will find out if we're being transferred! Most Brazil visa waiters spend 4 months state-side, so there's a pretty good chance she'll be out of here before Christmas. When her visa comes through, she'll be given 3 weeks notice.

     Here's an update on my investigators:

*ALEX is really progressing! Last night we had a break through lesson about modern day prophets. We watched President Uchtdorf's address "Come Join with us" in Spanish with him. He is so prepared! Also, he likes to write his prayers down. He wrote us three prayers in Spanish and gave them to us! I can't remember if I mentioned this last week or not, but when Alex prayed about baptism, he had a dream where he was standing on clear blue water and Sister Olsen and I were there! AHHH! Today we are fasting with him to help him gain a testimony of the Priesthood.

*TONYA (I had her name spelled wrong earlier) is struggling and needs lots of prayers and love. Her mom passed away and so she's out of town right now. We're keeping in contact and she really appreciates our friendship. I love Tonya so so so much. My heart is the size of Virginia for this woman.

*WALTER was unsuccessfully passed over to the Elders...He wasn't outside like normal for our appointment, so we knocked on his door. His daughter answered and said he's having a hard time coming to grips with God and Jesus Christ being separate. She said he's going to continue reading from the Book of Mormon and he wants us to come back in two weeks. We are 9999% sure that he was fed anti by his pastor who we met previously (and I mentioned a few weeks ago). So much sadness. You should know that my entire mission, I've only cried for sadness once, and that was my last time in the Celestial room of the Provo Temple. (And I was crying because I don't get to go to the temple until April 2015.) I almost cried about's a pretty big deal. At that moment, I wanted a Father's Blessing more than anything. I sure miss you, Dad!:) I hope that the Spirit works on Walter as he continues to read from the Book of Mormon.

     Happier things: Sister Olsen and I drove down to Richmond (about an hour South) on Saturday for "return and report," where all of the greenies and their trainers meet up. President Wilson started talking about iPads and missionary work. By the end of 2014, every missionary will have an iPad. Their OWN iPad. He said that in the future, missionaries will receive their iPads after they accept their mission calls. They will use them for pre-MTC training, in the MTC, in the field, and they will keep them when they go home. Area books will be completely digital and accessible by ward mission leaders, Bishops, the missionaries, mission presidents, Salt Lake, etc. Daily planners will also be digital. iPads will be used for all areas of proselyting: tracting, street contacting, teaching, etc. Eventually, all missionaries will be on facebook, too! He's not sure when it will come to Richmond, but all missions will be using this technology by the end of 2014. I'm hoping it will come here in the summer. That way I will get to serve 9 months without it, and 9 months with it.

     As many of you know, I love journaling. Right now I'm keeping two journals: I have my large plates, and my small plates. In my large plates, I keep a record of everything that happens as well as my notes from devotionals, Sundays, and meetings. In my small plates, I only write things that I learn or revelation I receive. I keep track of my goals and progress. I write important questions and then answer them over time. Examples: What are mission habits I want to keep for the rest of my life? What answers did I receive in General Conference? Who do I want to be in 18 months? I also take notes about my Patriarchal Blessing, like things I need to remember, blessings I've been given, and my spiritual gifts. I don't think I'll turn back to my large plates very often, but my small plates are something I'll treasure for the rest of my life. I also call my small plates my "becoming book" which is really cheesy, I know...but everything in the book is about helping me become more of who God wants me to be.

     In my small plates/becoming book, I have a page for each Christlike attribute. This is what I have written about humility:

-Don't think less of myself, but think about myself less.
-When I pray, give thanks and acknowledge God's hand.
-"Recognize gratefully [my] dependence on the Lord." (True to the Faith)
-Always speak respectfully about my leaders
-"Pride is competitive" (PMG) and so is envy!
-Alma 26
-Contrite, meek, submissive, teachable
-Humility is strength! (Ether 12:27)
-Veil will be rent and I will see God (D&C 67:10)
-Fasting builds humility
-John the Baptist is a great example of humility!

     I hope that gives you some ideas of things to look at or work on:)

     Last story...Sister Olsen and I went with some neighbors to their church's weekly service project. It's an Episcopalian Church and they serve free dinner each Wednesday night. Everyone was very friendly and wanted to know more about missionary service. We're hoping to go back every week now!:)

     Another shout-out to Sister Miller, who is flying to Charlotte, North Carolina today! How cool is it that my best friend and I are both serving on the East Coast? In neighboring missions?? The coolest. I love her like crazy and she will do amazing things.

I love you all SO MUCH. LIKE A LOT!! Please write me:)  Sister Crandall

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Spooky Week in Accokeek

     As many of you are aware, today is my Mommy's birthday! When my Mom was my age, she was in a pretty serious motorcycle accident, and as a result, has large scars on both legs. It's never been a concern for me. Mom is beautiful and perfect as she is. However, I know that when she was younger (and maybe even now), it has caused some embarrassment. 

     Here is a quote from Elder Holland that I love:

“Jesus has chosen, even in a resurrected, otherwise perfected body, to retain for the benefit of His disciples the wounds in His hands and in His feet and in His side-signs, if you will, that painful things happen even to the pure and the perfect; signs, if you will, that pain in this world is not evidence that God doesn't love you; signs, if you will, that problems pass and happiness can be ours.”

     God's definition of perfect is very different from the world's. When we obtain our perfectly glorious resurrected bodies, I don't think that means that we're going to look like the people in magazines and on TV. In fact, I hope I don't look like that. I think we'll look like ourselves. God promises that we will see as we are seen, and be known as we are known. My Mommy will be perfect, whether or not she retains those scars on her legs.

     I'm so grateful for my Mom. I wouldn't be on a mission if it wasn't for her. Not to say that she pressured me, but my decision stemmed from the way that I was raised. My Mom was diligent in holding family scripture study and weekly FHE. She taught me the Gospel and helped me build my own testimony. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of my Mother, who has made me everything I am today:) I love you, Mom. Happy birthday!:)

     I have three investigators that I want to talk about:

*TANYA is still progressing and working towards her baptismal date! Sister Olsen and I are going to be helping her paint her living room soon, too. I love teaching Tanya because it's like visiting a friend. She always has the kindest things to say to us and her faith is phenomenal. She came to church yesterday and loved it! Everyone wanted to meet her. Please pray for Tanya!:)

*WALTER, I mentioned briefly last week. He's kind of old and aloof. We always show up at his apartment complex at the same time every week and wander around until we find him. Sometimes he's on his front porch, other times he's behind the building on a bench. I have the biggest crush on Walter. Me as a missionary loves him as an investigator:) Last week, we found him reading from the Book of Mormon!! However, Sister Olsen and I have felt really strongly like we need to pass him over to the elders. We threatened them and said that they have to love Walter into the Celestial Kingdom.

The "Princess" Sisters!
*ALEX is our next door neighbor. He's from Honduras, and was taught the missionary lessons at age 17. He has read the entire Libro de Mormon! He has a lot of faith and said that he's ready to be baptized. He's only hesitant because he wants his wife to be baptized, too. Also...he bore his testimony at church yesterday!!! I imagine that what I felt is what Mom and Dad feel when one of us girls bear our testimonies. Alex's daughter Kelly loves us and drew us a picture! I've attached my picture of the picture.

     Here's another Holland quote that I came across:

"You make or break your mission every morning of your life. You tell me how those morning hours go from 6:30 am until you are on the street in your mission, whatever time it is; you tell me how those hours go, and I will tell you how your day will go, I will tell you how your month will go, I will tell you how your year will go and how your mission and life will go."

     I think this applies to post-mission life as well. My goals are to use every morning to become more of who God expects me to be as well as to make the decision to wake up happy every single morning!:)

     NOW, the moment you've all been waiting for...The Restoration!

     The Van Buskirks came home early Halloween morning. We drove to the post office with Sis. VBK and brought home so many letters and so many packages! I've attached a picture with me and all my mail. It was a glorious feast! Thank you everyone for your love and support. As awesome as it was, I've come to the realization that mail isn't what makes me happiest. Hearing Tanya commit to live the commandments, finding Walter reading from the Book of Mormon, and listening to Alex's testimony were the highlights of my week. I LOVE inviting others to come unto Christ.

     The night before was the ward Halloween party. Sister Olsen and I went as elders. You can see the attached picture. I love the Accokeek ward!! I have come to love these people so so so much.
     Alrighty, I'm glad we're all on board with working on Christlike attributes each month. Here's a full schedule of the months and attributes:

*Charity and Love - Oct 2013 & July 2014
*Humility - Nov 2013 & Aug 2014
*Faith - Dec 2013 & Sep 2014
*Knowledge - Jan 2014 & Oct 2014
*Patience - Feb 2014 & Nov 2014
*Virtue - Mar 2014 & Dec 2014
*Diligence - Apr 2014 & Jan 2015
*Hope - May 2014 & Feb 2015
*Obedience - Jun 2014 & Mar 2015

     My Ward Mission Leader (Max Houtz) said this about charity: "Charity is nothing more than helping others feel good about themselves."

     It's so simple. I love that. Charity doesn't have to be giving money or giving time. It's about helping people realize their divine nature and potential. Now on to November, which is humility! Sister Olsen and I have a nasty habit of talking ourselves down. I think my hair is frizzy, my skin has zits, or I'm displeased with my waistline. Talking badly about myself doesn't help me focus on God and His hand in my life. My goal is to think better about myself, and to think about myself less. I want to look in the mirror in the morning, and then spend the rest of my day looking outward. I also am going to always say positive things about my leaders to show support for them. God has given them stewardship over me for a reason.

     Speaking of God, this is the testimony that I want to share today: God knows you and He loves you. God loves me SO MUCH. I know this because we went to visit a potential investigator...when we arrived, they ordered pizza and fed us cheesecake. I have been craving cheesecake for about 134593876 days now, and I finally got some! God loves me so much!!!

And I love you too.  Sister Crandall