Monday, July 27, 2015

Crazy Soaking Rainstorms!

Dear family and friends,

I have an experience to share with you this week! This past Wednesday, we were on exchanges, and Sister Belnap and I were out tracting a little ways down the street from our apartment, around 8pm. We were on foot, and didn't have umbrellas, which was against our luck because we could see a storm building up a little ways off. We were talking to this lady and her husband who were doing some yard work outside, just carrying on a conversation. The wind started picking up. We could see a couple flashes of lightning in the distance. We finished talking to them and then started walking home. It would take about 3-4 minutes to walk home. It started sprinkling. Then it started raining harder. All of the sudden it was pouring, and the thunder and lightning seemed to get very close to us! We were in the middle of the storm! Without a second thought, we ran under a tree to keep from getting soaked. We had our Books of Mormon, planners, and other materials in our backpack that we didn't want to get wet! We stood for second, contemplating whether to call a member to come get us, or to just run home. We knew we couldn't stay under that tree, because that wasn't safe in a lightning storm. It was our (very limited) knowledge that if lightning is real bad, you should go lay in a field if you can't get shelter, and to stay away from trees, poles, and bodies of water. So our options were to quickly run home, or to just plop ourselves down on the wet grass. Since our apartment was actually within eye distance a ways off, it was tempting, and we decided to go with that. So I grabbed my backpack and stuffed it into my shirt to try and keep it from getting soaked, and we ran. It was intense to say the least, as the sidewalk we were running down was illuminated only by the frequent flash of lightning, which seemed to be so near to us, accompanied with the wind and loud crashes of thunder! We ran as fast as we could, and I'm proud to say that I did it in heels. As rain hit my face and lightning struck a little ways off to the left of us, I yelled, "Come on Sister! We're almost there!" 

Finally, out of breath and soaked, we made it at least to the apartment office. It was locked, but luckily there was a porch to keep the rain off of us and two rocking chairs in which we slumped down in to catch our breath. I started laughing, partially from the shock of it all, and partially from the absolute ridiculous ordeal we just went through! Poor Sister Belnap had been scared for her life, and was a little shaken up.  Right at that moment, the Wetumpka Elders called us to make sure we were inside for the storm. They were shocked to find that we had gotten caught in it! They told us to stay on the phone with them until we got inside somewhere, and that we could enter a code to get into the apartment gym, but we decided to just run the short distance more to our apartment. We ran, and made it. We were completely soaked, head to toe. Luckily, the contents of my bag were just fine! We were surprised to find our porch door wide open, probably pushed open by the wind, but luckily the floor didnt get wet from the rain. Also few minutes after getting back, our weather radio went off with a warning. Although the worst part of the storm had already passed. We took a couple pictures to keep the memory, changed into some dry clothes, and called it a night. Craziest exchange ever. 

In other news, we've continued doing lots of tracting and I've focused on asking good questions and having quality conversations with people. It's really helped our work and given us more opportunities to teach with the scriptures! I love being directed by the Spirit and pulling out  scriptures that relate to the person we are talking with. The scriptures are such blessing. Read 'em, they'll help you! One thing I love about the scriptures is that you can "read between the lines". You read a verse, but it will speak to you in a different way than what the text actually says. My challenge to y'all is to read a chapter in the Book of Mormon and see how the verse can apply to you personally. I would also suggest reading up on some personal safety tips in a lightning storm.

Sending love from Wetumpka,
Sister Griffith

We've gotten lots of rain lately!

Sister Belnap and I after the storm----soaked!

Passing by Lake Martin

Sister Olsen and I out tracting---so sweaty!

Out tracting by a lake...these people live right on the water,
and it's so beautiful! I would totally buy a lake house! 

A beautiful Wetumpka sunset

Sister Garner, Sister Olsen, and I after church

Lost down a dirt road in 'Bama.....

(from July 20---sorry this was posted a week late!)

Hey everybody! 

Something funny happened last week. We were going to a members home, and we had our GPS guiding us to the right address. Although I guess our GPS took into consideration even dirt roads as possible ways to go, because it led us from a paved road, to a dirt road, and then (what it pictured down below) basically an ATV trail. We decided that we could not take that bumpy, narrow trail in our car! So we turned around, and had to re-route. Eventually we found the member's home! (which happened to be next to a beautiful lake! There's so much water here.)

Lately we've been doing lots of tracting. Sometimes it can be really hard to tract out in the hot, humid heat. We go door to door, and not a lot of people answer. When they do, most don't want to hear what we have to say. A lot of people put walls up and get defensive. Sometimes they seem annoyed at us. I think this partially comes from the crazy rumors about Mormons (and all our "crazy beliefs"). Maybe they think we're going to try and cram our doctrine down their throats! Sometimes we don't even mention our beliefs, or ask if we can teach them, we just ask if they know anyone that could use a prayer or service. And they still have walls up. We all need to realize that we're on the same team! We might have slightly different beliefs, but we're all on the same team, on Christ's team, fighting for good in the world. Help spread it! 

One day while out tracting, we came across a note on someone's door (see below.) They had saw us coming, and we could tell that they had quickly written on this paper and taped it up before we got to their door. I decided that I could do one of two things: 1. Buy them dinner. 2. Leave a note back. I went with the latter. We got out a sticky note and I wrote, "Thank you for your faith! Keep your testimony strong! God is good! :) Love, the Mormon missionaries" Hopefully that left them with a better impression of us than they had before. 

The ward here is great in Wetumpka. We have one family ward and a budding YSA. The members are so willing to feed us and go on team ups! Missionaries truly appreciate that kind of help. As far as the work goes, we have a few new investigators! We'll see what comes of it in the next little while. Something important you have to understand in missionary work is that you can only do so much. Eventually, people have to use their agency to develop their testimony, keep commitments, and progress. 

I love y'all and hope your summer is going well! Stay cool!

Sister Griffith

The road our GPS lead us to...

Someone saw us walking down the road and put this up on
their door before we got to their house :)

There are signs like this all over Alabama

Out biking :)

The classy rides of Alabama

A member took us to get homemade ice-cream from a cute place
that also sells fresh veggies and crafts!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Transferred to Wetumpka!

Hey everyone, 

I've been transferred to Wetumpka, AL! My new companion is Sister Olsen. She's nice and is a great missionary :) We were "white washed", which means that both of us are new to the area. That also means that we have to start from scratch with everything! But it's been great. We've got our bearings of the city and have a good idea of where things are at (although the help of a GPS is nice too.) Wetumpka is pretty small but there's lots of missionary opportunities and I'm sure my time here, for however long, will show some success! 

There is a cute historical downtown here that feels like you're stepping into the past, it's really fun. And there's a big river and a famous bridge that runs through the center of town. It's all beautiful. :) Although AL is known for their spiders, and two nights ago we were walking our bikes across the bridge and it was pretty narrow walkway.. we noticed after shining our bike lights, from one end of the bridge to the other, the railing was lined with thousands of spiderwebs and spiders. You can only imagine how we felt walking the distance of the bridge, crammed in that little walkway next to them. 

I have experienced more tender moments as of late. There's two that really stuck out to me in the past week, and I'll try to keep them short. The first one was while I was in Tuscaloosa. Sister Hall and I were walking around the park, and we noticed a man under a pavilion. We walked over to him and asked how he was doing. He told us he was having a really hard day. We told him that we were the Christian missionaries, and asked if he wanted to say a prayer. He agreed. We talked for a few more minutes though, and came to found out that his name was Alan, and that he has been going through some trials, has been depressed, and had just prayed to God to send some comfort or light in his life. Two minutes later, we showed up. We read a couple scriptures with him and said a prayer. He thanked us, said we didn't know how much we helped him that day, and also said that he thinks we were an answer to his prayer.

The second experience was here in Wetumpka. I was on a blitz, or exchange, with another Sister. We went to Walmart, and of course we prayed before we went into the store. I said the prayer, and I asked God to let us comfort someone who might need a hug. After the prayer, we jumped out of the car, and I didn't think twice about it. Around 15-20 mins after being in the store, we started talking to a lady who was in the candle section, sniffing the different candle scents. Her name was Edna. We asked her if she knew anyone who could use a prayer. She said that we could pray for her, because her son just passed away. We told her that we could pray right then, so we did. We could tell it helped her, because after the prayer she had tears in her eyes. Another shopper also came up to us after the prayer, gave us a hug, and said, "I could just feel the Holy Spirit over here!" and then gave some encouraging words to me and the other Sister. 

I love the South! God is so good! He answers prayers and is very aware of us! I love seeing these small miracles! They aren't coincidences. It's such a blessing to be on a mission and be an instrument in God's hands! 

For pictures this week, I decided to have a theme. "All things Southern"

Hope y'all like it! Have a great week, and take time to ponder the miracles in your own lives.

Love, Sister Griffith

You would not see this type of sign in Utah.

 Beautiful churches on every corner (this is a Presbyterian church in Wetumpka)

 Big, beautiful wreaths 

Giant grasshopper!

Only in the South would you have Christian yoga!

 Downtown Wetumpka

 Pretty flowers on Main Street

Only in the South... 

 Once again, only in the South... :)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Happy Belated July 4th, and transfers this week!

Hey everybody, Happy belated 4th of July! Hope everyone's weekend went well. :) We had a good 4th. During the day, it was a bit of a downer because proselyting is really hard on a holiday when everyone wants to be left alone to their BBQing and family activities, and on top of that it was raining on and off...but the night was really great! We got together with other missionaries, friends, and a few YSA members, and hung out for a bit until the fireworks started. It was really awesome to celebrate Independence day in good ole Alabama. We also got transfer calls that night, and I found out that I'm leaving Tuscaloosa. This Wednesday we'll drive to Birmingham for Transfer Meeting, and I'll find out my new area and companion. It's so weird to think about being in a new area, but I'm ready.

We had a tender experience the other day. We were making the 45 minute (on foot) journey from a park back to our apartment, and on the way back we decided to stop at little family-owned "Bama" store, that sells UA stuff and other clothing/jewelry. We were just looking around, and Sister Hall decided to buy a watch. The lady at the counter saw that we were missionaries and she told Sister hall that her watch was free, and then told me that I could pick something out too. I picked out a cute bracelet with a cross. Then we asked them if they knew anyone that could use a prayer. One of the workers, who was an older lady, told us that she could use a prayer and to pray for her health and her son. So we prayed with her. After the prayer, the workers in the store seemed to get teary-eyed and told us to keep up the good work, and thanked us for what we are doing as missionaries. Even a customer who was shopping there thanked us. We left feeling blessed at such a sweet moment, being edified by each other, understanding that even though we were of different faiths that we're all on the same team.

A similar thing happened a few days earlier: while out tracting we met this awesome Catholic lady who was not interested in having us teach her, but gave us an abundance of fresh veggies hand-picked from her beautiful garden. Blessed!

I thought I'd mention a little bit about our experience with prayer, and how the Southerners do it. For us as missionaries, it's perfectly normal to meet someone on the side of the street, at the park, or in the frozen aisle in Walmart and say a prayer with them. It might be awkward, but you just have to push past those limits of what's socially acceptable. :) Usually it will come about by us asking someone if they know anyone that could use a prayer, or maybe if we're talking about something Gospel-related. It's really awesome to be able to come together with strangers and pray. I can't count how many 1-2 minute prayers I've had with complete strangers that I may or may not ever see again. Southerners have a very interesting way of praying (not that it's bad, it's just different from what I've known!) Some pray holding hands with each other in a circle. They are also very vocal during prayer. While one person is saying the prayer, others will quietly whisper, "Yes", "Thank you Jesus", etc. At first it was really distracting for me to say a prayer and have people do that, but I've gotten used to it. I like the fact that I know they're listening to what I'm saying, by their agreement of or comment on the content.

Well, next time I talk to y'all I'll be in a new city! Hope everyone's week goes well :)
Talk to you soon,
Sister Griffith

The veggies that a nice lady gave us!

I calcluated the distance from here to home on my GPS!

The lighting was really bad, but here's Sister Hall and I being festive!

Sister Hall impersonating the Statue of Liberty!

Me, Vanessa, and Sister Hall waiting for the fireworks to start!