I’m In The Drive Through at Chik Fil A Right Now Bummin Their WiFi‏

The assistants & us with the Craig's grandkids

The assistants & us with the Craig’s grandkids

I’m going to run through my week with you chronologically.

Monday:

President Craig called the night before & told us his 13 year old granddaughter was in town & wanted Sister Clemens & I to take her out with us! So after P Day ended, we drove over to the mission home to pick up Emmy. She went with us to the FHE (family home evening) group our ward has for recent converts and investigators. The person leading the evening decided to pick “forgiveness” as the topic for the evening. We defined forgiveness as: Letting go of the idea that things could have turned out any differently.

It was a great evening full of healing & love. We were so glad that Emmy was there to experience it with us and be such a stalwart example of the youth in the church! After that, we dropped her back off at the mission home & chatted with her family for a minute. Before we left, the assistants showed up with their son who had went on trade offs with them that night! So naturally we had a little photoshoot with all of us. Think prom, but way more righteous.

So we go to leave, and President walks outside with us & closes the door. He starts talking about the weather & small talking like he’s going to say something important any second. Then he says goodnight and walks away! Very funny. He’s a funny man.

Emmy & us

Emmy & us

Tuesday:

We get a call from Elder Winter (the senior missionary in charge of vehicles) telling us that the mission’s vehicle fleet is being cut down substantially & that we were chosen to be in a car share! A car share is when we share a car with a neighboring companionship. Pretty self explanatory. We would have to switch which companionship has the car every three days. Right. In the middle. Of this dang. Florida. Heat. Oh, joy. But we love tough things! So, yay! THEN we got a call from President Craig. (Maybe we were crossing our fingers that he was going to tell us we didn’t have to be in a car share. …maybe.) but nope. He told us that there is a sister in our mission that is going home early. That earlier that week, he had informed a trio (a companionship with three instead of two) that one of them would be going to the area that had the sister going home. Then he told us that when we were at his house the night before, it suddenly became clear to him that I, Sister Aure, actually needed to go this new area & that I was to pack up all of my things and leave the next morning! Six months in my first area, three weeks in my second area. …alright! I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord!

My new area!

My new area!

Wednesday:

I went to my first & last district meeting. The assistants said they were so sad to see me go & one of them said in his 18 months months of being a missionary, he had never enjoyed working with a companionship as much as he did with us. He also said it was the biggest compliment that President could pay anyone to have his granddaughter come out with us. It was sad to say goodbye to the missionaries I’d come to know & love in just three weeks! Including the other set of elders in the ward. Everyone was just so great. There was such a high energy buzz of missionary work in President’s ward.

We then drove to my new area: Dunn Avenue. Dunn Ave is the Downtown Jacksonville ward. It’s also the same size as the rest of the stake. In other words, huge. Dunn Ave ward boundaries has a street in it called Moncreif, which is apparently a famous street! The street is famous for the high amount of shootings/murders that have happened on it. Parents & loved ones, I do hope you’re not watching the news about what happens in Jacksonville everyday, because it would just unnecessarily worry you. But there’s so much more art & life & culture here than there ever could be in Mandarin, so just know I’m happy. We got to the church & I had a short interview with President. He also said that he was so sad that he received the inspiration that I needed me to be in Dunn Ave. He told me to not be surprised if I end up in Mandarin Second again someday. Oh, joy….!…? & I met Sister Coutts (rhymes with boots) . My new companion. Who was Sister Pasko’s last companion! How fun is that? Sister Coutts is really great. She’s 21, & from Murray & Bountiful. She’s funny & loves to work hard.

Sister Coutts

Sister Coutts

Thursday:

On the way home from our dinner appointment (I was driving) sister Coutts let out this frustrated yell and said, “I just got this insane spiritual prompting that you need to turn around and we need to go talk to that lady that was outside playing with her kid!” So I promptly turned around, and we awkwardly pulled up to her house while she was staring at us wondering why we just pulled up to her house. We introduced the restoration to her (Christi) & she said that she’s been searching for for a treasure her whole life that she just hasn’t found yet. She invited us inside & we taught her all about the Book of Mormon while her 4 year old daughter put sticky pink lipstick on me and sister Coutts. We were so excited for her to come to church! Aaaaaaand then her dad broke his hip so she’s out of town for awhile. Dang it, Satan!

Pink lipstick with Riley

Pink lipstick with Riley

Friday:
My friend Laura took us out to our favorite place of 5 Guys because it turns out she works right by my new apartment! How fun! It’s always the best time seeing her. Also there was a torrential downpour of rain. The usual.

Laura!!!
                                     Laura!!!

Saturday:

Almost died due to it being a million degrees.

My melted gummy worms

My melted gummy worms

it's so bloody hot

it’s so bloody hot

Sunday:

I got to meet the amazing, eclectic ward of Dunn Ave. I sang with the choir a song I had never heard before & also said opening prayer in sacrament meeting.

I am so excited to figure out why exactly it was so important for me to be here. Dunn Ave is like a whole different mission entirely, so hopefully it will help me become a more well rounded missionary. Seriously so excited.

Anyway, so yeah, that’s my life. Never a dull moment here.

Here’s my spiritual thought for the week:

When we try to develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ rather than merely cultivating faith as an abstract principle of power, we understand the meaning of the Savior’s words: “If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me” (Moro. 7:33). (“Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ”)

 

Sister Aure

If We Don’t Try, Then We Don’t Do; If We Don’t Do, Then Why Are We Here?‏

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This week has been a crazy week & I always feel like that, but I never feel like anything I write about is particularly crazy, so I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.

We met this guy named Roberto who is 82 & came to church & just loved it so much. “It feels like a family here. I feel the spirit!” We invited him to baptism that day with his wife and they both said yes!! But then the adversary got to them. & Roberto called us today saying that he was going to take a break & that they were moving too fast & that we shouldn’t stop by this week. We’re going to drop by a Spanish Book of Mormon & hopefully help him feel the spirit of truth again.

The place I’m in right now is playing a bunch of bad, early 2010’s pop & is super distracting. So. Sorry about the quality of this email. That’s what pop music does to you, kids! It mushes your brain.

We had Zone Meeting this week which was really great. We have the biggest zone in our mission of 38 missionaries. In March, we had 2 baptisms, in April we had 6, & in May we had 12. Our zone leaders set a goal for every companionship to have a baptism by the end of the month which would make the end result 19 baptisms for June. This is why Roberto was such a miracle. We’re hoping that he can continue use to be our “Jumpsuit June” miracle & that he, along with his wife, will accept all of the blessings God has in store for them.

Our tye dye shirts we made at zone p day! Mine looks bloody.

Our tye dye shirts we made at zone p day! Mine looks bloody.

After Zone Meeting we went out with Sister Francom & Jensen to Steak N Shake & just loved each other.

My favorite people

My favorite people

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about faith & what the heck that even means. Is it something you just have? What does it do? Why does it exist? I read this great thing in the bible dictionary about it that says, “Strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm ones faith.” So, in other words, miracles don’t happen because we’re faithful & we “believe”, but more along the lines of, “…And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”

& obedience isn’t a one time, “Oh, I obeyed the word of wisdom today, I guess I deserve blessings!” But a lifelong pursuit. Although every time we choose the right, we are showing God that we want to follow His will, if we’re choosing right just because we want blessings, that’s not a true conversions. We aren’t really learning obedience, we’re just learning how to play the system. Which doesn’t work with God, don’tcha know.

When I imagined my mission before I arrived, I imagined my setting apart & life experiences helping me soar above the average new missionary quota. & I think maybe we could feel that way about anything in life. Because you were chosen for a calling, doesn’t that mean you’re perfect for the job? That you’ll be a master at it to begin with? Same with becoming a wife, or a father? Or that new job you’ve been dreaming of? You got that position because you’re the best one to do it, right? Yeah. Kind of. We’re the right ones for the job, when we do it with God. Elder Robert D Hales said it best when he gave his first General Conference address as a member of the 12 apostles:

“To be an apostle (missionary) of the Lord, I am finding, is a process- a process of repentance & humility, to look inward as we’ve been instructed & ask for forgiveness & strength to be what I should be. Unfortunately, I am not a perfect man (woman), and infallibility does not come with the call. Therefore, I must ask Heavenly Father for forgiveness for those things which I have done which are less than perfect & ask forgiveness of anyone I might have offended knowingly or unknowingly because of my personality or style.”

I guess it all comes down to humility. Who woulda thought.

Sister Aure

This Popsicle melted before I could finish it):

This Popsicle melted before I could finish it):

Nightly planning

Nightly planning

These cute kids go tracting with us every week.

These cute kids go tracting with us every week.

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                              Backwoods Tracting

Ch-ch-ch-changes‏

Deep South, Ya'll

Deep South, Ya’ll

I don’t even know what to say in this email. I wish I could adequately explain everything that happened this week, but I know it’s just not gonna happen. We’re a little short on time today due to it being Zone Pday. I think we’re grilling & playing with water balloons & Tye-dyeing shirts & playing my new favorite sport of basketball. That’s a lot to fit in 3 hours. I hope the zone leaders know what they’re doing. Sometimes elders aren’t very good at planning events….but that’s okay! We all have different strengths.

All of the missionaries serving in our ward

All of the missionaries serving in our ward

I guess probably the most exciting thing that’s happened is we somehow found the two sketchiest neighborhoods in all of Mandarin & tracked both of them. Let me explain this to you though, so you can understand with me why it’s so weird. Mandarin is like to Jacksonville, what Taylorsville or Murray is to Salt Lake City. So, you know. Very suburby. Middle class, to upper middle class with some random lower class apartments/housing. Very average American. So we’re driving past this strip mall towards the street we had set our “Golden Hour” for. (Golden Hour is an hour that our mission spends everyday knocking on doors & finding people to teach.) it’s a street we’d never been to before…we just saw it on our map. & my beloved Sister Pasko, back when she was living in my apartment when she first came out, had labeled it “Outer Darkness”. So naturally, we were like, “yeah! Let’s go there! Sounds fun!” ANYWAY. so we’re driving in this south salt lake-esque strip mall place and the GPS says to turn, so we turn & suddenly we’re In the land of backwoods Georgia, like what just happened. There were some trailers that had been there since probably the early 1800’s (don’t worry, I don’t over exaggerate) that had basically been eaten by this Floridian swamp & looked like it came straight out of the walking dead. And yes, there were people still living there.

So we knocked the neighborhood.

We met one assumed (but very nice) illegal drug addict, we talked about the Book of Mormon & Joseph Smith with a pure bred baptist man for about a half hour, & we had a photoshoot with an old abandoned church & cemetery. So. Hour well spent? Totally.

old southern cemetery

old southern cemetery

Old southern church

Old southern church

We have plans to go back this week. We only knocked on the tip of the iceberg.

We had interviews with President this week. He said he’s proud of me & the work I’m doing. He really liked how thoroughly Sister Clemens & I plan. He showed off our planner to the district, which was funny. He asked me if I will be well enough to train next transfer, so we’ll see about that.

We’ve been working with a lot of people who haven’t come to church in some time & are trying to help them feel more comfortable with the idea. One of the ladies was a professional voice coach back in the day & is helping Sister Clemens & I with a song we’re singing in sacrament at the end of the month. She said she would come see it!

So yeah. That’s what’s going on here. We had two friends at church on Sunday & another baptism! We have an elder that’s from China serving in the ward & he & his companion have been teaching this old Chinese lady for a couple months now & she finally got permission from her husband to be baptized! She was crying the whole day, and said, “when I moved from China a year ago, I did not know anything about the bible or about God. But I have learned, and this is my new life, and I am so lucky!” It was the sweetest thing ever. She’s so great. The gospel blesses & changes people, my friends.

Chinese candy

Chinese candy

A picture with our cutest friend Lindsay. She got baptized last month!!!!‏

A picture with our cutest friend Lindsay. She got baptized last month!!!!‏

Being on a mission is the weirdest thing I think anyone can ever do. It feel like I was just home yesterday but at the same time, it feels like I’ve never not been a missionary. I feel like the same person I was, but look back at my past bad decisions & know I could never make them now. So I guess maybe I’m not the same person? Or I am. I’m just a changed person. Because people are allowed to become & grow & do whatever the heck they want. Ya feel me? There’s too many worldy things & ideas & views telling us that we need to look act be a certain way & that once we’re someone, we’re that person & that’s that. You’ve made it.

I think that’s crap, man. If there’s anything I’ve learned about the Gospel of my beloved Savior Jesus Christ, it’s that He promotes, inspires, & enables change. We should never be the same person we were yesterday. Even if today i am worse than i was yesterday at cleaning up after myself, maybe I’m way better at laughing & being a friend. Our spirits are liquid. We must allow it to stay that way. We can’t box it in & freeze it to fit a certain shape. That’s squashing every hope of everything we were supposed to become.

Soap box over.
Sister Aure out.

Mandarin. Not the language, or the fruit, but the town.‏

So much love

So much love

Goodbye beach!

Goodbye beach!

The Mortensen's we would meet with them every week!!! They've got two sons on missions right now!

The Mortensen’s we would meet with them every week!!! They’ve got two sons on missions right now!

Lexi Zickella a youth from the ward! She has two siblings on missions right now!!

Lexi Zickella a youth from the ward! She has two siblings on missions right now!!

Rita's custard...the only thing worth eating dairy for.

Rita’s custard…the only thing worth eating dairy for.

I made it to Mandarin safely! Which isn’t too big of a deal, considering it’s like…20 minutes away from my last area. I already miss the breezy ocean air & Sister Jensen making fun of me. But mostly I miss eating dinner with Laura*. & every other single member there. Transfers was fun, especially because every single one of my O.G. emptysea district members were there. Of course we made time for a group photo. Six month mark! Sister Pasko will be half way training for the 4th time & going home next month, which is just a little too crazy for me.

I left Sister Jensen & Sister Francom with no miles (we are allotted a certain amount of miles for the month on our cars) because I had a feeling I would be leaving. Karma’s real because guess who else had no miles left for the month? That’s right! Me & Sister Clemens. & she also didn’t have a bike. So one day we walked for seriously 6 miles in the dead heat of the no sea breeze inland Florida only to get a text 5 minutes away from our appointment saying that they were canceling. We pretended we didn’t get it, & went anyway & it turned out to be a really good lesson. There is no way I am going to walk 6 miles in the heat of day in a skirt and blouse & not teach a lesson, dang it!

After we biked 2 million miles

After we biked 2 million miles

Cute Sister Clemens from La Grande, Oregon

Cute Sister Clemens from La Grande, Oregon

Because this is President Craig’s ward, it is also the Assistants to the President’s ward. We actually have THREE sets of missionaries in this ward. Two elders, one sister. I think it’s safe to assume I will not be eating with members as much as I used to. Anyway. So I’ve been here for like….5 days, right? I’ve been to TWO BAPTISMS FOR THE WARD ALREADY. and there’s another scheduled for next week. All three are the assistant’s. This is crazy. & incredibly intimidating. & also a great learning opportunity.

Emptysea district 6 month anniversary!! Elder Warner's tie is still always too short.

Emptysea district 6 month anniversary!! Elder Warner’s tie is still always too short.

Miracle of miracles, we got an old bike working for Sister Clemens & rode all the way across town to do some door to door contacting one day. We met this awesome 23 year old guy named Vilson. He’s Albanian & lived in Italy for 6 years. He normally goes to the Catholic Church next door to our church and never heard of Mormons before, so he agreed to come to church! He could only stay for sacrament, but he ended up knowing one of the members there that invited him to the YSA family home evening tomorrow which he said he was going to go to! We agreed to go to his catholic service next week (which I’m excited about because I’ve always wanted a reason to go to a catholic service)and he said that he’ll probably come next week so he can stay for all three hours. We’re excited about that.

My first morning here, I was praying before starting my studies. I asked Heavenly Father to help me understand what my purpose in Mandarin was going to be. I wanted to know what He wanted me to focus on. The first couple verses I read in the Book of Mormon were 2 Nephi 10:19-20. Paraphrased, it says, “…It is a choice land above all other lands, wherefore I will have all men who dwell thereon that they shall worship me….let us remember Him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off….but we have been led to a better land.”

I am here to preach His gospel. I am here to shed the skin of who I used to be. As long as we are following God’s commandments, we will always be exactly where we are supposed to be. I am here for a very specific purpose. Step by step that purpose will be revealed to me. Stay tuned as we figure out together just exactly what it is.

*i know you read this blog, Laura. Even though one time you sent me an email that said, “Thanks for sharing the link to your website. Loved the inspirational messages. Though, I mostly just skimmed your posts for all the parts about me. Too bad there won’t be any more of those.” Don’t tell me what there will & won’t be!

“Keep it; it’s useful.” -Sis A. “You’re useful, but I don’t get to keep you!” -Sis J‏

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This week has been crazy! & the best. & crazy. Tuesday was Zone Conference in Mandarin! Zone Conference happens once a quarter. It’s an all day event of President & Sister Craig & sometimes the Assistants to the President giving us trainings and pumping us up & helping us use our time & efforts more effectively. We talked a lot about how we can communicate to ward leaders how they can best help us in our missionary efforts. I was asked to sing a duet with a sister Stitt in the zone. I stressed forever about picking the right song & finally settled on The Iron Rod. Which is kind of weird. Cause that’s not a song normally sung at things. Sister Winter (one of my favorite senior missionaries) picked out a BEAUTIFUL arrangement. We sang it. It was great. & then Sister Craig starts giving a training specifically on the Iron Rod chapter of the Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 8. So inspired. It was crazy. God is in the details, my friend.

Noel is progressing swimmingly. He has a goal to be baptized on the 7th of June, which also happens to be his birthday! We were a little on edge this week because we invited him to go to the YSA branch institute to see if he liked it better over there. We definitely want what’s best for Noel, even if that means saying goodbye and having him attend a different congregation. So we asked him to pray about it & let us know what he thought. On Sunday he attended a baptism with us for the Atlantic Beach congregation that we share a building with. He loved it. He was so excited about it. He told us that he wants to attend church with the JAX Beach wars & that he invited his mom to come to church the following Sunday…and she said yes! This is what it’s all about: letting the gospel catch fire to your soul & lighting other people up with that fire. So we’re really excited about that.

Last week we met this guy named Tommy with twin children. They came to basketball last week & loved it! Who knew people liked basketball this much? It’s been an awesome way for our members to invite their friends to our church building in a non threatening way…and still have fun with them! I wasn’t as good this week. Beginner’s luck, I guess. I hope they have basketball in my new area so I can keep practicing.

WHICH BRINGS ME TO MY NEXT IMPORTANT NOTE: yesterday at approximately 9:35 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, I found out that I will be leaving my ever beloved JAX Beach. After six, beautiful, glorious, short, long months. I cannot even begin to express the amount of love I have this ward & part of the world. Being here has taught me invaluable lessons that I will take with me wherever I go. I learned how to work harder & smarter. I learned how to love bigger & more freely. I learned that it’s okay to let others see your imperfections. I learned that 99.9% of the time, people are a lot cooler & better & nicer than you think they are. I learned that the Lord loves me along with every single one of His brothers & sisters. We can all do tough things, but with the Lord we can do impossible things.

My district minus my companion one last time + Memorial Day colors!‏

My district minus my companion one last time + Memorial Day colors!‏

I will be moving to the Mandarin 2nd ward which is actually President & Sister Craig’s ward. Which is a little nerve wracking. But I’m excited for the challenge. My new companion will be Sister Clemenz who is currently Sister Stitt’s companion, who used to be Sister Jensen’s companion. Small world, man. She’s been out four months & is also from Oregon. 2 from Oregon, 1 from Washington. I guess I’m just going to have to spend a lot of time in the northwest when I get home.

I’m going to miss Sister J like crazy. But we’ll still be in the same zone, so I’ll get to see her sometimes. She’s definitely become one of my best friends. She’s crazy. & I’m crazy. & she’s patient with me. Sometimes we will see signs that say things and read them out loud at the exact same time in the exact same tone of voice. Or we sing the same song at the exact same time in the exact same pitch. Then she always yells at me to get out of her head. Because she loves me.

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OH AND GUESS WHAT ELSE. Sister Francom, my friend from the emptysea is replacing me! Cool, huh? I’m glad to know PVBFL will be in good hands.

So yeah. That’s what’s goin on here in the ol’ fjm. Oh yeah. & I decided that I’m going to start a band named Metal Babies, so make sure you jump on that train before it takes off.

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Baby Bunnies

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Magical backyard

Magical backyard

Singletons. First seafood ever!!

Singletons. First seafood ever!!

Here’s to a new chapter of this crazy mission book

ciaoFace throwing a kiss

New Address:
10275 Old St Augustine Rd #222
Jacksonville, Florida
32257