Monday, December 29, 2014

...And a Happy New Year!

This week was so great! For obvious reasons (Christmas Eve + Christmas Day, Talking to the family, all were super terrific!) But by the end of the week we started feeling a bit selfish because we'd spent so much time just house hopping and didn't feel like we were really uplifting or strengthening anyone! So by the 27th we decided we were going to go visit everyone who told us to come back after Christmas. There were a lot of them. As we were making the list, we write down the name "Steve" and it really stuck out to me. Steve was not exactly someone who told us to come by after Christmas. We met him in passing as he was storming up the stairs cursing. We asked him if he was doing alright, and he told us he had just lost his job, only a couple days before Christmas. We asked him if we could talk with him about Christ and he essentially said no, so we told him we'd stop by later and he shrugged his shoulders.

So obviously, he was really interested in what we were saying, right?

On the 27th, we trudged up the stairs with Michael Whatley and knocked on his door. Steve opened the door and said, "come on in, Sisters!" We were rather baffled at his warming welcome but we went inside and met his wife Alyssa and their adorable little red-headed son. "We knew you were going through a rough time and we wanted to help make your life easier," I said. He allowed us to sit down and talk to them, and they both were so friendly and loving as we shared the Restoration with them. They seem so eager to change and draw closer to Christ, They both expressed that they were just looking for something stable in their lives. We asked them if they wanted to come to church, and they agreed. We got them a ride. But they didn't come. We called them after and Alyssa apologized profusely, saying, "I'm so sorry. We really want to start coming every week we just had a bunch of stuff come up yesterday morning."

It's so refreshing to see people who are so sincere in their desire. They both said they want to be baptized and they want to read their scriptures.

It's a Christmas miracle. ;)

Leroy is doing really well! He's feeling clean being dip free, and has even said that he's trying to stop drinking Pepsi MAX because he doesn't like feeling like a slave to the caffeine. I love seeing the change in people! It makes everything worth it!

Funny Christmas Eve story. Sooo we had just pulled up to a member's for lunch and as I was getting out of the car, I hear, "Sister Best! Catch!" I drop the papers in my hand to catch... a dead mouse that Elder Wilcox threw at me. Bleck. I sanitized my hands a dozen times before we ate.

It was a blessing to see some of your faces! Thank you for the cards and gifts. It really was an amazing Christmas. We were able to spend it with members of our ward who were so loving. The spirit of Christmas was in their homes as they sought to serve others and focus their Christmas season on the birth of Christ.

There was a talk given in sacrament yesterday that was so powerful. Brother Dean spoke on New Year Resolutions and how as we try to become better, we are doing so to be able to serve others. We should all try to develop new talents that we can use to help others. Because we don't all need to know how to do everything if we each know how to do something. He talked about how it is a way of being prepared. If we saw a friend get into a car accident, we wouldn't just stand and watch. We would run to help them. Do everything we can. It's that way with the knowledge that we have. We should be eager to help others with our knowledge of them Gospel, with our talents and abilities, and with any other God-given gift that we possess.

I love you all so very much! I'm learning, over and over and over again, that when things get tough, blaming God is never the answer. It is vital that we depend on him through prayer and ask him to strengthen us to deal with the cards we've been dealt.

I hope you have a terrific week and a happy New Year!


Sister Best

1.A hilarious sign we found in one of the member's homes.
2. A super sleepy Christmas morning photo
3. Busted! All the missionaries eating cake between Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Leroy's Baptism

It's a Christmas Miracle!

FENTON "LEROY" TALBOTT JR. GOT BAPTIZED. Goodness gracious. So good. So much heart and energy and prayer poured into that man. So many packs of gum and Vitamin C pills bought to keep him from dipping. I love him with my soul. Let me tell you a story:

Michael Whatley was baptized when he was young. He went to church with a friend for a while and decided he wanted to be baptized. He was maybe 11. Fast forward FORTY YEARS. He went inactive in the church shortly after his baptism and then had the craziest life ever. So a few months ago the missionaries were teaching his neighbor, and she said, "I think my friend Michael would really like what you've been teaching me". So the missionaries found him, found out he's a member, and reactivated him, Right before I got here, he got the Melchizedek Priesthood, and on Saturday he got to baptize Leroy. It was one of the most powerful experiences I've ever witnessed.

When Leroy got changed and returned, he whispered to me, "I feel so clean! I just feel so great!"

Then we all fervently prayed and pleaded with the Lord that he wouldn't have to work Sundays, and he got them off! So he was able to get confirmed on Sunday! Hallelujah!

So that was the highlight of the week. Among many, many, many others. The lowlight was definitely the day before. There's a sickness being passed around the missionaries and I caught it on Friday so I tried  to get up and work through it, but I kept pretty much falling over in public places, so Hermana Anderson stayed home with me while our companions worked our areas for a couple of hours. I tried to sleep but wound up too antsy and made four million phone calls to organize the baptism. After much stress, the work was done. I'm still trying to fight this yucky virus. Lowlight number two was being dropped by four of our investigators yesterday. But I'm going to choose not to talk about that. but enough about me...

And the Savior has manifested himself to everyone around us in such an evident way. Any time people complain to us about the commercialization of Christmas, their stress and anxiety, their distaste of individual family members, et cetera. The cure is always the Savior. The cure is always drawing closer to the Lord and trying to understand WHY they're facing the difficulties that they are. This is my favorite part of missionary work. Being able to feel the love our Father and Heaven has for his children, and then trying to help them feel the same thing. It's odd because sometimes you meet people, and you know exactly what would help them, exactly what would fix their problems. We stand so aware of what element of the Gospel would improve the quality of their lives. And to them, we're just a stranger, another vacuum salesman. It's. So. Frustrating.

So here's what you need to do, go tell somebody that God loves them.

The Spirit of Christmas is literally the Spirit of Christ. That spirit that everyone loves so much as a child is whimsical because it is founded in something that is simple and stress-free. The spirit of Christmas is giving and serving selflessly, not getting wrapped up in making sure you're doing enough. Focus your Christmas season on improving your relationships with others, including your Savior, and you will be able to carry on the Christmas spirit for the rest of the year.

I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It has the ability to provide lasting change, the kind of change that isn't broken by January 15th, like every other New Years Resolution.

I love you all. I hope I get a chance to talk to some of you via Skype! I'm planning on calling between 10:30-12:00 Utah time. Stay by the computer! Love you all. Missing you to the moon.

Leroy's on the left, Michael's on the right!

Lookin' way cool on a Big Wheel, waiting for someone to show up to an appointment.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

'Tis the Season to go caroling! Fa La La La La La La La La


This week was phenomenal!!!
Let me just begin with all of the miracles/joys/happy things.
(that doesn't mean I'm going to end with the negative things...because there really weren't any.)

So we're going to go day by day right quick.

Monday-Wednesday: Normal missionary blurs. We had an exchange with the sisters in Edmond, and their area just got shut down, and one of the sisters just finished her mission. So it was an odd exchange. I've never been good at preparing people for change. I can't recall too many other specific experiences from the week, but it was just a bunch of goodness. Except that LeRoy ended up dipping on Tuesday. So we had to push off his baptism until this upcoming Saturday. But so far, so good! He's excited to be free from his addiction. Also, we found out his real name is Fenton. Which is super cool.

Thursday: We had our Christmas Conference! Which basically means we woke up at 5, drove to the city, and had trainings for 12 hours. It's funny how the things that sound like torture to any normal teenagers (shoot..I just realized that I'm 21 and definitely not a teenager.) are considered gifts to missionaries.

Here was some wonderful takeaway:

The Lord knows that we CAN change. And as such, he expects us to. We need not bog ourselves down with the things that make us feel worthless. That's not how our Heavenly Father wants us to feel. He wants us to feel like we're progressing. If there's something about our lives that we don't necessarily like, we have the opportunity and command to change it so that we can accommodate our own feelings and allow ourselves to be individually happy. That is what the Atonement of Jesus Christ has allowed us to do.

Also, my Papa collected a series of Christmas cards from family members. If you were a part of that, thank you so much. I received a little package of them at the end of the conference, as well as a Christmas card from the First Presidency, and it just made my heart melt. I love you all a lot.

Friday: Was our ward Christmas party! Any everyone who doesn't come to church was there. And it was adorable. I will attach a picture of the amazing nativity set. They were 2-D realistic animals. Hahaha. So awesome.

Saturday: We drove to Perry and visited several members of the ward that we hadn't met before. I always love lifting up people who confine themselves to their home. It's easy to help people feel the spirit when they already have a testimony of their Savior. Then, in the evening, ALL OF OUR PLANS FELL THROUGH. It happens. Including the member who was going to come out with us to visit Larry. So, in a panic, we called every single member in our phone. They were all hanging out with each others, I'm pretty sure. So we prayed fervently in a Wal Mart parking lot that this would work out. Then my companion had the idea to call the Spanish sisters that we live with, so that we would at least be able to get into his house. They agreed to join us if they could bring Juan, someone they're teaching, so we agreed, and we called up Michael Whatley, one of the coolest fellas on the planet, and we all went to Larry's house for a lesson on the Word of Wisdom. And it was so solid. We asked Larry if there was anything that would keep him from living the Word of Wisdom, and he boldly resounded, "No! I mean, I'll have to quit drinkin', and smokin', and drinkin' tea. But I can quit anything with God's help." What?! That doesn't happen. We love Larry a lot... he is solid. IN his prayer at the end of the lesson, he prayed that Juan would get baptized, and during the lesson, Juan helped Larry by talking to him how he's in the process of quitting drinking. So... it was pretty much the greatest.

Sunday was kind of the same story. The day was great. We got a lot accomplished, but at night, all of our plans fell through. We went caroling with the Elders and wound up getting to chat with someone we have been trying to visit for months but haven't had any success with, then Sister Chandler and I prayed and prayed that we would find two new people to teach that evening, and it worked! We called up Sister Meldrum and, well, had the following conversation...

"Sister Meldrum! Wanna adventure?"
"...yes! Unless if's the Narnia... I really don't need that trouble in my life right now."

So, she showed up ten minutes later and we walked around a sketchy apartment complex (don't worry, Mom and Dad) knocking on people's doors that had told us they might be interested in listening to us. Sometimes those efforts are futile. But we wound up meeting two new people and teaching them on the spot. One of these people was named Faith, and boy did she fit her name. We taught her all about the Restoration, prophets, the Book of Mormon, just, everything. And she loved it. And the spirit was so powerful. And we taught her standing on her door step. We even set a baptismal date with her and got her a ride to church.

The Lord has just shown us miracles... That's all. Just. Miracles.

As the night wrapped up last night, Sister Meldrum told us that we could Skype our families at her house on Christmas. So now that that is secure, it will probably be around 11:30 or 12 when I call. Let me know if that works for y'all or if it needs to be swapped around.

I'll leave you with Life Lesson #20: Becometh as a Child
Children are innocent, they forgive quickly. They retain knowledge. They aren't hard on themselves. They have no problem trusting others. Their opinions don't impede them from choosing the right. I'm sure many tired mothers would disagree with me on some of those qualities, but God wants us to become like Children. I remember the exact moment when I was younger and I learned what sarcasm was. Somebody had made  abiting comment, and for the first time ever, someone told me, "I was just being sarcastic", then they had to explain that to me. As a child, I never sought to hurt any one's feelings, and if I ever did, I was too tender hearted to go with out apologizing moments later (I'm sure Katie can attest to that)

This is what God expects of us. That we "becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his Father." (Mosiah 3:19)

Most children don't have a sense of independence, they rely on their parents for happiness, approval, and instruction. Luckily, we are able to generate some of those elements on our own, but we are to always look to our Father in Heaven. Because like Children are carefree and not bogged down by their circumstances, neither do we need to be. We have the ability to find joy in all things and trust in God that all things can and will be solved in due time. We are expected to love and make friends with just about anyone, to seek not to contend, and find joy in every situation life brings us to.

I love you all!
I know that our Father in Heaven lives. And I know Christ is the savior of the universe. And my whole life has been changed with that knowledge. Give back to Christ this Christmas! Remember that "he who is in the service of his fellow man is only in the service of his God".


Sister Best

Some of you may have gotten Christmas Cards. If not, I'm sorry. But here's a picture of them anyway! And a typical porch display in OK.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Disproving Buddy the Elf and the miracle Root Canal

^ Wouldn't a title like that make for a fine children's book?

I will begin my epistle with a tragic yet glorious story from my week.
So for the past two months, I've had this tooth ache. It comes and goes, but it always seemed to come at inconvenient times. Like when I'm trying to sleep. I've been super quiet about it because I don't like to complain. And I don't like wasting mission time with personal matters, and I don't like asking for favors or money or anything. It makes me feel bad. But this week, I hadn't slept for days it hurt so bad, and one morning one of our roommates found me on the kitchen floor hiding behind a cupboard door and clenching my face with my hands. So she practically called the mission nurse for me and requested that I go to the dentist. The mission nurse set up an appointment for me in a city called Edmond. I expected for the dentist to tell me how much it would cost and I would say, "It's fine, I'll just live with it." But instead, they put me under laughing gas, gave me a root canal, and then afterwards told me, "we just like to take care of the sister missionaries." My heart was full of so much gratitude. They answered so many of my prayers.


Stillwater has a parade for everything. Literally everything. So this week we went to the Christmas Parade and handed out He is the Gift pass along cards to everybody who came to give us fliers and stickers. It was a solid exchange, I'd say. My companion even gave one to Santa and said, "this is a card that will help you discover the true meaning of Christmas" Hahah. So bold. I love her a lot.

We set a baptismal date with a fella named Larry for January 12th! And he got so excited about it that he put it on Facebook! Missionaries have been trying to teach Larry for quite some time, but his Dad just recently died, and he seemed as though he had been humbled quite a bit. He even came to church for the first time yesterday and he loved it. He's excited to come back next week! We are SO STINKIN' Excited!!!

Also, LeRoy is supposed to be getting baptized this Saturday!!! Which will be amazing. We have gone through all the baptismal interview questions with him and he seems thoroughly prepared. We just have to keep following up and making sure he's not still dipping.

We ran on not much sleep this week as we drove to the city for a meeting, to that dentist appointment in Edmond, to Woodward for an exchange, and to an outlying city called Perry, all within a matter of 3 days. Which meant waking up at five almost every morning. But it was worth it. We've had an amazing week.

We met several new people because of this He is the Gift Initiative. If you haven't shared it on Facebook yet, do it! Think of all the sad people who don't know how much our Father in Heaven loves them! And are spending their Christmas focused on being stressed out instead of being relaxed and joyful.

CHRISTMAS DEVOTIONAL <--- You should watch this, if you didn't get a chance to last night. It was really good. My companion and I received a lot of revelation from it. It goes hand in hand with something I've been studying lately.

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits,without partiality; and without hypocrisy." (James 3:17)

I've been trying to envelop some of these qualities in my own life and be less abrasive and spastic. It's hard for me.

I know Buddy the Elf says that the best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear, but I'd have to disagree with that. The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by developing charity for others and then doing something about it. That pure love of Christ will enable us to be creative and sparing in order to bring about much good. In the devotional, Elder Christofferson, in the devotional, mentioned that if we make becoming more Christlike a part of our daily routine, we can have the Christmas spirit, the Spirit of giving, year round. Because it becomes a part of us, not merely an annual occasion to serve. Those who sacrifice in the service of others are doing a wonderful thing. Sister Oscarson said that reflecting on how we can be more Christlike will help us be instruments in bringing about the happiness of others.

I wish I could be more eloquent, but I'm going to have to empathize with the many great men who stated that they were  "not mighty in speaking", because I'm not. But I love my Savior so much. I love our Heavenly Father so much. I feel the love they have for me and for every single one of us, if we want to accept it. I still reflect on the glory that our father in Heaven has restored the teachings of Jesus Christ to the earth so that we may partake of them and be instructed...literally from on high. I love all of you, as well, and want to thank you so much for the wonderful influence, support, and happiness you've been in my life. My heart feels like it's going to explode.

I love you.

Sister Best

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for: my FAMILY. 100 percent. It was indeed a different experience having Thanksgiving in Oklahoma with a bunch of random families instead of the Best/Wootton/Ostlund Brunch and the Hennessey Dinner, but we had FOUR Thanksgiving dinners... so I can't complain.

We played football for four hours in the morning with a few members of the various local wards. Well, the Elders did. They decided to play two-hand touch so we ended up getting the other sister missionaries together and playing Football Lite with all the kids. It was awesome. We still got sore. And I walked away bleeding... Success.

Then we were invited to the Institute for Thanksgiving dinner for all the students who didn't go home for the holidays. It turned into a ping-pong tournament that I definitely lost. It was delicious. The food, not the defeat.

Then a less-active member of our ward invited us to dinner that she had fixed and was hosting in an elementary school cafeteria. Nothing says Thanksgiving like strangers, tile floors and fluorescent lighting. I'm sorry, that was cynical. It really was delicious. And we were able to find somebody we had been looking for for months!

THEN we went to the Weiermans for pie. And oh how we love the Weiermans. I would love to describe the events that ensued, but I'll just attach this video instead. [Watch video now]

I definitely got Elder Wilcox back. I wiped the whipped cream off my glasses and cheeks and threw it in his face, then he got Sister Chandler. We smelled really good. But the night wasn't yet over...

To close the night, we played some type of Nascar board game for two hours with some members of the ward. I think we crashed their date night. But it was fun nonetheless. I committed Sister Chandler and the Elders that if anyone offered us food all day, or even suggested that there was more, we had to say yes. So we were pretty darn full.


The rest of the week carried on like a normal week.

Well, as normal as missionary work can be.

We spent a portion of this week in trainings figuring out how we can effectively, #sharethegift. The He is the Gift initiative is huge. The church has put a lot of money into helping people recognize the reason for the season. And that it really is Christ. The video they have released is beautiful. If you haven't had a chance to watch it, do so! Right... HERE! They bought the front page of Youtube for December 7th and it will be up in Times Square starting today until January 1st.

This "campaign" has really helped me reflect on what Christmas has always meant to me. And how this is the perfect time to see what Jesus Christ did. That he was, indeed, born. A real person. To come to earth as a gift from our Heavenly Father. I don't mean to get all political, but I have such a strong desire to infinitely have family + Christ-centered Christmases for the rest of my life, being sure to really focus on the meaning of things. My family raised me to always respect Christmas as a time for family interaction. I hope that I always remember that.

I think everyone we tried to talk to this week was drunk beyond coherence. I don't know why. One guy told us he had been bit by a Rottweiler, which explained the blood dripping down his face, but then he hugged me and told me I was his favorite person he'd ever met... what? Another guy told us that he met God and he offered him a cigarette and said, "light 'em up, Brother". He also told us his mother was the statue of liberty and told my companion she had "Merry Christmas eyes". Whatever that means...

I'll try to solidify this email with some spiritual insights, because it really was a week of spiritual enlightenment.

Hermana Anderson, one of our roommates, and quite possibly one of my best friends, is going home in January, and she inspired me to start making a book of 101 Life Lessons I learned on my Mission. It hasn't taken me much time at all to get to 20. I write the title and then a two page description of how I learned it and why it matters. So I'll start relating some of the things I've learned little by little.

Life Lesson  #16: Find joy in the here and now...right now.

This lesson could relate to life lesson #1, "Remember Lot's Wife", but I'm referring more specifically to being able to live in the present without constantly yearning for the future. There's no specific experiences I can think of to relate to this principle, as I usually do, because it is an everlasting lesson. On your mission, or at least on mine, I get distracted when I think about the future, even if it's just an upcoming conference or temple trip... Or P-day... hahah. We learn pretty quickly that there is so much joy found when we simply buckle (or tie or pull or... Velcro...) up our shoes and get to work. And having planned and studied and prayed for those we interact with, we find joy when we are where we're supposed to be in the exact moments we're supposed to be there.

We have joy in our present circumstances because we can trust what the Lord has in store or us and that he's constantly giving us little miracles and blessings, if we'll only recognize them as such. This life is meant to be enjoyable. We're not meant to try to get through this day so we can enjoy tomorrow. We're supposed to be happy each and every day doing the things that are required of us. So much of that joy comes from hope. So much more of that joy comes from friends and family. But our relationship with God, or rather, our intimate friendship with Him and sheer acceptance of his will, will compel us to keep his commandments, and in turn, be happy. Because we'll understand why things happen to us when they do. And what we need to learn from them.

I love you all.

Happy Thanksgiving. And Happy December! Woah!


Sister Best