My Finale

My welcome home!

My welcome home!

It has been just over a week now that I completed my full-time missionary service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. After serving my Savior in Tucson, Arizona for 18 months, it was bittersweet to return to a new home in Anchorage, Alaska. I was torn between feeling excited to see my family again and to move on to a new chapter in my life–yet nervous for change and longing to be with the people I had loved and served. As I’ve reflected on the concluding days and hours of my full-time service, I feel that my story wouldn’t be complete without sharing a few of the beautiful experiences that I had.

To begin, Heavenly Father blessed me with one of the most astounding tender mercies in the last week of my mission that I had ever seen. I love seeing mini miracles. Mini miracles aren’t mini! They are the “small and simple things” that add up to create–well, big miracles. That week I was able to see a “great [thing] brought to pass,” a big miracle, that began with simple things.

It began about a month ago when Hermana Budge and I ate lunch with Karen Solis from the El Dorado branch. We were sitting down outside of the Subway right off of Broadway and Kolb, preparing a copy of the Book of Mormon for her boyfriend with our testimonies and favorite scriptures when a man came up to us and asked if he and his wife could sit next to us. We, of course, consented.

When that man’s wife came and joined us, I felt prompted to talk to her. It was easy to begin–she was a sweet little hispanic woman and I could tell that Spanish was her first language. I mentioned to her that the three of us sitting at that table also spoke Spanish. Well, that just made her day and we struck up a lively conversation.

Her name is Nery. She is from Panama and is one of the most compassionate, energetic, loving, and faithful people that I have ever met. It was easy to love her! As we were talking, and as Nery explained to us how she had tried to live her life as a faithful christian, I felt the spirit prompt me to share with her my unique testimony of the Book of Mormon. So I did! I was surprised when, immediately afterwards, she demanded that we show her the book.

Hermana Budge and I introduced her to Hermana Hubert and Hermana Hurst a few days later and then thought nothing of it. However, three weeks later, they called us and asked if we would like to attend her baptism.

Nery's baptism

Nery’s baptism

What?!? We were overjoyed! Nery’s baptism took place on the last Saturday of my mission. I can’t even begin to describe the joy it was to see her make that special covenant with her Heavenly Father. In the testimony that she gave after being baptized, she explained that she had been searching and searching her entire life for Christ’s true church–and she found it at “subway sandwich.” She said that she knew the Lord had put those sister missionaries in her path to talk to her about the Book of Mormon.

How amazing is that? Heavenly Father is wonderful. I personally feel that He blessed me to see these fruits of a small effort at the very end of my mission as a way to calm my fears that I hadn’t done enough and that I hadn’t become the person He wanted me to be during that time. It was, effectively, for me His way of saying, “well done, thou good and faithful servant.” It all began with simple things–having a desire to serve God, studying diligently and consistently to obtain a personal testimony, and sharing it.

What’s more, many of the missionaries and members that I had come to love so deeply also attended the baptism. I was reunited with several of my old companions–Hermana Martin, Hermana Gregory, and Hermana Hubert–the good missionaries of the South Zone, and the special people of El Dorado!! I had was amazed that the Lord would pour out so many blessings on me and fill my heart with so much love.

Hermana Martin, Hermano Medina, and Hermano Minch at Nery's baptism.

Hermana Martin, Hermano Medina, and Hermano Minch at Nery’s baptism.

That following Tuesday, the other departing missionaries and I were able to go to the Gilbert, Arizona temple with the Passeys. I love that temple!! It was a beautiful experience that I will always cherish. I’m grateful for the blessing we have to go up unto the house of the Lord and receive instruction from on high.

Gilbert Temple Elder Mora, Elder Roney, Elder Harper, Elder Gosper, Hermana Lundquist, me, Hermana Blackford, Hermana Hurst

Gilbert Temple
Elder Mora, Elder Roney, Elder Harper, Elder Gosper, Hermana Lundquist, me, Hermana Blackford, Hermana Hurst

My mission created the perfect environment for me to experiment the power of Christ’s atonement. I experienced firsthand the power of prayer and the power of desire; I came to understand and relish the doctrines of the gospel; I realized what potential I have as a daughter of God and that I can bring about much good in my life and in the lives of others. I learned how to become a profitable servant and to repent of my sins. I came to know my Savior.

I love the President and Sister Passey!

I love the President and Sister Passey!

But I’m not done yet! Those were only the training grounds for the rest of my life. I remember talking with Hermana Larese from El Dorado; she made the decision when she finished her mission to always be a missionary–and she is! She is an amazing example of always sharing her testimony and love for the Savior. I wanted to do the same.

That desire was put to the test on Wednesday during my final hours as a missionary. I had three legs of a flight to go on–one from Tucson to Salt Lake, Salt Lake to Seattle, and Seattle to Anchorage. I wrote earlier about this experience to a good friend of mine. In my letter to her, I said:

“Hermana, Heavenly Father is amazing! He blessed me with SO many people to talk to on the way home. I talked with a woman named Kim on the first plane who had a ton of connections to Alaska. She lives in Deming, New Mexico (in the mission!). I gave her my copy of the Book of Mormon and she really wants to read it. Then I was able to talk with a different guy named Andrew on the next plane–and he was a really devout christian. He ended up downloading the Book of Mormon and Gospel Library on his phone. Then, during my layover in Seattle, a really nice couple (members) bought me lunch and we chatted for a while. That was a blessing because I was technically on my own at that point–everyone else had completed their flight. Then, when I went to wait for my next flight, I sat down in the only available seats and found myself sitting next to two more members of the church! One was a fairly young woman with three little kids that became my best buds, and the other was a recently returned missionary. As we were talking, a girl came up and asked if she could sit by me. Another miracle–I had really wanted to find someone that spoke spanish on my journey home, and she spoke spanish, and she’s not even hispanic!! She isn’t a member and is working for the same company in Alaska that I’ll be working for. We talked for a while; she says she’s not interested in converting right now, but she has another friend that just got home from his mission. We’re friends on facebook now, so we’ll see what happens. 🙂

Photo taken by Kim in the Salt Lake airport. Love these great missionaries!

Photo taken by Kim in the Salt Lake airport. Love these great missionaries!

Ok. So during that time, that return missionary left to buy something to eat. The girl I had been talking with left, and another family came to sit by me. It was a man, a woman, and their daughter. He turned out to be a Catholic publisher and we struck up a pretty interesting conversation. He was trying to purge the US of false religion and told me that I would be damned unless I joined the Catholic church (the return missionary came back at this point and sat on the other side of him and listened). He claimed that one of the things wrong with our church was that we don’t baptize. Well, I told him the news that we did and that we did it exactly as Christ did. He claimed that it couldn’t possibly be valid–so I showed him the exact wording from the white handbook and that really humbled him. He admitted that that would be a correct baptism… but it wouldn’t be valid because we don’t have the proper priesthood authority! At that point, a man walking by came close to us and remarked that he should just read the Book of Mormon. Then he walked away. The conversation continued and this other return missionary got involved as well. Eventually, as we had to get on the plane, I just bore my testimony the best I could of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith.

What’s interesting is that his daughter was watching me with these big brown eyes the whole time. I felt like I should give her the other copy of the Book of Mormon that I had, and she accepted it so gratefully! She seemed intrigued and sincere, and her parents didn’t protest. We finished up our conversation and got on the plane.

Then I got to talk with this other guy named Zeke on the plane! Long story short, missionaries are going over to his house to give him a copy of the Book of Mormon. He was really interested, too!

This whole experience was so satisfying because I felt like Heavenly Father really did trust me enough to put people in my path, even up to the very last hours of my being a full-time missionary, to talk to. It just felt beautiful, and it was really special to be able to share that with my family as soon as I saw them.”

In the airport. :)

In the airport. 🙂

Well, this post is starting to get a lot longer than I planned. I could just go on forever about the experiences that I’ve had! I just KNOW now that this is true. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us everything we need to know to be happy in this life and to create eternal families. I love my Savior and I’m thankful for His perfect love for me. I know that He loves you and has a plan for you. If you seek Him, you will be guided to know what that plan is. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

My welcome home!

My welcome home!

iiiiFAMILIA!!!!

iiiFAMILIA!!!

You have no idea how much I’ve looked forward to writing this email all week long–I’ve just had one of the most enjoyable weeks of my mission. And I’m excited to tell you all about it!
First of all, it is a little odd that this is going to be the last email that I ever write as a missionary here in the Arizona Tucson Mission. I hope to make it the very best one I’ve ever written. 🙂 As you’re probably wondering, right now I’m feeling all sorts of emotions: I’m sad because my time as a full-time missionary is concluding; I’m happy because I get to see my family again and talk to all of my good friends; I’m nervous about going back to the real world again and having to deal with computers and phones and … technology??; and let’s add that I’m nervous for school and having to figure out what to do with the rest of my life; but overall, I’m just happy, at peace, and content. I’m hopeful for the future and I know that Heavenly Father will direct my paths as I trust and acknowledge Him (Prov. 3:5-6). I’m excited for the adventure to come!
Alright, so let’s go on to miracles now. There were so many miracles this week! Here’s one that I wrote to President Passey in Spanish:
Un milagro entre muchos esta semana es el milagro de Paolo. La Hermana Budge y yo tuvimos una cita en el instituto con la Arminda a las 10am, e ibamos a almorzar alli a las 12. Quisimos usar nuestro tiempo eficazmente, entonces en nuestra sesion de planeamiento por la semana hicimos una cita con el Senor a las 11. Quisimos ir al campus y encontrar un investigador soltero quien vive por el lado este de Tucson y quien iria con nosotras al almuerzo. iLo encontramos! Hablamos con varias personas mas o menos interesados, y caminabamos a encontrar alguien mas. Al pasar un muchacho, me senti impresionada ir y hablar consigo. Mas temprano esa manana, habia estudiado la ley de castidad en preparacion por la leccion con la Arminda y hube recibido una impresion acerca de nuestra posicion en la iglesia hacia el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo en cuanto a como explicarlo. Lo interestante es, entre 30 segundos de hablar con ese muchacho, nos pidio nuestra posicion en same-sex marriage. iSupe exactamente que decir! La Hermana Budge tambien participio muy bien en ese contacto. Hablamos consigo por casi 20 minutos concerniente a la restauracion del evangelio. Nos pedia muchas preguntas, y el espiritu guio nuestra conversacion perfectamente. En el fin, le invitamos al almuerzo con nosotros. Nos dijo que no tuvo nada mas que hacer por la proxima hora, y ademas, ino hubo comido! Entonces vino con nosotros. Descubrimos que vive por Pima y Swan – los limites de nuestro area. Conocio a algunos miembros alli y tuvo un buen tiempo. Tuvimos una leccion consigo despues para terminar hablando del Libro de Mormon, y encontramos que vive por el lado oeste de Swan, entonces esta en el area de los elderes Teichert y Alphin. iPero me encanto ver este milagro! Yo habia querido tener una experiencia como los elderes Moreno y Christensen cuando encontraron al German antes del bautismo. 🙂 Me hizo sonreir todo el dia; y creo que fue muy bien para la Hermana Budge ver que podemos mostrar fe asi.
And now here’s another. Hermana Budge and I have been working hard to find new people to teach–and it has honestly been really difficult! Knocking doors doesn’t work here in YSA, and since the ASU campus isn’t in our area, we really have to work through our members and pray fervently for referrals.
This week, we were just going about our business when we got a referral out of the blue from Sisters Barton and Dominguez. They’d been teaching a young man named Tyler for the past few weeks–and he’d been attending one of their wards, the Corona ward, for a few months with his girlfriend, Jessica. He had decided that he wanted to come to the YSA ward and be baptized. What?!?! That was a miracle that just fell out of the sky. He and Jessica came to church yesterday. They are two of the sweetest people I have ever met! We’re going to teach them officially tonight. Our ward members are so excited to have him–they just welcomed him like crazy yesterday. 🙂
This week we were able to help out with a few activities for prospective missionaries. It was so fun!! One of them was a “missionary bootcamp.” We got to work with these “missionaries” in our “zone” really closely and train them on how to be missionaries. If there was ever anything that made me want to be a teacher in the MTC, that was it. It was interesting to see in retrospect as I helped those future missionaries how much I’d learned and grown. I’ve really come to know for myself that the principles of the gospel are TRUE, and how to teach them to others by the spirit.
I had an experience during my Spanish studies this week. Reading aloud from 3 Nephi, I was filled with such a spirit of peace, love, and light, that I knew without a doubt that those things were true. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior, and I know that He really did visit the people in the ancient Americas. I know that they are the ancestors of the Mexicans and latinos today. I know that God is MY Heavenly Father and that He loves me and knows me personally. I know that He really does call imperfect men to be prophets and to lead and guide us today. I have learned for myself through personal, sacred experiences that all the promises of the Plan of Salvation are TRUE. I know they are because I’ve had to struggle and search for them. I know that we have the potential to become like our Heavenly Parents through the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I KNOW that He atoned for me! I’m so grateful for the way that I have seen changes wrought in my heart and being in His service. I know that living the gospel of Jesus Christ and keeping our covenants brings us power. 🙂
There is so much more that I would like to share with you, but my time is up. I just want to share one last scripture that I love and is now appropriate. 🙂

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

2 Timothy 4:7-8

I love you all! Thank you for all that you have done to make it possible for me to serve the Lord here for 18 months. I’m excited to conclude this race, this mission, and to embark on my next: Wasilla, Alaska. 🙂
Que tengan una semana maravillosa! Les quiero!
Con amor,
Hermana Sutherland 🙂

It’s April 6th… which means it’s Christ’s real birthday! :)

DSCN0176

iSaludos!

Here we are again! I can’t believe that I’m already sitting here, talking about this past week. It went by so quickly!
General Conference was amazing. I think I could talk about all the things I learned for hours, but I really just need to go back through my notes and study the talks again. I’m so excited to go through them again!
I loved General Conference because a lot of my questions and even below-the-surface doubts and fears were addressed. Recently, I’ve been reflecting back on my mission and everything that I’ve done here–all the people I’ve served, loved, and learned from–and all the important lessons I’ve learned. It actually started to stress me out! How could I ever remember all the things that I’ve learned and lived? How will I continue to progress and grow after my mission is over? What goals should I set for myself?
Those thoughts weren’t consuming all of my time, but they were in the back of my mind going in to General Conference. Our Heavenly Father is wonderful, because He blessed me with so much peace during those four sessions. I especially loved how many talks discussed enduring to the end and facing questions and doubts. The Savior really is coming quickly, and the brethren know how we need to prepare ourselves. I was surprised to find that the answers to my worries was quite simple–just put my trust in the Savior, learn of Him, and follow Him. Live His gospel! It never ceases to amaze me how simple this life is; if we will simply seek to do and trust in the Lord’s will, we’ll be “…supported in all [our] trials, and [our] troubles, and [our] afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 36:3).
It finally hit me this week that I’m the Lord’s investigator. I’ve heard that idea passed around from time to time as a missionary, but I didn’t realize its significance until I put it into practice! I remember, just a few nights ago, that as I laid in bed after having talked with my Heavenly Father about my day–all the frustrations, joys, failures, worries, and tender mercies that I’d experienced–I asked myself what I would tell an investigator who expressed the same thoughts I just had to my Heavenly Father. As I pondered on that, I realized that I would have told them to focus their efforts on keeping their baptismal covenant and being faithful in the small things. If they did that, they would be blessed and they wouldn’t need to worry. That was my answer! I now know that the Lord will always direct my paths for good as long as I seek Him. He never fails me. 🙂
One interesting experience we had this week was finding Junior. We’d been struggling to find new investigators; it’s pretty hard sometimes in a YSA ward! But we had gone through the area book a few weeks ago, looking for potential investigators. While we were driving to Sierra Vista for our zone conference, I came across the list that we’d made. I felt like we should invite them to come to ultimate frisbee, so I texted them all. The next day, while I was on exchanges with Sister Barton, we received a message back from Junior. He came! He’s from Africa and speaks better French than English and plays soccer professionally for Real Salt Lake. We were able to teach him the restoration right there on the soccer field. It was really special; and he even came to general conference!
I have to go now, but I love you all. Have a wonderful week! 🙂
Con amor,
Hermana Sutherland

I love my Savior.:)

IMG_0908[1] (7)
Buenas tardes!!
 
That buenas tardes is getting a little old… I need to find a new way to say that!
 
Anyway, this week was great. I love it here! Hermana Budge and I are picking up the pace as we’re getting more comfortable with the area and the members. We probably have the best YSA ward ever. Just saying. 🙂 We even had a special passover feast, a “seder,” this Sunday. Bishop Call hosted it and we all had a great time. It was interesting; we had the bitter herbs, the lamb, the matzo, the heroces and everything. It was really interesting, and I learned that I really don’t know very much about the symbolism in the Old Testament!
 
Wasn’t Women’s Conference beautiful? 🙂 I absolutely loved it. Every time we gather together as women of the Church, I always feel like I get to take a step back and admire the beauty, goodness, and divinity that Heavenly Father has instilled in His daughters. There’s a sort of enriching power that you feel to be reminded of His incredible love for us, and I’m reminded of the love I have for the good women in my life. 🙂 Mom, Jenna, and Laurine, even though we’re far away I felt really close to the three of you as I watched that conference. I know that Heavenly Father is preparing His daughters for a great work right now! Now is the time to develop our talents and abilities. 🙂 
 
Now, don’t feel bummed out, Brandon, Alec, and Cory, you’re just as special! There’s something so tender yet powerful about the Priesthood meetings of the Church. I love reading the talks from the Priesthood Session of Conference. They testify to me that you’ve been reserved for this time and that the Lord has placed great trust in you to carry the work forward through faithful service! Each of you are incredible, and I couldn’t be a more proud sister. Heavenly Father is preparing you all for a great work, too. 🙂
 
Mom and Dad, thank you for all that you’ve done to teach the six of us to be faithful and to keep the commandments. The longer I am here, the more I realize how patient and diligent you have been! I’m grateful to call you my parents.
 
This week we’re coming to the close of the Book of Mormon challenge. Do you remember that one? 🙂 I’m really excited; we’re going to have a Zone Conference this week in Sierra Vista and we’re all going to share the things that we’ve learned. 
 
I’ve learned so much from my study of the Book of Mormon! Today, as I was reviewing all of the notes that I’ve taken, I realized that gradually, day by day, Heavenly Father blessed me with a little more knowledge and understanding. Here some; there some. It really could be described as the veil being peeled off a microscopic amount every day. As I was reviewing, it was interesting to see how additional insights came to mind and connected with the things that I had learned months ago. All of the questions and observations I’d made were little tiny seeds that had begun to grow and now are blooming. 🙂
 
There were a few scriptures that I came across this morning that I want to share. Just as a reminder, my theme for the Book of Mormon challenge was the promises made to the Lamanites and the role of the Book of Mormon in the gathering of Israel. The first one is Doctrine and Convenants 3:16-20; the second is Moses 7:62. I don’t have time to put them here, but you should look them up! They are incredible. I love them because they so clearly explain the promises that Heavenly Father made with the Nephite prophets because of their righteous desires, and the way that the truth restored through the Book of Mormon will facilitate the gathering of Israel and prepare the way for our Savior.
 
I just want to leave you with my testimony that I KNOW that Jesus Christ lives, and that He is the Son of God. Because we know He lives, we KNOW that He truly did perform the atonement and that one day, we will return to the presence of God. I love Him, and I know without a doubt that He loves me. And He loves you. 🙂
 
Con amor,
 
Hermana Sutherland

A fresh start!

Buenas tardes!

Thanks, Mom, for making all those arrangements for school and housing. It’s a big help to not have to worry about any of it!

I’m glad that the package made it safe and sound! Haha, I know, my tastebuds have changed a lot since the beginning of my mission, right? I remember that Padre had me try some Tabasco sauce several years ago, and I think I dished a little up on a toothpick. Haha! Even that was too hot for me–I thought I was going to die! 🙂
I’m so happy to hear that Alex is indexing!! Just a few weeks ago Hermana Hubert and I started an indexing challenge with the El Dorado youth. We were having a competition between the young men and young women to see who could index the most names in a week. Whoever lost was going to serve the others dinner! Haha! And since Cory is in chess club now, we’ll have to have a match sometime. We’ll see how good my skills still are. 🙂
Ok, now time for some updates! I need to hurry because there were so many amazing things that happened this week. We hit the ground running!
We were able to have dinner with Bishop and Sister Call this past Tuesday, the first night of the transfer. They are amazing! They have such a keen sense of humor and really are refined people. I was delighted to find out that Sister Call speaks perfect Spanish–she lived in Argentina for a few years while her father served as a mission president, and then served a mission in Spain. They were such kind, good people! Hermana Budge and I were surprised to find out later that Sister Call is actually Elder Scott’s daughter. !! What? I know. Now it makes complete sense. We’re so blessed! 🙂
I had an interesting miracle happen this week. Miracles are happening in different ways than they did in the Spanish branches. Most of the miracles that I saw there were related to finding people to teach; but here, we can’t just go contacting or knocking to find investigators. That wouldn’t be effective because we teach people who are 18-30 years old. Therefore, we work with our members to find people who’ve been prepared to receive the gospel.
Now for the miracle. 🙂 Right after I received the call about transfers, I began to think about who we needed to meet when Hermana Budge and I started our transfer. I immediately thought of the bishop and the ward mission leader — but then I had a stray thought to meet a family history consultant. At first I brushed it off, thinking it was silly, and that there certainly was someone more important to see, but it kept coming back. Heavenly Father was really trying to grab my attention because the spirit was very persistent! So, I decided to go with it. We set up an appointment with Kenzie Cluff, one of the family history consultants for the ward. She is less active and dating a non-member (they actually just got engaged!). When I heard her name, I realized that we could very well be related! My great-grandmother Lilian Cluff was the one that grew up in Colonia Garcia, Chihuahua, Mexico. When we went over to visit with her, I showed her my fan chart (thanks, Jenna, for including that in the scrapbook you made me! It has been really handy!) and, sure enough, we found a connection! We’re related through David Cluff, Sr. She has done a lot of research about the Cluff line and was able to tell me a little more about him. He, apparently, was the first convert in our family on that line and was the one who brought the family to Mexico.
That was an amazing experience for many reasons. First, family history is something very special to Kenzie, and the Lord was able to show her that He’s mindful of her by sending her a relative missionary to talk with her about it. Because she’s less active, we’re working with her now to be able to go back to the temple to do more family history work. 🙂 Secondly, Heavenly Father used me as an instrument in His hands to bless His children–and in this case, one of my distant cousins! Thirdly, when I was waiting for my mission call, one of the things I wanted was to be sent to an area where I had family connections. The Lord originally fulfilled that desire by sending me to the Gila Valley, where Lilian Cluff lived for much of her life. Now He is allowing me to finish my mission in another area where I have family ties. How beautiful is that? Our Heavenly Father is so merciful and so good and loving. He truly does want to fulfill the righteous desires of our hearts. 🙂
I love you all! I have to go now, but I promise I’ll have more next week. iCuidense!
Con amor,
Hermana Sutherland

Transfer Curveball!!

Buenas tardes, todos!

So as you can see from the title of my email today, we’ve had some interesting changes happen with transfers. Any guesses? 🙂 Hermana Hubert and I had no idea what to predict coming up to transfers this past week, seeing as we’d already been together for two transfers. We got the call on Friday night that I would be going to pinkwash the YSA 2nd ward in Rincon and East Stake with Hermana Budge! For those of you who aren’t familiar with missionary lingo, “pinkwash” is the word we use when two missionaries leave and two new sister missionaries come into an area when a transfer, or change, happens. Whoa!! I will be speaking English. I’m really excited to do it. I think it’s going to be a fun challenge; I’ve never pinkwashed before, and it’s a blessing because you really have to be on your toes. This is going to help me really work the hardest I can up until the end! And Hermana Budge is a great companion. She’s from the Washington, DC area of Virginia and loves life as a missionary. 🙂
This is also going to be a change. I remember that it hit me, hard, when Hermana Hubert and I were driving to chuch on Sunday that it would be the last time that I attended a Spanish branch for a long, long time. I wouldn’t ever again as a missionary. It was hard – a lot harder than I expected. During the meetings I did my best to soak it all up and just love the people there as hard as I could. When the end of Relief Society came around, Hermana Medina announced that we’d be singing himno #98 – “Para siempre Dios este con vos.” God be with you ’till we meet again. I hadn’t told anyone anything about transfers!! It hit me so hard during that last hymn in Spanish how much I love these people and how much I love being a missionary. I couldn’t sing; I just cried. I am so grateful for the good women in that branch and for my amazing companion who just came and held me. You truly come to love these people so much out here in the mission field; and that love comes through all the service that you do for them. Something that’s a little strange to realize is that I love them in a way they can never love me because of what I’ve done for them. In a sense, that’s a little like the Savior. We love Him immensely; but I believe that we can never quite love Him the way He loves us because of what He did for us.
I’m beyond excited to be serving here in the YSA 2nd ward. It covers the same area as El Dorado, so I already know a lot of the members. There’s even a sister missionary, Sister Rios, that has received a call to serve in Boise, Idaho! (Watch out for her, family! She’s amazing!!! She’s a recent convert. Ask about the story about how she came to know the Book of Mormon is true.) There’s so much work to be done here, and I’m ready to sprint it home like the last stretch of a 5k. I love you all! Have an amazing week!

La Conferencia General!

Buenas tardes!

This week was amazing! Hermana Hubert and I had a lot of miracles happen this week. I’m starting to learn something about missionary work –  that is, when you’re talking with people, you’re happier and the miracles start to flow. This week, we’ve tried really hard to do what Preach My Gospel instructs us to to – to talk with everyone!! As we did that, we noticed that we seemed to have an easier time recognizing and follow promptings of the spirit; we were happier and more hopeful. 🙂
Through that experience and many others, I’ve learned how valuable it is to simply follow the counsel of the prophet and apostles. If we just do that, the Lord blesses us and everything goes the way He desires!
I’m really excited for General Conference. I can’t believe that it’s almost here! 🙂 This is a chance to be able to receive specific personal revelation and guidance. I want to invite you all to start pondering on what you’d like to inquire of the Lord when that time comes. You may even begin to inquire of the Lord right now how you can use this Conference as an opportunity to share the gospel with those who’ve been in the back of your mind. 🙂
I love you all! Thank you for the prayers and the love that you send my way. I hope you have an amazing, faith-filled week. Heavenly Father is watching over you!
Con amor,
Hermana Sutherland 🙂
PS – 1 Nephi 15:8, Mosiah 15:11

Buenas!

Buenas tardes!

Thank you, Mom, for your email this week! I’m glad to hear that you’re all doing so well and that you’re all enjoying life up there in Alaska.
This week was amazing! We had a ton of meetings and things, but still saw a lot of miracles. One of them is Karina!
I’ve talked about her before – her sister is Diana, the one that was baptized at the beginning of this year, her aunt Rosario is getting baptized this month in Mexico City, and her mom wants to meet with missionaries in Hermosillo, Mexico. Well, she has been less active for a long time. She still has a firm testimony of the gospel and of the church, but has had other things involving her husband, who is also a member, and who has also been very less active, that wouldn’t allow her to come to church. Well, yesterday evening after dinner, we had planned to go and visit with her. When we arrived, she told us that she had just been over at Diana’s house with her husband, and that Hermana Martin and Hermana Dominguez went over to visit. She told us that her husband actually sat down with them and was involved in the message! She couldn’t beleive it. Well, it just so happened that as we were wrapping up our message with her, that her husband, Jesus, walked in the door. And what did he do? He sat down with us and wanted to read the scriptures! We then had a sweet experience in helping them understand that it’s natural to go through times of doubt and discouragement. That’s why we have and need a Savior. 🙂 Jesus’s heart is changing. We can see it! What’s special is that Karina, for so long, has been pleading with the Lord for this and had almost lost hope that it would. But it is beginning! Heavenly Father always listens to our prayers, and He will always answer our righteous desires. 🙂
I’m out of time. I have so many other things I want to share with you, but it will have to be enough this week that I love you and pray for you! Keep looking for that family to teach. You will find them through your faith, diligence, and obedience–just like the Lord has answered Karina’s prayers. I love you!! 🙂
Con amor,
Hermana Sutherland 🙂
PS – Alma 13 has some of the most beautiful verses about the divinity and responsibility of the Priesthood. I would recommend giving them a look. 🙂

Oh, what a week!

Familia querida!!

This was quite the week–I don’t even know where to begin!

Berenice came to church with Mariana and Isabella again. 🙂 We weren’t expecting it, so it was a really great surprise to see them walk into the chapel during the opening hymn! This week, we started meeting with her to help her learn English. We’re starting to read the Book of Mormon together in both languages. She is amazing! She’s such an intelligent woman and asks the most sincere questions. Her little girls are precious. They showed us some pictures of themselves when they were little, and some of their parents when they were younger. It was really sweet! I then was able to show them pictures of you all (from that amazing scrapbook that you made me, Jenna!). It was really special to be able to show them the picture from my baptism when I was eight years old as well. 🙂

I have a testimony that Heavenly Father truly does know our needs! All of the talks and the lessons that we had on Sunday were tailored perfectly to the needs and concerns that Berenice has. Her two good friends, Hermana Ana and Hermano Roberto Ortiz, spoke in Sacrament meeting; then, in Relief Society, Hermana Rebecca Dominguez gave the most beautiful lesson about receiving personal revelation and finding truth. I was spiritually edified and uplifted in just the way I was needing, as well. We are so blessed to be able to go to the chapel every Sunday and be spiritually rejuvenated! It really is a place where we are able to receive personal revelation and direction.

I shared an experience with Padre a few minutes ago, but here it is so that the rest of you can read it too. 🙂

We were visiting an elderly woman yesterday in a care home, and we had the chance to talk with the manager. We had to talk with her because the member we were visiting wanted us to give a Book of Mormon to one of the other women, so we did, but they weren’t too happy about it. I guess they’ve had trouble with Jehovah’s witnesses before. Anyway, she was Filipino! I don’t know how to pronounce the place that she said she’s from, but she speaks Tagolog, Vasayan, and Cebuano. (I think that’s how you spell those!) She was such a sweet woman. She really warmed up to us, especially as missionaries, when I told her that you served in Cagayan d’oro. She mentioned that there are a lot of mormons over there and that they have a beautiful church. 🙂 Her name is Dori and she’s been through a lot of trials in her life! I believe that she was really touched that we would take the time to talk with her and listen to her experiences. It really was a miracle to me that we have that connection so that we could gain the trust of those people in that care center. I think that Heavenly Father has bigger plans for Dori than she thinks, too. 😉

Would you all happen to know a Christenson/ Christensen family? I was on exchanges yesterday with Sister Jarnagin, who is waiting on a visa for Portugal. She said she has family in Wasilla. (PS – Grandpa, I learned a little Portugese while I was with her for the day! I’ll have to practice it with you in the future.) 🙂

One more thing, and then I am going to send pictures. We went to visit Karina Gutierrez this week (that’s Dianna Cruz’s sister, the woman that was baptized in the El Rio Branch) and instead of finding her at home, we found her mother! We’d met her briefly before at Dianna’s baptism. We were able to go in and get to know her better, and then read the Book of Mormon together. At first she wasn’t very interested; she’d read half the Book of Mormon before, many years ago, and couldn’t really remember much. It was really special to see that as we read through a few verses of 1 Nephi with her and applied them to her life, that her attitude changed. She seemed surprised by the principles we discussed and how they seemed to be so relevant to her life. At the end, she was eager to pick up the Book of Mormon again and give it a try! When we went by later to see Karina, she told us that her mother had surprised her by saying that she wanted to meet with missionaries in Mexico (she was just there to visit for a week or two). 🙂 Isn’t that incredible? Heavenly Father is working to put this family together in milagrous ways!

I love you all! I’m still praying that you’ll be led to find the elect over there in Wasilla, Alaska. 🙂 Have a wonderful week!

Con amor,

Hermana Sutherland 🙂

Photos of Valentines Day

We heart-attacked Maria Garsia’s door when she was sick!

Sister Exchanges and Valentine treats from Jennifer!

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Las promesas hechas a los Lamanitas!

Buenas tardes!

I’m sorry for not being able to write yesterday–the library was closed for President’s Day. 🙂

Anyways, this week was amazing!! Hermana Hubert and I are receiving so many blessings from our Heavenly Father. He truly guides us in this work and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to labor shoulder-to-shoulder with my Savior.

Mom, Brandon, and family, thank you so much for the efforts you’re making to share the gospel! I know that even those little conversations with people on the cross country team or with random people we meet about the gospel are laying the foundation for this great work. You are the hope of Israel, and Heavenly Father has given you certain talents and abilities, and has placed you within certain social circles to be able to bring light to those who are searching. I know that as you continue to pray to have missionary opportunities and to find those who are ready to receive the gospel that you WILL. 🙂

How is everyone’s Book of Mormon challenge going? Are you learning lots and lots of good things? 🙂

Speaking of which, I had the most beautiful experience this week with applying the things that I’ve been learning from mine. I told you a little over the phone on Christmas what I’d been learning (about the promises made to the remnants of Lehi’s family). I’ve come to know for myself, through the power of the Holy Ghost, that these people here, specifically the hispanics that I am working with, are literally the descendants of that chosen people. Well, this week we found a wonderful girl named Jennifer that just came up from Mexico a year ago.She is so sweet and humble– and is a yes-sayer! When we first met her, we only had time to talk briefly on her doorstep and give her a pamphlet about the restoration of the gospel. When we went back the next day, she had read it and wanted to learn more. We continued to teach her, and as time went on and we taught her about the Book of Mormon, the Spirit told me I needed to bear witness that this book was written by her ancestors for her. It was powerful!! The spirit of Elijah is real, and I am so blessed to be able to serve as an instrument in the Lord’s hands to deliver this book that was so carefully kept and safeguarded by the prophets of the ancient americas to their descendants– to help them know of the great things that He had done for their fathers and the love He has for them in helping them come to the knowledge of their Savior.

I want so badly to share with you specific verses and things that I have learned, but I don’t have time! I look forward to being able to share these treasures that I’m learning in the future. I love you all! Thank you for your examples to me in your journey to becoming more faithful disciples of Christ. 🙂

Que tengan una buena semana!

Con amor,

Hermana Sutherland 🙂