Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I'm running out of clever subject lines for Accokeek!

Max and Sister Crandall
Dear Family,

     Sorry I spent so long writing individual people that I don't have as much time to write this one:/

     I want to begin with a birthday shout out to two of my wonderful sisters! Lindsay had a birthday last week! She's old, so I'm not going to publicly announce her age;) Amelia's birthday is this upcoming week, and she will be 18 years old! How is my baby sister an adult? How does this happen? I love them both so much:) 

     And now, our investigators:

*Melissa - Remember how she was super pumped and we put her on date? Well...two days later, she texted and canceled. Her fiance isn't on board with it and they're moving this week. It all happened really fast and Sister Olsen and I were a bit confused. I hope the missionaries find her in Caroline County! (Or I'll get moved down there?)

*Wendy - We visited her in the hospital after her knee surgery. She was a bit loopy, but came to as we talked longer. Guess what??? She knows Iz Kamakawiwo'ole! Something like her sister married his brother-in-law, and they were good friends. She even attended his funeral! (As did half of Oahu.)

*Fishers - Sister Olsen and I had a great lesson with them on Saturday! The parents finally admitted to having testimonies:) I think their biggest concern is wanting to be baptized as a family. We're still meeting individually with their daughter, and we're going to meet with mom on Wednesday to help her through Jacob 5. She and I are having a competition to see who can finish El Libro de Mormon first (mom is Puerto Rican). She's in Jacob 2 and I'm in 2 Nephi 25...I'm slowly catching up:)

*Tonya - We finally got a hold of her! She went on vacation with her friends and basically fell off the face of the planet. She didn't make her date, but she still wants to be baptized. She's having a hard time putting what she wants into plan.

*Christy & Alex - CHRISTY IS HOME! She spent that last month in her home state with her mom to play taxi after her mom's surgery. But she's back now:) And she wants to keep learning! I'm so happy! Alex gets home this week from his home country. We've decided to pass him over to the Elders. Hopefully he hasn't had any more dreams about the prophet being evil. I just want to remind you all that he was 8 days away from being baptized... :(

     School was canceled all of last week because of the horrendous weather! It snowed one whole inch! And it even got in the 20's! Yeah...they cancel school and shut down the government for anything less than sunny. We were "grounded" so we decided to have some fun in the snow.

     We had dinner at a member's home this past week, and when we came outside, we discovered that the Elders had "tagged" our car. They left a mormon.org card with a little note:) We have the best Elders. I sent a picture to mom, and she'll put it on the blog! #Iloveaccokeek #celestialward

     I've begun reading the OT again and I am super obsessed. I started a week ago and I'm already almost finished with Exodus. I read the OT and El Libro whenever I get the chance. So much happiness:) I love my new scriptures!

Have a great week! Love, Sister Crandall

Monday, January 20, 2014

Love from the 'Keek

Dear people I love,

     Sister Olsen and I saw some pretty amazing miracles this past week!

*Wendy - She is a referral from a family in our ward. We had the hardest time getting into their home and we could tell she was uninterested. On a whim, we decided to stop by again. I knew she was from Hawaii, so I started asking her questions about the Islands. She let us in and we talked for almost two hours! We found out that her sister, in Oahu, is a member! Wendy said that she's a "temple Mormon" haha:) She had a lot of questions about the temple. That was last week Sunday. Since then, we've been over three more times! I feel a special connection to her because of our culture. Sister Olsen said that sometimes it's like she and I are speaking in Hawaiian because we use a lot of pidgin terms;)

*Melissa - She was a former investigator. When we knocked on the door, she immediately let us in. Just like with Wendy, we taught her multiple times this past week. The elders that taught her were kind of pushy, and so she took a break from being taught. When we taught the Restoration, she talked about how lucky Joseph Smith was to have seen the Father and the Son. She already has a testimony of him! She also said that she knows the Book of Mormon is true! Melissa prayed about baptism and feels good about it. We put her on date. There are a few obstacles, but she is the most faithful person I have ever taught!

*Monica - Sister Olsen and I had about 15 minutes before a lesson, so we decided to do some inspired tracting. We knocked on her door, and she invited us back for the next day. Unfortunately, her dog was sick (he swallowed a lego...) and so we had to wait a week. When we went by a few days ago, she was taking the dog to a vet for a follow-up visit. She said that she wasn't raised in a church, and she's looking for a church where she can make friends and help her baby daughter learn about Jesus Christ. She didn't have time for a lesson, but she promised to be at church next Sunday!

*Brenda - Sister Olsen tracted into Brenda while on an exchange. She told me that Brenda was golden, so I was excited to begin teaching her! Brenda's in the same boat as Monica...she has a Christian background, but wasn't raised in a church and she's looking for the right one. We taught her the Restoration on Sunday and she accepted everything we said. She's excited to begin reading the Book of Mormon and is planning on coming to church next week. She's unsure about being baptized again, so we'll need to help her understand priesthood authority. PS the best part is that Brenda works for the government and her job title is "special investigator."

     If everyone who told us they're going to church next Sunday actually goes, we're going to have at least 9 investigators at church!! I'm crossing my fingers!

     And a few updates on other investigators...Kayla has gone under the radar and Tonya went on vacation without telling us. So much heartbreak:( The Fishers are doing very well! Some ward members don't realize that they're investigators. We taught a Joseph Smith lesson and the spirit was strong. I think they're more ready than they think they are:)

     Here's a happy little story about tracting: Sister Olsen and I are not fans of tracting. President Wilson discourages it because it's not very effective. We normally tract for about two hours or less every week. This past week, we decided to tract in Paradise Estates, which is a trailer park. Best ever. I'm now obsessed with tracting in trailer parks. In the words of the Pokemon world, it was super effective! We found some great potentials, one of whom we have a lesson with tonight. 

     Remember how I was not allowed to go to the temple at all under any circumstances because the area authority said no? Well, the temple ban has been slightly lifted. I'm now allowed to go to the temple with converts or returning less actives! There's a catch...I have to play a "significant role" in their preparation for the temple. This makes it difficult because if I have any baptisms in Stafford, I won't be here in a year from now when they receive their endowment. Also, how much is "significant?" Additionally, we have to give up P-day to go to the temple (which I'm definitely willing to do) and we have to return before 6 pm, which might be difficult for southern/western areas of the mission. I'm preparing people now so that in the future, other missionaries can go to the temple with them. I hope other missionaries are doing the same for me! I really do miss the temple :'(

     This past week I read my favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon again: 2 Nephi 31. I noticed something that I never have before! Where did Nephi gain all of this knowledge? He heard the voice of God! This was Nephi's endowment. He was given the information necessary for his salvation, and it was given to him from the Father and the Son! How cool is that?:)

     The Mission President's Wife Challenge is going really well! I get sore often and it makes me feel good about myself:) Sister Van Buskirk buys us way too many treats...however, I'm pleased to say that Sister Olsen and I have gone about 5 days without candy! Last week we bought a ton of healthy food. Lots of veggies and fruits. We obsess over edamame:) Whenever we feel tempted to eat treats, we say "I love my body more than I love sugar!" So far so good!

     That's all from me:) I hope all of you are happy!

I love you dearly, Sister Crandall

*PS - No one has sent me a link for their mormon.org profile yet and I'm beginning to wonder if anyone ever reads my emails at all... ;)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Quote of the Week in Accokeek

"I got the baby!"

     Sister Van Buskirk is from New Orleans. For Mardi Gras, there's a tradition where people will make a King Cake with a little plastic baby hidden inside. If you get the piece with the baby, you have to purchase or make the next King Cake. Sister Van Buskirk made one for us. Sister Olsen and I only had a small piece, and I'm pretty sure Brother Van Buskirk ate 90% of the rest. On Sunday, Sister Olsen and I were sitting next to some investigators at church. During Sacrament Meeting, Brother Van Buskirk stood up to leave to grab a drink or go to the restroom. When he walked by our pew, he leaned in and whispered, "I got the baby!" and kept on going. Sister Olsen and I laughed so hard!!

     Things are happy, as usual, here in Stafford. Exciting things will be happening in the next few weeks! Tonya's baptismal date is going to be pushed back a bit, but we're still planning on it! The Fishers are progressing. We had a really deep conversation with them and Bishop about what their concerns are for baptism. They enjoy church, and they want it to be true, but they want to gain personal testimonies. I love this family a ton and I'm grateful for the opportunity to teach them!

     The Christlike attribute I'm focusing on for the month of January is knowledge. D&C 88:78-80 is especially instructive. The more we learn about the world, the more influence we can have in it! Learning comes by study and faith (D&C 88:118) and also diligence and obedience (D&C 130:18-19). Why is it important to gain knowledge? The Bible Dictionary explains that "knowledge of divine and spiritual things is absolutely essential for one's salvation...it is one of the endowments of the Holy Ghost." Jesus Christ gained his knowledge through prayer, fasting, and meditation. He wasn't born knowing that he was the Savior of the world. He gained that knowledge line upon line, precept upon precept. Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge in righteous ways. True to the Faith suggests that we should "use [our] education to be an influence for good." As missionaries, the three main lessons that we teach are the restoration, the plan of salvation, and the doctrine of Christ. Knowing and understanding these main tenets of our faith will deepen our conversion. 

     One goal that I've set for this month is to read the Bible Dictionary. I skim through some of the less important terms, and focus on doctrine and important figures in Bible history. There's some pretty neat stuff in there:) One aspect of my study has been especially enlightening, considering an experience we had this past week:

     Sister Olsen and I have talked a lot about the apocrypha. I was able to learn more about it and what it contains by reading the Bible Dictionary. If you don't know what the apocrypha is, I highly suggest looking it up in the BD! 

     Later this past week, while we were serving at Aquia's Table (the Episcopalian Church), we were invited to attend their Bible study class. We decided to go since our appointment had fallen through. The preacher was talking about the apocrypha! He talked about the diaspora (scattering of Israel) and how they spread out over all the land about 600 years before the coming of Christ. He said that they had kept a lot of records that were not included in the typical Bible Canon. Without realizing it, he was legitimizing the Book of Mormon;) The Bible study class wasn't necessarily informative, since the scattering of Israel is something we emphasize as Latter-day Saints, but it was interesting to sit-in and see how they teach compared to how we teach.

     Anyway... Sister Wilson has issued a "Mission President's Wife Challenge" called "More Fit for the Kingdom!" Over the next three months, we earn points for our zone based on how often we exercise "vigorously" and how many pounds we lose. We did a weigh-in at zone meeting, and I'm please to announce that I'm the exact same weight as I was 3.5 months ago! I don't think I can lose weight at this point, but Sister Olsen and I have been working out harder in the mornings. (I can probably lose weight, but it wouldn't be reasonable.) Now I feel guilty whenever I eat a treat:P Please don't send any Valentine's Day candy!!!

     Thursday was car fast, where we aren't allowed to use our car until 5 pm. (Lots of walking, and we were already sore because of the aforementioned tidbit...) We walked over to the apartment complex where the Sister Training Leaders live so we could go on a mini tracting exchange. They serve in the YSA ward, and it's difficult to find investigators. They wanted to go tracting with us so we can find families and they can find YSA's. On our way there, we street contacted a YSA to refer to them! We didn't find anyone tracting, but we were able to give them the referral:) God is so good to us.

     The Fredericksburg Stake has been hosting a life skills course called "Launching Leaders," taught by Elder and Sister Ritchie of the DC South Mission. The Fishers went to it on Saturday, so we were able to attend! It was very informative:) Here are some things I learned:

*This is Elder Ritchie's formula for success:
Get up early
Work hard
Get an education
Find your oil (what makes you valuable)
Make your mark
Prepare to serve

     He talked about writing a personal constitution with "I am" and "I will" statements--which I've already been working on:) He said that the gap between where we are and who we want to become is painful, but transforming our values into habits will close that gap, creating inner peace. The Atonement is what can completely close the gap, and we should learn how to use it every day. Then, of course, he talked about Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People! (He was in management of Franklin-Covey.)

     "Private Victory Precedes Public Victory," and the best example is how Gethsemane preceded Calvary.

*The three private habits are:
Be proactive
Begin with the end in mind
First things first

*The three public habits are:
Think win/win
Understand, then be understood
Create synergy (1+1>2)

*The last habit is to sharpen the saw, or to keep learning!

     It was interesting to hear him discuss the habits (which we've heard about for forever) in a Gospel light. He talked about how missions are the best training ground to implement these habits and the formula for success. Yay!

     I hope some of all of that was insightful:) Wisdom is to use knowledge in righteous ways. Please make sure to always be setting goals! God's greatest goal is for your immortality and eternal life. All of your goals should point to that end. God prepared the way by sending His Son to pay for our imperfections. 

I love you so much! Love,  Sister Crandall

*PS - Any new mormon.org profiles???
*PPS - I got my new scriptures!!

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Accokeeks


     This past week I received the most lovely package in the mail! My parents ordered new scriptures for me to replace the ones that were ruined. I'm so grateful for my Mommy and Hapa! They have done everything to help me be a happy and successful missionary. I'm grateful that the Gospel was an important aspect of my upbringing. I'm grateful for early morning scripture study, family prayer, and family home evening. Mom and Dad, you are the best and I love you eternally:) I am proud to be a member of your forever family:) The new 2013 style scriptures are--as Mom would say--fabulous! The leather is smooth and the font is slightly different, and easier to read. I'm enjoying marking up scripture mastery and other favorite verses! This has helped me as I study the Christlike attribute of knowledge. I'm also hoping to read the Bible Dictionary this month!

     I had a great week in Accokeek! For New Year's, Sister Van Buskirk took Sister Olsen and I on to Quantico Marine Base to do some shopping. We didn't find anything we liked, but it was fun to look around. We even got to do some grocery shopping in the commissary! Afterwards, we drove around to look at some of the training and schooling facilities. It's a great place, but I definitely wouldn't want to live there;)

     Tuesday was an all-day P-day, because we weren't allowed to leave the apartment after six. We stayed in and studied and chatted until we went to bed at ten. We considered setting the alarm for 11:59, but decided to sleep through the new year.

     We saw some amazing miracles this past week!

*Tonya - WOW this woman is ready for baptism! She's making all of the necessary life adjustments. She said that she believes everything we've taught--the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, the plan of salvation, etc. We brought the couple that teaches temple prep with us to talk about the temple. Tonya seemed really excited. AHHH! Keep praying for her!:)

*The Fishers - This is the fam we picked up from the Elders. They've gone through about 6 or 7 Elders, and so there are things that were taught a couple months ago that they've forgotten. They have a lot of outward commitment (ie. activity) but we need to work on their conversion. All of them are reading from the Book of Mormon, and we've committed them to ask specific questions in their prayers.

*Patty - We found her tracting! We taught her to first lesson and committed her to be baptized if she comes to know the Book of Mormon is true and if her husband is on board with it. The best part is that her neighbor is a member of our ward. Sister Ross is amazing! She knows the names of everyone on her street, and they all know that she's a Mormon. Sister Ross doesn't realize it, but she's being a member missionary by knowing her area:) Unfortunately, Patty is really busy and we can't see her again until the end of the month. Fun fact--she's close friend with Merrill Osmond!

*Rebecca - The Elders gave us a referral of an investigator they were teaching a couple months ago. He said he was no longer interested in learning more about the Gospel, but he occasionally came to basketball with the Elders Quorum or service projects at the church. Unfortunately, the teaching record wasn't up-to-date, and it said he lived in apartment 303 without specifying which stairwell. We knocked 303 in all 5 stairwells before we found him. He still isn't interested. However, in the stairwell before him, we found Rebecca! She is golden! She's a junior and she said her mom would be interested too because they've talked about our church before. So excited!

*Leah - She's a less active in our ward that hasn't been attending for almost 10 years. We called her up to make an appointment. When we went over, she poured her heart out to us. She went through a messy divorce and feels very lonely. She doesn't want to come to church yet because of anxiety, but she said we can begin visiting her weekly. She wants to do things with us, like crafts and cooking. This is what I love about missionary work. I love going into people's homes and making them happy:)

*Julio - The man that the ward swore would never become a member... His wife is less active, only because of health complications. (She's the one we raked leaves for.) Over the course of three months of visiting his wife, he slowly warmed up to us. We finally had a discussion, and he talked about his religious beliefs--all of which aligned with what we believe. We went by later in the week with El Libro de Mormon and committed him to read it! I think his wife was shocked:) She was so happy!

*Please pray for all of these amazing people:) I love them so dearly.

     Here was something hard that happened this week:

     Sister Olsen and I LOVE Panera Bread. We went there for dinner on Saturday night and we were sitting next to a table of teen girls. One of them started talking about us and explaining to her friends who we were. We couldn't hear all of the conversation, but words stuck out like "Mormon," "Joe Smith," "indoctrinated," etc. Occasionally they would giggle about something she said. I'm a sensitive little sister, and I could feel the back of my throat getting dry as if I was going to cry. I went to enjoy a nice dinner, and now I was being mocked. The girl started talking about BYU and how all Mormons go to this school and live inside of a bubble.

     It struck me that the world is a bubble. People are so caught up in celebrities, entertainment, immorality, and the materialistic lifestyle. They have no idea what's outside of the bubble--sacred and holy things, like temple worship and the sacrament. Things of eternal importance. Those girls have no idea who they are. They are daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves them dearly and wants them to pray to Him. They're so stuck in their bubble :(

     Anyway, this experience has caused me to reflect on the temple. I'm really sad that I can't go. I remember the covenants and ordinances, but I'm beginning to forget the instruction. I was studying Doctrine and Covenants 88 this morning, around verses 25-35. It amazes me that our glory will depend on how comfortable we feel in God's presence. When we strive to become more like our Savior, we allow ourselves to be quickened by a portion of Celestial glory. The initiatory is what prepares us to receive the endowment. Just think on that for a while:) Verse 28 was especially interesting, and I'm still trying to figure it out. 

     This is your challenge for the week!

If you haven't made a mormon.org profile yet, then make one! After you finish, post it to your facebook page! Here are a few of my favorites:

     Email me your results, please:) I want to see your profile!

I love you all dearly. Thank you for the love and prayers!

Sister Crandall