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.