Monday, December 12, 2016

I'm including a better picture of Sister Welker and Sister Johnson in their puletasi (Samoan dresses).  I am also adding a Facebook post from the sister who made them, as she puts it, for her "white Island girls!"  This is Sister Johnson's last week, so the post concerns her, but says really nice things about Sister Welker as well.

"Our Beautiful Sis Johnson is going home in few days. Thank you sister for your beautiful testimony. We will miss you so much and you're always a happy soul. Continue to do good and keep us posted. We are so happy that you're not taking our beautiful Sister Welker with you. She's stuck with us hahaha. Safe travels back home! You served well sister!!! Much Alofas from us xoxo"

This email was sent by Sister Welker on December 5th.  We received it on December 4th.

Week 17: Exchanges, Zone Conference, Baptism, Good-Bye's

Wow it has been such a packed week!!! This week I've been on two exchanges, had zone conference, and 5 baptisms.  Sounds like a pretty good week if you ask me.  The week before I was on two more exchanges so in other words I've felt like I haven't seen my companion in ages haha.

Being the Sister Training Leaders companion is so fun.  You get to go on heaps of exchanges and random adventures and you don't have to worry about anything.  Good thing Sister Johnson loves being the STL.

Thursday was zone conference.   That's where President Cummings and all the missionaries from Tauranga, Gisbon, and Rotorua all come together for a training.  They usually hold the meeting at my stake center which is only about 10-15min away from my flat depending on traffic, but since I was in Rotorua for an exchange we had to wake up at 6 instead of 6:30 in order to make the hour drive back to my area.  Some missionaries had to wake up at 5!! Poor things.  Anyway President Cummings gave a training about how to follow the spirit, and Sister Cummings gave a training on self worth/truth vs lies.  They were both super good!! It's amazing how often we have to be reminded of the simple things of the gospel, but it makes all the difference. 

Saturday was the BAPTISM!!!  I honestly didn't register that they were getting baptized that day until I saw the whole family get out of the car all dressed in white.  Just a little under a month ago we found the family, thanks to Bishop.  He gave us a list of people he wanted us to visit and on that list was a less-active member in the Mount ward.  When we visited her we also meet her nephew and got a return appointment with him.  Now the nephew and 4 other members of his family are baptized!! It was my first baptism and Sister Johnsons last baptism.  So it's bitter sweet.

As you know Sister Johnsons last day is today.  She leaves on a bus to Hamilton tomorrow and then the following day she'll be on a flight back to the States.  We've been companions for three months, which means I'm Sister Johnsons longest companion.  Crazy right!??!  Starting tomorrow I'll be in a trio with the Te Puke sisters, and were gonna attempt to cover both areas.  Which is extra crazy because I cover both Welcome Bay and Mount Ward.  So wish me luck haha.  I'm excited it's gonna be so much fun, and I also get to spend Christmas with them!!

That's about it for this week.  I can't believe it's December already!! Christmas is in like less than three weeks!! I hope this Christmas I can really focus on the Savior and serving others.  The church has put out a new Christmas video called Light the World and if you haven't seen it yet I highly recommend it.  It even has 25 ways for 25 days for you to serve others around you and become more like Christ.  I'm grateful that I get to serve a mission, and I'm so grateful for all the love and support you all send me every week.  Thanks for all you do and the example you are to me in my life.  Hope you all have a good week.

Sister Welker

Sunday, December 4, 2016

This email was sent by Sister Welker on November 28th.  We received it on November 27th.

Week 16: Thanksgiving, and Saturday

Man, sorry that's a pretty lame title.  If I had more time, I'd think of a better one, but for now we'll stick with that.

It's been a good week.  It's been super busy.  We went on two exchanges and will go on two more exchanges this week.

Sister Johnson only has a little over a week left of her mission.  It will be sad to see her leave, but I know her family will be really excited to see her.  We've visited our golden family almost everyday this past week, and we plan to see them everyday next week.  Their baptism is this SATURDAY!! I'm super excited and can't wait.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and a safe Black Friday.  I'm grateful for each one of you in my life, and I hope you know how important you are to me.  We spent Thanksgiving night at a restaurant called Breakers CafĂ© and Bar in the Mount.  It was really fun.  The restaurant was all beach themed.  I had a pineapple chicken meal and Sister Johnson had a chicken salad. Of course, we had to have dessert, so we had a New Zealand styled cheesecake.  It's not quiet the same as a turkey dinner, but it was still super yummy.

Saturday, the Welcome Bay ward had a camp and the missionaries were assigned to help with the games.  Half of us worked with those 12 and up, and then some of the other missionaries and me helped with the 11 and younger.  The 12 and up played water balloon volleyball, which is just like regular volleyball except two people hold one end of a towel and they have to cradle the water balloon and toss it to the next person.  I was helping the younger group with their game.  They each got a balloon and they had to tie it to their ankles.  The goal of the game is to pop everyone else's balloon and be the last one with a balloon on your ankle.  Sadly, the balloons kept popping before the game even started.  We finally got every child a balloon, and started the game but it ended quicker than we were hoping, so we improvised with a game of Red Light, Green Light.  It was so much fun!!

Later on we went to help feed the homeless in Te Puke.  The last couple of weeks we've had such a great turn out, that we ran out of food completely!!  This week not as many people showed up, but I made the effort to talk to some of the homeless.  In weeks past I might have said something like "Hi, how are you?" and "How was your week?" but Saturday I really made the effort to have a good conversation with them.  It wasn't that hard to do.  I guess when you're homeless, you're use to nobody caring, so when someone actually does care, you want to talk to them.  They want to tell you their life story--they're just waiting for someone to listen.  It makes me really grateful for all the blessings in my life, including a home to go to every night.

The gospel really does bless peoples lives.  It provides true happiness for everyone, and the best way to be happy is to stop worrying about yourself and think of others.  The more I serve others, the more I learn to be happy and love others.  I'm so grateful that I get to be able to have the chance serve a mission--to be able to share the gospel message with New Zealand.  One person really can make a difference.

Hope you all have a good week.

Sister Welker

This email was sent by Sister Welker on November 21st.  We received it on November 20th.

Week 15: Transfers, Seaspray, and Oh ye of little faith

It's been a good week!!

Transfers were this week, and Sister Johnson is staying.  She only has three more weeks left, and then she goes home.  We didn't get a third person though, so I'm not sure what will happen to me in three weeks.  I'm assuming I'll be with the Te Puke sisters for three weeks till the next transfers, but I'm not sure.  I'll definitely let you know when I find out.

So last week when Sister Johnson was at MLC (Mission Leadership Council), Sister Lavaka and I were contacting just about everyone and having the worst luck.  No one seemed to be home or had no desire to hear about the gospel.  We were on our way from the Mount to Welcome Bay, when I drove by Seaspray Drive/Lane.  As I drove passed it, the street sign almost seemed to glow-- it stood out as if everything else around it went out of focus/blurred.  My gut told me that we needed to contact that street, but we had already passed it and had planned to go visit Chasidy.  So I ignored the prompting, and continued driving towards Welcome Bay.  For the remainder of the day and even days later, I kept thinking of Seaspray Drive/Lane.  I became disappointed, thinking I had missed out on the opportunity.  Wednesday night I felt the prompting again to visit Seaspray Drive/Lane, and this time I didn't ignore it.  Thursday, after visiting some less-actives in the Mount Ward, we drove to Seaspray, pulled over, and choose to visit the first house.  We knocked on the door and a beautiful young lady answered.  She was tall and thin with long wavy red hair, in about her late 20's, and she had the cutest accent.  Growing up she had little to no experience with religion/church, but she's met missionaries before.  She mentioned how the Jehovah Witnesses' actually stopped by her house earlier that day.  She, like most people, wondered why there are so many churches in the world today.  Sister Johnson and I then gave her a brief summary of the Restoration and explained how Christ's church once was on the earth, but over time, the gospel was scattered into pieces and good people looking for the truth took parts of the gospel and formed churches of their own.  We then mentioned Joseph Smith and how he was the first prophet in this dispensation, and was responsible for restoring the church.  She paused us mid-sentence and said, "You know I would have just taken your pamphlet and said 'Thanks but no thanks,' but you answered my question.  I want to learn more about Joseph Smith".  We were so excited, gave her the pamphlet, and asked if we could back again next week.  She agreed and asked us "How did you know to come to this street?  If you would have tried any other day, I wouldn't have been home."  I know that experience was a miracle, and that God trusted me enough, to prompt me to go to that street.

Lately, I've found myself guilty of being doubtful, whether it's deciding if we're gonna be able to turn around without having to back the car up, or just inviting someone to be baptized.  Somehow everything works out.  I wouldn't be able to explain it, it shouldn't work, but somehow it does.  I need to learn to trust the Lord more.  He has a plan for me and He knows what He's doing.  If you put your trust in the Lord, everything else will work out. 

That's the highlights for this week.  I hope you guys have a good week and remember how important you are to me.  Love and miss you lots.

Sister Welker

"Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it."  ~Enos 1:15

A member made me a Samoan dress called a puletasi!!! I wore it to church yesterday.  I'll take a better picture for next week.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

This email was sent by Sister Welker on November 21st.  We received it on November 20th.

Week 14: December 3rd, Making a Difference, and Feeding the Homeless

It's amazing what a difference a week can make.  So much happened, that it was hard for me to pick my favorite highlights.

To start, we have a family of 5 preparing to be baptized on December 3rd!!!  They are amazing, and we were lucky to even find them in the first place.  We received a list of referrals from Bishop Crawford, about a month ago on people he wanted us to visit.  On that list was a less-active member in the Mount Ward.  When we visited her, we also meet her nephew who was visiting her that day.  We got a return appointment with the nephew and his family, and now his whole family is set for baptism!! They love the lessons and have been coming to church for the last two weeks.  They even asked for more chapters to read in the Book of Mormon.  It's so fun to see how excited they are to learn the gospel.

Those of you who don't know me well, might not know I'm not a great cook.  The kitchen is actually one of my greatest fears, but you'd be proud to know that I made fried rice on Thursday.  Technically, it wasn't fried but it still tasted good.  We boiled some rice, and cooked frozen vegetables, eggs and sausages that we warmed up in the microwave.  To top if off, we put in some soy sauce and mixed it all together.   Surprisingly, it tasted pretty good and nobody got sick or died, so sounds like I'm making progress hahah.

For the past two weeks, we've been having FHE (family home evening) with a less-active family.  The mother is actually the relief society president in the Mount Ward, but her family hasn't been to church in a couple of years.  Every lesson we've had with them so far has been amazing.  The girls have taught me so much, and I'm surprised how powerful their testimonies are about the gospel.  The father actually volunteered to speak in church.  Bishop was quite surprised, but was happy to have him speak.  It was such a good talk!!  He even mentioned how the sisters have been coming over and reminding them about the teachings of the gospel. 

For the longest time, I haven't felt as though I've been making a difference.  I've felt as though I was just tagging along for the ride.  Recently, we visited one of our less-active members whose been coming back to church ever since I've been here in Tauranga.  He was a member of the church as a child, but stopped coming when he was about 10 years old.  Now he's in his late 50's.  At the end of one of our lessons, we asked him if he would say the prayer.  After the prayer, I was almost in tears.  His prayer made me realize that I really am making a difference, that he's truly grateful for the lessons we've taught him and encouraging him to come back to church.

I'm sorry if I've mentioned feeding the homeless in previous emails, but it's something I really want to talk about this week.   Every Saturday at 5:00 p.m. we help feed the homeless with the Te Puke Sisters.  A member in the Welcome Bay ward has been volunteering to feed the homeless every Saturday for the past year!!  These last couple weeks we've been able to provide meals for over 20 homeless individuals, and give them enough for a meal the next day.  It may not be much, but it's just a way to help those in need and I'm so grateful I get to be a part of it.

Sorry this email is a week late, but I hope you can all forgive me.  Just remember that it may not be easy to see if your making a difference or not, but I promise you that you are making a difference.  You're in this place and situation for a reason.  Remember have courage and be kind, and try to be better today than you were yesterday, and better tomorrow than you are today.  Have a good week.

Sister Welker

Mosiah 4:19

Monday, November 14, 2016

Email excerpts sent by Sister Welker and Sister Johnson on November 14th.  We received them on November 13th.

Sister Welker responded to some individual e-mails this week, so she said that she didn't have enough time for the normal weekly e-mail.   She did promise to send us 2 next week!  Many of you have asked or have heard that there was a 7.8-magnitude earthquake in New Zealand over the weekend.  It was centered near Christchurch, which is towards the top of the south island.  Sister Welker's mission covers the central area of the north island, and she is in the north part of her mission.

Here are a couple of excerpts from individual e-mails:

Man, I keep sleeping through earthquakes.  I'm safe.  There's no damage.  Life is good.

Yes, she (Sister Johnson) only has three weeks left, and yes, it is transfer week.  There is a small chance they will transfer her, but you never know.  She will probably stay and we will get another missionary, so it will be a trio again.  Then when Sister Johnson leaves, the other missionary will be my new companion. 

Oh and fun fact!  You'd think that by being in New Zealand nobody would talk about the American elections.  FALSE!! When I get asked where are you from, and I tell them Utah or the States, they ask "So what do you think about the elections?"  The annoying part is that I'm not allowed to talk about politics as a missionary, so I have to "avoid" the topic which is sometimes impossible.  But, no I hear about the elections ALL THE TIME!!  Sadly.

I have also been blessed to have access to the emails that her companion, Sister Johnson, sends.  Her sweet mom found me on Facebook, and so I can cheat a little when I don't get all the information I want!  Here are some details from Sister Johnson's post this week:

But that night (Monday), we had a really good Family Home Evening with the Phillips.  Sister Welker is pretty much the queen of object lessons so that's really fun.  We have one with a peanut butter jar, rice, and a ping pong ball about getting through trials with the Lord's help; one about prayer/following the spirit with two cans and a string; and one about sin/temptation with a box with a hole and a tennis ball.  They are the best, because they really help people and they remember them.  That night we had a DELICIOUS dinner with the Arthurs in the Mount Ward.  We are so spoiled here!

But after that (singing for the elderly in Tauranga), we went to visit Dyles and we met our golden family!!! Dyles is a 17 year old boy who is the nephew of one of our members.  Bishop Crawford told us to go visit that member (Kereama is her name) and he happened to be there.  We asked if we could visit him at his house, and he said yes.  So that's how we ended up there.  But it was juct amazing!  It's a three generation family and the grandma and one of the moms are less active members.  But Dyles's mom, Katrina, and Dyles, his sister (Rhyme, 10), and their cousins Lieshane (pronounced Leh-shawn, 12) and Shayniah (9) all sad and listed to the lesson, and loved it!  We gave each of them a copy of the Book of Mormon and invited them to read 3 Nephi 11.  We came back the next day, and they had all sad around reading it the night before.  They have read three chapters by now and yesterday, at church they wanted us to write down heaps of chapters for them to read all together!  The coolest thing is that it's their whole family doing it together.  So they are all (five of them) set for baptism on the 3rd of December!  We are just so, so excited and happy for them.  It's amazing.  The joy of missionary work is so real and so great.

I just have so much fun with my companion.  I just want her to have the best mission in the world!  (Except I think mine is already the best.)

Hope you enjoyed the hodgepodge version I put together for you this week!

Mom of Sister Welker

This email was sent by Sister Welker on November 7th.  We received it on November 6th.

Week 13: Happy Guy Fawkes Day, and Wonderful Weekend

This week was kinda rough, but there's always a light at the end of the tunnel.  We just had to make it to the weekend and then things started to look better.

November 5th was Guy Fawkes Day.  It's basically a day where they celebrate a guy by the name of Guy Fawkes attempting to destroy parliament by blowing it up.  So New Zealanders use the day as an excuse to have fireworks haha.  You'd have to look it up to find out more about it, that's about all I know.  That same day Sister Johnson and I helped set up a wedding for a couple in our ward.  It was extra exciting for Sister Johnson, because she has helped the bride transition from her past life to the gospel, and plus we're currently teaching her mother in hopes she'll follow her daughter's example by being baptized.  They had to drive two hours to get married in the temple early in the morning, and then drive back and have the reception in Te Puke (tay poo-key).  The view was absolutely amazing!  They had front row seats to the beach, so you could see the waves crashing along the seaside.  I spent most of the day helping in the kitchen, chopping up potatoes, fruit, and stirring custard.  They both looked so happy--I'm so excited and happy for them.  I can't attach photos this week, but I'll be sure to send some next week.

Sunday after sacrament meeting, there was a young lady in about her mid to late 30's that walked into church.  She had no idea why she was there, she just felt as though she was suppose to come to church that day.  She doesn't even know much about the Mormon faith but she just knew how much church helped her father.  We invited her to the gospel principles class and we talked about how God is our loving Heavenly Father.  She loved the lesson and we got a return appointment with her for Friday!!

Those were the highlights of my week.  Life can be hard sometimes, but even during our hard times we can still choose to be happy.  President Russell M. Nelson talked of Joy in this last General Conference and said this:
"That’s it! Saints can be happy under every circumstance. We can feel joy even while having a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad year!  My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives."

I love this gospel! I'm excited I have the chance to share what brings me happiness with others.  This is where the Lord wants me and so this is where I'll stay.  Our Heavenly Father has a plan for each one of us and knows us personally.  He created us and wants us to be happy.  I love you all so much.  Thanks for all your love and support.  Hope you all have a good week.

Sister Mandy Welker 
Mosiah 2:17

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

This email was sent by Sister Welker on October 31st.  We received it on October 30th.

Week 12: Trunk-or-Treat, Less-Active at the Beach, and Exchanges

First of all I just wanted to say Happy Halloween!! I hope you all have a fun and safe night with lots of sweets and lollies.  :)

I actually got to do some Trick-or-Treating of my own.  Our ward had a Trunk-or-Treat (it's like trick-or-treating but with the trunk of your car instead of houses) activity this last Friday and both my companion and I dressed up.  For having a limited closet, I think we did a pretty good job.  I dressed up as Rapunzel, and my companion dressed up as Cruella De Vil.  I even found little flowers and made a flower chain to stick in my hair--and I couldn't forget about the frying pan. ;)

The other two highlights of my week would have definitely been exchanges, and finding a less-active member at the beach.

For exchanges, I was with Sister Marsh in my area.  We went to go visit a less-active member in the Mount Ward.  Whenever we've visited her in the past, she's either not home or just too busy.  So I was quite surprised when she invited us in and talked with us.  She is one of the cutest people ever!!  Her family is from Nepal but they've been here in New Zealand for I think a couple years now.  She loves to dance, she's studying Hair and Beauty, and wants to learn how to bake.  Sister Marsh also wants to study Hair and Beauty, so she was able to relate with her easier than I could.  We scheduled to meet with her again this Friday, and make peanut-butter kiss cookies!! :D

Saturday, we went to the Mount and talked to people on the beach about the gospel (I know hard life right). ;)  Anyway, we talked with this young lady who turned out to be related to one of the members in the High Council in our stake.  She hasn't been to church ever since her grandparents passed away.  When we talked with her, she cried and explained how she felt it was a sign from God that she needed to go back to church! :)

Sorry for not responding to emails last week.  I got locked out of my email account shortly after sending my weekly updates.  I love you all so much, and I hope you have a great rest of your week.

Sister Welker

Monday, October 24, 2016

As most of you know, Sister Welker is quite the photographer extraordinaire!  She has been sending dozens of photos our way each week.  Unfortunately, she is finding that when she sends too many photos, she locks up her email account.  She wishes to express her apologies for not emailing more this week, due to getting locked out of her email again. She didn't even get around to reading our emails this week.

So, I'm posting an excerpt from her companion's (Sister Johnson's) email from last week:

"It has been, as usual, a really, really crazy week!  But first things first, my companion (Sister Welker) just got on her email and found out . . . she got into BYU!!!!  Hooray for that blessed place.  We are so excited and all the missionaries had a mini party in this internet cafe when we found out!"

We received the email from CES Admissions on October 14th.  We attached the acceptance letter to Sister Welker's email on October 16th. This is a picture of her finding it in the email!  And one of the mini-party to follow!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

This email was sent by Sister Welker on October 24th.  We received it on October 23rd.

Week 11: 6 out of 6, and Trust in God

It's been a good week!!

Tuesday nights we have rescue visits, which is where members meet us at the chapel to come out and do missionary work.  If enough members show up, then we can split up and do twice as much missionary work.  This last Tuesday, we had 6 missionaries and 6 members show up.  So we were able to do 6 visits instead of just 3.  Our visit was exactly what that individual needed.  She just needed someone she could relate to and the member I brought was the perfect person.  When we all meet back at the chapel, we discovered all 6 of the visits were a HUGE success!!  So hopefully we can have another successful rescue visit this next week.

Wednesday night we had an exchange with the Te Puke sisters, where I went to Te Puke for a day while Sister Reynolds went with my companion to my area.  That night, we had a family home evening with a family of three boys about faith.  We were lucky that they were able to sit still for that long. ;)  Sister Lewis had a great acronym for the word faith to go along with the lesson.  F - firm believe, A - accept and act, I - increase knowledge, T - trust (I think), and H - heal.  We even got to play soccer with them for a few minuets before it was time for dinner. 

The next morning (Thursday) we actually went to one of my less active members.  The funny thing is that the Te Puke sisters called my less active thinking it was one of their less active members, and set an appointment with her.  Not sure how they got her number, but it was all meant to be.  It turned out to be my favorite lesson on my mission so far!!  We taught her about trusting God and how we can't survive without God.  The lesson was so good we left her in tears. 

That's about it for this week.  Thanks again for all your e-mails, prayers and love.  I look forward to Mondays, when I get to read your e-mails.  Once again, I apologize if I don't respond to all your emails.  I read every single one of them, but I don't always have time to respond.  I miss you all so much.  I hope you all have a good week. 

Until next week,

Sister Welker

This email was sent by Sister Welker on October 17th.  We received it on October 16th.

Week 10: Power Outage, Singing for the Elderly, Miracle Moment, and Cool Enough to Be Pranked

This week wasn't as cool as last week but it was still fun!!

Thursday, we were coming home after a long missionary day.  We walked into the flat (apartment) and turned the light on to go up the stairs (since we live on the top floor) and then we walked into our flat and tried turning on the lights.  The light didn't turn on so we thought that the light bulb burned out, but then we tried another light, and another light, and they were all out.  We had a POWER OUTAGE!!!  Which is actually quite funny, since the light in our stair way worked.  We made a 1000 phone calls trying to figure it out and ended up staying the night in the Te Puke sisters flat instead.  The next day, we found out that there was a switch that we just needed to flick and everything went back to normal. 

Either Friday or Saturday, we went to sing for the elderly in Te Puke with the other sister and the Elders.  It was so much fun.  It's so cute to see the elderly light up as we sang and played instruments.  They started bouncing to the music and tapping their feet.  My companion sang some of her opera (she's a really good singer), and we sang some hymns and some more familiar songs like "You are My Sunshine" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."  I had a blast, and can't wait to go back and do it again.

We have a recent convert that was baptized in July that has been struggling.  She went back to drinking alcohol and feels embarrassed to come back to church.  We've been working with her a lot this week, and she's been really making progress.   One night, she texted us saying, I really want to drink, what do I do?  So we raced over to her house and talked with her.  Then Sister Johnson felt prompted to text a member to come over.  Without hesitation, he came over and he discussed with her that she needs to stop being so hard on herself, and believe she can stop drinking.  The next morning, we got a text from her saying that she was coming to church, and my companion and I got up from studies and started doing a happy dance!!

The Greeton Sisters had a baptism this weekend and we were able to help out with that.  I actually had a chance to be in a lesson with him the week before, and it was really exciting to see them get baptized. 

Last, but not least, I was cool enough to be pranked!!!!  Sister Johnson thought it was so funny that I was so excited that someone pranked us.  I don't think I've ever been cool enough to be pranked, but of course you realize this means war. ;)  We came out after meeting yesterday to find a family in our ward had wrapped toilet paper around our car.  I don't know why it was a highlight of my week, I must be a weird child hahah.

Well, that's it for this week.  I'm sorry, I hardly responded to any emails.  I promise I read them all, but I don't have enough time to respond.  Next week, I'll be sure to respond.

Have a good week.

Sister Welker
1 Nephi 3:7

Sunday, October 16, 2016

This email was sent by Sister Welker on October 17th.  We received it on October 16th.

Week 9: Transfers, McDonalds, Luau, and General Conference

Sorry for not sending a weekly update last week.  I had some technical issues and I got locked out of my email account for 24 hours.  So this week, there will be two weekly updates.

Monday, one of the sisters in my area completed/finished her mission, so we woke up extra early to get her to the bus stop on time.  After saying good-bye we all went to McDonald's for breakfast and it reminded me of my JATC days when we had McDonald's in LA for breakfast.  Anyways, with Sister Aloka gone, Sister Fina'i didn't have a companion so she stayed with Sister Johnson and I for a couple of days 'till the new missionaries came.  That night we had a bonfire on the beach.  It was SO MUCH fun and it was a great way for our investigators to socialize with the ward.  Bishop Author's family has this yummy campfire snack where they roast banana, chocolate, and marshmallows.  It was super yummy!!! :)

Later that week, we had a ward Luau.  I thought it was funny how many people didn't know what a Luau was.  Guess any American would think that is obvious.  It was so much fun!! My companion wore her pulu tasi and I wore a lava lava that a member gave me.  More people showed up than we expected.  Some of them had to save their dinner plates for pudding (New Zealand word for dessert)!!  There was heaps of yummy food and a lot of cool musical and dance numbers that the members performed.  Now I really want to go to Hawaii, haha.

And we finally were able to watch General Conference!! Here in New Zealand instead of watching it live, the stake broadcasts conference the following week at the stake center.  If we were to watch General Conference live, it would be at 4 or 5 in the morning (some members do watch it live, but I can wait, haha).  I loved Conference!!  For missionaries, Conference is like Christmas.  I especially loved Elder J. Devn Cornish's talk "Am I good enough? Will I make it' and I also loved Pres Nelson's talk on "Joy and Spiritual Survival."  I thought it was also cool how missionaries from the Provo MTC got to sing for one of the sessions. 

Sorry, if I don't get to responding to all your emails.  I'll try my best to respond to them all, but I don't have a lot of time. 

Hope you all had a good week and I'll talk to you again next week.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

This email was sent by Sister Welker on October 10th.  We received it on October 9th.  So because we don't get an account of what happened this week, we decided to share some of the amazing pictures we have been receiving!

Dear Welker Family,

I'm emailing you off of Sister Johnson's account, because my email account locked me out.  It freaked out when I tried to send too many pictures.  I won't be able to email you this week or be able to send any more pictures.  I'm sorry.  I hope you can all forgive me.  We still have a couple more minutes on the computers, so if you need to tell me anything you can respond back to the email, but if not I'll just email you next week.

Sister Welker

Sunday, October 9, 2016

This email was sent by Sister Welker on October 2nd.  We received it on October 1st.

Week 8: Double Exchange, Transfers, Three Amigos, Lip Sync, and Guacamole

It's been a crazy busy week!!

So my companion Sister Johnson is the STL (Sister Training Leader), which means she's in charge of all the sister missionaries in the Tauranga area.  She's the one who organizes exchanges, and being the STL's companion means you go on heaps of exchanges.  This week I went on an exchange with the sisters in Greeton.  The plan was going to be for me to go and stay the night at Greeton with one of the sisters and have Sister Johnson with the other sister in my area (Welcome Bay and Mount).  But about an hour after we switched, I got a call from Sister Johnson saying we should switch again.  That I should go in my area, with the other sister, and that Sister Johnson would go to Greeton with the sister I had been originally assigned with.  I'll admit I thought it was weird to switch again after, but it ended up being one of the best exchanges I had ever been on.

I ended up leading my area and we had a great lesson with a less active family.  The next morning we visited one of our recent converts who had just got baptized in July, but has been really struggling lately.  We invited her to say the prayer, and she told us she didn't want to say the prayer.  That God hasn't been listening, so what's the point.  My companion and I just sat there, listening, and kept asking her if she wanted to pray.  It was a little awkward just waiting on our knees, but we weren't going to leave till she said the prayer.  When she finally got on her knees, we said a prayer together.  It was one of the most powerful prayers I've ever heard.  She told us afterwards that she felt a little lighter after finishing the prayer, that God must really be listening.  It was so cool!!

Later this week, I went on two other mini exchanges (an exchange where you don't spend the night).  Being the STL's companion is the best!!  You get to go on tons of exchanges, but you don't have the responsibilities of an STL, so it's like getting the best of both worlds.

I'm currently in a trio.  We dropped off a sister at the bus stop this morning, so she could go to Hamilton and then catch a flight home.  It's so weird to be surrounded by such "old" missionaries that talk about going home while I just got here.  We have the extra sister until Thursday, when she will either transfer or get a new companion.

This week is transfers which means some missionaries will leave to another area and some will stay.  We don't find out till tomorrow night whether or not we get transferred.  I'm most likely staying since I've only been in the area for 6 weeks (one transfer), but Sister Johnson might be transferring since she's been here for 6 MONTHS (4 transfers).  If we both don't transfer to a different area, we'll still be companions, but if she's transferred, then I'll get a new companion. 

The highlight was definitely the Mount Ward LiP Sync.  The LiP Sync was suppose to be weeks ago but it got postponed till this week.  The missionaries had a musical number already picked out even before I came to the area.  It's the missionary parody to the Adele song Hello.  There's a video of the song on YouTube.  I'm not sure what it would be called, but I bet you could easily find it.  Anyway, we had it all planned out.  We found a way to install a door we could knock on, our mission leader dressed up as an older lady that answered the door, and the Elders pretended to eat pie and mow the lawn.  We thought we were so funny.  Not very many people showed up to the Lip Sync and only one other group prepared for a musical number, so we had to improvise with stand up comedy, and a musical parody Sister Johnson and I made up.  Even though nobody found our song very funny it was still way fun, and the young men did a funny Lip Sync to an Elvis Presley song called Look Like an Angel (or at least that's what I think it's called).

Then right after the Lip Sync, we had refreshments.  I wanted to help by opening the Guacamole jar.  One of the Elders and my Mission Leader both joked that it was "child proof" and that I wouldn't be able to open it.  So, of course, I had to prove them wrong and spent the next 5 mins trying to open it.  Sadly, I gave up and they opened it within 10 seconds of holding it. haha

Sorry it was such a long email this week, and the SD card reader isn't working either, so there's no photos for this week.  I'll be sure to send them next week.

I hope you all have a good week. 

Sister Welker

Sunday, September 25, 2016

This email was sent by Sister Welker on September 26th.  We received it on September 25th.

Week 7: Waterfall, My First Zone Conference, 7 days of rain, and DRIVING!!!!

It was a rough week, but we are still working hard, and doing it all with a smile on our faces. 

Last Monday, we hiked a waterfall for P-day.  Actually there were two waterfalls, one of them was like a little stream with rocks and the other was a little water fall that was hidden along a path only about 20-30 ft tall, but it was still way fun!!

Poor Sister Johnson was sick for the first half of this week.  She had an upset tummy and even had to stay at the flat (New Zealand for apartment) for one night.  She's doing much better now!!

I had my 1st Zone Conference this week!!  It was fun to see the other missionaries that I knew at the MTC and have President Cummings speak to us.  It was like my spiritual boost for the week.

It's been raining everyday this week.  I don't mind--I like the rain and it reminds me of my mom cause she LOVES the rain, but most people don't like the rain here.  Even Sister Johnson who's from Nevada, doesn't like the rain either, which is saying a lot since in Nevada if it rains it's a big deal and everyone will run outside and play for about 20 min until the rain leaves.  I just try and tell my companion that "rain is simile weather," but she doesn't believe me yet.

On a good note I started driving!!!  It's actually not that bad once you figure out how to use the round-a-bouts (which is way nicer than the lights we have in the states).  I'll definitely miss those when I go back home.  I get quizzed/tested tonight and then I'll be official and can drive on my own.

We have a couple of really good people that are really close to baptism, they just need a little more time.  I'll be sure to let you guys know how that goes.  Other than that, that's about it here.  I hope you've had a great week and would love to hear all about it.  I'm sorry if I don't get to respond to every email.  I only have 90 minutes on the computer.  

Hope you have a great week,

Sister Welker

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