Sunday, September 17, 2017

This email was sent by Sister Welker on September 11th.  We received it on September 10th.

Week 57: Putty in God's Hands, Miracle Weekend, and Vegemite

What a week!!! So much has happened in the last 7 days.

I got to spend the first half of the week with Sister Jabeque and Sister Mavea in a trio and then Thursday, I got my new companion!!

Her name is Sister Bashaw! :D She's 19 years old and has three other sibilings that are all older than her and married.  She spent this last year at BYU Provo and wants to study chemical engineering.  She's been born and raised in the gospel and is focused and ready to do the work!!! She's has a funny/sarcastic humor and is quick to love people.  She has an awesome laugh and is totally inspired.

When I asked my companion what you want to be by the end of your mission, she responded with "I want to be putty in God's hands."  I thought it was absolutely funny, and then I took time to think about it and thought it was such a cool answer.  To desire to have God be able to shape you however he likes, is evidence of complete trust and love for the Lord.  I hope one day I can be putty in God's hands too. :D

Day one together was rough.  No one was home or willing to let us in.  We both got kinda down thinking that it would be a long transfer, but then the next two days had miles of miracles!!

My favorite miracle had to be when we visited Asia and Miley.  We found Asia (name changed) a funny, happy, 70 year-old sister when knocking doors.  It had been a pretty sad day and we had little to no faith left.  As we knocked on her screen door, she jumped and said "You gave me a fright."  We apologized and for the next 30 minutes, we were laughing and talking as if we had known each other for years.  Her neighbor, Miley, then came over and talked with us as well.  Before we left, we sang "Battle Hymn of the Republic," and were given soup and some cookies to take home.  We've seen her two or three times since, and we never leave empty handed!  

When we were invited to come over yesterday, she had two other visitors at her place.  They were a cute senior couple from Hamilton, and are members of the Salvation Army faith.  We were able to casually talk.  One of the visitors continued to ask questions of what we do as missionaries.  We were allowed to share a spiritual thought.  We opened to Luke 22:43, which describes when Christ was suffering, and how God sent and angel down to comfort Christ.  We explained how we were all watching Christ when he was suffering in the garden--that we all must have been there watching.  And while it only makes reference to one angel, who knows if you were the angel to comfort Christ.

As we walked to the car, I explained what a miracle that was to my companion.  I told her how the chances of that senior couple letting missionaries into their home if they knocked on their door would have been slim.  But because of this unique opportunity, this cute senior couple was able to both meet and talk with missionaries.  And they even had a chance to feel the spirit of the Lord!!

By far the best miracle this weekend!! And our less-active family came to church!! :D

Lastly, my companion is from Las Vegas, Nevada and is cold all the time, especially with the winter breezes.  I often tease her and have started calling her "Vegemite" every time she tells me she's cold.  It's like Vegas and mite haha.  So that's just a funny inside joke.

Hope you all have a good week!!

Sister Mandy Welker
My new companion, Sister Bashaw :D

The force is strong with this one ;D

Spiritual Thought :D

This email was sent by Sister Welker on September 4th.  We received it on September 3rd.

Week 56: Goodbye Sister Meas, Return of the Trio, and Bold

So last Monday was Sister Meas last PDay.  She had no idea but we had planned a massive surprise party for her (that's why I emailed earlier last week).  We picked up the other sisters and blindfolded her, so she had no idea where we were going.  It was about a 30 minute drive to the other sisters flat, so we partied to some music on the way there.  Good thing Sister Meas was blindfolded so that she couldn't see my crazy car dancing, haha.  All the sisters surprised her and we spent the next couple hours eating snacks and playing minute-to-win it games.  I'm usually not good at keeping secrets, and planning a party for someone you're with 24/7 is harder than you think.  But she had a blast, and was completely surprised!! :D

There's one really cool miracle I wanted to share from this week.  My commitment from President this transfer is to be humbly bold.  Not sure I'm humble yet, but I have been bold.  We went to go visit this less-active family earlier this week.  We watched a Mormon message called "You Never Know" ( ) with them and tried sharing our testimonies and promised blessings.  Unfortunately, all the kids were talking, the baby was crying, and no one was listening.  By this point, I was slightly annoyed and said a calm but bold "Hey!"  The whole family stopped and stared at me.  I continued by saying "What were the three promised blessings we just gave you?"  The family all had blank stares and just looked sheepishly at each other.  I repeated the promised blessings and asked them to repeat them back to me.  It took a couple more times before they were finally able to list all the blessings we had promised them.  We told them that if they said their family prayers once a day for seven days, that we could promise them 1) more peace in the home, 2) stronger family relationships, and 3) better communication. 

As I was walking out of that lesson, I told Sister Meas how "I couldn't believe I was that bold."  I thought that I had scared the family away, but this Sunday the whole family, except for the father came to church!!  I was completely surprised.  I couldn't believe that they had made the effort to come to church.

We said good-bye to Sister Meas this morning.  She left Tarankai at 7:15 am and will be arriving in Hamilton later today.  Tomorrow she takes a plane from Auckland to Cambodia, and will see her family again Wednesday morning.  It's always hard to say good-bye even if we were only together for 6 weeks.  We truly bonded, and I really enjoyed being her companion.  I hope one day we will meet again.

So for the next 4 days I'll be in a trio with Sister Mavea and Sister Jabeque.  I've served around both of them in Tauranga, and I've even been companions with Sister Jabeque.  Who knew I'd be companions with her twice, even if it's only for 4 days.  I won't find out who my new companion is till tomorrow night.  I'll be sure to let you know all about my new companion next week.

“It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don’t worry. … If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith.”—President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Latter-day Counsel: Excerpts from Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley

Hope you all have a good week.

Sister Mandy Welker

Sister Meas' surprise party

Sister Meas' last Sunday

Saying good-bye this morning.  Mean old bus taking my companion away.  How rude ;)

A MASSIVE Bible that our less-active family owns

Can you imagine carrying those scriptures around?
I think I'd get some good arm muscles carrying that thing around!

My new trio until Thursday. And the emoji pillows.
This email was sent by Sister Welker on September 4th.  We received it on September 3rd.  It is an account from one week ago (August 28th).

Week 55: Exchanges and Little Me

Not too much has happened this week.  And even if there was heaps that happened, I have like no time to write about it haha. We went on exchanges this week.  I was left to lead the area and for some reason, it was a struggle!!  We spent most of the time getting lost and just trying to figure out where these people live.  I really enjoyed spending time with Sister Mavea though.  She's a crazy fun Tongan and I spent some time with her in Tauranga, but didn't know her that well.  Now that we've had exchanges, we're like best mates!!  For anyone that has seen the TV show, Scorpion, she reminds me of a character named Happy.  She's just like her.  Sister Mavea has served in the army as a mechanic.  So that's cool, cause you don't meet very many sisters that want to serve in the army.  She has a strong testimony and has been born and raised in the gospel in Tonga.  We had such a blast and just kept laughing the whole time.  It was great!! :D

The other cool thing was that we meet a family that I'll call the Rogers.  The Rogers family consists of a single mom with 4 children (3 girls and 1 boy).  The oldest daughter reminded me a lot of myself when I was growing up.  It was as if I was able to time travel and visit my past self.  She had short shoulder length blonde wavy hair.  She had blue eyes and was a bit nervous/shy.  I couldn't help but feel that I was meant to meet her.

We, missionaries, forget that we can also have an influence on little children.  They look up to us and want to be more like us.  There was a time in South Auckland when I was sitting in sacrament meeting, and a child that was sitting behind me tapped my shoulder and pointed to a picture he had hand drawn.  It was a pictures of an elder and he wrote the words on the side "I want to be a missionary."  Tears flooded my eyes.  It was the cutest thing ever.  You really never know how much good you do.

I have like no more time.  I got to go, but I hope you all have a great week.

Sister Welker

Monday, August 28, 2017

This email was sent by Sister Welker on August 28th.  We received it on August 27th.  It is an account from 1 week ago (August 21st).

Week 54: 4 question survey, Zone Conference, and Road trip to Hamilton!!

We had Zone Conference last week, and Sister Mavea, Sister Jabeque, Sister Meas and I partied in the car as we followed the Zone Leaders to Hamilton!! That's definitely a plus to being in Taranaki--you get to go on road trips!! We turned the music up and we were dancing in the seats of our car, and snapping and clapping to our gospel jams haha.  We stopped at McDonald's for dinner and the other sisters who were following us admitted how they could see some of our dance moves, haha.

When we arrived in Hamilton, the other district had interviews that night with President and it was only 7 pm.  SO there wasn't much we could do, until the AP's told us to follow them.  They guided us to a mini theater and had us watch "Meet the Mormons" and "On the Lord's Errand."  It was super fun!!  A road trip and a movie night in the same day!! :D.

We then stayed the night with some visitor center sisters and went to Zone Conference the next day.

The training is always cool, but my favorites are always Sister Cummings!! She played us a small clip entitled "biggest failures" in the world and it was slides of amazing people.  People like Micheal Jordan, who was considered a failure when he didn't make a basketball team at a young age, and ended up being a basketball legend.  People like Walt Disney and Steve Jobs, who are some of the most successful people in the world.  They all had a "failure" in their life at one point, but used persistence to follow their dreams.  It was a really cool training and opened my eyes to the someone I can

The day after Zone Conference we were just visiting the normal.  We pulled the car over as we passed a less-active sister's home, and just sat and stared at the world in front of us.  I leaned my chair back and just complained about the work.  We both shared our frustrations and just sat there wishing the work would progress.  After of a couple of minutes of pure disappointment, I got this random surge of energy.  We then collected crazy ideas on how we could find new people to teach.  One of those ideas included doing a 4 question survey.  Sister C is the one who I originally heard the idea from, and I had always wanted to try.  We then came up with 4 questions:

1) Where in the world is Sister Meas from?
2) If you had an interview with Christ, 5 minutes from now what would you ask him?
3) If we told you your family can be together forever, would you believe us?
4) Now that you've meet missionaries, would you like to meet with them again?

You'd be surprised how much more effective the survey has been.  Since we've done it, we've had 3 potential new investigators.  Even for those who don't want us to come back, some at least take the time (or 30 seconds) to answer our questions.

Thanks again for all your love and support.

Sister Mandy Welker

I can finally attach pictures now!! :D

Sister Welker and her companion, Sister Meas

Sunday, August 20, 2017

This email was sent by Sister Welker on August 14th.  We received it on August 13th.

Week 53: Exchange, and Welcome Surprise

Not too much happened this week.  We had exchanges with the Hawera sisters this week.  They use to be in the Samoan program in South Auckland, but they are in the English program in Taranaki for now.  I went with Sister Cole to her area, and man is their flat nice.  They are currently staying in the senior couples home, since they don't have a senior couple at the moment.  And man, missions treat senior couples well.  It felt so flash that I didn't feel like I was a missionary, haha.  It felt too much like a home.  Sister Cole is cool though.  She comes from a big family in Missouri, I think.  And she loves books and fairy tale stuff, as well as some popular crime shows that mom loves to watch too.

We visited a former investigator of theirs and were surprised when she invited us in.  She was a super cute girl and had meet with missionaries before.  She even had a baptism date at one point in her life, but felt she wasn't ready and canceled last minute.  We reviewed the Restoration with her, and by the end of the lesson she was flipping through pages in her scriptures looking for a specific verse.  We helped her to find the verse she was looking for, and it just happened to be about baptism!!  I'll have to follow up with Sister Cole to see if she progresses or not.

We were also knocking doors (not my favorite, but we're pretty desperate).  We knocked on this one door and a Maori lady answered.  She asked us "What makes our religion different?"  I was then able to briefly summarize the message of the restoration, and to our surprise we were invited into the home!!!  That like never happens, so we were pretty excited.  We then took 10 minutes to explain the message of the Restoration in more detail.  By the end of the lesson, she wasn't sold, but she was curious to learn more.  

That's about it for this week. Hope you all have a good week, and talk to you again next week.

Sister Mandy Welker

Book of Mormon, Alma 26: 11-12
      "I do not boast in my own strength, nor in  my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God."
      "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."

(Sorry about not having pictures for the last couple weeks.  Hopefully, we'll have some next week.)
This email was sent by Sister Welker on August 7th.  We received it on August 6th.

Week 52: 4 hours to Hamilton, and Sister Meas Birthday Surprise
This email was sent by Sister Welker on July 31st.  We received it on July 30th.

Week 51: Good-bye South Auckland, and Companions Around the World