Monday, September 11, 2017

{ Savior, Redeemer of my soul }

The last time I got to Skype with my family, I was talking to Dad about how I didn't understand why I was serving for 18 months AND an extra 2 weeks. I think I may have even said something bratty like, "Uhhh, I didn't sign up for that!"
(it was during a rough time)
But he promised me something that I've held onto ever since:
"The Lord has great plans for you, I know that you'll experience some of your greatest miracles the last few weeks of your mission."
Then I got transferred for my last 6 weeks.
And again, I was a brat and wondered whhhyyyyyy.
But let me tell you how the Lord fulfilled my Dad's promise:
If I had never been transferred to Mishawaka these last 6 weeks and if I had never served these extra 2 weeks,
I never would have taught and witnessed the most beautiful conversion of my sweet Stith family.

To say that I love this family is such a freaking understatement.
I have never taught anyone who was more prepared for the gospel, who loved it more, or who truly lived it and hungered after truth.

A couple of months ago, Janet prayed that God would show her a sign...
and the next day the missionaries knocked on their door. lol.
Words will never express the experience it was to teach this family and witness the way the Lord used them to teach me.
Especially, in helping me to remember the pure, sweet truths of the gospel that make it so beautiful.

Dad, you were right. It was one of the greatest miracles of my mission.

When I was in training, fresh out on da mish, I served with a senior couple, the Winings. Elder Winings was basically my BFF and one day while I was about 3 weeks out, he said to me, "We aren't teaching these people anything new, we're helping them to remember things they once knew."
I have learned that there is power in remembrance.
There is a reason why one of the greatest covenants we will ever make with God is to always remember His Son.
Rewind 18 months (and two weeks) to the night that my Stake President set me apart as a missionary... He gave me a promise in my blessing that I have held onto my entire mission: "In the pre-mortal life, you walked and talked with the Prophets of old. On your mission, you will remember those teachings."
I know that that promise isn't just for me, but it is for all those that embark in the service of God.
It is no small thing to say everyday, "I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of Him to declare His word among His people that they might have everlasting life."
That call was given to us even before the foundations of the world so, of course, we would be prepared during that same time -- even before time began.
I know that promise is true. I have felt it.
As I have helped my investigators remember, I have become the Lord's investigator and He has helped me to remember.
Guys, the church is true.
The gospel, the plan, everything. IT'S TRUE. I will never be able to deny that.
But honestly, who cares?
There are a lot of things that are true.
The sky is blue.
That's a true fact.
I can testify that truth is powerless if faith is not added to it, if action isn't taken.
Before my mission I could say, yes, the church was true.
But now I can testify to you that this is the way to eternal life, to joy never-ending, this is the pathway home.
I have applied that faith. I have taken that action.
I know The Book of Mormon is true because I have read it and have felt the power of it in my life.
I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet because I have asked the Father, as he did, and received the confirming answer. I have seen the power of that answer in my life.
And greatest of all, I know that Jesus Christ lives, that He is the Savior of the world.
Because He is my best friend.
I testify that He is the way. He is the truth. He is the light.
Truly, what more is there to say than that?

For the last time,
Sincerely, Sister Soloa'i

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

{ H e L i v e s }

We went on about 500 exchanges this week.
But because of those exchanges, my mission is now complete.
I'll tell you.
Before I left on my mission, The Bachelor was going on. It was about half-way through Ben Higgins' season.
Sweet, sweet Ben.
I was sad to leave.
I found out that our mission covered the cutest town of WARSAW.

Finally, after e i g h t e e n months of living in Indiana I went to the hometown of Ben. 
I think I happy-danced like 50 times that day.
One of the investigators that the Warsaw sisters are working with went to school with him.
Did we ask her if she knew where he lived?
Did we tract all over that neighborhood that she told us?
Did we find and baptize Ben's family???
Yes, yes,
But I still have faith. 
It'll happen one day.

Lake Michigan is in our stake so we got to to goooo with my homegirl aaaaaaaashleeeeyy

While in Warsaw, I was with Sister Boren and she kept asking me all these questions like, "What was the greatest thing you learned from your mission?" and "What helped you the most?" and whatever.
Gurl, I'm not dead yet.
Well at one point, she asked me, "What will you miss the most?"
Ugh. My heart.
I didn't really respond.
Weeeeeeeell. Later, we went tracting and the sweetest little experience happened:
The very first house we walked up to, a man was sitting outside with his dog so we did the usual, "Heyyyy whadduuuup! We're sharing a message about Christ blah blah."
He invited us to sit on his porch with him, but he promptly let us know that he had "no faith. absolutely none. zilch. nada."
Well. Alrighty.
We continued to talk with him, found out his name was Larry, that he was a retired US marshal, and that his wife had recently passed away.
He went on to say how hard it's been without her and how he's lost all faith he ever had. 
I instantly started thinking about a million different things we could share with him about the Plan of Salvation, or opposition in all things, or eternal families...etc. 
But for whatever reason, I had the quietest prompting to just sit. And listen. 
He said some of the most heart-wrenching things about how they were supposed to grow old together, how it wasn't fair, and how could God take her from him. 
Pretty soon, this rough-looking grown man, began to cry.
Right in front of these two random, little girls.
Ohhhh, my heeearrrtt.
And still we just sat and listened.
Until finally he said, "Why would God let her die?"
And with that question, I got to respond with my simple testimony of the Savior. 
I said: "Well, why would He let his most Beloved Son die?" 
I was then able to bear my testimony of hope. That He died, so that we could live. Sometimes faith can't be found. But there will ALWAYS be hope left behind, even the smallest bit. 
And that's enough to hold onto. 
I told that complete stranger, Larry, that I loved him. And I meant that because I knew that He loved him. 
When we first met Larry, he wouldn't even accept our card, but by the end he not only accepted it, but told us to come back and shared with us how grateful he was that we stopped by.
As we walked away, I finally answered Sister Boren's question about what I would miss most: "That. I'll miss that the most. To literally act in place of the Savior."

I can never express the beauty of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, but how eternally grateful I am that I've been able to be one for the past 18 months. 

Last week, here we go!

Sincerely, Sister Soloa'i 

P.S. even the fresh prince needs the prince of peace.

Monday, August 14, 2017

{ as Jesus loves you }

The work is a thing here in Mishawaka.
We're working with several different families and there has been sooooo many miracles witnessed in just these short couple of weeks. 
All I gotta say is the field is w h i t e in Mishawaka.
Soooo yes, people are prepared.
Yes, people are growing closer to Christ.
Yes, people are accepting baptism.
Yes, we're really excited.
But let me tell you about the greatest miracle of all that happened this week for me:
Do you ever feel like life is going supaaa well and your environment is a good one, and you recognize the blessings coming your way, aaaand you're happy
for whatever reason, in the twisted thing that is life, you still feel a little sad?
I do.
For some reason, I've been in this weird funk lately.
It's annoying.
The adversary is a thing.
So there I was, at church, chillin in Relief Society and thinking about my woes. 
Feeling pretty blue.
You know, sob sob and all that jazz.
When slowly I hear through the open door of the Relief Society room the sweet sound of the Primary children down the hall singing...

  1. I’m trying to be like Jesus;
    I’m following in his ways.
    I’m trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say.
    At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice,
    But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers,
  2. “Love one another as Jesus loves you.
    Try to show kindness in all that you do.
    Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
    For these are the things Jesus taught.”

And because I'm literally the poster-child for emotion these days,
I cried.

How grateful I am for the knowledge of a Heavenly Father.
Not only a Heavenly Father, but a loving and attentive Father and Brother who know me so well.
"Love one another as Jesus loves you."

Sincerely, Sister Soloa'i 

Monday, August 7, 2017

{ b l e s s e d }

Well, first thing's first, I realized this week that I wear a lot of stripes.

Ain't no big.

Second thing I've realized is how incredibly blessed I've been to serve at Purdue these last 6 months. Words will never express the love I have for this area, the best friends I've made, the amount of time I've spent laughing (and/or crying), or the life-changing experiences I've had.
This area has probably been the area I've talked about the least and that's simply because this area is where I've been blessed the most.
Honestly, there just aren't words for that.

Basically, Purdue summed up:
"Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." - Alma 26:16

Glenda came and visited me from Westfield my last week. :) 
Glenda recently got engaged and this is her fiance, Jerry. 
Aren't they the cutest? 
Fun fact about them: Jerry's sister was Glenda's main fellowshipper during her investigating dayzzz (they're now bffs) and that's how she met Jerry.
Best moment of their visit:
Jerry: "Sister Soloa'i I can't thank you and Sister Rowley enough for knocking on Glenda's door that day." :')
Did they ask me to be the maid of honor in their wedding?
O_O yes.

With my main man Mr Purdue, himself. xoxox

Hello, Mishawaka. Hello, Sister Bradley.

Sincerely, Sister Soloa'i

Monday, July 24, 2017

{ all is well }

To those who forgot my existence (those with the last name Soloai, im lookin @ u): I'm still alive.

But it's cool.
I can respect that.
I haven't really been making myself known lately.
At the start of the end of my mission, I've been having so many sacred experiences and blessings from heaven that I haven't known how to talk about them.
So I don't.
But know that I am well and happy and overwhelmed and supremely grateful.
I've been a witness to miracle after miracle this last month.
All I really have to say is: God is good. Christ lives.
What more even is there to say?

Enjoy some proof of my existence.

look how cuuuuuute

Also, happy s e v e n t e e n months (wut).

Sincerely, Sister Soloa'i

Monday, June 26, 2017

{ h e y }

Okay. So. I realize that my blog isn't really up to date on all the happenins.
I also realize that I'm slowly losing my will power to keep up on all the happenins.

So here's the basic low-down:

Indiana is still numba one in the pretty contest

so much so, that we've been trekking all over Indiana to find places to go "hike" lol.

found some cool walls in the process

mlc happened... like. forevs ago. apparently, so did ice cream sandwiches. lol.

all of Purdue's fountains are officially on. thank you Heavenly Father, because it's SO haaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwt

spent the last shreds of happy moments with my best friend weeerrkinn hard 
(look closely in the back and you can see the dear Jehovah's Witnesses doing likewise)

but. then she went home and I bought a plant to water with my tears

got the cutest companion, Sister Kammerman

made a BFF in Ashley who is visiting Purdue for the Summer and we get to teeeeaacchh

took Ashley to the temple. did I mention she has tourrettes? lol. she will occasionally scream or beat box or whistle. picture this:
*sitting in the quiet temple*
*elders walk in*
*Ashley just so happens to do her whistling tick*
*elders look confused because it's been a hot minute since someone gave them THAT kind of attention*
me: *laughing*
*temple gets really quiet again*
*Ashley lets out blood-chilling scream*
Sister Carlson (mish pres wife): *gasps* WHAT WAS THAT?!
me: *laughing-weeping*

tried to take a cute pic with my cute new comp... never laughed so hard.

hit 16 months. weird. Sis Kam remains to be the sweetest.

and then THE greatest event happened a few weeks ago: remember me talking about Milcar and her baptism? well. that happened. hands-down best experience of my mission thus far.

My letter I wrote to my Mission President that week probs sums it up best:
Hello President!
I can't even begin to tell you how purely JOYFUL yesterday was at Milcar Diaz's baptism in Westfield. Sister Rowley and I walked into the building and it was like the entire ward couldn't get to us fast enough. It was soooooo good to see everyone and especially to come back, and truly see the work and the joy that went into that area and is still there. We were told several times how loved we are, how much we are missed, but most importantly, we were thanked again and again for the work we did in Westfield together. Now, before I seem too prideful, I think this scripture perfectly sums up both mine and Sister Rowley's feelings yesterday: "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever." We truly saw mighty miracles. Not only with the Diaz family but with many others. One including Glenda Huffer who bore her testimony for the first time on Sunday since her baptism. We love her! But, being able to watch Brother Diaz baptize his wife and watch their children speak about the covenants she's making and how its blessed them -- especially at such a young age -- will forever be the highlight of my mission. Yes, we worked hard with Milcar, but we were only a pinprick in her conversion, but how blessed we feel to be that pinprick! When Milcar came up out of the water, she closed her eyes, and did this long sigh. I think everyone in that jam-packed room did the same. So much love and prayer has gone into that beautiful family for so long and now this is just the beginning of all the blessings that Heavenly Father has just been waiting to pour out to them. At one point, Brother Diaz came up to us, told us how much he loved us, and gave us a high five with a declaration of, "Sisters! WE DID IT!"
Also, my brother and my sister-in-law are currently in the Westfield ward. I didn't talk to them for very long because we were with Milcar throughout the day. They stayed for the baptism though and at one point, my brother --the one who served so faithfully on his mission and who I've always looked up to my whole life-- pulled me aside and said how proud he was of me and the great work I've done. I couldn't help but feel like those were words echoed by my best big brother, my Savior. I truly felt of His love and of His joy in me that day. Definitely the moment I've been waiting for my whole mission.
How grateful I am to be apart of this great work. To be watching eternal families form, to be discovering the Savior in every detail of everyone's lives. I truly will praise His name forever.
It's true what they say: How sweet is the work!

blessed to be a Hoosier missionary.

Sincerely, Sister Soloa'i

Monday, May 29, 2017

{ the Father's love }

Let's get real, real quick:

Can we talk for a minute about the reality of Satan?
Can we talk about how freaking (sorry, Mum) hard life is sometimes?
I know that it's pretty taboo to talk about trials and difficulties we face, especially in today's world of pretend where we make-believe realities that aren't actually real, but just look pretty on the outside.
It's even harder to talk about weaknesses we have as missionaries. 
Wait. What.
Missionaries aren't perfect??
I can't speak for others, but I can definitely speak for myself: I'm absolutely not perfect.
On my mission, I've clearly seen every possible flaw I have, felt every insecurity I'm bound to fight through, heard every little whispering Satan had to tell me, and especially, at times, known the stifling darkness of perceived abandonment from my Heavenly Father who I thought loved me. 
At times, I have felt like my whole life, personality, beliefs, goals were all going up in smoke and I felt like I didn't have anything anymore.
And honestly, maybe they were.
Maybe, for a time, Heavenly Father allows us to feel like we have literally nothing left.
Maybe Heavenly Father lets these spiritual fires happen so that we will turn to Him, and there find blessings that we originally wouldn't have found on our own.
Maybe the purest love can only come though the pains of the purifying process. 
That was definitely true of our Savior and His atonement.

Just like these Elders in my mission turned to God during literal flames in their life, we should be doing the same amidst our spiritual fires.
Trials are meant to bring us closer to God.
Closer to Him and especially, like Him.
"He asks us to walk with Him, of course, that path goes through Gethsemane."

For several months, I feel like I've been trying to put limits on my Savior's atonement. Trying to earn it, rather than accept it and it's left me probably the darkest I've ever felt in my life.
And... no, duh.
Because we will never, ever earn the atonement of our Savior.
Honestly, it's blasphemous to even think we could be on the same playing field as the very core of creation.
I was taking the very source of light and adding my own opinion and philosophy onto it, so of course, that light was bound to get a little dimmer in my life.
But like those Elders, I began praying.
And did so patterning it after Christ's example as He went through His own darkest times: "being in an agony he prayed more earnestly."
The answer to those prayers? After several months of emptiness that I felt would never end, this statement came true in my life:
"It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s atonement shines."
And it seems the more light I notice, the more there is to find.

[ examples of His love in my life ]

He called me to serve in a state where my favorite flower is the state flower

Driving around Indiana is like driving through one of God's best landscape paintings

He blessed me with the best area in the mission, complete with beautiful architecture

He showed me the beautiful blessing of witnessing the formation of an eternal family. 
I cried more than the bride.

When I told my brothers (who are currently living in my mission) not to come and see me, but they came anyway. Heavenly Father knew I needed a hug from my big bros.

Me: I can't stop crying! 
Regan: We don't have tissues... here, use this New Zealand flag. #casual

He blessed me to serve near His home.

When Milcar (my eternagator from my last area) who hasn't progressed since I left (barely even did when I was there) decided to end her years of investigating and organized her own baptism FOR THIS WEEKEND and just casually invited me to it yesterday.
Got Sister Rowley and I like...

He introduced me to my best friend on my mission

What can I say? She's one in a melon.

So yes, Satan is real. Yes, trials are real. Yes, people aren't perfect.
But the best part is that God is real. And so is His Son. And so is their love.
In the end, our beloved Prophet says it best:
“Your Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there.”

Sincerely, Sister Soloa'i

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