Sunday, January 22, 2017

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

Week 21: Sister Slumber Party, Christmas on the Beach, New Year with New Companion

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!  It has been such a great week for me, including being able to Skype my family for Christmas (best Christmas present ever!!).

Christmas morning my companion Sister Lewis pounced on both Sister Reynolds and I at about 5AM to open Christmas presents.  Sister Reynolds had planned to wake me up before Sister Lewis so we could pounce on her 1st, but sadly that didn't work.  After opening presents, Sister Reynolds made us french toast for breakfast (my favorite!!) then we got ready for church.  Church was only an hour for both wards so they could spend the remainder of the day with family, but both sacrament meetings were amazing!! We had special musical numbers and talks centered around Jesus Christ.  You can't get any better than that!!  Afterwards we went to the Baptist church to help with a Christmas feed for those in need.  It was such an amazing turn out.  About 150 attended.  I took pictures but it's on my other SD card at the flat, so I'll have to attach them next time.  Then we got to spend the night with Sister Loefke and Sister Toraipi. They stayed the night since Sister Loefke needed to catch the bus the next day to go home to her family. So we had a super slumber party of 5 sisters!!  Sister Loefke is one of the best missionaries I know.  If I could become a missionary like Sister Loefke, I'd be the happiest person!!

The next day was boxing day!! Which is considered to be New Zealand's Black Friday.  I'm not sure who decided to have all the deals be the day after Christmas, but guess it all works out.  That was the day that I also got to Skype my family!! I was so happy to be able to hear their voices and see their faces.  The time flew by!!  Even though the time was short, I'm grateful I had the chance to talk to them.

Thursday was transfers!!  I spent most of the day helping sisters get to and from the bus stop.  Then at 8PM I got to meet my new companion!!  Her name is Sister Jabeque.  She's from the Philippines and comes from a family of 5--one older sister, one younger sister and both her parents.  She's super cute!!  I tried to do a little bit of decorating in the flat as a Welcome gift.  She spent 44 days serving in the Philippines waiting for her VISA to come to New Zealand.  Her favorite color is yellow and she loves to sing just like my companion, Sister Johnson.  :) She's such an amazing missionary.  She has super powerful testimonies, is super obedient, and is really good at the BINGO game haha.  I can't wait to see what kind of adventures we'll have together.

I wanted to take time to mention Elder Latu.  For those of you who aren't aware, Elder Latu was serving a mission in South Africa.  He recently got in a car accident and has passed away.  The other three missionaries that were in the car with him are in critical condition.  He's from here in Auckland, New Zealand.  He's an only child and his mom is completely heart broken.  I was lucky enough to spend some time with Elder Latu in the MTC.  He was actually in my District at the MTC.  He was such a fun guy, who always had a smile on his face and just wanted to make others laugh.  He made a great missionary, and had such a unique way with the spirit.  He's going to be terribly missed.  Please keep Elder Latu's family in your prayers this week.  I know that the plan of salvation is real and that there is a life after death.  I know that I'll be able to see my family that has passed away again.  Elder Latu is doing great missionary work in the Spirit World, and I know that this gospel is true.

I love and miss you all so much!! I hope you all have a good holiday season, and that you take some time to be with the ones you love.  Remember the reason for the season and how much Christ has blessed each and every one of us.  Thanks for all your love and support!! Hope you all have a good week and a Happy New Year!!

Sister Welker

This post was written by Nina Welker about Sister Welker's phone call on Christmas Day!

Week 20: The Island Christmas

There was no weekly email from Sister Welker this week.  She sent a quick note letting us know when she would be calling.  We waited in anticipation for the time to come.  There was lots of switching up in her plans, so it made it extra interesting for us.  She finally tried calling through at about 6 pm Christmas Day!

She looked great and happy.  On the first attempt, we could see and hear her, but she couldn't see us.  We hung up and called back, and then she was able to see and hear us as well.  The connection wasn't fabulous, so she would freeze occasionally.  It was also hard to get used to the delay in the connection.  We had to comment, and then wait for a response, but it was all worth it!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

This email was sent by Sister Welker on December 19th.  We received it on December 18th.

Week 19: Mount Christmas Dinner, Service Saturday, and Christmas Nativity

What a week!! I'll be sad when I'll no longer be in a trio, but I know that the Lord has great things in store for both Sister Lewis and Sister Reynolds.

So many fun adventures happened this last week.  If I tried to write them all down, I'd have a novel ready to be published hahah.  One of my favorite highlights definitely had to be the Mount Christmas Dinner.  It was a great turn out.  They had amazing decorations set up, and live band, and super yummy food, and one of our investigators and his whole family showed up!! :D

I'm sad to announce that our family of 5 that we just baptized is moving.  Half of them are going to Hamilton, NZ and the other half is going to Auzi (Austrailia).  So we had to say good-bye to them this week.  Three of the family members are sticking around and we'll still visit them, but everyone else decided to move.  Sad Day.  :(

For those of you who don't know me well, I'm not much of an actress, but I had been asked by the Primary teacher if I could play the angel for the Primary Nativity Pageant.  We had a great cast!! The Elders were the wise men, and I was an angel.  Luckily, we didn't have to do too much acting other than walking in when it was our time to be on stage and sitting down when we were done.  However, I didn't realize that we didn't need to speak, and I echoed the words of the narrator.   (For years in our home ward, Sister Heidi Christensen put on a nativity pageant with all the primary children.  She fed the kids their lines, when it was their time to speak!  So that is all that Sister Welker would have known.)  When the narrator said "For Behold", I echoed "for behold", "I bring you great tidings", "I bring you great tidings".  It wasn't till all the primary kids started laughing at me, that I realized that I wasn't suppose to recite my lines hahaha.

Saturday was another service packed day.  We started the day with helping to fill the baptismal font for a primary girl that was getting baptized.  Then we helped clean a house for a less active in Te Puke, and afterwards we feed the homeless.  I just have to say that the Lord is really looking after his missionaries.  While we were helping to clean the house at the less active member's house, there was an accident.  Sister Lewis was helping to vacuum the spider webs from off the ceiling by climbing up a ladder with the vacuum strapped to her back.  I was underneath the ladder trying to stabilize it for Sister Lewis so she wouldn't fall (bad idea).  While she was on the ladder it slipped from underneath her and she fell while holding on to the ladder, and it fell directly on top of me.  In that moment everything seamed to slow down, as if life was being played in slow motion.  I could see the ladder falling towards me and somehow I was able to turn around and land on the floor crawled up in a ball with my back towards the ceiling.  If I would have fallen strait back or on my side when the ladder landed on top of me I could have cracked my ribs, broken a bone, gotten a concussion--so many things could have gone wrong.  Once they got the ladder off of me, I was able to stand up and move on like nothing happened.  I got away with only a couple of bruises and a sore back.  The Lord was really looking after me and all his missionaries.  I'm so happy that both Sister Lewis and I are alright. 

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, and that you take some time to remember the Savior.  Spend time with those you love and let them know how much they really mean to you.  Thanks for all you do for me and thanks for all the love and prayers.  You all mean so much to me!!

Have a great week and Have a Merry Christmas!!

Sister Mandy Welker

This email was sent by Sister Welker on December 12th.  We received it on December 11th.

Week 18: The Three Sister Nephites

It's been such a fun, busy, crazy week!!

Monday I had to say good-bye to Sister Johnson.  It was a hard good-bye.  Everyone here in New Zealand loves Sister Johnson and misses her so much!!  I loved having her as my companion.  Her bright, sun-like, singing, always happy personality will be terribly missed!!  We had so many crazy adventures, life was never boring with Sister Johnson.  I'm glad to know that she is home safe and sound.  I'm happy for her family and wish her the best of luck as she heads off to school at BYU.  She's gonna make an amazing music teacher and I'm so excited for her.  Love you so much Sister Johnson!! <3

I'm now in a trio with the Te Puke sisters,  Sister Lewis and Sister Reynolds.  They are so much fun to serve around, and they're such a great example to me.  Sister Lewis is from Southern Utah, and loves riding horses.  She is practically the only girl in her family and is definitely a daddy's girl.  She is such a cool missionary.  She's always working hard and has a talent for getting to know those we teach.  She's been out for a while and will be leaving for home in February.

Sister Reynolds also loves horses.  She's from a little town in Idaho and has a HUGE farm.  Sister Reynolds has actually already finished her schooling at BYU Idaho.  She's the second youngest of 8!!  She is also an amazing missionary.  She has a talent for being in tune with the spirit and she's also really good at talking with others.  

I only have these crazies for two more weeks so we're gonna make the most of it!!  We may or may not have some fun pranks up are sleeves.  Oh and we'd also prefer it, if you'd refer to ourselves as the 3 Sister Nephites, just saying ;).  There's been both some cool miracles and funny memories already, including finding out more of our less-actives past, and squiriting the elders with a water gun as they drove passed us.  We even went shopping and were left with only baby seater carts, so I guess you could say we're a happy trio expecting twins hahah jokes.  It's gonna be a fun couple weeks!!

Thanks so much for all the support, love and prayers.  I hope we all take time to remember the true meaning of Christmas and try our best to become more like Christ this holiday season.  I love and miss you all so much.  I'm so grateful for the chance I have to serve a mission and share Christ's gospel with New Zealand.  Hope you all have a good week and I'll email you again next week.

Sister Mandy Welker