Friday, March 31, 2017

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

Week 33: Greenie Fever, Family History, Brother Shaw, and Not so Picture Perfect

So I don't have much time left, but I have heaps to write so this will be a miracle.

Sister Garbutt got transferred to Tauranga!! So we basically switched places.  I came to Alfriston and she went to Tauranga.  She is not serving in the Mount/Welcome Bay ward, but she's serving in Whakatane.  I'm gonna really miss her, and I wish her the best.

So I'm now companions with Sister Chimedbattar, or Sister C for short.  She's from MONGOLIA!!! How cool is that!??!  Now I've had an American companion, a Filipino (from the Philippines) companion, a Tahitian companion, and a Mongolian companion. She's the 3rd Mongolian missionary to serve ever!! So I'm pretty spoiled.  She's super cute and sweet and one of the most humble individuals I've ever met.  She has a desire to follow God, and wants to be the best missionary she can. It's been funny attempting to communicate at times, as her English isn't her 1st language, so I have to attempt to use my poor acting skills, haha.  And she has been a miracle to the area and for me.  I feel like I'm a new missionary all over again, and I can start on a new chapter and have a fresh start.

I saw Brother Shaw this weekend.  He was my ward missionary leader in the Welcome Bay ward and it was funny to see him here all the way in South Auckland.  It was really good to see him and brought back some funny memories of serving in Tauranga.

I taught the Gospel Principles Class this week.  That's probably one of the most favorite things I look forward to throughout the week.  It didn't use to be something I looked forward to, but now I really enjoy teaching the class.  In the past, I usually get an idea of what I should teach a couple days before Sunday.  This week nothing.  I had no idea what to teach.  Saturday night came and I still didn't know what to teach.  I desperately asked Sister C if she had any ideas, and she told me to teach about temples/family history.  I thought about it and slept on it hoping to get a confirmation from the spirit that that was the right lesson to teach, and by morning, I still felt nothing.  Even though I was disappointed that I hadn't felt guided by the spirit, I prepared the lesson anyway.  When it was time for me to teach the class, I felt the spirit, and it was guiding me the whole time.  A lesson I didn't think would turn out well ended up putting myself and the whole class in tears.  I haven't had much experience with family history myself, but the spirit told me to tell the story about my Grandpa Vish.  I wasn't originally planning to tell his story and hadn't even thought about using it earlier, but as I was telling his story I felt the spirit so strong, and I could tell that those in the class felt it too.  Elder Stevenson said in his last Gen Con Talk that "we spend an average of 7 hours a day on technology."  7 HOURS!!!  That's like a whole day at school or work!!!  Can we not sacrifice 30 min of our time to help those that have passed do their work for salvation?  I regret not spending more time with family history prior to my mission, but when I get home, that is one of the things I really want to do!!

And real quick "God really does love me."  Long story short my SD card got a virus and all my pictures with Sister Jabeque and Sister Garbutt got destroyed!!  Even though I was heart broken, I had for some reason printed out all the photos that mattered most to me just hours before my SD card got the virus.  So even though those photos are my only copies, I'm glad the Lord was watching over me and that I even have one copy at all.

Love you heaps and I hope you all have a good week.

Sister Mandy Welker

(So sorry, there my not ever be pictures attached on my emails ever again!)
This email was sent by Sister Welker on March 20th.  We received it on March 19th.

Week 32: Baptism!!

I've never met a happier person in my life.  So when I saw the happiest person get baptized, I didn't think it was possible for her to be happier, but she was!  You could tell she was filled with indescribable joy, that is hard to explain.  She's truly happy.  Happiness that could only be found through the gospel of Jesus Christ.  She has been a blessing in my life, and I'm grateful that I had the chance to teach her the gospel.  She is what every missionary dreams of.  She'd been taught by her sister and knew the gospel already.  When we came over to teach her, it was basically review for her.  She had a burning desire to be together with her family forever, and when we told her how that's possible, she was sold.  She wanted to get baptized and if she could have, she would have gotten baptized that day!!

We spent the rest of the day at the chapel for another baptism in our area and for a ward activity with a bouncy castle included!!!! ( I may or may not have gotten inside the bouncy castle with my companion haha) It was a really cool way to celebrate having a new member added to the ward.   

Transfers are this week and sadly, we think my companion, Sister Garbutt, is getting transferred.  She's been here in Alfriston for 5 months.  We won't know where she will go till Tuesday night, but I'll be sure to let you know what the transfer news is.

Thanks again for your love and prayers.  Have the best week ever!!

Sister Welker

Oh and the picture with me in a recycle bin was when we did service at a members house hahah

This email was sent by Sister Welker on March 27th.  We received it on March 26th.  It is an account from 2 weeks ago (March 13th).

Week 31: Noah and the Rain, and Articles of Faith

I'm not quiet sure if God promised Noah that he would never flood the earth again, because man have the rains come tumbling down!! There were times I was driving with the window wipers on full speed/high and it was still blurry and hard to see clearly.  We've been told there's been parts of New Zealand with water to their hips!!  I felt bad for the missionaries without a car; even with a car, we still got drenched.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

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

Week 29: Elder Dale G. Renlund, March 18th, and Pillows in Church

Out of all the things Elder Dale G. Renlund could have told a group of 200 missionaries, he choose to tell us "Thank You."  Thursday there was a Missionary Conference with Elder Dale G. Renlund, President Cardon, and the whole Hamilton, New Zealand Mission.  It was so fun to have a mini reunion with the missionaries I served with in the MTC and in Tauranga, including my last companion Sister Jabeque!!  I should also thank Sister Cummings for attempting to be crowd control for a group of 200 teenagers.  That's not an easy job.  Mom thinks it's hard enough to watch over 3 (almost 4 teenagers).

Elder Dale G. Renlund truly is an apostle of the Lord.  From the moment he spoke you could feel the Spirit of the Lord so strongly that it would almost be impossible to sit in the same room and not feel the spirit.  He is a very classy individual with a great sense of humor.  He told of us of a friend of his that is married to someone with the same name as his wife, Ruth, and his friend told him "We both have something in common.  When our wife's are gone, we are both "Ruth-less."  ;)  I thought it was pretty funny.  Anyway, you would think that an apostle of the Lord would have prepared a GIANT speech with some way to drastically improve the missionary work in New Zealand.  However, he choose to talk about three things, with one of them being "thank you," a phrase that I feel we, as human beings, tend to forget to say.  It's amazing how much a "thank you" really means to someone, especially us, missionaries.

The second thing he mentioned was how inspired our mission calls are.  That we are meant to be serving in this mission for a reason, "and if you don't know down to the last bone that this is where you are meant to be at this time, you have the right and the privilege to know."  He also described a time when he was assigning missionaries to their mission field.  He told of us of one sister that he assigned and at first he assigned her to a mission in Europe.  Later on, he didn't feel that was quite right, so he went back and changed it to Milan, Italy.  Then he went back for a third time to that sister's mission call, and changed it again to Rome, Italy.  He finally felt good about the decision he made.  Somehow, he was able to meet the grandfather of the sister missionary he had assigned to Rome, Italy.  The grandfather described how when his granddaughter opened her call, she was immediately in tears.  As a 9 year-old this young girl went to the Provo MTC and looked at a map of the world and she pointed to Rome, Italy and told her family "That's where I'm serving my mission."  How cool is that?!?!

The third thing he told us was how President Cummings got called as a mission president. President Cummings was just living his life when he got a phone call.  From there, he meet with Elder Neil A. Anderson, and eventually he meet with Elder Uchtdorf, and was assigned to serve here in Hamilton, New Zealand.  President Cummings is very inspired and is an amazing mission President.

We have a golden investigator set for baptism on March 18th!!!!!  She's so golden!!  If she could, she'd get baptized today.  She truly has a desire to be with her family forever and to come unto Christ.  She's the one I mentioned last week and used the name of Rachel.  I love spending time in their home.  They have such an amazing love for each other and you can feel of the Spirit of God in their home.  Meeting with Rachel made me realize that it all comes down to our desires.  Our desires become our thoughts, and our thoughts become our actions.  Just like it says in 3 Nephi 13:21, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."  Desires are what determine are actions.  It's all about where are hearts are pointing.

Lastly, I have to tell you about pillows in church.  No, I wasn't sleeping in church, but I used it as an object lesson for gospel principles.  I held the pillow and walked around the class room and told everyone to punch the pillow.   Then after everyone had punched the pillow, I took out a picture that was hiding inside the pillow and showed them a picture of Christ.  I related that object lesson to the Atonement, and how Christ really did take that punch for us.  It was a really cool lesson and even the Elders were in tears by the end of the it.

I'm so grateful for all of you and your love and support.  You all mean the world to me and I'm grateful that you are a part of my life.  Keep being awesome and I'll talk to you again next week. 

Sister Mandy Welker

                       Pac Man for breakfast! :D

   Sister Welker is on the front row, 5th one from the right.
This email was sent by Sister Welker on February 27th.  We received it on February 26th.  It is her account of what happened the previous week.  She couldn't get the general email to send out to everyone last week.

Week 28: S.A.D. (single awareness day), Tracking in the Rain, and Zumba

So long story short, I have like no time left to write.  But I'll do my best to summarize.

South Auckland is great!!  It's definitely not the same as Tauranga but I still love it.  Tauranga was beautiful and touristy, with the beach near by and almost everyone was white.  In South Auckland, it's a little rough around the edges, the beach isn't in our area, and almost everyone is an Islander.  But I love them both!!  The people here are great and they are all super friendly.  I'm working on my Tongan, Samoan, Maori, and Cook Island culture differences, and also attempting (but epically failing) to learn how to speak all the languages.  

So below is a pic of what Valentines Day looks like on a mission.  Your STL heart attacks your door with quotes from the prophet.  It's probably the best Valentines Day of my life!!  My companion and I might have also gone on our own night out and got ice cream to make the day of love complete haha!! <3

We also went tracking in the rain.  Some of you might wonder--wait, I though they had a car.  We do, but we still went tracking in the rain without raincoats or an umbrella!!  It was heaps of fun!! :D The life of a missionary is pretty great!! :)

We also got to go to the Zumba class offered by the ward Wednesday night and boy was it fun!!  The ward must have thought I was this really strange white missionary from Utah, that gets really excited about Zumba haha.  It reminded me a bit of my Mom going to her exercise class with her friends in South Jordan.

But the coolest part of the week had to be when we bumped into a member (Paige (names have been changed)) that wanted us to come visit her and her sister (Rachel) after church.  Long story short, they grew up together thinking they were cousins.  It wasn't till their adulthood that they found out that they were actually sisters.  The sister that is a member (Paige) has been doing missionary work of her own and talking to her sister (Rachel) about the gospel.  After a couple minutes of getting to know the both of them better, we started teaching Rachel the Restoration.  We didn't get farther than the 1st page in the pamphlet when she was filled with tears and said "That looks like my family.  I want my family to be like that.  I want to know how I can see my family again and be with them forever."  So we stopped and switched to teaching her the Plan of Salvation and explained to her how we can one day see our families again.  If we live worthily, and follow the commandments that God has given us, including baptism, we can one day live with our families forever!!  It was such an amazing experience and such an amazing spirit filled the room.  By the end of the visit, we had a return appointment, and later that night we saw both sisters at the temple fireside.  That definitely had to be the highlight of my week.

Thanks again for all your love and support.  You all mean the world to me and I can't wait to see how much more the Lord will bless each and every single one of you.  I know that the Lord has already blessed me by placing all of you in my life.

Jesus is the Christ.  The Atonement and repentance is real!  We really can be together with our families forever!!  The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ.  In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Sister Mandy Welker

Oh and how cool there's a Riverton street in South Auckland too!!

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

Week 27: Good-bye Tauranga, Missionary Taxi, and White Island Girl

Usually we find out transfer news late on Tuesday night, but poor Elder McGregor was sick this last week and hadn't finished arranging all the transportation by Tuesday night.  So Wednesday morning I get a call from our zone leaders telling me I'm getting transferred?!!?!  Transfer news could have gone either way.  I've been in Tauranga now for 6 months and was secretly hoping to stay for one more transfer, but then again 6 months is usually the max for how long missionaries stay in one area (unless your Sister Johnson then you can stay for 8 months. :) 

So the remainder of the day I had to pack, and say good-bye to as many people as I could.  Sadly, not very many people are just hanging out at home waiting for a missionary to stop by and give their last good-byes on a Wednesday afternoon. So I didn't get to say good-bye to everyone, but I hope that they all know that I'll love and miss them all SO MUCH!!

Now I'm serving in the Alferston Ward in South Auckland.  I couldn't help but laugh when we pulled up to the bus stop since South Auckland is right by the New Zealand MTC, so I felt as though I was being transferred to the MTC haha.  After grabbing my luggage off the bus, I was handed a key and told "here you go."  Turns out I'm the only sister in my ENTIRE ZONE that has a car, so I've also been called to be the missionary taxi driver, haha.  I'm glad that I"m able to help the other sisters get to the places they need to go.

South Auckland is known for being an Islander area, which pretty much means I'm basically one of the only white girls in the area haha.  So like my family likes to call me, I'm a White Island Girl. :)

I love my new companion!  Her name is Sister Garbutt.  She's from Tahiti (so her native language is French) and she is a super big sweetheart.  She served 5 months in Tahiti waiting for her visa and has now been serving in New Zealand for the past 3 months.  My two years of high school French helps me to be able to say the basics like "Hi, how are you?", "It is 8 o'clock", and "I am a pineapple!"  My french is pretty on point if you ask me. ;)

Well that is about it for now.  I can't wait to see all the new adventures and miracles the Lord has in store for me.  Thanks again for all your love and prayers and I'll email you again next week.

Sister Mandy Welker

This email was sent by Sister Welker on February 6th.  We received it on February 5th.

Week 26: Best Week Ever!!! :D

I have so much to tell you!!

K, so Monday night we had the BIGGEST miracle.  I know I say that a lot, but I'm serious this time.  We had a less-active member come out and do missionary work with us!!!  I'll use the name Megan for now.  So Megan is a recent convert.  She was baptized in July of 2016.  For the first three months, she was soaring and loving every minute of the gospel.  Unfortunately, her life isn't easy and she's had mountains of trials since then.  Her family has bad drinking habits and often asks her to watch/babysit their youngest children in addition to watching her own son.  This makes it hard for Megan to resist her past drinking habits.  She's a single mom, and is currently working a construction job, which does not have good hours, especially for a mom of one.  She's had heaps of family pass away and has just been overwhelmed by her trials, so she's stopped coming to church.  When we visited her on Monday, Megan was completely stressed.  She told us that "she's done, she's getting baptized into a different church, the church is too much and that she doesn't want to see us again."  By this point, I was in tears and my poor companion was doing her best to hold the lesson together.  I was thinking "That's it!  We've tried so hard to help Megan and now she's done and doesn't want to come back to church.  I've failed!"  Since it sounded as though this would be the last time we would ever see Megan, we decided to share with her the message of the Atonement. We explained to her how Jesus Christ suffered in the garden of Gethsemane and died on the cross for her, and knows exactly how she feels.  Then I had the thought come to my head "invite her to come out and do missionary work with you."  Doubtful me I thought "No way! Megan is crying in my arms, she hasn't been to church in months, she's struggling with her own testimony, she won't have enough petrel.  There's no way."  Luckily, my faithful companion had the same prompting and asked Megan what she had planned for the rest of the night.  Megan started to give us excuses, but we both pleaded and told her that I had felt that same prompting.  After a couple minutes she agreed to come with us.  My mouth dropped open wide.  I was in complete shock.  Megan hurried and made her son a hot dog and we got in our car as she followed us to our investigators.  The whole way there I was praying that she wouldn't all of a sudden flip around and head back home (doubtful Sister Welker).  Megan followed us all the way there, and to our surprise our investigator, Tim (name changed), had prepared us a dinner.  So Megan was immediately blessed for agreeing to do missionary work.  By the end of the lesson, Megan was testifying that she knew this church was true.

It was the COOLEST miracle!! I'm so glad I had a chance to be a part of it, and it was a blessing to know that Megan still had a testimony of the gospel. 

We also had a Worldwide Missionary Training on Wednesday given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Elder Neil A. Anderson, and Elder David A. Bednar.  It was amazing and was all focused on going back to the basics and how the gospel of Jesus Christ is all related to each other.  It was awesome. 

We've also had a member show up to Mount Rescues!!  This is exciting, since we don't get hardly any volunteers willing to come to rescue visits in the Mount Ward.

We also had another member come out and do missionary work with us.  Lilly (name changed) was really nervous at first to come out with us, but honestly she was a natural.  She was exactly what those less-active members needed.  It's been really exciting to see Lilly get excited about the gospel.  We've been visiting her and helping her to better understand the scriptures and now the gospel is starting to come to life for her.  It's such a blessing to have her as an honorary member in our Mount Gospel Principles class.

Last thing I promise.  We had three less active members come to church yesterday.  One of the members, Tracy (name changed), has recently had her leg amputated.  We had dinner with both her and her husband (Jim) this week.  Jim (name changed) used to be a temple worker but for some reason has stopped coming to church.  They both came to church and I was so excited to see them there.  Their daughter-in-law, Bailey (name changed), also came to church.  So it was a really good day at church yesterday!!

Sorry for the super long email.  It was just a really good week and I wanted to tell you guys all about it.  I know that there is a God and I know that miracles happen every day!! This gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ is true and it changes lives.  It's exciting as missionaries to be able to be on the front row to witness God's miracles in others lives.

Thank you so much for all your love and support.  Hope you all have a good week.

Sister Mandy Welker 

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

Week 25: Return of the Trio, Back to the Basics, and Donaldson Papers

It's amazing how much can happen in a week!!

Monday was my sister's birthday!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MONI-Q!! She's now 18 years old, now an official adult!! It's pretty exciting.  For those of you who don't know my sister, she has the BIGGEST HEART!!  She cares so much about everyone and wants what's best for them.  She's one of the most determined and hard working people I know.  She has a beautiful voice and is a fun, energetic, spunky girl.  But most of all she is MY sister.  We've definitely had our ups and downs, but she's always been there for me.  I miss her so much and hope that she had the best birthday!! I love you Monique <3

Tuesday was District Meeting.  It absolutely blew my mind!! The meeting was all focused on a talk which I believe is called the Donaldson Papers.  It's a training that was given to the missionaries in the Las Vegas West Mission, and it focuses on the basics.  Us, missionaries, tend to complicate things especially when it comes to the gospel, but the gospel is actually quiet simple.  A good majority of the talk described ways on how to become a Preach My Gospel missionary.  Things that I learned before in the MTC, but have forgotten over the last six months.  By the time my companion and I finished reading the talk on our own time, I was in tears.  I knew that there were changes I had to make and from that time on, I've become a different missionary.  I highly recommend the talk for anyone who is currently serving a mission.

Wednesday, one of the Te Puke sisters wasn't feeling great.  So my companion Sister Jabeque stayed with Sister Ofa, while Sister Reynolds and I covered both Te Puke and Welcome Bay/Mount for the day.  It was like we were back to the trio days!! :) Somehow their appointments fit in PERFECTLY with our appointments.  It was as if it was meant to happen.  I enjoyed being able to spend the day with Sister Reynolds.  She's truly an inspiration to me and makes me want to be a better missionary.  Good thing she lives in Idaho, so I can easily find her after my mission. 

Thursday, we went on exchanges with the Greerton Sisters.  So I felt as though I didn't see my companion for two days!! It was a good exchange though.  Sister Ah You is so cute and really cares about those she teaches.  She has a genuine interest in helping the people of New Zealand return to Christ.  While we were on exchanges, we taught a lesson to one of our less-active members in the Mount Ward.  Sister Evans (name changed) hasn't been to church in ages!!  They're a great family, but they just don't come to church.  We decided we would teach Sister Evans about prayer.  It was a very simple lesson, yet it was one of the most powerful lessons I had given in a while.  We reviewed the three steps to pray and then asked her if Christ was sitting right here, what would she ask him.  I wondered what I would ask Christ if He was really sitting beside me.  It reminds me of a primary song called "If the Savior Stood Beside Me."  With prayer, we can ask our Heavenly Father anything we want.  Anything from 'Why is the sky blue?' to 'Is the Book of Mormon true?'

I can promise you that God really does answer our prayers and that he knows exactly what you're going through.  He wants to bless us--he's just waiting for us to ask.  "I am mindful of you always in my prayers, continually praying unto God the Father in the name of his Holy Child, Jesus, that he, through his infinite goodness and grace, will keep you though the endurance of faith on his name to the end" Moroni 8:3.

Thanks for all the love and support.  I miss you guys all so much!! Thanks for always being there for me when I needed you.  Have a great week.

Sister Mandy Welker