Sunday, December 10, 2017

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

Week 69: Good-bye Taranaki

Yep, I got transferred.  Sadly, my companion and I realized that would happen Monday night, and so this whole week has been really long.  Saying good-bye is honestly the worst part of a mission.  And it feels as though you have to say good-bye just when you get to know people.

Tuesday at 5pm is when we got the news.  I was told I was going to Hamilton East.  This whole time I've always joked that President has wanted me as far away from the temple as possible, and now it's less than 30 minutes away.  So there goes that joke.  I can't use that one anymore.  Hamilton East is right next to a university, so we have heaps of YSA (young single adults) in my area.  The area is also much smaller than Taranaki.  I went from only have 80 people coming to church in the  branch to almost 200 people coming to church and it's a ward.  The church is a big deal here.  Everyone knows who Mormons are and has seen the temple before.  It's funny, I imagine that serving in Hamilton would be what it feels like to serve in Utah.  So it almost feels like home.

My new companion is Sister Schwendinger (sh-when-ding-er).  It's taken me the past four days to pronounce her name right.  So most times I just call her companion or sister haha.  But I'm getting better at using her name more often.  She's from San Diego, California.  She has 6 other sibilings.  She has two younger sibilings so that means she's a middle child.  But she also has a twin sister serving in Flordia at the moment.  She loves reading books and was in student government in high school.  She graduated in 2016 and has been on her mission for a little under a year (Gisbone was her other area).

I'm currently emailing at an internet cafe, so I won't be sending any pictures this week but hopefully I can send some soon.

Thanks for all your love and support!!

Sister Mandy Welker

This email was sent by Sister Welker on November 27th.  We received it on November 26th.

Week 68: Testimony challenge, Gave a talk in church, Thanksgiving, and Transfers

Kia Ora eveyone!! Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and a safe Black Friday.  Our branch had a cute little Thanksgiving feed of our own, but no one does Thanksgiving as well as the US.  It was still yum and my companion and I had a blast!!

We also had exchanges with the Hawera Sisters. I went to Hawera with Sister Leota and Sister Scherer went to New Plymouth with Sister Bashaw. The theme was all focused on testimonies.  I had each sister commit to share heartfelt testimonies whenever they have the opportunity to share their testimony.  I noticed a difference when I gave my testimony.  I think sometimes I go robotic and just share my testimony as if it's a chore or something expected.  But I could really notice the difference this last time, and was more careful with what words I shared in my testimony.

I gave a talk in church yesterday.  I talked about being a daughter of God from the 5th chapter in the Gorden B. Hinkley Teachings of the President of the Church book.  I won't attach the whole talk but here's one of my favorite paragraphs.

PART OF MY TALK:
During the time when Christ was on the earth, there was another woman.  One who was physically dragged to His feet, and accused of committing adultery.  The scribes and Pharisees wanted so badly to prove Christ wrong, that they literally placed this woman's life in his hands.  She too could have been killed for her actions.  As the crowd stood and watched the scene unfold, I can only imagine this woman was bracing herself for the worst.  Never before had she been so scared, so embarrassed, and so disappointed in herself.  And now that it was time to suffer the consequences, she didn't run, or give any excuses.  Rather, she painfully waited for her fate to be decided.  Once the crowd dispersed and she was left alone with Christ, it was then that Christ asked her, "Where are those thine accusers?"  As the woman searched the room and realized that the ones who dragged her to the feet of Christ were no longer near, she responded with "No man, Lord."  Then Christ lovingly said "Go, and sin no more."  For me, this woman helps the Atonement come to life.  Rather than being stoned to death, Christ spiritually was stoned for her.  Only Christ could forgive her so freely, for the price would be paid by Him when he would suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane.  And because Christ loves her and loves us all, she was forgiven and we can be, as well.

And this week is Transfer week.  I have NO IDEA what's gonna happen.  It could easily go either way.  I've been in Taranaki now for 4ish months and I might stay a little longer or I could be going to a new area.  I honestly have never been so uncertain of what would happen for transfers before.  Usually I have a little idea of what might happen, but this time I'm clueless.  We find out tomorrow, so I'll be sure to let you guys know next week what happened.  Whatever happens, it was meant to be.

December 1st is this week!?!? Crazy right!?!? But that also means that light the world starts!!! :D It's a video advent calendar on 25 ways you can be more like Christ.  Each day there's a little challenge of what you can do and it's super fun and super cool!!  I'll be doing as much as I can as a missionary, but I recommend you all do it too :D This Christmas season let's all try and be little more like Christ. (https://www.mormon.org.nz/?cid=HP_FR_24-11-2017_dMIS_fMORG_xLIDyL1-A_)

I love and miss you all thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers.  Know that I'm grateful to have all of you in my life.  Have a great week!!

Sister Mandy Welker
This email was sent by Sister Welker on November 20th.  We received it on November 19th.

Week 67: Zone Conference and Cards in our Hands

So there were two highlights this week.  One of them was Zone Conference.

We got to do another road trip!! One of these days I could probably drive there with my eyes closed, but that would be a bad idea haha.  I've just drove to Hamilton heaps and know how to get there.

We usually get to stay the night with Visitor Center Sisters, but because we had even more missionaries at this Zone Conference, I got to stay the night with Sister Garbutt, my Tahitian companion that I served with in South Auckland!! It was amazing to see how far she had come and to be able to remember the good times we've had together.

President Cummings talked all about Repentance being a joyful thing and referenced a talk by Steven W. Owens (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/repentance-is-always-positive?lang=eng). It's a good talk.  I recommend it.  Then Sister Cummings talked about how we all carry luggage around, and we don't know what's in other people's luggage.  But no matter how hard life gets, we need to keep carrying that luggage, cause when this life is over, God will ask us to show Him what we've carried in our luggage during this life, both the good and the bad.

Then the best miracle was Saturday night.  We went to go visit one of our less-active sisters who I'll call Maggie.  She's absolutely adorable and is always saying "Food is bae!!" ;) I love it, and I think it's awesome!! Maggie and her family all came to church a couple weeks ago, but we hadn't seen her since then.  We were wondering why we hadn't seen her and every time we went to go visit, we were always given another excuse.  We were about to give up on her, but I'm glad we didn't.  When we went to go visit Saturday night, we were invited in.  We played a fun game that my companion and I improvised.  It was kinda like the game called Head Bands/heads up if any of you know how to play that game.  Basically, you put a piece of paper on your forehead and try and guess what's on it.  1st one to guess it right, wins!!  So we played our fun game and at the end we shared a quote.  I found the quote clear back when I was in South Auckland for an exchange.  It was an Ensign article that compares life to a card game and the quote goes like this:

"So many times, we as young adults find ourselves lamenting the hand we have been dealt with in life.  We wish we had received the marriage cards, the children cards, the good-health cards, or the successful cards in the first round.  It can be so easy to compare our cards with those of our friends and acquaintances -- especially when it seems that they always hold the winning cards and we can't seem to get out of the negative!  And yet, so often we fail to see the good in the cards we are already holding in our hands.  And we forget that no matter what our cards are -- the experiences and opportunities we are given in life -- we can still have a good attitude about them.

"So what then, do you do with the not-so-great hand at hand? The first step is to take a good hard look at what you have in your hands.  Take a stock of all the good in your life and all the positive cards you (metaphorically) hold.  Being grateful for what we do have will help us overcome the pain and bitterness we are prone to feel for what we don't have.  President Uchtdorf also said, "Those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding." ~ Mindy Anne Selu, "Making the Most of What We Have," Ensign, Feb 2017, 22. (https://www.lds.org/ensign/2017/02/young-adults/making-the-most-of-what-we-have?lang=eng)

So in the end we found her concern and she told us she wants to come back to church!!

Since Thanksgiving is this week, take some time to find things your grateful for.  Look at the cards you have in your hand, and don't dream of the cards you don't have.  I'm grateful for my family and the love and support they give me.  I'm grateful for my Savior.  And I'm grateful I can spend 18 months telling others about Christ.  

Thanks again for all your love and support and have a Happy Thanksgiving!! :D

Sister Mandy Welker
This email was sent by Sister Welker on November 13th.  We received it on November 12th.

Week 66: Rescued and the Happiness Challenge

So much happened!!

We finally got a branch mission leader called!! It's gonna help to lighten the work so much and I'm really excited!!

We had a new branch president called since our current branch president is moving to Palmerston North, but will be taking a detour of Texas, Hawaii, and Utah 1st. We're going to miss them heaps!!

We had a lot of members show up to Rescue visits on Wednesday night!! We were able to visit with every one we had planned and even arranged for them to have rides to church!! :D

We had an awesome visit with a member family and we were able to teach them about Agency.  It was a good lesson and we tied it in with how Happiness is a choice.  Which reminds me, I'm doing a 100 days of Happiness Challenge and recommend you do it too.  What you do, is you post/text/write down one thing each day that makes you happy for 100 days!! So far I'm on day 4!  It's been really fun to keep track of things that make me happy and 100 reasons to be happy!! :D

We have Zone Conference coming up this week so we get to do another road trip!! And that's probably the highlight for this up coming week.

Thanks again for all your love and support.  Hope you find 100 reasons to be happy in 100 days and celebrate the little things in life.

And I just wanted to tell my mom Happy Birthday!! Thanks Mom for being such a support in my life and loving me for the way I am.  Know that you mean the world to me and I hope you have a very happy birthday!!

Sister Mandy Welker

We woke up early this morning to go for a hike in time to watch the sunrise!! It was beautiful!!

Pic with Sister Bashaw and Mount Taranaki

Last weeks PDAY when we hiked Dawson Falls.
It's a waterfall right by the Mountain.

Picture with all the Sisters

And I found a Palm Tree that is as tall as me!! :D
This email was sent by Sister Welker on November 13th.  We received it on November 12th.  It is an account from one week ago (November 6th).

Week 65: Closed & Fireside 

My deepest apologies for not emailing last week. :(  I was in the middle of writing my weekly email when we were kicked off our computer.  The library closed and the computers were programmed to shut down when the library closed.  The email I prepared wasn't even saved as a draft, so I'll have to do my best to summarize as best as I can.

The highlight of last week was definitely our video fireside.  We came up with our fireside originally about a month ago, but it was placed on the back burner since we were focused on our baptism instead.  We had spent most of that week preparing for the fireside.  The theme of the fireside was, He Lives.  We had three speakers and asked each speaker to share their testimony on HOW they know their Redeemer lives.  I think all of us know that our Redeemer lives, but we wanted to know HOW they know that he lives.  In between each speaker we watched videos all focused on the Savior.  We made hand-made invitations and spent a good time coloring them. :D And we also designed a beautiful program to go with it as well.  We had an amazing turn out and even had 4 visitors attend.  So in our eyes in was definitely a success!!

Video 3-  (sorry can't find the link right now)


I loved the fireside so much I'm tempted to suggest the idea to my home ward.

Sister Mandy Welker
This email was sent by Sister Welker on October 30th.  We received it on October 29th.

Week 64: Soap, Service, and Hamilton

This week for PDAY my companion and I carved soap!! :D Yes, I know that I'm a child but it was soo much fun!! The last time I carved soap was with my brother Brandon back home.  It was pretty awesome!! This time I carved a flip flop and my companion carved a T-rex. :D

The following day, we also got to do a service project.  It's been forever since we've done service and I've forgotten how fun it can be.  It's not every day when missionaries can wear jeans and play in the dirt, haha.  Hopefully, their garden looks better than how it started. 

Then, we also had another road trip to Hamilton!!! And this time I didn't have to drive.  I forget how pretty the drive is since I'm usually focused on the road in front of me, but when you take the time to slow down and enjoy the view, it can be an amazing experience!!  Plus it was almost sunny the whole drive up.  It wasn't until we switched drivers after our dinner stop that it started to rain, so of course it starts raining when I'm driving, haha ;).  Just my luck.

We got to stay the night with Elder and Sister Pierce.  They're a senior couple responsible for the cars and bikes in our mission.  Just as a side note, staying with senior couples is way more fun than staying with other sisters!!  It was the 1st time I had the chance to actually get to know the Pierces.  As missionaries, you don't really have the opportunity to socialize/visit with senior couples very often, unless you help work in the office.

By the time we got to their flat it was around 8:30 pm.  I imagined that they would be tired and want to get to bed as soon as possible, but instead they had prepared a dinner for us and talked with us for about an hour longer!!  They are just the cutest!!  And they've had amazing life experiences.  I didn't realize what amazing senior couples we were working with until that point.

The meeting was great!!  And the drive home was pretty great as well. :D

We have a fireside coming up this Sunday.  It's one the missionaries put together and I'm SO EXCITED FOR IT!!!  Like I was really disappointed when I realized we still had a week until Sunday again.  So I'll be sure to tell you all about the fireside next week.

Thanks again for all your love and prayers hope you all have a good week.

Sister Mandy Welker

Crazy Sister Welker and her companion!


This email was sent by Sister Welker on October 23rd.  We received it on October 22nd.

Week 63: Transfers (Should I stay or Go?)

I'M STAYING!!! I'll be in Taranaki for 6 more weeks!! We don't think I'll stay any longer, but I'm excited for 6 more weeks!!

We had a sick day this week so one day this week we stayed at the flat all day long!! And let's just say I'm not a home body!! I can't be inside for very long.  But we needed it and now we're back on track!!

Nothing super exciting has happened this week, but the work is progressing!! Slowly, but it's progressing!!! We've been working heaps with members and let's just say I LOVE the New Plymouth Branch.  I even got to go to young womans this week!! So that was pretty fun!! And we had a member family take us to an American 50's themed restaurant.  It was yum and really fun, but America does America pretty well haha.

We have a meeting up in Hamilton this week so we have another road trip!!! Wa-whoo!! So that will be fun and my COMPANION CAN DRIVE US THERE!! Yes she passed her test......barely.  ;)

Hope you all have a good week!! Love you heaps and keep being awesome. 

Sister Mandy Welker

 I found a MYSTERY MACHINE!! :D

Mount Taranaki again

Sunday, October 22, 2017

This email was sent by Sister Welker on October 16th.  We received it on October 15th.

Week 62?  Cold Water, and Bike Beside the Sea

Sorry if my last weekly email didn't send.  I do remember writing one, and I thought I sent it, but I can't find it anywhere in my email.  Must have disappeared in space :(

Regardless life is great!! We had another baptism this week!! I'll call her Macy for now.  Macy was close friends with the YSA here in the New Plymouth Branch.  She had attended a number of YSA activities.  At one point she went to the temple with the rest of the YSA and felt the spirit there.  The spirit was so strong that she turned to her friends and asked how she could join the church.  Sixish weeks later, we've taught her all the lessons and she was baptized earlier this week!!  The only sad part is that the heater to our font is broken, so my companion and I attempted to heat up the font by hooking a hose up to a sink and turning the hot water on and then boiling water and dumping it into the font.  We didn't test the water before she went into the font but she came up shivering.  So she got baptized in cold water. :(  At least we tried to warm it up for her.

My companion can now start driving!!?!?  Scary!!  I'm the one that needs to coach her how to drive on the other side of the road.  Luckily, she's a natural and there's not much I have to worry about.  I've teased her that the only way I'll let her pass, is if she can drive to the chapel by herself, and if she remembers to lock the car haha.  She'll be taking her test this week.

For PDAY today we decided to bike to emailing.  There's a walkway here in town that's called the coastal walkway, and it's basically this long sidewalk that is right along the beach side so you get to bike or walk and watch the waves at the same time.  It's amazing!!  I'll probably be super sore tomorrow though.  I hardly ever bike as a missionary.  I'm lazy and just use the car, haha. 

We'll that's about if for this week.  And sorry again that my last email disappeared somewhere. :(

Thanks again for all your love and support!! You all mean the world to me.

Sister Mandy Welker

"One small act from the heart really is better than a thousand grand intentions." ~ Anonymous, "Family First," 1992, 21. 
Biking along the Coastal Walkway.


We finally saw Mount Taranaki!! Haven't seen it in like over a week

White Bridge!! Don't judge our hair--it was super windy!!

Another Baptism!! :D

Our heater for the baptismal font is broken so we boiled pitchers of water and dumped them in all morning!!
This email was supposedly sent by Sister Welker on October 9th.  We never received it!

Week 61:  Lost in Space

For an explanation on this email, see next week's!

Found a recipe for Pani Popo (Samoan Coconut Rolls).  Sister Welker's Week 60 post talks about her having these and how much she loves Samoan food.  Enjoy!


Pani Popo (Samoan Coconut Rolls)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins
Pani Popo is a Samoan sweet roll baked in a delicious coconut sauce. One of my favorite Pacific-Island dishes from my bakery days in Hawaii.

Ingredients (with Amazon Links)
  • 12-20 frozen dinner rolls depending on size (see note above for homemade rolls)
  • 1 10 oz. can coconut milk
  • 1 c. sugar

Instructions
  1. Coat a 9x13 glass baking dish with cooking spray and arrange rolls evenly to thaw (if doing homemade rolls, roll dough into golf-ball size balls and arrange the same way).
  2. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray (to keep dough from sticking to the plastic wrap).
  3. Allow to rise until doubled in size.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350-degrees.
  5. In a bowl, combine coconut milk and sugar and whisk until sugar is dissolved.
  6. Pour about 2/3 of the coconut mixture over the rolls and bake for 20-30 minutes (or according to package/dough recipe instructions) or until golden brown and dough is baked through.
  7. Remove from oven and pour remaining coconut mixture evenly over the top of the rolls.
  8. The rolls should be sticky and gooey on the bottom (read notes above). Can be served upside down or right-side up.


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

Week 60: Locked Out, Zone Conference, and Woman Conference

So much to write and not enough time!!

This last Monday we hung out with the Harawa and the Waitera sisters.  We drove to Harawa and had bonnie-po-po (I think that's what it's called but I don't think I spelled it right).  I just looked it up.  It is called Pani Popo.  It's basically home made rolls bathed in coconut cream!! It's AMAZING!! Got to love Samoan food!!

Then later that day we get a phone call from the Harawa sisters saying how they couldn't find their house keys.  When they called us it was 9:30PM, and they live an hour away!!  So by the time they got to our flat and we went to bed it was close to 11:45PM!!  It's probably the one and only time a missionary would ever go to bed that late.

The following morning after we had a big breakfast, the Harawa sisters returned back to their flat.  They walked straight into their house and found the keys on the kitchen table.  So they had left the flat unlocked all night.  Luckily, nothing was damaged or stolen but we couldn't help but laugh and think that would totally be something Sister Welker would end up doing, haha.

We also had Zone Conference this week.  So we got to drive up to Hamilton.  For once the weather was actually sunny and we had an amazing view the whole way up!!

The trainings at Zone Conference were amazing!!  President Cummings trained on Agency, the AP's trained on the Book of Mormon, and Sister Cummings prepared a white handbook training on obedience with an intense game to go with it.  It was so much fun and very uplifting!!

The day after we came home from Hamilton, we drove to Stratford to watch the General Women's session of conference.  It was amazing!!  All four speakers were really inspired.  And I, like my mom, loved the speaker who talked about the 80 human chain that helped to save some people lost in a current off the shore.  I'm sad to hear of the lose of Elder Hales.  I know that he was a man of God and that his influence will be missed, but I'm excited to see who will take his place.

Thanks again for all your love and support!! Hope you have a great week!!

Sister Mandy Welker
This email was sent by Sister Welker on September 25th.  We received it on September 24th.

Week 59: Burning Love, Exchanges, and District Conference

We didn't receive a weekly email on September 17th from Sister Welker.  So I thought I would attach a couple of pictures to fill in the gap.

Week 58:
The area Sister Welker is in on the North Island

Mount Taranaki
(looks like some of the pictures Sister Welker has taken!)

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