Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Week 44

No update this week but here are some pictures Olivia sent during Christmas.

christmas morning at the Garvins

Sister Williams and assistants "dahntahn" last p day together

last pday  :(

the trunk of food for the refugee

 borrowing Sis Swingholms coat

Christmas Eve nativity

my favorite little girls :)

decorating the tree with mikayla. I LOVE HER.

all the letters I sent out!!!!  You're welcome.

 Faith and Mikayla at her birthday party!

At the Carnegie art museum today!


 cool statue

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Week 43

Hello everyone!! THIS HAS BEEN THE BEST WEEK OF MY LIFE! That's not even an exaggeration! I thought I'd be bummed out because I'm not with my family, but my heart is filled with this intense JOY. I just want to sing!! 

Okay so some miracles that happened: 
 At dinner appointments we've been sharing Christmas stories from these books our mission president and his wife made us. I particularly loved the story of two missionaries serving in Austria who came across a camp of refugees. They gathered 22 large boxes of materials and distributed the materials throughout the camp. Cool, huh??
 One day as we were walking down the street, we saw a woman dressed improperly for the winter and holding the hand of a little boy while she carried a small little laundry cart behind her. We struck up a conversation with her, and she told us she is a refugee from Burma which is near Thailand. I couldn't believe it! She told us of her family's lack of food and clothing, and we yearned to help this woman. We got her information with hopes that we could provide her with at least a small amount of food and maybe a coat. How we were going to afford these things weighed on our minds all day. That evening we felt inspired to visit a less active part member family who rarely lets us in. Ignoring our doubts, we went. We read the refugee story to them, and we felt inspired to them we met a refugee earlier that morning. As we told this family of the needs of the family from Burma, their hearts were filled with the Spirit of Christ, and we left with a trunk full of non-perishable food and a few toys. Heavenly answered our silent prayers and more importantly He answered the prayers of a family in need.

I'm so grateful to be a part of such magnificent a work. My heart is filled with joy as I serve others this Christmas season. This is no doubt my favorite Christmas of my mortal life. I will remember the experiences I'm having now forever. 

By the way, I have a new companion! Her name is Sister Cottam, and she's from Elk Ridge Utah. She was serving in Washington, PA which means I'm "over her" as a Sister Training Leader. I went on exchanges with her just a week ago, and she became my companion! Crazy, huh? 

Thank you to everyone who has written me for Christmas! We have a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree :) This is so fun! Merry Christmas, everyone! Keep Christ in Christmas. Remember, He was the first Gift! "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Sister Sparks

ps. sorry I forgot my camera at home, so I stole these off Sister Cottam. There will be more next week! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 42

Hello! I forgot my planner, so I don't really remember what we did this week! I have to tell you something funny though! The other night we were laying in bed at 10:30, and around 10:50, someone was banging on our door. We shot up out of bed and said a prayer hoping nothing bad was happening. The bang came again, but we didn't answer the door. We slept safely through the night, so that's good! The next morning before church we were running around the apartment searching for the car keys, and we literally could not  find them ANYWHERE. Sister Williams said, I wonder if that's why someone knocked on our door....a light bulb went off in our heads. We knocked on our neighbor's door (he's an older man), and he opens it looking quite tired and in a robe hahahaha. He said, "Are you looking for some keys?" hahaha thank you kind neighbor who saved our lives!!! Our complex is kind of sketchy, so I'm glad our neighbor found it and not someone else! 

We helped a few people decorate for Christmas this week! It was so fun! I just love Christmas. We'll hopefully be visiting some nursing homes these next few weeks and singing songs with them and sharing the story of Jesus Christ's birth! I've watched Mr. Kruger's Christmas a good 6 times. I never appreciated it when I was little, but it means a lot to me now! I hope the Holiday Season is treating you well! Remember "the reason for the season!" I love ya!

Oh, and my companion is going home tomorrow...I'm super sad! Another big change will happen as I welcome my 5th companion! 
Sister Sparks


This week after district meeting, I was in the car about to back up out of the parking spot, and Sister Williams was behind me directing me. I had an idea of where I was going to back up, but apparently she had a different place she thought I was going. As I turned the wheel, she though I was headed for the Assistant's car, so she flipped out. She ran around to the front of the car and started waving her arms, but I was still turning the wheel, so the front side of the car just above the tire hit her!!!!!!! I'm serious!! I literally hit my wasn't very hard, so she didn't fall or anything, but it was HILARIOUS. We just cracked up laughing! Later on that day, we noticed a huge dent from her body hahahahahha. Everything turned out fine though, the fleet coordinator got it out :)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Week 41

Hello hello hello! 

This week has been insane! 
Monday night we visited a lady who hasn't been to church in about 20 years. We were planning on showing her the He is the Gift video, but we couldn't get the phone to hook up to the TV or something, so it wasn't working. We were super bummed, but at the last minute, her grandson loaded it on his ipod, and the Spirit filled the room as the video showed. It was a sweet sweet experience. 

Tuesday: We had Zone Conference. It was AWESOME. It was our Christmas Zone Conference, so we had tons of musical numbers. Sister Williams and I and the Assistants sang a Primary song about Samuel the Lamanite prophesying of Jesus Christ's birth. It went well! It's amazing how music invites the Spirit. With each number, the Spirit was felt and hearts were changed. I walked out of there with a stronger testimony of Christ and with a greater desire to follow Him. Sister Williams and I did a training on "He is the Gift." We talked about discovering the gift, embracing the gift, and sharing the gift. In Ether 12: 8-9 it says, "But because of the faith of men he has shown himself unto the world, and glorified the name of the Father, and prepared a way that thereby others might be partakers of the heavenly gift, that they might hope for those things which they have not seen. Wherefore, ye may also have hope, and be partakers of the gift, if ye will but have faith." The Church is making this initiative IN FAITH that others will become partakers of this beautiful Gift of Christ. Of course we want all to partake of the Restored Gospel of Christ, but if this does nothing but strengthen others' testimonies of Christ, we have succeeded! If you take away the "mas," we're spreading the Spirit of Christ. 

Wednesday: I was on exchanges this day, so another missionary was with me in my area. We had a super full day planned, and then..........everything fell through hahahaa. love when that happens! It turned out to be an amazing day though! We have a girl in the ward who just returned from her mission, so she came out with us that day. We were searching for the apartment we were supposed to be at for a lesson, but we seriously could not find it! The apartment was E19, but the numbers only went up to 18. We thought it was just a fake address, so we were just going to leave. As we walked out, a cute little Mexican man hollered from a few apartments down and asked what we were doing. He turned out to be a little angel because he helped us find E19! It turns out in was in the basement of another building or something. He was such a blessing from Heavenly Father! That man is hopefully going to come to church with us :)

Our other appointment fell through too, so we decided to take the member with us to contact a referral. We were walking down the street on the way to this referral, and we started talking to a guy standing outside of a barber shop. He was absolutely hilarious. We started talking to him about the Gospel, and he was totally drawn in! He was asking a whole bunch of questions, and we of course told him answers to all of his questions could and would be provided! We talked for a while, but I love what he said to us at the end: "Thank you, girls, for talking to me. I'm really going to read this book. You've awakened something in me that has been asleep for a long time." Isn't that awesome?? I know it wasn't me or the other Sister or the member that awakened his spirit. It was the Spirit of the Lord that touched his heart. 
One of my favorite scriptures is in 3 Nephi 11. This is when the resurrected Savior appears to the Nephites in ancient America. The Nephites are gathered in an area, and they hear a voice from Heaven. As I can imagine I would be, they were very confused as to what was happening. In verse 3, it says, " was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn." I bolded a few words there. It's interesting that it says "that did hear." The voice COULD be heard by everyone, but the voice only affected those that would hear it. In Alma 32, Alma invites us to exercise faith just enough to "give place for a portion of my words." The people who heard and felt Christ's voice were those who opened their hearts to him. The man we met in front of the barbershop opened his heart enough to hear our message. He opened his heart enough to feel the Spirit testify of truthfulness of what we were sharing. Pretty cool, huh?

Thursday: We had a few great lessons with some of our favorite people and invited a lot of people to the ward Christmas party on Saturday. Our ward is seriously rockin'. I love them so much! btw, we're in a weight loss competition with the assistants, and we're whooping them! 

Friday: It's Sister Williams' 18 month mark!!! CUHRAZAY!!! She is SUCH  good missionary. I seriously love her so much. We've become super close over the last 6 weeks. It's super sad to see her leave, but I'm excited for her to see her family again and continue with life :) 
Something that left a lasting impression on me:
We were contacting a referral in a sort of sketchy area in the dark. I was a little frightened. There was a figure with a hood on walking toward us, but for some reason we weren't scared. We both started to talking to this person, and it turned out to be a super sweet lady! She didn't quite know "what God was," but she had too many experiences in her life to deny in some sort of higher power. She talked about how she lost her job a week earlier, and in just a couple of days a new job offer just laid right in her lap. She took that as a blessing from God. We bore testimony that her Heavenly Father knew her perfectly and loved her so much. This experience built my testimony that Heavenly Father really does love ALL of His children. No one gets special treatment. He loves us equally and righteously! Man, I'm so grateful to know He's there. 

I've got to wrap up, so I will just include one more cool thing:
We met a brother last Sunday while we were walking around, and we set up an appointment for a week later. We knocked on his door, but no one answered. We thought about leaving a note, but we decided to just come back another day. We started walking away, but something just drew me back. I took out a sticky pad and started writing him a note when he literally walked out of the apartment right next to us!!! We had the wrong apartment number, and his friend called him at the same exact time, so he came outside to talk to his friend. Coincidence? I think not. We would've never found him, but Heavenly Father provided for us. We shared with him the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it was such a great lesson! He shared with his testimony of Christ, and we invited him to build his faith in Christ by considering the evidence that Heavenly Father has again reached out in love and called prophets on the earth to restore and teach us the Gospel in its fullness. He was so prepared by Heavenly Father! We invited him to  be baptized when he comes to know that our message is true (which was something Sister Williams was dying to do before she returned home), and he said he would think about all of the things we had discussed and pray about it. I'm so excited to follow up with him! AH

Well, today we're going downtown to the Strip District (don't worry, it's just a market with a lot of vendors) and the Carnegie Science Center. I'm so excited! I'll try to take lots of pictures!!! Love ya!

Sister Sparks

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Week 40


This week was great! We met an awesome less active lady. It sounds like missionaries haven't been there in 8 years! She was baptized and then stopped coming because tithing settlements freaked her out. We talked about tithing and why we pay it and the blessings that come from it. Her faith grew that night. I could feel it. She wants us to teach her again, and she also has a friend she wants to learn too. It was such a great experience! Not only does the Lord prepare his nonmember children to hear the Gospel, but he prepares those who have strayed to come back. 

We had met a really awesome girl on the street a couple weeks ago, but never were able to visit with her and her boyfriend. Finally, we showed up, and they were home!!! We talked simply of the Restoration of the Gospel and Book of Mormon. At the beginning, the boyfriend was a little bit defensive, but as we testified and just invited, his demeanor totally changed. He wanted us to stay longer! It was so awesome! We have high hopes for them! 

Thanksgiving on the mission was great. We had dinner at the church with a lot of the families in the ward, and we also had dinner with the Senior Couples in the mission. It was super fun! I was still able to reflect on the things that Heavenly Father has blessed me with. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to even be on a mission. All the events in my life lead up to my coming here. I'm confident God has a specific plan for me to reach eternal life in His kingdom. I find soooo much joy in sharing this plan with others! Man, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else! 
Sister Williams skyped her family on Thanksgiving because she'll be home before Christmas. It's so weird to think my companion is going home! I get to welcome a new companion in a few short weeks. That will be my 5!!!!! What the!? 

If any of you have heard about the He is the Gift initiative, IT'S AWESOME, HUH!? We were able to share "He is the Gift" cards we got at MLC. It was such a great tool! We approached people with it and invited them to watch the video. Many of those people had been approached by missionaries before, and sort of seemed annoyed when we started talking to them, but when we talked to them about the Spirit of CHRISTmas, they were so open! I'm excited to follow up with them to see what they thought of the video! If you haven't seen it, watch it, and share it :)

We set a goal for 7 new investigators this week, and I know it will happen! We've been meeting prepared people left and right! We met a Spanish family walking down the street with tons of kids. We talked to them about temples and eternal families. We have an appointmenton Wednesday with them! 

So this week I finally realized I AM A TERRIBLE DRIVER! I seriously try so hard, but I'm clueless! I went down a one way the other night and almost ran into a guard rail...Sister Williams was CRACKING up laughing. 

I forgot to mention last week that I took the phone out of my pocket, and it was in emergency mode. We had a voicemail, and it was from the Police department because I had accidentally dialed 911 hahaahah. Another crazy thing that happened was we were visiting a family we had never met before, and their littlest daughter just started throwing up all over the floor. I felt so awkward! I just stared at her as she was throwing. I wanted to look away, but my eyes were just glued hahah. We followed up last night, and she's feeling better though :) 

This week we have Zone Conference! It's all about Christmas! The Assistants and us are singing that Primary song that goes something like, "Said Samuel within five years a night will be as day, and baby Jesus will be born in a land far far away." It sounds really cool! 
I'm excited for this week!

Sister Sparks

ready for mlc

 sort of blurry, but our ugly Christmas sweaters at thanksgiving dinner

in the snow!

exercising in the morn. pumpin iron

I love sister williams!

the swingholms. I love them!!!!!!!!!! We need to get them a christmas present

 hiking last monday. lehi and sariah