Thursday, May 28, 2015

No Time and Not Much to Report

So. I basically have no time and there's not a whole lot to report on anyway.

We taught a lesson and slept and ate. #missionarylifeonpday

Interviews with President Stoker! Great day! The Stokers are so great!
We had a really cool lesson about the Armor of God during our zone
meeting that day too! There was a lot that went into that, so I'll try
to have it prepared for next week's email.

We also traveled down to New Hampshire that afternoon. That was
literally our entire day between those two things.

Mission conference. We are now missionaries who are authorized to use
modern technology as a  teaching tool. In normal English, we have
iPads now!

Soup kitchen was great as always.

We taught this really awesome guy! He walks around Skowhegan playing
his guitar! When we invited him to learn about a week ago he was
pretty interested and we had our first lesson on Thursday! It was so
great and he asks the most sincere questions. We love him!

Weekly planning. I survived...barely. Someday I'll appreciate it!

Service! Spring cleaning makes Sister Mackey over here sneeze more
than anyone thought was physically possible. We had an awesome day
though, so it made up for it.

So many miracles!

cried tears of happiness! We're hoping to teach her this week!

Well, I have no time and I'm really hungry. Yeah, I haven't changed much!

Sorry this is not spiritual at all!

Amo sempre,
Sister McEldowney

From the keeper of this blog -
The Whole Armor of God is found in the New Testament, Ephesians 6:10-18 -

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

We'll leave it to Kayla to explain what she learned about it during her zone meeting.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Sunshine After the Storm

Well, this week has definitely been one for the books! I can't begin to explain how much of a roller coaster my life has been over the past two months, and it just keeps going! In all honesty though, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Let's just look at this really quickly. In the last two months I have left home for 18 months for places completely foreign to me, met basically my long lost soul sister (that's you Sister Aston!), learned how to communicate in PORTUGUESE, made some amazing friends through my MTC experience, found two of the greatest spiritual giants in the world (or so I'm convinced), left all of those amazing people to come to the other side of the country, and explored what is definitely the middle of nowhere (but I love it!). How many people can say they've done all that in 2 months?! Well, whoever they are, I can now say I'm apart of that elite group. Just thought I'd brag a little bit. Well, brag is the wrong word, marvel I think is a better word.

Anyhow, on to the weekly update!

We went over to a family's home for dinner and FHE. I love them so much and am so grateful that they're so willing to be involved in missionary work! Love love love!

We had two appointments that took most of the day, so not a ton happened, but our lessons did go really well!

I've had a problem for most of my mission of not teaching by the Spirit. I tend to plan a lesson and want to stick to it exactly, but that's not the way teaching is supposed to go. I decided I was going to try really hard today to teach people, not lessons, and it's amazing how the experience changes! Teaching by the Spirit brings a whole new feeling to me as a missionary and to the person we're visiting. Sometimes it's not about what Is said, but how the person feels after what you said. I'm trying really hard to rely on the Spirit when I teach because that's what missionary work is all about! We are not the real teachers, the Spirit is. We are just the mouthpieces.

First exchange! I went on exchange with one of the Sister Training Leaders, Sister Frame, and she's wonderful! We got along super well, right off the bat, and our 24 hours as companions was grand! I love her! I mean, I love all the people out here, but she's a pretty great one!

We also had two super great lessons! I have so much love for those we teach and I just really want to see them progress and feel that same joy that I get from the Gospel of Jesus Christ! 

Service at the soup kitchen is always so much fun! I love it there and being able to help people who need it is so rewarding. 

I had to give Sister Frame back to her actual companion, which was sad, but it's so nice to have Sister Davis back. I love her! 

I HAD BREAKFAST FOR DINNER! I didn't really plan it that way, but I didn't know what to make, so I decided that french toast is quick and easy. Thus, french toast was made and Sister McEldowney was uma muito feliz campista! 

Other than that, my weekly Friday accomplishment is surviving weekly planning, so that continued this week.

Did you know that singing and whistling for people to share a message about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is not all that effective? Well, we didn't either and it was a flop. A very fun flop, but a flop nonetheless! It was a different way to approach tracting though, and that was the purpose. On the bright side, we were still pretty successful in talking to people and invited 24 people to learn about the gospel throughout the day. MIRACLE!

I finally met a less-active we've been trying to contact since I got here, too! I was so happy! Technically he's the non-member in a part member family, but those are just details. Either way, I finally met someone that we've been trying to see. 'Twas grand!

Miracle after miracle after miracle! I love love love Sundays!

So, Aaron, our investigator, is now a recent convert! Aaron got baptized! Happy day! The Spirit was so strong during his baptism! I couldn't believe how it all came together. We've been stressing about the details for weeks and it came together for a beautiful baptismal service. My heart was filled with happiness as I saw the look of pure joy on his face after being baptized. It was incredible!

It was pretty special, too, because he asked me to sing. I sang "I Need Thee Every Hour" for the service. It was acapella and in two languages, so I was pretty proud of myself. I sang the first and last verses in English and the middle two in Portuguese. It was really neat and it helped to invite the Spirit back into the meeting after the excitement of Aaron coming back into the chapel.

We also found two new investigators! The stories are pretty great, too! One of them is a man that we see everywhere and we finally found a chance to talk to him! I mean, we had to pull over to the side of the road and run to him with a Book of Mormon, but it was so worth it.

Our second investigator is a woman, and possibly her daughter, who we met solely because of listening to the Spirit. So, we drove to one of the towns in our area that's further away because we had a media referral (someone who requests a meeting with the missionaries via media, internet, t.v. commercial, etc.) there. We got to the address and there was absolutely no way of getting in contact with him. As we left with this sister missionary being very discouraged, Sister Davis said that she felt like we needed to go knock doors on the street where we had parked. The first person we came up to was super willing to listen and we taught her the Restoration! I left with some seriously high spirits and a huge smile on my face! 

Experiences like the ones I had Sunday remind me why I'm a missionary. The pure joy that can, and does, come to people with the knowledge of the gospel is incredible!

I love this gospel so much! I know that this church is true. I know how much joy it can bring because it brings me joy each and every day. Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ. God is our Heavenly Father who loves us with every fiber of His being. If He didn't love us, He would not have sent His son to earth to be our Savior. I know that Christ lives and that He is my Redeemer. I love this gospel with all my heart and don't know where I'd be without it.

I love and appreciate all of you so much! I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Amo sempre, 
Sister McEldowney


From the keeper of this blog -

RE: Monday
"We went over to a family's home for dinner and FHE."

I know you know what dinner is, but what is this FHE thing? It's an acronym for Family Home Evening. The church STRONGLY encourages families to hold Family Home Evening once a week, preferably Monday night. I've included a link below that explains well what FHE is all about.

RE: Tuesday
"I've had a problem for most of my mission of not teaching by the Spirit."

"...teaching by the Spirit?" Again, a Mormonism that perhaps only Mormons understand. Here's some information to help explain where we come by it - 

First one must understand who the Spirit is.

So then what does it mean to teach by the Spirit? I found a great explanation given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. This really rings true if you consider Kayla's age and experience as you read.

The Lord described the importance of teaching by the Spirit when he said, “If ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach” (D&C 42:14). One easy-to-understand illustration of the importance of that direction is to remind ourselves of this fact: When we go out into the world to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, many of the people we teach have much more formal education than we do. Every minister we encounter has more education in theology than we do. We have no professional clergy. We have no school of theology. Some of us have never even heard of some of the subjects in which professional ministers have spent many years of professional preparation.

A few years ago I encountered an example of this. I was talking with a Protestant minister who taught in a seminary. When I asked what subject he taught, he said, “Hermeneutics.” I had never heard that word, so I said, “What is that?” My minister friend explained that hermeneutics is the art of interpreting and expounding the scriptures. I smiled and said, “Well, yes, I guess I understand a little bit about that, but I’ve never heard it called that.”

Our missionaries meet people who have studied philosophy and metaphysics, world history and languages, science and the arts. They meet people who are better educated than they are. In view of that, if they don’t have the Spirit of the Lord and if they don’t teach under the direction of the Spirit, how can they expect to accomplish their mission?

We cannot compete with the world on its terms. If we are to fulfill our calling, we must teach the Lord’s way.

If we have the Spirit of the Lord to guide us, we can teach any person, no matter how well educated, any place in the world. The Lord knows more than any of us, and if we are his servants, acting under his Spirit, he can deliver his message of salvation to each and every soul.

RE: Sunday
"...we taught her the Restoration!"

The doctrine of the need for a restoration of Christ's church and the necessity of letting the world know and inviting all to learn of its truths for themselves is the sole purpose behind The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints missionary program. I've found a couple of links that explain it better than I ever could.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Two Months Old! What the What?!

I'm officially two months of today! How did that even happen?! I only have 16 months left of my mission! Wow! Talk about crazy! Time flies!

This week has been one for the books! Granted, most weeks as a missionary are, just with miracles alone, but this week has been pretty crazy. Well, parts of it at least. Just read, you'll realize what I mean haha!

We taught one of our investigators after P-Day was over. It went really well! We love him!

After a million and one years, I finally finished the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon! That sucker is long and has awesome stories! I love love love it! I mean, I love the entire Book of Mormon, but Alma holds a special place in my heart. Even more so considering my missionary scripture is in there! Alma 29:9. One of the best in my opinion!

Our investigator, Aaron, had his baptismal interview today and it went so well! He's so prepared and we are beyond stoked! 

We had bomb ice cream and that was pretty much the highlight of the day. 

We also talked to quite a few people and that always makes my day.

We did so much service today! It was insane! We went to the thrift shop to try to get more service, we did service at the soup kitchen, and we did service at a member's home. Craziness! We basically didn't talk to anyone or teach any lessons because of all the service, but it was so fun!

We ate lunch at the park which was super nice. It was pretty hot, but we managed to enjoy our time outside regardless of the weather. 'Twas grand!

Normally Fridays are pretty uneventful because we do weekly planning in the morning, but this week was pretty different. It has to be when you find ticks in your apartment! I cried, well, almost.

So yeah, we found three ticks in our apartment and were panicking all day because of it! Ticks are scary! They're ugly little buggers too! They won't die, so we decided to trap them under jars and wait until we knew what to do with them.

We had to leave them there, too, because we had service at the animal shelter that day. Guess what! One of the dogs had ticks when we got there! We can't escape them!

We dreaded going home and were absolutely terrified. Ticks will do that to you. They make a sane person go crazy. Welcome to my life.

My lovely companion and I basically cried ourselves to sleep that night. UPDATE: We're still alive and kicking!

We had some appointments. I met some more people. You know, the usual thing.

Oh! I did sing in Portuguese for Aaron, so that was awesome! Have I mentioned lately how much I love and miss Portuguese?

Finally had a normal Sunday! That wasn't even the most exciting part though!

I GOT TO SKYPE HOME! Let me tell all of you, I have never appreciated Skype more than on my mission. Seeing my favorite people was the greatest thing ever! I didn't want it to end, but exact obedience is the key to miracles. I love my family and friends so much! Truly, I wouldn't be where I am without them and seeing their faces yesterday was a gentle reminder of that.

As for all of your I didn't get to see, I appreciate you as well! The various ways you've supported me over the years gave not gone unnoticed. You all mean so much to me and I treasure whatever kind of relationship it is we have.

I'd like to challenge everyone to think about their moms and other mom figures in their life and write down some of the numerous positive qualities they have. Look at that list and really think about how amazing they are. These women sacrifice so much for us and they only get one day a year!

The qualities you find are ones I'd invite you to strive to have. I know that there are so many qualities I have picked out and will always be striving to obtain.

Also, read Proverbs 3:15. I'm pretty sure it's indirectly talking about moms!

So anyway, happy mother's day to all those amazing moms!

Have a great week!

Amo sempre!
Sister McEldowney

PS. Ticks are UGLY! This one is named Lyme ;)

From the keeper of this blog -
RE: Tuesday

"Alma holds a special place in my heart. Even more so considering my missionary scripture is in there! Alma 29:9."

Before a missionary leaves on their mission, their Bishop asks them to identify a scripture that they feel defines their mission. That scripture, typically along with a picture of the missionary, is put on a plaque and hung in the church building during the term of that missionaries' service.  Kayla chose Alma 29:9 to be hers. It reads -

I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.

Also regarding Tuesday -

"Our investigator, Aaron, had his baptismal interview today..."

When someone has been meeting with the missionaries and desires to be baptized they are required to complete a baptismal interview to ensure that they have been taught and understand the doctrine that they are embracing as well as the requirements of the baptismal covenants. I have included a link to the book Preach My Gospel which missionaries use to direct their missionary work. It describes in detail the reasons for the baptismal interview.

Preach My Gospel: How Do I Prepare People for Baptism and Confirmation?

RE: Sunday


Missionaries have very strict requirements regarding their contact with family and friends. Once a week, on p-day, they are allowed and are expected to write home. Twice a year, on Mother's Day and Christmas Day, they are allowed to Skype/call home for 30 minutes. To some this strict limitation may seem brutal, but speaking from a missionary point of view it is necessary to help you keep your focus. It is so nice to see/hear your family, but it takes awhile to recover from the after effects of those calls when you go back to a stark, empty apartment while your family are all together at home. For the moms and dads, however, there is great comfort in seeing/hearing your child and getting actual confirmation that they are well. Now I understand both perspectives I see more clearly the inspired nature of the missionary program's structure.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Living and Loving the Maine Life

Hey all, so, Maine is beautiful and I love it!

Being a missionary is great and I can't believe I'm a week off from hitting my two-month mark! Exciting stuff! So, here's my weekly break down.

We had a district P-Day and basically played card games and had a failed attempt at Are You Smarter than A 5th Grader. Email time was fantastic too! SISTER ASTON WAS ONLINE! Talk about a tender mercy of the Lord! I needed that so badly and getting to chat with her was the best! We were, are, and always will be the #dynamicduo. Other than that, P-Day was just getting stuff done.

After P-Day we went to a member's home for dinner and FHE. The Peck family is awesome and I love them! They're so sweet and truly hilarious! The ward out here is awesome!

Very rarely do I get my full hour of language study, but today I did! Feliz dia! We also had an amazing lesson with one of our investigators! I'm stoked! He's the bomb and his baptism is set for a couple of weeks from now! Sister McEldowney is uma feliz campista (one happy camper)!

We had district meeting which was cool. We also traveled to Manchester for the New Missionary/Trainer Meeting. Unfortunately, not a lot of work got done.

The ride to Manchester was great though! I got to see the people in my travel group from the MTC and we all had a nice reunion...after a week haha!

New Missionary/Trainer Meeting was so grand! It was way spiritual and I can't even believe how much I learned in one day! Alma 26 is now one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon. It talks all about the Sons of Mosiah and their mission! As a missionary, I can relate. As a third party, it puts a new perspective on how missionaries feel. I highly recommend that everyone read it. After you read it, ponder its message and pray about it. I know the Book of Mormon is true and I know, without a doubt, that if you have a sincere desire to know of its truthfulness and message, you will receive the same confirmation I did just over 7 years ago.

All I have to say is that I ate deer heart...from a deer that someone hit with their car. That's right, I ate roadkill. Welcome to central Maine!

We heart-attacked our investigator! We love him and it was so fun! Missionary work is the best!

I also found an elder at the Saturday evening session of Stake Conference that speaks Portuguese! He was a visa waiter, but rejected his visa and stayed here. Either way, we spoke in Portuguese e meu coracao era mutio feliz!

A miracle in itself was going to that session! Finding a member-ride was nearly impossible, but our ward is awesome and we got to go!

Stake conference round two was awesome! I love those spiritual meetings where you just write everything, but it still isn't enough! Love love love! Elder Golder and Elder Titera, of the Seventy, were the main speakers and their messages were all about families and how to ensure that your family is staying on the path that Christ set for us. I've been thinking a lot about families and it was really cool to have another conference focused on that. It's actually been a really popular topic lately and I love it!

Well, that pretty much covers it!

I just want to end with my testimony. I know that Heavenly Father lives. I know that He loves us so He sent His only Begotten son, Jesus Christ, down to earth to atone for our sins. Jesus Christ is the only way we can get back to live with our Heavenly Father. The Atonement is the ultimate sacrifice and I am so grateful for it. The gospel of Jesus Christ is amazing! The Book of Mormon is true and I know that it contains the fullness of the gospel.

I love you all so much!

Amo Sempre, 
Sister McEldowney


From the keeper of this blog - 

RE: Monday - P-day
P-day is preparation day. Full-time missionaries work 6 days a week typically from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. One day a week is assigned for them to do their grocery shopping and laundry, clean their apartments, write to their families, participate in recreational activities, etc. Typically (there are exceptions depending on customs and issues where you serve) P-day starts at 6:30 and ends at dinnertime, usually 6:00 p.m., when missionaries are expected to "get back to work."

RE: Saturday - Heart Attack
Heart-attacking has nothing to do with eating a road-kill deer's heart! :) Simply put it's when you write messages on paper hearts and stick them to their house/door/in their yard. I actually found a blog that describes how to do this. 

RE: Saturday/Sunday: Stake Conference
On a typical Sunday, members of the church meet together in their ward or branch (a group too small to meet ward qualifications) congregations. Every 6 months all the wards/branches that comprise a stake meet as one body for Stake Conference where they are addressed by local leadership and, sometimes, members of the Seventy or Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. 

RE: Sunday - testimony
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints refer often to their testimony. Like in a court room testimony, a member's testimony is what we know based on our experience. I found a link that provides a great synopsis of what a testimony is to us.


My amazing Mission Prep companion!
(Mission Preparation is a pre-mission class that Kayla attended at BYU-Idaho)

Three favorite Elders. Last week at MTC!

We LOVE Kit-Kats! Meet Sister Davis everyone!

I love it here! How beautiful is that sunset?

Heart-attack for the win!

I finally found The Tonight Dough!