Monday, December 28, 2015

A Missionary Christmas and What I've Learned.....

Merry Christmas everyone and Happy upcoming New Year :)

This Christmas was one of the most interesting Christmases I've had! The weather has contributed to a lot of it. Two days before Christmas we had tornado warnings and bad thunder storms. Christmas Eve was completely blue skies and it was in the 70's. Christmas day we were woken up at 5:30am by thunder and we had rain the entire day, which brought on flooding. It's been crazy!! But our Christmas was good. :) We had breakfast at a member's home, went to Skype our families (YAY!), took a nap, had dinner at a member's home, then went to another member's home. We were really grateful for everyone who took care of us and made sure we had places to eat!

Every once in a while, I reflect on all the things I've learned from my mission. I'm so grateful! I don't know what I'd do without it! Here's a list of some of my blessings:

1. A much wider knowledge of the Restored Gospel.
2. An understanding of how the Church runs and how Church leadership operates.
3. An appreciation for my faith
4. A better understanding of other religions
5. An increased love and respect for those who differ in beliefs.
6. A better perspective on life.
7. A bigger desire to serve.
8. A love for the scriptures
9. Experience out in the "real world"
10. Knowing I can do hard things

I will forever be grateful for my time spent here serving the Lord,
Sister Griffith

Went out to eat Chinese food! It brought me back to my China days.

On an exchange!

Walking in Capshaw.

Our little Christmas tree, and presents ready to be unwrapped. :)

We set our cameras on our mailbox and took selfies. This was Christmas Eve!
My favorite Christmas lights I saw this season.

We had a rainy, rainy Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2015

'Twas the Week Before Christmas.....

Hey family and friends!

Last Monday we had the sisters Christmas activity/surprise birthday party for Sister C! It went really good. :) We played games, sung happy birthday, had snacks & cupcakes, and took silly pictures! Our P day then ended by playing gator ball with other missionaries! We love gator ball. It's a missionary favorite (mostly because it aids in ridding ourselves of the dreaded "Southern Squish") and it's a combination of soccer, football, and tag. We'll be playing gator ball later today!

Tuesday we did lots of finding and had multiple lessons. It was a good day.

Wednesday would have been transfers for us, except Sister Castagno and I got our transfer news last Saturday and found that we'll be staying here at least until February. So Wednesday was just a normal day for us and we did our usual work! We went tracting, had lunch at a Relief Society luncheon, attended a District meeting, and then later in the day went on a team up with a Russian member here and had great success!

Thursday we had a lengthy session of Weekly Planning, then for the rest of the day we focused on in-active and less-active members. It's always interesting to learn that usually people end up going in-active or less-active because they slowly stop doing the little things and their resolve to stay consistent in acting on their faith decreases. Another reason is someone getting offended by someone else at church, and then they stop coming. My mission president has talked about this quite a lot. Imagine you are that person and you're on your death bed and think, "Oh yeah...I sure showed them...I went inactive for 26 years!" What good does it do?   There are of course many other reasons why people go inactive, and it's really sad to see. The Gospel offers so much if you have sincerity and motivation to act on your faith.

Friday was our 10 month mark! We were super excited about celebrating that mark, but it was a little bit of a discouraging day because all of our plans (except for one) fell through, including our dinner appointment! But the one appointment that did go through went really good, and we now can officially say that we have survived 10 months on a mission!

Saturday we had our ward Christmas activity! We had a few less actives and some non members come, and it was really good!

Yesterday was the BEST Sunday I've ever had on my mission thus far! We had three investigators come to church, and one of them brought four of her kids!! Another one set a baptismal date with us; another one we'll be seeing tonight. Everything went really well and we hope they will continue to progress!!

Well, that's our week in report! I wish everyone a joyous season, a Merry Christmas, and may we always give praise to our Heavenly Father for the best gift we've been given---our Savior, Jesus Christ. I love these testimonies from the New Testament Apostles:

(2 Peter 1:16-18)

16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

(1 John 1:1-4)

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

Merry Christmas,
Sister Griffith

So close, Alabama. So close.

Sister Castagno and I the day we spent the whole day visiting less-actives!

Thanks mom!

Despite looking adequately large, the road was not wide enough for us to park on. So this is what Sis Castagno restored to. Luckily the less-active we were going to see wasn't home, so it wasn't parked that way for a long amount of time. ;)

I get comedic relief from Alabama's street signs.

I didn't find any ward buildings on this street...

Driving down Memorial Parkway!

On the road

Sister missionary "Ugly Christmas Sweater" party!  Merry Christmas everyone!  :)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Festivities, A Baptism & My Companion's Birthday!

Hey y'all,

This past week we had a fun time at our mission Christmas party! It first started with a devotional given by President & Sister Hanks, which was super inspiring and spiritual. :) Then we had a big lunch with lots of yummy food!! Following that we had a talent show that was full of beautiful songs and funny acts. It was great! You always need a good laugh now and then!! After that we all watched "Big Hero 6". I had seen it previously before my mission but it was fun to watch again, and yet super strange to be watching a movie other than the Restoration or The Testaments. ;)

This week we also had the opportunity to volunteer at/enjoy the Huntsville Christmas Festival that the Church puts on. They've been doing it for the past 11 years and it is amazing! They set up a live, walk-through nativity, the whole cultural hall is decked out with Christmas trees, quilts, and hundreds of nativities, and they have choir/orchestra performances---which blew me away! They were just regular members of the church, yet they sounded like a mini Mormon Tabernacle choir! I guess they had been practicing for months, and it definitely paid off because the 30 minute concert they did was a-m-a-z-i-n-g! 

Saturday morning was a good day for us, because one of our investigators was baptized! Her name is Daphne and she is 8 yrs old! Most of her other family has been baptized in the last year or two, and it was a sweet day for all of us to see her baptism. It was really fun to teach her because we often tried to incorporate games into the lessons! She was baptized by President Nolan, who is a counselor in our mission presidency, a member of our ward, and a neighbor to Daphne (the Nolan's originally introduced Daphne's grandma to the Church, and look what that sparked! Member-missionary work actually works!)

Today is Sister Castagno's 20th birthday and I've had a few surprises up my sleeve. Last night she went to bed a little early and I told her I was going to stay up to read for a bit...little did she know that I was actually hanging up streamers and decorating our apartment! We also had "birthday pancakes" for breakfast this morning. :) Later today we have a sisters Christmas activity, and there will be a few surprises then as well!! I know that it's nice to feel special and appreciated on your birthday, especially while on mission when you're away from home, so I'm making my best effort! Hopefully everything turns out well!

Something funny that happened a couple days ago was that I was quoting something from someone back home and instead of saying "you" I said "y'all" (which of course that person didn't say being from out West). I realized then that the South has officially ingrained itself in me.

Well, I love Y'ALL, and wish you a great day!!
Sister Griffith

We met this guy who was out walking his dog the other day while we were out tracting. He is agnostic and from Scotland, and was an absolute pleasure to meet. He knew a lot about our religion from his own studies. It was refreshing how he showed us that you should respect others and have a genuine conversation, despite differences of belief---and that chivalry is still alive! It was also fun to meet him because he is Scottish and President Hanks went on his mission to Scotland, so we had some connections there!

The sisters in our zone at the mission Christmas party!

Daphne, President Nolan, and us! 

Setting up for the talent show

Some cute sisters in our zone!

Sister Castagno, our friend Vanitey, and I at the Christmas Festival!

The amazing Huntsville choir at the Christmas Festival!

Us today!  Happy Birthday, Sister Castagno!
Some of the surprise decorations for Sister Castagno's birthday!

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Missionary Christmas Month!

Hey y'all, Happy December!

This past week Sister Castagno and I have been busy doing exchanges with the sisters in our zone, lots of finding, and helping to coordinate upcoming Christmas activities. We also were able to go to the Birmingham temple on Thursday, which we of course loved!! I love the spirit in the temple. It's unlike any other place. And it's amazing the different ways Heavenly Father teaches us, and how the more we progress spiritually the better we recognize and understand it.

We had lots of different experiences this week, some good, some bad. Through it all, I have gained a deeper, true testimony of who the Savior is to me personally and how His example and His Atonement very realistically has a role in my life if I so choose.

We've  been thinking a lot about Jesus's birth, life, and mission since it's the season where we take extra time to remember Him. Lately while tracting or contacting, we've been sharing the new video on Christmas. It's been fun to share with everyone :) Last night we were also able to watch the Christmas Devotional and I especially enjoyed Elder Bednar's address! He talked about how Christ is the Light of the world.

It's my challenge to remember the reason for the season! And do things that will invite Christ into your life.

Sending prayers your way,
Sister Griffith

Sister Castagno and I emailing today!

Our dear President & Sister Hanks and I :)

Finding our inner spiritual gangster.

Sis C and I at the temple!

Us and the Huntsville Elders!      

Bonus pics from our Sunday evening with Brother and Sister Nelson!  We had dinner, dessert and also watched the LDS Christmas Devotional!