Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Staying In Tuscaloosa Six More Weeks!

Hey everyone, transfer update! My companion Sister Bailey is being transferred to a different area (and becoming a Sister Training Leader!) which means that I'll be in T-town for another 6 weeks at least and getting a new companion! We're guessing that Sister Bailey will be going to Mississippi, but no one will know anything for sure until tomorrow, at transfer meeting in Birmingham. We find out our new area or companion at transfer meeting, and until that meeting everyone is kept in suspense. It will be sad to see Sister Bailey go, but thus is the life of a missionary!

Today we have some fun things planned! We are emailing for a couple hours at the Gorgus library on the UA campus, then we are going to lunch and bowling with our district! That will be really fun, and it's definitely needed, because one person from every companionship in our district is being transferred! One sister, Sister Moore (who is from St. George!), has completed her mission and will be going home. It's been a privilege to serve around her, she is absolutely amazing! After bowling, we have a lesson with our investigator Vanessa, then dinner with a family in the ward. The couple actually served in the same mission together (in Germany) then later got married. How sweet is that! And they have an adorable baby boy.

This past Sunday I was asked to give a talk in Sacrament. (By the way, the concept of people from the congregation speaking is very foreign here...they only have pastors or preachers! I've really come to appreciate the community-effort in our church, and the opportunity it allows for people to learn, share, and grow) I was asked to speak on Patriarchal Blessings. It went pretty good. :) I love my patriarchal blessing because it gives me comfort and direction. Here's the challenge for this week.....if you have a patriarchal blessing, read it! If you don't, you should work on getting one!

Happy Memorial Day yesterday, everyone! We were blessed to be able to go have dinner with a family in the ward, and they are so great. For dinner we had hamburgers and homemade blueberry pie, and both were absolutely delicious! It was awesome because after a long day of smelling other people's BBQs, we were be able to enjoy some of our own. We of course shared a spiritual message with them, and we talked about living the law of the land. It's important to respect your leaders and the laws of your country. But we've also been given spiritual laws, and it is vital for us to follow and give our utmost attention to them, since they are decreed by God and for our personal happiness. If we do follow them, everything else will fall into place.

I learned something funny yesterday. Someone called a wallet that folds a "bill fold." Am I just out of the loop, or is that a Southern thing? Sister Bailey hadn't heard that term either.
I hope y'all are doing well! I love ya!

Sister Griffith

Kayla, Bailey, Rachel, me, & Taylor after contacting at a park

Trying to jump :)

Who would name a Lane after a nut?

A picture taken on self-timer....our district at Whitney's home for a little party :)

My friend Kayla & I

Monday, May 18, 2015

Three Months Down, "Only" 15 to Go!

Hey y'all! Another week has come and gone in good ole Bama country.

This past Wednesday we had Zone conference in Bessemer (which is about an hour away from Tuscaloosa.) Everyone from our Zone plus the mission president and his wife were there. It was really good! My district did a special musical number (originally Sister Bailey and I were asked to do it, but if we're going down so is everyone else, thus we pulled in the entire district:) a acapello version of "Come Thou Fount." It turned out pretty well :)

On Saturday we had the best opportunity ever to go to the Birmingham AL temple with Rachel, to be there for her first proxy baptisms. :) She was excited about going in although nervous at the same time, but she afterwards said that she wants to go again soon. Rachel was surprised that the baptismal font was above twelve oxen, and we talked a little bit about symbolism, and also that Solomon's temple (in the Old Testament) had the same thing! Really neat. The temple is super symbolic.

There was also a really sweet thing we witnessed in the temple. Rachel was waiting for her turn to do baptisms, and Sister Bailey & I were sitting on a bench in front of the font, and a cute oriental woman (probably in her late 40's or early 50's) stepped down into the font. We found out from a person sitting next to us that this lady was baptized only 3 months ago herself, and that it was her first time to do proxy baptisms. As she got in the water, the man started the baptisms, and this lady started crying. She seemed really emotional for the first two baptisms she did. Come to find out it was her mother and sister she was got baptized for. She did confirmations right after for them as well, and started quietly crying during those too. Sister Bailey and I couldn't contain ourselves, and some of the temple workers couldn't either.

The same day, there was a baptism going on for Whitney, one of the YSA Sister's investigators. Sister Bailey and I were the ones to first meet her, and we taught her a few times the past couple months, so it was really great. She is super awesome and fits right in. :)

A storm came through town the other day, right as we were leaving Walmart. The clouds were headed the same way we were driving home, as it if were a race, but totally outran us. The clouds were super dark and it started getting windy. But it surprisingly rained pretty hard for 30 minutes or so, and then cleared up. Just a nice summer storm!

There is a family in our ward, the Miller's, and their son (Taylor) and daughter (Kayla) get along with us really well and like coming out with us to do missionary work. Rachel is also friends with them, and comes with us too. Yesterday we went on splits and did contacting at the river walk. Afterwards I gathered everyone for a couple of pictures. I love these people :)

I don't have much more to write, except for the fact that being here has made me realize how absolutely blessed I am to have the home and family that I have. I always knew that I had a good family, but being in Alabama (and specifically talking to people and coming to know what kind of home life/family they have) has made me truly appreciate the type of home life I had. Our family isn't perfect, but high five to you, Mom & Dad! And for others who are reading this, remember to appreciate the blessings in your life, and the family that you have. There's always something positive you can appreciate. Even if you haven't had a good home life, you can focus on the way that your future family is raised and ensure a good environment for your kids.

I love y'all! Count your blessings.

Sister Griffith
The mission has been stressful and given me a few grays...also gave me a beard!

Us at the temple with Rachel (her first time doing proxy baptisms!)
Bailey and I just so happened to be looking at another camera,
and I think it's a cute with Rachel looking at mine.
No, Bailey and Rach did not mean to match.

At Whitney's baptism!

A storm moving in.

I couldn't believe the contrast between the gray and blue!

Pretty Alabama flowers! (your photography inspired me, Bh;)

This part was added by me, Maegan's mom, who is maintaining her blog each week.  One of the church members there in Alabama sent me this hilarious video on Sunday night of Sister Griffith and Sister Bailey reciting Doctrine and Covenants Section 4, in a very thick Southern twang!  Such funny and amazing missionaries they are! No wonder people there love them both!  :)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Southern Food, Spiders and More!

Happy Mother's Day, y'all. :)

I was so incredibly privileged to talk with my family last night for a couple of hours. It's crazy how a simple phone or Facetime call can have so much meaning, especially in this world full of modern technologies and conveniences. As missionaries, it's like Christmas morning! We only get to call or video chat with our families twice a year, Mother's Day and Christmas (of course, we do get to communicate through email on a weekly basis.) I've found that you really prize something when it isn't overused.

There's this really awesome member here, Brother Foote. He is the most humble, kind man I've ever met. He treats us missionaries so well, and loves to take us out to eat, and tries to convert his employees. :) Anyway, this past week he took us, his family, and the YSA Sister's to Cypress Inn, which is a beautiful restaurant on the river here. Their menu had a wide range of food, but I decided that I was going to go as Southern as I possibly could (I haven't had a good ole Southern meal yet)...so I ordered catfish, grits, and hush-puppies. Yum! A bunch of fried deliciousness! After our meal, we headed down a path which lead us to a deck that goes across the water. We visited there for a bit, and the more time we spent there, the more spiders we noticed. There were spiders everyone! Sister Bailey is deathly afraid of spiders, and I'm surprised she made it out of there without having a panic attack. The webs were some of the biggest webs I've seen, and I thought they were intricately beautiful.

You meet all kinds of people here in Tuscaloosa (it's a big melting pot because of UA). Anyway, we were out tracting the other day and we knocked on a door. A woman in a long dress answered, with adorable children at her side. Immediately she invited us in, without hesitation, and lead us to her living room where three other women were sitting. They were all Muslim, and dressed in their traditional dresses and head scarves. I was so intrigued talking with them. They were from Yemen and Saudi Arabia. I told them that we were missionaries, out here to bring peace to people's lives. They were very nice to us, and they asked us if we have read the Quran (Koran). They showed us a video of a Muslim service. One woman was born in the US and lived here until she was five, then her family went back to the Middle East. The other women had been here for six years. They had three children, all with big beautiful eyes. We didn't have much time to visit with them because we had a dinner appointment, but I really enjoyed talking with them. Culture is amazing. Just because someone doesn't share my same beliefs it doesn't mean I can't respect and visit with them.

Two days ago we were talking with four guys, and one of them said he believed "in Islam." He asked what my opinion was on learning about other religions, and I told him that learning is good, that you should study and come to know things for yourself. Personally, I find sanctuary and peace in this Gospel. We also talked about being judgmental. I told him that if someone considered themselves a Christian and was judgmental or disrespectful because of difference of beliefs or religion, they aren't true Christians. Respect, love, and forgiveness are Christlike attributes. Let him without sin cast the first stone.

Last week I met these people: Wonda, Denise, and Jon. They were at the park near our house. We started talking with them, and Denise and Jon talked a lot about their faith, and trials, and religion. We were so shocked to hear that Denise's nephew joined our Church a few years ago, went on a mission, and now is working in Utah and "very successful". She told us how much of a better person her nephew is, how much the Gospel has helped him, and testified to Jon about how much this Gospel could help him! We didn't even have to speak a word! Denise isn't a member, but she looks up  to our church very highly. We got Jon's number, and he actually texted us yesterday and wanted to meet up with us. He hadn't had the best day, and so we were just listening to him, and reaffirming to him that God is there for us. He told us that he wants better friends, and that he wants a happier life. We gave him a Book of Mormon, and invited him to YSA Frisbee on Thursday.

It's amazing how many different kinds of people we meet every day. I've decided that I'd like to get pictures with people to put on my blog, so I can remember who I met and so y'all can get a glimpse of who I talk to. :)

I love y'all!! Have a great week!!
Sister Griffith

Add The river at Cypress Inn. We cross this river every Sunday
to get to church in Northport. 

Creepy crawly's on the deck!

The YSA Sister's and us

Wonda, Denise, & Jon

Sister Bailey and I

Monday, May 4, 2015

"God is so good, and awesome!"

Member team-ups are so great! This past week we had a lot of member participation. Members come to lessons with us, and it's a win win situation. We are blessed to have such a great ward! Last night we went to a member's home for dinner, and then we went to visit some less-active members. All of these members live in the countryside, and it was absolutely beautiful driving through! There are green fields and countless tall green trees. One couple that we went to visit lives in a cabin that the husband built himself, and it was the epitome of "country-living." They were just the cutest couple, and it was fun visiting them. :)

Church yesterday went really well. It was testimony meeting and I bore my testimony. I talked about how I know God lives. I know God lives because of the beautiful and majestic Earth we live on. I know that He lives because of the family that we are blessed with, and the people that come into our lives. I know that God lives because He gave us Jesus Christ, and through Him we have the Gospel and are able to have peace in our lives. God is so good! A lot of people here in the South have a deep testimony of God and faith in Jesus Christ. They always exclaim "God is so good" and "God is awesome." A lot of people aren't afraid to talk with us about their belief in God. Maybe it's because we are missionaries, or maybe it's because they are so passionate about their faith. Either way, it's great to talk with them. In the April issue of the Ensign, it talks about courage. Have courage to live your faith!

On Saturday we helped a lady in our ward move. We loaded boxes and furniture into a U-haul and moved it to storage. She is a sweet lady. And she got us pizza for dinner!

The work is moving on over here. I am blessed with an energetic companion who is able to keep going strong when I don't have as much enthusiasm. Sister Bailey is a ball of energy and a light.

My challenge for everyone this week is to be courageous in your faith, and to look for an opportunity to serve someone around you. Also remember that attitude is everything, and that when you reach out to God your life will be happier and more satisfying.

I love y'all!! 

Sister Griffith

What I found to eat at the gas station......

The streets of Alabama....

I love ya'll!  :)