Monday, April 27, 2015

U of A Stadium Tour and other awesome stuff!

Hey ya'll! Monday is here again. :)
A few days ago, we had our weather radio rip me from my sleep as it started blaring around 12:30am. A weather report starting going off, saying that there was a tornado watch. It wasn't a tornado warning, but a watch indicating that the current weather conditions could initiate a tornado. It was raining, and thundering very loudly (which kept waking me up throughout the night!), but nothing worse than that happened! The next day there were warnings of hail, but nothing happened with that either.
A couple days ago we went to visit a sweet older lady in our ward. She hasn't been able to get to church very often because of health issues, but her faith is so strong!  She doesn't let her health issues get  the way. She took comfort in God, and trusted Him. Sometimes God will heal us, but sometimes he lets us go through hard things. That's how we grow, that's how we come to appreciate the good in life. This lady also makes jewelry as a hobby, and she let us pick out a few pieces to take home.
Something funny happened the other night. We went to a park near our home, and we noticed a party going on under a pavilion. They had loud music (a DJ), balloons, and streamers. Sister Bailey looked at me and asked if we should go say hi to them. We thought, "Why not?" So we walked up to this party with a bunch of people, and they just welcomed us right in. A lady offered for us to get some food, and we went around and talked with almost everyone. While we were talking to one guy, his alcoholic drink slipped from his hand and splashed on our shoes. Others were smoking as we talked with them about coming to church. Another woman told me that the DJ was actually a preacher. People are so fun!!:) We got a few numbers from it, and were even invited to the next party.
Things are going well with our investigators. We usually meet with each of them once a week. We missionaries have a series of lessons that we teach, but we also answer questions and follow the Spirit during our appointments. In one of the last meetings we had with our investigator, we talked about marriage. In the Bible it talks about marriage not lasting through the Resurrection, and that we'll all be "angels of God". Thanks to latter day revelation, we can more fully understand marriage. We know that marriage is ordained of God, and can last forever! A sealed, or eternal, marriage is possible because of it being done under the right authority, or priesthood. And what I've come to know is that in those verses in the Bible (Matt 22:30, I believe) Jesus was referring to temporal marriage. You also have to look at it in the right context...Jesus was talking to the Sadducees, who didn't even believe in Resurrection.
This morning we went on another stadium tour. We went again because we wanted to join our district. After the tour we went to lunch with a member and a few non-members. One was Buddhist and one was Presbyterian. It was good :)
Love you all!
Sister Griffith

My district had a tour of the University of Alabama Stadium this morning!

Sisters being silly!

Me, Sister Bailey, Sister Moore, & Sister Maxwell

Mormon jokes.  :)
Tough stuff.

How we react when someone rejects us!  (this was taken in the UA locker room!)

Alabama:  Flat and green!

Trying on hats at JC Penney!  True Southern Belles?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Just tracting in the ghetto......and 'hood talk!

This past week has been a good one. :) I've had some really awesome conversations with people. Some of the best conversations happen in the hood! Last week we were tracting in the ghetto. As we were walking down the street, three guys saw us. We started walking towards them to talk with them, and I could tell that they were excited that some girls were coming up to talk with them (it happens quite often;) We started casually talking with them, but of course as a missionary your conversations turn spiritual. We taught a few Gospel topics to them, including the Word of Wisdom (as they were sitting there smoking and drinking:). They started talking about weed, and tried to justify it. They said that, after all, it comes from the ground, and that it helps you to be happy and clear your mind. They told us that we should try it, because it could help us in our efforts as missionaries (LOL).  What's funny is that one of those guys told us that he got kicked off the UA football team for it, and was having trouble with work for it, and yet still defended it (we told him thanks for proving our point). In talking about the Word of Wisdom, I told them that something I've come to know is that it's not so much a health code. It's a spiritual code. It is testing our obedience to God. There's examples throughout the Bible were people commit to God by abstaining from things like "strong drink." In Numbers it talks about people "setting themselves apart", and that is exactly what we're doing today. Anyway, these guys thought it was interesting, and they told us that they haven't met anyone happier than us, and that we seemed different but in a good way. Of course, we then went on to tell them about the Holy Ghost.
A similar thing happened yesterday, when we were walking through the hood. We went up to a few guys who were hangin' outside on their porch (and it's real fun because they have dreads, and tattoos, and were smoking and drinking.) We initially went up to them like we always do to introduce ourselves, but it turned into a good hour or so of conversation. They asked us lots of questions, and they were shocked that we had so many answers. We went over quite a few different topics. And it was so funny, because one guy didn't realize that we were LDS, and he was like, "What! You're Mormon?!!" Then a few minutes later he asked for a pamphlet, and said he's coming to church this Sunday and bringing his friends! It was interesting as well, because he also said that in comparison to other women he knows, we seemed so different, so down to earth, etc. We told him it's God.

An exciting thing is that this past Saturday was my 2 month mark! We didn't have any appointments that day, so we spent most of our time on our bikes, tracting and finding. We met a really sweet lady while tracting who's Baptist. We spent a good hour or so with her, talking in her living room. She told us all about her family and her grand kids, and how she's battling breast cancer. We talked a little bit about scriptures, and she was so shocked to learn that we don't just believe in our "Mormon Bible." We explained to her that yes, we have the Book of Mormon. But that we also read the King James Bible. That surprised her! After that, Sister Bailey and myself treated ourselves to Iguana Grill, a fun Mexican restaurant.

I had a thought the other day about agency. God honors our agency, and we can see that because even before our time on Earth he was allowing agency. In the Pre-mortal world, there was a Council in Heaven. We were allowed to decide for ourselves what plan we wanted to follow. Then there's Adam and Eve, who were presented with two choices in which allowed them to use their agency. Today, everyday, we exercise our agency. It is a gift from God. In the context of relationships, or a marriage, we can see how highly we should honor others agency. And in the case of an abusive or controlling relationship, we can see how much we are dishonoring something that God has put in place. Just a thought.
Today we had interviews with our mission president (interviews happen every three months.) He checks in with us, answers any questions we have, and makes sure everything is going okay. My mission president and his wife (President and Sister Hanks) are great. Sister Hanks is so nice! And things are going good.

I hope that everything is going good. I love ya'll!

Sister Griffith

P.S. Hood talk (examples how of some people say things)
Street: Screet
Straight: Scraight
God: Gaw
Five: Figh
Ask: Acts

 What a tornado causes!

 Sister Bailey and I at the Iguana Grill.  YUM!

 Biking at night!

 Night biking adventures with Sister Bailey!

 Classic missionary pic----desperate for mail!  (hint hint!)

Proof for Mom that I am indeed cooking while on my mission!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Six Weeks In 'Bama, One Baptism!

This past week has been an interesting one. I've had pretty bad allergies lately, which I've been trying to combat with oils (thank goodness for oils.) For some reason one ghetto that we go into makes me sneeze almost immediately! So you can imagine how I must look while trying to teach a lesson there on someone's porch, while sneezing and holding a tissue in hand because my nose is running.

We have a couple incredible, ELECT, investigators. It's been amazing to teach them and see that their past beliefs align with our religions beliefs. They were amazed to know that a church that exceeds millions of people believe those same things, because people they know have thought they were weird for those beliefs. Specifically, when we taught them about the Plan of Salvation, and went over questions like, "Where were we before Earth?", "What is my purpose here?", "Where am I going after I die?" What a blessing it is to have answers for those questions.

Our investigator Rachel got baptized this past Saturday! We were so excited. We invited people from our Tuscaloosa ward, and the YSA ward. So many people showed up, and we had to set up more chairs! Both Sister Bailey and I spoke, and she was baptized by Elder Mayer. We had treats afterwards, and all around it went really well. It was my first baptism on my mission! Although, technically number-wise it didn't count as ours, since Rachel got baptized into the YSA ward. But we totally give ourselves the credit!;) Rachel got confirmed the next day, and her blessing was beautiful. She had a Mormon glow, and we are so excited to see what her future has in store.

We got Transfer calls on Saturday. Transfers are every 6 weeks, and you might be transferred to a different area, and get a new companion. Sister Bailey was nervous about it (just because it's exciting to move), but I didn't know what to expect since it was my first time. We suspected that we wouldn't be moved, and our theory was correct. We are both staying here for at least another 6 weeks! Which is such a good thing, because I love the ward here. The people are so great!

Last night we were out trying to contact people. We met one guy who had been baptized into a few different churches! He told us that he was Pentecostal, and he had on a Baptist church shirt, and a necklace with a Christian cross and Free Mason symbols. How that works out, I have no idea. Anyway, we continued up the street (this is just up from our apartments) to a little ghetto. People were outside sitting on their porches, so it's easy to meet people. We were pleasantly surprised to meet one lady who walked up to us and said, "Hi Sisters!" She is a member of two years, (although I don't know how active she is, so we invited her to come to our ward) and we'll definitely go to see her again. Then we talked with a older guy in a wheelchair who was drunk, and that was interesting. Then we met this cute 11 year old girl named Ariana. She was so adorable, and asking us a bunch of questions. We were talking with her, and all of the sudden this guy started walking towards us and he seemed mad and drunk. It made me really nervous at first, but we stood our ground. He had been fighting with some woman (and using some very choice words) and apparently he wanted us to come talk to this woman, I assume to share some Jesus. We didn't talk to the woman though, because from the house she yelled, "No!" And so we continued on our way.  Oh the adventures!

That's what been going on in my past week. I love you all, and I hope things are going well. My challenge for everyone this week is to have meaningful prayer. Address Heavenly Father, share your thoughts, questions, and things your grateful for. Close in the name of Jesus Christ. But make it meaningful by your demeanor. Kneel. Prayer should be reverent, sincere, and not repetitious. You will feel closer to God in this way!
Love you all,
Sister Griffith

 Waiting for the train to pass


 Rachel's baptism!

 We went on a UA Stadium tour today!

 On A [missionary] Roll

 Standing by the field (football is a religion here, by the way)

Sister Bailey and I lookin' cool;)

Monday, April 6, 2015

"Praise Jesus! Come on in!"

Happy Belated Easter and Conference weekend:)

I hope ya'll had the chance to watch or listen to conference, it was really good! I could barely keep up in taking notes, good thing they'll post the conference talks for us all to read or listen to again. I specifically loved the talks by L. Tom Perry, D. Todd Christofferson, Wilford W. Anderson, and (of course) Holland! There's so much to read, learn, and digest. Not only with conference, but within the scriptures. I'm glad that we have two hours every morning to study.

Last week we were tracting in a ghetto near our apartments. We knocked on a door, and this older lady answered and exclaimed, "Praise Jesus! Come on in!" And she immediately invited us in and hugged us and told us to take a seat, which is so very different than the typical response we get at someone's front door! We spent just a few minutes in this woman's home, but we learned that she's a minister, and that she loves everyone no matter who they are. We learned that she was an alcoholic in the past, and that she didn't have the best life, but that she found Jesus and it has changed her life. She told us how she's been talking with a few prostitutes, and that she is helping them become "saved" and change their lives for the better. You can tell that Christ is in her life. You don't have to be a certain denomination to have Christ in your life! Anyway, we talked about Easter with her, wished her a good day, and went to go knock on more doors. 

Another interesting experience we had last week was with a couple in our ward. We were having dinner with them, and they told us about how they were here during the very bad tornado in 2011. The tornado was a mile wide. It went right through their neighborhood, and demolished their home. This Sister was at home taking care of her 1 year old baby granddaughter when the tornado came, and all she could do was get into a closet and try to keep her granddaughter safe. When the tornado passed, she looked up to the ceiling and found the roof had been taken off, and when she opened the door of the closet you can only imagine what she saw. She then emerged from her home and began trying to help her neighbor who had been badly injured. This Sister is such a cute lady, and upon first meeting her, you'd never expect her to have gone through such an ordeal. You can never judge a book by it's cover. This Sister also has such strong faith in God. You can see Christ working through her as she tried to keep her granddaughter safe, and that she went to help her neighbor. This couple also notes that although storms like that are devastatingly hard, they help people come together no matter what age or race they are.

Talking about storms, we've had a few thunderstorms recently, and there's been a couple times when the District leaders told us to stay inside (luckily, it's been at night when we would have been home anyway.) Hopefully we won't have to deal with any truly bad weather!

Easter was good yesterday. :) Sister Bailey and I just get spoiled. The Sister's that we live with set up a little Easter egg hunt for us, and got us a cute gift, and made pancakes for all of us!! And then a family in our ward invited us over for Easter dinner, and we had a great dinner and they gave us little gifts and candy! Isn't that so sweet?! I'm so grateful for everyone's kindness. And talking about kindness, thank you to Rena Redmon and April Larsen for sending me cards! I really appreciate it:)

Hope ya'll had a good Easter!
Sister Griffith

 A gorgeous Tuscaloosa sunset!

 The Target here carries kombucha!  Who knew?

 My district!

Happy Easter from Sister Bailey and Sister Griffith!